Monday, October 26, 2015

Thundertusk conversion

I was cleaning out my phone and found a couple of pictures of a project I did for my Ogres of Ulric - a wolf-headed Thundertusk. While there's no step-by-step, I thought I'd share them with you guys and expound a bit on the process I use when I'm converting models.

For the Ogre Kingdoms army I played in 2015, I was recycling an army theme I'd used back in 2009: an army of ogre-sized werewolves, using the Wolfen and Devourer lines from Rackham's now-defunct Confrontation game. I kept the werewolf theme going throughout the process, using "doglars" instead of Gnoblars, and having a lot of moon iconography in the banners.
When Mierce Miniatures released the concept art for Cnebba, it became my immediate choice for what a Thundertusk would look like.
However, the production schedule slipped and it became obvious that I wasn't going to get Cnebba in time for the first tournament I was taking the Thundertusk to (March 2015). So instead, I took a Thundertusk torso I'd magnetized the heads on earlier, and began work to make it wolfy.
Cnebba, the Maegenwulf, would have made a great choice

First off, I had to identify the parts of the model that would absolutely not work. The head was out, for obvious reasons, and the feet would clearly have to be redone as the Thundertusk's hooves-with-a-dewclaw thing just wasn't right. The tail was also far too weedy to work as a wolf tail. I debated redoing the back of the body, as the back slopes quite a bit from the shoulders down, but I decided to leave it.
Second, I had to decide how the two riders would fit. My original plan was to have them standing on the model, with one hand down holding a chain I would tether to the front of the model's shoulders.
Finally, I had to decide what material I'd use for the sculpting work.
I went with FIMO for the head for a couple of reasons; the primary one being that it's the sculpting material I'm most comfortable with. However, FIMO has to bake in the oven to cure, so I had to sculpt the head without actually attaching it to the body. I've learned through experimenting that GW plastic will melt if you put in the oven at low temperatures for 30-40 minutes, so I knew that whatever I sculpted, I was going to have to cure, then come back and sculpt it onto the body using greenstuff. The riders had footholds marked on the body, and were positioned so that they would balance precariously on top.
Early WiP. Head and feet are blocked out.
With the head blocked out, I removed the models and spent a few days in sculpting. The head armature had two long paper clips coming out of its neck; I used these to pin the head to the body and then bent them down to hold it in place while I worked. When it came time to bake the FIMO, I unbent the paper clips and stuck them into wine corks, then put those on a cookie sheet and stuck them in the oven. I used a similar process for the feet.

The head was sculpted with a couple of sculpting tools. I started with the gums and eyes, and then did the fur over the top. I clearly still have issues with proportions when sculpting realistically; the jaw was Blood-Maw inspired (and actually was the cause for my Wolf-Vore concept, taking the theme further) and his mouth is open far too wide. His eyebrows come far too high above the eye, and the nose is too wide. The cheeks also flare out further than they should, but that was to cover the width of the Thundertusk's neck cavity. Before baking, I used a drill vise to drill the teeth holes into the gums, so I could pin the teeth in place without risking the sculpt splitting.
The head prior to curing.
With the head cured, I super-glued it to the body, repositioned the riders on top, and started sculpting the transition between the sculpt and the body. I messed up proportions again - the ears are too far forward and too high, and the model has absolutely no discernable neck. I began to have stability concerns for the model: with two metal models on top of a plastic model, right on its centerline, the model was far too top-heavy, and I was concerned that he would fall over too easily.
Post-curing, greenstuff transitions sculpted Reverse angle after transition sculpting

With the form of the model mostly done, I changed rider approaches - rather than having them standing on its back, I laser engraved a platform for them to ride on. The metal weight would still be high on the model, but it would be spread out by having them hanging further off the center line on either side. The platform itself was designed to counter-balance the weight of each model, so that each offset the tip risk of bumping the other. As part of this, the ogre with the chaintrap had his chain shortened to prevent accidental breakage, and they switched which side they would be on.
Laser-engraved platform for the riders
With the platform completed, I made the teeth for the model. For this, I rolled about 10 little "snakes" out of FIMO, and rolled them against grooves in my palm until they became very sharp. I would not recommend doing this in future, as the resulting teeth were very fragile, and several have since broken. I now make them using round sprues from resin or plastic, using needle files to file them into sharp points. I made approximately 80 teeth in order to have the right sizes; I found this technique very hit-or-miss in actually being long or wide enough for the look I wanted.

You can also see in the picture that all the work done so far was done with the top piece removable for the model; this is how I managed the head pinning, and figured the placement of the wires that would support the platform. The platform was extensively pinned into the missing top piece before it was glued down. I experimented with magnets to allow the panel to be removable (and help with transport of the model), but the weight of the metal miniatures on the platform just overwhelmed whatever I could get in place.
My, what big teeth you have!

The sculpt work finished, I then painted the Thundertusk itself. The greys relied heavily on blue and purples, and went from a dark grey up to Wolf Grey. To separate the mount from the wolves, I restrained from using Medium Grey in the paint scheme, producing a bluer shade of grey. Everything rock-like on the model (including the exposed underskeleton) was painted as warpstone, to continue the army's theme of mutation-by-eating-wyrdstone. The other colors are my typical shades for each.
The wolf, painted

With the mount painted, I then attached the platform using seven pins (one is visible in the picture above). The riders and platform were then painted.
The platform, unpainted and without riders Reverse angle of the Thunderwolf with an empty platform
I wasn't pleased with the wolf's fur tone, so I hit it with another highlight of Wolf Grey/Skull white to brighten it up a bit, then I painted the platform and the riders. I'm not pleased with the platform paint; I tend to start wood too dark and it washed out a lot of the engraved wood-grain detail, but it doesnt' look terrible.

It's not done yet? What a baseless accusation!

Reverse, to show the sculpted tail and the chaintrap wielder

Another angle.

Backside of the crossbow launcher

Finally, I based him on a laser-engraved wooden base, flocked it, and called him finished.
In place at the top of a hill.

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