One of my resolutions when I started my 40k Blood Angels army was to resist any temptation to repaint earlier minis as my skills improved. But, like all good resolutions, this one met two fuzzy situations and needed to be bent a bit.
The situations were Squad Adamo and my Land Raider, both of which had overdone orange highlights bringing them down. So not a case of repainting something from seven months ago that represented my best work at the time, but rather a case of retouching models done quite recently that don’t look as good as the ones I did before and after them — and only tackling one specific, easily fixable thing.
So on October 22nd I retouched their highlights by painting over about 50% of the Fire Dragon Bright spots with Evil Sunz Scarlet (the first-layer highlight color), dotting in a couple spots of orange as needed, and then re-varnishing the areas I’d repainted. Easy-peasy, no worries, and now they’ll stop haunting my dreams.
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.)
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):
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.
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)
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.
Feo was fun to build, but I was equally excited to work on his base — because at a staggering 90mm wide, it presented a huge canvas (relatively speaking) to tell a little story. So I decided to tell a two-part story.
Part one is the back, where I added the remnants of an overrun Imperial Guard post.
It continues on the front, with the remains of one of the Marines who came to Armageddon to assist a failing Guard mission (sorry, Astra Militarum — my brain automatically thinks “Imperial Guard”). When I get texture paint all packed in around him, I’m hoping it’ll look like his corpse is half-buried in the dust, with just his back, one Power Fist, and bleached skull visible.
And given that one theme of my army is “everyone wears a helmet,” how did this poor Marine die? From a head wound…because he wasn’t wearing a helmet. (It’s hard to make out, but his skull has a crack down the front.)
Mmm, slimy poop Chiclets.
The sandbags were outside my wheelhouse (nothing in my army is brown…) and required some fumbling, including a full repaint and re-shading job. I eventually realized that it didn’t need a painted-on layer, just base > wash > drybrush > drybrush — and the recipe I used for the stone ruins on my Assault Squad’s bases. Hopefully they read as sandbags rather than stone.
Next up, adding the texture paint — and building a convincing hill under and around my Ultramarine. This base swallowed the remnants of my second bottle of Astrogranite Debris and a good chunk of a fresh one, too.
I had to break up the line of the hill (which is going to take like a week to dry…), so I made little terraces for tufts and marked them in MS Paint. We’ll see if that does the trick!
I’m not sure how convincing the hill is, and I wish I’d mounted a few skulls on posts to add some variety (building the level up to the skulls, like I did with the fallen Marine’s skull). But I test-tufted it, and held a Marine up in front of it in the same position, to see if it looked like there could be the bottom of a dude under there — and it does seem to work.
Redemptor Dreadnought base color guide
Feo’s scenic base uses the following for the non-standard elements (skulls, etc.), as always mostly based on GW’s Parade Ready recipes:
Ultramarine armor: Macragge Blue > Nuln Oil > Calgar Blue > Grey Seer drybrush (dust/weathering)
Astra Militarum sandbags: Mournfang Brown > Agrax Earthshade > 2:1 Kislev Flesh:Mournfang Brown drybrush > Grey Seer drybrush
For the Ultramarine’s pauldron decal, I applied it just like normal but then varnished it before doing the dust/weathering drybrush layer; I worried that drybrushing might tear the decal. When I’m ready to varnish the whole model, that bit will get a second coat (which is fine).
I love how huge this model is! I can’t wait to be able to do the full line-up: old Marine, Primaris Marine, refrigerator Dread, Contemptor, Redemptor.
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
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
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.
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.
I’m driving pretty hard at wrapping up Barakiel before the end of the month. Will it happen? We shall see!
I’ve begun to notice that after the base is done (which I always enjoy), the next two steps — base-coating and touch-ups — often bog me down. I drag my heels with them, and then when they’re done, and I shade the minis, I’ve gotten my momentum back. After that tipping point, it’s a steady, enjoyable journey to a finished unit.
That was true with Squad Zahariel, which was so fussy at first (black on white primer!) but has turned out to be perhaps my best work in 2020. (I finished them on October 22.) These guys feature my best blood drops (which is good, because there are a ton of them!) and my deftest highlights. They’re the best I can turn out at my current skill level.
I’d intended to replicate the studio paint scheme, which has every skull done as ancient bone — and that would have been in keeping with the Death Company. But I forgot and base-coated the skulls gold, so I decided to go with it and finished them out as gold. I like how they turned out — and I had so much fun painting them that I broke a months-long streak of not ordering new 40k minis and procured a second box of Death Company. (Maybe I’ll try bone-colored skulls on them.)
Next up, a pause of sorts: I’m repainting the highlights on Squad Adamo and my Land Raider before finishing the Termies I currently have on my table. It’s going to be worth it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I haven’t taken a full-army photo since August — sounds like it’s time for another one!
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:
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.
Reflecting on the time I spent painting Squad Adamo — which I think stretched all the way from August to the beginning of October! — I quite enjoyed doing their hazard stripes. I love hazard stripes on Chain Swords, so how could I not go wild with these dudes?
I also had a blast working on their bases. The elevated scenery elements in the kit are great, and they were fun to work into my basing routine.
My soundtrack for these guys was Ghostmaker, the second volume in Dan Abnett’s series about Ghaunt’s Ghosts, narrated by Toby Longworth. Good stuff!
I’m experimenting with shining a high-CRI flashlight into my lightbox from the front so the top-down lighting providing by the box itself doesn’t throw the minis into shadow. It seems to work pretty well.
Squad Adamo isn’t my finest work, but despite dragging my feet I did enjoy painting them. And after shooting these photos, I remembered that I could just touch up Mr. Tiger Stripes right on top of his varnish, and then varnish those bits again, so I did that.
A mere 11 figures now stand between me and my first finished 40k army: Squad Barakiel and Squad Zahariel, both of which are fully based and spot-painted.