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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

Painting the weekend away

On Saturday, I wanted to work on another character. As chance would have it I was just about to paint the black elements on my Sternguard, so I fired up my Chaplain, Arrius, and figured I’d paint everything but black — his dominant color — so he’d be in sync with the veterans.

Chaplain Arrius

I love this mini, and while I found resin to be a pain in the ass my guess during the assembly process was correct: That pain faded once I started painting him. It’s such a great sculpt!

I was feeling a bit down, and also a bit out of it, on Saturday — so much so that I completely forgot I always paint bases first. Nothing on his legs would make it risky to drybrush around them, so I wrapped up his non-black colors and switched gears.

Closing in on a finished base — and base coat

As I gain confidence as a painter, I’m also going off-book more often. I love his studio paint scheme, but that’s not a Blood Angel. (I mean, intentionally so; he’s a “generic Chaplain” by design.) I gave him a Blood Angels backpack, but he needed a bit more to tie him into the chapter; I figured a red knee pad with a chapter symbol would do the trick. He also has black armor, which means black suit gaskets aren’t going to read well — not to mention a mix of red elements that need definition and separation.

Which means it’s color guide time!

Chaplain color guide

  • Black: Abaddon Black > Eshin Grey > Dawnstone
  • Bone and parchment: Rakarth Flesh > Agrax Earthshade > Pallid Wych Flesh > White Scar
  • Metal and piping: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Stormhost Silver
  • Armor gaskets: Mechanicus Standard Grey > Nuln Oil > Dawnstone
  • Leather and piping: Screamer Pink > Carroburg Crimson (skipped on gems) > Pink Horror > Emperor’s Children
  • Gold: Retributor Armour > Reikland Fleshshade > Auric Armour Gold > Liberator Gold
  • Eyes and tubing: Moot Green > Agrax Earthshade > Moot Green
  • Book cover: Khorne Red > Nuln Oil > Wazdakka Red > 50/50 blend of Wazdakka Red/Kislev Flesh
  • Knee pad, gems, purity seal wax: Mephiston Red > Agrax Earthshade > Evil Sunz Scarlet > Fire Dragon Bright

Other hobby work swirling about

I also looked at my painting queue for May and decided I wanted to make my stretch goal the Sanguinary Guard — as planned — but that doing Dante and the Sanguinary Ancient (with his massive banner) might be too much of a stretch. Still, having primed Dante, I figured I’d take him through basing.

Commander Dante

…And get the Guard and Abaoz through basing as well, so I’d be covered no matter what.

Squad Remiel and Sanguinary Ancient Abaoz, curing overnight
The state of my painting area this weekend
Squads Remiel and Adamo

I put in less hobby time than I thought I would this weekend, doing more other stuff instead, but kept my hobby streak up — Monday was day 93! — and laid the groundwork for what comes after my Sternguard.

Wrapping up the Chaplain and Squad Amedeo should definitely be doable before the end of May, and really going beyond that — 1x Rhino, 11x Marines — was a stretch anyway. But I won’t discount the possibility that a couple of banner painting nights sneak in, say, all of Squad Remiel by May 31, either. It happened last month, after all!

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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Squad Amedeo

With Squad Dolos finally painted, it’s time to get my Sternguard, Squad Amedeo (1st Company, 3rd Squad), up on the painting handles! As always, I’ve completed their bases already (except for varnish and tufts, of course), and I’ve dabbed a bit of paint on them whenever I had extra on my palette.

One of the things I love about Blood Angels heraldry is that they use helmet color to indicate battlefield role — yellow for fast attack, blue for heavy support, gold for veterans, etc. — which looks great, provides variety, and is just sort of neat. (I also love that, in addition to regarding the Codex Astartes as a set of loose guidelines, they also break their own rules — like having Terminators eschew gold helmets for plain old red.) So when I built my initial army list I tried to squeeze in all of the special colors.

The battle-brothers of Squad Amedeo are my first foray into colorful hats. I love painting gold! And they’re going to drip with so much gold.

I love their little gold helmets!

So, so much gold.

Done with gold, I think

Although one thing I learned from painting Squad Ultio was that it’s also fun to lean away from gold, even when it’s my first instinct. Mix in some white, some silver, and some black where I might otherwise have put gold — and give each model a loose little theme based on those color choices. So while Squad Amedeo is going to get its fashion sense from the imperious, bling-loving Sergeant Amedeo, there will be some other colors in the mix as well.

I’m also diverging a bit more than usual from the studio paint scheme, as I’m not sure how to do the gold fabric (nor whether I’d like it), white on red doesn’t feel right for them, and I’ve probably used rather a bit more gold overall.

One night of base-coating

This was one of my favorite squads to assemble, and so far they’re an absolute joy to paint. They’re detailed without being fussy, with nice separations between their elements, and I just love them. I made great progress last night, laying down base coats in every color except Mephiston Red, Abaddon Black, and whatever I go with for their incidental wires and whatnot.

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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Squad Dolos brings me up to 730 points of painted Blood Angels

It took me longer than I’d like to take Squad Dolos from this state, where they languished for a few days:

Partially base-coated

To this one, starring the worst base-coating work I’ve done this year:

Fully base-coated

And then to the “starting to not look like shit” stage:

These are such simple models — look how few colors I’m using for layers/highlights!

And finally through the undocumented and quite frustrating stage where I discovered that the ~20-year-old knee pad decals I’d planned to use were — at least as far as I could tell, still being pretty new to using decals — too old to soften properly despite repeated applications of Micro Sol. I was hoping to avoid freehanding their squad markings; in the end, that’s what I had to do.

…But I finally got there!

Squad Dolos, 2nd Company, 3rd Squad
Rear view

I have to say that these weren’t my favorite models to paint. Their highlighting was fun, but they’re kind of basic — excellent sculpts and detail, but with so few ways to personalize or pose them that the end product was not all that exciting. I didn’t cut corners on them, but it always felt like a bit of a struggle; I suspect that’s why it took me so long. Ah well.

Thus far I’ve painted more troops than anything else, so my current point total of painted figures (730/2,000) is low relative to the number of models I’ve completed. I’m one figure shy of the 50% mark now, and it’s all characters, elites, and fast attack — plus one massive tank — from here on in.

It doesn’t look like I’m going to match April’s record month, but you never know. Next up I’m going to paint my Sternguard squad and my Chaplain, and fitting in one more squad of five after that — which feels like a stretch right now! — would match April’s tally.

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Miniatures Warhammer 40k

My first 40k army: 2,000 points of Blood Angels, fully assembled and partially painted

With my final squad assembled, I now have 100% of my first army list — exactly 2,000 points of Blood Angels with WYSIWYG wargear — assembled, primed, or painted. Which means it’s photo time!

2,000 points of WYSIWYG Blood Angels

I haven’t quite worked out how best to take this sort of photo, but it is my first go so that makes a bit of sense. Hopefully future shots will turn out a bit clearer. Still, I love seeing them all in one place for like this!

Breaking it down

23 completed (20 Marines, 1 Dreadnought, 1 tank, 1 teleport homer):

  • Squad Karios, 2nd Company, 1st Squad — Battleline Space Marines
  • Squad Ultio, 1st Company, 2nd Squad — Shooty Terminators
  • Squad Cain, 10th Company — Scout snipers
  • Narses, Librarius — Librarian Dreadnought (HQ)
  • Relentless, 2nd Company, Rhino 3, designated transport for Squad Karios

35 works in progress (32 Marines, 1 Dreadnought, 1 tank, 1 teleport homer):

  • Commander Dante, Chapter Master (HQ)
  • Squad Dolos, 2nd Company, 3rd Squad — Primaris Infiltrators
  • Squad Barakiel, 1st Company, 1st Squad — Close combat Terminators
  • Squad Remiel, Sanguinary Guard
  • Brother Abaoz, Sanguinary Guard — Sanguinary Ancient
  • Squad Zahariel, Death Company
  • Squad Adamo, 2nd Company, 7th Squad — Jump Assault Marines
  • Squad Amedeo, 1st Company, 3rd Squad — Sternguard Veterans
  • Turiel, 1st Company — Furioso Dreadnought
  • Arrius, Reclusiam — Chaplain (HQ)
  • Judgment, 1st Company, designated transport for Squad Barakiel — Land Raider Crusader

Here are all the kits I used:

2,000+ points of Space Marines

One of my original goals was to use 100% of the minis I bought for my initial army in my initial army, so if a kit was 10 Space Marines, I’d include all 10 in my force. But I realized a few weeks into assembling it all that I’d have more fun with 5 Infiltrators instead of 10, so I swapped in 5 Sternguard and juggled the wargear on a few units at the same time. So I came pretty close!

And it’s not like those 5 Infiltrators will go to waste: They’ve just joined my backlog, and will be part of my larger army — available to swap in as needed.

I’ve wanted to have a 40k army since I was around 10 years old, and I’ve spent the better part of the past 30-plus years being alternately frustrated with, disinterested in, or occasionally enjoying painting miniatures. It’s been a joy to rediscover — and, at the same time, discover — the side of myself that enjoys painting minis, and a new hobby that I love. Painting my Blood Angels has been a blast, and I’m still going!

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Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: assembling the final squad in my first 40k army list

After wrapping up assembly on Judgment, I had just one squad left in my current (and first) Blood Angels army list: Squad Barakiel, my close combat Terminators — for whom Judgment will be the designated transport.

Little piles, just like always

I started with the sergeant, of course, and then made little piles for each Terminator based on whatever felt right (“skull-covered legs, must love skulls; he gets the skull hammer”) — but this kit has some pretty specific suggestions about leg + hammer pairings.

They are just suggestions, of course, but every time I tried other variations and then the suggested one, I could see why they were paired the way they are: The studio poses look awesome.

The thing is, I’ve got two more boxes of these guys (plus a box of generic close combat Termies). One will be an all-Lightning Claws squad and the other will be 3x Thunder Hammers/2x Lightning Claws, so that I can mix and match. (For example, swelling the ranks of Squad Barakiel with three more hammer boys fills a Land Raider Crusader to capacity.) So to avoid duplicates I’m going to have to go off-book at some point, no matter how cool the studio poses are.

Partway through, I realized that this kit was even more specific about its poses than I first thought: each torso/head piece is matched to a particular body/leg piece. I was building the banner guy when I noticed that the guide had his head turned, which made no sense because 4/5 of the heads are pre-molded…until I figured out that it meant he needed Torso X to match his legs and pose.

Sergeant Barakiel

I went with “Barakiel” because the random website I often use for angel names said that was the angel of lightning — which is a perfect name for the sergeant of the forthcoming all-Lightning Claws squad. But the one I’ve just built are all armed with Thunder Hammers and bearing Storm Shields. What do you get when there’s a storm and thunder? Lightning, of course!

Plus I wanted a “B” name and it sounded cool.

Squad Barakiel, 1st Company, 1st Squad

In the end, I mostly went with the studio poses and leg/torso/hammer pairings, mixed it up on the shields, picked tilting plates and other bling to match, and tweaked a couple of the poses just a hair (far right’s hammer is much higher; the sergeant is in more of a “come at me, bro!” stance; etc.). Second from the right is my favorite: hammer at ease, but ready. What at badass pose.

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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk Warhammer 40k

Terminators new and old: February/March vs. April

With Squad Ultio wrapped up, I can now do a comparison I thought might be interesting: Terminators I painted in February/March of this year versus Terminators I painted in April — same figures (more or less), same chapter, same color scheme. Which means it’s lightbox time!

Let’s start with the closest apples-to-apples pairings, the ones with similar sculpts and wargear.

Similar models

Storm Bolter and Chain Fist
Leaders with Power Swords
Storm Bolter and Power Fist
Assault Cannon

Specific elements

How about three direct comparisons of aspects of each model?

Chain Fists
Backs
Assault Cannon

Favorites

And here’s my favorite paint job from each group, the Librarian from Space Hulk and one of the Chain Fist brothers from 40k:

Librarian vs. one of the Chain Fist bros

Natural light

As I was packing them all up again, I realized it might be good to toss in one more photo — five vs. five, but just a casual picture in natural light.

New/old alternate front/back in each pairing

A bit of context

With my Space Hulk Termies, I was working with years-old primer, over-sprayed, and thick base coats of red. I made the conscious choice to stick with the techniques I’d used a decade ago on my Genestealers, so my whole set would look alike; that meant sticking to one post-shading step, drybrushing (with occasional bits of edge highlighting). My April Termies got two layers after shading, and no drybrushing save for the bases.

I also switched over entirely to Citadel paints, rather than my previous mix of Citadel and Privateer, and started using GW’s parade-ready guides for my color choices. The difference between starting with Mephiston Red, a dark red/crimson, and starting with P3 Khador Red, a scarlet, is pretty striking. The scarlet base coat doesn’t leave much room to go “up” in shades.

Overall?

Overall, I can see that my painting has improved since I started up again. The more recent paint jobs are objectively better, even though they contain plenty of flaws and could absolutely be improved in a myriad of ways.

I tend to be quite hard on myself, especially about things I’ve done which aren’t perfect where I can clearly see that they’re not perfect. (As I type this, I’m literally thinking, “Crap, these felt like they were so much better but the difference just isn’t that dramatic.) I know I’m not alone in this because I see lots of other miniature painters online who are hard on themselves; after hours of working on a model, it can be tough to see anything but its flaws.

It’s good to be able to see some improvement. The hours I’ve put in are paying off — and I have so much more to learn!

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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Squad Dolos

Squad Dolos was the second 40k kit I built, back in mid-March, but they got nudged back in my painting queue to make room for minis that looked more exciting. But now, after pushing hard to finish Squad Ultio in April, and then spending 10 days on my Rhino (and, to be fair, tons of assembly), simple minis with a limited color palette sound perfect to me.

Squad Dolos, 2nd Company, 3rd Squad

Thanks to a generous fellow #warmongers poster on Twitter, I have a stock of old Blood Angels transfers — including some for squads that GW no longer provides on decal sheets (at least to my knowledge). That means plenty of red blood drops for these Infiltrators’ knees, which is good because 100% of them have knee plates that support transfers.

Other than those knees, they follow my usual Blood Angels color guide. The knee pads will be Averland Sunset > Agrax Earthshade > Yriel Yellow. (May 19 update: After shading with Agrax, the Averland was much too dark to read as yellow. I painted over it with Averland, then just highlighted with Yriel.)

Sergeant Dolos

Lots of black on these guys — many more gaskets and seals in the Mark X Phobos Armor than in the shorty marine armor I’m used to painting, plus I’ve gone with black for the “soft” items, like the straps, pouches, and holsters. Should look pretty rad when they’re done!

Down to lenses and their main color, Mephiston Red

They’re coming along slowly, but I hope to have them finished up this week. That would bring me to almost exactly the halfway point in my current army list, model-wise: 25 marines, 1 Dread, 1 tank. Adding 1 character to that tally would be exactly halfway.

Alongside these guys, I also put the final coat of varnish on the bottom and treads of Relentless. I discovered that all three of my backup bottles of Vallejo Matt Varnish were discolored and an odd consistency, like maybe they’d gone bad. The bit I had to use — because I’d finally exhausted my original bottle — messed up the wash and dried funny where I applied it, so it was lucky that that happened to be the least-visible spot on the whole tank, the bottom panel.

Relentless in my little drying station

I’ve almost broken off the gunner’s helmet antenna by dropping this tank several times, so there’s no way I’m resting its entire weight on that spot while it cures!

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Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Resin is kind of a pain in the ass

I appreciate that resin allows GW to keep niche models in profitable, appropriately limited production, but having just built my first two figures — Commander Dante and Chaplain Arrius (“Chaplain with Skull Helmet”) — I have to say that it’s annoying stuff to work with.

Arrius went together easily, but this is like attempt number three to get Dante’s gigantic jump pack to stay in place

It’s flaky, and decidedly more fragile than modern GW plastic kits. It’s prone to bubbles and “frayed” edges. Instead of clear, easily-addressed mold lines it’s studded with flashing from the molding process. And it doesn’t take plastic glue, so instead of near-instantaneous bonds you’ve got to contend with the sloppiness of superglue.

Arrius and Dante

I don’t think the fussiness of resin will keep me from buying more resin figures, but I will think twice before doing it. The sculpts are great, but there’s no joy in the assembly process.

Since Dante needed a bit of propping-up (and there was no way I was going to try to mount him on one foot, as intended), I figured I’d just get their basing rocks/skulls done at the same time

That said, I suspect that once the minor annoyances of assembly are behind me, they’ll prime and paint up just like any of my other figures — and I’ll wind up liking them.

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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

My first mini of May: Relentless

My first 40k tank is also my first completed model in May: Relentless, the designated transport for Squad Karios, 2nd Company. It’s my first partly because it just plain took me longer than I expected, but also because I spent at least as much time assembling minis as painting in the first week or so of the month.

Here are its two golden angles:

Relentless, 2nd Company; designated transport for Squad Karios, 2nd Company, 1st Squad
Let me get some action from the back section

And the full lightbox treatment — including my first use of the little hatch in the top of my cube, since this model has a top worth showing on its own.

Front (not visible, but there: tiny windshield wipers!)
Left side, including the entry hatch with 1st Squad livery

I’ve mentioned before that there are stages of the painting process when the miniature starts to come alive — the wash makes it look real, the highlights give it life — but with Relentless was surprised to find that that stage was the very last one: the livery. Putting on the decals makes it feel like a vehicle in a larger force, like a part of the Blood Angels chapter. I dig that.

Rear view, with my beloved hazard stripes on the deployment ramp/door
Right side, with my second attempt at writing the tank’s name on the banner
Top view; there are a zillion ways to approach top livery, but I thought these two made the most sense for aerial assets observing the battlefield

I always forget that “generic” Space Marine kits assume you’re building Ultramarines, so I’ve probably put the gunner’s Cog Mechanicum pauldron on the wrong side. But hey, it’s not like it’s perfect apart from that! Loads of little mistakes abound.

Nonetheless, I’m happy with Relentless and excited to have completed my first 40k tank. I’ve got one more in my current army list, the Land Raider Crusader Judgment, plus a few more in my backlog. Painting them should get a bit smoother every time, and before I know it what seemed difficult on this one will just be routine.

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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: final stages on Relentless

I had the day off on Friday, so I finished touch-ups on Relentless. So far my experience with vehicles — this one and my Dreadnought, so still quite limited — is that they look simple but feel like they take forever.

Touch-ups done

Unlike a Space Marine, I can’t just shade a Rhino in one go. There’s nothing to hold onto, the washes run, and everything is sticky for a little while. So stages it is!

First stage of shading: treads, wheels, and undercarriage

Honestly there’s no real reason to shade the bottom — or even paint most of it, for that matter. But I knew it would feel incomplete to me if I didn’t do the bottom.

After an hour, the bottom was dry enough to serve as my “handle” to wash the sides.

Fully shaded
Partway through layers

My stopping point on Friday night was with all the first-order layers done except for the biggie, red. That looked like an easy 1-2 hours of work, and what came next was stressing me out a bit: Do I just proceed through all of my usual highlights, like I would on a Space Marine, or do I attempt “scraped down to the bare metal” sponge-weathering on the corners and other high-use areas of the tank body?

So on Saturday I broke out my test mini, tore off a couple bits of foam from a miniature case (the extras), and tried this on my designated test mini.

Attempting some sponge weathering

I don’t think that makes enough of a difference to be worth the risk, so I’m going to file “first use of weathering” under techniques I’ll try down the road.

One side’s first layer of highlights done

Such is the power of edge highlighting that even though I’m not very good at at, the model still looks better with it than without it. Just contrast the highlighted side with the top; the difference is striking.

I wrapped up Saturday night with just the name scroll, decals, and varnish to go.

Almost there!

Come Sunday morning, I had the decals done and moved on to the name scroll. Nothing inspires awe in your foes like the name [Relentless____]. Yeah. So, back to the Rakarth Flesh and the Agrax Earthshade and then another try.

Well…shit

I’ll save the final photos for a separate post, after the varnish dries. This tank was a ton more work than I expected, but I figure I’ll get faster at it the more vehicles I paint.

Rhino color guide

All the colors are the same as any of my other Blood Angels, but there are a few little notes to add (shades are in italics, as always):

  • Headlights: Averland Sunset > Agrax Earthshade > Yriel Yellow
  • Lenses: Moot Green or Caledor Sky > Agrax Earthshade > Moot Green or Lothern Blue
  • Cog Mechanicum: Abaddon Black/Corax White > Agrax Earthshade > White Scar

As I was trying to remember which color I used to brighten up the white on the cog, I realized I’d done them the opposite of the one on Narses, my Librarian Dreadnought. His scheme came off GW’s page, the studio scheme (skull’s left side white), while this guy’s came off a web reference (skull’s left side black). Poking around, I see that the studio scheme shown in the GW store varies at least some of the time — the Skitarii Ranger 360 model, for example, has the same pattern as my Rhino’s gunner.

Ah well! It’s not the only mistake I made, and it won’t be the last. I’m still pretty happy with Relentless.