Shortly after the turn of the new year, we reflected back on all we accomplished in 2021. Having finished this, we turned our attention to the more exciting topic of considering what hobbyists and artists inspired us most throughout 2021. Like in past years, there were an astounding amount of hobbyists producing fantastic work, which made it difficult to acknowledge everyone we wanted to. Furthermore, we purposely did not choose hobbyists that we featured in previous years, although many of them are still creating incredible work, so we would encourage people to look back on our selections from previous years!
Nicky Grillet - Nickygrillet
|Necromunda Eolles ganger.|
Nicky Grillet is a singular force within this hobby, one whose talent spreads broadly into many creative spaces related to miniatures. She is incredibly adept at building terrain, which are often rusting dilapidations that span multiple tiers, perfectly encapsulating the dystopian misery of hive cities in Warhammer 40,000. Building upon this, she had the ingenious idea of creating such battlescapes directly inside wooden or metal chests, which when open create evocative vignettes and dioramas. These have been affectionately dubbed “Grillet boxes,” and can be as small as a few inches tall, to the size of a large travel or military chest, as seen in her stunning Mordheim 2019 board (which we had the pleasure of playing on!). She creates suitably grimy and disturbing models, whether they are Necromunda gangers or ambulatory flora of the Sylvaneth. Most impressive, however, is her scope of imagination and skill with a pencil/pen and brush. Her talent at illustration is immediately evident when looking through her collection of water-colored witches, mermaids, and Cathedral Knights. Her art has a delightful sense of whimsy that is tempered with a grim hint of the arcane and the antediluvian depths of forgotten forests. While her work speaks for itself, her pedigree as a Games Workshop concept artist before going freelance in 2021, tells volumes as well. It is hard to overstate how excited we are about following her journey as an artist over the coming years (and maybe acquiring some of her artwork!)!
Games Workshop's settings are best when they are not focused on colorful Space Marines or flashy Eldar, but are instead concentrating on the fringes: the weird and unknowable alien creatures and the remnants of humanity that have fallen far from the regimented militarism of the Imperial Guard. Unfortunately, Games Workshop is not the wellspring of ideas that it was years prior, and tends to limit themselves to only making incremental changes to well-defined factions that are forever fixed to their mid-nineties interpretations. More Space Marines anyone? Weird_witticism does not fall into this trap, and instead focuses on those forgotten corners, creating something new that reminds one of the vastness of the uncaring universe. His Children of the Second Sun is the most bizarre genestealer cult we have ever seen, with fleshy unclothed bodies and spherical, multifaceted crystalline heads. He has a host of eccentric mechanicum models, fusing flesh and mechanical parts with elongated faceless heads. Others are shrouded in tenebrous hoods that, when coupled with inhuman physiologies and forms, kindles a feeling of dread. Most of his models convey a feeling of cosmic terror, with all manner of unique xenos creatures and unique tyranid creations, and even an Elder Thing straight from H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness!
|Children of the Second Sun.|
Necromunda has always been one of Games Workshop’s best settings, perfectly capturing the draconian absurdity of the Imperium of Man. And while it is exciting that the game is now getting a steady stream of plastic releases, when I look at the range of models, I cannot help but feel they fall short of the setting, and make it look bland and uninspired. Alexander Lunde (@hrosshvalur_lunde), coconspirator of the Echoes of Imperium blog, does not fall victim to this banality, and clearly understands the dystopian core of Necroumda, creating models and terrain that capture the sordid splendor of the hiveworld. From slaver guilds, to bounty hunters, to a bridge toll booth, Lunde is never short on ideas, often kitbashing from outside of the Necromunda range to create something new. Captain Barbarossa epitomizes his style and creativity, turning an ogre from the Cursed City game into a sump barge captain, complete with a shotgun/harpoon gun and power fist created with a crab claw! His ambition does not stop simply at miniatures, he also crafts remarkable pieces of terrain and whole gaming table tiles, capturing the eutrophic decay of an underhive sump or the rusting labyrinthine tunnels of a hive city. Recently, he has started creating the wreckage of a long forgotten civilization overwhelmed by encroaching vegetation, a gaming table for revisiting the narrative setting of Outgard. We cannot wait to see what becomes of some of his warbands and gaming table in 2022!
|Tyra - Female Space Marine Challenge.|
|Slave Guild Necromunda gang.|
|Deathwatch Space Marine and Inquisition Vexilla.|
Anyone following our blog for some time knows we love playing with and improving the scale of Games Workshop’s models. It can be a difficult task when virtually all of their models are heroically scaled, with absurdly cumbersome weapons. So when we find someone creating models with a perspective paralleling ours, it is hard not to get excited! The Empyrean puts scale at the forefront of his creations, recognizing that it can do a better job of conveying narrative and character than a firearm taller than the warrior wielding it. He wrote an excellent post reflecting on the subject on his blog, even grouping some of Games Workshop’s models into categories of roughly even scale for aiding in conversions. His style is on full display with his Deathwatch Space Marine and Inquisition Vexilla. The Space Marine was built from a heavily converted Forge World Corvus Corax. It is hard to imagine any model looking properly scaled with a Primaris Bolt Rifle, but the Primarch models are massive enough to achieve it (a feat that emphasizes how comical the standard Primaris Marines look with their bolt rifles). The Vexilla look diminutive in comparison, a lovely kitbash of Death Korps Roughriders, historical miniatures, and Cursed City skeletons. Recently, he began creating a fabulous Sisters of Silence and Custodes Kill Team. Various modifications like decreasing the size of their bolters, improving their poses, and using Sisters of Battle legs on one dramatically improve the appearnce of the models, making them look more lithe and imposing (the gritty dark paint scheme helps too!). He also created a pair of Custodes with Guardian Spears using heavily converted Forge World Fulgrim models, resulting in substantially more terrifying models than the plastic versions Games Workshop sells. We are incredibly excited to see theempyrean’s take on various aspects of the miniature hobby in 2022, always with careful consideration towards scale!
Nick Borelli - moldmoldmold
While the forces of the Ruinous Powers are supposed to be nightmarish and unthinkable, we rarely see representations that fit this description. Fortunately for us, hobbyists like moldmoldmold are around to show us how to successfully navigate the depths of a feverish imagination and harness that for model-making. His creations look like a fusion of the artwork of Zdzisław Beksiński and Hieronymus Bosch, macabre and unknowable, as though from a nightmare or a delirious episode. He creates daemons or fleshy beings that only loosely approximate conventional organisms, with errant limbs, tumorous growths merging with corroded metal, and bulbous head growths. Hyper-organisms that evoke a vague impression of that great black spume of existence from which we all emerged. If you are interested in seeing someone “break-the-mold” with non-traditional miniature gaming pieces that straddle the line between absurd and terrifying, you owe it to yourself to start following the work of moldmoldmold! We cannot be more excited to see what sort of monstrosities will come from him next!
Martin McCoy - martin.mccoy_art
|A Speaker from the Woods.|
When looking through the artwork of Martin McCoy, we cannot help but wish that he was doing the artwork for all of Games Workshop’s publications. His style is one of grim realism, where character proportions are anatomically sensible, such that any weird and unnatural elements of his work take on an added weight and significance. Much to our delight, the weaponry his characters carry are not exaggerated or overly large, such that the viewer can focus on the characters in the pieces. Some of his fantasy artwork looks like it would be right at home in the Mordheim rulebook (the piece “Procession of Blessed Sight” being a prime example), reveling in esoteric strangeness and teeming with peculiar details. “Huntress of Penitent V” echoes the work of John Blanche and his Femmes Militant artwork, though with a stronger focus on realistic anatomy. He also has a great talent of blending together elements of science fiction and fantasy, creating a cohesive and understandable vision. To the benefit of all fans of Inq28 and AoS28, he is a staff artist for 28, so his work illuminates those glorious digital pages.
|Procession of Blessed Sight.|
|Huntress of Penitent V.|
|Artwork of 28 magazine.|
Andrew Rae - Inigowilde
|Left at the Bottom of the Garden Series 01.|
The majority of the people on this list over the years find their place here due to models they create in Games Workshop’s settings. And while Andrew Rae, of Statuesque Miniatures, does convert and paint some great Games Workshop miniatures, and create some of the best miniature game-agnostic female heads in existence (long before GW even considered making them more prevalent in their games, we might add), he is on this list due to own whimsical miniature collections, Left at the Bottom of the Garden and The Ghosts of Yellowfield House. Both collections are filled with a host of delightful and diminutive spin-cast metal models. Left at the Bottom of the Garden is composed of a series of stuffed toys in the shape of various animals (like the beloved hoodie crows!) and more eccentric creatures (like a grimacing troll), while the Ghost of Yellowfield House is a collection of three, you guessed it, ghosts! All of the aforementioned models were sculpted masterfully, parsimoniously adding only those details that strengthen the design. This sort of restraint and confidence in design is something rarely seen in Games Workshop models (Brian Nelson being one of their best in this regard), and brings to mind the artwork of Mike Mignola. Periodically, he also posts insightful commentary on anatomy and scale in miniature sculpting, such as delineating what heroic scaling does to distort a figure, something that really strikes a chord with us. Ultimately, we are incredibly excited to see what Andrew Rae and Statuesque Miniatures have in store for 2022!
With the advent of cheaper and higher quality 3d printers and sculpting/rendering software, many more people have started to participate in the miniature hobby by digitally sculpting their own figures, rather than doing more traditional kitbashes or conversions. One that has really stood out to us during 2021 is Saint Decent, for her endless creativity and playfulness with miniature scale! We first came across their work when they began 3d sculpting Space Marines based on Karl Kopinski’s famous Crimson Fist Space Marine, where she experimented with various permutations of the model’s scale, creating some of the most cyclopean Space Marines we have ever seen. By harnessing the power of rendering software, she has been able to explore different facets of body dysmorphia, which is fitting to their lore as biological monstrosities, carved from the remnants of a human being. More exciting than Space Marines, she has also started sculpting more interesting and eccentric models, such as a series of heavily armored warriors for a setting of her own creation, Bisques Knights, which combines elements of 16th century conquistador armor, gas masks, and flintlock firearms. She has created some stunning sculpts for 28 style projects like Salvatore28 and Turnip28. Her work for Turnip28 is particularly impressive, perfectly capturing the ragged and downtrodden warriors, styled as Napoleonic soldiers, with the moldering root vegetables and battered longrifles that typify the setting. Recently, she has started to create some wonderful skeletons clad in battered platemail, which get us excited for her output in 2022!
Sometimes adhering too directly with Games Workshop’s settings, models, and games can be a little restrictive, both in terms of modeling opportunities and gaming experiences. Through converting, sculpting, casting, and using diverse rule systems, 4ydra is able to take complete control of his hobby projects, crafting his own settings, models, and events that fit his vision, without getting overly hindered by intellectual property. The Alignment 28, for example, his Lovecraftian fantasy setting using the flexible Frostgrave ruleset. For it, he has been constructing cyclopean walls starting to tumble to ruin, covered in eldritch glyphs, and made of odd geometries and the odd tentacle here and there. Such a setting would not be complete without some secretive cults, filled with diminutive mutated creatures, armed with simple worn tools and bobbing lanterns! More impressively still, was the Solstice 28 charity event he organized, where he sculpted and cast the basis of a disturbing idol and sent it to various hobbyists to create their own chilling elder gods to raffle out to donors. His entry had a trio of demented cultists holding shovels, and seashells recovered from stydian depths, all congregating around a horrible edifice showing the form of a clawed entity with a bulbous head and a single hateful eye. Additionally, he has been building a wonderful nautical-themed Genestealer Cult warband for use with the sci-fi version of Frostgrave, Stargrave. Like his other work, it is characterized by expansive kitbashes elevated by careful sculpting work. If interested, you can often hear him chat about his work on Modern Synthesist’s Creature Conference hobby streams!
|A crumbling wall from his Sunken City table.|
|Solstice 28 creation.|
Thank you for taking the time to read over this list! We hope you have found some new artists to follow. Onward to 2022!
- Eric, Adam, and Greg Wier