Saturday 26 August 2017

CXXXIX. The Bark Fiend

My latest endeavour. I'm churning things out quite rapidly these days... I guess August is compensating for the complete silence that was July. Made the fellow primarily for use with my Malifaux Zoraida crew (as Mysterious Emissary), but I reckon it will see the table as a witch's construct in the Gardens setting and as some sort of creature in Frostgrave, as well.

The Bark Fiend. In the Gardens setting it's a lankier cousin of the Moss Monster, both being magically animated constructs built by witches out of decaying plant material and animal bones.


The original model.

The carnivorous vegetation and changelings that are meant to be a part of Emissary's base did not have a place here. I fixed a horse skull from GW Black Knights kit on top of the original head like a mask (this involved some filing). The jaw bone was split in two and hung on the creature's chest like grim ornaments. Next, it needed antlers - sizable ones, but not as impressive as Moss Monster's. I knew I wouldn't be placing much moss on this one, so I reckoned it could use some Milliput fungi on the limbs to provide extra detail. Converting was done in an evening, and painting the morning after.
Just like the Moss Monster/Bad Juju was based on the Ancient Leshen from The Witcher 3 videogame, the Bark Fiend was made to resemble a 'regular' Leshen, to some degree. The Mysterious Emissary model's physique is much more akin to the source material than Bad Juju's hulking frame. What I dislike about the Leshen design in the game is the cloth skirt they wear. I purposefully left that out.   
Happy Tree Friends

Tuesday 22 August 2017

CXXXVIII. Abhorrant Ghoul Queen's Court: Abhorrant Ghoul Queen

Queen Ligia the Ever-living, leader of my FEC warband and sovereign of the Ghoul city-state of Folda.



"In the midst of this pit of monsters sits the Abhorrant Ghoul King upon a throne of mortal remains. Tall and powerful, everything about the king screams that he is a bestial predator, from his lithe, corded muscles to the dark hunger in his inhuman gaze. However, this is not what the king and his followers see. To the king, he sits upon a gilt throne in a great hall...."
 W:AoS Death Battletome: Flesh-eater Courts

So, like all the rest of the lot, the ruler of a Flesh-eater Court shares in the delusion of grandeur while in fact being a blood-sucking fiend. 

"Within the madness of a Flesh-eater Court, each has their role. The king is lord and master of all, standing at the head of the hierarchy. Sometimes, he might create other abhorrants to share in this glory, though they usually remain subservient to the king’s desires. (...) For example, the Giblet Prince is the heir apparent and closest to his king. The Offal Queen oversees the blood-nurseries, caring for the newest of the brood, and making sure they feed regularly on the red bounty their father provides."
W:AoS Death Battletome: Flesh-eater Courts

Oh, I see... I guess my ghoul realm is strangely progressive then...


What were vampires of Strigoi bloodline in the Old World became Abhorrant Ghoul Kings in AoS. This model comes only as part of Terrorgeist/Zombie Dragon plastic kit. It's roughly human-sized.



First of all, I wanted to have a female vampire rather than a male one. There are GW lady vampires, but if you look at the available miniatures, they all follow the same pattern: that of a deadly, classy seductress. That's not the archetype I'm looking for here. To match my interpretation of FEC lore, my ruler needed to be both ferocious and regal - a beast draped in tattered finery. 

I liked the pose and crookedness of the body of the Techpriest Dominus model, and I'd been looking for an excuse to use it for a conversion since its release. The initial concept had Ligia wear a huge ruff and fancier attire. This got scrapped in favour of a more battle-ready look. I replaced the ruff with furs, which are still a fancy accessory. The elegant cane that supports her crooked frame remained as another symbol of her high status. There is not too much bling (there could be more, actually), but she does wear a lot of rings. The polished war horn on her hip is a tool for summoning and commanding her loyal troops. She does not look like she is bursting with muscle, but remember that under that tattered dress is a leering undead monster towering over even the tallest a human.

Bits list: Techpriest Dominus body and cane arm, Belisarius Cawl left arm, Daemonette head, tail and horn from Space Wolves, bits of chainmail from an Ogre Irongut gutplate. The rest is putty.
Hybrid of Milliput and Green Stuff proved great for sculpting chainmail and fur.

I actually began the conversion late June, and back then it was headed in a different direction. I didn't like how it was turning out and it frustrated me, so I put her away in the box reserved for projects that frustrate me. Only this week I picked her up again, cut off all the putty and started over. This time it worked!
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I believe now I have enough models for a small playable warband. Neat. Before continuing with various courtiers I'll do another batch of common ghouls. Conversion ideas have spawned in the interim. 

Saturday 19 August 2017

CXXXVII. Wodewose

The frame for my wose sculpt is done, and now I can call the piece finished.

In regard to sculpting, my next goal will be a tad smaller, better proportioned and differently posed wose. When I manage to get that right, I think I'll make a whole group of them, with different weapons, shields and beard styles...

Thursday 17 August 2017

CXXXVI. Black Phillip

I'll be roleplaying a witch character in a Pathfinder adventure soon, so I thought I'd convert and paint miniature representations of her and her goat familiar. I'm still searching for a suitable witch (if you know of any interesting female witch minis, or something that could be converted into a middle-aged witch, I'm open to suggestions). I had material for the goat at home, so I got to work. 

"Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?"

It used to be a plastic toy. Came in the same bag of farm animals that serve as leg donors for my misshapen deer. It doesn't scale well with 28-30mm figures, being way larger than a goat should be. However, for use in an RPG its actual size is of little importance, and I can get even away with using it as a Minor Demon in Frostgrave. I did try to find a goat miniature that would actually be to scale, but unfortunately none of the sculpts I came across caught my eye.
There was plenty to do. First, I cut out a section of its body, since it looked too long. I replaced its poor wobbly horns with a proper pair from plastic Beastmen. Most time went on sculpting all the shaggy fur. Since this goat is a buck I added the appropriate parts of anatomy.
Black Phillip and Zora the Hag. Here it's visible how huge the beast actually is.
The inspiration for even picking a goat for my character's familiar came from The Witch (2015), a beautifully atmospheric, slow-burn period horror piece directed by Robert Eggers. Of course, the film in turn drew its inspiration from folklore... Anyway, there is a goat in the film, named Black Phillip, who plays a part in the supernatural events plaguing his owners - an unfortunate puritan family. If you like the kind of horror that doesn't rely on abundance of jump-scares or gratuitous gore, I heartily recommend this film.

Monday 14 August 2017

CXXXV. Woodland Creatures

The second misshapen deer for Monstrous Births scenarios. This one has slightly different deformities than the first - most obviously the long muzzle and tusks that make it somewhat boar-like. I gave it some chaotically growing antlers. The mess with the limbs is quite familiar, though. I think they will all end up with creative number, placement and size of legs... I'm going for five, so that's three more to go.
The two finished deer, side by side.
The conversion was very like the first - Citadel deer and horse parts plus cheap plastic toy limbs and putty.

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After some dabbling with modelling shield designs, I've made an attempt to sculpt an entire humanoid figure from scratch. This is the result:

The sculpt has an old-school vibe. I reckoned this sort of style would be easier to work in, for a beginner. One step at a time... I'll make a scenic base for him soon so that he gets a proper frame.
I layered green stuff over a wire armature. Since it's a monster I didn't pay too much attention to size - he ended up 38mm tall, which would not do for a human at 28-35mm scale.
I had most fun with the face, of course.
This is the finished sculpt. I learned a few things and got some useful practice. On the next attempt I will try to make the head and hands smaller in proportion to the body. And I need to be more patient when rendering the fur texture, there are parts that look quite untidy. But I am very happy with this first try, which motivates me to take it further with the subsequent ones. I made a mould of the shield so that I can convert a few more variants. On this shield I tried out a hybrid mixture of green stuff and Milliput - it was better for that particular job than either one of the putties pure.
I'd made a Wodewose figure before (can't believe it was an entire year ago...). Now that I look at it, it's not that good. There are some problems with the posture as well as anatomy. I can see it getting scrapped, as soon as I manage to scratch-build a better one.

*   *   *

I got an idea for a new illustrated poker deck, this time with much more elaborate artwork. I don't have time to get into that project properly for now, so I think it will stay on only this one card for a while. I'll just leave it here as a teaser.

The XIII of Blood.

Sunday 6 August 2017


A tiny parcel arrived to my door a couple weeks ago. It was from none other than John Blanche, and it contained a delicate resin 40mm figure. It's a rare treat, being that it is not a commercially available model, but rather one out of just three copies manufactured for John as a private commission. He was kind enough to gift me one of them, and this weekend I finally found enough time to properly introduce her to the brush.

I have considered a number of different colour schemes, but in the end I gave in to my favourite combination: black, red and white.
The tattoo on her right upper arm is the symbol for the Zodiac sign Scorpio (my own birth sign).
The boots and the sort of glove were glossed up using Vallejo water effect.

The tattoo on her back is a stylized letter F.

The base is also resin; 40mm cobblestone from Micro Art Studio.

The painting process was enjoyable. The only issue I had was with her face - it is very difficult to access without cutting something off first, and that I did not dare do.

The figure was sculpted by Kev White. The resin cast came as a single piece and it held detail well. There were a few mould lines here and there, but they weren't difficult to get rid of. 
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Thursday 3 August 2017

CXXXIII. Agram Arena Summer 2017, Zagreb

The blog had a month-long hiatus, but now I'm back with reports of what occurred in the meantime.

Black Queen 

Hobby and Miniature Painting Competition

UMS "Agram"'s annual painting comp was held during the second weekend of the Arena, parallel with a Warhammer 40k tournament. I bring some new work to the contest every year. This time I managed to take home five medals and a bag of prizes kindly provided by the event's sponsors.

My entries that placed in the comp - the Tor Megiddo technobarbarians, the stag beetle duel, Space Marine Terminator Librarian (painted as a birthday gift for my brother) and the Moss Monster (not in the picture). And these are most of the prizes that came with my medals. Looks like I'll be painting some busts in the future.

Space Marine Librarian. I haven't shown him here before. A nice figure, even though I don't find Space Marines particularly attractive.

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AAS'17 Malifaux tournament

The third and final weekend if the Agram Arena Summer event we had a Malifaux tournament. I was happy that I managed to finish my entire Swampfiends crew in time for the tourney, complete with its display base and markers and tokens. The updates on that are included further below.

Along with the local players, this year we received participants from Austria and Poland, who came for the first time, and a party from Bulgaria that has been visiting the Arena for three years now. The tourney consists of six games played over two days, and traditionally begins with a pre-tournament get-together in a pub the evening before. The weather that weekend was not too great - I am not fond of summer heat, but we all pulled through successfully. The Austrians dominated the tourney, taking the first five places. I was in the lower middle of the chart, but my Swampfiends took home the Best Painted Crew award. They had tough competition to beat.

A pleasant Arena once more, had a good time.  

Above photos courtesy of UMS "Agram".
If you're interested in a more extensive report of the tourney, written from the perspective of our Polish guest, you can find it on his blog here: What The Faux

I played a few friendly games in the comfort of my own home, too. Pictured here: Zoraida's Swampfiends versus Rasputina's blue popsicles. The amount of forest scenery I put on the table worked too much in my favour. I need to add more variety in terms of terrain types when hosting games of regular Malifaux.


*   *   *

Before the Arena I needed to come up with Scheme markers and Tree markers for my Swampfiends. Originally I intended these to be hand-painted, but my deadline was approaching and I was running out of time. Rather than rushing the painting, I came up with a quicker and easier solution that still looks good.

30mm Scheme Markers.
50mm Tree Markers. These are placed by the Waldgeists' Germinate action. If there is more than one Waldgeist in play it is important to keep track which pair of trees belongs to which Waldgeist. This is why I marked them with their faces and numbers, which match the ones on their respective stat cards.
The markers were made out of the figures' packaging. I cut out the parts of the boxes that had artwork on them and glued the cut-outs on MDF bases. I distressed the edges to cover up the imperfections of my cut. Hoarding those boxes has finally payed off...
The final set of models I was missing were the Gupp swarms. The official Gupps are rather cute, but too cartoony for my version of this crew. Once more I turn to the Hobbit goblin kit for bodies. The fish heads are copies of the fish familliar's head from WHQ Silver Tower. The number of heads poking out of the water indicates whether it is swarm 1, 2 or 3.

The display base I made is rather basic; not impressive in itself. But it does serve its twofold purpose well. It enhances the crew's presentation by framing it, and during a tournament I can use it as a tray to carry my models to the next table. Since it is flat it was not difficult to transport the base itself to and from the tourney. 
The base is actually a picture frame. I used MDF base extensions as slots for the minis' bases. This didn't work perfectly because MDF expanded slightly due to moisture from clay, glue and painting. The tight fitting bases no longer fit, so they needed filing down. I don't think my next display base will have slots at all. I had the display base in mind long before, so in advance I dressed the minis' bases according to their planned position on the display.

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The weekend after the tournament I went to see Trakošćan - a castle in northern Croatia. I had been there at least twice before, but that was 15+ years ago, so it seemed it was time to revisit the place. It left a lasting impression on me as a child; I was curious how I would perceive it now.

The castle stands atop a small hill, and the estate that surrounds it includes a park, a forest and a lake. It dates back to 13th century, when it was a small fortress. It was later upgraded with towers and improved defences, to sustain the fire of Turkish guns. Once it lost its strategic significance, Trakošćan was converted into a residence. For a long period of its existence the castle was in possession of the Drašković family. The name of the castle is thought to be a warped combination of Latin "draco" and German "Stein", which would translate to Dragonstone. Nowadays it is open to the public as a museum. 

It was not much different than I remembered it. There are plenty of rooms to explore, filled with furniture, paintings, arms and armour, trophies and other useful reference material for Castle Wayvode. However, photography is prohibited...   

Since I was not allowed to photograph the rooms, I was hoping to be able to buy a monograph about the castle or a catalogue of the museum exhibits, but I found no such thing at the site. I'll have to search elsewhere, it seems. The museum's website is nice enough, though. The EXHIBITION section gives a few lines about each of the rooms, and one can even take a 360 virtual tour.

I did take a couple photos in the courtyard.

Stone wall reference.
Rock reference.