Saturday, 27 July 2019

The Screaming Oak WIP

Okay - I usually don't share pics this early in the process of making a conversion, since it's extremely rough and basically in the "sketch stage" - things are blutacked on, some things are only placeholders, lots of sculpting and parts missing, etc, but at this point I'm trying to get the pose and concept locked down - so keep that in mind. I felt it would be interesting to share though, since it gives a glimpse into my very messy process of making models as described in the little essay I wrote a while ago, about models and poses. That, and because I'm SOOOO excited about it!

Here is the very early stages of my Screaming Oak:

I'm basically trying to make a treeman zombie. While GWs Treelord model is very good, it is portraying a beautiful and nimble kind of treeman. I wanted something that looks corrupted, shambling, monstrous and really really evil. I even used the classic "bent knee zombie pose", to illustrate the point. I also wanted some really massive talons, which are made from the Shardwrack Spine terrain kit - like I said, they need lots of sculpting, but I tried to echo the "hollow" look of the talons of the Sylvaneth Spite Revenants. The legs and body also need a lot of branches and sculpting and hopefully a mouth or seven.

The head is a placeholder for now - I like the tormented look, but I'm not sure if it looks too "off" from the rest of the tree aesthetic. Lots more branches and spikes needed all around, but I really really like it so far, and the "murder of crows" emphasise the forward motion further.

I'm still very open to suggestions and comments, so please, fire away! :)

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Practical but important stuff.

I haven't gotten to do much miniature stuff these past few days, but I've gotten around to doing something I've wanted for as long as I've played Warhammer - my own full size wargames table.

I'm lucky to have a nice, dry and pretty large mancave in our house, all to myself:

However, a 6'x4' table is pretty large - and since I use the mancave for both playing music, making miniatures and general chilling out, I don't want a gigantic permanent table in the middle of the room. So I started googling, and while I found some amazing wargaming mancaves, I didn't find what I was looking for. So, Ikea to the rescue. The first priority is of course the gaming surface itself. While many people just use some mdf for a tabletop, the problem with mdf is that it warps pretty easily over time, if unsupported - same goes for plywood. I found the solution in Ikeas catalog.


The Linnmon table.

It is made from a mdf frame, filled with a honeycomb paper pattern, which means it is very very rigid and very light (11 kg). It is 200 cm x 60 cm (roughly 6,8 feet x 2 feet) so I figured that if I put two of them together lenghtwise, I'd have a perfect table, even with about of feet of sideboard for dice, casualties, etc. The best part is that the two table surfaces can fit behind the door to the cave, so it stows away easily.

As you can see, they are held together with a case lock on both sides. There is a surprising amount of torque in those little things, and they are held rock solid. They are resting on a couple of cheap sawhorses from Bauhaus (the danish equivalent to Home Depot) which gives the table a nice height (about 1 m). I always play standing up, and my back would kill me if I had to play 2-3 hours on the 60 cm tall tables many people build. It feels very solid and theres no chance of the table sliding off, thanks to some silicone antislip stickers I put on the sawhorses. 

Some terrain added. I really need to get around to painting the stuff I've aquired over the last few years - I've managed to scrape together quite a few of the old Warhammer buildings - they still look awesome IMO. The mat is 4 x 4 and I need to get a full size one.

Man, I can't wait to try my first game on it - this really is a childhood dream come true. :)

The other project I've been working on is a magnetic carrying case. I've been searching for a transport solution, and I'm really tired of foam. Most of my miniatures are conversions, so no standard stuff fits, and bits keep catching in the foam and breaking off. So, I decided that magnets are ideal. However, I had a hard time finding a great solution, so I decided to put my woodshop teacher skills (my day job) to use, and build one myself:

It's made from pine, so it's actually quite a bit lighter than it looks, but the jury is still out on whether it's too heavy or not. I need to get hold of a good heavy duty handle for it. The shelves are steel shelves from an Ikea letterbox and the rails are simply aluminum curtain rails, that cost next to nothing. It can fit my entire (about 3000 pts) Nurgle collection in it, even the largest beasts, but like I said, I still need to test it to see if it's actually manageable to carry.

On another note:

In the songs of the Sylvaneth, one Treelord Ancient is never mentioned. Not because he wasn’t a great hero. Not because he wasn’t fiercely loyal to Alarielle. But because the mere thought of what happened to him is to painful to stand for the Sylvaneth.

The Treelord Sternbark was one of the great old Ancients. He was rumoured to have been the ancestor of many a treeling and fought in the great wars in Ghyran against the rotbringers of Nurgle. In battle, he was faced against the gargantuan beast mount of the Witch King of Cankerwall, and fell. As much as it grieved his Wargrove, their grief turned to terror as they were forced to flee and saw the Witch Kings rotten underlings tow away Sternbarks remains - though they tried to ambush the Rotbringers, they were too few and their attempts were twarted. Great was Alarielles fury when she heard of his death, and even greater was her grief when she was told that his soulpod had not been saved.

The Witch King returned Sternbarks remains to the Garden of Nurgle where he dug deep into the bark, and found the Ancients Soulpod. He toiled for seven days, incanting the terrible rites he had been gifted by the Grandfather, in order to bind the daemonic essence to the soul pod. Once he was done, the once vibrant soulpod turned a brackish green colour, and boils started erupting on the surface.

A cry of anguish erupted from the Everqueen, as she felt the corruption across the realms.

Satisfied with his work, the Witch King put the soul pod back into Sternbarks corpse, and implanted scores of Rotwood Maggots into the now twitching limbs and branches of the Ancient.

With a flick of his wrist and a twisted invocations of words, the Ancient rose once again. As it stood upon the doorstep to his lair and gazed into the Garden, it realised what it had been and what it was now. And it screamed. It screamed in anguish at the Rotwood Maggots eating through it’s body. Moreso, it screamed because Sternbarks spirit was still alive and sentient in the soul pod, but he had no control over any of it’s limbs - that was the privilege of the daemon parasite the Witch King had bound to the soul pod.

A great thunder rolled over the Garden as the Grandfather himself chuckled.

Many years has passed since, and Sternbarks spirit has been utterly maimed, broken and ripped to shreds by what he has witnessed, as a passenger in his own body. The body has been twisted by the foul magics of the Garden as time has passed, and it is barely recognisable as once having been a native of Ghyran. The limbs have become twisted and gnarled, repulsive mouths have erupted across the bark, and terrible spiny growths have erupted from the body. The once glowing sigils of the Everqueen are completely overgrown, and pus, weeping sores and boils covers its surface. It shambles into battle, and as the splintered remains of Sternbarks spirit realises it is to be employed as a destroyer of life once again, insanity rolls over him and he can do nothing but scream. Thus, Sternbark is no more. The husk that remains is known to the Maggotkin as the Screaming Oak.

Yup - I've started work on the Screaming Oak/Corrupted Treelord. It's going to be a big project, but I'm pretty sure I'm onto something pretty cool and creepy. :)

Friday, 12 July 2019

Horses for courses - and spawns for Harbingers.

Hi guys, a bit of a progress update.

I've been using a Harbinger of Decay for many a game, using my old rotfly riding champion conversion - but since the debut of the Lord of Afflictions, it seems confusing to have two very different characters both riding flys.

While the original model is probably considered a modern classic:

... I have some issues with it; first of all, it's small. Way to small. It originates from the old Warhammer Fantasy, and doesn't scale well at all with the new and bigger scale of AoS. Secondly, it is finecast. I hate finecast. Thirdly, horses seem exceptionally boring to me, in a setting of high fantasy, such as AoS. Therefore, I wanted to make my own, new and improved, Harbinger of Decay. 

A bit of a forestory; some years ago, I stumbled upon an amazingly talented sculptor, namely Jason Hendricks; he has sculpted some insanely cool models, even some of the prototypes for the Warjacks from Warmachine. Especially one miniature enamoured me; The Nightmare Thing:

I stumbled upon someone selling it on a facebook about a year ago, and I promptly bought it, without knowing what to use it for. Upon receiving it, I found it really cool, but also too big to be used as a regular spawn, and some of the details got a bit lost in the casting material (I call it restic - used for lots of board games - apparently cheap, and also quite horrible to work with - cut, scrape, sand - it's equally bad for everything). 

Anyway, it sat in a box, until two nights ago, when I was pondering what to do with my Harbinger, and a light went off; I hurried to my desk, got out the nightmare thing, and started messing around with parts:

I've replaced the head with to heads (one an upside down pink horror mouth, the other an upside down Blight King fly head, with the lower jaw from a pink horror added), and a Stone Troll arm, because I felt it was missing a bit of ye old GW aesthetic. The saddle is from the Maggoth lord (which oddly basically popped into place, as if made for it), and the torso is from the Pusgoyle Blightlords.

I'm really liking it, although I'm still on the fence about the scythe; one, it just seems like such an obvious choice, and two, the 1" range of it really doesn't suggest scythe to me - any suggestions?


I've gotten a bit further, and I'm almost done with the sculpting on the Harbinger:

I particularly like the gross spine sticking out of his back:

I've also decided against using the necromancer model for the sorcerer on top of my Glottkin - it needed to much work and was a bit too weedy for a Rotbringer Sorcerer, so I chopped up the Ethrac model and gave him a new arm and head - I'm pretty happy with this version:

I've also gotten some work done on the Daemon Prince, and he's really starting to come together:

On that note, I'd like to elaborate a bit on conversions. I call this (cue fanfare...): 

Conversion Composition

First of all, I really dislike the word kitbashing; I feel like it belittles the skill and vision required for a cool conversion. A simple weapon swap may be a kitbash, but as soon as you go a bit beyond that, you are basically taking a miniature and converting it into something else, something that better suits your vision of the universe it is being part of. I don't mean to sound snooty or anything, and I'm not suggesting it should be called art, but take some credit in your skill and vision, and stop calling it kitbashing. 

There. I got that off my chest. :) 

I feel like the most important part of any miniature is its composition. Let me elaborate; the composition is a combination of the pose of the miniature and shape of it. Things like details and texture are very important as well, but you can easily find a miniature where these things are there in spades, but it just doesn't work as a miniature - why? Because the composition is bad. 

Let me demonstrate: 

The Skaven Grey Seer model is an example of great composition:

The model, seen as a silhouette, has a nice flow to it (shown by the green line), clearly defined form and the details don't mess up the shape or pose. I would even argue that seeing it only as a silhouette, you would still be able to guess that it's a skaven based on the pole, the iconic way skaven cloth is modelled and the hunched pose - non warhammer players could probably guess that it is a wizard, based on the stretched out hand.

Wulfrik the Wanderer, on the other hand, is a walking composition disaster:

Based on the silhouette, you would probably guess that it is some sort of christmas tree with a scarecrow added and a sword sticking out. There is no flow, no shape, no pose - it just doesn't work. The fact that the sculptor seemingly dipped it in glue and rolled it in his box of skulls only seems to make the issue worse.

My Daemon Prince has (at least I think) a pretty good composition:

You can clearly see the fly wings, the fly legs, and it has some nasty claws and spikes sticking out, adding to the creepiness and wrongness of the thing. It has a good flow and the body parts don't mess up the composition.

The cure for bad conversion composition: 

My advice to any converter is: Get the basic composition in place before you do anything else. The best tool for any converter is holding a miniature up against a lamp to backlit it. You will immediately see the silhouette of the conversion and thereby the composition (again, shape and pose) will jump out.

Don't be afraid to tweak the posing just tiny bits - sometimes moving an arm a few degrees will change to composition completely. Using bluetac or brass pinning wire is great for this - you can change it be moving the part attached with bluetac or bending the brass wire.

Another trick, in lieu of having a backlit setup (and which I use most of the time) is to just squint your eyes - it works almost as good. Again the silhoutte will jump out. Another good tip is to use your camera phone to take some quick pics of the pose, once you find one that works - even if you're tweaking it more, to see if it can get even better, you now have some pics to return it to it's original state.

Once the basic composition is good, you can start adding details and textures, but ONLY if they add to the conversion. Remember to check the silhouette regularly to see if it is starting to get cluttered, and be willing to remove parts again, even if you think a particular part is really cool. Don't be afraid to "kill your darlings" or rip something apart and start over. It is bit like cooking - you're free to use spices, but even the best spices won't make up for a dish that is basically lacking. Many conversions I see on my google search journeys are using way too many bits and lacking basic composition - try googling "obliterator conversion" for example; I've lost track of the times I've seen a plastic chaos terminator that looks like it's been dipped in glue and rolled in a guns bits box. Get the basic pose right, even if it takes some tries - walk away from it, sleep on it, get back to it, and make it the best you can. Good luck! :)

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Ship Ahoy!

I'm taking babysteps (pun intended) with the progress, thanks to "The Squig". However, I've been intrigued by the idea of using Gutrot Spume as a way to deepstrike a unit of Blight Kings, and reading Plague Garden by Josh Reynolds, I've become intrigued by the character Spume as well.

However, I've already used the (admittedly, quite cool) model for my Blight Kings as a unit leader, so I went on an inspiration search on the internet, to find out what people had done for conversions of him. Sadly, there wasn't too much, but I found this guy:

Billedresultat for gutrot spume conversion

(Sadly, I don't know who's done it, so I can't give him credit - If you recognise it, please let me know)

While there are definitely things I'd do differently, the basic idea of using the Gellerpox mutant tentacles and Typhus legs I really liked - so I set about making my own version:

I spent a lot of time scraping and cutting away any 40k-ish parts on the legs, and used gut-maw belly from the Pusgoyle Blightlord kit (mostly because I love the old-school gut-maws), made a huge axe from a combination of a 40k Death Shroud scythe and a minotaur axe, gave him a chain loin cloth, and used the "crab-hand" from the Khorne AoS starter set lord, to continue the nautical mutation theme - and finished it off with a back banner from the 40k Lord of Contagion kit. Obviously still needs a lot of sculpting, but I really like the basic idea - plus, he is HUGE:

I've also gotten a bit further on my Glottkin conversion; I've made a gladiator style shoulder pad (still needs distressing, though) for two reasons - both for having a place to put the dark green I used for the army, to tie him together with the rest of them, and besides; shoulder pads are awesome. :) 

I've also started the wizard on his shoulder - I'm a bit on the fence about him. While I have the Ethrac Glott model, I kinda wanted something thinner, more wasted and weedier - we'll see. 

Lastly, I got inspired to start a Daemon Prince conversion - this is extremely rough, sketch stage-ish, and he needs some fly wings, but I think this could work. 

As always, comments are much appreciated. :)