Our group has been playing a bit of Aeronautica Imperialis of late as we slowly start to come back to gaming. In previous posts we’ve featured some Ork and Imperial planes. This time it’s the turn of the Tau. An advanced race of Aliens with sleek looking aircraft that apparently highly value pragmatism and effectiveness.
I find aircraft a bit tricky to paint, particularly if I’m shooting for something plausible or pragmatic (not an issue with the Orks). You only have to look at modern fighters to see that if you’re actually doing a lot of actual fighting in wars it’s 50 shades of grey. But that’s not very interesting and it’s actually harder to paint something completely plain (the eye gets bored and just starts to look around for something to focus on – and eventually just finds errors in picking out details, etc) than with some pattern or other visual interest. Now, the Russians do paint some of their stuff in interesting colours and this was actually inspired by some of the ultra modern green/blue Sukhoi jets. These have quite dramatic camouflage patterns in light and dark blue-greens on the top surfaces of the wings with a plain, light, underside.
By Vitaly V. Kuzmin – CC BY-SA 4.0, Link
The Russians use the traditional camouflage that is random rounded shapes. However I wanted something a bit more futuristic and sci-fi looking, and so I went for a hexagonal digital camouflage pattern. For this type of pattern, the random shapes are just made by sticking hexagons together. I’m not sure it’s particularly feasible or a practical thing to do on an aircraft, but it gives the aircraft an alien, high-tech, militaristic feel that fits them nicely.
I also changed the colours somewhat, going much more green so that the lightest colour was pretty much sea foam green and then going into turquoise and a dark blue/green. This is one of the great aspects alien aircraft. You can reasonably paint the camouflage any colour you want: while the colours on earth might be mainly greens and browns, on an alien planet the ground colouration and any local flora could be any colour imaginable. Another tweak I also made was to keep the underside the same colour as the lightest part of the camouflage. I think the Russians use a neutral grey (because it’s a military aircraft so it needs grey on it somewhere). Another change was to continue some of the camouflage patterns onto the underside and avoid the hard line splitting the top and bottom. I think this further helps to make it appear more alien, and non-human in origin.
These were painted almost entirely with an airbrush using Lacquer based paints. These give a really hard wearing finish that should mean these look just as good after years of play.
- Camo 1 & Underside: SMS Premium Russian interior (PL88)
- Camo 2: SMS Premium turquoise (PL41)
- Camo 3: SMS Premium teal (PL61)
- Panel lines: Tamiya Panel Line Accent Colour – Black (T87131)
- Engines & weapons undercoat: Scale75 Abyssal blue (SC-08)
- Engines & weapons base: Scale75 graphite (SC-03)
- Cockpit layer 1: Scale75 brown leather (SC-31)
- Cockpit layer 2: Scale75 troko (SC-11)
- Cockpit layer 3: Scale75 tenere yellow (SC-10)
- Cockpit final highpoint: Scale75 white sands (SC-09)
The engines and weapons all got a pretty plain grey treatment to give a bit of contrast to the moving elements.
I also did the cockpit glass in a mustard yellow colour. I went for the jewelled style that’s common in sci-fi. On this model it is really easy as the glass area is that small that your gradients can be pretty rough.
I’ll wrap up with a picture of the three different Aeronautica Imperialis schemes I’ve done thus far.