Monday 18 December 2017

CXLIX. Shadespire: Steelheart's Champions

The final member of my Shadespire warband is finished, so here we finally have the complete Steelheart's Champions:

Severin Steelheart is the leader of the warband, and I wanted this to show on my model as well as it does on the original. When sculpting his helmet and chest armour, I borrowed heavily from the design of the Iudex Gundyr character (Dark Souls III).

The original Steelheart.
An early stage of converting.
This was captured not long before painting began. As before, the blue is the original model, the grey is other plastic bits and green/yellow is putty.


The Monster Competition at Ex Profundis reached its conclusion today as the results were announced on the blog. You can see the post with the winning entries here: LINK.  The winner is Surtep by Jan Warnke, while my Prince Arpad the Depraved took third place.

Thursday 14 December 2017

CXLVIII. Tutorial: Corroded Plate

By popular demand, I prepared a step-by-step of how I painted the rusted armour on my Shadespire Stormcast pair from earlier. I'll demonstrate it on a spare Liberator shield.

I. Starting from a dark undercoat, the whole thing is basecoated with a darker steel colour. I used Citadel's Leadbelcher.
II. This is then shaded with Agrax Earthshade, a dark brown matte wash. 
III. Using Typhus Corrosion and water to help blend it, slight texture is added. This is done in layers and selectively, with highest concentration in the least exposed areas where moisture would be retained the longest and where it is least likely for the layer of corrosion to be polished off. Typhus Corrosion is of consistency similar to a wash, but with more pigment and tiny granules that add texture to the paint. 
IV. Then the colouring of rust begins, first with Secret Weapon Red Rust. This line of weathering acrylics is easy to use and has a very matte, powdery finish. I always apply them in several watered-down coats to have better control over the intensity. Only as a finishing touch, where I want really strong rust, I use the paint straight out of the pot. A thing I noticed with these, though, is that they are always a bit darker when they dry, so keep that in mind. 
V. Orange Rust, also from Secret Weapon. The principle is the same as with the previous step. Layers are added until it feels like there is enough.
VI. Going back to the metallic base, edges of plates and details are picked out with a small brush. On larger flat areas, such as a breastplate or here on the front of the shield, light stippling with Leadbelcher can be used to add depth.
To finish it off, I would certainly recommend blacklining between the individual armour plates to separate them. On this shield, this wasn't really necessary, but I wanted to include this step in the demo.I often see people painting heavily weathered models in full plate without this step, and usually they end up looking like old statues. It just looks off, like the plates are fused. They would overlap, and move with the body, so there would be no unbroken rust deposits exactly where the plates meet in that particular pose in which the character was captured...

That is all for now. Severin Steelheart is in the works and should be joining his mates by next week.

Monday 11 December 2017

CXLVII. Shadespire: Obryn the Bold

Obryn the Bold, the second member of my version of Steelheart's Champions. He is a beefy fellow wielding a two-handed hammer. Same as with Angharad, I gave him an extensive armour makeover and a worn-out look with the paintjob.


The original model, for comparison.
Again, huge shoulder pads and weapon got replaced with something more reasonable. I also wanted him to have a full breastplate, so I resculpted that part.
The blue parts are the original mini, the grey is other bits and the green/yellow are putty.
In the meantime, I've played my first game of Shadespire. I'm happy to say I like the game, so the warband will not sit unused for sure.

Angharad and Obryn. Only one member left to do - the leader.
I've been asked a few times for a tutorial for this weathered armour. I just want to say haven't forgotten; it will appear here soon.

Saturday 2 December 2017

CXLVI. Shadespire: Angharad Brightshield

Bought Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire last week. From the time it was announced, the game was advertised as "the ultimate competitive miniatures game". Since I'm not one for competitive gaming (not that I have anything against that approach in general, I just prefer to invest my energy in other things), I was mildly put off initially, but as I learnt more I warmed up to the idea of starting it. I like the small count of miniatures and gaming implements needed, the short play time for a single game, rules simple to learn but not dumbed-down, as well as the not too steep price of warbands. What I don't appreciate is the fact each warband comes with new cards any warband can use, so in order to have all the card options for anyone warband one must buy all the warbands. However, I don't need all the cards... And even if I want to, I can borrow or proxy. I do not intend to play this in tournaments. Anyway, saw this as opportunity to convert some Dark Age of Sigmar Stormcast. Only three models for a complete playable warband. Nice.

I am not thrilled with the Stormcast aesthetics, but I don't hate them either. They possess enough elements I fancy that I feel they have a lot of potential. With the Shadespire three I want to make some darker-looking Stormcast Eternals. I've been looking mostly at Dark Souls game series art books for inspiration. I have ideas for more customised Shadespire warbands, but must stop myself before it gets out of hand...
Stormcast Liberatress Angharad Brightshield was a smith in her past life, according to the book.
Put a golden sun on her tower shield; seemed appropriate to explain why they call her Brightshield.

With this conversion, first order of business was to reduce the way over-the-top things: shoulder pads, voluptuous boob plate, oversized hammer. Then I swapped the sidearm with a more medieval looking one, added chainmail in place of scales on the front, added some keys to fill a spot that seemed empty of detail, sculpted tassets and rondels, reshaped the shield and helmet. I'd say most of it is not even obvious at first glance on the painted model.

The blue plastic is the original model. The grey parts are from other plastic kits, and the yellow and green areas are putty.
The original model, for comparison.

Angharad's two comrades are still on sprue, but I expect they will follow soon enough.

*   *   * 
Also working on a cave entrance; another addition to the Wilderness terrain set and the final piece for Monstrous Births scenarios. It's polystyrene, clay and an old CD for a base. Quick and simple, nothing that hasn't been seen here before, so I won't go into detail. Still WIP, as it needs grass and some highlights on the rocks. 

Friday 10 November 2017

CXLV. Abhorrant Ghoul Queen's Court: Varghulf Courtier

Arpad the Depraved, Prince of Folda; Queen Ligia's vicious feral child. A monster, feared both by his enemies and his mother's pathetic ghoul subjects.

Arpad was a foreign knight, trapped and converted by Ligia. During decades of undeath, his body gradually morphed into its current horrifying form. 


Varghulf Courtiers are huge vampires that have gone completely feral.

"Within every Vampire lurks a predatory creature, driven to feed on blood time and again. There are a few Vampires who embrace their thirst, who allow the bestial hunter within to take over. These are the Varghulfs - blood-mad killers that exist only to feed. A Varghulf's main weapon is a wide mouth filled with dagger-like fangs capable of puncturing armour and crushing bone. They use their immense claws to strip flesh from bones, the better to suck at the marrow of their prey."

"The varghulfs are entirely devoted to their liege, and so are more trusted to enact his vision upon the Mortal Realms than any of the other courtiers. Varghulfs drink long and deep from their master’s veins, and so theirconnection with the court’s sovereign is strong."
W:AoS Death Battletome: Flesh-eater Courts 


The mini dates back to the Vampire Counts release in 2008. I came across the issue of White Dwarf where the redesign of the faction was discussed. The Varghulf creature, which had not existed in the fluff before that time, was based on one of John Blanche's sketches. The rules and background for it were invented after the concept sketch. This was pre-Finecast days, so originally the mini was metal. I actually like everything about it except the pose...



Since I made Ligia out of a Techpriest Dominus, I knew I had to make something from Belisarius Cawl. Looking at the available options within the faction, I elected to turn the model into a Varghulf Courtier. Prince Arpad is much more feral-looking than the Queen, with fur, long claws, and his snarling wolf head (the name suggests a wolf-like creature to me, rather than a bat). I veered away from the official background when I chose to make my Varghulf flightless; and I intend to play him ignoring the Fly ability on his warscroll. Also, there's those extra legs - but I think that goes well with that 10'' Move stat.    

Belisarius Cawl comes with a mass of characterful bits and pieces, making him a very busy model (which works in his case). I left off all of those extras and assembled only the core of the model. Many details still needed to be sanded away, and the numerous mechanical limbs under the robe had to be replaced with organic ones. I used Bloodletter and Kroot feet, and a left hand of a Poxwalker.
That's actually a deer head underneath the green stuff. Only the eyes were left untouched.
There were many little details to work out all over the model. My biggest concern was sculpting the head and hands right.
I liked the mechanical hands' pose, so I used that as a skeleton on which I built flesh and skin with green stuff. The clay shapers I got recently were absolutely essential for this task.
Arpad posing with his mother.

Saturday 4 November 2017

CXLIV. November

So, Gardens of Hecate rolls into its sixth year. 

Looking back on year five, it can be said it was a productive one. Back in January I listed my plans for it, and I'm happy to say I was successful at accomplishing these goals. I've built and painted a Swampfiend Malifaux crew with accompanying gaming aids, the Cult of Vvolos warband for use in AoS skirmish and Frostgrave, started another AoS28 band - the Flesh-eater Court of Folda, a few display pieces, then there were minis for Tor Megiddo and Monstrous Births. Sharing my work on Facebook, which is something I didn't use to do before, connected me to more people (but I stil very, very much prefer to publish on a blog). I took part in several local painting competitions and tournaments, did more hobby skill teaching at UMS "Agram", won an RPG writing contest in Poland with Witold, travelled to Finland to fight in a desert... A very good year, hobbywise. Hoping this one will be at least as good. :)

*   *   *

The fifth and final Misshapen Deer is finished. Monstrous Births is one small terrain piece away from being played.
This one has a parasitic twin and abnormal antlers.

Finally got the tools I needed, so my experimentation with sculpting can move further.

Back to work now. That Ex Profundis monster contest entry is not going to convert itself...

Thursday 12 October 2017

CXLIII. Tor Megiddo

I'm back from the trip, recovered from it, so now it's time for a report. First, I'd like to say I'm glad that I went. Had a great time, met 'in the flesh' the great creative people with whom I'd been only communicating online. And, of course, saw their work in person. Thanks, everyone. A special honour goes to Alexander Winberg, who did a huge amount of work; he organized things really well, wrote the codex, made the table on which we played and made us all feel welcome in Helsinki. 

For the sake of those readers who are hearing about this for the first time, I'll explain what the event was about. Tor Megiddo was a collaborational project by hobbyists from the INQ28 crowd. Around a dozen people from different parts of the world were invited. Not all were able to make it in the end, so there were eight of us playing the game. Those who were not there still sent the minis they made for the project to serve as NPCs and monsters. In line with the INQ28 philosophy: the stress was on building and painting unique minis specifically for the event, inventing their backgrounds and playing out a story, while the rules were kept very loose and simple so that they don't get in the way of a good time. 

I wrote my report from the perspective of my warband. There was a lot happening on the table with so many players, and I could not keep track of all parts of the board. There were certainly many interesting moments elsewhere, like the duel of the Slåsbil and the Valkyre. Most of the other participants have their own blogs, and they will make their own write-ups, so I'm sure one will be able to figure out a more complete picture of the battle when these individual accounts are combined.

Places to look; blogs and sites of people who were there and other contributors: Echoes of Imperium, Wilhelminiatures, Secrets of the Void, The Convertorum, 'Nordics_minis' on Instagram, Bigbossredskullz, WarbossKurgan, Between the Bolter and Me. There was also lot of coverage on The Inquisitorium, the INQ28 Facebook group.   

*   *   *

 The New Transhumans

Right before dawn on that day, strange news come to the warlord triumvirate of the New Transhumans. They say that mighty quake that shook the ground the day before opened the Valley of Defilement. In the Valley the Promethean Tower was sealed, forgotten for a long time. The legendary seas of promethium lie beneath. And everyone else is already on their way. The three warlords agree they must act quickly. They have done this before... Warlord Balvan and his most trusted warriors grab their battlegear and rush towards the mega-cannons. The engineers start calculating the ballistics... Balvan's cousins Kugla and Kriegla rally their own men, fuel the trucks, saddle the beasts. As three thunderous cannon shots are fired skyward, the tribe's motorised force spills out of the fort gate. It is on.

The Battle of the Promethean Tower

Warbands descend on the Tower from all sides, opening fire at the unsuspecting locals. The first few civilian victims fall. Warlord Balvan and his warband crash around the centre of the battlefield - one of the pods landing on the Promethean Tower's lower platform and the other two at the base of the tower some distance away. The marksmen Theg and Smet start with firing some shots at the advancing enemy with mixed success, while the berserkers Hobotnik and Folf and their leader head for the the Tower with intentions to climb up its sides. Their mission is clear - claim the tower complex and hold it as long as you can - buying time until the tribe's main force arrives across the red desert. 

Theg exchanges shots with the mutant cavalry that galloped in from the south of the valley, and gets quickly shot down. Pathetic. Meanwhile, Balvan reaches a ladder, but an enormous purple truck pulls in, with a clear intention of turning him into roadkill. The warlord manages to step out of the way of the cumbersome vehicle, but seconds later another fortress on wheels tries to run him over. The final straw was the crew's attempt to burn Balvan with flame throwers; shouting vile curses, he raises his power fist and punches the truck in the face.

Balvan punching a truck.

Sounds of battle and engines are increasing in volume on all sides. As Folf reaches the top of the north Promethean Tower, he sees the surroundings - bikes, armoured vehicles, horsemen and warriors of many desert tribes, known and unknown to him. This will be a tough fight. But Folf did not have much time to contemplate on that, as the top of the tower was guarded - by none other than Machromonicum the 83rd, the Lord of Lead. The berserker's heart filled with excitement - he imagined all the glory he would win if he takes this mighty foe's head, here at the top of the Tower, in full sight of all. Folf swung his buzzing chainsword readily.

On the southern part of the Promethean Tower, Hobotnik begins his ascent in hope to find someone to kill there. The shots from trigger-happy mutant gunslingers ricochet around him as he climbs. He notices the familliar scavenger warriors with whom the Transhumans have a feeble alliance. Soon their walker reaches the tower and warriors step outside on the platform. They seem to have no intention to fight Hobotnik, and focus fire on the mutant gunslingers below. Hobotnik looks up the tower and sees the guards of the Lord of Lead. Heads for the ladder to climb to the top. 

Around that time a heavily armoured vehicle coming from the north plows through a suspicious pit of uneven ground to the east of the Tower. The ground suddenly shakes, and from the pit three toothed heads on long, serpentine necks emerge. The worms commence spewing toxic bile at the unfortunate souls around them...

The Sand Worms emerge.

As he pulls his massive fist from the hole he made in the armoured truck's front a moment ago, Balvan hears engine revving behind his back. Instinctively, he hurls himself to the left, just as the purple truck from earlier smashes into the heavily armoured truck... Balvan could have been flattened between the two. Talk about reckless driving... As much has he would love the bragging rights that would come with single-handedly punching a truck into a lump of scrap iron, he remembers his mission. Before the murderous trucks have time to turn around, he runs to the ladder and climbs up the platform. Since he was having so much fun with the trucks, he only just realised that warriors of other tribes are closing in on him. The Scrap Queen and her boys, the famed Blue Ruin, and something that looks like a walking tower made of meat... A few explosions sound from below, but Balvan cannot see what caused them. On the platform he finds Smet, taking cover behind his crash pod and happily firing away. A look up the tower reveals see Folf swinging his weapons maniacally at a crooked robed figure. 

Folf vs the Lord of Lead.

The meaty walker, which seems to be an actual living animal of incredible size, unloads its passengers at the end of the platform and moves on to engage someone else. The warriors that came out of the piglike beast lock eyes with Balvan and advance menacingly. The Scrap Queen herself rushes towards the Tower on her many mechanical legs. She is incredibly fast. Balvan grabs Smet and orders him to climb up to the Tower's summit, where Folf is still furiously battling the Lord of Lead. They won't let him take all the glory.
The lumbering Tor, a walking derelict promethium rig approaches from the distance. It is heading towards the Tower, minding not the battle around its unsteady metal feet.

It is becoming more and more crowded around the Tower.
On the south end of the Tower complex, the mutants have jumped off their misshapen steeds and met the scrapper allies of the Transhumans. Hobotnik finally sees an opportunity to butcher someone, and charges towards that melee, cutting mutants left and right. Just when they were all done away with, an ear-piercing, headache-inducing sound comes from below. The allies stumble around, stunned.

Hobotnik and the muties.

The Promethean Tower complex shakes as the Tor pulls to a halt leaning on the central platform. 

One of the folk that came out of the giant pig's harness, a hulking barbarian, noticed the Scrap Queen climbing up the tower's side, right beneath Folf and Smet's crash pod. With his immense strength he manages to push the heavy ball over the edge of the platform right on top of the unsuspecting Queen. She falls down, raising a cloud of dust. However, it is but a scratch... And now she is mad.  She goes back up to deal with the cur and anyone else who stands in her way.

The Scrap Queen about to be hit by a ball.

When Balvan and Smet get to the top, Folf is still struggling to kill the Lord. His heart sinks when he sees his mates, as he knows that now the kill will not be only his... All three of them advance against the Techpriest. He is much tougher than he looks...

Meanwhile, Hobotnik's drugged up mind all of a sudden recalls that he was supposed to climb the Tower, and with utter disregard for his allies, he leaps towards the ladder. Still reeling from the sound attack, some of them get kicked out of the way and fall from the platform, possibly to their deaths. The scrappers are in a hurry too, and as soon as they regain their composure they race past Hobotnik, with equal disregard of his safety. Warriors of both warbands head up the south tower, falling over each other.

The Bird of Hermes swoops in from the high skies and proceeds to sail silently over the battle. An ill omen... As if it knows something the humans do not, the Tor suddenly steps away from the Tower, and walks straight away from it, towards north-east. 

Bird of Hermes.

Supported by his warriors, Balvan finally manages to strike the final blow to the turbulent priest, and the Lord of Lead falls from the tower broken, crumpling into the dust below. There is no time for respite, though. The Lord's guards on the bridge between the towers roar in anger and begin firing furiously at the barbarians. The Scrap Queen appears, seemingly out of nowhere. She must have scaled the Tower's side. The three warriors, bleeding and exhausted by the fight, prepare to make a stand against the new threat.

And then, from the rickety shacks to the south-east, a projectile is fired from a hijacked turret. The Promethean Tower is hit directly, promethium ignites and explodes. Fire rains on the surroundings. A chain reaction occurs, blowing up the entire tower complex and everyone on it...
*   *   *

Everything getting blown up was really a fitting ending to the game, I must say.

The crew started brainstorming ideas for the next gathering as soon as we were done with this one and sat down to have a pint at the end of the day. There is definitely interest, so I expect there will be another one of these next year, in one form or another. Anyway, time for me to get back on track with my own small projects now.