Painting Dark Angels

There was another reason for me to choose the Dark Angels. I like to stretch my modest painting skills and try new techniques, and the Dark Angels would allow me to work on two things which have troubled me in the past: painting black and freehanding. In particular, I have always been terrible at freehanding, and the heraldry of the First would give me a chance to stretch myself. I knew I would end up with some shoulderpads with which I was not thrilled, but I also knew this was the only way to get better. I think you will agree that some of my results are perfectly serviceable, and others are failures, though none, I hope, abject ones.

But first, the black. I am pretty terrible at getting clean edge highlights, but I do have a decent way of faking it, and that is just what I did here. After giving the models a black spray and then a thinned down layer of black paint by brush, I drybrushed the whole model with Dark Reaper and then again, more selectively, with Administratum Grey. This makes the details pop, but leaves that “messy” look familiar to most painters. At that stage, I then go back to the model with thinned down black paint and paint back over the smooth panels on the armour. This cleans up the messiness left by the drybrushing and makes for a pretty adequate black-armoured space marine.

I did learn something about Games Workshop’s love of the edge highlighting that they so often use for marines: it photographs really, really well. My marines look much darker and flatter in the photos that I have taken than in person, but this is okay with me; I’m not publishing a monthly magazine, after all.

I used Leadbelcher for joints in the armour, the trim, and the gun bits, and then did extra silver highlighting on the sword in the middle of the chapter badge. I used typical red recipes for the other bits, then moved on to freehanding. My goal is for every marine in the army to have individual heraldry, though, admittedly, many of them are pretty simple. I am sticking with a relatively limited palette on the heraldry, using only black, red, a creamy white, and bits of Calaban Green.
Here is the first marine I did up, as a test.

Brother Nehemiah is shown here in his standard issue MkIV power armour. Nehemiah was among the last Calabanite marines inducted into the legion before the outbreak of hostilities between the loyalists and heretics. At the start of the Heresy, Nehemiah had seen action as part of a standard tactical squad in the Hollow World Incident and the Atalantian Uprisings.

After finishing the test marine, I knew that, in order to keep my interest in the project rolling, I needed to finish a big squad. I have a failing common to painters which causes me to jump the gun, paint up all the fun stuff, and then lose steam on the rank and file. Finishing one big 20-man tactical squad would ensure that I kept with the program.

I assembled these marines with a mixture of armour marks, but in very similar poses. I imagine the squad unleashing bolter fire en masse as they approach the enemy.

After that big squad, it was time to reward myself with something more fun, so I decided to punt brush to my contemptor. Nothing screams Horus Heresy gaming quite like a contemptor dread, which must be why Forge World has released several dozen variant. I stuck to my scheme here and used a bit of brass etching to fancy him up, since there is no Dark Angels specific contemptor body yet. Brass etching is harder to work with than I had imagined going into the project, but I think that I have gotten better since this first attempt. This was also my first plasma weapon in the army, and I went with the typical bright blue, which I think pops really well against the limited colors of the rest of the force.

I wasn’t sure what rite of war I wanted to use, but it seems common practice to go with Pride of the Legion when starting out. It also seemed to make sense for my Dark Angels, being that they are the oldest of the legions. I kept to the same scheme on my veterans, but decided to use gold trim to pick them out, and vary their poses, making each a truly unique model. Here was my veteran test.

Veteran Brother Markus “The Hound” is shown here approaching an enemy entrenchment. A Terran veteran who marched with the Emperor Himself during the end of the Unification Wars, Markus still wears his MkII power armour.

I also couldn’t help but have some fun with one of my veterans, making a call out to one of the most famous pieces of 40K art from the early days.

Here Veteran Brother Thumiel prepares to unleash his bolter on a band of rebels on the Feudal World of Ur Dorma. Thumiel’s image is famous throughout the galaxy thanks to the work of Remembrancer Darius Rokk.
Image result for games workshop album covers 

Obviously Ian and I will have to throw on a D-Rok tune every time I roll dice for this model.

My plan is two squads of 10 veterans, but I’m not quite there yet. Here are the ones which are finished so far.

I intend to put each squad in a rhino, and have painted one of them.

And once I got a taste for tank painting, I decided to stick with it and roll out a Spartan.

Finally, I have some characters and the beginnings of a command squad done up. I love kitbashing and converting miniatures, so I was determined that each of my command figures would be a unique creation. First up, I decided to make a legion champion. I have read online that they are a decidedly subpar choice, but, as Ian has said in his entries, aesthetics trump all, and I simply couldn’t pass up this choice, which seems so very Dark Angels. 

Legion Champion Uriel is shown here, his power sword raised, ready to engage a particularly dangerous foe in hand-to-hand combat. Uriel was one of the Order’s finest duelists before the discover of Caliban and the Lion, and quickly proved his mettle in countless engagements.

For my praetor, I knew I wanted to go all out, so I spent a fair bit of time digging through my bits box and looking at Dark Angels bits online. In the end, I decided to chop up the newish plastic chaplain model and turn him into my commander. The armour on the model was already decidedly non-standard, so I wasn’t too worried about it fitting in with the Heresy aesthetic. The addition of a volkite weapon and an older mark backpack helped push the figure firmly into the 30K universe.

Here, Legion Commander Master Praxilus encourages his troops to rush headlong into enemy fire, leading from the front. A veteran of hundreds of battles, Praxilus was one of the first members of the Order to join the Dark Angels legion. A stern and relentless foe, he has a reputation for being an unpredictable general, alternately brazen and careful in his tactical and strategic decisions.

I also made up a couple of veterans to act as members of the command squad, and armed them with pistols to mark them out as distinct from the other veterans. Here are the two completed figures.

When I read painting logs, I am always looking for the whole army shot, and am often disappointed when it isn’t there. Here’s the force so far. 

Next up for me is finishing the veterans and command squad, doing another rhino, and then diving headlong into some tanks with a couple of predators and a super heavy.