I may usually be a thoroughly lazy person with the attention span of a chimpanzee on fire, but every now and then, even I can enjoy a good hobby challenge that forces me to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. Contributing a model to the secret Yggdrassillium project certainly was such a challenge, and being a part of it has been such an awesome experience that I was eager to throw myself, headfirst, into the next project like that. So what is this about?
Tomorrow will see this year’s Inqvitational, a narrative event for Inquisitor played at the 28mm scale, taking place at Warhammer World, once again thanks to the tireless work of Commissar Molotov and a number of other hobbyists. And while it was my very great honour to be invited to attend, it became clear rather quickly that I wouldn’t be able to make it to the UK for the event due to work-related reasons. Still, the INQ28 community has enriched my hobby life to the point where I felt the need to contribute something – anything – to the event. So when Molotov and PDH held a call for NPC models to be built for the event, I happily volunteered.
The title of this year’s Inqvitational is “The Sins of the Master”, and the event will see a coalition of several puritan members of the Dalthus sector’s Inquisition, led by Inquisitor Tybalt, join forces to bring to justice one Inquisitor Zuul, who is not only a senior member of the Dalthan Ordo Malleus, but also an outspoken Xanthite (and thus considered a dangerous heretic by somes). It goes without saying that a cell of more radical minded Inquisitors will likely be trying to foil Tybalt’s plans.
Inquisitor Zuul had already appeared in last year’s Inqvitational as a candidate for the succession of the Helios Cabal. Back then, Molotov chose this piece of artwork – originally published on page 7 of the original Inquisitor rulebook – to give Zuul a face:
I volunteered to build a model to represent Zuul on the table, so this picture would be my basic template for the model. Iwas actually pretty glad about that, to tell you the truth: In my opinion, not only is this piece of artwork truly brilliant and evocative, but it’s also a perfect match for the character: The Inquisitor in the artwork looks imposing, noble and composed, to be sure, but one of the defining characteristics of the character for me is that he also looks like a damned man. It’s in the eyes, I believe: Those are eyes that have seen to much and gone to far. I think this image was a great choice for a Xanthite character to begin with, since it embodies the fate of the outspoken Xanthite: Being convinced that one’s beliefs are true, that the forces of Chaos may indeed be used against themselves, but at the same time having to resist the urge to give in to the ruinous powers and possibly having to face your eventual damnation. The artwork perfectly captures this and shows a character that seems noble, but also ever so slightly unhinged. This was a quality I definitely wanted to keep in my rendition of Zuul!
Since I am (and will always remain) a kitbasher at heart, the first step – obviously – was to find a suitable base model After giving it some thought, doing quite a bit of research (and ruling out the purchase of some prohibitively expensive Forgeworld characters) , I decided to use the WFB Empire Witchhunter as a base for Zuul. Now this model had also been used several times in the past by other INQ aficionados — and to great effect, at that (like Riseofthemagi’s brilliant Inquisitor Helsmarck conversion, and Keravin’s Navigator, to name just two noteworthy examples), so making sure my model would looked different enough would be an important part of the task as well.
So my next step was to decide which parts of the artwork I wanted (and would be able) to keep and which detail I wanted to lose. The most important choice was which head to use, and I soon settled on a head from the WFB Empire flagellant kit. Here’s the base model with only the new head added:
I have to say that I really like those flagellant heads: They are great sculpts, for one, and even some of the less extreme ones, like the one above, have a certain haggard, tortured quality that works very well for an Inquisitor (incidentally, one of the other heads from the kit was used on my Inquisitor Gotthardt model). Molotov pointed out to me that the beard was looking more unkempt than the goatee in the artwork, but in the end I decided to keep it that way for several reasons: There was a very real chance of ruining the head by shaving off too much of the detail, for one. Plus I thought a beard like that would be a nice way of having Zuul look slightly frayed around the edges. Since I would have to lose the enormously expressive eyes from the artwork (I could never paint eyes like that on a model, to be honest. I’m sure Kari of the Spiky Rat Pack could, but that’s beside the point). The beard, however, would give the character back some of that slightly haunted quality: It certainly does not look so unruly as to appear totally unkempt, and I also wouldn’t paint it to look dirty or patchy during the paintjob.
Afterwards, the converting began in earnest: The pistol held by the original model was shaved off, as was the entire left arm. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised at how precisely I was able to get rid of certain parts of the model: Finecast may certainly have its shortcomings, but it’s a great medium to convert!
I had originally planned to emulate the pose from the artwork, with the character holding his cane/staff ahead of him in both hands, maybe even leaning on it. In fact, the right hand’s position would have lend itself beautifully to such an attempt, but it turned out that I would have had to do a lot of work to several other areas of the body for the pose to work, since the position of his legs and cloak make it pretty hard to fit a hand holding a cane there without it looking really awkward.
So I added a new hand holding a cane in a more open pose. Here’s the early mockup I did at this stage:
The hand holding the cane came from the Bretonnian Men at Arms, while the sword on the model’s back (from the plastic Chaos Sorcerer Lord) was chosen for its slightly ambiguous look: It could be a daemon weapon, but it’s definitely not screaming chaos at the top of its lungs — I guess Inquisitor Tybalt will find out the truth, one way or another…
I also started getting rid of the flared trouser leg, since this element is very typical of the WFB Empire look, and I didn’t want Zuul to look like a dressed up peacock.
Now replacing that lump of yellow putty with an actual new left arm was quite a bit of work. I had it all done once and then realised, while looking at the photos I had taken of the model, that the arm was too long. So I had to rip it all off and start over 😉
With the basic construction of the arm finally out of the way, I used more GS and liquid GS to blend in the new additions and to repair the model’s coat where the left hand had originally been. While I was at it, I also added a skull to the cane to give a small visual clue that Zuul is not just a kindly old man with a walking stick 😉
Here’s the finished conversion right before undercoating:
As you can see, I added some cabling to the back of Zuul’s head, to resemble the bionics seen in the artwork. And while I already liked the pose of Zuul’s right hand well enough, PDH suggested having Zuul hold his Inquisitorial rosette on a cord. Making that happen was a little tricky, but in the end, it worked out pretty well — and it was only later that I realised the =][= symbol dangling from Zuul’s hand in the original artwork!
The cane really does look more like a staff now, although I think it works. And for some reason, while building it, I thought of Fabius Bile’s cane that’s really some kind of DE-like agoniser — maybe the staff is more than just a walking implement?
I also constructed a custom base for the model, using parts of an old phone card, some brass parts from the 40k basing kit, a vent I had shaved off the back of a Dark Vengeance cultist, and some cork.
Here’s a closer look at the base before painting:
When painting the model, my initial idea was to go for a black coat with red inner lining, although that somehow seemed just a tad too clichéd to me. After giving it some thought, I decided to reverse the recipe: Zuul would be sporting a dark red coat with dark grey lining. The fact that his main rival, Inquisitor Tybalt, has a dark green coat, definitely also played a role when it came to that particular decision…
As a matter of fact, my recently completed model for Inquisitor Alvar was a bit of “test run” to see whether the colour recipe I had in mind for Zuul would work.
Here’s the model with all the base colours blocked in and the first pass of washes in place:
The model was still thoroughly lacking contrast at this point, of course. So I accentuated Zuul’s coat with red to make it pop a little more. However, I paid attention that it didn’t become too bright and flashy. Here’s the model with some additional accents and details:
I also spent quite a bit of time on his face, trying to make it look as “alive” as I possibly could. The base was painted using my regular recipe for rusty metal. When it came to his staff and the sword scabbard on his back, I was a bit unsure on how to progress. PDH encouraged me to try a rather striking greenish turquoise, with an added coat of gloss varnish. And while the result may have ended up slightly more green than I am strictly comfortable with, that was a part of what this project was about: trying new things and stepping outside of my comfort zone…
Anyway, after quite a few painting sessions and some final touchups, the model was finished. I give you Inquisitor Zuul:
All in all, some parts of the model may be slightly rougher around the edges than I would have liked, but in the end, I had to get the model out the door before the deadline expired. And I think I really managed to get across that Zuul is an ancient and experienced Inquisitor who doesn’t hide his convictions or fear any confrontation with his puritan colleagues. PDH remarked that Zuul had “such a weight of years to him”, and I am really happy about that, since it’s one of the things I was trying to achieve with the model!
Here are a couple of additional detail shots:
First up, Zuul with Inquisitor Alvar, who, as I already mentioned, served as a “colour test” of sorts:
While the general colours used may be similar, however, the models still ended up looking quite different: Alvar is younger and more idealistic, and certainly a snappier dresser, while Zuul has a certain feeling of regality and gravitas about him.
And here’s Zuul with my own Inquisitor Antrecht, himself an outspoken radical. I wanted to give Zuul a slightly superior patrician vibe, just the same as Antrecht.
By the way, this is possibly my favourite angle of Zuul:
So yeah, I certainly hope the model’s good enough to pass for Zuul during the Inqvitational! While it may not be perfect, I must say I am at least reasonably pleased with how it turned out. Plus building a model to resemble a piece of artwork was a completely new and refreshing challenge! Which actually begs the question: Does the model for Zuul resemble the artwork it was based on at all? Here’s a composite with the artwork and model side by side:
As you can see, I changed a number of things, some of them by sheer necessity (like the pose): The Katana-like sword in the artwork was replaced by a more western looking sword. The facial features in the artwork are noticeably sharper, yet that cannot be helped: Trying to change the face itself would surely have ended in disaster. On the other hand, there are also a number of parallels that were strangely coincidental, like the dangling inquisitorial rosette, the (purity) seal on Zuul’s right lapel, the very similar coat or the fact that the armour the model is wearing on its torso could be seen as the same kind of augmetic pipes and doodads seen in the artwork.
Anyway, the model was packed up and sent to PDH, where, after some hair-raising delays caused by my very good friends at the German postal service, it managed to arrive just in time for the Inqvitational. Phew 😉
Huge thanks must go to both Commissar Molotov and PDH for their input and suggestions which have been invaluable during the creation of the model (and, indeed, for allowing me to tackle a rather important supporting character for the Inqvitational)! And thanks to the INQ28 crowd over at the Ammobunker as well for their continued feedback!
Alas, Inquisitor Zuul’s story might end up being a rather short one: There’s a very real chance he won’t survive the run-in with his puritan colleagues this Saturday. In any case, building the model to both resemble the original artwork and express Zuul’s character through the conversion and paintjob have been a great experience. And as for Zuul’s final fate, I’ll keep you posted, of course!
Until then, let me know what you think about the model in the comments section! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!