Tutorial – Molten Skin

While I’m in between units to write about (I need to dedicate some time to getting the lightbox out and shooting my recent projects, but time is one of those things I never seem to have), I figured I’d address a popular request. I’m often asked how I did the molten Daemon skin on my Bloodletters and Bloodthirster, and while explanations are buried in those respective articles, I’ve not really put a step by step guide in one easy-to-find place so far.

Since I have some photos lying around from when I painted my Daemons, I’ve put together a tutorial for painting molten skin below – it’d probably work well for an Avatar of Khaine, a Balrog, a corrupted Salamander, a Fyreslayer Magmadroth and anything else that is going for the ‘inner heat’ look. Have a read and let me know what you think!

Paints needed (GW unless said otherwise):

  • White undercoat Corax (White in my case)
  • Flash Gitz Yellow
  • Fluorescent Yellow (Vallejo)
  • Fire Dragon Bright
  • Troll Slayer Orange
  • Fluorescent Orange (Vallejo)
  • Fluorescent Magenta (Vallejo)
  • Wazdakka Red
  • Rhinox Hide
  • Bloodletter
  • Lamentor’s Yellow
  • Dark Reaper

Techniques used

  • Drybrushing
  • Overbrushing
  • Glazing
  • Layering

The basic approach can be boiled down to ‘reverse shading’ – we start with a very bright (and warm) colour, then drybrush and layer darker and cooler colours on top, to create the impression of an inner heat that gradually cools to black skin or volcanic rock the further from the heat source we get.

I’ll be using photos from my Bloodthirster primarily, but in some places I might demonstrate a stage with a different model where I forgot / didn’t bother to photograph a certain stage with the ‘Thirster.

Step 0 – photo references

When attempting something new, photo references are always a good idea. As I was going for a lava theme, looking up photos of.. well, lava, made sense. I found some lovely pictures of the this that demonstrated what I wanted to achieve:



You can really see what I mean about the cooling – the colours quite rapidly go from a glowing yellow, through orange and red to a dull hot-metal pink, and finally an almost bluish grey in certain lights. It’s a really nice contrast that I thought would look great on a model.

Step 1 – Unremarkable White


…not a lot to say here, other than that a light undercoat is pretty much mandatory. I’d advise a white spray over a yellow one, as even things like an Aveland Sunset spray (is there such a thing?) would be designed to have brighter yellows over the top. We’re starting at maximum brightness and dulling it down, so white it is.

I used Corax White spray with a thin coat of White Scar over the top, but to be honest – a white spray is a white spray.

Step 2 – Oh-God-My-Eyes Yellow

Paint it yellow! With this step we’re laying down the brightest, hottest part of the model, getting right into the recesses where the molten core would bleed through most prominently.

I started by laying down a mix of Flash Gitz Yellow and Vallejo Fluorescent Yellow all over the model, at about a 2:1 ratio. Fluorescent paints are not to everyone’s tastes, but they really make the model pop. However, fluorescent yellow used neat (you can see some on the pallette) has an almost greenish tinge in natural light, so some Flash Gitz was used to help get the hue right.

The entirety of this guide can be prefixed with “adjust to taste,” by the way. For my Bloodthirster I wanted it to look really hot and elemental, so my deepest layer was as hot and vibrant as I could get it. My helbrute from my previous post however, I did with a much cooler, more smouldering look – have a play around with recipes.

The photo’s actually of step 2, where I had started to lay down the next colour and add some depth to the model. As I said, these photos are cobbled together rather than shot for purpose, but still, if you look at the above you can see the two stages clearly enough.

Step 2 – Slightly-Less-Violent Yellow

Once the fluorescent basecoat was done, I started laying down cooler colours, the first of which was a heavy overbrush of a Fluorescent Yellow / Fire Dragon bright 1:1 mix. For those unfamiliar with it, “overbrushing” is a term GW (I think) coined a while back, which is more or less heavy drybrushing without getting rid of as much of the paint on the brush. The result is a more even coat than the dusting effect of drybrushing, while still avoiding the recesses of the model – a good way to lay down a midtone quickly over a textured piece.

As you can see on the above picture, overbrushing leads to relatively flat colours on smooth areas like the individual muscles, but it leaves some pure yellow in between them.

Step 3 – Presidential Orange


With each stage, I used less paint and less vigour with my overbrushing, moving to darker colours. This stage was a 2:1 mix of Troll Slayer Orange and Fluorescent Orange. I started to fade out the fluorescent paints at this stage, but a small measure of them still helped keep the orange vibrant and hot.

Step 4 – Englishman-At-The-Beach Red


With this stage, I was done with the overbrushing, and switched to more traditional layering. The mix for this stage was approximately a 2:1:1 cocktail of Wazdakka Red, Fluorescent Magenta and Lahmian Medium – the medium thinned it out to a heavy glaze-consistency, and the Fluorescent Magenta kept the vibrancy up while moving out of orange and into red territory in terms of heat.

I’m not really sure what to call the technique, as it’s not quite layering and not quite glazing either – I basically put a globule of the thinned paint in the ‘coldest’ part of the area I was painting (say, the Bloodthirster’s bicep), washed my brush and then quickly dragged it around the area, spreading a smoothly thinning area of paint toward the hotter areas. The result is a fairly decent gradient from the pinkish red to the yellow, for not too much work.

Step 5 – WIP-Barbecue Brown


This stage was a huge relief, as it was when the model started to finally look a bit like the inspiration images and the idea in my head. The recipe I used was a roughly 1:1:1 of Wazdakka Red, Lahmian Medium and Rhinox Hide – Now done with the fluorescent paints and definitely working on the colder, less volatile areas, a splash of brown helped cool down the red without transitioning straight to black.

I finally put away my big brushes at this point too – this was now all being layered on traditionally, painted in parallel lines that followed the shape of the musculature. The effect was instantly dramatic, I have to say. For areas like the wings – we can see I’ve started on its right one – I stuck to drybrushing, treating each membrane like one muscle for the purposes of figuring out what was hot and cold on the model – so the skin furthest from the bones was coldest, and thus got the heaviest drybrushing.

Step 5 – Overdone Barbecue Grey


Almost done at this stage! Now that I had moved from yellow through orange and red to cooling brown, the only parts left to do were the ‘black bits’ – the lumps of re-solidifed rock that give lava that dynamism and contrast. I did consider doing them actually black or neutral grey, but decided instead to add a subtle hint of bluish green to them – a complimentary and contrasting colour to the reddish orange of the model’s recesses.

The technique was initially the same as the previous stage – a layering of a 2:1 mix of Dark Reaper and Rhinox Hide, followed by a highlight of pure Dark Reaper. Depending on the area, the highlight was done as either a sharp edge, such as the horns or cheekbones, or a gentle drybrush on parts like the wing membranes or the Khorne scar on the chest.

Step 6 – Glazing and focal points


The final stage! All that was left was to ‘bring it all together,’ so to speak. The model looked pretty damn striking as it was, but I found that by using the Bloodletter and Lamentor’s Yellow glazes in varying ratios to each other, I could pull the transitionary areas together much better than I could ever hope to with just overbrushing. A 1:1 mix of the above two glazes between the pectorals helped link them together nicely, for example, suggesting that the ribcage overall is fairly uniform in depth. I also used it to just cheat in a few areas, and tidy up spots that I’d forgotten to layer up properly. 🙂

I also went back in with Fluorescent Yellow to pick out the absolute hottest areas of the model anew – in this case, the eyes, the nose and the inside of the mouth. You can see that greenish tinge I mentioned in its mouth, so perhaps the latter wasn’t the best of ideas, but for the eyes it really helped make the grinning face the focal part of the model.

Step 7 – The Rest of the Model

22 - Bloodthirster 1
Full post on the Bloodthirster here

..And that was it for the skin! Fortunately for models like Daemons, that’s actually the vast majority of the model and the rest is as simple or complicated as you choose to make it. Hopefully as this rambling tutorial’s demonstrated, the technique’s not actually that hard, just a bit of a foreign method for those of us used to painting ‘normally.’

Hopefully this is of use to someone, and if anyone does try the technique, please let me know – I’d love to see the results! And if you guys are interested in this sort of blog post in general, tell me – I’ve got a few other things like lava bases, blue-black power armour and so on that I could write tutorials for.

I’ll leave you with some snaps of other models I’ve used this on – nothing new for those that follow this blog, but pointers in one place that the technique can work on big and small models alike. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more!

21 - Bloodletters 2
Full post on the Bloodletters here
24 - Bloodcrushers 1
Full post on the Bloodcrushers here
20 - terminator sorcerer 3
Full post on the Terminator Sorcerer here

Finished Models – Helbrute

..Another couple of months, another blog post. I am really not very good at this regularity thing, am I?

In my defense, real-life has been a maelstrom of illness, work, different hobbies (I’ve given LARP a go!) and other distractions, but that’s not really an excuse. All I can say is my apologies to any ongoing readers, and I’ll try to keep up a better pace!

Anyhow – you’re not here for me, you’re here for my toy soldiers. I have managed to paint a modest amount in my blog downtime, so let’s ease back into things with one of my recent projects, the first of my Helbrutes:

36 Helbrute 1

As any Chaos player can tell you, this started life as the now out-of-production Dark Vengeance Helbrute. A year or two ago, you couldn’t swing a cat in your FLGS without taking out a couple of these, and even when the multi-part Helbrute kit came out, these were still a common sight in novice Chaos players’ forces. Sadly, the maligned Helbrute wasn’t an especially effective unit, but as literally every man and his Flesh Hound had one, they were still a common sight. I quite liked the model and the idea of having a couple of ‘Brutes barrelling up the field with my Maulerfiend, so I always intended to get one at some point.

Then Dark Imperium came out, and the Helbrutes evaporated from Ebay, second hand shops and bits boxes almost overnight. As a result, it took a lot longer than expected to actually get my hands on this guy. In the meantime, I actually acquired the customisable Helbrute, which will follow in a later post, but I eventually managed to get hold of one of the DV models.

36 Helbrute 2.jpg

I know the mono-pose variant has its naysayers, and they do look a bit silly when there’s more than one, but I have to admit, I love the dynamism of it. While I’ve never really cared for the gribbly ‘The Thing’ Chaos aesthetic, the unholy marriage of flesh, bone and ceramite present on this model neatly straddles the line for me. Its dynamic pose is fun and striking, and it’s got a wealth of both details and flat panels for a painter to play with.

What it’s not, by its very nature, is customiseable, at least not out of the box. The stock model comes with a power fist – which is good, especially for a Khorne army – and a multi-melta, which in 8th edition on a walker is basically a coin flip to do anything at all. While I do usually put aesthetics ahead of function for my army, I do play and try to stick to WYSIWYG where possible, so the melta had to go.

36 Helbrute 4.jpg

Being a counts-as World Eaters player, the only logical choices were either a power scourge or a second power fist. I didn’t have any bits that really worked for a scourge, but I did have quite a few pieces left over from building Hakanor himself, namely a pair of 40k-looking daemonic hands.

The organic look of the too-long slender fingers, the power-armoured plates on the palm and back of the hand fit the aesthetic of the base model nicely, and the strange asymmetry with the mechanical left fist didn’t look out of place to me, so I went with it. Adding a pair of flamers from the Centurions box was an easy addition, and I swapped the head for an armoured one because I’m scared of painting faces because my models all wear helmets for lore reasons.

36 Helbrute 3.jpg

And to be honest, that was it for the conversion. The rest of the build took about twenty minutes, then it was on to undercoating and painting!

I tried a few new things with the model, the first of which was the skintone. I say new things – I had experimented with this colour for my Exalted Champion, but this was on a much larger scale.

I decided that I wanted to go with the same pale, almost dead-looking grey, but decided to have some fun with the recesses. Going with the general army theme of inner heat, I painted all the recesses with a duller version of the glow I did for my true Daemons, then built out to the pallid grey for the less inflamed skin. There’s still some work that could be done – flesh tones are a new beast for me – but I’m quite pleased with the result.

36 Helbrute 5
Do loyalist Space Marines have superheated twelve-packs for abdomens? This is why Chaos is better.


I also deliberately screwed with my blue-black mix for the armour plates. I think this is nearly there – maybe a tiny bit too blue in areas, but a much stronger hint than the almost plain black some of my models end up being. More fine tuning is required, but it’s not far off.

36 Helbrute 7.jpg
The temptation to bend his thumb up and his fingers in when I saw the model from this angle was strong.

The careful addition of another spot colour was an experiment, too – in this case, the borderline Slaaneshi warpfiend grey of the tentacle-nipple-tongue-whips (see why I used the word Slaaneshi?). Originally I went with the skin-tone grey, but decided to change to something with a tiny hint of purple, and am glad that I did – it adds a surprising amount of visual interest to the model for very little work or change in approach.

Overall, I’m really rather happy with how this guy came out – he’s not my best model ever, but there was a lot of new ground covered with him that pushed my hobby along. And I’d wanted a Helbrute for a while.


This actually brings us almost up to date with my 40k stuff. I do have a few other projects done but not photographed, but those aside, this blog might branch out in the near (by my standards) future. Earlier this year I received a certain Titan-priced boardgame, which has been occupying a considerable portion of my living room daring me to crack it open and get painting. I’ve got a couple of models painted that were gifted to me, but have a lot more weird and wonderful monsters and survivors to get on with.

I’ve also taken a couple of relaxed commissions from friends lately; one that I’m currently working on to paint a couple of Heroforge minis for a D&D game, and one that I finished a month or so ago that was to assemble and paint a  Ral Partha dragon that’s older than I am. Working with solid metal was… an experience. 🙂

Stay tuned!

Finished Models – Ectoplasma Rapiers

Been a while, but I have another couple of models to share with you guys – my kitbashed (and somewhat adorable) Ectoplasma Rapier Batteries:

34 Ectoplasma Rapiers 7.jpg

So I mentioned in my Imperial Knight write-up that I got hold of a Taurox almost entirely to make a Knight pilot. While this was partially true, I had long had an idea for something to do with the Taurox’s stumpy tank tracks, and the guns I still had left over from my several-year-old Maulerfiend.

Forgeworld connoisseurs may be aware of the Astartes Rapier Weapons Battery models – a mobile heavy weapon with the firepower one would more expect from a battle tank than an infantry squad. They’re sold as 30k models, but Imperial Armour 13 in its day (and now the Forgeworld Space Marines and Chaos indices) have rules for using them in 40k.

Moreover, the Chaos-flavoured ones have some fun weaponry options which don’t have official models but pack a hell of a punch and are an appealing aesthetic concept – Ectoplasma cannons, the same warp-enhanced plasma weaponry that can be mounted on the Forgefiend.

No official model, a bunch of largely suitable bits, a cool and unique image and a decent answer to my Space Marine friend’s centurions was too good an opportunity to not give a go.

34 Ectoplasma Rapiers 1.jpg

The construction was actually not all that complicated, at least in terms of bits used. The tracked units are literally just built from the Taurox as per the instructions, as were the plasma cannons from the Forgefiend. I experimented with a plasticard base and possibly a platform for the gunner to stand on, but quickly found that the model became unfeasibly bulky and tall for what it was meant to represent – Rapiers are supposed to be heavy weapons, but not tanks.

Eventually I ruled out the idea of a platform and more or less meshed the track pods with the cannon using copious amounts of green stuff, sculpted to look like a tangled mess of pipes and cables.

34 Ectoplasma Rapiers 2.jpg

Still getting good mileage out of the spare drop pod bits that came with my Dreadclaw, I built a serviceable bank of controls and displays from some of the pod’s innards. The lower cluster of lights and displays were grabbed off a bits site – I believe they’re Valkyrie optics, of all things. The exhausts to the left of the controls are from the Taurox again, and I believe the optics pod mounted at the front of the track unit were from my Land Raider‘s sponsons. Never throw bits away, kids!

34 Ectoplasma Rapiers 5

Other than a few trophy racks, that was the build basically done. I did debate giving the model a base for a while, but eventually went with it – as each of my marines carries around his own personal podium of rock to surf across the lava with (which have gradually but noticeably grown in size over the years, I notice), the Rapier looked ridiculously low-profile and dinky without something similar.

34 Ectoplasma Rapiers 8.jpg

The only other part of the build was to make some crew, of course. There’s not a great deal to say about them build-wise – I hand-swapped a bolt pistol for a boltgun to add some variety, but the rest was pretty textbook. I am a smidge proud that I can still do fairly good-looking marines with such an old kit, though.

34 Ectoplasma Rapiers 3.jpg

The paintjob was all of my tried-and-tested methods, although I did have fun playing around with the teeth and fleshy gums – a part that definitely adds to the Chaotic feel without making the models overwhelmingly gribbly. I did consider trying to play the fleshy element down, but the implication of one of the model’s special rules persuaded me to keep it looking slightly organic.

Rules-wise, these gun platforms are just that – gun platforms – unless their crews die, at which point they must move toward and charge the nearest enemy. This fluffy little rule adds a lot to them I think, and I like the image of the daemon bound in the gun letting loose, no longer operated/restrained by its crew, and surging toward whatever’s closest, snarling and chomping.


That sums these cute little plasma spitters up, at least until I get round to using the Forefiend’s other guns – you inexplicably can’t mount Hades Autocannons on Rapiers anymore, but the large multi-barrelled weapons should be good stand-ins for quad heavy bolters.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more!

Finished Models – Exalted Champion

Right, enough of that Nurgly nonsense, back to the good stuff. Here’s my warband’s latest addition to the HQ party, my Exalted Champion.

35 Exalted Champion 1

So as I’m sure all gamers are well aware by now, Chaos Marines quietly got a new unit in the 8th edition codex – the Exalted Champion, presumably the reigning Chaos Lord’s aspiring lieutenant. Whereas the Dark Apostle hands out a nice leadership buff and comes with a stock chance to shrug off half the damage he takes, the Exalted Champion focuses entirely on killing stuff to death, encouraging the warriors around him and specialising in killing characters, claiming worthy skulls for his God.

There’s a stock model  that fits the mechanics of the unit and was probably why we got the codex entry in the first place, but unfortunately I ended up using said model as a base for a somewhat more-aggressive-than-normal Warpsmith. And as the whole point of having a stable of converted heroes is that they all look different to each other, I couldn’t very well use the same model again, could I?

35 Exalted Champion 2.jpg

Fortunately, Age of Sigmar’s Khorne Bloodbound hero collection provides all the interestingly posed muscular men in armour I need. When I got given a £20 model of my choice for winning a scenery competition with my Warp Gate back in November 2017, I decided to treat myself to one of the models in question and have a go at 40kifying it, settling on the Aspiring Deathbringer with Goreaxe and Skullhammer (I love these names) as a worthy base for my warband’s champion.

35 Exalted Champion 3.jpg

Like a lot of good conversions, this one wasn’t actually all that complex to put together. I remember the joke when the Blood Warriors came out being ‘yeah, I can see where the bolt pistol and backpack can go,’ but honestly, there really isn’t a great deal more needed than that to turn a model like this into a decent 40k stand-in.

The main thing was the weapons. One power axe was a simple swap at the grip to the one from the Dark Vengeance Chosen, while the amusingly smaller one came from the Terminator Lord kit. The backpack was taken straight from the Chaos Space Marines box with no additional adornments – I found it was ornate enough on its own, and the fact I used the same piece with an additional spike for my Chaos Lord creates a nice visual link between the models, I think.

35 Exalted Champion 4.jpg
“Where can I stick a frag grenade” is the other oft-asked AoS–>40k question. 

The head is, as you can see, a Khorne Berserker one – and it created some issues. Its antlers/bunny ears didn’t quite sit in the neck socket right, and the spiky right shoulderpad also limited options as to where it could face. Eventually I had a good idea, though – the original model has this very backward-tilted pose and a weirdly low-to-the-ground stance with its legs, but if tilted on its base, it looks like it’s about to lunge forward.


35 Exalted Champion 7.jpg
Let’s just ignore those garish mould lines on the backpack exhaust, shall we?

As all of my army are apparently leaping from precariously floating lumps of rock in lava anyway, tilting the cork bit by a few degrees suddenly added a massive amount of movement and aggression without actually changing the model at all. It also meant that the warrior could now make eye contact with whoever he was charging.

There are a few things I could have done better, admittedly. I would have liked in hindsight to add some more 40k elements to the model, and while I am delighted with how the aged leather boots came out, they’re an obvious divergence from proper power armour greaves and rob the model of some of its authenticity. However, this is a relatively minor concern, and the warrior looks far from out of place leading a horde of berserkers into battle, which is what counts.

35 Exalted Champion 6.jpg

It’s arguably a nice position to be in where my painting is ‘unremarkably decent,’ but I must admit, I didn’t really push the boat out on this model paint-wise either. The armour is my by-now-classic blue-black, the axe heads are my fiery power weapon effect done to a decent standard, the OSL on the base looks good, et cetera.

I did put some effort in on the skin, however. As I’ve discussed in past posts, human skin on my Chaos Marines has been an interesting point to consider for a while – should it be normal human colours, cracking and inflamed like my Daemonkin, classic Khorne red, etc? I couldn’t really escape from the fact that this model had bare upper arms, so I decided eventually to go for a warm grey.

35 Exalted Champion 5.jpg

I quite like the effect and will go on to use it on other models such as Chaos Spawn, I think – I experimented a bit more with it on my Helbrute too (article coming soon!). It also raises some questions about the army’s origins – they hate Ultramarines, sure, but doesn’t that volcanic grey look almost Salamander-esque?


I’ll leave you with that thought – as always, thank you for reading, and stay tuned for more!

Finished Models – Death Guard Chaos Lord

A brief change of pace with this post – here’s my only (so far) act of disloyalty to my warband; my first attempt at a Death Guard model:


Fear not, my heart still belongs to black with orange bits! This was a fun side project for a friend, and arguably a bit of emotional blackmail. When Dark Imperium hit, a pair of my friends decided to go halves on it. One of them is a long-standing collector and Ultramarine painter (hence all the trophies on my bases, nothing like a bit of rivalry), but the other hadn’t rolled dice in anger for the better part of five years.

The second friend was interested in giving the game a go and got the Death Guard half of the box, but didn’t really seem to fully commit to the idea for a while. Fortunately, his birthday rolled around shortly after, so I decided to kitbash and paint a Death Guard Chaos Lord for him as a present, and as a tiny bit of encouragement to stick with the hobby. So far it’s worked, so I feel no guilt for my manipulation. 🙂

Talking about the model itself, this was a fun diversion from my usual stuff. I had a few goals – firstly, I wanted to kitbash something, rather than just getting a stock Chaos Lord and painting it Nurgly. Secondly, I really wanted to play up the gaunt, grim, reaper-esque feel of Nurgle (oddly enough, something Mortarion himself went on to embody), rather than the Diseased Jolly Fat Man aesthetic. And thirdly, I wanted to play around with the pre-heresy Death Guard colour scheme.

I’ve always had a soft spot for white armies, and can easily see myself as having gone Pre-Heresy World eaters if I’d known about them back in the day. The stark difference between my army and my friend’s also gave me a lot of room to try out new techniques (and selfishly, I’m sure we’re all aware that the best models to try new things on are ones that aren’t yours), and I felt that bone-white fitted the idea of a Grim Reaper in power armour better than Nurgly green-brown possibly could.


With a paint scheme decided, I got to work on converting. The kitbash is quite a simple one, actually – the core model is the Slaves to Darkness Chaos Lord, largely unsullied bar a change of head. I did have difficulty picking a good one, considering using a bare head, yet another de-antlered Skullcrusher helm for that psuedo Mk.III power armour look and a few other options, before settling on the classic Nurgle Chaos Space Marine helmet. The three-lobed eye firmly marks the model as a disciple of the Plague God, and the lenses gave me a nice space for using my spot colour (see below).

I did add a couple of other tweaks, of course. The glaive-spear-thing from the original model was swapped for an appropriately corroded scythe from the Blightkings box, I think, and the backpack/standard combo came from the Aspiring Champion, a whittled piece of sprue and the Nurgle icon from the Chaos Marine box.


The plasma gauntlet thing was a nice – if impractical – touch, I thought. Taken from a standard chaos marine pistol with the grip cut off and a pair of cables made from green stuff, it gives the front of the model a splash more sci-fi to its overall look, and again, gave me a place to use a nice spot colour. It also makes the Chaos Lord one of the most preposterously over-armed models I’ve made so far, sporting a Power Scythe, a Power Sword, a Plasma Pistol and a Combi-Melta. Utterly illegal rules-wise, but at least it has options!

I was quite proud of the base, too. Obviously a square base doesn’t work for 40k, and even if it did, the tiny base the Chaos Lord comes with seemed almost comically cramped and small for such an imposing model. My solution worked out quite nicely – to glue it directly on to a terminator base, then shore up the sides with green stuff and texture paint. Once a few skulls and pieces of sprue had been pushed into the setting green stuff, the base looked suitably organic and, arguably, more impressive than my own army’s. 😛


The paintjob was rather fun to do, too. I really enjoyed highlighting the off-white armour, to the extent that I kind of want to do more with it in my Renegade Guard army. Cloaks continue to be incredible fun to paint, and I would hesitantly argue that the rich shade of purple I went for actually works better than the vibrant near-pink seen in some official shots of the Death Guard models.

I also am glad that I decided to go for it and use hot pink for a spot colour. It really adds a lot of vibrancy to an otherwise quite drab model, and instantly draws the eye to the.. well, eyes, and the plasma pistol glow.


Overall pretty damn happy with this model, to the extent that giving it away was genuinely a little painful (I could never do commissions). Hope this diversion was of interest, and stay tuned for more!

Finished Models – Renegade Knight

Well, so much for frequent updates in the new year. Ah well, better late than never, right?

While I have finished writing up the vast majority of my collection by now, a side effect of it taking so long to do is that in the numerous months between me taking the photos of my army and finishing writing about them, I’ve built and painted more. I am still blogging slightly faster than I’m painting, so we should hopefully fully catch up eventually and I can start doing project logs and the like, we’ve still got a few more to get through.

Fortunately, some of them are among my best creations. This, for example, is my Renegade Imperial Knight, Loyal Kovus.

32 Renegade Knight 1.jpg
The name is a joke. He’s not actually a loyalist, if it was unclear.

I’ve got to say, I’m quite happy with this one. I’d been intimidated about the idea of working on a Knight for a long time – possibly even more so than I was by the prospect of building and painting my Kytan, but when a friend and I decided to go halves on the Imperial Knight: Renegade box (while being strongly encouraged by a Games Workshop staff member), I decided to give it a shot. I think it came out rather well. 🙂

We’ll go over the finished product in a bit more depth later in this post, but let’s start at the beginning – this was fortunately a project where I actually remembered to take progress pictures of the conversion (mainly because it took weeks to put together), so I can actually show off some of the creative process, for once.

I started by scrounging the internet for inspiration. Renegade Knights are one of those dream projects for a Chaos converter, in my opinion – there’s a strong base model for you to work with, precedent of the end goal existing in both the fiction, art and the game, but no rules on what what you do to realise the concept. Games Workshop put out an understandably quite conservative design when they released the box set, but some hobbyists and bloggers have taken the idea of a corrupted Imperial Knight much, much further (I wish I had the sources for these gorgeous images, but these were just I pulled off a google image search. You can likely find the original artists and their pages by doing the same).

As has become almost tradition by this point, Krautscientist’s work formed a sizeable chunk of my inspiration palette. The relatively subtle tweaks to the silhouette and style of the original model, while still keeping it distinctly Chaotic nicely matched what I wanted to do with my own.

What really inspired me, however, was the idea of doing as he did and building a cockpit and a pilot. I’m already someone who’s firmly in the ‘paint the insides of your rhinos’ camp, but the idea of making a pilot and command throne for this titanic model was an even more exciting project. It would also by one of my first steps into full kitbashing, as there was no original cockpit to add to or tweak – just an empty cavity inside the knight to fill with gubbins, controls and dials.

For quite some time, I researched what I could use as the basis of a pilot. I was loathe to get Forgeworld’s admittedly gorgeous pilot piece, mainly due to cost, but eventually I found a base model that would work nicely – the gunner of the Taurox. After getting my hands on one (fortunately I had plans for the rest of the bits, more on that later), I played around with a few other bits and pieces, and came up with this as a starting point.

32 Renegade Knight 2.jpg

The pieces went together surprisingly nicely – the floor of the cockpit came from a Chaos Biker, and the back wall was an upside-down head cavity from the Imperial Knight itself (fortunately I had a spare from when I bought some Knight bits for my Bloodthirster’s base). The pilot’s pose isn’t that dynamic, admittedly – one viewer on facebook pointed out that he looks more like a desk jockey at a typewriter than a Knight pilot, but it was a good start. I was particularly happy with the small detail of the up and down buttons on the seat – I like to think that the seat moves up to help the pilot get out when the Knight’s immobile.

The next step was to figure out how to actually get this cockpit suspended in the centre of the Knight. I had a few bits of drop pod left over from my Dreadclaw, which worked nicely for hiding the seams between the plasticard panels I used to build a back wall and reactor cover, and one of the drop pod control panels also served nicely for making a bank of displays and dials. Green stuff tentacles were added to plug the pilot in, and to again, hide any shoddy seams or conversion work. Here’s how the Knight looked at this stage:

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The pilot also gained a head at this point, taken from a humble Cultist, of all things. 

At this point I put work on the cockpit to one side – it would gain more tentacles/cables later to hide the ugly walls, along with a few more Chaotic adornments – and started work on the arms. I wanted the knight to be able to field most of its options (when you buy a £100 model, it’s worth getting as much out of it as you can), so I set to work on Chaos-ifying each of its guns and its chainsword.


I didn’t really go overboard with the mutations and spikes at this stage, deliberately keeping the silhouette and general aesthetic similar to the default model. I did decide after mulling it over for a bit to leave the ammo component off the battle/thermal cannon part and instead stick a brass etching over it, saving me the trouble of magnetising that part.

For its left arm, however, I had something a bit more special in mind. As long-term readers are probably aware, I have a bit of a thing for Ultramarine corpses (it’s not as weird as it sounds), and I really wanted to do something with the Knight that emphasised its sheer size and power, and – by proxy – how little of a damn it gave about mere concrete-armoured supersoldiers. I also quite liked the idea of giving it the thunderstrike gauntlet, as the idea of a Knight throwing tanks and monsters around like an angry toddler tickled me. So, after toying around with blu tac and some spare marine bits, I came up with this:

32 Renegade Knight 5
Yes, those are Berserker legs. I was out of bits, don’t judge me. 

To my delight, Heldrake claws were a perfect fit in the knuckle sockets on the gauntlet, adding an additional subtle Chaotic flair to the model. There was more to do, however – I’d always quite liked the idea and aesthetic of Huron Blackheart and his flamer/power fist weapon. This piece of art in particular was somewhat inspiring:


A few bits of wire, a couple of paperclips and a ton of model railway clump foliage and glue, and this happened:

32 Renegade Knight 6.jpg

I admit, this didn’t turn out perfectly. Quite a few people have questioned how the Ultarmarine can be on fire that much, suggesting that it’s not obvious that the flames are coming from the gauntlet and engulfing the marine. Arguably if you need to explain visual storytelling for it to make sense, it doesn’t work, which is a bit of a shame. If anyone has any critique on how I could have better realised this idea, I’d be very grateful.

Still, the result was far from bad, and with this particular stage out of the way, the Knight was well on its way to being fully built. I did make a start on painting at this stage, undercoating and painting the cockpit.

32 Renegade Knight 7.jpg
There’s an upsetting amount of detail in this collage that hasn’t seen the light of day since. Sob.

I also got the flames painted up, which was easily the messiest part of the paintjob. They do admittedly look a lot better in fiery orange and yellow than just plain white.

32 Renegade Knight 8.jpg

With that out of the way, I masked off the cockpit and started painting the skeleton of the Knight itself. I wanted this model to be a bridge between my grubby Renegade Guard and my relatively pristine Marines, so I went for the same ‘shitty metal’ look I’d used on the mortals’ bare metal wargear, shading heavily with Agrax Earthshade and adding splashes of Fuegan Orange to the mix, creating some really nice subtle variations in colour.

32 Renegade Knight 9.jpg
I wonder if I can patent the phrase ‘shitty metal’…

Next was the actual armour plates themselves. I knew I wanted the model to have one of the carapace weapons, but unfortunately in my friend and I’s splitting of the Renegade Box set (which comes with two full knights, but only one Warden upgrade sprue, I got the fist and he got the missile launcher. The autocannon array seemed a bit boring, so, like any good converter, I shrugged and made my own. Remember that Taurox I mentioned earlier?

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I was really quite happy with how well the launcher came out. A bit of plasticard on the bottom and some conversion-fu to get the mounting to fit, and it came together perfectly. The space on the top was also perfect for adding some more Khorne brass etchings.

The rest of the armour conversion was relatively straightforward – a few chains here, a few spikes there, etc. I did shamelessly copy Krautscientist’s idea of putting Fantasy shields on the shins and shoulderplates, and also added a few rows of skulls on the carapace, which I thought was a nice touch. I was particularly proud of the helm, which – with the addition of some spare Bloodthirster horns – gives the whole model a nice bull-like, decidedly Khorneate appearance.

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For the paint scheme, I again, wanted to go for something that represented the other parts of the army. I figured that the lava motif was best reserved for the Chaos Marines, and there was no flesh to Daemonify (that’s a word), but I did end up using a similar recipe for the blue-black armour panels to the Marines’ power armour. The red was picked because… well, I like red. I’d love to have a better, lore-spawned reason for the choice, but that’s really it. ^^

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If you were wondering, yes – I did switch which weapon it had equipped every photo, just to show off the magnetising. 

The bronze trim was a good choice, I feel. I did consider a bright silver or gold, but in hindsight really like the dull, worn look the bronze gives the model. The subtle hints of green in the recesses also complement the red nicely.

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With the armour plates done, the final steps were to polish a few details, build a suitably lava-coated base to tie the model in to the collection, hit it with a varnish and take some pics of the finished monstrosity.




Immensely happy with the end result, to be honest. This model makes an outstanding centrepiece for my collection, and adds a fourth facet to my united Chaos force. All I need now is a couple more knights to make a household, a Titan or two for an allied legion, a fully converted Dark Mechanicum detachment,…

One’s hobby is never really done, is it? ^^

Anyhow – here are some more pictures of the Knight, showing off its other weapons (did I mention that I magnetised its weapons?) and some of the other choice details. Enjoy, and stay tuned for more!








Shoutouts and thanks

A couple more things to talk about if you’re still reading, by the way. First of all, thank you for looking at and – if you do – following my blog. Writing is its own reward, but having people look at and, even better, comment on my hobby is an incredible feeling that makes up a sizeable portion of what keeps me painting, converting and writing. So, as always, thank you.

While we’re talking about recognition, a huge thank you to Krautscientist for featuring me on his own blog. It would be no overstatement to say that The Eternal Hunt is one of my favourite blogs to follow, constantly full of insightful commentary on new releases, passionate and creative conversions and paintjobs, and a writing style that’s a genuine pleasure to read. To be mentioned, let alone praised as one of the best Chaos armies the writer’s seen in 2017 is overwhelming. I may have bounced around my flat for a couple of days after reading his post. So again – thank you, and here’s hoping our work continues to inspire each other.


Finally, a brief request for help. This bit is entirely unrelated to wargaming, painting or our hobby, so if you want to skip over this, feel free.

Anyway – my partner has recently started a GoFundMe campaign. To cut a long story short, she moved from Denmark to the UK to live with me about a year ago, but due to a disability cannot work, and can’t really get much in the way of benefits either. While my passion is painting toy soldiers and rolling dice, hers is digital art, and as a budding artist on the internet, commissioned works are her only source of income. Or they were until recently, when her aged drawing tablet finally gave up the ghost.

Now, I would be dishonest if I said she needed a new one, as my income just about covers us – a replacement tablet would be a luxury, not a life or death necessity. Nevertheless, without a new one she can’t really practice her hobby and passion, and with the amount we save per month, getting a new one is a financial blow to say the very least. So, if you’re feeling generous and over-moneyed, she and I would be much obliged if you gave her GoFundMe page a look.


That’s about it – if you’re still reading at this point, I commend your perseverance – this is probably my longest post yet. Thank you as always, and stay tuned for more!


Finished Models – Renegade Command Squad

With this post, we will have caught up with my collection – or at least, how it was when I took those family photos of my collection back in August. Now of course, I have painted other stuff in the months since, but it’s still a nice mini-accomplishment to have written up the majority of my collection. 🙂

So, let’s finish this off with the final (for now) unit of my Renegade army, my Command Squad.

31 Renegade Command Squad 1.jpg
My inability to hold my phone steady is a source of constant irritation.

These guys were a hell of a lot of fun to paint, and often pull overtime as other units when I don’t want to field an actual Renegade Command Squad. As with my psykers, I did virtually no customising on the original build, other than to decorate the commander’s base a bit – the sculpts are distinct and pretty enough as it is, and one of the perks of a Forgeworld army is that I don’t really need to worry about everyone else having the same models as me.

31 Renegade Command Squad 2.jpg

I didn’t really change up my painting much with the squad mooks either, although I did really enjoy playing around with the different ways of doing grey on them. I feel like the boots, tunics, hoods and armour all look distinct and of different textures, despite being… well, grey.

31 Renegade Command Squad 3.jpg

I did have quite a bit of fun with the plasma gun, too. Painting OSL effects on to midtone greys was a lot easier than doing it on black and brass power armour, and I really feel like the glow came off nicely here. The relatively subtle glow on the plasma gunner’s boots also really helps make his base a part of him, and I’m really proud of how nicely the orange corroded metal came out.

31 Renegade Command Squad 4

I’m a tiny bit sad I didn’t brave doing freehand on the banner, but honestly the flat red flag works nicely, I think. I’m quite happy with the (by my standards) smooth blending on the back of it, and the relatively subtle blood flecks on it add quite a bit. Also, I’m unreasonably happy with the banner bearer’s right gauntlet. Look at that layering!

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The commander though, in my opinion, steals the show. I’m really happy with how the skin turned out, and the off-white armour was a treat to work on. I’m a little sad that I apparently forgot to attach a cable from his chain..arm to the power pack on his belt, so his right bicep looks a bit odd and he has what can only really be described as ‘a thing’ covering his backside now, but it’s a minor grumble.

The addition of the guard helmet was a touch I quite liked, too – I like to think this commander turned up on the flanks of some loyalist guard, cut down a supposed ally and tore his helmet off, signalling the moment to unveil his unit’s betrayal. The narrative works better if we ignore the human skull impaled on his pauldron, but oh well.

The eyes aren’t the best I’ve done, unfortunately, but I kind of get a Chaos free pass here – the fact that one is bulging out of its socket kind of adds to his dead-eye stare. I am rather happy with the gore – I think I got the amount just right, and it really looks like it’s splattered up his breastplate from a close-range kill.


So, that’s it! My renegades have been documented in there entirety, at least when all these photos were taken. That said, we do have loads more painting projects to talk about – here are some WIP tasters of the stuff I’ll be writing about over the next few weeks or months:


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Stay tuned, and Happy New Year!