Sunday 31 December 2017

2017 Goals - End of Year Review

Well that year drifted by quickly, didn't it? The progress in the last six months from the original list written up at the beginning of 2017 hasn't been a pretty read for progress I'm afraid. But let's look at progress across the year.

The Bad

  • Infamy [3] - No progress.
  • Guild Ball Fishermen [5] - No progress.
Whoops. These just dropped down the list when new projects present themselves. I'd sorely love to wrap up the Guild Ball figures just to tick another one off the list.

The Inbetween
  • Hasslefree Miniatures [12] - Completed 4.
  • Heresy Miniatures [1] - Completed 2.
  • Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolves [28] - Completed 9.
  • Warhammer 40,000 Death Guard [16] - One test model done, but will pause this as I plan to swap to Word Bearers.
  • Shadespire [4] - Started.
  • Guild Ball Morticians [3] - Completed 1.
  • Willy Miniatures [1] - Started the vampire, but not finished.
Hit and miss here. Some forward steps made but then a few steps back. Space Wolves were complicated by buying the Dark Imperium box set and Shadespire, so they've taken precedence. I did manage to complete the Inceptors, Ancient and five Wolves from the original box.

The Good

  • Colony 87 - Completed all 9.
  • Blood Rage - Completed 1 wolf.
  • Conan - Completed 10 wolves.
  • Zombicide: Black Plague - Completed 22 wolves.
  • Terrain - 6 pieces from Crooked Dice, 3 containers from TTcombat, 3 armoured containers, 9 barrels, 12 crates from Games Workshop, and a few other odds and ends.
  • Human Interface - Completed 3 characters.
  • Arcworlde - Completed 1 Ork.
  • The Walking Dead - Completed 1 zombie.
 A few really small projects were completed at the last minute (Human Interface, Arcworlde & The Walking Dead) which was nice to clear off the backlog. Small projects hanging around start to irk after a while, so these quick wins please me.

The Summary
The total number of distinct things completed, not including tiddlers like crates and barrels, is over 100. Which is honestly about 40-50 better than I thought it would be, despite my optimistic goals at the beginning of the year.

I'll think on what I want from 2018 before posting goals. Some quick ones come to mind, but let's make it a challenging one again too.

Warploque: Bayourk Witchdokta WIP

It's New Year's Eve, so here I am painting. Here's to a 2018 filled with whatever you want it to be.

Back into the habit of posting my WIP work. For this figure, I'm trying to do Things That Are Different at the moment. You don't build muscles without stretching them. Painting is the same.

This was my first attempt at trying to create an iridescent effect on skin.

So on the right lines but not quite right. Okay, not everything can be a success first time but that's okay.

Back to the drawing board, and I've started with a lighter blue, defined everything better and started into the first highlights. Shadows will see other colours added to achieve the effect better. Same for the final highlights too.

Next up is reworking the leather. My original colour choice was far too light and adding shadow didn't help. He's old and weathered, so the coat should reflect that.

Much happier with this, and reading David Soper's article on old leather ( has helped me think about colour choices and pushing up the contrast.

Next up will be the super-definitely-positively-probably the last highlight, then adding colour interest into the shadows with glazes.

Friday 29 December 2017

Shadespire: Ironskull's Boyz WIP #1

Picked up Shadespire a month after release when the positive reviews kept coming in. It really is a lightweight game and nice to have in the collection for when you want to play something for 40 minutes without too much thinking.

Fresh from learning how to do NMM at Andy Wardle's weekend workshop (, I immediately decide I should be massively stupid and try to paint all four of the Orks with everything I've learned.

Colour palette is the same as my test piece from the workshop. Here's a shot of one basecoated and one with the mid-tone applied.

Same pairing again, but with the armour highlights starting to appear.

Getting closer to the desired effect ...

... but I realised a little more glazing was needed before coming back to undercoat the skin areas.

Skin basecoat goes on, and I was having a few wobbles about colour choices at this point - but we press on!

Here's the skin mostly completed, along with lightening the skin around the face. I started from Darren Latham's helpful tutorial ( but didn't want to push up as bright as he did. It's a good demonstration that not everything needs to start with one colour and end upwith a lighter version of the same colour. Also a reminder that Darren's a talented git.

Confidence was growing a little, so I used that mojo and came back to the other orks to get their faces and skin up to the same standard. Eyes and teeth still need work, but happy with how the big lad's milky eye in the middle of the scar is looking.

I think the confidence to post a picture of this size for something that small is, for me, a step forward in how I view my progression.

Haven't touched these in over a week now, as I've been rearranging my geek pit (more on that in another post) but with time away I can see that my shadows on the skin need to be deeper to push up the difference from the pinker tones. Green or purple will be introduced as the shade as red would bring it too close to the armour colours.

Still need to come back and add more shadow to the armour, but that's deliberate as I need the skin finished first to determine how much verdigris is appropriate. Had forgotten how useful posting up WIP work is, and gives me an opportunity to think through my progress before carrying on.

The Orks are pretty much head to toe in armour and/or weaponry so this is taking longer than I thought but happy with the progress so far.

Wednesday 27 December 2017

Workshop: NMM with Andy Wardle

December has been a manic month, personally and professionally, so it's nice to finally get a little downtime and update the blog.

At the start of December I went on a NMM course in Cheltenham, hosted at Incom Gaming ( and run by the super talented Andy Wardle (, to learn more of the tricks for painting non-metallic metals. The big difference from painting fabrics and skintones is the sudden push up in contrast from dark to light for the purpose of fooling the eye into believe you're seeing metal.

The venue was a small upstairs bar in a nightclub, repurposed for the daytime. Bar a couple of corners with strange cheese smells, it was a decent venue with loads of lighting. Funny to see how everyone basically has the same painting setup these days too.

We spent the full Saturday working on the basics of colour application, choice and understanding shapes and contrast, then applying it to gold. Genuinely surprised by what I managed to achieve.

So it won't be winning me any awards soon, but it's a significant step up in quality and speed.

Saturday night was the obligatory Nando's, a few beers, witnessing possibly the world's first fight in a family-centric Harvester, and chewing the fat with the excellent Haychdee ( about painting in general and what we learned from the day.

Sunday was more of the same, but focused on steel and copper effects - and the different thinking required to create the effect. My steel wasn't pushing the colour far enough, but that's fine - I could see the improvement as the morning went on, and will come back to finish this piece in time.

Copper was the one I was really interested in, and funnily enough was probably my poorest attempt. I didn't understand the shape and the effect isn't believable. No matter - we move on and I'll be repainting this as steel in the future anyway.

Happy with the colours, but less so the use of them. Can't win them all!

This is the first 75mm figure I've painted, not including 28mm monsters, and it's a gorgeous sculpt from Black Sun Miniatures ( Big differences between painting this scale and 28mm, but I was happy with learning the techniques on such a big area - and getting them wrong and trying to fix it. Bringing this down to a smaller scale will be a fun challenge.

Here's he is with the arms temporarily blu-tacked and a slightly steadier shot when I got home.

I won't lie. I was super nervous going in to this. Andy is a world class painter and the output from his previous workshops had set a high bar, and I don't like to fail at things. Just to give us an idea of what the techniques can achieve, we were able to see his recent award-winning pieces up close, and HOLY SHIT they're amazing. Check out his Magnus progress on Instagram for an idea of how far he can push the NMM concept.

Big thanks to everyone else who attended the workshop too. Pretty much everyone was a higher standard than me, including at least one Golden Demon winner in the group, and there was a lovely, relaxed vibe to the whole weekend. People wanting to improve their painting, and offering helpful, constructive criticism - weekends like that really reinvigorate my love for the hobby.

In summary, Andy did a great job explaining the theory, helping us to push outside our comfort zone. While there's no point trying to encapsulate all the learnings, I will say that if you get a chance to go on one of Andy's courses then you definitely should! He's a good teacher, inclusive, helpful and approachable.

Tuesday 28 November 2017

Human Interface: Black Stone Commando

Third and last of the Nakamura Tower figures - and probably the one that grew on me the most while painting. I picked it because it was a big unsubtle chunk of robot, but when I started painting, a lot of unexpected detail jumped out.

I love all the cables, so tried to offer a little variety in colour to show power flowing through them. Nice way to finish up the mini-project and glad I had the chance to paint them.

For size comparison, here's the three painted up compared to a regular Space Marine.

And the three just on their own.

So that's it! Another small mini-project concluded, so on to the next figure sat on the painting desk - a Mantic Zombie picked up free at Salute earlier this year. It's a bit of a sprint now trying to meet a few of my 2017 goals, with just over four weeks left in the painting year.

Sunday 26 November 2017

Human Interface: Markus Hoffman (Nakamura)

This is, apparently, Markus Hoffman. I couldn't tell you much more about him other than that - as I don't know the backstory to the game.

The boxart for this has the arms painted as sleeves, but I opted for making it look like arms with wiring and little spots of metal peeking out - as though he's become one with the machine.

I played around with striping on clothing again, and it wasn't a disaster. Still forcing myself to thin paints beyond what feels comfortable and I'm seeing the benefit of that and patience.

Saturday 25 November 2017

Human Interface: Cyborg Hunter (Mercenary)

This week I was working through a few models from a lovely looking Kickstarter from 2015 ( and while I failed to back it, a friend of mine did.

The figures are quite detailed and put me in mind of the Infinity range. This was reinforced when seeing the second Kickstarter ( with models painted by Angel Giraldez - whose work on the Infinity range is formidable.

When it arrived he was kind enough to let me paint up a couple of figures for him. I picked a couple at random that looked interesting and it appears they're from different factions - or at least different enough to be painted as such.

I realised on Wednesday that I was seeing him this weekend and really needed them finished and off the workbench. So a very quick paintjob across the three was required to get things moving!

This is probably my least favourite from the three, but still a nice model.

Fun to paint, but glad I didn't back the project - the thought of painting a whole box of figures at this detail level would terrify me.

Saturday 18 November 2017

Space Wolves: Primaris Inceptor Group & Detail

With the three figures finished, here's the group shot of them in action.

Very pleased with the final result. Each one feels dynamic, unique and definitely a Space Wolf. The sergeant in the group has a helmet, as I wanted him to feel like the Primaris still maintaining some of the "traditional" standards of the marines, whereas the others have fully embraced their inner Fenrisian.

One detail that's almost invisible from the shots is the jump pack. I've attempted some OSL in here to give the feeling of hot jets ...

... then attempted to reflect that back on the surface below it.

It's got an audience of only me when it's on the table, but I'm pleased with the result.

Onto the next models. Just another 18 and then that's a boxset I started in July finished. How's that for speed! Right? Right?

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Space Wolves: Primaris Inceptor 3

Here we are with the last Inceptor! This is probably my favourite due to the pose.

I didn't like the plastic rods that came with the figures. While they're a definitely upgrade on the old ones with air bubbles, they felt a bit amateur theatre wire work pose-wise. This has been glued very, very carefully onto the front of a crate - and balanced so it doesn't fall over.

The blue you can see on the crate is the reflection from the jet pack engine. I'll sort out a close-up shot later this week which may be more flattering.

Hopefully this has captured a feeling of jumping over obstacles and landing on the charge.

Monday 13 November 2017

Space Wolves: Primaris Inceptor 2

Edging ever closer to a full unit, here's the second fellow. This one's positioned to be dropping onto an ammo crate. I'd forgotten how tricky it is painting faces with this much detail on this scale. It held up progress quite a bit.

Took a little longer on the photos this time, and feel they've come out better. Always room to improve, but the colours are spot on.

Monday 6 November 2017

Space Wolves: Primaris Inceptor

I misplaced October. How careless of me.

A couple of weeks away and an unexpected bout of conjunctivitis ruled out most of my October painting. Turns out if you can't focus on the figure in front of you, painting is basically impossible. Happily that's in the past and we can move back to a focus on painting.

Let's start November correctly instead, shall we? Here's my completed Primaris Inceptor Sergeant to get things moving.

Fun things on this model include the OSL effect on the jump engines and weathering. So much weathering. Not-so-fun things are the massive guns, I really struggled with these and couldn't quite make sense of them and remain unsatisfied with what I achieved. My base red isn't right for trying to highlight into yellows, then I did a poor job executing it, so it will be reviewed for the next one.

I realised after finishing it up that this isn't meant to be the Sergeant model, as those have a slightly different armour shape in front of the face - but there you have it. This shall be different, because it can.

The rest of the squad are on the table and getting close to completion. That should keep me busy over the next week.

Friday 29 September 2017

Armored Containers

On the back of my success with the TTCombat scenery, it was time to hit the 40k containers I picked up. Same colours, same techniques with the only difference being the position of the highlight at the top - it's now running through the middle rather than the edges. That's not how it would work in reality, but it looks better on the table.

I haven't glued the doors shut on the containers yet. Once that's done, it's quite permanent so they'll remain open a little longer. The purpose is primarily line of sight blockers but I do like the idea of having some flexibility as a passageway or hiding objectives in them. We'll see ...

Lessons learned. I'd do the highlights in tighter circles along the top, so the support struts would remain uniformly dark and been the patterning the focus - rather than just a long continuous highlight.

Sunday 24 September 2017


I was asked for tips on achieving the weathering and colours from the three shipping containers. So here's the breakdown of how they came together.

All paints used are from the Vallejo ranges, usually Game Color or Game Air ranges.

  • Prime with Black. Over the MDF you want to leave this an hour between thin coats to ensure it sinks in. This took while some time - but as there were lots of terrain pieces to prime, it wasn't a problem.
  • Basecoat with Dark Fleshtone. Full coverage apart from the very deepest recesses.
  • Basecoat with Parasite Brown. Partial coverage as the idea at this stage is to have several different shades of colour appearing.
At this point you're wondering what on earth you've done ...

... but it's okay! Stick with it. Now onto the invisible stages.

(also spoilers in the shot above, you can see there's more terrain incoming)

  • Apply matt varnish to everything. But don't make it thick and obscure detail, this is an important step to ensure you don't start pulling the paint off later. I did start with gloss varnish, but couldn't get it to run smooth in my airbrush and swapped to matt with zero problems. Personal taste, I think - the important thing is protecting the colours.
  • Apply chipping medium to everything. Sure, you could be quite precise and decide exactly where you want to chip the containers, but I'm not that good at remembering details - so a full coverage is best. After coating three surfaces, leave it overnight so it isn't sticky to the touch. Do the fourth surface the next morning then leave it all to fully dry.

This concludes the preparation work so now it's on to the painting proper with the main colours for the three crates.

  • Scarlett Red basecoat, Moon Yellow highlight.
  • Yellow Olive basecoat, Camoflage Green highlight
  • Scurf Green basecoat, Scurf Green/Dead White highlight.

Using the airbrush, I started with the darker colour and coated everything in three or four thin coats. You need to leave it a little longer between coats because the chipping medium underneath starts to activate with the water in the paint - so just take your time and get solid coverage. I then adding more of the highlight colour and started hitting the top parts and edges.

These containers had lettering pre-etched into the design so I picked them out with the final highlight colour. I wanted them to be readable but not something to focus on. There is a thin glaze of Imperial Blue toward the bottom of the Green and Blue containers just to make the contrast a little more distinct.

Now the colours have tried, it's on to the terrifying step. Ripping apart all your hard work. The chipping medium is activated with water, so take a large brush dripping in water and gently coat one surface. Let any excess water drip off onto a paper towel, then you need to take off the paint.

From experience, on smaller scale miniatures, like my Space Wolves, using a toothpick or paperclip works well - but larger pieces like this that approach would take a long time. I took a piece of pluck foam and started dragging it across the surface. After every drag I rotated the foam so a different surface was soaking up the paint. Then I just repeated it until everything was done.

It feels weird at this point - you've basically destroyed half your work! But again, it's okay. Final steps and it all comes together.

  • Edge Highlighting.  With the brightest highlight colour, you need to add a thin edge highlight. Not just the corners of the object, but also at the bottom of each chip. This enforces the three dimensional effect of the chip. You can, if time allows, go back and add a thin line of Dark Fleshtone + Black at the top of the each chip to really punch home the effect. The most time consuming stage of the process but it makes or breaks it.
  • Rust. Along the very bottom, at random intervals, I added a little of the Modelmates excellent rust effect. If you apply it a little thicker, this brings a small amount of texture onto the surface as well. You could take a reddish brown paint and add a little more orange to achieve a comparable effect.

Then that's it! We're now at the point where you have the finished container and get to bask in the sweet, sweet glow of knowing your Space Wolves can't be hit from 36" by filthy Tau artillery because there are now casual line of sight blockers on the table.

Saturday 23 September 2017

Shipping Containers

I finished something! You can tell I've had a few days off to work on projects. We needed more colour and line of sight blocking terrain on the gaming board, so I went to town on weathering up some scenery bought earlier this year.

These are from TT Combat and I really like their MDF terrain range - it's a good price, easy to throw together and turns out looking reasonable if you put the effort in.

I had forgotten how hungry for paint MDF can be, so getting them to the point of readiness took a lot longer than their GW plastic equivalents. But the results are good and I got to play with the same techniques as my Space Wolves - so black primer, dark and light brown undercoats, varnish, chipping medium then the base colour + highlighting and shading.

There's a few more pieces in the pipeline with a little more detail so they'll turn up next month at current rate of progress.

Sunday 17 September 2017

Stripping old miniatures

We should talk about cleaning old figures, and Biostrip 20. I finally bought some of this and stripped a few old units for selling on eBay. Holy heck it's good stuff.

Here are my Fiends of Slaanesh before their bathtime ...

Dipped the models individually in the tub then let the excess drip off back into the tub, left an hour and removed all the surface paint. I then repeated the process but put the coated figures in a bowl overnight.

Next morning, armed with a toothbrush and bowl of hot water, I dropped them all in the water then scrubbed the paint away and they're nearly like new. There's no terrible smell like nail polish remover, which was my previous go-to, and did a better job too.

Here's how it looks when they're dry ...

It's £10 for a tub, but I've used maybe 10% of that cleaning down the first batch of old figures. Well worth the investment. The wife hasn't complained about an evil lingering odour, which is an additional bonus. In the dip at the moment are Blue Horrors, a Cauldron of Blood and then there'll be more models going the same way then up for sale.

If you want to have a look on eBay at my OOP pieces going for sale then click the link here.

Tuesday 5 September 2017

Hobby Progress - September

The problem with painting models in a batch is that the updates don't feel especially interesting and end up less frequent than you'd like. It ends up a little worse when you're fortunate enough to be playing 40k again on a regular basis.

Two of my regular opponents were able to make it across last week, so two evenings set aside for hobby were pulled into gaming against filthy Tau and even filthier Death Guard. The first game was a resounding win for my Wolves, and the second was a crushing defeat at the hands of a Defiler. They're significantly nastier in 8th than they were in 5th!

On the painting side, all my marines are now based and have decals applied before the final weathering stage to the armour. Everything requiring a 32mm base is properly based (40mm pending) and they even have arms glued on - which wasn't the case in the action shots above.

My standard bearer looks a lot happier with an icon in the middle of the banner. Glad I opted for the gradient effect in the background behind the wolf head, as pure yellow on yellow would have looked strange. Still want to repaint the words underneath as the spacing is incorrect and annoying me.

Took the plunge and made a couple of small conversions to my Primaris marines too. So my Lieutenant and Captian now have more appropriate power swords. Clipping these off was a nerve wracking experience, as I rarely convert - and didn't want to ruin the models. Happily it worked out fine, so once painted it should be seamless. Phew.

Finished squads should start appearing in the near future. But as I rarely post WIP content this was a nice change of pace and a reminder things do happen in the background!