Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Painting the Abyssal Warlord - a weighty issue!

If I’m not very careful to take regular breaks during my painting sessions I’m prone to a fair degree of shoulder pain on account of an old injury. So I make a point of taking time away from my models to move about and stretch. This has proven to be an effective solution and I can happily paint away with no trouble. Until I started painting the Abyssal Warlord that is!

What I didn’t take into account was that, as a white metal kit, the Warlord weighs a lot more than a plastic or resin model. My regular stretch breaks were not adequate and as a result I’ve had to endure a month and a half of shoulder pain. The lesson I’ve learned is to treat each model individually and pace myself accordingly. I’ve been able to carry on painting but only by restricting myself too much shorter painting sessions with this model. The weight also makes the Warlord awkward to handle as he’s very top heavy and painting him became a bit of a chore!

That’s a shame because in all other respects I think he’s a great model to paint and I’ve been very happy with how my paint job is developing. So I persevered and, once the cloak was attached making him even heavier, I was finally able to work on the sword and shield. This came as a great relief because I’d decided to paint these as sub assemblies so there were no more weight/balance issues.

I chose to paint both the sword and the shield predominantly in black. I made this decision based on how the overall colour palette and contrast were shaping up. I could have gone with the gold but rejected it on the grounds of it being too glitzy! Equally I could have gone with the steel but I felt this would be too much of the same tone as the rest of the armour.

The shield was something I’d been looking forward to. As a large flat surface it provided the perfect opportunity to paint a freehand design. This is something I’ve been itching to have a go at for some time. I’d considered doing it for my Farseer but, somehow, it didn’t feel right on him. Similarly I was going to paint an elaborate freehand on the Megaboss but decided to do something more appropriately Orky instead.

My choice of design was fairly straightforward. I wanted to develop the abyssal, deep sea, theme already featured on this model. So something fishy seemed appropriate especially because of the fish head motif on his armour. For the same reason, an anglerfish seemed like the best choice and so I searched online for suitable reference. Although there were plenty of photos to choose from what I found most useful in the end were tattoo designs. These had already undergone a process of stylisation which made them more appropriate to my needs. No single design was exactly right but I was able to take inspiration from a couple and combine them into something I liked.

My final anglerfish design incorporates an ‘S’ curve in it’s body with the head at the bottom. I had initially thought to have the head at the top but I found it more pleasing to sit the head in the curve of the shield’s lower edge. To tie it in with the overall scheme, I’ve painted the fish in the same blue as the cloak and the loincloth. The eyes have been picked out with the yellow/green tone that I used for the gold.

I was surprised at how quick it was to paint the fish. Starting off with a few guidelines, pencilled in white onto the black background, I gradually built up the design from a fairly rough start. As the design developed I resolved the form and contrast until I was happy with the result. The fish design became increasingly spiky, as this felt appropriate to the feel of the model.

With the sword and shield now glued in position there are just a few finishing touches to paint and then the Warlord will be ready for basing. With that end in sight I’ve started work on a base creating a hard cracked surface by gluing very thin sheets of milliput onto cork. The cracks are created by pressing through the brittle milliput into the flexible cork with a metal tool.

I’m now in the final stages of this project and very much enjoying the process of bringing it all together. And my shoulder is feeling much better too!


  1. Suffering for you art! Great freehand choice and execution.

  2. Love your work, inspirational. Do you have any WIP shots of the fish? I would love to see how you progressed from a sketch to the finished thing.

  3. Well painting at that skill level is quite a burden for anyone to shoulder... What? I like a good pun. Your work is stunning so pace yourself. The pressure to constantly create (especially from social media which has a voracious appetite but extremely short attention span) can be hard on any artist. Continue to stick to quality over quantity and we'll all be here no matter when you post :)