Building an Isorian Army 4: Painting the Phase Sniper

Zac Beldan continues his series on building and painting an Isorian army. The previous installment on the Tsan Ra can be found here!

Building and Painting the Isorian Phase Sniper

The Isorian Phase Sniper is the one model that, for me, epitomizes the Isorian faction. I am not sure if it was the first model from the faction that I saw but it was certainly the one that made the biggest impression on me. Both the science fiction nature of the faction as well as the tech-organic nature of the Isorians are on display. The sniper’s phase rifle is suspended above the ground and the operator is wearing a helmet and body suit that is covered with a variegation of biological elements that imply a camouflage suit. The fact that the sniper rifle distorts time to allow it to fire multiple, simultaneous shots is also a delicious touch.

Getting started

The unit is a snap to assemble. The rifle itself is a single piece and the operator comes in two parts; a body and a head. The contact point between the two parts is large enough that it can just be glued and doesn’t need to be pinned. After cleaning up the figures I drilled the flight stand hole in the bottom of the rifle to make it a touch longer so I could temporarily glue the rifle to a brass rod with some PVA glue to facilitate priming.

While I want the Phase Sniper to match the rest of the army I also want it to look distinct. You are only allowed one in your army so I want it to stand out. To that end I decided to use the Plastic Soldier Company Infantry Spray US Olive Drab. It is still a natural looking green tone but it is obviously different from the rest of the troops without being too distinct. I start out by spraying the operator as well as the sniper rifle with this primer. The Spotter Drone that comes with the unit was painted the same way as my previous drones. I don’t want to have to dig around and find the ‘correct’ Spotter for the Phase Sniper.

The models are left overnight for the primer to dry and cure. I don’t know that I necessarily need this much time but I feel more comfortable letting the primer get the additional drying. Before painting I take the sniper rifle from the brass rod and attach it to its base and flight stand. Once they are ready, I give both models a wash of Agrax Earthshade and let that dry for a few hours. There is a lot of surface detail on both of these models that will either be painted a different colour or has the fern-like camouflage pattern on it so there is no need to try to re-establish the base colour via drybrushing. Both models therefore just get a light drybrush of Necrotic Flesh to provide a highlight.

First colours

The barrel of the sniper rifle as well as the pistols carried by the operator are given a coat of Vallejo Grey Green followed by a wash of GW Nuln Oil. The tail on the operator’s helmet is also painted and washed in the same manner. As with the rest of the models the tubules on each model are painted with P3 Midlund Flesh and then given a wash of GW Reikland Fleshshade. I want to have the crenelated back of the operator’s helmet be the same ivory colour that I have used so it gets a basecoat of GW Fenris Grey. I also paint the energy sources on the rifle and the operator in the same colour. Once those parts are dry I give them a wash with GW Guilliman Blue to deepen the colour in the recesses and make it seem like it has a slight glow. Its not as good as blending a glow effect but it looks, to my eyes, just as good on the tabletop.

Details

The sniper rifle has under-armour sections that are similar to the Phase trooper and so I pick those out with GW Squig Orange. There are also sections like this along the barrel of the rifle. They are quite small compared to the section on the rifle body and so I grab a smaller detail brush to paint those.

ZB Phase Sniper - rifle under armour
Sniper rifle with under-armour details painted

The operator doesn’t have these sections so while the Squig Orange is drying I paint the back of her helmet with Vallejo Ivory. I make sure to leave some of the washed areas showing so it has a darker shadow. At this point I realize that I forgot the tubules and under-body sections on the weapons and so I quickly pick them out with the appropriate colours. There is a fairly distinct plasma coil on the pistols but I decide not to paint it as I don’t want to have it distract from the paint scheme I have for the rest of the armour. Once the Ivory has dried I give it a wash of 1:1 Army Painter Soft Tone and water. As with the other models I want the white sections to have a slight brown tone to make them look more organic.

ZB Phase Sniper - operator wash blue
Operator with a blue wash on the helmet and energy sections

I continue to paint the under-armour sections on the sniper rifle using the same colours as previous. The only change here is that the section in the rifle require a smaller detail brush and a lighter touch. There is a cloak around the neck and shoulders of the operator which I give a quick coat of GW Khorne Red and then a wash with Agrax Earthshade. This turns out to be a lot darker than I wanted and if I was going to do something similar in the future I might use Army Painter Soft Tone or perhaps mix the Agrax Earthshade with water. I do the same thing with the ridges on the top of the sniper rifle. There isn’t as much area here for the wash to pool though so it doesn’t darken in the same fashion that the cloak does. Lesson learned.

Highlights

They Grey Green sections on the sniper rifle and the operator get a small highlight of Grey Green on the raised surfaces. The Nuln Oil wash has darkened those sections so the Grey Green now works as a subtle highlight. The plasma pistols and the sniper rifle barrel get the same colour highlight. The Ivory section on the operator’s helmet gets an Ivory highlight and then a thin line of P3 White. The red sections on the models get an initial highlight with GW Evil Sun Scarlet and then Fire Dragon Bright. The final highlight is just a small line at the top of each of the edges of the model.

The energy sources on both models are brightened with a small circle of Fenris Grey and then two small circles of Ivory mixed 1:1 with water. The paint is thin and the second, smaller circle, is painted after the first has a few minutes to dry. It gives a blend effect without having to blend. The tubules were given a highlight of Vallejo Flat Flesh. Some of the tubes picked up a lot of the Fleshwash and so I first had to re-establish the Midlund Flesh colour and then add the highlight.

Variegated pattern

The fern-like pattern over the operator’s armour and the sides of the sniper rifle posed a problem. Initially I wanted to paint it red on the bottom, then a dark brown in the middle and finally a light blue on the top to make it look as if it was reflecting the environment around it. I still think that would look quite impressive but I don’t know that I have the steady hands to do that. There is an additional problem in that the pattern itself doesn’t, at least for me, allow for smooth painting of lines along its structure.

Instead I decided to try to make it look as if the variegation was caused by the suit’s energy diffracting the light around to try to hide the operator and the rifle. To do this I took several lighter, pastel-like colours and painted small sections of the fern pattern with small spots of the colour. I tried to randomize how I did that and spread the colours around the models so that there wasn’t any one single large spot of any colour.

Final Steps

There are same small armour plates on the front of the operator and these get painted in the same manner as the ‘teeth’ on the sniper rifle. First a base of Army Painter Necrotic Flesh then a small layer of Game Colour Dead Flesh, leaving some of the base showing, and finally a small highlight of Ivory. The last item to paint are the lenses on the operator’s helmet. There are two large ones and a very small one in the middle of the helmet. I have an inconsistent way of painting lenses. All of the lenses get a basecoat of a medium blue. In this case I am using GW Kantor Blue. I want the lenses to be brighter at the top and darken as it moves to the bottom so I add a crescent of a darker blue to the bottom of the lens and then a slim crescent of black at the very base. The top of the lens gets a crescent of a lighter blue, GW Thousand Sons, and then a small dot of white. The smaller lens only gets a slight black line and then a dot of white as it is far too small to paint in this fashion.

Basing

Prior to doing any basing I paint the inset portion of the bases as well as the bottom of the flight stand in a dark red-brown. The texture paint I use has a tendency to create very deep cracks and I want there to be a similar colour on the base to cover that up.

I am using GW Martian Ironcrust as a texture paint for the bases on my Isorian army. You can see my previous article for a discussion about some of the issues I ran into using the GW texture paints. Since this is a texture paint I use a sculpting tool to apply the paint to the bases and then even it out. I let it dry overnight and then give it a wash of Agrax Earthshade to provide some depth. I let this dry longer than I would with a wash on a figure as the paint tends to absorb the wash and I want to make sure it is fully dry.

The finished phase sniper and its rifle and spotter
The completed phase sniper and rifle with spotter

Zac’s articles continue with some great tips on assembling the Mahran Vesh combat drone.