“Let others bring the Emperor’s light. We bring His heat.”
Sergeant Paulo, Eradicator squad
This week I’ve finished the Eradicator squad from the Indomitus box set. I always find it immensely satisfying when a squad comes together and is ready for deployment on the table top – just in time for the lessening of pandemic lockdown restrictions here in the UK too!
So with a little hindsight, would I have done anything different with this unit? Perhaps I’d tone down the brightness of the bionic eye in some way. Other than that I was fairly pleased with the results. As I think I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve had a clear idea in my head of what I wanted to do with this squad from the start, and I’ve managed to live up to the vision in this case.
That’s all for this week, but I’ll be back again soon. Don’t forget if you want to try making LED miniatures for yourself then my tutorials are all here and if you need tools and supplies you can buy them here.
It has been a long vigil my brothers. But as we endure, so endures the Imperium.
Stolus, Ultramarines Veteran
Something a little left field this week: an Ultramarines Veteran, based on the limited edition ‘Imperial Space Marine 2016’ model and painted in the Rogue Trader era Ultramarines colour scheme. A friend recently gave me this model brand-new-in-box as a gift. My first instinct was to paint it up as a Crimson Fist, especially as that is how the box art miniature is painted. However I realised that it might look a bit strange alongside my Primaris Crimson Fists due to the size difference, so I started to wonder if I might go down a different route…
If you’re on “hobby” Twitter or Instagram then you may have seen the #MarchForMacragge hashtag floating around. If you’re not sure what that is, basically it’s just a bit of fun to encourage people to paint Ultramarines or Ultramarine-adjacent miniatures during the month of March and post them online with the hashtag. This set me to thinking about the Ultramarines army that got me into the hobby.
Back in the early 1990s I was introduced to Rogue Trader – as the first edition of Warhammer 40K was known – by the son of one of my dad’s friends. He had a large army of classic plastic ‘RTB01’ and metal space marines all painted up as Ultramarines. He would split this army in two and we would play games of Ultramarines vs Ultramarines so that I could learn the rules. Thinking about Rogue Trader era Ultramarines gave me a warm nostalgic feeling, and suddenly I knew exactly what I was going to do with my Imperial Space Marine!
Building & Painting
The LED effects for this model used my standard LED Eye Lens Tutorial. The specific LED used was a TruOpto 1.8mm Green LED, but otherwise it followed the LED Eye Lens Tutorial to the letter. I went for a green LED mainly to differentiate this Ultramarine from my Crimson Fists, and also because I felt the green went very nicely with their particular shade of blue.
The paint recipe I used on the armour is fairly simple and uses Citadel paints: Macragge Blue base, Nuln Oil shade, Calgar Blue highlight and Fenrisian Grey final highlight. Readers with long memories may recognise some of the Rogue Trader era iconography; the chequered helmet stripe indicates a veteran and the small icon to the bottom right of the Ultramarine symbol indicates a ‘beamer’ operator. This seemed like the closest match between the ‘disintegration gun’ the Imperial Marine is equipped with and the established weapon icons from that era.
That’s it for this week. I hope you’ve all enjoyed this slight tangent from the normal marines that I paint and a trip down memory lane! I’ll be back again soon with more Crimson Fists, so stay tuned, and please don’t forget you can find me doing hobby stuff on Twitter here and Instagram here.
Here is Brother Quartus, the latest addition to my long-running Lamenter Badab War kill team project. If you’d like to look back on this project then you can search for posts tagged with either ‘Lamenters’ or ‘Badab War’.
When designing this Marine, my question to myself was “how can I make one of the team’s “filler” tactical marines with bolter interesting?”. In the end I hit upon the idea of loosely copying this classic Mark Gibbons art. I haven’t copied it exactly – for one the marine in the art is a Blood Angel – but I hope I’ve captured the feel, both of the art and of that era of Games Workshop history. Of course Brother Quartus has grown on me over the building and painting process so now I think I might promote him to sniper specialist in the kill team.
“Downgrading” Mk X armour to Mk VII
All my Lamenters are ‘true scale’, that is to say they have Primaris stature but wear period-appropriate armour marks. There was no Mk X used during the Badab War (as far as we know), so I wanted to “downgrade” the base Primaris Intercessor model to Mk VII power armour. The most important thing was to remove the elements of the armour that are distinctly Primaris features. For me this is the ankle ‘stabilisers’, the rim above the knee-pad, the armoured stomach, the forearm bracers, the wide backpack and of course the helmet. An argument could be made that the thigh-plates don’t belong on a Mk VII either, but I think I can make my peace with that.
To remove the unwanted leg and stomach detail I simply hacked off anything that I didn’t want with a craft knife and then smoothed over any gaps with modelling putty, sculpting detail in where necessary. The arms are from Primaris Reivers, which are in scale for a marine of Primaris stature but less armoured than the standard Mk X arms. The helmet and the backpack were straight component swaps for their Mk VII equivalents.
For the LED effects I simply just followed the steps in my own LED Muzzle Flare tutorial to the letter, using the exact LEDs and components listed there. My Lamenters paint recipe can be found in this post if anyone is interested in how the yellow is achieved. As for the mid-ejection bolt shell casing, I think that’s worth talking through as this is a new technique that I was playing around with for this model.
I started with a 1mm diameter plastic rod, painted the end in Retributor Armour, and then cut off a 2mm length to form the ejected bolt shell casing.
Next I built up the “smoke” around the ejection port using Water Splash Effect Gel, available from Green Stuff World. This gel is white and opaque when applied (as seen in the picture) but dries transparent.
Once the splash gel had dried, I used a tiny dab of super glue to attach the shell casing.
Next I applied another layer of the splash gel around the shell casing to continue the smoke effect.
Once the splash gel was dry I gave it a thin watered-down glaze of Ulthuan Grey. This helps it to retain some transparency while also appearing smoke coloured.
Finally I applied a coat of Lahmian Medium to dull down the shine of the splash gel.
That’s it for this week. I’ll end with a group shot of the kill team so far (minus the Mk VI, who has returned to the chapter forge for modifications). That’s four down, three to go! My aim is to have the team finished by the time face-to-face gaming is allowed again in the UK, so please visit again soon to see how I’m getting on with that!
No enemy shall escape either my sight or my wrath!
Paulo, Eradicator Sergeant
This week I’ve been working on another Indomitus Eradicator. I didn’t use the LED melta weapon effect technique on this one as I felt his weapon wasn’t really in a firing pose. Instead I decided to focus on his bionic eye – if you’ll excuse the pun!
This was mostly achieved using the basic techniques described in my LED eye lens tutorial, with one key exception; instead of recasting the head in resin I used the plastic original. I drilled a 1mm hole into the bionic eye of the plastic head, and then a larger hole up through the neck to meet the eye hole in the middle of the head. I then fed the wires of my 3V red ultra nano SMD chip LED in through the eye hole and out of the neck, then gently pulled the LED into the hole. I then ran the wires through the torso and legs – again, as described in my LED eye lens tutorial – to connect to the battery in the base. Then I applied a small blob of Water Splash Effect Gel, available from Green Stuff World to fill in the hole. Finally, once the gel was dry I applied a shade of Citadel Carroburg Crimson and three successive glazes of Citadel Bloodletter to give the eye some colour when the LED is off and also to prevent the LED being too bright. Bloodletter glaze is sadly discontinued, but a watered-down glaze of Citadel Evil Sunz Scarlet would do the same job.
So why do this rather than my normal method of recasting the head? For a start this is far less time consuming than making a new silicon mould for this one head. But also one of the reasons I use casting rather than drilling for helmets is that it allows you to easily retain the non-circular shape of helmet eye lenses. With bionic eyes this is not as important as they tend to be circular and therefore they lend themselves well to drilling.
Here’s Sergeant Paulo with his fellow Eradicator from last week. As you may notice from the image above, the other thing I did this week was to switch out the incorrect ‘battle line’ symbol on Brother Eliseo’s shoulder for the ‘fire support’ symbol. I had a complete brain-fart while applying transfers last week and for some reason thought that Eradicators were a differently armed variant of Heavy Intercessors – which would have made them ‘battle line’ – rather than being their own thing. Ah well, it was fairly easy to make the change. Anyway, that’s all for this week, see you again soon for more LED action!
Today I want to share the answer to a question that nobody has asked me – explaining the design philosophy behind my LED miniatures. Actually that’s not entirely accurate. It’s not a question I’m asked directly, but it often comes up tangentially when people want to know why I made a particular choice when constructing my miniatures. If have written about it in brief here as part of my ‘Designing & Ordering’ tutorial, but I thought it was a topic that was worth delving into a little more. Once I sat down and thought about it, I realised there were six clear principles that govern my approach to LED miniature design.
Before I lay out these rules I’ll add the caveat I’m certainly not saying these are the only rules, or that this is some sort of “correct” or “true” way to use LEDs in miniatures. There isn’t a “correct” way to make these models, and even if there was it’s not up to me to decide what that is. This is simply my own personal approach. Hopefully you’ll find it interesting.
1. Follow the art
My first question is always “does this model need an LED?” That may sound a bit rich coming from me, but I don’t put LEDs in a model unless there’s a cool effect from artwork of other GW media that I want to replicate on the table top. Glowing power armour eye lenses, muzzle flares, power weapons, plasma energy, and psychic powers are all good candidates.
2. Hide how its done
I find the best LED effects are almost like ‘sleight of hand’ magic tricks – people are left wondering how you’ve done it! If you have visible wires and giant batteries concealed in oversized bases, then it’s really obvious how it’s done and is less impressive. But if you can hide the electronics in such a way that at first glance the model still looks like the original miniature, only with awesome glowing eyes, guns, or whatever, then that is what will capture people’s attention!
This is also the reason why I often don’t go all-out in converting the pose and equipment on miniatures. If it’s recognisably still the original miniature that people are familiar with then that gives them a point of reference and makes the added LEDs all the more surprising.
3. Be consistent
Once I start applying LEDs to an army, I like to be consistent. What I mean by this is that if one plasma weapon in the army glows – for example – then all the others must glow as well (see images above). Similarly, if one vehicle has LED headlights, you need to think about LED headlights on the other vehicles as well.
Consistency is also about colour choice. Once I’ve picked a colour for a particular weapon or effect in a project, I apply that colour consistently across the whole army. For example, every plasma weapon glow in my Crimson Fists glowed the same shade of pink (again, see image above).
I also try and avoid mixing LEDs with painted OSL effects on the same model as it breaks the ‘illusion’ for the viewer. If I ever find myself with too many lights on a single model and I don’t want to put LEDs in them all, then I always have the option to “cheat” and simply paint the extra lights as though they’re switched off!
4. Consider the passage of time
If your LEDs are flashing or fading in and out then this shows the passage of time. However if the model itself is stationary then this creates a cognitive dissonance in the viewer – time appears to be passing for some parts of the model but not others. This is particularly exacerbated if the model is in an action pose, mid-charge or leaping from a rock, for example. It can be mitigated if they are in a stationary position, such as a heroic command pose or a stoic firing position. This is why I prefer to have consistently on LEDs in my models to represent a ‘frozen’ moment in time. The rotary assault cannon Dreadnought and the colour-change Harlequin shown above are the obvious exceptions of course! In those cases I broke my normal rule as there were specific effects that I wanted to demonstrate.
I should stress that I’m definitely not saying all flashing LEDs are bad, it’s very much a matter of personal taste. If you like them on your models – and I know many of you do – then crack on!
5. Pay attention to your colour palette
Consider the colour palette of your models and also the LEDs. When selecting LEDs for a particular effect, think about whether they will compliment the rest of the colours you plan to use in your paintjob (although your choice may be limited by the colours of LEDs available). I must admit that colour theory isn’t one of my strong points, but when I’ve needed help determining what colours are complimentary with each other I’ve found this website (thanks to Apologist for the link) to be really useful. This helped me pick the colours for my Seraphon, for example.
If a single miniatures has multiple LEDs of different colours then it’s also worth thinking about how these colours will look together. As a rule of thumb I try to limit a single miniature to two different colours at most (again, the Harlequin excluded of course!). You may find that too many colours are complicated by current limitations from a single battery anyway. It is also worth considering the LED colour palette across the whole army. Too many different colours and your army may start to look like its getting ready for Christmas!
6. Make it convenient to use
Although I’ve listed it sixth, one of my most important rules is that my LED miniatures should still be gaming pieces. They’re not designed to sit on the shelf but to be used on the table top. This is why I’ve taken great pains in the past to make sure things like batteries, etc, fit inside the normal sized bases. This also links back to the second rule.
It’s useful to consider how you will turn the LED on and off before and after each game, and also how you will change the battery mid game if it happens to run out. This is why I have all my batteries accessible under the base rather than inside the models (large vehicles excluded). This isn’t so much a concern if it is a display piece, but you don’t want to keep an opponent waiting while you fiddle around with batteries and switches mid-game! It’s also worth considering the convenience of switch placement, particularly if you need to operate it mid-game. For the rotary assault cannon on the Dreadnought, the push switch to activate the effect was hidden under an ork skull on the base so it could quickly and easily be operated mid-game (see picture above).
That’s it for today. I’ll be back with more new models soon. In the meantime, if this has inspired you to create LED miniatures of your own then my tutorials are here. If you need LEDs, tools and other electronics consumables then you can find some recommended items here.