Date Posted: 25-02-2021

WFRP – A Rich Vein. By Ralph Horsley

Today, we have a blog post from the incredibly talented Ralph Horsley. You will likely recognise some of the fantastic WFRP cover art and pieces below Ralph has created over the years!

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay – A Rich Vein.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay runs through my life. It kickstarted my career and has been my most extensively played RPG in adulthood, and now I have had the great pleasure to work on the latest book covers with Cubicle 7. 

I began by creating black and white interior illustrations for the First Edition books, Doomstones, Apocrypha Now, and Marienburg: Sold Down the River. The latter also came with a big challenge. I was commissioned to create the pull-out poster map of the city of Marienburg. This involved painting innumerable tiny half-timbered buildings, canals, and boats. My painstaking efforts were rewarded, however, and I was promoted to working on covers. I managed to squeeze a couple in, the Realms of Sorcery and Dwarfs: Stone & Steel, before the Second Edition came and Games Workshop began working on the RPG from their studio. 

By then I was already working on freelance projects with Games Workshop outside of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, so I was familiar with the team. This gave me continuity and further challenges, starting with revisiting Realms of Sorcery, but this time with a full wraparound cover. 

I always relish challenges and being pushed — it really accelerates that learning curve. This was no exception. The painting needed to work as three separate images: front cover, back cover, and whole, whilst also allowing for the title, barcode and other trade dress on top of the painting. Creating a strong composition and narrative in a cover painting is an interesting puzzle under those constraints. 

Following was a companion, the Tome of Corruption (which mirrored the composition), then the epic battling sprawl of the Tome of Salvation. The Thousand Thrones snuck in and another publisher began working on WFRP. The Career Compendium transitioned over, but with the onset of Third Edition, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and I parted ways, but we would meet again soon, of course.

WFRP Fourth Edition

Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.© Copyright Games Workshop Limited 2021 

It was with great delight that I heard the news of WFRP Fourth Edition and better still within the context of being offered the cover artwork for the Core Rulebook and Starter Set. It was a neat idea to reference the very first WFRP cover on the new core rulebook. I enjoyed being able to pay homage to John Sibbick’s original painting. 

The Starter Set let me spread my wings and make my own mark. I had experienced another decade of growth as an artist since the Second Edition, and I tried to bring the entirety of that skill set into play. The iconic characters come with strong personalities, which easily lend themselves to storytelling, and then there are Skaven… 

Rough Nights &  Hard Days is one of my personal favourites with those characters. The tumbling flowing composition evolved quickly and easily (for once!). 

Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.© Copyright Games Workshop Limited 2021 

Then to take those characters and lead them through the entirety of the Enemy Within campaign has been a unique delight. It is a story I loved playing, and part of the experience of working on those pieces has been to revisit the game. At times it can feel like recreating the campaign I played in. It has been pure pleasure to paint the escaping mutant three-legged Goblin from Enemy in Shadows, whose actions start the whole chaotic adventure rolling. And the wrecked barge from Death on the Reik, corpse floating and tentacles emerging from the water, as our heroes travel onwards to the intrigue of Power Behind the Throne. The last couple of covers are painted, just waiting for publication. I can’t wait to share them.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay has been a broad and rich vein that it has been a delight to mine. I feel honoured to have been able to make my own contribution and look forward to continuing to do so. 

Ralph.

Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.© Copyright Games Workshop Limited 2021