“What land is this?” Barakros watched as the golden colour of his armour drained away to nothingness. Flecks danced in the dull, blood-tinged light, glittering as they spun away from him.
Long shadows fell before him and he looked to see his own kind. Great warriors of Sigmar, strode silently towards him. It was only as they drew closer he saw the rust and grime of their armour. Bare metal, streaked with grease and splashed with now dry blood. Upon their shields, a lone black star.
“Brother? What land is this?” he asked again.
“State your name” the only forthcoming reply.
“Barakros. Liberator of the-“
“Liberator is fine. You are no longer part of any other host. Quickly now, present your shield”
The stranger took from a worn leather pouch at his waste a brush, like one might use for painting decorations upon the walls of a home, and moved it over Barakros’ shield. A sticky black substance traced the black star upon the face of it, and moments later it was applied to the shoulder of his star-forged armour.
“The symbol will protect your armour. It stops it from being lost to the chill winds of Ulgu where you now stand. You are one of us now. We are the unreturned. We are those whose Sigmars voice could not reach, and whose lightning could not summon back to our home. We are the Ashen Stars, and we have use for a warrior like you…”
That’s the idea that started the Ashen Stars. When I first moved up to Nottingham, I received a “Start Collecting!” box of Stormcast Eternals and if I’m honest, I had very little interest in doing much with them. I think they’re a really fun faction, but they never really caught my imagination. That and I’ve never really enjoyed painting gold – just got a bit of a blind spot for it. Of course, gold isn’t a necessity, but I suppose, the way they were presented, I never really found a soft spot for them.
And I didn’t know too much about the lore either – something I would learn more about later. But I did like that they arrived and left the battlefield as bolts of lightning sent from Azyr. So I thought; what if that went wrong? What if, when a host returns, every now and again, a single warrior remained. And the warrior’s armour started to lose its colour until it was bare metal and began to rust. But they’d always find their way to Ulgu, and would be met by others who had encountered the same fate. They would teach the newcomer the sacred symbol that would protect their armour – a five pointed black star, painted using the ash that flows across the realm’s winds.
Why this is happening? Who knows. Maybe Morathi has done something. Maybe Nagash. Maybe there’s a flaw with the process of creating a Stormcast Eternal? Who knows. But over the last couple of years, using a very quick and easy scheme that lends itself to this sort of thing, I’ve built up a small army of the Ashen Stars, and I thought I’d show them off here. So let’s take a little look:
I wanted the army to have three distinct parts. Heavy Support, a strong Core, and some Fast Attack (to borrow from 40k’s terminology).
The Heavy Support so far brings some nasty ranged power, augmented by the Lord Ordinator I painted for the recent Heresy Vs Heroes project I embarked on (more on that soon). And protected by the raven-like Aetherwings who can strike out at anything that gets too close and harass any nearby threats.
I think my favourite unit here are the dudes with big crossbows (name escapes me right now). I like the old fashioned weapons given a high fantasy twist.
There’s not much to the core yet. Some Liberators and Stormsire’s mob. I love the old sword and board combo, and I don’t care if hammers are better – the swords just look cooler. I went for a dull red glow to contrast against the typical bright blue glow that the faction is known for.
The Knight Azyros leads the Fast Attack portion of the army which so far is made up only of Prosecutors (that’s their name right?) and my favourite Gryph-hounds.
The hounds were a lot of fun to paint. I wanted the animals in this army to have a similar affliction to the Stormcast so I studied Albinism and Melanism to get their colours right. A very enjoyable project.
There’s more to do, though when I get the time, who knows. I need to expand that core to make it a playable army, and I want more in that Fast Attack section. I’ve got the minis, but not the time. One day. And until that day comes, I wish you happy and successful painting! 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!
So, it has come to this. Video. I recently spruced up my hobby room and I wanted to show it off a little bit because it’s looking hella dope (I don’t think anyone says that anymore, do they?), and you know how I am with photographs. Couldn’t tell my F-point from a hole in the ground, or an aperture from my elbow. So then I had a crazy notion; why not shoot a wobbly, single cut video using my phone and, it turned out quite nicely! And I ended up not showing off the room, but more my miniatures because they are looking, well, in focus!
I’m putting this video up for anyone who would like to see my collection. It’s like 10 minutes long so you certainly don’t have to watch all of it, and it turns out my voice can go a bit higher than I thought it could, but if you want to see all of my favourite minis from the last few years, you can see them all here. I’m also putting it up here because I want a record of it as it is now. Hopefully I’ll shoot another video in a few years and there’ll be more shelves and more minis I’m really proud of too.
Top 7 Observations when I watched this video back after uploading it:
“How and why is your voice going that high?!”
“You have way too many unfinished projects, dude”
“I wonder how much money I’ve spent on mi- lalalalalaicanthearyouiamnothtinkingaboutthatlalala…”
“How have you got a face for radio but a voice for mime artistry?”
“Like, way too many unfinished projects”
“You say ‘errrr’ way too much”
“Why is it flashing! What’s with the weird white flashes!?”
But there you have it! A 10 minute virtual tour of what I joking call the “Heresy & Heroes Studio” (if I can remember the damn name of my blog – good grief) and lots of fun minis to look at at. I even say “Onwards” at the end because that’s something I do.
Anyway, I’m off to go drink too much beer and enjoy my weekend – I hope you have similar or better plans too. Onwards (again)!
I’m guessing you’ve probably stumbled across several (if not hundreds) of lists of things that can help your miniature painting that involve paints, brushes and all the sensible things that are actually involved in miniature painting. They’re often very useful and informative, so there’s no real point in me doing another one of those lists here. But, what if I told you there were things that you can do to help improve your painting and enjoyment of painting that have nothing to do with brushes and paints? If you called me mad, you’d not the first one to do so, and though you may be right, I’d say you were wrong here. Here are my 5 tips that will help you to paint from beyond the hobby.
I am about as far from a gym bunny as you can get. More of a couch elephant, actually. But I do lift weights. Not big ones – but weights big enough for me to (and I immediately apologise for using this term) feel the burn. By doing this, it tightens up all the muscles in my arms, and makes them stronger which makes them steadier. After a little while doing this, you will feel things tighten up and as you paint, you’ll notice how much steadier you are with both your brush hand, and the hand you hold the mini with. Obviously don’t try and paint immediately after lifting weights as you’ll be wobbling all over the place like a jelly on trampoline that’s being bounced on by couch elephants, but if you give it a bit of time, you’ll eventually see the results.
Ditch the Caffeine
Speaking of wobbly hands, and without wanting to sound all preachy about it, but you should probably drop the caffeine. Again, this will remove a little tremor from your hand. A few years ago, I developed a somewhat dramatic intolerance to caffeine (panic attacks are a hoot) and so switched to decaf (still love me the taste of a black coffee). The main benefit to this is of course not feeling like I’m going to die all the time, but another benefit involves the steadiness of my hands, and also, my energy levels. While caffeine gives you an initial hit, it burns you out faster, so if you like painting long into the night, ditching it can help a lot. I do have the rare Irn Bru, but that’s part of my heritage so allow it.
Go To Art Galleries & Museums
This may seem very obvious to some, but it’s always worth reiterating. When they reopen after lockdown, go and check out every museum and art gallery you can. It doesn’t even matter what’s on really. Inspiration is everywhere and whether you’re looking at Raphael or Rembrandt, Blake or Banksy, you will gain so much from seeing how they applied their paint, how they framed their subjects, how they work with light… all incredibly useful. And in museums, you may find inspiration in weaponry and armour, but you might find a new way to paint wood while looking at a Chippendale (no, not those ones), or a new way to paint glass while admiring a Steuben. Again, Inspiration is everywhere.
Go On Holiday
And leave the paints at home. While painting everyday is a great way to get good, everyone needs a break from time to time. Another one for when we come out of lockdown; go away. Doesn’t matter where. As with above, you will find new things that inspire you from different foods to foreign soil, from sandy beaches to streets you’ve yet to tread. Then, when you return in a week, you’ll be rested, full of ideas, and raring to get painting again with a head alive with new sights to interpret through the bristles of your brush. When it’s safe do so again, go see a bit more of the world.
Have Another Hobby
Warhammer can be a bit, how shall we say, “all consuming”? There are rabbit holes to get lost down, and then there are 40k rabbit holes, the depths of which are so low, even the Duardin couldn’t mine them. Have something else in your life to balance things. Read books, collect stamps, play football… just have something else because if you let yourself drift under those tides you will find yourself drowning beneath pressure, resentment, disassociation and a one-dimensional existence. I’ve been there, and the way to get out is to have something else you can turn to to help you deal with the times when the grimdark gets a bit too grim and dark. Take up knitting, pick up some watercolours, bake a cake… just have something else.
So those are my tips. I hope they are in some way useful, and I hope they lead to a more enjoyable hobby for you too. If you’ve got any other non-hobby hobby tips, let me know in the comments below. Until then, 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.
Well, every year over the 4 day Easter weekend, I like to take on a project that pushes my hobby chops, and this year was no different. So, I rummaged around in the Titan box, pulled out the head, and spent three days doing this:
Yes, I still own it. No, it’s not much closer to being done, except for this head. It’s taken days and to be honest, I just want to get outside and enjoy some sunshine right now (which is beating down on Nottingham despite the fact it was snowing earlier). But hey, technically, this is the first plate of armour I actually finished on the titan! So we’re still on for that 2024 finish.
The main image is of course still taken from The Triumph of Death by Pieter Bruegel (as are the other images). It features the King being shown his timer ticking down as a skeletal warrior steals his gold. All very apocryphal of course. It took ages and I’m quite happy with it. I don’t think it’s as good as the carapace piece, but it’s fine. Not bad for the effort spent. In terms of effort, after sketching it all out, this is what I got done in 1 hour:
So, yeah. It’s taken a few sessions. You can see above also the rough sketch that I set down on a lightish background with a pencil. And the other two illustrations were done in the same manor. On one side, we see skeletons hunting people near a beach, and on the other, a skeletal drummer drums as another pulls a man down to the pit below:
That’s me all hobbied out for the weekend. I want some beers and some nicotine and then I’m going to chill out and do as little as possible for a few hours. And hey, 2024 is closer than you think. Onwards
Well that was a lot of fun to work on! Adrax Agatone is the latest completed miniature to leave the production line at Chez John and I’m pretty happy about him. He’s not the best thing I’ve done, but I wanted to paint him as clean as possible. There is pretty much no weathering on this miniature and I’ve used the sculpted base that he comes with. All in all, not bad.
The green used in a mix of Moot Green and Caliban Green (50:50). Once a solid layer of that was down, I highlighted with thin glazes of Moot Green, with spot highlights of Moot Green and White Scar (50:50). I also used glazes of Caliban Green, and Caliban Green mixes with Abaddon Black (50:50) to emphasise the shadows. Finally, I applied a thinned glaze of Warp Lightning across all of the green. It was a long process but fun, and I’m really happy with the results.The bronze coloured metallics are a thin glaze of Guilliman Flesh over silvers. It worked ok, but I could have been more aggressive with that.
Oh, and of course the banner. It’s the only conversion, replacing the brazier that I can use for something else. By my standards, I’d probably give it a C+. Not my best work, but it was fun enough to do. The rest of the banner pole is a bit of a fail. My glazes didn’t blend on the shield at the top, the embossed effect on the ‘3’ isn’t great and it turns out the Salamander symbol is a bit of a pain to freehand first time.
I went with blues for the cloak to set it off a little differently. It worked well with the “Black” lava on the base (which is actually greys covered in a glaze of Guilliman Blue). Helped marry the mini to the base, while the green helped it to stand out. Also, as always with these posts, sorry for the photo quality. It’s crisp in places and a bit too dull in others. I’ll never learn at this point!
…not always in focus either. Anyway, what can I say about the miniature? It’s amazing. Seriously a joy to work on. All of the Primaris stuff is such a treat, but this character was just so crisp and lovely. He’s got a powerful stance, the flowing cape, his cool weapons… all great. If you fancy painting a Space Marine character, Adrax Agatone is worth your time. He’s also the first Salamander I’ve ever painted so that’s cool.
Yeah, that hammer is baller. A treat to work on too. And my personal favourite bit of my painting might just be the above shoulder pad. I felt that was the best colour shifting I did both on the greens and the metallics.
And why is he on a plinth? Well, I’m using plinths as a way to up my game – as a psychological trick. If I know I’m painting this to display, it means I need to bring my A game. It’s kind of nice that all of the recent display projects I’ve worked on I can say are the best miniatures I’ve done, and I can feel my painting game getting better, but it’s still daunting that I feel I have still such a way to go to get where I want to go. But hey, practice makes perfect, so in a few years, maybe I’ll be there.
So there you have it. We’re now into the four day weekend, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to get some more hobby done over the coming days. I will of course, keep you informed. Onwards.
Ok, I think it’s time for a challenge. And some fun. A… fullenge. Nah, let’s not call it that. But we will be doing a fun challenge here on Heresy & Heroes and it’s starting now. We’re calling it Heresy Vs Heroes, and aside from wishing I’d had the foresight to name the blog Heretics & Heroes solely for the purpose of this idea, it’s going to pit my painting skills against that of one other painter every other month.
How does it work?
Every other month, an invited painter and I will be painting up some toy soldiers. One character/hero each. Here’s the rules:
• Both competitors will have one month to paint one mini
• The guest will get to choose whether they want to paint a bad guy (Heresy) or a good guy (Hero)
• I (that is me, John) will paint the opposite (so if they choose “Hero”, I’ll paint a “Heresy”… why didn’t I name the site better?)
• The guest will also decide which game system we’re working with – 40k, AoS, Horus Heresy
• The guest will also, if so desired, be able to add one additional stipulation of their choice, and it can be anything
• Heresy: Any “Chaotic” hero/leader/character
• Hero: For AoS, any GA:Order hero/character. For 40k/HH, any Imperial/Loyalist hero/character
And how will we be determining a winner? Well, at the end of the month, we’ll both post a poll on twitter, and the mini that gets the most votes, is the winner. It’s all for fun and a bit of a challenge. You’ll be able to follow along with the challenge as we’ll both be using the hashtag #HeresyVsHero for WiPs, the Polls and the Results. You with me so far? Good.
And first up to bat, we have…
Garfy from Tale of Painters
I’ve known Garfy for years. He was actually the first person to drive me up to Warhammer World from London when we headed to a Forge World Open Day many (many many) moons ago. He has a tremendously clean style of painting that I’ve always admired, and he’s a top notch photographer too (a fact that puts me at an immediate disadvantage). He’s known for his Ultramarines, Dark Angels and Tyranids, but he’s turned his talented hands to many different miniatures over the years, and is currently working his way through a fantastic Slaves to Darkness army. Let’s find out how he wants this challenge to pan out…
Hi Garfy! How are things?
Hi John, things are good all things considered, I feel like my decades of introverted hobbies has been the perfect training ground to surviving a year of lockdown. Certainly got plenty of models painted.
Tell me a bit about Tale of Painters
Tale of Painters is an unofficial Warhammer hobby magazine-style blog with high quality photography, showcase posts, reviews and painting tutorials all for free. Nothing is hidden behind a paywall. It’s run by my good friend Stahly and I’ve been contributing weekly since it debuted 10 years ago in 2011.
Right. Down to Business. Will you be painting “Heresy” or “Heroes”?
I’m going to go for Heresy! And no! I’m not painting Dark Angels.
And what system are we going with?
I’m going to choose Age of Sigmar.
Ok, Any further stipulations?
I think it’d be cool to see our final finished models pictured on terrain so the stipulation is scenic photography is allowed for the twitter poll.
Any pre-match predictions?
Apart from predicting this is going to be a lot fun, I’m going to predict that my AOS herectical leader might end up in my fledging Daemon army. Predicting what you’ll do is pretty tricky as you have a wide array of skills so I’m going to predict you’ll totally surprise me.
Thanks for all of that, Garfy. No pressure there then! 😉 Also, I need to make some terrain… So, now we’ve met my dastardly competitor, let’s see the miniatures we’re going to be going with:
I’m going to be putting in a shift on the mighty hero that is the Stormcast Eternals Lord Ordinator, while Garfy is going to be getting along with his devious Infernal Enrapturess. Both awesome minis, full of character and definitely a good vs evil vibe. Our one month starts now!
To keep up with our efforts, you can follow me on Twitter at @HeresyHeroes and Garfy can be found at @Garfytwit – follow us for WiPs and of course the polls at the end of the month. Stay tuned for more here, and until next time, Onwards!
A while back, I finished painting up my first ever Grot Tank, and I loved every second of it. One of the most joyous and characterful miniatures I’ve ever had the pleasure of painting. And while I could take you through all the mechanics of painting it (which could be interesting) I thought I’d do something different here. When you work on something this characterful, your brain starts building a story around it, and boy did my imagination run wild with this one.
So, enjoy some new photos of it, and, if you have the time, enjoy this short story of how, in universe, my grot tank came to be. Onwards.
Grobsnacka was dead. The whispers went round the mekshop like squig-mites through a sack of rusty gubbins. Grot after grot would whisper the words to their fellow workers as they moved guns and gears about the place to the instructions of Mek Zagsnapp. At one point, one slightly new and stupid grot whispered the words to Zagsnapp himself.
“Oo?” replied the Mek as he grabbed the grot who told him in one hand before launching him through the wall “Lissen ya runt, I dun’t giv a zog wot grot gon snuffed it. Get back to werk!”
Eventually, the news reached Ratsnot who was in the process of constructing some new and deadlier dakka spewing weapon that Zagsnapp had come up with. Ratsnot was a young grot, with eyes wider than most of his compatriots and a longer nose too. He had a knack at being cunning, but his dreams of worlds beyond his often lead to him daydreaming and this, in turn, often lead to a clout round the head from his boss.
“Grobsnacka snuffed it”
The words fell into his notched and slightly singed ears like clattering mallets. Not Grobsnacka, he thought. It’s impossible. The fiercest, most cunning grot he’d ever met? Dead? As he continued to hammer away his eyes glazed. Grobsnacka was a legend.
“Wot ‘bout da treasure?” he mumbled to the noisy shop around him.
He peered over in the direction of Zagsnapp who was now arguing with a Nob. The giant brute was gesticulating, though somewhat more slowly than he would have liked as the arms of his mega armour had malfunctioned. He’d normally be able to smash the feckless mek through the ceiling but Zagsnapp had been able to dodge several blows already due to the fact that each took at least 45 seconds to come anywhere near him.
Ratsnot tip-toed behind the Mek as he promised a brand new planet killing weapon to the somewhat animated monster in front of him. Ratsnot knew he had to get to Grobsnacka but leaving the shop before the boss said so was an offence punishable by being told to stand next to the malfunctioning (and suspiciously sentient) Shokk Attack Gun that hung on the wall at the back of the shop. The blasted thing had dined on several of his colleagues over the years. But Ratsnot was good at sneaking, and moved almost soundlessly from work bench to work bench, sometimes nonchalantly picking up a hammer and inspecting it thoughtfully. Unfortunately, he put so much into the craft of looking like he was working, he actually started to do some work on several occasions before remembering that he was trying to get to the squig-flap at the back of the shop.
By sheer luck, and after fixing two big shootas and painting a boss pole, he was within striking distance of the exit when a rather large hand grabbed him by the shoulders. The giant figure of Zagsnapp glared down at him, his gnarled face twisting around his cybernetic eyes that glowed a terrifying shade of bruied scarlet.
“An’ wot is uze doin, runt?”
“Errr… fetch gubbinz, boss?” he pointed to the big pile of said gubbinz not too far from him and grinned the grin of innocence that only the guilty can master.
The hand tightened around his shoulders and he was lifted up to eye-level with the monstrous Mek.
“If I wantz uze to get more gubbinz, I’ll tellz uze to get more gubbinz. I fink uze was bein’ a sneaky git. An’ we don’t like sneaky gitz ‘round ‘ere.”
All the gretchin in the workshop had stopped and were looking in terror as Ratsnot squirmed in Zagsnapp’s vice like grip, his eyes wide with panic.
“Err… boss?” he offered meekly
“Behind you, boss”
“You fink I’m fick, runt? I ain’t fallin’ for dat ol’ lugnut.” he snarled, as a thick, foamy spittle dribbled out from between his enormous fangs. “You fink I woz born tomorrow? I fink it’s da shokk attack gun for-“
Zagsnapp was now aware that he was in the very slow moving vice-like grip of the Nob who was still not particularly happy about his glacially moving mega armour. Slow as it was though, the giant claws it was fitted with still seemed to work well enough. The Mek had just enough time to turn and face his unhappy customer before the claws became a vice.
“Ere!” shouted Zagsnapp as he was lifted off his feet “I’ll build ya a big wagon! Or a stompa or summin’!”
“Maybe” offered the enraged (yet now quite entertained) Nob “You wanna fix dis soot, first, yeah”
“Yea! Of corze! Easy! But it’ll take a bit. Lots to do!”
“I dun’t wanna ‘ear ya excuses ya git!”
“Dey’s not excuses! Mega gubbinz is tricky! Like cunnin’ tricky an’ I gotta-“
It was at this point that both the Nob and the Mek turned to face the tiny grot that was still being held up by Zagsnapp. Ratsnot gulped as their menacing gazes bore into him. He had never been so far out of his depth and all three of them knew it. Then the two enormous orks glared at his finger that was pointing at a small red button on the side of the Nob’s neck plate.
What happened next could only have happened in an ork’s mekshop because only in said mekshop could the laws of physics be bent around the greenskins’ latent psychic ability with that much exposed wiring, weaponry and ammunition. It’s almost impossible to describe in full detail without having to lie down and assess one’s understanding of the universe. However there are some highlights that can be easily relayed, such as Ratsnot pushing the button on the Mega Armour. Then there’s the look of sheer panic on the face of the Mek who probably had more of an inkling than most about what was about to happen and why he was in the worst place possible in the history of anything ever. Shortly after this, there was a rush of steam and a very strange whirling crackling noise. Then the mega armoured Nob did a a leaping summersault against his will. The claw also closed before springing open at such a rate that the individual digits shot off the fist and lodged themselves in various things the shouldn’t ever have been ruptured in such a way. One activated the shokk attack gun which swallowed and then ejected two grots, a missile, several cases of ammo and some fuel. Another cliipped the wing of a bomma that hung from the ceiling and was shortly afterwards swinging around like a pendulum, crashing into anything and everything that went bang in the shop. Four squigs exploded. A bucket of highly prized purple paint fell onto three grots who were never seen again. A strange device the orks had nicked from another world opened and loads of little fiery daemons fell out of it before running amok. Half the roof fell in, and small fissure opened up in the floor that swallowed a deff dred.
Crucially though, as all of this mayhem began, Ratsnot was thrown through the wall and out into the street beyond. He picked himself up and watched in awe as the chaos began to ensue and while other orks ran toward the exploding shop, either looking for a fight or something to steal, Ratsnot ran off into the dusk.
Grot-town was a hovel in the least desirable part of the city. Tiny dwellings that were often sat on by orks who had nothing better to do were crumbling and cracked even before the brutes of the clan placed their backsides on them. Trash everywhere, which wasn’t even good enough to be useful or edible flew around on the winds, and smog from the mek shops choked the air. As Ratsnot scampered and scrambled through the quiet gutters, he could still hear the shop behind him exploding and falling over.
Eventually he reached the centre of the collective hovel and found the tiny hut he was looking for. He ran in under the scrap of fabric that served as a door and saw for himself. Laying on an old tire, lay the body of Grobsnacka. It was a shock to the young grot’s system. Gretchin didn’t die of old age. They got squished, eaten, smashed, exploded and dropped from large heights, but they didn’t die old, and by their standards, Grobsnacka was ancient. No-one knew exactly how old, by virtue of the fact that they didn’t really count much or have a way of measuring time, but everyone knew he was proper old.
Stood next to the old tire was Zitslapp, who had been Grobsnacka’s oldest friend (though still greatly his junior). He looked sadly over at Ratsnot who quietly shuffled into the dimly lit room.
“Snuffed it quiet. Never seen dat. Never wanna see dat again. Not rite. Just sorta snuffin’ it quiet an’ wivowt a scrap” offered Zitslapp
Ratsnot’s ears flattened and seldom has a grot ever looked so sad. His friend, and mentor, was indeed gone.
“Poor git” he offered. They both nodded. “Did he eva tell uze ‘bout da tre-“
Zitslapp’s hand covered Ratsnot’s mouth.
“Shut ya gob.” He looked around shiftily before adding “come wiv me”
They both took one last look at the grimly peaceful old grot before stepping out into the darkening streets.
Ten minutes later, after trying to look nonchalant again, they arrived at the back of a different Mek’s workshop. This one was thankfully not in-mid explosion and the sound of industry spilled out into the streets. Zitslapp went up to a piece of corrugated metal and began to undo one of the bolts that held it in place with a tiny, worn spanner. Ratsnot recognised the implement – it had belonged to Grobsnacka and the old ork had once told him that it only opened one sort of bolt in town, and that only one such bolt and spanner combo existed. As security went, this was almost worthy of legend in the ork community.
Eventually the nut fell to the floor and Zitslapp slid the panel aside smoothly, revealing a tiny space to squeeze into. The two grots only just fit themselves through but eventually they were inside the wall. And it was only seconds later they were falling, though not for very long. They landed in a dark basement beneath the shop above where they could hear the hammerings, shoutings and scurryings they were all too familiar with.
“Zog it’s dark.” muttered Ratsnot as he picked himself up off the floor.
“Dere’s a switch on da wall” came the voice of Zitslapp from the gloom. Both gretchin moved around the dark walls a minute or so before Ratsnot’s hand found a switch. He threw it and light burst into the basement. He turned around and when he realised what he was looking at, his fang filled jaw almost hit the floor.
“I fort it… wasn’t it… teef?” splutted the young grot. Zitslapp grinned.
“It was wunce. Den he spent da teef of gubbins and dakka and now…”
“‘As it got a name?”
“Yep. Grob’s Freedum”
The tank was beautiful. A riot in shades of golden yellow, a massive big shoota sticking out of its turret, and actual exhausts coming out of the back. There wasn’t even too much rust on the tracks. Ratsnot had never seen something so beautiful. This, this was freedom. This was respect. Even the Orks would have to stand aside for this thing. Life in the workshops was done, and now, they could finally join Da Waaaggh!
“We made it tugeva,” said Zitslapp, wiping a tear from his beady red eye “doin’ it for all my life pretty much. It woz ‘is idea. But it took so long. Da scrap just wernt dere for ages. Den wen we finished it, he sed ‘e woz too old. Wanted uze ta be part of da croo insted a him.”
“Croo?” said Ratsnot, still in a daze.
“Yep. I do da drivin’, an uze do da dakka and da pointin’. Wot yu finkin’? Up for it?”
Boss Mek Slugsmash was only vaguely aware of the rumble beneath his feet but this was his mekshop and if something was rumbling it was obviously because he’d told the runts to make something rumble, even if he didn’t remember doing so. It was only when the shooting started and all the grots legged it that he became more interested. He stood up upon his creaking bionic legs and stomped towards the noise, picking up his big choppa from a work bench as he went. Then the back wall of his workshop fell over. When the rubble and dust cleared, he looked over and saw, driving away from his shop, a grot tank rumbling away in the distance. He could make out, through the smoking trail it was leaving behind it, a small grot, wearing a hat, waving and pointing at the throng of grots who were cheering them on.
Ok, this should be a relatively short one from me today. It’s a tip that will save you money, feed you, and it may even help you to achieve some better paint jobs too. How’s that for a slice of fried Retributor Armour?
I’ve seen a lot of people spending money on wet palettes and I want to tell you that you don’t need to do that. I was lucky in that when I was in my early teens, my friend’s mum (who’s a professional artist) showed me how to make a wet palette. I was painting canvasses at that time but it’s the same sort of thing for miniature painting – it’s all just acrylic paint. And now, I want to pass that knowledge on to you!
Here’s what I use:
The way I look at this, it’s the makings of a wet palette and it comes with free chocolates (which I’m already eating – yummers). Remove the chocolates, fold a couple of sheets of paper towel into the tray, cover it with a layer baking paper cut to size and, well, you have a wet palette. It’s that easy. Well, you have to get it wet of course but a bit of tap water’ll do. Here’s the one I’ve been using for the last few months:
You can sub in a J Cloth, layer of sponge or even a duster for the paper towels if you like – as long as it’s absorbent, it works. And I’ve seen some folks use black baking paper as that helps if you predominantly undercoat with black (it looks a little more like how it will look on the mini). I have yet to discover the goth baking suppliers that sell this, but I’ve not been looking so it may be very easy. And I guess you don’t need to buy chocolates (I mean, why wouldn’t you?) as all you need is a tray with a lid (the lid helps keep it wet so is essential) and any such thing will work just fine.
Why do I want one?
Well, this will keep your paints “alive” (read “wet”) for longer. If you’re mixing colours, this gives you a bit more time to paint at your own pace, and helps when it comes to touching up mistakes too as you can easily go back to exactly the shade you were using. I don’t use mine for everything – in fact, unless I’m doing something tricksy where I need a lot of those mixed colours, or if I’m trying to be really fancy and I want a tonne of different shades of the same colour (this gives me the time to work without fearing the paint drying), I don’t really use it. If I’m working with a colour straight out of the pot, I just use a regular palette. But, another reason people use them is because it technically saves money by keeping the paint wet and usable for longer but I always think we’re dealing in pennies there, even for the pricier paints (given the tiny quantities you’re likely working in) so whether it saves you much in this way is up for debate.
So there you go. Short and simple, and if it helps you out, I’m glad. Now, I have a load of chocolates to eat so if you’ll excuse me, onwards!