Tuesday 28 June 2016

Progression as a Painter - An Illustrated Guide

Hello all!

Today I have a post that I've been putting together for a while. I know certainly that when I started painting and collecting 40k again, I was hugely overwhelmed by how good lots of painters were and my own efforts caused me great consternation. I think like many hobbyists, I have a very vivid and active imagination. This is a great boon for me in terms of playing 40k as well as DnD, and indeed it aids me in memory based protocols I use to keep information in my head. 

But when I looked at my painted models, the image I had so hoped to see was never formed in the blotchy rough paint job I had done and the models were a bit of a disappointment. Despite the kind words and promises of brilliant painters that I would get better (Nathaniel and Nick from Objective Secured and The Burning Eye par example) I couldn't visualise that at all, and it made me lazy. 

So what I decided to do was to chart my progression in painting ability from my modest beginning 3 or so years ago to where I am to date. I'd like to throw in a disclaimer here that I am not a brilliant painter now by any means. I reserve that title for people who just make your draw drop. But I do think I am a good painter and I am very happy with most of what I produce these days. 

My hope is that people who see my current painting projects don't get disheartened if they feel their own work doesn't match up, as they should be able to see that if you truly stick with and, importantly, you want to improve, then it does happen. Finally, painting isn't everything! If you don't care for having that perfect shade of green, it doesn't matter, as long as you have fun at the end of the day :)

The Eldar Years

The Dark Eldar were my first foray back into 40k and you can see that I went big and bold! There is very little shading here, a few washes and plenty of drybrushing! Damn I was proud of these!

I continued in the vein for some time until I thought, you know what, maybe I can do better...

My revamped Dark Eldar saw me take on yellow in a way that I just couldn't do all that well and also try out OSL and painting flat surfaces with depth, such as on the wings. Whilst I saw improvement, each model was taking me upwards of a week to paint as I tried to much to fast and some very advanced techniques that I din't understand enough to apply. 

This squad took over a month to do with little else done in that time frame. Whilst I was aiming for better, I wanted to play with a painted army sometime soon!!! I have always tried to paint well but expediently. 

The Craftworld Cousins briefly made an entry into my collection. I attempted batch painting with washes that produced OK results. Interestingly enough this style of technique is what I went back to when painting my mechanicum several years later.

Enter the Marines

After losing my Dark Eldar by leaving them on a bus, I decided to sell up my Craftworld and try to paint some marines. Maybe I had just jumped in at the deep end with such fiddly models! This Dreadnought was one of my first forays into my Night Lords army. I used several layers of blue and got some happy results that I thought I could do quickly. 

Important to note, that a lot of how I painted this army came from YouTube tutorials. Use them! They are great and you can get so much out of them.

The fruits of my labour were a definite step forward, but again I found myself wondering if half of what I was doing was just wasting time. The end result didn't seem to reflect all those layers and hours I'd put in, even though I was happy with what I saw.

Sticking to Marine Models, which are SO MUCH EASIER TO PAINT than Eldar I looked at the Black Templars. Unlike the Night Lords I tried to cut the paint layers down and I think I got similar results with half as much effort overall. My main idea was basecoat, wash and single layer. A big change in my technique later on was to apply washes at the end to tie colours together.

This model is one of my favourites of all time and I was so pleased with the sword! But the colours are still pretty flat and the paint, looking back, far too thick in some area. 

Eventually both sets of marine armies were sold to fund new purchases that I thought I could paint better.

The Imperial Ascension

Ah! My short lived Militarum Tempestus army... I loved building these guys, but I found my paint job too cartoonish and thick and with too many projects on the go and strapped for cash these guys also saw the light of eBay.

Despite appearences, this Culexus was a turning point in my painting style. Less felt like more with very small highlights on all the areas and my first proper go at OSL.

Death Comes to Us All

My Death Company and Blood Angels marked an advancement in keeping things simple. Colour selection became more important and I started to read about colour theory to make sure my choices didn't clash. Keeping the reds close enough together to not clash but far enough apart to POP. The blue OSL was also picked to compliment the other colours. 

I also started to put a little more effort into my bases, though more could certainly have been done with these guys. 

Angels Beget Angels

The most important aspect of my Dark Angels was ADVICE. I actively sought comments on people more than ever before, rather than steaming ahead! I would paint prototypes and ask for feedback. Importantly I would listen, not take offence, learn re-paint and repeat till happy.

I also started to thin my paints a lot more. I've never got on with a wet pallet if I'm honest. So I started to load my brush with water and wipe off excess on my thigh but leave enough on to keep the paint moist. Not overloading the brush was important here and also keeping myself conscious of the paint drying. This meant painting for 2-5 minutes, washing the brush, straightening the hairs, reapplying water, wiping, reapplying paint. 

I also started to buy none GW brushes and clean my brushes with actual brush cleaner. A bad worksman blames he tools as tools are only useless if you don't look after them!

The New Age

After my Dark Angels had begun I felt a new lease of life in painting and I decided to really try something radical for me. I decided to re-visit using washes as a means of colouring a miniature. Again I did my reading and Zenithal Undercoats seemed to be the way to go with this. I also decided to extend my OSL practise to normal shading. This meant using dry brushing to blend normal colours, rather than just for the vibrant glow. Again testing colours and feedback helped immensely. 

Crucially I also washed over the model once all of the dry brush work was done. This lead to the colours TYING together and achieving a well blended look, despite just being dry brushed on. Online guides to dry brush blending were invaluable here. I would cut out plasticard and spray paint them like a model and try to blend from one end to the other to get the technique down. 

As well as painting, my mechanicum were the first time I put a lot of thought and effort into my bases, and I think the impact they have on the model really does speak for itself.

It might not look it, but all of the above models were painted with the techniques highlighted in the firs paragraph of this section. The Alpha Legion and Legion of the Damned have some additional line highlighting done and some sponge weathering on the Alpha Legion but the basic shape is washes and dry brushing. 

Closing Thoughts

I hope that a very brief flit through my painting past with 40k has helped energise your own enthusiasm for developing your talent. I don't think its a far stretch to to say that anyone can be a good painter. It just requires you to want to be a better painter and accept that it takes time and practise. You don't have to be a Rembrandt to get good results. Dry brushing is by far my most used and favourite technique, don't let anyone tell you that you SHOULD do it one way. 

Experiment and find out what you like and see what works for you. I hope this has been helpful!

Peace out,


PS - I used to be super super bad at painting even before I started 40k, back when I was playing Inquisitor, sadly no pictures now survive of that time - phew!

Monday 27 June 2016

Horus Heresy Review - Legion Dreadnought Drop Pod

Whats up everyone,

Today I'm going to go over a relatively simple unit that has huge boons to grant to some of the more maligned units in the game of both 30k and 40k. The humble dreadnought.

Unit Stats

The dreadnought drop pod:

BS  Front   Side   Rear   HP
 4      12        12      12     3

The drop pod costs 65 points and can carry a dreadnought of any type. This includes all contemptor variants as well as the leviathan dreadnought.

Overview - Just a regular drop pod statline, which is a little annoying considering its massive bulk compared to a normal drop pod but should do us fine all the same.

Special Rules

The special rules are what make this drop pod so efficient in transporting dreadnoughts.

Burning Retros - As the drop pod descends to earth, its great bulk requires decelerating retros to fire. The smoke and ground dust kicked up by this grants the drop pod shrouding on the turn it arrives. HOWEVER it also grants shrouding to the dreadnought even if it disembarks, as long as it remains on the doors of the drop pod. ADDITIONALLY it also grants shrouding to any unit targeted where LoS passes through or over the drop pod. Shrouding also applies to any interceptor fire.

Assault Vehicle - This is a big one. Firstly you need to note that you CANNOT assault on the turn on arrival. But it does mean that you can stay inside the drop pod, giving you 3 ablative hull points that are sat behind a 5+ cover save to help protect your dread.

Deep Strike - Like a normal drop pod

Immobile - Like a normal drop pod

Inertial Guidance System - Like a normal drop pod

Overview - This is designed entirely to deliver and protect its payload and that is why this crucial investment can be worth its points.






If like me you enjoy the idea of a super powered dreadnought smashing into the enemy then this can be a HUGE boon to your deployment of said dreadnought. The leviathan dreadnought in particular benefits from this as not only is it well designed to punch stuff to death, but it also has several short range shooting weapons (phosphex being a prime example) that work better up close.

The dreadnought drop pod allows you to land close to your enemy, SHOOT as it is open topped and then sit inside with the drop pod and shrouding to take the return fire. Then in the next turn you have a decent chance of getting a charge off, depending on where your scatter landed you.

I think the points investment is warranted on any dreadnought that will benefit massively from either close range (short ranged shooting or close combat), or will benefit from denying cover saves to the enemy for a couple of turns. As landing close should massively mitigate this as an issue.

Overall - If you are sinking a lot of points into a dreadnought because of it being a special variant or even a character (Rylanor the unyielding) then I think the dreadnought drop pod is an often much maligned delivery system that is brilliantly designed to aid you. I hate building them though.

Peace out,


Sunday 26 June 2016

30k Alpha Legion - 5 More Painted and basing decisions...

Happy weekend to you,

So I have really been pushing myself to get all of my Alpha Legion Infantry painted up quickly so I can at least field the force partly painted and then this should allow me to take some time over the vehicles whilst doing infantry from other projects (legion of the damned) on the side in between drying phases which with washes in particular always take ages on vehicles. 

Today I've got another 5 done to show you. This leaves just 3 more regular infantry to do and then I can start on painting Autilon Skorr who is my HQ for the force at 1850 or lower points levels.  After that I can paint Armillus Dynat who will be HQ in points levels above that. I'm really looking forward to Alpharius being sculpted by FW but I'm not holding my breath!


These are my final infantry to paint:

And these are 5 models left after them!

So you guys were pretty unanimous on suggesting a red planet base for these guys and that's what I have decided to go with! Though I am obviously going to add extra tidbits to the bases, the ones below are the bases I've decided to go with. They are pretty cheap with all the bases I need plus many spares costing me around the £30 mark so pretty pleased! I'll be ordering these in the coming weeks so hoping to get them started mid July or so. 

I've also decided to invest in alternative flying stems as the GW ones give me no confidence with the heavier resin flyer, especially the Fire Raptors. So these should do the trick nicely as well. 

Hopefully that has whetted your appetite on these guys for now and more should be incoming next week! If I can get all the infantry painted by July that will make me a happy man and mean I've painted the 22 infantry in about 21 days so just over 1 a day! As always I am sure I would have made a better job if painstakingly painted them like other people do, but I am always in a rush to play with new toys!!!

Peace out,