Posted by: marymarthatours | February 20, 2011

Grandma Gets into Warhammer 40K

Last week I spent some time with my grandson Jon while his folks were off in sunny, warm Costa Rica. (We had snow and cold !!) That’s when I was introduced to Warhammer 40K, a tabletop miniature war game set in a fantasy universe. (,000) This universe is inhabited by a number of races, and players chose one of the races to use for their army.

Jon has chosen to play with an army of Orks, “whose boisterous personality, tactics and biology make them the comic relief of the series” (Wikipedia). He has begun to acquire the miniature figures he will use when he goes to the game nights at Misty Mountain Games. (


That’s where I came in. I was asked to bring my painting supplies with me when I went to stay at Jon’s house. He wanted me to help paint the Orks. Seems like a strange thing for a grandmother to do, but it’s not really that big a jump from painting miniature metal Toby jugs for my dollhouse to painting miniature plastic figures for a war game.

In fact, many of the steps are the same.

  1. Thoroughly clean the pieces to remove oils and powder from the casting process
  2. Prime to provide a good base for painting and details
  3. Paint with the color scheme and details of your choice
  4. Add washes or highlighting if desired
  5. Apply a finish coat to protect the paint

Jon had assembled his figures before I arrived, and together we constructed a cardboard box spray-booth to spray on the primer. We used Citadel Chaos Black primer, which is very expensive, but it went on easily and provided an excellent base coat for painting. Then Jon decided on the colors we would use on the Orks; green for the skin, tan for the trousers, gunmetal for the armor, and gold for the weapons. We added red for eyes and several other colors for details. I liked the Citadel line of paint (, but also used other brands including Vallejo, Testors, Model Maker, and various acrylic paints from my vast assortment for mini projects.


I had loads of fun painting while Jon was at school. I asked him if he’d rather do the detailed painting, but he said, “Gramma, I’m a terrible painter”. That was all the encouragement I need to keep painting. I finished up the bases with either dirt or grass (both from my mini-landscape supply box) and then gave the pieces a good coating of matte spray acrylic.

Although it’s a multi-step process, we had several figures finished by the time Jon went to Misty Mountain for his game night. He took them along to show his friends, and although I tried to stay out of the way with a book in a far corner of the room, I could still hear him saying, “My gramma….my gramma…” as he showed them off. Jon didn’t play that night, but it was informative for me to see how important communication skills, strategic planning, and even arithmetic are to the game.


Jon’s favorite piece — the Deffcopta

It was a great project for us to work on together, and I’m eagerly looking forward to painting the next batch of Orks after Jon gets them put together and primed. Hopefully, he’ll soon have his own Ork army to field in the game.

(By Mary)


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