Last time we met the slinking, infiltrating Ruststalkers, today, we have a group that is a touch more "in your face":
The Skitarii Vanguards are the "stormtroopers" of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Straightforward, no-nonsense soldiers... with tons of augmentations. Again, I have to rave a little about just how nice these models are: their weight distribution; their weapon design; the crusted detail; the clever undercut-averting coat design. Gorgeous is what they are. I will say, they are not a fast paint job, nothing with this much detail ever is, but reaaaaally worth it.
I've decided that only those of Tech Priest rank will wear overall red robes so I needed another scheme for these lads. As I worked the metallic areas on to the models I kept looking at the black undercoated overcoats (heh, English for the win there) and realised that some black leather stormcoats would bring the badass quotient right up. It's my usual black leather of Val German Camo Black Brown (a paint I use so often I should just abbreviate it to "that one") with a dash of black added. Shaded with Nuln Oil, highlighted with the original mix. Then I hit the leather with satin varnish and begin the wear. Add some Val Deck Tan - or any vague bone colour, Deck Tan is just so wonderfully flat and desaturated - to the original mix and start scuffing and scratching the edges of the coat with fine lines. Use a couple of lighter tones of the same mix to add variety. The new painted areas will be matte and seem roughened and scuffed. Lovely.
It took ages to figure out how the special weapon "worked". There was a battery pack, a row of vials, a tube of some kind down the middle, a pump action (!), and what was clearly either a pilot light or an injector of some kind. Why did I care? Because it affects how you choose to paint it. In the end I decided that the battery was just to maintain a magnetic field, the pump action pressurises the system before firing, the vials combine to a highly volatile gaseous compound that is flashed to plasma and accelerated by the magnetics. At the last moment the injector fires a catalyst into the plasma stream and sends an incandescent spear of furious energy at the enemy... Or so I think anyway. This led me to decide that a nice glass containment tube as the barrel reinforced by the steel furniture. By the way, check out that lovely specialist backpack. So much little detail on these guys. I decided that the leather pouches would be the same Val German Cam... That One but shaded with Agrax Earthshade and highlighted with a little Off White added. Same colour palette, different shades. Keeps the whole thing subtle and cohesive while allowing differentiation and a tiny bit of contrast.
I went again with the dark glass blade for the power sword. I like the idea that the blades are disposable and replaced after every battle as there is almost nothing sharper than knapped glass. I also decided that a dark wine red lining to the coats would give a tiny pop of colour and thematically tie them as direct servants of the Priesthood.
I find the official backstory for the Vanguard silly in the extreme and frequently contradictory. So I'm ignoring it. Instead, these are simply professional volunteer soldiers. Limbs altered to bionic replacements to function perfectly regardless of temperature or stress. No hand shake, perfect eye-to-hand response for shooting. Enhanced nervous systems and hypnotic combat trances keep them cold and present in the moment, unconcerned by risk or intimidation of the enemy. Able to dispassionately proceed until the battle's end at which point they will have to deal with emotional aftermath. I imagine they communicate entirely in encrypted binaric cant. Short bursts of digital information, difficult to garble, impossible to understand if overheard. Their rifles are not the crude spray and pray lasguns of the guard but precision semi-automatic high-power rifles. Each trigger press sending an aimed round at their target. That their reaction speed makes this process indistinguishable from rapid fired automatics is irrelevant... precision is honour to the Omnissiah.
In short, these are not "characters" like the Ruststalkers seem to be. They are grunts. Front-line, aggressive, relentless... and replaceable.
That's all folks, more soon!