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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Record scratch: No longer one squad away from a finished army

While wrapping up a highlight session on Squad Barakiel yesterday evening, I wanted to check a points value. I fired up BattleScribe, which updated…and showed me a bunch of errors for my army roster.

No biggie, I thought. Probably just wargear checkboxes. Which was the case for every change but one: Scouts, the bedrock of cheap troop choices, are now elites. Which meant my army, previously just a few hours of painting from being done, now needed a third squad of troops.

After playing around a bit with options, though, I’m not upset about it at all. Yeah, it spoils the lovely plan I had to wrap up with my favorite 40k unit, close-combat Terminators (I’m not putting them off just to preserve that plan!), but on the other hand it gives me a clear next unit to paint.

I don’t want to buy more minis right now (there are plenty in my queue already), so I filtered down to troops I have on hand and settled on adding a 5-man tactical squad. (I also considered just repainting the pauldrons and knees of half of Squad Karios, “creating” a new 5-man squad, but it didn’t feel right.)

Five battle-brothers taking shape

As always, I went with the Rule of Cool — in this case, a Storm Bolter and Power Axe for the sergeant, and a Missile Launcher for the squad. I also made sure the heavy weapon guy didn’t have kneepads, enabling me to swap him into any other tactical squad in the same company as needed (since he won’t have a squad insignia).

I also learned a lesson from my box of Primaris Infiltrators: Don’t assemble the entire kit if I don’t need every figure right away. If I’d built Squad Dolos, my five Infiltrators, and left the rest of that kit on sprues, I’d have been able to turn the remaining five into Incursors and drop them right into this army — but I built all 10 as Infiltrators. So half of this kit is staying in the box.

One enjoyable evening later, I had Squad Caedes (“massacre” in Latin):

Squad Caedes, 2nd Company, 2nd Squad

I’ve been looking forward to painting a vanilla tactical squad anyway, so this should work out nicely. They’re so much less bling-y than the dedicated Blood Angels models (and I didn’t swap in any BA bling) that they should be relatively quick to paint.

With my Scouts now filling an elite slot, I’m also considering dropping them in favor of a bike squad — or maybe just moving the bikes up in my painting queue. The points match up, and both units seem appropriate for this army. We shall see.

Between the transition from 8th to 9th and this reshuffling, I’ve had to rework my army twice while I was still in the middle of painting it. Maybe that’s always how it is with 40k? I don’t know — but it certainly keeps me on my toes.

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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

The next 1,000 points of Blood Angels

Having set my next painting goal — finish another thousand points of Blood Angels — I started thinking about what might comprise that thousand points.

Here’s what I currently have assembled as of October 27 (and in some cases, further along than that:

  • 1x Redemptor Dreadnought, Feo — 181 points (2x Storm Bolters, Onslaught Gatling Cannon, and either Macro Plasma Incinerator or Heavy Onslaught Gatling Cannon; points are the same for both main weapons)
  • 1x Contemptor Dreadnought, Duro — 153 points (I’m not sure I can avoid gluing his main weapon, unless I magnetize it, but the points are identical both ways)
  • 4x Sanguinary Guard, Squad Remiel — 136 points (Death Masks, 2x Encarmine Swords, 2x Encarmine Axe, 4x Angelus Boltgun)
  • 1x Sanguinary Ancient, Brother Abaoz — 85 points (Death Mask, Encarmine Sword, Angelus Boltgun)
  • 5x Primaris Infiltrators — 120 points (5x Marksman Bolt Carbine; points are the same whether they’re the back half of Squad Dolos or a new 5-man squad)

That’s 590 points right there (under 9th Edition rules), so a pretty good start.

I’ve been itching to paint a few other units, so I’ll drop them in here to get a feel for what might be good to include after the 12 models above:

  • 10x Hellblasters — 330-340 points (165 points per 5-man squad if I split them up that way; swapping the sergeant’s Bolt Pistol for a Plasma Pistol is +5 points per squad)
  • 5x Devastators — ~148 points (I haven’t delved into this kit in detail, but if I just pick my favorite weapons this is where I wind up)
  • 1x Stormtalon Gunship — 165-185 points (not sure what loadout I’d take on this one, I’m just excited to “convert” it to use the Stormhawk canopy)

Those three kits shake out around 650 points, with some fuzz factor — but even trading down to cheaper wargear they should certainly total more than 500 points. I’ve got some other kits on my radar, including a second Terminator Assault Squad (this time with 5x Lightning Claws) and a plain vanilla Tactical Squad — plus a couple of one-off kitbashes, like Captain Aphael and a Terminator Ancient.

It’s surprisingly easy to hit 500 points with three kits, especially if one’s a vehicle and one’s an elite unit. Nothing wrong with that! I’ve got some options to mull over, but my next thousand points is going to be fun to build and paint.

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

Five units of WIP, Terminator color guide, and a new painting goal

Lots of ground to cover in this omnibus post!

Post-army painting goal

I’ve been mulling over what painting goal to set for myself after finishing my initial 2,000-point army, and this morning it hit me: a new point total is the perfect goal for me. So that’s my next miniatures goal: paint another 1,000 points of Blood Angels.

Unlike “finish the 2nd Company,” which limits what I can paint (because of the Blood Angels’ force organization), painting another thousand points gives me freedom on that front — but also a manageable, specific goal. At my current pace 1,000 points should take me 3-4 months to complete, and will give me lots of new army options when I can finally play the game.

Terminator Assault Squad color guide

Squad Barakiel includes a few elements I’ll forget in a month, so as always I’m writing down the colors I used for them. This is GW’s parade ready guide with a couple of minor tweaks.

  • Red: Mephiston Red > Agrax Earthshade > Evil Sunz Scarlet > Fire Dragon Bright
  • Gold: Retributor Armour > Reikland Fleshshade > Auric Armour Gold > Liberator Gold
  • Black: Abaddon Black > Eshin Grey > Dawnstone
  • Metal: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Stormhost Silver
  • Parchment and cloth: Rakarth Flesh > Agrax Earthshade > Pallid Wych Flesh > White Scar
  • White skulls and braided cords: Celestra Grey > Drakenhof Nightshade > Ulthuan Grey > White Scar
  • Hammer grips: Khorne Red > Agrax Earthshade > Wazdakka Red > 50/50 blend of Wazdakka Red/Kislev Flesh
  • Purple gems: Screamer Pink > Agrax Earthshade > Pink Horror > Emperor’s Children
  • Green gems: Moot Green > Agrax Earthshade > Moot Green
  • Eyes and lenses: Moot Green > Agrax Earthshade > Moot Green
  • Sergeant’s sensor cable: Macragge Blue > Drakenhof Nightshade > Altdorf Guard Blue > Calgar Blue

WIP it good, WIP it miscellaneous

My main project this week is finishing up Squad Barakiel (the last one I need for my first army!), but because I never let my “minis queue” run dry I’ve also got four other units on the go in various stages:

  • Feo, my Redemptor Dread, is getting primed
  • Duro (“harsh” in Italian), my Contemptor Dread, is assembled and awaiting basing
  • Brother Abaoz, my Sanguinary Ancient, has emerged from storage and is getting base-coated alongside…
  • Squad Remiel, my Sanguinary Guard, who I cut from my army when 9th Edition made everything more expensive, points-wise
Squad Barakiel partway through base-coating
Feo, 1st Company Contemptor Dreadnought

The Contemptor is perhaps the cheapest date I’ve encountered yet, assembly-wise — he’s simpler than some of the single Marines I’ve put together! The downside is that he has almost zero posability, which is always a bit of a bummer. But I put him together in under an hour, from sprue to fully assembled; for a large unit that’s pretty minimal.

I have a feeling he’ll be one of those figures that shines once he’s painted, when his boring pose comes to life.

Barakiel (left, on the handles), Feo (front and center), and Abaoz and Squad Remiel (back edge of the mat)
Dang, my lamp is really dusty!
Squad Remiel seeing paint for the first time since…August, I think? Maybe July?

I think of this stage as “a clown ate a bunch of crayons and took a shit on these minis,” because they look so bad when I’m done base-coating them. Then the clown cleans up a bit of his shit during touch-ups — and after that, every stage makes the mini look better and better. Needing to believe in that future while I’m base-coating is part of what makes this stage take so long.

The clown has finished relieving himself — Squad Barakiel is now fully base-coated!

I’m driving pretty hard at wrapping up Barakiel before the end of the month. Will it happen? We shall see!

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

WIP it good: Zahariel and a dash of Barakiel

One of the things that works for me about maintaining my miniature-painting streak (as I write this post on October 17, I’m on day 238) is that “dormant” periods — the days I don’t really feel like working on minis — still involve forward progress, even if it’s minimal. And then when I do feel like painting, it doesn’t feel like I’m grinding the whole machine back into motion — because it never came to a dead stop.

This past weekend, rested up from a relatively light week on the minis front, I tucked into Squad Zahariel in earnest. I spent five hours or so doing their touch-ups and shading on Saturday, which was a blast.

The long road
Oops

Of course as soon as I started working on their Abaddon Black base coat, I realized that I’d paired two Jump Pack tops and bottoms incorrectly, resulting in one with braided cords appearing from nowhere, and another (less of a problem) with them disappearing without an actual termination.

I was long past the point of re-gluing, so I slapped a couple of spare purity seals on the most egregious of the two figures and called it good. Fully painted, I don’t think my goof will be too noticeable.

Painting black over white primer is so fiddly
Roping in Squad Barakiel

I hate wasting paint, so as always I had another unit on deck to absorb any leftover colors on my palette: Squad Barakiel — my final squad.

Zahariel’s base coat finally done, little spots of color appearing on Barakiel
I like the studio color scheme for the Blood Angels Terminator Assault Squad, which is heavy on black and silver and light on gold, because it’s the opposite of my instincts
Zahariel now fully touched-up

I tried out a new Velvetouch size for touch-ups that I absolutely love: 20/0 Monogram Liner. It’s perfect for precise dots of color nestled between other colors, as well as for lines which cross an area of a different color — both of which the Death Company models have in abundance.

…And fully shaded!
My battle station as of this past Saturday night, with all 16 highlights/layers for Zahariel, and their matching brushes, teed up and ready to go

I’ve only painted one black-armored figure for this army so far, Chaplain Arrius, so he’s out as my reference for doing the highlights on Zahariel. The Death Company minis have so many cords, seals, skulls, and other elements which cross over their expanses of black that a fair amount of shading comes into play — which I dig, because not shading the actual black knocks out one of the techniques on which I rely to produce minis I’m happy with.

I feel like Squad Zahariel has had enough WIP shots devoted to them, so I’m going to call it here. Next time they show up, it’ll be in the lightbox.

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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Post-army goals

When I started painting my Blood Angels army, my goal was to have 2,000 points done by the end of summer so that I could start playing at my local shop. Over the summer it became clear that the pandemic was going to make that impossible, and by August I was pretty sure that “sometime in 2021, maybe” was a reasonable target for actually playing 9th Edition 40k for the first time.

Losing that goal was a bit of a motivation-killer. But I still had my main goal: paint my first 2,000-point army, sometime I’ve wanted to do for 30 years. That one remains a powerful motivator.

But given that I’ve spent most of the past three decades not being a miniature painter (except sporadically, and generally only as a means to an end), I want to make sure “paint just for the fun of it” is a viable goal. And on its own, I think it needs a little something to make it work. Because while it does feel liberating, as I look at the 11 partially painted models that remain to paint for my first army, to think about painting whatever the heck I want after that, I know me; I need a concrete goal.

Squads Zahariel (left) and Barakiel (right), so close!

So what could that goal be? One idea that occurred to me this morning was finishing out the 2nd Company. I’ve always notionally considered myself to be painting a 2nd Company army, despite really painting a strike force composed of elements of the 1st, 2nd, and 10th Companies (not to mention the Reclusiam, etc.).

I have seven squads unassigned in the 2nd, and doing them as a mix of old-school and Primaris Marines, plus their dedicated transports and my planned kitbash of Captain Aphael, should provide a pleasing mix of units to paint for the next several months.

In terms of other possible goals, “Paint units that give me new options” makes some sense — but it’s a bit fuzzy since I haven’t played yet and don’t know what new options will actually appeal to me, rules-wise. And it’s pretty close to just painting by Rule of Cool, which is fine but not a terribly concrete goal.

“Paint Blood Angels-y units” might be a good refinement on that one: deep strike squads, close combat figures, and the HQ units to support them. But I know if I go that route I’ll be wistfully eyeing the Stormhawk, Razorback, Devastators, and other kits under my desk which don’t quite fit that brief but are going to be a blast to paint.

At the moment, “finish the 2nd Company” is the best goal I’ve come up with. I’ll see if any others shake loose.

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Blood Angels Space Marines Finished miniatures Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Six and a half months of painting: my Blood Angels army now at 42 models

I haven’t taken a full-army photo since August — sounds like it’s time for another one!

My 40k Blood Angels army as of October 3rd

I really need to get a terrain “slab” or something to serve as a platform for these shots — something a little sexier than the top of one of my Kaiser Multicases. But hey, it works.

Based on the latest 9th Ed. points update, I got a refund of 5 points (on Commander Dante, I think) that I can’t spend because I’ve already built all of my Angels with WYSIWYG wargear. My finished army will be 1,991 points, and I currently have 1,671 points painted.

Here are my previous three army shots:

May 2020 (the first time I had all the models assembled)
June 2020
August 2020

I’m 5 Terminators, 5 Death Company Marines, and 1 Teleport Homer shy of my first 40k army being complete — which, as I type it, feels a bit unreal. This project is something I’ve wanted to undertake for about 30 years; actually doing it feels pretty awesome.

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

WIP it good: Squads Adamo and Zahariel

Even though most of the pics in this WIP post are of Squad Adamo, my Death Company gang, Squad Zahariel, gets most of the words.

Closing in a fully base-coated Squad Adamo
Ready to finish their black elements
Chainswords all taped up for hazard striping
Hazard stripes complete (but still needing touch-ups)
Adamo is down to just their red touch-ups before I can wash them, and Zahariel is fully based

Death Company color guide

For the figures, I liked the tweaks the GW studio guide puts on the usual red and gold used on most of my Marines. I’ve stuck with that scheme for the most part, and the end result is that many colors are handled differently than usual:

  • Black: Abaddon Black > Dark Reaper > Dawnstone
  • Red: Khorne Red > Carroburg Crimson > Wazdakka Red > Wild Rider Red
  • Armor gaskets: Mechanicus Standard Grey > Nuln Oil > Dawnstone
  • Metal and piping: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Stormhost Silver
  • Gold: Warplock Bronze > Agrax Earthshade > Brass Scorpion > Runelord Brass
  • Purity seal wax, braided cords, sword handle leather: Screamer Pink > Carroburg Crimson > Pink Horror > Emperor’s Children
  • Parchment: Rakarth Flesh > Agrax Earthshade > Pallid Wych Flesh > White Scar
  • Blood drops: Mephiston Red > Carroburg Crimson > Evil Sunz Scarlet > Fire Dragon Bright
  • Eyes: Mephiston Red > Carroburg Crimson > Evil Sunz Scarlet
  • Wings: Celestra Grey > Drakenhof Nightshade > Ulthuan Grey > White Scar
  • Jump pack jets: Caledor Sky > Drakenhof Nightshade > Temple Guard Blue > Baharroth Blue

With the Death Company color scheme reversing the usual Blood Angels colors — black dominant, red accents — I wanted to make sure their bases added some pops of color beyond my usual skulls and rocks. Other base elements are as per usual, but the stuff I added to these particular bases is covered below:

  • Tau scrap: Caledor Sky > Drakenhof Nightshade > Temple Guard Blue
  • Ork scrap: Castellan Green or Averland Sunset > Agrax Earthshade > 50/50 Castellan Green/Moot Green or Yriel Yellow > Ryza Rust drybrush

As expected, the Death Company color scheme makes a nice palate cleanser after the red, red, red of the rest of my army. Onwards!

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

WIP it good: the once-far horizon is now visible

As of September 1, I now have paint on every unfinished model in my Blood Angels army. Squad Adamo is mostly base-coated; Squad Zahariel, my Death Company unit, is primed and fully based; and Squad Barakiel, my Terminator Assault Squad, is primed and partially based.

Starting in on Zahariel’s bases
The tail end of my Land Raider’s varnish-curing period overlapped with both Adamo and Zahariel, making this feel like a proper little painting area
Zahariel fully based, I think (not sure if they were waiting for terrain wash or drybrushing when I snapped this)
Adamo nearly base-coated, Barakiel freshly primed

I’ve painted 15 Space Marines in a month before, so it’s doable for me to completely finish my first-ever 2,000-point army in September. But I think it’s more likely that I’ll finish Squad Adamo and either fully or mostly complete Squad Zahariel in September, leaving Squad Barakiel (and the balance of Zahariel, if any) for October.

Actually playing, which once felt like a possibility at the end of this summer, and then seemed more realistic to imagine in spring of 2021, now — depressingly — feels like it might not happen until 2022. On the flipside, it’s not unreasonable for me to imagine that I could paint another 2,000-4,000 points of Blood Angels in 2021. I’ll take my silver linings where I can find them!

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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniature painting Miniatures Painting tools

Princeton Velvetouch brushes for painting miniatures: an update

I wrote about getting a bunch of Princeton Velvetouch brushes back in April of this year, and have been painting with those brushes (and my hodgepodge of others) for the past four months, or about 1,400 points of Blood Angels.[1] I just ordered a second batch of them from BLICK, which is itself an endorsement. I like these brushes a lot.

Princeton Velvetouch brushes: reloaded

My two most-used sizes are 10/0 and 3/0, and both of those finally gave up the ghost about 2-3 weeks ago, with splayed/curled tips no longer able to to detail work — so let’s call their front-line service life about three months. (Now they become drybrushes, get dipped into metallic paints, etc.) That’s not nearly as long as my non-synthetic brushes, but that’s a trade-off I’m fine with.

Before their tips inevitably curl or splay (despite daily washing with brush soap), these brushes paint just as well as my natural brushes. When my natural brushes wear out, I’ll replace them with their Princeton Velvetouch analogs.

Lots of other synthetic brush lines have a couple brushes small enough for minis but are primarily geared for other types of painting. One thing I love about this line is that they cover all of the sizes and shapes I’ve ever wanted for miniatures, from ultra-fine to relatively massive, including the chisel-shaped tips I like for drybrushing.

So: Princeton Velvetouch brushes are excellent, and in my experience especially good as synthetic brushes go.

[1] I started a daily “work on miniatures” streak on February 22, 2020, when I dug out my Space Hulk Terminators and started painting again. It didn’t start as a streak; I was just painting every day because I was excited about it. But I bumped into the idea on Twitter and have had success with using Seinfeld chains for motivation in the past, so it turned into one. Today is day 192.

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

My largest painted model to date: the Land Raider Crusader Judgment

I finished my second tank, the mighty Land Raider Crusader Judgment, on August 22. This beast swallowed primer, paint, and varnish alike, and it took me quite some time to get through.

The Land Raider is an iconic model, but what sold me on the Crusader — and on painting one for my first army — was a post somewhere about how utterly intimidating this tank would be in real life when a squad of Terminators come boiling out of it. It’s like a jumbo tank shooting out five smaller tanks!

Light it up, buttercup

The Land Raider is patently too large for my modest little lightbox. No way to hide the seams, no way to make it look like it fits — sorry about that.

Let’s kick off with Judgment‘s golden angle:

Blood Angels Land Raider Crusader Judgment, 1st Company
Front view
Left side

I can’t remember if I ever mentioned it in my assembly post(s) for Judgment, but I bobbed the radio antenna because the original length looked like a pain in the ass to store and use without breaking it.

Rear view
Right side

Unlike the previous shots, this top-down view is kind of like using a light ring: I’m shooting through a hole in the top of my lightbox. It balances the colors a lot better (which a fancier lightbox would do with more light sources).

Top view

Plus a couple natural light/casual shots for good measure:

Pretty happy with how this guy turned out
Rear angle

With Judgment complete, and some sort of minor points update that made Commander Dante 5 points more expensive, my army now stands at 1,581 of 1,996 points painted. I’m getting close!