I also put together a painting area on my desk, including paint racks and a lamp and lightbox, and added a host of Citadel pots and tools to my arsenal.
I’ve got a 2,000-point Blood Angels army to paint during quarantine, all mapped out in BattleScribe. My baseline was my favorite units in 40k and units that looked fun to paint until around 1,500 points, and then 500 points of units that looked fun to paint but also supported what I already had. “Paint the army you love and don’t worry too much about the ebb and flow of the rules” is my mantra.
Along the way I’ve grown as a painter: used brush-on primer, wash, and sealant for the first time; experimented with edge highlighting; improved my detail painting and drybrushing; learning to make terrain bases; stepped up my assembly game with new tools; and played around with different workflows to find the one that’s right for me. I’m not going to knock anyone’s socks off with my paint jobs, but I’m having fun and loving the hobby.
Yore also turned 10 this year, and crossed the 300-post line last week in my flurry of miniatures-related posting (here’s #300). Traffic has doubled and I’m having a blast blogging again — and I’ve discovered the joy of the #warmongers community on Twitter, a tremendous source of inspiration, motivation, and camaraderie.
If you’re reading this I hope you enjoy Yore, and thank you.
I’m too close to these right now for self-critique. They’re not perfect. Despite having been painting for 30 years, I’ve spent the vast majority of that time not painting. I’m very much a beginner, with a lot to learn.
I’ve included my favorite mini in the center of each picture below: Lorenzo, the Librarian, Gideon, throne boy. (Close seconds are Leon and Zael.)
Even though there are fewer Terminators than Genestealers, and fewer of either than all the BattleTech stuff I painted ages ago, this was the most personally significant miniature painting project I’ve ever undertaken.
I have loved Space Hulk since I was a wee lad, flipping through issues of White Dwarf around age 10-12. Terminators are my favorite Warhammer 40k concept and figure, and always have been. I’ve wanted to own a set, painted by me, for over 30 years. The journey to getting these painted has, until 2020, been defined largely by not enjoying painting; this was the year, and the project, that saw me enjoying the process for the process. I love it now, and I had an absolute blast painting these Terminators.
For now, these are my best paint jobs. For now!
Painting is a ton of fun
I learned a lot, and rediscovered some things, while I painted these dudes:
using brushed-on washes, with multiple shades
a more delicate touch while drybrushing
a bit of experimentation with highlighting, notably on armor plate edges and gems
paying much more attention to painting details
using a brushed-on varnish for the first time
working with new tools, including a painting handle and a specialty water cup
using better brushes, and finer-tipped brushes, and taking better care of them
thinning my paints for the first time
I’m going to put what I’ve learned into practice on my Blood Angels army — and then iterate on that, and iterate again. I’m a miniature painter now, and I love this hobby!
It’s the home stretch for my Space Hulk set — I can’t believe it! As of February 22nd, I had 12 Terminators who were partially (and sloppily) base-coated in red back in 2014. Now I’ve finished 10 of them and am working on the final two: Leon and Deino.
When I first got back into painting minis — like three weeks ago — I dismissed the notion of trying freehand painting out of hand. But the more I paint the more confident and willing to take risks I get, so I tried freehanding the decorative plates on Leon’s armor.
Up close they look pretty bad — but at tabletop distance, they’re not too shabby!
Somewhere in the past couple of weeks I also stumbled across a piece of advice about freehanding that stuck with me (I don’t recall where I saw it): It’s always worth trying, because 1) that’s how you get better at it, and 2) fellow painters respect that you tried it, even if it doesn’t look great.
I wish I’d tackled a couple of the other 50/50 elements on these Termies, but I just didn’t feel ready. I’m glad I gave these a whirl, and I’m looking forward to continuing to expand my comfort zone.
Took a break to watch Friday the 13th: A New Beginning with the fam (worst one out of the first five, and I hope it turns out to be the worst overall) and then came back a drybrushed these two.
Gave ’em a couple minutes to dry, varnished them up, and . . . that’s that. I’ve painted 100% of my Space Hulk miniatures, and it only took me 11 years!
Fuuuuck does that feel good.
I’ll get the Terminators up in the lightbox after the varnish on these two dries. I don’t think trying to cram them all in there will work, but 3×3 or 3×4 should do the trick.
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.
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.
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).
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 . . .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
I may use his shiny yellow head for transfer practice at some point — but now back to painting.
It wasn’t a relaxing wash, like they usually are . . . but it was a wash.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I tried to get the little blue line in his sword to pop, so I used a new color: Army Painter Toxic Mist.
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.
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.
Today I’ve got Brother Gideon ready for a touch-up before his wash, with Brother Lorenzo on deck to finish base-coating.
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.
He’s so scrunched into his helmet that I only had to paint like 45% of a face — what a relief!
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.