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 · 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.

Drukhari · Warhammer 40000

The Nobility and Trueborn of Commorragh

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Today I finally get to share the big bad of my Drukhari army and his entourage of what were once known in the Dark Eldar codices of years past as Kabalite Trueborn.  Back when the Dark Eldar range was updated in 2010, one of the big draws (besides looking sweet AF) was how easily interchangeable bits were across the army, and it only made sense that individuals who held some sort of standing within Commorrite society tended to be more fashionable as well.

For the Archon, I found the helmets that came with the original, metal iteration, were a bit much.  Granted, this is 40k we’re talking about and over the top helmets are very much a thing, but the original Archon’s pose was a lot more subdued and stylish than the over the top, plastic one we have now and I just didn’t feel like those helmets fit the style I was going for.  By the way, am I the only one who finds the current Archon’s stock pose kind of ridiculous?  Especially when you imagine him charging into battle holding that pose, compared to the fluidity present in say the Succubus’ model.

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Speaking of style, the space pirate motif was one of the things that really sold me on the Dark Eldar, and this one particular head, which I believe was in the Wych box, fit that theme.  It’s a slight nod to anti-heroes in anime and manga, like Griffith from (early) Berserk, or rogue-ish, swashbuckling types in western fantasy settings.

He was also one of the first models I painted after my first box of Kabalite Warriors.  Most of it holds up I think, but as I’ve mentioned before, where my Craftworld Eldar and Orks all but begged for complete overhauls, my Drukhari (mercifully) were okay enough that they benefit more from just having details touched up on by someone with more paints, better brushes and several more years of experience…  Seriously, I don’t think I could stomach repainting another entire army.

As mentioned at the top, Kabalite Trueborn are no longer a thing outside of the 8th edition Xenos index, but models built as Trueborn still find use most commonly by tagging along in 5-elf Venom squads for their Blasters, which is what you usually took them for (aka Blasterborn).

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Trueborn, being higher class citizens in Commorragh, all but beg to have something that sets their models apart from rank and file Kabalite Warriors.  It didn’t take long for people to notice these cool, featureless helmets that came with the Reaver kit, and it was just such an obvious, yet simple conversion to do. The head swap makes them look pretty slick, even if you were just to paint the “glass shell” straight black and apply a gloss varnish over it. If you want to step it up a bit, you could do what I did.  Using thinned down paints, apply Incubi Darkness from about halfway down the glass and mix in increasing amounts of Temple Guard Blue the further down you go to create a gradient.  Then, if you want, use a very thinned down Baharroth Blue to draw a thin line around the bottom quarter of the glass.

A complaint I’ve heard for at least as long as I’ve been in the hobby, and relevant while we’re on the topic of Trueborn (though less, now that they’re index only), is how stupidly hard it is to assemble a single squad of elite weapons specialists when you only get one per box.  Even the fairly recently released Chaos Havocs, which are $55 USD a box, only come with a single Reaper Chaincannon, when some players may want four.

In the past, GW sold some heavy and special weapons bits to make up for this. Some models that carried specific weapons were even available in stand alone blister packs.  Now such options are not readily available without resorting to trading with other players, or if you play a less common army like the Dark Eldar, pretty much just eBay as they aren’t prioritized much by most online vendors.  Luckily, at least for Blasters, there is a fairly simple conversion involving the rarely used Shredders, and Blast Pistols, which weren’t very useful before 8th edition.  I also lucked out and found an auction on eBay way back when for 4 Warriors with Blasters.  2 were legit, 2 were pretty well converted; so while I did find my way around this problem and ended up with as many Blasterborn as I needed, it has always seemed like an unneeded annoyance for a hobby you’re already paying premium for.

Finally, here’s a quick look at some of them before and mid-touch up.  I was starting to feel like the bronze Blaster tips stuck out a little too much, and needed to look no further than the 8th edition codex for an example of one I liked.  In the model showcase section there’s a Hekatrix with a pretty sleek and simple looking Blast Pistol.  The metallics were still slightly visible under a black casing, and it just looked way more interesting to me.  After these changes, the models as they are are now just have a much colder and mysterious look to them.

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Before I go, I feel really obligated to shout out StrikingScorpion82 on YouTube.  It took me way too long to try and figure out how I wanted to paint this army, and the handful of test models that I tried mimicking GW’s heavily highlighted color schemes with just didn’t look great.  I might be able to pull it off now halfway decently, but at the time I was really unhappy with what my results, and if you’re not at least moderately confident in what you’re painting, your enthusiasm will run out real fast over the course of an army.

Anyway, StrikingScorpion82 had put out a handful of videos showcasing this very striking (no pun intended) color scheme for his Dark Eldar.  It was simple enough, and he goes into detail in this video. The main point of interest for me was getting that ghostly, bluish-green armor that he cited the cover of the 5th edition codex as inspiration for.  And to this day, it’s one of the most fitting color schemes for the Drukhari.  The amounts of wash and how aggressive I am with highlighting changed over time (and as the paints themselves changed), but the basic idea’s still the same:

  • [Base] Boltgun Metal (now Leadbelcher)
  • [Wash] Thraka Green (now Biel-tan Green)
  • [Wash] Asurmen Blue (now Drakhenhof Nightshade, thinned slightly with Lahmian Medium)
  • [Highlight] 2:1 Leadbelcher + Lahmian Medium
  • [Fine Edge highlight] Stormhost Silver

A few things to note is that Drakenhof Nightshade is a lot darker than Asurmen Blue, so it’s worth thinning it down, unless you want the armor much darker.  Also, adding just a touch of Lahmian Medium to Leadbelcher before you highlight the armor panels helps ease the transition between the washed armor, and highlights.

Until next time…

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…Fools.

 

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.