Wednesday, April 27, 2022

GALLERY: Jon Davies' Beasts of Chaos

Jon Davies' Beasts of Chaos

I've long been a fan of Jon Davies' (known as JP Miniatures online) fantastic Beasts of Chaos army. They're the perfect blend of dark and twisted and really embody the "True Children of Chaos" ethos that the Beasts profess. When I saw that he was posting up new pictures of them with some wonderfully thematic background I just knew I had to ask him if he'd like to show them off on here, and luckily he said yes!

Warcry Gors

Tyler: How did you first get into the hobby?

Jon: I think like the vast majority of my generation I was first enticed by the LoTR range as a kid, and after mutilating countless riders of Rohan I discovered 40K and Fantasy and have been hooked ever since.


Tyler: What drew you to the Beasts of Chaos as an army?

Jon: I think the possibilities for conversions and their whole dark savagery appealed the most to me. As with all things chaos, it is really easy to let your imagination run wild but with beasts you are not limited by questions like ‘but is this idea nurgle/khorne/slaanesh/tzeentch enough?’ With beasts if you see a horror film and get inspired by some particularly gribbly monster you can make a conversion and add it to the back of your unit of gors and know that as long as you haven't painted it florescent pink it is going to augment the mismatched army of monsters feel rather than distract from it.


Tyler: How did you go about collecting them? Did you have a strong internal narrative in mind, or were you just adding what you liked the look of, or did you add units that would perform best for you in the game?

Jon: To be honest when I started painting my beasts I had no real intention of playing at all. I was purely thinking about making a rag tag collection of gors just because I love the concept and this gradually morphed into a couple of playable units and I started playing a few games with friends and I paid more attention to the rules and unit composition etc. I still am definitely not a competitive player and the army reflects that, I almost always lose miserably! 


For me it's much more about the story and I enjoy the challenge of making a unit that is totally converted but still looks close enough to what it represents to not confuse people too much. For example, my skyfires (tzentigors) which contain enough of the original kit and weapons to be obvious (hopefully!)

Ketai Kotaki Art

Tyler: Your Beasts of Chaos have a very distinctive and unique look. Can you tell us a bit about how you developed this aesthetic?

Jon: The aesthetic was actually quite a lengthy process, early on in the project I got really inspired by some artwork I found for the game Guild Wars 2 by Ketai Kotaki. It has this incredible desaturated colour scheme with these dark but also strangely noble monsters. I absolutely adored it and spent a long time trying to recreate something similar on some test miniatures. Eventually I managed to get something that matched the overall feel quite well and have been using it on almost all of my beasts since with some slight modifications and tweaks as I have found ways to improve certain steps.


Tyler: They have a fairly realistic color palette, but still have pops of bold color. Can you talk a bit about how you painted them?

Jon: So the key is basically making all of the major parts of the model very desaturated, and almost exclusively using browns and sepias. In my test models I highlighted everything up to pure white but it looked too stark and ghostly. In the end the key was using pallid witch flesh for the highlights, it has a lovely off white colour to it that matches the warmth of the various browns without making them look like they are in an incredibly artificially bright room. The skin for example is rakarth flesh with an aggrax wash followed by developing the shadows with mournfang brown and the highlights with rakarth flesh and increasing amounts of pallid witch flesh. The other key to the paint scheme is that in order to make the models look visually interesting (and not just flat brown), I needed to add some contrast. As this wasn’t possible with colour contrasts I tried to emphasise the contrast between dark and light parts of the model. The metals for example were painted incredibly dark (using Vallejo gunmetal as a base) to better contrast with the skin.


Tyler: There are so many amazing conversions in your army, but for me the Ghorgon and Pestigor particularly stand out. How did you approach tackling such an involved conversion, especially with the Ghorgon?

Jon: Often I get an idea for a conversion from something totally unrelated to the hobby. In the case of the Ghorgon for example I was thinking how creepy it would be to have a slenderman style beast with disturbingly long limbs. I then remembered the forgeworld Mourngul with the long creepy arms and decided it would be a perfect base. The problem then was finding legs that would work (I ended up cutting up a toy plastic giraffe)! Some parts of my conversions are due more to practicalities. For example in the case of my Ghorgon I now had some long creepy giraffe legs and long creepy arms but no midriff, a pingpong ball and greenstuff later and you have this creepy distended stomach that I think really works well (even if it was quite disturbing to paint!)


Other conversions are the result of me wanting a particular unit and me thinking that having my own unique take on them would be fun. For example my centigors are very involved conversions using parts from lots of different kits, the body of a marauder horseman horse, the chest of a blood reaver, arms from ungors and blightlord heads. 

Centigor Inspiration

Although they look very complicated it was mostly a case of me trying to match the idea I had for them, in this case a slightly more noble looking centaur (like in the image above.)


Tyler: Do you get to play many games with your army?

Jon: I do now much more than I used to. I am English but am living in Spain so it has taken a while to find people who enjoy the same aspects of the game as me. Also it can be tricky to play in another language (the words for ‘charge’ and ‘defecate’ are unforgivingly similar for someone learning Spanish who wants to play AoS…)

Kranek Belagor

Tyler: Any plans on future additions to the army?

Jon: Most definitely, I almost always have an idea for the beasts in the back of my mind waiting for the time/money to make it happen. At the moment I am working on an updated version of my general Kranek Belagor who I play as belakor in game. Since he got his update, his old model has seemed a little underwhelming so I am currently making this new version to better fit his profile and fill his new much larger base!

Dark Gribbly

Tyler: If there was one new model/unit of models you could add to the Beasts of Chaos army in a future release, what would it be?

Jon: Personally I would love to see updates more than new models. Although lots of the beasts range is simply amazing there are definitely certain units that are showing their age. The beastgrave warband has shown how amazing new beasts models could look so I will keep my fingers crossed for that at some point. Having said that, I do think a Malagor or Morghur reincarnation for AoS would be spectacular.


Tyler: Any final thoughts?

Jon: I just wanted to say thank you for the chance to share my work here. I don't think it can be overestimated how much inspiration comes from just seeing other people’s miniatures on sites like this, it creates a lovely sense of community and it is great to just be a part of it.


Tyler: A big thank you to Jon again for taking the time to answer my questions and share his amazing army. There are seriously so many amazing conversions and models in this Beasts army, I just don't have room to share them all here.

Centigor Drinking

You should definitely go check out more of his work on his Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. He recently just did an awesome Alarielle conversion as well. I've always loved the Beasts of Chaos, and armies like this only reinforce my love for them. These are truly the dark and twisted things of Chaos that lurk in the dark corners of the forests.

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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