I have finally decided that the reason I'm unhappy with most of my marines is not anything I'm lacking in terms of skill or technique (though I've learnt a lot from watching a recent DVD), but simply not taking enough care and time while painting.

To this end, I've embraced actually highlighting the armour on two of my rank-and-file Tactical Marines, just to see how this works out.  I've also started to water-down the Citadel paints slightly, and this has made working with them so much easier.  So far I'm finding a 8:1 paint to water ratio works well, or a 4:1 in the case of my older (read: thicker and dried up) paints.

My first attempts at armour highlighting
As you can see on the right, I'm no expert.  Having been inspired by some of the armies I've seen on the table recently and a friend's visible improvement, I've tried to take a little more care on these two marines.

The right marine is Mordian Blue base coated, then washed with Asurmen Blue.  The armour has then been highlighted with Ultramarines Blue, with a further highlight using Enchanted Blue.  The edges of the bolter have been (poorly) highlighted with Astronomican Grey.

The left marine is again a Mordian Blue base coat, but without a darker wash.  The armour was then lowlighted in Regal Blue, though not very well.  After this the armour was highlighted first with Ultramarines Blue then a 4:1 mix of Ultramarines Blue and Skull White.

Lessons learned:
  • Enchanted Blue is the wrong shade for a highlight on this base colour.  It actually looks like a different colour up close.  Looks ok on the table-top, but that's what I'm trying to move away from.
  • Astronomican Grey is far too light to highlight the black sections.
  • The Asurmen Blue wash brings little to the table other than making the Mordian Blue resemble Regal Blue.  This might be because I've little experience with washes.
  • My Fine Detail Brush is completely shot and I need a new one. I gave up trying to paint a highlight in the eye lenses once I admitted this.
All in all, I prefer the left marine.  The more extreme look to the highlighting brings out a comicbook-like style up close and looks good from a distance.  I think the right marine is overall too dark, and thus negates a lot of the work.  

Hoping to try to decorate the shoulder pad for the next step.
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