HOW TO PAINT EVERYTHING: Horus Lupercal the Warmaster, Primarch of the Sons of Horus
by Contemptor Kevin Stillman (aka CathexisZero)
When news of the Horus Heresy relaunch box came down, it was accompanied by pictures of Imperial Fists fighting the Sons of Horus. Since I had Rogal Dorn on the painting table at the time, I figured it was a no-brainer to build and paint Horus to lead a rival force. I had already painted some other Sons of Horus/Black Legion units (40K Abaddon, a Contemptor Dreadnought, a Heldrake, and some other stuff), and wanted to keep Horus consistent with that color scheme.
Luckily for me, my Black Legion scheme was flexible enough to serve as a (sort-of) canon Sons of Horus color scheme. So without further ado, let’s get started.
A. Building Horus
Horus turns out to be one of the easier Forge World Primarchs to build, consisting of only a few pieces with some relatively intuitive places. You have Horus’ body, his right arm (with the Talon of Horus), left arm (with Worldbreaker), his cape with part of the wolf pelt, his head, and two sets of pturges – one for his crotch and one for his right arm. For the most part, I kept all of these parts separate for sub-assembly purposes.
Horus also has a scenic base. The 40 mm base is just one big piece, and there’s a little L-shaped connecting piece to hold the 40 mm base to the 60 mm base. The 60 mm scenic base has the main plate, and five parts of the bannister – the rail and four uprights. The “broken” upright goes at the lowest point on the base. The other three uprights all have corresponding damage with parts of the 60 mm base. The slope of the uprights will all have the same orientation, to support the rail. Dry fit all of these parts together first.
I primed everything black except the base, the cape, the two pturges, and Horus’ head. The base and the cape were primed black then primed with grey seer, and the pturges and head were primed with Grey Seer.
B. Painting Horus’ face
I painted Horus’ face shortly after the Warhammer+ video on painting Caucasian skin debuted, and that informed my thinking as to how to paint Horus.
I basecoated Horus’ head with two thin layers of Reaper Kobold Scale, but any reddish-brown will work. I then painted the recesses under the eyes/nose and mouth with Gal Vorbak Red. Gal Vorbak Red is a purple/red, and works well as a shadow color to the reddish-brown of Kobold Scale. Then, I did two glazes of Bugman’s glow. The first glaze was painted all over. The second glaze layer was painted just on the raised areas, leaving the GV Red and Kobold Scale just in the recesses. From there, I slowly layered up to Cadian Fleshtone, and then a blend of Cadian Fleshtone and Pallid Witch Flesh for the most prominent areas of his head.
I then dotted his eyes with my trusty Micron Pen, and viola!
C. Painting Horus’ power armor
For me, at least, painting Horus’ armor was similar to if I painted 40K Guilliman’s power armor in Abaddon’s colors. There is a lot of subtle sculpted detail on the armor. To that end, drybrushing was a very good friend to help me make sure the armor detail became visible.
After priming black, I painted the model in Abaddon Black. This way, it would have the same finish as the rest of my Black Legion/Sons of Horus stuff. I then gave the model a drybrush of Lupercal Green. I gave correspondingly lighter drybrushes with Sons of Horus Green, Death Guard Green, and ultimately Ulthuan Grey (using the same drybrush, to make the Ulthuan Grey a light green-grey). This let me see all the detail in the armor, and better plan what to do next.
For all the armor trim, I used Retributor Armor. I wound up using Retributor Armor to paint the bas relief of the eagle and the wolf on his armor. All the gold was washed with Guilliman Flesh straight from the pot, and then very lightly drybrushed to give some of it’s luster back. The Guilliman Flesh wash helps contribute to the somewhat sickly/corrupt look of the armor. Chains, pistons, and cables on the mini were given a layer of Iron Warriors and then Scale75 Thrash Metal.
The Luna Wolves symbols was painted with VGC Wolf Grey, and shaded with Secret Weapon Miniatures (RIP) Soft Black Wash. The cresent of the moon was then painted with Yriel Yellow.
The ribbed undersuit was painted with Dawnstone, and then shaded with soft black wash.
The armor was then neatened up with Abaddon Black over the flatter areas or anywhere where paint overspilled. This gives the armor a clean-yet-sickly look to represent Horus’ increasing damnation.
The eyes of Horus were painted with a thin glaze of Khorne Red, a second thin glaze on the top 85% of the eye with Khorne Red, and then progressively brighter red-to-yellow getting higher on the eye.
At this point, I attached both arms to the main body. This would make it easier to paint the weapons.
The Talon of Horus was painted alongside the rest of the armor, though the claws were painted silver. I then added Blood for the Blood God on the ends of each talon, to represent him mortally wounding The Emperor and the Imperium in his lust for power.
Worldbreaker was painted in Thrash Metal, and then given a wash of Cryptic Armorshade Gloss in the recesses at the top of the mace. I then rehighlighted the ridges of the mace with Thrash Metal. The grip was washed with Secret Weapon Miniatures Armor Wash, and the notches were painted with Snakebite Leather.
Incidentally, Horus has a little aquila hidden on his left greave. This I painted Retributor and then washed with Druchii Violet, representing the little bit of his soul that was still loyal to The Emperor (and the wound left by Russ/Sanguinius (take yer pick).
D. Painting the leather bits
I gave these two layers of Mournfang brown, and then a highlight of a blend of Mournfang Brown and Wraithbone. I then washed them with Snakebite Leather, and attached them to the model. I dotted the studs with Stormhost Silver, and the metal janglies hanging off his crotch leather with Runelord Brass. The latter receive a quick coat of Cryptic Armourshade Gloss.
E. Horus’ Cape (“cloth” section)
Horus’ Cape is, in my view, the most challenging bit of this model. There are many subtle folds and taut parts, and overhanging this is the wolfy bits that you will likely want a seperate color.
I painted the whole cape Gal Vorbak Red, with two thin coats. I then layered up with Khorne Red, a blend of Khorne Red and Mephiston Red, Mephiston Red, and then a last highlight of a blend of Mephiston Red and Averland Sunset.
The gold trim on the cape was painted with Retributor, and washed with Druchii Violet to help reassert the purple-ish shadows of the cape. The eyes were painted with Lupercal Green, washed with Contrast Militarum Green, and then given a yellow stripe through them.
I then attached the cape to the rest of the model.
F. Horus’ Wolf
The Wolf, at this point for me, was two different colors – a dark grey up top, and a lighter grey at the bottom. I sought to unify these colors by giving them both a light drybrush of Fenrisian Grey and then Wolf Grey. The whole assembly was then carefully coated with Contrast Space Wolves Grey, to give it a look much different from the rest of the model. The “bone bits” of the dangling skulls, teeth, and claws were painted with Screaming Skull, and then washed with Skeleton Horde.
G. Horus’ base (display and gaming)
After having given this base something of a zenithal prime, I washed the intact “marble” bits of the stone with varying black shades – Nuln Oil, Soft Black Wash, a few thin coats of Basillicanum Grey. I then lightly drybrushed Celestra Grey over the entire base, and Corax White over the marble bits. This left a lot of the darker shaded bits exposed, giving it something of a very worn marble look. The powdered rubble bits were painted with Space Wolves Grey and Nuln Oil, to unify it with my other Black Legion/Sons of Horus stuff. Likewise, the Space Marine paldrons buried in the rubble were given a thinned down shade of Basillicanum Grey and Iyanden Yellow to mark them out as Imperial Fists (1) The trim was painted with Vallejo Black Metal and Black Templar. The base was then rimmed with Black Templar.
And we’re done!