I started building this squad of Allarus Custodians — the first three of 10 Terminators in my draft army list — last night, and finished it up this afternoon: Kanumba, Cathalan, and Adomako.
As with my first squad, I stole the Shield-Captain’s build for one of them — Adomako — because I love the stance and how tall the model is with its upright spear. I’ve also got a pretty good sense now, after two Custodes kits, for how I can twiddle some of the monopose elements and do a bit of mixing and matching in order to keep them all distinct from one another.
I looked to Africa for two of their names: Ghana for Adomako, and Tanzania for Kanumba. The third, Cathalan, is an Old Irish name — a variation on Cathaláin.
While these kits have the awesome “turtle shell” vibe that defines Terminators (for me, at least), and huge presence, I think I still prefer the Custodian Guard models by a narrow margin. They’re still pretty boss kits, though — and I’m not sad I’ll be building more of them.
I finished my first Adeptus Custodes squad tonight, adding Halfden and Konstantyn to my first custard lad, Inkaef, to form a full unit of Custodian Guards with Sentinel Blades and Storm Shields.
In 9th Edition, this unit is 234 points. Three troops in my Deathskulls Ork army would be . . . 24 points.
Playing around with points, I think I’m probably only going to get three sword-and-board Guards — so I picked my three favorite poses, stealing the Shield-Captain’s build for Halfden (center) and swapping out the pre-molded Misericordia hand for a Storm Shield.
The Guards have my favorite helmets in this army, so when it’s time to replace Trajann’s bare head with a helmeted one, I think I’ll be tracking down one of these — or maybe I’ll have a spare, if I stick with 9 Guards (since two boxes is 10).
So far my naming scheme for Custodes is “whatever sounds fun, and has a basis in Earth history.” Halfden is a riff on an old Norse name, Halfdan; Konstantyn is a one-letter shift from a 12th century Russian monarch, Konstantin. They’re an unusual force, largely flat on an organizational level, and they don’t have squad leaders or a monocultural origin. I like that their names reflect that.
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.
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: TBD, but reddish rocks might be a fun change; my instinct says darker than usual
Skulls: Corax White > Agrax Earthshade > Corax White drybrush
Tufts: TBD, as I want to see how a base turns out first; I already have three varieties that might work
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 more drybrushing than usual 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 Lahmian Medium 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: Stegadon Scale Green > Sotek Green + Lahmian Medium > Ulthuan Grey + Lahmian Medium > Fenrisian Grey + Lahmian Medium > Ulthuan Grey edges > dot of White Scar on the tip (follow this Warhammer TV video, but focus the lighter colors towards the tip/outer edges rather than in two areas)
Plumes, tassels, cords: Mephiston Red > Carroburg Crimson > Evil Sunz Scarlet > Wild Rider Red
Metal: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Stormhost Silver
Parchment: Rakarth Flesh > Agrax Earthshade > Pallid Wych Flesh > White Scar > Eshin Grey for the writing
I haven’t decided whether or not I’m going to follow the Codex’s guideline for robes (they generally match the shield company’s color, so black or black/white for Dread Host) or the lone Dread Host mini pictured in the Codex, whose robe is red outside/white inside.
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.
Assemble: I’m planning to build lots/all of them at once, then spray them all (rather than having parallel tracks for assembly, priming, basing, and painting on multiple units).
Primer and base coat: Spray the whole mini with Retributor Armour, which also only needs 15 minutes to cure (rather than curing overnight).
Shade: Wash the whole mini in Reikland Fleshshade.
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.
Base coat non-gold details: Everything that shouldn’t be gold gets a base coat, but approached with the care of highlighting — IE, I’m not bodging on paint and fixing it in a touch-up step. Like when I paint terrain, I’m carefully painting details surrounded by areas that are at a different stage of completion.
Wash non-gold details: Ditto, but for shading. As with terrain, small, precise washes are the order of the day.
Highlights: Now I’m back to my usual process and order, as the whole mini has been base-coated and shaded. Just highlight everything.
Seal: No weathering or decals for these lads, so just my usual Vallejo matte white sealant.
Tufts: As per usual; apply with white glue.
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 — with 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.
As I get into actual painting, I’ll update this guide so that it remains current.
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.
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:
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.)
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.)
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).
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:
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:
…And then shots of the whole mob from all four sides.
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:
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:
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.
I finished my Trukk! I built Da Fancy Wunback 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Now there’s no mistaking who’s in charge here:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
Anyhoo, time for some Boyz! Let’s fire up the ol’ lightbox.
Get stuck in, you gits!
And as always, a casual shot (a mix of natural and artificial light):
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:
Waaagh! Flesh > Biel-Tan Green
Waaagh! Flesh > Athonian Camoshade
Deathworld Forest > Athonian Camoshade
Deathworld Forest > Biel-Tan Green
Castellan Green > Athonian Camoshade
Caliban Green > Nuln Oil
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.