+ inload: Warmachine +

+ My gaming group have recently – or at least, over the past year – taken up Privateer Press' Warmachine game. Collecting and painting the models has been an interesting contrast to the Games Workshop models with which I'm more familiar, and I'd like to explore this in a future blog post or two.

+ However, time is at a premium at the moment, so instead, here are some WIP shots of a figure on which I'm currently working, a Cygnar Journeyman Warcaster. + 

+ This figure is metal; and intended as a gift. As a result, I wanted to make sure that it's as good as I can make it. Since I'm fairly unfamiliar with the Warmachine aesthetic, I wanted to start with something I am both enthusiastic about and familiar with – the face. 

+ Journeymen are supposed to be young, up-and-coming Warcasters (a sort of steampunk wizard), so I painted this figure with a cool, pale basetone leaning towards green; then added touches of red and purple for the lips and the areas above the eyes respectively. This sort of work is a balancing act between making the figure feminine and making her look like a drag queen.

+ As the full figure shot (left) shows, the 'make-up work' is subtle when viewed from further back; but the face successfully gives the model a feminine feel. +

+ Human skin can be painted fairly similarly across genres, and the face is an obvious focal point for any miniature. I would normally leave it 'til near the end of the figure; a reward, if you will, for painting the rest. 

+ That would have been a sensible idea here, as I painted this ages ago and then never got round to finising her off until very recently. +

+ The aesthetic is brighter and considerably less Gothic than the Warhammer world, and the recipient is a Final Fantasy fan, so I didn't want the figure to be too muted. Bright blues, strong contrasts in the metals and cloth, along with some gold hints give the model a nice rich, positive feel. 

The figure now awaiting basing.
+ With her bright new armour, she's got a nice feisty, optimistic atmosphere that fits in nicely with the background. +

 + This close-up of the face shows why I used a greenish base. The green is muted by subtle touches of Ogryn Flesh (a red-based GW wash) in the recesses and on the surface of the cheeks, which gives a much more realistic final effect of pale skin. Working from a pink-, yellow- or red-based paint would have left her too ruddy or bright, which would have lost the bright, fresh youthful look (emphasised further with some blonde hair). 

+ Note also how the eyeshadow and lips are enriched by the red wash, but become more subtle as the skin also gets warmer. The overall effect knocks back the more obvious make-up look, giving a more au naturel appearance more suited to a pragmatic, capable, military figure like this woman. +

+ inload: Ultramarines +

+ I've been building my Ultramarines army for years now – I started my Warseer blog back in 2008*, and it has since hit half a million views. Quite a humbling number!

+ Here's a quick snap of the first marine of the latest batch to have the blue highlighting started. This is made with a mix of Mordian Blue and Fenris Grey (I think; it's the new Space Wolves Grey equivalent, anyway), which is applied to the highlight areas and blended away. This will in turn be highlighted up with a lighter mix made from Fenris Grey and a touch of pure white to get the final highlights; after which it's on to basing and details. +

+ Currently on the workbench is a big batch of more regular marines. It's at this point that I'm reminded why I like big infantry armies. Individuals are great, and being able to bring your artistic focus on to a single miniature is wonderful; but seeing a group of models come together to form a complete, mobile diorama, where they can interact with one another to realise the artworks of the Warhammer 40,000... well, that's just wonderful. +

+ inload: Brother Taarlach of the Iron Tenth +

It is a very reaction peculiar to humanity to give titles to momentous events. It is an assertion of power; as though by labelling the impossible we render it smaller, tamer. More... controllable.

Of course, the Isstvan Dropsite Massacre was a term given after the events – long after the blood had dried up and the echoes burnt away. The name packaged the horror; rendered it relatable to the wider war. It became another entry on a list, like the Cold Gulf Catchments, the Ghoul Star Advances, or the Battle for Ibysia. 

It was like none of those things. 

We did not know it as the Massacre; though even on the ground it was clear the scale of butchery was unprecedented. Time moved strangely after the first day – indeed, even after the first minutes. Taarlach was unusual in keeping us grounded. My head was full of questions. They blotted and confused me. What was the right action now? Who could we trust? Most pressing of all – where was Lord Vulkan? 

We found Taarlach defending a barricade made up of rubble, rad-soil, and – mostly – dead Iron Hands. He did not fire at us. Indeed, when we came across him, he was unable to do so, having expended the last of his scavenged ammunition in killing an Iron Warrior who had wandered, blast-fried and devoid of his senses, across the landscape of shell-broken Space Marines. 

He was masterfully practical and focussed, in every way but one. He fell in and moved us out to the south of the Urgall Depression. It was a flawless fallback plan that ticked into place like the workings of an clock. 

The sounds of battle fitfully diminished and re-emerged, in the strange hours that followed, as the treacher-legionnaires came across scattered knots of resistance. Taarlach drove us forward mercilessly. I am confident that without him, we would have convinced ourselves to ignore our orders, turned back to find Lord Vulkan – and perished. It is testament to the iron will of Taarlach that he was able to convince us to stay by our duty and rely on our father to meet us.

Of course, he never did – nor, to that matter did Lord Ferrus. In the hours and days that followed, we met dribs and drabs of shell-shocked and mindbroken Imperial Army. Non-aggressive Legionnaires – I hesitate to say friendly, as we were all equally confused by the event, and eager to force the truth from any we met; from whatever Legion, and by whatever means. 

We met none who could offer the slightest explanation or anything but raw speculation. The Isstvan Dropsite Massacre now has a name, but for Taarlach and myself, it was a pilgrimage of sorts. Away from credulity and towards vengeance...

Taarlach marks the first completed marine for my Flight Risk project. An Iron Hand, he was a great opportunity to try out some techniques for whites and blacks; both of which will come in handy for my Ultramarines and orks.

A very rewarding mini-project, Taarlach was completed in a couple of hours using a base of a chromatic black mix (Abaddon Black, Scorched Brown, Orkhide Shade and Necron Abyss) with highlights made by adding Fenris Grey to the mix, and a wash of the black wash (Nuln Oil?).

Iron Hands are great fun to paint – I'd like to explore the X Legion some more.

+ inload: Vicissitudes of the Warp +

+ Chaos Space Marines. These have gone through a lot of changes since their introduction in the Realm of Chaos books, and though a lot of changes have been good in giving them their own identity, the models have never matched the creativity of the single-piece Renegade Space Marines of their first miniature range. 

+ These were wonderfully baroque and strange, and really captured the 'otherness' of Chaos in a way that the later models never did. With nostalgia for the older ranges and a new appreciation for the character that the single-piece miniatures offer, I've been repeatedly tempted to pick up some of the older miniatures, but they are very small! Not a problem in itself, but I was really impressed with the plastic Chaos Chosen from the most recent 40k boxed set.

+ These really show off what GW can do with the plastic technology, and combine a lot of the outré weirdness of the original range with crisper details. I snagged a set for the princely sum of two quid from eBay, and put them together over the weekend. +

+ I couldn't quite resist some minor conversion, so the duplicates carrying boltguns were differentiated slightly – one had the chain detail on his boltgun removed (right), and the other had his head twisted (below), which changes the pose nicely.

 + I've mounted these on 30mm bases (from Heresy Miniatures), as the size increase makes them overhang 25mm bases slightly, and I prefer the larger framing area a 30mm affords.
+ The chap with lightning claws reminded me a bit of a spider (eight claws, fangs in the centre) so I replaced his head with a resin Mark 5 helmet – the studs evoke an arachnoid set of eyes. +

+ The size of the traitor marines is surprising – to the right is a comparison picture with an Imperial Fist marine based on Terminator parts (the 'true-scale' method that I use on a lot of my models) in a similar pose. As you can see, there's not a huge amount of difference – the Traitor is probably midway in height between a standard marine and the larger size shown; but he's also very bulky compared to standard marines, which I really like. +

+ I also treated myself to the new clam-pack single sprue plastic Aspiring Champion, who was assembled completely stock, with the exception of the base. A really nice model, and one that well illustrates the combination of Rogue Trader-era aesthetics –like the fluted, ribbed horns and the soft blend between hard edges and more organic lines (see the collar for a good example) – with the advantages of more modern technologies – crisp detailing like the power axe generator, and the clever use of plastic moulding to give a really dynamic but durable miniature. +

+ Not really sure how I'll paint these lads, but that's rather the attraction – just have fun doing something creative rather than tying them into anything in particular. If you've got any thoughts on whether you'd like to see a particular 'canon' warband or watch me try to make something cool up, I'd love to hear your thoughts. +