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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

Painting the weekend away

On Saturday, I wanted to work on another character. As chance would have it I was just about to paint the black elements on my Sternguard, so I fired up my Chaplain, Arrius, and figured I’d paint everything but black — his dominant color — so he’d be in sync with the veterans.

Chaplain Arrius

I love this mini, and while I found resin to be a pain in the ass my guess during the assembly process was correct: That pain faded once I started painting him. It’s such a great sculpt!

I was feeling a bit down, and also a bit out of it, on Saturday — so much so that I completely forgot I always paint bases first. Nothing on his legs would make it risky to drybrush around them, so I wrapped up his non-black colors and switched gears.

Closing in on a finished base — and base coat

As I gain confidence as a painter, I’m also going off-book more often. I love his studio paint scheme, but that’s not a Blood Angel. (I mean, intentionally so; he’s a “generic Chaplain” by design.) I gave him a Blood Angels backpack, but he needed a bit more to tie him into the chapter; I figured a red knee pad with a chapter symbol would do the trick. He also has black armor, which means black suit gaskets aren’t going to read well — not to mention a mix of red elements that need definition and separation.

Which means it’s color guide time!

Chaplain color guide

  • Black: Abaddon Black > Eshin Grey > Dawnstone
  • Bone and parchment: Rakarth Flesh > Agrax Earthshade > Pallid Wych Flesh > White Scar
  • Metal and piping: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Stormhost Silver
  • Armor gaskets: Mechanicus Standard Grey > Nuln Oil > Dawnstone
  • Leather and piping: Screamer Pink > Carroburg Crimson (skipped on gems) > Pink Horror > Emperor’s Children
  • Gold: Retributor Armour > Reikland Fleshshade > Auric Armour Gold > Liberator Gold
  • Eyes and tubing: Moot Green > Agrax Earthshade > Moot Green
  • Book cover: Khorne Red > Agrax Earthshade > Wazdakka Red > 50/50 blend of Wazdakka Red/Kislev Flesh
  • Knee pad, gems, purity seal wax: Mephiston Red > Agrax Earthshade > Evil Sunz Scarlet > Fire Dragon Bright

Other hobby work swirling about

I also looked at my painting queue for May and decided I wanted to make my stretch goal the Sanguinary Guard — as planned — but that doing Dante and the Sanguinary Ancient (with his massive banner) might be too much of a stretch. Still, having primed Dante, I figured I’d take him through basing.

Commander Dante

…And get the Guard and Abaoz through basing as well, so I’d be covered no matter what.

Squad Remiel and Sanguinary Ancient Abaoz, curing overnight
The state of my painting area this weekend
Squads Remiel and Adamo

I put in less hobby time than I thought I would this weekend, doing more other stuff instead, but kept my hobby streak up — Monday was day 93! — and laid the groundwork for what comes after my Sternguard.

Wrapping up the Chaplain and Squad Amedeo should definitely be doable before the end of May, and really going beyond that — 1x Rhino, 11x Marines — was a stretch anyway. But I won’t discount the possibility that a couple of banner painting nights sneak in, say, all of Squad Remiel by May 31, either. It happened last month, after all!

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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Squad Amedeo

With Squad Dolos finally painted, it’s time to get my Sternguard, Squad Amedeo (1st Company, 3rd Squad), up on the painting handles! As always, I’ve completed their bases already (except for varnish and tufts, of course), and I’ve dabbed a bit of paint on them whenever I had extra on my palette.

One of the things I love about Blood Angels heraldry is that they use helmet color to indicate battlefield role — yellow for fast attack, blue for heavy support, gold for veterans, etc. — which looks great, provides variety, and is just sort of neat. (I also love that, in addition to regarding the Codex Astartes as a set of loose guidelines, they also break their own rules — like having Terminators eschew gold helmets for plain old red.) So when I built my initial army list I tried to squeeze in all of the special colors.

The battle-brothers of Squad Amedeo are my first foray into colorful hats. I love painting gold! And they’re going to drip with so much gold.

I love their little gold helmets!

So, so much gold.

Done with gold, I think

Although one thing I learned from painting Squad Ultio was that it’s also fun to lean away from gold, even when it’s my first instinct. Mix in some white, some silver, and some black where I might otherwise have put gold — and give each model a loose little theme based on those color choices. So while Squad Amedeo is going to get its fashion sense from the imperious, bling-loving Sergeant Amedeo, there will be some other colors in the mix as well.

I’m also diverging a bit more than usual from the studio paint scheme, as I’m not sure how to do the gold fabric (nor whether I’d like it), white on red doesn’t feel right for them, and I’ve probably used rather a bit more gold overall.

One night of base-coating

This was one of my favorite squads to assemble, and so far they’re an absolute joy to paint. They’re detailed without being fussy, with nice separations between their elements, and I just love them. I made great progress last night, laying down base coats in every color except Mephiston Red, Abaddon Black, and whatever I go with for their incidental wires and whatnot.

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Miniatures WIP it good

Turiel’s scenic base

I love working on miniature bases, creating little landscapes to complement and set off the actual figure, so for my second Dreadnought I picked up some plain 60mm GW bases on Ebay to give me a blank canvas to work with. I gather that a lot of folks don’t love basing, so I figured I’d talk a bit about my process — not because I’m an expert (I’m not!), but because maybe some of that joy will be passed along.

I start by looking at the figure and thinking about their role in the battle on the plains of Armageddon — that’s where all my Blood Angels are fighting, base-wise. Then I dig out my bits box and pick fun stuff that seems like it might work.

Starting to get a good idea of what I’m after here

I test out my ideas on the base, moving stuff around until I can picture a cool finished product in my mind. Then I literally test out some elements — like making sure this upright grate/hatch thingie won’t get in the way of Turiel’s body. I also think about whether I want to add tufts, and how many, so I can leave room for a couple.

Will it fit? It will!

I also make sure to leave some clearance around the figure itself, to give myself room to, you know, actually paint it. I’ve bumped stuff up too close to models on past bases and made things more difficult for myself. Ditto on avoiding the edges, since I like to have room to put texture paint around everything.

Final test configuration

My first Dread, Narses, has prominent vertical elements on the front and back sides of his base. I thought it’d be fun to give Turiel a mostly flat front, but couldn’t resist playing with height in the back.

After I’ve got stuff pretty much how I like it, I trim the nubs, get rid of the mold lines, and glue it all down (plastic glue for plastic, superglue for rocks).

Front view
Rear view
From above

After Turiel’s glue cures overnight, it’s on to painting the debris and then surrounding it all with texture paint!

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Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: assembling the final squad in my first 40k army list

After wrapping up assembly on Judgment, I had just one squad left in my current (and first) Blood Angels army list: Squad Barakiel, my close combat Terminators — for whom Judgment will be the designated transport.

Little piles, just like always

I started with the sergeant, of course, and then made little piles for each Terminator based on whatever felt right (“skull-covered legs, must love skulls; he gets the skull hammer”) — but this kit has some pretty specific suggestions about leg + hammer pairings.

They are just suggestions, of course, but every time I tried other variations and then the suggested one, I could see why they were paired the way they are: The studio poses look awesome.

The thing is, I’ve got two more boxes of these guys (plus a box of generic close combat Termies). One will be an all-Lightning Claws squad and the other will be 3x Thunder Hammers/2x Lightning Claws, so that I can mix and match. (For example, swelling the ranks of Squad Barakiel with three more hammer boys fills a Land Raider Crusader to capacity.) So to avoid duplicates I’m going to have to go off-book at some point, no matter how cool the studio poses are.

Partway through, I realized that this kit was even more specific about its poses than I first thought: each torso/head piece is matched to a particular body/leg piece. I was building the banner guy when I noticed that the guide had his head turned, which made no sense because 4/5 of the heads are pre-molded…until I figured out that it meant he needed Torso X to match his legs and pose.

Sergeant Barakiel

I went with “Barakiel” because the random website I often use for angel names said that was the angel of lightning — which is a perfect name for the sergeant of the forthcoming all-Lightning Claws squad. But the one I’ve just built are all armed with Thunder Hammers and bearing Storm Shields. What do you get when there’s a storm and thunder? Lightning, of course!

Plus I wanted a “B” name and it sounded cool.

Squad Barakiel, 1st Company, 1st Squad

In the end, I mostly went with the studio poses and leg/torso/hammer pairings, mixed it up on the shields, picked tilting plates and other bling to match, and tweaked a couple of the poses just a hair (far right’s hammer is much higher; the sergeant is in more of a “come at me, bro!” stance; etc.). Second from the right is my favorite: hammer at ease, but ready. What at badass pose.

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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Squad Dolos

Squad Dolos was the second 40k kit I built, back in mid-March, but they got nudged back in my painting queue to make room for minis that looked more exciting. But now, after pushing hard to finish Squad Ultio in April, and then spending 10 days on my Rhino (and, to be fair, tons of assembly), simple minis with a limited color palette sound perfect to me.

Squad Dolos, 2nd Company, 3rd Squad

Thanks to a generous fellow #warmongers poster on Twitter, I have a stock of old Blood Angels transfers — including some for squads that GW no longer provides on decal sheets (at least to my knowledge). That means plenty of red blood drops for these Infiltrators’ knees, which is good because 100% of them have knee plates that support transfers.

Other than those knees, they follow my usual Blood Angels color guide. The knee pads will be Averland Sunset > Agrax Earthshade > Yriel Yellow. (May 19 update: After shading with Agrax, the Averland was much too dark to read as yellow. I painted over it with Averland, then just highlighted with Yriel.)

Sergeant Dolos

Lots of black on these guys — many more gaskets and seals in the Mark X Phobos Armor than in the shorty marine armor I’m used to painting, plus I’ve gone with black for the “soft” items, like the straps, pouches, and holsters. Should look pretty rad when they’re done!

Down to lenses and their main color, Mephiston Red

They’re coming along slowly, but I hope to have them finished up this week. That would bring me to almost exactly the halfway point in my current army list, model-wise: 25 marines, 1 Dread, 1 tank. Adding 1 character to that tally would be exactly halfway.

Alongside these guys, I also put the final coat of varnish on the bottom and treads of Relentless. I discovered that all three of my backup bottles of Vallejo Matt Varnish were discolored and an odd consistency, like maybe they’d gone bad. The bit I had to use — because I’d finally exhausted my original bottle — messed up the wash and dried funny where I applied it, so it was lucky that that happened to be the least-visible spot on the whole tank, the bottom panel.

Relentless in my little drying station

I’ve almost broken off the gunner’s helmet antenna by dropping this tank several times, so there’s no way I’m resting its entire weight on that spot while it cures!

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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: final stages on Relentless

I had the day off on Friday, so I finished touch-ups on Relentless. So far my experience with vehicles — this one and my Dreadnought, so still quite limited — is that they look simple but feel like they take forever.

Touch-ups done

Unlike a Space Marine, I can’t just shade a Rhino in one go. There’s nothing to hold onto, the washes run, and everything is sticky for a little while. So stages it is!

First stage of shading: treads, wheels, and undercarriage

Honestly there’s no real reason to shade the bottom — or even paint most of it, for that matter. But I knew it would feel incomplete to me if I didn’t do the bottom.

After an hour, the bottom was dry enough to serve as my “handle” to wash the sides.

Fully shaded
Partway through layers

My stopping point on Friday night was with all the first-order layers done except for the biggie, red. That looked like an easy 1-2 hours of work, and what came next was stressing me out a bit: Do I just proceed through all of my usual highlights, like I would on a Space Marine, or do I attempt “scraped down to the bare metal” sponge-weathering on the corners and other high-use areas of the tank body?

So on Saturday I broke out my test mini, tore off a couple bits of foam from a miniature case (the extras), and tried this on my designated test mini.

Attempting some sponge weathering

I don’t think that makes enough of a difference to be worth the risk, so I’m going to file “first use of weathering” under techniques I’ll try down the road.

One side’s first layer of highlights done

Such is the power of edge highlighting that even though I’m not very good at at, the model still looks better with it than without it. Just contrast the highlighted side with the top; the difference is striking.

I wrapped up Saturday night with just the name scroll, decals, and varnish to go.

Almost there!

Come Sunday morning, I had the decals done and moved on to the name scroll. Nothing inspires awe in your foes like the name [Relentless____]. Yeah. So, back to the Rakarth Flesh and the Agrax Earthshade and then another try.

Well…shit

I’ll save the final photos for a separate post, after the varnish dries. This tank was a ton more work than I expected, but I figure I’ll get faster at it the more vehicles I paint.

Rhino color guide

All the colors are the same as any of my other Blood Angels, but there are a few little notes to add (shades are in italics, as always):

  • Headlights: Averland Sunset > Agrax Earthshade > Yriel Yellow
  • Lenses: Moot Green or Caledor Sky > Agrax Earthshade > Moot Green or Lothern Blue
  • Cog Mechanicum: Abaddon Black/Corax White > Agrax Earthshade > White Scar

As I was trying to remember which color I used to brighten up the white on the cog, I realized I’d done them the opposite of the one on Narses, my Librarian Dreadnought. His scheme came off GW’s page, the studio scheme (skull’s left side white), while this guy’s came off a web reference (skull’s left side black). Poking around, I see that the studio scheme shown in the GW store varies at least some of the time — the Skitarii Ranger 360 model, for example, has the same pattern as my Rhino’s gunner.

Ah well! It’s not the only mistake I made, and it won’t be the last. I’m still pretty happy with Relentless.

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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: adventures in hazard striping

With my Rhino, Relentless, mostly base-coated, it was time to do the hazard stripes before moving on to a second coat of red.

I love hazard stripes, especially how they pop against red, and they make sense for the rear drop-door: “stay clear or this massive slab of Ceramite will crush you and then a 10-man squad of Space Marines will grind you into jelly as they charge into battle.

Relentless

I did the hazard stripes the same way I did them on Squad Ultio: two coats of Averland Sunset on the whole surface, cover with Tamiya hobby tape (3mm this time), remove alternate strips, paint those areas Abaddon Black.

Step 1: establish the top boundary
Step 2: fully mask the surface (this angle was scientifically measured by me looking at it and going, “Yeah, that looks about right”)
Step 3: remove alternate tape strips, press remaining tape down firmly

I figured the areas with the bolts would be more likely to let paint “bleed” under them if I left them taped (since they prevent the tape from seating fully). By happy accident all three bolts fell on alternating strips.

Step 4: two thin coats of Abaddon Black

I recommend skipping the bonus steps I added: “Realize trying to use up the last of the black that’s drying out means you’ve just gobbed on quite thick paint,” and “notice you’ve missed a bit and have to backtrack.”

Step 5: peel and reveal!

Like Ultio’s stripes, they’re not perfect. But they’re better than what I can do freehand, and should be fairly easy to touch up when I reach that stage.

Step 6: Mask the top edge and paint the red around it

After painting down to the top edge, I realized I had no clear demarcation for the bottom edge. I tried a few tape lines that incorporated the door pivot/axle thingie, which is cylindrical and therefore annoying to tape up cleanly, and eventually decided that the bottom edge should align with the bottom of the frame instead.

Bonus step 8: realize you should have done the bottom edge differently to start with…
Aaaaaand done

I thought this would be a piece of cake! So much easier than wrapping a symmetrical pattern around three sides of an object, like I had to on Ultio — right? Narrator: Wrong.

But now I’ve got a pretty good template to use for my next Rhino/Razorback!

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Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Turiel and Judgment

I reorganized my pile of 40k kits and my hobby space, and when I was done the simplest option for keeping things tidy seemed to be building the remaining kits for my current 2,000-point Blood Angels army list.

I started with Turiel, a Furioso Dreadnought of the 1st Company. I also built his alternate arm (Furioso Fist and Melter) but forgot to include it in the photo. He got a plain base to differentiate him from Narses, and to give me a blank canvas for creating a little landscape around him.

Narses and Turiel

From there I moved on to my second 40k tank, the Land Raider Crusader Judgment. This thing is huge!

Judgment next to my Rhino, Relentless

Just as I did with my Rhino, I considered painting the interior but decided to seal it up instead. There’s a ton of detail in there and it’s barely visible through the (totally awesome) front doors — plus, sealing it up gave me some cool spare parts for my bits box, like the engine plate below.

The inner frame

One of my favorite details in the Land Raider kit is that every 13th tread plate is the imperial eagle, so this sentient war machine can stamp the mark of the Emperor on every world where it fights.

For the Emperor!
Starting to look like a proper tank now
Testing out the various hull options

In the photo below, Judgment is almost complete. I’m going to leave the foreground items — the pintle-mounted Multi-melta, the twin Assault Cannon, both sponson Hurricane Bolter elements, the lower sponson housings, and the sponson cameras — unglued and paint them as sub-assemblies. I’m not sure yet if I’ll glue the sponson guns or the pintle gun into place, freezing the entire tank into one immobile object, or leave them as moving parts.

Almost there

It took two full evenings just to build Judgment — and I still have decorations and a hull-top choice to make and add to it. Actually painting this beast feels like at least a two-week task.

After Judgment is assembled, though, it’s on to my final squad, some close-combat Terminators (squad name TBD), and then the two resin characters I currently have soaking in soapy water: Commander Dante and my Chaplain, Arrius.

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Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: assembling Squad Adamo

While painting May’s minis, I’m also building my June models. After my Death Company squad, I decided to tackle more jumpy boys: a squad of Assault Marines.

Piles and piles

This is the first time I’ve broken out the bits box to add things to the kit other than basing debris. Everyone’s getting a Blood Angels chapter pauldron, and I’m raiding the greeblies for belt doodads and the like.

Sergeant Adamo

As ever, I started with the sergeant, Adamo, and let the character of the squad flow from him. The Eviscerator looks amazing — I’m so glad it’s an option. And the little “leaping into flight” base elements, which come with the kit, are fantastic.

These are great sculpts, too, full of motion and energy — and somehow they manage to convey that, unlike their Death Company brethren, they’re in full command of their faculties. Compare:

Squad Adamo, 2nd Company, 7th Squad
Squad Zahariel, Death Company

Maybe it’s just me? I don’t know. But I see it and I dig it.

This kit is loaded with options, including separate backs, torsos, and backpacks to use if they’re not Jump Pack-equipped; loads of melee and ranged weapons; and a surprising amount of belt bling. I’ve got another box of them in the wings, and I can’t wait to dip into some of the other options — with an eye to intermingling the guys without knee pads between squads (provided I remember to give them the special weapons…).

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Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Death Company and fun with bases

This past weekend I found myself in a funny spot: Excluding Commander Dante, who’s still on his sprue (I’m not ready to mess with resin quite yet), 100% of my other models to paint this month were drying or curing and couldn’t be painted…but I was in the mood to do hobby stuff.

My backlog has now grown to the point where even if I build my entire current army list, I won’t be short of other things to build when assembly is what I’m in the mood to do with my hobby time — so I started in on my June painting queue. Specifically, Death Company box.

Brother Zahariel

As always, I started with the leader — except that by the rulebook, Death Company battle-brothers don’t really have one, at least not within their squads. They’re generally led by a Chaplain who can manage them on the battlefield. So what to name this squad?

I decided that it would be Squad Zahariel, in honor of former Sergeant Zahariel, a noble and long-lived Space Marine who had fallen to the Black Rage.

Kitbashing a “leaping into flight base” (with a little extra support for this one)

I knew I wanted these guys to be leaping into flight — like the Assault Squad, which includes cool little base add-ons that give them some lift — so I dipped into my bits box and came up with some scrap that would work. (Two pairs of legs are posed standing squarely on the ground, so I didn’t mess with those.)

Finding the right pieces, matching them up to the right poses, and making it all work was a lot of fun. I love this aspect of assembly, and even though it’s quite light as kitbashing goes I have to start somewhere. Baby steps!

I also managed to glue 4/5 of their jump packs on, and let their glue set for several hours, before realizing that I’d placed them about 1-2mm too low. With some wrenching and a bit of surgery I managed to sort them out, and any evidence of my screw-up is well-hidden deep in the crevice between back and pack.

Squad Zahariel, Death Company

This is a great kit, loads of fun to assemble, and it includes a wealth of options, doodads, extra shoulder pads, and awesome Chainswords. I’d gladly build a few more of these boxes.