|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 baseFollowing 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!
|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|
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