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.
The dead do not rest peacefully along the tainted borders of Praag. The city long ago became a distended hive for daemons and other warped creatures. The walls wail with the souls of the trapped and butchered. The graveyards and churches are now haunted by beings not quite living, not quite dead and not quite sane.
But still there are noble souls in the city, or at least something like that.
Stomping, grunting and galloping up and down the length of Praag’s great walls are thirteen horesemen, knights of an unknown order who stand in eternal vigil. Twisted and broken by the powers of Chaos, these beings know no rest.
Whether they be daemon, undead or some almagamation of both, no one can be sure. Some bear the arms and armour of Norse Marauders, others the ragged colours of Empire knights. One amongst them even carries Elder blades and wears a phoenix helm. Whatever their previous allegiance, it is obvious that they now serve a greater, more mysterious master. Repelling invaders and looters from the Northlands, mountains and great cities alike, they are silent guardians of the entombed city.
The Thirteenth Horseman was a fun little conversion, made largely from the bitz-box of my local hobby store. I remember spotting a cute “skeletaur” conversion in one of the very first Golden Demon publications (all the way from the 80s). It’s really liberating and enjoyable to challenge yourself with “complex” conversions for the simple sake of creating, instead of hacking and pasting weapons for WYSIWYG gaming.
The most challenging parts of this conversion were those involved in making the Horseman look like he was “leaping” over the barricade. I had to do a bit of cutting and greenstuffing around the back legs to make the plastic horse skeleton to “rear up”. It’s quite simple to do this, just follow the contours already in place as designed by the modeller, cut into them and then fill the space with greenstuff. It can be painful to watch it slowly droop and fall apart as the greenstuff dries, but just hold it in a neutral position so that the weight does not pull it down. Look for more of a tutorial on this in the future!
The painting style was very much inspired by the recent influx of “Blanchitsu” warbands and, in particular, the blog Ex Profundis, one of my favourite hobby websites ever!
The Horseman’s armour is caked with grave grime (made from GW’s new crackle texture paints)
The Horseman leaps and bounds over the graves of the unquiet dead
An ancient battlefield stands silent as the grave, frozen over
Much like my small Tau warband, my Harlequins are orphans of a larger planned army that never got far off the ground. I still have a Starweaver and a number of other Space-Clowns sitting, primed and ready, to be painted in my WIP box… Ah, some day, my pretties… some day.
But either way, I’m pretty proud of these colourful characters. I painted the Shadowseer and Death Jester for the monthly painting challenge at my local Games Workshop and added the Troupe Master after. The lone Harlequin trouper was the test model for the scheme, even though I found myself drifting towards more reddy-pinks in the later models.
These guys were a practice in painting bright and loud, painting convincing galaxy patterns (a tutorial for which I’ll upload soon) and some checks. They were also my first Eldar of any sort, as I’m not normally one for “knife-ears” in any setting.
Let the grand carnival begin!
The cosmic pattern will be repeated throughout the army as an alternative to checks
The Cult of a Thousand Eyes was my first foray into The Warp.
The idea of a warband of Chaos Space Marines running around, sprouting eyes and tentacles all over their body, really creeped me and out and inspired me in equal measure. There’s just something so unsettling about multiple eyes on something that should normally only have two, especially if they’re in the wrong place.
The Cult of a Thousand Eyes stalk the galaxy, using their unique visions of the dark flows of The Immaterium to guide them to their next prey.
A dreaded Chaos Lord, brining his enlitened vision to the Universe by force
The iconography of the Cult reflects their unique mutations
After completing my small Ultramarines army and my much larger Black Templar successor force, The Sons of Vergus, you think I would have become sick of Space Marines.
Not so! The Emperor’s Finest were the soldiers that introduced me to the world of Warhammer 40,000 and to the grimdark of miniature hobby in general. With the release of Assault on Black Reach, I managed to lay my hands on another wave of marine reinforcements. At that time though, I felt like branching out from my black and red force… by painting a red and black force.
The Exorcists proved an interesting chapter to me. They were gritty daemon hunters, resplendent in blood-red instead of holy silver. Though my painting skills at the time were no where near good enough to get such a bright red to look really great, the process of building and painting this small army taught me a lot about highlighting and shading that I then applied to later Sons of Vergus.
In the same Assault on Black Reach box I also recieved a number of Orkz, which became a sort of side project for a while. These Snakebite Orkz allowed me to practice shades of green and brown, and work with textures that you just don’t find on Space Marines. I think this early branching out definitely helped improve my general painting skills.
Sadly, not many of these original Snakebite Boyz exist. Now they’re stuffed away in a to-do box, to be stripped and repainted later into more Nuka Troopers (more on that army to come!)
But those that did survive (at least in storage) are the mighty and mysterious Exorcists of Commander Panthius.