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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: I love working on bases, and the philosophical side of this hobby

They don’t always turn out how I’d hoped, but no matter what I always enjoy working on bases. This whole scenic base thing is still pretty new to me, and I learn something every time I work on one. Yesterday saw Squad Ultio hit the texture paint stage, which ties the whole thing together — sometimes just right, sometimes a bit off the mark.

Just the wash and drybrush on the terrain to go

The only one that didn’t quite work out is the top left Termie, whose base is bisected by a cool bit of blue Imperial scrap . . . which is so flat that it’s almost entirely obscured by the texture paint, and so dark in color that it becomes even more invisible. The rest turned out how I imagined them; tufts will really seal the deal — sometimes they look off until that stage.

The philosophy of miniature painting

Which, as it turns out, is one of the things I find most fascinating about painting miniatures: You have to believe in the potential of a thing that won’t be realized until several steps — and several hours — down the road. Base terrain looks weird until it’s washed; that’s one step. But the scrap looks weird until it’s surrounded by terrain and accented with tufts — and that stuff doesn’t fully come to fruition until the entire model is complete.

I’m not always a confident painter, so I like that the process itself forces me to believe in the groundwork I’m laying — to see the vision of a completed figure I’m happy with during the stages where it doesn’t look great. I find the philosophical side of this hobby as interesting as the actual painting in its own way — like finding joy in painting for the sake of painting, or knowing my own limitations while simultaneously trying to surpass them.

It’s a rich and varied hobby, and I’m really digging it so far.

Also, Narses now has a base coat on his legs.

Sub-assembly one of four down

I’m back to being a bit intimidated by Narses. I’m not sure why! First Dreadnought? First HQ? Largest model I’ve painted in over 30 years? Those all make sense, more or less — but I wasn’t intimidated last week. I don’t know what’s changed.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Narses and Squad Ultio

With an overnight cure for my primer (might be overkill, but why not be safe?) and an overnight dry for texture paint, I need to plan my miniature queue at least two days ahead of where I currently am. I like to have something I’m painting, something else ready to paint, and stuff to build in the queue. So: time to prime up some Terminators!

Squad Ultio to the priming station!
Ultio primed, Cain’s varnish curing, and Narses on deck

It took me about an hour to prime Squad Ultio, which feels kind of slow. But with that done, I could turn my full attention to Narses — my first-ever Dreadnought.

Narses sub-assemblies getting base-coated with Leadbelcher

I’ve never worked with sub-assemblies before; I normally just build and then paint. But there’s no way I can do a good job shading and highlighting some of Narses’ elements if he’s assembled, so he’s getting painted in four big pieces.

I don’t think I’ll put him together until the varnish stage — and even then, I’m not gluing on his arms. They fit snugly without glue, and I like the idea of being able to pose him and adjust his arms for storage. That big ol’ waist joint will be getting glued, though.

Librarian Dreadnought color guide

Being this far along with Narses means it’s time to record the paints I’ve used and will be using on him (shades in italics, as always). This is 95% just GW’s studio color guide, except that I swapped in their “cold white” recipe for the white elements and added some accent colors.

  • Red: Mephiston Red > Agrax Earthshade > Evil Sunz Scarlet > Fire Dragon Bright
  • Black: Abaddon Black > Eshin Gray > Dawnstone
  • Metal: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Stormhost Silver
  • Gold: Retributor Armour > Reikland Fleshshade > Auric Armour Gold > Liberator Gold
  • White: Celestra Grey > Drakenhof Nightshade > Ulthuan Grey > White Scar
  • Blue: Macragge Blue > Drakenhof Nightshade > Altdorf Guard Blue > Calgar Blue
  • Parchment: Rakarth Flesh > Agrax Earthshade > Pallid Wych Flesh > White Scar
  • Seals: Screamer Pink > Agrax Earthshade > Pink Horror > Emperor’s Children
  • Lenses: Moot Green > White Scar
  • Head pipes/wires: Moot Green > Reikland Fleshshade > Moot Green
  • Eyes: Caledor Sky > Temple Guard Blue
  • Force Halberd: Caledor Sky > Drakenhof Nightshade > Temple Guard Blue > Baharroth Blue > White Scar
  • Cog Mechanicum: Celestra Grey/Abaddon Black > Agrax Earthshade > touch up with White Scar/Abaddon Black

The color guide for his base is in a previous post.

Narses is larger than a Space Marine, of course, but he’s mostly composed of big, simple blocks of color. Adding in that his scenic base took some time, and he’s landing somewhere between a single Marine and a squad of five in terms of painting time.

Squad Ultio bases

Come Wednesday evening I wasn’t really feeling like doing serious painting, so I relaxed by working on Squad Ultio’s bases.

Base-coated and shaded

The common elements use the same colors as my other bases. The new stuff:

  • Horns: Mournfang Brown > Agrax Earthshade > 2:1 blend Kislev Flesh:Mournfang Brown
  • Ork scrap: Two coats of Yriel Yellow > Agrax Earthshade > Flash Gitz Yellow
  • Imperial engine bits: Leadbelcher, Retributor Armour, Moot Green > Agrax Earthshade > Stormhost Silver, Gehenna’s Gold
  • Blue thingie: Macragge Blue > Agrax Earthshade > Lothern Blue

I also got a delivery of some more Ebay bits for basing, including some jumbo pieces that I suspect will really only work on my Redemptor Dreadnought’s massive base. Looking forward to it!

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Narses’ base

After cluttering up Narses’ scenic base a bit, I primed him and got to work on the base. (I always base first so that I can wash and drybrush without worrying about ruining the model.)

I didn’t notice Yriel Yellow was a layer paint until I was already applying it, but it’s the color I wanted and after a couple coats it looks good enough for Ork scrap.

Hitting the clutter, skulls, and large rocks

I was originally planning to do texture paint next, then go back for the concrete slabs and any molded rocks I wanted to leave in place, but after thinking it through I realized I’d make a mess of that. So instead I went back and painted 100% of what I planned to keep, leaving bare only those bits of molded debris that I knew would be getting buried in texture paint.

All non-texture paint base coats and washes applied

Rust

This is my first time using a Citadel drybrush paint; I normally just drybrush with whatever color makes sense for the model. But for rust, from what I’ve seen, Ryza Rust is the way to go.

I experimented with it on an area of metal I was planning to cover with texture paint, just in case, and it looked great. When I washed it, it became quite convincing brown rust; that’s something I’ll keep in my toolbox. For Narses, I wanted fresh orange-brown rust on the scrap on his base, so I applied it after the wash — and, funnily enough, as dotted-on highlights with wet paint rather than with actual drybrushing.

Everything but the texture paint is done!

Where I’ve overdone it, like on the Ork scrap, it looks orange. But where I went a bit easier on it, like on the missile cover thingie on the rear side of the base, it actually looks like rust. This is cool stuff!

I went back and dotted the overdone areas with a bit of Agrax Earthshade to hopefully tone them down a bit, and then it was on to texture paint. I plotted out my tuft locations in advance and deliberately smoothed out a few spots with those in mind.

Wet and goopy

After drying overnight, it was on to shading and drybrushing — and then done! Next up is Narses himself.

Dreadnought base color guide

I’ve got two Dreadnoughts in my current army list and a third in my backlog, and while I’m going to take pains to make their bases look different (because they’re 100% identical scenic bases to start with) I still want a reference for the colors I used on Narses’ base.

Shades are in italics, as always, and for most of these elements my final step is a drybrush rather than highlighting/layering.

  • Concrete: Celestra Grey > Agrax Earthshade > Ulthuan Grey
  • Skulls: Corax White > Agrax Earthshade > Corax White
  • Rocks: Grey Seer > Agrax Earthshade > 50/50 Grey Seer/Corax White blend
  • Ork scrap: Yriel Yellow and Leadbelcher > Agrax Earthshade > Flash Gitz Yellow > Stormhost Silver > Ryza Rust
  • Imperial scrap: Leadbelcher and Retributor Armour > Agrax Earthshade > Auric Armour Gold or Stormhost Silver > Ryza Rust
  • Shell casings: Retributor Armour > Agrax Earthshade > Auric Armour Gold
  • Terrain: Astrogranite Debris > Drakenhof Nightshade > Grey Seer

These color guides are useful now (I refer back to them all the time — even a “standard” Marine uses a lot of colors!), but they’ll be doubly useful if I circle back to a particular type of unit weeks or months down the line — and if you’re reading this while painting your own army, maybe they’ll be useful to you, too.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
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Blood Angels Space Marines Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Fixed Squad Cain’s cloaks and finished them up

After ruining my Scouts’ camo cloaks with overzealous highlighting, I thought about my options, slept on it, and settled on the path that sounded the most reasonable to me:

  • Repaint them in Mechanicus Standard Grey, allowing me to leave their necks alone and helping hide any areas I miss
  • For the camo, stick with Celestra Grey but switch from Dawnstone to Dark Reaper, since Dawnstone didn’t really work out
  • Wash with Drakenhof Nightshade again; that was solid
  • Do a minimal highlight just in the backpack area with Dawnstone
Step 1: repaint the cloaks

I don’t think I’ve ever tried to fix a substantial mistake at the “finished miniature” stage before. I can recall messing up my sealant a couple of times, years ago, but my “fix” was throwing away the miniature (because I didn’t know better). Fortunately the cloaks are a big, simple shape and I was able to repaint them without bodging paint onto the decals, etc.

Speaking of decals, I forgot to include this photo in yesterday’s post:

These decals just ain’t right

My GW decal sheets have been perfect so far, but these 10th Company ones — from two separate decal sheets — both have a white border. Trying to paint out the border on a pauldron I’d already washed and highlighted sounded like a bad idea, so instead I just did the lone company icon freehand. Gotta love cloaks that cover up shoulder pads, otherwise I’d have had to freehand five!

Anyhoo, they were wet when I dropped them onto my painting mat — so now they’re a part of its story forever.

Dark Reaper and a first pass on Celestra Grey laid in
Final pattern after a second pass with Celestra Grey

And here’s the silver lining of fucking these guys up and having to redo them: I got to tweak the camo colors and pattern based on the first go-round, and I remembered that “minimal highlights needed” is a situation for which I have a tool in my toolbox that I’d been overlooking — namely drybrushing!

So I hit their cloaks and with a subtle Dawnstone drybrush, which turned out well. The Dark Reaper patches basically vanish under the wash, unfortunately, but in the right light you can tell that there’s a second color in there alongside the light gray. They’re not perfect, but the camo looks like camo. I’ll take it!

And with that, my second Blood Angels squad is done.

None can hide from Mephiston’s psychic gaze

Squad Cain, 10th Company
Rear view showing the redone camo cloaks

Unrelated, bit I’m struggling a bit with the lightbox on these guys. It seems to be washing out some of their colors — or maybe it’s the auto-adjusting I’m doing in PhotoScape? Whatever the case, this photo in natural light showcases them more clearly to my eye (and you can see their red eye lenses, too!).

Natural light, messy background

And while we’re here, why not a full “army” shot, too?

And then there were 15

With Squad Cain finished, Narses is next. His base has been a lot of fun to work on, and I’m excited to paint his body.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Scouts on the painting desk

Over the past few days I worked on my converted Scouts, Squad Cain. The camo cloaks were an interesting challenge, and unfortunately they went from so-so to pretty good for my skill level to destroyed.

Squad Cain

These guys are new territory for me: The last time I painted camo was on model tanks when I was like 10 years old, and I wasn’t trying for a pseudo-digicam effect like this. (Plus, you know, I was 10.)

First cloak partially done

I think my base, Mechanicus Standard Grey, might be too close to the Dawnstone layer in tone. The other layer, Celestra Grey, pops nicely. I’m also not sure if a wash (Nuln Oil because black makes sense? Drakenhof Nightshade to pick up the blue tone in the terrain?) will darken them too much, rendering some/all of this layering work pointless.

Going back and forth between these two, adding swatches

I guess if the shading dims things down too much, I can always touch up some of the swatches when I work on other highlights. We shall see!

Steady progress on day one
Burned some midnight oil on day one and ended up here
Cloaks on day two, pretty happy with how this pattern is turning out
Day three: base coats done!

I don’t like to waste paint, so whenever I’ve got too much of a color on my palette I tackle a small element of whatever mini is on deck — in this case, the parchment and one giant toe on Narses.

Narses is officially on the board!

Post-wash, the darker camo patches on the Scouts’ cloaks are more subtle than I’d like, but the lighter ones look pretty good. My gut says I’ll mess them up if I try to redo them all, so I’m leaving them as-is.

In hindsight, this is where I should have stopped — maybe, maybe adding a delicate highlight to emphasize that their backpacks are under the cloak, but otherwise not attempting to highlight the entire cloak.

Camo cloaks after a Drakenhof Nightshade wash

Because after hours of painting these guys . . . my highlighting job basically destroyed the camo pattern. It’s like 11:00 pm as I’m writing this, so I’m too tired and frustrated to make a clear-eyed assessment of whether I can salvage them right now.

Well, shit

To do that, I’d have to either repaint the camo and then delicately reapply to wash, or just base coat the cloaks fresh and redo them completely. Only one of them (the middle guy) looks like a touch-up would save him, so I suspect my options are really 1) live with it and move on or 2) a full repaint, shade, and highlight on the cloaks. That’s a solid 2-3 hours of work, most of it in redoing the camo patches.

On the bright side, maybe I could start fresh with a different base coat color — one that has a logical highlight color — and skip the too-similar camo patches, focusing instead on only making them pop. We’ll see.

Scout color guide

Since there’s no Blood Angels Scout color guide on the GW site or the back of the box, I’m reusing what I can from the tactical squad and making a few choices of my own. (Shades are in italics. I updated this guide after fixing my Scouts.)

  • Armor: Mephiston Red > Agrax Earthshade > Evil Sunz Scarlet > Fire Dragon Bright
  • Cloaks: Mechanicus Standard Grey > Dark Reaper and Celestra Grey camo > Drakenhof Nightshade > light Dawnstone drybrush
  • Clothing: Rakarth Flesh > Agrax Earthshade > Pallid Wych Flesh > White Scar
  • Black: Abaddon Black > Eshin Grey > Dawnstone
  • Metal: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Stormhost Silver
  • Gold: Retributor Armour > Reikland Fleshshade > Auric Armour Gold > Liberator Gold
  • Helmet ventilators: tubing as metal, breather and joints as black
  • Eyes: Evil Sunz Scarlet
  • Scope lenses: Lothern Blue > White Scar
  • Rifle tubing: Macragge Blue and Averland Sunset > Agrax Earthshade > Altdorf Guard Blue and Yriel Yellow

Bases are “the plains of Armageddon,” from my Space Marine color guide.

I painted myself into a corner with my cloak color choices, since I don’t have a logical lighter set of highlight colors to use after the shading, hence the 50/50 blend. I’m not an experienced enough painter to use a blend when I want a consistent color across uniforms — but necessity demands this blend, for the Emperor and Sanguinius!

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
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Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: making a scenic base MOAR SCENIC

40k Dreadnoughts come with an awesome scenic base: cracked concrete slabs, bullet holes, a skull, shell casings, etc. But with a 60mm base I just can’t resist cluttering up that space, so I did some work on Narses’ base with my skulls, rocks, and Ebay bits.

Front view
Rear view
From above

This one was a ton of fun. The model itself is so imposing that it shouldn’t be overpowered by the scenery, and the rusty metal, rocks, and skulls will be a nice visual contrast with the red, blue, black, and gunmetal of Narses himself.

I’m going to work texture paint in around the bits of debris to tie this base — which would otherwise be 95% concrete slabs — in with this army’s “plains of Armageddon” basing scheme, and to make the transitions between elements, as well as the overall base, feel more natural.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
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Blood Angels Space Marines Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Squad Karios: complete!

I built my first Blood Angel, Sergeant Karios, on March 11. I finished Squad Karios, 2nd Company, 1st Squad, last night, on April 8. My army is officially under way!

Fire up the Emperor’s holy Auspex

I’m experimenting with the white background in my lightbox, and so far I like it.

Squad Karios, 2nd Company, 1st Squad

These are the most detailed paint jobs I’ve ever done, and they’ve been an absolute blast to work on. Might as well give them the full lightbox treatment!

First five
First five, rear view

I built these guys with a sub-squad leader, in case I want to split them into two five-man squads for a game. He’s in the center, just like Sergeant Karios (above).

Second five
Second five, rear view

Painting pace

Almost a month to paint 10 minis doesn’t sound too speedy, but that wasn’t all I did between 3/11 and 4/8: I also assembled, based, and primed 5 Scouts; assembled and partially based 10 Primaris Infiltrators and 5 Terminators; and assembled my first Dreadnought. So as a measure of my painting speed, it’s not a terribly useful one.

More representative is somewhere between how long it took me to do the final three — which was three days — and my typical painting speed in March, which was 16 in 31 days, or about one model every two days. I look forward to getting faster at it as I start being more confident in my brushstrokes, etc.

I’m also looking forward to my next painting project: Squad Cain, my converted Scouts. They’re already based and have a bit of paint on them here and there.

Squad Cain

Heck, given that these guys are simpler sculpts than the tactical squad I just did, I might be able to keep up my 1/day pace — or even knock out all five by Sunday.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: final three in Squad Karios, rolling on Squad Cain

I like being able to roll right from one painting project into the next, so my workflow always has a couple of tracks paralleling the main one — in this case, getting my Scouts fully based so that the models will be ready to paint when my tactical squad is completed.

Squad Cain’s base clutter painted up
Astrogranite Debris applied

I let the texture paint dry overnight, and then usually let the wash dry overnight as well (probably overkill, but hey), so I need to plan ahead as I close in on the finish line for this squad. Speaking of which: that finish line is in sight!

Squad Karios: the final three!

I don’t have a recipe for plasma chamber colors, so I’m going to try Altdorf Blue > Drakenhof Nightshade > White Scar. I might do a thinned layer of Altdorf post-wash, too; I’ll see how it looks first.

Chip, chip, chipping away…

There’s a kind of “nothing, then suddenly something” quality to painting, at least how I’m doing it now. It feels like the base coat takes forever (and it’s preceded by assembly, glue curing, basing, and priming), but after that the remaining steps feel like they go much more quickly.

Base coat: D-U-N-N

And with their base coat complete, I’m really on the home stretch with Squad Karios. I’ve enjoyed the details on this incredibly blinged-out kit, but I’m also looking forward to the simpler Scout figures. They should be a nice palate cleanser — while still presenting a new challenge: their camo cloaks.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
Blood Angels Space Marines Miniatures

My KR Multicase order arrived

I’ve used a couple different brands of miniature storage cases over the years, but never had a full-sized 40k army worth of figures to store — so I did some research while I was assembling my army list. I landed on KR Multicase, a specialty manufacturer in England, and my order arrived yesterday.

My first impression is that these cases — and the whole “system” around them — are brilliant. I’ll do a full write-up here on Yore at some point, but I’m seeing no downsides thus far. The trays are flawless and I love the level of customization they offer, and their price puts them well below some other manufacturers.

1 KRU of trays

I can almost fit 2,000 points of Blood Angels in a single “KRU” of foam trays, which in turn fit inside a 1-KRU cardboard case/box — only my obsession with large-based units spills me into a second set of trays. (My backlog will spill further than that…)

K2-B transport bag and an open KR Multicase with trays

They make hard-sided bags suitable for checking as luggage on flights, but for local hauling I went with the K2-B soft-sided bag. It holds two KRU cases, more than enough for my army.

Future painting sponges and a spare Multicase

As an added bonus, all the lovely foam from the cutouts can have a second life as 1) padding for oddly-shaped minis so they don’t bounce around too much and 2) painting sponges, as that’s a technique I’d quite like to try before too long.

More to follow! For now it’s just good to have a soft, safe home for my growing army.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
Blood Angels Space Marines Finished miniatures Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: battle-brothers six and seven

I worked on two more Blood Angels from Thursday to Saturday and finally got them wrapped up on Saturday night. This was a weird, busy week without as much painting time as I’d hoped — but the painting time I squeezed in was fun, and I’m happy with these two Marines.

Getting started
Other colors done, working on the Mephiston Red now
Fully base-coated, awaiting touch-ups

Side note: When I built the heavy weapon and special weapon Marines, I made sure to use legs without knee pads. Why? Because Blood Angels heraldry has the squad designation on the right knee pad, and this way I can swap these dudes around with future tactical squads without — prepare the fainting couch, Gertrude — embarrassing heraldry gaffes.

Shading time!
Parade-ready layer/highlight colors (layer one in front, layer two/highlights in back)

For once I remembered to snap a photo before applying varnish rather than immediately afterward — when, inevitably, they look incredibly shiny.

The Heavy Bolter is one of my favorite 40k weapons — I just love the look of it. Even granting that Adeptus Astartes battle-brothers are like seven feet tall, a human holding a vehicle weapon is just badass.

Aaaaand painted!

After varnish and a bit of drying time (I’ll let the varnish fully cure overnight, and won’t actually pack them up for about 48 hours), I added tufts and took a quick photo of the 7/10 squad.

Squad Karios at 70% strength
Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.