ChorazinAngels of Vengeance Supreme Grand Master
US White Dwarf 327 article project, completed January 2007
This project was started back when White Dwarf (WD) accepted content from hobbyists unaffiliated with GW. It is one third of a collaborative article with two fellow painters, Joe Orteza and Dave Pauwels, and turned out to be a bit of an epiphany for me. In well over a decade of painting for competitions, I'd never shown another painter- let alone a direct competitor - what I was working on for an upcoming event, but from the very beginning of this project I was sharing concepts, plans, and WIP photos with the others. Sharing our hobby in this way proved to be hugely enjoyable. It was a great way to refine our ideas and techniques, not to mention a powerful incentive to push the limits of our conversion and painting skills. At the end of the day, I think the camaraderie and experience alone would have been worth the effort.
The actual idea for this joint project came from U.S. WD staffer John Shaffer, who suggested that with the Dark Angels re-release just around the corner (at the time) something in that vein would be apropos. The Dark Angels proper were sure to be covered extensively by the U.K. and U.S. studios, so John suggested that we [convert and] paint models representing Successor Chapter versions of the Dark Angel special characters. Three of us, three second founding Successor Chapters. Perfect.
I immediately called dibs on the Angels of Vengeance. As a grizzled old hobby vet, I wanted my marine to reflect the original all-black Dark Angel livery of the Rogue Trader days. I began forming a mental image of the archetypal Dark Angels character I wanted to convert - massive power sword, plasma weapon, robes, beads, tassles, and other monastic frippery - which was a decent description of Supreme Grand Master Azrael. Further dibs were called and the wheel was set in motion.
I've come to enjoy naming my projects, but for quite awhile this one only held the hugely uninventive working title of "Successor-Azrael". In time I found a list of biblical names online and only got as far as the C's before one popped out at me: Chorazin: "the secret; here is a mystery". That fit the Dark Angels background so well I immediately selected it.
Dark Angels and their successors are taciturn, secretive, monastic marines. I'd have no charging or leaping; no weapons raised in the air whilst shouting or pointing. My chapter master would stand tall and stoic, weapons slung but handy, prepared to wreak vengeance upon his traitorous brethren. Working on the grand master of a second founding chapter, I knew I wanted to use an older mark of armor, and MkIV fit the bill perfectly. I converted most of the pieces, copying the design of the Forge World Red Scorpion veteran sergeant's breastplate - one large armor plate from the neck to the belt whose shape wonderfully fit the chapter's hooded-skull symbol.
To properly represent a Successor-version of Azrael, I would need a helmet-bearer model. Joe was already using converted Digga juves from Gorkamorka, and I didn't want to copy him, but the little robed Watcher in the Darkness model wasn't really doing it for me either. I was a little unsure of what to use until I saw preview pictures of the [then-new] Empire army standard and (like Dark Angels players everywhere) instantly had to use that piece. I carefully removed the more Fantasy Battle elements of the standard, added the exposed-ribcage torso and pointing arm of the Warhammer giant's "signpost skeleton"; a few techno-gubbins, hoses, robes, and voila; my servo-reaper helmet-bearer was ready to take Chorazin under his 4+ Invulnerable wing.
As good as it sounded at the outset, monochrome black armor and robes didn't exactly make for a strikingly paint scheme. But if anyone was going to have non-standard decorations, it would be the chapter master, so I embellished Chorazin with some bronze-gold metallics. Unfortunately, my initial attempts were far too bright and threatened to completely overwhelm the modest highlights on the black-painted portions. I began to wash and glaze the metallics with a variety of green and brown paints and inks, especially Dark Angels Green. The clean brazen gilding rapidly took on a tarnished green patina, and I suddenly saw a serendipitous correlation to the great secret of the Unforgiven. While even one Fallen Dark Angel remains at large, the chapter master of the Angels of Vengeance would wear this sullied armor – discolored green like the new colors of his parent legion, his armor and his honor tarnished in equal measure.
As this project was meant to be part of the WD promotion of the new Dark Angels codex and miniatures, all of our work pre-dated the availability of all the great little bits and conversion parts available now, so where it would have been wonderfully easy to use those parts in our conversions, we had to make do with basic marines components, kit-bashing, and putty work. Thus the version of Chorazin that appeared in the WD article (and pre-painted photos) is slightly different than the version I took to Games Day later that year. I've always liked the wing-shaped finial-vents on Cypher's backpack - I even had one in my bits bin - but they were a little small for my taste. Thus I intended to fabricate a larger set. I intended, but didn't have time to actually do it before the WD printing deadline. So the initial backpack was simpler. With more time to work and new plastic Dark Angels upgrade kits available, I used two of the vehicle-sized Dark Angels symbols (glued back-to-back) and a bit of putty to make large wing-shaped vents on his new backpack, completing my final vision.
The last picture in the gallery is a small concession to my ego. Some friends and I had commissioned Argentinean artist Nicolàs R. Giacondino to draw something for our paint group and I've kept in touch with him ever since. The Dark Angels promotional efforts that sparked my Chorazin project had Nic wanting to work on something along those lines too. Ever-willing to take advantage of an opportunity, I commissioned this piece. It feels a bit self-aggrandizing, but I really, really like the way it came out - the palette, the composition, the cultist begging for his life with the sign of the aquila... Its worth mentioning that Nic works exclusively in traditional media; primarily pencil and marker, which makes the end result all the more impressive in person. You can see a larger version here.