[40K] Hive Fleet Níðhöggr – Punk Art Tyranids

I’m going to interrupt the Settling Series today, since I’m feeling all excitable and want to get something out of my system.  Trust me when I say that the upcoming Settling posts will unpack all this bad noise about conflicting goals in depth and detail, and apply them specifically to Choosing A New WFB Army; for now, here’s the deal with 40K.

I had an Ork army which I wanted to do, which would have had a lot of narrative investment, a lot of conversions and unique stuff, and generally been fun, but it would also have had a high buy-in cost and probably been very frustrating on the table.  I currently have a Tyranid army which is, so far, quite good on the table and easy to plan in financially manageable chunks, but which I’m having trouble painting and personalising.

N++’s Punk Art posts are helping me identify and articulate the problems with painting the Tyranids, which are thus:

  1. it’s an assembly line process, which I have a nasty feeling will always be the case with any army scale game,
  2. in trying to match real beetles, I’m not entirely doing the Tyranid anatomy justice, although I’m gradually learning to address that as I tinker with the methods I’m using,
  3. while I’m experimenting with methods that are new to me I’m doing it in a very uncoordinated way.

The last point needs unpacking and thinking about, and the kind of thinking which it provokes doesn’t fit into the list, so:  I’m trying out a sort of cross between the methods in Dave’s first article; the latest batch of Nids have been done with blue washes over gesso, with a few spits and spots of bright orange to pick out the eyes and biomorphs.  It’s a sort of Sin City in blue tones concept that takes account of colour theory.  It has too many variables and, as an experiment, it’s a mess.  On top of that, I think I still have a lot of the scenester programming in me that makes me look at the ‘all shades of blue’ and think ‘unfinished and bland’ rather than ‘hey, that’s different’.  It’s quite hard to shake that insistent inner voice saying that it’s not done unless it’s done the way everyone does it (three colours, Codex or near-Codex scheme, washed and highlighted).

This, right here, is why I don’t like having to think too hard about painting.  It gets in the way of actually painting, and that’s problematic because… well, I’ve been anguishing to the saintly Hark about this for a few days now, and she gave me a long look yesterday and asked “Boyf, do you actually enjoy painting?”

Truth is, I don’t.  At least, not always.  I like doing single models or very small groups.  Mostly, though, painting is an inconvenient journey between two things I actually enjoy (modelling and playing).  Dave’s dead right about assembly line painting being soul-destroying, but it’s a trap that I can’t really avoid putting my foot in.  See, I like army scale games.  I like playing them with painted models.  I like the sense of achievement from knowing that I painted the models myself.  I really like modelling.  I just don’t like the process of painting lots of models in the same scheme and style, and when you have your initial 1000 points to do, in a high-model-count army, that sort of comes with the territory.

The Tyranids have financial appeal, tactical appeal, modelling appeal, but they don’t have the opportunities for personalised narrative or the aesthetic variety that I need – unless, perhaps, I were to take a cue from second edition and paint each unit however I damn well please.

Maybe not.  My instinctive reaction there is ‘rainbow vomit’.  I don’t know if that’s an honest reaction, or what the gaming/painting scene has taught me to think about anything that challenges the wall of drab.  After all, my Cryx have at least four different schemes involved, and they look good; I had a Chaos army that had a very similar sense of variety to it.  The thing is, I don’t know if that works for Tyranids – but is that ‘doesn’t work for Tyranids’, or ‘doesn’t work for the painting meta that says Tyranids need to be a uniform horde’?

Only one way to find out.  Remember those beetles? Well, I was originally thinking about choosing between them, but… well, why should I have to?  I have three Tyranid ‘types’ in the army so far, so how about treating each of them as a different subspecies within Tyrannus Níðhöggra and painting the blighters differently?  At the very least, I can pick different accent colours for different Tyranid types to stop myself chewing the bed with boredom…

(since I’ve started them that way)
Stealers (something about
the pattern suggests a good fit with
‘stealer anatomy)

That Warrior idea might be going a bit far; if I were to trade in the purple for a dark blue then they’d all have at least one colour in common.  Of course, I’ll also have to find another scheme I like for the Carnifex and/or Trygon sub-species.  The tiger beetle on the left there is kinda sexy and I think I can see him as a Tyrannofex without too much effort.  A Trygon would have to have a similar variety of tones; they’re far too big and mean-lookin’ to get away with just two colours on (or is that the conditioning talking?)

I’m resisting the urge towards a spotty Trygon.
For now.

It’s still not quite Punk Art, though, is it?  It’s still theorised, researched, planned and pretty much not spontaneous at all.  Worrying about whether you’re doing Punk Art right probably proves that you need to do it… why am I so uptight about these ‘nids?  Is it just that I don’t want to ruin models that I intend to game with by doing something that I’m not sure will work?  I’m pretty sure it’s not.  I’ve experimented with Warmachine figures – albeit after three years of learning how to paint them.  Maybe it’s just that I’m new to the Tyranids and haven’t got a feel for the models yet.

Is there a place for research if you’re trying to paint from the heart?

For that matter, is this something you can try to do at all?

6 thoughts on “[40K] Hive Fleet Níðhöggr – Punk Art Tyranids

Add yours

  1. >That you're thinking about it means that it matters… and that's the very definition of punk- being mad about something that matters, yes? The three themes appeals to me on a 'hey, that's neat' impulse. The 'however you damn well please' idea also has merit on the 'eff 'em' scale. I did an entire Orky army in the most garish, ugly, rainbow vomit colors ever- and I loved every minute of them. They were FUN. Walk away from the paints for just a minute and ask if there's a way that Nids could be fun for you… decked out as Aliens? Made pink & frothy? Circus theme? What would be fun? – Then damn what the Meta says, DO IT.

  2. >I've been in close to the same situation; I like to paint more than I like to build, but hate the idea of doing a "just good enough" job. I want it to look *good* and not look like just enough paint to get it on the table. When I started my nids I agonized over the beetle patterns too, but realized just how much work doing an ornate pattern would be on the inevitable long assembly line. I had a rough time getting full squads painted for both my Eldar and Sisters because I enjoyed painting each model to a high standard. What I've found works is to write down each step in the workflow, and then only do 1-2 steps at a time for as many models as I can, and then just progress through the workflow. The other quirky part is I SUCK at bases like nobody's business; as you've noted, 'nids aren't great at being personalized, but the bases are one spot that can definitely be used to make individual models stand out. One other thing I do with nids is try to make at least one model be converted beyond the normal stances/positioning so even within the horde, there is at least one or two that stand out. I'll be posting about my hive guard fairly soon for example. I'd recommend checking out another blog, The Dead Tau Project; an eldar blogger/podcaster (Gamers Lounge) who uses Tau bodies on most of his bases (lol) as an idea. In my fluff, my hive fleet is an Inquisition screwup; I just need to figure out how to make the Inquisition "tags" and broken manacles, etc.. Keep your head up – push through a bit at a time. Best advice I can give. I'm doing a blue/orange theme too =p

  3. >When I talk about "punk", I want to suggest that you express yourself, nomatter what others think.To properly express yourself, you feel you want to bring real beetles to life in your Nids – research is an excellent way to do this. While your first batch may be more like practice, once you begin getting into your groove, it'll come more naturally.Painting from the heart, however, doesn't necessarily mean painting with no preparation, planning or practice.Feel free to send me an email if you want to bounce some ideas off me.

  4. >@Ghostin: that's close to what I've been doing; the scheme is boiled down to as few stages as possible while still looking acceptable, and I'm trying to power through and finish five Gaunts at a time. I might try your way and – for example – glaze as many of the blighters as I can, doing one stage on as many models as possible, and then knocking off. Is that what you're suggesting?

  5. >Yup, you got it. You don't necessarily have to boil the number of stages down, just be willing to do a technique over and over (and over). It can be kinda monotonous, but very nice to put the paints away with 10-20 models advanced through a stage or two. Progress by itself I find to be motivating. It also gives you a chance to innovate and learn/practice with the technique.

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