Saturday, 11 February 2017

From ByronM - Dropfleet Commander UCM Starter Fleet (67 Points)

Here is my second post of the day, and the first of two completely game playable armies that I will be posting today.  After taking a week off with no submissions (other than my theme week entry), I had to kick myself into gear as I was obviously slacking off too much....

Dropfleet Commander is a game I have been really excited about for a long time (since I first heard about it a few years back), and one that I just had to get.  I backed the kickstarter for it big time, and while there were several MAJOR issues with the kickstarter and everything is not sorted out still (How hard is it to email back to people and sort out missing items....) the game and the figures are very good. I just wish that Hawk Wargames put even 10% as much effort into actually communicating to people and fixing issues as they put into the game and figs to start with.  I don't they realize that no matter how good something is, if they piss everyone off, no one will support it! 

Anyway, rant mode off, Hawk Wargames in general is very good at making unique items and cool rules, and almost entirely done by one guy! 

So, onto the models....

Wow... (not for my paint job, which is basic as hell, but for the models) Ever since I first saw these UCM ships I wanted them.  To me they look like a cross between a B5 and Battlestar Galactica type aesthetic.  Making them look completely real and believable as human space craft in my mind. 

I have been struggling with these models since the challenge started.  Not because I didn't know how to paint them, but because I couldn't figure out how to get a look I liked for an effort per ship that I was ok with.  One of the ships above has been re-painted 4 times....  The first time I got 1/4 of the way done and it had taken almost 3 hours, too much time when you have about 30 ships to do!  The second time, it looked too chalky, the was too long again, then finally I decided to go with something purely for gaming, and not worry too much about it being amazing (which is what I wanted, but was trying to get paint time to less than 2 hours per big ship). 

This final scheme / method is fast and has a high visibility on the table, but kinda falls apart up close.  At tabletop distances though it looks really good, and paints fast enough that I will not get pissed off with all the time it would take to do it a super detailed way and stop painting them! 

In the end the paint method was airbrush the ships black, then fade in lighter grey over the whole top of the ship at an angle to pick up some detail, than fade in a light grey along the edge of the top to provide some contrast.  I then gloss coated the whole ship and let it dry.  I then mixed some black artist oil paint with a lot white spirits to make a thin pin wash.  Done this way you just touch a panel line and it literally runs through the whole line.  I let this dry and then pulled out a secret weapon tool that Greg showed me about 2 years ago.... g-06 finish master
These things are amazing.  Think of them as hard q-tips.  They are almost solid, so do not deform into panel lines.  You simply let the oil paint dry, then wet these with thinner and wipe over the model, and it cleans up anything then you slipped up on.  They are pure magic for this kind of stuff, you don't even have to try to be clean, just slap the wash on, let dry, wipe off.  It saves SOOOO much time its amazing.  Sure, you loose some having to gloss coat before you do this and to dull coat after, but its so worth it.

Anyway, once all the panel lines were all done, it was time to edge highlight the outer panels, and then paint in some accent panels.  Lastly, I painted all the little close defense guns on the ships and the engines silver, and then washed them with an armour wash, and called them done.

While the ships did not turn out as the show pieces I had set out to paint them as (I had visions of doing them as show type pieces, silly me), they did turn out pretty nicely and in a time per ship I am happy with.  I still have about 8 capital ships and 16+ frigates to do for my UCM forces so doing anything super detailed would take too long.  These 10 ships done in this method (once I figured it out) took less than 8 hours (and I think less than 6), which I can deal with.


Lovely work Byron. These are terrific looking spaceships. 

I'm constantly amazed at the amount of technical 'stuff' that you guys do with your vehicles, but the results speak for themselves. That Q-Tip thingy looks very cool and gives a great effect. 

The high-contrast between the grey and white on the ships is both very striking and I can see how they would be distinctive on the tabletop as well.

So, Byron, what is the fleet that opposes this one? Are they already done or will we get to see them this Challenge?

Great work Mr. M!


  1. Nicely done, I think they have come out reet grand

  2. Lovely ships Byron :)

    The paintjob might be basic now, but you can always go back and improve on it when you have time.

    1. Thanks Tamsin, I may go back at some point with a few. They really do look good tabletop though, so may not. I just loved the models so much that I wanted to really do them up, so had the mindset going in to make them "really" nice, as in my best quality. IE: highlight and shade every panel line, each gun, make them really Pop.

      As I said though, I did one partially that way and it looked awesome up close, but took way to long, and it completely disappeared at tabletop level... In fact it looked horrible at tabletop distance, since everything was so subtle, it just got lost with distance and looked like a solid grey ship.

  3. Wonderful work Byron! The guys at my club are big into DFC right at the moment but it really isn't my cup of tea. But you've really made an excellent job on these. And thank you for the tip with the rubber pencil. Will try it on my next tank.

    1. Can't take credit for it, Greg showed them to me. He is a big Robotech fan, and came across them when working on robot kits. Once I tried them I was sold, they are so much better than q-tips or makeup brushes. I like to get things done, so if there is a fast "cheat" way to do something, I will use it!

  4. Lovely, slick space ships, really nice job.
    Best Iain

  5. They look great! Thanks for sharing your panelling tips

  6. Glad that little tool is getting some use. I'm fully cured of any desires to use oil paints to do anything...

    Ships look great!

  7. For a simple paint job, they look clean and crisp and very convincing.

  8. Those ships DO look gorgeous, Byron! They have very sharp"human" lines to them and I do see the aesthetic to B5 and BSG. The gun metal look suits them very well. I like the work you did on the bases too, that red dag suprisingly makes the ships pop really well.

  9. These ships look the bees knees Byron. I have the same armada sitting waiting for paint so it's really good to see a set done this nicely. Those clean up tools look very useful, I may well track some down.....

  10. Great work Byron! I really need to look into that tool. Using heavy oil washes Q-tips really are a pain at times. Especially for tighter spaces where a harder product that actually held it's shape a bit would help