Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Art of Robert Cirillo

The concept series is my schizophrenic attempt to shine light on the art that inspires me. I always do some of my best work when working from concept sketches. I find the hard lines and white space conducive to creation as they give you just enough definition to get you going, while still leaving space to do your own thing. Here's hoping you find these sketches as helpful and inspiring as I do.
For this week's installment of the Concept Series, we go with an obvious choice: Roberto Cirillo. This talented artist was contracted by Games Workshop to churn out a pile of concept sketches for the 4th Edition Tyranid release, and in an unprecedented move, the company posted a gallery of what must have been every sketch Cirillo did. In the interest of making sure that Gallery of Tyranid Win isn't lost to Tyranid Hobbyists, I'm reposting it here.

Sadly, Cirillo's work for the Tyranids was a one-time thing, and he was not added as a fixture of the studio (I think he was only ever involved on one more GW project: Tau Empire?). However, if you're hurting for some more Cirillo 40k sketches, you could always contract the man to make you some sketches as he is available for freelance work. That being said, if you contact him seeking to commission him, be sure to respect the fact that he's a professional artist, and--as a group of well-meaning Warpshadow members discovered--he won't be doing any work for free.

Roberto Cirillo's Homepage

The entire collection of sketches numbers something like 49, so here's a link to the full album. I'll be picking out some of my favourites/some of the most inspiring of them below.

Despite this avalanche of inspiration being intended for the 4th Edition release, when the 5th Edition Tyranid codex hit, and everyone was moaning about there being no model for the Doom of Malantai or no other option than the Tyrant bonesword, the wise went back to Cirillo's sketches. The concepts have aged well--indeed, they seem to suffer a bit from what I found with Vermis' Tyrant Guard sketch: the concepts are so excellent and detailed that I find myself being disappointed that they weren't fully realized in model form.

In terms of still being useful, if you're needing some original designs for boneswords to include on your custom Swarmlord or Prime, Cirillo's got you covered:
If you're Lost when it comes to a unique, zoanthrope-looking way to represent the Doom of Malantai, Cirillo's got a whole pile of answers for that, too:
Here's a Cirillo sketch that I drew heavily from for my Exocrine:
Here's one I'm still in the process of realizing for a converted Broodlord (the one of the right; Hydra is currently working on the left-hand one):
And that is only really skimming the surface as Cirillo did 3 or 4 sketches for each of the models he was re-imagining, as well as detail sketches that focus on specific areas of the creatures. If you've never seen the sketches before, you really ought to check them all out.

I know that I found them so mind-expanding that I still intend to convert models to match most of the sketches you'll find in that album. The only issue is that I have know idea when I'll find the time to do any of it! If you're as obsessed with coming up with new and interesting Tyranid beasties, I highly recommend taking some time to peruse the album and see if there isn't something in there that is just the thing for the next model you were thinking about creating.


  1. Hi Hydra,
    just stumbled acroos your blog and this article and I have to say: Whoa I'm so gald those sketches were not lost in cyberspace after closing the HF:Moloch site...

    I cannot much more than fully agree to you about those as source for inspiration. i'd even say, that some of the contemporary creatures, for example the tyrannofex or the DoM where further evolutions based on Cirillo's sketches.

    Besides this, your stuff is also very inspiring, to bad a lack of time and other distractions somehow hinder me frequently improving my own skulpting skills.

    Cheers Mortequin, over there on Warpshadow

  2. Dude. Not Hydra; Mr_Pink.

    If you're looking for Hydra, he can now be found here:
    And the peasants rejoiced!

    And, yes, Mortequin: I think that Roberto did some phenomenal work that is only now being fully realized, nearly a decade later, thanks to the swank plastic casting techniques.

    Also, you should check out my How To Sculpt series of articles here on the blog if you want to improve your skillz ;)