I was going to get into cleaning an airbrush next but I have just had this question sent to me via PM. I thought it would be good to share with you guys how I airbrush infantry models and answer the question at the same time. Here's the question and my reply.
I have been following your airbrushing tutorial with more than a little interest. I bought an airbrush a couple years ago (Badger I think?) but then burned out before I got a chance to start trying it.
I have been an Eldar player since 91ish and seeing someone airbrushing Eldar has given me a bit of a spark again because I have LOTS of unpainted models hehe...
So I guess my question is this, have you airbrushed the infantry at all? How does that work? I definitely want to use it on my new Wraithknight, Crimson Hunter, and my plethora of Serpents and Fire Prisms that I never painted.. but I have lots of unpainted foot troops also and was wondering how I might be able to "catch up".
My answer is this.
It sounds like you have a little experience with you airbrush but your just a little rusty. Painting foot troops is not different than painting tanks really, it's just a bit more fiddly. I've painted space marines of all sorts of chapters with my airbrush and I have recently just painted my Iyanden Wraithguard with my airbrush too. It's not too difficult at all.
Using my Wraithguard as an example. I used a similar technique to how I painted my Waveserpants. 1st you need to decide if your going to fully build your guys or gals 1st or if like these models the helmets a different colour then it's best to paint those separately.
With marines I usually leave off shoulder pads, guns and heads as these are usually different colours. If not then leave them on.
If your models are fully assembled then it's no big deal, but your really better off painting the bits that are different colours by hand.
I follow these basic rules when airbrushing anything, infantry is no different.
1. What colours going to be the dominant colour your painting. Once you decide this you then want to pick a darker shade as your preshade. It can be a different darker colour but personally I go for a darker shade.
2. Grab your model and if it's already based, blu-tac the base to a cork or if it's not then you can blu-tac the feet of the model to the cork instead. I sometimes go with this second method as I usually airbrush my bases separately.
3. If your painting a lighter coloured model then your best priming in light grey or white, I prefer light grey. However if your painting a dark model like a Dark Angel then prime in black and forget about any pre shading. You won't need to (kind of).
4a If you've primed in grey or white, now it's pre shading time. In this case my Iyanden are pre-shaded using Minitaires bloodstained mud. Try and be careful and paint anywhere you think would be darker or in shadow. Between the legs, under armpits, the gap between a back pack and the back of the armour. Anywhere you think your armour should appear darker. It does take a bit of trial and error but keep at it. Then switch to your main colour and paint your model. Once dry you can then go ahead and hand paint any details you need to. Mine looked like this
And once the arms had been painted on corks in the same fashion, the guns painted by hand and attached they ended up like this. Obviously the heads were painted separately then attached.
4b If you've gone for a black undercoat then now you need your pre shading colour, for example if your wanting a deep rich red colour. Prime black, then go for either a darker red than your final colour or even a dark brown. This should be painted using a technique called "Zenithal highlighting"
What this means is your going to spray your next coat of paint down onto the model from above and at an angle which paints most of the model but leaves areas like under the arms and between the legs still dark. This will lighten the upper areas of the model mimicking a light source. The final colour will then be sprayed on once the second colour is dry. You need to paint from an even higher angel above the model leaving some of your "pre-shade in the darker areas.
You will have something looking like this.
Which once finished off being painted by hand will look like this.
This technique works with all colours and even metallics. I use a wash by a company called secret weapon called "soft body black" and I paint this into the recesses of the armour and joints. I don't slap it on but go carefully.
This technique works on all colours. Here is the same technique but with blue.
Just experiment with some duff or old models 1st.
I hope this helps you.
I will go into shoulder pads, guns and heads and faces at a later date but I hope this gives you some idea on how to tackle airbrushing infantry.