Tutorial: painting DA shoulder pad insignia
6 April 2010 | 5th Edition
Inspired by Emilio
There are many to go about this depending on the complexity and design of the emblem you are trying to paint. The method here by Emilio is a quick and simple means of getting them done with little hassle and even those who consider themselves inept at freehand work will be cracking them out in no time.
This process yields excellent results after a bit of practise. The advantage of freehand icons is that you can make pretty much any design you want — you are more restricted to the more corporate 'clone' icon on the Space Marine decal sheet.
Before you put paint on anything, get pencil and paper and rough out a sketch of the design you intend to use. You need to do this or you run the risk of a poorly proportioned icon on your model — a fault surprisingly easy to accomplish!
Then, design in hand, experiment with paint on card. Remember you have already painted the bulk of the model that you are applying the icon to — I'm guessing you don't want to start again, even only the shoulder pad. So master the technique first.
Step 1: cruciform base
First draw a simple cross to form the base of the sword. This doesn't need to be neat but it will be the reference point for the rest of the design.
Step 2: draw the dots
Next just map out the angles of the wings. Mark the key positions with small dots so that you can just link the dots up later. You can use a grey here rather than white as you'll be re-whitening at a later stage.
Step 3: detail the sword
Now beef up the sword. Don't worry if you overlap the dots made previously, at this stage you are really working everything around the sword.
Step 4: detail the wings
Now build up the wings. Join your previous dots then infill to create solid shapes. I try to keep the top of the wing level with the guard of the sword simply because it looks better that way I think. Symmetry is key here to a professional finish.
Step 5: detail the feathers
Now the trickiest part — the 'feathers'. You can use as many as you like but the greater the number the higher the skill level required to apply them. Should you wish this is where you can further differentiate one shoulder icon from another as its a big part of the design.
After painting on the feathers go back with some chaos black and neaten up the design. Not only does this give you the sharp angles that you want it also helps make the image stand out even more.
Step 6: tidy and embellish
Once you've got the solid painted white and neatened it up any uneven parts tend not to matter when seen on the model as a whole. You can see the finished result looks highly individual — so much more satisfying then applying a decal.
So that's it! Basically just break it down into the simplest shapes possible and try and do a few at once if you want the same icons throughout otherwise individuals in a squad can unintentionally end up looking quite different.
The same icon-producing process can be used on vehicles too. You will just need to upscale the design proportionately. Of course the bigger icon allows you a to use a more intricate design. But experiment first.