Monday, August 11, 2014

Knight Fever

 Hey everyone, KrautScientist here. Seeing how TJ's latest posts have been focused on Knights and similar superheavy walkers, I thought I'd ride the same wave and talk about converting Imperial Knights to Chaos.

Having worked on my own Chaos Knight conversion recently, I have put a fair bit of thought into the business of building Knights to fight for the ruinous powers -- and it would certainly make lots of sense to make you dear readers profit from the research I did for my own project, right? Thought so! Now if you would step this way, please...

Let me start with a confession: Although I originally purchased the Imperial Knight kit fairly shortly after his release, I left it untouched for a rather long time. The prospect of working on such a huge kit just seemed too daunting for me. One thing I did know was that I wanted my Knight to be an ally to my World Eaters (let's not get into rule discussions here, btw: This project was started for modeling and painting reasons, above all else). So the best possible approach was to trawl the forums and blogs, looking for people who had already blazed a trail when it came to Chaos Knights.

To tell you the truth, my research on the matter was almost ridiculously thorough. The following post, likewise, will also be particularly wordy. Let me apologise for that in advance! ;) Hopefully, though, I will be able to point you towards many very useful resources and some truly kick-ass blogs, so it might all be worth it, in the end.

I. Research

Fortunately enough, when I started planning out my Chaos Knight conversions, some very talented people had already tested the waters with their own versions. So let me share the conversions that were the most helpful and inspiring for my own project, in no particular order:

Chaos Knight by GuitaRasmus:

Is it any wonder that the ever-inspirational GuitaRasmus would have done something with the Knight model? As per his usual standard, his kitbash is superb -- if only he would revisit that model and finish it...

Check out GuitaRasmus's amazing work here.

Khornate Knight by Troy:

One of the earliest Chaos Knight conversions to surface in my research, yet one of the first to make my jaw hit the floor. Troy has very much gone for shock and awe tactics here, building an enormous effigy of the Blood God. While my own Knight wound end up going a slightly different route, Troy's Knight taught me that converting a model like this is a no holds barred affair: It's got to be all or nothing for a centrepiece like this!

More pictures of this beast are available here.

Chaos Knights by InsanePsychopath:

Never one to settle for piecemeal conversions, InsanePsychopath (owner of the very impressive 5th Grand Company of the Iron Warriors) did not build one, but two Chaos Knights. The first one, pictured above, goes for the same basic "Warshrine on top" construction as Troy's Khornate Knight, but manages to take it up to eleven.

InsanePsychopath's second Knight turned out a little more restrained - ostensibly for greater ease of transport - but not necessarily worse for it:

Check out InsanePsychoptath's excellent WIP thread here.

Chaos Knight by greg0985:

Out of the first round of Chaos Knights I saw online, this was actually the one that finally made me want to work on my own model: Tackling an enormous model like a Knight had seemed like such a daunting task before, but greg0985's inspired kitbash contained just enough bitz I recognised to make it all seem at least a bit more manageable.

greg0985's thread further detailing his work on his Knight can be found here.

Daemon Knight by skrundle87

skrundle87's thread over at the Bolter and Chainsword is a repository of excellent and terrifying daemon engines, and his Daemon Knight is no exception: A former Imperial Knight now housing the spirit of some vile warp entity or other, this monster is a hideous amalgamation of brass, adamantium and daemonic flesh. Even though I knew I wanted my own Knight to be more or less completely non-mutated, skrundle's model was still an awesome source of inspiration, and one that I nabbed quite a few ideas from. Here are some additional pictures:

Just check out the daemon's fleshy back breaking through the Knight's carapace here. Ewww...

And here's a picture of the Daemon Knight next to skrundle's - equally impressive - daemonic Dreadknight conversion:

I think we can all agree that this models are absolutely bonkers. So quickly head over to skrundle87's B&C thread here for more of this stuff!

DarkApostleXVII's Word Bearers Knight:

A fairly recent addition to the ranks of fallen Knights, DarkApostle's model nevertheless shows a great combination of subtle conversion touches and some highly effective painting. Just check out the freehands in corrupted binary code!

DarkApostleXVII's WIP thread can be found here.

Chaos Knight by Nithril:

Another fairly recent conversion, Nithril's model gets cooler and cooler the longer you look at it: Though the conversion seems very subtle at first glance, the model has been far more heavily modified than is immediately obvious. Plus some of those changes to the standard Knight are just so good that I had to try and emulate them, even though my own conversion was already mostly finished when I discovered this model.

Maybe the most awesome idea about Nithril's conversion is the use of a Blood Slaughterer lower jaw for the Knight's face. Just check out how evil it looks!

Apart from his Knight, Nithril also has some very awesome Warpsmiths and Chaos Sorcerers on show! Check out his thread here.

Further inspiration...

The Knights posted above were my main inspiration when it came to building my own Knight. But during my research, I came across a couple of additional models that I want to share with you:

First up, these two pictures that I nabbed from Pinterest -- they originally came from the Facebook page of a GW store, I believe:

As you can see creative use of parts from several chaos kits can be a brilliant way of kitbashing truly outstanding Chaos Knights, whether you're using Heldrake parts for a Tzeentchian Knight,...

or parts from the WFB Chaos Chariot as armour for a Nurglite one.

Speaking of which, both the 40k and WFB chaos catalogue is chock full of amazing conversion bitz for a Chaos Knight: From the various daemon engines to the WFB Warshrine of Chaos (which should probably be called the "Chaos Knight conversion set" at this point), there are so many ways of making a truly convincing fallen Knight! Just let your imagination rund wild here!

There's also this Khornate Knight by Monstroy which may just win the first price in the best paintjob of everything ever category:

Check out the accompanying thread (with lots of amazing chaos conversions) here.

Another model I found extremely helpful was this Black Templar Knight by Nicorex:

Not a Traitor Knight, of course -- quite the opposite! But the model taught me how various bitz and bobs could be used to create raised detail on the Knight's various armour plates, giving me a chance to find something to replace those huge loyalist decals on my own model:

Check out Nicorex's thread here.

Oh, and no conversation about building and painting Knight models would ever be complete without mentioning Jeff Tibbett's amazingly thorough thread! It has has been a constant help, and his brilliant painting techniques should prove supremely helpful when (IF!) I ever get around to painting my own Knight model.

II. Inner values

So, I had lots and lots of inspiration when it came to build the Knight's body. But there was a nagging feeling that I was missing something:

During my research, I came across several hobbyists who had built an interior for their Knights, customising the model's - entirely hollow - torso to accomodate a pilot and/or engine. And while I initially dismissed this as too much work to be worth it, every Knight interior that I saw slowly eroded my stance on the matter. After all, I was only ever going to build one of these guys, right? So I decided that my Knight would need an interior as well -- as a matter of fact, this would allow me to feature an actual model for the pilot, which would be a great chance at fleshing out the character!

Another round of research provided me with some ridiculously awesome designs for Knight cockpits. Take a look:

Knight cockpit by John Stiening:

Probably the most accomplished cockpit design I found was the one created by John Stining -- I mean, just look at it: It's perfect! If anything, it looks even more impressive when seen as part of the whole model:

I can only recommend you head over to his very inspiring blog and check out his Knight model in more detail -- if only to realise, as I have, that you could never realistically come up with something quite as awesome...

But Pandora's Box had been opened, and so I searched for Knight cockpits that were closer to something that could be achieved via my preferred method: kitbashing.

Knight cockpit by Spamus:

And then I came across Spamus's Knight cockpit, made entirely from stock GW parts, and I was blown away! Not only was this an awesome solution, but it also seemed achievable with a bit of patience (and some hunting for bitz). Brilliantly build around a Sentinel pilot and a couple of Space Marine vehicle parts, Spamus's cockpit still remains one of my favourites!

I really love the look created by the many, many displays, and I hope I can recreate something similarly cool when painting my own cockpit. The one thing that I wanted to change for my own approach was to give the cockpit a slightly less workmanlike feel: I imagined my Knight Captain as more of a Titan Princeps than a regular pilot. Still, if not for this brilliant project, I might never have bit the bullet and attempted to build my own cockpit!

Spamus's thread is here.

Knight Cockpit by Eberious:

Spamus had the look down almost perfectly, but it was Eberious's cockpit that featured the more regal, dignified type of pilot I was after. So between the two designs, I finally figured out what I wanted my own cockpit to look like. Another thing that is pretty much perfect on Eberious's model is the use of a shaved down Land Raider interior panel as an engine block: I loved this idea so much that I simply stole it wholesale ;)

Check out Eberious's thread here.

III. My own Knight

So, with all of this research under my belt, I was feeling intimidated by so much excellence and hugely inspired at the same time -- it was time to get to work!

When I finally started working on my own Knight, the first thing I realised was that it's an extremely well planned kit, with extremely concise instructions -- my fear of working on a model of this size couldn't have been more any more unfounded! The ease with which the kit went together also meant that it was fairly easy to add my own, chaotic touches as I went along. drawing from the various sources of inspiration, I was able to finally come up with my very own Chaos Knight. You already saw a first sneak peek at the top of this post ;)

Funnily enough, though, the first thing I built for this project was not actually the Knight, but this guy:

Knight Captain Harrowthorne, the pilot for my own Chaos Knight: You’d be amazed by how detailed his backstory is — it was what made me purchase this kit in the first place, to be honest, and after seeing so many hobbyists building pilots for their knights, I knew there was not easy way out of this for me.

Now the obvious thing to do would have been to build a completely mutated pilot fused to its machine, right? But in keeping with the rest of my CSM force, I decided that Baron Harrowthorne would remain surprisingly untainted in body (if not in spirit). Let me just give you the gist of his backstory:

Harrowthorne sided with the World Eaters during the Heresy because he felt he owed them a debt of honour for the liberation of his homeworld. That honourable decision, however, cost him dearly as he became a traitor, to his own world as well as to the Imperium at large. His rivals back at home took also this chance to wipe out his entire house and its ancestral holdings, putting themselves in power in his stead.

Beside himself with grief, Harrowthorne returned to his world to seek revenge (and presumably his own death). The World Eaters accompanied him and made sure he got the revenge part, at least. Afterwards, his world lay in ruins and everything that was important to him had been destroyed — except for his honour, ironically enough — being damned by your own sense of honour is a bit of a running theme for my World Eaters, in case you hadn’t noticed… Anyway, Harrowthorne was still seething with fury at an Imperium that held a thing like personal honour in so little regard, so he kept following the 4th assault company, fighting with them during the siege of Terra, his only wish to see the world burn.

The 4th assault company made him into a honorary member of the XIIth legion, to give him a new home and band of brothers, so to speak. Ever since, he has been hunting alongside the 4th: In his opinion, all servants of the Throne of Lies deserve to die…

Anyway, here’s a closer look at the Baron:

I decided that it would be awesome if a noble like Baron Harrowthorne were to actually sit on his Throne Mechanicum with an air of authority and majesty instead of looking like a pilot from a mecha animé. I was also particularly inspired by this particular Titan princeps. Plus I have this picture in the back of my head of Harrowthorne laying waste to an entire Imperial army, and then the last thing his opponents see is a transmission of his gaunt, utterly emotionless face when he tells them, in a deadly calm voice: “Pray to your false Emperor. Perhaps he may yet save you.” before cutting contact and obliterating them.

The model itself consists of half the cockpit section of a Space Marine Landspeeder, while the Baron was built using a mix of Cadian and Tempestus Scion bitz. The legs came from the kneeling pair of legs from the Eisenkern Stormtroopers which were perfect to achieve the sitting pose. The head is from one of the Forgeworld Legion Praetors.

While Harrowthorne himself may have been the catalyst for this whole project, the next step was to actually deal with the huge, walking deathmachine piloted by him. So let us take a closer look at the part you’re probably most interested in: the actual Knight model.

Here's the model as it looks right now -- see if you can spot all the ideas I stole from other people's Knights ;)

I wanted to keep the model free of any big, fleshy mutations, rather making it look like a ancient warmachine, decorated in grisly trophies and baroque elements in order to strike fear into the hearts of its enemies and make it look like a living avatar of the Blood God. Towards that end, I added all kinds of chaos-y and spiky bitz, trying make the model's silhouette anf overall look decidedly chaotic, while keeping the basic construction of the Knight kit intact.

As you can see, I shamelessly pilfered many of the ideas I discovered during my research, yet I tried to put a slight spin on some of them. For instance, while many people had used bitz from the Warshrine of Chaos to great effect for their own conversions, the huge stylised daemon face had only ever been used either on top of the upper carapace or, in one noteable instance, as a decoration for the knight’s shoulder pad. I knew from the start that I wanted to use it as a breastplate, and while working on this part of the model, I realised that, adding the lower half of a standard from the Ogre Kingdom’s Ironbreakers creates something looking like a complete daemon face, if seen from the right angle:

 I also adapted Nicorex's use of raised detail on the shoulder pad for use on my own Knight:

All in all, the model is really a combination of all the ideas I liked.

The same goes for the model's interior. Let us take a closer look and peel back the layers of the onion, so to speak:

Here’s the Knight’s torso:

Now let’s remove the top hatch:

Why look, it’s Baron Harrowthorne!
As you can see, the Baron is perfectly visible through the open hatch — just as planned!

 Now let’s remove that carapace plate:

In front: Harrowthorne in his completely scratchbuilt cockpit. And in the back: The Knight’s engine block.
Now let me tell you one thing: The hollow interior of the Knight may seem huge at first glance, but if you’re endeavouring to add both a pilot and engine, you’ll find yourself running out of room very quickly! Figuring out where to put what was probably one of the most difficult things about this conversion!

Now let’s take a closer look at the actual conversion work, warts and all:

The cockpit itself was mainly constructed from Land Raider parts: The floor is a shaved down Land Raider turret hatch, while the screens came from one of the inside panels from the same kit. The cockpit’s back wall was made from plasticard, and a couple of additional bitz were used to blend in the seams of the conversion.
The engine block is a cut down Land Raider bit. As you can see, the engine compartment is mostly hollow, except for a lonely support strut made from leftover sprue…

This all looks so nice and tidy now (at least for my usual, sloppy standard), but figuring out a configuration that worked almost drove me up the wall! And I really couldn't have done it without taking important cues from the fellow hobbyists whose projects I linked above.

Here’s a look from a different perspective:

I’ve left the Baron himself removable for now, both in order to have an easier time painting him and to be able to take him out and glance lovingly at the model, every now and then ;) Here’s the cockpit without him:

 A piece of sprue was glued to the floor to help position the Baron. Etched brass grating from the 40k basing set was used to detail the cockpit’s floor.

Now this part of the model was really a pain in the behind to get right, but managing to get this part of the conversion sorted out also filled me with a sense of achievement like few other projects -- I guess my advice to any owner of a Knight kit would be to put in that extra bit of work in order to create an interior for the model!

All in all, I am really happy with the model! It has been quite a bit of work, both during the research and the building stage, but in the end, it was really worth it! With the conversion now basically finished, however, I am painfully aware of the fact that I will have to get this big boy painted at some point in the future -- OUCH!

In closing, let me say a huge thank you to all the people whose work I mentioned above and to the countless others that have managed to produce all those outstanding Knight models that inspired me! I hope that this post will also help some of you in their endeavour to build a Knight - traitorous or loyalist! If you have any questions about the kit, don't hesitate to drop me a comment!

So yeah, here's my pound of flesh. Get to work, TJ! We are waiting for your Khornate walker thingy ;)

This has been KrautScientist. Thanks for tuning in!


  1. An absolutely phenomenal job here.

    Great pose, great use of bits. Love the tabard (i always dislike the default knight one) . Interior work I can't even. Head looks great, bitz, brass. I just want to see this thing painted. Can we move forward to next month when you are showing it off? :)

    (Also thanks for taking the time to collect all those inspirational pieces. It's really nice to see the inspiration for ideas sometimes, as well as sharing in the creations of other members of the community!)

    1. Thanks a lot, Greg! Don't expect the finished Knight next month, though: I'll need to work up some courage first before I tackle such a huge painting project ;)

      Very glad my post was useful to you, though! ;)

  2. I love the conversion! The right shoulder and left gun arm are stand outs for me. The demon muzzle break on end of the barrel completes the gun. Now the naked barrels look unfinished to me. I like the single chain link on the shoulder as well. It is really easy to go overboard. I think you got this just right.

  3. Thanks, John! Your own Knight(s) really blew me away, and seeing your work on the interior was really one of the things that made it clear to me that I would need to step up my game for this project -- albeit in a rather humble way ;)

  4. My favorite scientist has managed to completely blow my mind (and inspire me) with another post. I thouht I had been doing research, but you found tons of great example and small ideas inside example that I had never seen before (and will likely use). Thank you very much. You are oin to make an incredible titan for me ... I will just provide the manual labor, haha.