Friday, October 7, 2011

Guest Spot: Brian's Beautiful Blood Angels (Part 1)

Today will start a short series of guest posts from my buddy Brian in Boston. Some of you who I know personally will remember me telling you about my mate in Boston's fantastic Blood Angels army. Well here it is! Without further ado... Here is Brian:

After building and painting my Crimson Fists since I was a teenager I noticed that my skill in these areas had increased greatly over time. Looking across my army I could see nearly 20 years worth of the evolution of these skills. With a desire to build and paint an army that was more consistent with my current level of capabilities (and also because I was just itching to paint something red!), I started up this Blood Angels army back in 2004.

I’ve been having a blast building and painting this army and have sacrificed great amounts of sleep over the years to this end. I’ve found the Blood Angels heraldry and color-scheme to be engaging enough to hold my interest and I also love the history of the chapter. I’ve particularly enjoyed working various models and bitz from my collection into the army.

A quick note on the photography: My background in photography is firmly rooted in landscapes. I’m still sorting out the particulars of studio photography using my new camera and lightbox. Any outstanding issues concerning lighting and depth of field will hopefully improve over time.

I hope that you enjoy checking out the pics below.

Mephiston was the first of the Blood Angels special characters that I painted and added to my army pool. I’ve always loved the look of the model, even though its pose isn’t overly dynamic and typical of the sculpt quality of the game’s earlier editions. I was actually somewhat surprised that when the latest edition of the Codex: Blood Angels was released that Mephiston’s model wasn’t updated.

Mephiston joined my army list during one of Danger Planet’s 2008 WH40K leagues. At the time the Blood Angels were running out of the White Dwarf Codex: Blood Angels. I had decided for some reason to change out Narran because this league allowed special characters when the previous one had not. Of course, running a Death Company without a chaplain was a mistake I didn’t realize I’d made until playing my first game…

I entered Mephiston into the 2009 Baltimore Golden Demon and was excited that he was selected to stand among the finalists. I can’t help but wonder if we would have earned a trophy if I had been more inspired by the model’s cape, which I find to be the model’s most underwhelming feature.

Narran was the first model that I began work on for this army pool. I remember being excited about the Death Company rules from the White Dwarf Codex: Blood Angels and knew that I wouldn’t field a squad of them without having them be led by a chaplain. Narran gets his name from one of the original Blood Angels chaplain character cards in the first Space Marine deck from Sabertooth’s now defunct WH40K CCG game.

I knew that my Death Company would be equipped with jump packs so I modeled Narran with one so that he could accompany them. Because the chaplain model I selected wasn’t a “Jump Pack Chaplain” I ended up having to sculpt the jump pack straps out of green stuff. The jump pack itself is Dante’s jump pack. I purchased a bulk quantity of them during the GW Battle Wagon’s last visit to Danger Planet. The blood drop on the back side of his power fist is also sculpted from green stuff.

The power fist was added solely to flex the depth of my bitz collection. To my recollection, there were no plastic right-handed power fist bitz available at the time. All of the ones presented on various sprues were left-handed. I still have several unclipped sprues of my original Rogue Trader marines in my collection and was happy to see those older models represented in my 2007 Danger Planet Fall WH40K League army general in the form of his right arm.

Arel is a Furioso Dreadnought and is also the first non-infantry model that I painted for this army pool. Arel’s name was taken from an online dictionary of angel names. According to this source, Arel is an angel of the Sun and of elemental Fire and his name is inscribed upon the seventh pentacle of the sun. In short, Arel’s gunna burn ya, or melt ya, and if that doesn’t ruin your day he’ll pummel ya into mush…

I am happy that this model is one of the original metal Furioso kits. The newer plastic dreads look great and are absolutely easier to build but they lack the “heft” of a block of metal. In my opinion, a dreadnought should feel heavy as well as look the part.

Arel also has the distinction among the models in my army pool of being the only one that features a decal: his back banner. I thought about creating one of my own design but for nostalgia’s sake decided to use the one provided with the kit. I don’t think that the more modern dreads include these banners anymore.

Arel also sports a couple of Forgeworld Blood Angels icons: the winged chalice to the right and the chapter emblem to the left of his sarcophagus.

Assault Squad Harbiel is the first squad of what I think of as the “second generation” of my Blood Angels army. This squad is the first unit to be assembled and painted following the release of the latest Codex: Blood Angels and all of the fantastic new associated plastic kits and bitz. New bitz and Blood Angels iconography are prevalent throughout this squad. One thing that drove me crazy though during the assembly of this squad was learning that the new Death Company jump pack component halves aren’t compatible with those that come with the Assault Squad kit without conversion. I combined them to add further variation as well as to tone down the iconography where desired.

In addition to benefiting from the latest plastic bitz, this squad also benefited from an article in White Dwarf 365 where Anja Wettergren provided an excellent step-by-step tutorial on how she painted the Terminators of the new Space Hulk box. As a result of this tutorial the shading scheme for Squad Harbiel picked up several shades over all of my preceding squads making the overall effect much more subtle.

Assault Squad Harbiel was originally envisioned as a Veteran Assault Squad Elite unit from the White Dwarf: Codex Blood Angels. The white skulls on their right shoulder pads speak to this original idea. I’m a huge fan of flame template weapons in 40K (anyone who’s ever played me has likely experienced my glee as I make “WHOOSH” followed by scream noises while waving the template over their models) and the idea that I could have two of them flying around in one squad side-by-side was irresistible.

Blood Angel scouts with sniper guns? Who does this? Well, I do. The influence for this squad in my army comes from two notable sources. First and foremost, I really liked the look of these models and was determined to find a place for them in my army pool. Secondly, the unit’s namesake (“Scout Squad Remus”) was one of the Blood Angel chapter cards in the original Space Marine deck of the Warhammer 40K CCG by Sabertooth Games (Siege of Malogrim).

Originally envisioned as being a ten-man squad (I like full-sized units) these 6 are to date the only completed models. Two more are mostly completed and the remaining two are still primed. This squad is presently fielded as a five-man unit, not including the heavy bolter.

I decided that my Blood Angels army would be given an urban theme with its basing scheme. To coincide I painted the scouts’ camo cloaks with an urban digital camouflage pattern that I found online. I was so happy with the look of this when completed that I took the palette for this camo scheme to Home Depot and had it matched into larger quantities so that I could base all of the store’s urban tables and terrain to match!

Stay tuned for more pictures and commentary by Brian in the coming days.

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