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Blood Angels Space Marines Finished miniatures Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

I finished my first Warhammer 40k army!

On November 20, 2020, I finished my first-ever 2,000-point Warhammer 40k army. I waited until this morning to take pictures of it, and even now I still can’t quite believe I finished it.

My first 40k army, 2,000 points of Blood Angels

I’ve dabbled in miniature-painting since I was a kid, and generally didn’t enjoy it (I saw it as a means to an end, which was the wrong philosophical approach), but until this year I wouldn’t have considered myself a miniature painter. When I finished painting my Space Hulk set, something I’ve wanted to since I was about 10 years old, that was a watershed moment.

I rolled right into painting this army — something else I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid, and always thought was out of reach for a variety of reasons — and have kept that streak up ever since. From the day I assembled my first Blood Angel, Sergeant Karios, to the day I varnished Squad Caedes, this 2,000-point army took me 255 days to complete (March 10-November 20).

Along the way, I became a miniature painter. Not, I want to emphasize, an amazing miniature painter. But I’m proud of my work on these little dudes, and more importantly I’m enjoying this hobby as a hobby in its own right. From a mindfulness perspective, this is the right approach to painting.

My full army — everything I painted from March 10-November 20, 2,210 points with WYSIWYG wargear (9th Edition)

What else happened along the way? I assembled, primed, and partially painted another ~700 points of Blood Angels. I started a Deathskulls Ork army, Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas. And I listened to a 10 awesome 40k audiobooks (which I love to do while I paint).

I started with two by Guy Haley, both narrated by Gareth Armstrong, that seemed thematically appropriate: Dante and The Devastation of Baal. Then I listened to eight more by Dan Abnett, all narrated by Toby Longworth: First and Only, Xenos, Hereticus, The Magos, Ghostmaker, Necropolis, Honour Guard, and Brothers of the Snake, plus most of Ravenor (which is still underway).

My Blood Angels force deployed on the plains of Armageddon

Because I built my initial army list under 8th Edition rules, things changed when 9th Edition came out. I dropped 10 fully painted minis from my force, and added a squad of five — so I’ve actually finished 2,210 points of Blood Angels, not just the 2,000 in my list.

As a rough, conservative ballpark, it takes me five hours to finish a single Marine-sized model — that’s from gray plastic on the sprue to varnished and ready for play. Some take an hour or two longer; the small ones take less time; the tanks and Dreads take a lot longer. But that translates to a minimum of 290 hours of hobby work. Six hours a mini is probably a more accurate estimate, and that’s 348 hours of work.

It has been an absolute blast.

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Blood Angels Space Marines Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

And then there were none: Squad Caedes complete

Thanks to changes in point values (most of my Marines got more expensive) and unit classifications (my Scouts went from troops to elites), I had to drop a painted unit of Sternguard from my army, and replace half of the already-painted Squad Karios with another five tactical Marines, in order to bring my list into line with 9th Edition rules.

That left the five battle-brothers of Squad Caedes as the final unit I needed to paint in order to have my first-ever 40k army.

And now they’re done! I’ve finished my army!

Affirmative, brother-sergeant

Squad Caedes moves across the plains of Armageddon

The boards in the Battlezone: Manufactorum sets (Vertigus, in this case) make for great photo backdrops. I can’t wait to shoot my whole army on one of these, with terrain!

Squad Caedes, 2nd Company, 2nd Squad
Rear view

I’ll gather my entire force for a group photo or two in a future post. For now, a deep breath, a pause, and a shift to painting Deathskulls Orks and terrain pieces.

As I sit here writing this, I kind of can’t believe I finished my army.

But it just hit me that while I was a bit worried this moment would sap my momentum, when I finished I immediately built some Manufactorum terrain and primed some Ork Boyz, so I’d have stuff teed up to work on tomorrow — without even thinking about it. Minis every day, it’s a good feeling.

And finally, I’ve gotta close with the last WIP shot for my first army, Squad Caedes heading into highlights:

The last WIP photo I took before finishing this army
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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: bases and undersides for Squad Ariete, and my 400th post

This is my 400th post on Yore! I considered prepping something specific for the big 400, but decided that this post was more on-brand: it’s about miniatures, it involves some trial and error, and it’s a work-in-progress post full of photos. That’s where my head’s at these days, so it works pretty well for this milestone. Thanks for reading Yore, and here’s to the next 400!

Assault Bike bases

Because of how low the undercarriage is on the Assault Bike models, I changed up my basing approach for Squad Ariete. It worked pretty well, but I definitely learned some things I can roll into my next set of bikes.

Can you see what I forgot to do on these?

Basing differently threw me off enough that I forgot to prime my rocks.

Rocks all finished up, awaiting texture paint
I tried to sculpt in the kicked-up “hills” formed by the bike’s passage, as well as vague tire tread impressions
Texture paint done
Blue-Tack worked well, but it took me some time to figure out how to get it off

Like price tag stickers, the best tool for removing Blue-Tack (which sets up sticky and soft in this context, rather than staying in firm balls) was a blob of Blue-Tack. Once I figured that out, it was easy to get the rest of it off.

Testing my tire placement
The first layer paint to fall in service of my Blood Angels army: Evil Sunz Scarlet
Some touch-ups needed

To my surprise, 5/6 of the tires turned out pretty well on the first try. They matched their “slots” on the base, no unpainted areas were visible, and they looked natural. Not perfect, but not too shabby. The only one that was off was the one propped on the rock; a quick prime/base coat/highlight and it was squared away.

The smear of dust/dirt on the base of the rock (visible in the fourth photo above) was my attempt at modeling the dirt left behind by the front tire as it traveled up the rock, but it didn’t work at all. It was too realistic compared to the rest of the miniature (which, notably, features clean tires without any dust/weathering), but not realistic enough to read as what it was supposed to be.

So I scraped it off with my hobby knife, re-washed and re-drybrushed the rock where it had been, and now it’s set.

Squad Ariete, 3rd Company, 10th Squad, now fully based with finished undersides

These guys are now getting set to one side so I can focus on finishing up the final squad in my initial 2,000-point army, Caedes. When I pick them up again, they should be much easier to paint as I’ll actually be able to fit them into my painting handles.

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Blood Angels Space Marines Deathskulls Orks Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

A quick note about three 40k pages on Yore

This past week, most of my writing here on Yore has been on three pages, rather than in posts. That’s because I’m partway through the shift from painting one army to painting two — and terrain — and need to do some planning. Planning, which benefits from centralization, is sometimes better done in pages than in posts.

My Blood Angels army got the first “omnibus page” I created for my 40k hobby activities, and as I’ve been painting Angels for eight months now it’s the most developed of them. It features links to each post showcasing finished minis, my current 2,000-point army list, my larger force organization, and links to color guides for each unit type.

My Blood Angels army as of…a month or so ago, I think?

The moment I decided to start a second army, I created a page for my Deathskulls Orks. That’s a big ol’ mess of ideas, plans, and half-baked notions at the moment, but it will firm up over the coming weeks and months as I finalize things about my army and begin painting Orks.

The cover that, unbeknownst to me, planted the germ of the idea “You’ll start a Deathskulls army someday” back in 1990

Today’s addition was a page for my 40k terrain. I don’t even have any terrain yet — that’s how fuzzy and notional this page is, really just a skeleton. But I’m gathering references for painting and weathering, and jotting down thoughts about the amount of terrain I might need. Eventually, pictures will follow.

An article on weathering I’m planning to try out (White Dwarf #457)

I don’t know if this is the best way to structure the site, but at the moment it’s working for me. If you’re reading my hobby posts, take a peek at these pages; you might find something fun or useful there.

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

WIP it good: Squad Ariete, Assault Bikes and an Attack Bike

I got started on my first bike squad, Squad Ariete (“battering ram” in Italian), and despite having the limited options and mold lines of an older kit these guys are fun to build — in part because I enjoy finding ways to give them more personality than they come with.

The actual sprues are super boring: three identical sprues, no wargear options (despite having them in the rules), no arm options — just a dude, both hands on the handlebars, on a bike. What makes this kit work is 1) the bikes are a great design, and 2) they’re dead simple to modify using other Space Marine bits.

As always, I started with the sergeant. He got a Blood Angels pauldron and helmet and a Chain Sword from somewhere. He strikes me as a hard-charging bull of a man, one who uses his bike to blow straight through obstacles (hence “battering ram”) before sawing your head off.

Sergeant Ariete

I knew I wanted one guy to be popped up on a hill, something I’ve seen in photos of other folks’ bikes. I’d originally planned to have him holding the handlebars with one hand and aiming a Bolt Pistol with the other, but I didn’t have any arms that worked for that pose. So I switched him up to having his bike at rest, one hand pointing at something, and an upraised pistol (plus knives from Primaris Incursors strapped to his rear fender).

I was going for a pose that could be “You’re next, peasant!” or “I see the objective, sir!” Hopefully it comes through!

“You’re next!”

This feels like a sergeant-y pose, but I was listening to Dan Abnett’s Brothers of the Snake (narrated by the peerless Toby Longworth, of course) while I built him and the first story is all about the awesome power of…a single Space Marine. Because even a single battle-brother is, canonically, an awesome, terrifying warrior capable of superhuman feats of martial prowess. Plus I like having at least one standout non-sergeant in every squad.

For the third biker, I went vanilla. Gotta have one vanilla guy to make the others stand out, right? Plus it’s a solid basic pose, just straight-on, gripping the bars, unloading twin Boltguns into whatever’s directly ahead of him. (I did add a pauldron, pistol, and grenades from a Tactical Squad box, though.)

A battle-brother of Squad Ariete

I’m not positive I want to do a full, Codex-complaint 10-man squad of these guys — 8x Assault Bikes and 1x Attack Bike, the latter with its 2-man crew — which requires buying another two bike kits but only using 5/6 of the bikes. Nor do I want to worry about whether it’s not a full-size squad when I try to finish the 2nd Company — so I made Squad Ariete the start of my 3rd Company, leaving my other close support slot in the 2nd open (probably for more Jump Pack dudes).

The three Assault Bikes of Squad Ariete, 3rd Company, 10th Squad

To bring them up to 5-man strength, though, I’m going to add an Attack Bike. This kit is thoughtfully designed to include a hidden join between the bike and the sidecar, tucked away on the undercarriage, that should make it trivial to paint it in two halves and then join them together right at the end. It’s in the mail, though, so it’ll have to be a project for a bit further down the road.

Basing steps for Assault Bikes

I didn’t see a way to follow my usual approach to basing with these guys. There just isn’t enough clearance under the bikes to properly finish the texture paint or the undercarriage, so I’m doing them separately.

  1. Blue Tack the tires in place
  2. Prime the base and the bike’s tires
  3. Remove the bike
  4. Prime the bike’s undercarriage (basically everything that will be inaccessible when it’s glued onto the base)
  5. After the undercarriage cures, prime the rest of the bike
  6. Finish the base normally, but leave bare plastic where the tires go — and apply the texture paint such that it looks like the bike has carved a track through it, extending from the front wheel to the rear edge of the base
  7. Finish the underside of the bike completely, including shading
  8. Glue the bike to the base
  9. Pack in texture paint around the tires, if needed, and paint it up normally (shade and drybrush)
  10. Paint the rest of the bike

For the battle-brother on the hill, the only difference is that for the tire-to-rock join I’ll use super glue — and smother the crap out of the rear tire-to-base join, because I much prefer plastic glue to be my anchor for every mini. (Plastic glue melts the pieces together, making an incredibly secure join; super glue does not.)

When my second-wave Indomitus box shows up I’ll be able to do up a squad of Primaris Outriders to keep these classic bikes company!

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Blood Angels Space Marines Deathskulls Orks Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Pondering a second 40k army…Orks, maybe?

Ever since I decided on Blood Angels for my 40k army, back in February/March of this year, I’ve had the vague notion that it might be fun to have a second army on a back burner of my brain. I’ve kept the flame on that back burner quite low, if you will; I know how easy it can be to kill my own momentum.

But I’m one squad away from 2,000 points of Blood Angels, with another 700 points assembled and in various stages of priming/basing/painting, and as of November 8th my hobby streak stands at 260 days. My careful, flexible approach to building and maintaining my momentum has been successful for months now, and I think it’s resilient enough to handle a second force.

The siren song of Kill Team

I’ve been curious about Kill Team since February of this year, and like the idea of painting small numbers of one or more factions to use in that game. That seems like a good way to back into a second army for 40k, too.

And ditto with terrain, as while my plan remains to play primarily at my local shop (post-pandemic, of course), on a longer timeline — and with two armies, so I can loop in friends who might like 40k but don’t want to paint — I can see building up a stash that includes terrain and one or more play mats at home. Starting with a small Kill Team board worth of infrastructure sounds like a solid baby step.

Waaagh!

Bringing me full circle on this noodling was remembering how close I came to picking Orks back when I got into 40k. Adeptus Custodes came close as well, and the new Necron stuff looks so amazing that it’s prompted me to look into their lore — which is amazing. And, of course, Indomitus coming with a basic Necron kill team (all Warriors, kind of boring) and the solid foundation of a Necron army gives them their own appeal.

But right now the Orks are really calling my name.

Several months of painting clean, polished, bling-covered, aesthetics-first Blood Angels makes the idea of doing up some proper dirty, weathered Boyz sound like a fun palate-cleanser. I’ve enjoyed experimenting with weathering on my bases; applying those skills to a whole force seems like it’d be enjoyable. Same with their skin, which is quite different than Space Marine armor; learning to paint that well sounds like fun.

Similarly, I’ve enjoyed assembling a bits box and using it to convert minis, create scenery for bases, and build out my Marines in different ways. The notion of painting an entire army that thrives on stealing and converting other factions’ crap is pure catnip.

Ditto the amount of variety, messiness, and character of the Orks: starting my own Waaagh!, creating characters rather than following lore, theming my force, creating tribes, and on and on. I love working on Blood Angels, following their lore and force organization and whatnot; that was a conscious choice (I could have created my own chapter, etc.), and it’s enjoyable. But a contrast sounds fun, too.

And while Orks do have faces, something I’ve studiously avoiding painting, 1) they’re not human and are free to look cartoonish, and 2) their eyes can be a solid color, without pupils. That second one is a biggie, as eyes intimidate the crap out of me; bad ones can ruin the whole mini.

Plus it hit me that it could be fun to give them hive world-themed bases, flat with no texture paint but lots of details, which would match many Kill Team boards (with their buildings and ruins) and be a change from my “plains of Armageddon” bases on my Blood Angels.

So now I’m reading about Orks, diving into the various clans and their lore and color schemes, and looking at how big a commitment an Ork kill team would be — and how fun the KT-eligible units would be to paint.

Deathskulls?

I’m instinctually drawn to Evil Sunz, who love going fast and fielding converted vehicles, but I don’t want to paint a second army red. I also love the color scheme of the Bad Moons, since most of the Ork bits I’ve weathered have been yellow and it turns out great, but their lore is a bit less appealing.

Which has me considering Deathskulls, the looters who love converting stuff and have blue as their dominant color.[1] It’s my understanding that a Waaagh! can loop in multiple clans, too, so perhaps I could splash in some Bad Moons and Evil Sunz as well; I’m not positive how that works rules-wise.

That would give me blue to contrast with red, vehicles to contrast with assault troops, Ork skin to contrast with armor plating, and a force that makes sense as opposition for my Blood Angels (for hosting battles at home where I provide both sides). The logic tracks.

I also often have bad luck with die rolls, so Deathskulls are fun there as well: I like the idea of Orks painted in their lucky color having bad luck with dice. The conversion possibilities seem endless, too — like this Reddit poster who is outfitting his Deathskulls in looted Space Marine armor. Or sneaky Orks in barrels. I could do a squad of Kommandos that are all stuck inside Imperial crates and barrels; the crates could be half-open, wrapped around each Ork. That stuff is a hoot, and sounds like so much fun to work on.

This bit from a Warhammer Community post on the Deathskulls really grabs me, too:

You never really own a gun in the 41st Millennium – you merely look after it for a bit until an Ork takes it from your cooling corpse. No Ork clan demonstrates this shamelessly larcenous quality better than the Deathskulls – avaricious, superstitious Orks who’ll steal anything that isn’t nailed down… after which they’ll steal everything that is nailed down. Including the nails.

Clan Fokus: Deathskulls

Plus Squigs. I love Squigs.

Right now I’m just in the noodling stage, but I’m also at the point where the culmination of months of gentle noodling has given me a lot of tools with which to firm up my ideas.

[1]: Based on this Warhammer TV video, for a color recipe I think I’d try Macragge Blue > Agrax Earthshade wash, possibly as a pin wash > Chronus Blue drybrush > weathering. Lots of ways to do that weathering, but Duncan’s sponged-on Rhinox Hide followed by dots of Leadbelcher looks quite nice.

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Blood Angels Space Marines Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Squad Barakiel is all wrapped up

On November 5th I finished what I’d previously thought would be the final squad in my first 40k army, but which is now the penultimate squad.

Squad Barakiel, 1st Company, 1st Squad

I saved my favorite unit in the WH universe, close-combat Terminators, for the end, both because they’re my favorite and so that — theoretically — they could benefit from the experience I’ve gained over the past several months. I can see improvements in my commitment to details and in the delicacy of my highlights — with lots of room for further improvement!

Paging Dr. Barakiel to the lightbox

Sergeant Barakiel (center) flanked by two veteran battle-brothers
Rear view of the trio
My favorite member of the squad is on the right
Rear view
The full squad, exceeding the width of my tiny lightbox

And since I now have two squads of Termies, how about one of Squads Ultio and Barakiel, with Barakiel’s designated transport, Judgment?

Judgment (rear), Squad Barakiel (left), Squad Ultio (right)

Next up: Squad Caedes, the make-up unit that will complete my initial army. I was able to get on the list for a second-wave Indomitus box at my local GW store, and ditto for the Blood Angels Combat Patrol box (with its much fuzzier release date of “2021”), so I see a ton of Primaris units to paint in my Nov/Dec/Jan future!

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Blood Angels Space Marines Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Judging Judgment and finding it orange

After fixing the overdone highlights on Squad Adamo, which I did first so I could practice on a smaller canvas, I turned to Judgment. It proved to be a bit different because of the nature of a tank vs. a single figure, so I wound up doing a first pass, comparing Judgment to my Rhino and to its original state (via my photos), and then doing a second pass to really dial it in. Now the lads no longer call it “Orange Thunder.”

If you’d like the “before” photos, they’re in the original Judgment post — but I’ve also included one right up front, since the difference is fun to see. (I finished this retouching job on October 23.)

My takeaway for large Blood Angels vehicles with lots of built-in details and 3-D elements (as opposed to smaller ones like the Rhino, which is by design fairly simple and features unbroken flat surfaces), like the Land Raider, is “the scarlet is the highlight.”

After retouching:

The Land Raider Crusader Judgment, now retouched

Before:

“Orange Thunder”
Front view
Left side view
Rear view
Right side view
Top view
My customary casual shot outside the lightbox, at Judgment‘s golden angle

And that’s it for retreads. On to the final squad in this army, Barakiel!

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Blood Angels Space Marines Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Pressing rewind on the orange fury of Squad Adamo

One of my resolutions when I started my 40k Blood Angels army was to resist any temptation to repaint earlier minis as my skills improved. But, like all good resolutions, this one met two fuzzy situations and needed to be bent a bit.

The situations were Squad Adamo and my Land Raider, both of which had overdone orange highlights bringing them down. So not a case of repainting something from seven months ago that represented my best work at the time, but rather a case of retouching models done quite recently that don’t look as good as the ones I did before and after them — and only tackling one specific, easily fixable thing.

So on October 22nd I retouched their highlights by painting over about 50% of the Fire Dragon Bright spots with Evil Sunz Scarlet (the first-layer highlight color), dotting in a couple spots of orange as needed, and then re-varnishing the areas I’d repainted. Easy-peasy, no worries, and now they’ll stop haunting my dreams.

For a before-and-after experience, here’s the previous lightbox post for Squad Adamo.

Sergeant Adamo (center) flanked by two battle-brothers
Rear view of the trio
The other two battle-brothers of Squad Adamo
Rear view of the duo
Squad Adamo, 2nd Company, 9th Squad

Much better. Onwards!

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

WIP it good: Barakiel, Feo, Caedes, Remiel

Time to clear out the picture roll in my phone, which covers late October and early November!

The final touch-up on Squad Barakiel
Squad Barakiel fully touched-up and ready to shade (I think)
One of my busiest painting areas ever!
Squad Barakiel and their four wash/shade colors
Feo’s texture paint drying (for days…) and Squad Caedes freshly primed
Washing Feo’s texture paint and painting the scenery on Caedes’ bases

November is kicking off with some good momentum, and I have plenty more Blood Angels in the works for December and beyond.