Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Squaduary 2018: Week 3 Progress

Squaduary 2018 by steppingbetweengames.com

Time for my week 3 progress report for Squaduary 2018.  The Hellblasters edge ever forward to completeness. During week three, Remaining details were colored in and some highlights applied.  many details are complete, while others still require final highlights. It all started with the chapter icons and purity seals.  The chapter symbols where highlighted with Vallejo Game Color Ghost Grey (72-046).  The purity seal paper was painted with P3 Menoth White base, shaded with GW Agrax Earthshade, then highlighted with P3 Menoth White Highlight.  The wax seals were painted with P3 Sanguine Base and shaded with GW Agrax Earthshade.

Dark Angels Primaris Hellblasters WIP week 3 progress

Dark Angels Primaris Hellblasters WIP week 3 progress

Starting to look snazzy!  Next, the bases got some love while I took a break from the finer aspects of painting.  Here, a dark Vallejo brown was painted on and highlighted using progressively lighter browns.  The whole was shaded heavily with GW Agrax Earthshade. At some later stage, time permitting, additional highlights and different color shades will be added to break up the consistent browns. As I typically do, the bases were cleaned up with a GW Chaos Black rim to help both the "ground cover" and the models stand out on the table a bit.

Dark Angels Primaris Hellblasters WIP week 3 progress

Next up, the lenses on the "targeter/flashlight" looking bits on the ends of the plasma weapons were given a layer of GW Caledor Sky and shaded with a 50:50 mix of GW Drakenhof Nightshade and Lahmian Medium. The silver parts of the plasma weapons were also cleaned up at this stage making them appear brighter.  

Dark Angels Primaris Hellblasters WIP week 3 progress

Last up for the week, the plasma weapons, purity seal wax, and helmet eye lenses got their first highlight of GW Wildrider Red. This took me some time, particularly for the weapons, but I'm very happy with my results.

Dark Angels Primaris Hellblasters WIP week 3 progress

[UPDATE - One last unexpected session for week 3, company badges!]

Last up this week, I was able to paint freehand the company badge on the left knee pads.  I started by painting a black cross with GW Abaddon Black to section each knee pad, then painted in the black quadrant.  This was followed with P3 Menoth White Highlight for the off-white quadrants, and then GW Caliban Green was used for the green quadrant and to tidy up around the knee pad.  A pin-wash of GW Nuln Oil was then carefully painted around each pad to shade the edges and hopefully help it pop out a bit more and set it apart from the rest of the armored leg.  

Dark Angels Primaris Hellblasters WIP week 3 progress

With most of the obvious colors painted in by the end of week two, week three progress is not so obvious to make out.  Many hours were spent though and these Dark Angels creep ever closer to field readiness.  Week four will be exciting.  I must finally complete the armor edge highlighting (seen partially complete on the front left marine in the pictures) which will be time consuming.  Then decal the right shoulder pads and complete all remaining highlights and touch ups.  I may not see every planned detail done, but I am confident I will close out Squaduary with a respectable squad none-the-less.

I hope you will stop back next week to see how this journey ends.

Cheers and Happy Gaming!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Squaduary 2018: Week 2 Progress

Squaduary 2018 Logo steppingbetweengames.com

Welcome to Squaduary week 2! We're half way through the challenge and the Hellblasters are starting to look like true Dark Angels now. This week I blocked in more base colors, focusing one the guns first, then the chest eagles and chapter insignia. Vallejo Oily Steel (70.865) was painted on all the metal bits of the weapons and then shaded carefully with GW Nuln Oil.

Dark Angels Primaris Hellblasters WIP metal on the plasma weapons

Next, GW Mephiston Red was painted on and washed with GW Agrax Earthshade. Then the plasma coils were painted in starting with a base of GW Sotek Green, layered with GW Temple Guard Blue and highlighted with GW Baharroth Blue and finally GW White Scar.  The lot was then carefully shaded with Drakenhof Nightshade.  The Nightshade did its job of blending things and toning it down...but perhaps too much. I'm leaving it for now so as not to allow "perfect to be the enemy of good." But I may come back and add new highlights.  I am purposefully avoiding an OSL effect here.  When I rethink the highlights, I may dry brush in some OSL instead of painting highlights directly...we'll see. I'm not firmly in the OSL camp and feel that a poor job looks messy, which I want to avoid here. For now, these weapons are very identifiable as plasma weapons, so mission accomplished.
Dark Angels Primaris Hellblasters WIP more work on the plasma weapons

Last up for this week was work on the chest and shoulder iconography.  Rather than follow the box art for the chest eagles, I chose P3 Menoth White Base for the base coat.  This was shaded with Agrax Earthshade and layered with P3 Menoth White Highlight.  I then stepped away from it for now.  I may come back with some GW White Scar highlights on the most prominent parts.  For now, I have the look I wanted. I'm holding off on most of the highlights at this point in order to get a base coat on everything. The chapter symbols on the left shoulders were given a base coat of a Vallejo grey and then shaded with GW Nuln Oil. Time ran out for the night so I'll come back next session with a layer of a lighter grey and then highlight with GW White Scar.

Dark Angels Primaris Hellblasters WIP Chest eagles and chapter icons painted in.

And now the squad really starts to look like proper Dark Angels. I'm very pleased with my progress on the squad so far.  At the halfway point, I feel I can easily complete the squad now.  Highlighting the armor will take the longest, possibly.  I need to go through my decal collection to see if I have 10 company badges of the right size for the left knee pads.  Otherwise, I'll be hand painting those which will be time consuming too to get right. During week three, the reaming base colors will be completed and the highlighting done on the weapons, icons and equipment at the least.  Hopefully the armor will see some progress too so I can coast through week four with the decal work, bases and final cleanup.

Best wishes to my fellow Squaduary 2018 challengers.  I hope your projects progress well too this week.

Cheers and Happy Gaming!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Squaduary 2018: Week 1 Progress

Squaduary 2018 Title Image

Well, week one has come and gone, and I missed the official Squaduary 2018 update with this post. But no matter, progress has been made! To start things off, a coat of GW Caliban Green was laid down with the air brush.  On the far right of the front rank, you'll note my early experiment with highlighting this. 

Dark Angels Primaris Hellblasters WIP Green Base Coat

Before I got to business with highlighting the armor, however, I brushed a coat of GW Nuln Oil over all (including the highlighting experiment). Now on the far left of the front rank you may note my second experiment with highlighting after the shade was dry.  You might say...just get on with it! And you'd probably be right, but highlighting space marine armor is not my strong suit and I want these gents to come out well so I'm taking my sweet time with the effort. It will all come in time.

Dark Angels Primaris Hellblasters Washed with some details

In fact, I took a break from highlighting of the armor (I'm overwhelmed by how long it takes me to do one model) to poke at some of the equipment.  For some reason, the leather work caught my eye this session and I took cheerfully to painting up all the bolt pistols and belt pouches. Then I decided to toss on a splash of color and base coated all the eye lenses with GW Mephiston Red.

So not a tremendous amount of progress for the week, but they are dark green and I guess pass for a three color minimum. ;-) And there are TEN of them...OK, enough whining from me on that matter.  I'm excited to gain progress on a new squad of Dark Angels.  This squad will most certainly set the new standard for my force.  Once complete, I'll post up a comparison of this squad with one of the two tactical squads I completed...hmmm...four years ago?  Five?  The Dark Angels deserve more of my time than they get.

A shout out to the rest of the Squaduary 2018 challengers.  Best of luck for your projects!  What I have seen so far in posts looks great.

Cheers and Happy Gaming!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Squaduary 2018: My Official Pledge!

Squaduary 2018 by steppingbetweengames.com
Image courtesy of steppingbetweengames.com

Following on the first ever Squaduary in 2017, its time for the 2018 Squaduary challenge. Last year I pledged (and completed!) a squad of five Deathwatch Space Marines. That was a fun challenge that taught me a lot about painting Black, particularly with regard to edge highlighting power armor!

Deathwatch Space Marines from Squaduary 2017

For 2018, I'm doubling the model count and pledging to paint a full squad of 10 Dark Angels Primaris Hellblaster Space Marines.  Here they are primed and standing by...

Dark Angels Primaris Hellblasters pledged for Squaduary 2018

I hope to take what I learned about edge highlighting and apply it in spades to these dark green power armored marines.  I intend to follow the GW paint recipe for Dark Angels over all, but I will be substituting in some Vallejo and P3 colors here and there for things like metallics where the color choice won't take away from the overall Dark Angels look. The models have been based on their stock GW 30mm round bases.  My proprietary mix of model railroad ballast was then glued down with Elmer's wood glue to provide the ground cover, which matches the vast collection of (primed but largely unpainted) Dark Angels that I already own. I primed the squad with Vallejo Surface Primer Black using an air brush so they would be set up and ready to go for February 1st.  

Tune in over the month of February for updates as the project continues. I'm very excited to get to work!  Many thanks to Rory over at steppingbeteengames.com for hosting this challenge. If you are reading this and haven't yet made your own commitment to paint a unit over the month of February, what are you waiting for??

Cheers and Happy Gaming!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

WIP: Adeptus Custodes with Halberds II

Adeptus Custodes WIP Halberd Squad

I was able to make some progress on the Adeptus Custodes. Plumes, braid, leather, and some gun metal have been base coated and washed.  Already they are starting to stand out and resemble the Emperors's 10,000.

Adeptus Custodes WIP Halberd Squad
Session 2 progress, blocking in more base colors 
I had a little time remaining before setting these aside for Squaduary, so I took the time to lay down a first pass of gold highlights as well.  I also painted in the silver face masks (Vallejo Chrome 71.064) and washed them with a bit of GW Nuln Oil.

Session 3 progress, 1st pass of gold highlights
Before putting them away, I used the airbrush to lay down a base coat of browns on the bases as well. This was all I could make time for.

Adeptus Custodes WIP Halberd Squad
Session 3 progress, the bases get some love from the airbrush

With so much gold to highlight, and me being a bit slow and methodical about it, the highlighting took a good couple hours to complete on just five models. I need to pick up the pace if I'm going to be able to highlight the armor of 10 Dark Angels Primaris marines during Squaduary!

Yes, that is right.  I am pledging to paint a full squad (10 marines) of Dark Angels Primaris Hellblasters for Squaduary 2018. So we'll say good bye to the Adeptus Custodes for a month or so. I doubt I'll be away from them long though.  The new codex for the Custodes looks fun and there is the release of many great new models!

Cheers and Happy Gaming!

Monday, January 29, 2018

WIP: Custom Bases for the Adeptus Custodes

Custom Cork Bases for the Adeptus Custodes

I have had inquiries about how I set about my bases, so I thought I'd put up a short how-to article using the Adeptus Custodes Haldberd Squad for example.  This squad comes with 40mm round bases which are great for customizing as there is lots of room for fun details while still leaving space for the model to be stuck down.  For the Custodes, I decided long back to use cork to build up some height and provide the illusion of sound ground for the emperors finest to trod.

You can find cork in all manner of forms.  Folks use old drink coasters, old bulletin boards or kitchen trivets.  I, however, turned to my trusty online source Amazon.com for 12"x12" tiles in various thicknesses.  I believe I'm using either 3/16" or 1/4" for these Custodes bases.  But really, it's just to taste, based on how much height you want and what look you are going for. If I wand to have layers, or stacks of rock, then I use a couple thinner layers...or I might se a thin piece under the edge of a thicker piece to prop up an edge and put a slant to the ground for interest.  Your imagination is the only boundary here.

I didn't think to snap any pictures of the pieces prior to gluing.  Basically, I tear off a piece roughly the size I want, then crumble off any straight edges or extra bits that hang over until I get something the right size for the base I'm using.  Keep all these little bits that get broken/torn off as they make excellent rubble for bases or larger terrain.  Also, a couple smaller bits can be put down to illustrate broken ground to add variety to your bases.  Here's a step by step of one of the Custodes bases coming together.

Custom Cork Base WIP
The cork glued down

First, the cork is glued down using a quality wood or carpenters glue.  Wood glue, is basically a thicker version of white glue that has good tack and dries quickly.  It dries somewhat cloudier than white glue, but we don't care about that since we're painting over it all anyway.  In the example above, I've used various cast off pieces of cork to make some broke ground. Again, the sky is the limit for what you choose to do here with the cork. For important characters, I put in much more effort to generate a unique and cool looking bit of turf.

Custom Cork Base WIP
After a quick dip in the ballast tub

While the glue is still wet, I put the whole thing into my tub of railroad ballast.  The bases is thoroughly covers and I push the mix down to set it into any exposed glue.  Then the base is pulled out, tapped off, and any unsightly bits rubbed off, particularly around the rim of the base where I want a smooth finish.  This step adds some natural elements to the base and blends everything together.  At this point, the cork starts to hide a bit, except for the broad flat surfaces where its obvious pattern can still be seen.  We'll deal with that later.

Custom Cork Base WIP
Some details added

After being dipped in the tub and left to dry, a base is generally done.  However, I prefer to go further and add some additional interest and detail.  In this case, I'm putting in a few skulls here and there in the cracks where they might reasonably settle after being blasted and kicked around a battlefield in the 41st millennium. You can continue to use the wood glue here, but I generally switch to my super glue. The super glue dries much quicker so i don't have to worry about my carefully placed details becoming dislodged and ending up on the floor or in some other less desirable location on the base itself. 

Here are additional closeups of the remaining bases for the Custodes squad.

Custom Cork Base WIPCustom Cork Base WIP

Custom Cork Base WIP

This base was done with a single sheet of cork, instead of separate pieces. An xacto knife was used to carve out a bit of a crack, into which a daemon skull from the recent GW skulls boxed set was glued.

Custom Cork Base WIPCustom Cork Base WIP

This base was made with two pieces of cork with a resin skull glued down in the crack.

Custom Cork Base WIP

Custom Cork Base WIP

These last two bases are just simple one piece cork bases.  They all could be done this way to make the whole process simpler.  But I like to vary my bases some to add interest among a squad of models, in the same manned a set of themed resin bases typically offers some variety.

Custom Cork Bases for Adeptus Custodes WIP

The last step is to lay down some Vallejo Black Lava over the flat surfaces to add a nice gritty ground texture and mask the obvious pattern of the cork.  On larger bases, or in spot application for effect, I might instead glue down more of my basing ballast as rocks and gravel strewn about...often putting it around various cork layers on a multi-layer base to illustrate material crumbling from the larger features.  This can even be added into the black lava to vary the texture.  In addition, other details like grass tufts, bits of debris, etc. could be glued down.  I choose a base theme for an army and stick to it throughout the force.  In this case, I'm going with a simple blasted/barren ground theme so that nothing on the base will distract from the glorious details of the Adeptus Custodes.

Once the base is complete, it is painted separate of the miniature.  In many cases, clear spaces are left on the base where the model will be glued down. In other cases, I may scrape away a bit with a knife to clear a flat space for boot or limb.  While a model may be simply glued down to the finished base with super glue, I find it all to easy for the new paint to lift off with the miniature which is very frustrating.  As a result, I always pin my models to cork bases. For small models, a single foot pinned down serves.  For a knight or other large model, I might pin both feet.  

When pinning, I use a pin vise to drill straight through the whole base.  I then make sure to use a length rod that penetrates all the way through once the model is glued down.  This is important since the cork is quite malleable and it will be easy for models to get bent or twisted off the base under any firm pressure otherwise. With the pin all the way through the plastic base beneath, I've never had this happen. Any extra pin can be carefully trimmed away at the bottom so the model sits flat. Be careful not to leave sharp cut ends under the base that may stick you during later handling.  I say this from experience. Lastly, I turn the model upside down and put a drop of super glue over the pin end(s).  I give this a blast with the super glue accelerator to dry it quickly.  This last step may be more superstition than science, but I fancy that it puts as stop at the back of the pin to make it less likely to pull back out later.  

So that's it! :)

I hope this simple tutorial has proved interesting.  There is a wealth of custom bases on the market and I make use of them for some of my models.  However, it is also very easy and pretty cheap to create truly unique and interesting bases like this on your own with very modest modelling skills. May you be inspired to create some custom bases of your own for future projects. If so, please come back and comment here with some links to share.

Cheers and Happy Gaming!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

WIP: Adeptus Custodes with Halberds

Last night, I found time to complete the Custodes on the work bench and so another Adeptus Custodes painting project was set in motion.  I'm am very excited by what I read of the new codex and models coming very soon.  Certainly another squad of Custodes won't go amiss! Since I modeled the first squad of five with swords, this second squad naturally required the signature halberds.  

I have avoided calling out another Shield Captain directly in this squad until I see the codex.  It may be that I run these combined with the prior squad for the full ten (or in some combination), or they may run independent.  Regardless, I'm not clear how the sergeant/captain models will be designated in these squads so I'll keep my options open.  The squad "leader" stands with his hand on a dagger. A cape is waiting in the wings to be painted up and stuck on as needed.  The cape from this kit is a pretty unique piece so I didn't want a bunch of dudes running around with the same getup unnecessarily!

Adeptus Custodes Squad with Halberds WIP Assembled
Adeptus Custodes Assembled and Ready for a Primer Coat
These models require some time and attention in order to achieve good results and so I treat each model as a character.  They all get mounted to my signature Bourbon cork holders using brass rod so I can paint them freely without getting grease or other muck from my hands all over them.  I also don't was to inadvertently rub any paint off while handling either. Normally, I would have just mounted the models to their bases and painted them while carefully holding the rim of each base.  I got good results the last time with the holders, so here we are.  Once I complete this squad, the wires get pulled out of the cork, holes are drilled in the custom bases and the models get mounted by pinning them to the bases using the same wire.

Adeptus Custodes Squad with Halberds WIP Primed
Adeptus Custodes Primed and Ready for Painting

Once mounted, the squad was primed with an airbrush (Iwata Eclipse) using Vallejo Black Surface Primer (74.602). I bought a big 200ml bottle through Amazon.com some while back just for this purpose.  I have been able to spray it on straight, but typically I add a few drops of Vallejo Airbrush Flow Improver (71.362).  The flow improver insures that things go on smoothly and don't spatter or get glopped up at all.

Adeptus Custodes Squad with Halberds WIP Based with Gold
Adeptus Custodes Base Coated and Ready for Shading
Once the primer was dry, I hit the squad with the airbrush again using Vallejo Brass (70.801) in a roughly 3:1 mix with the flow improver.  It might have been closer to 2:1, but I'm not very scientific in this regard.  I generally mix in the flow improver to suit until the mix flows well through the airbrush.  This approach takes some practice, but there is nothing really tricky about it.  The Brass comes out of the bottle thick, but with the flow improver added it sprayed well and left a great finish to my eye.

Adeptus Custodes Squad with Halberds WIP Shaded
Adeptus Custodes Shaded and Ready for more Base Coats.
The gold (well, brass...) laid down, I ended this session with an over all wash of GW Reikland Fleshshade.  I apply this from the top down on each model and use some care to insure there isn't too much pooling on the smooth, flat surfaces or any other place where it might look out of place or be too heavy handed. This step completes the messy bulk painting approach I used here to accelerate progress and achieve a consistent smooth armor finish over all.

That is where I left the squad at the end of the first session.  During the next session, I will block out and shade the remaining base colors and then set to the highlights if time permits.  I'm going to advance this squad as quickly as possible to done before Squaduary starts, but I'll be pleasantly surprised if they get finished.  As soon as February 1st dawns, all else will get set aside as I tackle some Dark Angels Primaris marines for Squaduary 2018. Thes lads will then wait for March to get to DONE.

Cheers and Happy Gaming!