The Ultimate Hexadome•
Posted on April 19 2020
Guest Tutorial by Lewis Frasch
Hello all, I am excited to have the opportunity to share my Aristeia! Ultimate Hexadome with you! I have wanted to put this kit together since it was first released, and with the amount of available hobby time created by the quarantine I was able to finish assembly and painting in approximately three weekends. In addition to several finished pictures, I wanted to include pictures of my painting process and order-of-operations in the hopes of encouraging others to tackle this amazing kit.
The first thing I did was a dry assembly of the kit. It includes hundreds of pieces, and I wanted to get an idea of how everything went together; no issues at all. The entire kit is numbered or lettered, so assembly was relatively easy (again, taking into account the hundreds of pieces).
Then it was on to priming. I primed every piece black besides the four main base boards on both sides, so that even under the hexes it would remain shadowed. Once everything was primed, I went back over the pieces and used Vallejo Model Air (VMA) black (71-057). I decided that the only visible black areas would be those under the scoring zones, the small grates that are shown in many of the hexes, and the small selection of hexes that featured rivets. I decided those hexes would be a simple non-metallic metal. After painting those hexes black, I realized I wanted them all to reflect the light in the same way, so I had to reassemble enough of the kit to determine orientation. I them marked the direction I wanted the reflection to go with masking tape. (Nevermind the grey in the following two pictures, I mixed neutral gray instead of light gray, so I went slightly out of order on some of the hexes.)
I completed the metallic portions with a thick strip of Vallejo Model Color (VMC) Light Grey 70-990, followed by a narrow strip and edge highlighting with VMC White 70-951. I used two of the four Aristo bases included with the kit to test this scheme (Lesson from the first one: thinner paint!). I wanted to make these hexes stand out a bit more color-wise, so I went back and did a thin wash of Vallejo Game Color (VGC) Turquoise 72-024 and VGC Night Blue 72.019. In retrospect I should have either used a thicker wash or done another coat, as the difference is almost unnoticeable. I also took the time to put edge highlights on the grates that would be inserted into hexes to hold them in place during final assembly.
Once I completed the 13-ish metallic hexes, it was time to enter the world of contact paper. From this point on my life was a series of long sessions with an exacto knife and brief moments of painting joy. Using small pieces of contact paper, I covered and then carefully cut around the metallic hexagons I had just finished. Using contact paper for large flat surfaces makes masking extremely easy, and saves the hassle of using masking fluid. I used ConTact brand clear matte contact paper purchased off amazon. I really like this brand because it has a half-inch grid printed on the backing that helps to avoid waste if you measure your pieces. I used Frog Tape to mask anything not flat, which in this was included the top grate attachments on the hexadom side walls.
Once those were masked, I painted all the remaining hexes, the sidewalls for the hexadom, and the sides and tops of the obstacles in VMC neutral grey (70-992). I then used light grey for the first shade, white for a final airbrush highlight on the hexagons, and white for an edge highlight on the obstacle walls, hexadom side walls, and barrier pieces.
With the grey complete, I decided to wave goodbye to sanity for a time and mask every. Single. Grey. Hexagon. You can see the start of that process in the table picture above. Once every. Single. Grey. Hexagon had been masked, I moved on to paint the orange. I greatly enjoyed painting up my Invincible Army over the last few months, so I decided to use studio scheme for the orange instead of the black/grey scale I often default to on terrain; I originally intended to use Yu Jing’s jade green as a secondary—maybe on the sidewalls—but ultimately I decided to use grey there too in order to avoid too many competing colors.
I used VMC Orange Brown 70-981 for the base coat, VGC Scrofulous Brown for the first highlight, and VMC Ice Yellow 70-858 for the highlight and edge highlight. For this step, I also masked off the parts of the base that would be interior space, as I wanted those to remain black. You can see some slight overspray in the unmasked photo below; I went back and fixed any overspray issues before assembly.
Next, I had to decide how to address the Ziggurats. I again decided against using a Yu Jing related green of some sort, and instead elected to go with VMC Blue green 70-808, my favorite color for light sources and a natural contrast to the orange theme. I used VMC white to airbrush lights on each of the seven mini-hexagons inside the 18 ziggurat hexagons, followed that up with a coat of Blue Green, and then finally placed a small white light source in the center of each mini-hexagon.
Finally, the obstacle caps took me the longest to decide on. With an extra ring of color in addition to the lock symbol, the potential to use too many colors was very high. I decided to only use colors I had already used, so I kept the grey center and the orange edge of the rest of the hexes, and used the blue from the ziggurats to color the ring (airbrush) and the lock (brush). In the end I was quite happy with the result.
The barriers are separate pieces, and in this case the acrylic color was green. I painted the mdf in the grey scheme discussed above, and for the ring and symbol on the top I used a base of white followed by a coat (or two) of VGC Fluorescent Yellow 72-103.
After everything was painted, I took the unusual step of varnishing everything before I assembled it. The acrylic in the pillars is integral to the structural integrity of the board, so varnishing after assembly would not work. In the end I was very happy to have made this choice.
Finally, assembly! I used Aileen’s Tacky glue for mdf to mdf connections, and Loctite gel superglue for anything involving acrylic. To attach the four base plates, I used the flattest surface I could find, and then taped the sections together with masking tape to allow them to set. I then put in a few of the cross-section supports to ensure that everything was aligned as best as possible. Once the base was together, I picked a vertex and started assembling (I used 5 to start). All of the obstacles go into the base plates, so I tried to put them in as I went so that I could glue the vertical pieces to the surface of the game board to provide additional points of support.
Eventually, it all went together beautifully and I am exceptionally happy with how it turned out.