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The makings of… a Primarch part 2.

Written By David.

In the second installment of this series, let’s talk about decisions and computercrashes.

So last time, we left with a fairly decent pose, as well as good set-up for the painting of Mortarion around the time of the Horus heresy.

A few decisions had been made in regards to how he would look:

-Similar to Curze (“siblings”)
-Scythe positioning
-Gaunt/ Deathly posture and features
- Details to keep in mind are: censers, no greenor white colours of armour, smoke coming out of the high collar, smoking pipes coming out of his back.

This is the image we had/


At this point, I do “the google rounds”.
Essentially, I look through google for images that I can use as reference for various items.

Items like hoods (monk-robes), roman shoulder-guards, freaky scythes, censers, smoke, fumes from burning oil-fields etc.

These things are ten stored for references. I will not se them straight off, but more as guides to how something is shaped.

If I need to create something unique for a character, I might “kit-bash” some of the images together to create interesting shapes (using various layerstyles in a similar fascion to how I started this illustration, see part 1 , but for this illustration that was not needed. (An example of an item that could have been made thusly, is the scythe, but I made a decision to paint that from scratch, based on pre-existing art.)

Examples of art that fell under references vary from Scythes from Darksiders 2, to conceptart for the Angels in Diablo to exhaust-pipes from Trucks and Holocaust-victims.

During this time, I also refine the previous image a little to get to the point where I like it a bit more. Not much is done beyond adding some backlighting, a few placeholder-censers and painting in the face a little.



So let’s stop here for a while and talk about catastrophical crashes.

I have made it a habit to constantly save iterations of my illustrations.
This way I can go back and copy-paste something that might have been better from a previous version, but I also make sure I do not loose hours of work if Photoshop crashes.

I have, to date, never had a version of Photoshop that did not crash on me at the worst possible opportunities.
Lately, I have also made it a habit to use a cloud-saving source to save my most recent works/files, simply because in case the computer crashes and files are lost, atleast some of my work is saved.
Better be safe then sorry.

So I worked on Mortarion for a long while. Each iteration of the illustration moving towards a goal.
The face was altered to focus more on his skeletal look, whilst maintaining a somewhat proxiation to my illustrations of Curze and Angron. I also used references of men from the Carpatian region as reference, to hint at the origins of the Legionaires (who are supposed to mainly have been recruited from this region on Terra, before recruitment from Mortarions homeplanet began).

Some alterations to the colours happened. The reds/oranges moved towards gray/blue/greenish to reflect this sensation of the sick and poisonous.
A shhoulderpad was begun on and the robes and scythe was worked out.

I had 8 preview-images to show on the blog. And they all vanished in a severe computercrash, loosing several folders worth of illustrations and references.

Luckily I had saved the ast two iterations of the image on my dropbox-account.

So here is where we come back to the image. It is not done yet, and there will be a part three, but you need to know why there was a jump in the look.
And a caution- save often. USe external harddrives or cloud-saving if needed, but make sure your work is safe.
Luckily, everything for my proffessional work was saved on an external harddrive except a new sketch, which means nothing suffered for commissions and proffessional works, but it could have been much worse, so keep this in mind!

Anyways. Mortarion was evolved

Now the astute viewer will notice a few things:
1) The pose is slightly altered.
This mainly comes down to the fact that the lower body is in shadow and the shoulderpad has to face a certain direction for him to be able to hold the scythe.

2) the collar looks completely different.
I went away from the crude stove-collar and moved towards a more knightly one.

3) Alot of the ornaments vanished from the previous image, including the censers.
During research, I found that Mortarion didnt fancy ornamentation, so I stripped it down. The censers where only really placeholders. They will return once I paint them in proper.

4) He is kind of stout/heavy set.
This, is fixed. Namely in the next preview image-


Following this I will be painting in the lower body, the scythe will be completed and the censers will appear After this I will start adding the gasses in an around the collar and finally there will be some colourcorrections and post-process work to make the illustration complete.

Let me know what you guys think.

Oh, and here is something Orky to end the day. Wprk in Progress:



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“Can I just use your images, like, however I want?” / Artworks to show.

So this is a dual post. It will start by making a point about posting other peoples artwork around the Internet without referring to the artist.
It will end with a couple of new artworks from the studio.
In a couple of days, there will be a new post with process on the Mortarion-piece, but today’s post is important.

So recently, it came to the attention of a couple of artists that I keep close contact with, that a certain Facebook-page is posting images.
Nothing bad about this, however, the page is notoriously bad at referring to the artist.

So the second comment sais it is Karl Richardson, which is helpful, however, the comments are really not where such a reference should be, they should be where the artwork is posted, in the description.

This is a quite serious problem, usually brushed aside by fans as not being a problem at all.
So let’s try and give a little insight in this part of being an Artist.

    FANS, this is for You! Take a good look and try understanding why this is important!

Let’s post this as an image. There will be a “free to use” disclaimer in the bottom of the image(s).
Please take your time to consider what each point say.


So what does this mean?

It means that whoever made the art you found cool and wanted to repost- tell us who made it! In the description of the art.
If you don’t know, the write that. That way, if someone let you know, you can alter it.

Does it mean that you will never be able to show any of Studio Colrouphobias works online?
No, it doesn’t. Of course you will.
But we would appreciate being asked. Sometimes our works are actually not for show everywhere. Some commissioners pay for more exclusive views. And we would demand a reference on the artwork, back to us, our website or facebook-page would be preferable.

It means that whoever made the art you found cool and wanted to repost- tell the viewer who made it! In the description of the art.
If you don’t know, then write that you don’t know. That way people can help you find out and, if someone let you know who the artist is, you can alter it.
You see, if we don’t get referred to then nobody will commission us, which also mean we will need to stop doing what we do.
And then there will be no art from us.
Everybody looses.

And now to stop on a more light note.

Here is a piece that Natasja has been working on on and off for a while:

Being the more traditional painter of the studio, she is working mainly in Artrage, using some techniques She “learnt in the age of the dinosaurs, only now applying them on a digital canvas.” Images used for reference comes, amongst others, from National Geographics.

We hope to be able to show more of Natasjas work shortly.

Also shown today, is the newest commission David completed.

Until next time!

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The makings of… a Primarch

So Halloween passed, thank you all for making it special by participating in ourcompetition.

Starting this week, there will be a new series of posts.
These posts are about following the creation of an illustration from concept to finish.

For the beginning illustration, I chose to use one of my personal Primarch illustrations.
I will go through wwhat ideas I have, how to flesh out the image, what thoughts and knowledge must be sought. Sketching, colour composition, painting roughs, using reference, when to use texturess and not and any number of other topics that come up along the way.

So let’s begin with the start, shall we?

For this particular illustration, I knew I wanted to tackle another Primarch.
But which one?
I have a list of Primarchs I am completing, where I have saved some general ideas and cool stuff to inspire.
Her’s what the folder look like:

You will notice that some are missing, which does not meant that they are completed, but rather that I haven’t ound anything yet to make me feel it is suitable to save as reference or inspiration for that particular Primarch.

So let’s choose one-

Let’s choose/

It is, after-all, the season to be dreary.

So I look at what Mortarion has.

Not that much, but we can work with it.

So I do a quick sketch, without looking at my ref/inspiration images, but after I have looked at them/

This is the result:

So, its loose, crappy and not much to see. But it gives an indication, a hint at where I wan to take this piece.

Let me explain it to you.
Mortarion, for me, was always a riddle.
He grew up as a son of an alien (or a mutant, it seem to have shifted over the years). Taking control over the planet of Barbarus, a lethal place for humans to live and so poisons and poisonous gases are a part of his culture.
Likewise, the figure of Mortarion has this “Angel of Death” over it. A hooded figure, slender and agile, with hints of wings and a scythe.

The above is the way I think about Mortarion in passing, without investing any real tought to the character.

So the next step, is to look at the sheer physical aspects of Mortarion.

I did a Google-search, and ended up with a few images. I show them here to give you an idea, but I am in no means taking any credit fore these:

Mortarion-print – John Blanche
Mortarion – Alex Boyd
Mortarion1 (2) – Adrian Smith
Mortarion work in progress1 -Ibrahim Swaid ( )

So that’s the four first ones I got..

Now comes the choosing.
What do I like, what don’t I like.

I like the general features, the hood, the gaunt look of Alex Boyd’s version. The plain-ness of the armour. In fact, even though I usually really like Adrian Smith’s work, in this case, I find it completely out of tune with what I want to portray.

So I make a list of things to add in the illustrration-

Scythe (obviously, I even drew that in the sketch, before thinkking about it).
Hood (again).
Slender – like in the Alex Boyd image. – usually PlagueMarines are bloated, which is fine, but I want him to look like death/ This is not neccesarily going to be after he joined chaos.
High Collar.
Censer- holding poisonous gasses.

Things to concider-

Colours, not sure about wite, or even green. I need to do some research.
Shoulderpads. I sketched something like the Angron or Curze shoulderpads, not sure if I will keep that or go with something else.
Smoke- I want poisonous gases to come out at the collar and from the Censers. Need to make them visible without looking lame.

Things to not take-
No Green, no White. Not on Armour in any case. I want him to be dull in armour/clothing. He will be pale, so he need to stand out a bit.
Chest from Hulk- I really need him to look like death, he cannot have the most powerful look, not bodywise in any case.
No face-mask.
Perhaps the fumes will cover some of his face, but I want his face to show mostly.

After writing these things down, I do a new sketch. And i failed (I lost the file). So I decide to do a tested methood when I need ideas.
I use an older image and duplicate layers, moving, reshaping, twisting and turning them around, using layer-effects to get “happy accidents”.
In this case, I used my Angron Painting.

This is the “sketch”:
So I add some brushstrokes to give a hint at my figure (using the same pose as before)
It still doesnt do it, so I do a little altering and adding a coloursplash, followed by a proper silouhete (next two images)


And after moving the arm and scythe, I am getting happy about the pose.
I know I said no facemask, but at this time, I am unsure how to make him look, so I have left the lower part of the face.
I will most likely make him look similar to curze, as I use roughly the same features for all the Primarchs, just changing them ever so slightly, to show they are siblings, rather then the same characer (or, indeed, completely different from one another).

That thing above his head?
Yeah, I dont know, perhaps I will keep it, perhaps not.
I thought I saw something like that in the back of Ibrahim Swaids Mortarion… it has potential. Maybe some sort of machinery, part of his exhausts…

We’ll see.

Till next time.

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On reference – part I

Hello there Studio Colrouphobia-followers!

Today I thought I’d take a little time to talk about how I use reference. There are many things to consider about references and many rules people
mention in regards to reference, so I thought we should discuss a little about it and I will also let you know how I use reference when I paint.

Lets start with the only rule you really should think about at all times. It’s divided into three parts.

If you are uncertain about copyrights and other rights- Shoot the reference yourself! Take a camera, locate a suitable view and take a
photograph of it!

The second part of the rule is:
If you bought a book with the reference in, and unless it say anything specifically about it on the image itself or on the publication-page (Where the information about edition and publisher  and where it was printed etc. can be found) about using as reference , you can use it as reference!

And the third part of the rule:
When in doubt-  Do not use as reference!

Now, before moving on to discussing other things, please do remember that the moment you use a piece of reference by cutting and pasting it into your work it’s not a reference any more- it’s a manipulation, manipulation wont bring you further towards being an accomplished painter or illustrator, it wont bring you anything but sorrow down the road (mainly because eventually people will find out and, rightfully, call you a fraud).

How I use reference and why

A lot of artists will say they do not use reference, or use it sparingly. I am not yet such an accomplished artist that I could do without reference though, and many of my illustrations defy life in such a way that using life as a base for painting them would only get me so far.

So I use photos to help me get certain things correct. It could be understanding a certain type of lighting, texture or shape of something. I used to copy photographs and drawings when I was young, it is an excellent way of learning how to sketch and/or paint, to copy something that already is well done.
But that was for practice. Nowadays I still do copies on occasion, though I would rather call them “studies”. Using a photo of an apple to try to paint a similar apple
(note “similar”, not “the same”). It needs to be believable, not a copy. I also do the occasional actual copy, trying to copy a work of a master such as RubensCaravaggio or Rembrandt to get the idea behind their work with colour and light, or to do a copy of a Pyle or one of the Orientalists to understand composition and how to use colours to strengthen it. But these are meant as practice, for me. They are not shown outside my family (and barely even that) and are not used for anything else but to further my own skill. A boxer need to shadowbox, an athlete need to run laps, painters and illustrators need to paint.

When it comes to actual illustration of something I use images, whether photos or other illustrations, as guides towards what I want to paint.

Consider Babar. If you have never heard of Babar: he is an elefant that grow up around humans, learn to walk on two feet and dress in clothes. Eventually he becomes king in his own land. A very nice set of children’s stories that teach basic ethics at the same time as being entertaining and sweet.

I have, for a longer time, been pondering to paint a classical portrait of Babar. He is a cartoony-like elephant, but only because the illustrated book was supposed to be for children, not education on the looks of  elephants.

Since I illustrate with a certain amount of realism, and try to get to the part where seeing an illustration of mine is believing the illustration, I wanted to paint Babar a little more realistic. So I went about doing a little sketch of him:

This is my sketch: Babar, now an old king, sitting infront of a fireplace in a victorian styled chair sipping a Cognac. Behind him sits the head of Rataxes a friend and enemy (it’s a complicated relationship) of Babar’s. The size of the paper, and the fact that I had not truly planned this image  much, mean that the head of Rataxes sit more behind the head of Babar then being visible.
After completing the sketch, knowing that I need to alter some things once I start painting it, I go about getting me some reference:

I find an image of a Rhinoceros, amazingly enough I find exactly the type of chair I wanted to seat Babar in, though not at the perfect angle, but still. I find three different elephant-heads, african ones, and I find a set of crown jewels (the Danish ones, but I like the Kings crown and it looks somewhat like the one I drew on Babars’ head).

I decide against using the elephants as final refferences, because I am uncertain where the images are from and whether there is a copyright on them. Normally, this would spur me to scour the internet for a massive amount of hours but my dear wife remind me that we have a zoo in the city, and that I have free admittance to it whenever I want to (one-year-subscription) and that, indeed, there are elephants there. Even though I will use the above elephants for my reference mash-up, I will still shoot new references to use once I begin the actual painting. (and on the plus-side, they also have a Rhinoceros or two at the zoo, which mean I might get some very nice photos of Rhinos as well, to use for this painting).

Now it’s time for a quick recomposition/colour-test:

In the above image, I have copy-pasted some of the references from above. I painted the clothes of Babar and the Head I had to paint because of the lighting but I did a lot of colour-picking. This stage is not really part of the painting itself, merely there to see if I “got it” or not. As such, it isn’t supposed to take that long. I believe I spent a glorious 30 minutes on getting the image above done. Obviously, the tone is very dark, but that is also partly because eventually I will look just as much on this image as the reference to get the final painting done correctly. The mash-up is meant to give a better understanding on the general look of the painting. The references are what will make the final painting come alive.

It is important for you to realize a couple of things here:

  1. This is meant to serves as a reference. I copy-pasted images in, to give me a better Idea on shapes. In the end, I might use the general tone of this, as well as using the photos copied into this document as reference, but I will paint the entire painting from scratch!
  2. I do not suggest painting over anything unless you really are starting out, and then only as practice! Don’t do paint-overs to get you “cool art that get me jobz”, because it wont. It will only tell people you aren’t good enough when they start putting pressure on you for deadlines and start seeing you painted over other peoples work, which in the end can cost them a lot of cash in the form of lawsuits and whatnot.
  3. I use reference as a visual guide, that does not men I have to stick to it rigorously all he time. There is still room for change along the way, but the reference is there to help me see things like light, shape, tone and texture.

Next time I come back to talk about reference, I will show you how I paint Babar from begin to end. With reusing the sketch as a base for the painting, painting under-layers and dead-layers, looking at the reference to get a good idea on what I need to think about with colour, lights and shapes/form etc. etc..

If you have any ideas on what to take up on this blog, or if you have any questions on this topic, other topics or such, please leave a comment and I will answer as promptly as I can.

I also wanted to know what you guys thought about Noah‘s guest-blog? Are you looking forward to the next art-hero to post one? Who are YOUR art-heroes?

Until next time,


Manic Mondays – WiPs

Here are some wip’s of some work that I can show at the moment.


Khullain, cropped WiP of a full figure illustration of a Storm Warden.


Cropped WiP of a full illustration, Lantern Marines Chaptermaster (Yes, he is supposed to have some features of Ozzy, there might even be glasses, hence the unfinnished eye-region).


CroppedWIP of a Black Shield Deathwatch Marine.



Until Next Time.

These Days – Monday sketchpost

Hello there again,

Here are two images to let you look at something whilst I prepare for a larger-ish post later this week.

Wip for a personal illustration that is currently on hold.

a Study for something….completely different.
Anyway, it is pencil on paper. And it is not World of Warcraft.

Until next post!



Cucumber sandwiches – Completed artwork and wip

Hello again faithful watchers of this blogspot!
David here with some visuals for your viewing.

I’d like to start this weeks sketch-post with something for those who may watch this without understanding why there is so much focus on Warhammer and Warhammer 40.000 artwork in this blogspot.
The answer is simple really, most of the commissions done for private clients are set in these worlds. It is an interest for me personally, but ultimately it comes down to art done for clients and what we can show.

Other works remain to be shown but are still within the scopes of NDA’s or are not completed for full viewing just yet. As an example, not long ago we let you know of a cover for a game called Skrapyard. This is an illustration that has the benefit of being possible to show the moment it is done and approved byy client. You can expect to see that illustration within the two weeks as it comes in to completion and approval.

Now if you have absolutely no idea about the Warhammer games mentioned above a good place to start is by reading a little something about it.
I found out through writer Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s excellent blog ( that the BBC did an article on Warhammer 40k when they celebrated their 25th birthday. The gist of it all is that anyone who is older then a certain age and still playing is a geek (it has always been so) but it is done with a little more forgiveness this time. Above all the interview is very well done and give a better insight in how most of the older players feel about the hobby nowadays.
Article and interview can be found here  and .
Aaron’s blogpost on the topic can be found here

Now onto the artwork.
I was approached by a representative of a couple of weeks ago and asked if I could do a commission for them. Naturally I took it on.
The final illustration (in colour) is found below. Also in the image are three close-ups of details you might want to see. Details are at 100% painting-size (click image to see full size).

Next up is something that deserve a little bit of explaining.
It’s a work in progress that I started a little while ago. The commissioner is my youngest son, whom is totally into Orks normally, but since we have the Lego video-games in house and they are played a lot (if you think it is childish, think again, the depth of the humour in the Lego-series is astounding and worthwhile, even if you don’t like Harry Potter or think theClone Wars “just isn’t the same as the original three movies” the games are well worth it).

So my son is playing, alternatively watching us adults playing the latest Lego Harry Potter game and then see me paint Space Marines and whatnot.
Suddenly he sais:
“Dad, can we buy the Lego Warhammer Game?”
So I reply:
“No, there is no Lego Warhammer game son.”
“Why not?”, he sais, “why don’t you tell ‘the guys’ they should make one, you can paint the Space Marines and show them it works”…

Now despite the fact that I do not know any of ‘the guys’ that my son refer to I took up on the painting part.
So below is a work in progress of a Lego Ultramarine.They’re in fascion, live with it.

I’m adding some extra spacing between the legs and torso, as well as putting an extra flat Lego-block under the feet, to give the Space Marine a little more height. The end result will make it look very much like a Lego-figurine, but about a head taller then the rest of them. The collar sticks to the backpack, and the shoulderpads are snap-ons to the arms (see, I had to think ‘engineerical’ for this because my son is constantly telling me what works to do with Lego and what doesn’t).
One of the reasons why I am also showing this now is to show that I am actually painting this, and not just building a lego-figure and taking a photo of it.
Who knows, perhaps this might give some ideas to ‘the guys’…

For anyone who is waiting for more of the quick-and-simple colour/light study style Space Marines, you should also check out my personal Deviantart account (, as there is a little info coming up in the journal there shortly.

As always, feel free to comment or critique. Let us know if there is anything you miss or just want to see on these pages. By all means, use the comments. We do not bit…often.

Until next time!

Unholy Alliances – Speedpaintings

Hello there.
I thought I’d give you something to rest your eyes on whilst we prepare for future posts.
I have been doing these very quick sketches lately, trying to get lighting right and not caring too much about proportions or accuracy as far as design goes.
I decided to take the three speeds I did last and put them together to a little triptych, though at first they did not really fit with each other.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Warhammer 40k universe, the first two from left are normally what’s called “Loyalists” or “the good guys”. The guy on the far right is most definitely one of “the bad guys”.
So I made the three of them lean more towards “bad” then “good”, removing insignia’s of the two first ones, adding more scratches and a hint of…. evil ominous-ness.

These types of speed-paints have proven to be extremely relaxing to me as they take no more then 2-3 hours and I just go with the flow whilst painting them. Very generous as far as breaks, things to paint on now and then between work.

Hope you like,


Carry on – Sketches will follow

Hello there,
Time for another update with images.
This time it is a little scarce because I am saving up two images for free tutorials. One of those will come within the week, the other will take a little longer.

In the meanwhile, here is a speedpaint/quick study for Imperial Fists armour in sunlight.

This was done as part of trying to figure out lighting of an Imperial Fist for a figure in a commission I am wrapping up. Never mind the faults in colouring the armour or faulty armourdesign as most of it was to get the yellows and blacks right light-wise and not for accuracy on Imperial Fists armour.
As soon as the client has said his and we see if there are any tweaks needed or not, I will post that one on here.
I like how the style is coming out, was painting this way more loose then most of my current stuff.
If enough people like it I will paint it completed so let me know what you think!


Sketch away

Monday blogpost,
A little late, granted, but still.
Lets get some sketches away:

This is the beginning sketch of Electro, an old Spiderman Villain, as an old man. The thougt is to paint multiple Spiderman Villains in older form.

Next up is a speedpainting. Just playing with ideas here:

And finally, the completed Arbaal the Undefeated painting. This has been featured as a wip in several blogposts and now it is complete. This is me re-imagining this old Warhammer Fantasy Battle character.
As you can see, he rides a demon, a so called Flesh Hound. He also holds an axe and a shield.
Since the character seem to have left the game a couple of editions ago, I felt I had some leniency to reinvent him somewhat:
I made the collar of Khorne sit behind the neck-guard of the Hound, it’s the brass-thing with skulls and horns on it. The hound has more colour then Arbaal himself, this comes from the factt that I see demons and beings from the warp as having more colour then in “the real world” of Wfb/Wh40k.
My illustration shows Arbaal as he sacks Praag. Hope you enjoy.

Until Next time!


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