+ inload: Iron Warrior vignette – design and composition +

+ Wait, what's a vignette? +

+ In miniature modelling, the line between a vignette and a diorama is a fine one, and often blurred. Both aim to capture a moment in time, and involve one or more figures. I term something a vignette when it's looking at giving information about a character, and a diorama when the story is of equal, if not greater, importance. +

+ This vignette, from Golden Demon winner Ed Gladdis' blog, tells us a little bit about the Space Marine Captain – we get a sense of him being brave and inspirational, and the composition leads us to him. It's a closed space, with the lines leading us from the other figure to the Captain. +

+ It's a character piece that doesn't tell us much about what is going on. It's open to interpretation whether he's giving a speech to rouse his men, or in the middle of a firefight. This keeps the focus tightly on the Captain, even though there's another figure and some ground present. +

+ This diorama, from Victoria Lamb, also a Golden Demon winner, is more concerned with the story. While it's equally well composed, with the eye being led from the red-clad rescuers across the central figure to the bound figure, there's a clear sense of narrative – of something going on. + 

+ Even without the title, it's clear that something is going on; a sense of dramatic tension – will Joan be rescued? +

+ I don't pretend my stuff's up there with those two! Nevertheless, these (and many like them) have been great inspirations, and it's always fun to try out something a bit new. For that reason, I've been working on a vignette of injured Astartes that started out as two separate figures: 

+ I decided I'd prefer to make them into more of a visual piece than gaming ones, so transferred them onto a single base:

+ While I liked how they were looking at this point, I decided I'd prefer the piece to work from a number of different angles. At the point above, there's very definitely a 'front' to the piece, which felt rather forced. Either the marine on the left is rather unkindly dragging his injured fellow back into the battle(!), or he's very definitely in combat, in which case his colleague's pose looks too resigned. He's upright enough to be walking, but his shoulders and head are slumped. It just didn't feel right. Finally, there's very definitely a main character; with the injured marine becoming more of a prop. I wanted to get away from that. +

+ Pathetic aesthetic +

+ The grim darkness of the far future is a horrible place filled with fear, terror and monsters. Even the shining heroes of the Imperium are fascist oppressors. Since I was turning this from a gaming piece into a scene, I thought I'd play up the horror and uncertainty of the setting, by giving a more obvious sense of injury to the right-hand figure, and making the left-hand figure look less sure of himself. This would also make both figures equally important, and help to show a moment in time: creating a vignette that is about both figures' uncertainty and fear, rather than a diorama of a rescue from a firefight. +

+ Turning the lead figure's head and altering his rifle arm to be pointing down, rather than firing, leads the eye back into the scene to the other figure. It also means that the head is facing away from the angle of either foot (and thus the direction of travel), which elicits an uncomfortable, uncertain feel. I replaced the heads with less aggressive ones, giving the injured marine a bare head to humanise him a little. He's an Iron Warrior, and thus a 'baddie', but I wanted to elicit some sympathy from the viewer. +

+ This change also means the vignette works from different angles:

+ I ended up reinforcing the right-hand figure's pose and sense of injury by moving the arm up and adding a hand cradling his abdomen. This further draws the eye around the two, making the focus on their relationship rather than as two separate figures:

+ A few scattered bits of ruined building and flooring, along with some dirt and soil, finish the composition. They're simple and ensure the focus remains on the figures. I kept them on one side to develop the sense of discomfort and upset balance. This also left the injured marine looking more exposed, increasing the sense of vulnerability. +

+ Overall, I think the vignette works well from a number of angles, each of which gives a slightly different feel, but still leading the eye around and telling us a little about the characters' thoughts. + 

+ Now just to paint the thing! +


  1. I just want to say that I think you're one of the most inspired and inspiring hobbyist out there. I've always loved how you capture the lore of the Warhammer universe in every small detail of your miniatures. I check the blog constantly to see what new genius you've come up with.

    1. Thanks for the kind words - I hope I can keep going :)

  2. I really like the new posing, a lot more story going on there as you mentioned. Looking forward to seeing it painted!

  3. Can't wait to see it painted. I think you struck a good balance and it was interesting to hear your thoughts on the development of each pose and how they fit together as more than just two models on one base.

    Seeing you start the IVth has been a real pleasure, if a bit of a surprise, and I'm glad it has kept so much momentum.

  4. So here's my very first and inferior truescale tech-marine build as promised.


    1. Cor, he's fantastic! Is that a torso from the new Mechanicus wheels things? Great idea.

    2. Cheers :D indeed it is as well as the head and arm.

  5. loving the new layout, and i stand corrected over the bare head. works really well


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