+ 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... +


  1. Nice write up and a brilliant conversion, I really like the effect you achieved with the flame sword and the glow in between the fingers.

  2. Wow! Primarchs are intimidating to kitbash and you've done very well! Interesting weapon choice with a nice effect, and the face is amazing too.

  3. Fantastic conversion and paint job! It's crazy how you brought such disparate pieces together to create a seamless form. This flame sword looks amazing.

  4. First off, Love your Ferus. Especially like the glow coming through his fingers, I would suspect that was really tricky to pull off!

    Also, not sure if you recall, but you really inspired me with your Robute too. Is there any way I can send over a pic of my version? (Its all over facebook if your in the right groups...)


    1. I'd love to see it - can you post a URL in the replies here? Alternatively, you can send me a picture at my gmail.com account, (the first part is simply 'Rubricist')


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