Hive Fleet Celaeno



a minor hive fleet active in a cluster of dim stars, 

emerging from dark waters in the half-light of day, 

twisting and coiling in frail gravity.

...a perfect biological laboratory...

 ...a unique set of forces converge here... 

...creating a major biological alliance...

...any waste is recycled...

...the tentacles draw the victim into the central mouth...

 ...as they evolve, each new branch represents a new species, diverging and growing evermore separate from its ancestors...

...can create colonies by cloning exact replicas of themselves...

...their strategy is mass production...

...millions of eggs, so that enough survive to drift across...

 ...the predators gorge themselves, but the mass-spawners will succeed...

...a clean slate never stays clean for long...

...can spawn all year round, because there are no seasons...

...its maze-like structure... a three-dimensional puzzle...

...but mass spawning creates plenty of chances to create hybrids...

...a hybrid makes an unusual addition to the family tree...

...whenever species interbreed, the branches reconnect...

...hiding away, they can feed and grow safe from predators...

...much about this relationship remains a mystery...

(the army is complete, at last)

(quotes from an old Terran preacher)


Hive Fleet Celaeno painting recipe


- I clean mould lines pretty thoroughly and aggressively.
- I glue the models with plastic cement (Revell Contacta) or with plastic cement mixed with mould line / sprue shavings.
- Where gaps would be visible and undesirable, I use a lot of glue and after it dries, I shave off the excess plastic goo (where this is not possible, I fill the gaps with Green Stuff and / or Milliput).
- I drill gun barrels, 1 mm drill bit for (heavy) venom cannons, 2 mm drill for fleshborers, even larger one for deathspitters.
- After basing (see below), I wash minis in water + dish soap using a toothbrush.

- I make Oyumaru moulds of some stones and create larger rocks from Milliput.
- I make smaller pebbles from Milliput.
- I glue big rocks to bases with superglue.
- For places where I want to have water, I use sand paper (500 grit, then 1000 grit) to smoothen the base surface.
- I cover bases with superglue, and sprinkle them with small pebbles and sand / baking soda mix.

Paints needed:
Sprays: white with a smooth finish (Citadel White Scar), matt / satin varnish (Citadel Munitorum Varnish).
Acrylics: black (VMC Black, Scale75 Black), white (VMC White), warm off-white (VMC Pale Sand), dark red (VMC Dark Red), turquoise (VMC Turquoise), warm bright red (VMC Scarlet Red); sporadically: olive green (VMC Middlestone), brownish orange (Secret Weapon Orange Rust), tan (VMC Dark Sand).
Washes: light sepia (AP Light Tone), red (AP Red Tone), blue (AP Blue Tone).
Finish: gloss varnish (AP Gloss Varnish), matt varnish (AP Matt Varnish), blood effect (Citadel Blood for the Blood God).

No airbrush. Unless noted otherwise, every step is just 1 coat of paint. Unless noted otherwise, I use my paints with relatively thick "layer consistency" / "basecoat consistency".

I apply washes to the whole area (not just recesses). I use several washes at the same time. I don't mix them on the palette, but let them flow into each other on the mini.

- I undercoat with Citadel White Scar spray (pretty heavily, so that even recesses are white).
- I basecoat the bases with warm dark grey (VMC Black + VMC Dark Sand), watery consistency (almost like a wash).
- I drybrush the bases with brighter grey (VMC Black + VMC Pale Sand).
- I drybrush the bases here and there with VMC Pale Sand.
- I toothbrush splatter diluted pale grey (VMC white + VMC black) and VMC Pale Sand (in any order, pretty heavily).

Reds, except vents:
- I basecoat with purplish / brownish colour (VMC Dark Red + VMC turquoise, somewhat watery layer consistency. I can try mixing wet on wet on miniature to get more bluish shadows and more reddish highlights).
For later highlights, I use layering (stippling motions or feathering where necessary) or drybrushing:
- I highlight everything except the recesses with VMC Dark Red.
- when I need to blend red into white, I drybrush the border area with VMC Dark Red + VMC Pale Sand.
- I highlight with VMC Scarlet.
- (optional) I wash with AP Red Tone and AP Blue Tone (at the same time).
- (optional) I highlight with VMC Scarlet again.
- I spot highlight / edge highlight with peach colour (VMC Scarlet + VMC Pale Sand)

Whites, except teeth:
- I wash lightly, mostly with AP Light Tone + VMC Glaze Medium, here and there with AP Blue Tone + VMC Glaze Medium and AP Red Tone + VMC Glaze Medium (all washes at the same time, letting them mix on the mini).
- I wash vents with AP Red tone (while doing so, I can also fix any areas that didn't get the wash by mistake in the previous step).
- I glaze highlight with VMC White + water. This takes several layers and maybe some feathering, depending on my patience. Brightest spots and edges can be painted with layering-consistency white.
- weathering: I stipple very subtly, here and there, VMC Black.

- I stipple very subtly, here and there, brownish orange (Secret Weapon Orange Rust).
- I stipple very subtly, here and there, olive green (VMC Middlestone).
- I paint water using loaded brush (diluted paint, VMC Middlestone + VMC Turquoise + VMC Black, flow marks are a feature, not a bug).
- I paint base rims black.

- I stipple or drybrush VMC Black (over white, at any moment after white was washed).
- I edge highlight VMC Black + VMC Pale Sand.
- (optional) I paint the second edge highlight with a brighter mix of VMC Black + VMC Pale Sand.


- I paint them with VMC black (after the surrounding area was painted and washed; don't paint the edges of the eye).
- I add a single spot of white paint.

(after the mouth was painted and washed:)
- I paint each tooth separately with VMC Pale Sand.
- I highlight with VMC White (or just paint them with one coat of white and forget Pale Sand).

- I lightly spray with Citadel Munitorum Varnish; wait for it to dry.
- I paint eyes and select fleshy parts with VMC Gloss Varnish (don't paint the edges of the eye).
- I use 2-3 coats of VMC Gloss Varnish on water on the bases.
- (optional) I add one more layer of white or black to the tips of horns, spikes, etc. to avoid paint damage, and then cover them with VMC Matt Varnish.
- I use Citadel Blood for the Blood God in the recesses around the spine and inside the chimney vents.


ten thousand years


Longevity feels exciting at first, but you get used to it after a millenium or two, tops.


Closing the gap, ever

So far towards the horizon, we don't meet people. Only monsters fighting monsters fighting monsters.

Strange physiques. Picking a side is an exercise in creativity, nothing more.

Perched high upon my steed, I survey another battlefield.

Will we get to the end, ever? Or will we succumb to our ailments?  

(flutter of wings)

(warcry is fun)

(bone obelisk by wilhelminiatures)


The Igumen

We revere humanity. Serenity is human; enlightenment is human; and fury, as well, is equally human.

- igumen Anfortas


There are statues on the shore

There are statues on the shore and they have been there longer than we can remember. But every year there is a morning when you realize the statue is slightly different than yesterday: different reliefs on the sculpted armour, a subtle difference in pose, perhaps even a slight change in size. There has been a change of the guard.



Behold the primogen now, she is just like you.
Crawling through the living ship,
feeling the heartbeat of the things to come,
once the slumber is over.

- rite of Cantor Cassandra



We knew they were no ordinary soldiers, these allies of us. Their military prowess was well known to be superhuman. In retrospect, it was a folly to expect them to be just as human as you and I.


Agrax vs AP Strong Tone vs paint wash

I've had some problems with my Army Painter Strong Tone wash. It gave my miniature a glossy finish and left beige frosting in the recesses. I asked around and was advised to shake my wash bottle well before washing. It was good advice and it worked – to a point; there was still some gloss and frosting left. So I started thinking of switching to another brand.

Pictured below: frosting

But first, I wanted to check how different brands work out. I took four miniatures for my RRT infantry unit. One was washed with Citadel Agrax Earthshade (A), one with Army Painter Strong Tone (ST; I mean the acrylic wash in a dropper bottle, not the Quickshade dip), one with thinned down paints (P, the paints used were VMC beige brown mixed with VGC black), and for comparison I left one not washed (NW).

I sprayed the minis black, then white. I painted the uniforms in two very thin coats of my olive drab mix. The armour was done with a number of thin coats (maybe they count as glazes) using mixes of white, black, and turquoise.

For the wash, I shook each bottle for at least 30 seconds, and I followed Duncan's tutorial as well as I could – applying the wash with a larger brush, quite generously, and moving the paint around to prevent pooling.

I took photos in daylight and used no photo correction software. The colours look more or less like in real life, but sadly, it's also pretty hard to notice minute detail. This may mean the photo quality is really bad, that the imperfections that bothered me aren't that noticeable and important, or both.

Above: at arm's length, unwashed miniature looks significantly brighter and somewhat more like painted plastic. Both brown washes look similar – making the mini look more brown, darker, slightly weathered, more interesting; at the same time keeping the white armour pristine and striking where needed. Agrax may have a more pronounced effect, but the difference is slight. Then, homemade paint wash makes the mini darker, dirtier, and muted.

Neither wash made the mini more or less glossy – all models ended up with a satin finish.

Above: for the mini with no wash, from up close, the uniform looks somewhat boring and artificial, like green army men. Through the paint, you can see the speckled undercoat and it feels a quite jarring. Sometimes in the deep recesses you can see a brighter line (e.g. below the left leg pocket), but it's almost invisible, especially in the photos. This seems to be a natural effect of light.

Above: after AP strong tone wash, the armour looks a bit dirty and worn, and the shading is pretty subtle. For the uniform, most recesses are darker and more pronounced, but sometimes, like above the fold on the left leg, it's quite the opposite, with lighter brown frosting where a shadow should be. Elsewhere the wash simply didn't get inside the recess – like on the side of the canteen. I don't know what happened to the spaces between the left hand's fingers, but they are brighter, too.

Above: for Agrax, there's little difference for the shading of armour. Most visible are the shaded recesses on the uniform – they're significantly darker when compared to the AP strong tone paintjob. Still, some recesses look brighter than their surroundings (one of the folds on the left leg, spaces between fingers) – but this effect is less pronounced than for AP wash.

Above: After the paint wash, armour looks the most rough, but also the most painterly and, arguably, most interesting. It resembles old stone. The uniform looks darker too, but not that attractive. It's as if AP and Citadel washes made the miniature look less plastic and more real, while the paint wash didn't. Most dark recesses are really dark, but you get also random effects where you can see the underlying paint, and it's more pronounced than in ready-made washes – especially on the back of the head.


What wash would I recommend? Neither is perfect, at least not after a single layer. Home-made paint wash makes for a pretty good stone texture, but doesn't feel like a good choice if the army is supposed to look striking on the tabletop; later on, even after edge highlights, the armour looked grey, not white. Then,at arm's length, there's little difference between AP strong tone and Agrax, but from up close, the latter looks more interesting and reliable, with no visible frosting.

So, for painting military uniforms and white armour, the winner is Citadel Agrax Earthshade. Still, it's probably worth to experiment with different (and slower, alas) techniques to get more reliable results with stronger contrasts – maybe with oil washes (not that I'm a fan of oils), maybe with targeted washes, maybe with good old layering or feathering.

And you – do you have your favourite wash recipes?