Privateer: Major Beth Maddox – Designing a Warcaster

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Get a closer look at the star of the Cygnar starter box!

Designer Mike Vaillancourt shares how Matt Wilson and the design team created the new warcaster’s look…

via Privateer:

 For our newest warcasters and warlocks, Matt Wilson personally handled a majority of their design and by the time Matt submitted Maddox for review she was nearly a final design. Wanting a bit more information I asked Matt to tell me a little about his thought process while working on this concept and to give a bit more background on what makes Maddox tic.

Before and during the design process the three bullet points that Matt had in the back of his head were:

1 — She is heavily tied to the Storm Knights, and as such, her armor takes a lot of visual cues from them. More than any other warcaster before, she reflects the design of the unit she is based on.

2 — Because she is recently returned from being held prisoner in the Protectorate, she got all-new kit. Her armor is voltaic, not steam powered, reflecting the latest in Cygnaran armor technology. There are key similarities to Stryker’s and Nemo’s armor in their later incarnations.

3 — Designing her weapon was particularly fun. I wanted it to be very mechanical with moving parts. It’s supposed to be a sword that could be wielded like a stormglaive, but I wanted it to open up similar to the Storm Guard leader’s weapon that produces the electrical discharge. So, the weapon is asymmetrical, and the cross-guard of the sword actual doubles as the grips when it’s used for its Storm Strike ranged attack. She turns the weapon so that the blade is parallel to the ground, then she pushes the top cross-guard forward while pulling the bottom one down the hilt of the weapon into a pistol-grip position. And from there, she’s ready to light it up!

After Matt Wilson sent along the finished line art, I spent a few minutes laying down a basic color palette for her working with our former studio painter Matt DiPietro. The color pass is what I sent to Nestor Ossandon for the illustration reference. Matt DiPietro also used this color guide as reference for painting the miniature. As I mentioned in my No Quarter article about the Cygnar versus Skorne illustration, I sketched up some alternate pose options for her miniature as well. Those sketches aren’t included as they aren’t as important here.

With her concept completed I moved on to her illustration. Once I saw the moving parts for Maddox’s sword I knew that I wanted to showcase her ranged attack so I came up with this short illustration description.

Description: She stands above a trench on a muddy battlefield firing a burst of electrical energy out of her weapon. This scene takes place at night for dramatic lighting effect. Alternatively, the scene could take place early evening with a dark-gray overcast sky with fires and smoke billowing around her.

Typically I request thumbnail sketches to start off. A thumbnail sketch is a loose drawing that blocks in the major shapes and establishes the basic composition of the illustration. After sketching 3–5 of these, Nestor sends them my way. I then either choose one or offer a quick paint-over to steer the direction of the piece and save him time in exploration. Nestor sent me four sketches and the one I chose was A.


After reviewing the sketches, I knew I needed something else in the scene to help establish scale and to create a living battlefield. As such, I revised my description to add in Firefly and Lancer warjacks in the background. After adding in the requested elements, Nestor sent me a revised sketch to give us an idea of the basic composition and blocking.

Throughout the illustration process, Nestor sent me several works in progress so I could make corrections or adjustments as necessary as he proceeded.

In the last work-in-progress piece, I took the opportunity to make a few adjustments before racing for the final piece. In my draw-over, I adjusted five different areas.

• Narrow her blade, lengthen it, and adjust angles so that it doesn’t look as thick. Adjust the handle height and the circular glowing element by the hilt.
• Smooth out her frizzy hair.
• Increase the size of her shoulder pads.
• Hip pad size increase and make some minor shape adjustments.
• Note the shape changes to the Lancer and the Firefly. Increase the size of the Lancer’s spear and I’ve made some big adjustments to the Firefly as well.

After Nestor applied these notes, I received our final illustration.

So there you have it, the two-dimensional visual development process for Major Beth Maddox!


Cygnar Battlegroup Starter Box $39.99



  • • 4 Highly Detailed, Single-colored Plastic Miniatures with Stat Cards
  • • Basic Training Tutorial Guide
  • • Battle Map
  • • Introductory Guide
  • • WARMACHINE: Prime Rules Digest
  • • 18” Ruler
  • • 4 Six-sided Dice
  • • 10 Focus Tokens
  • • 3 Spell Tokens
  • • Obstacle Card

What do you think of Major Beth Maddox – from a design perspective or on the tabletop?

  • ZeeLobby

    Love these designer insiders. Not huge on the model, but it’s interesting to see why certain aspects were axed/added.

  • Frank Underwood

    I appreciate the lack of boob armour/cleavage
    I wish GW would bring more women into their range

    • ZeeLobby

      LoL. Didn’t even notice, but that’s a good point.

      • Frank Underwood

        I guess you’re less of a perv than me 🙂

  • Hawt Dawg

    Very slick battlebox.

  • Richard Mitchell

    The model is one of those that is better in the flesh than on the photos.

  • Azatoth

    Beth Maddox? I thought it was Sgt. Calhoun!
    “It’s make your mommas proud time!”

  • Crevab

    • Increase the size of her shoulder pads.

    Hehe, of course

  • Victor Hartmann

    Is the Major available as a separate model? I like hers but not the war machines. If not, there’s always ebay

    • Noridaii

      Not yet. But all the casters will be released individually later.

      • Victor Hartmann

        Cool, thanks for the reply. Hers is a a pretty cool model