TheChirurgeon’s Road Through 2023, Part 24: Final Prep for Atlanta

Welcome back, Dear Reader, to my ongoing chronicle of hobby and competitive progress through 2023. Last time around I talked about prepping for the upcoming GW Narrative Finale in Atlanta, and I built a display board. This time I’m going to finish talking about the work I’m putting in to try and win Best Painted at the event. It’s going to be a very hobby-heavy article this time around – but still a competitively-focused one.

Hobby Plan Recap

Let’s recap my plan for Atlanta with regard to hobby work. My goal is to win Best Painted, and that means I need a better-looking army than I had last year, when I did not win. That means I had work to do, and I basically divided this work into four steps:

  1. Build a solid display board – DONE
  2. Paint new models for the army to finish it off at a high standard
  3. Add character to the army – DONE
  4. Touch-up older models that aren’t up to my current standards

All of this is in service to ideally winning an award in the Best Theme category (as opposed to Best Display or Best Technical). In part one of my Atlanta prep I talked about building the display board I’d be taking to the event, while in part 2 I talked about adding character via small details that make it clear where each marine in the army comes from. Now it’s time to talk about fixing up old models and finishing off the army.

Reworking Older Models

Let’s talk about improving older models. As I’ve been doing this, I’ve been continually improving when it comes to modeling and painting. And that means I have a lot of older models which frankly either do not look great or which looked fine at the time but don’t meet my current standard or a paint standard I’m comfortable with. There are a number of things which may require fixing with them.

So let’s talk about an example. Specifically, I knew I wanted to bring some Forgefiends to the event, and I already had a couple. These:

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

These are largely fine. They had solid basing work, and some decent work on the skin and tubing. But there were a number of issues with them which would basically ding me if I tried putting them in a best painted army, specifically:

  • There were noticeable mould lines and gaps on prominent parts of the models
  • They had little to no shading on the black armor plating
  • They had no panel lining on the armor plating
  • The OSL work on the models was very weak, a product of me painting them 6 years ago
  • The bases weren’t super detailed and didn’t mesh with the rest of the army.

So I set about fixing these issues. I cleaned up the mould lines and filled the gaps, then I did some shading on the armor using Corvus Black, which mimics the style I use on my more modern black legion marines. I also did a thin line of Mechancius Standard Grey on the interior parts of the armor, and added a second highlight of Celestra Grey where I had some very prominent chaos stars. I also cleaned up and reworked the most visible parts of the models – the big chaos stars on their backs – adding some extra details and cracks.

The other big step was the Object Source Lighting (OSL). OSL effects are a very eye-catching feature and really help you when it comes to best painted judging. This is particularly true when it comes to mostly black armies like the Black Legion – it’s both easy to blend effects into black armor and also very helpful for making them seem more colorful. I’ve learned a lot about using contrast paint for OSL effects since I first painted these bad boys, and so I added a bunch more OSL to the underbellies of each model, taking care to add additional reflections where it made sense, and adding a bit of the hue to the basing as well to really sell the effect.

The net result really works to brighten up the models and the only shame is that you have to get down to model level to really see it, but it’s striking enough you notice from above and it draws you in to that level. I also touched up the Warpsmith a bit, adding some more OSL effects to him and doing a second pass at his highlights.

I did similar work on my Berzerkers, who needed the second level of grey highlights, then turned to my vehicles. Both my Rhino and my Land Raider needed some love. In the case of the Land Raider, I added a bunch of freehand details and runes to break up the monotony, and added some gray dust weathering to help it blend in with the display board and rest of the army. For my Rhino, I added shading to the chaos star painted across it and a second layer of celestra grey highlights. This was basically a process of shading inside the star with Imperial Fists Contrast paint and Fuegan Orange shade, then edge highlighting with Dorn Yellow.

With some extra time, I continued to add some new models to the army. I’d already done a Fallen for a how to paint article, but I had the bits to add an Iron Warrior as well to my standard Legionaries, so I made an autocannon guy. This was more complicated than it looks:

His legs are from one of the standard Legionary kits but his front torso is a plastic Mk III marine kit – one of the older ones that’s a bit small. I beefed it up by adding some green stuff to the sides, and then plopped a metal Iron Warriors helmet on top there. The arm is the standard Autocannon arm but I cut out the forearm and replaced it with some pieces of plasticard tubing from a Gale Force 9 kit to make an easy bionic arm. Add in some hazard stripes and you have a very recognizable Iron Warrior just hanging out in the legion.

Basically there’s a lot of this. I painted a few new models – A big axe Berzerker here, a Plague Marine there – but I’m still working on trying to get two Possessed done so I can have a unit to go with the Master of Possession I’m bringing, but I’m 50/50 on whether it will happen in time right now. I’ve also easily passed the 2,000-point mark, sitting at around 2600 points in my Order of Battle. But that’s also too much for my display board so something is going to be left in the case come judging just to avoid overcrowding.

Here’s where things currently sit, short two models and a couple units of things like Nurglings which won’t go up for display:

I’m going to pare that down a bit when I put the army on display – there are far too many models on there right now – but I’m pretty happy with how it ended up.

The Final Army

Alright let’s take some photos of these bad boys to show off my hard work. A lot went into this army and I’m extremely proud of how they look – my best army to date and it isn’t close. It’s still got decent power – there’s a unit of Forgefiends and Berzerkers and a big blob of Terminators – but it also goes hard on the theme in that I’ll have one unit of each god in every game I play. On the whole I’m very happy with how it turned out and excited to take it to Atlanta. The hard part will be traveling with it but I think it’s just small enough and infantry-heavy enough that it should easily fit into my large Citadel case.

Next Time: The Grand Narrative

That’s about all I have time for this time around. I’m still working on the Possessed but if I don’t finish them it won’t be a big deal. If I can find the time I may do a post from Atlanta, but more likely this is the last you’ll hear from me until next week at the earliest. If you happen to be in Atlanta this weekend, stop by and say hi. Otherwise, good luck with your games this weekend, wherever they are.

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