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Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Musings on magnetizing minis and drilling barrels

Back when I got into minis in earnest this past February, I considered magnetization and boring out gun barrels, both of which share the same tool: a pin vise or hand drill. Given the outlay of cash and time to get an army rolling, and my long history of false starts and aborted attempts at getting into this hobby, adding another step (time) that required more tools (money) seemed like a bad idea — and one that might kill my momentum.

I’ve carefully guarded and maintained that momentum for eight months now, and occasionally considered magnetization and barrel-drilling but decided that the time wasn’t right. I also reasoned that if I encountered a need for a different bit of wargear on a unit in the future, since I’m building an army for the pleasure of it, buying that unit again and assembling it a new way wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Enter Moonkrumpa

But as I got my Deathskulls Ork army, Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas, off the ground, I stumbled across the rules for Moonkrumpa’s two special pieces of wargear, the Tellyport Blasta and the Kustom Force Field. With no clear date when I’ll actually be able to play 40k, I’ve held off on reading the rules; they’ll just fade away before I get a chance to play. And I make my choices almost entirely based on the Rule of Cool, so that’s worked out fine so far.

Somehow, though (probably by browsing DakkaDakka), I’ve picked up enough to understand that the KFF is probably a much better choice, mechanically, than the Blasta — despite the Blasta looking cooler. And these two parts both have a flat bottom and sit atop a single flat surface, making them perfect candidates for magnetization.

Further, this isn’t just a random unit in my Ork army — this is my first 40k character with a backstory, and he’s the leader of my entire Waaagh!. I’m invested in playing with Moonkrumpa in a way that I’m not invested in playing with Blood Angel X or Ork Y.

I’d also previously set aside my Contemptor Dread, whose weapon arm uses a ball joint that must be glued into place (rather than a peg, like the refrigerator Dreads, which allows for easy arm-swapping), to consider whether it’s worth delving into drilling and magnets for him. I have no plans to buy a second Contemptor (it’s kind of a bland kit), and in any case they can be expensive and difficult to track down.

So that gives me two units that both have what looks to be a single fairly simple spot on each that could benefit from magnetization — one of which is My Guy, to boot.

I’ve got a pin vise, some bits, and a mix of 2mm x 1mm and 3mm x 1mm magnets in the mail, and I’ve been doing some homework. There’s an awesome article on DakkaDakka, Magnetising: a Report, Tips and Tricks from a Newbie, that’s going to be my guide. I’ve also found some excellent tips on Reddit, notably about marking magnets and using bits of sprue to simplify the process and drill pressure, marking magnets, and pilot holes.

I’ll probably bore out a spare Bolter to see how that looks, and if it looks good I’ll have a minor existential crisis and then break down and drill every mini I’ve already painted…or maybe I’ll skip that, and just drill going forwards. We shall see!

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Deathskulls Orks Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Orky proofs of concept

Ever since I built my first Ork — Moonkrumpa, the Warboss of my Waaagh! — on November 16, I’ve been nervous about actually painting my initial mob of Boyz.

Which sounds kind of silly after I’ve just spent nine months painting 2,200 points of Blood Angels, right? Especially considering that Orks are a faction for which folks regularly kitbash stuff out of toilet-paper tubes? Well, yeah…except that Orks require a lot of painting techniques with which I don’t have much experience, including some — like freehand — that I’ve assiduously avoided attempting.

Getting the Boyz up on the handles for the first time to work on their bases

But at the same time, I sensed that I was stalling. So I took stock of what, exactly, I was nervous about trying and then decided to see what shook loose while painting one Boy.

Texture paint drying on bases

Here’s the list:

  • Freehand checks and dags
  • Freehand glyphs
  • Getting skin right
  • War paint
  • Weathering
  • One shade of blue vs. several shades of blue
  • Mixing layers and drybrushing on the same figure
  • Not yet having a brand/spot color that identifies Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas as my Orks

That last one was the biggie. I’ve seen two fantastic examples of personalized Ork armies in White Dwarf, one Goff army where every Ork has a red stripe painted across one eye, and one Freebooterz army whose theme is “rust and hazard stripes.” Both are brilliantly simple choices, allowing room for creative expression and variations between models, and neither requires any real additional steps (green stuff, adding bits, etc.). I’ve had a few ideas, but none have felt like The One — and this is an important conceptual step for me.

So I went into my test Ork hoping that the big question mark would sort of shake loose as I painted — and figuring that even if it didn’t, I could resolve some of the other list items in the process.

Putting paint on my first Ork, one of Skrudd’s Krumpas

Freehand…yes?

A few months ago, I read a heartening comment (I can’t recall where) about freehand that was along these lines: People will respect your attempt at freehand even if it’s not great. To which I’d add, maybe more importantly, I will respect my attempt at freehand, even if it’s not great.

With that in mind, I tried freehanding the glyph for “krump.” (I used a Princeton Velvetouch #1 round for both glyphs.)

The “krump” glyph

That’s…not terrible! Separate the two elements a bit more, and it’d be totally serviceable. It looks like I tried, and didn’t just phone it in. What the heck, can I do “moon” so I can have moon + krump on Moonkrumpa’s banner pole?

The Naz glyph (“moon”)

Yes, apparently I can! Again, not going to win any Golden Demons here, but it gets the job done.

War paint…also yes?

Bolstering by not embarrassing myself with the glyphs, it hit me that my simplest idea for establishing “Waaagh! identity,” painting one hand white on every Ork (as white is a Deathskulls accent color), had a logical iteration that was better in every way: paint one hand blue.

It’s the Deathskulls’ primary color. There’s a Warhammer TV video that features Duncan doing blue Deathskulls war paint, so I have a guide. It fits their lore, as they often apply blue war paint before going to battle. And, for good measure, testing out blue war paint would also help me answer the question about mixing shades of blue on the same model.

Caledor Sky war paint and Macragge Blue helmet

Well, shit: check, check, and check in my book. Even with only base coats — no washes, highlights, or weathering — that reads as war paint, and the clear difference between that blue and the darker tone on his helmet feels like an appropriately Orky mismatch (it’s not like these guys are nipping down to Pottery Barn with fabric swatches to get the blue juuust right; they’re kicking the nearest Gretchin and shouting, “Oi, make dat blue or I’ll krump you.”).

And fuck my ass, I even like the blue hand. Really like it. I’m going to add it to the bits of lore I’ve written about my army: Moonkrumpa’s original tribe was the Blue Handz, and their tribal identifier became a mark of membership in his Waaagh!. This is seriously as big a moment for me as coming up with Moonkrumpa; it’s the missing piece of the puzzle that clears my path to painting Orks that feel like mine.

How’s the list looking now?

  • Freehand checks and dags
  • Freehand glyphs
  • Getting skin right
  • War paint
  • Weathering
  • One shade of blue vs. several shades of blue
  • Mixing layers and drybrushing on the same figure
  • Not yet having a brand/spot color that identifies Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas as my Orks

Based on how freehanding glyphs went, I’m no longer nervous about checks and dags, either. My first few won’t look great, but I’ll improve with practice and experience. Ditto weathering, which I may also get a crack at on my terrain before I try it on my Boyz.

I have a hunch that skin and mixing layers/drybrushing will sort themselves out, too. Skin is basically cloth, and there’s an excellent article in White Dwarf #454 to use as a step-by-step reference.

Skrudd and half of his Boyz with their green, blue, and brass base coats done (plus some other random colors)

So all in all, I’m feeling pretty good about my list, much less nervous about painting these Orks — and downright excited to see how they turn out. Sometimes you just gotta paint it and see what happens.

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Deathskulls Orks Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Deathskulls Ork base color guide

The other night I painted the rocks on my first Orks’ bases…and realized that after ~9 months painting grey rocks on grey Blood Angels bases, I’d painted these rocks grey. Time for a color guide, and in this case time to test some shading options.

Testing time

First I grabbed a larger rock and primed it.

I got a rock.” — Charlie Brown

The rocks on my Blood Angels’ bases are grey with brown undertones/shadows, and a bit lighter than the lightest part of the landscape. I could see doing my Orks’ rocks as grey, too, but my instinct says to go for a brown that’s lighter and more bleached-out than the underlying landscape. So: Zandri Dust for the base coat.

So next I tried three different shades on my rock — Agrax Earthshade, Reikland Fleshshade, and Seraphim Sepia (in that order, left to right) — with a Screaming Skull drybrush over that:

I got a rok wiv stripes on it.” — Moonkrumpa

Reikland is right out (too red), but I’m torn between Agrax and Seraphim. Agrax matches the terrain better, but Seraphim contrasts with it better. “Contrast without looking dumb” is what I’m after, so I think Seraphim Sepia is the winner.

Update: After washing and drybrushing my first batch of Orks’ landscape, the rocks didn’t have nearly as much contrast as I would have liked. I drybrushed them again in Praxeti White, which is brighter than Screaming Skull, and that did the trick. The guide below uses the correct color.

Deathskulls Ork base color guide

Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas are thundering across dry, flat badlands on some anonymous, soon-to-be-devastated world (washes in italics, as always):

  • Terrain: Armageddon Dust > Agrax Earthshade > Tyrant Skull drybrush
  • Rocks: Zandri Dust > Seraphim Sepia > Praxeti White drybrush
  • Skulls: Corax White > Agrax Earthshade > Corax White drybrush
  • Tufts: Army Painter swamp, winter, or both

I may also randomly vary the rocks, even using grey/brown/white like I did on my Angels, with the idea being that the Megalootas are a much larger force and therefore spread over a wider area with more natural variation in its terrain. Not sure about that yet.

I’m going to keep the ground clutter to a minimum on these guys, so that should mostly cover it.

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Deathskulls Orks Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

I built my first Ork, Moonkrumpa

There’s an element of ritual and ceremony to The Building of the First Miniature in a 40k Army. When I started my Blood Angels army, I built Sergeant Karios first (on March 10, 2020). I deliberately didn’t hedge my bets with a vanilla Marine I could mess up — but I also didn’t go straight for a big, fancy figure. It was a perfect starting point for me.

But with Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas, my Deathskulls Ork army, I had to start with the Warboss himself, “Moonkrumpa” Grutnik. Last night, after a rather long day, I assembled him:

Warboss “Moonkrumpa” Grutnik and his Grot Oiler

No surprise, really, that I’ve essentially picked the Ork equivalent of a Terminator as my starting point! But it makes sense: The rest of this Waaagh! will flow from Moonkrumpa, since it’s his Waaagh!. He sets the tone.

The Waaagh! begins here

The Meganobz kit is an excellent and involved one, with plenty of customization options. From sprue to fully assembled, it took me about two hours to put Moonkrumpa together. (The other two models, both Meganobz, will stay unassembled until I buy a second one of these kits, as their minimum unit size is three and I’ve just peeled one off as a Big Mek.)

Moonkrumpa, both wargear choices, and his Grot Oiler all laid out

I’ve left his two wargear choices, the Tellyport Blasta and Kustom Force Field, off so that I can — probably — make them a magnetizing project sometime down the road. Because while I wanted to build Moonkrumpa first, to mark the official starting point for my Ork army, I’m not going to paint him first.

That first will go to Boss Skrudd, leader of Skrudd’s Krumpas, closely and some of his Boyz. I need to practice my Deathskulls color scheme, get used to drybrushing again, try out some weathering techniques, and consider whether this army will have a unifying mark that ties them together (beyond Deathskulls colors) — and then I can start tackling bigger, fancier models like Moonkrumpa.

Let the krumpin’ begin.

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Deathskulls Orks Miniature painting Miniatures Painting tools Warhammer 40k

Into the badlands: testing an Orky base recipe

I’m pretty sure I’ll like the basing recipe I’m using for my Deathskulls Orks, which comes straight from White Dwarf #161 (also the source of the recipe I use for my Blood Angels), but a bit less certain about the tufts. So I figured I’d do up a test base and see how it looks.

Armageddon Dust base coat

Fresh and creamy

I use the skinny end of the Citadel texture spreader for Astrogranite Debris, which is much thicker than this stuff. For Armageddon Dust, I’m liking the wide, flexible end — it smears on really easily.

Dry and ready for shading

No surprise, I guess, but this stuff dries much faster than Astrogranite Debris. There’s a chunky version of the Armageddon color, Armageddon Dunes, but I wanted the flatter bases on these guys to contrast with the hillier ones on my Blood Angels. With less aggregate in the mix, it dries faster.

Agrax Earthshade wash

Taken after the wash had mostly dried

It looks much too dark now, but I remember that stage from my “plains of Armageddon” bases. Until it’s drybrushed, it ain’t gonna look right.

This dries quickly, too — so quickly that I think I might be able to take a base from bare plastic to finished in a single day, rather than needing 1-2 overnight drying sessions like I do with my Blood Angels’ bases.

Tyrant Skull drybrush

Not too shabby!

Mine looks a bit darker than GW’s, but close enough — and I like the look.

Right after I took this photo, I realized that I’d never primed this base. D’oh! That probably explains why it looks darker: it’s riding on black, not white.

Baneblade base edge

That’ll do, Baneblade

Ignoring the crappiness of the edge (no primer…), that looks solid! Same tonal step-down as the grey-to-grey shift between Astrogranite Debris and Dawnstone on Sergeant Dolos’ base, which is exactly what I was after.

Army Painter tuft options

My brain said swamp tufts would look good; kind of a mix of green and brown. I like the contrast between my Angels’ gray bases and pale brown tufts, so brown/badlands bases with green tufts — though deliberately not bright, heavy, or totally green — seemed like a good route.

But I also wanted to try Army Painter’s winter tufts, which look more badlands-y — and look like they could pair well with swamp tufts. A mix of grasses could be nifty.

Swamp tuft
Winter tuft

They’re quite similar, as both are pale brown and black — just with the swamp tuft replacing some of the winter tuft’s brown with a splash of green.

I showed this test base to my wife, Alysia, and she said she had trouble telling the two tufts apart at arm’s length. I totally agree — in fact, I routinely forgot which one was which while writing this post.

Winter (left) and swamp (right) tufts

Gun to my head, I’d pick the swap tufts — my original idea — because they do stand out more clearly from the terrain.

But I like them both, and I like them together. Unlike my Blood Angels, who are fighting their way across a plain that has been leached of all life, my Orks are on a normal planet — so it makes sense that the grass might not all be the same color. Unless one definitively looks better with an actual Ork standing next to it, I’ll probably just use both types at random.

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Deathskulls Orks Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas

After a few days of turning over different ideas about my Deathskulls Ork army, the idea for my Warboss finally settled into place this morning: “Moonkrumpa” Grutnik, Warboss of Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas.

My Blood Angels army includes a bunch of named characters, and I’ve thought about their personalities and approaches to warfare (and carried those themes across their squads, where applicable), but Moonkrumpa is the first 40k character I’ve created who has a backstory.

I aimed for something brief, light, flavorful, and iconic, just like my two favorite Warboss backstories in the Codex: Grizgutz, a Warboss who accidentally travelled back in time and decided to kill his past self so he could have two of his favorite gun, which so confused his Boyz that his Waaagh! came to an end; and Tuska the Daemon-killa, who flew into the Eye of Terror, pleased Khorne, and now has his entire Waaagh! resurrected every day to fight daemons.

Grutnik “Moonkrumpa,” Deathskulls Ork Warboss

Warboss Moonkrumpa’s claim to fame is that he once krumped an entire moon.

He originally wanted to steal it, naturally, but it was too large. So he krumped it instead, blasting it into huge chunks, and then looted the largest pieces. Moonkrumpa and his Mekboyz hollowed those moon-chunks out and turned them into a fleet of Roks.

As the story of “da moon wot got krumped” spread, more and more Orks wanted to fight under Moonkrumpa’s banner — and a Waaagh! began to take shape.

Wot’s in a name?

If you know me, or have spent some time here on Yore, you know I overthink things. But this is perhaps the most important name, and decision, involved in making my Ork army! It bears a bit of overthinking.

So, “Moonkrumpa.” I wanted it to be distinctly Orky. “Krump” is an Ork word. This name is instantly recognizable as a 40k Ork name. And if you know your Orks, you can probably guess why he’s called that — like one of my favorite Ork names, Krooldakka.

Add in “Megalootas,” and you get alliteration (always fun), more Ork-ness (“loota” is an Ork word), and a pretty clear clue to the clan I’m playing, Deathskulls, as they’re known for looting and scavenging.

“Grutnik” was tossed off, literally the first Ork name I came up with — but it’s got a couple fun layers that work for my Warboss. “Nick” is another word for stealing, so “-nik” evokes that meaning. And it sounds like Sputnik, so Sputnik > space > moon is a fun little connection.

My original concept for Moonkrumpa was “Moonsteala,” famous for stealing a moon, but as soon as I thought of that idea I realized it was just the plot of Despicable Me. Nothing wrong with that, but not ideal — and “Moonsteala” doesn’t feel as Orky as I’d like.

So I thought, “What if instead of stealing the moon, he krumped it? And then stole the pieces that blew off?” That led to Moonkrumpa, which needed a modifier that made it clear he was a Deathskulls Ork, which begat Megalootas. And so Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas were born.

Now it’s official: Waaagh!

This is something I was excited about doing for my Orks, as it flavors the whole army and, when combined with typical Deathskulls traits (looted wargear, looted and converted vehicles, Lootas, lots of dakka, and more Mekboyz than most clans), gives me a solid foundation for making future choices about my army.

The model for Moonkrumpa, a Big Mek in Mega Armour, should arrive today, and while I won’t build him first (I’m likely to start with Boyz, just as I started with a tactical squad for my Blood Angels) I’m excited at the prospect of painting my first full-fledged 40k character.