Monday, March 30, 2009

40K: DE Haemonculi on Skyboards Tutorial

In an under rated army, Haemonculi are one of the most under rated choices a player can take. With their Destructors, Haemonculi can wreak havoc on any race in the 40K universe. The main drawback to this weapon, however, is its short range. What the Haemonculi needed most was mobility. Enter the skyboard.

Why use a skyboard instead of a jetbike? Personal taste, mainly. I'd already converted an Archon on a jetbike and wanted to do something different. Plus, it simply would not do for the subservient Haemonculi to be riding around on something as nice as the Archon's chosen mode of transporation.

With the exception of some moderately difficult sculpting, this conversion was somewhat easier, but much more tedious and (to my dismay) hazardous to my fingers than the jetbike conversion was. It is not recommended for people just starting out in the wild world of model conversion.

Here are the parts and raw materials used for this conversion and their part numbers (where applicable):

  • 2 x Babylon 5 Narn Ka'Toc Battle Destroyers
  • 2 x Dark Eldar Haemonculi w/Destructor (011200301)
  • Wych 7 w/Blaster (011200113)
  • Sybarite 1 (011200201)
  • Spiky Bitz from Dark Eldar Warrior Sprue(45-07)
  • Citadel Modeling Epoxy Putty - "Green Stuff" (66-13)
  • thin paper clip (for pinning)

Step 1: Using a thin bladed hacksaw, I cut across the torso of the half-finished (and already partialy converted) Haemonculi models just below the point on their belts and the Wyche & Sybarite just above the hips and lower abs.

Step 2a: The excess metal was cut/ground out from the under the Haemonculis' belts, leaving a concave area. This step takes forever and is greatly helped by using a Dremel rotary tool with shaped grinding tips - Eye protection is a must! Jewlers' hand files were also used. Don't be suprised if things break off at this stage - especially if they were the result of previous converting.

Step 2b: Once the upper torsos were finished, the tops of the legs were filed and shaped to fit into the smooth concave opening. It didn't half the time of the previous step, but at this point I was sick of removing metal.

Step 3: Once the legs fit to the underside of the torso, it's time to drill holes and add pins to the torso and the feet. Be VERY careful here - especially if you are using a Dremel! I wasn't paying attention and pushed through the legs of one model right into my thumb - it nearly came out the other side. Needless to say, I learned my lesson about paying close attention when using power tools (while watching TV, that is).

Step 4: Once the torso and legs are fitted and pinned, you can glue them together. I did not glue the bodies to the skyboards because I find it's much easier to paint them prior to gluing. You may also want to start replacing parts that broke off from all the cutting and grinding in the initial steps.

Step 5a:
At this stage, it's time to add the tabards (made from greenstuff). This took some time, as I have really never used the Stuff for anything more than gap filling.

Step 5b:
Rear shot showing the tabards pushed up under the belt of the torso. It was at this stage I pinned the arm that broke off earlier and filled the gap. NOTE: The bodies are not glued to the skyboards - I just photographed them that way to illustrate what I'm working towards (and it holds them upright nicely) .

Step 6:
The last stage before painting is to add any further conversion details to the model. Since I had already partially converted the two Haemonculi when I first got them, I just basically re-glued bitz that had fallen off and filled the gaps with Green Stuff. Time for primer!

Note: This is an older article relocated from my website - I've since painted these two and hope to have some decent pics of them up soon.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Art: Damocles, Tiefling Rogue

Start to finish in Corel Painter X. This is my first attempt using this style of art. It took way too long and the highlights are wonky. Fortunately, I'll get plenty of practice as this is the first of five - I'm planning to do a piece for each of my PC's.

Credit goes to Gabe and the PC portraits he posted on at Penny Arcade for the inspiration.

Friday, March 20, 2009

DnD: PBH2 Impressions - Primal Power & Barbarian Missteps

I finally got my copy of PHB2 last night and read through it. The new and additional races and classes are welcome, certainly, but I have some issues with the way the Primal Power source works and how some of the classes are . . . classified.

The power source itself is cool and I think can really add some flavor to a party - as long as they stay in the natural world. A tenuous connection is mentioned between the natural world and the feywild and, assuming I was reading it correctly (it was late), they tried to extend that connetcion to include the planes and the Astral Sea.

Personally, I think the developers stretched this a little beyond reason. Obviously primal powers would work normally for the world/plane/reality from which they are granted. For something like the Feywild (and possibly the Shadowfell), I would say yes . . . but there would be some distortion or reinterpretation - just the Feywild and Shadowfell are sort of reinterpreations/distortions of the natural world the PC's inhabit. The powers would work, but not necessarily in the same way. I do not see how the powers would be able to extend beyond the reality or plane in which they were granted. It's sort of like going to Neptune, but expecting to operate within the same gravitional and atmospheric parameters of Earth.

Imagine the roleplaying opportunities if a character arrived on a new plane only to discover that all their special abilities no longer worked. Clever thinking, basic attacks and the support of their party would be required to survive until they found their way back home . . . Ah well. It's nice to think about as a fledgling DM, but a player may not enjoy it so much. As long as such forays were reasonably short, I think it'd be fun.

Anyway, on to the primal classes!

The Druid, Shaman and Warden definitely feel like they were all cut from the same cloth - variations on a theme. The Shaman uses a spirit-animal-guide-thingie to carry out most of their attacks, while the Warden can draw power into themselves or exert natural forces upon a foe to stop them cold. The Druid is sort of a mixture of both, but also something different. It almost feels (to this humble reviewer) that the developers are splitting hairs between these classes. But none of the powers overlap, so I guess it helps keep things organized. From an uneducated NPC's perspective, however, I'd find it very hard to spot the differences.

And now, the Barbarian. Yes, they still rage; yes, they do massive amounts of damage; and no, their table manners will not get them invited to any formals anytime soon. For some reason, the Barbarian derives his power from a Primal source. The books states something along the lines of "calling a spirit into themselves" or something similar. Frankly, I think this is wrong. A rage is a state of mind, it is almost of form of self-disciplined chaos. A Barbarian's source of power is more in line with a monk or a psion (both classes yet to be mentioned in 4e) than those of a Druid/Shaman/Warden - regardless of their penchant for tattoos and wearing dead animals. Primitive? Yes. Primal? No.

Until we get to the Paragon Paths, that is, then the Barbarian can turn into (wait for it) . . . a Bear-barian! Yes, they can take the form of an anthropomorphic bear to whoop some monster behind! Why? I'm not sure, I guess because they're Primal and all the other Primal classes get to take on animal characteristics - as well as the Shifters. Hmm, I wonder how a Shifter Barbarian feels about being a patchwork Tiger(or Wolf)/Human/Bear - that's gotta mess with your mind. Or a Dragonborn Barbarian . . . But I digress.

So those were my impressions of PHB2 - not necessarily the direction I would've taken things, but I'm not sorry I got it, either.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

40K: DE Archon on Jetbike Tutorial (pt. 2/2)

Step 13: After an evening of filing the stumps of the legs, I was finally able to fit the torso into the shallow impression I had drilled in the Eldar biker's legs.

Step 14:
The pack on the back of the gunner's torso was hitting the back of the seat, so I had to cut it off using an X-acto knife and clippers. Be very careful when cutting metal with an X-acto knife!

Step 15: I put a mark on the torso and the legs to help me glue it at the right angle. The torso required pinning to the legs because there just wasn't enough surface area with glue on it to hold the torso securely in place. The pin actually went through the legs and will go into the seat of the bike a tiny bit.

Step 16:
The biker's left arm was cut at the elbow so it could be re-glued at a better angle.

Step 17: The upper arm was filed slightly and glued to the torso. I sat the body on the bike so I could get a good idea of the angle needed.

Step 18: The forearm was filed out around the elbow to fit the upper arm better. A pin might have been a good idea here, but it would have had to been bent lest it stick out of the arm. I just didn't have the patience for that.

Step 19a: The forearm is glued to the upper arm. Again, I sat the body on the bike to I could be sure an glue it at the proper angle. The string in the picture is holding the body in the correct position until the glue dries.

19b: Here is another shot of the glued forearm and the angle of the torso. I wanted the rider to have a more dynamic,aggressive pose than simply sitting on the bike with both hands on the handlebars.

Step 20: The Agonizer arm is pinned to the torso. It looks huge on the rider by himself, but the bike helps it to appear a little more natural - well, as natural as a sadistic drug-crazed maniac on a flying bike brandishing a bladed glove might appear.

Step 21: The arm is glued into place. I postitioned it back a little to accomodate the wires on the back of the arm as well as to give the impression that he might be drawing back for a strike.

21b: Another shot of the Agonizer arm from the side.

Step 22: While the body is drying, it's time to add some dark character to the jetbike. I used some leftover bitz from my Raiders and Ravagers to enhance the Dark Eldar feel of the bike. Greenstuff was then used to hide seams and fill gaps once the glue dried.

Step 23: Some spikes were added to the legs and the left arm. Greenstuff was used to fill the gaps and seams, especially where the torso and legs were glued together. I try not to use too many blades and spikes for my Dark Eldar because I don't want them mistaken for the many Chaos armies at the two game stores in my area.

Step 24: More greenstuff was used to build up the tricep of the left arm and the back of the torso where the pack was cut off. I put grooves in it to mimic the ribbing of the Dark Eldar armor.

Step 25a & b: Here's the finished model. It is important to note that it is NOT glued together! I am keeping the model separate until after I get it painted, then I will glue it together.

25c & d: Two more shots of the finished model, awaiting paint.

Step 26: OH NO! I forgot to convert the tormentor helm (Good thing I hadn't undercoated it yet)! I had to clip the end off of a Splinter Pistol and file it to fit the curve of the helmet's crest. I could have added some more detail to the side of the helmet, but I was ready to paint.

That's it for the actual converting and modeling portion of this model. Hope it was useful!

I apologize for the inconsistency in the quality of the photos. I'm still new to photographing miniatures.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Public Service Announcement

If your spouse happens to come home from the store with one of these:

Photo taken from:

You should, under no circumstances, hold it up to your face and start to pump furiously and try to pull it off. And, failing that, for the love of all that is good and decent, don't repeat the process several more times.

Should one fail to heed this advice, be forewarned that you will be carrying around a surprisingly well-defined reverse 'X' on your face at work or school the next day - and probably the day after that, it would appear.

So don't let what happened to . . . a . . . friend of mine . . . happen to you.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

40K: DE Archon On Jetbike Tutorial (pt 1/2)

There are few things in Warhammer 40,000 as intimidating as Dark Eldar Archon zooming across the field of battle to engage the enemy in close combat. Anyone who says otherwise hasn't been playing very long.

The normal Dark Eldar are fast little models with spike protruding everywhere. That's OK for a standard model, but the Archon is special and I wanted him to arrive on the enemy's doorstep in style! The standard Eldar jetbike was a good start, but needed some work before it could fit the sleek-but-dangerous feel I was trying to achieve with my Kabal.

The story (if you need one) behind this particular jetbike is that it once belonged to an Eldar Farsser who fell before the Dark Lord in combat. Having taken his head, the Archon decided to take his flashy jetbike as well.

Here are the parts and raw materials used for this conversion and their part numbers (where applicable):
  • Eldar Jetbike w/Shuriken Cannon Boxset (46-12)
  • Asdrubael Vect Gunner 1 (011203008)
  • Dark Eldar Lord Arm (011200902)
  • Bitz from Dark Eldar Raider Crew Sprue (99390112003)
  • Citadel Modeling Epoxy Putty - "Green Stuff" (66-13)
  • 1mm sheet of plastic card
  • small round plastic rod
  • thin paper clip (for pinning)

Step 1: I clean the sprues and pewter parts using an old toothbrush and some dishsoap. It really does make a difference when it is time to apply glue or primer

Step 2: Parts needed are clipped from the sprues and mold lines are cleaned off using an X-acto knife and files.

Step 3: Using an icon I designed for my Dark Eldar, I print out three sizes and compare them to the nose section of the jetbike. I decided on using the medium one.

Step 4: Some thin plasticard is taped over the image and traced with a fine-tipped marker.

Step 5: The design is cut out and the edges are filed smooth.

Step 6: After putting a slight bend in the plastic icon, it is glued to the nose section of the jetbike. Be careful not to use too much glue - just enough to hold all the corners down.

Step 7: Using some round plastic rod, short rivets are cut and glued to the corners of the icon.

Step 8: Moving on to the guns, I cut the end of a splinter rifle with an X-acto knife and clipped the end of the Shuriken Cannon. Some filing was required to get the fit together correctly as the clippers tend to "pinch" the metal to a point.

Step 9: The barrel of the splinter rifle is glued to the Shuriken Cannon. If you are able to successfully pin it together, I'd suggest doing it. I couldn't get it to work out for me, so I just superglued it and moved on.

Step 10: This was my first time using greenstuff. I used some between the barrel and the shuriken cannon as well as covered the seam on the jetbike's fuselage. A little greenstuff goes a LONG long way here!

Step 11: Now the fun begins! I start work on the Archon by cutting one leg at an angle of the Dark Eldar gunner using a thin-bladed hacksaw.

Step 12: The other leg is cut up at an angle matching the model's pelvis.

Stay tuned for Part 2!