Tuesday, 3 February 2015

What two years of painting can do for you

When I was younger, I got my first taste of the 41st millennium at my local hobby shop when I read a copy of the old Daemon Hunters codex.  Remember that one?  I can't find a copy of the picture to post here, but you should hopefully know.  The horror and disgust that filled my mind enthralled me, and I was irrecoverably hooked.
About decade later, I bought my first Space Marines from a friend; I assembled them and left them be, too scared to paint them in case I messed up.  I decided on a Chapter name, heraldry and everything and after six or eight months finally decided to buy some paint.

Two years have passed since then.  I still have my first squad I painted, and as much as I want to strip them and thus absolve myself, I need to keep them to remind me just how far I've come.  I've compiled a few photographs of my Astartes from then to now.  Sometimes I felt so useless with the brush I wanted to just throw in the trowel and give up painting, but I remembered that old codex, remembered why I started the hobby and took heart, picked my brush back up and carried on.

Oh, that sounded lame.  Never mind.  Picture time.

My first squad-- all I knew in the way of detail was battle damage and dust, and was not very good at that.  No washes, no drybrushing, nothing.  Look at the backpack.  I didn't even trim the mold lines.

Second squad-- I sort of had an idea where I was going.  I had already proposed to hand-paint the icons onto the shoulder guards, but I was still very poor.  Watering down dryad bark was something I thought of, but was too scared to try it.
I found out about writing script on with pencil; also, what started as an accident became my signature of sorts-- the white stipple.

Third squad-- my Chapter was only going to ever have two devastator squads, so I wanted to do my very best.  Dryad Bark left the yellow a nice, dull ochre, so I was very happy; I also found using  watered down Bestial brown left a nice, rusty finish, along with a bit of Fire Dragon Bright drybrushed over.

Fourth squad-- by this time, my confidence had grown along with my repertoire of techniques.  I started using a pitt pen more often, including make-up around the Astartes' eyes.  I also found that colouring the basing sand orange and drybrushing it with Zandri dust as opposed to dabbing the paint on all thick, it made a much nicer base overall.

Fifth squad-- throwing any and all caution to the winds, I tried splotching watered down Caliban green and Abbadon Black over the brown before the rust wash.  The result was a very bitter, dark colour that I felt befitted the 41st millennium quite well.

Sixth squad-- but I didn't stop developing my skill.  After acquiring some technical paints, I went to town with oxodising brass, sticky, caked-on blood and decades worth of grime.  I also found dropping a little watered down Nurgling green into the eye worked better than trying to highlight it with a brush.

This is my most recent Astartes.  I always strive to paint at least a little like the John Blanche, and I think I might be getting there.

So you see what two years of painting can do for you.  Just keep practicing, don't hold back with new ideas/techniques, and above all things, let the Emperor guide your hand as you paint.



  1. That is a fantastic journey! While I am personally not a fan of the Blanche style, you have clearly developed it into an impressive finish. It's also really neat to see the progress lined up like that, you should think about submitting it to the white dwarf team

    1. Thank you for the kind words! I have considered submitting it several times. As for the style, I will never be finished developing it. It shall be an ongoing thing and I shall not stop and say "well, that's good enough".