Blackstone Fortress – the villains part two – Chaos auxillaries

“I think that’s enough for one blog post. More to follow soon (stop laughing)!”

~ Prometian Painting, like, earlier this week

This is the nice thing about going over a year between blog posts – I’ve got loads of stuff to talk about, the photos are already taken, I just need to upload and waffle about them.

Next up are “the rest” of the non-guard, non-marine chaos models. Some of these were a real treat to paint.

Beastmen a

The beastmen were an interesting project – somewhat more flesh than I usually paint for one, and – due to the nature of the sculpts – rather samey. As you can see above, there are two sets of legs, two sets of arms and two faces, so you can get four unique poses, but.. there still isn’t a great deal that separates them from each other.

beastmen b

As a result, I quickly decided that I’d do each one’s hair/fur a different colour, and I think it gives some nice variety and character to each one. This old grey one has a lot of personality.

beastmen c

As with my traitor guardsmen, I wanted to tie the colour schemes in with my other renegade guard (in the unending hope that we get a real Lost and the Damned codex someday). The fairly light colour scheme worked and came out nice and vibrant, and also made a lovely canvas for blood splatters, as shown above.

beastmen d

I think one of my only real frustrations with these models was the faces. My skin tones aren’t awful, but I feel that I didn’t quite capture the frenzied expressions of the sculpts. If anyone has any tips on this topic, I’d genuinely be grateful if they were shared!

beastmen e
I do really like the wooden detailing on the BSF baddies’ las weapons.

Next up, we’ve got the Negavolt Cultists:

Negavolts a

These models shared some of the annoyances the beastmen have – very little variation in pose and, with face-concealing masks, a general lack of.. character, I suppose. I have newfound empathy for necron painters.

However, on an individual basis, they were interesting to paint. As with the beastmen, each one gave a lot of skin to play with, and the metalwork was fun to corrode and scratch into something that looked genuinely damaged and worn.

Negavolts b

As with the beastmen, I also tried to add some variation through the paintjob – in this case, by varying the skintones. This turned out to be a surprisingly fun project, and gives them that little bit of variance they need to have some appeal, I think.

These guys, though – they’re the real stars of this post. Pun unintended, honest.

Psykers a

The Rogue Psykers rivalled the player characters for how fun they were to paint, I think – they’re still largely similar to each other of course, but they’ve got beautifully expressive faces (which I captured far better than the beastmen, I think), a range of textures, dramatic poses – the list goes on. I really enjoyed painting these two.

psykers b

I did decide on a whim to vary their colour schemes slightly. I tried to go with a black leather look for the one above, although I think I could have taken the highlights sharper and higher. I also gave them slightly differing skintones, which were really fun to paint – especially the faces, oddly, as those are usually a weakness of mine.

psykers c

 

That wraps up the rest of the chaos stuff, aside from the (at the time) new Chaos Space Marines – they’ll be in the next post!

Blackstone Fortress – the villains part one – Traitor Guardsmen

“More posts to follow soon!*”

~ Prometian Painting, early 2019

 

So the sun shines, the grass grows, water remains wet and I am bad at keeping up with this blog.

Anyways.

I have been painting, converting and whatnot in the past year, but through forgetfulness, real life and plain idleness, I’ve not bothered to upload anything. The silver lining to this is that I’ve got loads of stuff to talk about, so I should be able to wax lyrical about my toy soldiers for months before running out of content.

Picking up where I left off, here are some photos of the antagonists of the Blackstone Fortress box, in no particular order:

Guard a

Starting off with one of the squads of traitor guardsmen – these were a mixed bag to paint. On the one hand, they’re absolutely beautiful sculpts – each one’s richly detailed, posed dynamically and has lots of little quirks that mark them as not just grubby, but outright heretical mortals.

guard b

It takes a peculiar level of lunacy to, as the squad’s designated flametrooper, wear a nice fluffy fur coat. Also, note the wooden flamethrower.

 

Some of the sculpts have odd little quirks to them – this fellow really, really likes knives and other stabby instruments, for example:

guard e

Knife, check. Other knife, check. Boot knives one through four, check. Et cetera.

 

I also rather enjoyed fine-tuning my ‘crappy metal’ recipe on the jagged spikes, gun barrels, knives and so on – the squad came out just the right level of grubby and worn down.

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I did start to tire of them after a while, though – painting all the player characters back to back may have been a mistake, as I found after about guardsmen four or five, I was getting bored.

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Still, as a squad they look lovely, and they’ve been standing in as cultists in my regular 40k games from time to time. On that note, as you can see, they’ve been given my standard lava bases – I made the decision to have anything I’d feasibly use in my chaos army have matching bases to tie them in, whereas some of the models that’ll literally only be used in BSF (Ur Ghuls, Spindle Drones and so on) got the starship hull base treatment.

 

guard d

I like to think this guardsman isn’t the squad’s official grenadier in any way, he’s just taken all the high explosives and everyone else is too afraid of him to ask for them back.

The colour scheme of the squad was painted to match my slow-grow renegade guard army, and I’ve got to say – I really like how the off-white tunics came out. You don’t see many chaos armies make use of white (other than pre-heresy World Eaters and Death Guard, anyway), and it really contrasts the bases nicely while also not vying for attention when fielded with my actual Chaos Space Marines.

guard c

The dirty grey flak armour also came out well – stormvermin fur’s a bizarre colour, in that I find it looks nothing like how it appears in the pot once it’s on the model. It and a mix with karak stone gives a really nice muted colour, though.

 

guard g

I still maintain that cultists/guardsmen are the bravest souls in the galaxy. It takes balls to even leave one’s house in the 41st millenium, let alone if your armament of choice is a club with metal lumps in it.

There is one mark of shame to this unit, though – its lack of a counterpart. As I mentioned earlier, one of the challenges with painting this squad was how samey it got after a while, and one of the most disappointing things about BSF is that – with the exception of the Chaos Lord – every single model is duplicated. So when I finished these seven traitor guardsmen, I was – and still am – confronted with this:

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Some day I’ll muster the energy to go back and finish them, but for now, this squad sits at the bottom and back of my cabinet, a mark of shame on an otherwise finished project. Ah well.

I think that’s enough for one blog post. More to follow soon (stop laughing)!

Blackstone Fortress – the heroes

…Well, “Heroes” is a bit of a strong term in 40k. Maybe protagonists would be a more appropriate term?

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Blackstone Fortress is my first foray into GW’s  ‘games inna box’ range, and I have to say, I’m glad I splashed out on it. £95 seemed a daunting cost for a collection of models that I’m most likely never going to use in any game other than Blackstone Fortress itself, but the sheer joy of painting this ragtag bunch of misfits has easily justified the purchase.

I think after converting and kitbashing, painting characters is my favourite part of the hobby, so the chance to paint eight (or nine, depending on how one counts ratlings) unique models back to back was amazing. Each of the characters is a beautiful sculpt, and for someone who primarily paints Dudes In Armour; a chance to push my painting in new directions. The sheer variation of textures and materials on each model was fantastic.

A quick note on photos – each of the images below is actually quite large, so make sure to click/tap on them if you want to see any detail!

 

Janus Draik 0.jpg
Freehanding the lines on the magnificent trousers was touch-and-go for a while, but I think they came out nicely. Also, check out the polish on that codpiece. 

 

Unusually for me, the models are not even slightly converted; each being built 100% stock. I decided that as they are each meant to represent a specific character, building them as per their instructions was quite reasonable and helped preserve the masterful sculpting. I couldn’t resist deviating from the paint schemes, however – deciding to do Janus Draik in flamboyant dragoon red and cream was a bold choice that really paid off. I also had a lot of fun giving him a different skin tone and hair colour, and honestly swear that any similarities to certain anime characters coincidental.

Pious Vorne 0.jpg
I do love how the aesthetic line between the most fanatical corpse-worshippers and the followers of The Powers blurs. I genuinely had to convince a friend that this wasn’t a Chaos model. 

I did – as is tradition – give the models some custom 3D bases, however. Each one is a rather ingenious combination of ‘plastic canvas’ (something I wasn’t aware was a thing until I stumbled over it in a hobby shop – a single £3 sheet will last me the entirety of the box set and then some) and, believe it or not, cable ties. By sanding the base and then the cable ties and canvas on both sides, I ensured they would stick to both the models and the bases, and with a liberal amount of superglue I think I managed to make something both convincing, quick, and cheap.

 

Rein & Raus 3.jpg
I’m particularly proud of how edible I managed to make the knapsack contents look. 

 

The ratling brothers were a definite test of my ability to do fine detail – having grown accustomed to painting beefy concrete-clad supersoldiers, I really wasn’t prepared for just how small the twins were. I have newfound respect for Duardin/Goblin collectors.

 

Rein & Raus 2
The fridge is definitely the highlight of this model, although I am rather chuffed with how the leather holster came out. 

 

I did scavenge my bits box for bits of starship hull to add to the bases. While I do like the almost Tron-like style ‘Eavy Metal went for with their BSF bases on the box art, I decided I wanted something more aged and Space Hulk-ish for mine. Adding a Rhino hatch to give the sniper ratling an elevated position was a fun touch, and fit nicely onto the 25mm base.

 

Espern Lucarno 0.jpg
I like to think it is only the Navigator’s masterful precognitive abilities that stop him from sticking his cane straight through the grating on the floor and falling flat on his face.

 

As I’ve explained in previous posts, cloaks have got to be one of my favourite surfaces to work with, and BSF does not disappoint for opportunities to play with them. I hadn’t tried a really deep rich blue like this before, and was really happy with the result. It was fun to try out actual gold as well, rather than the usual Screaming Bell base I go with for my Chaos Marines’ trim.

 

Taddeus the Purifier 0.jpg
The Bishop of Battle. The Cardinal of Combat. The Priest of Pulverising. The Deacon of Decimation. I can go on.

 

Purifier Taddeus was sadly the weakest of the lot, I think in part due to the challenge of painting cream on such a large surface area. The model is not bad per se, but not quite on par with the art I was trying to copy. I did enjoy painting him with a darker skin-tone, though, and I think it looks convincing.

 

UR-025 0.jpg
Permanently nicknamed “Friendbot” after a few scrapes in one of my group’s first games.

 

UR-025 was a chance to try another new colour, as I barely work with orange for anything other than lava effects. The model doesn’t drip personality to quite the extent of the more fleshy heroes, so I decided to go to town with the battle damage and markings. Not all of the latter came out as straight and angular as I was hoping, but I think the effect is pretty strong.

 

Dahyak Grekh 0.jpg
I get very strong Garrus vibes from this guy. 

 

The Kroot is probably my crowning achievement with the collection so far – it’s one of those models where everything came together nicely, from the blending on the skin (never painted green skin before!) to the worn leather cloak and the ochre rifle. I’m also really happy with the slight orange tint to the beak.

Amallyn Shadowguide 0.jpg
Trying to think of something funny to say about this one, but I’ve got nothing. Pretty model what I done painted good. 

The star of the show, however – at least in terms of “wow factor” – is the Aeldari ranger. This is another model where everything just worked – the white armour came out smooth, the leather is some of my best work, the cloak is well blended, and the cameleoline effect worked out surprisingly well. If I could improve one thing, it’d be her eyes, but that level of precision will only come with more practice.

..And that’s it, so far! I’m now starting to chew through the hostiles while I wait with bated breath to see what the rumoured Chaos Space Marine update brings. More posts to follow soon!*

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Please note that the word “soon” when used by Prometian Painting is similar in reliability and accuracy to 40k warp travel. 

Hands and faces where there shouldn’t be hands or faces

Two blog posts in a month! As promised, this post is going to look at something a little different to my normal 40k fare – a board game that costs as much as a Warhound Titan and weighs even more, Kingdom Death: Monster (nsfw, kinda).

box
This thing weighs nearly 10kg. That is the weight of two to three newborn children, apparently.

Kingdom Death: Monster – usually abbreviated to ‘KDM’ is an interesting beast. Styled by its designer as “Boutique Nightmare Horror,” a combination of words not usually seen in that configuration, it draws influence from videogames such as Dark Souls, Monster Hunter, XCOM and many others, and probably has strong boardgame roots as well (I’m not enough of a boardgame connoisseur myself to recognise them, however).

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The core premise is a simple one – a collection of “survivors” awaken in a nightmare realm inhabited by terrifying monsters, and try to eke out an existence hunting said monsters for sustenance and equipment, building a settlement as they find other survivors, form families and reproduce and develop technologies and philosophies.

I won’t delve too deeply into the gameplay mechanics in this post, but the ’boutique’ part of the slogan plays into this idea of scavenging monster bits and making gear, Monster Hunter-style. There is a vast array of armour, weapons and other equipment the survivors can make, and the game, being a miniatures boardgame (see! It is relevant to my blog!), represents this on the models. To a decadent, almost excessive extent.

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The game comes with a preposterous number of models. For every armour set (rawhide, leather, early iron, etc) there are the parts to build four survivors, two male and two female. Each weapon is represented three times, in a left-hand, right-hand and no-hand configuration (for holstering at a belt or the like), as is each accessory and gear bit. The sculpts are not quite on par with GW’s more recent stuff, but the flexibility of being able to pose and equip your characters almost however you like rivals Heroforge stuff for that personal satisfaction of being able to create something unique.

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You can’t even claim the old “+5 distraction bonus to armour class” justification when you’re fighting lions. This poor lady is going to regret armouring everything other than several rather vital organs.
A side note should be mentioned here, however – KDM’s aesthetic has been described by some as ‘tits and death’ – in the horrific darkness of this nightmare realm, women sadly do not have time to find a shirt that fits. As someone who primarily paints hulking manly men in solid concrete armour, I don’t get much exposure to the by-default approach to sexualisation of female miniatures that’s apparent in our hobby, and KDM takes it further than most. It’s great to see GW making strides toward decent female minis (the recent female Stormcast models are the breath of fresh air this industry’s needed for ages), so it’s therefore a bit disappointing to have some otherwise amazing models suffer the same old nonsense.

But with that as an aside, the survivor models are a real joy to build and paint. And that’s before we get on to the monsters.

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The monsters are the real stars of the game’s design. While some are a pain to put together and are all mono-pose, they’re a definite joy to work with and the end results are something distinctly different to anything else I’ve painted. Each one has something otherworldly and wrong about it, from a hulking white lion that has humanoid hands, to the ‘Screaming Antelope,’ a beast that looks fairly mundane from the top down but has a massive gaping maw for a chest, surrounded by tiny grasping hands.

At time of writing, I’m probably about 5-10% through assembling and painting the core box for the game, and have caved and bought a couple of expansions already. This blog will still be primarily 40k-focused, but I will from time to time do a post about a KDM model (or models) I’ve finished – they break up the monotony of power armour very nicely, and really let me push my painting to new levels. I hope you find them interesting, and would love any feedback or thoughts you have!

Before I go, I’ll leave you with a few photos of some of the ones I’ve finished:

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(Still alive) Finished Models – Obliterators

“Trying to keep up my recent pace of blog posts,[…]”

~Prometian Painting, June 2018

So it’s been a while since I did a post. My sincere apologies to any regular readers still around – a combination of LARP taking over my Summer, work fatigue and videogames dominating my Autumn and simple laziness eroding my Winter have meant that I’ve lacked the energy, time or enthusiasm to keep up with blog posts.

I have, however, been painting. I took an extended break for a few months, but have managed to finish a few projects, and a torrent of exciting releases has kept my interest up. Hopefully (but it’d be foolish to promise anything) I’ll stay in the saddle for a bit longer this time and release a few posts in a row!

Anyway – enough preamble. If you’re here, you’re here for the models. Here’s one of my favourite conversions to date – my Obliterators.

Oblit1
Ain’t no mutations here. Just good honest overwhelming firepower.

…God, these were fun to work on. I’ve wanted to make some obliterators ever since I read the lore on them, and been put off the idea ever since I saw the models.

To say they haven’t aged well would be, er, an understatement. I know some old models have special places in some collectors’ hearts, but I have honestly never met someone who likes the official Obliterator models – they’re ugly blocks of resin with goofy faces, awkward poses and a mishmash of guns that’d make an Ork Mek sigh in disappointment. The gribbly body horror approach to Chaos has never really appealed to me much anyway, so using the models as even the basis of a conversion was a non-starter of an idea.

Oblit2
Loyalists can only fit a single heavy bolter per arm. Chaos laughs at their weakness.

Fortunately, there are other kits that make much better obliterators than the stock models. My constant source of inspiration Krautscientist did some very impressive stuff with various kits, and a google search for Obliterator conversions shows people using terminators, Kastlean robots, Primaris Aggressors and other similarly chunky models for more mechanical, less mutated bases for their conversions.

Oblit3

The ideal pick, it turned out, was Centurions. Big and chunky enough to fit the stat profile nicely and with a plethora of spare bits, they were a perfect place to start – once all the Imperial iconography had been filed off, anyway. A process that took some time, incidentally – the base models are literally covered in aquilas, winged skulls and other nonsense. I consider myself very lucky that nobody in the sculpting team decided to add purity seals.

Oblit4

The other key component, as you can probably tell, was the Helbrute kit. In my search for inspiration I came across Master of the Forge’s preposterously well-made Obliterator conversions, which combined the centurion kit, the Helbrute and some sort of greenstuff witchcraft that was beyond my comprehension. The clever use of Helbrute shoulderpads and horn crest things was not, however, and as it turned out the only bit of “sculpting” I had to do, if it can even be called that, was to build the top of the cowl for each model.

Oblit5

While my green-stuffing leaves something to be desired, one lovely perk of being a Chaos player is that if something doesn’t look very good, you can just wedge a skull or a spike in there to cover your untidy work.

Oblit6
Peripheral vision is overrated.

The weapons were also largely from the Helbrute kit, neatly slotting in at the centurion’s elbow joints. The one being shown between paragraphs here did get a hodgepodge of smaller weapons around its terminator chainfist, including an Imperial Knight’s heavy stubber and a centurion’s flamer, but by and large the weapons were just added straight from the Helbrute. The trim on the weapons matched the shoulderpads, which really helped tie the models’ aesthetics together.

Oblit7
How does he hit anybody with the chainfist? Why does the flamer appear to take stubber rounds? Who knows!

The rest of the build was fairly straightforward. Cables were made out of green stuff with my trusty tentacle maker, partially to bulk the models out and partially to hide the very clean and mundane rears of the models. Spare bloodletter heads were glued over the mechanicus symbols on two of the Obliterators’ reactors and painted to look like worked metal instead of daemonflesh (although in the Warp, those two terms are not necessarily mutually exclusive). The other got a nice little Khorne rune that I think came from my Bloodthirster, of all things.

Oblit8

The final stroke of genius that I’m quite proud of was the chest plates for two of the Obliterators. Long-term readers will probably know the part as from my favourite kit for conversions, but if you don’t recognise it, I’ll give you a moment.

Oblit9
Sometimes, Imperial iconography looks perfectly chaotic and evil without needing any adjustments.

It’s a Skullcrusher‘s head-plate! I’ve now used this piece as a plate of armour, a storm shield for one of my Chosen – it is amazing how versatile kits can be if you experiment.

Oblit10

For painting the models, I have to say I really like how these guys came out. I really pushed myself with the blue-black armour, dialling it up, and I think it came out really rather well. I also experimented with the lava cracks on the last Obliterator I painted (the one at the top of the page, with the twin heavy bolter and multimelta), and found that if I put the brightest part of the cracks where the lines meet rather than at the edge of the armour plate, it looks so much better. I will bear this in mind for future models!

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All in all, really happy with these guys. They’re probably one of my most striking centrepieces to date, and instantly recognisable as what they represent despite having no bits in common with the official model – a converter’s dream. The fact that they kick ass on the tabletop only sweetens the satisfaction of finishing them.

As always, criticism and feedback is hugely appreciated – I’m amazed that this blog is still getting hits given my inactivity, so please – I love hearing from people, if you visit this page, say hi!

For my next post, we’ll be looking at something a bit different – in my time between blog posts, I’ve started work on a massive project completely separate from anything Warhammer-related. Here’s a picture of one of the more interesting angles of one of the models in question:

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Stay tuned! 🙂

Finished Models – Renegade Scions

Trying to keep up my recent pace of blog posts, here’s a write-up of some actual models rather than a tutorial – my (first) squad of Renegade Tempestus Scions.

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Click the pictures for bigger pictures!

Since the Militarum Tempestus Scions were announced, I wanted some – their armour looked like it had some similarities to Marines’ power armour (and thus, some transferable skills for me in terms of painting them), the cloth would be a fun new challenge, the kits were absolutely coated in detail and optional bits, and they looked… well, cool. Maybe it’s British conditioning, but I love the idea of the plucky underdog every bit as much as that of the superhuman power fantasy, and the Scions – the Imperium’s mortal human special forces – toe the line between those two concepts perfectly.

I remember there being some grumbling when these models did come out, as they replaced the old line of Kasrkin Stormtroopers but honestly, comparing the two and without the tinting of nostalgia goggles, I do prefer the more stylised look of the newer Scions. Also, the new models being multi-part plastic made one thing much easier, obviously – converting them, because there’s no loyalist kit that can’t be improved with additional spikes and horned helmets.

39 Renegade Scions 3

The conversions did pose some unique challenges, however. Due to the cables on the hellguns (yes, yes, I know they’re called ‘hot-shot’ lasguns these days, but ‘hellgun’ sounds better and more chaotic), each backpack, pair of arms and gun went together in a very particular way, meaning I could only do so much fiddling without changing the overall distinctive silhouette. I did for the most part scrape off the Aquilas from the guns and armour (although I left a couple on deliberately, for visual variation and maybe to indicate a slight level of guilt on the part of the bearers), but for the most part, the conversions were simple headswaps.

I took most of the heads from the Chaos Knights kit – I was tempted to use my ever-reliable Skullcrushers bits, but decided in the end to try to reserve the look of said helms for my heretic Astartes. The much more medieval look of the Chaos Knights heads also fit better with the trim on the Scions’ armour, I thought, tying together the feudal and futuristic feels that embody Chaos so distinctively.

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Now, as you can see from the link to the store page, Chaos Knights helmets are bedecked with horns and crests. While these look imposing from horseback, it quickly became apparent as I dry-fitted them on my infantry that they looked ridiculously oversized (although they might do the trick for some Marine conversions I have planned in the future). As a result, for the above and following models, I actually shaved the horns off, and in the case of the fellow above, added an antenna to make sure the helm didn’t look too dull and narrow.

Trophies were an easy addition – it was a simple case of fitting a skull on a shoulderpad, then gluing a spike on top of it. I like to think each skull is someone the Scion had a personal vendetta against – a commanding officer, a Commissar who shouted a bit too loudly, or perhaps simply the previous wearer of the carapace armour, before the uprising.

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Converting was almost dull once I knew what I wanted to do, but painting these models was a delight start to finish. I decided I wanted the models’ carapace armour to match the colours of my Renegade Commander, going for an off-white that would really show up any blood or battle damage I added nicely and make the elite infantry stand out on the field.

39 Renegade Scions 5.jpg
This head was actually looted from a Bloodreaver, out of the AoS starter box set. I really do love the Mandalorian T-visors.

The fatigues and leather followed suit, using different grey hues to add some variety and indication of texture. The Scions’ rifles and other metal bits are obviously in somewhat better condition than their boss’s, but that’s perhaps intentional – if these guys are actual traitor Scions, I like to think they’ve still kept their discipline. Besides, not maintaining a hellgun properly seems like a recipe for disaster.

39 Renegade Scions 2

The unit champion (a perk to becoming a servant of the powers – you aren’t a sergeant anymore, you’re a Champion) got a bit of extra work, both in terms of building and painting. While I realised after building him that the squad leader can’t carry a plasma gun, the open pose showing off the breastplate was too good to pass up. I decided to let him keep his ostentatious horned helmet too, and enjoyed cobbling together a savage-looking glaive from a Grave Guard great weapon. The blood splatter was fun to add, and between it, the plasma glow, the white armour and the parchment pinned to the backpack, I really feel like I demonstrated my ability as a painter with this guy.

That about wraps this unit up – here’s a picture of the squad again, this time with the Renegade Commander (who needs a name), showing what a good bodyguard unit they make:

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Although the unit champion arguably looks more like a warlord than baldie does.

Thanks as always for reading, and stay tuned for more!

Tutorial – Lava Bases

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Well, that previous tutorial was surprisingly well received. I’m glad you guys liked it, and look forward to seeing the results of anyone who has a bash at it themselves!

As I’ve not had much time to paint this week and in light of the Molten Skin guide being quite easy to throw together, I figured I’d write up a guide on how I do the other signature part of my army – my lava bases. This took even less effort on my part than the previous article, as I actually did this years ago for a Facebook group I’m a part of, but again – putting any guides I do in the same place, with proper write-ups seems a good idea.

Anyway – without further ado, let’s get started.

Paints and materials needed (GW unless said otherwise):

  • Bases, obviously (ideally with the model not attached or at least not painted yet)
  • PVA glue
  • Green Stuff or other modelling putty
  • Cork tiles (any brand will do)
  • Black undercoat
  • Mechanicum Standard Grey
  • Administratum Grey
  • Evil Sunz Scarlet
  • Troll Slayer Orange
  • Mephiston Red
  • Fuegan Orange
  • Wild Rider Red
  • Fluorescent Orange (Vallejo)
  • Lahmian Medium
  • Fire Dragon Bright
  • Flash Gitz Yellow
  • White Scar
  • Fluorescent Yellow (Vallejo)
  • Abaddon Black
  • Agrax Earthshade

Step 1 

So, let’s get started. The first step is, naturally, to build an actual base for the model to stand on. There are many, many approaches for lava bases out there, with even Warhammer TV chiming in with a nice, if understated effect using Martian Ironearth, but I’ve always preferred the look of larger lumps of rock floating in the lava. Yes, it’s impractical, and some of my guys are quite ridiculous when you stop to think about them (My Chosen should really stop posing and find some better footing, to be honest), but the look is striking and the extra elevation helps give every marine some presence. When the rocks are glued together, I would recommend getting some sandpaper and smoothing down the edges of the rocks a little – not too much, but enough that flakes of cork won’t break off every time you play with the model.

The approach is very simple – tear up some cork floor tiles (linked above) and superglue them to the base. Cork is an incredible tool for creating lumps of rock, urban debris, small cliffs – loads of stuff, really. I know some painters consider themselves above it, and I will admit that it can look rather same-y across multiple armies, but in lieu of actual rocks or sculpting skills, it does the job fairly nicely. Make an island (or several, depending on base size), add a few chunks that float freely in the lava flow, and you’re halfway done already. If you want some variation, you can double or even triple up layers as I did with my Renegade Knight.

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If you want and you have the space, you can also add some bubbles. This has to be the part I get asked on the most, but honestly, it’s probably the simplest aspect of the base – you take a ball of green stuff, superglue it to the base, then squidge the sides down with a modelling tool. That’s it.

Once any bubbles and rocks are secure, an optional step I’d recommend is to give the whole lava part of the base a thick coat of PVA glue, deliberately lapping up the sides of the rocks. This will help smooth out the plastic texture of the base itself, and also make the lava look more viscous when painted.

Before we move on, a point on positioning. As we’re doing a 3D base rather than just a flat disc for a model to stand on, placement of the rocks is important. Think about where the model’s going to stand, whether any dangling bits (cloaks, weapon hafts, etc. Get your mind out of the gutter) will collide with the rocks, and so on. With bigger models, you’re almost certainly going to want to pin the model through the cork and the base, so having a path for the pin in mind is also a good idea.

Anyway – with that done, let the base dry, undercoat it black and move on to step 2!

Step 2

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With the base built, we can now get started on painting them. The first step is dead simple – a heavy drybrush of Mechanicus Standard Grey on the rocks (A point of trivia; ‘Mechanicus Standard Grey On The Rocks’ is a popular if exceptionally bland cocktail found on Mars). You want to really get into the recesses here, as we’re going for a grey, not black look (although I suppose you could also go for much darker rocks if you want). Not a whole lot more to this step than that.

As a side note, you can see in the photo above that the bubbles do a decent job of looking like part of the base now – the PVA glue really does help.

Step 3

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Next step is a lighter drybrush of Administratum Grey, focused on the edges of each rock. You can tailor this to taste, as with the previous step – I’ve experimented with just using Dawnstone, or even using colours as bright as Ulthuan Grey if I’m going for something really striking.

With that, the rocks are done – not much more to say, rocks aren’t very exciting. On to what you’re really here for – the lava!

Step 4

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…Okay, I lied – we’re not quite done with the rocks, but we’re doing something at least lava-related. You see, lava glows. Without some ambient light bouncing onto the rocks, the lava will just look like orange water. Fortunately, creating ‘object source lighting’ (OSL) for this is incredibly easy – it just takes a directional drybrush of a few colours.

Firstly, you’ll want a bright, warm red – Evil Sunz Scarlet is a good choice – which you use to drybrush onto the rocks, starting at the bottom and moving upward. You can be quite rough with this; the goal is to build up a good heavy glow and arguably any part of the rocks protruding over the molten lava should be lit up. If you’re feeling really brave, there’s nothing stopping you doing this on your painted models too, although I tend to not bother as the signature ‘lava trousers‘ my guys wear would fight with an ambient glow for attention on the base.

Step 5

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With the red done, you then repeat the process a bit more gently with a bright orange, focusing this on the areas closest to the lava. I used Troll Slayer Orange, as the next colour up – Fire Dragon Bright – is a bit desaturated for my purposes. If you want though, you could keep doing this and go all the way through to yellow, really intensifying the glow close to the molten part. Go nuts!

Step 6

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Now we’re done with the rocks.

For the lava itself, the first step is a good solid red foundation. Mephiston Red is perfect for this – bright and vibrant, which is exactly what we want. Slop it on heavily all over the lava (including the bubbles), but try to avoid any brush strokes being visible, as these will stand out later.

Step 7

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An optional stage here is to add a shade. I used Fuegan Orange, and the effect is subtle – it pulls the drybrushed glow on the rocks in together, and also adds a bit of definition to the bubbles. That said, I often skip this stage out of laziness, and I have yet to have anyone else point out the difference.

Step 8

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Once the shade is dry, you can start layering colours on. The process here is an inversion of what we talked about in my Molten Skin tutorial – we start with the duller reds in the coolest areas, then build out to bright oranges and yellows where the lava is hottest – i.e., the furthest away from the floating rocks (I have no idea if this is how lava works in real life, but it looks good).

The first stage is to get an even coat of Evil Sunz Scarlet over the Mephiston Red, leaving a thin band of Mephiston around each island. If you want, you can vary the width of the bands, suggesting lumps of solid rock below the surface or a fluctuating temperature.

Step 9 (& 10)

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Repeat with Wild Rider Red, again leaving a band of Evil Sunz Scarlet visible. You can feather these divides if you like, but I don’t tend to find that necessary once the glazes are down.

For Step 10, I followed Wild Rider Red with Troll Slayer Orange, but forgot to take a photo – you can probably figure out what to do with it from the above, though.

Step 11

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Next is a glaze. As with the Molten Skin tutorial, you can use Bloodletter here if you want – it’ll pull the layers together and add some brightness – but personally, I’ve been using Fluorescent paint for this. The sheer vibrancy of the paint adds a lot to the base, and really catches the eye – if you can get hold of it, I thoroughly recommend it.

The glaze is a 2:1 mix of Lahmian Medium and Vallejo Fluorescent Orange, and is applied across all the lava. You can also splash some up the sides of the rocks to great effect.

Step 12

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When the glaze is dry, you pick up where you left off with Fire Dragon Bright, once more leaving bands of darker colours. You might find now that you’re down to just a sliver of colour in some places, but that’s fine – the high contrast will really make the base pop.

You may notice that at this stage I’ve also edged the base in my brightest colour, creating a nice ring of fiery orange. I’ve also deliberately left a perimeter of darker colour around the base of each bubble – this might be woefully unrealistic, but again, the intent is to make the bubbles pop (no pun intended).

Step 13 (& 14)

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Almost done! Ideally you should now be down to just a few thin strips of bright colour, and in some places as you can see above, you don’t even want to add any more.

This photo was taken after I had added Flash Gitz Yellow, and then finally a very small amount of pure White Scar on the tops of the bubbles and the absolute hottest parts of the lava. The white may need a few coats to get an even surface, but it’s worth it.

Step 15

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Finally – for the layering, anyway – we add another glaze, this time of Vallejo Fluorescent Yellow. I only added it on the brightest areas such as the bubbles, really making them stand out.

Finishing Touches

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With Step 15 done, the bases are pretty much finished! You can see the bases used for this tutorial above, with my converted ‘Skullreaver’ cavalry mounted on them.

There are a few finishing touches that I’ve taken to adding, which you can just make out above. Firstly, I add a band of black around the edge of the base, tidying up my inevitable mistakes. Then, using Abaddon Black, I like to add a smattering of black flecks to the lava, mainly in the cooler areas near the big rocks, and finally shade the recesses with a little Agrax Earthshade. The flecks look like tiny floating bits of rock, and the shade adds a tiny bit more contrast, while also cooling down the recesses a bit.

Since taking the pictures for this tutorial, I’ve also taken to adding some texture paint to the rocks before undercoating. Which one you go with doesn’t matter – I use Mourn Mountain Snow, of all things – but the texture adds some variety and makes the rocks look a bit less unnatural. There’s a collage of some of my best bases at the end of this post that demonstrate this in action.

That about sums this tutorial up – I hope it’s of use to some of you, and as always – if anyone does make use of it, please let me know and share your creations!

Stay tuned for more!

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