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Dropfleet Commander Painting Tutorial - UCM Battlefleet Vanadium

One of our Hawk Talons Christoph Schult submitted a tutorial to me for painting his excellent Dropfleet Commander UCM fleet. You may recognise the scheme from his winning painting competition entry on the Hawk Forum which you can see in our Gallery. Christoph also streams his painting on Twitch where he happily shares his range of techniques to achieve such a striking scheme.


Hawk Scott.



Insignia of Battlefleet Vanadium 


When I posted the first test pieces for this scheme I was asked to do a tutorial so here is how to paint Battlefleet Vanadium:



The first colour is the blue for the stripes. I focused on the areas i knew would have stripes but I didn’t care about the rest so pretty much everything got at least some blue. The center ship has gotten a dusting of Arcane Blue from the front and top, the two outer ones have just the basecoat as of the picture.



Next the stripes are masked. I used Tamiya masking tape that I trimmed to be 4mm wide for these.



After that everything goes black. To get neat edges along the tape spray with a relatively low pressure, thin paint and at as close to a right angle to the respective surface as you can get. When working with thin paint be extra careful not to build up a wet layer that might run under the tape.



The hull also gets zenithal highlighting for the basic gradient. First German Grey and then Neutral Grey.



And then you get to admire the stripes.



From here on out it’s brush work. I started on the stripes, making as much use of the airbrush shading as possible and focussing mainly on making the edges stand out.



Here’s the first highlight pass on the grey. I used oil paint for this, it can take a bit of getting used to but it’s a joy to work with once you get the hang of it. The engines also got a silver basecoat.



Time to do the engine glow. The engines get several coats of sepia ink plus black until they’re a nice dark colour. Then you simply start working up the glow gradient one colour after another.




Next up are all the little boops and details. The one thing worth mentioning is probably the railgun barrels. For things like that i usually basecoat them with a silver colour, give them the same wash as the engines, then i apply the basecoat again expect for the deepest parts and wash the whole thing again. Repeat that a few times getting progressively smaller with the basecoat reapplications and it’s an easy and clean way to get a long gradient out of a wash.



For protection and in preparation of the panel lines the whole thing gets a few layers of gloss coat.



Then I hit the panel lines with Tamiya Panel Line Accent. It creeps really well and any mistakes can easily be cleaned up with some paint thinner. The gloss coat both enables the creeping and protects the previous coats from the thinner.



Finally the whole thing gets a coat of matte varnish and it’s almost done. The panel lines came out a bit strong so I redid some of the edge highlights, especially on the stripes. I’ll have to try to get them a bit more subtle in the first place next time.





Paint List


VMC - Vallejo Model Colour

VMA - Vallejo Model Air

VGC - Vallejo Game Colour

P3 - Privateer Press Formula P3


VMC Black

VMC German Grey

VMC Neutral Grey

Abteilung 502 Field Grey Highlight


P3 Meredius Blue

P3 Arcane Blue

P3 Arcane Blue + VMC Ice Yellow

Rackham Patina


Andrea Colour Black Base

Golden Transparent Shading Grey

Andrea Colour Black Base

Andrea Colour Black 1st Light

Andrea Colour Black 2nd Light


VMA Steel -> Black + VGC Sepia Ink wash


     Random Detail Stuff

     VMA Steel

     Pin wash with Golden Transparent Shading Grey

     Recessed Panels

     Golden Transparent Shading Grey

     Hull Boops

     P3 Sulfuric Yellow

     Green Wing Boops

     VMC Emerald

     VMC Yellow Green

     Gun Barrels

     VMA Steel

     VMW Dark Grey

     Drybrush VMA Silver


VMC 957 Flat Red
VMC 910 Orange Red
VMC 851 Deep Orange
P3 Ember Orange
P3 Heartfire
P3 Cygnus Yellow
VMC 858 Ice Yellow
VMC 918 Ivory
P3 Morrow White


Christoph Schult


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