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Black Library: Armageddon

By ukitakumuki
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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 :p. 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 :D 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]

Check out the book here! : [link]
Illustration © Games Workshop / Black Library
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© 2013 - 2020 ukitakumuki
Comments123
anonymous's avatar
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sammckissock's avatar

Awesome! Love the back to back fighting stance and the no-look shot with the plasma pistol.

Stargazzer811's avatar
I have to agree with what SlamDunkin said, which was,  "I adore the Celestial Lion in this picture. This is how I imagine Astartes to fight, literally non-stop; if out of ammo, draw the knife to buy time to reload. If no knife, improvise and hand to hand. Brutal, effective, majestic. Just like your art. Love it." This piece of art shows exactly that.

In fact in my opinion this is how Warhammer 40k should be. Its been made so dark that it is, in fact TOO dark. If you read up on it, how its set up, Space Marines (and obviously Imperial Knights too) are actually meant to be analogs of the romanticized knights from fairy tales. Chivalrous, duty bound, bringing death to their enemies so as to protect those who can't fight for themselves.

So bearing that in mind, when I look at this picture I don't see darkness, I see light. The sun shining bright, and the bombed out buildings, orks on all sides and blood everywhere. I see the hopes of every citizen of the Imperium, I see badasses who are the shield upon which the enemy breaks and the sword upon which they perish. I see Space Marines, and I see what 40k truly is; not darkness, but hope.
Great-5's avatar
Your comment is like an awesome poem. Excellent work bruva! The Emperor must be pleased with your kind words about the Adeptus Astartes.
Stargazzer811's avatar
Thank you! He most certainly is!
lunarkaijuwarrrior1's avatar
None shall fuck with grimaldus
lunarkaijuwarrrior1's avatar
Neko Neko Nyan Nyan marines
TattyGumcancer's avatar
Why does people always give Grimaldus a regular helmet, but in the book he has a silver skull helmet, befitting a Chaplain/Reclusiarch
Stargazzer811's avatar
Because the artist may not have felt comfortable creating that helmet, perhaps due to ability or time constraints. That said if you go to youtube and search Helsreach Part 1 from Richard Boylan you'll find he wears a similar helmet as in the book.
TattyGumcancer's avatar
I'm not watching that. I listened to the audiobook already, and if the artist cannot get perhaps THE most distinctive feature of a Chaplain correct, then by the Aquila, get a new artist
Stargazzer811's avatar
*gets on loudspeaker* Commissar to the front please!
steamflunky's avatar
I think what impresses me most on this piece is it is a sunny day with blue sky. Most battle scenes use stormy skies, lightning, large explosions and smoke from burning buildings to get that dark threatening feeling to highten the atmosphere of the scene.
This looks great without all that. Very impressed!
NineBreaker09's avatar
Like the work, done very well indeed. I think it really shows off the differences in the ways each side makes war. The Space Marines as a disciplined force and the Orks as an unruly mob.

That said, I have a question about the style Grimaldus is done in (and if it's already been answered I do appologize.) Having read the book I know Grimaldus is a chaplain of the black templars. What made you decide to use the unorthodox helmet and mark eight armor? I just ask 'cause it was somewhat evident in the book that Grimaldus used a 'standard' Chaplains helm, the whole skull face thing, and likely used an older pattern of armor, the mark seven likely.

Not that I'm complaining! Like I said, it was very well done; I was just wondering what made you decide to use those details instead of other ones.
aleksandra10101's avatar
Ekene Dubaku has got to be one of my favorite Chapter Masters
TheDarkHeretic's avatar
Thats actually really good, nice work of armageddon ^^!
GingerWarBear's avatar
I am afraid i have to start off with a criticism (which i hate doing, but i am currently serving soldier in the British Army, things like this niggle at me). You are apparantly an army reservist and yet you have mistaken a combat/speed reload with a tactical reload in your description which are two different things. A combat/speed reload is a reload that you must do, immediately, to get a fresh source of ammunition in to the weapon because you are dry (as seen in your art work). A tactical reload is done when a lull or opportune moment arrives to reload your weapon if you have fired a few rounds from the magazine and need to top off before moving on, without immidate danger to your person (which surrounded by Orks, rushing at you, is not a tactical reload). :)

Moan out of the way, i am staggered at the quality of your work, i mean utterly, i have seen your work on book covers (most notably A-D-B) and am pleased to have found you on this site and have been gawking like mad man at the quality, keep up the amazing work!!! :D
ukitakumuki's avatar
Hey there!! Thanks very much for the insight, it makes so much more sense now! In training, that term was thrown around carelessly and I obviously lapped it up putting it off to semantics and foolishly didn't think twice, but I thank you for clarifying it for me!! Cheers man, all the best with your service! (Also, thanks for the kind words re: my artwork!)
SoveriegnofTruth's avatar
haldir999's avatar
This is one of the best pieces of W40K-art I've ever seen. You say it's a "non-grimdark" piece, but I disagree. For me, this image really represents 40K (from the Imperium's perspective, at least): a desperate last stand in the rubble of a once-great civilization, foes all around, desperately outnumbered but swinging 'til the end.

Excellent work!
Blackartist2003's avatar
Amazing work. I love the feel of this chaotic battle scene. The fight is brutal and beautiful at the same time as the Light warmly shines on warriors in the scene. Awesome Contrast. 
Tyrannus13's avatar
This is one of my favorite pieces from any and all BL covers and it goes to one of my favorite BL releases. I love you for being the person who drew this.
jackiekhoo57's avatar
I think you should create a Dawn of War visual novel, that'll be awesome!!
SlamDunkin's avatar
I adore the Celestial Lion in this picture. This is how I imagine Astartes to fight, literally non-stop; if out of ammo, draw the knife to buy time to reload. If no knife, improvise and hand to hand. Brutal, effective, majestic. Just like your art. Love it.
anonymous's avatar
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