Sunday, 10 January 2010

Artwork: Soul Reapers - Maps

Ghoul Stars Map Overview

Over at Galaxy in Flames, Big Jim's Minidex is being put through its paces by massive, and enthusiastic playtesting. While this is occuring, I've been working with Jim's ideas in finalising the cover to his ambitious Minidex. However, in the run-up to this, I've been feeding fluff character artwork, watermarks, playtest covers, and the like in order to tease out the heart and soul of the fluff of the project.

A part of the fluff we 40K fanatics like when we read the shiny codices and rulesbooks are the maps! The stellar geography, campaign maps, planetary data sheets, references to warp storms, lost legions, and battles in the stars really stoke the fires of our imagination. All this really pimps up the appeal of 40K, in my opinion, and the well-produced artwork form part of a 'living canon' of 40K which set the tone, scene, details, who, where, when & why of the game.

This epic tapestry of stellar geography is something (I'd like to think) us 40K players like to be a part of. In fact, there are some excellent examples of what I'm talking about at the Bell of Lost Souls downloads section, namely the campaign booklets & minidexes. If you've not seen them yet, I urge you to check them out. Well-painted models, beautifully photographed, and painstakingly crafted maps, with real passion.

When I got involved in the Soul Reapers minidex, it eventually came to my mind that I'd try to produce a few fan-made maps for Big Jim's fluff, just to really spice things up and bring out the real quality of what he's trying to do. One thing is needed when it comes to 40K map-making. Research.

Research, research, research.

Look up the 40K rulebook. 40K codices. Check the Internet. This excellent starmap by Ikkaan is a fantastic source of up-to-date information to place the locations of 40K. Re-check the rulebooks and codices. Sometimes the canon reboots and/or retcons itself, e.g. locations move about or have their histories rewritten (e.g. the position of the Valhalla & Baal systems seem to have moved around over the years), so be as thorough as possible.

It was a real blast producing the Ghoul Stars map overview above, with respect to GW's IP and in homage to the star maps in the fluff section of the current rulebook. I took Big Jim's thoughts and sketch starmap from his website, superimposed it with a current 40K starmap and Ikkaan's, added some new flavourful systems (Nosferatum, Alucard, etc) bearing in mind the relationship between the Cythor Fiends (black templar) fluff, and the new rulebook Thexian fluff, the Death Spectres patrols from Occludus, made some new systems up, hit the blend switch and voila! Instant Star Map which plugs right into the existing 40K canon.

I leave you with 2 preview maps from the Minidex; namely a map of Ehdan (Lair of the Soul Reapers) and the Karpathian Campaign battle map. I had tremedous fun producing these (totally unofficial fan-made illustrations), and you can find the finished products, when posted, at Big Jim's website, and/or the completed Minidex.

Preview: Ehdan, Lair of the Soul Reapers

Preview: The Karpathian Campaign

Note: All Illustration work depicted here is fan art which is completely unofficial and in no way endorsed by Games Workshop Ltd.


  1. I really like the map....especially one planet in particular. ;-)
    Keep the artwork coming, it is fantastic.

  2. I had great fun putting that reference in an 'unknown' system. Glad you like it!

  3. Mags, I'm glad you like the name too! My buddy Greg is referenced in there too.

    Thanks to Menzies, this project is gonna be slick looking!