Sunday, January 1, 2023

New Year, New Army - Salamander Time!

15 models all assembled, cleaned, and primed. Let the paint tests begin!

The holidays have given me some nice hobby time and I’ve been happily clipping, scraping, gluing away. All told now, I’ve got 3 Aggressors, 3 Eradicators, a 5 man Tactical Squad, a Primaris Captain, Vulcan He’stan, a Company Ancient, and an Apothecary. A nice little starting force with a couple options (didn’t realize you can’t run a Captain at the same time as Vulcan, who is also technically a Captain- doh- maybe I’ll just call him a Lieutenant).

For the Tactical squad I decided to go with the HH MkIV armor (one of the two kits that they make in plastic) because I like the look in general and felt like the heads worked well with the Salamanders flamethrower vibe. Apparently they make sense lore-wise too, which is something I was curious about but ultimately didn’t care that much about either way. Nice bonus- MkIV helmets were clearly the inspiration for the Primaris helmets so it all goes together nicely.

Digging through my old parts boxes, I found that I could throw together the Apothecary and an Ancient just to have a couple extra models to test things out on. Good god, you really don’t appreciate the new plastic sets until you break out an old sprue. GW have made some MASSIVE strides in model quality and particularly mold quality. They used to really overuse their molds too, and by the end of their runs the parts are all covered with flash, the details are all gummy, there’s alignment issues. It’s a mess. I may just sell off the rest of that command sprue because I really don’t want to mess with that crap again. The Ancient got a flame from the Salamanders upgrade set just because...

The MkIV set is pretty nice and I’ve got 5 more models I will eventually put together there. I’m a little disappointed in the variety- there’s only two options for the left arm and basically no left hands other than sword or pistol so you’re pretty limited in poses. Importantly, it also only has 1ea of the combi weapon and plasma pistol, so I’ll have to make one Sergeant with weapons from a different era than his armor. The horror. If you’re wondering why OG marines rather than Primaris, it’s because the OGs can take an extra flamer/melta per 5-man squad, and that’s obviously quite desirable for Salamanders. As it was, I had to grab a different left arm from another mk of marine armor just to get the pose I wanted so he's missing the little scallop above his wrist. I doubt anyone will notice.

Now on to paint! I’ve been browsing around looking at options. The standard GW scheme is just a tiny bit bright for my taste- I want to go with just a slightly more saturated/deeper green. I also have yet to try contrast paints (yeah, I’ve been put of the game for a bit) so there’s lots of experimenting to do. For contrast paint, GW recommends a brighter green (can’t remember which), but I went with Karandras Green instead, preferring the depth of the examples I’ve seen.

First up I decided to try out a little bit of color in my zenithal and shadow pass, knowing that the contrast paints are a bit translucent. Not knowing just how much color they’d let through, I didn’t go too crazy here. Just some yellow warmth for the highlights and a little blue in the shadows.

I then tried 3 options- airbrushing contrast paint (apothecary), hand brushing contrast (ancient, two coats), and then airbrushing the recommended GW scheme of Warpstone Glow layer paint (sergeant). I didn’t do a great job of taking pictures of all the steps so there’s a few extra things painted on top of these comparisons, but the lighting in my hobby room isn’t great at the moment so it’s not exactly a proper scientific test for you to properly evaluate anyway.

So what do we think? Well, as expected, contrast paints are pretty see-through, but not so much that my highlight/shadow pass made much of a difference at all. I do like that they give you your wash step plus a little shading all in one, but I feel like they’re tough to get a clean base coat with. Now, granted I’m rusty as hell. Contrast paints will definitely have their uses! I just can’t see myself doing the 3 coats on each figure that I’d need to make that work though. The Apothecary is too light and will need some more depth. I actually do like the color of the Ancient, but the paint is too gloppy and the contrast paint is kind of glossy and translucent in a way I don’t love. The Sergeant is a bit brighter than I’d like (pic doesn’t quite get it right here) and of course, both airbrushed models lack the wash effect. So a little more experimenting and we land on this:

That’s the Warpstone Glow base coat with one coat of Karandras Green contrast brushed over the top. I didn’t do the contrast on his apron or the plasma coils so you can see how much bolder the green got. I’m liking it. The green base coat makes the brushed contrast a bit more forgiving, and I feel like with a little more practice I can get the coat a little smoother. I may do a little more experimenting with some kind of zenithal highlight in future models, but this is a good first step to get things moving.

So there we are. I’ve got one more day of vacation so I’m hoping to base coat the lot of em so I can put the airbrush booth away and get more office space back for the coming work week. Then it’ll be weeks of hand painting for me.

Happy New Year, everyone!


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