Monday, July 30, 2012

Painting the Host for Mortis Engine/Coven Throne

In the previous post I instructed on a method of painting the Engine and Throne; doing so mostly on the sprue rather than a fully assembled model.  In the case of the Host, this is no exception.  The Host was painted separately of the Engine or Throne and it too was painted on the sprue and in stages of assembly.

The Host...

Initially the Host was airbrushed with white coming down on the tops while the undersides remained black-ish.  Then Vallejo model air pale green was sprayed on, highlighted with Vallejo model air camouflage light green + white.  Beyond the airbrushing, the rest was just what I came up with and felt comfortable doing. 

First wash over the initial airbrushing.
 Bob sprayed a gloss clear coat to help the washes move down into the crevices; that was a neat trick and it worked quite well.  I used a series of washes that we created, the first is like a diluted Scorpion Green.  Do this selectively, notice that I only placed the wash in certain areas and left other places untouched.  That may not seem apparent.

Second wash step.
 This second wash is a blue-green turquoise, it most closely resembles the Hawk Turquoise I suppose.  It is mainly focused around the skeletons and skeletal floating heads, and just beneath the armour of the horse and rider.
Notice where the green-turquoise wash is focused.
 Next, the whole piece is lightly brushed with white from the top down.  I don't go from all angles because I really only want the tops of the clouds and skeletons to be 'white' the underneath can have a green-gray cast from the original airbrushing colors.  As a tip, if your white is misbehaving and it seems streaky or creates ridges keep your brush moist, not WET, MOIST.  You will have to do multiple layers of the white, lightly.  If you attempt to apply too much at once it may streak or run or just glop.  Remember, you can always add paint but you can't take it away as easily.
 Now the metal needs painting.  I just used Chainmail washed with Armour Wash although you could use Badab Black just as well.  Then, where all those holes are in the armour, that's when I used the green-turquoise wash to make it look as if the 'spirit' is oozing out.  I like that magical touch.

The Base...

 This is what I did to the bases since they were just plain old rectangles and GW didn't bother to make any bling to go with the model.  These are plaster moulded rocks with some talus and ballast.  I glued them on, let them dry and painted them in secessions of gray.  That's up to you if you choose to paint them gray or not, some people like brownish rocks.  I like gray because they provide a neutral backdrop for the rest of the piece.

 I think sometimes people go overboard with the bases and they distract from the model.  Meh, to each his own.  When we photographed pottery and sculptures in the art department we always had gray walls, gray pedestals, gray drop I keep that in mind...the model is like the artwork and the base is just the display.  It's okay if there is stuff on the base but it shouldn't be overwhelming.  I kinda wish there were a few skulls or a trampled victim underneath or maybe just a fallen shield.  I think that would have been okay.
Apparently, at some point, I lost the other photos that I had of the basing...  I had something that was a little more step-by-step than just these.  After painting the stones Cel-Vinyl Gray 28, I would brush over with Gray 20, then 10, then 5.  Obviously these are progressively lighter shades of gray.  You could accomplish the same effect if you were to add increasing amounts of white to your preferred tone of gray, like Chardon Granite.
When the painting of the stones is accomplished we paint the base an earth colored brown.  I try to avoid painting where the model is going to be glued so that is why you see pencil marks on the black base above.  I just paint around the pencil marks.  After that I put my base flock on, the model is glued to the base, allowed to dry thoroughly, and finally tufts of grass and do-dads are added.

Of course the completed versions of the Coven Throne and the Mortis Engine are more impressive than the individual parts.

Bob added some gloss to the cauldron of blood.

 First we glued the Host to the base and let it dry thoroughly before adding the remaining flock and tufts of grass.  This way there wouldn't be all the weight of the Host + the Throne/Engine pulling on the two contact points of the base.  I was just waiting for it to fall apart; I would have cried.

FYI: These spirits were a super pain to glue on.  They look super cool though and were painted just the same way as the Host was.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below, email or facebook us.  We'll be happy to answer.

With Love, Allison

Coven Throne and Mortis Engine

A Tale of Two Models

Bob and I have been commissioned to assemble and paint the Vampire Count's Coven Throne and Mortis Engine.  Yes, that's two of the same model for the same customer.  Through assembly, painting and more assembly lessons have been learned.  Allow me to share...

It was the best of models, it was the worst of models, it was the model of ingenuity, it was the model of ineptness, it was the effigy of arrogance, it was the miniature of Beauty, it was the miniature of Chaos, it was the March of temperance, it was the August of wrath, I had the instructions before me, I had gibberish before me, I was going direct to Nirvana, I was going direct to Madness...

Basics for Assembly...

Bob decided to prime the pieces while they were still on the sprue.  He only assembled the primary portions 'host' as you can see above.  He did the same for the 'engine' or 'throne' part as well.

Mortis Engine

Here we have the Mortis Engine itself.  As you can see the cage of the engine where the shrine goes is left un-assembled.  Had it been assembled it would have been impossible to paint.  The shrine, too, has been left unattached from the main part of the engine.

I followed the box art for the Mortis Engine, mostly because I felt that is what my client wanted.  I started out with the following paints:
1) Base Color - Chardon Granite.
2) Heavy Dry Brush - (1:1) Chardon Granite + Cel-Vinyl Tan 16 (aka.Bleached Bone).
3) Light Dry Brush - (1:2) Chardon Granite + Tan 16.
4) Very Light Dry Brush - (1:4) Chardon Granite + Tan 16.

Here is basically what my colors looked like.
This application of colors goes on everything that is supposed to be bone or stone - including the shrine/altar.  Additionally, to the stone steps/base and altar I washed it in black so that it would darken and appear slightly different than the bone carriage.

Here comes the fun part, green flames!  This color combination is also used for the candles.  The box calls for Scorpion green...which is fine if you've got it, I don't.  Cel-Vinyl Yellow Green works well. 

The following colors were used:
1) Base Color - Orkhide Shade
2) Highlight - (1:1) Orkhide Shade + Yellow Green (aka. Scorpion Green)
3) Second Highlight - Yellow Green.
4) Third Highlight - (1:1 or 1:2) Yellow Green + Tan 16.

Now, here's the odd thing about the flame; the darker portion is at the top and the lighter portion is at the bottom.  Here's how I did it...
  • First, paint on the Orkhide Shade. 
  • Then, brush on the second step including the tips, also PAINT on this second step color mix about half way down the flame.
  • Next, brush on the third color from half way down the flame and PAINT it on 1/4 of the way down.
  • Finally, brush on the fourth color mix just above the rib cage and PAINT it into the rib cage portion between the ribs.
These colors were also used to add a green glow to the inside of the shrine cage as if the candles are glowing green.

The tome at the front of the Mortis Engine is painted Stained Ivory, highlighted with Creamy Ivory and washed in Gryphonne Sepia.

The text is created,  upside down, with a 10/0 liner and Black Ink (not wash).  I've said it before, I talk the words through while I write.  No, it doesn't actually 'say' anything, but I found that technique helps me pattern my words.  Without it, I discovered my first attempts at text looked like scribbly nothingness.  I'm not saying it looks much better now, to you perhaps, but to me I see the difference.

Coven Throne
Again, I mostly followed the box description.  However, there was a special request with this that you will see later.
Like the Mortis Engine, the Coven Throne was left unattached and all parts painted separately.  Trust me, it makes it soooo much easier.

First, Base Coat all the bone with Cel-Vinyl Tan 16 (aka. Bleached Bone).

Second, placement wash the model with Ogryn Flesh Wash.  When I say placement wash, I mean selectively place the wash instead of going all willi-nillie with the wash.

Next, using Tan 16, do a heavy dry brush over the whole piece, try not to drive the bristles of the brush into the crevices, just hit the high points.
Then, using (1:1) Tan 16 + White do a light dry brush making sure that you are going from top to bottom of the piece so you are more likely to hit the top of the bones.
Finally, using only white do an extremely light dry brush with the same method mentioned above.

As for the pillows, on the box they are mostly darker shades.  Well...I wanted some garish pop to the piece so I chose something brighter with the orange.  I think I was compelled to offset the guts spilling out of the one pillow.  The center pillow is the focal point so I wanted it darker than the rest, plus it makes the skull stand out quite nicely.

Here we have a close-up of the green flames.  These are done in the same manner as the ones for the Mortis Engine.  It may appear different, but that is just because of the change in the surrounding bone color.  Isn't it neat how that happens?

Just more proof about how easier it is to paint this while it is apart.

On the box art the roses on the steps are painted purple.  I prefer red roses frankly.  I imagined them like drops of blood, they are vampires after all.


So this is where things divert, if you hadn't noticed already...
My client wanted the coven maidens to resemble the brides in the movie Van Helsing.  If you recall the movie the coven looked like this...

"I like the way their dresses are different," that's what my client said.  I agree totally.  I like the greenish cast to the one, the gold of the other and the pink on the last.  I also enjoy how they each have different hair color, black, blonde, red.  It makes them different.  Now, I had a difficult task at hand to make those dresses from the movie transfer into the ones on the figure.  The dresses are obviously not structured the same, so I couldn't really do exactly what was done on the movie dresses.  Below are examples of my adaptation...



I think next time I paint a coven throne, I would like to do their bridal affair in shades of white like Bram Stoker's Dracula.

I saved my criticism for last so as not to taint the enthusiasm of the model itself.  Like a lot of GW models they look beautiful when fully assembled and painted; however, this particular model was a tragedy.

My main complaint is in the assembly.  Bob usually assembles things for me and I paint them.  This time I decided to paint and assemble myself; to which I regret.  The directions make it appear as if you could assemble this model fully and then paint.  What a load of bullshit.  There would be so many unpainted sections and it would be so cumbersome while painting.  Unfortunately a problem arose while I was painting and assembling as I went - the glue wouldn't hold.  Because of the layers of primer and paint the Testor's Model Glue wouldn't hold, pieces kept popping off.  I had to switch to Model Master Liquid Cement, that seemed to do the trick and melted the parts together appropriately.  Super, problem solved...not so quick...some of the directions didn't make sense, they didn't line up properly or interfered with other pieces.  Crap.  So, you move the interfering piece just a titch, now something else doesn't line up.  Double crap.  In the end this was an exercise in futility and a stretch of my patience, of which I have an enormous amount having to deal with teenagers normally.

I think what bothers me is that the claim on the box is that this model is for 12 and up.  I work with 12 year olds, there is no way that they could assemble this without help.  There are adults that would find difficulty with it.  It shouldn't take a person months to complete a model, even one as complex as this; no wonder someone would give up.  And, if the person were so unfortunate as to think that they could assemble then paint - wow - it would be so frustrating.  I realize that there were apparently "further directions" and "help" in White Dwarf, but really can't you give us the "help" for free?  Do I really need to buy a magazine to assist me with this model?  I shouldn't HAVE to do that.  Why should it be so darn difficult - talk about discouraging people from the hobby. 

A model shouldn't make you think of the French Revolution.

With Love, Allison