Monday 13 March 2017

CXX. Making of Forest Photo Background and Urion's Daemon

I've been asked more than once about how I made the photo background I've been using with my Cult of Vvolos miniatures. I took WIP photos at a few different stages in case I wanted to make a tutorial, and it turns out there is a demand for one. So let us begin.
As is usually the case, the project began as a sketch. I actually had two ideas, as you can see in the above image. The forest version ended up getting made this time. The other one is more complex and I think it would be even more effective. There is nothing stopping me from making another one, so I expect that at some point I will.
When deciding on the size for this thing I tailored it to my own needs - I mean to use it for photographing small warbands and single figures, and the largest of them will probably be the giant I have planned for later. Whatever you mean to photograph, make sure your background is large enough to accommodate it.
The body of the background are two pieces of polystyrene. I only had at hand sheets that have a patterned texture on them. It would have been better if I had smooth ones because this way I had to get rid of the texture first. I experimented here with papier mache and plaster but I should have just sanded the surface until it was smooth. I suggest you do just that (if you are using textured polystyrene sheets). I added dry twigs I found in the woods to act as trunks for my miniature trees.

When the previous step got dry it was time to break out the DAS air drying clay and get sculpting. The trees' roots and branches took shape.
Took me a while to make all the branches. I went for this weird alien look, but realistic trees could also be easily made this way. Another way to do this, with much less clay, would be by using real tree roots you collect on a hiking trip.
When the clay cured I added some polystyrene rocks and sand on the ground. I used plaster to fill some holes between branches and further blend the bits together on the trees. There is also polystyrene added on top of the trees to make the base for the leaves. After this I could start painting.
I painted it and textured it with basing products so that it matches the bases on my warband. As you can see above, I didn't bother with any part of this object that will be cropped out of photos when I use it. There is really no need for out-of-frame parts looking presentable because nobody will be able to see them anyway.
That's it. It's not too difficult to make something like this, and it really helps give context and atmosphere to figures you photograph on it. I'll definitely continue using mine and make more such backgrounds to add variety and interest. If you're new at the blog and wish to know more about how I make scenery I suggest you take a look at the posts labelled Cemetery Project and Wilderness Project.

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 Urion's Daemon

Urion's Daemon and his elder brother Okko.
I took a commission to convert and paint a daemon similar to my recent offering Okko. I was given nearly complete freedom with it, which is wonderful (and not typical in my own experience with working commissions so far). 

Urion, the client, gave me a couple images to demonstrate what sort of look he would like. This Miller piece immediately caught my attention, so we agreed I would make something like the critter above. I went with a different colour scheme, which, now that I look at him, gives him the look of Akki goblins from MTG.
I started with Bloodletter torso, Horror arms and Plaguebearer legs from my bits box. Once these were properly connected, I sculpted the rest with green stuff and Milliput.
The back was the most fun part for me.
This is at a very late stage of converting. The head was the last thing I did, and the most difficult. The painting was done in one sitting. It often happens when I paint a conversion; I just can't wait to see how it will look in the end.

Wednesday 8 March 2017

CXIX. The Cult of Vvolos: Iulia Docta-Sophosse

We got to the warband's leader, the necromancer Iulia Docta-Sophosse herself.

Iulia Docta-Sophosse and Ikorid the Apprentice.
When designing the look of Iulia, I wanted her and Ikorid to share certain visual cues. They are a wizard and her apprentice, and the idea was that this relationship should be immediately apparent. I went with robed figures for both, but the wizard needed to look more impressive. That's why she has bigger, branchier horns and more clutter on her staff. She also happens to be physically larger. The robes are both yellow, but the wizard's has a patterned trim. The same pattern can be seen on the rondel hanging from Ikorid's horn - it's present but much less prominent. I toyed with the idea to give Ikorid a small book but I found there was not enough space for it on the miniature. Adding it would actually take away from its effectiveness. Therefore I decided it was better to leave it out.

Iulia is a humpbacked hag of unknown age. In the hierarchy of the Cult she does not rank too high. Her band of undead minions is small and her House not very influential. However, she harbours an ambition become a member of the council that rules the kingdom. Vvolos demands gold and souls as sacrifice. Like many other necromancers, Iulia sets off on expeditions of looting and raiding to procure what her daemonic patron wants. But she also seeks knowledge for herself, and prestige and wealth that come with success.
Iulia hopes her expeditions will help her advance through the ranks of the Cult of Vvolos, all the way to the top. Her apprentice seems to be plotting something. Nothing out of the ordinary in that society; it does not worry her. But it might soon be time to get rid of him and find a fresh one again... 
The open spell-tome offered chance for freehand, even though it ended up partially obscured by the antlers. I put a devil on one page and illuminated text on the other.
Since I started from a metal Lord Skrolk, I had a lot of cutting and filing to do. The rat face, feet and tail had to go. I also got rid of the censer from the staff and a few minor details here and there. 
When I got rid of all the unwanted metal I had to resculpt some things. Since it was mostly robes I could do most of it with Milliput. I put a plastic bell where the censer used to be.
Finally, I added Blightking antlers on the head and then coated the whole figure with watered-down liquid green stuff to even out the texture.

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I'm a big fan of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles. Just last week I finished writing a paper about it for one of my classes. Researching and writing about it made me appreciate the novel even more, but it was a pretty stressful process. I decided to celebrate its completion with a quick and relaxed paintjob inspired by the book.

"A hound it was, an enormous coal-black hound, but not such a hound as mortal eyes have ever seen. Fire burst from its open mouth, its eyes glowed with a smouldering glare, its muzzle and hackles and dewlap were outlined in flickering flame. Never in the delirious dream of a disordered brain could anything more savage, more appalling, more hellish be conceived than that dark form and savage face which broke upon us out of the wall of fog." 
 (The Hound of the Baskervilles by A.C. Doyle, Chapter 14)

This is Bargest. He is a large, black, reanimated dog; a fitting pet for a necromancer. To make the beast even more frightening, Iulia treats its mouth and eyes with a luminous preparation of phosphorus that gives it the appearance of a phantom hell hound. The model is a Canine Remains from first edition era of Malifaux. No converting was needed. I simulated a phosphorescent substance on his eyes and mouth. I hope the effect is at least somewhat visible in these photos.
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I'm coming quite close to completing this warband. Since I intend to use it for a future Frostgrave campaign I'm making more models than necessary to start, so that I can have later hires ready for use when the time comes to expand. This is the starting warband I have in mind:

  • Wizard (Summoner)
  • Apprentice
  • 3 Thugs
  • 2 Archers
  • Man at Arms
  • Crossbowman
  • Hound
  • + an Imp and a Minor Demon because my Wizard can summon them with spells.

What I have so far are the Wizard (Iulia), Apprentice (Ikorid), the Archers (Albrecht and Ieronymus), Man at Arms (Kettelhelm), Crossbowman (Wilhelm), Hound (Bargest) and a summonable Imp (Okko). I just need another demon and three lowly Thugs to have my starting 10 crewmen + 2 summonables.
As you've seen I already have a Knight, Templar and Barbarian for later in the campaign. I'm planning to add a couple more characters to that at some point.

For the roles of Thugs I'll cast a trio of low-ranking cultists of Vvolos. Skaven Plague Monks will do great as conversion material. I found them on ebay for a really affordable price and they arrived recently. They are currently waiting for their turn under the knife and green stuff in the company of a future Ranger.
The warband's background and the setting are gradually getting fleshed out as I go along. I'm revealing bit by bit as things fall into place in my head. I'll probably go back later and write it as a short text for the warband's own page on the blog.

Thursday 2 March 2017

CXVIII. The Cult of Vvolos: Okko, a Lesser Daemon

Back to the Cult. Vvolos bestows special knowledge on his more powerful cultists. One kind of thing they are given is mastery over some of Vvolos' daemonic underlings. The yellow-robed sorcerers know how to summon certain daemons. If the complicated rite is done correctly the summoned daemon must obey the summoner and aid them in their tasks. Daemons do not enjoy this, and will gladly turn on their controller if they are not careful enough and somehow botch the summoning and binding ritual. Messing with these otherworldly creatures of Chaos comes at a cost.


I wanted the figure to evoke medieval and renaissance depictions of devils. Next one may end up with a second face on his belly or arse...


It was originally a Goblin from the Hobbit miniatures game. Gave hime Plaguebearer arm with a pitchfork from the plastic GW Giant kit. Sculpted the face with green stuff.
A later stage. Wings are heavy paper soaked in PVA and covered with liquid green stuff. The beard is static grass and tiny tree roots + PVA.
Right before painting.When the painting was done I added bits of real bird feather to the wings.You can see this detail in all the finished pics.
Okko and Ikorid.