Friday, 25 April 2014

Ecce homo: Inquisitor de Lorme character creation

In my last post, I've been muttering about converting my bird-mask resin cast into an inquisitor character for Inq28. My initial idea was to make him some kind of semi-Astartes - what was partially caused by the fact that the initial sculpture was made for an (renegade) Astartes character. Fortunately, I've seeked advice at the Ammobunker and those wonderful folks there told that the Astartes thing is not a good idea. Instead, I was encouraged to make an old school homo sapiens sapiens character. In turn, a different concept was excogitated, as pictured on the following sketch:

Using a pair of legs from the GW's Greatswords sprue, some other bits and many layers of putty I was able to translate this idea into reality. Again, fellows from the Ammobunker were really helpful during this process.

The semi-biographical background of de Lorme is yet to be devised, but I'm going to list some thoughts below to help you better understand what it is all about. Some of these were coined by the members of the Ammobunker community.
First of all, he is a dandy; the mask and the wig are here for theatrical purpose rather than, for example, to cover some kind of deformation.
Obviously, he is rather a puppeteer than a fighter; that's why he is probably affiliated to the inquisitorial Ordo Hereticus.
His second name is Pantagruel. As for the first - I was thinking of Cyrano (as a kind of citation regarding the beak-nose). Cyrano is not really a name, but then again, mayhap it will become one in the next 38k years.
He's got a kind of aristocratic provenance. It is possible that he can trace back his ancestry to some semi-legendary person from pre-Imperial times (might be made up, though). Through millennia his family has acquired plenty of titles, mostly meaningless.
That's why his personal servo-skull basically serves two purposes:
Firstly, it is a kind of announcer that can list dozens of fancy titles and names, in effect introducing de Lorme to whoever is listening.
Secondly, the skull acts as a heraldic supported, carrying de Lorme's family coat of arms around.

This idea was an attempt to combine the characteristic type of Wh40k fandangles with the popular nobleman portrait composition with a coat of arms painted somewhere on the background (which in turn looks a bit like if it was hovering).

His right arm is a mechanical prosthesis.
The orb in his right hand is suppose to be a reference to two things. Firstly, it's form is based on the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch from that marvellous movie that we all have watched more than once. ...And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, "O LORD, bless this Thy hand grenade that with it Thou mayest blow Thine enemies to tiny bits, in Thy mercy." The idea was coined by Jeff Vader from the Officio Convertorum. Since the orb he's holding now is a bit rough, I may swap it for the one from GW's Black Templars conversion bits.

Secondly, the grenade is there to show a kind of attitude that de Lorme sometimes use to deal with other people - in other words, it's a "give me what I want or I will blow up the whole place" type of attitude. This may be considered a reference to the Return of the Jedi or to the Dark Knight movie. This kind of action may be a sign that de Lorme have the nerves of steel or rather that he is just insane. It is not yet clear to me which one is "true".
In the other hand, he carries a walking stick - which is there to complement the dandy idea. The cane itself is made from a kind of thorn tree. I was fully convinced to that idea only after finding a similar motive in one of John Blanche's pieces from the Emperor's Will artbook. That being said, the initial idea comes from the old cRPG Planescape: Torment, where the protagonist came by a mysterious plant with thorns that could be somehow miraculously reshaped with thought. It is yet to be revealed if de Lorme's walking stick has this kind of unnatural properties.

So far I have no idea how to paint it. On the one hand, I am tempted to use a limited palette of colours, peat brown, red, burnt sepia etc. On the other hand, the whole dandy idea just cries for a plularity of vivid colours: blue, purple, yellow, violet and so on.

Moreover, I'm interested how those fragile copper wires on the servo-skull are going to behave. Transporting this miniature anywhere outside my flat is going to be a real fun! Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to it.
I hope you like the miniature so far. Thanks for reading and till next time!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Inquisitor de Lorme's armour, baroque inspirations (and even more resin casting)

I have promised a note on the beak mask guy, so let's get to it. Although I'm going to talk about an actual project, this post is more about inspiration really. And so, I hope that you will find it, well, inspiring.
This miniature started a few months ago as a special character for my Chaos Space Marines army. They are (or at least were supposed to be, back then) a bit of Slaanesh-themed and in Wh40k fluff Slaanesh devotees are often drawn from the higher layers of societies, bored aristocrats and blasé heirs - those kind of people you would see on TV series like The Bold and the Beautiful or the Gossip Girl (or Dangerous Liaisons, for those of you who prefer books). The fact that those kind of people are often depicted in Wh40k art as wearing baroque or rococo clothes gives a great opportunity here. This is a kind of aesthetics - with it's emphasis on form rather than essence or purpose - that really fits Slaanesh cultists. Moreover, since aristocrats from that certain moment of history are often imagined as libertine or at least hedonistic, with Versailles being viewed as a kind of orgiastic vanity fair, baroque clothes and hair-styles are even better for Slaanesh. To put it simple, a viewer seeing a dandy with a powdered peruke and silk jacket will rather associate him with the Prince of Pleasure than, for example, Lord of Decay.
So, after seeing many nice illustrations in Rogue Trader and Dark Heresy rulebooks from Fantasy Flight Games, I've decided to make a baroque Astartes and take advantage of what was said above. Inspiration striked especially after seeing this picture in one of the rulebooks:

The peruke on the guy in power armour seemed like a really great idea. I've started working on it right away, but then it turned out that I was not satisfied with his face (sculpted and casted by yours truly). Then I realised one thing - what looks more baroque than a guy in a powdered wig? Well, clearly, a masked guy in a powdered wig on the masked ball (orgies included)!

While aiming at something evil-looking, I chose a bird mask, modelled after famous plague doctour costumes and many examples of Venetian carnival masks.

Which, if I may humbly say so, was a really good idea, defining the whole miniature concept and making it slightly more sinister (especially since without a mask it looked more like a metal band musician). Since we're talking inspiration here - when I think about it, I come to a conclusion that the first inspiration for the beak mask came from the work of Franciszek Starowieyski:

In fact, I believe that Starowieyski's imaginary creatures fit Wh40k universe pretty well (some of them even look like if they were torn from the domain of Prince of Pleasure himself) and even if not, they surely can be very stimulative. It is also worth noting that the colour pallete that Starowieyski used is a bit similar to what you may see in John Blanche's art - and really what can be more 40k than Blanche style?

Let's get back to the beak guy. The next thing to design is, of course, his armour. Now, I have to warn you that we're no longer talking about an actual miniature of mine, but we're rather venturing into the realm of pure imagination. While this might not be historically acurate, one of the things that matches the best my vision of a baroque (power) armour are the works of Filippo Negroli, the famous armourer from Milan. These were heavily decorated parade armours with probably little to none protection value, being first and foremost the pieces of art itself. The common elements here are human faces, floral patterns and bizzare creatures. While most of them would rather fit a pure soul of a loyalist Astartes, there are some that would surely allow you to blend yourself into the crowd of villains. Thanks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we can view many of Negroli's (and some other Italian armourer's) works in a free book, Heroic Armor of the Italian Renaissance: Filippo Negroli and his Contemporaries, available for download here.

Among the others, we have here probably the first known to me example of an armour with a bat wings motive (which is heavily used in many fantasy art, especially in depicting vampiries):

There are plenty more; I encourage you to skim throught this book - if not for the sake of inspiration, then just out of historical curiosity.
By the way, the Palatine Blades by revered Steve Whitehead from Forge World seem to catch very well this kind of a decorated armour aesthetics. They might even be considered more baroque, due to some irregularities and asymmetries, and it fits the fluff of Emperor's Children really well.
Now let's get back to the reality. What is the status of the beak guy now? Well, to be honest, not much have changed. Since I was really content with the mask and the wig, but was not really sure how to approach the subject of armour details - I've tried to sculpt those few times, but in the end I've always cut it flat again - I've decided to cast it in resin. There was another reason to do so. Recently, I am becoming more and more fascinated by Inq28 community and I am inclided towards doing myself an inquisitorial retinue. It seems to me that the bird mask and the powdered wig may find their place there very easily. So it seems that now I am going to make at least two bird masked characters. One will be the Chaos Space Marine and the other - maybe some Radical in power armour? Maybe I am even going to try doing it in the true scale?
This is how the first cast looks:

I am surprised that the mould came up so well - the casted part does not need almost any work (in terms of gap filling etc.).

Lastly, I've made some changes in the shoulder pad from the previous post. The lower parts of the body are now less flat, more chubby - as they should be in the first place. I've even used some left-over silicone to make a new mould and cast it again. The face is still ugly as hell, but I don't think it is possible for me to do any improvement here with my present skills - it is just too small. Here goes the new pad:

I will try to keep you informed about any progress on those miniatures. Legs for the chaos Astartes are almost done, I will try to post some pictures of them later.
I hope you have found this post a good read. If you have any suggestions or ideas on how to improve the masked marine or perhaps you know some relevant inspiring art - don't be afraid to comment. I will really appreciate it!

P.S. The titular inquisitor is named after Charles de Lorme - the famous plague doctor, who allegedly created the beak mask costume for the purposes of his work. It seems like a good name for an inquisitor.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Some shoulder pads and some resin casting

One detail from my Tyrant miniature that I was really happy about was a shoulder pad with an androgynous character sculpted on it (or a badly sculpted female character - if you prefer to view it from another angle). Ever since I've wanted to resculpt it in the regular space marine scale. So, I've managed to do so and it seemed to look good enought that I've decided to cast it in resin (with an idea of using it on multiple models from my expanding collection).

Well, only after taking some pictures of it I've noticed that the sculpt have some flaws and generally speaking, it doesn't look as it should (be honest - it looks awful). Anyway, it is already casted and probably some greenstuff here and there should make it a right (while enforcing some diversity, if I decide to really use it on multiple models).

It also seems that I've made myself a habit of retouching my "old" unfinished miniatures - this time I am working on a... space marine with a bird mask. As a sneak peek - an old photo:

In a few days, I will try to post some more recent WIP pictures, hopefully along with a longer comment about the whole concept of this miniature, inspiration and whatnot. Take care!