If you’ve been following any of my posts earlier in the year, or via my G+ page you’ll have seen I’ve been steadily working my way through the Imperial faction troops from Fantasy Flight’s Imperial Assault core game. Despite ostensibly being board game miniatures, the quality of the designs and production is every bit as good as I’ve come to expect from Fantasy Flight, who since X-Wing have been steadily moving up in my estimation. It’s no secret that coming from a wargaming background I’m probably a miniature collector (hoarder!) and painter first, gamer second. As gaming time and particularly gaming space is much more of a premium these days, I find myself thinking back to the days when I used to play Heroquest or Dune. Both great games that you could easily fit into an evening with minimal setup or tear down fuss. Imperial Assault helps scratch that itch, but obviously it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t at least make a token attempt to paint the miniatures within to help it feel more like a tabletop skirmish game. That said, I equally didn’t want to invest anywhere near the same amount of time of effort as I would for a game such as Infinity. For one the miniatures just aren’t manufactured to those sorts of specifications. A quick online search turned up a series of excellent painting videos by Sorastro which have very quickly become something of a de-facto way to paint the Imperial Assault contents and are highly recommended. Sorastro’s approach is very time and material efficient, making use of tried and tested techniques such as washes, layering and glazes often encountered in Games-Workshops own guides. A similar end result is also achieved which gives an idea just how decent the figures can turn out when combined with clever choices of colour and medium. My only criticism of the miniatures is in the material, which for some strange reason feels inferior (softer) for the Imperial faction than that used on the ‘Hero’ and character packs. Rather odd, but not a deal breaker.
Principally I’ve followed Sorastro’s approach throughout as I saw no reason to reinvent the wheel, however I deviated in two places specifically; the bases and the painting of the AT-ST. More on those later.
Although the simplest in appearance, the Stormtroopers are probably the most labour intensive as there is no getting away from the fact they need around three layers of highlighting to get a decent white for the armour. Rather than colour the base rims, I’ve indicated the different Stormtroopers patrols via orange or slate blue right shoulder armour. Unfortunately the light was a bit too close when I took these so a lot of the contrast in the white got washed out, but hopefully you get the idea.
The Imperial Probe Droids are pretty much just the wash and highlight method described in Sorastro’s guide, as are the E-Web Gunners.
For the Imperial Officers I followed a similar method, but chose a different uniform scheme for one of them to add some variety. I based this on the field grey cloth you see Grand Moff Tarkin and a number of the officers wearing on the Death Star. For this I used Vallejo German Field Grey base which I highlighted with German Green Grey. Again, to add some variety I also painted one of the officers as a Chiss with distinctive blue skin.
The Royal Guard followed Sorastro’s palette pretty much as described as I really liked the contrast between the cloth and armour through the clever use of gloss varnish.
I mentioned at the start the bases were one of the places I deviated. Although I completely understand the logic of having neutral grey bases so as not to distract or look out do place with the underlying tile art, it wasn’t something that I liked personally. Instead I chose a hybrid approach that mixed a cracked earth paint effect with dry pigments. I began by painting all of the bases a flat black, over which I applied GW Agrellan Earth. Once this had a chance to fully dry and form the crackle effect I randomly applied a selection of earth and sand coloured pigments. These were then blended using mineral spirit and left to dry. Pigment fixer was then applied with a large brush to seal the result in place. To complete the effect I simply added a few small tufts of harvest grass here and there. Job done.
Overall, the objective was very much about getting these from box to game as quickly as possible in painted form so I’ve made some sacrifices in terms of the approach in order to accelerate the results. That being said, I’d have no hesitation dropping any of these into a proper 28mm scale wargame, so should Fantasy Flight ever show ambition in taking Star Wars in that direction these are a nice head start.
Next update: AT-ST and Nexu.