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The (re) Building of a Black Legion Warband


This Thread ~ In the future, this thread might get folded into my blog here at B&C. I want to document these projects, but at the moment the blog is concentrating more on the actual tools and techniques I use in building my army. This thread will show some W.I.P. of the things I build, using the methods shown in my blog. I won't show as much technique here, just results.


I want the army itself to be a balance between some fluff and being effective on the table. (As effective as the current Chaos Codex can be) To that end, I won't be 'min/maxing' all of the squads, and a few points will be 'wasted' on some things. Once the Black Legion core has enough raw bulk, I'll be adding forces devoted to each of the Dark Gods. Each of the five blocks will have one or more center-piece model/s that I want to make really over-the-top. Some of those projects are already in progress, but those are future entries.


Edit: I wanted to mention something here at the beginning, since I know it can be hard to find information in a long thread and this has come up a few times. Taken from later in this thread: All my ideas, plans, and musings are put out there to teach and inspire. Anyone, please feel free to take what you see and run with it. Once I get some more articles done I will even share some of my work and designs, and might even consider commissions someday. Word of mouth is a good thing, and if you want to show appreciation, just give your inspiration a little credit. That's all I'll ask. Any designs shown in this thread are CAD software files that have been exported to JPG files, and re-sized, so I doubt they will print to the right scale without a lot of trial-and-error. You are still welcome to try, but I will consider how I would like to share accurate files and designed in the future.


My Inspiration & Theme ~ In honour of the 1st-of-the-9th Air Cavalry from 'Apocalypse Now' (Charlie... don't... surf!) the working title for my force is;


Long: 1st-of-the-9th Black Crusade, Heavy Armoured Cavalry - The Black Hand of Horus - War Guard of Tithonus the Unending


Short: 1st-of-the-9th, Heavy Armoured Cavalry


To emulate the terror tactics from Apocalypse Now, most vehicles will have a place to mount a Dirge Caster. (Ride of the Valkyries, anyone?) Most vehicles will also have the ability to mount a Havoc Launcher plus a third mount point in many cases for even more options. I use Rare Earth magnets, so Casters will be more for show, and swapped out on the table. As another tip of the hat to Apocalypse Now, at some point I want to build some Air Cavalry. But, the grunts get the work done, so they come first.


Known for employing 'Scorched Earth' tactics, the 1st-of-the-9th will be based with an Ashen Waste scheme punctuated with jagged rocks - very simple but effective. In an effort to keep the army looking 'cold' and ruthless looking, I am avoiding 'warm' colours in general, and trying to stick to lots of blues, purples, greens, and greys for accents. This will even go so far as to change the Eye of Horus icons from yellow to blue. I'm still deciding if helmets will have 'classic evil' red eyes, or follow the theme with blue or green. I prefer red for Chaos eyes, but it breaks my own theme. However, being some of the only red in the army would make them stand out. Hummm... decisions decisions.


I'm going to lean heavily on a few things I feel are accurate within the current Warhammer 40,000 fiction, but I'm not too worried about being overly strict. First, the 13th Black Crusade is currently at its height. The Cadian Gate has not been broken, but the forces of Chaos have struck hard are dug in deeper than ever before. The balance can still tip in either direction and both sides are not pulling punches, committing everything to the effort. Second, the forces of Chaos do have Forge Worlds. Time travels in strange ways in the warp, and I can only imagine the effort those Forge Worlds would have put forth for the 13th Crusade. That combined with many decades of raids and preparation, has the Legion as well equipped as they can be. Spoils of war have been turned on their loyalist foes, and many dark engines of war have yet to reach the battlefield. I hope to build a few of those Chaos War Machines.


Since I can get a little... distracted... with all of my different projects and ideas, I need to make things a bit more focused. I'm going to break my current army into blocks and concentrate on finishing each block. That's how this thread will be structured. I'll introduce a block, and document its progress.



First block up, a simple 10 Marine Attack (Tactical) squad, their Rhino transport, and Predator support.



These marines are at the highlighting step - They have an Aspiring Champion and Heavy Weapon on the way, but this is just the basic squad


I'm going to change the Plasma 'cell' to a blue colour, to better match the theme. I've decided to be more strict with the cold-colour theme, so it will mean changing some details on several in-progress miniatures. But I'm willing to lay in the bed I've made. I really enjoy swapping horns and changing their position to add variety to my rank-and-file troops. Combined with other small conversions (Bayonets and top-knot swaps, for example) and kit bashing, so far no two marines are exactly the same. I don't want to spend too much time to go really over-the-top on troops, but a few simple changes goes a long way.




Before ~ The plans of the first of three (to start) Rhinos designed by me


I was never happy with GWs, 'Just Add Spikes' solution for many Chaos vehicles. I want my chaos vehicles to have the same look and feel as the Power Armour that the marines wear. So, with some inspiration from the internet and some trial-and-error I designed my own Chaos 'banding' for my vehicles. Once I had the base angles and measurements, it's been easy to change the initial design completely, and create unique vehicles that still feel cohesive.


I'm also not completely happy with the stock Havoc Launcher, and I plan to scratch-build something else in future, but for now they'll do. I've left them loose so I can switch them out later.



After ~ Freshly primed and waiting for some paint - See some 'before primer' pictures in my Gallery if you like





Magnets make even the humble Rhino completely customizable



Next up is my first of several Extra Armour Predators, and my inspiration for the weathered effect I've started to use...




I started this Predator several years ago, but it needed to be set aside for awhile - Tomorrow it finally starts seeing paint!




Happy accident - I think the damage on the corner looks good considering...


Funny story; my toddler son innocently pulled at a piece of paper on my desk, and it happened to have a corner under this (freshly primed) Predator which was sitting a bit precariously. Naturally, it managed to fall, landing on its corner on a hard floor, leaving a big dent. Frustrated, I just let it sit and worked on some other things. I didn't want to completely fix the corner with filing and greenstuff, but what choice did I have?


Then it sunk in. I'll be adding weathering and wear to the vehicles while painting, why not add some mild physical damage to the model? The plastic is soft enough to use a simple metal tool as a 'dent-and-scratch maker', and so that's what I did. I know I'm not the first to do this, but I had not planned on doing anything like this and was inspired to take a little more time to give something different a try, all by an annoying accident. (The Dark Gods have their ways...) The damage was smoothed down some and now blends in nicely. On the metallic banding, I think the effect will add to the desired feel. Once washes start going on, the effect should really pop.


Well, that's it for now. I'll post some progress shots sometime soon. Keep an eye on my blog if you're curious how I actually plan and create these things. Over the coming weeks and months I'll be talking about all sorts of things, with a lot of pictures along the way.


*The Basement Troll turns his gaze to his work bench...*

Edited by Subtle Discord
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Well, THAT's what csm vehicles MUST look like! Great job! :devil: Shall I copy your plan for Rhino? Please :devil:

Speaking about infantry. Black looks especially good. Can we get some pics of one guy?


Also, how large (I mean point cost) your army will be? Or how many 'blocks' there will be? What shall we expect next?



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To comment and answer various things...

First, thanks for all of the positive comments. It's a really great energy boost and motivates me. Doing this thread and my blog is half give and half take. I want to share my ideas and give inspiration, but I also want it to motivate me to stay on task as well, since people will want to see progress.

I work with plastic ranging in thickness from 2mm down to 0.13mm. My technique for rivets can go down to 0.25mm diameter, maybe smaller, but I haven't needed to try. The banding on the Rhino is two layers of 0.4mm sheet, with 0.75mm rivets. To give the Predator 'Extra Armour' I first 'skinned' the turret in 0.5mm plastic (Figuring out the angles for the turret was hell, but it's done now and I will share the plans soon enough) and the hull is skinned in 1.0mm plastic. The 'armour plates' where then trimmed with the same 0.4mm sheet and 0.75mm rivets. I play only Chaos, but naturally my methods can translate to other armies. Loyalist Marine armies will have it easier, in fact. As you can imagine, arrows, points and rivets slow the process considerably. Loyalists can avoid those, and it will fit nicely with a 'clean' army. I have a Land Raider that will get the same treatment. Hopefully directly after I finish the base core of the army. If I start it now, it'll just be another thing on the go.

The main Black Legion undivided block is sitting at 2000-to-3000 points, but will swell quickly with all of the in-progress projects that are sitting on the sidelines. The starting core will look something like this;

HQ: I have a choice between A Daemon Prince, Lord, and Sorcerer. For now I'm using an Undivided Sorcerer with Wings.

Troops: 3x 10 Chaos Marines squads + Rhino Transports (all with Havoc Launchers), and 1x 10+ Chaos Marine squad on foot to provide some support, and be a rear guard in a pinch.

Elite: Chaos Dreadnaught - It's a bit of a gamble, but I have a wonderful Forgeworld model, and it's one of the only ways I can get a Multi-Melta on the table.

Heavy Support: 3x Oblierators - Like I have a choice but to take some, they're just too good. 2x Extra Armour Predators with ACs and HBs.

I think it's got a good mix of feeling plausible (Full transports, opposed to 5 man melta bunkers, for example) and still bringing a lot of hurt to the table. 1 Winged Sorcerer, 40+ Marines, 5 pieces of armour, 3 Obliterators, and a Dreadnaught in a pear treeeeee! This will all be broken in to 3-or-4 blocks for building/painting as I progress in this thread. Then it'll be on to other projects including; My Lord's Terminator guard (heavily converted) and their Land Raider, Khorne 'Zerkers on Bikes and in Khorne-Rhinos, Nurgle possessed vehicles and troops, some crazy Defilers (one for each god), and a Defiler-class titan. Yes, I want to scratch build a defiler as big as a titan... someday. I'm still pondering on what to do for Tzeench and Slaanesh.

All my ideas, plans, and musings are put out there to teach and inspire. Anyone, please feel free to take when you see and run with it. Once I get some more articles done I will even share some of my work and designs, and might even consider commissions someday. Word of mouth is a good thing, and if you want to show appreciation, just give your inspiration a little credit. That's all I'll ask. The plan shown in this thread is an export to a JPG file from a CAD file. It's been re-sized as well, so it might be tricky to use as-is. I'll consider how I want to share plans in the future.

Since I'm currently painting most of the rank-and-file troops, and people seem to like my black, I'll do some step-by-step stuff as soon as I can. My method is actually straight forward, and relies on simple layers, washes, and careful cleanup. Black is very forgiving since it covers so well, a good brush and reasonably steady hand is all you need.

Ok, as I'm sure people are starting to see, I have no problem blathering on-and-on. I like to think it's useful blathering, though. I'll do my best to provide pictures, process, and explanations as much as possible. Please just respect that it takes time and effort to do quality work, so there will be lag sometimes. I will take all questions and requests into consideration when I consider the subject for each article, but I can only do one-at-a-time.

Edited by Subtle Discord
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Everything is hand cut, with a No. 11 razor blade and a stainless steel ruler. When cutting, I don't use a ruler with any kind of non-slip backing. You need to take more care or it can slip, but the ruler is right on the plastic so getting exact lines is easier.

I would virtually kill for a CNC cutter, but they're too costly, and building one seems to be a major endeavor. If I had one my method would much less labour intensive and I could really push what I do to new levels.

The two major tricks to get such clean results are; accurately transferring the plan to the plastic card (I use a fine homemade 'pick' to prick each corner through the paper plan) and how you clean up the plastic after it's cut. The blade you use to cut has width, so it deforms the edges a bit and you need to smooth that out. All will be explained with step-by-step pictures in future articles.

Rivets are actually drilled in to a layer of plastic, and placed one-by-one. since they are part of the CAD plan, they can be amazingly exact. Starting with an accurate plan, and getting it accurately transferred to the plastic is key.

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Sooner than expected, I'll talk a little about how I paint.


The golden rule if you want smooth paint layers: If the edges of the wet paint have started to dry, LEAVE IT ALONE and let it dry! Trying to work paint with dry edges will lead to lumps and ridges in the paint most times. To that end, several thin layers, aloud to dry (even if the are splotchy and uneven) is key many times.


That said, I have a very simple general method, and it holds true for almost any paint scheme;


Paint the 'hard' first - don't worry about being sloppy. Clean up with the 'easy' - take your time and do it right. Finish the model - this might come down to doing the first two steps again. (Note: Sometimes I break this order when certain details make it easier to do so. I'll explain what I mean later.)


Ok, so what does that mean?


Hard = Any colour that will require several layers to get a solid colour. Any colour that you plan to add a lot of depth to with many washes. Any bright colour against a dark bakground. Small details that are easier to 'shape' by cleaning up the edges instead of trying to paint 'from the inside' - Eyes are a good example, and one of those things you might 'break the order' for.


Easy = Any colour that covers easily. Any dark colour over, or beside, a light colour. Any colour that will have minimal/simple shading and/or washing done. All of the areas that will have most of the 'edge highlighting'.


Making a paint job easier is as simple as picking the best order to do things. Find something a risk to making a mess? Do it first and make the mess. You then use the 'easy' to clean up all of the mess you made doing the 'hard'. Let me give an example; How do I paint my Black? I paint everything else first. Black covers like crazy, and other colours do the same. (Dark Green, most Blues, even Red isn't too bad. Add 'high pigment' paint for stubborn colours and you can choose what to do first in many cases.) After cleaning up with Black, I highlight it, and use the Black again to clean up the highlights. My Black could be substituted for many colours.


Like I mentioned about eyes, sometimes the manner of the detail can change this order a bit, and that usually depends on which side will work with the brush easier. This is hard to explain, but I'll try to a little later.



On to how I paint my Black Legion, and an idea of what the tanks will look like in the next update;




Fresh primer - Even though it's a nice clean black, the next 'step 1' is key.


In my opinion, let your primer dry for at least two days if you want it to really hold. Primer painted on a few hours after spraying always rubs off much easier. You can actually smell when primer is really dry. Learn that smell, and wait for it before you start painting. It's sounds weird, but it's true.


Also, don't touch the damn miniature at all while the primer is drying! Do you like corners and tips to hold their paint and not rub off? Let the primer dry before you start groping the model!


Finally, wash your hands before you start painting, and avoid touching your face and hair after you do. Oils and sweat on a miniature stop paints from sticking as well as they can. Keep a clean towel to wipe your hands on now-and-then if you want to take it to the next level.




Step 1 - Give the miniature a thin all-over layer of a base colour. Even if it's Black on Black.


This will unify the miniature, fill any really fine gaps/flaws, and give all future layers a consistent base to stick to. Thinning your paints are key in general (A wet pallet helps enormously) but this layer can be extra thin. Just be sure to get solid pure colour where it will actually be on the miniature, and a thin later on anything that will get more work.


Note the wet paint in some of the corners. They are a perfect example of 'half dry' paint you want to leave alone until totally dry. Next up, layering the gold...








Step 2 - Gold is one of those annoying colours that needs several thin layers to build it up.


Oh jeez... What have I done?! What a mess! Gold is a pain even if you give it a special base colour, so I do it first and sloppy, as per my method. I find gold needs 3+ layers to be acceptable. In layer 2 and 3, concentrate on the thin areas and edges/corners. Each layer can be splotchy if you remember the 'golden rule' and let the layer dry. Have faith, if the layer is thinned down it will shrink and blend with the base once dry.


Silver is easy, and covers well, but the wash I'm going to put on it is going to be a sloppy mess, so I'll add this to the messy first steps.


Note: Washes will darken a colour considerably. Plan for this and use a 'bright' base colour. Sometimes much brighter then you might think is needed.


Ok, now the base is done, lets bring it to life with the wash...





1) My original Gold Glaze, for reference.

2) Gryphonne Sepia without anything, for referance.

3) Gryphonne Sepia + about 5 drops of brown ink.

4) Gryphonne Sepia + another 5 drops of brown ink.

5) Gryphonne Sepia + 3 drops of black ink on top of it all - That's what I'm looking for.


When I checked my Gold wash, it turned out it was very low, and filled with bits of dried wash. Time to mix a new batch, and the process is above. I've been mixing my own washes since well before GW was selling them. In fact, wash isn't really a correct term. They are actually 'glazes' in my opinion, but I use the term 'wash' since that's what people recognize. But I digress.


I use GW washes as a base now, since it helps take some guess work out of mixing custom washes. For Gold I used a darkened Gryphonne Sepia, for Silver I prefer a darkened Badab Black. My results can be made much more subtle by not altering the original colour. Now lets use the wash...








Step 3 - Three simple steps build up the gold's depth.


Start with a simple 'dark brown' wash. Go quick and get a smooth even coat. Once it's on, go back and add a little extra to places where it makes sense - Rivets, corners, etc.. Again, if it's starting to dry, leave it alone! you can layer washes over-and-over to build up if you need to. The middle photo is just that, going back and adding more 'dark brown' wash to select areas. I use a second clean damp brush to smooth out edges for a clean blend.


Finally, in the bottom picture I use a bit of normal Badab Black wash in all of the corners. Again, I use a second clean damp brush to blend it into the rest.


I've also added 2 layers of 'dark black' wash to the silver in the middle and bottom photos. As before, the first is just a quick layer, the second is to deepn the effect. They are small bits, so the effect is not really noticeable here. Now we need to clean up...




Step 4 - One of these sides is not like the other - The bottom has been cleaned up with the 'easy' Black colour.


You have a choice here; Clean up and worry about highlight later, or do the highlighting now. Gold done this way doesn't even really need highlighting, if you want a dark-and-dirty look. At this point I usually do a clean up, as it really starts to make the miniature stat to come together, and inspires me to keep going.


Well, that's it for now. More progress shots of this being applied to this block of miniatures to follow over the coming days...

Edited by Subtle Discord
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Sneak peek - The Havoc Launcher

This is just base colours, washes, and clean-up. Highlights are coming, but I think I'm going to switch from a black-grey to a blue-grey for the black highlights, and I'll need to mix new paints. Plenty of metal trim to keep me occupied while I consider.

Still not sure if I'm happy with the search light. Blending 'chalky' colours in tight spots like that is a pain for me. I like to think the ragged blue lining gives it some glassy depth, but I might be fooling myself. I'll see what happens after trying some highlighting.

Edited by Subtle Discord
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I think the blue-grey highlights will look wonderful and really compliment your motif well. I think your searchlight looks fine, although I'm not the best judge of OSL.

Your gold recipe is very rich and will look almost perfect no doubt with that final highlight.


Very impressive and inspiring stuff. I for one and taking notes. :)

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Amazing work mate! You are almost inspiring me to do black legion again!

Two questions:

With your awesome idea for adding chaosy-ness to vehicles, what material are you using for them, and how did you get them cut?

I hope you wouldnt mind if i used such a great idea to add to my vehicles in the future...

Keep up the great work, and nice font!!

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