Tuesday 25 February 2014

LIII. The Faerie Sniper

Over at Wamp forum, a painting competition sponsored by Studio McVey has been announced a couple of weeks ago. Having actually bought one of their miniatures recently, I decided to enter the competition. Even if I hadn't already had the miniature, I would have used this chance to get one: the McVey store offers a 20% discount for anyone buying a mini for the contest. To get the discount just enter the code SMWAMP while buying at studiomcvey.com.

The miniature I painted was the lovely Ar-Fiach, from their limited edition resin range. It's a beautiful sculpt, and the resin miniature is tiny and delicate. I wanted it to be usable for my games- and to fit into the Gardens setting it needed some conversion. A TV aerial it holds on to and the too modern-looking chimney had to go. It's a pity in a way, because those bits really make it much more interesting. It is not often that you see a faerie depicted in an urban setting. Ah well... I might get another one some day.

The hand holding the aerial was replaced by one of the Hobbit Goblin hands. Something a tad smaller would have been perfect, but this was the best I had. The clawed hand reminds me a bit of bird talons, which is cool because Ar-Fiach sports a number of birdlike features to begin with: look at her legs from knees down, for example, and her hair is actually all feathers. I posed the hand as if she were saying to the observer: "Shhh. Don't scare away my prey." Quickly after the moment captured someone or something is going to get shot.

I also needed a replacement for the chimney. The most obvious option was to just build a more fantasy-looking chimney. However, I wanted her to stand much closer to the ground. It would have been cool if I could have put her on a small tree or a log. But the sculpt requires a very specific shape to stand on. After an afternoon of attempting to build some sort of small structure to fill the role, I ended up with this "hitching post + announcement board" thingy.

The base, completely built. This is a 40mm base, by the way.
 The structure was built around a cork. The individial stones were cut from some leftover plaster and clay wall parts from another project, and then glued around the cork with PVA glue. I meant to make the entire structure in stone, but I gave up half way up because the process of making the stone bricks was really annoying me. So I just went with balsa wood planks from there on. However, I put a big, flat square stone on the top in the end. The board with the paper nailed to it comes from the Citadel Wood kit. 
The metal rings on the sides look really nice and are fairly simple to make. You can get the little rings in hobby shops that sell jewellry-making materials. Then you simply cut a little square of plasticard and drill two holes in it. Attach the ring to it with a twice bent piece of paperclip or pin, and then glue the whole thing wherever you need it. This is also great for door knockers.

The painting on the base done.
 After adding some small stones and sand to to finish it off, I undercoated it grey and proceeded to the painting stage. Pale stone parts contrast the dark wood. I used pigments applied as a wash with water to add some colour to the grey dirt. The rusty effect on the metal rings was acheved by painting them first with a light reddish brown, followed by a bit darker brown pigment. It would have been better if I had a proper rust-coloured pigment; but alas, I don't.

The finished base.

The final step was adding some foliage. Grass tufts, a couple of those tiny dry "leaves" I put on everything, and some moss patches on the stone bits. I actually darkened the grass a bit with a brown wash, and then lightly drybrushed the tips for contrast.  
Oh, and the text on the message board was added in the meanwhile. It's just wavy lines, nothing intelligible.

Ready for painting.

After that I started work on the miniature itself. I'm afraid I don't have any pictures of the painting process... The colour scheme was, as usual, pretty dark. I think that suits a faerie well, after all they are terrifying, morbid creatures. Those pretty blue and black striped feathers in her "hair" were inspired by jay feathers I usually wear on my hat. I think their vibrancy livens up the whole grim picture quite nicely.

Pretty little feathers...
I haven't yet got a background story for this character, but a new faction is vaguely forming in my mind already. We'll see later what comes of it. : ) 
And as for the results of the McVey competition: the deadline is a whole month away, and after that who knows how long before the results come in. I'll have to be patient. I'm really looking forward to seeing the other entries.

Friday 21 February 2014

LII. Troglodyte Fun

The frist couple of Troglodytes can be called done. The paintjob was inspired by Arthur Rackham's illustrations, so I used mainly washes and glazes with a little highlight in the end. And the most extreme shadows were lined in using Typhus Corrosion. Yes, Typhus Corrosion. It is perfect for the job: it's a nice dark brownish shade, it flows well but sticks exactly where you put it, it has a perfect level of opaqueness, even a little texture...  I'm so happy I discovered this. The only drawback is that it is terribly unkind to brushes, so I wouldn't recommend using it with your finest sable.

They are such great sculpts. Most of these buggers will be good out of the box, with just their metal weapons swapped with bones. I'm planning to add a shaman and some sort of a big leader type; those two will require some more extensive converting.

And another Bell-ringer. This brings their nubers up to six (if we include the Devil). His crude club still has leaves attached.

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If you happen to be in Zagreb between February 27th and March 9th, you'll have a chance to see my miniatures in person. My club UMS "Agram" is having their annual exhibition at Vladimir Horvat Gallery, Trg žrtava fašizma 14, Zagreb. Some of my terrain and crews will be displayed there, among other things. And in the evening of March 5th I'll be there demoing Malifaux. Drop by if you're in town. : )

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Thursday 13 February 2014

LI. Tutorial: How to Sculpt a Ruff

In the comments section of my last post I was asked by Logan how I sculpted the ruffled collars on my miniatures. I thought the best way to explain was through an illustrated tutorial. As always, if you wish to see bigger images just click on them.

17th century portrait of a contemporary lady wearing a ruff.




I. a miniature you wish to give a ruff to (I didn't have any, so I used a brass rod instead)
II. green stuff
III. superglue


I. a hobby knife
II. a pointy sculpting tool

As seen in Figure 1
Figure 1
Just a quick note: ruffs were popular from the mid-sixteenth century to the mid-seventeenth century. They were worn by both women and men, as well as children. 


I. In order for the collar to stay in place and keep its form better while I'm sculpting, I first made this small ring of green stuff around the "neck" to serve as a sort of foundation. I let it cure completely.  (Figure 2)

Figure 2
 II. Now that the collar had something to grab on to, I dabbed a tiny amount of superglue on it and covered it with a little ball of freshly prepared green stuff. Using my tools I shaped it into a cylinder.  (Figure 3)
Then I waited for about ten minutes  for the green stuff to stop being so very soft.

Figure 3
 III. The next thing I did was grab a knife and roughly define the folds on the top and the bottom of the cylinder, all around. (Figure 4)

Figure 4
 Make sure the bottom ones and the top ones don't stand in the same vertical line. Each bottom one should be right between two top ones. (Figure 5)

Figure 5
 IV. Then on the sides, between each pair of grooves I made in stage III., i poked a round hole with my sculpting tool; see figures 6 and 7
Figure 6

Figure 7
 I deepened the vertical grooves to connect with the holes. (Figure 8)

Figure 8
 I did this all around the cylinder. This already looks a lot like the final product. (Figure 9)

Figure 9
 V. Since all this poking significantly deformed the initial cylinder form, I used the flat side of my knife to gently press it back into shape. (Figure 10)
Figure 10
VI. As it was expected, this damaged the look of the folds a little bit. So I picked up my pointy sculpting tool again and redefined all the folds. (Figure 11)

Figure 11
VII. The general shape got deformed again, though not nearly as much as the first time. So I repeated steps V. and VI. once more. Do this as many times it takes for you to be satisfied with the look. And this, figure 12, is it:

Figure 12
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As you can see, it's not that difficult. It just takes a lot of  going back and forth towards the end. You can use this technique to make a ruff of any size and diameter (for very big diameters you'll need a bigger underlying support, though). You can also use it to make a tutu ( useful for circus-themed conversions, for example). I like to put ruffs on the Countess' spirits.

Thank you for your attention and I hope you find the tutorial useful. If any of you readers have a more sophisticated technique for sculpting this, I would much appreciate your advice. : )

Monday 3 February 2014

L. A Murderous Out-of-body Experience

The Countess gets another violent spirit in her crew. This time it's her own!
The Countess is able to use a spell which severs a part of her soul and releases it from her body. The soul fragment manifests as the dreadful White Harpy. The creature is an ethereal flying monstrosity, a potent ally in battle. Not that fighting is its only use; the Countess oftentimes sends the Harpy out at night, to fly over her county followed by a retinue of Night Gaunts and scan the ground below. 

I went for a similar head as for the Countess, since I wanted the Harpy to clearly resemble her. They are both plastic Daemonette heads, only the Harpy's face being more monstrous in features and expression. The body is a Bloodletter's and the wings are from Dark Eldar Scourges. I replaced the feet with Plaguebearer sword blades. 

As I built the mini I took the opportunity to try a couple of new things:
Recently I finally got a rotary tool, to make pinning less of a chore and allow for more modelling possibilities. I used this to hollow out the chest and then install a skeleton torso in it.  I thought it would be cool to have cracks around the hole, so I dabbed the area with a thick layer of Agrellan Earth. I did that around the roots of the leg-blades and on a couple of spots on the back. Later I just painted over it normally, and the texture remained. I had no idea whether this would work, and I'm happy it did in the end. :)

The colours I used were the same as on the Countess since, as I mentioned before, I wanted them to be strongly visually linked.

The Countess and her etheric projection.

I feel this is one of my most bizarre creations so far.