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.
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.
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!
My #NewYearNewArmy Seraphon project continues with another Leader for the army. This is He-izswol, a Saurus Oldblood wielding a Celestite Maul. I was trying to give the impression of a chunk of glowing celestial rock mounted on a haft and used as a brutal club! I’ve used the same colour scheme and limited palette detailed in my previous post about the Skink Starpriest.
Once again I’ve used the same technique to create the Celestite Maul as I used for the Nighthaunt Candles, although this time I built the splash effect gel up in successive layers to form the rock rather than a flame. The LED used is an ‘Ultra Nano’ 3V blue LED from Small Scale Lights. Once the final layer of the gel was dry I applied a thinned down blue shade and then a blue glaze, just to make it look a bit nicer when the LED is switched off. You can see on and off comparison pictures below.
I “cheated” slightly with the wiring on this one – as the legs are an awkward shape to drill through due to the switchback ankles, I passed the wire up through the dangling skull trophies instead (pictured above right). This was quite easy to do as the skull was only a few millimetres from the ruined temple base, so I just used putty to make the stones very slightly taller and hide the wire.
That’s all for this week. Check back again soon for more LED miniature fun!
Yesterday I was lucky enough to have my models make it onto Warhammer TV for the sixth time! My Armies on Parade 2020 entry ‘No More Last Stands!‘ featured alongside the work of other hobbyists on this Thursday’s ‘Community Hobby Round-Up’ on Warhammer TV (Thursday 21st January episode, around the 21 minute mark, if anyone would like to see it).
I’m very honoured to once again have had my work exhibited in this way, and a big thank you to Nick, Wade and the rest of the Warhammer Community Team for their kind words and high praise!