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The Process of Painting Prairie Tick Queen

Spiritual successor to Queen Slugforabutt

In the GRIMDARK future of the forty-first millennium, my favorite faction is Tyranid, which is sort of like a crossbreeding of the xenomorph from Alien with a termite colony. I don't own any tyranid models, so getting this little bug as one of my bonus models in my December order from Reaper was my first chance at painting up something along the same lines.

In terms of the color scheme, well, it's a fairly bloated tick, so going with red for the sack on its body was the obvious choice (incidentally, I don't recommend doing a Google image search for "engorged tick" if you're squeamish about bugs). Though it's named as if living in a prairie, the model always looked like more of a desert piece to me, so I decided to paint the carapace in natural earth tones to help it blend in with its surroundings. For the eyes, I went with green, pretty much strictly for the contrast with the red body.

In the interest of getting more practice with basing, I decided to mount this on one of the 28 mm bases that I got as bonus extras in the same order. The integral base of the model was almost the same size as the round base, so I didn't want to get too fancy with it, aiming to just stick it on there and do a very basic filling of the gap. To that end, I mixed a little all-purpose spackle with some PVA glue, laid that all over the top of the base, put the miniature on top, and cleaned around the edges. Unfortunately, it seems that neither spackle nor PVA glue bond well with plastic miniature bases, so after popping the model off when I was checking the strength of the bond, I added in a little CA glue to fix it in place. Upon further inspection after confirming that that gave a secure bond, I noticed that the back-right leg had a supposed gap underneath it that was filled in with material, so rather than trying to cut a gap or fill it in with black, I thought that would be a nice place to add some extra frill to the base. It so happened that I had some grape stems available, so I cut off a little piece from those, let it dry out completely, and drilled a little mounting hole with a pin vise to give it a better place to bond.

The prepared miniature, in all its white glory

The main feature of this model is rather obvious, so I started out with getting a solid base coat of a nice red.

Return of the blurry photo!

I'm fond of the detailing under the body, even if it'll almost never be seen

Using some darker red mixes, I shaded around the edges of the sack and the bottoms of the "flat" areas, as well as along the sides of the central ridge.

Now it's got some depth, right?

Then, I mixed some brighter reds to highlight by drawing successively smaller crescents on the tops of the "flat" areas, glazing over them with the base red as needed to help tie the colors together, and finishing with a line of heavily-thinned white paint at the top outer areas on both sides and partway down the middle of the central ridge.

Next, I mixed a few different earth tones. I used the darkest of them on the bones near the front-right leg, the next darkest all over the carapace, and the next darkest after that for the rest of the base. Once they were dry, I gave all of those parts a dark brown wash.

It's all coming together now, isn't it?

The wash really brought out that bottom detailing, along with the mold lines that I missed

Once that was dry, I proceeded by highlighting the base with some sidebrushing of the original base color, followed by a little highlighting of the more prominent features. Then, I highlighted the carapace with little streaks and triangles of successively lighter colors, going all the way up to an off-white. Since I had some red glaze left over from earlier, I added a bit of that to the mandibles, front claws, and what I'm guessing is some type of proboscis as blood stains. Finally, I painted a dark green over the eyes, with a dot of white for highlighting and a dot of a light green at the bottom for a gem effect.

With that all done, I mounted the grape stem.

Not bad, huh?

Here's a better look at the carapace striations

And, well, that was pretty much that, aside from some little final touch-ups.

I think I did a fair job of keeping the blood stains subtle

Gah, mold lines!

Much cleaner look on this side

Less glare in this photo, to help show the painted "reflection" areas more clearly

This was a pretty simple miniature when all was said and done, but I enjoyed it. The highlighting on the carapace was particularly fun, because I could really see the striation effect coming together once I got two the second and third levels of highlighting. In retrospect, I could've either used a more contrasting ground color or (preferably) done some lining around the legs to help the model stand out more from the background, but all in all, I think it looks good enough for my first bug.

Up next: more adventures in basing! Also, Reaper miniature 89028 Arael, Half-Elf Cleric.

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