Friday, 24 June 2011

Fleet Scale Sci-Fi: 'not' Blake's 7 completed!

I must say I'm pretty excited about these, and was keen to showcase them after an uncharacteristically quick completion; probably down to the sheer 'coolness' of the minis!
So without further ado, some eye candy showing off the Blake's 7 ships from Shapeways, as well as some of the perhaps less important personal impressions as to how they are to paint.

As you might remember, I'd started off with the flat black multi-layered spray undercoat, and then made a sortie against the Pursuit ships as you see below:

First off, I found the textured surface was murder on my brush; small detailed and sculpted-in the-round minis require small accurate brushes, but mine were pretty tired after having moved over these surfaces, I can tell you - some remedial work with washing up liquid and much licking of the brush tips (Eeeew!) was required to get them back in shape after the session.

Secondly, although I always work in acrylic with a wet palette, and mostly start off with a dab of water on the brush, then the paint, and sometimes the merest touch of water again to help flow before applying to the mini, the response of this surface material was frankly, well...weird.

Application of the paint-laden brush immediately resulted in all the moisture being sucked down into the surface - it was as if you were painting onto a sponge. This left the acrylic colour on its own, so more water dabbing was required before you could get a good surface flow going - long, contoured strokes with the brush were definitely out - so a slightly hiccupping progress, but alright once you got used to the instant disappearance of the moisture content.

Having said that, the surface took the colours well enough, with a genuine representation of what was being used appearing - here you can see the Miniatures Paint's brand rust colour brushed over in successively lighter shades, and finally touched off with some Vallejo orange:

I am quite please with how these turned out, I'm inclined to think that I need more surface detailing, and the powerplant/engine areas could do with some attention, but I am wary of gilding the lily here - the minis are small and might get a bit overwhelmed with too much done to them, certainly, there has been no final ink wash as yet - to my eye they seem dark and shady enough with that knobbly effect under the colour layers....

I then moved on to the personal ship of Servelan, the female villain of the show, and that all-important white coat - this was difficult to apply consistently over the stippled surface, and at first I was a bit disappointed with the patchiness, but then I realised that if anything, this was rather like a sort of in-built shading or weathering - so not so bad in the long run - perhaps saving me a stage in the process:

Servelan's 'Pursuit 4', a Mark I Pursuit ship modified to be her personal craft:

Moving on now, to perhaps - no, well actually, definitely my favourite craft, the Liberator herself:

The surface of this seems the most pronouncedly knobbly of the three, indeed in close-up it rather reminded me of the clogged-up surface of one of those cloth rollers you used to paint domestic ceilings with, and again, I was panicking about how this might appear under the all-white coat, but overall, I think at normal viewing distances, it somehow conspires to give some more built-in shading and definition, although of course that it hard to take away from the Macro photos seen here.

I had long ago foolishly bought a pot of Liquitex Artist's acrylic called 'Christmas Green', which was only Christamssy in the nuclear accident sense, being a sort of vulgar, florescent swamp colour. I wondered why I had never got rid of it, but then of course, it was because I was saving it all this time as it was an exact match for the green glowing power source of the Liberator!

Actually, for some reason, the 'glowingness' became rather subdued on application, particularly being overshadowed by the inscribed ribs around the globe, but overall, I'm quite happy.

The most difficult thing perhaps, was whether to go the whole hog and hand draw the Alien identification sigils on the three cylinders - they were a feature of the models in the show, but were very rarely visible on screen - in the end I went for it and did my best, and they haven't tuned out too badly:

Overall, then, as I am sure you can tell, I'm pretty pleased with how these went - but that has more to do with the intrinsic nature of the little beauties rather than any ease of process in painting them up. I think as long as you are prepared for a somewhat odd experience in the application of paint, and don't mind sacrificing the odd brush, then the Shapeways stuff is practicable as wargaming miniatures - they are after all, fast becoming the best provider of those obscure craft that we all just have to have.

Anyway, I am thoroughly chuffed with my little flotilla - and I'm off now to Cygnus Alpha to liberate some more freedom fighters!


  1. Hi SoS,

    Absolutely brilliant old chap! I love the big ship and also your detailed account of how you did you what you did and why you did it - really helpful stuff.

    Any thoughts on rules etc? (and for the drone army as well!)

    All the best,


  2. What did you undercoat with? I've just done the undersides of my Sopwith Triplanes and haven't had any real problems aside from under the top of one wing which must not been spray undercoated very well and did soak up paint...

  3. Hi Guys, thanks for the comments - I think I was always going to like these - however they turned out....ah....nostalgia.......

    @David - I was luckily enough to score an old copy of the Starmada X Brigade rules book with a job lot of starship minis off EvilBay a few months back, and have been quite pleased with those, on a read through basis - although my favorite space rules are definitely G.O.B.S. super simple and great fun!

    The drones and small scale sci-fi will get the home brew treatment - a set I'm tentatively calling 'Steel Stars'....

    @ Steve - I used a Plasticote fast dry enamel 'flat black' - a rather unassuming choice - but I've found gives good results - control is difficult with the classic spray can nozzle, but i just went really tentatively - more misting rather than spraying....really interested to see how your Sopwiths go - just be ready with that water!

  4. Hi SoS,

    G.O.B.S. look really good fun and I have been looking for an excuse to have a go with them.

    Steel Stars eh? I will certainly look forward to those in due course!

    All the best,


  5. Thats just such an iconic ship. Great to see it on the gaming table! I really must try out some of this 3D printing stuff soon.

  6. Um, I would have thought Plasticote a good choice but perhaps it leaves a porous finish. I've used GW White and then hand painted the undersides in Bleached Bone acrylic with no great concerns. I'm hoping to gets the topsides done tomorrow and that normally takes a few coats to get a neat finish with the green over white.

  7. Nice paint job on your models!

    When I was a kid, I somehow acquired a die-cast model of the Liberator. I had no idea where it was from at the time; I just thought it was a neat-looking, unconventional spaceship. It wasn't till recently I learned it was from the show Blake's 7.

  8. Great project, I really like the painting on these.

  9. Thanks for the comments guys - given the limitations of budgets on TV shows in those days, I think the modelling and production people did pretty well with what they had to hand, but the Liberator in particular is just a hands-down brilliant design - when they got the brief for an 'Alien' ship, we might have ended up with just a flying saucer or some such - but she is so much better!

  10. One of my favorite series from way back, which i shall not revisit in case my memories are spoilt. I shall treat myself to these i think.

  11. Hi Phil, yes, I think it's true that some things are better left in the realms of nostalgia - but I think actually B7, due to the strengths of its scripts, holds up pretty well - that said, sfx can be decidedly ropey - I swear in some of the early episodes, they are actually using a cardboard cut-out Liberator!

    In any event, try these minis from Shapeways and you won't be disappointed - I see Admiral Duck Sauce is now doing larger scale Libs and Pursuit Ships, as well as an interesting craft based around one of the formers pylons with the power source globe attached - worth a look!

  12. Fantastic Job!

    Phil- don't go back and watch Flash Gordon if you enjoyed it as a young kid, you'll regret it!