+ inload: The King of Beasts +

+ The King of Beasts +

Representing nature, mastery of fear, and fruitfulness, the Suit of Beasts has belonged to the traditional Cephean card deck since its earliest generation. Inverted, these qualities become associated with malignant growth, panic and moral turgidity. While the other suits are only occasionally decorated, the Beasts are traditionally individually illuminated with man-animal hybrids that reflect the problems of the state at the time. In the past, poverty, disease and outside powers have dominated, while later periods subtly allude to political unrest, economic uncertainty or division within the Wellborne houses.

Cephean folkart also traditionally associates the Cardinal cards with the Beasts – the artwork for the Bishopric Martial (VII) and The Cyngs Enthroned (XIX) being particularly ripe for satire – in theory reminding heads of the state that they sit by the will of the people; while in practise being an opportunity for the lowest form of mockery.

Of course, such satire walks the fine line of sedition. The Wellborne court have traditionally allowed the people of the City this minor vent for their frustrations – indeed, Ferlinghetti has seen the cards of Cyng Bodonis VIII, who – for a period – hoarded and revelled in the most seditious of such cards, particularly favouring those who reflected him most monstrously. Other rulers or governors have banned such cards – and meted dreadful punishments on their artists, ranging from imprisonment to torture; even exile and death in some cases. 

This has lent the artists a certain cache in some circles, and the card-artist is a stock figure in many Cephean entertainments, being a symbol of puckishness and mischief. Colyn of Cern is the semi-fantastical tale of a celebrated artte-bandyt of Cephean folklore; his tale describes his rise to fame; his triumph over the Forwandlers of the Heath; and finally his sticky (and fingerless) end at the hands of Cyng Bodonis, whose indulgence and sense of humour evidently failed him at the last.

While the tale is certainly sensationalised, Colyn of Cern was definitely an historical figure. Two extant cards can be attributed to him with certainty, as they formed the primary evidence in his trial: the King of Suns and the King of Beasts. One is gloriously gilded and triumphant, showing a noble man clad in golden armour; the other a base beast, distorted and monstrous, with altogether too many limbs and a sinister air. 

Colyn's genius – and guilt – was simply in making the cards form a pair; the crime simply being the transposition of the symbols for Sun-King and Beast

+ Extracted from Childeric's notes on Cepheus – Three Years On + 




+ Some miniatures are straightforward; build as intended, then paint. Others take a more leisurely and planned approach; starting from an initial concept.  My Court of the Sun King project is mostly made up of the latter – and that's part of the reason it takes so long! +



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+ Theoretical +

+ Some miniatures are straightforward; build as intended, then paint. Others take a more leisurely and planned approach; starting from an initial concept.  My Court of the Sun King project is mostly made up of the latter – and that's part of the reason it takes so long! +
+ Primarily a conflict between my characters Inquisitor Unfortunus Veck and Sephran Mawl, the project has a third crucial figure: the genestealer patriarch, Papakakek Pameras, who will work as an antagonist to both. +

+ The concept behind this miniature started out fairly simple – for years I've wanted to bring a bit more David Cronenberg-style body horror to Tyranids (Advanced Space Crusade has some really disturbing incidental images of semi-human tyranids, which really stuck with me). A key theme of 40k revolves around the human form and its degradation or corruption – with spiritual or moral corruption often becoming visible physically. +

+ As well as being scary aliens, tyranids also encompass the fear of becoming consumed or subsumed, converted into something else. Big Boss Red Skullz brilliant Nestorian Infestation project [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] explores this concept through an really creative genestealer cult, and that turned me towards genestealers rather than tyranids. They already have hybrids, and I wondered whether I could explore the other side of this – tyranids develop as they progress; so they should presumably explore some human-like elements in their directed evolution. +

+ With these key visuals in place, I thought some more about the character. How would a genestealer operate on a feudal world like Cepheus? I thought that the populace would treat it much like another creature of horror – the vampire. Both are creatures that stalk the night and turn people into things like them, and I thought there'd be some great storytelling opportunities. +

+ Papakakek is patriarch of the Catipürnan World-Turners, a genestealer cult centred on Cepheus. It's slow-growing owing to the isolation of the cult and the planet's low tech-level; but at least one person is aware of the xenos – though not our Inquisitor! +

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+ Practical+

+ The model is based on the genestealer broodlord from Space Hulk, as it has a lovely pose; perched like a gargoyle. I toyed with draping it in a tattered cape, but in the end decided that would humanise it too much – I want him still to read as an alien, and a monster; and that meant having the limbs and carapace visible. +

+ I trimmed away much of the technological gubbins – especially the Terminator helms! – and replaced one of the hands. I toyed with removing a limb entirely, as I thought having an injured patriarch would be quite a cool storytelling twist. In the end, I decided I didn't want anything to evoke sympathy or suggest weakness in the creature, so contented myself with reposing the legs into a more passive squat than the stock model. Similarly, I trimmed the arms off and draped them downwards, changing the posture from active and gestural to more considered and passive. +

+ The most obvious change is the face, which is sculpted from greenstuff. I've left the eyes hollow – a common body horror trope – and tried to create an elongated but recognisably human visage. I wanted it distorted, rather than warped, as I didn't want to create a Chaotic (with a capital C) appearance, but keep it alien. +

+ The base is an objective marker – I wanted him to be perched on something high so he can look down on other characters. He is posed to be in opposition to the Sun King model. A nice little unplanned extra is that viewers need to pick the model up to see the face. That forces them to be a bit closer, which keeps the face a – rather unpleaseant! – surprise. +

+ Painting +

+ Still work-in-progress, the idea here was to keep things muted and subtle. I've used blue-greys to suggest a nighttime feel. The Engineers from Alien were a bit inspiration. +

2 comments:

  1. That face is suitably creepy. maybe a shot of him from overhead, or standard side view so we can make connection of the hidden face?

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