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 😉) 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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Krüll, City of Slaanesh

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!”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Krüll 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.

Illuminator on Instagram

Greetings, Imperial Citizens/Slaves to Darkness!

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!

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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.

Stay golden.

 

Canoness Veridyan (Warhammer 40k – Sisters of Battle) 2017

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.

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John Blanche’s original masterpiece
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My take on the GW miniature

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.