+ inload: Painting Stormcasts WIP +

+ Stormcast of the Tallowlands +



Battered, war-weary and quietly noble is how I like my heroes, whether that's in the grim darkness of the far future, or in the PCRC's little nook of the Mortal Realms, the Tallowlands.

The examples here, of an as-yet-unnamed Chapter Chamber, are my version of the three lost in the city of Shadespire. The game, Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire, is very fun, by the way. I picked it up on a whim, and very much enjoyed my first game. The figures are good too; it's nice to see both a bare-headed and a female Stormcast, and their Khorne adversaries are also fun.

As you can see, I've gone for a turquoise and bronze scheme. I think it makes them look a little like worshippers of Manaan, the Old World god of the sea. Perhaps that's where I'll take the concept of their Chamber.

+ Painting bronze +

_1 Prime grey.
_2 Paint the metal areas with a 70:30 mix of Abaddon Black and Balthazar Gold.
_3 Add more Balthazar Gold to the mix, along with a drop or two of silver ink (I use Winsor & Newton's inks). Use this mix to highlight, leaving at least a third of the armour plate as the darker base coat in the areas away from the light source. This is generally the bottom third of the area, but this will depend on the shape. 
At step 5, you should have three main areas of tone, which blend
smoothly into one another, as shown on the helmet here.
_4 Wash with Druchii Violet.
_5 Dilute Balthazar Gold with silver ink (a drop or two is fine) and a little flow medium. Use this to highlight, looking to cover roughly a third of the armour plate. As with the earlier highlighting (step 3), pay attention to the light source, and apply the highlighting to the upper third.
_6 Using a dry soft brush and silver ink, make small, light, circular movements to texturise and highlight the metal in direct light. Think of it as very controlled drybrushing.
_7 You can edge highlight now, if you want to make the shapes pop.

That's about as far as I've got at the moment; the rest is firmly work-in-progress.

 +++

+ Severin Steelheart +

I treated the exposed face of the leader of the group as an exercise in strong directional lighting. In essence, I added highlights on one side and shading on the other, rather than the more neutral 'modelling' lighting I usually use, where highlights are applied more evenly, as though lit from above.

The right-hand side, as you can see, is considerably darker than the left. Note that this sort of painting relies on using an imaginary source of light that is consistent across the model; so the metals are also highlighted as though there's a light to the left of him.

Note that the right-hand side of the face (his left) does not remain highlighted entirely  – you can see this in the detail above – but the highlights are less strong, and the shadow covers more of his face (look below the cheekbone, for example).

I'm pleased with how the experiment worked out, as I think it gives a fairly dramatic effect. There's nothing inherently more difficult than 'normal' highlighting to this; it's just a case of treating the figure's face as any other object, and changing the place where you add your highlighting. 


The rest of the figure is fairly straightforward. I've added a quick chequerboard pattern to the hem of his cloak, and need to decide whether the shoulder pads are going to remain the same bronze as the armour, or be picked out in a different colour.

I'm fairly sure the weapons will be silver. Bronze may make a nice change of pace for the armour, but a bit of contrast in tone is necessary to make the figures sing.

Hopefully the bases will also help with this.



+ Obryn the Bold +

As seems typical, I tried out the technique on the most important model (Steelheart, in this case), in the expectation that I'd do my best job while fresh. 

As it turned out, going straight in and spending less time faffing around with experimenting gave a more striking effect on the other two. On balance, I think the bronze at least is better here than on Steelheart. However, I'm annoyed about the line between parts on the pad on this figure, Obryn the Bold; I should have spent more time prepping such an obvious area. 

Other than that, I'm pleased. I found Obryn the least charismatic of the sculpts because he's the most 'typical' of the Stormcast, and so I wanted to do something that made him look more interesting. 

His background suggests that he's gradually losing his soul and character through being reincarnated, so I tried to represent this through the use of some verdigris; the implication being that he's becoming less aware of his surroundings out of battle, so he's starting to miss areas when maintaining and clearing his gear.This makes a virtue of the monolithic stance and slow, imposing sense of weight. 

I didn't want to go over the top – a little goes a long way with weathering. In any case, with turquoise used elsewhere, the verdigris needs to act subtly, or it'll just get confusing.



+ Angharad Brightshield +

Brightshield has a much more dynamic pose than Obryn, and it is one that worked well with the painting technique detailed above.

The open stance meant that it was easy to get highlights and shading where they should be, as the arms are conveniently held out to the sides.

I did leave the shield off when painting, but made sure to take it into account when working out what would be catching the light and what would be obscured.

For the most obvious example, the gauntlet behind the shield would have been brightly lit were the shield not there, but I needed to paint it as though in shadow once the shield was taken into account.

I'm looking forward to finished off these figures. A few of the PCRC are meeting up at the weekend, and I'd like to have them finished in time for a game or two.



+ inload: Adeptus Titanicus frothing +

+ Preparing for War +


+ Based in Slav Nasr [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+],the Legio Sumer is on the march. I am almost absurdly excited about the upcoming new version of Adeptus Titanicus, and while I'm not sure if anyone in the PCRC shares my enthusiasm for these great land-battleships, I hope I can twist someone's arm into a game or two! +



+ To help my case, I'm determined to have one force ready-painted for all-comers on release – that way, I can paint up any new models that come in the set as an opposing force. I'm hoping that treating it like a board game – that is, ready to play out of the box – will make it easier to get a game in. +


 + As you can see, painting hasn't come on that far, but I've got the basework for the metal on all four so far. +

+ I'm still on the fence about the colour scheme. I like yellow, and think that some weathering will make me like it more, but wonder whether I ought to introduce a secondary or accent colour – I'd appreciate your thoughts. +

+ On a similar note, any thoughts on basing? After discussion with the PCRC, I'm leaning towards urban rubble. It's a classic look for Adeptus Titanicus, and colours sing out of grey-browns very well. +

+ inload: Curios and Oddities +

+ The hobby magpie +

Get on with it!
+ A bit of a hotch-potch of bits and bobs today, as my focus veers wildly from one thing to another. While it can be frustrating for focus to waver from a project, I try to remember that it's a hobby – there's no reason not to jump around a bit. +

+ Instagram +

+ Yes, jumping bravely into 2013, I've started an Instagram account as @death_of_a_rubricist. Please come and have a squizzy at edited highlights here [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] +

+ So far, so smooth. It's been quite fun digging through my older pictures; and I think that's part of what's got me frothing about various older projects. +


+ The Praetors of Calth +


+ Speaking of old projects, I took a couple of new pictures of some of my own favourite models – Sergeant Santiagon (above) is still what I consider the best face I've ever done. Even though I'd probably tackle some of the freehand and weathering differently, he still stands up to my more adventurous stuff nowadays. +


+ Eumon of the Fell holds a special place in my autocardio, simply because he was the first Ultramarine I painted. He was, essentially, the start of me really focussing on conversion and painting for the sake of it, rather than for any gaming reason. I'm still very proud of him. +

+ The Iron Sleet Invitational +

+ The Nor Na Phom [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] are progressing fairly well, with two well underway and the parts for (almost) all of the others.

 

+ Y-wing +

+ A definite departure, this little craft is from Fantasy Flight Games' X-wing game. I don't have the game itself, but the PCRC have been playing the fantastically fun co-op version called Heroes of the Aturi Cluster. It's a great homebrew conversion that it ideal for gaming groups like ours. +


+ With Adrag Greb, my Mon Calamari pilot, chalking up a few kills, I thought it best to buy my own Y-wing for him to use. It was a fun little break from grim darkness to modify the scheme to fit in with our 'Spectre Squadron'. +




+ conceptinload: Iron Sleet Invitational +

+ Iron Sleet Invitational II – The Thorne Moons +

+ The chaps over at the ever-inspirational Iron Sleet [+noospheric inloadlinkembedded+] have thrown open their region of space for other blogstronauts to explore. Their evocative setting is the Thorn Moons [+noospheric inloadlinkembedded+], which they summarise as 
[T]he Thorn Moons are a secluded region in the Crataegus Fragmentum, an area that has been cut off from the Imperium of Man for ten millen[n]ia. A route from Terra was only recently discovered, and still passage is uncertain and can take anywhere from a few months to decades. The Moons themselves are a cluster of over a hundred astronomical bodies, orbiting an incalculable center of gravity. Whatever caused the Thorn Moons to be rediscovered now, can only be guessed at.
+ More information on the Invitational can be found here [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+], but suffice to say that entrants have been asked to:
Study humanity in the eternal war – the imperial guard and its many regiments sent to bring the moons to compliance, their rogue brethren set to burn all, the Thorn Moons twists in their corrupted millions and Green Mechanicvm and their planetary defense skitarii in desperate defense of their realms, the human foot soldiers of the inquisition in their esoteric glory… 
Build and paint five human sized models that beautifully and fittingly describe the humble human in the galactic war and show of your original ideas and understanding of the Warhammer 40000 universe.

+++

+ Acedia Desmesnes +

+ Those of you familiar with my take on 40k will know that I'm a big fan of the Imperial Guard as they best sum up the 'pathetic aesthetic' of the universe – that is; imagery that champions 'making do with what is' and the abandonment of ambition and idealism in favour of pragmatism and resignation.  It's a concept that runs right through 40k – best summed up in the thought for the day: for every battle honour, a thousand heroes die alone, unsung and unrememebered. +

There's a rather good thoughtpiece from the LA Times here [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] that does a good job of summarising the concepts behind the pathetic aesthetic; but suffice to say that what we're doing here is looking at all the little people who pop up in the background of artworks – the thousand souls that provide the contrast for the heroic Space Marines and puissant monsters of the universe. +

+ So, with this in mind, I got my conceptulising-cogs a-whirring. I'v always liked the sheer variety of the guard, and a PCRC campaign of a year or so ago saw me make a few one-off models to represent the many regiments of the Antona Australis [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] sector:

Metis Light Foot infantryman

Lieutenant of the Aldebaran Regiments

Blenheim 2nd Expeditionary


Throngsman of Biffi-Clylon

Lamb's Worlder

Selenian Outernaut

 The underlying idea of this was similar (though less ambitious!) in some ways to the Invitational; though the examples I've posted above are more conservative in style than what I imagine will turn up through in the Thorn Moons. This is lucky for me, as I've been starting to explore the more grotesque possibilities of 40k through Court of the Sun King [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+], and being able to combine the two in one small project seems like a great opportunity. +

+ Theoretical: Starting points +

+ I like to start by putting a few parameters in place for myself. The Invitational is pleasingly open, and I find that can lead to moving away from actually 'answering the question'. So, while I haven't given myself hard limits, I have looked at a few loose boundaries to help give me a focus:
  • Human
  • Pathetic aesthetic
  • Underdogs
  • Fitting for the Thorn Moons
  • Story is King – a guideline from Iron Sleet itself
+ From reading around the Invitational, I saw three main possibilities – a group from the Thorn Moons themselves, a group from the invading Imperial Guard, or a group of Inquisitorial troopers. All would have to be human – though defining that concept in 40k is itself a very broad canvas! +

+ I suspect that the defenders of the Thorn Moons will see a lot of wildly creative and inventive pieces; as will the Inquisitorial forces. Sticking with my boundaries, then, I want to see what I can do with the most 'normal' option – the Imperial Guard invaders; as I think these will be the least popular option, and I've always liked the underdog. +

+ Of course, in 40k terms, normal isn't shorthand for being unambitious; nor does it translate to 'vaguely sci-fi soldiers'. In an Imperium of a million worlds and billions of military traditions – some of which have evolved and developed for ten thousand years – there is no such thing as a default for the Imperial Guard. +

+ Theoretical: Na Phom +


+ One thing I've never tried with my Guardsmen is a swamp style of warfare; but it's one I've flirted with over the years – Cambylon and Veet Ling; planets involved in the Court of the Sun King project, were to involve swamp-fighters. This seems a great chance to scratch the itch. +

+ What would a force sent to fight on the Thorn Moons be like? The sense of cyclical creation and decay is an important theme for the region – I get the sense of a warm, roiling, turbulent and vivacious sector; so it seems fitting for the invaders to represent the opposite – a cold, frigid, reactionary and dependable counterpoint. That seems to fit with the existing narrative – Space Wolves and their allies fit that description to a tee. +

+ So, to fit those concepts together, I've created the Nor of Na Phom; a warrior-caste from a culture of stultifying, oppressive resistance to change. Their world is mostly covered with foetid swampland and open moors, full of corruption and disease. In order to survive, the settlers – far back in the depths of history – turned to malchemistry and gene-manipulation, forcibly carving out great chunks of their own DNA in order to create a specialised – in their view – 'perfected' human stock, highly resistant to mutation, and illness. +

+ Of course, this being the Dark Millennium, I can't simply let them be superhumans. The fallout of such alterations were simple – by removing ingress for disease, the Na Phom condemned themselves to an eternity of changelessness and facelessness. While not strictly clones, the DNA of the populace is so restricted and limited that most look alike. The world suffers from genetic instability and low birth viability, and is harshly divided into a caste system, maintained to keep the limited breeding pool genestock divided and thus partially viable. +

+ Secondly, while the humans were able to save themselves, their livestock were not so lucky. As domesticated animals failed to adapt, and limited understanding prevented the populace from adapting them, one group of animals after another fell extinct. During the Dark Age of Technology, therefore, the missing animal groups were hardbred from humans; creating variant morphs to fill various roles. +

+ Being naturally resistant to swamp-borne illnesses, and close enough in genetic stock to enable retrovirals to be rapidly synthetised, the Nor Na Phom made an obvious choice to accompany the expeditionary fleet to the roiling worlds of the Thorn Moons. +

+ Practical: The Nor of Na Phom +

+ My group, then, is going to consist of one Martinet (an individual with breeding rights), three Gelds (the regular infantry) and a Unman (a steed). I hope to have some time to work on them tonight, so hopefully a pic-inload in the morning. +

+ inload: The Sleep of Reason – first Night Lords Claw

+ The Sleep of Reason +


Commissioned as another Shadow War: Armageddon team, I had a lot of freedom in design and layout, which I always appreciate. A very enjoyable challenge, this mini-project had me diving into the Night Lords, a Legion that I've never really looked at in much detail. I've aimed to give each of the models a sense of individuality but keep a sense of ochesion – the VIIIth might owe as much to gang culture as modern military concepts, but I wanted to be sure they all remained immediately identifiable as Night Lords, with the individual character coming out through a closer look. 

To do this, then, I scribbled down a few key concepts that made me think of Night Lords – judgement, horror, and so forth – and then built models using those concepts as touchstones. I wanted to nod to the classic bat-helms and similar terror markings, but to rein them in and make them a little more practical. You'll spot that one of the group has some budding wing/horns on his helm, picked out in a muted red. Another has a trophy rack that gives him a bat-winged silhouette, but leaves his helm free. Similarly, the terror markings appear on all of them, but vary. Rather than painted masks, the markings are either sculpted armour – ribs on Fidanza, a custom helm on Avellon – and lots and lots of severed body parts, from ears to feet, strewn over the figures.

Aaron Dembski-Bowden's influence is, predictably, not far from the surface. I enjoyed the adventures of Talos and First Claw so much, but I I felt it would be a better homage – and more personal to the commission – if I used the concepts behind his characters as a springboard to develop a group of my own. The concept of the red hands of censure was a real temptation, for example, but I decided to riff on the idea of gang status it suggests and instead run with honorific skinning knives, which appear on every figure. Thanks for the inspiration, A D-B! Hope you approve.

I hope the owner is very happy with them; I certainly am.

+ 'Kivigilitha Ve Zah Jass.' +


+ With few of the trappings and advanced equipment of their loyalist brethren, experience and a willingness to use scavenged armour and weaponry makes this group of Night Lords – a warband styling itself The Sleep of Reason – as versatile and deadly at the end of a long campaign as at the beginning. +

+ The four collected here operate as a squad or 'Claw'; and are unified by shared aims – symbolised by the poison daggers they wear as a crude gang-sign – and, perhaps, by fragmented recollections of a lost dream that they bitterly wish to spoil for those 'still sleeping'. +

+ Their battlecry – or perhaps more accurately, the last phrase whispered to their victims – is Kivigilitha Ve Zah Jass – which loosely translates to 'We bring A Rude Awakening'. +



+ Shullat Avellon (judgement) +


 + Representing what remains of the VIIIth Legion's original aims, Avellon acts as the unifying figure of the group. Through dominance and tactical ability, he is begrudgingly regarded as – if not the leader, for the warband bristles as such terms for all save their warlord – at least first-amongst-equals. Perhaps more importantly to the Claw, he is a neutral party, whose decisions ensure the others can indulge their predilictions. +

Gaining the lion's share of the spoils of war, his armour is good quality, largely (thought not wholly) unmarked by the taint of chaos. He bears echos of the trappings of rank – a trophy rack in place of a banner, a defiled tilt shield from a defeated enemy (or rival), and an artificer-modified terror helm. Despite his status, the collar of his breastplate is raised – all the better to ward off a blade at the neck. +


+++

+ Creo Fidanza (arrogance)+


+ Such is Fidanza's belief in the inherent superiority of the Astartes that his fighting style is swaggering and ostentatious; deliberately alerting the enemy once there is no escape for them. After all, the prey should spend their last moments in fear, not ignorance. +


His armour, a well-maintained hybrid of mark IV and scavenged mark VII plates, is thus embellished and decorated with ritual terror markings; not least of which are his flamboyant trophy racks, which cast an inhumanly long, bat-eared silhouette. +



+++

Isimud Vologda (horror)


 + Colossal, debilitating, overwhelming horror is the Night Lords' modus operandi. For some, it was less a strategy and more an art to be savoured. For Vologda, it became an obsession. +

 + Tactical expediency and teamwork simply does not factor into his crystally straightforward mind; merely the act of spreading individual terror. Draped in skins and pelts, covered with chains and trophies, Vologda's method of waging war is plain and simple; and always, always, secondary to his true aim – sadistic, systematic and excruciating murder. +

With a talent for infiltration and stealth, he usually operates at the forefront of the team – all the better to scatter and unnerve the defenders for the others to terrorise; and all the less likely that his individualism will compromise the team. +


+++

+ Basmu Seachild (dishonourable conduct) +


+ The only non-Nostraman of the group, face-to-face conflict is anathema to Basmu Seachild, recruited to the Claw many centuries after the Legion Wars. Why confront the enemy head-on when you can finish them before they know there's a threat? A creeping, lurking and knife-strewn monster in the dark is how Seachild prefers to operate; his movements sinuous, coiling, and silent. +

Barring a Mark IV helm; only now beginning to warp under the influence of his incipient voidcraft, he wears a relatively crude suit of Mark V armour – the best he can hope for as the junior member of the team. +




+++


+ inload: #PolyphyRises – Ecce +

+ An invitation +

+ You may have noticed that the top bar of this blog is getting increasingly crowded. Recently I have added an invitation to join in with the Court of the Sun King by populating Cepheus. Have a look, and if you'd like to join in, I'd be delighted. +

If you're on mobile, there'll be a little button at the top right to click to move away from the Active Feed and find the project tabs, but if it's playing up, try this [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] to take you right to the heart of the action. 

+ I'll be adding a few prompts or kicking-off points every so often, but do feel free to do what you want to on the backwater world. +

+ The first of these loose ideas is as follows:


A handful of Sky

All of the figures in my project are identified by card in a mythical traditional Cephean deck; the suits of which are Beasts, Cups, Collars, Hands and Suns. Roll a D6 to discover the suit.

Suit
  • 1 Cups – symbolising enjoyment, civilisation, comfort.
  • 2 Suns – symbolising glory, life/death, royalty.
  • 3 Hands – symbolising manual labour, intrigue, integrity.
  • 4 Beasts – symbolising nature, horror, fruitfulness.
  • 5 Collars – symbolising acceptance, resignation, clarity of sight.
  • 6 Tarot – a unique creation.
Next, roll a D20 to find a number. Numbers above 10 are face cards – above 14 and the suit becomes inverted: start counting back down – sixteen is thus the Queen inverted. Inverted suits begin to represent the inversion of their symbols. Inverted hands, for example, symbolise corruption, idleness and polemicism.
+ Feel free to use this or ignore it for your first Cephean figure(s). +

+ If you'd like to use a hashtag, try #PolyphyRises to tie back in. +

+++

+ Ecce: the Sun King's coterie +


+ A (long-delayed) continuation of an inload covering the WIP stages of the figures [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+], the Eight of Clubs and Four of Suns mark another two members of the Sun King's own group, Ecce. Dernledger (the regular human) is the finished version of a concept mooted in the very first inload of this blog [+noospheric inloadlibnk embedded+]. He represents the Soldier archetype detailed there. Along with the Rubricist and the Autoscribe, that's three of the figures completed... +

+ I don't think the final paintwork is my best work, but sometimes it's better to leave things as they are and move on. In the grand scheme of things, I think they're perfectly acceptable, and have a little robust charm. +


+ What I am pleased with is that Dernledger seems to have captured the spirit of the Court of the Sun King project. Ruffed and uniformed, he's also dirty, desperate and slightly lost-looking. +



+ Threack is similarly brutally opulent – mostly due to the gloriously baroque sculpting of Bob Olley. His sculpts are always a pleasure to paint, rewarding a wandering and playful painting style. +



+ A hint of Adam Ant, Bladerunner and Sláine pops up with the addition of facial paint. Freehand details like this can suggest the wearer's culture – Threack might be dressed up like a fourpenny rabbit, but his tattoos and choice of weapon are facets of his own upbringing. Stuff like this helps me feel the figures – however minor to the story – have their own part to play, and often lead down a rabbit-hole of inspiration. +

+ The Sun King's sigil – a blazing, rising sun – is also marked on the new figures. Both the sigil and the warpaint are motifs that have popped up on other members (known or unwitting) of Ecce:


Two of Beasts: Thorna Tempest [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]
Four of Cups: Vanya de la Oawadh [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]


King of Collars: Sebastian Ottavus Arcimboldo [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]


+++



+ inload: Sephran Mawl – villainy in the 41st Millennium +

+ The Sünñe Çyng +



+ Every good hero needs a good villain, and Unfortunus Veck's nemesis is (in my opinion at least) the most compelling character I've ever been able to come up with. +

+ He's serves as a mirror to Unfortunus Veck himself [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]; but as Inquisitors aren't exactly shining paladins of light, his nemesis is equally a rather ambiguous and mercurial character. +

+ Polyphy. Sciriusc. Sephran Mawl. + 

+ Sephran Mawl popped up way back in 2008 [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] as a mention in the PCRC's Mellissan Secession campaign. The campaign itself fizzled, but the idea of a beloved and heroic general starting to disobey orders in order to wage a more efficient, pragmatic war; and one less costly in terms of his soldiers' lives, got my mind turning over. +

+ Over time, Sephran Mawl began to develop into a character who would do anything to advance human influence from the Sector (and, in theory, the galaxy); with little respect or recourse for the demands or traditions of the Imperium – not a renegade so much as simply bypassing the usual channels. Such a character is not unusual, even in 40k, but Mawl is not merely a rebel; he is, in terms of the Sector, a visionary. +

+ At root, Sephran Mawl is a great believer in humanity. In many settings, he'd be the hero. He invigorates and encourages his followers, believes in defending the weak, and has a charismatic and compelling personality. Pragmatic enough to disobey orders and wily enough to avoid sanction, he is capable, energetic, resourceful and charming. Sephran Mawl has, over the course of a decade, managed to rally the resources of three planets (Veet Ling and Camyblon in the Cambyses system [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+], and Cepheus in Port Cassian [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]) and extended his influence over countless more. +

+ However, he is also a high-functioning psychopath; owing as much to Colonel Kurtz and Hannibal Lecter as to Alexander the Great and the Emperor Constantine. He is both willing and capable of infiltrating and manipulating those around him in order to advance his cause, and – if he believes the sacrifice is worth it – is more than willing to commit genocide; as witnessed on the atomic wastelands of Cambylon and the events on Cepheus [+exloadref: Court of the Sun King++

+ Even within the Warhammer 40,000 universe, he's very much the sort of chap who ends up in the Inquisition. His philosophies – of a manifest human destiny and the supremacy of man – tally closely to the Monodominants, and his methods are much the same as the Recongregators. +


+ So why is Unfortunus Veck after him? +

+ Sephran Mawl and Unfortunus Veck represent what I consider the two options for humanity in the Warhammer mythos. Veck symbolises authority. Oppressive and watchful, his galaxy would see absolute control (and safety) at the expense of humanity's creative urges and spiritual potential. On the flip side, Mawl represents freedom – the opportunity to pursue your own destiny and right to privacy; though not without danger. +

+ In short, they represent authoritarianism against liberalism; fear against hope; worldliness against naivety; cynicism against romanticism; and, ultimately, law against chaos. That's got obvious connotations in the 40k universe, but I wanted Mawl to be more than just a caricatured megalomaniac, pursuing pure power for selfish means. The moral grey areas of the Inquisition are far more interesting to me, as they let us explore real-world considerations of right and wrong, how opposing philosophies can both have appealing and repulsive aspects; and how appealing or trusted ideas can be revealed to have unintended consequences. +

+ This is all quite heavy for a game of toy soldiers, but I hope that when you read the Court of the Sun King, on some issues you will side with Veck, on others with Mawl. They're not intended as goodies and baddies; except in concert with each other. Both would be horrendous monsters in the real world, but when you see what Papakakek Pemeras (remember that name!) is bringing to Cepheus, you might see why they have to make tough choices! +

+ My intention is for the project to explore Veck and Mawl's relationship, not to follow either character arc to completion – the end result of that is Mawl discovering the Fell Powers (like most inhabitants of the Imperium, he's largely unaware of them) and either becoming a spawn or daemon prince; while Veck either succeeds in apprehending Mawl or dies. For me, it's far more interesting to have them dance within the moral grey area than to give a neat answer. +

+++

+ Making the model +

+ I rather had the wind knocked out of me with Sephran Mawl's model. I'd spent ages planning and creating Sciriusc the Sun King (that is, a pseudonym for Sephran Mawl in his augmetic heirloom power armour) only for Games Workshop to reveal the Stormcast Eternals the following month. The enormous plate-armoured figures with impassive masks just made Mawl – who I think was quite an interesting and distinctive model – look derivative. + 

+ With a year or two having passed by, I've come back around to him. Sure, he's no longer as striking and impressive as I felt he was when I made him, but he's a solid model, nonetheless. After all, look how many wonderful conversions have been based on the Nurgle Champion! The pose – had raised in a mercurial gesture that might suggest the offering of hope as much as a raised threat – is strong, and the distinctive banner should help him stand out as something a bit special. However this model turns out, I have a feeling I'll return to Mawl in the future – perhaps in his guise as Polyphy. +

+ The conversion itself was deceptively complex, as it involved a hell of a lot of removal of detail and reshaping of the distinctively chaotic armour. The silhouette remains sinister – I want him to look impressive and opulent, but subtly evil-looking. I left the detail on his left shoulder pad as I want to incorporate the hands of the Cephean card deck I created for the project (cups, suns, hands, beast, collars); that pad represents the suit of Beasts. +

+ In terms of painting, I'm going to avoid metallics. I want to distance the figure from Stormcast, and I already have a Blood Angels Captain to paint in opulent gold. I'm toying with oranges and pale greens for the Sun King Sciriusc, as these will complement the overall palette for the project. +