How about an (unfortunately somewhat dry) look at Dark Angels waterslide transfer sheets!*
Here’s the default sheet that has been included in most DA kits over the last decade or so.
Going from left to right, we have chapter badges, which tend to go on the marine’s left shoulder (or the right if he has MKVI-style studs on his left shoulder), with smaller versions for old-style scouts. Of course you can stick these on vehicles, dreadnoughts, etc. as well.
Next are decals for battle line, close support, and fire support. See here if you need a refresher on which squads are which. They go on the model’s right shoulder with a number on top of them.
(For these an all decals, I highly recommend you get Micro-Sol and Micro-Set solutions and watch a video or two on how to use them. For the squad types I varnish with ’Ardcoat, apply decal with sol+set, varnish again, apply number, varnish again with Stormshield. Yes, it takes forever.)
Next we have Ravenwing symbols that go on the left shoulder of Ravenwing models, and if you have spares they can go wherever you think looks good on bikes, speeders, etc.
The red sword goes on the right pad of Lieutenants. I think the point should be facing down. Newer manuals use the red sword face up for veterans. Older ones show a white sword facing down, but no recent decal sheet has provided them—2014’ Forge World sheet had white swords among those labeled for veterans; 2017’ Dark Imperium sheet had them in the campaign badges section.
Campaign badges are next. This sheet uses the red sword with skull, but there are a few variations on other sheets, such as a white skull in a red triangle. Annoyingly there are only five on the sheet. Insignium Astartes 64, Games Workshop 2012:
Space Marines do not always fight alone and often find themselves going into battle alongside other Imperial forces. The mass ranks of the Imperial Guard form the major portion of any allied contingent and include huge tank divisions as well as enormous numbers of foot troops. Other Imperial organisations can and do supply warriors and war machines to the war effort. These include the mighty titan war machines of the Adeptus Mechanicus, the warrior nuns of the Adepta Sororitas and a host of other units and individuals.
When an army of the Imperium goes to war it is standard practice for the Imperial Commander or general to choose a symbol to act as a campaign badge in accordance with the regulations set down in the Codex. This “field sign” is known as the Army Badge and serves to identify all the troops and equipment that are operating under his command and helps them recognise friendly units on the battlefield. The Army Badge is painted onto Space Marine armour and Imperial Guard tank alike. Cloth patches may be sewn onto Imperial Guard fatigues. Huge versions of the badge will be stencilled onto the gigantic armour plates of Titans. Each time the badge is applied the recipient receives a blessing from the Company Chaplain if a Space Marine or from an attached member of the Imperial Ecclesiarchy if serving in one of the other Imperial forces.
The design of an Army Badge is deliberately quite straightforward. Usually it consists of a simple geometric shape overlaid with a motif or it might be a simple stencilled icon. The Army Badge must be instantly recognisable if it is to function as a battlefield identification. Space Marines generally apply the Army Badge to their right leg greave.
The Army Badge is only used for the duration of a single campaign. Once this is over the various forces that comprise the Imperial Army are dispersed and the Army Badge is either removed or replaced. If a squad, regiment or indeed an individual warrior has performed exceptionally in the campaign, the Army Badge may be incorporated onto their armour, uniform or heraldry as a permanent honour. This is particularly true of banners and standards and many of the lavish designs seen on Chapter, Company and personality banners are, in part, derived from the Army Badges of previous campaigns.
The Indomitus campaign has its own symbol that you’ll see on many sheets.
For Honour Markings we have a round symbol that resembles an Iron Halo:
A Marine who demonstrates exceptional initiative will be awarded the Iron Halo. This badge has its origins in the earliest days of the Imperium. It is either painted or etched onto a Marine’s armour and coloured red. It also appears as an element of many Chapter and Company banner designs, presumably recording occasions when the Company or Chapter has demonstrated initiative beyond expectation. [Ibid]
Below that, the Marksman’s Honour:
This device is the Marksman’s Honour. Acts of remarkably accurate shooting or consistent performance with targeting are marked with this award. The Codex insists that those warriors who prove their accuracy in combat should be singled out so that their skill may be instantly commanded when necessary. The badges themselves are believed to have been constructed by encasing in gold bolter shell cases fired in battle from the bolt gun of Roboute Guilliman himself. [Ibid] †
You’ll see these hanging off the shoulder pads or belts of some models as well.
Next of course are numbers for the right pauldrons.
Vehicle chapter markings can go anywhere you’d like. I’ve looked and haven’t ever found “proper” markings for tanks. The most common version seems to be to put a vehicle number on the front of the tank on its left, company marking on its right, and if it’s a transport it can optionally have the symbol for its squad type (battle line, close support, fire support) on the sides. The double-headed imperial eagle labeled “vehicle livery” looks good on either side of swing doors or on the front hood.
Deathwing symbols go on Terminators’ right shoulders. The larger ones can go on Land Raiders or Dreadnoughts.
Finally we have larger campaign badges, numbers, and company symbols that, again, you can put wherever you like.
Going all the way back, here’s the transfer sheet from the original release of Warhammer 40,000.
They came in yellow (pictured), red, and white. The early Dark Angels models were shown in black, and even now the Horus Heresy colors maintain that color scheme, but the red has never showed up well on black armor. Note the combined Dark Angels badge and sergeant stripes on the right. Also, at the time, the Dark Angels logo was meant to be a winged dagger. It’s now more commonly shown as a sword.
Each 40K starter set has come with a multi-purpose transfer sheet for Space Marines.
Dark Imperium (8th edition) has the standard symbols from above. It add some tiny Dark Angels chapter badges, which will fit on foreheads, the corner of pauldrons, boltguns, kneepads, or anywhere you’d like.
It has an Imperial Laurel:
A Marine who bears this honour has literally won his laurels. Acts of valour leading to great victory are deeds rewarded with the Laurel Wreath. The wreath is often worn as a crown or sculpted onto the Marine’s helmet. The Wreathed Skull is a common form of the honour. The Codex demands that Company Standards be born into battle by proven warriors and the bearers of these all wear the Laurel Wreath. The Laurel Wreath also appears frequently on Chapter and Company banners. [Ibid]
This would go on the right shoulder pad of ancients (like the one included in Dark Imperium or the newer one in the company heroes box, though I think his is covered by a cloak).
The chain trim can go on cloaks, banners, vehicles, or on tilting plates—and here let me introduce an important concept: many of these symbols have no in-canon meaning. They’re just bling. Dark Angels keep secrets locked up, so chains are good symbols for them. Elsewhere you’ll see locks and keys for similar reasons.
We have a ton of army badges, including a new skull with red wings that you can use, along with gold Marksman’s Honors and white swords for veterans.
I don’t know where the Ⅲ is meant to be used. Dark Angels tend to use Arabic numbers with a blackletter styling.
Indomitus gives the usual suspects, left and right Ravenwing logos (the the sides of the Outrider bikes the boxed set included), and several of the Crux Terminates, which goes on the left shoulder of non-Terminator Deathwing veterans (Bladeguard, Sternguard, and Vangaurd Veterans).‡ It also includes Indomitus crusade badges, small imperial eagles, iron halos, skulls, and cool checkers.
Leviathan gives us a bunch of different variations of the standard Dark Angels badge. We have some with rivets, halos, skulls, and outlined versions. None of these are “supposed” to go on any particular marine or character. Just use them however you want. I like the skull ones for sergeants and the gold ones for characters. We also get some keys, swords, and shields. Again, just sprinkle these around.
The January 2024 Deathwing Assault box includes Dark Angels symbols of assorted sizes—I’m unsure where the green ones are meant to go—generally over bone armor you’d be using red Deathwing decals. Otherwise most of the bigger decals would go on vehicles and dreadnoughts. There are a several army badge options at the bottom, swords for veterans, and cool variations of the Chaplain, Librarian, and Apothecary symbols.
I’ll update this piece when I get my hands on the sheets that come with the the next wave of releases. In the meantime, here’s the white whale of decals, the out of print Forge World sheet:
As some closing words, I want to suggest that transfers are a great way not just to blindly implement the “required” markings for your squads, but to add some variation to give your troops individual character. Add some text script to one marine’s leg. On another, put honor markings on either side of the chapter badge. On another, border the bottom of the shoulder pad with checkers. It can be a bit tedious but the result can be that you don’t have a squad of five or ten marlins who just look exactly the same, but instead subtly communicates that each of these battle brothers has earned individual distinctions and that their armor reflects this.
- 24 Jan ’24: published
- 25 Jan ’24: updated with better copies of the transfer sheets, added ’89
- 3 Feb ’24: added the Deathwing Assault sheet
* For 40K. 30K Dark Angels have their own set of iconography that spans their history from their early “Uncrowned Princes” days, through their goth grim reaper phase, to the Hexagrammaton and Hekatonystika. For now we’ll focus on their “present”-day emo-core era.
† This quote is taken from Insignium Astartes, which specifically uses the Ultramarines as its template. Whether there are similar awards made from Lion El’Jonsons’s gear is indeterminate.
‡ I, like many, am not wild about the change that allows non-Terminators to wear bone armour. I have to accept that it’s valid now, but I don’t have to run them. (And yes, I’m aware that White Dwarf 129 showed a Deathwing marine in Power Armour.)
More Dark Angels stuff I’ve written:
- Shoulder Pads of the Dark Angels
- Dark Angels Apothecaries
- Why the Dark Angels Really Changed from Black to Green?
- How the Dark Angels story developed, from Rogue Trader to 2nd edition
- Successor Chapters
- My 4th company, “The Feared”
- The Deathwing: History and Complement
- Dark Angels Decals: A Look at Waterslide Transfer Sheets