Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Old Crow Tom War Get 'Em On The Table Tutorial

Here is a quick guide on how I pianted and based my 15mm Old Crow Sci Fi troopers. They were painted to get on the table rather than be best of show, but I'm still proud of them nevertheless. Believe me, if you want to get through your lead mountain, this works.

You will also be surprised how little individual detail matters when you see the squads and then the platoon on the table. In fact the placement of rocks and grass clumps makes a much bigger difference than worrying about insignia, scopes etc.

The troopers themselves are designed to mimic the Near Future warriors (as per those in the gameplay rather than more attractive advertising artwork) in the Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (GRAW) XBox game. The assumption is that they have camo'd weapons and are wearing desert gloves (except leaders - makes it easier to spot them).

Figures: Old Crow 15mm Sci Fi
Bases: 30mm round, 2mm deep mdf from Warbases.co.uk
Basing Material: Vallejo Stone Effect Black Lava
Tufts: Silfur - various
Paints: See Tutorial:

Stage 1 Prep:

Clean mould lines and flash. Ensure figure bases are flat, score underside of base with knife and wash in detergent. Whilst drying, score top of base in crosshatch pattern

Now glue figures to the bases. I know, about turn on how you would normally do it. Trust me. I use a strong PVA glue from the local hardware store. I don't skimp here. Plenty of glue, making sure it leaves no gap round the figure's own base and then tease out to around half a centimetre away from the figure. Normally all done with a cocktail stick.

Stage 2 Bases:

At this stage the figures are cleaned, prepped and stuck to the bases. Do you wait for the glue to dry? Hell no!  After a few minutes the first bases can be picked up (carefully), experience counts here, allow the glue to begin setting and go clear if you prefer.

Get your pot of Stone Effect Black Lava, shake, stir, then using an old brush, work it onto the base, up to and around the figure base. Use a cocktail stick to poke/roll it into hard to get to places. If you want to add rocks/large tallus etc, dab them into a bit of PVA glue then push into the Black Lava whilst it's still wet. Work the Lava up to to base of the rocks as necessary.

Word of caution. The whole lot shrinks as it dries, creating a nice firm grip. If you put a lot of deep cuts into your base when crosshatching, they may show through. A repeat application maybe with a bit of sand mixed in does the trick.

The Lava is water based - easy to clean if you get on the brush, figure, table, yourself. Delete as required.

Stage 3: Go watch a movie

Movie, beer, pizza

Stage 4: Undercoat

At this point you may want to spray a WHITE undercoat over everything. That will work. I swear by Citadel OOP Smelly Primer.  It gives me more control. I diluted the priner and painted the figures, allowing the metal to come through  slightly (it shows as grey) on the top of the helmet, shoulder pads and breast plates.

I left the Lava black! Go figure!

Stage 5: Painting the Figures

You'll love this bit. Citadel Gryphone Sepia Wash, big brush and just dollop on!  Make sure it gets into the folds and crevices. As you are applying it, use your thumb to gently remove excess from the top of the helmet,  shoulder pads and missile case.

The effect you will have is - the 'white' undercoat has turned 'sand', where the metal (grey) is showing through it gives a worn rather than factory new look.

You may need to repeat this a second time but be careful. It's best to use a smaller brush and apply where required to make joins/creases etc stand out. I also used a second selective coat of Sepia to make the belt equipment just that bit darker.

Now take Citadel Badaab Black Wash and apply to the rifles and missile sighting equipment. You want the effect of a grubby, used weapon in a camouflaged casing. If you want to paint black/gunmetal instead do.

I chose to just let my guys be wearing desert camouflage gloves - no need to paint hands at all.

Now paint the visors the colour of your choice. My visors are Citadel Dark Angels Green with a light accent of Citadel Scorpion Green along the top ledge. This is the most challenging part of the paint job.

Allow to dry thoroughly. This will be your break point for today.

Once you are sure the figures are completely dry, break out a bottle of Windsor and Newton Peat ink. You don't have to use it but it will give your figure a bit of pop and really line the joins/creases etc. I advise experimentation first - maybe putting it on diluted at first - but the same rules apply as the Gryphone Sepia Wash.

That's your figure done expect any additional detailing you want to do. Don't be too judgemental at this point - wait till you do the bases.

Step 6: The Bases

If you chose to spray the whole lot white earlier then you could have just plastered Gryphone Sepia over everything - figure and base. Let it run into all the nooks and crannies.

I want my desert bases to match my OOP Citadel Sulphur Wasteland (or some such) battle mat. So, I use a pot of Do It All (DIY Store) Matt Pebble Beach emulsion - really! - emulsion - I glob it on with the same brush (size no.5) I used for the Black Lava. Because the Lava is black, I don't have to get too close to the figures or between their legs - it's shadow!

Should be dry (sic) in 15-20 minutes. If you are doing a whole platoon, the first base will be dry around the time you are painting the eighth. Now glob on your Gryphone Sepia as above. Put it on heavier around rocks and large tallus.

Again, the first base should be dry around the time you've done the eighth. Wop out your Citadel Bleached Bone and lightly drybrush - building up to the desired effect. Over do it? Apply more Sepia. Drybrush a bit harder across the tops and ridges on any stones and tallus.

The Silfur. Fook'in fantastic stuff! Too little looks plain silly and too much looks like they're in an unkempt back garden. You pull it off the cellophane it comes on with a pair of tweezers. I will place two, three clumps in a base in different positions until I'm satisfied. Then, when you are ready, place a spot of white glue where you want your grass tuft and put the tuft in position using the twezers. I now use a cocktail stick to make final adjustments and when happy, use it to push down the centre the tuft.

If you have the edge of a base showing up or a bald patch this is where the Silfur comes into it's own and hides a multitude of sins.

Steps 7,8 and 9: Beer!

Sounds lengthy but it's not. Work in batches of 4-6 bases so you don't get bored. Boredom = loss of concentration = that Oh Sod It! moment. It also creates natural breaks for coffee, tea, blogging etc.

There you go. Please feel free to ask questions. If you are organised and dedicated and have no other distractions two to three nights should see you get a platoon on the table.

Note that the flash used in the photos has washed out the depth of colour in the base. The 'squad' photo is closest but still too 'light'.



  1. Thanks Joe.

    I should add. If you want a grungier and toned down appearance, drybrush the figures with Vallejo Iraqi Sand.

    There other 'fast' desert scheme I use.

    1) GW Desert Yellow applied semi opaque on white undercoat. Wash with GW Devlan Mud, heavy Drybrush Vallejo Iraqi Sand, light drybrush helmet/armour/shoulder pads etc GW Bleached Bone.


  2. Great tutorial, i suffer from this...

    "Boredom = loss of concentration = that Oh Sod It! moment."

    Made me smile to myself, when i read that.

    Keep them coming, might get some of my 15's on 30mm bases, neat idea.


  3. Fantastic tutorial, and great follow up comments. I'm definately going to give this a go .... I just hope I get results like yours!!!

  4. Thanks guys.

    My advice is PRACTICE. I have a CD with a dozen or so Nrgggh figures on - I try out the techniques and strength of washes on these.


  5. Mark, what a great tutorial, made me laugh no end. mind you i'd have to find something less smelly than the Vallejo stuff or SWMBO starts.

  6. Do you have a breakdown of the weapons each trooper is carrying? Are all of them armed with Under barrel grenade launchers for example? Any carbines?

    I can't quite tell from the pics above or the website!

    Awesome tutorial btw!


  7. Hi Brian

    I make no apology that my TOE maximises the product selection in the available packs.

    2 rifle packs and 1 support weapons pack = 2 squads.

    Each squad has an individual squad leader and:
    1 rifle 1 missile
    1 rifle 1 U/GL
    1 rifle 1 Sniper (converted to SAW)
    2 Rifles

    I base 2 lying guys together or one lying one kneeling.

    Ideally I'd like to have 1 missile and 1 SAW (sniper) in each fireteam but that would mean basing selection on the support packs and then wouldn't have enough squad leader figures.


  8. No worries! I'm doing the same thing with my GZG, Rebel Minis, and Khurasan boys! I LOVE the look of the Old Crow figs and really want to pick some up! I totally follow your thought process in creating your TO&E!

    Great blog and thanks for sharing!

  9. Thanks again all.


  10. If only I'd done this when I first got my Old Crow. Your guys look all kinds of awesome. I'll have to remember it for future armies though.

  11. Thanks Troy. Not sure they're awesome but certainly do the trick.