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Blood Angels Space Marines Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Fixed Squad Cain’s cloaks and finished them up

After ruining my Scouts’ camo cloaks with overzealous highlighting, I thought about my options, slept on it, and settled on the path that sounded the most reasonable to me:

  • Repaint them in Mechanicus Standard Grey, allowing me to leave their necks alone and helping hide any areas I miss
  • For the camo, stick with Celestra Grey but switch from Dawnstone to Dark Reaper, since Dawnstone didn’t really work out
  • Wash with Drakenhof Nightshade again; that was solid
  • Do a minimal highlight just in the backpack area with Dawnstone
Step 1: repaint the cloaks

I don’t think I’ve ever tried to fix a substantial mistake at the “finished miniature” stage before. I can recall messing up my sealant a couple of times, years ago, but my “fix” was throwing away the miniature (because I didn’t know better). Fortunately the cloaks are a big, simple shape and I was able to repaint them without bodging paint onto the decals, etc.

Speaking of decals, I forgot to include this photo in yesterday’s post:

These decals just ain’t right

My GW decal sheets have been perfect so far, but these 10th Company ones — from two separate decal sheets — both have a white border. Trying to paint out the border on a pauldron I’d already washed and highlighted sounded like a bad idea, so instead I just did the lone company icon freehand. Gotta love cloaks that cover up shoulder pads, otherwise I’d have had to freehand five!

Anyhoo, they were wet when I dropped them onto my painting mat — so now they’re a part of its story forever.

Dark Reaper and a first pass on Celestra Grey laid in
Final pattern after a second pass with Celestra Grey

And here’s the silver lining of fucking these guys up and having to redo them: I got to tweak the camo colors and pattern based on the first go-round, and I remembered that “minimal highlights needed” is a situation for which I have a tool in my toolbox that I’d been overlooking — namely drybrushing!

So I hit their cloaks and with a subtle Dawnstone drybrush, which turned out well. The Dark Reaper patches basically vanish under the wash, unfortunately, but in the right light you can tell that there’s a second color in there alongside the light gray. They’re not perfect, but the camo looks like camo. I’ll take it!

And with that, my second Blood Angels squad is done.

None can hide from Mephiston’s psychic gaze

Squad Cain, 10th Company
Rear view showing the redone camo cloaks

Unrelated, bit I’m struggling a bit with the lightbox on these guys. It seems to be washing out some of their colors — or maybe it’s the auto-adjusting I’m doing in PhotoScape? Whatever the case, this photo in natural light showcases them more clearly to my eye (and you can see their red eye lenses, too!).

Natural light, messy background

And while we’re here, why not a full “army” shot, too?

And then there were 15

With Squad Cain finished, Narses is next. His base has been a lot of fun to work on, and I’m excited to paint his body.

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

WIP it good: Scouts on the painting desk

Over the past few days I worked on my converted Scouts, Squad Cain. The camo cloaks were an interesting challenge, and unfortunately they went from so-so to pretty good for my skill level to destroyed.

Squad Cain

These guys are new territory for me: The last time I painted camo was on model tanks when I was like 10 years old, and I wasn’t trying for a pseudo-digicam effect like this. (Plus, you know, I was 10.)

First cloak partially done

I think my base, Mechanicus Standard Grey, might be too close to the Dawnstone layer in tone. The other layer, Celestra Grey, pops nicely. I’m also not sure if a wash (Nuln Oil because black makes sense? Drakenhof Nightshade to pick up the blue tone in the terrain?) will darken them too much, rendering some/all of this layering work pointless.

Going back and forth between these two, adding swatches

I guess if the shading dims things down too much, I can always touch up some of the swatches when I work on other highlights. We shall see!

Steady progress on day one
Burned some midnight oil on day one and ended up here
Cloaks on day two, pretty happy with how this pattern is turning out
Day three: base coats done!

I don’t like to waste paint, so whenever I’ve got too much of a color on my palette I tackle a small element of whatever mini is on deck — in this case, the parchment and one giant toe on Narses.

Narses is officially on the board!

Post-wash, the darker camo patches on the Scouts’ cloaks are more subtle than I’d like, but the lighter ones look pretty good. My gut says I’ll mess them up if I try to redo them all, so I’m leaving them as-is.

In hindsight, this is where I should have stopped — maybe, maybe adding a delicate highlight to emphasize that their backpacks are under the cloak, but otherwise not attempting to highlight the entire cloak.

Camo cloaks after a Drakenhof Nightshade wash

Because after hours of painting these guys . . . my highlighting job basically destroyed the camo pattern. It’s like 11:00 pm as I’m writing this, so I’m too tired and frustrated to make a clear-eyed assessment of whether I can salvage them right now.

Well, shit

To do that, I’d have to either repaint the camo and then delicately reapply to wash, or just base coat the cloaks fresh and redo them completely. Only one of them (the middle guy) looks like a touch-up would save him, so I suspect my options are really 1) live with it and move on or 2) a full repaint, shade, and highlight on the cloaks. That’s a solid 2-3 hours of work, most of it in redoing the camo patches.

On the bright side, maybe I could start fresh with a different base coat color — one that has a logical highlight color — and skip the too-similar camo patches, focusing instead on only making them pop. We’ll see.

Scout color guide

Since there’s no Blood Angels Scout color guide on the GW site or the back of the box, I’m reusing what I can from the tactical squad and making a few choices of my own. (Shades are in italics. I updated this guide after fixing my Scouts.)

  • Armor: Mephiston Red > Agrax Earthshade > Evil Sunz Scarlet > Fire Dragon Bright
  • Cloaks: Mechanicus Standard Grey > Dark Reaper and Celestra Grey camo > Drakenhof Nightshade > light Dawnstone drybrush
  • Clothing: Rakarth Flesh > Agrax Earthshade > Pallid Wych Flesh > White Scar
  • Black: Abaddon Black > Eshin Grey > Dawnstone
  • Metal: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Stormhost Silver
  • Gold: Retributor Armour > Reikland Fleshshade > Auric Armour Gold > Liberator Gold
  • Helmet ventilators: tubing as metal, breather and joints as black
  • Eyes: Evil Sunz Scarlet
  • Scope lenses: Lothern Blue > White Scar
  • Rifle tubing: Macragge Blue and Averland Sunset > Agrax Earthshade > Altdorf Guard Blue and Yriel Yellow

Bases are “the plains of Armageddon,” from my Space Marine color guide.

I painted myself into a corner with my cloak color choices, since I don’t have a logical lighter set of highlight colors to use after the shading, hence the 50/50 blend. I’m not an experienced enough painter to use a blend when I want a consistent color across uniforms — but necessity demands this blend, for the Emperor and Sanguinius!

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Blood Angels Space Marines Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Squad Karios: complete!

I built my first Blood Angel, Sergeant Karios, on March 11. I finished Squad Karios, 2nd Company, 1st Squad, last night, on April 8. My army is officially under way!

Fire up the Emperor’s holy Auspex

I’m experimenting with the white background in my lightbox, and so far I like it.

Squad Karios, 2nd Company, 1st Squad

These are the most detailed paint jobs I’ve ever done, and they’ve been an absolute blast to work on. Might as well give them the full lightbox treatment!

First five
First five, rear view

I built these guys with a sub-squad leader, in case I want to split them into two five-man squads for a game. He’s in the center, just like Sergeant Karios (above).

Second five
Second five, rear view

Painting pace

Almost a month to paint 10 minis doesn’t sound too speedy, but that wasn’t all I did between 3/11 and 4/8: I also assembled, based, and primed 5 Scouts; assembled and partially based 10 Primaris Infiltrators and 5 Terminators; and assembled my first Dreadnought. So as a measure of my painting speed, it’s not a terribly useful one.

More representative is somewhere between how long it took me to do the final three — which was three days — and my typical painting speed in March, which was 16 in 31 days, or about one model every two days. I look forward to getting faster at it as I start being more confident in my brushstrokes, etc.

I’m also looking forward to my next painting project: Squad Cain, my converted Scouts. They’re already based and have a bit of paint on them here and there.

Squad Cain

Heck, given that these guys are simpler sculpts than the tactical squad I just did, I might be able to keep up my 1/day pace — or even knock out all five by Sunday.

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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: final three in Squad Karios, rolling on Squad Cain

I like being able to roll right from one painting project into the next, so my workflow always has a couple of tracks paralleling the main one — in this case, getting my Scouts fully based so that the models will be ready to paint when my tactical squad is completed.

Squad Cain’s base clutter painted up
Astrogranite Debris applied

I let the texture paint dry overnight, and then usually let the wash dry overnight as well (probably overkill, but hey), so I need to plan ahead as I close in on the finish line for this squad. Speaking of which: that finish line is in sight!

Squad Karios: the final three!

I don’t have a recipe for plasma chamber colors, so I’m going to try Altdorf Blue > Drakenhof Nightshade > White Scar. I might do a thinned layer of Altdorf post-wash, too; I’ll see how it looks first.

Chip, chip, chipping away…

There’s a kind of “nothing, then suddenly something” quality to painting, at least how I’m doing it now. It feels like the base coat takes forever (and it’s preceded by assembly, glue curing, basing, and priming), but after that the remaining steps feel like they go much more quickly.

Base coat: D-U-N-N

And with their base coat complete, I’m really on the home stretch with Squad Karios. I’ve enjoyed the details on this incredibly blinged-out kit, but I’m also looking forward to the simpler Scout figures. They should be a nice palate cleanser — while still presenting a new challenge: their camo cloaks.

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

WIP it good: battle-brothers six and seven

I worked on two more Blood Angels from Thursday to Saturday and finally got them wrapped up on Saturday night. This was a weird, busy week without as much painting time as I’d hoped — but the painting time I squeezed in was fun, and I’m happy with these two Marines.

Getting started
Other colors done, working on the Mephiston Red now
Fully base-coated, awaiting touch-ups

Side note: When I built the heavy weapon and special weapon Marines, I made sure to use legs without knee pads. Why? Because Blood Angels heraldry has the squad designation on the right knee pad, and this way I can swap these dudes around with future tactical squads without — prepare the fainting couch, Gertrude — embarrassing heraldry gaffes.

Shading time!
Parade-ready layer/highlight colors (layer one in front, layer two/highlights in back)

For once I remembered to snap a photo before applying varnish rather than immediately afterward — when, inevitably, they look incredibly shiny.

The Heavy Bolter is one of my favorite 40k weapons — I just love the look of it. Even granting that Adeptus Astartes battle-brothers are like seven feet tall, a human holding a vehicle weapon is just badass.

Aaaaand painted!

After varnish and a bit of drying time (I’ll let the varnish fully cure overnight, and won’t actually pack them up for about 48 hours), I added tufts and took a quick photo of the 7/10 squad.

Squad Karios at 70% strength
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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: on the back 50% of Squad Karios

Even though we’ve been in isolation for three weeks now, these past couple days have felt different. Stay safe out there, everyone — and by “out there” I mean at home, if at all possible.

As ever, I fit in a bit of hobby time. With five painted in March, the rest of Squad Karios beckons. Thanks to my “soft” assembly line, they’ve both got their gold, parchment bits, and eyes done already, so last night I busted out the Abaddon Black, Rakarth Flesh for one bit I forgot, and Leadbelcher.

The heavy weapon guy is one of my favorite minis in the squad

. . . And I wrapped up around 11:00 pm having done the remaining bit of parchment and all of the black. Not much progress! But progress is progress.

One more color down

Now I just have the Leadbelcher bits and the main event, Mephiston Red on all the armor, still to go for their base coats.

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Blood Angels Space Marines Finished miniatures Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk Warhammer 40k

March miniature progress

March was a productive month for me, miniature-wise: I painted 16 miniatures! As far as I can remember, this is the most figures I’ve ever painted in a single month.

  • Painted 11 Space Hulk Terminators, completing my set
  • Squad Karios: painted 5 Space Marines, primed and based 5 Space Marines
  • Squads Dolos and Ultio, Dreadnought Narses: assembled and partially based 13 models
  • Squad Cain: primed and partially based 5 Scouts

Squad Karios, 2nd Company, 1st Squad, started March on sprues and is now half done as of last night — just under the wire.

Half of Squad Karios

My 2,000-point Blood Angels army list is 50 Space Marines, 2 Dreadnoughts, 2 tanks, Commander Dante, and a Chaplain — and my backlog of other fun Blood Angels stuff for future use stands at 2 Dreadnoughts, 15 Space Marines, and a Chaplain.

At my current painting pace I’ve got a solid three months of painting just for the Marines in my list, plus the tanks/Dreads, plus my backlog; that’s got to be good for another two months, give or take. I’m looking forward to it!

Blood Angels army progress pics

I have a thread going on Twitter where I share photos of my 40k army as it reaches new milestones — full squads assembled, primed, painted, etc. Here are the photos from March:

First squad built
Two squads assembled
Three squads assembled, one of them primed and fully based
Starting to look like a little war host

I’ve never had a proper 40k army before. I started a Squat army in the mid-’90s, but never made it past one or two squads (and a like amount of games). It’s a real pleasure to be plugging away on my Blood Angels.

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

WIP it good: the “soft” assembly line

I stopped painting in pure assembly-line style (like I was doing last month), moved to two at a time, and now am experimenting with a “soft” assembly line: two on the handles, the rest of the squad nearby to make sure no paint goes to waste. Do the gold on my main two, finish it up on as many others as I can; repeat.

So far I’m digging this approach. When I finish the current two, the next two will already have several of their base coat colors in place — a nice little head start.

Two more on the handles
Working on the weekend
Several minor elements painted on the whole squad
Progress as of Sunday night — and Squad Karios all in one spot
Getting closer
Base coats: done!

At this rate there’s a decent chance I’ll have my first full Blood Angels squad completed this week!

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

WIP it good: finished two more Marines, basing scraps, color guide

I stayed up late last night putting the final highlights on two more battle-brothers of Squad Karios.

Wrapped up after 11:00 pm, back to these in the morning

Then the dog woke me up at 5:00 am, so I figured I’d start on their decals. Knees: trickier than shoulder pads! But Micro Set and Sol are great, just needed a quick second coat on one knee pad and these were good to go.

Decals done

Then it was on to varnish and Army Painter Frozen Tufts, and now two more sons of Sanguinius are finished!

Three members of Squad Karios

Bits and bobs

My stash of 40k bits was small, so I ordered a few little piles of basing stuff — rubble, scraps of other models, etc. — to jazz up some of my figures.

Scraps and clutter for basing

There’s plenty of room to play with on 40mm Terminator bases, so I added a couple pieces of scrap (and a skull) to these two members of Squad Ultio. Once I work Astrogranite Debris in around them, they should look half-buried in the plains of Armageddon.

Working on bases for Squad Ultio

Blood Angels color guide

Mostly for my own reference, here’s the colors and steps I’m using for every element of a “standard” Blood Angel (shades are in italics; everything after the shade, generally, is a layer paint). This is based on — and almost entirely matches — Citadel’s current “parade ready” paint steps for this chapter.

  • Red: Mephiston Red > Agrax Earthshade > Evil Sunz Scarlet > Fire Dragon Bright
  • Gold: Retributor Armour > Reikland Fleshshade > Auric Armour Gold > Liberator Gold
  • Black: Abaddon Black > Eshin Grey > Dawnstone
  • Metal: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Stormhost Silver
  • Parchment/white cloth: Rakarth Flesh > Agrax Earthshade > Pallid Wych Flesh > White Scar
  • Magenta: Screamer Pink > Carroburg Crimson (skipped on gems) > Pink Horror > Emperor’s Children
  • Eyes: Moot Green > Agrax Earthshade > Moot Green
  • Second Company Yellow: Flash Gitz Yellow

Plus the base:

  • Terrain: Astrogranite Debris > Drakenhof Nightshade > Grey Seer (drybrush)
  • Skulls: Corax White > Agrax Earthshade > Corax White (drybrush)
  • Rocks: Grey Seer > Agrax Earthshade > 50/50 Corax White/Grey Seer (drybrush)
  • Edge: Dawnstone

All paints are thinned with a bit of water, including layers, and at the moment I generally do one coat. I also wash the whole surface on the armor, rather than just the cracks.

For the Emperor and Sanguinius!

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

WIP it good: Squads Ultio and Karios

I love Terminators, so my starting Blood Angels army includes two squads of them — one shooty and one bashy, with the hammer boys riding in a Land Raider Crusader. For a bit of relaxation I started building Squad Ultio, the shooty Termies, starting with Sergeant Ultio and the teleport homer.

Sergeant Ultio

I’ve never painted a Terminator with a back banner (none of the Space Hulk Termies have one); that’s going to be fun.

Then it was back to Second Company, First Squad — now with a second painting handle.

Reloading Marine (L) and sub-squad leader (R)

I like having two minis on the go for a few reasons, but most notably because the more I commit to using my palette the more often I find myself with extra paint to use up; it’s nice to be able to grab a second mini before it dries out.

Done for the night

After taking 7-8 hours on Sgt. Karios, I decided to speed up my base-coating of these two members of his squad. Not sloppy, like I was years ago — but not painstakingly exact, either. Somewhere in between.

After all, touch-ups are next — and even on Karios, I had plenty of those to do. A few more on these two shouldn’t be the end of the world, and it feels good to be ready for wash > highlight > seal now that the lion’s share of the work is done.