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40k - Painting a Deathwatch Librarian

Updated on June 4, 2014
Deathwatch Librarian by Murphy
Deathwatch Librarian by Murphy

Introduction

Murphy, here, and I'm doing something completely different. I thought I'd show off a little bit of my painting skills! I've written over 50 articles about the game of Warhammer 40k, but I've never posted a visual resume of what this hobby means to me.

I've been playing this game for 20 years now, and painting miniatures a year longer than that. All that practice, all those models, and I think I'm getting pretty good at it. Enjoy the photos, check out some of my procedural descriptions, and please post questions or comments below. I'll offer any tips that I can!

This model was partially painted with an airbrush. I used my Grex airbrush to prime it, base coat it black, and then for the general glow of any source lighting. I then used the old fashioned detail brush to do all the details and edge highlights.

Deathwatch Librarian by Murphy
Deathwatch Librarian by Murphy

About the Model

First things first; a little background for this model. I started playing a 40k RPG by the name of Deathwatch. This is my character, Yegu, a librarian from the White Scars chapter of space marines. I wont go into his backstory, deeds, etc, but I will say that he's a little barbaric. The White Scars are a bit on the wild side when it comes to the Imperium, so I wanted my model to reflect that. They are all about The Hunt and, as a people, are constantly in motion. I hope this model reflects that movement as well.

The legs and torso of the model are from a Blood Angels sanguinary guard. I added a skull from a GW skeleton kit (shaved off to make the back flat) and a key from an Empire Flagellants kit. His helmet is from a chaos space marine kit, with the top knot cut off and repositioned backwards. The staff is from a Grey Knights kit, with a lot of extras added on to make it look shamanistic. The bolter (no sissy bolt pistol here!) is from a Space Wolves kit with bits added on the other side (another photo will show).

In all there were 14 bits added to this model from maybe 6-7 different kits. Have a question about a bit? Ask in the comments below and I will let you know.

Deathwatch Librarian by Murphy
Deathwatch Librarian by Murphy

By careful positioning of the arms and different bits, I tried to create a sense of weight and momentum with the model. Like any White Scar, he is charging forward with weapons blazing. The model itself is actually quite balanced, but I super-glued a nickel beneath the base for extra stability.

You can also see much of the source lighting at play in this photo, and all photos, if you look. The staff is letting off a bright blue light that is reflecting quite harshly across the white shoulder pad with the white scars emblem on it. Compare that to how the same light reflects off the black armor or the metal of the bolt gun.

The only "real" light on this model is a single white bulb I used to illuminate the entire model for the photograph. Any "spot" lighting is purely an illusion of paint.

Deathwatch Librarian by Murphy
Deathwatch Librarian by Murphy

The staff was given totems by using different bits. I actually used top knots from the chaos daemonettes kit, and feathers that I cut off the arms of chaos pink horrors. Sacrilegious, for a Librarian, I know! I also gave the model a tuft of native-animal fur over the White Scars pauldron. Notice how the white light hits the front of the tuft, while the natural brown shows through in the rear.

Also, the copper metalwork hanging from his backpack is another sign of his foreign culture. I tried to angle it so that it was swaying with the model, again to give weight and motion to the whole piece. I painted it some copper color and then washed it with Agrax Earthshade, then repainted it. I highlighted the edges with a silver metallic.

Deathwatch Librarian by Murphy
Deathwatch Librarian by Murphy

Object Source Lighting (OSL)

I wanted to push myself to the limit with this model, so I attempted, not one, but three OSL effects. The first source of lighting is environmental lighting from above. This model is completely black, but a vertical shot of pink illuminates all the raised surfaces of the model. Why pink? Somewhere I read that pink gives a better highlight to black than grey, and that it doesn't look pink in the end. Do you agree?

Obviously we also have the force staff as a source of lighting. I tried to angle the nozzle of my airbrush as close to the head of the staff as possible and then spray towards the model as if it were light from the staff. This gave the soft glow across the model, but it wasn't enough. I had to go back with a detail brush to hit the "hard" highlights and also to shade the shadowed areas to provide better contrast. I used GW washes Nuln Oil and Asurman Blue for any shadowed areas.

Deathwatch Librarian by Murphy
Deathwatch Librarian by Murphy

The third source of light is the embers at the feet of the model. I wanted my librarian to look like he was charging through an active battlefield, so I put an area of resin sand near the front of the base and "gooped" it up so that it was sticking to his foot. I imagine him running through a patch of embers, which kicks them into the air and ignites them again.

The orange glow was again done with the airbrush, but a detail brush was used to create the hard highlights. I thinned down the yellow paint with water so that it went on very smoothly. Each of those horizontal highlights is between 1 and 3 actual brush strokes with the thinned paint.

Also, the brightest part of the embers is another illusion, simply painted pure white on top of the yellow base. The key with embers, or any fire source, is that the "deepest" parts of it are the hottest, and also the brightest in color. As the embers, or fire, are separated they cool and darken. Always paint flames with the darkest colors on "top" and the brightest colors at the "bottom" or inside.

Deathwatch Librarian by Murphy
Deathwatch Librarian by Murphy

More Bits and Movement!

From this angle we see a few more of the bits I attached. First, we see the "normal" side of his blue helmet. Deathwatch marines all wear black armor, so I thought a librarian would have a blue helmet to signify his role. His force staff is illuminating the other side of his helmet so that it looks almost white, but here in shadow we see that it is blue.

We see his dueling knife at his hip, a remnant from his White Scars past. Also, the purity seal is from the Imperial Knight kit (they give you plenty). I positioned both of these bits in line together and with his outstretched arm to create more movement in the model. The parallel lines between each bit create that illusion.

I didn't want to spend the money buying a bunch of Deathwatch shoulder pads, so I made my own. I had this skull shoulder pad I got from a friend, and then I used a 1mm micro-pen to draw the Deathwatch grid and write "Purge" on the scroll. It's a little hard to read because the metal shoulder pad had a little ding in it that was unnoticeable to my eye until I put pen to it! Grrrrr...

Deathwatch Librarian by Murphy
Deathwatch Librarian by Murphy

My absolute favorite part of this model is the orange reflection on his gorget (collar). It brings the light of the fire up the model and puts it in direct contrast with the blue light from the staff and the environmental light hitting the black armor from above. I used the airbrush to do the orange glow, but it wasn't enough. It was too bland.

I had to use a wash of Nuln Oil on the top of each rivet, which was odd because usually you shade the underparts of any detail. Also on his gorget, the left side (our left) is being lit up by his force shaft, while the right side is in shadow. I really worked hard with washes to get this contrast to work. I probably spent thirty minutes on just this small section of detail, and it's my favorite part because of the result!

Rate My Paint!

4.1 out of 5 stars from 14 ratings of Murphy's Deathwatch Librarian
The model started as a pile of bits like this one!
The model started as a pile of bits like this one!

Conclusion

I hoped you enjoyed the visual journey through this model. A word or warning, not everything in my collection looks like this! I paint most of my models to tabletop quality so that I can get them on the battlefield and ready to play. Since this was a single model for an RPG, I thought I'd take the extra time and test myself.

What do you people think? You can rate my effort by using the stars at the right. After that, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this article. I will answer any painting questions anyone might have: equipment, techniques, etc. If you have criticism, I can take that too. I won't be changing anything, nor adding anything to this model, however I might be willing to try new things on future projects. I am always learning!

Thanks for reading. Murphy out!

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      Other Joe 2 years ago

      Great job Ben, I have seen this model in person and the pictures don't do it enough justice! I haven't even tried one source light with my airbrush and your already rockin three! I think one of the best things about a conversion is when all the pieces come together and look as if they were all in the same kit and you definitely did it! I will have to try the pink undercoat next time i do a black model, I love learning little tricks. All your stuff is painted great by the way, from the night lords to the tron dark eldar! I think your demon army is very impressive on the table though because of all the different colors it adds to the battle. So for this weekends battle I'm gonna bring a little of everything to test the new rules. 2 librarians, some drop pods, rhinos/razorbacks, bikes, storm raven, land raider, and maybe even the fortress of redemption. Not a very synergistic list but really want to hit all the new rules and play test/ try them out. I will bring my camera and we should grab the nicest terrain at the shop because two painted armies on the table look great! Do you need me to bring anything? How many points do you want to do? Earlier you mentioned your grex airbrush, I think the best one is the grex trigger model with the overhead gravity feed. I had the side flow model but after seeing yours I had to switch and I am really impressed with the performance. You use badger paints right? I will have to try those out, I have been using Vallejo model air. I think badger has better 40k style colors. I have also been using GW paints watered down with mixed results.

    • murphy80 profile image
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      Murphy 2 years ago from Florida

      Thank, Joe. Yes, I use Badger's Minitaire line of airbrush paints. They are pre-diluted for airbrushes, so I put a few drops in the hopper and get painting. They have a variety of bright "game" colors, along with a selection of darker colors for shadows and more "muddy" models. The Grex with the gun trigger and the overhead hopper is amazing! The paint hopper sits directly above the chamber on the airbrush, so you can use very little paint. Three or four drops is enough to fill the chamber and start painting... which is nice when you are constantly switching colors out for a single model like this!

      For our upcoming battle, I was thinking of trying a combination of new units, too. If I can get it based, I think I will bring . . . an Imperial Knight! Get ready for the super-heavy walker! I'll also be bringing some psykers, an FMC and maybe a tank! Are we building Unbound lists to just try everything out? Or are we going to stick with Battle-forged armies and see how this Objective Secured rule works?

    • profile image

      Other Joe 2 years ago

      I'm going to try to stay battle forged but bring whatever you want! It would be cool to see a super walker on the table, haven't faced one of those yet. I'm more interested in testing out the new rules and see how it changes stuff. That's why I thought of bringing the fortress of redemption. I have never used it before because I think it is a horrible waste of points (and still do), but I want to practice to use the building rules too....and it's already painted!!!

    • murphy80 profile image
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      Murphy 2 years ago from Florida

      Sure, bring the Fortress! I only thought to bring the Knight because A) it is NEW - we've never used super-heavy rules, and B) I might need something to smash AV 14 landraiders or fortresses :) We will see. I don't have it finished yet, though it looks pretty good. I was hoping to keep it hidden until it was a masterpiece!

    • profile image

      Other Joe 2 years ago

      You should bring it, I would like to see what it can do! Last time I saw it I thought it was almost done, if all that is left is the base, we will just take pictures from the knee up, lol!

    • AaronBurton profile image

      Aaron Burton 2 years ago from US

      Reminds me of kilgore from killer instinct for some reason. Very cool.

    • murphy80 profile image
      Author

      Murphy 2 years ago from Florida

      Thank you, Aaron! I appreciate the look and the comment. I can honestly say that it's the best miniature I've painted, after about 20 years experience!

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