Category Archives: Painting

Two Hobby Victories and a Thought

So the last month or so of my life has been a total blur.  As well as baby-wrangling I’ve been battling against house-unpacking and marking people’s assignments (which takes WAY longer than I anticipated) to try to get just a little bit of game stuff done.  Now the house is pretty much habitable and I’ve managed to steal some tiny hobby victories:

Victory One: My regular opponent Cap’n Stoogey and I are going in a 1200 point doubles 40k tourney in a couple of weeks, 600 points each.  For the first time his Ultramarines and my Guard will be fighting side by side.  600 points is not much and we aren’t aiming for the top tables so we just decided to choose a few must-have units that we really wanted to field.  I’ve mustered a rag-tag band of misfits – two squads of penal legionnaires, my ogryns, and my demolisher Anathema led by a Primaris Psyker.  In fact this little army has really captured my imagination, and got me thinking about a full-sized force of penals, abhumans and psykers, supported by assault battle tanks.  I think an army like that would be fun to play and really capture the weird undertone of the Imperial Guard fluff that lurks underneath the “normal army dudes” surface.

Victory Two: After unsuccessfully scouring every art, hardware and car store in town (and the internet) for matt finish spray paint for my Night Goblins I noticed a street art and graffiti shop hiding up some pokey little stairs in the city centre.  They had 200 colours imported from Germany for ten bucks each, and the guy even threw in a smaller nozzle for free for detail work.  It was just an amazing lucky break.  Anyone who’s been to Canberra knows that shops like that don’t exactly grow on trees here so I hope they stay open.  The owners were super-cool and there was all this loud hip-hop and mad pieces on the walls yo, and I felt like a total dork buying graffiti paint for my Night Goblins.  I just kind of pretended I was an aerosol artist (despite having no real idea how an aerosol artist looks or acts).  It was awesome.

Oh yeah, I was listening to the D6 Generation’s 100th episode the other day and all three of the hosts (who are crazy hard-core gamers compared with me) were saying that they were past the point where they could ever see themselves buying an army for an army scale miniatures system ever again.  Not just GW, but any army sized system (I think they specifically mentioned PP, Battlefront and something else as well as GW).

I know how they feel (uh… despite what I just wrote above!)  It made me think about this post where I suggested that all these miniature games companies have really jumped the shark if you’re an adult gamer with grown-up responsibilities.  And by responsibilities I’m not just talking kids either, I’m talking real jobs and other games to play.  All of these things make the demands of games like 40k and HoMachine seem ri-godamn-diculous.

I’m genuinely curious about how the demographic will change in the future.  Are we stepping boldly into a world where Little Lord Fauntleroys with weatlhy absent parents play vast games of Warhammer against each other, while the rest of us whip out our phones or throw down a quick skirmish game?  Who knows?

Till next time.  Hopefully I’ll have pictures from the tournament 😀

Night Goblins!

I found this nice Night Goblins picture on Deviant Art, click for original link.

I’ve been thinking more and more about what I wrote in this article, about finding imaginative ways to quickly paint the large armies that the current editions of 40k and Warhammer demand.  I’m getting excited about the project, so I’ve decided to give it a go and start an army for a system I don’t currently play or have any models for – Warhammer Fantasy Battle.

I was going to go with Skaven.  The new models just look fantastic.  But I’ve discovered that a potential future opponent has already claimed them.  I’m glad really because it made me think about something different, and brought me back to an army I’ve always wanted to try: Night Goblins.  Ever since the 90s when they first appeared I just really liked the hooded creepy-cute look, and the background about them being madcap mushroom-eating freaks with units like fanatics and squig hoppers was just the icing on the cake.  They’re evil little goblins, they’re cute, they’re crazy and they’re fun.  Heh.  Night Goblins rule.

So, since I don’t do things by halves I’m now set on coming up with a super-efficient but great-looking way to paint an army, and I’ve gone with a horde.  Good plan right?

My basic plan is this:

  1. Base them with gravel
  2. Spray them all midnight blue
  3. Blast them from above with a lighter blue for a bold zenith highlight
  4. Wash them with black and brown and other dirty colours
  5. Give the impression of glinting weapons and shield rims with some quick strokes of metallic
  6. Pick out the eyes in bright yellow

If this works I’m thinking it’ll give them a sort of two-tone anime style light-and-shadow effect and make them look like they are scuttling in the dark with glowing eyes.  Something like this:

Drawing by me.

For consistency I need to do everything the same way, but I know it’ll be hard not to put extra touches on the characters, so I’ll try to give them reeeally subtle highlights at the highest points that blend into the lighter blue.  Oh and I’m doing the army on the cheap too because I don’t hate myself that much. I’m really looking forward to making some awesome unit fillers for extra cheapiness.

So I grabbed twenty gobbos from eBay and they’re waiting.  The first hitch has been sourcing midnight blue matte finish spray paint.  It’s harder than you think.  Even artist quality spray paint seems to be made in gloss only.  Buying gloss and then spraying them all with a matte sealer seems a bit wasteful, but I might have to.

Painting Creep – hey, it’s a thing!

Three companies of Ultramarines? Plus support staff!?

Last Sunday Frontline Gamer wrote one of his excellent Sunday Sermons on the topic of taking a break.  He was specifically talking about blogging, but he told a few personal stories of painting burn-out.  I’m sure most of us have been there, especially if we play either of Games Workshop’s big systems. The stories he told really struck a chord with me.  The whole thing did actually.  It was one of those rare times as a blogger where you read something that makes you write something.

It’s no secret that I pride myself on being a casual gamer.  I think that all too often we take our games too seriously, treating them as obligations, personal disciplines or even *gasp* work.  I think in my first ever post I wrote what has become for me a sort of personal gaming slogan: games are important, but not serious.

So there’s no shame in taking a break.  I’ve gone for years without playing 40k in the past.  I haven’t played a pen and paper RPG for about four years now.  It doesn’t make me any less of a gamer that I can pick it up and put it down on a whim.  I think that’s the way it should be.

Painting burn-out is a different beast though, and I place the blame for it squarely on two factors:  games companies continually increasing the scale of their games (which I’ve talked about before), and the obsessive culture of achievement and perfection amongst us modern gamers.

As I commented on the above-mentioned sermon:

Your horror stories are just an accident of our hobby. The joy of painting really comes from the creativity and craft, not from the mechanical act of painting. Of course painting a bazillion grots and ultras is a grind. Who would actually WANT to do that? It’s torture!

I stand by this.  Think about it for a second.  Why would anyone want to paint a model?  Obviously, to gain satisfaction from creating something artistic.  Painting is meant to be a pleasant aspect of wargaming, something that people can do to add a bit of spark to their armies of otherwise tin (or plastic or resin) soldiers.  It’s not meant to be something you have to do to play the game.  I’ve had my fair share of painting entire infantry platoons and mobs of Ork boyz the night before a tournament.  Only a masochist could call it fun.  If a game of 40k only needed a dozen models, I’m sure we’d all love painting again.

I used to think that if someone hated painting models they should get a new hobby.  Now I realize that attitide is part of the problem.  If someone hates painting models, fair enough! They probably hate the grind.  I honestly enjoy painting the most out of any part of the hobby, but I also hate painting hundreds of near-identical dudes to a standard artificially raised by the internet and Golden Demon to be beyond most gamer’s time and energy.  There’s always a lot of talk about power creep, but no-one seems to notice painting creep.

This is the sort of paint job often described as "table top standard" these days. Back in 1995 this could have been called an excellent paint job, perhaps featured in a White Dwarf. I think painting an entire army to this standard is too much to ask of most of us, and shouldn't be considered average.

Right, so that’s why we get painting burn-out I think.  What we have is a perfect storm of peer-driven painting creep and industry-driven game up-sizing.  This has the potential to crush the spirit of nearly any painter. But GW, PP and the rest are not going to stop increasing the number of models needed to play now, are they?  This means we have to change the other cause of painting creep: the obsessive, perfectionist gamer culture.  We have to change what we expect from one another.

Maybe we need to stop buying into what the companies want from us, and be a bit more savvy.  We should stop expecting everyone to have a fully painted army to “table-top standard” – which by the way is much higher now than when I was a kid, and higher than it is for historical games.

We need to be smart about this, and we need to accept it when people say they don’t want to paint their models.  That’s their prerogative.  It’s a perfectly reasonable stance to take in these strange times of obsessive gamer culture and companies who are, quite frankly, expecting a lot of us. But an even better approach is to get creative.  Think outside the box.  Paint them all without really painting them.

For a while now I’ve been toying with the idea of a 40k army of, say, Orks, painted to look as though they are shadowy shapes with yellow eyes and glinting weapons.  If GW (and my fellow gamers) are going to expect me to field more than fifty models in a game there’s no way I’m sucker enough to paint them all to a modern table top standard.  Not again.  There has to be other ways to get a good-looking army without sinking an hour or more into each trooper.  We just have to use our heads.

Now I have to get over my modeling burn-out.  Painting might be optional, but models sort of aren’t.  Any suggestions on that one?

Yagyu Takeshi, Domaru Butai


Takeshi’s eyes opened when he felt the car hiss to a halt.  His read-out flickered into his peripheral vision as his armour came alive.  He had spent the last hour in meditation, locked within the dormant suit in the back seat of the vehicle.  Waiting.

He knew the brief.  Four hostiles, known Aleph spies, in a supposedly safe house.  They must be dealt with, quickly and bloodily.  It was what he had been born to do, what the generations of samurai before him had done.  He leapt from the black armoured car and made his way through the night, moving around the pale circles cast by the street-lamps.

Breathe in.  He exploded through the door, read-out tracking the four milky-skinned humanoids as they sprang into action.  As expected they were Aleph operatives, two at a table, two near the door.

Breathe out.  His chain gun roared, obliterating the two near the door in a welter of blood and scrap metal.  He threw the spent weapon at the faces of the two at the table but they were quick.  Small-arms fire clattered off his armour like rain.

Breathe in.  His katana flashed from its sheath and he crouched slightly, waiting, the blade held two-handed in waki kamae.

Breathe out.  One of the freaks lunged with a tactical sabre that his read-out told him was sheathed in an EMP.  Takeshi surged forward, avoiding the thrust, and cut him in half.  He spun and brought his weapon down on the head of the other enemy soldier in a textbook men cut.

Breathe in.  He shuffled forward and watched the stunned Aleph spy fall to his knees.  He raised his katana over his head into jodan kamae.

Breathe out.  It was over.  With a flick he scattered the blood from his weapon and sheathed it, then walked forward cautiously and retrieved the chain gun.  His heart began to slow to a regular pace.  Rain started to fall outside, pattering on the quiet street and the waiting black car.


This is my domaru butai, who I have decided is an exponent of Yagyu swordsmanship.  Because he’s a domaru he needs to look grave and dignified.

I’ve been trying to go for a clean and realistic style with my Infinity models to get away from the loose and dirty look of my 40k guys.  I can’t resist a bit of grime and weathering though.  As usual now with my JSA guys I glossed his armour and scabbards to give them a shiny look.

I’m not convinced about the metallic chaingun.  It doesn’t seem realistic, but I wanted it to look heavy and brutal, seeing as it’s basically a sci-fi blunderbuss!

I know the sashimono banner is a bit impractical for cyberpunk shenanigans so I’ve made it removable.  I figure he can pop it up when he needs to terrify people in open ground. I got the Yagyu crest from the net.  No offence is intended to any koryu practitioner of course, it’s for (fake) historical purposes 😉

I’m quite enjoying the real-world connections you can make with Infinity, unlike 40k.  It’s like historical gaming without the guilt.

Adesha – Iybraesil Eldar Wraithlord


The Wraithlord towered above the Eldar warriors as they scanned the abandoned settlement.  Even ancient Balora the Farseer had been born on Iybraesil and did not remember the primaeval, vibrant worlds of her people that had been destroyed in the Fall.  These Crone worlds were all that remained of that unknown past.  

The embodied hero who loomed against the chaotic sky was another matter entirely.  Her wraithbone body creaked softly in the eerie silence.  Adesha remembered, had wept in horror and psychic shock as the fledgling craftworlders saw the birth of She Who Thirsts from space.  She had fought as one of the Goddess’s warriors for countless ages, had led her people in war, and now had been summoned again.  The ancient wraithbone body had been grown for her a long time ago.  A receptacle for her shade, drawn from Iybraesil’s Infinity circuit.  She could feel the hot blood of the infinity rune painted on the face of her helm.  It was one of the only things she could feel.

The ghost in the machine concentrated, drawing the strands of herself from within the lattice of the wraithbone core to form a point of awareness.  Adesha would speak.

*Do you sense enemies yet, Farseer?  My thoughts grow thin.  If I am not needed I would return to the Goddess.*  Communication was a burden.  Combat was not.

Balora cocked her head as the papery voice of the revenant hero entered her mind.  The Wraithlord sounded flat, as one would imagine the dead would sound.

*Soon, Adesha.*  She returned silently.  *Soon the enemy will come.*


This is Adesha, the first of two Wraithlords I have planned for my Iybraesil Eldar warhost.  She’s armed for anti-tank as there’s no other anti-tank capability in my 500 point army, and I thought it would probably still be a good configuration later.

I’ve wanted a Wraithlord model for years and I finally got one.  It’s more difficult to make it dynamically posed than I expected.  I thought the arms and legs would be in two parts each but they’re only one, so the poses straight out of the box are a bit on the Frankenstein side.  I looked at a bunch of anime mecha pictures to get a good sense of how an elegant humanoid machine should look, and then I added the scythe from the Empire Wizard kit to the shoulder and it really balanced the pose.  I’ve been trying to use that piece for ages!

The painting was fun.  Again, I went for an organic, aged look, and if you’ve ever seen old chipped animal skulls (I grew up in the country) then you’ll agree it turned out pretty well.

Overall they’re a great-looking model.  It looks sort of spidery and almost Tyranid-like I think, but also like a mecha, which is cool.

Next up I’m painting my Domaru Butai for Infinity.  Should be fun.  You gotta love a cyberpunk samurai.

Really Old Minis

A little while ago Dave G at Wargaming Tradecraft had a post where people showcased their old models so others could see how their style had grown.  I thought it was a really cool idea but I didn’t have any old models around at the time.

Four of the old guys. They're a bit dusty and chipped. The models seem to go for character more than aesthetics, unlike modern models.

Well my parents moved house a while back, and they gave me a big plastic tub of me and my brother’s old stuff.  There were quite a few old minis in there from my Rogue Trader days.  I’ve always been lucky enough to have a feel for art, and I enjoyed painting the most out of all aspects of the hobby.  I tended to collect whatever I thought looked cool without bothering about army lists at all.

So here are some of my childhood paintjobs on classic Citadel miniatures.  I was anywhere from 11 to 14 years of age when I painted these guys.

First up, a Whitescar terminator.  I had a few Whitescars . . . and Salamanders . . . and Blood Angels . . . and Space Wolves . . . and Dark Angels. If I put them all together I’d have had a mighty force of about thirty marines.

I painted this guy with enamels, and the only white I had was gloss. Being a kid, I didn't care and just went ahead and painted him glossy.

This is a great model and might even stand up today, maybe as an Inquisitor. I love the skull sheath on his sword and the grenade pack and digital weapons on his power glove (as it was called back then).

I have no idea what chapter he's meant to be - the freehand on his shoulder kind of looks like a lightning bolt.

Pirate Grot.  Enough said.

Such a great sculpt. I had a small force of pirate Gretchin who tagged along with my now-missing Bad Moons.

Last but not least, a Bad Doc, as they used to be called. I seem to have like five of these maniacs, I was really into Ork medicine apparently! This guy is great, although unfortunately he’s missing a hand.  And he’s too weedy to be a modern Painboy.

Looking at these old models, I’m starting to think enamel metallics look better than acrylic ones.  The metal on the scissors and the gold on the Whitescar above seem not to suffer from the lumpiness that is the bane of acrylic metallics.  I only used enamels back when I was a kid because it was what my dad had for his military models and when I first got the GW paints they seemed runny and plasticky and I didn’t like them at all.

Does anyone at all use enamels these days?  I certainly never hear of it.

Iybraesil Farseer

Well, I finished my Farseer, and I have to say I’m really stoked at how well she came out.  I want my Iybraesil Eldar to look a bit different to most Eldar armies – more weathered and ancient-looking.  I also wanted to get across the organic nature of Eldar technology.  I think I managed it.

I also wanted to make the Farseer herself look eldritch and freaky, so I used bold and less realistic colours in places.  I was going to paint bloody runes on her body but the blood-smeared hair and the scar on her leg came out so nicely that I decided not to push my luck!  Sometimes I reckon you just have to abandon your plan if it no longer seems right.

I tried to mask the canopy with vegemite so I could do the freehand, but because I was using a lot of washes the vegemite just melted and uh . . . ended up being incorporated into the weathering.  I really wanted the wraithbone to look like ancient, pitted bone.  Basically it took a million washes in tan, brown and blue, and then at the end I dabbed little drops of very watery brown paint and blew on them so they ran backwards from the nose.











The last thing I did was grab a rough grade sand paper and just scrape it over the finished canopy.  It was a bit nerve-wracking scraping sandpaper over something you just spent three hours painting but it was worth it I think.

You might also notice that the photos are a lot better than usual.  That’s because I didn’t take them!  They’re by Rhebeka Stangret.

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