Fulgrim, Primarch of the Emperor's ChildrenMMVII Primarch Project, completed July 2007
This figure was my contribution to the MMVII Primarch Project. It was certainly the most ambitious piece I'd attempted to that point, and it still stands out as one of my favorite projects. I intend to write up a bit more on the project as a whole, but the core concept is that each participant selects and converts, sculpts or otherwise fabricates one of the Primarchs of the Warhammer 40K universe.
I'd long thought that iconic 40K background elements like the Emperor and Primarchs were better imagined than actually drawn, but I was proven thoroughly wrong by the Horus Heresy art books. They were originally published as four volumes of a series, but as I write this the collected version (a whopping 394 pages) is still available from the Black Library, Amazon, and the like. These wonderful tomes include two illustrated versions of Fulgrim that inspired my miniature work, one by John Blanche and one by Sam Wood. I think you'll be able to recognize elements from both in my figure. In particular, the pose and composition of my Fulgrim are almost directly lifted from Blanche's art - a small homage to the artist whose work has so defined the feel of the GW worlds over the years.
One of the main challenges all the participants faced was the "fact" that the Primarchs were all significantly larger than a standard Astartes, who are in turn significantly larger than a standard human. This meant that simple conversions using existing parts wouldn't be likely to work well, at least not if one wanted a suitably heroic end result. The rough-draft armature I built for Fulgrim put his eyes at ~42mm, which places the top of a standard GW marine's helmet around the middle of his chest. I tried to use a number of existing parts, but most just didn't seem to fit because of that scale. As you might be able to see from the photos of the unpainted model, the only GW parts that did seem to work - and thus were used - were the face (plastic Space Wolf head), the hands (Mordheim human archer), and the wing on his shoulder pad (Sister of Battle vehicular laudhailer). I am perhaps immodestly proud to say everything else on the model is sculpted from scratch using various kinds of two-part epoxy putty, but I owe a great deal of that result to advice and encouragement from the other members of our Primarch Project, especially fellow hobbyists Dave Pauwels, Ben Hardy, and Joe Orteza—my first sculpting instructor and boundless fount of enthusiasm.
I had significantly more trouble with the painting than I had expected, though perhaps I should have expected it given how few miniatures I paint in a year. For some reason the gold tones just did not want to gel with the purple and gray that dominate the rest of the miniature and base. Looking at a color wheel now, I probably should have expected that too, but at the time it was just short of infuriating. After Dave, Ben, and Joe talked me down a few times, I ended up stumbling upon something Jeremie Bonamont explained to me in his three-day-painting-class extravaganza (unfortunately scheduled a few weeks after this model was complete): adding a single color to all parts of a miniature to unify the palette. I mixed, washed, or glazed GW Liche Purple into every part of this model. Head to toe, every bit of Fulgrim has some amount of Liche Purple. I might not have needed to carry it to that extreme, but this served to unify the more disparate colors and increase the overall harmony of the miniature significantly. I'm not entirely satisfied with the "final" paint on this miniature, but this method of increasing color harmony has served me well many times since, and I'd recommend it to anyone in a similar conundrum.
In an example of potentially worrisome timing, Graham McNeill's Fulgrim novel was released just a few months before our project was due to be unveiled at Chicago Games Day. I was more than a little concerned that something in the novel would contradict something I'd done on the model. I suppose I needn't have troubled myself given that my piece was based on two examples of art in a Black Library book, but I did anxiously devour that novel looking for inconsistencies. It turned out to be a non-issue; it may even have been a benefit when the judges were making their final decisions. I've always said painting contest success involves a dollop of luck…