Marked_by_Chaos (James) back again with my fourth and final part of my report of the Enter the Citadel event at Warhammer World. Armed with another pint of the great Bugmans XXXXXX I took the opportunity to talk to the various studio personalities in the main hall. I had some great conversations with Jervis Johnson, Jes Goodwin and Phil Kelly. However, I was particularly keen to talk to the Studio art team and John Blanche in particular.
I started off talking to Mark Holmes from the art team. He had a wonderful portfolio with him and was very willing to answer questions.
He has been heavily involved with the art from the recent Tau release and much of his art portfolio concerned the Tau Codex art, with the addition of some great pieces from the 6th Edition Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook and the Death from the Skies Supplement.
You will recognise Mark’s work even if you don’t immediately recognise the name.
He has a very particular style that plays around with focus. In his art the focal point will be in clear focus and the background will be increasingly out of focus.
Artwork © Games Workshop 2000 – 2013. All rights reserved. Used without permission.
This works brilliantly to convey a real dynamism to his pieces. In the case of the Tau release he did many of the battle-suit art pieces and has really captured the fluidity and speed of movement of the source material. Aside from the Tau art he also had with him a copy of a great piece showing a space marine drop pod assault on a daemon world which was very evocative. I believe that he is also responsible for the great Imperial Fists vs Tyranids battle-scene in the new 6th edition Warhammer 40,000 rulebook.
I quizzed Mark about how he created the pieces and he confirmed that it was almost exclusively digitally produced. Most of the studio art team are now working in a digital format and apparently they have some very cool packages available.
Having undertaken rudimentary A-Level art I was interested to hear about the pros and cons of producing art digitally. Mark acknowledged that was still pretty intuitive although it was perhaps not such a loose process as old fashioned paint and paper art. However, he did concede that it was great to be able to undo mistakes and was much quicker to experiment and play around with pieces.
I am a huge fan of John Blanche’s work and was very pleased by his addition to the billing for the Enter the Citadel event. Having collected Games Workshop games and Citadel Miniatures since 2nd edition Warhammer 40,000, John has been a defining influence on my entire experience the “Games Workshop hobby”.
By its very nature John’s art can be divisive. However, I personally love it and believe that it has really helped to set the Games Workshop universes apart from standard pulp science fiction and fantasy.
John brought a fantastic leather bound sketchbook with him, together with a huge array of miniatures.
John’s sketchbook included some great pieces including the green mossy death-world image from the 6th edition 40k rulebook and a selection of Warhammer Undead pieces. It also included an array of whimsical pieces, including a number of sketches relating to his previous Femmes Militant project. If you like John’s art are you should really check of the excellent Gothic Punk website, that is frequently updated with images of John’s work, and occasionally miniatures.
John confirmed that he is principally now an initial concept artist for Games Workshop and sadly it is likely that less and less of his pieces will make final publications. However, he is still something of a custodian of the design direction of the studio. John pretty much lives and breathes the Games Workshop universes and is constantly exploring weird and wonderful corners of his imagination for inspiration. In a sense you could say that we are really participating in his ongoing art project.
The chances are that he is currently thinking through a new brief for an army that won’t be released for a couple of years. It seems that he and Jes Goodwin in particular will typically get involved at a very early stage on a new project, often well before the input of games developers.
John had with him a huge collection of beautifully converted and painted miniatures. Many were on loan from well known online bloggers and painters whose work has appeared in the recent Blanchitsu columns in White Dwarf, including:
Many time Golden Daemon winner Jacob Nielsen (and his blog)
Fellow Golden Daemon winner Steve Buddle (now also of the design studio)
Kari Hernesniemi and Miko Luoma (check out the excellent red Corsair in particular)
They had all apparently come over in the UK for a special game of Confrontation using their lovingly crafted models and had lent them to John for the day. Confrontation was the forerunner for Necromunda with rules released through White Dwarf. Again set on Necromunda, Confrontation was a more flexible and detailed rule set that really brought to life the more everyday travails of the denizens of the Imperium, and is perhaps in many ways the forbearer for the increasingly popular “Inquisimunda” and Inq28 movements.
John has apparently tracked down an original manuscript of the Confrontation rules and he and his cohort of artists and painters have been playing a very cool campaign.
John’s miniature painting style
As you will have noticed from John’s Blanchitsu articles, he has a very particular painting style that is almost a polar opposite from the ‘Eavy Metal style featured in the last part of my report. Although he was the original head of the ‘Eavy Metal team he has increasingly delved into a “painterly” style that almost is like a 3D representation of his art pieces. However, when you closely examine his miniatures up close you appreciate just how good he is, particularly when it comes to the freehand work.
John’s miniatures reference the same colour pallet as his art and he uses a limited selection of colours for his miniatures. He also tends to adopt either a slower method building up from a white undercoat or a quicker method based on a black undercoat.
In terms of colour selection, John stated in a previous Blanchitsu piece claimed to be using only (by reference to the old GW colours):
Snakebite Leather, Chaos Black, Skull White, Shining Gold, Boltgun Metal and Chainmail, together with the new washes for the basic colours. However, as an artist I am sure that he might occasionally stray from this and undoubtedly mixes and blends the colours.
John suggested in a later Blanchitsu that after painting the colours on he would give the entire model wash mixed from Devlan Mud/Gryphonne Sepia and then give the model a very light (as in barely discernible) dry-brushing of Skull White.
Broadly speaking He will then more detailed effects and freehand and then weather the model, dulling down metal with washes and rusty brown colouration, or blue/green verdigris effects as appropriate for copper and bronze areas.
Considering the end product of his miniatures it is particularly interesting that he does not use a red paint. This is where he confessed to departing from the above. For the rich and glossy orangey reds that are common feature of his miniatures John uses shellac based Winsor & Newton artist drawing ink. This is by nature glossy and gives a very vibrant effect.
And for those who are old enough to remember it I thought I would just leave this as a parting gift since I specifically discussed it with John on the day. Just check out the work on the banner. It earned John the Master Painter award at Games Day 1987 (the precursor to Golden Daemon).
From Ratspike (book), (1989), GW Books, Brighton. Image copyright of the artist (John Blanche).
That’s all folks. Thanks for reading and I hope you have found my report of the event of interest. Also check out part 1 – the design of the Eldar, part 2 – developing big miniatures and part 3 – ‘Eavy Metal Masterclass, if you haven’t done so before.
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Really awesome post. I love this series. I find Blanche's work to be some the best at evoking a theme and a mood in the viewer. Blanche is truly one of the best artists GW has under its wing. People don't like his work because it isn't t realistic but that's actually it's main feature – it's expressive rather than realistic.
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Confrontation was an awesome game. Any chance you could get Blanche to post them up for us all to enjoy?