Building an Isorian Army 6: Painting the Mahran Vesh

Zac Beldan continues his fantastic series of assembling and painting an Isorian army with the Mahran Vesh combat drone. His previous article on assembling the drone can be found here.

Painting the Isorian Mahran Vesh MV5 combat drone

Ready for some primer and paint!
Ready for some primer and paint!

The techniques used to paint an infantry model or even a large infantry figure do not always apply to larger models like the Mahran Vesh. You can use them but often the effect isn’t the same. The main reason for this is that a large model has much more flat surface area that will interact with washes and shades to either pool up or colour the areas in a way that you don’t want. The same is true for drybrushing. Often on a smaller model the areas we want to highlight are the highest areas on the model. On a vehicle there are raised surface areas that we don’t want to give a highlight to or that drybrushing will cause to look streaked and unnatural.

There are a lot of sections to paint on this model so there are a lot more steps than in the previous Isorian painting articles. I am also describing them out of sequence since I tend to paint things of a similar colour at the same time and this doesn’t provide for an easily navigable narrative. So if the images that accompany the article don’t look as if they follow the descriptions then this is the reason for that. If you haven’t painted a large vehicle before it might be useful to plan out your colours ahead of time and then paint by the colour and not let the physical parts dictate the process. This lets you save a lot of time with washes and highlights as you won’t need to go back and redo the same wash and highlights for multiple separate parts.

Priming

The first step before painting is to prime the model and in this case we will do this with two different types of spray primer. The drone and the turrets are first given a coat of Plastic Soldier Company Russian Armour primer. Once this has dried it is given quick stripes of US Olive Drab primer. This is the same colour that was used on the Phase Sniper and it is being used to add a colour reference back to that model but also to break up the Russian Armour colour. Large objects reflect light in different ways making even relatively flat looking objects like a car have varied colours across them. Adding some light streaks of another colour helps to create this effect without requiring us to paint excessive highlights onto the surface of the drone.

Mahran Vesh primed
Mahran Vesh primed

There are several ways that you can do this. You can take a large piece of cardstock and cut out a strip and use that as a mask to spray a strip across the Mahran Vesh. Or you can just spray it freehand and apply the primer to the far ends of the model. In either case, you want to make sure that you keep the spray can further away from model to make sure that the colour is feathered and blends into the existing coloured primer.

Those of you with airbrushes can ignore this advice and just do all the cool airbrush tricks you normally do.

Stippling

I want to add some further detail to break up the surface of the model and the turrets but I don’t want to spend a lot of time doing highlights or a lot of detailed painting. The quickest way to do this is to stipple the surface of the model to add visual detail and break up the large sections of colour on the body. There are several good videos on YouTube that demonstrate the concept visually. You should check out this video in particular (on YouTube) before going on further in the article.

The Mahran Vesh has a rather large amount of surface area that I want to break up and I don’t want to do the entire surface so instead of using a brush I will be using foam. If I was doing a smaller area or was going to cover the entire surface I would use a brush but in this case a piece of foam will do. This is a technique that I also use to weather model so whenever I get a new blister pack of models I take the foam in the blister and put it aside to use to later.

You take a piece of foam and rip the edges away until you have an irregular surface. Dip that in your paint and then use a cloth to wipe almost all of it off. It is similar to how you clean a brush to drybrush a figure. I am not using any colours in particular just yellow and green tones that are similar to the base coat but either darker or lighter. Once I have a piece of foam ready (stipple the edge of your thumb or thumbnail to test) I select a few areas and dab the foam to create an irregular area about 3cm long and wide that has the colour distributed across it. I pick a few more across the surface of the body of the Mahran Vesh and then one or two spots across the turrets.

Now all that needs to be done is to repeat this same process, across the same areas, with some darker or lighter colours. You won’t need to stipple as much of these additional colours but what you want to do is to apply them so that they break up the original colour and create a diffuse texture. If it works out well the larger colour blocks on the body and turrets will be covered with a swath of texture that will break up the base colour but not stand out so much that it draws the eye.

Washing

I want to wash the model but I don’t want to wash the entire model as I would with a small infantry model or even one of the Tsan Ra figures. That is how you get wash pooling or get parts of the model getting discoloured. What I am going to do is use a small brush to paint the wash into the deeper areas of the model and then use a second, wet, brush to clean up any drips, or overflow. In order to flow properly we need to thin down the wash slightly. I am using GW Agrax Earthshade on the Mahran Vesh and I add a touch of water to make it flow better. If you have access to an art supply store you might want to look into getting some flow release. This is a product that artists use to make their paints flow better. A small bottle of it will last you a significant amount of time as you only need a few drops in a wash.

A pin wash applied to the parts
A pin wash applied to the parts

Take this wash and gently apply it to any depressions in the body of the model and the details in the turrets. Once that is dry it is time to do a quick attachment of the turrets to make sure that everything looks okay at this point.

It is simple to assemble because of magnets.
It is simple to assemble because of magnets

First colours

So it looks nice but a touch monochromatic so its time to put some base colours on the model and the turrets. The main body and the turrets have a leafy texture on them and I’ve decided to paint those Army Painter Alien Purple. The ‘engine coils’ on the body and the areas underneath the purple leafs on the turrets get a coat of GW Squig Orange. On the front of the body there are several sections of instruments and mechanical details. Those, as well as the weapons on the turrets, get a coat of Vallejo Grey Green. At the tip of each wing is a small embedded tubule that gets a coat of GW Reikland Fleshshade. Each of the turrets has similar protrusions on them and they get the same colour applied to them.

Once everything has dried it is time to give them all an appropriate wash. All of the Squig Orange, and Fleshshade areas get a wash of Agrax Earthshade. The Grey Green areas get some Nuln Oil applied to them and the purple sections get a wash of Army Paint Purple Tone. Since almost all of these areas overlap other colours a bit of patience is necessary to avoid having the washes run into areas where you don’t want them.

First colours applied to the various parts
First colours applied to the various parts

Highlights

I wasn’t happy with my previous purple highlight options with the other models I have done for this force so I went out and bought some GW Genestealer Purple to use as the first purple highlight colour. There are a lot of purple areas between the main body and the turrets so using a pre-made colour makes it easier to do the highlights in small groups and still have a consistent colour. The rest of the colours get the same highlights as I have done with the previous models in the army. The only real difference is that there are quite a few areas that require highlights on this model. The benefit of stippling and washing the main body means that I can focus on the non-green areas to provide highlights. This should help those sections pop from the main body as well. All the various tubules on the turret and body get a highlight of Reikland Fleshshade and then a small spot highlight of Vallejo Pearl.

Highlights applied to the various coloured sections of the main body
Highlights applied to the various coloured sections of the main body

The only different section, in terms of highlights, that is on the Mahran Vesh, are the ‘energy coils’ along the wings of the vehicle. To build up the colour on these sections I layer the lighter colours on top of each other allowing some of the previous colour to show underneath. These are fairly large areas so I want the colours to blend somewhat but I don’t want to have to take the time to actually blend them. I will use three colours, GW Fire Dragon Bright, GW Averland Sunset and Army Painter Yellow, adding a small bit of water to make them slightly more runny, and transparent, than normal and then carefully add the colours making sure that the colours don’t run into the depressions. This can be a touch tricky sometimes and it is better to have paint that has less water than more as you can fix the former a lot easier. The Fractal Cannon, PLS and Plasma Cannon turret have some areas under the purple armour that also get highlighted with the same colours.

Turrets

There are three sections on the turrets that will need special attention. On the Fractal Cannon there is a nodule where the cannon connects to the turret. This gets a base of GW Averland Sunset. While I have the colour out I also paint the area behind the Plasma Cannon with the same colour. When both sections are dry they get a wash of Agrax Earthshade. The area behind the Plasma Cannon will get highlights when I paint the rest of the Mahran Vesh body. The nodule on the Fractal Cannon has the same variegated pattern that the Phase Sniper does so I use the same technique to paint them. Before doing that though I get a small brush and put some dots of Averland Sunset in-between the variegated sections to highlight the node.

Details of the node on the Fractal Cannon turret
Details of the node on the Fractal Cannon turret

The Compression Cannon turret has four veined tubes that connect to the weapon. I start by giving them a base of Army Painter Necrotic Flesh and then a wash of Agrax Earthshade. Once this is dry I highlight the tubes with a 1:1 mix of Vallejo Game Colour Dead Flesh and Necrotic flesh and then add some Vallejo Pearl to the final highlight.

The last item on the turrets are the small energy pods. They all get a basecoat of Valejjo Pearl as does the energy pod at the tail of the Mahran Vesh’s body. Once this is dry I create a very thin wash of Army Painter Magic Blue. I make sure that it is quite translucent and then paint the bottom two-thirds of the pods as well as around the edges on the body. After the wash has had a minute or two to dry repeat the process once or twice more but paint closer to the body each time so that the wash builds up but the top is left almost untouched. . The wash will build up to give a nice glow effect that will be accentuated by the top of the pod being just the Pearl colour.

The three turrets with highlights
The three turrets with highlights

Finishing the body

The Mahran Vesh is almost done except for some details at the nose of the model. There are six large depressions that we need to add some colour or details to. I have already used Averland Sunset for some of the incidental parts of the turrets and all of the army has GW Khorne Red on some part of the models so that are the colours I will use. There are two small depressions right next to where the wings attach to the body. For some reason I didn’t paint those. No idea why.

A closeup of the nose depressions with highlights
A closeup of the nose depressions with highlights

Both yellow, even the darker Averland Sunset, and red are notorious for requiring multiple coats to get good coverage and this even more the case with large areas. So when I basecoat these areas I make sure that the paint is fairly thin (loose but not runny) so I can get multiple thin coats on the areas without building up too much paint. I had to paint three coats before I had nice even coverage but happily the thinned paint dries quickly.

Once the paint was fully dry I did a wash of thinned Agrax Earthshade similar to how I washed the depressions on the main body previously. This time I want to make sure that the wash just settles into the edges of each coloured section to give it some definition. You want to be especially careful on the yellow sections as the wash will be difficult to cover. The last step is to paints some highlights on the edges of these areas. For the yellow sections I used a 1:1 mix of Averland Sunset and yellow followed by a slight yellow highlight. For the red sections I use a 1:1 mix of Khorne Red and Fire Dragon Bright followed by just Fire Dragon Bright.

 

And we're done
And we’re done
Another view of the completed model
Another view of the completed model