The Ultramarine Legion infantry were the first units I painted specifically to play Age of Darkness (The Horus Heresy).

In 2012, I started working on a project intended to reintroduce me to Warhammer 40,000. At that time, Forgeworld had begun releasing alternative armor kits reminiscent of the Heresy era.

While I managed to paint a few tester models for the palette, I more or less abandoned the project. However, everything changed with the release of the Betrayal at Calth boxed set, which sparked a boom in the 30K scene. With readily available plastic kits for Mark IV Legion Astartes, Cataphractii Terminators, and Contemptor Dreadnoughts, I resurrected my earlier testers and forged them into a full-fledged army.

My first exposure to the Age of Darkness ruleset came through the Calth boxed set, which meant I had to focus on infantry—lots and lots of infantry. I eventually devised a ‘Centurion’ list that restricted my army to infantry and walkers only. It was a great way for me to start collecting. I added some breachers in Mark III armor, allowing me to enjoy Zone Mortalis style games as well.

Another reason for prioritizing infantry early on was that it’s often seen as the less exciting part of building an army, with repetitive assembly and painting. By tackling the infantry first, I could then focus on the more enjoyable aspects later. Unless, of course, you happen to enjoy painting infantry, in which case, consider yourself lucky.

Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed many projects meet an untimely end due to leaving the rank and file until the very end, when painting fatigue is at its peak and newer, more enticing armies start to vie for attention.

With a significant amount of blue on display, the metallics, especially gold, had to provide the majority of the contrast. I reserved the use of white for accents, limiting it to veterans such as the Cataphractii. To achieve depth in the metallics, I started with a strong base of Games Workshop Glorious Gold mixed into Leadbelcher, with a touch of Japanese Yellow and Black. This provided a flat tarnished gold base, to which I added Scale Colour Elven Gold and finally Steel for the highlights. To enhance the warmth, I used a thinned sepia ink mixed with varnish.

An additional tip to add character to the units is to split decals over armor panels. For example, on the Cataphractii pauldrons, I placed a name on one side and half of a split shield icon on the other. Sometimes in blue, other times in gold. By varying the markings and accent colors on different armor plates, legionaries can showcase individual character while still maintaining overall cohesiveness. They don’t have to be identical replicas. It’s the little narrative touches that make heresy armies truly special.