The Arena of Escalation: The Test Minis - Part 2

The Arena of Escalation: The Test Minis - Part 2

Welcome back to the Arena of Escalation, a gathering of intrepid hobbyists from around The Army Painter offices (and remote offices) to do what we celebrate most here. That thing that's embodied in the company's ethos and literally in our very name – paint an army!

You can check out who all of our contestants are in Part 1 and Part 2 of our introductions where each contestant picked an army from Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 to collect, build, and most importantly, paint over the next 9 months. Come December, we'll all be gathered together at our HQ in Denmark for a fun day of games with our freshly painted 2,000 point (or thereabouts) armies.

This is Part 2 of one of the most important parts of any army project, the test model! To see what our first 6 contestants painted up be sure to check out Part 1.

Mini Lineup

We've already seen what Steffen, Jonas, Erasmus, Oliver, Danni, and Lasse have cooked up for their burgeoning projects, and today we check in with the remaining members. What could those mysterious silhouettes be? What do Thomas, Adam, Bo, Tyler, Caleb, and Sofie have in store for us? 


Thomas Coltau

Thomas: For my army, I was very quickly aware that I would have a bunch of different units, and for both my own, but also my opponents sake, I wanted the difference to be very easily translated. The big problem is that the different Astra Millitarum units look the same, so my only way of solving this, was by using different colours. At the same time, I also wanted to keep a coherent theme for the army, so the balance was pretty important.

I knew I wanted a selection of colours – Dark Blue, with a cold gold and white as contrast – I also wanted a reddish leather (Because Carnelian Skin is now one of my favorite colours!) – And then I also wanted to use the Oranges from the Warpaints Fanatic range.

Thomas' Astra Militarum
In my army, I will have 2 different main forces – An Admech part, with crazy conversions, and then the Imperial Guard/police part of it – And in my head, the Admech part of it would have to be a lot different than the rest, because Admech doesn’t fit in under anyone else’s jurisdiction. I chose orange, gold, and white for those units, and then the same white as a contrast colour with the guard units, with the dark blue, gold and reddish leather/clothes.

The next thing I wanted to decide was the standard of painting the miniatures – Painting a guard army can be quite daunting as you usually have a lot of models. It was the same for this army, having almost a 100 models in total. I am quite fast at painting, so I upped the level of each mini in the army a bit, and having finished my first unit at this standard, I am pleased with the result.

You can follow Thomas' progress on his Instagram @coltaupainting.


Adam Abramowicz

Adam: Test models are something I haven’t had a great history of. Mainly because I have never done one. I’ve definitely started an army, gotten 5 or more units deep into painting them, then decided I should reconsider the scheme (more than once). You’re never too old to learn new tricks though.

For my World Eaters, we’ve already established that I will be going the route of the pre-Heresy colour scheme. I knew that I would begin with the white and blue in the armour. I also knew that I wanted to do a brassy metallic trim. And, I knew that I wanted to spend a lot of effort on the skin tones – especially for the Eightbound as the models lend themselves well to a host of techniques.

World Eater Eightbound

I love having diverse skin tones represented in my army. You can expect me to utilize the full array of skin tones in the Warpaints Fanatic range. For the test model, I followed the lore and went forward with a ruddy skin tone befit of a gladiator descendent of Angronius of Nuceria. The basing recipe is something that you will see a lot from us here at HQ, which you can find in The Lion Masterclass video. I think many of us will be following a similar basing formula as part of our Arena of Escalation entries in an effort to craft a narrative between our armies. Which I think is really fun.

Of course, it wouldn’t be an Adam Army™ if it didn’t feature some element of fluorescent paint. It’s just such an easy way to make your army pop and it requires minimal effort. With this test model finished, I’m itching to get through the rest of the unit and army!

You can follow Adam's progress on his Instagram @tacticalpainter.


Bo Penstoft

Bo: This may be a little odd looking for an Ork, but if you remember, I'm actually doing DigaNobz from GorkaMorka, aka humans who really, really want to be Orks! The idea was to create a very Mad Max: Fury Road vibe as it will play well into the wasteland theme of the army.

Thomas and I are doing the same bases, and at some point, the dream is to build a gaming table in the same style. 


With that in mind, the paint scheme for the army should compliment that, and orange always goes well with turquoise, so that had to be a part of the colour scheme.

I also wanted them to look tanned and worn, and the new Warpaints Fanatic skin tones and Washes makes this a very effective and fast paintjob - just how we like it! 


Tyler Mengel

Tyler: That's certainly an odd looking Space Marine, huh? So what happened to my Marine army I was working on for the Arena? Well, the reality of timing settled in. I have a tendency to be overly ambitious with my hobby projects, and that's unfortunately what happened here. While I really like the look of my Iron Lords Space Marines, and will be continuing them as well, I decided it was unrealistic for me to try and finish an army to that quality within the timeframe of this competition.

Enter the Astra Militarum!

Tyler's Astra Militarum

After a quick test model I decided that this was a colour scheme I could paint quickly, with less stress, and still be happy with on the tabletop. The Cadian models have a ton of texture on them and by their nature, also lend themselves to a slightly grittier look. With a combination of Speedpaint, Washes, and an all-over drybrush I was able to knock out the models fairly quickly. This is similar to how I paint scenery, as I just used a drybrush of Warpaints Fanatic Skeleton Bone over every colour at the end to highlight it. This gives it a unified appearance, and also a dusty and dirty look, perfect for a guardsman who's been fighting in the trenches for months.

Most of the main colours were blocked in with Speedpaint before getting hit with Strong Tone Wash, again for that unified grime, with the exception of the metals and armour. These were basecoated with Warpaints Fanatic Gun Metal and Warpaints Air Militia Green respectively. I chose to use an Air colour on the armour as I could then easily replicate it on the many tanks of the Astra Militarum and have a unified colour across the army. I plan to lean heavily into the Cadian aspect of the force, but haven't settled on whether the army will be more mechanized or more balanced in its composition. I still have to finish this guy's base with some tufts, but I'm excited to really embrace the army painting nature of this scheme. I may do a bit more work on characters and such, but even those I want to keep fairly quick and not too divergent from the main bulk of the infantry.

You can follow Tyler's progress on his Instagram @mengel_miniatures and on Twitter @MengelMinis.


Caleb Wissenback

Caleb: For my Arena force I chose the Dark Angels. I've always loved the lore of the Dark Angels, even if they might be Traitors. For my test model I was very inspired by the cover art of the last codex. That dark green with the gold and silver accents and bone just looked so awesome. That marine looks brutal!

I am relatively new to The Army Painter range of paints (except the Air paints. I've been using those since they came out), so it was a lot of fun experimenting with Fanatic and Speedpaints to develop my color scheme. Pushing for that dark green I used Speedpaint Orc Skin as my filter color to give that nice rich green and shaded with my all time favorite (or one of) Speedpaints - Tyrian Navy. This really pushed the shadows to give me that dark rich green. Then after doing my highlights with Fanatic, I glazed everything with the Warpaints Air Gauss Green Fluorescent. WOW!

Dark Angel

Not only did my highlights just POP because of the fluo, but my mid-tones and shadows were soooo rich and vibrant. I glazed a touch of Pure Red in the deepest recesses and my green armor was right where I envisioned it. Im adding quite a bit of bone and red accents to the Primaris marines because I want to use the same colors (but reversed) for my new Deathwing Terminators and Inner Circle, yet still have a cohesive color scheme.

Next up is my test Terminator. I'm going to try an olive green based bone color. Wish me luck!

You can follow Caleb's progress on his Instagram @calebwissenback.


Sofie Swensson

Sofie: Now that I have put together and painted my first ever miniature, it has been a blast, and a lot harder than I thought it would be. The cleaning of the miniature before painting was a lot of work, since my cutting skills aren't that good. But when I got the hang of it, I really enjoyed it.

Sister of Battle

I decided that I wanted to paint with our Speedpaint, since I think it suits my patience a little better. On my army I'm using Purple Swarm, Golden Armour, Satchel Brown, and Grim Black.

I think my painting will improve over the next miniatures, when I get the hang of the paint and working with it.


With a collection of beautiful test models under our belts, our intrepid contestants move onto the next phase of the Arena - completing their first unit and hero! Tune back in next month to see everyone's entries. We'll be sure to post updates along the way as well.

Be sure to check back in here for more updates in the future, as well as on our social media accounts on FacebookInstagramTwitterYouTube, and TikTok. You can also follow along on everyone's personal social media accounts with the hashtag #ArenaofEscalation.

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