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Deathskulls Orks Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

At long last, Thragg’s Deff Ladz! Plus six variations on Ork skin

I built the first of Thragg’s Deff Ladz (my second mob of Boyz for my Deathskulls Ork army, Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas) on January 17th, and have chipped away at them slowly but surely for the past two months. Since I’ve mostly painted rank-and-file Orks so far, this 98-point unit brings me up to 356/2,000 points and 34 finished models.

Back in February, after I abandoned the notion that I was going to paint these lads in two batches; painting 11 minis at once kind of bogs me down, but I can’t argue with the logic of it

I’m not painting at the same pace in 2021 that I did in 2020. And that’s okay! Even if I only do 5-10 minutes in a given day, my hobby streak remains unbroken (today is day 387) and those few minutes are still more than the zero minutes I was putting in for many, many years.

Part of it is that after a year in isolation, the prospect of actually playing 40k still seems like it’s probably 8-12 months away. I’m still enjoying miniature painting as a hobby, but now I have one finished 2,000-point army — the goal of finishing a second feels less urgent. So I’m taking it easy, not gunning the engine and risking burnout.

Along the way, I also picked up a second paint rack. My whole paint library is now accessible, with room to spare. I’m an organized person, by and large, and this appeals to me greatly!

Man, I picked a weird-ass angle for this shot

Anyhoo, time for some Boyz! Let’s fire up the ol’ lightbox.

Get stuck in, you gits!

Thragg is in the center; my favorite in the mob is on the far right, biting that Space Marine dagger blade-in because Orks are not so bright
Rear view of the first five
The second batch; I also like the rightmost mini a lot
Rear view of the back six

And as always, a casual shot (a mix of natural and artificial light):

All 11 of Thragg’s Deff Ladz

Ork skin tones

With Thragg’s Deff Ladz complete, I’ve now used all six skin tone recipes that are currently in my main Ork color guide (plus 3/5 of the recipes I use for Deathskulls blue, and both of my teeth/nails options). The Ladz are a mix of two quite different schemes, one based on Castellan Green and the other on Caliban Green. I love the Caliban version; they start out super-dark green (with a black wash) and highlight up to a very cartoony look.

Now that I’ve tried them all, I took four photos showing each of the six colors, all in the same order (which is the order in which they currently appear in my color guide). So in terms of base paint > shade paint, that’s:

  1. Waaagh! Flesh > Biel-Tan Green
  2. Waaagh! Flesh > Athonian Camoshade
  3. Deathworld Forest > Athonian Camoshade
  4. Deathworld Forest > Biel-Tan Green
  5. Castellan Green > Athonian Camoshade
  6. Caliban Green > Nuln Oil
It took some doing to find one of each with no war paint on their left arms!
Same models, but in a full-body view
And again, but this time in a casual shot with different lighting
Same lighting, full-body view

Recipes 1 and 2 are almost identical to one another; ditto with 3 and 4; really, I have four major recipes with two variations. The variations only differ in which shade paint is used, and unless they’re side by side and you know to look for it that difference is hard to spot. But I like variety in my motley crew, and even just counting the four “main” recipes I’ve got quite a bit of it in my army (all tied together, I hope, by their shared palette of secondary colors and especially by their war paint).

Similarly, my blue recipe built on Kantor Blue is quite similar to the default Macragge Blue version (at least the way I wash and highlight them). But Thousand Suns Blue makes for a vibrant and quite distinctive finished product; I really like that one.

Next up is Da Fancy Wun, my Taurox/Trukk conversion, which is currently primed, partially painted, and waiting for the sealant on the bottom-most wheel spikes to cure.

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Blood Angels Space Marines Deathskulls Orks Life Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk Terrain Warhammer 40k

My 2020 in miniature painting

In 2020, I became a miniature-painter. Prior to February, I was a guy who sometimes painted miniatures and generally didn’t especially enjoy it. But this year I painted more minis than I had in my 30+ years of sporadic painting prior to 2020 — almost twice as many, in fact. So I’m still a beginner, in many (many!) ways, but not quite as a green as I was before.

All of the miniatures I painted in 2020

Before I get into stats and silly stuff I kept track of, though, I want to pause to write about the pandemic.

Yore isn’t a news or current events blog (there are many better places to go for that sort of info and content), so I haven’t really blogged about the Covid-19 pandemic. This is one of my refuges, and I hope that perhaps it’s been one of yours.

The toll this virus has taken is staggering: over 340,000 dead in the US alone. More than 418,000 Americans died in World War II; that we’re likely to match that total before herd immunity is reached, and with so many of these deaths being preventable, is heartbreaking.

If you’ve lost someone this year, my heart goes out to you. I can’t imagine what that must be like, in the midst of all of this. If you’ve lost your job, your peace of mind, or any measure of stability, I am so sorry for that loss. Whoever you are, reading this right now, I hope things improve for you and yours.

Miniatures by the numbers

In 2020 I finished painting the following models (I’m not counting assembled, primed, or partially painted minis — just varnished and ready for play):

  • Blood Angels (56):
    • 35 classic Space Marines
    • 10 Terminators
    • 5 Primaris Space Marines
    • 1 Land Raider
    • 1 Rhino
    • 2 Dreadnoughts
    • 2 Teleport Homers
  • Deathskulls Orks, Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas (22):
    • 10 Ork Boyz
    • 1 Nob
    • 10 Gretchin
    • 1 Killa Kan
  • Space Hulk (15):
    • 12 Terminators
    • 3 objectives
  • Terrain (4):
    • 1 medium/large Manufactorum piece
    • 3 small Manufactorum pieces
  • Grand total: 97 miniatures

A full quarter of my output was in December, when I set a personal record: 26 miniatures in one month. I know that’s small potatoes for dedicated hobbyists, but it’s a lot for me!

My overall favorite miniature that I painted in 2020 is also my last one of the year: Mukkit, my first Killa Kan. It’s not just recency bias, either; I poured everything I’ve learned about painting into this guy.

Mukkit the Killa Kan

I got out the first miniature I finished in 2020, Brother Scipio from Space Hulk (2/27), and threw them in the lightbox together for a first/last comparison shot:

My first (L) and last minis (R) of 2020

My MVP brush for the year, the Citadel S Layer — which I bought before learning that animal-hair brushes were a thing — finally died at the end of December. I replaced it with a Princeton Velvetouch size 0 Round, an excellent synthetic brush with similar characteristics. This size has become my workhorse, handling everything from edge highlights to base-coating details to eyes.

I spent about 10 months painting 2,200+ points of Blood Angels (November 2020)

I learned a lot about painting this year. I still have a lot to learn, and a lot to continue improving upon. Painting was a real source of joy for me in 2020. Capturing that joy and that learning process here, and hopefully in ways that might be useful to other painters, has been a lot of fun as well.

I like tracking stuff

A few other stats I’ve kept track of:

  • Hobby streak: From the day I started painting again to the end of the year, I maintained an unbroken hobby streak of 314 days. Doing at least a little bit of assembly/priming/painting every day played a huge role in keeping me motivated and moving, and in getting this many minis done.
  • Hand-washing: Since mid-March, I’ve recited my Covid-19 hand-washing mantra — the opening narration for Star Trek: The Next Generation — approximately 950 times. (I don’t, like, log this or anything; I’m backing into my total based on an average of 3x a day since March 12, when we went into isolation.)
  • Audiobooks: Having gotten into audiobooks at the same time as 40k, and explicitly as an accompaniment to painting, I listened to 15 excellent 40k books this year (almost all of them by my favorite author/narrator pairing, Dan Abnett and Toby Longworth). Favorite titles include Ravenor (Ravenor v.1), Necropolis (Gaunt’s Ghosts v.3), and Brothers of the Snake.
  • Movies: I watched 183 movies, 44 of which were 2020 releases. Birds of Prey was my favorite 2020 film, and the last thing I saw in the theater; I hit four viewings by year’s end. (I log and comment on every movie I’ve seen on Letterboxd.)
  • Music: I listened to 52 hours of music, all on Spotify; genre-wise, hip-hop and electronica were my top two. My favorite 2020 releases were Birds of Prey: The Album (various artists), HOUSE OF ZEF (Die Antwoord), and BE (BTS), and dang if that isn’t a decent snapshot of my musical tastes.
  • RPGs: I played 87 RPG sessions, 27 of which were solo. I only played one 2020 release, Brindlewood Bay; it’s a hoot. Unusually, it’s the first game I can remember that both of my groups are playing at the same time.
  • Blogging: I wrote 166 blog posts, about 40% of my total output here on Yore since 2012. 2020 also marks the year when Yore crossed the tipping point from being primarily about tabletop RPGs (166 posts as of December 8) to being primarily about minis and my hobby journey (the 167th minis post was on December 8).

Here’s to 2021

While I doubt we’ll get “back to normal” in 2021, I think things will start to look up in the spring and summer, and playing 40k seems like it could happen next winter. (I’m last in line for the vaccine, as I should be, and my family’s bubble, distancing, mask usage, and other precautions don’t seem likely to change for months.) But there’s ample reason to hope for a better year, and hope for it I do!

Thank you for reading Yore. Stay safe out there.

Categories
Blood Angels Space Marines Deathskulls Orks Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Pondering a second 40k army…Orks, maybe?

Ever since I decided on Blood Angels for my 40k army, back in February/March of this year, I’ve had the vague notion that it might be fun to have a second army on a back burner of my brain. I’ve kept the flame on that back burner quite low, if you will; I know how easy it can be to kill my own momentum.

But I’m one squad away from 2,000 points of Blood Angels, with another 700 points assembled and in various stages of priming/basing/painting, and as of November 8th my hobby streak stands at 260 days. My careful, flexible approach to building and maintaining my momentum has been successful for months now, and I think it’s resilient enough to handle a second force.

The siren song of Kill Team

I’ve been curious about Kill Team since February of this year, and like the idea of painting small numbers of one or more factions to use in that game. That seems like a good way to back into a second army for 40k, too.

And ditto with terrain, as while my plan remains to play primarily at my local shop (post-pandemic, of course), on a longer timeline — and with two armies, so I can loop in friends who might like 40k but don’t want to paint — I can see building up a stash that includes terrain and one or more play mats at home. Starting with a small Kill Team board worth of infrastructure sounds like a solid baby step.

Waaagh!

Bringing me full circle on this noodling was remembering how close I came to picking Orks back when I got into 40k. Adeptus Custodes came close as well, and the new Necron stuff looks so amazing that it’s prompted me to look into their lore — which is amazing. And, of course, Indomitus coming with a basic Necron kill team (all Warriors, kind of boring) and the solid foundation of a Necron army gives them their own appeal.

But right now the Orks are really calling my name.

Several months of painting clean, polished, bling-covered, aesthetics-first Blood Angels makes the idea of doing up some proper dirty, weathered Boyz sound like a fun palate-cleanser. I’ve enjoyed experimenting with weathering on my bases; applying those skills to a whole force seems like it’d be enjoyable. Same with their skin, which is quite different than Space Marine armor; learning to paint that well sounds like fun.

Similarly, I’ve enjoyed assembling a bits box and using it to convert minis, create scenery for bases, and build out my Marines in different ways. The notion of painting an entire army that thrives on stealing and converting other factions’ crap is pure catnip.

Ditto the amount of variety, messiness, and character of the Orks: starting my own Waaagh!, creating characters rather than following lore, theming my force, creating tribes, and on and on. I love working on Blood Angels, following their lore and force organization and whatnot; that was a conscious choice (I could have created my own chapter, etc.), and it’s enjoyable. But a contrast sounds fun, too.

And while Orks do have faces, something I’ve studiously avoiding painting, 1) they’re not human and are free to look cartoonish, and 2) their eyes can be a solid color, without pupils. That second one is a biggie, as eyes intimidate the crap out of me; bad ones can ruin the whole mini.

Plus it hit me that it could be fun to give them hive world-themed bases, flat with no texture paint but lots of details, which would match many Kill Team boards (with their buildings and ruins) and be a change from my “plains of Armageddon” bases on my Blood Angels.

So now I’m reading about Orks, diving into the various clans and their lore and color schemes, and looking at how big a commitment an Ork kill team would be — and how fun the KT-eligible units would be to paint.

Deathskulls?

I’m instinctually drawn to Evil Sunz, who love going fast and fielding converted vehicles, but I don’t want to paint a second army red. I also love the color scheme of the Bad Moons, since most of the Ork bits I’ve weathered have been yellow and it turns out great, but their lore is a bit less appealing.

Which has me considering Deathskulls, the looters who love converting stuff and have blue as their dominant color.[1] It’s my understanding that a Waaagh! can loop in multiple clans, too, so perhaps I could splash in some Bad Moons and Evil Sunz as well; I’m not positive how that works rules-wise.

That would give me blue to contrast with red, vehicles to contrast with assault troops, Ork skin to contrast with armor plating, and a force that makes sense as opposition for my Blood Angels (for hosting battles at home where I provide both sides). The logic tracks.

I also often have bad luck with die rolls, so Deathskulls are fun there as well: I like the idea of Orks painted in their lucky color having bad luck with dice. The conversion possibilities seem endless, too — like this Reddit poster who is outfitting his Deathskulls in looted Space Marine armor. Or sneaky Orks in barrels. I could do a squad of Kommandos that are all stuck inside Imperial crates and barrels; the crates could be half-open, wrapped around each Ork. That stuff is a hoot, and sounds like so much fun to work on.

This bit from a Warhammer Community post on the Deathskulls really grabs me, too:

You never really own a gun in the 41st Millennium – you merely look after it for a bit until an Ork takes it from your cooling corpse. No Ork clan demonstrates this shamelessly larcenous quality better than the Deathskulls – avaricious, superstitious Orks who’ll steal anything that isn’t nailed down… after which they’ll steal everything that is nailed down. Including the nails.

Clan Fokus: Deathskulls

Plus Squigs. I love Squigs.

Right now I’m just in the noodling stage, but I’m also at the point where the culmination of months of gentle noodling has given me a lot of tools with which to firm up my ideas.

[1]: Based on this Warhammer TV video, for a color recipe I think I’d try Macragge Blue > Agrax Earthshade wash, possibly as a pin wash > Chronus Blue drybrush > weathering. Lots of ways to do that weathering, but Duncan’s sponged-on Rhinox Hide followed by dots of Leadbelcher looks quite nice.

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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.