+ inload: Truescale Terminators +

+ What's on the desk? +

+ The Endworlds +

'What did you do?!'

+ Pictured here are Emblem, a whole pile of bits, and Musterion Dorius Brinn, a Rift Team commander (Musterion is a sort of low-ranking Gnostic) clad in one of the Gatebreakers' exceedingly scarce and much-patched Terminator suits. +

+ Brinn is a very kind gift from Kordhal, my fellow traveller on this journey to the distant edge of the galaxy – cheers chum! More on this large Rift Team Lieutenant in a separate inload – and more from Kordhal soon, as he's brewing a [guestpostinload] on his stunning Necrons. I for one can't wait! +


+ Alien Wars: Blood Angels +

+ Theoretical: Shading +

+ More painting on the Terminators of Squad Redepemptor last night. I blocked in the tabards, then laid in the shading on the remaining members. The shading is a very fluid mix of sepia ink; Xereus Purple (the new Liche Purple); flow improver and water. I vary this with Skrag brown(?), which is slightly red-tinged, and helps it stop the shading being too blue. This is washed over a relatively small area – a limb, say. Working quickly, I rinse my brush, dry it, and use the dry bristles to lift off still-wet paint from raised areas. It's a very rewarding process, as you can see the smooth highlights forming. +

+ The pict-captures above and below show the Terminators at this stage. The mix of ink and paint helps keep it fluid long enough to lift off smoothly, while the flow improver ensures brush strokes aren't left as you apply it, and also helps the wet paint left after lifting off to smoothly blend in. This means you avoid a hard transitional mark. +

+ If you try this, do stick to small discrete areas – if left for too long, it won't lift away, and you'll end up with staining. That's not inherently a problem – indeed, the gradients of tone you can create rely on more or less of the mixture remaining in place – but it's best to give yourself a shot at control. +


+ Theoretical: Highlighting +

+ The shading gives some depth and sense of form, but as you can see above, they still look a bit soft and lumpen. The purpose of highlighting is two-fold. Firstly, it creates tonal contrast – the difference between light and dark – which creates impact by being eye-catching. Secondly, it creates structure, by further drawing attention to the form. +

+ Tonal contrast is the single most important thing about creating impact. Whatever your style, approach or medium, if you want an arresting model, you'll need to create tonal contrast. The greater the difference between the darkest shades and the lightest tints, the greater the contrast and greater the impact. +

With a mid-key model like this, we have access to the full gamut of tone: pure black to pure white, and the challenge is to ensure that the transition from one to another is not too stark. A bright white mark on a black surface contrasts so much that the effect is jarring – this is part of the reason that black or white schemes (Black Legion, White Scars etc.) are traditionally seen as challenging. Better to build up the highlights gradually, working from the midtone up to the brightest highlight. For this, I mix Vallejo Flat red (the same paint used for the initial red) with a bright yellow (Flash Gitz yellow could work) and a little white, to create a pink-tinged cream. +

+ This is applied sparingly to the areas catching the light, then diluted slightly with flow improver and more red added. This darker highlight is then used to paint the edges out of the light – this represents reflected secondary light bouncing back onto the model from the (imaginary) surroundings. This gives the miniatures the illusion of size. +

+ For an example of the difference between primary highlights (where light is falling directly onto the figure from the light source) and secondary highlights (where the light is bouncing onto the figure from its surroundings), look at the front leg of the sergeant below. The greave (shin armour) has a bright, primary highlight running down the centre, while the bottom of the greave (the curved area just above the foot) has a fainter, secondary highlight. +

+ By applying the highlighting marks neatly, you start to suggest that the model has edges – which is what I mean by creating a sense of structure. By then overlaying the highlights with a still-lighter tint, you really push this impression, and suggest a crisp, fine area that is catching the light. It's important to overlay only part of the previous primary highlights: by partially covering them, you build on the visual transition, and prevent that super-stark, jarring impression of jumping too far along the tonal scale. For this reason, I don't go to pure white with these models, instead adding a dab of yellow to white to slightly knock it back. Pure white is reserved for the really critical details, like eye lenses or jewel highlights. The primary highlight on the sergeant's greave shows what I mean: the top bit, near the knee, flares outwards, and so throws that bit into shade. The highlight is thus less obvious at the top of the greave than further down. Close study of the form of the figure will help. +

+ Note also that the secondary highlights aren't pushed as far as the primary ones. They're not made too crisp. This is because adding too much structure here dilutes the effect, distracting the eye with too much information. Secondary light is softer and more diffused by its nature, so when building structure with it, it pays to be subtle. +


+ I hope to polish these off tonight – not a great deal more to do. +

+ inload: A Third Host of Angels +

+ That which was, that which is and that which is yet to come +

The 3rd Strateia of the Host of Angels

+ The army as it currently stands. Not all that impressive, considering I've been plodding away at this for – what, three years? [REF: Yes, Datalog entry: June 2017 M2; though that has been interspersed with lots of long breaks. +

+ These long periods between short bursts of enthusiasm mean that some inconsistency is inevitable. If this troubles you, then there are a few options:
  • The simplest option is discipline: avoid the breaks and keep going!
  • Make notes on the painting recipes and methods you're using – these can be scribbled on paper or stored on (say) a blog.
  • Learn to lean into slight inconsistency, and don't let the perfect get in the way of the good. 
+ Despite the slow progress, I'm pleased that I've managed to keep the standard up. It's easy to invest your test figure and early miniatures with all your passion and effort, then let your foot off the accelerator for the later ones. With the end in sight, it's easy to coast or rush instead of enjoying the journey. +

+ In my experience, little landmarks – as simple as setting out what you have completed, as as the start of this inload – can help to give you that little reminder of why you started the project, and help to keep the quality up. +


+ Squad Redemptor +

+ I've been building up the paintwork on this squad over the weekend. I was going to break it down into groups of three, but have ended up pushing all of the unpainted ones to roughly the same stage. Slower results, but will mean that they're quick to pick off at the end. +

+ One finished, one nearly complete, and four coming along +

+ The Terminators, converted largely from Forge World's Adeptus Custodes Terminators in order to make them appropriately bulky next to Primaris marines are big, hulking, imposing models 
– my tutorial is here if you want to give it a go [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. I'm pleased to hear the rumours that they'll be getting a stat increase and a few rules to make them hang around in-game a bit longer than previously. It's always rather galling to spend ages preparing something like this only to sweep them off the table in turn one! +

+ Batch painting's not very rewarding, so as soon as I felt my focus waning, I stopped batch painting and instead took one further. He's pictured above, on the left; next to the test model. As you can see, besides the basing and a little freehand for the Crux Terminatus (you can see the silhouette of the shape already), he's basically finished. +

+ The obvious question here is 'why six?' – and there's not really a reason. I basically got carried away building them! I could pull one out and paint him up as an Ultramarine, or Gatebreaker, or Word Bearer... but have decided to keep him as a Blood Angels. He offers additional options to the squad – chainfist or not, assault cannon or not – and will let the models do double-duty in things like Space Hulk. +

+ He's also a good excuse for further expansion – alongside Master Formosus (also in Terminator armour), I'll only need another three to field a second squad. +


+ Squad Paulo +

SQUAD PAULO Sinistro e Dexter: 

Brother Megasil (Porosa 1:54)
Brother Gorgidas (Parmiel 1:25)
Sergeant Paulo (Tatanon; Keeper of Tears 3:02)
Brother Daumier (Kyniel 1:54)
Brother Pontormo (Wormwood 1:03)

+ The other half of The Sorrow of Kings (that is, the Devastator Squad) detailed in this inload [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], Paulo and the others above represent the last basic infantry from the inspiration army. Once they're completed, it's onto personalities and the remaining war machines. +

+ To bracket the inload, then, here's the army alongside what's left to be done:

+ inload: Anatomy of the enemy VI: Fomn +

+ Anatomy of the enemy VI: Fomn +

Of all the miserable xenos I've had the misfortune to encounter, Fomn were the most frustrating. Like fighting fog, the filthy things simply refused to engage. When at last they were forced to coalesce, they came striding down the approach to the bridge, the auto-defences hexed by that horrorwitch. The brutes knocked the armsmen aside in bludgeoning strokes, grabbed Navigatrix Sulo – and, with her still screaming, disappeared into thin air. 

Blinded, it took us nearly three years to limp to the nearest port; by which time the Fomn were long gone.

Extract from Campaign in the Braccian Reach – Lord Marshal Endun of Battlefleet Solar


+ Abstract +

Brutal, ancient and aggressive, the Fomn's hidden empire has been fading for aeons; but stubbornly refuses to die out. Suffused by the immaterium through ritual and sortilege, their worlds and holdfasts are shunned by most sapient species – but their connection to the warp and mysterious relationship to homo navigus makes them a fell and avowed opponent of humanity.

+ First contact +

Scratchy and unreliable record fragments, found in datalooms and archaeotech hoards believed to date back to the Dark Age of Technology, offer tantalising hints of species bearing hallmarks of the Fomn. Of course, many thousands of species have been encountered by humans over the millennia, so why should such vague and indistinct records suggest a particular species? 

In this case, it is partially the Fomn's distinctiveness – simultaneously familiar enough to the human form to admit ready description, while distinctive enough to be marked out – that makes them recognisable, even from oral history. Their curious cycloptic nature, imposing physique and methods of contact make for easy and vivid description, even in fragmentary or partially corrupted data. 

More striking than their physical form, however, is their curious nature; and it is this that dominates all records of the creatures. Their suildluith – variously recounted as 'the evil eye', 'gimlet gaze' or 'warp eye' amongst a thousand other similar descriptors – is the main contributing factor to their long, if intermittent, interaction with humanity; and with their continuing belligerence. 

In any case, contact with the Fomn long predates Imperial history – and it may be that contact predates the Dark Age of Technology itself.


+ Fomn biology +

Adult warrior Fomn standing between nine and twelve feet from toes to the top of their head, Fomn are rangy, spindly creatures with thick rubbery skin. Skintones usually range from pale orange to pale green on their dorsal sides, while ventral skin is near universally a corpse-pale white-purple. Occasional specimens appear with different colorations, but this is rare. Clusters of darker spots are common on dorsal skin, and on the face and forearms.

Along with their pale, hairless bodies, their hands and feet are large and webbed, indicative of a semi-aquatic ancestry; and they favour swampy terrain and worlds with plenty of free water. Fomn are particularly vulnerable to dehydration and heat-based weaponry; and standard doctrine recommends the deployment of melta and promethium-projecting weaponry where possible. 

Fomn bear long, sinuous tails. Dependent on caste, some of these end in tufts of a hair-analogue; others in thick skin, rendering it able to use as an improvised weapon. All Fomn emerge from their sacs as small, pale and genderless creatures. Left in isolation, they will mostly grow to infertile forms roughly five to seven foot high, with a lifespan measured in centuries. In communities, however, they develop through a form of enforced puberty – known as atharrachadh – that drives them towards a particular caste. There appear to be dozens of these; but the most commonly-encountered by humanity are warriors, psykers known as (cailleach) and the 'daemon-speakers' (or dirach).

Lacking external ears – indeed, with few distinguishable facial features of any type save their conical snout, bristling with grubby, short, sharp teeth – the Fomn possess a honeycomb-like internal ear that grants them excellent navigational abilities undewater, or in poor visibility. This partially explains their prediliction for, and expertise in, fighting at dusk or in mist and fog.

Emitting an unpleasant scent of corruption somewhere between swamp water and musk, their most distinctive physical characteristic of all Fomn is their baleful single eye. Lacking binocular vision, their depth perception is poor, a weakness partly, though no completely offset by their ability to peer beyond the physical and into the immaterium. 

How this is achieved is unknown. It is a feature that has long intrigued the Imperium at large, discussed in everything from learned debate to folk tales of 'beasts with the evil eye' across the galaxy. The few specimens that have been captured demonstrate no obvious physical attribute of their optical or other sensory organ that would allow the ability; and while many of the Fomn castes demonstrate prodigious psychic ability, that is not a quality that extends across the warrior caste. 

Glossy and black, the fimir's suildluith has obvious similarities to the Warp-eye of homo navigo – the Navigators – and the Fomn are similarly rumoured to be able to strike down those who meet their gaze. A few patchy reports seems to corroborate this, but more common is a general sense of malaise and unease on those who find themselves in close contact with Fomn. Their common low gothic names often reflect this. They are variously known as witcheyesbascilixsoulhunters and hundreds more variants across the Imperium at large.

Most Fomn are male, with meargh females appearing vanishingly rarely. Larger, stronger and more intelligent than the males, meargh usually rise to positions of power through physical and psychic dominance of their kin. The apparent paucity of females has led to many human cultures telling tales of Fomn raiders spiriting women away to produce more Fomn through magical or sorcerous means – but this is without any basis in empirical fact; and more likely shines a mirror to the raiding practises and prejudices of human cultures in which such tales arise. 

Like spiders or toads, Mearghs produce vast sacks of offspring that are intermittently fertilised by dominant males. There is no doubt that Fomn take captives, but such fanciful notions as magical impregnation are founded only in myth: Fomn invariably eat their prey.


Fomn technology +

Fomn technology appears crude and ritualistic; but this belies its puissance. As with all aspects of their foul culture, the Fomn's wargear is closely bound to the warp. The symbols and markings frequently serve a warding role, guiding and channelling direct transference of conventional energy in a manner equivalent to Imperial or orkoid field technology; simply using the warp itself in place of technomantic solutions such as electromagnetism. In bare terms of function, Fomn weaponry is unsophisticated and ineffective; but this is overcome through their successful yoking of sorcerous warp-binding.

Fomn warrior armour is distinctive, frequently made from crude metals and stone, giving it a primeval appearance. Outwardly cumbersome and awkward, it is rarely form-fitting; instead restricted to protecting the head and bellies – which are culturally important; symbolising prosperity and dominance. The surface of the armour is invariably covered in eye-watering symbols picked out through inscription and highlighted with precious stones. These frequently evoke the suildluith of the Fomn, being picked out to look like open, staring eyes. It is yet another reason why many Imperial worlds dread the Fomn – even comparatively sophisticated Imperial societies associate the single staring eye with the arch-Traitor Horus and the traitor legions, and the appearance of such large monsters provokes a particular dread amongst the faithful.

Fomn blast pistols – or bataborradh – are heavy, brutal weapons that discharge high intensity laser energy. Swift-firing but short-ranged, these weapons rely on saturation of fire rather than accuracy.

Fomn favour close-in fighting, utilising brutally effective chain-weapon analogues to spread fear and terror. As with their armour, their weapons are often ritually decorated in order to enhance their already formidable physical abilities. 

Gaudy and primal it may appear, but Fomn armour is nevertheless highly effective. It resonates a low charge that not only protects them from psychic attack, but also wards off small arms and offers some protection against heavier weaponry.

Fomn armour does incorporate some concessions to atmospheric adaptation; the pict-capture above shows both the rebreather device built into the backplate and the incorporated communications array in the helm. Such technology is believed to be considered another element in the overall composition of the ritualistic decoration, and thus functional elements will follow the same alien aesthetic as the rest of the Fomn's technology. The crest on the helm here is an example; the shape concealing a shortband comms-mitter/ceiver.


Visitation fleets +

As far as can be ascertained, the Fomn maintain no connected empire; rather being a disparate species that temporarily occupies small, isolated worlds in wilderness space. The majority of such planets are deep in warpstorm-touched areas, hidden and protected from other species. Such worlds as they do colonise are swiftly polluted by their presence, invariably becoming mire-covered swampworlds, fizzing with corruption, as the Fomn raise fell monoliths and steles to their vast pantheon of gods.

Contact with humanity is rare and intermittent, with centuries or even Millennia passing without sightings of their Visitation fleets. These powerful armadas, made up of many dozens of vast dish-shaped craft, ply the hidden depths of wilderness space. While their motives are largely mysterious, it is suspected that their movements are driven by warp tides; populations abandoning worlds as the warp ebbs, and moving to invade and capture new holdings where the veil between the material and immaterial thins.

Fomn are superlative navigators, their biology well-suited and technology geared towards swift and silent movement across the galaxy.

+ Primary visitation fleet tracking M34–M36 +

Visitation fleets will descend upon planets with little warning; the warriors inside boiling out to swiftly overwhelm the inhabitants. Fomn use their method of arrival to disrupt planetary defences, translating from warp within the heliosphere of a star, then 'skipping' the warp to within a planet's outer atmosphere. The dish-shape of the craft thus becomes a form of weapon, with disruption caused both to planetary weather patterns and the warp signature of the planet. 

The physical result is to send scouring rains, boiling weatherfronts of mist, duststorms and other sensor-fogging atmospheric effects roiling across their points of landing; while the spiritual consequence of the warp disturbance is to fill the defenders with deep uncertainty and fear. The disruption that goes in front of the Fomn is thus both wide-ranging and profound, making them a considerably greater threat than their comparatively low tech-level would suggest. That they also make use of daemons and warp-magick further increases their capabilities.

This method of invasion, along with their swift deployment, is utterly reliant on their incomparably precise navigation through the immaterium. No other species comes close to their precision in galactic movement, which is part of what makes them so infuriatingly difficult to bring to battle – they are simply able to avoid or withdraw contact.

Despite these strengths, Fomn seemingly shy from conflict with advanced groups wherever possible, preferring to prey on backward or lightly-defended worlds. Since their objectives seem to be harvesting provisions – that it, livestock – or colonisation near worlds that are falling into heavier warpstorms, the Imperium finds countering such attacks difficult. 

Where the Fomn can be brought to battle, they are a strong but not insurmountable foe. A typical guard outpost or properly-manned Imperial bastion will have sufficient firepower to drive off feinting attacks, and Fomn will usually withdraw before daylight-equivalent cycles, where their protective mists dissipate and poor day-vision renders them still worse at ranged combat.


+ The Nova Terra Interregnum +

The disruption caused by the Nova Terra Interregnum meant that reports of Fomn activity – always patchy and unreliable owing to their unfamiliarity – lost all cohesion. It is believed that Fomn vessels took advantage of the galactic disruption to increase their attacks on Imperial shipping; a behaviour that had been hitherto unknown or unreported.

The Fomn showed no differentiation between attacks on Nova Terran or Old Imperial shipping, indicating their motives were purely selfish.

+ The Fomn during the Alien Wars +

The precise connection or relationship between the Fomn and Navigators – if there is one – is utterly mysterious. Even the Inquisition tread lightly around the wickedly powerful Navigator houses, and the few investigators that have dared to broach the subject have been immediately stonewalled. Imperial history records that they, along with a number of other human subspecies and abhumans, appear to have been artificially created in some way during the Dark Age of Technology; but the Navigators themselves admit nothing about their origins.

The Alien Wars, however, did throw some light on the relationship. In late M35, the Navigator House of Ghi – a so-called 'shrouded' or 'beggar' house, had been making a number of seemingly ruinous betrothals outside of the House to many different Navigator Houses; a practise that would have seen them die out entirely in two or three generations. A low-ranking unidentified Navigator, perhaps an ally or scion of Ghi, began to make a series of cryptic reports to the Ordo Xenos Inquisitor Moad Ben Djagal. 

He was killed by unknown assailants before these could be transmitted in full, but the decrypted results bore an unmistakable trace to a little known-world deep in the minor warpstorm Phlegethon. It was discovered that the world had contained a substantial proportion of the House of Ghi's holdings in a subterranean complex; and that they had been in regular contact with the Fomn. Upon further investigation, an entire manufactorum bearing hallmarks of the Fomn was discovered producing a fatal nerve-toxin effective only against homo navigo; keyed to activate only in two generations time. Realising the implications, Inquisitor Ben Djagal was able to bring the plot to the attention of the Paternoval Envoy, and a silent massacre was successfully avoided.

That the Fomn were heavily involved in a plot to destabilise or entirely wipe out numerous Navigatorial houses is an unavoidable conclusion. The question of why this might be, however, remains elusive.


+ Post Script +

What conclusion can we draw from the Fomn? Such nebulous lessons as xenos can grant are valuable only through negation: learning the shape of our foe through the space it should occupy. Here, it hints at conspiracy at the highest level. What do the Patriarchs and Matriarchs seek to shield from the wider Imperium?

I remain, at your service; Inquisitrix Barbari Kills.

+ inload: Michelino +

+ Squad Castigarius, Third Company 'The Sorrow of Kings; under Lord Dahavauron, Prince of the Erelim, 9rd Strateia of the Host of Angels.' +

+ (Well, half of it anyway) +

+ Combat Squad Michelino +

+ Another evening's work has resulted in five more marines polished off and ready for the field; this time a combat squad of Devastators led by squad leader Lithargoel 9:19, or Michelino . +

+ Painting desaturated blue +

+ Not happy with the blue on the helms in the previous inload, I repainted them with the following scheme:
1_ Base with a thinned-down mix of Macragge Blue and Abaddon black.
2_ Once dry, overlay with Macragge Blue, leaving the previous layer visible in  the recesses.
3_ Add a small amount of white and flow improver to apply initial highlights.
4_ Wash over with Leviathan Purple and allow to dry. Being a mix of red and blue, this helps the helm harmonise with the rest of the (mostly red) figure.
5_ Reinstate initial highlights – multiple layers help to build the depth.
6_ Add more white and refine initial highlights.
7_ Use pure white for tiny edge highlights.

+ The addition of black and use of pure white to highlight (rather than white alongside another colour, as I typically would) makes the colour slightly grey and desaturated; just enough to take the 'zing' off. Macragge Blue is a nice grey-blue anywayy, so this really just helps it along. +

+ Besides the helms, I've painted the weapons with metallics overlaid with wet-in-wet Gryphonne Sepia and Leviathan Purple washes. As the yellow and purple washes mix and intermingle, they neutralise each other and result in a nice, rich neutral that's not so stark as a black wash. +

+ The freehand was applied using diluted Vallejo Off-White for the white bits, and a fluid mix of Abaddon Black, Daler Rowney sepia ink and water for the blacks. Note that I've avoided using pure white or pure black in both cases. This means I've always got somewhere to go if I need to highlight the white or shade the black; perhaps to emphasise the form somewhere. +

+ The banner also uses Averland Sunset to create a wedge marking behind the Chapter symbol. There's no shading or mixing here; the illusion of form is created through glazing. I used thinned-down Averland Sunset to paint the shape, which allowed the underlying colour to show through. I then overlaid the side in the light (left of image below) once it had dried. The result is that the curved form of the billowing banner is suggested. +



Sinistro e Dexter:  Brother Titian (Eurabatres 2:34)
Brother Loredan (Eserchie 6:35)
Brother Michelino (Lithargoel 9:19)
Brother Doneto (Kadir-Rahman 1:68)
Brother Picabia (Rahaviel 3:18)


+ Following are some individual detail shots, along with some notes on details. +

+ Brother Titian (Eurabatres 2:34) +

+ Heavy bolters. Lovely! I think this shot shows the model off best – the 'golden angle'. I've used orange on both the eye lenses and the lens of the gun. Sometimes I deliberately vary the colour of lenses to add interest, but with a figure that uses red blue and yellow, I wanted to minimise the number of accents, and so chose to match them on these figures. Orange is the complementary colour to blue, so helps both eyes and head to pop. +

With the marine's left pauldron covered in studs, the Chapter symbol is displaced to the clear right pauldron. I opted to add the Company symbol (a large white blood drop flanked by two smaller blood drops) beneath the Chapter symbol. Titian also has a little grail symbol on his holster. +

+ The yellow eagle on the heavy bolter is a nod to the original (all the weapons were noted as having yellow eagles) as is the little blue dot on his rear lower leg armour. This is the army badge. In the original, it's quite dominant. I'm not a huge fan of it, but in the interests of 'accuracy', I thought a minimal dot would work well. +

+ I'm rather pleased with the depth of the red on these. It shows up particularly nicely on the stud-reinforced pauldrons. +


+ Brother Loredan (Eserchie 6:35) +

+ As noted in the previous inload, this is the marine that's intended to be as accurate as possible in terms of armour, pose and armament. I think he looks the business; probably my favourite member of the squad.  +

+ I've added a little 'IX' squad designation to the left knee on all the marines. This doesn't appear in the originals, but being so much larger than the RTB01 originals, I couldn't resist doing something with the additional real estate. I was sorely tempted to get stuck in with further freehand, but resisted going further on the threefold basis that it'd look out of place alongside the other squads; would reduce my design space for Veterans; and would make the army less recognisable. +

+ As with Titian and the others, Loredan shares the same Chapter, Company and Army symbols. You can also see his scabbard, holster and equipment pouches here. These were treated simply: Charadon Granite washed with the Leviathan Purple and Seraphim Sepia wash mentioned above, then highlighted with Charadon Granite and grey. +


+ Brother Michelino (Lithargoel 9:19) +

+ Not the squad's sergeant, but rather the Veteran who leads the combat squad when it's split off, Michelino bears a red banner, rather than the sergeant's black. Throughout the army, I've made the Veterans' banners deliberately similar, and the sergeants slightly more varied, to reflect that the veterans carry the squad's banner, while the sergeants carry their own. In the original army, the banners are differentiated only by the squad numbers (you can see this in the detail at the start of the inload), but I've added simple heraldic shapes in yellow; different for each squad. +

+ Michelino is the largest departure from the inspiration in terms of pose. This was for two reasons: the original pose was very similar to the others in the squad; and I wanted to use some of the cool new bits from the Intercessor box, such as the little forearm dataslave and slung boltgun. +

+ Speaking of the slung boltgun, I'm clearly a glutton for punishment; as trying to fit 'Michelino' onto the boltgun scroll took a while. It's not perfect – in fact it's barely legible! – but it gives the impression of script successfully. On the other members of the squad, you'll spot a purity seal or two. On these, the text can be suggested with mere lines, but that wouldn't work on this slightly larger size, so some hints at ascenders and descenders to give a sense of shape to the script is useful. +

+ (Alternatively, you could give your marines shorter names!) +

+ Unlike the rest of the squad, Michelino has Mark 7 pads, so he bears the same standard heraldry as the rest of the army, with the Chapter symbol facing the enemy. He also retains the red pauldrons of the Chapter (rather than the black pauldrons of a sergeant). He thus – hopefully – stands out enough to be identifiable, while still being very similar to the troopers. +


+ Brother Doneto (Kadir-Rahman 1:68) +

+ Sorry, Doneto, there's always one figure that's going to get removed as a casualty first. He's got a small whit blood drop honour marking on both his helm and pistol holster – the latter is set up for cross-draw, so perhaps the two are linked? This shot shows the IX knee marking nicely, along with the tiny broken lines of script I mentioned above. You're not stuck with just lines, of course. In fact, I think adding tiny details helps make the purity seals look more convincing, particularly in bundles like this. To that end, I've added a black blood drop to one of the papers. Again, this echoes the honour marking, and suggests a bit of narrative. +

+ The backpack's a 2nd edition relic plucked from my bits box. I think little real-world older details like this help to playfully evoke the sense of time and reverence for age in 40k. +


+ Brother Picabia (Rahaviel 3:18) + 

+ The Proteus-pattern missile launcher from Forge World is a perfect fit for this project: classic design backed up with modern materials and manufacturing. The sculpt is crisp and clean, and while it retains the core identifiable parts of the original, such as the asymmetrical cowling; top-loading box magazine and the back-blast suppressor (or whatever that weird jobby at the back is), it also cleans up the lines. The result is a crisp, solid weapon that's equal parts realistic and sci-fi. +

+ The wrist-mounted dataslave screen is just about visible here. Given the number of colours, I opted to keep the screen looking grey and slightly reflective, using the same colours and techniques as on the Rhino's headlights. It's worth noting that the forearm-mounted computer bit turns up elsewhere in the Devastator squad. Alongside the blue helms, repeating details like this is a nice way to differentiate this specialised support squad from the heavy weapon operatives in the Tactical squads. +

+ Note that I've not re-used the piece as-is, but rather cut and reposed the arm and hand to make the piece incidental rather than focal. The repose leads the eye along the arm to the missile launcher, which is far more important to the composition. The more characterful parts on the Intercessor (and other) sprues are lovely, but immediately identifiable. Cutting them up and reposing is a great way to make use of them without creating an army of clones. +

+ The missile launcher cowlings in the Tactical squads are marked with stripes that echo their squad number. I didn't think that was really very sensible for squad 9, so I used roman numerals to spell out the number, deliberately echoing the kneepad marking. Note also that the missiles here are coloured to evoke the original army. I've used a maroon, rather than red, just to differentiate the ammo from the armour. +

+ Finally, the purity seal is clearly visible here. We've already looked at how I do the scrollwork, but not the wax. This is a fun little trick – after undercoating the figure in red, you can simply paint over the wax in purple. While the paint is wet, tap it lightly with a clean finger. This lifts off the paint from raised surfaces, giving you an instant finished purity seal: Chapter Approved! +


+ As always, always appreciate your thoughts – particularly on what to tackle next? +

+ inload: Blood Angel Devastators, and a miscellany of xenos +

+ Target Neutralised: WIP Blood Angels Devastators +

+ Hot on the (w)heels of the Rhino [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] comes the Blood Angels' Third Company Devastators. As with the other squads, I started with the second combat squad. There's no real reason for this beyond the fact that it includes some fun poses and the more involved conversions. +

+ Painting is coming along smoothly; the reds are now completed, and the helms and metallics well on their way. I couldn't resist sharing them, however, as I'm really pleased with how they look. Since they're still work-in-progress, I thought I'd focus on the modelling aspect of them here.+

+ As with the other marines in the army, these are built from a mish-mash of Intercessor and Hellblaster kits [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], along with parts from Forge World (the heads are from the Raven Guard upgrade set). The heavy bolter, along with some of the backpacks, are originals from the second edition period – kindly gifted to me by fellow PCRC member StuntwedgeThere are modern equivalents, styled after these originals, but it seemed fitting to use the originals as I had them. +

+ As an aside, the original article in White Dwarf 139 notes that the heavy bolter was a conversion (from the contemporary Imperial Guard/Squat weapon sprue), so the fact that the heavy bolter in mine is of a different period to the other weapons is a fun little note – though I hasten to add by coincidence, rather than design! +


+ Taking careful aim +

+ As the project has progressed, the modelling has moved from being an affectionate nod to GW's original studio army, to challenging myself to mirror the posing and detail more closely. I thought it would be interesting to talk through a few decisions I made when making my versions. +

+ A direct comparison of the poses of the inspiration along with my imitations. Note that some attempt to replicate the poses closely; while others (like the squad leader) have been made more individual. +

+ Miniatures technology has moved on, but the RTB01 kit (from which the original squad was built) is a classic. I was keen to keep the charm of the original designs, while making the most of twenty years' worth of hindsight. My concept here, then, was to create a gradient of conversions within the squad; moving from as near a perfect duplication of the originals as I could to to a more atmospheric interpretation. +

+ Part of the reason for this was to blend the visuals of the army together. The contrast in the original army between the highly-finished Mark VI Devastators and the more basic paint scheme on the uniformly Mark VII Tactical Squads always sat rather oddly with me. [+APPENDSPECULATIVE: I wonder if there were behind-the-scenes reasons, like scheduling, behind it?] Whatever the reason, I wanted to make sure that my Devastators walked a line between fitting in the force, while remaining slightly distinctive. The decision to have some more highly-accurate conversions, and some less so, was my solution. +

+ Mark VI Corvus Armour +

+ The marine above [VISREF: second from left in the group pict-capture] is my attempt at a complete, 'rivet-counting' replication of Mark VI. I wanted at least one in the squad that I could point to as pure Corvus Armour. This involved reshaping the lower legs, resculpting the torso, replacing the arms (Intercessor arms have a heavier forearm plate), and kitbashing the arms and head. He also received an original RTB01 backpack, as a little nod. +

+ The others show some 'drift' from this. As an example, the heavy bolter marine (far left) has a second edition Mark VII backpack, and the torso has just been trimmed clean of the chest eagle. The shoulder pads, head, arms and legs, however, are Mark VI. This is to make sure that he both fits in the squad, and that the squad's overall look remains firmly Mark VI. +

 +Work in progress +

+ This overlaps with the other squads, where similar touches and variants from the 'base armour' has been done. The squad below, for example, is nominally Mark VII, but a close look will reveal two marines with Mark VI helms (and one with Mark IV). +

+ Why does this matter? Well, it doesn't, really. I choose to mix things up because it fits my interpretation of the universe better, but if you want your army to be all one armour mark, that's perfectly valid and justifiable. The Red Scorpions Chapter, for example, are noted as being obsessed with purity, a trait that reflects in their near-exclusive use of Mark IV armour. +

+ Having some individualisation and personalisation gives a sense of age to me. It also suggests the marines’ reverence for relics – along with a hint of the gradual decay and degradation of the Imperium. +

+ In the article – which is clearly where these ideas starting bubbling through For me – it's noted that a mix of armour marks is common. It wasn't until 3rd edition, however, that this was explicitly expanded to create patchwork 'hybrid' suits – likely because this was the first point when multi-part plastics made hybrid suits possible. +


+ Beyond the Blood Angels +

+ As the name suggests, there's more to The Alien Wars than Space Marines, so besides the Blood Angels I've been painting some xenos. +

+ I've had lots of big projects on the go recently – Gatebreakers, the Throng of Nog, Blood Angels, The Sons of the Temple – and while that's been good for making strides in my backlog, it has meant that the little one-offs that make settings like the Nova Terra Interregnum and the Endworlds more rounded have dropped off the table. +

+ To that end, I've been keeping a few odd models near my painting desk, so that if the whim takes me, or I just want a break from batches, I can paint them instead. The recent splurge of Princeps models; and the xhote and Alaitocii Eldar above, are examples of how that's been working. Dedicated inloads on them coming up soon, along with Anatomy of the Enemy articles. As always, if you've got a cool alien you want to show off, get in touch and we'll discuss! +

+ Along the same lines is this figure. This Knightmare Miniatures model revels in the name of Fomorian Bounty Hunter [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+]. He got part-painted ages ago, and I finished him off over the weekend. Look out for more on him soon. +