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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!

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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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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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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.

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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Squad Dolos brings me up to 730 points of painted Blood Angels

It took me longer than I’d like to take Squad Dolos from this state, where they languished for a few days:

Partially base-coated

To this one, starring the worst base-coating work I’ve done this year:

Fully base-coated

And then to the “starting to not look like shit” stage:

These are such simple models — look how few colors I’m using for layers/highlights!

And finally through the undocumented and quite frustrating stage where I discovered that the ~20-year-old knee pad decals I’d planned to use were — at least as far as I could tell, still being pretty new to using decals — too old to soften properly despite repeated applications of Micro Sol. I was hoping to avoid freehanding their squad markings; in the end, that’s what I had to do.

…But I finally got there!

Squad Dolos, 2nd Company, 3rd Squad
Rear view

I have to say that these weren’t my favorite models to paint. Their highlighting was fun, but they’re kind of basic — excellent sculpts and detail, but with so few ways to personalize or pose them that the end product was not all that exciting. I didn’t cut corners on them, but it always felt like a bit of a struggle; I suspect that’s why it took me so long. Ah well.

Thus far I’ve painted more troops than anything else, so my current point total of painted figures (730/2,000) is low relative to the number of models I’ve completed. I’m one figure shy of the 50% mark now, and it’s all characters, elites, and fast attack — plus one massive tank — from here on in.

It doesn’t look like I’m going to match April’s record month, but you never know. Next up I’m going to paint my Sternguard squad and my Chaplain, and fitting in one more squad of five after that — which feels like a stretch right now! — would match April’s tally.

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

Terminators new and old: February/March vs. April

With Squad Ultio wrapped up, I can now do a comparison I thought might be interesting: Terminators I painted in February/March of this year versus Terminators I painted in April — same figures (more or less), same chapter, same color scheme. Which means it’s lightbox time!

Let’s start with the closest apples-to-apples pairings, the ones with similar sculpts and wargear.

Similar models

Storm Bolter and Chain Fist
Leaders with Power Swords
Storm Bolter and Power Fist
Assault Cannon

Specific elements

How about three direct comparisons of aspects of each model?

Chain Fists
Backs
Assault Cannon

Favorites

And here’s my favorite paint job from each group, the Librarian from Space Hulk and one of the Chain Fist brothers from 40k:

Librarian vs. one of the Chain Fist bros

Natural light

As I was packing them all up again, I realized it might be good to toss in one more photo — five vs. five, but just a casual picture in natural light.

New/old alternate front/back in each pairing

A bit of context

With my Space Hulk Termies, I was working with years-old primer, over-sprayed, and thick base coats of red. I made the conscious choice to stick with the techniques I’d used a decade ago on my Genestealers, so my whole set would look alike; that meant sticking to one post-shading step, drybrushing (with occasional bits of edge highlighting). My April Termies got two layers after shading, and no drybrushing save for the bases.

I also switched over entirely to Citadel paints, rather than my previous mix of Citadel and Privateer, and started using GW’s parade-ready guides for my color choices. The difference between starting with Mephiston Red, a dark red/crimson, and starting with P3 Khador Red, a scarlet, is pretty striking. The scarlet base coat doesn’t leave much room to go “up” in shades.

Overall?

Overall, I can see that my painting has improved since I started up again. The more recent paint jobs are objectively better, even though they contain plenty of flaws and could absolutely be improved in a myriad of ways.

I tend to be quite hard on myself, especially about things I’ve done which aren’t perfect where I can clearly see that they’re not perfect. (As I type this, I’m literally thinking, “Crap, these felt like they were so much better but the difference just isn’t that dramatic.) I know I’m not alone in this because I see lots of other miniature painters online who are hard on themselves; after hours of working on a model, it can be tough to see anything but its flaws.

It’s good to be able to see some improvement. The hours I’ve put in are paying off — and I have so much more to learn!

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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

My first mini of May: Relentless

My first 40k tank is also my first completed model in May: Relentless, the designated transport for Squad Karios, 2nd Company. It’s my first partly because it just plain took me longer than I expected, but also because I spent at least as much time assembling minis as painting in the first week or so of the month.

Here are its two golden angles:

Relentless, 2nd Company; designated transport for Squad Karios, 2nd Company, 1st Squad
Let me get some action from the back section

And the full lightbox treatment — including my first use of the little hatch in the top of my cube, since this model has a top worth showing on its own.

Front (not visible, but there: tiny windshield wipers!)
Left side, including the entry hatch with 1st Squad livery

I’ve mentioned before that there are stages of the painting process when the miniature starts to come alive — the wash makes it look real, the highlights give it life — but with Relentless was surprised to find that that stage was the very last one: the livery. Putting on the decals makes it feel like a vehicle in a larger force, like a part of the Blood Angels chapter. I dig that.

Rear view, with my beloved hazard stripes on the deployment ramp/door
Right side, with my second attempt at writing the tank’s name on the banner
Top view; there are a zillion ways to approach top livery, but I thought these two made the most sense for aerial assets observing the battlefield

I always forget that “generic” Space Marine kits assume you’re building Ultramarines, so I’ve probably put the gunner’s Cog Mechanicum pauldron on the wrong side. But hey, it’s not like it’s perfect apart from that! Loads of little mistakes abound.

Nonetheless, I’m happy with Relentless and excited to have completed my first 40k tank. I’ve got one more in my current army list, the Land Raider Crusader Judgment, plus a few more in my backlog. Painting them should get a bit smoother every time, and before I know it what seemed difficult on this one will just be routine.

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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Painting tools Warhammer 40k

Closing out a record painting month with Squad Ultio

I painted 16 miniatures in March, a personal record — but I managed to top that number, by one figure, in April!

Last night saw Squad Ultio, my first Terminator unit, through to completion. A big part of my motivation to finish these guys in April was my entry in BGG’s monthly painting challenge; once I added Ultio to that list, I was going to do my level best to finish them.

Incidentally, I looked up the proper first layer color for an Averland Sunset base and it’s not Flash Gitz Yellow (as I’ve been doing on Ork scrap on my bases) but Yriel Yellow, so that’s what I’ve used to highlight my hazard stripes. No other color surprises on these guys.

Squad Ultio, 1st Company, 2nd Squad
Rear view

With their 40mm bases they’re a bit much to try to fit into my tiny lightbox, so here are a couple close-ups of the squad in two parts.

Sergeant Ultio, one battle-brother, and the squad’s teleport homer
Three veteran battle-brothers

Gotta grab an army shot, too. I’m up to 553 points now!

My Blood Angels army as of April 30, 2020

I built my first Blood Angel, Sergeant Karios, on March 10, so this represents about seven weeks of work.

Drinking, writing, and a brush

Along the way, I nearly made a catastrophic mistake:

One of the classic blunders

I also tried a new tool, and a nerve-wracking experiment — both hard to make out given the terrible photo (though easier to spot in the lightbox shots above) — and wrote ULTIO on the banner and BAAL on a pauldron in Gundam marker:

This is a game-changer for future kits

I did learn that if I brush on varnish over the marker, it’s going to rub it out at least partially. I touched up the ULTIO, but it didn’t come out as crisp as it was before. Note to self for next time: dab it on, rather than brushing.

And, as a first follow-up to my long post about brushes, I tried the first of my new Princeton Velvetouch brushes, the 10/0 Liner. After 5-6 hours of layers and highlighting work, the extraordinarily fine tip of this synthetic brush…still looks like it’s brand new.

My new favorite detail brush

That’s incredibly exciting, as I’d despaired at the prospect of finding synthetic brushes that could match the quality of animal hair; these look like they’re going to deliver. Comparing this $3 brush to any of my $1 ZEM brushes, which curled in the first few minutes of use, the price difference is absolutely worth it (although crappy brushes also have their uses!).

I also have two rules for all new detail brushes: no metallic paints, and brush cleaner at the end of every session. (That second rule goes for all of my brushes, now.) Those seem to make a big difference!

My painting queue for May through July is just as ambitious (by my standards) as April’s, with 16 + 1 tank on the docket for May and 17 + 1 Dreadnought + 1 large tank for June. I may not hit them both, but I’m painting for the joy of it and joy doesn’t care what month it is.

Which is good, because as of this post’s publication date my family is on day 50 of pandemic isolation/lockdown, and time has become a meaningless smear of present. Stay safe out there!

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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Finished my first 40k Dreadnought, Narses

Narses has been sitting on my desk, fully painted save for one tiny bit of highlighting in a single color, for several days now. But that last color (Baharroth Blue) finally came, and with that done I could varnish him, glue on some tufts, and add him to my Blood Angels army.

Narses, one of my HQ choices for my current Blood Angels list

I think the above is his “golden angle,” but let’s give him the full four-way lightbox treatment, too.

Front view
Left side
Rear
Right side

Here he is leading my other troops. There aren’t that many of them yet, but the next couple months should see about three dozen more added to my strike force.

All of my painted sons of Sanguinius to date

He was a lot of fun to paint — which is good, because my current list features a Furioso Dread and I have a Death Company Dread, two Redemptors, and two “almost a Dreadnought” Invictor Warsuits in my backlog! Ditto his scenic base, which was the largest I’ve ever done.

Having worked with the pre-molded Dreadnought base, though, I don’t think I want more of them in my army. I Ebayed a couple 60mm plain bases to use for my other two (and the Redemptors/Invictors come with plain bases), which will make Narses’ “hero base” a nice contrast.

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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Fixed Squad Cain’s cloaks and finished them up

After ruining my Scouts’ camo cloaks with overzealous highlighting, I thought about my options, slept on it, and settled on the path that sounded the most reasonable to me:

  • Repaint them in Mechanicus Standard Grey, allowing me to leave their necks alone and helping hide any areas I miss
  • For the camo, stick with Celestra Grey but switch from Dawnstone to Dark Reaper, since Dawnstone didn’t really work out
  • Wash with Drakenhof Nightshade again; that was solid
  • Do a minimal highlight just in the backpack area with Dawnstone
Step 1: repaint the cloaks

I don’t think I’ve ever tried to fix a substantial mistake at the “finished miniature” stage before. I can recall messing up my sealant a couple of times, years ago, but my “fix” was throwing away the miniature (because I didn’t know better). Fortunately the cloaks are a big, simple shape and I was able to repaint them without bodging paint onto the decals, etc.

Speaking of decals, I forgot to include this photo in yesterday’s post:

These decals just ain’t right

My GW decal sheets have been perfect so far, but these 10th Company ones — from two separate decal sheets — both have a white border. Trying to paint out the border on a pauldron I’d already washed and highlighted sounded like a bad idea, so instead I just did the lone company icon freehand. Gotta love cloaks that cover up shoulder pads, otherwise I’d have had to freehand five!

Anyhoo, they were wet when I dropped them onto my painting mat — so now they’re a part of its story forever.

Dark Reaper and a first pass on Celestra Grey laid in
Final pattern after a second pass with Celestra Grey

And here’s the silver lining of fucking these guys up and having to redo them: I got to tweak the camo colors and pattern based on the first go-round, and I remembered that “minimal highlights needed” is a situation for which I have a tool in my toolbox that I’d been overlooking — namely drybrushing!

So I hit their cloaks and with a subtle Dawnstone drybrush, which turned out well. The Dark Reaper patches basically vanish under the wash, unfortunately, but in the right light you can tell that there’s a second color in there alongside the light gray. They’re not perfect, but the camo looks like camo. I’ll take it!

And with that, my second Blood Angels squad is done.

None can hide from Mephiston’s psychic gaze

Squad Cain, 10th Company
Rear view showing the redone camo cloaks

Unrelated, bit I’m struggling a bit with the lightbox on these guys. It seems to be washing out some of their colors — or maybe it’s the auto-adjusting I’m doing in PhotoScape? Whatever the case, this photo in natural light showcases them more clearly to my eye (and you can see their red eye lenses, too!).

Natural light, messy background

And while we’re here, why not a full “army” shot, too?

And then there were 15

With Squad Cain finished, Narses is next. His base has been a lot of fun to work on, and I’m excited to paint his body.