+ inload: Painting pre-Heresy Ultramarines – part II +

+ Set new heading +

+ Part I of this painting guide can be found here +

+ Theoretical +

+ At this point, we've got the Ultramarine painted a mid blue that fades to a deeper blue-purple in the recesses. As you can see in the small picture to the left (the stage we left them at last night), the figures are pretty dull to look at – nothing much catches the eye. To fix this, we need to highlight the figure. +

+ The aim with any highlighting or shading is to create a contrast in tones; and the reason for this is that the eye is drawn to areas of visual impact. Strong changes in tone are one of the key things to concentrate upon if you want an eye-catching model, whatever your personal style. +

+ Trompe l'oeil is an ecumenical matter +
+ It's also worth noting that the other aspect of tonal contrast is to increase visual complexity. Essentially, we're aiming to creating the illusion that the figure is large and far away, rather than small and close-to. +

+ In order to do this, we need to make it look as though the large surfaces are catching more light, and that the areas in shadow are deeply recessed – or in other words, alter the tone of the local colour (the main midtone – Mordian Blue in this example) in the appropriate areas on the figure. This requires you to decide upon a light source for the figure. Typically, this is above the figure, as we're used to seeing people in daylight, with the sun acting as the light source. +

As a general rule, you should pick a light source and stick with it. All the highlights should point towards the light source, and the areas that are blocked from it – whether by an intervening object or simply by being on the bottom of an area should be in shadow. +

+ The shoulder pad to the left shows the lightest tint at the top (nearest the light source), fading into the midtone local colour, and down to the darkest shade at the bottom. Note the highlighting on the scratches follows the opposite rule – the light tone beneath the scratch and the shadow above it. That's because the scratch is meant to look like a dent in the surface. The top edge thus casts a shadow, and the bottom edge catches the light. +

+ My typical approach when painting is to lay in a midtone, then add shading, and then highlight. That's because deeper shades are more forgiving than light tints, and because shaded areas tend to be 'within' the figure – it's physically easier to get the brush to the raised areas than the recesses; so painting the highlights afterwards means less chance of a stray brushstroke getting paitn where you don't want it. +

+ Practical +

VI_ My highlighting is done with a combination of blending – for smoothness – and edge highlighting, for tabletop impact and to add crispness. I'm not a particularly neat painter, but some finer lines helps direct the eye and delineate shapes that might otherwise look soft. Mix Mordian Blue with Fenris Grey (a cool blue-toned grey) and dilute with a little flow enhancer. Pick an area and add a spot of paint on the area nearest the light source – for example the part of the shoulder pad pointing straight upwards; (usually the top, but this will depend on the pose) – then rinse your brush, dry it, and make small circular movements around the edge of the spot, drawing the paint outwards. If the paint is thin enough, you'll see that some of the underlying local colour shows through. This is the essence of blending. +

VII_ Repeat on all of the other plates. The skill here is not so much in applying the paint as it is working out how each area catches the light. Exposed directly to the light source, the shoulder pads and helmet will be relatively lighter than the lower legs, which are sheltered somewhat from the light. Both are catching more light that the undersides and recesses – such as under the marine's arms or between the foot and greave. You need to apply the paint intelligently – if you get stuck, just picture the light source and try and draw a line straight to the area. Can the light fall flat on the surface? If so, highlight strongly. Does it hit it only obliquely? Work closer to the midtone. Is it obscured? Leave it unhighlighted.
+APPENDNOTE: This is a bit of a simplification: light doesn't just fall straight down. It will bounce off nearby surfaces, creating a secondary light source of reflected light. For this reason, you might need to add some subtle highlighting bouncing off nearby armour plates, the floor, or other areas. Just remember that reflected light is always less intense than direct light; so you should never highlight parts lit by reflected light with tints as light as those used for those under the direct light. +
VII_ With the soft blending done, you can – if you choose – add some edge highlighting. This is essentially the lightest tint you've mixed, added in fine lines to areas under direct light. You'll see these on the tops of the pauldrons, outer edges of the feet and greaves, top of the torsos and so on.
+ Edge highlighting is a shortcut – if you spend more time blending and work cleanly, you'll simply not need them as you'll create the effect naturally. However, there's a balance between speed, effect and enjoyment – find a balance that suits the way you like to work. I don't believe painting should be a chore; though if you're aiming for competition standard, you'll need to practise blending far more, as it's the dominant style that judges like. Of course, if you're going for competition standard, you're best off taking technical advice from better painters than me! Artists like the Massive Voodoo crew [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] are a great place to start: friendly and expert advice there. +
VIII_ The next thing to work on is the focal point. In the marines here, I want the heads to be the focal point. On the bare-headed Sergeant Tulian Aquila, it's simple enough – the changes in tone, texture and hue used for the skin and features immediately draw the eye from the mass of blue armour. For Brother Septival, the chap with the rotor cannon, it's a bit harder to draw the eye. You can add a contrasting tone – helmet stripes are a good idea – but I've decided to simply go with bright orange eye lenses for the moment. Orange is opposite blue on the colour wheel, making it the complementary hue. As a result, the two colours interact strongly, creating maximum contrast – and thus creating visual interest.

+ That's all I got done last night – I was getting a bit impatient and decided that I'd rather look at the figures in daylight to assess them before going any further. +

+ Looking at your figures under artificial light and daylight really hits home the difference. Compare the picture below, taken in the dawn light, to that above, taken under a daylight bulb last night. +

+ inload: Painting pre-Heresy Ultramarines – part I +

+ Meanwhile, back on Calth +

+ The Ultramarines and I go back a long way – I'm sure somewhere along the line I've written down a recipe for how I paint them, but techniques (and paint ranges!) move on. Seized by inspiration for some Ultramarines, I thought I'd note down a stage-by-stage process for a couple of marines. I hope it's useful. +

+ Praetor of Calth: deep blue; yellow banding; personal heraldry +

+ Theoretical +

+ For those of you familiar with my Ultramarines, you'll know that I've tried a couple of different approaches – a deep dark blue and lots of personalisation for my veteran Praetors of Calth, and a mid-tone uniform approach for my 190th Company. They're close enough – not least stylistically – for the two to sit comfortably together on the table, but offer me a bit of variety depending upon what I want to paint. + 

+ Member of 190th Company: Mid blue; gold banding; uniform +
+ The two marines used for the demonstration below are something different again. They're based on Gav Thorpe's Honour to the Dead [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+], and as such don't need to stand alongside my other marines. This is a nice chance to try out something new. If it fits with the others, brill; if not, they're an example of the slight variation in uniform within the Legion. +

+ As an example, I've long wanted to try to get some more Rogue Trader stylistic touches into my Marines, and these are a great opportunity. I'm planning to include some Rogue Trader rank markings, to use all-metal backpacks and probably a few other retro-styled bits as they occur to me. Planning is useful, but restricting yourself on these experimental mini-projects is a surefire way to kill your enthusiasm as dead as a dodo. +


+ These were popped up on the new Facebook group for the blog [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] as an experiment in 'live painting'. I spent two hours, and took a pict-capture after every 30 minutes to give more of an idea of my painting style. Please excuse any bits mentioned in the text that are missing from either of the figures. At each stage, at least one of the figures is 'correct', but I wanted to be as honest as possible with the timings. +

+ TerminologyGlazes and washes are two slightly different things:
+ A wash should flow away from raised areas and into recesses – be careful not to let it pool too much, or you'll end up with backruns and odd textural effects. Washes should flow readily on your palette, and once dried, should create the impression of a gradient on your model; from the unaffected underlying hue in the raised areas to deeply shaded areas in the recesses. You typically apply just one or two washes to create the effect. +
+ In contast, a glaze should cover the object evenly, tinting the raised and recessed areas consistently. Glazes are typically thin and should flow, but the consistency can vary – the thinner the glaze, the more subtle the effect. Typically, glazes are built up over time, using many thin layers. The consistency you use should ideally cover the area you want to glaze evenly without obviously obscuring the colour underneath. Once dry, repeat the application and repeat until you achieve the effect you want. +
+ You can make either by thinning regular acrylic paint with water or another medium – the terms refer to the technique, not the material. With that said, different paints react differently: some split, others granulate, and it takes a lot of time and experience to know how to water down and utilise the colours correctly. For this reason, it is sometimes easier (and certainly more predictable) to use some specialist materials. +

+ Inks are perhaps the simplest to understand. If you've ever used inks, you know how they sit on the model and enrich the colour. They can be used as a wash, but they tend to dry unevenly, resulting in glossiness in recesses and patchiness on the surface. They are, however, ideal for glazing straight out of the bottle. +

+ GW produce a range called Shades, which function as ready-made washes – indeed, the previous iteration were called 'Washes'. The carrier (the colourless medium that carries the pigment) for these is not water, but a medium that alters the surface tension and encourages the colour to flow smoothly into recesses. GW also produce a range called Glazes, which function (drumroll please) as glazes. Both are an excellent ranges; I thoroughly recommend them as useful tools. Though not the be-all and end-all, they're great to use as part of your palette. + 


+ Technique: I very much admire the clean, jewel-like qualities that other painters achieve, but stylistically I'm more interested in impression and texture – my inspirations are GW artists like Karl Kopinski, Blanche and Gary Harrod; along with Goya, Degas and the Impressionists. I use a technique that I call 'selective glazing' – it's a quick and dirty effect that results in a rougher, more textural effect than glazing. +

+ The idea is essentially to apply a smooth glaze, but remove it from the areas of highlight – either with a brush, cotton bud or with a clean finger. This 'forces' the highlight and gives a greater contrast, but also introduces a little dirt and unevenness:

+ The result of the selective glazing technique can be seen clearly here. You can see a 'curve' of uneven shadow around the big screws at the front of the shoulders here. It's this slightly ragged, textural effect that I'm after. +
+ Selective glazing is used extensively in the robes here. Since it's the raised surface that is wiped, the recesses remain rich, dark and with heavy tonal contrast. +


+ Practical +

+ Pre-stages: Build your marine, attach to a base and use texture medium to build up some texture – I use coarse and extra coarse pumice gel medium from Golden [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]. Note that this is added after the figure is glued to the base. This helps set them in the soil, rather than perched on top of it. Texture medium glues rock hard, so it also helps secure the figure. I've also added some fibrous mesh from my bits box to help create semi-urban terrain interest. Once dry, prime the marine. I've used Halford's grey primer [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]; note this is primer, not spray paint – they have different qualities. +

I_ Paint any metal areas on the figure with watery Abaddon Black; and any metal areas on the base with Solar Macharius Orange straight from the pot. Note how messy I am here. I find it more important to get the recesses of the areas covered than to be neat at this stage. The 'flow' of the work is speedy and energetic and fun.

II_ Use slightly watered-down Mordian Blue to paint the bulk of the armour. Again, I'm not too fussed about being neat; spots of blue pop up on the black areas, and doubtless some areas are missed. If necessary, quickly touch in any mistakes using some of the paint remaining on your palette from the previous stage. overlay the texture gel with Stirland Mud (or just a dark brown like Rhinox Hide).

III_ Water down a little Charadon Granite to the consistency of milk; it should not quite drip if you tip up your palette, but it should definitely start to flow. Use this to paint the soft armour ribbing along with Use acrylic medium to dilute Chainmail – using water can 'split' the paint, causing patchiness – and paint in the metal areas.

IV_ Dilute Liche Purple with acrylic medium and water to create a thin glaze. Working area by area, paint this over blue parts, right into the recesses. While it remains wet, quickly rinse and dry your brush, then use the dry brush to wipe away excess purple glaze from the surface, leaving it in the areas of shadow and deep recesses – this is the selective glazing technique. Next, apply Seraphim Sepia (or better still, slightly dried-up Gryphonne Sepia) to the shoulder pad rims and any other areas you want to be gold. This is painted on neat and as densely as you can get it without dripping. The important thing is not to let it flow off the area, nor to pool too heavily – you want it to dry naturally to create the impression of form. 

V_ Dilute Necron Abyss with medium and water to create a glaze; exactly as for the Liche Purple in step IV. As before, work area by area and wipe the glaze away while it is still wet. Once dry, use GW washes – Nuln Oil – to wash the metal areas and the Charadon granite areas. While that dries, drybrush the base with successively lighter mixes of Calth Brown and Dheneb Stone.

+ That concludes part I – the figures now have their midtones and shading in place; the entire undercoat is covered; and the base is pretty much there. From here, we'll enrich the colours and add the highlights that'll create tonal contrast. With that complete, it's down to details and freehand – but that'll have to wait for another day. +

+ The figures in the cold light of morning, once the paint has dried. +
+ I hope this has been interesting – I'd love to hear your thoughts either here or on Facebook [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]. +

+ inload: Exloadlink from Facebook +

+ A brief mention that I've created a Facebook page [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] for Death of a Rubricist. Please do feel free to 'sign up' there. +

+ Rest assured that it won't take over from the blog itself; I'm hoping it'll provide a more convenient place for discussion, as well as offering me some different ways to experiment with presentation. However, please don't let that discourage you from posting here. +

+ inload: Iron Circle review +

+ inload: Machina ex deo +

+ I have thoughtful and generous pals – over the weekend I received a pair of the vaunted Iron Circle from my mates in the PCRC as a birthday gift. Cheers lads! +

+ Domitar-Ferrum Battle Automata review +

+ Needless to say, I couldn't resist putting them together; and thought I'd exload a little review of the kit for interested readers. +

+ Preparation +

+ The kit comes packaged in a plastic bag, with the larger pieces loose and the smaller parts contained in a sealed blister pack. As with other large kits from Forge World, the bag contains a coloured step-by-step set of instructions – a nice easy-to-follow visual approach. New to me this time was a 'working with resin' leaflet, which contained some useful basic information for beginners. Perhaps Forge World have started including this in every kit? +

+ It may seem extraneous to experienced modellers, but I'm really glad to see Forge World include stuff like this as it gives a nice polish to the product, and makes construction more enjoyable. While the kit is largely straightforward, made up of clearly identifiable parts, it's good to have some of the smaller pieces – like the two sets of leg pistons and the optional ablative armour plate – identified. In the past I've had a couple of kits where the orientation of a small part is unclear, and essentially had to guess how to place it if the image wasn't clear online. +

+ Anyway, the quality of the kit was very high – no miscasts, little flash and only one of the smaller sprues had any misalignment. This was easily resolved by gently trimming down the length of a piston. Confession time – I was so enthused about building these that I didn't wash it beforehand. Bad practice; so remind me of it if I complain that the paint's flaking off later! Fortunately, the kits seem relatively free of mould release; there's none of the characteristic greasiness, gloss or soapiness. +

+ Some of the longer parts, like the shaft of the weapon, were a little bent, but given the design, I think this is unavoidable owing to the medium. In any case, it's easily fixed with a little hot water. +

+ Construction +

+ The design of the kit is very sensible, with parts designed with secure fits to other sections that will mostly hide the joins. Although this is less important on a mechanical figure like the Iron Circle, it's good practise and I'm glad Forge World have taken the time to think it through. Complex core parts like the torso have shims to avoid miscasts, ensuring a nice crisp result – just make sure you catch 'em all. +

+ The kit goes together well, with all the parts fitting snugly and securely. The design of the graviton maul – the enormous hammer that makes up their right hand and wrist – was my only main concern. The section is very posable, being made up of six parts. The shaft of the maul is split into two sections which both connect to a central part – this makes the +

+ The number of parts makes this the most complex part of the kit; but the instructions are poor here; the angle chosen obscuring which parts are involved and how they're placed. Fortunately, it's easily worked out with a little dry fitting – just be aware that the piston that sits on top of the wrist is what determines the angle of the hammer. This piston is connected to the sprue by the piston rod itself (rather than an extra bit of resin), so I can see much cursing if you accidentally trim the rod off by cutting too close to the piston. +

+ If this does happen, you can either replace the shaft with brass rod, or glue the resin rod in place – it would be supported at both ends, and shielded from dropping out. The image below shows the one I constructed with the full length of the piston:

+ As you can see, this results in the graviton maul being set out at its full extent – allowing for a nice sweeping effect. Compare this with the other (below), which I constructed with the piston rod trimmed back:

+ This results in a more guarded pose. Note that the nature of the hammer and wrist means that the piston rod can't retract fully, so don't trim the whole thing off! Instead, cut it at its full length, then dry fit before trimming the rod down gradually, easing the hammer into the pose you want. +

+ The potential for cool poses means that if you have multiple unit members, you can have them looking very different. However, the decision to split the hammer into three pieces was an odd one. Perhaps there's a manufacturing restriction, but it puts a lot of potential stress on the join between the shaft at either end and the hand. Forge World have give the join a lip which helps to get the pieces aligned properly, but it's too shallow to help support the maul. I'd recommend that you drill and pin the shaft of the maul at either end, just for peace of mind. +

+ My only other criticism of the design is the legs. The upper legs and groin are three separate parts, but the hips are fixed so that the left leg will always be striding forward and right leg trailing. It wouldn't be difficult to trim and reposition, but the weight of the model rests here, creating a point of stress. For the asking price, I'd have liked some way of altering the standard pose; either by redesigning the area or perhaps through the inclusion of an alternative set of upper legs (akin to the Contemptor dreadnought kits alternative feet etc.) +

+ One note on posing – my initial plan was to have the two in mirrored poses; with the shield and hammer swapped on the second robot. However, the shield arm has a cable that extends from the left shoulder. Posing them with the shield on the right arm would thus by restricted by the length of the cable. Not insurmountable (you could of course simply leave the cable off), but worth bearing in mind. In the end, I decided to stick with a uniform look and keep the shield on the left arm. +

+ Alternatives and addenda +

+ The nature of the highly characterful design means that there aren't any ideal alternatives – you'll get robots with hammers and shields, but they won't be identifiable as the Iron Circle. The standard Domitar [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] is slightly cheaper if price is a consideration, but the difference is fairly negligible for the amount of effort you'd need to make to create the hammer and shield. +

+ However, if your budget extends, the standard Domitar might be a good way to add some variety to a large group. The hips suffer from the same fixed leg position, but here it's the right leg advancing and the left leg trailing. In an earlier inload, I'd built one myself – using a bit of greenstuff to sculpt the IVth Legion mask:

+ The detail on the legs differs slightly between the kits – the Iron Circle having additional armour plating compared to the standard Domitar, but I think combining the lower legs of an Iron Circle kit with the upper legs of a Domitar – and then vice versa – would give a great hybrid mix that would add some variety without breaking the overall aesthetic. +

+ If you're intending to recreate Peturabo's entire bodyguard of six, the Iron Circle kit might suit you as-is. They'd certainly look robotic and intimidating in lock-step and single pose, utterly impersonal and uniform. Depending on your interpretation of the background, however, I think mixing in some parts from the standard Domitar would be a great way to create interest and variety. As long as you show the graviton maul, shield and bolt cannon that are the fundamental visual identifiers, having some differences in the face plates, leg decor and torsos could be used to suggest the refinements and tinkering of Perturabo's pet project – the Iron Circle are his personal design, after all, so some personalisation might suit your interpretation. +

+ Shield-wise, Games Workshop's Ogryn kit [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] comes with the option for large tower shields. While not identical, they're certainly large enough to get the impression across. You also get five in the kit, which would allow you to swap them en-masse in a large group of Iron Circle for a different appearance. The Bullgryn shields are also notable for giving the apperance of slotting together – very fitting for the Iron Circle. +

+ Other than that, I'd recommend Zinge industries' excellent flexible resin power cables and ammo feeds [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]. As the name suggests, these are resin that has a core of wire, making them completely poseable. While the ammo and power feeds of the Iron Circle behaved alright for me, the Zinge cables would make posing much freer and easier. In addition, having a core of metal gives you an in-built pin, so with a little trimming you'll give you Iron Circle member a bit more resilience. +

+ Conclusion +

+ Minor design critique aside, I love this kit. The appearance is brutal and crisp, with the right balance between clean areas and detail. The quality of the figure itself is high, and they were a real pleasure to put together – even the ammo feeds (normally a bit of a bugbear of mine) seemed to be cooperative. +

+ Subjectively speaking, I think the models are dripping with character: full of mechanical menace and a certain dynamism while retaining a sense of weight. Even given the limitations of the hip posing, the use of ball joints at the waist and shoulders means there's a huge potential for posing. + 


+ Eighth edition playtesting +

+ The Iron Circle is notable for its absence in 8th edition 40k – understandable really – but since The Eightfold Path project toddles along slowly, here's some rules you can use for playtesting, should you so wish. +

+ The basic unit (two Automata) is 15 power. +

+ inload: Witchhunters of Shallowell +

+ Witchhunters +

+ Quick, dirty and done. No, not their modus operandi, but the paintjob on these witchhunters. As you can see from these pictures – taken last thing at night – the paint's still wet, but they're complete enough to take part in the PCRC's opening game set in the town of Shallowell. +

+ The game is a bit of a tutorial – only the organiser, Lord Blood the Hungry – has played Mordheim before, but he's been beavering away building a very cool little town – I'm looking forward to getting some pictures of the game. +

+ Before that, though, here's a quick peek of my band of merry frightful worshippers of Alluminas. They're a good example of the sort of finish I get from batch painting – nothing to look at individually, but with a good cohesive feel. +

+ The Witchhunters themselves mainly wear heavy leather coats, painted with a simple mix of sepia ink, Charadon Granite and Abaddon Black paint. The models are loaded down with quite a lot of detail, so – aside from the old man on the right – these will probably just get some grass tufts and cleaner highlighting before I call them properly finished. The old witchhunter will benefit from some freehand – something like some damage to his breastplace and a chequered set of hose, perhaps. +

+ Very few worshippers of Alluminas can be called sane – and these flagellants are not counted amongst them! Their bright white robes, torches and bells are intended to draw the attention of their enervating deity. +

+ A chirrhound and three bullying lunks with hammers. Not much to say about them paint-wise, beyond that they were a bit more interesting than the mostly-black witchhunters and mostly-white flagellants. +

+ To finish, a terrible pict-capture of the group. Two further chirrhounds and a horse (and an extraneous flagellant) still await paint – but I decided I'd rather field most of the group painted to a slightly better level than all of them at an earlier stage. +

+ inload: Mechanicum, Witchhunters and blog updates +

+ Ongoing datahub polishing +

+ The more observant amongst you [praise be the Omnissiah for additional optic/haptic systems] might have spotted an '+ ACTIVE DATASTREAM +' tab at the top of the page. After the requisite incense is burnt and runes have been scribed on the data-engines, this will be joined by a few other tabs in the near future, which will provide summaries of my various projects and generally help to guide people around this little corner of the noosphere. +

+ I'd very much appreciate any thoughts on this minor reorganisation. I've had some very useful comments on which inload-posts people like best – generally tutorials, battle reports and theory stuff seem to go down well – but I've always got an audio pickup out for anything that people would like to see, so do feel free to let me know what you like or dislike about the blog, and would like to see more/less of. +


+ Witchhunters +

+ Painting has picked up – and none too soon; the inaugural game set in Shallowell is this Saturday, and I'd like the Witchhunters to be at a decent level before then. I had planned to get further, but an unfortunate 24-hour bug over the bank holiday weekend put paid to those plans! +

+ Batch painting versus the individual approach +

+ I'm fairly pleased with what I got done in the limited time, though the curtailed painting time meant I was forced to go for a batch approach over the individual approach I had intended. Batch painting isn't bad – no approach to painting is, in my opinion – but I rarely find it as enjoyable and absorbing as painting models one at a time. The strengths of batch painting (at least for me) are:
  • Speed – The desaturated yellow is a good example of an accent used in various places – ribbons, loincloths, feathers etc. These are tiny little areas on individual models; batch-painting allows you to hop from model to model to apply the same colours across the group. Similarly, it helps to streamline drying time – hope to another model while you wait for the first to dry.
  • Less wastage – If you're using a mix from your palette (as with most of the colours here), you don't need to mix them afresh every time. I find this hugely useful for painting skin, where I tend to work from large pools of paint that I mix visually – it's incredibly hard to remix these later, so I often end up using huge amounts of paint for relatively tiny areas of single figures.
  • Cohesiveness – Painting a group in one go makes it easy to remember paint recipes, techniques and any considerations about the figures (colours of details, how you approach particular areas and so forth) across the whole group.
The downsides are:
  • Repetitiveness – Inevitably, painting the same colour or areas cross a number of figures can get repetitive, leading to loss of concentration and boredom, or a slap-dash approach that leaves some of the figures painted less carefully than others.
  • Lack of connection – This is the big failure of batch painting for me. It takes away the sense of artistry and flow in a piece; jumping from model to model stops me caring about the individual pieces. No matter how good the result, I never enjoy the process of painting as much. 
  • All or nothing – Until you put the last touches on the batch, you haven't got a single finished figure to show for your work. I find this can be disheartening – particularly if you don't know when you'll next have some time to paint.
+ Of course, one person's famine is another's feast – you may find consistently painting a particular area of detail across a group more relaxing and approachable than having to face it as part of the broader individual; or find it rewarding to suddenly have a whole group 'fall into place' almost at once, in which case the weaknesses I identify above might be positives for you. As I mention above, there's no right or wrong way to paint. While I generally avoid batch painting, I always keep it as an option. The broader your range of techniques and approaches, the better. +

+ In a demonstration that great minds think alike (or fools seldom differ!) The inimitable Asslessman's excellent post on Leadplague last week [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] shows just how effective batch painting can be, even in combination with time-intensive techniques like wet-blending. +

+ It's also worth mentioning that there's a bit of a false dichotomy in the heading. It's not a case of 'either/or', but rather two approaches that can, and should, be combined. Whether that's simply by undercoating ten models at once before painting them all individually; batch-painting in small groups of two or three; or batch-painting the regiment but treating the command group as individuals, varying your approach can help to keep your painting time fresh and rewarding. +

+ Marvels of the Mechanicum +

+ The remaining Thallax [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] have been assembled and stand ready to receive some paint. The scheme's going to match Manderghast here [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] – that is, if I can remember how I tackled the robes to get that orange! +

+ The scuttling foot troopers of the Mechanicum bring me neatly on to something that I very rarely work on – vehicles. In this case, a particularly big task, as it's a Knight-class battle walker. Not quite a true Titan, this chap's still intimidatingly large. Having been sitting, accusingly unbuilt, for over a year as I build up the confidence to tackle something so big, I've finally started cleaning and assembly. +

+ Nothing ever improves your work like stepping outside your comfort zone, so I hope you'll follow along as I finally pull my finger out and get working. +

+ inload: Posing for effect +

+ conceptinload: Visual contrast – the Brotherhood of the Nine Winds +

+ The events of Little Horus, my favourite bit of Horus Heresy literature, focus on Dwell, where the Sons of Horus are assaulting a planet called Dwell, defended by a group of Iron Hands along with a few waifs and strays from other Legions – the prototypical 'Shattered Legions'. +

+ Alongside my Iron Hands (above), I'm planning to include a few White Scars – they have a prominent role in the Little Horus story, and they're a great opportunity to create some contrasts and visual interest in the army. +

+ Creating character through posing +

+ When approaching things like this, it's best to plan, test and refine. It would have been relatively easy to simply build the White Scars in the same way as the other marines, and give them a different paint scheme. This would have given a certain visual cohesiveness to the group (i.e. the army), but that's not what I'm after for this. I want the army to look like it's made up of slightly off-kilter bits – to look broken and reforged. +

+ To achieve this, I want to make sure that the different groups – Iron Hands, White Scars and others – have their own distinct look. For the Iron Hands, I've gone with solid, slow and heavy visual cues:

The Immortal

+ The example above is rigid, unyielding, loaded down with equipment. Even their postures are generally simple triangles – wide base for the legs, going up to a central point (the head). Together with fairly neutral poses, they look reactionary rather than dynamic. +

+ Contrast this with a (WIP) White Scar from the Nine Winds: 

+ Despite being made from very similar components, there's much more of a sense of fluidity and movement in this figure. The eyes is led around the curves, and the centre of gravity is higher. Less massive pauldrons (I've used rimless and cutaway pads) help to create a faster, more streamlined look. While the curved blade and Legion helm are distinctive and important, I hope that the effect would have been obvious even without these identifiers – they should act to magnify the result rather than as a crutch to create it. +

+ As a better illustration, have a look at the White Scar on the left of the image below. He doesn't use any of the techniques I've described above: he's got the same neutral pose and heavy pauldrons of the Iron Hands; and he lacks any White Scars-specific components. As a result, even when he's painted in the Scars' legion colours, he's going to be more anonymous and less eye-catching. +

+ This suits me well as the chap on the left is destined to be part of a mixed squad – an individual recon marine seconded into a remnant team – so he needs to fit in a little more to avoid the visuals being too disjointed. The White Scar on the right, meanwhile, is a Legion veteran who will be part of a dedicated White Scar killteam, so he gets the 'full works'. +

+ Building the White Scar +

+ The model is based – perhaps surprisingly – on a set of Death Guard legs, which are in motion. I think they're from the Grave Wardens, but I can't be sure as I bought them as bits. I've trimmed away the chainmail loincloth (this lowers the centre of visual gravity and is also diagnostic of the Death Guard, so it had to go to 'sell' the figure as something else) and sculpted a new codpiece. The torso is a Grey Knight Terminator torso carved down and resculpted, and the arms and hands are drawn from various plastic kits. The pauldron you see above is a Grey Knight Terminator one. I like the cutaway for the White Scar, as it suggests the armour is lighter, more open and better suited to the Legion when compared with the massive reinforced bulk of the pads I use for my Ultramarines, Iron Warriors and Iron Hands, for example. +

+ The sword is a trimmed-down eldar Wraithguard blade. The pauldron visible here is from the standard Terminator kits – I trimmed off the lower 'nubbin' and used a sharp knife to carve two horizontal lines across the pad, dividing it into thirds. I then used green stuff to build up a ridge above each line, and an angled file to create a gradient below. This creates the impression of the pad being made up of interconnected hoops. +

 + The result is (hopefully) a figure that looks in motion from any angle. Note that the open hand, head and trailing foot are all pointing in the same direction. Having his face mirror his forefoot would have created more of a sense of a full-on run or charge; I wanted him to look nimble and responsive rather than berserk. +

+ inload: Witchhunters of the Tallowlands

+ inload: The Subtlety of Witchfinders +

“It’s no stone. Samphire is hobbled. She won’t be carrying you further today.” Madczek looked up from the horse’s hoof. Ne’erwell’s pinched face screwed tighter.

“On the crossroads, too.” He pulled his cloak about him as he spoke. The wind was picking up, and the storm was coming in. “Whatever way you look at it, it’s an ill-omen.”

The rest of the group stood in silence as Madczek stood up, snapped his knife shut, and dusted the knees of his breeches. In the dim light, the group’s long capes made them look like statues, or temple-stones. Even the hounds were quiet tonight. There was electricity in the air; a sullen, bruised sense of expectation.

“A happening in this benighted place speaks volumes.” Ne’erwell intoned. “Dante, Plainacher.” The two stood a little straighter. “Lodgings. Find us some.”

“And the captive?” Madczek queried.

Ne’erwell looked over at Pendle, who grinned, his teeth glistening and wet. The sadist’s long, pale fingers ran caressingly up and down the wicker cage.

“Until those two find us a village or hamlet with lodgings, we’ll need warmth.” Ne’erwell declared. “The witch can serve in more than one way tonight.”


+ Dramatis Personae +

Left to right: Pendle Anderssen, Tobias ne'erwell, Marios Madczek, Fausta-Severia de la Saul

“Tobias Ne’erwell, Witchfinder. Not a man with a great sense of humour. Not much to him beyond his hatred of witches, to be honest. Why’s he that way? Some say his own kinder was a witchling. Not me. I know what’s gossip, and what’ll get you… disappeared.“

  • Witch Hunter Captain (60 GC) 20 exp
  • Sword (10 GC)
  • Light armour (20 GC)
  • Lantern (10 GC)

“Fearful. It’s not a word you associate with the witchfinders, but in its own way, it’s as staunch as courage. Shows a man who thinks. Shows a man who’s wise enough to jab a blade through his bed each night – just in case of monsters. Marios Madczek. An old associate of Ne’erwell; his old master, if you can believe it. Goes to prove the saying.”

  • Witch Hunter (25 GC) 8 exp
  • Sword (10GC)
  • Light armour (20 GC)
  • Lantern (10 GC)

“Pendle Anderssen. Notorious sadist. Notorious pervert. Good at finding witches, mind. You wouldn’t know him from the next man in the bawdyhouse. And if you think what goes on in your own house is private, you don’t know the witchhunters.”

  • Witch Hunter (25 GC) 8 exp
  • Hammer (3 GC)
  • Axe (3 GC)
  • Torch (2GC)
  • Rope and Hook (5 GC)

“That's Fausta-Severia de la Saul. Tilean. A fine shot. Nobility, some say. ‘Course, some say she’s a conartist, a highwaywoman and vagabond – no better than them she hunts. Not in earshot, though. Leastways, not more‘n once.”

  • Witch Hunter (25 GC) 8 exp
  • Axe (3 GC)
  • Dagger (free)
  • Crossbow pistol (35 GC)
  • Net (5GC)

+ Grubby henchmen +

Yes there are three here; and yes I did get carried away building them!
“Devotees of some dead god. Mad as a box o’ fish, both of ‘em. Don’t go near ‘em, don’t talk to ‘em. Don’t look at ‘em.”

  • 2 Flagellants (40 + 40 GC)
  • Flagellant with flail (15 GC)
  • Flagellant with flail (15 GC)

Samphire the horse is at the back. She's not part of the warband yet, but will (hopefully) be joining once her hoof heals (i.e. I manage to trade for a horse in-game).
“Fine trackers. Good manhounds. Strong as an oak beam and about as deadly if one falls on you.”

  • 3 Warhounds (15 + 15 + 15 GC)

Dante, Cosmo, Plainacher. I wanted to get a slightly hesitant look – hence weapons across bodies and hunched, closed-in posing.
“Wherever you find a leader, you get the dullards who follow. When you get leaders with funny ideas, you get zealots. One come in the public house over at Mensgrave – aye, just down the way. Came back every night for a week straight. Just sat and stared. Fair put the fright on the village. Came back Sallowstag to find the place shut; some learnedman’s writing nailed to the door. It burned the following week.”

  • 3 Zealots (20 + 20 + 20 GC)
  • Zealot with Hammer (3 GC)
  • Zealot with Mace (3 GC)
  • Zealot with Hammer (3 GC)


+ As part of the PCRC's Tallowlands setting, Lord Blood the Hungry is running a Mordheim-based campaign. I say Mordheim-based as I think the plan is to make the games more exploratory and open-world. He's created a mysterious town in the woods that we'll be exploring. +