Saturday, July 2, 2011

Thousand Sons... Like Thousands of Them.

I just finished painting and sealing my last 6 Thousand Sons. It took me about 5 days to finish them but for two of those days, I was unable to paint. I am a notoriously slow painter but my goal is a Marine a day. These guys just flew together. This is likely due to how little detail there is to paint and the simple techniques I used.


The Thousand Sons have a sorted history. Their Legion had a proportionately high level of psykers compared to the other Legions. They relied heavily on arcane knowledge and psychic powers that were forbidden at the Council of Nikae. This greatly hampered the Legion and angered the Magnus the Red, their Primarch.

With their increased ability to use the powers of the Warp, comes the increase in mutation. Thousand Son Marines were almost certainly to die at either the hands of the enemies of the Emperor or by the twisting and crippling mutations.

I'm not quite to the part that the Thousand Sons played in the Horus Heresy, so I'm going to skip this bit. What I do know at this point is that Magnus sent a psychic to the Emperor to warn him of Horus' treachery. This was against the emperor's edict at Nikaea and the force of the message shattered the shield on the Palace of Terra. The Thousand Sons were branded heretics and the Space Wolves Legion was sent to destroy them.

"All is dust. All is dust."

After, their conflict with the Space Wolves and the conclusion of the Heresy, the Thousand Sons were still plagued with the mutations as they were before the Heresy, only they were gettin more frequent and worse. One of their most powerful sorcerers, Ahriman, devised a spell that would stop the change and save his Legion. Unfortunately, what it did was separate the Legion into two groups. All those Marines who had any psychic prowess at all, had their abilities greatly increased and became Sorcerers. Those who lacked any psychic powers, were instantly killed as their armor was sealed shut and their bodies turned to dust. Their souls were trapped forever inside their armor.

 So why tell you all this?

Because all this history went into choosing my colors and posing the models.

Aspiring Sorcerer
Taken on macro setting in the photo studio. No flash.

I left my Aspiring Sorcerers in the original pre-Heresy color of red as he is the only actual living person in the squad, the rest of them long since reduced to ashes inside of their armor. It visually sets him apart from the rest of the Marines. When I started this mini, I forgot that the pre-Heresy colors were red with silver trim. I like this mistake as the gold ties the Sorcerer into the rest of his gold-trimmed squad.

The Sorcerer is an all metal model so it is impossible to pose. All the option for the Aspiring Sorcerer are psychic powers and therefore not required to be modeled on the mini. I would like to come up with counters for the psychic powers, but that is just another bit to lose. Also, how to you model psychic powers consistently and unambiguously.

Taken with flash.

I painted the sorcerer in much the same way I painted my Blood Angels. I started by priming the whole model in Krylon Pimento satin spray paint. After letting it dry completely, I gave it two coats of very thin Blood Red. That's the key to painting red, thin paint. The gold was painted in my typical "warm gold" style. That's Calathan Brown, Shining Gold, then Mithril Silver on the raised surfaces and hard edges. After that the whole model got a wash in Gryphonne Sepia. I touched up some of the red then all the red areas got a wash of Baal Red. This is a really cheep trick in painting red over a detailed surface. Paint red then wash red. It adds subtle shading and cleans up mistakes really well. The sepia wash also did some weird, unexpected but ultimately pleasant thing to the Ice Blue. It turned it into some strange green color. I left some of it showing but not much.You can see more of it on the icon.

Thousand Son Marines
Taken with flash because it shows the gold off better.

Because they are all mindless and soulless golems, that does not leave a lot of room to pose them with much personality. I would have posed them all in the typical "Marine holding the bolter with two hands" pose save for one thing. When you buy a box of Thousand Sons you pay for these nice-looking and unique chest pieces. Then most people cover them up with bolters. I tried to make as many of them as I could with more open poses.

Modeling Thousand Sons is more about what you can't do rather than what you can. You can't use running legs for a model that is Slow and Purposeful. You can give them bolt pistols, knives or chainswords for reasons that I'll talk about soon. You can't swap the heads as they are the signature Thousand Son element. No bare heads because of the sealed armor thing. You're pretty much locked into what comes in the box. Kinda sad really as the Egyptian thing would make for some really fun conversions.

Thousand Sons currently have no options for wargear. The only options are psychic powers for the sorcerer. They can't take bolt pistols or close combat weapons. Just bolters. Delicious, AP 3 bolters. This leaves me with nothing to put in their hand, should I choose to have them firing their bolters one handed. What I did was to use a normal left hand that cups the bolter and bend it into a half-ass fist. A little dot of super glue later and we're in business.

The fist in the picture above is the crappier of the two. I did not bend the fingers are the second joint and regret it. What you are supposed to do is take a very sharp hobby knife and take a small wedge out of the inside of the hand where you want the knuckles to bend. then you apply just a little force to get the fingers to bend but not break at the weakened points.

Thousand Son Marines have the option for an icon. They already have an upgraded mark of Tzeentch giving them a 4+ invulnerable save. All the icon does is allow Deep striking units to not scatter if they choose to land within 6" of the model with the icon. This allows the unit to summon daemons and act as a bridge head for Terminators et al.

Rather than just throw a spikey bit on the Sorcerer and say "that could count as an icon if I wanted it to" (a cheep way out in my opinion), I decided to have a dedicated model to act as an icon bearer. I do not plan to use many of the icons of Tzeentch in the CSMs, so it was convenient to use that as my icon. Having made that choice, it made sense to use the appropriate icons for all my cult troops.

An interesting point about the arm the standard bearer has. I used a loyalist Space Marine arm to add some variety to the model. The CSM icon arm is left handed where as this is right.The loyalist arm also lacks the spikey trim of the CSM arm.

I've included one classic model from the Traitors of Chaos in each of my cult troops. It bulks up my numbers while adding a little something special. Not all models have to be the new shiny. Being in touch with the 2nd Edition roots is a good thing. It was a blast to paint these old models.

And finally I'm getting to the painting aspect of these minis!

I started from a light primer of flat black spray paint. I prefer flat because it more readily accepts the basecoat which was Mordian Blue in this case. I did a heavy drybrush of Enchanted Blue leaving only a little of the Mordian Blue showing only in the deep recesses. I did a few Asurmen Blue washes as well as some touch ups with Enchanted Blue. I made sure that all my hard edges had a good coat of Enchanted Blue on them.

I was not super satisfied with this technique. It did give me a rich and vibrant blue that was different from how I normally paint blue (I'll probably talk about that later). It was disappointing in that the hard edges did not pop enough for me. I could have mixed Enchanted Blue with Ice blue and done a hard edge highlight, but I hate mixing paints and that's just more work. I was ok with this because the gold trim that is everywhere provides a nice contrast and highlight to the blue. I now feel that highlighting the blue would have robbed me of this effect.

The warm gold and Ice Blue were painted as described in the Sorcerer section.

The cloth was based in Deneb Stone and  painted Bleached Bone. After a quick wash of Gryphonne Sepia and a touch up of Bleached Bone again, it was finished. I did not paint any of the symbols on the tabbards as I am not very good at freehand. I consider it useless detail anyway.

The weapons were painted in Boltgun Metal and Chainmail. They were washed Badab Black and touched up with Mythril Silver. I made sure to drill out all of my gun barrels.

I made sure to have each of the left shoulder pads bearing the post Heresy symbol of the Ouroboros and the right shoulder pad with assorted Chaos iconography. I tried to adhere to this pattern in all my cult troops but fell short. Keep a sharp eye out to spot it in a pater post. In situations where I was left with a bare right shoulder (like the sorcerer or the classic Marine), I applied a Tzeentch symbol which I touched up with the appropriate color paint.

The basing was done in my typical CSM style with sand and a blend of static grass. The edges are painted Graveyard Earth.

There are some great articles for converting and painting pre-heresy Thousand Sons (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) Those links will be useful when I start the Pre/Post Heresy Project. I plan to make a display with each of the First Founding Legions in both their colors before and after the Heresy.But this project is a long way off. I'm spending the time perfecting my techniques and waiting for appropriate bits and artwork to be produced to make it easier.

Now that they are finished, that completes my cult troops for now. I don't have anything really lined up. There is Huron and a Warsmith conversion that have been sitting on my painting table for quite a while. I need to crank out some Iron Warriors. I need a terminator standard bearer and some more basic Chaos Marines.

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