Nordiska Väsen revisited — the Vaettir

With Christmas right around the corner, what better subject for today’s post than a slightly heartwarming tale, right? So what is this about?

Nordiska Väsen (1)

I’ve already told you a while ago that hobby luminary and kick-ass illustrator Jeff Vader was awesome enought to send me a copy of his wonderful book “Nordiska Väsen” earlier this year, just one case of the amazing generosity I have witnessed since getting back into the hobby, but one that has stayed with me. To understand why I am so in love with the book, it’s important to know that Briand Froud’s and Alan Lee’s seminal “Faeries” is one of my favourite books of all time: It’s a lavishly illustrated tome describing the Fay folk and collecting various folk tales.

Just one example of the wonderfully evocative artwork appearing in "Faeries" | Illustration by Froud/Lee

Just one example of the wonderfully evocative artwork appearing in “Faeries” | Illustration by Froud/Lee

The artwork is nothing short of spectacular and has provided me with lots and lots of inspiration and edification throughout my life — as well as a nightmare or two.

That changeling sketch is still giving me goosebumps, even after all those years | Illustration by Froud/Lee

That changeling sketch is still giving me goosebumps, even after all those years… | Illustration by Froud/Lee

Jeff’s own “Nordiska Väsen” takes some cues from “Faeries” while putting a decidedly Nordic twist on things. Jeff’s style is also wonderful, mixing elements of Froud’s and Lee’s work with influences that recall, for example, Paul Kidby, another illustrator whose work I really love. Jeff brilliantly renders the various members of the fair folk into fantastic illustrations that fill me with the same amount of wonder I recall from browsing through “Faeries” for the first time.

Illustration by Johan Egerkrans

Illustration by Johan Egerkrans


Illustration by Johan Egerkrans

Illustration by Johan Egerkrans


Illustration by Johan Egerkrans

Illustration by Johan Egerkrans


Illustration by Johan Egerkrans

Illustration by Johan Egerkrans

Anyway, it’s a wonderful book, and my sole point of criticism is that I cannot understand the textes accompanying all the pretty pictures, since they are all in Swedish. But even the artwork alone is well worth the price of admission in this case!

What’s more, when the book arrived, I was delighted to discover that Jeff had also added a personal dedication for me, and underneath his very kind words was a drawing of yet another brilliant little goblin. This little guy here:

Johan's goblin

And I thought the best possible way to thank Jeff for his awesome gift would be to build a model based on this sketch and send it over to him — which I actually managed to do very shortly before Christmas, I might add. But all in good order:

When building the model, I dug through my bitzbox and tried to come up with a combination of parts that would create a suitable representation of the artwork. I did have to make some allowances here and there, of course, but this is the conversion I ended up with:

Vaettir WIP (2)
Vaettir WIP (3)
When all is said and done, the model’s basically a Skaven clan rat with a gnoblar head and arms spliced together from Empire flagellant and Dark Eldar Kabalite warrior bitz. It seems like a fairly eclectic combination to be sure, yet it went together into a fairly accurate interpretation of Jeff’s sketch. How to build the massive nose was a question that confounded me for quite a while, until I finally shaved down a Skaven spear and grafted it to the little guy’s – already pretty sizeable – schnozzle. And I used some bitz and bobs to create a backpack resembling the one in the sketch:

Vaettir WIP (1)
It’s not a perfect representation of the artwork, by all means. For instance, my little guy seems to be far less jolly than the one created by Jeff Vader. But I think it’s still reasonably close — there seems to be a certain “family resemblance”. Plus building something so different from most standard GW factions turned out to be a rather liberating experience!

When it came to painting the model, I chose predominantly earthen tones and hues that reminded me, once again, of the artwork appearing in “Faeries”. I also tried to emulate Jeff Vader’s own painting style — which turned out to be quite a difficult task, however, seeing how Jeff is a much better painter than me 😉

Anyway, here’s the finished model based on Jeff’s sketch. Take a look:

Vaettir (1)
Vaettir (4)
Vaettir (6)
Vaettir (3)
Vaettir (5)

I am rather happy with the finished piece, even though it’s merely an approximation of Jeff’s artwork. What’s even better, though, is that Jeff also told me he really likes the model! He calls it the “Vaettir”, which I dearly hope is not the Swedish word for “shitty miniature”, although I am too frightened to use Google Translate in order to find out…

Vaettir (7)
Anyway, not only was this a really fun little project, but it also felt like a good way of repaying Jeff for his generosity. At the same time, I am also aware of all the other people who have shared bitz, models or valuable advice with me over the last twelve months and whom I haven’t yet send a model — sorry guys, I know I’m a terrible person! But hang in there, I will get around to all of you, eventually! In fact, I should make it a new year’s resolution! 🙂

So yeah, so much for my little Christmas tale. Let me wish you all a very merry Christmas, and see you soon when it’s once again time for the annual Eternal Hunts Awards. Until then, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

The Vaettir next to the drawing that inspired the model

The Vaettir next to the drawing that inspired the model

29 Responses to “Nordiska Väsen revisited — the Vaettir”

  1. What a fantastic tribute! I’m sure Johan will be more than pleased!

  2. What a great book, you’re definitely in luck 🙂 Ever seen illustrations from the old Asbjornsen & Moe or H.C. Andersen books? They’re also much in the same dark vein.
    Anyway, I need to add this one on my buy list.

  3. If I am not mistaken Vaettiris a Norse term? Relating more to a plethora of “Fairy tale” creatures 😉 regardless the miniature is a very nice representation of Johans sketch, well done.

  4. That’s such a cool story, and a great homage to the sketch!

  5. Jeff Vader Says:

    I’m so happy and honored to have this litte masterpiece in my figure cabinet. Thank you so much for this wonderful christmas present Kraut!!

    Happy holidays buddy!

  6. Jeff Vader Says:

    Oh… and a “vätte” or “vaettir” is a member of the little people. Similar to gnomes, brownies and boggarts.

  7. Brilliant model KS, very smart use of bits to match the (awesome) sketch so closely! Lovely idea and a happy tale all round. Happy Christmas dude, catch you on the flip side

  8. Dave Taylor Says:

    So many excellent things about this post!

  9. Adam Wier Says:

    Thank you for taking time to show some of the illustrations of Jeff’s book Nordiska Väsen. He has a wonderful and evocative art style that is right at home with folk lore and mystical creatures. I need to look into acquiring the book. 🙂

    Fantastic job on your little goblin conversion. I think you perfectly captured feeling of the illustration. The gnoblar head and the clan rat body were great choices. His long nose is great. 🙂

    • Thanks for the kind words, Adam! And yes, you definitely should acquire that book, as it’s quite wonderful — actually, you might want to get the updated edition of Faeries along with it for even bigger enjoyment 😉

  10. An amazing little figure with such a large meaning to him.

    Merry Christmas, KS! Keep being the inspiration you are, even when you think you aren’t. It’s the best gift you give to any of us in the hobby 🙂

  11. What a cool book! Vaettir looks amazing (both drawn and in miniature), this is truly an awesome hobby community and its great to see things like this.

  12. What a cool looking little guy, perfectly in keep with both 40k and the illustrations from the book somehow.

    • Thanks, mate! He was mostly built to resemble the artwork as well as the general feel of both Jeff Vader’s and Brian Froud’s work, but he could be used as part of a particularly colourful INQ28 retinue, I suppose… 😉

  13. Gorgeous! I used to have the ‘Faeries’ book way back in the day and did little drawings of the faerie folk for an ex (who then appropriated my copy of ‘Faeries’ grrrrr). Such a wonderful book. Must try and get a copy of “Nordiska Väsen” now as it looks stunning. The Vaettir figure you made is brilliant – lovely stuff; really fits in with the book!

  14. Richard Grant Says:

    Where in the US can Nordiska Vasen be purchased

    • Hey man, I have no idea, actually. I think your best bet would be to give Johan a holler over at his blog (The Convertorum): Chances are he’ll know whether there are any places in the US carrying his book.

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