“The Knights Resplendent”: An Experiment with Chrome

I’ve been absolutely blown away and humbled by the response to my recent hobby experiment. Upon writing, the Instagram community have watched the short video I posted almost 18,000 times! Never before have I spent a whole day fielding questions and sending thanks. It’s really filled my bitter, grimdark heart with joy.

So I wanted to put together something of a tutorial/review for you all! I hope here I can answer some of the questions that have been flooding my way today.

I present to you: The Knights Resplendent

Chrome Space Marines
The Knights Resplendent in their chromed out glory

Witness Me!

There’s always been a little part of me screaming out for Space Marines that shine. The 41st Millennium is a very dark and grimy place but I think that, somewhere out there, there would have to be a band of super radical, 80s neon-bright warriors taking down the enemies of the Emperor while glittering like a He-Man hero. The release of the new, slick Primaris Marines (which I still refuse to see as a new “species” of Marine, rather an up-sizing for sake of scale), was the perfect opportunity to try bring my vision to life. I just needed the right tool.

I found the secret weapon in the form of a paint marker from legendary graffiti brand Molotow: the Liquid Chrome (20 Years Edition) Marker. I should mention off the bat, I’m in no way connected to the brand, or an “influencer” of any kind (*cough* not yet *cough*).

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Let’s break the marker down a bit, shall we? The marker is essentially a big tube of super shiny, alcohol-based paint that is pushed out by pressure on the nib (which comes in 1mm, 2mm or 4mm sizes). Of course, the bigger the nib, the bigger the pen (thus more paint), but for scale work, 1mm works spectacularly.

My first experiment with this super-pigmented paint was on a Tau Battlesuit, used to decorate the inner metal and icons. When I painted this in Australia, eBay only gave me access to the 2mm version of the pen, which made it difficult (impossible even) to cover some surfaces. In this case, I pushed down the nib into a small groove in my palette to create a pool of paint, which I quickly applied with an old brush. Of course, this method resulted in a lot of lost detail and an rough, bubbly finish.

Tau Battlesuit Chrome
My first experiment with Molotow Liquid Chrome

It should be noted, there are plenty of high-shine paints on the market, and a lot of chrome spray paints, but I was lucky enough to stumble upon this through graffiti culture and find it works very well with a minimum of fuss. No need for buffing powders or anything, just shake well, and apply. The main drawbacks are that the markers are relatively expensive, and would be a bit impractical if used to paint an entire army, as I will explain below.

Chrome Warhammer Space Marines Tutorial
The sub-assembly of the chromed-up Space Marine Sergeant

Putting it into Practice

As already mentioned, applying the paint couldn’t be easier. Of course, it’s best to keep your minis partially un-assembled at this stage because, unlike a brush, the marker is rather thick and will not bend to enter hard-to-reach places. I constructed the bodies of the Easy to Build Intercessors, leaving their arms and backpacks on the sprue until the coat was roughly even.

To apply the paint, simply shake well, press down a bit on a palette to get the paint running through the nib, and then draw onto the surface. Remarkably, the paint smooths itself out really well, flowing across the surfaces as a slightly glittery fluid then congealing as an almost rubbery, smooth mass. Naturally, you can’t really thin this (to my knowledge), so you’ll have to be content with a less-than-totally-crisp look. If you look closely at the photos of my painted examples, though, it hardly overloads details unless over-used or multiple coats are made to correct mistakes … no pressure, though!

I found, on my first try, that drawing over mistakes while the paint is still wet is a really bad move. Because the paint sets completely very, very slowly, drawing on the surface without waiting some hours will result in a rough, damaged and globby surface that is nowhere near as flat and shiny. For a truly mirror like finish, try and get everything painted in one quick go, and if you need to fix things up later, apply another layer only after a fair amount of time has passed (in this case, I only fixed up mistakes the next day or later). This restricts you a bit, and can result in some imperfect results (see, the results of clipping the backpack from the sprue on the image below), so be prepared.

Chrome Space Marines Molotow
A close-up in which you can probably see a bit of “thickness” appearing, specifically in the thick line of the backpack.

Another very important note: keep your grubby mits off the model! While it’s drying, the finish is incredibly fragile and even after it has dried, it remains easy to damage. Simply touching the model (leaving trace body oils) will result in a dulled shine, closer to Games Workshop’s brightest silvers rather than a true chrome. As such, I don’t think I’ll ever risk gaming with these fellows, or extending the project into a full army (because of cost restrictions as well).

Once the coat is on and dried, you can pick out details around (I used a lot of White/Celestra Grey, because dark objects seem to appear as holes rather than details against the chrome). The paint itself dries so smooth and shiny that properly thinned paint simply balls up and separates like water off a duck’s back. Because of this, plan ahead and only paint the areas you want to be shiny. I found that using another art marker (a 0.03 Copic Promarker) actually work better than paint to draw in black lines, such as grooves in the armour or between the shoulder pad and trim.

I have yet to experiment with varnishing these models (to tell you a secret … I have never varnished a model) and so do not know if the coat of protection will affect the shine. My guess, from just touching the finish, is that it probably would. Perhaps a gloss varnish might serve to enhance or alter the effect in interesting ways, but you’d have to take care to not make the whole model glossy.

And that’s about it in terms of tutorial! Elegant, right?

Chrome Space Marines Back
The mirror-like effect is more pronounced on large, flat surfaces. You can see a bit of the yellow tarp I use to protect my painting table reflected in the armour here.

Fact File: The Knights Resplendent

++ 002.M42 ++
++ Database of Potentially Renegade Adeptus Astartes ++
++ File: The Knights “Resplendent” ++
++ Thought of the Day: What fear of death have we who know there is immortality in the great and noble deeds of men? ++

In psychotropic warzones across the Imperium Nihilis, a highly ostentatious Chapter of  Adeptus Astartes have been recorded launching shock-and-awe assaults that have, more often than not, resulted in the total disruption of enemy organisation within hours. The chapter bears no codex-compliant livery upon their armour, and little numerical or rank identification, though all known members operate in armour shined to mirror-like brightness (for reasons yet to be explained to the Adeptus Administratum [file appends: Attempted_Blockade_of_The_Knights_Resplendent]). Though their uniformly dazzling armour is highly conspicuous, The Knights Resplendent are a reserved chapter, operating in secret until their brutal method of warfare (consisting of sudden, excessive barrages of high-ordinance, surgical drop-pod strikes and [REDACTED]altering [REDACTED] [file appends: Weapons_of_Sensory_Overload_and_their_Application]. Further to these troubling claims is the fact that the Gene-Seed source of the chapter has yet to be catalogued and ratified, suppressed by agents of His Holiness, Forge-Lord of [REDACTED], [REDACTED].


Rounding Up

So I think I’ll call this little experiment a wild success! There’s still more to be learned in this process, such as: how varnishes will affect the finish? Will the shine hold for years? How many models can you paint with one pen? Can you paint with a brush straight from the ink refill bottle? (My guess on this last one is: probably not smoothly).

For now, I’m planning to leave The Knights Resplendent here. I want to, perhaps, paint a Gravis Armoured Captain (or better yet… another Dreadnought), but that will be it for the marker I have, I reckon. Apart from Space Marines, I think this ink/paint would look amazing on Necrons, some neon Skitarii (one of my first thoughts when playing with the paint) or any other miniature that is smooth, futuristic and cyber-punkish. Though Infinity minis might be a little small in scale to apply this to, I also reckon the possibilities for use in that universe are endless!

I hope this helps and answers some questions. If you’re keen to see more of my work, follow this blog and my Instagram (@illuminator_hobby) and be sure to let me know if you find a cool application for this awesome marker!

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Painting Veridyan – A Walkthrough Part 2

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.

jb146c-sisters-of-battleStep 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.

2The 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.

shoulders.png
Note the pure white on the gorget and the dark brow directly beneath it. This gives the impression that light is shining directly down on the piece of gold armour and the edge is casting shadow on the lower areas. A small amount of yellow is placed at the bottom of the gorget to represent light reaching there.

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.

weaponsThe 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.

swordStarting 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.

weapons

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.

Bone:

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).

White:

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.

eyes
Always watching

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.

Eyes:

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

img_20161229_152814235And 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.

Happy painting!

Part 1

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Painting Veridyan – A Walkthrough Part 1

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!

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

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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

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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.

tingeYou 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.

Thank you all for reading! Go get painting 👌

PART 2

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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.

jb146c-sisters-of-battle
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.

Murderghasts (Warhammer 40,000 – Khorne Daemonkin) 2015

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…

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The Nova’s Heart (Warhammer 40,000 – Harlequins) 2015

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!

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Harlequins from the Troupe of the Nova’s Heart. Their pyrotechnics challenge even the stars from which they emerge.

Da Boo-Ha-Ha Klan II (Warhammer Fantasy Battle/Age of Squigmar – 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 Krüll. 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.