More than a decade ago now, a good friend of mine and I began playing the game EVE Online as part of GoonSwarm Federation’s push to unseat and uproot a notorious organization’s hold on lawless space. We played off and on for a few years, largely with the same group of people, and still fondly recount the long evenings spent keeping the universe safe for our allies.

We were effectively space pirates—new captains in an armada of thousands—and we had two constant goals: keep the war effort funded, and keep our space secure. The former was done through both meticulous attention to supply chains and logistic matters (where EVE Online’s nickname of “spreadsheet simulator” comes from) and the ruthless scamming of “pubbies” (i.e. members of the general public, not affiliated with our group) for all their in-game wealth and honors. The latter was done through hostile takeovers of strategic space, constant vigilance against incursion, and the ruthless scamming of pubbies for all their fancy ships that could be added to our fleets.

One of our favorite tales was written up on this very website, and the phrase “it brings a tear to my eye” still sends us into peals of laughter. Recently an internet friend picked up a 3D printer and made the offer to print anything I found interesting. I had actually been idly looking through Thingiverse—a website where the maker community designs and shares designs for others to enjoy—when I came across some pictures of EVE Online ships that had been printed. I had the perfect gift idea for what I would get my friend Brandon this winter.

My Nyx reference image

While in the story we were both flying speedy little frigates, none of the 3d models I could find were of sufficient resolution to be scaled up to the size I wanted. I instead settled on the Nyx supercarrier, the capital ship that helped us execute the deal—so to speak. With plans in hand, I sent them and a few bucks over to my friend QC for printing.

I remember painting models and figurines as a youth, and while I don’t think I was ever very talented at it, it was a fun way to express myself through art and to help world-build in a new way; with every color something was added to the little pewter characters, maybe something of a story. Though it has been many years since I’ve held a paintbrush—other than redecorating the house or touching up the trim—my aim is to have this little 3D model finished by December with enough quality that I can present it to Brandon as a present, hopefully as a visual reminder of the good times we had while flying together.

At about 8 inches long, I was surprised with the amount of detail both the designer had been able to get into the model and what QC’s 3D printer had been able to produce. Obviously not as a perfect replica than if I had been able to rip the assets right out of the game, but one that I think will more than suffice for this purpose. Since the in-game ship isn’t a bright, highlighter yellow, I took a trip to a local gaming store, the likes of which always have a space dedicated to painting. Reference image in hand, I picked out several select colors for the project.

With a dull blue-grey base coat, my first steps will be to hide all traces of the bright plastic the 3D printer spat out. I think the base coat and the two layer colors I’ve chosen (Thunderhawk Blue layer paint for the steel edges and Warp Lightning contrast paint for the main body) will blend well to keep a matte finish that stays relatively true to the source material. With a bottle of dark wash to really accentuate the small corners and crevices and some accent paint to draw on fancy details, I’m hoping that I’ve made the right choices for this project.

My aim is to record the process and stages of me painting the Nyx, hopefully both as an archive of what I learn throughout the process, and also as a how to for other inexperienced painters wanting to touch up 3D models.

Next Step: Base Coat!

Header image of the Nyx supercarrier (nee Mothership) from Eve Online, an MMO I played for many years from which and I have many fond (and many poor) memories of my time flying internet spaceships. Credit CCP Games.