Kakapo's Cadre Redux

General discussions about the hobby side to Tau & 40K.
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Kakapo42
Shas'Vre
Posts: 778

Kakapo's Cadre Redux

Post#1 » Mar 14 2017 08:00

In Darkness, We Are The Light

The 42nd T'au Guards Cadre


Welcome everyone to this, my long-awaited return to 40k. It has certainly been a long time coming.

A long time ago, in a toy store far, far away, a 6 year old boy (at least I think I was 6 at the time, my memory gets quite fuzzy around that era, I might have been 5, but I'm pretty sure it was one of those two ages. Certainly no older than 6) happened upon a big shelf display of strange boxes. Upon them were pictures and artwork of all kinds of futuristic sci-fi vehicles and soldiers. The boy loved science fiction (and still does), so his attention was instantly captured. He examined some of the boxes, and was fascinated by the bizarre designs of their contents. He also noticed that they all shared a common name on the top - some particularly brutal and violent sounding name like Bloodconqueror or Battlegore or Warhammer 40,000 or something - and immediately wanted to know more about them. But he was informed by his parents that they were toys for older kids, and not meant for the likes of him, so he left the store without ever uncovering the truth behind them. That was the last the boy ever saw of those strange science fiction things, and the boxes with their weird science fiction armies faded from memory...

... until a few years later. This time the child, now 8, had dived into the world of computer games, and was browsing a shelf of them in a store just opposite where the toy store had been. One game in particular stuck out to him, and he picked up a copy for a closer look. It was called Fire Warrior, and it's cover artwork depicted a high-tech soldier sitting on a pile of skulls in an apocalyptic landscape. He was immediately enthralled with the artwork, particularly the cool looking helmet that the character was wearing with its glowing central eyepiece, and for a long time it was the number 1 thing on his mind. He thought about how awesome an entire army of soldiers like that one would be. A short while later, a schoolyard discussion ended up on this thing called Warhammer 40,000, which quickly started a discussion about who was picking what faction (not to collect though, but rather to play as at lunchtime - we were just kids in relatively limited income families, and this was in the days before everyone just sat around browsing the internet in their free time). Someone suggested Tau as a fit for the child, and after a puzzled response said "Fire Warriors" and the child immediately remembered the amazing artwork he had seen.

And ever since then the Tau have been my number 1 40k army.

I've always loved the Tau, especially in their first incarnation during the tail end of 3rd edition. They were my first army not just for 40k, but for any tabletop game, and to this day are still probably my favourite. Since I started I ended up amassing a sizeable force of them, painted to varying degrees of success as I worked on them to the best of my child level abilities, from around 2002ish to 2010ish. There work slowed to a crawl and then a halt as I shifted resources and energy away from army development in favour of an ambitious space program. For years afterwards my poor Tau army languished, with only a token effort towards modernisation in preparation for a couple of games with a guy living nearby that I discovered was also into 40k.

But that's all about to change. With the bulk of my space fleet now finished, I am embarking upon a truly massive rearmament program for the ground forces. When the dust settles, I aim for nothing less than a place among the ATT greats. Like the Tau themselves, I tend to think big.

But first, we're going to go back in time, back to when it all began, back across years and decades and social trends, back to the glorious bygone age of the early 2000s, and to this guy.

Image Image

A metal XV15 Stealthsuit Shas'vre (plus his faithful gun drone) - and the first Warhammer 40,000 model I ever owned and painted, when I was 8 years old.

This wasn't the first tabletop model I owned and painted. I had been collecting Lord of The Rings models in the form of the old Lord of The Rings Battle Strategy Game magazine series by DeAgsostini, (what a fantastic stroke of brilliance that was), but those were only ever meant to be a stepping stone to 40k, something to practice on until I got to the models I was really after.

Thus, I consider this to be the official start of my journey into 40k and tabletop games. He came from my first ever trip to a GW store, which in those days was conveniently located just downstairs from my optometrist at the time. I had been doing some research beforehand (read: spending hours on the GW and Forgeworld webpages ogling all the gorgeous Tau models displayed on there and ravenously devouring every scrap of information about the Tau I could find on there), so I already had a good idea of what my first model was going to be, the one GW kit (not Forgeworld) that had so far captured my admiration and imagination more than any other - a Hammerhead Gunship. Extrapolating from Forgeworld (which I did not know at the time was a separate subsidiary of GW and not usually stocked in stores), back when Forgeworld still listed normal GW kits on its website, I initially assumed that the Hammerhead would be a relatively small model no larger than a Rhino, and with a cost of around $25. You can perhaps then imagine my surprise when I discovered that it was in fact a massive $72 beast of a kit, which put it squarely in birthday and Christmas gift territory. This disappointed me somewhat, especially when my plan B - a Broadside Battlesuit - also proved to be out of financial reach at $55, but that was quickly forgotten as I started my first introductory game of 40k, commanding 6 Firewarriors against 3 Chaos Space Marines. It was a quick victory as I ended up shooting one or two to death and then beating the remainder in close combat with zero casualties sustained (I still have lingering suspicions that the staff member opposing me might have fudged the results somewhat to get me more enthusiastic about it), and then ended up walking out of the store with the models posted above after being allowed to get "One little thing" from the shelf of blister packs. My primitive childhood reasoning for choosing them was simple - I loved the Firewarriors (remember the Fire Warrior artwork that first got me interested in the Tau), so naturally when I saw a Firewarrior with a Gatling gun I picked him. I was wild with excitement when I got home and actually read the label on the blister pack to find that I was in fact now the proud owner of a Tau Stealthsuit - a Firewarrior with a Gatling gun, a jetpack, a robot sidekick AND he can turn invisible? Hell Yes! Even now I'm still very fond of Stealth Teams.

In addition to the Stealthsuit, I also went home with a Citadel Paint set, which went on to serve me well for over a decade - in fact I still use some of the paints from it to this very day. The Stealtsuit went through several changes in colour scheme over the years. You can see the colour scheme he was originally painted with on the gun drone, and it was a crude attempt to recreate the Fire Warrior cover artwork that was so compelling - my child logic was that I wanted an army of troops just like the one on the Fire Warrior cover, and that one was wearing yellow armour, and I had a pot of Sunburst Yellow from the paint set, so naturally I should paint my new models yellow, with some red optics. I then spent the next two nights lavishing Sunburst yellow on the two models until I was satisfied with the coverage. The end result can be best described as a pair of mostly yellow blobs, but I was still very happy with the results. This continued to be how the Stealtsuit looked until one day after school I suddenly thought to myself "You know what would look really cool? A gold Tau army! Think about it, an entire army of high-tech Tau in solid gold! Gold is cool and high-tech, and lots of cool ancient cultures had gold everywhere, and they looked cool, so I should make my Tau GOLD!"

It never occurred to me at the time that this would have resulted in my army all looking like C-3PO, so I rushed home and immediately painted all the Tau models I had at the time (3 of them) in a full coat of Shining Gold over a Mithril Silver base. I eventually converted most of them back to what would become the colour scheme I settled on, but this guy remained gold for a bit longer before I finally decided to get serious and painted him in the crude attempt to recreate the GW studio stealthsuits that you see today.

The Drone was lost down the back of the desk I did my hobby work on back then, and so was spared the many colour scheme revisions I made. I no longer remember whether the orangeish-tanish splotches were an attempt to paint over the yellow areas with Vomit Brown, or if I just put so much Sunburst Yellow on it that it ended up looking that way. There was originally a second pulse carbine on it, but that has since been lost to time along with the flying stand that I foolishly decided to glue it onto. Working without any kind of assembly instructions, I was confused about which way to stick the antenna on - I had faint memories of seeing it pointing backwards on the back of a Firewarrior box, but then seeing the artwork on page 60 of the Tau codex (which included a gun drone with the jetpack exhaust facing forwards and the antenna away from it) threw me off, causing me to end up gluing the antenna on the wrong way. You will be glad to know that I did not make the same mistake again.

At some point in the past the other antenna on the Stealthsuit's jetpack broke off. I think I might still have it somewhere, but never attempted to glue it back on again.

Now, let's come back to the present and see what 13-14 years of experience and progress (like learning to actually layer colours) can do.

Image Image Image Image

This is the first of my revamped Tau army, a Firewarrior test model. The colour scheme I am going with is the same one I attempted to recreate when I first started a Tau army - the classic T'au desert camouflage scheme. This project is to be a homage to and celebration of the old Tau army I first fell in love with as much as it is a renovation and modernisation.

Thus, the process I used was almost exactly the same one described in Codex: Tau, substituting in newer colours for those no longer available. I had originally planned to follow the process as described to the letter, but eventually found out (as I had already discovered when building my Wood Elves) that even the older GW painting instructions are a lot like the cooking recipes my grandmother used to share - an accurate general set of instructions, but they don't tell you everything you need to know, missing out one or two key details that are on the 'Evy Metal examples. To compensate I added an extra stage of highlights - Ungor Flesh for the armour and Steel Legion Drab for the undersuit, and applied the same process used for the Battlesuit mechanical areas on the darker areas of the gun and backpack. The other final details were relatively straightforward, and this is one of the very few models I've ever painted that I'm genuinely happy with - I still have trouble believing that the highlights and jewelling on the helmet were done by my own hands.

All in all, I'd say I've come a long way since the days when yellow blobs roamed the earth. Now to see what I can do with a full army...
A Shas and a Kor walk into a bar...
Naked Metal

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Bloodknife92
Shas'Saal
Posts: 245

Re: Kakapo's Cadre Redux

Post#2 » Mar 15 2017 03:58

You remind me of myself. My story follows the same progress, although I didn't start at 6, I started at 14 and did semi-ok paintwork, but when I returned to the hobby last year, I was blown away by my ability to paint. I had no idea where it had come from!

Your paint work looks phenomenal! I can't wait to see your T'au army painted up and on the table.
The days of good English is went

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Kakapo42
Shas'Vre
Posts: 778

Re: Kakapo's Cadre Redux

Post#3 » Mar 17 2017 02:44

Bloodknife92 wrote:You remind me of myself. My story follows the same progress, although I didn't start at 6, I started at 14 and did semi-ok paintwork, but when I returned to the hobby last year, I was blown away by my ability to paint. I had no idea where it had come from!

Your paint work looks phenomenal! I can't wait to see your T'au army painted up and on the table.


Why thank you! The big breakthrough for me came a few years ago when I was starting to build my Battlefleet Gothic Tau fleet, during which I finally learnt to visualise paint schemes as three dimensional (before then I honestly thought that you just needed to lay down a colour evenly and it would magically look good, which as you'll see resulted in paint schemes that had good colours but were very flat and undetailed). That the last project I was working on was a Wood Elf army (so one of my favourite GW model ranges of all time, making it very high-stakes in that I absolutely HAD to get it right) may have also helped, in a sink or swim kind of way.

So, hot off the painting space, here is the second of my pre-production Firewarriors (out of a planned 4). This time I decided to use the bare head so I could practice painting Tau skin, and a pulse carbine so I could try out how the colour scheme looked on something other than a pulse rifle.

Image Image Image Image

I have never been able to quite master painting faces (one of the reasons why I love the Tau models so much; almost none of them have visible faces), and to this day it remains one of my weakest areas in painting. This one represents a quantum leap in my face-painting capability however, as not only is it one of the best ones that I have done so far, but it also marks the first time I have come close to successfully painting eyes.

During the buildup for this project, which took multiple years, I put a lot of thought into how I was going to paint the eyes on my bare-faced Tau. Most background material I've come across suggests that they're usually mostly black, with a bit of reflection or traces of colour. In the GW studio army the bare-faced Tau usually have their eyes painted red, which doesn't quite look right to me, but at the same time just painting them black wouldn't do it either - that would look like they had no eyes, just empty eye-sockets (or like they were possessed by one of the demons in Supernatural). The solution I came to was inspired by older Tau artwork in the first and second codexes, specifically the close-up of a Firewarrior's face on page 60 of Codex: Tau and the artwork of Shadowsun in the 4th edition Codex: Tau Empire. The impression I always got from those two pieces (and Tammy Haye's colour scheme on Aun'shi, until I looked a little closer and realised she had painted his eyes red too) was that the Tau eyes in them were reflecting goldey-yellow or pure white light, which gave me the idea to paint my Tau eyes yellow. I experimented with a few different colours for the eyes on this one, before finally settling on Yriel Yellow (or Golden Yellow - I still know and recognise the Citadel range by its older names) for the effect I wanted. I was a bit worried it might end up looking like my Tau all had Jaundice, but it seems to have turned out not quite as terrible as I feared.

I also experimented with leaving the backpack separate during painting. In theory, this would give me better access to a couple of areas, at the cost of increasing the number of painting sub-assemblies from 3 to 4. In practice it resulted in a lot of very awkward fiddling around for little comparative gain. I don't think I'll be doing that for the other Firewarriors, but then that's exactly what these test models are for - to find out what works and what doesn't.

Finally, I experimented with the undersuit on this model. The Rhinox Hide (or Scorched Brown as I call it - see above) main colour was drybrushed on rather than layered, and I tried using Mournfang Brown instead of Steel Legion Drab for the highlight colour. Here's the two test models side-by-side so you can see the difference for yourself.

Image Image

Personally I think I'm leaning more towards the Steel Legion Drab highlights, as I think they stand out and make the model 'pop' more. The drybrushing, however, was a definite success I think. It provided a close enough level of coverage to layering to be satisfactory for me, bur with much less fiddling around trying to see where all the folds in the undersuit were.
A Shas and a Kor walk into a bar...
Naked Metal

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Kakapo42
Shas'Vre
Posts: 778

Re: Kakapo's Cadre Redux

Post#4 » Mar 23 2017 07:52

Right then, here are the final two test models.

Image

There weren't that many wild experiments this time, as I've pretty much nailed down the paint scheme I want. The main one this time was on the bases, marking my first ever use of a new basing element - tufts. Much like everything else about this project, I spent a long time beforehand thinking about what I wanted to do with the bases. The bulk of it was easy to work out - like the classic T'au desert camouflage scheme used in the 'Evy Metal studio army, I also wanted to emulate the desert/badlands basing theme that was used in it. This was pretty straightforward, as I conveniently already had everything I needed for it, but I decided that I also wanted something more for my army bases, some kind of little extra embellishment or doodad to really spice them up a notch, and decided that some grassy tufts would be just the thing (I thought my model bases needed tuft-ening up). This then resulted in a decision to use two kinds of tufts - one that was a very strong green to contrast with the more barren base colours and make the whole thing really pop, and one that was a more subdued sandy colour to enhance the overall theme of the bases and go more with the colour scheme on the models. Putting all this together would ideally result in a kind of Savannah wastelands look - something similar to the Badlands map theme from Starcraft is essentially what I'm trying to aim for here.

Image Image Image

The third test model isn't anything special painting wise. The main innovations with her were in the assembly stage, where I manage to refine my greenstuff skills to an acceptable level. I'm using only the older kits for the Firewarriors in my army, for several reasons of varying importance, which came with rather infamous mold defects on the leg armour. The obvious solution would be to reconstruct the deformed sections with greenstuff, which seemed simple enough on paper (the leg armour being comprised entirely of simple shapes and lines), but proved somewhat infuriatingly troublesome in practice. My original plan - to take an ordinary staple and bend it into the right shape to use as a press for the panel lines - fell through when I was unable to get it into the right size and shape (the shape wasn't too hard, but getting it into the right size was another matter entirely). So instead I tried scoring into the greenstuff with a needle, which had always worked before when I needed lines in greenstuff, but this ran into the problem of getting sharp corners - they would inevitably either come out curved (which didn't look right) or deform into one straight line. I tried making greenstuff molds from incact leg armour pieces, but they couldn't quite get the right pattern on.

The breakthrough finally came when, as I was going to bed after another fruitless night, my thoughts turned to the recent Disney film Moana. I thought about a brief shot in that where a character is getting tattooed and suddenly had a Eureka moment - I could simply tattoo the details on with a needle! I conducted a quick experiment the next day and the concept worked like a charm, although it was still imperfect and the sculpted leg armour came out rather wonky. But it was progress, and I quickly came to the conclusion that the problem had been too much greenstuff on the section, which was causing the detail to cave in and 'lip' when I pressed in too deeply with the needle. I tried again with another set of legs using a much thinner layer of greenstuff and the results were much better, though there was still some deforming towards one end (the moral of that story is never work with greenstuff in less than ample light conditions). But I considered it good enough to start painting with, and indeed it's far less noticeable now.

The other important breakthrough was learning to work with the leg armour sections, only using greenstuff on the middle area where the panel lines are supposed to drop down. Any missing panel lines on the sides of the armour were simply carved into the plastic using - very, VERY carefully - a razor saw (do not try this at home).

The tuft I tried out on her base is the current planned sandy-coloured tuft, a GW Mordheim Turf tuft. I doesn't look quite right to me, but I suspect that may be because I ended up squashing it while peeling it off the sheet and gluing it down.

Image Image Image Image

The final model is where things start to get more interesting, as she is a testbed for a number of tricks, mostly for the Shas'Uis that are planned. On the building side of things I tested out a new conversion. I want to give all the markerlight equipped infantry models in the army data-cables running from their helmet aerials in the same manner as the original 3rd edition Pathfinder (and Stealthsuit Shas'vre) models, because it looked awesome on them. Much like the component repairs above, this seemed simple enough in theory, as all I'd really need is two pieces of wire cut to the right length, bent to the right shape stuck together, with a little bit of strategically placed greenstuff to cover where they met the gun and aerial. Closer inspection of the 3rd edition Pathfinder models that I own revealed that there's also a small circular... thing... part-way down the cables at about chest height, but that seemed easy enough to replicate with greenstuff too. The trouble came in finding the right wire. I initially planned to use regular old 1mm wire, which is the standard wire I've used in every other hobby project so far and something I am now swimming in after buying a ton of it in preparation for this one. The 1mm wire however proved to be much too thick for the infantry models, effectively making it look like the Firewarrior helmet had tusks and blowing the greenstuff details all out of proportion. I desperately hunted around in local shops for something suitably thinner, before finally finding the answer in very thin Florists' Wire from the local flower store. It was available for a very reasonable price, and proved to be the perfect size for the infantry when I tested it at home.

Incidentally, while looking through an old White Dwarf copy shortly afterwards, I noticed that by a wild co-incidence I had - entirely independently - had done something very similar to one of Tael's Firewarrior Shas'Ui conversions, which also features a markerlight with data-cables (complete with a little circular bit). Perhaps great minds really do think alike.

Painting wise the model represents my first real attempt at the bane of any painter's existence - painting white. The only real experience I've had so far with white has been my Tau fleet, which just used very heavy drybrushes of Skull White (and later White Scar). This worked fine for Battlefleet Gothic models, but I had the feeling it wouldn't quite cut it for 28mm heroic scale models. I searched long and hard for an answer to how to layer white properly, but could find very little online. Eventually I talked with a painting goddess I encountered at the local GW store and she confirmed what I had already begun to suspect from squinting at examples of white 'Evy Metal painting (start with a grey and work up), and then pointed me in the direction of which colour I should use as a base. Conveniently, it was one I already had from painting the ATT orbital. Thus began the basis of my attempt at painting bright white on the scanner. starting with Fenrisian Grey (forever Space Wolves Grey to me) as a base and then layering it with a mixture of White Scar with a little bit of Fenrisian Grey, then highlighted with White Scar. It seemed to work out well enough for small details like the scanner, which is all I really need it for at this stage.

The bone white on the helmet and shoulder guard were an attempt to recreate the bone white panels in the old studio example Tau army. I initially tried following the driections for painting white helmets in the Crisis Suit painting guide on page 40 of Codex: Tau, but quickly ran into a problem with the main colour. The guide specifies that this should be a Skull White-Vomit Brown mixture, with a ratio very heavily Skull White's way, but my experiment quickly proved that all such a mixture would produce is a very light sand ochre (this might seem to you to be simple common sense, but I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt at the time under the reasoning that the old 'Evy Metal painters might know something I didn't). Thus I defaulted to an old method of painting bone white that I used in a couple of places on my hobby minions, starting with Ushabti Bone (which I actually had to physically stop myself from typing as Bleached Bone) and then highlighting with Screaming Skull and White Scar. It seemed to work out good enough, but I can't help but think I could get it closer to the studio examples by using a mixture of Ushabti Bone and White Scar as the main colour instead (of course, that would then raise the question of how to highlight it...). It also represents my first real attempt at painting Tau markings at 28mm scale. They turned out reasonably well, I suppose, but I can't stop thinking that they're slightly crooked.

The tuft used on this model is an Army Painter Woodland Tuft, which I discovered in a local hobby store and plan to use for the rich green tufts. The actual production infantry models are going to have the smaller size Woodland Tufts on them, but the sheet came with more medium tufts so I decided to use one of those for the test case.


Finally, here's the group together.

Image Image

All in all I'd say these tests have proven successful. This paint scheme is now approved. Full scale production: AUTHORISED.
A Shas and a Kor walk into a bar...
Naked Metal

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TauMan
Shas'Ui
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Re: Kakapo's Cadre Redux

Post#5 » Mar 25 2017 07:42

Kakapo42 so that's where you've been? Wondered what you were up too. Wow, now I feel quite inadequate in the painting department! :-(

I remember going into a game store with my then fourteen year old twin sons and buying the Battle for Macragge starter set, and a blister pack of metal Space Marine Scouts. But I also picked up a single blister pack of metal Tau Pathfinders. I was thinking: "I use to paint miniatures back in the day for D&D, so maybe I'll try these."

5,000 points of Tau later I'm still buying more "Tau Stuff". And that's not counting my one son's 3,000 points of Raven Guard and another son's 2,500 point Ork army. I also have an Air Assault (Helicopter) Ork "Air Pirate" army. :eek:

Oh, well...I still have a few original D&D miniatures left, but they're almost as in bad shape as your XV-15 and Gun drone.

My Tau have gone through four different (but almost the same) paint schemes. At first I had a green colour for the undersuit, but when I decided on a tan/khaki I had to either repaint, or strip the paint off and re-paint. At one point I had to strip Twenty-four firewarriors with the Simple GreenTM treatment, and then totally repaint them. The Pathfinders and one squad of Firewarriors have been painted like "four" times now.

Looks like your doing right the first time.

Oh, and yes because I misread the side of a box of firewarriors, I skipped the terracotta entirely and went straight to Scab Red/Blood Red. So, back in fourth edition I was already painting my Farsight Tau all red. Okay, so shoot me, but I wanted them to match the Crisis Suits! :(

Paint Scheme:
[Old Citadel paint names here] Armour was a base coat of Scab Red (originally Terracotta) with Blood Red highlights. Under suit was a base coat of Tamiya Desert Yellow (German WWII colour) with a highlight of Reaper Desert Khaki. The undersuit was given a wash of what use to be called Devlan Mud, but the armour got a wash of Citadel Chestnut Ink. (Yes, I still use inks, even if I have to make my own!) The wash is dull (flat) and gives the undercoat a fabric effect, while the ink is semi gloss and gives the armour a glossy metallic look.

Do you use any washes? (I guess the Citadel term is "shade" these days). Use any inks?

Looking forward to seeing the completed army.

TauMan
They made me Shas'Ui? What were they thinking?
N.Y.A.B.X.T.T.

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