After enjoying the time savings from spraying my first batch of 40k terrain with Citadel’s Wraithbone rattle can — a primer and base coat in one — I decided to go the same route with my custard lads. They’re 90% gold; this is a potentially huge time savings.
So I built my entire army before painting any of them — something I haven’t done since I got back into painting in 2020. It’s only 26 models, so this seemed like the most logical approach.
As luck would have it, today’s weather was perfect for some spray painting.
Here’s what I found:
Retributor Armour, which is a metallic, doesn’t go on as easily as Wraithbone (which is not).
Compared to terrain, which, broadly, is flat and regular, miniatures are much fussier to spray paint. They’re covered in little nooks and crannies.
The Allarus Terminators are fussier than the Custodian Guards, because their pauldrons are overhangs and their little turtle heads make a “dead zone” for paint unless you hit that area from just the right angle.
Starting with them laying down is much easier than starting with them standing up. Many of the hard-to-reach bits are dealt with much more smoothly, and when you stand them up there’s just a bit of obvious touching-up to do.
My usual approach — spraying into an open box sitting on its side — doesn’t work nearly as well as just setting the figures on the top of the box and attacking them from all angles. (Outdoors, with no one nearby, and my goggles and respirator on, this isn’t a safety hazard.) With care, it’s not too hard to keep the paint on the box.
I thought one can would cover 21 infantry models and 6 bikes. It actually covered 14 infantry models (1 Trajann, 1 Vexilus Praetor, 6 Allarus, 6 Custodians) and the bases for the 6 bikes.
That took me about 75 minutes, including time spent waiting for stuff to dry, so spraying the other 6 infantry and all 6 bikes shouldn’t take any longer than that.
I can’t believe I used to do this without goggles and a respirator mask!
None of that has anything to do with the quality of Citadel’s rattle cans: Retributor Armour spray dries beautifully. Even if I have to brush-prime the odd crevice and touch it up with a spot of paint, I’ve still saved a ton of time here.
I opted to spray the Vertus Praetor bases because 1) why not? and 2) that way the rims and rocks won’t look different from the rest of the bases (which they might if I primed them white). Ultimately this probably wouldn’t matter much — but hey, shiny bases!
Now I need to wait for another can of paint to arrive in the mail before I can goldenize the rest of them — but in the meantime, I’ve got 20 bases to work on!
I woke up this morning, walked past my work area for miniatures, and realized I’d forgotten to put in time on minis yesterday. My hobby streak is broken!
I made it to 539 days — from February 20, 2020, to August 12, 2021.
Yesterday morning I had a plan for what I was going to work on, but after work I wrapped up my Yore page tracking my completed Marvel and DC runs, walked the dog, had a lovely dinner, watched Friday the 13th Part VI with my family, read some Batman . . . and just plain forgot to work on minis.
I don’t feel terrible about it. Pobody’s nerfect, and all that — and I didn’t break it because I’d lost my motivation and didn’t want to work on minis, which I suspect would feel different.
Now I’m all set up and ready to work today (after coffee, of course).
Today is day 1 of my second hobby streak. Onwards!
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
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 of drybrushing as well. Gems are a big deal for Custodes, so I’m going to attempt a more realistic and detailed approach on those.
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: Sotek Green (note this is a layer paint) > Coelia Greenshade > Temple Guard Blue drybrush on the high points along the flats, plus the edges > Fenrisian Grey drybrush on same areas > dot of Fenrisian Grey on the tip and the power nodules
Dread Host pteruges: Celestra Grey > Drakenhof Nightshade > Ulthuan Grey > White Scar > dots of Stormhost Silver on the studs
Gloves, weapon grips, and other leather: Doombull Brown (note this is a layer paint) > Nuln Oil > Wazdakka Red > Squig Orange
Plumes, tassels, cords: Mephiston Red > Carroburg Crimson > Evil Sunz Scarlet > Wild Rider Red
Metal: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Stormhost Silver
Armor joints and leg/boot tubes: Abaddon Black > Eshin Grey
Parchment: Rakarth Flesh > Agrax Earthshade > Pallid Wych Flesh > White Scar > Eshin Grey for the writing
Cloak exterior, and his robe: Mephiston Red > Carroburg Crimson > Evil Sunz Scarlet drybrush > touch-up the gold portion
Cloak interior: Doombull Brown (note this is a layer paint) > Nuln Oil > Wazdakka Red drybrush
Lion pelt: Dot black in for the eyes, nose, and claws; for the rest, it’s Zandri Dust > Agrax Earthshade > Ushabti Bone
Feathers: Celestra Grey > Agrax Earthshade > Ulthuan Grey > a few dots of White Scar
The Codex’s guideline for robes (they generally match the shield company’s color, so black or black/white for Dread Host) doesn’t match the lone Dread Host mini pictured in the Codex, whose robe is red outside/white inside. I went with black because it seemed like the better approach for emphasizing that this is a Dread Host force.
I repainted, and then re-glazed, and then repainted (etc.), the first batch of Sentinel Blades several times, including multiple botched passes at freehanding a “crackling lightning” effect, before realizing that I just don’t have the skill and brush control to pull this off. It was becoming a bottleneck and making me not want to finish the first squad, so I went back to basics.
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: Build 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).
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 rims: Paint as usual. (I normally do this last, to mark finishing the mini, but with the nameplates in the mix I want some wash in the crevices where the plate meets the rim, so the rims need to be done now.)
Paint the nameplate: Just my usual steps, but extra careful around where the terrain meets the top edge of the plate.
Gold touch-ups: I inevitably get a bit of Stirland Mud on what should be gold, so just fix it up with Retributor Armour. Check for little nooks and crannies that didn’t get hit (or hit hard enough) with the spray, and touch those up as well.
Shade the gold: Wash all the gold areas in Reikland Fleshshade. Doing this now lets me get into all the hard-to-reach crevices without worrying about messing anything up.
Paint everything except gold and gems: Approach this whole process like I do with terrain: with the care of highlighting. I’m not bodging on paint and fixing it in a touch-up step; I’m carefully painting details surrounded by areas that are at a different stage of completion. The goal is to avoid needing touch-ups (or at least needing as many as I usually do).
For Custodian Guards, my order is: black, bronze, silver, blades, eyes, pteruges, tassels/plumes, gloves.
Finish the gold: Highlights, plus any gold touch-ups prompted by the previous step.
Paint the gems: Base coat, shade, highlight, as per usual — but “think like terrain.” These can be simple details; a gem the size of a grain of salt doesn’t need shading, and may not even need a highlight. A bigger gem deserves the full treatment. Keep the flow fast and loose.
Seal: No weathering or decals for these lads, so just my usual Vallejo matte white sealant.
Tufts: As per usual; apply with white glue.
Glue the flight base pegs in place: I did this before sealing, without thinking about it, but this really should be the final step. If I’d sealed the bases first, I could have slathered on my sealant with reckless abandon without needing to carefully avoid the clear pegs.
When I started out, my plan was to batch-paint every step across the entire army. I wound up doing that for priming/base-coating (the gold), bases, and nameplates, but thereafter I switched to working squad by squad — my usual approach. It might technically be more efficient to batch the whole army, but I need the dopamine hit of finishing minis to give me momentum for the next batch. (And I’m not entirely convinced messing with 26 figures at once, all cluttering up my desk on improvised hand-grips, is more efficient…)
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 — glazed with the aid of 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.
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.)