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
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:
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:
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.
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!
I’ve been chipping away at some stuff, recovering from my sprint to wrap up my Killa Kan by the end of 2020.
Remember when I said version 3.0 of my Warlord, Moonkrumpa, was his final form? I was wrong!
I realized how off it felt to have the leader of an army of Orks with expressive, fun-to-paint faces be wearing a mask. Since I had a second Meganobz kit on hand (if you build a Big Mek, the two remaining Meganobz don’t comprise a valid 40k unit…), I popped his head off and replaced it with the unmasked version. This might actually be the end of the road, since I primed him shortly after taking that photo.
I’ve also been building the biggest 40k thing I’ve ever built, the Sanctum Administratus.
This thing is massive. The bottom level is something like 8″x8″, and it’ll be around a foot tall when I have the next two levels on there. The multipart walls are a bit fussy, but I thought about it and decided to build the whole level in a rush so I’d theoretically have time to adjust before it all dried. That worked pretty well, although I did leave run of the floor/ceiling about 1mm too high.
Working on this piece prompted me to think about how much more terrain I might need, so I did some digging. After reading (and re-reading) lots of contradictory advice, some of it based on previous editions, it hit me that I could just read the rules and see what they said about terrain. As it turns out, what they say is that I already have almost enough terrain for a 44″x60″ Strike Force board.
All that puzzling-things-out resulted in a major update to my 40k terrain page, which now links to finished scenery and lists all of my pieces in ways that should be helpful when deciding how to lay them out for play. I think I really just need one more large terrain piece, ideally one that ties the Manufactorum and Mechanicus elements I already have together, to have a pretty solid Strike Force set (less the additional boards, which I still need to buy).
Speaking of terrain, I stumbled across a post by GW terrain designer Ray Dranfield on Twitter in which he suggested not gluing the second story of your buildings because the Sector Imperialis pieces are designed to be swappable, and I had a thought:
I’ll be damned! Fits like a glove. The interior floors look totally different, but the column spacing is identical and the Imperialis column tops and Manufactorum column bottoms are grooved to mate perfectly. This particular pairing doesn’t make a lot of sense (there’s a door to nowhere on the second floor…), but I’ve got some other Manufactorum pieces that would look right at home up there.
Of course, the second thing I thought of was dropping in a few magnets for added stability…
In 2020, I became a miniature-painter. Prior to February, I was a guy who sometimes painted miniatures and generally didn’t especially enjoy it. But this year I painted more minis than I had in my 30+ years of sporadic painting prior to 2020 — almost twice as many, in fact. So I’m still a beginner, in many (many!) ways, but not quite as a green as I was before.
Before I get into stats and silly stuff I kept track of, though, I want to pause to write about the pandemic.
Yore isn’t a news or current events blog (there are many better places to go for that sort of info and content), so I haven’t really blogged about the Covid-19 pandemic. This is one of my refuges, and I hope that perhaps it’s been one of yours.
The toll this virus has taken is staggering: over 340,000 dead in the US alone. More than 418,000 Americans died in World War II; that we’re likely to match that total before herd immunity is reached, and with so many of these deaths being preventable, is heartbreaking.
If you’ve lost someone this year, my heart goes out to you. I can’t imagine what that must be like, in the midst of all of this. If you’ve lost your job, your peace of mind, or any measure of stability, I am so sorry for that loss. Whoever you are, reading this right now, I hope things improve for you and yours.
Miniatures by the numbers
In 2020 I finished painting the following models (I’m not counting assembled, primed, or partially painted minis — just varnished and ready for play):
A full quarter of my output was in December, when I set a personal record: 26 miniatures in one month. I know that’s small potatoes for dedicated hobbyists, but it’s a lot for me!
My overall favorite miniature that I painted in 2020 is also my last one of the year: Mukkit, my first Killa Kan. It’s not just recency bias, either; I poured everything I’ve learned about painting into this guy.
I got out the first miniature I finished in 2020, Brother Scipio from Space Hulk (2/27), and threw them in the lightbox together for a first/last comparison shot:
My MVP brush for the year, the Citadel S Layer — which I bought before learning that animal-hair brushes were a thing — finally died at the end of December. I replaced it with a Princeton Velvetouch size 0 Round, an excellent synthetic brush with similar characteristics. This size has become my workhorse, handling everything from edge highlights to base-coating details to eyes.
I learned a lot about painting this year. I still have a lot to learn, and a lot to continue improving upon. Painting was a real source of joy for me in 2020. Capturing that joy and that learning process here, and hopefully in ways that might be useful to other painters, has been a lot of fun as well.
I like tracking stuff
A few other stats I’ve kept track of:
Hobby streak: From the day I started painting again to the end of the year, I maintained an unbroken hobby streak of 314 days. Doing at least a little bit of assembly/priming/painting every day played a huge role in keeping me motivated and moving, and in getting this many minis done.
Hand-washing: Since mid-March, I’ve recited my Covid-19 hand-washing mantra — the opening narration for Star Trek: The Next Generation — approximately 950 times. (I don’t, like, log this or anything; I’m backing into my total based on an average of 3x a day since March 12, when we went into isolation.)
Audiobooks: Having gotten into audiobooks at the same time as 40k, and explicitly as an accompaniment to painting, I listened to 15 excellent 40k books this year (almost all of them by my favorite author/narrator pairing, Dan Abnett and Toby Longworth). Favorite titles include Ravenor (Ravenor v.1), Necropolis (Gaunt’s Ghosts v.3), and Brothers of the Snake.
Movies: I watched 183 movies, 44 of which were 2020 releases. Birds of Prey was my favorite 2020 film, and the last thing I saw in the theater; I hit four viewings by year’s end. (I log and comment on every movie I’ve seen on Letterboxd.)
Music: I listened to 52 hours of music, all on Spotify; genre-wise, hip-hop and electronica were my top two. My favorite 2020 releases were Birds of Prey: The Album (various artists), HOUSE OF ZEF (Die Antwoord), and BE (BTS), and dang if that isn’t a decent snapshot of my musical tastes.
RPGs: I played 87 RPG sessions, 27 of which were solo. I only played one 2020 release, Brindlewood Bay; it’s a hoot. Unusually, it’s the first game I can remember that both of my groups are playing at the same time.
Blogging: I wrote 166 blog posts, about 40% of my total output here on Yore since 2012. 2020 also marks the year when Yore crossed the tipping point from being primarily about tabletop RPGs (166 posts as of December 8) to being primarily about minis and my hobby journey (the 167th minis post was on December 8).
Here’s to 2021
While I doubt we’ll get “back to normal” in 2021, I think things will start to look up in the spring and summer, and playing 40k seems like it could happen next winter. (I’m last in line for the vaccine, as I should be, and my family’s bubble, distancing, mask usage, and other precautions don’t seem likely to change for months.) But there’s ample reason to hope for a better year, and hope for it I do!
With an hour to spare, I finished a wild push — a week worth of painting in about two days — and wrapped up my final miniature of 2020: Mukkit, one of the Killa Kans in my Deathskulls Ork army.
This is the best miniature I’ve ever painted. It incorporates everything I’ve learned this year, plus a couple of techniques I haven’t tried before, and it features the best highlights I’ve ever done. (I’m not saying it’s amazing, just frankly assessing it against my output to date.)
Light it up like dynamite
I listened to so much BTS in November and December, often while painting, that it’s only appropriate to lead with a BTS lyric (from “Dynamite” on their album BE).
Plus a casual shot for good measure:
Orks being Orks, the 22 minis I’ve painted so far bring me to a whopping…208 points. Down the road, when I paint my Morkanaut, I’ll get to experience a massive completion bump (+340 points, if memory serves).
WIP it good
I don’t usually combine posts for finished minis with WIP photos, but for Mukkit I did a sort of time lapse — and it turned out to be the clearest and most complete set of photos of my process that I’ve done so far. Mukkit was a genuine sprint, although I didn’t speed-paint him; I just did more painting in fewer days than normal.
I primed Mukkit on 12/28 and started painting him in earnest on the 29th. I wanted to book him by the end of the year, and it seemed doable.
This was my first time painting a larger unit with Citadel’s XL handle (which I just got recently), and it’s night and day compared to holding the base. I can’t believe I waited this long!
In hindsight, the moment I decided to commit to using thinner lines for my edge highlights heralded a sea change. Now that I know I can paint more delicate highlights, and can see the direct line of improvement from the start of the year to the end, I suspect I’m going to use more thin lines in the future.
Just imagine a photo of my weathering steps here, because I forgot to take one.
The lighter blue I used for Mukkit’s Klaw — as part of my unifying theme of every model in this army having one blue hand — doesn’t look as different from the other blue parts as I’d hoped, but it is a bit clearer in person.
The Killa Kan kit is amazing. Every part is swappable between Kans, and many parts are shared with the Deff Dread kit, adding even more customizability. There’s a ton of room to add personality in the assembly stage — and the painting stage is just as fun. These models are silly and dark in just the right measure and mixture, and they’re one of my favorite 40k kits.
Up next is probably one of the two Deff Dreads in my current list; I’ve got a three-armed big dude on my desk, mostly still on the sprue. With three Kans, two Dreads, and a Morkanaut (plus “Ork Terminators,” the Meganobz and Big Mek in Mega Armour), this army is full of what I love: big stompy things.
Misc. wires, lenses, etc.: These are a mix of Averland Sunset, Mephiston Red, Moot Green, and Abaddon Black > Agrax Earthshade > highlighted accordingly with Yriel Yellow, Evil Sunz Scarlet, Moot Green, and Eshin Grey; then add dots of White Scar to the lenses
Weathering and embellishments: These steps all happen after the rest of the mini is 100% done (including highlights); not every Kan uses all of them:
Checks: Macragge Blue and Corax White; I wrote a little guide for these
Battle damage: Pick and choose among these options:
Edges: Tiny dot/line of Rhinox Hide > mirror the same shape with a line underneath it of Calgar Blue/Caledor Sky depending on the Deathskulls Blue I chose (Warhammer TV reference video)
Bullet holes: Some of the Kan parts come with bullet holes in them; 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
Dirty chipped edges: Sponge the edge with Rhinox Hide > extremely lightly, and using a long segment of sponge, apply Leadbelcher to the same edge; don’t overdo it or it’ll look like you shat glitter all over the model (see the second segment in this WHTV video, or this one around 11 minutes in)
Scratches down to bare metal: Line of Abaddon Black > thin line of Leadbelcher partly overlapping it but also underneath it (Brush & Boltgun tutorial)
Built-up rust: In spots where it can accumulate over a long period, such as on and around bolts, apply thinned-down Skrag Brown
Verdigris: Nihilakh Oxide
Grime: Sponge on Rhinox Hide (I mainly do this on blocks of white and portions of the feet)
Caked-on grime: Typhus Corrosion, in moderation, along areas of the feet
On my first Kan, Mukkit, I did dirty metal (Leadbelcher/Agrax) everywhere except the weapon arms and the viewport panel, and plain metal (Leadbelcher/Nuln) on those. I thought that might be a fun effect, as the “working” areas of the Kan would be dirtier in real life, but after all the finishing and weathering steps it’s pretty hard to spot unless you’re looking for it.
Like everything else about Killa Kans, painting them is a hoot. This is one of my favorite 40k kits I’ve built so far.
I wound up working on a box of Gretchin at the same time as five Boyz (not my usual approach; it’s too many at once!), so they got wrapped up on 12/27 as well.
Do Gretchin know they’re adorable?
Like the Orks I painted at the same time, these Grots use three different skin recipes (1, 2, and 3 on my current list). I can’t wait to see how this approach looks across a larger force.
I love these models, and they’re quick to paint up. Every step feels like it takes about half as long as an Ork Boy, so a box of 10 (excluding the Runtherd) takes about as long as a unit of 5 Orks; that makes doing 10 at a time pretty manageable.
With these 10 Grots plus 3 small terrain pieces and 11 Orks, December’s tally of 24 models is my new record. I think 16 was my previous record, and the Grots being so small helps a lot here. (And who knows, I might sneak in one more terrain piece this year; I have one that’s pretty close to done.)
Having made the questionable choice to work on the “back five” of Skrudd’s Krumpas at the same time as an entire unit of Gretchin, 12/27 was a record day for me. (The Grots have their own post, just to keep things organized.)
Wot’s dat funny light?
First, the new five on their own:
And then the whole mob, including Skrudd and the five I painted up earlier this month.
There are three skin recipes in this mix (1, 2, and 3 on my current list of Ork recipes. My hope is that sticking to a single recipe for war paint, which every model in Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas wears, will unify the larger army.
I overcooked the weathering on a few bits on these guys, notably the checked shoulder pads. I wound up repainting those, which is never my first choice, but it was worth it. I’m pretty happy with them overall — I just need to remember to go easy on the grit and grime!
Orks are as fun to paint as I’d hoped. I enjoy having multiple recipes for their skin, Deathskulls blue, etc. — and the mix of skin tones works as well in practice as it did in my head. I’m not sure my attempts to punch these five up (more checks, more blue and white, more lighter-colored boots for contrast with the terrain, etc.) were as successful as I’d hoped, but it feels like I’m moving in the right direction.
Currently working on a few too many Boyz and Gretchin at once, so I’ve been taking breaks to do some assembly.
First up, a Killa Kan:
Mechanically, Killa Kan mobs don’t have a leader, so perhaps it’s more apt to say that Mukkit considers himself the leader.
I’ve heard these are terrible units, but damn this is an incredible kit. 100% of the parts are interchangeable, and they ooze character from every rivet. I was going for a sort of “Rarr! Mukkit stomp you!” pose, but wound up with more of a Macarena/posing for a tourist photo kind of deal…and I’m not even a little mad. Love this dude.
Alysia got me an Age of Sigmar Weirdnob Shaman for Christmas, so I spent a couple of pleasant hours today figuring out how to kitbash him into my Weirdboy.
On the AoS model, I test-fit the cape to see which of my arm swap ideas might work, and I trimmed off the smoke and shaved the spot under it flat. Everything else stayed.
I used the arm from the standalone Mek kit, which I snipped at the wrist; a standard from the Meganobz kit, which I stuck where the smoke used to be; two shoulder pads from the Boyz kit, which I used to camouflage the kludging I did around the smoke; and a jaw plate from the Nobz kit, which I used exactly as Gork (or is it Mork?) intended.
As befits a Deathskulls army in general and Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas in particular, “Warpmek” Nakk is both a Weirdboy and a Mek (achieved by taking Da Fixer Upperz for him).
Since I’d destroyed the Mek kit’s clamshell packaging to steal one of his arms, I decided to just slap him together as well.
Alysia also gave me a new paint storage solution, a nail polish rack that can swallow 100% of my current paint library. I believe it’s this model on Amazon (not a paid link), and as the reviews show it’s been battle-tested by fellow hobbyists. I can confirm that it does a bang-up job of holding Citadel paint pots.
I’ve seen folks organize their paints by color, but I alphabetized mine by type instead. I mainly follow GW recipes, so this makes the most sense for my approach. The top row is Technical paint and some non-paints (glue, etc.). The second row starts with shades/washes on the left and then jumps into base paints, which run another full row and the first couple slots of a third. After that come all of my layer paints.
I’ve mounted it with room for a second one, which I’ll need at some point. (I’m currently storing all my backup pots somewhere else.) I loved my previous paint storage solution, but my paint supply had outstripped its slots and I wanted to free up that corner of my desk.
Having started my paint collection back in February with the bare minimum I needed to do parade-ready Blood Angels, it feels funny to be actively using 85-90 paints now.
Happy holidays, merry Christmas, and I hope to be back in a few days with some finished Orks and Gretchin.
As I did with my Blood Angels army, I started Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas off with the backbone of any Waaagh!: some Ork Boyz. Six minis at once is about all I can handle, so I painted Boss Nob Skrudd and five of Skrudd’s Krumpas. I finished these Boyz on December 8th.
Krump dat lightbox
As an added bonus, my casual shots can now incorporate a play board and terrain!
The real Orks were the Orks we made along the way
On December 6, I retired my workhorse brush, which no longer has enough bristles to perform any meaningful service. It now rests in a place of honor, cradled in Wolverine’s arms atop the base of my painting lamp.
This brush is most likely seven years old, as I recall buying a pack of Armory brushes back in Utah when I needed to paint some Mercs minis in 2013. (If not, then it’s even older than that.) It’s served me well primarily as my paint-dipping brush, but it’s also done a ton of base-coating, painted the base edges on 50+ Blood Angels, been poked into crevices, and done every job a brush can do.
Before I lose track of it, I want to recap my half-assed method for quickly doing Ork checks. First I establish the grid using 2mm Tamiya hobby tape, and paint whatever’s showing Macragge Blue.
Then I peel away tape and hit either more Macragge Blue squares or the Corax White squares, whichever color is showing.
I don’t have a photo of step 3, but it’s just freehanding the missing squares once all the tape is gone. Every square gets two coats of paint.
A more time-consuming, and neater, approach would be to re-tape and only paint masked-off areas, but I discarded that as too fussy. A steadier hand than mine could use Warhammer TV’s approach, marking the edges of the grid with pencil, then filling in the lines, then painting those squares. But I need the steadying influence of the initial masking-off, and then of the “virtual” grid — and in any case I don’t see how pencil is going to show up on metal or black, which is what I checked here.
Step four is a thinned-down Agrax Earthshade wash, as recommended in White Dwarf #454 (don’t want those checks to be too clean!).
Reflections on painting my first Orks
It was a weird feeling hitting the point when a Blood Angel would have been done, ready for varnishing…and still having checks, rust, chipping, different rust, verdigris, and dirt/battle damage to go. On the one hand I’m setting myself up for work I could certainly get away without doing. On the other hand, I only need to paint them once but I have to look at them forever.
And, more importantly, all those extra steps were a lot of fun. They really only added a couple of hours, maybe three tops, to the finishing process (total, across all six Orks).
I learned a lot along the way, and I see plenty of room for improvement. Here’s what jumped out at me:
My freehand Krump glyphs are terrible, no surprise there; that skill will improve with practice.
I’m pretty happy with my checks; although they could be tidier, at the moment they feel the right amount of messy.
I exercised what I hope was the proper amount of restraint in weathering steps. I’ve seen plenty of Orks online that just disappear under chips and rust and clutter, no longer readable in the way I like my minis to be readable. I want green skin, blue war paint, blue gear, and checks to be what pops, not weathering (or the bases, or clothing).
War paint on arms feels like a struggle, but hands are pleasantly simple — and faces are surprisingly fun.
I love the signature that ties all of Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas together, the single hand painted blue. That felt right at the idea stage, and it feels right now that I’ve painted it on my first six Boyz.
Ditto the looted Space Marine wargear, although I’d like to branch out into other factions for variety.
I need to mix blue into my clothing options (and dirty white into my options for boots), and not hesitate to add more blue to my Orks in general. It’s their signature color, it pops — and since they feature lots of browns and their bases are brown, that pop is important. These first six could use more blue.
My initial 2,000-point list is still in draft form, but currently it only features 30 Boyz and 10 Gretchin. That feels light on Boyz for a horde army, but I’ve got so many Mek-y and Deathskulls-y units to fit in that I’m not sure how I could pack in more Boyz (and, after all, these aren’t the kings of the horde, the Goffs; they’re Deathskulls, the kings of Mek stuff). We shall see!
While puttering away at this terrain, I stumbled across a battle report in White Dwarf #456 which features this same Manufactorum line. The view from above, unlike the photos on GW’s website, finally showed me what was going on with the middle of each ruined floor: hazard stripes!
I laid down some 3mm Tamiya hobby tape and got to work.
After two thin coats of Averland Sunset, I peeled off the tape and drybrushed the entire floor with Celestra Grey (stripes included).
I didn’t worry too much about lining things up perfectly, or the difference between the “horizontal” and “vertical” portions (a natural consequence of my taping pattern). In the grim darkness of the far future, a Manufactorum would be a dreadful place — and an imperfect one.
When I started this terrain, I was listening to Dan Abnett’s Ravenor Returned, a portion of which takes place in an Administratum facility. Alongside the general impression of how miserable the place was, there was a bit where a character complains that his cart has a dodgy wheel — and his supervisor tells him that if he works hard for 10-12 years, he’ll merit a better cart.
That sequence colored my approach to this terrain, just as Brothers of the Snake (another excellent Abnett book) did with Squad Ariete. Those happy coincidences are one of the joys of listening to 40k books while I paint.