In our How to Paint Everything series, we take a look at different armies of the Warhammer universe, examine their history and heraldry, and look at several different methods for painting them. Previously in the Fists of Fury, Alfredo examined the Imperial Fists. Today we look at their religious zealot stepsons, the Black Templars.
Part 2 – The Black Templars
Who Are The Black Templars?
The Black Templars are a successor chapter of the Imperial Fists. When Guilliman decreed that the legions would be split into smaller chapters, Dorn nearly rebelled but eventually consented and so the First Company, already known as the Templar Brethren, became the Black Templars.
While all Space Marines are the military enforcers of a massive fascist empire, Black Templars are this while also being massive religious zealots! Unlike most other Space Marines, Black Templars actually believe the Emperor to be a god and venerate him much like the Imperial Cult does (good job Lorgar!), which I suppose makes them more knightly. They completely ignore the Codex Astartes and rather than 10 100-man companies, the Black Templars are a massive (up to 6000 marines?) chapter composed of roving Crusades that travel the stars shining the Emperor’s Light on filthy xenos and heretics. Basically, their whole schtick is being Knights Templar (or Hospitaller) but in SPACE. And frankly, it’s pretty cool and lends itself to heroic charges, chivalric nonsense and a fun mix of medieval imagery and sci-fi trappings.
The Black Templars are led by a High Marshall (AKA chapter master) and the first of these was Captain Sigismund of the Imperial Fists.
Sigismund was a total badass and said to be the greatest duelists among the Space Marines. He fought a lot of dudes, hung out with the World Eaters a lot, stole their tradition of chaining their weapons to their arms, and was generally a consummate fighter. To illustrate just how cool Sigismund was, these were his last words: You will die as your weakling father died. Soulless. Honourless. Weeping. Ashamed.
As a crusading chapter, the Black Templars have been all over the place but one of their more famous campaigns is the Third War of Armageddon, fighting the PrimOrk himself, Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka. Three full crusades, that included High Marshall Helbrecht and Chaplain Grimaldus, fought in this campaign and there were lots of heroic charges, knightly vows and last stands. It seems the Black Templars die in droves so it’s good they are bigger than your average chapter.
Where To Read More
Unlike their parents, Black Templars actually get a fair few words written about them in the fiction, and some of it is even good! A good start is probably War for Armageddon: The Omnibus, which is packed full of content and in particular contains several fantastic stories by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, including Helsreach, which is particularly great and focuses on Chaplain Grimaldus in a last stand against Orks. Guy Haley is also pretty good and has a short story collection called Crusaders of Dorn all about the Black Templars.
Black Templars even have two graphic novels written by Dan Abnett (some of the first 40K fiction I ever consumed) called Damnation Crusade and Exterminatus.
Playing Black Templars
Space Marines are good in Kill Team! And with Elites giving you all sorts of melee options via veterans, you can make a pretty thematic Black Templar Kill Team that hits pretty hard across the board. The ability to re-roll charges applies to all your models and that can be quite handy as well and combined with the small board size of Kill Team, you can feel confident you’ll get your models into combat reliably.
Black Templars fare less well in 40K. We’ve noted before that they don’t really follow the codex, so there are some quirks to their army composition without getting the full treatment of Blood Angels or what have you. Like in Kill Team, their Chapter Tactic allows them to re-roll charges, which frankly just isn’t as good for Marines in 40k as it is in Kill Team. Additionally, they are unable to field Librarians (which is kind of a big deal!) because even though they say "fuck you" to Guilliman’s Codex, apparently the Council of Nikea must be followed to the letter. On the Small Marine side, their troop choice is Crusader Squads, which are essentially mixed units of Scouts and Tactical Marines that can get very big.
Vigilus Defiant introduced a specialist detachment for the Black Templars but it also sucks. The Sword Brethren detachment applies to Champions, Captains and Veterans and essentially unlocks access to a 5+ FNP stratagem and a 2CP +1 Attack and Re-Roll Wounds stratagem. You do also get a Holy Hand Grenade, which is admittedly pretty cool. Overall though, you’ll be hard pressed to make use of this detachment or even get it into combat to leverage its abilities.
Space Marines also seem good here! Aside from general Space Marine goodness, the flexibility of the Apocalypse detachment system (similar to 40K but crucially different in that it doesn’t tie a crucial resource like CP to detachments) means you can easily splash in a Black Templar detachment and take advantage of their unique command assets. Those assets do what you’d expect, with the psychic power-squashing Suffer Not Witches to Live (a 36" 2+ deny), or another which enhances their melee prowess by giving an entire detachment extra attacks.
Painting Black Templars
A Note on Heraldry
As mentioned earlier, Black Templars are notably non-compliant when it comes to the Codex Astartes. As such, their heraldry is quite unique. Since they eschew the traditional battle company and squad formation of codex chapters, these types of markings are not present on their armor. Instead, shoulder pad color combinations denote rank and squad type within a crusade.
Since Templars are loosely grouped into Crusades instead of companies, these are denoted on the armor through a Crusade Badge, which tends to be a heraldic badge in some combination of white, red and black (you can see an example on Castellan Evrard below). This might be placed on a kneepad, tilting shield or on one of the greaves.
Another heraldic detail, which you can see in SRM’s Marshall below, is the painting of the Templar cross in white over the helmet faceplate. It’s a pretty striking effect and looks great on models you want to make stand out.
And of course, like their Imperial Fist brethren, you can’t go wrong with checkers. Again, some combination of red, white and black are all pretty common and can add a nice bit of color or decoration to your otherwise monochrome marines.
My Way: Castellan Evrard
For Castellan Evrard, I started with the new Primaris Lieutenant from Wake the Dead. The striding pose with sword held aloft really fits the Black Templars and is reminiscent of the Emperor’s Champion model. I replaced the gun arm with a power fist from the Black Templar upgrade sprue and also used a head and back banner from that set.
I was reading Spears of the Emperor by Aaron Dembski-Bowden while working on this model and it inspired me to go with an aged and worn look on the banner and white on the model to help convey the desperate struggle the Space Marines fight.
- First the airbrushing. I primed the shoulder pads and back banner white and everything else black. I left the black primer as my darkest shadows and then hit it from above with Vallejo Air Color Black Grey and Vallejo Air Color Blue Grey to add a fair bit of highlights. As you can see, it’s greyed out the model a fair bit but we will correct this later. For the power sword I used a few Vallejo Air Color metal colors to get a gradient and then sprayed it with Tamiya Clear Blue for a nice candy-coated effect. I’ve experimented with a number of power weapon effects and ultimately this is what I like most. While not shown here, I sprayed the back banner and shoulders with Vallejo Air Color Burnt Umber and then Vallejo Air Color Aged White to get a nice warm off-white base for these surfaces (you can see it down below).
- Then just basecoat everything else. I went with Scale75 Viking Gold for the gold areas because I wanted a dark reddish gold, staying in the black/red/white palette. I also did a bit of freehand on the left kneepad to make a crusade badge and add a bit of visual interest.
- As before, I gloss coated the mini and then hit it with a very dark oil wash (a mix of black and burnt umber) applied over all the recesses as well as pure burnt umber on the gold, leather and bone areas.
- Edge highlighting! For the black I highlighted every edge with Vallejo Model Color Field Blue and then upward facing edges with Vallejo Model Color Blue Grey. Then I dotted corners with a cool off-white. I also made a thin black glaze using ink and applied to all the army to darken it back down and get it to read black. I probably could have applied highlights more sparingly at the beginning and avoided this but I like the effect of the glaze quite a bit. At this point I also started weathering the legs with pigments and applied a final matte coat. You can see here how I use masking putty to protect parts of the model from the varnish since I didn’t want to lose the gloss on the blade. Not shown is some final sponge weathering with a dirty silver to get a chipped and battle-worn look across the model.
For the back banner, I made use of oils’ fun properties to get a really worn and dirty look. I started with my off-white basecoat and then applied oils all over. I let it dry overnight and then came back and re-thinned the paint with white spirits and a q-tip to clean up the surface while still giving it a grimy look.
And the finished model:
Painting Black Templars with Contrast: The RichyP Methods
Alfredo’s Note: Once again RichyP has graced us with a Contrast tutorial that gives fantastic results in a small fraction of the time the prior method would take.
Step 0: Primer
Spray prime the model Chaos Black, it’s a Black Templar, this is the one occasion I’ll use Black Primer.
Step 1: Drybrushing
Give the whole model a heavy drybrush of Eshin Grey.
Step 2: Nuln Oil + Highlight 1
Wash the model with a 1:1 Mix of Nuln Oil + Contrast Medium. Also after this has dried, give the model a liberal layering of Dawnstone, on flat surfaces apply a large layer and on the hard edges run the brush along them to get a rough highlight.
Step 3: Administratum Grey Highlights
Apply some Administratum Grey highlights inside the previous ones, focusing on upper edges and the centre of flat areas.
Step 4: White
On the upper most edges, centre of eyes and on the chest eagle apply a coat of VMC White. Also a dot on the feet, and sharpest edges will give a more shiny effect to the black.
Step 5: Something other than Black
Paint the parchments and shoulder pads in Wraithbone, and the seals and eyes in Mephiston Red. Wash all these bits in Seraphim Sepia.
Step 6: Finishing Touches
Paint the metals in VMA Gunmetal, wash the chest eagle and metals in Drakenhoff Nightshade. Cover up any flat areas with some random text scrawl using Administratum Grey. (I also did some black and red scrawl in various places to break up the model a bit).
Blood for the Blood God on the chainsword to add a bit of additional red to the model.
Black Templars: The SRM Way
Alfredo’s Note: SRM paints some fantastic Black Templar and I had the pleasure of playing against this army in person at Adepticon this year. The Teeth of Terra Captain shown below is particularly fantastic and really captures the knightly character of the Black Templars. You’ll note that SRM’s approach to white is in stark contrast to the prior two methods. While RichyP and I both used a warm off-white to contrast the black, SRM has gone with a clean and cool white that gives the miniatures a whole different feel. Even when you are painting something as seemingly "simple" as black and white, there are lots of choices that will make the scheme your own.
Painting my Templars is extremely simple, because I started the army to clear out my backlog of unloved plastic from the Obama administration. From a black primer base, I paint the model with P3 Thamar Black. Somehow 2019 GW has gotten yellow, red, and white down, but lost black with good coverage in the process. You might think it’s silly to paint over black with black, but it means a more uniform finish and you can cover up mistakes, which is key. I follow that up with an edge highlight of Dark Reaper, then pick out the very corners and sharp edges with Fenrisian Grey. Dark Reaper and Fenrisian Grey are both greys with a good amount of blue in them, which give the armor a clean, polished look with a slightly cool tone. Finally, and this is key, I clean up the splotches and screwups with Thamar Black again to make it look like I can actually do a fine edge highlight.
As for the white, I use 2-3 coats of Ulthuan Grey just straight over the black. Some folks would recommend Celestra Grey first but Ulthuan does it well enough. Once I get an even finish, I hit the recesses with thinned Nuln Oil then highlight up with White Scar. A cleanup pass of Ulthuan and they’re good to go. I do the handles of my weapons with a more grey black, using Eshin Grey then Dawnstone to give a more sterile look. Contrasting multiple types of black on a model is a really neat trick, and one I did a lot more of on my Ultramarine Phobois.
Eye lenses are just Khorne Red followed by Mephiston Red, Evil Sunz Scarlet, and Fire Dragon Bright getting towards the center of the face. I dot the back with White Scar.
Metallics are all just my standard recipes. For silver it’s Leadbelcher with Nuln Oil all over then a Stormhost Silver highlight, and for gold a Retributor Armour base, Reikland Fleshshade wash in the recesses, and Stormhost Silver highlight. If I’m feeling fancy I’ll toss a Liberator Gold highlight in before the silver, but you won’t generally notice the difference.
Unlike their more sedate parents, Black Templars are extremely cool! They have a striking, and easier to paint, color scheme and lots of interesting characters and stories to explore. If you’re looking for a knightly focused army that isn’t lame (which is to say the Dark Angels), you can’t go wrong with Black Templars (aside from their lacklustre rules but you didn’t pick Space Marines to win tournaments). There’s also plenty of Black Library fiction to keep you engaged as you paint your army, and that is always a huge plus.
Join us next time for our final installment where we look at the coolest successor Chapter of them all, and the original Marines, the Crimson Fists!