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Adeptus Mechanicus > High Altar > Hortwerth's Iron Brotherhood

Title: Hortwerth's Iron Brotherhood
Description: Adeptus Mechanicus army interview

Apologist - December 14, 2007 11:22 AM (GMT)
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Praise be to the Omnissiah!
Lukasz Perzanowski is the talented artist and sculptor behind the Micro Art Studios ‘Brotherhood of Steel’ (available here:, and he’s agreed to chat with the Adeptus Mechanicus forum about these new models and his Adeptus Mechanicus armies.

Hi Lukasz,
Thanks for allowing us the opportunity to speak with you about your army – I’m a big fan, and given the feedback you’ve received on-line and in person, it seems to be a big hit among the gaming community in general! What do you think is the reason behind the interest that this army has generated?

What draws attention to the army at first are the large walking tanks or ‘Battleknights’ as I call them. Everybody seems to stop by just to ask what they are, and then notices that other things also look unusual. As they look over the models they start to realise they’re looking at an Adeptus Mechanicus force that was designed for the job.

I know that the readers will be very interested in the pictures of the infantry, so let’s have some close-up pictures…
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Some of these models have recently been released as the Brotherhood of Steel. Were they originally designed to be cast and sold, or did you decide to cast and sell them after you’d finished the army?

I intended them for casting from the very beginning, I was just not sure whether or not I would put them up for sale in the end.

Are all of the individuals in the army sculpted for the army, or were a few sculpted and the remainder cast up in resin?

All of the models in this army were cast in resin. I needed a uniform looking force so I just made five designs and had them casted.

How long did each of the original sculpts take you to make? What materials were used?

The basic infantry models (Hattiphnatii as I call them) took me about a week to sculpt. I intedned them to be pretty basic so I worked on 5 designs at once. I used Magic Sculp for the basic structure, robes and bodies. I worked in a few stages, letting the previous layer to harden before starting another. The shoulderpads are made with plasticard, and the cables with guitar strings and some wires. For finer detail I used Greenstuff. The arms were built using assorted Plastruct profiles. I use mostly dentist tools, a GW sculpting tool, plus a few self-made tools: 2 different shaped paperclips, and a reshaped tweezers half.

Were there any problems in getting the models cast up, or was the process fairly straightforward?

I sculpted the two taller Technomagii at the same time and they were also casted but proved impossible to cast in larger quantities due to their complicated form. I just stuck too many things onto them whereas I should have planned for them to be multi-part.

This isn’t your first Adeptus Mechanicus force – what made you decide to revisit the Adeptus Mechanicus? Were you unhappy with the previous version?

The main reason was that I needed a different type of infantry so that I could field less elite, less armoured units. The other reason was that I was growing unhappy with the previous version of troopers. They weren’t ‘mine’ enough.
Link to Lukasz’s previous Adeptus Mechanicus army. Warning: big picture!

Why the change in style between the first and second versions of your army?

Mainly I tried to finally break the link to other miniatures and not bother with any anathomical human features. I wanted them to look inhuman as on John Blanche’s artwork. I wanted to make miniatures I had at the back of my mind for so long but I was just scared to make before.

The first is much more a ‘traditional’ 40K army, with many recognisable 40K parts; whereas this version is much more stylised and, well, creepy-looking! Was this a conscious decision, or did you just fancy trying something new?

It was definitely a conscious decision.

One of the things I like very much about these models is how tall and frail they are compared to most infantry in 40k, giving them a very sinister appearance. Was this something that you planned in advance?

This was just the image I had in mind. I tried to make them look like they broke their link to humanity with biomechanical manipulation, vat-breeding and artificial body parts, be they visible like the arms or hidden like the legs and heads. On the other hand, the belly still retains some distinguishable human features, and can be painted to look soft and squishy as in my army. Alternatively, it can be painted as armoured (as on the taller Technomagii models). This was inspired by Giger’s biomechanical series – a very vague border between the living and the machine.

Did the very tall and thin appearance cause any problems when using Games Workshop models in your force?
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Not at all. With the 4th edition of 40k rules, they are all size 2 anyways!

What was the planning process for this force? Did you use any sketches or presculpts, or go straight into the work?

Honestly, I’d love to tell you how I planned every detail, but I just broke the putty open, cracked my fingers and went for it. It was a flowing process, with no detail 100% pre-planned, just an image in my head that was modified with every sculpted feature.

The spindly theme is carried through the army to the vehicles, particularly the Battleknights:
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These are converted from Defilers, I believe?

Indeed. Taking inspiration from Warseer and WIP forums, and seeing Knight Titans made by others (see The Hoff’s interview on the forum for a typical example) I just felt that the converted but still pretty normal looking Leman Russes I was using were not enough anymore.
Even though I took great deal of insiration from others, I still wanted my Battleknights to look differently. I wanted no ‘pilot cabin’ head, and Titan-style guns rather than Knight Titan’s arms.

How long did the first one take you to build?

The first took just over a week to get to eighty per cent completeness. At this point I knew I wanted more, so I built the other 3 to the same stage, solving some issued differently. At this point disaster struck! I decided I wanted LEDs. And so I disassembled the bodies to make room for battery, bought the wires, LEDs and batteries, assembled it into a working system and voila… Only it took me over 3 months to get the parts and then the electrics working.

(continued: accessing dataslate)

Apologist - December 14, 2007 11:23 AM (GMT)

Part II:

The painting on these models is absolutely first-rate; how long have you been painting? What materials do you tend to use?

Well, thank you! I’m painting wargaming models (or to be more precise, 40k) since 1998. I wasn’t any good at first (of course I thought I was the best!) and it took me several years to discover the art of drybrushing, shading, and highlighting (in that order). I began converting and sculpting pretty quick, and my skill at it was growing at a similar pace to painting. All this time I was using GW paints (I mean, after I was finally convinced to give up on Pactra and the likes). I paint professionally since 2003. I tried Vallejo paints a couple years ago and they just don’t suit my technique. Which is? Washes! Watered down paint of varying consistencies, with washing liquid or acrylic medium added for different effects. I use standard cheap brushes, but I’m growing on to buying some natural fur ones.

Could you talk us through painting the cog design on Battleknight Hyperion? It’s a very subtle level of detailing that really makes this force stand up to close scrutiny – and doubtless something that readers will want to emulate.

First, I basecoated Mechrite Red on the armour plates. Then I painted on the very rough design of the cogs with Blazing Orange. Then I painted finer design with Fiery Orange and highlighted it with Bronzed Flesh. Then I washed it Blood Red and re-highlighted some areas with Bronzed Flesh. Then I washed it all over with Blood Red again, followed by Red Gore wash in darker or shaded areas. Then some cogs details were re-defined with Scab Red and Fiery Orange, and finally I washed the whole surface with a very thin Chaos Black.
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The colour scheme on this army is very striking, and uses a fairly small palette. I can’t help noticing the similarity to John Blanche’s artwork for the Adeptus Mechanicus: would you say his work has influenced yours at all for this army?

Definitely! His Mechanicus and Dark Mechanicus artwork, combined with some Giger’s biomechanical artwork and countless other artworks defined the way I think of Mechanicus, and the way I think of them defines how I see them!

On a more general level, what would you say were the main sources of inspiration for this army, on a modelling, painting and general level?

Everything, really. I had some great photo of some mainframe’s back with spaghetti of cables, there was Giger’s work… Can’t really name all the sources. And the painting? I wanted a red army. And I wanted a dark army. Plus I wanted it to look a bit disturbing. Presto! Red – check!... Dark – black armour – check!... Disturbing – pale bruised and unhealthy skin – check!

I presume that you’ve been pretty enthusiastic about the Adeptus Mechanicus for a while –how long have you been involved in the wargaming hobby, and when did you first come into contact with 40k’s Adeptus Mechanicus?

The first Adeptus Mechanicus model I made was an Inquisitor scale Techpriest back in 2001. It was completely scratchbuilt using some weird model parts. I still have it sitting over my computer screen. Painting is… dated, not to offend the model.

How important is the ‘official’ Adeptus Mechanicus background to you? Do you stick fairly closely to printed background, or do you tend too make it up on the spot?

I take what I like and I ignore what I don’t. I’m not a fan of all the fan codices. They may have all the units mentioned in previous editions, but without decent models I just don’t dig them. I love the bits of background about the schism during the Horus Heresy, the bit about Mars developing its own culture before the Age of Imperium, the Archeotech, the Quest for Knowledge… On the other hand, I want them to actually be creative and innovative… Just very structuralised, with sect-like circles of secret and knowledge.
And please, a new ‘ancient race’ codex arriving is not a good enough reason to even hint that Omnissiah is in fact some Star-God called (gasp) Dragon.

Having looked at the creative and hobby aspects of the force, let’s talk in terms of the tabletop game. Does this army have much success in action, or is it mainly a display piece?

I do play with it. Maybe not a lot due to time constraints and the fact I like the modelling part of this hobby more, but on the other hand I play mostly on tournaments. A tournament deadline is the only thing that can make me actually paint some models for myself. As for the success… Did I tell you I like the modelling part of this hobby more? It’s partly due to my lack of success playing. I know that if I only played more I would have been making less mistakes. I know Imperial Guard is not a take all-comers army. It’s not that I lose with this army a lot; It’s just that I’m usually around the half-mark when it comes to tournament scores. Two wins, two losses and one draw. That sort of stuff.

On the other hand, I do win Best Army prizes. 2 this summer (Which is about the same time as when I finished the Battleknights and Hellstalkers. Surprising?
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Hellstalkers, made from the Defiler parts left over from the Battleknights.

With no official rules for the Adeptus Mechanicus at the time of writing, which ruleset do you use, and why?

I play using Imperial Guard codex, with Witchhunters and Daemonhunters allies to represent some more characterful Adeptus Mechanicus units. Electro Priests counts as Archo-Flagellants, Archtechnomagos counts as Inquisitor, Grey Knight Grand Master or Canoness, Praetorians count as Grey Knight Terminators, etc.
For the basic infantry I use the Abhumans and Slave Levies doctrines (from White Dwarf), which perfectly represent what one would expect Adeptus Mechanicus field infantry would be. I call them Hattiphnatii as I found no fitting Adeptus Mechanicus unit type, and they remind me of such creatures from Moomins. ;) On the other hand, to represent Skiitarii I use Hardened Veterans or Storm Troopers. I would be really grateful for a list of other characterful units with what they sort-of do and how they look!

I’ve noticed that a lot of Adeptus Mechanicus players use the army as an opportunity to paint and model some pretty unusual things, which can be awkward if you then want to use them with an existing rules-set. Was the armylist worked out before you started painting, or did the models you had completed dictate the choices you made?

I wanted to make use of a particular doctrine (Slave Levies) and I needed models for the job. I already had models for Skiitarii, so I needed something less-armoured and more fragile looking. I don’t like to play with units I don’t have models to represent, so I was compelled to make the models even before I playtested the list. But it was the need to field some particular units that made me make the models.

Let’s get back to the models. With such an unusual appearance, did you have any problems finding opponents, or were they generally pretty enthusiastic about playing a non-standard army?

Generally I’ve met only very kind players who were more than happy to play with this army, even though it meant I needed to ask them if they could not punish my just because my tanks are taller than trees and buildings. Everyone was more than happy to accept it and treat them as if they were size 3 not 4 ;) Even on tournaments where the rules stated every hill had the exact height for line-of-sight purposes, I was given no bad looks for asking if the hills that would normally obscure a Leman Russ could obscure my Battleknights too.

One of the things that strikes me is how standardised the army looks, which helps it look like a unified military force rather than a bunch of random conversions. Was this something you had in your mind when making them?
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Compare the Hattiphnatii to the tracked heavy weapon in the basic infantry.
It’s mostly due to the fact that there are only 5 basic infantry designs, and all are in very similar poses. The tracked chassis used for both the hattiphnatii riders and heavy weapons is the exact same model. I would like it to be available, but I’m afraid the shape may be too complex for mass casting.
This was intentional. I knew that I could make any more standing-out models later, I just wanted a solid core that looked mass-produced for the time being.

What are your favourite parts of the force?

For me the favourite models must be the Battleknights. They draw so much attention! All joints and weapons are magnetised, so if I ever bore with IG I could just make a new set of weapons for them and field them as any other tanks!
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On the other hand, the Hattiphnatii riders are my favorite conversion, showing what can be easily done with the basic models. I just cut the hatiiphnatii models just below the waist, and put a magnet inside to connect them to the tracked chassis. The weapons were my other project that now looks a bit dated, but I will surely revisit them when I make models for some close combat-oriented troops!
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On a final note, are there any further plans for this army, or is it completed?

Right now I need something to represent Seraphim and something to represent models in Terminator armour. I already started on 5 designs for both unit types, but this time I want to put more time into the details! They are even thinner and taller than my Hattiphnatii models…
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Top secret pics of the upcoming additions to the range.

Thanks for your time, Lukasz.
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bigdaddy - September 13, 2010 06:48 PM (GMT)
Some news about the dark mechanicus made by Hortwerth's :

very cool update.

Ironmonger - September 15, 2010 04:50 PM (GMT)
LOVE the work and the updated site!

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