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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniature painting Miniatures Painting tools Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Squad Karios bases, ZEM brushes, Citadel texture paints, Squad Dolos assembled

I know I’m posting a lot these days — I’ve been blogging for almost 15 years: posting twice a day, for one person, is a lot! — but I’m deep in the joy of this extended moment, of being a novice miniature painter falling in love with this hobby. Everything is new for me right now, even little things — like today’s new little things, blending paints and following a basing recipe.

Plus, you know, the whole family is stuck at home — like yours probably is, if you’re reading this around the post date and not years later. Not to make light of the situation, but late February has turned out to be a serendipitous time to get back into painting miniatures.

The larch

Before diving into today’s WIP post, I want to wish everyone reading this well. I hope you and your families are safe and weathering the COVID-19 pandemic as well as possible.

Yore isn’t a news blog, or really a serious blog at all most of the time. It’s a creative outlet, it’s my hobby space, it’s something I work on when it’s fun. I figure you’ve got COVID-19 stuff coming at you from a million angles, so I’m going to keep doing what I do here: talking way too much about miniatures.

Stay safe out there!

Infiltrators, assemble!

After giving myself what I suspect was a glue-induced headache last night, I changed up my assembly routine a bit. Instead of trimming and gluing in small stages, which is more fun, I’m trimming every piece and then assembling them all at once.

The final four Infiltrators

I’m also sticking newly-glued minis in the bathroom with the window open and the fart fan running. So here’s a bathroom shot of Squad Dolos, fully assembled:

Squad Dolos

Sergeant Dolos is front left; the sub-squad leader (pointing hand) is back center. Since my current Blood Angels list doesn’t have room in it for either of the Infiltrators’ special units, the comms guy or the Helix Adept, I had to get a bit creative with the mini that the kit assumes will be the comms guy. (Weirdly, you don’t get the Helix Adept mini in this kit; it’s only in the Shadowspear box, I believe.) I used two Incursor arms, which are included because this kit lets you build either; he’s the sub-squad leader.

ZEM brushes

I also picked up some inexpensive brushes, a ZEM detail set (paid link), since I’m still pretty bad at taking care of my brushes. I’m getting better! But I’m still not great. These are under $2 each, as compared to a $5-$6 Army Painter brush — and available for delivery, which is handy since my family is sheltering in place for who knows how long.

My new ZEM brushes: 0, 10/0, 2, and 3/0

I used the 0 today and quite liked it. It’s got more bristle tension than some of my other similarly sized brushes, which is handy. After a short painting session, though (just skulls and rocks on 10 bases), the tip looked like this:

From what I’ve read, that “tip curl” is a hallmark of cheap brushes in general and cheap synthetic brushes in particular. Still not a bad brush for the price, but I’m now doubting how much I’ll like the finer-tipped ones — since a curl in those can really wreck detail work.

Basing Squad Karios

My first squad has a post tag of its own (they all do; so far that’s Dolos and Cain), in case you want to follow their journey from box of plastic to fearsome painting Space Marine infantry. Today’s step on that journey, now that their primer is cured, is to paint the little rocks and skulls I glued onto their bases and then apply texture paint.

Sergeant Karios, my test pilot

I don’t have a medium gray in my paint stash at the moment, and I want these rocks to be lighter than the texture paint (Astrogranite Debris) but darker than the drybrush color I’m going to use (Grey Seer). So: it’s blending time!

I did a 50:50 blend of Corax White and Mechanicus Standard Grey, thinned it with a bit of water, and went to town.

Rocks: done!

I use a dry palette, so I had to mix up a new batch after about five guys — which is fun, because the little variations in my batches will ensure that my rocks don’t all look like they came from Rocks ‘R’ Us. It tickles me to no end that the best way to get actual rocks to look like they belong with a miniature is . . . to paint them to look like rocks.

Next up were the skulls, in Corax White, followed by a quick Agrax Earthshade wash on them and the rocks.

Rocks and skulls: done

And after that, the texture paint. I gather than Citadel has reformulated this stuff in the past few years, and merged it into their Technical line (it’s no longer actually called Texture), with one of the results being that you can apply it with a brush. But as soon as I opened my pot of it, I was glad I had the Citadel Texture Spreader (paid link): the Astrogranite Debris is a thick, slightly dry paste.

I used the small end of the spreader for all of these. The large end looks ideal for wider bases, but on these I needed the little paddle.

Sergeant Karios

This stuff is fun. Like, really fun. I’m applying it now so I can wash and drybrush without ruining my minis’ legs, but lots of folks apply it last. Using the tiny end of the spreader I was able to manipulate the paint easily enough that I’d have felt just as comfortable doing with a fully painted mini.

After each one, I ran my finger around the edge of the base to corral any loose grit. (Once the whole mini is done I’ll paint the base edges, of course.)

Three down

This paint also feels like cheating. It’s a bit like the magic that occurs when you apply a wash to a base-coated miniature — poof, it suddenly looks a million times better.

Squad Karios, set to dry overnight

Even having not done the finishing steps yet (wash the texture paint > drybrush it and the rocks/skulls > possibly highlight the skulls > add tufts), these are already the best-looking bases I’ve ever done. Miles ahead of my past efforts with just glue and little rocks — and that’s 100% down to this paint. I love this stuff!

That’s probably it for tonight’s hobby session — but damn, this one felt good. As a proof of concept for my “plains of Armageddon” basing recipe, the rocks don’t stand out as much as I’d like — though I’m betting a nice light-colored drybrush will help — but otherwise I’m calling this concept proven. I can’t wait to see what it looks like after the whole process is complete!

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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniatures Painting tools Warhammer 40k

Cooking up a basing recipe for my Blood Angels

I’ve got a basing recipe in mind for my Blood Angels army, and now I have all the components:

All in one place, this seems like a lot!

The basic concept is “plains of Armageddon” (an important planet in the 40k universe), which conjures up a sort of Moonscape in my mind — a wasteland of heavy gray dust and dying grass, site of a thousand battles.

This is a spin on my preliminary idea, which I posted about last week, now organized a bit more:

  • White Dwarf 161 (Nov. 2016) for its Paint Splatter column, which features the Basing Cookbook
  • This winters SEO video on using texture paints
  • Texture: Astrogranite Debris
  • Wash: Drakenhof Nightshade
  • Drybrush: Grey Seer
  • Base edge: Eshin Grey (or maybe Mechanicus Standard Grey? not sure yet)
  • Citadel Skulls (paid link) for clutter
  • Gale Force Nine Rocky Basing Grit
  • Army Painter Frozen Tufts for grass
  • Blunt tweezers for applying tufts
  • Citadel Texture Spreader (paid link) for the texture paint
  • White glue for tufts
  • Superglue for rocks

I also have Citadel plastic glue (for skulls) and appropriate wash and drybrush brushes.

As an aside, that box of skulls sounded pretty silly until I got a good look at its contents online.

So, so many skulls

They’re to scale, modeled to GW’s usual high quality, and staggering in their variety: small, large, different species, fresh, half-destroyed, just jawbones, etc. It’s a really cool box of skulls.

Okay, back to the base itself. A deep gray base with dark blue notes sounds like it will contrast really well with my predominantly red miniatures, while also not being too similar to the predominantly black figures (Death Company, Chaplain, etc.). Green is too cheery, brown sounds easy to mess up and wind up with the plains of Poopageddon, and snow is both too Christmas-like with red Marines and — if applied badly — can look like the floor of a porno theater.

Step 1: cut a hole in the box

There are a million schools of thought on how to base, when to do the base vs. the miniature itself, etc. — basically (hah!) every aspect of this process. I just need to start somewhere, so I’ll be trying this route:

  1. Assemble the model and glue it to the base
  2. Glue on rocks and skulls to suit
  3. Prime the whole thing white, mini and base
  4. Paint the rocks/skulls/etc., including wash and drybrush
  5. Apply texture paint with the spreader
  6. Wash and drybrush the texture paint
  7. Wipe the base edge clean before it dries
  8. Paint the miniature
  9. Touch everything up as needed
  10. Paint the edge of the base
  11. Varnish the whole thing, mini and base
  12. Glue on tufts

In that winters SEO video, he glues the rocks to the texture paint before it dries, rather than to the base itself prior to applying paint. I’m doing it this way so I can get primer on my rocks and skulls, rather than painting them separately and then adding them to the base.

Sitting here writing this, I feel like I’m writing a post partly to avoid taking a step that makes me a bit nervous and actually basing a miniature. So I’m going to stop writing and go do that.

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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniature painting Miniatures Painting tools Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: first time using brush-on primer

Priming minis used to stress me out because spray primer is so finicky, and I’ve ruined minis using it wrong. I’ve switched to brush-on primer (Vallejo white primer, paid link) . . . and apparently it still stresses me out. I think it’s because it feels too easy to mess up, and unlike a painting mistake it’s not trivial to fix.

Time to learn how to brush on primer!

Destiny awaits, brothers

After a couple of minis, I’d figured out a few things. One, this stuff dries faster than varnish. With the varnish, I can quickly do the whole miniature and then backtrack to pop bubbles, eliminate puddles, etc. With the primer, the top half of the mini is dry before I’ve finished the bottom half. So I learned to tackle a section, backtrack, and then tackle the next section.

Two, it’s less forgiving than the other two new approaches I’ve used since I got back into miniatures: brushing on wash/shade and varnish. This Vallejo primer is quite good about “self-correcting” — many bubbles will pop on their own, it settles into cracks a bit as it dries, and a thin coat works nicely. But if I dab it on too thick in, say, the vents on a Space Marine backpack and don’t notice it right away, I can’t fix it; with shade and varnish, it’s fixable for some time.

Three, I primed my first couple like they owed me money and I was going to beat it out of them with my brush. As a result, I over-primed them a bit. Once I figured out to put less on the brush and apply it with a lighter touch, the whole process went more smoothly.

Halfway there

As ever, I started with Sergeant Karios — the first mini in my Blood Angels army that I built, and the first for every stage of the process. Even if I mess him up, I like that he’ll always be special because he was the test pilot.

Sergeant Karios, the first to be primed

By my last, things were looking better: a lighter, smoother coat; many fewer bubbles and puddles; and less like an explosion in a cake frosting factory.

The last one I primed
This Squad Karios is now fully operational

The saving grace here — I hope — is that I just finished painting a dozen Terminators that I’d 1) over-primed, 2) with spray primer, making them fuzzy, and 3) bounced around in a Plano box for six years after priming them, and they turned out okay. I can see some bubbles and pooling on my Blood Angels (note to self: Space Marine pauldron edges like to collect primer), but they look better than those Termies did.

Fingers crossed for the painting stage! I’ll be starting with the bases, and I have to say that putting together this post, and seeing Squad Karios up close in photos, makes me more optimistic than I was as I primed them.

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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Squad Cain, scouts with a head conversion

My working concept for my Blood Angels army is the Faceless Strike Force, with 100% of the models in helmets. I wanted Space Marine Scouts in my army, which posed a small problem: the Scout kits only come with bare heads.

Some Googling turned up two easy options for alternate scout heads: Skitarii Rangers and Militarum Tempestus Scions. The latter looked a bit too “WWII Germany” to me, and the Skitarii had the added benefit of being hooded — a perfect match for my Scout snipers and their camouflage cloaks. A quick trip to Ebay later and I had a bag of Skitarii Rangers heads to convert my Space Marine Scouts with sniper rifles (paid link).

I got a bag of heads!

I talked a bit about the limited uniqueness and posability of the Primaris Infiltrators here on Yore, but these Scouts take that to a whole old level: exactly one bottom half, one top half, and one gun for each model. How will the heretics know they’re Blood Angels if they aren’t dual-wielding 16′ banners and wearing an entire craft store’s worth of bling?!

On the flipside, these are badass models. That’s why I bought them.

All five ready to rock
The Skitarii heads sit too high without some trimming-down

In the photo above I’ve sandwiched a Skitarii Ranger head between two Scout heads. The bottom looks the same, but the Scout heads are designed to sit in a shallow divot on each model; the Skitarii heads sit too high and have “flanges” sticking out of the neck recess.

Ha ha, these minis are like 5 pieces and I still managed to glue Sergeant Cain’s hand on backwards

After test-fitting a couple of Skitarii heads, I decided to build the models and then choose heads based on their poses. On the guys looking down their scopes, the larger respirators get in the way; they need the more svelte heads. Like this guy:

Kneeling for a shot

All of them needed a bit of trimming, some more than others. I experimented with using a file, but quickly switched to my hobby knife and stuck with that approach. Shave a bit off, test-fit the head; shave a bit more, test-fit again; and so on until it looked right.

This was my first-ever conversion project, and even though it’s quite light as conversions go it still took some work. On a couple of these Scouts, I spent as long trimming the head to fit as I did building the rest of the mini — and the more fragile Ranger heads, with the tall antennae, were too delicate for me (I nearly broke one).

Close-up of a converted Scout

If you’re looking for it, you can see the curve of the bottom of this one’s neck nub. But with paint and a wash to fill in the shadows, I think it’ll look solid on the tabletop.

Sergeant Cain (with his hand glued on the right way)

I like that this conversion doesn’t look “off” — the heads are the right size, they don’t give the minis giraffe necks, and while they’re taller than the normal Scout heads they’re not that much taller. They’re still in proportion with standard Space Marines.

Space Marine vs. Scout with Skitarii Ranger head
A Primaris Infiltrator taking his kids to the park
Squad Cain, reporting for duty

Another squad down! The Scout models are super-simple, mono-pose, and a bit heavy on the mold lines — but once built, they’re nicely differentiated from each other. A mini carrying a rifle as long as he is tall is always going to look pretty cool.

I dig how the Skitarii Ranger heads look on them. They’re a bit creepy, which I like, with almost a Jawa vibe, and the hoods go well with their camouflage cloaks — and should go even better once I paint them in the same camo color scheme. They’re a fun addition to my Blood Angels force.

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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: basing Squad Karios, part one

I’ve got a post queued up for later this week about my basing recipe, but tonight I tucked into the first step. Gotta see if this works, and the best way to do that is to try it.

Sergeant Karios was the first model I built in my Blood Angels army, and he was my starting point tonight as well. (My plan is to paint him first, too; screw trying out new techniques on an “expendable” generic Space Marine.)

Sergeant Karios, who could easily have killed that Ork using only his nipples
From the back

I’m using a little tub of Gale Force Nine Rocky Basing Grit and a box of Citadel Skulls (paid link), and gluing them down now rather than later so I can hit them with a coat of primer at the same time as the rest of the miniature. Superglue for the rocks, plastic glue for the skulls.

Squad Karios

It’s tempting to go wild with rocks and skulls, but 1) I have a concept in mind, and “wild” doesn’t suit it; and 2) I suspect it’s a bit like blood effects, which tend to look overdone about 90% of the time.

Advancing on an objective

Like base-coating, they don’t look amazing at this stage. They look a bit forced and artificial. But my hope is that once I apply texture paint — which will soften the edges of the rocks and skulls, and inevitably cover bits of them — followed by a wash, a drybrush, and some tufts, they’ll look natural and interesting. We shall see!

Tomorrow, when the light is better, I start priming these bad boys.

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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniature painting Miniatures Painting tools Warhammer 40k

Testing Vallejo primer and two edge highlighting options

I wanted to keep my painting technique fairly consistent across my Space Hulk set so they’d all look similar despite being painted over a seven-year period, but now I’m ready to try some new techniques with my Blood Angels army.

One is a simple switch to a brush-on primer, rather than the spray-on stuff. Another is edge highlighting, likely in combination with drybrushing. I dabbled a tiny bit with highlights on my Terminators and liked it, and I love how it looks on minis I see online. I recognize that my skill as a painter will improve over the course of painting my army, but I want to start out with a baseline that’s likely to stay reasonably consistent over time.

Since I’ve got a pile of old BattleTech mechs just sitting around, I figured I’d bust one out and use him as a test subject.

The Ti Ts’ang is goofy enough that I won’t miss him

Earlier this month I posted about feeling a bit overwhelmed with painting options, and this experiment is a good way to narrow things down a bit: I’m going to try edge highlighting before the wash on one shoulder, and after the wash on the other one.

My guess is that highlighting after the all-over wash will look better. Let’s find out!

First, the primer

I’ve used Armory spray-on primer for every miniature I’ve painted since the 1990s, with mixed results — not because it’s a bad primer, but because it’s a spray primer. They’re sensitive to heat, cold, and humidity, so unless you can spray indoors your “priming year” can be quite short.

So: brush-on primer. I’m trying white Vallejo surface primer (paid link) because it has good reviews. My experience with their matt varnish (paid link) over the past few weeks has been excellent, so I’m expecting the primer to be solid.

One thin coat of Vallejo primer

After a single thin coat, including a follow up with an “empty” brush to pop bubbles and deal with pooling (just like I do with the varnish, and with washes/shades), you can barely see the difference between the primed shoulder pads and the bare metal. I suspect I need to do a second thin coat, but either way I know I should let it cure overnight.

The next morning I could see bare metal in a couple of spots I’d primed, so: too thin. I put on a second coat and left him to cure again.

Two thin coats on the shoulder pads

Then I thought, what the heck: I’ll single-coat the head and sloppily single-coat the ax blades, giving me two more tests in one curing session.

A few hours later I wondered why I was doing a full cure for a paint test — let alone one that’s keeping me from tackling Squad Karios! So I grabbed my Mephiston Red base and Evil Sunz Scarlet layer and went to work.

I came here to kick ass and paint things red, and I don’t know how to kick ass

One thinned Mephiston Red base coat later, here’s how ol’ Ti Ts’ang looks.

Mephiston Red base coat

Right off the bat, this stuff is much easier to paint over than my old spray primer. I don’t know if it’s the nature of spray primer, bad technique (overspraying), or the seven-year gap between priming and painting, but when I was finishing up my Terminators I found myself fighting the pebbly/fuzzy texture of the primer. My money’s on me applying it poorly, but whatever the case it wasn’t fun to work with and it overwhelmed some of the model’s details.

Three primed bits enter

In terms of one coat of Vallejo primer vs. two coats, there’s a clear winner: one well-applied coat.

  • The shoulder pads got two coats, and I can see the primer overwhelming some of the finer lines and details. It’s not awful, but it’s not great.
  • The sloppy single coat on the ax blades left a bubble or two here and there, but smothered no details.
  • The properly applied single coat on the head (no bubbles) didn’t annihilate any details and was just as easy to paint over as the other two areas.

In hindsight I think I forgot to stir the primer for the first coat on the shoulder pads; I distinctly remember stirring it for the head and ax. Eh, my conclusion would hold even if I’d stirred it: two layers of primer plus a layer of paint is too much.

To the Emperor’s highlighting salon, brothers!

First, the pre-wash highlight areas.

From the photo’s perspective: Evil Sunz Scarlet on right ax blade, right half of helmet, right shoulder pad

Evil Sunz Scarlet is subtle. I don’t have GW’s recommended color for a second-layer highlight, Fire Dragon Bright, so I grabbed my closest analog for another experiment: Wild Rider Red, my drybrush color for my Space Hulk Terminators.

From the photo’s perspective: Wild Rider on left ax blade

That’s much less subtle! My line is pretty bad, but even though the paint is notably orange the actual color pops nicely.

Time to shade

Next up is an Agrax Earthshade wash.

Pre-wash, the Evil Sunz Scarlet looked too subtle to my eye. But post-wash, it’s more visible. Still somewhat subtle, but not bad.

But look at the contrast between it and the Wild Rider Red — and between the Wild Rider before and after the wash. The Agrax knocked the orange right out of it, but it still pops noticeably more than the Evil Sunz.

I don’t think he knows about second highlight, Pip

Okay, after a few minutes of drying time it’s the final stage: a single edge highlight on the bits that have been base coated and washed, so I can compare those effects (and the two different highlight colors).

In the head/shoulders photo, the left half — as you look at it, not the model’s left — was highlighted after shading; the right half was highlighted before shading.

Head and shoulders (Evil Sunz Scarlet)

I can see why GW recommends shading before highlighting, and that color combination. Particularly at arm’s length, the post-wash highlighted portion pops more and has clearly been highlighted. The pre-wash side is more muted, and at arm’s length I can’t even tell it has highlights.

Let’s peek at the ax. On the front of the ax, left is post-wash highlighting and right is pre-wash (again, the photo’s right/left). On the back, it’s reversed: left is pre-wash, right is post-wash.

In the photo, the Evil Sunz Scarlet pre/post look about the same. At arm’s length, I can tell the pre-wash side has been highlighted — unlike the head and shoulders — but I still prefer the half that’s been highlighted after the wash.

The back is too orange in both versions. Even though 40k minis — where I’ll be trying out the combo of wash and highlighting I land on here — are pretty over-the-top, this blade looks downright cartoonish. That’s not inherently bad, but it’s not the effect I’m after.

One last data point, since I’ve got a freshly painted Blood Angels Terminator from my Space Hulk set handy.

P3 Khador Red base + Citadel Wild Rider Red drybrush (Terminator) vs. Citadel Mephiston Red base + Evil Sunz Scarlet edge highlight

I prefer the GW-approved color combo to my old one (which I was expecting), and I prefer the edge highlighting to drybrushing. Even though my edge lines suck! That’s something I can work on.

Conclusions

Summing up this whole little experiment:

  • One coat of Vallejo primer, stirred and applied with care
  • Edge highlight my base coat of Mephiston Red in Evil Sunz Scarlet after the Agrax Earthshade wash
  • For crisp edges, like armor plates, I prefer edge highlighting to drybrushing

And hell, I may even take a crack at doing a second finer edge highlight in Fire Dragon Bright, too. Time to paint some Blood Angels!

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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Squad Dolos, Primaris Infiltrators

I wasn’t in the mood to prime minis today (I did some test priming, which I’ve detailed in a post for tomorrow), so I picked another unit to build: Squad Dolos, my first Primaris Space Marines — the cool-as-hell Primaris Infiltrators (paid link).

It’s building time!
Sergeant Dolos

Gotta start with the sergeant! Although unlike Squad Karios, the first squad I built for my Blood Angels army, these dudes have many, many fewer unique elements to them. That makes it harder to flavor the squad based on the sergeant, but I’m sticking to my guns anyway.

Making Space Marines look small since 8th Edition

After my first two (drawing-his-pistol guy is such a cool pose!) I stood them up next to two members of Squad Karios for a quick size comparison. Space Marines are massive compared to an average human . . . and Primaris Space Marines make them look small.

(It was while I was working on my third one that I realized the chest-grenades come in right- and left-side variations, and I’d already done one wrong. Now it’s two!)

Twinsies!

I want zero exact duplicate figures in my army, and ideally zero near-duplicates as well — so this kit is a bit of a challenge, since it includes two sets of identical twins and the Infiltrators are almost mono-pose figures.

Compared to the Space Marines I built last week, and even setting aside that the level of uniqueness in that kit is higher than in a standard Adeptus Astartes kit, these Infiltrators are much more rigid: no waist rotation, entire torso is one piece; each torso matches exactly one pair of legs; legs locked into position; only five sets of different legs (2x of each set); identical weapons; etc. You do get 10 pieces of “waist bling,” 2x each of five designs, and of course I’m limiting myself unnecessarily by using only the helmeted heads (which are all identical, save that I used the comms guy’s head for the sergeant).

For the two dudes above, I really had to stretch the limit of how far the arms on the one on the left would go in order to make his posture emphatically different than his twin. That said, the poses are quite dynamic, I dig the pouches and holsters and other doodads, and the special ones are rad — the sergeant cradling his Bolt Carbine, the guy reaching for his sidearm, the comms guy. They’re good-looking minis overall, I just miss the blinged-out variations in my Tactical Squad.

Tonight’s progress

I built the other set of identical twins, far right and third from the right, and squeezed as much individuality out of them as I could: different Bolt Carbine angle, head position, bling style and location, and presence/absence of grenades on the chest. I’ll add a bit more variation when I base them (skulls, tufts, etc.).

I’m pretty bleary-eyed after doing six of these in a row, so it’s time to call it a night.

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Blood Angels Space Marines Lightbox photos Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Blood Angels Squad Karios assembled

After wrapping up my Space Hulk painting (11 years!) my to-paint queue was empty. I started building Squad Karios — the first unit in my Blood Angels army — before I reached that point specifically so that I’d have a project underway when I suddenly found myself with nothing to paint.

Laying out the remaining six

These minis are a ton of fun to assemble, and assembly is a great palate cleanser after my go-go-go painting in March.

Two down

Once I had the rest together, I realized I’d accidentally given the sub-squad leader a Storm Bolter, not a regular Bolter. A bit of surgery and sanding and he was good to go. I think I’ve been working on Terminators for so long that Storm Bolters just look normal to me.

D’oh!

Squad Karios, reporting for duty!

Lightbox shots

Putting unpainted minis in the lightbox sounded a bit silly, but I like the idea of being able to showcase the details on these figures (these kits are phenomenally detailed) and the choices I made while assembling them. Expressing personalities and embracing themes, all flowing down from Sergeant Karios, is a big part of the fun of assembly.

The four special figures, L to R: Sergeant Karios, Heavy Bolter, Plasma Gun, sub-squad leader

One of my goals for my Blood Angels army is to have no exact duplicates and no near-duplicates among my figures, and the Blood Angels Tactical Squad kit (paid link) is fantastic for that because virtually every piece is unique. Excluding a few arms, even bits which look identical at a glance are actually different: one has one blood drop and the other has three, one has a dangling tassel, etc.

The six regular marines

Even with 5/6 of these guys being “legs akimbo, Bolter held cross-body,” there’s a lot of dynamism and variation between them. They feel like individuals to me.

Squad Karios

It took a bit of experimentation to get the whole squad in my small lightbox, but now I know how to do it for next time. Heck, maybe I’ll pack it with all 30+ Space Hulk minis and see if that looks presentable.

And hey, now I have my first spare bits for my next project!

My first bits for the bits box
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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Squad Karios is coming along nicely

After getting Sergeant Karios — my first Blood Angels model — assembled last night, I squeezed in a bit more hobby time and tackled three members of his squad.

I started with the three that seemed like they would have the most built-in personality: the sub-squad leader, the dude who commands the other half of the squad if it splits up at the start of the game; the special weapon model; and the heavy weapon model.

All the bits for the sub-squad leader

I like laying everything out like this so that I can think about the character and which pieces to use, but also to help ensure I don’t make any mistakes — glue on two left arms, pick arms from different sets (A+B, etc.), or the like.

All three of them ready to rock

Citadel’s Mouldline Remover tool (paid link) is my MVP for today. This little thing is so useful, and so quick at accomplishing its specific task, that it helps make this process a relaxing one.

I was surprised and delighted at how often I asked myself, “What would he wear?” and “What kind of marine is this guy?” while I was getting these guys sorted out. And as I started getting a little picture of each of these characters, it became easy to find the right option on the sprue — and then the right pose. That was a ton of fun.

The painting handle is a versatile little tool

There’s definitely a learning curve here; I’ve never put together miniatures this detailed before, nor with this many parts. I still struggle with the most fragile bits, especially the dangling blood drop charms. I snipped one off yesterday by accident; I glued one to a leg on purpose today to stop it from inevitably getting snapped off.

But on the whole these are fantastic models. Every piece fits perfectly, they ooze personality and are awash in details, and they’re an absolute blast to build. They’re not cheap, but there’s a reason for that.

So close!

Aaaand done!

Sergeant Karios rocking a huge banner, the sub-squad leader (mechanically, just a marine), plasma, and heavy bolter

I am very much here for the fictional and roleplaying side of my Faceless Strike Force: naming the sergeants and squads, thinking about where they’ve fought (and where, from looking at their bases, they’re “currently” fighting), and generally engaging with the lore — which I’ve always loved. That plus Rule of Cool is guiding my choices.

Why is the sub-squad leader a beakie marine? Because he’s ancient, and prefers the old-style helmet. Why plasma for my lone special weapon? Because I really want to try my hand at painting the plasma chamber.

And hey, look who came in the mail: Commander Dante! Most likely the oldest living Space Marine, commander of the Blood Angels chapter, and a damned cool mini — how could I not have this beast leading the charge? I need to read up on how to assemble resin minis, though; I know to wash them and use superglue rather than plastic glue, but that’s about it.

Trust me, that armor has huge nipples under the aquila

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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniature painting Miniatures Painting tools Space Hulk Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: splitting my time, first Blood Angels model

It hit me that when I finish my Space Hulk minis I might, in that happy glow of satisfaction at finally completing a task I began in 2009, stall out and loose my painting momentum. I decided to start a second parallel hobby track, assembling Blood Angels, so that when my Termies are done I’m already in the middle of my next project.

I kicked this hobby session off by getting these two Termies shaded, since washes take a bit of time to dry.

Noctis and Zael drying after being shaded

Then I broke out my Blood Angels Tactical Squad box, assembled all my Gunpla tools — plus my newly acquired Citadel Mouldline Remover (paid link). I’ve always struggled with mold lines, and this looked like a handy tool to have.

Excluding the hobby knife (I have a couple), my other tools are from this little kit I bought on Amazon (paid link). It’s been a great kit, and the files and buffing board are useful for minis. The only tool I don’t love is the nippers, but unlike Gunpla — where a bad nip will really mess up the look of an unpainted model — it seems like light nip marks will be masked by primer and paint.

The options feel overwhelming

I thought about starting with a grunt in case I made mistakes, but decided to start with the sergeant since he would “flavor” the whole squad: I’ll be naming the squad after him (and naming all my squads, of course).

Oops

Ha ha, this little dangling blood drop was too fragile to survive being trimmed off the sprue with a hobby knife. I thought nipping would mangle it, but in hindsight I should have nipped. Ah well, nothing a quick filing-down can’t take care of. It’s only a priceless heirloom that this thousand-year-old warrior has carried into countless battles, after all . . .

Baby steps

It felt really good to glue his little legs down! A literal first step.

I’m also quite liking the mold line remover. The back of my hobby knife is free, but it’s not curved and it seems like it’d be all to easy to cut myself or accidentally snip off something near what I’m scraping.

I see why people have special clips for this

Compared to the two Deadzone miniatures I started assembling (Huscarl, Captain), which were so poorly sculpted that they prompted me to sell all my Deadzone stuff, this was a great experience. Even though this sergeant is composed of a whopping 14 separate pieces — more than I’ve ever assembled for a single figure — they all went together perfectly, and the whole process was supported equally well by the instruction booklet.

And the reward for using 14 pieces was a staggering amount of customization and a good amount of posability. This is an incredibly detailed model, and having a myriad of choices in how to kit it out was enjoyable.

I’m going by Rule of Cool but also paying attention to the actual 8th edition 40k rules — because while Rule of Cool says this guy would look awesome with a Combi-Melta in one hand and an Assault Cannon in the other, that’s just creating headaches for myself down the line when he can’t actually see table play.

So I picked two weapons that looked cool (but were also valid choices) and test-fit everything before putting glue to plastic. Which was a good idea, because the massive wings on his original right pauldron wouldn’t fit with the Hand Flamer.

Sergeant Karios, Tactical Squad Commander

And with that, I’ve officially started the process of building my Blood Angels army: Sergeant Karios, resplendent in his glorious nipple armor, reporting for duty!

After that I circled back and drybrushed and sealed Zael and Noctis, leaving me just two more Termies to go before Space Hulk is complete.

Ready to rid the space between the stars of heretics