Monday, 16 March 2015

061. A look back at young Muppets evolution of style...

James (otherwise known as the Hobbyist - who really needs to get back on with this blogging lark), one of the likely lads in our gaming group posted up a corker of an image on our group page the other day showing off his first mini he ever painted (a GW intro lesson Space Marine in Ultramarine colours) next to one of his new Imperial Fists he has been working on.  He challenged us all to dig around and see if we could find our firsts.  We had a good laugh reminiscing and smack talking our young selves efforts.

One thing that stood out was how Ray (Col. Ackland) and myself had come into the hobby as kids, whereas James found it later in life.  The standards on display on our firsts demonstrated that, with mine and Rays (Rays in particular - god awful mini prep and lovely thick paint application) being demonstrative of younger, over eager self taught painters, whereas James' benefited from a more mature approach, guided in part by the able assistance of a GW Red Shirt.  James for example kept all his colours within the lines, picked out fine details like eye lenses and the like, like a pro, and had a general tidy appearance.

Looking back at mine makes me glad I've kept them, as its demonstrated just how far I'd come over time, in both planning and execution.  My very first minis were the five Marines that came in the old 2nd Ed Warhammer 40K starter paint set.  Those minis (unfortunately for the purposes of this post) were stripped about 6 months back after Garfy posted about his efforts to paint up in classic scheme the old Second Edition starter box set (I highly recommend everyone go have a look HERE, and look back at his WIP posts - such a brilliant, nostalgia driven collection of posts).

So instead I dug out some of my Original Terminator minis and the last version of Marneus Calgar which had been painted around the same time and to 12 year old Muppets high and lofty standards.
Classic Ultramarines on plain green bases
What eye candy I put on for you fellow bloggers!  These guys benefited from a hand brushed Skull White undercoat, followed by varying thicknesses (apparently young Muppet wasn't aware of the benefits water brought to painting miniatures) of classic Ultramarine Blue, some Blood Red and Bolt Gun Metal.  Chestnut ink was all the rage back then, so Calgars cloak received three or four washes off it to shade it.  I'd learnt by the time I got to Calgar to reapply a white base coat over any spilt over blue, whenever I wanted to paint yellow as this made it much more vibrant, and much less blue-yellow.

The highlight of that era of painting really was discovering the benefits of using white as a base to make reds and yellows pop, as well as the inadvertent wet blending I achieved on Calgars sword sheath which transitioned the flame from red, through orange (mixing yellow and red as I didn't have any actual orange paint) and ending with yellow.

Nothing was shaded, nothing was washed.  Everything was flat colours, generally one coat only.  Highlighting didn't exist in my repertoire.  The most arty I got was adding 'blood effect' using splotched on green paint on my swords.  Mini prep consisted of using a blunt pair of school scissors to cut parts from a sprue, and dig into the plastic for realistic battle damage.  The sprue points on the bases tell you how fastidious I was with my prep.
Silent Guard (DIY Chapter) Land Speeder with sponge weathering - my basing has improved with new tools in the arsenal - static grass, basing grit, drybrushing!
Towards the end of high school I stopped collecting/painting and didn't come back into it until I was back at uni and had moved in with the missus. At that point a lot of my Marines went into a vat of brake fluid to strip them and then got a cursory brush over with an old toothbrush before being repainted, this time with genuine GW rattle can Chaos Black spray paint as a primer.  Those Marines of that era belonged to my DIY Chapter, the Silent Guard.

My early efforts were much like my original Ultras, but grey, and with the benefit of black ink lining which was my go too 'pop' tool.  Around this time I started seriously attending my local (now defunct) GW store and from that, I started painting more and more, and learning new ways to paint from the store lads.  I started applying base coats, layers, targeted washes, and basic highlights, as well as messed around with different methods of applying battle damage (black splotches with metal/steel inner splotches, dark base coat colour splotches with metallic inner splotches, sponge chipping etc).

Again unfortunately, most of that army ended up in a Simple Green bath when I got serious about miniatures again in the last three years (after another brief slow down/hiatus), so I only have a few vehicles left to show off what they looked like.  The Land Speeder shown was one of the re-purposed Ultramarine vehicles which instead of being stripped, just had new primer applied resulting in some thicker/rougher sections of paint.  As a mini though, it still stands up as one of my better paint jobs and one I'd stand by now.
My current generation Ultras
My current generation Marines are a mix of old, stripped for the second or third time (I had a small dalliance with a Badab War Minotaurs army at one point), and new models.  I went for a darker 'cobalt' blue as my reading of HH books always paints a picture of dark blue armour, rather than the brighter blue of GW styled armour.  These guys benefit from every trick in my current arsenal.  Proper mini prep, airbrushable primer, airbrushed base coats and primary highlighting, washes, glazes, edge highlighting (something I am woeful at and need to really work on - placement being one of the biggest things to figure out), proper basing materials, proper planning about what I want the army to look like etc.

Looking back, I've gone full circle, back to my roots in collecting an Ultramarines force, though the transition in capability and effect is obvious in my minds eye.  I don't regret my early stuff, as I did gain immeasurable pleasure as a younger hobbyist collecting, building, painting and playing with my miniatures of the time.  I genuine had a fully painted army that I would throw down against my mates armies every weekend throughout my first years of high school.  It was a real blast back then.

I'm only now closing in on a fully painted force again, this time my Orks.  Its only taken 17 years in between.  My Marines languish in a state of mixed colours, some only base plastic/resin, others in primer.  Only the four lads pictured are actually painted, and I have plans to revisit them at some point once I finally nut out a quicker way to paint Marines, and what I am actually doing with highlights.

I hope you've all enjoyed this break from my endless WIP posts about Orks.  If you've still got them, dig out your first mini, reminisce of a sweeter, more innocent time, and ponder how far you've all come on your own hobby journeys.

Cheers all,



  1. "Nothing was shaded, nothing was washed. Everything was flat colours, generally one coat only. Highlighting didn't exist in my repertoire. The most arty I got was adding 'blood effect' using splotched on green paint on my swords. Mini prep consisted of using a blunt pair of school scissors to cut parts from a sprue, and dig into the plastic for realistic battle damage. The sprue points on the bases tell you how fastidious I was with my prep."

    Er, yep. This is why I outsource. Interesting insight into your armies/painting.

    1. Ha - outsourcing - I tried that once and it was costly. I don't know how you do so much of it.

      Cheers for stopping in Z, it's always a pleasure.

  2. Great post sir!
    Every time I see those awesome retro Space Marines with Calgar, I just want to bust out some 80's music for some reason, haha.

    1. Ha - you're old enough to remember the 80's aren't you!

    2. Ha. I'm a mid 80s baby and the youngest in our little gaming group. It's fun to razz up the 'old' boys sometimes.

  3. I love the old-school Ultramarines: nothing wrong with that look at all. I particularly like the green bases. Mine were all like that. I used to be terrified of 'basing'.

    1. I wasa paint it green baser for my first 5 years until one of the GW red shirts took me under their wing to show me how simple it could be to liven then up a bit.

  4. I still put green edges on my 40K bases to pay homage to the old days.

    The Speeder is really bad ass looking.

    1. That's a good mood to the era without going overboard with it.