A bit of (almost) everything that I’ve been up to since October, which was the last time Pip pointed a camera at my models. There are a few models in here that I’ve posted HQ photos of before, but Pip’s pictures are much, much better than mine will ever be. I should get her to take pictures more often!
One of the major appeals of the Burning of Prospero set was, for me, the story of the fall of Prospero and the characters involved. The Thousand Sons are my favourite Space Marine legion, and not just because apparently I like everything that Tzeentch likes. Their fall is genuinely tragic, and their defense of their homeworld as ‘traitors’ is a genuinely heroic moment: most of the characters involved don’t even know why they’re being attacked. There’s a nice bit of flavour text alongside the first Burning of Prospero scenario that describes a Thousand Son’s reluctance to open fire on his ‘brothers’, even as Space Wolves slaughter the human population of Tizca.
Ahriman embodies that drama, and I love the way this miniature tells his story. He’s one of the heroes of the defense of Tizca, but he’s also doomed and will, in turn, doom his legion. His headdress, the subtle spikes on his shoulderpads, and the glowing runes on his armour suggest the Chaos sorcerer he’s about to become. There’s even an icon of Tzeentch hidden on his right shinpad, concealed behind his tabard. I picked it out in white and blue to suggest that it’s glowing at this crucial moment. I didn’t get a photo of it because I’m dumb.
The Ahriman kit has him standing on a fallen Space Wolf as standard, however, and I wanted to reframe him somewhat. I think the sense of his impending doom is more dramatic if his presentation, in this moment, is unquestionably heroic. I wanted to show him stepping down from a shattered marble step onto the battlefield, suggesting that he’s standing defiantly in front of his enemies – not on top of them.
That slab is made of a piece of chalky basing material (it is probably chalk) that I carved to fit the curve of the base and basecoated with Ulthuan Grey. The marble effect is made up of layers of variously-watered-down shades, including Seraphim Sepia, Agrax Earthshade, Guilliman Blue and Drakenhof Nightshades. Then I picked out the ‘veins’ of the marble with a mix of Dryad Bark and Incubi Darkness before edge highlighting with Screaming Skull.
The various turqoise gemstones on Ahriman’s gear are basecoated with the new Thousand Sons Blue and highlighted with Ahriman Blue, naturally.
After taking months over my first Veteran Tactical Squad, getting these done in two weeks (including a couple of trips away) was a nice change of pace. Something that this process confirmed to me is that working in sub-assemblies makes batch painting a lot more palatable to me. I’ll likely go into more detail on that subject in this month’s podcast.
In this case, I painted and assembled each model in the following steps: legs and torsos, arms, weapons, helmets, helmet cowling, shoulderpads, and finally bases – using different coloured primers a base in each instance. The way Tartaros Terminator armour is put together makes this a necessity – I can’t imagine how irritating it’d be to paint underneath that helmet cowling or under the raised shoulderpads – but this is also a good way of working more broadly. I felt more confident building my models in dynamic poses when I knew that they didn’t also need to be ‘paintable’ in that position. This is particularly true for the sergeant, whose angled pose would have made the right half of his helmet a nightmare to finish to any kind of standard had I pre-built the entire model.
With these done, I’ve got enough painted to do our first Burning of Prospero session. I’m not sure what my next project will be: if I stick with my Horus Heresy collection and paint Ahriman, that will open up a second Prospero scenario. But I’ve also neglected my pile of Arcanites for a long time, and our Age of Sigmar games would benefit from reinforcements. I also just got back from Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, where I encountered Bandai’s gorgeous scale replica kits. I, er, made space in my suitcase accordingly.
“I know”, I thought, one million years ago. “I’ll paint my Thousand Sons with transparent red paint over a gold basecoat. It’ll look good, and I’ll save time! We’ll be playing Burning of Prospero by Christmas.”
It’s now almost April, and, well, I was half right. I’m really pleased with how these guys have turned out: going for a metallic finish suits the 30K era and puts some breathing room between my Thousand Sons and the other predominantly red Space Marine chapters. I’ve learned loads, too, from applying decals to creating variety within multi-pose kits to painting rust, scorch marks and other effects that don’t really feature in Age of Sigmar. The whole process simply took much, much longer than I’d thought.
There are non-hobby related reasons for that, like an extremely busy start to the year, the stress of leaving my old job, and the rush to make the most of freelance life – something that should, from now on, give me more time for painting. But there was also an element of burnout, the strain of having an unfinished project hogging my painting table. I’ve done a Balewind Vortex, some objective markers, a Slaughterpriest and a Chaos Sorcerer Lord in the time since I first assembled these models.
Despite the stack of Tzeentch Arcanites waiting for my attention, I’m going to stick some more Thousand Sons on the table next – the funny thing about finishing a grueling project is that suddenly all the enthusiasm comes rushing back. I’ll paint my Terminators next, so that Tom and I can play a couple of the Burning of Prospero scenarios. Before Christmas, ideally.
The start of a new project! Tom and I have split the Horus Heresy: Burning of Prospero box and we’re both painting our respective halves. He’s taken the Space Wolves/Custodes/Sisters of Silence, and I’m doing the Thousand Sons. Tzeentch stuff for the Tzeentch guy, etc etc.
This first Tactical Marine was a test run, and he’s not 100% finished – I still need to apply decals to his shoulderpads, which I’ll do once I’ve had a chance to practice with them. The key thing I wanted to do – and sadly the photos really don’t show this off – was to create a metallic red effect for his armour, as in the old Forge World Thousand Sons reference pictures. Burning of Prospero’s photography show the Sons painted a matte red, not dissimilar to Blood Angels. It looks good, but I really think that a metallic finish suits the Horus Heresy era, and particularly this chapter, better.
As such, this is the first miniature that I’ve painted almost entirely with washes and glazes. The entire model was basecoated gold with Retributor Armour spray, then washed with Reikland Fleshshade and drybrushed with a Liberator Gold highlight. Then I applied two thin coats of Vallejo Transparent Red to the armour, which gives it an Iron Man-style shine. I then shaded the armour first with Carroburg Crimson and then with Nuln Oil in the deep recesses. One great thing about this approach is the gold trim was effectively finished by the time I’d painted all the red, just needing some touch-ups and a highlight with Runefang Steel (which I also used to pick out chips and battle damage elsewhere on the model.)
I’m really happy with how it turned out – when enough of these models are done, I’ll ask Pip to take some proper photos. In the meantime, however, I’ve got a lot more Tzeentch demons to finish ahead of my first Age of Sigmar event later in the month. I’ll be returning to Horus Heresy stuff when that’s done.