Tuesday, 3 May 2011

I'd like to take a step back, and talk a little about the influences behind my Blood Angel project. If you don't care to read such a thing, the next few pages will at least have lots of awesome pictures to keep you satisfied. Also, if you disagree with any of the points I have made, or if I have gotten my facts wrong, please post up your opinions. I think that such a dialogue would be an interesting read, and a useful bookmark for other collectors.

Like my other project log I spent time collecting pictures and text that I felt would reflect the imagery of my chosen army. In the case of the Blood Angels, GW have a mixed vein of imagery that supports the range. (A little aside, the Blood angels have the singular honour of being the first legion/chapter iconography to be noted in the original Rogue Trader, pg.2, placing them truly as a first among equals)

First Blood Angel Squad seen in Rogue Trader.

There's not much to distinguish one chapter form another other than a few fluff entries and a colour scheme. However, the above picture marks a predecliction in Blood angel imagery toward skulls and blood drops that has continued to this day. Some would argue (me included) that this next image is not only seminal of the blood angels, but for the 40K universe as well.

John Blanche cover to the 2nd edition Warhammer 40,000. There's a comforting sense of familiarity, as well as nostalgia wrpapped up in this image. It was in the second edition I started playing, and no-one forgets the first time they open one of those huge boxed sets, or that moment of unbearable excitement as the lid of the cardboard box won't quite lift up to reveal its contents. I've arrived home every-time I look at this painting. Arsenal, a member of this website noted (and I hope he doesn't mind me repeating his sentiments here, check out his blog though, it's awesome:


"This seminal image was in fact the first thing Games Workshop I ever saw, as it was the cover of White Dwarf 166! As you can see, the imagery is slightly different to the more gothic, romanesque blood angels that eventually followed. Theres almost a cyberpunk feel to Blanche's blood angels, right down to the strange beetle-like shine on their armour. This is what I wanted to capture in my BAs. I have an almost hit-list of the things I am focusing on:

* New-school BAs - Red, Bone, Green. 
Old-skool BAs - Red, Black, Yellow 

* Red armour should have a shine on the surface, not towards the edges, so effectively gloss, as opposed to matte. You should be able to see this on the bits of Corbulo i've started but apologies if photo isn't clear.

* NO GOLD. all metals will be silver, but for the most part, gun barrels, ammo clips etc, will be black. Big difference from current BA range.

* Chest eagles Yellow

* blood drops & gems blue

* Black details, contrasting black armour plates, black flame details.

* Latin names - still frequently seen in BA armies, but things these days are usually trending towards the greek, and even then more common in ultramarine armies.

* Powerfists & Gun casings in yellow

* detailed personal heraldry & squad markings

* All blood angels hair BONE WHITE, not blonde."

Although it is fair to say that the latest incarnation of the  Blood Angels really indulges the romanesque aspects of their character, I would argue that their initial, and strongest, influence comes from renaissance art.

The second edition defined how we recognize the Blood angels today. A chapter typified by blood, beauty and those infamous saltires. Angels of Death (1996) which co-hosted the Blood Angel and Dark Angel further defined the chapter with fluff and moody ink illustrations.

I've been rooting around for a apt summarisation of the Renaissance movement, this is the best I could find:

The Italian Renaissance had placed human beings once more in the center of life's stage and infused thought and art with humanistic values. In time the stimulating ideas current in Italy spread to other areas and combined with indigenous developments to produce a French Renaissance, an English Renaissance, and so on.

The term Renaissance, literally means "rebirth" and is the period in European civilization immediately following the Middle Ages, conventionally held to have been characterized by a surge of interest in classical learning and values. The Renaissance also witnessed the discovery and exploration of new continents, the substitution of the Copernican for the Ptolemaic system of astronomy, the decline of the feudal system and the growth of commerce, and the invention or application of such potentially powerful innovations as paper, printing, the mariner's compass, and gunpowder. To the scholars and thinkers of the day, however, it was primarily a time of the revival of classical learning and wisdom after a long period of cultural decline and stagnation."

Although not a man intimately linked with the movement, "Ulysses" by Alfred Lord Tenyson echoes the ideals of the renaissance:

"To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

Dante, the Chapter master and writer of the Inferno, Erasmus (possibly inspired by Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, a Dutch Renaissance humanist) Tycho (possibly Tycho Brahe, astronmoer), and supporting fluff that claims the Blood Angels armour is amongst the most finely crafted pieces in the universe; all these details reflect enlightenment ideals. In fluff terms, the Blood Angels still embody some of the humanistic principles, and optimism of the Great Crusade. To echo Arsenal's sentiments, my ideal for a Blood Angel army could be rudely described as Cyber-punk Renaissance.


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