Among the Space Wolves, Ulrick is the eldest: in fact, it is even older than Logan Grinmar, who has fought for over 700 years.
Ulrick has gained great fame during the Armageddon First War. Ulrick, as Wolf Guard, was at the service of Lord Kruger ‘s Great Company. During an assault made by the Chaos Space Marines, when three Berserkers of Khorne killed the latter, Ulrick, even without its axe, faced them in a bloody battle, destroying them all. The next day, Ulrick was renamed "the butcher" and appointed as commander in place of Lord Kruger; however, it refused this honour because it felt it was more a warrior than a leader. Nevertheless, it accepted the role of Wolf Priest, thus discovering its true vocation; veteran of many wars, Ulrick had accumulated such knowledge and tactical combat, combined with great wisdom, to make it certainly the best teacher for any aspiring wolf.
This combination of experience, and its natural ferocity, made it a truly deadly warrior, almost unparalleled. Like the other Wolves Priest, Ulrick also serves as a cult leader and spiritual guide; its main task is to prevent the Wulfen curse from overwhelming the Space Wolves.
His thick white mane is enclosed within the Wolf Russ sacred helmet, an ancient helmet created by the Emperor’s personal Artificers and given to Leman Russ at the time of the Space Wolves constitution; it is an object that infuses a mysterious fear in all those who cross its terrible stare. Its majestic and terrifying figure shines in the black armour it wears. In battles it shows off its sizzling Crozium Arcanum that affects all infidels and traitors without any scruple. Unlike other Apothecaries, who tread the battlefield with balms, ointments, potions, and herbal cures, the Wolves Priests use the Morkai Fang, a many blades device that extracts from dying warriors their progenoid glands. These will be transplanted to another being to allow its essence to continue living and fighting.
During all my painting life I've found a special connection with the background that encompasses the Warhammer 40.000 and particularly the Space Wolves. Basically, and for the newcomers to the subject to know what I speak about, I will comment that Space Wolves are one of the many Space Marine Chapters that populate the fascinating world of 41st Millennium. The Marines are genetically modifies supermen that have become the cornerstone on which supports the continuation and expansion of the human race in the universe.
Of these supermen, perhaps the bravest and savagest of all are the Space Wolves. Wild warriors full of fury, hatred and ferocity able to give his own life for his fellow herd.
This is what I like the most about them, that image of hard men combined with unprecedented loyalty, that characteristic iconography as runes, wolf tails, strings and skins that make them unique, easily recognizable and fearsome.
For the continuity and proper war functionality of the Herd, the figure of a Wolf Priest is vital. These strange characters in black armor and battle- hardened profile are responsible for recruiting and training new warriors among the youngest of the tribes of Fenris, their icy home planet. Surrounded by an aura of mystery that inspires respect and unusual fear, the Wolf Priest observes the battlefield as tests with pride how his apprentices devastate the enemy.
Certainly the most famous and respected Wolf Priest of all time is Ulrik the Slayer. This character has been present in the universe of Warhammer 40,000 since I started painting more than 20 years ago. The only figure that represents it is an old piece of 1992 in which he is shown with his signature skull helmet wolf, his crozius arcanum (the staff) and the famous plasma gun that accompanies him in every battle. This character has always intrigued me, and I've always wondered how his face (always covered by the helmet on the figure and illustrations to represent) would be. So, in 2006, I decided it would be a good idea to pay tribute to this warrior giving it a new more robust armor, a battle buddy and a human face, but keeping his three signs of identity: helmet, crozius arcanum and plasma gun.
I am not good sculpting, I'm actually pretty bad, to be sincere… So, knowing my limitations, I opted for the ever grateful “cut’n’paste technique” (i.e. taking pieces of various miniatures and combining them -adding a little putty in the joints- to get the desired result). Unfortunately I do not have photos of the figure before starting the paintwork , but to give you an idea of the situation it consists of 15 pieces of different miniatures.
It was clear to me what I wanted from the beginning: to create the image of a veteran Wolf that observes the battle from atop a hill with the feeling of having everything under control.
Once the piece was finished he next step was to analyze how to paint it, what colors to use, and in what environment place it. This was probably the easiest part because, as I said before, Wolf Priests wear black armor, they live in an icy planet and its iconography is usually standard enough. So I opted for three main colors: black, ochre and red, and two contrast ones: yellow and turquoise. I chose to use cool colors that were in line with the snow and ice that had planned to add to the base later.
In most cases the first part I paint in a figure is the face. This is because in this way the figure starts to come to life from the first moment. With this face side I knew I wanted to use a darker shade than usual. The problem of face painting with some degree of realism is that there are so many different shades and colors to be used in various areas that it is impossible to list them. Basically I opted for a brown/ochre warm color for the base, that I was shading adding a darker brown (Citadel Scorched Brown) with some Blue Oxford (Vallejo). The lights I did want them to be somewhat cooler, so I added Space Wolves Grey and Bleached Bone (Citadel) to the base, especially emphasizing the forehead, eyebrows, nose and cheekbones. In order to give some vitality I applied some strategic glazes with oranges, ochres and reds in areas where the blood circulation is palpable (cheekbones , forehead and nose).
For the black color of the armor I used a mix of black and English Uniform (Vallejo) for the base, highlighting it with some Space Wolves Grey (what a better color for this!). For the shading I used pure matt black. In this part the use of the airbrush to provide uniformity, accurate blendings and a more natural light was essential.
When painting the various coats of the piece, I knew that I wanted them to be based in different shades of ocher and brown, but their luminosities and halftones needed to be different. For the tabard and cape used the same base color: Vomit Brown (Citadel) with a tip of Dark Sea Blue (Vallejo) to make it a bit duller. The highlights were done adding some Ivory (Vallejo) gradually to the base. And the shadings were executed with some washes of Brown Ink (Vallejo) into the deeper areas, and finally also with some pure black ink. Finally, and with the intention of giving more vibrancy and color to these areas, I applied certain midtones with glazes of orange tonalities (more alive in the cloak and duller in the tabard).
The wolf was an element that, despite being in the background, I wanted to give a certain importance. I wanted it to have a very light overall hue (at the end of the day is a snow wolf), but I did not want him to "get lost " in the snowy terrain. For this reason I chose a light color based on an ochre giving him very distinct and contrasting areas. The base coat color is Bleached Bone (Citadel) dulled with a tip of English Uniform (Vallejo). And from there, for the highlights I used Ivory from Vallejo and for the shades I used washed of Brown Ink mixed with Dark Sea Blue in the deeper areas. So in that way the wolf could be distinguished from the surrounding elements: snow, Ulrik and terrain.
Another point to consider is the yellow areas. In the armor of the Space Wolves there are always elements that give this color a point of vividness to the miniature. In this case the color I used for the base was Bubonic Brown (Citadel) that is a dull dark yellow that I shaded with English Uniform and, for the final shadows, I mixed with a little Blue Oxford (Vallejo). The highlights were done using Ice Yellow (Vallejo), to confer even more vivid yellow areas.
Once the process of painting the figure ended, I thought it might be good idea to give some glazes in the deeper areas with some light turquoise, in order to create some contrast with the general tones used in it.
The base does not really have much mystery as it is only a couple of pieces of slate distributed on a horizontal base and airbrushed, drybrushed and watered with oil paints to give it some black and brown hues. To make artificial snow used Woodland Scenics artificial snow mixed with PVA glue to attach it to the base. The biggest challenge was to “stain" the miniature with snow to give it a touch of realism. I've always been afraid to stain a figure with the effect of mud, dust, several scuffs, etc. Normally these effects are only applied in the lower parts of the figure, which are more in touch with the ground. But in this case it was very clear for me that Ulrik would be in a snowstorm, and most of the areas should have some snow. The way of applying these scattered flakes was quite simple: I had to slowly paste in random areas artificial snowflakes with a brush moistened with white glue around the figure, being careful not to overload certain areas. Finally I thought it could be a good idea to add some icicles hanging from under the stones. So to simulate ice used several cylindrical pieces of clear plastic warmed with a lighter to get the desired shape. Afterwards I glue them under the slate stones and proceeded to varnish them with the glossiest varnish I could find.
Of all the figures I have done since 1990 this is my favorite one, because it represents what I was looking from the beginning: a real Space Wolf. And everyone knows I love Space Wolves. ;)