Recieved an email from Ron at FTW not long ago, with the topic of this month's collaborative post. This time we're going to be talking about how we theme and unify our armies outside of what units are actually in the force.
For me, there's 3 areas we can do this in - Painting, Converting and Basing and I feel all 3 are in my Ork force, but I'll try and chop some other armies in there to spice things up.
The first and most obvious personally is the painting work undertaken on the army - whether it's Eavy Metal, Golden Daemon winning standard, or something as simple as a variant colour scheme.
I'd then say there's 3 sub-categories inside of painting that can define an army theme - Paint Scheme, Painting Method and Colour Palette.
First off, the paint scheme chosen by the player can tell as much of a backstory to knowledgable 40k players as could a 100 word piece of background fluff. From something as simple as the colour your paint your Space Marines, generally signifies their chapter or founding chapter, or what type of Ork clan you wish to play as.
This is my Looted Boom-wagon, painted in lucky Deffskullz blue, to match to rest of my force, showing their heavy focus on looting equipment, vehicles and their general luckiness on the tabletop!
Once you've picked your overall scheme, it then comes to how you paint your army. An honourable Marine or Eldar army will obviously be highly polished, very cleanly layered and highlighted, whereas an army mid-conflict or a grimey evil army will be less cleanly painted and use more washes and drybrushing.
This is my Necron army, the Soul Reavers, who I wanted to look like standard Necrons, however when painting them I used heavy drybrushing to try and emphasise these are ancient robots who've slumbered for a long, long time and awoken. Time has taken it's toll on their shiney steel!
This is one of my Bloodletters from the Daemonhost of Khorne. These guys I wanted to be very quick to paint, but also emphasise their extreme evil and bestial nature with dark colours overwashed by Badab Black. The use of the wash to darken the models makes them look less cartoony and more evil to me.
Another choice in your overall army scheme is the Colour Palette you stick to. I've seen extreme ends of the scale for this, with a Warhammer Fantasy Wood Elf army that was painted in Blues, Greys and pale Browns as a winter theme and it looked amazing. However, just by using a limited palette of specific colours can give such an impression too.
Take my Ork Warboss, who was painted as "How all the rest of his Waagh! should look". By using a pale brown and cream colours for the clothing, I've tried to get the feel like they use really poor fabrics like 41st millenium potato sacks and such, to make them feel more like scavenging Raiders.
Also, I've not used gold on any of my Orks. I figured that a bunch of Looting Raiders would have either spent or lost the gold, so I went for very dark metal colours like battered steel.
The next step players take to theme their armies is converting - which can be something as simple as most of my Ork conversions are, or very heavily converted armies like Traitor Guard armies made from Catachan / Beastmen Hybrids or such.
My Orks, as I've said previously are major Lootas and since most of the time they are fighting Imperial opposition, they tend to loot their leftovers. Things range from small conversion jobs like weapon swaps and "Orkifying", to kit bashing and other conversions.
These are my Meganobz who thought the Beakies had it too good with their Terminator armour, so crumped a bunch of them and cobbled together the left over armour to make Mega Armour. They've also gone for a variety of colours, signifying they've fought lots of different Space Marine chapters in their time.
Themewise for the army, whatever the Orks can't loot they capture various types of Squigs and get them to do the same job! This is a Warbuggy count-as, that the Orks were more than happy to strap some Rokkits to and charge towards the enemy. This gets further reinforced in the army with a Squiggoth that doubles as a Battlewagon and an "Biological" Drednaught.
Back to more simple stuff now with my Lootas who are the poster boys of the force. These have simply had lots of Imperial and Xeno weapons cobbled together to make their Deffgunz, along with some Space Marine backpacks to tie them all together and make it so I can split the unit into 3 small squads of 5.
The final area for this article covers basing the army to tie it all together. Which can be as simple as my basing scheme which I use for all my forces - or more elaborate things like small puddles or swamp areas on bases to show the army is fighting in a marshland style environment, or something like snow basing.
Firstly, I started basing with this method when I used to play Lord of the Rings and first moved into 40k and wanted Urban themed Imperial Guard. I start by using Sand or Gravel (a mix of the two also works well) and then paint this with Chaos Black. Once dry, I do a heavy drybrush of Codex Grey and a second lighter drybrush with Fortress Grey. Then I re-paint the Rim of the base with Chaos Black, before putting patches of Static grass on.
I've continued using this method since then, as I envision all my armies are taking part in the same conflict on an un-named planet in the galaxy which forms the background for all my forces.
That way, when displayed with one another, or fighting each other, they form the basis for further background story on the planet whose Imperial Guard regiments face siege daily from all sides by the Orks, Necrons and Chaos Daemons (and maybe a Zombie or two).
So there you go, unifying and theming your army in 3 easy steps. So try and take this into account when you start a new army, or even add to your existing one.
What do you guys do to unify and theme your armies - and do you have any other tips?