Blackstone Fortress · Chaos · Warhammer 40000

[Blackstone Fortress] The Black Legion

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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.

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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.

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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.

Blackstone Fortress · Boxed Games · Warhammer 40000

[Blackstone Fortress] The Explorers (1/2)

Now on to The Explorers.  I painted these guys in roughly this order, from models I thought would be more straight forward to paint or characters I wasn’t as invested in, to ones I knew I’d want to spend a little extra time on.  This first of two entries will cover the former — and that’s not to say I disliked these models or anything, since I was really happy with how Espern Locarno and Pious Vorne turned out.

As a disclaimer, it’s been awhile since I put these models away and I’ve had to put the blog on hold for awhile too, so my memory might be a little hazy on some details.  Bear with me.

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Espern Locarno was the very first of The Explorers I worked on.  At this point, coming up on the end of the Blackstone Fortress box,  I was just excited  at the prospect of painting more than just blacks, reds and variations of grey that comprise so much of the hostiles in the game.

For most of The Explorers I didn’t feel the need to stray much from GW’s paint schemes, and for Locarno in particular there was a nice little video on Warhammer TV that provides a bit of a jumping off point for the purple on the cape and robes.  To sum it up, base the outer cape with Naggaroth Night, then build on that with Xerus Purple, Genestealer Purple, and highlight with Warpfiend Grey. For the robes, base with Xerus Purple, and progress through the previous colors, but a bit more liberally to create a brighter purple.

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Painting Rein and Raus isn’t much different than painting a Cadian Guardsman — one that’s been dipped in glue then rolled around in your bits box.  I’m generally not a fan of really “busy” models because of how much they slow down the painting process, but there is something to be said about the amount of detail GW is able to cram into plastic kits these days.

Despite their size, the Ratling twins are carrying a lot of crap, and their knapsacks, mini-fridges, leather pouches full of snacks, etc. I just found tedious to paint.  As long as they’re not rank and file troops, I guess I can stomach the odd HQ or character models done in this style, but the twins still came out as my least favorite of The Explorers to paint.

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Next was Taddeus the Purifier who, next to Rein and Raus, was probably my second least favorite explorer to paint, but not because of the model.  The model’s neat and so is the official paint job, because that’s pretty much how I’d expect the Space Pope to look.  Actually, the problem was just me and not feeling like I did a very clean job on this model.  The face just doesn’t stand out enough and some of the reds on the robe look less crisp than I would’ve liked.  At some point I just decided it’d be better to keep it moving and shift my focus to the next one.

Oh, and my approach to his pajama robes were as follows:

  • [Base] Zandri Dust
  • [Layer] Ushabti Bone
  • [Wash] Seraphim Sepia
  • [Layer] Ushabti Bone, leaving the wash in the folds or where shadows would fall
  • [Layer] Mix increasing amounts of Screaming Skull into Ushabti Bone
  • [Highlight] Pallid Wychflesh

As always, Lahmian Medium is useful to thin paints down and create smoother transitions between colors versus plain water.

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Finally, Pious Vorne.  Despite the drab colors, she was fun to paint.  She was also an interesting example of just how different black can look when highlighted with different but similar colors.  For example, a highlight of Mechanicus Standard Grey followed by a fine highlight of Dawnstone gives her black armor a cleaner appearance, as opposed to her dusty leather gloves which are highlighted with Eshin Grey and Stormvermin Fur.  The effect isn’t as noticeable in the pictures, but is something worth remembering and keeping in your bag of tricks to use on models with a lot of black, especially when they have a mix of metal and leather.

Finally, I couldn’t resist the urge to paint hazard stripes on her Vindictor, since the thing is so over the top it’s almost a character in itself.  For those I followed the same method I used to paint yellow for my Orks that I detailed awhile ago.  It’s eye catching on an otherwise subdued model.

That’s all for now.  Next up are the Chaos Space Marines and the big bad, Obsidius Mallex, then finally the other half of The Explorers as the conclusion to my series on Blackstone Fortress.  Hopefully in a few days as opposed to a few months this time.

Drukhari · Warhammer 40000

The Nobility and Trueborn of Commorragh

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Today I finally get to share the big bad of my Drukhari army and his entourage of what were once known in the Dark Eldar codices of years past as Kabalite Trueborn.  Back when the Dark Eldar range was updated in 2010, one of the big draws (besides looking sweet AF) was how easily interchangeable bits were across the army, and it only made sense that individuals who held some sort of standing within Commorrite society tended to be more fashionable as well.

For the Archon, I found the helmets that came with the original, metal iteration, were a bit much.  Granted, this is 40k we’re talking about and over the top helmets are very much a thing, but the original Archon’s pose was a lot more subdued and stylish than the over the top, plastic one we have now and I just didn’t feel like those helmets fit the style I was going for.  By the way, am I the only one who finds the current Archon’s stock pose kind of ridiculous?  Especially when you imagine him charging into battle holding that pose, compared to the fluidity present in say the Succubus’ model.

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Speaking of style, the space pirate motif was one of the things that really sold me on the Dark Eldar, and this one particular head, which I believe was in the Wych box, fit that theme.  It’s a slight nod to anti-heroes in anime and manga, like Griffith from (early) Berserk, or rogue-ish, swashbuckling types in western fantasy settings.

He was also one of the first models I painted after my first box of Kabalite Warriors.  Most of it holds up I think, but as I’ve mentioned before, where my Craftworld Eldar and Orks all but begged for complete overhauls, my Drukhari (mercifully) were okay enough that they benefit more from just having details touched up on by someone with more paints, better brushes and several more years of experience…  Seriously, I don’t think I could stomach repainting another entire army.

As mentioned at the top, Kabalite Trueborn are no longer a thing outside of the 8th edition Xenos index, but models built as Trueborn still find use most commonly by tagging along in 5-elf Venom squads for their Blasters, which is what you usually took them for (aka Blasterborn).

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Trueborn, being higher class citizens in Commorragh, all but beg to have something that sets their models apart from rank and file Kabalite Warriors.  It didn’t take long for people to notice these cool, featureless helmets that came with the Reaver kit, and it was just such an obvious, yet simple conversion to do. The head swap makes them look pretty slick, even if you were just to paint the “glass shell” straight black and apply a gloss varnish over it. If you want to step it up a bit, you could do what I did.  Using thinned down paints, apply Incubi Darkness from about halfway down the glass and mix in increasing amounts of Temple Guard Blue the further down you go to create a gradient.  Then, if you want, use a very thinned down Baharroth Blue to draw a thin line around the bottom quarter of the glass.

A complaint I’ve heard for at least as long as I’ve been in the hobby, and relevant while we’re on the topic of Trueborn (though less, now that they’re index only), is how stupidly hard it is to assemble a single squad of elite weapons specialists when you only get one per box.  Even the fairly recently released Chaos Havocs, which are $55 USD a box, only come with a single Reaper Chaincannon, when some players may want four.

In the past, GW sold some heavy and special weapons bits to make up for this. Some models that carried specific weapons were even available in stand alone blister packs.  Now such options are not readily available without resorting to trading with other players, or if you play a less common army like the Dark Eldar, pretty much just eBay as they aren’t prioritized much by most online vendors.  Luckily, at least for Blasters, there is a fairly simple conversion involving the rarely used Shredders, and Blast Pistols, which weren’t very useful before 8th edition.  I also lucked out and found an auction on eBay way back when for 4 Warriors with Blasters.  2 were legit, 2 were pretty well converted; so while I did find my way around this problem and ended up with as many Blasterborn as I needed, it has always seemed like an unneeded annoyance for a hobby you’re already paying premium for.

Finally, here’s a quick look at some of them before and mid-touch up.  I was starting to feel like the bronze Blaster tips stuck out a little too much, and needed to look no further than the 8th edition codex for an example of one I liked.  In the model showcase section there’s a Hekatrix with a pretty sleek and simple looking Blast Pistol.  The metallics were still slightly visible under a black casing, and it just looked way more interesting to me.  After these changes, the models as they are are now just have a much colder and mysterious look to them.

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Before I go, I feel really obligated to shout out StrikingScorpion82 on YouTube.  It took me way too long to try and figure out how I wanted to paint this army, and the handful of test models that I tried mimicking GW’s heavily highlighted color schemes with just didn’t look great.  I might be able to pull it off now halfway decently, but at the time I was really unhappy with what my results, and if you’re not at least moderately confident in what you’re painting, your enthusiasm will run out real fast over the course of an army.

Anyway, StrikingScorpion82 had put out a handful of videos showcasing this very striking (no pun intended) color scheme for his Dark Eldar.  It was simple enough, and he goes into detail in this video. The main point of interest for me was getting that ghostly, bluish-green armor that he cited the cover of the 5th edition codex as inspiration for.  And to this day, it’s one of the most fitting color schemes for the Drukhari.  The amounts of wash and how aggressive I am with highlighting changed over time (and as the paints themselves changed), but the basic idea’s still the same:

  • [Base] Boltgun Metal (now Leadbelcher)
  • [Wash] Thraka Green (now Biel-tan Green)
  • [Wash] Asurmen Blue (now Drakhenhof Nightshade, thinned slightly with Lahmian Medium)
  • [Highlight] 2:1 Leadbelcher + Lahmian Medium
  • [Fine Edge highlight] Stormhost Silver

A few things to note is that Drakenhof Nightshade is a lot darker than Asurmen Blue, so it’s worth thinning it down, unless you want the armor much darker.  Also, adding just a touch of Lahmian Medium to Leadbelcher before you highlight the armor panels helps ease the transition between the washed armor, and highlights.

Until next time…

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…Fools.

 

Blackstone Fortress · Boxed Games · Warhammer 40000

[Blackstone Fortress] Negavolt Cultists and Rogue Psykers

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Here we are almost nearing the end of the hostiles for Blackstone Fortress.  The Negavolt Culstists were one of the standout hostile models for me for a few reasons.  As far as I know, this is the closest thing we’ve seen to a representation of Dark Mechanicus in model form in the past couple decades, if ever at all.  It’s also just a really cool model.  The Adeptus Mechanicus could already easily be portrayed as an evil faction, corrupted by their obsession with machines in many other fictional universes, but this being 40k, you can always take it a step further.

Well, they took it a step further.  The whip-like tentacles coming out of their skulls, metal plates giving only the basic outline of a human face fused to mask their actual faces give even Electro Priests a bit of a run for their money when it comes to the creep factor.  Much like the Traitor Guardsman, there is a bit of a scavenger vibe to them as well that I like, and the power coils on their backs wouldn’t look out of place at all on an Ork Mek.

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Speaking of the power coils, I saw them as a great chance to practice object source lighting, aka OSL, again.  I wasn’t a fan of the orange coils Games Workshop used in the official paint schemes, so I went with good old blue plasma.  Warhammer TV has a basic tutorial on how to paint the plasma on plasma guns, and that’s a good starting point.  To sum it up:

  • [Base] Kantor Blue
  • [Layer] Teclis Blue
  • [Layer] Baharroth Blue on the raised coils
  • [Layer] Thinned down White Scar in patches around the raised coils to give it a more white-hot look

Next, if you’re going down the OSL route, you’re going to want to have the metal done first, as the glazes are meant to be applied over them.  The metal’s nothing special — the same technique you’ve seen a thousand times:

  • [Base] Leadbelcher
  • [Wash] Nuln Oil
  • [Wash] (Optional) Agrax Earthshade — helps break up the uniformity when applied to parts, (example: the shaft of the batons).
  • [Highlight] Leadbelcher
  • [Edge Highlight] Stormhost Silver

With that done, you’ll be thinning down Teclis Blue pretty heavily with Lahmian Medium, at least 2:1, to create a glaze.  You want to build this up slowly on the metallic surfaces where light from the coils would catch.  Remember, you can always add, but you can’t subtract — at least, not without a lot of effort.  Next, do the same with Baharroth Blue, but bring it in a little closer to the light wherever the light would be stronger.  I also used Stormhost Silver to reapply an edge highlight to the metal, but you could try playing around with White Scar as well.

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I don’t have much to say about the Rogue Psykers but here they are.  They were only a little more interesting to paint than the Traitor Guardsmen, but the callback to the old Daemonhost model, being shackled to weights, was a nice touch.

A lot of the techniques used on these guys I’ve already detailed in other entries, like the fur pelts which also appear on Traitor Guardsmen and the flesh which I took a very similar approach with as the Chaos Beastmen.  I wanted a bit more of an unnatural tone to their skin and didn’t want to just make them look pale like the Negavolt Cultists.

Next up for Blackstone Fortress, the Black Legion Marines and Obsidius Mallex.