Building the Sons of Horus

The Heresy Project

The Sons of Horus project actually predated the beginning of this blog. I own around 10,000 points of Black Legionnaires, and while they weren’t my first army, it remains the oldest army I still own.

When the Horus Heresy stuff came out, I knew I had to do a Heresy-era version of them, and thus did this project begin.


I don’t have a “set” army list in mind for the Sons of Horus, or even a long-term goal in mind for them—I’ll add to them as the mood strikes. The only real guideline is that I want the army to ultimately be a mirror of my Black Legion army, and contain a similar mix of units in similar proportions. That means lots of Legion Tactical Squads and Sons of Horus Reaver Squads, predominantly mounted in Rhinos, supported by dreadnoughts and predators.

One of my goals with the project has become to hone my skills with an airbrush. I was always very resistant to getting an airbrush, but once I bought one, I realized I’d been very much a curmudgeonly old man about “how things were supposed to be” and now see the airbrush as an indispensable hobby tool. With that in mind, I start every model off from a black primer coat, followed by an airbrushed basecoat of Incubi Darkness. When Incubi Darkness came out as a spray a couple months ago, I started using that instead and cutting the black primer step out.

I then airbrush a coat of 50/50 Kabalite Green and Incubi Darkness on. I don’t worry about keeping any of the basecoat showing—the intermediary step before of solid Incubi Darkness is there to just make this step go on smoother.

Next up, I wash the whole model with Coelia Greenshade. When that’s dry, I put the .02mm nozzle on the airbrush and carefully layer on Kabalite Green on its own. Sometimes I have to go back and re-line the recesses with Coelia Greenshade, but that’s not usually a big deal.

I then mix up 50/50 Kabalite Green and Sybarite Green, and add a relatively thick edge highlight to the armor. I make sure to blend that down back into the plates so it’s a soft transition to the hard edges. To define the hardest edges of the armor, I use a final edge highlight of Sybarite Green on its own. If I’ve overdone the highlights, I’ll glaze it with an even mix of Lahmian Medium and Coelia Greenshade to alter the wash’s surface tension.


The armor could be done at this point, except it needs to be dirtied up. I pick some spots where I want the paint to be chipped, and make very fine black lines. I then put a highlight of 50/50 Kabalite and
Sybarite Green on the bottom edge of that line to create a chipped effect. If it’s a particularly large or thick black line, I’ll line the inside of it with Leadbelcher and highlight that with Ironbreaker.

To maintain some variety between models in the units, I select various armor plates to be black instead of teal. At this point, I also paint all the gun casings, cabling, and the right kneepad black as well. I just use Skavenblight Dinge on its own as a highlight—less is really more when it comes to highlighting black. If it’s a particularly sharp edge, I’ll touch it with Dawnstone on the highest points, but over-highlighting black leads to it looking grey instead.


The silver bits are Leadbelcher, followed by a Nuln Oil wash, and then a Leadbelcher highlight. I tend to favor darker silver on my miniatures. A final highlight of Ironbreaker would definitely work here, though. On any swords or axes, I’ll touch a tiny bit of Blood For the Blood God to the striking surface, and pull it back as thin lines on the flat of the blade. Less is more with that stuff.

The gold is Vallejo Brass, washed with a proprietary mix I call “gold wash.” It’s a mixture of Brown and Red ink from Reaper Master Series, Lahmian Medium, and Reikland Fleshshade, then cut with about 10% water per volume. It’s about 35% Brown Ink, 20% Red Ink, 20% Reikland Fleshshade (which is ultimately a similar color and alters the surface tension of the ink), and about 15% Lahmian Medium (which kills the high gloss of the inks). I then highlight it again with Vallejo Brass and then an edge highlight of Vallejo Gold. Any rivets or especially sharp points get a dot of Ironbreaker—I’m very conservative with highlighting gold using silver since it starts to look silver if overdone.

Once I’ve done the Legion markings (always freehand!), it’s time to finish up weathering the model. I thin a bit of Typhus Corrosion and paint it around the boots and ankles of the models. I then get out the airbrush, and build up layers of various browns (I like Reaper Master Series Leather Brown for this, with Pallid Wych Flesh mixed in to lighten it) around the boots, knees, and depending on the pose, on the elbows.


I then casually apply some weathering powder from Tamiya—I use the Model Masters compacts that have three colors each to them. I use both the dark and light dirt after the airbrush to break up the consistency of the brown colors, and then apply a bit of soot wherever it looks good (typically gun barrels and around the vents of the power armor).


The bases are pretty simple—I just glue some sand to them, paint them using Baneblade Brown followed by a Screaming Skull drybrush, and then glue a couple Mordeheim Turf tufts to them. The rocks get a coat of Skavenblight Dinge followed by a highlight of Stormvermin Fur. If they’re particularly large or have especially sharp edges, I’ll touch them up with Reaper Master Series Weathered Stone.



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