How to paint a cloaking effect

Painting a cloaking effect on a TIE Phantom

Hey guys, this week I’m going to show you how cou can achieve that nice lightning effect on a TIE Phantom. This tutorial is a little more difficult than what I have been showing you so far but with a little patience and few paints you can achieve fantastic results with some of the techniques in this tutorial. You don’t have to exactly follow each step and are more then welcome to try going a different route to achieve your personal goals but maybe some of the basic tips will help you on the way.

feeling kinda naked...

feeling kinda naked…

Step 1

Choose your colours. Now personally I prefer a blue glow to go with the lightning effect but you can easily also use a red, green, purple or any other bright colour you prefer. Just keep in mind that you will need several different hues of the basic colour you are using and it should have a nice contrast with white to make it really stand out. In my example I used 4 different hues of blue, the lightest of the paints being mixed with white to create an even lighter blue.

Black, White and 3 Shades of Blue

Black, White and 3 Shades of Blue

Step 2

Determine what part of the ship you want to be cloaked and paint it with a thin coat of black. Remember the Golden Rules, it’s better to paint several thin layers than one thick layer. In my example I used two coats of thin black paint and in hindsight probably should have done a third coat (sometimes you are just that lazy :P). While painting on the black try to envision (fancy word) what shape the cloaked part of the ship should be and how crazy you want the lightning to be. I have seen many different versions of cloaking and decloaking Phantoms and I’m trying to go for the middle ground and somewhat easier version with this tutorial. I’m going for a decloaking ship, using Whisper’s card art as my inspiration. You will notice that the effect is quite subtle and many of you might think that it could be more pronounced or aggresive even. Sometimes I think less is more and if you go overboard with the effects on such a small ship it loses it’s credibility. Also for the purpose of this tutorial I wanted to go for as simple as possible πŸ™‚

You kind of want it to look like a shadow creeping over the hull of the ship. I try to make the shadow pointed at some wider parts of the ship so I can extend the lightning later on from those points. For the black coat I used a medium sized brush that can hold a bit of paint.

Step 3

Now comes the first shade of blue (Caledor Sky). Take your darkest shade of the chosen colour and paint a somewhat broad stripe along the edge of your black shadow. It doesn’t matter if it’s not perfectly covering the line as you can correct it later on with some extra lightning or drybrushing effects. I used a small detail brush to roughly draw a line with my base colour blue. It doesn’t look like much yet but the basics are done.

Step 3

We are ready for the second shade of blue (In my case Teclis Blue). For this step you should really use one of your smallest brushes. My “Insane Detail” Wargamer brush from The Army Painter came in quite handy here. You want to make sure that you stay inside the lines of your first base colour and leave a tiny bit of the darker colour shining through. These are the hardest steps about this repaint and you might need to practice this a few times before you get it right but if you do the rewards are really worth it πŸ™‚ If you don’t get it perfectly inside the lines the first time don’t worry about it too much as you will have another opportunity at the next step.

Step 4

Step 4 is basically the same as step 3 except with the lightest of your blue shades (Lothern Blue). You can also now start to extend some lightning rods onto the model on either side of the dividing part. Here you can really be creative and use as many lightning effects as you want. I prefer not to go too crazy as mentioned earlier but feel free to experiment around and enjoy the electrifying moments πŸ˜‰ I also added some highlights with this colour on some of the raised parts of the model just to give it a bit more ‘oomph’. I especially like the effect on the edges of the engine and the inner edges of the panels, it just really enhances the whole glow effect.

Step 5

For the last and final shade of blue I mixed my lightest colour with about 80% white to get a nice final highlight with a lot of contrast. With your lightest colour you don’t want to go over every part you have painted blue but only touch into the middle areas and cross sections where the lightning rods touch. This way you emphasize the power of the electric charge for a more ‘realistic’ effect. I used it on this model also on the cockpit intersections for some dramatization πŸ™‚ Finally you can also add little stars onto the black part of the model if you want. I sometimes add stars but decided not too for this repaint as I think it might too much in this case. But again this is down to your personal taste and preference.

Step 6

Drybrushing. I love drybrushing. I use it on almost every model at least in one form or another. It’s perfect for highlighting, weathering, special effects, engines, all sorts of things. If you want to know more about drybrushing, check out my other article on the topic. For this repaint we only need a tiny bit of drybrushing and you can either use your last highlight colour or even a pure white. Take your drybrush and with a tiny bit of paint left on it gently swipe over the section that is dividing your cloaked part from the uncloaked part of the ship. Don’t overdo it or you will lose all the details you so perfectly put into place! Just try a little bit at first (barely visible) and take a good look at it before you do another swipe. You really just want to create a fickle layer of smoky white to enhance the glow.


Just a little bit of drybrushing

Sometimes after the drybrushing you will find that you did a little too much or you want to re-enhance some colours that you drybrushed over. Don’t be afraid to go back with one of your colours and retouch it on top of the drybrushing you just did. In particular cases you can drybrush the whole model after a basecoat and then highlight some areas again with your basecoat colour or another highlight. There are endless possibilities πŸ™‚

Step 7

This final step is optional to just add some more details to the ship. Most of the time I like to touch up the engines and/or guns on my imperial models to put some ‘life’ into them. I had some green lying around for the guns (I think imperial ships should mostly have green gun tips :P) and added a touch of red to the engines, nothing too fancy.

And that’s it! Your cloaked TIE Phantom is ready to hit the gaming tables in your nearest Galaxy πŸ˜€

The best thing about this repaint is that you can be super creative with the effect and keep adding to it. The more you practice the more you will find different options for cloaking, decloaking, painting stars and even small galaxies on it! It never ceases to amaze me how many different varations of this repaint are out there…

Please let me know in the comments what you think about this tutorial or if you have any questions, comments or requests I’ll be happy to hear about them πŸ™‚

Until then…

May the paint be with you



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