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Finished miniatures Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk Warhammer 40k

March miniature progress

March was a productive month for me, miniature-wise: I painted 16 miniatures! As far as I can remember, this is the most figures I’ve ever painted in a single month.

  • Painted 11 Space Hulk Terminators, completing my set
  • Squad Karios: painted 5 Space Marines, primed and based 5 Space Marines
  • Squads Dolos and Ultio, Dreadnought Narses: assembled and partially based 13 models
  • Squad Cain: primed and partially based 5 Scouts

Squad Karios, 2nd Company, 1st Squad, started March on sprues and is now half done as of last night — just under the wire.

Half of Squad Karios

My 2,000-point Blood Angels army list is 50 Space Marines, 2 Dreadnoughts, 2 tanks, Commander Dante, and a Chaplain — and my backlog of other fun Blood Angels stuff for future use stands at 2 Dreadnoughts, 15 Space Marines, and a Chaplain.

At my current painting pace I’ve got a solid three months of painting just for the Marines in my list, plus the tanks/Dreads, plus my backlog; that’s got to be good for another two months, give or take. I’m looking forward to it!

Blood Angels army progress pics

I have a thread going on Twitter where I share photos of my 40k army as it reaches new milestones — full squads assembled, primed, painted, etc. Here are the photos from March:

First squad built
Two squads assembled
Three squads assembled, one of them primed and fully based
Starting to look like a little war host

I’ve never had a proper 40k army before. I started a Squat army in the mid-’90s, but never made it past one or two squads (and a like amount of games). It’s a real pleasure to be plugging away on my Blood Angels.

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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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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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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk

Space Hulk Terminator showcase

My timeline for Space Hulk — and, zoomed out a bit, miniature painting in general — looks like this:

  • 2009: bought Space Hulk
  • 2012 or 2013: finished painting all the Genestealers
  • 2014: base-coated the red on all the Terminators
  • 2014-2020: basically quit miniature painting altogether
  • February 22-March 13, 2020: finished painting the Terminators

I’ve shared a representative sample of my painted Genestealers here on Yore, now it’s time to share those Termies!

May the Emperor’s light be upon you, brothers

I’m too close to these right now for self-critique. They’re not perfect. Despite having been painting for 30 years, I’ve spent the vast majority of that time not painting. I’m very much a beginner, with a lot to learn.

I’ve included my favorite mini in the center of each picture below: Lorenzo, the Librarian, Gideon, throne boy. (Close seconds are Leon and Zael.)

Zael, Sergeant Lorenzo, Omnio
Goriel, the Librarian, Scipio
Valencio, Claudio (still love that pun!), Noctis
Leon, Sergeant Gideon, Goriel
C.A.T., throne boy, chalice
All 12 Space Hulk Terminators

Even though there are fewer Terminators than Genestealers, and fewer of either than all the BattleTech stuff I painted ages ago, this was the most personally significant miniature painting project I’ve ever undertaken.

I have loved Space Hulk since I was a wee lad, flipping through issues of White Dwarf around age 10-12. Terminators are my favorite Warhammer 40k concept and figure, and always have been. I’ve wanted to own a set, painted by me, for over 30 years. The journey to getting these painted has, until 2020, been defined largely by not enjoying painting; this was the year, and the project, that saw me enjoying the process for the process. I love it now, and I had an absolute blast painting these Terminators.

For now, these are my best paint jobs. For now!

Painting is a ton of fun

I learned a lot, and rediscovered some things, while I painted these dudes:

  • using brushed-on washes, with multiple shades
  • a more delicate touch while drybrushing
  • a bit of experimentation with highlighting, notably on armor plate edges and gems
  • paying much more attention to painting details
  • using a brushed-on varnish for the first time
  • working with new tools, including a painting handle and a specialty water cup
  • using better brushes, and finer-tipped brushes, and taking better care of them
  • thinning my paints for the first time

I’m going to put what I’ve learned into practice on my Blood Angels army — and then iterate on that, and iterate again. I’m a miniature painter now, and I love this hobby!

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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk

Space Hulk Genestealer showcase

Space Hulk has consumed my imagination since I was about 12 years old, and actually getting it to the table to play — with miniatures that didn’t make me sad, and which were painted by me — has been a lifelong dream that’s never been closer to fruition than it is now.

The game (at least the 3rd Edition, the one I have) comes with 22 Genestealers, and I finished painting all of them in 2012 or 2013. Until I started working on my Terminators in February of this year, these were my most recent painted minis.

They incorporate everything I’ve learned from past painting sprees, which I’ve shared and critiqued here on Yore: reasonably careful base coating; color-matched drybrushing, rather than just white, and not too heavy on it; an ink wash courtesy of the Dip Method; and walking that line between trying so hard to be perfect that I never paint any miniatures and not being so sloppy about it that it’s a waste of time.

Deep breath. Let’s see how they look in the lightbox.

Let shine the lidless eye

My lightbox is pretty small, around 9″ x 9″, and there’s no way I can cram all 22 minis in there at once. So I’ve picked one of each pose (I think I got them all), a representative 11 out of the 22.

Games Workshop knows how to sculpt dramatic poses!

I like how the veiny head on Mr. Righty turned out, and the decking on both of them is some of the best I’ve done. Base coat in Leadbelcher, bolts picked out in gold (not sure which one), washed with Minwax PolyShade floor varnish, and drybrushed with Mithril Silver.

A runner, a lurker, and a showoff
Alas, poor Yorick!
Look at this fool who brought a sword to a Genestealer nest
The massive Brood Mother

She deserves a larger look, and from the other side. Such a cool sculpt! I’m curious what she’d look like with a lighter wash than the Dip, and with less drybrushing — or perhaps drybrushing in two steps with two colors. But overall I’m happy with her.

Mmm, licorice whips

These are my two overall favorites in some ways. The decking on the one bursting through the floor rewarded my simplistic base coat + wash approach by looking exactly like rusty spaceship deck plating.

Rear views of a couple from the pics above

I like these two from the back, as well. The texture on the taller’s one back spines and the rustiness of the deck plating on the short one came out nicely. On the flipside, the pile of armor could have used more drybrushing and the Genestealers’ claws could probably have used less.

This guy was a lot of fun to paint
Not quite as strong from this side

The guy running down the busted strut is just such a dynamic sculpt, I love it. I had fun with him. I’m still figuring out how to showcase an individual mini in the lightbox, but this feels like I’m on the right track.

I can see where I blobbed on too much gold on the bolts, and where the wash didn’t “take” on the left end of the base — but I still love this mini. The head, especially the teeth and the jawline, looks solid. The skulls have depth, and they pop against the rusty metal of the space hulk’s architecture.

Hopefully when I look back after painting my next 85 miniatures (doubling my approximate lifetime count), I’ll have improved by leaps and bounds — or at least measurable, joyful hops — from these Genestealers. But as they stand, they were my best work prior to February 2020.

And they’ve inspired me to take a bit more time on my Terminators, especially in the final detailing pass before the ink wash — to nail the little specks and spots of color, the wax seals and other pieces of flair. Terminators love a good bedazzling; I owe it to the Emperor to bedazzle my heart out.

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BattleTech Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures

More mechs from the vault, circa 1997-2007: part 3 of 3

My intro to part one applies here as well:

These mechs span about a decade of painting, some while actively playing BattleTech during regular matches with a friend in the University of Michigan student union (which I lost, no exaggeration, 100% of the time — but they were fun!) and some after moving to Utah.

The ones I painted while trying to get a fully painted force to the table tend to be pretty unrefined, and anything that wasn’t an assault mech got less attention too — I’ve always been a 100-ton goober, and the tiny ones just didn’t grab me as much.

Gunslinger

Let’s get this party started right: This Gunslinger isn’t the worst mini I’ve ever painted, but it’s the worst mini I’ve ever painted that I still own.

I’ve never stripped a mini and repainted it before, but I’m sorely tempted here. There’s nothing wrong with red/gold/black, and my paint application is mostly okay — but good lord is it boring. And desperately, achingly in need of an ink wash. And drybrushing? Maybe I was learning from my own tendency to over-drybrush and went to the other extreme: not drybrushing at all.

I also can’t unsee the “upside-down computer face” that is his head. And it looks like he’s wearing an adult diaper and swim wings — so in fairness, part of why this Gunslinger looks so dreadful is that the sculpt itself is dreadful.

Nexus

As a palate cleanser, this Nexus is pretty average for me at the time. Although again, like the Pillager in part two, there’s shading on this guy that looks like ink washing — which I was so sure I hadn’t done on any of my mechs. It’s not as heavy as the Pillager’s wash (or, if not a wash, layering?), so I bet I learned from that one and toned it down a bit here.

Piranha

Squarely back in drybrushing-only territory, and as a closer the little Piranha isn’t bad. All-black is a bit boring, but he does look better from the back. It’s hard not to like the Piranha, too — it’s such a goofy mech, fish-headed for no real reason except the joy of making a murloc BattleMech.

Piranha rear view

The “scaly” red in the legs, the fishbone-like tubing and ridges on the back — yeah, this mech is much more interesting from behind. I should have cut loose on the front a bit more.

And that’s it! That’s all of my old BattleTech miniatures. Every mech got a solo photo, and a representative sample of my vehicles got group photos. I learned a lot from painting these over the span of about a decade — which, compared to someone who paints minis as their primary hobby, is a staggeringly low number of figures for 10 years of output.

And that too is a learning experience: I’ve been at this for a long time, but on average across ~33 years I’ve painted . . . approximately 2.5 miniatures a year. I still have a lot to learn.

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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk

A full squad of Terminators down!

Today is a big day for me: I finished two more Terminators out of the 12 that come in Space Hulk, bringing me up to what would be a full squad of them in 40k.

“Only in death does duty end.”

Until I started painting in February, I hadn’t finished a miniature in eight years. Between Feb. 22 and today I’ve finished five. Five. Fuck yeah!

They were a blast to paint. I’m energized and ready for the next seven!

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BattleTech Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures

More mechs from the vault, circa 1997-2007: part 2 of 3

My intro to part one applies here as well:

These mechs span about a decade of painting, some while actively playing BattleTech during regular matches with a friend in the University of Michigan student union (which I lost, no exaggeration, 100% of the time — but they were fun!) and some after moving to Utah.

The ones I painted while trying to get a fully painted force to the table tend to be pretty unrefined, and anything that wasn’t an assault mech got less attention too — I’ve always been a 100-ton goober, and the tiny ones just didn’t grab me as much.

Zeus

My overly heavy drybrushing (in the wrong colors) here kind of works — entirely by accident, but still. The Zeus is a classic design replete with little lines, radii, and circles, and drybrushing picked those out pretty well. Like a lot of my mechs from this era, he looks weathered; that’s neat.

Kingfisher

I committed hard to my unit color scheme of black with red highlights/unit markings, and it didn’t always work out well. But on the Kingfisher, I like the red legs and weapons. This looks like a mech piloted by some grizzled, battle-hardened mechwarrior with a call sign like “Blood Fury,” known for wading through the blood of her enemies.

Pillager

Up close I can see that I needed to spend some more time concealing the base that went into the larger base. Metallic silver and metallic gold also looked better in my head than they do in reality.

Pillager rear view

I want to play around with sharing two views of some of my minis, and the Pillager is a good one to start with. For one thing, the silver/gold combo works better here — especially in the vents/fins on the legs.

For another, I’m seeing depth in those fins, and in other places, that looks like it could only have come from an ink wash. Maybe I drybrushed this guy in black? Or maybe after ~20 years I’ve just forgotten that I did experiment with ink washes before learning about the Dip Method? I wish I knew for sure, but I don’t.

Score another one for the lightbox on that front: I was 100% sure I’d never tried a wash before 2010 or so, but I’m not nearly as certain anymore. Whatever I did to the Pillager was overdone, but also somewhat effective.

I really, really have not being giving past me enough credit as a minis painter — and it’s held me back from doing more it, and from finding joy in the work. No more!

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BattleTech Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures

More mechs from the vault, circa 1997-2007: part 1 of 3

These mechs span about a decade of painting, some while actively playing BattleTech during regular matches with a friend in the University of Michigan student union (which I lost, no exaggeration, 100% of the time — but they were fun!) and some after moving to Utah.

The ones I painted while trying to get a fully painted force to the table tend to be pretty unrefined, and anything that wasn’t an assault mech got less attention too — I’ve always been a 100-ton goober, and the tiny ones just didn’t grab me as much.

Starslayer

In hindsight, I can feel my frustration while painting this guy — which led to over-drybrushing. I wish I’d known then that an ink wash would have eliminated that frustration and prevented me from desperately drybrushing the shit out of this model and thinking, “Why doesn’t it look how I want it to look?!”

Perseus

The pose combined with the rusty look I chose for this Perseus makes him look like a stern old grandpa. I’m kind of digging it. Also, I did a pretty good job on his missile battery — the rim is mostly even, and every missile port was hand-dotted because (again) I didn’t use an ink wash on him.

Goshawk

This Goshawk sculpt looks like he’s swaggering into the club, knowing he’s big king swinging dick. I kind of like the green/yellow color scheme.

Nobori-nin (Huntsman)

The Huntsman is kind of fundamentally doofy-looking, and I’m not sure I did him many favors. Despite the over-drybrushing, I do like how his legs turned out; there’s some reasonable depth to them and they look nicely weathered.

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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk Warhammer 40k

My first finished miniatures since 2012!

After buying the 3rd Edition of Space Hulk back in 2009, it took me about three years to finish painting my Genestealers — about 2/3 of the minis in the box.

That was in 2012.

Today, in the year of our glorious Emperor 2020, I finished Brother Scipio, Blood Angels Terminator, and “throne boy,” a nameless fallen Space Marine found aboard a space hulk in one of the missions.

The eye of the Emperor is upon you

It only took me 11 years to reach this point . . .
Let me get some action from the back section

Since I’ve put these two in the lightbox at every stage of production (base coat and wash in one post, dry brush in another, sealant in this one), let’s do a quick 4×4 gallery showing them side-by-side.

As always in my (limited) experience, the starkest difference is between base coat and wash. I wish I’d started doing washes years ago, instead of being too gun-shy to try them.

But it’s drybrushing that brings a mini to life for me. The difference between wash-only and wash plus drybrush isn’t huge at first glance (and some of that is likely down to my inexperience as a painter!), but it’s the step that makes the mini feel most real.

The overhead LEDs in my lightbox make the matt varnish (sealant) pop more than it does in person. A small price to pay for minis I can play with worry-free.

Onwards! I have 11 Terminators left in my Space Hulk set. It will not take me 11 more years to finish painting them. If I keep up this pace — roughly 2 minis a week, without feeling like I’m grinding them out or stepping on my other hobbies — I could have the rest done in about five weeks. Although the temptation to put in a marathon painting session is strong . . .

Musings on joy

More importantly, painting these miniatures brought me joy. Painting them, not just having them fully painted. There was joy in finishing them too, absolutely (and I’m so glad I stopped painting them assembly line-style), but my head was in the game as far as enjoying the painting as the hobby as much as the rest of the hobby around it.

That plus reading a piece in White Dwarf #451 about Phil Kelly, who has been collecting and painting the same Waaagh! of Orks for many years, across multiple editions of 40K, with models he’s inherited, kitbashes, new and old sculpts — just keeping going, loving the hobby for itself, riding out the vagaries of different editions because the Waaaghh! is the fun part — has got me thinking about trying out 40K again.

But not necessarily in my usual mode (buy game, learn rules, paint minis, find opponents). Rather in the mode of: pick a faction that speaks to me, buy a box, enjoy the painting, and maybe try playing down at the local shop sometime in 2021 — or not, and just keep building an army for the fun of it.

This r/Warhammer40k thread overflowing with positivity towards a 40k newbie and painting novice, is full of folks saying basically that: choose a faction you think is cool and form a bond with your minis. That’s where my head is at.