How to Paint Everything – The Necron Monolith

This article is part of a larger series on how to paint Necrons. To return to that series, click here.

The Monolith was a big deal when it was released. Literally – it was the largest model 40k had ever seen at that point, and would be for some time. Released with the 3rd edition launch of Codex: Necrons, the Monolith was part of a massive range of new plastic models that turned the Necrons from a novelty tacked-on force of mysterious robot raiders who would strike and fade away into a full-fledged 40k faction… of mysterious robot raiders who would strike and then fade away. The monolith was the implacable moving fortress of the Necron army, rising silently from the sand and slowly hovering forward as Necron warriors poured out of its eerie teleporter gate. Also it shot big arcs of lightning at enemy units from the massive crystal perched atop its structure.

The classic Monolith model was a pretty impressive piece for the time, but lacked detail in a lot of places, with lots of large, flat areas to cover. It also incorporated those infamous green plastic rods in several places, plus it used a large transparent green crystal in the seating on top of the model. Still, the basic design was pretty good all things considered, and it made for an imposing model on the tabletop.

The original Necron Monolith of the Sarnekh Dynasty by Craig “MasterSlowPoke” Sniffen

Clearly GW agreed, because with the range refresh we ended up with a similarly sized but exquisitely up detailed version! This new Monolith keeps a lot of the basic design aspects of the old one, but adds a ton more detail and updates the model to include more of the modern Necron aesthetic, with embedded blackstone/Noctilith and more time-worn components. It also includes swappable weapons and yes, the big crystal is still there, albeit now being tended to by a Canoptek construct. 

Monolith with Death Rays. Credit: Rockfish
Monolith with Death Rays. Credit: Rockfish

This thing is by far the largest model I have ever painted, even the Silent King’s dais looks petite beside it! Speaking of the King, this model is far nicer to build in comparison and actually makes me curious what was happening in the background for the two. Both models make heavy use of duplicate sprues along with a unique sprue, but unlike the King far fewer complex pieces are multi part nightmares, instead they usually ended up on the unique sprue. The most awkward bit turned out to be the stairs that are connected with a small piece in between each level with a tiny contact patch for each end of a tiny arm, but that is a minor complaint.

How to build the Monolith

Subassemblies. Are. Required. I typically do everything fully assembled, but like the Silent King there are so many layers of things going on in this model that it is unlikely that you will be quite satisfied with it otherwise.

If nothing else this thing is HUGE, heavy, and surprisingly delicate, it would be pretty unmanageable to try and paint this thing while holding it like a baby as would be required.

Fortunately, the model is quite easy to break down into smaller pieces, you might be able to take it further then me, but not by much. There are a decent number of pieces like the guns that are held trapped by the two corner pieces, if you wanted to leave them out I would probably consider magnetizing them otherwise you will have difficulty getting them in during final construction.

One can see the key subassemblies in this shot from just after airbrushing the base coats on, I broke it down to the key sections that would result in stuff blocking each others access with a brush. So stuff like the two exterior sides were on their own while the “core” were hooked together. You may also notice that I fully built the wraith on the back panel, the lower spiral of its body is actually molded onto the panel so I did not see too much of an advantage of leaving the rest of it off.

Getting the washes onto this thing is a bit of a endeavor, I would suggest trying to break up the coats into sides that won’t bleed into each other and then being patient with a bunch of rotating and swapping of wet pieces. (You can see I am using Agrax and Terradon here)

Eventually you will get through the worst initial washes, at this point I have done all the sides of the black stone and applied Basilicanum to the metals.

This was a new bottle!

Do beware that you will use a lot of paint on this thing!

The large panels are not actually too bad to base coat as you can pull out the really big brushes, but you can cut corners here and have the exterior all one colour if you want. (I am using Mournfang for this coat)

After throwing Wyldwood on the brown panels I went around to hit the other details that need base coating without the risk of the large area washes dirtying them. (The glyphs are Lupercal, the black is Corvus, and the purple is Naggaroth)

The purple transitions are built up by layering mixes built up through Daemonette, Dechala and finally Flayed One, which is also used to hatch the edges of the faces that make up the orb and make the reflection shapes.

I then went around and did the other highlights which can be broken down into the following:

  • Brown armour panels: Skrag, Tau Light Ochre, Flayed One
  • Words and symbols: Sons of Horus, Sybarite, Flayed One
  • Blackstone: Sotek, Baharroth, Flayed One

I used Flayed One as final highlight to help pull the colours together a bit.

After that it was time to glue the monolith together, then pop off the base to avoid the risk of anything getting on the model. (I really like these new swivel bases they are using these days, they are very secure without having to glue the model down.)

The stupid stairs fell off again after the last picture, so they are propped up with blue stuff while drying here

The bases of my necrons are quite simple, just Vallejo Grey Sand with a coat of Baneblade followed by a wash of Darkoath and drybrush of rakarth.

Then it was just a few tufts from Gamers Grass (Beige, Light Green, Drygreen), a coat of black on the rim and it is done!

Monolith with Death Rays. Credit: Rockfish
Monolith with Death Rays. Credit: Rockfish
Monolith with Death Rays. Credit: Rockfish
Monolith with Death Rays. Credit: Rockfish
Monolith with Death Rays. Credit: Rockfish
Monolith with Death Rays. Credit: Rockfish

My lighting set up is lacking, so the final pictures are not great, but I am pretty happy with how the the model turned out particularly because I finished it within a week of it arriving! If you want a few more details on how I did each of the colours feel free to check out my write up of How to Paint Szeras!

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This article is part of a larger series on how to paint Necrons. To return to that series, click here.