Hello, and welcome back to Art Mondays where I show off some of the 40k fan art I produced over 20 years ago.  Today's a special one, as it is still one of my personal favorites from that time.  This is my illustration of a Blood Axe Kommando team setting up to ambush a Leman Russ tank squadron as it emerges from a temperate forest. In the foreground the Kommando Kaptin is calling in a support strike. I still get a kick out of the grot cranking the radio. Heck, I get a kick out of the idea of a crank powered transmitter like that! These are the original Warhammer 40,000 second edition era Blood Axe Kommandos, complete with power axes and Swiss Army knives is! 

Tbis is one of the few larger illustrations I did back then, it's done at a full 10"x15". When it was published by Inquisitor Magazine (#14) it was reduced all the down to the size of a playing card. It came out great  thankfully, but I was still bummed it wasn't printed at a bigger size. A large part of this is due to how much work I put into this one.

The finished piece.

You see, I had a heck of a time figuring out how I wanted to put down the blacks (i.e. the large areas of black). The foreground was hardly the problem, but rather the mid and backgrounds. I needed to get the balance right so that the mood would be how I wanted it and so that the images and characters would 'pop' out at the viewer and not get lost. I reached a point while inking this that I just had to stop and really explore this. Oddly, this left the original line drawing looking Iike a coloring book page!*

The original line art.

So off to my local library**  I went to make some copies. These are just done on standard 8.5"x11" copy paper, reduced to fit of course. I then took my time to 'spot the blacks' on each one trying out a different area each time. 

Black balance tests.

Some things I had just had to try to see it. Upon seeing it, I either hated it or loved it it, and I just kept going until I reached a decision. The finished piece is an amalgamation of a ideas pulled from each of these experiments.  I still do test pieces like this, especially when it comes to coloring a piece, to help me see my way to the finish line.

More balance tests.

I was still a bit apprehensive however, so I took the line drawing into Kinkos and had them copy it onto a card stock (90lb ledger). I simply finished the piece on the cardstock. The sky on the finished piece was done using zipatone, a product I dearly miss***, and that resulting gray tone helped set the balance between black and white areas that I was looking for all along. And there you have it, a bit of 'behind the curtain' peak into my art process. I hope you enjoyed this one.

*Seriously, who wouldn't buy an Ork coloring book? GW, here's a niche market you guys could easily tap into! 

**Back in the '90s the Jonesborough TN Public Library had one of the best photocopiers around, and it was also the closest one to home!.

*** Yes, it's still made overseas at a smaller size, but I am referring to the original Letraset products.