“Murzon Kyro spent his youthful years lurking around the Imperial Fists Interests atop the Spyre and eavesdropping on every conversation he could. It is believed that from these noble warriors (or more likely their serfs) he first learnt of the Xenos warriors known as (according to Imperial classifications) Striking Scorpions. He became obsessed by the idea of them and would, years later, spend part of his family’s fortune obtaining weapons from the Van Saar, and toxins from House Escher, as well as developing his own body through clandestine methods to match the speed, armament and abilities of these warriors (or what he thought these warriors to be based on his approximations). This is what first brought him to my attention, but after the death of his brother, Arfiz, Kyro Murzon has descended into the Underhive looking for answers presumably, and as such, has slipped beyond the light of the Emperor’s Inquisitive gaze. He is now said to haunt the shadows of the crumbling depths, and is growing quite the reputation as a lethal entity.”
– Inquisitor Thor Henshu (Ordo Xenos)
Long ago, I attended a Horus Heresy and Necromunda weekender at which Andy Hoare did a Q&A and someone asked if we would ever see Xenos representation in Necromunda. Andy responded by saying, essentially that, Genestealers aside, no, they likely wouldn’t show up because this is a very Imperial setting. However, he went on, the idea that some Spyre brat has heard of the Aeldari, and wants to emulate them, is a viable one, though he wouldn’t have seen one so his efforts would be based on clandestine research and hearsay. All of that has been percolating in me for, I think, 5 years now (or is it 4 – 2020 ruined my sense of time-keeping) and this is finally the result of that – the Stalking Scorpion.
For a start, it’s great to be back working on Bounty Hunters again. I do love making them and it’s been a while. Secondly, it is amazingly satisfying and therapeutic to bring this idea to life after all this time. It has been scratching and gnawing at the back of my hobby brain for an age now, and it’s wonderful to finally exorcise it and make it a real thing.
It was such a fun premise to work with. What would a Spyre-brat who desperately wanted to look like, and fight like, an exotic alien do to make that a reality. For a start, he could afford Van Saar weapons and tech to enhance him. He might have done research into what a scorpion actually was, and found out about their venomous nature, so he would engage the Escher. He would have worked out, and dreadlocked his hair, and he would have found illegal information about how these aliens operated. Why a Striking Scorpion? Because they’re my favourite Eldar unit of all time.
So for this kit, I took the Eversor assassin and did some chopping and changing with a few Van Saar and Escher bits. I also had to make his locks and each one is a very thin strand of green stuff. I then used one of those weird spine things from the Van Saar and turned it into a tail because I thought Murzon would have seen those images of scorpions and presumed Striking Scorpions had tails. I used the Striking Scorpion colour palette and adapted it slightly for the grimy world of the Underhive and I ensured he’d have glowing red eyes because I just think that would look cool and the idea of gangers, hive scum and bounty hunters alike being terrified at the sight of those eyes in the dark was really fun.
There’s a shot of those dreadlocks for you. “Fiddly” doesn’t even begin to describe it. I also thought long and hard about how to emulate the Scorpion’s Bite, and that’s where the shoulder mounted needler comes in (which our bounty hunter here calls the “Scorpion’s Sting”). I like the idea that it follows his eyes and is slaved to the laspistol trigger. And the laspistol is there because I really didn’t think a Shurikan catapult would make sense in Hive Primus.
I’ve got a few more Necromunda Bounty Hunters in the pipeline so I’ll get round to them at some point. I think I’m now at 24 and I quite like the idea of at least hitting 30, but I’ll see how I go. I’m also now very much drawn to the idea of creating a Van Saar gang as their design (which initially I didn’t love) has really started to grow on me. We’ll see. Onwards!
Well, we all knew I’d have to try and tackle this one eventually, and while I’m relishing the challenge, the idea of doing a Lazy Painter’s Army List for the Orks is, well, daunting shall we say. This isn’t going to be an easy one, but I’m going to give myself a goal here. I am going to create an Ork Army list for 9th Edition Warhammer 40,000 with no more than 30 miniatures. I’m sweating just saying that.
I’m going to give myself another caveat with this one – I don’t have to try and use the new hotness. Normally, I try and work in at least some of the miniatures if a range has had a big revamp or addition, and while the beastly boys are now bolstering the codex (and they look awesome), having had a quick look at them, there aren’t many that cost too many points and so that will make my job next to impossible. So, using the brand new book that Games Workshop have kindly sent me, I’m going to make a Lazy Painter’s Army list for the Orks. Wish me luck.
We are of course taking big Ghaz. He’s a monster on the battlefield and he clocks in at 300 points which is very handy. And because Ghazghkull is in here, we can take the cheap Makari, who is an HQ choice in his own right, without taking up an additional HQ slot. That’s handy as we’re not going to be running a Battalion here and there are some other good HQ options here, though I can’t take anything else with the “Warboss” keyword because the big fella would smash him up proper. So instead, I’m going for a Big Mek with a Shokk Attack Gun, assisted ably by a Grot Oiler. I love that gun because it holds a true measure of Orky bonkers-ness and the current model is pleanty nice too.
We’re skipping troops choices because they’re just too cheap and I’ve already used up 4 on my minis with my HQ choices. As much as I love a good mob of boyz or grotz, I’m instead going to be taking two units of 5 Mega-armoured Nobz. Chonky as you like, all equipped with Kombi-Skorchas and killsawz, these units will look like a real threat and they might even be able to soak up some firepower from my enemies.
In order to keep the attention away from my big Nobz (don’t) I’m going to take a fully-kitted out Wazbom Blastajet. This’ll be rocking a couple of Supa-shootas, a pair of Tellyporta Mega-blastas, and a force field too. What’s more, I’m likely to make this a “Specialist Mob” which means he’ll gain the Flyboyz rule and this gives him a bonus when being shot at by always giving him the benefits of light cover if the person shooting at him is more than 6” away. Nice.
A nice big mob of six Warbikers will do for me, with the Nob rocking a Power Klaw. Along with the flyer, this gives me some fast moving things that will distract my enemies and cause havoc where needed. Bikers are great miniatures and so much fun to paint that I certainly don’t mind having a mob of six of them in here.
Yep, we’re taking advantage of the Orks’ great choices in the heavy area by making this a Spearhead Detachment. First off, we’re taking a Bonebreaka with all the fixins – so many that I’m not going to bother listing them here but this tank is packing some serious firepower and even a wreckin’ ball for good measure. Next up, a group of 3 Deff Dreads, each taking a Kustom Mega Blasta and some Rokkits to add to their firepower. And lastly, a group of 5 Lootas, with their boss rocking Rokkit Launcha. The lootas were pretty much the only thing I could sandwich in with the points I had left and I just like ‘em. I like them as much as my spellcheck hates everything I just wrote.
HQ: Ghazghull Thraka & Makari
HQ: Big Mek with Shokk Attack Gun & Grot Oiler
Elites: 5x Meganobz with Kombi-Skorchas and Killsaws
Elites: 5x Meganobz with Kombi-Skorchas and Killsaws
Flyers: Wazbom Blastajet with 2 Supa-Shootas, 2 Tellyport Mega-Blastas and a Force Field
Fast Attack: 6x Warbikers with a Power Klaw
Heavy Support: Bonebreaker with a Killkannon, 4 Big Shootas, a Lobba and a Wreckin’ Ball
Heavy Support: 3x Deff Dreads, each with a Kustom Mega Blasta and a Rokkit Launcha
Heavy Support: 5x Lootas with a Rokkit Launcha
Points: 1980 but you can use the 20 points on a Kustom Job (I like da Red Rolla for the Bonebreaker but you have options)
Model Count: 29! I did it! A 2k Ork army with less than 30 minis! 29!!
Army Name: Big Ghaz Comes To Town
Additional Stuff: So Ghaz has to be the warboss, and that means you want to take this army as Goffs. This means you add 1 to the Warord’s attacks, and each time Ghaz goes into melee, you can improve his ap by 1.
How it plays: To be honest, I don’t see this army win too much. Orks work great with big hordes of boyz and at least one of their Lords of War. That being said, an experienced player may well be able to get something out of this. The jet, bikes and Bonebreaker surge foreward and worry the enemy, while the Shokk Attack gun, Lootas and Deff Dreads unleash a lot of firepower. By the time your enemies deal with that lot, Ghaz, Makari and all those Meganobz will have had time to get up close and in melee, that lot will cause havoc, especially with Ere We Go helping to ensure they get into combat.
But like I said, it’s not a conventional ork army, so whether or not it works, is very situational. But if you want an ork army that doesn’t mean painting 60 boyz, this might be a good bet. And hey, if you want to work in some Beast Snaggas, it won’t be too hard, but it will mean more minis.
Do you think this ork list can work well? Is it possible to run a low mini-count ork list? Let me know in the comments below. And until next time, Onwards!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have seen the brand new Death Korps of Krieg miniatures from the upcoming Kill Team release. I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of the new Kill Team box and while a full review will come at some point, it’s important to acknowledge that the miniatures inside got me painting again. The Death Korps have always been a favourite of mine since I first read about them in Warriors of Ultramar many moons ago. I never got round to painting any, but with this box, I was determined to give them a go. What’s more, I wanted to come up with an easy and quick scheme to help you paint yours.
Before we dive in, I just want to say that the miniatures and scenery are worth buying this box for alone. Even if the game’s a lot of fun, the minis are fantastic. You get loads of options with the Death Korps and my bits box has swelled with spares after this, but the level of detail is exceptional. I would caution you that they could be very fiddly, but they don’t need to be – you get needle thin bayonets and a tiny rack of medals, but you don’t need to include those if you don’t want to. Can’t wait to see what can be done with the orks!
On to the tutorial. Like I said, this is meant to be quick and simple scheme but we want them to look decent too. And there is that odd thing about the Death Korps that they draw us to paint them like they’ve been transplanted from the early 20th century and placed in the 41st Millennium. My advice is to just lean into that because it’s pretty hard to do otherwise – why fight it, but maybe use the good guys as your source of inspiration.
We’re starting with the green coat here. When trying to do something quickly and simply, working from larger areas to smaller areas helps a lot, and this is quite fun because you don’t need to worry too much about staying within the lines. I didn’t. But I did use a couple of thin coats of Waaagh! Flesh to get a solid green base all over the coat. I then used Militarum Green contrast paint to cover the whole thing. Once that was dry, I took very, very thin (like super watery) Straken Green to highlight the higher areas. And that’s that done. Pretty simple so far, right?
Super easy this, but you do have to be neater with this step. Just paint the trousers. A couple of thin coats of Straken green were applied, then covered with Athonian Camoshade. Once that shade paint was dry, I touched up the higher areas with Straken Green and then used a blend of Straken Green with a little Flash Gitz Yellow in it to hit the very highest areas with a spot highlight. Why use yellow instead of white to lighten the green? It just looks a bit more military-y to me and white in green invariable ends up looking like a type of toothpaste.
Next up, the leather areas. There’s a lot of them, with pouches, coat flaps, boots, belts… so be sure to hit them all. Base with a couple of thin coats of Rhinox Hide, then drybrush lightly with XV88 before covering them with an undiluted wash of Seraphim Sepia. And you’re done.
Ok, this isn’t super quick and simple but once you get into the swing of things, it gets a lot easier. Base coat everything with Leadbelcher. Then you’re going to want to do a sort of TMM thing here but in a kind of quick and slightly sloppy way. Rather than explain that, I’m just going to link to this video from Ben Komets and Painting Buddha that shows you far better than I how to do it but you do not need to be anywhere near as neat as a Slayer Sword winner. The paints I used to help me were Iron Warriors, an Iron Warriors/Abaddon Black 50/50 mix, and then an Abaddon Black pinwash followed by a highlight of Ironbreaker.
Next, I covered most areas with a 50/50 mix of Skeleton Horde and Contrast Medium to make it look grimy. But a few areas (buttons, aquilas, etc) I used some Nazdreg Yellow straight out of the pot. And that’s all the metallics.
Yep, we’re nearly done. There’s a few little bits to do and then the basing. Paint the gas mask tube black and give it some grey highlights. Paint the eye lenses black and then cover them in Ardcoat. The wooden stock on the gun is Rhinox Hide with streaks of some other browns and beiges (your choice) covered in a thin coat of Agrax Earthshade. And that’s it for the finer details.
For the base, I used a basecoat of Dawnstone, with a few larger rocks picked out in Eshen Grey before washing it all with some Athonian Camoshade. When this was dry, I highlighted with Dawnstone and then Administratum Grey. The barbed wire was painted with Iron Warriors, then areas were covered with Typhus Corrosion before dabbing those still wet areas with Fire Dragon Bright. Ironbreaker was used to highlight the barbs.
Quick and Easy
What do you reckon? It genuinely didn’t take me long to do this, and if you’re batch painting the 10 of them in this box, this could be a very quick way to get them all done. Hopefully, at least one of these quick and easy techniques can be of some use to you.
The metallic step is a wee bit faffy but once you get into the swing of things, it really goes by fast. I’ve already started the batch painting process and as I’m usually incapable of painting 10 of anything, and I don’t want to just give up on them straight away, it must be decent enough, right?
I hope that is in some way useful and as mentioned I look forward to writing a larger review of this in the future. As ever, stay excellent. Onwards.
It’s a wonderful weekend in the hobby. There’s a new boxed set out of a new edition of the wonderful game that is Age of Sigmar, with some truly inspiring miniatures in it. I popped over to the Friar Lane store in Nottingham today and picked up my set. Very excited for it, and I hope, if you pre-ordered it, you got one too, and that you’re giddy with glee that you get to enjoy it.
With all of that being said, I find myself again at a crossroads in my hobby. I have slumped. I am as far away from being a good painter as I ever have been, and I’m not even trying to regain the stature that I liked to kid myself that I had reached. Why? The simple answer is depression, but for the longer reason, read on.
I don’t want to make a big deal of this – it’s really not my style. But I have been encouraged to share my take on the state of me as both a therapeutic exercise and, perhaps, a way to help others who find themselves in a similar storm-tossed boat. So I am writing this for both altruistic and selfish reasons, and I like that, just because of how contrary it all is. But I’m afraid in the next paragraph (or so – to be honest, the whole post is a bit of “purse dump”), I need to overshare and be a bit cringe – if you want an excuse to leave, that warning is the one you should take as a cue for your exit.
A little while ago I put up some very cringe-worthy tweets on Twitter regarding myself and how I believe I am seen as a person (think Quasimodo without his Esmerelda). These have since been deleted, as has the Twitter app from my phone and even tipsy-me knows not to venture to microblogging sites to air my feelings. Drunk-me thought a pity party would be a good idea. Sober-me was embarrassed beyond anything. Whether or not the feelings in there are true or not, it’s unlike me to voice such things. I’ve not microblogged since, and I apologise for any concern caused.
But it’s all wrapped up in a spiral within a whirlwind within a helix. A little while ago, I was working at GW. It was better than ok. On days, it was awesome. And I got lured away (which allowed me to start up this blog again, which is great) by “more money”. Years ago, I did the same thing, and I regretted it then as I do now – from now on that will never be the reason I change jobs. I lasted 7 weeks in the job I left GW for before I called an end to my probationary period. Why? Well, it was a combination of two things really. On the one hand, I had not realised the toll lockdown and working during lockdown had taken on me (and the whole pandemic “if I get it, I’ll likely die” thing played into it). I worked the whole damn thing, and while I’m sure furlough was no cake-walk for anyone, I battled on through the whole thing, and my workload shot up and the stress shot up and as good as I am at compartmentalising such things, there’s only so much water my weakened dams can hold. And the new job made me feel like a fool. I went to a very big company in Notts, and while everything they promised me in the interviews sounded great, it was apparent in 2 weeks that my vision for what I could do (that had been confirmed in those interviews) was, within that organisation, impossible to do. There were nice people, but the practices and working standards and the fact that I felt I had very much been conned into taking the job, made me quit during my probation. Oddly, I’m very conscientious – if I don’t feel I can justify my paycheck, I’m more likely to leave than stay.
All of that happened, and a whole bunch of other stuff was heaped upon my broad shoulders (some of it self inflicted) and there were more than a couple of daggers through my soul as well, and in the end, those darkened tendrils of depression and self-loathing and nastiness trickled into my hobby and so my fate was sealed there and then I suppose. I painted the best thing I have ever painted, and I grew to loathe it. Had not my hand been stayed by reason then and there, I’d have snapped my brushes and binned anything I couldn’t sell. That’s the truth of it.
But in the darkest times, there remained a seed of hope. Presumably my brain knew that I would one day want to return and try again. That day has not yet come, though it tosses in its slumber even now, waiting for an opportunity to ride forth into the light again. There is no light yet, but I suppose it’s all darkest before the Dorn(sic), right?
So I have been “funemployed” for several weeks. I’m very lucky really, in that I can support myself and that I have tradable skills that keep me from the poor house. What’s more I’ve been sensible enough and fortunate enough with my money that I am not panicked for funds even if there is little trickling in. But even with that, my conscientiousness doesn’t like that I’m not contributing. And that all bleeds into every area of me and what I do like an oozing poison. I would not consider myself a miniature painter right now. A reluctant yet still excited hobbyist perhaps, but I am not what I once was. And even though I chose the path I now walk, with every justifiable reason, and more than a few comforts that not many could call on, being a fool still hurts. Making the wrong choices still stings, and considering I moved my entire life up to Nottingham to do one thing and then, the idiot that I am, I threw that thing away… it still hurts.
And I was good. I painted several pieces before my demise of which I was hugely proud. My blending and glazing work was getting on to a new level, and my basing was becoming very sharp, and I was confident – perhaps over-confident – in my skills. If a Golden Demon had happened, perhaps, just perhaps, I might have snuck a bronze. Maybe. If several of the major players had been held up in traffic.
I’ve made no bones about that being my goal, and have said before that whether that takes me another 30 years, it’s still my goal. But then I painted the Skaven Bombardier (pictured above) and it all fell to pieces. Genuinely, it was the best miniature I had painted. I hadn’t relied on my penchant for ambitious freehand, I had played to all my acquired strengths and it was wonderful. I was so proud of the job I did. It was the last miniature I painted before I allowed my will, and psyche, and fragile ego to come crashing down.
So now I hate it. I love the miniature, and I’m proud of my paint job on it, but I hate it. Because it’s me at the best I can be but it’s not good enough. It’s everything I have learned and fought to produce and it still falls short. It’s the best thing I have ever painted, and perhaps the best thing I will ever paint, and it’s still not good enough for my own standards (as foolish as that sounds). Of course, the completion of this falling around the same time as the rest of my world being turned upside down (either voluntarily or forcefully) didn’t help. When one’s own ego is out to get one, all is nought. There is no light, there is no hope of attaining one’s goal, it’s all pointless.
Though I have grown since then. Slowly, my will to get back to that place is returning. I’m a long way from it, but everything is moving in the right direction. I have some freelance work coming up that I’m really looking forward to, my own business will happen soon, and I’m beginning to have fun painting as well. I’d like to credit Bobbie (@violetsun on Twitter) for some of that, though she doesn’t know it. Not only do I need to get my Heresy Vs Heroes piece finished for her, but I’ll be taking her on in my first ever game of 9th Edition 40k soon. I’ve got a list, and I’ve been working on my Necrons too – so excited to have a new army for 40k, especially as I’m not an Army Painter at all.
I guess the point of this post is to let you, many friends, followers, fans and well-wishers know that there has been a reason for my absence from the world, and that I will be back, but not any time soon. Also, to anyone else hacking their way through a dark forest, you need to know that there’s light. Don’t let your brain get the better of you for too long – down that path inky waters lie.
And if I’m being honest, don’t be brutal to yourself with a hobby a that should be fun. I set myself a high standard that I am still very far from meeting and I have to deal with that, but if that’s not you, don’t be tempted down that path. If painting toy soldiers makes you happy, hold on to that, and don’t let things change that. You’re awesome, and you’re having fun, so that’s what you need to remember.
I’ve also found other outlets that are not wrapped up in the pressure I place upon myself for painting miniatures. I’ve spent a couple of weeks working on fun projects with water colours and I’ve designed some t-shirts on commission and that’s making me feel great right now. Seems spending my creative time away from toy soldiers is doing me a great amount of good.
Lastly, I want to say thank you to all of the lovely people on twitter who sent me messages after my little outburst. I was dealing with some shit, and honestly, I didn’t get back to you because of embarrassment and not wanting to dredge through all of that shit again and make your lives any bleaker. Can’t promise you that I feel any better, but I can tell you I don’t feel any worse and that I’m sure, one day, I’ll be ok.
But until I feel happy and healthy and confident again, I’m still going to be a bit of a recluse on Social Media. Don’t expect me drunk tweeting about the music I’m listening to any time soon. I will be back though. I promise. Just need a little time and light and all will be well again. Until then, if you picked up Dominion, I hope you will paint many sneaky orruks and/or shiny Stormcast. I look forward to seeing them all. Be excellent to each other and please have fun as much as you can. Onwards.
There are many wonderful things to enjoy in the Warhammer hobby. Thanks to the different settings, the vastly different factions and armies, and the different characters, there really does seem to be something for everyone. What’s more, if you’re like me, and you like to sample a little bit from each area of the hobby (just call me Mr Magpie), there is so much there to thrill, excite, enjoy and it can be a whirlwind of different ways to play, different ways to paint and so much more. But as with too much of any good thing, eventually, the broad horizons can often mean that there’s too much of a trudge between points. Miniatures that once looked as if they were cast in glittering gold can fade into fiddly, frustrating finecast and laborious lead. You can be overwhelmed by obligation, and crushed by the pressure of the grey tide. It can all get too much, but I’ve found the magic colour – green.
Whether you call them Orcs, Orks or Orruks, I just wanted to write a post about why I love greenskins and everything that they have brought to the game and the painting desk. They are, to me at least, an oasis of perpetual enjoyment when I am lost in the desert of pressure, fatigue and overburden. They are honestly one of my favourite things about the hobby, and I’ve never even painted an army of them. Heck, I’ve only ever painted a small handful and they still find their way to my list of the best Warhammer things ever. And while they may have come from a different fantasy setting, over the years, within Warhammer, they have become something wonderfully unique.
I’ve got a few projects on the go at the moment, and for at least a couple of them, I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself. I want things to be perfect in my eyes and that can lead to a lot of time when I should be painting, spent instead worrying and debating with myself – almost a painter’s paralysis. One particularly tough project had me fretting, changing things, thinking I’d found solutions and then finding they caused more problems… it was daunting. So what did I do? I decided to paint something green and now my hobby block has gone and I’m constantly raring to go when I get the time to put paint to toy soldier.
But why do greenskins work like this for me? It’s a question I’ve pondered over several decaf black coffees today and I think it’s a combination of things that I will now elaborate on. I think the first point to make is that all greenskins from Snotling Blood Bowl teams to Ironjawz, from Grots to Mega Nobz, have an inherant sense of humour to them, both in terms of the models and the lore. Oh sure, there are some fierce Orruks and Orks, but even in those we can find humour. Gordrakk may look fearsome on his Mawkrusha, but just try and get the image of that fat dragon trying to actually fly out of your head and I’m sure you’ll at least smirk before it’s gone. They have a unit actually named “Nobz” for Mork’s (and Gork’s) sake!
More over, the humour is usually far more overt. From the gretchin being sucked into the Shokk Attack Gun, to the very idea of a Megatrakk Scrapjet, and to the entire cast of the Gobbapalooza. Tankbustas strapping missiles to sticks and using them as hammers, the gloriously gobsmacking guns of Flashgitz, that rumour that big Ghaz’ name is somehow a riff on Margaret Thatcher’s name… this list goes on. And I like that. I need that. The grimdark can get all too grim and far too dark sometimes and it’s just layer after layer of agenda and one-upping and that gets so dull so fast… and then there are the greenskins. They like fightin’. That’s it. So as well as being funny, they are also not too serious. Sounds like the same point, but I’d argue it was two.
From a converters perspective, they are a gift. Want to turn a Necron Monolith into a buggy? Do it. Want to turn that Dunecrawler into a helicopter? Have at it. Want to turn Nagash into some sort of Squig? …well, I mean if you can do that, I really want to see it! Some might argue that this is converting on “easy mode” but so what? It’s fun! And honestly, when you try and convert with anything else, it’s like you’re looking to create character, but with Or(ru)ks, the character is intrinsic. You’re simply bringing out what is already there rather than trying to implant something artificial. You are only limited by your own lunacy and I love that. Be mad, be free.
The lore is full of gems too, and I shall merely scratch the surface over this paragraph. From Gloomspite Gitz constantly tripping balls as they gobble up mushrooms, to the fact that Ork guns work because they put a bullet in a box with a tube on the end and they believe that’s what a gun is so of course it has to work. I adore the idea that Orks are keeping the Emperor of mankind alive because they believe him to be the biggest baddest boss in the galaxy and so he has to stay around – and their collective will is keeping his withered old heart beating. Humour, often so missing from modern Warhammer, has been allowed to grow and develop in the greenery.
And I will say this too – the game. Like I said, I don’t have an Ork army (which may be another reason why I love them – familiarity breeds contempt after all), but if i did, it would be a hundred Boyz and a load of big stompy shooty things, and I’d get to roll a billion dice and be fine with most of them missing. I’ve never come across an ork player who wasn’t fun to play against. Anyone who could literally use a shovel to pick up their dice for one round of shooting and expect to hit maybe 5 times, and does it with a smile on their face is aces in my book. Ork people are the best people.
That’s all the reasons I have to love greenskins. I’m currently having such a blast working on one of the Gobbapalooza and it’s bringing me so much enjoyment after a week of hobby-struggle. It’s so relaxing and pleasant.What’s more, it makes me smile because it’s bonkers. A real treat, and I hope you’ve enjoyed me extolling the virtues of going green every once in a while. Honestly, if you ever feel stressed out painting, and you want to have fun, pick up an Orruk, or an Ork, or even an Orc and have fun with it. Leave that confusing and frustrating project you were working on to one side, and spend a couple of days just having fun and giggling about “Nobz” – I promise you it’s an excellent tonic. In a hobby that can take itself too seriously by default, the greenskins remind you that you’re meant to be having fun. And with that, this little love letter is done, and I’m going to get back to my brushes. Onwards!
As lockdown winds to a close in the UK (I can actually go for a pint tomorrow!) I find myself in an odd and strange place in my life. I’m not going to give you a run-down of all my personal stuff that I’ve got going on (none of your beeswax) but in hobby-terms, I’m kind of in heaven right now. And yet, I find my angelic ideal with its wings clipped through only my own devilish shortcomings. And that’s what I want to talk about right now. A bit of hobby darkness that I find myself falling victim to too often – the pressure of painting, and everything that goes with the hobby these days. It might only be for me, but I’d be shocked (shocked I tell you) if it didn’t apply to you at least a little bit. Let me set the scene.
This blog is a testament to my progress when it comes to painting. Despite the 3 year gap when I was working for GW, it’s tracked a lot of my painting progress. And I have progressed – something I’m very happy with. When I started this, I wasn’t even edge-highlighting, and now, with some of the pieces I’m most proud of, I’m not even edge highlighting (that makes sense in my head). I’m actually at a state now where the miniatures I paint when i put my all into it, often surpass, one after the other, the best thing I’ve painted. That’s something of which I am very proud.
But I have fallen into the trap of late, mainly due to my own perception of how the hobby is perceived on social media, of trying to fart out basic stuff because i want the likes and adoration and attention. That being said, I find myself sat here disgusted at myself for trying to “keep up’ with the people who rely on this to give themselves a sense of value in the hobby. And that’s not a knock – if you’re having fun, and it works for you, it’s cool, but it ain’t for me. So, that beggars the question, what is for me?
Well, I make no bones about it, that I want to win a Golden Demon. When that competition returns, I will be throwing everything I have at it. And that may still not be enough. I may yet need to go back to the drawing board, especially after a year in which so many talented painters have had all the time in the world to master their future entries, but even if I get knocked down, I will get up again. You are never gonna keep me down *plays Chumbawumba on iTunes to psyche myself up*.
However, pushing myself to that extent hurts my love for painting toy soldiers. Last weekend, I spent 3 days pouring everything i had into painting a Titan Head, and it sucked the life from me. People think I’m being lazy because it’s taken me years to paint even a fraction of that huge model, but what I’m trying to do saps the life out of me. After a spell like that, I sit at my desk, look at my miniatures and I just think “No. I don’t give a shit about this. I don’t care one bit. Fuck it”. At which point, I walk away. To keep my brush hands going, I spent a week messing around with an old restoration project that I’ve since given up on, and while I’m moving on to the next thing now, there were points in the last week that I could have thrown my paints and brushes away. Hell, if that room wasn’t my hobby room, I could rent it out and make my mortgage payments from it. Sounds handy right?
That’s not really what I want though. But ain’t that the trick. What do I want? Why the hell am I painting toy soldiers? What’s the damn point of it all? These are important questions that need answering. Am I doing it to “get fans”? Am I doing it to make other people in the hobby think I’m better or best? No. Down that route fragile self-worth lies. That ain’t me.If it’s you, more power to you, but it’s not me. So why am I doing this?
And that’s when it hit me. I asked myself that question, stared in the mirror and the face in the mirror replied “because you like doing it”. And mirror-me was right. I love painting toy soldiers. Through all my 37 years, it’s the thing that has consistently brought me the most pleasure. Through everything that life has thrown at me, it’s been a peaceful and pleasing constant. What’s more, now that I’m in a good place and able to paint to a standard I’m happy with, and that I can use as a springboard, I can feel myself getting closer to my dream. It may still take me many years, but if I’m 65 and picking up my first Golden Demon I’ll be happy. I never stop trying because when I commit to doing something, I do it, even if it breaks me. I guess I can be stubborn like that.
So the pressure is there, but I don’t care anymore. There’ll always be that pressure to try and get more likes, and subscribes and followers, but I don’t care. I am in a ridiculously privileged position in that i don’t intend to buy a new mini for the rest of the year because my unpainted pool of opportunity (read ‘grey tide”) that i own is so wide and full. That may sound like a humble brag, but I want to type out, for my own benefit, what I’m happy about, and honestly, having all these minis to work on…
…feels great. I am lucky. And I need to enjoy that. And the only pressure that I’m going to feel is from myself. Make that blend smoother, make that contrast deeper, make that edge brighter, etc. I need to be my own hobbyist, and while I’ll always continue to encourage good hobby, I won’t ever compare myself to someone else’s efforts again. That’s for Golden Demon judges to do.
That’s my little rant fo the day. I actually have had a pretty rough time over lockdown, and while I have helped a lot of my friends through their own personal hells, I’ve compartmentalised a lot of the pain and horror that i’ve been going through, so now it’s time to let that out and deal with it as best I can. Which means I’m going to be pretty quiet on social media for a while. I think. I’ll be back, but I do find the whole thing massively unhealthy for me – it’s my nature to see it as a competition and I like winning and, well, there is no winning . Remember, if you’re going through shit, reach out to your friends and lean on them as you would allow them to lean on you – they won’t blank you and run away if they’re real friends. And if they aren’t, you won’t ever need them in your life. There are therapists, trained individuals who can help, or, if you’re like me, you can always fall back on alcoholism and self loathing. 😉 (that was a joke obvs).
But until we’re all back drinking in the bars and hugging each other again, I just want to remind you that you’re awesome and you deserve the very best because you are the very best. And I’m going to try and be the best me too. Onwards.
I love painting freehand designs on my miniatures and over the years, this has earned me a great many compliments. In fact, between you and me, dear reader, I sometimes repost photos of some of my freehand works to social media just to get the endorphin hit that comes with everyone telling me how wonderful I am. Even my ego needs stroking sometimes.
I often get comments along the lines of “I could never do that!” or “how is that even possible!?” and those too are wonderful stroking hands to my purring ego, but I wanted to write this post because I think anyone can do freehand and I want to help you and everyone else, if I can, to gain the confidence and skills to have a go. You should never feel you can’t do something, but we all need a bit of advice and help, and with that, you can do anything. I promise you, it’s not as tricky as you think it might be. So, as is tradition around these parts, I’ve done a nice list of things to consider and remember should you want to give freehand miniature painting a go yourself. Let’s dive in, starting with a cliche so old, I’m pretty sure it was scrawled under the artwork of mammoths in those caves in France…
Practice makes Perfect
Or at least, practice makes very good, and very good is usually good enough for even the goodest of painters. If you’ve never tried painting freehand on a miniature with acrylic paints before, I’ve got a friendly warning for you; your first attempt is probably going to suck. Mine did. Most people’s first attempts at almost anything in life suck. Sure, there are those freakish naturals (lucky bastards) who can get it right first time but those folk are as rare as a thing that is very rare (like a charismatic Ultramarine). Remember the wisest words Bob Ross ever spoke – “Talent is a pursued interest”.
Take my Mortifactors as an example. I painted 100+ skulls for that army because, much to my shock and dismay, the one thing Games Workshop hasn’t made with a skull on it is a Space Marine shoulder pad (no, Silver Skulls ones don’t count). And the difference between the first skull I painted and the last is huge. But I couldn’t have painted that last one, without painting the first one and then the 99+ that followed. You have to put the time in and practice. Just being able to get the feeling for how the brush moves, how the paint sits and builds, and how to bring what you imagine to life is a huge and vitally important part of this aspect of painting, and for the overwhelming majority of us, we need to put in that time. Rome wasn’t painted in a day. But where to start?
Where To Start
How’s that for foreshadowing? Start with the basics. Yes, you could just paint that chainsword red, but why not try giving it hazard stripes? Sure, that banner pole could just be yellow, but why not do black and white checks? Basic patterns (squares, triangles, lines…) are a great way to learn that brush control, and they can help set miniatures apart. Being able to just paint a straight line with your brush is a serious skill to develop and it’s crucial if you then want to go on to attempt more complex shapes.
Even leopard-print, which has garnered me much praise over the years, is far simpler than you think. In its basic form, it’s three steps: Paint the light brown fur underneath, then paint the little dark brown sort-of-circles, then put a dot of shade inside those circles and you’re done! But practicing techniques like this help you to gain brush control, and to think of your miniature, or a part of your miniature, as a canvas. And once you’ve got the basics down, you can push on from there. No one’s asking you to jump a hurdle from a standing start – that’s what the run up is for.
Also, I bet your bits box is full of shoulder pads, swords, vehicle doors… all of these are great for practice. If you don’t feel you can risk doing it on the miniature you’re working on yet, get something out and just practice on those and get comfortable. My bits box (well, technically, I have four bits boxes, a bits tub and a bits… crate (I may have a problem)) is full of half painted things that were used to test theories.
Remember Your Friends
We all need things that make our lives easier, and there are thankfully a couple of tricks we can perform when freehand painting that give us a cushion, while forgiving us our occasional painting sins. Weathering is a big one. My hazard stripes aren’t always straight, or evenly spaced. My checks aren’t always square. So scuff them up! Get them as good as you can get them and then add scratches and scuffs, patches of mud, blood, verdigris and rust. Especially when you’re learning, you want to be proud of your efforts and when you do this, yourself and others are less likely to notice the little follies and foibles, and you can be happier with the results too. Then one day you’ll get that really satisfying moment when you don’t want to weather any of it because it looks so pretty – that’s a great day. 🙂
When you’re painting more complex pieces, remember the art of washing and glazing. Every time I attempt something big, I will, at some point, make a transition between two shades that is too harsh. I’ll try and blend it out to correct it, but sometimes, especially when you’re working with minute amounts of paint that dry in seconds, this isn’t always possible. Do your best here, but when the job is finished, remember that you can dull the whole piece down to bring it all together and hide some of those transitions by applying a sympathetic glaze over the top of the artwork. A couple of thinned and evenly spread layers of Seraphim Sepia or Skeleton Horde are great for pieces that are meant to look older, but pick the colours that suit you and what you’re working on.
Tips For Complex Pieces
When it gets to the really complex things, I’m not sure there’s a formula that I can give you. You have to put in the work and work out what works best for you, but I can give you a few tips that worked for me. First off, work from dark to light. I often start most of my miniature painting at or around the mid-tone, but for freehand, I start dark and build to the light. This allows me to more easily frame the lighter areas and bring them up in tone – it’s like drawing all the outlines first and then colouring in. It also helps me to understand what things need to be what shade (“so in the [hypothetical] photo, that hat is darker than that coat so I’ll remember that as I’m building the colours”) and work towards what I know are the lightest tones I have.
Start off with those basic shapes you’re familiar with. Don’t try and paint a space marine. Paint the cylinders and rectangles that make him up first, and then, as you add highlights, keep reducing those shapes so that eventually they will start to look like a space marine. And don’t be discouraged when you look at it half way through and think “well this looks crap”. These things often do at that stage – it’s like seeing a half built house and thinking “well it’s not how the finished project was supposed to look”. Of course it doesn’t! Keep going and only judge it later when it’s very nearly done – this will give you the chance to make any fixes you need to make. And when you do judge it, be kind to yourself; we’re all learning this all the time.
Lastly, it’s worth remembering that patience is a virtue. It can take multiple days to get the image right, so don’t expect to do an hours work and then have a masterpiece on your hands. You need to put a shift in. A long shift. But it will be worth it. And honestly, between the peaceful therapeutic hours of painting, and the joyous payoff at the end, it’s just wonderful.
Like I said, I love the compliments I get for my work, but there are a lot of miniature painters who do it a lot lot better than I do. Check out the work by Richard Gray which has been blowing my mind for years. or if you want to see a top miniature painter do some amazing freehand in a video, Sam Lenz has some sweet stuff on his channel. If those guys intimidate you (and they shouldn’t because they’re both lovely, helpful people) maybe take a look at some of the more introductory freehand that Pete The Wargamer puts out into some of his excellent tutorials – Pete is great at giving simple advice that helps so many hobbyists (and, by the way, also a lovely human). There’s so much out there to be inspired by in mini painting, but it’s also worth looking at artists and illustrators that work in 2D as well. Maybe you’ll find the piece you want to recreate on that space marine’s cloak out there!
I hope this has been useful. You’re more than welcome to keep telling me I’m amazing – I won’t hold it against you. But I’m kind of hoping that one day I’ll be looking at your elaborate, perfectly executed freehand and telling you that my mind is blown. Of course if you then want to tell me that this article helped in some small way, leave a comment down below, then we both get an ego massage so that’s great all round. If you choose to take on the freehand challenge, I wish you luck, I hope you enjoy yourself, and I look forward to seeing your wonderful creations soon. Oh, and if you have any questions about the subject, find me on twitter or leave a comment below – I’ll do my best to help you out. Onwards!
Ok, so the first question I have is; do people even read blogs anymore? Seriously. My attention span has a maximum working time of about 5 minutes these days so- oh, look! A butterfly! Anyway, I’ve been out of the game for a while, and while I’ve been thrilled to see so many people head here through the years that I have been… unavailable, I still wonder if people are going to come here to see my hobby progress or if you just want name generators (not that there’s anything wrong with those and they shall all continue to remain available to you).
Either way, it’a all good. I’m thrilled to tell you that I’ll be doing some new name generators (eventually), and I’ll still be posting all of my hobby progress and theories and histories and all of that jazz, but things are going to change here. As well as all of that good hobby you enjoy, I’m going to be talking about board games, general sci-fi and fantasy, and maybe some other stuff too. Because I am so thrilled to be returning to blogging, that I just wanna talk about all of the stuff and many (if not most) of the things.
Where have I been? Check a couple of posts back. It’s been a wonderful couple of years or so, I’ve made so many friends, and I’ve had a blast, but honestly one of the reasons I left, was because I get to do this again. Which may sound weird, but blogging has always been one of my loves. I got to work in a great company, with a fantastic team for almost three years, and now it’s time to get back to what I love. And it’s good to be back.
So you can expect lots of cool stuff on here, but I thought I’d start with a quick recap of some of the hobby I’ve been doing over the last three years (not all of it – no-one has that sort of attention span). I’ve had an amazing opportunity to work on some great hobby with some wonderful people and here’s a showcase of some of my favourites:
The Mindstealer Sphira… Sphiri… Sphyra… Cat
Some Harlequins On Fancy Bases (that I built and painted back when I was doing this blog over 3 years ago!)
My Nurgle Mega Gargant
Another Contemptor (who may or may not be known as ‘Bob’)
A Very Well Concealed Bastil… Bastilla… You’d have thought I would have learned some of these spellings, right?
Big Dreadnought & A Plane (That’s how you get round the spelling issue)
And that is just the tip of the iceberg. These are the cool things I’ve been able to share while doing a very cool job at a very cool company (I know I keep saying that but it’s true!), but there’s plenty of personal hobby I want to share with you too. Over the next few weeks, I’ll pick out some of my favourite bits from the last few years. From a plethora of Bounty Hunters for Necromunda, to Blood Angels and a whole lot more (though that probably does cover most of it), you can expect a lot more on Heresy & Heroes soon.
In fact, why don’t we make a week of it. Let’s have a whole week of posts straight off the bat for you and I to enjoy together.
So until tomorrow, know that I’m back, I’ll be posting a ton of stuff, and I’m thrilled to be blogging on Heresy & Heroes again. As I always used to say, and shall again; Onwards!
Ladies, gentlemen, orks, t’au, and goblins of all ages, I present to you my finished Emperor’s Children Terminator vs Eldar Harlequin Solitaire Duel! Yep, it’s done, and I am properly pleased with myself with this one. There’s plenty to talk about, so let’s dive right in.
The first thing that my regular readers will notice is that there is no trailing monofilament wire looping around these models, and you’re right. Oh, how I swore. So many curses, screams and expletives. You see, the thing about really thin, fiddly wire, is that it’s incredibly annoying to work with. It also doesn’t hold paint very well at all. And, given the precarious nature of our Harlequin (and before you say anything about pinning, know that I very seriously looked into said solution and I don’t possess drills or pins thin enough), every time I tried to make an attachment of said wire, the damn thing fell to pieces (there’s no way this is making it to Coventry in one piece). So sod the @£€#ing wire. Just move on.
But does it need it? The hairy blood (ewww) works quite nicely, and there’s plenty of movement there already. I’ve also added blood, scraped paint and metal flecks to the end of the Harlequin’s Kiss weapon to illustrate the wound has been made by this weapon. That should be enough to give this duel motion and context.
In the end, I went with a star field pattern for the Harlequin’s coat. It’s a technique that I’ve used before that works quite nicely, and I gave it a few extra effects to break it up a little bit. I was thinking about going for a more intricate piece of freehand but it was just too fiddly a surface and I didn’t want to do anything that would have looked too forced. And I avoided painting a diamond pattern because I’m not very good at standardised patterns and that one looks rubbish if you get it wrong. The trailing, shiny diamonds will do.
The Solitaire was a lot of fun to paint actually, and I’d have no issue doing a star field themed Harlequin army in the future if the mood ever takes me. The face of the Solitaire wasn’t nearly as fiddly as I thought it would be, and there was some fun to be had with the jewels and gems on this model. There are lots of little details on here, and bar a couple of lines that I may tidy up before he goes off to the show, I’m quite happy with this guy and his contribution to this scene.
The terminator has just the amount of movement that I wanted – slow to react to the lighting fast attack that has just gutted him, he’s staring over at the Solitaire, still aiming in the wrong direction, not yet able to raise his heavy power fist to meet his assailant. Meanwhile the Solitaire is already bounding off to meet his next victim, or perhaps get behind the terminator to stick him in the back as well and finish off the job. I may add some text to the base of this piece that reads something like “In the dance of light, the shadows stand as statues…” or something like that. It might help to illustrate things a little more.
I added a hidden rat too, just to make something a little more interesting on that side of the model, though hopefully the eyes will be drawn to the shoulder pad far above the rat – that’s still the bit of this model that I like the most. There’s also some light weathering on both models, and I’m quite happy that I only added a little bit of dust to the Harlequin’s toes to illustrate that he has been sprinting and dancing lightly on his feet.
And that’s about it really. You’ve seen all the WIPs over the last couple of weeks. I need to start work on my next project which I’ll hopefully get round to tonight. Of course, you’ll see all of that on H&H, so keep your eyes peeled for that work. From a very snowy London, I hope you’re keeping warm and getting plenty of painting and gaming in. Onwards!