So 2017 has come to an end, the world has made one more lap around the sun and my pile of “to-do” miniatures continues to grow.
This has been a rather special year, as some of my regular readers or followers would know, as it’s been a year in which I’ve moved from the quiet and damp Adelaide Hills to the sunny, colourful and lively south of Spain. I’ve had to leave a lot behind, almost my entire collection of miniatures and all my tools and paints, but have gained a lot in terms of focus, proximity to the world of the Mediterranean masters and easier access to some of the best miniature makers in the world. Giving up army painting (for the most part… I still have some Salamanders to finish and an itching to start some Spiderfang 😉) has been a pretty natural choice for someone who hasn’t played a proper game in two or three years. So it’s a win win.
The largest part of my WIP posts and discussion on process this year has taken place on Instagram, so if you haven’t already, be sure to click the link in the menu above and follow my Instagram page at @Illuminator_hobby
And rather than make multiple pages (waste not, want not!) I thought I would create a bit of a master-post of the display pieces I’ve been practicing on over the past year! It’s been a really productive year in which I’ve taken my miniature painting to the next level, inspired by the ‘Eavy Metal Facebook group and the amazing community of painters on Instagram. There’s still a long, long, long way to go before I’m going to be confident entering things like Hussar, Golden Demon or Silver Brush, but now I at least have a goal that I’m working towards every day.
My first miniature painted with Army Painter War Colours
November: Papa Jambo Bust
And here we have him, my masterpiece for the year. Definitely the piece I’m most proud of so far, and something of a diversion from my normal work.
Thanks to everyone who’s followed me here, on Instagram and given me support over Facebook or in real life. It’s been an incredible year of hobby, and I look forward to pushing forward into uncharted territory in this new one!
“Unless you are capable of enduring whatever hurt your foe can inflict, there will come a time when you will fail, and by failing you will have made useless the sacrifice of millions. We are the Salamanders and we will endure, for no sacrifice made in the name of this great empire we seek to build shall be made in vain.” – Xiaphus Jurr, Chaplain of the Salamanders
“You come seeking our father, but he is not here. I searched for him on the field of battle until they struck me down with a sword of flame that scorched the very heavens, and yet I did not die. I searched for him in the endless vaults of the dead where the crushing blackness tore at my very soul, and yet I endured. I was tested once again through the crucible, and I tell you this — Vulkan does not walk among the dead!” – Cassian Dracos, The Dragon Revenant
I picked up the Betrayal at Calth box set while on my university exchange to Germany in 2015, and, until recently, I’ve been in a constant battle to decide what to do with them. The Horus Heresy “black books” were full of cool characters and pseudo-historical inspiration, making the choice of Legion an incredibly difficult one. At one point, I was going to paint Word Bearers, using my huge collection of Chaos bits and daemons to make a rather corrupted, evil looking army. After that, I turned to the idea of Emperor’s Children, seeking perfection in the same manner as the III Legion themselves. In the end, though, what really sold me on my eventually legion of choice was a single character from the Horus Heresy story: Cassian Dracos.
Who couldn’t love the walking-fridge-of-doom/unkillable-robotic-prophet? I’ve been a big fan of the iconic Warhammer 40k Dreadnought for a long time, so seeing the opportunity to build a playable (and deadly) army in the Age of Darkness using a whole bunch of them was just too good to pass up. So sorry, Word Bearers and Emperor’s Children. Sorry, Chaos. I’ve turned loyalist. Slaanesh forgive me.
And so, I started painting. The first unit to come under the brush was my Tactical Support Squad Fuegon. I liked the tone of green right off the bat, but something didn’t sit well with the grey ash bases I originally placed them on. I ended up adding crackling lava patterns over their armour, representing the influence of Cassian Dracos and Xiaphus Jurr while they travelled through the warp upon Ebon Drake. In the end, I think I went a bit over board trying to create contrast. On future squads, I decided to steer away from this effect. Thus Support Squad Fuegon became distinguished as true “Disciples of Flame”, brothers of such zeal that they’re armour cracks and burns with mystical heat, much to the suspicion of the general rank and file of the army.
It took a long time to figure out where to move next. Obviously, I had to paint old mate Cassian as soon as possible, though now I’m starting to think I rushed into it a bit. Stripping and repainting him twice, I feel he is now not as magnificent of a centrepiece as he should be, a bit murky and mucky, but he’s still magnificent in his own way. I even went and added Vallejo Fluro Orange to his flames at a later date to enhance the burning aura. There’s nothing super special to note about the final paint job, apart from, maybe, my first attempts at making a realistic “overheating engine” glow by lightly painting orange over the lit parts of his armour.
The fire burns bright
A long time past (three months, actually, ’cause I was busy overseas with life stuff) before I got to add much more to this small army. Of course, two tactical squads were absolutely necessary. I painted Tactical Squads IV (Diago) and IX (Vorshan) in a factory-line batch style, aiming to make them look rather spartan and uniform, a massive departure from my normal style. Of course, I can’t let flat areas go without some sort of free-hand or detailing, so I ended up adding a whole lot of flames, Cult markings and squad icons, including Freehand Salamander iconography. While this leads to a pretty hodge-podge look when put all together, I am pretty proud of the details I’ve managed to pack in.
The hardest part of painting these guys, apart from forcing myself to spend HOURS edge highlighting green, was to get the Salamander icons right. While a lot of them look messy, and no two look exactly alike, I’m one to normally stay away from transfers. I just like to paint everything myself where I can, even if it doesn’t come out exactly “factory made”.
To add to the Tactical Squads, I salvaged an old Inquisitorial Rhino (Mars Pattern, obviously, but I didn’t quite feel like spending money on a 25 point metal box when I didn’t need to). It’s hardly the model I’m most proud of in the army, but she’ll serve her purpose when it comes to gaming, and that’s all I really aimed for.
Joining the Tactical detachment much later (in fact, I only finished painting him a night before posting this gallery!) is Apothecary Tor’uhm, a brother of Proximal dedicated to preserving the lives and strengths of his fire-forged companions. I just love painting the Celesta Grey/White colour, but didn’t want to start a whole World Eaters/White Scar army just to paint a few batches of white power armour. So, along with the Feel No Pain rule, Tor’uhm brings some contrast to the otherwise dark army.
The current centrepiece of the army is my Contemptor Mortis Dreadnought Zandar Ignis. I painted this venerable machine for my local Games Workshop’s monthly Paint Klub. It was my first proper go at dynamic shading through glazes. Instead of simply edge highlighting as normal, I made the effort to create deep shade along the flat armour panels themselves through the application of many thin, glaze-like layers and blending. I also used a lot of Fluro Orange to create the vibrant fire effects and, of course, the glowing lava base! Zandar Ignis managed to take away the “in-store” portion of the competition, so I think he deserves to be the “pretty boy” of the army.
Finally, the trio of “Boxnoughts” that I always envisioned being the heart of my army, got to see a bit of paint. Using the same green I’d practiced across the army, the same technique to create firey glow and similar patterns for squad markings, I went to work on my second “production line” of the army. Painting three Dreadnoughts at a time was actually quite a lot harder and more time consuming than I’d imagined. The old Dreadnought sculpt is iconic, but it’s not the most detailed thing in the Citadel Catalogue. Still, I found I had to spend quite a few nights on these guys to get them looking suitably impressive.
On these Dreadnoughts, I started using a simple chipping technique that I picked up from a fellow Instagrammer (whose name I’ve now lost…). I’ll post the recipe below for interest’s sake, but it basically boils down to using brown and light green in the right spots. I think it looks far more realistic than typical splashes of silver and black.
But anyway, here is the fiery heart of the army to finish off this showcase: Dreadnought Talon Heliosa I.
Since taking this photo shoot, I’ve fixed up a few niggling issues, such as replacing the Venerable Dreadnought’s brass front plate with more green, removing the excessive “dust” from all of the Dreadnought’s feet, adding a cotton-ball smoke plume to hide the gross blotching on the salvaged Missile Launcher (from my very first army in fact!), adding a Heavy Flamer to the Rhino and cleaning up a bit of the mess + more! Keep an eye on my Instagram (@illuminator_hobby) for the updates as they come!
I thought I’d post a couple of the recipes I used to paint my Salamanders Army. Hopefully they can be helpful or inspiring to someone down the track. Always good to see more green Battle Brothers. Into the fires of battle! Unto the anvil of war!
Castellan Green base, wash with Agrax Earthshade. Highlight with Elysian Green, then Ogryn Camo
Follow the recipe above, but add splotches of Rhinox Hide at intervals and along areas where the machine’s working would cause paint damage (around hinges, moving parts, etc.) Under this splotches of Rhinox Hide, add a thin line of Ogryn Camo to create the illusion of depth. See? Simples.
Fire (including crackling effect)
Outline with Khorne Red, fill in with Mephiston Red. Then go over halfway down the flame with Vallejo Fluro Orange. Thinner again, apply Yriel Yellow, then finally white at the hottest (lowest) part of the flame
Warplock Bronze then Sycorax Bronze. Wash with Agrax Earthshade GLOSS. Easy.
If you’d like any more info on how I painted these guys, feel free to comment here or on my Instagram! I’ll be happy to help out.
All importantly, this is one of the few projects I’ve gone into with the hopes of making an effective and legal gaming army. As such, I’ve spent AGES pouring over the Horus Heresy army lists, tinkering with various ideas, such as flying Vulkan Deathstars, Obsidian Forged Dreadnoughts, Firedrakes in Spartans and other nasty Salamanders-only tricks. Of course, I’m a bit of a novice when it comes to tactics and list-building, so I don’t expect to go in and win many games, but I’m pretty happy with where this “starter list” has gotten to.
+ HQ +
Cassian Dracos (WARLORD)
+ ELITE +
Legion Dreadnought Talon
1 Dreadnought with Twin Linked Lascannon and DCCW with inbuilt Graviton Gun, Extra Armour
1 Dreadnought with Twin Linked Lascannon and Twin-Linked Missile Launcher
1 Dreadnought with Flamestorm Cannon and DCCW with inbuilt Melta Gun, Extra Armour
Legion Mortis Contemptor
Two Kheres Pattern Assault Cannons, Extra Armour
Salamanders Legion Tactical Squad
9 Space Marines, 1 Tactical Sergeant with MC Inferno Pistol and Melta Bombs
Salamanders Legion Tactical Squad
9 Space Marines, 1 Tactical Sergeant with Artificer Armour, MC Plasma Pistol and Melta Bombs
Salamanders Legion Tactical Support Squad
4 Space Marines with Flamers, 1 Tactical Sergeant with Artificer Armour, MC Inferno Pistol and Melta Bombs
Rhino Armoured Carrier
+ TOTAL: 1500 +
Where to from here?
The next recruits from Nocturne are set to arrive on my doorstep soon. Joining the remaining five Betrayal at Calth marines will be another five Forgeworld marines in MKII armour (to represent Great Crusade veterans) and a Land Raider Phobos. This mighty machine will eventually carry my Cataphractii Praetor and his Command Squad, who are built to essentially be budget Firedrakes (sans their double wounds, but plus inspiring hero bubble from the Standard Bearer and Covenant of Fire Rite of War). I also plan to paint up an old metal Techmarine with Servo Harness (and Servitor buddies) to accompany Cassian Dracos and make his Vulkan-made-Obsidian-Forged-AV14 hull even more ridiculously unbreakable.
To joining Cassian in a “fluffy” way, I also have Xiaphus Jurr to paint one day. Though he doesn’t yet fit into any list I’ve written, I’d like to have the two together for simple “historic” purposes. Plus, it was easy to convert him from the BaC chaplain! Maybe I’ll add Narik Dreygur and his turn-coat beep boops some day as well.
And what Legion force would be complete without their Primarch…
Anyway, thanks for taking the time to check out my first (and probably only) Horus Heresy era army! It’s been a blast to paint them, write lists for them and order the units I need to fill out the army list (ahh, that new kit smell). If you have any questions, comments, criticisms or praises to the Emperor that you’d like to share, please do! And if you’re a Heresy player in the area, hit me up. I need to practice my dice throwing arm again.
You may have already seen the menus change and this pop up a few days ago, but I’ve now got an Instagram account dedicated to my hobby. You can find me at @illuminator_hobby!
Come follow, like and share!
You can, of course, still find my inspiration feed via the menu above. This features a whole bunch of posts saved to Pinterest for easy organisation. If you’re stumped for ideas, this is a good place to start.
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD, SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE
I’ve always been pretty Anti-Khorne. There’s nothing super exciting about generic big-bad blood god in fantasy anymore. I’ve always been much more drawn to Nurgle, Tzeentch and ESPECIALLY Slaanesh.
But with the release of Khorne Daemonkin I finally heard the braying for blood. I had to make the most Heavy-Metal model ever, I just HAD to. And so I created and painted a Chaos Lord on a motorbike, featuring a giant buzzsaw for an arm, tattered skin parchments and cracked bone armour which leaked bone-marrow as he screamed by. Metal A.F.
After finishing this character, I decided to turn some unused and neglected beastmen warriors (which I had painted up as part of a doomed Imperial Guard project sometime around 2013-2014) in to Khornate cultists, painting their bases to match the Blood God’s favourite battlefield.
Below is the playable army, featuring 2 HQ and 2 Troop choices. Sure, it’s not effective, but it exists at least!
The plan is to use these guys as part of a grand Chaos army, featuring an alliance between all my Chaotic forces. It might be a bit of a ridiculous dream though, as deciding on a unified colour scheme for the bases alone has proven difficult in itself! I’m currently stuck between bloody Martian red or alien purple. I suppose time will tell…
Lord Murderghast on his Hellcycle
The weapons of the Blood God are cruel and unusual
A repainted Daemon-Prince, converted from my Slaanesh army to lead the planned Chaos alliance force
Bit of a speed-paint, but servicable enough for gaming purposes!
The Apostles of the Abyss were born from the Dark Vengeance starter set for Warhammer 40,000. As a dedicated cultist of Chaos, I couldn’t spend all that precious time painting Dark Angels, so I decided to turn most of the box over to the dark side.
The Apostles of the Abyss were an experiment in using dark, midnight colours, contrasted against bright orange. While the orange did turn out a bit muddier than I would have liked, I do really think the colour scheme worked. One day, I may go back and add to this small warband, perhaps using Vallejo fluro orange or something similar. The alien purple bases are definitely something I want to do again… but I’m struggling to find colour schemes to match.
The Apostles of the Abyss emerge from the darkness between stars, bearing the icon of the flame-eater, intent on snuffing out the light. Wherever they arrive, shadows follow, but blood does not always flow. They are ghosts in the night, treacherous tongues, vile disciples of darkness… yet great heroes all the same.
A vile and mysterious sorcerer… bearing the robes of a Fallen Angel?
A cultist of the Thousand Sons. But why is he alone?
A Wulfen lord, escaped from some frosty jail.
A mutated Helltallon spotted screaming through the night.
Where is its pilot?
No records exist on the lineage of these warriors. Night Lords?… Perhaps, Fallen?
The icon of the Flame-Eater
Fallen Angels flock to the Abyss. The Darkness cannot hide them!
The Boo-Ha-Ha Klan are a famously good-humoured Night Goblin clan that, long ago, infested the ruins of Lugrumdumbz and the nearby mountain passages near the infamous city of Krüll. They have a propensity for practical jokes and sabotage, as well as an incredible thirst for potent Fungus Brew.
The Goblins of The Boo-Ha-Ha Clan are never happy unless they are heavily intoxicated. The clan is more often than not raiding distilleries or celebrating pointless, hilarous deaths in their dank hideout. More exotic and toxic fungi grow in their caves than almost anywhere in the North, which allows a healthy Squig population to exist. Soldiers and mercenaries should be aware that The Boo-Ha-Ha clan are highly specialized in Squigly warfare and have a large number of Fanatics among their ranks.
In fact, that is but the surface of the truth. Within the depths of Lugrumdumbz and its labyrinthine cave systems, something else calls the shots… something… bouncy.
The Squiggly King is a beast of pure, regal destruction. It rarely pops its head out from its cavern, as the Boo-Ha-Ha Goblins are keen to keep it satisfied with a constant flow of sacrifices. Better that, than have a glowing ball of angry fungus and teeth running wild through your cramped campsite.
Lesser Squiggly beasts rally to the call of the Squiggly King and it takes a truly powerful Night Goblin to corral them all into battle.
My Squig-themed army is perhaps my favourite past project and so I’m super happy to finally get around to sharing it with you all! Who doesn’t love these little balls of destruction, especially when they’re painted in bright, garish colours?
While I actually see my Squig army as seperate to my previously painted Goblin horde, they can still be played as one, of course (in case I wanted to run some unfortunate army over with a truly apocalyptic horde of green and teeth).
Most of these models are old metal ones from back in my own day, mixed in with a couple of finecast Squigs and some Forgeworld resin (you can actually read about my trip to Nottingham, where I bought these models, in my travel blog here). I decided to paint them up in crazy, fantasy fungi colours instead of traditional red and orange. Because, you know, it’s more fun that way! It actually leads to a surprisingly cohesive looking force when put all together.
I won’t say anymore, other than I hope you enjoy the madness!
Skarsnik & Gobbla
Wurzagg da Great Green Prophet
Wrinkle da Kullur Bearur and MastaBlasta da Shaman
Don Squixote on his faithful mount, Rozzinanteeth
Da Bloody Gob
A vampiric Squig with an unhealthy bloodlust
Da Squiggly King himself!
Da Great White Squig, Morky
Da Creepy Crawla
Agg-me-Ayyz da Shaman
Squig Poppers, for when the battle-line gets a bit too out of line
Old School Herders
The Whole Herd together
My Squiggly army also took part in the 2016 Games Workshop “Armies on Parade” competition, in which they took away a shiny bronze medal! I unfortunately don’t have any better shots of the finished board, but hopefully these give you a good idea of the finished product.
The story?: Don Squixote has heard rumour of a “Heart of Power” deep within the lush woods. Hoping to find it and swallow it for its special powers, Squixote leads a bouncing, doom-bringing, rather-doomed-itself expedition into the heart of the forest… only to find the “Heart” guarded by ruinous champions.
I’ve never been a huge Star Wars fan and can’t claim to have much knowledge of the expanded, but the release of the space-craft skirmish game X-Wing got me super excited for fighters and lasers.
The game itself is super fun, perhaps getting me to roll dice more than anything else. The fact that the rules could be picked up and understood in an hour or so made it perfect for bringing along to parties. Who doesn’t love Star Wars?
Of course, me being me, I couldn’t pick up these miniature kits without applying my own paintjobs, making them “my dudes”. This project was a nice break from 28mm, and allowed me to work on vehicles, which is something I almost never had in any depth before. I’ll probably still have to practice a bit before applying the same techniques to 28mm vehicles, though.
My Rebels were actually painted up as “Kessel Runners”, a band of pirates that race the Kessel Run, delivering spice and other narcotics. I honestly have no idea if any of this would make sense in the universe, so I apologize for offending, Star Wars fans. I also painted my Empire fleet in a Sith-y scheme, imagining that this is a fleet that flies around with Darth Sidious himself… or perhaps, some other Sith Lord.
I painted up both sides of the original game, along with a few expansions and “large ships”. Most of these guys are now in boxes, waiting for their next flight.