Thursday, 25 May 2017

Ballads of War 1x34 & 1x35

Events are pushing forward!


Well, it seems that Cypher is not someone you want to mess with. You came to the wrong tomb, pal!

Anyway, our heroes seem to go out of the frying-pan into the fire, as Bilbo would say. The verses were tremendously fun to write (and now to translate into English, hehe). You can see again the kind of meta-narrative I was introducing with the whole Wind over Gladiel thing, just my invention. I was trying to expand the in-universe with made up cultural references, adding some depth to the story in the very same way the Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell novel did (heavy influence, of course!).

We can see in the last panel that the Eldar finally join the party. What a busy day to be there!
I haven't commented it in previous pages, but the twilight effect in the sky was a real pain in the ass to achieve, I had to work relatively fast with the acrylics, pouring a lot of water on the paper to get the paint mixing in a decent way, but risking the whole result in the process, as too much water is never good for bussiness on paper... and haste is even worse!
I used 120g paper; this was a totally amateur work designed to be bound and read as a regular comic, so there is stuff in both pages of the sheet. The logistics involved are tricky indeed!

Well, you'll have to wait to see the Eldar in action. In the meantime, HERE you can find the previous stuff!

Monday, 22 May 2017

BBB: Big Beasts of Burden

After my previous take on World of Twilight minis, I decided I wnted to make some experiments on lizardy skin. I had two quite large minis, so they were the perfect canvas. I wanted a progressive colour shading effect, and I did so both in blue and red:

This was the in progress concept; lighter tones for the nose, getting darker towards the tail
The plain colours didn't work on such large surfaces, so I added a dot pattern, very frog-like.

I mean 'exotic Amazonian frog'-like
The baskets and luggage look easy to do, but they are way more detailed than I thought. That is what makes these interesting, the way you perceive them as part of a caravan, of a wider project.


They'll be part of the merchant's detachment (a merchant needs goods to trade!). Look at the gorgeous details all over:


Here you have, of course, the mandatory scale comparison shot:

No, we're not relatives, if that's what you're asking
My own lead mountain on this project has finally turned into a mere hill, a mound I would dare to say. But it's not over yet! More to come!

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Ballads of War 1x32 & 1x33

What kind of WH40K comic would this be if there were no Space Marines in it?


Sooooo, OK, there's a lot going on in these two pages. Let's start with the first panel. My very own view of Space Marines. I won't get too hard or philosophical on the subject, fear not. I'm just talking about their looks. Though observing the classical look of the armour and so, I tried a possibilist approach (in the very same way I said I approached the Adeptus Arbites and the big eagle on the helmet, if you remember). That means there won't be back banners, sorry. Besides, sergeants and characters will bear a helmet under the same conditions the rest of the Astartes would bear it, trying to make some fucking sense. I never got to draw Space Wolves, but they were to have more standard haircuts than the minis, and I had prepared a line regarding their beards and hairstyles, wondering how the hell would they manage to fit those into pressurized helmets.

I digress. The other thing I wanted to remark is that my Space Marines do not share the ridiculous micro-head fashion initiated by Karl Kopinski. Sorry, not gonna happen. They are genetically altered giants and whatever, but there are other tricks to make them look bulkier than simply reducing their heads (an old superhero comics trick, BTW, but this time taken to the extreme). Putting it fairly simple:

A big nope (though the art itself is awesome, will never say otherwise)
So in the end, I consciously drew kind of proportioned heads, less bulky shoulderpads and that kind of stuff. Now you know what to expect, my very own personal canon. Ye be warned!

Now the itchy stuff. By now I hope the mysterious marine's identity should be more or less clear. Come on! The deep voice (I gave you a hint some pages ago, 'the Emperor's Voice' as referred in the Eye of Terror Codex), the black armour, that distinctive backpack, the Dark Angels Space Marines emblem on the shoulderpad...  Right, Cypher. Dun dun dunnnn...

If you recall the lore, it's been stated since the old Chaos Codex (2nd Ed) that Cypher has a C'tan knife. Well, if you've been alert through the story so far, you may have noticed some Necron imaginery both on the Sepulchre and the ingot Brent was paid with. Hmmm...

Page 6
 I never got to fully develop that part of the story, but we were going to know how, back in the days of the Great Crusade, the Emperor led a Dark Angels force and, in alliance with the Eldar, fought a C'Tan. Do you remember a few pages ago, that Latin inscription talking about 'the fifth one'? Right, in those days of the old background, the C'Tan were stellar gods, suneaters, like Galactus but in the worst badass bad mood. They enslaved the race that, in time, would become the soulless Necrons. Go visit the previous pages and you will see some hints on the brass doors of the tomb and in the chamber with the sarcophagus. By the time I wrote this, there were only four known C'Tans (two were known and two were still to develop). So I introduced this 'secret' fifth one, giving me enough narrative freedom without getting into open contradiction with the then-official background.

Page 24
Page 28
But I was going to talk about Cypher. He is referred by the Great Harlequin with two names not pertaining to the 40K fluff, Cartaphilus and Ahasuerus. OK, this needs an explanation... and it's gonna be hard. Ye be warned! (again)

Dark Angels. When they were created, alongside the rest of the Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader fluff, the designers thought it was a funny idea calling this Chapter's Primarch after the poet Lionel Johnson (whose masterpiece is called The Dark Angel). They acted the same with many other Chapters and pieces of fluff. This is no news, of course, but it shows us that Rick Priestley, Andy Chambers and the rest of the team were not illiterate, unlike some of their heirs. Ahem. They just tied their work to their own cultural references (Lionel Johnson, Edgar Allan Poe and many others), and that's the base on which WH40K was originally built (Right, oversimplification, but you get the point of what I'm saying; I'll get to that later).

The Chapter had little personality after that Lionel Johnson reference, and remained in that way for some time. The wonderful 'Deathwing' short story (by Bryan Ansell and Bill King) was the first attempt I can recall of giving the Dark Angels a characterization, as American natives (remember the characters of Librarian Two Heads Talking or Captain Cloud Runner). But even then we got to know that the Dark Angels recruited from very different worlds and cultures, and that the newcomers adopted a new name when accepted into the Chapter (in the case of Two Heads Talking and Cloud Runner, the names were Lucian and Ezekiel, respectively).


It was the Angels of Death Codex (2nd Edition) which draw a clear path about Dark Angels, without openly stating anything though. It is then when we learn the names used by the Astartes to unify those disperse cultures into the Chapter. The names are all in a very specific cultural fashion: Azrael, Belial, Asmodai, Sheol, Sammael, Ezekiel... (Later editions would bring names such as Naaman or Nephilim). So, with the sole exceptions of Sapphon and Bethor, all those names recall an Old Testament tradition, most of them being specifically Hebrew.

Incomprehensibly, when the Horus Heresy novels begun to talk about Dark Angels, they totally forgot about all that and delved into a kind of weird European medieval knight style. But by then this comic was quite on its way, and I had already decided to keep the Old Testament and Hebrew inspiration. I really think it suits the Dark Angels mood and it allowed me to develop a certain kind of distinctive personality around the characters in my story.

This was all about Cypher, right? We know some dark secrets about the Dark Angels. Long story short, when Lion El'Jonson came back to his homeworld Caliban, he found that his Legion had been torn apart by treason, led by his friend Luther. I think the story is well known by now (Google can tell you the whole thing if you're really interested in it, it's not the point right now). Part of the Legion remained loyal to the Emperor, but a few rebels escaped and now wander through the galaxy across space and time. Cypher is certainly the most remarkable leader among them. It's not the place or time to talk about their real motivations or allegiances, we'll leave that for another day. So the thing is that Cypher disowned the Imperial order, defying with it Lion El'Jonson and the Emperor himself. Right, the God-Emperor. That guy.

So, if I was attaching the Dark Angels tradition to the cultural references I was talking about, the association struck my mind. I could portray Cypher as the Wandering Jew. Though it's a medieval legend of Christian origin, it really touches the theme of the sinner who taunts God and is doomed to wander forever (at least until the Second Coming). Both Cartaphilus and Ahasuerus are names that have been given to the Wandering Jew through history in different versions of the legend. In this association, Cypher is then condemned to lead his people (his Fallen Angels) in ask for redemption while they carry their mysterious secret duties away until the second coming of his Primarch Lion El'Jonson, the one who can grant him forgiveness (as can do with Luther; that's another story). So when that happens, he could show their merits and how they never fell into the taint of Chaos, and what their real agenda was through all these years, in hope of finally earning the well deserved rest.

Is all this bullshit pedantic? Maybe. You have all the right to criticise it. For sure it's not the kind of stuff you usually expect to find in a Warhammer 40,000 story, but it somehow ties this comic with the spirit of the Rogue Trader days in which the designers assimilated literary references into their background. It's also a resource frequently used by some of the comic authors I most respected when I was writing all this (please have a look at the appendices in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic, that's pure gold and a blatant inspiration for what I was trying here).

Oh, man. I think I have given quite a speech today. If you have been able to read all this... well, congrats! :D

If you are sick of so many letters and just want to see some doodles, all the previous pages are HERE.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Scouting Anyaral

Another quick update in the World of Twilight front, as I've finished another tiny batch :)

Let me begin with the Casanii Scout, a sweet mini that called for another colourful paintjob :D

And I am calling for a photography course. Sigh
Though you can only see a lemon yellow skin, there are two layers of shadows and two of highlights, promise. Agh.
I went for a simple scheme; I hadn't used yellow that much until now, so I thought it was worth of a try. In fact I also replicated the same scheme in one of the minis of the next batch:

Colour splash!
The Mutts were fun to do. I particularly enjoyed the second from the left, the one in shades of green. I think I'd like to repeat the effect with other colours, I'll have to make some experiments...

Finally, the Skerrats:

Furry colour splash!
You have to be careful when trying to paint fur in too flashy colours, the Muppet effect risk is quite high, so it's probably a good idea to be somehow restrained within the colour explosion, if that even makes any sense. However, I think these work fine enough; but I may give deeper thoughts for the next batch.

I certainly haven't still closed the project, so expect some more of these anytime soon...

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Ballads of War 1x30 & 1x31

It's clobberin' time!

This is the kind of small skirmish I wanted to begin with, just a few characters (but pretty defined ones) getting some action. I guess this is in again this season with the Shadow Warstm game. Fashion is truly a circle :D

Feel free to use them for your own warband in Shadow Wars, I'm not GW, I won't C&D you :D

Not much to say here, as the pages are quite self-explanatory. Anyway, keep in mind that, at the time of the drawing, Harlequins were more or less out of the scene in WH40K, so their skills and gear were quite exotic for any newcomer (oh, the Harlequin's Kiss, how badly had I wanted to draw it in action!). We can also notice that Brent is worth of every penny the employer paid for him. The scene of him disemboweling an Ork is not gratuitous, it's not just a 'oh, some badassery', trust me. But we'll get to that in the future, for now we get to know that his character stats are unusually high in WS! ;)

About the last panel... what's up now? A new surprise? Oooh, neew cliffhanger!

Until we see what happens, you can check all the previous pages!

Monday, 8 May 2017

Staying afloat

Back to my posponed urban scenery project, which seemed to have fallen into oblivion. I had this kit rolling over my workbench for quite a while. It's a river barge by MadMechaGuy, who produce quite interesting MDF stuff.

No, not Ikea. MadMechaGuy I said
Pretty straightforward kit, assembling wise, and larger than expected!

In its rough shape
You can see I took the easy road. Just grey spray over black priming and black spray over it around the hatches, to show its industrial nature. Maybe the barge carries coal, strange ore or some dirty smuggling, who knows.

This was more or less what you get from the kit itself:

Still had to add the protecting tires on both sides
I had a look at the bit box and tried to find some rubbish I could throw over the deck. What kind of stuff could you find on a barge like this? Some ropes, strange tools, a funny shaped piece of plastic (from some clothes, I recall?) I could use as bollard, an old piece of gauze (I had previously used as camouflage net back in the day) that looked dirty enough as a... fishing net? industrial net? Whatever. It all looked nice and helped to fill in the barge, so it didn't look so empty.

Still playable
This is how it looks on the board:

Another normal day at the docks
You can get an idea of its size on this pic:

Damn, I'm gonna need a larger board
I really wanted to have the barge finished. I've been neglecting my urban board for too long, but I have so many projects open at the time! I still have some kits at home (and many civilians!), I hope they'll see some paint anytime soon!

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Ballads of War 1x28 & 1x29

I confess I cheated today... Only had to work on one page this time :P

So well... what the hell is... that? I think it's quite safe to use the word 'sarcophagus', but apart from that... nothing is to be taken for sure!
The banners there for sure tell a story, but we cannot make anything solely out of that (aren't you annoyed by those stories in which the characters see old paintings or whatever and decypher them all in a glimpse and understand the whole history of a disappeared civilization?)... Besides, things tangle up a little bit more when Brent sees that strange glyph and gets a sudden vision of the beast in his dreams.

But once again, all those matters will have to wait, as we have a pressing issue right now such as, well, Orks!

As usual, all the previous stuff can be found HERE.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Descent in a budget: Lord Merick Farrow & Baron Zachareth

Yet two more characters, from the Lieutenants pack.

Lord Merick Farrow is an evil necromancer. Responsible for bringing back to life his brother Sir Alric Farrow (you know, that guy wore a helmet for a reason) he is presentad as a wicked, evil foe. So this mini looked more than suitable:

No, for the last time, I'm not that 'Skeletor' guy you keep on speaking of
The mini works, but the legs could be concealed (precisely to reduce the Skeletor effect). Besides, there was nothing to do with the sword. Some kind of evil magic wand would do its part...

When a mini works, don't touch it
However, the Skeletor theme had stuck in my head by now, so I couldn't help but painting the mini in a grimdark blue fashion...

Well, it's a scarecrow mask, not a skull, but it's supposed to be scary as well.

The other relevant guy was Baron Zachareth. More than meets the eye, won't say anymore. At first sight, any armoured knight would work, but this pose was quite useful for my purposes:

Apparently nothing stands out here. But that exactly suits the character...
I had a spare head left from a WotC Star Wars mini (you remember my 40K civilians...?). I cut the shield arm and replaced it by a bare arm from a 40K Imperial Guard kit.

Trying to make it colse to the original illustration
I tried to mimic the glowing magic tatoos on the bare arm. Needless to say I failed. Several times. I couldn't make them work. Either the red glowing looked like chewing gum, either any effect I attempted to achieve ruined the mini. Sooo, I finally breathed and abandoned the idea. Regular 'inactive' tatoos would make their role as well.

Maori is cool, man.
With these two I think I have covered almost all the relevant characters in the game (at least the minis I had allocated for them!!). Some more work ahead, but the project is walking towards the end, hehe...