Kill Team Miniature painting Miniatures Tyranids Warhammer 40k WIP it good

Testing Hive Fleet Balaur color schemes

After an evening of assembling Genestealers and thinking about paint schemes, I spent the rest of last night leafing through back issues of White Dwarf for Tyranid content.

My initial idea for Hive Fleet Balaur’s color scheme was the bi pride flag: pink, purple, blue. Along with the symbolism and the colors, I also like that it includes 2/3 of the classic Genestealer colors.

But the more pictures of gorgeously painted Tyranids I looked at, the more I found myself drawn to Hive Fleet Leviathan’s paint scheme: off-white body with unsettling pink undertones, like a snake’s belly; deep purple carapace; and dark red claws/weapons. No surprise from GW, but that is an outstanding color scheme with fantastic contrast and perfectly matched tones.

This gorgeous spin on Kronos on DakkaDakka gave me the idea to try green weapons/claws. A CatgutPainting video on patterned Tyranid paint schemes sold me on mottling, which I first saw on Javier Del Rio’s stunning Hive Tyrant in White Dwarf #463:

Miniature painted and photographed by Javier Del Rio, from White Dwarf #463

So I started pondering making Balaur a splinter fleet of Leviathan, and using Leviathan’s colors as my starting point. GW has done Leviathan at least two ways for their studio paint jobs, so I blended ideas from both of them for the body and decided to test Wraithbone base > 1:3 Screamer Pink:Lahmian Medium shade.

Still thinking about bright colors (something I haven’t yet done for 40k) and wanting to see how that would look next to a vibrant purple carapace (with pink dots/mottling still in my brain) and medium-to-bright green claws, I slapped some paint onto a piece of terrain. (I’ll be repainting this area whenever I circle back to terrain, and conveniently it’s already primed with Wraithbone spray.)

Here’s Wraithbone base coat, the Screamer/Lahmian wash, Xereus Purple, and Warpstone Glow.

Test colors

And here it is with a quick and dirty Screaming Skull drybrush over the body color, bringing the body closer to Leviathan:

Getting closer to “snake’s underbelly” whitish-pink

Now to test out mottling the carapace. I did some research and found that some folks do this with a toothpick or a dotting tool; this Doctor Faust tutorial is a good demonstration of one approach. My kiddo has a stash of dotting tools, so I borrowed a few different sizes.

Small and his buddy Real Small

Here’s a Genestealer Purple base mottled with Genestealer Purple and then Fulgrim Pink, with purple done using the larger of the tools above and pink done with the smaller one:


Genestealer Purple isn’t much of a contrast (although for adding depth to mottling, that’s probably good), but Fulgrim Pink sure pops. It’s also clear I’m not good at this yet! But I do like the effect.

I threw Khorne Red into the mix and polled my wife and kiddo, and we all liked both options (red or green) but agreed they each give the model a different feel.

(optometrist voice) Green, or red? One, or two?

The more I look at the toxic green, the more I like it. The Leviathan lineage is clear from the identical body color and the mottled variation on the carapace color, the toxic green (coupled with the mottling) cements Balaur as its own thing, and the whole scheme should contrast nicely with my basing recipe: Stirland Mud texture paint, Reikland Fleshshade wash, Astorath Red drybrush (from the ever-amazing White Dwarf Basing Cookbook in the November 2016 issue).

Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Musings on magnetizing minis and drilling barrels

Back when I got into minis in earnest this past February, I considered magnetization and boring out gun barrels, both of which share the same tool: a pin vise or hand drill. Given the outlay of cash and time to get an army rolling, and my long history of false starts and aborted attempts at getting into this hobby, adding another step (time) that required more tools (money) seemed like a bad idea — and one that might kill my momentum.

I’ve carefully guarded and maintained that momentum for eight months now, and occasionally considered magnetization and barrel-drilling but decided that the time wasn’t right. I also reasoned that if I encountered a need for a different bit of wargear on a unit in the future, since I’m building an army for the pleasure of it, buying that unit again and assembling it a new way wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Enter Moonkrumpa

But as I got my Deathskulls Ork army, Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas, off the ground, I stumbled across the rules for Moonkrumpa’s two special pieces of wargear, the Tellyport Blasta and the Kustom Force Field. With no clear date when I’ll actually be able to play 40k, I’ve held off on reading the rules; they’ll just fade away before I get a chance to play. And I make my choices almost entirely based on the Rule of Cool, so that’s worked out fine so far.

Somehow, though (probably by browsing DakkaDakka), I’ve picked up enough to understand that the KFF is probably a much better choice, mechanically, than the Blasta — despite the Blasta looking cooler. And these two parts both have a flat bottom and sit atop a single flat surface, making them perfect candidates for magnetization.

Further, this isn’t just a random unit in my Ork army — this is my first 40k character with a backstory, and he’s the leader of my entire Waaagh!. I’m invested in playing with Moonkrumpa in a way that I’m not invested in playing with Blood Angel X or Ork Y.

I’d also previously set aside my Contemptor Dread, whose weapon arm uses a ball joint that must be glued into place (rather than a peg, like the refrigerator Dreads, which allows for easy arm-swapping), to consider whether it’s worth delving into drilling and magnets for him. I have no plans to buy a second Contemptor (it’s kind of a bland kit), and in any case they can be expensive and difficult to track down.

So that gives me two units that both have what looks to be a single fairly simple spot on each that could benefit from magnetization — one of which is My Guy, to boot.

I’ve got a pin vise, some bits, and a mix of 2mm x 1mm and 3mm x 1mm magnets in the mail, and I’ve been doing some homework. There’s an awesome article on DakkaDakka, Magnetising: a Report, Tips and Tricks from a Newbie, that’s going to be my guide. I’ve also found some excellent tips on Reddit, notably about marking magnets and using bits of sprue to simplify the process and drill pressure, marking magnets, and pilot holes.

I’ll probably bore out a spare Bolter to see how that looks, and if it looks good I’ll have a minor existential crisis and then break down and drill every mini I’ve already painted…or maybe I’ll skip that, and just drill going forwards. We shall see!