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!
“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.
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
“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!
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD, SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE
I’ve always been pretty Anti-Khorne. There’s nothing super exciting about generic big-bad blood god in fantasy anymore. I’ve always been much more drawn to Nurgle, Tzeentch and ESPECIALLY Slaanesh.
But with the release of Khorne Daemonkin I finally heard the braying for blood. I had to make the most Heavy-Metal model ever, I just HAD to. And so I created and painted a Chaos Lord on a motorbike, featuring a giant buzzsaw for an arm, tattered skin parchments and cracked bone armour which leaked bone-marrow as he screamed by. Metal A.F.
After finishing this character, I decided to turn some unused and neglected beastmen warriors (which I had painted up as part of a doomed Imperial Guard project sometime around 2013-2014) in to Khornate cultists, painting their bases to match the Blood God’s favourite battlefield.
Below is the playable army, featuring 2 HQ and 2 Troop choices. Sure, it’s not effective, but it exists at least!
The plan is to use these guys as part of a grand Chaos army, featuring an alliance between all my Chaotic forces. It might be a bit of a ridiculous dream though, as deciding on a unified colour scheme for the bases alone has proven difficult in itself! I’m currently stuck between bloody Martian red or alien purple. I suppose time will tell…
Lord Murderghast on his Hellcycle
The weapons of the Blood God are cruel and unusual
A repainted Daemon-Prince, converted from my Slaanesh army to lead the planned Chaos alliance force
Bit of a speed-paint, but servicable enough for gaming purposes!
Much like my small Tau warband, my Harlequins are orphans of a larger planned army that never got far off the ground. I still have a Starweaver and a number of other Space-Clowns sitting, primed and ready, to be painted in my WIP box… Ah, some day, my pretties… some day.
But either way, I’m pretty proud of these colourful characters. I painted the Shadowseer and Death Jester for the monthly painting challenge at my local Games Workshop and added the Troupe Master after. The lone Harlequin trouper was the test model for the scheme, even though I found myself drifting towards more reddy-pinks in the later models.
These guys were a practice in painting bright and loud, painting convincing galaxy patterns (a tutorial for which I’ll upload soon) and some checks. They were also my first Eldar of any sort, as I’m not normally one for “knife-ears” in any setting.
Let the grand carnival begin!
The cosmic pattern will be repeated throughout the army as an alternative to checks
The Apostles of the Abyss were born from the Dark Vengeance starter set for Warhammer 40,000. As a dedicated cultist of Chaos, I couldn’t spend all that precious time painting Dark Angels, so I decided to turn most of the box over to the dark side.
The Apostles of the Abyss were an experiment in using dark, midnight colours, contrasted against bright orange. While the orange did turn out a bit muddier than I would have liked, I do really think the colour scheme worked. One day, I may go back and add to this small warband, perhaps using Vallejo fluro orange or something similar. The alien purple bases are definitely something I want to do again… but I’m struggling to find colour schemes to match.
The Apostles of the Abyss emerge from the darkness between stars, bearing the icon of the flame-eater, intent on snuffing out the light. Wherever they arrive, shadows follow, but blood does not always flow. They are ghosts in the night, treacherous tongues, vile disciples of darkness… yet great heroes all the same.
A vile and mysterious sorcerer… bearing the robes of a Fallen Angel?
A cultist of the Thousand Sons. But why is he alone?
A Wulfen lord, escaped from some frosty jail.
A mutated Helltallon spotted screaming through the night.
Where is its pilot?
No records exist on the lineage of these warriors. Night Lords?… Perhaps, Fallen?
The icon of the Flame-Eater
Fallen Angels flock to the Abyss. The Darkness cannot hide them!
I’m a die hard Fallout fan. There’s something about the ridiculous retro-futuristic vibe, coupled with the barely-contained anarchy of the post-post-apocalypse, that really gets the gears in my spider-web encrusted brain turning. At some point, I really had to add some of these elements to a miniature project… Enter, Da Nuka Trooperz.
When Kill Team, that is: small games of Warhammer 40,000 played with only a squad or two of individual models, started to grow in popularity around 2014, I had to jump on the bandwagon… and what better army to do so with than the Orks! They’ll loot the bandwagon, paint it red and blast out across the universe in a wave of green fury. Love it.
I had a rather big collection of Boys and Nobz from my early days of Warhammering (for anyone not familiar with the 40k universe, Boyz are the lower class of Ork, while Nobz, or Nobles, are bigger, meaner, greener, and rule over the others). My first Orks were painted, rather thickly, in a bizarre mix of Snakebite and Goff colours (imagine hardline military creatures with black and white checks, combined with furs and tribal totems). I’ve still got a good number of them in boxes somewhere but, like my ill-fated Dwarfs and very first Ultramarines, they will never see the light of day if I can help it.
But anyway, I had a few bodies to work with, so to speak. I bought a box of Nobz, stripped my Warboss and reconverted a couple of Boyz and so Da Nuka Trooperz were born!
As I’m sure you’ll know by now, if you’ve been following my uploads, I like to work in small scale armies, block by block rather than army by army. Kill Team provides the perfect platform for that. My Orks were rather successful in their first few games, and I became super fond of them because of their pluck.
Their style is, of course, based on the Fallout universe, mostly from the third game which (to the pain of a lot of hardcore gamers) is actually one of my favourite games of all time. I have a little picture of Vault Boy on the Deffkopta, Galaxy News Radio themed banners and even “Amurikkun” flags and cola signs everywhere. I absolutely adore this theme, and will definitely continue and expand it when I get round to painting more Orks… I’ll probably move away from now-overused yellow, though.
After a while, I bought a few more boxes (namely the then new Flash Gitz and MegaNobz) but have yet to get around to painting them. Some day though, I’m sure, Da Nuka Trooperz will get suitable reinforcements.
Kurnull Hazmat Ardgutz is the leader of my small warband. Though I can’t use him in any official Kill Team games because of his HQ role, I painted Hazmat up before anything else, for fun, and to test out the colour scheme. Now, Hazmat sits pride and place as one of my favourite miniatures in my whole collection.
Boss of Da Pit’s brutal “Uppa Klass”. Hazmat loves nothin’ more than lordin’ it over all his slaves and machinery, laughin’ as gretchin and boy alike get stuck in gigantic gears, open furnaces or mining equipment. Of course, like any Warboss, Da Kolonel also loves gettin’ stuck in, especially when leading raiding parties outside Da Burg, the Space Hulk home of the clan.
When da bosses need someone to smack heads and restore the chaotic order of Da Pit, they call Da Bullies. Being strong enough to avoid being effected by the intense radiation of the Hulk they live on means they will continue to rule unchallenged until their violent deaths.
Painted as part of a 2015 Paint Club session at Games Workshop: Adelaide, Kutta is the latest addition to the army. His different skin tone marks him out as the next generation of my Orks.
Despite the huge slave population of Da Pit there is still a degree of maintenance needed to keep things running smoothly and tech coming up to the surface… on both the machines and the workers. Painboyz are highly valued in such a dangerous environment as Da Burg, and none is more valued than Kutta, most trusted Painboy of Kolonel Hazmat Ardgutz.
Examples of the brutal machinery employed by Da Nuka Trooperz to both raid and subjugate the slaves of Da Pit. None can escape the eye of The Hurty Burdz, none can escape the flames (or dangerously loud radio broadcasts) of Da Boomboxes.
The main fighting force of Da Nuka Trooperz is a collection of seasoned boyz, ex-slaves, gladiators and looterz from clans all over the galaxy. The majority of Da Nuka Trooperz are taken from The Bad Moons and Blood Axe clans, likely explaining the odd behavior and lifestyle of Da Trooperz. Of course, a constant supply of new recruits is needed to work Da Pit and attack any planet stupid enough to orbit close to the Hulk, but there is no shortage of them to be found wherever Da Burg drifts.