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 · 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] Negavolt Cultists and Rogue Psykers

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Here we are almost nearing the end of the hostiles for Blackstone Fortress.  The Negavolt Culstists were one of the standout hostile models for me for a few reasons.  As far as I know, this is the closest thing we’ve seen to a representation of Dark Mechanicus in model form in the past couple decades, if ever at all.  It’s also just a really cool model.  The Adeptus Mechanicus could already easily be portrayed as an evil faction, corrupted by their obsession with machines in many other fictional universes, but this being 40k, you can always take it a step further.

Well, they took it a step further.  The whip-like tentacles coming out of their skulls, metal plates giving only the basic outline of a human face fused to mask their actual faces give even Electro Priests a bit of a run for their money when it comes to the creep factor.  Much like the Traitor Guardsman, there is a bit of a scavenger vibe to them as well that I like, and the power coils on their backs wouldn’t look out of place at all on an Ork Mek.

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Speaking of the power coils, I saw them as a great chance to practice object source lighting, aka OSL, again.  I wasn’t a fan of the orange coils Games Workshop used in the official paint schemes, so I went with good old blue plasma.  Warhammer TV has a basic tutorial on how to paint the plasma on plasma guns, and that’s a good starting point.  To sum it up:

  • [Base] Kantor Blue
  • [Layer] Teclis Blue
  • [Layer] Baharroth Blue on the raised coils
  • [Layer] Thinned down White Scar in patches around the raised coils to give it a more white-hot look

Next, if you’re going down the OSL route, you’re going to want to have the metal done first, as the glazes are meant to be applied over them.  The metal’s nothing special — the same technique you’ve seen a thousand times:

  • [Base] Leadbelcher
  • [Wash] Nuln Oil
  • [Wash] (Optional) Agrax Earthshade — helps break up the uniformity when applied to parts, (example: the shaft of the batons).
  • [Highlight] Leadbelcher
  • [Edge Highlight] Stormhost Silver

With that done, you’ll be thinning down Teclis Blue pretty heavily with Lahmian Medium, at least 2:1, to create a glaze.  You want to build this up slowly on the metallic surfaces where light from the coils would catch.  Remember, you can always add, but you can’t subtract — at least, not without a lot of effort.  Next, do the same with Baharroth Blue, but bring it in a little closer to the light wherever the light would be stronger.  I also used Stormhost Silver to reapply an edge highlight to the metal, but you could try playing around with White Scar as well.

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I don’t have much to say about the Rogue Psykers but here they are.  They were only a little more interesting to paint than the Traitor Guardsmen, but the callback to the old Daemonhost model, being shackled to weights, was a nice touch.

A lot of the techniques used on these guys I’ve already detailed in other entries, like the fur pelts which also appear on Traitor Guardsmen and the flesh which I took a very similar approach with as the Chaos Beastmen.  I wanted a bit more of an unnatural tone to their skin and didn’t want to just make them look pale like the Negavolt Cultists.

Next up for Blackstone Fortress, the Black Legion Marines and Obsidius Mallex.

Blackstone Fortress · Boxed Games · Warhammer 40000

[Blackstone Fortress] Chaos Beastmen and Small Tweaks Making a Difference.

Work continues on Blackstone Fortress despite a lack of blog entries.  After finishing the Traitor Guard, I decided I wanted to start working on some of the more unique models found in this set, starting with the Chaos Beastmen.  These actually weren’t too bad, as a lot of the colors combinations I just lifted from my Traitor Guardsmen, and if there’s one thing that slows my painting down to a crawl it’s trying to figure out color schemes on the fly.  Indecision is really one of the banes of my hobby life.

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Much like the official paint schemes I made heavy use of blacks and greys with spots of red and earthy colors to break things up.  The only thing that really took a bit of experimenting on was the flesh.  …And somewhere in Commorragh a Haemonculus just cackled.  Anyway, what I settled on was this:

  • Basecoat of Rakarth Flesh
  • Wash of Reikland Fleshshade
  • Layer in slightly thinned Rakarth Flesh leaving the wash in the recesses alone.
  • Build up the previous layer with Flayed One Flesh thinned down with Lahmian Medium.*
  • Mix Flayed One Flesh and Pallid Wych Flesh 1:1 and highlight the contours of muscles, fingers, raised areas of the face, etc.
  • Fine highlight of Pallid Wych Flesh on the most prominently raised areas like the tips of the ears, just above the eyebrows, knuckles, etc.

As a quick note (*), I found the transition from Rakarth Flesh from Flayed One Flesh to be more harsh and unnatural looking than usual, so thinning the paint down with some kind of medium to build up this layer is important.  Regular water doesn’t really thin the paint down in a way that gives us the result we want.

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And a WIP image with the first test model front and center.  One of these days I’m really going to have to figure out how to take better pictures, since as this blog has gone on I’ve noticed how inconsistent the lighting can be.

Finally, as you might have noticed, the bases on the finished models look a bit different.  I initially went with a very basic, shades of grey color scheme with splotches of Gryphonne Sepia to add a bit of flavor.  And those look fine when you add a bit of flock to them — it’s basically how I do a lot of my Craftworld Eldar bases, except maybe I went a little too heavy on the white with these.  Anyway, they don’t look right on these models and it’s been bugging me since I started painting them.

Luckily I stumbled across this tutorial on How to Paint Shyish Themed Bases on YouTube by Xenus Minis.  The change is small, but made enough of a difference I felt compelled to go back and redo all of the bases on my Blackstone Fortress models.  You start with Mechanicus Standard Grey as usual, but when you shade with Nuln Oil, you use patches of Nighthaunt Gloom as well to create an eerie, otherworldly glow.  A small detail, but very fitting for the setting.

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Where I deviated from the video was going heavier on the Nighthaunt Gloom, and instead of drybrushing with Rakarth Flesh and Pallid Wych Flesh, I used Dawnstone and Administratum Grey.  Rocks were painted with Dawnstone, given a wash of Coelia Greenshade, then drybrushed much like everything else.  I also used Ulthuan Grey to pick out edges on rocks to make them really stand out, and sparingly in patches on the ground just to add some variation.  Above, you can see the test base on the left, and a after a bit of practice, where I kinda settled, on the base of my WIP Kroot Tracker.

That’s it for now.  Negavolt Cultists and the Rogue Psykers are next.