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Deathskulls Orks Miniature painting Miniatures Painting tools Warhammer 40k

Into the badlands: testing an Orky base recipe

I’m pretty sure I’ll like the basing recipe I’m using for my Deathskulls Orks, which comes straight from White Dwarf #161 (also the source of the recipe I use for my Blood Angels), but a bit less certain about the tufts. So I figured I’d do up a test base and see how it looks.

Armageddon Dust base coat

Fresh and creamy

I use the skinny end of the Citadel texture spreader for Astrogranite Debris, which is much thicker than this stuff. For Armageddon Dust, I’m liking the wide, flexible end — it smears on really easily.

Dry and ready for shading

No surprise, I guess, but this stuff dries much faster than Astrogranite Debris. There’s a chunky version of the Armageddon color, Armageddon Dunes, but I wanted the flatter bases on these guys to contrast with the hillier ones on my Blood Angels. With less aggregate in the mix, it dries faster.

Agrax Earthshade wash

Taken after the wash had mostly dried

It looks much too dark now, but I remember that stage from my “plains of Armageddon” bases. Until it’s drybrushed, it ain’t gonna look right.

This dries quickly, too — so quickly that I think I might be able to take a base from bare plastic to finished in a single day, rather than needing 1-2 overnight drying sessions like I do with my Blood Angels’ bases.

Tyrant Skull drybrush

Not too shabby!

Mine looks a bit darker than GW’s, but close enough — and I like the look.

Right after I took this photo, I realized that I’d never primed this base. D’oh! That probably explains why it looks darker: it’s riding on black, not white.

Baneblade base edge

That’ll do, Baneblade

Ignoring the crappiness of the edge (no primer…), that looks solid! Same tonal step-down as the grey-to-grey shift between Astrogranite Debris and Dawnstone on Sergeant Dolos’ base, which is exactly what I was after.

Army Painter tuft options

My brain said swamp tufts would look good; kind of a mix of green and brown. I like the contrast between my Angels’ gray bases and pale brown tufts, so brown/badlands bases with green tufts — though deliberately not bright, heavy, or totally green — seemed like a good route.

But I also wanted to try Army Painter’s winter tufts, which look more badlands-y — and look like they could pair well with swamp tufts. A mix of grasses could be nifty.

Swamp tuft
Winter tuft

They’re quite similar, as both are pale brown and black — just with the swamp tuft replacing some of the winter tuft’s brown with a splash of green.

I showed this test base to my wife, Alysia, and she said she had trouble telling the two tufts apart at arm’s length. I totally agree — in fact, I routinely forgot which one was which while writing this post.

Winter (left) and swamp (right) tufts

Gun to my head, I’d pick the swap tufts — my original idea — because they do stand out more clearly from the terrain.

But I like them both, and I like them together. Unlike my Blood Angels, who are fighting their way across a plain that has been leached of all life, my Orks are on a normal planet — so it makes sense that the grass might not all be the same color. Unless one definitively looks better with an actual Ork standing next to it, I’ll probably just use both types at random.

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

WIP it good: Squad Karios bases, ZEM brushes, Citadel texture paints, Squad Dolos assembled

I know I’m posting a lot these days — I’ve been blogging for almost 15 years: posting twice a day, for one person, is a lot! — but I’m deep in the joy of this extended moment, of being a novice miniature painter falling in love with this hobby. Everything is new for me right now, even little things — like today’s new little things, blending paints and following a basing recipe.

Plus, you know, the whole family is stuck at home — like yours probably is, if you’re reading this around the post date and not years later. Not to make light of the situation, but late February has turned out to be a serendipitous time to get back into painting miniatures.

The larch

Before diving into today’s WIP post, I want to wish everyone reading this well. I hope you and your families are safe and weathering the COVID-19 pandemic as well as possible.

Yore isn’t a news blog, or really a serious blog at all most of the time. It’s a creative outlet, it’s my hobby space, it’s something I work on when it’s fun. I figure you’ve got COVID-19 stuff coming at you from a million angles, so I’m going to keep doing what I do here: talking way too much about miniatures.

Stay safe out there!

Infiltrators, assemble!

After giving myself what I suspect was a glue-induced headache last night, I changed up my assembly routine a bit. Instead of trimming and gluing in small stages, which is more fun, I’m trimming every piece and then assembling them all at once.

The final four Infiltrators

I’m also sticking newly-glued minis in the bathroom with the window open and the fart fan running. So here’s a bathroom shot of Squad Dolos, fully assembled:

Squad Dolos

Sergeant Dolos is front left; the sub-squad leader (pointing hand) is back center. Since my current Blood Angels list doesn’t have room in it for either of the Infiltrators’ special units, the comms guy or the Helix Adept, I had to get a bit creative with the mini that the kit assumes will be the comms guy. (Weirdly, you don’t get the Helix Adept mini in this kit; it’s only in the Shadowspear box, I believe.) I used two Incursor arms, which are included because this kit lets you build either; he’s the sub-squad leader.

ZEM brushes

I also picked up some inexpensive brushes, a ZEM detail set (paid link), since I’m still pretty bad at taking care of my brushes. I’m getting better! But I’m still not great. These are under $2 each, as compared to a $5-$6 Army Painter brush — and available for delivery, which is handy since my family is sheltering in place for who knows how long.

My new ZEM brushes: 0, 10/0, 2, and 3/0

I used the 0 today and quite liked it. It’s got more bristle tension than some of my other similarly sized brushes, which is handy. After a short painting session, though (just skulls and rocks on 10 bases), the tip looked like this:

From what I’ve read, that “tip curl” is a hallmark of cheap brushes in general and cheap synthetic brushes in particular. Still not a bad brush for the price, but I’m now doubting how much I’ll like the finer-tipped ones — since a curl in those can really wreck detail work.

Basing Squad Karios

My first squad has a post tag of its own (they all do; so far that’s Dolos and Cain), in case you want to follow their journey from box of plastic to fearsome painting Space Marine infantry. Today’s step on that journey, now that their primer is cured, is to paint the little rocks and skulls I glued onto their bases and then apply texture paint.

Sergeant Karios, my test pilot

I don’t have a medium gray in my paint stash at the moment, and I want these rocks to be lighter than the texture paint (Astrogranite Debris) but darker than the drybrush color I’m going to use (Grey Seer). So: it’s blending time!

I did a 50:50 blend of Corax White and Mechanicus Standard Grey, thinned it with a bit of water, and went to town.

Rocks: done!

I use a dry palette, so I had to mix up a new batch after about five guys — which is fun, because the little variations in my batches will ensure that my rocks don’t all look like they came from Rocks ‘R’ Us. It tickles me to no end that the best way to get actual rocks to look like they belong with a miniature is . . . to paint them to look like rocks.

Next up were the skulls, in Corax White, followed by a quick Agrax Earthshade wash on them and the rocks.

Rocks and skulls: done

And after that, the texture paint. I gather than Citadel has reformulated this stuff in the past few years, and merged it into their Technical line (it’s no longer actually called Texture), with one of the results being that you can apply it with a brush. But as soon as I opened my pot of it, I was glad I had the Citadel Texture Spreader (paid link): the Astrogranite Debris is a thick, slightly dry paste.

I used the small end of the spreader for all of these. The large end looks ideal for wider bases, but on these I needed the little paddle.

Sergeant Karios

This stuff is fun. Like, really fun. I’m applying it now so I can wash and drybrush without ruining my minis’ legs, but lots of folks apply it last. Using the tiny end of the spreader I was able to manipulate the paint easily enough that I’d have felt just as comfortable doing with a fully painted mini.

After each one, I ran my finger around the edge of the base to corral any loose grit. (Once the whole mini is done I’ll paint the base edges, of course.)

Three down

This paint also feels like cheating. It’s a bit like the magic that occurs when you apply a wash to a base-coated miniature — poof, it suddenly looks a million times better.

Squad Karios, set to dry overnight

Even having not done the finishing steps yet (wash the texture paint > drybrush it and the rocks/skulls > possibly highlight the skulls > add tufts), these are already the best-looking bases I’ve ever done. Miles ahead of my past efforts with just glue and little rocks — and that’s 100% down to this paint. I love this stuff!

That’s probably it for tonight’s hobby session — but damn, this one felt good. As a proof of concept for my “plains of Armageddon” basing recipe, the rocks don’t stand out as much as I’d like — though I’m betting a nice light-colored drybrush will help — but otherwise I’m calling this concept proven. I can’t wait to see what it looks like after the whole process is complete!

Categories
Blood Angels Space Marines 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.