Thursday, 21 March 2013

Tau in 6th (Part 3 Airbrushing a Devilfish step by step)

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted, but I thought it was about time I did a tutorial on how I am painting my Tau tanks, and also show the final finished item with weathering and chipping.

The first thing to say is that getting a decent airbrush and compressor is quite an expense to initially set up. I would suggest asking somebody who has one to try it out before buying. However once this is paid for, and if you look after it properly it will last you forever.

There are 2 main reasons to use an airbrush in my eyes and they are speed, and the smoothness of the coat of paint.

Anyway enough of that into the step by step guide.

Undercoat: So to start my devilfish I went with a standard GW black undercoat it’s important to get a good coverage on here due to the fact you are using thin paint through an airbrush and it won’t cling to any non undercoated bits.

Basecoat: For the base coat I used Vallejo Model Air, Cam Light Brown. The great thing with using the model air range is that you don’t need to thin them down.  I spray the full model with this.

Masking: Using masking tape from any hardware shop I cut to the shapes I want and make sure to take a bit of the stick off of this. It is important to allow proper drying time between coats of paint or you can end up with a mess.

Second basecoat: Once you are happy with the masking you can then put on the second basecoat to finish the camo. For this I used Model Air Dark Sand. Once dry take off all the masking tape and you will have the finished camo basecoat.

Engine parts: I then use GW Chaos Black, with a small amount of Shadow Grey mixed in and diluted with airbrush thinner and airbrush this onto the exhausts and engine parts as well as the weapons.

Lighting effect: For this I use 2 layers of airbrushing 1 of diluted GW Sybarite Green over the lit up area, I then use the same colour but mix in white at a 50/50 ratio and spray this on a smaller area right on the light itself.

Chipping effect: To get the chipping effect I use a sponge and plain old Chaos Black, once I have done this I paint some larger areas of black to show bigger battle damage. I then use a Boltgun Metal to paint inside these bigger areas to show the metal structural makeup of the tank.

I then finish off the model by highlighting the lighting effect and black lining the armour plates.

So here we have the finished model.

I hope this has been useful, any comments are welcome, and also if anyone would like me to do a tutorial on anything else please let me know.



  1. Amazingly simple, but awesome effect. I am in the process of doing the same and tbh... Have been holding off awaiting this very post!

    Question. I have marked up and done the base coats on my vehicles.. Do you think the process will transfer to traditional crisis suits with masking tape for the camo? Or should I use blue tac as it is more flexible o smaller surfaces... O is it worth getting specialist masking tape to create a digital camo on suits?

    Thanks for putting this up rich.. It's sweet man!

  2. Thanks Ven yea i was pleased with the outcome and hope it helps. With regards to the question it depends if your camo is going to be straight edges or not? If your doing curved camo like standard army i would use bluetac, however if your trying to get straight lines on the crisis i would say try micropore its like a medical tape very thin (just an idea as i havent tryed this). You can do it with normal masking tape but it is painfuly longwinded trying to get the tape to stay on tight over all the bumps.


    1. I have marked it out with masking tape on the devilfish/hammerhead/skyrays.. am about to do the same on the scratchbuilt Barracuda and Piranha fleet..
      But I have not decided on the suits..
      I think it may look too 'at odds' with the rest of the army if I dont do angular camo.. but I think bluetac may be easier.
      I am familiar with micropore.. I'd not considered it due to its semi-porous nature...thought paint might seep through?

      Another question (sorry mate!) - blacklining.. this is not something I've done before.. do you just paint it in with either watered down paint or dark wash, or do you use a pen?

      Hmm.. whilst we are at it, would you recommend airbrushing a highlight over the tanks or just whacking on one coat to create the camo?

      I was planning on creating the camo with a lighter tone, then leaving the tape in place whilst I airbrushed a lighter tone over this.. then remove the tape.. just cause I really love the staple airbrush fade..

  3. Yea your right if you have done angular camo on the others then I would do it on the suits. I think you could do it with blue tac if you wanted, I would just advise using a really sharpe knife to get a straight edge on the bluetac. You may be right with the micropore I havent used it for this so not sure and its possibly just as tricky to use as the masking tape.

    Blacklining is litraly just using a bit of watered down chaos black paint (I like it to be a bit thicker than a wash but you have to be more acurate) and a small brush and running it through all the gaps in the plates. Basically it just give you a bit more shading.

    With regards to putting a gradient on I wouldnt advise it. This is due to the fact that you would need to put the exact same level of gradient on both colours of the camo which would be difficult. If you do the black round the engines and the lighting effect the will give you a sort of gradiation anyway. This is one of the reasons I do the chiped effect to make up for the lack of graduation on the armour. If it was a single colour tank I would always advise an airbrush fade.

    Look forward to seeing your stuff mate.

    1. Nice...thanks Rich.
      I'm pretty much just ripping off the classic tau colour scheme from GW but throwing in camo and doing simply with my airbrush.
      I like the airbrush "glow" I got on my Necrons and just want to put a blue version of that on the guns.
      Ripping you off too to be honest bud!

      I'll get it up on the blog in a little over a week, out of country for a bit with work.

      Whats the plan for you next? More stuff or keeping the core that you have and awaiting the codex?

  4. Cool man look forward to seeing them, dont forget to credit me :p.

    Im gona keep going on core i have to get it up to the same level as this and i got a converted ethereal i wana get painted up. That should set me up with a good starting point for the future.