Sunday, March 06, 2011

Morgul Knights

"All that host was clad in sable, dark as the night. Against the wan walls and the luminous pavement of the road Frodo could see them, small black figures in rank upon rank, marching swiftly and silently, passing outwards in an endless stream. Before them went a great cavalry of horsemen moving like ordered shadows, and at their head was one greater than all the rest: a Rider, all in black, save that on his hooded head he had a helm like a crown that flickered with a perilous light."

from The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Four , The Ring goes East, The stairs of Cirith Ungol.

Moving like ordered shadows - I loved that bit, a real sense of menace and malice!

I received these as a Christmas present from my mother-in-law, so naturally they jumped to the front of the painting queue! Upon opening them and examing the contents I was surprised to find they had been sculpted with very skull like faces - no nose, empty eye sockets and bared teeth. I had never envisaged these riders as wraith like or undead. I had always thought of them as men, of the race of the Black Numenoreans, and thus much like the Mouth of Sauron. So I had expected a normal flesh face...

Hmmm thought I, well lets see if we can change them. So out came the green-stuff, and with a will there's a way. I filled the eye sockets and made a groove for the eye slits. I added a nose. That was all they needed to my mind as most of the face would be hidden behind the rest of the helmet.

Here's some progress shots:

I am quite happy with the way they turned out even if I am not the best scupltor in the world! It was a little fiddly and could be argued why bother when you can barely see the effect at a distance. But at least I know they've got faces.

I realize, as I may have said before, its difficult to get excited, by the look of dull black figures, especially when you may be used to looking at the pomp and ceremony of Napoleonic and other colourful historical periods. But they demand their own attention , and getting just the right amount of highlight on black cloth can be tricky without it looking too gray. I love the dark armour on them too.

I will look forward to using them in battle at the head of my Mordor armies. I have tried them out a couple of times before they were quite finished in games against my regular elven opponent and each time he has thrown the proverbial "kitchen sink" at them, so they must put the willies up him anyway! I hope one day I can actually get to have a successful charge with them ;-)


  1. Hi Scott, I really like what you have done with those. GW have made some (to my mind) inexplicable choices with a subset of their LOTR units, and I always like to see people reinterpreting these once more.

    They look good too, I have never grasped how to paint black properly. I gave up in the end and made all the relevant models a slightly ghostly green tinge instead!


  2. Hi Jamie. Thanks for your comments. The way I do black cloth is:
    1) Black undercoat (obviously!)
    2) Dry brush with a very dark shade dark gray - I used Foundry 34B.
    3) then edge the highlight areas; the top edges and ripples of the cloth, with a mid gray - I used Foundry 32B.
    4) Then cover all in a black wash with GW Badab Black.
    Works a treat.
    Hope this helps.


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