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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: the “soft” assembly line

I stopped painting in pure assembly-line style (like I was doing last month), moved to two at a time, and now am experimenting with a “soft” assembly line: two on the handles, the rest of the squad nearby to make sure no paint goes to waste. Do the gold on my main two, finish it up on as many others as I can; repeat.

So far I’m digging this approach. When I finish the current two, the next two will already have several of their base coat colors in place — a nice little head start.

Two more on the handles
Working on the weekend
Several minor elements painted on the whole squad
Progress as of Sunday night — and Squad Karios all in one spot
Getting closer
Base coats: done!

At this rate there’s a decent chance I’ll have my first full Blood Angels squad completed this week!

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Finished miniatures Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: finished two more Marines, basing scraps, color guide

I stayed up late last night putting the final highlights on two more battle-brothers of Squad Karios.

Wrapped up after 11:00 pm, back to these in the morning

Then the dog woke me up at 5:00 am, so I figured I’d start on their decals. Knees: trickier than shoulder pads! But Micro Set and Sol are great, just needed a quick second coat on one knee pad and these were good to go.

Decals done

Then it was on to varnish and Army Painter Frozen Tufts, and now two more sons of Sanguinius are finished!

Three members of Squad Karios

Bits and bobs

My stash of 40k bits was small, so I ordered a few little piles of basing stuff — rubble, scraps of other models, etc. — to jazz up some of my figures.

Scraps and clutter for basing

There’s plenty of room to play with on 40mm Terminator bases, so I added a couple pieces of scrap (and a skull) to these two members of Squad Ultio. Once I work Astrogranite Debris in around them, they should look half-buried in the plains of Armageddon.

Working on bases for Squad Ultio

Blood Angels color guide

Mostly for my own reference, here’s the colors and steps I’m using for every element of a “standard” Blood Angel (shades are in italics; everything after the shade, generally, is a layer paint). This is based on — and almost entirely matches — Citadel’s current “parade ready” paint steps for this chapter.

  • Red: Mephiston Red > Agrax Earthshade > Evil Sunz Scarlet > Fire Dragon Bright
  • Gold: Retributor Armour > Reikland Fleshshade > Auric Armour Gold > Liberator Gold
  • Black: Abaddon Black > Eshin Grey > Dawnstone
  • Metal: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Stormhost Silver
  • Parchment/white cloth: Rakarth Flesh > Agrax Earthshade > Pallid Wych Flesh > White Scar
  • Magenta: Screamer Pink > Carroburg Crimson (skipped on gems) > Pink Horror > Emperor’s Children
  • Eyes: Moot Green > Agrax Earthshade > Moot Green
  • Second Company Yellow: Flash Gitz Yellow

Plus the base:

  • Terrain: Astrogranite Debris > Drakenhof Nightshade > Grey Seer (drybrush)
  • Skulls: Corax White > Agrax Earthshade > Corax White (drybrush)
  • Rocks: Grey Seer > Agrax Earthshade > 50/50 Corax White/Grey Seer (drybrush)
  • Edge: Dawnstone

All paints are thinned with a bit of water, including layers, and at the moment I generally do one coat. I also wash the whole surface on the armor, rather than just the cracks.

For the Emperor and Sanguinius!

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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Squads Ultio and Karios

I love Terminators, so my starting Blood Angels army includes two squads of them — one shooty and one bashy, with the hammer boys riding in a Land Raider Crusader. For a bit of relaxation I started building Squad Ultio, the shooty Termies, starting with Sergeant Ultio and the teleport homer.

Sergeant Ultio

I’ve never painted a Terminator with a back banner (none of the Space Hulk Termies have one); that’s going to be fun.

Then it was back to Second Company, First Squad — now with a second painting handle.

Reloading Marine (L) and sub-squad leader (R)

I like having two minis on the go for a few reasons, but most notably because the more I commit to using my palette the more often I find myself with extra paint to use up; it’s nice to be able to grab a second mini before it dries out.

Done for the night

After taking 7-8 hours on Sgt. Karios, I decided to speed up my base-coating of these two members of his squad. Not sloppy, like I was years ago — but not painstakingly exact, either. Somewhere in between.

After all, touch-ups are next — and even on Karios, I had plenty of those to do. A few more on these two shouldn’t be the end of the world, and it feels good to be ready for wash > highlight > seal now that the lion’s share of the work is done.

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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Sergeant Karios: my first finished Blood Angel

I finished my first Blood Angel!

Sergeant Karios, Second Company, First Squad

Twenty-six paint colors. Terrain. A tuft. Decals. 7-8 hours of work. And loads of new-to-me techniques: texture paint; highlighting (as opposed to drybrushing), including two layers in some areas — on top of the base coat and wash, of course; decals; multi-step basing. He was so much fun to paint!

Left side
Rear view
Right side

To date, this is the best paint job I’ve ever done. And about an hour after applying the sealant, I realized that I’d painted the lower edge of his torso armor like a wee black belt, to hold up his space-loincloth and grenades . . . when it should actually be red. Such is life! He’ll be unique among his brethren.

Finishing my first Marine makes my Blood Angels army feel real.

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Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: decal time

As I amassed the hoard of plastic that will become my Blood Angels army, I learned about decals. Most of what I knew about them was that as a kid, I tore, mangled, and misapplied them at basically every turn.

My research led me to Micro Set and Micro Sol (paid link), the twin weapons in the modeler’s arsenal for putting tiny decals on tiny figures — and especially on curved or irregular surfaces. They’re both decal softeners; softer decals become more fragile, but also better able to conform to curves and whatnot.

I might be able to freehand a Blood Angels chapter emblem in, like, 2027

I watched three YouTube videos about putting on decals, and browsed a few posts, and the funny thing is that people don’t really seem to agree on how to do it. Take the videos:

  • One person scored the decals with a hobby knife and uses only Micro Set, and never touched the decal with anything but a brush or that knife
  • One used like 8 million layers of Micro Sol; the process appeared to take an hour or two with lots of drying time between coats
  • One used both Set and Sol, and a Q-tip, and did the whole thing in one coat of each and like two minutes

All of their decals looked great when they were done.

And the posts? Gloss varnish before and after; no, only after; no, gloss before and matte varnish after; only after turning three times widdershins and never under the light of a full moon . . . you get the idea.

The little near-identical bottles themselves also make things a bit confusing: Sol recommends starting with Set and then using Sol; Set says to use only Set unless you really need Sol. But Sol is for irregular surfaces, which sounded like my use case — so I just followed the directions on the Micro Sol bottle.

Sergeant Karios, Second Company

I went with Second Company for my first squad because I like the pop of yellow and — for some reason — the decals for Second Company seem to be the most common.

And there’s another peculiarity: GW seems to have largely gone away from decals that aren’t for Ultramarines. The only Blood Angels transfer sets I have came out of my Dreadnoughts — even this kit, an explicitly Blood Angels tactical squad, doesn’t have a sheet of transfers in it. When those run out, I’ll be relying on Ebay.

Anyhoo, next came the banner.

Long may it wave

The Micro Sol bottle says to let it dry and see how they turn out, and then apply more Sol as needed (with drying time between coats); as needed, prick any bubbles that form. With a reasonably smooth coat of primer and paint these two decals both seemed to have gone on okay, but I could see a couple little spots where they hadn’t settled down perfectly. So I hit those spots with some more Sol, then let them dry again.

When all’s said and done, I’ll varnish over the decals when I seal the whole mini. These weren’t hard to do at all — huzzah!

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Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk Warhammer 40k

A month as a miniature painter: February-March 2020

Since I got back into miniature painting — and actually into it for the first time, really — on February 22, I’ve gotten quite a bit done:

I also put together a painting area on my desk, including paint racks and a lamp and lightbox, and added a host of Citadel pots and tools to my arsenal.

My WarpedMindGames paint racks
My TaoTronics painting lamp

I’ve got a 2,000-point Blood Angels army to paint during quarantine, all mapped out in BattleScribe. My baseline was my favorite units in 40k and units that looked fun to paint until around 1,500 points, and then 500 points of units that looked fun to paint but also supported what I already had. “Paint the army you love and don’t worry too much about the ebb and flow of the rules” is my mantra.

Along the way I’ve grown as a painter: used brush-on primer, wash, and sealant for the first time; experimented with edge highlighting; improved my detail painting and drybrushing; learning to make terrain bases; stepped up my assembly game with new tools; and played around with different workflows to find the one that’s right for me. I’m not going to knock anyone’s socks off with my paint jobs, but I’m having fun and loving the hobby.

All of my Space Hulk Terminators
Squad Karios
A converted Scout with a Skitarii Ranger head
Terrain bases on Squad Karios

Yore also turned 10 this year, and crossed the 300-post line last week in my flurry of miniatures-related posting (here’s #300). Traffic has doubled and I’m having a blast blogging again — and I’ve discovered the joy of the #warmongers community on Twitter, a tremendous source of inspiration, motivation, and camaraderie.

If you’re reading this I hope you enjoy Yore, and thank you.

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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: full-on highlighting for the first time

After sticking to base coat > wash > drybrush for my Space Hulk set, with just a bit of dabbling in edge highlighting here and there, I committed to fully incorporating highlighting into my painting toolkit with my Blood Angels.

I was pretty nervous about actually doing it for the first time. After base coating and washing Sergeant Karios, I already had about five hours invested in this model. What if I royally screwed him up?

Base-coated and washed
Rear view

Highlighting rocks

It turns out that highlighting is a lot of fun!

Just the gold bits done

It was a bit nerve-wracking at times, but the color progression GW recommends is designed to get lighter in pretty gradual steps. Even when I messed up a bit, it wasn’t too bad — and even not being much good at it yet, I still like the effect.

Everything but the red and magenta done

I’m really digging how the crispness of the highlighting contrasts with the more organic quality of the drybrushing on the base. That should help the mini stand out and make the base feel more like real terrain at the same time.

I also got to do a bit of freehand, since I don’t have any Second Company decals small enough for the banner. Here he is in his almost final state — just a few touches left to do:

Just Pink Horror, two decals, base edge, and varnish to go!

Every color under the sun

Back when I was painting my Space Hulk Terminators, I noted that Brother Goriel required 10 base coat colors. That seemed like a lot! But here I am painting Sergeant Karios, mostly following Citadel’s current painting guide, and I’ve used 25 colors (with one still to go, as my final highlight for magenta is in the mail):

  • Red: Mephiston Red > Agrax Earthshade > Evil Sunz Scarlet > Fire Dragon Bright
  • Gold: Retributor Armour > Reikland Fleshshade > Auric Armour Gold > Liberator Gold
  • Black: Abaddon Black > Eshin Grey > Dawnstone
  • Metal: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Stormhost Silver
  • Parchment/white cloth: Rakarth Flesh > Agrax Earthshade > Pallid Wych Flesh > White Scar
  • Magenta: Screamer Pink > Carroburg Crimson
  • Eyes: Moot Green > Agrax Earthshade > Moot Green
  • Yellow: Flash Gitz Yellow

Plus the base:

  • Terrain: Astrogranite Debris > Drakenhof Nightshade > Grey Seer (drybrush)
  • Skulls: Corax White > Agrax Earthshade > Corax White (drybrush)
  • Rocks: Grey Seer > Agrax Earthshade > 50/50 Corax White/Grey Seer (drybrush)

I have about 6.5-7 hours of work into Sergeant Karios. I’m a slow painter! And highlighting takes me a long time because it’s new; drybrushing is a quick, refreshing process by comparison. But every few minis, I get a bit faster at some step or another; I’m learning.

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Miniature painting Miniatures Painting tools Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: painting Sergeant Karios

This past weekend I worked in a bit of painting time. Somehow painting my first Blood Angels model feels more like the official start of my army than any of the preceding steps — buying, assembling, priming, and basing.

Audiobook as painting soundtrack

I’m listening to the audiobook of Guy Haley’s Dante (paid link), narrated by Gareth Armstrong, while I paint; so far I’m loving it.

I’ve never listened to an audiobook before, and it’s fascinating to me that three things are happening simultaneously while it’s on: I’m enjoying the book (Armstrong is a great narrator); it’s keeping me company while I paint, much like background music would; and neither book nor painting is distracting me from the other to the degree than I can’t comprehend the book or focus on my painting.

In fact, on that last front, paying attention to the book is actually helping me get into the Zen-like, relaxed-but-focused state in which I like to paint.

Fetch the Emperor’s bucket of Mephiston Red

As ever, Sergeant Karios is first into the breach.

For the Emperor and Sanguinius!

Compared to painting my Space Hulk Terminators, which had a fairly thick, years-old coat of spray primer and a poorly applied, and equally thick, base coat of red covering most of each model, this is night and day. Karios has my worst coat of brush-on primer, as he was first and I was still getting the hang of it, but it’s so nice and thin compared to the Terminators — and thinning my paints, using a proper fine brush, and focusing on the details are also smoothing the road.

Slow and steady: red done, magenta done, starting on gold

There’s also a definite quality difference between the cheap ZEM brush I’ve been trying out for base-coating and my better Citadel and Army Painter brushes. The curled tip on my ZEM brush is going to stay curled, so it’s been relegated to “open areas and spots where I need to poke between things” duty, leaving my better brushes for actual detail work.

Base edge color test

Along the way I took a poke at a Marine’s base with Mechanicus Standard Grey, and while not bad it’s too dark and too tonally close to the terrain color. Fortunately I’ve got more gray on hand now, and I have a hunch Danwstone will be perfect.

Sergeant Karios, fully base-coated

And on Sunday night, just as the light outside starting becoming too dim for detail work, I finished base-coating my first Blood Angel! Sergeant Karios still needs a full touch-up pass before his wash — but shit, that feels good.

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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Squad Karios bases turned out fine

After washing Squad Karios’ bases yesterday I was worried I’d screwed them up. Today I drybrushed them: Grey Seer on the terrain, 50/50 Grey Seer/Corax White on the rocks, Corax White on the skulls (all thinned a bit with water.

Squad Karios lining up for a good drybrushing
Drybrushed (top) vs non-drybrushed (bottom)

I probably went too heavy on the drybrushing — my default — but there’s definitely a difference, and a positive one. The drybrushed texture paint now looks like real ground.

My bases vs. the White Dwarf Basing Cookbook
Bird’s eye view

My bases have less artistry to them than the ones in the White Dwarf Basing Cookbook, but “less artistic than the Citadel studio painters” is. . . just reality, right?

What I’m thrilled about is that 1) they don’t look too far off the mark and 2) you can tell exactly which basing model I was going for. Not too shabby!

I’m not totally sold on my choice to use gray rocks on gray ground. They don’t look bad, they’re just hard to pick out of the sea of gray. But brown rocks don’t scream “plains of Armageddon” to me. They sure do pop more, though:

Brown vs. gray
Sandwich

I’m committed to my next two squads already, though: Dolos and Cain both have their rocks already glued down, so they’re getting primed and won’t stay their natural color. But maybe I’ll try painting them differently: still a Grey Seer base coat followed by an Agrax Earthshade wash, but then drybrush them with something like Nurgling Green or a 50/50 Kislev Flesh/Corax White mix.

And I have to remember that painting is a journey, not a destination. By the time I’ve painted 2,000 points of Blood Angels, the difference in quality between my last squad and my first should be noticeable; a bit of variation in how I base them will just come out in the wash.

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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Narses assembled, maybe screwed up my base wash

Tonight I wrapped up assembly on Narses, my Librarian Dreadnought.

Narses mostly assembled

This is a really cool kit! I can’t wait to paint this guy.

Narses

Narses is actually still in seven pieces: torso, arms x2, legs, feet x2, base — I’ve carefully balanced him for a photo, but he’s not glued together yet. I’m going to paint him in pieces and I may leave his arms unglued; I want to see if my miniature storage solution, which hasn’t arrived yet, can accommodate him with his arms attached before I make that call.

More basing

After Drakenhof Nightshade wash on the left, before on the right

I can see a difference between these two, but it’s not the difference I was expecting; I may have fucked up here.

The texture paint is pebbly, which makes sense, so I focused on really saturating it with my wash . . . which, as I type it, doesn’t sound like how I’d usually do a wash: drag across the details, letting it naturally sink into the cracks. So far the net effect here look less like a wash and more like I just used a darker texture paint.

It’s not unpleasant — I like the color — but I don’t know if it will add shadows and depth. It looks like I’ve eliminated the mid-tones.

Squad Karios, all washed up

Next stop is drybrushing the ground in Grey Seer, and then the rocks in a 50/50 blend of Grey Seer and Corax White and the skulls in straight Corax White. We’ll see if the finished product turns out anything like what’s in my head and/or what’s in the White Dwarf Basing Cookbook, but I’m not optimistic.