The Eldar Sketchbook is a book filled with the original Eldar concept art by Jes Goodwin, available in limited quantities only on Games Workshop/Warhammer store birthdays. A must have for any Eldar aficionado. Last weekend I took a five hours drive to acquire mine, so let's see if the book is worth it. More after the jump, including a comprehensive list of all the artworks included.


The Eldar sketchbook is a beautiful hardback tome, same size and thickness as a codex book, with a page count of about 90 pages. The luxurious cover has a textured linen effect, and there is silver embossed type. A real eye-pleaser. The paper inside is matt like real sketch paper, and the reproduction and printing quality of the black-and-white pencil artworks is excellent. You can even make out eraser marks. The book is 30 pounds/39 Euro, and printed in China.

Jes Goodwin the mastermind behind the creation of the enigmatic Eldar race, and also the creator of the iconic Space Marine power armour suit. Together with John Blanche he is probably the most influencial designer and artist of Games Workshop. In case of the Eldar, Jes is the lead designer and concept artist since the Space Elves of Rogue Trader became the Eldar that we know and love today.


His sketches have been shared several times before, in White Dwarf and on the GW website blog, and in the "Gothic and the Eldritch" art book, released by Black Library in 2001. For those who are lucky to have met Jes in person, he often brings his sketches to Games Days, Open Days and Warhammer Fests.

The Eldar Sketchbook is dedicated to Jes and features only his artwork.

Contents:

  • Foreword (3 pages, including 2nd era Avatar and Dire Avenger on craftworld surroundings artwork)
  • Rogue Trader/2nd Ed era Avatar (4 pages)
  • RT/2nd Ed era Farseer and Warlocks (4 pages)
  • 4th Ed metal Farseer (2 pages)
  • 7th Ed Warlock and Farseer Jetbike parts (2 pages, not including Jetbike concept art),
  • RT era and 4th Ed limited edition metal Bonesinger (2 pages)
  • 4th Ed Eldar Autarch sketches (2 pages)
  • 4th Ed Prince Yriel sketches (2 pages)
  • Eldar Corsair banner designs (2 pages)
  • 2nd Ed Banshees (2 pages), 4th Ed Banshees including several Exarch configurations (4 pages)
  • 2nd Ed Striking Scorpions (2 pages), 4th Ed Scorpions including several Exarch configurations (5 pages)
  • RT era Eldar raiders (1 page)
  • 2nd Edition Swooping Hawks (4 pages)
  • 2nd Ed Dire Avengers (2 pages), 4th Ed Banshees including several Exarch configurations (7 pages)
  • 4th Eldar Equipment as pouches and grenades (1 page)
  • 2nd Ed Fire Dragons (2 pages), 4th Ed Dragons including several Exarch heads (4 pages)
  • 2nd Ed Dark Reapers (2 pages), 4th Ed Reapers including several Exarch heads (2 pages)
  • RT/2nd Ed era Eldar Militia (Guardian, 1 page)
  • 3rd Ed plastic Guardian (1 page)
  • 5th/6th Ed plastic support platform (only weapons, 1 page)
  • 4th Ed Heavy Weapon platform, mainly operator arm and heads (1 page)
  • 4th Ed War Walker (3 pages, including an older version with closed cockpit)
  • 7th Ed Eldar heavy weapon designs for Wraithknights and Nightshade Interceptors (1 page)
  • RT/2nd Ed era Rangers (1 page), 4th Ed Ranger Longrifles (1 page)
  • 7th Ed plastic Wraithguard (6 pages)
  • 4th Ed plastic Wraithlord (5 pages plus 1 page with tabbard designs)
  • 7th Ed Wraithknight (6 pages)
  • 7th Ed Nightshade Interceptor/Hemlock, subtle differences to the final model (2 pages)
  • 5th Ed plastic Fire Prism (2 pages)
  • Sketches for Eldar architecture, 2nd Ed and 4th Ed era (2 pages)
  • Imprint (1 page)


While there is quite a lot to sink your teeth into, there is also a lot of stuff missing: Phoenix Lords, plastic Farseer and Autarch, Jetbikes, Vyper Jetbikes, Falcons and Wave Serpents, Weapon Platforms, Harlequins, Warp Spiders, Shining Spears; Epic, Battlefleet Gothic and Forge World models, such as Cobras, Nightwings and Phoenix Bombers, Lynx and Hornets. I know that there must be concept art by Jes for most of this stuff, as some have been printed in older White Dwarfs (like Falcon sketches, back in the 90s when the Falcon was released) or have been photographed at various events (like Eldar Titans, Nightwings and Scorpions, google them).


95% of the modern era sketches are pretty much identical to the final models, only in a few cases there are earlier design steps shown. There is for example an earlier War Walker design with closed canopy, a first rough Wraithknight sketch and the artwork of the Nightshade Interceptor has much closer ties to the Nightwing and Razorwing (and looks better than the final model in my opinion). Often you find unused designs for alternate heads and gear, for example alternate Exarch sketches for the metal/Finecast Aspect Warriors released for the 4th Edition Eldar codex, including the missing  Exarch weapon loadouts and bare heads, alternate Warlock helmets for the Warlock Skyrunner kit or alternate back vanes for the Wraithknight (most of them would have looked better than the ones that come with the kit). This is no real surprise, as GW only wants to show you stuff you can actually buy, to not disappoint people with concepts that will never be translated into a sculpt.


Pretty much all of the Rogue Trader and 2nd Ed artwork has been taken from The Gothic and Eldritch, however the art is printed larger in The Eldar Sketchbook. On the other hand, The Gothic and Eldritch contains some Eldar starships, pilots and what I think is an early Vyper sketch, that isn't found in The Eldar Sketchbook.


Verdict

The Eldar Sketchbook is a beautifully made book and definately a must for any Eldar and Jes Goodwin fans. It doesn't come cheap, but the price is in line with what you would expect for a limited Games Workshop publication. Annoyingly, you can only get the book at store birthdays, and most stores will only get five copies, which can be gone pretty fast, depending on your community. This should have really been a general release, handled by Black Library.

The bigger downside is that the book is nowhere complete. Maybe GW wanted to test the waters with this book and save some stuff for a second volume? Or maybe they just decided to keep the page count down and the missing sketches will never see the light of day.

So Games Workshop, Jes, when you read this, please bring us a second volume! And a Dark Eldar and Harlequin sketchbook while you're at it, too. Or  jut start doing concept art books for all your ranges.

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