Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Armada tutorial : painting Red Squadron X-Wings

Lock S-Foils in attack position!

This article will cover how I painted the X-Wings from Armada core set. I decided early on on a high contrast/high saturation approach to keep them interesting at 1 meter (gaming range).

For the laser canon pin replacement, you can check my previous article here.

First you will need to prepare the models,  I suggest removing the flash around the nose with an x-acto and clearing the mold line on the top wings (x-acto then small file). I failed to do it properly and had to clean it again half way trough.

I started with a black undercoat then a general airbrushed coat of white insisting on the top, to give a natural gradient (light grey on top, darker grey on the bottom). After this step, you may see a few imperfections in your cleaning or due to the pin replacements. You should clean them now.

Color used (Games Workshop):
Astronomican grey
Ceramite White
Enchanted blue
Iyanden darksun
Mephiston red
Chaos black

Next I defined the volumes, first painting the shape of the canopy with a grey blue (a mix of astronomican grey and a drop of enchanted blue), then painting the engines (top and bottom) with very diluted dark grey (chaos black with a drop of codex grey).

Notice the mold line on the wings, I had to come back and clean it up.

I then hand shaded the model, painting a fine line of dark grey around most features : gun mounts, astromech, engines, wing roots. Afterwards, don't hesitate to go back and correct mistakes on the next steps with light grey/white.


Nose:  Draw a small line across the nose about 1.5mm from the tip, going down the sides angled toward the rear.

Engines: Draw a grey line about halfway across the engines, then paint the intakes black.

Guns: Draw a black line halfway across each gun, then paint a small gradient (dark at the rear of the ship and white at the front) on all 8 sections.

Engine cowlings: first start by drawing 2 parallel lines around each cowling, separating it into 3 sections. Then draw 2 additional parallel  lines starting at the first line around the cowling.

Cockpit 1: paint the glass areas of the canopy black (don't worry here about small mistakes, they will be covered in the next step). Here to keep my sanity I decided to simplify the cockpit and regroup the 2 side panels in a single zone.

Cockpit 2: with a blue grey (mix of enchanted blue and astronomican grey), trace the canopy frame, a thin line around the glass panels and a thin line between the 2 top panels.

Cockpit 3 (optional step): using pure black well thinned, paint a very thin line at the limit between the canopy frame and the white skin. Pro tip : use a good brush with a point tip such as a martre kolinsky Raphael 8404, keep only a small amount of paint on the brush and try first on a sheet of paper or the back of your hand. If you made a mistake, no worries, come back with the correct color to thin the line.

Technical area: using dark grey, paint a rectangle behind the astromech to the end of the craft, leaving a thin white line between it and the engines.

Engines (optional): using a mix of codex grey and black lighter than the engines, draw thin lines from the front to the rear, starting at the ring you painted at mid point. I chose to do this at this point to give me an easy task and relax a bit before the next step.

Engine intakes : using thinned white, draw a first line parallel to the wing across each intake. Clean the line with chaos black. Finally draw another line perpendicular to the first one, starting at the middle of the first one and going toward the exterior of the craft.

For the following steps, I recommend using 2 brushes and 2 water pots, to keep the red from turning your white pink. Use one brush to paint the red, and another to paint the white and grey corrections.

Nose line: using mephiston red, paint the red lines on each side of the nose, correct as needed with grey on the bottom and white on top.

Nose shading: using diluted light grey, paint a grey gradient on the side panel from the red stripe (white) toward the top the nose (grey) . You can check the next picture for reference (see the port side of the nose), the grey is painted on, not a natural shadow.

Squadron markings: using mephiston red, start painting a rectangle on each wing, covering about a  half of the width and a third in length. Then paint a small line parallel to the back of the wing from the rectangle toward the engines.

To paint the number stripes, I used 2 methods.
For number 1 to 6, I painted the stripes directly as very thin lines.

For number 12, I first painted 2 thin parallel red lines (see picture above) leaving a very thin white line in between, then 5 white perpendicular lines to create the 12 stripes. Number 7 to 11 used a mix of the 2 methods.

Individual markings : using movie references, I painted the yellow markings with Iyanden darksun + ceramite white.

Engine glow : I first painted the engine exhausts using a mix of lazer red and ultra violet dayglow pigments + acrylic medium, then highlighted the middle with white.

Astromechs: it's a bit hard to see, but the R2 mechs received first an enchanted blue coat, then a small white dot on top, then an even smaller blue dot on top in the middle of the white dot (not yet done in the picture above)

 I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, don't hesitate to ask questions in the comments! If you liked this tutorial you can follow the blog on twitter, google or like it on facebook with links in the right bar.

Time to reload,


  1. Holy moly! That's intimidating trying to get that detail on minis this small! Can't wait to try!

  2. C'moooon!!!! This is insane!! Jaw dropping...

  3. Exceptional work man, the scale of those guys is freaking tiny!

  4. Tell me you would be willing to do this on a commission basis!

  5. What size brush(s) do you use?

    1. Hello,

      I use almost exclusively Raphael 8404 size 1 brushes.

  6. I just painted up 3 of my A-wings and I honestly have no clue how you were able to get such definition on these guys. I don't think I'd be able to get this resolution with a micron pen.

    Awesome stuff!!!!

  7. Ok, now we are talking. Eventually a top notch tutorial for Armada!

    thank you so much for the tips

  8. Going to paint mine now... :)

    In hindsight, what would you change from your initial approach?

    1. Clean up more! Having to go back with scalpel and sand paper was a real pain.