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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!

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Miniature painting Miniatures Painting tools Terrain Warhammer 40k

Battlezone: Manufactorum terrain color guide and painting steps

After assembling, priming/base-coating, and doing the initial wash on my Manufactorum terrain pieces, I tucked into the next steps — and realized it was time for a guide to those steps, and the colors I’m using, so that Future Martin can replicate it all on the next batch.

Chipping away at some terrain following the steps in this guide (walls and floors are finished except for weathering; metal, windows, and all small details remain)

Warhammer TV reference videos

My primary guide is an excellent video on painting this exact terrain. I’m mixing in some of what Duncan does in this video about Imperialis terrain, too. For weathering, Duncan covers rust (second half) and Nihilakh Oxide in two other videos.

These videos are a tremendous resource and I love that GW makes them available. There’s no way I could approach the finished quality I want in my terrain without them.

Painting steps

Terrain is a different animal, so it requires different steps in a different order. This looks like a million steps, but it’s really quite a relaxing painting process; I’ve just broken it down, for my own benefit, because the process is different than the one I’ve spent the last nine months employing on my Blood Angels.

From step 2, floors: both have been shaded, and the one on the right has been drybrushed as well

Step 1 basically takes the bulk of the terrain piece — the stone elements — to completion, which is done to avoid messily washing and drybrushing other stuff the wrong colors. Step 2 does the same for the floors, and so on. The final step, number 7, involves weathering that goes back over many of the areas completed in 1-6 — and apart from varnish, it’s genuinely the last step.

Don’t overdo it” is my mantra for most of the steps. It’s easy to want the whole building to look super-grimy at the shading stage — and forget that there’s grime and character still to come, at later stages.

  1. Walls:
    1. Wraithbone spray, primer and base coat in one
    2. Seraphim Sepia wash almost everywhere; err on the side of “everywhere,” not “almost”
    3. Agrax Earthshade pin wash along the “bands” of the pillars, plus randomly anywhere else that would have gotten especially dirty while these buildings were in use (or weathered after they became ruins), notably under doors and junction boxes, as well as along conduits — and throw in some random spots, too
    4. Drybrush all Wraithbone areas with Tyrant Skull, in a circular motion; this is designed to go everywhere
    5. Then a lighter Praxeti White drybrush over that, in circular motions, pressing lightly and just hitting the high points
  2. Floors: Bung Leadbelcher into the holes in the floor (which hits the pipes and suggests that the floors are metal gratings with a coat of paint over them) > Mechanicus Standard Grey on the flat parts of the floor and the entire underside > Agrax Earthshade > Dawnstone drybrush the flat sections of the floor in circular motions (skip the underside) > lighter drybrush with Celestra Grey on the top and edges
  3. Bare metal: Leadbelcher > Agrax Earthshade > Ironbreaker drybrush > Necron Compound drybrush
  4. Red metal (doors, windows, tanks, accents): Khorne Red > Nuln Oil > Wazdakka Red drybrush > very light Squig Orange drybrush
  5. Red pipes: Khorne Red > Nuln Oil > Wazdakka Red drybrush
  6. Bronze: Warplock Bronze > Agrax Earthshade > Brass Scorpion drybrush
  7. Cog Mechanicus:
    1. White: Corax White > Apothecary White contrast paint > Praxeti White drybrush
    2. Black: Corvus Black > Basilicum Grey contrast paint > Eshin Grey drybrush > light Dawnstone drybrush
    3. Eye: Corax White > Khorne Red > Evil Sunz Scarlet
  8. Other little details (wires, etc.): Base coat in a single color (Averland Sunset, Macragge Blue, etc.) and vary these choices across the buildings (especially duplicates!); it sounds like heresy, but these truly don’t need any follow-up coats/layers/etc.
  9. Weathering:
    1. Chipping and damage: Sponge on Rhinox Hide, focusing on the blasted edges and torn-away elements, but also randomly putting it everywhere that feels right
    2. Rust: Thinned-down Skrag Brown > thinned-down Fire Dragon Bright
    3. Verdigris: Nihilakh Oxide in the crevices on bronze elements

This guide is written for the walls, but it applies to the pipes, sacred radiators, and whatnot as well. The only real changes are obvious stuff, like applying the Agrax Earthshade pin wash to different parts of the pipes.

Categories
Miniature painting Miniatures Painting tools Terrain Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Manufactorum terrain

On Sunday morning, I picked up where I’d left off with my terrain on Saturday: Wraithbone done, all-over Seraphim Sepia wash. Next up was a pin wash with Agrax Earthshade.

The pin wash is subtle, but I like the effect. Both of these pieces have had their all-over Seraphim Sepia wash, but the one on the right has had some grimy areas pin-washed with Agrax:

Before (left) and after (right)

I used a cheap #5 brush for the pin washes.

Pin-washed sacred pipes
Dang but I love this terrain! The sculpts are great
Bunging Leadbelcher into the holes in the flooring

I was a bit nervous about doing a full-coverage drybrush over my precious washes…but it turned out to be no biggie. And as the video notes, it looks quite subtle at first but it does actually make a difference.

I used my giant flat-edged 5/8 brush (the cheap one I used for the washes) for this messy, brush-killing job.

Pre-drybrush on the left, post-drybrush on the right

My buildings are noticeably darker than the ones in the video at this stage, which I think comes down to the thinned vs. straight wash. I dig it. Next up, a lighter drybrush with Praxeti White, same brush and same circular motions.

This is subtle, too, but in this case I’m just not that confident in my technique. Both the amount of paint and the weight of my brushing make a difference, and I’m not there yet in terms of experience — but even so, it’s a nice effect.

Praxeti White drybrush on the left half, but not on the right half (yet)

And that’s the stone done! (Except for, maybe, a final weathering step of some sort.) Warhammer TV didn’t steer me wrong: two washes and two layers of drybrushing really does tidy things up and produce an organic, lifelike weathered stone — and surprisingly quickly, too.

Next up, Mechanicus Standard Grey on the floors (top and bottom), applied with an inexpensive flat-edged #5 brush.

Floors mostly base-coated, above and below

That’s where I ran out of steam for the night, after a pleasant Sunday spent almost entirely working on this terrain or futzing with my Orks’ basing colors. Next terrain-painting session, I’ll finish the edges and borders on the floors, wash them, drybrush them, and then move back to the walls to work on details.

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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.

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

WIP it good: Zahariel and a dash of Barakiel

One of the things that works for me about maintaining my miniature-painting streak (as I write this post on October 17, I’m on day 238) is that “dormant” periods — the days I don’t really feel like working on minis — still involve forward progress, even if it’s minimal. And then when I do feel like painting, it doesn’t feel like I’m grinding the whole machine back into motion — because it never came to a dead stop.

This past weekend, rested up from a relatively light week on the minis front, I tucked into Squad Zahariel in earnest. I spent five hours or so doing their touch-ups and shading on Saturday, which was a blast.

The long road
Oops

Of course as soon as I started working on their Abaddon Black base coat, I realized that I’d paired two Jump Pack tops and bottoms incorrectly, resulting in one with braided cords appearing from nowhere, and another (less of a problem) with them disappearing without an actual termination.

I was long past the point of re-gluing, so I slapped a couple of spare purity seals on the most egregious of the two figures and called it good. Fully painted, I don’t think my goof will be too noticeable.

Painting black over white primer is so fiddly
Roping in Squad Barakiel

I hate wasting paint, so as always I had another unit on deck to absorb any leftover colors on my palette: Squad Barakiel — my final squad.

Zahariel’s base coat finally done, little spots of color appearing on Barakiel
I like the studio color scheme for the Blood Angels Terminator Assault Squad, which is heavy on black and silver and light on gold, because it’s the opposite of my instincts
Zahariel now fully touched-up

I tried out a new Velvetouch size for touch-ups that I absolutely love: 20/0 Monogram Liner. It’s perfect for precise dots of color nestled between other colors, as well as for lines which cross an area of a different color — both of which the Death Company models have in abundance.

…And fully shaded!
My battle station as of this past Saturday night, with all 16 highlights/layers for Zahariel, and their matching brushes, teed up and ready to go

I’ve only painted one black-armored figure for this army so far, Chaplain Arrius, so he’s out as my reference for doing the highlights on Zahariel. The Death Company minis have so many cords, seals, skulls, and other elements which cross over their expanses of black that a fair amount of shading comes into play — which I dig, because not shading the actual black knocks out one of the techniques on which I rely to produce minis I’m happy with.

I feel like Squad Zahariel has had enough WIP shots devoted to them, so I’m going to call it here. Next time they show up, it’ll be in the lightbox.

Categories
Blood Angels Space Marines Miniature painting Miniatures Painting tools

Princeton Velvetouch brushes for painting miniatures: an update

I wrote about getting a bunch of Princeton Velvetouch brushes back in April of this year, and have been painting with those brushes (and my hodgepodge of others) for the past four months, or about 1,400 points of Blood Angels.[1] I just ordered a second batch of them from BLICK, which is itself an endorsement. I like these brushes a lot.

Princeton Velvetouch brushes: reloaded

My two most-used sizes are 10/0 and 3/0, and both of those finally gave up the ghost about 2-3 weeks ago, with splayed/curled tips no longer able to to detail work — so let’s call their front-line service life about three months. (Now they become drybrushes, get dipped into metallic paints, etc.) That’s not nearly as long as my non-synthetic brushes, but that’s a trade-off I’m fine with.

Before their tips inevitably curl or splay (despite daily washing with brush soap), these brushes paint just as well as my natural brushes. When my natural brushes wear out, I’ll replace them with their Princeton Velvetouch analogs.

Lots of other synthetic brush lines have a couple brushes small enough for minis but are primarily geared for other types of painting. One thing I love about this line is that they cover all of the sizes and shapes I’ve ever wanted for miniatures, from ultra-fine to relatively massive, including the chisel-shaped tips I like for drybrushing.

So: Princeton Velvetouch brushes are excellent, and in my experience especially good as synthetic brushes go.

[1] I started a daily “work on miniatures” streak on February 22, 2020, when I dug out my Space Hulk Terminators and started painting again. It didn’t start as a streak; I was just painting every day because I was excited about it. But I bumped into the idea on Twitter and have had success with using Seinfeld chains for motivation in the past, so it turned into one. Today is day 192.

Categories
Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: adventures in hazard striping

With my Rhino, Relentless, mostly base-coated, it was time to do the hazard stripes before moving on to a second coat of red.

I love hazard stripes, especially how they pop against red, and they make sense for the rear drop-door: “stay clear or this massive slab of Ceramite will crush you and then a 10-man squad of Space Marines will grind you into jelly as they charge into battle.

Relentless

I did the hazard stripes the same way I did them on Squad Ultio: two coats of Averland Sunset on the whole surface, cover with Tamiya hobby tape (3mm this time), remove alternate strips, paint those areas Abaddon Black.

Step 1: establish the top boundary
Step 2: fully mask the surface (this angle was scientifically measured by me looking at it and going, “Yeah, that looks about right”)
Step 3: remove alternate tape strips, press remaining tape down firmly

I figured the areas with the bolts would be more likely to let paint “bleed” under them if I left them taped (since they prevent the tape from seating fully). By happy accident all three bolts fell on alternating strips.

Step 4: two thin coats of Abaddon Black

I recommend skipping the bonus steps I added: “Realize trying to use up the last of the black that’s drying out means you’ve just gobbed on quite thick paint,” and “notice you’ve missed a bit and have to backtrack.”

Step 5: peel and reveal!

Like Ultio’s stripes, they’re not perfect. But they’re better than what I can do freehand, and should be fairly easy to touch up when I reach that stage.

Step 6: Mask the top edge and paint the red around it

After painting down to the top edge, I realized I had no clear demarcation for the bottom edge. I tried a few tape lines that incorporated the door pivot/axle thingie, which is cylindrical and therefore annoying to tape up cleanly, and eventually decided that the bottom edge should align with the bottom of the frame instead.

Bonus step 8: realize you should have done the bottom edge differently to start with…
Aaaaaand done

I thought this would be a piece of cake! So much easier than wrapping a symmetrical pattern around three sides of an object, like I had to on Ultio — right? Narrator: Wrong.

But now I’ve got a pretty good template to use for my next Rhino/Razorback!

Categories
Blood Angels Space Marines Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: decal time

As I amassed the hoard of plastic that will become my Blood Angels army, I learned about decals. Most of what I knew about them was that as a kid, I tore, mangled, and misapplied them at basically every turn.

My research led me to Micro Set and Micro Sol (paid link), the twin weapons in the modeler’s arsenal for putting tiny decals on tiny figures — and especially on curved or irregular surfaces. They’re both decal softeners; softer decals become more fragile, but also better able to conform to curves and whatnot.

I might be able to freehand a Blood Angels chapter emblem in, like, 2027

I watched three YouTube videos about putting on decals, and browsed a few posts, and the funny thing is that people don’t really seem to agree on how to do it. Take the videos:

  • One person scored the decals with a hobby knife and uses only Micro Set, and never touched the decal with anything but a brush or that knife
  • One used like 8 million layers of Micro Sol; the process appeared to take an hour or two with lots of drying time between coats
  • One used both Set and Sol, and a Q-tip, and did the whole thing in one coat of each and like two minutes

All of their decals looked great when they were done.

And the posts? Gloss varnish before and after; no, only after; no, gloss before and matte varnish after; only after turning three times widdershins and never under the light of a full moon . . . you get the idea.

The little near-identical bottles themselves also make things a bit confusing: Sol recommends starting with Set and then using Sol; Set says to use only Set unless you really need Sol. But Sol is for irregular surfaces, which sounded like my use case — so I just followed the directions on the Micro Sol bottle.

Sergeant Karios, Second Company

I went with Second Company for my first squad because I like the pop of yellow and — for some reason — the decals for Second Company seem to be the most common.

And there’s another peculiarity: GW seems to have largely gone away from decals that aren’t for Ultramarines. The only Blood Angels transfer sets I have came out of my Dreadnoughts — even this kit, an explicitly Blood Angels tactical squad, doesn’t have a sheet of transfers in it. When those run out, I’ll be relying on Ebay.

Anyhoo, next came the banner.

Long may it wave

The Micro Sol bottle says to let it dry and see how they turn out, and then apply more Sol as needed (with drying time between coats); as needed, prick any bubbles that form. With a reasonably smooth coat of primer and paint these two decals both seemed to have gone on okay, but I could see a couple little spots where they hadn’t settled down perfectly. So I hit those spots with some more Sol, then let them dry again.

When all’s said and done, I’ll varnish over the decals when I seal the whole mini. These weren’t hard to do at all — huzzah!

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

WIP it good: painting Sergeant Karios

This past weekend I worked in a bit of painting time. Somehow painting my first Blood Angels model feels more like the official start of my army than any of the preceding steps — buying, assembling, priming, and basing.

Audiobook as painting soundtrack

I’m listening to the audiobook of Guy Haley’s Dante (paid link), narrated by Gareth Armstrong, while I paint; so far I’m loving it.

I’ve never listened to an audiobook before, and it’s fascinating to me that three things are happening simultaneously while it’s on: I’m enjoying the book (Armstrong is a great narrator); it’s keeping me company while I paint, much like background music would; and neither book nor painting is distracting me from the other to the degree than I can’t comprehend the book or focus on my painting.

In fact, on that last front, paying attention to the book is actually helping me get into the Zen-like, relaxed-but-focused state in which I like to paint.

Fetch the Emperor’s bucket of Mephiston Red

As ever, Sergeant Karios is first into the breach.

For the Emperor and Sanguinius!

Compared to painting my Space Hulk Terminators, which had a fairly thick, years-old coat of spray primer and a poorly applied, and equally thick, base coat of red covering most of each model, this is night and day. Karios has my worst coat of brush-on primer, as he was first and I was still getting the hang of it, but it’s so nice and thin compared to the Terminators — and thinning my paints, using a proper fine brush, and focusing on the details are also smoothing the road.

Slow and steady: red done, magenta done, starting on gold

There’s also a definite quality difference between the cheap ZEM brush I’ve been trying out for base-coating and my better Citadel and Army Painter brushes. The curled tip on my ZEM brush is going to stay curled, so it’s been relegated to “open areas and spots where I need to poke between things” duty, leaving my better brushes for actual detail work.

Base edge color test

Along the way I took a poke at a Marine’s base with Mechanicus Standard Grey, and while not bad it’s too dark and too tonally close to the terrain color. Fortunately I’ve got more gray on hand now, and I have a hunch Danwstone will be perfect.

Sergeant Karios, fully base-coated

And on Sunday night, just as the light outside starting becoming too dim for detail work, I finished base-coating my first Blood Angel! Sergeant Karios still needs a full touch-up pass before his wash — but shit, that feels good.

Categories
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!