Friday, April 30, 2010

Men of Tanith, do you want to live forever?

Let me begin by thanking those who came out to my Pre-Heresy Space Marine clinic at GW White Marsh last night. I was fun to go through the process again and chat to those who were truly interested in learning more and sharing ideas.

I know there are a few of you that do not live close to Baltimore and couldn't attend something like this. While it is true that I could put together a lot of tutorials to cover the basics of Pre-Heresy Space Marine modeling, I would much prefer to point you in the direction of The folks who put this together have done a lot of comprehensive work on PH SM armor styles, something you can check out here. I tip my hat to them, great work guys.

On to the next job!

It has been quite a few years (11 or 12, I think) since I last worked on my Tanith army. That was way back in the day, before the plastic Cadians. I spent a lot of time converting them and painting them to match my idea of the Ghosts at the time.

Now, all those years (and many more books) later, I'm tackling the Tanith again. I have a client who want's an entire army of Tanith infantry, including approximately 20 named characters. Fortunately I've have some time to build and paint them (ie. no deadline...currently).

I am starting with a Scout squad (Veterans with camo cloaks). The client has a list I'm working to, I just need to develop the right style for the Ghosts. These pics are all very WIP, with a lot of work still to be done to give them all cloaks.

Scout Sergeant Mkoll, is first up. A tightly wound, silent man with the best scouting skills in the entire Crusade. He carries a lasgun, because he is always described that way in the novels. Anyone remember the time he killed a rampaging Chaos Dreadnaught with his lasgun?

Meltagun and two scout troopers.

Two snipers and a vox operator.

The final three scout troopers. I was kind of thinking of Wes Maggs as I worked on the guy in the middle.

The army will eventually be a "best of the Ghosts" kind of force, characters from different warzones all appearing in the same list (like Bragg, Cuu, and Maggs). Should be fun and no-one gets left behind. So the men of "Tanith" really will get to live forever.

I hope you like them.


Monday, April 26, 2010

100th post! and Pre-Heresy clinic

Hooray for 100 posts! This means I'll be on track to rack up another 75 post year. Not too shabby, an average of 1.5 posts per week.

Anyway, onto the meat of this one. For tonight's viewing pleasure I present Kor'sarro Khan on Bike. This is another commission, and it really shows the best side of the commissions I get. I've always enjoyed putting together the odd Space Marine in an interesting pose on a bike, but haven't really been interested in building a big bike army, I've always wanted to paint up a few White Scars models, but haven't wanted to paint a whole army. Now I get to do the good bits, without having to worry about the bad ; )

I wanted to keep the bike fairly simple, no long forks or anything like that, but I did add a few saddlebags, boxes and pouches to give it the feel of a "long campaign" bike, something the Khan wouldn't have to leave on his long hunt. I added the winged fairing from the DA bikes, I wanted another place to feature some deep red or gold. These wings will work perfectly. I also added the sensor array from the DA ravenwing sprue to the back of the bike, I'm thinking it's a tracking/comms relay device. Finally I added a couple of trophy heads from the Plague Cart Zombies. Oh, and the White Scars symbol on the front fender.

For the Khan himself I basically kept the pieces I could use and rebuilt the others. His lower legs, shoulder pads, sword, head and backpack are all from the original model, the rest are from plastic Marines or scratch sculpted to match the detailing of the metal model closely. I hope you like him!


That's right! I'm running a Pre-Heresy Space Marine Modeling Clinic at GW White Marsh this Thursday (April 29) from 5pm til about 8pm. Bring your Space Marines (or buy a box at the store) and some greenstuff and a sculpting tool. I'll bring the rest. Get ready to learn the best ways to create Mk IV legs, shrapnel guards, and Mk IV helmets.

Call the store for more details: (410) 933-2008

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thanks & Gribbly Things!

Above: an amazing shot of the Icelandic volcano erupting, while Mother Nature hurls around a few lightning bolts. Photo from the NASA site here.


Let me begin by thanking everyone who sent me some sort of message of support, be it a comment on this blog, an email, a phone call, or even bought me a cup of coffee (or stronger).
I must say I was blown away by the kind words and I might just have to re-evaluate my stance on the general state of the humanity. Thank you for that. It was very refreshing.

Last Friday I got a call from USAA insurance (my insurance) and found out how much I'd be getting back. It was more than the Kelly Blue Book site suggested I would be seeing, but still not enough to cover a completely new, or even almost-new car.

Fortunately, in my countless online searches for new, almost-new, and not-so-new cars, I was able to find the beauty you see above. That's right, I have another PT Cruiser (same year) that is basically identical to my old one. The big positive is that it has travelled 40,000 less miles than my old car, the big negative is that the "shortfall" was the hobby fund I've been building over the last 18 months. That'll mean lots of projects based on toy soldiers I already have (expect to see Imperial Guard and Space Marines).

So, continuing the "Thanks".

Thanks to USAA for their pleasant and helpful staff, and good rates. If you have the opportunity to be insured by them, I highly recommend it.

Thanks to the staff of the Enterprise car rental offices I dealt with, they were pleasant and helped me through the process with little fuss.

Thanks also to Derrick at BMW of Bel Air, who did me a bit of a deal on the "new" car and then drove it back the 25 miles to my place (while I drove the rental). Class act.


This is the Jabberslythe I've been working on, slowly. I posted a teaser pic of it a while back and here are the latest pics. I've only really been working on him on Monday nights at the Glen Burnie Bunker, so progress is a couple of steps at a time.

The basis for the beast is the Tyranid Trygon/Mawlock kit, with the tail cut and twisted around. The wings are from the old plastic dragon (thanks Jake) and the bulk of the body is sculpted from Apoxie Sulpt (from Aves Studios). I think I have a bit more texturing to do on the body, as well as adding tiny, withered legs along the length of the body, and taking the scales up the back of the tail.

The base is simply a Warhammer tree on a chariot base. I'll be removing one of the limbs, replacing it with heavy duty brass rod, then re-sculpting the detail. That's where the Jabberslythe will eventually rest.

And finally the head! Obviously it's the head from the Mawlock, but the addition of the gribbly tongue (from a Chaos Spawn) and building a flesh head (rather than the Mawlock chitin) with far too many eyes. Terrifying indeed!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What a "smashing" week!

So, the reason I didn't post over the weekend, when I typically get a chance to, can be seen in the photo above. While on a work trip to Pittsburgh to photograph a fantastic Battle of Leipzig game I found myself the victim of a pretty crazy car crash. Another driver, entering the highway at speed, spun out on gravel and collided with me, who then proceeded to spin out and connect with the concrete barrier on the shoulder of the road. Fortunately no-one was injured, just a bit shaken up.

Suffice to say I was almost 4 hours late to the photo shoot and had to drive a compact rental back to Baltimore that night.

I wasn't really in the mood to post anything fun : (

But, now that a few days have gone by, I'm still worried about how I'll afford a new car, but I figured I'd show you all the Locust (Chaos vector-fighter) I've been mucking around with for the last little while and finished up for Adepticon.

The first batch of photos are of the Locust at the end of the build (10pm Monday night before Adepticon). It is fairly clear where the drop pod fins are, but some of the detailing of the plasticard is a bit tougher to make out.

One thing that should be clear are the power cables I used to draw power from the jet engine and divert it to the vector thrusters. These cables are available from Jeff at Dragon Forge Design.

One other thing you might notice if you take a close look at the picture above are the small pieces of etched brass. These little vents/grilles are from the Panniers set of brass from Justin at Secret Weapon. I haven't used a lot of etched brass stuff before, but these vents were just right for the job, adding that fine level of detail that would be nigh on impossible with plasticard.

As I mentioned above, I finished the build at 10pm, less than three days before I'd be heading to Chicago. After quickly snapping the photos above, with my old photo set-up as my work gear was already packed on a truck, I primed the sucker and started painting. By 1am Tuesday I had all the metal work done and had just laid down the liquid mask.

Rather than go for my standard dark red vehicle look, I decided on the bone colored flyer with dark red star. I painted the whole thing with a couple of layers of Dheneb Stone, painted Gryphonne Sepia into the shadows, the peeled off the liquid mask. I then had to highlight the edges with Skull White, and wrap up the detailing.

I love this pic above. It shows just how thin the Locust really is. Looks mean.

The base is from Dragon Forge Design, with the addition of the smoking brazier. I added that to represent a warp locator, figuring that the Veterans who descend from the Locust (counts as Vendetta) would actually "warp in" to a location determined by the Locust pilot. I mean, they obviously wouldn't fit in the plane itself ; )

I hope you've enjoyed this close-up look at the Locust fighter. Thomas and I can now go back and build fresh templates for it that might make it up on this blog (like the truck templates). I will say, however, that I think this might be the only one I ever build. Very time consuming.

So, as I contemplate my future financial situation (re: a new car) I'll leave you with two things.

The first is I may have to sell off an army to get a good-sized down payment together, if so, which would you guys like to see go up for auction? Custodes? Mechanicus? Cathay?

The second thing is, occasionally someone offers to by me a cup of coffee (or a beer) as a thank you for some of the advice I've been able to provide. It has been kind of tough to achieve that over teh Interwebs, until NOW! Over in the right hand column you'll find a little paypal button where you can "buy me a coffee", if you should feel so inclined : )

Well, that's it for tonight. Stay safe, look after your loved ones, and enjoy every day as much as you can!


Thursday, April 8, 2010


Well, today was the day. If you've been checking out my blog this year you'll know that I started running a competition in January, once this fair blog had reached 500 followers. By the end of February, all entries were in (almost 40 of them) and it came time for me to announce the winner, in this blog post. The winning entry from Robert is repeated above.

I took the design along to Emily at Flesh Tattoo Company in Fallston, MD, last Saturday and left it in her more than capable hands.

This afternoon I went along for the actual inking. It's been a while since my last tattoo, so I wasn't exactly sure how it would feel until we got started. I mentioned to Emily that it felt just like last time, as if someone was rubbing a very sharp glass shard across my skin... for two hours!

Still, it was completely worth it. Emily did a bit of handprint research, and actually checked out this blog in the process : ) She was also pretty stoked that I'd run a competition like this. Anyway, her research led her to add her own artistic elements/style to the final rendering, which you can now see below!

Just above it is the first tattoo I got 11 years ago. At the moment, with the raised flesh of the healing skin, it feels like a burning, bloody hand has been slapped against my arm. Very Renegade Guard if you ask me ; )

As an aside, Emily's husband Ed owns the great indy store Games & Stuff in Glen Burnie, MD. I heartily endorse both businesses. One thing that made the whole inking experience more fun (and a bit surreal) was being able to chat with Emily about how Malifaux and exIllis were doing, and what they meant to the gaming community. Very cool. Thanks for the great ink!


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Dreadnaught Rylanor of the Emperor's Children Legion

So, things haven't really calmed down since getting back from Adepticon, but's been a lot of fun.

I managed to grab an hour or so to sort out the photos of Rylanor, and finally get them up here on the blog. You've seen the teaser pic before, but not these "completed" pics of the beast before painting. Let me begin by thanking the artists who painted nearly two dozen different Pre-Heresy Dreadnaughts for the Horus Heresy card game that were then featured in the Horus Heresy artbooks from Black Library. Each Dread looks a little different, and there are plenty of great styling cues. My second thanks must go to a modeler that goes by the handle of Insaniak. A while back he built a great Pre-Heresy Dreadnaught that he posted on his site and on his DakkaDakka blog.

And so on to Rylanor. There are a lot of parts to this guy and I'm not really sure where to start, but I'll forge ahead anyway. If you have any questions just drop them in a comment.

As you can see from the pics, there are five materials used in the construction. Obviously GW parts, plasticard, Greenstuff, Brownstuff, and cables from Jeff at Dragon Forge Design.

I built the Dreadnaught in four (well five) sections. First the legs, followed by the torso, then the two power fist arms, followed by the autocannon arm.

As you can see from the picture above, I kept most of the leg and torso assembly from a standard Space Marine Dreadnaught. That's because there are a lot of great parts there that could be replicated, but there's no real need. What I did, however, was cut up most of the leg assemblies so that I could lengthen the legs and poses them in a new stance (a long advancing stride). Plasticard rods and tubing were my friends in this case.

The feet were actually scratchbuilt early in the process. I cut out the basic shape, started building up the Brownstuff and Greenstuff, filed the putty down to the final shape, then added the detailing plasticard strips around the edges. Once I had the feet, I could then finalize the position of the legs and the lengths of the pistons etc. When they were all fixed I added the hoses back in using the DF power cables. The final two stages for the legs were a) the shin pads and b) the "waist".

For the shin pads I cut them from panels of plasticard. Originally I was thinking of angular pads, but as I went along I decided to add a curved front to them, adding more bulk and linking better to the Pre-Heresy aesthetic. To add this curve I pressed a lot of putty onto the flat panels and carefully burnished them to create the smooth surface. Oh, and the cod-piece was done the same way.

The "waist" was really just a matter of throwing down a chunk of Greenstuff onto the standard Dreadnaught waist, smoothing it out into a good sized cylinder, then carefully adding the ridges by running the blade end of my sculpting tool around the cylinder. Took a few tries, but I think it looks good once it's done.

The torso was a lot more trial and error. I built the standard Dread torso, then began hacking away all the front panels. I wanted to remove not only the flat panels of the sarcophagus and the panels on each side, but I also needed to cut enough away so that when I re-puttied everthing, I had enough room to do so. Fortunately for me, right in the middle of working on Rylanor, GW released the Venerable Dreadnaught. I was able to use one of the Ven Dread's curved sarcophagii for my version. Once the head and new sarcophagus were in place I started to build up layers of putty. I used Brownstuff almost exclusively for this stage, as I wanted to be able to file the putty as it dried. Brownstuff sets almost rock hard, so can take some pretty vigorous sanding and filing, and it holds a sharp edge.

Here's a shot of the bottom of the torso. I built a small "gut plate" using plasticard, that would cover the extended waist of the Dread. I then bulked it out and gave it a curved surface with Brownstuff and the burnishing end of my sculpting tool.

Here's a close-up of the rear of the legs, where you can see the extensions, the power cables, and the extended waist.

The arms are all based on plasticard tubing, cut at varying lengths and spliced together. I took a lot of cues here from Insaniak's Dreadnaught project (which I urge you to check out). Lots of plasticard cutting, gluing, and a bit of putty work where appropriate.

Its getting quite late, so I'll leave you with a few painted pictures that John Shaffer snapped for me while we were at Adepticon (I didn't have a chance to get my own shots before the show).

I'm quite happy with how he turned out. I hope you like him too.