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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

Painting the weekend away

On Saturday, I wanted to work on another character. As chance would have it I was just about to paint the black elements on my Sternguard, so I fired up my Chaplain, Arrius, and figured I’d paint everything but black — his dominant color — so he’d be in sync with the veterans.

Chaplain Arrius

I love this mini, and while I found resin to be a pain in the ass my guess during the assembly process was correct: That pain faded once I started painting him. It’s such a great sculpt!

I was feeling a bit down, and also a bit out of it, on Saturday — so much so that I completely forgot I always paint bases first. Nothing on his legs would make it risky to drybrush around them, so I wrapped up his non-black colors and switched gears.

Closing in on a finished base — and base coat

As I gain confidence as a painter, I’m also going off-book more often. I love his studio paint scheme, but that’s not a Blood Angel. (I mean, intentionally so; he’s a “generic Chaplain” by design.) I gave him a Blood Angels backpack, but he needed a bit more to tie him into the chapter; I figured a red knee pad with a chapter symbol would do the trick. He also has black armor, which means black suit gaskets aren’t going to read well — not to mention a mix of red elements that need definition and separation.

Which means it’s color guide time!

Chaplain color guide

  • Black: Abaddon Black > Eshin Grey > Dawnstone
  • Bone and parchment: Rakarth Flesh > Agrax Earthshade > Pallid Wych Flesh > White Scar
  • Metal and piping: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Stormhost Silver
  • Armor gaskets: Mechanicus Standard Grey > Nuln Oil > Dawnstone
  • Leather and piping: Screamer Pink > Carroburg Crimson (skipped on gems) > Pink Horror > Emperor’s Children
  • Gold: Retributor Armour > Reikland Fleshshade > Auric Armour Gold > Liberator Gold
  • Eyes and tubing: Moot Green > Agrax Earthshade > Moot Green
  • Book cover: Khorne Red > Nuln Oil > Wazdakka Red > 50/50 blend of Wazdakka Red/Kislev Flesh
  • Knee pad, gems, purity seal wax: Mephiston Red > Agrax Earthshade > Evil Sunz Scarlet > Fire Dragon Bright

Other hobby work swirling about

I also looked at my painting queue for May and decided I wanted to make my stretch goal the Sanguinary Guard — as planned — but that doing Dante and the Sanguinary Ancient (with his massive banner) might be too much of a stretch. Still, having primed Dante, I figured I’d take him through basing.

Commander Dante

…And get the Guard and Abaoz through basing as well, so I’d be covered no matter what.

Squad Remiel and Sanguinary Ancient Abaoz, curing overnight
The state of my painting area this weekend
Squads Remiel and Adamo

I put in less hobby time than I thought I would this weekend, doing more other stuff instead, but kept my hobby streak up — Monday was day 93! — and laid the groundwork for what comes after my Sternguard.

Wrapping up the Chaplain and Squad Amedeo should definitely be doable before the end of May, and really going beyond that — 1x Rhino, 11x Marines — was a stretch anyway. But I won’t discount the possibility that a couple of banner painting nights sneak in, say, all of Squad Remiel by May 31, either. It happened last month, after all!

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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Squad Amedeo

With Squad Dolos finally painted, it’s time to get my Sternguard, Squad Amedeo (1st Company, 3rd Squad), up on the painting handles! As always, I’ve completed their bases already (except for varnish and tufts, of course), and I’ve dabbed a bit of paint on them whenever I had extra on my palette.

One of the things I love about Blood Angels heraldry is that they use helmet color to indicate battlefield role — yellow for fast attack, blue for heavy support, gold for veterans, etc. — which looks great, provides variety, and is just sort of neat. (I also love that, in addition to regarding the Codex Astartes as a set of loose guidelines, they also break their own rules — like having Terminators eschew gold helmets for plain old red.) So when I built my initial army list I tried to squeeze in all of the special colors.

The battle-brothers of Squad Amedeo are my first foray into colorful hats. I love painting gold! And they’re going to drip with so much gold.

I love their little gold helmets!

So, so much gold.

Done with gold, I think

Although one thing I learned from painting Squad Ultio was that it’s also fun to lean away from gold, even when it’s my first instinct. Mix in some white, some silver, and some black where I might otherwise have put gold — and give each model a loose little theme based on those color choices. So while Squad Amedeo is going to get its fashion sense from the imperious, bling-loving Sergeant Amedeo, there will be some other colors in the mix as well.

I’m also diverging a bit more than usual from the studio paint scheme, as I’m not sure how to do the gold fabric (nor whether I’d like it), white on red doesn’t feel right for them, and I’ve probably used rather a bit more gold overall.

One night of base-coating

This was one of my favorite squads to assemble, and so far they’re an absolute joy to paint. They’re detailed without being fussy, with nice separations between their elements, and I just love them. I made great progress last night, laying down base coats in every color except Mephiston Red, Abaddon Black, and whatever I go with for their incidental wires and whatnot.

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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Squad Dolos brings me up to 730 points of painted Blood Angels

It took me longer than I’d like to take Squad Dolos from this state, where they languished for a few days:

Partially base-coated

To this one, starring the worst base-coating work I’ve done this year:

Fully base-coated

And then to the “starting to not look like shit” stage:

These are such simple models — look how few colors I’m using for layers/highlights!

And finally through the undocumented and quite frustrating stage where I discovered that the ~20-year-old knee pad decals I’d planned to use were — at least as far as I could tell, still being pretty new to using decals — too old to soften properly despite repeated applications of Micro Sol. I was hoping to avoid freehanding their squad markings; in the end, that’s what I had to do.

…But I finally got there!

Squad Dolos, 2nd Company, 3rd Squad
Rear view

I have to say that these weren’t my favorite models to paint. Their highlighting was fun, but they’re kind of basic — excellent sculpts and detail, but with so few ways to personalize or pose them that the end product was not all that exciting. I didn’t cut corners on them, but it always felt like a bit of a struggle; I suspect that’s why it took me so long. Ah well.

Thus far I’ve painted more troops than anything else, so my current point total of painted figures (730/2,000) is low relative to the number of models I’ve completed. I’m one figure shy of the 50% mark now, and it’s all characters, elites, and fast attack — plus one massive tank — from here on in.

It doesn’t look like I’m going to match April’s record month, but you never know. Next up I’m going to paint my Sternguard squad and my Chaplain, and fitting in one more squad of five after that — which feels like a stretch right now! — would match April’s tally.

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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk Warhammer 40k

Terminators new and old: February/March vs. April

With Squad Ultio wrapped up, I can now do a comparison I thought might be interesting: Terminators I painted in February/March of this year versus Terminators I painted in April — same figures (more or less), same chapter, same color scheme. Which means it’s lightbox time!

Let’s start with the closest apples-to-apples pairings, the ones with similar sculpts and wargear.

Similar models

Storm Bolter and Chain Fist
Leaders with Power Swords
Storm Bolter and Power Fist
Assault Cannon

Specific elements

How about three direct comparisons of aspects of each model?

Chain Fists
Backs
Assault Cannon

Favorites

And here’s my favorite paint job from each group, the Librarian from Space Hulk and one of the Chain Fist brothers from 40k:

Librarian vs. one of the Chain Fist bros

Natural light

As I was packing them all up again, I realized it might be good to toss in one more photo — five vs. five, but just a casual picture in natural light.

New/old alternate front/back in each pairing

A bit of context

With my Space Hulk Termies, I was working with years-old primer, over-sprayed, and thick base coats of red. I made the conscious choice to stick with the techniques I’d used a decade ago on my Genestealers, so my whole set would look alike; that meant sticking to one post-shading step, drybrushing (with occasional bits of edge highlighting). My April Termies got two layers after shading, and no drybrushing save for the bases.

I also switched over entirely to Citadel paints, rather than my previous mix of Citadel and Privateer, and started using GW’s parade-ready guides for my color choices. The difference between starting with Mephiston Red, a dark red/crimson, and starting with P3 Khador Red, a scarlet, is pretty striking. The scarlet base coat doesn’t leave much room to go “up” in shades.

Overall?

Overall, I can see that my painting has improved since I started up again. The more recent paint jobs are objectively better, even though they contain plenty of flaws and could absolutely be improved in a myriad of ways.

I tend to be quite hard on myself, especially about things I’ve done which aren’t perfect where I can clearly see that they’re not perfect. (As I type this, I’m literally thinking, “Crap, these felt like they were so much better but the difference just isn’t that dramatic.) I know I’m not alone in this because I see lots of other miniature painters online who are hard on themselves; after hours of working on a model, it can be tough to see anything but its flaws.

It’s good to be able to see some improvement. The hours I’ve put in are paying off — and I have so much more to learn!

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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Squad Dolos

Squad Dolos was the second 40k kit I built, back in mid-March, but they got nudged back in my painting queue to make room for minis that looked more exciting. But now, after pushing hard to finish Squad Ultio in April, and then spending 10 days on my Rhino (and, to be fair, tons of assembly), simple minis with a limited color palette sound perfect to me.

Squad Dolos, 2nd Company, 3rd Squad

Thanks to a generous fellow #warmongers poster on Twitter, I have a stock of old Blood Angels transfers — including some for squads that GW no longer provides on decal sheets (at least to my knowledge). That means plenty of red blood drops for these Infiltrators’ knees, which is good because 100% of them have knee plates that support transfers.

Other than those knees, they follow my usual Blood Angels color guide. The knee pads will be Averland Sunset > Agrax Earthshade > Yriel Yellow. (May 19 update: After shading with Agrax, the Averland was much too dark to read as yellow. I painted over it with Averland, then just highlighted with Yriel.)

Sergeant Dolos

Lots of black on these guys — many more gaskets and seals in the Mark X Phobos Armor than in the shorty marine armor I’m used to painting, plus I’ve gone with black for the “soft” items, like the straps, pouches, and holsters. Should look pretty rad when they’re done!

Down to lenses and their main color, Mephiston Red

They’re coming along slowly, but I hope to have them finished up this week. That would bring me to almost exactly the halfway point in my current army list, model-wise: 25 marines, 1 Dread, 1 tank. Adding 1 character to that tally would be exactly halfway.

Alongside these guys, I also put the final coat of varnish on the bottom and treads of Relentless. I discovered that all three of my backup bottles of Vallejo Matt Varnish were discolored and an odd consistency, like maybe they’d gone bad. The bit I had to use — because I’d finally exhausted my original bottle — messed up the wash and dried funny where I applied it, so it was lucky that that happened to be the least-visible spot on the whole tank, the bottom panel.

Relentless in my little drying station

I’ve almost broken off the gunner’s helmet antenna by dropping this tank several times, so there’s no way I’m resting its entire weight on that spot while it cures!

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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

My first mini of May: Relentless

My first 40k tank is also my first completed model in May: Relentless, the designated transport for Squad Karios, 2nd Company. It’s my first partly because it just plain took me longer than I expected, but also because I spent at least as much time assembling minis as painting in the first week or so of the month.

Here are its two golden angles:

Relentless, 2nd Company; designated transport for Squad Karios, 2nd Company, 1st Squad
Let me get some action from the back section

And the full lightbox treatment — including my first use of the little hatch in the top of my cube, since this model has a top worth showing on its own.

Front (not visible, but there: tiny windshield wipers!)
Left side, including the entry hatch with 1st Squad livery

I’ve mentioned before that there are stages of the painting process when the miniature starts to come alive — the wash makes it look real, the highlights give it life — but with Relentless was surprised to find that that stage was the very last one: the livery. Putting on the decals makes it feel like a vehicle in a larger force, like a part of the Blood Angels chapter. I dig that.

Rear view, with my beloved hazard stripes on the deployment ramp/door
Right side, with my second attempt at writing the tank’s name on the banner
Top view; there are a zillion ways to approach top livery, but I thought these two made the most sense for aerial assets observing the battlefield

I always forget that “generic” Space Marine kits assume you’re building Ultramarines, so I’ve probably put the gunner’s Cog Mechanicum pauldron on the wrong side. But hey, it’s not like it’s perfect apart from that! Loads of little mistakes abound.

Nonetheless, I’m happy with Relentless and excited to have completed my first 40k tank. I’ve got one more in my current army list, the Land Raider Crusader Judgment, plus a few more in my backlog. Painting them should get a bit smoother every time, and before I know it what seemed difficult on this one will just be routine.

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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: final stages on Relentless

I had the day off on Friday, so I finished touch-ups on Relentless. So far my experience with vehicles — this one and my Dreadnought, so still quite limited — is that they look simple but feel like they take forever.

Touch-ups done

Unlike a Space Marine, I can’t just shade a Rhino in one go. There’s nothing to hold onto, the washes run, and everything is sticky for a little while. So stages it is!

First stage of shading: treads, wheels, and undercarriage

Honestly there’s no real reason to shade the bottom — or even paint most of it, for that matter. But I knew it would feel incomplete to me if I didn’t do the bottom.

After an hour, the bottom was dry enough to serve as my “handle” to wash the sides.

Fully shaded
Partway through layers

My stopping point on Friday night was with all the first-order layers done except for the biggie, red. That looked like an easy 1-2 hours of work, and what came next was stressing me out a bit: Do I just proceed through all of my usual highlights, like I would on a Space Marine, or do I attempt “scraped down to the bare metal” sponge-weathering on the corners and other high-use areas of the tank body?

So on Saturday I broke out my test mini, tore off a couple bits of foam from a miniature case (the extras), and tried this on my designated test mini.

Attempting some sponge weathering

I don’t think that makes enough of a difference to be worth the risk, so I’m going to file “first use of weathering” under techniques I’ll try down the road.

One side’s first layer of highlights done

Such is the power of edge highlighting that even though I’m not very good at at, the model still looks better with it than without it. Just contrast the highlighted side with the top; the difference is striking.

I wrapped up Saturday night with just the name scroll, decals, and varnish to go.

Almost there!

Come Sunday morning, I had the decals done and moved on to the name scroll. Nothing inspires awe in your foes like the name [Relentless____]. Yeah. So, back to the Rakarth Flesh and the Agrax Earthshade and then another try.

Well…shit

I’ll save the final photos for a separate post, after the varnish dries. This tank was a ton more work than I expected, but I figure I’ll get faster at it the more vehicles I paint.

Rhino color guide

All the colors are the same as any of my other Blood Angels, but there are a few little notes to add (shades are in italics, as always):

  • Headlights: Averland Sunset > Agrax Earthshade > Yriel Yellow
  • Lenses: Moot Green or Caledor Sky > Agrax Earthshade > Moot Green or Lothern Blue
  • Cog Mechanicum: Abaddon Black/Corax White > Agrax Earthshade > White Scar

As I was trying to remember which color I used to brighten up the white on the cog, I realized I’d done them the opposite of the one on Narses, my Librarian Dreadnought. His scheme came off GW’s page, the studio scheme (skull’s left side white), while this guy’s came off a web reference (skull’s left side black). Poking around, I see that the studio scheme shown in the GW store varies at least some of the time — the Skitarii Ranger 360 model, for example, has the same pattern as my Rhino’s gunner.

Ah well! It’s not the only mistake I made, and it won’t be the last. I’m still pretty happy with Relentless.

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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!

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Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Death Company and fun with bases

This past weekend I found myself in a funny spot: Excluding Commander Dante, who’s still on his sprue (I’m not ready to mess with resin quite yet), 100% of my other models to paint this month were drying or curing and couldn’t be painted…but I was in the mood to do hobby stuff.

My backlog has now grown to the point where even if I build my entire current army list, I won’t be short of other things to build when assembly is what I’m in the mood to do with my hobby time — so I started in on my June painting queue. Specifically, Death Company box.

Brother Zahariel

As always, I started with the leader — except that by the rulebook, Death Company battle-brothers don’t really have one, at least not within their squads. They’re generally led by a Chaplain who can manage them on the battlefield. So what to name this squad?

I decided that it would be Squad Zahariel, in honor of former Sergeant Zahariel, a noble and long-lived Space Marine who had fallen to the Black Rage.

Kitbashing a “leaping into flight base” (with a little extra support for this one)

I knew I wanted these guys to be leaping into flight — like the Assault Squad, which includes cool little base add-ons that give them some lift — so I dipped into my bits box and came up with some scrap that would work. (Two pairs of legs are posed standing squarely on the ground, so I didn’t mess with those.)

Finding the right pieces, matching them up to the right poses, and making it all work was a lot of fun. I love this aspect of assembly, and even though it’s quite light as kitbashing goes I have to start somewhere. Baby steps!

I also managed to glue 4/5 of their jump packs on, and let their glue set for several hours, before realizing that I’d placed them about 1-2mm too low. With some wrenching and a bit of surgery I managed to sort them out, and any evidence of my screw-up is well-hidden deep in the crevice between back and pack.

Squad Zahariel, Death Company

This is a great kit, loads of fun to assemble, and it includes a wealth of options, doodads, extra shoulder pads, and awesome Chainswords. I’d gladly build a few more of these boxes.

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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

Weekend work in progress roundup, army lore, and 500

I finished listening to the audiobook of The Devastation of Baal last week, and then over the weekend — while naming my Sanguinary Guard — realized that I now know something else about my Blood Angels army. Before that I had two bits of lore/flavor around my army:

  • They all wear helmets, no bare-headed models
  • Their bases are meant to be the plains of Armageddon

To which, because of the events of the Devastation, I can now add:

  • My army is post-Devastation of Baal, because it includes both Primaris and non-Primaris Marines

Lore-wise I might be getting a bit fuzzy here, because the only info on post-Devastation Sanguinary Guard — all but one of whom died fighting Leviathan — is on 40k wikis, but that points to the Guard being composed of the lone survivor and Primaris Marines. I see no reason the new Guard can’t be composed of a mix of Primaris and non-Primaris, though, so that’s what I’m going with in my head.

Prepping my May minis

I also found myself on May 1st without a single ready-to-paint model, so I set about getting a few to that stage. That entailed doing the texture paint on Squads Amedeo and Dolos, and priming my Rhino, Relentless.

Into the painting queue with you!

I soon realized that properly priming Relentless was going to be a two-day job. For day one, I did the undercarriage and both ends; it then sat overnight to allow the primer to cure.

I briefly considered not painting the bottom…but yeah, that would drive me bananas

On wings of frustration

As I was listing my May 2020 BGG painting challenge minis, I realized I couldn’t put off figuring out how to name my squad of Sanguinary Guard any longer. They have no sergeant; to the best of my knowledge, Space Marine squads are traditionally named after their sergeant. That’s how I’ve done all of mine.

But these guys are weird. The unit is four, often accompanied by an Ancient — but he’s not part of the squad. He’s a character, he gets a name; that’s Brother Abaoz. But the rest? It seems easiest to name them all and pick the one I like best as the nominal squad leader (since the actual squad leader is Commander Dante): Remiel, Uriel, Zarnaah, and Ballaton.

Squad Remiel rolls off my tongue the best, so Squad Remiel it is. They’re all angel names, which I found by Googling “angel names.” As always, I bounced them off Lexicanum’s list of known Blood Angels names so as to be reasonably sure I’m not claiming someone who already has a place in the lore. (Emphasis on reasonably; I’m going to overlap at some point, it’s almost inevitable — and that’s okay.)

Curse these wings

Their wings, though? Most frustrating thing I’ve glued in my two months of building 40k minis. There’s no “mating” joint, no locking nub, nothing to ensure that the wing is in the correct spot and matches its partner. The instructions imply where they go, but even with the angled 360-degree spinning model on GW’s site I still wasn’t totally confident.

It took me 45 minutes to do Remiel, and most of that was his wings. And every time I’d adjust them, his awesome sword-arm pose would slip because of his huge pauldron, and then the other wing would get bumped, and then…

Brother Remiel, first among equals

The outcome, though, is a straight-up badass pose. Brother Remiel is winding up for a death blow while leaping into the sky, all motion and dynamism. His wings don’t quite match, and that gap at his right shoulder is going to require a healthy amount of Agrax Earthshade to cover up — but this is a great sculpt, and he should look awesome when he’s painted.

I returned to Squad Remiel on Saturday, armed with a new approach: I came prepared to relax, which sounds funny but can be quite effective; I built in a pause between gluing on their arms and wings, to make sure the arms were fully set; I test-fit the wings before the glue on the arms and pauldrons was dry, so I could nudge them around a bit before it was too late; and I checked both wings from every angle before their glue was fully set, leaving time for delicate adjustments to them as well.

Squad Remiel, led by Sanguinary Ancient Abaoz

The end result is one of the coolest squads I’ve built so far. I absolutely love these guys. Whereas after building Remiel I was kind of glad I only had one box of them, with the squad done I certainly wouldn’t mind doing another box. Their details, their dynamic poses, the massive melee weapons — I was drawn to them way back when I was choosing a Space Marine chapter, and now I remember why.

500!

Yore also hit a fun little milestone, one I’ve been watching for since I got back into blogging this past February: 500 impressions in a day.

April 30, 2020

Thank you for reading Yore! I write it because I want to, but I like knowing that folks are reading it — and hopefully getting some mileage out of it, too.