Honour the Chapter , a comprehensive supplement for Deathwatch , will be on store shelves in just a few days. Today, we’re pleased to present a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse of Honour the Chapter by FFG Associate Art Producer Mike Linnemann. Mike agreed to take us through the process of how FFG works with artists to create the perfect art piece for a book like Honour the Chapter . Thanks, Mike!

As Honour the Chapter is mere days away, it’s high time that we gave you a little insight into some art. This type of preview, called a “Sketch to Final,” focuses on a piece of new commissioned artwork and talks about how that piece of art travels from inspirational idea to finalized product. Today, we’ll look at a chapter plate from the upcoming Honour the Chapter supplement.

Initial Planning

Before every RPG book is created, an art director meets with a producer and discusses the art descriptions. Honour the Chapter was produced by Tim Flanders, a Space Wolves loving man who took an incredible amount of time thinking about each image that would be carefully placed within the pages of Honour the Chapter. After going through every image to be created, I went back to the chapter plates and read his art description:

A Space Marine Captain of the Blood Raven’s Chapter leading a squad of Blood Ravens in a charge out of a drop pod. The Captain is wielding a lightning claw and a plasma pistol, the other Blood Ravens are tactical marines with bolters.

I then asked him what motivated him on this particular artwork, to which he replied, “What is something that only Space Marines get to do? The answer is a drop pod assault. What has more impact than several tons of ceramite and plasteel fired from orbit, carrying a squad of Adeptus Astartes warriors into the thick of battle?”

I looked at the list of artists that I could call upon and found that the trusty and talented Matt Bradbury, a British fellow that enjoys working on Space Marines, was available.

The First Sketches

Here is what Matt turned in for his first sketch:

I knew ahead of time that Matt loves to send in semi-final works as sketches. We loved the imposing grandeur of the stance and the slight twinge of arrogance in the Blood Raven’s swagger. What we did not see, and desperately needed, was the scene of Space Marines arriving. They never travel alone, and the team aspect of the Space Marines was not quite exhibited.

I asked for two more fast sketches. Here is the first sketch I received back:

The first image of a Space Marine charging out of a drop pod is mighty cool. It brings movement and action directly into the piece. It even forces your eye to want to turn the page. If you’re a Scott McCloud fan, you’ll notice the concept from Reinventing Comics (his book) of pushing the viewer toward the right, building a “tease” for the next page, whether it involves the story or not. I like the image; it’s interesting, but it opens itself for interpretation. I’m always up for a good homage, but this takes the “marine” coming directly into battle perhaps a bit too close to literal:

Those are United States soldiers storming Normandy, June 6, 1944. I love the conceptual idea of tying
brave troops fighting for freedom and Space Marines in the far future
beating back Xenos threats, but there is a better way to depict the scene.

The Second Sketch

The second new sketch really showed us a strongly branded image that we wanted. Were any Xenos armies to see that image, they should be rethinking what they’re doing...if they’re able to think, of course. Both new sketches gave us a great insight into what drop pods look like and the impending battle that is immediate, but this one gave the awe inspiring power and the inevitability of fired up Space Marines landing.

This is a Space Marine invasion; bolter char is going to be the only thing remaining on this world.

Here is Matt’s final:

Notice how solid the foreground Space Marine is standing. Notice that there are five Space Marines shown. (They move in groups of five or two groups of five to make ten.) As Space Marines are organized not unlike the military, showing them as they would look in battle was key for us in this image. You’ll also notice that this type of superhero image used quite often in comic books, movie posters, and high school basketball line ups. Why, you ask? Power. It exudes it, and Space Marines relish in it. It brings the truism of “Might is Right” into a depiction that brings forth the physicality and the order that the Codex Astartes demands. We wanted impending doom and wide-eyed emotion. We got it. We wanted to keep viewers looking at this page, no teaser or preview to flip to the next. We got it. We needed to balance the sheer emotive quality with areas of detail to move the eye. We got it.

Did we get what we wanted? Yes, and then some. You really need to see this up close.

Thanks, Mike! Look for this great art, and much more, when Honour the Chapter invades store shelves in just a few days!

Deathwatch is a roleplaying game in which players take on the roles of the bio-engineered super-soldiers known as Space Marines. United with their battle-brothers, players will complete extraordinary missions involving some of the greatest heroes and deadliest opponents the Warhammer 40,000 universe has to offer.

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