Samurai-themed Space Marines – Pt.3: Banners

Moving on with how I’ve developed the theme of my RIsing Sun Chapter colors, as I mentioned, once I actively starting building out a force I realized I needed to expand the colors and heraldry a little. Since I’m not converting the minis to actually look like samurai, I needed something that would still set them apart as such. I accomplish this two ways – with the banners and the kabuki-style face paint designs. For this post, I’ll talk about the banners.

In our history, samurai clans each have a mon, a symbol that adorns everything from clothing to teapots to battle standards. When considering what to put on the Space Marine back banners, this was the logical choice. There are plenty of references for these mon online, so all you need to do is pick one you can execute with a brush. The designs tend to be circular, in that they generally can be drawn inside of a circle, although some designs don’t have a circular shape. They also tend to be geometric, but again there can also be intricate designs of birds, flowers or other natural things.

Of course, you can go crazy grabbing all the designs you can find, but I decided to set a few rules for how the Rising Suns display their heraldry. I’ll get to that in a bit.

There is a Chapter Banner of course. In this particular case, I’m using the banner I painted over 20 years ago.

I freehanded this. The character is Hachiman, the first Chapter Master of the Rising Sun, depicted here slaying the dragon of Chaos. As I previously noted, I had a friend who could do Japanese calligraphy write the chapter motto on the banner.

It’s a different design direction than the more stylized mon I’m using for the individual Marine’s back banners, but since this is the Chapter standard, I think it’s okay. The emblem of the Chapter, if distilled down to a mon, is the Rising Sun.

The model itself is an old metal Marine. I plan on getting a Command Squad or Honor Guard at some point and transferring the banner over to the newer minis. When I do, I may spruce the banner up a bit, but I like its old weatherbeaten appearance.

And just because I could, I did a micro version of the standard for my Epic scale Marines.

OK, on to the mon designs. The idea is, these are personal heraldry. The Rising Sun Chapter recruits from the best warrior clans of its homeworld, Kamakura, and each of these clans has a family crest. When a Brother Marine becomes a Sergeant, he is allowed to display this crest on his back banner when in charge of a squad. If a Brother Sergeant becomes a Brother Captain, his crest becomes the company crest and is displayed on the company standard (as well as the Captain’s own standard).

These vehicles show the company commander’s mon.

The dreadnought also displays his own personal heraldry (on the red banner).

On the company standard, the company commander’s name is at the top (Ryu), the company number in the middle, and the commander’s personal mon on the bottom.

And here are some individual crests.

You may be wondering, “How the hell do you paint those?” Very carefully! Kidding aside, though it’s not exactly easy, it’s less difficult than you might think. I don’t have any pics of the painting process (and I should take some) but basically it’s like this.

1) Paint a black circle on the banner

2) Paint white lines on black, drawing out the design.

Because the designs are often geometric, you can often lay out the design by marking points where the line intersect. Then as you connect the dots, the design becomes clear. The company mon, for example, looks very intricate when done, but is accomplished with three lines a circle and then picking out detail.

Next post, I’ll talk about the kumadori facepaint designs.

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