I think it is time for a new Iron Sleet category, Musings. It’s a type of post central to this blog and our previous ones, where the author at times randomly dives deeper into thinking and doing processes behind the art. (You can Easily pull out category list by clicking the line icon in the top left corner and scrolling down. This way you can see all the Vlka Fenryka posts at once for example)
Something struck me when reading my fellow sleeteer Toni’s comment on the Illuminati Aquila post. The four of us chat a lot behind the scenes and it really helps all of us grow as hobbyists, but also the creative professionals we are for a living.
“Overall the interrogator works better atm, of which part is due to the henchman effect, but part is because he has more contrasting materials.”
I wanted to discuss both how wrong Toni is in saying one model works better than the other when it’s a group and also the henchmen effect he refers to.
Hierarchy, contrast and not all men were created equal
Contrast as a noun can be defined as “the state of being strikingly different from something else, typically something in juxtaposition or close association.” For building a group of individuals, contrast is the primary narrative and visual tool to create impact. The inquisitor is all golden, singular, iconic, for the very reason to make the interrogator (and all the rest of the upcoming motley crew) look more normal, darker, and henchmaney.
The Henchman doesn’t “work better”, they are doing a different job. Imagine the inquisitor having been painted with the exact same level and distribution of contrasting materials. Then neither would work. Building these retinues is about building a hierarchy and contrast from something normal, something human, something fragile, something we can possibly physically associate with, or even pity all the way to something superhuman, something powerful, something we can aspire to or imagine. Now imagine if I said the Inquisitor works better because he is more powerful. How interesting would a group of equally and similarly powerful individuals be?
The Humble Human Henchman (or HHH)
Something I recently coined to describe what has been a critical ingredient in not only each of the retinues I have built, but also the Vlka Fenryka army project! HHH is a character to set that human baseline. An anchor from which the horrors, god warriors, psykers and masters of arcane lore spring to their glory or infamy.
Shades offe Greye, it was the ultimate, tortured human, Devlan Munt who was the first HHH. (apologies for the grainy image, it’s been years from his birth)
“As the day before, and those before it, a deep, mustard hued mist hung around the endless rusty hacks of the east end. A huge bulky twist galloped towards the epicenter of this excuse of a Hive Sector. After him came two others, inhumanely thin, twisted even for twists sort of twists. And a Twist with a long pointy hat and no left arm. Then a group of four, or rather three carrying something that looked like a fourth.
Fething feth – where are they all going? He knew of course, but why? Gevlan cursed his deformed back that ached after the long stalk, and then slipped into the night, moving with stealth and swiftness totally unexpected of his appearance.” (Full story)
For Red Storme riseth, the devil speaking caretaker Tobias wore the Mantle of the HHH. Pictured here on the left alongside the rogue Inquisitor Silas.This retinue had three HHHs, surrounded by the freaks. (Red Storme Riseth full gallery)
And not surprisingly, the the HHH is the most important model to design for the final installment of the trilogy.
It’s not about basing, it’s about living in the grim darkness of the far future
Toni makes a great observation in his comment too, referring to the art work that inspired my retinue in the making.
In the rulebook cover the vertical mid-section on both sides has this ominously coloured black smoke. I have a strong feeling that the addition of this colour somewhere, the tiniest drop of purple and blue, would serve to highlight the emperors light and make the models absolutely blast to life.
Take a closer look at the basing of the Illuminati Aquila retinue. I would say my execution is completely identical to what Toni said, even if it was so obvious it was hiding in plain sight. Black base, storm grey smoke airbrushed in, and yes, plenty of blue washes in there! And obviously not an accident.
Musings part 1
Hopefully this has been insightful. We are really curious to get your feedback if this sort of article is of value to you and we should do more.