I picked up “The Emperor’s Will”, a new artbook from Black Library that contains lots of older and newer artworks from John Blanche, Dave Gallagher and other artists you see in 40k codices and on Black Library book covers. The subtitle of this book is “Agents of the Imperium”, which means this book will be jam-packed with the lunatic grim darkness we all love 40k so much for. And of course skulls. So let’s take a glimpse in this neat book.
First things first, let’s take a look at the presentation. With its measurements of 22 x 30,5 cm, this hardback book is bigger than your usual codex. There is a book jacket on which the classic Golden Throne artwork has an added coat of gloss varnish for a nice effect. The paper feels very nice and high grade. All in all, everything you would expect for your money and a little more. Printing quality is good in general, however there are some artworks here and there which look visibly enlarged as they are slightly blurry or pixelated. However you must come really close with your eyes to notice so it’s no big deal.
The 144 pages are filled with full-blown artworks of John Blanche, Alex Boyd, Matt Bradbury, Kevin Chin, Paul Dainton, Wayne England, Dave Gallagher, Jes Goodwin, Igor Kieryluk, Clint Langley, Will Rees, Adrian Smith and Andrea Uderzo. Almost all of the studio’s current and former main artists are featured, as well as some artists you know from Black Library book covers and the like. Thus the mix of artworks is pretty eclectic – there is black and white art and colour, techniques range from pencil and ink drawings over traditional oil/acrylic/watercolour painting and digital art. Sadly the book has literally no structure – each image is uncommented, you don’t know which artist did what painting, nor what the painting is to depict. Also there is no order. It would have made sense to group the artworks in chapters or at least to sort them chronically.
There is a lot of gothic, imperial madness in this book, that’s for sure. This book is about the agents of the Imperium, this means thankfully almost no power armour, but a host of inquisitors, priests and henchmen. Lots of henchmen. Also there are a few battlescenes. The images come mainly from the codices and rulebooks of the 3rd to 5th Edition, but there are also a few 2nd Edition era artworks and I’ve spotted at least one Rogue Trader one, too. There is also a good amount of Black Library commissioned art that I didn’t know before, plus some never seen before artworks from John Blanche and Dave Gallagher.
For those who don’t know, John is the Art Director of GW and does all the wicked sketchy images like you see them in the Vampire Counts or Daemons of Chaos army book. Some people do not like his rough stroke of the brush, but he is one of the creative minds who provide lots of new concepts for the sculptors and other artists to build on. Dave did the codex front art for Blood Angels, Imperial Guard and Empire, as well as the Island of Blood cover. He is also a bit oldschool and rough in his technique, but he often does those epic (battle) scenes. However when he paints portraits of single characters I find he sometimes lacks a bit of detail, like on the Storm of Magic Scrolls of Bindings or with the special characters from the Dark Eldar codex.
This well-made artbook is a great inspiration to get your creative juices flowing. If you are a fan of the Imperium or Inquisition, this book is a must have. There are lots of facets of the Imperium explored that you don’t find in the model range yet, so after browsing the book you instantly want to convert some crazy stuff. I got the book for around 26 Euro on the Amazon Marketplace, which is a great deal over the 40 Euro from the Black Library store. But I guess it is worth 40 Euros, too, as it is a real beauty on your bookshelf!
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