Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sternguard Heavy Flamer

Here's a model that I converted and completed in April for the Astronomi-con tournament in Toronto.

He was made especially for my Space Marine Sternguard squad, as I team them up with a chapter master and use them as a hybrid shooty/assaulty unit. They are especially good when coupled with Pedro Kantor. The Heavy Flamer ensures horde units are thinned out so that the squad can survive the round of combat, due to reduced counter attacks. But it also means getting in close...and since that is what they intend to do anyway, it works out nicely. Normally I field them in a razorback, but am now considering putting them in a Landraider and expanding the squad.

When I started thinking about how I would make the model, I considered using the Legion of the Damned Heavy Flamer model from GW. But realised it just wouldn't fit in with the original squad, which all wears the MK VIII Errant armour.

So instead I used a plastic heavy flamer arm from the Space Wolves Wolf Guard Terminator kit and converted it to fit this model. I removed all the wolf icons and the terminator arm. Then I grafted it onto a regular marine arm, resculpted the tubes to the back, added a couple of purity seals, some paint and presto blammo, I got a really nice and convincing Sternguard Heavy Flamer out of it. As mentioned already the squad is composed of MK VIII armour. However, instead of using the plastic MKVIII chest piece, the miniature itself is one of the 2nd generation metal MKVIII Errant Space Marine Armour.

I'll be doing another Sternguard with Heavy Flamer, to really put a hurt on horde type armies, especially if that squad escorts a Librarian with Avenger, or to make it even more nasty if I make the Sternguard a 10 man squad with two heavy flamers. For a slight difference, I'll be converting that heavy flamer from a previous generation plastic Terminator heavy flamer, with the conical nozzles.

Here is the foundation model I'll be using for that model.

I started with a black base coat. This model has been spray primed with Citadel Black Primer (yes I still have some). I then add the highlights by wet blending directly from Chaos Black to Shadow Grey. This is done in a single wet blending step for each area of armour. Doing a two colour gradient in a single blend step helps keep the highlight gradient sharp, and clean. Note that the edges are NOT done with edge highlighting, rather, that is the highlight effect I achieve through wet blending and leaving the edge with the brightest colour. Basically I draw the dark colour towards the ridges, and deposit the lighter pigment there, while creating an even gradient. Finally, I give it a black ink wash. This ensures the gradients appear smooth, and the tone is consistent. It also goes on a touch shiny, which I like for marine armour.

The next picture shows work proceeding on the bone armour pieces. In this picture you can see various stages. I took this shot to reduce the number of pictures for the tutorial. Anywhere that I paint bone, I begin with a coat of original GW Bestial Brown. However, that is no longer available, so Khemri Brown Foundation is a suitable replacement. You can also use Snakebite Leather, though it gives a more yellow tint. 

Here you can see the helmet, chest eagle and belly armour in Snakebite Leather, as I could not find my Beastial Brown. The belt, knees and ankles were given a thin coat of Bleached Bone. It should be about the consistency of skimmed milk, and translucent. Apply it so that you are drawing the brush away from the darkest part, to the highlight. This leaves a translucent gradient, and then deposits pigment on the highlight. Repeat several times until the coat is nice and even. The trick to preventing it from looking chalky is several nice thin coats.

Below you can see the model after several thin coats of Bleached Bone. The photo is a little over exposed, so the highlights are blown out a bit, but you can see how even and smooth the bone is without looking chalky.

Once I have an even transition from the brown to the bone, I start wet blending again. I repeat the translucent layer of bleached bone, and blend in some skull white on the highlight. This is done while the layer of paint is wet, and mixed directly on the model. I let it dry, then do this again with slightly lighter mixes of bleached bone, adding white to my mix every layer. I repeat this for several coats until I have a mix of about 50/50 bone to white on the palette, and finally edge highlight with that specific colour. I then add some spot highlights of pure white on points of interest, like the edge of the belt, the head crest, and the eye surround.

I find the most convincing aged bone effect is done by laying this translucent paint over the darker brown, so that you can almost see the brown through the top layers. If you ever look at dried out bones, say after a BBQ of chicken wings, or ribs, you will see that same effect, as the marrow is almost visible through the bone. 

Of course, changing the base colour will change the tone of the bone, making it look more or less age worn, fresh, wet, dried out, etc. Experiment to your personal taste, but I've had very positive and pleasing results doing the same effect over purple, red, blue, black and grey. Green is a nice option too and gives the subject an almost otherworldly effect. You can also make the bone look fresh by using reddish tones, and then giving the area of deepest undertone a thin gloss varnish, to appear gristly and wet.

That's it for now. I'll continue to update this as I make progress on the model.


  1. LOL now I know why I might have trouble commenting here...You and Roleplayer are cut from the same cloth! I end up absorbing so much information from the reading that all I have to say usually is: "Wow thanks for all the tips!"

  2. Thanks Hexeter. I'm glad you've been enjoying my Blog.

    I really hope this blog can help me inspire and teach people something new about our hobby every once in a while.

  3. I know this is an old post, but I just wanted to comment and offer my compliments to your work here. I just played a game yesterday with a Sternguard\Drop-Pod assault, and I had them outfitted with 2 Heavy Flamers and several combi-flamers; it worked very well!

    Bearing that in mind, I decided purchasing some Spacemarine Heavy Flamers was in order, and went searching for images and found this post\blog.

    I have many, many "old-skool" metal Marines and love this guy! Although I won't be using him for my Sternguard Heavies, just wanted to say that I appreciate seeing him still out there, kicking butt!


    Gordon Allen

  4. Thanks, Gordon.

    Yes, this is an older post, and I've let things here sort of settle down without updates for a long time. Life took a really heavy left turn for me not long after posting this. This model is, in fact, the second of two heavy flamers for my stern guard unit, all of whom are sporting the MKVIII armour.

    I hope to soon get back to updating this blog, now that life has gotten back to an even keel. Thanks for taking the time to read and post here. Hopefully there will be new good stuff soon.