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My 2020 in miniature painting

In 2020, I became a miniature-painter. Prior to February, I was a guy who sometimes painted miniatures and generally didn’t especially enjoy it. But this year I painted more minis than I had in my 30+ years of sporadic painting prior to 2020 — almost twice as many, in fact. So I’m still a beginner, in many (many!) ways, but not quite as a green as I was before.

All of the miniatures I painted in 2020

Before I get into stats and silly stuff I kept track of, though, I want to pause to write about the pandemic.

Yore isn’t a news or current events blog (there are many better places to go for that sort of info and content), so I haven’t really blogged about the Covid-19 pandemic. This is one of my refuges, and I hope that perhaps it’s been one of yours.

The toll this virus has taken is staggering: over 340,000 dead in the US alone. More than 418,000 Americans died in World War II; that we’re likely to match that total before herd immunity is reached, and with so many of these deaths being preventable, is heartbreaking.

If you’ve lost someone this year, my heart goes out to you. I can’t imagine what that must be like, in the midst of all of this. If you’ve lost your job, your peace of mind, or any measure of stability, I am so sorry for that loss. Whoever you are, reading this right now, I hope things improve for you and yours.

Miniatures by the numbers

In 2020 I finished painting the following models (I’m not counting assembled, primed, or partially painted minis — just varnished and ready for play):

  • Blood Angels (56):
    • 35 classic Space Marines
    • 10 Terminators
    • 5 Primaris Space Marines
    • 1 Land Raider
    • 1 Rhino
    • 2 Dreadnoughts
    • 2 Teleport Homers
  • Deathskulls Orks, Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas (22):
    • 10 Ork Boyz
    • 1 Nob
    • 10 Gretchin
    • 1 Killa Kan
  • Space Hulk (15):
    • 12 Terminators
    • 3 objectives
  • Terrain (4):
    • 1 medium/large Manufactorum piece
    • 3 small Manufactorum pieces
  • Grand total: 97 miniatures

A full quarter of my output was in December, when I set a personal record: 26 miniatures in one month. I know that’s small potatoes for dedicated hobbyists, but it’s a lot for me!

My overall favorite miniature that I painted in 2020 is also my last one of the year: Mukkit, my first Killa Kan. It’s not just recency bias, either; I poured everything I’ve learned about painting into this guy.

Mukkit the Killa Kan

I got out the first miniature I finished in 2020, Brother Scipio from Space Hulk (2/27), and threw them in the lightbox together for a first/last comparison shot:

My first (L) and last minis (R) of 2020

My MVP brush for the year, the Citadel S Layer — which I bought before learning that animal-hair brushes were a thing — finally died at the end of December. I replaced it with a Princeton Velvetouch size 0 Round, an excellent synthetic brush with similar characteristics. This size has become my workhorse, handling everything from edge highlights to base-coating details to eyes.

I spent about 10 months painting 2,200+ points of Blood Angels (November 2020)

I learned a lot about painting this year. I still have a lot to learn, and a lot to continue improving upon. Painting was a real source of joy for me in 2020. Capturing that joy and that learning process here, and hopefully in ways that might be useful to other painters, has been a lot of fun as well.

I like tracking stuff

A few other stats I’ve kept track of:

  • Hobby streak: From the day I started painting again to the end of the year, I maintained an unbroken hobby streak of 314 days. Doing at least a little bit of assembly/priming/painting every day played a huge role in keeping me motivated and moving, and in getting this many minis done.
  • Hand-washing: Since mid-March, I’ve recited my Covid-19 hand-washing mantra — the opening narration for Star Trek: The Next Generation — approximately 950 times. (I don’t, like, log this or anything; I’m backing into my total based on an average of 3x a day since March 12, when we went into isolation.)
  • Audiobooks: Having gotten into audiobooks at the same time as 40k, and explicitly as an accompaniment to painting, I listened to 15 excellent 40k books this year (almost all of them by my favorite author/narrator pairing, Dan Abnett and Toby Longworth). Favorite titles include Ravenor (Ravenor v.1), Necropolis (Gaunt’s Ghosts v.3), and Brothers of the Snake.
  • Movies: I watched 183 movies, 44 of which were 2020 releases. Birds of Prey was my favorite 2020 film, and the last thing I saw in the theater; I hit four viewings by year’s end. (I log and comment on every movie I’ve seen on Letterboxd.)
  • Music: I listened to 52 hours of music, all on Spotify; genre-wise, hip-hop and electronica were my top two. My favorite 2020 releases were Birds of Prey: The Album (various artists), HOUSE OF ZEF (Die Antwoord), and BE (BTS), and dang if that isn’t a decent snapshot of my musical tastes.
  • RPGs: I played 87 RPG sessions, 27 of which were solo. I only played one 2020 release, Brindlewood Bay; it’s a hoot. Unusually, it’s the first game I can remember that both of my groups are playing at the same time.
  • Blogging: I wrote 166 blog posts, about 40% of my total output here on Yore since 2012. 2020 also marks the year when Yore crossed the tipping point from being primarily about tabletop RPGs (166 posts as of December 8) to being primarily about minis and my hobby journey (the 167th minis post was on December 8).

Here’s to 2021

While I doubt we’ll get “back to normal” in 2021, I think things will start to look up in the spring and summer, and playing 40k seems like it could happen next winter. (I’m last in line for the vaccine, as I should be, and my family’s bubble, distancing, mask usage, and other precautions don’t seem likely to change for months.) But there’s ample reason to hope for a better year, and hope for it I do!

Thank you for reading Yore. Stay safe out there.

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Deathskulls Orks Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Final miniature of 2020: Mukkit, a Killa Kan

With an hour to spare, I finished a wild push — a week worth of painting in about two days — and wrapped up my final miniature of 2020: Mukkit, one of the Killa Kans in my Deathskulls Ork army.

This is the best miniature I’ve ever painted. It incorporates everything I’ve learned this year, plus a couple of techniques I haven’t tried before, and it features the best highlights I’ve ever done. (I’m not saying it’s amazing, just frankly assessing it against my output to date.)

Light it up like dynamite

I listened to so much BTS in November and December, often while painting, that it’s only appropriate to lead with a BTS lyric (from “Dynamite” on their album BE).

Mukkit, “leader” of Mukkit’s Murda Mob
Left side (Kan Klaw)
Rear view
Right side (Big Shoota)

Plus a casual shot for good measure:

Ready to do the Macarena

Orks being Orks, the 22 minis I’ve painted so far bring me to a whopping…208 points. Down the road, when I paint my Morkanaut, I’ll get to experience a massive completion bump (+340 points, if memory serves).

WIP it good

I don’t usually combine posts for finished minis with WIP photos, but for Mukkit I did a sort of time lapse — and it turned out to be the clearest and most complete set of photos of my process that I’ve done so far. Mukkit was a genuine sprint, although I didn’t speed-paint him; I just did more painting in fewer days than normal.

12/29

I primed Mukkit on 12/28 and started painting him in earnest on the 29th. I wanted to book him by the end of the year, and it seemed doable.

Primed, scenery washed
Partially base-coated
Texture paint applied

This was my first time painting a larger unit with Citadel’s XL handle (which I just got recently), and it’s night and day compared to holding the base. I can’t believe I waited this long!

12/30

Base complete, base coat done
Touch-ups completed
Washed/shaded

12/31

My first time really pushing for thinner (narrower) highlights

In hindsight, the moment I decided to commit to using thinner lines for my edge highlights heralded a sea change. Now that I know I can paint more delicate highlights, and can see the direct line of improvement from the start of the year to the end, I suspect I’m going to use more thin lines in the future.

Fully highlighted; were this a Blood Angel, I’d be done at this point
Grids in place for my checks

Just imagine a photo of my weathering steps here, because I forgot to take one.

And at 11:00 pm on New Year’s Eve, done!

The lighter blue I used for Mukkit’s Klaw — as part of my unifying theme of every model in this army having one blue hand — doesn’t look as different from the other blue parts as I’d hoped, but it is a bit clearer in person.

The Killa Kan kit is amazing. Every part is swappable between Kans, and many parts are shared with the Deff Dread kit, adding even more customizability. There’s a ton of room to add personality in the assembly stage — and the painting stage is just as fun. These models are silly and dark in just the right measure and mixture, and they’re one of my favorite 40k kits.

Up next is probably one of the two Deff Dreads in my current list; I’ve got a three-armed big dude on my desk, mostly still on the sprue. With three Kans, two Dreads, and a Morkanaut (plus “Ork Terminators,” the Meganobz and Big Mek in Mega Armour), this army is full of what I love: big stompy things.

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Deathskulls Orks Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Killa Kan color guide

Happy new year! I’ve got a little flurry of posts planned, and this one happened to be ready first.

My recipes for Deathskulls Killa Kans are almost identical to the ones I use for Ork Boyz, but with some tweaks and additions at the weathering stage.

  • Deathskulls blue armor/plates: Pick a recipe:
    1. Macragge Blue > Nuln Oil > Calgar Blue > Fenrisian Grey
    2. Kantor Blue > Nuln Oil > Caledor Sky (note this is a base paint) > Teclis Blue
    3. Thousand Sons Blue > Nuln Oil > Ahriman Blue > Temple Guard Blue
    4. Hoeth Blue (note that this is a layer paint) > Drakenhof Nightshade > Hoeth Blue > Blue Horror
    5. Thunderhawk Blue (note that this is a layer paint) > Nuln Oil > Russ Grey > Fenrisian Grey
  • Trademark blue “hand”: Caledor Sky > Drakenhof Nightshade > Teclis Blue > Lothern Blue
  • Metal: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Ironbreaker
  • Dirty metal: Leadbelcher > Agrax Earthshade > Ironbreaker
  • Brass/bronze: Warplock Bronze > Agrax Earthshade > Brass Scorpion
  • Skull decorations: Celestra Grey > Agrax Earthshade > Ulthuan Grey > White Scar
  • Actual skulls: Corax White > Agrax Earthshade > Corax White drybrush
  • Horns: Zandri Dust > Seraphim Sepia > Ushabti Bone > Screaming Skull
  • Pink missile: Screamer Pink > Carroburg Crimson > Pink Horror > Emperor’s Children
  • Misc. wires, lenses, etc.: These are a mix of Averland Sunset, Mephiston Red, Moot Green, and Abaddon Black > Agrax Earthshade > highlighted accordingly with Yriel Yellow, Evil Sunz Scarlet, Moot Green, and Eshin Grey; then add dots of White Scar to the lenses
  • Snail on Skraggit’s base:
    • Body: Screamer Pink > Druchii Violet > Pink Horror > Emperor’s Children
    • Shell: Averland Sunset > Agrax Earthshade > Yriel Yellow
    • Eyes: Moot Green > Agrax Earthshade > Moot Green > White Scar gleam
    • Mushroom stems: Celestra Grey > Agrax Earthshade > White Scar
    • Mushroom caps: Mephiston Red > Agrax Earthshade > Evil Sunz Scarlet
  • Weathering and embellishments: These steps all happen after the rest of the mini is 100% done (including highlights); not every Kan uses all of them:
    • Checks: Macragge Blue and Corax White; I wrote a little guide for these
    • Hazard stripes, missile spirals, “hazard cables”: Averland Sunset and Abaddon Black > thinned-down Agrax Earthshade wash if it feels necessary
    • Battle damage: Pick and choose among these options:
      • Edges: Tiny dot/line of Rhinox Hide > mirror the same shape with a line underneath it of Calgar Blue/Caledor Sky depending on the Deathskulls Blue I chose (Warhammer TV reference video)
      • Bullet holes: Some of the Kan parts come with bullet holes in them; highlight the edges of the hole in the appropriate color (e.g. Calgar Blue), then apply Leadbelcher to make it look like the paint was blown away
      • Dirty chipped edges: Sponge the edge with Rhinox Hide > extremely lightly, and using a long segment of sponge, apply Leadbelcher to the same edge; don’t overdo it or it’ll look like you shat glitter all over the model (see the second segment in this WHTV video, or this one around 11 minutes in)
      • Scratches down to bare metal: Line of Abaddon Black > thin line of Leadbelcher partly overlapping it but also underneath it (Brush & Boltgun tutorial)
    • Built-up rust: In spots where it can accumulate over a long period, such as on and around bolts, apply thinned-down Skrag Brown
    • Verdigris: Nihilakh Oxide
    • Grime: Sponge on Rhinox Hide (I mainly do this on blocks of white and portions of the feet)
    • Caked-on grime: Typhus Corrosion, in moderation, along areas of the feet

On my first Kan, Mukkit, I did dirty metal (Leadbelcher/Agrax) everywhere except the weapon arms and the viewport panel, and plain metal (Leadbelcher/Nuln) on those. I thought that might be a fun effect, as the “working” areas of the Kan would be dirtier in real life, but after all the finishing and weathering steps it’s pretty hard to spot unless you’re looking for it.

Like everything else about Killa Kans, painting them is a hoot. This is one of my favorite 40k kits I’ve built so far.

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Runt-Eata’s Grots finished up

I wound up working on a box of Gretchin at the same time as five Boyz (not my usual approach; it’s too many at once!), so they got wrapped up on 12/27 as well.

My usual process is 5 or 6 at once, not sure I’ll do this again!

Do Gretchin know they’re adorable?

Runt-Eata’s Grots (I can’t afford the Runtherd in my current list, so I’ll build him later on)
Rear view
Casual shot in natural light

Like the Orks I painted at the same time, these Grots use three different skin recipes (1, 2, and 3 on my current list). I can’t wait to see how this approach looks across a larger force.

Everything I’ve painted in December (so far!)

I love these models, and they’re quick to paint up. Every step feels like it takes about half as long as an Ork Boy, so a box of 10 (excluding the Runtherd) takes about as long as a unit of 5 Orks; that makes doing 10 at a time pretty manageable.

Gretchin color guide

For simplicity, I treat Gretchin just like Ork Boyz, with only one addition:

  • Gretchin goggle lenses: Averland Sunset > Nuln Oil > Yriel Yellow

With these 10 Grots plus 3 small terrain pieces and 11 Orks, December’s tally of 24 models is my new record. I think 16 was my previous record, and the Grots being so small helps a lot here. (And who knows, I might sneak in one more terrain piece this year; I have one that’s pretty close to done.)

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Deathskulls Orks Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

My first full Ork unit finished: Skrudd’s Krumpas

Having made the questionable choice to work on the “back five” of Skrudd’s Krumpas at the same time as an entire unit of Gretchin, 12/27 was a record day for me. (The Grots have their own post, just to keep things organized.)

15 at once is probably too many for me, but kind of fun at the same time

Wot’s dat funny light?

First, the new five on their own:

Five more of Skrudd’s Krumpas
Rear view

And then the whole mob, including Skrudd and the five I painted up earlier this month.

Skrudd and 10 (possibly all?) of his Krumpas, my first Ork Boyz

There are three skin recipes in this mix (1, 2, and 3 on my current list of Ork recipes. My hope is that sticking to a single recipe for war paint, which every model in Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas wears, will unify the larger army.

It’s hard to get 11 minis in frame, apparently

I overcooked the weathering on a few bits on these guys, notably the checked shoulder pads. I wound up repainting those, which is never my first choice, but it was worth it. I’m pretty happy with them overall — I just need to remember to go easy on the grit and grime!

Orks are as fun to paint as I’d hoped. I enjoy having multiple recipes for their skin, Deathskulls blue, etc. — and the mix of skin tones works as well in practice as it did in my head. I’m not sure my attempts to punch these five up (more checks, more blue and white, more lighter-colored boots for contrast with the terrain, etc.) were as successful as I’d hoped, but it feels like I’m moving in the right direction.

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Deathskulls Orks Miniature painting Miniatures Painting tools Warhammer 40k WIP it good

A wall-mounted paint rack and some WIP miscellany

Currently working on a few too many Boyz and Gretchin at once, so I’ve been taking breaks to do some assembly.

First up, a Killa Kan:

Mukkit, leader of Mukkit’s Murda Mob

Mechanically, Killa Kan mobs don’t have a leader, so perhaps it’s more apt to say that Mukkit considers himself the leader.

I’ve heard these are terrible units, but damn this is an incredible kit. 100% of the parts are interchangeable, and they ooze character from every rivet. I was going for a sort of “Rarr! Mukkit stomp you!” pose, but wound up with more of a Macarena/posing for a tourist photo kind of deal…and I’m not even a little mad. Love this dude.

Alysia got me an Age of Sigmar Weirdnob Shaman for Christmas, so I spent a couple of pleasant hours today figuring out how to kitbash him into my Weirdboy.

Age of Sigmar Weirdnob Shaman + 40k Ork bits

On the AoS model, I test-fit the cape to see which of my arm swap ideas might work, and I trimmed off the smoke and shaved the spot under it flat. Everything else stayed.

I used the arm from the standalone Mek kit, which I snipped at the wrist; a standard from the Meganobz kit, which I stuck where the smoke used to be; two shoulder pads from the Boyz kit, which I used to camouflage the kludging I did around the smoke; and a jaw plate from the Nobz kit, which I used exactly as Gork (or is it Mork?) intended.

“Warpmek” Nakk, Weirdboy of Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas

As befits a Deathskulls army in general and Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas in particular, “Warpmek” Nakk is both a Weirdboy and a Mek (achieved by taking Da Fixer Upperz for him).

Since I’d destroyed the Mek kit’s clamshell packaging to steal one of his arms, I decided to just slap him together as well.

“Sawfasta” Grunk, Mek

Alysia also gave me a new paint storage solution, a nail polish rack that can swallow 100% of my current paint library. I believe it’s this model on Amazon (not a paid link), and as the reviews show it’s been battle-tested by fellow hobbyists. I can confirm that it does a bang-up job of holding Citadel paint pots.

Nail polish rack = Citadel paint library

I’ve seen folks organize their paints by color, but I alphabetized mine by type instead. I mainly follow GW recipes, so this makes the most sense for my approach. The top row is Technical paint and some non-paints (glue, etc.). The second row starts with shades/washes on the left and then jumps into base paints, which run another full row and the first couple slots of a third. After that come all of my layer paints.

I’ve mounted it with room for a second one, which I’ll need at some point. (I’m currently storing all my backup pots somewhere else.) I loved my previous paint storage solution, but my paint supply had outstripped its slots and I wanted to free up that corner of my desk.

Having started my paint collection back in February with the bare minimum I needed to do parade-ready Blood Angels, it feels funny to be actively using 85-90 paints now.

Happy holidays, merry Christmas, and I hope to be back in a few days with some finished Orks and Gretchin.

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Deathskulls Orks Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: modifying Moonkrumpa, Lootas, and Grots

I kicked off my Waaagh! by building my Warboss, Moonkrumpa, back in November, and ever since then I’ve been noodling about how to make him more Mek-y and Warboss-y (and whether or not to magnetize his wargear options). This morning things finally shook loose, and I busted out my bits boxes and kitbashed Moonkrumpa 2.0:

“Moonkrumpa” Grutnik, who once krumped an entire moon
Ork booty

I used a Killa Kan pauldron, a Blood Angels Dreadnought arm plate and Blood Talon, the light from a Space Marine unit (Dread or tank, I don’t recall), and two boss poles from a Nobz kit. He has to compete with an actual Warboss model (Grukk), so my goal was to make Moonkrumpa unmistakably Da Big Boss — but without meaningfully changing his silhouette, or doing anything that could be taken as modeling for advantage.

Not being able to fit the pauldrons under the sides of the Tellyport Blasta was what sealed the deal on 1) not magnetizing him, and 2) committing to the Kustom Force Field. Now all I need to do is practice a bit more armor-weathering — probably on Killa Kans — and I’ll be ready to prime and paint him!

Over the past couple of weeks, I also built a mob of Lootas, Gark’s Git-Blastas:

Gark’s Git-Blastas getting their parts lined up
The assembled Git-Blastas, with Gark (the Spanner) in the center

Getting their massive backpack/frame/gun jobbies to stay put for gluing was a bit fussy, but apart from that they’re a fun kit. And there are enough bits left over to build Burnas (by adding torsos and legs) or make a nice deposit in the ol’ bits box.

I also assembled my first Gretchin, Runt-Eata’s Grots, who are just fucking adorable:

Not pictured: Runt-Eata, my Runtherd, who I can’t afford to put in this army (because I’d rather spend the points on Mek-y stuff!)
So adorbs

I’d normally grumble about the number of mono-pose minis in this kit — three mono-piece Grots and six mono-pose models, leaving just 1/10 with minor posability — but they give you a ton of extra heads and the models are so cute that I don’t even mind. I might mind if I needed to paint more than 10, but even then the heads and paint jobs would provide a decent amount of variation.

The Grots came up at the same time as I was touching up the rest of my first mob of Boyz, Skrudd’s Krumpas, so I decided to break with tradition and paint 15 models at once. They’re actually almost done at this point, so I should be able to book them all this month.

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Deathskulls Orks Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Finished up my first Orks, Skrudd and five of his Krumpas

As I did with my Blood Angels army, I started Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas off with the backbone of any Waaagh!: some Ork Boyz. Six minis at once is about all I can handle, so I painted Boss Nob Skrudd and five of Skrudd’s Krumpas. I finished these Boyz on December 8th.

Krump dat lightbox

5/6 of Skrudd’s Krumpas
Rear view

As an added bonus, my casual shots can now incorporate a play board and terrain!

Skrudd’s Krumpas on the plains of Armageddon

The real Orks were the Orks we made along the way

On December 6, I retired my workhorse brush, which no longer has enough bristles to perform any meaningful service. It now rests in a place of honor, cradled in Wolverine’s arms atop the base of my painting lamp.

This brush is most likely seven years old, as I recall buying a pack of Armory brushes back in Utah when I needed to paint some Mercs minis in 2013. (If not, then it’s even older than that.) It’s served me well primarily as my paint-dipping brush, but it’s also done a ton of base-coating, painted the base edges on 50+ Blood Angels, been poked into crevices, and done every job a brush can do.

This brush gave every bristle of its life in service of my painting

Before I lose track of it, I want to recap my half-assed method for quickly doing Ork checks. First I establish the grid using 2mm Tamiya hobby tape, and paint whatever’s showing Macragge Blue.

Step 1

Then I peel away tape and hit either more Macragge Blue squares or the Corax White squares, whichever color is showing.

Step 2

I don’t have a photo of step 3, but it’s just freehanding the missing squares once all the tape is gone. Every square gets two coats of paint.

A more time-consuming, and neater, approach would be to re-tape and only paint masked-off areas, but I discarded that as too fussy. A steadier hand than mine could use Warhammer TV’s approach, marking the edges of the grid with pencil, then filling in the lines, then painting those squares. But I need the steadying influence of the initial masking-off, and then of the “virtual” grid — and in any case I don’t see how pencil is going to show up on metal or black, which is what I checked here.

Step four is a thinned-down Agrax Earthshade wash, as recommended in White Dwarf #454 (don’t want those checks to be too clean!).

The four Krumpas I checked

Reflections on painting my first Orks

It was a weird feeling hitting the point when a Blood Angel would have been done, ready for varnishing…and still having checks, rust, chipping, different rust, verdigris, and dirt/battle damage to go. On the one hand I’m setting myself up for work I could certainly get away without doing. On the other hand, I only need to paint them once but I have to look at them forever.

All of my possible weathering and embellishment tools/colors

And, more importantly, all those extra steps were a lot of fun. They really only added a couple of hours, maybe three tops, to the finishing process (total, across all six Orks).

I learned a lot along the way, and I see plenty of room for improvement. Here’s what jumped out at me:

  • My freehand Krump glyphs are terrible, no surprise there; that skill will improve with practice.
  • I’m pretty happy with my checks; although they could be tidier, at the moment they feel the right amount of messy.
  • I exercised what I hope was the proper amount of restraint in weathering steps. I’ve seen plenty of Orks online that just disappear under chips and rust and clutter, no longer readable in the way I like my minis to be readable. I want green skin, blue war paint, blue gear, and checks to be what pops, not weathering (or the bases, or clothing).
  • War paint on arms feels like a struggle, but hands are pleasantly simple — and faces are surprisingly fun.
  • I love the signature that ties all of Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas together, the single hand painted blue. That felt right at the idea stage, and it feels right now that I’ve painted it on my first six Boyz.
  • Ditto the looted Space Marine wargear, although I’d like to branch out into other factions for variety.
  • I need to mix blue into my clothing options (and dirty white into my options for boots), and not hesitate to add more blue to my Orks in general. It’s their signature color, it pops — and since they feature lots of browns and their bases are brown, that pop is important. These first six could use more blue.

My initial 2,000-point list is still in draft form, but currently it only features 30 Boyz and 10 Gretchin. That feels light on Boyz for a horde army, but I’ve got so many Mek-y and Deathskulls-y units to fit in that I’m not sure how I could pack in more Boyz (and, after all, these aren’t the kings of the horde, the Goffs; they’re Deathskulls, the kings of Mek stuff). We shall see!

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Deathskulls Orks Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Deathskulls Ork color guide

Compared to my Blood Angels, there are a staggering number of colors that could go into painting any given Ork. So much variety!

Status and randomization

In general, the lower the status of one of my Orks, the worse his wargear will look: rustier, more weathered, etc. Boyz are just one step above Gretchin, so their stuff should be rustier and less well-maintained than a Nob’s stuff.

After painting my first batch of Boyz, I updated the guide below to be more clearly a mix-and-match affair. I choose skin color, Deathskulls blue recipe, teeth/nails recipes, and clothing colors randomly for any given batch of Orks, ensuring that the whole army doesn’t look uniform (yet also doesn’t clash).

War paint (currently) doesn’t get randomized, because my thinking is that just before a battle the Gretchin mix up a big batch and everyone daubs themselves with it. This also means that the most significant color, and the one that pops the most, is consistent across my whole Waaagh!.

Color guide and paint steps

As always, this is mostly GW’s studio paint guide with some tweaks; in this case I’m also working from White Dwarf #454, which has a whole Paint Splatter column devoted to Orks, and a couple of excellent Warhammer TV videos. (Also as always, washes are in italics and specific techniques like drybrushing are generally called out.)

  • Skin: Pick a recipe:
    1. Waaagh! Flesh > Biel-Tan Green > Warboss Green > Skarsnik Green
    2. Waaagh! Flesh > Athonian Camoshade > Warboss Green > Skarsnik Green
    3. Deathworld Forest > Athonian Camoshade > Elysian Green > Ogryn Camo
    4. Deathworld Forest > Biel-Tan Green > Elysian Green > Ogryn Camo
    5. Castellan Green > Athonian Camoshade > Loren Forest > Straken Green
    6. Caliban Green > Nuln Oil > Warpstone Glow > Moot Green
  • Deathskulls blue: Pick a recipe:
    1. Macragge Blue > Nuln Oil > Calgar Blue > Fenrisian Grey
    2. Kantor Blue > Nuln Oil > Caledor Sky (note this is a base paint) > Teclis Blue
    3. Thousand Sons Blue > Nuln Oil > Ahriman Blue > Temple Guard Blue
    4. Hoeth Blue (note that this is a layer paint) > Drakenhof Nightshade > Hoeth Blue > Blue Horror
    5. Thunderhawk Blue (note that this is a layer paint) > Nuln Oil > Russ Grey > Fenrisian Grey
  • Clothing: Like should never abut like (e.g., no brown pants next to a brown belt); mix and match at random:
    • Black: Abaddon Black > Skavenblight Dinge > Stormvermin Fur
    • Brown: Dryad Bark > Agrax Earthshade > Gorthor Brown > Baneblade Brown
    • Dirty white: Celestra Grey > Agrax Earthshade > Ulthuan Grey > White Scar
    • Deathskulls Blue: Pick a recipe above, but consider using Agrax Earthshade or Drakenhof Nightshade for the shade/wash
  • Straps, armbands, belts, cord wraps, etc.: Like should never abut like (e.g., no brown pants next to a brown belt), and dirty white looks off on belts and straps, but other than that mix and match:
    • Black: Abaddon Black > Skavenblight Dinge > Stormvermin Fur
    • Brown: Dryad Bark > Agrax Earthshade > Gorthor Brown > Baneblade Brown
    • Dirty white: Celestra Grey > Agrax Earthshade > Ulthuan Grey > White Scar
    • Deathskulls Blue: Pick a recipe above, but consider using Agrax Earthshade or Drakenhof Nightshade for the shade/wash
    • Tan: Zandri Dust > Agrax Earthshade > Ushabti Bone
  • Teeth, horn, nails: Pick a recipe:
    • Zandri Dust > Seraphim Sepia > Ushabti Bone > Screaming Skull
    • Rakarth Flesh > Agrax Earthshade > Rakarth Flesh > Pallid Wych Flesh
  • Metal: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Ironbreaker
  • Dirty metal: Leadbelcher > Agrax Earthshade > Ironbreaker
  • Brass/bronze: Warplock Bronze > Agrax Earthshade > Brass Scorpion
  • Mob glyphs: Macragge Blue unless it’s on a dark background, in which case it’s Corax White
  • Eyes: Khorne Red > (incidental but helpful wash when I do the face) > Evil Sunz Scarlet
  • Skull decorations: Celestra Grey > Agrax Earthshade > Ulthuan Grey > White Scar
  • Actual skulls: Corax White > Agrax Earthshade > Corax White drybrush
  • Tongues/insides of mouths and pink topknots: Screamer Pink > Carroburg Crimson > Pink Horror > Emperor’s Children
  • Orange topknot (hair squig): Mephiston Red > Carroburg Crimson > Troll Slayer Orange > Fire Dragon Bright
  • Bullet belt links: Mechanicus Standard Grey > Nuln Oil > Dawnstone
  • Weathering and embellishments: These steps all happen after the rest of the mini is 100% done (including highlights); not every Ork uses all of them:
    • Stitching: Pick whichever of Zandri Dust or Dryad Bark contrasts best with the clothing item and do a single coat, no highlights
    • War paint: Caledor Sky > pin wash in the crevices with the same shade used for the skin (Biel Tan, etc.) > Teclis Blue (Warhammer TV reference video)
    • Checks: Macragge Blue and Corax White > very thinned-down Agrax Earthshade wash (or use the armor’s base color in place of Macragge, e.g. Kantor); I wrote a little guide for these
    • Chipping: Apply dots of Leadbelcher on the high points on armor, etc.
    • Built-up rust: In spots where it can accumulate over a long period, such as on and around bolts, apply thinned-down Skrag Brown
    • Surface rust: For something that’s just a piece of rusty crap, drybrush Ryza Rust
    • Rusty hot garbage: Typhus Corrosion > Ryza Rust drybrush
    • Verdigris: Nihilakh Oxide
    • Weathering/general grunge: It’s easy to overdo this and darken things up too much, so go easy; sponge on Skavenblight Dinge

As I wrote this post, it felt like a lot. Compared to my basic Blood Angels color guide, it is a lot — and it’s a lot for what’s ostensibly a near-throwaway unit in a faction that’s supposed to be quick to paint up.

But at the same time, on relatively simple models, these steps are what convey the essentially Orky nature of Orks: poorly maintained wargear, random items of clothing, rusty guns that somehow still shoot, and so on. My hope is that, as with Marines, I’ll get quicker at tackling all of these steps on my Boyz as I paint more of them.

Categories
Deathskulls Orks Miniature painting Miniatures Terrain Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Manufactorum terrain, more Ork Boyz, more storage

Over the past week or so I’ve been busy with Orks and terrain.

I started off my building the rest of my first 10x Ork Boyz, the “back five” of Skrudd’s Krumpas.

Boyz 6-10

I finally found a head that worked for my “pauldron as a hat” idea, which looks just the right amount of goofy for Orks.

Pauldrons: not just for shoulders
Skrudd’s Krumpas

After Thanksgiving, I saw that more sunny days might be in our future and hustled to build my next batch of Manufactorum terrain. Until I put them together I didn’t realize quite how large the two show pieces in the Vertigus box really were.

More Manufactorum terrain (and leftovers!)
My spray booth filled to capacity

After spraying all of these pieces, I’m down to three sprues in my Vertigus box: two buildings and a bunch more pipes. I’ve been mulling over ways to combine some of GW’s other industrial terrain, notably the Sector Mechanicus stuff, with my Manufactorum pieces so that they look like they belong in the same place. About half of the Mechanicus stuff looks like I could blend it in pretty well by anchoring the color scheme with Wraithbone/Khorne Red.

With terrain comes the need for more and different ways to store my 40k stuff. I thought about my needs: primarily at home, modular, capable of holding the largest pieces on my radar, not too pricey. Where that landed me was plastic storage tubs and acoustic foam.

6x 19-quart storage bins

The listing for the bins was a bit misleading, as it made it look like the bottom was 12″ wide — perfect for my 12″-wide foam squares — when in actuality that was the width of the top. But a gentle curve to the foam lining the bottom, or a quick trim, should sort that out.

12x 2″-thick acoustic foam tiles

The tiles come vacuum-packed in a foil bag that doesn’t look nearly large enough to contain them. Unpacked, they smelled dreadful. But after a couple days in the garage, they’ve expanded to full size and no longer stink.

Back to the actual terrain, my pot of Nihilakh Oxide arrived, so I got to experiment with applying a verdigris effect for the first time. Like every Citadel technical paint I’ve tried so far, this stuff is great.

Nihilakh Oxide is awesome!

Over the weekend, I finished the outside of one Manufactorum ruin (plus three smaller pieces) except for weathering. I’ve never painted terrain before, and I started with a good set; it’s been a joy to paint.

Nearly finished side wall
So close to done!

These pieces mark my first foray into contrast paint (on the Cog Mechanicus), the first time I’ve used two washes on the same area of a single model, and the first time I’ve consistently drybrushed stuff twice as well. After the crisp, polished aesthetic of my Blood Angels, painting a run-down, timeworn building has been a lot of fun.

I’m looking forward to applying blast damage with a sponge and making some rust streaks — and finishing the inside, of course.