So 2017 has come to an end, the world has made one more lap around the sun and my pile of “to-do” miniatures continues to grow.
This has been a rather special year, as some of my regular readers or followers would know, as it’s been a year in which I’ve moved from the quiet and damp Adelaide Hills to the sunny, colourful and lively south of Spain. I’ve had to leave a lot behind, almost my entire collection of miniatures and all my tools and paints, but have gained a lot in terms of focus, proximity to the world of the Mediterranean masters and easier access to some of the best miniature makers in the world. Giving up army painting (for the most part… I still have some Salamanders to finish and an itching to start some Spiderfang 😉) has been a pretty natural choice for someone who hasn’t played a proper game in two or three years. So it’s a win win.
The largest part of my WIP posts and discussion on process this year has taken place on Instagram, so if you haven’t already, be sure to click the link in the menu above and follow my Instagram page at @Illuminator_hobby
And rather than make multiple pages (waste not, want not!) I thought I would create a bit of a master-post of the display pieces I’ve been practicing on over the past year! It’s been a really productive year in which I’ve taken my miniature painting to the next level, inspired by the ‘Eavy Metal Facebook group and the amazing community of painters on Instagram. There’s still a long, long, long way to go before I’m going to be confident entering things like Hussar, Golden Demon or Silver Brush, but now I at least have a goal that I’m working towards every day.
My first miniature painted with Army Painter War Colours
November: Papa Jambo Bust
And here we have him, my masterpiece for the year. Definitely the piece I’m most proud of so far, and something of a diversion from my normal work.
Thanks to everyone who’s followed me here, on Instagram and given me support over Facebook or in real life. It’s been an incredible year of hobby, and I look forward to pushing forward into uncharted territory in this new one!
The Hierophant of Krüll cocked his helmeted head, resting his steel cheek on a curled claw. The magnificent white plume on the top of his crown fluttered in the bitter breeze blowing in from the tooth-lined portal across the chamber.
Beneath his throne, a man grovelled, hardly anything left of him but skin and bone and weeping sores wrapped in a hessian sack. He cried for the broken shape in his arms, a daughter once loved dearly, but spirited away to the temples long ago.
“And I was told your family came from stronger stock, Gunther.” The Hierophant weezed. His voice was a cold wind, a metallic rasp and a sensuous whisper all at once. “We were expecting this one to last more than a few years.”
Gunther cried out, stroking back hair from a blue, dead face. He lifted his own head in the direction of the city’s ultimate Lord, suddenly filled with rage. But before he could gaze upon the Lord’s boots, a blade whipped out from the shadows and fluttered around his neck.
“You think you are worthy to look upon our Dark Prince’s chosen voice?” Some one spat out from behind Gunther. “Avert thy gaze, worm.”
Gunther did what he was told. It was all one could do in the city of Krüll.
“Now, now. Don’t be so glum. You have a new world in front of you, child,” said the Hierophant. “Now you are honoured by a truly rare sensation: utter loss. Feel it, embrace it. It’s what Slaanesh wants of you, of us. To truly feel. How many of us can claim that?“
“I feel nothing anymore.” Gunther cried.
“That is a shame.”
Gunther heard the armoured giant rise from his throne, but kept his eyes firmly fixed on the marble floor. He smelt a rising musk and heard chains and bells clatter from some far off corner of the room.
“I’m sure we can teach you how to feel again, Gunther … TAKE HIM TO THE TEMPLE!”
A Walking City
The city of Krüll is a crawling monolith. From across the murky horizon of The Realm of Shadow, it would simply appear as a hive of crenelated towers and spiked parapets. If one was to watch long enough (without going mad) they would see the mass of buildings moving slowly but surely through the land.
Krüll is, itself, a chariot. Upon wheels the size of castles and pulled by an army of 66,666 daemonic steeds, Krüll slowly cuts through the wastelands and swamps of the Realm of Shadow. Like a scythe, it topples lesser cities, crushes forests and shakes mountains. The city is an inhabited pilgrim, crossing the worlds in search of the missing Prince of Chaos, Slaanesh.
The city has moved for countless centuries, only stopping occasionally as the daemonically possessed steeds exhaust themselves and return to the Warp. In these periods of sloth, before the army of yoked beasts can be replenished, vast armies march from the city for the joy of bloodshed and to collect the slaves necessary for the working of the city. It is in these times that the influence of Chaos waxes strongest, causing daemons to rupture into reality and join the endless march of Krüll.
Society of the Damned
Krüll, like any city, has its own layers of castes and classes. For the largest part it is, for lack of a better word, a civilised city of men. Slaves and “Freemen” (those claiming no allegiance to the so called “god-king” Sigmar) form the lower rung of this society, performing menial work and living in barbaric squalor for most of their lives. Still, inside Krüll and under the eye of its tyrants, they are safe from the Realm’s many monsters.
Above them are the Horselords, Marauders and Bandits turned from their wild ways into slave masters and property owners. Branded with the mark of Slaanesh, the Chaos god of excess, they hold dominion that would make men of Sigmar’s empire jealous. It is the Horselords who ensure the city keeps moving, by goading the horses and keeping the enormous wheels turning.
The Horselords bow in turn to the Warriors of Slaanesh who have taken Krüll as their barracks. These Champions of Chaos live for nothing but the din of battle, the warmth of fleshly-spilled blood and the cries of pained ecstasy that ring out in their wake.
The upper echelons of Krüll’s society are dominated by the wealthy, who dine nightly on banquets of human flesh and commit unspeakable acts behind velvet curtains. They strut through the city without fear, able to pick and choose their human “toys” with the backing of mercenary Warriors. Alongside these lucky few are the priests and priestesses of Slaanesh who run the dark temples scattered throughout the city. They are magic users, daemon consorts and vile monsters all.
Finally, the overall Lord of Krüll is a creature known simply as “The Hierophant”. Though he was once, most likely, a mortal man, he has long since abandoned his humanity to grow closer to his god. He is the Dark Prince’s Chosen Voice and ultimate pilot of the city’s movements. It is The Hierophant who “speaks” to Slaanesh, reading the signs in the winds of magic and following them on the decadent path towards finding the missing god.
In the Wake of the City
Though Slaanesh can claim the city of Krüll as his domain (should he choose to reappear in the Mortal Realms), the city’s movement leaves in its wake a world belonging to Nurgle, god of sickness, fear and entropy.
The passage of a gigantic fortress city, with its millions of slaves and obscenely wealthy, wasteful tyrants, leaves behind a world totally riven. Krüll deposits a trail of pollution, sickness and destruction for thousands of kilometers, from which has grown a completely different society.
Enter: The Sewer Kings, disgusting Champions of Nurgle who have gathered armies of escaped slaves, local monsters and Wildmen to their side. Though they live in constant filth, they are happy. Grandfather Nurgle has blessed them with a constant supply of fresh meat and ripe disease. They dance in the sewers of Krüll, perform in grand carnivals and raid scattered towns with rictus grins on their faces.
The Hierophant knows well about the Sewer Kings existence, but pays them little heed. He sees them simply as a band of merry madmen, deluded into worshiping a truly disgusting god. At times of war, The Hierophant and The Sewer Kings have even been known to fight alongside one another. Though they worship a filthy deity, the fly-ridden armies of Nurgle are unnaturally hardy warriors who are more than happy to bring Chaos to the Mortal Realms however they can.
The Search Continues
The Hierophant is seemingly immortal, relentless and cruel beyond reasoning. His search for his missing god has taken him across worlds, through the Realm of Chaos and into battle with hundreds of armies. Yet still he searches, still the city moves.
Perhaps he will never find Slaanesh. Perhaps he doesn’t want to. For if the god were to reveal himself, The Hierophant would have to relinquish his tyrannical grip on the city. Perhaps the search itself is meaningless, eternal for the sake of it. Either way, for someone to challenge this mad demi-god, they would have to halt the movement of an impossible machine, climb a mile high fortress, defeating Champions of Slaanesh and hordes of drugged slaves along the way, before finally entering the marble and gold tower at the city’s peak.
And so Krüll continues onward, for ever into the darkness …
A Gallery of Evil
I have recently resurrected my old Warriors of Chaos army, giving them a bit of a lick of paint and a whole new over-the-top, Age of Sigmar backstory. I might put together a few “Designer’s Notes” on this whole project in the near future, so keep an eye out for that. The Hierophant is watching.
“Unless you are capable of enduring whatever hurt your foe can inflict, there will come a time when you will fail, and by failing you will have made useless the sacrifice of millions. We are the Salamanders and we will endure, for no sacrifice made in the name of this great empire we seek to build shall be made in vain.” – Xiaphus Jurr, Chaplain of the Salamanders
“You come seeking our father, but he is not here. I searched for him on the field of battle until they struck me down with a sword of flame that scorched the very heavens, and yet I did not die. I searched for him in the endless vaults of the dead where the crushing blackness tore at my very soul, and yet I endured. I was tested once again through the crucible, and I tell you this — Vulkan does not walk among the dead!” – Cassian Dracos, The Dragon Revenant
I picked up the Betrayal at Calth box set while on my university exchange to Germany in 2015, and, until recently, I’ve been in a constant battle to decide what to do with them. The Horus Heresy “black books” were full of cool characters and pseudo-historical inspiration, making the choice of Legion an incredibly difficult one. At one point, I was going to paint Word Bearers, using my huge collection of Chaos bits and daemons to make a rather corrupted, evil looking army. After that, I turned to the idea of Emperor’s Children, seeking perfection in the same manner as the III Legion themselves. In the end, though, what really sold me on my eventually legion of choice was a single character from the Horus Heresy story: Cassian Dracos.
Who couldn’t love the walking-fridge-of-doom/unkillable-robotic-prophet? I’ve been a big fan of the iconic Warhammer 40k Dreadnought for a long time, so seeing the opportunity to build a playable (and deadly) army in the Age of Darkness using a whole bunch of them was just too good to pass up. So sorry, Word Bearers and Emperor’s Children. Sorry, Chaos. I’ve turned loyalist. Slaanesh forgive me.
And so, I started painting. The first unit to come under the brush was my Tactical Support Squad Fuegon. I liked the tone of green right off the bat, but something didn’t sit well with the grey ash bases I originally placed them on. I ended up adding crackling lava patterns over their armour, representing the influence of Cassian Dracos and Xiaphus Jurr while they travelled through the warp upon Ebon Drake. In the end, I think I went a bit over board trying to create contrast. On future squads, I decided to steer away from this effect. Thus Support Squad Fuegon became distinguished as true “Disciples of Flame”, brothers of such zeal that they’re armour cracks and burns with mystical heat, much to the suspicion of the general rank and file of the army.
It took a long time to figure out where to move next. Obviously, I had to paint old mate Cassian as soon as possible, though now I’m starting to think I rushed into it a bit. Stripping and repainting him twice, I feel he is now not as magnificent of a centrepiece as he should be, a bit murky and mucky, but he’s still magnificent in his own way. I even went and added Vallejo Fluro Orange to his flames at a later date to enhance the burning aura. There’s nothing super special to note about the final paint job, apart from, maybe, my first attempts at making a realistic “overheating engine” glow by lightly painting orange over the lit parts of his armour.
The fire burns bright
A long time past (three months, actually, ’cause I was busy overseas with life stuff) before I got to add much more to this small army. Of course, two tactical squads were absolutely necessary. I painted Tactical Squads IV (Diago) and IX (Vorshan) in a factory-line batch style, aiming to make them look rather spartan and uniform, a massive departure from my normal style. Of course, I can’t let flat areas go without some sort of free-hand or detailing, so I ended up adding a whole lot of flames, Cult markings and squad icons, including Freehand Salamander iconography. While this leads to a pretty hodge-podge look when put all together, I am pretty proud of the details I’ve managed to pack in.
The hardest part of painting these guys, apart from forcing myself to spend HOURS edge highlighting green, was to get the Salamander icons right. While a lot of them look messy, and no two look exactly alike, I’m one to normally stay away from transfers. I just like to paint everything myself where I can, even if it doesn’t come out exactly “factory made”.
To add to the Tactical Squads, I salvaged an old Inquisitorial Rhino (Mars Pattern, obviously, but I didn’t quite feel like spending money on a 25 point metal box when I didn’t need to). It’s hardly the model I’m most proud of in the army, but she’ll serve her purpose when it comes to gaming, and that’s all I really aimed for.
Joining the Tactical detachment much later (in fact, I only finished painting him a night before posting this gallery!) is Apothecary Tor’uhm, a brother of Proximal dedicated to preserving the lives and strengths of his fire-forged companions. I just love painting the Celesta Grey/White colour, but didn’t want to start a whole World Eaters/White Scar army just to paint a few batches of white power armour. So, along with the Feel No Pain rule, Tor’uhm brings some contrast to the otherwise dark army.
The current centrepiece of the army is my Contemptor Mortis Dreadnought Zandar Ignis. I painted this venerable machine for my local Games Workshop’s monthly Paint Klub. It was my first proper go at dynamic shading through glazes. Instead of simply edge highlighting as normal, I made the effort to create deep shade along the flat armour panels themselves through the application of many thin, glaze-like layers and blending. I also used a lot of Fluro Orange to create the vibrant fire effects and, of course, the glowing lava base! Zandar Ignis managed to take away the “in-store” portion of the competition, so I think he deserves to be the “pretty boy” of the army.
Finally, the trio of “Boxnoughts” that I always envisioned being the heart of my army, got to see a bit of paint. Using the same green I’d practiced across the army, the same technique to create firey glow and similar patterns for squad markings, I went to work on my second “production line” of the army. Painting three Dreadnoughts at a time was actually quite a lot harder and more time consuming than I’d imagined. The old Dreadnought sculpt is iconic, but it’s not the most detailed thing in the Citadel Catalogue. Still, I found I had to spend quite a few nights on these guys to get them looking suitably impressive.
On these Dreadnoughts, I started using a simple chipping technique that I picked up from a fellow Instagrammer (whose name I’ve now lost…). I’ll post the recipe below for interest’s sake, but it basically boils down to using brown and light green in the right spots. I think it looks far more realistic than typical splashes of silver and black.
But anyway, here is the fiery heart of the army to finish off this showcase: Dreadnought Talon Heliosa I.
Since taking this photo shoot, I’ve fixed up a few niggling issues, such as replacing the Venerable Dreadnought’s brass front plate with more green, removing the excessive “dust” from all of the Dreadnought’s feet, adding a cotton-ball smoke plume to hide the gross blotching on the salvaged Missile Launcher (from my very first army in fact!), adding a Heavy Flamer to the Rhino and cleaning up a bit of the mess + more! Keep an eye on my Instagram (@illuminator_hobby) for the updates as they come!
I thought I’d post a couple of the recipes I used to paint my Salamanders Army. Hopefully they can be helpful or inspiring to someone down the track. Always good to see more green Battle Brothers. Into the fires of battle! Unto the anvil of war!
Castellan Green base, wash with Agrax Earthshade. Highlight with Elysian Green, then Ogryn Camo
Follow the recipe above, but add splotches of Rhinox Hide at intervals and along areas where the machine’s working would cause paint damage (around hinges, moving parts, etc.) Under this splotches of Rhinox Hide, add a thin line of Ogryn Camo to create the illusion of depth. See? Simples.
Fire (including crackling effect)
Outline with Khorne Red, fill in with Mephiston Red. Then go over halfway down the flame with Vallejo Fluro Orange. Thinner again, apply Yriel Yellow, then finally white at the hottest (lowest) part of the flame
Warplock Bronze then Sycorax Bronze. Wash with Agrax Earthshade GLOSS. Easy.
If you’d like any more info on how I painted these guys, feel free to comment here or on my Instagram! I’ll be happy to help out.
All importantly, this is one of the few projects I’ve gone into with the hopes of making an effective and legal gaming army. As such, I’ve spent AGES pouring over the Horus Heresy army lists, tinkering with various ideas, such as flying Vulkan Deathstars, Obsidian Forged Dreadnoughts, Firedrakes in Spartans and other nasty Salamanders-only tricks. Of course, I’m a bit of a novice when it comes to tactics and list-building, so I don’t expect to go in and win many games, but I’m pretty happy with where this “starter list” has gotten to.
+ HQ +
Cassian Dracos (WARLORD)
+ ELITE +
Legion Dreadnought Talon
1 Dreadnought with Twin Linked Lascannon and DCCW with inbuilt Graviton Gun, Extra Armour
1 Dreadnought with Twin Linked Lascannon and Twin-Linked Missile Launcher
1 Dreadnought with Flamestorm Cannon and DCCW with inbuilt Melta Gun, Extra Armour
Legion Mortis Contemptor
Two Kheres Pattern Assault Cannons, Extra Armour
Salamanders Legion Tactical Squad
9 Space Marines, 1 Tactical Sergeant with MC Inferno Pistol and Melta Bombs
Salamanders Legion Tactical Squad
9 Space Marines, 1 Tactical Sergeant with Artificer Armour, MC Plasma Pistol and Melta Bombs
Salamanders Legion Tactical Support Squad
4 Space Marines with Flamers, 1 Tactical Sergeant with Artificer Armour, MC Inferno Pistol and Melta Bombs
Rhino Armoured Carrier
+ TOTAL: 1500 +
Where to from here?
The next recruits from Nocturne are set to arrive on my doorstep soon. Joining the remaining five Betrayal at Calth marines will be another five Forgeworld marines in MKII armour (to represent Great Crusade veterans) and a Land Raider Phobos. This mighty machine will eventually carry my Cataphractii Praetor and his Command Squad, who are built to essentially be budget Firedrakes (sans their double wounds, but plus inspiring hero bubble from the Standard Bearer and Covenant of Fire Rite of War). I also plan to paint up an old metal Techmarine with Servo Harness (and Servitor buddies) to accompany Cassian Dracos and make his Vulkan-made-Obsidian-Forged-AV14 hull even more ridiculously unbreakable.
To joining Cassian in a “fluffy” way, I also have Xiaphus Jurr to paint one day. Though he doesn’t yet fit into any list I’ve written, I’d like to have the two together for simple “historic” purposes. Plus, it was easy to convert him from the BaC chaplain! Maybe I’ll add Narik Dreygur and his turn-coat beep boops some day as well.
And what Legion force would be complete without their Primarch…
Anyway, thanks for taking the time to check out my first (and probably only) Horus Heresy era army! It’s been a blast to paint them, write lists for them and order the units I need to fill out the army list (ahh, that new kit smell). If you have any questions, comments, criticisms or praises to the Emperor that you’d like to share, please do! And if you’re a Heresy player in the area, hit me up. I need to practice my dice throwing arm again.
And so we’re back, from outer space, to continue this hobby journey. Thanks to everyone who showed interest in the first post in this short series. I hope it’s inspired some of you new painters to pick up a brush and brought some comfort to struggling hobbyists like myself.
It’s been a good few months since I’ve had the opportunity to sit down and paint anything, but I’m preparing to get back to it. I have a new brush, a couple of new paints (including Vallejo’s Fluros) and a number of minis to jump right back in with. But for now, I’m returning to Veridyan.
When we left off, we’d just finished discussing black. Surprisingly, this is one of the most difficult colours to paint or, at least, get looking “right” on miniatures. Now, rising from the glossy blackness of Veridyan’s armour, we begin to paint the gold and metal.
And that’s where the fun begins.
Step 4: Heavy Metal
You’ll notice that, in the original John Blanche artwork (pictured), Veridyan wears black armour with gold trims. Because of the lighting of the blood red ground and flames around her this gold appears different on the various points of her body (see the shoulder trim compared to the kneepads and then the sword). This being the case, I did my best to replicate the effect.
I also ended up attempting Non-Metallic Metal (NMM), inspired by the ‘Eavy Metal box art. As said in the last post, I worked to replicate this as best as I could. Because I had this reference, I didn’t have to dive into my first NMM experience completely blind.
The trick to NMM is, as the name suggests, creating the illusion of light hitting and reflecting off of metal in a realistic way without using metallic paints. This requires a good eye, careful planning, practice with blending… or a bit of luck and washes/glazes. Whatever works for you.
The kneepads, I think, turned out the best of all the metals. They were created by painting on a layer of ochre-ish yellow like Averland Sunset, then washing with our old friend Agrax Earthshade. This paint is referred to as Liquid Talent for a good reason. Washes pool in even the smallest of recesses rather than laying on top of details, creating great texture and shading with a quick brush over. From there, I worked back up to the yellow but, unlike usual, I left shade in very specific places.
When painting NMM, it’s important to exaggerate shadow just a bit. Light would be landing on the rim of the kneepad (all the way around, but particularly on the bottom and top), the top of the skull in the centre and also a bit on the detail within the trim. As such, I left the darker, washed areas with almost all the shade showing through (seen between the “flames” above the skull), while building up the bright areas to almost full yellow. From there, I continued to add layers to the bright areas with a bleach boned colour, then pure white. Again, don’t be afraid to use pure white on the very edges, but keep in mind where the light falls and bounces.
This idea can also been seen in the shoulder pads and fleur de lis patterns scattered around the body. The relatively dark brown of the shaded areas (that is, those places not hit directly by imaginary light) are left brown, while the very tips are highlighted white. I am a little less happy with the shoulder pads, as they ended up a bit thick and murky, almost tinged green for some strange reason. Remember, as the good Lord Duncan says: “PAINT IN MULTIPLE THIN COATS, NOT ONE THICK ONE.” Patience is key. Blend slowly. The smoother the blend the more realistic the metal will look. However, if you want a more exaggerated, cartoony look, by all means go and paint in layers.
The same principal is applied to the areas of bare steel on Veridyan’s armour, except in greyscale. Starting from a dark grey (perhaps Eshin Grey) in the recessed parts of the armour and working up to pure white will create realistic looking metal. I particularly liked how this turned out on Veridyan’s ornate gloves (see left). For a grittier, heavier, meaner looking metal, go straight from dark grey to white/light grey (as seen on the pistol barrel). The harsher the contrast, the harsher the metal. You’ll see this effect used a lot on Ork armies or even my own Iron Wolves. This is when you can add little chips as well for a more realistic effect (simply make small, random stripes of the final highlight colour).
Step 5: The Holy Sword
Now this was the tricky part.
It was tempting to paint the sword in exactly the same way as detailed above, but that would make it blend in far too much with the gold. This is her principal weapon, after all, and a focal point for the whole model (what with it being a long, straight line in contrast to the curves and folds of her armour). Besides, in the artwork, Veridyan’s sword glows a sort of deep bronze under the hellish light. To recreate this effect, I turned to brown rather than yellow.
Starting from a flat base of Rhinox Hide, I gradually added Karak Stone to the mix. Keeping the principal of direct light in mind, I kept the lower half of the sword completely brown (where the light would not hit but which might reflect the ground around). Using my mix of Rhinox and Karak, I gradually blended along the length of the sword, eventually arriving at pure white on the tip. I then gave the whole thing a very light brown wash to smooth out the transitions a bit (a very helpful technique to try, especially if you’re just beginning to blend), before working a bit of white back in to keep it bright. Finally, I ran my brush at an angle over the edges of the sword (even at the bottom) to finish the effect.
To add to the piece and deviate from the artwork a bit (I hate doing what everyone else has done!) I decided to try a “power weapon” effect by painting on lightning bolts in orange (which you can still see in the photo to the right)…
I ended up hating it and having to redo most of the sword. Ah well. We learn by making mistakes, after all. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Step 6: The Devil is in the Details
I am, as you might be able to tell, a long-suffering perfectionist. I’ve stripped and re-painted countless minis over the years just because there was one little thing that niggled me about them. I’m also rather obsessive when it comes to the small details in things. I think you have to have a combination of both of these traits if you want to be a miniature painter. It’s just using them as a force of good that is difficult.
I love small details and tiny models (hence Goblins and Squigs) simply because it gives me the opportunity to practice laser-like focus. Painting a little chain dangling from Veridyan’s belt or dotting out small patterns on her robe, man, that’s the good stuff. I’m always trying to step up my game, getting finer and finer as I go along. I’ve ended up with Army Painter’s “Extreme Detail” brush in my collection just for this reason. Next step is, of course, “The Psycho“. (Great brushes, by the way).
When painting extreme detail, I find having a magnifying lamp or even cheap 2x reading glasses incredibly handy. I can’t stress the importance of good, natural light in this process as well. You need to be able to see where your brush is going.
Unfortunately, I can’t give many tips on developing a “steady hand”, as it all comes through practice and repetition. I’m still trying to master the art myself. I can, however, give you a couple of good recipes, which I applied when painting on Veridyan’s smaller details. They are quick, easy and without-frills.
Red (for example, cloth and wax):
Mephiston Red > Wash with Xereus Purple > Mephiston Red > Evil Suns Scarlet > Highlight the very edges with Jokaero Orange.
Purity Seal Paper:
Karak Stone > Wash with Agrax Earthshade > Karak Stone > White > Dot on/scribble some thin lines of watered-down Rhinox Hide to represent text.
Start with Rakarth Flesh > Wash with Agrax. Essentially the same as the purity seals, but leaving more contrast between the washed Rakarth and final white highlight (you can also use Ushabti Bone, a slightly yellower bone colour, to further differentiate the two).
DO NOT start with white. Instead, start with the foundation paint Celestra Grey (seriously, a life saver). To give the impression of a white with depth instead of pure white, only highlight the edges of the armour/hair/whatever with pure white. Use a mix of white and Celestra to create a mid-tone where appropriate. Shade with watered down Nuln Oil (very carefully) if you need extra depth.
Pale Caucasian Flesh:
Kislev Flesh > Shade with Agrax or Reikland Fleshshade > Kislev flesh > Kislev Flesh/White > White on very edges (noses, etc.). Mix in a tiny amount of red to paint the lips (only paint the bottom lip of any scale mini, this gives an impression of make-up or flush without going too far).
And really, that’s all there is to it! To finish off Veridyan, I used these simple, basic tricks over the finer details, making them pop while not taking too long. Of course, there’s room for experimentation even here, like producing more realistic flesh with blue tones and deeper red with greens. For now, though, I think we’ll leave it at that.
Ahh, one last thing on details though: Eyes!
Everyone learning to paint miniatures comes across this problem sooner or later, discovering that even with the thinnest brush in the world it seems impossible to paint realistic eyes. But there are some easy tips.
The biggest mistake to avoid is creating a “startled” look by placing the iris/pupil in the very centre of the eye, detached from the border. In reality, the iris is obscured, top and bottom, by eyelids. In miniature form, all you’ll likely see of the whites of the eye are the very corners. As such, it’s best to paint most of the eye black.
Paint the whole eye black, or very dark brown > Very carefully, paint on a strip of white in the eye socket, leaving a ring of black (suggesting eyelashes) > Over this, paint a black dot, big enough to reach the black edge of the eye, but small enough to leave some white visible on both sides (depending on where the model is looking).
It’s tricky, sure, but eyes are a focal point that deserves the attention. If you do not have the space to paint eyes, however, don’t be tempted to just splash paint over the eyelid. Instead, paint a thin line of wash to give the impression of dark eyes between the eyelids. This looks a whole lot better than bulging, cartoon eyes. Trust me. I have far too many of this sort in my collection from the early days.
Step 7: Watching it all Come Together
And so, apart from a few extra things here and there, Veridyan is complete.
There are, naturally, a number of things I’d go back and change if I had the time and energy. Firstly, I’d take more time on blending the metals smoothly in thin coats. I’d pay closer attention to the proportions and shading of the face and also avoid the gloss wash that turned her black armour all shiny in the wrong places.
Never-the-less, Veridyan was a massive learning curve for me, someone looking to take the next big steps in the mini painting field. I got the opportunity to try out a number of advanced techniques, including NMM and blending, in the safe shadow of a number of reference pieces. Even writing this walkthrough has been an educational experience in itself!
I truly hope you’ve gotten something useful from it, even if it was just a bit of a laugh. You can find the completed model in the gallery section of this site, or by clicking here!
To wrap everything up, in this series we’ve covered or touched up:
Thanks again to everyone who’s supported me in my painting over the years, especially in recent times! Please continue to enjoy my site and check me out on Instagram if you haven’t already. I’m rolling out a number of past projects there at the moment, but expect to see a lot more works in progress and new models next month.
So this will be my first foray into creating a walkthrough or painting guide of any kind. I’ve always been one to work in silence, hiding my in-progresses pieces until they’ve come out looking clean and sparkly, ready for display. But this time I thought I’d do something different.
I thought I’d look back on the process of painting Games Workshop’s Canoness Veridyan late last year and give you a bit of an emotional walkthrough, a tour of my neurotic painting process. It will focus on painting techniques themselves, but also on the theory and practice of being a miniature painter. Perhaps it will inspire. Perhaps it will terrify. Either way, here it is.
A few things to say before we begin this adventure: I have been painting models for the better part of a decade! With practice comes results. I enforce this fact upon all the friends who are thinking of getting into the hobby. You can’t expect your first models to be magnificent, but you will come to look back on them with love and as a measure of progress (below you can see my earliest and one of my latest miniatures). The flip-side is that there are a lot of cheats and tricks that you can use with modern paints that make even the quickest work look fantastic!
Some of my earliest attempts at painting Warhammer
The other main point is that I am hardly a Golden Demon level painter and will probably always aspire to that level (not even mentioning those Spanish and Italian masters, with their flawless blending and colour theory and what-not). I often find myself using the cheats and tricks mentioned above as a bit of a crutch.
With this model, however, I wanted to take the crutch away from myself and force myself to walk… so-to-speak. And I really valued the experience. I tried to apply a couple of advanced techniques, such as non-metallic-metal and proper highlighting of black based on other walkthrough’s I’d found online. While it didn’t end up super perfect, I ended up learning a lot and finding out that it isn’t actually as scary as it seems! Hopefully that’s a bit of encouragement for people also hoping to take that “next step” in improving their skills.
Step 1: You Gotta Start Somewhere
With all miniature projects (and, ya know, basically anything ever) you have to start somewhere. With resin kits, this means washing the resin in luke-warm, soapy water. This removes the solution placed on the moulds so that the creators can remove the finished model safely. This is like buttering the toast before putting in the sandwich grill. You want that baby to slide out all neat like, not ripped to pieces.
Anyway, this is your moment to think and be mindful. Feel the soapy slipperiness slide off gradually. Wash your model gently, making sure not to bend any parts or lose them down the sink. When everything’s dry, the next stage is carefully scraping mould lines off the model with the back of a sharp blade or file. Then after that, comes one of the most important steps in the entire process: priming.
There’s a bit of contention among the miniature painting community about whether or not Games Workshop sells “primer” or just paint in spray form. For those who don’t know, a primer is base separate to the paint layer which allows paint to bond with the material better. You need this, basically. Either way though, if you’re not constantly handling your display models (you shouldn’t), I find Games Workshop’s black spray to be more than suitable. You have to note, however, that it is not the same as their black paint. You’ll want to lay down a very thin coat of this over your primer before you start working on anything that will be black.
And for the love of the Emperor, only spray prime and shave your resin models in well ventilated areas and with a mask. This plastic-resin dust is not something you want to be breathing in or leaving floating around your bedroom. Same thing with spray paint. At very least, invest in a cheap mask. I admit to sinning in this respect, often. I almost always model (but never, ever spray paint) in my room, but it’s not something you think about while doing it.
When the model is all clean and black (or white, whichever colour you choose to base with), you can sit back and admire it while it dries. Don’t touch it for a while. Look at it, plan out the blocks of colour in your mind, put it under a bright lamp and note where shadows lie. Feel that sense of dread that always comes. The important thing to do is breath (not anywhere near the dust or spray paint) and take your time. The blank canvas syndrome is something that all artists have to face at some point in their careers, but once you start splashing that first drop of paint, you’ll feel a lot better. Getting somewhere, anywhere, helps.
Extra Tip: While it’s satisfying to have a line-up of unpainted models to work on, having too many primed and ready pieces in your collection leads to a stress known to many miniature painters. I find having less models prepared in this way far less stressful than having a completely unopened box. At least you can pass on or sell an unopened box easier than a primed and prepared model if you find you don’t have the time.
Step 2: Paint it Black
A generic rule you can apply to all miniature painting is paint either the areas that will feature the most prominent colour (so that you can slap paint on quickly) or the deepest areas on the model first (so that you don’t have to worry about spoiling these parts when painting outer details). I work with a mix of these two rules in mind, depending on the model and time I want to spend on it. For more detailed models (and for Veridyan), I often work one limb/decoration/weapon at a time. This lets you focus on minute detail, but has a major drawback in the fact that this makes it more difficult to have consistent colour across the model, ESPECIALLY if you are mixing certain shades. Either way, as you can see, I took the individual limb route with Veridyan.
Black, the most prominent and lowest colour on Veridyan, is a very difficult colour to paint realistically on miniatures (almost surprisingly). When following the typical technique of edge-highlighting and shading, it’s quite hard to strike the balance between making it too grey or too flat.
My recipe for black is one that I apply to almost every model. It’s hardly perfect, but I find it quick and easy, producing a subtle effect (if not incredibly realistic). Starting from a Chaos Black base, blend in a little bit of Eshin Grey from the edges that you wish to highlight. After this, use Mechanicus Standard Grey to highlight the extremes, running your brush at an angle over the edges. As a final highlight, depending on how shiny the black material is, should be either a mix of Mechanicus and white or, my favourite paint in the GW line, Celestra Grey.
You can also use a base of a certain dark colour, like dark blue, green, red, etc. instead of Eshin Grey to create the impression of a slightly tinged black. But always finish off the recipe with a light grey, because this keeps the material looking like a tinged black instead of a dark colour. You can see an example of this “dark colour” look on my old Chaos Warriors to the right.
With Veridyan, I wanted her black armour to be highly glossy, as in the original artwork, and so I based my highlights on that. As you can see in the image above, I also added a little “shine” on the upper thigh where light would hit naturally.
After painting the black, I actually did a bit of a silly thing and use a thin layer of the new Agrax Earthshade GLOSS which added a layer of shine that made the highlight look a bit messy. However, it was was also a happy mistake, as it provided an interesting texture contrast between her robes and armour trim. Sometimes, you just have to accept these happy mistakes and roll with it.
Step 3: Break 1
After painting Veridyan’s right leg I took my first break. It’s important not to push yourself to complete models in a rush (unless you really need to of course!). Instead, take your time, take breaks, come back days later and take a look at it. Whenever looking at things with fresh eyes you’ll be able to see small mistakes or ways to make them better.
Veridyan was also the first model I painted that I shared WIP shots of on social media. I find this a bit of an ego-boosting encouragement, especially when other artists see it, call out the mistakes and send their compliments.
On the other hand, many artists refuse to share on social media for obvious reasons. The constant encouragement can become a bit of a crutch. You can definitely stagnate in your practice if you go too long without constructive criticism. Seek it out, ask for it, don’t be afraid of a bit of pain because, in the end, it will help you improve.
And so, I guess I’ll finish this article with a request from you all! Send me your constructive criticism! If there’s anything you’ve seen on this site or my Instagram that you think I could improve, please don’t be afraid to let me know.
Anyway, that’s all for now. Hopefully I can find time in this next week to write the next installment, but I will be traveling so I hope you don’t mind if there’s a bit of a pause.
You may have already seen the menus change and this pop up a few days ago, but I’ve now got an Instagram account dedicated to my hobby. You can find me at @illuminator_hobby!
Come follow, like and share!
You can, of course, still find my inspiration feed via the menu above. This features a whole bunch of posts saved to Pinterest for easy organisation. If you’re stumped for ideas, this is a good place to start.
Games Workshop may have made some mistakes in the past, but releasing this kit was not one of them. In a line of “re-masters” that I (and I’m sure many other lovers of the Oldhammer) am gobbling up to the pain of my wallet, GW has hit true form again. It’s great to see them coming out with more “painter’s pieces” than simply churning out more gaming pieces.
Canoness Veridyan is one of my favourite kits to come out of Nottingham in years. Based on a beloved John Blanche artwork, this miniature captures everything Warhammer 40k should be: gothic, over-the-top, grimdark, a bit silly.
I decided to paint my model, against my first instinct, to match the original artwork. Working from the box art also allowed me to practice Non-Metallic Metal painting for the first time (tutorial will probably come on this, but I’m still learning myself, so… we’ll see!) I enjoyed taking it super slow, painting one limb at a time and lavishing attention on the detail and precise shading. While I’m not exactly happy with some parts of the finished product, in total, I think I’m going to go out there and say it’s probably one of the best paintjobs I’ve done!
But there’s no sense resting on laurels. This miniature actually opened my eyes to the possibilities of improving. Even after all these years of painting, there’s still so much more to learn, so much more to try to master. And if I don’t, it doesn’t really matter, as long as I have fun along the way and make some sweet minis.
So without any further ramble, here’s the Canoness, complete with small display plinth featuring the original artwork.
Non-Metallic metal is still a new technique to me, but I was pleasently surprised with the depth achieved through yellows, whites and brown wash
The black armour was the most challenging part. Washed with a gloss, it ended up a tad reflective, unfortunately obscuring my highlights
“In the wilds of the world, the winds of evil hang heavy. It seeps into the crags and pores of the earth and infects even the lowliest creatures… and sometimes these creatures come out of their caves not quite like they were before…”
“Blood Moon Rising” is my first proper “diorama”, but is definitelynotmyfirst “warband” style force. What started off as a single painted Goblin (the Shaman) quickly turned into a full-scale display piece, complete with plinth board.
There isn’t too much preamble to this project other than: I love painting small models and in small numbers largely because I can really focus my energy into pinpoint detail and intricacy. This was also my first proper play-around with developing a scene, natural aspects included, if you don’t count my two previous Armies on Display boards.
Hopefully from these pictures you can get a sense for the vibe I was going for: dark and cheeky, like characters drawn from grotesque fairy-tales.
Chaos is a powerful force that taints all, even the meek and capricious. The people of the Old World tend to forget that… until the knives start to emerge from the shadows.
“Tzaablin”, gaunt shaman, touched by da Twista
“Slinth”, perverted assassin, touched by da Slick One
Sit down here by the fire and let me tell you a story; a story about a time when Wizards were Wizards, not Arcane Collegiates, and Dragons were Dragons, not Stardrakes. It was a simpler time, a wilder time. Samurais fought alongside Dwarfs. Treemen basked under the sun as Goblins got drunk beneath their shade…
At least that’s what I imagine! Truth is, the models at the centre of this post were minted up to a decade or more before I was born. They came in sets sold by the blister, for maybe a couple of pence, which my dad bought as a young man in York. They were painted then stored away in mouldy boxes, until a young hobbyist stumbled upon it and let the sun back in.
So these are the first inter-generational models in my collection. They hold a special significance not just because they were painted by my mum and dad, but that I was given the opportunity to clean them up, bring them back to life in my own way. I treated them with much care as I soaked away the old dusty paint in Simple Green and restored them to bare lead. I took even more care painting them, trying not to bend their almost gooey weapons as I worked.
Now, for a bit of a before and after.
These models are all so charming. Most of them are pre-slotta Citadel, namely the Wizard, Goblins, Dwarfs and Treeman (apparently nicknamed “Klinty”) from the mid-80s, while the Dwarf or Halfling with harp is (unless someone can tell me otherwise) a Ral Partha model from 1985 (also, the only one painted by my mum in the mists of time). Together, they make up a rag-tag warband of adventurers, seeking out treasure and power under the guidance of the Shapeshifting Druid.
They were painted, mostly, from a white undercoat, which allows for brighter, more “retro” colour schemes and thinner application. The bases (made from washers) were painted a sickening vintage green on purpose, a throwback to when all bases were all green, all the time. Shame I didn’t actually have any “Goblin Green” paint.
They were also a practice in intricacy, with the Dwarfs wearing pattern clothes and the Druid wearing a sparkling robe. Keep in mind, these minis are a lot more mini than what we are used to today. The Druid/Wizard is perhaps half the height of your average Space Marine.
Citadel Treeman “Klinty” – 1984
2 Citadel Dwarf Warriors – 80s
In the finest Dwarfen garb.
Citadel Wizard – 1983
Citadel Wizard – 1983
(???) Ral Partha Dwarf with Harp – 1985 (???)
“Why dun you fellas act loike proppa Goblins?” Citadel Drunken Goblins – 1983 with Citadel Great Goblin – 1983
Citadel Drunken Goblins – 1983 with Citadel Great Goblin – 1983
The centrepiece of this project is perhaps my most precious miniature… The Ral Partha Imperial Dragon from 1982, released in a limited print. My dad left this grand beastie unpainted for decades, which I can understand. The level of detail on that base is incredible, even by today’s standards.
The Dragon is an amazing sculpt. It’s simple and almost cartoony in a way, but filled with character and depth. It must have been a pain to assemble though, as it weighs a tonne and is plastered with anciet, gap-filling Araldite. It’s also gone through two sloppy paintjobs, applied by me as a younger hobbyist. Only this time, after giving it the attention it deserves, have I come to feel happy with the finished product.
The colour scheme was a tough one to decide. I search endlessly for similar miniatures, storybook dragons, even plush toys for inspiration, but nothing ever stuck… until I went ahead and painted the red, expecting its scales to be a dark ebony or bluish obsidian. I picked up the bottle of teal and decided, on a whim, to splash it on. The contrast was sharp, but I think it worked. I guess it goes to show that, no matter how much you plan and worry while trying to make things perfect, sometimes the perfect thing just comes along and slaps you in the face.
Anyway, that’s enough of a story for tonight, adventurer. Rest up, because soon you face the Dragon.
“You come seeking our father, but he is not here. I searched for him on the field of battle until they struck me down with a sword of flame that scorched the very heavens, and yet I did not die. I searched for him in the endless vaults of the dead where the crushing blackness tore at my very soul, and yet I endured. I was tested once again through the crucible, and I tell you this — Vulkan does not walk among the dead!”
There is no cooler character in the Horus Heresy (at least from my brief readings of the Forgeworld source books) that Cassian Dracos. The idea of an army being led by an unkillable robot warrior-monk, burning with the flames of zealoutry, is just far too cool to pass up.
The Salamanders are a very under-represented Legion in the Horus Heresy scene and I never understood why (without bringing up the “race” issue that somehow always gets brought up by some hobbyists). I mean, they’re the most “human” legion, but also the most heavy metal (perhaps second to World Eaters). PURGING FIRE AND FLAMES! BRIMSTONE! ARTISAN WEAPONS! DRAGONS!
I have a feeling my love for the green guys comes from my previous Witchhunter project and my variousothergreen armies. I’ve also had a continuing love for “techy” armies and for zealous heroes. Most of all, I just thought the Sallies needed more love… And I’m a massive Warhammer Hipster who wants to do things that not many people have done before.
It was, as I’m sure most of you would know from experience, a really hard choice to settle on a Legion. Out of 18 iconic forces, only one could lay their colours on my expensive bare plastic and resin. I ended up making the choice, at Nottingham, to buy the coolest looking Primarch, Vulkan, and the coolest Dreadnought, Cassian Dracos. And so, my XVIII Legion force was born, following The Dragon Revenant into the fires of battle, unto the anvil of war.
My Salamanders are (perhaps) going to be part of a larger “Shattered Legion” or allied force (alongside either Space Wolves to match my old Iron Wolves or perhaps even loyalist Emperor’s Children). They are members of Xiaphus Jurr’s “Disciples of the Flame” and the crew-members of the Ebon Drake, led, of course, by Cassian Dracos himself. Though I’m still to start painting Xiaphus, before leaving for three months overseas I managed to paint up a Tactical Squad, a Support Squad and Cassian to prove the colour scheme. I was a bit hesitant at first, thinking “ooh, have I picked the right Legion?”, but after finishing this portion of the army, I’ve fallen in love.
This is an ongoing project, so look out for updates as they come! Also, keep your eyes peeled for a guide on painting this green armour, fire and Salamander skin. VULKAN LIVES!