Look at me, I'm bionic!

The painting bug continues gnawing on my brain, so I've been painting and painting these last several days. The result is some very solid progress on the final member of the Command Squad, the bionic bodyguard.

Here's where he's at right now:

The head is pretty much done, though I'm not so sure about that bionic eye. It's miniscule on the model, so I'm not sure there's much else I can do with it. I'm not sure if I should dot his other eye or not. I really should, but I fear I'll screw up the whole eye if I do. At arm's distance it looks ok, but in pictures the missing pupil is pretty glaring.

As for his body, he's got a Mk5 torso, bionic chainsword arm from the Commander kit, a stormbolter and arm from the Sternguard kit, one pad from the Command Squad box, and one from Sternguard, and those bionic legs. They're from Kromlech. I'll do a review of them in the future.

His pose is a little off. I'd intended it to be a walking forward type of pose with him having his arms out in a "give me your best shot!" gesture. I think I missed on it a little, and I think the reason is because I didn't roll his shoulders back. Instead of him having his shoulders back, baring his chest to the enemy, he's just walking forward with his weapons lowered. I really wish Marine torsos had ball joints on the shoulders.

I also applied a shading wash to my Vindicator but haven't cleaned it up yet. I've got the stormbolter hatch to add to it, which has been assembled and primed as long as the tank itself, I've just not touched it with paint. I also added a Razorback turret with heavy bolters to the painting queue, for use by the Command Squad and whomever they ride with.


Thrax Gaios, Command Squad Veteran

I've been on a bit of a painting tear over the holiday weekend. I managed to get time in on just about every day in the four-day weekend. As a result, I finished off the tank hunting veteran for my Command Squad, put a ton of paint on my Vindicator, and started working on the final member of the Command Squad.

Here is Thrax Gaios' back story:

Veteran Brother Thrax Gaios is the squad's demolitions expert. He carries a meltagun, his bolter, and a satchel of meltabombs and grenades. He can toss a krak grenade into the vision slit of a moving tank at a hundred meters. Where the other squad members wear armor featuring ornate designs and decoration to reflect their veteran status and membership in the Command Squad, Gaios wears bulky, reinforced armor with little adornment. Because his armor is so often dented and scraped when he stands in the blast wash of exploding enemy tanks and fortifications, he has opted to forego ostentation in favor of smooth lines and heavy plating.

And here are the pictures:

As you can see, he's pretty plain. I could probably drop him into a tactical squad and he'd blend right in. I had originally planned to put a brass etch aquila on his chest, but the damned things never lay flat and gluing them down is a major pain in the ass, as you either end up gluing it to your fingers or tools, or with a spread of lumpy superglue residue around the area. I tried briefly to add one freehand, but it looked terrible and I scrubbed it off. His Ultramarine symbol is also a tad crooked, though it doesn't look quite as severe in person. I might have to go back and redo that, if it starts to irk me.

Now that he's done, I've only got one squad member left. The Apothecary's bodyguard. He's largely bionic, so I used as many bionic bits as I could on the model. I forgot to take a picture of his body, but here is his head so far:

Pretty simple bionic head. The skin is done, but the metallics are not. The rest of him is made from GW parts with Kromlech legs. I'll get a shot up in the coming days.

While waiting for Dullcote to dry, I also started plugging along on my Vindicator. Here's a quick, largely uninteresting shot:

As of this morning, the blue is about 90% done. I decided to try a different technique for painting vehicles. Instead of painstakingly applying each layer, leaving careful shade lines as I go, I decided to paint each layer quickly and thoroughly, and then apply the shading with a wash of my darkest color. If it turns out right, it'll save me a TON of time when painting tanks and pods.

There is a bit of bad news to go along with all my painting progress. Yesterday afternoon, while scrubbing mold release off my Forgeworld Raven Guard Captain Korvydae model parts, I dropped one of the fuel lines for his jump pack down the sink drain. I soak my FW resin parts in Simple Green, which is a great degreaser and perfect for cleaning resin. Unfortunately, the dissolved mold release makes the parts VERY slippery. I thought to myself "I should probably close the drain plug for this." I decided that I was almost done, so didn't bother. Fate punished me by sending that little pipe part squirting out of my fingers and right down the drain. ARGH! If anyone knows where I can get another fuel line for that kit without buying the whole thing over again, or has an example of rebuilding the line from other parts, I'd appreciate it!

In general gaming news, it looks like GW is revamping the base sizes for models. 32mm bases are up for preorders, with all of the new Blood Angel reboxings and kits having new sizes. I do like the idea of added space for posing Marines, but not the idea of buying scads of new bases at fifty cents a pop. I'm not hurting for hobby funds, I just hate spending money on simple pieces. I'll wait to see what the reasoning behind the bases is before jumping in. The timing is fortunate for me though, as I'm just about to start assembling and posing Raven Guard models. Id 32mm is standard for Marine infantry, that gives my Scouts, Assault Marines, and Jump HQs a lot of space to work with. One of the basing ideas I had for them was a desert city ruin with small tumbles of bricks and broken walls, but that is largely lost on 25mm bases. 32mm would give me room to stack bricks, sculpt pavers, and add little windswept sand piles to the debris. I'd wanted to jump right in to the RG models, but new bases put a little delay in the process. I have plenty of Ultramarine tanks to paint while waiting though.


Marius Gracchus, Standard Bearer

The third member of my Ultramarine Command Squad is now complete. Yes, I've finally finished off the Standard Bearer, Marius Gracchus:

Here's his backstory:
Standard Bearer Marius Gracchus, "The Youngling." Marius is one of the youngest Marines ever selected to bear a company standard. His youthful features and penchant for humor hide a warrior who is capable with a chainblade and a masterful shot with a pistol.

Overall I'm pretty happy with how he turned out. The only disappointment is with the banner pole and the back of the banner itself. I had drilled a paperclip into the mounting point of the pole so I could hold the banner during painting. It worked, but when I was removing it last night, I tried to file away the excess paint. That went ok, but when I finished, I blew on the area to get rid of the little grains of paint and plastic. My hand took that moment to lose strength (hooray for carpal tunnel syndrome) and I dropped the banner on the floor. The top ornament broke off, and the paint was a little scuffed near the folds of the cloth. Then, when I was trying to apply liquid plastic cement to the area and affix it to the pole, I dropped it again with glue in the channel. That picked up some dust, so I had to fiddle with it again. The cement refused to hold, so I had to settle for super glue. After I got a scare when a drop of superglue rolled out of the tube and just missed the edge of the banner (landing instead on my pant leg), I got it held in place and decided to take the rest of the night off. I know by now that when my hands get weak like that, I need to stop.

Now that Marius is complete, I can turn my attention to the Demolitionist/Tank Hunter I'd shown earlier. I've only got a quick coat of blue on him right now, so nothing special to share in that regard. He'll be a pretty simple job once I'm not bouncing back and forth between the banner and the Tank Hunter, and picking away at my Vindicator (remember that project?). I realized just a moment ago that I've been screwing around with this Command Squad since April or thereabouts. Seven months for three models thus far, with a little work on a drop pod and a Vindicator snuck in there. Yikes.

Once I get beyond these Ultramarines, I can start thinking harder about my Raven Guard. I'm still hemming and hawing over what wargear to give the Captain, or whether I want a Captain at all. Maybe a Telepathy Librarian would be more interesting. Then there are Scouts, Vanguard Vets, and Assault Marines to think about. I'm burying myself under a mountain of planning again. Add onto that the thought that maybe the Command Squad would like to have a new HQ model to lead them, and I'm swamped with ideas, but not with spare time.

I bit the bullet and ordered three new brushes, Raphael 8404s. Two size 0s and a size 2. I previously used inexpensive Loew Cornell red sable brushes from AC Moore. They were about $4 each, and held up pretty well. But neither AC Moore nor Michael's carries the line anymore. They seem to have shifted heavily towards synthetic brushes, which I just can't use anymore. With my old brush line extinct, and being on my last brush of the type, I had to get new ones. I bought them via Amazon, directly from the distributor. Delivery estimate is 4-6 weeks. OUCH. Thankfully, my last remaining brush should hold up that long. I'm hoping these new brushes are worth the money.


More Progress on the Banner

I put some more time into the banner for my Command Squad. This is what it looks like now:

I added some shading to the scroll, and knocked off all of the dark edge lines I'd had on it before. I then added the red starburst, and some small highlights on each point. However, I need to go back and clean those lighter areas up some. Some are a little blobby. I added black line text to the purity seals and the bottom right design, and put a campaign badge on the bottom center...thing. I'm not a huge fan of the badge though, and it may end up being removed. It's off center and pretty plain.
I also added the ivy/laurel branches. I started by sketching the branches out with a sharp pencil, then went over them with dark green. After that was dry, I added the leaves in the same dark green, let them dry, and then applied a thin lighter green on top. Unfortunately, by that point I was getting a little tired and slipped in some places and was messy in others. I added small lines of dark green to the leaf centers and called it a night. I need to go back and tidy up the leaves.

Once the leaves are done and I've decided on what to do with the center bottom design (it's bugging me that I don't know the term for those little things on the bottom of the standard, I'll have to Google after this), I'll finish the back in an ivory or linen color. I think it'll look nice that way and break up the sea of blue. I'm about halfway done that process, but it's pretty boring so I didn't take a picture.

I'll be happy to have this model finished, but I do have to say that I really enjoy painting the freehand on the banner. I've always been a glutton for punishment.

As soon as this is done, I can move on to the tank hunter veteran. He'll be an easy one, and then I'll get my bionic veteran up and going. Again, an easier paint job (aside from his head/face) but I'll also have a review of the Kromlech legs I ended up buying for him.


Nearly Done: Standard Bearer

Here is some more progress on my Standard Bearer.

The Marine himself is pretty much done, with only some static grass needed around the edges of the rock he's standing upon. That rock was actually a major pain in the ass to base around. Normally, I put small strips of plasticard under my Marines' feet. This raises them up a tiny bit so they don't appear to be sinking into the ground. It also allows me to put sand all the way under their feet, so I don't end up with gaps around the feet when I glue the model to the base. The problem with the rock was that I wanted it to look like it was sticking up out of the sand, not sitting on top of it. I skipped putting card under it, while still putting card under the other foot. I'd hoped it would allow the rock to be sunk down while the other foot was not. All I ended up with were the gaps. It's simple enough to obscure them with static grass, but I need to be careful not to apply too much and make it look like a fuzzy ring around the rock.

Here is the current state of the banner itself:

It's pretty plain. Originally, I'd had grand plans for it, with a huge laurel wreath surrounding an Imperial aquila clutching the Ultramarines symbol in its talons, with the scroll at the bottom. I sketched it out on paper and searched Google for art I could use as a model to construct the whole thing. I was then going to print it out to scale and use the pencil-rub/carbon paper technique to transfer it to the banner. Then it would be a simple matter of painting it. Problem is, I no longer have access to Photoshop and GIMP flat out sucks for working with images other than retouching and cropping things. Every time I tried to combine my images, one would end up pixelated beyond recognition, or the scales wouldn't match, etc.

I said "screw it" and sketched a new design on the banner with a soft, sharp pencil. I had wanted to sketch my original design on there, but the curves of the piece make intricate lines tough. I ended up just going with the simple design you see above. That grey smear in the middle will be a red starburst that I need to re-draw and re-center. The red starburst is an old-school Space Marine symbol. It's supposed to be used for veteran sergeants, but I've co-opted it as a more generic symbol.
I still need to go back in and add some shading to the scroll and the symbol. Probably just a thin layer of a darker color for each one, and I should probably ding up the edges of the scroll with tears and dog ears. You don't typically see perfect, pristine scrolls on 40K artwork.

I also need to add something to the area between the Chapter symbol and the scroll, especially to the right and left edges. I'm not sure what to add though. A fancy, squiggly design? A couple crux terminatus symbols? Very small laurels?

There's no way I'm adding anything above the Chapter symbol unless I get VERY brave and ambitious. Those folds are a nightmare to draw on. If I were to add anything up there, it would likely be a row of checkered boxes, a Greek key design, or a small aquila.

We've also got the monthly tourney at the FLGS tomorrow. As of right this moment, I'm planning on going. I just have no idea what I'll bring for an army. I've not played at the FLGS in months now, so I have no real idea of what the meta is anymore. From what I've seen on Facebook and blog posts, there are plenty of Knights showing up in Imperial forces. Still a good number of power armored players, and plenty of monstrous creatures in non-Imperial armies. I guess it doesn't really matter, as honestly I've not upgraded my army to a 7th Edition style. There isn't a single grav weapon on any model in my collection yet. The last time I had plans to upgrade my bikes, it was to add Scout Bikers and a Command Squad with power lances. That should tell you how far behind the times my army is now.


Command Squad Progress: the Tank Killer

In the last week or so, I've made some very solid progress on my Command Squad. Painting for the Standard Bearer is done except for his base, I've picked some parts for the bionic Veteran, and I fully built the tank-killing Veteran. Here are some shots of him:

This is the initial body construction, showing the FW torso defects I repaired and some studs I added to his knee pads.

And then his final state, with a head picked out and pads on.

The studs are micro beads, set into small drill holes and glued in place. You can see the tutorial I got the idea from over at Drowned in Plastic. While you're there, check out his Helbrecht build. It's AMAZING.
I held off on a full spread of studs, because I wasn't sure how well they'd come out. A couple added to break up the smooth lines just a bit felt like enough.

The general design behind him is that he wears plated Mk4 armor and a left-leading pad with an extended edge to protect him from the shrapnel and blast from tanks and bunkers he's destroyed with that meltagun and meltabombs (the meltabombs are behind his left hip, not visible in the images). He's got improved targeters in his helm for finding and tracking weak points in vehicle armor, including an upgraded thermal imaging suite for finding exhaust ports and venting seams in xenos and Imperial STC vehicle patterns.

I didn't elect to use another tabarded set of legs for this Marine, as I figured he'd either have no use for one as decoration or that it would be burned up pretty quickly as he stands in the blast wash from exploding tanks. It might bust up the cohesion of the squad some, but probably not a lot as the Apothecary and the bionic Veteran also do not have tabards (though the bionic one is still up in the air, with a post on him and his legs coming later this week).

It's exciting to be nearly done with the Command Squad as a whole. Once the Standard Bearer is done, I'll be over halfway finished, with only two guys left. Both are simpler paint jobs than the Standard Bearer or the Apothecary. The tank hunter will go pretty quickly, being all blue and gold and the bionic Marine will as well, since I don't forsee using any white or fancy sections on him.
Once the squad members are done I have to decide if I'll build them a custom Razorback, or just paint up a turret to put on top of one of my Rhinos. Right now, all of my Razorback turrets are assault cannons or las/plas.

Thankfully, I've finished most of my home improvement projects that were eating up my evenings and the summer heat has gone, leaving me time and motivation to paint again.


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?