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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: on the back 50% of Squad Karios

Even though we’ve been in isolation for three weeks now, these past couple days have felt different. Stay safe out there, everyone — and by “out there” I mean at home, if at all possible.

As ever, I fit in a bit of hobby time. With five painted in March, the rest of Squad Karios beckons. Thanks to my “soft” assembly line, they’ve both got their gold, parchment bits, and eyes done already, so last night I busted out the Abaddon Black, Rakarth Flesh for one bit I forgot, and Leadbelcher.

The heavy weapon guy is one of my favorite minis in the squad

. . . And I wrapped up around 11:00 pm having done the remaining bit of parchment and all of the black. Not much progress! But progress is progress.

One more color down

Now I just have the Leadbelcher bits and the main event, Mephiston Red on all the armor, still to go for their base coats.

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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.

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

March miniature progress

March was a productive month for me, miniature-wise: I painted 16 miniatures! As far as I can remember, this is the most figures I’ve ever painted in a single month.

  • Painted 11 Space Hulk Terminators, completing my set
  • Squad Karios: painted 5 Space Marines, primed and based 5 Space Marines
  • Squads Dolos and Ultio, Dreadnought Narses: assembled and partially based 13 models
  • Squad Cain: primed and partially based 5 Scouts

Squad Karios, 2nd Company, 1st Squad, started March on sprues and is now half done as of last night — just under the wire.

Half of Squad Karios

My 2,000-point Blood Angels army list is 50 Space Marines, 2 Dreadnoughts, 2 tanks, Commander Dante, and a Chaplain — and my backlog of other fun Blood Angels stuff for future use stands at 2 Dreadnoughts, 15 Space Marines, and a Chaplain.

At my current painting pace I’ve got a solid three months of painting just for the Marines in my list, plus the tanks/Dreads, plus my backlog; that’s got to be good for another two months, give or take. I’m looking forward to it!

Blood Angels army progress pics

I have a thread going on Twitter where I share photos of my 40k army as it reaches new milestones — full squads assembled, primed, painted, etc. Here are the photos from March:

First squad built
Two squads assembled
Three squads assembled, one of them primed and fully based
Starting to look like a little war host

I’ve never had a proper 40k army before. I started a Squat army in the mid-’90s, but never made it past one or two squads (and a like amount of games). It’s a real pleasure to be plugging away on my Blood Angels.

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

WIP it good: the “soft” assembly line

I stopped painting in pure assembly-line style (like I was doing last month), moved to two at a time, and now am experimenting with a “soft” assembly line: two on the handles, the rest of the squad nearby to make sure no paint goes to waste. Do the gold on my main two, finish it up on as many others as I can; repeat.

So far I’m digging this approach. When I finish the current two, the next two will already have several of their base coat colors in place — a nice little head start.

Two more on the handles
Working on the weekend
Several minor elements painted on the whole squad
Progress as of Sunday night — and Squad Karios all in one spot
Getting closer
Base coats: done!

At this rate there’s a decent chance I’ll have my first full Blood Angels squad completed this week!