Prep Work: Helbrute

Not a very exciting picture but I’ve finished up the prep work on the Helbrute so I can begin painting him. I had a fair amount of gap filling to do on this guy, some of which you can see.


I’m really looking forward to painting this Helbrute up. It’s my favorite model from the Dark Vengeance kit and it’s time I sat down and really worked on something for fun. Of course it’s a model I’ll use, it’s in my list for this month’s tournament at my FLGS, but with my painting backlog getting smaller and smaller I feel I can really put some effort into this model beyond just getting it painted for the table.

I’ve reached that point with painting where I feel it’s time to push myself. I have been working more and more with blending and I feel this is a perfect model to really work on that some more and improve upon it. I really like the new Chaos look of blending flesh and metal together and I feel I can do more with it than I have been. It will be a ton of work and will take me a while to do but there’s so much detail on this model that anything less seems like a waste.

Lately I’ve been really inspired by the work of James Wappel. He’s a painter I heard a lot about but never took the time to check him out until recently, and man can this guy paint. His work makes me hang my head in shame as nothing I’ve done can come close to what he accomplishes. At the same time though it’s inspired me and there’s a lot to be learned from James. I don’t intend to replicate his amazing work, not that I could, but instead to try to incorporate some of what he does into what I do and create my own thing.

Hopefully this week I can put brush to model and get this started. I can’t wait.


The model has since been finished if you’d like to see the Helbrute painting showcase.

  • James has a very unique style. He’s firmly in the non-metallic metals (NMM) camp, which requires an incredible level of skill with blending. It’s a skill you can apply anywhere, but the NMM issue is very polarizing in the paint-judging arena. Everyone agrees it’s an advanced skill, but the anti-NMM camp feels it just doesn’t pull a model together; that it detracts from the “grimdarkness” of 40K armies. It’s sort of a funny debate. An advanced technique that takes years of practice to achieve, but that is looked down on because it doesn’t achieve a certain vibe.
    The Helbrute looks like a fun one to paint. The Chaos models in Dark Vengeance all look like a lot of fun to paint.

    • I have mixed feelings on NMM. It looks amazing when done well but I do have to agree that it’s not very “grimdark”. It does lend a lighter tone to models where metallic paint is gritty by comparison. That’s not to say it doesn’t have a place in 40K and can’t be used to great effect. However, it has to be used to create a tone, a feeling, and not just to show off I feel. That’s the case with anything you do regarding painting though. My favorite models aren’t the best technically painted models but the ones that convey a mood, whatever that mood is intended to be.

      I was looking at trying my hand at NMM but I don’t feel it’s fitting on the Helbrute. In researching though I found some great examples of applying the NMM lighting techniques to metallic paints, to get those really high points and dark areas. Apparently it’s referred to as TMM (true metallic metal). Here’s a good page I found on it:

      That, I feel, fits much better into what I would like to achieve. I honestly like the look of metallic paints, it’s not just laziness, and I really like the vibe you get from that TMM technique.

      Yeah, those Dark Vengeance models are awesome. If I ever get caught up on painting I’d like to also try my hand at the Chosen in the kit. The unit is armed so haphazardly that I’ve never used it, it’s just a silly setup they have, but they look awesome.

      • TMM is very good as well. That page is a great look at the technique.
        The only thing I’m nota huge fan of on the modern Chaos Marine models is that they are very hard to translate to Nurgle. I’ve been really inspired by the Putrid Blightkings from the WHFB line, and have thought about trying a one-off Nurgle Marine, but the new armor designs don’t look like they’d rot or mutate well.

        • True. The new designs are very much undivided in appearance. It would definitely take some sculpting work to get a Nurgley look.

      • I’ve been doing TMM for years now but I didn’t know it had a name. I just figured it was standard highlighting with metallic paints. I usually use a boltmetal base with mithril highlights for my standard troops. When I want to put more effort in I use a darker lead base or tin (depending on the look I want) followed by boltmetal and chainmail with mithril for the extreme highlights and scratches. For gold I usually use bronze > antique gold > shining gold, but sometimes I add extreme highlights in mithril.

        I think TMM gives a more ‘realistic’ look than NMM, but it is also more subtle and often overlooked. NMM gives a more dramatic artistic effect that pops so people tend to notice more quickly.

        • I’ve also been doing it but definitely not at the level I linked. What I’ve done is really simple and that’s what I want to work on with this, to step it up and create those hard contrasts, really make the metal pop.

          Agreed. NMM is a ton of work and hard to master so when you see it you recognize it immediately.

  • James is pretty much my favorite miniature painter. I think it’s because his technique is very painterly, and thus lends itself the freedom and expression that we lose a bit in other types of miniature painting. I was a bit sad he isn’t teaching at adepticon this year, but he will be in attendance at least! I heard some pretty funny stories about his other classes, where he basically took brushes away from people. (his technique requires you use #6 and #8 sized brushes! on minis!).

    The one thing I have learned more then anything else, after taking classes, and talking to various painters….just experiment. Just keep experimenting. Many techniques you see people use are the result of happy accidents when just messing around.

    No matter your technique, no matter your brush, no matter your paint. As long as you keep doing it, you will improve!

    Looking forward to what you do with the helbrute!

    • That’s what I like about James’ work as well. It’s very free-form and it just flows well. It’s not the technical parts of his work, it’s the mood and tone his work creates.

      I agree about experimenting. It’s something I try to do but lately I’ve been so caught up in trying to catch up on painting that I haven’t done it for a while. That’s why I’m looking forward to working on the Helbrute. I’m not aiming for perfection or to reinvent the wheel, just to have a good time further finding my own style.

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