Sunday, June 23, 2013

More Canadian Pics

After my last post, a couple of folks wanted more close-in photos of my conversions, so here they are:

This is what the dressings look like under the mesh. The battlefront helmets have reverse-mesh on them, where rather than bumping up, the mesh lines cut in. I imitated this with mine to keep the look somewhat consistent. I added a very small amount of epoxy putty to the helmets, smoothed them on with a sculpting tool, and then grooved them with a craft blade. The hardest thing at this point is making sure not to change the shape of the dressing too much with the craft blade while trying to make lines!

Here you can see one figure with his dressings above the netting, in the middle. Those were far easier to customize, needing only some detailing to delineate the folds and wraps of the dressings.

Finally in this picture you get another angle on the dressings, above and below webbing, as well as one soldier with no gaiters. For these, I intentionally made them seem a bit bell-bottomed, so I could go back after they hardened to cut them down to normal size, and get them the folds and creases they'd naturally have.

The prone figures were far easier to give just-trousers to than the standing ones, since I didn't have to worry about the putty doughnut-pulling off the leg.

Monday or Tuesday, energy-levels and heat permitting, I'll put up my post about the blister I pulled these guys from. They're being frantically painted by me now, and I'm hoping to have them done and ready for the start of Overlord! I do have a tank company I can use instead if need be, but it'd be nice to have an infantry one as well, especially since I suspect the first week or so will be all beach landings.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

100 Tiny Conversions

I have now found how to drive oneself batty. I recently finally got in my Canadian Infantry models; two platoons of BR812 and the late-war Command HQ blister. Had I known the contents of the BR812 blister, I would not have needed the Command one! Rather than the expected 37 figures, with two blisters totalling 74, I got a bonus 26 figures and a couple extra bases! As near as I can tell, the blisters each contain enough to do a command section for the Guards Rifles as well.

The up-shot of this is it means I now have enough leftover figures to do the baby pioneer platoon!

The Guards Rifle Platoon in BR812 is almost perfect for Canadians. They have the Mk. II helmets that were more prevalently what the Canadians wore in Normandy, have the same stowage and armament, and have a similar tilt on the helmets many Canadians (and perhaps all British soldiers) seemed to wear them with. In 15mm there's no way to depict the toques often worn by Canucks, but I should be able to imitate the jerkins they favoured, not with conversion but with painting.

That said, there are two (or three) big differences between Canadians and the blister.

These following photos (taken from may show some of the more eagle-eyed among you the difference!

The primary difference is of course the lack of hessian strip on the helmets. Anecdotally, I've heard the Canadian Army officially told soldiers not to add them. I'm not certain why, and it was certainly ignored by some units (I have a photo of a mortar crew, as well as assorted other photos with strips of camo). Instead, the Canadians loved putting field dressings and the like under them. The second, more subtle difference is best shown by the gentleman in the centre of the second photo: A decent percentage of Canadians did not wear the gaiters, or at least did not tuck pants into them. This was by no means officially allowed, so it'd be rarer, but I, being a man who can not let an 'easy' conversion like this go, must convert it! The final key difference that I didn't bother with are the shovels. Canadians at least - if not the other countries - found the trenching tool relatively useless for its task, and replaced them with full-sized shovels or picks. Luckily for me, Battlefront's tendency for over-sizing the tools actually makes them look proper scale on the models!

But there is still that problem of the camo strips, field dressings, and un-tucked trousers...

Here's what I was facing to do this conversion:

I decided to divide them by pose, to ensure I didn't end up with a bunch of any one pose having all the same type of conversion, netting, or whatnot. I also decided fairly early on (in the first batch of 10 of these) to leave some un-converted save the strip removal. It seems to me that while commonplace, since none of the practices were universal, I would do a mix of some with dressings and gaiters, some untucked with dressings, and some with neither. (Entirely for variety, and not at all for laziness and the realization that 100 helmets 3mm across is a wee too many to do this on!)

I won't show all the groups, but here's an example of the end result from above. You can see one of the bren gunners has no gaiters, and you can see the stowage on various of the other prone figures.

Also among the dressings, sometimes they were under the webbing, sometimes tied to it, so I likewise varied to have some dressings appear attached to, and in others attempted to make the dressing appear to be bulged out.

Here's nine of the same pose. Another advantage of doing this work is it helped to vary up what would otherwise be exact copies of a model. I still am hoping not to double up on any base, but within a platoon this should help differentiate the figures. Actual base positioning should do the rest (I always try to make each stand have a theme).

 Ten... There are ten bloody figures walking with gun at hip. Now there are ten variously converted figures doing the same. I am impressed with the sculpts though, my next post will be on the blister itself, because I was turned off getting the blister based on BF's photos, until I saw what the sculpts look like in person!

Well, a hundred figures hence, one platoon has been sorted out for basing, and undercoated. I am still deciding if I want to do all of both platoons in one shot, or do them by platoon. I'm getting a bit behind on my painting-to-converting ratio (and waaay behind on my painting-to-purchasing ratio) but I'm hoping to get a bunch done this next week, and my Dystopian Wars fleet just needs some final fiddly details painted before it's ready to see a table!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Kerrigan's Blades

So, somehow I failed to notice I hadn't actually written a Kerrigan post before. To rectify it, here's how I crafted the rest of her! She's about 50% painted so far, and once I'm done focusing on my Prussian fleet I'll finish her.

First, as always, I collected bitz that might be appropriate for the build. She's actually quite a long running idea in my head, and I've had pieces of her in some form or other for over a year now. I was always halted by trying to figure out how I'd do the back blades without them being an eternal nuisance, and on the head. The latter I solved by hacking the head off a Mordheim model that will likely never see the table, and when she does, it'd be in a setting where her having a creepy mask would be more appropriate than a bare head.

Second I did my image collection. When starting any project, I highly recommend scouring the internet for any photographs or illustrations you can find, to give you ideas, and in the case of historical models, to ensure what you want to do 'actually happened'. In this case, I managed to find a blog detailing the construction of the 1:1 model of Kerrigan made for Blizzcon a while back, which was fantastically useful, as it gave me detail I would never imagine being able to put on 28mm, but could now pick and choose. I'd link it here, but I don't recall specifically which blog, and it's pretty easy to google and find.

Next came most of the body: It was essentially an older-version Dark Eldar warrior, shaved down in all kinds of way (most extensively around the shoulders) to look more natural. The feet are putty, because Kerrigan has distinct 'high-heeled bare feet' that I wanted to emulate. The hips were heavily modified to match the leg crests she has, which also included her sculpted abdominal armour. The torso you can see in the picture above was heavily modified to make them narrower, which makes her shoulders look less man-ish, and gives her as much of the 'graceful curves' (and sharp edges) that make her model design so fascinating.

The arms are heavily modified Eldar biker arms, repositioned at the wrists, cut in at the shoulders, removed of all detail and most of the armour plating, and with extensive (and incredibly careful) finger thinning and separating. Her hands are still overlarge, but I am okay with this both because any more and they'd be too delicate for a play model, and her model design does often have large-ish talon hands.

In the picture above you can see what I eventually decided on for doing her back blades. I figured a couple strands of thin-gauge modelling wire, with liquid greenstuff (LGS) covering it should give me the look I desire, but with an ability to bend that would let me pose them, and resist full-on breaking.
Here you can see where they connected to her hips, just like in the full-size model. I also started to use her base as a dumping ground for putty left over from other projects (like the Panther build) to make up something that would look like "Creep". The wires were next twisted and bent to form the various joints and bony protrusions, and I intentionally made the wires too long so that I would end up with some I could clip to length after I figured their final shape.
Finally, with the LGS applied (and still drying) on this one you can also see the bony crests on her legs, a bit on her arms, and the start of her epic hair. The liquid greenstuff was built up over layers, first to thicken out the primary joints, and then by segment I forced a bead of LGS to dry and harden at each segment, to give the appearance of knuckles. After this each segment was thickened up gradually with more LGS until I got what felt like an appropriate thickness. The nice thing about LGS for this kind of work is that it dries roughly cylindrical on the wire, with perhaps a little bit of a need of sanding, and is pliable enough even when dry that you can fine-tweak the blade shape. It's also fantastic for projects like this where standard greenstuff would be too thick, or require far too much time to finish off properly.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Kerrigan's Hair

So the Panthers are done, and being painted. I am working on a bunch of Canadian stuff, as well as my Dystopian Wars fleet. In the meantime, I have finally finished my Kerrigan model's conversion!

That said, here's the pictures!

As you can see, at first I put on a lump of putty, which was grooved and sectioned. After that I rolled an incredibly thin piece of putty, which I tapered at one end and delicately sliced at lengths. I then carefully stuck them to the first wedge, starting at the bottom and overlaying them as I went.
Moving from bottom to top in this way allowed them to naturally overlap, and I did about 1mm worth per run of putty, letting that dry to ensure I didn't mess it up.

And here is her hair finished! I found out that before they start going really short and spiky, the hair bits are incredibly long, so the last couple were almost twice the length of the first I applied, and carefully teased out to give a wide look.
Her hands are very large, as are her forearms. This is an artifact of the arms' origin as the old Dark Eldar's arms. Her hands, at least, are big for good reason, with her talons meant to be an extra join long. I've thinned them as much as I dare, and will try to use paint to hide the issues.

You can see the teased look, as well as a pair of blades/fronds/dreads that hang over her shoulders. I don't think I'll make the final model eyes-closed, even though the head I used has them that way. Her glowing eyes are just too important to what helps make her creepy.

And finally here's the hair finished, from the back. I have teased a few fronds in various directions to make it seem as though they have a bit of life in them.You can also see the back of her hair neatly hides the join of the back blades, which on the 1:1 version had a weird tubular slot, and wouldn't transfer well to model-size.

She has since been sprayed black, and the painting for her will take some time because I will be trying to copy her look in-game as much as possible. I'm excited to finally have another 'nerd model' to add to the collection!

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Panther Masterclass 4: Stowage and Detailing

For my final post in this series (the painting post won't be a masterclass; there are many fine blogs and forum posts regarding that) I tackle adding stowage and odd little elements of detail to the Panther. It would be highly unusual for a tank to not have stowage, and I'll go over each tank in my force, and comment on certain features that are unique.Almost all my bits of stowage are based off photographs, and I'll try to suggest how common each part would have been on tanks, based on either photographs or documents.

I wish I had a better excuse for the delay on this post, but it was a case of 'something always came up'... On to the models!

First something universal on my Panthers. Here you can see the all-weather plug for the MG slot, which was attached to a cord by the radioman's head, pulling which would open the MG mount and allow him to attach and then fire the MG. On all my tanks I attempted to make the modeling wire look like string in how it lay, and the plugs are somewhat the right size.

Similarly, all my tanks have tow hooks attached using the same modeling wire, carefully bent into hook shapes before being clipped and glued. While fiddly, the end result was well worth the time.

These next few photos would have been photomerged, if CS4 wasn't somehow worse than CS3 for attempting photomerges. My hope was to just have all the rear ends in one go so I could talk as I went down the line. Ah well. Here on the leftmost you can see unbogging logs strapped to the back, and a bucket attached to a rear tow-hook. Fun fact about tanks: I have yet to see a Panther that isn't a wreck without a bucket. Every tank had one in some form or other. The second tank over has a tow cable wrapped around the flame hood, which was made by bending the ends of a length of wire over on itself, then looping the entire thing.
Here you can see a second tank with unbogging timber, and an interesting element on the tank next to it; I have a photo of a (wrecked) tank with a ladder welded on over its exhaust! At first I wondered why the heck they'd want to have to climb over exhaust pipes to get on, until I figured it was probably to deter enemies climbing up during battle, and still let them get up and off when the tank itself wasn't running! Also, note the plethora of buckets along the back end. Since these photos the ladders got a coating of liquid greenstuff, partly to dull the edges of the wire, and partly because I was having some trouble getting the glue to fully adhere. Hopefully that'll work!

Now for the above shots. Here you can see two incredibly common elements of stowage: extra tracks on the sides of the turret, and the sides of the engine deck. This was because the crews believed they would help deflect shots or help with protection. It's up for debate whether it actually did help, but it was common. The other element that was incredibly common is what I call the mickey mouse ears, or awesome subwoofers; the extra wheels on the turret. These were part protection (again) and part 'somewhere to put them'.

Also of note is the last element of my vent project that wasn't finished in time for the last shot; the slat covers on the right hand vents. It took some doing to make this work, as you can see on this one I have the wrong number and width of the pieces.

This was a 'fun' mod to make. At some point the crews were officially allowed to, and started to make anti-aircraft covers for the tanks' vents. These were again fashioned out of pieces of schurtzen, and on the rear deck were meant to help stop lower-calibre bullets, and shrapnel, from entering the engine through the relatively unprotected rear vents. At the same time, they often added a similar spaced armour piece to the top of the turret, making sure to leave a hole around the anti-infantry projector slot, and turret hooks.

Rather than cut incredibly thin pieces of brass to bend into shape, I just took my widest plasticard (1mm or so) and beveled its edges so that when glued in place, it would look to be only as thin as the upper edge, sloping away underneath. The rearmost vent covers are stacked two tall because of their shape.

Here is my 'company cook' tank! He has a pair of cooking pots (one frying pan, one deeper pot) as well as a non-specific burlap sack filled with who knows what kinds of goodies. There's a tarp covering the bag, as well as an oil drum, a pair of jerry cans, and one of my cast extra roadwheels. (The tarp was necessary to cover a massive air bubble in the wheel!) While I've not necessarily seen pots and pans on the sides of turrets, I wanted to add something characterful, and I sadly have a very limited number of german helmeted heads!

One of my platoon commanders sports a piece of stowage I knew I had to add when I saw it in a photograph; There is an image of a Panther tank with a wash basin attached to the turret! How could I not include such a hilariously random bit of kit?
One of my other platoon commanders here with duffel, spare wheels, and a jerry can beside the rear turret hatch. Also with this panther are the rear-deck extra stowage bins. I have seen only one or two photos with these on the vehicle, in part because they were crew-crafted bins made from pieces of schurtzen or other scrap metal. As with the anti-aircraft plates, anything I've only seen rarely, I added just once to the company. Enough to try it, not enough to seem historically inaccurate.

My CO, and hopefully my tank ace, has quite a few bits of fun stowage. First he has a helmet on the back of the turret, so he can replace his fine officer's cap in a hairy situation. You'll also notice none of my Panthers have the AA MG, in part because Flames of War doesn't have it, and in part because it's historically a rare element. Despite that, he is equipped with a personal-use MG34 which I am claiming he has held on to in case he needs to defend his tank, or exit it under dodgy situations. It was common for crews bailing from their tanks to remove the in-tank MG34s to help ensure they got back to their muster points!

More fun stowage on this one is a box containing extra tank shells (over-bright in the shot, alas, but painted it'll be more distinctive) and another relatively rare field-modification of moving the barrel cleaning rod tube to the back deck. The last fun element of borrowed/pilfered stowage: A German Panzerschreck! I had to replace the empty space of the cleaning rod somehow, and had a bunch of these left over from my Kfz. 251s.

Here's the modified back end of the early-G with metal armour plates. Also visible are buckets, tarps, bread bags, a canteen, and a spare wheel. I tried to vary up where and how the wheels were applied so they weren't always ears/stereos, since it was often just one wheel on the tank.

This tank was modified the other way, with the lower, lateral-mounted jack, and two jerry cans in its place. At first it may seem like I missed removing the mould line on the jerry can, but considering the way it was fabricated, this is how I can best represent the curious manufacturing folds.

 Finally, this tank displays another of the ammo stowage bins, and is a good example of what the slide-covers on the right side vents ought to look like. All of mine are open, as I must assume they would have been for battle, and here you can see the proper five slats, offset slightly.

Well, that's the Panther series done, until I get around to finishing my night-vision 2iC to replace the special-character Panther I'm currently using. (I think it's Barkmann?)

I did get a chance to use the crazy heat and humidity we've been having here to bury myself in the basement airbrushing, so the Panthers have since been airbrushed! One platoon is painted with the red oxide colour as base, and the other platoon with the three-colour brown/green/dunkelgelb. At the moment, I don't think I'm quite pleased with the green in some of them (being frustratingly translucent, it came off too dark on the red, unsurprisingly) and the brown misbehaved a bit out of the brush, so I'll be touching them up. Rest assured though, there'll be another post up sooner than this one, as I have another project that just finished the conversion and is happily moving on to painting!