Not your grandfather’s Red Gore.

Of all the things I’ve missed since our kid was born two years ago, I was surprised by how much I missed painting. I wasn’t particularly on a tear when Fi was born anyway, having ground to a halt on a number of projects. But painting was once of those nice relaxing things I did periodically, before everything got rearranged, time-wise.

You don’t need a lot of time to paint. 20 minutes here, 30 minutes there. The only exception is when you mix your own colours or are blending. Then you kind of need to make the most of it. So I set up a barish-bones paint area at the dining room table and started back up again.

The glut of miniatures that came with the various Descent, Mansions of Madness and Imperial Assault boxes means that even if I didn’t have a basement crammed full of unpainted miniatures, I’d have a lot to paint for quite a long time. So I decided to get wired in.


I started with Imperial Assault – it’s the smaller collection, for a start. But it also has the Trooper hurdle that hopefully I’ll get over: There are 9 Stormtroopers and 2 E-Web Engineers to paint in their White and Black armour. Everything else in the Imperial Assault box comes in groups of four or fewer; that’s batch painting, but small, manageable batch painting. Painting things white, however is a pain in the ass, so 11 Troopers is going to be the biggest batch and pain in the ass. To look like shiny white Stormtrooper armour takes some doing.

This is not my collection, but it's what I'm aiming for...

This is not my collection, but it’s what I’m aiming for…

The rest of the miniatures should be quick and relatively easy. Probe Droids, Imperial Officers, Imperial Guards and Darth Vader are all pretty easy paintjobs, mostly being one colour and highlights with only a few fiddly bits. The AT-ST, Trandoshans and Nexu will be a little more fun to paint.

I started, before I got onto the bad guys, with the heroes. The game provides you with the colour scheme to match the miniature in the card art. The card art very closely ties in to the miniature design in most cases. Mak appears in 3d much as he does in 2d, while most of the others have art that ties in with the miniature very closely, with a few objects out of place – Diala’s headband, Gideon’s Viewer. Only Gaarkhan looks like a different Wookiee, there’s not much to tie to two together. His weird armour isn’t the same, the facial scar is missing, his braids aren’t quite right.

Heroes, just waiting for proper varnish.

Heroes, just waiting for proper varnish.

Anyway, I’m mostly pleased with how these turned out. Only Diala’s lightsaber light effect not quite having worked out how I’d like it to have worked out. The only other problems are problems with the miniature itself, the small scale and plastic material making it tough to clean up some areas properly.

10/10 communication between artist and sculptor.

10/10 communication between artist and sculptor.

Part of this process of gearing up to paint again has been rescuing what paints I have and also buying new paints to replace losses. And boy howdy, it’s a whole new world out there for painters.

They haven’t invented anything new, but Games Workshop has made their paints quite a bit better and added a lot of technical paints which lead to some fascinating possibilities. If you were super serious about paints you knew about other ranges who put out these technical paints, but it does seem that Citadel releasing them puts them a lot more mainstream; i.e. available in games stores more commonly and supported by GW tutorials.

The GW paint range is larger than previously and there’s all sorts of history with GW contracting to a UK paint manufacturer and then going to a French manufacturer for a long time (thereby using a different pigment mix and everybody’s Titillating Pink and Red Gore changing slightly overnight) before returning to the UK company. This last change meant a redo of their colour naming scheme so that the same problem didn’t occur (and certainly not just so everyone bought new paints, you old cynic, you).

They started releasing Foundation paints and their 2nd (3rd generation inks) a while ago, but they’ve gone a bit further with their current range.

  • Base paints: High pigment paints designed for the first layer on the miniature. Designed to help the Layer paint come through brightly/solidly. These are easier to use than the Foundation paints, as the mix is better and doesn’t immediately separate, stay separated. You can’t slap this stuff all over a Miniature, because it is still thick, but it is more manageable than before and takes water easily to thin it. GW has started to make undercoat sprays in a range of common Base colours. I found Army Painter’s coloured undercoat really useful when I was trying to crank out an entire 40k army, so that’s a solid idea for GW.
  • Layer: Your basic paint, as paint always has been. There are twice as many Layers as there are Bases. The consistency of these seems fine, you could use these straight from the pot, but if you were doing flat areas, a little watering would probably help.
  • Shades: The magical liquid that turns your sloppy unevenly painted miniature into something coherent and beautiful. After putting the blocks of colour on with the Layer and/or Layer & Base, this stuff is what changes your colouring book/paint by numbers miniature into something with depth and character. Nuln Oil (Black ink) and Agrax Earthshade (Dark Brown) alone are capable of rescuing a lot of mediocre paint jobs. As well as the shades, which are designed to sink into recesses (a drop of dish soap will make the Shade VERY keen to get into the recesses), they also make four Glazes, which have a tweaked formula to allow them to dry more evenly across a surface.
  • Dry: These are thicker paints that are designed for drybrushing. I’m not sure what makes them better for drybrushing that regular paint, but I’d imagine it has something to do with the pigments not clumping when they are dragged along edges. They also make a smaller selection of Edge paints, which are bright pastel-ish versions of their more common colours, so that you can put nice clean edges on things.
  • Technical: The most interesting paints, I think are the new Technical, Texture and Tint paints. The range now includes Gem paints, with paints thick, bright translucent paints, ideal for painting glass and gemstones. There are effect paints, like the Nihilakh Oxide, which adds pale blue-green verdigris effect for bronzes and paints for bases, like mud, stone or the snow effect stuff I bought but have not yet used. And (finally) Blood For The Blood God, a goopy bright red that mimics fresh blood. Since Descent uses Red to denote Master Minions, as opposed to the white Minions, I foresee Blood For The Blood God getting a fair amount of use.

There’s also the component parts of the paint for sale. Lahmian Medium is the colourless… plasma, if you will, while the Tints are the platelets – nothing but pigments. This means you could add Lahmian Medium to a paint to make it more translucent, rather than watered down. And you could add , say a red tint to one of the silver paints to make a metallic red for Khornate armour or some groovy looking Necrons.

All of which is quite a far cry from the limited old range. But nothing has taken me quite by surprise as much as Duncan.

Duncan never gets cold, because he always puts on two thin coats.

Duncan never gets cold, because he always puts on two thin coats. Also, Duncan will make you a better painter, for free.

Games Workshop? Giving away painting tutorials? For free? Swoon.

There used to be (great!) painting tutorials on the GW website, before they revamped that and put all their painting guides into books in their neverending quest to monetize anything you might like. But, like a stormwind that will ring the freedom bell, (if The Scorpions are to believed, which let’s face it, based on that lyric they shouldn’t be), the wind of change has swept a new paywall-Glasnost over at GW. They now have a community section on their website which features… well, features. Some of which are painting tutorials, like this excellent tutorial on how to paint this guy:

Well, pretty close.

Well, pretty close.

The best tutorials are the short videos hosted by Duncan. Steady-handed, unflappable Duncan can guide you through painting a particular miniature (usually focusing on stuff that is just coming out) although there are good general lessons in every video; figure out your order of operations based on what you are going to be doing, shake your paint, thin your paint, two thin coats is better than one thick coat, shades solve just about everything, you don’t need to use the tiny brush for everything… the technique lessons are worth it.

But maybe my favourite videos are the short single tip demonstrations he gives. These are just answering things like “How do I paint ice?”, “How do I paint hair?” “How do I paint lightning effects?” “Glow Effects?” “Flayed/diseased/dead flesh?”. Fortunately the website compiles them into weekly spurts of painting wisdom, or you could have them delivered on a more regular basis through their Facebook page:

You can, like I have, go through their entire Video tab on the facebook page and go back to it, as a reference. You can also get started painting again, for not a ridiculous amount of money and not a dreadful sink of time. You can paint for fun, because you feel like it and not just because you feel like you have to. You can, because I can; and I’m a right lazy bugger.


One Comment on “Not your grandfather’s Red Gore.

  1. Oh, hey, the Medium stuff I mentioned is a good thing to buy if you are trying to rescue paints that have sat around for a few years… because as long as there’s still a bit of goopiness to them, you can thin them back down to usefulness.