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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.

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BattleTech Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures

A bevy of old BattleTech vehicles in the lightbox

I’m not going to go as deep into a self-critique on these as in my previous BattleTech minis post, mainly because most of what I said there stands for these minis as well: they needed shading and I over-drybrushed (and generally not in the right color), but they also show effort and look dandy on the table.

I’ve got multiples of many of these vehicles (like any good tabletop army), so I’m just going to throw up one of each type here.

Enter the box of light

First in the box are these two Games Workshop tanks (from Epic 40K, I guess?), which I used in combined-arms games as 100-ton tanks. It’s been so long that I don’t remember if those were the product of house rules, but whatever the case I do remember having a devil of a time finding BattleTech tanks that felt like they were 100-tonners. These fit the bill.

Definitely not BattleTech miniatures

They’re two of my favorite vehicle minis that I’ve ever painted, and I put a lot of time into them back in the day.

Mixed BT vehicles

I like these, especially the cheerful green one with his little headlights.

My quick and dirty color scheme got me through a lot of models back in the day

Base coat black, pick out details in red as unit markings, drybrush (waaaay too heavily) in white, and then onto the table! It got the job done. These look pretty rough as a result, though. If I painted them now, I’d figure out what wash to use on black and then drybrush in medium gray rather than white.

More mixed BT vehicles

The two hovercraft are tiny, and I remember being frustrated by them and putting in the bare minimum to get them table-ready. The little grey missile tank is kind of neat, though.

And to close, these two unprimed beauties — which, I have to say, I’m looking at in a new light now: as possible future painting projects.

Atlas and Ti T’sang

I think I was working my way up to the Atlas back when I played BT; it’s such an iconic mech that I didn’t want to mess it up. I should just have painted it!

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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures

Putting my USCR squad in the lightbox

Painted roughly three years after the BattleTech mechs I posted yesterday (2010, maybe drifting into 2011), the main difference between these MERCS minis and those mechs is that in between I learned about the Dip Method — which means that these have a wash applied, which the mechs did not.

Getting these guys out again, I have to say that I really like MegaCon’s figure designs here. There are a lot of little details, like the pouches and the variations in the guns, that give them character without making them feel cartoonish.

Unleash the all-seeing eye of the lightbox

Trying out a group shot in my lightbox (USCR squad, minus the tank)

I can definitely see the difference washing (shading) makes. I suspect the Dip Method’s floor varnish (Minwax PolyShades) is thicker than an actual made-for-minis wash, too — which may be why some of the shallower lines and transitions lack depth. There’s some nice warmth to the leather and some decent shading in the “vents” on the armor, though.

I learned from the mechs and their pesky rocks, too: These bases have just a few rocks apiece, and I glued those fuckers down tight. I’m also digging the contrast between the green central portion of the base and the rocks (which is hard to see here because of the angle).

And shit, these do look markedly better than my mechs. Progress!

On to the main event, the Behemoth — and his massive hammer, painted yellow for maximum USSR hammer/sickle vibes.

OSCR Behemoth

I like this guy. All the red adds up to being a bit bland, but some parts of his armor showcase the wash pretty well. He’s the “hero piece” in the squad, and I spent the most time on him. I also did a decent job keeping my base coated sections discrete, too . . . at least from this angle.

Here’s a shot composed so as to be as unflattering as possible, partly as an experiment — I’m still figuring out my lightbox, angles, etc. — and partly to highlight the difference between “good enough for tabletop” and “stands up to scrutiny from six inches away.”

Dat ass, though…

There’s a full-on unpainted spot on the small pouch where his left leg meets his waist (at the bend), and you can also see where I blobbed black on the pipes/cables on his lower black — relying on the Dip to cover my sins — and the Dip did not in fact cover my sins. I’m not sure if it’s glare or if I was overzealous in my application of spray sealant, but that’s something for me to keep in mind in the future.

On the other hand, the row of pouches facing the camera look really good! I also like the warmth in the yellow, and the shading, on his hammer. And the Dip worked its magic on his circular armor vents.

On balance, I’m surprised to say that my takeaway from these MERCS figures is that I’ve been selling myself short as a minis painter. I have a tendency to be overly critical of myself, so that tracks pretty well. Nothing I’ve shared so far makes me — or, I suspect, would make you — recoil in horror. Especially not at arm’s length during a game.

I’m not going to get anywhere by being uncharitable with my own lack of experience as a minis painter: My lifetime total is around 85 painted miniatures. To put that in perspective, Rushputin of Warpstone Pile — who is seriously fucking talented, a real brush-wizard — paints more miniatures than that in a single year. Looking at his 2018 year in review post, he paints an average of roughly 242 minis per year (~450 in 2016!). I can’t expect to be nearly as good as him after what’s basically 33% of one of his average years.

The lightbox is proving quite useful for self-evaluation, and for putting things in perspective; I’m really digging it. (I reviewed this model in my previous lightbox post.) It highlights both positives and negatives much more clearly than just holding up a mini at squinting at it — and it makes the minis look cool!