First Claw – Composition Sketches
A while ago, I started talking to an artist about getting a piece of work done for First Claw, showing them in all their treacherous, grimy glory. There were three reasons for this, and the most obvious was because I get asked a helluva lot just how to model First Claw for people to use them in their Chaos armies. I’d just point out that being asked such a thing is literally one of the most flattering things ever, and it felt churlish to barely be able to respond at all, beyond “However you like, dude. Their armour marks and distinguishing features are covered in the novels, but feel free to go nuts.”
I’ve seen a fair bit of First Claw art already (and a lot of First Claw miniatures), but I still get asked how they look, so it’s obviously something that people want to know in painstaking detail. Good writing (and I flatter myself by saying that, but I mostly mean it in general, as a rule of prose) gives you rich impressions, key hints, vital details and distinguishing characteristics, but it doesn’t hold your hand through 15 pages of description about one guy’s armour. An image is worth a thousand words on that score. It’s a significant and important distinction between the two mediums. Good art shows you inside someone’s imagination. Good writing gives you enough of a framework to instantly imagine something yourself.
That could be a post in itself, so I’ll save it for later.
The other two reasons I wanted this done were infinitely more selfish, which is much more in-character for a hatred-fueled hermit like me. Firstly, it’s cool. Secondly, it’s awesome inspiration for when you’re writing.
I chose to beg Shane Cook for this project because I’d seen several of his primarchs posted on Heresy-Online, and some of his other work on Bolter & Chainsword. I found him too late for it to directly inspire my descriptions of Corax, Curze or Lorgar (all of which are my fave pieces he’s done), but they looked so much like the images in my head that I felt something click. His grittiness was exactly right for Chaos Astartes, and so the begging began.
He’s working on First Claw, but out of nowhere – out of the random firings of an artist’s synapses – came a test sketch of Talos, unhelmed. That’s the bad boy you can see above. When people ask me if their representation of Character X is close to my imagination, the answer is invariably “Naw.” And that’s the point. I don’t really want to always see a word-perfect thing given life from my head, I think it’s often more interesting for writers to see how other people perceive those characters in their own heads. It’s a more honest and fascinating deal when you see another person’s perception of your work.
But that said, this Talos comes very close. He differs in a lot of ways (in my head, f’rex, Talos is quite handsome, but in the pale, remote, cold way Michaelangelo’s David is handsome), but the coldness, the feel of him, made me feel like I was looking at someone very familiar. I loved it immediately, especially since it was such a surprise. I think Shane did it for kicks.
Anyway, to the heart of the matter. Here’s the early composition sketch for First Claw. It’s set after Blood Reaver and ‘The Core’ in Fear the Alien, so don’t sweat it if you’ve only read Soul Hunter and struggle to recognise them. They go through a lot in Blood Reaver. Oh, boy, do they ever.
Obviously, this is the roughest of rough sketches, purely as a compositional piece and to nail the core armour details, but I think it’s obvious the final piece will be absolutely killer. Talos will be changing a bit (Shane’s already working on new poses to match the others) and his armour is a little bulkier and less sleek than the rest in this, but it’s not hard to see that this is going to be something special.
Apologies if it screws up your screens. Click to see more detail.
You can find Shane’s stuff at http://slaine69.deviantart.com/.
I highly recommend his Curze, by the way: http://slaine69.deviantart.com/gallery/?offset=24#/d2hcb0i. That should give you a hint of how the final piece here will look.