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.”
And that’s it for retreads. On to the final squad in this army, Barakiel!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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).
Plus a couple natural light/casual shots for good measure:
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!
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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!
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.
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.
It took me longer than I’d like to take Squad Dolos from this state, where they languished for a few days:
To this one, starring the worst base-coating work I’ve done this year:
And then to the “starting to not look like shit” stage:
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!
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.
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.
How about three direct comparisons of aspects of each model?
And here’s my favorite paint job from each group, the Librarian from Space Hulk and one of the Chain Fist brothers from 40k:
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.
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, 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!