Rogue Trader Marneus Calgar

The day school broke up for Christmas when I was thirteen was also the day I got my teenage nerd-mitts on two legends of the Warhammer 40,000 mythos – Marneus Calgar and Leman Russ.  As an adult, both vignette pieces still give me such an intense festive tingle that I want to repaint them and have them in my cabinet.  First up, Imperial Commander Marneus Calgar.

Marneus Calgar parts

Marneus’ components stripped and based up individually for ease of painting.

There are two sources for colour schemes – the first is the original studio paintjob, now in the collection of Bryan Ansell.  It stood out from the rest of the 40K range at the time because the figure was not in a battlefield setting – Marneus is sat on a throne with the Ultramarines motto “Our presence remakes the past”, ceremonial cloak and honour guard behind him.  (Not that that stopped teenage Curis using him in a battlefield setting – there were lots of games with increasingly desperate conceits why the Ultramarines had brought furniture to war.)

rogue-trader-studio-marnues-calgarThanks to Steve Casey for permission to use his photo.

The second source is the Dave Gallagher painting used as a frontispiece in the 1988 Warhammer 40,000 Compendium.  Sadly Dave’s choice of black-and-white floor tiles make it look like Marneus is on the toilet, which is further reinforced by the sheet of toilet paper he’s holding.

dave-gallagher-lord-macragge“Lord Macragge?  More like Lord Macrapping!”

Tantalisingly White Dwarf announced Marneus “…is the first in a planned series of specially sculpted vignette releases for WARHAMMER 40,000…”.  Tantalising as there could have been dozens of these figures to collect and love.  The second and final was Leman Russ.  I reckon there was also a Imperial Commander Nisk Ranthawll being dressed in experimental armour planned.  That’s an idea for a future modelling project.

So, anyway, drawing on both I blocked out the base colours.  I went for quite a tight rendition of the Dave Gallagher piece, with blue chest cabling and Mordian Blue plate.  I started with the bolter and the cloak so I could reward myself at the end with the actual character model.  I added a Mk 6 plastic backpack as, although the studio example doesn’t have one, there is an attachment nub.

Marneus Calgar WIP

Calgar’s base took a little thought.  I made a set of stone flags, using the tops of 25mm square bases (who needs them now we’ve got Age of Sigmar). Then the first thing I tried was painting them cold grey stone.

Marneus Calgar stone base

It didn’t work. The blue armour blends in with the grey base.  Then, I remembered the Forge World Roboute Guilliman and his polished marble base.  It screamed quasi-classical.  How very Ultramarine.  I got the marble recipe from a helpful peep at the Forge World store.

Marneus Calgar's marble base

I hammed up the veins more than I would if I were painting the modern Roboute – it felt more in keeping with the pudginess of the 1980s sculpt.  Everything about the older models is a bit more cartoony than their 21st century descendents.


Additionally, he made it into the 30th Anniversary of Space Marines issue of White Dwarf! Sadly I wasn’t credited with the paintjob, but I’m happy with readers assuming it’s a ‘Eavy Metal paintjob like the other two Marneuses/Marneuī on the page.

Marneus in White Dwarf

Now, let’s see if I can give Leman Russ the same treatment this Christmas.

Clyro Burns, Renegade Bright Wizard

One of the things to get your head round for Frostgrave is that you’re not really playing with a warband, like you would in Mordheim.  It’s about your wizard.  And I agonised over different wizard models for a good long while before settling on the Citadel ME-56 Saruman, for reasons of:

–  I want the warband to be built out of 1980s Citadel Miniatures
–  I’ve got a couple of spare Sarumans (“Sarumen?”)
–  Importing the Lord of the Rings figures into Warhammer proper is pleasing.

"Tell me, friend, when did Saruman the Wise abandon reason for Tipp-Ex®?"
“Tell me, friend, when did Saruman the Wise abandon reason for Tipp-Ex®?”

I really do like the 1980s Middle-Earth figures popping up in mainstream Warhammer.  After Games Workshop lost the the Tolkein licence in 1987 a lot of the not-character figures were rolled into the main Warhammer range, like the Noldor Elves into the High Elf range.  Occasionally the named character miniatures pop up in artwork or studio photographs, like ME-1 Gandalf here in the colour section of the Ravening Hordes supplement.

Oldskool Citadel Gandalf

Gandalf™ is a wise and powerful wizard.
Gandalf™ est un sorcier sage et puissant.
Gandalf™ ist ein weiser und mächtiger Zauberer.

To unSarumanise the figure the Palantir hand was replaced with a suitably chunky hand from a Citadel Night Horror.  Saruman’s left hand was flipped over and had a flame effect added from a (gasp!) modern Tzeentch kit.  This anachronism still makes me feel uneasy.

Despite leading a Chaos warband, I made no attempt to make him chaotic.  The red scheme and the age of the figure ties him in enough.


A burning sensation in your palm – classic symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome.

He initially had grey hair, but it looked bad. Too much like Saruman still.  To remedy this I sculpted over his bald patch, and repainted his hair fiery orange.  One of the nice things about figures so old is my own limited sculpted talent doesn’t look as out of place as it would on a laser-crisp modern miniature.

I finished the figure with bone-coloured flames on his robes.  I was hesitant initially as he had flames popping out of his hand – I thought both 2D and 3D flames together would be confusing.  But keeping them a flat colour rather than the blended highlights of the Tzeentch-fire, and putting them in bone rather than a orange colour, keeps it obvious what’s meant to be real and what’s meant to be pattern.

Clyro Burns and Familiar

Clyro Burns, looking a little like Donald Sutherland in Kelly’s Heroes.

There he is, Clyro Burns, alongside his 1980s Chaos warband.

I call them “Burns’ Knights”.


HeroQuest Quest – Chaos Warrior II

A quickfire hobby challenge for the Scale Creep Peeps:

  • Paint a charmingly basic model from HeroQuest
  • nO cRaZy CoNvErSiOnS
  • Replacing the sausagey rectangle base is encouraged.

I picked a Chaos Warrior. To the 7-year-old boy learning words from game components, but not pronunciations: a “Chouse” Warrior.

Curis enjoying HeroQuest

“Hoots mon!  There’s a chouse louse about this house!”

Theottovonbismark has already shown off Slambo and the 4E plastic Chouse … ahem … Chaos Warrior.  Here’s the HeroQuest dude alongside Battlemasters and Legend of Zagor Chaos dudes, for no reason other than to showcase the breadth of my vintage Chaos.

Gorefist the Destroyer and the Champions of Chouse

Prejudiced against gorefs, means he’s a gorefist.

Otto’s updating of this old plastic has freehand and a jazzy base.  My version is painted so tamely in comparison. I’ve gone for the red-and-metal scheme which you might think is a homage to the original HeroQuest art, but is really so he ties into my 1980s Chaos Warband. Being a 1989er *I think* he is actually the newest miniature.   Everything is relative.

1980s Chaos Warriors“Oi, HeroQuest, you’re so young I bet you don’t remember POGs!”

After modern-style crisp highlighting you start to realise the limitations of the miniature – a combination of 1989 plastic technology and 27 years of man-handling (“manchild-handling”?).  So to hide the dalrymples I painted some textures: sponge-chipping the armour; fluting on the horns; notching the axe blade; and blood-spatter over the finished piece.  I’ve recently become aware that competition painters like different textures on a miniature to provide interest and contrast, and to showcase their skills.

Chouse Warriors texturesJudging by the spatter he dealt a nasty axe wound.

The texture I’m fondest of at the moment is the blood-spats.  After a lot of trial and error with a Blood Bowl team recently I’ve hit upon the following method: load up a tiny brush with your blood-effect paint of choice, put it right in front of your lips, and blow.  You instantly get realistic spines, satellite spatters, cast-off patterns and other terms I’m just regurgitating from a CSI episode.

 Champion of Chaos, Herald the ApocaLIPS (•_•) ( •_•)>⌐■-■ (⌐■_■)

Guess this means he’s the Herald of the ApocaLIPS.
(•_•) ( •_•)>⌐■-■ (⌐■_■)

That’s all for now! Check out the other miniatures in the HeroQuest Hero Quest.

Ralph Horsley’s Dungeon Saga Artwork

We were lucky enough to snag Ralph Horsley himself to do the cover art for Dungeon Saga. We’ve worked with his paintings before, though indirectly – he painted some cards for Mars Attacks: Invasion.

Ralph’s challenge was to get over the essence of the game at a glance. The piece had to be be set in a claustrophobic environment, but have a big scope. It had to be underground but vibrantly lit. It had to show enough undead to be a threat, but not as many as you’d think you’re looking at Kings of War. And Ralph, being the sterling Yorkshire lad he is, delivered all of this.

Ralph’s pencil work on the composition
The finished painting

Wraparound Art

The Dungeon Saga packaging takes the form of an over-sized leather book in a slipcase. Shopkeepers will display it in one of two ways – front or side on. Both sides have got to impress on the shelf. But rather than slim down the cover art and repeat it on the spine we’ve created a piece of wraparound artwork. On the front cover our valiant heroes hack their way through a legion of undead, while on the side Mortibris commands them with his necromantic powers.

Dungeon Saga Layout
Necromancer on the spine … book spine, skeleton spine … some sort of joke there.

God help me if any shopkeeper displays it backwards or face down.

It’s a similar idea to the Ed Repka Martian we had peeking round the spine on our Mars Attacks packaging. But with a specially commissioned piece.

Ed Repka Martian


Bad Guy Hierarchy

There are eight named characters in the basic Dungeon Saga boxed game. One more and you’d have a fellowship. We asked Ralph to focus on the four heroes, with Mortibris opposing them. The three minor villains (Hoggar, Grund and Elshara) were supplied as reference material, but we didn’t expect they’d work as part of the composition. However, Ralph got them all into the composition without pulling focus away from the major characters. Hoggar doesn’t lurch out of the picture at first glance, but lurks alongside the more vanilla undead.

"Hoggar Hoggarar Hoggar, Hoggar?"
“Hoggar Hoggar Hoggar, Hoggar?”



It’s a Oil Painting

This is the first piece of cover art we’ve published that’s traditional painterly painting. It’s a joy watching Ralph build up the physical layers of paint.


Little Touches

There’s a lot of nice touches in the piece: a skeleton archer takes aim in the distance; undead reinforcements pour down the dungeon stairs;; Madriga’s arrow smashing through the back of a skeleton’s brainpan. It’s a lot of fun to keep looking at.

Dungeon Saga artwork details
The way I’ve cropped Mortibris’ arm there makes it look like some sort of glowing cress-daemon.  Look at it!  Look at the sleeve face!

We’re so impressed with this quality of this piece, we’ve got Ralph working on another. Watch this space…

Late Imperial Romans – Initium

I’m researching and constructing a 28mm Late Imperial Roman army. It’s mainly for the thrill of watching a painted collection amass in the display cabinets, though also to serve as an anchor for researching and understanding the period.

The army will be constructed with the classic Foundry range as the basis. These miniatures are Perry classics. Here’s one of the best packs from the range.

Wargames Foundry Late Imperial Roman

I want to use the Foundry’s house style of painting for my army, but not necessarily the garish colour schemes shown above. That commander second in from the left! Red and blue and purple clothes? All at once?! Blerk! No thanks, sensible muted colours please. This is a historical army after all. I’ve dug up Late Imperial Roman forts, every archaeological find is brown,

So I dipped into my reference library to find out what shades of brown would have been in vogue circa 400AD, and this colour plate jumps out. Blerk, it’s that guy from the Foundry range, resplendent in red tunic with and orbiculi!

Wargames Foundry Late Imperial Roman

This is Graham Sumner’s reconstruction of a soldier as depicted in a Syracusian catacomb painting. The colours are taking from the original painting, so they’re authentic. I thought it really surprising. And cool, as the miniature has transformed from generic Roman into a real-life soldier with a name and dress sense.

Wargames Foundry Late Imperial Roman

This is Maximianus (hurr hurr, “-anus”), and he’s my first test model.