9.24.2014

Thinking About Black Armor

As I inch closer to completion of my Ultramarines Command Squad, I'm turning my mind towards a plan for painting Raven Guard.

I have been thinking about the paints I'll use for their black armor. There are a lot of tutorials and how-to's online about how to paint black, each uses a different variation on the theme. Some rely purely on a black paint with grey or blue highlights. Some use grey shaded with black, and some even attempt an NMM (non-metallic metals for those who don't know) effect.

I've only painted black armor twice before, both times for Ultramarines Chaplains. For those models, I used a deep, dark grey from Reaper call "Grey Liner." Basically, it's a paint designed for darklining fantasy miniatures. Darklining is where you paint a thin line of a darker shade between two separate pieces of a model, like a flesh-colored arm and a tunic sleeve, or an armor plate and a leather strap or belt. I think this is an outdated technique that most folks don't use anymore, having been supplanted by washes, but I could be wrong.

Anyhow, this paint is a very dark grey. For my Chaplains, I primed black, applied Grey Liner to all the armor, and then edge highlighted with lighter greys. Here is what it looked like on my counts-as Chaplain Cassius (try to ignore the horrible posing of the model):
 
 
Here's another shot with less colors, so you can compare it to the basic black of primer:

 
One thing to note is that I painted this Chaplain back before I started using Badab Black as a wash. In those times, I used thinned black paint to wash my metals and such. I can't remember if I added a black wash to his armor, but I doubt it.

I think this paint scheme will work for Raven Guard. However, my Raven Guard will be very plain in the armor department. I'm planning to select a lot of models and parts that don't have a ton of dangly decorations and fancy parts. I just don't see Raven Guard, the sneakiest of sneaky, carrying around all that junk on their armor. The clink of a decorative chain can give you away, and too much carved decoration on armor makes it harder to slip through small areas. The issue facing plainer armor using my Grey Liner method is that the models might be too plain on the table, looking like unpainted, primer-only models. My hope is that the edge highlights, small metal or colored details, and deeper black of a Badab Black/Nuln Oil wash in the recesses will help them stand out enough to look properly painted.

One additional idea I'm thinking about is switching over to GW paints for Raven Guard. The only problem is, I have no idea if they have an appropriately dark grey to replace the Grey Liner. I know I'll be using Leadbelcher and Ironbreaker for metal parts, plus Nuln Oil as a wash. While I do want the models to be muted and dark, I don't want them to be boring. The solution to boring black armored models is to add small splashes of color here and there. Grenades, pouches, and especially bolter casings. The bolter casings for my Ultramarines are black. Black casings over black armor will be too monochrome, so I'm thinking of using a very dark tone washed with Nuln Oil for the casings instead. I had my eye on Incubi Darkness for a greenish blue undertone, but I have no idea what the paint looks like in person. The other option is Caliban Green. Does anyone use these colors and able to tell me how they'd look slathered in Nuln Oil?


9.22.2014

Standard Bearer Progress

This weekend allowed me a few good hours of painting, which I used to work on my Standard Bearer for my Command Squad. This is what he's looking like as of today:


I still have all the red to do (eyes, purity seals, tabard) as well as the linen of the seals and the freehand on his armor and shoulder pads. After that is the standard itself. I have it primed and mounted, but haven't touched it with paint yet.

I tried a slightly different approach with the gold this time around. I started with my standard brown, then gold, then wash with Gryphonne Sepia. But instead of going back to my base gold, I skipped right to Reaper MSP New Gold, which used to be my first highlight color. I like the brightness of it, so I'll be sticking with that from now on.

The next veteran in line is the demolition specialist, who'll end up with meltabombs and a meltagun, plus a bolter. I successfully repaired his armor collar (from the FW Mk4 power weapons kit; it was miscast too thin), and added some rivets to his armor using microbeads. I'll get a picture as soon as I can (hopefully tonight). Thus far, I've only stuck the torso on the legs and let it sit to dry. I sometimes rush assembly stages, and end up knocking parts out of alignment slightly while glue dries or cures.

9.09.2014

Metals and Music


I found the time to do a little painting last night. I got the midtone coat finished on my Standard Bearer, but decided not to press on to the top coat as it was getting late. Instead, I brought out the dozer blade for my Forgeworld Vindicator. I've got all the blue done on that already, but needed to start on the metallics.
I was too lazy to take a rather boring shot of a blank dozer blade, but essentially I'm painting the bottom teeth of the blade and the surrounding plate, as well as the side plates silver metallic, while the blade face is my standard Ultramarine blue.
Back when I was working on my drop pod, I'd had a really tough time on the metallic sections of the model. My Reaper Master Series metallic paints just didn't cover very well. I was getting brush strokes, pigment separation, and not enough paint in various areas. I muddled through, but decided MSP silver metallics weren't going to work for large areas anymore. It had been suggested that I try out the GW/Citadel line of metallics, so I grabbed a pot of Leadbelcher and a pot of Ironbreaker a couple months ago.
I broke open the pot of Leadbelcher and started working on the dozer blade. I held my breath and started applying paint. SWEET MOSES! It was like a revelation. The paint went on in a single coat, and perfectly covered the primer. I didn't need more than a single pass on any of the primed areas. I did need a quick second touch on areas that I'd gotten blue paint into, but it wasn't the struggle I normally encounter with my MSP metallics.
I've always been a bit of a Reaper paint snob, but I have to say I'm sold on these Citadel metallics. I don't think I'll go back to Reaper metallics on anything larger than infantry weapons. My only concern with the Citadel paint is that pot design. I had to paint with the pot open on my desk, which made me think it would dry out over time since it's constantly exposed to open air. Has anyone noticed drying in the modern Citadel paints? 

I've been listening to some 40K music in an attempt to get myself re-motivated to paint. It's not that I don't want to paint, it's just that when I have free time at 8pm at night after a day of work and a few hours playing with my son, it's hard to park myself in the heat of my office (it's been an Indian summer here lately) and put brush to model. It's even tougher when I spend an hour or two a night working on home improvement stuff, like redoing windows in our living room.However, 40K related music seems to really help with getting the mental juices going. I've been spending a lot of time listening to the soundtrack to Space Marine. You can listen to the whole thing on YouTube if you don't want to buy it (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2v4kaE_XbR8). I recommend Titus' Theme, Battlements, Titan, and A Hero's Legacy, though there's no bad track in the whole thing. The tracks have a little ore meaning if you've played the hell out of the game like I have, as you can picture the scenes from which they are pulled. Also good is the Dawn of War 2 soundtrack (also available on YouTube), and the first track from the Ultramarines: The Movie soundtrack, "Steel and Doom." Yes, that one's also on YouTube. I can fire these up on my Kindle Fire and listen to them while I paint, or while I'm trapped in my cubicle at work.

8.29.2014

Expensive Conversions

This morning I've been scanning around the interwebs looking for examples of reposed Space Marines posted by players on various sites. This was prompted by my experience playing Space Marine on my Xbox the other night. I have been playing a lot of Exterminatus co-op lately, and during a pause between waves I happened to have my Marine standing on a rock. I panned the camera out and thought, "Wow, that would be a great pose for a model!"
My Marine had his arms by his side, with a combat blade in a reverse grip in one hand, and his bolt pistol in another. He was looking sidelong at the camera, with his rear leg up a little on the rock, while the front leg was extended to the ground. I wish I knew how to take screenshots on my 360 so I could analyze the pose.

Anyhow, I decided that it would be interesting to try reposing some legs and arms to make what will eventually become my Raven Guard Vanguard or Assault Marines. You know, once I finish my Ultramarine Command Squad, and the Vindicator, and the Raven Guard Shadow Captain...

In my searches, I saw some absolutely great work, and some complete butchery of parts. As part of those trends, I saw some nice things done to expensive models, and then some expensive models that were completely ruined. An entire squad of Forgeworld Mk4 Marines sliced up at the joints, and then glued back together with the gaps poorly filled with Greenstuff, or knee plates cut through and not replaced. It's not a new idea. I've seen examples online of people who buy a $400 Warhound Titan and then take a Dremel to it to give it "battle damage" or saw through joints to pose things awkwardly or with massive gaps.

Those are those peoples' models and they're free to do what they want with them. But the question popped into my head "What's the most expensive model someone risked a conversion on?".

Personally, I'm not a big risk taker with my expensive models. I'm not going to chop apart my Korvydae model to repose his legs. I've also avoided buying the Finecast Lord Executioner model and removing his arms and pads for fear of ruining a $23 model. I've done some small reposing on arms, but that's about it. The only major attempt I ever made at a leg chop/repose was for my old Master of the Forge. I'd originally intended to repose and build him some bionic legs. I started like this, but abandoned the idea when I laid hands on a set of the metal Iron Hands upgrade legs.
 


Even with the planned Raven Guard reposing, I'm thinking a lot about using salvaged/stripped parts to minimize the bitz cost. This might be a mistake, as a good model deserves new/fresh parts. Marine legs are one of the more expensive infantry bits you can buy, so I'm a little reluctant to invest in a ton of new legs for chopping up (though I actually already have plenty in my bitz boxes).
I've bought some expensive parts for kitbashes, but never for a full on chop-and-slice conversion.

What's the most expensive model you've ever sliced to pieces? Were you hesitant about it, or were you confident enough in your abilities to fix any mistakes?

 


8.20.2014

Checking In

It's been some time since my last posting, so I figured it was time to check in with an update and some random thoughts.

I took the last week off work (hooray for paid vacation days), but didn't paint a whole lot. I had a lot of home improvement projects to do (and still do, nothing takes the time you'll think it'll take). I only found a few spare moments here and there to pick away at things. I primed the Standard Bearer, but not his banner. It's separate from the pole for painting. I also finished painting blue on the siege shield of my Vindicator (also separate from the parent model for painting). No picture, as I figure no one really needs or wants to see a siege shield painted plain blue.

I can't decide if I should finish the rest of the dozer in metallic colors before masking off the angled stripe I plan to airbrush across the front, or if I should airbrush the stripe and then finish the metals. It probably doesn't make much difference, as the stripe won't cross the metal areas.

I've selected some preliminary parts for the fourth member of the squad, who is the anti-armor and demolitions expert. I chose one of the armored torsos from the Forgeworld Mk4 Power Weapons Set, basic legs (no need for a tabard under all that plating), and haven't picked a helmet yet. FW parts are always ever so slightly smaller than GW plastics, so some heads look odd on the torso I picked. I thought about the grilled helmet from the VenDread kit, but it looks hilarious when test fitted in place.
For armament, I'm torn. I'm trying to keep every member of the squad at no more than 15 points of upgrades. Command Squad members start with a bolt pistol and a boltgun. They can buy pretty much any of the upgrade options (ranged, melee, special) and various other items. Because this guy is a demo/tank expert, he'll get meltabombs alongside his grenades. The meltabombs from the kit I linked above are about half the size of regular GW plastic bombs, so they can be fitted to a Marine's belt, pack, or thigh plates.
The sticky part are his guns. All Marine Veterans get two base attacks in their profile. You can bump them to three if you trade the bolter for a melee weapon while retaining the pistol. But this Marine isn't a melee fighter, so he won't get a melee upgrade. My decision comes down to: meltagun and bolter, or combimelta and bolt pistol? Both the combimelta and the meltagun are the same points cost.
If I take a pistol and combi, I'll get only one shot with the melta but also have the bolter to fire the rest of the time, as well as a pistol shot before a charge. It's simple to model and a pretty standard choice. However, if I take the meltagun and bolter I can fire as many melta shots as I like, and still have the bolter when other things are out of range or are less than ideal targets (you don't shoot melta at Gaunts and Orks). I won' tneed the pistol before a charge, because a meltagun is Assault 1. Modeling the bolter and the meltagun in a somewhat realistic way will be tougher. I will have to sling one or the other weapon over his back or under his backpack, or try to clamp the bolter to his leg. Unfortunately, there are no smaller bolters in any kit, and slinging weapons has always been a modeling challenge.

The fifth member of the squad is one I've not assembled parts for, though I did pickup some parts I might use. I got a handful of what I'm told are old upgrade torsos for Fabius Bile enhanced Marines. They look suitably bionic/augmetic for my purposes of building a squad member who's almost entirely rebuilt with bionics because he takes a lot of bullets for the Apothecary. The general plan is to use the half-bionic sergeant head from one of the older Marine kits, one of those Bile torsos, and then either buy or build bionic arms and legs. GW makes the Iron hands upgrade kit (though its in Finecast now), and Kromlech also makes some interesting bionic legs but no arms. I haven't picked armament for him yet, but I'm leaning towards something cheap like a stormbolter and a chainsword, because he'll be taking Look Out Sir rolls for the Apothecary a lot.

After all of that, I'm still working and planning some Allied units. Raven Guard are still in the works, but I'm also looking sidelong at Grey Knights. I own a 5-man unit of the old metal Terminators, and a Captain Stern model who can be just about any of the HQ models in TDA. I'd originally wanted to add them to add some Sanctic and anti-Daemon ability into my force, but the new codex looks really interesting. Not over the top like its prior incarnation, and much more streamlined.
There's also the upcoming Officio Assassinorum dataslate to think about. The one thing I hated about prior incarnations of Assassins was that you had to spend points on an HQ and Troops to get access to one. I'm definitely going to look at the dataslate when it's available, as I've always wanted to put an Eversor or a Culexis on the table.


8.06.2014

Numerian Castor, Apothecary

My new Apothecary is completed! Meet Numerian Castor...
 



There are some small details I'm not a huge fan of, like the vials and the white dot on his main helmet optic. For the vials, I solved the color issue by simply drybrushing some white back over the colored 'fluid' in order to make it look like there was glass in front of it. Not perfect, but good enough. I messed up the location of the white dot in the main optic, and placed it a little too low and center. I might have to go back and touch that again with some red to shift it up and left where it's supposed to be.
 
I also noticed that I have a small grey dot on the back of his left foot, and that I forgot to clean up the painted-on sole texture. I also forgot to add the static grass to the base that will make the rock he's kneeling on look less like it's hovering over the sand.

Other than that, I think he came out well enough for a first try at all-white armor. As I'd mentioned before, I went about painting white in the most backwards way possible, with black primer, grey basecoat, and working upward. Should I ever do this again, it'll be white primer, grey wash, white touchups. I think I was afraid his blue, gold, and silver wouldn't match the rest of my army if I'd primed white. If I'm still afraid of that in the future I'll just paint the pad separate or touch the areas with black before painting them.

Here is Castor's bio from my initial writeup of the Command Squad:

Apothecary Numerian Castor is a patient, deliberate Marine. While not a coward by any means, he takes very few risks. He knows his mission is to safeguard the Marines with whom he serves, and when necessary, their geneseed.
I have already assembled the next model in the squad, the Standard Bearer.

 
Pretty standard fare (pun partially intended). There's not a ton you can do with the banner arm, other than rotate the location of the banner itself around the top of the banner pole. I thought about using a super fancy chain sword from the Sternguard or Vanguard kits, but decided to let him use a basic version. His armor is fancy enough to put him in Command Squad territory. Too much decoration and fancy weaponry puts him closer to Honor Guard territory.

I'm not sure how I'll paint that banner. I recently saw a neat tutorial on using custom transfers for banners over at B&C, but that seems like a LOT of setup and materials for one banner. I'll probably leave the banner itself for last, in order to give myself more brainstorming time.


7.21.2014

That was disappointing...

The monthly tournament at the FLGS didn't happen on Saturday. After a series of family-related delays, I called the shop and let them know I was running late. But when I arrived, not enough people were there to actually run a tournament. Bummer. I went home and dug holes for fence posts in the heat instead.

I was really looking forward to playing my bikes again, but no luck.

Attendance at FLGS monthlies has been very hit or miss for the year or so. Some months you'd see six, and others you'd see eight or ten. It's very disheartening as a player. My schedule just doesn't allow me to play on Wednesdays, and hasn't for a long time. I don't see that changing until this time next year. So, monthlies are my only chance to play, and they still require some serious effort and juggling to get to. Losing a day stinks!

I consoled myself with a little painting time on my Apothecary. Here's where he's at now:




I screwed up several different spots on him. The vials on his backpack, hip, and narthecium aren't very good. It's tough to make them look like they contain liquid. A few of the tutorials I saw recommended adding small bubbles, so that's that the dots are. They did not turn out well. I'm thinking of painting over them.
I need to retouch the metals around his helmet targeter and the bottom of his vials, but that will wait until after I paint his lights on the backpack and helmet.
There's no texture under the left foot, so I painted it in with black and dark silver. I've got to go back in and touch it up some to make cleaner lines. The button lights on his belt gear and backpack aren't done, nor are his eye lens or the green power cables in various spots.

I'm torn on his right shoulder pad. It's a Ravenwing part, and the detail is very thin/low. Once primed, it was very hard to see exactly where each raised piece of the wings was. Painting the prime helix red was a fight, because from one angle it looked straight and clean, but turn it a little and the edges were ragged. All the result of small raised detail edges. Eventually I stopped fighting it and called it good. From arm's distance he looks good enough. My painting skill has atrophied in the last several months.

I'm once again toying with bothering to play the game anymore. I get that way when I'm in a valley on my depression scale. It's why I'm so fleeting in my projects and enthusiasms for 40K.

I'm hoping to have this guy done by the end of the week, and move on to the Standard Bearer. He'll be a challenge to paint, as I've never done a very large piece of multicolored freehand. I'm sort of toying with using custom transfers instead of freehand, but we'll see.