Normally in January of each year we write a post about some of our favorite hobbyists who inspired us during the previous year. Time got away from us this year and it is already March! Despite this, we are happy to say the post is finally here! Like every year, there were countless hobbyists producing remarkable work, which made it difficult to acknowledge everyone we wanted to. Additionally, 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!Williamdegraaf3
We love the aesthetic and setting established by the game Inquisitor, which then continued to be championed by the Inq28 movement. It is much more interesting to explore the esoteric machinations of Imperial citizens surviving in an uncaring galaxy than it is paying attention to another “heroic” Space Marine. William de Graaf III championed this idea better than anyone else in 2022. They built a vast array of miniatures to represent different members of the Noble House Ty on Necromunda’s Hive Primus. In the process, they were able to develop an unique visual identity combining sleek elements of Cyberpunk and Kurosawa-esque samurai without losing the 40k aesthetic. His House Guard look like a well-regimented paramilitary group, with slick uniforms and rifles. By combining various Age of Sigmar and Necroumda parts, he was able to create a series of cyber ninjas that call Gray Fox and the Metal Gear Solid series to mind (one even has a silenced submachine gun that looks a bit like a MAC10!). They also converted a trio of regal looking psychic Handmaidens, with impressive headdresses and robes. While Games Workshop might release models for the various Noble Houses on Necromunda at some point down the line, I don’t think they will be able to top William de Graaf III’s effort.
Over the years of having this blog, our conversion work has gotten more and more technical, with our tutorials often resorting to using brass tubing, plastic card, and modeling putty, usually to craft the most minute detail. Sus.an.membrane is a hobbyist who falls into this same mold, spending countless hours on each model, and we absolutely love them for it. Their careful use of plastic card to add details to models and fashion armor plates is second to none. They are also no stranger to using brass tubing to create gun barrels, but also to craft the vents in Space Marine power packs, with the addition of brass olives. Perhaps the detail that stood out the most to us last year was the time they spent building a more believable neck joint/collar. Normally GW Space Marines have very short necks that compromise the models’ anatomy and make it look as though they could not easily move their heads. Using thin sections of brass, Sus.an.membrane crafted a neck insert that still allows a normal Space Marine head to socket into it, creating a much more natural looking miniature that actually has a neck. Excitingly and importantly for other ambitious hobbyists, Sus.an.membrane provides details to how they do their conversion work, citing the tools and parts used. We cannot wait to see them build some new Space Marines combining all of the methods they have been developing in 2023!
In the age of Instagram feeds filled with a non-stop barrage of cool artwork and miniature pictures, it is not often that we come across something that feels truly unique. Illuminations of ew is an artist from Poland who uses pen and ink to create depictions of war-torn futures. The chaotic and scribbled linework belies a meticulous and careful craft, and helps to convey the bleak hopelessness and insignificance of our struggles against our lot in this universe. He is an avid fan of Rogue Trader and the early years of the Warhammer 40,000 hobby, when mankind's stake in the galaxy was even more desperate, Space Marines were not heroes, and the Imperium was a satire of the darkest times of human history. He is a disabled artist trying to make ends meet, so if you have the means, please consider supporting him so he can keep at it.
While we tend to put most of our focus on this blog towards converting and painting miniatures, we think the best part of the hobby is getting together with like-minded people to put the miniatures we created to use while throwing down some dice. Bill Ford, better known as the_ruin.501, understands this deeply. It was through his vision and hobby skill that we emerged out of our insular workspaces and played our first miniature games since the COVID pandemic began. Specifically, he hosted Mordheim 2022, where he invited a small group of hobbyists from around the world to Texas to play Mordheim! In addition to being a great host and event planner, he is also an impressive hobbyist, building multiple diverse boards for the event and crafting his own unique Ostermark warband. Bill is a great showcase of what can be achieved with a bit of passion, skill, and willingness to put yourself out there.
As Games Workshop continues to support the Space Wolves, they have slowly lost most of what we loved about them. Now they seem to have more in common with Santa Claus and children's cartoons. Valbjorn stands as a bulwark against all of this and creates Space Wolves fitting with their legacy. Their work is characterized by incredible sculpting work, convincingly creating facial hair and animal pelts. It reminds us of Forge World’s Simon Egan (who sculpted the majority of the Primarch models) due to all of the fine details like wolf teeth necklaces, tiny skulls, gems, and lacework on the pommels of weapons. Importantly, like Egan, these details are so small and properly scaled that they do not make the models look cluttered and busy. They use a combination of different modeling putties based on the task, allowing them to achieve the level of detail they desire. To the benefit of us all, Valbjorn has a YouTube channel where they share how they create aspects of their models. Additionally, they have begun to release more detailed videos that are available on Patreon if people are interested in supporting them. Valbjorn knows the importance of scale to emphasize how much larger than life a Space Marine is. This is truly what a Space Wolf should look like.
It is no secret that we like the downtrodden human elements of Games Workshop IP; this fact is evident as we have spent the last few years slowly building up an Imperial Cult (The Church of the Red Athenæum). Therefore, we love to see others converting their own seedy religious sects. Marek Szymonowicz, better known as Simonidex on Instagram, did exactly this by converting a lovely Cawdor/Redemptionist warband. To do this, they effortlessly combined a multitude of kits alongside some expert greenstuff work. Notably, they had the excellent idea of combining the torsos from the Cawdor kit with the legs from the Delaque models. This produces a convincing heavy robe that makes the warriors look tall and imposing. They also used green stuff to sculpt hoods and even a conical capirote on one that makes the warrior look absolutely sinister along with its hooked nose. Not every model is an extensive conversion, but each change results in a warband that more closely mimics the design ethos from Necromuda in the 90s. We cannot wait to see what they continue to build in 2023, and perhaps even get some paint on the growing Redemptionist warband!
Mordheim has a special place in our hearts due to its dark, brooding atmosphere. It is always exciting to find a hobbyist who really captures this despondent aesthetic and creatively imagines aspects of the Old World. This imagery is particularly relevant now that Age of Sigmar has supplanted the Old World, replacing low fantasy with high fantasy. Tom Siegberg, tom_paint_n_build, is one hobbyist that has never had trouble capturing the darkness of the Old World. He masterfully created a Mordheim Chaos Possessed warband following the Carnival of Chaos theme, wonderfully capturing the dreaded majesty of a circus. With careful kitbashing and impeccable sculpting work, he created a motley crew of jesters and corpulent hangers-on. On top of this, he is also a fantastic painter, balancing color choice, shading, and highlights to create a cohesive warband. His mercenary ogre is particularly astounding; the grim humor of the hobby horse and the flag used to create his coat are delightful. The painted details really sell the model, with the free-hand playing cards and the flag design. It is only three months into 2023, and he has already created some decrepit skaven and grimy Imperial Guard. We cannot wait to see what else he creates as the new year stretches on!
A second person on this list perfectly encapsulates the low fantasy and elements of horror that make the Warhammer setting so captivating, and that is Moshartz Miniatures. With carefully considered kitbashing and putty work, he is able to create miniatures that almost seem trapped in a desolate autumn, forever stuck in the liminal space between fall and winter, haunted by restless spirits, shambling skeletons, and marauding orcs. Moshartz has a love for orcs and it shows. A particular standout is an undead orc that has the sinew and muscle of a decaying arm. He even created a tiny rotting Night goblin. Who says greenskins cannot be zombies? He also created a wonderful Bögenhafen human mercenary Warband for Mordheim that at once seems like it came straight from the pages of the original rulebook, but also looks modern. And if Warhammer fantasy is not your thing, he recently started to build some true-scale Death Guard. Is there nothing he cannot do?!
In a time when it is easier than ever to just follow Games Workshop's lead when building and painting models, it is refreshing to see a hobbyist who is not confined by GW's product ranges. Totally_not_panicking embodies the punk do-it-yourself (DIY) ethics in this miniature hobby. Rather than building kits as they were intended, he cuts and bashes disparate pieces together until he creates abysmal horrors and degenerate fools that are both totally unique yet right at home in the Warhammer universe. Similarly, he is bold with his paint style and techniques, not relying on traditional model acrylics, but incorporating oil and gouache paints along with a limited palette. He is also very committed to sharing what he has learned via his YouTube channel and a free kitbashing tutorial. Furthermore, to encourage the hobby community to be more fearless and adventurous with their own creations, he created the annual competition Smash Bash which celebrates the gruesome, pathetic, and evocative side of the hobby. You can listen to us chat with him on our podcast!
Thank you for taking the time to read over this list! We hope you have found some new artists to follow. 2023 still has many months to go!
- Eric, Greg, and Adam Wier