It took me longer than I’d like to take Squad Dolos from this state, where they languished for a few days:
To this one, starring the worst base-coating work I’ve done this year:
And then to the “starting to not look like shit” stage:
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!
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.
With my final squad assembled, I now have 100% of my first army list — exactly 2,000 points of Blood Angels with WYSIWYG wargear — assembled, primed, or painted. Which means it’s photo time!
I haven’t quite worked out how best to take this sort of photo, but it is my first go so that makes a bit of sense. Hopefully future shots will turn out a bit clearer. Still, I love seeing them all in one place for like this!
Judgment, 1st Company, designated transport for Squad Barakiel — Land Raider Crusader
Here are all the kits I used:
One of my original goals was to use 100% of the minis I bought for my initial army in my initial army, so if a kit was 10 Space Marines, I’d include all 10 in my force. But I realized a few weeks into assembling it all that I’d have more fun with 5 Infiltrators instead of 10, so I swapped in 5 Sternguard and juggled the wargear on a few units at the same time. So I came pretty close!
And it’s not like those 5 Infiltrators will go to waste: They’ve just joined my backlog, and will be part of my larger army — available to swap in as needed.
I’ve wanted to have a 40k army since I was around 10 years old, and I’ve spent the better part of the past 30-plus years being alternately frustrated with, disinterested in, or occasionally enjoying painting miniatures. It’s been a joy to rediscover — and, at the same time, discover — the side of myself that enjoys painting minis, and a new hobby that I love. Painting my Blood Angels has been a blast, and I’m still going!
After wrapping up assembly on Judgment, I had just one squad left in my current (and first) Blood Angels army list: Squad Barakiel, my close combat Terminators — for whom Judgment will be the designated transport.
I started with the sergeant, of course, and then made little piles for each Terminator based on whatever felt right (“skull-covered legs, must love skulls; he gets the skull hammer”) — but this kit has some pretty specific suggestions about leg + hammer pairings.
They are just suggestions, of course, but every time I tried other variations and then the suggested one, I could see why they were paired the way they are: The studio poses look awesome.
The thing is, I’ve got two more boxes of these guys (plus a box of generic close combat Termies). One will be an all-Lightning Claws squad and the other will be 3x Thunder Hammers/2x Lightning Claws, so that I can mix and match. (For example, swelling the ranks of Squad Barakiel with three more hammer boys fills a Land Raider Crusader to capacity.) So to avoid duplicates I’m going to have to go off-book at some point, no matter how cool the studio poses are.
Partway through, I realized that this kit was even more specific about its poses than I first thought: each torso/head piece is matched to a particular body/leg piece. I was building the banner guy when I noticed that the guide had his head turned, which made no sense because 4/5 of the heads are pre-molded…until I figured out that it meant he needed Torso X to match his legs and pose.
I went with “Barakiel” because the random website I often use for angel names said that was the angel of lightning — which is a perfect name for the sergeant of the forthcoming all-Lightning Claws squad. But the one I’ve just built are all armed with Thunder Hammers and bearing Storm Shields. What do you get when there’s a storm and thunder? Lightning, of course!
Plus I wanted a “B” name and it sounded cool.
In the end, I mostly went with the studio poses and leg/torso/hammer pairings, mixed it up on the shields, picked tilting plates and other bling to match, and tweaked a couple of the poses just a hair (far right’s hammer is much higher; the sergeant is in more of a “come at me, bro!” stance; etc.). Second from the right is my favorite: hammer at ease, but ready. What at badass pose.
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.
How about three direct comparisons of aspects of each model?
And here’s my favorite paint job from each group, the Librarian from Space Hulk and one of the Chain Fist brothers from 40k:
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.
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, 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!
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.)
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!
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.
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!
I appreciate that resin allows GW to keep niche models in profitable, appropriately limited production, but having just built my first two figures — Commander Dante and Chaplain Arrius (“Chaplain with Skull Helmet”) — I have to say that it’s annoying stuff to work with.
It’s flaky, and decidedly more fragile than modern GW plastic kits. It’s prone to bubbles and “frayed” edges. Instead of clear, easily-addressed mold lines it’s studded with flashing from the molding process. And it doesn’t take plastic glue, so instead of near-instantaneous bonds you’ve got to contend with the sloppiness of superglue.
I don’t think the fussiness of resin will keep me from buying more resin figures, but I will think twice before doing it. The sculpts are great, but there’s no joy in the assembly process.
That said, I suspect that once the minor annoyances of assembly are behind me, they’ll prime and paint up just like any of my other figures — and I’ll wind up liking them.
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:
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.
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.
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.
I had the day off on Friday, so I finished touch-ups on Relentless. So far my experience with vehicles — this one and my Dreadnought, so still quite limited — is that they look simple but feel like they take forever.
Unlike a Space Marine, I can’t just shade a Rhino in one go. There’s nothing to hold onto, the washes run, and everything is sticky for a little while. So stages it is!
Honestly there’s no real reason to shade the bottom — or even paint most of it, for that matter. But I knew it would feel incomplete to me if I didn’t do the bottom.
After an hour, the bottom was dry enough to serve as my “handle” to wash the sides.
My stopping point on Friday night was with all the first-order layers done except for the biggie, red. That looked like an easy 1-2 hours of work, and what came next was stressing me out a bit: Do I just proceed through all of my usual highlights, like I would on a Space Marine, or do I attempt “scraped down to the bare metal” sponge-weathering on the corners and other high-use areas of the tank body?
So on Saturday I broke out my test mini, tore off a couple bits of foam from a miniature case (the extras), and tried this on my designated test mini.
I don’t think that makes enough of a difference to be worth the risk, so I’m going to file “first use of weathering” under techniques I’ll try down the road.
Such is the power of edge highlighting that even though I’m not very good at at, the model still looks better with it than without it. Just contrast the highlighted side with the top; the difference is striking.
I wrapped up Saturday night with just the name scroll, decals, and varnish to go.
Come Sunday morning, I had the decals done and moved on to the name scroll. Nothing inspires awe in your foes like the name [Relentless____]. Yeah. So, back to the Rakarth Flesh and the Agrax Earthshade and then another try.
I’ll save the final photos for a separate post, after the varnish dries. This tank was a ton more work than I expected, but I figure I’ll get faster at it the more vehicles I paint.
Rhino color guide
All the colors are the same as any of my other Blood Angels, but there are a few little notes to add (shades are in italics, as always):
Lenses: Moot Green or Caledor Sky > Agrax Earthshade > Moot Green or Lothern Blue
Cog Mechanicum: Abaddon Black/Corax White > Agrax Earthshade > White Scar
As I was trying to remember which color I used to brighten up the white on the cog, I realized I’d done them the opposite of the one on Narses, my Librarian Dreadnought. His scheme came off GW’s page, the studio scheme (skull’s left side white), while this guy’s came off a web reference (skull’s left side black). Poking around, I see that the studio scheme shown in the GW store varies at least some of the time — the Skitarii Ranger 360 model, for example, has the same pattern as my Rhino’s gunner.
Ah well! It’s not the only mistake I made, and it won’t be the last. I’m still pretty happy with Relentless.
With my Rhino, Relentless, mostly base-coated, it was time to do the hazard stripes before moving on to a second coat of red.
I love hazard stripes, especially how they pop against red, and they make sense for the rear drop-door: “stay clear or this massive slab of Ceramite will crush you and then a 10-man squad of Space Marines will grind you into jelly as they charge into battle.“
I did the hazard stripes the same way I did them on Squad Ultio: two coats of Averland Sunset on the whole surface, cover with Tamiya hobby tape (3mm this time), remove alternate strips, paint those areas Abaddon Black.
I figured the areas with the bolts would be more likely to let paint “bleed” under them if I left them taped (since they prevent the tape from seating fully). By happy accident all three bolts fell on alternating strips.
I recommend skipping the bonus steps I added: “Realize trying to use up the last of the black that’s drying out means you’ve just gobbed on quite thick paint,” and “notice you’ve missed a bit and have to backtrack.”
Like Ultio’s stripes, they’re not perfect. But they’re better than what I can do freehand, and should be fairly easy to touch up when I reach that stage.
After painting down to the top edge, I realized I had no clear demarcation for the bottom edge. I tried a few tape lines that incorporated the door pivot/axle thingie, which is cylindrical and therefore annoying to tape up cleanly, and eventually decided that the bottom edge should align with the bottom of the frame instead.
I thought this would be a piece of cake! So much easier than wrapping a symmetrical pattern around three sides of an object, like I had to on Ultio — right? Narrator: Wrong.
But now I’ve got a pretty good template to use for my next Rhino/Razorback!
While painting May’s minis, I’m also building my June models. After my Death Company squad, I decided to tackle more jumpy boys: a squad of Assault Marines.
This is the first time I’ve broken out the bits box to add things to the kit other than basing debris. Everyone’s getting a Blood Angels chapter pauldron, and I’m raiding the greeblies for belt doodads and the like.
As ever, I started with the sergeant, Adamo, and let the character of the squad flow from him. The Eviscerator looks amazing — I’m so glad it’s an option. And the little “leaping into flight” base elements, which come with the kit, are fantastic.
These are great sculpts, too, full of motion and energy — and somehow they manage to convey that, unlike their Death Company brethren, they’re in full command of their faculties. Compare:
Maybe it’s just me? I don’t know. But I see it and I dig it.
This kit is loaded with options, including separate backs, torsos, and backpacks to use if they’re not Jump Pack-equipped; loads of melee and ranged weapons; and a surprising amount of belt bling. I’ve got another box of them in the wings, and I can’t wait to dip into some of the other options — with an eye to intermingling the guys without knee pads between squads (provided I remember to give them the special weapons…).