:: UPDATE :: 3/30/13 Cleaned this one up for my senior portfolio show, in which a couple dozen comrades and I show off our various artworks. Made the canvas bigger, corrected all the bad proportioning, added more blending and better light effects on the armor. Improved the signature, too. This one's one of my most popular pieces so I hope you all approve of the changes.
Hi all! Just got cleared by the wonderful Karen Miksza of the Black Library to post a piece of cover art I did for them at the start of this year. I cannot wait to get my hands on the actual book just from reading the artwork brief alone.
This is my rendition of Grimaldus of the Black Templars alongside a Celestial Lion champion, locked in a desparate last stand against waves of orcs, literally down to the last bolter round. I wanted to explore that idea of 'battle brothers' by making them look like they are fighting for each other, reacting to each others actions and truly fighting as one; the Lion unsheathing his knife mid-tactical reload, as an Ork lunges from behind some rubble at Grimaldus, who is in his zone, keeping the waves at bay. I also thought it was more intimate to position the camera as though we were one of the orks so we might also feel that maybe that uphill charge wasn't the best idea of the day.
For me, the single most terrifying thing about working for a property like 40K is trying to not piss off the hardcore fans at the very least . And because I keep receiving art briefs that involve multiple, often colourful chapters that I clearly don't know enough about, as an illustrator its often hard to balance the research/lore, storytelling and the idealised 'poster pic impact' that a cover artwork often represents. Long story short, this one was waaaay out of my comfort zone, yet somehow I was inspired to just push even farther out of my comfort zone (since I was in the deep end anyway) and paint a non-grimdark 40k piece. Broad daylight, gold, bright paint and fabrics, dark metal, ork skin, blood and sand, gore on the lens, bittersweet heroic atmosphere, focusing on balancing the sea of colours and story. It turned out to be one of my favourite images that I've done, forcing me to be more mindful of the many fundamental aspects of rendering that I take for granted and getting me to evolve my painting process along the way. For that I'm thankful And I sincerely hope the 40K fans amongst you enjoy it as much as I did making it.
Other bucketlist items I had to do for my inner 40K fan: -Give the Lion's modified Stalker pattern bolter a forward grip. Also give it plausible techno gothic rail system. The fact no one said anything makes me giddy with happiness. -As a tribute to Kevin Chin , former IFS colleague and now badass artist at Games Workshop itself, I styled Grimaldus' filter to a more boxy variety, the way he seems to like to when he draws most of his marines. I remember vaguely heated debates on whether triangle or boxy looked better back in the day... [link]
THE STORY ++Today, I will teach your kind the meaning of wrath. I will kill
a thousand of your filth-breed before your blood
dries on my gauntlets.++
++Gabriel Seth, Chapter Master of The Flesh Tearers++
Other bucketlist items I had to do for my inner 40K fan, hope im not pissing any hardcore fans off: -"Oh my god... its full of stars... *kssshh* ...nope they're just tracers-" -"This is Rhino 2-9 to Titan! Please advise on subsequent plasma trajectory...previous strike danger close-" -Trying to stay faithful to the concept of Bolter rounds on impact. -A friend kept saying how much he loved 'Beakie' helms. -Re-purposed harness for Assault marine into webbing for extra ammunition/gear carrying capacity -I loved gargants, and so I had to throw one in as tribute to how Epic 40k captured my imagination as a window-gazing kid. -Crowd surfing marines, because when you're armoured like a tank, fighting eye to eye is so last millenium...
The brief for this one was a three-way melee between Kor'sarro Khan of the White Scars, Tau Commander Shadowsun, and Captain Kayvaan Shrike of the Raven Guard, amidst a mixed-force battle of White Scars, Raven Guard, and Cadian IG versus the Tau fighting atop a rocky promontory with jungle.
The main focus of the show is Shadowsun, whom according to the reference and specs sent to me, often fields two shield drones. I thought that could be a perfect excuse to not end up in an awkward "2 on 1" prong attack. So that resulted in our assault marine captain Shrike pulling off a DFA and Kor'sarro timing a strike to take out her shield on one side.
Given the hardback template/format I decided early on to have two back to back crisis suits behind the main trinary to visually frame the action and hopefully some narrative link to what was going on in the background. While sketching in comp ideas I was thinking of World in Conflict FMVs (yeah I watched a compilation vid of the different sequences but set to just Audioslave's Shadow on the Sun... how apt for our Tau commander ) which inspired that jungle crossfire for the back cover (left of image), along with some physics logic I thought should be observed such as "if plasma based weaponry gets spammed in the general direction of a forest, there should be a moderate to high chance of a forest fire occurring" which kinda explains why we see the charred dirt and branches and hints of trees on fire in the back.
Other favourite points of interest that I recall from half a year back:
-Singed/scorched Imperial armour versus cracked/gouged tau armour -Drones buzzing a tree (near the sun) -Devastator Raven going head on with the battlesuit turned away from us, armour in the process of being seared off chunk by chunk. -White Scar reading poetry on the lawn in an admirable last stand -Unfortunate IG, now literally half the man he used to be. Courtesy of being in the open when Tau heavy artillery drops.