Sternguard bolters and Japanese pens

Just some random stuff. I don’t have anything I’m painting at the moment – my discretionary funds this month are tied up in Christmas presents so no models for me. But I do have some bits I’ve been working on.

I might convert some regular 40K Marines I have into Sternguard veterans and those dudes have these blinged out weapons called combi-meltas, and over/under weapon combo basically. Their standard bolt guns also have high capacity box magazines, like what you’d see on real world SAWs (like the M249). So with some bits, green stuff and the exacto knife, here’s what I’ve come up with:

Sternguard Bolters

The combi-melta uses the muzzle and fuel tank of the Space Marine melta-gun on a chopped up regular bolter. I used green stuff to fill out parts of the receiver, repositioning the foregrip and bolter muzzle. The box magazines on both weapons are from a Rhino storm bolter, trimmed down a bit to fit properly, and the scopes are stuck on for Sternguard bling. Not bad I think, and I may do a few more and actually try to make a squad up.

Next, I thought I’d talk about the pen I use to write the Japanese kanji characters on my Rising Sun Marines.

It’s called a “fudepen” (pronounced “fu-day-pen”) and it is common writing instrument in Japan used for calligraphy (and I would imagine it’s used in other Asian countries whose languages can be written with a brush).


Back in the day, you’d just use a brush and bottle of ink. But the fudepen eliminates that messy stuff. Since it’s a pen, there’s no need to dip it in ink of course. It has two nibs, one is a fairly standard point like a regular sharpie, the other is the special “brush” tip:

Fudepen "brush" tip

That tip is flexible, like a brush, and simulates the effect you get of using a brush. You’ll notice an even smaller second tip on the end of the brush. That point allows even finer control and what I use to do some of the characters on my minis. Yes, it takes a steady hand!

Of course, you also have to know how to write kanji, but if you do, the effect is quite pleasing. Japanese calligraphy is an art in itself (called shodo) and brush-painted kanji look quite different from kanji rendered in standard fonts. One thing I like about shodo is how you can sometime write a whole character, that normally consists of several strokes, in one single movement of the brush. It’s hard and takes practice to master (and I’m no master!) but for my purposes, my amateur scrawling is effective enough! When I get stuck or need a reference, there are many websites you can go to for help. The Yamasa Online Japanese Dictionary is particularly helpful, since it shows the stroke order of the kanji, as well as what a handwritten version looks like.

To make an excuse for any variations and mistakes I make when writing the characters, in my Chapter fluff, each Marine writes the characters on his armor himself – since one’s calligraphy is a form of self expression, the Rising Sun Battle Brothers can show their devotion to the ideals of the Chapter in this way.

Samurai-themed Space Marine armies are nothing new, and I’ve seen lots of conversions that make them look more like they’re wearing samurai armor. Kromlech’s samurai heads and banners do look cool too. But for me, I like the subtlety of kanji characters. It makes the models stand out but doesn’t change their silouhette. Plus it’s less work!

3 Responses to “Sternguard bolters and Japanese pens”

  1. […] The base color is GW Astronomican Grey. The greaves and right shoulder are GW Skull White. The red is Reaper Fire Red and the gold trim is Reaper Antique Gold with Reaper New Gold highlights. I do the kanji characters by hand, with a brush or fudepen. […]

  2. […] Marines as a base and adding bits of bling to make them look like vets, including converted combi-meltas and […]

  3. […] few extra bits – Terminator honors, extra purity seals, master crafted bolters and so on. The combi-weapons are all conversions, as is the heavy flamer. I’m really happy with how these came out, and they blend with the […]

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