I’ve been pretty busy over the past few months, the game I’m working has passed the feature complete milestone and is about to hit beta so there’s been less time for painting and gaming in general. Despite all that I’ve had a chance to crack on with a few bits and pieces including the start of a new army project. This time I’m doing a 40k army as some of the new guys at work are keen to play with round bases for a change. A string of happy coincidences meant that the discussion about starting 40k happened just before my birthday which fell 2 days after the release of the new Codex: Grey Knights. I’ve never really been a fan of Marines as an army to collect but the new Grey Knights are simply extraordinary. I bought the codex, a bunch of the new kits and then barely had time to paint them, hence it’s taken me until now to get the first elements of the army completed.
The first thing I completed was a squad of Terminators. In previous incarnations of the army, Grey Knight Terminators were the mainstay of the force. This isn’t as true as it once was but Terminators as a troops choice is still an appealing prospect. There are a lot of options in the box and the codex lists a bewildering array of builds for each terminator in a squad. I thought about magnetising them but figured that I was probably going to field them as a mostly vanilla squad so I gave them a mixture of free upgrades and left it at that. The arms were painted separately on some of the figures as the two-handed weapons are held in such a way as to make painting the figure difficult when they are attached.
I wanted to try and experiment with different ways to paint Marines and the method I chose for these wasn’t entirely successful in the end. To start with I airbrushed them all Chainmail, then I sprayed in some Charadon Granite/Badab Black into the lowlights. I’m trying to do a similar effect to non-metallic metals but using metallic paint while still keeping the extreme contrasts between highlights and lowlights. Once the lowlights were sprayed into armour joints and the lower facing areas of plate, I started to shade with Mithril Silver and Vallejo Ivory. This part was done with a brush rather than with the airbrush. I hatched Chainmail across the plates to smooth the lowlights a little and then built up the highlights on the upper surfaces before applying a glaze of Enchanted Blue to smooth everything out and to break the harsh silver. Finally I added the extreme highlights in white and ivory.
Next up were the Nemesis Force Weapons and I was pretty excited about being able to do these superfast with the airbrush. “Haha!” I thought, “no tedious blending for me!” I masked half of each side of each blade and went to work then repeated the process on the other half. Unfortunately the tape I used lifted the paint off which meant that I had to do so much tidying up with the brush that I ended up practically painting the entire blades by hand anyway. They started off Mordian Blue and then had Ultramarines Blue painted across the flat of the blades before the shimmer patterns were painted in with Ice Blue and Skull White. This is easier than it looks, it’s just time consuming. Very thin paint and very fine strokes in a diagonal hatching pattern are what you need with a few lines outside the main lighting area to provide some relief.
With the blades done it was time to finish off all the detail. The gold was painted with Tausept Ochre before a thin coat of Vallejo’s Oro Glorioso was applied over the top. Then a wash of Brown Ink defined the details before the individual letters and other details were then picked out with a Mithril Silver/Oro Glorioso mix. The Stormbolter casings and the pauldron shields were painted with Scab Red and this was highlighted with Tallarn Flesh mixed with a little Blazing Orange. Heraldic patterns were painted on in Skull White and Chaos Black. Someone senior at GW – I seem to remember that it was Alan Merritt but I may be mistaken – once explained to me that red, white and black are ‘good fascist colours which is why they are used so much for the Imperium’. Regardless, they provide a very bold scheme to make detail pop so I reserved their use for heraldry.
The bases are resin Ruins bases from Microart Studios. I bought a bunch of them in all the sizes I’d need for a Space Marines army so I have some at 25mm for power-armoured marines, 40mm for Terminators, 60mm for Dreadnaughts and a couple of 120mm oval bases for a Stormraven and a Dreadknight. As the army has a low model count and every figure is elite, I could justify putting everything on a special base. These were painted Charadon Granite and then drybrushed in Graveyard Earth and Codex Grey.
Next up was a Razorback as a way to test vehicle painting with the airbrush. Again, this was sprayed Chainmail and then the Charadon Granite/Badab Black mixture was liberally sprayed into the angles between armour plates. Successive thin coats of Chainmail were then sprayed in blend these lowlights in and I did a few passes with Mithril Silver over the upward facing plates. Then the recesses in the tside armour were masked off and Scab Red was sprayed in there as well as on the cowling for the lascannons. The red was highlighted in the same way as for the Terminators’ Stormbolters and then I wen to work with some freehand. I want the Grey Knight vehicles to look baroque and covered in battle-honours so I painted in a chapter symbol on one door along with some gold scrollwork on the red recesses. The gold was shaded by painting thin lines of black and white around it to make it stand out from the red background and I took the oppportunity to abuse my classical education with some cod Latin on the scroll and the side of the lascannon housing (‘Lux ex Umbra’ means Light From the Shadows). One front glacis was painted with heraldry that will eventually match a Strike Squad Justicar and the other got a numerical designation in accented gold.
The lenses in the cupola were painted in much the same way as for the Nemesis Force Weapons, thin hatching patterns of Ice Blue and Skull White over a Mordian/Ultramarine Blue base. Some final highlighting on the edges with ivory and the tank was done. I didn’t paint the interior on this one but I may well do for future tanks. I have a half completed Stormraven which has got as far as a detailed interior and a basecoat on the outside so far, any Landraiders will also have detailed interiors for sure.
Overall I’m enjoying painting these more than I expected I would, the figures are gorgeous and by stretching myself with the ‘true-metallic metal’ technique I can learn more about painting through these. I haven’t got the technique down properly yet but I have a few more squads to paint and I’ll keep experimenting with each one.
You can see more photos of the finished Grey Knights as well as some work in progress shots on this gallery page.