Sunday, February 26, 2012

Boatman "Counts As" Black Coach WIP & February's Featured Hobbyist

I've been hard at work getting miniatures modeled and assembled for my Warhammer vampire counts army.  Five years ago I fell in love with the VC fiction and decided to combine it with my fascination for ancient Greek mythology.  The product was an undead legion  hailing from the coastal lands of Tilea and led by the lord of the Underworld and the god of the dead, Hades.  The army as a whole centers around a host of skeletal soldiers, which are supported by fast moving elite units and Hades himself.

This week, I started work on my latest modeling project, The Boatman of River Styx, which will count as a Black Coach.  The Boatman is a very exciting prospect for me as the model will be one-hundred percent original fabrication.  Although I've done original sculpts before, this one will be on a truly massive scale.  I'm creating a boat from plasticard and the "driver" Charon, a dead passenger, and the spirit host beneath will be modeled from green stuff.

Let's take a look at what I've gotten done so far.

Hull aft-view

To get the base shape for the boat, I cut three pieces of plasticard into "U" shapes of three different sizes.  These structures are the determining factor for the bend of the boat's flanks and its water sitting girth.  The largest (we'll call them ribs) rib sits off center and closer towards the rear.  It's shape is badge-like, which will give the boat flat sides and a rounded hull.

Hull front-view

After I had the top-most planks in place, I began adding planks evenly from side to side towards the bottom of the boat's hull.

Hull aft-view

Hull front-view

Deck front-view

Starboard side
Many of the planks were roughly cut so that gaps appear between boards.  Though some gaps will be filled with green stuff later, I will leave a great many to further the boat's ancient look. (It's magical, mind, and doesn't need to be water-tight to float!)

Starboard deck-view

Deck front-view
Still to be added to the boat itself are the rear rudder, bow latern fixture, and a bit of decking.


Next week I'll complete the boat and get started on Charon and his undead passenger, stay tuned!

This week I'm also pleased to announce February's featured "Mad Hobbyist."  This prize started out as a random giveaway, but since then I've had a change of heart and decided to give it to a deserving member of the hobby community, online or off.  The Monster Lab is committed to the hobby community and hobby excellence and as such I'd like to use its monthly prize to recognize those who are upholding standards to both.

Therefore, I'm pleased to announce this month's featured hobbyist, LuckyNo.5!  Lucky runs an outstanding blog called the Eye of Error where he features his jaw dropping work.

His projects have included some incredible Dark Eldar Razorwing jet fighters (complete with a detailed full-length airbrush tutorial) and a host of Dark Eldar Scourges.  In fact, his Scourges even landed him a coveted place on Games Workshop's daily blog.  

A lot of praise has been going around for LuckyNo.5, as he's been featured on both the Santa Cruz Honor Roll and the Tales from the Network.  All of these honors are truly deserved for Lucky is a hobbyist that is not only extremely gifted, but also puts a huge amount of time and effort into his projects.

I'd like to congratulate LuckyNo.5 for all the great work he's done and welcome him into the Lab's roll of honor, which already includes last month's featured hobbyist, Mordian7th.  In addition, Lucky received a special limited edition Lab t-shirt!  Thanks for all the great work you're doing, and keep up the good hobby.

Here's the man himself sporting his new tee.

If you would like to be featured as one of the Midwest Monster Lab's "Mad Hobbyists," keep up the quality hobby work and be sure to post pictures to your blog.  Remember, the easiest way to be noticed is to join the Lab's membership as I regularly check on the blogs and sites of those who follow.  Also, if you are in or near Olathe, Kansas, stop by 31st Century Games & Hobbies and I'd love to look at your work in person!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Hades Vampire Lord WIP and Green Stuff Tutorial Part 2

This week we're continuing where we left off last week with my vampire lord, Hades.

There's still quite a bit of work to do, so let's get started.

A major feature of the conversion is the hellsteed's wings.  Last week I created wire frame skeletons for the structure of the wings out of paper clips, now we need to add the actual wing surface.  To do this we'll start by wetting our green stuff working surface to avoid excess sticking.  You might remember this as being the same step as when we rolled out the gorgon's hair.

We'll start with the hellsteed's left wing by applying a generous portion of green stuff to the wetted board.  I've already smashed the green stuff between my fingers to give it its initial shape - roughly triangular.  

Next, we need to flatten the green stuff even more.  I like to use the cylinders that my green stuff comes in, in truth, you can use a rolling pin or anything else that is suitably cylindrical.  Be sure to wet the rolling tool liberally, some stickage may still occur, so be careful as you proceed and delicately pull the green stuff away from the tool, careful not to leave prints.

The green stuff will need a little time to dry (~20 mins) before being applied to the wings' skeletal structure.  In the same way as waiting with the gorgon's hair, this will allow the green stuff to hold much of its shape, and not fall apart while we're working with it on the frame.  In case the 'stuff it sticks to the board use a flat edged xacto blade to remove it.  To avoid this it helps to loosen the 'stuff after it's been rolled and prior to drying.

Press the edges of the wing surface onto the outer edges of the frame and make sure there is a strong bond. This is important because the wing surface will need to hold while we press and shape it between skeleton pieces.  A large convex sculpting tool is best for pressing the wing surface between the wire structure pieces.  Rub the tool in the spaces between the wires to fold the wing surface between them.  It will look something like this when done..

The shape for the initial wing surface is done, but still a little rough.  While its drying let's work on the other wing.

Once again the rough wing surface is applied to the skeletal structure.

And folded between the the supports to create a natural look.

After a period of drying (at least an hour) has passed, cut away the excess wing surface to build the final shape of each wing.

With all the wings trimmed up, we'll apply a layer of green stuff to each wing arm, and a "membrane" aka wing surface to bridge the gap between each arm and its corresponding wing surface.

On the hellsteed's left wing I went back and added another flap of folded wing membrane to give it the look that it is folded up upon itself.

As you can see, the paper clips are still visible on one side of each wing.  To cover these, roll a segment of green stuff (like we did with the gorgon's hair) to the length of the exposed clip.  Press the roll directly on top of the clip and smooth into the crack on either side.  This will give the wing a fluid membrane around the paper clip structure which has form the "fingers" within each wing.

To pronounce the fingers of each wing we'll once again roll out sections of green stuff.

Apply each segment over the clip structure on the outside of the wing membrane.

Use a tool with a fine edge to push the roll into the membrane on each side.  What we want to do here is maintain the cylindrical shape of the roll while blending it into the membrane on either side for a smooth transition.

On the lower edge of each wing, roll a piece that has a thicker segment towards the top and bottom.  This will build the appearance of increased musculature on the largest of the wing fingers.

One of the last steps to completing the wings is to give their fingers "knuckles."  To do this roll out a ball of green stuff, each ball will be a knuckle.  Blend the sides and two ends into the finger it rests on.  With a tool, press indentions into the knuckle.

With all our knuckles in place we can finish the wing by adding talons.  I have found a favorite in excess Finecast resin sprue for creating teeth/talons.  With an xacto, file, and sand paper I made four talons for each wing, three for each fingers and one for the thumb on top.

Here is the right wing, finally complete!

The addition of a few flying specters from the Coven Throne plastic kit add another undead embellishment.

Hades and his hellsteed are about 85% done, we still need to flesh out the wing arms a bit more and add a few more green stuff embellishments to his person and gap fill.  Stay tuned next week for the finished model!

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