Fall of Reach is the first of at least two new games being developed by Spartan Games based on the Halo licence. As part of their pre-order promotions at Salute they were giving away resin busts of the Covenant and UNSC Fleet Commanders (you got to pick whichever you preferred). I opted for “Rho Barutamee” as I felt the Covenant Commander would be more interesting to paint and rather than just leave it in the box as another piece of Salute Loot to gather dust, I set about painting it as an “off table” project the past couple of weeks. This is the story of how ‘Rho’ went from alabaster white plastic to gleaming orange and regal purple Navy Commander. Or something like that.
To manage the painting and handling once cleaned and prepped I left the bust in three sub-assemblies; torso, head and plinth. I began by priming all in Scale 75 flat black with the airbrush, a product I can’t praise highly enough. I only recently discovered Scale 75’s primers at salute funnily enough on the Northumbrian Tin Soldier stand. Up to now I’ve been using Vallejo grey primer (and will continue to do so as it’s a great primer for the airbrush), but if you want a completely matt finish Scale 75 is my new go to guy. Over the black I then applied a light coat of the Vallejo grey to give me some contrast and pre-highlight graduation.
Starting with the mouth-parts I worked up the flesh tones from tan with crimson and purple washes before picking out the rows of teeth in tan, light brown and bone white finishing in pure white. The flesh was a mix of black and Turquoise to which I added VMC Sunny Skin Tone for the highlights. I then gave the mouth a brush coat of Klear to protect before covering with masking fluid. The final highlight to the neck muscles, cheeks and face was applied with the airbrush to soften the transitions. Finally, I gave the skin a few additional tones using a mix of black, green and blue glazes before painting the eyes in orange and white.
Before starting on the armour I applied masking fluid/panzer putty to the skin to protect all the work done so far against any overspray. The armour started with two light coats of Game Air Hot Orange followed by a coat of Orange Fire which I focused on strengthening the highlighted surfaces. I hit the high spots with Sun Yellow and finally spots of white here and there where I wanted specific spot reflections. These were then softened with a yellow glaze before switching to a brush for the edge highlights in white. At this stage all of the putty and masking fluid was removed so I could move onto the final glazes.
Working from the deepest undercut shadows outwards I used a watered down glaze of 50/50 green and blue to intensify and blend the shadows into the mid-tones. I also used them to add a degree of tonal shift on the undersides of the predominately warm armour to a cooler green. this is something I will probably look to replicate on a lesser scale on the Yu Jing for Infinity in a couple of months time as the Zanshi palette is predominately orange and green. For the inner armoured ribbing I mixed black into GW Incubi Darkness and added Fenrisian Grey for the highlights. This was then finished with the same turquoise glaze I used on the rest of the armour. Final stage on the armour was a protective coat of Klear.
As I would be switching back to the airbrush again for the cloak, I used masking fluid to protect my work on the armour and blocked out the rest with Panzer Putty again. The last stretch was then just a basecoat of Game Air Imperial Blue, highlight of Alien Purple and a shade of Hexen Purple finished off with the brush for a few final highlights of Alien Purple + White.
I considered just painting this a nice even black and giving it a satin varnish finish, but felt this was a bit stark considering there were already big blocks of bold colours in the armour and cloak. I decided a softer and lighter base was needed to balance out the miniature and went with a faux marble effect. This was the first time I’ve ever tried to paint marble, so if anything I was probably overly reserved in the veining. I began with a base tone of a thinned mix of GW Khaki, Dheneb Stone, Bone and White to which I added around 30% satin varnish before applying as several thin layers using the airbrush. The addition of the varnish helps create a smoother egg shell finish rather than the matt and powdery feel you normally get using high pigmentation paints like the GW Foundation range.Tones were added by mixing varying degrees of VMC Saddle Brown and Khemri Brown into the base mix which I randomly applied and brush blended to create areas of interest and shadows under the stone lips and around the blocks. Pure white was then selectively used for extreme spot highlights and edging as well as initial faint veining.
Finally I applied watered down saddle brown and hull red with a sponge in a similar approach to ‘chipping’ but immediately wet blended to diffuse and soften some of the spots using a clean brush before adding a final deeper veining in pure white to complete the effect.
Rho Barutamee was a one-off exercise as I really don’t tend to paint non-gaming pieces as a general rule. However it did prove to be a good opportunity to try out a few different techniques and experiment a bit on a larger canvas. It also means one less item in the unpainted Salute loot bag which is a good thing. For now though I’ve picked out a spot for him in the workshop cabinet to occupy until his fleet arrives in the summer once the game is launched proper.
You can find out more about Halo Fleet Battles on the Spartan Games Website here. Until next time, happy painting.