As I mentioned in my Imperial Navy post the other day, the Ratings I'm converting wouldn't be the same without a few tattoos.
As I'm sure the naval types amongst you will know, tattoos have been popular with sailors since the days of Captain Cook. Ever the superstitious lot, historic tattoos had plenty of meanings and symbolism - they brought luck, whether ensuring a sailor would find his way home or wouldn't drown or ensured good chances in a fight. They also marked certain milestones and achievements of sorts.
Of course there's quite a bit of varitey in the interpretation of tattoos and often there's personal meaning there too, but I wanted to have a go at representing some tattoos that the Voidsmen (and women) or the Imperial Navy might have. The designs above are all hastily drawn by my not-so-fair hand) with the exception of the skulls which were borrowed from the Imperial font. Whilst some of the symbolism is similar to historic tattoos, the imagery generally isn't - and where the historic imagery is requisitioned the meaning I've given it is different (the Navigation/Compass Star for example, that often had the same significance as my "Ship's Wheel").
I tried to keep the designs simple so that even I stood a chance of painting them freehand (albeit in very simplified forms), and tried not to echo any existing imagery already established in-universe. For example, the eye I tried to make sure didn't look too much like those already seen (particularly of the Chaos variety), or looked like they could be associated with another faction or group etc. Although I've now realised a couple look like those associated with Imperial psykers... nevermind. I was also wary of making sure that the Ship's Wheel didn't look too much like the Chaos symbol. And I haven't used a shark as of yet, as it'd look too much like the Carcharadon Chapter badge. You get the idea.
I did consider some "spacey" designs, but they just didn't look right. I might try an interpretation of a void whale...
This is still very much work in progress, and your suggestions would be welcomed. I have a few particular questions:-
- What could the "Miscellaneous" tattoos represent?
- How many boarding parties should a Rating be part of before he can have the crossed cutlasses tattooed?
- What could the Rope (Line in proper speak) Knot mean? In modern terms it often means the individual is a deckhand.
- What is a sufficient distance to have travelled to get a rope band, similarly how long/far in the warp to get the chain band? It needs to be long enough to be noteworthy but not ridiculous
- Which meaning of the Trident sounds best? Do you have any other suggestions (I just like the design...)
- For the Fish tattoo, is 5 years long enough to be marked in such a way?
None of this is really that important, and essentially this is just a throwaway feature for a Kill Team / small force - but why not be consistent and do it properly...