The Great Devourer Stirs...

As you all know, I've hemmed and hawed over improving my painting level in the last several months. I've considered refining the techniques I use on my Ultramarines, looked at expanding the use of my airbrush, and even considered changing Chapters. All of those are interesting options, but I've hidden behind the "I don't have TIME!" excuse so far.
The other day I was doing more brainstorming after thinking it might be neat to do  a Hive Fleet Behemoth army, so I'd have both sides of the Battle for Macragge. The problem there is that I hate the color scheme of Behemoth. It's overly cartoonish, and I've not really seen any nicely painted examples. Plenty of spray-n-dip paint jobs, though.
During my Google ramblings, I stumbled across this link. It's a review of the Forgeworld Masterclass for a Hive Tyrant. Apparently, Forgeworld does or did run day-long classes for locals who want to learn and use new techniques. Wish I lived in Nottingham, UK!
I was inspired by the review, and decided I had to do a more "realistic" job on my potential Nids. I started searching for cool looking real world bugs to emulate. I found lots of shiny beetles and striped wasps that were interesting, but most everyone does Tyranids in flashy colors.
While walking on the beach a while ago, I noticed the standard carpet of dead crab bodies amongst the seaweed. Then it hit me...Tyranids aren't like bugs, they're like crustaceans! Crabs are scavengers, carrion eaters, and beach cleaners. The scour the beach of biomass!
I started looking at possible colorations of different real world crab species. There are all kinds of neat ones out there, but I settled on one that's common here in Maine: the European Green Crab. It's an invasive species that's currently destroying several Maine fisheries and coastal habitats. Little green Tyranids!
Here are some shots of real Green Crabs (via Google):

Lots of great possibilities for Tyranid models there.
So, I've decided to start working on some Nids, and I'll call them Hive Fleet Karkinos. Karkinos is the mythical crab represented by the constellation Cancer. He annoyed Hercules during his fight with the Lernaean Hydra. I'm sure someone else out there has used the name, but nothing inspired by mythology is unique anymore ;).

It's important to note that this won't be a "second army" for quite a while. I'm going to put out models only after testing a ton of techniques, and building each model very carefully. I'm thinking that these guys will be my painting competition models. Something I can carefully repose, sculpt, and modify before applying a great paint job.
To that end, I have several things on my new to-do list:
  • Lay hands on some Tyranid carapace bits to practice on. I'm thinking Carnifex back plates or Warrior extended carapace parts. Something cheap and easy to get.
  • Look into artist inks. I'm thinking that overlays of inks over light paint applied on white primer might get the effect I want. GW washes might work as well.
  • Decide if I want the "wet look" or not. Should parts of the models be slick and glossy, or all flat?
  • Research tutorials on making drool effects. Nothing scarier than a big monster with acid drool, right? I remember seeing one done with fly fishing line.
  • Plan a 500-1000 point army list. This is a low priority, really. This project is more about awesome models, and less about winning army lists. But I should have something playable at the very least.
  • Decide if I want to use all new,plastic/Finecast kits, or if I want to venture backward into Second Edition metals. I'm leaning very heavily to plastics, as the old edition metals will probably not be able to hold up the paint jobs like the fine detail of new kits. 2E Nids are charming, but very soft and very round.
  • Stay calm and remember that this is a side project. I am still working diligently on my Ultramarines, but they are the "simple, clean, easy" army. These Tyranids are a high-level project I should be in no rush to complete.
What do you all think?


  1. I find it humorous that you're doing the Tyranids as a high-end paint job, whereas I use my Ultras as a high-end sort of thing and the Tyranids are dipped just to get them on the table.

    As for schemes, I really love it when people paint their bugs like insects/crabs. Those are hands down, the most beautiful way to go. I'm particular fond of the bright patterns from poisonous spiders...

    1. Thanks.
      I have always been impressed with folks who paint "natural" schemes on their Tyranids as well. It always looks better and harder to pull off.

  2. For slime, this is a site I have found useful and have had some good results with. It took a lot of tinkering to get it to work with red washes but after a while it worked well. Plus, unlike hot glue or clear caulking it dries hard but flexible so a bump won't shatter it.


    As far as the other things-
    I say no wet look. There is no insect or crab that is naturally wet looking. Some are glossy, but normally this is toned down as most carapaces in reality are covered by thousands of micro mono-filament sensory organs (not nerves...sorta like them though) as exo-skeletons do not have nerve endings throughout most of them.

    I agree that new plastic kits are best. Not only is the detail better, but the surfaces are larger. If this is for painting, the larger areas and models will a) lend themselves to showing your painting and painting expertise better and b) be MUCH MORE visually impressive.

    For the washing, I would say that can actually be practiced on a space piece of plasticard. Do a strip and have a base color paint and gradually apply more towards one end and less towards another marking it 1 coat, 2 coats, 3 coats at various intervals. Keep it handy during painting so you not only go into the models knowing HOW it's going to turn out, but you are confident you can duplicate the results exactly every time.

    I would say, for a project like this, for 500-1000 I would lean towards monsters, and maybe pods. A good pod to get is at puppetwar.eu. The infestation pods are pricey, but after searching they are the best around from what I can see. I ordered some shoulder pads and will show you the quality when I get them.


    Well, that's my two cents.

    1. That first link is a very impressive process. I might have to try that out!
      I'm leaning towards monsters as well, though I do plan to do end up with a lot of Genestealers and Hormagaunts as Troops, and Raveners as Fast Attack. Warriors as well.
      I was bored the other night, and did a cost-per-point analysis of the Nid kits. Genestealers came out cheapest at about 27 cents per point. I didn't factor in upgrades, just base cost per model.
      Thanks for the feedback, man. I'm looking forward to working on this soon!