XIII Legion – Boots on the ground

As promised I’ll be walking through my Horus Heresy Ultramarines I took to the Tarssis campaign last weekend. The heart of any force starts with the commander and the infantry, these were the first models I painted, my thinking being get the mountain of infantry out of the way first as it’s always the most overwhelming part of assembling any new army and the rest then becomes much more relaxed. Motivation works differently for different people, but what experience has taught me is an overwhelming number of models to paint in one go, especially the rank and file is what tends to burn me out first, resulting in a lot of part built and abandoned armies. Not ideal when preparing for an event. The other risk is by focusing on the models you like painting the most first you either end up rushing the main troops and bring the entire standard of the force down, or worse run out of time and end up with a part-painted army and lose all sense of satisfaction from fielding a fully painted army on the day. That generally results in it getting ‘boxed’ after the event rather than seeing future additions.

Luckily no such dramas for the Ultramarines as I polished off the Tactical blob first and foremost.

Ultramarines Legion Tactical

Ninety percent of the troops are from the Calth mark IV plastics but I like to include a couple of mixed armour marks to give impression of a long campaign, so there are also some Mark III and mark V ‘Heresy’ in there too, either in full or helmet swaps.

Ultramarine Legion Tactical

I get asked about the blue I used a lot and it’s not a particularly involved or convoluted formula. The base is the old Games Workshop Mordian Blue which I thin and apply with airbrush over a primer of black with zenithal grey mid-tone (top down). I then mix Vallejo Wolf Grey into the Mordian to create highlight colour and airbrush this where I want the highlights to appear. Normally top of the shoulder pads, helmets and the main facing of the legs and arms. To boost the contrast and smooth the transitions I then apply a glaze of thinned blue wash mixed with a spot of the base colour and Games Workshop Agrax Earthshade.

Next up were the Breacher squad which were an eclectic mix of Forgeworld boarding shield kits and the current Horus Heresy Breachers. I did this just before the much nicer Ultramarine Breacher kits were released so they are a hodge-podge but I’m cool with that as it fits the background. The Sergeant is I believe the limited edition Boarding Marine from a few years back.

Ultramarine Breachers

The formula is the same as for the Tactical blob, however for the shields I based them a gunmetal black over which I applied a blue glaze. This gave them a nice enamelled finish that worked well with the decals and gold trim. The gold is a mix of Scale 75 Decayed Gold with Games Workshop Retributor. Over this I apply pure Retributor for the mid-tones and a Sepia wash. The highlights are then a mix of Retributor with Scale 75 Elven Gold and finally pure Elven Gold.

Ultramarine Breachers

With the main Troops done it only left me with the Praetor and Cataphractii Terminators, again both from the Calth set. I would have loved to have done a more dynamic Praetor, possibly a named character but reasoned it being my first Horus Heresy army I should maximise use of the Calth parts and get the basics down first. If I like where things are going I can always ‘invest’ in some of the cooler Forgeworld kits later down the line (who am I kidding, bought them already!)

Ultramarines Cataphractii Terminators

Again with these I really kept it simple and focussed on the three primary colours in the palette; blue, white and gold. The only accent colour throughout other than the black/metallic of weapons is any leather which I deliberately kept quite muted avoiding bright red.

Ultramarines Praetor and Cataphractii

The final detail, particularly on the Cataphractii Terminators is the use of the decals on the massive shoulder armour. Although hard to see in the images I deliberately chose the gold decals from Forgeworld sheet for the white background. It seems counter-intuitive as the gold against white gives a very low contrast but what it does do is reward closer inspection adding another little layer of detail without making the miniature look too busy from a distance. I’m a big fan of rewarding those who look closer with extra levels of detail that you don’t really notice at arms length.

There is one more infantry sized miniature not shown here, that being the Praevian Consul. I’m going to save him for another day however as he comes with a few friends and an entirely different palette which I’ll cover separately. Next time around with be the big guns.

Have a great week.


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