Over the past week or so I’ve been busy with Orks and terrain.
I started off my building the rest of my first 10x Ork Boyz, the “back five” of Skrudd’s Krumpas.
I finally found a head that worked for my “pauldron as a hat” idea, which looks just the right amount of goofy for Orks.
After Thanksgiving, I saw that more sunny days might be in our future and hustled to build my next batch of Manufactorum terrain. Until I put them together I didn’t realize quite how large the two show pieces in the Vertigus box really were.
After spraying all of these pieces, I’m down to three sprues in my Vertigus box: two buildings and a bunch more pipes. I’ve been mulling over ways to combine some of GW’s other industrial terrain, notably the Sector Mechanicus stuff, with my Manufactorum pieces so that they look like they belong in the same place. About half of the Mechanicus stuff looks like I could blend it in pretty well by anchoring the color scheme with Wraithbone/Khorne Red.
With terrain comes the need for more and different ways to store my 40k stuff. I thought about my needs: primarily at home, modular, capable of holding the largest pieces on my radar, not too pricey. Where that landed me was plastic storage tubs and acoustic foam.
The listing for the bins was a bit misleading, as it made it look like the bottom was 12″ wide — perfect for my 12″-wide foam squares — when in actuality that was the width of the top. But a gentle curve to the foam lining the bottom, or a quick trim, should sort that out.
The tiles come vacuum-packed in a foil bag that doesn’t look nearly large enough to contain them. Unpacked, they smelled dreadful. But after a couple days in the garage, they’ve expanded to full size and no longer stink.
Back to the actual terrain, my pot of Nihilakh Oxide arrived, so I got to experiment with applying a verdigris effect for the first time. Like every Citadel technical paint I’ve tried so far, this stuff is great.
Over the weekend, I finished the outside of one Manufactorum ruin (plus three smaller pieces) except for weathering. I’ve never painted terrain before, and I started with a good set; it’s been a joy to paint.
These pieces mark my first foray into contrast paint (on the Cog Mechanicus), the first time I’ve used two washes on the same area of a single model, and the first time I’ve consistently drybrushed stuff twice as well. After the crisp, polished aesthetic of my Blood Angels, painting a run-down, timeworn building has been a lot of fun.
I’m looking forward to applying blast damage with a sponge and making some rust streaks — and finishing the inside, of course.
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.
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’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!
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.
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.
Here’s the list:
Freehand checks and dags
Getting skin right
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.
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.)
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?
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.
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
Getting skin right
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.
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.
After assembling, priming/base-coating, and doing the initial wash on my Manufactorum terrain pieces, I tucked into the next steps — and realized it was time for a guide to those steps, and the colors I’m using, so that Future Martin can replicate it all on the next batch.
These videos are a tremendous resource and I love that GW makes them available. There’s no way I could approach the finished quality I want in my terrain without them.
Terrain is a different animal, so it requires different steps in a different order. This looks like a million steps, but it’s really quite a relaxing painting process; I’ve just broken it down, for my own benefit, because the process is different than the one I’ve spent the last nine months employing on my Blood Angels.
Step 1 basically takes the bulk of the terrain piece — the stone elements — to completion, which is done to avoid messily washing and drybrushing other stuff the wrong colors. Step 2 does the same for the floors, and so on. The final step, number 7, involves weathering that goes back over many of the areas completed in 1-6 — and apart from varnish, it’s genuinely the last step.
“Don’t overdo it” is my mantra for most of the steps. It’s easy to want the whole building to look super-grimy at the shading stage — and forget that there’s grime and character still to come, at later stages.
Wraithbone spray, primer and base coat in one
Seraphim Sepia wash almost everywhere; err on the side of “everywhere,” not “almost”
Agrax Earthshade pin wash along the “bands” of the pillars, plus randomly anywhere else that would have gotten especially dirty while these buildings were in use (or weathered after they became ruins), notably under doors and junction boxes, as well as along conduits — and throw in some random spots, too
Drybrush all Wraithbone areas with Tyrant Skull, in a circular motion; this is designed to go everywhere
Then a lighter Praxeti White drybrush over that, in circular motions, pressing lightly and just hitting the high points
Bung Leadbelcher into the holes in the floor (which hits the pipes and suggests that the floors are metal gratings with a coat of paint over them) > Mechanicus Standard Grey on the flat parts of the floor and the entire underside > Agrax Earthshade > Dawnstone drybrush the flat sections of the floor in circular motions, top and bottom
Paint hazard stripes along the centerline of the floor with Averland Sunset (using 3mm Tamiya hobby tape for masking)
Light drybrush with Celestra Grey on the top and edges, including the hazard stripes (skip the bottom)
Other little details (wires, etc.): Base coat in a single color (Averland Sunset, Macragge Blue, etc.) and vary these choices across the buildings (especially duplicates!); it sounds like heresy, but these truly don’t need any follow-up coats/layers/etc.
Chipping and damage: Sponge on Rhinox Hide, focusing on the blasted edges and torn-away elements, but also randomly putting it everywhere that feels right
Rust: Thinned-down Skrag Brown > thinned-down Fire Dragon Bright
Verdigris: Nihilakh Oxide in the crevices on bronze elements
This guide is written for the walls, but it applies to the pipes, sacred radiators, and whatnot as well. The only real changes are obvious stuff, like applying the Agrax Earthshade pin wash to different parts of the pipes.
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.
First I grabbed a larger rock and primed it.
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:
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):
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.
On Sunday morning, I picked up where I’d left off with my terrain on Saturday: Wraithbone done, all-over Seraphim Sepia wash. Next up was a pin wash with Agrax Earthshade.
The pin wash is subtle, but I like the effect. Both of these pieces have had their all-over Seraphim Sepia wash, but the one on the right has had some grimy areas pin-washed with Agrax:
I used a cheap #5 brush for the pin washes.
I was a bit nervous about doing a full-coverage drybrush over my precious washes…but it turned out to be no biggie. And as the video notes, it looks quite subtle at first but it does actually make a difference.
I used my giant flat-edged 5/8 brush (the cheap one I used for the washes) for this messy, brush-killing job.
My buildings are noticeably darker than the ones in the video at this stage, which I think comes down to the thinned vs. straight wash. I dig it. Next up, a lighter drybrush with Praxeti White, same brush and same circular motions.
This is subtle, too, but in this case I’m just not that confident in my technique. Both the amount of paint and the weight of my brushing make a difference, and I’m not there yet in terms of experience — but even so, it’s a nice effect.
And that’s the stone done! (Except for, maybe, a final weathering step of some sort.) Warhammer TV didn’t steer me wrong: two washes and two layers of drybrushing really does tidy things up and produce an organic, lifelike weathered stone — and surprisingly quickly, too.
Next up, Mechanicus Standard Grey on the floors (top and bottom), applied with an inexpensive flat-edged #5 brush.
That’s where I ran out of steam for the night, after a pleasant Sunday spent almost entirely working on this terrain or futzing with my Orks’ basing colors. Next terrain-painting session, I’ll finish the edges and borders on the floors, wash them, drybrush them, and then move back to the walls to work on details.
When I finished varnishing Squad Caedes on Friday night, I checked the weather and saw that the only day in the next two weeks that might be spray-paint friendly was Saturday, and sprang into action.
I built as much Manufactorum terrain as I could handle before bed, which turned out to be three pipes and two buildings.
I’ve never built (or painted) terrain before, and I was surprised how cool the stuff in the Vertigus set is — although, in retrospect, I shouldn’t have been: GW is pricey, but they tend to nail it on sculpt quality, details, and feel. I cannot wait to see how this all looks when it’s painted up.
Next stop was an overnight glue-curing session (this stuff uses a lot of plastic glue), followed by checking the weather again on Saturday — and then shaking the everloving shit out of my can of Wraithbone spray and testing it out on a piece of sprue.
The instructions say that it shouldn’t be raining (check) and it should be at least 59 degrees Fahrenheit, but come Saturday 52 degrees was the best I could do. And in Seattle, in winter, having a temp over 50 and sun rather than rain is pretty special, so I figured it was worth expending a bit of paint on my test sprue and hoping for the best.
The verdict? This spray paint is great, and 52 and partly cloudy works just fine. It went on smooth, with no pebbling, and it’s a nice even coat. It genuinely seems to deliver on “primer and paint in one,” and as I’d heard it doesn’t seem to be Contrast Paint-specific in any way. I remember ruining minis at both the primer and sealant stages with spray paint in the past, so this is pretty exciting.
For comparison purposes, there’s a piece of bare sprue in the top right corner:
After another 2 minutes of can-shaking (always be religious about this!), I moved on to my actual terrain.
I don’t know if I’m going heavy on it, but it feels like two medium/large terrain pieces and four small ones ate up about 1/3 to 1/2 a can of Wraithbone. The time savings is incredible, though: Applying primer and then a base coat to these pieces would have taken me hours, whereas all of this took me about 75 minutes — and most of that was waiting for paint to be dry enough for me to turn the pieces, and then shaking the can again.
Next stop, a nearly all-over wash in Seraphim Sepia.
I love washes because they’re such a cheap date. Pound for pound, no other step breathes as much life into a miniature in so little time — and that appears to go double for terrain. I could already slap these on a table and not be sad, so I can’t wait to see how they turn out after drybrushing, spot painting, and weathering.
Unlike in my primary reference video for these pieces, a Warhammer TV how-to for Manufactorum terrain, I didn’t thin down my Seraphim Sepia at all. (They use Lahmian Medium in the video.) This approach is faster, and in my experience all-over washes always look quite dark until you highlight the model — and besides, I quite like the slightly darker tone of my buildings.
This approach has at least one downside, though: I used 2/3 of a bottle of Seraphim Sepia on two medium/large pieces and three small pieces. At that rate, I’ll need a couple more bottles just to get through the rest of the Vertigus box.
On November 20, 2020, I finished my first-ever 2,000-point Warhammer 40k army. I waited until this morning to take pictures of it, and even now I still can’t quite believe I finished it.
I’ve dabbled in miniature-painting since I was a kid, and generally didn’t enjoy it (I saw it as a means to an end, which was the wrong philosophical approach), but until this year I wouldn’t have considered myself a miniature painter. When I finished painting my Space Hulk set, something I’ve wanted to since I was about 10 years old, that was a watershed moment.
I rolled right into painting this army — something else I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid, and always thought was out of reach for a variety of reasons — and have kept that streak up ever since. From the day I assembled my first Blood Angel, Sergeant Karios, to the day I varnished Squad Caedes, this 2,000-point army took me 255 days to complete (March 10-November 20).
Along the way, I became a miniature painter. Not, I want to emphasize, an amazing miniature painter. But I’m proud of my work on these little dudes, and more importantly I’m enjoying this hobby as a hobby in its own right. From a mindfulness perspective, this is the right approach to painting.
What else happened along the way? I assembled, primed, and partially painted another ~700 points of Blood Angels. I started a Deathskulls Ork army, Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas. And I listened to a 10 awesome 40k audiobooks (which I love to do while I paint).
I started with two by Guy Haley, both narrated by Gareth Armstrong, that seemed thematically appropriate: Dante and The Devastation of Baal. Then I listened to eight more by Dan Abnett, all narrated by Toby Longworth: First and Only, Xenos, Hereticus, The Magos, Ghostmaker, Necropolis, Honour Guard, and Brothers of the Snake, plus most of Ravenor (which is still underway).
Because I built my initial army list under 8th Edition rules, things changed when 9th Edition came out. I dropped 10 fully painted minis from my force, and added a squad of five — so I’ve actually finished 2,210 points of Blood Angels, not just the 2,000 in my list.
As a rough, conservative ballpark, it takes me five hours to finish a single Marine-sized model — that’s from gray plastic on the sprue to varnished and ready for play. Some take an hour or two longer; the small ones take less time; the tanks and Dreads take a lot longer. But that translates to a minimum of 290 hours of hobby work. Six hours a mini is probably a more accurate estimate, and that’s 348 hours of work.
Thanks to changes in point values (most of my Marines got more expensive) and unit classifications (my Scouts went from troops to elites), I had to drop a painted unit of Sternguard from my army, and replace half of the already-painted Squad Karios with another five tactical Marines, in order to bring my list into line with 9th Edition rules.
That left the five battle-brothers of Squad Caedes as the final unit I needed to paint in order to have my first-ever 40k army.
And now they’re done! I’ve finished my army!
The boards in the Battlezone: Manufactorum sets (Vertigus, in this case) make for great photo backdrops. I can’t wait to shoot my whole army on one of these, with terrain!
I’ll gather my entire force for a group photo or two in a future post. For now, a deep breath, a pause, and a shift to painting Deathskulls Orks and terrain pieces.
As I sit here writing this, I kind of can’t believe I finished my army.
But it just hit me that while I was a bit worried this moment would sap my momentum, when I finished I immediately built some Manufactorum terrain and primed some Ork Boyz, so I’d have stuff teed up to work on tomorrow — without even thinking about it. Minis every day, it’s a good feeling.
And finally, I’ve gotta close with the last WIP shot for my first army, Squad Caedes heading into highlights:
My first 40k scenery just arrived, the absolutely massive Vertigus set. I’ve been kicking around the idea of Zandri Dust for the stone and Khorne Red for the metal, the former coming from a Warhammer TV video aimed at the Kill Team Imperialis terrain (rather than this Manufactorum set) and the latter being the studio color for this set. But I wasn’t sure how it’d look — a job for Brother Test-Mech!
I did two panels of his skirt armor in Zandri Dust, bracketing one in Khorne Red. Neither is the final color either of those would be (no wash, no drybrush, etc.), but this should be in the ballpark.
I like it, but I’m not completely sold. How about Zandri/Leadbelcher?
Yeah, that’s not enough contrast — and it’s the color I’d expect, which is less fun than an unexpected one.
Literally as I was writing this post, I found a Warhammer TV how-to for this exact terrain, which told me what color to swap for the studio-recommended base coat: Wraithbone, which comes in spray form. There’s more steps in the floors than I’d like (easily replaced with “bung on some Mechanicus” from the other video), and a different recipe for the red, but seeing “aged white stone” in action sold me on the white/red/metal scheme.
Oi, dat’s mine
While I had him out, I figured I’d try another half-baked idea: Having my Deathskulls Orks mark their looted wargear by sloppily painting over Space Marine colors and heraldry. As it happens, most of Brother Test-Mech’s painted bits are dark red, so I half-drybrushed, half sloppily painted it with Macragge Blue.
That…kind of looks like ass. I can’t decide if it’s an Orky amount of ass or too much ass. I’m not loving it, in any case. This idea’s going back in the oven to bake a little longer.