+ inload: Brother Xevious +

+ More details of individual marines incoming. +

+ Brother Xevious, late of 15th Chapter (cognomen: Praetors of Calth), hails from the moons of the gas giant Circe. Modified Phobos-pattern boltgun resting on his hip, he strikes an insouciant figure in this holopict-capture, taken after he and his surviving squadmates had liaised with the 190th. after the initial shock of the atrocity. Unusually for this period, he is clad in hybrid Mark V plate, with its distinctive reinforcing rivets and exposed cabling. +

+ From his unusual armour style, one might suspect that he has been issued with gear at a later date than his brethren – perhaps as part of a recent intake or transfer from another Chapter – but records and serial analysis indicate that Xevious' suit is his original issue, with minor changes caused by gradual part replacement over time. Note that this has restricted the normally large Legion symbol to a small area at the very apex. This was a common contemporary position for the icon for those issued with bonding-studded plates, in contrast to its transfer to the right-hand plate as is common today. +

+ When standing alongside his brethren, little remains to suggest his stocky and short pre-Astartes build – his baseline gene-runes being overridden by the majesty of his Legion-sire upon implantation and turning him into one amongst thousands of the nigh-indistinguishable Astartes. Surviving records from Captain Teutonus mention – perhaps wryly – that his forced appearance change was 'the last time Xev obeyed anyone, willingly or otherwise'. +

+ The legionary was notorious amongst the officer cadre – but well-liked by his peers – for his contrary nature and dogged determination not to fit in. Fortunately for him, he mainly chose to exercise this strong-headedness through the pursuit of excellence; making himself stand out as different through virtue. Nevertheless, he was cited numerous times for 'imaginative' interpretation of orders, wilful damage to Legion property and low-level friction with his superiors. Until his death during the early days of the Calth war, he remained simultaneously the most decorated and most censured Ultramarine in the Chapter. +

+ inload: Know No Fear! +

+ A showcase of the army as it currently stands +

+ I set my Ultramarines up for a few shots last night. I was slightly startled to see how many there are now, and there's a few missing from these shots. These show all the 'completed' ones – though I'm planning to rebase them all with bicarbonate of soda snow (as shown on a few). I'll doubtless feel the need to repaint the iconography at some point, too. +

+ With the bulk of the basic infantry completed, now it's time to turn my attention to other things, like Dreadnoughts, support weaponry and tanks. +

+ Anyway, on with the show! +

+ inload: Lieutenant Caperneon +

+ inload: Lieutenant Caperneon +

+ A minor officer of the Legion, Caperneon was a stolid and dependable Terran, as suggested by the symbol of the Raptor's head on his breastplate. While a capable – even daring – fighter in his early years as an Astartes, he found his true vocation in helping to oversee the Legion's expansion across the Five Hundred Worlds in the years following the discovery of Macragge and the Primarch. Proving a capable governor, distributor and commander, he was moved from Chapter to Chapter many times during these years. A naturally stand-offish character, he used his reputation as distant and disapproving to good effect in getting the best from the Ultramarines of the line. +

+ Before joining the 190th as a training officer immediately before the Calth Muster, Caperneon served as a Naval commander, operating as a true 'void marine' and helping to co-ordinate fleet movements across the sector, a task that found him working alongside a number of other Legions. His demeanour – briskly professional – doubtless reinforced many non-Ultramarine personnel of the XIII's characteristic style. +

+ His approach proved useful in some joint engagements – he received respectful commendation from allied commanders in Expedition Fleets of the Iron Warriors, and Dark Angels – though a number of other Legions and Solar Auxilia commanders found his manner grating enough to be a drawback in relations. The normally affable Captain Sejanus of the XVI remarked that Caperneon exemplified the Ultramarines as 'toffee-nosed, affected and dull as dishwater'. +

+ In addition to the Legion symbol worn by all Ultramarines of the 190th on their left pauldron, he bears a wreathed inverted omega on the right. This is the symbol of a Line Captain – the XIII often wore an abbreviated visual rank system that made it as easy as possible for friendly troops (particularly those unfamiliar with Astartes rank divisions) to identify broad 'strata' of rank – line troops, tactical officers and commanders. This was borne on the right pauldron (the trailing arm when firing a boltgun) to make identification clearer for supporting troops. +

+ Caperneon's armour is – as one might expect of his dutiful and understated nature – conservative in style, with additions to the basic structure of his composite mark II and IV armour restricted to common rank symbology: a short leather loincloth and the black-and-white longitudinal crest of his helm. +

+ A silver rank crest on his backpack replaces the more common back banner; and is the sole personal affectation on his armour. It marks him out as a void specialist, the reduced height being more suited to ship-to-ship and zero-gravity combat. +

+ Despite his reputation, Caperneon proved a thorn in the side of the invading Word Bearers, rallying the surviving 190th and 15th until relieved by superior officers. He perished, like so many others, in an unremembered and unmarked tunnel skirmish during the Underworld War. +

+ inload: More completed marines +

+ inload: More completed marines +

More Ultramarines trailed into the temporary base, some advancing cautiously, others limping. Some were being assisted, or even carried. Everyone was on edge. The appearance of the Lieutenant, along with three experienced veterans of the 15th and a new recruit of the 190th, however, proved a heartening sight for the rattled loyalists. A ragged cheer rose across the line as he clashed forearms with the sergeant who had assumed temporary command.

+ I'll show some more details and background for the new marines when I get some spare time over the next few days, but thought I'd post up a group pic of some more marines I've completed. This point marks the first time I can field two complete twenty-man squads in the new style, complete with vexillas, vox-network and sergeants; and I even tied off a simple Lieutenant (Centurion) to lead the group. +

+ So, the basic 1 HQ and 2 compulsory troops complete! *fireworks* +

+ Excuse the mixture of basing styles. I'm aiming to convert them all over to the bicarbonate of soda snow style eventually, but I always think basing works best when done in one fell swoop. +

+ Basic troops. Note the precedence of the Praetor-pattern helm. I missed these, so there are quite a few in the more recent batch. +

+ inload: A return to the 190th +

+ inload: A return to the 190th +

+ Breachers! +

  + I'm really pleased to see that the Ultramarines can take power sword upgrades for their breachers. Annoyingly, either Picasa (the photo site I use) or my camera seem to be applying some automatic adjustment to the images, so the blues appear far more vibrant than they should. I'll see if I can sort this out with a proper white balance in the future. If anyone has any tips to prevent it (I'm using an iPhone6+, if that's likely to be causing it, though it seems to work well with other colours). +

+ Other WIPs + 

+ The second squad of marines are well on their way now. These remaining few just need highlighting and details now. +

+ Of course, it's not all about boltguns. Rapiers seem to strike a chord with me – I think it's because they have crew you can see (I'm going to build them out of Grave Wardens, I think, for their reinforced armour). The Heavy Support marine here is the fifth in the heavy boltgun squad; then it's onto Volkites and tanks. +

+ Once I've got forty of the newer Tactical marines painted up, I'll start looking at permanent organisation and squad markings. Very excited to get Tempest, though the £72 price tag means I'm having to sell some other bits for hobby funds. +

+ Anyone want to buy (or commission) a marine (any Legion/Chapter) to help fund my book? ;) +

+ inload: Kaela Mensha Khaine painting guide +

+ inload: Kaela Mensha Khaine painting guide +

+ Enthused by the build up for the PCRC's (sort of) annual 'big game', I picked up a second-hand Forge World Avatar and painted it up for the game. More on this in a future inload, I hope; but to cut a long story short, it was a lead-in game for our upcoming campaign exploring a seemingly deserted Craftworld. +

+ The model arrived as below: neatly assembled and sprayed red, with the torso begininning to be blocked in. +

+ I straightened the spear, tidied up a few parts where the primer had come away and began to paint. 

+ There's a lot of balancing work necessary to get the glow right, I think. It's certainly a model that rewards some forethought and checking reference images for the effect your want. I wanted the body to essentially look like a lava flow, and the immediate answer might seem to be to paint it as though it's white hot. In fact, I think it's probably better to keep most of the body a dull red, or the effect's going to be overblown and lose any impact. If you have high contrast between white and black everywhere across the body, you lose the opportunity to create stronger tonal contrast to lead the eye, and also cause problems for any areas that don't use this effect. I've seen some lovely versions of this figure with a great body molten effect that have been spoiled because the armour doesn't feel part of the same structure – either due to overcomplicating the colour scheme or because it's simply too clean and bright. +

+ I quite liked the molten lava effect, but thought that the transition from yellow to black was too stark, so I repainted the recesseses with a pink mix of Blood Red and Vallejo white before washing over it with Vallejo scarlet, a surprisingly orange hue. Having brought the highlights (unusually, internal) up, I also reduced the tonal contrast by changing the solid black the previous owner had used for a dark ashen grey, painted using various combinations of a dark brown (Dryad Bark?), Abaddon black and Vallejo white. +

+ I then painted the armour areas with the same dark brown before painting them with Boltgun metal. These were then given repeated washes of Seraphim Sepia, with highlights of Boltgun metal and Mithril Silver added between. This resulted in a lovely mottled ancient gold/brass feel. +

+ To draw the eye to the focal point (the face), I highlighted the deepest recesses on the front with a mix of Vallejo scarlet and Yriel yellow, and the face with a lighter version of the pink. Note how the dark metal helps to avoid drawing the eye from the face itself. +

+ The Avatar's an odd but enjoyable figure to paint, being extremely quick to do ninety per cent of it, then taking bloody hours to pick out all the tiny gemstones and filigree work! +

+ The molten effect is duller and redder towards the legs, and the armour here is much, much darker – almost black – to avoid drawing the eye. I picked a cool pink for the gemstones to harmonise with the overall colour scheme while still standing out. +

+ The basing was fun. After a base layer of sand was glued down, I painted this dark brown, then drybrushed it around the feet using the same brown-black as the body to look scorched. The snow is a mix of PVA, bicarbonate of soda and water, and it was applied with a modelling tool, adding less near the feet to simulate the scorching heat of the iron body melting it away. I then added some tufts of grass from the excellent Gamer's Grass [noospheric inload link], and drybrushed the one near the foot with the same brown-black. +

+ The face and helm received repeated glazes of red and yellow, and I added some subtle touches of Leviathan purple on the head piece to suggest discolouration from the heat. The eyes were painted white, then yellow, then highlighted once again with white. This drew the eye too much from the body for such a large figure, so I used the same technique to increase the temperature of the central chest, providing a secondary focal point with the aim of helping to give a sense of power and scale. +

+ The armour was kept deliberately simple as a framing device. It's very easy to overcomplicate a figure and spoil the main effect. +

+ Overall, a very enjoyable figure to paint. Along with the rest of my Eldar army, he'll be winging his way to a new owner soon, to do battle across the void-sea in Sector Scandanavia. +

+ inload: Revelators +

+ inload: Revelators +

+ Salvation is at hand. The Emperor has heard your cries of woe and pain. He is sorrowed by your oppression, and bound to change it. +

+ He has despatched His own angels to grant you your long-deserved freedom. Obedient to His will, they turn the worlds over. The strong will be made weak and the weak made strong in turn. +

+ Rejoice! Bear witness to the breaking of the brazen seal. Behold Celestial Carneon, the shackled Bullock of Heaven. He has come to free you from the oppression of odium and peace. +

+ Rejoice! Bear witness to the breaking of the flesh seal. Behold the first face of Czenatzerub, Ur-zhul the Cronemother. She has come to free you from despair. Submit your minds to be opened, and your bowels to bear the mark. +

+ Rejoice! The cornet sounds and never ceases, and the ivory seal is broken. Behold the second face of Czenatzerub, Sleesh the Eunuchained. He has come to free you from drudgery, and lead you in dance and song 'til your body gives out. +

+ Rejoice! Bear witness to the forging of the unsealed seal. Behold the hidden face of Czentzerub, Black-and-White Emaralel. He comes in hidden paths to sate the starving with wormwood. +

+ Rejoice! The cryptic seal breaks as it is struck three times three and the Crowsnake comes! Bear witness to the great god Czenatzerub, in his aspect as the three-headed God-Emperor. He comes borne on the back of Carneon to free you from the weakness of the flesh, the servitude of life, and the banality of sanity. +

+ inload: Surufesh Silvertongue +

+ inload: Surufesh Silvertongue +

+ The Cronecrowned Mormaer +

From beneath, the sun looks broken. The surface of the water turns its hard light into slow shards that dance across the prince's skin where he lies, unbreathing, on the crystalline sand. His black eyes glitter in a face as pale as bone.

A minute passes. Two. The flow of the river is un-urgent. It is, like everything here, perfect. The water, clean and pure, drifts over him. His pulse is slow, his breath held. The moment cannot last. 

But it can be stretched. 

The river flows on. It is, like the rest of the landscape here, unchanging. The banks do not shift, nor does silt build up. It has been created to be perfect; and in being perfect, it attains a quality that some like the prince find unsettling. The dreams of this valley's architects created artistry beyond human understanding, but the results remain a mirror to reality – presenting it perfectly yet indefinably inaccurately, like the reverse of a coin.

The world is a beautiful mask. Worn closely enough, one might pretend it was one's true face. The skin beneath, however, itched.

A third minute passes, but the equilibirum is spent. The peace thins, becoming tense and attenuated. His breath is spent. Closing those black eyes, he smoothly stands up. Head breaking the surface, his hair begins to plaster itself down his face and neck, then shoulder and flank as he comes to his full height. As the water cascades from him, he exhales.

Facing the bank, the sashes around his waist and arm trail away, following the current as though pleading him to turn back, to escape down the river.

A little way back from the bank sit three. Two wear robes like his; a muted red. On this world, crafted from the waking dreams of their terrified people, this colour most commonly meant silence. The third wore robes of an indeterminate hue. It was neither saffron nor red, though it shared aspects of both. She was not the leader of the group.

The one does not address the three. The four do not speak. No outcast can be honoured, and nor can he offer meaningful honour of his own. For an Eldar, this is akin to excommunication. But what punishment would that be to a culture whose gods are dead, or mad – or worse?

In the stillness, the robes of the four appear tattered, damaged and careworn. A closer examination would reveal that they have been tailored this way; their construction artfully weaving a stylised impression of rags. There is a hateful beauty in the languid fabric.

The water stirs pleadingly around his legs as the prince advances towards the bank. He walks past the three, who do not acknowledge his movement, and comes to rest a step or two behind them, slightly off to one side. The red-yellow-robed eldar stands. She is the Crone here, though her skin is as unblemished as the prince's. 

Lowering her hood, she looks out over the river to the artificial horizon. A handprint, made with heavy yellow clay, and now dried and flaking, is spread over that face. Her head is shaved bare, save for three or four strands teased across and plastered to her scalp to make her unlovely. They fail, framing the elegant lines of her face rather than drawing the eye from it. She looks up, to the white sun. It reflects on her eyes, the pupils of which are as large and black as any other eldar.

There is a communion of sorts. A wordless baptism occurs. 

The prince strides away, his footfalls real on the false ground. There is much to be done, and much still to come on worlds far from here.