Terrain Tutorials: Imperial Statue

How best to honor our great Emperor Palpatine after the horrific attempt on his life by the cowardly Jedi? With a statue, of course!

One of my favorite themes explored in small parts throughout recent Star Wars media (most notably Rebels, Battlefront II, and even a hint in Solo) is the inclusion of Imperial Propaganda. I love the major-key march for Empire Day, and I love all of the Shepard Fairey-esque posters of Papa Palpatine littered in the environment.

So as I was browsing Amazon one day, I had a thought: why not make an equivalent for Legion?

Here’s what we’ll need:

  • Black primer
  • Brass/metallic paint
  • Light green and blue paint (optional)
  • Some sort of base or stand
  • An action figure, preferably 3.5-3.75 inches

Let’s go, for the glory of the Emperor.

1) Pick a Model

51mmcsvt61lWhen I think of glorious Imperial propaganda, I don’t picture Palpatine in his shriveled, wrinkled, diabolical form. I think of the handsome Chancellor from Episodes 1 & 2. Look at that smile! He couldn’t hurt a fly.

With that in mind, I wanted to find a Palpatine figure that looked like his regal pre-disfiguration self, and I found one that I really liked for just about $5, picture to the right. (As always, this is not a referral link and I am not making any money off of this. You can also go support your local stores! Be better than me!)

Once he arrived, I clipped all the random plastic bits off and glued his left arm in place about like it is in the picture.

2) Pick a Base

This was, surprisingly, one of the hardest parts for me. At first I tried two upside-down coffee cups stacked on each other (it created a nice stylistic bump at the bottom), but ended up not liking the result. I looked all over for some random piece of junk that would work.

Finally, while browsing for something else at Michael’s, I found a small cardboard jewelry box about 2″ on each side and 1″ high. When I flipped it upside down, it was the perfect shape and size for my vision. It cost less than $1.

Unfortunately, I neglected to take a picture of this pre-priming, so you’ll just have to imagine what it looks like.

3) Prime and Paint

For the purposes of creating a bronze statue, you’ll want to prime the whole thing black. Get a good coating. I actually did this several times to try and get rid of some of the few fine details and make it look more like a weathered statue.


To create the bronze effect, I used Citadel’s Runelord Brass layer paint. It was about $4 and looked better than anything I could come up with on my own (I foolishly tried a weird mixture of Vallejo metallic gold, red, and brown at first – it did not work).

All you need to do here is heavily dry brush (with a fairly wide brush, mind you) the Runelord Brass is downward strokes on your mini. Do this two or three times for best coverage, leaving areas of black on the underside of bits of the coat to create a good shadow effect without a wash. Rudimentary highlighting!

Then, generously cover your base as well. As a final touch, you can give it a nice gloss varnish to increase the shine. Here’s how it looks, after priming and after painting:

4) (Optional) Add a Patina

Now, I say this is optional but I think it goes a long way towards realism. A patina, if you don’t know, is the sort of green color that metals like bronze get as a result of oxidation. It’s why the Statue of Liberty, which has an outer layer made of copper, looks green.

I mixed just a bit of Vallejo Aquamarine with some Vallejo Flat Green (erring on the side of green-teal), and then dry brushed it lightly over the entire statue. The effect is subtle, but extremely cool. I think it adds just a nice touch of character to it, a suggestion that this statue has been around for some time in the ESB/ROTJ Legion landscape.


And that’s it! You can weight the base if necessary, and you’ve got a great bit of terrain for your board that is distinctly Star Wars.

Happy bronzing, Commanders!

A Post-Script on Stone Statues

If you’d prefer a stone statue over bronze, the obvious solution is to prime grey instead of black, then dry brush lighter colors.

But I read one more great tip elsewhere on the internet to really sell the stone illusion: glue some sporadic grains of sand across the whole statue – sparsely, you don’t want to cover the whole thing – before you prime. It’ll give your statue a great rough-hewn feel to it that will also give you more edges to highlight.

4 comments on “Terrain Tutorials: Imperial Statue

  1. Nice work. Using Action figures for statues is a great idea. For smaller scale statues, mouting actual miniature figures on wedding cake pillars works well also.
    It’s worth letting you and your readers know that Citadel’s Nihilakh Oxide technical paint is especially made to create that sort of patina. If you’re planning on doing more than one statue (or heavily weathering the one) it’s certainly worth considering picking up!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Best action figure game. Thanks for sharing the review.


  3. Travis Floyd

    Thanks for the info, working on a Palp and a C-3PO statue for my endor table. Thought the ewoks would make a wooden statue of him.

    Liked by 1 person

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