Archive for February, 2016

Inquisitor 28: The Buddy System

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Fluff, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 23, 2016 by krautscientist

So, after last week’s crude drawings, let’s get back to actual models, shall we? 😉 Work on Inquisitor Gotthardt’s retinue continues, and it certainly feels good to finally put some paint on some of these models: The warbands is one of my earliest projects for INQ28, with many of the models dating back a couple of years at this point, so finally painting them, giving them a pat on the head and introducing them to all the nice people out there really feels like I am tying up some loose ends!

So I am going to show you some of the new models I have managed to finish, of course. But I would also like to use this occasion to talk about a certain dynamic about this project – and, in fact, about INQ28 character creation in general – that I find rather fascinating. A warning in advance, though: What follows will be a rather wordy post on the minutiae of my creative process, so if you’re just visiting for the pretty pictures, feel free to scroll down 😉

 

When I created the first characters for Inquisitor Gotthardt’s retinue, the warband was intended as a bit of a foil to the gang I had created immediately beforehand: The warband of one Inquisitor Antrecht:

Inquisitor Antrecht and retinue early 2016
Antrecht is a radical with Istvaanian leanings, and his retinue certainly reflects that: Since many of his colleagues in the Ordos see him as a dangerous heretic, he can no longer move through the Velsen Sector too openly and has to rely on some rather shady characters to do his work for him (such as a runaway Magos, a bounty hunter, a former Officio Assassinorum operative, a twist sniper and an actual daemonhost). The rest of his retinue is made up of arco-flagellants and combat servitors: tragic creatures and certainly not wholesome characters. But in the desert, a man has to take such water as he is offered.

Now Antrecht’s former-friend-turned-pursuer Erasmus Gotthardt is still far more moderate and puritan in his views, even if he has already had to make a compromise here and there. This allows him to travel the sector more freely and recruit retainers that are somewhat less extreme (if still rather unconventional at times). In short, fewer twisted monsters and more actual people. And once again, I wanted the retinue to reflect this quality, lending it a more adventurous, somewhat picaresque feel. I’ve already mentioned that many of the members of the warband are based on the classic archetypes from the Inquisitor rulebook. But while working on the models, something interesting happened: While I started by merely ticking off boxes (Rogue Trader, check. IG veteran, check. Huge Inquisitor in golden armour à la Inquisitor Tyrus, check), the various models suddenly started to develop a life of their own. That is, I started to think about their motivations, their backstories and what had led them into Gotthardt’s service.

Now developments like this always feel very rewarding, because they make the models grow beyond their origins as mere playing pieces into actual characters, which is a lot of fun. But it went even further here in that some of the characters suddenly brought their buddies on board. Case in point, I had a security agent named Remus Ingram, and suddenly I felt that he certainly needed a cyber-mastiff to accompany him on his patrols through the underhive. Now in this particular case, it took me years to find the right base model for the cyborg-canine, but I ultimately did, and now Remus has his personal mutt, “Balzepho”:

Remus Ingram and Cyber-Mastiff (2)
Rogue Trader Iskander Gagarin was a similar case: The model was originally built to resemble Duke von Castellan from the Inquisitor rulebook: a strangely eclectic character in a fantasy uniform. So far so good. But when PDH sent me a powder monkey from one of the WFB Empire kits one day, I realised that the little guy would make for an ideal pet for the flamboyant Rogue Trader with a bit of work. So PeeDee the Monkey was born — and became the actual template for Iskander’s paintjob later on:

Rogue Trader Iskander Gagarin and PeeDee the Monkey
Now neither the dog nor the monkey are extremely deep and important characters in the larger narrative, of course. But they serve as a deeper explorations of certain facets of their respective masters, if you will, making the characters a bit more real in the process. Plus they were just a lot of fun to build and paint!

Now one of the new models I promised you really takes this whole buddy concept to the next level. You may remember Cpt. Esteban Revas, one of my oldest INQ28 characters (he also has quite a bit of backstory as well):

Esteban Revas (1)
I originally built Esteban as a variation of the IG veteran archeytpe. I really liked the idea of a guard regiment in (somewhat ridiculous) getup recalling both renaissance clothing as well as the military uniforms of the 18/19th century. The resulting model was built with a much smaller bitzbox than I have today, but I am still enormously fond of Esteban even now: I think the model is really quite characterful. Esteban Revas looks like a rather arrogant peacock, but there’s also a hint at something deeper, a hidden tragedy maybe? Plus there’s always the fact that he must have had some inner quality to become a member of an Inquisitorial retinue.

The longer I thought about the character, the more I felt that his background deserved further exploration: I had invented a regiment for him, the 126th Haaruthian Dragoons, but that was just a name and didn’t really mean anything. But now I started thinking about Haaruthia, about the Dragoons and about Esteban’s backstory, and suddenly I had an idea about another character to accompany the good Captain:

An aristocratic officer like Revas would certainly have some kind of servant to lug around his gear, clean his boots and just serve as a whipping boy, if the need arises, right? So with that idea in the back of my head, I built the first version for Trooper Salvador ‘Sal’ Koltz, formerly of the 126th Haaruthian Dragoons and personal retainer to House Revas:

Trooper Koltz WIP (1)
Koltz was originally created as a bit of a joke character, actually: His almost medieval getup was a hint at the feudalist structures inside the Haaruthian military, with proud nobles being handed officers’ ranks without any need for actual qualification while the commoners could only ever hope for a place in the trenches, more fodder for the meatgrinder of war. At the same time, I gave him a huge amount of gear to lug around, because just because we’re in a warzone doesn’t mean that Cpt. Revas can possibly do without his smoking utensils, right? In a small yet effective stroke of absurdity, I even added a small treasure chest from the Bretonnian Men-at-arms kit to the pile of gear on Koltz’ back. The screaming head from an old Empire kit was chosen to invoke the impression that Koltz is just a regular guy who is way out of his depth: “What has that idiot gotten me into this time?”, he seems to be hollering.

While I was happy enough with the resulting model, the various characters in the warband were still very much in flux, and so Esteban Revas became more and more rounded-out: While he remained a proud and haughty character, his backstory also revealed a deeper nobility, an inner urge to do what’s right and neccessary. And while this made him a better, more believable character, it also meant that Koltz would have to grow along with him, becoming less of a caricature and more of a believable person himself. I exchanged lots of ideas on this matter with DexterKong, and in the end, while the Master and servant dynamic between the two characters remained in place, Koltz also became a straight man to Esteban, serving as an unabashedly lowbrow, yet also surprisingly cunning and loyal foil to his master. I wanted him to be less downtrodden and more confident. This coincided with a small but important change to the model: Dexter suggested replacing the characterful (but somewhat panicky) head with another bit from the Empire range, this time from the Free Company:

Trooper Koltz alternate head (2)
And I think you’ll agree with me that the different head totally changes the feel of the model: Koltz looked way more confident and self-assured now. A grizzled veteran rather than a panicked everyman. The screaming head was cool, no doubt about that, but it simply no longer told the right story.

I was really happy with the model at this point, all things considered. So what did I do next? Well, I put Koltz away and didn’t paint him for several years, that’s what 😉 But after Esteban Revas was completed a while ago, Koltz’ time had finally come, and so I dusted off the model and got to work last weekend.

And while the model may be a fairly straighforward conversion, coming up with the right paintjob turned out to be rather challenging for a number of reasons: For one, it shouldn’t surprise you that I wanted Koltz and Esteban to really work as a pair within the bigger framework of the warband, with Koltz serving as a straight man to his, ultimately decent yet also fairly foppish, superior, and they also embody the class distinctions in the Haaruthian military, with commoners serving as the rank and file, while the nobles (with their very romantic concept of warfare) get handed the command, with little to no regard to their actual suitability for such positions.

I tried to achieve it by painting Koltz’ livery in a way that makes it look like a less grandiose, ruddier version of Esteban’s dress uniform. I also wanted to include some hints to the 126th Haaruthian Dragoons’ heraldry. And while I wanted the model to look a bit more subdued, I also needed to add some small touches and tweaks to make it suitably interesting from a visual standpoint.

So here’s what I ended up with:

Trooper Salvador 'Sal' Koltz (7)
Trooper Salvador 'Sal' Koltz (2)
Trooper Salvador 'Sal' Koltz (9)
Trooper Salvador 'Sal' Koltz (10)
While Koltz may no longer technically be a member of the Dragoons, he’s still wearing their colours and heraldry, including a numeral “126” on his left shoulder pad (spliced together from two Cadian decals — maybe I should have looked at the available numbers beforehand and then chosen the regimental number afterwards…), a generic IG winged skull on his right shoulder pad and a small plaque with a stylised “H” (for Haaruthia) dangling from his belt. He also has the same very dark silver armour with a gloss finish as his master.

Here’s a look at all the gear on his back:

Trooper Salvador 'Sal' Koltz (11)

Making him look like a bit of a packing mule without seeming comically over-encumbered was a bit of a challenge, but I think the overall effect really works. I still think that small treasure chest is a rather beautiful touch 😉

Trooper Salvador 'Sal' Koltz (12)
In order to add some subtle visual flourishes to the model, I have Koltz a five o’ clock shadow on his face and added a slight woodgrain pattern to the casing of his rifle. Both effects may not be spectacular or anything, but I am still fairly pleased with the result!

Trooper Salvador 'Sal' Koltz (8)
Bound by a debt of honour to Lord Bestrald Salazar Revas, Trooper Salvador “Sal” Koltz has vowed lifelong service to House Revas and has become Esteban Revas’ personal retainer, serving under him in the 126th Haaruthian Dragoons and following him into the service of Inquisitor Erasmus Gotthardt afterwards. While he may seem irreverent, indolent and unashamdely lowbrow at first glance, Koltz actions reveal a surprisingly crafty and unfailingly loyal individual whose feeling of obligation towards Cpt. Revas goes far beyond any notions of military discipline.

 

So much for the character himself. Here’s Koltz and Revas together — I hope you’ll agree with me that there really is a certain dynamic between the two models:

Esteban Revas and Trooper Koltz (2)

Koltz may not be a spectacular piece, but I am still enormously pleased with the model. When all is said and done, my chief goal in this hobby is to invent, build and paint characters rather than mere playing pieces, and it just feels like I have come pretty close to achieving that goal with these two guys!

As for the bigger picture, additional buddies like the two cyber-pets and Trooper Koltz have made Inquisitor Gotthardt’s retinue grow beyond what was originally planned, and that is something that has indeed happened to me on several projects. But while the temptation to add a character here and there might get me sidetracked occasionally, it’s also a great way of further exploring the inner workings and backstory of any given warband/army, so it’s a temptation that I am usually just too happy to indulge! 🙂

One more model before we wind up, and yet another oldie but goldie 😉 Back when I built the first models for Inquisitor Gotthardt’s retinue, I decided to also include a character based on the “Drill-Abbot” archetype from the Inquisitor rulebook. So I made this guy:

Drill Abbot WIP (3)
Another fairly simple conversion, and one that reproduces several elements of GW’s 54mm model for Preacher Josef, such as the robe, thunder hammer and devotional knicknacks. But while I was happy enough with the conversion itself, it took me ages to find the right angle for this guy: Call me weird, but it’s far easier for me to actually paint a model for INQ28 when I have even the slightest idea of who they are as a character.

Unbelievably enough, it took a couple of years for me to return to this model, but suddenly things just fell into place: I was thinking of the “Quelling of St. Berthold”, an event DexterKong came up with for our shared INQ28 setting, the Velsen sector. I don’t want to give too much away, seeing how Dexter is probably going to reveal some of the story on his blog sooner rather than later, but the general idea is that a daemonic incursion occured at St. Berthold and had to be fought back by a coalition of Imperial forces. For a number of reasons, the event became a turning point in the lives of many of the characters involved. Looking at my little drill abbot here, I asked myself: What if he participated in the operation as a member of the Imperial Guard? And what if the things he saw during that campaign instilled in him an utter piety born out of sheer terror and made him take a cloth and become an Ecclesiarchy cleric?
Not a momentous idea, certainly, but it was enough to rekindle my interest in the model and finally get it painted. So here’s the finished Drill Abbot:

Father Harlan (1)
Father Harlan (2)
Father Harlan (3)
Father Harlan (4)
Father Harlan (5)
Funnily enough, I chose a colour palette very close to the one used by the ‘Eavy Metal team for Preacher Josef — I just liked the look of the paintjob and also thought it might go well with the rest of the warband. But even though much about the model recreates GW’s Preacher Josef, I hope there’s still enough originality about Father Harlan to turn him into a character in his own right.

In fact, one aspect of the model ultimately turned into a part of his character in a rather organic way: When I originally posted the WIP model on the Ammobunker, a fellow forumite joked that the little casket worn at the model’s right hip probably contained some kind of alcoholic beverage. Now I had originally intended that element as a vessel for holy water or some kind of unguent, but I liked the idea, so when PDH suggested adding a drinking cup to the model’s gearbelt, I did just that. Now given Father Harlan’s backstory, maybe his drinking habit might be another consequence of his experiences at St. Berthold?

Father Harlan (6)
Father Endric Harlan is a Drill-Abbot of the Velsian Ecclesiarchy currently serving as personal confessor to Inquisitor Erasmus Gotthardt. A veteran of the Imperial Guard, his experiences during the Quelling of St. Bertholdt led him to pursuing a life of piety, haunted by the utter fear born of of having witnessed firsthand the terrible powers of chaos.

 

Regarding the bigger picture, I am really happy to say that I have managed to finish nearly all the members of Inquisitor Gotthardt’s retinue — just one more character to go, although that will be quite a challenge. Because the last member of the warband will be Elisha Gorgo:

Elisha Gorgo (3)
We’ll see how that turns out…

In the meantime however, here’s a look at the retinue so far:

Inquisitor Gotthardt and retinue early 2016 (4)

I hope you have enjoyed my – unfortunately rather wordy – look at my creative process. Please don’t hesitate to let me know any feedback you might have! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Eternal Hunt is four – drawing from the distant past…

Posted in Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2016 by krautscientist

yearfour

Eternal Hunt turns four this week, and while I am still going through a bit of a rocky patch in my personal life, this does like a pretty cool achievement to me: Who would have expected this blog to keep running for such a relatively long time, back when I posted my first dodgy photos of some World Eaters back in 2012? Not me, I can tell you — especially since blogging tends to get more and more work the longer you keep at it, at least if you’re trying to put some actual effort into it 😉

But here we are, four years later, with exactly 305 posts (including this one), about 590,000 views and 255 followers from all around the world — what a wonderful development!

A heartfelt thank you to all the readers, commenters, referrers and people who keep sending me little pieces of plastic from halfway across the globe! In fact, as if to prove the incredible amount of generosity fellow hobbyists have been showing me over the last couple of years, I received a package from PDH only today, containing – incredibly enough – his version of Lord Zhufor the Impaler!

Lord Zhufor by PDH (1)
Lord Zhufor by PDH (2)
I recall Peter painting this guy in another life, when he was still a follower of the one true chaos god 😉 But actually seeing the model before me on my desktop as I am writing this just makes me grin like a madman.

And here’s Zhufor hobnobbing with his new BFF:

Zhufor and Lorimar
Those two guys are doubtlessly sharing the best skulltaking tricks from ten millennia of warfare…

Anyway, this is an incredibly gift – thank you so much, Peter! – and it’s also one of many examples for the good things that have happened to me hobby-wise ever since I started up this blog: Having you join me on this Eternal Hunt has really made the hobby so much better for me. And I remain committed to keeping this blog going as long as I can — in fact, I’ve had a rather successful hobby year in 2015, in spite of everything, so let’s hope it’ll be the same way this year!

 

Now, in addition to all the self-congratulatory babble, I would like once again to use this birthday post to give you a look at a veritable blast from the past in the form of some exclusive material from my earlier hobby years: I recently came upon a folder with lots and lots of drawings, half-baked background texts and ideas for grand sweeping narratives that never really went anywhere from my teenage years, and I thought it might be fun to share some of the artwork with you, at least.

Just to put this into perspective, I used to do a ton of drawing during my youth, from cartoons and caricatures to the stuff you’re about to see. And while I was certainly no Johan Egerkrans, for instance, I do think my fineliner pen and me had a couple of pretty good years 😉 It seems strange – and slightly inappropriate – to show you my somewhat dodgy sketches back to back with a celebration of Wayne England’s wonderful work — and yet, maybe it’s really rather fitting, because it’s proof of how important artwork and illustrations were for me when getting into this common hobby of ours. So let’s take a peek, shall we?

A couple of pointers, however, before we begin:

  • Most of this stuff is about twenty years old at this point, some of it even older. So be gentle with me, okay? 😉
  • What strikes me is how utterly derivative some of this work is — or let’s rather say: how heavily it draws from the seminal influences of the time, ranging from Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf books to videogames and, of course, GW’s various offerings. You’ll find a wild mish-mash of all those influences, so I guess looking at those cobbled together drawings gives you a pretty neat psychological study of my formative hobby years, I suppose…
  • back then, I didn’t yet have a grasp of the intricacies of the Warhammer background, as my only real GW publications back then were the booklets from HeroQuest and the Advanced HeroQuest sourcebook. This is why you’ll see lots of symbols from the Warhammer background, especially the Skaven symbol for some reason, crop up in entirely inappropriate places…

 

So with that out of the way, here we go, just step into the time machine with me:

It’s the early 90s, and totally high on a mixture of Choose your own adventure books, HeroQuest and classical pen and paper RPGs like D&D and the German blockbuster “Das Schwarze Auge”, my younger self decides to come up with a roleplaying campaign. While some of the details escape me now, I remember the campaign was about infiltrating the keep of a powerful undead warlord (yeah, I know, shockingly original material…), and since it would ultimately have played out as some kind of pen & paper RPG, it was clear to me that I would need lots and lots of flavour material to really set the stage for the adventure.

I had always loved the way Gary Chalk’s small illustrations were used in the Lone Wolf books, so I just stole them wholesale for my own story and sprinkled them throughout my – thoroughly unoriginal – background section.

Blatantly stolen from Gary Chalk
I also had a number of maps ready for use, including the arch villain’s retreat:

Dungeon Floorplan
Those of you familiar with D&D will probably recognise many of the map symbols from there.

In addition to copying artwork I liked left and right (I remember carefully tracing several characters from a huge illustration by Chris Achilleos, for example), I at least tried to come up with some concepts of my own. For instance, my idea was for the story to use a number of pre-defined player characters, and some of the sketches for those remain. Here’s the character I liked most back then:

early 90s PC

I really had a bit of a thing for mysterious, cowled characters in those years, as you can see. And the “Schwarze Auge” rulebook provided me with an abundance of armour designs I could copy in my own drawings. In hindsight, the most original thing about this guy are probably the bold colours of his outfit — quite a fashion statement, if I do say so myself… 😉

There’s also this wizard who may or may not have become another possible PC:

early 90s Wizard
And while it’s easy enough to see the numerous shortcomings in those drawings in hindsight, I am still enormously fond of them, warts and all, because they really show what kind of stuff influenced me back then and how I tried to disassemble the parts I liked and put them together again while trying to put a personal spin on them — something not at all unlike the conversion work I love so much these days, come to think of it…

Ultimately, my bold RPG venture never amounted to anything much. It’s probably safe to say that I had bitten off more than I could chew.

That didn’t stop me from trying again several years later, during the mid-to-late 90s: This time around, evene more influences had been added to the melting pot, among them Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy as well as Blizzard’s Warcraft 2 (yes, children, there were actually games set in that universe before WoW. They were pretty great).

Anyway, once again I drew it all together in my adolescent mind and created a scenario that drew from each of these sources. I even started to write my own fantasy novel – provisionally named “Ydgard” – to provide the setting with the necessary sense of depth (I still have the ancient .txt document for the first third or so of that novel, although I shudder at the prospect of ever having to look at it again — maybe for the blog’s 5th birthday).

So I wanted to tell another sweeping fantasy story, but I was a little more clever about it this time around, basing it on the – rock solid – foundation of the Advanced HeroQuest rules: My idea was to take a part of the background I had come up with and run Advanced HeroQuest games in that setting to tell the whole story as seen from the worm’s eye-view, so to speak. If I remember correctly, I even managed to run some of those games with both my dad and my best friend at the time, and they were really fun. Then I went and wrote up “novelised” versions of those games to make up a part of the greater background story. Fun times! 😉

Now what’s interesting about this whole endeavour is that I decided to accompany it with lots and lots of drawings. I came up with all kinds of stuff, including flags for the various provinces of the evil overlord’s realm (heavily inspired by the various clan symbols from Warcraft 2):

Evil Nations

Oh my, it just occurs to me that the blade of that halberd at the top was actually influenced by one of my all time favourite illustrations by John Blanche:

"Fight to the Finish: Law Against Chaos" by John Blanche

“Fight to the Finish: Law Against Chaos” by John Blanche

But anyway, what really made the drawings rather interesting this time around is how many of them were actually based actual models.

For instance, I had all those different greenskin models from various (GW) games, and I decided to use them as different ranks and enemy types. And then I drew up some art based on the actual models in order to create a kind of bestiary for the background section of my scenario. Take a look:

gobbos01
First up, the goblins: From left to right, we have the humble footslogging gobbo (based on the goblins from Battle Masters), a goblin rifleman (based on a Space Crusade model) and finally a wolf rider (once again inspired by the corresponding Battle Masters) model.

The drawings from the various types of Orcs followed the exact same approach:

Orcs02
On the left, you can see a bog standard Orc resembling one of the classic HeroQuest Orcs. The guy on the right was, once again, based on a model from Battle Masters (I am actually still rather happy with that drawing, apart from a few minor minor quibbles).

The rest of the Orc ranks were firmly based on the GW Warhammer plastic models of the time:

Orcs01

The two guys on the left are basically the plastic Orcs that could be bought in small boxes of ten. Those models seem so rough and silly nowadays, but back then, the discovery of plastic models depticting Orc archers really blew my mind. The big guy on the right was my drawing of a Black Orc, from the same series of one-pose, single piece plastic kits.

I think it’s really rather entertaining how those sketches capture an entire generation of Citadel plastic greenskins, wouldn’t you agree? 😉

As a matter of fact, these drawings really had their day in the limelight some time in 1998, when my good friend Phil and I actually used them to illustrate a school presentation about the various races appearing in Tolkien’s Hobbit — since we were reading the book during English classes in the eleventh grade. That was really a triumph, to be able to use some of my fantasy drawings to actually scoop a high grade 😉

While we are on the matter of illustrations copied from GW plastic models, here’s another example:

Warrior of Chaos

A Chaos Warrior heavily inspired by these guys:

My first chaos army (15)
Take note of the completely nonsensical use of the Skaven rune on the warriors, breastplate, though…

GW wasn’t the only source I was happily stealing inspiration from, however. Just take this demon lord…

Demon Lord (totally not Diablo)
…and compare his face to the cover illustration for the – then brand new – Diablo. Yeah…

In spite of the derivative nature of my work, however, I did occasionally have my moments. I still rather like this – original – drawing of a Minotaur, for instance (except for that pesky Skaven rune that has once again managed to sneak into the picture…):

Minotaur
This wizard is another one of my favourite drawings from that time, and I think the illustration has managed to age fairly gracefully:

90s Wizard

Once again, however, the heraldry is all over the place, with a (WFB greenskin) Bad Moon making an appearance alongside the symbol for Mutant Chronicles’ Brotherhood. Oh well…

And to round things out, here’s a pretty detailed, yet anatomically rather wonky dwarf warrior for you:

90s Dwarf

At least this guy doesn’t feature any Skaven symbols for a change…

And once again, while I can easily see the many hokey parts in each of these illustrations, I was probably at the top of my game back then, at least when it came to drawing fantasy pieces.

Soon after, I properly got into Warhammer Fantasy Battles (and finally learned the meaning behind all of those runes and symbols — no more misplaced Skaven runes). And for some reason, the drawing of characters more or less fell by the wayside — maybe because I could now actually build them? I think it also had to do with my dabbling in designing stuff digitally and using layout software: Having to draw it all out on paper started to feel pretty old-fashioned — what can I say? I was young and foolish.

This must have been around 1999/2000, and while I would still occasionally sketch some fantasy creature or other – like these two sketches made to kill some time, if I recall correctly,…

Late 90s Dragon sketches (1)

Late 90s Dragon sketches (2)
…you can basically tell that my heart was no longer really in it at this point. Those dragons are just idle scribblings without any greater narrative (or, for that matter, a corresponding Citadel model) to inspire them.

But those were fun times, and they paved the way for my hobby activities today: Maybe the derivative quality of my drawings explains why I have so much fun converting models, because, in a way, it’s just the same approach in a different medium: I take all kinds of elements that I like and reorganise them into something new that embodies the qualities and characteristics I enjoy about the background.

Looking at those drawings, I also feel that maybe I shouldn’t have given up drawing, even if I wasn’t a genius or anything: These days, I can still pick up a pen and make a fairly brave attempt every once in a while, but I no longer feels as natural, nor does it come to me as easily as it used to, making rendering my ideas on paper quite a challenge more often than not. If anything, it feels like a muscle I haven’t exercised in years, and I suppose that’s a very apt comparison. That said, I can still occasionally pull it off with a bit of work, as I discovered when a friend working in employe recruitment commissioned me for a spot of graphic recording a couple of months ago.

 

But anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane — or you’ve at least gotten a chuckle out of some of those crude drawings of mine. In any case, thanks once again for taking an interest! It goes without saying that I’d love to hear any feedback you might have. And here’s to the next year of Eternal Hunting, eh? 😉

As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Wayne England – In Memoriam

Posted in 40k, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2016 by krautscientist

It’s only February, but 2016 certainly hasn’t been pulling its punches so far, with some spectacularly talented people sadly departed from this planet these last few weeks. Unfortunately, Wayne England is now among those departed, and I was very sad to learn yesterday that he had passed away, because he has been an all time favourite among GW’s artists for me: His very stylised, angular illustrations of heavily armoured – and mostly very evil – guys were one of the most effective gateway drugs for getting me in this hobby and played a big part when permanently roping me into assembling and painting little spiky plastic men. In fact, Wayne England’s work was probably just about as important for getting me into the hobby as the iconic illustrations by John Blanche, especially during my younger years, when the latter’s work sometimes just seemed a bit too trippy for me to grasp 😉

By the same token, some of GW’s publications – and indeed some stages of my own hobby life – will always be inextricably tied to Wayne England’s artwork, so in honour of this great artist, allow me to reminisce for a bit:

 

Army Book Realm of Chaos and the Champions of Chaos Supplement

These were the first chaos army books I ever owned, and I can still remember poring over Wyne England’s tableaus of jagged chaotic weaponry and armour in search of possible conversion ideas as a lad:

Wayne England artwork (18)

And his cover for the Champions of Chaos supplement was probably even more iconic (and also served as the cover for my first ever issue of White Dwarf, incidentally):

Wayne England artwork (17)

This bad boy really embodied everything that I loved about the hordes of chaos back then: He’s heavily armoured, faceless, spiky and utterly menacing – what’s not to love?

 

3rd edition Codex Chaos Space Marines cover

My first CSM Codex  — and the one iteration of the book that I think most chaos players would rather like to forget: This Codex was one of the first to follow GW’s somewhat questionable idea of radically reducing the Codices in scope (in order to be able to produce more of them at a faster rate). Alas, it didn’t end well, as the resulting books ended up feeling rather thin in more ways than one. But something that still stays with me is the warped, iron-toothed champion of the ruinous powers to adorn the book’s cover, once again courtesy of Wayne England:

Wayne England artwork (8)

In a way, this illustration actually serves as a perfect companion piece to the aforementioned cover of “Champions of Chaos”, with both pictures creating perfect avatars of the WFB and 40k sides of chaos, respectively.

 

3rd edition Warhammer 40k rulebook
This book ‘s background section has often been called one of the darkest versions of the 40k universe, and this is at least true when looking at the very dark, brooding black and white artwork appearing throughout the book. Wayne England created a couple of extraordinarily dark pieces, giving us, among other things, some very grimdark interpretations of the three monkeys,…

Wayne England artwork (20)

Wayne England artwork (19)

…a brilliantly creepy illustration presumably showing a Dark Eldar Haemonculus that had me marveling at how monstrous these guys seemed…

Wayne England artwork (21)

…a splash page perfectly capturing the Astartes’ duality between noble and righteous warriors and creepily inhuman weapons of mass destruction:

Wayne England artwork (22)

….and finally what may still be my favourite piece of Dark Eldar art, even after all these years:

Wayne England artwork (11)

 

2nd edition Codex Chaos

Actually published earlier than at least the two previous entries on this list, of course, but I didn’t own the book until well into the 2000s. It remains one of my favourite GW books ever, as you may remember. Of course I was delighted to discover some very cool Wayne England artwork in this book as well. Such as one of my all time favourite World Eaters:

Wayne England artwork (23)

I actually think Wayne England may also have been responsible for the original version of the various traitor legion symbols published in this book – at the very least, they seem to show quite a few hallmarks of his style. I still love these symbols and the amount of detail that has gone into them – Forgeworld’s treatment of the traitor legion heraldry notwithstanding, these older versions blow all of the newer interpretations out of the water, if you ask me.

 

And all of this is really merely scratching the surface: How can I not mention the excellent illustrations for Kharn the Betrayer or Angron from the Horus Heresy trading card game, along with more excellent work from the same source (In fact, his work for the setting really managed to give the Heresy an epic and mythical quality, something that seems to be missing from the more codified, cleaner artwork of recent years)? Or the beautifully forlorn voidborn? Or the seminal Sons of Sekh art? In fact, let me just share just a few of my favourite pieces by Wayne England that appeared beyond the books mentioned above:

In short, Wayne England’s work has always been emblematic of GW’s style during some of my formative hobby years, especially when it came to portraying the forces of chaos. I remember reading about him participating in the Oldhammer scene a fair bit recently, and while that scene’s old school sensibilities don’t always fully agree with me, I was still very happy to see him make an appearance there. He also created a brilliant illustration for morbäck, depicting the latter’s Chaos Lord Korthalis a while ago. It’s an excellent piece of art with all the strengths of his vintage GW artwork, and Maxime must be incredibly happy to have received it – even moreso in the light of recent events.
Wayne England’s artwork still speaks to me many years later, and his trademark style added a layer of visual identity to GW’s publications that is sadly lacking from the newer books – and has been for quite a while.

My heart goes out to his family. And thank you, Mr. England, for all the wonderfully spiky evil guys! And all the best to you, wherever you may be now!

Inquisitor 28: A Man of the Void-Sea

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Fluff, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2016 by krautscientist

At the moment, I frequently feel drawn towards some of my earlier INQ28 conversions — not only due to a desire to finally finish those models, although that does obviously play a part in the matter, but also because after all the ultra-grimdark stuff, it’s enjoyable to return to the somewhat simpler archetypes laid out in the Inquisitor Rulebook: the Rogue Trader, the Security Agent. After all, let’s not forget that those archetypes seemed pretty out-there and grimdark back when the game was originally released, at least to those of us who had only been used to 40k proper at that time.

Nowadays, after several years of hobbyists doing their darnedest to come up with ever more creative and spectacular characters (and to great effect, I might add!), some of those character archetypes may seem almost pedestrian by comparison, but they do have a swashbuckling charm that I like, and returning to some of those earlier ideas just feels like the right thing for me, so here goes:

Enter a conversion I created a couple of years ago for the retinue of Inquisitor Erasmus Gotthardt, Rogue Trader Iskander Gagarin:

Rogue Trader Iskander Gagarin WIP (1)

This was actually one of my very first INQ28 conversions, and I guess it shows, both in how closely it retreads some of the design cues from the stock 54mm models (Von Castellan, in this case) and how the model is a testament to my much smaller bitzbox in those times: It was mainly built from Cadian parts and some leftovers from the Empire models that came with the 6th edition WFB starter box. But in the end, I am still pretty pleased with the way the model channels both the 18th century military look typical of many of GW’s own rogue trader concepts as well as the flamboyance expected from such an individual, as evidenced by the xenos weaponry (I am so happy I still had that 2nd edition shuriken pistol!), the fur coat or the rather outrageous topknot.

I had wanted to get the model painted for years, and now I felt it was finally time. So I blew off the dust and made some finishing touches in order to spruce up the model for its day in the limelight:

Rogue Trader Iskander Gagarin WIP (1)
Rogue Trader Iskander Gagarin WIP (2)
I only really added a bit or two, but the one tricky part was to splice a suitably impressive ring (from the Skaven Stormvermin, of all places) onto that pointy finger. That did take some rather delicate cutting, but Iskander just seemed like the kind of guy who would wear a clunky signet ring (probably doubling as a digital laser, come to think of it), so there was ultimately no choice in the matter 😉

When it came to actually painting the model, I had basically figured out the colour palette quite a while ago, back when I painted Iskander’s little familiar, PeeDee the Monkey:

PeeDee (5)
So I bascially stuck to those colours, going for a paintjob that was at once suitably militaristic, but also flamboyant enough for a man of Gagarin’s station. And while the result possibly isn’t one of my more technically accomplished paintjobs, I do think it manages to sell the character. Take a look:

Rogue Trader Iskander Gagarin (1)

“Ceruleam est Terra. Imperator Deus est.”
Motto of House Gagarin

Iskander Gagarin is a Rogue Trader of some renown operating in the Velsen Sector, and scion of the Gagarin merchant house — a house, according to Gagarin himself, that was one of the first in the galaxy to actually sail out into the great void-sea. An outrageous claim, certainly, but House Gagarin’s trade warrant is real enough, signed and stamped millennia ago on Holy Terra, and Iskander has built a small but considerable merchant empire based on his exploits into the treacherous region of space know as the Veil of Impurity.

In fact, it was after one particularly daring expedition into that cluster of stars that the rogue trader crossed paths with Inquisitor Erasmus Gotthardt. Back then, the Ordo Xenos Velsen was hot on Gagarin’s heels, pursuing him for smuggling Xenos contraband. And so Gotthardt offered his protection to the rogue trader, expecting his continued cooperation in return — and thus did Iskander Gagarin become a member of Inquisitor Gotthardt’s retinue

At first glance, Gagarin may seem like a braggart and ladies’ man, above all else, entirely too full of himself and utterly irresponsible. But while those traits may be very real facets of his personality, the outer veneer of a flamboyant merchant king hides a surprisingly resourceful individual, and it is for this reason that Iskander Gagarin has become one of Inquisitor Gotthardt’s most capable associates.

Rogue Trader Iskander Gagarin (2)

Rogue Trader Iskander Gagarin (3)

Rogue Trader Iskander Gagarin (4)

Along with the signet ring, I also added a hip flask to Gagarin’s belt as a last minute addition: Just because he’s in the middle of a black ops for the Ordo Hereticus doesn’t mean a real man of the world cannot take a quick sip of priceless Amasec now, does it? 😉

Rogue Trader Iskander Gagarin (5)
And here’s Iskander next to his personal pet, PeeDee the Monkey:

Rogue Trader Iskander Gagarin and PeeDee the Monkey

I feels good to finally have finished one of my oldest conversions 😉 And as an added benefit, completing Gagarin also brings Inquisitor Gotthardt’s retinue a fair bit closer towards completion as well. Here’s a quick shot of the retinue as it stands right now:

Inquisitor Gotthardt and Retinue early 2016
While I was at it, I made some small touchups to the other models, such as repainting some parts of the bases so they would fit together and finally adding some Inquisitorial symbols to Gotthardt himself. One thing that I like is how Gagarin’s paintjob also functions as a bit of visual storytelling: In the retinue’s background, Gagarin and Esteban Revas are rivals and works as foils to each other. Which is why their paintjobs share quite a few similarities, while Gagarin seems more flamboyant. Anyway, there’s really quite a bit of backstory in place for these characters, and they really do feel like fleshed-out characters to me rather than mere playing pieces, which I think is a good thing.

So yeah, just a fun little paintjob and a chance to finally tie up some loose ends. What’s not to like, right? 😉
But seriously: I’d love to hear your feedback, of course! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!