This is probably the first time I've heard of a writer wanting to edit his script to include details inspired by the cover artwork! Truly honoured... now I have to get the audiobook by C Z Dunn to hear for myself if it did happen
The brief was pretty epic in a sense, with two titans of the 40K universe facing off- Khârn the Betrayer versus Commander Azrael of the Dark Angels aboard a navy vessel, a trail of bodies and carnage left in their wake.
The first thing that came to mind compositionally was a hangar or bridge of sorts, something to frame the action and provide some context. The idea of pillars came to mind, I suppose in way of visual metaphor for the 'trials' or general hardship that Azrael would endure in this story. The action would come to an end, literally at the stargazing port on the bridge, the reflected light of a nearby moon cascading through the, well, not-so stained glass (I wasn't emotionally prepared to paint a nightclub scene). To top off the drama with a bit of ridiculousness, a short firefight that happened moments before has caused a large breach in the hull, which is another excuse for the floating robes and flying debris Finally.. I get to imagine space marine thruster packs put to good use!
Here's a interesting side story of mine to go with this image and why Azrael in particular was particularly... challenging.. for me to illustrate: www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbi…
Hold up! Azrael held his ground against Kharn? KHARN!? The guy who singlehandedly fractured the world eaters in a blood rage? The guy who's killed so many things he had a device installed in his helm to count them? The greatest of the blood God's mortal champions?! That Kharn?! At Any rate, this piece is fantastic, it feels like they like both the betrayer and the death angel slayer everything in their path and are ending this combat one on one, the greatest of the lion's angels against the strongest son of the red angel. Awesome.
I was slightly disappointed by the audiobook because this scene doesn't happen! Kharn kicks Azrael's ass something fierce and Azrael runs away. No seriously, he throws chairs and tables at Kharn and runs away. Their duel was all of 2 mins long and Kharn spent the rest of the book chasing Azrael, basically telling him the book can't continue unless the dark angel comes back...but he never does and the book kinda' just ends.
This is one of the most epic pieces of Warhammer 40k artwork there is at the time. Even with only two characters alive and in action, it still breaths "Epic". Spectacular work!
P.S. On the subject of influencing the script - Graham McNeil stated in his introduction to the first Ultramarines Omnibus that he created one of the main characters (namely, sargeant Pasanius) after he saw the cover art.