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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Zahariel and a dash of Barakiel

One of the things that works for me about maintaining my miniature-painting streak (as I write this post on October 17, I’m on day 238) is that “dormant” periods — the days I don’t really feel like working on minis — still involve forward progress, even if it’s minimal. And then when I do feel like painting, it doesn’t feel like I’m grinding the whole machine back into motion — because it never came to a dead stop.

This past weekend, rested up from a relatively light week on the minis front, I tucked into Squad Zahariel in earnest. I spent five hours or so doing their touch-ups and shading on Saturday, which was a blast.

The long road
Oops

Of course as soon as I started working on their Abaddon Black base coat, I realized that I’d paired two Jump Pack tops and bottoms incorrectly, resulting in one with braided cords appearing from nowhere, and another (less of a problem) with them disappearing without an actual termination.

I was long past the point of re-gluing, so I slapped a couple of spare purity seals on the most egregious of the two figures and called it good. Fully painted, I don’t think my goof will be too noticeable.

Painting black over white primer is so fiddly
Roping in Squad Barakiel

I hate wasting paint, so as always I had another unit on deck to absorb any leftover colors on my palette: Squad Barakiel — my final squad.

Zahariel’s base coat finally done, little spots of color appearing on Barakiel
I like the studio color scheme for the Blood Angels Terminator Assault Squad, which is heavy on black and silver and light on gold, because it’s the opposite of my instincts
Zahariel now fully touched-up

I tried out a new Velvetouch size for touch-ups that I absolutely love: 20/0 Monogram Liner. It’s perfect for precise dots of color nestled between other colors, as well as for lines which cross an area of a different color — both of which the Death Company models have in abundance.

…And fully shaded!
My battle station as of this past Saturday night, with all 16 highlights/layers for Zahariel, and their matching brushes, teed up and ready to go

I’ve only painted one black-armored figure for this army so far, Chaplain Arrius, so he’s out as my reference for doing the highlights on Zahariel. The Death Company minis have so many cords, seals, skulls, and other elements which cross over their expanses of black that a fair amount of shading comes into play — which I dig, because not shading the actual black knocks out one of the techniques on which I rely to produce minis I’m happy with.

I feel like Squad Zahariel has had enough WIP shots devoted to them, so I’m going to call it here. Next time they show up, it’ll be in the lightbox.

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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Post-army goals

When I started painting my Blood Angels army, my goal was to have 2,000 points done by the end of summer so that I could start playing at my local shop. Over the summer it became clear that the pandemic was going to make that impossible, and by August I was pretty sure that “sometime in 2021, maybe” was a reasonable target for actually playing 9th Edition 40k for the first time.

Losing that goal was a bit of a motivation-killer. But I still had my main goal: paint my first 2,000-point army, sometime I’ve wanted to do for 30 years. That one remains a powerful motivator.

But given that I’ve spent most of the past three decades not being a miniature painter (except sporadically, and generally only as a means to an end), I want to make sure “paint just for the fun of it” is a viable goal. And on its own, I think it needs a little something to make it work. Because while it does feel liberating, as I look at the 11 partially painted models that remain to paint for my first army, to think about painting whatever the heck I want after that, I know me; I need a concrete goal.

Squads Zahariel (left) and Barakiel (right), so close!

So what could that goal be? One idea that occurred to me this morning was finishing out the 2nd Company. I’ve always notionally considered myself to be painting a 2nd Company army, despite really painting a strike force composed of elements of the 1st, 2nd, and 10th Companies (not to mention the Reclusiam, etc.).

I have seven squads unassigned in the 2nd, and doing them as a mix of old-school and Primaris Marines, plus their dedicated transports and my planned kitbash of Captain Aphael, should provide a pleasing mix of units to paint for the next several months.

In terms of other possible goals, “Paint units that give me new options” makes some sense — but it’s a bit fuzzy since I haven’t played yet and don’t know what new options will actually appeal to me, rules-wise. And it’s pretty close to just painting by Rule of Cool, which is fine but not a terribly concrete goal.

“Paint Blood Angels-y units” might be a good refinement on that one: deep strike squads, close combat figures, and the HQ units to support them. But I know if I go that route I’ll be wistfully eyeing the Stormhawk, Razorback, Devastators, and other kits under my desk which don’t quite fit that brief but are going to be a blast to paint.

At the moment, “finish the 2nd Company” is the best goal I’ve come up with. I’ll see if any others shake loose.

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Finished miniatures Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Six and a half months of painting: my Blood Angels army now at 42 models

I haven’t taken a full-army photo since August — sounds like it’s time for another one!

My 40k Blood Angels army as of October 3rd

I really need to get a terrain “slab” or something to serve as a platform for these shots — something a little sexier than the top of one of my Kaiser Multicases. But hey, it works.

Based on the latest 9th Ed. points update, I got a refund of 5 points (on Commander Dante, I think) that I can’t spend because I’ve already built all of my Angels with WYSIWYG wargear. My finished army will be 1,991 points, and I currently have 1,671 points painted.

Here are my previous three army shots:

May 2020 (the first time I had all the models assembled)
June 2020
August 2020

I’m 5 Terminators, 5 Death Company Marines, and 1 Teleport Homer shy of my first 40k army being complete — which, as I type it, feels a bit unreal. This project is something I’ve wanted to undertake for about 30 years; actually doing it feels pretty awesome.

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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

All hazard stripes, all the time: Squad Adamo in the lightbox

Reflecting on the time I spent painting Squad Adamo — which I think stretched all the way from August to the beginning of October! — I quite enjoyed doing their hazard stripes. I love hazard stripes on Chain Swords, so how could I not go wild with these dudes?

I also had a blast working on their bases. The elevated scenery elements in the kit are great, and they were fun to work into my basing routine.

My soundtrack for these guys was Ghostmaker, the second volume in Dan Abnett’s series about Ghaunt’s Ghosts, narrated by Toby Longworth. Good stuff!

Squad Adamo, 2nd Company, 9th Squad

I’m experimenting with shining a high-CRI flashlight into my lightbox from the front so the top-down lighting providing by the box itself doesn’t throw the minis into shadow. It seems to work pretty well.

Sergeant Adamo wielding the Eviscerator, flanked by two battle-brothers
Rear view of the trio
For the Emperor!
Rear view of the duo

Squad Adamo isn’t my finest work, but despite dragging my feet I did enjoy painting them. And after shooting these photos, I remembered that I could just touch up Mr. Tiger Stripes right on top of his varnish, and then varnish those bits again, so I did that.

Mr. Somewhat Less Tiger-Striped

A mere 11 figures now stand between me and my first finished 40k army: Squad Barakiel and Squad Zahariel, both of which are fully based and spot-painted.

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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: finally finishing Squad Adamo

I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t finish Squad Adamo in September — the first month I didn’t finish any figures for my 40k army since I started working on it in March. But given the state of the world and the stuff I have going on, it makes a certain amount of sense.

Metallics done, other layers to follow
My four main brushes for this stage (L to R): dipping paint, metallics, details, eyes
Three down to just the red and orange highlights
Everyone down to just the red and orange!

This was my first time painting yellow helmets, and Averland Sunset followed by Agrax Earthshade left them quite brown. Even with nearly full coverage on a Yriel Yellow layer, followed by Flash Gitz Yellow highlights, they still looked stained and odd.

So I backtracked and did another coat of Yriel, and then redid some of the highlights, and got a less-poopy look out of them. They wound up sort of flat, though; not sure how to correct that next time I do one of these squads.

At least the yellow is bright!
Man, I pretty much tiger-striped that front left guy…

Like most of my minis, Squad Adamo looks better from a distance than it does up close like this. Lots of flaws!

Sergeant Adamo and one of the battle-brothers completed
Squad Adamo, 2nd Company, 9th Squad

I’d originally had them as down as 7th squad, and was excited to see that the little lightning bolts I needed for their knees were standard transfers — until I looked more closely and saw that the “lightning bolts” were actually wings. A bit of Googling suggested that making them 9th squad (for the yellow wings) wasn’t out of line with the chapter’s force org, so 9th squad they became.

Not my best work, but they’re not awful or anything — and they’re done. I’ll get them into the lightbox in a future post. Onwards!

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Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Feo, Redemptor Dreadnought

Thus far I’ve held strong on my plan to not work on any minis outside/beyond my initial 2,000-point army, but lately I just haven’t been in the mood to paint — and when I don’t want to paint, I assemble. So I’ve started on my first post-army mini: Feo, my first Primaris Redemptor Dreadnought.

Small box, huge figure
Sarcophagus and upper body halfway done

This kit has a ton of movable parts on it: the sarcophagus armor opens and closes, shoulder joints rotate and move laterally, elbows and wrists move, and the front guns rotate. But as with most GW kits I’ve built, I ran into two issues: either the joint was loose, which doesn’t appeal to me for a mini I’m going to transport and use in play, or I couldn’t figure out how to paint the part fully while retaining its ability to move.

Unlike the smaller OG dreadnoughts, even the shoulder rotation comes with built-in complexity: a keyed joint rather than a simple press-fit peg, and huge armor plates that all but prevent arm removal once installed. Seeing that made my course pretty clear. As I’ve done before, I treated all those glorious movable parts as posable parts.

After finding a pose I liked — a lengthy process given the size and posability of the figure — I glued everything in place. The only exceptions are the waist (until he’s mostly painted) and the mount for the primary weapon, which is a nice snug joint and gives me the flexibility of switching Feo to plasma.

Upper body complete, parts arranged for the legs
Ankle nubbins

I screwed up and glued the legs into place too soon, resulting in a marked forward cant to the body — and making the fitment of the ankles a bit sloppy. Fortunately this kit is designed to be modified, with molded-in parts you can shave off in order to achieve running poses, etc. (or leave on for a figure that looks a lot like what’s on the box). So I shaved off those nubbins and got a better fit.

Close enough for government work
Upper and lower body in one of the many stages of glue-curing

A lot of Feo’s components need to be able to hold a fair amount of weight (by miniature standards, anyway!), so the gluing process took me several days in order to allow for 12-plus hours of curing time for each stage. I’ve learned that with GW minis a fussy build process results in a deeply personalized and cool finished product, and that was true here as well.

Brother Feo

I have two Redemptor kits, and initially I figured I’d make one the plasma guy and one the cannon guy. But those parts swap nicely, so I decided to make one Dread — Feo — with his sarcophagus exposed, in a pose that looks like he’s venting heat or taking a breather mid-battle, cannon low and at rest, and the other in a buttoned-up, aggressive posture with his sarcophagus covered and all weapons at the ready. I love the look of this kit with the “jaws” of front plating open; so many cool details are exposed that way.

Who opens their outer layer of armor mid-battle, leaving “only” the Ceramite of the sarcophagus itself to protect them? A fearless Space Marine — perhaps even a reckless one…like a Marine who pushed his limits too far and took a mortal wound, landing him inside a Dreadnought. (Feo was initially named Impavido, Italian for “fearless,” but it was too long to possibly fit on the tiny scrolls on his sarcophagus.)

I’ve picked out the scenery for his base (a half-buried dead Ultramarine and an overrun Guard post) and clipped his Macro Plasma Incinerator, so the next steps are all lined up. But before I really tuck into Feo, though, I need to finish painting my last three squads.

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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Squads Adamo and Zahariel

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.

Closing in a fully base-coated Squad Adamo
Ready to finish their black elements
Chainswords all taped up for hazard striping
Hazard stripes complete (but still needing touch-ups)
Adamo is down to just their red touch-ups before I can wash them, and Zahariel is fully based

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 > Dawnstone
  • 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
  • Gold: Warplock Bronze > Agrax Earthshade > Brass Scorpion > Runelord Brass
  • Purity seal wax, braided cords, sword handle leather: Screamer Pink > Carroburg Crimson > Pink Horror > Emperor’s Children
  • Parchment: Rakarth Flesh > Agrax Earthshade > Pallid Wych Flesh > White Scar
  • Blood drops: Mephiston Red > Carroburg Crimson > Evil Sunz Scarlet > Fire Dragon Bright
  • Eyes: Mephiston Red > Carroburg Crimson > Evil Sunz Scarlet
  • Wings: Celestra Grey > Drakenhof Nightshade > Ulthuan Grey > White Scar
  • 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!

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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: the once-far horizon is now visible

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.

Starting in on Zahariel’s bases
The tail end of my Land Raider’s varnish-curing period overlapped with both Adamo and Zahariel, making this feel like a proper little painting area
Zahariel fully based, I think (not sure if they were waiting for terrain wash or drybrushing when I snapped this)
Adamo nearly base-coated, Barakiel freshly primed

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!

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Miniature painting Miniatures Painting tools

Princeton Velvetouch brushes for painting miniatures: an update

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.[1] I just ordered a second batch of them from BLICK, which is itself an endorsement. I like these brushes a lot.

Princeton Velvetouch brushes: reloaded

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.

[1] 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.

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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

My largest painted model to date: the Land Raider Crusader Judgment

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:

Blood Angels Land Raider Crusader Judgment, 1st Company
Front view
Left side

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.

Rear view
Right side

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).

Top view

Plus a couple natural light/casual shots for good measure:

Pretty happy with how this guy turned out
Rear angle

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!