+ inload: The Night before Ascension Day +

+ The plasma-forges have been burning brightly recently while I work on a commission model. Once finished, he'll show the First Master of the Ultramarines, Marius Gage, during the Calth Atrocity. +

+ Premise +

+ Marius Gage has been mentioned in passing in quite a few bits of Horus Heresy fiction. He's turned up in the artbook Visions of Heresy, where he bore more than a passing resemblance to Clint Eastwood (see left), and more recently, as a supporting character in Know No Fear. When I was discussing the piece initially, this was the image in my head of the character. 

+ However, the version of Gage that I'm working on is based on what I presume is a starring role in Macragge's Honour, the Black Library graphic novel about the Ultramarines' pursuit of Kor Phaeron's flagship following the Battle of Calth. I say presume as I haven't had the pleasure of reading it! For my reference while working on this model, I've been using images including the one at the top of this inloadpost, culled from review sites. +

+ Design specifics and planning +

+ When planning a model based on artwork, I tend to start by identifying two or three distinguishing features of the character, and then building out my interpretation. In the graphic novel, Marius Gage has a very distinctive suit of tactical dreadnought armour which combines elements of the familiar Terminator armour (I want to call it Indomitus pattern, but I'm not sure about that) with the layered shoulder plates of the distinctively Heresy-era Cataphractii suits. 

+ However, more distinctive than the armour as a whole is his golden helmet/face plate, which is reminiscent of Greek death masks. 

+ The head +

The Blood Angels Sanguinary Guard helmets were an obvious starting point, but the style of the face is different from the more modern, renaissance-inspired Blood Angels. 

+ The Blood Angels' helmets have definite stern expressions and (at the back at least) looser, more naturalistic hair – as in the statue to the left. 

+ In contrast, Gage's helm is stiff and formal, like archaic Greek statuary (see image left), particularly with its blank, expressionless appearance and formal rows of hair. 

+ I'm only partway through the greenstuff work on the head, but I started by drilling a hole in the neck and gluing it temporarily to a piece of wite. I then trimmed away the asymmetrical cables from the cheeks and the halo, before filing the brow ridge and dome of the head down just a little. This last stage is important to stop the hair that's added later from sitting too high on the head. +

+ With the head prepared, I added lenses to the eyes (these are blank holes in the original, for some reason), then added cables to either side. Starting from the front of the head, I then added a row of tiny balls of putty. These were pressed down flat in turn to form the hairline, before I used a sculpting tool to cut a slit in the front of each to form a neat row of chevrons. I repeated the process behind the first row, adding three more rows. This is so that the pieces of hair overlay each other. 

+ This was then allowed to cure. I'll go back later to smooth over the brow to get that impassive archaic appearance, and to add the distinctive cheek pieces that will thicken the head and make it look more brutal and dangerous. +

+ Pose, character and context +

+ Perhaps the most important thing about any model is the pose. Since they're so small, a bad pose can rob the miniature of any impact or attraction, reducing it to an action figure. It's also a great way to get across character. The source artwork I could find in Macragge's Honour seems to show Gage in combat most of the time, but I wanted to get across the nobility of the Ultramarines in Gage, who is first amongst equals. In addition, it's important to remember where he'll be seen. The chap who this Gage is destined for has the most immense (and impressive!) collection of Ultramarines, and Gage needs to stand out as a figurehead, and focal point for the army.

+ I had a very strong image of the character, and wanted to get the parts just right to help sell the model as a unique figure, and not as a kitbash or conversion. As a result, the rest of Gage is made up of an eclectic selection of bits, sourced as bits at the customer's expense – and very generous he was, which allowed me to make Gage just as I wanted. +

+ The body +

+ The legs and torso are taken from two Forge World characters – Ivanus Enkomi of the Minotaurs, and Lufgt Huron of the Astral Claws. These both come with the torso and legs as one piece, so I softened them in hot water before cutting straight through with a sharp craft knife. I picked these two because they both have interesting but not overwhelming detail on the parts. The source artwork has Gage's armour almost plain, but in the context of the army, that was going to look too simple.

+ Huron's torso has some Hellenic waist plates, crenellated collar and braid. These details don't obscure the basic form of the Terminator plate, which is important. Enkomi's legs have some great filigree, layered pteruges (the leather loincloth flaps) and nice rivetting that matched the arms I had in mind. The Minotaur symbol on his left leg was obviously too identifiable, so this was trimmed down with a craft knife, leaving the basic shape. I then carefully cut around the remainder to form an Ultramarines legion symbol. This trimming isn't something I see a lot of people do, but my attitude is that it's better to use existing detail as a basis for your work, as it'll always look more naturally integrated into the piece. 

+ The legs were also reposed in near-boiling water – this is a quick trick to help hide the source of the original models, which in turn helps sell the miniature as unique, rather than a kitbash.

+ The arms come from different sources – the left is Abaddon's, and the right from the Terminator-armoured Praetor. Again, identifying Legion iconography was removed from Abaddon's shoulder plate and adapted into the basis for the Legion symbol. Pleasingly, parts of the original decoration could be incorporated into the greenstuff work, giving Gage a Legion symbol that pays homage to his Terran birthworld (the lightning bolts):

+ The component parts were dry-fitted, then drilled and had pins added. I confess I don't always do this for my own models, but I think it's only right for a commission piece. The sword you can see below is from the Mark II or III weapon upgrade set, I think. 

+ Initial assembly and base +

+ Holding aloft the laurels of victory, Marius Gage accepts the Compliance of another world. +

+ A few spots of superglue later, and the First Master is standing tall and proud on a resin base. I've done a quick pre-paint on this as I've found it gives depth to the tone after spraying; and helps to make the figure 'pop' a little more. +

+ He's not quite finished yet, but assuming the buyer is happy with the initial structure, I'll be going back to tidy up and sharpen the initial greenstuff work. After that, a quick prime and I'll be getting stuck into the painting. However, that'll now wait until after Christmas, as I'm going to have a nice relaxing break! +

+ I'd love to hear any feedback, questions or suggestions for this piece before I declare him ready for paint, so please do feel free to post anything you like below. +

+ And with that parting shot, let me simply wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year! Here's to 2015. +

+ inload: Brother Ykypanipo, Nightmarcher +

And I was, as it were, turned into a dove/so that my arms were pinioned like a bird/Seizing me, he led me down to the dark house, the dwelling of Yrkla/to the House where those who enter do not come out/along the road of no return/to the House where those who dwell do without light/where dirt is their drink, their food is of clay/where, like a bird, they wear garments of feathers/and light cannot be seen, they dwell in the dark/and upon the door and bolt lies dust/
– The Red Dream of the Nightmarchers

+ Forget the power of technology, science and common humanity. +

Forget the promise of progress and understanding. +

+ There is no peace amongst the stars. +

+ Only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter of thirsting gods. +

+ For the galaxy is a big place and, whatever happens, you will not be missed... +

+ inload: Attend the forge +

+ A busy weekend left me with small periods of downtime. Fifteen minute periods scattered here and there through the day are not great for painting beyond basecoating, but it's fantastic for building models and sculpting details. Fifteen minutes is just enough time to mix up some putty, build a model, and then use the putty to sculpt on some details and fix any holes. +

+ These six marines have been given a pre-prime. I do this to helps pot any bits that are popping out as wrong once all the different colours – one of the downsides of using multiple colours of metal, resin and plastic, plus scavenging bits off old models – have been cleared out with grey. +

+ The downside of these short stints is that if you do get called away, it's easy to miss a stage. The marine with a heavy bolter here hasn't had the 3D printing lines filed away on his shoulder pad, so I'll need to get in there with a needle file before I start to paint. +

+ While work on the Ultramarines (above) continued steadily, the bulk of my hobby time was taken up with a Raven Guard marine for the Bolter and Chainsword's March of the Legions project. This is focussing on a different legion every month, working backwards from XX (Alpha Legion) to I (Dark Angels). While I've only done two marines so far, it's been a great opportunity to try out some unusual ideas and techniques. Here's a preview of the Raven Guard, Brother Ykypanipo, Nightmarcher. +

+ inload: The Avenging Son continued +

+ Work continues on Guilliman. I finished construction on Sunday night: 

+ A couple of people have asked for a run-down of the parts used, so here we go:
  • +Backpack+  Vulkan's, plus additional bits from a backpack from the Rapier set (targeter/sensor thing plus additional vents) and a vexilla from Forge World's Mark II command set.
  • +Torso+  Ferrus Manus' with greenstuff lower abdomen.
  • +Arms and hands+  Vulkan's. The left arm has a scanner from the Volkite Caliver set. The right hand (and sword) is from the Grey Knight Terminator set, with some GS to sharpen up the detailing. Not sure about this... tempted to find a different, more distinctive sword.
  • +Shoulder pads+  Privateer Press' Vlad, from the Warmachine line. These took quite a bit of filing and ProCreate to get to fit right! The leather straps are from Vulkan, and the Ultramarine symbol is from Marneus Calgar.
  • +Legs+  Vulkan's; reposed with hot water. The scabbard is from Sevrin Loth's Honour Guard, I think. The pistol's grip is from an old Inquisitor scale weapon pack, and the body of it is from a limited edition figure from the now-defunct AT-43 line. The grenades are from FW – the holstered Phobos boltpistol pack.
  • +Head+  Vulkan's, with greenstuff hair.
  • +Base+  Ferrus Manus', with a bit of modification to fit the rubble to the reposed legs.
+ I hasten to add at this point that Vulkan was a prize, and I managed to snag Ferrus cheap on ebay. The remaining bits were mostly in my bits box. I imagine I'd be rather less extravagant if I were buying all the bits new! +

+ Here's a few shots from various directions. Note that the hilt of the sword had snapped off between priming and photography. It's since been replaced – and pinned! +

+ The scaling seems to work fairly well. Here's a picture of Guilliman next to one of his men:

+ Taking the base height into account, the marine's eye level is roughly on par with Guilliman's torso, which seems about right. +

+ Painting +

+ With a one-off model like this, I thought I'd just treat myself, so I got stuck straight into painting the face. Before I began, I added a base layer to the armour around the neck. There's quite a recess here, and I didn't fancy the prospect of getting paint in there once the face was done! +

+ The whole head – face, hair and neck – was built up starting with a wet tonal base slapped on – in this case, a mix of an olive green (a Vallejo colour, I think 'russian tank crew' or similar) and Vallejo Dark Red. The GW equivalents would be Catachan Green and Scab Red or similar. 

+ While wet, I dropped in touches of GW Dark Flesh to the recesses and neck, and pulled the paint about a bit with the brush to remove any flat planes. Next, I used a damp brush to lift away some paint from highlight areas and left it to dry.

+ Once dry, I used various combinations of Vallejo Dark Red, Vallejo White and GW Golden Yellow to build up the skin, using dilute mixes so that the previous layers showed through a little. I find this the best way to get a sense that the flesh is organic, as it gives the paint depth and translucency. Placement here is important – look at a friend (or yourself) to get the areas of colour right. For example, the back of the neck is typically browner than the front, and the cheeks, nose and tips of the ears will be slightly redder than the forehead and sides of the face. Keep this subtle, and err towards a slightly pale yellow skintone at this stage.

+ I then added a touch of yellow to white to make a very pale cream, and used this to paint the eyes and teeth. Once dry, I added a little Mordian blue to the darker skintone mixes on my palette. This makes a blue-grey (and also ties in with the armour, making a coherent palette) which I used to redefine the eyelids and glaze the beard area. Since Guilliman's blond, I made sure this was pretty subtle. The creamy colour was lightly drybrushed onto the hair at this point in two or three passes, each gradually covering less of the hair area – the sides and back should be darker than the top, so give the top more layers.

+ Using either a very dilute red mix or a a red glaze (I used GW's Bloodletter Glaze), build up the colour in the cheeks and lower lip with repeated applications. Work gradually. The colour will build up, and it's better to do it over a long time than have to remix the base colour if you go too rosy. 

+ Beyond this, it's simply working with washes to get an expression. Use the tip of a fine brush to touch in the pupils of the eyes with a dark (near but not quite black) mix, then apply washes (I used GW's Devlan Mud) using the tip of the same brush. Washes don't have to be sloshed over. Using them in small areas lets you build up slightly dirty detailing in creases, wrinkles and areas like under the cheekbones to give a battleworn feel. 

+ With the face complete – currently, at least; I might return to tweak it – I painted the armour with Mordian Blue and gave it a wash of Asurmen Blue. This'll be the basecoat over which I'll build up the rest. +

+ inload: Primarch WIP +

+ Last night I arrived home to find the parts for my new version of Guilliman had arrived, so I got stuck in. My older version (above) depicts Guilliman during the Hypon campaign (a home-made campaign set at the height of the Great Crusade), but with Forge World's release of Primarch models, I've had plans to build a new version using those as a basis. 

+ Forge World doubtless have plans for their own version of Guilliman. I'll likely get a copy when he's released (such... fanboy...), but before he appears, I'm really keen to get my current vision of Guilliman down before I'm influenced by Forge World. The older version was built before the Ultramarines had had any coverage in the Horus Heresy series, so I was very free indeed. This was great in creating my own character, but now there's a bit more information, I'd like to see where I can take the character with a little more direction. +

Old and new Guilliman

+ This shot shows that I wasn't a million miles off the 'official' size, which was interesting to note. When I built the first version, that size was about the maximum I was happy with given the limits of the parts available – particuarly the head, which is superhero comic proportions (i.e relatively small) and which, even taking into account the exaggerated scale of GW/FW's miniatures, is verging on slightly pin-headed. The access to new Primarch-scaled parts meant that parts should be a lot easier to source and scale comfortably. +

+ The conversion is based on Ferrus Manus' torso on Vulkan's legs. These are two of the largest Primarchs in terms of both background and model size. Guilliman doesn't have a huge amount of description in terms of size except for being slightly shorter than the Lion, stockier than Lorgar, and smaller than Angron (and by extension, Vulkan and Ferrus). However, given the slightly larger size of my marines, I think the basic structure works. 

+ Nevertheless, I've trimmed down Vulkan's legs to remove a little of the bulk, and used Ferrus' torso – slightly slimmer than Vulkan's, an effect I've exaggerated by extending the waist. This should help to give my version of Guilliman an upright but slighter silhouette than both of the donor figures. 

+ When converting, I like to hide the stock models as much as possible. This was part of the reasoning behind using Vulkan's legs: they're in a more neutral position than Ferrus' very distinctive hammer-swinging pose. This neutral pose meant that it was easier to heat and bend them into a different position – in this case stepping upwards. This is complemented by the torso, twisted in the opposite direction to both donor models to further hide the source. My pal Bob_Hunk pointed out that Guilliman is about 'stepping up to responsibility', rather than looking down on his men – a description I thought really captured his character, so I'm glad I was able to show this through his pose.

+ Similarly, I've carefully trimmed away almost all of the Legion detailing from both donors. This will be replaced with Ultramarine-themed material; probably mostly during painting, as I'm more confident there than with sculpting. +

+ This shot shows the Primarch next to one of my marines. I think the height and proportion work quite nicely. One thing I'm not sure about is the shoulder pads. Do I give him the segmented ones shown above, the iconic round pauldrons of Space Marines (shown below), or something more elaborate? I'm also unsure on asymmetry. I could have different shoulder pads, but I'm erring towards identical ones to get that idea of 'perfect balance' which I think is important to Guilliman. I'm open to ideas, so please let me know what you think. +

+ These shots show a little of the remaining detailing. Vulkan's kneepad had XVIII (his Legion number) on it. I trimmed the numbers off, then replaced them to read XIII (the Ultramarines' legion number).

+ The back of the legs shows the similarity to mark II Crusade Armour. I love this detail. The sculptor's love for the background really shows through. +

+ As described, here's the round shoulder pauldron. They ones I use as standard on my marines fit quite comfortably here. They're arguably a bit oversized on my marines, but I like the broad surface they give, and the great bowl evokes the round shields of Ancient Greek warfare, which I really like. One big plus for choosing this pauldron option is that the size difference between Guilliman and his men gets an obvious reference. I'm leaning towards these, perhaps with the addition of some leather strapping hanging down to draw the eye and increase the apparent size. +

+ I've retained a lot of the lightning bolt decoration, as this seems to be universal amongst the Primarchs. In altering the models to create Guilliman, I think I'll have to be careful to make sure he ends up both as decorated as his brethren, but not over-elaborate. Guilliman strikes me as inspiring, but practical. +

+ So, there's Guilliman so far. If you've got any thoughts on his armament, pose choice of pauldrons, or anything else, please let me know. +


+ Finally, don't forget the Vessel of Ages project – see inload C: +[noospheric inload link: http://apologentsia.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/inload-c-post-one-hundred-you-may-have.html +