Citadel’s Astra Militarum Valkyrie: In The Groove?

One of the best feelings I think a person can have is to realize that they are “in the groove”. We work on something, especially if it’s a task we do often, and most of the time things go OK. A few times they go horribly wrong. Yet every now and then, things come together, and you realize all factors just seem to be working in synch. The mind gets in a mode of hyperfocus, and you begin to realize this particular effort, on this particular day, is just going extraordinarily well.

When I was in high school, I played basketball. Well… let me rephrase that. I was one of the taller guys in school, and I had enough ability to generally dribble and shoot the ball and not make a total embarrassment of myself most of the time, so they let me play on the team. I did a pretty good job of keeping the bench warm and toasty for the people who actually played.

One of my biggest problems was getting the ball to go into the goal. Because that is the main point of basketball, such a deficiency was a sticking point in my athletic career. And for some reason, free throws were an issue for me. You’d think it would be the simple part. You stand at the line, no one is harassing you, there is no external physical pressure, and you just shoot the ball up in the air. It should be easy points. For me, though, I generally missed about a third of the time – on a good day.

At some point, we had a fundraiser to help us pay for a summer basketball camp. We spent several weeks asking people to pledge support for each made free throw out of fifty attempts. Some folks pledged a dime, others a quarter. A few generous folks pledged a dollar. One wag said he’d pledge two dollars, saying with a smile “I’ve seen you shoot free throws. I won’t be out much.”

The day of the free throw shoot finally arrived. I stepped up to the line, and the coach handed me a ball. I did my usual preparation, which was a brief prayer that went something like “Oh Lord, please help me not look like a total idiot”. I lined up the shot, and up went the ball.

Nothing but net. Swoosh… 

The net gave a satisfying snap, and I smiled. One down, forty-nine to go. I was handed another ball.

Another shot. Swoosh… nothing but net again. 

I realized I was totally calm. My breathing was shallow, my heart was not racing. I was in The Groove.

Shot after shot went up… three for three went quickly by. Ten for ten. Twenty-five for twenty-five. People began to gather around and notice. Nobody said a word, because they knew this was like seeing a unicorn. Stuff like this just didn’t happen.

Old #33 was sinking every one of them.

The numbers kept climbing. Thirty for thirty. Then forty for forty.

It got to the point I was at forty-nine for forty-nine. This was unprecedented. Forty-nine attempts, forty-nine successes. Everyone was amazed – most of all me.

They handed me the ball. Just as I’d done all the times before, I took my shot. Same motion, same follow through.

The ball arched up…

Yeah, Yeah, So What About The Valkyrie?

I feel like I’m in the same groove with this Warhammer 40K Valkyrie. 

After getting it primed and ready for paint, I decided to airbrush on the base coat of Citadel’s Castellan Green. Even though I’d be adding several layers for shading and fading later, I wanted the undertone of the whole model to be canon. As I was using the Base paint version of the color – meaning it’s rather thick, I knew a bit of thinning would be in order.

For most paints, I’m fine with thinning in the color cup. But having airbrushed Citadel’s base paints a few times in the past, I decided to mix my paint in a small mixing cup. I poured in enough Vallejo Airbrush Thinner to equal about 2/3 my airbrushes color cup volume. Using my trusty Badger paint stirring tool, I did more than give the bottle a good shake. I agitated it greatly. 🙂 After it was thoroughly mixed, I used the paint stirrer to add a large glob of paint into the mixing cup.

I’d found out before the hard way that stirring the paint in a mixing cup that is not covered can be a bit precarious. To avoid splatters, I hold my hand over the cup, and just let the stirrer stick through between my fingers. That way if any splattering does happen, it will only get on my hand.

I tested the paints consistency against the side of mixing cup, and after adding three dollops from the paint stirrer, I was satisfied with it.

I airbrushed it on in fairly thin coats. (Multiple thin coats, as Duncan advises… 😉 ) While Citadel paint covers nicely, I think it airbrushes a bit poorly. Thin coats, multiple passes, building the color up, that had worked well in past sessions. This time was no exception. I did need to stop now and again to clean off tip dry. But after a few minutes, I had a nice coat of Castellan Green on the model.

I wanted to do some additional tonal fading, much like I’d discussed in a previous blog entry about my P-40E. I used the same basic techniques discussed there, though I did not go for as “patchy” a look on the Valkyrie. I can’t say that I had any real reason not to… it just seemed the way to do it at the time.

Because I wanted to do much finer airbrush work for this step, I switched to Tamiya acrylics. Their XF-81, RAF Dark Green 2, was a pretty close cousin of the Castellan Green. Mixing three parts of that with Tamiya’s XF-4 Yellow Green yielded a nice color to start making things a bit lighter. I thinned this heavily with Mr. Color Leveling Thinner, which allows for nice, thin layers of minimum opacity to be built up. I airbrushed this one in a somewhat deliberate fashion, focusing on the centers of panels, though not exclusively, and not trying to completely cover everything. I did want some of the Castellan Green to show through.

With that color on, I immediately switched to the next color. This time, I went with an equal mix of the XF-81 and XF-4.. The thinning was again very translucent… I didn’t do more than eyeball it, but it was certainly close to 3 parts thinner 1 part paint if anything. This time, I was a bit more haphazard in application, to introduce more tonal variety. I also was more deliberate about lightening up some of the raised panel areas, just to make them stand out a bit , and provide some depth and contrast.

The final color was simply mixed in the color cup. I added a few brush fulls of the XF-4 to the remaining paint, and then a bit more thinner, to get a final highlight. This was applied across the model, especially on the upper surfaces. I also did a final mist of this color over everything, just to help tie all the colors together.

I was really happy with the result. It’s one of the few times that the vision I have in my brain of how the model should look actually comes out in reality to be pretty close. In the groove, I thought to myself. In the groove.

I decided it might look nice to add some white stripes, so I masked off areas for those, using Tamiya masking tape. The stripes were airbrushed on using Vallejo Mecha Color Off White, a wonderful paint that has become my go to for “white”. I always try to avoid starting at pure white, because there’s no room left for any highlighting.

With those two basic colors on, I gave the whole model a coat of Future… Pledge… whatever. It’s a gloss coat. Using a few of Citadel’s kit decals, I adorned the kit with the requisite skulls, an aircraft number, and a bit of decorative emblem on the white stripes around the tail booms, and also on the door ramp. A final “Cadia” (Eh?) decal was added to the nose.

There’s still quite a way to go on this one. Shading the panel lines, paint chipping, staining and streaking, more fading and shading, and whatever else I may think of will be added into the mix. I plant to make this one really looked used and beaten.

But right now, I am really happy with it. In the groove.

But What About….?

Oh, yeah, the 50th free throw. 🙂

I missed it.

Hit the front of the rim. Made an embarrassingly loud “clang” sound, and ricocheted right back at me, almost landing in my hands.

A groan went up from the crowd. Everyone walked away. The special thing we’d all hoped to see didn’t happen. 

However, it wasn’t all bad. I’d made 49 out of 50, and had enough pledges to cover the cost of my basketball camp. And I had quite the chuckle telling my friend who’d pledged $2 per shot that he owed me $98.

Still… it would have been nice. Just once. To be in the groove, and stay in it, all the way to the third wire, so to speak.

But the groove was fun while it lasted.

Maybe this one will go fifty for fifty? 😉


2 responses to “Citadel’s Astra Militarum Valkyrie: In The Groove?”

  1. I don’t have a ton of interest in playing Warhammer 40k, but these are the kinds of models that make me want to play simply for the excuse to built and paint them. Looking really cool! They’re just expensive models to then NOT play the game with them…

    Reminds me of the Pelican drop ship from Halo. Though, not a Halo fan myself, I’m going to take a crack at it soon as a gift for a big Halo fan.


    1. Hey Dan! They are pretty cool. I don’t actually play myself – I just really enjoy building them.

      The Pelican dropship is cool, too – take a look at it here.

      Thanks for reading my blog!


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