+ inload: Silver Stars markings and honorifics +

+ inload: Silver Stars Legionary markings +

+ We covered the basics of the Silver Stars paint scheme in this inload [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], but it doesn't really touch on the markings and so forth. Since I've had a couple of people asking about them – and very pleasingly, have seen some examples painted up by other hobbyists – I thought I'd scribble down my notes on the various sigils and markings. +


+ Esoterica +

+ Before anything else, it's worth making the point that the Silver Stars are (out-of-universe) intentionally slightly unclear, and this has been intentionally built into their marking scheme. They are, after all, supposedly the returned Legion of a lost or forgotten Primarch; or possibly a renegade Chapter masquerading as such behind an abomination; or perhaps the time- or dimensionally-displaced results of some Other event. +

+[identquery: unresoved – all records REDACTED]+

+ I think a big part of the appeal of the lost and forgotten Primarchs and Legions is that we don't know who or what they were, what happened to them, or why. Giving definite answers to those questions misses the point. The key to their presence in the project, therefore, is to provoke curiosity – to cause viewers to think 'I want to know', rather than to answer said question. At root, I'm far more interested in creating a space for others to explore the Chapters of the Partisans and Pentarchy and the myriad groups of Imperial forces, both orthodox and secessionist, that are about in M33, than I am in the Silver Stars. They are effectively a plot device, rather than characters. In short, the qeustion of whether they are a lost Legion or something else entirely is more important than the answer. +

+ The downside to that, of course, is that it makes it difficult to give guidance or answers on markings and colour schemes – after all, if you're going to explore the space, you have to have some answers to create a sense of verisimilitude and believability – after all, even picking a name and colours is in some way pinning things down. To that end, I have framed my own answers to the various questions about the true nature of Volnoscere and his Silver Stars, but they will remain obscured. Is this scheme the scheme of one of the Lost Legions? If so, has it changed since Unification? Who can say? +


+ The basics +

+ With that important proviso out of the way, let's get stuck in. Here's Legionary [REDACTED]. The basics of the scheme are armour as white as bone, as green as the ocean, as rose as coral; and with gold accents. In terms of placement, the helm and upper torso is turquoise (Citadel Hawk Turquoise), the remainder white (Army Painter Mummy Robes covered with Citadel Apothecary White, and highlighted with Valljo Off-white). +

+ The placements of accents varies according to armour mark and rank, but banding – on the shoulder pad rims and collar – is usually a muted gold. I'm afraid I'm a bit crap on metallics: I've usually stuck with my comfort zone of Boltgun Metal and Chainmail, and never learned the new paint names. Suffice to say it's a mid gold that's knocked back with a layer of Seraphim Sepia wash and Leviathan Purple added to recesses wet-in-wet. +

+ Legion markings +

+ Silver Stars bear what appear to be Legion symbols both on their left pauldron (as typical for Space Marines), and on the centre of their torso. The marking is a white, four-pointed star made up of four small, unconnected right-angled triangles. They typically appears to be rotating anti-clockwise on the pauldron and clockwise on the torso (both suggesting forward movement); but occasionally run in the opposite direction, which indicates a form of intra-Legion specialism or honorific termed Manawa. +

+ Whatever the direction of travel, and wherever it appears, the Silver Star symbol is near-universally rendered in white (that is, heraldic silver). This necessitates rose banding (Citadel Screamer Pink, for those painting their own) on the pauldrons in the form of an heraldic pale (a vertical stripe). +

+ Pauldrons are occasionally completely rose, or the rose band is a fess (a horizontal stripe) or a bend (a diagonal stripe from top left to bottom right). The colour also often appears on the belt buckle in a bend, and on the helm. Many Silver Stars wear plumes or headdress; any fabric or organic material is dyed coral-rose; and in their absence, a pale is applied on the top of the helmet, occasionally continuing over the faceplate. +

+ The right pauldron bears squad designations. Some appear to be alchemic symbols, commonly – but far from exclusively – those for Tin/Jupiter (), Gold/Sol (), and Bismuth (🜘). Others are more esoteric or unidentified, such as the example above. +

+ Besides the squad markings, the Legionaries frequently bear symbols on other areas, usually over the additional Astartes organs (symbolically, if not literally) – most frequently the secondary heart (right of the torso), and the sus-an membrane and catalepsean node (both on the helm). These are again alchemical symbols – occasionally modified – including that for calcination/Aries (♈︎), colgination/Taurus (♉︎) and scruple (℈) alongside the squad designation markings listed above. Considered unlikely to be personal honorifics owing to their frequent repetitions within groups (though this could equally demonstrate a close kinship or bond), these patterns may serve as markings to indicate larger formations, such as Company, Millennial or Wing. Equally, they may instead have a ritual, apotropaic function within the Legion. +

+ In addition to these markings are wedge-shaped numerals that usually appear within the belt buckle in black, but occasionally elsewhere, including on the front of the pauldron (as in the example above), on the helm, or on the rear of the backpack. These numerals are almost always identical, so do not seem to indicate squad, company etc. markings. Finally, the left knee appears to occasionally be decorated; seemingly according to purely personal preference. +

+ Notably, the Silver Stars rarely, if ever, seem to use numerals besides the aforementioned cuneiform. Similarly, script of any kind is notable by its absence. +


+ Over to you +

+ I hope that's given a bit of clarity on how to go about painting and detailing your Silver Stars without giving too much away. If you do paint one up (or indeed any of the Partisan Chapters), I'd love to see and share it here – please post it on Instagram with the tags #somethingsarebestleftforgotten and/or #warofthefalseprimarch, or on the + Death of a Rubricist + Facebook group. +

+ inload: Using hue and temperature

 + Full Stride: creating a path around your model  +

'I spent a mortal lifetime searching for what was good. I beheld then Titans; and ever after have searched for what is right.'

Aphorisms, Polyphy


+ Painting weathered white +

+ The Sons of the Temple, my Titan Legion, have orange and white heraldry, so finding a way to quickly and effectively paint large panels was key. Below you'll see a composite picture of how I tackle this. While it's demonstrated on white, the colour is largely irrelevant; as the same mix and technique is used for the orange and blue panels, too. This is important in terms of harmonising the scheme. +

+ To give the sense of scale, colours must be ever so slightly desaturated; and tonal contrast slightly reduced. Aerial, or atmospheric, perspective is the term for the effect that makes distant objects look increasingly blue and less vibrant than closer ones (owing to dust and light scattering). This technique makes blacks ever so slightly lighter, and whites slightly darker, while also merging the tones across the whole model. The intent is to mimic the effects of atmospheric perspective. +

+ The main image is the finished result, the top row the various stages. 

i_ I start by painting a flat, clean surface of Army Painter's Mummy Robes. This colour covers well, so two thin layers usually gets the result you want. If you are including any freehand (such as the heraldic fur markings visible in the finished pictcapture here), paint this on now. 

ii_ Next, we mix sepia ink (I use Daler Rowney's calligraphy ink, as it has a convenient dropper) with brown paint – I used Dryad Bark for this example. THis is then thinned down with a little clean water, a little flow enhancer (a colourless medium that breaks the surface tension of the paint), and granulation medium (which encourages the pigments in the paint to clump together, creating a gritty visual texture without physical depth). This is applied with a 12mm (½in) flat brush in vertical strokes, working down from the top of the area. 

There's no magic consistency or proportions of these components; indeed, I think it's best to vary it, as it leads to more naturalistic, realistic results. Having said that, you want to find a balance that ensures it's fluid enough to be lifted off by a dry brush, and thick enough to stay in the recesses. 

iii_ Working quickly, for the paint must still be wet for this stage to work, rinse the brush and dry it on kitchen paper. It doesn't need to be bone-dry, but take off as much water as you can. (You might instead keep a separate brush for this, but I find it more enjoyable to use one rather than stopping and swapping all the time). Using the dry brush, repeat the downard strokes slowly, allowing the paint mix to be drawn up into the dry hairs of the brush through capillary action. This is called 'lifting off'.

iv_ Allow to dry completely. This is shown in the top centre of the picture above. You can see how the granulation fluid has caused the paint to, well, granulate. It's a simple way to build very fine texture that, again, helps to suggest the colossal scale.

v_ Repeat steps ii_ and iii_ until you are happy with the result. As per my note on consistency, there's no real 'right' way of doing things – just make sure that you stop before you go too far. You can always add another layer later, but it's a [SCRAPSHUNTERRORABORT] to remove. +


+ Dread Hellespontion +

+ We last saw this Engine in my review of the Nemesis Warbringer Titan kit [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], and the poor fella has rather slipped through the net on painting updates. I think I got enthused by Blood Angels and Gatebreakers at the time, so never posted him up. +

+ He is, however, well on his way to completion. He's also a good example of how the weathering technique above works across a whole titan. You can see some blue and white panels here alongside the orange; and different iterations of the same mix have been applied across all without discrimination. +

+ Two particular things to note – not every armour panel has been treated, and the metals are not touched with this. As an example of the former point, the knee and lower leg on the left of the pict-capture above are the plain base coat. This gives me the freedom to add freehand to these areas later, once I can see how the overall structure looks. Assessing and adjusting is something that I like to do while I work, as it keeps my mind active and involved, creating interest and stopping it becoming a chore. +

+ Secondly, leaving some areas clean means that I can build and layer the existing panels later, creating natural variance in the finish. Titans are both vast and religiously important to the techpriesthood, so cleaning and maintaining them is not just a case of getting the garden hose out. I reason that the enginseers might occasionally replace entire panels of armour, leaving some (temporarily) pristine, while others are repaired and made good. Over the years, these much-repaired panels would build up a particular patina and distinctive quality. Who knows? Perhaps some Legios allow individual Titan crews some leverage in deciding whether and how to make sure their charges are maintained – making the decision of whether to repair or replace areas a balance akin to the preservation and modernisation of mediaeval churches. +

+ Variety and difference in the quality of the glazes and layers helps to suggest this effect, but it's important that it appears intentional. To that end, I suggest building two or three broad finishes to ensure some cohesiveness, rather than painting every panel in a completely different way. +

+ Returning to the point about the metals, they are not touched with this layer; they will be done later, at a separate stage. The intent is that it helps with the differentiation between armour and superstructure, preventing eveything blurring into one. +

+ Another angle. Note that the model at this stage looks quite murky and muddy, so some contrast is needed to help add some pop. How do we do that? Let's read on. +


+ Giant laser guns +

+ Speaking of visual pop, how's this for contrast?

+ It's a bit of a PCRC in-joke that my models all look like they've been dragged through a muddy puddle. That goes doubly for the Titans, as I can't push the contrast in areas as far as I normally would – for fear of losing the sense of distance and scale created by the atmospheric recession. +

+ I'm not normally one for special effects on figures; I like a heavy dose of verisimilitude to offset the inherently fantastical nature of space knights and aliens. Typically, therefore, I would treat Titan weapons as properly encased, looking to create something that looks like a naval gun; but I'm not completely averse to the sparing use of visuals like this – it does, after all, look cool!+

+ My solution to the problem of the models looking boring was thus to bring in the SFX team. Not being tech-savvy enough to make use of Bob Hunk's awesome LED tutorials [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+] – yet – I opted to use paint to create some much-needed visual contrast. Aerial recession is less noticeable on light-emitting objects, so opting to give a bit of weapons glow to the models helps bring back eye-catching interest. It's a very simple process: base paint the areas white, then gloop on the new Contrast paint. Once dry, use slightly thinned white to emphasise the effect slightly. +

Pow! Pop! KAZAM! etc. etc.

+ Choosing accent colours for impact +

+ More important than the technique is the colour choice. The lasers here could have been any hue, but using blue is particularly vibrant because it's the complementary colour to orange. When complementary colours are placed alongside each other, they each make the other appear brighter and more vibrant because each stimulates different photoreceptors in the eye. +

+ If you're unsure of a colour's complementary, a quick way to check is by staring at the colour under a bright light for thirty seconds or so; then quickly looking at a white wall. You'll get an afterimage in the colour's complementary. This is because the photoreceptors of the colour are temporarily bleached through stimulation, causing the optical illusion that the white wall is stripped of that colour, leaving the brain to assume the complementary is present. +

+ The importance of hue and temperature +

+ The use of your own eye is a useful technique because bald colour theory often neglects the precise hue of a paint. While it's true that orange is opposite blue in the colour wheel, there are lots of different oranges – some leaning more towards the red, others more to yellow – and lots of different blues, which likewise can err towards red or to yellow. If both the paints you pick lean towards red (for example), you'll be slightly harmonising the effect, which isn't what you want. Instead, you want to maximise contrast. This quality of colour – the precise blueness of a blue, for example – is 'hue'. +

+ Colour temperature is another way of creating contrast. As mentioned above, aerial recession makes colours appear increasingly grey-blue in the distance, which makes them appear cool. Some hues are naturally cooler than others. Duck egg blue, for example, is a yellow-tinged cool blue; while French ultramarine is red-tinged and warm. If your main colour is cool, you can use a warm accent for greater contrast and impact. +

+ For the Sons of the Temple, who have an overall warm scheme, I used cool blue for the lasers. As you can see, the effect is striking; preventing the force from looking realistically murky – but also a bit boring. This will also have a nice in-game effect, making things easier to distinguish for the players. My plan is to extend to idea to other weapon systems, using purple or green for plasma weaponry, and red for future volkite upgrades. +


+ Summary +

+ A last little shot of the force as it currently stands; and a close-up of 'Old Spiteful', Senex Codomannus. With his trim completed – in warm gold, he shows what a difference that punch of ice-blue makes to the finished result. Compare the similarities and differences of the blues hues across the model:, and the effects that has on how the eye works across the figure: from the immediate focus of the laser, then to the cool blue focal point on the carapace, and finally to the warm harmonising deep blue on the knee and lower leg. +

+ Be as generous as you can to your viewer: use hue and temperature to guide their eye around your model, and they'll spend longer looking. We spend a lot of time on our models; and a bit of theory can really help – whether your aim is painting for competitions, or simply to make get results for your own pleasure. +

+ inload: Gaugamela +

+ Titans! +

+ Gaugamela, the third Warlord of the Sons of the Temple (Legio Sumer-Nikator) is on the painting table. We last saw him when building the Reaver Maniple, at which point he looked a bit like this:

+ Fist and plasma here – these have since been returned to stablemate Manifest Law +

+ The head is from the wonderfully affable Artisans of Vaul, who you can look up on Facebook. The designs are available – nice and affordably – from the 3D design-sharing site CGTrader, through this node [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+]. To forestall any cries of anguish that (like me) you don't have access to a 3D printer, Artisans of Vaul have also licensed the designs out to Battle Bling and goldiesprints.co.uk. I've ordered a couple of additional bits from the former, and will doubtless pop up a mini-review soon in case you'd like to check things out before buying. +


+ Just add weather +

+ Spool on an evening's painting work, and he's starting to look rather less factory-fresh. Prior to the stage below, the orange parts of the armour received another layer of Citadel's much-missed Solar Macharius Orange; the white parts a couple of layers of Mummy Robes (from Army Painter's Warpaint range – this colour's fast becoming a favourite for white); and the blue parts Vallejo's Prussian Blue. +

+ This initial weathering/toning is produced with a variegated wash of Citadel's Dryad Bark brown paint mixed with Daler Rowney's sepia ink. This is then heavily diluted with flow medium, water and granulation fluid. It's the combination of sepia and granulation fluid that causes the particles to gather, creating the instant 'sooty muck'. +

+ The wash is applied panel-by-panel with a 12mm (½in) flat brush, which I then quickly rinse and dry before using it to lift off the excess. This is done by drawing it slowly down the panel from top to bottom. The excess fluid is drawn up into the brush hairs by capillary action, allowing you to reinstate midtones/highlights as you wish. The advantage of using a large brush is speed; the advantage of a flat brush is that you can use the corner of the brush head to lift out fine details. +

+ There's no perfect consistency to the wash mix; in fact, I think it's more effective and realistic if it varies across the model. Try different proportions of the constituent parts for different effects. More paint and ink will create heavier results, while more water can cause backruns. +

+ The heraldic shield was an off-the-cuff idea to replicate the heraldry of Hofmeister – a lager that, like the Titan above, has enjoyed a resurrection and vast improvement from its 80s roots! I think the heraldry the beer uses is the coat of arms of Bavaria (where it's brewed) – and if you're ever stuck for heraldic ideas,  I thoroughly recommend looking at British county flags or the medieval states of Europe for inspiration. +


+ Some Things Are Best Left Forgotten +

+ ... but not the Silver Stars. I've been beavering away on these; but much of my hobby time has been taken up with editing and sorting out the War of the False Primarch. If you're in the mood for some longer-form reading, go check out these recent articles:

+ inload: Endworlds +

+ Whatever happened to Barbari Kills? +

The cover was up. For whatever reason, humans did not adapt well to the empty night skies of the galaxy's rim. Haim felt it. They all had; though in different ways. She had tried to explain it to Brunski, a few weeks back, as the ship glided silently through the black, empty void. 

"Like... being watched; but not enough? Do you–" She had paused; started again. "It's just as though there's nothing holding me down; no anchor. Nothing secure. It's all too..." she had waved her hands in slow, loose, frustrated circles. 

Brunski had just grunted, got up and left.


Lowering her weatherhood, she cast a glance over her shoulder. A nod to Brunski saw him holster his rifle. He and Castaway turned and went back out; hoods up, eyes down. 

The sign read, in the peculiar glyphs of the backwater, 'Teleroftaels'. It wasn't hard to see the derivation – particularly not for an ideodact like Haim. Teller of tales. A village bard, then, she supposed; some sort of archivist, she dared to hope. A job as old as humanity. 

From the rear of the spare, stone building, came a voice. "Come; come." The voice was surprisingly deep, and rich; though it was cut through with a scratch. Haim was reminded, for a brief, absurd moment, of her father's audiorepeater. "The arrangement details are all in order; you are well come here." 

The woman's smile was warm; her skin folded and tanned like soft leather. Her head was shaved completely bald, save for two tufts at the other edges of her eyes, where the remnants of her eyebrows had been extended into short, beaded braids. A bold stripe, darker brown than the rest of her skin, ran over the crest of her head. Paint? Make-up? Some sort of tattoo? 

If she noticed Haim's vacant look, the teleroftael's face showed no sign. Her smile remained soft, unwavering. 


Haim blinked, and embarrassedly demurred the offer; waving away the proffered cup. The water here required adaptation. Inquisitrix Barbari Kills hadn't intended to stay longer than was necessary; and so nor did her team. 

"No, no; thank you. Do you mind if–?" Haim gestured at her own flask, securely gathered on her webbing. The teleroftaels nodded permission. You'll have my gratitude for information, rather than refreshment, mam. Even so; thank-you." At the other woman's gesture, Haim looked for a place to sit. There was a brief, awkward pause before the teleroftaels smiled apologetically, and lifted aside a pile of soiled textiles from what turned out to be a low bench.

Stepping back, the teleroftaels squinted gnomically, assessing Haim. The moment stretched. Just before Haim spoke, the teleroftaels announced, "You'll be want the history." 

Haim nodded. Odd phrasing, but for such an isolated region, it was reassuring to find anyone that spoke anything resembling Gothic. Most of the populations Corewards of Saxa Tarpeia had been utterly incomprehensible to Kills and her team. 

"Thank you, yes. Solid form if you have it. I tell you," she continued. "It's been a hell of a time getting any cartography or records of this entire region." The teleroftael's smile broadened, perhaps in pride. Haim carried on. "It's such a relief to find an historical repository. Even if it's just the local... " She stopped herself as she watched the teleroftaels shuffle backwards towards the back of the room; clearly uncomfortable with  turning her back on her guest. "Sorry; I'm gabbling. It's been a long search. I'm just excited. Should I ask my colleague to help carry them?"

The teleroftael's smile slipped for a moment; wrong-footed. Haim wondered if she had strayed over some cultural boundary. 

"Not think that'll be needed."

Unsure, Haim made a small half-hearted nod; and the teleroftaels disappeared behind a curtain. 


"Rimworlds, you Imperials call 'em. Most here just call it Edgeside. Out beyond the galaxy's rim. It's an... odd place. Liminal; know what I mean? Out beyond it's the big black. Just nothing. Sounds simple when I say that, but it's..." she paused. "Heh. Comes to something when even my words fall into the black."

"Like I say, it's odd. The big black. It's the end of it all, see? Sure, there's other galaxies out there, but they're just like us. Little island universes gradually wearing away. And make no mistake –" she waved a finger in the Rogue Trader's face, "It sure is wearing away." She paused, looking out of the colossal window once more. "Look far enough, and you can see it happening. Slowly, sure, and dust – just dust. Trickling away from the galaxy's edge into the true void. But nothing comes back in."

Her faraway gaze suddenly switched; as though a lever had gone off in the back of her mind. Fear. That was all Taiwo saw in her eyes.

"Nothing you want to meet, anyway."


+ inload: Flotsam and Jetsam +

+ On the Rubricist's desk +

'Oi, Roboute, stop hogging the blog!' – [Attr. Volnoscere. Likely apocryphal]

+ Coo, doesn't the dust gather quickly? I'd blame Easter for preventing me from updating more frequently, but in truth it's been our daughter blog, + Some Things Are Best Left Forgotten + that's been receiving my updates. Over there, we've seen the War of the False Primarch begin to unfold, with new posts on:

  • The Quadrargenta – the first four Chapters to declare for the False Primarch (or not false, I guess, from their point of view);
  • The Extinction Armada – the High Lords of Terra's understandably heavy-handed response to rebellion;
  • ...and a rather lovely look into the Tom K's awesome Marines Saturnine.


+ But I've not just been writing; rather I've also been doing some bits and pieces across my hobby spectrum. For the Endworlds, my Gatebreakers' Land Raider has received a base and a hint more paint:

+ The Order of Solar Ascendant [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] have received an unexpected batch of reinforcements, courtesy of a kind birthday gift:

+ Heads are coming, don't panic. +

+ ... and over in the War of the False Primarch, I've had a great deal of fun painting up some forumware Epic miniatures:

+ These were both a lot of fun to paint, and a successful experiment in using  the Contrast range. I heartily recommend their use for Epic scale: it's absolutely ideal. +

+ Whether these marines will ever see play is uncertain at the mo; but I hope I can get some games in soon. At the very least, they'll make for a nice backdrop to suggest scale in the project. +

+ Still with the War of the False Primarch, I also painted up a Sister of Silence. The project is proving hugely flexible and fun for me – and hopefully others too. +

+ The size and scope of the war gives a great excuse to paint up some odd one-off models. Not that you ever really need an excuse, of course; but it's certainly giving me reason to churn through a bit of the backlog. +