Lamenter Marksman

The Tyrant sends his regards! *BLAM-BLAM-BLAM*

Brother Quartus, Lamenter Marksman

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’.

Influence

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.

Effects

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Once the splash gel had dried, I used a tiny dab of super glue to attach the shell casing.
  1. Next I applied another layer of the splash gel around the shell casing to continue the smoke effect.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!

LED Miniature Design Philosophy

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.

Crimson Fists Eradicator & Melta Weapon Tutorial

If the Emperor had meant us to show mercy, he wouldn’t have granted us the Total Obliteration protocols.

Brother Eliseo, Eradicator

This week I decided to return to the Crimson Fists for a bit. I haven’t added anything to this army since “finishing” them for Armies on Parade. But the still mostly unpainted Indomitus set is nagging at me from my ‘Shelf of Shame’, the three Eradicators in particular. They are one of those units that I had a very clear vision for from the moment I saw the models. I don’t have any other melta weapons in my army, so this would be the perfect opportunity to try out some LED effects on this type of weapon.

LED Melta Weapon Tutorial

So how do we make LED melta weapons? I’m not going to do a full tutorial, as most of the process is very similar to my existing LED Muzzle Flare tutorial. The steps below essentially replace steps 11 – 13 in that tutorial. For this project I used a 3V Blue Ultra Nano SMD Chip LEDs available from Small Scale Lights, rather than the 0805 yellow chip LED mentioned in step 12 of the LED Muzzle Flare tutorial. Also I used a 175Ω resistor in series with the TruOpto 1.8mm red helmet LED, rather than the 100Ω resistor mentioned in step 15 of that tutorial. This is due to the different current requirements of the blue ultra nano LED. All paints used are from the Citadel range. As with all my tutorials, I recommend reading all the way through to make sure you have the necessary skills and tools before you get started.

  1. Begin by drilling the melta barrel. I found a 2.5mm drill bit was just right. You may find it easiest to cut off the wide front of the barrel at the point where it reaches the narrow “neck” with a craft knife and then drill it separately. You can then use a sharp craft knife or scalpel to cut the remaining thin layer of plastic in each of the four vents on either side of the barrel.

2. Now you will need to drill a hole through the gun and arm to run the wire for the blue ultra nano LED. I found a 1.5mm drill bit was about the right size for this. For weapon effects I normally run the wires through the right arm, but in this case I found it easier to go up through the top handle and left arm due to its position and how straight it was. Another valid approach would be to go through the front of the chest at the point where the back of the melta rifle is held against the chest eagle. Once you have drilled your hole, run the wire through. This can be connected to the rest of the circuit inside the miniature as detailed in steps 14 – 17 of the LED Muzzle Flare tutorial.

3. Assemble the model, as detailed in steps 19 of the LED Muzzle Flare tutorial. Make sure the blue ultra nano LED is setting as centrally as possible in the barrel so it can be seen evenly through all vents and also the muzzle. Test that the circuit works and that you haven’t damaged any components or connections during assembly by switching it on.

4. Cover all exposed LED areas with blu-tac (or similar) and then apply your spray undercoat of choice. If you are following this tutorial to the letter then the critical areas to cover are the helmet eye lenses, barrel vents and the muzzle. Once the undercoat is completely dry you can remove the blu-tac. I find either using a pair of fine tweezer or fresh blu-tac can assist with this.

5. I’m just going to discuss painting the melta barrel itself. The rest of the model you can paint to your own colour scheme. Firstly, paint the barrel with Leadbelcher, being careful not to clog any of the vents or get any paint on the ultra nano LED.

6. Shade the barrel with Nuln Oil and edge highlight with Stormhost Silver.

7. Apply a wash of Drakenhof Nightshade starting at the muzzle and going about halfway back along the barrel. This is the start of a ‘scorched metal’ effect that will give the impression the barrel has discoloured due to the extreme heat of the melta weapon. If you don’t want to paint this effect, ignore this and skip straight to step 10 instead.

8. Apply a narrow ring of Druchii Violet where the blue shade stops.

9. The final part of the ‘scorched metal’ effect is to apply a ring of Seraphim Sepia below the violet shade.

10. Now it’s time to build-up the melta ‘flame’ effect. It’s not really a ‘flame’ in the same sense of a flamethrower burning internal fuel. Rather, I wanted to give the impression of the air being ionised by the incredible energies in the vicinity the barrel. Picture the blue flame on a bunsen burner, but taken to extremes. To make the ‘flame’ I applied the ever-useful Water Splash Effect Gel, available from Green Stuff World. There is a small amount emerging from the side vents, but the majority is coming out of the muzzle. This gel is milky-white when applied, but don’t be alarmed as it dries clear. You can’t sculpt the whole flame immediately, it needs to be applied in layers. The product instructions recommend 24-hours between application of layers, but in these small amounts I found that around six hours was plenty. Once it’s clear and hard, you’re good to go.

11. Continue to build-up successive layers to enlarge the muzzle ‘flame’ until you are happy with it.

12. Once the gel is completely dry, you can apply some thin paints to give it a bit of colour when the LED is off. Apply a thin shade of Drakenhof Nightshade and once that has dried apply a light glaze Guilliman Blue (or another watered-down mid-blue).

And there we have it, the finished effect! I hope you found this tutorial useful, or at least interesting. That’s all for today, see you again soon!

Ancient Santec, Dreadnought of the Fourth Company

This galaxy has a million ways to kill you. I simply never found one that suited me.

Ancient Santec, Dreadnought

Most of my recent posts have started with a lament about how many years a given unit has taken to make and paint. But although this Redemptor Dreadnought has been sat on my ‘Shelf of Shame’ since 2017, once I actually picked it up and started work the assembly and painting only took about three weeks. Behold Ancient Santec, Redemptor Dreadnought of the Fourth Company of the Crimson Fists!

The banner was a little addition to echo the dreadnoughts of the past and give a bit of a retro vibe. I was particularly picturing the metal dreadnoughts with large banners that were very common in second edition Warhammer 40K. The fist on the banner is one of the Forge World Imperial Fist brass insignia set (sadly now OOP I believe), and the banner itself is the company banner from the Company Command box.

‘Onslaught’ Assault Cannon

Of course it wouldn’t be a new addition to my Crimson Fists if there wasn’t some sort of electronics involved. There are the LED lights on the chassis and also the LED muzzle flare which are obvious from the photos. But in addition to these there is also the motorised assault cannon…

So how was this done? I’m afraid the looming Armies on Parade deadline has prevented me from finding the time to write a full tutorial, but perhaps this is something I’ll come back to later. However I have included a quick summary of parts below, as well as a photo so you can see how it all went together.

  • The motor is a 3V DC micro miniature motor (6mm x 10mm) that I picked-up from eBay a while ago. These are the sort of motors used in model helicopters. The supplier I got it from has gone, but a quick search of eBay or Amazon will turn up many similar items.
  • The motor is connected to a 3V battery in the base via a circuit that has two switches in parallel. One switch is a standard sub-miniature toggle switch that I use in most of my projects. This is for turning the assault cannon on for extended periods when it’s on display. The other switch is a miniature ‘push to make’ switch which I added to the top of the base that I could use to activate the assault cannon for a quick burst during gameplay. Activating either switch independently will activate the assault cannon. I had originally hoped to find a latching push switch that would have fulfilled both roles, but I couldn’t find one that was as small as I wanted.
  • A length of 2mm square hollow tube was used to make the lower ‘support’ below the barrels and hide the muzzle flare LED wires. Again, this was sourced from eBay.
  • The muzzle flare was illuminated by two 0805 3V yellow chip LEDs. These are on a separate circuit to the motor.
  • The resin muzzle flare was made using the casting techniques described in my tutorial.

As you can see in the picture below, the ‘push to make’ switch on the top of the base is hidden under an Ork skull. It seemed fitting somehow – if you want the assault cannon to fire, press down on the dead greenskin!

So that is 60 Power of Crimson Fists complete! I’m really pleased with Ancient Santec – not just with the electronic effects, but also the paintjob, which I think is one of my neatest to date. Now it’s onwards to Armies on Parade 2020, and I feel like I’m on the home straight! All that remains is to finish the display board…

Inquisitor Syman Kant, Ordo Digna

InquisitorKant01

The only thing more horrifying than the Inquisition succeeding in our goals is our enemies succeeding in theirs.

– Inquisitor Kant, Ordo Digna

This is Inquisitor Syman Kant, founder of the Ordo Digna. The Ordo Digna is a (very) minor Ordo of the Inquisition charged with overseeing the quality and purity of religious art in the Imperium. You can read more about Inquisitor Kant in my short story A Matter of Time on the Cold Open Stories website. As you can see I’ve incorporated my usual LED flourishes (more on this below) in the form of a wrist-mounted data slate and a bionic eye for Zelial, Syman’s servo skull.

Influences

I imagine that all Warhammer 40K players have an archetypal Inquisitor that they picture when someone mentions these sinister agents of the Imperium. They might picture Eisenhorn, or perhaps Draco from the Inquisition Wars trilogy, or even the venerable Inquisitor Obiwan Sherlock Clousseau. But for me, it was this anonymous black-clad Inquisitor from the Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader rulebook that really captured my imagination when I first got into the game.

RTInquisitor

As you can see, Syman Kant is a reasonably close copy of this Inquisitor, even down to the heraldry. This is a model that I’ve wanted to recreate for years, and now I’ve finally found the time!

LEDs

As regular readers will know, I normally like to build my LED circuits from scratch. But in this case I used a Warhammer 32/40mm Base Lighting Kit. This is a pre-built circuit from Small Scale Lights that they kindly sent to me for evaluation. The kit can be seen in the photo below. It comes with two nano LEDs in a colour of your choosing – the LEDs on the one I received were both red. Both LEDs must be the same colour, presumably this is to keep the circuit simple. It runs from a single CR1220 button cell, which is not included. According to the Small Scale Lights website this battery will power the LEDs for 40 hours. The circuit is switched on and off by a magnetic reed switch, which is a slightly more compact solution than the slide PCB switches I often use. A single 3mm magnet is included to operate the reed switch.

InqWIP00

As the name of the product suggests, it will fit into a 32mm base. That’s what I used for this model. I just followed my normal technique (as seen in my LED Eye Lenses tutorial) of cutting out the top of the 32mm base…

InqWIP01

…and inserting the circuit in the gap.

InqWIP02

Next I used some modelling putty around the rim of the circuit to secure it in place while I made the rest of the model. At this point it’s worth checking two things:

1. That the base sits flush to the table with the circuit in place, the battery inserted and the activating magnet attached to the reed switch (although I understand that the magnetic switch is latching in the latest version of this product and the magnet does not need to remain in place). If you don’t check this your finished model may be wonky!

2. That you have offset the circuit to the side of the base enough so that you can still access the battery when the time comes to change it. This should be easy enough in a 40mm base, but in a 32mm base it will require careful positioning.

Once the circuit was in place I then drilled 2mm holes in the legs, torso and arm of my model to run the nano LED cables through.

InqWIP03

One LED went into the servo skull (the wire is disguised as one of the skulls trailing leads), and the other went into a resin arm data slate that I custom cast. Once I’d finished assembling the model I coiled up slack from the wires beneath the model’s feet, covered the circuit with modelling putty and then basing text medium. Then it was ready for undercoating – but don’t forget to cover the LEDs with blu-tack when spraying!

InqWIP04

Here’s a 360 degree video of the finished miniature. I’m very pleased with the effect. The Small Scale Lights circuit has held up very well so far and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to get into LED model kits but doesn’t fancy doing any soldering!

InquisitorKant02

That’s all for this week, I hope you found that interesting, thanks for reading!