Sunday, 16 October 2011

Corpse Cart 3: The base...

In the tradition of movies the first part was the classic (dealing with the cool conversion stuff), the second overlong, probably confusing and with the feeling that you've seen it before (oohh... Steve talks about using washes) and the third part tries to recapture the original with a new twist...

So, we're back to broad modelling stuff and so on... here's the base.

I'll start with a pic. Here's how the base looked before painting.

The details then...

There were many plans for what the base and there was a point where I wanted to use a straight gaming base (in this case a standard chariot base) but once the ox was attached the cart was too long for the base and I didn't want to make a non stadard gaming base as I may as well go to the other thought: diorama base.

The general thought was the cart rumbling along and the battlefield coming to life around it. I originally wanted a lot more raising dead and also wanted them to be zombies but I lacked ideal materials without heavy scratchbuilds so went with skellies... and it'd have to be just a few. One idea that was put to me by my good friend Neil (there you go, I mentioned you) was that the dead were rising as the cart passes so they would be more risen behind it than in front, like a wave of the dead. A good plan that with a lack of skeletons doesn't quite come off but it's there in a mild form.

The wooden base is actually a picture frame with a 5" by 7" aperture. Ideal for my purposes. I started by cutting a rectangle of plasticard to work over and added sides to the back and right side which tapered downwards towards the front and left respectively. I don't like dioramas to be too flat and this gave me a nice, uneven hill framework to build around.

I then went away and constructed the raw materials. I made the skeletons up quickly and onto a sheet of plasticard with a little groundwork around them sculpted in ProCreate. After they were finished and the putty was cured I popped them off the plasticard and glued them into position on the base.

Then comes the tree. I felt the base needed something that would aid the composition and give it some height. A twisted and gnarled dead tree seemed ideal. The immediate thought was the citadel plastic trees which had just the right look but alas, they were far too large so it'd have to be a scratchbuild. On the bright side this gave me unparalleled control over the look of the tree.

Overall, on the base I wanted a feel of motion from right to left. I remember reading in White Dwarf when the new Vampire Counts range first turned up a few years back about how they were designed to all look as though they were being blown forward from the back and I carried this through the diorama. Obviously the tree isn't getting blown but I decided that though it would curl to the right it would then twist all it's branches, to a greater or lesser extent, back to the left, creating what I hoped would be a very pleasing composition.

The tree was started with six long lengths of wire. They were bunched together and then twisted tightly at the middle point to create the trunk. A bit of brute force got the correct shape and this left me with six wires out of each end. They were then twisted into groups of two for a short distance and posed before using single strands of wire for the extremities of the branches. I did the same to make the roots. So the trunk is six wires down to three for larger branches and finally down to one for finer ones.

I then sculpted over the armature with ProCreate to create the bark. Not too much I can say about this other than to be quick and be bold. After the broad shapes were in place I added the striations and so on with a sculpting tool and finally, when the putty was mostly cured, battered the surface with the bristles of an old toothbrush to add a little texture.

Finally I added a few extra twigs by rolling out lengths of Procreate and adding them to the branches and sculpted the broken off stump out the side. With hindsight I'd have gone one stage further and added even finer twigs for a more complex look. BUt hindsight is 20:20 as they say...

The tree was pinned to the base. Easy enough as the wires extended out of the roots naturally. Then came the messy bit. I mixed up a vast quantity of Magic Sculp and packed it over the whole surface of the base and around the skellies and tree. I worked as quickly as possible fighting against the curing time as I then had to put in the textures by rolling real stones over the putty and then press in small rocks and skulls. I also pushed the cart into the putty so that it would have a good place to locate on the base and then added the hoof prints from the ox and the trail of the wheels (yes, I rolled the actual Corpse Cart wheels backwards from the point where it would sit).

So, that was the base constructed and now onto painting. For future reference, I actually painted this before the cart. I almost always paint bases before figures.

Alas there maybe a lack of detail here as it was a messy process that involved a lot of experimentation and mistakes so I couldn't accurately tell you exactly how things were painted but there are a few clues...

I painted the skeletons in the same way as and bone sections on the cart.

The groundwork was basecoated with a mix of Charadon Granite and Khemri Brown then drybrushed with Khemri Brown and Kommando Khaki to lift it a little further. The rocks from a base of a mix of Adeptus Battle Grey and Charadon Granite up to Kommando Khaki and a light drybrush of white. There were then varying washes of Devlan Mud.

The tree was basecoated with Chardon Granite and then drybrushed up by adding more and more Skull White until it was just pure Skull White. Then... four coats of Devlan Mud. This was my plan and it... sort of worked but not that greatly.

Finally I added static grass. I used the Citadel Burnt Grass (the brown one) and drybrushed it after the pva dried with Goblin Green and then up to Bleached Bone.

So, painting done on the base...

Err... yeah... except...

... it really didn't look so great. The pic there doesn't look bad but it all looked a little harsh and just a bit unimpressive. The skellies weren't very neat looking, the tree looked horribly powdery and the static grass felt a bit flat and dull.

Soooo... more work. It was then that I decided that the idea of scrubbrushing that I'd been playing with in my head might be a lifesaver (see the last blog entry for more details).

I scrubbrushed nearly everything on the base (except the static grass) with Charadon Granite to equalise things and it helped. The powdery finish on the tree was reduced, the groundwork started to look natural and it neatened up the skellies giving them a dusty, fresh from the earth, quality. I then added patches of Citadel Scorched Grass (the fibrous green one) over the original static grass and drybrushed it with bleached bone. The extra tones and height helped no end. I added glazes of Kommando Khaki onto parts of the tree to highlight subtly and clean it up a bit. Finally more patches of Devlan Mud and washes of Chaos Black on the groundwork to darken it down.

I had a base that was a little more fitting for the cart I'd spent a good while converting and was about to paint under time constraints. So, it worked out.

And that's the Corpse Cart project. Lots of fun and probably more stress than such a project should be but I got there in the end and my placing third in the Open made it all worthwhile.

My acceptance speech thanks Neil for being the sounding board and sending up the 'half a Corpse Cart' I'd left behind in Cornwall, Colin for coming to the rescue with spare Corpse Cart parts as things went horribly wrong at certain stages and Mike, Martin and Seb for general advice and nagging.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Painting the Corpse Cart...

Before I jump into this post I'd like to extend thanks to izeColt from the Spiky Rat Pack Blog for the excellent front view pic of the cart that you see above. Taken with his iPhone of all things. I'm getting more and more disturbed by how well that gadget can take a pic of a mini...

Check out the Spiky's blog here . Definitely a worthwhile read if you've not already found it :)

So then, painting the Corpse Cart.

After all the conversion work I had to plan how to tackle the figure. Larger figures are not my strong point so my immediate thought is always towards sub-assemblies. Basically I wanted to break the figure down into semi-built components that I could paint separately and then assemble right at the end. This gave me several distinct and smaller projects to handle and it becomes more manageable for me. One thing I was clear on was that, at assembly time, I did not want to be gap-filling. I wanted to literally glue things into place and... done. So, I made sure all the joining areas were hidden. Here we have a photo of all the pieces after a blast of black undercoat and ready for an appointment with my paintbrush...

The first thing I tackled was the base but I want to devote another blog post to that so, assume for the time being that I've already done that. As it stands it was a more complicated process than that for reasons I'll get back to in both this post and the one for the base.

So, onwards with the paintjob. I ploughed straight into work on it with a view to a fairly 'Eavy Metal' style paintjob and quickly found my painting skills had deserted me and everything was going spectacularly poorly. After a day or two of thinking 'screw this' I kind of came back to my recent skirmishes with painting in a much quicker and dirtier style. Thoughts turned towards the idea of mixing these techniques with my classic techniques and indeed playing with new techniques to see what was possible. And thus, I ventured back into the painting process...

First up I tackled the ox. Having decided that this was the main draw of my entry it felt like a good plan to get it done with quickly and while my inspiration was high. I started by layering from Chaos Black up to Charadon Granite over the fleshy areas and painted the bone sections a dull grey working around Codex Grey and not worrying overly about absolute neatness. I then started adding a mix of Tallarn Flesh and Codex Grey to the Charadon Granite for a few sparse highlights and around the edges of the torn flesh, particularly around the gaping hole in his side. I also used these concoctions to paint the exposed guts.

Things were a bit rough at this point and so I used a technique that I'd always had running about in my head but had never tried out. I call it scrub-brushing and I used Charadon Granite for it. Basically I thinned the Charadon Granite right down to a wash level. Then I loaded an old brush, blotted most of it and then proceeded to pretty much add it with a scrubbing motion rather like drybrushing but getting it into all the shading too. This has the effect of glazing all the tones, evening out the highlights and generally smoothing things out. I got a couple of odd looks at the studio when I mentioned I'd been glazing with Foundation Paints. At this point I had a nice, appropriately dull but fairly clean looking ox. I then started to look at the idea I'd had recently for painting blood.

A while back I'd played with the idea of painting blood just using the Citadel Washes using Baal Red. It worked quite well but was too pink in tone so I'd thought a 50/50 mix of Baal Red and Gryphonne Sepia might just do the trick. So, thought I'd give it a shot on the ox. I mixed up a batch and splashed it onto the ox it patches, concentrating around the hole in his side. The washes are quite subtle so I started on layer after layer and each time it worked better and better. Can't remember how many but I think it was four or five. The transparency and subtle way it settles gave me exactly the look I was going for and the reddened section around the hole is one of my favourite parts of the whole diorama.

Onto the cart itself. The wood and metal sections were all painted quite quick and dirty as I lacked much time to spend on them but I think the style works and these areas don't naturally draw the eye anyway.

The wood was basecoated Bestial Brown and roughly highlighted by adding more and more bleached bone. Mostly this was a case of not having too much paint on the brush and using the side of it to pick up the wood grain. Like drybrushing but with slightly more wet paint. Final highlights were near pure Bleached Bone and just on the edges. I wasn't worried about neatness as long as I didn't get paint on areas already painted (the haft is attached to the already painted ox in it's sub assembly). Neatness was then taken care of by two heavy washes of Devlan Mud. This deepened and darkened everything back to a nice wood effect and I then went over again with splashes of Thraka Green wash to give some tones in the wood. Two layers again but just here and there. And the wood is done.

Metals were even simpler. Basecoat of Boltgun Metal followed by a heavy wash of Badab Black. Then I caught a few edges with Boltgun to re-highlight and splashed a few areas with Gryphonne Sepia for a suble rust effect.

The golds were interesting. I generally don't use gold paint as mentioned in previous entries. I used a mix of Boltgun Metal and Burnt Umber artist's ink as a basecoat. Then a wash of Devlan Mud over this. Finally I mixed up a wash of 50/50 Regal Blue and Dark Angels Green and washed patches of this over the gold areas to add a patina. Gave a really nice finish. These areas on the figure are still quite dull but are just enough to add a little extra colour where needed. Going for the gritty and sombre colour scheme risked a very dull result I was trying to avoid.

So, onto the Corpses...

I quickly decided that the corpses should have a uniform skintone. Not realistic especially but it worked well. The basecoat was approximately a 50/50 mix of Tallarn Flesh and Adeptus Battle Grey and all clothing was painted in dull browns and fawns that would show up too much. Highlighting on the skin was added with Kommando Khaki and a few final highlights were added with a little extra white. The rats were painted in basically the same way as the ox. I then scrub-brushed the Corpses with Charadon Granite in much the same way as the ox and then they got that same blood treatment. I ended up with a fairly disturbing look I feel.

The reds on the shields and the Necromancer's robe were painted in much the same way. I started with a basecoat of Scorched Brown and layered up to Blood Red. Final Highlights added a mix of Dwarf Flesh and Bubonic Brown to the Blood red (I'd have just used Vomit Brown if I had any at the time). I thinned a mix of Graveyard Earth and Kommando Khaki and splashed it over the edges of the Necromancer's Cloak. Many layers to build up a subtle, muddy look. Then blood mix spattered over this.

The black parts on the Necromancer were simply Chaos Black highlighted by adding Dwarf Flesh (one of my pet techniques).

The Necromancer's Flesh was basically painted the same as the corpses just with a little more neatness and a little extra highlighting to draw the eye.

The parchments were basecoated Charadon Granite and highlighted by adding Skull White. The text was added with a thinned mix of Bestial Brown and Chaos Black. I finished the parchment with a thin wash of Charadon Granite to tie things together.

Well, that's the main thrust of the painting of this beast, minus the base of course... and I'll get back to that very soon.

All in I'm really happy with how he turned out though there were a number of ropey moments and I quite the project many times over the course of the process. Glad I persevered though, obviously...

I'll finish with another pic of the rear of the figure.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Transportation of Corpses... and Open contests...


Sorry for the delay everyone. I've been pretty tired the last week of so with work, getting my Open entry finished up and then working Games Day last weekend. But all worth it as my Open entry, a converted Corpse Cart, picked up third place in the contest. My first win in the Open after a few tries over the years.

So, to the entry itself. Not long after joining the studio I started thinking it'd be cool to enter the Open and the task of selecting a figure began. After a few false starts I settled upon the Corpse Cart. The Corpse Cart is a wonderful plastic kit though one that I really haven't seen painted that many times and certainly not as a contest entry. That was as good a reason as any to make it the project I would go with. Then we hit a problem. I can paint well but the guys who regularly enter the open aren't good painters, they are often the best of the best and I couldn't really compete paintjob to paintjob so I had to work out something else and sculpting and conversion seemed like a plan.

I'd thought about painting a Corpse Cart many times over the years and had always planned to not have it pulled by zombies. Nothing against zombies of course (who would) but I wanted something different. The idea had always been a skeletal horse but I started thinking if I could impress more. A few early thoughts were of getting a plastic regular horse and 'zombifying' it. Then I took a look at the ancient Plague Cart model that was presumably the initial spur of the Corpse Cart concept.

A classic figure of it's day but showing it's age. Then I saw the Ox pulling it. Hmmm, Steve thinks, that could be cool. We we certainly thinking scratchbuild for that and I quickly decided that zombie ox was more appropriate than skeletal ox. So, I delved straight ito sculpting myself a zombie ox. A little way into the sculpting process I started thinking that, without the constraints of casting, it really should be hollowed out and so you can look into the ox and see all the inside of his ribcage and if you peer back into the darkness, his intestines. Niiiice!

After a lot of working out the logistics of how the cart would attach to the ox I had the piece ready. And here's the pics I luckily remembered to take before painting...

With the ox complete I was concentrating on the cart itself. I decided to put the new single figure plastic Necromancer, released with Storm of Magic, on the back instead of the figure that comes with the cart. He fits quite well as long as you open the right arm component out a bit and fill the gap. Just a bit of trimming to get it to fit nicely.

I also added a grotesque face to the bell and generally went around the cart either removing or adding small details.

So, with the conversion done I was ready for painting... aaaand... to be continued. I don't want to turn this one post into a behemoth so will save the painting stage for another post. There will be another after that to talk about the basework... not sure if I have decent pics... hope I have some.

But I'm not going to leave this post without showing you the finished article. Admittedly not the best pic ever but it at least shows the whole figure. So, here it is... The Corpse Cart!!!