– INTRODUCTION –
here we are with another episode of the blog, where I will talk about the creative process that led to the birth of a character: this time it’s ‘The Landgravine’!
The resting Landgravine, lascivious and disturbing. Kudos to Romain Schoemaeker for the boxart.
Quite the unusual lady, isn’t she?
But even before that, i’ve often been asked: what the hell is a “landgravine”??
Well, a landgravine is the wife of a landgrave, or a woman of same rank and power. Landgraves were an important class of nobles, this title was used in the Holy Roman Empire.
As usual i encourage you to delve into her story in order to understand the whys behind her name, but in short: from background she’s the widow of a landgrave, who has acquired his noble title and his possessions.
Obviously, as you can see from her physical appearance, something strange happened in the meanwhile…
– PART 1: THE CONCEPT –
The abstract behind this character could be summarized into:
“The need for physical contact and affection
and the terrible consequences that await those who try to turn back time”
The seeds from which I developed the idea come from two people i met:
– a middle-aged woman, who at one point in her life realized how her marriage, despite a husband providing her many privileges (but also many restrictions: hence the concept of the “golden cage” I use in the story) was basically a failure.
Love was gone, and she developed a desire to meet new people and possibly fall in love again … but at the same time she failed to realize that life had moved on and she couldn’t turn back time.
(I write these things with the utmost respect towards her – and without going into details – because she is a dear friend; to this day she’s still with her husband and, in her own way, seems to have found some peace of mind.)
– another, younger woman that one evening I met in a club with her family. At one point I was looking at her, and saw a veil of sadness in her eyes:
she went near her husband and hugged him from behind, looking for physical comfort… but he barely returned the gesture. He seemed almost annoyed.
At that moment, besides feeling so much sadness in seeing that sign of affection not being reciprocated, I thought that I would have given anything to be the one embracing her.
That girl would later become a character known as Sanguinea .. but that’s another story.
So, when i started thinking about this character i set myself two goals:
– 1: creating something disturbing and displaying – as usual – beautiful features combined with uncanny details. I had this vision of a “dark seductress”.
– 2: creating a model with large areas of uncovered skin, in order to offer something different compared to my previous releases.
The second goal was a bit more problematic in my opinion. The story is set in Renaissance era, the characters are (mostly) dressed in historical costumes and as you know, at the time women didn’t exactly go around in revealing clothes.
When possible i try to apply some tweaks in order to make the miniatures more interesting to the final customer, but at the same time i want to avoid clothes that are too revealing and/or not very functional (bikini armor and oversized pauldrons anyone?) to the characters’ background.
E.g. I changed the Flower Girl’s dress a little because i wanted to show larger portions of the torso and leg, otherwise the painter would have had to work mainly on fabrics.
The Flower Girl compared the one of the references provided to the concept artist. At the time women were almost completely covered by clothes and showing a naked leg or a cleavage would have been considered scandalous.
But this is “historical fantasy”, plus the Flower Girl does not care about common morality. 😉
However, since the vision of a “dark seductress” was materializing in my mind having strong Slaanesh vibes (for those completely clueless of GW lore, Slaanesh is the Chaos god of pleasure, hedonism and all that sort of funny things), point 1 and 2 started to combine together and i started writing down some essential details:
consistently with her background, The Landgravine would have been a lady dressed in a rich German costume but with the added twist of a naked torso and some parts of thin fabric covering shoulders and arms. I imagined some metal rings piercing her flesh, having the function of both holding up the clothes and adding a touch of masochism to the character (last but not least, allowing the painter to create interesting effects like wounded skin, blood etc).
A beautiful artwork from Total War: Warhammer III showing a Slaanesh demon army. What a bunch of happy guys.
There were other reasons for including these details, and i think it’s useful to spend a bit more words on the matter since i received some criticism about The Landgravine look, especially the “demon hands groping her”.
Though i love artistic nude, personally i’m not a fan of over-sexualized miniatures:
However, in this case we’re dealing with some sort of energy vampire, a succubus that seduces men (and women!) in order to feed on their life force. Her story strongly revolves around sexual desire, hence the miniature needed to be sexualized.
At the same time the character is not exactly “evil”. While writing the background i tried to explain her struggle for life, the way how she’s a deeply sentimental lady but forced to devour her loved ones in order to survive her hypermetabolism.
I can’t imagine a more dreadful fate and i think anyone living such existence would slip into madness, hence the final decision to include the flesh-piercing rings: self-punishment, in short she’s gone a little nuts.
With all these ideas in mind, i started sourcing for references and sent the concept to Daniel Comerci.
– PART 2: THE ARTWORK –
Among with all the files and reference pics, Daniel received a description along the lines of:
“An extremely beautiful and seductive young woman, her body language shold suggest she’s inviting someone to come near. The torso is naked but her breasts are covered by two monstrous/demonic hands that come out of the loins”
Here’s the firs pic i received from him:
As you can see it’s quite different from the final artwork, however i was overall pleased. I liked a lot the face and her expression (i asked Daniel to take inspiration from Megan Fox), but i wasn’t sure about the demon arms:
the way they covered the bust seemed too demure, so i asked the artist a little tweaking in order to make them look as if they were grabbing her breasts instead.
The costume was looking very good. I had sent Daniel some historical references (examples below), both about German garments and jewels of the time, and indeed he was able to include them in the drawing.
Three references i sent to Daniel, all taken from “Kendall Redburn Costumes of all Nations”. As you can see i marked the ones i found more interesting, along with some specific details as the elbow puff on the red lady.
Some refinement was needed – this proved to be a very complex costume even for the sculptor – particularly, he forgot to implement the flesh-piercing rings.
As i stated before the rings wants to symbolize some sort of self-punishments; instead, while discussing about the demonic arms with the artist, we imagined them as the Landgravine “old self”, like there’s a senile and monstrous creature living inside her body in contrast with the attractive outward appearance. I see this character as very similar to the Rev-9 terminator (btw, i hope i’m not the only one who actually liked that movie!).
And the reason why she can afford to walk around with wounds and torn skin is because her hypermetabolism grants her an extreme regeneration, provided she can feed enough.
These are bits of lore i actually didn’t include in her story, so probably i will expand the background in the future.
However, here’s the second wip i received:
Much better! Among other changes, i asked the chain with hourglass (which in our vision it’s made in repoussage gold like all her jewels) to be made in a similar style of the third reference, lady in blue-gray dress.
The back was now free from fabrics and there was space for the flesh-piercing rings, and the skirt edge was sensibly lowered, showing more abdomen – something even more scandalous if placed in a Renaissance context.
Still i was not entirely satisfied. I took some time to think about it and let the dust settle. Then i talked with Daniel and explained him how the drawing didn’t communicate me the idea of a seductress, the hands’ position seemed that of a polite person, or a lady waiting for a hand-kissing.
He then added his own considerations and applied some final changes:
This time i was completely happy with the outcome. The body language was now that of a provocative, lascivious woman. There were addition to the lower dress – an extra layer and gems – and also some tweakings applied to the rings. Daniel did a great job and i was ready to pass this concept to a skilled sculptor.
– PART 3: THE SCULPT –
And this is the part where the story goes horribly wrong.
Long story short, i got scammed.
I hired a 3d artist who left me with a flawed, unusable sculpt: my caster advised how the general shape of some folds and the presence of many hollow parts made it uncastable and, when i discussed the matter with the sculptor offering to pay for any revision needed, he refused and ran with the money.
Not my style to wash dirty laundry in public, so i won’t name this sculptor nor show his work (though aesthetically it was beautiful, very faithful to the concept art) but I certainly hope that people like him will stay away from the miniature market in the future.
However, at that point payment was already finalized and i was quite desperate.
I decided to get in touch again with the super-reliable Alessandro DePaoli, who already worked on the two previous characters doing a wonderful job, asking him if he could tweak the file in order to make it castable.
Alessandro was very kind. Usually he doesn’t like to operate on other people’s sculpts, but this time he agreed to help because i really was in a pickle. First of all he acknowledged all issues pointed out by the caster, then frankly told me that he couldn’t easily change the already sculpted shapes: the easiest way was to fill all hollow areas in order to make the file usable for production, and it was a “meh” solution, though the only possibly one.
So, after quite some pondering, i decided to stay true to my principle of creating the best possible products and hired him for a complete resculpt.
We started talking the model from scratch, and i love how Alessandro listens with interest and tries to understand the characters’ mood and personality. After reading the background, he actually suggested drastically changing the pose: in his opinion the previous sculpt was faithful to the artwork, but not suggestive enough. He offered two options:
– having The Landgravine posed as she were doing a malicious dance
– having her softly laying on a chaise longue
Second option, what else? 🙂
It was extremely appropriate for her and i liked the idea of creating an unusual kit. There had been rare cases of similar ideas in the past, e.g. this Cleopatra from Kabuki Models, however i was sure The Landgravine would have been one of a kind because of her combination of historical and fantasy details.
The above is one of the first wips i received from Alessandro. At the time we were discussing the pose and especially the monstrous arms, which turned out to be the most difficult part as you’ll read later.
I was not sure about having them covering her shoulders and preferred to stick with the original concept. That apart, i liked the direction this was going.
The sculpt proceeded apace. Clothes turned out beautifully, the pose was spot on and i was happy with the chaise longue. I was already fancying to paint it with a lacquered wood effect and with the addition of many decorations on the cushions. The face was still work in progress as well as the monstrous arms.
As i said, the latters turned out problematic: Alessandro is very similar to me in regards to the whys of details and we discussed a lot about the flesh surrounding those arms.
Previously i explained how The Landgravine possesses extreme regenerations hence she doesn’t care too much about wounds (but she still feels pain!), and so her skin can be considered an envelope able to instantly repair itself. On the artwork you can see some cracks around the demon arms and i explained to Alessandro how my vision was that of a rock-hard skin cracking around the “holes”.
I suggested adding a bit more information in that area, since the scale is small and in his opinion customers would have needed stronger details to be able to understand the concept.
However, all the while we explored other possibilities. Here’s some:
Who doesn’t like toothed arms?
Here Alessandro went even further and made us glimpse the inner creature coming out of the back. We eventually discarded the idea but I liked it so much that I will probably recycle it for some future model.
We discussed some more tweakings and in the end The Landgravine reached her final version, where the back shows both some cracks as well as “flakes” of skin. This is intended to convey the idea of a hard material shattering because of the arms coming out. Imho a nice opportunity for painters who like to include lot of hues and variations in the skin.
And that’s it. A troubled character both in background as well as in development, however i’m super happy with the final result.
Everything is there: her sensual body language, the German-inspired multi layered dress, the hourglass and a pair of demonic arms. If you reached this far i sincerely thank you and i hope it was an interesting read.
As usual i encourage you to subscribe the newsletter if you want to stay updated with all news about this project. Let me end this story with another shot of the beautiful boxart painted by Romain “Gr0gus” Schoemaeker (thanks pal!), and until next time!
this summer i was able to read “The Bloody Chamber”, a wonderful collection of short tales by writer Angela Carter. It’s a book i’d suggest to anyone, and among the collection you can find a story called “The Lady of The House of Love”; that tale explains pretty well the Landgravine’s feelings and state of mind.