Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Cleansing the palate -- with Nurgle?!

Hey everyone, KrautScientist here. Today, I'd like to talk about a problem we all know. I'd also like to tell you my personal solution to this problem and take the opportunity to show off some models. So what is this about? Step this way to find out!

Now we all get the painting blues every now and then: Be it because we have managed to burn ourselves out on painting an army`s worth of the same three colours over and over, be it because we cannot seem to pick that brush back up after a longer break from painting. I think we all know that feeling, and how it can basically mess up all of your hobby productivity: You don't feel confident and motivated enough to paint anything, but you'll never feel more confident and motivated unless you manage to finish painting something first -- a vicious circle, and all that.

There are several solutions to this problem: Sometimes it's enough to just put down the model you're working on, walk away from it and take a short break. A day or two later, you may just return to the model with a fresh perspective and discover thinks just start falling into place. Problem solved, right?

Sometimes, however, the problem seems more fundamental: You just cannot bring yourself to pick up a brush, and even when you do, things just don't work. The models you produce seem lacklustre and unsatisfying, actually adding to your frustration instead of remedying  it.

I have found that a very successful approach can be to paint something very different from the stuff you usually work on, to serve as some kind of palate cleanser, so to speak, and in order to catch a breath of fresh air. And for me, surprisingly enough, that breath of fresh air happens to be...Nurgle, of all things!

Looking back at the last few times I had to rebuild my motivation for painting, I found myself drawn to the followers of the Plague God more often than not. And painting these models, apart from adding a bit of variety to my painting schedule, also gave me the opportunity to learn some new techniques. Let me give you a few examples:

Back in 2012, I needed a bit of variety after having worked on my World Eaters for weeks on end. So I spontaneously kitbashed and painted a champion of Nurgle:

And the strangest thing happened: Not only did I paint the model in one short sitting, but it also inspired my to come up with a small mini-series of models and accompanying fluff, building a champion for each of the major cult-legions (Death Guard, Thousand Sons, Emperor's Children and, of course, World Eaters). So over a matter of a few days, I managed to complete four models where I hadn't felt the motivation to paint even a single one before:

There's more information on this particular mini-series here, by the way, in case you are interested.

As for the Nurgle champ himself, he provided ample opportunity to experiment with all kinds of corrosion and weathering effects. For instance, I discovered that a great way to achieve a rusty look for metal was to basecoat it in brown instead of silver, stippling on rust and only adding silver highlights around the edges, to give the impression of metal that is truly covered in rust (or has, indeed, rusted through). A pretty basic idea, certainly, but one I wouldn't have had to come up with if I hadn't painted a follower of Nurgle.

The next model created in this way was a Plague Ogryn I converted and painted for my cousin's planned Death Guard army:

As you can see, this model was the perfect chance to work with Tamiya Clear Red, in order to make that grisly stomach wound look extra disgusting. But this model also doubeled as my very first foray into the world of - basic - greenstuff sculpting, changing the ogre's head to look more Nurglite and adding some entrails and viscera. And finally, the model also allowed me to work with the Ogre Kingdoms models for the first time, leading to some experience that really came in handy when converting my own traitor ogryns for my Traitor Guard detachment.

The next time I found myself losing my painting mojo, guess what, I once again converted a follower of Nurgle - this time a Terminator Lord:

And, once again, not only was the model a lot of fun to convert and paint, but it also gave me to opportunity to hone my painting techniques for stuff like rust, corrosion and verdigris even further:

Final case in point: When I couldn't work up the motivation to get back into painting after the Christmas holiday, early this year, I found myself picking up the last two pots of paint I had purchased in late 2013: Two of the - then brand new - Citadel Technical Paints: Agrellan Earth and Nurgle's Rot.

And even though I wasn't all that thrilled to sit down and paint a model, I was interested in seeing how those technicals performed. So I grabbed a - pretty dilapidated - early 90s plastic Plague Marine, replaced a missing arm with a mutation and used the model as a testing ground for several new techniques. Here's the result:

My experimentation mainly consisted of three things:
  • mixing lots of Agrellan Earth into the paint for the armour, trying to create a crackle effect on the armour plates to underline the decay and rot associated with Nurgle.
  • thinning down reddish brown (Vermin Brown, in this case) with water until it was barely heavier than a wash, then using that "rust wash" in the recesses between armour plates to make it look like rust had formed there.
  • using Nurgle's Rot to create a vile fluid leaking from the various vents and cracks in the armour as well as the fleshy mutation.
All of this turned out to be a lot of fun, and I came away with several observations:

First, my idea for a simple rust wash turned out to be fairly succesful, so whenever I want to create an effect of rust in recessed areas, I will use the recipe outlined above.

Second, Nurgle's Rot performs admirably when used to create slime of an evil green hue: Used on a Plague Marine, it will result in disgusting, wet looking trails of slime, as can be seen here:

It also works really well when used on vents or leaking pipes:

Granted, it's a bit of a one-trick pony, but it provides an instant solution when you need hideous, green slime leaking from any part of your model, and that makes it a winner in my book.

Third, Agrellan Earth is quite a bit less versatile than I would have liked: It works well enough when used on its own (and in rather thick coats), making it useful for creating dried mudflat bases in light brown.

However, getting it to perform evenly and consistently when mixing it with other paints is very much a game of chance. Whenever it works, it looks very nice, with subtle and interesting looking cracks appearing on the surface:

But its very haphazard nature makes using it a bit of an exercise in frustration: It might work, and if it works, it'll look cool. But don't count on it...

Anyway, using a Nurglite model to experiment with some new techniques once again did wonders for my painting motivation: Not only did I return to several of my previously abandoned projects, I also felt psyched  enough to paint more and more Plague Marines to serve as playfellows to that first test model. Fortunately enough, I still had some of the great Dave Andrews Plague Marines from the late 90s lying around, and this was the perfect chance to finally do them justice with a paintjob.

So here are the other Plague Marines I painted:

A model kitbashed from various leftover plastic parts, mostly used to experiment some more with the crackle and slime effects:

A plasma gunner buit some time in late 2010, now finally painted:

I love piercingly blue plasma coils, by the way! In this case, I also got the chance to paint some mutated flesh again:

And finally, the aforementioned Dave Andrews models:

These guys are every bit as great as they were back in the late 90s, if you ask me: Best Plague Marine sculpts ever (apart from that one amazing model done by Jes Goodwin during the early 90s - that one is ace as well!)!

Before I knew it, I had basically painted an entire squad of Plague Marines. Now I don't even have any plans to use these during games or anything, but painting them was still a blast!

What I learned from this was that a) it's really a great idea to go and paint something different when you feel like you're losing your painting mojo. The breath of air will do you good, even if it's a rather putrid breath of air, as in my case ;)

Second, I suppose Nurglite models really lend themselves beautifully to such an endeavour, because they are both challenging and fun to paint: You get to freely experiment with all kinds of techniques in order to create the rot and decay typical of these pestilential individuals. But making them look good instead of just slapped together also takes a bit of work. But coming up with recipes and solutions that work is really great fun and might just see your motivation re-invigorated!

Right enough, when I once again felt my motivation falling lately, I quickly kitbashed a traitor soldier to match my Plague Marines and started to paint him:

This guy's still very WIP, but he still looks pretty good when placed next to one of the Plague Marines:

Maybe I should spin these off into some kind of killteam? Add another traitor or two and a couple of plague zombies? And some huge, hideous mutant/spawn thing? In any case, these guys are always a nice opportunity to have a fun little painting session, and Grandfather Nurgle is always there for you -- just be careful lest you catch a cold or the flu while working on Nurglite models -- it tends to happen, as I can attest from my own experience...

So yeah, that's my solution to fighting against motivational slumps when it comes to painting -- what's yours? And do you have any stories to share regarding painting the followers of Nurgle? I'd be happy to hear from you in the comments section!

This has been KrautScientist. Thanks for tuning in!


  1. Agreed. The cure for painting block is the same as the way to improve your skills: Paint everything! I did myself a real disservice by only painting 40k subject matter for like 15+ years. Paint everything, all subjects and scales and even busts and flats and...

  2. Hello, great article...I too am in project limbo so will give this a whirl, what's the cool light green you are using? Thanks :)

  3. agreed, a squad of plaguebearers brought me back from a big painting slump. Great article!

  4. agreed, a squad of plaguebearers brought me back from a big painting slump. Great article!