This will be the final entry on my Ultramarines Successors, at least for the time being. Today's post will go over the conversion of Lieutenant Amulius (the modelling process, not the religious experience), then the painting, then a brief bit of lore on him, and finally some thoughts and photos on the army as a whole.
Converting Lieutenant Amulius into Lieutenant Antigonus Nerva
TBF this barely counts as converting, but I'm pulling this on the technicality of there being a tiny amount of sculpting involved. Beyond the headswap (the head's from the Assault Intercessors kit) I also swapped out the medieval-style power sword for a sword from the Deathwatch sprue, since it looks way more Greco-Roman. This meant snipping the original blade off, then pinning the new one in place. The wire was only just narrower than the sword's grip, which added a little spice to the endeavour.
Once the new blade was firmly in place, I sculpted a new stretch of grip, and boom, you'd never know it was a conversion. Hopefully.
Painting (specifically, the skin & hair)
I've gone over the recipe used to paint the blue armour here, and covered how I do the rest of it here, so I won't repeat myself. Instead, I'll focus on the methods and paints used to do the hair and skin. The head was primed with Citadel Wraithbone spray, then basecoated with #twothincoats of Citadel Rakarth Flesh.
Old, pale skin
- Following the Rakarth Flesh basecoat, the skin got a wash of Citadel Reikland Fleshshade.
- Next, a layer of thinned Citadel Kislev Flesh, leaving out the deepest recesses.
- Next, a highlight of Citadel Pallid Wych Flesh on the highest points.
- The eyes were painted Army Painter Matte Black, then got Army Painter Matte White dots at the corners.
- The eye sockets (but not the eyes themselves) got a glaze of Army Painter Deep Blue.
- The lower lip got a thin layer of Citadel Bugman's Glow.
- The lower lip, nose tip and ears all got an extra thin glaze of ye tragically OOP Citadel Red Gore, but any similarly dark, rich red would do.
So the thing about white hair is that it really is very, very white. However, if you put pure, brilliant, neutral white on a model, it can look a little too harsh. Besides, if it's short hair, you'd expect some of the skin to show through the hair. To emulate that, the hair starts with the same colour as the skin: Rakarth Flesh. After that, it's dots and lines in Pallid Wych Flesh, slowly layering up over the scalp and beard. After that, some dots of Corax White just to get some grey in there, and finally, Army Painter Matte White on the bits you want to emphasise - in this case, his chin, moustache, and his tiny tiny quiff.
Who is Antigonus Nerva?
I'll answer that in prose form, thanks.
+ + +
Antigonus Nerva walked into the sparring room and found Captain Lucullus waiting for him, wooden practice sword in hand.
"Brother Captain," Antigonus said, making the sign of the Aquila.
"Brother Nerva," Lucullus replied, saluting with his sword. "Thank you for coming."
Antigonus took a sword from the rack and returned Lucullus' salute. "No-one said why you wished to see me, sir. May I ask what the honoured captain of the Third wants with a battle brother of the reserve companies?"
Lucullus probably looked old to the others in the chapter: a little grey at the temples, a few lines on his dark olive skin. He looked infuriatingly young to Antigonus. Short, too. This was, admittedly, true of almost everyone he met.
"I enjoyed your oration in this morning’s rites," Lucullus said, starting to circle and bringing his sword up. Antigonus brought his point up to a high guard. He wasn't much of a swordsman, but high guard would make the most of his reach advantage. Not that he expected it to help; Lucullus was reputed to be among the best swordsmen in the chapter.
Being randomly selected as the marine to give the oration during the day’s first meal had been nerve wracking for old Antigonus. On reflection he should have cheated and had something prepared like so many others did. Instead he’d stood up and, without time to choose his words carefully, had been altogether too honest.
"Of course Sebastian Thor was a less than obscure subject," Lucullus added, ending the sentence by slapping Antigonus’ blade aside and attempting a lunge. Antigonus sprung back, evading the blow. Lucullus resumed circling. "Using him as a springboard to confess your hatred for the Mechanicus was a… less than obvious connection."
"I apol-" Antigonus began.
"I said I enjoyed the oration. The Rite of Remembrance isn’t just about reeling off some old saint’s deeds. It’s about reminding us all of the point. You say the Mechanicus treated you as a lab specimen."
"As if I couldn’t hear them when they were in the room discussing me," Antigonus said, his upper lip curling involuntarily. He had been among the first successful cohort of Primaris Marines, and along with seventy-one others, had been used as a batch to test longevity in the new breed. He didn’t know precisely how old he was, but it felt like centuries. While his brothers slept in their stasis pods, he'd been kept awake far longer and subjected to endless biopsies looking for cancers, arthritis, and other signs of long-term malfunction brought on by Cawl’s alterations. No obvious interest in his psychological status. The psych eval was a different control group, he remembered bitterly. So far as he could tell, when he'd been shown to retain his combat effectiveness, the Mechanicus were happy to throw him in a suit of armour and send him on his way, surrounded by people a fraction of his age. They hadn't even kept the old test cases together.
Lucullus continued, "We officers have spent a good part of the day arguing about whether you should be reprimanded. I argued you should not. You made me realise I've been so focussed on our strategic needs, and the recovery of the chapter, that I'd forgotten what every Son of Guilliman prides themselves on remembering: our duty is to the citizenry. That is why we exist." Lucullus gave up on the pretext of sparring, and lowered his sword. "This is not a lesson my other officers always retain, but your speech today, about the need to see ourselves through the eyes of others... I think there were more than a few people in the mess hall who needed to hear that. Myself included."
Lucullus smiled. "Have you command experience?"
"None," Antigonus said. At least, none he'd earned or been proud of.
"That's not quite true, is it?"
Antigonus didn't reply. It seemed a strange question to ask if Lucullus already knew the answer.
"I am given to understand you held Squad Maximinian together when he fell during the Nova Tarentis Massacre. You acquitted yourself well."
Antigonus shifted uncomfortably. People always wanted to talk about the massacre, wanted to hear of noble last stand made by the Azure Drakes and the Cobalt Scions reservists supporting them. But there had been no glory, only the indignity of being culled by the overwhelming numbers of the Black Legion. He remembered their laughter, as if they couldn't believe how easily they were butchering the vaunted new progeny of the Imperial Regent. That laughter haunted all the survivors.
"I am transferring you to the Third Company, Antigonus Nerva."
Antigonus' brows furrowed. "A battle company? Sir I have yet to demonstrate sufficient aptitude for stealth, or sufficient swordsmanship. I was hypno-indoctrinated to operate a bolt rifle. With my... my age, I confess I have struggled to follow the teachings of the First Four and diversify my skills. I apologise."
"I don't need you to be an excellent swordsman. I want you in the Third as my Lieutenant because--"
"As your Lieutenant?" Antigonus asked, stunned.
"As my Lieutenant, because there are a good few sergeants who think they deserve the post by virtue of tactical brilliance and strength of arms. I have spoken to your commanding officers at length today, and I think I need someone with your strength of character at my side. I fear some of my darker instincts, and I think you're the man to curb them. This will send a message to the others in the company. They won't like it, but they have to learn that being a true son of Guilliman is about more than simply winning a fight."
"I'm unqualified, I can't possibly... sir, I cannot command a demi-company!"
"Not yet, no. You will remain by my side at first. With the loss of great Atalus, the position must be filled, and I have no illusion that you will struggle, and with jealous sergeants to command no less. And the disapproval of some of my peers, I suspect. I appreciate that this is more of a curse than an honour, but think of it this way: you can now be the change you wish to see. Let all your tribulations yield some good, at long last."
I warn of the dangers of treating people poorly, Antigonus thought, and I'm rewarded by being given a post I have no aptitude for and have expressed no interest in. "Of course, sir, I am honoured."
+ + +
Cobalt Scions project status: COMPLETE.
This is the first time I've painted a whole army to what is, for me, a high standard. Normally I find ways to keep things quick and simple with the troops and really focus on characters, and a few standout details to distract the eye from the utter slackness of the bulk of the minis (commonly known as the normal and sensible approach). Here, then, after a year and a half of consistent effort, is a shot of the whole thing:
|You know for 1,860 points it looks pretty diddy. I blame the HQ choices. And the tank. Mostly the tank.|
Higher quality could have been achieved by taking even more time - to really get some nicer fades on the edge highlights, and introduce more layering to enhance the light and shade - but I think this is about as high as I can push the quality on an army-wide level without going insane.
I've also gone into an unusual amount of depth on the army's lore. There's so much of it I haven't even put it all on the blog for fear of jumping the "let me tell you about my D&D character" shark. Maybe I'll go completely insane and make my own Index Astartes with full layout and everything at some point as a way to showcase all that material, but for now, most of it's on the Beard Bunker campaign wiki.
Like any test of willpower it's been difficult to stay this focussed, but all the more rewarding for it. I might do more units for them one day; I've got a few ideas of how to do a squad of Bladeguard Veterans, and I feel like adding more Intercessors would help balance it out, but for now I am extremely sated. I hope you've enjoyed following along as the army's grown. Suffice to say, the next painting project will be significantly more loose and scrappy!
Finally, I'll end on the thing that makes my inner grognard (lol, "inner," as if) absolutely full of glee: painting Antigonus has completed the five man command squad at the centre of the battle pile. I've made a point of putting together a whole command squad who aren't in combat poses. These are imperious bastards; they're not leading from the front, they're standing back and keeping it all extremely organised, only wading in at the last moment. I wanted gravitas, not fury. And I want Space Wolf players to look at them, roll their eyes, and mutter "typical ----ing Smurf" under their breath.