Between all the models that come with the Blackstone Fortress set, the trio of Chaos Space Marines ranked high among ones I looked forward to working on. If I remember right, this was actually where we got our first taste of the makeover that the CSM would be receiving deep into 8th edition and I was pretty impressed with what I saw. Maybe it’s all the gold trim or the way the warp has corrupted their armor, but there’s an arrogance and a meanness about Chaos Marines that I find appealing, and the updated models we saw this year just really (war)hammer those traits home.
Incidentally, one of the earliest projects I ever worked on was a squad of Chaos Space Marines done up as Black Legion — back when you could get a box of 10 marines for $30 USD. The thought of fleshing out the battleforce box that they came in into a full on army has always been there, but I always found myself opting to pursue other factions instead. Still, having a chance to work on these newer models was an opportunity to try my hand at painting Chaos Space Marines for the first time in maybe a decade and a half.
Going into these models I knew the biggest and most time consuming challenge was going to be highlighting all the panels on the power armor. You can definitely make things easier on yourself and just drybrush them with a shade or two of grey before doing other details, but to get that really dark, clean look that goes amazing with gold armor trim, there’s really no shortcut. I followed the same technique I’ve been using throughout the Blackstone Fortress models for black armor, just now it’s being applied on a model from head to toe, literally.
Over a basecoat of Abaddon Black, begin by applying a generous highlight of Incubi Darkness to everything that’s going to be lined. It doesn’t stand out much, but it does a lot to smooth out the transition from black into brighter colors when all is said and done. Next, apply increasingly selective highlights of Thunderhawk Blue, Fenrisian Grey and finally Ulthuan Grey. As always, Lahmian Medium is a better way to thin down these paints than water, and thinning them down is something you ought to be doing.
As for the gold trim itself, it’s a detail that I find much more eye-catching on newer models. Part of it is the crisper details they’re able to achieve on modern sculpts, but there’s also a very distinct look that you you’re able to pull off with the introduction of paints like Retributor Armor and Liberator Gold — at least for those of us who only really stick with the Citadel range. Thanks to those paints it’s easier to achieve a stronger gold, and as a result Black Legion stuff just really pops. It’s no wonder they became the poster boys for Chaos again when it came time to push out the newer model range. Well, that and the fact Abaddon was getting a new model. Either way, Death Guard had more than enough time in the spotlight, and Crimson Slaughter never really caught on.
Anyway, here’s more or less how I went about doing the gold:
- [Basecoat] Liberator Gold
- [Wash] Multiple of Agrax Earthshade to achieve a dark, dirty gold
- [Wash] Spots of Nuln Oil around rivets
- [Highlight] Pick out details and some flatter areas with Liberator Gold to bring back a shine
- [Fine Edge Highlight] Stormhost Silver
A few examples I saw often had the trim on the shoulder pads a slightly different shade of gold, so I used a basecoat of Retributor Armor for those instead. Otherwise the process was pretty similar to what I just outlined above.
I’m fairly happy with how they turned out, and while I’d love to own a Black Legion army I don’t think I have the patience to paint several squads in this style. That said, a Kill Team wouldn’t be entirely out of the question. Also, one of the things I sorta threw my hands up with was the cabling that runs around a lot of Obsidius Mallex’s model. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be mechanical, organic or what, and I just had no idea what to do with it. I would have greatly preferred if he just had a more “traditional” suit of warp corrupted Terminator Armor, because whatever is going on with his looks dumb. Other than that, these are some nice, intimidating models for some of the biggest threats you’ll face in the Blackstone Fortress.