Tournament Painting Masterclass 10: Kris Mills – Imperial Fists
Kris was the winner of the painting competition and one of 3 imperial fist armies entrenched in the best army section. I caught up with him and, other than looking pretty perplexed, he was delighted at me showing interest in his army! His response is below!
In terms of hobby, I got into it in about 1996 at the end of primary school. There was a guy I was in school with who had been exposed to it from his older brother, and one day he took some models in. To my memory, they were some of the original Jes Goodwin Eldar Aspects and Karandras, seeing these, and hearing his (almost undoubtedly wrong and misunderstood) explanations on a dying space-elf race with cool tech did pique my interest somewhat. Things did not really come back together till I was visiting family far off in the Western Isles, and came across an independent hobby store which had some 40k. I ended up picking up some Genestealers and a metal Hive Tyrant and that was me, from there I was in and then came Fantasy, and specialist games and the like.
2. Why Imperial Fists?
Dreadnoughts and Terminators. When I began the Imperial Fists I had 3 active, usable 40k armies: White Scars, Eldar and Dark Eldar. I was feeling like doing another marine army, and really focusing on the things that were not in the White Scar army, and I feel the plastic Terminators, while not being the new shiny in terms of models, still stand up. Also dreads are one of those iconic 40k images, and other than an metal Chaos Dreadnought years ago I had never run them. Also having come from 3 fast armies with redeployment tricks and the like, I really fancied trying out a more static, defensive army with some counterpunch to see if I could run multiple playstyles.
I have always been a sucker for the First Founding Chapters, so looking at the keywords I had in mind for the army: Dreadnought, Terminators, defense, firepower, counterpunch, it came down to Imperial Fists or Salamanders. I had really thought I was going to go with the green guys, I have had them in mind for a while and did a few test models about 4-5 years ago, however, I bought the first models to try out paint schemes and just sat down and for some reason it seemed obvious that the army should be Imperial Fists, no idea why this seemed apparent, but that was the way it was, so yellow all the way.
There has been a few things over the years, I had traditionally never been someone who went out to produce the top tier army quality. I always got my armies pumped out at a good rate to something above tabletop quality to be able to play with a fully pained, nice army.
I spent several years working part-time at Games Workshop Edinburgh when I was at uni, and there I learned a lot from some very good painters, particularly one of the guys who I am really good friends with, Ian. My painting standard improved dramatically during that time, but my strength was really the speed/ quality tradeoff that I had in that I would be able to consistently deliver models quickly that were 6 or 7 out of 10, but never pushed myself to close the gap and put out things to the best of my ability.
This has changed a bit over the last few years, and with most things it has been the influence of others in my group. One of the gamers I regularly play with in Aberdeen, Jordon, is a really good painter, far better than me, and his quality had spurred me on somewhat to start putting out things that were near the top of my ability. Our group had started to play more outside of our area and go to tournaments and there was a few times I was sure he was a sure thing for best painted nods, but his army, while of extremely high quality, was full of subtle highlights and really nice touches which were brilliant at 6 inches away but just did not "pop" from 2 feet on the cursory glance a player may give it when looking for a best army.
This left me with a desire to have a new army which would both be of the best quality I could manage, but one that would also pop on the tabletop.
Also I have decided that for each new army I am going to do from now on, it is not going to be worth doing unless I am learning something new painting wise. For the Fists, it is my first time doing proper battle damage and using weathering powders in any fashion.
Not for this army, or this tournament, I took the my standard painted army with the addition of the Storm Talon to take it to 1850. There was nothing that I did not do as it would be an active army over a purely showcase/ cabinet army.
In terms of painting up to respond to the current metagame or different tournament environment I am somewhat hamstrung in that I am currently working overseas, as an engineer in West Africa, so to a certain extent I have to decide what I want painted in 6-8 months and take it all out with me and get it done. So I have the dual disadvantage that the quality I am aiming for is not the fastest to knock out and I have to get models out there to paint in the first place. So if i had a tournament I was coming home for in a month I would be stuck with what I had to a certain extent.
5. What was your toughest challenge in this army?
I had a couple of things that stick out. The first is that not too long after I had started the army GW came out with the new paints. So on the next trip home I picked up a couple for comparison as I knew that my remaining pots of GW yellow would not last and the new paints would become a part of my army. While the basecoat I was using, and the wash were close enough to be acceptable, the main yellow was significantly different, so I made the call to repaint the 15 Marines and Dreadnought I had already got to ~90% completion to ensure that the army would be consistent upon completion. In the end this was a brilliant decision, the new paints, particularly the yellow, are a joy to work with. I am not surprised that of the armies that were nominated 3 had Imperial Fists given the quality of the yellow available.
Secondly, for painting the yellow over a black undercoat it sometimes makes getting a nice, flat, even colour difficult. Particularly on the vehicles, so thin paint, multiple coats and patience becomes the watchwords.
I also had the most scary time I have had as a painter when trying out the battle damage techniques for the first time, using sponges and then later weathering powders. Having a fully painted, crisp, yellow, vehicle in my hands and getting ready to apply the damage and just thinking "if you mess this up, its not just a case of reundercoating, its reundercoating and then hours of getting it back to this state", so that sharpened the mind somewhat.
Lastly, painting Drop Pods, some of the least fun models I have ever had to paint. All that effort and you are only 35 points down in the army as well.
6. What painting project is next for you?
I have a few things bouncing through my head at most times, but I have yet to decide. There are currently three things, from both a painting and gaming view that appeal, however I am not fully decided as yet, so if you guys on the blog, or any of the readers want to chip in with their ideas on what to do next for my 40k army I would be happy to take up a challenge or idea from someone. The three in my head are.:
1. Traitor guard: seeing the Forgeworld traitor guard stuff has really got me excited. Show a turned regiment (probably Alpha Legion influence), get the opportunity to do an army with dirt, rust, damaged tanks but also to have a certain level of brightness with the cult symbols and Chaos markings. Doing tanks with actual camo schemes will also allow me to really improve my airbrushing skills.
2. Eldar: The idea I have is to do another bright army, but this time use a white undercoat (which I have never done, even for the White Scars) and experiment with glazes and inks. Also my current Eldar were painted and designed during 4th edition, so a new or repainted army would not go amiss. Hopefully the new Codex will be out this year, and I can combine it with some of the rather nice Forgeworld units that I have my eyes on
3. Dark Eldar: Even though my Dark Eldar army I currently have is quite recent, it was very much based on the first wave of models in the 5th edition environment, so is quite different than the army I would put together now from a gaming perspective. Also while the painting is solid, I am really wanting to push myself and at least match the Fists in quality. My thoughts would be an army with a bold, though muted colour, but really going to work on the extreme edge highlights (like most DE armies to be fair)
While these thoughts mature, I still have some more yellow Marines to paint, including the old pattern Predator and a Storm Eagle, both of which should take some of my time. Also on the non-40k side I am painting a home and away kit for my Orc Blood Bowl team, and updating my Necromunda gang.