Catching the miniature bug alongside Shane, Rob began painting & collecting a wide range of miniatures. Here he details his journey working through the Age of Sigmar: Dominion Box. And first up are the Stormcast Thunderstrikes. Take it away Rob!Shane
Painting Dominion – Part One
Walking into Shane’s house for the first time and seeing a bookcase proudly boasting rank after rank of the Empire’s finest was a blast from the past.
The rehearsal I had arrived for was immediately postponed. Instead Shane walked me through an excellently painted collection of pikemen, steam-tanks and griffon riding generals.
Finally, an opaque plastic box was unearthed from under the stairs, bursting with a teenage Battle Games in Middle-Earth Collection. A passion that had laid dormant for years was relit.
Three years on and my own teenage collection of Lord of the Rings miniatures has found its way to my home in Melbourne and has expanded considerably. It’s also been joined by miniatures from the 41st Millennium, the Mortal Realms and a galaxy far, far away.
When Shane asked me what would I like to contribute to this blog, I thought long and hard about what to spotlight as my first post. In the end, the answer was simple.
It could be better than gold + blue
I’ve developed a real passion for Age of Sigmar over the years. I remember being deeply unimpressed after buying the small starter box ‘Storm Strike’ a couple of years ago. The miniatures were larger, and I felt the Stormcast were clunky. Added to this my re-emergent painting skills had made a fine mess of my small collection of Nighthaunt.
But time passed, and a subscription to the Mortal Realms magazine led to a love of both armies. Things really clicked for me when I painted up my Knight-Incantor from the Mortal Realms. Now I had a colour scheme I liked I jumped into my Stormcast army whole-heartedly.
Starting off: Stormcast Thunderstrike Vindictors
Over a series of blog posts, I’ll document my development of the Thunderstrike Stormcasts from Dominion, as well as the Kruleboyz.
Shane and I had recently had a chat about commission painting, and whilst its something I feel I need to get better at before exploring it concretely, the idea was in my mind as I set about painting my first batch of Vindictors.
I told myself to really take my time with the first one. I wanted to give myself time to think over the colour scheme and see where I’m at as a painter.
With the model painted and based I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I felt it was a good enough table top standard. I loved the purple leather of the weapons – it would set them apart from the scarlet binding of my other Stormcast models and was a nice nod to Imperial Rome, a personal obsession of mine. I loved the nice colourful shield as well – the bold heraldry and bare head really made the model feel like a medieval hero of lore. And it’s much more in keeping with the Stormcast Eternals actual background.
But I also felt the shading was a bit sloppy and the painting a bit chalky. The model didn’t really feel worth the three hours of work that went into it. Never mind – these were good notes to keep in mind as I forged onward!
One down, two to go…
I had a few goals in mind as I moved on to painting the next two. One, I wanted the shading to be stronger. I made a point of creating a strong zenithal highlight in the priming stage. Then I really tried to focus on creating a nice contrast between the blacks and greys of the armour. (The armour started off as a coat of Abaddon Black, with more and more Fenrisian Grey added as I built up the highlights).
Also wanting to be quicker, and really pushed myself to finish the models with a much larger brush. I ended up using a Citadel Medium Shade brush for most of both. I was happy that to finish both of them in just over two hours. This was a massive improvement in time and I felt there was no decrease in quality. For someone with an eye on commission painting in the future this was good news.
When a plan works…
This sort of focused, goal-orientated approach to painting was new to me, and I found as I painted my way through the squad I really enjoyed it. Not only was my painting improving incrementally, but I felt my joy of the hobby deepening.
With the next model I wanted to really try to get better with the highlighting. Contrast was my friend here, and I attempted to move from the darker, more shadowy areas of the models to bring sun-drenched part in smaller places.
The large smooth panels of the Stormcasts armour were excellent to practice on. Though I think there’s some improvement happening; there’s still a long way to go! I also put in extra effort on the next model’s face.
Leading the thunder-strike!
He was the leader of the squad after all! I’m a good Irish Catholic, and I couldn’t pass up making him a fiery redhead. I also felt the orange would help set him apart from the other soldiers so far. He came in at just under an hour and a half. It’s a time that I would like to improve on, but am happy with at this stage.
The Standard Bearer
The last model in the squad was the most tricky. I loved the sculpt – a stalwart bald-headed warrior staunchly guarding his squad’s standard. The face immediately reminded me of Major Alex Louis Armstrong from Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. So a blonde moustache and beard were applied.
I have to say though, this is where my luck with colour ended. I made several attempts at the banner, and was unable to find a scheme I’m happy with. I’ll build up the current scheme shown with layers of Ulthuan Grey and Corax White on the standard. Then will use a Rakarth Flesh / Screaming Skull mix on the pennant; so it doesn’t clash as I brighten everything up. On the plus side, painting his face took me much less time than the squad leader’s.
He’s still a work in progress, but I’m happy to leave him as is for now.
Grit and determination
Overall, I’m quite pleased with the squad. The new models are just beautiful. And by allowing me to paint different hair colours and designs on each shield I could really individualise each model. A story was already forming in my head. The two models I painted together were brother and sister, their poses helping show their connection. Both were dour, focused combatants, doing their best to protect each other’s back.
My first model, with his less regimented pose, was the 2IC. Too impetuous. Too individualistic to lead the squad. But just too goddamn good at what he does to be one of the rank and file. I loved my redheaded leader, strong, leading by example but always with an eye for the troops.
Finally my bald-headed standard bearer was a weathered veteran. He’d seen it all, and had no fucks left to give. In my head he barely spoke, perhaps offering the sage word of advice over a campfire on the campaign trail. Despite his silence, he was well-respected and well-liked within the group.
A change of pace
Taking my time to paint like this was a new experience. I normally only spend so long on a model if they’re a hero. I can happily bash out 5 Liberators in an hour; and get them to a standard that I think is acceptable. But because of the time I spent with each of these models, and the goal setting I used, I feel connected to them a lot more.
I also felt that by the end of it was a slightly better painter. The whole experience made me want to really dive into the world of painting; and see just how far I can push myself. It was also a great lesson in coming to terms with limitations. I need to thin my paints more. I’d like to get faster. And I’d like to do better faces. That will come with time and patience.
For now, I’m very happy with where I’m at!
I’ll be tackling the Knight-Aracanum from Dominion. As a hero, I’ll be making sure I put in the time to make her really shine on the tabletop. Who knows what will be next – I might push on with the Stormcast (which I’m really enjoying). Or get to work on the Kruleboyz.
My ultimate goal is to get Shane to play a game of Age of Sigmar – something he has so far refused to do! He’s coming round though, and I hope by showing off all the models in this blog I’ll bring him round. I can’t make any promises, dear reader, but I hope to end this little series with a battle report of Shane’s first game of Age of Sigmar.
I’ll also be documenting my exploration into grimdark painting. I’ve got a Space Wolves army I want to revisit. I’m hungrily eyeing the Thousand Sons and Grey Knights battle box, so stay tuned for that!
Thanks for reading!