Painting Poorly: A Song of Ice and Fire - Builder Scorpion Crew

Become a Patron!
by CMON Games

"I Promise You, Castle Black Will Stand!"

So, as news of new units for A Song of Ice & Fire slowly trickled out over the few months after its release, I found myself (and STILL find myself) SUPER excited at the latest morsel of information about new Units and play styles, especially with the Night's Watch.  But news about a particular Unit really stopped me in my tracks.  All of the stats just didn't seem very good, and there were so many drawbacks, that I knew, I JUST KNEW, that it would never be used in a game, in spite of how cool the sculpt was, but lo and behold, the Builder Scorpion Crew is one of my favorite Units for my Night's Watch.

This thing is just a beast, and on paper, it just doesn't do it any justice until you actually get that sucker on the battlefield and see just how BRUTAL it can be against your opponent.

And look at that SCULPT!  That looks awesome!  The first of the War Machine Unit, the Builder Scorpion Crew sets the bar pretty high, be essentially being a tableau you could have pulled right out of the show!

Let's get this bad boy painted up!

1. Gameplan, Prep, and Prime

So, just like Jon Snow, Maester Aemon, and the Sworn Brothers, the hard part will be trying to make the Builders look interesting and unique, and not just a bunch of black blobs.

I'm going to be basing most of my decisions on the amazing box art:

As you can see, there's a lot of greys, and the hoods of their cloaks actually have a blue tint to them, so I've assembled the following paints:

Army Painter

Plate Mail Metal


Basic Skin Tone, Dark Sand, Flat Earth, Hull Red, Field Blue

Handmade Modern

Slate (Any Standard Grey will do)


Black and White

So, the only thing I have not listed here are the paints that I'll be using to color their hair, but I'm going to be honest, these guys can have whatever color hair you want, and if you've been following along with my tutorials then you should have the basic idea for how to do grey hair, red hair, blonde hair, and everything in between.

I've gone ahead and primed them with what I like to call "Poor Man's Zenithal" priming.  I base the whole thing with matt black spray on primer by the Army Painter before taking some matt white and spraying it from directly overhead.

Because this is a more complicated sculpt, the black will help with the nooks and crannies that can't be reached, however, the spray of white will help make the lighter colors stand out, such as the skin of the faces, the wood of the bolts, etc.

2. Basecoats

Again, quick reminder that all of the paints you're using for basecoats (and highlighting for that matter) you will want to thin 50/50 with water.

That said, the first thing we're going to be painting will be the wood of the scorpion itself and the ammo box.  Try to get a nice even coat, and don't be afraid to do 2 coats to get good coverage, though if you have a little bit of the black showing through, that's definitely okay for this.

Here's another angle for you to see how the ammo box was painted.

Next, we'll be working on the weird padded armor on some of the crew members, painting it with your slate grey.  For this one, it's all over his upper body, but for another of the models it only comes down their sleeve and another only has it covering the front of his body.  Just be on the lookout for it, as the grey can be used to great effect to break up all the black.

Once that's done, we'll be mixing up some of our black and white in a 1/1 ratio and painting their tunics, pants, sleeves, and boots.  We use the combo black/white mix because this actually gives us more depth instead of TRUE black, and not having anywhere that is darker than the others.

After that, we're going to take our 1/1 ratio of black/white, and mix in an equal portion of field blue.  This will lighten the black/white mix just a bit, and give it that hint of blue that we're looking for, and we'll use this to paint the hoods/cloaks covering their shoulders.

Then use your basic skin tone to paint the faces and the hands.  You'll probably have to do two coats of this color for the faces in order to get a smooth application, and just try to be as careful as possible, as the angles can get a little tricky since they're all looking downward.

Now, take your dark sand and paint the scorpion's draw string and the shafts of all the bolts.  Nothing too fancy here, but you might have to do a few coats since it's a lighter color.

Next, use your plate mail metal to paint all of the arrow heads, including the one in the crewman's hands, along with the metal bands running up the sides of the ammo box.  I don't thin my metallic paints because that can have a weird effect on their consistency, but the plate mail metal is good enough that you can if you want, which will allow the primer color to show through a little.

This would also be the time to use your plate mail metal to paint the metal portions of the scorpion itself, including the flight groove/arrow track, and the decorative brackets on the sides and legs.

Before you paint the metal portions of the night's watch scabbards and belts, I recommend you paint the scabbards and belts themselves, using the hull red.  I love this color for Night's Watch leather, as it adds just enough color without being distracting.

Finish off the basecoat by painting their hair whatever color you like, and we're ready for the shade step once it's all dry!

3. Shading

Without getting into the types of shades for the different colors of hair you choose, the amount of washes that you need for the Builder Scorpion Crew is actually fairly small.

We'll be using Flesh Wash, Dark Tone, and Soft Tone, all by the Army Painter.

Start off with the flesh wash, and apply it to their faces and hands, just a thin layer to add some depth and shadow.  Try to avoid getting it on their facial hair, and try not to let it pool up too much in their eyes.

Next, take your soft tone and apply it to the draw string, and all of the shafts of the bolts.  When shading the bolts in the ammo box, try not to use too much, as you don't want it to completely obscure the sculpts of the bolts at the bottom of the box.

Now, use your dark tone and apply it to the arrowheads and the exterior of the ammo box, both the wood and metal portions.

And while you've got your dark tone out, you should also start to wash the scorpion the same color.  All of the wooden portions along with the metal, just the same as the ammo box.  Go section by section, such as starting with the legs before moving upward to the arms and frame, so that you don't forget anything.

The last thing we'll be washing will be the builders themselves.  Use your dark tone on all their clothing, including their scabbards and belts, and then wash their hair last with whichever color you've chosen.

4. Highlights and Finishing Touches

Once the washes have completely dried, the first thing we're going to do to highlight this sucker is a little drybrush on the wood.

Using your flat, wedge, or chisel brush and some dark sand, apply a little dry brush to the frame and legs of the scorpion, along with the wooden portions of the ammo box.  The dark tone, basecoat, and dark primer help give the wood a really dark, weathered and worn look, like when your fence starts to look super old and goes from being brown to almost black.  The drybrush gives the illusion that pieces of the wood is chipping and revealing fresher wood underneath.

Here's a better look at the ammo box after being drybrushed.

Next, you can take your field blue, without any black or white in it, and start to apply some top-down highlights to the hoods of the crewmen.

Look at the model from a bird's eye view and apply a highlight to everything you can see, ie. the shoulders, the folds in the hoods, the top of the hood itself.

Next, apply some highlights to the skin with your basic skin tone.  Paint the forehead, cheeks, and the bridge of the nose, along with the knuckles and front of the fingers for each crew member.

This part is difficult because of the complexity of the model and how every is positioned, so don't be afraid if you get some paint someplace you didn't mean for it to go.  We can always paint over it.

Now, take your dark sand and apply a thin line to the top of the drawstring and all the shafts of the bolts.  For the best effect, you'll want to try to pick out each individual bolt inside the arrow box to make them all pop.

After that, you'll start to highlight all of the padded armor with you slate or standard grey.  Here you can see that yo just want to paint the center of each diamond, where here...

The idea is to highlight each individual ridge in the front of his torso.

Then, mix up some black/white mix, but this time add more white than black, so 1/2 parts black and white, and highlight the crew members' basic clothing.  Try to accentuate each fold in the fabric in their robes and pants, along any areas that might catch the sun from the top down angle, such as where the robes hang on the calfs or a knee like shown above.

We're almost done!  Now, take your dark sand and paint each of the stitches in the robes and hoods to make those details pop.

Mix a little bit of that dark sand and some hull red to get a highlight for the belts and leather.  Just highlight the belts and scabbards with a thin line going along the top of whatever accessory you're painting.

Finish off by highlighting the hair and beards and that's pretty much it!

5. Basing

So, since a good majority of this "Miniature" is the base, I wanted to give you guys some ideas as to how to achieve the look that I did.

I use Vallejo Dark Earth gel to create this muddy effect.  I simply use an old brush and glob it on, being careful to avoid the lines for front, rear, and flank arcs which I've painted field blue.  I never try to make the application of the Dark earth too even, as globbing it on gives the illusion of footprints and uneven ground, which I think looks really cool.

Once that's dry (it can take a good four to five hours depending on how thick you applied the Vallejo Dark Earth), I spray it with matt spray and then mix up my snow mix as described in my Stark Outriders tutorial.

About equal parts water, PVA glue, and gloss varnish mixed in with Army Painter Snow until you get the consistency of about toothpaste.  Because the Scorpion Builder Crew has such a LARGE base, though, you're going to need a good amount of it.

Apply that to the base, leaving a few areas open for bushes and grass tufts, along with the main area between the actual builders free of any of your snow mixture.

Now, sprinkle this on top of the snow you've laid down:
White static grass by WWS.  This will go on top of the snow mixture, and when it all dries, it'll help create the powdery snow effect.

Once you're done with the white static grass, take some more of your snow mixture and apply it thinly to the area between the three crew members.  This will give the illusion of that small area being heavily trafficked, and the crew members melting and kicking the snow away as they load and fire the ballista.

6. Unleash a Volley of Arrows!

That's it guys!  You should now know how to paint up this awesome unit.  Remember that this, along with all of my tutorials, can be found on my blog for future reference, and if you found this helpful, please consider becoming a Patron.  Every dollar helps me bring you quality content on a regular basis.

Until next time, Westerosi!
Remember to Share, Comment, and Subscribe!
If you like what I have to say, consider becoming a Patron
and make sure you follow me on Twitter or on Facebook!