Lieutenant Varras

Alright, let’s get the hobby year 2020 started! I wanted to pick a small project to ease myself back to painting after a bit of a hiatus, so here’s Lieutenant Varras from the Battle for Macragge box.

I didn’t get any hobbying done during Christmas / New Year, due to not being home for the majority of them. But since then I’ve slowly been building and prepping models to eventually paint, and during last weekend and Epiphany Monday managed to paint up one of them. Varras had been sitting on my table for pretty long, and of course he’s been in my possession since the release of BfM in 2004. I had actually painted the model back then, but as he wasn’t really a part of my Ultramarine army, and I was never really happy with how he looked, I decided to strip him and give him a new paintjob.

Painting was rather straightforward, I used the same palette as for my Revelators, with the difference that I painted the pouches and holsters brown instead of black to bring in some additional color. I also tried out Citadel’s new paint triad for dark skin, and am very happy with the result. Definitely using it for some other models as well!

Painting this model pretty much finished the Space Marine side of BfM, as I have already painted the objective markers and a Tactical Squad (will have to do a marine with a flamer at some point). The squad is of course not the one from the box, but that’s fine as, to be frank, the BfM marine sculpts and casts were mostly terrible. I might get to the Tyranids at some point, as I think I’ve got most of the minis still in my possession. I’ve also tried to get hold of the Aquila lander terrain pieces (I still kick myself for binning those as a teenager), but so far the prices have been a bit too much.

Finally, I’ll begin filling the hobby bingo card as well. The card is a bit different than last year, as Rob redesigned it just this month. Let’s see if I’ll do better this time! I’ll cross off the “to-do pile model”, I think Varras qualifies.

From the Archives: Ork Dreadnought

So this is a bit of a special one: the last model that I got before dropping the hobby in my teens. And it was a Christmas present too, so it always bothered me a bit that I didn’t finish it. But here it is, in its finished glory, an Ork Dreadnought (yes, from time before Deff Dreads)!

The Dread was completed a year ago for Azazel’s mechanically themed November challenge. It was basically a full build too, as I had hardly started working on it all those years ago. The first thing to do was to make a base as the box didn’t come with one. As you might be able to tell, I used cork and tied to replicate the old Space Marine Dreadnought base design. I did add a couple of details like the tank trap bit and the Ork helmet to add some flair of my own.

After the base was done it was on to the Dreadnought itself. I could instantly remember why I didn’t finish this model: this is a metal model and basically none of the parts fit each other without a lot of filing. I think I spent 2-3 days just fitting and pinning the model together. While I was at it, I magnetized the big shoota so that I could swap it for a rokkit launcha in the future. The burna is glued on as usual due to it’s more difficult position.

Then I had to decide on a paint scheme. I kind of wanted an orange scheme, but painting the whole thing orange would’ve been too much, and I couldn’t come up with anything else that I would’ve been happy with. In the end I decided to try and replicate the box art scheme, which is a kind of first since my teens, and I’m happy that I did since the scheme is awesome, and was very fun to paint! There is absolutely no “standard” edge highlighting on this model, all the edges are defined by sponging or drybrushing. Freehanding the skull design on the front was a great exercise, and I found a pretty good way of painting dark (coated?) metal that’s common in real world guns.

So yeah, this project was a fun one! I think the design of this Dreadnought has held up really well, maybe I’ll get some plastic Killa Kans to accompany it. Some day..

Astra Rodentia Sentinel

Alright, I finished the Sentinel that I showed at the beginning of the month, and just in time to enter Azazel’s Mechanovember, too! As I’ve already spoken about building the model, this post is dedicated to the painting.

But first things first! If you read the title of the post, and have seen my previous posts, you noticed that I’ve got a new name for my Imperial Skaven: the Astra Rodentia. This was suggested by amazingturtles over on DakkaDakka, thanks to her! At first I thought it was a bit too noble sounding for this abhuman rabble, but the more I’ve been thinking about it the more sense it makes. Propaganda and all that..

And on to the painting! I’m super pleased with how this one came out! The first thing I needed to do was to decide on a paint scheme. As my rats are supposed to be a ragtag group of fighters using kit from various sources, I could basically choose anything I wanted. I didn’t want to go with the default Cadian scheme, but due to most of my models so far have green flak armor, the scheme could have some green in it. The rats are also fighting in an industrial setting, so some sort of urban camo would be appropriate. With this in mind, the classic Steel Legion vehicle scheme seemed like a perfect fit, and I’ve always liked the scheme too!

It took a bit of research to figure out what colors to use for the gray and the green. Some sources said that the gray was Fortress or Codex Grey, and the green was Rotting Green. While the latter seems accurate, the gray was surely something darker, or something’s up with the old photos of Steel Legion vehicles. But anyway, I used Dawnstone and Nurgling Green for my model, and I think it works pretty well. The camo was painted by first painting the basic shapes on the model, after which the two colors were mixed together and painted on the borders of the two colors to blend them in. The old sources suggested drybrushing for this blending, but the shape of the Sentinel didn’t really work for that so I just painted it in the normal way instead.

In addition to painting a camo scheme on a vehicle, this project was also a great opportunity to practice some new(/ish) techniques. I’m very happy with how all the lights and lenses came out, and had lots of fun doing all the freehand scribblings and weathering. Speaking of weathering, I finally got myself Typhus Corrosion and Ryza Rust (largely inspired by davekay and Azazel), and used them for the exhaust pipes and various other bits. Fun stuff! Painting the base was a bit of a challenge as I wanted to have a bit of color in there so that it’s not just all solid gray, but at the same time I didn’t want the base to steal the show (which a bright red barrel could easily do). Some yellow warning stripes, the red barrel and the wonderful little rat took care of the color, while drybrushing the whole thing with light gray for highlights / dust effects pulled the base together nicely. I also used some other white-ish colors afterwards to introduce a bit of variation, which worked wonders. Now, traditionally speaking, there’s probably not quite enough contrast between the base and the model, but we’re not letting that bother us!

Finally, I’m using this model to claim a square in the hobby bingo: paint a unit and add scenic bases. I’m perhaps cheating a bit, but a single Sentinel can be a unit so I’m counting it. It’s pretty clear now that I wont be getting a single bingo this year. Looking at the grid now, I think I could’ve claimed at least a couple more squares with the models I’ve done so far, but even with those, no bingo. That’s okay though, the card has been a fun additional motivator and I’m sure to try again next year!

Where It All Started: Deathskulls

This post would’ve been more appropriate last month, but with all the other stuff going on, and me actually having newly finished models to show off, it got pushed back. But no matter, it’s always a good time for da Orks!

After I’d amassed quite a lot of Space Marines, I wanted to start collecting another WH40k army (oh the days of very little pocket money.. No hobby butterflying or hoarding plastic back then!). I decided to go for the Orks, as they seemed like a good opportunity for both conversion work and painting. There was also 16 Boyz to a box back then, a lot more than Marines, so more bang for the buck!

As for the paint scheme, after perusing the Ork Codex (3rd ed.) I settled on Deathskulls, as I liked the idea of looters, and I already had blue paint from painting the Ultramarines 🙂 Originally I decided to go for a really simple scheme – just green skin, metal and all black clothes, plus a couple of details like teeth, eyes and pearcings. However, after I’d painted some models, The all black clothing started to look too much like it was unfinished, or even unpainted, and I started to sneak in some brown straps or camo pants/vests. These models instantly looked better, but as I didn’t really want to go back and change finished models, I didn’t go full Blood Axes on the wardrobe.

As you might have noticed, the big thing in painting these was drybrushing. I can’t remember from where I learned about it, but as is evident, it was the best thing ever and I used it for everything. Still no washes or highlights, or proper bases (though look at that modern, not Goblin Green color!), but looking at them now, I think they’re not half-bad.

Like my Ultramarines, this army is mostly a collection of models that I could get my hands on, rather than a though out competitive (or thematic) list. That being said, if you don’t count the horrible Gorkamorka vehicles, all the models look cohesive, and pretty much what you could buy today.

Speaking of vehicles, Orks used to have all sorts of upgrades (I don’t know the situation today) which I tried to model on my Trukk and Trakk. The Trakk’s “extra armor” was made from bits taken from a scale model helicopter. The Trukk has a custom built big shoota in the back, which could be used if there was any Boyz on board. They both got some red paint slapped on them, as a “red paint job” gave you an extra inch of movement. Hopefully the rules are a bit more hobby-friendly nowadays, as the red paint didn’t really go well with my overall blue scheme.

Up and below are close-ups of some of my favorite models from the army. All except one have some sort of conversion work done on them. I liked converting models with looted gear, even if they didn’t have any in-game effect. Case in point, a SM power fist withoug power works fine as a choppa for an Ork.

I still love Orks, both the models and from the lore POV. I don’t have any plans to start collecting a big army of them again, but every now and then I’ve been thinking about a Gorkamorka inspired biker gang with a support Trukk. Maybe I already have the first models done?

WIP: Imperial Skaven Sentinel

After finishing the Orks in my last post I’ve been building stuff for a change. The biggest and most involved piece has been a Sentinel to accompany my space rats!

I’ve always loved the look of Sentinels, but this was the first time that I’ve actually bought and build one. I’d heard about the great posability of the model, and the kit did not disappoint! To showcase the posability, I decided to model the Sentinel descending a ruined factory floor. The right leg is at its shortest, while the left is extended as far as it goes. A “flex” pose if you will. I also cut off and reposed a couple of the toes to better conform the feet to the base. The cockpit was angled down a bit to further enhance the descending motion.

To integrate the Sentinel to my Skaven, I obviously had to convert the pilot into something more appropriate. I cut off the pilot’s torso and replaced it with one of the unused Plague Monk torsos from making the regular infantry (oh yes, a use for them!). This had two benefits: I got the hunched pose that would’ve been lacking with the human torso, and the head fit with without any modifications (I did greenstuff the neck joint a bit after taking the photo). The arms slotted right in like they were made for it, however I did remove the small screen from the other steering stick. I was a bit worried if the Skaven head was going to fit under the cage, but luckily I had zero problems. The pilot fits in with good clearance around him. If I have one regret it’s that I used the original pilot legs for this model, as you can’t really see them at all when the chassis is assembled. If I’d do this again, I’d just put a blob of greenstuff or some other spacer under the torso, and save myself a pilot for some other projects..

Building the base was fun, though I hope it won’t be too far from the infantry bases, aesthetically/thematically speaking. Unpainted it doesn’t look too industrial, but I’m hoping that paint will fix it. Oh yeah, and just before priming the model, I added a giant rat from the Plague Monk sprue to the base!

Ork Boyz

Just before Orktober turns to November, I’ve managed to complete the Herculean task of.. Painting two Slugga Boyz. Well, progress is progress, and at least I get to submit a token entry for Azazel’s monthly challenge.

This month the challenge was two-fold: Orks or neglected models. These models qualify for both, as they started their lives quite a while ago. I actually built the models and started painting them around 15 years ago, but as my interest in miniatures was waning at the time they were left unfinished. This was a shame as I thought that these were some of my favorite conversions I had done (especially proud of the helmeted head with an open mouth). Well, last Orktober I set out to paint them. I stripped the old paint off, based and primed them, and started with the painting. I quickly got distracted by another project, however, and despite thinking that I’d go back and finish the Boyz pretty soon, here we are a year later 😀

I used the same main scheme that I used on the Ironskull’s Boyz. I think that greenskins look pretty good in orange, and haven’t seen too many examples by other painters. Maybe it’s because orange is a bit of a pain to paint.. If I’d ever end up building a whole army of Orks, I’d probably not go for orange, but for a couple models it’s alright. I did try to speed up my painting a bit, as if to practice painting a bigger group, but also because I was a bit strapped for time this month. All in all, these two guys didn’t take super long to complete by my standards, and were fun to paint. I still have one Boy primed, and a couple on sprue, so sooner or later I’ll return to the orange Waaagh! (working title). Probably in Orktober 2020 🙂

Oh yeah, I tried removing the background completely from the photos, to get a true white background. How do you like it?

From the Archives: Grot; A Married Man

To top off Orktober 2018, I painted an old metal Grot from my teenage years.

While I couldn’t quite get the Uruk-hai Warrior painted up in a day, this one I did! It’s the first and so far the only model that I’ve managed to paint in a day (not counting some models in my teens), which makes him quite special.

When painting the Grot, I had two main goals: to practice painting pale Ork skin, and to not use any washes on the metals. As the model is mostly naked, there was plenty of space to practice painting skin. I think I managed pretty well, and painting just one tiny model I had the patience to mix the skin tones and thin them down more than usual to get some nice layering/blending going. Not using washes on the metal was both an attempt to preserve the shine of the metallic paints and to try an old school method of painting metals: starting with a Tin Bitz equivalent and drybrushing silver colors on top. It works fine, but is a bit messy if you’re going for a more refined look.

This was a fun little project and great practice for when I eventually treat myself to Zarbag’s Gits. And I got to say that the sculpt was pretty fantastic: really crisp detail and next to no clean-up needed. I can definitely see why folks look back at metal minis with misty eyes..

But enough about the Grot, and on to the other news. I’m now a married man! I and my fiancé/wife got married during this last weekend, and everything went even better than I could’ve anticipated. Didn’t forget my lines in the church, and the reception afterwards was brilliant. Delicious food and drink, our families and friends, dancing, and the photography left to a professional. A wonderful weekend, and of course the best thing is that I got a wonderful wife out of it!

As you might have noticed, my hobbying and blogging has slowed down quite a bit during September, which was of course due to the wedding planning and preparations. I hope to get back up to speed soonish, though I know that our honeymoon will eat a week of painting time this month. Not the least bit sorry about that though 😀 Hopefully I’ll get the Cursebreakers done this week, and an Ork or two before the month’s over.

More Imperial Skaven

Alright, so August was pretty abysmal in terms of painting, but at least I got these two ratmen finished. Still, progress is progress is progress.

I got most of the paint work done during this past weekend, when I got to spent a night on each model. In a couple of hours, I was able to get them from “basecoated & washed” to basically finished. Sometimes it’s nice to just concentrate on one (small) figure at a time: seeing the progress and getting it done quickly is so satisfying.

While painting the robes I learned that you can actually over-thin your paint when doing the toothbrush flicking technique. Because of that, there’s less spattering than on the previous Skaven models, but I think they should fit in quite nicely anyway. I also tried painting the cloth on the rat with the autogun slightly darker than on the sniper, but the effect ended up being too subtle after the washes and the drybrushing. Will have to try other colors next time.

I wanted to try and paint some sort of camo cloth on to the sniper, and as I have gone for industrial basing, urban camo seemed appropriate. I think it came out pretty nicely for a first try, though the wash and the highlights might have blended the colors together a bit too much. What do you think? I also tried to do some intricate freehand work on top of some decals, and have hopefully pulled it off without making a huge mess.

These two models are my submission for Azazel’s Awesome August. I hope that I’m within the challenge parameters – they are a bit on the small and puny side, but are definitely converted models, and a lot of effort went into the painting. Plus they’re sci-fi Skaven, that’s awesome in my book. And hey, with this submission I’ve participated in Azazel’s monthly challenges for 12 months straight! My first, pre-blog entry was for Neglected Model September ’18. A big thank you to Azazel for all the hobby motivation!

WIP: Skaven and Scouts

Okay, definitely too long since last update, and not much to show for it.. But here goes anyway – I’ve built a couple more 40k Skaven, and also begun working on a SM Scout Squad.

First the Skaven. I’ve built a sneaky sniper and another riflerat, though with a small conversion this time. To reflect the idea that these guys are using any old hardware that can be mustered, I wanted some autoguns in their hands. I converted one from a Cadian lasgun by changing the magazine to one from a bolter, and took a barrel from an old Catachan lasgun.

The sniper was a bit more involved conversion. I wanted to use a Skitarii rifle, and with it would come the hands and arms as well. I did want to retain the Cadian shoulder pads though, so I needed to do some cutting. It didn’t go quite as nicely as I’d envisioned, and before greenstuffing I was a bit unsure if I had botched the arms. After the sculpting I reckon he looks good, no need for a redo. Which is good as all the Skitarii rifles are unique, so I couldn’t get the same pose again.

I originally thought that the sniper wouldn’t be carrying a lot of equipment on him, “traveling light” instead. But he seemed to need something on his back to balance the rifle on the front. Happily I recently received my small order from Kromlech (more on this later), and they had put in two freebie backpacks as well. I felt the other one was perfect for the sniper, and it even fit without any cutting.

Then on to the Scouts. I’ve actually had the Scout kit and the Scion heads to go with it for a long time, but before I got to building them, I saw West_minis’ brilliant Crimson Fists Scouts, that used Scion backpacks as well as the heads. Naturally I had to put the project on hold until I could get my hands on the rest of the Scions kit. This happened last week, and I set to work. The shotgunners were pretty straightforward, requiring only cutting down their back humps and a bit of greenstuff on their necks. Though I got to say that the arms were a right pain to get aligned. Still not sure if they’re how they’re supposed to.. I’m pretty sure I won’t be building another Scout squad after this (other than the Sniper squad I’ve got in my pile of shame..).

The sergeant on the other hand required more cutting and fixing, as I once again wanted to retain the original shoulderpads. With a bit of creative cutting and some putty, the Scion bolt pistol and power fist arms fit the Scout model pretty great! He’s also got a regular Space Marine head from the mkIV kit. It took some effort to attach, as I didn’t have a correct drill bit, but I got there in the end. I also cut off the service stud from his forehead.

I’ll have to get on painting these models as soon as possible, as I’ve got to get something done for Azazel’s August challenge. I’ve got three weeks though, minus the weekends, so I should be okay. Even if I don’t get all of them painted, I should be able to do at least a couple.

Imperial Skaven

Okay, back to miniatures! I’ve finished the Imperial Skaven that I built back in March. As I’ve discussed the modelling in the previous post, this one is dedicated to the painting and my thoughts on how these vermin fit the 40k universe.

Painting the Skaven was a lot of fun, and I tried to keep it “fast and loose” (with varying success..). I decided to go with the vanilla Cadian scheme, but make the clothes really dirty and the equipment scratched and worn. I started with the beige cloth, borrowing the idea from Jeff Vader’s brilliant Nighthaunt. The dirt was spattered on with a toothbrush, and afterwards the cloth was drybrushed and washed to give highlights/shadows, and also to further the weathered look.

As I’m doing this project as a sort of a Kill Team, I wanted to further differentiate the models, so identifying them would be easier. I decided to do this by painting the hoods in different colors. I reckoned yellow would suit the leader, and red would fit the flamer. As the plain colors looked a bit boring, I thought I’d do some simple freehand designs on them. Worked nicely enough, even if they’re a bit Orkish.. Good practice for the eventual Underworlds Gobbos!

I used a number of decals on these models, and it was great to see that they worked as they should, considering they were something like 10-20 years old (the “31” on one of the bases comes from a Dark Angels sheet in the Warriors of the Imperium box!). As you might have noticed, there are a couple of different designs on the shoulder pads. I’m not too familiar with the Imperial Guard identification conventions, and went mostly with what looks good to me. I also scribbled some “graffiti” on the models, to hint that the equipment might not be meant exactly new, or suitable for combat..

So what about the “lore”? These days, as far as I know, the Imperium considers nearly all abhumans as abomination to be shot on sight. Nothing wrong with that (narratively speaking), but this was too good a modelling opportunity to pass up. Back in the third edition days, there were mentions about various abhumans serving in the Guard, and I thought that even with the contemporary Imperial policies, there would be some backwater planets out there that would find it necessary to recruit outside the “pure” human genepool. Not many men would willingly fight with the filthy vermin, but they could be given any old equipment that happened to be in the storage and made surprisingly effective fighters, especially in confined spaces.

I enjoyed this little project very much, and have plans for many more figures. I’ve already ordered a couple of bits for the next models, but we’ll see when I get my hands on those. Anyway, my next task will be to delve back into the Underworlds, and to finally start the Nighvault models that have been sitting on my desk for almost a month!