Drukhari · Warhammer 40000

*Clink Clink* “Kabalite Warriors, come out to playay~”

Finally, after over a year of starting this blog I can begin to present my Drukhari.  A big problem I’ve always had was getting decent looking pictures since this color scheme makes heavy use of dark, muted colors and whites that weren’t playing well with my older iPad’s camera and how I was lighting the models.  The pictures just ended up looking either washed out, or details would appear too dark.  Not only did I try a new lighting setup, but I also took the time to dig into the “Pro” mode on my (new-ish) phone’s camera, which is probably really basic by any actual professional standards, but allows me to tweak settings my iPad didn’t have.  I’m still familiarizing myself with it, but I think we have progress…

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I’ve built three boxes of Kabalite Warriors with the mindset that if they’re taken, they’ll probably be on a transport.  As an example, here’s a 10-man squad that I could take in a Raider, with a Sybarite front and center and a Warrior with a Splinter Cannon to the left.  Even though these models are coming up on a decade old, they’re still a huge reason why I love the Drukhari model range.  Compared to the old sculpts, they look less like 1980s Saturday morning cartoon villains and much more like the cold, ruthless space pirates they’re often portrayed as in the fluff.  Seriously, they just look mean.

I’m also a fan of how a fan of how easy it is to achieve dynamic looking poses with the Warrior and Wych kits, not to mention how interchangeable bits are across the entire model range.  Hell, with a little work, you can make “free” Warriors and Wyches from bits you get from the Venom and Raider kits.

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Here are two 5-man squads, each led by a Sybarite, that can be taken in a pair of Venoms.  I know you can’t take heavy weapons in 5-man squads, so consider them stand-ins for Blaster wielding Trueborn.  I just wanted to get more of my normal Warriors into a picture before moving on.

I had finished a lot of these models back in the early 2010’s, but having looked them over recently after a couple years of growth in my hobby career, there were a few things that bugged me that could do with some touch ups.  Nothing as drastic as a full army repaint like I did with my Orks and Craftworld Eldar, but having a more expansive collection of paints, better brushes and learning better brush control, I felt I could go back and make certain bits pop a little more.

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The most prominent feature that I felt could do with some fixing were their tabards.  I think my old method was something like Rakarth Flesh, washed with Agrax Earthshade, layered up to Screaming Skull and/or Pallid Wych Flesh.  Can’t remember exactly, but the end result was pretty dull, as you can see from the two “original” models on the right.  The two on the left were my first attempts at finding a balance between how much of the washes I wanted to show through.  Eventually I did settle on the following approach, which looks a lot more like flayed skin than it did previously.  Why you would want to wear that around your waist I don’t know, but Dark Eldar are gonna Dark Eldar I guess:

  • [Basecoat] Rakarth Flesh
  • [Wash] Reikland Fleshshade & Carroburg Crimson — I did these at the same time just to save time.
  • [Layer] Thinned down Rakarth Flesh, leaving the washes in the folds and recesses.
  • [Layer] 1:1 Rakarth Flesh & Flayed One Flesh, again thinned slightly to smooth out transitions.
  • [Highlight] Flayed One Flesh
  • [Fine Highlight] Pallid Wych Flesh

This helps create a really nice contrast to the ghostly, blue-ish green armor that I’ll get into in my next Drukhari related post. The bones by the way were simply Administratum Grey, with a highlight of Deepkin Flesh — colder colors that help them stand out from the now more earthy looking tabards.

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Another thing I wanted to experiment with, especially before I give my Wyches their own makeover, is tribal face paint.  I’m thinking very much the Pictish Warriors from the movie Centurion, especially Etain played by Olga Kurylenko.  It’s pretty basic stuff, but streaks of blue on pale skin does a pretty good job of making it pop a little more, plus I like the idea of there being something savage and tribal about the Dark Eldar, despite being all fancy and high society in Commorragh, or at least aspiring to it.

Kind of hard to make out in those pictures even when you click on them and enlarge, but the initial line was a thinned down Hoeth Blue, followed by the darker Alaitoc Blue.  Another shade(s) I had in mind was Ahriman Blue to Thousand Sons Blue.  Also no, the top knot guy doesn’t have any face paint.  He looks cool as is.

Phew.  Even though this blog is just a casual, side thing, it’s been bugging me that there’s been no Drukhari representation after all this time.  I’m glad I can finally share bits of this army.  Next up is the guy in charge — the Archon.

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Craftworlds · Warhammer 40000

[Repaint] Be Still my Walkers of War.

“The soul stones will be ours.  Then you shall have your revenge.”

When it comes to the larger Eldar models, War Walkers admittedly rank somewhere at the bottom for me as far as looks, but 24 S6 shots at 36″ was scary enough at the time for me to justify putting together a squadron.  While they keep that curvy Eldar aesthetic, unlike the similarly bipedal Wraithlords, they look like a stiff breeze from the side could potentially topple them over.  Can you imagine the poor Guardian trying to flip one of these back upright in the middle of a battle?  Granted, this being the Eldar, there’s probably some heretical xenos tech that allows them to not only stay on their feet, but do somersaults and backflips as they fade back into the Webway.

It didn’t help that assembling them was just not fun.  I don’t know if the batch of Citadel plastic glue I was using at the time was somehow defective (can that even happen?), but I had trouble putting together the cockpit on one, and the foot on another is no longer attached to the base.  Some of the ankle joints were really finicky too.  Real weird for glue which is supposed to fuse plastic together.  Incidentally a squad of Guardians I put together with that same bottle of glue would have pieces fall off real easy over time.  I’ve since moved on to using Armskeeper Maxi-Cure glue for plastics and haven’t looked back since.  It’s also about half the price and doesn’t smell as strong.  Incidentally, these were also some of the first models I tried magnetizing.

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As you can see from these pictures, my old approach of using Alaitoc Blue as a base and layering on Hoeth Blue looked especially bad on the War Walkers and gave them more of an unintended pastel tone, especially after a matte varnish.  I didn’t get around to finishing the gems at this stage since those get hit with a gloss varnish and get saved for last anyway.  Still, you get a good idea of how they looked before repainting.

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I tried to break up the Sotek Green with bronze metallics and black wherever I thought I could fit them.  I’m still not 100% happy with the result, but they are at least a little sharper after the repaint.  Also, using a bit of a thinned down Drakenhoff Nightshade around the bases of each gem helps make them stand out a bit more which is something I didn’t do with the original paint job.

I kinda wish I could go back and redo the black bits, since using shades of blue for highlights gives them a much cleaner look as is befitting Craftworld models that aren’t heavily weathered.  Varnishing them again would be a pain though since you’d risk fogging up the shield; a mistake I’ve made in the past despite my best attempts to wrap that section up in foil. This should be fairly obvious, but the black sections above were done as follows:

  • Base of Abaddon Black
  • Highlight of Mechanicus Standard Grey
  • Fine Highlight of Dawnstone

However, more recently I came across a method of painting black in the back of the Blackstone Fortress manual that’s used prominently on enemies wearing black armor:

  • Base of Abaddon Black
  • Highlight of Incubi Darkness
  • Fine Highlight of Thunderhawk Blue
  • Edge highlight of Fenrisian Grey

It helps that I’ve greatly expanded my collection of paints as the years went by because  Incubi Darkness and Thunderhawk Blue aren’t what I consider essential colors for any of my prior projects.  Sometimes it’s really just what you’ve got on hand that can dictate the direction your paint schemes go.

Craftworlds · Warhammer 40000

[Repaint] Wraithlords

These two were some of my first big models and were part of a limited-time “formation” that Games Workshop put out to hype people up for Apocalypse.  Two Wraithlords, five Wraithguard and a Warlock or two.  I thought they were some of the coolest looking models at the time, and if I remember right had replaced the old Wraithlord not too long before that.  It was a little intimidating, but I gave it an honest go.  Old picture, but you can see what they looked like here:

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I started getting a little comfortable with edge highlighting, and even cranked the freehand up a little bit.  Eventually, when it was the Wraithlords’ turn to get the repaint treatment, I decided white “helmets” complimented turquoise a lot better, as they did on the Guardians.  I even took another shot at some more subtle freehand.  The Wraithlord on the left was still mostly unchanged from the very first paint job, while the second one was more or less done (at the time).  Also note the Wraithswords were swapped (well, broken off) out since if I remember right, they just weren’t worth the points some time between 4th edition and 6th.  Got those magnetized just in case.

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Something was still missing though.  And after I had redone the entire army, I went back and changed up a few things.  I just wasn’t feeling the red gems.  Maybe I could’ve been more subtle with them, but it was just too stark a contrast.  So I eventually went back to purple.  Touched up a few details, like the bronze bits, and then came out with the finished product:

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As a side note, I’ve never been a fan of the process of building models to be honest, but one of the enjoyable things about the Wraithlord kit was how you could inject a little more personality into their poses.  I wanted one (front) to have a stronger, knightly dueling stance, while the other had a looser, more “informal” kind of stance.  Can’t really see that at that angle, but it’s leaning toward its imaginary opponent almost disrespectfully.

Anyway, it took awhile for me to settle on a shade of bronze that I really liked, but I finally found it with Sycorax Bronze.  It has a colder look to it than Hashut Copper, which I used initially.  Here’s how I got the result in the picture above:

  • Basecoat of Warplock Bronze
  • Two thinned down layers of Sycorax Bronze
  • Heavy wash of Agrax Earthshade
  • Heavy wash of Reikland Fleshshade
  • Layer of Sycorax Bronze on areas you’d expect light to catch
  • Chainmail as an edge highlight

Whenever I find myself bored, I might go back and repaint the Brightlances to match the Wraithbone color I started to use elsewhere.  Until then, I think these guys look alright.  I haven’t delved too much into the 8th edition codex yet, but in years past, they’ve been really eclipsed by the Wraithknight.  Hopefully they start to see at least moderate use again soon.

Craftworlds · Warhammer 40000

[Repaints] The (Dire) Avengers

Next up we have Dire Avengers.  If I remember right, they were my second squad ever, paired up with a squad of Guardians which I would learn were ridiculously fragile.  I mean, I knew.  But it took them keeling over and dying whenever my cousin’s Tau Fire Warriors gave a stern look in their general direction game after game to realize I probably wanted to look elsewhere for Troop choices.  Here’s the first squad of Dire Avengers I ever worked on, which at the time used to come in packs of 10 models for $30 USD.  Now $35 gets you 5.  Pretty painful, considering they’re only marginally tougher than Guardians.  Why, GW?

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Again, I tried going for a darker color scheme, opting not to use Ultramarines Blue which was the “official” primary color.  I think it was Regal Blue, with some of my first attempts at edge highlighting with Enchanted Blue.  The plumes on their helmet I believe were Bleached Bone.  And check out that freehand.  One or two actually came out pretty crisp.  The rest looked like cave drawings…

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I picked up a second squad of Avengers some time later and used more or less the same colors.  I got a little more comfortable with edge highlighting as you can see from the Exarch on the right.  Something terrible happened when I tried to varnish that second squad though:

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I think maybe it was just a little too cold that afternoon.  But when you see all those white specks on a model you worked so hard on, it’s heart breaking.  Luckily it was only 2-3 models, but was definitely another thing that set me on the path to repaint my army eventually.

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And as you can see, I decided to just go for Ultramarines Blue after all.  I actually still had an 8~ year old pot of Ultramarines Blue that was still completely usable.  Years back a Games Workshop employee turned me on to the idea of storing paints upside down so the paint at the bottom would dry and create an airtight seal.  Can’t say it worked for all my older paints, but it certainly saved me some money after a long hiatus from the hobby.  Much like my Guardians, the undersuit was based with Mechanicus Standard Grey, then the armor plates were done like so:

  • Basecoat of Ultramarines Blue (now Altdorf Guard Blue)
  • Wash of Drakenhoff Nightshade
  • Layer of Ultramarines Blue, avoiding darker recesses, or shadowy areas
  • 1:1 edge highlights of Ultramarines Blue and Hoeth Blue
  • A finer edge highlight of pure Hoeth Blue
  • Add a little White Scar to Hoeth Blue and apply to only extreme edges

The plumes on their helmets were inspired by The Soaring Spite Harlequin masque whose primary colors are an alternating blue and purple.  The purple was done with a basecoat of Xerus Purple, layered with Genestealer purple, washed with Druchii Violet, then overbrushed towards the tips with Genestealer Purple with just a bit of White Scar mixed in.  The technique was the same for blues, except it was basecoated with Alaitoc Blue, layered with Hoeth Blue, washed with Drakenhoff Nightshade, and overbrushed increasingly heavier towards the tips with Hoeth Blue and a bit of White Scar.

You might notice I also tore off the banners in favor of sheathed swords on the Exarchs’ backs, cause they just looked cooler.  And again, the gems are something I intend on giving some attention in the future when my painting backlog eases up a bit.  Anyway, I’ll go into how I approach white and brass in future posts.  Til next time.