Thursday 18 December 2014

LXXVII. The Bell-Ringers Revisited

As promised, here are the updated and re-based cattle-headed revenants:

It all started with the fellow pictured below. He was the last Bell-ringer I had made (that was back in January), and different from the others in that he had Horror arms instead of Plaguebearer ones. I found that the longer arms suited the Plaguebearer body better; they made the creature's proportions somehow more pleasing to my eye.  That is why I decided to replace the arms on the rest of them.

LEFT: before; RIGHT: after. The only change here is the addition of a small bell.

Besides arms, all Bell-ringer bar that one got brand new faces. These masks give the group a more coherent look.

LEFT: before; RIGHT: after. A visible difference on this one. The bells on his left arm come from the Blightkings kit.
I made each of the black masks out of bits of plasticard, carved with a hobby knife and put together with superglue. For reference I looked at photographs of real wooden carnival masks from Međimurje, such as these:

Photo by Davor Rostuhar; published in National Geographic HR

The musician got a bit rearranged. This walking bagpipe's chanter now sticks from the base of his neck, while before this intervention it used to be a transformed mouth. 

LEFT: before; RIGHT: after. The bell got relocated to his back, as it would have been obscured by the new arm had it remained around his neck.
You will notice that some have a ring or a disc between their horns, which reminds me of portrayals of Egyptian gods. I can't really explain the logic behind this detail, but it feels right. Does it look out of place to you?

LEFT: before; RIGHT: after. This guy got his old club replaced by a new one, put together from  a brass rod, a plastic bead and green stuff. The weapon's red colour adds a splash of interest in the crew's otherwise monotonous colour scheme.
LEFT: before; RIGHT: after. The first bell-ringer I ever made, this poor fellow has been through many transformations. I wish I could promise this was the last.
As for the Devil (not pictured in this post, but THIS is the mini I'm talking about), I can't seem to make his new look work. All attempts to fix him have failed (which is a bit frustrating), so I decided to put him away in a box for the time being. In my experience, that is the right course of action when a mini refuses to cooperate. There are plenty of others in need of my attention. :D

This is it. What do you think? Was the makeover successful, or do you feel they were better before?

Tuesday 9 December 2014

LXXVI. Merchant's Shop

Last month I finally got my hands on one of Tabletop World's resin houses. It was the lovely Merchant's Shop.

I painted it for a step-by-step tutorial published in last month's Figure Painter Magazine. You can purchase Issue19 if you follow this LINK. It was fun, even though I had to paint fast to meet the deadline. It will be a welcome addition to my terrain collection. The only problem is that it makes my own scratchbuilt houses look quite poorly made in comparison. I guess I'll have to up my game when it comes to terrain making. Or fill my table with Tabletop World stuff. Spaking of which, the newly released Mansion is a real beauty. But that price tag...

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I recently bought another blister of Reaper Dire Wolves, so the Plague Doctor got two more cheap minions. The newcomers are at the front, and the two old ones are at the back.

The undead pack.
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Another thing I did in November was a redesign of the Bell-ringers. I wanted them to look more visually coherent, and more reminiscent of the source material. Before setting off I made some sketches:

The faces got an overhaul.

The Devil gets a new head. Also, possible new types of units are here. The stag and hounds belong to the Hunter Horse-man, though- whose crew is planned for a distant future.

The Plaguebearer arms are replaced by the longer Horror arms. They wield new clubs as well.

The big, Blightking-based fellow I haven't started yet; the Devil again, and the musician got a change of concept.
The next post will feature before and after pictures of the six minis that went through the makeover, as well as inspiration, design and execution notes.

Sunday 2 November 2014

LXXV. And Another November

Another year flies by. Yesterday, on November 1st, was the second birthday of Gardens of Hecate. This year was a productive one, though not nearly as much as wish it had been. The number of painted miniatures has  doubled at least, and so has my terrain collection (however, I wish I had made more houses). I added two new factions, while the old ones gained some more minitures. Made a Fate Deck and started on another one. Gardens minis were exhibited in my club's annual exhibition in February. I've started working on the rules and scenarios some time in March. And I still haven't played a single game. :D But it might happen this year, who knows...

I'm glad to say the number of followers has doubled as well. Thanks again to all folks who read the blog and comment on the posts. Your interest helps my motivation, and more than once you've directed me to amazing sources of inspiration (art, books, films, tutorials, as well as your own work). :)

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Putrid Blightkings are all the rage nowadays among creative converters. So my brother went and surprised me with a box, as an early birthday+Christmas gift. How very thoughtful of him.

The kit is awesome. I'd already thought of a couple characters I could build before I even had the box.

As soon as I received it I started to cut things off the sprues. For now, I've just put bits together with blu-tack. As I still don't have much time, the progress on these will be very slow. 

 *   *   *

In the end I'll just leave you with this eerie scene I shot from my bedroom window just this morning. The atmosphere out there was terrific.

I think I'll call it: "Some Poor Corvids Freezing Their Feathers Off in a Thick November Fog"... 

Wednesday 29 October 2014

LXXIV. The Jacks

The work on the second custom Fate Deck continues. I've already written about it in LXVII. Another Fate Deck (WIP), where I showed the twelves of the deck and explained the idea behind the designs. You can see and read about the first deck in XLIV. Fate Deck. Now I have proceeded to make another batch of face cards: the elevens. And this time I'll say a bit on how I go about painting the cards.

Rough sketches- the first transfers of the designs from my head onto paper. Useful for many different reasons.
It begins with sketches. I carry a notebook and a pen with me wherever I go, which I use to store any ideas I come up with for later use. At this point I also search my books and the Internet for reference pictures. Once I'm happy with my design I start drawing on an actual blank card.

Blank cards. I cut them to size myself and lightly stained them with coffee. I usually make enough of these for a whole deck at once, to avoid too much difference in tint.

I learnt long ago that use of reference when drawing/sculpting/etc. is pretty much mandatory. The results are better beyond comparison. I have a fine number of various illustrated books at home, and I keep a folder on my computer packed with pictures of interesting things I find in the vastness of the Internet. For these particular illustrations I dug up as many pictures as I could find of ancient Greek black-figure pottery (for everything, but the satyr especially), plate armour and bascinet type helmets (for the man-at-arms), medieval depictions of wildmen (for the woodwose),  Danse Macabre (for the revenant)...

The sketches of the four Jacks/elevens on the cards themselves. Left to right: Bone, Flesh, Blood, Spirit.

When the drawings were done I scanned them. Not just to show them here, but also because some of the small details get lost under the base layers of paint as I work. The scans help me know where everything needs to be.

Colouring the sketch. These are the same paints and brushes I use for my miniatures.

The card value, in this case 'XI', is written in black ballpoint pen.

For the suit symbols I use improvized tools- plastic tubes of different diameters that leave neat rings when dipped in paint and pressed on paper. You can see them left of the card. One is a part of a broken pen and the other two came from brush packaging. This way I know all suit symbols are the same size and regular shape. The larger suit symbols in the corners require some extra work with a brush.

And that's it. The following picture shows all face cards I've finished so far. Comments and critique are very welcome. :)

Saturday 11 October 2014

LXXIII. Orderly

A big commission is taking up most of my hobby-time, which resulted in this long period of no updates. Over the course of last five weeks I've managed to slowly convert and paint the first Orderly.

As the aforementioned commission consists of painting rank upon rank of brightly coloured, nearly identical High Elves, working on this fellow helped me preserve my sanity. :P

The red cross on the poison thrower marks him as a member of the Plague Doctor's retinue.

Skull and crossbones on the tank's side warn of its toxic contents.

The rules. Orderlies are pretty slow, with a low Walk and no Charge value. Their purpose is dealing out poison with the Poison Thrower attack. To keep them from being completely useless in close combat, they carry a knife as well. I'd have represented it on the miniature, but I simply had nowhere to put it.

Below you can see the finished conversion next to the base model: a WH40K Chaos Cultist.

The bits used: Chaos Cultist, Skaven Warpfire Thrower, Empire Millitia left arm, Victoria Miniatures round goggles.
Fitting all those bits together without gaps and awkward angles required filing, sanding and subtle green stuff work. Skaven runes on the Warpfire thrower bits had to go. The cultist was (surprisingly) free of chaos insignia to begin with.
The hideous proportions of Citadel humans usually keep me from using them, as they look terrible next to my more elegant Wyrd and Rackham people. This one, however, is wearing many layers of protective clothing, so he could work. I just needed to hide his stunty legs and enormus feet by extending his coat into a robe.

Tuesday 2 September 2014

LXXII. The Beast

The Beast arrives to take the White Harpy's place in the crew. 

The body comes from a metal GW Chaos Warhound, the "crown" from a Tomb Kings banner, and the face from a Slaanesh Daemonette; the elongated neck and the pointy breasts are my own sculpting.

Before priming.

The Countess is able to use a spell which severs a part of her soul and releases it from her body for a limited time. The soul fragment manifests as the Beast. The creature is an ethereal monstrosity, a potent ally in battle. This practice is not entirely without risk, because if the Beast is harmed then so is the Countess. 

Painted. I'm pretty sure she could look better if I were to experiment a bit with the colour scheme, but I'll leave her like this for the time being. Until Inspiration strikes.

I've also been doing some work on converting the rules lately. The Doctor's and the Countess' crews have their stat cards ready. The Troglodytes too, pretty much. What I haven't touched yet are Upgrades and Reaper Horseman's retinue of bell ringers and hobby horses. I've even converted the Malifaux 2E rulebook, and the M1.5E campaign rules. The scenarios of the first campaign have been outlined, but not yet written. 

Since I last showed the stat cards in LVI. The Rules, besides the slight rules changes I have now added proper symbols for card suits, pulses, blasts, auras, attack types and fate modifiers. The stat cards are now easier to read.

*   *   *

The next mini-project will be a brand new minion type for the Plague Doctor's crew: the Orderly. Actually, I'll be making a pair of Orderlies. They will both be wielding cumbersome poison throwers, which spew toxic vapours at the enemy.

The core bits: Skaven Warpfire Throwers, masked Chaos Cultists, Victoria Miniatures round goggles.

Thursday 21 August 2014

LXXI. The Autumnal Forest

I have finally painted all the plastic tree terrain I had in my possession. My forest now consists of: one large Hanging Tree, two regular Hanging trees, six regular trees, and six pygmy trees. All done from one Wyrd and two GW plastic kits. 
The forest. You will notice the Guardian of the Golden Bough chilling in there.


Once both the Citadel Wood kits were finished, I noticed that I had six leftover branches. So I got the idea to make some bushes. These can stand on their own, or some day I could make a larger base that holds several of them- like the one supplied with the Citadel Wood kit, and have area terrain. 

When I compared them to human-sized miniatures it turned out they are more the size of small trees than bushes. They are small, but don't really look like young trees (too gnarled and thick), so I just call them 'pygmy trees'. 

The stuff I used: 30mm wooden bases, leftover branches from the Citadel Wood kit, cork, sand. Not pictured: green stuff, brass rod, PVA glue, superglue, plastic cement.

I pinned the branches to the bases, and resculpted the base of each trunk with green stuff to get the right growing-out-of-the-ground look. The bases were finished with cork and sand.
After painting the bases and the trunks, I glued the canopies. These were painted along with the canopies belonging to the larger trees I made recently. It's boring, repetative work, so it's best done in larger batches. I left one of the small trees bare for extra variety.
*   *   *

The Shaman is also done.

The third Troglodyte Shaman.
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Saturday 16 August 2014

LXX. The Troglodyte Shrine

The remains of a huge fish from a subterranean lake make the centrepiece of this Troglodyte altar.  The fact they are now building their sacred structures above ground means Troglodytes are beginning to feel more and more at home in the upper world. Not a good sign...

Front. The fishbone is adorned by preserved human heads.

Back. Hallucinogenic mushrooms grow at the foot of the shrine.
 This piece of terrain is made for use in a campaign scenario featuring Troglodytes.

The main feature of the shrine, the giant fishbone, actually comes from a Rackham Goblin mini: the No-Dan-Kar Fishbone Bearer. I got the goblin quite cheap from a local. It was in a good state, the only thing that was done to it was a thin black undercoat.
The Fishbone Bearer.
 First I removed the fishbone from the goblin, naturally. You can see in the picture there are some human heads hanging from the bone- that's quite alright. However, on the reverse side there were two large mugs belonging to deceased Confrontation Dwarfs, and this would not do. So I thought I'd remove them with my dremel. After lots of grinding I finally managed to remove one. Tired and frustrated with how slowly that was going, I decided that I would try a different approach with the second head. I saved myself a lot of trouble by just cutting off the ribs it hanged from, and then replacing some of the missing ribs with ones I made of pins and green stuff.

I put the bone on a nice 50mm base. It's my standard cork + sand + fallen leaves and grass tufts. 

Awaiting some custom detailing.

The Staves

The fishbone is surrounded by the kind of long staves Shamans carry. This helps make a connection between the terrain piece and the Troglodyte models.  

A staff begins as a brass rod cut to desired length. I also need some thin wire and metal rings.

The wire I usually use for this used to be some sort of a net; I think it came from a wine bottle. Useful material can be found everywhere.

I just wrapped the wire around the brass rod, passing through the metal ring several times. Here I used another type of wire, the one I pulled out of the cable of a pair of broken earphones. This is all fixed in place with a drop or two of liquid superglue. Finally, I wash a layer of watered-down PVA glue over everyhing.

The Mushrooms

Fly amanita mushrooms seemed like a good idea for some spot colour. They also provide detail to the back of the base, as the piece looked less interesting from the back as it was. This is how I make my mushrooms:

When I have leftover green stuff after sculpting, I often make it into mushroom caps for later use. All I need to do when I want some toadstools is drill into the caps and insert a stem (brass rod or paperclip will do).

Green stuff toadstools. And pin heads make good smaller shrooms.

To make their shapes more organic, the metal bits need to be covered with some PVA. When that dries I also give them a coat of liquid green stuff.

Mushrooms fixed to the base and undercoated grey.

Painted. I looked at photos of Amanita muscaria for reference. This poisonous mushroom was used by Siberian shamans to induce trance state. Looks like the Troglodytes like it, too.
 *   *   *

The third Shaman is coming along nicely. I put the bits together: a Hobbit goblin, a staff (still unfinished in this picture) and a Plaguebearer's arm holding trophy heads. He just needs a bit of green stuff where his new arm meets the body, and some sand on the base. Then it's painting time.