In case you were wondering, some of the parts to make my groovy Rough Riders were sculpted by Rob at Curious Constructs.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Contextualising My Praetorians (and a Big Gun Emplacement)

Well, it has been quite a break between solid painting posts. This blogging drought ends here! Starting this month I will attempt a feat that I have never achieved ever in my last 4 years of blogging... I will blog weekly painting posts. {gasp} I'm know right, a very dangerous deed! I don't know how long it will last but there will be no retreating! 

In this post I painted up my Earthshaker Cannon, but what this post is really about is the symbols and icons that I have added to my Praetorian force. Lately, I have been putting large emphases on making sure that my armies have a strong identity. For my golden Necrons this has been through the elaborate city terrain that represents their crown world. Praetorians by themselves have a strong theme but I wanted to introduce a few icons to the army to cement their character and identity across the force.

One of my favourite Forge World campaign books is IA 12 ‘The Fall of Orpheus’. The background section is superb and I am a big fan on the new campaign army lists. The Necron Dark Harvest list is the basis of my golden Necron force allowing me lots of flayed ones, while the DKoK Assault Bridge heavily influenced my home brewed Cavalry Codex. [edit: I know the new Necron codex is out today but I have no idea how my force will adapt just yet]. It seems fitting then that I should set my heroic Necron v Praetorian war in the Orpheus sector. It may be part of the final Orpheus Salvation campaign or possibly one of the earlier campaigns in the history of the Orpheus sector. Passably at the conclusion of the Orphean War of Faith? Either way, the Praetorian campaign will be an off shoot of the main force which are fighting over a Necron Crown World tomb city. Did they stumble across it by chance? Were they sent there on a special mission? I haven’t decided yet. But I do know that whatever happened there was significant enough to be completely removed from all Imperial records (save maybe a lone document sealed away deep in an inquisitional vault somewhere).
Of course none of that really matters, the point is that I decided to paint the Orpheus Sector Campaign badge on to my Praetorians units to signify what they are doing and where they are in the galaxy. I was not entirely sure that it was something that was within my skill level. After all, it is pretty complicated. One Saturday morning I rallied my courage, picked up an Earthshaker (giving me a nice big flat area) and gave it a crack.
I lightly panted it first in white, then went over the top in black and finally filled in the centre with a dark grey. The Orpheus temple in the centre is not perfectly cantered but all in all I called it a success. The next thing that I wanted to give my Praetorians was a nice looking Praetorian Army badge. I really liked the red lion that identifies the Praetorians on the art by the ‘40k Campaign’ group.  Colonel Winterborne has done some fantastic free hand painting on his Praetorians too. Inspired by this I thought I’d give a big red lion a try next.
(here is some of the art from 'Warhammer 40k Campaigns')
I started lightly in white.
The red was a little dark in places so I went over it again in white (err, pink) to get a nice bright red.
With the red lion done I thought I’d better push on and finish off the rest of the Earthshaker too! 
Pulling out my transfer sheets I tossed on an eagle.
Black and white kill marking was a must.
Stuff up the first one. I was using "Micro Set" and I was not prepared for how much it softened the transfer. 
Take two. Got it this time!
I added the gun number on the left and suddenly it started to look a bit crowed on the shield... 
So I took the eagle off again.

Gotta have some barrel text! "contritio a praetorianis" should translate to "destruction guard" or "destruction by the Praetorian". I was aiming for the latter.
And "Praetoria CXXII" for the 122nd regiment.
Next I gave it all a heavy weathering with Forge World powders and sealed it with a wash.

There is still a bit to go on this but it is mostly there. First up will be a dull coat spray, then some equipment and shells on the base and finally some crew. A few days later I wasn't 100% happy with the lion. Not enough to wipe the whole thing and start again mind you! Still I wanted to get the lion looking right for the next project. To practice I grabbed a little plastic tent and attempted another red lion.

First time the legs were wrong.
But I got it eventually.
I was much happier with the new proportions of the lion and so I decided this would be my 'template' for the next time I paint it. Immediately after this I pulled out a whole bunch of Praetorian things and started painting red lions on them. I'll show you a few of those next week.

Until then, 

Tally ho.


  1. Huzzah! A welcome to return to blogging, I'm very much looking forward to these weekly updates.
    Thanks for the nod towards my freehand, I'm pleased it's given you some ideas.
    The Orpheus campaign badge is amazing! I thought it was a transfer at first. I really take my hat off to you for that. The lion was a bit ropey the first time but I think you have cracked it with the second.
    Two tips for your freehand. Firstly be background colour is just as important as the freehand. Choose it carefully. Note the black panels I paint before white freehand on my tanks, otherwise it gets lost. You spend lots of time on it so you want it to be shown off.
    Secondly don't make a rod for your own back. Keep your freehand relatively simple or methodical. I practiced my lions lots drawing and then painting, I considered lions rampant but they were too complicated to be done consistently without losing my sanity!

    1. Thanks mate, it is nice to be back at the computer!
      That is some awesome advice too. I will certainly be taking that on board! Your background colours really do make it all pop and it wasn't something that I had thought about. Cheers.
      As for a rod… yeah I should give up my sanity now.

  2. Nice!! Really dig how the emplacement turned out, and the freehanding is beautifully done. Excellent work, man!

    1. Well it is no Thousand Sons Shadowsword but it is progress! ;)

  3. Replies
    1. Cheers mate! I'm glad I found the courage to give it a go.

  4. Excellent post, looking forward to another 51 this year. If you make it I will eat a piece of toast with marmite on (here's hoping I'm safe).

    Now you have a couple of whole lions up, you could limit yourself to lions heads for a bit, just to cut down on the freehand.

    1. 51!! Oh gosh no! 47 seeing I have missed January? And it can’t be marmite. It will have to be Vegemite!!! I’ll send you a jar if need be. Limiting it to the heads. Now that is an idea. Pity that I find the heads the hardest part!

    2. And, after a moments reflection, "Contextualising my Praetorians" is possibly the best post title ever.

  5. Some fantastic free-hand work you've done there :D

  6. Just bloody brilliant, mate!

    I quite like the 'wrong-legged' lion: he has a 'limp-wristed-corgi' look about him, which is always a plus in my book.

    I love the crowded workstation: glad it's not just me!

    1. You are too kind sir.
      Yeah, that poor lion. I am slowly getting the hang of it! As for the desk… hmmm. At least I can close the lid when I'm not sitting there to hide my shame. ;)

  7. Out of interest, how long did the campaign badge and the lion take individually to paint?

    1. A bit over an hour on the campaign badge. I did that one in one go. According to the time stamp on the lion photos that took an hour as well. The lion on the tent I did over a few sitings until I was happy with it. Leaving it and coming back to touch it up seems to be a better stratagy.

  8. Lovely work. Watching this come together as I scrolled was a treat! Really great work on that freehand.

  9. Woo! Welcome back Ackland! Good to see you working on your Praetorians again.
    The freehand (And seeing it’s progression from start to wonderful finished product) really does give the gun and tent more interest and makes for a pleasing image to look upon. A whole army marked up thusly will be a sight to behold!

    1. Thanks Die, it is nice to be back in the saddle - err back in the computer chair.
      I still think you should try free handing those 15mm FOW badges. LOL I'm joking, please please don't! I have the next blog post up and the army marking has continued!!!

    2. O bloody hell no.... Not unless I absolutely have to. ~_~

  10. Welcome back! Beautiful work on those guns, mate!

  11. sweet emperor Praetorians are my favorite regiment! well would you have some advice for a player who is going to build and paint up a praetorian highlanders regiment(similar to the highlanders regiments the British use: with officers(such as sergeants) instead of having the the praetorian style heads will instead have the voystroyan heads with the big fur hats(to give it a Buckingham palace guard/ old british grenadiers look)! I will also give them catachan arms, and kilts(this is for every infantry unit in the regiment) now you may be wondering where would i be getting kilted legs for my soldiers its simple victoria lamb minitures(she is a sculptor with her own website:!

    1. Hi, thanks for stopping by my blog. I am very familiar with Victoria, she lives up the road from me and we used the same local Games Workshop. I remember drooling over her Golden Demon wining Praetorians back in the day. I have brought load of models off her, even way back before she opened her store. I have a post talking about her work - you can check it out here...

      I have actually gone off of her sculpts in recent times though. She switched to resin and my last shipment was very very poor quality casts. Additionally I have to buy using US dollars instead of Australian dollars (which makes it expensive) and pay the same for postage that US customers do even though I’m a stone’s throw up the road. So I don’t buy Vic stuff anymore.

      If you are looking for big bearskin hats I would suggest Rob Angell’s sculpts (Col. Gravis in the blogging world). Here are links to his stuff.

      Rob’s blog:

      Best of luck with your new army. If you post up some pictures to a blog let me know so I can check it out and follow along.

      Oh also go check out Phil’s blog. He has some nice Highlanders too

      Ady’s collection is nice too

      Also look at Mordian 7th blog, he has heaps of inspiring guard stuff using various bits.

      Loads of other cool blogs to look at too - too many to list really.

      Tally ho.