Tony Ackland is an artist who has worked on pieces found in many works in the tabletop gaming genre over the years, although his primary claim to fame is quite literally designing most of the Chaos and Daemon aesthetic for Games Workshop and Citadel.
Tony Ackland grew up like a typical early modern nerd, inspired by both science fiction and fantasy short stories and movies, particularly by the fantastic cover art to movie posters, music albums, and pulp magazines. Originally a freelance miniature sculptor, Ackland met Bryan Ansell at a convention and sculpted a few pieces and provides artwork for Ansell's cofounded company Asgard Miniatures. After Ansell sold his stock to his partners in 1981 and went to work with Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson to found Citadel Miniatures while Ackland followed his friend to do the same work for them.
While initially Ansell butter heads with Livingstone and Jackson over company policy followed by selling his shares and a leave of absence, the poor management of the other two lead to them to put Ansell entirely in charge of Citadel upon his return. Ansell immediately hired Ackland as a fulltime employee.
Ackland and the rest of the artists shared the workload between advert design, miniature concept, and illustrations. Early on the plan was for Citadel to make a name for itself by producing licensed work for Ral Partha, so Ackland took inspiration from the work of Tom Meier in his designs which notably resulted in Druchii aesthetics. Plans for working with Ral Partha ended when Ansell hired Michael and Alan Perry, two very talented sculptors who preferred a historical look to the typical high fantasy of the time, and the three sculptors worked together to produce the unique Warhammer aesthetic of historical fantasy.
By 1983 Citadel was the most financially successful part of the Games Workshop company under Ansell, while Livingstone and Jackson had used the Fighting Fantasy books to become millionaires. The two sold the company to Ansell with the result being, according to Ackland, more artistic freedom but more "decision by committee" resulting in Ackland focusing his work on Flame Productions, the Games Workshop branch that put out Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay which at the time consisted of just Ackland, Graeme Davis, and Mike Brunton. Flame was treated as a separate company from Games Workshop, technically making Ackland a part-time employee, and the trio worked on various RPG supplements as well as White Dwarf articles (and articles for Warlock, a White Dwarf spinoff). Ackland was put on the team for an RPG project called Confrontation, but most of his work on it was never released as it was decided that the adult-themed game set in the 40k universe should have the themes toned down for a younger audience and extra incentive made to buy miniatures, the result being Necromunda.
By the tail end of third edition Warhammer Fantasy, Ansell was inspired to create a supplement for the forces of evil in the setting. Initially
ripping off inspired by Michael Moorcock works, Ansell created a general theme of four Chaos Gods amd their names which he passed to John Blanche to draw, then after grouping with the creator of both Warhammers Rick Priestley to finish the write-up the entire work was passed to Tony Ackland to draw up everything other than Khorne, Tzeentch, Nurgle, and Slaanesh themselves. Ackland let the inspiration flow, and created desolate hellscapes, nightmarish clusterfucks, all Daemons and mutants, the mortal followers of Chaos, the realms of the gods, and their armies. His work was directly used by the sculptors to create every Daemon used today in Warhammer.
Realm Of Chaos was released in two parts, Slaves To Darkness and The Lost and the Damned, in 1988 and 1990 respectively.
RoC was intended to be one book, but the Ackland and Ian Miller (as well as a handful of freelance) illustrations took up so much space and were deemed necessary that the split in two was necessary.
Meanwhile John Wagner and Alan Grant, the writers of the former Games Workshop licemse Judge Dredd, were hired part-time to create a fifth Chaos God Malal, with Ackland put on max speed producing everything Malal to catch him up with the other four Chaos Gods (Malal hadn't made it into RoC because of copyright issues nobody on staff seemed to understand or care about until that point, as seen below) while the two worked on Malal himself through a comic series about his Champion [Kaleb Daark]]. Unfortunately the two came to disagreements during the writing, which resulted in them lawyering up to decide custody of Kaleb and Malal. This shocked Games Workshop, who apparently were unaware British copyright laws ensured part-timers keep what they create...and most of the concept teams had been shifted to part-time because it was cheaper...
The last work Ackland did for Games Workshop was the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay supplement Plundered Vault in 2005. Later that year Games Workshop issued a list of former employees who need to collect their original pieces, with Ackland at the top of the list. After that, the saga was over and the heart of Chaos officially gone.
- Chaos - All generic types of Daemons and the general look of everything Chaos was the product of Ackland's imagination.
- Dark Elves and Dark Eldar - The look of the Dark (knife-ears) were inspired by taking Ral Partha Elves and making them twisted and evil during the period when Citadel was cooperating with Ral Partha on a united range of miniatures.
- Zoats - Ansell asked the Citadel staff to create something similar to Adzel from Polesotechnic League but less reptilian. Ackland gave him Zoats.
- Fimir - Ansell tasked Graeme Davis with creating a unique race only found in Warhammer. Graeme enlisted Ansell and said they would base it on Fomorians from Celtic myth. Ackland based his design on the depictions of the artist Alan Lee.
- Games Workshop Staff - Thanks to a love of cameos, many of the early Games Workshop staff members appear in-universe in both settings, albeit as generic characters.