“The Knights Resplendent”: An Experiment with Chrome

I’ve been absolutely blown away and humbled by the response to my recent hobby experiment. Upon writing, the Instagram community have watched the short video I posted almost 18,000 times! Never before have I spent a whole day fielding questions and sending thanks. It’s really filled my bitter, grimdark heart with joy.

So I wanted to put together something of a tutorial/review for you all! I hope here I can answer some of the questions that have been flooding my way today.

I present to you: The Knights Resplendent

Chrome Space Marines
The Knights Resplendent in their chromed out glory

Witness Me!

There’s always been a little part of me screaming out for Space Marines that shine. The 41st Millennium is a very dark and grimy place but I think that, somewhere out there, there would have to be a band of super radical, 80s neon-bright warriors taking down the enemies of the Emperor while glittering like a He-Man hero. The release of the new, slick Primaris Marines (which I still refuse to see as a new “species” of Marine, rather an up-sizing for sake of scale), was the perfect opportunity to try bring my vision to life. I just needed the right tool.

I found the secret weapon in the form of a paint marker from legendary graffiti brand Molotow: the Liquid Chrome (20 Years Edition) Marker. I should mention off the bat, I’m in no way connected to the brand, or an “influencer” of any kind (*cough* not yet *cough*).

IMG_20180330_101644_399

Let’s break the marker down a bit, shall we? The marker is essentially a big tube of super shiny, alcohol-based paint that is pushed out by pressure on the nib (which comes in 1mm, 2mm or 4mm sizes). Of course, the bigger the nib, the bigger the pen (thus more paint), but for scale work, 1mm works spectacularly.

My first experiment with this super-pigmented paint was on a Tau Battlesuit, used to decorate the inner metal and icons. When I painted this in Australia, eBay only gave me access to the 2mm version of the pen, which made it difficult (impossible even) to cover some surfaces. In this case, I pushed down the nib into a small groove in my palette to create a pool of paint, which I quickly applied with an old brush. Of course, this method resulted in a lot of lost detail and an rough, bubbly finish.

Tau Battlesuit Chrome
My first experiment with Molotow Liquid Chrome

It should be noted, there are plenty of high-shine paints on the market, and a lot of chrome spray paints, but I was lucky enough to stumble upon this through graffiti culture and find it works very well with a minimum of fuss. No need for buffing powders or anything, just shake well, and apply. The main drawbacks are that the markers are relatively expensive, and would be a bit impractical if used to paint an entire army, as I will explain below.

Chrome Warhammer Space Marines Tutorial
The sub-assembly of the chromed-up Space Marine Sergeant

Putting it into Practice

As already mentioned, applying the paint couldn’t be easier. Of course, it’s best to keep your minis partially un-assembled at this stage because, unlike a brush, the marker is rather thick and will not bend to enter hard-to-reach places. I constructed the bodies of the Easy to Build Intercessors, leaving their arms and backpacks on the sprue until the coat was roughly even.

To apply the paint, simply shake well, press down a bit on a palette to get the paint running through the nib, and then draw onto the surface. Remarkably, the paint smooths itself out really well, flowing across the surfaces as a slightly glittery fluid then congealing as an almost rubbery, smooth mass. Naturally, you can’t really thin this (to my knowledge), so you’ll have to be content with a less-than-totally-crisp look. If you look closely at the photos of my painted examples, though, it hardly overloads details unless over-used or multiple coats are made to correct mistakes … no pressure, though!

I found, on my first try, that drawing over mistakes while the paint is still wet is a really bad move. Because the paint sets completely very, very slowly, drawing on the surface without waiting some hours will result in a rough, damaged and globby surface that is nowhere near as flat and shiny. For a truly mirror like finish, try and get everything painted in one quick go, and if you need to fix things up later, apply another layer only after a fair amount of time has passed (in this case, I only fixed up mistakes the next day or later). This restricts you a bit, and can result in some imperfect results (see, the results of clipping the backpack from the sprue on the image below), so be prepared.

Chrome Space Marines Molotow
A close-up in which you can probably see a bit of “thickness” appearing, specifically in the thick line of the backpack.

Another very important note: keep your grubby mits off the model! While it’s drying, the finish is incredibly fragile and even after it has dried, it remains easy to damage. Simply touching the model (leaving trace body oils) will result in a dulled shine, closer to Games Workshop’s brightest silvers rather than a true chrome. As such, I don’t think I’ll ever risk gaming with these fellows, or extending the project into a full army (because of cost restrictions as well).

Once the coat is on and dried, you can pick out details around (I used a lot of White/Celestra Grey, because dark objects seem to appear as holes rather than details against the chrome). The paint itself dries so smooth and shiny that properly thinned paint simply balls up and separates like water off a duck’s back. Because of this, plan ahead and only paint the areas you want to be shiny. I found that using another art marker (a 0.03 Copic Promarker) actually work better than paint to draw in black lines, such as grooves in the armour or between the shoulder pad and trim.

I have yet to experiment with varnishing these models (to tell you a secret … I have never varnished a model) and so do not know if the coat of protection will affect the shine. My guess, from just touching the finish, is that it probably would. Perhaps a gloss varnish might serve to enhance or alter the effect in interesting ways, but you’d have to take care to not make the whole model glossy.

And that’s about it in terms of tutorial! Elegant, right?

Chrome Space Marines Back
The mirror-like effect is more pronounced on large, flat surfaces. You can see a bit of the yellow tarp I use to protect my painting table reflected in the armour here.

Fact File: The Knights Resplendent

++ 002.M42 ++
++ Database of Potentially Renegade Adeptus Astartes ++
++ File: The Knights “Resplendent” ++
++ Thought of the Day: What fear of death have we who know there is immortality in the great and noble deeds of men? ++

In psychotropic warzones across the Imperium Nihilis, a highly ostentatious Chapter of  Adeptus Astartes have been recorded launching shock-and-awe assaults that have, more often than not, resulted in the total disruption of enemy organisation within hours. The chapter bears no codex-compliant livery upon their armour, and little numerical or rank identification, though all known members operate in armour shined to mirror-like brightness (for reasons yet to be explained to the Adeptus Administratum [file appends: Attempted_Blockade_of_The_Knights_Resplendent]). Though their uniformly dazzling armour is highly conspicuous, The Knights Resplendent are a reserved chapter, operating in secret until their brutal method of warfare (consisting of sudden, excessive barrages of high-ordinance, surgical drop-pod strikes and [REDACTED]altering [REDACTED] [file appends: Weapons_of_Sensory_Overload_and_their_Application]. Further to these troubling claims is the fact that the Gene-Seed source of the chapter has yet to be catalogued and ratified, suppressed by agents of His Holiness, Forge-Lord of [REDACTED], [REDACTED].


Rounding Up

So I think I’ll call this little experiment a wild success! There’s still more to be learned in this process, such as: how varnishes will affect the finish? Will the shine hold for years? How many models can you paint with one pen? Can you paint with a brush straight from the ink refill bottle? (My guess on this last one is: probably not smoothly).

For now, I’m planning to leave The Knights Resplendent here. I want to, perhaps, paint a Gravis Armoured Captain (or better yet… another Dreadnought), but that will be it for the marker I have, I reckon. Apart from Space Marines, I think this ink/paint would look amazing on Necrons, some neon Skitarii (one of my first thoughts when playing with the paint) or any other miniature that is smooth, futuristic and cyber-punkish. Though Infinity minis might be a little small in scale to apply this to, I also reckon the possibilities for use in that universe are endless!

I hope this helps and answers some questions. If you’re keen to see more of my work, follow this blog and my Instagram (@illuminator_hobby) and be sure to let me know if you find a cool application for this awesome marker!

Finished work on my entry for my local Games Workshop's monthly paint club. The theme I picked after winning last month with my Contemptor (humble brag 😎) was "Technological Marvels"! Seems almost everyone started painting Tau 😂 but anyway, here's my Battlesuit. Not happy with it for various reasons, but it was an experiment in painting a true chrome effect and using the Vallejo fluros to the best effect (still needs work, I reckon, but I'm getting there!) More at illuminatorhobby.wordpress.com #gamesworkshop #paintedminiature #warhammer #warhammer40k #tauempire #paintingwarhammer #art #miniature #hobby #warband #instahobby #paintingforgeworld #tau #miniwargaming #molotow #tutorial #minipainting #miniart #warmongers #workinprogress #minipainting #hardforheresy #wargaming #coolminis #coolminiornot #wipwednesday #battlesuit #mecha #spacemarines #8thedition

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