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  • Writer's picturePaul Nugent

From Rancor, to Rancorsome!


I’ll set the scene; it’s Christmas 2018 and I open a suspiciously ‘boardgame shaped’ present (I had a good feeling about this). I must have been good that year because Santa had brought me the Jabba’s Realm expansion for Star Wars Imperial Assault, hurrah!

Those familiar with the Jabba’s Realm expansion will know what beastie lies within… the dreaded RANCOR!! As soon as I saw the Pug-faced monstrosity I immediately fell in love and couldn’t wait to paint it. The problem is however, that was 13 months ago and the brute still hasn’t been painted.

So, as soon as I heard about OnTableTop’s ‘Star Wars Hobby Challenge’ I knew this would be the PERFECT opportunity to break out my brushes and turn that Rancor’s frown upside-down (which is probably still a frown).

The Plan:

  1. Prime - grey with a white zenithal.

  2. Basecoat - skin = brown, tongue = pink, claws/teeth/toes/spines = beige/bone.

  3. Wash - complete coat of Agrax Earthshade.

  4. Drybrush - browns, beiges and bone.

  5. Light Wash - to create shadows and dull down some of the drybrushed areas.

  6. Highlights + Selective Washes - claws, teeth, toes, tongue, spines etc.

  7. Light Drybrush + Eyes - to make some of the key areas 'pop'.

  8. Basing - my vision is a mud/swamp base with a skeleton in the dirt.

  9. Finishing Touches - matt varnish > grass tufts > gloss varnish (eyes and maw).

(In my excitement to get going, I’d been impatient and already completed stages 1-3 before posting this blog, which is why I don’t have any photos of those stages)

The Rancor after Stage 3 (primed, base coated and washed)

Stage 4. Drybrush:

The Drybrush stage is always a fun process, as it’s quite easy to get good-looking results in a short space of time. Due to the large size of the Rancor, I was able to try out a new brush I’d acquired for just this task – a cheap brush from the local Hobbycraft (for around £2).

My strategy was to work my way from Skrag Brown up to Screaming Skull. As the paint colour got progressively lighter, so would the amount of paint I'd use on the brush – the idea was to create a natural-looking tone of browns and beiges on the Rancor’s skin. I actually didn't mind the ‘chalky’ look here, as I think it made the skin appear weathered and worn, a look I was quite happy with.

I opted to not drybrush the claws, spines, toes, and teeth just yet, as I wanted to use a ‘proper’ brush and control the gradient a little more - a decision I feel paid off.

Beast with a brush (and paints...)

Stage 5. Light Wash

As I went around the model, I found that I didn’t really need too much of a wash to create shadows – I only ended using a little Agrax Earthshade here and there to dull down some drybrushing from the previous stage. I also deepened the darker areas under the arms and legs, although this was quite subtle and (if I’m being honest) not particularly noticeable.

Stage 6. Highlights + Selective Washes

Ah, the highlighting stage… this is when painters start seeing all of the little details ‘pop’ but also (certainly in my case) spend the most time on. Highlighting can be fiddly because you’re typically using a small brush on specific areas of the model – you really need to be careful, as one slip and you’ve got some tidying up to do!

Here I was highlighting the Rancor’s spikes, teeth, claws and toes. To do this I started with a thin coat of Ushabti Bone, then a light wash of Seraphim Sepia. When painting the highlight, I intentionally left a small amount of the original colour to attempt a gradient effect – not perfect, but I’m happy with the results.

I also painted over the tongue during this stage, as I wasn’t happy with the original colour (it was too dark). To get the shade I wanted, I mixed Emperor’s Children with a some Dead White (Vallejo) to give me a light pink. Once dry, I washed the whole tongue using Carroburg Crimson – perfect!

Stage 7. Light Drybrush + Eyes

Once the wash had dried on the bone coloured areas, I drybrushed them using Terminatus Stone, followed by a lighter drybrush of Wrack White. I found that using Citadel’s ‘Dry’ range was a mixed bag – at first everything is fine, but (because drybrushing) you can’t really wash your brush and the thicker ‘Dry’ paint ended up clogging up the bristles on my brush. I’m happy with the results and will certainly be giving them another try in future.

At this stage, it was time… EYES!! I don't usually paint the eyes on my miniatures (it scares me) but I really wanted to give it a go on the Rancor. Using my ‘Psycho’ brush from The Army Painter, I used Abaddon Black to re-darken each eye, then with my steadiest hand (and held breath) I put a small dot of Dead White (Vallejo) in the centre of each eye. I’m really glad I gave this a go, as I think it gives an extra bit of character to a showpiece miniature.

Stage 8. Basing

Basing is relatively new to me; aside from a Tattooine cracked earth effect (Tusken Raiders) and Hoth snow (Wampas) – I usually just paint my bases grey, so the Rancor was a great opportunity to get a little creative. My plan was to create a muddy ‘swamp-like’ base with skeletal remains, a couple of rocks and some grass tufts – something I was able to achieve!

I started by using a pencil to mark out where the Rancor’s feet sat on the base. Then I chopped up an old wine cork (to create some rocks) and clipped a skeleton from a cheap sprue I’d bought for this exact purpose.

Using Citadel’s Stirland Mud, I put a good few ‘splodges’ all over the base, making sure to avoid the areas I’d previously marked out for the Rancor’s feet. I was then able to place the cork rocks and skeleton remains in the ‘mud’ and waited for it all to set.

Once completely dry, I gave the base a spray of Mechanicus Standard Grey and base coated the mud (Charred Brown – Vallejo), the rocks (Sombre Grey – Vallejo) and the bones (Ushabti Bone). Next was a complete drybrush of Deathclaw Brown, followed by a light drybrush of Zandri Dust, and a final lighter drybrush of Screaming Skull.

The final steps were to give the whole thing a shade/wash using Agrax Earthshade, then (once dry) a very light drybrush of Screaming Skull. I enjoyed the basing process and will certainly be doing this more often – as the final effect really does set off the miniature.

From a plain base, to swampy dread!

Stage 9. Finishing Touches

Once the base was completed, there wasn’t really too much left to work on – all I needed to do was;

  • Glue the jaw to the head.

  • Glue the legs onto the base - I left the other limbs un-glued so the Rancor would fit into my Imperial Assault game box.

  • Spray the whole model with Testor's Dullcote matt varnish (thanks !).

  • Glue on a couple of The Army Painter's swamp grass tufts.

  • Use some thinned ‘Ardcoat and brush it onto the Rancor’s eyes, nostrils and maw – to create a shiny gloss effect.

Once everything had dried, that was it… my Rancor was complete!

Final Words

I’d like to thank the wonderful OnTableTop team for giving me a Community Spotlight Golden Button award for February 2020. In that article they wrote some kind words about my project, so click the link and head over to OnTableTop to read more!

I'd also like to thank the amazing Sorastro who creates miniature painting content on YouTube. Watching his incredible tutorials was one of the main reasons I felt comfortable to pick up a paintbrush and paint my miniatures.

This has been a nice little break from my game design updates. I've really enjoyed documenting the process for painting my Rancor, and I imagine that I'll do more of these blog posts for future painting projects.

Thanks for reading guys - you're awesome!

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