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Finished miniatures Kill Team Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Tyranids Warhammer 40k

Five Hive Fleet Balaur Genestealers wrapped up

Last night I finished my first minis since May 20, 2021: one Hive Fleet Balaur Fire Team for Kill Team, a unit of Genestealers. These guys were a ton of fun to paint, and given that I started them on April 8, went on a short vacation, and worked on my Warriors during the 16 days it took me to finish them, I feel pretty much back on track with painting.

Hive Fleet Blue Steel

Their underbellies creep me out a bit
Golden angles
Front
Back

I figured I’d shoot one with some terrain, too.

Hive Fleet Balaur scuttling through the ruins

And why not take advantage of the rare opportunity to do a before/after? I painted the blue/pink Genestealers (from Space Hulk) in 2012. It’s not quite “10 years later,” though, because I didn’t paint anything from 2012 to 2020, when I got back into painting and starting both taking it seriously and actually enjoying it. So it’s really more of a “two years of progress” before/after, since this is how I was painting in 2020.

Current way vs. old way, front view
Rear view

Nid thoughts

This was my second time glazing, and the first time I haven’t painted over my efforts and gone with a different technique. (I tried glazing a Custodes sword several times, but just couldn’t get it right.) My glazing isn’t great, but these first four Scything Blades taught me quite a bit; I’m hoping to improve my technique as I work on my Warriors.

I’ve also never used dotting tools before. Still room for improvement there as well, but there’s just not that much surface to work with on Genestealers and I didn’t want to overwhelm their shading. The Warriors’ carapaces are a larger canvas, so I’m looking to step up my game on them.

As a splinter fleet of Hive Fleet Leviathan, I like how my twist on Leviathan’s color scheme turned out. There are at least two official Leviathan color guides out there (one in White Dwarf and one on Warhammer TV), but the main differences between Leviathan and Balaur are the toxic green claws and spotted carapaces.

My goal for these Genestealers was to evoke brightly-colored bugs and poison dart frogs, and to combine that with a “snake’s underbelly” body color for an unsettling — maybe even unpleasant — look that befits the terrifying nature of Tyranids.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
Kill Team Miniature painting Miniatures Tyranids Warhammer 40k

Tyranid Hive Fleet Balaur color guide

I’m far enough along with my first Fire Team for Hive Fleet Balaur to need to take stock of my paint library, so it’s time for a color guide!

Hive Fleet Balaur Genestealers (April 24, 2022)

As always, this guide is drawn from a mix of GW material (White Dwarf #463 and a Warhammer TV video for the Leviathan scheme, Warhammer TV again for their classic Warriors video), YouTube tutorials (Doctor Faust and CatgutPainting for the mottling), and my own spin on things. Washes/shades are generally in italics, and my notation is base > shade > layer > layer for Citadel’s Parade Ready approach.

Bases

The main recipe comes from the White Dwarf Basing Cookbook.

  • Terrain: Armageddon Dust > Agrax Earthshade all-over wash > Tyrant Skull drybrush
  • Rocks: Pick one or mix in both:
    • Dark grey: Mechanicus Standard Grey > Agrax Earthshade all-over wash > Celestra Grey drybrush
    • Light grey: Grey Seer > Agrax Earthshade all-over wash > 50/50 Corax White/Grey Seer drybrush
  • Skulls: Corax White > Agrax Earthshade all-over wash > Corax White drybrush
  • Horns: Zandri Dust > Seraphim Sepia all-over wash > Ushabti Bone drybrush
  • Base rim: Baneblade Brown
  • Tufts: Army Painter swamp, winter, or both

I started out with a different base (Stirland Mud, Seraphim Sepia, Astorath Red), but decided it didn’t look naturalistic enough. If you see Genestealers on red-brown bases in older photos, those bases got clipped off and redone with the recipe above.

Models

My Tyranid Kill Team only has two units as of this writing, Genestealers and Tyranid Warriors, and Tyranids tend to be pretty similar faction-wide, so this is pretty much my guide for all Hive Fleet Balaur Tyranids. Balaur is a splinter fleet of Leviathan, so the studio scheme for Leviathan was my starting point.

Paint steps vary slightly from my usual approach because the full-body drybrush is messy, so it has to come before most of the other steps: Prime and base coat with Wraithbone spray, shade the skin, drybrush the skin, deepen the wash in the vents/joints; then finish the bases; and then do everything else.

  • Body/skin: Wraithbone spray > 1:4 Carroburg Crimson:Lahmian Medium all-over wash > Screaming Skull drybrush > light Pallid Wych Flesh drybrush > Carroburg Crimson wash in the vents/joints (to reestablish the color) > Pallid Wych Flesh on high points
  • Carapace: Finish the foundation steps, then dot it. Don’t dot the hooves.
    • Foundation: Naggaroth Night > Druchii Violet all-over wash > Xereus Purple edge highlights > Genestealer Purple edge/point highlights
    • Dots: This is a slow and steady process: Too much paint on the tool and you get a thick blob; too little and you don’t get a dot. Each dip of tool into paint is good for maybe 2-4 dots. Using a dotting tool, apply dots of Fire Dragon Bright, not too thin — each dot should be one and done — wherever it makes the most sense for a particular area of carapace, in an irregular, organic non-pattern.
      • Genestealers: Along the outside edges of the body portion and down the center of any head carapace bits.
      • Tyranid Warriors: Always avoid the center-line protrusions/spines.
        • Large plates (like their backs): Follow the outside edges and also run the dots into the middle along the bottom edges.
        • Tail plates: Just follow the outside edges.
        • Guns and leg plates: Just go down the center.
        • Heads: Follow the outside edges.
        • Flaring horns and boss shoulders: Just the leading/outside edge.
  • Claws and spikes: Incubi Darkness > Nuln Oil pin wash (skip if they have no recesses) > Warpstone Glow edge highlight > Sybarite Green point highlight
  • Weapons larger than claws (except lash whips): Three stages:
    • Base coat and wash: Incubi Darkness > Nuln Oil pin wash
    • Glaze: 1:6 Warpstone Glow:Lahmian Medium, 7-8 layers, starting with almost the entire weapon and covering a bit less area every time, working from the base towards the tip; the end should be pretty close to pure Warpstone Glow
      • On the guns with pink vents down the middle, only glaze the very tip of the gun — just avoid those vents as much as possible
    • Highlights: The idea is to let the glaze be the star of the show. I originally highlighted the entire weapon in Warpstone, but it overwhelms the subtle glazed areas and doesn’t do anything on the full-strength glazed areas.
      • On the unglazed portion, edge highlight sparingly with Warpstone Glow, and then point highlight with Sybarite Green.
      • On the glazed portions, using a brush fresh enough to still have a defined shape (IE not a busted-ass drybrush), I do something between edge highlighting and drybrushing with Sybarite Green. The brush is about half as dry as a drybrush, and I paint at a 45′ angle to the edges of the brightest parts of the glazed sections, running the edge of the brush along just as if I were edge highlighting.
        • If I had the brush control for it, this could be done with plain old edge highlighting. But when I’ve tried that, I always sprawl into the glaze and overwhelm the effect. This is more subtle and more forgiving.
  • Fleshy bits and tongues: Bugman’s Glow > Reikland Fleshshade all-over wash > Kislev Flesh drybrush
  • Lash whips: As fleshy bits, but with green handle (no glazing). After drybrushing the fleshy portion, hit the spikes with Warpstone Glow.
  • Little blobby venom sacs and stuff: Moot Green > Athonian Camoshade all-over wash > Moot Green
  • Teeth: Screaming Skull > Agrax Earthshade all-over wash > Screaming Skull
  • Eyes: Averland Sunset > Flash Gitz Yellow
  • Eyes set into weapons: Averland Sunset > paint a vertical “slit” of Abaddon Black > Flash Gitz Yellow

What makes this scheme sing for me, especially on larger models, are the two show elements: the glazed weapons, with the contrast between the super deep green and the much brighter green; and the pop of orange dots on deep purple carapaces.

A WIP Genestealer from my first Fire Team (April 9, 2022)

Notes

I’m still pretty new to using Lahmian Medium, and my first attempt for the main body/flesh wash — 1:3 Screamer Pink:Lahmian Medium, my best guess at the ratio used in White Dwarf #463 — went on more like a base coat than a wash. So I switched to using my shade brush, Carroburg Crimson, and a 1:4 ratio, and that went much more smoothly.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
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:

Mottling

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).

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.