Sculpting Skulls

The LED tea light candle I started sculpting into a burning altar piece has been seen in previous recent posts on my sculpting adventures. Over on one of the Facebook-based gaming groups I frequent someone had asked for closeups of the sculpting of the altar, especially the growing population of skulls decorating the thing.

skullthing

Three closeups of the altar showing it’s growing skull population! Click for larger, as usual.

Most of the skulls have been added as a second layer after the putty forming the stonework is already dry, although some of them have been done right onto the base layer of putty. Given this little project’s orgins as a way to use up leftover putty, some of them are greenstuff but most are terracotta Milliput, which is currently my primary sculpting medium.

I’ll get photos of the treemen and other in-progress sculpting projects up later this week.

Impudent Mortal Paint Rack

I first heard of Impudent Mortal when Richard of TooFatLardies used two of their buildings to build himself a very nice brewery for WW2 gaming. Rich got his through Minibits in the UK but it turns out Impudent Mortal is over on this side of “the Pond” down in the States.

I was interested in the universal brick look of the industrial buildings, which are the sort of Victorian/early-20th C brickwork you can find almost anywhere in the world right up to the present day, so I finally ordered a pair of brick buildings, a 6″x4″ rectangular building and a larger L-shaped building.

I also ordered one of their paint racks, the 66-bottle 3-level Reverse Eyedropper Paint Rack Extra Shelf, as most of my paint collection is Reaper Master Series in the very nice dropper bottles.

Communication from Walt at Impudent Mortal is fantastically quick and shipping is similar; everything arrived while I was away in northern Alberta then had to wait until I got back to the real world before I could do anything with it! Both buildings and the paint rack arrived tightly wrapped in heavy cling-wrap, the industrial version of your standard sandwich wrap, which kept all the components together very nicely inside the box.

I’ll get the buildings covered properly when I assemble them soon, but my first impression from dry-fitting the smaller building and then properly assembling the paint rack is that everything fits together easily and solidly. All the Impudent Mortal stuff is laser-cut from 3mm MDF, which will make for very solid buildings and a very solid paint rack.

Instead of shipping their stuff with instruction sheets IM has both videos and PDFs on their website, which has the advantage of giving you an idea of how everything fits together even before you buy it. The paint rack I bought is 14 pieces: two vertical sides, six shelf pieces, and the rest bracing at the backs of the shelves. Each shelf level has two pieces, the top piece with larger holes to hold the body of the dropper bottle, and the lower piece with smaller holes intended to hold the top of the lid of each dropper bottle.

Each level also has half a dozen smaller holes in each back corner, intended to hold brushes, sculpting tools, pencils or other small tools. That’s a useful way to use up the corners too small to tuck one more bottle into, but the lower pieces have holes in them too, which is odd – it means only the lowest shelf can actually be used to hold most things, because a brush or pencil put in one of the top shelf’s holes will just fall through. Leaving those corners of the lower pieces of each shelf pair solid would make them more usable.

Assembly was easy and quick and the fit was good. Lay one vertical side piece out, add all six shelf pieces with a bit of white glue, then drop the other side piece in and click everything together one shelf piece at a time. The various braces go on and keep everything square, and you’re done. Maybe ten minutes after I started I had the paint rack on my crowded painting bench and was loading paint into it!

paintrack

Workbench with new Impudent Mortal paint rack, 12 October 2014. Click for larger, as usual.

Making space for the new rack forced a badly-needed reorganization of my fairly small and very crowded painting bench. The small holes for paint brushes and tools will allow me to downsize the round white tin on the left to some sort of smaller container soon, now that files, pencils and such are tucked into the new rack, and the space-consuming clutter of overflow paint bottles from the homemade rack on the left is now nicely contained in the new rack. The shelves on this particular rack are far enough apart that you can fit GW or Tamiya paint pots between the top and bottom pairs of each shelf level, which is a nice bonus. You even have space to do that with a few pots per level when all the holes have dropper bottles in them – see the right-hand side of the middle shelf in the photo above!

The top shelf of the new rack will eventually hold my collection of acrylic artists inks that I use regularly on figures, but give the weight of those bottles I have had to leave them off until the glue had properly dried on the rack!

The IM racks are available in several different styles to fit different types of bottles; this one is about 12″ wide, 8″ deep and just under 12″ tall. Highly recommended and good value for money.

Hope everyone is having an excellent Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend, if you’re lucky enough to be a Canuck, or a good ordinary weekend if not!

Back! (Again…)

Just back from a month-long field assignment, as mentioned in my previous post. I have more photos of the sculpting projects to post, and some new photos to take of progress on the treemen and other sculpting projects!

There’s also some slightly dusty projects left behind when I left… and two packages of good stuff I ordered while away which are waiting for me to pick up later this weekend. Details on the new shiny soon.

I’ve got the Russian Civil War bug again, caused by reading the Mud & Blood rules and associated scenario books in PDF form while away. Speaking of which, a few weeks ago TooFatLardies released Chris Stoeson’s From Empire to Revolution scenario supplement for M&B, covering the Eastern Front of WW1. It talks about the Austro-Hungarian and Russian armies in some detail (the Germans already have coverage in the main M&B book, of course) and should prove useful for our RCW adventures, as well as providing inspiration to maybe start a force of Austro-Hungarians or Germans sometime this winter. I’ll likely do a proper review post of From Empire to Revolution soon, but for now the short version is: go pick this up, it’s very well done!

It’s good to be back! I have a few days off so I’ll unpack the sculpting tools and press on with that soon. The first two treemen are so close to being finished I can taste it; hopefully a couple of evenings of sculpting will get them done, dusted and onto the Blood Bowl pitch.

Sculpting In Exile III: Hands, Faces & Skulls

They have hands! Well, hands are in progress, in any rate. I used thin wire superglued to the forearm or wrist of each figure, then built the fingers and wrists up by looping and folding the wire. Very thin strips of greenstuff after that, then some detailing and additional very thin bits of greenstuff.

Hands in progress. See text for details, and click for larger.

Hands in progress. See text for details, and click for larger.

Above, the larger treeman has the first coat of putty on his hands, while the shorter one has wires glued to his wrists waiting to be formed into hands.

Dread Altar (now with skulls!)

Dread Altar (now with skulls!)

The altar that started life as a way to use up leftover putty has taken on a life of it’s own, as projects tend to. I’ve been practicing the fine art of sculpting skulls on it.

Hands and the start of faces. Also, sculpting tools.

Hands and the start of faces. Also, sculpting tools.

I’ve started doing the heads and faces on both treemen, in Milliput because I’m still happier working in that than in greenstuff. Shorter treeman has also had his fingers and hands formed from wire, but no greenstuff yet.

You can also see my three primary sculpting tools here. The all-metal one is from the Army Painter sculpting tools set; it has a bent paddle sort of shape on one end and a spear blade sort of thing on the other. The pale wood handle is an embossing tool, usually used by scrapbookers and other crafty sorts but very useful for sculpting. It has a small round knob on each end, perfect for eye sockets in skulls, rounded grooves in things and similar shaping. The final tool is a homemade one, using the handle of a dead paintbrush and two bits of paperclip wire. One end is bent into a sort of hook, the other just has a gentle bend in it.

Heads and faces progressing, and yet more skulls on the altar! Click for larger, as always.

Heads and faces progressing, and yet more skulls on the altar! Click for larger, as always.

Final photo for now from just this morning. The heads and faces on both treemen are progressing, although they both have a fair way to go before I’ll consider them complete. The amusement of sculpting skulls has taken over the altar. I haven’t counted yet but there have to be at least a dozen+ skulls on the thing now…

Sculpting in Exile Progress Pics

A gallery post of work-in-progress cellphone photos from Project Hotelroom Treemen!

Many of these were taken late at night under a desk lamp and they’re all cellphone pics, so quality is… variable. They’re still a decent record of the progress of the hotel room projects to date, so enjoy.

Sculpting in Exile

I’m away from home in northern Alberta for four to six weeks helping run a field project for the company I work for. It’s hard but fascinating work with long hours and we’re living in a hotel suite for the duration.

I’ve brought figures and paint on previous field assignments, but the lighting in most hotel rooms is terrible so I’ve never painted much.

I couldn’t take the thought of not having some creative outlet, though, so this time I packed putty, sculpting tools and some other supplies and resolved to use the time to practice the dark art of converting putty, wire, and bad language into usable figures. Specifically, I decided to start with a couple of treemen to use on the Bloodbowl pitch.

Why treemen? I’ve seen a lot of treeman figures out there I didn’t like for various reasons, so I wanted to try my hand at a treeman that satisfied me, and also because the exact details and proportions of something like a treeman are less fixed than a human or similar humanoid would be.

Just by way of a teaser, here’s where Project Hotelroom Treeman started!

image

A washer, paperclip wire, scrap paper, and superglue. Everything has to start somewhere!

LInks of Interest, 5 Sept 2014

Just to prevent this place becoming all-Blood Bowl, all the time, some semi-random interesting links.

Over on Lead Adventure Forum, I found the information on this thread about paint add-ins, matte/gloss mediums and related substances very useful. Going to have to visit on of the good local art stores soon, I think…

I’ve also just bought new greenstuff putty finally, to replace the very, very old strip of the stuff that’s been hanging around my desk for far too long. The old stuff had the consistency of used old chewing gum and was pretty much impossible to work with; the new stuff (along with a couple of new sculpting tools!) has reminded me how much fun messing around with greenstuff is. There’s a pile of YouTube video tutorials showing basic greenstuff sculpting techniques – one I rather like is The Dizmo’s skull tutorial.

Green Stuff Industries host a good mix of basic messing-with-green-stuff tutorials, including this Sculpting Bas-Relief Flames tutorial that I want to try out sometime soon.

One final sculpting-related link, this one from Kings Miniatures on making your own simple sculpting tools from dowel and paperclip wire.

I’m off next week to northern Alberta for three to six weeks of field work, helping run a project up there, so posting might continue to be fairly light but I’m going to take some putty and sculpting stuff with me and practice the art – it should be more forgiving of hotel suite lighting than painting, which I’ve tried in hotel rooms in the past and always quit because even at a hotel room desk the light tends to be lousy…

Reaper Minis Customer Service is Awesome

Looking to assemble unique teams for Blood Bowl without spending a lot of money, I’ve been poking around the Reaper Bones collection – Reaper’s relatively new collection of injection-molded figures in a relatively soft plastic.

I ordered a couple of figures from my FLGS that seemed usable in Blood Bowl, just to check them out. I got an Ogre Chieftain, a Minotaur, and a Spirit of the Forest, intending to remove the weapons (in the case of the minotaur & ogre, at least) and use them as, respectively, an orge, minotaur and treeman in BB teams.

I’ll talk more about all three figures in future posts, but first I have to say that Reaper’s online customer service is awesome. I bought the figures Thursday and realized that evening that the Spirit of the Forest had been packed with two right arms. Friday I confirmed on the Reaper website that the Spirit is indeed supposed to actually have both a left and right arm and sent a short email off to Reaper customer service that Friday evening.

Monday morning first thing I had a short email from Reaper asking for a shipping address so they could send a replacement left arm; I replied around mid-day and that afternoon got another email saying my part would be packaged and shipped soon. Wednesday morning I got a notice (with tracking number) saying my package had left Reaper.

I’d always heard Reaper had good customer service, but because I can order Reaper figures through Curious Comics & Games here in town had never had any reason to deal directly with them. I’m happy to say the rumours are entirely true, and I’m looking forward to getting the replacement part for my Spirit of the Forest soon!

Paint on Blood Bowl Temples

Finally getting paint onto all the Blood Bowl sideline buildings, which means it’s worth pointing a camera at them again – neither bare pink styrofoam nor black primered styrofoam are really all that photogenic.

bbtemple

The BB temples get some paint! Not done yet, mind you. Click for larger.

For scale reference, the figure on the black base in the centre of the photo is an Impact Crocling (Skink) on a 25mm slottabase.

Left to right along the back row, we have the finished scoreboard/scatter temple, the Visitors dugout, then the Home (Crocodile) dugout. Front left corner is the dice tower, and next to the tower is the dice catch basin/ceremonial pool that attaches to the front of the dice tower.

Quite a bit of stuff still to do – all the buildings need black washes here and there to tone the colours down and weather some of the stone back down where the drybrushing has gotten too bright, then I need to do at least one pass of much lighter drybrushing with a paler/brighter stone colour to pop the edges and textures a bit.

I’ve already mentioned the magnets to keep the dice tower and it’s catch basin/pool together while they’re in use, and the Home team dugout also has a pair of simple croc-head statues underway to go at the front corners of the centre dugout area, where you can still see unpainted pink foam.

I also need to figure out what symbols to put in the large blank circles in five of the six dugout areas. Blood Bowl’s dugouts are Reserve/Knocked Out/Casualty (RES/KO/CAS) and aside from the obvious skull for CAS I’m not sure what to put for the other two areas. Anyone got any bright ideas or inspiration there? If you do, please comment below, I’d love some help…

Lines & Logos on a Blood Bowl Pitch

It’s been a quiet stretch here mostly because I was away from home for just over a week housesitting for a family member on the other side of town, but the Blood Bowl pitch setup has been progressing slowly.

I posted my stencil tests recently and have since finished the full set of field lines and a logo on the fabric pitch.

fieldlines

Masking the field off for most of the field lines. Newsprint and lots of masking tape! Click for larger

For the field lines, I used masking tape over the fabric to mask off the edges of each line. Because of the width of the tape I had, I wound up doing the outer lines of each endzone separately. The photo above has the centre line (Line of Scrimmage), wide zone and long edge lines masked off, as well as the inside edge of each end zone. After masking it off I sprayed along each line with white spraypaint, making two or three passes down each line.

The red crocodile head logo in the centre of the pitch I did differently. I laid out the image in the size I wanted in Inkscape on my computer, then printed it on a sheet of full-sheet label paper — the sort of paper where the entire sheet is one giant sticker. After printing it I used an Xacto to cut the stencil out, mostly freehand but using a small steel ruler where needed. Once cut I peeled the backing paper off and stuck the stencil down to the fabric.

You could do this step with ordinary printer paper (ideally a good quality slightly heavier-weight sheet) and secure it in place with masking tape around the edges, but I happen to have a stockpile of the full-sheet label paper around and it does work better than ordinary paper for things like the spirals in this stencil and some of the smaller details — see around the nostrils and eyes, for example.

stencil1

Cutting out and placing the stencil on the felt. Click for larger, see text for details.

After it was carefully pressed into place on the felt I loaded up a regular 1.5″ wide housepainter’s brush with red craft paint and went at the stencil in the classic Martha Stewart-approved way of painting a stencil without getting paint under the edges of it and ruining the outline, namely short vertical stabby strokes down onto the surface, working slowly and being careful not to disturb the stencil as you work. It works on Blood Bowl pitches just as well as it works on bedside tables or whatever crafty random thing Martha does!

stencil2

Logo done in the background and stencil lifted off in the foreground. Click for larger.

After getting a reasonable layer of paint into the stencil I lifted it carefully off while the paint was still wet, to keep the stencil from getting stuck to the fabric. It came out very clean, no fuzzy edges or paint bleeding under, especially given it was painted onto fabric!

Later I went back and masked off the last field lines around the outer edges of the endzones, same tape-and-newsprint method I used on the main field lines.

If (when!) I do another fabric pitch, I’m going to seriously consider just doing all the field lines and other decorations with a brush instead of spraypaint; protecting the rest of the project (and the rest of the room!) from overspray is a massive pain when using spraypaint. All the masking seen in the first photos of this post took most of an hour to do, while the spraypainting itself only took a couple of minutes after the masking was complete. Brush painting stencils produce no overspray and don’t generally put the rest of the room at risk of being repainted…

The felt pitch is done at this point, except that I might eventually go back and add some colour to the endzone areas, or a team name across one or both endzones if I get really ambitious.

Work on the various sideline temples (last seen here) is also progressing, although taking pictures of black-primered buildings is fairly pointless so a proper progress report from that segment of the project will be a couple of days from now.