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Alternative Commissar colour schemes?


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(if there's a better place for this topic, please do feel free to move it)

Simple question - not black-and-red Commissar colour scheme suggestions, please. Or is that just too heretical for words?

Has anyone tried anything that worked for them (or equally, that was a miserable failure)?

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Commissars suffer from a ridgedly in-lore defined scheme, and honestly I don't know that I've ever seen a Commissar painted anything but black and red. The one exception I can think of is Gaunt wears the camo-cloak over his get up.

Edited by Grotsmasha
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12 hours ago, Shadespyre said:

(if there's a better place for this topic, please do feel free to move it)

Simple question - not black-and-red Commissar colour scheme suggestions, please. Or is that just too heretical for words?

Has anyone tried anything that worked for them (or equally, that was a miserable failure)?

There's potential flexibility even within the limits of 'black trenchcoat and red details' through lighting and weathering. Black leather varies from glossy black through to various tones of grey; and if you're happy to just use 'dark leather' then you've got lots of potential for browns, greens or blues to add some interest. Likewise the presence of red can be minimal or really expanded; very vibrant or muted and brown-red.

While it's not on a Commissar, I've really enjoyed painting brown leather capes and jackets on various models, using lots of layers of stippling and glazes. Would very much encourage you to try something like that – a rugged all-weather overcoat is really the key element. Black, red and white can all appear underneath.

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I think you can do your commissars in any colour you want, your mini, your money, your time. And to argue that all commissars must be black and red is a lost cause. The guard has fought for 10k years on over millions battlefields, of course the "rules" has been broken some times. A Vallhallan commissar might adept to a more white uniform so he doesn't stand out on the filed like a beacon of light in a dark room, as pointed out above Gaunt uses camo-cloak, and Cain would probably feel more relaxed if he fought in the nude. . Sure, some other commissars might object, but if they want to be living targets, let them. I would keep the sash red, as it is some sort of symbol of their office, but otherwise give them any colour you want. 

And if some try-hard, does not want to play with your fully painted commissar, just because it is in the "wrong" colour, it is their loss, the game would probably not be that fun anyhow.

 

Just my two cents.

Cpt Danjou

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Yes, I agree with @Cpt.Danjou – there's lots of space for different schemes. Even within the restrictions of the lore, there are compelling arguments for non black/red schemes. Commissars are charged with gaining the respect of the forces they lead, by whatever means necessary. Given the scope of the Imperium, the idea that long coats or particular colours have meanings or associations in particular cultures or situations that are detrimental to that aim would work against that. I can easily see a Commissar changing or adopting a local equivalent. Even simpler than that, it may be that a particularly straitened Regiment simply doesn't have a replacement black coat, so the Commissar is forced to adapt. Such a visual symbol of bearing the same strains as his comrades is something that the Ordo Prefectus would likely teach.

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Since all commissars come from the schola progenium, and will have their uniforms provided by the departmento munitorum, they will always be the same colour. Its their job to stand out and not even their job its the rules that they have to stand out:yes: 

Trying on a brown coat could mistake you for an officer:yes:

But if you don't care about lore or things like that, just paint it however you want:smile:

Edited by Emperor Ming
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West Point have rules of how an officer should look and dress, during the Vietnam war smart officers listened to the veteran troops when they arrived there, and threw the rule book out the door, some of the less smart officers had "accidents" happening to them. Following the rules are alright on paper, but on the battlefield you will have to adapt. These "accidents" happens to commissars, as pointed out in several books, and guess what also happened to real commissars in Stalingrad too. 

For example: The Tallarn Desert troopers are moving along the dunes of planet x, their foe are Alaitoc eldar, with numerous snipers, The Alaitoc uses cloaking and stay hidden, but slowly picking out the best targets they can see, and also are in some importance. After a couple of dozen of Commissars have been sniped, there is an order from the highest ranking commissar, that Commissars are for a short time during the fighting on this planet able to use tanned coats, and hats, but still wear their red sash of office. 

If Space marines can't keep track of their rules, dogma and doctrines in the Codex Astartes after 10k years, how can the Imperial guard manage to have one set of rules? I am pretty sure there are more schola progenium than there are Space Marine chapters, and there are bound to be different rules from different Schola. 10k year is a long time, we have lost so much history in less time, it is only about 2300 years since Alexander the great.  With the great distances, and insane bureaucracy that is the Imperium, the less than reliable telepathic communication, warp travel that is not 100% safe. Insane demagogues, psykers, governors, and other powerful individuals can change the doctrines and rules too.

Another example. The Schola Progenium Z is located on a moon, they order 1000 commissar uniforms in black and red using the Astra Telepathica, the Astropath receiving the communication has a really bad day, due to family problems and hang over, he writes down what he sees in his vision, and the order is dispatched to the tailors. When the 10 000 thigh high coats arrive they are straight up leather brown.  The next delivery to the moon will be in 20 years. What shall the Schola do? Let the commissars wait or just use the shorter brown coats? Of course they use the wrongly coloured coats. The student commissars are proud coming from Schola Z and proudly wear their colours, even if they are mocked by other commissars. From that day on the Commissars from Schola Z are using shorter brown leather coats.

The three most famous Commissars in the lore are all breaking the rules in one way or the other. Yarrick is using Xeno-tech, Gaunts uniform has an camo cloak incorporated, and Cain is a lazy, womanizing, gambling scoundrel that uses all the tools he has at hand, not caring if it is xeno, mechanicum or just plain heretical, and this is if he can't run away, All this with the inquisition knowing about it.

So rules are forgotten, broken, and altered. Time, distance and resources at hand might change things. All commissars are not fanatical zealots, the older and smarter ones probably get a more pragmatic view, especially if your are a commissar with the Catachans. But on the other hand Mordian, Scions, Vostroyan and Cadian troopers might not give you the proper respect if you are breaking rules. But the penal legioners really don't care about your colours, you are the guy with the instant kill button and bolt pistol. 

Then we have the PDF, who might have their variant of commissars, cheap knock offs compared to the Guard. Instead of red sashes they have blue, and the coat is purple and white. 

I always have said that the 40k lore is not set in stone, it is myths, stories, half truths and straight up lies, and the Imperium is so vast that we can't understand it, the time from the Horus heresy to the set time of 40k, is about three times longer than we have written proof in the history in the real world. If professors in history can't keep the facts right about something happening 150 years ago in their own country, how can rules not be broken and forgotten, when it spanns thousands of light years over 10 000 years?

 

Cpt. Danjou

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Lots of useful input from everyone - thanks very much, My googling around does support the idea that the Commissar uniform is so ingrained in the lore that *no-one* ever paints a non-black version. However, you have also made some excellent points about how long-range logistics, the passage of time and most crucially the pragmatism of the fighting man "on the ground" divert from the rule book - even for Space Marines. And by and large, no-one *really* cares as long as the battles are won.

I wasn't sure if Commissar training encouraged them to bond with their charges or demanded that they stay completely aloof. 

On the subject of pragmatism, the question arises from a small RT era project, at a time in the canon when Beastmen and Space Dwarfs joined Imperial Regiments, and egg-headed mutant psykers were just around the corner.  I think this gives me some leeway to experiment a bit. Perhaps elements of trad Commissar garb mixed with local influences. I'll have a think.

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I have seen one painted in white uniform, with... I think it was purple or pink details. And the official paintjob for Ibram Gaunt have him in a camo cloak painted in green-colours instead of in a classic black great coat.

On 8/12/2022 at 12:02 PM, Emperor Ming said:

Since all commissars come from the schola progenium, and will have their uniforms provided by the departmento munitorum, they will always be the same colour. Its their job to stand out and not even their job its the rules that they have to stand out:yes: 

But at the same time schola progenium is spread out over the galaxy and there are mentions in the lore about different schools having different attitudes to things.

Also regarding departmento munitorum, Commissars are as suffering as everybody else of their incompetence - "Sorry sir, the only Commissar class clothing we have right now is bright pink where it should be black, we don't know if it was supposed to be shipped somewhere else or there was a mistake during the colouring process."

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iirc junior commissars wear a blue sash, but as a whole commissars are sticklers for their uniform, largely so [the threat of] their presence can be made clear to their charges. 

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On 8/12/2022 at 4:33 PM, Cpt.Danjou said:

Then we have the PDF, who might have their variant of commissars, cheap knock offs compared to the Guard. Instead of red sashes they have blue, and the coat is purple and white.

PDF Commissars are the same as everyone elses. In practice they might be low scoring graduates but having a lower grade of commissar would be against the point.

40k has never been a 'restrict your colour choices' setting though. Even the rule that stops you using White Scars as Blood Angels is so you're not confusing your opponent. As long as the Commissar stands out he's fine.

I saw a nonstandard painting Yarrick in a White Dwarf issue years ago.

Most of the Commissars who come up on google search are red and black but fan art, cosplay and third party models are doing that to make sure they fit in. If you take those out and just look at guys posting their own official Citadel models there are a lot more nonstandard schemes.

On 8/12/2022 at 4:33 PM, Cpt.Danjou said:

These "accidents" happens to commissars, as pointed out in several books, and guess what also happened to real commissars in Stalingrad too.

https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=soviet+commissar+uniform

Soviet Commissar uniforms don't really stand out. 40k Commissar uniforms are a mix of French Hussar and cliche movie SS Officers. Warhammer is based off German propaganda not actual military history, which is fine in a grim dark SF setting unlike when actual historical toy soldiers repeat that same Nazi nonsense on their packaging. The innacurate pop culture SS look makes sense since most of the stories about Soviet Commissars that inspired the 40k unit was Nazi projection anyway.

Edited by Closet Skeleton
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I think a Commissar can be 'customized' to get 'in harmony' with the battlefield, like in the situations Cpt.Danjou described. But i think some distinctive features must be prserved, e.g. cap and/or sash. Comissar's job in the end is to instill courage in warriors and not to hide in camo covers or blend in a crowd. On the other hand, if a regiment is not newly formed soldiers can get familiar enough with their Commissar to recognize him with other features than the special uniform. And also a Commissar might wish to form/show a 'closer bond' to the men by wearing the same uniform. 
As was said it's not a big deal if you have a reasonable idea bihind a customization.

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From what I know of Lore the Symbol of a Commissar's office is his Red Sash.  That is it.  So the way I see it as long as it has a red sash it shouldn't matter what other colors his uniform is.

 

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After some false starts (in white they look like milkmen, in blue like policemen or hotel doormen!) I ended up with a mid grey. Traditional hats and red piping confirm their role, I hope. The blue is taken from the PDF troops who they serve with (and which you can see over in my extended Space Marine thread)

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Well Im in the camp of 'lore says'... So I say black coat all the way. BUT the image of the leaked FemCreed, Sentinels etc have a Commissar (well it looks like a Commissar) in a cloak, so that looks like GW may be moving away from the black coat look. So up to you really, you paid for them so you do what you want with them. Dont worry about other people, if our armies ever met I would ask you why you broke from the usual scheme out of interest, then proceed to kick your but on the gamestable (or die trying) and much joy shall be had as our man dollies die in gory ways as the gods intended. 

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