Sunday, 29 September 2013

Blood Angels Centurions

Last night I managed to finish off a squad of Blood Angels Centurions.

This is a small commission that I've taken on, to build and paint a couple of 3-model squads of Devastator Centurions. As the models are new and I've never built them before, I was looking forward to getting started.

Although Blood Angels don't usually have access to Centurions, my client wanted to sometimes run his Angels as Codex Marines. Both units are to be equipped with grav-cannons and grav-amps - in my opinion, the best heavy weapon these guys have access to!

First impressions are that the plastic sprues are literally packed with components. GW really makes the most of these sprues nowadays. Looking back at the sort of product you'd get a few years back - with huge areas of empty sprue - this is a world apart.

I used Mephiston Red as a base, used Carroborg Crimson as a wash, and built up highlights with Evil Sunz Scarlet then Wild Rider Red. The process was quite lengthy, and as you can see these models are dripping with detail!

The sergeant is my favourite piece. My client wanted a blue helmet for the sergeant, and red helmets for the other Marines (I'm not sure whether most/all Blood Angels Devastators have blue helmets, but I think that it was a good choice to go with a single blue helmet in this case).

This pose shows the lens effect on the left arm (carrying the grav-amp).

All three models have Bloood Angels decals on the right shoulder. The GW box shows some crafty decal work with Ultramarine transfers all over the shoulder pads, but the size of the actual transfers makes this quite difficult without cutting them up.

Also like this dude - he looks like he's striding through a battlefield, making the most of his 2+ armour save as small arms plink-plink off of his war suit...

(As an aside, I've just noticed some painting errors on this guy - will correct those asap!)

This shot shows the rear of the models. They have exhaust stacks like Dreadnoughts, which is a nice touch. I added a little MIG weathering pigment to the stacks and the heat vents on the rear as well.

Another shot of the sergeant, demonstrating his omni-scope...

So, that's it for now - onwards with another Centurion squad, and starting a new project that I've codenamed "Angry Angron"...

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Dipping tutorial: Nurgle Daemon Prince

This week has been very busy - got a few commissions I'm finishing off, and received a few new commissions as well. Plus I'm trying to work on a new photography set up - my recent shots haven't been doing my models justice!

I recently received a commission for a Nurgle Daemon Prince, which is a model I've always wanted to paint. It's a very nice sculpt, and although of some age it is certainly one of GW's better Chaos models. However, there was a twist: my client wanted the model to match is already-dipped Nurgle units. I was also working to a very tight deadline...!

I've limited experience in dipping, but I do have a tin of Army Painter mid-tone dip, and so I got stuck into this project.

Here is my step-by-step on dipping a Nurgle model and achieving a good, fast and reliable finish...

(Apologies for the poor photos early on - the detail isn't so relevant, they were really only taken to show the colours used!)

Step 1: Undercoat with Army Painter "Army Green"

Step 2: Pick out skin with Ratskin Flesh

Step 3: Pick out metal with Leadbelcher

Step 4: Pick out bone details with Ushabti Bone

Step 5: Pick out gold/brass with Balthasar Gold

Step 6: Apply Army Painter midtone dip

This is the trickiest part of the whole process! I've seen models that look a complete mess once the dip has been applied. In my experience, the best way of doing the dip is to not dip the model!

Stir the dip well! It settles easily in the pot.

I applied the dip with a large, cheap brush, making sure that it didn't pool (use a piece of tissue to remove ungainly pooling). You can shift the dip around quite easily with your brush, and it takes a long time to dry.

Be aware that the dip will run downwards, so consider this when your basing model etc - a fantastic basing job with full static grass, etc could be damaged by the dip.

Once your happy with your application of the dip, leave it to dry for a full 24 hours.

Step 7: Spray with Army Painter matt finish

Be careful that the model is fully dried because spraying. This last step is essential to reduce the shine of your model, and it also improves the overall shading achieved by using the dip. However, be aware that  certain varnishes and finishers will interfere with the dip - I'd be wary of using Testors on the finished model.

Here is the finished model...

I went back over the model and picked out some details - in particular the eyes, mouth detail, and some of the metal work.

Here you can see the fly on the arm armour - I picked it out with Gehenna's Gold and the  rewashed it with Agrax Earth, just to make it stand out a little more.

The sword looks bent in this shot - it's not in real life! Although it is Finecast, so I expect it will warp over time! The chains are also quite delicate, so these will probably take additional wear during storage and play.

So, this is a nice and quick technique to finish largescale models or even a whole army. It'll never replace my preferred techniques, and it isn't a method I'm keen on repeating, but for this project it worked out nicely. I can imagine that it works well for cultists, Nurgle armies or perhaps some Warhammer Fantasy Battle pieces.

If I'd had more time on this project, I would probably have added some additional highlights to the model before I actually applied the dip. I think that adding some basic highlights or additional colourations would work well with the dipping process.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

New Codex: Space Marines - some thoughts on Iron Hands

It's now been two weeks since the new Space Marine Codex was released, and I'm sure that you've all had lots of time to consider the tactical implications of the new list.

I'm not a big-time 40k player - real life and painting tends to get in the way of playing games for me - but I do try to stay up-to-date with the latest rules.

For my own part, I was most interested in the new Chapter Tactics rules. I have several Marine armies - and until last year I owned an Iron Hands army. Today I'm going to look at the Iron Hands rules and consider some ways of using them...

1. The basics
Firstly, let's look at the Iron Hands rules:
  • All vehicles benefit from It Will Not Die (surely the special rule with the coolest name in the entire game...!);
  • All characters benefit from It Will Not Die (hereinafter "IWND");
  • All units with the Chapter Tactics rule (so most infantry) benefit from Feel No Pain (6+);
  • Techmarines and Masters of the Forge add +1 to Blessings of the Omnissiah rolls.
Iron Hands armies (or their successors) receive these rules for free!  

I consider the addition of IWND to be a great boon for most mech armies. That rule in particular suggests an army based around vehicles and dreadnoughts...

All photos are from an Iron Hands army which I painted 
and sold last year - a 5th edition drop pod army.

2. Making the most of IWND on vehicles
IWND allows regeneration of Hull Points, at the end of each turn, on a roll of 5+. 

So, your vehicle has to be operational to benefit from the rule. The biggest issue with IWND is that a single melta shot can destroy a vehicle, thus ignoring IWND. This is a fair point to make, but it ignores the prospect that some vehicles can be very difficult to take down without melta.

So, particular vehicles on which to focus include:
  • Land Raiders - AV 14, particularly of the ranged variety, so that they are kept well out of melta range;
  • Vindicators - AV 13; a more tricky vehicle because of it's limited-range gun, but for some armies again a difficult target to bring down;
  • Predators - AV 13; all varieties have a decent range
  • Ironclad Dreadnought - AV13, although note that without HK missiles he's going to be walking (or podding) right into melta range
  • Dreadnoughts and Venerable Dreadnoughts - AV12, but in volume they can be threatening (although note the change in rules on the Venerable Dreadnought: this in my view makes IWND less useful to the Ven Dread, as a penetrating hit causes a loss of a HP as well as the roll on the damage table).
Then, we have vehicles such as the Storm Talon and Storm Raven which ignore the 2d6 melta rule, so for air support they are definitely in. 

IWND can also be useful if your army focuses on "target saturation". By this, I mean flooding the board with lower AV tanks - such as AV11 Razorbacks and Rhinos. This forces your opponent to focus on a particular tank, as opposed to stunning or shaking several to hold your army back. 

Although pricy, extra armour can also be helpful on Iron Hands tanks - allowing you to potentially retreat out of melta range, and possibly live to fight another day...

Higher AV, higher HP vehicles, with longer threat ranges, are the way to go for Iron Hands armies.

3. Making the most of IWND (and FNP) on characters
IWND is a real benefit to multi-wound characters, such as Chapter Masters and Captains. To a lesser extent, the same is true of the Master of the Forge (the erstwhile Iron Father substitute). 

Certain wargear can also make your characters an incredible annoyance with IWND and FNP:
  • Bike - making characters T5, obviating the Instant Death rule in most circumstances;
  • Storm shield - 3++ save;
  • Artificer Armour - 2+ save, better than Terminator armour in my opinion;
  • Terminator Armour - 2+ and 5++ saves, but because of other rules this isn't as good as Artificer Armour - still a fluffy choice for an Iron Hands army though; 
  • Shield Eternal - especially on a bike...
  • Armour Indominatus

An utterly lethal CC monster is a Chapter Master on a bike, with a thunder hammer, artificer armour, Shield Eternal and a thunder hammer. (Although he's also a little pricy for my blood!)

Also note that all characters benefit from IWND, not just independent characters. In reality, that distinction is quite a fine one - because characters such as sergeants very rarely have more than W1. However, the Centurion sergeant has W2 so he's a potential beneficiary of this rule (and also 2+ and T5).

Take multiple HQs/characters if possible, and maximise the use of IWND and FNP through protective wargear.

4. Use Techmarines and Masters of the Forge
Both of the above add +1 to their Blessings rolls! Combined with IWND, this is another decent boon for vehicle survivability. So, Techmarines and Masters are definitely in as potential HQ choices. 

Another suggestion is to mount either of these choices on bikes - thereby increasing their survivability, and also their manoeuvrability around your potential vehicle park. A Master of the Forge with a full servo-harness will usually be repairing vehicles on a 2+! 

On a static Techmarine, servitors are also a potential upgrade (but they are pricy, so don't go silly on this upgrade!).

The bike on a Techmarine also makes the Conversion Beamer upgrade a decent choice (but be aware that you'll lose your servo-harness, so choose carefully as to your role for such a character).

Take Masters of the Forge and Techmarines, on bikes in possible, to maximise use of the Blessings and IWND rules.

5. Use troops that will benefit from FNP
Obviously all infantry will benefit from FNP. The rules isn't a game-breaker - it's only 6+ - but it's a nice addition. 

Maximise use of this rule by including multiple troop choices in your lists. In particular, Terminators will benefit from this rule. It's just another barrier to removing your models through small arms fire!

FNP can also impact how you use your troops. For example, imbedding Scouts with camo cloaks in ruins can make them very survivable in many lists: add FNP, and those little guys can be especially annoying to remove...

Choice infantry that will benefit from FNP!

My prospective 1500 point list under the new codex will be:

Techmarine on bike with conversion beamer

Ironclad Dreadnought with heavy flamer and two HK missiles in drop pod
Ironclad Dreadnought with heavy flamer and two HK missiles in drop pod

Tactical Squad (5 men) with combi-plasma and plasma gun, in Razorback with twin-linked lascannon
Tactical Squad (5 men) with combi-plasma and plasma gun, in Razorback with twin-linked lascannon
Tactical Squad (5 men) with combi-plasma and plasma gun, in Razorback with twin-linked assault cannon
Tactical Squad (5 men) with combi-plasma and plasma gun, in Razorback with twin-linked assault cannon

Techmarine with Thunderfire cannon

So, what are your views on the new codex and the Iron Hands in particular? Feel free to leave a comment!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Imperial Guard: Some Cadian Ogryns

Slight blast from the past today, as most of these models were finished a while ago but I only recently completed the last one in the squad. 

Of all the Imperial Guard models, Ogryns are probably my favourite miniatures produced by GW. The humble Ogryn has gone through quite a few rules transitions over the years, but was one of the original "stable" of Guard units back in the Rogue Trader days. Even then, and although the range of models to represent them was limited, I was always interested in fielding them. The old Bob Olley sculpts remain something of a treasure for collectors.

Here's the assembled unit, painted in Cadian standard fatigues so that I can field them with a variety of Guard armies.

My favourite sculpt of all is the Bone 'ead - with nice bionics and a commanding stance.

This dude is a close second - I like the compact nature of the pose, and the face is awesome.

This guy is third favourite - love the grenade-throwing pose...

Below is my least favourite - with his gun outstretched, he is difficult to store properly, and his face is a little goofy (check out that bulging eye!).

Sadly, GW don't seem to have ever settled on a decent ruleset for Ogryns. In 4th edition they were just meatshields, and expensive ones at that. Under the 5th edition codex, whilst their rules are better, their lower initiative and ridiculous leadership make them a liability to field. This is a shame, really, because since their inception the Ogryns have been viewed as loyal Imperial troops - hardly Ld 6! I'd personally like to see their Ld boosted under a new codex, and perhaps a points drop.

Of course, Ogryns are just an example of the wider pantheon of abhuman troops originally fielded by the Imperial Guard. Although the current incarnation of the Guard includes Ratlings as well, Rogue Trader also featured inducted Imperial Beastmen. I've ranted about those in previous posts, but I have a hope that they will re-emerge in the next Guard codex...

Sammael - Master of the Ravenwing

Progress on the Ravenwing continues...

Despite my loathing of all things Finecast, I had no choice but to buy this lovely sculpt of Sammael - Master of the Ravenwing. I went with a fairly standard paint scheme, and tried to let the model speak for itself. 

The white and black contrast nicely, and of course tie in with the rest of my Ravenwing.

The sword was painted by hand, using extreme highlighting. I added the lightning effect with a fine detail brush, then sealed the sword with gloss varnish. In some shots, you might be able to make out that the sword is slightly bent. Finecast remains very flexible, sadly, and even though I applied hot water to straighten it out the sword kept going back to a curved shape...

I had numerous imperfections in the finish of the model, as well as some very difficult-to-remove flash and resin sprue bits. I'd highly recommend using both liquid and putty-type greenstuff on this sculpt - the clean-up and finishing process was extensive before I even got to painting it.

The engines were given some minor weathering with MIG powders - this photo didn't really come out too well.

Other angled shot - I may one day add some text to the book with a fine felt tip pen.

The cape was painted using the new GW paints, and the gradation achieved with various bone-cloured paints and finally pure white. I decided to keep the cape an off-white colour, to provide some variation to the limited palette.

Only an attack bike to do now, and the Ravenwing army will be complete.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Farsight Enclave: Kroot Carnivore Squad

Here's a Kroot squad that I have just finished. They are intended to be part of my Farsight army - I couldn't resist the idea of a squad with sniper rounds, to hold a homefield objective. 

Got to say, I really liked making and painting these models! I'd never bought a Kroot unit before, and was pleasantly surprised - although these are older sculpts, they have nice crisp detail and are of a unique design so far as GW models go. I went with a nice Camo Green skin colour - there is some minor variation amongst the models for interest (some are darker than others). To tie in the Kroot with the red battlesuit models, I added a splash of red warpaint as well.

Here are some particular favourites...

I was pleased with how these models turned out, representing a high tabletop quality in my view. I'm going to add a blister of Kroot hounds to the unit, and also possibly a Kroot Shaper.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Knight Models: Bane

Today I managed to finish painting another Knight Models miniature for the Batman Miniatures Game - Dark Knight Rises version of Bane!

You've probably all heard me raving about Knight Models (their quality and sculpts are amazing), and this figure is no exception. With GW prices rising steadily (£18 for a plastic Space Marine captain or librarian!?!), these collectible figures actually appear more reasonably priced. Most "infantry" sized models come in at around £12-13 if you find the right retailer (Weyland Games, for instance). 

I went with quite subdued scheme, but decided on slightly brighter colours than the official KM paintjob. 

Here Bane faces off against Batman...

Here is a scale shot of Bane, DKR Batman and AC Batman - the rubble on the base makes AC Batman appear slightly shorter. Bane (appropriately) towers over the AC Batman.

I've never actually played a game using KM's Batman ruleset, but I have downloaded the rules (available free from the KM website). They look to be interesting and quite different most games I play, so I hope to try them out at some point in the future.

My next purchase from the KM website? Possibly Catwoman, maybe some cops to support Batman, or perhaps the R'as al Ghul gang set - I've never painted a ninja before...

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Antenociti's Workshop: Komodo Personal Assault Suit

A few months back, I posted a discussion on the variety of "power armour" models available to represent more faithfully represent the Mobile Infantry in Heinlein's Starship Troopers. My favourite was Antenociti's Komodo power suit, and I recently picked one up to paint for my own collection.

I originally planned on a "military green" colour scheme, opting to go for something drab and paint the whole model up as a vehicle rather than infantry. However, mid way through the paint job I changed my mind and went with a camouflage scheme. I didn't base this on anything in particular, but liked to interplay between the drab green and desert yellow.

The central blue "windshield" is actually supposed to be a hard pod casing, with the visuals being projected onto the pilot's mind or via internal viewscreens. I decided that the model needed a central focal point, and so went with a shaded blue canopy. I'm not really sure whether this worked or not. In any case, the real model does like nicer than these photos - the reflection on the gloss varnished canopy was difficult to properly photograph, and it has washed out the highlights.

The Komodo comes with several weapon options - including a rocket launcher, a railgun and a flamer.

The base is from Back-2-Basix, via Ebay, and added some more visual interest to the model.

As can be seen, Antenociti have added some excellent, semi-realistic detail to the model - including "jump jets" and exhausts on the rear.

The last sight that many xenomorphs will see before meeting a fiery end: the Komodo assault suit storming down the corridor, energy cannon blazing...

The Komodo is available form Antencoti's Workshop here.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Ravenwing Landspeeders

Managed to grab a few hours painting today, and completed the third and final Landspeeder for my own Ravenwing army. Nothing special in terms of conversion or assembly, but I'm a sucker for the Ravenwing colour scheme.

Minor weathering on the engines using weather ing powder, but it is difficult to see in these photos.

Here is the squadron assembled and ready for war - all they need is decals and possibly some more Dark Angels iconography.

That leaves a grand total of one attack bike left to do, then the army is finished. Pretty bad timing, eh? As with last edition, it appears that the Dark Angels codex has been trumped by the new Space Marines codex! This always seems to happen... The latest version of the White Scars seems to get all of the benefits of being an all-biker army, but none of the drawbacks (such as the obligatory Sammael). Perhaps I can run this army as a counts-as White Scars force!