Ultramarine Veteran Sergeant, Golden Demon 2023

Allow me to present the Ultramarine Veteran Sergeant, my entry to the ‘Warhammer 40,000 Single Miniature’ category at this year’s Golden Demon. So now you know why I haven’t posted many new miniatures since the end of February!

The Road To Golden Demon

I originally started on a different model for the single miniature catergory, but after a few rounds of testing I couldn’t quite get the LED effects to look how I wanted, so I shelved that project and decided to have a re-think. Then, while browsing old rule books for inspiration, I rediscoved the classic art shown below, and was suddenly inspired!

This art was reused a number of times, on everything from colour inserts, book covers, and even on the box art of the short-lived Ultramarines board game. I think it is one of the iconic pieces of Rogue Trader art, so I decided to give it a modern reimaging – with a little added LED magic of course. I did briefly consider planning the whole unit as a ‘Warhammer 40,000 Squad’ category entry, but decided that was a little ambitious in the time available. I decided to concentrate on the veteran sergeant at the front of the unit, as he is definitely the most recognisable part.

Painting & Modelling

Both the sergeant and his fallen comrade are made almost exclusively from the Legion MkVI Tactical Squad kit, with a couple of minor exceptions. The power fist came from my bits box, and I think it’s from an older version of the Space Marine Tactical Squad sprue, and I chose it because it was a closer match to the art. The skull in the fallen marine came from the Citadel Skulls set. The LED helmet eye lenses are achieved using the technique described in my LED Eye Lens Tutorial. I did the same thing for the fire inside the casualty’s skull, only in this case I used an LED from a LED Tea Light to achieve that flickering fire effect. The flames themselves are sculpted from acrylic gel. Both LEDs are connected in parallel and operated by a single switch and coin cell battery. I’ve tested it, and fingers-crossed the battery will last for 48 hours in the Golden Demon cabinets!

My recipes for the Ultramarines blue armour and the silver metallics are below, if anyone is interested. The whole model was undercoated Chaos Black.

  • Ultramarine Armour
  • Macragge Blue basecoat
  • 50:50 Kantor Blue:Abaddon Black shade
  • Altdorf Blue highlight
  • Calgar Blue fine highlight
  • Fenrisian Grey fine highlight on top edges and corners
  • Blue Horror dot highlight
  • Silver Metallics
  • Leadbelcher basecoat
  • Nuln Oil shade in deepest recesses
  • Gryph-Charger Grey shade
  • Ironbreaker specular highlight
  • Runefang Steel edge highlight
  • 60:40 Runefang Steel: White Scar edge highlight on sharp edges and corners

This model included quite a lot of freehand, much of which you can see above. My biggest tip for this type of freehand is to “sketch” the words or shapes with thinned Administratum Grey, and then go back and fill it in more firmly with Corax White. I try to avoid using White Scar, as it’s just to bright. I normally then finish off with a thin glaze of the base colour over the freehand – in this case that’s Macragge Blue. This helps to dull it down a bit and make the insignia look weather-worn and faded. As an aside, while studying the word ‘ULTRA’ on his shoulder, I noticed the font used in the artwork was Times New Roman! It’s good to see some things never change, even in the grim darkness of the far future!

I think it’s also worth discussing the base. Not a lot of the ground is visible in the artwork, so I felt I had essentially free reign. I’ve always interpreted this picture as showing the Ultramarines breaching a wall or fortification, and I’ve tried to echo that feeling with the way the veteran sergeant is clambering over the fortifcations and even his fallen battle brother. There’s no time to commend his soul to the Emperor, the breach is not yet secured!

The ground in the artwork is a red-brown, and I decided to skew red. This was to enchance the “retro” nature of the model, and call back to some of the weird battlefields you saw in White Dwarf in the late 1980s, before everything became uniform green flock grass in the early 90s. Dark red is also quite an 80s colour by itself. This is also why I chose a square plinth for the model, rather than a round one, to further enhance that retro vibe. Now I think about it, I kind of wish I’d put the miniature on a square base!

  • Red Rock Base
  • 50:50 Rhinox Hide:Gal Vorbak Red basecoat
  • Seraphim Sepia shade
  • Gal Vorbak Red drybrush
  • Wazdakka Red drybrush
  • Wild Rider Red drybrush
  • Trollslayer Orange drybrush

That’s it for today, but I should mention that this is the first of two Golden Demon entries that I will be submitting this year, so there will be more from me again soon. 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.

Brother Oram, Flesh Eaters Assault Marine

Explosive hull decompression sounds the same in any language.

Brother Oram, Flesh Eaters Assault Marine

It’s back to the Flesh Eaters project this week with Brother Oram, an explosive-equipped Assault Intercessor. Brother Oram is technically the first member of a new Assault Intercessor squad, but for the moment he will join Squad Levers for games of Kill Team as a grenadier specialist.

Building & Painting

I used the techniques described in my LED Eye Lens tutorial to create the effects of Brother Oram’s helmet. The only significant difference worth noting is that I used a TruOpto 1.8mm Green LED instead of the red LED described in the tutorial.

Oram’s bullet ricochet effects were achieved using the techniques described in my Simple LED Muzzle Flare tutorial, only with the “flares” coming from the armour rather than a gun barrel. The two LEDs on this model are connected in parallel and both powered from the same battery and switch.

In the images below you can see the exposed LED on the left, and then the impact effects after the acrylic gel had been applied, as described in steps 13 – 15 of the tutorial. There is one difference though, and that is the addition of “sparks” made from tiny pieces of fibre optic cable. This was an experiment, and I’m very pleased with how it turned out. As seen in the centre image below, after the first application of the acrylic gel, I used a set of fine tweezers to push five short approximately five millimetre lengths of fibre optic into the gel in what I hoped was a random pattern. The end of the fibres in the gel are touching the outer surface of the yellow LED. The acrylic gel is strong enough to hold the fibres in place as it dries, so long as you are careful not to disturb it. Once the initial layer of gel had dried, I then applied a second layer to further sculpt the shape of the ricochet effect, as seen in the image below on the right. This included sculpting the gel upwards to follow the paths of some of the fibres. This was intended to make the “trajectories” of the “sparks” (i.e. the ends of the fibre) look a little more natural. This required some very fine sculpting – I used a small piece of wire to get in between the fibres, rather than my normal sculpting tools.

As I’ve described previously for other members of this squad, the base model is a Primaris Assault Intercessor that I have modified to wear MkVI armour, in keeping with the War of the False Primarch theme for my Flesh Eaters army. You can read the latest from the War of the False Primarch campaign here. For those that are interested, my painting recipe for the red Flesh Eaters armour can be found in this previous post.

One aspect of this model that I painted differently was the battle damage on the pauldrons and left forearm. I haven’t added much battle damage or weathering to the Flesh Eaters in this project, other than some subtle dust and dirt around the feet. But with this miniature I really wanted to sell the idea of a Marine under fire, so I added some damage to hint at previous impacts. This was applied using the sponge method. The damage is Rhinox Hide, which I then highlighted along the lower edge with Evil Sunz Scarlet and Wild Rider Red to give a sense of depth.

My plan from the start with this model was to have him be a grenadier in Kill Team, so I knew that I needed to give some visible indication of this specialism. If you look closely you may see that he has a number of grenades in his belt. His left hand originally held a melta bomb, but I wasn’t happy with the look. I tried switching it for a belt of grenades, but I wasn’t happy with that either. In the end I settled for the limpet mine as something that looked suitably dramatic and brutal! This came out of my bits box, but I think it was originally from a plastic Ork set. In hindsight I wish I’d filed off the rivets to make it look less Orky, but with the right paint job I still think it is feasibly an Imperial weapon!

That’s it for this week, I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about Brother Oram! 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 LED miniatures!

My Custodian Shadowkeeper on WarhammerTV

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to have one of my models make it onto Warhammer TV Twitch channel again! My Custodian Shadowkeeper featured alongside the work of other hobbyists on this Friday’s ‘Hang Out and Paint’ episode on Warhammer TV (Friday 3rd February episode, at around the 2 minute mark, if anyone would like to see it).

It’s always an honour to have had my work exhibited in this way, and a big thank you to Em, Ben and the rest of the Warhammer Community Team for their kind words about the paint job and the LED effects!

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!