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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniature painting Miniatures Painting tools Space Hulk Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: splitting my time, first Blood Angels model

It hit me that when I finish my Space Hulk minis I might, in that happy glow of satisfaction at finally completing a task I began in 2009, stall out and loose my painting momentum. I decided to start a second parallel hobby track, assembling Blood Angels, so that when my Termies are done I’m already in the middle of my next project.

I kicked this hobby session off by getting these two Termies shaded, since washes take a bit of time to dry.

Noctis and Zael drying after being shaded

Then I broke out my Blood Angels Tactical Squad box, assembled all my Gunpla tools — plus my newly acquired Citadel Mouldline Remover (paid link). I’ve always struggled with mold lines, and this looked like a handy tool to have.

Excluding the hobby knife (I have a couple), my other tools are from this little kit I bought on Amazon (paid link). It’s been a great kit, and the files and buffing board are useful for minis. The only tool I don’t love is the nippers, but unlike Gunpla — where a bad nip will really mess up the look of an unpainted model — it seems like light nip marks will be masked by primer and paint.

The options feel overwhelming

I thought about starting with a grunt in case I made mistakes, but decided to start with the sergeant since he would “flavor” the whole squad: I’ll be naming the squad after him (and naming all my squads, of course).

Oops

Ha ha, this little dangling blood drop was too fragile to survive being trimmed off the sprue with a hobby knife. I thought nipping would mangle it, but in hindsight I should have nipped. Ah well, nothing a quick filing-down can’t take care of. It’s only a priceless heirloom that this thousand-year-old warrior has carried into countless battles, after all . . .

Baby steps

It felt really good to glue his little legs down! A literal first step.

I’m also quite liking the mold line remover. The back of my hobby knife is free, but it’s not curved and it seems like it’d be all to easy to cut myself or accidentally snip off something near what I’m scraping.

I see why people have special clips for this

Compared to the two Deadzone miniatures I started assembling (Huscarl, Captain), which were so poorly sculpted that they prompted me to sell all my Deadzone stuff, this was a great experience. Even though this sergeant is composed of a whopping 14 separate pieces — more than I’ve ever assembled for a single figure — they all went together perfectly, and the whole process was supported equally well by the instruction booklet.

And the reward for using 14 pieces was a staggering amount of customization and a good amount of posability. This is an incredibly detailed model, and having a myriad of choices in how to kit it out was enjoyable.

I’m going by Rule of Cool but also paying attention to the actual 8th edition 40k rules — because while Rule of Cool says this guy would look awesome with a Combi-Melta in one hand and an Assault Cannon in the other, that’s just creating headaches for myself down the line when he can’t actually see table play.

So I picked two weapons that looked cool (but were also valid choices) and test-fit everything before putting glue to plastic. Which was a good idea, because the massive wings on his original right pauldron wouldn’t fit with the Hand Flamer.

Sergeant Karios, Tactical Squad Commander

And with that, I’ve officially started the process of building my Blood Angels army: Sergeant Karios, resplendent in his glorious nipple armor, reporting for duty!

After that I circled back and drybrushed and sealed Zael and Noctis, leaving me just two more Termies to go before Space Hulk is complete.

Ready to rid the space between the stars of heretics
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Miniature painting Miniatures Painting tools

TaoTronics LED desk lamp for painting

I picked up this TaoTronics LED desk lamp (paid link) to brighten up my painting space and extend my “painting day.”

Brother Omnio in the spotlight

I looked at both cheaper and more expensive options, but landed here — on the cheaper end of the middle, at $44 — for a few reasons.

  • Compact form factor — my desk is already too crowded
  • Dimmer
  • Multiple color temperatures, not just cool white
  • Three points of articulation: tilts at the base, tilts at the bend, and the head rotates from side to side
  • Touch controls, which sounded cool
  • Mode memory
  • Aesthetically pleasing (not a top concern, but still)
Brightness 3/5, “reading” color temperature (neutral white)

Shown above is my default setting, medium brightness (the top is about 450 lumens, which isn’t a lot but is actually quite bright for a task light) and neutral white color temperature.

I wish the color temperatures were spelled out a bit better, but “night” is warm, “coffee” is warm shading into neutral, “reading” is neutral white, and “writing” is cool white. To my eye the reading setting has the best color rendition, which is what I’m after for miniatures.

The lighted area this lamp produces is a good size for minis, with even, diffuse lighting

The lamp includes a cord and wall wart, and there’s a single USB port on the back of the base. The next model up (paid link) includes wireless phone charging for about $6 more, if that’s something you need.

I opted against a magnifier lamp for now because I’m not convinced I need one (holding minis close to my face does the trick, so far) and most of the ones with a good magnifier and selectable or neutral white color temperature were quite expensive. I figure by the time my painting skills could really benefit from magnification, I’ll have learned more about what sort of lighting works best for me and will be able to make a more informed choice.

It’s a lamp (paid link)! With it I can paint better, for longer each day (and have been). I like it. You might like it as well.

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Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk WIP it good

WIP it good: Zael and Noctis

With the end in sight, and having just done three of the most detailed minis in the box (Gideon and Lorenzo, and the Librarian), I figured I’d apportion the amount of detail work needed in the final four and split them into pairs.

Noctis (Bolter) and Zael (Heavy Flamer)

Now that I’m thinning paints more regularly (which I never used to do — thanks, Warhammer TV!), it makes sense to me to get, say, Lothern Blue on the palette, thin it, and then hit all the blue bits on a couple of minis at once. It’s not quite an assembly line — it doesn’t feel like a slog — and it creates a little natural break between colors, which I like.

Now fully base-coated and touched-up, ready for shading
4 done and drying, 4 in various pre-wash stages

That’s going to be it for now — my wife and I have a date to watch Uncut Gems. I may sneak in shading after the movie, we’ll see.

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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk

Space Hulk Genestealer showcase

Space Hulk has consumed my imagination since I was about 12 years old, and actually getting it to the table to play — with miniatures that didn’t make me sad, and which were painted by me — has been a lifelong dream that’s never been closer to fruition than it is now.

The game (at least the 3rd Edition, the one I have) comes with 22 Genestealers, and I finished painting all of them in 2012 or 2013. Until I started working on my Terminators in February of this year, these were my most recent painted minis.

They incorporate everything I’ve learned from past painting sprees, which I’ve shared and critiqued here on Yore: reasonably careful base coating; color-matched drybrushing, rather than just white, and not too heavy on it; an ink wash courtesy of the Dip Method; and walking that line between trying so hard to be perfect that I never paint any miniatures and not being so sloppy about it that it’s a waste of time.

Deep breath. Let’s see how they look in the lightbox.

Let shine the lidless eye

My lightbox is pretty small, around 9″ x 9″, and there’s no way I can cram all 22 minis in there at once. So I’ve picked one of each pose (I think I got them all), a representative 11 out of the 22.

Games Workshop knows how to sculpt dramatic poses!

I like how the veiny head on Mr. Righty turned out, and the decking on both of them is some of the best I’ve done. Base coat in Leadbelcher, bolts picked out in gold (not sure which one), washed with Minwax PolyShade floor varnish, and drybrushed with Mithril Silver.

A runner, a lurker, and a showoff
Alas, poor Yorick!
Look at this fool who brought a sword to a Genestealer nest
The massive Brood Mother

She deserves a larger look, and from the other side. Such a cool sculpt! I’m curious what she’d look like with a lighter wash than the Dip, and with less drybrushing — or perhaps drybrushing in two steps with two colors. But overall I’m happy with her.

Mmm, licorice whips

These are my two overall favorites in some ways. The decking on the one bursting through the floor rewarded my simplistic base coat + wash approach by looking exactly like rusty spaceship deck plating.

Rear views of a couple from the pics above

I like these two from the back, as well. The texture on the taller’s one back spines and the rustiness of the deck plating on the short one came out nicely. On the flipside, the pile of armor could have used more drybrushing and the Genestealers’ claws could probably have used less.

This guy was a lot of fun to paint
Not quite as strong from this side

The guy running down the busted strut is just such a dynamic sculpt, I love it. I had fun with him. I’m still figuring out how to showcase an individual mini in the lightbox, but this feels like I’m on the right track.

I can see where I blobbed on too much gold on the bolts, and where the wash didn’t “take” on the left end of the base — but I still love this mini. The head, especially the teeth and the jawline, looks solid. The skulls have depth, and they pop against the rusty metal of the space hulk’s architecture.

Hopefully when I look back after painting my next 85 miniatures (doubling my approximate lifetime count), I’ll have improved by leaps and bounds — or at least measurable, joyful hops — from these Genestealers. But as they stand, they were my best work prior to February 2020.

And they’ve inspired me to take a bit more time on my Terminators, especially in the final detailing pass before the ink wash — to nail the little specks and spots of color, the wax seals and other pieces of flair. Terminators love a good bedazzling; I owe it to the Emperor to bedazzle my heart out.

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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk WIP it good

WIP it good: closing the book on the Librarian

My goal for tonight was to take the Librarian — Terminator 8/12 — as close to completion as possible. I started out with him about 80% base-coated, still needing lots of little fixes and detail work, and got him through to the next stage.

This was one of those nights where it felt like every time I touched the mini, it got worse. He’s quite extra, color-wise, adding Flash Gitz Yellow, Kislev Flesh, Mechanicus Grey, and Army Painter’s Toxic Mist — which didn’t help.

But on the plus side, my painting area has a new mascot presiding over it now — a Funko Pop! Blood Angels Assault Marine (paid link).

For the Emperor and Sanguinius!

I may use his shiny yellow head for transfer practice at some point — but now back to painting.

I usually paint to either my all-time favorite work/create album, Nicolay’s City Lights Vol. 2: Shibuya or a playlist of Timecop 1983 tracks, but today has sucked some big ol’ balls so I’m switching to one of my all-time favorite hip-hop albums, Die Antwoord’s Mount Ninji and da Nice Time Kid.

One washed Librarian

It wasn’t a relaxing wash, like they usually are . . . but it was a wash.

D-U-N-N

I was going to call it done here, feeling okay overall — and even having taken a stab at an energy effect on his Power Axe and continued to dip my toes into the edge highlighting pool — but I looked at those big blank pages and said fuck it.

So I went back in with Mechanicus Standard Grey and did my first-ever freehand faux-text.

Fueled by a bad mood and fantastic South African hip-hop

And then I said fuck it again and made the possibly ill-advised choice to go back and freehand the larger scrolls on the two previous minis where I’d ignored them. How am I going to grow as a painter if I don’t make some ill-advised choices?

“The sacred scroll says, ‘-:~~..-~,’ brother. What does it mean?”

Four more to go!

SOON
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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk

Space Hulk Terminators: officially over 50% done

With Brother Gideon wrapped up over the weekend and Brother Lorenzo put to bed today, I’ve now painted 7/12 of the Terminators in my Space Hulk set.

Gideon on the left, Lorenzo on the right

I experimented a bit more with edge highlighting on Lorenzo, and so far I like it. I went too far — both in color difference and application — on his gems, but the sword edge and “power lines” came out pretty good.

I’ll probably take a better, less-cluttered picture of the whole gang once they’re done, but here’s a quick and dirty photo to mark this milestone.

Seven down, five to go!

Seeing these guys all together makes me excited to play Space Hulk — and to watch my Blood Angels army come together, once those start hitting my painting mat.

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Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk WIP it good

WIP it good: Lorenzo and the Librarian

I decided to clump the three Termies with no helmets together so I could get through all their tiny faces at once and bring Space Hulk home with the remaining relatively simple dudes. With Lorenzo mostly base-coated last night he’s first on the chopping block.

My painting space all set up for these two

I haven’t worked with black in years, and on top of white primer I’m finding it particularly unforgiving. But his off-white interior/black exterior cape is too cool not to try to pull off.

Lorenzo’s two-tone cape (I think it’s supposed to be leather)

I tried to get the little blue line in his sword to pop, so I used a new color: Army Painter Toxic Mist.

Lorenzo fully base-coated
The Librarian’s starting point for today: a sloppy partial base coat

I’m diverging a fair amount from the photo in the rulebook on this guy. His drape is supposed to be red, but I don’t know how to make that look different from his red armor; making it white means the scroll cases need to be gold; gems are staying medium blue (they’re usually a shade of red on these guys), but I’ll actually use the right color — red — for his purity seals, since you’ll be able to see them against his blue armor.

Calling it a night on him, but more to do

No idea how the yellow tubing will turn out, and I’m going to try to use pale blue edge highlighting to on the ax blade — that should be a fun experiment. But it’s dark enough now that I’m going to miss stuff, and I still have quite a bit of detail work to finish up on him.

The rest will keep. I’m tired from staring at tiny things with intense focus, time to call it a night on painting.

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Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk WIP it good

WIP it good: Gideon and Lorenzo

Today I’ve got Brother Gideon ready for a touch-up before his wash, with Brother Lorenzo on deck to finish base-coating.

Termies 6 and 7 of 13

Washing/shading is becoming my favorite step. It’s such a simple, relaxing process and the work:payoff ratio is unbelievably good. As ever, this is when the mini starts to look like something I’ll be proud of when I’m finished.

Faces are my nemesis

He’s so scrunched into his helmet that I only had to paint like 45% of a face — what a relief!

While Gideon dries, I’m working on Lorenzo
Gideon with a literal fresh coat of varnish

I was hoping to wrap Lorenzo up today as well, but I kept getting distracted. Still, Gideon — whose shield was a blast to paint — takes me to 6/12 Termies and that feels damned good.

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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniature painting Miniatures Painting tools Space Hulk WIP it good

WIP it good: Brother Gideon and his glorious shield

I noticed on Warhammer TV that Duncan nearly always thins his paint a bit, which I’ve never tried. I have a palette now, so I thought I’d give it a whirl with another Terminator: Brother Gideon, who has a truly epic Storm Shield.

Trying out a palette for the first time

A month ago, I wouldn’t even have attempted the finer lines on this shield. The palette helps, as does the right brush and ample light (about which I have a short review coming up next week; this light has made a big difference) — and the nice cold bottle of Asahi just off-camera.

I didn’t do this amazing sculpt justice, but this Storm Shield is the most detailed thing I’ve ever painted. I’ll touch it up tomorrow, in better light, along with the rest of Gideon and see how it turns out.

Soon

My Terminator box is slowly starting to fill up. Gideon is 6/12, so if I can finish him and one more Termie tomorrow I’ll be over 50% done.

And then it’s on to my Blood Angels!

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BattleTech Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures

More mechs from the vault, circa 1997-2007: part 3 of 3

My intro to part one applies here as well:

These mechs span about a decade of painting, some while actively playing BattleTech during regular matches with a friend in the University of Michigan student union (which I lost, no exaggeration, 100% of the time — but they were fun!) and some after moving to Utah.

The ones I painted while trying to get a fully painted force to the table tend to be pretty unrefined, and anything that wasn’t an assault mech got less attention too — I’ve always been a 100-ton goober, and the tiny ones just didn’t grab me as much.

Gunslinger

Let’s get this party started right: This Gunslinger isn’t the worst mini I’ve ever painted, but it’s the worst mini I’ve ever painted that I still own.

I’ve never stripped a mini and repainted it before, but I’m sorely tempted here. There’s nothing wrong with red/gold/black, and my paint application is mostly okay — but good lord is it boring. And desperately, achingly in need of an ink wash. And drybrushing? Maybe I was learning from my own tendency to over-drybrush and went to the other extreme: not drybrushing at all.

I also can’t unsee the “upside-down computer face” that is his head. And it looks like he’s wearing an adult diaper and swim wings — so in fairness, part of why this Gunslinger looks so dreadful is that the sculpt itself is dreadful.

Nexus

As a palate cleanser, this Nexus is pretty average for me at the time. Although again, like the Pillager in part two, there’s shading on this guy that looks like ink washing — which I was so sure I hadn’t done on any of my mechs. It’s not as heavy as the Pillager’s wash (or, if not a wash, layering?), so I bet I learned from that one and toned it down a bit here.

Piranha

Squarely back in drybrushing-only territory, and as a closer the little Piranha isn’t bad. All-black is a bit boring, but he does look better from the back. It’s hard not to like the Piranha, too — it’s such a goofy mech, fish-headed for no real reason except the joy of making a murloc BattleMech.

Piranha rear view

The “scaly” red in the legs, the fishbone-like tubing and ridges on the back — yeah, this mech is much more interesting from behind. I should have cut loose on the front a bit more.

And that’s it! That’s all of my old BattleTech miniatures. Every mech got a solo photo, and a representative sample of my vehicles got group photos. I learned a lot from painting these over the span of about a decade — which, compared to someone who paints minis as their primary hobby, is a staggeringly low number of figures for 10 years of output.

And that too is a learning experience: I’ve been at this for a long time, but on average across ~33 years I’ve painted . . . approximately 2.5 miniatures a year. I still have a lot to learn.