Who doesn’t love armour penetrating las-cannons? The Word Bearers Vindicator brings an array of four to the party.

With so many all-new plastic kits flooding the market, it can be daunting to decide where to begin. However, I also have a backlog of older kits that I don’t want to see neglected. Therefore, my first priority is to reinforce the Word Bearers with a magnificent Deimos pattern Vindicator. And while I’m at it, a formidable centerline-mounted magna laser destroyer array would be a perfect addition. The tank’s aesthetic is brutal, particularly the thick overlapping armor that transforms the Deimos chassis into something more akin to the mighty Caestus assault ram than the humble transport it was originally built as.

When I retrieved the kit from storage, having previously assembled it for a different legion, I was struck with a moment of panic. The main gun components and exhaust stacks were nowhere to be found. After a thorough search, I eventually discovered them hiding in a storage case meant for my Ultramarines. The irony is not lost on me.

Now that I have reunited the wayward components with the rest of the kit, I have decided to paint it in the colors of the seventeenth Legion. Soon enough, this magnificent Vindicator will grace the tabletop, ready for battle.

Word Bearers Vindicator palette

The Seventeenth Legion’s scheme is visually striking due to the contrast between the reflective red and the matte black. When painting infantry and Dreadnoughts, I usually tackle the red and black areas separately, attaching the shoulder pads later. However, for the Vindicator, I decided to begin with the dark armor sections.

I started by painting them in Dark Sea Blue, carefully adding sparing highlights of German Grey for mid-tones, and using a neutral grey for the final highlights. Since the armor is intended to appear black rather than grey, these final highlights only make up about 5% of the area, while the bulk remains in dark sea blue. To add depth and interest, I applied a few coats of thinned-down Incubi Darkness before applying a protective varnish.

To safeguard the progress made thus far, I added a latex painting mask over the black so I could safely move to the next stage.

Painting the red

This is my favorite part: creating the distinctive red armor of the Word Bearers. I build it up in two stages. First, I give the tank an overall pre-shade in metallics to establish a reflective base. I use gunmetal grey and chrome paints, with the former as the base and the latter for the mid-tones and highlights. To achieve the red color, I airbrush several light passes of Tamiya clear red, gradually building up the color saturation.

The transparent nature of the paint allows the underlying metallic pre-shade to show through, resulting in a cool final look that contrasts with the black. You can use any transparent red paint for this technique, applying thin layers and building it up gradually.

Since these are Word Bearers and not Thousand Sons, I include an additional step of applying Carroburg Crimson before the clear red. Although it reduces some of the reflective property of the pre-shade, it provides a better match with the color seen in the artwork.

After several layers of Tamiya clear red, once I am satisfied with the color, I enhance the shadows with some Drakenhof Nightshade and give the entire tank a coat of satin varnish. At this stage, I add all the decals.

Battle ready Vindicator

A few final touches are still needed before the Vindicator is ready to join the Word Bearers ranks. The weathering is when all the little details come to life and I split this into three stages;

  1. Physical – chipping and battle damage
  2. Material – streaking grime and rust
  3. Atmospheric – Dust and particulates

This is when I add fresh impacts that cut through the dust and grime to expose the armour underneath, or mud and debris churned up by tracks and deposited along lower edges. For competition I revisit these steps repeatedly, building a narrative layer by layer. However for this particular beast goal is battle ready so I can get it into the fight at the earliest opportunity.

The basic process

I added chipped armour effects using a piece of torn and Rhinox Hide or steel colour. The streaking grime was added using burnt umber, ochre and paynes grey oil paints and techniques called “dot filtering” and “stumping”. Both of these can readily be found online if you would like to know more. Finally I airbrushed dust effects using a mix of weathering pigments and heavily diluted acrylic earth colours.

The front dozer blade is probably the best example on the miniature how all of these are combined together help create an almost-realistic effect that helps place the tank into the world.

And done

I’m happy with the final result and itching to see how it fares in battle. My current force lacks reach which I hope the Vindicator will help address. I don’t think I’m quite done with the Word Bearers yet, not by a long margin as I’m really enjoying seeing the army grow beyond its initial scope. Current thinking is to add a Terminator unit along with more suitable transport befitting their stature. Terminators feel much stronger in this edition and to date my force organisation has been very troop and line unit heavy. Other than a small unit of Gal Vorbak I’ve not focussed on elites much, so it’s time I gave the Word Bearers a few more options for me to pick from when assembling a battle force.

In fact, the first squad is on the painting table being finished as I post this. What a time to be a heretic. Happy painting.