Finished Imperial Knight conversion project

Imperial Knight Repose and Conversion

Finished: The Queen Bee

frontThis is it, folks. I bought the Imperial Knight kit the day it came out. It’s taken me about a year and a half to get to this point, but this is the moment where I reveal the fruits of my long labor.

The plan

Imperial Knight recolor testI’d already done a lot of planning and brainstorming before I the model even came out. I had
read as much of the fluff as I could ahead of time and did some work on my concept. I knew I wanted a Freeblade because the idea spoke to me. I then started in on the paint scheme with some quick and dirty photoshop color swaps. Back then I was planning on using the Tibbetts family crest (three azure cats passant on an ermine field). I scrapped the idea eventually but if I ever do the rest of the family… I also created a logo for the knight, and I went through a few iterations until I struck on the final version. It was at this point that I named her Queen Bee.


One of the first things that I did when I had a look over the sprues was to start cutting it up. I popped the legs out because I knew I wanted to change them from the static pose I was sure 90% of Knights would retain. I had NO idea what I was getting into… Here’s a list of what I did:

Painting and weathering

I’d been thinking about trying out some of the really cool scale and military modeling techniques I’d seen around the web, but I always painted ‘clean marines’ before so I figured this was my chance. I loved how old these Knights were, and how relatively low-tech they were in the fluff. As I worked over the kit I was impressed over and over by how utilitarian they felt.  I wanted to evoke the sense of ancient machines, inspired in no small part by old farm and contraction machinery. I documented the process and paint recipes I used over the 33-part series of WIP posts.

The gallery

I’d like to present some full shots, and then I’ll dig in with detail bits. I think the repose gives her a distinctly unique profile. The weight and sense of movement Make her feel really dynamic.

Let’s take a closer look

mordentFirst up is her Reaper Chainsword, Mordent. I didn’t do much on here, bar some damage effects. I chipped a tooth, scratched up some armor bits and added some damage to a piece of the plating, and added a patch on one of the tubes. I’m pretty pleased with the way the little canisters of lubrication turned out. This weapon is massive, and will naturally be a focal point.

groinarmorNext up is the custom groin armor. This is made from plastic card mostly. I like the little tiny logo on the bottom, and of course the throwback element. It’s a fairly subtle conversion that I expect some folks might miss, but I like it’s one of my favorite elements. I was able to add a very subtle twist to it to suggest the movement and the way the plates articulate.

servoskullHere’s a little servo skull I added as a sort of rear-view mirror. I added some OSL for the light and also the lens or eye of the thing. I figure this little dude would help with minor repair work and an early warning system. It’s held up with a simple paper clip curved into shape to make it look like the skull is floating and it’s just hanging between.

freebladesymbolHere’s the Freeblade symbol. Might not look like much, but if you look carefully you can see the outline of the Imperial Aquila symbol that’s been pried off. I added patina to the outline, as well as some mounting holes.

wreckageThis is what I like to call the crush. Ages ago, I got my buddy into 40K and he usually plays Necrons. I rarely play these days, but almost all my games against him have been marines vs. Necrons. I’ve developed a friendly rivalry over the years. I knew I wanted the Queen to be stepping on something to get the pose right, and he actually just gave me an Annihilation Barge to destroy. Nice, right? I did a bunch of work, but in a nutshell I cut the thing as though Mordent had carved it in half, then added crushed bits, melting necrodermis, flames, green-tinted oil bleeding from some spots, glowing ichor from the severed barrel of the gun, and little guts-bits inside the empty holes.

thermalcannonI painted both weapons since they’re magnetized. For the melta version, I wanted to add some heat staining on the barrel. I debated about whether it should be in the front or back of the weapon. After my buddy greg sent me some pics of jet engines, I convinced myself the rear of the barrel would be hotter than the tip.

reardetailI spent a little extra time on the rear of the model since I really loved the details. I added a couple of tow hooks from a Land Raider kit since I figured once in a while a damaged Knight would need a bit of help getting up. I also wanted the Machina Opus to pop a little, so I made sure to paint both of them fairly cleanly. Besides that, rust, damage and grime are the order of the day when it comes to this old engine. I had fun peeling up one of the brass plates on the barrel-shaped engine bit there, and there’s even some oil dripping from the gap in the seal. I did this in a bunch of places around the model, and popped off quite a few rivets. I imagine these things rattle themselves apart on the regular and it takes a lot of work to keep them together over the years.

exhaustdetailI damaged both of the exhaust stacks a little, thinking the heat shrouding on them would be a bit mare fragile since it’s spaced a bit. One of them is popping up at the corner, and the other has a tear between a couple of the holes. Subtle stuff, but it all adds to the overall effect.

flamesI added some flames and a bit of OSL on the wreckage. I didn’t want to go crazy and take away from the model, but it was a good chance to tie in with the bases for my marines which feature flames once in a while. I greenstuffed the flames themselves and painted them normally. Later I added some day-glow pigments to add a little more pop.

crushConverted toes, to give the weight a little conviction as it conforms to the wreckage. I made sure to add a kink to the barrel where the toe is pressing down on it. I also used a pliers to add a bit of damage to make it look like she stomped on it a couple of times.

basedetailI wanted to tell a bit of a story with the base. My marines are based with a burned village theme, including lots of burned bodies and bits of feral world detritus. I had the idea to do a little more with this one, since the base is so large. I added a couple corners of a brick building that had been destroyed some time ago. In this I added some details. Note the corpse of parent, cradling a child right behind her foot. These are the people she’s sworn to protect. Also note the older, half-buried Necron bits in front of them. Obviously these represent her enemies. In the nook of the building you can see an Eagle Eye space marine helmet, her usual allies and the chapter to which she is oathsworn.

faceHer face earned a little extra attention. I went through a couple versions of the helmet, but I like the way this one looks from the top a lot better. I call it the flying nun look. You’ll notice one of her eye lenses is cracked, and I figure in this moment she’s opened the mask to allow the secondary sensors to come into play as she acquires a new target. The perspective in this angle makes it look goofy, but her stubber is pointed where she’s looking as well. The face will be hard to see from the gaming table, but I worked hard to breathe as much life and personality into it as I could, with various metal finishes and some oil adding interest and definition.

shieldHer shield is a great story on its own, but it evolved over time. To make a long story short, this image started life when the Knight was much younger, as a fairly standard pinup lady painted on the Knight in another spot. Over many centuries of service it had been repainted and added to, eventually coming to represent the machine spirit of the Knight itself. In it’s modern version, the lady is sitting atop a pile of skulls, blood dripping down her clawed hands, which are holding a stylized crown above her death’s head. The banner behind her reads Queen Bee in high gothic, and this is, of course, where the pilot took the inspiration for the Knight’s heraldry when she went Freeblade. She repainted this mural on the tilting shield to honor the indomitable spirit of her suit. On a personal level, I designed the mural and printed out an outlined decal, then painted it in on the shield. It was a blast and I enjoyed it more than just about any other aspect of painting the model.

hatchThe top hatch was the best place to showcase the honeycomb pattern on the armor. I didn’t want this to cover everything, and I always liked the idea of swapping it out on each side. The ‘cells’ would be colored in black on the yellow side, and then outline would be colored yellow on the black side. The top hatch door is the only place they really meet up and I’m pretty pleased with the way they turned out. Also note the custom decal with her logo to the right of the hatch. It only shows up here in full. The hatch window turned out alright, and it’s covered with gloss as well for effect, even though you can’t really see it in this shot because of the lighting.

And that’s all she wrote.

I can’t believe she’s done. It’s been so much fun to work on this project, and it’s by far the most ambitious thing I’ve ever done. As I’ve said many times, I consider her a group project since I’ve had so much feedback and support over the many long months. Thank you to everyone who has joined her family, offered kind words and encouragement, highlighted areas that needed more work, and just told me they liked her. All of it kept me going and I can honestly say she wouldn’t be much without her fans.

Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think. And I don’t feel any shame in asking that you share her with your hobby buddies on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. I’d love for people to see her in all her glory. She’s brought my a lot of joy, and now it’s time for her to spread that joy to everyone.