Samael Urkston, Lord of Bones: A Tribute to Wayne England

Over to honorary Pilgrims Brothers Wier, Between the Bolter and Me
Samael Urkston, Chronicler of the Church of the Red Athenæum, Lord of Bones: A Tribute to Wayne England

Wayne England’s passing last week was a pretty big blow to my brothers and I, one that caused us to look through a lot of his seminal 40k pieces. This lead us back to one illustration in particular, an image that has since burned itself into the very fabric of Warhammer 40k the moment we first saw it (one that will forever encapsulate the grim-dark ethos of the universe). And that illustration is the sneering scribe inking skulls in the 3rd edition 40k rulebook. The beak-like nose, frazzled hair, and stretched skin combine to create a wonderfully macabre character. Seeing this artwork again inspired me to create a model for the Church of the Red Athenæum in his likeness. We have been mulling over creating a Chronicler for the Church, someone who keeps track of the bodily sacrifices and the death toll of its members (and might have started to sell body parts on the side), and when looking of Wayne’s work, we knew this character needed to be modeled after Wayne England’s iconic skull inker. After searching through our collection of models, we found one of Brian Nelson’s old priest models, and knew it would be perfect for the conversion.

Although Samael Urkston, the Chronicler, and Lord of Bones is not entirely done, we wanted to show everyone the status of the model. Any comments or suggestions are welcome. We really want the miniature to celebrate Wayne England’s legacy, and to be a worthy tribute to his memory.

– Adam Wier

Samael Urkston 2
Samael Urkston 1
Skull inker

32 thoughts on “Samael Urkston, Lord of Bones: A Tribute to Wayne England

  1. Great base model choice. A very simple bu effective conversion. The only thing I would add is perhaps a feather/quill to the scribing hand like in the picture.


    1. Thanks! When we found the old Nelson sculpt, we knew it was perfect. Yeah, we have been thinking about good ways to add a feather. It would certainly help convey the concept. Any thoughts on where i might find such a feather, or maybe green stuff is the way to go?


  2. Great tribute to a great artist! The choice of model works really well as an eulogy as the mini and the drawing are from the same era.

    I also miss the quill and a smattering of cables powering the inking device. Suitable feathers can be found on dark eldar scourges, pink horrors and forest goblins. Though with your GS skills modelling one should be easy peasy.


    1. Good idea about the addition of some power cables, that would be a very suitable addition. I will look to adding a few to the hand than snake back into his robes. Thanks also for the suggestion of feather sources. I had been thinking of looking towards the Dark Eldar Scourges.

      I love all of Brian Nelson’s models from that 2nd/3rd edition era. They have so much character and personality. They really bring me back to that time in the hobby. 🙂


  3. i shall endeavour to pass this on to Waynes family – theres so much warm memories within the imunda hobbyists and the wider gaming community – brilliant miniature ….


    1. Thank you, that would be quite honor! Creating a model seemed to me the only way I could truly convey what his work meant to me. The model has come together rather quickly; when an idea strikes, it is sometimes hard to stop!


  4. Great model and an excellent tribute, goes to show a conversion doesn’t need to be wildly elaborate to work well.

    Regarding the feather the Empire models have quite a few massive hat feathers which would match the scale of the feather in Wayne England’s picture. Alternatively the kits Jeff Vader suggested above would provide something more restrained; I suspect that using something as big and over the top as that depicted by Wayne might make the model look a little unbalanced. Also, I know it’s almost a cliché but perhaps a few numbered skulls on the base? After all Wayne is part of the reason 40k is covered in skulls to begin with and it would serve as another tie in back to the picture.


    1. I find some of my favorite conversions simply revolve around choosing the right components and integrating them seamlessly. Then even without a lot of work you can often really transform a model into something different entirely. 🙂

      I recently pulled out a bunch of the Empire feathers I have and will have to further consider how they look on the model. Your suggestion about including some skulls on the model’s base is very apt and I will certainly look to doing that. I feel for models like this you can never have too many skulls! 🙂

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  5. Requiem aeternum dona eis domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis, requiescant in pace.

    Another illuminator of the 41st millenniumme whose like we shall not see again. I think the beste tribute I can give him is to use my greatest strength here in the pilgrymme community… write out my thoughts on the picture and the miniature-eulogie.

    Samael is the Jewish angel of death — the association with death is obviously fitting for the macabre nature of his trade… the association with angels makes me think of the phrase ”recording angel”… he is obviously the recorder of the mutilations and sacrifices of the cult. In the odder Jewish esoteric beliefs Samael is also a tempter and seducer of Eve. It is an ironic name to give the corrupt chronicler because he is not tempter but tempted — he has fallen into greed and now peddles the ”sacred” mutilated body parts of his brethren for money…Urkston I have had no luck with.

    His robe is monastic…filthy of course, as all thinges are… rather greasy with cartilaginous fluid from less thorough flensings… fittting a culte which reveres suffering, but the heavy studded collar is a note of luxurie perhaps obtained through less than honest means…. you mention that the more traditional members of the sect are troubled by his acquisition of rather richer robes. The houreglasse of bloode around his neck is the symbol of the Redde Athanaeum — perhaps a golden chain, another note of stolen luxurie…

    Comparing the wayne englande picture, which I will now always see as Samael Urkston, I thinke that the Churche maintains a charnel-house for its deceased members and one of the chronicler’s duties is inscribing and arranging the bones… of course a squalid, sordid, jumbled place… an immense pile of skulls and bones of millennia… a temple to paine, as many of these bones were cut off and the others passed through the paine of death. His bag may contain a few bones needing worked on… some parchment… a bottle of ink… or perhaps a few organnes headed for a buyer — could you have a little blood soaking through onto the surface?

    The face is a very good one for an holie hypocrite — it has the drawn, ascetic look to it, high cheekbones, a bony nose, sunken eyes and prominent bones over the brow, a high forehead… one would say a self-mortifying manne… but everything on terra is a lie… surreptitious swigs of amasec, greedy stuffing of dirty foode at his deske… a squalid corner of the ossuary, broken nibs, ink-splatters, vellum, scraps of foode (bundled under a filthy rag whenever he hears footseps…) mingled with bones and cartilage and bloode… a space cleared with a shove of the hand, relatively clean, for a new mutilation to be noted down… even he does not know howe manie bones there lie in his ossuary, some sunken hall repurposed…

    I agree with the addition of a quill-feather, one of the manie anachronisms in 40K… when the machinery used to cut pen-nibs is decaying and cannot be touched (all machinery is in the handes of the Adepts of Mars…), much less repaired, worshipped and anointed and pleaded with to worke again by wailing tech-adepts and sacrifices…, the rituals half forgotten, the ten packets of metal nibs owned by the culte reduced over the millennia… a simple knyfe and a feather will produce a working penne in all events… of course devising a reason may rob the grimmness, strangeness, oddness of the quille so I will probably set this line of thought aside.

    A few cables are good idea — looking at Mr England’s painting a bellows-tube connects his skull-holding hand to his robes and other cables pierce his robes… I think looking at the head the lines in the grotesquely stretched mouth are too regular to be teethe — I think the face-skin has been stretched over more machinery, more tubes… another example of the seemingly inevitable fusion of flesh and machine on terra where all things are drawne to imitate the carcase-machine-godde.

    As a eulogie, I might add that the skull and hourglasse serve the secondary purpose of reminding us of deathe, that deathe will take us alle. Mr England has used his span extremely well!


    1. Thanks for the insightful examination of the model; as always, it really hit home a lot of the themes we wanted to explore. I do imagine his bag filled with all manner of loose bones, vials of blood, ash, and ink. The hourglass and skulls do serve as a reminder that the death of the body is inevitable. Oh, and Urkston was just a name that sprung into my head unbidden, and it seemed to fit. More about his role as a Chronicler should surface sometime in the near future!


  6. I was Wayne’s boss in them days and with AlanM briefed him on every job – also shared a house with him, Paul Bonner and cat Misty – we would work in the evenings as well as at HQ and all to the backdrop of movies, kebabs, and beer …… He was very very funny and a big guy who became mi unofficial security – there was copious amounts of rock n roll but with a slight injection of pop cheese as Paul would play dancing queen at bedtime – I took Wayne on to illustrate badges or I should have said iconography – at first he wondered why I’d offered him a job painting badgers …

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    1. I can only offer what must seem very stiff condolences. I am sorry if this is an intrusion but I am sure all the other commenters on iron sleet who don’t know you personally must feel obliged to do so. An extremely talented man and it seems a nice bloke, the two are not always united in one man.

      Please forgive me if I intrude.


    2. Wow, that sounds like a wonderful time. An environment that allowed you all to feed on each others’ creative energy. Thanks for the insight! It is difficult to get a sense of the people behind the artwork, past their dedication to the craft.


  7. No intrusion at all – all the artists and the ones I know now are to a man hard working and very pleasant people – in fact most GW staffers are great guys …..


    1. Thanke you. I’m glad they’re a nice bunch — my poor mother was dragged nolens volens to meet some of the ‘existentialist’ ”high art” types who you mention in your interviews about art school when she worked in the museum in edinburgh… the pickled shark and daubing-on-the-wall brigade… if they were made of chocolate they would have eaten themselves.


  8. Some of mi best briefing sessions were that way as Dave Gallagher lives opposite Aran – I would fly up and he would meet me at the airport- breakfast in Edinburgh over bridge, sterling castle for lunch or get ferry to Aran and briefing session along beach – scotia is lovely ……


    1. Thank you. Sorrie for the rante – I have verie stronge views on the merits of modern art… part of the delight of your worke and those like it is the employment of old, strange ideas… saxon keys and mantles, the recurring mona lisa, breughel, dore, vanitas… proper artistic techniques, old skilles, penne and inke… these give a sense of the weight of ten thousand years of falling-away and decaying traditionne, of course, part of the gothick conception of 40k i have… mr england had his quille and ossuarie, pen and ink.

      Yes, Scotia is lovely. So very lucky to live here. I was in the Botanics at Glasgow a week, I think, four days ago… mass in the morning, a lovely walk in the parke, then speculating about future plannes for the strange half-rotting flora of holie terra in the glasshouses for two hours! Finish the day off with an organ recital in Kelvingrove — shut your eyes and imagine a vast ecclesiarchical processione…

      But yes, it must have been lovely to walk along the beach at Arran or anywhere in Scotland… the bridge – mum and i now live way way way north of Inverness and often go along the beach a little from my house to rest my mind a bit. The rail bridge is a sight to see

      Thank you.


    1. Christe of St John of the Cross — powerful is the word…

      More mystical than real, a dreme-scene…

      I was thinking a bit about media (trad. and digital) as I swept the floor at work tonight. penne and painte and inke will not produce good work in themselves, there are yards of dreadful classicist stuff– nymphs and shepherds brandishing cornucopiae, endless dull, stilted grecian manors — in any gallery but i think you need the painterly techniques of traditional illustration as seen in thistle’s work… marcus lindgren (the man who did the rotting carcase of terra) produces excellent digital work because, I think, he paints with a computer, with paints that have only a digital existence… he seems to use techniques similar to those in thistle’s traditional illustration… rather than lifeless video-game rendering in quasi-3d… I know nothing about art so I’m just guessing.

      Please forgive me for wandering from the point — god rest wayne england, on my rosary tonight for what it is worth.


    1. Thanks, he is turning out even better than I anticipated! I am currently working on a few final touches, like adding a feather and cable to his quill hand. I cannot wait to start painting him, but need to seriously consider what the scheme I will use for the Church. Any suggestions? I suppose the obvious choice for his robe is red…


  9. i choose red in paintings a great deal as it is a colour that jumps forward and so bi doing increases depth of field – red is also a martial colour and the colour of blood – i cannot bring miself to use the other primarys on miniatures – they just seem wrong – is black white or red getting tired ? – i favour neutrals, dradb greys bieges and off browns – they can look suitably grim and dirty – kind of suits me – perhaps not regal enough for a religious order tho ? – no doubt i would paint it off white with bright red hair if it was mine ….


    1. As a non-artist, an interesting perspective… very true about mixed colours, they fit an age of squalor and filth, the long robes of the nobilitae draggling in the mud and worse, skin pockmarked and covered in pustules, so often plastered with powder, bodies twisted and necrotic, clothes filthy, wigs lousy, fur greasy, the stench covered by incense and perfume… the poor in filthy rags, huddled, eyes bleary, heavy coarse augmetics clamped to the bone… everything rotting, decaying, covered in rubbish… the glimmers of gold and silver, pale, sickly reliques of past glorie, yet this is an age of faith.

      In my opinion, off-white would actually be good (tho’ a pilgrymage is not a democracy)… if the chronicler is starting to anger more traditional members of the Red Athanaeum by his extravagant dress it implies the common dress of the churche is verie plaine… off white also contrastes with the woundes they all bear… I imagine one’s eyes would be drawn to the crimson stump of a cauterised arm or leg, and perhaps in rites of the church filthy robes are drawn back to reveal the red mutilations… a filthy white cloak turned back to reveal a red stump… Red hair is an excellent idea… but I am sure the wiers have it under control… red white or goodness knows it will work.


  10. Great work! Truly inspiring. Didn’t you think about repositon his left leg to make him stand with flying robe instead blindly rushing?


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