Sunday, 2 May 2010

E's guide to Theming an Army

The FTW collaborative post spurred me on to do this.

I think it’s worth putting a summary at the beginning so that you only have to get bogged down in detail if you want to, so:

1. Background, decide the outline of it before you do anything else.

2. Reference pictures, having something that you like the look of can be very useful when planning conversions and paint schemes.

3. Unit selection can be more useful for adding a theme than any other single element, pick them wisely.

4. Conversions should embody and enhance the flavour of the army.

5. Paint scheme should tie the army together but separate the individual units.

6. Basing should be a frame for the model and doesn’t need to be complex (if it is too complex it can overpower the model or can add too much time to production), it should also be cohesive throughout the army. But don’t put a very dark army on a very dark base, or vice versa, it really can spoil an otherwise brilliant paint job, as I’ve found in the past.

I have an old issue of WD that I like to refer back to whenever I'm thinking of starting a new army, I think it's either 290 or 91 (UK edition) and it has a lot of interesting points (and a sense of humour, something painfully lacking from the new ones if you ask me). But for those of you that haven't got it, I'll add my two-penneth.

I'm now on my third themed army so here's what I've done to theme it and the thought process behind it.

First of all I had a read of the codex and a think, and decided that I don't want to do a Black Templars army. I like the background and the aesthetics but not enough to do an army of them, I do however like some of the aspects and picked those ones to focus on.

So the first bit I like to start with is the background; instead of having an entirely fleet based army with no homeworld, I wanted my army to have one. Now the only difference that really makes is that all the models in the army will have been brought up in the same culture, so you can't put in the variation you could otherwise have. I also wanted to add in something more than a little heretical and have squat/demiurg made tech, now the only way I can think of representing that is having more archaic/unusual weaponry and armour and removing the Martian skull and cog symbol.

I like to look through the canon art (ie GWs own) when I’m trying to decide which way to take my army, which is one of the reasons I keep all my old WDs.
Looking through the BT codex there was one piece of art that really caught my eye and that showed the BT army in full regalia marching down a street, and the thing that really got me was that each and every marine was wearing a tabard!
In one of the WDs from around the time the BT codex was new, there was a piece of concept art which showed an Initiate (full marine) paired with his own Neophyte (scout) with the neophyte carrying the Initiates personal heraldry on a banner, an image I particularly liked.

So to represent that lot I’m having one full crusader squad of 10 Initiates and 10 Neophytes, and I’m sculpting a tabard on each marine and putting a longish banner on each scout, the reason for the longish banner is that I’m giving each of my terminators the square banners and wanted to keep some unit difference. I’m also arming each of the initiates in the same way and each of the neophytes in the same way, now being as I had the mad notion of trying to win a best painted award with the army I’m giving the scouts all chainswords and the marines all axes/swords; I wouldn’t recommend it unless you like a painful amount of work!

I’m keeping fairly closely to the Black Templars paint scheme but putting enough of a twist on it so that I don’t have to call them Black Templars. I’m using the same colour on one shoulder pad throughout the army and changing the other depending on what type of role they’ll be fulfilling, and to show differences between units I’ll paint one knee pad the same for each member of a squad.

The overall similarity of the colour scheme should tie the army together, whilst the different colours should tie specific units together.

I’m going for an abandoned city themed base, which basically is grey slate/gravel with pieces of weathered plasticard to represent buildings or parts of them, obviously the bigger the base the more detailed and same goes for characters.

Unit selection can actually go quite some way to giving an army a theme, for example Fantasy dwarf can be made a solely defensive gunline or they can be an aggressive close combat only army (however unlikely that might seem). For my Templars I’ve decided not to have any tanks, reasoning that the Guard and the Ships would have done the dirty work of cracking the fortifications and the Templars can then waltz in and annihilate the enemy troops in close combat.

So I’d say that covers it, I would put up some examples but I’ve only got test models and unpainted conversions at the moment. If you want to see them just ask.

Hope someone finds this useful.

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