Sunday, 27 September 2015

Tutorial : Basing Trees

I decided that it was about time to have some trees in my scenery collection. I was toying with the idea of scratch-building the trees themselves (possibly from twigs), but after some research I felt reluctant that I could actually make them look as good as bought ones, so I went shopping at Antenocitis Workshop, did some experiments with ideas and materials and came up with these:

This blog post will show you how I made them.

I've always found it annoying that for gaming trees are often just plonked onto a small base and then become ripe for getting caught on the sleeves of your clothing or knocked over easily and in fact just end up being a pain in the arse when gaming. So they then just get moved out of the way. So to combat some of these issues I decided that my trees needed to be scenery pieces in themselves and to do this I would need to base them in an interesting way and if the base was large enough I can add some interesting details, experiment with some ideas/materials and also add stability to the tree itself. So I decided that a cd would make an ample sized base.

I was torn between using some of the armatures as old, gnarled and barren trees or maybe combining them with the lush looking ones on the same base. In the end I decided to (for now) make two of each on separate cd bases.

I always like to conduct some image research on Google images before I start and I was keen for my trees to be perched on rocks to give them a bit of extra height and interest and to challenge my modelling skills. These were what inspired me:

So here are the WIP photos:

You can see that I've used old CD's for the base, extruded polystyrene and/or cork tiles to make the rocks (these have then been coated in pva so that they can resist the aerosol from the primer) and different gardening and diy wires which were twisted and then used for the roots. Halfway through the process I found some wire in the garage which is already twisted into strands (I think these are from a picture hanging set) and this was ideal for unwinding from a thicker stem into several smaller roots, as you can see on the left one at the front.

The dull, wrinkly patches on the CD's, which look like pva residue, is actually masking fluid - the idea being that after these are primed and painted, I can peel the masking fluid away to reveal the shine of the cd and have a very quick water feature / reflecting pool! I've also added some stuff from my bitzbox to add a bit of narrative to each scene:

A forest goblin guarding his patch (with the help of a trap)

A goblin stealing a rock, from what appears to be a Dwarven area. Some brass etched leaves have been added here too

Gollum with a fish by the pool. You can see his reflection in there which adds to the narrative. And a broken signpost in the background which will say "Mordor" on it.

This one has a magical tome on the rock, which could be used as an objective for a scenario. I plan to add an elf leaping between rocks, I have a perfect old model from my bitzbox for this.
Once all the wires were superglued into place, some sand was added to pva to create a bit of extra texture to be painted as either smalls rocks on the base, or where I've added it to the rocks themselves, as moss.

The entire thing was then spray undercoated black ready for painting. In fact the painting was the quickest part. All of the bare trees were dry-brushed with two tones of grey and the rocks with highighted/drybrushed with about 4 tones up to a very pale grey. Lots of washes of greens and browns were added, once the rocks were dry, to create a weathered appearance. The bitz/details which I added took the most time to paint and in the end, to be honest, were a bit of a chore to complete. The problem with adding extra detail is of course that they still have to be painted to a decent standard... You may have noticed through my blog posts that I don't like to do things by half...

The final part was the basing of the scenery, which follows this guide, but with the new experimental addition of mixing the pva/water/brown acrylic and some washing up liquid into one of my daughter's used de-tangle spray bottle and then spraying this solution on to each layer (rather than brushing) to quicken the process. It also acts as a nice sealer at the end of the entire process so none of the flock or dried leaves fall of:

And here are the final outcomes, including some close-ups of the detail, enjoy:

Many thanks for looking and please ask if you have any questions (I forgot to take photos at different stages of the process).

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Trolltooth Wars - Blackmane, Mantrapper, Yaztromo, Chervah (and mule)

Another new idea to disrupt the best laid plans for my ongoing, multitude of projects.... Having just finished reading the Trolltooth Wars novel for the first time since I was a young teenager; I've been inspired by the descriptions (and the wonderful illustrations by Russ Nicholson) to recreate the main, and slightly odd-looking adventuring party of the book:

Three of these miniatures are from Otherworld Miniatures, a company upon which I recently discovered, and their figures are absolutely incredible in terms of the detail, crispness of sculpt and character of personality. The mule, wizard and mercenary (he's actually a bard with his lute removed) are from their catalogue and the goblin and central figure from Citadel. Can you tell which represents who from the novel?

 I based these choices of models on the wonderfully evocative descriptions and illustrations from the novel itself. Chadda Darkmane is described as "broad shouldered", "shaggy haired" and "more of a barbarian than a knight". In the novel's illustration he is lavishly dressed and is armed with a sword and often a dagger:

 For me, as I read the novel, I imagined him less well coutured than the image above. After rummaging around my lead pile I rediscovered an older Valten model who would suffice. I've removed his dual hammers and replaced with a sword and dagger. I may well add a cloak as a nod to his status and refined dress sense.

The next adventuring character we meet in the novel, is his manservant the Chervah. Described as "short and slim, with dark skin and a large face' with "wide apart eyes and large pointed ears" my immediate thought for a model would be a gnome of some description. However the pointy ear reference led me more toward a goblinoid.

 Again he is dressed all fancily, so i took this into account with the goblin I chose. I will sculpt some pointy boots on and will probably remove the goblin's teeth. You may ask why I have chosen a model with a bow, well later on in the novel the Chervah tries to slay a skunkbear with a crossbow, but I don't own a crossbow goblin and may well convert him with the addition of a plastic one. Of course being adventurers travelling around Allansia, the manservant will need to have a mule for all his provisions.

Next up is the enigmatic mercenary Jamut Mantrapper who is first encountered in a tavern. He is described as a "well-dressed man... with broad shoulders... owning a sword with an ornate hilt hung by his side". In addition the illustration shows him sporting a tash:

Finally we meet the last adventurer Yaztromo (although he never leaves his tower in the story) but every party needs a magician. When first encountered he is described as an old wizard, "his clothes were well worn, even bordering on the ragged. His red robe had holes in the elbows and faded streaks down the creases" (this excerpt will certainly help the painting stage). He is illustrated here in his tower with all the party together:

He also owns a crow named Vermithrax, which I may well add to the model's staff (I have one from the mounted Nurgle Lord somewhere).

So totally inspired by the novel, I've given myself another project to undertake. It may be on hold for a little while as other projects are more pressing, but I've made a start with collecting the necessary miniatures. These will all be based with flagstones, so as to fit into my dungeon tiles.

ps. an illustration of how addictive I find this hobby. My mind starting wandering to other adventuring parties which I could create, again based on characters from my youth. I ended up researching He-Man and his mates and now have some miniatures earmarked (in fact on a wish list) from Heresy Miniatures and some conversion ideas noted onto my iphone! I've had to have a word with myself and promise that I won't buy them/start them until this adventuring party is complete... Do I have the discipline I ask myself??

Thanks for reading and as usual, watch this space...

Monday, 14 September 2015

Fighting Fantasy : Freeway Fighter (completed)

At last, finally finished is my homage to Fighting Fantasy's Freeway Fighter (or at least the cover illustration by Jim Burns). The conversion of the car from a die cast 1:43 scale toy can be seen here and here.

The painting of the model was a proper pain, after many failed attempts I chose, in the end, to use Tamiya clear red sprayed over a white primer. I polished in between thin coats of spray and then polished again with a chamois leather at the end. A coat of varnish was also added at the end.

The chrome was even more problematic, after experimenting with bare metal foil (which made the car feel less painted and more model making) I then tried some nmm with limited success. I finally reverted back to good old metallic paint, in this case a chrome acrylic paint with some chainmail silver highlights. I'm pretty happy with the overall effect, but it's not perfect and I have a plethora of other projects to attack.

For the extras I've used some Heresy gang models to represent the "new" owners of the Bel Air (I have tried to chose two models that are similar to the ones in the original illustration). These were a joy to paint, lots of character and clean detail and seem to fit the feeling of the scene pretty well with their leathers and guns.. Needless to say I've just ordered some more from them.. The base is just made with ply and cork tile then some crackle paint for the texture of a dried riverbed and sand added to represent, well desert sand and painted with snakebite leather, washed with declining mud and highlighted with snakebite and added sunburst yellow and white.

Here's a few other photos:

Hope you like it! It's fun to work from and recreate illustrations that you love, in particular ones you grew up with. One of my next projects is to make a warband based on the main characters from the Trolltooth Wars, namely Darkmane, Mantrapper, Chervah and Yaztromo; watch this space...

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Retinue table: D8 Bandits (Thugs)

A collection of Oldhammer models make up this entry for my Retinue Table challenge. I was tempted to get hold of some more old Citadel fighters to create a band of 8 bandits, but in the end decided that I had more than enough Chaos Thugs that needed painting and they fit the bill perfectly. I can imagine these motley 8 acting as Bandits in the forests when they are not following their Chaos Champion into battle.

Unfortunately I don't have a good camera at the moment, so I'm using my iPhone to capture my images, not ideal and some of the colours here look pretty faded. In reality there are quite a few skin colours amongst these models, ranging from pale purples through to cold blues which contrast well with the warm rust colours. There's a few conversions amongst this lot too, but the majority are straight from the box as it were. Eventually these will form a unit of 21 when I begin turning these retinue table warbands into a full army...

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Realm of Chaos battle report: Nurgle v Slaanesh

Helga took another deep breath. She had already lost a leg. It had been an excruciatingly delightful pain as promised, but now it just throbbed subtly. She had been amply compensated by her arms that were pleasingly long and powerful! And her tail was slinky and soft, just what she wanted. Perhaps one day she'd be able to control it.

But already the next phase of her transformation was underway.

The Chaos Dwarf Wizard had only just joined her warband. She thought him funny looking with his bull like head, but he just looked on inquisitively as Helga began polymorphing once again. The world seemed to swirl about her, whilst the itching intensified around her chin and nostrils... perhaps she would be transformed into an image of her loyal fighting ratmen!

Lavisicious the dwarf looked on as Helga transformed faster and faster. Huge white ears popped from her head, beady pink eyes glowed as white hair grew unnaturally fast. Whiskers and teeth finished off her transformation. Suddenly Helga the fearsome champion had been transformed into a dull witted, white rabbit! She ambled about eating grass and dandelion leaves. It was time for Lavisicious to take command. 

"Follow me" he growled. The skaven scampered after him. The monstrosity that was Helga half followed, half stumbled after them.

A small party of pathetic humans had joined the warband by the time they spied the forces of Nurgle across the clearing. The humans had all passed the perversion tests easily, but now it was time to test their mettle against the slimey pus covered beastman, that stood between Lavisicious and immortality...

This is Justin's warband (you can see more on his blog): a great selection of Oldhammer miniatures, beautifully painted and with a lovely conversion for the Champion and the Spawn.


Istan Nnarth felt blessed. He felt his belly bulging and writhing beneath his leather jerkin; wiped his finger through the moist wounds oozing the sweet, putrid smelling liquids which dripped into his breeches. But not all was perfect. Istan was on a mission; he was searching for a helmet. This was not an easy task though as Istan had been blessed with a huge head and Istan desperately wanted to protect it from any harm in future battles. So he had decided that it would have to hunt down a helmeted Ogre, if only he could find such a beast to slay in battle.... (these rambling visions were becoming more and more frequent and Istan seemed to lose track of time and would disappear from everything around him - almost as if he was disappearing to another plane).

Following his lead (but not knowing Istan's self-imposed mission) were six beastmen. Driven purely by the excitement of a looming battle and the hope of pleasing their God, these brutes were in awe of Istan and hoped that he could lead them to further glory and damnation. Perhaps they could even be further blessed with more disease and boils to spread amongst their foes. 

Istan's distant thoughts were once again disturbed, this time by the loud chanting and wailing of the two cultists who had followed him after a recent skirmish at a small village; and he groggily returned to reality and his immediate surroundings. If they weren't shouting out all the pleasurable diseases that they knew, then they were grovelling up to Istan, desperate to know what they could do to please him, and in turn their God. Mostly Istan wanted to be left alone, but he knew that he might just need their help if he was to secure his treasured helmet. Besides, he felt the eye of Nurgle upon him and he did not want to displease his God by not showing willing. He embraced his cultists and they licked the goo which he had deposited onto their clothing. 

It was only his friend Caldon the Ruste, that he truly trusted. Although a thug by nature, Caldon was loyal and would always do Istan's bidding, whatever the task. A manic fighter in combat, but strangely scared of the sight of blood, Caldon often believed he was a warrior, not just a lowly thug. Istan also knew that Caldon's armour hid his leprous and decaying skin which also kept his guts
 from falling out all over the place; Istan could smell the familiar putrid scent and felt comfortable and back in the mortal realm again.

Across the field Istan could see the glimmer of steel and some scurrying shapes, it did not look like a friendly greeting would ensue. His warband stopped on his command. From above, a shadow flickered across the landscape and all immediately brandished their weapons, senses alert and coiled, ready for action. A terrible winged creature descended and landed not twenty feet from where they stood, it emited a gurgling squawk and turned to face them, beckoning. The mutated harpy, with the face and body of a beautiful plaguebearer, knelt down in subservience and quietly described how he had sensed a magic item that he knew to be in the vicinity of a building on the horizon. Istan hoped beyond hope that it may just be that helmet he craved... 

Istan has the Mark of Nurgle (+1 T), Huge Head (+1 FP) and I then rolled Involuntary Temporal Instability. For his equipment he has an axe, shield and light armour

Two cultists

These two are led by a Chaos Thug, who has recieved two Chaos Attributes, in this case Manic Fighter and Fear of Blood!

5 Beastmen of Nurgle

The Nurgle warband
The new harpy addition


The battle was a vague and slightly distant memory, Istan Nnarth had surveyed most of the events from his private hazy realm which oversaw the battlefield but only at one point did he feel really involved and hear the clatter of sword on shield or the pained shrieks of the fallen. (My champion suffered from temporal instability for all but one of the turns - for D6 turns on the roll of a 6 he rolled a 6 two of the three times!) He felt blessed by Nurgle that he had been protected from the fray in this way, but also frustrated that he hadn't had the opportunity to wield his axe. But most of his frustration was borne from the disappointment with the magic sword that Caldon the Ruste had discovered in the cottage, it wasn't the helmet which he craved. He had sent Caldon off to look for the promised magic item and as usual Caldon had been successful, returning with the loot at the end of the battle. With the treasure being a sword and not a helmet, Istan had allowed Caldon to keep the sword for himself.

The battle. Istan remembered it from afar. The odd creature menacingly patrolling the back of the battlefield. The bloated Slaaneshi Skaven taking a thundering charge from the bellowing beastmen. The initial melee was quite brief, one beastman fell to his numerous wounds
(I forgot how awesome two wound beastmen are) whilst the Skaven casulaties were enough to make them flee, very slowly, from the rampaging beastmen. (The Skaven's reduced movement, due to them having a fat chaos attribute meant they could not escape from the pursuing beastmen, so there were lots of free hacks). The Nurgle harpy flew unconventionally over the battlefield looking to pick off weak prey and directing the warband to the treasure (the flying rules are impossible to understand - so we completely fudged them and the harpy saw no action!)

Caldon and his Cultists followed the harpy to the abandoned cottage and discovered the magic sword in a locked chest; Caldon smashed his mace against the lock to open it and raised the sword aloft, he could feel the magic pulsing down his sword arm. On leaving the building, Caldon was greeted by the Slaaneshi champion, incanting a spell which made one of the Cultists completely mindless. Caldon led the rest of his followers into a charge against the sorcerer, knocking him down a brief but brutal assault, the words of the spell still echoing in the valley.

At this point Istan returned to the din of the battle and advanced forward, but the Slaaneshi minions had had enough and retreated back into the forest to lick their wounds. Istan's warband converged in the clearing, bragging of their feats and comparing their glorious, oozing wounds. Two new beastmen advanced from the depths of the forest, having watched the battle and deciding to join the Nurgle legions by proffering a new totem made from the infected remains of the slain enemy. Istan himself felt the warm and affectionate attention of Papa Nurgle upon him; his belly wound glistened and excreted a new acidic like substance and the start of a tail protruded through the tattered, rusting chainmail. All was good, but Istan had the distinct impression that he had not seen the last of this Slaaneshi warband. He must find that helmet before another battle ensued...

The crucial turn in the battle, where the beastmen broke the skaven and started free hacking them to bits. You can see the Slaaneshi spawn being stupid against the table edge and on the right the Cultists led by Caldon emerging from the cottage with the magic weapon. About to encounter the Slaaneshi champion. My champion is loitering near to my table edge, having again rolled a 6 for his temporal instability!

Lavisicious ordered his troops forward to the edge of the clearing. He looked back at his Skaven bodyguard. Even since this morning they had grown slovenly and fat. No sign of Nurgles rot yet, but still he wouldn’t be able to use them as scouts today. They struggled to keep up with even his own short dwarven legs. Across the other side of the clearing the disturbing visage of a large unit of corpulent and pustulent beastmen approached. He thought he could smell the whiff of decay about them. Lavisicious mentally flexed the magical energies of his spells in this mind, eager to test his battle magic against his disease ridden enemies.

My Chaos Dwarf Champion was a 5th level wizard. I made a mistake, not realising that I should have taken the Slaanesh spell ‘Acquiescence’. Instead I just rolled 3 times on the Battlemagic list, gaining Lightning Bolt, Steal Mind and Wind Blast. I managed to roll two Dominate Attributes for my skaven unit! Weapon Master (+1 WS) and Enormously Fat (Movement rate halved to just 2 inches!) which severely hampered their ability to charge and gain the vital combat bonus!

Laviscious ordered his battle line forward into the clearing. The Skaven unit hauled themselves forward and the humans seemed to sprint ahead in comparison. The Chaos Spawn that had been munching grass all day seemed to think there were better pickings from whence they had just come! He decided a fire ball would see off the largest and scariest unit on the field… the Beastmen of Nurgle! Summoning most of his energies and Lavisicious unleashed hell. A trickle of fire made its way lazily across the clearing towards the unit of beastmen. It seemed to flare briefly against the first beastman it came to and then it fizzled out. Hmm not what he was expecting!

My Fireball did one wound against a beastmen and Helga the Chaos Spawn failed her stupidity test and moved away from the battlefield. My kind opponent suggested that she just stay at the table edge (perhaps it was just a cunning ploy to kill her properly in battle!!!).

Soon Battle was joined by the charging beastmen. Despite the heroic work of the weapon master skaven, their newly inflated bellies seemed to get in the way. The skaven caused one of the beastmen to fall, before it was time for them leave as fast as their little fat legs could carry them. The Beastmen joyously took advantage and hacked and slashed their way through the retreating skaven.

Lavisiscious turned from the slaughter of his skaven without a care. Instead he saw some Nurgle thugs heading into an abandoned cottage at the edge of the clearing. They were obviously up to something. Checking over his shoulder to see Helga the Spawn still dribbling in the grass, he approached the thugs as they disappeared into the cottage, he quickly fired off a steal mind spell and the last thug in the group fell to his knees gibbering. ‘Ha! - that spell was better!’ he thought, until he realised he had just one spell point left. ‘Nevermind I shall just have to show them who is boss with my steel blade!’. He waited for them to return from the darkness of the cottage.

The humans watched as their skaven allies where slaughtered before them by the beastmen. “This is our chance boys!” roared the leader as he led them in a brave charge against the beastmens rear (oo-er). The beastmen managed to recover themselves and slaughtered the humans in double quick time. The human remnants would have a new battle cry after their first encounter “For the love of dying!”.

As the thugs came out from the cottage, the leader seemed to hold aloft a glowing sword! A mighty prize indeed thought Lavisicious as he imagined himself wielding such a fine weapon of workmanship! He hastily charged against the greedy thugs who merely turned to him and sliced into his gut before he could land a blow. A quizzical expression spread across Lavisicious’s face as he sank into the bloody mud. Why? Why? WHY?!

Finally Helga the fearsome spawn of chaos came to her senses. The cries of dying comrades seemed to remind her why she was here. She headed for the nearest group, however, before she could get far, a flying gargoyle appeared from nowhere and charged her in the rear. The beast never had the chance to even smell one of her precious farts as it pulverised her skull beneath its blows.

It was a fun furious evenings battle! – My troops didn’t even see the opposing Champion of Nurgle (busy as he was; off on a different chaos plane probably!) It felt like the battle was totally one sided. But I still enjoyed it! I think I managed to kill one beastman and steal minded a chaos cultist, but that was it! Most of my figures were taken out. We rolled up for injuries but nothing really came from that and most characters came back ok.

Then we rolled for Rewards from our respective powers. Laviscious got a Spell Familiar (handy as he only had 4 spell points in that battle!), a Small unit of Hunchback Cultists, and the remnants of my Human runaways turned into Merfolk. I now have 2 small units of troops with a Movement of 2! Great! I’ll be relying more on my spells next time I think!!!

I forgot to take many pictures due to the fun we were having and the amount of time we were looking through the rules! It was great fun and Justin a great opponent to play against and a great host. Before the game I had the opportunity to see his lovely glass cabinet full of a glorious 3rd Edition Wood Elf army and the beginnings of an Undead Horde too. Also very jealous of his permanent painting space, mine remains a temporary arrangement which means getting the paints and models out, painting and then putting them all away again at the end of a session; far from ideal. Cheers Justin, looking forward to the next instalment with our new warband members....

Sunday, 6 September 2015

What's coming up (Aka the "bottleneck")

I have too many ideas and too many projects on the go, so sometimes I realise that I've done a whole load of collecting, converting and prepping and neglected to actually paint anything. To be honest, it's the painting which I find to be the most laborious part of the entire process, I find all my creative energies best directed to the prior stages. This often means that I have a load of miniatures that are sitting, literally primed, in my "ready to paint box". (I also have a "wip conversion" box, a "to strip" box as well as an even larger box with miniatures bagged up into units or some other grouping that I will now call, quite simply, "my lead box").

However I do enjoy the sense of satisfaction when I've finished the painting stage (although there is then the chore of basing still to go!), so I'd better get cracking and start making inroads into this bottlenecked part of the queue...:

A nice collection of Oldhammer models, all primed and ready to have some paint applied .
And here's a breakdown of each group in a bit more detail:

As you can see, these thugs are right at the front of the painting queue. Skin tones applied and I've even completed the dreaded and tedious "wood" stage. 
Continuing my retinue table challenge, these represent the option for d4 cultists plus either the chaos sorcerer or warrior addition as a leader. The central models are from the Red Redemption range and the two models flanking are two of my favourite Nurgle champions - I'm actually really looking forward to painting these two! 

Yes, some 40k! These are from Foundry and stand proud alongside the official Oldhammer miniature from this year's event. This is the start of some sort of gang (I'm still reading up on my fluff - any suggestions?)
A winged Minotaur conversion, very much inspired by Dale Hurst's Tzeentch warband from an early White Dwarf. He may well revive the zebra skin pattern effect too..
The completed Nurgle Dragon Ogre conversion.

A converted Beastman standard bearer (the original was damaged, hence the head swap and addition of a standard). The other guy is a converted champion of chaos, the mutations taken directly from a pre-rolled character from the Lost and Damned champion table).
Some more dungeon stuff; barrels and pillars (they're actually cake pillars).

Oh and here are the two miniatures which I'm painting for two of this blog's followers. 

Is there one part of the hobby that you prefer, enjoy less and how do you organise your myriad of projects into an orderly queue?

Saturday, 5 September 2015

My first batch of dungeon tiles

Over the last week or so, I've spent some of my evenings working on my scratchbuilt dungeon tiles, I really enjoy the research and building aspect more than the painting, so I had to spend the last few evenings with a 2" brush and some black, white and grey household paint. And my "basing" bix which contains all the little bits of miss, tufts, grasses and bitz which are suitable for adding to a dungeon scene. My progress has also been hampered a bit by my research as I rediscovered the iPhone Warhammer Quest game on my phone, with all the detailed and evocative dungeons providing me with some additional inspiration:

And here are all the tiles which I've just completed:

And here are my family (as miniatures) exploring the dungeons, as you can see there are no monsters yet..:
The oldest daughter trying some necromantic spells on a couple of old skeletons.

Here you can see the influence of the iPhone version of Warhammer Quest, with the wooden doors  on the floor, smashed off their hinges.

As the parents move on, the eldest decides to try a necromantic spell on a pile of bones and the two youngest squabble at the back, with shouts of "come on you two" from the adults.

I'm back at school now (albeit at a new school) so I've got a lot of work, planning and getting my head around new routines and systems, so I've put my kids to work and make a tike each! (They actually really wanted to make one so I've been taking them through the processes. Here's where they're up to (oh and these are totally their own designs too):

I'll keep you updated as they (and I) progress with these, next up is a throne room with pillars and a an old red carpet..