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Modular Urban Board Project Log 3: painting the Sanctum Administratus

The the last log entry I was umming and erring about the colour scheme for the Sanctum Administratus. In this week's log, which should probably be titled "things I managed to do in between long stretches of Mass Effect: Legendary Edition," I've painted a second intact building segment. In and of itself that isn't exactly newsworthy, so I'll go the extra mile and provide the step-by-step paint recipes.

Am I 100% sold on this scheme? No. It simultaneously needs more and less detail, and by the measure of my usual terrain painting, it's not that quick either. So why am I giving you a recipe for it? Well, largely, in case there are individual elements of it that you like, and want to steal.

Rattle Cans
I spray primed with Mechanicus Standard Grey, then did a patchy semi-zenithal spray of Zandri Dust. This is going to get mostly hidden by the basecoat stage, but serves to provide some subliminal tonal variation that doesn't show up much in the photos and helps knock it off being a flat colour. TBH, though, you could just spray prime with Wraithbone and skip the basecoat stage if you were feeling lazy. The end result would look more plastic-y but you'd save time and money.

Sloppitty basecoat
The basecoat is actually a heavy, wet overbrush of a creamish whiteish emulsion paint. You could use any creamy off-white, and acrylic is probably your best bet since it'll be easier to work with, but it's just what I had to hand. Wraithbone might be a good shout, if you want a Citadel colour.

Nihilakh Oxide is slopped straight on over the cream colour for a very, very oxidised look. A drybrush of Warplock Bronze then goes over the top.

This is comfortably the most time consuming element.
  1. Slop on a basecoat using the Cygor Brown Citadel Contrast Paint. This goes on smoothly and provides good coverage compared to watering down a normal paint. Be sure to use a BIG brush to block in the large areas first, then go in with a regular size brush to do the rest. That'll save you a bunch of time. Regardless, this is the longest, most boring step of the whole thing. After this, it's all downhill.
  2. Slop on a watered down orange-brown. I used Army Painter's Dirt Spatter, but literally any mid-brown with an orange tint will do the job. Be liberal and loose with your application, don't try and get complete coverage - you want some variation.
  3. Throw some watered down bright rusty oranges at the recesses. Any bright orange will do; I used Ryza Rust, and also mixed two rust-coloured powder pigments with Lahmnian Medium to create additional rust washes so that there's a mix of intense colour on there. If you're strapped for time, then just one or two bright oranges will be fine.
  4. Drybrush bits of the rust with Leadbelcher (or in my case, Army Painter Gunmetal, but it doesn't matter). I concentrated on window sills, doorframes, floors, and stuff at person height.
  5. Do a heavier Leadbelcher drybrush on any moving parts, e.g. extractor fans, pistons, cogs and door/window runners.

Wiring & lights
I did these with Black Templar Contrast paint in a single layer. There's a strong argument for doing the lights switched on, but I was trying to speed up.

Add filth
I recess shaded the building with Agrax Earthshade. Don't apply this over the whole thing - you'll just get a muddy mess that pools in big flat areas of the walls. Apply it in recesses, and to show damp runoff and other crud. If you want a quick and easy method of fading, apply a thin film of water to an area with a damp brush, then blob the Agrax in the lower half of that area - you'll get a smoother fade. I alternated between that and harsher fades to try and imply layers of built up crud, but for the next building I'll probaby avoid the harsher tidal marks.

So there you have it! If you've painted your own version of this kit in a different scheme, please do link it in the comments section - I am permanently thirsty for ideas of how to paint the next batch of this stuff and could easily be swayed to doing something entirely different if I like the look of it. I'll end with a few parting shots:

I chose to do less weathering on the interior for obvious reasons, but it's still pretty appallingly grim for the occupants.

I find the sheer scale of these kits is quite imposing on the tabletop... in a good way. I feel like Imperial architecture should make people feel small and oppressed. Woooo, dystopia.


  1. It's always nice to see intact buildings in 40k, since it makes a nice change of pace from ruined buildings, craters and other debris

  2. Lovely! I love how it looks like it was just abandoned, rather than being a blasted ruin with plants or whatever you usually see. (and still gives that old and heavily used look that is needed for 40k)

    Might benefit from some detritus though, particularly on the interface of the balconies and the walkways. I did a test piece a while back that may be helpful.

    1. Ooo, I like the result you got! Not sure how to implement something similar for mine as these pieces are all modular; they aren't stuck to the base or each other, which gives me huge flexibility in board layouts at the cost of being unable to add details that integrate the walls with the floor.


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