Miniatures of 2017 in Photos

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 ­čśë) 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.


December 2016/January 2017: Canoness Veridyan


January: Abaddon the Despoiler

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May/April: Salamanders Legion


June: The Chrome Suit


July: Greedo


July 2017: Slaanesh Daemon Prince of Chains/The Heirophant


August: Vulkan, Primarch of the Salamanders


October/November: SLAMBO

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.

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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!

Raise your brushes for 2018!

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Kr├╝ll, City of Slaanesh

The Hierophant of Kr├╝ll 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 Kr├╝ll.

“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┬áfeel. 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!”

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A Walking City

The city of Kr├╝ll 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.

Kr├╝ll is, itself, a chariot. Upon wheels the size of castles and pulled by an army of 66,666 daemonic steeds, Kr├╝ll 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 Kr├╝ll.

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Society of the Damned

Kr├╝ll, 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 Kr├╝ll 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 Kr├╝ll 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 Kr├╝ll’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 Kr├╝ll 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.

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In the Wake of the City

Though Slaanesh can claim the city of Kr├╝ll 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. Kr├╝ll 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 Kr├╝ll, 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.

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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 Kr├╝ll continues onward, for ever into the darkness …

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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.

Blood Moon Rising (Warhammer Fantasy/Age of Sigmar – Goblin Warband) 2017

“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 definitely not my first “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.

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Blood Moon Rising – A Warband of Chaos Goblins

Vintage Heroes and Imperial Dragon (Misc. Miniatures) – 2016

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.

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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.

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.

The Thirteenth Horseman (Warhammer – Conversion) 2016

The dead do not rest peacefully along the tainted borders of Praag. The city long ago became a distended hive for daemons and other warped creatures. The walls wail with the souls of the trapped and butchered. The graveyards and churches are now haunted by beings not quite living, not quite dead and not quite sane.
 
But still there are noble souls in the city, or at least something like that. 
 
Stomping, grunting and galloping up and down the length of Praag’s great walls are thirteen horesemen, knights of an unknown order who stand in eternal vigil. Twisted and broken by the powers of Chaos, these beings know no rest.┬á
 
Whether they be daemon, undead or some almagamation of both, no one can be sure. Some bear the arms and armour of Norse Marauders, others the ragged colours of Empire knights. One amongst them even carries Elder blades and wears a phoenix helm. Whatever their previous allegiance, it is obvious that they now serve a greater, more mysterious master. Repelling invaders and looters from the Northlands, mountains and great cities alike, they are silent guardians of the entombed city. 

The Thirteenth Horseman was a fun little conversion, made largely from the bitz-box of my local hobby store. I remember spotting a cute “skeletaur” conversion in one of the very first Golden Demon publications (all the way from the 80s). It’s really liberating and enjoyable to challenge yourself with “complex” conversions for the simple sake of creating, instead of hacking and pasting weapons for WYSIWYG gaming.

The most challenging parts of this conversion were those involved in making the Horseman look like he was “leaping” over the barricade. I had to do a bit of cutting and greenstuffing around the back legs to make the plastic horse skeleton to “rear up”. It’s quite simple to do this, just follow the contours already in place as designed by the modeller, cut into them and then fill the space with greenstuff. It can be painful to watch it slowly droop and fall apart as the greenstuff dries, but just hold it in a neutral position so that the weight does not pull it down. Look for more of a tutorial on this in the future!
The painting style was very much inspired by the recent influx of “Blanchitsu” warbands and, in particular, the blog Ex Profundis, one of my favourite hobby websites ever!
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The Triumph of Death – The Thirteenth Horseman

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The Host of Ashmodeus (Warhammer – Realm of Chaos) 2015

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It was a bit before my time, but holy Warp Entities, Realm of Chaos is by far my favourite supplement to the Warhammer world.

For those who aren’t familiar with the dark glory of 80s Warhammer (I suggest you take a look here), Realm of Chaos was a two-book supplement all about the four dark gods, the daemons and lesser gods of the Warp, their spawn and their mortal champions. They delve into ridiculously deep detail in terms of lore, on par with the later Liber Chaotica books, while also delivering a set of rules for fielding a Chaos warband. They are also chocked full of the most evocative artwork ever published by Games Workshop (from the likes of Ian Miller and John Blanche) and colour scheme examples that really do seem insane (by today’s standards at least).

Realm of Chaos is centred around the idea of mortal “Champions” rising through slaughter, gaining chaotic gifts and mutations from their patron god and potentially reaching daemonhood. As such, armies were small, personal affairs, sort of like modern-day Inq28 or Kill Team forces instead of 2,000 point armies.

Almost everything could be randomised. You could even create lesser gods and their daemonic pantheons from d1000 tables, rolling to see what animal they take the image of, what weapons they favour and what gifts they bestow upon their followers, etc. etc. It truly was a golden time for weird and whacky role-playing fun.

And since I’ve always had a bit of a crush on retro Warhammer models (there’s something so full-of-life, simple, almost naive about them that drives me crazy) and, of course, the daring colour schemes of pinks, blues, greens and stripes that accompany them. In 2015 I went on a bit of a spending spree, hunting through ebay and second-hand stores until I had enough for a small warband. And so, The Host of Ashmodeus was born, not from random tables, but from much searching.

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The Host of Ashmodeus was a practice in painting as bright as I possibly could. Even know, the army stands out among my display cabinet. It was also my first time painting from a white undercoat (Games Workshop’s Skull White which, as you know, is pretty unreliable). I ran into a few problems with chipping, but apart from that, it was a really fun experience. In the near future, I’ll put up a tutorial on making these colours and working with white in general.

It was also an excuse to work my magic writing lore for every miniature in the force. Because each model has “gifts” (mutations and weapons) that mark them out as special, I created a backstory for them, connecting their stories under the Lord Ashmodeus, a Slaaneshi prince gifted with technology from a dark future.

Da Boo-Ha-Ha Klan II (Warhammer Fantasy Battle/Age of Squigmar ÔÇô Squigs) 2015

The Boo-Ha-Ha Klan are a famously good-humoured Night Goblin clan that, long ago, infested the ruins of Lugrumdumbz and the nearby mountain passages near the infamous city of Kr├╝ll. They have a propensity for practical jokes and sabotage, as well as an incredible thirst for potent Fungus Brew.

The Goblins of The Boo-Ha-Ha Clan are never happy unless they are heavily intoxicated. The clan is more often than not raiding distilleries or celebrating pointless, hilarous deaths in their dank hideout. More exotic and toxic fungi grow in their caves than almost anywhere in the North, which allows a healthy Squig population to exist. Soldiers and mercenaries should be aware that The Boo-Ha-Ha clan are highly specialized in Squigly warfare and have a large number of Fanatics among their ranks.

In fact, that is but the surface of the truth. Within the depths of Lugrumdumbz and its labyrinthine cave systems, something else calls the shots… something… bouncy.

The Squiggly King is a beast of pure, regal destruction. It rarely pops its head out from its cavern, as the Boo-Ha-Ha Goblins are keen to keep it satisfied with a constant flow of sacrifices. Better that, than have a glowing ball of angry fungus and teeth running wild through your cramped campsite.

Lesser Squiggly beasts rally to the call of the Squiggly King and it takes a truly powerful Night Goblin to corral them all into battle.


My Squig-themed army is perhaps my favourite past project and so I’m super happy to finally get around to sharing it with you all! Who doesn’t love these little balls of destruction, especially when they’re painted in bright, garish colours?

While I actually see my Squig army as seperate to my previously painted Goblin horde, they can still be played as one, of course (in case I wanted to run some unfortunate army over with a truly apocalyptic horde of green and teeth).

Most of these models are old metal ones from back in my own day, mixed in with a couple of finecast Squigs and some Forgeworld resin (you can actually read about my trip to Nottingham, where I bought these models, in my travel blog here). I decided to paint them up in crazy, fantasy fungi colours instead of traditional red and orange. Because, you know, it’s more fun that way! It actually leads to a surprisingly cohesive looking force when put all together.

I won’t say anymore, other than I hope you enjoy the madness!

My Squiggly army also took part in the 2016 Games Workshop “Armies on Parade” competition, in which they took away a shiny bronze medal! I unfortunately don’t have any better shots of the finished board, but hopefully these give you a good idea of the finished product.

The story?: Don Squixote has heard rumour of a “Heart of Power” deep within the lush woods. Hoping to find it and swallow it for its special powers, Squixote leads a bouncing, doom-bringing, rather-doomed-itself expedition into the heart of the forest… only to find the “Heart” guarded by ruinous champions.

Personalities (2014 – 2016)

In the realms of fantasy, there are heroes untold. Thousands of charismatic characters and perilous personalities. There are also plenty of villains and monsters for them to fight.

In this post, you’ll find a whole host of these heroes and villains that I’ve painted over the years. For the most part, these individual models were either painted as practice, for a bit of fun, diversion from larger projects or for painting competitions (like the monthly Paint Club at my local hobby store).

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Heroes and Villains

 

Da Boo-Ha-Ha Klan I (Warhammer Fantasy Battle/Age of Sigmar – Goblins) 2014 – 2015

The Boo-Ha-Ha Clan are a famously good-humoured Night Goblin clan that, long ago, infested the ruins of Lugrumdumbz and the nearby mountain passages near the infamous city of Kr├╝ll. They have a propensity for practical jokes and sabotage, as well as an incredible thirst for potent Fungus Brew.

The Goblins of The Boo-Ha-Ha Clan are never happy unless they are heavily intoxicated. The clan is more often than not raiding distilleries or celebrating pointless, hilarious deaths in their dank hideout. More exotic and toxic fungi grow in their caves than almost anywhere in the North, which allows a healthy Squig population to exist. Soldiers and mercenaries should be aware that The Boo-Ha-Ha clan are highly specialized in Squigly warfare and have a large number of Fanatics among their ranks.

Though Imperial propaganda insists that the clan is relatively harmless, more likely to sleep off hangovers in their caves than come out to fight, this could not be further from the truth. Many a traveler has been caught off guard by hordes of Squigs and tornadoes of Fanatics that suddenly burst from the caves and ruins.


The First Wave – 2014

Da Boo-Ha-Ha Klan are, perhaps, my pride-and-joy army. You know the one, that force that captured your heart and imagination. The one you keep coming back to, refusing to call finished. That’s them for me. I love these little grinning, green guys.

This army was born out of a huge collection of unpainted Night Goblins from Battle for Skull Pass and Skaven from The Island of Blood. I hadn’t painted a “horde” style force before, and thought it would be an interesting challenge. After a month or so, I’d painted more than 100 Goblins and developed repetitive strain injury. But it was worth it.

There are a number of conversions among the ranks that I’d like to note and share, in particular the “Slaya” and the Hob-Goblins made from shaved Skaven slaves (with their tales cut off as well).

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The core of Da Boo-Ha-Ha Klan’s army

Die Hochlander Hexenjaeger (Mordheim – Witch Hunters) 2014

In the dark temporal forest of 2014, Games Workshop Adelaide began hosting a monthly paint club. Each month we picked a single model and everyone in the club painted it to the best of their abilities for the prize of picking the next model. It was an expensive game, but one that really pushed you learn knew techniques and learn from one another.

One of the models to be release that year was a Finecast Warrior Priest, who I painted up as a Witch Hunter, complete with burning brazier and eye-patch. This was my first time painting realistic fire (white at the base, darker to the top, rather than the other way round), and also such fine clothing details. The tartan wasn’t really the most… thematically Germanic choice, but it was a stylistic choice to represent hardened woodsmen from the realm of Hochland.

After painting the Witch Hunter, I just had to keep going. The grittiness and personality of Mordheim really entranced me. I had to make some sort of gothic fantasy fighting force of desperados and zealots, and so was born the Hochlander Hexenj├Ąger!

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Die Hochlander Hexenjâger