“The Knights Resplendent”: An Experiment with Chrome

I’ve been absolutely blown away and humbled by the response to my recent hobby experiment. Upon writing, the Instagram community have watched the short video I posted almost 18,000 times! Never before have I spent a whole day fielding questions and sending thanks. It’s really filled my bitter, grimdark heart with joy.

So I wanted to put together something of a tutorial/review for you all! I hope here I can answer some of the questions that have been flooding my way today.

I present to you: The Knights Resplendent

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The Knights Resplendent in their chromed out glory

Witness Me!

There’s always been a little part of me screaming out for Space Marines that shine. The 41st Millennium is a very dark and grimy place but I think that, somewhere out there, there would have to be a band of super radical, 80s neon-bright warriors taking down the enemies of the Emperor while glittering like a He-Man hero. The release of the new, slick Primaris Marines (which I still refuse to see as a new “species” of Marine, rather an up-sizing for sake of scale), was the perfect opportunity to try bring my vision to life. I just needed the right tool.

I found the secret weapon in the form of a paint marker from legendary graffiti brand Molotow: the Liquid Chrome (20 Years Edition) Marker. I should mention off the bat, I’m in no way connected to the brand, or an “influencer” of any kind (*cough* not yet *cough*).

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Let’s break the marker down a bit, shall we? The marker is essentially a big tube of super shiny, alcohol-based paint that is pushed out by pressure on the nib (which comes in 1mm, 2mm or 4mm sizes). Of course, the bigger the nib, the bigger the pen (thus more paint), but for scale work, 1mm works spectacularly.

My first experiment with this super-pigmented paint was on a Tau Battlesuit, used to decorate the inner metal and icons. When I painted this in Australia, eBay only gave me access to the 2mm version of the pen, which made it difficult (impossible even) to cover some surfaces. In this case, I pushed down the nib into a small groove in my palette to create a pool of paint, which I quickly applied with an old brush. Of course, this method resulted in a lot of lost detail and an rough, bubbly finish.

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My first experiment with Molotow Liquid Chrome

It should be noted, there are plenty of high-shine paints on the market, and a lot of chrome spray paints, but I was lucky enough to stumble upon this through graffiti culture and find it works very well with a minimum of fuss. No need for buffing powders or anything, just shake well, and apply. The main drawbacks are that the markers are relatively expensive, and would be a bit impractical if used to paint an entire army, as I will explain below.

Chrome Warhammer Space Marines Tutorial
The sub-assembly of the chromed-up Space Marine Sergeant

Putting it into Practice

As already mentioned, applying the paint couldn’t be easier. Of course, it’s best to keep your minis partially un-assembled at this stage because, unlike a brush, the marker is rather thick and will not bend to enter hard-to-reach places. I constructed the bodies of the Easy to Build Intercessors, leaving their arms and backpacks on the sprue until the coat was roughly even.

To apply the paint, simply shake well, press down a bit on a palette to get the paint running through the nib, and then draw onto the surface. Remarkably, the paint smooths itself out really well, flowing across the surfaces as a slightly glittery fluid then congealing as an almost rubbery, smooth mass. Naturally, you can’t really thin this (to my knowledge), so you’ll have to be content with a less-than-totally-crisp look. If you look closely at the photos of my painted examples, though, it hardly overloads details unless over-used or multiple coats are made to correct mistakes … no pressure, though!

I found, on my first try, that drawing over mistakes while the paint is still wet is a really bad move. Because the paint sets completely very, very slowly, drawing on the surface without waiting some hours will result in a rough, damaged and globby surface that is nowhere near as flat and shiny. For a truly mirror like finish, try and get everything painted in one quick go, and if you need to fix things up later, apply another layer only after a fair amount of time has passed (in this case, I only fixed up mistakes the next day or later). This restricts you a bit, and can result in some imperfect results (see, the results of clipping the backpack from the sprue on the image below), so be prepared.

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A close-up in which you can probably see a bit of “thickness” appearing, specifically in the thick line of the backpack.

Another very important note: keep your grubby mits off the model! While it’s drying, the finish is incredibly fragile and even after it has dried, it remains easy to damage. Simply touching the model (leaving trace body oils) will result in a dulled shine, closer to Games Workshop’s brightest silvers rather than a true chrome. As such, I don’t think I’ll ever risk gaming with these fellows, or extending the project into a full army (because of cost restrictions as well).

Once the coat is on and dried, you can pick out details around (I used a lot of White/Celestra Grey, because dark objects seem to appear as holes rather than details against the chrome). The paint itself dries so smooth and shiny that properly thinned paint simply balls up and separates like water off a duck’s back. Because of this, plan ahead and only paint the areas you want to be shiny. I found that using another art marker (a 0.03 Copic Promarker) actually work better than paint to draw in black lines, such as grooves in the armour or between the shoulder pad and trim.

I have yet to experiment with varnishing these models (to tell you a secret … I have never varnished a model) and so do not know if the coat of protection will affect the shine. My guess, from just touching the finish, is that it probably would. Perhaps a gloss varnish might serve to enhance or alter the effect in interesting ways, but you’d have to take care to not make the whole model glossy.

And that’s about it in terms of tutorial! Elegant, right?

Chrome Space Marines Back
The mirror-like effect is more pronounced on large, flat surfaces. You can see a bit of the yellow tarp I use to protect my painting table reflected in the armour here.

Fact File: The Knights Resplendent

++ 002.M42 ++
++ Database of Potentially Renegade Adeptus Astartes ++
++ File: The Knights “Resplendent” ++
++ Thought of the Day: What fear of death have we who know there is immortality in the great and noble deeds of men? ++

In psychotropic warzones across the Imperium Nihilis, a highly ostentatious Chapter of  Adeptus Astartes have been recorded launching shock-and-awe assaults that have, more often than not, resulted in the total disruption of enemy organisation within hours. The chapter bears no codex-compliant livery upon their armour, and little numerical or rank identification, though all known members operate in armour shined to mirror-like brightness (for reasons yet to be explained to the Adeptus Administratum [file appends: Attempted_Blockade_of_The_Knights_Resplendent]). Though their uniformly dazzling armour is highly conspicuous, The Knights Resplendent are a reserved chapter, operating in secret until their brutal method of warfare (consisting of sudden, excessive barrages of high-ordinance, surgical drop-pod strikes and [REDACTED]altering [REDACTED] [file appends: Weapons_of_Sensory_Overload_and_their_Application]. Further to these troubling claims is the fact that the Gene-Seed source of the chapter has yet to be catalogued and ratified, suppressed by agents of His Holiness, Forge-Lord of [REDACTED], [REDACTED].


Rounding Up

So I think I’ll call this little experiment a wild success! There’s still more to be learned in this process, such as: how varnishes will affect the finish? Will the shine hold for years? How many models can you paint with one pen? Can you paint with a brush straight from the ink refill bottle? (My guess on this last one is: probably not smoothly).

For now, I’m planning to leave The Knights Resplendent here. I want to, perhaps, paint a Gravis Armoured Captain (or better yet… another Dreadnought), but that will be it for the marker I have, I reckon. Apart from Space Marines, I think this ink/paint would look amazing on Necrons, some neon Skitarii (one of my first thoughts when playing with the paint) or any other miniature that is smooth, futuristic and cyber-punkish. Though Infinity minis might be a little small in scale to apply this to, I also reckon the possibilities for use in that universe are endless!

I hope this helps and answers some questions. If you’re keen to see more of my work, follow this blog and my Instagram (@illuminator_hobby) and be sure to let me know if you find a cool application for this awesome marker!

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Krüll, City of Slaanesh

The Hierophant of Krüll cocked his helmeted head, resting his steel cheek on a curled claw. The magnificent white plume on the top of his crown fluttered in the bitter breeze blowing in from the tooth-lined portal across the chamber.

Beneath his throne, a man grovelled, hardly anything left of him but skin and bone and weeping sores wrapped in a hessian sack. He cried for the broken shape in his arms, a daughter once loved dearly, but spirited away to the temples long ago.

“And I was told your family came from stronger stock, Gunther.” The Hierophant weezed. His voice was a cold wind, a metallic rasp and a sensuous whisper all at once. “We were expecting this one to last more than a few years.”

Gunther cried out, stroking back hair from a blue, dead face. He lifted his own head in the direction of the city’s ultimate Lord, suddenly filled with rage. But before he could gaze upon the Lord’s boots, a blade whipped out from the shadows and fluttered around his neck.

“You think you are worthy to look upon our Dark Prince’s chosen voice?” Some one spat out from behind Gunther. “Avert thy gaze, worm.”

Gunther did what he was told. It was all one could do in the city of Krüll.

“Now, now. Don’t be so glum. You have a new world in front of you, child,” said the Hierophant. “Now you are honoured by a truly rare sensation: utter loss. Feel it, embrace it. It’s what Slaanesh wants of you, of us. To truly feel. How many of us can claim that?

“I feel nothing anymore.” Gunther cried.

“That is a shame.”

Gunther heard the armoured giant rise from his throne, but kept his eyes firmly fixed on the marble floor. He smelt a rising musk and heard chains and bells clatter from some far off corner of the room.

“I’m sure we can teach you how to feel again, Gunther … TAKE HIM TO THE TEMPLE!”

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A Walking City

The city of Krüll is a crawling monolith. From across the murky horizon of The Realm of Shadow, it would simply appear as a hive of crenelated towers and spiked parapets. If one was to watch long enough (without going mad) they would see the mass of buildings moving slowly but surely through the land.

Krüll is, itself, a chariot. Upon wheels the size of castles and pulled by an army of 66,666 daemonic steeds, Krüll slowly cuts through the wastelands and swamps of the Realm of Shadow. Like a scythe, it topples lesser cities, crushes forests and shakes mountains. The city is an inhabited pilgrim, crossing the worlds in search of the missing Prince of Chaos, Slaanesh.

The city has moved for countless centuries, only stopping occasionally as the daemonically possessed steeds exhaust themselves and return to the Warp. In these periods of sloth, before the army of yoked beasts can be replenished, vast armies march from the city for the joy of bloodshed and to collect the slaves necessary for the working of the city. It is in these times that the influence of Chaos waxes strongest, causing daemons to rupture into reality and join the endless march of Krüll.

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Society of the Damned

Krüll, like any city, has its own layers of castes and classes. For the largest part it is, for lack of a better word, a civilised city of men. Slaves and “Freemen” (those claiming no allegiance to the so called “god-king” Sigmar) form the lower rung of this society, performing menial work and living in barbaric squalor for most of their lives. Still, inside Krüll and under the eye of its tyrants, they are safe from the Realm’s many monsters.

Above them are the Horselords, Marauders and Bandits turned from their wild ways into slave masters and property owners. Branded with the mark of Slaanesh, the Chaos god of excess, they hold dominion that would make men of Sigmar’s empire jealous. It is the Horselords who ensure the city keeps moving, by goading the horses and keeping the enormous wheels turning.

The Horselords bow in turn to the Warriors of Slaanesh who have taken Krüll as their barracks. These Champions of Chaos live for nothing but the din of battle, the warmth of fleshly-spilled blood and the cries of pained ecstasy that ring out in their wake.

The upper echelons of Krüll’s society are dominated by the wealthy, who dine nightly on banquets of human flesh and commit unspeakable acts behind velvet curtains. They strut through the city without fear, able to pick and choose their human “toys” with the backing of mercenary Warriors. Alongside these lucky few are the priests and priestesses of Slaanesh who run the dark temples scattered throughout the city. They are magic users, daemon consorts and vile monsters all.

Finally, the overall Lord of Krüll is a creature known simply as “The Hierophant”. Though he was once, most likely, a mortal man, he has long since abandoned his humanity to grow closer to his god. He is the Dark Prince’s Chosen Voice and ultimate pilot of the city’s movements. It is The Hierophant who “speaks” to Slaanesh, reading the signs in the winds of magic and following them on the decadent path towards finding the missing god.

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In the Wake of the City

Though Slaanesh can claim the city of Krüll as his domain (should he choose to reappear in the Mortal Realms), the city’s movement leaves in its wake a world belonging to Nurgle, god of sickness, fear and entropy.

The passage of a gigantic fortress city, with its millions of slaves and obscenely wealthy, wasteful tyrants, leaves behind a world totally riven. Krüll deposits a trail of pollution, sickness and destruction for thousands of kilometers, from which has grown a completely different society.

Enter: The Sewer Kings, disgusting Champions of Nurgle who have gathered armies of escaped slaves, local monsters and Wildmen to their side. Though they live in constant filth, they are happy. Grandfather Nurgle has blessed them with a constant supply of fresh meat and ripe disease. They dance in the sewers of Krüll, perform in grand carnivals and raid scattered towns with rictus grins on their faces.

The Hierophant knows well about the Sewer Kings existence, but pays them little heed. He sees them simply as a band of merry madmen, deluded into worshiping a truly disgusting god. At times of war, The Hierophant and The Sewer Kings have even been known to fight alongside one another. Though they worship a filthy deity, the fly-ridden armies of Nurgle are unnaturally hardy warriors who are more than happy to bring Chaos to the Mortal Realms however they can.

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The Search Continues

The Hierophant is seemingly immortal, relentless and cruel beyond reasoning. His search for his missing god has taken him across worlds, through the Realm of Chaos and into battle with hundreds of armies. Yet still he searches, still the city moves.

Perhaps he will never find Slaanesh. Perhaps he doesn’t want to. For if the god were to reveal himself, The Hierophant would have to relinquish his tyrannical grip on the city. Perhaps the search itself is meaningless, eternal for the sake of it. Either way, for someone to challenge this mad demi-god, they would have to halt the movement of an impossible machine, climb a mile high fortress, defeating Champions of Slaanesh and hordes of drugged slaves along the way, before finally entering the marble and gold tower at the city’s peak.

And so Krüll continues onward, for ever into the darkness …

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A Gallery of Evil

I have recently resurrected my old Warriors of Chaos army, giving them a bit of a lick of paint and a whole new over-the-top, Age of Sigmar backstory. I might put together a few “Designer’s Notes” on this whole project in the near future, so keep an eye out for that. The Hierophant is watching.

Salamanders I (Horus Heresy – Legio Astartes) 2016

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!


There is no cooler character in the Horus Heresy (at least from my brief readings of the Forgeworld source books) that Cassian Dracos. The idea of an army being led by an unkillable robot warrior-monk, burning with the flames of zealoutry, is just far too cool to pass up.

The Salamanders are a very under-represented Legion in the Horus Heresy scene and I never understood why (without bringing up the “race” issue that somehow always gets brought up by some hobbyists). I mean, they’re the most “human” legion, but also the most heavy metal (perhaps second to World Eaters). PURGING FIRE AND FLAMES! BRIMSTONE! ARTISAN WEAPONS! DRAGONS!

I have a feeling my love for the green guys comes from my previous Witchhunter project and my various other green armies. I’ve also had a continuing love for “techy” armies and for zealous heroes. Most of all, I just thought the Sallies needed more love… And I’m a massive Warhammer Hipster who wants to do things that not many people have done before.

It was, as I’m sure most of you would know from experience, a really hard choice to settle on a Legion. Out of 18 iconic forces, only one could lay their colours on my expensive bare plastic and resin. I ended up making the choice, at Nottingham, to buy the coolest looking Primarch, Vulkan, and the coolest Dreadnought, Cassian Dracos. And so, my XVIII Legion force was born, following The Dragon Revenant into the fires of battle, unto the anvil of war.

My Salamanders are (perhaps) going to be part of a larger “Shattered Legion” or allied force (alongside either Space Wolves to match my old Iron Wolves or perhaps even loyalist Emperor’s Children). They are members of Xiaphus Jurr’s “Disciples of the Flame” and the crew-members of the Ebon Drake, led, of course, by Cassian Dracos himself. Though I’m still to start painting Xiaphus, before leaving for three months overseas I managed to paint up a Tactical Squad, a Support Squad and Cassian to prove the colour scheme. I was a bit hesitant at first, thinking “ooh, have I picked the right Legion?”, but after finishing this portion of the army, I’ve fallen in love.

This is an ongoing project, so look out for updates as they come! Also, keep your eyes peeled for a guide on painting this green armour, fire and Salamander skin. VULKAN LIVES!

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The Salamanders regroup after Istvaan, with fires of vengeance burning in their hearts

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The Thirteenth Horseman (Warhammer – Conversion) 2016

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!
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The Triumph of Death – The Thirteenth Horseman

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X-Wing Fleets (X-Wing – Rebels and Empire) 2014

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.

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The Kessel Runners
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Imperial Grand Authority