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Adeptus Custodes Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

Spraying my Custodes with Retributor Armour: notes to self

After enjoying the time savings from spraying my first batch of 40k terrain with Citadel’s Wraithbone rattle can — a primer and base coat in one — I decided to go the same route with my custard lads. They’re 90% gold; this is a potentially huge time savings.

So I built my entire army before painting any of them — something I haven’t done since I got back into painting in 2020. It’s only 26 models, so this seemed like the most logical approach.

2,000 points of Dread Host Custodes

As luck would have it, today’s weather was perfect for some spray painting.

3-2-1 RESPIRATE
Deep in the spray chamber, it’s kinda dark

Here’s what I found:

  • Retributor Armour, which is a metallic, doesn’t go on as easily as Wraithbone (which is not).
  • Compared to terrain, which, broadly, is flat and regular, miniatures are much fussier to spray paint. They’re covered in little nooks and crannies.
  • The Allarus Terminators are fussier than the Custodian Guards, because their pauldrons are overhangs and their little turtle heads make a “dead zone” for paint unless you hit that area from just the right angle.
  • Starting with them laying down is much easier than starting with them standing up. Many of the hard-to-reach bits are dealt with much more smoothly, and when you stand them up there’s just a bit of obvious touching-up to do.
  • My usual approach — spraying into an open box sitting on its side — doesn’t work nearly as well as just setting the figures on the top of the box and attacking them from all angles. (Outdoors, with no one nearby, and my goggles and respirator on, this isn’t a safety hazard.) With care, it’s not too hard to keep the paint on the box.
  • I thought one can would cover 21 infantry models and 6 bikes. It actually covered 14 infantry models (1 Trajann, 1 Vexilus Praetor, 6 Allarus, 6 Custodians) and the bases for the 6 bikes.
  • That took me about 75 minutes, including time spent waiting for stuff to dry, so spraying the other 6 infantry and all 6 bikes shouldn’t take any longer than that.
  • I can’t believe I used to do this without goggles and a respirator mask!

None of that has anything to do with the quality of Citadel’s rattle cans: Retributor Armour spray dries beautifully. Even if I have to brush-prime the odd crevice and touch it up with a spot of paint, I’ve still saved a ton of time here.

Look at their wee nameplates!

I opted to spray the Vertus Praetor bases because 1) why not? and 2) that way the rims and rocks won’t look different from the rest of the bases (which they might if I primed them white). Ultimately this probably wouldn’t matter much — but hey, shiny bases!

I’m honestly tempted to leave them like this

Now I need to wait for another can of paint to arrive in the mail before I can goldenize the rest of them — but in the meantime, I’ve got 20 bases to work on!

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Adeptus Custodes Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Adeptus Custodes Dread Host color guide and painting steps

There are relatively few Adeptus Custodes units, and from what I’ve seen they all use pretty much the same colors (adapted per one’s shield company) — kind of like Deathskulls Orks. So I have a feeling one main color guide will cover most of my army.

Bases

As ever, I’m using a recipe from White Dwarf 161 (Nov. 2016) for the terrain, and washes/shades are in italics.

  • Terrain: Stirland Mud > Agrax Earthshade > Golgfag Brown drybrush
  • Rocks: Mechanicus Standard Grey > Agrax Earthshade > Celestra Grey drybrush
  • Skulls: Corax White > Agrax Earthshade > Corax White drybrush
  • Nameplates: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Stormhost Silver on the letters only
  • Base rim: Dryad Bark
  • Tufts: Mix of Army Painter highland and mountain tufts

Trajann Valoris has two additional elements on his base:

  • Demon skull horns: Steel Legion Drab > Agrax Earthshade > Ushabti Bone drybrush
  • Stone platforms: Celestra Grey > Agrax Earthshade > Grey Seer drybrush

Custodes

These recipes cover the basics for Dread Host Custodians, and in general they come straight from Citadel (with a few tweaks). I default to Citadel’s Parade Ready steps (base/shade/layer/layer), but with these guys I’m mixing in a bit of drybrushing as well. Gems are a big deal for Custodes, so I’m going to attempt a more realistic and detailed approach on those — and ditto with all their fancy blades, for which I’m trying glazing for the first time.

  • Armor: Retributor Armour spray as both primer and base coat > Reikland Fleshshade > Auric Armour Gold > Stormhost Silver
  • Dread Host black:
    • Left pauldron: Abaddon Black
    • Robes: Abaddon Black > drybrush Eshin Grey > very lightly drybrush Dawnstone (follow option two in this excellent Artis Opus tutorial)
    • Weapons: Abaddon Black > Eshin Grey > Dawnstone
  • Dread Host gems: Stegadon Scale Green > Coelia Greenshade > Sotek Green in a crescent from 2 o’clock to 8 o’clock > Temple Guard Blue in a smaller crescent over the Sotek Green area > dot of White Scar at 11 o’clock
  • Dread Host eyes: Sotek Green (note this is a layer paint) > Temple Guard Blue
  • Blades: Glazing time! I followed this Warhammer TV video, but glazed different portions of the swords (because these are different swords than the one shown). The glaze should be so thin that it almost looks invisible, like it’s not changing anything, when you apply it. (Like Duncan says, after a couple coats you’ll start to see it.)
    1. Stegadon Scale Green base coat
    2. Glaze with Sotek Green + Lahmian Medium, 3 coats starting behind the nodules
    3. Glaze with Fenrisian Grey + Lahmian Medium, 3 coats starting a little ways out from the nodules
    4. Glaze with Ulthuan Grey + Lahmian Medium, 3 coats close to the tip
    5. Sotek Green on the wires, nodules, and high points along the flat of the blade
    6. Ulthuan Grey along the edges, and light top-level highlights on the nodules and wires
    7. Freehand the lightning/power effect with Ulthuan Grey
    8. White Scar on the edges just near the very tip, and the tip itself
  • Dread Host pteruges: Celestra Grey > Drakenhof Nightshade > Ulthuan Grey > White Scar > dots of Stormhost Silver on the studs
  • Gloves, weapon grips, and other leather: Doombull Brown > Nuln Oil > Wazdakka Red > Squig Orange
  • Plumes, tassels, cords: Mephiston Red > Carroburg Crimson > Evil Sunz Scarlet > Wild Rider Red
  • Metal: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Stormhost Silver
  • Armor joints and leg/boot tubes: Abaddon Black > Eshin Grey
  • Parchment: Rakarth Flesh > Agrax Earthshade > Pallid Wych Flesh > White Scar > Eshin Grey for the writing
  • Cartridges: Warplock Bronze > Agrax Earthshade > Brass Scorpion
  • Trajann’s unique elements:
    • Cloak exterior, and his robe: Mephiston Red > Carroburg Crimson > Evil Sunz Scarlet drybrush > touch-up the gold portion
    • Cloak interior: Doombull Brown (note this is a layer paint) > Nuln Oil > Wazdakka Red drybrush
    • Lion pelt: Dot black in for the eyes, nose, and claws; for the rest, it’s Zandri Dust > Agrax Earthshade > Ushabti Bone
    • Feathers: Celestra Grey > Agrax Earthshade > Ulthuan Grey > a few dots of White Scar

Painting notes

The Codex’s guideline for robes (they generally match the shield company’s color, so black or black/white for Dread Host) doesn’t match the lone Dread Host mini pictured in the Codex, whose robe is red outside/white inside. I went with black because it seemed like the better approach for emphasizing that this is a Dread Host force.

Glazing was tricky! I didn’t thin my glazes enough the first time, so I repainted everyone’s swords and started from scratch. The second time went better, but then I applied too much straight Ulthuan Grey during the highlight steps (after glazing), which overpowered all the glazing work, so I had to repaint two of the swords a second time.

Painting steps

For the early steps, I’m painting my Custodes like I paint terrain, rather than figures — and there’s no touch-up step. That plus doing primer and base coat as one, with no overnight cure time, should make them significantly quicker to paint than my other models.

  1. Assemble: Build all of them at once, then spray them all (rather than having parallel tracks for assembly, priming, basing, and painting on multiple units).
  2. Primer and base coat: Spray the whole mini with Retributor Armour, which also only needs 15 minutes to cure (rather than curing overnight).
  3. Base: As per usual, but apply the texture paint carefully around the feet so that the model is clearly standing atop, not mired in, the terrain.
    1. Base rims: Paint as usual. (I normally do this last, to mark finishing the mini, but with the nameplates in the mix I want some wash in the crevices where the plate meets the rim, so the rims need to be done now.)
    2. Paint the nameplate: Just my usual steps, but extra careful around where the terrain meets the top edge of the plate.
  4. Gold touch-ups: I inevitably get a bit of Stirland Mud on what should be gold, so just fix it up with Retributor Armour. Check for little nooks and crannies that didn’t get hit (or hit hard enough) with the spray, and touch those up as well.
  5. Shade the gold: Wash all the gold areas in Reikland Fleshshade. Doing this now lets me get into all the hard-to-reach crevices without worrying about messing anything up.
  6. Paint everything except gold and gems: Approach this whole process like I do with terrain: with the care of highlighting. I’m not bodging on paint and fixing it in a touch-up step; I’m carefully painting details surrounded by areas that are at a different stage of completion. The goal is to avoid needing touch-ups (or at least needing as many as I usually do).
    1. For Custodian Guards, my order is: black, bronze, silver, blades, eyes, pteruges, tassels/plumes, gloves.
  7. Finish the gold: Highlights, plus any gold touch-ups prompted by the previous step.
  8. Paint the gems: Base coat, shade, highlight, as per usual — but “think like terrain.” These can be simple details; a gem the size of a grain of salt doesn’t need shading, and may not even need a highlight. A bigger gem deserves the full treatment. Keep the flow fast and loose.
  9. Seal: No weathering or decals for these lads, so just my usual Vallejo matte white sealant.
  10. Tufts: As per usual; apply with white glue.
  11. Glue the flight base pegs in place: I did this before sealing, without thinking about it, but this really should be the final step. If I’d sealed the bases first, I could have slathered on my sealant with reckless abandon without needing to carefully avoid the clear pegs.

When I started out, my plan was to batch-paint every step across the entire army. I wound up doing that for priming/base-coating (the gold), bases, and nameplates, but thereafter I switched to working squad by squad — my usual approach. It might technically be more efficient to batch the whole army, but I need the dopamine hit of finishing minis to give me momentum for the next batch. (And I’m not entirely convinced messing with 26 figures at once, all cluttering up my desk on improvised hand-grips, is more efficient…)

I always like to use a new minis project to build on existing skills and knowledge (e.g., painting these Custodians like I learned to paint terrain) as well as learn new ones, balancing the latter with not overwhelming myself and risking burnout. For my Custodes, realistic gem shading and more detailed fancy blades — glazed with the aid of Lahmian Medium, which is new to me — are my stretches. I’m also hoping that a whole army painted without a dedicated step for touch-ups will help me paint more precisely across the board.

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Adeptus Custodes Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

40k army number three: Adeptus Custodes of the Dread Host

I’ve been maintaining my hobby streak for miniature-painting (today is day 495), but over the past few months my pace has slowed considerably. I’m okay with that, and I stand by my philosophy on this: Any forward progress beats the zero progress I made for many, many years. Even if all I do is paint one Deff Dread’s horns, or one Marine’s Bolter, I’ve done something to keep the train moving.

If the train stops, it may not start up again for a long time (if ever).

But it hit me this morning that just as working on terrain was a great palate-cleanser between finishing my Blood Angels army and starting my Deathskulls Ork army, a third army might be just the ticket here. If I’d done that when I first got into painting, with my Angels, I probably would have lost all my momentum and burned out.

But now, with one 2,000-point army ready to go and a second with 37 figures done (32 standard-sized and 5 large ones)? That feels quite different.

My first model in this army, a sword-and-board Custodian Guard

It’s custard time

Way back in the before times (March 2020), when I was deciding what army to paint, I almost picked Adeptus Custodes because of the sheer awesomeness of the Vertus Praetors and Custodian Guard models. Blood Angels were the right call, though, and Orks were the right call after that — but now it’s time for the golden legion!

As a palate-cleanser, they fit the bill perfectly:

  • It’s an elite army, so it can be tiny. My current draft list is 20 infantry models and 6 bikes! That’s about half the size of my Marine army and a third the size of my Ork army.
  • Assuming I make them gold (which I will be), they’re like 90% gold — which means I can spray them with Citadel’s Retributor Armour, and treat them more like terrain. Primer and base coat in one, with just a handful of details to pick out after that. Boom.
  • Custodes should play quite differently than either of my other two armies.
  • They should also look different from my Angels, even though they might wind up gold/red. I’m basing them on Stirland Mud, and the studio recipe for their gold is slightly different.
  • I can also paint them as being clean and perfect, a marked shift from my Orks — which have a whole bunch of steps after I’d normally be done with a Blood Angel (checks, weathering, etc.).
  • Hell, I can probably even fit them in my existing overflow storage without needing to buy more cases. (And even then, they need one case at most!)

I also considered Grey Knights, who can rival the Custodes in the low model count category — and take Terminators, my favorite 40k unit, as troops (yes, I knocked together a 100% Terminator list just to see what it might be like). Ditto Harlequins, who have fascinated me since high school, but I was surprised to find that they’re not nearly as elite and actually need a fair number of bodies on the field. And I’d previously thought about Necrons and Death Guard, too. But none of them ticked as many boxes, nor felt as right, as Custodes.

At my fevered 2020 summer/fall pace, I could paint this entire 2,000-point army in 6-8 weeks. Now, something more like 4 months is probably reasonable. If I keep slow-rolling it, maybe 5-6 months?

I still don’t know if it’s “cuss-toe-dees” (my brain’s default pronunciation), “cuss-toe-dess,” or “cuss-toads,” but I do know that this is about half of my entire army:

Given that I’m currently working on Orks, where I’ve painted dozens of minis and barely hit 500 points, this is going to be a refreshing change

Dread Host

I’m drawn to the Shadowkeepers based on their lore, and they do also look cool — but I want gold Custodes. As with Marines and Orks, it seems silly to go the custom route and lose access to rules for the canon shield companies (the five in the Codex), and not at all sporting to choose a custom color scheme and pick the best rules that week.

Setting Shadowkeepers to one side, I find myself drawn to the Dread Host — the Custodes who will smash your whole planet just to show the other planets what’s what. And I dig their color scheme, which uses black pauldrons, white leather bits, and blue gems. Even if I go with red plumes, they’re not going to be confused with Blood Angels.

As is traditional, I’ve kicked things off by building my first Custodian to mark the official start of my army: Inkaef, Custodian Guard of the Dread Host shield company. (For BA it was Sergeant Karios; for Orks, Moonkrumpa . . . who I tweaked and rebuilt like four times.)

Inkaef, my first Custodian

I was tempted to lean into the whole pronunciation thing — and gently deflate the over-the-top bombast of the Custodes — and name the members of my custard shield company using Latin words for food: Shield-Captain Prandium (breakfast), Warden Bubulae (beef), Vexilus Praetor Capsicum Anuum (potato), Custodian Acetaria (salad). But that’s not me; I like the pretentiousness of the Custodes, who make the Astartes look like bastions of modesty, and I generally take my names seriously.

With so many Renaissance Italian, Latin, and Greek names in my Blood Angels army, I want to avoid the obvious choice — Roman names — for my Custodes. Since they’re drawn from the ranks of all the myriad noble houses of Terra, why should they all have similar names? My plan is to name every model (unlike my other armies, where I only name the characters, squad leaders, and vehicles), but beyond that I’m not sure how or if I’ll theme their names. (Inkaef was a 4th dynasty Egyptian prince.)

In any case: Onwards, custard legion!

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Deathskulls Orks Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Mukkit’s Murda Mob: now a full complement of 3 Killa Kans

I started Killa Kans two and three — Stikkit and Skraggit — back in April, and finished them up on Thursday night. They join Mukkit, my final mini of 2020, to form Mukkit’s Murda Mob, which bring my Deathskulls army up to 591 points.

The Killa Kans kit is incredible — just absolutely packed with modularity and personality — and I had a great time with these two (as I did with my first Kan).

Waaagh!

Since I have a better lightbox now, I figured I’d roll Mukkit in as well and have the whole gang in one photoshoot.

Here’s the whole mob, at what I hope are their golden angles:

Mukkit’s Murda mob, L to R: Stikkit, Mukkit, Skraggit

I crossed my fingers when I painted each Kan a different shade of blue, but now that they’re all in one place I like that effect. In combination with my other units, it looks suitably hodgepodge for Orks.

And here’s each Kan individually:

Mukkit
Skraggit
Stikkit

…And then shots of the whole mob from all four sides.

Head-on
Left side
Rear view
Right side

The space-snail Skraggit is about to stomp on is from an Age of Sigmar kit, the Squig Herd. Wanting to use him prompted me to pose Skraggit mid-stomp, creating Skraggit as a character at the same time. Here’s his close-up:

Squeesh

I made a little slimy trail for him by forming a shallow trough in the texture paint, applying extra Agrax Earthshade to that area, and then skipping it when I drybrushed the rest of the base. It shows up best from above:

Slimy

Next up is my Oldhammer project: 10 vintage ’80s/’90s metal Boyz, include 2/3 of the Goffik Rok band, with a little light kitbashing to bring all their wargear up to a reasonable WYSIWYG standard for 9th Edition. Too rowdy to be led by a Boss Nob, they’re oldsters who don’t play by the rules — and love to play their looted ‘oomie instruments. Their draft name is Deff Metal Mayhem.

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Deathskulls Orks Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Putting my finished Taurox Trukk conversion in the new lightbox

I finished my Trukk! I built Da Fancy Wun back in February, and worked on lots of other stuff at the same time (painted 11 Boyz, built two Kans and a Dread, converted my Warboss)…but it still feels like I’ve been working on this Trukk forever. Back of the napkin, I’d say it took me somewhere between 35 and 45 hours from sprue to varnished and ready for the table.

This is the final post in a five-post series documenting this Trukk. Assembly is in part one and part two, the color guide is in part three, and a few WIP shots are in part four.

Many thanks again to Hobbyistgirl for her conversion (build process and painted Trukk), which was my inspiration to try this and my guide for large portions of the assembly process. Her Trukk is awesome!

Regular readers might notice that there’s no shot of Da Fancy Wun in casual light. That’s because I got a new lightbox (full rundown later in the post), and can now take photos good enough that they abrogate the need for a casual shot.

Da Fancy Wun, my converted Taurox Prime/Trukk, at its golden angle
Front view
Left side
Rear view
Right side
Top view

The Emperor’s eye grows larger

After a year-plus of steady painting, and some struggles with my first lightbox — notably taking photos without the lower half of each mini in shadow, and straining to squeeze full 10-model squads into it — I decided it was time to upgrade. I went from 12″x12″x12″ to 16″x16″x16″, which doesn’t sound like a big jump but is actually so large that I’m very glad it folds up nicely, and from one fixed ring of lights in the top to two repositionable light bars.

This FOSITAN lightbox (paid link) cost about $60 (three times what my smaller DUCLUS box cost), and it’s totally worth it.

Every interior surface is shiny silver, but dimpled so that it provides reflectivity without hotspots. You can shoot from the front or top, and the two light bars can clip onto the edges in either shooting configuration. Those bars also tilt, and if you want to diffuse the light when shooting from above there’s a translucent white square (with a hole in the middle) you can add between the bars and the object you’re photographing.

Unlike the DUCLUS, it doesn’t offer multiple color temperatures — but it does offer a lovely neutral white, and that was the only temperature I used on the old box anyway. The bars are dimmable and it includes several rather nice plastic backdrops; after a few test shots, I’m currently using the lowest setting and the grey backdrop.

I couldn’t resist reshooting Thragg’s Deff Lads, who I felt got especially short shrift in their lightbox session, along with a mixed-unit group.

Thragg’s Deff Ladz
Da Fancy Wun, the Deff Dread “Facepeela,” a boy from Thragg’s Deff Lads (left), a Boy from Skrudd’s Krumpas (rear), and one of Runt-eata’s Grots (right)

The only problem is that now I want to reshoot every lightbox photo I’ve taken, and that doesn’t sound like fun just now. So I probably won’t! But I’m going to enjoy better lightbox pics going forwards.

Da Fancy Wun brings me to a pretty respectable 476 points (9th Edition rules), with 35 models painted (32 infantry, 3 vehicles). Next up is probably two more Killa Kans.

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Deathskulls Orks Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Ripfist, Skraggit, Stikkit, smoother magnetization, endlessly kitbashing Moonkrumpa

I’ve learned some lessons about drilling, magnetization, and efficient assembly over the past 14 months, and I applied all of them to “Ripfist” Gorg, my second Deff Dread for Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas.

Had I done things this way with “Facepeela,” his build would have gone much more smoothly!

Ripfist the Deff Dread and the two Killa Kans I just finished building, Stikkit (center) and Skraggit (left, about to stomp on an adorable monster snail from the AoS Squig Herd kit)

Drill bullet holes before assembly

Yeah, it works fine afterwards — but doing it first allows me to exert as much force as I like on the piece, while holding it wherever I like, without worrying about breaking an assembled miniature.

Magnetize before assembly, too

Soooo much easier this way! It involves drilling, so the above applies here as well. But working with a single loose piece also means less stuff I might accidentally glue together — and I can clean up the inside of the holes before putting the model together. My first Deff Dread, Facepeela, still has a couple shavings rattling around inside his body.

Ensure cross-compatibility

The whole point of magnetizing my two Deff Dreads (two…so far!) is to enable weapon-swapping one each model, but by matching polarities on both models I can also freely mix and match between them. While building Ripfist, I carefully checked (and re-checked, and re-re-checked, and re-re-re-checked) each magnet against Facepeela and the component of Ripfist that I was magnetizing.

I also paid attention to what went where. So Facepeela has his KMB on the right and Ripfist has his on the left. If I want one of them to have two KMBs, they’re both ready to accept that swap.

Facepeela (painted) and Ripfist’s pieces, ready to check magnet compatibility and get underway (and one of my busiest work area pics to date!)

Trim, clean up, glue

With larger models, I’m in the habit of clipping pieces off the sprue, tidying them up, gluing them, and then starting on the next section while the first section dries. But with the two Killa Kans I just built, I tried clipping 100% of the parts, then sanding/filing 100% of the parts, then gluing the model all at once — and dang, but that’s both easier and more fun!

Ripfist trimmed, sanded, and ready for section-by-section assembly

Moonkrumpa: never actually finished

It’s becoming a bit of a running personal joke that I’m constantly tinkering with Moonkrumpa. This time around the impetus was building the other Warboss in my army, “Bigtoof” Skragga (to get a Morkanaut into my list, I needed two detachments), and this incredible, dynamic sculpt screams Warboss in a way that Moonkrumpa doesn’t.

Even with Moonkrumpa 3.0’s height, banner poles, looted wargear, bulk, and customized base, it isn’t immediately clear at a glance which of the two is my Warlord. Based on an idea I saw on Reddit, I starting tinkering with him again.

Bigtoof (left) and Moonkrumpa (right)

Having done more kitbashing — and a full-fledged conversion — since I first built Moonkrumpa, I’m a bit more confident about it now. My bits box has more stuff in it, too.

This kitbash does mark the first time I’ve significantly altered the silhouette of the original model, and you could certainly argue that I’ve strayed from WYSIWYG wargear by adding a second claw — and I’m not sure how I feel about that! The original Big Mek in Mega Armour mini is bulky, but doesn’t have a huge “wingspan,” whereas — by design — my version sprawls to the top, front, and sides.

It’s not “suddenly, he’s Ghazghkull,” though, and it feels consistent with a rule of thumb I saw on Reddit: Your Warboss should be the largest infantry model in your army. To boot, I can always take the stratagem Da Biggest Boss for 1 CP (making him literally a bigger boss), or give him Super Cybork Body to represent the Killa Kan arm in game terms.

More importantly, it’s a fun kitbash, it brings me joy, and it’s exactly what the Mek leader of a Mek-driven Waaagh! should have going on.

Moonkrumpa 4.0

Now there’s no mistaking who’s in charge here:

Moonkrumpa (left) and Bigtoof (right)

As I was wrapping up this revision and re-kitbash, I looked at the time and realized that I’d been at it for five hours! But I couldn’t have done it all up front, when I first built Moonkrumpa, because I didn’t know as much about Orks, my army, or kitbashing when I started this army. Even though it’s meant more work modifying him after the fact, it’s been a fun process.

Hulking update!

My bonsai tree, Hulking, dropped a few leaves during his first couple of days with me — which Alysia said was probably just because he was adjusting to the new environment. She was right. After a little adjustment period, not only is Hulkling not dead, he seems to be thriving.

A freshly watered Hulkling

I’ve had to prune new shoots several times, and more are always popping up. I’ve got a little routine for where to place him during the day for the right amount of sunshine, including rotating which side faces the window, and he seems quite content.

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Deathskulls Orks Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Da Fancy Wun, my Taurox Trukk conversion

I finished Da Fancy Wun last night, so while the varnish is curing I figured I’d post the WIP photos I took along the way.

This is the final post in a five-post series documenting this Trukk. Assembly is in part one and part two, the color guide is in part three, and the finished product is in part five.

Bottoms of wheels base-coated, shaded, and varnished (so the paint won’t rub off the spikes while I work on the rest)
Clown car aesthetic coming together
The Squig is probably my favorite part of this Trukk
Fully base-coated, waiting for touch-ups (with my amateur green stuff kintsugi on the mug in the background)
Touched-up and ready for shading
With vehicles, I always start with the underside

There are three great milestones in any miniature-painter’s life: drinking your brush-rinsing water (I haven’t done this, but I’ve come closer than I’d like), shaking an open pot of paint (check!), and spilling an entire bottle of Citadel shade paint.

Inky ghost says hi
This was the point where I worried I’d gone too dark with my shading
Fully shaded, starting in on highlights

Overall I’m pretty happy with how Da Fancy Wun turned out. There are things I’d do differently on my next Trukk, but that’s always the case. I’m looking forward to getting it into my new, larger lightbox to see what it looks like up close.

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Deathskulls Orks Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Converted Taurox Trukk color guide

This Trukk — Da Fancy Wun — is an experiment in more than one way (it’s my first conversion!), and on the color front I’m trying two things: four recipes for blue on the same model (Trukk parts, Taurox body, the gunner’s armor bits, and the signature blue fender and gunner’s war paint); and splashes of colors that are uncommon or unseen in the rest of my army (so far), like gold and dark red, for a bit of a “rusty, ramshackle clown car” aesthetic.

This is the third post in a five-post series documenting this Trukk. Assembly is in part one and part two, a few WIP shots are in part four, and the finished product is in part five.

Da Fancy Wun fully base-coated and touched up, waiting for shading (March 2021)

I’ve pulled the Taurox Prime recipes straight from GW, twiddled a bit; most of the others are from GW’s site or White Dwarf. As always, shades/washes are in italics.

Worth noting: I painted, washed, and sealed the metal and rubber on the very bottom of all six tires (and let the sealant fully cure) before working on the rest of the Trukk, so as to avoid rubbing off the paint every time I set it down. This proved to be a good idea — and I wish I’d done the whole tire, not just the bottom, because I rubbed all the paint off many of the rivets on the tires over the course of painting the rest of the model.

Also worth noting: I highlighted the rubber portions of the tires before deciding how to weather them, and the weathering approach I chose basically erased all of those highlights. A step to skip next time!

  • Taurox body: Russ Grey > Agrax Earthshade > Thunderhawk Blue > Fenrisian Grey
  • Taurox gold: Retributor Armour > Agrax Earthshade > Gehenna’s Gold > Auric Armour Gold
  • Taurox red panels: Khorne Red > Agrax Earthshade > Wazdakka Red > Squig Orange
  • Trukk parts blue: Macragge Blue > Agrax Earthshade > Calgar Blue > Fenrisian Grey
  • Trukk tire rubber: Abaddon Black > Skavenblight Dinge > Stormvermin Fur
  • Trademark blue fender: Caledor Sky > Drakenhof Nightshade > Teclis Blue > Lothern Blue
  • Metal: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Ironbreaker
  • Brass/bronze: Warplock Bronze > Agrax Earthshade > Brass Scorpion
  • White glyphs/decorations: Celestra Grey > Agrax Earthshade > Ulthuan Grey > White Scar
  • Ork gunner: From my Boyz color guide, skin #6 (Caliban Green base), blue #3 (Thousand Suns Blue base), black pants, brown shirt, and Zandri teeth/nails.
  • Squig skin and NOS tanks: Mephiston Red > Carroburg Crimson > Evil Sunz Scarlet > Wild Rider Red
  • Squig eyes: Averland Sunset > incidental but helpful Carroburg Crimson wash when I do the face > Yriel Yellow
  • Squig teeth and nails: Zandri Dust > Seraphim Sepia > Ushabti Bone > Screaming Skull
  • Squig gums: Screamer Pink > Carroburg Crimson > Pink Horror > Emperor’s Children
  • Fuel tank: Averland Sunset > Agrax Earthshade > Yriel Yellow
  • Headlights: Moot Green or Averland Sunset > Agrax Earthshade > Moot Green or Yriel Yellow
  • Roll bar wraps: Zandri Dust > Seraphim Sepia > Ushabti Bone > Screaming Skull
  • Severed head flesh: Rakarth Flesh > Druchii Violet > Pallid Wych Flesh > White Scar
  • Severed head hair: Dryad Bark > Agrax Earthshade > Gorthor Brown > Baneblade Brown
  • Weathering and embellishments: These steps all happen after the rest of the mini is 100% done (including highlights); not every Ork uses all of them:
    • Checks: Macragge Blue and Corax White; I wrote a little guide for these
    • Chipping: Apply dots of Leadbelcher on the high points, edges, and surfaces where paint would naturally have been worn off
    • Battle-damaged edges: Tiny dot/line of Rhinox Hide > mirror the same shape with a line underneath it of whatever blue base coat I used for that area (Warhammer TV reference video)
    • Bullet holes: Highlight the edges of the hole in the appropriate color (e.g. Calgar Blue), then apply Leadbelcher to make it look like the paint was blown away
    • Built-up rust In spots where it can accumulate over a long period, such as on and around bolts, apply thinned-down Skrag Brown
    • Rusty streaks: Thinned-down Skrag Brown > thinned-down Fire Dragon Bright (like I do on my 40k terrain)
    • Verdigris: Nihilakh Oxide
    • Grime: Sponge on Rhinox Hide
    • Caked-on grime: Typhus Corrosion
    • Dusty, dirty tires: Thinned-down 50/50 Dryad Bark/Zandri Dust > thinned-down Baneblade Brown in the deep crevices > Tyrant Skull drybrush > Seraphim Sepia pin wash to reestablish the crevices (I followed this Way of the Brush tutorial, but modified it based on my colors on hand and used water instead of Lahmian Medium; this approach isn’t ideal for the metal/rubber combo tires on the Trukk, though)

I have to varnish Da Fancy Wun in two stages — tires and undercarriage first, curing for 24-48 hours upside down, and then the rest — so it’s going to be a few days until I can get it into my (new!) lightbox for some photos. It’s been a fun ride!

Categories
Deathskulls Orks Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

At long last, Thragg’s Deff Ladz! Plus six variations on Ork skin

I built the first of Thragg’s Deff Ladz (my second mob of Boyz for my Deathskulls Ork army, Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas) on January 17th, and have chipped away at them slowly but surely for the past two months. Since I’ve mostly painted rank-and-file Orks so far, this 98-point unit brings me up to 356/2,000 points and 34 finished models.

Back in February, after I abandoned the notion that I was going to paint these lads in two batches; painting 11 minis at once kind of bogs me down, but I can’t argue with the logic of it

I’m not painting at the same pace in 2021 that I did in 2020. And that’s okay! Even if I only do 5-10 minutes in a given day, my hobby streak remains unbroken (today is day 387) and those few minutes are still more than the zero minutes I was putting in for many, many years.

Part of it is that after a year in isolation, the prospect of actually playing 40k still seems like it’s probably 8-12 months away. I’m still enjoying miniature painting as a hobby, but now I have one finished 2,000-point army — the goal of finishing a second feels less urgent. So I’m taking it easy, not gunning the engine and risking burnout.

Along the way, I also picked up a second paint rack. My whole paint library is now accessible, with room to spare. I’m an organized person, by and large, and this appeals to me greatly!

Man, I picked a weird-ass angle for this shot

Anyhoo, time for some Boyz! Let’s fire up the ol’ lightbox.

Get stuck in, you gits!

Thragg is in the center; my favorite in the mob is on the far right, biting that Space Marine dagger blade-in because Orks are not so bright
Rear view of the first five
The second batch; I also like the rightmost mini a lot
Rear view of the back six

And as always, a casual shot (a mix of natural and artificial light):

All 11 of Thragg’s Deff Ladz

Ork skin tones

With Thragg’s Deff Ladz complete, I’ve now used all six skin tone recipes that are currently in my main Ork color guide (plus 3/5 of the recipes I use for Deathskulls blue, and both of my teeth/nails options). The Ladz are a mix of two quite different schemes, one based on Castellan Green and the other on Caliban Green. I love the Caliban version; they start out super-dark green (with a black wash) and highlight up to a very cartoony look.

Now that I’ve tried them all, I took four photos showing each of the six colors, all in the same order (which is the order in which they currently appear in my color guide). So in terms of base paint > shade paint, that’s:

  1. Waaagh! Flesh > Biel-Tan Green
  2. Waaagh! Flesh > Athonian Camoshade
  3. Deathworld Forest > Athonian Camoshade
  4. Deathworld Forest > Biel-Tan Green
  5. Castellan Green > Athonian Camoshade
  6. Caliban Green > Nuln Oil
It took some doing to find one of each with no war paint on their left arms!
Same models, but in a full-body view
And again, but this time in a casual shot with different lighting
Same lighting, full-body view

Recipes 1 and 2 are almost identical to one another; ditto with 3 and 4; really, I have four major recipes with two variations. The variations only differ in which shade paint is used, and unless they’re side by side and you know to look for it that difference is hard to spot. But I like variety in my motley crew, and even just counting the four “main” recipes I’ve got quite a bit of it in my army (all tied together, I hope, by their shared palette of secondary colors and especially by their war paint).

Similarly, my blue recipe built on Kantor Blue is quite similar to the default Macragge Blue version (at least the way I wash and highlight them). But Thousand Suns Blue makes for a vibrant and quite distinctive finished product; I really like that one.

Next up is Da Fancy Wun, my Taurox/Trukk conversion, which is currently primed, partially painted, and waiting for the sealant on the bottom-most wheel spikes to cure.

Categories
Deathskulls Orks Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

First finished mini of 2021: Facepeela, Ork Deff Dread

My first mini of the new year (although, having been completed on January 23rd, “new” is a bit of a stretch) is my first Deff Dread, “Facepeela” Snarg. Facepeela is also the first model I’ve ever magnetized, a process that was not without its problems…leading to this also being the first model I’ve ever done that incorporates green stuff (Kneadatite).

Facepeela brings my Waaagh! up to 308 points. Still a ways to go!

I heart big and stompy

“Facepeela” Snarg’s Golden angle
Front view
Left side
Rear view
Right side

I also experimented with using mostly natural light (no lightbox) and just a piece of printer paper as a backdrop. It’s more, well, natural than the lightbox, but I don’t think I have this technique quite figured out yet. Here’s Facepeela’s golden angle shot that way:

Golden angle, mostly natural light, piece of paper as a backdrop

This kit was fun to build and paint, validating my choice to make my first Ork army list about 50% vehicles — including a second Deff Dread, three Killa Kans, and a Morkanaut. Not too surprising, as it’s basically a super-sized Killa Kan — and that’s one of my favorite 40k kits I’ve ever built.

Just for fun, here he is alongside a sampling of the Orks I’ve painted so far:

Facepeela, Mukkit, and a few of Skrudd’s Krumpas and Runt-Eata’s Grots

Green stuff for a green lad

The necessity for green stuff came about when, as I was working on highlights, I noticed that the secure position for his lower saw arm — the position in which it stayed in place the best, resisting drooping — only worked because the arm was braced against the socket, scraping paint off the edge every time I snapped it in place. I tried Blu-Tack, and that was fine, but I didn’t like the idea of leaving a blob of it on there forever.

Blithely assuming that green stuff was just easily-moldable putty that would dry into something about as hard as plastic, I decided to go that route instead.

Turns out, green stuff is incredibly sticky, not terribly easy to work with, and dries semi-soft. But it did the job better than Blu-Tack, as it’s hard enough to stay in place and can be primed/painted/varnished. I didn’t take any pictures of that process (because it was pretty frustrating), but it was basically: apply green stuff in a blob much larger than needed, just in case; let it cure overnight; trim it to fit with a hobby knife, slowly, testing the fit with every trim; prime and paint normally; two coats of varnish (and two in the socket, too).

My second Dread isn’t using this arm, so I might build the arm again, drill it better this time around, and replace the one currently on Facepeela. Or not! It works, and unless you’re looking for it the ugly blob of green stuff isn’t noticeable.

Deff Dread color guide

My Deff Dread’s base includes one bit not found on my usual list. Color-wise, apart from that, it’s just a bigger Killa Kan.

  • Demon skull horns: Zandri Dust > Seraphim Sepia > Ushabti Bone drybrush

I like Facepeela’s static, menacing pose, but I don’t want two of it; my second Deff Dread will probably be posed raising one leg, about to gleefully stomp on something. Not sure what, but maybe a grot. We shall see!