As any dedicated Celestial Lion Player (assuming you can find one) will tell you, there isn't much at all in the way of official visual reference for this Chapter. We have the image above, taken from the old 3rd War of Armageddon campaign website, and the artwork in and on the cover of the Armageddon omnibus from the Black Library. Prior to the Armadeddon Black Library novel the only official background source (that I know of) was from the old Armageddon 3 site. Using the Wayback Machine site I was able to explore that old campaign site. It was a very cool support page and it was a lot of fun to use and access during that campaign back in the summer of '00. I took a few snips from that site to show you the Celestial Lions stuff. Again, it isn't much:
|Found via the Wayback Machine*, the Armageddon 3 website.|
|The original and official story of the Celestial Lions.|
Interestingly the Armageddon 3 site doesn't give us any more info on this campaign badge. But this other image that I found does, and it says it's for the Fire Wastes Army Group North. Makes sense as this is the area that the Celestial Lions Chapter was stationed on Armageddon, and the place of their fall. I haven't decide yet whether or not I want to include this on my models.
|No idea where this is from. White Dwarf Index Astartes article perhaps?|
This next pair of images are far more recent. both are from the Armageddon book.
This image doesn't reveal much at all in the way of iconography, only that this particular Chapter Icon is the lion head looking straight-on as opposed to a profile. It's nice, but not particularly helpful. It does show the blue on their armor as being darker, which is also how I originally interpreted it from the old Armageddon 3 site as well. Often when I see other people's painted Celestial Lions they tend to paint the blue as a turquoise, which looks great as well, but not how I thought it looked on the original site.
|The painting used for the cover of Armageddon.|
Above is the painting used on the Armageddon two-story collection. The second story in this collection, Blood and Fire, is also available as an ePub download on it's own and has it's own cover. It shows the Celestial Lion a lot more prominently and, of interest to me, it reveals his right shoulder pad as using the traditional upward pointing arrow that has been associated with Space Marine Tactical Squads in accordance to the Codex Astartes. The arrow on that cover is painted gold as well.
Believe it or not, that last bit is quite a revelation!
What follows next goes back over a decade to when I first considered doing the Celestial Lions as an army. I decided that I wanted to hand-paint the lion icon onto the marine shoulder pads. One day, I found myself in a car dealer's waiting room waiting for an oil change and I had my sketch book handy. I worked up some sketches. This next image is roughly how I decided I wanted the icon on my guys to look like.
|Crude but effective.|
After doodling about in the sketchbook I was inspired to approach my first project for the Celestial Lions. And here he is:
I painted him in what felt like record time and entered him into a local painting competition. (He came in 2nd!). I used the forward looking straight on image of the lion for the banner, and hand painted the chapter icon onto the appropriate shoulder.
So now, as I work on my Celestial Lions Kill Team I found myself considering whether or not I wanted to make the icon mono color like a traditional Chapter Icon, or color it in simple colors like I did for the Terminator Captain. After much consideration I decided to make it hard on myself and repeat the image from the Captain's armor. Below you can see the earliest stages of my efforts to make this happen.
It's a lot of work and takes a lot of focus, but I hope it works out well for me in the end. Since I am not going to do much more for this army beyond a Kill Team, I figured the extra effort couldn't hurt. Now if I had a full 2K army to paint, I definitely would have looked into getting unique decals made!
* The Wayback Machine. It doesn't always work though.
The first nine images in this post are Copyright Games Workshop and are used here for the purposes of review and not as a challenge to their individual copyrights.