It has taken me 3 years and much treasure to collect all 12 of the original IC601 Black Orcs sculpted by Bob Olley and released by Iron Claw in 1988. Immediately upon receiving the last orc in the mail, I set to work painting them. From priming to final varnish, it took me one month. I was anxious to add some muscle to the anemic ranks of my small orc army, Krapfang's Backwood Bandits. But more than that, I was looking forward to creating a colour scheme that would do these very odd miniatures justice.
Black Orcs by Iron Claw Miniatures, IC601 (sculpted by Bob Olley, 1988)
As I discussed last week, the virtue and vice of all Olley miniatures from the mid-1980's is that his sculptures rarely blend with other Warhammer miniatures. His figures are squat, swollen and big-headed. But they are also textured, bizarre and arresting. For my purposes, I relished the clash of styles. Black Orcs are supposed to be a separate race from their green-skinned cousins, so the strange, hairy physiognomy of Olley's figures would underline this biological fact. Indeed, I wanted my Black Orcs to stand out like super-beings from the rest of my army.
I tried to make my painting as strange as the miniatures themselves. The organizing idea of my paint job was a juxtaposition between the dark skin and dirty furs on one hand -- and on the other hand, a tight pattern of ultraviolet colours for armour, shields and accents. The skin tone is Vallejo's "USA Olive Drab" with small additions of orange for lips, pink for pimples and pale green for other highlights. I tried (perhaps unsuccessfully) to keep the skin tones mellow. Meanwhile, the blues and purples were meant to give these villains the illusion of phosphorescence, like a glowing fungus in a cave.
UPDATE March 2015: For another take on painting Bob Olley's Black orcs, check out Goblin Lee's superb, Tolkien-inspired set.