Monday, 17 January 2011

Converted Blood Angels Librarian, finished at last!

Well folks, here he is, the Codicier Gabriel (I finally named him) Librarian of the 3rd Company of the Blood Angels:

I am really happy with how he turned out, he was a good day and a half of work over the weekend but worth every minute. Now, about painting him: The blue armour was achieved with my standard Ultramarines technique (when you have worked for GW you develop one!) which is: Basecoat Mordian Blue; shade with Asurman Blue; block in armour plates with Mordian Blue again; first highlight 1:1 Mordian Blue and Ultramarines Blue; second highlight Ultramarines Blue; first edge highlight 1:1 Ultramarines Blue and Space Wolves Grey; edge highlight of Space Wolves Grey; glaze with Asurman Blue; edge highlight Space Wolves Grey. Yep, that is nine stages, but that is how many you need to get nice looking Space Marines. The robe I toyed with painting bone as per the usual Librarian look, but wound up going for the Blood Angel red that I usually use to tie him in to the rest of the army.

I wanted the spear of flame to be really hot and red so as not to add another colour to the model. Red is a tricky colour to give a glowing look to as you need lots of white to achieve a glow. Now think about what red and white make? Yup, pink. No way was my badass Librarian going to be firing pink flames, so to avoid this I started the painting with a base coat of Golden Yellow and Skull White to knock off the very white tone. This was then glazed in layers with first Blazing Orange and then Blood Red, I re-highlighted the peaks of the flames with the yellow/white mix and then glazed it again with a couple of thin coats of Baal Red. Now for the lighting you have to "see" where the light will land. Do this by imagining a sphere of light cast by the source:

From this sphere we can see that we need the arm, the rim of the shoulder pad and a touch on the psychic hood's cables need some light hitting them. The top of the arm should have nothing as it will be in its own shadow. Build up light with very, very thin washes over fully painted componants. I started with Blood Red and built up to the yellow/white mix from before. Be very careful with thin washes not to leave tide marks, feather out the edges of the wash to avoid any sharp lines. The final edge highlights can just be painted in to give them some definition. I also chose to repeat the process in the eyes of the Librarian as it makes it clear that it is something to do with him casting a power that is creating the fiery blast. The imaginary sphere method prevents you from putting light where it should not be and ruining your effect. Light illuminates a constant distance not weird teardrop shapes and so on. Give it a go sometime, it really isn't as difficult as it sounds and used sparingly can really make a model.

Another little detail that I was quite happy with was the green marble on the scroll cases and the staff. You can't see the staff marble very well as the copper traceries all over it draw the eye too much but the little scroll tubes look lovely with it.

While the twenty or so wash stages on the Librarian were drying I took the opportunity to paint the second of my two tactical squads. This is technically the third squad (according to their knee pads) as the first squad will be the veterans. These look a little darker than usual because I messed up the Baal Red glaze and used far, far too much. I fixed it with a thin layer of Blood Red but the colour is so translucent that the camera cut through it and showed the darker layer beneath. Sheesh! At least I now know how to paint Flesh Tearers red if I ever want some allies for the army!

This unit benefited from quite a lot of little conversions and modifications. The marine above is a good example. I've always had a soft spot for the hard-as-nails I-can-fire-my-machine-gun-one-handed pose so I threw an artificer boltgun in there to indicate his specialist status. This also shows off the snazzy boltgun and the Mk VI armour.

Gotta love that powerfist, with something that ornate I needed to add more detailing parts to the model to make the whole thing decorated with gothic bits and pieces. Just the power fist alone would have looked weird.

Just a nice pose, the lovely Death Company boltgun looks great and just goes to show that everyone who collects Blood Angels should have a box of them just for the bits. The engraved saltires on the armour plates look just as good as black crosses on red as they do as red crosses on black. That sentence kinda got away from me a bit.

Another example of Death Company parts looking really nice. I saw the chalice of blood fetish as being maybe the mark of a mature Space Marine who has had the progenoid organs harvested already by the Sanguinary Priests. Kinda like a reverse donor card! Their Razorback is being painted up this week as I have my first game ever with this army on Thursday, hurrah! Hard to believe that the army is already 1250 points in size. Doubtless I shall get trampled all over as Mark is experienced with his Orks and I have no clue with the Angels yet. We shall see... till next time I leave you with the "army so far" cards and a:


This is the list for Thursday, wish me luck!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Death Korps; Back for more

Since it has been a fair while since my last Death Korps post I thought I would bring everyone up to date with progress. The primary reason for very few updates is that I have been working my way through what is coloquially called: "The boring bits". These are the models - like the lasgun armed guys - who are essential to the mass effect of the army but get a touch repetative after a while and don't make for good blog posts! There is no doubting, however the impact that a mass of guardsmen make:

Lovely, exactly what the guard are all about, that and enourmous things that go "boom" of course. I talked about the methods for painting the basic guardsmen back in the original Death Korps post so I won't go through it all again. Instead I shall show you all what I treated myself to as a reward for hitting the halfway mark on the lasgun models: The first batch of special weapons and the first heavy weapons.

The Death Korps flamers are just lovely models, as are the entire range. The long broom on the flamers gives that impression of wanting the fire as far from you as possible. When painting these I wanted to give a tiny splash of dull colour to help them stand out from the herd of lasguns but not spoil the nice military look we have going. A Scab Red promethium tank enriched with a glaze of Baal Red did the job nicely. As with last time my camera is having the devils own job picking out the shades on the Death Korps, trust me, the subtle effect looks awesome in person!

They are probably too small to see on the photo but the canvas flap holding in the spare promethium tanks have tiny, tiny stud buttons to hold them shut. This is the advantage of resin casting, you can pick up detail that metal and even plastic could not hope to notice. The downsides, unfortunately are legion. The models are delicate, brittle and have flash and bubbles in odd places. It is difficult to repair too; a lot of the models in this army have suffered minor breaks in their past, now with plastic this would be the work of seconds to fix, a dab of polystyrene cement and the break is welded, good as new. With resin you cannot do this, it is superglue and often on broken joins about a millimeter across. Suffice to say, the thirty lasgunners that are in that shot above are "the easy ones", I am currently repairing all the minor breaks on the others or stripping the paint to allow me to put clean coats on. Big job, worth it though, the mass impact of the army is going to be brilliant. Anyway, on to the grenadiers!

I just love the old style grenade launchers, none of this Cadian pattern, drum-fed, semi-automatic stuff. No, no, no, these are break-breach single-shot jobbies with no fancy aiming gubbins, just fire and pray! They have such a characterful look. Wonderful figures.

Like the flamers I wanted to inject a few new shades onto the grenadiers. Militaries often use the term "Soldier-proof" to describe weapons. This refers to a weapon that is darned near impossible to mess up or misuse in combat. The idea is not that soldiers are stupid, far from it, but instead to remove any "now how do I work this..." pondering from a soldiers job. When bullets are flying and bombs are exploding you are very grateful for someone taking the time to stamp "Point this side at enemy" on your claymore mines so you don't accidentally destroy your own side. With this in mind I decided to colour code the grenade cartridges on their webbing belts. Red for anti-personelle fragmentation, pale grey for the high explosive anti-tank.

Finally today we come to the first heavy weapons squad of the army, the heavy bolters:

I really like the little details that Forgeworld have put in, the empty canvas belts from fired cartridges, the loaders hands carefully sculpted to be feeding the guns. Very nice. The client had assembled these with lots of extra boxes and lasrifles on the bases for flavour. Trouble is, the lasrifles are mostly the chunky plastic variety. Initially I painted them with green furniture as I normally would but it looked as though the troopers had nicked off with someone elses guns. In the end I painted them the same dark steel as the other weapons in the army and dulled them with Badab Black to minimise their impact. Speaking of the green furniture; I decided to paint the heavy bolters in the same green as the trim of the troopers uniforms. I tried painting them khaki like the greatcoats but that somehow did not work. I can't explain why, just didn't. Green it was.

Well, that's all folks! There are loads more DKK in the pipeline (some half done, some being fixed etc.) and tomorrow I shall show off some more Blood Angels. Till then:


Saturday, 8 January 2011

Blood Angels update and a scroll painting tutorial

Greetings all, thought I'd bring you all up to speed with how project Blood Angels is going for me.

Given that they are a weekend and "drying time" only project they are proceeding apace! Just finished are the second Assault Squad and the Death Company. Lets check out the raving nutters of the Death Company first hmm? Might upset them otherwise:

I painted each of these individually rather than as a batch. Partially because I was working on these while waiting for commission models to dry and partially because they are all so individual that I would have missed details if I had tried to churn them out.

I have already written about methods used in painting the Death Company in the original post on the subject so I'll not go through it all again, instead I'll talk about any interesting features that have arisen. For example, the skin on the model above. I've been vaguely dissatisfied with the skin I have been painting lately, something was missing. I decided, as an experiment, to add more contrast and a glaze layer to tie in the highlighting stages. If you are following the current Book of Jeff method for skin add a thin Devlan Mud wash to the eye sockets, nose shade and mouth. In addition, once the initial highlighting is done glaze the face with thin Ogryn Flesh and re-highlight. This does add about five layers to the skin painting but is worth it for models that need to have the face stand out. I wouldn't - for example - use this method on every one of a 30 strong unit of halbardiers, Space Marines though are so small in number that it is worth putting the extra effort in.

This is just a piece of colour blending that I happen to be very happy with. The smooth transitions on the gem and saltire were simply thinned paint "feathered" to avoid hard edges. Feathering is a technique where you take a clean, damp brush and remove some of the wet paint from an edge. It is incredibly hard to explain, I am currently trying to figure out how to keep my camera focussed on the model while I work so I can put up a video tutorial. Harder than it looks.

Here, I thought I would talk about oath papers and the like, when magnified like this they can look very scrappy so I've posted a near as damnit actual size picture below so you get the idea of how they look on the finished piece:

Generally when people teach how to do writing on scrolls and the like they say "just paint a bunch of wiggly lines". Unfotunately this looks like example 1 below:

It's just too regular, looks ok but not "right". Contrast that with Example 2, this has been painted identically to 1 except that breaks have been inserted to simulate words. Be careful to think of a passage of text while doing this otherwise your words will end up the same length and you won't improve on example 1. I used the opening of "Jerusalem" as my text (And did those feet in ancient times, walk upon England's mountains green) but anything will work from Shakespeare to Smells Like Teen Spirit. This instantly gives a more believable appearance. This is what I do for purity seals, no point going any further there. If you have a bit more space you can add pseudo capitals at intervals as on example 3 (mine were on 'And' and 'England's'). This improves matters further, an easy final step is to add tails and stalks to the lines to indicate b's; p's; q's; t's; k's; etc. Again, use the text in your head to imply placement as you won't get it right automatically. Example 4 now looks like text rather than lines. Going as far as 4 is only necessary when you have a nice big scroll or a tank to paint on. Well with that class out for recess we are on to the Assault Squad:

Again, this is the second Assault Squad I have posted so I will stick to the details and areas of interest. Firstly, the sergeant's sword:

I don't have a lot of time for the Sanguinary Guard in the army. The models however, are just gorgeous and bits of them turn up everywhere. The torsos and wings are on the vanguard veterans, the legs are on the death company and the weapons are on the assault sergeants. Like the previous squad I wanted to paint the power weapon like Asteroth's axe. Following the advice Eavy Metal gave and adapting it to the sword gave another nice weapon crackling with electricity. I like to think of these weapons as being obsidian - black in mourning for their lost Primarch - that leap into charged life when a son of Sanguinius grips the hilt.

Just a nice pose, it is cool sometimes to shout "to hell with what the model is supposed to have" and just go with what looks funky. So long as you are clear about what the model is supposed to be and thus can expect what it is capable of it is all good. For example, putting a second sword on this figure changes nothing in rules terms. Putting a meltagun on him when he does not have it does change matters. Show good judgement and your opponant shouldn't mind. If they do... find another opponant!

The kneeling marine is pausing to check the readings for the way ahead. Just as faces draw the eye and thus should be carefully painted, little screens do the same. People always look at the scanners to see if they can see anything in them, so it is a good idea to make sure they can! In this case a base coat of Dark Angels Green with thin lines of Scorpion Green highlighted with Scorpion Green and white make up the base of the screen. Mixing a little red with the green mix gives a subtly different tone for the blips while not making them stand out too much. A wash of Thraka Green to tone everything down and then a flood of 'Ardcoat (gloss varnish) once dry finished the job. On that note, when using varnish to indicate glass or gems use lots, a thin coat leaves brush strokes, a pool has its own surface tension to smooth it off perfectly.

Finally, it wouldn't be me without a little weathering. Drybrush stippling a little black around the vents gives them a sense of scorching that fits nicely with the image of the jump packs. I am still debating whether to go back when the army is finished and add dust and paint chips. Not sure yet, jury's out.

So where does this leave us in the overall project? Well the original 2000 point list is below (it has expanded to 3k so I can get everything I want in it):

And below is the list with strikeouts on everything I have currently painted.

Next up is the second Tactical Squad to get all the "basic" troop types out of the way. I usually do this to force myself to get the bulk of the work complete before I paint the shineys. I will also paint that librarian I converted as that will give me a legal army for smaller points games. Next update though will be a bumper one with all the Death Korps I have been working on, till then: