Doctor Faust's Painting Clinic is brought to you by a generous donation from Brookhurst Hobbies
The ClinicOperationsThe WardExaminationsReportsThe LabReferrals






The Eldar Project

Chapter 6: Flacon Fire Prism

By Anthony Karl Erdelji

Hello my little Eldar friends! Where have you been hiding? There has been a resurging interest in Warhammer 40k at my local gaming mecha, which in turn inspired me to work on a few Eldar models and the defunct Eldar Project. I was planning on finally finishing some Swooping Hawks which have been residing as tattered bits in a cardboard box somewhere. However, since I recently tried to organize my vast collection of disassembled plastic and metal I thought a more logical approach would be to first finish a larger, more space-absorbing miniature first. Therefore, I give you the Fire Prism.

Picking up a project from years back does have its problems. First, I no longer use Coat d'arms paint, so I would need to match a few colors to the Vallejo range. Secondly, I have been staring at these Eldar for several years now and over time I have decided there are some slight changes that need to be done to the color palette to make me happy. Also my painting style has changed constantly over the years. I was not sure if I could paint something today and have it match models from several years ago. Enough talk. On with the show!

It has been years since I have worked with a Games Workshop model this old. It reminded me of how much casting quality has improved over the years. The plastic parts were fairly clean, only a few seams to scrap away with a hobby knife and then the surface was lightly sanded with a fine grade sandpaper. The metal bits for the fire prism were a different story. Pot marked and missing detail, they would take extra work to bring up to snuff.

First off, the tubing to the cannon was missing all of it ribbed detail. Fortunately, several years ago I read an article on how to make ribbed tubing and I've always wanted to give it a try.

Both tubes on the cannon arms were snipped off and thrown away. The connection ends were sanded flat with a file and pin holes drilled into each end. I took a small paper clip and using some wire (picture hanging wire) and wrapped it round and around the paperclip. Once I had enough wire wrapped around to mimic the length of the original tube I bent it into the proper shape using pliers.


A few millimeters are left bare at both ends in order to glue the tube in place in the holes drilled into the cannon arm. Overall, it was an easy fix for a badly casted part, although I think smaller wire would bend around the paperclip better.
There was still all the pot marks to fill in. Some Tamiya putty mixed with enamel thinner brushed over the surface will fill them up. A second coat was applied once the first was dry.
The next thing to fix would be the stand. There is no way the supplied flight stand would support the weight of this metal-laden model. But I could make use of the base and replace the peg with something stronger.

I took roughly two inches of .081 brass rod and glue it in place in the center hole of the flight stand. The exact length will depend on how high or low you want your Fire Prism (or Falcon) to "fly". Make sure it's straight! The rod is secured into place with a health amount of epoxy putty. This model will be top-heavy, so I glued some pennies to the base, followed by more epoxy putty for some uneven texture, some metal bits from my junk drawer, tree bark for rocks, and a resin fallen tree.

To be honest, a common household nail it more ideal than a brass rod. The head of the nail ran thru the bottom of the base gives a lot of support and it is far easier to get the entire assembly to stand straight. However I did not have any decently long nails lying around, so I made due with the brass rod. Anyway, back to the project at hand...


For the end going into the Fire Prism, I need some square brass tubing. Two different sizes are needed, one that will slide into the other tube. I used 1/8th inch and 5/32nd inch. Cut a hold into the bottom of the fire prism to accommodate the larger 5/32nd tube. About an inch worth is glued and puttied into place on the inside of the fire prism.

The smaller tube is glued over the round tube already on the base. I would need a stopper to hold the vehicle at the proper height. Normally I would simply crimp or putty up the end of the tube in the vehicle, but I had an extra piece left over from the Falcon version of this kit that would make a good stopper. I drilled a hole thru the center of it and glued it upside-down onto the rod before gluing the square tubing into place.


Bottom view of the connector.

I should point out I took extra care to insure the rod mounted inside the Fire Prism body was perfectly straight. However there is nothing saying that you can't angle the rod in order to have the model turning, pitching, yawing, or flying up or down.



Fast forward and here is the finished base.


Now I can move onto the Fire Prism itself. This model would be painted in subassemblies for ease of handling. The top and bottom section would remain separate until the just before the very end of the project. One part I did fully assemble beforehand was both sides of the cannon/turret assembly, which I quickly realized was a mistake. The weight and odd shape made it difficult to handle and paint.

Wash all the parts down (except the canopies) with some household degreaser (Formula 409) and warm water. Allow it to dry overnight and then prime all the parts (again, except the canopies) with black auto primer.

Back when I was working on The Eldar Project fulltime, I already painted up a Falcon which never made it into an article. I still like the blocked colored panels so I would be using the same scheme on the Fire Prism with some slight alterations. The second benefit of this color scheme is that I can highlight each individual panel instead of using a standard overhead lighting technique which on such a large, flat model, would be very difficult.


I'm starting off with the major color first. A mix of Vallejo Model Color Blue Violet with a tiny touch of black is applied over a majority of the model using a large #6 flat brush. Then straight VMC Blue Violet is brushed over the same areas. I've noticed that VMC Blue Violet is a little transparent and its final shade can be greatly affect by the color beneath. So the first mix of VMC Blue Violet and VMC Black is more of a transitional layer to brighten up the final coat rather than a shade layer.
The Blue Violet gets highlighted three times, adding a bit more of Vallejo Game Color Wolf Gray each time. The highlights are applied along the edges of all the panels. The first layer is roughly 1/8th inch along the edges using just a tiny pinch of VGC Wolf Gray.
The second layer is a little more VGC Wolf Gray added and applied just a couple of millimeters along the edge.
Finally, A slightly heavier amount of VGC Wolf Gray is added and this is applied very carefully just to the very edges of the panels.

I will be the first to admit that my painting style tends to go light on the contrast, with subtle rather than stark color transitions. If you want more contrast try substituting White for VGC Wolf Gray for the last highlight.

The darker panels are painted in the same manner, except using VMC Oxford Blue and VGC Wolf Gray. Again, the panels are highlights three times, adding more VGC Wolf Gray each time.
The final main color is VMC Dark Blue Gray. This is the only color that required some shade because it would mainly be applied to the highly textured underside of the craft. A mix of VMC Dark Blue Violet, VMC German Gray and VGC Stormy Blue is brushed on, making sure to get it in all the deep ridges.
Then straight VMC Dark Blue Gray is applied, leaving the previous layer in the recesses under the wing and around the engines. It was easier to paint the front ribbed area by drybrushing. My results were a little messy, but it can be easily cleaned up later.


Two highlights by adding VGC Wolf Gray finish the job.

Now let's turn our attention to the top of the wings. I planned to basecoat this area with VMC Dark Blue Gray, but I also wanted to "spice" the area up with some sort of painted design. Unfortunately, after testing out several different patterns out on paper I could not come up with one I liked that worked with the multi colored panels. It was like trying to mix stripes with polka dots. In the end I went with something much more simple and akin to my Falcon.

The panels are painted with VMC Dark Blue Gray and highlighted with VGC Wolf Gray just like the underside, but using many, many more layers. Working from the "inside" side of the panels to the outside there are roughly ten highlight layers. When I couldn't get any lighter by adding VGC Wolf Gray I switched to VMC White for the last few highlights.

The final step is adding a tiny touch of VMC Black to the original VMC Dark Blue Gray and applying a small amount of shade towards the back of each panel.

The pilots get painted next. They would mostly be hidden by the canopies, so I did not put a lot of effort into painted them. Each was basecoated with the same colors used on the ship, got a wash of Black Ink, and a single highlight.



Now comes the cannon. This mottled pattern is best achieved using a sea sponge, but can also work using a large, old brush. The sponge is lightly dipped into each color one at a time, the excess wiped off on an old cloth, then it is dabbed over the prism. The trick is to go very light with each layer. We want each color to be showing, so don't cover up too much. First I applied three different shades of dark green. The exact colors didn't matter, I just grabbed three random dark green colors from my paint box. Then Vallejo Model Color Emerald, my other main colors for my Eldar army, is dabbed on.
A health amount of VMC White is added to the VMC Emerald and this is dapped on again, this time concentrating towards the end of the cannon. Finally, pure VMC White is dabbed on just the very tip and a brush is used to apply the white along the edges of the crystal.  Next it gets two thin washes with Green Ink, avoiding the white areas. Then the white areas get two thin washes of a mix of Green and Yellow Ink.

The rest of the turret and gun arms are painted the same at the rest of the body of the Fire Prism, except the VMC Oxford Blue areas also received a wash of Black Ink due to all the texture.

Next the decals are applied. Originally, I planned to deck out the entire vehicle with decals like a rally car. However in the end I couldn't find enough decals that I liked and fit with my colors scheme, so I just used a few. Instructions for applying decals can be found here.

The gems were also painted at this stage using VGC Dark Green and VGC Stormy Blue as the main colors. Details can be found in a previous chapter.

At this point I checked the model for any messy areas and refined/ touched up as necessary.

Time to paint the panel lines, or the gaps between the panels. Lately I have been working with military plastic model kits and I have picked up a few ideas that can be used on gaming models. A black wash of enamel paint works great for picking out panel lines, so I decided to use it here. An enamel wash has two advantages over an acrylic or ink wash. First, it flows much better than an acrylic wash. Just touch a brush loaded with the wash to the panel line and it easily flows along the length of the crevasse. Second, it is easy to clean up mistakes. A cotton swab lightly moistened with enamel thinner and gently rubbed on any escaping wash will remove it without damaging the acrylic paint underneath.

A thick wash of Testors enamel Black and enamel thinner is applied along the panel lines and allowed to dry for 15 minutes. Then a cotton swab moistened with enamel thinner is used to clean up any mistakes. This process was repeated twice for maximum effect.

The mechanical bit on the top, hatch handles, and engines were also painted black, but using traditional acrylic paint.

Onto the canopies. The clear styrene used to make these are very susceptible to scratches. This is especially true with Games Workshop who carelessly toss the unprotected clear plastic into the box along with the rest of the sprues. Both my canopies had a large scratch running down its entire length along with several other smaller nicks and scratches. Fortunately, we can take care of these scratches using Future Floor Polish. Brush some FFP onto the canopy and allow to dry. This will fill in most of the scratches and leaves the plastic nice and shiny.

Now to paint the frame of the canopy. The original plan was to paint this Blue Violet, the same as the main body. However after painting the Black undercoat I discovered a darker color look really nice. So instead I painted them VMC Oxford Blue with two highlights. This was followed by a layer of brush-on flat lacquer.


Time now to assemble the two halves. The ideal way to do this is to use white glue. Run a small bead of white glue around the bottom piece, press together with the top, secure with some rubber bands, and clean up any running glue with a moist brush or towel. My only problem was that I screwed up. At some point during this project while moving the model and my desk lamp around my desk I got one too close to the other and I ended up warping one of the wings. I tried to heat it back up to bend it back into shape, but to no avail. I ended up needing to use superglue and heavy clamps to assemble the two halves together. I ended up with dripping glue and scratched paint. Quick tip; heat and plastic ain't friends. Anyway, back to work.

I would need some extra support for the Fire Prism cannon. Epoxy putty is used inside the turret to hold the cannon arms into place before gluing together the rest of the turret. I used a blob of poster tack to hold the cannon at the proper height until the putty cured.

Once everything (expect the canopies) is assembled and cured the model gets two light coats of Testors Lusterless Flat.

With the lacquer cured the canopies can be glued into place using a tiny amount of white glue. I clipped off the hinge at the back of the canopy in order to slip it into place.

Normally at this point, with the flat coat applied I'd wrap up the article and wave goodbye as the credits roll. However I had a couple more things to do before calling it quits.

The first thing to do was to apply some brush-on gloss lacquer into all the gems, including the Prism Cannon. The second thing was a bit more experimental...

As I stated earlier, for the past several months I have been very interested in plastic models. I already used one of "their" techniques, the black enamel wash, with great success. Another technique I have been wanting to try involves using graphite powder. In the military model world graphite powder is used to give a subtle metallic sheen to metal items such as gun barrels or tank tracks. I decided to try this on the engines and hatch latches.

The graphite I got in stick form from my local arts & craft store. It is hard stuff, but I managed to grind it into powder using a mortar and pestle I use exclusively for grinding chalk and pastels. DON'T USE THE ONE SITTING IN YOUR KITCHEN!!! An alternative method would be to rub the graphite on a piece of paper until you build up enough powder. A little goes a long way.

I masked off areas of the hull to avoid spillover. Then I dipped a cotton swap into the powder (or rub the swab on the paper) and shake off any excess. Lightly rub the powder on the black areas. On the engines I concentrated more on the exhaust ports.

Blow off any excess powder and then lightly buff with a clean cloth, or a cotton swab for the hard to reach areas.


The results of the graphite was a very subtle metallic sheen. Perhaps too subtle for a gaming model. It might look good on a Panzer, but it loses its impact on a brightly colored gaming model. Too add a bit more contrast I went with another military model technique; Rub n' Buff metallic wax.

This stuff is applied the same way as the graphite; a small amount applied using a cotton swab. A tiny amount of this stuff REALLY goes a long way, so wipe any excess off before applying it to the model. You can always apply more if you want more metallic, but it you apply too much you're stuck.

Finally the buffing parts comes in using a cotton swab or cotton cloth.

Here is the end results of the graphite and Rub n' Buff. The results are still a bit subtle, but it does an excellent job reflecting the light as you move around the model.
Now I can call the project done. It was rather fun going back to a well worn project. Working from an established paint scheme meant I didn't waste time starring at the model wondering what colors to use. Overall, painting this model made me feel very "comfortable". Plus I think I improved on the old Eldar Project paint scheme.

This was only my third time using an enamel wash for the panel lines. My first two times trying it did not come out as good as this, but then again those models didn't have such massive, easy-to-fill, panel lines.

Graphite powder is too subtle for this kind of project, but I think the Rub n" Buff could have potential if used properly. However I am not sure about its durability. It is quite possible that the graphite and/or Rub n' Buff could wear away from handling of the model. I purposely did not use either on any of the "handling" areas of the model, but only time will tell if they hold up.

Signing out!