UCM Digital Camo for Dropzone Commander

/, Tutorial/UCM Digital Camo for Dropzone Commander

If there’s been a theme to this weekends painting it’s probably “multi-tasking”. With a number of projects needing curing time between priming or varnishing, I’ve been jumping back and forth between three different miniatures over the course of the two days. For Flames it’s been the Vietnam Huey “Hog” and at the other end of the spectrum a Covenant bust for the forthcoming Halo Fleet Battles game due out in the summer. Both I’ll cover in their own respective posts once they are complete, but for this update I’m focusing on the three UCM test miniatures for Dropzone Commander. This isn’t especially new news as I started them quite some time back, but I’ve finally gotten around to completing them fully so now have a better idea if the overall palette and process is workable for an entire force and more importantly do I like it?

There’s no getting around the fact that the digi-camo is a lot more involved to do than either of the palettes I used on the Scourge and Shaltari. Each vehicle requires three coloured layers applied with an airbrush over two layers of stencil masks. In addition there are two stages of protective varnish required (Airbrush) along with chipping, mineral weathering and finally pigment weathering before a final coat of matt varnish. On the upside 80% of the time invested is probably to apply the stencil masking. Drying/curing time is actually quite minimal due to the bulk of application being with the airbrush. This means once the stencils are applied the overall painting time is quite quick and I am rattling through units at a decent pace. There is obviously some additional manual brush work needed for things like the spot detailing, but the only part that took a while was the layers of glazes I applied to the engines on the flyers.

The palette overall was inspired by two military photos in particular; the first (shown) for the digital scheme and the second the idea of a contrasting white nose for the flyers. The stencils I used throughout were the micro-HD stencils by Anarchy Models.  These were the reward ones I received from backing their Kickstarter a year ago and were always with a mind to use on a project like this. Fiddly to use, they nevertheless reward patience and perform spectacularly well providing sharp edges with no bleed, even on a miniature as small as a Hawk Wargame 10mm APC.

The trick with airbrush masks is to plan ahead and think in terms of the colours you want to keep, rather than the colour you are applying. So for example, for the Bear APC I wanted the majority of the colour to be light blue/grey with the camo transitioning through areas of medium grey to NATO black. This means working backwards and making NATO black the first and overall basecoat because it would be the smallest surface area when masked off. I applied this over a white primer so as to bring out the most of the green/grey hue in the paint.

With the first layer of masking applied I then painted overall again, this time in Medium Grey. This meant everything is medium grey except for the areas I stenciled which will remain NATO black. A second layer of stencil was applied to overlap with the first in areas I wanted to keep medium grey.

I then applied an overall final coat of Fenrisian Grey as the dominant unmasked colour. Once the stencils were carefully removed the protected sections of Medium Grey and NATO black were revealed creating the final effect.

It was at this stage I painted all the non-camo sections such as the engines, lights, nose-cone and wheels etc by hand before giving the miniatures a protective layer of acrylic varnish (Klear) to lock in all the work to date. Once you get to this stage the bulk of the work is done and everything else is just finishing and weathering. I applied a pin wash of MIG NATO tank black wash to re-profile the panel lines and detailing. Decals were also applied at this stage and were a mix of German turret numbers from Dom’s Decals and logos from Dream Pod Nine’s Heavy Gear Blitz.

You will notice the new all-plastic UCM Dropships also come with clear canopy glass. A good tip to make the most of these is to dip them into ‘Klear’ first and leave un-touched to self-level and dry. This not only protects the canopy from fogging if you use superglue to attach them, but also gives them a fantastic glass-like shine. If you don’t have the original ‘Klear’, use the updated formula (Pledge multi-surface wax) which works exactly the same way, but will also smell nice!

Do I like the end result? I think I do and it’s not too onerous to roll out across the rest of the force. I’m not 100% sold that it will be as effective on the smaller armoured units and am considering an alternative palette for those to almost mark a difference between Army and Navy, or just something less uniform across the entire force. Either way I will be coming back to the UCM at a later point in the future, just not immediately as I’ve a couple of more pressing projects that need to be pushed on for Flames of War and Star Wars.

Other news:

Just a couple of final hobby-centric comments before I wrap this up in time for Monday games night. No doubt everyone will have seen at least some photos of the ma-hoosive 28mm scale Warlord Titan from Forgeworld. Being an unashamed Titan nut this obviously has my interest piqued. fortunately for me however it’s also not ‘quite’ bowled me over enough to rush out and order one, for two reasons. Firstly the obviously insane £1200+ price tag for what will effectively be a display piece only. The only way I’m prepared to fund that is out of existing excess or unwanted lead mountain assets, which is kind of the plan but certainly not this year. Secondly and more importantly because I don’t actually like the weapon configuration on the initial version. The carapace weapon’s just don’t do it for me. If this is anything like Forgeworld’s other Titans and I have no reason to doubt it won’t be, there will likely be alternative weapon’s available at a later stage in the future. ‘If’ they happen to be twin carapace missile launchers and a ‘power fist’ then I may re-consider converting a heap of currently unused lead mountain into an equally un-used but fun to paint lump of Warlord sized resin instead. That thankfully should be a long way off so frankly nothing to worry about anytime soon.

The other news for those who hadn’t already spotted it is I’ve set up an Instagram account in order to post more frequent WIP shots and comments directly from the workshop. I’ll still keep on blogging, but it does mean these can be a little more raw and uptodate. If you are on the ‘Gram’ you can find my images @dropshipstudio. There’s also a handy gallery link on the left hand menu bar as well.

That’ll do for now as it’s Imperial Assault campaign night and I need to round up my Imperial forces. Until next time, have a great week.


By |2018-03-10T09:45:33+00:00May 18th, 2015|Categories: Dropzone Commander, Tutorial|Tags: , , , |16 Comments


  1. redtrombone May 18, 2015 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    What the fuck man, it is awesome!

    Now onwards to read the post.

  2. redtrombone May 18, 2015 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    Hell of a job, but the results are lovely. As you say, it’ll show off more in the big units. But oh boy, LOOK at that flying dropcargothing. Congrats

    • Carl Woodrow May 18, 2015 at 6:49 pm - Reply

      Yeah, the big surface areas on the flyer is a huge benefit with the UCM, this should work nicely on the big UCM Command Gunship as well. Ironically all of the smooth surfaces of the PHR would have also worked nicely for a digital or ‘hex’ camo, but I sort of want to do something different with each race. Still musing on the PHR, it will likely be clean and bold scheme, quite clinical. I have a scheme in mind, just thrashing out the details.

      Glad you like it though, it came out better than I expected.

  3. Robert Layne May 18, 2015 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    Very nice! They came out great

  4. NafNaf May 18, 2015 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    Wow those are bloody fantastic. Seroiusly I am impressed. Great job 🙂

  5. Carl Woodrow May 18, 2015 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    Thank you 🙂

  6. Eng May 19, 2015 at 9:27 am - Reply

    Impressive work!

  7. galrian May 19, 2015 at 11:54 am - Reply

    Reblogged this on Slap and dunk and commented:
    Digital camo

  8. Woody May 20, 2015 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    Really impressed with how they turned out, great job

  9. Ben Still July 9, 2015 at 6:00 am - Reply

    I really hope you feel that imitation is a form of flattery as I am definitely giving this scheme a go for my UCM! Thanks for the step by step. Great work and really inspiring 🙂

    • Carl Woodrow July 9, 2015 at 7:46 am - Reply

      Thanks Ben, Glad you found it useful.

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