Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Blood Angels Sternguard Sergeant

The first mini in April's queue is done.

He's off to EBAY now, looking for a good home. You can vote on him at CoolMini, and find the EBAY link here:

I tried a few new things on this mini. Battle damage on the red, and the worn holster were new for me. This was my first go at a marble effect on stone, but the biggest experiment was using the Vallejo Air Gold for the first time.

Here's a brief breakdown of what I did and why.

First of all, I'm a huge fan of the 'Eavy Metal painting style. Unfortunately, I'm not such a fan of GW paints. I painted with them for 20 years, and still have a large collection of vintage paints from the early 90's that are still in perfect working order after all these years. Yet, it's the wonderful coverage, and unusual tones, of the Privateer Press line of P3 paints that I reach for almost everytime.

Given that the good money is in painting GW minis, in GW schemes, the challenge is to recreate these schemes with an entirely different range of paints. With this mini that challenge was made more difficult by the fact that everyone likes a different style of the Blood Angels' red armor. Some people like the look of the red highlighted with a bit of white (just on the verge of pink). Others like the highlights to be taken up to orange or even yellow.  While some prefer a darker tone, highlighted up to a cherry red.

Personally, I like the armor itself to have a strong Blood Red tone, while the brightest highlights are pure yellow. Since I painted this guy with buyers' tastes in mind, I went for a happy medium. I also wanted to play a bit more with light and shadow than you would see on a normal GW Studio Marine, while still keeping in the 'Eavy Metal style. I'm calling this 'Eavy Metal Plus.

For the armor, I started with my normal Black Basecoat, as I find it gives the colors a stronger, more comicbook, appearance. Two coats of Sanguine Base cover the Black well. I started to build up the Red by adding Khador Red Base to the Sanguine. I think I went through two progressions of this before I got up to pure KRB, say a 1 to 1 mix, and then a 2 to 1 mix. These were layed down to build up the light source, and define the shadows.

Once I knew where I was going with this, which took a few tries as Marine armour is a bunch of flat, yet round, surfaces, I started to highlight. The first few layers of highlights are quite broad, to show the direction of the light. I added Hearfire ( an slightly orange yellow) to my Khador Red Base, using the same ratios as above. Finally, I did my edge highlighting with, appropriately enough, Khador Red Highlight. At this point he was WAY too orange, but that problem would be solved after I painted the battle damage.

I painted the battle damage with a brush, as I have not yet perfected the sponging technique on small models. I want most of my chips to be quite small, and the sponge is way too sloppy for me. Keep in mind that the pics show the marine a few times bigger than he is in hand, so some of the chips look HUGE. All the chips were layed down with Black. They were highlighted with Khador Red Base, and then cleaned up with the Black again. The bigger chips were given a spot of Greatcoat Grey in the middle to tone down the black a bit. At this point the black was a bit strong, but that would be toned down when the armor is given a wash to tie it all together at the end.

Speaking of Black, I have a pretty standardized approach to my Black. Once I have a nice solid basecoat, I add some volume to the surface with Coal Black. This has a nice blue tone in it, and is one of my favorite paints in the P3 range. The next layer is Greatcoat Grey, which also has a nice blue tone. The fineline highlight is Trollblood Highlight. If I need a smoother transition, I will do a layer of Greatcoat Grey and Trollblood Highlight at a 1 to 1 ratio.

A few lessons in trial-and-error have shown me that when you want to paint battle damage on black, you need a lighter surface color around the chips. I make sure that there is some Greatcoat Grey where I plan to put the Black chips. The chips are highlighted with Trollblood Highlight.

At this point, I gave the armour a couple of glazes of P3 Red Ink. This was diluted with some P3 Mixing Medium and Water, until I had a puddle I could see through. Being careful to not overload the brush, and not work over the same brushstrokes much, I covered the armour a few times. Each layer was allowed to dry a bit before the next glaze went on. This brought all the different Red/Orange layers together nicely, and toned down the black chips.

The squad and chapter markings are done freehand. Since I knew I wanted to chip up the skull symbols, I didn't want them to go up to pure White (so the White Highlight on the chips would show up). A lot of people are intimidated by freehand, but it just takes patience, thin paint, some good reference material, and the right steps. The most important thing is to "sketch" the design on with the subtlest color possible, with nice thin paint.

For both the skulls, and the winged blood drop, I started with Greatcoat Grey. Once I had a design I was happy with, I blocked in the skulls with Trollblood Highlight and the winged blood drop with Black. Since I knew I didn't want to go all the way up to White on the skulls, they were finished off with a 1 to 1 mix of  Trollblood Highlight and White. The winged blood drop was given a layer of Greatcoat Grey so the the chips would show up. The skulls were chipped in the same way as the rest of the armor, and highlighted with White.

For my purity seal, I started with Battlefield Brown. This was given a layer of Gun Corps Brown, and then a layer of Menoth White Base. This is then washed with GW Devlan Mud. I clean up the wash with the MWB again, and then highlight with Menoth White Highlight. The wax seal is based with Sanguine Base, and highlighted with Sanguine Highlight. Funny how that works;). The fine lines are painted with a 1 to 1 mix of Sanguine Highlight and Menoth White Highlight. The scribbles of text, and winged blood drop were done with thin Black paint.

This was my first try at a more worn look to the leather. I didn't go as far as I could have on the strap, but went to town on the holster. They were basecoated with Battlefield Brown, and then Bootstrap Leather. The shadows were defined with a mix of BB and Black. A little Menoth White Highlight was added to the Bootstrap Leather, and layed down with a bit of stippling and streaking so everything doesn't look so perfect and even. I then came back in with the Battlefield Brown to create some extra texture. The final highlights are a 1 to 1 mix of Bootstrap Leather and Menoth White Highlight.

For the gem and lenses I started with Gnarls Green. The bottom 2/3 of the surface is the painted with Iosan Green. A fine swoop along the bottom is painted in with Necrotite Green, and then again even finer with Cygnus Yellow. A spot of Black is dotted along the top, from the direction of the light source, and then an even smaller dot of White finishes it off.

There are an aweful lot of studs on this guy, but they are very simple to paint. Once the studs had been cleaned up with Black, they were given a basecoat of Pig Iron (another of my favorite P3 paints). A simple highlight of Vallejo Air Aluminium, and you're good to go. The gun was painted the same way, with a Boltgun Metal layer done between the basecoat and highlight stages. A little P3 Armor Wash is used before the final highlight as well, to really define the shadows.

Now the part that everyone has been asking for, the Gold. There have been a lot of issues with P3's metals, and some of them are really hard to find. A good pot of Rhulic Gold is almost as rare as real Gold these days. I've had my pot for 4 years now, and it is starting to show it's age. This spurred my to try a paint that I had always heard rave reviews about, Vallejo Air Gold. My basecoat of this paint can be seen below, in the WIP pics for this guy in my last post. All i can say after my first impression of this paint is that I FUCKING hate it!!! Yes, all caps on that one. That's how strong my first reaction was. It's way too bright for my painting style. After I restrained myself from hurling the mini against the wall, and re-thought my initial desire to chuck the paint pot in the bin, I figured out how to use it.

All my Golds are basecoated with Battlefield Brown, to give a nice surface for the Gold to cover. This makes life easier than trying to cover Black with Gold. The basecoat is Rhulic Gold. This is washed with P3 Flesh Wash. This may sound strange, but the Burgandy tone in the Flesh Wash is actually a perfect shade for Gold. The mid-tone is a 2 to 1 mix of Rhulic and Vallejo Air Golds. I tried a 1 to 1 mix first, but the VAG is just too strong, and totally dominated the Rhulic. This was followed by a wash of GW Leviathan Purple. The main highlights were done with pure Vallejo Air Gold. the studs were defined with P3 Armor Wash. The final highlights on the edges and studs were done with Vallejo Air Aluminium.

The stone eagle was basecoated with Battlefield Brown, followed by a layer of Gun Corps Brown. Next came a layer of Menoth White Base, being careful to leave the GCB in the shadows. A layer of Menoth White Highlight finished things off. Since this was an attempt at marble, I needed to paint veins. For a bit of variety, I went with two different colors, Gun Corps Brown and Greatcoat Grey. These were painted in fine lines with thinned paint, and then washed with a very thin layer of MWH to blend them into the stone. The chipping was painted in with Battlefield Brown, and the everything was given a fine highlight of pure White.

The base wash drybrushed with Battlefield Brown, then Gun Corps Brown, then Menoth White Highlight. The shell casings were painted with the old GW Dwarf Bronze, and then the whole base was washed with GW Devlan Mud. A fine highlight of Vallejo Air Aluminium on the bronze, and a light drybrush of MWH to finish the dirt, and this badboy is done.

Hopefully, this has been an interesting, helpful, read. I hope I haven't missed anything.

All in all, I'm happy with how this guy turned out. I think I have my 'Eavy Metal Plus style of Space Marine figured out.

Thanks for looking.



  1. So would you recommend Vallejo Air Gold at this point, or do you think it isn't worth the hassle even though you got it to work? Also, what is the benefit of Vallejo Air metallics when using a traditional brush?

  2. Hey Greg.

    The paint itself is amazing. Super-fine granuals make for a smooth paint. It just takes some adjustment when you're used to a different tone. I tried shading it down with Devlan Mud after the initial basecoat, but it didn't tone down the brightness at all. This Gold has a life of its own!

    The main benefit with the Air Metals when painting with a regular brush, is that they are not as granular as normal acrylic metals, so they go on so smooth. No lumps or bumps to wrestle with. Highly reccomended, but they will take some getting used to.


  3. Would mixing a Model Air umber (or something similar) with the gold work to tone it down?

  4. I'm not sure, as I haven't tried it. I did try mixing in Battlefield Brown (the darkest brown in the range) into the Air Gold, but it didn't really help. For some reason this Air Gold is just uber-bright. It just takes some experimentation to figure out how you like to use it.