T’AU EMPIRE PROJECT

In this blog post, we will be talking about the recent T’au Empire commission project that we’ve just completed for a customer. Andrea contacted us wanting a price for a T’au Empire force based on the classic yellow/desert colour scheme. Andrea was happy with the price that we submitted and he then shipped the models over to us so that we could start the building and painting process. The commission project consisted of an Ethereal, a Commander, twenty Firewarriors, ten Pathfinders, three XV8 Crisis Battlesuits, six XV88 Broadside Battlesuits, a Devilfish and three XV104 Riptides. Below, you will see each unit in detail as well what we did to create the look for each model.

T'AU EMPIRE PROJECT OVERVIEW

Assembling the models and creating custom bases was the first step when we started working on Andrea’s T’au Empire project. Andrea knew which specific wargear and weapon options he wanted on each unit, which made assembling the models really quick and simple. Andrea also wanted the XV8 Crisis Battlesuits to have interchangeable weapons so that he could swap and choose different load-outs depending on which enemy he’s facing. Andrea chose the classic T’au Sept colour scheme, as he saw Ben’s T’au army on one of our Instagram battle reports and really liked the look of them. Ben’s T’au army incorporates the classic desert colour scheme with a few black sections to break up the yellow, giving a more intimidating presence on the battlefield.

One of the aspects that we really like about this army is the variation between the sizes and shapes of the units, from the small Firewarrior Strike Teams and Pathfinders, to the hulking XV88 Broadsides and  XV104 Riptide Battlesuits. The army also has a regimented look due to the army having a symmetrical amount of units, giving a sense of order and hierarchy. When the army is displayed together it looks like quite an intimidating force as it’s bristling with enough firepower to bring down any target in the 41st millennium. The consistent colour scheme really helps solidify the look and feel of the army to help them stand out on any battlefield surface.

The leaders of this T’au Empire force are an Ethereal and a Commander. When put in the centre of the T’au battleline they look really inspiring due to being taller than the other units that are surrounding them.

Although there are only a few XV8 Crisis Battlesuits in this force they still have a great presence when they’re offering support next to the Commander, eager to lay down their lives for the cause of the Greater Good.

Firewarrior Strike Teams and Pathfinders give the force its depth and numbers, offering long-range anti-infantry fire along with Marker Lights, supporting the Broadsides’ and Riptides’ heavy firepower.

The three XV104 Riptide Battlesuits offer the long-range fire support in the army. They have a commanding presence when they’re deployed behind the main gun line, ready to unleash their high powered Ion Accelerators.

T'AU EMPIRE STRIKE TEAMS

Firewarrior Strike Teams are the shock troops of any T’au Empire force, able to lay down withering amounts of Pulse Rifle fire to take down their targets from afar, as well as up close and personal. They’re one of the most iconic T’au Empire units and are a great troop choice as they’re cheap in points and can lay down massive amounts of firepower with their trusty Pulse Rifles.

Andrea has two Strike Teams in his army which is a great base for a large T’au army as they’re able to hold and capture objectives whilst laying down volleys of fire with their Pulse Rifles. We had a great time assembling these Firewarrior Strike Teams because they can give a lot of character to a T’au Empire force, as almost all other units are covered in large plates of armour and look quite rigid in postuire.

The Strike Teams were one of the first units we got started with on this project. Because they’re one of the smallest units, it was easy to get the colour scheme down quickly so we could see how the rest of the units would look. Using these models as a starting reference, we were able to carry the colour scheme and processes across to the other models in this T’au project.

We started with undercoating the models with Chaos Black spray and then moved on to painting the main parts of the models which are the armour and cloth sections. The armour was base painted with Balor Brown and was then recess washed with Agrax Earthshade. After the shade had dried we then started the highlight process with Zamesi Desert and then a final edge highlight of Screaming Skull.

Once the armour was completed, we then moved on to painting the cloth parts, which are mainly on the arms and legs of the model. For these parts, we used a base layer of Abaddon Black, then a highlight of Eshin Grey on any raised areas, and then a final finer highlight of Dawnstone. We copied this process on to the Pulse Rifles and the T’au Empire symbol that’s located on their shoulder pads.

We added subtle weathering effects by dabbing small amounts of Leadbelcher on to the armour with a sponge, this gives them a battle-hardened look. For the bases, we added PVA glue and then layered sand over the top. Once the sand had dried, we painted the bases with Steel Legion Drab, dry brushed with Zamesi Desert, and then added another dry brush of Screaming Skull to give an effective desert base.

The Strike Teams look really cool when they’re lined up together with an accompanying Ethereal. It looks like the Ethereal is commanding the Strike Teams and offering spiritual leadership, inspiring them to carry out the will of the Greater Good. These humble Strike Teams are a great foundation for objective based games and they offer a great deal of anti-infantry firepower thanks to their long ranged Pulse Rifles and supporting DS8 Turrets, equipped with Smart Missile Systems. In the next section, we will look at the eyes and ears of this T’au Empire army… the Pathfinders.

T'AU EMPIRE PATHFINDER TEAM

Pathfinder Teams are the eyes and ears of any T’au force, lighting up priority targets with their Marker Lights so that other T’au Empire units can fire with improved accuracy. Andrea wanted three of the Pathfinders to carry Rail Rifles so that the Pathfinders could pack some punch and give supporting fire to other T’au Empire units. Painting Pathfinders is a very similar process to painting Strike Teams, apart from they have more cloth parts than armour.

To paint the lenses on the helmets and Marker Lights, we first based them with Khorne Red and washed them with Agrax Earthshade. We then added a small amount of Evil Suns Scarlet to one side of the lens, then a smaller amount of Fire Dragon Bright in the same place, going over the Evil Suns Scarlet. We then finally added a small dot of white on the opposite side. Once the paint had dried, we then added a small amount of Ard Coat to give the lenses a glossy effect.

Pathfinders Teams look great when they’re in front of the main T’au Empire force as it looks like they’re carrying out their battlefield role by getting into an advantageous position to lay down their Marker Lights for the rest of the army to benefit from. The Pathfinder kit from Games Workshop has some really interesting details in it such as various different weapon and wargear options, helmeted and unhelmeted heads along with different kinds of ammo packs. You can create some really interesting poses which give the miniatures a lot of character. Some of the Pathfinders are knelt down, and some are aiming down the sights and advancing forwards, giving them a sense of movement and purpose.

T'AU EMPIRE XV8 CRISIS BATTLESUITS

XV8 Crisis Battlesuits are the elite of the T’au Empire’s fire castes. They’re the T’au’s most iconic unit and for good reason. These technologically advanced battle systems can carry a potent amount of firepower into battle, causing havoc in the enemy’s back lines and ambushing targets with their excellent mobility thanks to their jetpacks.

For these Battlesuits, we implemented the colour scheme that we used on the Strike Teams and Pathfinders but added a bit more black into the mix to break up the large areas of yellow/desert armour. The Shas’uis both have the yellow heads whereas the Shas’vre leader has a white head to signify his rank in the Crisis Team.

Andrea wanted to keep the weapon options interchangeable so that he could use them based on what enemy he’s going to be facing. This way the battlesuits are flexible enough to use in any situation, whether they need to take down a horde army with Burst Cannons and Flamers or armoured infantry and tanks with their Fusion Blasters and Plasma Rifles. We painted up all of the weapon options so that they can be slotted into place in the recesses of the battlesuits’ arms and jetpacks. Doing it this way reduced the time to assemble the Battlesuits, as we didn’t have to magnetise the weapon options because they hold in place firmly on their own and are quite easy to add and remove.

We added glowing effects to the Fusion Blaster and Plasma Rifle muzzles to give the sense that they’re charged up and ready to be fired at an unfortunate enemy. Adding this type of blue glowing effect adds to the realism of the Battlesuits’ weapons and gives a great contrast in colour compared the dark yellow and black of the armour, making the models jump out from the models around them. Because the bases of the Crisis Battlesuits are larger than that of normal infantry, we decided to add a few rocks and stones to give their bases more depth and variation. We added Gamer Grass grass tufts to give a nice contrast in texture, compared to the rocks and hard-edged armour.

T'AU EMPIRE TY7 DEVILFISH

The TY7 Devilfish is the mobile troop transport of the T’au Empire, able to carry a squad of Firewarriors or Pathfinders right into the heat of battle at a moment’s notice. Armed with a fearsome Burst Cannon and two Gun Drones, it can even act as mobile fire support for the squad it carries. Devilfish troop transports are amazing looking models and look really sleek and stealthy thanks to their smooth hull design and low profile on the battlefield.

When painting the Devilfish we added some black sections in the armour to break up all of the yellow, as we did with the XV8 Crisis Battlesuits. Some vehicles can sometimes look quite bland when they’re painted all one colour, so we tried to add more interest and contrast to some parts to help make the Devilfish’s features stand out more. We added weathering effects to the armour using Leadbelcher and Runefang Steel to give it a battle-hardened look.

To add the Sept markings to the TY7 Devilfish we used the transfers that come with the kit itself along with freehanding on some of the larger markings such as on the nose of the hull. The engines have a blue glowing effect like on the Battlesuit weapons in the recesses of the vents, giving the impression that the engines are propelling the vehicle forward into battle. The lenses on the cockpit and the large drone that sits in the top of the Devilfish have a layer of Ardcoat applied to them, to give them that glossy glass look.

T'AU EMPIRE XV88 BROADSIDE BATTLESUITS

The XV88 Broadside Battlesuit offers long-ranged fire support to Hunter Cadres with their exceptional array of high powered weaponry. The Broadside Battlesuit’s manoeuvrability is somewhat limited, compared to the XV8 Crisis Battlesuit’s but this is a small compromise, as they’re able to carry some of the heaviest hitting weapons in the T’au Empire’s arsenal. Andrea opted for all the Broadsides to have Twin Heavy Rail Rifles and Twin Smart Missile Systems.

The Twin Heavy Rail Rifle is a very potent anti-armour weapon, whereas the Twin Smart Missile System is most effective against infantry. Equipping the Broadsides in this way means that Andrea is able to react to a variety of different targets depending on the situation of the battle. Andrea also requested all of the accompanying Drones to be assembled as Missile Drones, able to lay down a withering amount of high powered supporting fire.

When painting the XV88 Broadside Battlesuits we used the same process as we did with the XV8 Crisis Battlesuits by adding in some black sections into the armour to break up the dark yellow on the majority of the models. We added some small glowing effects to the ends of the Heavy Rail Rifles to give the impression that the weapon was charged and ready to be fired into the oncoming enemy.

We’re really pleased with how the Broadsides came out using this colour scheme and they certainly look like an intimidating long ranged threat when they’re deployed together. The Broadside Battlesuits have weathering effects added to them, so that they look like they’ve been the target of a lot of incoming fire, which their impenetrable armour has been able to shrug off.

When we’d finished painting some of the Broadsides to show Andrea the progress we made, we also added the images to our Instagram and used the hashtag #paintingwarhammer. The Warhammer Community Team then got in touch with us and asked for our permission to use the images on the Games Workshop website. We gladly accepted the response and as you can see in the image below, our Broadside Battlesuit images were able to be seen on the Broadside Battlesuit page, in the #paintingwarhammer section underneath the main product image. The Games Workshop website has since been updated and the images are no longer viewable anymore, but it was great to see our work being recognised by the Warhammer Community Team!

T'AU EMPIRE XV104 RIPTIDE BATTLESUITS

The XV104 Riptide is the pinnacle of T’au Empire battlesuit technology. Being one of the largest battlesuits in the T’au Empire’s arsenal, the XV104 Riptide can carry the heaviest weaponry to take down enemy targets with relative ease. The Riptides can either be equipped with the Heavy Burst Cannon or the Ion Accelerator, as well as Twin Smart Missile Systems, Twin Plasma Rifles or Twin Fusion Blasters. Andrea wanted all of his Riptides to be equipped with Ion Accelerators and Twin Smart Missile Systems. This weapon loadout means that he can deal with tough armoured targets as well as light infantry.

The XV104 Riptides in Andrea’s T’au force look really intimidating due to their size and devastating weaponry. The Riptides act as an anchor point for the rest of the army to support, losing these models can be a big blow to any T’au force, as they cost quite a lot of points. The Riptides’ damage output can be quite high when they opt to nova charge their main weaponry, so it’s best to keep them alive for as long as possible to make sure that you can get the maximum amount of firepower out of them. The Shielded Missile Drones that come with the Riptides also act as extra wounds but are also able to help with high powered fire support.

The Riptides were the models that took the longest time to paint in this project due to their size. They’re our favourite unit in this commission and we’re really pleased with the final results. We added quite a few blue glowing effects to the Shield Generators and the muzzles of the Ion Accelerators to give a contrasting colour to the scheme as we did with the Broadsides and Crisis Battlesuits. There has also been weathering and scratch effects added to the armour to give the Riptides a battle worn look as they’re the veterans of many gruelling conflicts.

All XV104 Riptide pilots are Shas’vre veterans and this is signified by the white heads of their battlesuits. All of the Sept markings you can find on the battlesuits’ armour has been freehanded on using white paint and a fine detail brush. We decided to freehand the paint onto the model rather than using the water-based transfers that come with the models as they can sometimes rub and peel off of the model. This way, all of the Sept markings will stay on the models after excessive use and handling. The models were also sprayed with Purity Seal to help preserve the paintwork.

The Riptides tower above all other units that are around them which gives a great visual impact thanks to the contrast in sizes. This also makes them look even larger than they actually are which adds to their intimidating presence on the battlefield. When an Ethereal is nearby they look like his gargantuan bodyguards that are ready to lay down their lives for the noble cause of the Greater Good.

T'AU EMPIRE COMMANDER

T’au Empire Commanders are the strategic geniuses that lead their army to victory for the Greater Good. Piloting an intimidating battlesuit of great size and power, these noble leaders can change the course of a battle with a precise manta strike that exploits the enemy’s weak points. A battlesuit pilot has to tirelessly train and battle for many years before obtaining the prestigious rank of Commander. The Enforcer Battlesuit can carry a vast array of weapons including Plasma Rifles, Fusion Blasters, Missile Pods, Burst Cannons, Air Burst Fragmentation Launchers and Cyclic Ion Blasters. This weaponry is deadly when equipped on a Commander’s battlesuit due to their unerring accuracy. The Commander also has a Gun Drone and Marker Drone supporting him.

For the Commander’s Enforcer Battlesuit we added some more white sections into the colour scheme to help signify the Commander’s rank compared to the rest of the battlesuits in the army. The Commander’s battlesuit is also a lot taller than other XV8 Crisis Battlesuits and this also helps the Commander to stand out from the rest of the models that will be supporting him. Andrea wanted the weapons on the Commander to be interchangeable, so we left the model without any of the weapons glued in place and painted them up separately so that they can be slotted into the recesses of the Commander’s arms and jetpack. This gives Andrea the flexibility to equip his Commander according to which enemy he will be facing.

As we did with the rest of the battlesuits, we added blue glowing effects to the Commander’s Shield Generator, Fusion Blaster, Plasma Rifle and Cyclic Ion Blaster to give the effect that they’re charged up and ready to be fired. The colours pop right off the yellow armour giving a great contrasting look that makes him stand out from the models around him. The Commander looks right at home when he’s added to the middle of the T’au army as if he’s giving out orders to the rest of the force around him, whilst annihilating enemies with his fearsome and deadly weapon systems.

T'AU EMPIRE ETHEREAL

Ethereals are the spiritual leaders of the T’au Empire, inspiring nearby units to fight with increased valour in the face of the enemy. Although Ethereals are small in comparison to other T’au Empire units, they play a huge role on the battlefield. They can increase the fire rate of nearby Firewarriors, make units more resilient to damage and give nearby units increased mobility while they fire. Andrea’s Ethereal is the model you get from the ‘Start Collecting T’au Empire’ box you can buy from Games Workshop. 

We incorporated the classic T’au Sept colour scheme on this model but added a few more black parts as we did with the rest of Andrea’s army. We also added a few white parts to the model to signify a higher rank in the army, as we did with the Commander’s armour. The T’au Empire text on his loincloth was lightly freehanded in place by using Abaddon Black. Once the initial T’au Empire text design was laid out on the cloth we neatened the design back up by refining the edges with White Scar.

The Etheral in Andrea’s army is the only model that has flesh showing, as Andrea wanted all of the Firewarriors and Pathfinders to have helmeted heads. Having the Ethereal as the only model with his head and arms showing really makes him stand out from the rest of the force, as the blue skin tones contrast with the yellow and black of the armour. The flesh on the model also contrasts well against the angular armour of the rest of the force and giving the model more depth than the models that are around him. As you can see in the images above, the Ethereal stands taller than the rest of the Firewarriors and Pathfinders around him, making him stand out, even when he’s surrounded by lots of troops.

THANK YOU ANDREA

We’d like to thank Andrea for his support and giving us the opportunity to paint this awesome collection in the classic T’au Sept colour scheme, which you don’t really see around anymore. We hope Andrea has a great time using these models on the battlefield as well as having them in his collection. As Commander Puretide says “Those with superior reach can dictate the terms of battle and impose their will upon their foe. Remember, the first step on the path to victory is often the most important.” We hope you crush all that oppose you on the battlefield, Andrea!