Painting Necron vehicles quickly

Necron ghost ark conversion

With the new Necron codex and vehicles out now, I decided to try my hand at painting a Necron Ghost Ark/Doomsday Ark conversion to see just how hard it was to get a good tabletop result as quickly as possible.

One of the Old Timers I hobby with was kind enough to let me have pick of his Necron units to go through for this little experiment. I decided on the larger vehicle knowing it was going to be more work in the end, but I wanted to push this and see what I could get away with.

My first thoughts on painting the vehicle
At first, I thought this was going to take forever by going the line highlighting route. Trying to line highlight this thing would have taken a few decades to do. That and doing multiple passes to get brighter areas would have made it near impossible.

Line highlighting is great, but not here. I want to get this thing painted before they get another new codex. As quickly as I thought I could pull it off, I scrapped it.

The painting technique I ended up using
The method I went with was an extension of the method Dave Taylor showed me when I was complaining about painting Dark Eldar models and how hard it might be to get a good tabletop look without spending a ton of time doing it.

The big thing with this model was getting a "good" tabletop result and not spending a huge amount of time doing it.

All in all, not counting the small pilot conversion or base conversion I did, it took me two days to paint. It was already assembled, I'm only counting the time it took to physically paint.

The construction
I made a couple small changes to the model with my friend's permission. First, I "attached" the pilot to the vehicle with a handful of cables instead of having him look like he's just sitting there. I thought it might be cool to have him look like part of the vehicle instead of someone going along for the ride.

Necron ghost ark pilot conversion

I made the cables out of greenstuff, picked what looked like good attachment points and connected him to the cockpit in six places.

The other change I made was to attach the whole thing to a substantial base. It's one of the bases that I used in my second attempt at a scarab swarm. It's made of plaster so it has some weight. This gave the vehicle some stability once I attached it.

Necron ghost ark base conversion

It's been attached with a sturdy aluminum, two-part bolt. One portion passes through the base and extends upward to the correct height while the other half is embedded into the underside of the vehicle. All you have to do is thread the two pieces together and it makes a rock solid connection.

The end result is a nice, sturdy vehicle with a slightly weighted base to hold it in place. It might be more psychological than anything else, but you don't feel like you're going to break it by trying to pick it up and move it forward six inches now.

A little bit about the base before going on
I should mention the base now since I'll be covering the painting for the rest of the post. It comes from Khepri's Eternal Legion and is from the same line I used for my Necron scarabs. The base is made from dental stone composite and has a little bit of weight to it compared to a resin base.

The composite is super easy to work with (drilling, gluing, etc.) and appears to be quite sturdy and chip resistant as well. My only concern might be for the bottom outer edge of the base where it meets the tabletop surface and paint chipping, but I won't know how it holds up until it sees some games.

There's no extra work needed either to prep it for paint or glue. I cleaned up the edge of the base with a X-Acto knife like I do my regular resin bases. Paint took right to it and I didn't have any beading, puddling up or anything like that to worry about. I thought the paint might be absorbed into the plaster quickly, but I had nothing like that happen while working.

I have to say I like the added weight when it comes to using it under flying vehicles like this. It adds stability to an otherwise fragile model which is a nice feature.

So let's get to the painting already
In order to keep this quick (the painting, not the post), there was going to be some sacrifice in quality. This is not a "display" model, but instead a gaming model. There's nothing fancy here and it's just paint. In fact, it's really just some drybrushing and some washes.

The first step comes before you paint it. There is one thing you MUST do for this approach to work correctly. You must clean all of your mold lines. You'll need to take a few extra minutes and go over your model with a fine tooth comb and make sure you have them all if you want to get the best results possible going this route.

After that, prime and basecoat the whole thing black. Once that dries, it's onto the drybrushing for the highlights. You'll use two colors here, GW Snot Green for the first pass and GW Scorpion Green for the second pass on the prominent edges only.

I used a large "tank sized" brush and made sure I focused my efforts on the edges and not the whole or more importantly the flat surfaces of the model. The less paint you get on the flat surfaces here will save you clean up time in a later step. It still goes real quick with a big brush though.

With your drybrushing done, it's one good wash over the whole thing with GW Thraka Green. This will mute the highlights slightly and remove some of the lighter stray drybrush marks that are on the flat surfaces. Make sure to let this dry completely before going onto the next step.

Since our Thraka Green wash only cleaned up a small percentage of our stray drybrush marks, we need to go back and remove the rest of them on the flat surfaces of the model. This is easy enough to do with slightly thinned black paint. Using it almost like a wash, you paint it loosely onto the flat areas of the model to "clean up" the surfaces.

Just make sure to keep the black away from the highlighted edges. If you do get it on there, don't worry, a quick pass with a clean, slightly damp Q-Tip will remove it before any damage is done and you can keep on working.

You don't wan't to use the GW Black Wash as it's transparent and to do our clean up work, we want something with a bit more opacity. That's why the paint instead of the actual wash. Thinning it with water only makes it easier to apply and we can get done quicker.

Adding the details to the model
That finishes off the majority of the work on the model. From this point on it's details to bring it to life. The metal areas on this are nothing more than GW Boltgun Metal with a Badab Black wash for effect.

The glow before the black touch up work is done

The "glowing" effect is done with GW Scorpion Green that has been painted into the recessed area, given a quick wash with GW Thraka Green and then the edges cleaned up with black where needed. If you decide you want to get into OSL and really pushing the glowing effect, this post will help you. In this case though, I kept it super simple.

The last detail is the circuit board like effect on some of the larger armoured panels. It's done with GW Snot Green and simply making a few angled lines with small circles at the ends. You don't need much, just a little bit here and there to add some feel to the model.

Bringing the model to life with some additional color
Since it's really nothing more than black and green, I thought introducing some other colors here and there might liven the model up and bring it to life. Anything to keep it from looking like a huge black/metal block sitting there on the table.

To do it, I added some spot colors here and there on the model. The globe that sits in front of the pilot is blue (like GW did on their version) instead of being green again. I added the grid as a detail touch. The engine vents are metallic, but they have soot stains which introduces some brown into them. And the base is the last part of this, it's got warm tones to it so the model sets apart from it.

Basing is something you'll have to consider when you start your force, but it's definitely something you want to take into account. Actually, this thing goes on a flying base, but like I said before, I want to add some stability with the heavier base and secure attachment point.

And one complete Necron Ghost/Doomsday Ark conversion
Here's the finished model. Two days of painting that went fairly quick. You could probably paint two of these at the same time working on one of them as the other dries and get two done in the same time.

I was worried at first how the technique would scale up from an infantry model to a large vehicle, but it worked perfectly. I'd consider this one a win with a fairly nice tabletop quality model done in a short time. It definitely looks much meaner when it's all painted up. As grey plastic, it looked fairly harmless, but it looks dangerous now.

Make sure to check out these posts as they might help:
Line highlighting made simple, how to
How to paint Necron Warriors
How to get a nice scarab swarm

Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your hobby tips and thoughts in the comments below!