Wargaming Tradecraft: Hordebloods - Forsaken Fennblades WIP


Hordebloods - Forsaken Fennblades WIP

I've been working on my Fennblades for quite a while now and it's past due that I post a Work in Progress post about them, especially as I'm quite proud of how they're coming along. The theme of these miniatures is undead, deep blue armour, worn weapons, with a variety of skin colours

The first gentleman off the workbench was my Fennblade Kithkar - the hero. Didn't get much in the way of WIP for him, but I was mostly creating and using him as test case for the rest.

I'm also leaving the basing for when everyone's completed, that way they'll all be uniform.

I'll also admit to breaking one of my rules during this project. Usually, once I start painting a miniature, it gets pulled from the battlefield until complete. But I've been working on them for so long, they've continued to see their fair share of combat.

Sculpting Undeath

The first task is to make the living a little more undead. As you take in the photos, you'll see a few ways I've accomplished this:

  1. Remove all arms, replace with bones.
  2. Carve away parts of their bodies.
  3. Replace some of their heads with some Games Workshop zombie heads.

Replacing Arms

To replace their arms, I chopped them off with a pair of side cutters and smoothed out the joints with some files and knives. (This is apparently the point where I notice I haven't written anything about files.)

I've then used a pin vice to drill holes into their shoulders and wrists and replaced their arms with some wire. (Similar to how you would pin a model.) The wire is easy enough to bend, at which points the hands can be posed and wind up where they should be.

Super-glue is the tool of choice here for metal on resin/plastic.

Sculpting with Green Stuff

I've wrapped the wire arms in green stuff, then sculpted them to look like bones. It has a nice effect of thinning out part of their mid-section, highlighting the mass in their hands and the rest of the body.

Other additions include hair, bone features, teeth, spiky heads, grotesque tongues from mouths that had the jaws removed, etc..

Sculpting Tips

Below, you'll see the steps I took to clean up one of their shoulders. From left to right:

  1. I created a covering for the wire arm and what I wanted the shoulder to look like jutting from his body.
    1. Wait for this to dry and firm up. It's always good to work in layers, otherwise you end up just pushing soft clay around too much.
  2. Placing a small strip of green stuff between the body and shoulder outcropping.
  3. I've used a firm clay-shaper to press the green stuff into both the body and the shoulder.
    1. If you look closely, you'll still see small lines where things haven't been fully blended.
  4. Continue using the clay shaper to press the green stuff into the body and the shoulder until you have a smooth transition.
    1. I like to press into the green stuff, then push away from it, toward the body. This blends the clay nicer.

For more examples of the stages of sculpting, take a look at the sculpting undertaking that was my Mountain King.

Here's the group of them before painting.


First, I've laid down a base coat for the skin of the unit. That's 4 in a pinkish-purple, (Command models and the unique Kilt-Lifter model.) 4 green, 5 sky blue and the Kithkar Abomination in a deeper blue.

Skin Formulas

Here's a treat for you - these are the colours I used to paint each of them and recorded in my notebook. That article goes into the short-hand I use, but I'll go into the rough overview below:

  1. Prime in Black
  2. Airbrush base layers from dark overall, to lighter colours.
    1. While adding the lighter colours, increase the angle of the airbrush so you're getting more of the overhead lighting and move in closer to spray smaller highlights on.
  3. Using thinned paints, paint over the base coat I created with the airbrush.
    1. Blend the paints at each layer.
    2. Worth noting, I'm still figuring out the best ways to airbrush and in this case I think it ended up being more of a pre-shade. I painted over most of the airbrushed stuff, though with thinner than usual paints.
  4. Darken and blend by washing the skin.
    1. In some cases I used two washes - one in the shadows and a very light wash over the raised areas.
  5. Not depicted here is that I'm also highlighting all the skin with final whites.

Airbrush Base

Below you'll see the unit as I've wrapped up airbrushing. Laid down some base colours for their armour, tabards, weapon wraps and leather.

Painting the Unit

In the following photo, I've spent more time painting individual features of the unit, which I'll go into more detail on below.

Painting Armour

A quick look below will show you where the models started after airbrushing. I've included the whole formula from my notebook at the end of this section.

The 4 photos below depict the start of the undercoat base layers. From Left to right:

  1. Naggaroth Night
    1. A deep purple painted into the darkest shadows.
  2. Kantor Blue
    1. A deep blue which transitions the shadows to the highlights.
  3. The Fang
    1. A grey-blue that begins the highlight.
  4. Russ Grey
    1. A grey highlight.

Continuing below...

  1. I've then highlighted the armour with my signature aggressive highlight in white.
  2. And highlighted the trim of the armour with black to grey to white.
This completes the base coat. Could you end here? Absolutely. Do I? Absolutely not.

Not pictured, I then also wash all the trim with black before wrapping with the below steps:

  1. Druchii Violet
    1. A wash painted into the shadows.
  2. Drakenhof Nightshade
    1. A wash painted over the raised areas.
  3. White Scar
    1. Once again, I give a final aggressive highlight to the armour.

The Formula

Proof of Concept

I'm not a fan of painting an entire unit at once. I usually feel like it burns you out and you can get tired of the process because you don't feel like you're accomplishing enough. Being able to complete models is a great confidence boost and there can be an impact when a project just drags on and on. Getting these guys onto the field and seeing them slowly come together definitely has helped motivate me to keep working away.

That said, I had to let myself just let loose and finish one of them so I had a sense of what I was aiming for and to act as the blueprint for the rest of the unit.

So, I'm super-happy with how he looks and can't wait until everyone else is up to this standard as well. I'm particularly impressed with how his natural muscles on the side of his chest were easy to paint like bone and it seems so right.

Still probably going to do a final white highlight on his skin too.

Painting Old Rusty Weapons in NMM (Non-Metallic Metals)

I've written quite extensively about painting metallics, something you might want to read about. Here I'm going to look at how I painted these aged weapons.

I've used a sponge to stipple the effect but unlike the larger one displayed in that article, I just ripped a tiny piece off and glued it to a toothpick so I could work on a smaller scale.

The other unique thing about how I painted these weapons is that I highlighted the inside of the weapon rather than the edges.

  1. Prime Black.
  2. Stipple dark brown over the whole weapon.
  3. Stipple dark yellow along the inside of the blade.
  4. Stipple less yellow along the middle of the blade.
  5. Stipple / Dry-brush a very small amount of light beige along the middle of the blade.
    1. At this point you'll have a rather gold-looking NMM weapon.
  6. Wash with orange to shift the colour to a rust / bronze appearance.
  7. Final "edge" highlight of light beige.
    1. Just remember that since you're working inward, not to highlight the actual outer edges.

Painting Glowing Eyes

This is another topic I've covered extensively in the past, but it never hurts to display another example.

  1. Paint the eyes black.
  2. Paint your skin shadow colour around the eyes and some of the other parts of the face.
  3. Paint most of the raised area of the eyes in red.
  4. Paint orange over the front of the eyes.
  5. Paint yellow on the tip of the eyes.
While there isn't a traditional "pupil", you can control the direction of the eye highlight to create the impression your miniature is looking in a specific direction.

How you like me now?

Below are a few photos showing the unit in their current state. They've come far, but there's still a lot to do. All the leather, drink cups, bone highlights, skin highlights, weapon hilts, unique items like the drum and the kilt-lifter's goblin friend, hair, eyes...

I've also painted all the wounds with day-glow purple pigments. Just love how they pick up light. It's the same colour I used on the white runes hanging from a few of the models. Haven't... quite... figured out what exactly I'm doing with the wounds. I like the brightness across the unit.. will probably have to add some shadows and highlights so the detail stands out... but I think we'll just have to see how it all comes together.

Full Paint Formulas

Take a look at my Step by Step page for the entire Hordebloods project.

Here you will find each model broken down into links showing each step:
Concept, Works in Progress, (for both modelling and painting) and Final Shots

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