A rope of drool unspooled from my mouth when I opened Jabba's Realm, the latest expansion for Star Wars Imperial Assault. I knew it contained the Rancor, the reptilian monster from Return of the Jedi, and I knew that the Rancor miniature would be big. But it had never occurred to me that it would be so big. And so beautifully sculpted.
Before starting to paint it, I studied the stills from Return of the Jedi in order to find the right approach. At first glance, the Rancor Monster is one ugly mass of brown. This can make for a very boring paint job. But if you look closely at the photos from the film, you see that there is a lot of subtle and seemingly random variegation within the brown hide: splotches of red, green and burnt sienna. These discolorations are what gives the Rancor a sense of life.
Quickly, I realized that this was a great opportunity to bust out my oil paints. Only oils could allow me to make these blotches of colour seem natural. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here's my step by step process for painting the Rancor:
- First came a basecoat of light green-brown using Vallejo acrylics. The back plates and bone spurs got a different basecoat of khaki brown.
- I applied a couple washes of GW's Agrax Earthshade (mixed with green ink) to the whole surface, and then layered darker washes with recessed areas to increase the sense of shading.
- I applied touch ups to remove blotchiness, and to begin colouring in the mouth.
- Varnish with Testor's Dullcote.
- To add that oily quality that the original Rancor has, I added a layer of Army Painter's Quick Shade "Strong" to most of the model, paying special attention to back and shoulders.
- Fun with oils. Using very small amounts, I would apply random patches of green, red, pink, purple and brown paint, and then blend it into the surrounding flesh by diluting it with mineral spirit (aka white spirit) and pushing it around the model. Red and pink were especially effective when applied on the edges of the Rancor's gums, eyes and nostrils.
- I waited 24 hours for the oil to cure and applied another light layer of varnish to seal in the oils
- More touch ups to the hide in order to ensure that the discolorations looked smooth.
- Final details, mainly the eyes and highlighting the claws and teeth with increasingly whiter shades of bone.
- Final varnish.
I was happy with the sense of depth created by the combination of oils, inks and washes. The whole package turned out slightly greener than I had originally intended, but I guess the alchemical process took on a life of its own.