Yeah, Purple!

I settled on purple as the color for the ribbed flesh on my Tyranids. Here's what the first pass looked like:

It's Reaper master series Indigo Sky, washed with Leviathan Purple, back to Indigo Sky, then Pale Indigo. it looks nice and rich, but didn't pop as much as I wanted it to. I needed more contrast, so I mixed the Indigo Sky with Ghost White at a 1:1 ratio. The result:

The shot is washed out by the light. For some reason, the large claws always get washed out, and the small ones don't. This is also after cleaning up the green, as I'd gotten brown and purple on small areas and had to fix things up. The talons are all now ready for Dullcote, but the head is waiting for the teeth to be painted. I'm going with a simple ivory there.

I also did some sculpting on the Tyrant's body. I was waffling on filling his back vents, and just decided to go for it:

Pretty simple process. Just push a wad of GS in the vent, and poke repeatedly at it with a skewer or round toothpick. Be sure to drag the edges of the GS upward against the plastic of the vents, or it won't look natural.
I also ripped of the hooves I'd sculpted onto the feet. They just didn't look right. I'm still not sure I like the new ones. I'll get a shot after they're done.


Purple, or Green?

At long last, the Tyrant's claws are largely finished. I spent the last couple sessions painting the blades, and last night I went back in with pure white and did some highlights, including adding some final streaks of pure white to the armor parts. This is what the talons look like now:

The last thing I need to do on these before moving to the main body is to decide what to do with the ribbed flesh areas on the arms and "hands." My original plan was to make those areas purple, along with tongues and tentacles. In addition, I was thinking of adding some purple spotting to the blades. But now I'm not so sure. I'm second guessing myself and thinking that maybe I'll make the ribbed areas a vibrant green using ink, and skipping the spotting on the blades. My thought now is that maybe purple would be one color too many in the palette.

Any suggestions?

I have to do something with those areas, as they blend in too much with the rest of the arms to leave plain.


Brainstorming: The Ugly Army Makeover Project

I used to be a big fan of buying Space Marines cheap on eBay, stripping their often terrible paint jobs, and repainting them as part of my growing army. In fact, a good majority of my models were acquired and completed this way. For example, these pictures show before and after for some of my bikers:

Simple Green and Easy Off Oven Cleaner were my tools of the trade, with acetone joining in later. The sink in the guest bathroom/laundry room was often licorice scented (from Simple Green) and paint-spattered. These days, however, I'm a total model snob. I have amassed enough parts and kits that I've not built a totally refurbished model in quite a while.

Today I was brainstorming some fun ideas for the hobby, and wondered how interesting it would be to see a full army go from junk to jewel in a photo timeline. The loose plan would be to buy an army secondhand, with a fixed layout. Take a single combined army photo, as well as individual unit photos as a baseline. Then, using a single new box set, slowly rotate the old models into and out of the paint stripping bath. You'd build one brand new model from your box set, and pull one old model from the first unit. Strip the old model while painting your "seed" model. When the seed model is done, put it into the unit and take a picture. Begin painting the stripped model while stripping a second. It's a little cycle that would allow you to document the whole process.

The rest of the box set is there to use for repairs, spares, and embellishments. For example, some models simply cannot be saved from their paint jobs. I found a whole batch of Marines I'd bought secondhand had scarring and bubbling under a super thick coat of glossy spray paint. I managed to save some, but several had had complete sections of detail burned away. I salvaged the non-burned parts, but had to replace bits to get full models.

It might also be interesting to document your costs. Get a baseline cost of the army when you buy it, plus the cost of your "seed" box, a gallon of Simple Green, and a can of oven cleaner. Keep a running tally each time you buy parts, paint, and supplies. When the project is done, it would be neat to compare the retail cost of that army to what you've spent.

I think a Warhammer Fantasy army might be easiest to document. The block layout of units facilitates nice photos and a "start to finish" progression. There are also a lot of very simple WHFB models, like the single-piece Dwarfs from the old Skull Pass box, Orcs from the Empire/Orc starter, etc. Alternatively, a 40K Ork army might work well here, as it is both an army that can be acquired cheaply, as well as an army that typically has some scary beginner paint jobs and the ability to facilitate conversions and kitbashes in order to salvage as much of the old models as possible.

Of course, I definitely don't have time for such a project any more. With a new excitement for my Marines' focus of fast attack, the glacial pace of my Nids, and life in general, I don't think an Ugly Army project would progress at anything but a complete snail's pace, making it hard for readers to follow.
Maybe in the far off future...


Let's Go Back to Bikes

Yes, I'm still working on my Tyrant. I have made some small steps forward (base coating his talons and claws in a golden tan color), but I wanted to jump back over to Marines for a day.
My wife is awesome and switched some shifts around at work to allow me to attend the FLGS's Big Spring Event, the Fratris Salutem. When the date was first announced, I couldn't go, then I could, then it got moved to June 1st and I couldn't, and now I can. It's all very confusing.
It's a 1500 point event, and I obviously don't have a Nid army of any points value done yet. My Tyrant won't even be done for the painting competition (I'll have it for the Standish Standoff 3 instead). So, I'm bringing Marines.
The exact list I'll take is still rattling around in my head, but I'm leaning towards bikes, as that is the easiest for me to run as a "themed" list. My evolving back story for the force is that it's an Ultramarine rapid response and recon strike force. When I run it at events, I like to write up a little one-page short story as a lead-in to the list. The list is always focused on speed: bikes, jumpers, and speeders. My Biker Captain has always been this guy, Captain Equos.

I built this model back int he dawn of 5th Edition, and you can tell. Not only is he not up to my current painting standards and abilities, but he's armed in 5th Edition style.
In 5th Edition, the relic blade was king. S6 power weapon ate most everything for lunch, and at full initiative value. Because bikers were T4(5), you wanted that Captain swinging early to keep power fists from one-shotting him. Storm shields were popular for the same reason, helping the Captain survive those S8 hits a little better than his basic iron halo save. But due to personal preferences, I never ran with a storm shield.

Now that the relic blade has been changed (not nerfed, changed), I'm seeing a need for a new Captain Equon model. In many of the recent tourneys, I've replaced the above model with the one I've used as a Company Champion on a bike. That one has a sword and shield, and I tend to give him artificer armor, a storm shield, and the relic blade. The load out makes him a house in melee against anything that's not a Terminator or monstrous creature.
But now that sixth edition is here, the relic blade is not the best option any more. It's still serviceable, but there are better options: a lightning claw or a power fist.

All three options result in the same number of attacks on the charge (four), but they differ in stat line.
The claw is nice because it's AP3, and rerolls wounds at S4 and I5. Against basic unit leaders like Marine Sergeants or Chaos Aspiring Champions, it does the job admirably for the fewest points. But, it won't scratch artificer armor, Terminator armor, or high-toughness monsters.
The relic blade is double the points, wounds more reliably, but at the same AP value. This wasn't a problem when power weapons simply ignored armor, but nowadays the AP3 is a liability for such an expensive investment in points.
The power fist runs at S8, AP2, but is Unwieldy and swings at I1. As I mentioned before, this was a death sentence in 5th Edition. But the change to biker toughness to a flat T5 makes it far less risky in 6th. It's not as expensive as the relic blade, but more expensive than the lightning claw. The nice kick here is that it can cause instant death to T4 models, like generic Marine HQs.
If you want to go back down to lightning claw points levels, you can go with a generic power weapon.
A sword is ok, but the single extra attack it'll get you from having a pistol alongside really isn't worth the swap from rerolling wounds with a lightning claw.
The axe is S5, gets the extra attack for a pistol, but attacks at I1. Not bad against something like Tactical Terminators, but it really requires investment in a storm shield and a bucket of luck to make sure you don't get punched down in return by the Terminators.
Staves and mauls are for Librarians and Chaplains. It's got the same strength attacks as the relic blade, can get a bonus for a pistol, but is a lowly AP4. MEQ models are going to laugh at you. You don't even get the chance to cause instant death from Force like a Librarian, or Fearlessness and rerolls to hit like a Chaplain.
Lances attack at I5, S5, and AP3...on the charge. After that, they drop to S4 and AP4. The only people who should be carrying power lances in a bike army are Command Squad members attached to Kor'sarro Khan, and only because he has Furious Charge and Hit and Run.

After all that, I feel like the power fist is my best bet. The lightning claw is a close second, but is intended for cutting down large numbers of chump models or basic unit leaders. It tapers off fast when faced with better armor saves or higher toughness. A Bike Captain in artificer armor can weather the attacks of those types of units by virtue of his 2+ armor and Toughness 5. Marine Bikers have no real problems dealing with the chaff of enemy armies. It's the leaders and monsters they struggle against, and the power fist is the answer in my opinion.

So after all that rambling, I think I want to build a new model to represent Captain Equon. He needs new armament and some of the fancy, new Marine bitz that have become available since I built the original. He'll end up on a bike with more decorative and stowage bitz courtesy of the new Ravenwing Command box, a powerfist, and artificer armor. I'll skip the storm shield, as the number of S10 melee attacks available on characters is small, and the mobility of bike armies can help to simply avoid those tough fights.

Time to get shopping!


Armor Complete, More Army List Questions

I found some extra time yesterday, so I worked some more on the Tyrant's body parts. I think I've gotten the armor plating to a point where I can consider them "done."
Here's one of this claws:

And then his head:

I just started working on the streak method after the Faded Khaki layer. I went for a 2:1 Faded Khaki to Stained Ivory mix, then a 1:2 mix of the same colors, then straight Stained Ivory, and finally some very light lines of Yellowed Bone.

The streaking is both a simple and challenging technique. Essentially all you're doing is drawing some thin lines on the model, but the trick is keeping your paint of the correct consistency, a nice point on your brush, and then spacing the lines of varying lengths properly so that it doesn't just look like an edge highlight or very poor color blend. It took some practice, and you can probably see a couple screw-ups in there.
Overall, I like how it looks. What do you think?
  The next step will be the talon blades and elbow spikes. I'm leaving the forearm spikes the same body color green, as there's no distinct separator from the forearm itself.
I'm planning to start the talons out with a golden tan, then blend out to the blade edges to a yellowed off-white. I'll then use a suggestion from the folks over at Warpshadow, and use purple blotching around the meeting of armor plates and talon blades to create a visual distinction between the two areas.

After that will come the ribbed flesh and joint areas. I'm leaning towards purple for those, as it will compliment both the green and the ivory tones. I'd originally thought of using a hot pink color, but I don't think it would look very good against green and ivory.

I've decided to try to trade off the 24 new-on-sprue Termagaunts I have acquired for some Warrior models. I am trying to do a retail-for-retail value trade, meaning those 24 Gaunts on sprue would bring in 4 Warriors on sprue. I have an ad up over at Bartertown, so we'll see. If any of you dear readers are interested in such a deal, let me know. I'd be after 4 sprues of Warriors, and one of the upgrade sprues that come with the kit. Also, all of the Rippers have been removed from my Gaunt sprues so there's some wiggle room there.

I also thought about revising my 1000-point starter list, and taking out the Hive Tyrant. Yes, he's an awesome unit and model, but in a 1000 point game, he eats up over 20% of my points. I'm thinking of switching to either a Prime to compliment the Warriors int he list and be crazy cheap for what he does (seriously, like 105 points for a nasty, nasty melee Prime). Alternatively, I was thinking about the Parasite of Mortrex, because he's a great modeling opportunity and his rules are seriously fun. He's not an overpowering force, he's just a fun HQ.

Regarding a Prime though, is it better to take the dual boneswords, or the lash/bonesword setup? He runs at Initiative 5, and so would outpace many basic units, but not any Marine Captain-level HQs. Without an Invulnerable save, I'm concerned that if he runs with dual boneswords he'll end up dying right alongside the HQ he's trying to challenge/assassinate. Dual swords also doesn't help him against most non-HQ units, as the instant death value of dual swords is lost on single wound models.


More Paint and a Quick Army List

More progress on the Hive Tyrant from last evening.
Here is one of his talons worked up to Green Ochre:

And the talon worked up to two coats of Faded Khaki:

You can see a couple tide lines on this talon's armor plates from the shading wash I applied. With something like Space Marine armor, I'd have had to spend time retouching that area entirely. With organic things like Nids, I can just leave them there and they end up sinking under the lighter coats, leaving a sort of sublimated pattern that looks like it's part of the natural growth of the plates.
I'm trying to figure out what tone is best to lighten the Faded Khaki, since it's got that green-brown tint to it. I'm leaning toward an ivory color. Folks over on the Reaper Message Board suggested that as well. Alternatively, I have a very light green I can use, but my concern is going to further colors would leave me stuck with that green as my highlight, and I don't want a pale green highlight on these parts.

I also spun up a very rough army list to paint toward, aiming for 1000 points. By the time I'd picked out all the units I wanted to use, I was at 1700 points! So, I started snipping out units and came up with this, which is 1161 points. I obviously need to drop something, but have no idea what to drop:

HQHive Tyrant (double scything talons, armored shell, paroxysm, psychic scream) - 210
Tyrant Guard - 60

TROOPS10 Genestealers, Broodlord, scything talons - 206
5 Warriors (no upgrades) - 150

ELITES5 Ymgarl Genestealers - 115

FAST3 Shrikes (adrenal glands, double scything talons) - 120
4 Raveners (spinefists) - 140

HEAVYCarnifex (frag spines) - 165

It's a pretty crappy list, but it focuses on models I like. I really wanted to put a basic T-Fex in there, but he was just far too expensive. Maybe in the 1500 point bump.
The Carnifex is the easiest thing to drop, since it is almost exactly the points I'm over, leaving me 4 spare to play with (which can't really be used for anything here).

I did have one rules question while working on the Warrior unit last  night though, so any of you Nid experts, care to help me out?

Can a unit of Warriors that has exchanged all of its Devourers for another set of scything talons still have one Warrior with a Venom Cannon or Barbed Strangler?

It's one of those order of operations issues, like with a Space Marine Company Champion or an Ork Nob. The option for venom cannon/strangler is listed before the option to swap devourers for other biomorphs. If I swap that one Warrior's devourer for a strangler, and then elect to swap all devourers for talons, he's got no talons to swap, so does he keep the strangler and remain a valid choice?

Going by the Ork Nob FAQ, I'd say yes. Does that seem right?