Tuesday 30 June 2020

Varghulf WIP Sculpt

Varghulf WIP

Ever since I first saw the Varghulf which features in the game Total War Warhammer, I wanted to make a miniature of it.  Well, I finally got my butt in gear and started sculpting it in Super Sculpey!

The face of death!
For anyone who hasn't seen how this monstrous creature was re-imagined for the game, here are a couple of stills of the beastly vampire monstrosity:

This thing is an absolutely huge muscular brute!
Although they have vestigial wings, the Varghulfs in Total War Warhammer don't actually fly.  Instead, they bound along at a breakneck pace, crashing into the enemy!
As always, I started my sculpt with a foil and wire armature then started by making the basic shapes for the muscles and other main features.  It's still early on, but would love to know what you think!

Very early musculature
Early facial features which I would later completely reconstruct...
Test fit of the first arm prior
First arm attached and face reworked
Size comparison with the unlucky servitor I had nearby...
I'm really happy with the new face as it looks a lot more bat-like than the MKI
I've been using a lot of vampire bat pictures for reference
I'm just starting to add some fur to key areas.  This will all need to be refined later, but helps me visualise how it's going to look
Teeth, nose and jawline reworked again!
It's getting a lot closer to the version in the game now! 

Sunday 28 June 2020

Into the Depths rejigged

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the 'Into the Depths' campaign event I was working on had to be cancelled.  Rather than consign all of the terrain, converted miniatures and resources to storage, I decided to rework it so that I can play with my son who is just starting to show an interest in Age of Sigmar.

The premise of the event was that a network of caverns had been discovered and each had a different theme, with unique monsters, terrain and items.  Below are some photos from the inhabitants of the first two caverns. Enjoy!

The Cave of Living Stone

At first glance, the Cave of Living Stone might appear to be a cold, grey lifeless cavern, but it's actually inhabited by some creepy, sinister monsters...

The main antagonist of the cave is a large and terrifying Cockatrice.  Turning any who venture into its lair to lifeless stone!  Only frozen statues and vicious stony creatures are tolerated by the Cockatrice, making navigating the cavern even more treacherous!

A foul Cockatrice stalks the darkness...
Towering over a hapless Duardin victim, while slithering around and crushing his warmachine, the Cockatrice lets out an ear-piercing shriek
With a clutch of slimy eggs to protect, the Cockatrice is even more dangerous to would-be explorers!
An ancient cluster of stalagmites form the nest of the beast.
I painted the Cockatrice in the vibrant colours of a modern parrot, albeit a giant warped version!
From above, you can see the cannon which the Cockatrice is maliciously breaking after petrifying its operator!
3 'Boneflayer' nests are ready to drag unwary adventurers into their murky waters while an abandoned Duardin cart shows further of previous unsuccessful attempts to explore the darkness...
A carelessly dropped bag of petrified dust, gathered from the Corridor of Stone Warriors 

The Corridor of Stone Warriors is a terrain piece featuring a number of the Cockatrice's victims turned to stone - some toppled and others broken - all equally silent...

Stalagsquigs infest the Cavern, snapping and tearing at the flesh of anyone unwary enough to stumble upon them
I made most of these stalagsquig clusters from putty, carved them from left over sprues or used spares from the troll kits.  The one with the large tongue in the middle is my favourite!

The Griffon Roost

One path within the network of caves leads back out into a secluded mountainous pass.  Named for the mighty beasts which circle the skies above, the Griffon Roost is as perilous as it is majestic to any who might witness it. 

The grassy peaks of this mountainous pass are home to some of the fiercest beasts in the mortal realms
This family of Griffons nest within the peaks
The peacock covered male constantly on the lookout for prey
The huge brown female Griffon watching over the nest
The trio of Grifflings explore their surroundings but don't stray far from the nest

Friday 26 June 2020

Skorpius Dunerider - Blowfish

The Blowfish

Skimming over the waves, the Blowfish is the perfect transport for Corbenic's Skitarii Aquis troops

The Blowfish is a project which I started a couple of months ago to accompany the small band of Skitarii Aquis PDF troops which will accompany The Court of The Fisher King.

The original idea was to have the miniature hovering in the truest sense using magnets.  This proved difficult to achieve for a number of reasons, the main one being the need for an electromagnet to project an even field which the skimmer would be able to sit on and the additional batteries, wiring etc which would need to be hidden in the base.

In the end I decided that it would compromise the look of the finished piece for the sake of a gimmick that really wasn't worth it.  I've instead achieved the look I wanted by creating a resin cast base with two magnetised rods to support the hovering craft above the waves.

Designing the base

I decided early on that I wanted two things from the base.  Firstly, the craft had to hover over it as if crossing a large body of water.  Secondly, it had to look as though it is interacting with the water in a  realistic way.  That meant water dispersal from the passing of the craft and its large rear mounted fans.

I started as always by looking at the closest approximation in the modern world.  The Skorpius Duneride is actually a hybrid design consisting of:

The look of a traditional landing craft like the American LCM8:

And the functionality of a modern hovercraft like the gigantic Russian Zubr class transport hovercraft:

Although the Dunerider looks like the LCM8 with the fans of the Zubr, the way it would move across a body of water and the way that it would impact the surface would be a lot more like the Zubr than the LCM8 which is more like a traditional boat.

Below is an image of a Zubr hovercraft moving over water.  The most important thing to note is how the water behaves as its fundamentally different to the way in which it behaves around the hull of a ship.  Whereas a ship cuts through water with a pointed hull, displacing it in a triangular pattern right from the front, a hovercraft has a larger, blunt nose which 'hovers' above the water rather than pushing through it.  The water displacement starts much further back, around halfway along the craft, spraying up higher towards the rear.  The airflow of the fans also part the water and leave a shallow double-wake pattern.

This lengthy explanation leads me to the base itself.  I wanted to sculpt the wave patterns so that the Dunerider looked more like a modern hovercraft passing over the water.  Below is a sort of photo diary of the sculpting process.  It's pretty straightforward, but I've detailed it anyway for anyone who wants to try and replicate the process!

Sculpting the base

Following the rather painful process of making Conga Blue's base, I decided to skip the cheap option and restocked all of my supplies now that lockdown has eased a little.  It still took a few weeks to get some of the chemicals and clay I needed, but making the base would be less stressful with the correct materials.
As I'd be sculpting the base from Super Sculpey, I started by coating my potter's wheel with tinfoil. Next I started forming the basic shape of the wake with foil around the rear of the Dunerider
I slowly built up the sculpey to make a thin platform which would go the length of the craft
Here's the rest of the basic shape with its foil core 
I slowly started to build up the wave walls from the mid-point of the model
I kept test fitting the craft to make sure that it fit in between the waves, keeping in mind that it would sit just above them in the final piece 
It looked odd when working on this from above, but it got me really excited to see it from the sides as it all came together!
The finished wave pattern base.  Notice that the waves all point outwards at an angle to represent the water displacement
The wake of the Dunerider is blown into two by the rear facing fans
This is the base after firing.  It's now solid unlike the plastercine I used for Conga Blue, so it won't 'gak up' the mould.  I also sealed it with mod-podge to make sure it was extra strong as Sculpey is a little fragile on its own.

Making the mould

As I'd ordered a whole new batch of silicone, I could make a nice deep mould for the waves so I didn't have to worry about reinforcing it with anything else.  Although this made the process far more expensive, it saved me a lot of niggles, so was ultimately worth it.

I started by drawing round the waves to get the rough size on a piece of 3mm foamex
I used foamex for the base and mould because it's strong enough to hold the silicone but could be snapped off when the mould had cured 
I cut out the base and bevelled the edges to mimic a normal miniature base
I glued the waves to the base, then glued that to another section of the foamex which would form the base of the mould
I then went around the entire wave pattern sealing every gap and hole with putty, tidying it all up so that no silicone could bleed under the base
I tidied up a could of the waves during this process using procreate putty which you can just make out (its also grey)
One final test fitting while the putty cured to make sure that it all still fit together
Next I built the first two mould walls with foamex.  The triangular supports were stuck on in advance to make sure that they were at exactly 90 degrees when I glued them.  Super glue sticks foamex immediately, so I wasn't taking any chances!
Once I was happy with the two end walls, I cut the side walls and made sure that they sat nice and level 
Once I was happy that everything fit, I glued it all together.  No going back now!
I reinforced the corners with more foamex and also sloshed thin superglue around the bottom joints to make sure that they were all waterproof
3 silcone pours later (about 800 grams of it!) and I was done
I kept the plastic mixing pot with the curing mould so that I could tell when it was ready without having to poke at it
Just for good measure, I filled the last 20% of the mould with plaster because I wanted to make sure it sat level for receiving the resin as it's only just slightly more viscous than water and would leave me with a wonky base if it wasn't level 


I didn't bother photographing the resin pour or the de-moulding process as frankly, they were dull and I just wanted to get it done!  The short story is that it all went to plan and the mould worked perfectly!

Test fitting

So, as part of the process of building the Blowfish, I added two flat bar magnets to the underside so that I could attach it to the base for display but still be able to remove it if I wanted to
It really does look like it's skimming the surface!
You can just see one of the two transparent flight stands holding up the craft from this low angle
The wave pattern works brilliantly with the twin turbines when viewed from above!
The crew of the Blowfish are servitors rather than Skitarii - I made these guys to be poking giant harpoon launchers through the stubber ports
I cut channels in the servitor's feet so that I could add small lengths of metal paperclip, meaning that both servitors stick to the magnets cunningly placed under the hull exactly where their feet would be on the deck.  How's that for efficient use of magnets?!
You can see the bar magnets under the Blowfish.  These connect to two transparent posts which I made from acrylic flight stands with square metal nuts glued to the top.  Once I was happy with the positions, I drilled into the resin, planted the posts and used clear UV resin to encase them.  They're effectively part of the base now, with each nut fully encased then sanded for a nice flat surface for the magnets to grip onto
And that's all of my progress with the Blowfish for now.  Once I've painted the bottom of the base with dark blue, I will be adding some frothy white water and slightly exaggerating some of the waves with clear medium.  Then I'll finally be ready to paint the Dunerider and crew!  I can't wait to see this project finished along with my two remaining knights and their Skitarii cohort!

Out for a stroll

In a previous post, I showed you two of my Knight Scion pilots from the Court of The Fisher King.  Now I've finished a few more, meaning I only have five more to paint before every member of the Court is represented in miniature form outside of their knights!

'Mad' Baron Pellionore - Pilot of Questoris Knight Magaera DeepDive
Driven mad by his extended exposure to DeepDive's machine spirit, Baron Pellinore is rarely seen oustide of his knight armour and no living soul can claim to have seen the face which he hides behind his bearded helm

Derrin Pike - Pilot of Armiger Helverin Knight Trench-Runner
Jovial and well liked by the other members of the Court, Derrin Pike prefers the small, nimble Helverin class knight despite having been offered his pick of the King's armoury

Ivraine Hiralden - Pilot of Armiger Warglaive Knight Tidebreaker
Ivraine is the daughter of Count-Octillus and has a fearsome reputation as a close quarters combatant whether inside or out of her Knight armour.  She also has a reputation with Corbenic's chief Sacristan Nautolex for constantly pranking the fusty old Techpriest after he unwisely described her battle tactics as 'reckless' while repairing her damaged Knight