It’s not just a review, and it’s not just a painting guide; it’s a TGN Review N’ Paint. TGN’s Enrico Nardini reviews the Dark Eldar Haemonculus and takes you step-by-step through his painting process.
I think it is safe to say that most many of our readers love miniatures. I know I do. With that in mind, this is a feature I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. My hope is that in a few installments, I will get the kinks out and produce 1-to-2 of these each month. Review N’ Paints will feature a figure review with a brief tutorial on my approach to tackling the figure in question. I’ll also state for the record, that I am not a pro-painter. I’m a writer who loves painting miniatures. If you approach this as a journeyman's guide, you won't go far wrong.
TGN readers may already be familiar with the recent feature I wrote on the Dark Eldar Haemonculus and Wracks. In that article, I related these figures to the Cenobites of The Hellbound Heart and Hellraiser fame. I am a huge fan of both, and I snatched up a Haemonculus just for the sake of painting it.
The Haemonculus is a heroic 28mm miniature produced for Games Workshop’s Dark Eldar miniature line. The figure is cast in hard plastic (polystyrene) on a single sprue and comes with a separate 20mm circular base. Opening the miniature I had two immediate impressions: 1. The figure is highly detailed and well-cast. All the details are clear and nicely defined; the mold lines are very faint. 2. There are a ton of parts. I don’t know that I can recall a single plastic wargaming figure this size, constructed of so many pieces.
Now, all these pieces are not necessarily a bad thing. The process for making a kit like this, with limbs cutting across multiple planes, requires it. I’m all for multiple parts in the service of more detail, particularly with a polystyrene kit, which will always be easier to assemble due to it’s light weight and the commonly used adhesive’s (plastic glue) binding properties.
It is the source of one of my first criticisms though. Why make a kit like this and not include some equipment options? With so many parts, why not add a few more? These character kits are the perfect opportunity to supply your customers with some cool head and weapon variations to better customize their creations. This is not a special character after all. There is no need for it to be a certain way. Yes, you can customize these on your own using other kits, but a few extra options would be welcome, especially at the Haemonculus's price-point.
Despite the number of pieces, the figure went together easily. Plastics of this nature are just a breeze to work with. (Be sure to use polystyrene glue!) The only tricky part is the floating effect of the figure, which is created by two anchor points (the trailing spine and the twisted I-beam). These cross each other in a specific way, and the attachment points are small. It took me a few minutes to get it correct. There is an assembly guide, and it’s a welcome addition when dealing with the orientation of some of the pieces.
The Haemonculus features a nice mix of symmetric and asymmetric details. The cloak flaps, the four arms, and the way the arms alternate between the wholly flesh and the cybernetic exemplify corresponding details, while the tanks of fluid jutting from the left of its spine and left arm create discordant areas of interest. The overall effect is quite appealing, making me eager to jump in with my brush.
I paint most figures using a layering technique which I’ve modeled after Kevin Dallimore’s iconic style. I’ve been a fan of his work for many years, and his original treatise on miniature painting, the Foundry Miniatures Painting and Modeling Guide, is one of my all time favorite books on the subject. My highlights tend more towards the extreme, featuring obvious transitions; highlights are applied in progressive layers to raised areas where the light would gather.
I own a plethora of paints from a myriad of product lines, but I’ve recently been smitten with The Army Painter (TAP), and I’ve found myself using their paints often. My Haemonculus was painted primarily with them, but I also used some Vallejo Model Colours (VMC) and a smattering of Games Workshop's (GW) line as well.
Your approach to assembling this figure will vary based on your goals. If you are going for a “tabletop” quality paintjob, it can be fully assembled and painted. Note that this will make it difficult to properly reach certain details. I wanted to get some pictures of the fully assembled model bare, and I paid the price in certain areas. The exposed organs on the figures right side and the inside of the cloak immediately come to mind. Ideally, this figure should be painted as a series of sub-assemblies, especially if you are painting this for a competition.
I used a little PVA glue to temporarily mount the figure on a square of cardboard, allowing me to handle it more easily. I like to use brush-on primer for single figure painting. The Haemonculus was primed using Vallejo’s Black Primer from their surface primer range. Though there will be some bright spots, I planned to keep the figure dark in tone.
I began with the Haemonculus's eyes. It’s a small detail, but it brings a little life to the figure almost instantly. For tiny eyes on a figure this scale I simply leave the center black, adding a spot of color to each side. I wanted yellow, cat-like eyes, but Daemonic Yellow (TAP), like many yellow acrylics, has difficulty covering black. Matt White (TAP) was used first to denote the sclera; then the yellow was added over it.
I paint from the inside details to the outside. Looking at the figure, the corset like garment seemed like the a solid starting point. The black primer served well enough as a base-coat. I began the highlights by adding Uniform Grey (TAP) to Matt Black (TAP), increasing the ratio of grey to black with each successive highlight. I also applied it to all the other areas I wanted to be black, even if they were not “inside” details. I just resigned myself to the fact that I would be doing some touch-ups at some point.
I love the combination of black and red, so I went with red for the skirt, tubes, gun, and chemical vials. The Army Painter has a combination of red shades that I like to use straight out of the bottle at times. I base-coated the aforementioned parts with Chaotic Red (TAP), highlighting them with coats of Dragon Red (TAP) and Pure Red (TAP). Further highlights were added to the small vials by mixing Pure Red with some Daemonic Yellow. I finished these off with a small spot of white indicating a reflection.
I used some silver metallics next, but honestly, I have no idea what caused me to stray from my initial plan. I should have done the flesh next, and this mistake cost me more time in touch-ups. Gun Metal (TAP) was used as the base for the sword, bionics, and gun. The ornate metal around his exposed organs was left black. I knew I was going to have to go in there later, and any work to the outside would be ruined. These parts were washed with Dark Tone (TAP) and then highlights of Plate Mail Metal (TAP) and Shining Silver (TAP) were added.
I kept the flesh pale; he is Eldar after all. I wanted to make the skin to be even more alien, so I began with Barbarian Flesh (TAP) coated with a Purple Tone (TAP) wash. From there, I built the color back up with Barbarian Flesh mixed with increasing amounts of Matt White to create the highlights.
The snake like spine was the next part to get some love. The bones got a base-coat of Oak Brown (TAP). Highlights were added by mixing Oak Brown with Skeleton Bone (TAP), finished with a final coat of pure Skeleton Bone. Normally, I would have built this up further by adding Matt White, but I worried that this would make the spine too pale, eliminating any contrast between the spine and flesh.
The cloak of skins was next on the menu. My painting style would not suit the washed-out, more realistic approach employed by GW’s painter, so I went the other way accentuating contrast between the patches of flesh... a technicolor death-cloak if you will. I went with 5 different patch variations detailed below.
Enrico's Technicolor Death-Cloak:
- Matt Black add Uniform Grey
- Fur Brown (TAP) add Desert Yellow (TAP)
- Angel Green (TAP), Greenskin (TAP), and Goblin Green
- Matt Black add Oak Brown
- Monster Brown (TAP), Tanned Flesh (TAP) add Barbarian Flesh
Some crude, free-hand tattoos were added to hammer home that this is a cloak of skin from sentient creatures.
I tackled the exposed organs around the same time by base-coating them with a mix of Barbarian Flesh and Matt White. This area was then washed with Green Tone (TAP) and Purple Tone (TAP). The raised areas were again painted with the base-coat mix in preparation for a step detailed later.
The I-beam had me thinking urban base; German Grey (VMC) served as a base-coat, with Basalt Grey (VMC) and Neutral Grey (VMC) as highlights. These were added with dry-brushing for the ballast and layering for the large rocks. The I-beam got a coat of Gun Metal and was weathered with Typhus Corrosion (GW). I wanted to add some more interest, so I created some oily patches using a mix of equal parts Green Tone, Strong Tone (TAP), and Dark Tone.
The whole figure got hit with a coat of Testors Dullcote. Once thoroughly dry, Gloss Varnish (VMC) was added to the vials and puddles to give them a glass or wet look respectively. I wanted to give the Blood for the Blood God (GW) technical a try. It was carefully added to the exposed organs. This was nerve-wracking because of the location and the fact that I hadn’t used it before, but I was quite happy with the suitably gory results.
The Dark Eldar Haemonculus is an excellent figure. The details are sharp and evocative of the source material. It is a figure that exudes menace, and that is quite appropriate considering its background. There are some flaws, particularly the lack of weapon and head options, which should really be there at its price point.
Price point is definitely an issue. This figure is very expensive at $26.00 MSRP. I often criticize GW for their price points. In this case, though I feel the figure is overpriced, I should point out that this figure is boutique quality, and there are other companies that offer the “boutique experience” at a similar price point. Of course, these companies don’t have the production resources GW has, and once the metal mold has been tooled, the material cost of these figures is minimal, making the price a bit perplexing. It can be argued that you only need one Haemonculus in an army, but the price is too steep.
This will likely relegate the Haemonculus to Dark Eldar players who need it for game reasons and competition painters looking for a highly detailed figure to paint. Those who enjoy the surgical-style horror themes present in this miniature, may also want one, but may be better served looking elsewhere.