How to Paint Tiny Plastic Men REALLY Well

October 4, 2016

Tickets for the London40kGT 2017 will shortly be going on sale and we’ve been busy bottoming out the final details. In case you missed it:


The LGT2017 will be held on the 13th and 14th of May 2017 at the Naim Dangoor Centre, London. Save the date now and get ready to secure your place when ticket sales launch this November.


This Blog Post features an army many of you may have seen at the LGT2016. If you missed it last time or couldn’t make it to the event, now you have a chance to see it up close and personal, as well as hear from it’s great creator: Phil Anderson. Winner of best painted at the LGT2016.


 Can you give us all an introduction to your beautiful army, when did you start it?

I think we are going back about 20 years to when the Praetorian regiment was created at the Battle of Big Toof River. I bought my first guardsmen not long after they were released following that in what I think was '96/97.


How my army looked in early 00s was very different and it has undergone significant changes over the years in terms of painting and converting. In its current form this army was restarted in 2012 and had been steadily added to since then, total painted must now stand at over 5000pts.


Why did you choose this army?


I've always loved the Imperial Guard. I'm also a big history fan and when the historically inspired Praetorians were released I knew that I'd found the regiment for me. 

What was your inspiration? 

I'm sure any Praetorian player will tell you the film Zulu is a big inspiration and it is certainly true for me. The British stiff upper lip and the Victorian partly steam punk feel to the army provide plenty of ideas for conversions and indeed how I play them. Many of my characters have fleshed out backgrounds and when they take to the field you are assured to see the infantry lining up in front rank second rank.


Normally we see Praetorians in their red jackets. What made you want to deviate from that classic style? 


Once again it ties in to British history and a general desire to really make something my own. The British regiments during the relevant period eventually moved from the red to khaki so I decided to follow suit with my army. 


In addition to the khaki I also use a few other colours to denote seniority, company and function. You will see a flash of purple on command units, red and white on support units, red and a green on the infantry platoon and a few other colours here and there for unique units. 


We noticed a lot of the units are heavily converted, this must be a necessity when collecting an OOP army, how did you go about building the full army from such a small range of original GW figures?


It's certainly tough trying to fill in all the gaps in the Praetorian model range. It was small to begin with and as time has gone by it only really covers the standard infantry platoon. 

What this has created however is a fantastic opportunity for third party manufacturers to create all manner of kits, be it simple pith helmets, kilts, cavalry and much more. I make extensive use of these resources but always add my own touch to it through adding Aquila, helmet plumes, goggles and a considerable number of moustaches and mutton chops.


Using all these new parts in addition to creative use of GW components has enables me to make an army that totally unique.


 What were you favourite/least favourite models to paint, why?


That's a very hard question. I love painting freehand and you will see it all over the army so perhaps my Macharius or maybe my Thunderbolt might be my favourite. Also I think my Bullgryns might be contenders for both my most and least favourite. Favourite because they are amazing plastic kits which are a pleasure to paint. Least favourite because I made the mistake of fully assembling them before painting and then really struggling to get to all the hard to reach details and awkward bits. Next time I'll be more careful with my assembly.

How many Models do you have in the 1850 point army you took the LGT2016? With so many models, what motivates you to paint them all to such a high standard?


I think I'm total it was 77 infantry, 9 tanks, 5 cavalry, 3 field artillery and 1 flyer. Seeing a beautiful army is my favourite thing about this hobby, I want to do every model justice so that it when it does take to the table it looks as cinematic as possible. Also I find playing in a tournament great motivation even if sleep the week before suffers from the late night painting sessions!


How did the tournament go for you? Tell us about how your games went, and who you played?


Despite taking what a thought was an uncompetitive army I won 4 of my 5 games and finished 15th and the top ranked Guard player. My army included all of my favourite (in terms of fluff) units and included Ratlings, Bullgryns, Storm Troopers, Rough Riders and a host of regular guardsmen with lasguns. 

The tournament favoured an objective securing army and with my mobile army (everything is mounted except the Ratlings and Bullgryns) I was able to have a presence all over the battlefield and give my opponents a headache in terms of target priority. The game I lost was against the Knights which was also a kill point mission, only my Thunderbolt successfully jinking 30+ Gatling shots a turn saved me from a tabling.


I faced 2 ork, 2 marine and one Knight armies. All of the games were great fun and the opponents very sporting. My highlight was my game against a Salamanders list which went down to the wire with my Praetorian Chosen Men (Ratlings) sniping the marine off the relic at the death with a rending shot enabling the close by Captain Caine to run over and secure it for the glory of Praetoria.


What advice would you give to someone looking to improve their painting skills?


I think having a good set up is key. You need good light (daylight bulmbs and I like more than 1), decent brushes which you take care of with brush soap and a good desk or table, having a permanent place to paint pays real dividends.


One thing I've often struggled with over the years is my paints not being thin enough, additionally they often tend to dry on the palette too quickly. One thing that has really helped me is using Lahmian Medium rather than just water to achieve the desired consistency.


Another bit of advice I would give is regarding freehand work. In my army there freehand banners, insignia, motos and all manner of lions on the various tanks. I always sketch out my ideas on paper first before eventually drawing the design in pencil on the model and then painting


What was your overall experience like at the LGT? Will you be coming back next year?


It was a great event and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Real life permiting; both my Praetorians and I will be back with some new additions in the hopes of defending the best painted title!  


A very special thanks to Phil Anderson for the interview. We look forward to seeing his beautiful models on the table again on the 13th and 14th of May 2017 at the next London 40k Grand Tournament.


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