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And then there were none: Squad Caedes complete

Thanks to changes in point values (most of my Marines got more expensive) and unit classifications (my Scouts went from troops to elites), I had to drop a painted unit of Sternguard from my army, and replace half of the already-painted Squad Karios with another five tactical Marines, in order to bring my list into line with 9th Edition rules.

That left the five battle-brothers of Squad Caedes as the final unit I needed to paint in order to have my first-ever 40k army.

And now they’re done! I’ve finished my army!

Affirmative, brother-sergeant

Squad Caedes moves across the plains of Armageddon

The boards in the Battlezone: Manufactorum sets (Vertigus, in this case) make for great photo backdrops. I can’t wait to shoot my whole army on one of these, with terrain!

Squad Caedes, 2nd Company, 2nd Squad
Rear view

I’ll gather my entire force for a group photo or two in a future post. For now, a deep breath, a pause, and a shift to painting Deathskulls Orks and terrain pieces.

As I sit here writing this, I kind of can’t believe I finished my army.

But it just hit me that while I was a bit worried this moment would sap my momentum, when I finished I immediately built some Manufactorum terrain and primed some Ork Boyz, so I’d have stuff teed up to work on tomorrow — without even thinking about it. Minis every day, it’s a good feeling.

And finally, I’ve gotta close with the last WIP shot for my first army, Squad Caedes heading into highlights:

The last WIP photo I took before finishing this army
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Blood Angels Space Marines Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Squad Barakiel is all wrapped up

On November 5th I finished what I’d previously thought would be the final squad in my first 40k army, but which is now the penultimate squad.

Squad Barakiel, 1st Company, 1st Squad

I saved my favorite unit in the WH universe, close-combat Terminators, for the end, both because they’re my favorite and so that — theoretically — they could benefit from the experience I’ve gained over the past several months. I can see improvements in my commitment to details and in the delicacy of my highlights — with lots of room for further improvement!

Paging Dr. Barakiel to the lightbox

Sergeant Barakiel (center) flanked by two veteran battle-brothers
Rear view of the trio
My favorite member of the squad is on the right
Rear view
The full squad, exceeding the width of my tiny lightbox

And since I now have two squads of Termies, how about one of Squads Ultio and Barakiel, with Barakiel’s designated transport, Judgment?

Judgment (rear), Squad Barakiel (left), Squad Ultio (right)

Next up: Squad Caedes, the make-up unit that will complete my initial army. I was able to get on the list for a second-wave Indomitus box at my local GW store, and ditto for the Blood Angels Combat Patrol box (with its much fuzzier release date of “2021”), so I see a ton of Primaris units to paint in my Nov/Dec/Jan future!

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Blood Angels Space Marines Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Judging Judgment and finding it orange

After fixing the overdone highlights on Squad Adamo, which I did first so I could practice on a smaller canvas, I turned to Judgment. It proved to be a bit different because of the nature of a tank vs. a single figure, so I wound up doing a first pass, comparing Judgment to my Rhino and to its original state (via my photos), and then doing a second pass to really dial it in. Now the lads no longer call it “Orange Thunder.”

If you’d like the “before” photos, they’re in the original Judgment post — but I’ve also included one right up front, since the difference is fun to see. (I finished this retouching job on October 23.)

My takeaway for large Blood Angels vehicles with lots of built-in details and 3-D elements (as opposed to smaller ones like the Rhino, which is by design fairly simple and features unbroken flat surfaces), like the Land Raider, is “the scarlet is the highlight.”

After retouching:

The Land Raider Crusader Judgment, now retouched

Before:

“Orange Thunder”
Front view
Left side view
Rear view
Right side view
Top view
My customary casual shot outside the lightbox, at Judgment‘s golden angle

And that’s it for retreads. On to the final squad in this army, Barakiel!

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Blood Angels Space Marines Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Pressing rewind on the orange fury of Squad Adamo

One of my resolutions when I started my 40k Blood Angels army was to resist any temptation to repaint earlier minis as my skills improved. But, like all good resolutions, this one met two fuzzy situations and needed to be bent a bit.

The situations were Squad Adamo and my Land Raider, both of which had overdone orange highlights bringing them down. So not a case of repainting something from seven months ago that represented my best work at the time, but rather a case of retouching models done quite recently that don’t look as good as the ones I did before and after them — and only tackling one specific, easily fixable thing.

So on October 22nd I retouched their highlights by painting over about 50% of the Fire Dragon Bright spots with Evil Sunz Scarlet (the first-layer highlight color), dotting in a couple spots of orange as needed, and then re-varnishing the areas I’d repainted. Easy-peasy, no worries, and now they’ll stop haunting my dreams.

For a before-and-after experience, here’s the previous lightbox post for Squad Adamo.

Sergeant Adamo (center) flanked by two battle-brothers
Rear view of the trio
The other two battle-brothers of Squad Adamo
Rear view of the duo
Squad Adamo, 2nd Company, 9th Squad

Much better. Onwards!

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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

The lightbox welcomes Squad Zahariel

I’ve begun to notice that after the base is done (which I always enjoy), the next two steps — base-coating and touch-ups — often bog me down. I drag my heels with them, and then when they’re done, and I shade the minis, I’ve gotten my momentum back. After that tipping point, it’s a steady, enjoyable journey to a finished unit.

That was true with Squad Zahariel, which was so fussy at first (black on white primer!) but has turned out to be perhaps my best work in 2020. (I finished them on October 22.) These guys feature my best blood drops (which is good, because there are a ton of them!) and my deftest highlights. They’re the best I can turn out at my current skill level.

The former Sergeant Zahariel and two of his battle-brothers
Rear view of the trio
The two other members of the squad (my lightbox struggles when I try to shoot all five!)
Rear view of the duo
Squad Zahariel, Death Company

I’d intended to replicate the studio paint scheme, which has every skull done as ancient bone — and that would have been in keeping with the Death Company. But I forgot and base-coated the skulls gold, so I decided to go with it and finished them out as gold. I like how they turned out — and I had so much fun painting them that I broke a months-long streak of not ordering new 40k minis and procured a second box of Death Company. (Maybe I’ll try bone-colored skulls on them.)

Next up, a pause of sorts: I’m repainting the highlights on Squad Adamo and my Land Raider before finishing the Termies I currently have on my table. It’s going to be worth it.

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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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Blood Angels Space Marines 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!

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Blood Angels Space Marines Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Turiel, my second Dreadnought

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.

Lightbox shots

Turiel, 2nd Company Furioso Dreadnought

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).

Right side view, Frag Cannon (I knew I’d be building that version the second I saw it; Rule of Cool, baby!)
Rear view; Blood Angels backpack and Ork scrap debris up front
Left side view, Furioso Claw and Storm Bolter

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.

Spare right arm installed, Furioso Claw and Heavy Flamer

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.

STOMP STOMP STOMP

WIP shots

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.

Base done, lower body mostly done, starting on the upper body
Upper body base-coated
Whole body done, trying on the arms
All arms washed (Narses, on the right, is wearing the spare) and ready for layers

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.

  • Flamestorm Cannon shroud: Warplock Bronze > Agrax Earthshade > Brass Scorpion > Runelord Brass> Dawnstone drybrush
  • Black: Abaddon Black > Eshin Grey > Dawnstone highlight > Dawnstone drybrush
  • Metal: Leadbelcher > Agrax Earthshade > Stormhost Silver > Ryza Rust
  • Backpack: Mephiston Red > Agrax Earthshade > Evil Sunz Scarlet > Fire Dragon Bright > Ryza Rust on metal > Dawnstone drybrush > light Grey Seer drybrush
  • Ork scrap green: Castellan Green > Agrax Earthshade > 50/50 Castellan Green/Moot Green blend drybrush > Ryza Rust > light Grey Seer drybrush
  • Terrain: Astrogranite Debris > Drakenhof Nightshade > Grey Seer (drybrush)
  • Skulls: Corax White > Agrax Earthshade > Corax White drybrush
  • Rocks: Grey Seer > Agrax Earthshade > 50/50 Grey Seer/Corax White blend drybrush
  • Edge: Dawnstone

His body colors are primarily the studio colors (which notably use the Dante/Sanguinary recipe for gold, rather than the mainline Blood Angels version):

  • Red: Mephiston Red > Agrax Earthshade > Evil Sunz Scarlet > Fire Dragon Bright
  • Gem setting gold: Retributor Armour > Agrax Earthshade > Auric Armour Gold
  • All other gold: Warplock Bronze > Agrax Earthshade > Brass Scorpion > Runelord Brass
  • Black: Abaddon Black > Eshin Grey > Dawnstone
  • Gunmetal: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Stormhost Silver
  • Parchment: Rakarth Flesh > Agrax Earthshade > Pallid Wych Flesh > White Scar
  • Magenta: Screamer Pink > Agrax Earthshade > Pink Horror > Emperor’s Children
  • White: Celestra Grey > Drakenhof Nightshade > Ulthuan Grey > White Scar
  • 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.

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Blood Angels Space Marines Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Commander Dante

My original plan for Dante was to go with the studio recipe for gold on Blood Angels — Retributor Armour> Agrax Earthshade> Auric Armour Gold > Liberator Gold — and not the scheme for Dante and the Sanguinary Guard, which is brass over bronze. They’ve got gold armor, why not make it gold?

But then I followed the studio scheme for some other Blood Angels, even when it wasn’t my first instinct, and loved the outcome. And I thought that this “angelic brass” look would also help set them apart from the rest of the army (which I suspect is part of why it’s the studio scheme!). So I went for it, more or less — and I’ll be damned, it turns out gold!

I finished him up on June 20.

Commander Dante, Blood Angels Chapter Master
Rear view

I was fascinated to see how Dante would go from deep, dark bronze to gold, so I took a couple WIP photos to highlight the stages of that process. This kind of magical transition is one of my favorite things about miniature painting.

Base-coated and washed, so his armor is currently Warplock Bronze > Agrax Earthshade
First layer colors down, so his armor now has Brass Scorpion layered on top of about 90% of it.

With one exception, all of my Blood Angels to date have had their layers applied the same way: as edge and transition highlights. Somehow this makes them read as fairly bright red despite the fact that most of their armor is still Mephiston Red darkened with an Agrax Earthshade wash.

The exception is the Chaplain’s helmet, which had its first layer (atop a Rakarth Flesh base coat and a wash of Agrax Earthshade) applied to 90% of the surface area rather than just the edges/transitions — I basically repainted the whole helmet in Pallid Wych Flesh, leaving only the cracks/shadows alone. Then the final layer, White Scar, went on as an edge highlight.

That second approach was the only way I could see Dante’s armor turning out gold. If I left it mostly dark bronze, no amount of edge highlighting was going to change that. Unlike a normal Space Marine, he has musculature and other features molded into his armor that make it fairly simple to paint the “highest” areas over completely — trusting the lower pigment count in the layer paints to allow the richness of the bronze underneath to show through — and then do a spot/edge highlight with the final, most gold-colored, layer.

It definitely didn’t come out perfect, but it was a blast and I can see doing more parts of other figures this way in the future.

Commander Dante color guide

I mostly stuck to the studio colors, but diverged in a couple places — mainly because I didn’t want to buy more paint and I didn’t have the right green for his laurel or the Fenrisian Grey for his black elements. (Shades in italics, as always.)

  • Armor: Warplock Bronze > Agrax Earthshade > Brass Scorpion > Runelord Brass
  • Black elements: Abaddon Black > Dark Reaper > 50/50 Dawnstone/Calgar Blue
  • Eyes, jets, and axe blade: Caledor Sky > Drakenhof Nightshade > Temple Guard Blue > Baharroth Blue
  • Parchment, left pauldron, inner portion of halo: Rakarth Flesh > Agrax Earthshade > Pallid Wych Flesh > White Scar
  • White elements: Celestra Grey > Drakenhof Nightshade > Ulthuan Grey > White Scar
  • Leather: Screamer Pink > Carroburg Crimson > Pink Horror > Emperor’s Children
  • Seals and blood drops: Mephiston Red > Carroburg Crimson > Evil Sunz Scarlet > Wild Rider Red
  • Gunmetal: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Stormhost Silver

I was tempted to paint some Sanguinary Guard first before taking on the chapter master himself — but when I started this army I painted a Sergeant Karios first rather than an unnamed battle brother, so in that spirit I started the “golden boys” with Dante.

It feels good to have him done, and it was fun to paint just one figure rather than a whole squad. I’m impressed with Citadel’s recipe for the gold on him (and the Sanguinary Guard), which includes no gold paint but somehow reads perfectly as gold.

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Blood Angels Space Marines Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Crossing the 50% mark with my Blood Angels army

I’ve been watching the race between my two most-used paint pots, Mephiston Red and Astrogranite Debris, to see which one would have the honor of being the first one to expire in service of Sanguinius…and it was the texture paint!

My first dead soldier

Battle-brother Astrogranite Debris’s loyal service provided terrain for 33 Space Marines, 1 Dreadnought, and 1 little teleport homer — over half of my current army. That seems like a pretty solid performance.

Squad Amedeo and Chaplain Arrius

In the course of using up that texture paint, I finished my Sternguard Veterans, Squad Amedeo, and my Chaplain, Arrius, on June 12th.

Sergeant Amedeo, Chaplain Arrius, and my favorite battle-brother from the squad
Rear view of those three
The remaining three brothers of Squad Amedeo
Space Marine booty

I have some WIP photos for these guys, but I’m going to forego them. It’s already been some time since I posted, and WIP when it’s really “work in progress, like, weeks ago” doesn’t hold the same appeal.

Wrapping up these lads brings me to 884/2,000 points — although given my current painting pace, point values may all change due to 9th Edition before I finish!

My Sanguinary Guard and Commander Dante are up next.