As I’ve mentioned, I’m working on a Blood Angels miniature that’s part of a piece I might be entering for a painting competition… To be precise, I was thinking of a Sanguinary Guard, with all the bling armour in NMM. Halfway through, I realised… Sanguinary Guards can’t have Thunderhammers!!! No matter, this fellow will be a Assault Sergeant. The big question is, how should I paint the hammer? In metallic? Non-metallic metal (there’s already so much of it on the armour)? Resplendent with motifs? In solid colours? Lots of battle damage? Lightning / energy pulsing all over it? I’m still trying to decide…


The Shieldmaiden

I finally found the time to snap some pictures of this miniature. She’s one of several Greco-Roman warrior women I’ll be painting for the Archangels Army.

Standing at an impressive 54 mm, she’s taller than the standard Space Marine, but the same can be said of virtually every ‘maiden’ in the Archangels army. Unlike the others, however, she isn’t proportionately as slim. This makes her noticeably bigger, compared to say, the Toxic Maidens, who are also taller than Space Marines, but a lot slimmer, which makes them look deceptively smaller than they actually are.

This mini is from Hasslefree and came in grey resin. Pretty high quality with hardly any imperfections, which means I didn’t have to do a lot of work before getting to the painting.

The most notable feature of this model, I think, is the gigantic shield. It gave me the idea to use it is as a platform for a large non-metallic metal painted surface, which I blogged about (How To Paint Non-Metallic Metal on Miniatures). I also did the helmet and sword in polished non-metallic metal. The sword and shield were painted in such a way that you can see from the above image that they depict a corresponding reflection.

This model took far less time than can be imagined. About 4-5 hours from assembly to completion. This is because it’s a simple mini that is easy to assemble and has very few details. The large section of bare skin meant that there was very little work required to make it look reasonably OK.

The speed with which I finished painting The Shieldmaiden is not an indication of how fast I paint. I’m actually a slow painter. For comparison, I’m currently painting a jump-pack Blood Angel in Artificer Armour using NMM, and it’s taken me days to do about 75%, with 10+ actual man-hours already invested…

A more ‘aerial’ view, for a better look at the helmet.

I know I should have done a How-To post on painting skin with this model, but I already finished doing most of everything, except the shield, which I had planned to blog about in relation to NMM, before I thought about it (ie taking progress pictures as I painted). This model has a lot of bare skin, making it a suitable candidate for a skin-painting tutorial. Another time, then!

Side note: Although it may not be obvious from the pictures, the skin on The Shieldmaiden was not painted in just one colour. No less than 5 Citadel colours were used, with glazing and blending. Never ever paint skin in just one colour – it looks terrible!!! I find that a lot of newbies aren’t aware of this. The thing is to paint it as if no more than one colour was used (so that your ‘girls’ have a smooth complexion) but use as many as will look good… yeah, that’s why there’s a need for a tutorial for the uninitiated.

Hmm, maybe I should choose a model with a little sheer clothing, so that I can also do semi-transparency painting effects…

Ah, well. There’s always time for that in the future, I suppose.

Quick Update

I’m working on a jump-pack¬†Blood Angel armed with plasma pistol and thunderhammer, in artificer armour. It’s in non-metallic metal (NMM). It’s about half done now, and will likely be part of the piece that I’ll be submitting for a painting competition in the near future.

Also, I should be posting up pics of the completed Shieldmaiden, which I used in my How To Paint Non-Metallic Metal on Miniatures post, in a few days.

Currently reading ‘Prospero Burns’ by Dan Abnett. Yup, he’s the best author in Black Library, which, sadly, isn’t saying much. At least he doesn’t make supposed genius supersoldiers look like incompetent morons. I’m not really a fan of Black Library, but once in a while, being a 40k enthusiast, I succumb to wishful thinking that there would be a true gem in the grim darkness of the far future… I should learn to stick to established authors in contemporary literature. It’s not like I have a lot of time to read just anything I come accross.

My Grey Knights Army will be starting with one humble squad of Purifiers (5-man). It’s not the numbers that count, as long as you look good ūüôā I’m getting someone to help me with most of this army, as I would like to concentrate on the Archangels, and also the upcoming painting competition.

Real-life work is picking up, but there should be enough staff to handle the load. Hopefully, have time to paint!

Work-In-Progress: The Shieldmaiden (90% complete)

I’m not a professional or an expert at painting miniatures. I’ve not attended a single class in any sort of Art, short of those¬†from pre-high¬†school. Even so, I have an¬†interest in painting as a hobby, though I rarely have time for proper¬†pieces these days, whether on canvas, paper or miniature. What I do¬†know is learnt by myself, mostly through experimentation and observation of the physical world.¬†Indeed, I’m told that my Art isn’t bad at all. Well,¬†qualified or not, here’s a little painting tutorial that certain people have been bugging me to do for some time…¬†

Caveat: This is strictly amateur hour. It may be of help to¬†those who are new to painting,¬†but¬†for what it’s worth, it probably won’t turn ordinary people into Golden Demon winners overnight, so¬†don’t expect too much! Also, techniques and terms described here are¬†mostly discovered on my own¬†or coined¬†by¬†me; they may differ from whatever the ‘experts’ recommend or term.

This tutorial has 2 main parts: the first deals with things you need to know to paint NMM; and the second is a step-by-step guide to how I painted The Shieldmaiden’s shield with NMM.

Introduction to Non-Metallic (NMM) Painting

This is a technique of painting in which non-metallic paints are used to achieve a metal effect in miniature painting. It is essentially painting 2-D artwork onto a 3-D object (ie the miniature) to simulate a metal appearance.

Some pointers before we start, just to debunk widely-held concerns regarding NMM:

1. NMM is too hard; it’s for experts only! Actually, understanding a few simple principles is all you need to produce a reasonably good NMM effect. You don’t need¬†years of painting experience¬†before attempting NMM!

2. NMM is too time-consuming! Not at all, if you know what you’re doing. There isn’t much fine detail painting involved, compared to say,¬†doing an elaborate banner. And you only use a few colours, usually just for¬†shading of the base colour!

3. I can’t do it; my hands are too big! That’s just an excuse. Seen any¬†tiny Golden Demon winners lately? The brush used is the same size, whether your hands are big or small! Probably easier if they are bigger, in fact!

The Most Important Step: Planning

Before you set paint to miniature, you must plan how your NMM 2D artwork¬† will look on the miniature. This is the single MOST IMPORTANT STEP in the entire process. If you planned it wrongly, your finished miniature won’t look right. And normally, whatever you mentally¬†envisioned in your original¬†planning will NOT be exceeded by the actual work produced; it will often¬†fall short. By how much depends on¬†painting skill. So it’s essential that you make the best possible plan from the onset.

It’s actually not hard. Just follow these simple guidelines:

Light Source(s) Determine where light will be falling on your miniature. There may be several sources, but if you’re a first-timer, have only one major light source from above slightly to the side, and one minor source elsewhere. Shading and highlight will follow the light… of course.

Earth-Sky Delineation If the surface is large enough, the pre-dominant feature will be what I like to call the ‘Earth-Sky Delineation’. This is the commonly seen effect on polished metal surfaces, for example, the dark line in the gold of the ‘White Dwarf’ lettering below:

Preview/Sample purposes only, no appropriation of IP intended

Depending on your primary light source, draw the ‘Earth-Sky’ partition.¬† The line should be at where¬†direct light as you¬†envision¬†just¬†can’t reach (ie from that point onwards, it hits at an angle instead of directly); if the surface is curved, follow the curve. The line should be a little ‘bumpy’, not too straight or uniform, or it’ll look unnnatural.

Shading and Highlight If there is an Earth-Sky Delineation, the part nearer the light source (ie ‘Sky’)¬†should be brightest from the line and getting darker as it moves NEARER the light, ie upwards if light is coming from above¬†(see ‘White Dwarf’ example above). The other half (ie ‘Earth’) should be dark at the line and going slightly lighter as it goes down. However, the¬†edges should be highlighted, especially nearest the light source, and less at the¬†opposite edge from that.

Reflection Absent from the ‘White Dwarf’ example is the presense of ‘Reflection’. This greatly enhances the believability of the NMM, which is essentially a forced¬†optical illusion. What this means is that you are painting in some artwork that simulates a reflection. For example, if your NMM surface is close to a prominent green object, there should be a corresponding warped green image in the NMM surface. This is by no means a must-do, but this separates the little leaguers from the Big Boys. You should do¬†this if the metal is to look highly polished, and especially if the surface is large.¬†

Light Globes/Trail Put in Sprinklings of light globes / trails (follow the curve of the miniature) to enhance the overall ‘reflective’ nature of metal. This is just a simple highlight in the form of¬†bright coloured dots or soft lines, strategically placed on the NMM artwork. For instance, look at the¬†shining star on the¬†‘F’ in the White Dwarf example above.

Now that you have a mental image, sketch with pencil and paper an approximation of how the NMM artwork should look like on the miniature, so that you can follow this when you actually paint. As you work, you may improvise beyond the original plan when appropriate. Inspiration sometimes strikes only at the very end!

Here’s a the simple sketch that I did for the helm of The Shieldmaiden shown at the beginning of this post:

As can be seen, planning NMM need not be complicated!

Painting Tips

What kind of paints are available? There 2 main types, when it comes to miniatures. The first is the ready-to-paint-from-the-bottle type. Citadel Paints are of this type. The paint is watery, and you can paint directly from the bottle after wetting your brush. Even the bottle, with its flip cap and mini-dish, is designed to facilitate this. The downside is that mixing and blending is not easy, because acryllics dry quickly, and the paint is too watery to use a wet palette effectively. A wet palette is a surface that has a wet sponge underneath, from which moisture is continually fed to the paint deposited on the palette, to prevent it from drying up.

The second type is the paste or semi -paste type. Vallejo Paints are of this type. You squeeze some out on a wet palette to facilitate easy mixing and blending. The downside is that you will not have the speed of painting straight from the bottle when applying solid unmixed colours and perhaps, when glazing. But you have greater control over the hue and tone of your colours.

In NMM painting, both blending and glazing are important, and used in tandem for the smoothest finish. Blending is a method of transitioning from one colour or¬†pitch/tone¬†to another¬†by incrementally¬†mixing one paint into another and painting the gradual change¬†at each stage of mix. Glazing is the method of painting semi-transparent (ie watered-down) layers of¬†paint onto an existing coloured surface. The gradual build-up of ‘glazes’ also result in a transition of one colour or pitch/tone to another.

Both types of paint can be used for NMM, with advantages and disadvantages as noted above. For newbys however, it may be advisable to use the paint-from-bottle type, for ease of use. As you’ll see in the step-by-step guide, if you have the right colours, no advanced techniques are required to achieve a reasonably good NMM effect!

Colour Palettes. Here are the paints you should have to do NMM for the 2 common metals in miniature painting (in Citadel Paint colours):

For Gold: Chaos Black, Calthan Brown, Snakebite Leather, Sunburst Yellow, Bleached Bone, Skull White and Optional РDark Flesh, Leviathan Purple

For Silver: Chaos Black, Codex Grey, Fortress Grey, Skull White and Optional – Regal Blue, Snakebite Leather

Some tips on general painting:

Extreme Contrast For best results, your darkest parts should be pitch black and your brightest parts should be pure white, regardless of what the base colour for your NMM is. Blend/glaze your base colour to black or white to achieve ultra high contrast typical of metals. 

Line Definition Define objects in your painting by painting edges with a highlight and a dark line next to each other, in order to make it pop out.

Shield of the Shieldmaiden, NMM Example, Step-By-Step Guide

This Guide is made with the newby in mind. Only Citadel Paints were used, to be applied from the bottle, with only a bit of watering down of paint for simple glazes, or dragging of the brush accross waste paper (to skim excess paint and sharpen brush point) required. You do not need a wet palette, or any advance techniques to complete. Remember to load your brush with a little water before dipping into the paint bottle!

After I had sketched a simple drawing of the NMM plan, I began by undercoating with Chaos Black.

I then painted the NMM part with solid Codex Grey. The Omega motif was then painted on in Chaos Black.

Next I drew the Earth-Sky line with tiny bumps (as discussed in the first section of this post) and shaded in the the dark tones by applying simple glazes of watered down Chaos Black. A good way to ensure a smooth finish is to apply only thin watered down paint that is almost dry on the brush; make repeated applications to build up pigment slowly, so that you can observe the gradual darkenning and control its strength. Glazing with black is considered easy, because black is the all dominant colour that can eclipse all other colours.

I then painted in the base colour of the Omega Motif (Iyanden Darksun). I used a founddation paint so that I only needed to make a single pass. Notice that I left¬†a black outline showing – this helps to bring out the Omega icon from the ‘silver’ background, which would otherwise look a little ‘drab’.¬†¬†I also tightened the shading of the background a bit.

The light tones were added. First I layered on some Fortress Grey near the ‘sky’ side of the Earth -Sky line, and then just a little Skull White as highlight. I also painted on a¬†headless triangle of Fortress Grey at the top, showing the direction of the light source. As¬† reflection, I washed a bit of watered down Regal blue over the top left corner, as reflection of the blue sky. For the bottom, I used Bestial Brown as reflected ground.

I strengthened the shading and highlights for the background. For the Omega icon, I used Snakebite Leather and watered down black to shade, and bleached bone to highlight. A thin white line was drawn at the light junctures to contrast with the black outline.

More touching -up, and soft light trails were added to the top left corner and also around the outer edged of the NMM part of the shield. Some Snakebite Leather was added to parts of the Bestial Brown, and twirly black outlines were drawn around them. The non-metallic part of the shield were painted on.

And the final look of the NMM shield, with Omega icon…

It took me just an hour to do this shield, including taking pics (this post took far longer!). I did it through breakfast this morning, before going off to the office! Which means that NMM isn’t hard and doesn’t really take very long to do!

The helmet was painted NMM gold, and the sword was polished silver…

I’ve yet to complete the model to my own satisfaction. Some more touch-up is required. Once I’m done, I’ll post The Shieldmaiden with proper pics as her own entry in the Archangels Army Gallery.

Haven’t done anything for my Archangels army for a very very long time. So, here’s the Executioness, which looks to me like a female version of Frank Frazzetta’s Death Dealer. A very cool mini from Kabuki Models. I’ve painted her in typical ‘Black Legion’ colours, though not consciously. Speed painted her in one night. Not too shabby, if I say so myself.

I think she’ll make an excellent counts-as-Kharn.

Why do¬†players lament the lack of melta in the new Grey Knights? I seriously don’t understand this.¬†Is it because they think that the Knights can’t deal effectively with Armour 14? I think these people haven’t thought this through properly.

Let’s analyse in more depth. The basic Troop unit for the Knights is the Strike Squad. They may take Psycannons. These days, that means Assault 2/Heavy 4 Range 24 S7 AP4 Rending… MUCH improved from the previous incarnation.¬† Statistically, that’s BETTER than a meltagun, in terms of rate of fire (even on the move) and¬†range¬†with around the same¬†chance¬†of¬†glancing¬†/ penetrating¬†AV14 (about 0.48 for¬†meltagun¬†IF WITHIN 6¬†inches¬†and¬†0.44 for psycannon FROM UP TO 24 inches away).¬†Yes, AP1 means that meltaguns may just pip psycannons in obtaining a ‘destroy’ result on average, but psycannons are far more likely to actually damage,¬†as you can have them shooting from farther away over more turns. A full Strike¬†Squad can have TWO psycannons, each cost the SAME as a meltagun. The equivalent Tactical squad can have only ONE meltagun. The Sergeant may have a one-shot combi-melta. Clearly, Strike Squads are better off when shooting at AV14.

In addition to that, you can arm the Justicar with a Daemonhammer, and then you can go HAMMERTIME against tanks! Casting Hammerhand increases the Justicar’s assault Strength to 10! That’s definitely better than a Tatctical Squad Sergeant’s S8 Fist or Hammer (which are¬†15-20 points more expensive!)! And the Daemonhammer can be Mastercrafted for 5 points!

Which means…. collectively, the humble Strike Squad is¬†as good if not better than an ordinary melta toting marine equivalent for tank hunting!

What’s more,¬†Purifiers, Paladins and Purgation Squads can take up to FOUR psycannons; indeed virtually every unit in the book can have psycannons, so quit worrying about lack of melta!

(If people are worried that S7 AP4 can’t ignore Feel No Pain and /or instant kill marines… please be reminded that psycannons are RENDING and shoot up to 4 times more per turn! It’s better than melta in almost everyway, trust me!)

Right. The new Grey Knights codex been out 2 weeks.¬†Panicked doomsayers of the¬†net are screaming ‘cheese’ and predicting the end of the world as we know it.¬†OK,¬†it’s¬†an improvement over the old codex, but it’s my firm opinion that¬†Grey Knights are¬†only¬†an upper middle tier army. Space Wolves, IG, and possibly Dark Eldar¬†and Blood Angels¬†remain top tier (in that order), after working out my mathhammer and overall army assessment (which¬†could be the subject of an entire post on its own!).

This post is concerned¬†only¬†about¬†the Grey Knights’ nemesis: Daemons. My first post about the new¬†Grey Knights was met with some criticism regarding my assessment of Grey Knights vs Daemons. Look, I’m not saying the Knights don’t have an advantage over Daemons; all I’m saying is that the advantage is less now compared with the old codex. For example, in the old codex,¬†‘ordinary’ Knights¬†had 2 base attacks (Stormbolter True Grit) during assault and usually needed a 3+ to hit (WS5), a 2+ to wound (S6)¬†and the Daemons get a 5+ save. Now, the Knights have 1 base attack,¬†need a 4+ to hit (WS4), a 4+ to wound (S4) and the Daemons still get 5+ save (2+ if having Blessing of the Blood God, which was not applicable for the old codex!). In what Universe would the latter be an improvement over the former?

Having said that, there is no denying that the new Knights still have an advantage over Daemons. All of them have preferred enemy against Daemons, their psycannons are now S7 AP4¬†Assault 2 / Heavy 4 Rending and are EVERYWHERE,¬†Psybolt ammunition improve bolt weapons by +1 Strength, the Dreadknight is designed to kill Greater Daemons or Daemon Princes and has Dark Excommunication, their Warp Quake¬†limits the Daemons’ deep striking, all their weapons are Daemonbane, etc…

So then, what can Daemons do to mitigate their disadvantage? What’s the appropriate response to their nemesis?

Let’s look at some options, shall we? In the HQ, we have Skarbrand, the Exiled One. This Bloodthirster grants preferred enemy to everyone within 24 inches, including the enemy. But since the Knights already have that, you lose nothing, but gain preferred enemy for most if not all of your army. The downside: He’s a Bloodthirster that CAN’T FLY (?!?), though he can Fleet. Also, he doesn’t have the Blessing of the Blood God (but he still has a 4+ invul that neither Dark Excommunication nor the Vindicare can remove!). He’ll kill a Dreadknight unscathed on the charge, by the law of averages, though. Not bad, especially if you take into account his multiplier effect on the rest of the army. A¬†little pricey, however.

An ordinary Bloodthirster is also good. Give him Flight, Blessing (2+ invul in assault and vs psychic powers) and/or Might for S8 (S9 on the charge).

The other Greater Daemons can be fielded but you won’t be getting any extra advantage over GK.

Side note:¬†You don’t have to worry about fielding Tzeentch Daemons because GK psychic defence is useless against Daemons – they¬†never roll for their powers; in fact they are not even listed as being psychic!

Heralds. If you want to shoot up GK and their transports, Tzeentch Heralds are probably the best answer. Put them in Chariots so that they have 5 Wounds¬†each and can zip around the battlefield as jetbikes). Give them Bolt (S8 AP1) and Breath (auto glance). The default Gaze is also deadly to GKs (Breath¬†is too). Make them Masters so that they can shoot twice a turn. All for 130 points each? Yes, please. You can take up to 4, that’s 20 wounds with 4+ saves and a lot of mid-range¬†firepower. Sadly, that is also the band range that GKs excel in.

If you’re really worried about Dreadknights, you may take Skulltaker. His ‘Skulls for the Skull Throne’ is not a Daemonic Gift and so cannot be removed by Dark Excommunication. He’ll instant kill the Dreadknight on a to¬†wound roll of 4+ if it’s not saved (5+ only for the Dreadknight). Skulltaker on Juggernaut¬†has 6 attacks hitting on 3s (re-rolling if Skarbarand is around) on the charge and strikes first. There is little chance that the Dreadknight will survive. You can join him with Bloodcrushers to make him more survivable against other threats. Downside: He moves as infantry¬†and has no shooting (don’t be fooled by the mini weilding a flaming skull –¬†he doesn’t have¬†Death Strike).

ELITES I’ve always considered¬†Fiends of Slaanesh as the best choice for Elites, not Bloodcrushers, because:

1. They’re cheaper

2. They’re faster (beasts)

3. Have offensive and defensive grenades

4. Have 2 more attacks than Bloodcrushers each to take advantage of Rending

5. Superior Initiative (so that the grenades are useful) that really shine against marines

With GKs, there is a slight problem. Halberds are I6, so they’ll strike first. Fortunately, ordinary GKs only have 1 attack at S4, and Halberds are expensive… the Fiends will do OK, you can have far more of them for the same points.

Some people swear by Flamers of Tzeentch, and they’re good because of Breath, but at 35 points a pop, with just 1 Wound, I don’t see them consistently surviving against S5 stormbolters and psycannons before they can get into template range to fire off their Breath…

TROOPS You probably don’t want Plaguebearers, which are the staple Troop choice for most Daemon armies. Their Feel No Pain doesn’t work in assault and GKs can increase their Strength to 5 with Hammerhand… so, better not. If you want shooty, Pink Horrors are not a bad choice. They aren’t as good against GK compared to non-marines, but they have 4+ saves, which means their T3 is not a complete disaster. Their great advantage is that you can start dealing damage upon arrival from deep strike, instead of waiting one turn to charge… and 4+ invul means they’re already in cover anywhere you land!

You may want to leave your assault to the Fiends (supra) instead of Bloodletters or Daemonettes in the Troop choices. It’s a matter of preference. But be reminded that Bloodletters or Daemonettes move only as infantry. Getting to assault will not be easy.

FAST ATTACK The easy choice is Flesh Hounds. They have Blessing and a reasonable number of attacks, move as beasts, and are cheap. GKs will really struggle against them in assault. They can act as tarpits as well.

HEAVY SUPPORT Soul Grinder or Daemon Prince? Both are useful. The Prince can be given Blessing, if you want a close combat monster. But either Tzeentch Prince or Soul Grinder are probably better choices because they also give you shooting.

Some afternotes:

Although Blessing of the Blood God seems overwhelmingly good against GK, there’s still a downside, Khorne Daemons have little to no shooting, which means you’ll be just sitting there to be shot at and/or assaulted before you get to do anything after appearing. So deep strike behind cover to improve your normal save from shooting to 4+!

Daemons arrive by Deep Strike in stages. This is a problem, as they’ll be picked off with GKs scary mid-range firepower. If you arrive too far, your shooting can’t touch them and it’ll take you a long time to assault, while getting shot up. If you come too close, they’ll shoot you up mercilessly. It’s a conundrum. Try to ensure there’s proper terrain on the table, or it’ll be a monumental uphill task instead of a difficult one.

So that’s my take on Daemons trying to survive against Grey Knights. It’ll be a different army from the balanced, all-comers list (bar GK), but against an army designed to kill it, this may be the only way to avoid annihilation!