Even though most of the pics in this WIP post are of Squad Adamo, my Death Company gang, Squad Zahariel, gets most of the words.
Death Company color guide
For the figures, I liked the tweaks the GW studio guide puts on the usual red and gold used on most of my Marines. I’ve stuck with that scheme for the most part, and the end result is that many colors are handled differently than usual:
Black: Abaddon Black > Dark Reaper > Fenrisian Grey
Red: Khorne Red > Carroburg Crimson > Wazdakka Red > Wild Rider Red
Armor gaskets: Mechanicus Standard Grey > Nuln Oil > Dawnstone
Metal and piping: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Stormhost Silver
Jump pack jets: Caledor Sky > Drakenhof Nightshade > Temple Guard Blue > Baharroth Blue
With the Death Company color scheme reversing the usual Blood Angels colors — black dominant, red accents — I wanted to make sure their bases added some pops of color beyond my usual skulls and rocks. Other base elements are as per usual, but the stuff I added to these particular bases is covered below:
Tau scrap: Caledor Sky > Drakenhof Nightshade > Temple Guard Blue
Ork scrap: Castellan Green or Averland Sunset > Agrax Earthshade > 50/50 Castellan Green/Moot Green or Yriel Yellow > Ryza Rust drybrush
As expected, the Death Company color scheme makes a nice palate cleanser after the red, red, red of the rest of my army. Onwards!
I’ve never been a musical person, but the other night while I was listening to Iz three notions collided in my brain: 1) between Iz and Eddie Vedder, I’ve spent a lot of time enjoying ʻukulele music, 2) I’d like to learn to play the ʻukulele, and 3) it’d be good to challenge my well-established notion that I’m not a musical person.
I have two speeds, “off” and “turbo,” so I did some research — starting by confirming that the uke is a good choice for a clueless, musically illiterate doofus like me — and bought an ʻukulele.
Spelling and pronunciation
Growing up, I learned the word ʻukulele as “ukulele” (without the ʻokina), and pronounced “you-ka-lay-lee.” I had no idea I was spelling or pronouncing it wrong. But when I started watching uke videos, I kept hearing another pronunciation: “oo-koo-le-le.”
Hawaiʻi was annexed by the US under protest. Ōlelo Hawaiʻi, the Hawaiian language, was banned and nearly lost for good. The culture of the kānaka maoli — the indigenous people of Hawaiʻi — was trampled, and the islands and their people were exploited by colonizers. Modern-day tourism, while a boon to the economy, causes many problems of its own.
Using the correct spelling and pronunciation of ʻukulele acknowledges and respects the history and struggles of the culture that gave the world this instrument. It’s the right thing to do.
My first ‘ukulele
I went with a Kala KA-15C (paid link), a concert ʻukulele, because my reading suggested Kala was a solid brand; this was a solid beginner uke; and while folks seem split on whether a soprano uke (the smallest size) is best for beginners, there was a consensus that concert and tenor ukes are easier for folks with larger hands to play (at least at first).
Kala also offers vegan materials — notably the strings, which are synthetic gut (quite common), and the nut and saddle. They use NuBone for the saddle and nut, which I gather is better than plastic but perhaps not as good as actual bone.
I’m cognizant of my tendency to “gear up” hard when I try a new hobby, so I pushed back against it this time. I picked up just four other essentials (all paid links): a portable stand, a padded gig bag, a clip-on tuner, and spare strings.
And then, the internet
While I waited for my uke to arrive I spent hours prowling around, gathering resources that looked beginner-friendly and useful to me. My ʻukulele came two days ago, and I’ve put in practice time on both of those days (and will again today, of course!). Here are the resources I’ve found most helpful so far, in no particular order:
Cynthia Lin recorded a video lesson intended to be used as literally your first time handling a uke, and it’s excellent. She teaches with a lovely calm energy that’s absolutely fantastic for learning, and she offers dozens of free lessons.
Alongside Cynthia Lin’s lessons, my biggest resource has been Ukulele Underground. They offer so much stuff, including video lessons, slowdowns, play-along videos, uke tabs, and more. Here are their free video lessons to Hawaiian music for beginners, all of which, I believe, are taught by Aldrine Guerrero — who is a killer teacher, all energy and enthusiasm. I like UU’s format and his teaching so much that I picked my first song to learn based on what they offered in that list.
I gleaned some good info from Ukulele Magazine’s guide for beginners, notably hand position on the neck, the need to focus on building good habits (like trimming the nails on your chord-playing hand and what to do the very first time you sit down to play).
And finally, I enjoyed the heck out of this charming video by mew ichigo, part review of the KA-15C and part one-month progress report from a new uke player. Mew ichigo learned to play and sing “Someone to Lava” in one month of daily practice — that’s rad, and it made me think, “Maybe I could do that!”
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World”
If you’ve never heard that medley, it’s staggeringly beautiful. The story behind it is part of what makes it special: in the middle of the night, in a studio where he’d never played, with an engineer he’d never worked with, Iz rolled up and, in a single take, tossed off one of the most moving, most wonderful, songs ever played.
The seed of wanting to play the ʻukulele was planted a couple of years ago, when I first heard that song. I’ve since devoured Iz’s work, listening to his music on repeat for hours at a time, but I always come back to that medley.
After a couple days of practicing, I’ve seen why I can’t keep “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” as my first goal: It’s well above my skill level (for now!). But I want to learn to play Hawaiian music, so I picked another a Hawaiian song for my first: “Kokeʻe,” by Dennis Kamakahi.
Ukulele Underground has an awesome video lesson for “Kokeʻe,” taught by Aldrine Guerrero, including chords, a strumming tutorial, and a play-along. Armed with that lesson and a tip from UU — learn chords first, to the point where you can read the name of the chord and instantly know how to play it — I’m going to focus on one song for a while and see how it goes.
I’m partially tone-deaf, don’t know how to read music, never enjoyed music class, and forgot what a chord was sometime around grade school. This is a baffling but exciting journey for me, and so far I’m having a blast!
As of September 1, I now have paint on every unfinished model in my Blood Angels army. Squad Adamo is mostly base-coated; Squad Zahariel, my Death Company unit, is primed and fully based; and Squad Barakiel, my Terminator Assault Squad, is primed and partially based.
I’ve painted 15 Space Marines in a month before, so it’s doable for me to completely finish my first-ever 2,000-point army in September. But I think it’s more likely that I’ll finish Squad Adamo and either fully or mostly complete Squad Zahariel in September, leaving Squad Barakiel (and the balance of Zahariel, if any) for October.
Actually playing, which once felt like a possibility at the end of this summer, and then seemed more realistic to imagine in spring of 2021, now — depressingly — feels like it might not happen until 2022. On the flipside, it’s not unreasonable for me to imagine that I could paint another 2,000-4,000 points of Blood Angels in 2021. I’ll take my silver linings where I can find them!
I wrote about getting a bunch of Princeton Velvetouch brushes back in April of this year, and have been painting with those brushes (and my hodgepodge of others) for the past four months, or about 1,400 points of Blood Angels. I just ordered a second batch of them from BLICK, which is itself an endorsement. I like these brushes a lot.
My two most-used sizes are 10/0 and 3/0, and both of those finally gave up the ghost about 2-3 weeks ago, with splayed/curled tips no longer able to to detail work — so let’s call their front-line service life about three months. (Now they become drybrushes, get dipped into metallic paints, etc.) That’s not nearly as long as my non-synthetic brushes, but that’s a trade-off I’m fine with.
Before their tips inevitably curl or splay (despite daily washing with brush soap), these brushes paint just as well as my natural brushes. When my natural brushes wear out, I’ll replace them with their Princeton Velvetouch analogs.
Lots of other synthetic brush lines have a couple brushes small enough for minis but are primarily geared for other types of painting. One thing I love about this line is that they cover all of the sizes and shapes I’ve ever wanted for miniatures, from ultra-fine to relatively massive, including the chisel-shaped tips I like for drybrushing.
So: Princeton Velvetouch brushes are excellent, and in my experience especially good as synthetic brushes go.
 I started a daily “work on miniatures” streak on February 22, 2020, when I dug out my Space Hulk Terminators and started painting again. It didn’t start as a streak; I was just painting every day because I was excited about it. But I bumped into the idea on Twitter and have had success with using Seinfeld chains for motivation in the past, so it turned into one. Today is day 192.
I finished my second tank, the mighty Land Raider Crusader Judgment, on August 22. This beast swallowed primer, paint, and varnish alike, and it took me quite some time to get through.
The Land Raider is an iconic model, but what sold me on the Crusader — and on painting one for my first army — was a post somewhere about how utterly intimidating this tank would be in real life when a squad of Terminators come boiling out of it. It’s like a jumbo tank shooting out five smaller tanks!
Light it up, buttercup
The Land Raider is patently too large for my modest little lightbox. No way to hide the seams, no way to make it look like it fits — sorry about that.
Let’s kick off with Judgment‘s golden angle:
I can’t remember if I ever mentioned it in my assembly post(s) for Judgment, but I bobbed the radio antenna because the original length looked like a pain in the ass to store and use without breaking it.
Unlike the previous shots, this top-down view is kind of like using a light ring: I’m shooting through a hole in the top of my lightbox. It balances the colors a lot better (which a fancier lightbox would do with more light sources).
Plus a couple natural light/casual shots for good measure:
With Judgment complete, and some sort of minor points update that made Commander Dante 5 points more expensive, my army now stands at 1,581 of 1,996 points painted. I’m getting close!
Because I’ve slowed my posting pace and am queuing posts a bit more sporadically, I’ve actually finished Judgment as I sit here writing this post. But WIP posts are neat (I like them, at least), so I’m wrapping up my photo roll for Judgment and adding in a bit of my Assault Squad for good measure.
I just updated BattleScribe and checked my totals again, and finishing Judgment will put me over 75% done points-wise. Onwards!
I hit my stride with Judgment in early August, blowing through shading and into layers. That tipping point always feels good.
This WIP post compiles a couple weeks’ work.
With Judgment on the back nine, I got out Squad Adamo — already primed — so I could work in parallel.
I thought a bit about how to handle the ruined stone structures on 3/5 of this squad’s bases, because I wanted them to stand out from the brown/grey stones of Armageddon, and settled on brown. The only brown I have is Mournfang Brown, which looks like poop.
But once the wash is down, it starts to look a lot less like poop — and I had faith in my first layer, 2:1 Kislev Flesh:Mournfang Brown.
This was my first time drybrushing Ryza Rust rather than spot-painting with it, and I like this approach quite a bit. It’s easier to take a light, subtle touch and make the metal look old and rusty, rather than just rusty. Pure spot-painting seems to work well for something poorly made that’s had a few years to rust — like Ork scrap and vehicle parts — but doing it on these metal elements would be overkill.
Setting up the new omnibus page for my finished Blood Angels miniatures got me thinking that it was probably time for some updated pics. As it stands now, I’ve painted 32 Space Marines, 2 Dreadnoughts, 1 Rhino, and 1 Teleport Homer. My army shrank under 9th Edition rules, but I didn’t remove anything I’d already painted. Remaining are 15 Space Marines, 1 Land Raider, and 1 Teleport Homer.
I’m still trying to get the hang of taking full-army photos. This one feels like an improvement over the previous photo just because I took it outdoors in natural light.
Not sure how best to get close-ups with this many minis, but here are two attempts.
I started painting my Land Raider Crusader, Judgment, in earnest back in July. Vehicles are fun to paint because they’re such broad canvases, and I get to break out my largest brush — but they also take me some time to finish! Hopefully Judgment will be wrapped up this month.
I can’t paint the sponsons and front turret if they’re glued in place, so I started with them and then moved on to the main body.
Painting Judgment has me even more excited to tuck into some of the vehicles I have waiting in the wings once my initial army is done. If I had to pick one right now, it’d be down to a Redemptor Dreadnought, Repulsor tank, or the Stormtalon Gunship I’m going to convert to use the sealed cockpit from the Stormhawk.
I painted my first Dreadnought, the Librarian Narses, back in April, and it was a lot of fun. Work-wise, he was about somewhere between one model and a five-person squad of Space Marines; I was curious to see how my second one would go.
It felt like it went more smoothly this time around, although with no prospect of a face-to-face 40k game by the end of summer — a real motivator, as it turns out — it still took me a long time to paint him. I finished him on July 19.
Immediately after uploading the photo above, I noticed that I’d forgotten to add the lens flare to the green lenses in his torso. I’ve since dotted that in and re-varnished those two spots (visible in the final shot below).
The kit includes a complete alternate right arm and it seemed silly not to paint that one as well — especially since if I paint it months/years later, the style and skill level (hopefully!) won’t match where I’m at right now.
And finally, I’ve learned that while the lightbox is lovely my inexpensive one tends to leave the front of the model a bit shadowy — especially when the figure is a big box like Turiel. So here’s a final shot in natural light.
Over the course of the 2-3 weeks I spent painting Turiel at a leisurely pace, I tried to remember to snap a few WIP shots.
Turiel color guide
I wanted Turiel’s base to stand out from Narses’ base, and to emphasize that Space Marines have fought on Armageddon many times before. While painting it, I decided I liked the idea that the Blood Angels had fought there before and painted the Marine debris accordingly.
Unlike my previous bases, which applied layers only through drybrushing, Turiel’s is a mix of drybrushing and layers/highlighting. Ceramite can’t rust, and Space Marine stuff is just “made better,” so the Flamestorm Cannon and Backpack got the highlights I usually would have applied followed by some drybrushing to make them look (I hope) dusty and weathered — like they’ve languished on the plains of Armageddon for years.
Frag Cannon tubing: Averland Sunset / Macragge Blue / Castellan Green > Agrax Earthshade > Yriel Yellow / Altdorf Guard Blue / Moot Green
My to-build stack includes another walking fridge of death, which I’ll be building as a Death Company Dreadnought so that I can have a full complement of the Blood Angels’ unique Dreads. I love big ol’ doom-walkers, so I’ve also got two Redemptors, a Contemptor, and two “near-Dreadnought” Invictor Warsuits in the queue.