Friday, 20 April 2018

CLXX. Great Unclean One Sculpted

Wilhelminiatures blog is holding a Great Unclean One competition. It allows any version of the Greater Daemon of Nurgle model, custom sculpts, and even artwork. You can find the rules here: GUO COMP. Still a couple weeks left until the deadline, so if you have a potential entry you may still make it.

I saw this challenge as an opportunity to do some sculpting, and opted to make my own GUO from scratch. Now, I don't need a full-sized one for gaming (especially not the size they are now, with the latest plastic iteration), so I rather made a downscaled one. It will take up less space. If I ever want to use the model, it can be cast as some kind of lesser daemon. It's roughly Blightking-sized, and sits on a 40mm round MDF base.





The sculpting is not perfect, but I like what I've made here. Waiting for putty to cure so I can move on to the next bit is still so difficult! I wanna do everything at once, but I can't. Training patience.





I've seen some of the entries already, and they're excellent. I'm sure the comp will be a lovely collection of different GUOs. Wish me luck. :)

Saturday, 14 April 2018

CLXIX. Fae Serpent and a Kobold

Two new minis painted, one for each setting. The Gardens of Hecate Fairies get the Serpent, a Fae noble who likes to take sport hunting trips to the lands of man. The Isles of Brume, my AoS28 setting, get a Kobold warrior of Volmar.

The Serpent


Wanted to add this model to the faction for a while. It's a Rackham metal figure, S'erum. Lovely sculpt, didn't convert it at all. Originally I intended to paint his armour like white ceramics with blue detail. I could not make it look right, so I ended up going another way. His plain sleeves could use some freehand patterns, but that will be added at a later date, when inspiration strikes. For now I call him done.  



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Ogmen, Kobold Warrior of Volmar


I mentioned before that the people of Volmar consist mostly of Duardin and Kobolds. But the latter were not represented in the group of models I made. Now I bought the Doomseeker model from Silver Tower, and demonstrated what a Kobold equivalent of those Duardin would look like.

The easiest way to tell these two kinds apart is by looking at their face. Unlike Duardin, Kobolds have prominent noses and large, pointy ears. This is the reason why their ceremonial helmets must be slightly more open than the dwarven ones. The noses' size makes them rather vulnerable, and it is not unusual for a Kobold warrior to have a scarred snout, or even parts of it missing.


Kobold women can grow beards just like Kobold men, which is not the case with Duardin. This causes interesting shifts in Volmarian fashion, changing like the tide. Depending on the current trend, we either find Kobold women regularly shaving their faces, or Duardin women wearing finely crafted beard wigs. I should totally make some models of those ladies, but I fear this might demand full scratch-builds.

Kobolds lay eggs rather than birth live babies. During the incubation period, the mother will paint the egg shell with apotropaic patterns, colours and symbols, to help ensure that the Koboldling inside is safe and hatches alive and healthy.


I like this faction more and more. All sorts of interesting and messed up scenarios possible in their reclusive kingdom. Considering buying a box of Vulkite Berserkers to make a bunch of regular footsoldiers, half of them Kobolds, and half Duardin. I'm also trying to figure out their religion and social structure. Fun stuff.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

CLXVIII. Gardens of Hecate Deck Released



Those of you who follow me on Facebook may remember that back in February I shared a photo of my first printed deck. The printing was done in collaboration with Jesús, the author of El Soldado Tranquilo. This generated plenty of response, people expressing interest in getting a copy for themselves. Though pretty cool, I felt the deck wasn't good enough to offer it as a product, so I decided to do some editing to bring it up to an acceptable level of quality. 

This deck was first painted back in 2014/15, and its creation is discussed in these two posts: LXVII. and LXXIV. There was another, older version from 2013. This was when I came up with my custom suits, but it did not put any graphics on the cards other than suit symbols and numbers: XLIV.
 
The biggest problem when we got to having this printed was the format. The original cards were completely handmade, with no prior intention to be turned into a printed deck. They did not have rounded corners, so part of the card would get cut off to fit the standard poker card template. In that first print, this was solved by adding a solid colour 'frame' around the scanned card. I wanted to avoid that issue this time around, by constructing the cards digitally, within a poker card template.

Another bit that bothered me was the card numbers. They looked... meh. Their glaring imperfection is passable on the handmade item, but on a printed, neatly cut card it just sticks out. So this got replaced by something more professional-looking. The suit symbols got the same treatment. Basically, the only thing kept from the original deck scans was the artwork from the face cards, but they also got tidied up a bit before scanning. 

The handmade original has minimalistic Jokers: gold foil for Red Joker and a blank card for Black Joker. This was because of the way they function in the rules system I use: the Red Joker is the best card in the deck, and the Black Joker the absolute worst. Gold foil was not an option, so I made some actual Joker artwork for this printed release:


Finally, the design for the backs. The handmade original just has blank backs. I went for a version of the Gardens of Hecate banner for this; seemed the most fitting.


When I finished the editing, I ordered a test copy to see how it comes out. And now I finally have it in my hands. I'm happy to say it looks quite good, and I am perfectly comfortable offering this as a product. Pretty exciting!


This is how it compares to the hand-painted original (left) and the 'Jesús edition' (centre):




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If you like it, you can purchase the deck on MakePlayingCards.com, following this link: MPC

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

CLXVII. Legen: More Willows and Livestock

Efforts to equip the table for my group AoS28 project continue. This week I bring the remaining three willow scenery pieces and a couple farm animals for the village.



I've shown a few WIP photos of the first willow earlier. This time I took more pictures during the process, for those interested.


Started by building up a little hill of polystyrene on top of an MDF base, which I then covered with DAS airdrying clay. For the clay to stick better, I always put some PVA glue on the surface first.


 I build up the tree trunks in layers over toothpicks. Again, PVA helps it all stick together better.


After two layers, they had some bulk. They look like a bunch of knobs, don't they... 


I sculpted the roots with DAS.




The final layer of DAS contains most of the texture. I use my sculpting tools and a large brush with stiff bristles to achieve the textures and details in wet clay.


 When all the sculpting was done and cured, I flocked the bases.


The flock then got a covering of water+plaster+PVA. The flock soaks this in, and when it dries it hardens. This can then be painted normally, and more flock, tufts and other foliage added on top.



The last thing to do was the branches. It's wire, cut to length and bent to look natural. I drilled a bunch of holes in the trunk and glued the branches into the holes. Mixed in a few roots as well.



This concludes the work on the willows and I can cross them off my list. Now I can move on to more interesting scenery, like the peasant houses of Dol, and the windmill.

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To add life and extra flavour to our rural battlefield, I wanted to include some farm animals. Now, there was a bit of a dilemma here. If I make them just mundane cows, pigs and chickens, I can use the same minis for my other setting as well. However, in that case I'm missing a chance to create new fauna unique to the Isles of Brume. The alien critters approach prevailed, and I set to work making up the first couple of minis. I had a toy cow and calf, which served as the base. I don't have a name for the species yet. Any ideas?


I've now run out of plastic farm animals, so I need to go look for cheap ones again in order to make more livestock for Dol. I find that I really enjoy painting animals.

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I'd also like to share some new developments from the others. Rebecca began putting together her warband of centaur-like people. Filip has made a gargant for Nerod's marauding herd and kicked off his warband with this Forest Knight.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

CLXVI. Legen: Sir Pelial and the Tracker of Holt Megla




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Sir Pelial, the Aelf, and the Murdered Knight were lost in a thick fog. They could not find their way out, wandering for days among the trees. They met no living soul, but heard strange whispers from all around. 

The travelers were rescued at last, when a large, friendly, bearded man emerged from the eerie mist. "Lost our way in the fog, have we," said the man in a booming voice. "I am Westcott, a tracker. Come with me, knight. I shall take you to Wose Hall."



Following the man, Sir Pelial arrived to a clearing where a large wooden house stood. There was no fog there, and the house looked safe and inviting, with smoke billowing from the four chimneys above its red shingles. This was Wose Hall, a tavern and inn, shelter for those who travel through these perilous woods. The knight's party sat with Westcott and he told them much about the place they were at.

"Holt Megla is a dangerous forest. Here, the fog never scatters, and it is teeming with shadows and ghosts. Those who venture inside have a hard time finding their way out. The things in the mist trick you, make you walk in circles. Many never come out alive. To get through Holt Megla, you will need a guide."

Sir Pelial could guess what the fellow would propose next. "I will gladly find you a path out of the forest. For a price, of course," Westcott said, with a wink. The knight could not pay the man, nor hire any other guide. His purse was near empty at the time. Not at all defeated, the tracker made a different suggestion, "There is another way, if you have no gold to pay. You can help me with my work as compensation." He further explained, "I find and capture beasts and birds for royal menageries and walls of rich merchants' trophy rooms. I have three contracts to fulfill before I can take you out of the forest. If you help me out, I will consider it payment for my services. You seem like good company." Sir Pelial accepted Westcott's offer. The tracker laughed heartily, and they all kept drinking and telling stories until late in the night.



Next morning, Sir Pelial and Westcott set off to get the first contract done. The beast they were to hunt was a Unicorne, and it was to be captured alive and unharmed. Sir Pelial did not know how that might be achieved, but the tracker already had a plan. They hiked until the sun was high up in the sky (though it was hard to see it through the fog), when they finally spotted the beast trough the trees. Westcott laid out his plan to the knight: Sir Pelial was to approach the Unicorne and challenge it to a jousting match. The proud animal will accept, as they always do. And when it charges at the knight, he is to spur his horse out of the way, so the Unicorne is tricked into lancing a tree instead. Its long horn will be stuck in the trunk, and that way it will be easily captured. And so it all happened, just as Westcott said. They brought the humiliated Unicorne back with them to Wose Hall.



On the next day, Westcott took the Aelf with him to the hunt. They scoured the woods for the Abominable Swallowtail, which highborn ladies like to fly like kites on a clear day. One was spotted in the area, but the two could not find it no matter how hard they looked. It was because Ewert, the tracker's bitter rival, had caught it first. This time, it was the Aelf who had a plan. She took her bow and the captured unicorne, and visited the other tracker's camp. There, she proposed a bet, which Ewert was quick to accept. The pair of them were to have an archery competition. The Aelf would wager the Unicorne, and the tracker the Abominable Swallowtail; the winner takes them both. The Aelf let Ewert fire his arrow first. He hit bull's eye. The tracker was a celebrated marksman. "That is good," the Aelf said coldly. "That good, in fact... I am going to have to cheat." The Aelf let her arrow fly towards a whole different mark. She came back to Wose Hall with the Unicorne and the Abominable Swallowtail in tow, while Ewert's blood watered the dark soil of Holt Megla.




The third and final contract was the hardest of all. To slay a beast called the Tyger, and sell its precious pelt to a queen. Tygers are rare and dangerous wild animals, hard to find and vicious in a fight. Westcott would need Sir Pelial and both his retainers for this quest. With no little effort, the feral Tyger was tracked down and fought: with sword, lance and arrows. The hunters were victorious, and so the third contract was completed.

Done as promised, the tracker led Sir Pelial out of Holt Megla's haunted mist. However, rather than say good-bye and head back, he says to the knight, "I have grown weary of these misty woods, my friend. I wish to travel, and track beasts some place else. You say you are heading North to fight gargants. Might I join your quest for a time? If you accept me into your service, you will never be lost again." And from that day the tracker followed Sir Pelial on his journey.



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Westcott and Ewert, the two trackers, are both converted from the same monopose, plastic, Warhammer High Elf archer. The 'Wose Hall' set is the Chapel of StHubertus; the shot was made next to its side entrance. The Unicorne model is the same I used for Monstrous Births. The target for the archery challenge was knocked together in ten minutes, from rope, card and toothpicks. The 'Abominable Swallowtail' is a real butterfly I found dead in the street last year. The Tyger is a conversion of AoS Gryph Hound. Its head was sculpted from scratch. Made it specifically for this story, but it will be useful for games later. For instance, it can count as a snow leopard in Frostgrave.




Once again, elements of the story were borrowed from different places. Westcott's scheme for catching the Unicorne is from The Brave Little Tailor, a German fairy tale. The Aelf's way of winning the archery competition was lifted from season one finale of Blackadder; more specifically the scene where Three-Fingered Pete is introduced. Abominable Swallowtail... well, if there are giant spiders in fantasy, why not giant butterflies. The Tyger is sort of an homage to William Blake - artist, poet, and a particularly odd individual.

Monday, 19 March 2018

CLXV. Duardin Warriors of Volmar

Here come the rest of the Duardin.



Volmar sits on a mountain on Erebos, and is inhabited mostly by Duardin and Kobolds. People of Volmar are well adapted to their high-altitude life. They manage to grow crops on artificially constructed terraces, and herd goats on their mountain pastures. What their own efforts at agriculture cannot supply, they trade for the riches they discover in their mines. 

Duardin and Kobolds are very similar in height and build. The easiest way to tell them apart is  looking at the nose and ears: they are both elongated in Kobolds. However, the biggest difference is the fact Kobolds do not give birth to living young like Duardin, but lay eggs. This makes them incompatible, so Kobolds and Duardin generally do not intermarry. But they consider themselves to be one people, and most of their culture is shared.  

The kingdom has been on good terms with its neighbours for a very long time; conflicts with other realms are not common and not large in scale. 

Let's take a look at each of the Chosen Axes (and hammers!) of Volmar.

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Fjul.

This was originally the Fjul-Grimnir model, the leader of Chosen Axes. What I liked about the original model is the set of keys, the giant's skull on the base, and the pose. As with the others, the mohawk was cut off to make way for a conical helm with a mask. This not so practical ceremonial helm has a bit of a samurai vibe mixed in... The runes in his skin were sanded away. I admit that weapon is utterly ridiculous, but for some reason I liked it. So I kept it, only removing the dragon head detail from the bottom end (the part I disliked). I had to replace it with something of similar shape and size in order to preserve balance. So I stuck a ring into a clutched hand from my bits box and glued that on.

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Ugal.

This was the first one done, discussed in my last post.

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Maegri.

This was Mad Maegrim, originally wielding a pair of axes. I simply wanted some variety.

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Tefk.


And finally, this was Tefk Flamebearer. He used to have two different axes, but gave him one I removed from Maegrim, so now he has a matching pair.

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A few shots of different stages of sculpting Tefk's helmet. The nose ring was actually added in the middle of painting.


Fjul's armour is the most elaborate one. I'm relatively satisfied with it, but I see I need to work more on my symmetry. Here I went to some other Trudvang dwarf armour designs, by Alvaro Tapia. The 'beard' portion of the mask covers a larger area on the front, basically being a chest plate. It's an interesting solution. 


When I look at my four warriors side by side, I feel the style of the helmets across the warband should have been more consistent. That's something to keep in mind for next time.


The original Chosen Axes are Fyreslayers. Photo taken from games-workshop.com.