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Tuesday, 28 July 2020

My Silvanian Family

There's no disputing that lockdown 2020 has been the season of the wood elf. I have lost count of how many inspirational and wonderful paint jobs I have seen on Jes Goodwin classics over the past 4 months. The first two were enough to inspire me to do something I generally avoid- stripping painted miniatures!

When I was a foolish 17 or 18 I decided I was done with toy soldiers and gave them all away. Idiot. Well, I say all, but I did keep some and for whatever reason these Jes Goodwin wood elves were among them. Somehow amazingly preserved unpainted I then gave them an awful coat of paint to use them as tribal human allies for my Fimir. Seeing the beautiful work of talented painters in the Oldhammer Facebook groups shamed me into plunging them into Dettol to have another go. I chose to replace their flat Citadel shields with moulded ones from RAFM.

I had also kept some wardancers. Some from the 80s, others from the 90s, including the wonderful Warhammer Quest wardancer. Unfortunately when I was doing my Egyptian-styled high elves I thought it would be a good idea to remove the heads from the 90s wardancers and replace them with Anubis masks a-la Stargate, My sculpting skills were a bit rough back then and the result was not an improvement! I have therefore had to replace the heads with what I had to hand- three dark elf plastic heads and one of my See Thirty Amazon warrior heads. I've also had to replace a couple of weapons that had been replaced with Ankh staffs. Fortunately the Jes elves and the WHQ wardancer remained in tact! 

A couple of these classics are new additions to the ranks, thank you to Jason Lye for providing the reinforcements and swelling the unit!

The Warhammer Quest wardancer is probably one of my favourite miniatures ever and one I wanted to do a really good job on. For the moment this is what I have been able to achieve, but he may be tweaked or even stripped and repainted again if I ever feel I can improve it! I kinda feel he needs more cream... Oh, worth noting that when glazed I intend to give the gemstones a coat of gloss varnish. I just haven't ventured out with the spray cans yet.

Some non-Citadel miniatures in the mix. A Grenadier (now from Forlorn Hope) champion and Celtos Formorian Siren (from Brigade models) seem to fit in just fine. For now the Grenadier mini is leading the army due to his larger size and lordly bearing.

This was also an opportunity to paint a Trish treeman, thanks to Ross Hubbard for that! The first White Dwarf I ever bought featured a battle report with one of these chaps in a wood elf force so I was considering an homage to that one. Unfortunately it was largely brown and much of the bark on this beautiful sculpt is clearly birch so I decided to go with a green/silver scheme. This is such a good model that it just paints itself. A couple of hours with washes and drybrushing is all it takes.

One thing I was lacking was archers. My original wood elf army had the 5th ed plastic archers but I really can't stand them with their bulky cloaks so I wasn't sad that they had long since disappeared. Instead I opted for picking up a unit of the original plastics and padding it out with some silvan elf archers (for which thank you Harry). Apparently archers are a bit of a must in wood elf armies. Looking at these I am reminded that I happened to be listening to the audiobook of Lord of the Rings and whilst painting these the company were at Lorien. A lovely coincidence and I think I shall call their leader Haldir.

So that's wood elves added to my stock of small forces from across the Old World. There's not a lot I'd want to add to them, happy to keep them small. I'm not a fan of wood elf cavalry but maybe a chariot sometime. It'd be great to pick up some classics too like the Scarloc's wardancer and the Warhammer Quest elf, but other than that I think the woods are suitably guarded.

Friday, 24 July 2020

Bucky O Hare issue 10


Saturday, 11 July 2020

The heroic heroquest questy questface.

You may remember that a few years back Boris Woloszyn was sculpting the Heroquest box art as a personal project. A lot of people in the Oldhammer community leaned on him and Diego Serrate stepped in to manage a very, very limited run of casts. Exactly what happened to the project is a matter of speculation and conjecture but it seems to have not been entirely smooth. Nevertheless I forked out the asking price (more than I care to admit!) for a set and duly received these excellent sculpts. What else to do with them but turn them into a diorama recreating the box art?

Boris' greens in front of his own version of the famous dungeon.

To get an idea of where the characters in the art are actually standing in relation to each other I began with a grid drawn onto a white background. I had imagined a fairly narrow (front to back) but wide diorama that could sit on a plinth on one of my shelves. However, placing the figures in the space it became apparent that for the scene to be accurate (elf coming up to the barbarian's elbow etc.) it would actually need to be quite deep. I therefore decided to make it the size of one of the shelves in my glass cabinet.

Stacking up some styrofoam blocks to get relative height of the staircase levels. I used my little Nikon point-and-shoot camera as the big SLR didn't have a lens that would give the right relationship between the figures. The diorama was then constructed around a particular viewpoint of that camera (90mm from the front of the base). To get the paving to replicate the artwork I had to use a forced perspective with a vanishing point in a spot that looks really odd viewed from the top! Now someone has commented that in the original Les Edwards sketches there is actually a gap between two staircases, not one long staircase. That would go some way to explain the weird perspective on the stones between the barbarian's legs. I did have Blood and Iron, the Les Edwards art book which shows this but must confess I forgot. In any case I think I would still have done one continuous staircase as that is what the 8-year-old me saw the image as and that is how the scene has been ingrained in my mind.

The staircase treads are different depths and heights to get the miniatures at the right height in relation to each other. For example in the art you can very clearly see which step the skeleton's feet are on, this had to match up with the figures around it and the sculpted length of the skeleton's own legs. Seen from the front, however, this weirdness also disappears. The base is carved in expanded polystyrene/styrofoam with card arches textured with filler. The rough texture of the stones was achieved by pressing pumice stone onto the foam.

As you can see the figures are actually quite spread out. The base was then painted black and drybrushed with Foundry acrylics to try and capture the colours on the box. The higher resolution/clearer image in Blood and Iron is actually much yellower, but again I went with the box colours as those are the ones that come to mind when I think of this image.

Not shown in this picture is the sconce I sculpted in putty then drybrushed around to give the shine. I imagine there is a second torch on the wall behind the barbarian's 80s hair but as you can't see the flame stretching up to the same level as the visible one I decided not to put one in.

The next step was to paint the figures and I did a little video on this my YouTube channel if you are interested: The Barbarian and the Brawdsword! This was a lot of fun, especially as Boris' sculpts are so accurate to the art.

Due to lockdown I wasn't able to get to the little camera I had used to plan the layout for a couple of months. The other week, however, I managed to go and pick it up so could begin to mount the miniatures in their respective positions. I had my original grid to work from (cut to fit around the stairs) and it was pretty quick assembling it with the camera, a tape measure and image. Placing the figures was a simple matter of cutting a slit with a scalpel and pushing the slotta tab in. The heroes I am not gluing in place as I want to be able to remove them to use in games of Heroquest but the rest I superglued in place once everything looked right. The fiddliest bit was fitting in the bits Boris hadn't sculpted- the two orcs coming out of the left-hand arch and the fimir and orc (?) coming out of the right-hand archway. The three in shadows I sculpted as just heads and tried to pinpoint where they would be seen correctly between in the orc, skeleton and mummy. The leftmost head ended up a bit hidden but I know it's there! The orc emerging behind the chaos sorcerer I reposed from one of the actual Heroquest orcs, I felt it was a fitting tribute to have one of the original game minis in there.

Unfortunately the poin-and-shoot camera being what it is I was unable to get sufficient depth of field for everything to be in focus at once. To be honest I doubt that would be possible even with a choice of lenses given how deep the diorama is. That meant having to shoot each layer of the diorama separately, using a piece of white card slid behind the layer currently being photographed. I then pulled these together in Photoshop. The layers don't match up exactly as I wasn't able to leave the camera completely still and manual focus between layers so the outline of each layer is a bit shinier than I'd like. Eventually I'll find a lens for my SLR that will let me take the shot better! For the moment though here is my Heroquest box art diorama with and without visual effects added. Enjoy!


Friday, 10 July 2020

Bucky O Hare issue 9


Fimm McCool's

Fimm McCool's