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:
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”:
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:
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):
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:
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:
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:
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:
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 😉
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!
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:
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:
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:
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 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:
In the meantime however, here’s a look at the retinue so far:
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!