Friday, July 5, 2013

Close Combat Terminators WIP, Part I

It's taken a while (I think I bought the kits nearly two years ago), but I finally started the Close Combat Terminators. After painting almost every night for a month and a half to finish the Ironclad Dreadnought and Captain Agemman, I decided to take a week off before starting another project. I started the eight man squad (i.e., the maximum capacity for a Land Raider Crusader) around June 30 and have been working pretty consistently since then.

I started with the bases, which won't be quite as ornate as Agemman's. I'll be forgoing the rocks and will stick with just the Stirland Mud texture paint:

One of eight

I'm rather fond of the new texture paints. They're easy to use and, in this case, look just like mud. The only disadvantage is that you have to glob on huge volumes of the stuff, meaning that my current bottle won't last as long as I'd like. The bases look pretty good with just the texture paint, but they'll look even better when they get a good dry brushing and some static grass.

Originally I was going to do my "ground up" build, which would normally culminate with the heads. However, I've been so intimidated by the idea of painting white Veterans' helmets that I decided just to get them over with.

I've long been dissatisfied with the shooty Terminators I finished almost two years ago. Since the Black Reach Terminators' helmets were part of the torso, they ended up getting primed black with the rest of the model. Although I tried to build up from gray, the Skull White took too many layers to fully cover the base coat. I gave up on white and used Space Wolves Grey instead, which made them a lot bluer than I wanted. I finished the helmets with a heavy wash of Asurmen Blue, not realizing that a relatively dark wash over a lighter color would look horrible. I tried to whiten the helmets and lighten the wash by dry brushing white over the helmets, but Skull White doesn't dry brush well.

But this time I have Ceramite White, better brushes, a jeweler's magnifier visor, nearly two years more experience, and a much steadier hand. Plus, I primed the helmets with Army Painter's Uniform Grey, which is a lot easier to cover with lighter pigments than black.

To further differentiate Agemman from a Terminator sergeant, I decided to give the sergeant the traditional red helmet with a white stripe. First I painted his lenses Snot Green then painted the helmet Mephiston Red. Painting the eyes is the hardest part for me since I inevitably get the helmet color onto the lenses, then I get the lens color onto the helmet while trying to fix the lenses, then... well, I can do this several times before I get it right. I finished the eyes with a couple layers of Nuln Oil, making sure that the lenses had a noticeable black border, then going back with Snot Green to lighten up the center of each lens. Mephiston Red was used to clean up the Nuln Oil that strayed too far from the eyes.

Head on a pike. I glue all my Marine heads onto bits of
sprue to make them easier to handle while painting

I painted the white stripe with Ceramite White, which was able to cover the gray primer in two to three layers. I kept the coat relatively smooth by frequently wetting the brush tip. The optics over the left eye and the respirator use my usual Leadbelchers/Nuln Oil/dry brushed Chainmail approach.

It was in finishing the helmet that I did something I'd never really done before. Instead of slathering on the Nuln Oil like I would do with the armor, I used my beloved Atlas 3/0 brush to fill in just the crevices. The crevices in the region of the white stripe were filled with Drakenhof Nightshade instead. I finished the helmet off with some Mephiston Red and Ceramite White to clean up the lines and gave most of the helmet a quick dry brushing of Blood Red.

With the sergeant's helmet done, I reluctantly moved on the Veterans' helmets. I had already painted the lenses of all seven Veterans with Mephiston Red and the snouts of the helmets with Chaos Black. Now I had to bite the bullet and actually paint with white.

Did you know that Ceramite White is a miracle?

Rather than to try to mass produce the helmets, I choose to finish one completely for practice. The white was a bit difficult to work with at first-there were significant clumps and brush strokes-but after I figured out exactly how much wetting the brush needed, things went a lot smoother. With the white regions of the helmet fully painted and the lenses painted just as I did with the sergeant's helmet (except with Blood Red for the center of the lenses), I took that final leap and broke out the Drakenhof Nightshade.

The Drakenhof Nightshade (which is even darker than the Asurmen Blue that gave me problems two years ago) went into the crevices of the helmet. The lines were cleaned up with Ceramite White, and particularly dark regions were lightened with heavily watered-down Skull White.

From left to right: finished sergeant's helmet, two finished helmets, one
helmet before adding Drakenhof Nightshade, and one partially white helmet

I finished the helmet with a light dry brushing of Space Wolves Grey to give it a slight blue tinge and then a dry brushing of Ceramite White. Infinitely happier with these results than I was with my original Terminators, I moved on to a second helmet to see if I could repeat it. The second helmet was nearly identical to the first, so I went into mass production mode.

I finished the eyes on the remaining five helmets (which leaves most of the face white) then went on to painting the entirety of each helmet. As of this post, I have one finished sergeant's helmet, two finished Veterans' helmets, three Veterans' helmets that need their snouts painted and the crevices washed, and two Veterans' helmets that are only as far having finished eyes and partially painted snouts. Once the helmets are done, the rest of the Terminators should be pretty easy.

I'm sure there are experienced painters out there who will find it funny that I've just started using controlled application of washes, but until recently I didn't have the experience or the steady hand needed to make it work. Unfortunately, with improving skill comes increasing dissatisfaction with my earlier efforts.


  1. Another enjoyable post as always, James.

    I really admire the improvement in your painting, and I think pin washing is definitely a big part of making a whole miniature look much more impressive and clean (too many people use weathering powders and paint battle damage these days), but I too can commiserate with how much more painstaking precise inking is compared to simply brushing on a wash.

    I apologize if I may have overlooked this, but is there any particular reason you chose to redo your Ultramarines' bases in this particular scheme? I don't think you mentioned the reason last time. I was just curious, as I wanted to do a Stirland Mud theme as well with some dark green flock to recreate the battleground environs I personally had in mind. The 'Eavy Metal style Steel Legion Drab rims are very much this generation's Goblin Green rims, and though I don't find them quite as iconic as the old style, it blends well with nearly every type of terrain and overall looks better than the garish green bases of yore.

    I myself ended up going with a desert base using Armageddon Dust texture because I felt it would bring more contrast and pop to the models, as well as being easier to work with and not require flock or tufts, but I still would like to make a brown and green table one day.

    1. Thank you for your comments. As a matter of fact, I haven't addressed my new bases. This is odd since I'm usually overly talkative about everything else.

      Bryce had a lot of influence on my original models. At the time I got into the hobby, he did very little with his bases; in fact many of them were simply black (I think he's been meaning to change this). I didn't want to have black bases, but I didn't feel skilled enough to do anything elaborate. Thus, I simply painted the bases gray and splashed on some black wash.

      With the release of Stirland Mud, I decided to finally give my bases some attention. When I won a basing kit in our last Cabal mini-tournament, I was committed. The Steel Legion Drab goes well with the Stirland Mud as well as the fabric on our gaming tables, so it was an obvious choice when I got to work on the Ironclad Dreadnought. Agemman's base also got a Steel Legion Drab rim. To stand out, he ended up with some basing rocks in addition to the Stirland Mud. The Terminators will be following suit, although without the rocks.

      The big question is whether or not I'll use my new base style on the additional Tactical Marines I've started or if I'll repaint the bases of my older models. I have a similar dilemma for the four Scout Marines I'll be adding to Telion's squad.

  2. Very nice work! I've also become a fan of the texture paints as it's save me a lot of time since I don't have to deal with Elmer's glue and white sand. Now I use Mourn Mt Snow with an Agrax Earthshade wash and the edges painted black. It's so easy in fact it only took me am afternoon to go back and redo the bases of my older figures.


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