Abaddon First Captain of the Sons of Horus.

We were born for battle, Khayon. We were made to conquer the galaxy, not to rot in Hell and die upon our brothers’ blades… This is our Imperium. Built across the worlds we burned, over bones we broke, with the blood we shed. You see it too. You feel it now, don’t you? – A new war. One not born of bitterness nor founded on revenge. The long War, Khayon.

Abaddon the Despoiler, The Talon of Horus

This is the capstone to my #returntoistvaan project, the culmination of 2 years of planning, painting, and stress. This collection will be a permanent reminder of the pandemic. The upheaval of this time, the trauma and the achievements.

23rd of March 2020, the British people watched as one as our prime minister gave this statement.

Is this really happening? From this statement on the world has felt one step removed from reality. Like I’ve been watching myself live through this time in the third person. Mandatory lockdown.

Cool. A chance to get some hard-core hobby done. To podcast and spend more time with my family.

The problem with living through a pandemic is that it’s quite traumatic. It doesn’t leave much room for fun! I’ve had friends lose jobs, become sick, hell I suffered long-term covid symptoms up until very recently. And trying to run a small business on top of all this just heaps pressure onto stress points that are unable to manage.

But I don’t mean to be too dour. And what does this have to do with Abaddon?

This hobby has been an escape from reality. A way to conceptualise and even escape the reality of the world, and this project helped a community of like-minded modellers create something. The #returntoisstvan tag has spawned at least a dozen fully painted armies around the world. There’s a charity event planned in the UK that’s already raised £1500 for diabetes research. All from dreaming about little toy soldiers.

Life is strange.

But the model itself…

Representing the elite 1st company Justaerin on the table has been a dream come true. How many times have you read the novels and mentally started a new army? This entire project has been a love letter to the Heresy. The community, sculptors, painters and writers that have all created something so special has been a privilege to be a part of.

The colour key for this project has changed from my usual. I found a new art crush: Patrick J. Jones. I’m obsessed with his colour choices and the use of green to enhance the depth of his pieces. The skin tone for example builds from a base of English uniform and is highlighted with pastel greens. Looking at the colours on the palette and how they work on the miniature has been an unusual experience.

Caravaggio’s skin tones were also heavily on my mind as Abaddon progressed. Young, sick Bacchus in particular had a wonderful palette and luminosity. The sick hunger in the eyes was something I was keen to keep in mind as I painted this miniature. I have no idea if it translated at all, but keeping these concepts in mind find strange bedding in your work.

Abaddon as a character has changed during the course of his life. Is this the key trait to his dominance as a leader? Not his sword that can split reality in half, or a claw that murdered an angel and crippled a god: but the ability to adapt to his circumstances. He changed from a mortal to Astartes, a Luna Wolf to Son of Horus, a first captain to Warmaster of Chaos.

This is a depiction of him at Isstvan III. Full of fury and burning righteousness in his father’s cause. First Captain of the First Legion, if not in name then deed. At this point, he is secure in his world view. Horus is Lord, whatever course of action he takes must be the correct one. During the course of the Heresy, we see his perception of the war change, and how he distances himself from the methods Horus employs during the siege.

Each piece of the model was glazed with green, including the skin and red shoulder pad. This helped keep the piece coherent, even if something in the hindbrain tugged against this. The magenta underglow was used as a contrast to the green used in the skin tone to help draw more attention to it.

It would be remiss of me not to praise the sculpt. Simon Egan is a mast of his trade. There are so many little details, little inflections of character that feel alive when you paint it. I’m an avowed addict of his work, and I hope I was able to partially realise his grim dark aesthetic in the paint job.

So there he is. Abaddon, Lord of the Sons of Horus. A being of endurance, vision, and change. A marker in time for the most unusual of times to have lived through.

If you’d like to see the rest of the Return to Isstvan projects please visit here.

You can also find the full 4K video tutorial for this piece and all other Sons of Horus featured on this page via the link below.

And that’s it for the Sons of Horus. Project complete. I’ll have full army photos up over the next few weeks, but this closing door has left me wistful. What project should I develop next?

Something from 40K or AOS? A break from the norm? A fresh challenge?

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