Archive for keepers of the eternal garden

State of the Hunt, Week 52/2018: Going viral

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Fluff, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2018 by krautscientist

First of all, I hope everyone’s had a very merry Christmas! For my part, I have been far too lazy – AGAIN! -, spending most of my time eating, sleeping, catching up with the family and obsessively making my way through God of War for the Playstation 4. Still, I do have a new post to share with you — even if it’s just an intermession before the next part of this year’s Eternal Hunt Awards — the truth is, I mostly wanted to make sure the models I want to share with you today are counted for Azazel’s “Dauntless-Diabolical-December” community challenge. I do realise I am bending the rules of the challenge a bit, but if nothing else, these models are certainly rather diabolical (and maybe also a little dauntless?!). So what is this about?

One of the hobby projects that didn’t take off this year quite the way I had hoped was my work on some Death Guard models: I’ve been sitting on a – small – Death Guard army ever since fellow hobbyist BubblesMcBub let me have most of the Nurglite models from the Dark Imperium box, and while I have done lots of conversions here and there, the army really hasn’t started to materialise yet.

Maybe a part of the problem was that I was still lacking an underlying concept, an intellectual handhold on the whole project, so to speak. Like most chaos players, I have a huge fondness for Nurgle, because it’s just brilliant fun to experiment with decay, rot, body horror — the whole works ūüėČ

But it was always difficult for me to envision the Death Guard and Nurgle’s servants as actual characters, rather than a mere concept. What is their end-game? Do they still think at all? Or are they too far gone already, due to their many “gifts”? I just couldn’t quite wrap my head around it all.

But then several sources of inspiration helped me tremendously. One was Chris Wraight’s novel “The Lords of Silence”, chronicling the exploits of the eponymous Death Guard warband and providing a very cool look at the interior workings of the legion. Even more importantly, it explores the Death Guard mindset in what often seems like a couple of throwaway lines:

“Golkh limps. One of his legs is wasted away within its armour-shell, yet still supports his considerable bulk. The bones are shot to powder, the muscles are a stringy mess, and yet he still walks. Such mysteries.”

This short passage perfectly encapsulates a pretty cool angle on the Death Guard legionnaires: their stoicism, their grim acceptance of their various “gifts”, but also their bemused wonder at their own existence and the extent of their corruption.

Anthony Reynold’s Word Bearers short story “Vox Dominus” was another invaluable source: The Death Guard makes an appearance here, and without giving too much away, the story provides a perfect explanation for the jolliness of Nurgle’s servants: They are basically laughing at the giant joke they alone are in on. That the galaxy’s ultimate fate will be to become a part of Nurgle’s realm, a fate they tirelessly work to make a reality:

‚ÄúThe Blightwood grows!‚ÄĚ

Which made me come right back to a concept DexterKong originally came up with for for our shared Velsen Sector adventurescape: That of¬† a Nurglite cult, the “Cult of the Eternal Garden”, as it were, operating from a Daemon World called “The Compost” and trying to spread their decay throughout the sector. Anthony Reynold’s story basically gave me the missing link between those early ideas and the Garden of Nurgle: What if the cult’s operatives wanted to bring about realspace manifestations of a realm they refer to as ‚ÄúThe Blightwood‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúThe Eternal Garden‚ÄĚ and that is, in fact, Nurgle’s Garden? Maybe their entire mission began with *teehee* a “freak gardening accident”, in that it was the result of a mutated genetic strain originally designed to wield bigger crops or hasten the growth cycle of Imperial agri-worlds, yet all it did was to plunge plant and animal life on the planet into a perpetual pandemonium of decay, death and rebirth, turning it into a perfect conduit for the Eternal Garden.

The members of the cult want to be like ‚Äúgardeners‚ÄĚ for the sector: Like a gardener prunes the branches of trees and shapes the garden, so do they want to shape the sector. There may be all kinds of tools at their disposal, from hazardous substances and plague germs to plants bearing the original mutated strain of genes that brought the Compost to its current state. One of the cult‚Äôs most powerful weapons, then, would be their attempt to let their twisted and warp tainted plants take root in the soil of other worlds (to transform them into hellscapes on par with the Compost). They would be eco-terrorists turned up to eleven, if you will.

This provided me with a whole angle of modeling and painting ideas: Seeing how the cult may have originated within some kind of Imperial research institution, cult members would be wearing the remains of hazmat suits, medicae gowns and lab coats. At the same time, their armament and mutations could also be used to represent their self-chosen fate as Nurgle’s gardeners.

What’s more, the project could really start out as an INQ28 warband, allowing me to explore some ideas, and ultimately spiral outwards into a 40k kill team — or even an entire Death Guard army, possibly?

Thus invigorated, I began experimenting on the first members of the (slightly renamed) Keepers of the Eternal Garden:

First up, I had some fun with a Poxwalker, because I realised that the project really hinged about making stuff like the skin and mutationst look suitably disgusting. And I found a pretty nice recipe that uses lots of washes to achieve the intended effect, which also turns it into a fairly quick affair: My first test model was finished after 45 minutes to an hour, tops:



The skin is mostly my usual skin recipe (Rakarth Flesh, washed with Ogryn Flesh, then a selective application of Druchii Violet and Carroburg Crimson), only turned up to eleven. The horns were washed with Athonian Camoshade. The boils and blisters were picked out in Yriel Yellow, then covered in thinned-down (!) Clear Red/Blood for the Blood God. Oh, and I painted the pants orange to suggest the remains of a hazmat suit, as mentioned above — of course I would be remiss not to mention the fact that the look also borrows a lot from the Infected from the Lesotho 2-12 project.

Anyway, working on this first model was so much fun that I kept painting the next two test models. Here’s what I had after a while:


In the picture, the three models are at different steps of the painting process: The guy on the left is all but finished, the one in the middle still needs some detail work, while the Plague Bearer has only been washed. At the same time, they also form different steps in the (d)evolution from a human cult member/cult victim to an undying servant of Nurgle (and also, a living incarnation of the Blightwood), as horrible branches start to erupt from the victim’s body, an actual manifestation of the Eternal Garden made flesh.

So here are the next two test models, fully finished:



As you can see, the first model is still wearing the last tattered scraps of a medicae gown…

For the Plague Bearer, I actually wanted to experiment with using a fairly organic skin colour, mostly to make him look like the nect evolutionary step for the cult members — something that I believe is already hinted at rather strongly by some of the design cues on the Poxwalker models:


I might tweak the skin tone a bit or experiment with slightly different hues on future Plague Bearers, though.

I am currently working on the next batch of Poxwalkers. Another ten have already been assembled/converted, while I have about another half-dozen still on sprue.


Nearly all of these have been tweaked in some way: In some cases, this just meant twisting some arms a bit or turning a head here and there, to support the already rather contorted, spastic look of the stock models.

In other cases, the changes are a bit more involved:


As you can see, some of the Poxwalkers are now wielding what looks like gardening implements, as an attempt to tie them into the cult’s overall theme (while also giving them a somewhat sinister medieval vibe). The middle guy takes the concept of branches erupting from the infected body to its logical conclusion — there’s probably a daemonic relative of Ophiocordyceps Unilateralis at work here (and I couldn’t resist incorporating some of the inspiration I had taken from The Last of Us).

And since the cult’s activities have managed to attract some attention – or maybe they were being fostered from within the Great Eye in the first place – I also chose to use this as a reason to finally get some paint on those Blightking-based Plague Marines I converted all the way back in 2014, when the Putrid Blightkings were originally released. It felt good to finally give those poor guys some much-deserved attention, and I chose one of them as a test model.

I used my previously established Death Guard recipe, with just a small tweak or two (including the thinned-down Clear Red). The first picture shows the model just after washes:

And here’s the finished model:



I actually surprised myself by painting the tanks on the Plague Marine’s back bright orange — but it’s really a rather good way of creating a shared visual identity between him and the cult members:


And here are the models together, in what may become the germ cell, as it were, of an eventual warband, kill team or Death Guard army:


Oh, and the “new” Plague Marine also works rather well alongside the kitbashed Plague Marine testers I converted shortly before Dark Imperium was released last summer:

As you may already have realised, all of these models are still missing proper bases — this isn’t due to my laziness (or maybe just a little), but rather because it took me a rather long time to come up with a proper idea for a basing approach. Ultimately, I wanted to incorporate the visual motif of Nurgle’s Garden/the Blightwood, only I didn’t quite know how to go about it. Until I saw DuskRaider’s Renegade Knight Irae Throni, with its bold use of colour:

Model built and painted by DuskRaider

Which made me think of the Sea of Corruption, a poisonous yet strangely beautiful ecosystem that appears in Studio Ghibli’s Nausica√§ of the Valley of the Wind:


And I would actually love to achieve something like that with my basing. It’s a fairly involved, ambitious plan, however, and one that will take a bit more time to set in motion — certainly a project for the coming year…

Speaking of which, Nurgle is, of course, all about death and rebirth — what better subject to cap off this year’s blogging, wouldn’t you agree? So let me wish you all a Happy New Year, and I’ll be seeing you shortly with the next installment of the Eternal Hunt Awards, a look back at my hobby year!

Until then, I would love to hear any feedback you might have! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!