+ Common Core Concepts +

Monday, August 21, 2017

+ inload: The Alien Wars – Arcturus and the Lamb's World 117th +

+ The Alien Wars: The Arcturus Theatre and the first Lamb's World 117th +

Lamb's World [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]. Of the planet itself, little is said; for it represents just one amongst hundreds of thousands that make up the Imperium. A backwater rainworld, loosly civilised, it sends its sons and daughters out to fight the Emperor's wars, and has done so for many millennia. +

Typical Lamb's World guardsmen - pugnacious, grimy and resolute.
+ Numerous regiments from the planet have served in the Imperium's armies; most more dutifully than remarkably. The 27th 'Copper Hornets' fought in the Damocles Gulf campaign; the 55th saw service in the Dolor Debacle; and a later raising of the 117th – the so-called 'Black Hands' – were deployed to Shale. +

+ The 117th regiment seems to have a cursed history. Owing to the peculiar recruitment habits of Lamb's World, there have been at least three 117th regiments, all of which have met dismal ends. The infamous Shale campaign [ca.M41], left but one survivor [cross ref. Terentius Dresden] or the resurrected 'Black Hands' regiment, while another was all but wiped out during the Fourth Scallop Star purges. +

+ The first recorded 117th served during the Alien Wars, far from the sector of their birth. Deployed to shore up the ongoing war on Arcturus in 191.M35, the regiment quickly found itself embattled against tough, resourceful ork invaders, who had established numerous beachheads and looked set to overrun the world in short order. +

Few Lamb's World regiments are specialised; the culture of the planet favours adaptable generalists. The 117th shows a preference for relatively low-tech and reliable equipment. The gunners complain about the 'back-breakers', but heavy bolter operators enjoy a certain cache in the mess.
The equatorial regions of Lamb's World has, since time immemorial, been plagued by an infestation of orks; which require the Imperial Commander to operate eternal vigilance – and his forces to perform regular sweep-and-clear missions. As a result, nearly every soldier who leaves Lamb's World will have fought against the greenskin, and become accustomed to their typical tactics. This proved not only useful, but life-saving, on the world of Arcturus. +


+ The Arcturan War and Imperial Politics +

+ Many Arcturans muttered privately that the lack of support in their war with the invading orks was a sign that the Imperium itself was withholding its armies as a sign of disfavour. This was, after all, a dark period in the Imperium's history, with the Imperium itself sundered in two. Most planets beyond the immediate influence of the competing galactic capitals had studiedly remained neutral at the secession of the distant Segmentum Pacficus, but privately, most favoured the claim either of Terra's status quo, or Nova Terra's claims of greater adherence to the Emperor's vision. +

+ Of particular note during this period in history is the general inaction of the Astartes. If the worlds of the Imperium were become increasingly withdrawn in the political and religious forment of the time, the Chapters Astartes were doubly so. The Ecclesiarchical Bull of the Emperor's Deificiation – issued within living memory for those with access to juvenat treatments – officially stated the Emperor to be a god. In its wake, the increasingly influential Ecclesiarchy was clamping down on 'heretic' faiths – which included most Chapter cults. +

+ While few in the Church were unwise enough to declare against a local Chapter, they privately petitioned against the Imperium's armed forces requesting any aid from the Astartes – citing numerous reasons; from the importance of humanity defending itself, to the Emperor's Angels literally ascending to dwell with the God-Emperor in some other realm. Thus the Church and its Angels sat in an uneasy and unspoken truce; one refusing to request their help, the other warily dwelling in their fastnesses. +

During this period, few Chapters looked beyond their immediate fiefs, in order to avoid appearing to favour one side or the other in the temporal or spiritual debates of the time. Of those that remained actively campaigning, most deployed to wilderness space, where they could continue their duties without inadvertently sparking an intersectorial war. +

+ The result of this was that, to many, the fabled Space Marines became just that – fairy tales. +


+ Arcturus, located deep in wilderness space in Segmentum Ultima, was far from the hub of Imperial politics, but Lord Governor Finchley-Gossamer, the otherwise shrewd Imperial Commander of Arcturus, had publicly spoken out and campaigned in favour of supporting Nova Terra against what he saw as an increasingly oppressive bureaucracy. +

+ The Historia Imperium, a common scholam primer on Arcturus today, makes it clear that it was vanishingly unlikely that the orks were in any way influenced by Imperial politics, but as the alien armada approached, many muttered darkly that the greenskins had been paid – though by Terran or Nova Terran agents was never clear. +

+ With the benefit of historical hindsight, it is more likely that the orks simply took advantage of thinning extra-solar defences as the players of Imperial politics gathered their forces closer to them, rather than contribute to cooperative efforts – but the dark cloud this suspicion cast over the defenders of Arcturus had a real effect on the war; retarding recruitment, slowing the building of defences, and leading to intermittent fighting and resentment between competing factions even as the orks reached the system pickets. +


+ Caef Burton-Gogh and the Arcturan War +

Caef Burton-Gogh and his command team at the height of the war.

+ The orks that invaded Arcturus were typical of the greenskins only in that they were utterly unpredictable. The unidentified leader was possessed of obvious skill and cunning; using unconventional strategies to wage war on land, air and - critically - sea. It was the latter that caused the Imperial defenders such hardship, as their navies - mostly hastily refitted merchants - proved woefully inadequate to operate against the precociously advanced field technology of the orks. As a result, the orks quickly established superiority here, making mutual support between the Arcturans city-states difficult. Even as the Arcturans desperately sought to defend major ports across the world, the orks gathered to destroy one after another via sea. +

+ Caef (a rank in Lamb's World Gothic dialect, roughly equating to Colonel) Primus Burton-Gogh was like a bolt from the blue. Capable, dashing and charming, the experienced soldier proved a key to the defence of Arcturus. He split the 117th down into two parts; a core that retained two-thirds of deployment strength, and numerous subsidary companies that proved vital in shoring up both the physical defences of the Arcturan planetary defence force and their morale. +

+ Having a platoon of the veteran off-worlders deployed alongside them proved vital to reinvigorating the Arcturan companies defending their planet. The natives quickly warmed to the cheery and vigorous Lamb's Worlders; and came to see the extra-planetary aid as a symbol of the Emperor's continued favour. +

+ The larger part of the Lamb's World army then began a fight-back, rallying the Arcturans and reclaiming two of the lost coastal cities in swift-striking assaults – though only at crippling losses. Even as the Lamb's Worlders adn their Arcturan allies prepared their third assault, it was clear that the regiment was going to be unable to continue active duty for much longer. +


+ The Blood Angels +

+ However reassuring the Arcturans found the deployment of the Lamb's World regiment, they were but men. While the tide of defeats slowed, the orks were still pressing their advantage across the coastal regions and moving inland. It was two long months after the reclamation of Porth Caul that a signal came that brought fresh hope to the fighters – the Angels of Death were rumoured to be coming... +

+ While the rumours were not denied, few in the High Command believed it. Indeed, a number of them denied the existence of the Astartes completely; though consented to a propaganda campaign being launched. + 

+ However, it was during the assault on Drevi Falls, the third coastal city-state that the 117th had set their eyes upon, that such rumours proved true... +

The Blood Angels 3rd Host in battle alongside the Lamb's World 117th.

Friday, August 18, 2017

+ inload: Squad Raphael +

+ The finished combat squad +

+ Okay, so a proper combat squad is now completed. I'm afraid to say that I just wanted to crack on and get these done, so there aren't any work-in-progress shots beyond this picture of the shading mix:

+ This rather unassuming blob is made up of two drops of Winsor & Newton Sepia ink, two brushloads (size 1 round) of Liche Purple, two drops of clean water and one brushload of flow enhancer. I've run a brush through to show the consistency – the gap opened here closed almost immediately; the consistency is a little like beer; slightly sticky, but no body like milk. This amount was sufficient to paint all four of the models in quick succession, given a cool evening (and refreshed occasionally with one or two more drops of water). +

+ These chaps represent half of 'squad 1' in the original army, shown above left. +

+ There are a few little additional honour marks etc., but stuck to the fairly stripped-back and clean look as far as I could. The honour markings themselves are drawn from the Rogue Trader-era notes covered in an earlier inload [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+], which I thought was a fun little Easter egg. +

+ I have been careful to include at least one purity seal on every marine. The period in which the army is set (M35) immediately follows the official deification of the Emperor, and I want to evoke that post-rational aspect of the era, as the secular Imperial Truth gives way. Doubtless there are a few older Blood Angels who remember a time beforehand – and there are likely philospohical and theological arguments still raging within the brotherhood and in the Chapter cult as the old and new doctrines interact – but in general, most of the Blood Angels in the army will have been born and raised treating the Emperor as a god, rather than a human figure. +

+ This is mainly because I've explored the Great Crusade era a lot, and fncy delving into the gradual decline of the Imperium into the baroque dystopia of the later millennia – a beautiful decline and fall, which nicely parallels the fate of Rome and Constantinople, a topic that was part of the inspiration for this army. +

+ That aside, I'm pleased with the result. Certainly an improvement on the first iteration of the army (sorry, younger me!):

The original Brother Engel, a relic of the wars of 1991.

+ Individuals +

[APPEND NOTE: Forgive the wet bases, wonky freehand on the gun-eagles, and that {SCRAPSHUNTERRORABORT] mouldline visible in the individual shots – these have since been tidied up. ]

Brother Barbarigo (Durbael 4:11). Note the Bleeding of Arcturus campaign badge on his shin.
I picked out a few details in Boltgun metal to suggest connecting ports and so forth.

Brother Donato (Duhael 4:12). 

Purity seals are a dull purple, to fit in with the scheme; the Chapter symbol is also muted.

Brother Farnese (Shemhamphorae 1:20).
Farnese's backpack contains a mobile shrine – a spiritual equivalent to a vox-unit.

Brother Engel (Narieal 4:10). The white kneepad is from the old White Dwarf illustration – simply labelled as an 'Honour Marking'. I thought this was fitting for an update of the oldest model in the army.
The Blood Angels' logo is painted with a neutral mix of black, yellow and purple.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

+ inload: Painting styles +

+ Trying something new +

+ Adapt and overcome. A hobby all boils down to having fun, and I enjoy trying new things in my painting. My style has become a bit of a – hopefully affectionate! – joke amongst my group of friends, with grungey Hawk Turquoise and Dheneb Stone everywhere. Sometimes it's good to try something new; and the clean, sharp edge highlighting approach of the 'Eavy Metal team circa 1990 is a good aim. +

+ Painting style is something that isn't brought up a lot in hobby discussions; mainly because it's quite a hard thing to pin down. It's not the techniques one uses, nor the choice of palette. Your painting style is a rather tenuous and usually very specific combination of lots of factors that add up to make your work recognisably yours. It's the reason you can tell the difference between a Rembrandt and a Van Gogh, for example, even if they're of similar subjects, the medium isn't typical, and you've never seen the pieces before:

+ Even if you can't immediately identify the artist (the Rembrandt etching on the left, for the record, Van Gogh's pencil sketch on the right), you can see that the quality of the line and tone is very different between the two. +

+ How does this apply to miniatures? Well, as discussed, it's not as simple as the medium and techniques used. To further complicate things, people's styles evolve and develop as they learn new things, or their tastes change. In addition, there's often a case of favouritism – people tend to paint stuff that they enjoy painting. +

+ My style +

+ I'd cite this model – Inquisitor Unfortunus Veck – as what I consider my typical style. I've gone for rich tones, an muted but balanced palette (a mix of warm and cold tones), and the brushwork is loose and impressionistic. That's not to say that it's messy, but rather I spend more time neatening and tightening some areas over others – the face has far more time spent on it than the cowl, for example. My old favourite 'Dheneb Stone' is definitely present in the skin, and there's a typical freehand pattern (the dotted robe here). +

+ Compare this with another of my models; Thrugg Bullneck, and you'll see that the same applies – muted palette, contrasting tones, freehand patterns, and a mix of tighter areas (the face) and looser areas (the cleaver). +

+ So, even though these are very different models, with different colour schemes, there's still something that identifies them as mine – a bit like a signature. +


+ Other styles +

+ On a similar vein, here's a shot of individuals from the PCRC's Soul of Shale campaign from a few years back. Compare the models and you'll immediately see that, in addition to the difference in the underlying model and the colour schemes, that each member of the group has a distinct style that comes forward. +

The culprits, from left to right: TrojanNInja (Necron warrior); Lord Blood the Hungry (Haemonculus); Bob Hunk (Plaguebearer); grahamgilchrist (Crisis suit); Omricon (Thousand Son); Apologist (Rough Rider); Lucifer 216 (Necron Lord).
+ I won't go in-depth into their individual painting styles (not least because I'd like to dedicate a future inload or two to each PCRC member), but just look at the diversity there. +

+ Why does style matter? +

+ In the big scheme of things, of course, it doesn't. but just as the unreflected life is not worth living, being aware that you have a natural style can act as a boost – either to develop it further, or to consciously change it. Either way, continuing to push yourself and learning is both fun and rewarding. +

+ Painting style can also go a long way to making a diverse group of models look cohesive. Take this group of pilgrim and colonists by the inimitable Asslessman of LEADPLAGUE [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]:

Go visit LEADPLAGUE for a bigger pics and a closer look at individuals.
+ Asslessman's style is immediately recognisable – what I consider his signature marks are the wonderfully rendered grey-blacks and neutrals set off by sumptuous reds, and a combination of crispness and smokiness in application that complements the grimy, worn-down atmosphere of the models themselves. +

+ The style (and palette choice) helps to ties together the models in the group above, which are from a couple of different manufacturers (check the blogpost on LEADPLAGUE for details). +


+ Changing one's style +

+ I think there's an inevitable development in one's style, as it owes as much to technical capability – which can improve or fall away – along with the time, materials and subject that you're working on (i.e. that stuff we've just been looking at above). With that said, it's instructional to push yourself in a particular direction every once in a while, if only to prove to yourself that you can. +

+ So, much pontificating later, here's what I was working on last night: more Blood Angels, in a deliberately cleaner style. I won't lie, I really found this a challenge. It's so sloooooooooow. I'm used to splashing paint on and working wet-in-wet, enjoying the liveliness of the paint, pulling it this way and that, and watching things develop. +

+ In contrast, this is a painstaking process of repeatedly mixing ever-lighter tints followed by glazing them down. By near the end of the evening, we'd moved from:

+ To this, which really felt like a bit of a (fairly unrewarding) slog. I had to break from the red to add the eyes, just to stop myself falling asleep. +

+ The incremental process is demonstrated in this chap below; at the stage above:

+ Who, after a further fifteen minutes or so had become this:

+ Slightly crisper, slightly sharper... I know the result will be striking, but I just couldn't help wondering if it was worth it. Enjoyable as a challenge, and it was reassuring to know I can do it; but whether it goes much beyond this army, I don't know. Ask me again when I've finished the force; perhaps the effect will be worth it en masse. +

The same group this morning, in natural – read 'dim early dawn' – light.


+ Anyway, to bring this back to painting style, I think it's clear that even when deliberately attempting to ape someone else's style, it's very hard to move away from your own – the Blood Angels above might be different, but I'm not good enough a painter to remove my natural 'stamp', I don't think. In short, kudos to studio painters who can adapt their natural way of working to a set style. +

+ I hope this has given some food for thought; and I'd love to hear what you think about painting styles:
  • What's your favourite style? 
  • How would you describe your own?
  • How and why has your painting style developed?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

+ inload: The Alien Wars are declared +

+ The Alien Wars +

Puglius' voice is rich and convincing. He bears a warning. "The Shint. The Confederacy of Muspa. The bone-eating Brachiacy. The Q'orl. The denizens of Angelis." The Chaplain-sabatine looks out across the vast table at the scanty gathering, which represents the voice of the Chapter. Many seats are empty.

"All recorded extinct since the time of Master Concio." Puglius goes on, his gaze level. "All have appeared in scryomantic reports from the Tower of Buto since the Kolonio last changed."

The Exortio leans forward awkwardly in the Siege Recorda, the throne reserved for the representative of the Librarius at Chapter Meetings. "It is no mark of disfavour that such beings return;  my lord – rather it is more likely a mis-classifi-"

He is cut off by a curt bark from the lone librarian still present in the Monastery, a lowly – and clearly resentful – Lexicanium who looms to one side and slightly behind the Exortio's place in the oversized throne.
"That remains to be seen."

The Exortio, a serf representing the Librarius at this Chapter meeting in the absence of the Chief Librarian and his Epistolary lieutenants, is uncomfortable, and poor at masking his turmoil. He squirms in the throne, attempting to address the librarian politely without turning his back on the gathered representatives, his face a mass of tics – and his voice an awkward, blurting mix of indignation, frustration, and no little wariness.
"With respect, Lord -"

"Then grant me that respect; serf, and be silent." The librarian intones. It is clear from his tone that this is a well-worn argument, however new the topic. The Exortio turned back, his face pale and drawn, as the Lexicanium steps forward and addresses Puglius directly. "Xenos are gathering, Chaplain-sabatine, and this is a mark of the Emperor's disfavour-"

"Be silent!" yells Formosus, crashing his fist down on the ancient durwood table. In the hush that follows, Formosus rises to this feet. "This is not a matter of spirituality! This scholastic debate ends here! Now!" His breathing is heavy, his eyes ablaze. "For too long, the Chapter has mired itself in sophism and semantics, shying away from decision and duty."

Tycho of the Third and Abelard, the brevet-Captain of the Fifth, bristle. The Episcopate military-ordinaries who stand in for the eight absent Captains, remain impassive.

Accompanied by a dismissive gesture at the Siege Recorda, whose incumbent shrinks within his robe, Formosus' voice drops to a growl. "On one hand, I am served by withinlookmen, polemicists and navel-gazers." Here, he waves to the librarian, who removes his hands from the table as though it has suddenly become red-hot. "On the other, by intellectual fanatics and firebrands, who would have me turn on the Imperium itself."

The Lexicanium straightens, appears about to speak, but is silenced with a glare as the Chapter Master continues.

"How would you have the Children of Sanguinius serve? That is the question here. That is the only point of relevance. I am not ignorant of the risks and challenges of the twin Imperium; nor am I convinced by either side of the argument. No." His eyes narrow. "We do not shy from risk. We do not avoid challenges. We are the Blood Angels; with a proud history that dates back to the very formation of the Emperor's realms. We stand above these petty arguments; as symbols of something better."

He leans over the table.

"I have reached my decision."

The others, brethren and servants alike, are silent.

"We go to war."

The expressions on the gathered faces are varied; concern, anger, hope.

"I grow not hot with love for the denizens of Terra, nor still Nova Terra – we will not move against them. Nor still do we involve ourselves with the debates of the Ophelian and Terran Churches, however strongly some of you will it one way or the other. No. The place of the Blood Angels is not to determine the path of mankind – neither in spirit nor in body. Our task is to serve. I will not suffer humanity to huddle in its bastions and fastnesses, preparing war against each other; not while the Emperor's realm is cut and torn and raided from outside. Such decisions are not ours to make. Let righteousness lead mankind; and strength gird whichever side is in the right."

Formosus appears poised.

"Our duty is to war against the Alien, as He-on-Earth willed it. We will make a new war; and re-carve the borders of the segmentum. Too long have we fought guardedly, hindered by uncertainty and riven by internal debate. Now we shall fight gloriously."

He glares around the table.

"Such is the will of the Master of the Chapter of the Angels of the Blood; and through him the will of the Old Masters, and the First Angel; and through him alone, the Emperor. If you want an answer to the question of humanity's soul, you will obey me, as we lead by example. We will cast back and darkness and see which Imperium – old or new – and which priests, whether of Terra or Ophelia, follows us in our Emperor-appointed task."

"Thus, I declare, the Alien Wars."

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

+ inload: Artwork in miniature +

+ Captain of the Blood Angels +

+ My initial plan for the leader of my retro Blood Angels army [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] was to build an updated version of the Blood Angels Captain model that led the original army from WD (seen centre bottom here: [+noospheric exloadlink embedded+]).

+ However, that model has already been updated – it formed the explicit inspiration for the current Captain Tycho model, still available (I believe) from GW. I could do my own interpretation of that, but I got thinking about the core conceit of my Alien Wars project, which was to draw inspiration more freely and creatively. Secondly, in background terms, I wanted to make it clear (if possible) that my Captain is not the M41 Captain Erasmus Tycho, who later turns up on Armageddon. There's obviously a common thread of inspiration, but I want my take on the Blood Angels to lead me somewhere else. +

+ For these reasons, my mind hopped back to a fairly famous GW image from the early 90s. Dave Gallagher's artwork of Blood Angels was used for a cover of White Dwarf, the White Dwarf compilation, and sundry other bits and bobs. For good reason – it's awesome! +

+ The gold-armoured Captain stands amidst his men, his artificer-made facemask impassive, as the Blood Angels lay into the genestaler menace. This has long been a favourite piece of mine – it's such a striking image – and what better opportunity to do an homage than with the army fighting the Alien Wars? +

+ I'm not certain which came first – the model or the artwork – but either way it's in a great dynamic pose. The image below shows the basic building blocks of the conversion. I need to build up the waist with greenstuff – it's currently a spare carved-down chunk of plastic shoulder(!) that happened to be roughly the right shape – and the head's a placeholder, but I'm pleased with the general feel. +

+ I've departed from the halo being attached to the head (though it may go back once I've got the proper piece), but have tried to follow the inspiration fairly closely. Of particular note is the heraldry – a wing with three blood drops – which was fun to make.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

+ inload: Furiel 8:04 +

+ Sergeant Raphael completed +

+ Of the Third Hour; ascended under the auspices of Veguaniel. Fourth of the name Furiel in the Eighth Cycle. +

+ Well, that's one marine off the bench and ready for action. I hope he's recognisable as an update of the Sergeant from the first squad of the original army. There are obvious differences in detail – the tilt plate is an obvious one – and working out how to paint the intricate details of the modern plastic against the softer, cleaner lead model was quite fun. +

+ I toyed with yellow bolter casings, but decided in the end to stay as close as possible to the original inspiration with this squad. One little detail I really like on the new Primaris models is the little box for automatically blessing bolt shells – that, in a nutshell, is 40k for me. +

The shoulderpad on sergeants is reversed – red rim, black field – and this is something that has followed through right to the present day in the Blood Angels paint scheme. In fact, this article appeared in White Dwarf around the time that the lead models were transitioning from Mark VI beakies to the new Mark VII marines (late 120s to 130s):

+ At this formative point, we can see that it's only the left pad that's changed for Blood Angel sergeants – I suspect that Tim Prow decided a bit of balance looked better when he came to paint the models for the army. +

+ As an aside, this has been a very influential picture for me, as it has spawned not only these Blood Angels, but was one of the core images that inspired my Ultramarines many years ago. You'll notice that some of the captions under the pictures have little bits of colour text – brief little blurbs about special formations, campaigns, replacement armour plates and so forth. These really stuck with me, inspiring most of the drivel this blog is clogged up with! What I like best about this image is that it was very inclusive. There were notes that suggested the Space Marines fought in simpler and more complex schemes – many don't have the eagle painted, for example – making an 'historically-accurate' scheme achievable whatever your level of painting ability. +
+ The freehand Chapter symbol was fun (certainly more fun than the damn Iron Warriors' symbol!) to do, too. This shot also shows the basing – I've tried to create a slightly varied desert waste using various sandy browns. The intention is practical: being generic enough to serve as Baal or Armageddon, while fitting in nicely  +

+ The black areas, as usual, were not quite black – I've mixed in a hint of Flash Gitz Yellow and Charadon Granite to stop it being completely dead, and to give me some 'tonal room' to shade with. 

+ One change I did make was to the backpacks, rendering them completely in metal – a nod to older models. Rather than deadening black, I washed them with Leviathan Purple and Seraphim Sepia. These mixed on the surface to form interesting neutrals. Because I also used these washes on the red armour, it helps to tie the piece together. +

+ Note also the helmet on the belt. I wanted to hint at the Blood Angels' fondness for artistry, so this sergeant has been honoured with a slightly modified helm. While Raphael needed to be bare-headed (to follow the inspiration), I had to make the decision of what type to use across the army here, as squad 2 has a helmed sergeant. An elaborate haloed style would probably be too much – it would look over the top on the other sergeant, not to mention faintly ridiculous on the belt... +

+ The rght pad is an example of where I've gone off-piste a bit. The original simply has a white blood drop to indicate the third company. I decided that I'd add a supplementary small blood drop on either side of it, and a nameplate below, just to make this more personal to me. + 

+ So, there's Furiel 8:04. Hope you've enjoyed the ramblings – or at least the pictures! +

+ Theoretical: trying a new style +

+ I finish some models, with a flourish; the last brushstrokes being touched on with finality, and held up for inspection with a grin. This... was not one of them. Here, the painting trailed off – not through lack of enthusiasm, but simply because I felt I had lost my way a bit and was at risk of spoiling what I'd done. +

+ Don't get me wrong: I'm happy with the result, but the process did bring up a couple of errors in my planning. Firstly, there's a natural conflict between emulating a particular way of painting and updating it – it's a bit like updating a car while keeping the classic appeal. Here, I consciously tried to keep things clean and crisp which, in all honesty, I found dreadfully boring. +

+ Secondly, I think every artist has a natural style of painting, and unless they're extremely talented, that's going to show through. I don't think this is a typical 'Apologist' style paintjob, but I'm definitely not good enough of a painter to hide my style entirely! +

+ On the bright side, while I found the process of painting like this a bit mechanical and repetitive, it was useful in that it's helped me practise something I don't usually do – and that's the only way I'm going to improve. +

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

+ inload: Baal; the beginning of the Alien Wars +

+ Baal, 191.M35 +

Look closely. Through the storms. A mountain range. Closer. Closer. There.

The Chapterhouse of Bibelo is one amongst dozens in the Otranto wing. Like much else of the fortress-monastery, most are closed, their statuary draped with cloth, their doors bolted and windows shuttered.

Periodically, nomadically, the Chapter moves from one Chapterhouse to another, like aristocrats in a too-large manse. The last in the cycle is closed, reverently, its treasures covered and boxed; even as the next is opened.

The serfs, servitors and aspirants go in advance, bearing incense-suffused candela-torches; brooms, brushes, and rad-gear. Dust is chased from the Chapterhouse, cloth is beaten jealously, tarnished metal made to shine once more. All is restored as best the staff are able. Masterworks – paintings, sculptures, tapestries – are cycled from shadow to shadow to preserve them. Those locked in place – the frescos, the carvings – must bear the pernicious sun with naught but dustcloth to preserve them.

It is a battle against entropy itself. 

A serf carefully lifts aside a cloth of fine cottovellum, and grimaces. The painting – an angular rendering of the fourth Prince of the Existon – made a mere decade ago, reveals varnish that is already yellowing in Baal's hard atmosphere. It is a scene repeated across the Chapterhouse, hundreds of swathed men, women and children hesitantly revealing what has failed since last the Chapter stood here.

A handful of the oldest works in the Chapterhouse were made mere centuries after the Division. These are little more than mustard-brown smears, the images beneath all but lost. The wood carvings are bleached. Stone has endured better, but forty-five centuries of accidents – even if only once in a generation – means that rare here is the statue that stands unblemished by time.

Still, the Chapterhouse of Bibelo is one amongst dozens in the complex. Tucked in a nook of the monastery, nestling between the mountainside and the Chamber Cordaline, it has survived better than most. Some, shamefully, have fallen into mandated disuse; rad-rot having penetrated too deeply, the roofing collapsing, walls slumping, or general disrepair overcoming the staff's ability to hang on, 

A series of Masters – Malapapa, the two Leos, Amareo – made reforms to the monastery; even extended it. Strateia were scattered about the whole extent. In the time of Locasto, it was common for the whole brotherhood to be stationed here, but even then, how could a thousand hope to fill a space made for legion? It was, and remains, an echoing place.

Today, as the Imperium bears another period of extended conflict, the Fortress Monastery of the Blood Angels is owl-haunted, its garrison positively skeletal.

...And yet....

...And yet they stand.


Today, the Chapter assembles in the Chapterhouse of Bibelo – at least, those brethren present. Two members of the Chaplaincy stand in the centre of the alongside Martan, the Sanguinarian, and Master Formosus, heir of Sanguinius. 

The current Kolonio garrison company – the honoured Erelim, the third Strateia – enters, heads up, white honour-stoles across broad shoulders. Ancient Nonesuch heads the parade, the Prince Dahavauron (or Erasmus Tycho, to give him his atroatican name) a humble step behind. Montefeltro, Tycho's lieutenant, follows in turn; and behind him the Wards of Erelim.

A handful of ascendant scouts are next, bearing banners, honours, and golden images of the Emperor on long nalwood staves. Trailing these are scores of retainers, plenitentaries and honoured indents, led by the Master Internuncio. 

Finally, the scarlet-armoured veterans of another war march in, to take up their role as Kolonio in turn. These are the fifth Strateia, the Oertha, commanded by Prince Ofaniel Glorioso. Only they are not. Not any more. Ofaniel is borne in an adamantium casket by four of his charges. One limps, favouring his right leg. One is missing an arm. The eye takes in barely eighty brethren; and some of them are marked with the heraldry of the reserves. It has clearly been a hard war.

Warriors take their places in the gleaming Chapterhouse, standing or seating themselves rigidly on the pews as per their duty. Serfs scuttle about, namato-putti flit to the rafters. Marching falls to shuffling, then to silence. 

'Who commands?' The rich voice calls out, across a room barely a quarter filled, but once more resplendant and vital. The Chaplain-Sabatine, Puglius, is an imposing figure, but as Master Formosus – scarred and pitted – steps forward, even he is thrown into shade.

'I speak for Ofaniel. I speak for the dead.' The Chaplain-Sabatine bows and steps back.

Time passes, as the honorifics are played out according to ritual. Montefeltro has heard the change of Kolonio many times, but it is an anchor to him, as Baal is an anchor to the soul of the Chapter. This is an age of change and challenge, and the rituals are reassuring to him.


Montefeltro has lived the lifetime of four men, and yet does not remember a time before the Twin Imperium. He knows, half-unconsciously, that it began in the time of Amareo, or Master Falstaff, or Conccio; and the Blood Angels aligned themselves with Terra; or Nova Terra; or were studiedly neutral. What does it matter to him?

In these enlightened times, the chronicling of antiquities is dead. There is little enough time for the present. Why look backwards into the past? What of relevance can it teach him? What could it hold up to the verities of the Ecclesiarchy?

...And yet...

...And yet Master Formosus is pushing the Chapter towards renaissance. Not for him the comforting certainties of divinity. To become a Chapter Master is to become an Imperial Commander. To be an Imperial Commander is to achieve that rarest of duties, that rarest of rights; that right and duty to question.

Monday, August 07, 2017

+ inload: Painting Blood Angels +

+ Red +

+ The dread colour red. I've always found it a bugger to paint. The human eye's very sensitive to red (hence why it's so effective and eye-catching), so any slight mistake or variance in tone is immediately obvious. Couple that with red paints often having poor coverage (owing to cheap pigments) or very expensive, and you end with double trouble. +

+ Of course, practising, making mistakes, evaluating them and fixing them, is how we get better – and it wouldn't be much of a retro Blood Angels army if I avoided red, would it? +

+ The following recipe's as much an aide memoir to myself as advice – I'm certainly no authority on painting red. +


+ Practical: Painting retro Blood Angels Red +

_1 Prime using Halford's red primer. Good coverage with this warm primer will help to disguise any later mishaps – having small gaps here and there will reveal red areas, which will take fewer layers to cover – important for a clean finish.

_2 I toyed with the idea of a zenithal spray (i.e. spraying just from certain angles), but in the end decided to go for as even a finish as I could get. I used GW's Mephiston Red spray; a first for me. Because mistakes are so obvious in red, I wanted to get as even and consistent a red as possible, and one as close to the paint colour I would be using. The difference between the priming and basecoat here is not immediately obvious in the pictures, but is clearer to see in person.

_3 Once dry, paint the base using Rhinox Hide. I do this early on for two reasons. Firstly, to provide some contrast, and secondly, if I accidentally get some paint on the feet, it's easier to clean up as we come to paint the armour. Once the base is dry, wash the recesses of the armour (note, not the whole model, just the recesses) with Gryphonne/Seraphim Sepia, allow to dry, then pick out the metal/black areas with Chaos/Abaddon black.

_4 Mix Mephiston Red and Vermillion (Vallejo model colours) and repaint the red areas. In addition to strengthening the colours, it adds a layer over the base coat and alters the texture, making sure everything's consistent. This mix is slightly orange – in the past, my reds have always been quite cold and blue-tinted, so I wanted to try a yellow-tinted red here.

_5 Initial highlights start to go on now, with the addition of Flash Gitz Yellow to the mix (a mistake; I should have used a warmer yellow like Golden Yellow). These are built up slowly, paying attention to the direction of the light. The image here shows the early stages; and they're not particularly visible. The marine's right gauntlet shows it most clearly, but you'll get a better idea if you skip ahead ot the next stage, where the highlights are more obvious.

_6 With the highlights in place, I decided to use a glaze to blend things together. I'd usually use an ink (Winsor & Newton inks are good), but in the spirit of experiementation – and a desire to avoid a glossy finish in the recesses – I used GW's Bloodletter Glaze. A glaze will soften transitions, but the depth it gives to the red makes it well worth it.

_7 With the glaze completely dry, it's time to turn up the contrast. Because we want to keep the impression red, we can't over-emphasise the highlights, or it'll risk turning the impression orange. Instead, we concentrate on the shadows. Building the tone up here increases the contrast and further emphasises the red. I used a watery mix of Liche Purple, sepia ink and flow enhancer to get a rich tone, then built up the shading with both washes; in deep recesses and areas of strong texture like the soft undersuit, and glazes; in large rounded areas, like the insides of the legs and on the knees. 

This essentially completes the basic red armour. If necessary, you can reinstate highlights or further develop the shadows until you achieve the correct tonal balance. Remember, what's 'correct' is what looks right to you. If you're unsure, put the figure down, walk away for a few minutes and come back to it later, with fresh eyes.


+ Other bits +

+ The hour was getting late (I found painting red very time-consuming), so didn't want to go much further. I did spend a few minutes painting Sergeant Raphael's face, though. It's still a bit wet here, but that was the only vaguely in-focus shot I got:

+ The usual skintones I use for my models are intended to make the figure look like he or she belongs in a world of horror and terror, but I wanted to get the Blood Angel looking a bit heartier and healthier to get their angelic appearance across. +

+ The challenge here, then, is getting that fresh-faced look without completely removing the sense of place and peril. Usually, I add blues or greys to the mix for stubble and bags under the eyes, but the skin here is almost entirely done with yellow, red and white. There's a little purple glazing added in the eye sockets, but that's the extent of it. +

+ The hair was done with tiny textural marks, built up from a yellow-brown base to a creamy light tone. When painting blonds, try to avoid using pure yellow – it looks very artificial. Instead, think of the colour as very light brown; the yellow tint is almost irrelevant. +

Thursday, August 03, 2017

+ inload: The Alien Wars +

+ It is the 35th Millennium +

The Imperium is in turmoil. Faith wars with with rationality as the Ecclesiarchy and Administratum tussle for power.

In disgust, the Ur-council of Nova Terra has led a fifth part of the Imperium into secession, striking out to form a new Imperium of their own. 

Seers speak hauntingly of the half-remembered terrors of Old Night, as warpstorm activity increases across the galaxy. The veil grows thin.

Against a galaxy in flames, as mankind falls on itself, the Blood Angels stand as bulwark in the east. 

Even as the eyes of man turns inwards, the Angels strike out at the gathering horrors of the galaxy.

The Alien Wars begin.


+ Squad Raphael, Third Company + 

+ Or, in the mannered language of 191.M35 Baal, 'The Wards of Furiel under Lord Dahavauron, Prince of the Erelim, 3rd Strateia of the Host of Angels.' +

+ Sinistro e Dexter: Brother Donato (Duhael 4:12), Brother Malatesta (Durbael 2:17), Sergeant Raphael (Furiel 8:04), Brother Farnese (Shemhamphorae 1:20), Brother Barbarigo (Durbael 4:11)+

Sinistro e Dexter:  Brother Lucian (Abacyel 3:12), Brother El-Aster (Ambriel 1:01), Brother Mephisto (Rashin Rast 2:05), Brother Thaddeus (Saditel 4:04, called the lost), Brother Engel (Narieal 4:10)+

The poses of the new combat squad (led by Brother Mephisto), is based on the poses of the second half of the 2nd squad (right of the image here). I had to fudge things a bit to tally the WD138 organisation with the Armageddon booklet.

+ Wait, what? +

+ A lot of the above likely sounds like gibberish! The naming scheme above is a development of one I made up for my May You Live Forever project, the details of which can be seen here [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]. Of course, that's a Horus Heresy-era scheme, and even given the slow rate of change in the Imperium and the Blood Angels' longevity, it's altered during the intervening 4,000 years.  +

+ As you can see, I'm having a lot of fun with this project already. It's letting me delve into a distant and murky period in the game's in-universe history, which neatly dovetails into the more open and exploratory nature of RT/2nd ed. 40k. I picked 191 as a reference to 1991, the year the original army appeared in White Dwarf. +

+ The 'Low-Gothic' names (Farnese, Malatesta etc.) are mostly taken from the Renaissance-era kingdoms of what is now Italy – though Sergeant Raphael and Brother Mephisto (squad leader of the second combat squad) take their names from the Armageddon campaign book, bundled into second edition (and kindly loaned to me by the inimitable Bob Hunk):

+ This campaign, along with the wars against the Eldar in White Dwarf, were the inspiration for the Alien Wars concept – Eldar, Space Marines and Orks were the core trinity of 40k for me as a nipper, so I wanted to explore that. +

+ Of course, wouldn't it be great to see a force of themed Goff Orks, Alaitoc Eldar (or another period-appropriate themed army) in combat with the 3rd Company? If anyone would like to join me in this project, let me know in the comments – I'd love to try a collaborative project. +