A Touch of Brass

When someone says ‘Victorian’, certain images will spring to mind – cobbled streets, sputtering gas lamps, wrought iron railings and billowing fog. These are the things that, if in evidence on your table, tell people that they will be fighting for Queen and Country in the Heart of the Empire.

Now, I’ve already built my cobbled streets (Let Me Take You by the Hand…) and my gas lamps (Let There Be Light), but there was something missing…

Namely, things wot are made of brass.

So, in order to rectify this, this week I’ll be looking at that staple of Steampunk Victoriana – the brass automaton.

Our first subject is this:

“But Jez,” I hear you cry, “surely that’s the latest iteration of the Cybermen, the cutting edge of cyber-conversion and therefore should be silver!”

Strictly speaking…Yes. However, as with any model you purchase, the overall colour scheme is entirely down to you…and if I choose to paint mine brass, who’s going to stop me?

Anyway, our second subject is this:

This is one of the plastic Halloween lights I picked up recently, removed from its light. Examining the sculpt, I realised that it didn’t have any eyes, so two disks of plastic were cut from an old spear shaft and glued into place. I know spiders are supposed to have multiple eyes, but as this isn’t a real spider, two would suffice for my purposes. I also decided not to fill the socket in its rear, as this will be a steam-powered automaton and we need somewhere to shovel coal in.

So…brass paint. There are several options when painting brass – buy some actual brass paint, which can be called anything from ‘antique gold’ to ‘tarnished brass’ or just use gold paint and dirty it up a bit. However, there is a cheaper and easier option – mix your own.

I took a fair amount of GW Shining Gold (other gold paints are available) and added a small amount of brown paint. I can’t tell you what this particular paint is called, as the label’s fallen off. As it’s a GW paint, it probably has a fancy name, but it’s a mid-brown colour, similar to tobacco. It doesn’t really matter, to be honest. Just add a bit of brown to your gold, until you get the brass colour you’re looking for. Because you’re adding a non-metallic to a metallic paint, it mutes the shine, so whilst you get a metallic look, it’s not so pronounced as a pure metallic, giving a more realistic brass look.

Like so:


Ooooh, shiny-ish! The next stage is to give your models of wash of dark brown – I used Docrafts Burnt Umber, which is a brown similar to the colour of dark chocolate. And you get this:


A cursory look would suggest that there isn’t that much diffetence between this stage and the previous stage, but a closer look will show that the wash has deepened the colour and created a greater ‘depth’ to both figures.

Now, you could, at this stage, give them both a careful dry-brush of gold, just to enhance the models further, but I was happy with them as they were, so just moved on to a bit of detailing.

For the Cyberman, I added some red to his chest light, eyes and mouth, to suggest that he had an internal furnace, like so:

And the spider had his eyes painted Mithril Silver, folowed by Bogey Green:

And the rear ‘vent’ was painted internally red, with a bit of black ‘smudging’ around the rim, to suggest smoke-staining:

And done. Not bad for an evening’s work.

Join me next time, as we return to the streets of Blackwell to see what further perils await the brave men of the Black Museum.


10 thoughts on “A Touch of Brass

  1. Great use of models Jez, to fill in on your requirements. If you need to add shine to a paint where you have mixed a non metallic and a metallic, use a thin layer of gloss varnish, this can also make eye lenses really pop


    • Thanks Dave. After everyone else was painting their Cybermen ‘canon’ colours, I just had the urge to paint one a bit different. And as I’d mixed up a fair bit of brass, I decided to paint up one of my spiders too. I’m quite pleased how they came out.

      As for varnish, good tip – although I don’t actually own any varnish. I think Simon may have used all the gloss varnish up…lol


  2. I really really really like this post. Sorry I never replied earlier (I actually missed it at first, in the confusion of this week). I particularly like how you`ve broken convention and gone for a over all brass effect. I don`t see enough diversity in table top gaming, wargaming, skirmish and rpg lately… including miniatures board gaming; as people tend just to whats given (i.e. what it says on the tin). Same applies to things like Doctor Who. Okay so there`s hundreds of written episodes of the series, all supported by endless drones of supplement manuals and books… but that`s just the stuff that`s written – by other people. Fans too quickly just call that `official` and move on, but WE, the hobbyists, can and should in fact just call that `a starting point` or a `jump off point` for our own imaginations to kick in and start to invent new and wonderful ideas of our own, rather than slavishly follow the norm. This is, effectively, what you`ve done.. by making your Cybermen brass, which is ideal for a steampunk world in the age of good old Queen Victoria (God bless her). I can just see in my mind`s eye the Paternoster club dealing with these monstrosities.

    I`m doing the same, only my Doctor Who vision is within a World War Two setting: and hes not even the star of the show, merely an occasional cameo showing.. to add some variety to my “what if…” `Operation Sea Lion` adventures (Campaign for this to follow sometime soon).

    LOVE the spider, and can imagine shovelling coal into the bum of the beast, and watching it chug away to cause mayhem and mischief, leaving destruction in its multi appendage wake hehe,


    • Thanks Steve. I did say to Hils when I received my “Exterminate” that I did intend on painting at least one up in brass – just took me slightly longer than I anticipated. And I think we both know that I’m not one to follow convention…not sure what the next coloir will be. However, i do have to admit that I’m pretty pleased with how both Cyberman and spider turned out.


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