Pattern Recognition

In my previous posts, I’ve concentrated mainly on what can be done to improve Heroclix pre-painted figures, so that you can feel justifiably proud of fielding them in your superheroic skirmish games. But as my Not-So-Secret Origins post pointed out, Wizkids are not the only manufacturer of superheroes…

So, having shelled out your hard-earned cash for some tiny lead (other metals are available) men and secured them to the base of your choice, you now have a tin man in need of colour. As with all my miniatures, I generally undercoat in white, as I personally feel it highlights all the relevant detail of the miniature that may be obscured by a black undercoat. Plus as my paints are a mixture of very old Citadel colour, Revel and some Docrafts Artiste acrylics, which are all relatively ‘thin’, it means that I don’t have to apply multiple coats to get the colour I want.

Some figures are easy, immediately suggesting a character, back-story and colour scheme and I can’t wait to start painting them. Some I start painting, then change my mind halfway through, so end up re-painting. (Tip: Cheap nail polish remover, i.e. acetone, is good for removing acrylic paint on metal miniatures. However, it will eat plastic ones and plastic bases, so be careful.) The final category is where you get a figure, maybe as a gift or part of a game, or you buy it because it’s cool and then you’re not entirely sure what you’re going to do with it, so it languishes in the lead pile or the paint queue until you’ve made up your mind. I think we’ve all got one or two of these…

As the majority of pre-Image superheroes were essentially a bunch of guys and gals running around in spandex body-stockings, without shoulder pads, pouches, holsters and bandoliers, the artists had to get a bit more creative with the costumes. Good examples of two-colour costumes are Aurora and Northstar from Alpha Flight, Guardian, also from Alpha Flight and, of course,  Spider-Man. However, Spider-Man differs from the others in that he has added detail in his costume, namely the web pattern on the red parts. Which is a massively long-winded introduction to what this post is actually about, which is painting patterns on semi-featureless supers. Anyone can do this – all it takes is a steady hand, a good pair of eyes  and, above all, patience.

As shown in a previous post, the simple addition of contrasting stripes can enhance a figure. The advantage I had with the Scorpion conversion was that the lines were already molded onto the figure, so the Hornet was quite an easy paint job. Worth another look? I think so…


So, if we take the DC Heroclix Cheetah from the Icons set, who looks like this…

It’s a nice figure for a slutty cat-villainess, although the pre-paint does hide the fact that the face sculpt is terrible, looking like Roddy McDowell from the original Planet of the Apes. That and the fact that DC colourists seem to think leopard and cheetah-skin is yellow with brown blobs on it…(See Giganta’s original costume for another example of this.)

Undercoat white, addition of contrasting coloured stripes, painted ‘mask’ to cover the rubbish face sculpt and inspiration drawn from television shows of my youth and we get the nefarious, teleporting Cheshire Cat.

Cheshire 1

Cheshire 2

And just like a Pool table, if you’ve got stripes, you need to have spots. Simplest use of spots on a miniature is to do camouflage, as it’s supposed to break up the outline of the wearer and unless you’re following a specific Military Pattern, random blobs of different colours work just fine. My example of this is a repaint of the S.W.A.T. Specialist from the Marvel Heroclix Universe set.




Admittedly, it is a little difficult to tell how effective this technique has worked, as the picture didn’t come out quite as well as I’d hoped, but you get the general idea.

Once you’re happy that your brush control is good enough, you can start to get a bit more adventurous. Prior to me getting my hands on him, the figure below was BA-10 Seeker,  from Four Color Figures Superfigs line. Now he is the Owl, a Golden Age vigilante…


But to fully appreciate my patience when painting this figure, we have to take a look around the back…


His feathered cape grants him the power of flight and came out rather well, I felt.

Of course, then I decided to get really fancy. Another Superfigs miniature, this time SU-01 T-Bolt, the premise for which was “What if the Black Panther was a bad guy?” The answer is that he would be a Liberian crimelord, known as King Leopard.

Leopard 1

“Hey Man, you think I got fancy pants? Just you take a goooood look at my cape…”

Leopard 2

And that, DC comics, is how you do leopard-skin. Nuff said…

Hopefully, this has provided some further inspiration for painting or repainting your superheroes. Comments, as always, are appreciated.


2 thoughts on “Pattern Recognition

  1. Another cracking post Crow! and some smashing paint jobs too, I think you were pulling my leg when you said you’d have to “up your game”, I think one might have to but it’s not you I think! I know what a pain it can be to paint leopard spots and you’ve done a superb job there. I have to say however that my favourite has to be “Cheshire Cat” I love that costume (is her real name Emily Madeline Gabriel by any chance?).

    Cheers Roger.


    • Thanks Roger. I consider my painting skills to be “table-ready”, so suitable for gaming, rather than for display. That said, I’m always striving to improve my technique, so will always think I could have done better. Sometimes, however, things turn out better than you expected, which is always a bonus.


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