Ship, Captain, Crew: Skarre, Admiral of the Black Fleet

Doug Hamilton

One of the bigger projects I’ve ever worked on began last year with the sculpting of Skarre, Admiral of the Black Fleet.

I had known she was coming when Matt Wilson mentioned her to me in a casual conversation—he told me his vision of Skarre on this broken ghost ship and how big and amazing it could be. At that time, Matt was going to concept Skarre himself, and as many of you know, I love working from his concepts because of the character he brings to his work and his more simplified style of portraying the denizens of the Iron Kingdoms. So, I was pretty excited to learn of this. I bothered Matt about the art until he finally broke the news that studio concept artist Nate Feyma was ultimately going to be doing this one (probably because Nate is awesome), and so I had to continue to wait. Nate was going to have his hands full coming up with the scale and look of the ship—plus a new incarnation of Skarre! When the day finally came that Nate had wrapped up the final version, I think we all had the same thought: this is frickin’ awesome…but how in the world are we going to make this?!

From the sculpting side, there are really three parts to this project: Ship, Captain, Crew. Originally, I was scheduled to sculpt the entire project, but due to time constraints, we were able to recruit Nate Brooks to handle the “Ship” part. There is no way I could have pulled off the beautiful work Nate did on this, and so I’ve asked him if he could take some time to talk about it.


Nate Brooks

When Ron Kruzie approached me to sculpt the ship for Skarre 3, I don’t think I would have needed to see the artwork in advance before saying yes. After all, Cryx was my first Faction for WARMACHINE, and Skarre has been my preferred warcaster since the early days of the game. But when the final concept showed up in my email, I was floored. In fact, I’m not sure if my initial response to seeing it is even appropriate to write in this article.

Sculpting the ship presented many interesting challenges. Probably the largest of them, which would in turn provide the most satisfying outcome, was sculpting the wave of souls that propels the ship across land.

The challenge at hand was to give the souls a “wave-like” feel while retaining the iconic look of souls in the Iron Kingdoms. We usually see souls in single wisps spiraling around a character or warjack, but Skarre 3 has a mass of them flowing up from the ground, breaking through the hull of the ship, and crashing into the roof of the lower deck.

I sculpted the form of the wave first and placed a bunch of skulls in the areas where the wave would be breaking. I liked the idea of having a higher concentration of souls at the peak of the wave. Once this was blocked out and approved, I moved on to detailing all the wispy soul trails flowing from the back of each skull.

I went through a lot of iterations trying to find the perfect balance of soul wisps. The first pass didn’t have enough; it looked too liquid, like the souls were emerging only where the wave was breaking. The second had too many. It managed to look like a huge mass of souls tightly packed together, but it lost the feel of a wave flowing over the landscape. After some back and forth (add a soul here, remove another one there, make that one less squiggly), I think we came up with a great balance that feels in line with the existing model range but is also something unique and very cool.

I traded in my Cryxian ways a while back for the might of the Motherland but now the sea is calling me home once more. My pirate queen rides again.


Doug Hamilton

Skarre has always been a favorite of mine; from the early days of WARMACHINE, I loved that we had this great-looking female with horns leading a force…and she was a pirate to boot! This was going to be my second version of Skarre (having sculpted the Gen Con Beer Model of Skarre the previous year), so my excitement was as high as it could be for this one.

I wanted to convey Skarre loving what she does—an almost happy look, her hair blowing like in an ’80s rock video, gun in the air while cruising the IK, pillaging and plundering with her girls.


The Crew was going to be fun. I normally receive a piece of concept art from Ron Kruzie and Mike Vaillancourt that details what they are looking for, and this guides me in the right direction. Having just worked on the Satyxis Raider resculpts for Axiara Wraithblade and Severa Blacktide, I had a pretty good feel for just what a Satyxis should look like. And I was going to get an opportunity to show it because the reply to my question, “Where are the concepts?” was “Do what you want!”

So, I did.

One of the really fun things I was able to do last year was to have the community help out with designing one of the crew. I spent about a week on the Cryx Facebook group, interacting with community members and discussing different options and ideas for how to design her. Our end results were pretty sweet; I was very pleased with how much fun we had and how interesting our conversations were. Oh, and the other two crew members turned out pretty nice as well! A very pirate feel to them and an overall good-looking crew (yep, I am biased).

I hope everyone enjoys this massive project by the studio and its end result; I know we are very proud of the final product. And now I’m looking forward to seeing some crazy mods and brilliant paint jobs on these models!

Now, go preorder Skarre and her crew and get started!