Archive for artwork

State of the Hunt, Week 32/2019: Chaotic exploration

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Fluff, state of the hunt, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2019 by krautscientist

Hey everyone, Real Life (TM) has been a veritable rollercoaster lately, so I haven’t been as productive on the hobby front as I would have liked. If anything, however, that’s actually a plus because it frees up some space to share a couple of chaotic kitbashes I have been creating by putting the “new” (granted, they have been around for a while at this point) Chaos Space Marine kits through their paces. Take a look:


I. The Blightwood grows…

The first model I would like to share with you today isn’t even such a huge project, but rather an example of using some óf the new bitz to spruce up existing conversions. Enter exhibit A, a kitbashed Foul Blightspawn I created earlier this year.

My original idea for the model was to a) make the most of a leftover extra Malignant Plaguecaster model that I had cannibalised for bitz and use the remains to build yet another Death Guard character and b) get rid of some of the parts of the stock Foul Blightspawn that I really didn’t like, such as the massive pump sutured into the model’s flesh and the weird garden hose-style weapon.

So the original model was already working pretty well for the most part, but it was also still lacking something — and to make things worse, before the new CSM models were released, I didn’t have any correctly scaled CSM parts to tweak it a bit more.

But a headswap, courtesy of the new vanilla CSM kit gave me this:

I didn’t really like the CSM head with the one “googly” eye (normally intended for the squad’s heavy weapons expert), but it works really well for a follower of Nurgle. I spliced together a breathing apparatus as well, while I was at it, and opened up the pose a bit.

I am still rather fond of the core idea of the conversion – using an Escher chem thrower to make a slightly more conventional version of the Blightspawn’s stock weapon – although I think I also did a reasonably good job splicing together one of those WW I-style Blight grenades from a couple of bitz:

I also saw an extremely clever idea over at ssspectre’s blog that I had to steal right away: He used a turbine from a Raptor jump pack to create this kind of weird, bulky engine/pump on the back of a Nurglite model, and I did the same on my Blightspawn conversion, adding a bit of bulk and weirdness to the backpack.

In fact, I even made one more tweak after taking the photos above, adding some semi-organic cabling to the backpack that I carefully clipped off one of the new Havoc rocket launchers and backpacks.

And, just for fun, a comparison shot with my (slightly converted) Plaguecaster and the new Blightspawn — both use the same base model:

After using some smaller bitz and bobs from the new CSM kits like that, I felt the need to get a little more creative. So that’s what I did:


II. Iron Within…

This next model is a slightly bolder project, and also makes even more use of the new CSM kits: I had an idea for a Warpsmith-like Iron Warriors character, eventually to be used in my Iron Warriors Killteam I suppose. So I made this guy:

The body intended for the heavy bolter wielding marine from the vanilla CSM kit made for a nice start, providing a suitably bulky, archaically armoured body with a stoic pose. The arms and shoulder pads also came from the vanilla CSM — for the most part. I did feel the need to include a somewhat more impressive weapon for a Warpsmith of the IV Legion, so I spliced together the left arm using an (Age of Sigmar) Varanguard hammer and a forearm and haft from the Chaos Lord on Manticore (since I needed a left hand holding a weapon for this conversion). The backpack started out as a backpack from the new Havoc kit: I really liked the reactor look it had going on! I simply shaved away some of the cabling, added a loader arm (from a Havoc missile launcher backpack) that should work just as well, if not better, as a proper servo-arm, and also added some tech-y bitz – including the heavily augmetic head – from the Adeptus Mechanicus Kataphron kit.

I think the model proves how even the vanilla CSM kit,with just a few bitz from other kits sprinkled on top, can be used to produce rather imposing characters and commanders!


IV. The Hateful Eight cont’d

All roads lead before Khorne’s throne, however, so those earlier kitbashes were merely an appetiser before the inevitable main course. Which is a roundabout way of telling you that I have been slowly tweaking away on what may (should) eventually become that World Eaters kill team I have already told you about — “The Hateful Eight” (or ten or sixteen or whatever…). Here’s a look at my short list of future kill team members, so to speak:

Now you’ve seen many of these before in some shape or form, for which I apologise. Also, half of them are repurposed older models, but I think they are still cool enough to warrant a modern paintjob:

I’ve been making tweaks to them, exchanging a weapon here or adding some grenades and Khornate doodads there. I am particularly fond of this guy, made by combining a Blood Warrior from the Age of Sigmar 1st edition starter box and the lower half of the CSM Vrash Tattersoul champion model:

There’s also a couple of “new guys”, however: Fresh conversions that rely on the new kit in some shape or form:

On the far right you can see my “test berzerker” from earlier this year. Then there’s this gentleman, converted from yet another AoS starter box Blood Warrior:

I always knew I would want a model wearing a clunky Heresy-era helmet to accompany its baroque armour, and this is that model 😉

Fot the next two models, I thought it might be fun to try and channel some of the most iconic (or interesting) pieces of World Eaters artwork and build models inspired by the art. First up I chose this very cool concept for the “Teeth of Khorne”, the World Eaters’ dedicated heavy weapons specialists, created by Jes Goodwin during the early 90s, I would imagine:

Artwork by Jes Goodwin

I realised that many elements of the new havocs strongly resembled this piece of art to begin with, so I tried to come up with something similar.

For the most part, this is really just a stock havoc. I replaced the head with a shaved-down Blood Warrior helmet and tweaked the backpack a bit. Also, since I didn’t have a plasma cannon, I was unable to perfectly replicate the art and had to choose a replacement — a missile launcher seemed suitably brutal and straightforward for a World Eater, though… 😉

And then there’s this guy:

Any ideas about the inspiration for this one…?

That’s right, it’s a model built to resemble this iconic piece of art by Mark Gibbons (supposedly showing Khargos Bloodspitter, of all people):

My idea for this conversion was born when I realised that both the straighter legs and the power fist included in the CSM kit would allow me to build something pretty similar to the artwork — but while the above mockup worked as a proof of concept, the conversion needed a lot more work! So here’s what the finished conversion looks like:

Some parts of the conversion are actually a departure from the artwork, albeit a conscious one: The first helmet I used is arguably closer to the artwork, for instance, but the one on the finished conversion (provided as part of a bitz drop by fellow hobbyist ElDuderino, by the way), exudes just the kind of brooding menace that the model needed.

Funnily enough, the model also serves as a pretty neat shout out to some really old World Eaters models, thanks to the static pose:

And here’s the new guy, next to my test World Eater from earlier this year:

So, as you can see, I am actually back to converting World Eaters again — at least for a bit. And I am not even finished, either. Here’s a small teaser of things to come…

V. Burning Man

For now, however, let us wind up this post with a bit of background: I prepared a little background vignette for the counts-as Huron Blackheart model I shared with you a while ago. Take a look:

„The burning never stops.“

This is the sentence he remembers above all else, because it has come to encapsulate his entire existence. While the memory of an Astartes is eidetic in nature, his long life has become a number of disjointed, fragmented moments, with entire decades mostly unaccounted for. But one thing remains. One thing binds everything together and defines him. One sentence neatly summarises it all.

“The burning never stops.”

He remembers how the sentence from weapons instruction returned to him, at the very moment that he saw the phosphex charge go off. The bridge was a pandemonium of blood and death, but everything was frozen into place for just one instant. He saw everything in incredible detail. The battered VII Legion Breacher team that, against all odds, had made it to the bridge in an attempt to bring down a leviathan from within. The mangled face of the Fist throwing the phosphex grenade at him. The eyes already staring into infinity, waiting for a death that would come in mere seconds. The explosions of the weaponry discharged by the other surviving breachers. The chainblades of his brothers falling in slow motion, trying to bring down the enemy. But slow, far too slow. And the green white fire of the phosphex charge, enveloping him at last, and flooding his every fibre with liquid agony, just seconds before the main viewport burst into a million armourglass shards, opening the bridge to the void.

He remembers Terra. The Throneworld twisting below him, above him, behind a curtain of voidships on fire, as he tumbled into blackness. The cold void that was the only thing that could have extinguished the flames that were swallowing him. But even when the fires went out…

…the burning never stopped.

He remembers coming to in a red haze. The sounds of the Apothecarion. The klaxons and warning beeps. The mirrors above the surgical slab showing him a lump of molten, misshapen flesh that he did not recognise. And Deracin’s half-augmetic face floating above him, like a hint of things to come. The Forgemaster locked eyes with him and smiled. And he knew that he would not be allowed to die.

He was rebuilt. Into a strange amalgamation of oh so little flesh and bone, iron and pain. Oh so much pain. He became a construct. Like the gholam of old Terra. And through it all, the pain of an unquenchable fire kept coursing through him, racing along nerve clusters that should have been cauterised beyond any function. Along iron bones that shouldn’t have been able to feel, but did. It has been thus ever since: His every waking moment is pure agony. Inhale. Pain. Exhale. Pain. The nails are but pinpricks to him. He is, eternally, on fire.

His wrath and pain almost seem like a separate entity. When he does battle, and his every cell is burning agony, he can almost see something take shape from the corner of his eyes. Something rough and bloody that is glowing in its own inner malevolence. It is growing all the time. There will come a time when he will finally meet it face to face, this thing he keeps feeding with his pain and with the pain of others.

He keeps losing time. Battles often turn into disjointed shards of perception for him. When he sees glimpses of that strange spectre that seems to shadow him, inexplicable things happen, and he is merely a spectator in his own body: His flesh turns into liquid flame, and he becomes capable of feats that should be beyond his patchwork body. He awakens to arcs of warp fire cascading from his axe and augmetic fist. He comes to in a world of cinders and flaking ash, with his enemies’ lifeblood running down his chin in rivulets. He sees the wariness in his brothers’ eyes, and to see such emotion play across their ravaged features would make him smile, if that expression were not lost to him.

And through it all,
The burning never stops.


It goes without saying that I would love to hear your thoughts on these models! 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


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:

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:

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:


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…):

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!

On Khârn the Betrayer

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Fluff, paintjob, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2014 by krautscientist

What a funny coincidence: I’ve just finished working on a rather involved conversion to represent everyone’s favourite teamkiller, Khârn the Betrayer, and now there are suddenly rumours floating around about some kind of release surrounding the character as part of GW’s Advent Calendar — what’s up with that?

So while the holiday season rapdily approaches, why not take a closer look at everyone’s favourite man in red, right? Allow me to walk you through a ridiculously wordy post about Khârn the Betrayer, ladies and gentlemen (don’t worry, there’ll be pictures somewhere down the line 😉 ):

The Character

When it comes down to fluff, Khârn is a rather interesting case: Back when the character was introduced (along with the release of the 2nd edition Chaos Codex), there wasn’t much to go on beyond his background in the book — and even that painted a picture of a somewhat…imbalanced individual.

Beyond that, there was only William King’s seminal short story “The Wrath of Khârn”, which was published both in Inferno! and WD back in the day. But it quickly became obvious that Khârn’s basic approach of being ALWAYS ANGRY ALL THE TIME didn’t exactly turn him into a narrative goldmine: He was frankly a bit of a one trick pony when it came to his character, even though some swear that Khârn harboured some hidden qualities.

The HH series has made Khârn quite a bit more interesting, because it has managed to add more facets to his character: During battle, he loses his mind with the best of them, being entirely at the control of his Butcher’s Nails implants. But what makes Khârn interesting is that he seems like a reasonable and calm person off the battlefield, even serving as a voice of reason to his Primarch in the role of equerry. What’s more, by the time the Heresy rolls around, some very visible cracks have begun to show in the XII legion’s foundations, both in regards to Angron’s continuing mental and physical  degradation and the growing toll of the Nails on his legionaries.

WARNING: Spoilers for Betrayer follow!

In Betrayer, Khârn seems very aware of both problems, yet he remains loyal to his Primarch and is one of the cornerstones of the legion’s nobility and brotherhood — easily the most important thing to him, it seems, both when it comes to his dealings with his brethren and his blood brother, Argel Tal of the Word Bearers. It’s especially striking, then, how the death of the latter seemingly sends Khârn on the first steps of his development into the utterly bloodthirsty and psychotic character we know from the 40k universe: There’s a battle scene at the tail end of Betrayer that shows a different Khârn to the one we have encountered before — an utterly indifferent killing machine. And for now, we can only guess at the implications of Angron’s “ascension”, both for the legion in general and Khârn in particular — we do know what he has become 10,000 years later, though…

End Spoilers

In any case, it’ll be interesting to see what the writers at GW and BL have in store for Khârn — but I, for one, hope that it’ll be more along the lines of Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s rather nuanced treament of the character, and less like the one-note soundbites we have grown accustomed to from Khârn’s 40k background.

The Art

It’s really impossible to discuss any part of the 30k/40k lore without considering the accompanying artwork — the art is arguably just as important for the setting as the models and the baclground narration, especially since it often provides the designers with the actual inspiration for the design of new models or the redesign of existing characters.

So let’s take a look at some of the artwork depicting Khârn the Betrayer over the years — interestingly enough, the artwork for the character has a track record that can seem just as spotty as his narrative background.

But let’s cut to the chase: One of the first pieces of artwork I ever saw – and still one of the best images depicting Khârn, if you ask me – is this piece, created by Kev Walker:

Kharn the Betrayer art (4)
This illustration really has it all! It was used to accompany William King’s aforementioned “The Wrath of Khârn” in WD, and I still love it just as much as I did back when I first saw it — the one element that does seem slightly distracting is the collection of piercings on Khârn’s left bicep — such a slightly kinky touch would somehow seem more fitting on a follower of Slaanesh. But then, the accompanying story nicely toys with that scenario, so maybe that was the whole point?

When it comes to classic Khârn, one really need not look any further than Jes Goodwin’s own concept sketches for the character:

Kharn the Betrayer art (8)
I think one can safely suspect that this is the oldest piece of art depicting Khârn, and it is also the one that is the most faithful to the actual miniature — for very obvious reasons… It also remains one of the best drawings of Khârn, along with the one by Kev Walker, in my opinion, but then that’s Jes Goodwin for you…

Interestingly enough, some of the other artwork depiciting Khârn doesn’t fare quite as well: For instance, Adrian Smith is easily one of my favourite artists when it comes to depicting (Chaos) Space Marines, but his treatment of Khârn is not up to his usual standard, if you ask me:

Kharn the Betrayer art (14)

Sure, there’s a lot to like about the piece, but the entire left arm and the axe just fall apart completely when you look at them too closely — the perspective of that part is just sooo wonkey, don’t you think? And for some strange reason, Khârn suddenly seems to have both arms uncovered in this piece.

What’s more, most of the even more recent pieces really don’t capture the essence of the character for me, be it because it looks like Khârn is wearing an armoured bodysuit…

Kharn the Betrayer art (12)
…or because they make him look like a clueless idiot when fighting against loyalists:

Kharn the Betrayer art (3)
At least the art from Khârn’s latest codex entry is pretty competent, if a little uninspired:

Kharn the Betrayer art (2)
Do yourself a favour and don’t look at the pictured of his wargear that are part of his Dataslate, though: While the art itself works well enough, the added explanations for his wargear’s various features read like the worst kind of fan fiction imaginable…

And what of Heresy era Khârn? Interestingly enough, once again, the oldest piece of artwork may just be the best:

Kharn the Betrayer art (11)
Wayne England’s iconic piece of art from the original HH trading card game may no longer be an accurate representation of the recent fluff (the legion colours have ended up noticeably different in the interim, for one), but it’s still one of those classic images I hold dear  — but then, I’ve always had a thing for Wayne England’s chaos artwork, so that may have something to do with it as well.

At the same time, the updated depiction of heresy era Khârn in the Black Library publications is also pretty cool:

Kharn the Betrayer art (7)
There’s just something menacing and implacable about the above piece that I really like! It also seems like this was either designed to more or less accurately depict FW’s Khârn model or even serve as a design template for it? But we’ll be getting to the models in a second…

Before we talk about Khârn in miniature form, allow me to bring up two pieces of fanmade artwork that I really like.

First up, heresy era Khârn, as rendered in Greyall’s trademark style:

Khârn the Bloody by Greyall

Khârn the Bloody by Greyall

As per Greyall’s usual standard, the piece is incredibly detailed and ornate — you just have to love that axe design, don’t you?

The other illustration I would like to show you is this fantastic piece by slaine69, showing Khârn at Amartura:

Khârn at Armatura by slaine69

Khârn at Armatura by slaine69

This probably couldn’t be any more different in style and direction from Greyall’s piece, but I love it just as much: slaine69 is an insanely talented artist, and what I like about this – slightly unconventional – depiction of Khârn is how it manages to humanise him as a character and bring his berserk tendencies to the fore at the same moment — excellent stuff!


The models

So we have looked at the art — but what about the actual models? Do they do the character justice? And what about the hobbyists’ take on Khârn? Let’s find out!

As far as official releases are concerned, there have been two models for Khârn so far:

The first one is Jes Goodwin’s original 40k version of the character:

Khârn the Betrayer by Jes Goodwin

Khârn the Betrayer by Jes Goodwin

The model is still available from GW today, and in my opinion, it’s not only a true classic, but it also still holds up beautifully. The model was released along with Abbadon, Ahriman and Fabius Bile, back when the 2nd edition Codex Chaos hit, and he has arguably managed to age pretty gracefully. I realise that the model has been getting some flak over the years for its rather static pose, but come on, people: This guy has so many elements that became iconic and seminal for the whole look of the World Eaters: The baroque and pitted power armour, the bunny-eared helmet (that is almost impossible to replace or approximate by mere kitbashing or converting), the chains — and, of course, the bare arm, which may be a more common sight in (Chaos) Marine armies today, but was something quite original back then.

I remember first seeing Khârn among a collection of models and thinking: “I wonder what this guy’s story is!” — the model just has a way of drawing you in! As it happens, Jes Goodwin is possibly responsible for the two most iconic World Eaters models: Khârn is one of them, and the other one is the iconic 1991 metal World Eater — and if I have one complaint, it’s that the best World Eaters models were released over twenty years ago, with precious little having happened in the interim (Forgeworld notwithstanding). Anyway, what can I say: I am still a huge fan of this guy!

There’s also the much more recent FW model for heresy era Khârn by Edgar Skomorowski:

Khârn the Bloody, by Edgar Skomorowski

Khârn the Bloody, by Edgar Skomorowski

The model seems to have been designed with the main criticism against the Jes Goodwin version firmly in mind, because this guy is *very* dynamic — almost overly so, in fact, but we’ll be getting to that. The armour design is really cool, adding a gladiatorial flair to Khârn’s wargear that is a great fit for his legion’s background. The crested centurion helmet is also a great touch — although I would argue that the original helmet’s faceplate seems slightly more balanced.

In spite of all the good aspects, I am not a huge fan of the model, to be honest: The running pose seems slightly oddly balanced to me, making it look like Khârn is almost falling forward — this has always been a problem with running models, however, and maybe it was actually an intentional choice, in order to illustrate his uncontrolled rage? I also think the choice to extend the unarmoured/partially armoured look to his other arm as well somewhat lessens the visual punch of this element. And I really hate the model’s bare head: It may be a cool enough face, certainly, but it’s not Khârn’s face:

Forgeworld Heresy era Kharn detail
Such things always come down to personal choice, of course, but it is stated outright in the background that Khârn’s face is actually unscarred. The integration of the Butcher’s Nails also seems a bit random — but in any case, the head is an optional bit, so it’s not like you have to use it. All in all, I think it’s a nice, if slightly underwhelming, model.

It goes without saying that many, many hobbyists have come up with their own versions of the character, kitbashing or converting their own model to represent Khârn. Some of these improve on the existing models quite a bit, so I would like to share with you my favourites — and the interpretations I have drawn inspiration from for my own conversion. I’ll be limiting myself to those models who represent a substantial change to the stock models, by the way, although it has to be said that merely reposing the existing models can lead to rather stunning results as well. Anyway, here goes!

Let’s start with different versions of (Pre) Heresy Khârn:

Pre Heresy Khârn by Sebastien Lavigne

Pre Heresy Khârn by Sebastien Lavigne

This – Golden Demon winning – version of 30k Khârn by Sebastien Lavigne remains one of my favourite versions of the character: I just love the dynamism of the model, as well as the added legion standard! The model becomes even more impressive when you consider the fact that, back in 2008, the Horus Heresy wasn’t the massively detailed and codified setting it is today. In spite of that Sebastien still managed to create a tiny slice of the setting without much to work from, and the result still manages to hold up today. Marvelous!

There’s also the ever-inspirational Mr. Poom, who is responsible for the other two heresy era Khârns I would like to share with you:

Heresy era Kharn by poom first version
This piece was clearly inspired by Wayne England’s art shown further in this post, and I simply love how closely the model represents the illustration (and how it dares to deviate from it in all the right places). I am aware that Mr. Poom is no longer all that fond of the model, but it does remain one of my favourites.

His more recent version of the character uses the Forgeworld version as a base:

Khârn the Bloody by Mr. Poom

Khârn the Bloody by Mr. Poom

The horsehair crest brings the model more in line with the character’s depiction in Betrayer, which is a nice touch. And Mr. Poom’s paintjob is as gorgeous as ever — I still prefer his earlier version of the character, to be perfectly honest, but out of all the FW Khârns, this one is probably my favourite!

So what about the 40k versions of the character?

Khârn the Betrayer by kitbasher

Khârn the Betrayer by kitbasher

Wow, this Khârn conversion by kitbasher may just be the perfect Khârn model! It’s also a rare case of a model actually improving on the artwork it has been based on: The model clearly takes lots of inspiration from the Adrian Smith illustration further up in this post, but it works out all the kinks of the piece, creating something better in the process — perfect!

Then there’s this Khârn by Lil’Loser Studio:

Khârn the Betrayer by Lil'Loser Studios

Khârn the Betrayer by Lil’Loser Studios

The model uses parts from both official Khârn models, combining them to great effect and creating an excellent model!

AMaximus, who, it has to be said, is one of my main inspirations for World Eaters conversions and kitbashes, chose a similar approach, coming up with this awesome Khârn:

Khârn the Betrayer by AMaximus

Khârn the Betrayer by AMaximus

I can hardly wait for him to slap some paint on this model!

I also really like this very clean and seamless conversion by mf_Greg:

Khârn the Betrayer by mf_Greg

Khârn the Betrayer by mf_Greg

The excellent paintjob helps, of course 😉

The Vanus Temple is responsible for two stunning versions of the character: First up, his earlier conversion, based on a WFB champion of Khorne:

Khârn the Betrayer by the Vanus Temple

Khârn the Betrayer by the Vanus Temple

This one became popular enough that multiple models have been produced as commission pieces, if I recall correctly.

Khârn the Betrayer by the Vanus Temple

Khârn the Betrayer by the Vanus Temple

A more recent version by the same artist uses the FW Khârn model and creates an equally stunning piece:

Khârn the Betrayer by the Vanus Temple

Khârn the Betrayer by the Vanus Temple

And finally, some guys who really know how to go for shock and awe tactics:

An unbelievably huge (and spiky) Khârn by Rumplemaster:

Khârn the Betrayer by Rumplemaster

Khârn the Betrayer by Rumplemaster

And two equally huge models by Machinator…

Khârn the Betrayer by Machinator

Khârn the Betrayer by Machinator

…and Reanimator, respectively:

Khârn the Betrayer by Reanimator

Khârn the Betrayer by Reanimator

I’ve taken quite a bit of inspiration from these last two for my own, updated Khârn the Betrayer, as you’ll be seeing in a minute.

And there’s this utterly unbelievable, mostly sculpted from scratch, Khârn by Master of the Forge:

Khârn the Betrayer by Master of the Forge

Khârn the Betrayer by Master of the Forge

I could never imagine creating a model like this, which just makes it even more impressive — the greatest true scale Khârn in existence? Very likely…

All of these last models are massive — as befits the Blood God’s most exalted champion. But there’s one last piece that approaches the issue from a wholly different angle. Just check out this model by WilhelMiniatures:

Khârn by Wilhelminiatures

Khârn by Wilhelminiatures


Khârn by WilhelMiniatures

Khârn by WilhelMiniatures

Wow, just…wow!

My own approach

All of these illustrations and models were floating around my head, when the theme for the 15th Painting/Converting contest over at was announced: Build a better character, that is: improve on one of the Khornate characters from either 40k or WFB. It was clear to me that I wanted to build an updated Khârn, and I tried to incorporate as many awesome ideas from my various sources of inspiration as I could. It took me some time to hammer out a build, but this was what I ended up with:

Kharn the Betrayer (3)

Kharn the Betrayer (2)

Kharn the Betrayer (1)
Kharn the Betrayer (4)
My main goal was to make Khârn bigger. Plus I wanted to try and use mostly plastic parts, since it’s the material I am most comfortable with. Both led to the decision of basing the model on the legs from my beloved plastic Terminator Lord kit, combined with the upper body from a WFB Skullcrusher. Beyond that, I tried to incorporate as many visual elements of the original Jes Goodwin model as I could.

I have learned from the great Ron Saikowski that the important part in trying to make a model resemble a piece of art (or an earlier version of the miniature) is to try and get some of the key parts right: Those will make the model look believable, and close enough to its source that you can afford a little leeway with the smaller details.

On my own model, the parts I definitely wanted to keep were the bare left arm, the huge axe, the chains and the general design of the armour and helmet. Some of the detail was easy enough to recreate with plastic bitz: The big air outlet on Khârn’s chest was originally a part of an IG voxcaster, but it now looks reasonably close to the original. The chains were reasonably easy to approximate by using some of the spiked chains from the Skullcrusher kit. And in a bit of a happy coincidence, one of the axes from the FW Cataphractii Terminators looked reasonably similar to Jes Goodwin’s original design for Gorechild, while also fitting the slightly bigger scale of my model.

Other details were a bit harder to get right: I spent quite some time looking for a suitable bare arm, finally settling on an arm from the WFB Warhshrine of Chaos priest. Getting the arm into a working position did take some time, however, and even then, it ended up ever so slightly anatomically dubious — I’ll have to live with that, I suppose.

I also realised that there was no getting around using the original head and backpack: The backpack with its skulls was just too iconic (interestingly enough, the backpack I did end up using wasn’t the one from Khârn, though, but a virtually identical one from an old 90s metal Chaos Lord). And the helmet turned out to be the element that really sold the model as Khârn, instead of just some true scale berzerker — fortunately enough, fellow hobbyist Belphoebe was kind enough to provide me with a leftover Khârn head — thanks, mate!

I do realise that there are some deviations from the original model, and I did take some shortcuts during the truescaling process — but I hope the paintjob manages to pull everything together into a cohesive whole. So, without much further ado, here’s my painted model for Khârn the Betrayer:

Kharn the Betrayer redux (1)

Kharn the Betrayer redux (2)

Kharn the Betrayer redux (3)

Kharn the Betrayer redux (4)

Kharn the Betrayer redux (5)

Kharn the Betrayer redux (6)
Of course I also tried to come up with a suitably impressive base for the model, in order to support the model’s size and pose:

Kharn the Betrayer redux (7)
Granted, the pose is just as static as the one on Jes Goodwin’s original model — but, like I said: I am a fan! 😉 Plus I think that Khârn lends himself really well to the whole “bellowing at the sky in rage” thing…

Kharn the Betrayer redux (8)
Kharn the Betrayer redux (9)

Oh, and here’s a scale comparison picture, by the way, showing the new model next to my orginal, stock Khârn from way back when:

Kharn the Betrayer redux (10)
All in all, in spite of a hundred small things that could probably be better, I have to say that I am really rather happy with my new version of the character — I think Jes Goodwin’s version is still really awesome, so making Khârn bigger and more intimidating was really the best possible route, if you ask me.

Kharn the Betrayer redux (11)
I won’t lie to you: I hope my version holds up to some of the excellent conversions I’ve shown you in today’s post — and I can only say thank you to all the hobbyists whose work on Khârn has inspired me to tackle my own conversion! Thanks for letting me …borrow a few ideas from your excellent models, chaps!

So, whatever may be in store for our favourite, red-armoured lunatic this Christmas, I hope you’ve found this post inspiring! And I would love to hear any feedback you might have in the comments section!

So go convert some World Eaters now, and always remember: Khorne cares not from whence the blood flows, only that it flows!
As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Kharn the Betrayer redux (12)