Blood Angels Space Marines Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk

Space Hulk Terminators: officially over 50% done

With Brother Gideon wrapped up over the weekend and Brother Lorenzo put to bed today, I’ve now painted 7/12 of the Terminators in my Space Hulk set.

Gideon on the left, Lorenzo on the right

I experimented a bit more with edge highlighting on Lorenzo, and so far I like it. I went too far — both in color difference and application — on his gems, but the sword edge and “power lines” came out pretty good.

I’ll probably take a better, less-cluttered picture of the whole gang once they’re done, but here’s a quick and dirty photo to mark this milestone.

Seven down, five to go!

Seeing these guys all together makes me excited to play Space Hulk — and to watch my Blood Angels army come together, once those start hitting my painting mat.

Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk WIP it good

WIP it good: Lorenzo and the Librarian

I decided to clump the three Termies with no helmets together so I could get through all their tiny faces at once and bring Space Hulk home with the remaining relatively simple dudes. With Lorenzo mostly base-coated last night he’s first on the chopping block.

My painting space all set up for these two

I haven’t worked with black in years, and on top of white primer I’m finding it particularly unforgiving. But his off-white interior/black exterior cape is too cool not to try to pull off.

Lorenzo’s two-tone cape (I think it’s supposed to be leather)

I tried to get the little blue line in his sword to pop, so I used a new color: Army Painter Toxic Mist.

Lorenzo fully base-coated
The Librarian’s starting point for today: a sloppy partial base coat

I’m diverging a fair amount from the photo in the rulebook on this guy. His drape is supposed to be red, but I don’t know how to make that look different from his red armor; making it white means the scroll cases need to be gold; gems are staying medium blue (they’re usually a shade of red on these guys), but I’ll actually use the right color — red — for his purity seals, since you’ll be able to see them against his blue armor.

Calling it a night on him, but more to do

No idea how the yellow tubing will turn out, and I’m going to try to use pale blue edge highlighting to on the ax blade — that should be a fun experiment. But it’s dark enough now that I’m going to miss stuff, and I still have quite a bit of detail work to finish up on him.

The rest will keep. I’m tired from staring at tiny things with intense focus, time to call it a night on painting.

Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk WIP it good

WIP it good: Gideon and Lorenzo

Today I’ve got Brother Gideon ready for a touch-up before his wash, with Brother Lorenzo on deck to finish base-coating.

Termies 6 and 7 of 13

Washing/shading is becoming my favorite step. It’s such a simple, relaxing process and the work:payoff ratio is unbelievably good. As ever, this is when the mini starts to look like something I’ll be proud of when I’m finished.

Faces are my nemesis

He’s so scrunched into his helmet that I only had to paint like 45% of a face — what a relief!

While Gideon dries, I’m working on Lorenzo
Gideon with a literal fresh coat of varnish

I was hoping to wrap Lorenzo up today as well, but I kept getting distracted. Still, Gideon — whose shield was a blast to paint — takes me to 6/12 Termies and that feels damned good.

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WIP it good: Brother Gideon and his glorious shield

I noticed on Warhammer TV that Duncan nearly always thins his paint a bit, which I’ve never tried. I have a palette now, so I thought I’d give it a whirl with another Terminator: Brother Gideon, who has a truly epic Storm Shield.

Trying out a palette for the first time

A month ago, I wouldn’t even have attempted the finer lines on this shield. The palette helps, as does the right brush and ample light (about which I have a short review coming up next week; this light has made a big difference) — and the nice cold bottle of Asahi just off-camera.

I didn’t do this amazing sculpt justice, but this Storm Shield is the most detailed thing I’ve ever painted. I’ll touch it up tomorrow, in better light, along with the rest of Gideon and see how it turns out.


My Terminator box is slowly starting to fill up. Gideon is 6/12, so if I can finish him and one more Termie tomorrow I’ll be over 50% done.

And then it’s on to my Blood Angels!

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A brief existential painting crisis

With the end in sight for painting my Space Hulk set, I’ve been thinking about whether to change any of my painting techniques for my Blood Angels army. Like any rabbit hole this question can prove bottomless and intimidating.

What I’m doing now (plus sealant first and varnish last):

  1. Base coat
  2. Shade (wash) the entire miniature
  3. Drybrush

I like how this is turning out on my Terminators, but my third step — an all-over ink wash — really darkens up the miniature. Drybrushing helps it pop again, but their power armor still reads as dark red rather than sort of medium red.

I wondered if layering or edge highlighting might be something to try out, so I poked around, found this handy Citadel color chart (PDF), and started watching Warhammer TV videos. This one comparing two painting processes jumped right out at me.

Excerpt from a free Citadel color chart

In the WHTV video, Duncan Rhodes demonstrates two techniques (again, preceded by primer). One:

  1. Base coat
  2. Shade (wash) only the recesses/cracks/etc. with a fine brush
  3. Edge highlight in a lighter color

And two:

  1. Base coat
  2. Drybrush with a lighter color, but fairly broadly — edges plus larger areas
  3. Shade (wash) the entire miniature

Seeing a drybrush precede a wash blew my mind. It looks great on his finished miniatures (around 14:55 in the video), but I think I still prefer my primary wash (Agrax Earthshade) followed by a drybrush to his wash (Carroburg Crimson) preceded by a drybrush. (Duncan is a much better painter than me; this is just an aesthetic preference on my part.)

I’d been assuming that layering accompanied drybrushing, not preceded it. And maybe that’s an approach some folks take, I don’t know. But it looks like maybe it’s a full-on alternative, not an accompaniment.

On the one hand it’s gratifying to see that my simple approach is more or less a typical one. But on the other hand I really like the idea of edge highlighting and want to give it a shot — but not midstream on my Terminator squad, I don’t think. Maybe I’ll do a test paint job on an old BattleMech, a model I don’t need to match anything else I’m working on at the moment.


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A full squad of Terminators down!

Today is a big day for me: I finished two more Terminators out of the 12 that come in Space Hulk, bringing me up to what would be a full squad of them in 40k.

“Only in death does duty end.”

Until I started painting in February, I hadn’t finished a miniature in eight years. Between Feb. 22 and today I’ve finished five. Five. Fuck yeah!

They were a blast to paint. I’m energized and ready for the next seven!

Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk WIP it good

WIP it good: Valencio and Goriel

My project for this evening before tonight’s tremulus game starts: Seeing how far I can take Brothers Valencio and Goriel, who are currently partially base-coated.

Goriel is carrying a Genestealer head MK fatality-style, so I grabbed one for color reference
Valencio fully base-coated and starting on his wash
Valencio fully washed

Brother Valencio was an absolute blast to paint: braids, purity seals, gems, skull and crossbones, weird pipes, and a fun pose.

Goriel’s turn on the painting handle

Goriel wins the coveted Most Colors in His Base Coat award for these Terminators, at least so far: 10. He has every color I’ve used for Termies plus another three for the Genestealer bits.

The Terminator equivalent of sweatpants that say JUICY across the ass

Goriel has been the most challenging Termie so far because he’s covered in bling that the others don’t have: a butt skull, a skull on the hatch on his back, white braided cords, and other entertaining complexities. I keep going back to hit things I missed . . . and then seeing more I missed and going back again. And again.

March 2 (left, Omnio and Claudio) meet March 3 (right, Valencio and Goriel)

Like most of these models, I’ve diverged a bit from the paint/color guide in the rulebook — sometimes for aesthetic reasons, sometimes because I forgot a bit, sometimes because I know I can’t do some effect (like freehand 50/50 color schemes) justice yet . . . and sometimes just because Past Martin painted something the wrong color and I decided to run with it.

My back is killing me (I must have been painting like a gargoyle), so that might be it for tonight.

Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk WIP it good

WIP it good: late night edition

Look, I’m in my 40s: 8:30 is late.

I got the Leadbelcher out to work on Brothers Claudio and Omnio and figured while I was at it I’d hit the bases for a few other Termies at the same time.

5×5, in the pipe
Off to the rack with you

Then I realized I was instinctively settling back into assembly-line painting and returned to focusing solely on Claudio and Omnio.

Omnio, keeper of the Emperor’s holy TI-82 graphing calculator

I like having two minis on the go so that while one is drying I can work on the other one.

Brother Claudio (I love that they went for the pun!)

Claudio is probably my favorite mini in the whole squad. I’ve always loved Lightning Claws. And he’s a fantastic sculpt: covered in golden skulls, those cool little clusters of wires leading to his claws, draped in chains, dripping with gems — and to top it all off, he has a golden chalice on his codpiece. Baller.

Winding down for the night

I got Omnio done and dusted and then took a one-hour break while Claudio’s sealant dried . . . and came back and knocked him the fuck out too.

Two more down!

That’s two Terminators down and it’s only March 2! Technically I painted four figures last month, although only two were normal-sized; the other two were little bits of “stuff” for a mission. Even so, I’m halfway to hitting my mark for all of February with plenty of March to go.

Today was one of my most productive painting days ever.

Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk

Coming soon: Genestealer showcase

Now that I have the lightbox and a decent sense for how to shoot in it, I’m going to get these Genestealers up in there for your viewing enjoyment (and my self-critique).

They were the best paint jobs I’ve done until this year, incorporating color-matched drybrushing and the Dip Method (shading), and they build on everything I learned from painting my mechs from ~1997-2007 and my MERCS in ~2010.

Here they are in their case, patiently waiting their turn.

A full set of painted Genestealers from Space Hulk 3e

I think I’m going to lightbox the rest of my mechs first, though. Gotta work my way up to the present by sharing the past!

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My first finished miniatures since 2012!

After buying the 3rd Edition of Space Hulk back in 2009, it took me about three years to finish painting my Genestealers — about 2/3 of the minis in the box.

That was in 2012.

Today, in the year of our glorious Emperor 2020, I finished Brother Scipio, Blood Angels Terminator, and “throne boy,” a nameless fallen Space Marine found aboard a space hulk in one of the missions.

The eye of the Emperor is upon you

It only took me 11 years to reach this point . . .
Let me get some action from the back section

Since I’ve put these two in the lightbox at every stage of production (base coat and wash in one post, dry brush in another, sealant in this one), let’s do a quick 4×4 gallery showing them side-by-side.

As always in my (limited) experience, the starkest difference is between base coat and wash. I wish I’d started doing washes years ago, instead of being too gun-shy to try them.

But it’s drybrushing that brings a mini to life for me. The difference between wash-only and wash plus drybrush isn’t huge at first glance (and some of that is likely down to my inexperience as a painter!), but it’s the step that makes the mini feel most real.

The overhead LEDs in my lightbox make the matt varnish (sealant) pop more than it does in person. A small price to pay for minis I can play with worry-free.

Onwards! I have 11 Terminators left in my Space Hulk set. It will not take me 11 more years to finish painting them. If I keep up this pace — roughly 2 minis a week, without feeling like I’m grinding them out or stepping on my other hobbies — I could have the rest done in about five weeks. Although the temptation to put in a marathon painting session is strong . . .

Musings on joy

More importantly, painting these miniatures brought me joy. Painting them, not just having them fully painted. There was joy in finishing them too, absolutely (and I’m so glad I stopped painting them assembly line-style), but my head was in the game as far as enjoying the painting as the hobby as much as the rest of the hobby around it.

That plus reading a piece in White Dwarf #451 about Phil Kelly, who has been collecting and painting the same Waaagh! of Orks for many years, across multiple editions of 40K, with models he’s inherited, kitbashes, new and old sculpts — just keeping going, loving the hobby for itself, riding out the vagaries of different editions because the Waaaghh! is the fun part — has got me thinking about trying out 40K again.

But not necessarily in my usual mode (buy game, learn rules, paint minis, find opponents). Rather in the mode of: pick a faction that speaks to me, buy a box, enjoy the painting, and maybe try playing down at the local shop sometime in 2021 — or not, and just keep building an army for the fun of it.

This r/Warhammer40k thread overflowing with positivity towards a 40k newbie and painting novice, is full of folks saying basically that: choose a faction you think is cool and form a bond with your minis. That’s where my head is at.