Monday, 27 July 2015

On collecting Legion Blood Angels

I like typing up a design brief before I start each project. This mission brie helps me refine my initial inspiration for the project, allowing me to review it over the years and stay on track. Here are my design notes for Legion Blood Angels. 

1) No Saltires. “The Death Company is arrayed in black armour upon which are painted red saltires, crosses of blood red which symbolise the sacrifice of Sanguinius.” 

Some artists have done a fantastic job putting the saltire in a different context, but this image is so closely intertwined the Death Company and the 41st millennium that I can’t bring myself to incorporate it in the Heresy era force. 

2) Angelic over barbaric. I have a fan theory why Blood Angels drink blood and it has to do with the little talked of ability of a space marine’s ability to absorb surface memories by eating flesh. 

Why do they drink blood? 

"It’s invigorating. We absorb memories, and those memories are…intoxicating. As Astartes we have to kill our humanity in order to ascend to the Host. I have felt the fear of a thousand men, tasted the last panicked moments of their existence. I have experienced their love, lust and those few precious moments of hope granted in a life time. I’m not ashamed to admit that the death I taste is as sweet as the memory of life. 

By imbibing blood we are able to partake in the humanity that has been denied us.

Our brothers in the medicae purify our Blood between compliances. Although rarely discussed the mode of our transubstantiation must be constantly monitored; our bodies purified. Some would call this a flaw in our genetic make up, but what machine was ever so constructed to endure such hardships as we that didn’t need repair? We are all born base, our bodies marked by Baal but we are transformed like no other Legion by the grace of the Angel. The living Blood of Sanguinius sustains us in more than a spiritual sense."

Remberances of Terra. Collected Visions. attributed to Sgt. Raphaeno, 3rd company. Blood Angels. 

The sanguinary priesthood post heresy are injected with the blood of Sanguinius to keep it vital and living, to be injected into other blood angels. I believe that more than a way of triggering the geneseed that this process actually helped smooth out the underlining flaws of the IX genetic make up. While Sanguinius was alive he was able to mitigate the worst of this flaw with his own blood, or merely his presence was enough to some how psychically smooth over the black rage. 

I always liked the idea of the Black rage being a form of racial post traumatic stress disorder suffered by the Blood Angels in the wake of the Horus Heresy. But this idea was put to rest in Fear to Tread. The flaw was present before the Heresy. 

3) Chalices & tear drops. 

A chalice is used in Fear to Tread to denote fraternity. Squads of marines drink the blood of their brothers from a chalice. Putting aside the sanitary concerns of such an act for the moment, the Chalice is a potent symbol within the Blood Angel legion; it is a metaphorical link between brothers, and to their Primarch. A chalice would make an excellent Legion Vexilla. 

The tear drop motif was first seen in the aftermath of Murder when Sanguinius marks his face with a single tear drop. This melancholic symbol could represent many things within the symbolic language of the Blood Angels but is no doubt a potent and easily recognisable symbol. 

4)  New-school BAs - Red, Bone, Green. Old-school BAs - Red, Black, Yellow 

5) Red armour should have a shine on the surface, not towards the edges, so effectively gloss, as opposed to matte.

6) Blood drops & gems blue + Purple. 

7) Black details, contrasting black armour plates, black flame details.

8) Latin & Italian Names - still frequently seen in BA armies, but things these days are usually trending towards the greek, and even then more common in ultramarine armies.

9) Be mindful of painting Powerfists & Gun casings in yellow - like the second edition box cover. 

10) Detailed personal heraldry & squad markings

11) All blood angels hair BONE WHITE, not blonde, and Black.”

Although it is fair to say that the latest incarnation of the Blood Angels really indulges the romanesque aspects of their character, I would argue that their initial, and strongest, influence comes from renaissance art.

I've been rooting around for a apt summarisation of the Renaissance movement, this is the best I could find:

"The Italian Renaissance had placed human beings once more in the centre of life's stage and infused thought and art with humanistic values. In time the stimulating ideas current in Italy spread to other areas and combined with indigenous developments to produce a French Renaissance, an English Renaissance, and so on.

The term Renaissance, literally means "rebirth" and is the period in European civilisation immediately following the Middle Ages, conventionally held to have been characterised by a surge of interest in classical learning and values. The Renaissance also witnessed the discovery and exploration of new continents, the substitution of the Copernican for the Ptolemaic system of astronomy, the decline of the feudal system and the growth of commerce, and the invention or application of such potentially powerful innovations as paper, printing, the mariner's compass, and gunpowder. To the scholars and thinkers of the day, however, it was primarily a time of the revival of classical learning and wisdom after a long period of cultural decline and stagnation."

Dante, the Chapter master and writer of the Inferno, Erasmus (possibly inspired by Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, a Dutch Renaissance humanist) Tycho (possibly Tycho Brahe, astronomer), and supporting fluff that claims the Blood Angels armour is amongst the most finely crafted pieces in the universe; all these details reflect enlightenment ideals. In fluff terms, the Blood Angels still embody some of the humanistic principles, and optimism of the Great Crusade. To boil it right down, you have to be a bit of a romantic to play Blood Angels and enjoy painting red. 


Project update. The test model has gone well and I have my red. Painting en masse has begun. The next article will focus in on how I painted this red with step by step pictures. 



  1. That red is spot on! As a massive BA fan in 40k, I'm following this with interest. Please put up a step by step tutorial for that red as soon as you can, I would love to emulate it for my 40k army.

  2. I would love to be able to airbrush marine miniatures the way you do. Looking forward to seeing how your Blood Angels turn out.

  3. I am so keen to see this army in full! Been following your posts intently :)

  4. Wow love it!

    What spot colour did you use? I'm keen to try it out!

  5. I really love your consideration and directional insight. Very cool to read your interpretation and reasoning for details and imagery