+ inload: Morlocks +

Time passes. One after another, the mortals perish to bolt rounds, matter impeller beams, mortar shells. Two kilometres out, we are alone. Our vehicle throws a track when we hit impact mines. We debark without comment, without pause, and begin running forward.

Here on Isstvan V, our Morlocks – Clan Avernii, and representatives of other Clans they deem strong enough to fight beside them – have hammered into the Emperor's Childrens' lines like a wedge driven into green oak. Here there is structure, of a sort. Blood, armour shards and heat-sweat is rising over the line in an aerosolised cloud. I have never seen anything like it. Even from our vantage a few hundred of yards back, the cacophony of Astartes-on-Astartes combat is rising over the general din.

As we watch, aspects of the line are swallowed by fireballs and missile impacts, or cleared by graser-sweeps and detonations, murdering conquerors of worlds and heroes of humanity like chaff. Such is the martial pressure that such gaps are closed near-instantly as rageful Legionaries pour forward to clash over the falling corpses of their brethren.

The Morlocks are driving forward furiously. There must be thousands of Iron Hands, each stepping forward with heavy tread to combat the glittering lines of the Emperor's Children. The line of advance is too broad to be centred on the Primarch; but for a glorious moment I see Ferrus Manus emerge from a storm of fire. His armour is aglow, his weapon – the mighty Fireblade – culling Fulgrim's elites with each sweep. It is glorious. It is an exemplary massacre; executed with all the skill and power the Tenth can muster.

It is monstrous in its fury.

It is also – I realise, with an unfamiliar cold twist in my guts – far from certain that it will be enough.

On Medusa, the Morlocks are apex predators. The arrival of the Legion saw their brutal demotion; just as all xenos species – sentient, sapient or otherwise – was put firmly underfoot by the Imperium. Here on Isstvan, I recognise a similar result. Clan Avernii are powerful, but they are outnumbered. From our position in the rear, I see the strength of the Emperor's Children as the Avernii's flanks are overwhelmed. It is slow – I am sure too slow for the IIIrd Legion's liking – but inexorable. Predators, Land Raiders and Rhinos begin to curl around the Iron Hand line, supported by clades of marching purple-armoured figures. Furiously as my brethren fight, the line is being attentuated, draw thin as the Morlocks vainly try to keep pace with Ferrus.

I turn back, searching for our Primarch in the swell of destruction, even as we continue to sprint. We find ourselves walking over a field of the dead and broken; our pace broken by the curve of armour and forced to sidestep smouldering tank-wrecks. We meet and pass Avernii casualties, vainly limping or stumbling forward, their faces and limbs twisted into fury that borders on lunacy. We are swept up. There! Ferrus has emerged at the head of a knot of Iron Hands, who club and brutalise their way through the shimmering bladework of the Phoenix Guard. They stand at the base of a craggy hill, driving upwards.

Onwards to the peak! Onwards to Ferrus!


+ WIP shots +

+ Some Clan Avernii veterans (i.e. command squad people), plus the Immortal, who I think needs a couple of tweaks to his arm.

+ inload: Ferrus Manus conversion and painting +

+ inload: Ferrus Manus Illuminated +

+ Like many hobbyists, I like playing the underdog. Apart from anything else, the narrative of knowing your army is doomed takes away the sting of defeat :P +

+ In any case, I find the narrative of the Tenth Legion Astartes very attractive. Their background best captures the pathetic aesthetic of 40k for me: betrayed by its allies, bereft of its father; it is a leaderless, rudderless and seemingly futureless Legion, which fights as much through spite and rage as through honour and duty. There is no hope for the Iron Hands, and this doom has a certain poetry to it – not that you'd get a Medusan to admit it! +

+ I've wanted to build and paint a version of Ferrus Manus for a long time. He's a great character – there's a note in one of Forge World's books that the Heresy might still have been averted, were it not for the murder of Ferrus. He is a key linchpin for the underlying story of Warhammer 40,000. The official model from Forge World is stunning, but I wanted to have a go at giving the piece my own twist. This would also let me make a few tweaks that better fit my mental image of the Primarch. +

+ Starting points +

+ I had intended to make this a step-by-step tutorial, but quickly realised that it was both rather complicated, and very specialised! As a result, the WIP shots are fairly thin. I started with a second-hand Perturabo, (this had a pretty nice paint scheme, and I felt a bit bad about stripping it using Fairy Power Spray). +

+ I used a craft knife to cut the body into sections, then began to scrap away much of the detail that relates the piece to the IVth Legion. Note that I've been careful to keep some elements like the cables intact – details like this help 'sell' the finished piece as something original, rather than a conversion. +

+ I blocked together the main structure of the figure to work out the pose, pinning every element centrally to allow for maximum flexibility. The figure uses Perturabo's legs along with Vulkan's torso – respectively the largest parts available in the Primarch range to get a sense of mass and power – and some from Simon Egan's Ferrus (left over from my Guilliman conversion), such as the hands, shoulder pads, head and backpack. The arms are from an Ork Nob; the sword a conversion from the Grey Knights Terminator kit. +

+ The arms were intimidating. Simon Egan's version has bracers, but I wanted to use bare arms as his silver hands are iconic of the character. Scale was important; so I ended up carefully scraping away and resculpting the musculature on the forearms using a craftknife, then marrying them to plastic arms. This stopped Ferrus having comically large hands, and kept them in proportion to his face. +

+ There's not a huge amount of greenstuff used here – beyond extending his midriff to give the correct height proportion, it is mainly restricted to filling holes and to add detail to the sword, Fireblade. Fireblade is the weapons Ferrus uses during his fatal duel with Fulgrim, and since I wanted my Ferrus to be firmly located during Isstvan, I armed him as such. +

+ These pictures probably illustrate how I work a bit better than a bare step-by-step. You'll notice bits turning up and disappearing (such as the Hand icon on his chest, the base) organically as I work. I'd love to say there's some masterplan, but beyond a very basic plan, I like to see the piece develop as I work on it. Some elements gel, others don't; and so I often chop and change bits. +

+ The base is a 40mm one, and because the pose is similar to the original, he should still work together with Fulgrim (as yet unplanned...) I undercoated him black, a departure from my usual grey primer, both because he would be predominantly black, but also because it gives a dirtier, dingier result – well-suited to the doomed Primarch. +

+ The head is separate (yeah, yeah, start the jokes now), and knowing this would be the focal point, I started with it. I painted the arms at the same time in order to ensure that the fleshtone was similar (though note I've used more red on the face to make him look angry. The silver to flesh transition on the arms was achieved by wet-blending the silver of the arms (a mix of Boltgun Metal and Sotek Green) with the skin mixes. Combining metallic and non-metallic paint will generally result in a flat result, as seen in the WIP pict-capture above. To reintroduce the sparkle of silver to the transition area, I later painted silver ink (from Winsor & Newton's calligraphy range, I think) over the area. Thin glazes of this will give a metallic effect without altering the hue as much as silver paint. +

+ 'Not angry enough', I thought, looking at the face. 'Too pretty, too.' Further layers, reworking and touches of sepia ink were added to build up a proper scowl and add depth to the eye sockets. +

+ Fireblade also used silver inks. It was painted in light yellow, with orange and red paints and inks added wet-in-wet. A mix of brown and red was used for the tips of the flames. While not strictly accurate, compromises have to be made to render light in paint. +

Painting the sword was also a delicate balancing act. As it's emitting light, Fireblade should be the lightest-toned element in the composition. This has to be balanced against drawing the eye too much from the face. I approached this by using greys for the 'white' areas on Ferrus. In combination with the 'black' – actually an off-black grey – the tonal contrast is reduced, leaving more space for brights and darks in the sword and face. The sword would still have drawn the eye if it were not for the framing elements. Note how the licking flames point to the face, and the line of the arms, sword and back-mounted claw frame the head to draw attention to it. +

+ There was only one choice for the dead marine Ferrus is trampling. A vibrant purple gives a visual break between the Primarch's dark armour and the dark base. It also links with the narrative. At core, the Emperor's Children and Iron Hands Legions are mirrors of each other – both obsessed with perfection and with leaders as close as brothers can be. In another universe, their positions might have been switched. For this reason, the same purple used on the corpse was incorporated into the palette for Ferrus. It's used in his skintone and in the dark mix of the black. The gold elements of his armour are washed with Leviathan Purple – all to suggest how close and intertwined the Legions' fates are. +

+ Note the white shoulder pads at this point. These would later be painted purple, to avoid drawing the eye too much (see below). +

+ Similarly to the principle of a shared palette explained above, I chose to paint the Emperor's Children laegionary's eye lenses grey. The shoulder trim is broad, so to avoid it being too 'bling', I painted it with fine gold spirals on brown, rather than pure gold. +

+ The completed figure. +

+ ... and finally +

+ I couldn't resist a shot of my two heavily-converted Primarchs together – particularly as this conversion uses a lot of the parts left over from Guilliman, which goes to show that even a lavish conversion doesn't need to cost the earth. +

+ On that note, I'd also like to say thanks to the Heresy Trading group on Facebook, without which it wouldn't have been possible for me to make this chap. In particular, W. Binns and M. Johnston; you're both gents! +

+ In closing, I'd like to mention the eyes. These posed a problem. Ferrus' eyes are described as silver, but this robbed him of pupils; which in turn gives him a blind, directionless look. In the end, I stuck to my guns and left him without pupils, but it was a difficult decision. I think it's the right one, however, as it is an important distinguishing and fantastical feature that helps him stand out against his brother. The comparison image above hopefully shows the size of my interpretation of Ferrus, who is mentioned as being exceptionally tough and strong, even amongst the Primarchs. +

+ I'd love to hear what you think – and if you have any parts from the Fulgrim, Corax or Konrad Curze models, please let me know... +

+ inload: Lord of Iron +

He strides - up and over the fallen. The Children of his brother - and his own sons.

His fury is palpable. Otherworldly.

+ inload: Painted Blood Angel +

The artillery tank bounces and lunges across the cratered, debris-laden ground. The noise –  not to mention the struggle to cling on – makes conversation impossible; though brief blurts score the squad comms-net as Miredan warns us of sudden changes of direction.

One such swerve nearly unseats me. Cinnamon grabs my wrist and steadies me. I nod brief thanks, then continue looking about me. The Kraton Fusiliers' vehicles are advancing more steadily than the Whirlwind; Miredan has to push our overloaded vehicle to its limits, and the single functioning engine is belching unhealthy-looking black smoke. I am sympathetic to the machine's pain. It is reliable; unlike our treacherous enemies.

Triumph pans the multi-melta back and forth. The Avernii have left the soil of Isstvan carpeted with purple and black bodies – more Emperor's Children than Morlock, I note with a certain satisfaction. Our earlier skirmish with Fulgrim's Seekers has purged me of hesitation or a sense of brotherhood towards these oathbreakers. Their reasons are shrouded to me, but ultimately irrelevant. I will not hesitate to fire first next time – even at Astartes; they are no longer my fellows.

At least, I hope it has. I take a sidelong glance at the Blood Angel. We nearly gunned him down, and it was only Blindhelm who made us see that we were fighting on the same side.

I raise an eyebrow at my thoughts. A little heavy-handed, I smirk.


Even amongst the catastrophic warfare raging around me, Catabin's armour strikes me as unusual. Such details jump out during the breathing spaces between fighting. I have felt it on a hundred worlds – a distinctive heady scent of an alien vine, or fractal patterns formed in trench-soil as I dig, or a striking hue in the sky. Irrelevant to warfare, but inescapably at the forefront of my mind. I have wondered idly whether it is a personal failing, or whether my comrades also notice such minutiae.

I have not consulted them. Small talk does not come easily to Iron Hands.

Catabin's armour: I cannot place the pattern, but given the number of Forge Worlds, vassal manufactories and variants, that is not surprising. It is a rich, warm, red; simultaneously a warning and welcome; fitting for the IXth, who I am told are as famed for not fighting wars as they are for their righteous fury when their invitations are declined.

It is also heavily artificed – more so than even the armour of the Salamanders I met on One-Five-Four-Four. There must be something in the geneseed of some of our brother Legions that they value visuals so greatly. Perhaps such variation is what allowed corruption and treachery into the IIIrd?

A shell lands nearby, and we duck ineffectually as black dirt rains down on us. One of the Kratoni tanks is smouldering, and another founders. We cannot wait. They are left behind; to catch up or perish.

Catabin turns back, having whipped around, and I see the Baalite glyphs on his pauldron. I cannot read them, but presume them to be a rendering of his name.

Irrelevancies. All of it. If the Angel stands beside me while we fight with our Primarch, he is as much brother to me as the black-clad. Ferrus will have his revenge; Fulgrim will rue the day...


+ A very fun figure to paint – I've tried to combine the bits I liked best of Rogue Trader, Second Edition and modern iterations of the Blood Angels. Why not see if you can identify the artworks I've used as reference, if you fancy a bit of fun? +

+ 'Cinnamon' is the first Blood Angel I've painted for about twenty years. Having some one-off figures like this is a great excuse to try something new and stop yourself getting into a rut. +

+ I've rendered Cinnamon's 'atroatican' name (Phaenuel) in Enochian [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+], an occult 'language of the angels'; quite a fun challenge to add the glyphs. The '-el' means 'of the group of', so it's on a separate line to 'Phanu'. +