We Have Golden Daemon at Home: My Experiences Entering a Painting Competition & How to Paint Nighthaunt Dreadblade Harrows

Golden Daemon is Games Workshop’s prestigious painting competition, where painters the world over apply their brushes to creating miniatures that are no less than fine works of art. It’s held in several places across the world but due to the pandemic, some hobbyists have had to wait a little longer than others to enter. Now, Golden Daemon has returned. Thousands of hobbyists made the journey to enter their projects at Adepticon 2022. What came out of Adepticon was simply awe-inspiring. Golden Daemon left me and many hobbyists thinking, I could give that a go. I could enter, or maybe just take a pledge to get out there that little bit more. 

I’m definitely one of the latter group. Painting wise, my skills leave a lot to be desired. In fact, I took a big break from painting due to a health condition last year and I’ve had to relearn a thing or two. The joy of painting never left me though. While Golden Daemon is a long way away for me, I thought, maybe it’s worth me putting myself out there. Maybe it’s worth experiencing more aspects of this hobby we love so much. Maybe it’s time to enter a painting challenge. 

I took myself down to my local Warhammer store, where coincidently they were due to start a painting challenge. The rules were simple; your entry had to be any unit, any box of figures. This meant no single figures, no characters. But so long as it came in a box and had more than one figure in it, then it was fair game to be entered into the challenge. I took a while browsing the store, thinking about what I could paint up best. I was a little stuck with ideas. This was my first time painting for the sole purpose of being judged, so I had no idea what to paint. I decided to set myself up for success and enter a modest unit. Dreadblade Harrows from the Age of Sigmar Nighthaunt Range.

Newly assembled Dreadblade Harrows, Models from Games Workshop

Dreadblade Harrows ended up being the perfect choice for me. There were only two models in the unit, which made painting it up in two weeks a realistic goal for me. In addition, I’d never painted these sculptures before or really anything from the Nighthaunt range. They’re ethereal, spooky with lots of fluid design and motifs of objects blending into one another. As you can see, the sculpt depicts the rider and the steed merging as one as it appears to simply manifest out of the night sky. I thought I’d challenge myself with these smooth surfaces; they’d be interesting to paint. I’d have to work at blending colours together and layering on a miniature that wouldn’t leave much room for hiding mistakes.

The miniature I chose to paint first as a test.

This was my test miniature. I painted them one at a time in case I wasn’t keen on the style I went for. I had a couple of ideas. For the longest time, I was going to paint them with different schemes. One inspired by fire, the other by ice. This stuck with me until I sat down to paint them and thought, let’s just see what happens. In the end, we arrived at this pastel colour scheme. Warhammer as a game is plenty full of grimdark dingy schemes, so why not make something a bit spooky and brighten it up? The lighter colours echo the ethereal nature of the spectre, and the colour transition really lends itself to defining the otherworldly feel of these miniatures. This is complemented by a fairly monotone base to let the model do the talking. Finished off with some flowers to match the colours of the miniature, I was pretty pleased with where this experiment ended up.

The second Dreadblade Harrow, at this stage the thinned blue and purple were mixing together to create a quick and easy blend!

I started to work on the second miniature. Here I’ll go a little into the paints I used: 

1. Primed Wraithbone Spray Paint
2. The front half of the miniature was painted with a 1:1 mix of Contrast Medium & Aethermatic Blue
3. While the front half was still wet, I painted the back half of the miniature with a 1:1 mix of Contrast Medium & Magos Purple, letting it mix in the middle.
4. I painted the bone with Skeleton Horde Contrast Paint

5. Basecoat the metal with Leadbelcher Base Paint
6. Painted the base with Basilicanum Grey Contrast Paint  

7. Once the Metal was dry, I washed it with a 4:1 mix of water and Mournfang Brown Base Paint
8. Drybrushed the newly browned metal with Fire Dragon Bright Layer Paint
9. Drybrushed and layered where appropriate the blue and purple mix with Ulthuan Grey
10. Drybrushed the bone and the base Terminatus Stone Dry Paint 11. Painted the eye sockets with Iyanden Yellow Contrast Paint
12. Painted the rim of the base with Abbadon Black Base Paint

The completed unit, ready for entry to my first painting challenge!

And here you have the finished unit. I ended up having quite a busy week and it took me until the morning of submission to complete these two models. That being said, when I did sit down to paint knowing there was a deadline and an expectation of submission, I was able to get the unit completed. They were featured for a week in the display cabinet at my local store. I was eagerly able to check out everyone else’s entries too. In the end, the ghosts didn’t manage to win the challenge, but I learned a lot about myself, by painting these new miniatures. I was inspired by the hard work and dedication of the hobbyists in my local area. It felt lovely to be connected with these wonderful people, unified by the knowledge that we’d all tried our best. 

I hope this article spoke to you if you’re a competition or challenge painter. I’d love to hear about your experiences. If you’re looking to paint up something different I can strongly recommend these minis, I had an absolute blast. As always you can chat with me @PrinceofBielTan on Twitter to show me what you’re working on right now.

I ain’t afraid of no ghosts!