Thursday, December 15, 2005

Imagery of Games Workshop: Subjective and Objective Points of View

The debate has cropped up time and time again of entries to the Golden Demons being disqualified or brushed aside for their use of real world connotations. Let's take an objective point of view - that ideas should be built on establised ideas and only what is "canon" in Warhammer. Case examples of entries that have adhered to canon (and placed) from previous Golden Demon competitions:

Victoria Lamb's Squiggoth entry for Warhammer large 2002 - at the time there were no rules for squiggoths in the books and she mearly entered it as a proxy for a chariot.

Allan Carresco's Mutant from single model Spain 2004 - there are no rules for them in 40k however it is a translation of a concept that appears in the Inquisitor game.

Jakob Neilsen's Adeptus Custodes single figure from UK2004 - again no rules for them in 40k, and not even in a satellite game, with the inspiration of for the model lifted from artwork appearing in Horus Heresy.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have a subjective point of view, where the imagery portrayed might not be in the existing ethos, but (according to the painter) could conceivably fit in. Examples are:

Victoria Lamb's "Light Horseman" Rough Rider was based upon ANZAC imagery, inparticular the colouring of the uniform and the slouched hat.

Liliana Troy's Lothen Sea Guard muscian with oriental designs painted on his robes. I remember golden demon high elf unit done up with oriental imagery right down to having kanji script painted on the banners and shields.

Glenn Lamprecht's Wood Elf command group with a lot of American Indian influences.

Today we'll be examining the latter aspect of subjectivity and real world influences.

So to what degree with judges tolerate proxies or figures inspired by the imagery of the world versus strict adherance to publised army lists and already established canon? To examine this question we look at two particular pieces:

Jeremie Bonamant's elephant riding ogres, the Hindu connotations are obvious, especially if you see these close-ups.

The question is then, does this imagery have a place among the Warhammer World? It is obvious that the races in Warhammer draw from many real world historical and mythological references. Here we see an intepretation of some sort of ogre man-eater who has travelled to the distant realm of Ind, and somehow gained power and wealth. No one has been to Ind before, so whether the realm is based upon a Hindu influed mythology or not we don't know. Hey, I've never met an ogre riding an elephant before, have you?

In which case do we find the judges asking the question: Has there been changes made to real world references so that they subtly and elegantly fit in with the established ethos?

And here is where the debate comes in. I'm not going to comment whether Jeremie's model should have been d/q or not - he's won the sword, so on the day those judges decided his work was worthy of a win. But let's throw up an interesting "what if". Suppose the Ogre Kindgoms book had not been released yet, and someone entered a Ogre dressed up as a ninja, standing on bamboo decking and appearing as if he busted through a paper wall. Would it be disqualified?

But let's look at another example. Victor Hardy's daemon Golgotha. To refresh people's memories, this was a model that was d/q at UK GD a few years ago. The problem? Golgotha had very obvious (anti) Christian connotations - the name, the images on the banner. So how is this different from Jeremie's model? We go back to the question above. The imagery on Golgotha was neither subtly or elegantly translated into the established ethos. The name itself is fine - Warhammer 40,000 uses many mythological and biblical names. However, the world of Warhammer 40,000 does not have dipictions of the Madonna or baby Jesus, and using these stock images on a demon is clearly walking beyond the line of the established ethos. That's the word given to us from GW on why Golgotha was disqualified.

So there we have it. I've ranted on and yet we still don't have a definate answer to how far we can intepret the imagery GW has created or yet to explore. Sometimes I feel GW themselves have set up an almost unfortunate precedent of lifting imagery from real world contexts and doing a sloppy job of translating them into the established game worlds (a fine example is the Imperial Guard regiments released in the mid 90's), to which many painters simply follow suit.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Praetorian Rough Rider versus Ork


Back to updating after a small post-Golden Demon break! Here is another oldie, but one of the favourites in my collection. I started this diorama in 2002, but didn't finish it until 2003 for Golden Demon. Out of all the entries I have done for Golden Demon, this one I feel is my best. After a lot of on and off efforts, everything just came together in the end and the piece just worked.

It managed to win Gold in it's category, and a lot of contraversy was caused that year because Vic's Fiery Angel duel only got 3rd (if you don't know which piece Fiery Angel is, I suggest you check the top 10 miniatures on CMoN). Some in-progress pics of this piece are shown below.

Oh yeah, Games Workshop Australia have also updated their website with the winners from Golden Demon 2005. I have to say, great photos this year (though the ones shown on the website need a sharpen and a resize), check them out at:

http://oz.games-workshop.com/goldendemon/2005/default.htm