Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Boss Snikrot

I'd never heard of this miniature until a client asked me to paint it for him.  When I Googled the name 'Snikrot' and saw the photos, my jaw almost hit the floor!

What first hit me was the size.  This guy is huge.  Standing next to a regular Ork Boy, he is approximately one-and-a-half times taller and three times as wide!

The next thing was the detail.  This miniature has so many characterful little bits and pieces that you can quite happily spend months painting him.  Luckily, it didn't take me quite that long to finish, though at around three weeks, it's probably the longest I have ever spent on a single piece in my life!

As you can see, this miniature comes in five parts; the main body, the rucksack, the two arms and the head.  I was very glad that he came in metal and not FineCast, as the potential for miscast on such a detailed model would be pretty high!

The big question, which plagued me for a very long time, was 'how much of the miniature should I assemble before I paint him?'

To most people, the answer is obvious.  But of course, most people's obvious answer will still be completely different from the next person's, depending on their own preference!

There are basically two schools of thought on the subject; if you paint the separate pieces, it's much easier because you can get into all of the parts of the model without worrying too much about other parts of it getting in the way.  However, if you assemble the model completely, it's much easier to get realistic highlights and shadows, because you can see exactly where the shadow of (say) the arm falls across the chest, etc.

In the end, I decided to compromise by assembling the body, rucksack and head parts (though I would come to regret attaching the head later on, when I attempted to paint his chest...).  Once this main bulk had been finished, I would then, I decided, attach the arms and paint them while on the main miniature.

Another reason not to paint and then assemble is of course the fact that there is always potential for a glue disaster, or for chipping / rubbing off any of the paint that's already been applied.  I would certainly have to be very careful when putting him together!

I wanted to keep the base relatively simple so as not to detract from the Ork himself. Also, as this miniature will be used for gaming, I didn't want to raise him up on a plinth of rock or anything like that, or else he'll be constantly towering over all of the cover!

('Who's that above those trees? Oh, it's just Snikrot again. Fire up the lascannon...')

I first coated it with play-sand, but this was very fine and lacked any variation, so I then sprinkled on some sand from none other than the luxurious sandy stretches of Clacton-on-Sea. Finally, to add even more detail, I sprinkled on some very coarse sea salt.


I started on the metallics by basecoating them with Boltgun Metal before adding the first shading pass.

I want these metallics to have a good solid 'iron' feel to them, so will be using a lot of blues to shade and highlight. The first shade was a roughly-equal mix of Boltgun Metal and Regal Blue, with a touch of Chaos Black and it was painted into the darker parts of the miniature.

After this, I finished the shading by adding more Chaos Black to the original mix and blended it into the deepest areas.

A lot of miniatures (and Ork / Orcs in particular) have a great deal of metal on them. In order to break up the metallics on Snikrot, I used two different colours.

For the bulk of the metal I used an iron-y blue colour, while the rest I made something more like a deep bronze.

As you can see from these first stages, I didn't mind spilling paint onto other un-painted areas of the miniature. I think that it's better to start painting a mini in a relaxed (nay, slap-dash) way. It sounds a bit odd, but I really feel like your mood while painting is reflected in the finished miniature. If you're tense and over-cautious, that'll come across in the finished work.

(Some of my best highlighting has been done while brushing the strokes to the rhythm of whatever I'm listening to on my MP3 player!)

Once the shading on the metallics was finished, I began highlighting them, firstly with a mix of Fortress Grey and Boltgun Metal.

Afterwards, I added another highlight to the metal, this time using a mix of Fortress Grey and Ice Blue. I followed this with an extreme highlight of Skull White on all of the 'hot-spots', before adding two extremely thin glazes to give the impression of reflection to the metal.

The first of these was of Regal Blue on Snikrot's right-hand side, followed by Hawk Turquoise on his left.

Finally, I re-painted the Skull White highlights, to bring them back up after the glazes.

I then basecoated the remaining metallics with Dwarf Bronze and, in the following few days, finished them using exactly the same colours and techniques as the iron, but using Dwarf Bronze instead of Boltgun Metal. This will hopefully give them the same tone, but having two slightly different hues of metal will add a little more interest...

You can see the results in this image (right).  At the moment, the metallics seem to look quite sharp and harsh, but as the rest of the miniature gets painted, the tones will become much more muted to the eye and will hopefully look fantastic - it's often a leap of faith when you're painting a miniature like this.  You just have to trust in your colour selection and, with a bit of luck, all of the areas will work together and compliment each other in the end.

When I paint, I try to help this by limiting my palette as much as I can, using the same colours to highlight and shade all of the elements of the mini.  This goes a long way towards tying the various parts together and giving an overriding tone to the piece.


With the metallics now finished, I moved onto the black areas.

I began with a basecoat formulated from a roughly-even mix of Chaos Black and Regal Blue, before using several thinned coats of Chaos Black to shade into the deeper areas.

I highlighted in two stages, using - very simply - Codex Grey first, followed by Fortress Grey for the extreme highlight.

I find that the key to highlighting black isn't so much using lots of blends and clever mixes of colour.  Subtlety is the watchword here....

And so is patience.

Subtlety and patience are the watchwords.

I started by watering down the Codex Grey to roughly the consistency of skimmed milk and then I put the tiniest amount on my brush.  Even with just this small amount of paint loaded onto the bristles, I still brushed most of it off onto the palette until it was virtually invisible when painted onto the model.

I then painstakingly built up the highlights over many, many applications, brushing the paint on from the darker areas, towards the lighter ones.  It's important to remember that when you paint onto a miniature, the paint will be pushed along by the brush (rather than just applied uniformly), meaning that the colours appear stronger at the end of the stroke.  This means that, using thinned paint and lots of applications, a very nice blend effect is created, without the need for multiple paint mixes.

After this stage, I repeated the process with Fortress Grey to complete the effect.


For Snikrot's straps, I decided to go for a muted red-brown.  The rest of the miniature would be quite dark in colour and, though I didn't want to go too bright, I wanted to make the straps stand out a little in order to break up the paint-job.

I began by basecoating with a mix of approximately 1:1 Scab Red and Calthan Brown, before giving it a thinned Devlan Mud wash.

I then shaded with pure Scorched Brown before adding a little Chaos Black to shade the deepest recesses.

For the highlights, I first used Scab Red lightened with a touch of Ice Blue and then I added some Kommando Khaki to the mix to bring up the highlights a little more.  Next, I applied an extreme edge highlight of Kommando Khaki.

After this, the straps still seemed a little too red, so I muted the tone slightly with a thinned glaze of Calthan Brown before re-applying the Kommando Khaki highlights.

Here (right), you can see the finished effect, just after I began to paint Snikrot's khaki trousers...


I've never (to date) painted an Imperial Guard tank or any historical miniatures, so camouflage was a completely new and untested thing for me when I came to attempt it on Snikrot.

I must admit that I spent a very long time researching the subject, begging for advice from some extremely talented painting friends, trawling Google for images of camouflage patterns and scanning through reams and reams of painting tutorials.

In the end, I decided to just go for it and see what happened (which is, in my opinion, the only way to paint!).

After starting with a Regal Blue base, I 'blobbed' on some Fortress Grey, very haphazardly, followed by a darker mix of Codex Grey, Regal Blue and Chaos Black.  Finally, I randomly dabbed on a small scattering of Chaos Black.

I wasn't sure that highlighting and shading each of these patterns separately would look quite right, as I didn't really want the separate areas to be too well-defined - it was, after all, meant to be camouflage!  With this in mind, I shaded and highlighted all the khaki areas as though they were the same base colour.

I began with a Chaos Black shade before adding a 1:1 highlight of Ice Blue and Skull White.  I then added an extreme highlight of pure Skull White.

To tie the patterning together, I gave the areas two thin glazes, the first of Codex Grey and the second, Regal Blue.

Still not completely satisfied, I finished by applying a final 1:1 shade of Chaos Black and Badab Black to the recesses in order to reiterate the contrast.


For some reason, I always seem to spend more time and effort on the smaller details of a miniature than the the most prominent areas!

I don't want to go into too much detail here, as the techniques used were all fairly basic, so instead here is a list of the various stages:

  • Basecoated with Graveyard Earth.
  • Shaded with a wash mixed from Scab Red, Chaos Black and Scorched Brown.
  • Brought back up to Graveyard Earth.
  • Highlighted with Kommando Khaki.
  • Second highlight of Bleached Bone.
  • Extreme highlight of Skull White.
  • Finally, the Scab Red / Badab Black / Scorched Brown mix was re-applied into the recesses.

  • Basecoated with Snakebite Leather.
  • Shaded initially with Scorched Brown.
  • Second shade of Scorched Brown / Chaos Black applied.
  • Highlighted with a 1:1 mix of Snakebite Leather and Kommando Khaki.
  • Second highlight of pure Kommando Khaki.
  • 'Grain' painted on with thinned Skull White before a Snakebite Leather glaze was applied.
  • Re-applied shading layers.


As with the other 'fiddly' bits, I'm not going to dwell too much on the skulls and teeth - partly because I lacked the foresight to take many photos of the process, but mainly because I covered the technique in a previous blog post.  Here are the basics:
  • 1:1 Scorched Brown / Codex Grey basecoat
  • 1:1:1 Scorched Brown / Chaos Black / Badab Black wash
  • Codex Grey on all but the recesses
  • Highlight with Fortress Grey
  • Highlight with Dheneb Stone
  • 2:1 Dheneb Stone and Skull White
  • 1:1 Dheneb Stone and Skull White
  • Extreme highlight with Skull White
  • Devlan Mud painted into the recesses
With everything else completed, I could finally move on to the part which I always look forward to the most...


I've been experimenting quite a lot recently with different styles of orc skin, from cold blue highlights to warm, bright yellows.

This time, I wanted to try out a darker, more realistic tone which would fit really well with the gritty feel of the rest of the miniature.

As with most of the orc (or should that be ork?) skin techniques I favour, I began with a solid basecoat of Goblin Green.

Following this, I added Regal Blue to the green and painted it into the recesses.

I finished the shading by adding a small amount of Chaos Black to the mix and applying it to the very deepest areas.

The highlights were done in two simple stages.  First I used a thin mix of Goblin Green and Kommando Khaki, before then using pure Kommando Khaki as an extreme highlight.

To 'smooth out' these layers, two very thin, identical glazes consisting of a Regal Blue / Scab Red mix were applied consecutively.

I used the above glaze to add the reddening which can be seen on Snikrot's lips and spine, applying it over several thin coats.

To highlight, I added a touch of Kommando Khaki and Skull White.

Finally, I glazed the areas with Scab Red.

This very simple touch goes a great way towards making Snikrot a living, breathing character, rather than merely a painted metal miniature!

Finally, to finish the main body off, I painted the 'eyes' Regal Blue, Ice Blue and Skull White (for the blue) and Scab Red, Blood Red and Skull White (for the red).

And that's pretty much it for Snikrot.  I'm really proud of the way he's turned out and can honestly say (to date) that he's one of the best pieces I've done.  The arms were painted using exactly the same techniques as the rest of the miniature, so I won't waste your time by reiterating what I've already said, but if you do have any questions about them or anything else, feel free to leave a comment below!

If you want to see the finished article, check out his gallery here and, as always, don't forget to...