Saturday, 15 June 2013

Azrael, Supreme Grand Master of the Dark Angels

When the guys at 4Tk Gaming in Colchester asked me to paint Grand Master Azrael for their display cabinet, I jumped at the chance.  He's a really great miniature and it's been a very long time since I last painted a Space Marine - and this particular Space Marine has everything that makes a miniature fun to paint:  flowing robes, a big banner (okay, so it's moulded - *cough* CHEAT! *cough*), armour, a big gun, and of course a mysterious and sinister little chap carrying a winged helmet.

This project was made even more fun by the knowledge that Azrael was intended solely for display, so I didn't need to worry too much about making sure that the colours and bases matched exactly with a pre-existing army.  Instead, I just kept a photo of the 'Codex' version of the miniature close at hand for reference, and then went with whatever techniques I thought would look best.

I began by basecoating the Power Armour with pure Dark Angels Green before shading it with a wash mixed from Dark Angels Green, Necron Abyss and Badab Black.  Once this was dry, I painted thinned Chaos Black into the very deepest recesses.  Once the shading was finished, I worked the armour back up to the basecoat of Dark Angels Green before highlighting with Snot Green.  I mixed Rotting Flesh into the Snot Green to add a second highlight, before applying an extreme highlight of pure Rotting Flesh.  To counter some of the highlights seeming a bit too harsh, I applied a 3:1 wash of Dark Angels Green and Chaos Black.  The armour was not quite finished there.  When the rest of the model was completed, I added some extra highlights of White Scar to make the armour stand out a little more.

The next areas I tackled were the white robes and the wings on the banner.  Initially, I basecoated these with a 3:1 mix of Ceramite White and Graveyard Earth, before roughly shading the recesses with Graveyard Earth mixed with a touch of Chaos Black.  Next I added some more black into the mix and painted it into the deepest recesses.  To smooth out the blending a little, I built the white areas back up to the basecoat mix.

I then began to build up the highlights on the tunic and similar areas.  The initial highlight consisted of Ceramite White with a tiny amount of Graveyard Earth.  Before continuing, I decided to darken the shades even more with some Agrax Earthshade.  Once this was dry, I added an extreme highlight of Ceramite White to the areas.

I began to paint the black areas with a 1:1 mix of Chaos Black and Necron Abyss.  I built these areas up by gradually adding more and more Necron Abyss.  After this, I jumped straight into doing an extreme highlight using Space Wolves Grey.

Afterwards, I toned down this highlight by adding some more shading, using a mix of Chaos Black and Nuln Oil, before re-applying the Space Wolves Grey to the lightest parts.

Once the reds were finished, the miniature really started to take shape.  I basecoated the red areas with Mechrite Red as a foundation and then layered Blood Red over it, completely covering the original layer before glazing it with (the frankly magnificent) Bloodletter.  Once this was dry, I worked the areas up to Blazing Orange.  The amount of Blazing Orange I used depended upon whether or not I wanted the finished area to look red or orange.  Finally, I edge-highlighted with Vomit Brown and then did an extreme highlight using a 1:1 mix of Vomit Brown and White Scar.

The 'clean' whites were very quick to achieve.  I began by basecoating them with Codex Grey before working them up to Fortress Grey and then finally White Scar.

After this, I painted the skulls - firstly by basecoating with a 1:1 mix of Codex Grey and Scorched Brown.  A shading wash was then applied, using a 1:1:1 mix of Scorched Brown, Chaos Black and Nuln Oil.  Next, three simple layers of Codex Grey, Fortress Grey and Dheneb Stone were added.  Finally, I worked the Dheneb Stone up to pure white by adding more and more White Scar over about three stages.  To give the skulls a little more colour I mixed a very thin blend of approximately 1:1 Nuln Oil and Biel-Tan Green and glazed the whole of each skull before re-applying the pure white highlight.

I'm usually quite messy with metallics, so normally I prefer to paint them first - but as they are such a small part of this miniature, I trusted myself to do them almost last this time.

The silver metallics were done using a mix of Chaos Black and Boltgun Metal, followed by highlights of Chainmail and Mithril Silver.  I added a light wash of Chaos Black at the end.

Finally for the metallics, I painted the gold areas with a mix of Shining Gold and Scorched Brown.  I washed the areas with a 1:1 mix of Scorched Brown and Nuln Oil before highlighting with Shining Gold, Vomit Brown, and then Mithril Silver.  Finally, I added a wash of Leviathan Purple.

I basecoated the face with a 1:1 mix of Tallarn Flesh and Calthan Brown, followed by a wash of thinned Dark Flesh.  I then began to build up the highlights with a 1:1 mix of Tallarn Flesh and Dwarf Flesh.  Next I added another wash, this time thinned Scorched Brown.  Next came a 1:1:1 highlight of Tallarn Flesh, Dwarf Flesh and Bleached Bone.

For the next highlight, I added more Bleached Bone to the previous mix before highlighting with pure Bleached Bone.  Finally I added a 1:1 extreme highlight of White Scar and Bleached Bone.

This technique for the skin was actually stolen from Anja Wettergren's brilliant 'Eavy Metal Masterclass on painting Sergeant Lorenzo from the latest edition of Space Hulk.

The hair was pretty much the last unpainted area left to work on, and that was simply a case of working up from Necron Abyss to pure Ice Blue before adding a wash of extremely thin Nuln Oil.  That said, at this point I don't think there was a single part of the miniature I was completely happy with, so I made a list (left) of everything that still needed working on, which took me a little while to get through!

Once I'd worked my way through this list, it was time to do the bases.  Because these miniatures were for display, I wasn't constrained by having to fit the bases with any pre-existing army.  Given this free rein, I decided to do something that I'd never tried before and create a Mount Doom-esque basing scheme that reflected the flames on Azrael's banner.

Now, I'm not going to pretend that this method was in any way my own.  In fact, I pinched it happily and wholeheartedly from two excellent blogs by Centerpiece Miniatures.  I'm not going to reha
sh it here because I totally recommend reading the excellent original articles.

For the rocks:

And for the actual lava:

Finally, once I was happy with the bases, I went back and did something extremely simple - but it was something which improved the look of the finished miniatures tremendously.  With nothing more than a thinned Bloodletter glaze, I coloured the undersides of the miniature with red to simulate the glow from the lava.  When you compare the image above to the final images, I hope you'll agree that this had a profound  effect on the finished piece and is proof of the importance of tying the look and feel of the miniature in with the base.

To finish, I just want to say that I really enjoyed painting this miniature as it allowed me to relax a little and enjoy the painting more than the previous one or two miniatures, especially with Sanguinius - which was tremendously straining, trying to paint almost an entire miniature in non-metallic gold armour for the first time in my life!  Yeargh!

Anyway, here are the finished images of Azrael and his helmet-lugging companion.  I hope you like them:

And that's it for the sons of Caliban for now, but I have a funny feeling that I'll be cracking open the Dark Angels Green again before too long...