Off the Top of my Head: Painting a Mars Attacks Martian


Off The Top of My HeadWorking on Citadel miniatures is generally a pleasure.  I’ve always loved model kits.  Like Hans Gruber from Die Hard I appreciate their attention to minute detail in small scale.  That being said the tiny size of some Warhammer models is slightly limiting.  You can’t paint extreme detail, well I’ll rephrase, I can’t paint extreme detail, as well as I’d like.

Needless to say the chance to assemble and paint a larger-scale model has been attractive.  No I can’t play a fun war game with them, but the hobbyist in me can appreciate it.

So when I found this great Mars Attacks Martian trooper model at a local store I grabbed it quickly.

He’s far larger than Warhammer models but I still used all those Citadel painting tricks I learned, base coat, wash/shade, layer, drybrush, effects method.

He was plain white plastic, with an aluminum lamppost. I primed him white before applying the base coat.  I had to rubberband his face to keep it together.  He looks like a Hellraiser Cenobyte…


I left his nifty space suit un-shaded.  It looks bright and cartoony that way.


I loved his victim and it gave me a chance to use lots of effects paints in gruesome detail.


His face and head were a bit hit-or-miss.  I thought I’d ruined it.  I actually used very watered down Emperor’s Children followed by watered down Fenrisian Grey.  Then I dry brushed Fulgrim Pink, Dechala Lilac, and Baharroth Blue in various layers to get the face correct.

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This guy was a lot of fun and gave me a good feel for what painting larger models will be like, especially since big centerpiece models seem to be the wave of the future in 40k!

Next back to my Sector Imperialis, and an even bigger painting piece!

Warhammer Rescues: Taurox the Brass Bull

Off The Top of My Head

Games Workshop has a reputation for occasionally making rules with no models. I’ve actually seen some complaints on this and it’s a trend they seem to be moving away from, however I feel that the spirit of this concept was to allow players and hobbyists to create their own versions of the character or unit in question using existing models as bases or even scratch building pieces.

I have a big Skaven army I got practically new on the sprue and Skaven remain my favorite fantasy battles army, however, I was able to get my hands on a great Beastmen army, in various stages of construction, last year and started to mess around with them a bit too. Though they seem to be one of the least popular choices, their personality appealed to me and this force came with lots of models and options, some of which are hard to find now.

One piece I got was an incomplete pewter Doombull.

It was a bare metal piece with no arms, weapon, or decorations I thought would be fun to convert into one of the Beastmen lords with no model, Taurox the Brass Bull.



I used the rune-inscribed axes from the minotaur kit to make his “Rune Tortured Axes.”


His shoulder guards are actually vambraces from the Cygor/Ghorgon kit I didn’t use. Because his body is metallic I got a chance to play with the Nihilic Oxide technical paint I’ve been wanting to try and gave his armor and ancient, oxidized tone to make it stand out from the copper-gold used on the rest of the model.


I originally had a severed hand as base décor, but decided for someone as massive and vicious as Taurox that would never do… Using a Lord of the Rings Elf horseman archer, I cut his legs off and sculpted some guts out of green stuff. The head comes from a Skaven Stormvermin sprue (it was two heads clutched in a fangleader’s claws, I simply cut one off) and sculpted some hair out of more green stuff. Painting the guts was layers of Biel Tan Green, Carroburg Crimson, and Nurgle’s Rot to give it the slimy, transparent sheen.

Just to use the rest of the technical paints I hadn’t played with I used Agrellan Earth for the base.


I hope GW keeps the rules without models in the army books and codexes for years to come. Creating your own versions are some of the most fun a hobbyist can have. You’ll never see two Tauroxes that look the same!


Check out my previous painting posts for more!

Black Reach


Warboss with Attack Squig

Boss Zagstruk

Stormboy Nob on Flying Base

Bad Moons Nazdreg

Dark Angels Dreadnought

Dark Angels Standard Bearer

Dark Angels Librarian

Warhammer 40k Scenery

40k Rescue: Blood Angels Land Raider

And for more 40k my Kharn illustration posts! Part 1 and Part 2.  And my fond farewell to the World of Battle.

Warhammer Rescues: Blood Angels Land Raider

Off The Top of My Head

Warhammer Rescue Projects

No one would ever think Warhammer, Warhammer 40k, or any miniatures game is cheap. In fact a lot of board/table top games are pretty pricey (take a look at Fantasy Flight, Steve Jackson, or Fireside Games…they’re pretty high for what’s in the box…) but they usually don’t require maintenance or additions or new pieces. It basically comes down to how you want to spend your hobby money. Do you want to spend $500 on a new video game console, plus $60-$70 for new games to support it, or $500 on a playable starter army and $60-$70 on new units? I’ve preferred the latter recently. But it’s not always easy to shell out $69 plus shipping and taxes for a new unit. Especially when, with a little work, you can get a similar or identical unit for far less! You find them on eBay. They usually consist of damaged, incomplete, or poorly painted models. With the copious bits provided by GW with their sets (Deathwing set for example, it makes Deathwing Terminators, Deathwing Knights, or Deathwing Command squad, so you get a lot of extras) you can take a damaged model or one missing parts, add the extras, and make some nice custom pieces. I’ve found all it takes is some patience, a hobby blade, a toothbrush, and some LAs Totally Awesome cleanser and just about any model can be recovered.

Blood Angels Land Raider

This lander raider was sold as a “needs love” project. Boy was that an understatement.  It was originally a chaos land raider and I considered using it as one, however the idea of deep striking one of these things with my lil Blood Angels army was too tempting.

Original Condition:

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It was a situation where you wonder who originally bought a $75 model and then didn’t seem to look at the instructions.  The top hull was glued on top of the side hulls leaving awful gap clearly visible on the top.  Also the side sponsons were glued on upside down.

The entire piece was so heavily glued it took over an hour with a very sharp hobby knife to get it all apart and, yes, some of it was damaged so badly it was impossible to make it look “as good as new.”

It got an overnight bath in LA’s Totally Awesome cleaner (seriously, it’s about $3 for a big bottle, soak overnight, it strips ANY paint off of metal, plastic, resin, without damaging the model.  Just warm water and a toothbrush.) then reglued correctly.

After Reassembly and Priming:

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I made my retail land raider in the “Crusader” variant due to its high-troop transport capacity, so I had all the “Redeemer” variant bits available.  I moved the sponsons up, added some pieces of off a Baal Predator I had left over, and some various other parts from additional Space Marine vehicles.  Upon reassembly I had to take some liberties and change the basics of the model.  For example the sponson optics were broken and gone so I replaced them with spotlights.  I wanted assault cannons rather than heavy bolters so I clipped the barrels off of two extras from my Ravenwin upgrade sprues and glued them to the heavy bolters it came with.  There was a gap over the frag launchers I filled with standard poles from a Gors unit.  I also had to glued the front door closed as the original hinge was glued to the hull and had to be broken to disassemble it.

Work in Progress:

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As I said it was impossible to hide the damage to the model so I “hung a lantern on it” as it were.  I wrote it into the story of the model, as though it’s a chapter relic and has been through serious wars, has received awful damage, but the might of the vehicle keeps it going.  This was especially true on the left side of the model where the awful over-gluing left major plastic damage to the unit.  You can see where I used some corrosion to make it appear as though it is battle damaged.

I used copious amounts of Typhus corrosion and some Forge World weathering powder to show the wear on the sides and the front door.

Nearly Finished Rescue Model:


There are some other little touches I’d like to add but I think it’s pretty table ready now.  There are still some gaps that need filling and additional details I’d like to include but it’s worlds from where it started.

Is it the best Land Raider out there?  Not by far…  but for less than half price of the retail version and made with other additional parts I consider it a salvation of this vehicle’s machine spirit.  It may not be perfect…but I think the priests of Mars would approve…


Check out my previous painting posts for more!

Black Reach


Warboss with Attack Squig

Boss Zagstruk

Stormboy Nob on Flying Base

Bad Moons Nazdreg

Dark Angels Dreadnought

Dark Angels Standard Bearer

Dark Angels Librarian

Warhammer 40k Scenery

And for more 40k my Kharn illustration posts! Part 1 and Part 2.  And my fond farewell to the World of Battle.

Off the Top of My Head: Painting 40k Scenery

Off The Top of My Head

Wrahammer 40k and Citadel Scenery Painting

Official TableTop Day has come and gone but those of us who play table top games every day can be a table top day.  40k isn’t usually thought of in the same realm as “table top  games” even though it truly is.  I consider it almost a “table top lifestyle” as it really starts to seep into your thinking and, for an artist, your aesthetic.

Painting canvas isn’t something I do well or enjoy, unlike my RevPub Player 2, but I do love to paint models. and as I said in my Nazdreg post I love to create bases. One of my other favorite things to paint is scenery. Games Workshop/Citadel release some great-looking scenery for 40k. I love the little details and terrain pieces, especially rubble and ruins, and it’s fun to try to test some painting techniques on them.

These are from the Urban Barricades set and I painted them last year. With some of the new technical paints out now I’d like to maybe add some new touches to them, but I think they came out pretty well, at least well enough to be table ready!

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I love this one with the Space Marine bike.

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All the little skeletons and pieces are great small details.


This one with the door and unexploded ordinance is also wonderfully detailed.  I like the bullet holes, battle damage, and debris in these pieces.

 Over the holidays Citadel released some new technical paints that got me pretty excited. Yes I’m lame enough to get excited over technical paints, but I like to paint, I have a lot of fun with scenery, and I’ve been waiting for these kinds of paints to be available.

One of my favorite scenery pieces is the “battlescape” piece with the dead trees, craters, and the wrecked Rhino, complete with combat damage and customizable doors.

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The base was basic Mournfang Brown then dry brushed with Longbeard Grey and Praxeti White.

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The trees were the most difficult actually, I started with more Mournfang, dry brushed Praxeti, shaded with Biel-Tan Green, and glazed with Waywatcher Green.

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The Rhino I painted in Macragge Blue, then used the Typhus Corrosion + Ryza Rust combination shown in the technical paints video released late last year.  I also used some Forge World rust weathering powder to give the impression of the rust running off into the terrain.


The craters I plan to add some water effect mixed with some combination of Moot Green and Skavenblight Dinge to make a murky green with a bit of oil. I’ve got an extra arm from an Ungor kit and some extra chaos bits so it’s not just the imperium showing the damage in this piece 😉

 Once the piece is completely finished (I’m still testing the water effect…) I’ll post an update!

Check out my previous painting posts for more!

Black Reach


Warboss with Attack Squig

Boss Zagstruk

Stormboy Nob on Flying Base

Bad Moons Nazdreg

Dark Angels Dreadnought

Dark Angels Standard Bearer

Dark Angels Librarian

And for more 40k my Kharn illustration posts! Part 1 and Part 2.  And my fond farewell to the World of Battle.

The End of the World (of Battle) as We Know It

Off The Top of My Head

As a Warhammer fan living in Tennessee I’ve always been relatively lucky. My orders ship very quickly, shops are usually well-stocked, and there are a lot of hobbyists to create a pretty good community. Part of this is because the Games Workshop North American Headquarters was located in my state; Memphis to be exact.
I live a fair drive from Memphis but not too far. Not so far that it’s excusable that I’d never before visited the Memphis HQ and gaming site “World of Battle” over the last couple of years. I was suddenly motivated to do so when they broke the news on their Facebook page they would be effected by the Games Workshop restructuring (they are centralizing their operations back in Nottingham rather than maintaining multi-employee shops and several international HQs) and would be converting the epic World of Battle gaming hall into a single-person store on the day this post goes out, March 26th 2014. With that news I knew I’d be heading to Memphis before that occurred so I could see the World of Battle while still in its epic-scale format.
A couple of non-Warhammer folks came along for the ride, and even they were impressed and became interested in the hobby just being in the environment.

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The outside of the building itself was impressive, the huge imperial eagle and the wicked space marine statue standing guard.

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The full-sized Blood Angel still stands in the shop and he’s just as intimidating as a 7-foot tall bloke in red armor would be. Especially since he carried a gun the size of my torso.

There’s a nice case with Eldar Striking Scorpion gear in it. It is stylized to look like it’s been collected and tagged by an Ordo Xenos agent.

Loved this Ork Waaagh-Bannah!

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This city table was amazing. We kept wandering around it looking at all the details.

This fantasy castle was equally incredible.


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One of my favorite sections was the back hall that contained “historical artifacts” from Games Workshop’s history. And a GREAT Dark Angels banner.

I’m not a Games Workshop hater. They are a publicly traded company, they are beholden to make a profit for their shareholders, they do things for business reasons certainly, etc. They have also create a GREAT gaming system, painting systems, and as I said in my Kharn post, one of the best “worlds” I’ve seen in fiction. Some of their decisions, however, I can’t see as being positive. I had a ton of fun in the Woodfield Mall store while I was in Chicago. I went two nights in five days and just swapped war stories (“The Little Commissar who Could” one of the clerks told me was terrific) the same was true for World of Battle. I got a chance to chat with Price there about Imperial Knights tactics, the benefits of the new Crimson Slaughter Supplement, and creative use of bits to make unique terrain. He never tried to sell me anything. Just discussed it. I just wanted to BUY everything.

Even my two friends came away interested, just being in the environment and watching the massive Last Stand battle going on.

I think this is the kind of place GW needs to retain. It brings people in. Gets them started. Just being in the presence of this kind of World of Battle sparks fascination in everyone, Warhammer fanatics, neophytes, and outsiders.

I’m hopeful that as Games Workshop completes its restructuring and rebuilds itself as in a modern economic environment World of Battle will rise from the ashes and opens its epic gaming hall tables for North American Hobbyists.

World of Battle’s FB Page!

The Chosen of Khorne: Creating the Blood God’s Best

Off the Page

Chosen of Khorne: Illustration Process

Though I consider myself an illustrator, I haven’t done a large, finished piece (foreground, mid-ground, background) in years…maybe a decade or more.    So it was interesting to capture the process on digital camera, which I don’t think existed in a decent consumer form the last time I did one!


This is the earliest design; I sketched it on a piece of printer paper while waiting for something at work to finish.  The design is very rudimentary.  The dais looks more “chair” like, and the axe is on the wrong side (I picture Malvin entering left and seeing Kharn on the right for some reason) so Gorechild should be left rather than right in the frame as he sees the weapon before he sees The Betrayer.  I was also drawing from memory and messed up Kharn’s helmet design.


The original pencils just for putting in placement.  His helmet in the story is said to be in the sand at his feet, so the one thing I consciously altered from the terrific narrative description was to put it on a level of the stone dais, purely for composition purposes.



I stood on the shoulders of Black Library giants to design Kharn’s armor and wargear for this piece.  It was fun to put my own touches, like the way the skulls are attached to his armor backpack.



I added some extra battle damage to Kharn’s helmet, just because it was interesting to draw.


The skulls appear as mentioned in the drama: two on the left, four on the right; one with shrapnel in the cheek, one with chain weapon damage on the forehead.

I added the manacles described in the story as being large enough to restrain a large beast or being of great strength.  I put in dark tunnels behind Kharn based on the dungeons beneath the Flavian Amphitheater.



Before I started shading I thought it would be easy, just walls and stones.  But then I decided to shade every stone essentially individually and it took much longer than I intended…

20140209_155303For so many reasons I’m lucky to have Raven.  One of the lesser reasons is she inks for me in our comics!  I had to darken the graphite before shading (I drew in 4H).  I hate this process because it’s essentially drawing the same image TWICE but worth it to get the desired result.


I accidentally over-shaded the left tunnel and made it seem too short.  It took some correcting to get it closer to right.  I added the close foreground of silhouetted scattered remains based on the description in the drama. I left it vague but clear enough to be picked out if closely analyzed.



It’s actually at this phase I start to get excited about a composition.  The background is essentially one, which means I can start the character!

See the Original Kharn Post Here Featuring the Finished Piece!


As a bonus: I’m also working on a version of the Fleshtearer as described in the story.  It may be a single character piece, but here’s the face design I’ve been toying with.