Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

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.

Categories
Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Squad Ultio assembled and partially based

Yesterday was a busy day, but I squeezed in enough hobby time to get Squad Ultio fully assembled and partially based.

Squad Ultio, 1st Company

The 40mm bases are a joy to work with because they give me so much room for scenery. It’s hard not to go buck-wild and overwhelm the models.

I used a mix of tiny rocks, 1/4″-1/2″ slate (paid link), miscellaneous 40k bits from Ebay, and a bounty of Citadel skulls (paid link) for these guys. Like Squad Karios , I see these Terminators as being really down in the shit, fighting across the graveyard that the plains of Armageddon have become.

But I also want the Terminators to have their own feel; I picture them fighting harder targets, in amongst downed vehicles and debris. So their bases have bigger rocks and more chunks of stuff. They’ll get texture paint and tufts, too, of course.

Basing, especially coming up with what to use for each base, and thinking about their themes and role on the battlefield, is one of the most relaxing parts of working on miniatures for me — which I wasn’t expecting. I love it.

I also love the little surprises that come from assembling the figures themselves. Like the second Terminator from the left above, who I visualized as striding implacably towards his foe when I was choosing and test-fitting his parts — but who turned out to be in a more dynamic pose once I got him glued together, almost like he’s breaking into a run.

Compared to the blinged-out tactical squad I’m painting now, this kit is pretty subdued — but there’s a lot of character and dynamism to the models, more than I expected just from looking at the sprues. And I’m thrilled to have my first squad of Termies — my favorite unit in all of 40k — assembled and added to my painting queue.

Categories
Finished miniatures Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: finished two more Marines, basing scraps, color guide

I stayed up late last night putting the final highlights on two more battle-brothers of Squad Karios.

Wrapped up after 11:00 pm, back to these in the morning

Then the dog woke me up at 5:00 am, so I figured I’d start on their decals. Knees: trickier than shoulder pads! But Micro Set and Sol are great, just needed a quick second coat on one knee pad and these were good to go.

Decals done

Then it was on to varnish and Army Painter Frozen Tufts, and now two more sons of Sanguinius are finished!

Three members of Squad Karios

Bits and bobs

My stash of 40k bits was small, so I ordered a few little piles of basing stuff — rubble, scraps of other models, etc. — to jazz up some of my figures.

Scraps and clutter for basing

There’s plenty of room to play with on 40mm Terminator bases, so I added a couple pieces of scrap (and a skull) to these two members of Squad Ultio. Once I work Astrogranite Debris in around them, they should look half-buried in the plains of Armageddon.

Working on bases for Squad Ultio

Blood Angels color guide

Mostly for my own reference, here’s the colors and steps I’m using for every element of a “standard” Blood Angel (shades are in italics; everything after the shade, generally, is a layer paint). This is based on — and almost entirely matches — Citadel’s current “parade ready” paint steps for this chapter.

  • 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/white cloth: Rakarth Flesh > Agrax Earthshade > Pallid Wych Flesh > White Scar
  • Magenta: Screamer Pink > Carroburg Crimson (skipped on gems) > Pink Horror > Emperor’s Children
  • Eyes: Moot Green > Agrax Earthshade > Moot Green
  • Second Company Yellow: Flash Gitz Yellow

Plus the base:

  • Terrain: Astrogranite Debris > Drakenhof Nightshade > Grey Seer (drybrush)
  • Skulls: Corax White > Agrax Earthshade > Corax White (drybrush)
  • Rocks: Grey Seer > Agrax Earthshade > 50/50 Corax White/Grey Seer (drybrush)
  • Edge: Dawnstone

All paints are thinned with a bit of water, including layers, and at the moment I generally do one coat. I also wash the whole surface on the armor, rather than just the cracks.

For the Emperor and Sanguinius!

Categories
Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Narses assembled, maybe screwed up my base wash

Tonight I wrapped up assembly on Narses, my Librarian Dreadnought.

Narses mostly assembled

This is a really cool kit! I can’t wait to paint this guy.

Narses

Narses is actually still in seven pieces: torso, arms x2, legs, feet x2, base — I’ve carefully balanced him for a photo, but he’s not glued together yet. I’m going to paint him in pieces and I may leave his arms unglued; I want to see if my miniature storage solution, which hasn’t arrived yet, can accommodate him with his arms attached before I make that call.

More basing

After Drakenhof Nightshade wash on the left, before on the right

I can see a difference between these two, but it’s not the difference I was expecting; I may have fucked up here.

The texture paint is pebbly, which makes sense, so I focused on really saturating it with my wash . . . which, as I type it, doesn’t sound like how I’d usually do a wash: drag across the details, letting it naturally sink into the cracks. So far the net effect here look less like a wash and more like I just used a darker texture paint.

It’s not unpleasant — I like the color — but I don’t know if it will add shadows and depth. It looks like I’ve eliminated the mid-tones.

Squad Karios, all washed up

Next stop is drybrushing the ground in Grey Seer, and then the rocks in a 50/50 blend of Grey Seer and Corax White and the skulls in straight Corax White. We’ll see if the finished product turns out anything like what’s in my head and/or what’s in the White Dwarf Basing Cookbook, but I’m not optimistic.

Categories
Miniatures Painting tools Warhammer 40k

Cooking up a basing recipe for my Blood Angels

I’ve got a basing recipe in mind for my Blood Angels army, and now I have all the components:

All in one place, this seems like a lot!

The basic concept is “plains of Armageddon” (an important planet in the 40k universe), which conjures up a sort of Moonscape in my mind — a wasteland of heavy gray dust and dying grass, site of a thousand battles.

This is a spin on my preliminary idea, which I posted about last week, now organized a bit more:

  • White Dwarf 161 (Nov. 2016) for its Paint Splatter column, which features the Basing Cookbook
  • This winters SEO video on using texture paints
  • Texture: Astrogranite Debris
  • Wash: Drakenhof Nightshade
  • Drybrush: Grey Seer
  • Base edge: Eshin Grey (or maybe Mechanicus Standard Grey? not sure yet)
  • Citadel Skulls (paid link) for clutter
  • Gale Force Nine Rocky Basing Grit
  • Army Painter Frozen Tufts for grass
  • Blunt tweezers for applying tufts
  • Citadel Texture Spreader (paid link) for the texture paint
  • White glue for tufts
  • Superglue for rocks

I also have Citadel plastic glue (for skulls) and appropriate wash and drybrush brushes.

As an aside, that box of skulls sounded pretty silly until I got a good look at its contents online.

So, so many skulls

They’re to scale, modeled to GW’s usual high quality, and staggering in their variety: small, large, different species, fresh, half-destroyed, just jawbones, etc. It’s a really cool box of skulls.

Okay, back to the base itself. A deep gray base with dark blue notes sounds like it will contrast really well with my predominantly red miniatures, while also not being too similar to the predominantly black figures (Death Company, Chaplain, etc.). Green is too cheery, brown sounds easy to mess up and wind up with the plains of Poopageddon, and snow is both too Christmas-like with red Marines and — if applied badly — can look like the floor of a porno theater.

Step 1: cut a hole in the box

There are a million schools of thought on how to base, when to do the base vs. the miniature itself, etc. — basically (hah!) every aspect of this process. I just need to start somewhere, so I’ll be trying this route:

  1. Assemble the model and glue it to the base
  2. Glue on rocks and skulls to suit
  3. Prime the whole thing white, mini and base
  4. Paint the rocks/skulls/etc., including wash and drybrush
  5. Apply texture paint with the spreader
  6. Wash and drybrush the texture paint
  7. Wipe the base edge clean before it dries
  8. Paint the miniature
  9. Touch everything up as needed
  10. Paint the edge of the base
  11. Varnish the whole thing, mini and base
  12. Glue on tufts

In that winters SEO video, he glues the rocks to the texture paint before it dries, rather than to the base itself prior to applying paint. I’m doing it this way so I can get primer on my rocks and skulls, rather than painting them separately and then adding them to the base.

Sitting here writing this, I feel like I’m writing a post partly to avoid taking a step that makes me a bit nervous and actually basing a miniature. So I’m going to stop writing and go do that.

Categories
Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: basing Squad Karios, part one

I’ve got a post queued up for later this week about my basing recipe, but tonight I tucked into the first step. Gotta see if this works, and the best way to do that is to try it.

Sergeant Karios was the first model I built in my Blood Angels army, and he was my starting point tonight as well. (My plan is to paint him first, too; screw trying out new techniques on an “expendable” generic Space Marine.)

Sergeant Karios, who could easily have killed that Ork using only his nipples
From the back

I’m using a little tub of Gale Force Nine Rocky Basing Grit and a box of Citadel Skulls (paid link), and gluing them down now rather than later so I can hit them with a coat of primer at the same time as the rest of the miniature. Superglue for the rocks, plastic glue for the skulls.

Squad Karios

It’s tempting to go wild with rocks and skulls, but 1) I have a concept in mind, and “wild” doesn’t suit it; and 2) I suspect it’s a bit like blood effects, which tend to look overdone about 90% of the time.

Advancing on an objective

Like base-coating, they don’t look amazing at this stage. They look a bit forced and artificial. But my hope is that once I apply texture paint — which will soften the edges of the rocks and skulls, and inevitably cover bits of them — followed by a wash, a drybrush, and some tufts, they’ll look natural and interesting. We shall see!

Tomorrow, when the light is better, I start priming these bad boys.

Categories
Miniature painting Miniatures Painting tools

Musings on miniature basing

With a pile of Blood Angels to paint, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’m going to base them. I’ve tried four methods over the years, with mixed results.

Number one is just painting the base black. This is boring. I no longer own any of my minis that are old enough to have been painted this way.

Learning from that, I glued little rocks to my mech bases (1997-2007).

Fuck these little rocks

Those little rocks were a learning experience. They look okay, sometimes even good, but they fall off all the time. I probably didn’t use enough glue, and I definitely didn’t paint them. They likely did get a coat of sealant, but it wasn’t enough to keep them from being annoying.

For the MERCS mini below (2010), I used lots of glue, fewer rocks, larger rocks, and painted and sealed them. I also painted the flat bits of the base dark green. These look pretty good and they never fall off, but the flat green bits are uninspiring.

Tiny rocks, evolved

The Terminators and Genestealers I’ve been working on since 2009 are all molded with bases (left) or lack them entirely (right). These are dead simple, easy to paint, and of course never fall off.

Molded bases (and single-position miniatures)

For my Blood Angels, I was planning to use a thick layer of white glue, basing sand, paint (base, wash, drybrush), and sealant. But a bit of reading and video watching made me wonder about the durability of that approach — and I don’t want little bits of sand coming off everywhere.

This excellent review of Citadel’s texture paint range (now renamed/merged with their technical line) on Age of Miniatures got me interested in using texture paints instead. GW also provides a neat free PDF showing some of the different approaches you can take with these paints.

Based (hah!) on the AoM review, it sounds like the thin and thick non-crackle options both offer sterling durability, and the thick gives you the most options in terms of washing and drybrushing for a base that pops a bit. I’m drawn to Astrogranite Debris because it looks like it will contrast nicely with a sea of Blood Angels red armor.

A possible basing recipe

Combining the Astrogranite Debris base shown in the above PDF (Astrogranite Debris > Drakenhof Nightshade wash > Longbeard Grey drybrush) with the image in this Spikey Bits post for the Plains of Armageddon (which adds the now-OOP Mordheim Turf tufts, i.e. pale grass, and little skulls) gives me a recipe with which to experiment:

  1. Astrogranite Debris base coat
  2. Drakenhof Nightshade wash
  3. Grey Seer (or similar) drybrush
  4. Add little skulls, rocks, and tufts to taste
  5. Paint the edge black or medium-to-dark gray

In my head that looks really cool with a little red dude standing on it. Add that to the still-a-WIP Faceless Strike Force concept for my Blood Angels army, apply some campaign decals, and it’s starting to feel like the kernel of a solid theme.

After I commented on how great his bases looked, a fellow minis painter on Twitter recommended this winters SEO video on using texture paint to base minis — and what a great recommendation that was. Different colors, but this is more or less exactly where my brain was heading; now I have a tutorial to follow.