Since the new version of Age of Darkness was launched, I’ve been lavishing lots of attention on my seventeenth legion ‘Word Bearers’ forces. With so many all-new plastic kits coming out it’s really hard to resist, but I also have a backlog of Forgeworld and older kits that I don’t want to see languish on the hill-of-shame, so the first reinforcement I’ve added is a glorious Deimos pattern Vindicator with an equally glorious centreline mounted magna laser destroyer array. I’ve loved the look of this kit since it first came out, especially the thick overlapping armour that turns the Deimos chassis into something that probably has more in common with the Caestus assault ram than the humble transport it was built upon.

There was a small moment of panic when I couldn’t find the main gun components and exhaust stacks, having built the kit some time ago for a different legion, put it into storage, moved it, lost it, found it, moved it again, lost it again and eventually re-discovered it hiding in a storage case that was supposed to hold my Ultramarines. The irony is not lost on me. Luckily all parts were eventually found and reunited with the rest of the kit so I figured I should paint it in the seventeenths colours and get it onto the tabletop.

Word Bearers palette

The most striking aspect of the Seventeenth Legion’s scheme is the contrast between the reflective red of their armour and the dark black of their pauldrons. For the infantry or Dreadnoughts I generally paint both areas separately for simplicity and glue the shoulder pads on towards the end. For the vehicles however I start by painting the dark armour sections in Dark Sea Blue, then sparing highlights of German Grey for mid-tones and a neutral grey for the highlights. As the armour is supposed to be black rather than grey the mid and highlight only makes up the last 5% of the area with the greatest majority being the dark sea blue. To bring back the colour I gave the entire area a few coats of thinned down Incubi Darkness before varnishing. These were then masked to protect the work so far.

Next is the fun part, adding the Word Bearers distinctive red armour. This is achieved in two stages, firstly by giving the tank and all over pre-shade or grisaille using metallics. I only use two paints, gunmetal grey which I apply over the entire tank and then chrome to create the mid and highlights. The red I then applied over the top of this was a transparent paint so that the reflective values in the underlying metallic pre-shade could show through creating a cool final look and contrast with the black. I used Tamiya clear red for this, but you could use any transparent red paint, the trick is to apply in thin layers and build it up gradually.

As I want Word Bearers and not Thousand Sons however, I added an extra step of Carroburg Crimson before the clear red. This does reduce some of the reflective property of the metallic pre-shade, but it makes for a much closer match to the effect and colour you see in the artwork, especially the colour plates found in Forgeworld’s ‘black books’ and Liber Hereticus. Several layers of Tamiya clear red later when I was happy with the colour I boosted the shadows with some Drakenhof Nightshade and gave the entire tank a coat of satin varnish. It’s at this stage I add all the decals so they can be blended in using during the weathering stage.

Battle ready

A few final touches are still needed before the Vindicator is ready to join the ranks of my legion. They are also my favourite (and messiest) which is when all the little details come to life through the weathering. The same as I did for the Falchion I split this down into three stages;

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

The simplest approach to get the model battle ready is to apply all three in  the order above, however I often return to earlier stages to apply over the top of latter to create specific layered effects. For example fresh impacts that cut through the dust and grime to expose the armour underneath, or mud and debris that is churned up by tracks and deposited along lower edges etc. For competition I would revisit this stages repeatedly to build up a narrative, however for this particular beast I was satisfied with battle ready so I could get it into the fight at the next opportunity. For anyone interested, the chipping was just simple sponge chipping using Rhinox Hide and a steel colour. The streaking grime was done with burnt umber, ochre and paynes grey oil paints using techniques called “dot filtering” and “stumping”. Both of these can readily be found with an online search if you would like to know more. Finally the dust effects were a mix of weathering pigments and heavily diluted acrylic earth colours that I airbrushed along the lower edge. The front dozer blade is probably the best example of the model how all of these when combined together in layers help create a pleasing almost-realistic effect that helps place the tank into the battle.

I’m really pleased with the final result and itching to see how it fares on the tabletop as it gives my current force reach which to date has been lacking. I don’t think I’m quite done with the seventeenth 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 force for games.

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.