Rogue Trader Assassin

Assassin 1

I recently painted this Rogue Trader assassin model. I tried to paint him fairly closely in line with the classic Mike McVey paint scheme:

Assassin  - WH40K Painting Guide p 79
‘Eavy Metal Warhammer 40,000 Painting Guide, Mike McVey, Games Workshop Ltd, 1994, page 79 (ISBN: 1 872372 70 8) 

Whilst my blends aren’t quite up to Mike McVey’s standards, overall I’m fairly pleased with how he came out.

Assassin 2 close

The method used was basically just from a zenithal white over grey undercoat, paint the synth-skin with black ink mixed with GW Chaos Black. Then the whole model was dry-brushed with grey then white, very lightly.

Thereafter the details were picked out and then the synth-skin was covered in Black Ink mixed with Lahmian Medium and water.

After varnishing the synth-skin was covered in gloss varnish which, though it makes it damned hard to photograph him, looks pretty good in real life.


This is a great model, and the current assassin models all draw from it in some way. I think I did it justice, though when viewing these very large photographs there are, as always, many points for improvement noted for the future.

Assassin 5 jungle


Mike McVey’s Lizardmen vs. Estalians diorama

Mike McVey Lizardmen diorama 1 (Lizardmen Book)
Inside front cover of Warhammer Armies: Lizardmen by Nigel Stillman, Games Workshop, 1997 (ISBN: 1 872372 56 2)
Mike McVey Lizardmen diorama 2 (WD207(Oz))
White Dwarf Issue 207 (Australia) p. 74 (ISSN 0265-8712)

Mike McVey Lizardmen diorama 3 (WD207(Oz))

Mike McVey Lizardmen diorama 6 and 7 stitched (WD207(Oz))
Unfortunately a card insert has made the middle of the 2 pages impossible to scan without pulling the magazine apart.



Mike McVey Lizardmen diorama 4 (WD207(Oz))


Mike McVey Lizardmen diorama 5 (WD207(Oz))

More Blood Bowl Humans: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Gloss Varnish


2 blitzers, a thrower, and 2 nothings (sorry… linemen)

(…with apologies to Stanley Kubrick.)


These were painted some time back, but due to every toy soldier painter’s worst nightmare (Matt Varnish) their debut into the wider world has been severely delayed.

In toy soldiers there are 2 vigorously pursued topics. What counts as “power-gaming” and what doesn’t. And, how to avoid disasters with matt varnish.


Up until recently I had been relatively lucky. As a youngster I only really had plastic miniatures, and they were poorly painted, at best. They needed no varnish. As my painting developed I discovered a method (which has now been commercialised through Army Painter strong tone, and Devlan Mud before that) of base-coating the model then covering it with Chesnut Ink (oh how I wish GW still made the old Inks!! Nothing they have made since has been anywhere near as good and anyone who thinks it is better is just plain wrong!) and gloss varnish. Models were glossy, but they looked great.


Then matt varnish sprays came along. The GW version was rubbish. I think I still have a can, which was used once and never again. The same went for Army Painter when they released an aerosol version. They both left a slight frosty finish and have just been used for terrain until they ran out.

My problems were all solved, or so I thought, when I discovered Testors Dullcote, though its cancer causing properties have seemed to make it only sporadically available ever since. And the last time I used it, the dreaded frosty finish resulted.

I have experimented with artists matt varnishes to mixed effect. The brush-on varnish of choice in the UK seems to be Daler Rowney (which is not easily available in the Antipodes) however the need to decant it seems to be too much faffing about to me.


Eventually, I tried Vallejo brush on Matte Varnish and on an experimental figure I slathered it on as thick as I could, and it came up a treat. I did the same for these chaps, however, and disaster struck; after the varnish dried, they were all covered in a thick white film!

Number 10 linesman was subjected to all sorts of debased humiliations as I bathed him in various different solvents to try to remove the outer layer of varnish whilst leaving the paint underneath unaffected; all to no avail!


Eventually, I discovered that if the model was re-coated in gloss varnish the white stuff would be dissolved and the model, albeit now high-gloss, totally fine! Huzzah! These figures seemed cursed as 2 other methods of matt varnishing also failed. In all, these figures have about 15 coats of varnish on them! The colours have been slightly affected by the many layers of varnish the light must reflect through.

The white stuff, I gather, is matting agent. Basically talcum powder or something similar dissolved in the carrier. It works by making the surface of the model (imperceptibly) rough, so light is absorbed instead of being reflected. Gloss varnish creates a perfectly smooth surface hence light bounces off. I guess this is why people decant their matt varnish, to get the ratio of matting agent perfect.

Instead, I discovered Tamiya Flat Clear in aerosol cans, and if they ever stop making this stuff  I will just live with super-shiny models. I have used Tamiya Flat Clear in all sorts of inappropriate conditions with no ill effect. It is the most flat varnish I have ever used. In all, it is perfect. That being said, I have noticed it seems to be taking more and more coats to cover up the gloss effect and sometimes the models still have a slight sheen (see my Estalians for example)….. damn! Does this torture never end?

The whole team so far


Anyway, my current method is as follows: coat the figure in 3 coats of Feast & Watson high gloss polyurethane varnish leaving at least 24 hours between each coat. Always buy the smallest tin possible because it seems to go yellow if left in the tin unused for a long time. After that, spray with one or two coats of Tamiya Flat Clear.

I have tried Feast & Watson matt polyurethane as a brush on matt varnish and it was fine except that it seemed to be somehow even more glossy than the gloss varnish. The same phenomenon was observed with Wattyl Matt Estapol which was recommended on WargamerAU. Hmmm.



Some Estalian arquebusiers painted recently. Painted in the style of the soldiers from the famous Mike McVey diorama made for the release of the Lizardmen. I will post some scans of that shortly.

The back row


Colours used:

The model was base coated, then the whole model apart from the ruffs, sleeves, and any other bits that would be pure white, was washed with a mix of GW Flesh Ink thinned out with GW Lahmian Medium, water, dishwashing liquid, and GW ‘Ardcoat (gloss varnish).

Skin: Dwarf flesh washed   as above, then highlights with Dwarf Flesh, Elf Flesh, then Elf Flesh with white added, up to a final highlight of pure white.

Red: GW Scab Red highlighted with GW Evil Sunz Scarlet, then Evil Sunz Scarlet mixed with GW Blazing Orange up to pure Blazing Orange

Yellow: GW Sunburst Yellow mixed with GW Lamenters’ Yellow (Ink/Wash/?) and GW Skull White then more and more white added to highlight after the wash.

Buff sleeves and hose: Foundry Buff Leather triad, with white added for the final highlights.

White Hose: Foundry Canvas triad.

White: White zenithal undercoat. GW Asumen Blue Ink painted into folds and recesses, the GW Skull White to highlight.

Leather pouches &c.: Coat d’Arms Barbarian Leather with white added to highlight. GW Bestial Brown with white added to highlight used for variation if needed.

Gold: GW Brazen Brass then GW Shining Gold.

Metal: GW Boltgun Metal then GW Mithril Silver

Firearm stocks: Bestial Brown or Barbarian Leather then fine lines of Foundry Canvas, GW Bleached Bone, Foundry Buff Leather added.

Black lacquered armour: GW Chaos Black, highlighted GW Fortress Grey. After varnishing, GW ‘Ardcoat applied to re-gloss.

Pinstripes(hose): fine lines of GW Asurmen Blue.


Infuriatingly, I only realised when varnishing them that I had forgotten to paint the pinstripes on their hose. The only one who got pinstripes was the test figure. Oh well, c’est la vie; I have 20 more, plus command figures, to paint so when they are all done these ones without the pinstripes will just add to the variety….


Back of Beyond: Indyah Jonas, Female Adventuress (somewhere in Central Asia, c. 1921)

Indyah Jonas explores the jungle…. (Click for a bigger version)

I recently painted this gorgeous Copplestone Castings female adventurer from Mark Copplestone’s Back of Beyond Range  for the Lead Adventure Forum Back of Beyond Painting Club. She is entry Number 9.

I am fairly pleased with the painting…. though if you look closely she is unfortunately a bit cross-eyed!

The base is an MDF disk with a magnetic sheet on the bottom. It is from Olympian Games. I rather like it and if it weren’t for slottas/tabs on most of my miniatures I would be tempted to use them for everything. More experiments to follow…. next time though I will order the thinner bases, at least for historical figures anyway…

Back of Beyond is a fascinating setting for wargaming. It is a period I would love to devote some time to (right after I finish the Classic 40K, Classic Warhammer Fantasy, WWII, Napoleonic, and Ancient Romans…..!). I knew nothing at all of this period until a few years ago when I saw the miniatures on Mr. Copplestone’s website. I understand Mr. Copplestone himself was inspired to start the range after reading Setting the East Ablaze: Lenin’s dreams of an Empire in Asia by Peter Hopkirk. I have recently been reading about the downfall of the Romanovs (The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore and Towards the Flame by  Dominic Lieven) and one of the questions that intrigued me the most was, What happened next to the White Russians? Combined with the fact that Mr. Copplestone is one the absolute best in the game of miniature design, perhaps expect to see more Central Asian content on this blog in due course.

Close up – click for a bigger version. Copplestone Castings BC19 Female Archaeologist, sculpted by Mark Copplestone.

Colours used were as follows:

Flesh: GW Dwarf Flesh washed with thinned GW Flesh Wash to shade, highlighted with GW Elf Flesh with white added for highlights all the way up to pure white. The lips were painted with GW Emperor’s Children (Tentacle Pink).

Hair: Painted GW Sunburst Yellow then covered with red ink. Highlighted with GW Blazing Orange then GW Sunburst Yellow.

Shirt (and cloth on the helmet, forget the word for it now…): From white zenithal undercoat the creases were shaded with GW Asurmen Blue (ink) then the shirt was highlighted with pure GW Skull White. I then tried to make it look sheer by painting thinned GW Elf Flesh on the breasts and on her shoulder blades (let me know if you think it came out…).

Trousers: Foundry Buff Leather triad with Skull White for the final highlight.

Leather belt, pouches, &c.: Coat d’Arms Barbarian Leather shaded by Coat d’Arms Chestnut Ink and highlighted by adding white.

Boots and Pith Helmet: GW Bestial Brown. The boots then highlighted with Coat d’Arms Barbarian Leather up to pure white in such a way as to mimic shininess. The helmet was then painted in Barbarian Leather with highlights up to white leaving Bestial Brown just in the crevices.

Again, click for a bigger version…

The Alternative Townhouse

The alternative townhouse

Not a house where…. alternative… things happen, but rather the Citadel Townhouse from the old modelling articles by Phil Lewis and Dave Andrews. This article appeared in White Dwarf 137 and in addition to the ordinary templates, it also featured templates for an extension to the townhouse, which was called the “alternative townhouse”. Being that I had very limited experience of building scenery, naturally I went for that option; and these are the results.

The only differences from the templates are the addition of the dormer windows and the windows under the gable on the end of the house.

Overall the construction was fairly easy. I blew the templates up to A3 size on a photocopier, and traced them for the walls. Otherwise I didn’t really measure anything, just using eyeballing to hopefully give it that slightly ramshackle Warhammer look (that’s the excuse anyway). I constructed it all from foamboard, which I found to be exceedingly easy; it was much faster to construct the basic structure than was the cardboard formers used in the barn and it weighs much less, though it is also much less sturdy.

Fantasy townhouse WIP 1
Foamboard and balsa
Fantasy Townhouse WIP 2
Blue insulation foam was carved for the chimneys

The only things that gave me any real trouble were the details. It took a while to work out how to do the windows properly; there being, of course, no explanation in the article. I also, on the spur of the moment, added dormer windows when I coincidentally had some offcuts that seemed the perfect shape to do it.

I used vinyl flyscreen to make the leaded windows….


…..following month after fruitless month searching for aluminium or steel mesh…. I know it exists; just not in Australia, and if ordered on the internet I only seemed to get mesh that was far, far too fine to use for, well for anything really.

I also think that next time I would use thick card instead of balsa wood for the timbering, as the balsa is too thick and stands proud of the plasterwork by no small amount. It makes the house look more like a modern mock-Tudor (where the timbering is purely decorative) when on a real Tudor house the timbering would be flush with the plasterwork as the timber was actually load-bearing and part of the walls (some pictures below illustrate what I mean).

Real Tudor timbering
Fake Tudor timbering

Once constructed, I covered the whole structure (apart from the windows) in gloop (a mix of PVA, sand, filler, and water) as recommended on Tony Harwood’s blog. At first I wasn’t too sure about this, but it actually worked out quite well in the end. I think I should have left the roof tiles clean though…. or perhaps use a finer grade of sand. I would definitely use a finer grade of sand or no sand at all on the roof if I was planning to paint the roof as slate (which I was for this model – to give it that 5th edition Warhammer look – but it turned out I had run out of blue paint so they became clay tiles instead).

WIP painting

Overall I’m fairly pleased with how it turned out and I learned a lot. I cannot recollect how long it all took (I don’t really want to add it up, to be honest) but I know the next one will be a breeze…. which is the idea, I guess.

I must also add, this is the only example of the “alternative townhouse” I have ever seen. The end chimney was also my addition, as were the decorative timbers; it felt too bland otherwise.

The doors are Milliput


Unfortunately I can only use flash photography at the moment….
…which has rather washed everything out….
….and made it appear far more glossy than it really is….
I also based it, which given I intend it to be a country manor seems appropriate, though future houses will not be based so that they can be used in both urban and rural settings.

These are some pictures from the articles itself… I think it turned out well all in all.

Fantasy townhouse Phil Lewis
From the article


Fantasy townhouse Phil Lewis White Dwarf 137 back cover low res
The back cover of White Dwarf 137





Some quick photos

Two figures recently finished (but yet to be varnished).

A Citadel Estalian arquebusier (I believe sculpted by Michael Perry) quickly painted as a test figure (I have 9 more primed!) for a planned regiment for my Empire army. I painted him quickly so as to get him in the Lead Adventure Forum Pikes Muskets and Flouncy Shirts Painting Club (entry Number 56).


The paint scheme is based on the scheme Mike McVey used in his diorama created for the release of the Lizardmen in 1995(?). I will post some scans of that when I have  varnished and taken some better photographs of this figure.


I am fairly happy with how he turned out, especially as I painted him so fast (2 evenings – astonishingly fast for me).


Finally some classic 40K returning to this blog (it is always closest to my heart though…): an Imperial psyker. I painted him a while back for a Random Platypus Forum Paint-a-long but to get him in in time I left some details unfinished. However Asslessman recently painted up some absolutely gorgeous examples which inspired me to finish him off.


He represents the Evil Lord Varlak (see White dwarf 187), before his descent into madness and heresy. I will post more of that story when I varnish him and take some better photographs.


Overall I’m fairly happy with him, and tried to follow the classic Eavy Metal scheme reasonably closely – though I felt he should have yellow chamois gloves (all gentlemen should really).