Chaos · Slaanesh · Warhammer 40000

Starting a new Army — The Hedonites of Slaanesh

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It’s a little funny when you think of someone who started their Warhammer career as an Eldar player before going all in on Dark Eldar eventually “falling” to the temptation of building a Slaaneshi army, but here we are. After finishing Blackstone Fortress I had hoped to put a lot of time into Kill Team (and later Warcry) related projects, but those were sidelined by the growing number of Slaanesh models I found myself accumulating.

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When the Wrath and Rapture box set came out, the prices for a lot of the models in the set, especially older ones, were driven down as you might expect. Initially, I picked up a single squad of Daemonettes with the intention of painting them as a one off project, but seeing how cheap some people were selling off the Slaanesh half of that box, I figured why not assemble a modest 500-750 point army. It wasn’t too long after that we got hit with the Hedonites of Slaanesh release, and in addition to the new Fiends and Infernal Enrapturess we already got, we saw some sick new models like Syll’Esske, The Contorted Epitome and mercifully, a completely redesigned Keeper of Secrets.

And so I was sold. Part of me does wonder how many armies have been started with a single squad and the owner thinking, “Okay, just this one and nothing else…”

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At the moment, everything I’m posting is a work in progress. I’m still finalizing some colors, since I want as much uniformity across the army as possible. I will say that one of the nice things about starting a completely new army is being able to switch over to a color palette — in this case greys, purples and pinks — that you don’t normally work with much otherwise.  My earliest stumbling block however, was just finding a skin tone for Daemonettes that I’d be happy with. And I better be happy with it because I’d be painting it at least 60 times over. My initial attempts were much more purple than the slightly off-grey that you see in the official Daemonette paint job, but I eventually did settle on a method. Something I’ll go into in a future post.

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Another opportunity working with this army gave me was the chance to really put Contrast Paints to the test. This is really just a side project at best and I would eventually like to get back to the multitude of other projects I have lined up sooner than later, with as little burnout as possible. And you know what? For the amount of effort I put into the Seekers above, I would say that Contrast Paints absolutely do what they were meant to do, and then some. Really happy with the result.

Anyway, with all the new great additions to the range, I probably wouldn’t be making this much of an investment into this army if it wasn’t compatible with both 40k and Age of Sigmar, the latter of which I’ve been toying with the idea of dipping my toes into for awhile. Apparently, Hedonites are a really strong army at the moment too, which is always nice. These, combined with the growing stockpile of Sylvaneth models — which will sadly accumulate dust for the forseeable future — means that I’m finally onboard the Sigmar train.

After dragging my feet early on, I’ve finally made decent progress over the past few months finishing 30 Daemonettes, 10 Seekers, an Exalted Chariot, the Infernal Enrapturess and Syll’Esske. I’m just waiting on the weather to warm up a bit so I can varnish them and base them properly. After that I’m still looking at two Daemon Princes, a Contorted Epitome, 30 more Daemonettes, 3 Fiends, The Masque and of course a Keeper of Secrets. Whew.

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I’ve got my work cut out for me. Somewhere in the middle of all that, I’ll probably find some time to crack open the Warcry starter because I’ve been itching to get started on that for awhile now.

Blackstone Fortress · Boxed Games · Warhammer 40000

[Blackstone Fortress] The Explorers (2/2)

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Finally we’ve reached the end of Blackstone Fortress and it’s only fitting I saved what ended up being my favorite models for last. Starting with Janus Draik, arguably the main character of the game if there was one, I opted to keep his color scheme as close to the official paint job as possible. A lot of the colors and techniques for things like his coat, the pelt draped over his shoulders and his skin tone I’ve already gone into in previous blog posts, so I don’t have much to say except that I love the pose and the cigarette is a nice touch.

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I actually stalled out on Dahyak Grekh, the Kroot Tracker, for awhile. I spent a few days trying to find a skin tone that I felt would fit the gloomy atmosphere of Blackstone Fortress, since the official paint job was a little too warm of a green. None of the stock Citadel paints seemed to serve as good jumping off points for what I was looking for, and there actually weren’t many paint jobs online that were inspiring me either.

It wasn’t until I came across this one guy’s Instagram account. His take on the Kroot skin tone was more inspired by the old school paint jobs you would’ve seen in the early 2000s, and just nailed that cold look I was going for. He was nice enough to give me some tips, but being that this was well over half a year ago, I’m struggling to remember how I ended up doing it. Something like mixing Administratum Grey with Ogryn Camo to start, then mixing in Abaddon Black to shade, and progressively more White Scar to highlight. There was a lot of improvisation that I don’t think I would do if I were trying to copy the technique over multiple troops, but since this was a one off, it was nice to try something different.  Anyway, shout out to IG: dweeziedie from Stockholm Warpaint for the advice.

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And last but certainly not least, Amallyn Shadowguide. I was pretty much obligated to paint her armor in the colors of my “home” Craftworld, and not just because her Biel-Tani iteration was, again, too bright to fit the mood I was going for. The only thing I took from her original paint scheme was the rifle, since it was dark and sleek, but still ornate enough to stand out. It’s also kind of a character on its own, just like Pious Vorne’s flamer.

Her cloak was just a random pattern of jagged shapes using Abaddon Black, Mechanicus Standard Grey, Dawnstone and Administratum Grey to highlight certain shapes. I feel like I could have done a better job, but the camo ended up being understated enough in a way that I liked. Happy accidents and all that.

It was kind of nice being able to close out this box with an Aeldari model after painting so many non-Eldar. Though admittedly there is still a UR-025 sitting around. I might try experimenting with some Contrast Paints, but after finishing Amallyn, I’m just about ready to call this project done so I can finally play the damn game.

On to the next.

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“Go on. I’ve got your back…”

Blackstone Fortress · Chaos · Warhammer 40000

[Blackstone Fortress] The Black Legion

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Between all the models that come with the Blackstone Fortress set, the trio of Chaos Space Marines ranked high among ones I looked forward to working on.  If I remember right, this was actually where we got our first taste of the makeover that the CSM would be receiving deep into 8th edition and I was pretty impressed with what I saw.  Maybe it’s all the gold trim or the way the warp has corrupted their armor, but there’s an arrogance and a meanness about Chaos Marines that I find appealing, and the updated models we saw this year just really (war)hammer those traits home.

Incidentally, one of the earliest projects I ever worked on was a squad of Chaos Space Marines done up as Black Legion — back when you could get a box of 10 marines for $30 USD.  The thought of fleshing out the battleforce box that they came in into a full on army has always been there, but I always found myself opting to pursue other factions instead.  Still, having a chance to work on these newer models was an opportunity to try my hand at painting Chaos Space Marines for the first time in maybe a decade and a half.

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Going into these models I knew the biggest and most time consuming challenge was going to be highlighting all the panels on the power armor.  You can definitely make things easier on yourself and just drybrush them with a shade or two of grey before doing other details, but to get that really dark, clean look that goes amazing with gold armor trim, there’s really no shortcut.  I followed the same technique I’ve been using throughout the Blackstone Fortress models for black armor, just now it’s being applied on a model from head to toe, literally.

Over a basecoat of Abaddon Black, begin by applying a generous highlight of Incubi Darkness to everything that’s going to be lined.  It doesn’t stand out much, but it does a lot to smooth out the transition from black into brighter colors when all is said and done.  Next, apply increasingly selective highlights of Thunderhawk Blue, Fenrisian Grey and finally Ulthuan Grey.  As always, Lahmian Medium is a better way to thin down these paints than water, and thinning them down is something you ought to be doing.

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As for the gold trim itself, it’s a detail that I find much more eye-catching on newer models.  Part of it is the crisper details they’re able to achieve on modern sculpts, but there’s also a very distinct look that you you’re able to pull off with the introduction of paints like Retributor Armor and Liberator Gold — at least for those of us who only really stick with the Citadel range.  Thanks to those paints it’s easier to achieve a stronger gold, and as a result Black Legion stuff just really pops.  It’s no wonder they became the poster boys for Chaos again when it came time to push out the newer model range.  Well, that and the fact Abaddon was getting a new model.  Either way, Death Guard had more than enough time in the spotlight, and Crimson Slaughter never really caught on.

Anyway, here’s more or less how I went about doing the gold:

  • [Basecoat] Liberator Gold
  • [Wash] Multiple of Agrax Earthshade to achieve a dark, dirty gold
  • [Wash] Spots of Nuln Oil around rivets
  • [Highlight] Pick out details and some flatter areas with Liberator Gold to bring back a shine
  • [Fine Edge Highlight] Stormhost Silver

A few examples I saw often had the trim on the shoulder pads a slightly different shade of gold, so I used a basecoat of Retributor Armor for those instead.  Otherwise the process was pretty similar to what I just outlined above.

I’m fairly happy with how they turned out, and while I’d love to own a Black Legion army I don’t think I have the patience to paint several squads in this style.  That said, a Kill Team wouldn’t be entirely out of the question.  Also, one of the things I sorta threw my hands up with was the cabling that runs around a lot of Obsidius Mallex’s model.  I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be mechanical, organic or what, and I just had no idea what to do with it.  I would have greatly preferred if he just had a more “traditional” suit of warp corrupted Terminator Armor, because whatever is going on with his looks dumb.  Other than that, these are some nice, intimidating models for some of the biggest threats you’ll face in the Blackstone Fortress.

Blackstone Fortress · Boxed Games · Warhammer 40000

[Blackstone Fortress] The Explorers (1/2)

Now on to The Explorers.  I painted these guys in roughly this order, from models I thought would be more straight forward to paint or characters I wasn’t as invested in, to ones I knew I’d want to spend a little extra time on.  This first of two entries will cover the former — and that’s not to say I disliked these models or anything, since I was really happy with how Espern Locarno and Pious Vorne turned out.

As a disclaimer, it’s been awhile since I put these models away and I’ve had to put the blog on hold for awhile too, so my memory might be a little hazy on some details.  Bear with me.

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Espern Locarno was the very first of The Explorers I worked on.  At this point, coming up on the end of the Blackstone Fortress box,  I was just excited  at the prospect of painting more than just blacks, reds and variations of grey that comprise so much of the hostiles in the game.

For most of The Explorers I didn’t feel the need to stray much from GW’s paint schemes, and for Locarno in particular there was a nice little video on Warhammer TV that provides a bit of a jumping off point for the purple on the cape and robes.  To sum it up, base the outer cape with Naggaroth Night, then build on that with Xerus Purple, Genestealer Purple, and highlight with Warpfiend Grey. For the robes, base with Xerus Purple, and progress through the previous colors, but a bit more liberally to create a brighter purple.

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Painting Rein and Raus isn’t much different than painting a Cadian Guardsman — one that’s been dipped in glue then rolled around in your bits box.  I’m generally not a fan of really “busy” models because of how much they slow down the painting process, but there is something to be said about the amount of detail GW is able to cram into plastic kits these days.

Despite their size, the Ratling twins are carrying a lot of crap, and their knapsacks, mini-fridges, leather pouches full of snacks, etc. I just found tedious to paint.  As long as they’re not rank and file troops, I guess I can stomach the odd HQ or character models done in this style, but the twins still came out as my least favorite of The Explorers to paint.

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Next was Taddeus the Purifier who, next to Rein and Raus, was probably my second least favorite explorer to paint, but not because of the model.  The model’s neat and so is the official paint job, because that’s pretty much how I’d expect the Space Pope to look.  Actually, the problem was just me and not feeling like I did a very clean job on this model.  The face just doesn’t stand out enough and some of the reds on the robe look less crisp than I would’ve liked.  At some point I just decided it’d be better to keep it moving and shift my focus to the next one.

Oh, and my approach to his pajama robes were as follows:

  • [Base] Zandri Dust
  • [Layer] Ushabti Bone
  • [Wash] Seraphim Sepia
  • [Layer] Ushabti Bone, leaving the wash in the folds or where shadows would fall
  • [Layer] Mix increasing amounts of Screaming Skull into Ushabti Bone
  • [Highlight] Pallid Wychflesh

As always, Lahmian Medium is useful to thin paints down and create smoother transitions between colors versus plain water.

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Finally, Pious Vorne.  Despite the drab colors, she was fun to paint.  She was also an interesting example of just how different black can look when highlighted with different but similar colors.  For example, a highlight of Mechanicus Standard Grey followed by a fine highlight of Dawnstone gives her black armor a cleaner appearance, as opposed to her dusty leather gloves which are highlighted with Eshin Grey and Stormvermin Fur.  The effect isn’t as noticeable in the pictures, but is something worth remembering and keeping in your bag of tricks to use on models with a lot of black, especially when they have a mix of metal and leather.

Finally, I couldn’t resist the urge to paint hazard stripes on her Vindictor, since the thing is so over the top it’s almost a character in itself.  For those I followed the same method I used to paint yellow for my Orks that I detailed awhile ago.  It’s eye catching on an otherwise subdued model.

That’s all for now.  Next up are the Chaos Space Marines and the big bad, Obsidius Mallex, then finally the other half of The Explorers as the conclusion to my series on Blackstone Fortress.  Hopefully in a few days as opposed to a few months this time.