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]
Check out the book here! : [link]
Illustration © Games Workshop / Black Library