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Painting Ghosts and Ethereal Miniatures – The Airbrush Technique

I decided to write this guide after searching the internet for some information on how to get a good ghostly effect on my miniatures. There are plenty of guides for painting these the traditional green ink way and the results are decent enough. I’m an airbrush nut so for me the idea of not using my wonderful effect producing toy is not an option. I also wanted to do my ghosts more blue, the green ones blend into the background too easily and I want mine to be more Ben Kenobi’s ghost on Dagobah.

I have done lots of glow effects on other miniatures already so what I will show you here is how to replicate that procedure to paint an entire miniature.

My canvas is Black Scorpions most awesome undead pirates. I am using these for Warmachine as the undead pirates from the Cryx faction. I currently have 12 miniatures which I will ghost up as Blackbane’s Ghost Raiders.

To follow my method you are going to need a duel action airbrush and compressor. If you don’t have one then hopefully you might still be inspired by my work.

Preparation

To begin with we need to clean up and base the miniatures. I have decided to attach mine directly to the base but some folk will prefer to paint the miniature separately and attach it after, makes no odds here so choose whichever you are comfortable with.

I’ve also gone ahead and done the entire core base work I am using for the army, milliput, sand and slate as per my standard basing guide. These will get painted afterwards to match my army scheme.

When you have your miniatures assembled and ready go ahead and prime them black, I used army painter black primer for mine. Make sure to undercoat the entire model and not leave any of the resin/plastic/metal showing. This is important as we are going to apply the pre-shade to the entire miniature, so you may need to go back with a brush and make sure there all blacked out.

Pre-shading

With your miniatures all ready and primed it’s time to fire up the compressor and load the airbrush with white. I’m using Vallejo’s model air range for this but you can easily use another brand. With your miniature in hand go ahead and pre-shade the model at a 45 degree angle.

Ghosting It Up

With our pre-shade done we apply two thin coats of Vallejo model air 71004 at 1:1 thinner/paint. Thanks to the pre-shading we have a much lighter blue on the higher points of the miniature and a darker navy blue on the darker sections.

Our next step is to apply our first highlight. So when the miniatures are dry we go back and apply another pre-shade to the miniatures with white using a higher angle than before. Be a little more sparing with this than the first pre-shade.

Next mix up some more blue with the following ratio; 8:2:1:1 Thinner/Blue/White/Matt Medium. This time we are only going to do a single coat and our focus will be the pre-shaded area.

For our last highlight we are going to use straight white. This is done exactly the same as our second pre-shade but we need to be more careful not to cover up the work we have done so far. I kept the white fairly thin while doing this (1:1).

Glow Glow Gadget Weapons

With the white highlight done the basic ghost effect on the miniature is complete and we can move onto the glow effects that will make them stand out. I have decided to keep the majority of the model with the ghostly blue effect and put my glow colour onto the weapons.

The green I have used is an extremely old Games workshop colour called Bilious Green, but Striking Scorpion Green or the newer Moot Green are almost identical. Be careful not to put on too much as making a mistake at this point is really bad. I did go over onto one of the hats a little more than I would like but it’s not so bad.

With the first colour on you need to go back and add a light spot to create the glow effect. I switched to a brush at this point and used a mix of green and white.

Finally I added a very light drybrush of pure white to selective parts of the miniatures to add an edge to parts I felt were a little too dark. Now most undead minis don’t really have eyes but these Black Scorpion ones do, I’ve opted to not add another colour in and just dotted these with white.

Add Varnish and Basing

Although paint dries quickly when applied with an airbrush due to the thin layers it does take around 20 minutes to harden up. I left the miniatures for a bit and then applied varnish to protect my work. With the varnish layer dry I based the miniatures.

 

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