Church of the Red Atheneum – Ready for paint!

Adam Wier is here to share some incredible work again. 

I absolutely love the shrine skull finish on Roland – a controversial choice in our group of players and the Owl, wow!

Overall, this is one of the all time best groups of models created on a conversion level. So absolutely elegant, refined, detailed without being too busy, novel and fresh and unique, yet fitting.
I’m absolutely impressed. Over to Adam:


As March is just beginning, I thought it would be a good time to update everyone on the progress of the Church of the Red Athenæum, primarily showing you new pictures of models already featured on Iron Sleet in a less complete form.
The first two Sisters of their military arm, the Order of the Crimson Hour, are complete and ready to be painted.  They were the first models I based, and I decided to make it look like they were standing on a stone tiled monastery, using pieces of plasticard.

I also did a substantial amount of work on Roland and his vox-owl companion (Bronwen).  Most of the work done on Roland was adding additional sensors and cables, to make his lack of a head more convincing.  I also started to create a little shrine to hold his skull above his head, to see if it was something worth pursuing.  At the moment I am leaning towards not using it, but would love to hear what people think.  His owl has come a very long way from when he was first shown here.  I decided I wanted him to be based separately, and used it as an opportunity to explore some of the imagery Thistle has been using one some of his recent art (notice the skull tree!).
This past weekend I finally I created the first normal member of the Church. This member is fully committed to feeling the pain of the Emperor, having removed his right hand and eyes.
Life is suffering.
Adam Wier

The ChurchRoland shrineOwl anglesRoland anglesSamael angles 1Church member


45 thoughts on “Church of the Red Atheneum – Ready for paint!

  1. Personally, although I really liked the idea of the skull shrine in theory, I think the model has developed towards a point where it doesn’t need it. In fact I’d go so far as to say that the skull overeggs it slightly and reduces the impact of the headless figure.

    On the others, great work once again. The little skull-tree is a perfect touch. Oh and I really like the figure with the parchment/oath-scroll tongue. I’ve been thinking of doing something similar but couldn’t get my head around it (no pun intended!) Of course, now I see what you’ve done it seems obvious!


    1. Thanks! I tend to agree that the skull concept is neat, it is not needed in this case. Roland by himself is pretty striking.

      After seeing Thistle’s artwork, the skull tree seemed like something that had to be attempted in model form (even if at a smaller scale), and the owls base was an obvious place to put it, since the owl is so small by nature. The parchment tongue thing was one of those little details that shows up in some 40k artwork, but was never really extended to GW’s models, and we decided that members of the Church would be crazy enough to partake in such a practice.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bronwenne = white-breast (welsh).

    The signe is beautifulle… a strange, twisted, mouldering shape, supported by another beam of wood, mixing livinge woode and metalle… another sign of the fusion of flesh and machine which is everywhere on terra in imitationne, I think unconscious, of the machine-godde. Quite possibly as the wooden pole decays more and more metal replaces it, just as more and more machinery replaces the slowly rotting mortal shell of the emperor… The bells hanging from it toll in the currents of aire in terra, guiding the blinde and wretched pilgrymme and ever reminding him of the sacred ground on which he treads… but the pilgrymme-road is broken and dangerous, the flagges uneven and crumbling into rubble…

    The skulle-tree is beautiful, woode and metalle and fleshe and bone fused together. As I have said and others before me, the bio-mechanical Golden Throne seems to ramify and growe and permeate through all Terra … the shapes are twisted and ill-formed, suggesting the tortured ten-thousand year agonie of the emperor and this darke millenniumme where all are twisted, stooped, hunched… it is also a memento mori on this worlde dedicated to deathe, a reminder that manie a pilgrymme dies on the roades…

    I imagine the prayers tacked to the post as scrawled or more likely bought, long standardised forms promised to bringe indulgence, pardonne and expiationne (whether genuine or not…) for the illiterate masse of pilgrymmes, by starving, wounded, exhausted pilgrymmes who falle out of the line in agonie to great to be borne, huddled in filthy robes, leaning tortured stinking bodies against eache other and the woode, blearie eyes flickering and closing in sleepe … they rise no more, decaying by the pilgrymme roads… perhaps their prayers will be hearde by the emperor, under the belles like chapelle-belles. Placing bronwenne where she is reminds me of the bird in the Botanicariumme and also of vultures… I doubt not that the fallen pilgrymmes, if not torn to pieces by the human vultures, are soon devoured by aquila-eagles, vox-owls, carrion birds and other verminne…

    The devout manne of the Church of the Red Athenaeum is a beautiful model… I imagine his skin as pale, emaciated (his verie bones are visible) and covered with sweat, reeking with it, from the pain of his woundes… the spike driven through his cheekes so that a prayer hangs through his mouth will bleed profusely, slaver and blood and sweate running down his face… his bare legs visible through the robe, I imagine bound about with a cilice, I imagine the knife he bears often cuttess the deare wordes ‘vivere est pati’ into his fleshe… I imagine the woundes are continuously interfered with as well, bloode running from empty sockets…

    The addition to the Chronicler, the quille, works excellently… a deske littered with filthe, scraps of foode, broken nibs…. a skulle inscribed with prayer, still greasie, and put into the ossuarie… handes wiped on his robes

    The Sisters of the Order of the Crimsonne Houre are excellent, as too is Rolande, whose extra detailles suggest the arcane technologie that keeps him alive… I thinke the skulle-shrine is an excellent addition, strange, morbid and archaic… a visible illustrationne as he preaches of the culte of paine…


    1. All very well put, mimicking much of our thought process while conceptualizing and creating these models. I am glad you see as much life (or perhaps decay, ha ha) in the skull tree and sign post. They were our attempt at capturing a small part of the oddity that is Terra.

      The devoted Church member is certain to have pale bloodless skin, likely with blood still weeping from freshly gouged eyes. His carving knife still dripping.

      Thanks for all the careful interpretations and discussions!


  3. The Sisters remain great, solid conversions, and the newest work on Roland himself is spot on. The Skull Shrine looks really cool, but as when you were considering mounting the Owl on Roland’s shoulder, I wonder if it’s gilding the lily of an already accomplished model in Roland – at this point in his evolution, he works so well, I’m not sure if you need his Skull at all except in something like a diorama setting.

    The newest penitent, and the Owl are both incredible figures. I think skull trees will be the next meta in basing accessories.


    1. Thanks for the suggestions. I think you are right about the skull gilding the lily. He is already a bizarre model, interesting on his own right.

      I hope to see more skull trees in the future! They certainly fit the dark, unfathomable universe that is 40k.


      1. I wonder…since Roland was supposed to have had some pretty traumatic damage to his head, what if all that was left was something like the fractured faceplate of the skull, which he could simply wear on his shoulder pad?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That is a very intriguing idea, just using a fragment of his skull. Our initial idea was just that he had his skull expertly pieced back together. But just having him display a portion of it would allow the skull concept to be used, without it being overpowering. His lower jaw could also be displayed somewhere too. We will have to seriously consider this…


  4. I absolutely love the morbid diversity in the group and I totally agree with the foreword.

    Roland now only lacks some sort of scripture or etchings on the skull. It’s s bit too clean when you think of what it’s been through.

    The owl – wow! Now a character in itself.

    Scribe I’ve already commented on your blog but making such a tribute to Mr England in a project like this is just so right on all levels.

    The martial arm are classic Wier. Practical, functional and showcase that less is more.

    Now the last member, he struck a chord with me but as you know I’m fascinated with this side and explore it constantly in my own miniatures.

    Now I’m impatiently waiting for paint on these 🙂


    1. Thank you for the continued support! In a relatively short period of time, the Church has expanded quite a bit and explored a lot of different themes and imagery. We still have a lot of additional ideas that we hope to translate into models, most of them leaning more towards the extravagant, more in line with the last Church member. While the Order stays more regimented and clean, the normal members are more free to practice their faith how they desire, some in more extreme ways than others, ha ha.

      If we do end up using the skull on Roland, we will have to do something to make it look like it has undergone the trauma it has, making it look fractured. We will see.

      Paint should be coming shortly…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Scribe is glorious and Roland has to have the skull – pant job will put into place if chosen …..


    1. Thanks for the kind words! I think we are going to continue working on the shrine, to get it to a more complete state before making the final decision. We might even make it such that it slots onto the model, allowing it to be taken on and off, making the decision moot.


  6. Hear, hear! I thought I’d put my suggestion into longer forme… the great argument for the skull-shryne in my opinion is that tho’ models dictate character, the skull fits the character so well I thinke it would be a real pity not to have it.

    It is an illustration of his sermonnes, the skulle representing the Emperor-in-Living-Deathe on the Golden Throne , but this is a symbol of the orthodox ministorumme. I should go further and say that the skulle with an open jaw, the screaming skulle, is meant. It represents the Emperor howlinge in paine in the first Red Houre… It makes his role as preacher more clear… both something for his listeners to focus on and an illustration of the devotionne which is his secte…

    It also ties Roland into the cult practice of carrying the mutilated part… if an arm, why not a skulle? It is macabre and extravagant, but a secte whose adherents are mutilated, often such that they cannot toil in the terran slave-gangs, openlie display their mutilations and stream with bloode is highly unlikely to be practical… indeed nothing in 40K is practical, all is ritualle, all is symbolic…


    1. Thanks for the additional insight on your thoughts of the skull. I agree that it fits really well with his role as a preacher and member of the Church. As you say, few things are practical in 40k!


      1. Not at alle — I do remain avidly in favour of it and hope I cause no offence thereby! Looking forward immensely to seeing the Churche painted and more devotees… a series illustrating the traditionalle (and of course purely apocryphal) main wounds of the Emperor in the Church’s scriptures would be fascinating…


      2. Yeah, we want the normal Church members to be a foil to the regimented Order of the Crimson Hour. While the Order is very particular about the wounds they inflict, wanting to maintain fighting efficiency, the normal members are free to be more extravagant in their Faith. As such we hope to make some additional “normal” members that display some of the more interesting wound choices.


  7. My goodness this stuff is original, detailed and full of character!

    The added details to Roland makes him even more believable. I think you really nailed the ‘headless’-concept! As for the shrine I would go without. He is so disturbing and convincing without his head. Maybe it can be carried by one of the specially appointed members of the Church? Come to think of the head of Mimer I made for my Odin character so many years ago…

    The new member is great – love the mouth parchment. Ouch. Life is suffering it seems…


    1. Thanks for the high praise! After hesitating in making Roland for over a year, I am pretty happy we were able to pull off the “headless” theme. Someone to carry around Roland’s skull is an interesting idea, something that we will have to think more about.


  8. They are all brilliant conversions and so cohesive as a group. I love the amount of thought and discipline you bring to these models. The newest model is really great, despite not being a militant (or even having eyes!) I reckon he’s not to be messed around with. The skull tree is gorgeous and fits in so perfectly, not just to this group but terra as a whole. Lastly I stand by what I said earlier, as good as the skull is it detracts from the overall composition of the model. My vote goes for leaving it off!


    1. Thanks for the comment! The goal was to really carefully convert the models such that when they have paint on them, they will not really look converted at all. And that they look pretty reserved, despite the general fanaticism that surrounds them. We want to create an organization that might actually be able to exist (in the horrible future that is 40k). Yeah, I sure would not want to tangle with that sightless Church member. The Emperor guides his wrath!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Loving your work Adam! The skull tree and owl familiar is brilliant – oozing Blanchitsu style! As others have said, I think the skull you currently have is too much though and detracts from the concept of the model.

    I like the idea of a skull floating above a disembodied torso though – somewhat like the Dimir House Guard from MTG ( Based on this I’d probably remove the jawbone to avoid the slightly comical grimace skulls seem to have!

    I think the best course of action might be to build a skull into a reliquary on his back or belt. Something like this (


  10. Adam & Eric. I wouldn’t listen to anybody’s opinions. You guys have just produced an incredible body of work, if you think the skull shrine fits then do it. If not don’t. Everyone is so opinionated about these sort of things, and it’s enjoyable to have the conversation, but you guys have always had your own voice and vision and I would follow it without pause.


    1. Very true, actually — the Wiers will produce a beautiful miniature in either case and must do what they know to be right… heven forfende that I accidentally suggested the worke would be less than of the very highest, perfect merit if my own preferences are ignored! the redde athenaeum is a magnificent idea.

      I interpreted ‘what do you think’ as a license to put forward a case and so have perhaps done no wrong, but apologies if needed.


      1. No apologies needed PG! We love to get your perspective, and the perspective of others. This community is so passionate that I feel it would be foolish to simply ignore their insight. We want to create the best models we can, and often the ideas of people not so directly involved can be just want is needed to finish a model. So thanks again for all the input!


    2. Thanks for the vote of confidence Migs! It is true that everyone has their own opinions and vision of what the 40k universe is and means to them. And also what they want to convey with their models. No matter what sorts of suggestions or criticisms we get, the models will remain our own, and we will not compromise our vision. Having said that, I really like to hear the feedback, because the models we try to create are ones grounded in some semblance of realism. Having other points of view allows us to reconsider things from other perspectives, and strengthen the work as a whole. I think we will continue to work on the skull shrine and make it detachable. As it is a good way for Roland to emphasize the fervent preacher role he is playing, while secretly spying on the organization as a whole for the Ordo’s benefit!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. i entirely agree migs – only chipped in because if it was mi mini i would leave the head and popular opinion says the opposite – ive pretty much made a career out of doing the opposite of established tropes – im not entirely comfortable with blogs becoming a critique board anyway – i think people will ask if they want opinions – me well never really ….

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Damn straight! Excellent models… looking forward to seeing them painted.

        And, since it was asked…. I would say yes to the skull 🙂


    1. Your insight is always appreciated! We like to get the input of others as a way to test our ideas and see if they are sound, but will not let it compromise our overall vision. Other opinions allow us to reevaluate our initial thoughts and ensure the models that result are the best they can be. I have never worked in such a supportive an creative community as this one, so I feel it would be a mistake to completely ignore its input. So thanks again for all the thoughts and suggestions!


  12. I love these models, the conversions are just seamless. I actually really like the skull shrine, for me it represents that no how matter how much a man modifies his body there is still that desire to keep a human shape.


    1. Thanks, I am glad they look seamless, that was our hope! I really like your notion that despite everything, humankind still desires the human shape. I think this is true, and is an interesting comment on the human condition. It is also a good reason to keep the skull other than that it looks “cool.”


    1. Thanks! The thought of Zevon, in some otherworldy way, looking at Roland and smiling makes me pretty happy 😀

      The pole is primarily made from pieces from the frame of the Vampire Counts Corpse Cart. There is a wooden brace on the back of it to hold up a bell; that was repurposed for Bronwen’s perch.


      1. Thanks! Browen is a brilliant use of bits. This is why I love the 40k-lore and it’s community. The magic of bits!


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