Sunday, December 2, 2007

(Title's gone fishin')

A lot has happened in the time I was not updating, not in terms of the amount of painted minis, but rather the size of the mini I've been painting. It's a commission piece for my buddy by the alias of Mauler. I was under some pressure whilst painting this piece; it's a commission, it's a centerpiece of the army, it's BIG! Judge for yourselves if I've managed to pull this one off:

As far as my own minis are concerned, all I'm waiting for are the horse skeletons to arrive and I'm all set for starting the Black Coach! It's still about two weeks away, so I think I'll have a well-deserved break from painting. I tried to finish my other zombie regiment before the new year, but I think I can't be assed to sit to them. Anyway, there is stuff to come here - watch this space.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Capo di tutti capi, part two

Hey there. Without going into pointless apologies and whatnot, I give you the finished general. Feast your eyes while awaiting more. And be prepared for a completely new project taking place very, very soon!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Capo di tutti capi, part one

You're right, this week's update marks the beginning of of the VC general project. I'm not sure whether this will be fielded as a Blood Dragon count or lord, but definitely as a Blood Dragon and a Lord level character.

While searching for he most appropriate model, I decided to go through well-trodden tracks and use Archaon as the basis for my conversion. Almost everything spoke in favor of this model, it being very imposing, full of character and easy to convert. In fact the only downside was that it has been done before, lots of times even.

I've bought the Archaon, Lord of the End Times kit (is he a Mormon or something?) long before making this update and played with the parts by dry-fitting and examining them thoroughly ever since it arrived. Therefore, I knew exactly what I will be facing when actually completing the model.

I was very impressed by the quality of the sculpt and it was really a shame I wasn't going to use several bits of it, most notably the shield and the uber cool base bit. Here are the components that made it through the selection:

Now, saying that it's easy to convert does not mean it's dead easy, pun not intended. There are some problem areas that I had to tackle before I could assemble and paint the model. These included the Chaos icons on the sword crossbar, the huge Chaos symbol thing on the horse's hindquarters and the spikes on its shoulder, and the star on Archaon's breastplate.

In the process of preparing this mini for assembly I decided to leave the spikes. They're not that bad-looking on an undead model and definitely add a sinister, evil feel to it. The Chaos star, on the other hand, had to go.

First, I filed it down to the skin level (it sticks out in one or two places). Then, I filled the gouge with Vallejo Plastic Putty, a great material for just that kind of work. It comes in a tube and has a very narrow applicator which makes the work one hell lot easier and cleaner. It is also sandable and can be drilled into, albeit gently. It took three or four application-sand-repeat cycles for me to get rid of the star and still it isn't completely gone, but I will be covering it with a set of severed heads hanging from the chainmail tunic. Here is the horse 'after'.

The sword's crossbar, on the other hand, was really easy. I just filed down the three stars from the blade and that was it.

With these alterations taken care of, I could assemble the horse and begin painting it. As it had some nasty gaps in very prominent places, I decided to use green stuff as an adhesive. By squeezing it out of the joints, I could scrape the excess, leaving a very small amount of the putty showing. When working with green stuff and its quantity on the model, less is definitely more. The less GS you use to fill the gaps, the less you'll have to sculpt it and struggle to make it invisible after painting, which sometimes is a pain to do. I was happy to find out I managed to achieve it somehow. Here is the horse (plus some other parts of the model) after assembly and mounted on handy implements, ready to be undercoated and painted.

When waiting for the GS to cure, I handled the base. I had to mount this model on a standard 25x50 mm cavalry base, since no VC character can be mounted on a 50x50 mm monster one unless it rides the zombie dragon and mine doesn't. Using a two-part epoxy resin glue I stuck two rare earth magnets to the underside of the base. I also cut out the holes for the horse to stand in. By using magnets I was able to stick the model to some kind of mount in order to touch it as rarely as possible when painting. Here, I've used a tall, sand-filled jar.

After that, the painting was, citing the Marovingean, like wiping my ass with silk. It's really a pleasure to work on a model that you genuinely enjoy and it is my advice to all the people who try to improve their painting skill - if you can afford it, buy models that you really, really like and turn a blind eye to whether or not you can use them in game. Having fondness of your 'patient' can really give you an incentive to work harder than usual and try something new.

The painting of this piece was no different. I tried to keep it muted and not very outstanding, as it already is a focal point due to its size and pose. For that reason I've also made the base as modest as I could. I won't go into the detail of brands and colors used, but if you'd like to know more, feel free to ask. I will be talking more about paints and painting next week, when I hope to show you the upper partof this mini.

Here is my general's steed finished.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Yes, you guessed it, the zombies are making an appearance in today's update.

The idea for the unit came to me after very much pondering, discarding what was considered unfit and generally brain masturbation. I had a major nut to crack when trying to make the zombies both in a winter theme and that bit unorthodox. The frozen river motif sprung up out of the blue really, but was in a way inspired by the zombies from one of my favourite music videos (sincerely recommend the band as a whole too, they rock). The idea of having sombies emerge from the down under was just too cool not to try.

Having said that, I'm not at all happy with how the models turned out, nor had I actually expect to be. Confused? Let me explain.

I've treated this project as a test drive for both my idea for the aquatic zombies and my skills in actually making that idea come to fruition, plus the aptitude of my workshop too. I tried two major things here, the overall unit theme and the magnetized bases, pictured left. To make the magnets (3x3 mm, 1mm thick, rare earth) work, I had to place them directly in contact with the movement tray. The underside of a standard GW base has 2mm of space left. Faced with the choice between using thicker magnets and making my own bases, I went with the latter.

You see, when dealing with plastic minis, too much magnet force could easily mean ruining the mini - they have to be lifted from the tray, right? Now, using a magnet twice the thickness would mean absolute impracticality when it came to gaming. Left with no other option, I set about to making custom bases for the zombies.

I used two thicknesses of polystyrene, 1 mm and 0,5 mm. The former is used to host the magnet in a drillout, the latter covers both the hole and the magnet and forms the surface to which the mini itself is glued.

The unit consists of twenty four models, complete with a musician and a standard bearer. To get across that water emergence thing, I modeled the ranks as literally emerging, starting from the rearmost. To the right, you can see what I mean.

The zombie skintone is not what I aimed at by a longshot, but this is entirely my fault. When I finally substitute my worn GW paints for P3 Formula or Vallejo, I think I'll be able to pull out the color I wanted for these.

The water is made out of Vallejo Still Water polyurethane disperse. I'm not at all happy with this product though; while having the shine and full transparency, it does not look like water at all. Or maybe I can't use it properly.

The movement tray is made out of a 130 mm by 80 mm steel sheet, 1mm in thickness, with balsa sides glued on and textured.

As I already mentioned, this unit is not to be considered a showcase quality in any way - it was a test drive. I have the other 24-strong unit of zombies awaiting its turn, and with the lessons learned on this project, it is my hope that I will be able to make that other one much better.

One of the valuable bits of knowledge I got from making these is the increased familiarity with the P3 Formula metallics. I realize that I scoffed at them some weeks ago, but when putting them to a diligent test, they turned out maybe not awesome, but decent, and much better than the GW ones. In my upcoming project I will put them to much more use and i think I'll be able to say decisively where do I stand on them. For now, look at the musician's bell and decide for yourselves.

This, however, does not apply to ordinary P3 paints, which are just plain great. I used 'Jack Bone and Ryn Flesh on these zombies extensively and have nothing but praise to utter about their performance. Let me just say this - I was able to achieve complete coverage of beige over black with one layer. Really.

As for the next project, I won't spill any beans today, mainly because I have to decide between the general and the Black Coach. Both, however, are going to be very involving projects and it is my intent to make each update a 'step' in finishing these.

Out of the less in-topic announcements, I have added a modest logo to all pictures posted here, mainly due to another case of theft of my work. I've rehosted all images, but haven't really got the time to resize them properly. My bad, you'll have to cope with this until I sit to them.

Righto, off to the next project. And the realization of being that one step closer to digging my teeth into the Cryx Battlegroup makes me work all the more diligently. I hope.

See you next Friday!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Adding some character

Hello and welcome to Drazhar's Miniworks on this wonderful day. Wonderful, because I've just recovered my hardware from a major virus infection and I'm in the process of bringing it back to shape, which also explains the late update.

Today I want to show you the characters for the Vampire Counts army project, at least these I've made so far. They're still one character short - the general.

I might have told you that I didn't want any vampire models for this army. Of course I will use the rules for vampires, Blood Dragons at that, whenever I actually play a game, but as far as the models themselves go, no vampires.

I've started the character part of this project with the necromancers, partly because of the nice models, partly the ease of their execution. Pictured left is the first of two corpse entertainers I got. Nothing much to comment upon here, the model is quite old and therefore not THAT good, but still quite a decent piece.

I restricted my color palette on these to a very limited set of colors, in fact there are only two major tones - black and dark green, with some neutral colors to break the dark feel. I thought of the necromancers not as some really powerful sorcerers, but rather practitioners still on their way to damnation. This also affected the choice of the models, obviously.

The second wizard is a bit more 'cluttered', but still, to my mind, possessing only a few accessories, which is exactly what I was after here. The model is very characterful, second only, I think, to Heinrich Kemmler in dark and brooding appearance, drooping mustache and all. The only things I don't quite like on it is the staff headpiece and the weird Phrygian cap he wears. Other than that I find the model very much to my liking.

The third, last character, and at the same time the penultimate in the army, is the foot battle standard bearer. Here, there were no choices, I immediately knew what model I was going to use. The older fans surely have guessed by now; presenting - the IVth edition skeleton banner bearer, AKA the bellman, model extraordinaire:

Definitely one of my favorites when it comes to undead minis, with the addition of the oversized, IVth edition style banner pole. Younger gamers might not know that, but in the times of the IVth edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battle there was this weird trend of making the banners and banner poles bigger than their bearers; sometimes this was very characterful, sometimes very awkward. This model falls into the former.

Also, veterans might recognize the banner as being none other than that of Arkhan the Black. Here is its uncolored version, painting is, of course, mine. I have reinforced the paper photocopy with a 0,20 mm polystyrene (yes, apparently they make is that thin) and I sincerely recommend it for any paper banners. They don't rip, but can still be twisted and cut with ease.

These are the characters I have made so far. The general is still not even started, so I won't go into any massive detail about him. All the beans I can spill here is: expect some conversion work and a truly imposing, mounted model.

Now, I'd very much like to show you the zombies come Friday, but that requires some discipline on my side and I don't know if I'll be able to conjure it in equal amounts. Still, keep your fingers crossed. Oh, and GW Space Wolves Grey is possibly the worst paint ever made. Honestly.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Airborne horror

Today I'm making the update early in the day, lest I be late again... as said last Friday, here are the fell bats.

My bats are, as you see, pretty unorthodox. I told you last time about my thinking phase when working on a mini, well, these are the result. I'm kinda proud of these bats, them being one of my most ambitious projects to date and I'm at least partially happy on how they turned out.

Even before thinking about what exactly did I want for my fell bats I'd known the standard GW bats are out of the question. These minis are not very high-standard, with very oversized heads and generally a poor design. Second of all, I definitely didn't want a 'flying' model - I had the experience of 'flying' bases before, broken lugs and all... besides flying models look terribly cheesy to my mind.

After much pondering, I decided to go with something akin to gargoyles. Having no gargoyle models handy (in fact the only gargoylesque-looking mini I could find distributed in my country was the Reaper Crypt Bat, pictured left)... not at all what I was after. It seems to me that mini designers always tend to forget about proportion when it comes to wings. The pinions always seem to be undersized, looking more of a decoration than capable body part.

I wanted something different. The wings on my gargoyles aren't the right size as well (to be honest, the should be at least twice the size), but I think they at least look right, they convey the feel of being capable of flight. At some point I thought about using the ghoul bodies instead of strigoi vampire ones, but I simply like the strigoi much too much to leave them out of this project. I knew I just had to include these models somewhere in the army and I think I've found a perfect spot.

These models are also curious to me in one more way. On these was the first time I've used the Vallejo Game Inks and the new GW Foundation paints and both turned out to be working very well. The inks - Vallejo ones, forget the GW - are a great way if you want a quick shade, without being too accurate and caring. The Vallejo inks give a matte finish, without that ugly GW sheen, therefore are very well suited to painting masses of rank-and-file models; in fact I'm using them on the zombies I am currently working on.

Now, the pictures above show the bats-gargoyles as they were originally based. Barring the snow (which was the reason for rebasing), I've used ruined columns on the bases to get a feel of the creatures dwelling in some sort of crypt or ruins. The column bits are manufactured by a local hobbyist from dental plaster and are a very decent product. I definitely will be using them in my upcoming Warmachine Cryx project.

I'm not exactly happy with the wings' look. If only I have waited another fortnight or so, I'd know about the upcoming Chaos space Marine Possessed frame, which contains a splendid set of wings. These are a tad smaller than the fell bat wings I've used here, but look much more gruesome and menacing.

Oh, and you can see the redone bases here:

See you next Friday!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Ghost riders in the sky

Yeeees, I am making an update on Friday as is due, hooray for me.

I decided that today I will show you the black knights. I am proud of how these turned out, if not as happy as I might have been if I had sat to working on them properly and devoted as much time as they deserve. Well, too late to shed useless tears now, let's see the models, shall we?

I don't know about the rest of you, but I like to think my projects thoroughly before I start them. I like to think on how I want the models to look like (or more accurately, what 'feel' I want to achieve on them), then what models exactly I need to buy to achieve that feel. Then, I'm thinking how much conversion work is involved in making my idea come to life and lastly how exactly am I to be original and differentiate my works from what is fashionable/customary/often seen. Only when I have finished this planning stage do I sit to work on the minis themselves.

These black knights were no different. From the start I knew I didn't want to convert them from the imperial Knightly Orders or Bretonnian knights - let's face it, very good as they might look in some people's versions, the idea is so worn-out I definitely wanted to do something else. Secondly, I DID want my rotten cavalry to wear barding (I've even thought of giving them caparisons, but I simply couldn't find a way to make these look good, tried as I have. Besides, I didn't want my knights to look too goth). All in all, I accepted the fact I was left with no models but the GW Black Knights.

However, that didn't mean I wasn't going to pimp them up a notch, even if was only adding the croupieres and peytrals (pieces of barding covering the horses' chest and hindquarters, respectively). You can see on the pics how exactly did they turn out.

I also wanted to model my bases with some sort of a twist. I have never been very good in the base department and one of the things I'd like to achieve on the Vampire Counts project is the improvement of my bases. You have seen the wolves and their bases; on the knights I've had the idea of them riding through a cemetery. In the end it didn't work out as well as I predicted, but I think I'm making progress.

Also, the VC army is going to be fully magnetized. For those of you unfamiliar with the idea, it's essentially adding magnets to the underneath of the models' bases and making the movement trays out of metal sheets. You can see the unfinished tray on the photos.

I've used round, 3mm by 2mm rare earth magnets for the knights, two per model. The force that through the magnet sticks the mini (kudos to Dylan Thomas for inventing possibly the weirdest title for a poem ever) is astounding; I'm even thinking it is too strong... but I'd rather have it a bit too strong than a bit too weak. I could easily have gone with a single magnet if the minis were all plastic, but given the metal rider, a single magnet wasn't strong enough (tested'em).

Some eagle-eyed cherries... readers might notice the unit champion is just a tad different from what GW serves us. It's a 4th edition Skeleton Horseman with Axe model, which I am very fond of. It simply oozes character with its torn chainmail, cut breastplate and all other other nicknacks it possesses. Very creepy. The photo shows him in his pre-rebased state.

Plooschack was worried about me losing my motivation being the reason behind the update-less Friday. Rest assured Plooschack, the motivation is there, waxing and waning, but present.

A lot of people asked me about the comments publication on this site. I'll restate - all the comments you submit have to go through my approval before they are actually posted. The reason is simple - I don't want every other comment to be concerned with penis enlargement or centerfold pictures. No thanks. If the comment is written in proper English and is relevant to the matter, it will be posted, even if you write death threats or compare my work to solid body waste. Opinions are what make us human and don't let any angst deter you from posting them here.

I'm reviewing the incoming comments usually before making an update, so don't be alarmed if yours isn't handled immediately.

Also, I have another announcement to make. At least one person has posted my works on a site without my knowledge, let alone consent. He didn't plagiarize them claiming they were his own, he just posted them. While this is really fine with me, it would be nice to know about such stuff. Therefore, I've come to the realization that I need a logo to stamp my pictures with. Being a complete retard in Photoshop and even MS Paint (yes!!) it is my plea to people out there who aren't so graphics-editor-challenged: if you can come up with a nice logo for my minis, I'll love you long time. Nothing too fancy or time-consuming, if you have five minutes to spare and can be assed to create something just for the hell of it, please send your brainchildren to me and you'll have my everlasting gratitude and a honorable mention here.

Right, I hope I didn't sound too cheeky. Next week, watch your skies and your hair, the bats are swooping in. See you next Friday!

Monday, August 20, 2007

King of the Hill

This update is full three days overdue, I know, and I'm terribly sorry. Blame good beer, good computer games and my overwhelming fondness of both. Guilty as charged.

Regardless of the delay, here to present itself before you today is the Dread King, more affectionately known as The Man. It is a very, very old mini, apparently from the Warhammer Quest line. I am not sure of its origins in the least bit and having no time or patience at the moment to browse through the Stuff of Legends, I'd be grateful for any information about this mini's provenience.

The model consists of two elements, the mini itself and the hillock I've carved for it. The former is sadly incomplete, it is missing a pedestal with a grimoire on it. Everything else is there, and it is in my opinion the most characterful undead model GW has ever produced.

Getting the throne to stick together was a pain, as the model I was supplied with (second-hand, bought it online for an amount proportional to my love for it, and that's a lot) had some ridiculous amounts of glue - the nature of which I was unable to ascertain by any means I had handy, it wasn't epoxy, it wasn't cyanoacrylate, it was sticking as the ninth hell - in some strategic spots. The glue blobs were so hard and so resistant to every kind of debonder I possess that I was left with no choice but to actually sand and sometimes even carve them out. Luckily, I managed not to ruin this piece of heavenly cream and got it stuck together.

In the meantime, I was busy ruining the vacuuming I had done in my room earlier by carving the rock out of extruded styrofoam (commonly known by the brand name Styrodur - yes boys and girls, capital letters here, it's a trade mark of BASF). I don't have a hot wire cutter, therefore I had to use one of my favorite tools - my jewellers' saw. My fondness for it comes from the miraculous resilience of its blades; they can be strung with the force that is comparable to this with which piano strings are, yet they still maintain their power when cutting.

After I got it cut, the rest was very easy - glue on the stairs, texture the rock a bit and paint. Lastly, I stuck the finished throne on it and added the snow.

That said, I'm not happy about the way the rock turned out. Looking at it right now, I think I'd be far better off having textured it more.

On the gaming side of things it is a filler. Yes, I can hear you moaning and groaning, and I can relate. I'm not that keen on unit fillers myself. On this baby however, I decided otherwise. Firstly, I love this model so much I just had to include it in the army, period. Secondly, I do also have a unit of grave guard made from the old Armoured Skeleton models, and having no money to order a full twenty-five strong batch of these, I had to have a filler.

Next week - or rather next update, I do hope not to be late again - I'll be showing you either the black knights or the fell bats.

See you next Friday!

Friday, August 10, 2007

In the society of sheep we want to be the wolves

Today we start with my other project - the Blood Dragon Vampire Counts army. This project is still very much underway, in fact so much I'm unable to give any approximate time of finishing. I think, however, that I'm beginning to finish this and hope to make it really soon.

The army is somewhat themed in a way that it contains no vampire models whatsoever. I do like the GW vampires very much, but I decided to make this force unique and interesting. The inspiration behind the army comes from two main sources, the old Warhammer Armies-The Undead book and Warcraft.

The former was very influential throughout my entire career as a wargamer. Back in the days of the fourth edition of the Warhammer game system things were much different, much more fandom and climate was present in the game (and much fewer children were playing too...). The old army book, published before the undead were divided into Vampire Counts and Khemri, contained so many evocative graphics and so much quality background material it would be really shameful not to use this plethora of inspiration.

If the old Undead book provided the spirit of the army, Warcraft on the other hand provided me with its body - you see, the ultimate nemesis for Azeroth (the world of Warcraft) comes in the form of The Scourge - a massive undead force amassing in the northern, polar regions of the world, but quickly spreading southwards to engulf the whole domain of Azeroth. But this is not what we should be looking at here.

The Warcraft undead were designed in a very generic way, the classic skeletons, zombies and ghouls all present there without any unifying or classifying factor - no colors, no banners, no uniformity to speak of. This was exactly what I wanted. Of course, an unifying factor is needed for an army. For mine, I decided to use a single color - dark green. Otherwise the colors used are neutral and not in any way striking.

Anyway, I know some minis are due, so here they are:
These dire wolves were made form the warhounds of Chaos models. Some heavy conversion work went into the making of these, cutting, sanding and sculpting all in contribution to the effect that is other than uniform, plastic dire wolves GW is forcing upon us.

Here, I cut out the tail and the spike on the wolf's sole (that's right kids, the sole; all canines, felines and similar walk on their fingers only) and glued on the bone parts from the plastic undead horse model - here thanks are due to Robbie B. for supplying the horses. The ribcage in the abdomen area was gouged out with a rotary carbide cutter. i was unable to find a picture of this extension anywhere; it looks like a spherical razor. It is generally used in engraving and is wonderful for cutting out pieces of a mini too.

This one has had its tail, right leg and the top of the head removed and replaced, again, with the horse parts. I don't like the way in which the head turned out, on second thoughts I'm positive I'd be better off with gouging out pieces of the head area and gluing the bones in instead of shaving off the whole head top. Overall, my least favorite of the five.

This, on the other hand, is my beloved. Almost no conversion here, save for adding the bony tail, filing down he spines and sculpting the fur. The model is undead enough as is, with a ruptured stomach and skin peeling off the skull. Lovely!

The warhound used above comes with a second, optional head, which is also splendid in terms of being undead-looking. It would be a terrible waste not to use it, so I did - on the fourth model. This one has a very menacing baying pose and this was fine, but its original head was a pain for me. It sports two sets of horns, which is very nice for a Chaos warhound, but not so much for an undead wolf. Having a spare hornless head, I cut out the horned one and swapped it. The amount of green stuff used here is copious, as was the gap between the head and the body, but overall I'm very pleased with it.

The fourth wolf also didn't have any major conversion work put into it, again cutting down the spines and resculpting the fur did the job.

The last one I don't have the photos of, but it's very similar to the first one, same model, minor differences in conversion.

The bases are made of cork and the well-known baking soda snow mixture, but I will be covering it with the GW Snow Scatter, as it has proved to be a very decent product, which I will show you next time we see. All bases fit to each other:
Some final words... the flesh of the wolves was made using the formula found on the Brushthralls website, under 'Painting Dead Flesh' article. The Thralls are a lovely, very professional bunch of hobbyists and their articles solved many of the problems I've had on various occasions during the pursuit of my hobby.

That's a wrap, if you have any questions in regard to any of my projects please feel free to ask and leave some comments.

See you next Friday!