Saturday, December 29, 2012

Doomsday/Ghost Arks and the magnets that bind them...

This is a bit of a cautionary tale; not because of the Puppetswar head-bike, which itself makes a wonderful Ghost Ark Prow, as you can see from Command Ark Charon, here:

Rather, the caution comes from the other task he and his sister (brother?) ark encompassed; a magnetized conversion to Doomsday Ark. Choosing not to do as others have done (the magnetized  flipping and switching of little guns) I instead took the less wise path of painting and modeling TWO MORE HULLS, which, as you can imagine, takes absolutely forever and tests the limits of human patience. Charon, as you can see, is also a bit longer than the average Ghost Ark: 

And thanks to the addition of coupling bits and the Head-bike, rather off-balance. Nonetheless, I recommend the Head-bike as a nice prow bit. I think it lends the right bit of character to an already wonderful model. GW did a disappointing job with the viking-like prow bits, which is why I whipped up something different for the Doomday Arks altogether: 

I thought the Doomsday cannon needed something more substantial than those underslung orbs, and so fashioned an imposing-looking bit from Annihilation barge backings (since my "barges" have legs on them; see the Tyrannocrons from a year ago).

Now they have more a living insect look that matches the rest of the army. The magnets sit at the opposite end of the hull, tucked into the spine and gun. 

As you can see, this necessitated a bit of fabrication for the Ghost Ark hull, which just plain didn't have a second contact point and was too damn heavy to hang on without one. I rigged up a sort of Resurrection Orb out of a hull piece and some plastic tubing, and anchored it with a metal rod cut to size. Now both of the command sections are these lovely detachable pods. Maybe the Necrons have other war machines for these to attach to? I understand the next Imperial Armor is Necron-oriented, which may prompt me to buy on of these super-expensive tomes after all...

The stalk nestles quite well between the back ranks of the Necron passengers, and makes these models quite a bit more solid than their counterparts. I also altered the operators a bit, giving them the cyclops targeting eyes of the Deathmark/Crypteks to differentiate them from the steersmen of the static arks from so many posts  ago. 

One of them suffered a fractured crown, but really, any minor breakage like this only lends character to the Necrons anyway, so it doesn't bother me. What did bother me was the excruciatingly long process of painting not two, but FOUR HULLS full of little gauss flayers, which is something I don't recommend, at all, ever. Whew!

Also, Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Sculpt from Christmas Past....

Has it really been that long since I've posted? October? Mortarion? Well then. 

This girl (her name is Sirius) has sat on the shelf overlooking my hobby area for well over ten years, and despite being a conversion that required some effort, has never occurred to me to feature here until recently. 

No, really, an hour ago this entry was going to be about Ghost/Doomsday Arks. 

Yes, I've already had Christmas morning. My family celebrates in the afternoon. 

Anyway, a recurring character in sketchbooks of mine throughout the years, her appearance has changed slightly, but overall she's remained quite the same. The figure itself I made for a 3D design course where we were required to make character maquettes prior to CG modeling . I bought a quantity of Green Stuff and delved into my bits box, then set to work running a coat-hanger armature through some parts. A few days of sweat and cursing later and you get this. 

The face is rubbish, I know. I never claimed to be a great sculpting talent, plus there was a deadline, and I was in a "how hard could it be?" mood. The ankles are kind of awful, too. She's based around bits from an EVA model, along with a few other odds and ends. I textured the wraps on her thighs with the handles from my sculpting tools, and there are fingerprints on some of the rougher spots (which turned out to be a blessing, as they lend a rough look to some of the armor bits). Her pose is meant to be halfway between guarding and coming around for a strike with that wicked forearm blade, and she stands freely quite by accident. 

Yes, by accident. Really, I should build a base for her, because she's not that stable. In fact, the blade shown here is the second one, installed quite recently, after she took a tumble off the shelf and the original one broke. Green stuff is so wonderfully flexy that it doesn't break after a big fall, like everything else in creation, and a figure incorporating much of the stuff, it turns out, is quite durable. Not that I'd go tossing it around, mind you.

So much of her weight is on that front leg, though, and she really should be bending a bit more at the waist, but oh well. As imperfect as she is, she's probably my most favorite creation, simply because she came from a sketch. Because of the bits I used, she doesn't even follow most of the details, so she is, in fact, another iteration of the design, and probably my favorite one. 

Even now there are a dozen things that I would do differently if I had to make another one, and yet, there are so many other things to do I wonder if I'll ever find the time? This thing is ten years old, after all, and here I haven't made enough time for regular blog entries. Well, shame on me. I'll try to be more timely, with everything. After all, if you never make time, you'll never have time, right? 

Anyway, Merry Christmas, everybody. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Mortarion.....

For those of you who haven't read his statline and abilities by now, Mortarion, in-game, can pretty much kill an entire standard 2000 point army by himself, with room for afters (providing you never, ever roll a 1). All of the Primarchs, in fact, are ludicrously powerful (and should be), not to mention ludicrously priced (despite preexisting competition)  and by the time FW gets to the Emperor (in 12 books or so) I expect to see 40k's first 1000-point character, if not one that breaks that 4-digit cost. Oh well. At least we get some new, if very pricey, models to look at. I'm not going to gush about the new FW Angron because, well, I think it's rather boring. 

On to Mortarion. 

Mortarion is based on Kabuki Models' Uriel, from their Dark Messiah line. I can't tell if they mean for this line to be a game, a line, a state of mind or whatever, but it is full of some very nice, if reasonably priced, models. My only complaint about them is that heads, being proportionately correct, are too small compared to 40k-scale heads, and so side by side the models would look rather weird. I had originally intended for Uriel to be Sanguinius, but A) his pose is far too static and B) I didn't want to have to green stuff all that hair. Plus, his body was covered in so much lovely death imagery that I figured it was only a short leap to the master of the Death Guard.  The head is from a Valkyrie door gunner, and the scythe blade from an old Rackham dwarf who now swings a more appropriate axe. 

Any interest in seeing Rackham dwarves? They're quite characterful, if oversized. No? Yes? Anyway, moving on...His belt buckle is a rather hastily molded Death Guard crest on a terminator hip pauldron. It didn't come out quite as well as I'd hoped, but still says "Death Guard", doesn't it?

That right arm took a bit of remolding; originally it was palm-down and pointing at... well, you, I suppose. I don't know what the original model was going to do with his not-very-threatening lance, but I thought him blasting away with the Lantern would be more threatening by far. Originally I'd thought to make it out of an actual lantern,  but the lantern bits I'd had on hand were either too big or two small, so more's the pity. 

Kabuki sculpts these really nice shoulder pads with shields for heraldry, so I tried my best for another DG crest. The only problem is, of course, that the are within was way small, and my smallest brush was getting rather fractured at that point. They do sell the shoulder pads separately, by the way. 

I used ork bike exhausts along with some power cables for his backpack, which makes him look rather like a walking chemical plant. They flare out nicely in a wing-like fashion, which I prefer to some of the other 3rd-party reproductions that look more like a walking pipe organ. Speaking of pipe, in hindsight I should've thickened that scythe handle somehow, but the blade has bit of wire running clear through it and around the other side (hidden by that grille) and it's not like I'll be hauling him to a lot of games, anyway. 

He also has this lovely little chained Grim Reaper back there, which is I suppose is the 31st century way of saying "don't wear this in a closed garage". I had thought for some tracery on the cloak, too, but Mortarion is more the working man's Primarch, all about sticking it to overlords on mountain tops, and so I thought he'd be above such finery. Also, I'm a bit lazy and my eyesight's too poor to go putting tracery on everything. 

Vintage model enthusiasts among you will note that the Lantern is, in fact, constructed from the back end of a Battletech Warhammer's PPC. The barrel is, presumably, elsewhere. I had the bit in my box, and it looked just big and retro-sci-fi enough to be a decent facsimile of the artwork, so I decided to go for it. I need to look for a bit showier of a base in the future; the one that came with Uriel was more of a half-shelf, and not very useful or interesting in this case. 

The Primarchs are, of course, giants, towering over even the already towering Astartes. If Azrael here ever ran into Mortarion, he'd be David to Mort's Goliath, although this time Goliath would be stronger, faster, and certainly cleave him in two with that scythe. 

More models, and something of a review next time. 

For all of you in the Northeast, particularly PA, NJ, and NY, stay well, and stay dry!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


This day in 2001, the gates of Heaven irised open to receive more than 3,000 souls. 

Never forget, America, and stay vigilant. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

WIP: Mortarion....

Let's be clear, I hate, hate, hate the Nurgle aesthetic and everything to do with it. However, a Primarch with a big bloody scythe who breathes toxic gas to live is pretty damn cool. Uriel came from Kabuki Miniatures with a big spear and a tiny head, and, having no use for that, I decided to make a Mortarion. 

More to come. 

Happy Monday, people.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

So maybe the Japanese have working, armed mecha now...

I like how they drive it through a downtown section of the city, and everyone behaves like they just see this sort of thing every day.  Me, I need this for my zombie apocalypse escape plan. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Commission: Dark Eldar Raiders

Some more commission work, this time a trio of Dark Eldar Raiders to flesh out a client's transport section for his insane sex maniac elves. Note to self: never, ever do three of them at once again. Not only are you signing up to paint a relatively intricate small vehicle, but you also paint the squad of DE that's riding on the bloody thing, and that's an incredible pain in the ass. Honestly, I don't know how you DE players manage it, much less keep the things intact for transport with all those spiky bits and things sticking out. Honestly. 

The perk of doing three at once is, of course, that you can mix and match the hangers-on to your heart's content (within  the limits of the parts, anyway), as well as the trophy skulls and other oddments. I had a witch barge and an all-helmet barge going, and I'm pretty certain one of those weirdos is swinging a net, too. 

I had a wild impulse to combine some spare sails and put them out to the side, Jabba's Sail Barge style, but the client nixed that idea, preferring to have them stock. It would have given the things a much cooler silhouette, but oh well. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Commission: Adeptus Mechanicus Grand Magos

So this nice fellow from a far-off land had a job for me: replicate my old Grand Magos model. As you can see, one of these things is clearly not like the other. The reason for this is quite simple; me old mate there on the right was made with no small amount of discontinued parts (can you spot the RT dreadnought arm? ), which make replicating troublesome, to say the least. But, enough of the stuff is still on the market, so try I did. 

Based on the old metal Oblit body, he started out about the same, but it was devilishly hard to get servo arm bits without buying a tech marine, and some of those other things, well... they came from models that just around anymore. Luckily there bits of other things (and eBay) to take up the slack. I realized too late I could've built a claw around that assault cannon, but then again, it might not have held together anyway without a great deal of metal.

One thing he does have over the original (besides a wicked barbed power claw made from crux harpoons) are these bloody great cog shoulder pads that I wish I'd had the foresight to put on mine, but oh well, we do as we must. 

No servo harness backpacks to had out there, either (again, not without buying the full kit) so I made due with SM and Tau parts. If I hadn't been running low on Dragon Forge cabling, I would've made him a trailing sheaf of cables, too, but this way the hem of his robe is unmarred.

People ask me how I build the things and where I get my ideas, but they don't seem to believe me when I tell them I just keep putting bit on until it looks right. Things seem to come together organically. When I build copies of something (given the same parts)  the second one is rather forced and unfulfilling, which is why I suppose I'll never have a true parking lot of 18 identical Chimeras.

I imagine this fellow needs a little crew of Servitors running behind him just to fill up the ammo tins on the assault cannon. I think I'll start including big ammo drums on models that don't have internal magazines for some realism's sake. I understand the new huge bolt cannon on the IG Avenger is only a pathetic S6, which isn't going to do so much as annoy a lot of vehicles out there. S6? Really? Not even armor bane? Sad.

I contemplated giving him a pair of smaller sub arms (for fine work) but they only would've gotten in the way, and made the model look rather too busy, visually. Plus, the Admech make Titans, not landmates, dammit. Anyhoo, at last report this fellow arrived at his new (and very satisfied) owner's domicile intact. Yay postal service, and on to the next project!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Commission: WIP

Taking it easy this week, working on a Grand Magos for a client. More as he develops....

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy 4th, Everybody! 

What are you doing on the Internet? Get out there and do something even though it's hot as fuck and you should probably be inside. 

On second thought, stay inside. Enjoy the Internet, and remember that the greatest purveyor of porn, bootleg movies, and all manner of social networking came from, among other things,  US tax dollars. Now that's some useful spending. 

Happy 4th, people. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Triarch Stalkers or Is that a Heat Ray in Your Pocket, or Are You Just Glad to See Me?

Like the Ghost Ark, the Triarch Stalker is a real mixed bag of pain and pleasure. On the one hand, he's a handy little spider-tank with a melta gun--

"A MELTA gun? For Xenos you say?"

Oh yes. He can even stabby-stabby a tank with those wicked not-Dred CCS forelegs of his. Why, he'd almost be perfect except for the incredibly stupid open-topped design philosophy the Necrons apparently have now. Oh, and is that gun a turret? We aren't told. It could be. 

Now, if you had illusions of Defiler-like posable legs, keep dreaming. Only those great forelegs have the barest lip service in terms of hinges. The thing is a dream to assemble.... mostly. Yet again, we're being punished by complexity. Complexity which looks amazing when it's painted and together, but... 

Damn, I forgot to color-balance that photo. Oh well. See that little howdah on top? It doesn't quite synch up if you're building the thing in subassemblies, so while I can take him apart and store him in two easy sections, it's held on there mainly by tension and hope. And yet again, we're treated to a pilot that's broken down all the way to separate legs, and neck . Not a lot of places for anything but the smallest magnets, either. If the Stalker legs were hinged and folded at every joint (Bandai and many other model makers figured this out twenty years ago, by the way) the little monster would be a snap to store. Otherwise, you have to slot the cockpit next to this fellow: 

What a nasty looking little monster. Why didn't they make a codex entry for some kind of giant jumping spider or something that just ran around and crushed things using the new 6E "monstrous creatures can slam now" rules. (Did I mention how pleased I am with the new Necron line? Because I am. Well, 90%, anyway.). Speaking of bugs, can we cross-utilize a Tervicron as a Triarch Stalker?

Hmm... well, the height's there, but one of these spiders has no cannons to speak of (unless you consider the monocle on the spider head, which you could, I suppose) and the Tervicron just isn't wide enough, either. I suppose, if the other player were forgiving enough?

I leave you with something you've never see (unless you're fielding Necrons): a shot of the thing's shapely backside. Being open-topped, if someone blasts him with a big gun or smacks him around with a big enough stick, the poor fellow's going to go all legs up. Of course, being AV13 this isn't going to happen very quickly, and who knows how long those 3 hull points will last against nasty Eldar lances and hordes of Ork rokkit launchas? It'd last longer if they gave him a pair of CCW's and a secondary gun, that's for sure. Not a perfect design by any means, but better than the Necrons had before, and that's something.

Happy Sunday, folks. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Should I do 'em? 

Some folks have approached me about reviewing their products. As you know, I tend not to pull any punches, being from the Honesty School of Opinion Writing, so it could be a fun exercise for all concerned. 

This isn't an attempt at filler, either. I have a backlog of photos for posts right now, and an even larger one of pending hobby projects (I hear you, ZOE Vic Viper). 

So what do you think?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Tutorial: the Weathered Penny

So many people have asked about the weathered penny, that I thought I'd share how I do it, this time with pictures. (No Tachikomas in this one, unfortunately,they're still sleeping off the effects of their victory party).  Above are the materials you'll need, including the flat brush (available at any art/hobby store) and mini/tray grey foam. I realize that Citadel may have changed some of their metals since this photo was taken, but from the color spread, you get the idea. In additional you're also going to need, of course, model:

This bit was primed in black, then dry brushed with Tin Bitz. The tin Bitz was applied very hastily and sketchily,with more attention paid to raised areas and places where the primer was allowed to pool and bubble a bit. 

At this point we're going to start infusing th foam with color, by way of simply dipping the brush tip  in the pot and wiping most of it away onto the foam. From this point on, the foam's going to be your source of pigment for dry brushing and blending. Every so often we'll need to re-infuse it, as the paint drys quickly through use. (This technique, though kinder to brushes, is still dry brushing, so I recommend having backup brush and switching off between the two, cleansing the first one and starting with the dry, fresh second one. After you can give them a bath in Simple Green and water and they'll be like new.)

With only the barest paint left on the brush, you're going to begin running the flat side of the brush along the raised edge of the model, like so. You'll be leaving a thin line of paint on that raised edge, and periodically flicking inwards over the flat areas. Not broad, covering strokes, a light touch in important here to achieve that weathered, worn effect: 

You're going to want to hit all the major edges, then com back and hit those minor ones. Not that we never actually do any large applications over the major areas, but keep flicking in just barely from the edges. 

After each complete edging, you're going to be blending successively brighter colors into your foam palette. The advantage of the foam come in here; the paint's pooling and mixing here with each wipe, and getting progressively lighter while still maintaining bits of the last color. This multi-toned brightening effect gets passed on, of course, when you start anew with the new color: 

As you can see, this technique can be applied over even complex areas. Just make sure you don't go hog-wild; leave broad areas untouched or barely-touched by pigment, and concentrate on the edges, continually building up tone. It's important that you let your off-duty brush dry out completely, because wet-brushing will ruin the rough finish of this technique. 

in the end, you end up with a nice weathered surface very much like this one. I nearly drove myself crazy using this on my Ghost Arks (you'll see why next post). Hope this helps, folks!

Happy Saturday. 

PS, it looks like the insectoid Scythes won out, so there will be no flying croissants here folks. Just more bugs with better parts from the new range.