Helios Pho, Custodian Shadowkeeper

Choose the darkness of the cells or the golden light of the Emperor, abomination. I care not which!

Helios Pho

It’s been an slow start to the year, with this Adeptus Custodes model taking up the majority of my hobby time in January. But as elaborate as this model may look, this is actually just a test model for another upcoming project! I’m actually testing multiple technniques on this model; non-metallic metal (NMM) painting, flickering LED fire as a weapon effect, the Shadowkeepers Shield Host colour schemes and scorched wasteland bases.


My design statement for the lighting on this model was “The Golden Light of the Emperor”. Previously I’ve used green for Custodes eyes, but I’ve never been 100% happy with that, and decided that a golden yellow might be more in keeping with their imagery. To create the LED eye lenses, I used the technique described in my LED Eye Lens Tutorial. The only thing I did differenly for this miniature was that I decided to use two 0805 SMD chip LEDs in parallel as an experiment, rather than a single 1.8mm LED. The visual results were practically the same. There are pros and cons to using each type of LED. For example the SMD LEDs are easier to install in the helmet, but more fiddly to wire up than the 1.8mm LEDs, plus you need two of them rather than one. The experiment was definitely worth doing, but it won’t sway me to switch to SMD chips for eyes in future.

Next let’s look at the flickering fire on the blade. I wanted to show a guardian spear that was burning with golden flames of the Emperor’s wrath – the perfect weapon for a Shadowkeeper on the hunt! However, this concept broke two of my LED Design Philosophy “rules”. Rule number one is to “follow the art”, and I don’t actually recall any instances of Custodians with flaming weapons. Rule number four is to “consider the passage of time”, i.e. avoid a sense of motion with your LEDs if the model is not moving! As you can see in the video below, the flame-effect LED flickers to simulate the motion of flames. But despite these rules I had a strong image in my head for how I wanted this miniature to look, and as they say, rules are made to be broken!

The flame LED is a simple 5mm 3V LED stolen from a Tea Light LED candle like this. It is wired into the miniature using the techniques described in my Simple LED Muzzle Flare Tutorial, including the use of acrylic gel to create the flame effects. You can see the path of the wires through the right arm of the miniatures in the images below. All the LEDs in this miniature were connected in parallel to a single CR2032 coin cell battery and switch in the base.


I’ve always been a fan of dark armoured Custodes, like the ones seen in the corner of the iconic image below. I love the way it makes them look secretive and sinister. In my mind they aren’t straight-up “good guys”. Their function is to unsure the safety of the Emperor, and any other considerations are secondary. In a similar vein, I’ve enjoyed the lore of the Shadowkeepers Shield Host since I first read about it when the Adeptus Custodes recieved their own codex a few years ago. The idea of these grim wardens patrolling the dark and forgotten cells deep below the Emperor’s Palace is extremely evocative. So when the time came to revisit the Custodes, the Shadowkeepers were a natural choice for the colour scheme.

This was my first time attempting NMM on something larger than a reflective visor. I’m fairly pleased with the results for a first attempt, and definitely learnt a few lessons along the way. The recipes were taken from the WarhammerTV Citadel Masterclass episode on painting NMM – as an aside, Warhammer+ is well worth the subscription in my opinion – so I don’t think I share the recipes in their entirety like I normally do. But I will share the paints involved so you get the gist.

  • Gold NMM
  • XV-88, Balor Brown, Zamesi Desert and Ushabti Bone highlights
  • Doombull Brown and Abaddon Black shades
  • Silver NMM
  • Administratum Grey and White Scar highlights
  • Dark Reaper and Abaddon Black shades
  • Red Robes & Plume
  • Mephiston Red and Ushabti Bone highlights
  • Mephiston Red, Xereus Purple and Abaddon Black shades
  • Scorched Wasteland Base
  • Dryad Bark basecoat
  • Agrellan Earth technical paint
  • Screaming Skull drybrush
  • Mordheim Turf grass tufts
  • Agrax Earthshade shade on grass tufts
  • Screaming Skull drybrush on grass tufts

This was my first time using a crackle paint for basing effects, and I think I should have applied a slightly thicker layer to get larger cracks. I was aiming to create the image of a scorched and blasted wasteland, with the Custodes striding through in search of the escaped horror that had caused this devestation.

That’s it for this week, as always, thanks very much for reading, and please don’t forget you can also follow my work on social media at TwitterMastodon and Instagram. I’ll see you again soon for some more test models, then some ‘actual’ models, plus of course more Flesh Eater space marines and maybe even some Seraphon!

Red Gobbo & Bounca

A Merry Squigmass to all, and to all a good fight!

Red Gobbo

One final model for 2022, ‘Red Gobbo & Bounca‘. I received this kit as a Christmas present from a good friend this time last year, and it has been sitting on the Shelf of Shame ever since, waiting for the holiday season to roll around again. This model won’t be joining any army projects, it’s simply a fun festive display piece.

Modelling & Painting

This was a record for me in terms of number of LEDs on a single infantry-sized model, seven in all. It was originally eight – there was an additional red light on the end of the fairy light string – but the connection for the eighth LED became damaged during installation. Despite my best efforts I couldn’t seem to fix it so I decided to cut my losses – literally – and snip the failed LED from the end of the string.

I had to work quite quickly on this project in order to get it done, photographed and shared by today. I didn’t want it to sit on the shelf for another year! So that’s why there aren’t many ‘work in progress’ pictures – I couldn’t spare the time to stop and take them. But I did capture this picture of the wiring shown above. It might look complex, but the design is a fairly basic circuit. Every LED is in series with a single resistor, and every LED and resistor pair are connected in parallel with all the other pairs. The entire circuit is driven from a single coin cell battery and switch under the base. Essentially it is my Simple Muzzle Flare tutorial, but with the LED and resistor repeated multiple times in parallel.

If you are trying to reproduce this then a useful tip I found was to paint a dot of colour on each of the resistors to remind me which colour LEDs they were supposed to connect to, since different colour LEDs have different resistor requirements. This was easier than looking on the tiny resistor colour code rings or testing with a multimeter each time. You can see these spots if you look carefully in the image above. This photo was taken just before the wires were coiled up above the resistors and covered in a thin layer of modelling putty to hold them in place.

When it came to positioning the LEDs on the model, I tried to replace the sculpted plastic lights with real LEDs on a one-for-one basis, which I largely achieved. Thankfully I didn’t have to spend a lot of time hiding the wires, as there were already sculpted wires on show as part of the model, so I left the actual wires on show and then painted over them. The LEDs that formed part of the fairly lights were secured with a small blob of glue from a hot glue gun. When dry, the transparent glue also acted as the ‘bulb’ of the light. However I stuck to my normal acrylic gel method when sculpting the fuse on the dynamite.

For the paint scheme, I followed my recent Ork-related paint schemes found in this article. The snow on the base was from a tub of ‘Citadel Snow’ that I’ve had hanging around since about 2009. Once I had hidden the wire under the putty on the base, I painted the putty Fenrisian Grey, which is a cool, light blue-grey. Next I gave it a heavy Corax White drybrush. Finally I applied a thick coat of PVA and the Citadel Snow, which is basically a fine white flock.

So there we have it, a small but intricate model! I’m quite pleased with how this turned out, but if I could go back again with a bit more time I’d probably take more care on the fairy lights to make them neater, and also add some more layers to the highlights on the squig hide. Those are only minor gripes though, and as I said overall I’m pleased with the finished miniature.

So that’s it for this week, I hope you’ve enjoyed this fun festive figure! As always, thanks very much for reading, and please don’t forget you can also follow my work on social media at TwitterMastodon and Instagram. Merry Christmas everyone!

Goff Rocker, Ork Musician

‘Ere we go, ‘ere we go, dakka all the way!

The Goff Rocker

When I first saw the Goff Rocker, I knew I’d have to add it to my collection eventually. The model is just so full of character, I love the call back to the classic Goff Rockers miniatures, and the awesome tie-in Christmas song just sealed the deal!

Modelling & Painting

I didn’t make any serious alterations to the model itself, other than giving his bionik eye the LED treatment. To achieve this I used the same technique as for my Eradicator sergeant’s bionic eye, including the 3V red ultra nano SMD chip LED. The metal stage texture is from a very old Games Workshop battlefield accessories sprue that has been languishing in my spares box for years. Originally it was a large square pallet for stacking ammo crates up, but I cut, filed and sanded it down into a circle.

My first “draft” of the base was a 50mm circular base with LED fire pyrotechnic effects on each side. But I decided it dominated the actual miniature too much, and revised it down to 40mm, which is the base size that the model is supplied with. I also swapped out the fire for two stage footlights, one in purple and one in blue. This change took it closer to the light artwork painted on the base of the box art model, and of course following the existing artwork is one of my key design philosphies when using LEDs in miniatures.

The stage footlights were made from small comms speakers, again taken from a battlefield terrain sprue, drilled out, and with more 3V SMD chip LEDs inserted, one in blue and one in white, as I didn’t have any purple LEDs in this size. To finish off the footlights, I filled them with acrylic gel and once it had dried glazed them with blue and purple glazes respectively.

When it came to painting, I followed the “offical” scheme fairly closely. The majority of the colour choices came from the WarhammerTV Citadel Colour masterclass painting tutorial for this model. The only exceptions were the ork skin and the squig hide. I used my own recipe for these to match other recent ork models in my collection, such as the Kommando Kill Team (the skin and hide receipes are in this linked article for anyone interested).

That’s it for this week, I hope you enjoyed this detour into greenskin territory! If you’d like to see more of my orks, search the ‘ork’ category on this site. Also, don’t forget to stream and download the Goff Rocker song and who knows, maybe we can get it to Christmas number one in the UK! As always, thanks very much for reading, and please don’t forget you can also follow my work on social media at TwitterMastodon and Instagram.

Zevaboa, Skink Priest

Float like a terradon, sting like a well-crafted simile.

Zevaboa, Skink Priest & Warrior-Poet

This week I’m returning to my long-running Seraphon project with Zevaboa, skink priest & warrior-poet, equipped with a star-stone staff and mystical cloak of feathers.

Painting & Modelling

This is one of those projects that seemed like a good idea at the time! I spotted this model on the shelves in Warhammer World when I was up there for Golden Demon, and bought it on a whim since it’s ‘Direct Only’ and not normally available in stores. Plus I thought it might be a fun model to enter into the Shattered Brush painting contest. Of course it’s no secret that Finecast can be tricky to work with, but I feel like I got there in the end.

The LED staff follows the basic principles of my Simple LED Muzzle Flare Tutorial, with a few minor difference. The LED used is an ‘Ultra Nano’ 3V blue LED from Small Scale Lights, connected in series with its supplied 10Ω resistor. The circuit is powered by a single 3V CR2032 coin cell battery and switch hidden in the base. As you can see from the ‘work in progress’ pictures above, the LED emerges from the neck of the staff, while the wires run through a 1mm hole that I carefully drilled through the shaft of the staff. The wires then pass down through the torso, right leg, and then into the base.

I carefully drilled and cut the original Finecast ‘star-stone’ out of the head of the staff before inserting the LED. Once the tip of the staff had been undercoated and painted I began replacing the ‘star-stone’ with my own version made from acrylic gel. This gel can take a few hours to dry, so I had to build up the spherical shape in layers over a number of days. When the final application of gel had dried, I applied a shade of Drakenhof Nightshade and then a glaze of (the now discontinued) Guilliman Blue. If you’re interested in a more detailed explanation of working with the gel, then I have a further explanation of how you can achieve similar effects in my Simple LED Muzzle Flare Tutorial.

For the paint scheme, I used my standard Seraphon recipe found in my post about the Terradon Alpha, but with a few more layers of fine highlights, since this is a hero model and I’m entering it into a contest. The only part that gave me pause was the lining of the cloak. On the stock model the lining is red, but I didn’t want to copy that as it would be too similar to the skink’s skin. I did briefly consider a ‘flayed human flesh’ effect, but in the end settled on ‘terradon skin’. This was partially so I didn’t have to extend the purposely limited palette for my Seraphon project, and also because it fit thematically with the flight-granting abilites of the cloak of feathers.

That’s it for this week, I hope you enjoyed revisting my slow-burn Seraphon project. If you’re a fan of the Seraphon then you may like to check out the other models in this army project. As always, thanks very much for reading, and please don’t forget you can also follow my work on social media at Twitter, Mastodon and Instagram.

Demios Predator, 15mm scale

Death has arrived!

Predator tank commander motto

It’s a quick diversion back into slightly unusual territory this week with a 15mm scale Demios Predator! This cool little model was printed as a gift by a good friend who owns a 3D resin printer. He also included some 15mm MkVI Space Marines and several other vehicles, including a 15mm Land Raider that I shared a few weeks ago.

Models at 15mm scale sit somewhere in between the 6mm scale of Epic miniatures and the 28mm scale of Warhammer 40,000. They’re small enough that they don’t take super long to paint, but large enough to tackle some interesting details. I’m using this cool gift as an opportunity to paint-up a small 15mm scale Horus Heresy Imperial Fists army. Below you can see comparison shots of the Predator next to 15mm infantry, and my trusty 28mm Guardsman ‘Sergeant Scale’.

This particular model was very high-up the painting priority order. For me, the Deimos Predator Destructor is one of the most iconic Space Marine tanks. In fact I think the very original 1980s plastic Predator was the first vehicle I ever encountered on the 40K tabletop!

Painting & Modelling

The 15mm Horus Heresy project is quite light on LEDs – if you’ll excuse the pun – compared to most of my other armies. But many of the vehicles are just too tempting not to wire up! As you can see from the above left image, the Predator autocannon barrel came out of the printer slightly ‘droopy’, so I decided to replace it with plastic rod. This also made it easier to drill the holes for the muzzle flare wires.

The Predator autocannon has a 3V Yellow 0805 SMD Chip LED (available from Small Scale Lights) at the muzzle. The LED is in series with its supplied 100Ω resistor. The circuit is supplied by a single 3V CR2032 coin cell battery and switch in the 50mm base. The muzzle flare effect around the LED is made from acrylic gel. I have a full, detailed explanation for how this whole process is done in my Simple LED Muzzle Flare Tutorial.

If you’re interested in my yellow paint receipe, you can find it in my previous post on the 15mm scale Land Raider.

As mentioned in my previous post on 15mm Horus Heresy, my plan is to use these models to play a few games with my regular gaming buddy Apologist who is building up an Emperor’s Children force. If you’d like to see how that’s going, then search his blog for 15mm Horus Heresy.

That’s it for this week, I hope you’re all finding this slightly unusual project interesting! I’m sure there will be some more posts about 15mm Horus Heresy again in the future. As ever, thanks for reading, and please don’t forget you can also follow my work on Twitter and Instagram.