Friday, January 30, 2015

+ inload: Sjorisar, he-that-is-called Temesgen +

And just as it was recited in the Woeful times, the same was told in the time of Stone. And just as in the time of Stone, it was told that just as what had once been eighteen would become divided in seven portions; one each for the cities of the Land. And the ram would be split into seven portions likewise, one each for the cities of the Land.

And the portions of the ram would be transformed into the spirits of fire. And the spirits of fire were giants. And the the giants were known then as Salamanders.
– Folk-myth of the Acerbian sea-gypsies –

'The XVIII Legion Astartes. Ah, what can be said of the sons of Nocturne? Humility. Nobility. Dignity. These three – perhaps alone amongst the Astartes – are the virtues of the Salamanders. And yet... what man could come to admire such devilish faces, such flashing eyes, such burning wrath?

Yes, better they become a warning. Better they become the devils in the dark.'

+ inload decrypt: Non-standard occulobe endemic in VI, VIII, XVIII genesperm.
+ Intergration: Terran-descent 3%; Fenrisian 40%, Nostroman 41%, Nocturean 98%* [*failure of synth-join equatable to Legion rejection].
+ Analysis: additional tapetum lucida layer provoked; low-light vision improved substantially. Successful infra-vision uptake in all successful integration. Thickened layer reflects carmine eyeshine; substantially pronounced in specimens showing melanchromic reaction.
+ Additional: Nostroman and Fenrisian phenotype shows high integration, but low pheomelanin reaction reduces effacity and visual effects – consider failure/altering recrutiment?. Specimens exposed to Nocturnean spore photoproduct endemic to recruitment planet show semi-permanent cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer formation; <spec.> a result of selection pressures on local population? </spec> Formation is exacerbated by non-standard melanchrome of Legion XVIII; and inhibited to nil by that of Legion VIII. Breakdown of melanin chains can take upwards of two decades <spec. based on initial suggested trends> removal from spores.
+ Action: None necessary: psychological impact on hostile human populations substantially improves Compliance projections. Non-standard melanchrome renders XVIII Legion specimens virtually immune to low-level visual radiation damage. Casualty ratings substantially (ca. 3% lower vs. rad-phage weaponry) lowered; recovery ratings (ca. 17% faster) than comparable Legio VI/VIII specimens; lower only than X and XIV (both ~5/15% ~19% respectively).


Remember Sjorisar! Hold him high in esteem! Pillar of Terra, strength of the Emperor, eye-seeker of reknown.

Remember Sjorisar! As we bathe in fire; as we blacken and smoulder; remember Sjorisar!

Sjorisar Spear-caster! His name be remembered for ten thousand lifetimes even as we burn it away.

Stand forth, Sjorisar Spear-caster. Divest yourself, step forward in the baptismal flames.

Gone is Sjorisar! Remember Sjorisar!

Stand forth, Temesgen! Stand forth fire-borne! Hail Temesgen! He-that-was-another-and-is-now-Temesgen everafter!

Hail Temesgen of Themis! 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

+ inload: Honour Markings of the XIII Legion +

+ Few Ultramarines lack courage, bravery or tenacity. Nevertheless, not every Ultramarine is cut out to be an officer. Without the required intellect, initiative and charisma, a soldier is destined to remain in the ranks. Even a promising legionary may not yet have the experience – or simply have missed the chance to prove himself worthy.

+ Nevertheless, exceptional men – and every Astartes is remarkable amongst baseline humanity – distinguish themselves in many ways, and as such, the Legiones Astartes maintain scores, if not hundreds, of commendations, honorifics and tokens of favour. Some of these are general; such that a Marine from the vaunted First could easily gain the measure of an Iron Warrior bearing the Laurem Confortare. Others are specific to a particular Legion, or even a company of that Legion. The aforementioned Dark Angel might favourably compare his Exterius Significorum to the IV Legionary's honour, even if his counterpart would likely have little knowledge of the obscure medal. +

+ The Thirteenth Legion is known – both favourably and otherwise – for its pragmatic and practical approach to warfare. Nevertheless, the command circle of the early Legion embraced the value of reward and recognition; giving rise to over two centuries of traditions. On finding their Primarch, the Legion's early honours were combined with a whole new cultural milieu – that of Macragge; and later still with the traditions of the Five Hundred Worlds.

+ A common honorific is the use of chequers as decoration; which is known to date back at least to the earliest days of the Unification Wars, and likely pre-dates the Legions entirely. Issued as a mark of praise from an officer, the honoured Legionary is granted the right to have an artificer decorate a piece of his armour. The precise piece is sometimes specific significant – a chequered helm might indicate significant initiative, for example, while a chequered forearm might represent skill at arms – but is equally likely to be left up to the officer or the Legionary in question. 

+ In the example above, the Legionary has a row of chequers running up the centre of his left leg. Given the other details of his armour, and the date of the vid-pict, it seems likely this is simply personal choice. +

+ Ritual and history +

Most Astartes are naturally ambitious and competitive – it is part of what makes them such a successful force. For some Legions, this drive saw them develop complex pre- and post-battle rital, which included the decoration of their armour and wargear. Fashion is not something that one associates with the grim-faced ranks of the Legiones Astartes – particularly when one considers their length of service and lifespan, but they remain partially human, with the very human need to record deeds and events: personal victories, mementoes of fallen comrades, or defeated enemies. Combining competition and ritual invites comparison between companies or even Legions, and for these reasons, Legion honorifics – both in form and function – altered greatly over the nearly three centuries of the Great Crusade. +

The colour of the chequers has historically been of significance, though in the latter days of the Great Crusade, this was muddied considerably. At certain periods, the colours referred to the deed itself – as shown to the left, where this early Legion Master bears red and white patterning as part of his personal heraldry both on his power fist, and on the hood of his hunting falcon. Red and white represented blood and bone – a typically brutal reminder of the Legion's attitude in the early days of Unification and Crusade. +

+ These later examples date from the mid years of the Great Crusade, by which point the Legionary's left pauldron served like the heraldic shields of pre-Imperial history, bearing a record of the bearer's deeds, achievements and personality. The chequers' significance became extremely intricate and complex. Diagonal strips of chequers might mark a Legionary's birthworld or place of significance – blue and white being representative of Macragge itself. However, in panels or fields, they might represent something entirely different. For example, the field of red, white and black at the top left represented various virtues the Legionary had displayed (or hoped to cultivate). 

+ These decorative signs of virtue led to personality cults within the Legion, and huge amounts of discussion and competition between the human armsmen and serfs in their creativity – to say nothing of the artificers. These led to some of the most recognisable works in the Legion's cultural history, which were later standardised into forms such as the Aquila helm, the Praetor helm, and the dress cavalry helms (generally reserved for officers or honour guard)


+ By the closing years of the Great Crusade, immediately prior to the Heresy, the Ultramarines had largely rejected the flamboyance of personal heraldry, though some – such as the Captain shown to the left – chose to keep their hard-earned honours clearly visible. 

+ In the specific case of this Captain, he is believed to be a Terran veteran. His personal heraldry of quartered white and blue reflected an archaic form of rank markings, in which Commanders were marked out with a quartered white and blue field surmounted by three stars. Whether this is a deliberate flouting of the later guidelines, or simply a demonstration of the difficulty of communicating a change of orders across a galaxy, is unknown.

+ The image of the sergeant shown to the right clearly dates from a later point; possibly during the Heresy itself. Here, the chequers have become restricted to the squad banner. Note his helmet crest – standard across much of the Legion for sergeants at this point – which bears the red, white and black of the three Virtues of Macragge. 

+ Personal heraldry has been struck off  the pauldron, and decoration has become more subtle. Note the Pteruges that help mark him as a sergeant when unhelmed; the sculptural artificer work on his greaves (uncoloured, as had become the fashion); and the key pattern across his chest plate, a common flourish.

+ The more spartan form of decoration granted the Legion a much more uniform appearance, and it originated from Guilliman's first notes on what would become the Codex Astartes. Interestingly, there seems no directive from the Primarch at any point on this change – nut nevertheless the stripping back of personal deeds in favour of a united front seems to have been taken up by the troops over a few short years. Perhaps the Primarch's belief that the Ultramarines' role would change from conquerors to governors inspired a maturation in the Legion's mindset; inspiring fewer thoughts of personal glory and more of duty and honour for the people of the Imperium. +

Friday, January 23, 2015

+ inload: Ave Imperator +

+ 'Kill your darlings', goes the phrase. Not an instruction from a dog named Demolition to climb the nearest tall building with a rifle and a twitch, but rather the suggestion that the best way to push your creative boundaries is to alter, remove or destroy your favourite creations. As a writer, this might literally be in killing off your favourite character – how you resolve their death in the story can be incredibly enjoyable and creative, as you're forced off your steady route. This is a great way to create emotional impact in your work. +

+ How does this relate to miniature painting and modelling? On the physical level, this might be in discarding a successful painting technique. By choosing different colours, or using a range – whether paints, brushes or even water pots – you've never used before, you'll be forced into re-evaluating things. 

+ Secondly, you might kill your darlings by creating a new version of an old favourite:

+ ... or by building something unexpected. 

I'm very lucky to work with fine artists, and pick up lots of little hints and tips. These vary from artist to artist, as you might expect, but one thing that nearly all of them agree upon is the relative importance of tone over hue. I made a step change in painting miniatures when I applied this to my own meagre skills and moved away from my comfort zone of thinking in terms of hues – 'the armour is this colour, and the cloth is that colour' and instead started thinking in terms of light: 'this area is dark, so that area needs to be light to balance it'. 

+ The armour here is yellow; but only a tiny stripe is actually a yellow paint – most of it is either a reddy-brown shade, or a cream tint. The transition from near-black to near-white is what creates the impact, and ultimately, that's what matters in miniature painting. The hue of the colour is largely superfluous, while a miniature without correct tonal balance will always feel slightly wrong.

+ When I finally achieved this (after many false starts, I hasten to add) I really felt something change in my approach to painting, and started having fewer failures.+

+ The importance of failure +

+ Failing is a fantastic motivator, as long as you can sit down, work out why something hasn't worked and – more importantly – try again. However, trying the same approach as before isn't necessarily going to fix things. You may find that you were just having a bad day, and the new version is a success, but it's more enjoyable to just take a wander off the track and try something new. 

+ For this reason, it's important to keep your eye out for new techniques, new ideas and new approaches. Understand that there's no real measure of success beyond your own gut feeling, and have the courage to try something else when your first try hasn't worked. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of miniature painting techniques available on the 'net from painters and modellers with considerably more skill and creativity than me, so there's no excuse :)

A select few noospheric inloadlinks:

+ Those of course are jus scratching the surface, so do keep an eye out. Secondly, remember that miniature painting is just a subset of painting; which itself is just a subset of life in general. Keep your eyes open, as absolutely anything, from a diagram of a birds' wing, to a beautiful song, or from the rain on a window, to the rust on an old building machine can be applied to your work. +

+ As a personal – if prosaic – example, I put together this model of a banner bearer in imitation of a statue of Caesar Augustus, with his hand forward. The initial build of the model can be seen below.

+ Even when I'd finished building the model, I had a niggling feeling there was something off.) The original statue has his hand forward, but the piece I'd ended up using wasn't ideal. The intended posture is unsuccessful in execution – particularly so, as the gesture ended up having some rather unfortunate associations.

+ When I get some time to paint, I usually pick something on the desk that catches my eye. I leave a few things I've been working on in the cubby-holes so they're close to hand. Alternatively, if I feel that a model is built well but know I won't be in the frame of mind to paint that sort of model for a while, I'll store them until I get enthused about them. When a model lurks on my painting desk for week after week without any progress, it's a sign he's not good enough to be painted or stored. Such was this chap's fate – good enough that I really liked him, but with something niggling.

+ Eventually, while building some other Ultramarines, I picked him up and with a few quick chops, fixed him.

+ The new hand (taken from a Dark Angels Librarian) was ideal, much closer to the inspiration, and without the fascist undertones. He was painted that very evening, and is just awaiting weathering, some final freehand details that make him stand out as a particularly honoured Ancient, and a proper design on the banner. +

+ So, anything on your desk that just hasn't grabbed you recently? Why not pull it out and have a closer look. How would it look in green? Could you paint the whole thing with a size 1 brush? Let us know your problem, and the solution you found. Good luck! +

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

+ inload: Heroditians command +

+ Sergeant Symander +

+ Not all sergeants are grizzled Veterans. At the formation of the 190th, Lycios Symander was drawn up from the ranks, having shown leadership skills and capabilities above those of his classmates. He was placed in command of the newly-formed second squad of the line, dubbed the Heroditians in honour of a minor Senate member on Macragge. +

+ As a newly-invested commander of a new squad, Symander's armour remains relatively unembellished. However, he does bear a standard crested helm along with a decorated belt buckle –white on gold to symbolise Macragge – and, more notably, artificer-enhanced greaves. Their origin is uncertain, though the handiwork bears several hallmarks of Arius, a Techmarine attached to the 15th. Older Chapters sometimes acted as 'sponsors' for newly-formed Chapters, supplying a core veteran cadre to inspire the new troops, along with equipment, material and honours aimed at driving the new Chapter forward successfully. +

+ Armed as standard for a Sergeant, Symander has a Tigrus-patten bolt pistol and Marta Nova-pattern chainsword. +

+ Symander's equipment is – as could be expected – perfectly laid out according to the Marian Reforms; a series of directives sent down from Marius Gage to aid combat effectiveness amongst the Legion. While not compulsory, the Reforms were the distillation of the Great Crusade's lessons, and Chapters that adopted them often saw a spike in effectiveness. +

+ Brother Domnon +
+ The Marian Reforms, instituted towards the ends of the Great Crusade, saw a great deal of simplification and – within pragmatically broad parameters – adoption of a uniform approach. These reforms would later be refined and codified in the famed Codex Astartes, forming the skeleton of Imperial Space Marines' infantry deployment into the 41st Millennium. +

+ An important part of the background behind the Reforms was the developments made during the Great Crusade. Where the early Legions had relied upon dedicated comms-officers and signalmen, increased manufacturing power and refinement now allowed each suit of power armour produced to be fitted (retro-fitted in the case of Crusade Armour, but standard thereon) with comm-beads in both the helmet and throat of the armour, allowing inter- and intrasquad communication. +

+ However, the adoption of these early STC patterns was not universal, nor was it practical for far-flung or underequipped front line forces to replace these vital pieces of equipment. They were thus regarded as optional, and dedicated squad vox-men – called 'bucinators' by the XIII Legion after the hand-set's resemblance to an animal horn – were deployed within each squad of the line. +

+ Fitted with a bulky auxiliary backpack that could broadcast on multiple holobands or via a number of auxiliary methods (often dependent on the type of atmosphere the Ultramarines were fighting in), vox-men like Brother Domnon were expected to maintain communication while fighting every bit as hard as their comrades. +

+ The bucinators of the Ultramarines were often drawn by lots from within the squad – but some officers preferred to take a more direct approach and issue the task as either an honour, or even as a punishment! +

Monday, January 19, 2015

+ inload: Ice basing +

+ inload: Ice basing +

+ Brr! It's cold enough to freeze the hydrogen welds from a steel-carbon alloy servitor. What better time than to show the results of a bit of experimentation in the field (ho ho) of snow basing? +

+ A few years back I saw a second-hand Realm of Battle board being sold cheaply. It was painted with a snow theme, and I've been basing my current crop of Ultramarines to fit in. Up until recently, I'd been using Games Workshop's textured paint, Mourn Mountain Snow, and giving it a light drybrush of Vallejo white. That gave the following effect:

+ Effective from a distance, but a bit dull, and not very attractive. It does have the benefit of being quick and easy, but I wasn't really very happy with it, so I've been looking for a way to update the force before I get too far. Here's my findings:

+ Bring on the cold + 

+ Using the following four paints: Vallejo Model Colour White, Citadel Mourn Mountain Snow, Skavenblight Dinge and Dryad Bark, I painted four bases. +

+ From left: Skavenblight Dinge and Dryad Bark directly onto the base; Mourn Mountain Snow drybrushed white; Mourn Mountain Snow with diluted Skavenblight Dinge and Dryad Bark washed over; Mourn Mountain Snow overlaid with Skavenblight Dinge and Dryad Bark. +

+ I then mixed up my snow. Using an old blister pack as a palette, I squeezed out a small amount of PVA and diluted it with a few drops of water. I then poured on some Bicarbonate of Soda (note this is not the same as baking powder) and used an old brush to mix it up. The consistency was fluid, but slightly gritty – a bit like toothpaste directly from the tube. +

+ This was then applied to the bases using the same old brush. I lifted over a fair amount, then smeared it over the base. I found wetting the brush allowed me to create smoother drifts, while using a dry brush allowed for more textural effects. +

+ The applied 'snow', applied over the dried bases above (just paint; just textured paint, textured paint washed with colours, textured paint overlaid with colour). This was then allowed to dry overnight. +

+ Once dry, I ended up with the following. As you can see, they're all fairly similar. I was anticipating that the results would be crumbly or fragile, but in fact it's dried rock-hard. So hard, in fact, that it's going to be a pain to trim these back to get figures on them! I'd recommend that you finish you figure and base before applying the snow. It's not particularly sticky while wet, so it's easy to brush off your model if some gets in the wrong place. +

+ Pure paint created a smooth result; but I think I prefer the textured ones as they give a better sense of scale. My favourite is the one on the right; overpainted textured paint. Here's a close-up of that one:

+ So, a successful experiment, all done with bits and pieces from around the house. +

+ Snow bases +

+ Here's a shot of the same technique in place on miniatures:

Monday, January 12, 2015

+ inload: The Marian Reforms +

+ Marius Gage, First Chapter Master of the Ultramarines, is complete. Phew! +

+ With his power sword warily lit, Gage is pictured holding aloft the laurels of victory. +

+ There's a lot of fine filigree and layered detail on the figure. That made him fun to paint, and quite a challenge to get the colours balanced. I wanted to make sure he remained mainly blue, but there's quite a few additional colours: gold and white secondaries, along with red and silver accents. Fortunately, some nice neutral greys worked well for the frogging and leather strapping. +

+ The Ultramarine legion symbol on his left knee can be seen here. I mentioned this in an earlier inloadpost about building him – the detail here is mainly carved from existing detail on the base figure. This helps to make sure it blends in effectively. +

+ The back view shows a purity seal (or as I like to think of them at this point, meditation notes) and the studded reinforced plate on the back of his left shoulder. With fewer details, the blue is clearer to see here, and I think it shows the shape of the pose well. +

Getting a natural and interesting pose can be a challenge with Terminators, as having them too dynamic takes away from the impression of weight and power. Equally, too far the other way makes them look stiff and artificial. Hopefully I've struck a balance that the buyer's happy with. This shot also shows the strongest colours in the red eye lenses and the blue power field in the sword's blood channel – these focal points lead the eye across the figure in a diagonal, from eyes to sword to upraised wreath. +