+ inload: Scion of the Scarlet Blades +

+ The Scarlet Blades +

Sebastian Ottavus Arcimoboldo is a Space Marine of a dead Chapter. You can read about how he came to be in service to the Sun King here. [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]. +

+ He's a big chap – pictured here next to a regular-sized human, Sergeant Thorna Tempest (a Victoria Miniatures model [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]). While I've made lots of marines using this method, Arcimboldo is the first who's intended to be played alongside regular humans; which throws the size into perspective. You can see why fighting Astartes would be scary! +

+ Painting Arcimboldo +

+ Both a treat and a challenge to paint, it was wonderful to experiment with the freedom of making up my own Chapter scheme. When approaching something like this, I like to have a general visual in mind (in this case, orange armour with ivory lower legs) before I start, but to otherwise let things 'evolve' as I work. +

+ Why is this Scarlet Blade orange? Firstly, it's one of those rare colours that doesn't have an immediate association with any of the more familiar Chapters of GW's 'canon'. Secondly, it fit nicely with the warm Caravaggio-inspired palette of Venetian reds and yellows that I'm using for the broader project (the name of the marine's a nod to the Italian master). Taking a lesson from history helps a journeyman brush-jockeys like me! I'm no old master, but reading around and taking inspiration from historical artists is a great way to find a palette that works. Thirdly, I'm contrary. I didn't want to take the obvious route with the Chapter name and just to paint him red. I think orange suited well. +

+ With the colour scheme in mind, I primed him red, then set to with my old favourites, the GW Foundation range – Solar Macharius Orange for the majority of the armour; Dheneb Stone for the legs, head, candles and flames; and Charadron granite for everything else. I then set to working up the areas with highlight layers before washing in shading (using a mix of GW washes and W&N sepia ink). This went back-and-forth a bit as I refined and dirtied things to get a nice lived-in feel; then I used glazes of W&N scarlet and orange inks to build up the depth of colour on the orange. The result is (well, hopefully) a smouldery, believably martial orange. +

Making up a Chapter symbol can be a challenge – it needs to be iconic, so that it's visually understandable; but it also needs to be distinctive. The name of the Chapter – Scarlet Blade – obviously suggested a weapon of some sort, but I didn't want to be too obvious, so I went for a scimitar rather than a straight sword. This gives a less obviously European feel, which helps differentiate him from other Chapters, and also hints at a slightly piratical nature. +

+ I mentioned earlier that I didn't want to take the obvious route, but felt I had to include at least some red somewhere, so I opted to make the Chapter symbol scarlet. This wouldn't have read out against the orange of the armour, so I added a white shield behind the symbol. In addition to visually separating the red and orange, it also gives the Chapter symbol a bit more breadth and visual impact. +

+ Arcimboldo's divided loyalties – to his lost Chapter, and to the Sun King – are shown on his pauldron. In front of the pauldron is a tilt shield with a simplified mediaeval-style sun face. This marks him as part of the Sun King's coterie. (At least for the moment...) +

+ Making a 41st Millennium marine for a change (most of my Astartes are set in the far-off Heroic age of the Horus Heresy) was very enjoyable, as it let me create something with more extraneous detail for that gothic feel. In this case, a skull reliquary on the backpack, and a few relic bones (perhaps of a Chapter mate?) on his hip. Skulls don't always have to be bone-coloured, of course – I opted to paint the backpack one silver; as otherwise it wouldn't read out against the white candles. +

+ The candles were a bit of a pain. In an ideal world, I would have tweaked them so the flames were guttering directly upwards, or following the movement of the figure more closely. However, they're so fragile that I didn't want to risk snapping them off or heating them. Details like these are important – but equally, sometimes a compromise can prove better in the long run. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good! + 

+ Note that I could equally have painted the candles black, or another contrasting colour, should the hue of the skull have been critical to the background or scheme. The important thing is that areas are broken up visually – either by hue, tone or simple blacklining. This is sometimes a way to jog your imagination and come up with something more creative. +

+ The black purity seals are an example of a similar visually-led decision (so the cloth stood out against the ivory-coloured lower legs) that feeds back into the background: black purity seals seem a great mournful visual that hints to the viewer of sorrow and regret. +

+ The right-hand pauldron traditionally shows a Marine's battlefield role. What would the last member of a Chapter wear? He can't really be a Tactical marine or similar. I decided he'd create himself a symbol. Arcimboldo's motivation is his search for any other lost Scarlet Blades there may be out there, so I created a simple lighthouse symbol to represent this. The chequered row beneath it adds a visual flourish. Chequers don't have to be black-and-white. +

+ The sword +

+ A good example of frustration and challenge was the sword. As I say, I usually do 30k stuff, which is a bit more martial and grounded, so for this 41st Millennium marine I included some more gothic and fantastical elements like the flaming sword. It was such a cool bit that I added it to the build pretty much at the last minute. +

+ This WIP shot shows the figure with the early highlighting and preshading in place, but before the tone is developed further. The flames are far too close in colour to the armour, which I really wanted to be the focus. How the heck do you draw attention away from a [+SCRAPSHUNTERRORABORT+]ing big flaming sword? +

[APPEND] + As an aside, Some of the red primer is still visible on the base rim, too. It's an unusual primer for me, as I generally use grey; but I wanted to experiment with red to see if it would help bring some warmth. + [/END]

+ Answer one was to paint the sword in a contrasting hue to make it stand out. I use a variety of blended blues. While the result is interesting, I didn't like it for two reasons. Firstly, it drew too much attention from the orange and white armour and the figure in general. Secondly, the blue was completely alien to the palette of the figure and the broader project. +

+ Blue is a bit of a safe colour for me as it's easy to work with, and it's been a mainstay of my palette for years. The Court of the Sun King project is intended to be pushing my painting, so I couldn't really stick with this colour blade, even if it does look quite good in isolation. +

 + The next approach was a very light blade, painted using white and a touch of yellow. The problem with this one was similar – too eye-catching. In addition, it was very bright, which doesn't make sense in terms of the broader figure – the light source should be casting stronger shadows on the figure. +

 + The final colour was – drumroll please – a mid-toned scarlet. This is different enough that it stands out against the orange, dull enough that the ivory reads, and also fits with the broader palette. Even though the final result isn't fantastic, I'm glad I persevered. As long as the result is improved overall, even an imperfect finish can be chalked off as successful. This figure will stay as a reminder to plan things a bit better next time! +

+ Hope you've enjoyed some ramblings about my painting process. If you'd like to read some more about Little Orphan Arcimboldo, you can read Nightfall and the Candle, a short story [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] set many years before the events on Cepheus, which also involves a young Unfortunus Veck. +

1 comment:

Lasgunpacker said...

Orange is a great color for a marine, possibly why the Blood Angels lean that way.

The red flame looks superb against his armor, and of course is in keeping with the chapter name.