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Finished miniatures Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

1,034 points of Blood Angels painted!

My painting pace has slowed a bit because based on the current COVID-19 status here in Seattle it seems pretty clear that I don’t need to be working towards the possibility of actually playing 40k by the end of summer — but I’ve still been quietly working on my army every day.

The points values will almost certainly change as soon as they’re updated for 9th Edition, but as it stands now under 8th Edition rules this is 1,034 points of WYSIWYG Blood Angels (photographed on June 21).

My current Blood Angels army

There are elements of the 1st, 2nd, and 10th Companies here, as well as the Chapter Master and characters from the Librarius and Reclusiam. I started building my first Blood Angel on March 11 and finished my most recent mini as of this photo, Commander Dante, on June 20. I’ve also built the rest of my army, and done priming and basing work on some of them, so there’s a bit of fuzz factor to the total time spent. Nonetheless, this represents about 14.5 weeks of painting.

June has been my slowest month so far, but I’ve still managed seven miniatures as of the date I wrote this post (June 21). By the time fall rolls around, I might just have a complete 2,000-point army for the first time in my life. It feels good!

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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Commander Dante

My original plan for Dante was to go with the studio recipe for gold on Blood Angels — Retributor Armour> Agrax Earthshade> Auric Armour Gold > Liberator Gold — and not the scheme for Dante and the Sanguinary Guard, which is brass over bronze. They’ve got gold armor, why not make it gold?

But then I followed the studio scheme for some other Blood Angels, even when it wasn’t my first instinct, and loved the outcome. And I thought that this “angelic brass” look would also help set them apart from the rest of the army (which I suspect is part of why it’s the studio scheme!). So I went for it, more or less — and I’ll be damned, it turns out gold!

I finished him up on June 20.

Commander Dante, Blood Angels Chapter Master
Rear view

I was fascinated to see how Dante would go from deep, dark bronze to gold, so I took a couple WIP photos to highlight the stages of that process. This kind of magical transition is one of my favorite things about miniature painting.

Base-coated and washed, so his armor is currently Warplock Bronze > Agrax Earthshade
First layer colors down, so his armor now has Brass Scorpion layered on top of about 90% of it.

With one exception, all of my Blood Angels to date have had their layers applied the same way: as edge and transition highlights. Somehow this makes them read as fairly bright red despite the fact that most of their armor is still Mephiston Red darkened with an Agrax Earthshade wash.

The exception is the Chaplain’s helmet, which had its first layer (atop a Rakarth Flesh base coat and a wash of Agrax Earthshade) applied to 90% of the surface area rather than just the edges/transitions — I basically repainted the whole helmet in Pallid Wych Flesh, leaving only the cracks/shadows alone. Then the final layer, White Scar, went on as an edge highlight.

That second approach was the only way I could see Dante’s armor turning out gold. If I left it mostly dark bronze, no amount of edge highlighting was going to change that. Unlike a normal Space Marine, he has musculature and other features molded into his armor that make it fairly simple to paint the “highest” areas over completely — trusting the lower pigment count in the layer paints to allow the richness of the bronze underneath to show through — and then do a spot/edge highlight with the final, most gold-colored, layer.

It definitely didn’t come out perfect, but it was a blast and I can see doing more parts of other figures this way in the future.

Commander Dante color guide

I mostly stuck to the studio colors, but diverged in a couple places — mainly because I didn’t want to buy more paint and I didn’t have the right green for his laurel or the Fenrisian Grey for his black elements. (Shades in italics, as always.)

  • Armor: Warplock Bronze > Agrax Earthshade > Brass Scorpion > Runelord Brass
  • Black elements: Abaddon Black > Dark Reaper > 50/50 Dawnstone/Calgar Blue
  • Eyes, jets, and axe blade: Caledor Sky > Drakenhof Nightshade > Temple Guard Blue > Baharroth Blue
  • Parchment, left pauldron, inner portion of halo: Rakarth Flesh > Agrax Earthshade > Pallid Wych Flesh > White Scar
  • White elements: Celestra Grey > Drakenhof Nightshade > Ulthuan Grey > White Scar
  • Leather: Screamer Pink > Carroburg Crimson > Pink Horror > Emperor’s Children
  • Seals and blood drops: Mephiston Red > Carroburg Crimson > Evil Sunz Scarlet > Wild Rider Red
  • Gunmetal: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Stormhost Silver

I was tempted to paint some Sanguinary Guard first before taking on the chapter master himself — but when I started this army I painted a Sergeant Karios first rather than an unnamed battle brother, so in that spirit I started the “golden boys” with Dante.

It feels good to have him done, and it was fun to paint just one figure rather than a whole squad. I’m impressed with Citadel’s recipe for the gold on him (and the Sanguinary Guard), which includes no gold paint but somehow reads perfectly as gold.

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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Crossing the 50% mark with my Blood Angels army

I’ve been watching the race between my two most-used paint pots, Mephiston Red and Astrogranite Debris, to see which one would have the honor of being the first one to expire in service of Sanguinius…and it was the texture paint!

My first dead soldier

Battle-brother Astrogranite Debris’s loyal service provided terrain for 33 Space Marines, 1 Dreadnought, and 1 little teleport homer — over half of my current army. That seems like a pretty solid performance.

Squad Amedeo and Chaplain Arrius

In the course of using up that texture paint, I finished my Sternguard Veterans, Squad Amedeo, and my Chaplain, Arrius, on June 12th.

Sergeant Amedeo, Chaplain Arrius, and my favorite battle-brother from the squad
Rear view of those three
The remaining three brothers of Squad Amedeo
Space Marine booty

I have some WIP photos for these guys, but I’m going to forego them. It’s already been some time since I posted, and WIP when it’s really “work in progress, like, weeks ago” doesn’t hold the same appeal.

Wrapping up these lads brings me to 884/2,000 points — although given my current painting pace, point values may all change due to 9th Edition before I finish!

My Sanguinary Guard and Commander Dante are up next.

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Gunpla Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

A little omnibus WIP post: 40k and Gunpla

When I stopped posting hobby stuff — both here and on Twitter — on May 31, I didn’t stop working on 40k miniatures or building Gunpla. (I did take a lot fewer pictures as I went along, though.) Some time away has made me realize that I miss having this creative outlet and that spending less time on Twitter increases my well-being. So I’m coming back to blogging, slowly, and staying entirely off Twitter. We’ll see how that goes.

To catch the blog back up, here’s an omnibus of the few WIP photos I had backlogged.

Gunpla

MG Astray Red Frame Kai — finally done with the body!
I picked up an MG ∀ kit to work on next (although it got leapfrogged by a cute little HG kit), and the difference in box size between it and my Kai is striking

40k

Squad Amedeo starting to take shape
Amedeo WIP
Nearly there with the Chaplain and the Sternguard!
Chaplain Arrius freshly shaded
My Sanguinary Guard getting their base coats, and the Land Raider Crusader partially primed

I’ve got several posts queued that cover the stuff I’ve finished during my hiatus; those are up next, a couple each week.

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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 > Agrax Earthshade > 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.