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.