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Posted by ArkenTyre

Plaid = Pain

Sometimes we have grand visions for what we want our final models to look like. When we can’t accomplish those goals easily, sometimes the models sit for a while, sometimes a very long while, like over a year. Such was the case with my unit of Trollkin. At SoCal ‘03, I picked up a unit of Trollkin with the intent of running mercs in the next year. I had Magnus all done and ready and in no time I’d be good to go. I prepped them, primed them and started paint… then came time to address the tartans. I drew a big fat blank. I saw how they were done on the box set, but my mind just simply couldn’t reconcile how to get my brush to do what I was seeing.

This past week I was staring at my half finished Trollkin and decided; that’s it! These are getting finished this week no matter what. If they look like crap… so be it. At least they’ll be done. So I started tackling the tartans… To my surprise they aren’t as hard as they look. The trick is the order and the colors.

Looking up kilts…. Not like that!

There are dozen’s of online sites that will tell you all you want to know about tartans, colors, weaves, dyes, heritage and more. If you’re into it you can plan out exactly what tartans would match the spirit of your Trollkin. Or you could be a bum like me and just use what looks cool.

I decided to go with what I consider to be the “classic” tartan. The reality it there isn’t a classic one, but when I think of someone wearing a kilt, I see the colors red, green and off white or yellow. There are a large number of kilts that use these color patterns, and have dozens of differing weaves. Here’s the thing though. We’re only attempting to create the illusion of the weave. For the most part they are way too intricate to capture exactly, which is part of why they are so intimidating.

I mean if I had to match this:

I’d probably go out of my mind.


These would send me screaming to the loony bin.


So it then becomes my favorite time on BrushThralls. Illusion time! We don’t have to mirror the look. In fact, we probably can’t. We just have to create the illusion of the full tartan, and let your eyes do the work for you.

To start, we’re going to need a background. So decide what base color you want the tartan to be. In my case, I saw red as the primary color. I think it’s best if you stay on the darker side for the base colors. That’s not to say a light color can’t look good, but I think the darker color will hide any mistakes a tad better. So I’ve lain down a smooth basecoat and I’ve done only a little highlighting. Ultimately this probably isn’t a big deal. Your eyes won’t be able to discern too much of the highlighting due to the fact that the crossing stripes will catch your eye. Still a little shading will go a long way. For my basecoat I chose VMC Calvary Brown and highlighted with a touch of VMC Red Leather.

The next step is to lay down a stripe. I find that doing the long stripe first is easiest. Try to say as much in the middle as possible. It may be easier if you make one small thin pass and a few successive passes to thicken up the line. Once this is done try to evenly space the horizontal lines.

…and another notch!

Ok so that’s pretty boring, here’s how we spice it up. First take your base color and lighten it. I started with straight Citadel Dark Angels Green, and for my next color I mix it 50/50 with Citadel’s Scorpion Green. The trick here is to cut your thicker lines right down the middle with the lighter green. Do this for all your green lines.

Hacked like kung pow chicken

Now for the final touch take all squares you’ve created with the green and cut them in half like this. All zoomed in it doesn’t look like much but when we back it out, you can see it come together. Finally here’s how it looks on the model.

Red not your bag? Check out what some other colors look like. Try it out and let me know how it goes!