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post #1 of 302 (permalink) Old 08-16-13, 04:52 PM Thread Starter
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Default Legion Rising - Projects from The Dark Works



An Introduction ~ Part 1

It came from the frozen northern Chaos wastes… Canada, that is. Welcome to this first in a long line of Text-&-Picture-Walls. (I tend to ramble sometimes, in a good way, with lots of nice photos.) Welcome to my muse, my passion, my obsession… my insanity. The Dark Gods whisper to me from the Warp, and I am compelled to obey. They let me see so many things I want to make real, but I only have one mind, two hands, and so many hours. Oh well, no rest for the wicked, no sleep for the weary… the whispers, the voices in my head, they won’t let me…

I’ve been gaming and playing Warhammer 40,000 on-and-off for over 20 years; the bulk of it, I attempted to collect and paint a Chaos army – Black Legion, more specifically. I always collected a modest force, but it was never as complete or elaborate as I wanted. And so, as it happens to many of us, life distracts us from our addictive little plastic soldiers, and they get tucked away. But for most, that really enjoy the hobby, we always come back. In early 2011 I dusted off my bits boxes, cases of miniatures, supplies, and took stock. I had some solid units that could use some polish to get started with, and a few simple scratch-build projects that never got done. As good a start as any.



I chose to do a cold-centric theme throughout the army; Most accent colours are in neutral or cool colours, and I extended the concept to the blue-grey highlights I use for the Black.



Not all bad guys wear black, but the Legion make a point of it; here's a small block of the army with highlights done, ready for some weathering.

This
time I wanted it to be different; I wanted to really create the unique, personal, and elaborate army that I could see in my mind when I was fifteen, and flipping the Realms of Chaos books. Only in recent kits has GW started to release what I would consider ‘proper’ Chaos Vechile kits; Love or hate the new Daemon Engines, they definitely have a good Chaos style/feel to them. Before this round of kits, Chaos got an extra sprew or two thrown into the box, and that was a major defining look for the faction. Just adding spikes does not a Chaos army make! I do some modest kit-bashing and converting on Troops and HQ to keep the army feeling unique; I like the rank-and-file models to each have a bit of flavor, but nothing too elaborate, yet. Now the vehicles, they offer such a wonderful large canvas to work with. One that has been neglected for far too long.

The idea was simple enough, just take the feel and look of Chaos used on the 'proper' Chaos Troops miniatures and illustrated in the books, and run with it. Read: Lots of banding/trimming, rivets, arrows, points, and layering... lots of layering. I had a general idea of where I wanted the look of the army to go, but now I needed more of a theme. I found direction in the movie Apocalypse Now from the The 1st of the 9th Air Cavalry. In the movie, they are a… ‘self-motivated’ unit that bombs around Vietnam in helicopters looking for good places to surf between (and during) the fighting. During aggressive unexpected assaults, they terrorizing the enemy by playing Wagner (Ride of the Valkyries) over loud speakers attached to the helicopters. Switch helicopters for some VTL vehicles and loud speakers for Dirge Casters and the start of my theme was forming; The 1st of the 9th Black Crusade – Heavy Armoured Cavalry. ('Heavy' so I had added excuse to really armour the vehicles) At the time, fliers were still off in the distance; I knew I wanted some for show at least, for the theme, but formal rules didn’t even exist. So, I choose to focus on a mechanized army to build a core, and then consider some kind of flying transport in the future. In Warhammer 40,000 it’s the feet on the ground that gets things done, after all.



So, I went about making my army look Chaos, without adding any spikes. I should also mention I really like working with Rare Earth (Neodymium) Magnets. Sooo useful!


This Rhino and Predator were the first serious Chaos creations I put together with an eye for the look I was going for. When they were done, I knew I was on to something.

One of my favorite materials is styrene plastic. If you’re trying to build something mechanical and angular, just put your mind to it and you can build it in plastic. Take it far enough and you can build actual working mechanics in nothing but styrene, if you wanted to. As a general tip about learning how to build in styrene, I suggest looking up general scratch building techniques. There are many tabletop gamers who are doing amazing things, but there is much more experience out there if you broaden your search. Military modellers have been scratch building models of exceptional detail for many decades; I just ignore the subject and absorb the technique.



My preferred painting method: Paint the harder stuff messy and quick to get it done looking the way I want. Then go in to carefully clean up the mess. Rinse-and-repeat until finished.




I put a lot of effort into the scratch-build, but these are playing miniatures, I choose to keep the paint job more straight forward and attainable. I let the building do the real talking.

Base colours + Lots of washing and glazing + Simple (but clean) 4-step layered highlighting + A bit of strategically placed blending + Some straightforward sponged chipping + A dusting with weathering powder = Now that's Black Legion without loosing my mind painting it.

By late 2011 I had some good progress on the core I was bringing together, and I figured I’d start showing off some of my work. I started a modest thread showing a few of my builds, and blathering about what I do and how I do it. Little did I know I was already too far down the Dark Path to ever find my way back… wanting to reproduce things, I started to work with RTV rubber making moulds for resin casting. Two things quickly happened: 1) I learned that I am quite good at making complex resin casting moulds. 2) I'm totally hooked to the process and really enjoy doing it! Now, as soon as I could actually replicate my work, that opened another door altogether...

Most of what you see here was just the start, stay tuned for Part 2: I'll show where this has all has lead, and talk about where it's going. For now, thanks for looking, thanks for reading, much more to come...
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post #2 of 302 (permalink) Old 08-16-13, 05:01 PM Thread Starter
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An Introduction ~ Part 2

Ok then, where was I? Oh yes, the mysterious dark art of resin casting and how it has forever corrupted my soul... in a good way!

Now, I like scratch building, a lot. It's great to take an idea, design a flat template, and then turn that template into a three dimensional object. Problem is, scratch building is very labour intensive when you're as particular as I am. Larger things like vehicles may justify a one-off build that will take quite a bit of labour; they're large and not as prolific as troops, so why not? But, when you start getting down to doing smaller objects across an entire army, the idea of building say, six reasonably identical Havoc Launchers, becomes daunting. So I figured it may be a good idea to learn how to make some resin casting moulds...




I've always hated the Havoc Launchers provided on the Chaos vehicle accessories sprew. This is what I think a Havoc Launcher should look like.

I originally created my first replacement Havoc Launcher as a single solid object. It was one of my first moulds, so I was still experimenting. That early prototype worked, but it came with some limitations and drawbacks. If you resin cast, you quickly learn that your biggest enemy is bubbles. So, solid objects with no 'hidden sides' give you no place to hide bubbles. You can never get rid of all of the bubbles all of the time, but you can get rid of most of them. Also, if you cast an item correctly you can actually hide the rest. That is my constant goal - avoid or destroy all (most) bubbles. This kit is a perfect example; I've designed the moulds to intentionally cast the parts with the detail side down (As I try to do with all my moulds, when possible), so if any bubbles do form, they rise to the back/bottom of the part during curing, and will be hidden by the assemble of the kit. It's not genius or witchcraft, but I think it's clever. It doesn't work every time, but anything that saves a few casts from the reject bin is a good design philosophy.

With some logic, careful consideration, trial-and-error, and just a bit of luck here-and-there I worked out most of the kinks for making more complex resin casting moulds. It's one of those things that anyone can do, but it takes a certain knack to do it well. I've still got lots to learn, and I want to invest in more studio equipment so that I can start doing other casting processes. Currently I only use Pressure Casting (50+ PSI) for bubble eradication, but I also want to start doing Vacuum Casting for when pressure isn't the best solution, and that will require a proper Vacuum Chamber. Hopefully, all in due time.

I learned a lot making this little kit, but I wasn't sure if it was going to translate into larger items. Time to move up to making something... bigger...




I had this Land Raider kit calling to me, compelling me to make it Chaos, so who was I to argue? In these photos you can also see the Havoc Launcher prototype just before casting.


Did I mention it was a larger project? This is a picture of a mould, as large as the Land Raider itself, for just one (rather large) part in the final kit.

One thing I quickly learned making RTV (Room Temperature Vulcanizing) rubber moulds: Bulk matters. It takes some extra rubber, but in for a penny, in for a pound, I say. Making the walls of the mould thick ensures that the part casts without warping. Adding lots of the pictured locking-pins to hold the mould together is also key; A well made 2-part split mould like this locks together perfectly every time, minimizing mould lines and all but removing any mould slipping. Again, this mould cures the part face-down, so bubbles rise to the hidden back side. I put the same thought and process into all my moulds.


Designation: Loricatus Pattern Mk.I Heavy Land Raider


I think the investment in time and materials is worth it when you can make something like this, and completely transform the original Land Raider into a rolling icon of Chaos. (Look ma'! No spikes!) Ok, so clearly my ideas on making larger moulds were translating well to the larger objects. *In his best Montgomery Burns voice* Excellent! But there was still another challenge that I was trying to deal with at the same time. Enter the Proditor Pattern Mk.II Rhino Trim kit for demonstration.


This build was actually the first time I used one of my own resin kits to trim a Rhino. Up to this point they had all been scratch builds made of styrene and glued to the model as I built.

With the Land Raider I was worried about how large the parts are/were, with my Chaos Rhino Trim kits it was how small/thin they are/were. On the surface it seems straight forward to cast these trim pieces; they are nice flat-backed parts, after all. But, when you consider that they are only 0.8mm tall not including the rivets (I use two layers of 0.4mm sheet styrene for my trim/banding details) it makes the parts very long, thin, and delicate. How to get the resin into the moulds became a real issue because of this. After some research and a few practice moulds I adopted and refined a method of using a syringe to forcibly inject resin into the moulds. Without the added pressure to force the resin into the mould, I don't think I would be able to make these in my modest studio.


Proditor Pattern Light Armour Trim Kits - Left: Mk.II (Pictured here) Right: Mk.I (Pictured in Part 1)

So, even though these trim kits don't use that much resin to produce, they make up for it in the technical challenges inherent in their design. With what I learned here, combined with what I had learned from my other early projects, I covered most of the major technical issues I might run into for any of my current design plans. I was starting to feel confident enough to do something even more elaborate.



Started before I learned resin casting, I glued the scratch-built styrene directly onto the model as a scaffold to construct on, so I was never able to take it off to make moulds of it.

Unfortunately, all of my building has stopped my painting in its tracks. This Loricatus Pattern Mk.II Predator hasn't come any further than what's pictured here. I've finally started to get my studio back in some level of order and my painting area is active again. This beast should see some progress soon, along with several other monsters hiding in the shadows.

Even though I couldn't make a cast of these parts I really liked the design; with some further inspiration and some conversations with fellow gamers and tank-heads, I had a few other changes I wanted to make.

Naturally, now everything I build has casting in mind from that start, unless it uses parts that are protected in some way. As long as I make every part myself, (and don't build directly on or with any GW pieces) I'm free to replicate anything I build. Since I couldn't actually use this build for a kit, I was forced to make another from scratch.

More on that in Part 3...

"The old galaxy is dying, and the new galaxy struggles to be born; now is the time of monsters."



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post #3 of 302 (permalink) Old 08-16-13, 05:07 PM Thread Starter
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An Introduction ~ Part 3

So this time, I built the Predator kit with resin casting in mind...


This time I built everything 'loose' - able to come free from the model. Not being able to glue to parts down to the model for support came with its own challenges, to say the least.

I took the opportunity to tweak the design and incorporate elements I used in the Land Raider, designing them to look cohesive-but-unique when together. I also completely changed the shape of the turret by extending the slope of the original turret down. In my opinion, this turret looks like it is designed to deflect incoming fire much better than the original turret shape. Beyond those two major changes the overall design stayed very true to the MK.II Pattern.


Originally I had use the part in the GW Predator kit to make the sponson weapon link, but if I wanted to make a complete kit I needed to design my own solution.

I'm very pleased with how it turned out. It's a post with a 'cap' that has a proper seat for the optics bit. It's designed to work with two square 1/8"x1/8"x1/16" magnets, letting you easily swap between Las'Cannon or Heavy Bolter. Square magnets also let the optics turn with the weapon. It's a little thing, but hey. Normally I work in metric, with metric tools, but Neodymium (Rare Earth) Magnets are the one exception. The selection of sizes in Imperial is just so vast; I can't find the same in metric.



Designation: Loricatus Pattern Mk.III Heavy Predator - The culmination of everything I've learned so far about casting, manifest in resin for the first time. I do believe I've got the hang of this!

So this brings me to the end of the Dark Path that lead me to this point. My selection is modest so far, but everything seen cast in resin through the course of this thread is/will be in production, and available from my shop The Dark Works, if anyone is interested. I'll also add to this thread with some tutorials on what I learned and some of my techniques over the coming weeks and months. I've been itching to paint lately, so expect a painting article or two sooner-or-later, but for now it's all about the current builds and expanding the line of kits I have to offer. Speaking of which... (What, you though it was over? Never! Submit to the will of the Dark Gods... *Subtle starts speaking in strange tongues* ... *Cough* Err... where was I?)



In case you thought I only did scratch-build, here's a Chaos Decimator that's on my workbench. Naturally I took the time to magnetize the arms for easy weapon swapping.

For the most part, the Decimator will be stock. It's just such a hardcore miniature, it really doesn't need much modification if you don't want to invest the effort. I do plan on altering the weapons a bit; Improving the Storm Lasers, Conversion Beamer, and Butcher Cannons to make them more Chaos. The stock butcher Cannon especially, to me, is very... meh. Reaper Auto-Cannon barrels attached to an 'ok' ammo-drum-like-thing. I think I can do better. It needs more... Butcher!



What's that you say? A proper Chaos Storm Eagle? I think I may be able to work something out. (Must have VTL vehicles for my Air Cavalry!)

This is a very early proof of concept build, not even a prototype yet. (It's been in the back of my brain for quite some time.) Since building this, I've had time to contemplate, and I want to go back to the CAD design one more time and refine this base structure. It is very close to what is planned, but I have several adjustments to make. This is going to be a large ambitious build that will take some time to come together, but it's something I really want to make happen, so it's on my short list. Unlike the Forge World Storm Eagle, my kit will make much more use of the base GW Storm Raven kit. It's such a good model it's a shame not to use as much of it as possible. It should have a slightly longer and leaner line than the FW kit, while still feeling like plausible counterpart. Compare this to the early build picture of the Predator, and you can have an idea where this is going. Being a flying vehicle, I plan on doing the Chaos Trim detailing with a lighter plastic; .33mm or.25mm verse the normal 0.4mm. It should give it a more sleek lighter look. Well... as sleek as you can make these 'flying bricks' look, that is. And I think the missile racks are going to mount wrap-around on the corner of the engine housing, with a stabilizer coming out from the center. It's a little hard to describe, but the Havoc Launcher should also give an idea of the feel they will have. My take of a Reaper Auto-Cannon for the nose, and Las'Cannons for the wings will also be part of the build. I want to make this as complete as the Predator kit. Also, a key feature of this kit, it will be really really easy to build. Everything interlocks and links together; the only thing holding the entire build pictured here together is that single rubber band. Everything is dry fit and held together because it's locked that way.


I mulled some ideas over on the left, inspired by the original track pattern. I've chosen to go with something more unique.

I've considered doing treads before, but the repetition always turned me off. (I have to make how many?!) So, this time I'm going to make a small selection of links and make moulds to mass produce them. I'll still need to make lots of them, but casting them a few at a time is more appealing than fabricating each one. from there I'll construct the needed lengths from a collection of links.

The other issue was size; they're so small (especially the Rhino links) that there really isn't that much room to be that creative. There's only so much you can do with a tiny link, even on a Land Raider. In the end, they are a very utilitarian part of the tank so I chose to keep them simple enough. A single layer with low-profile rivets.

Finally, also on my (not so) short list is a Chaos Vindicator kit in the Loricatus Pattern style, and a selection of Chaos vehicle components: Chaos Search Light, Dirge Caster, 'Dozer Blades & Destroyer Blades for Rhino and Land Raider chassis. I'm also looking at the Hell Drake kit and trying to figure out a way to make a 'Hell Drake Jet' kit. Everyone who doesn't like the Drake seems to want it to be a jet, maybe I can help them out. I've also got this really cool idea for counts-as Chaos Drop Pods... I think I want to call them Hell Thorns... *Subtle's speech starts to drift* ... or Hell Spikes... fired from orbit, they drive into the planet, planting themselves and opening a portal for troops... *Subtle starts wandering off, still muttering to himself* ... so much to do, so little time...


"The old galaxy is dying, and the new galaxy struggles to be born; now is the time of monsters."



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post #4 of 302 (permalink) Old 08-16-13, 05:52 PM
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Wow. That's all I can say. Amazing painting, and amazing sculpting. I love the creativity, and I cant even imagine the time you have put into this.

Look forwards to seeing this this one develop

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post #5 of 302 (permalink) Old 08-16-13, 06:27 PM
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Excellent work! I've bookmarked your site and hope to buy... well, something... soon, hopefully.

Keep up the great stuff!


"That, and sending Leman Russ to make a peaceful arrest? That's like sending a rabid Grizzly Bear to teach Kindergarten." - Cole Deschain
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post #6 of 302 (permalink) Old 08-16-13, 06:31 PM
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simply simply wow! you sir are one talented individual, and i am in awe of your skill.
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post #7 of 302 (permalink) Old 08-16-13, 07:10 PM
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This is by far the most interesting read I've had on Heresy for a while. This thread os truly inspirational. I want to make all of these things!!!

Can't wait to see more.
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post #8 of 302 (permalink) Old 08-16-13, 07:42 PM Thread Starter
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First off, thanks for the kind words and positive feedback. I tend to start many of my posts off with a 'thank you', and some times I feel like a bit of a broken record. But, I mean it every time I say it. When I first started showing my work I was caught off guard by the response from the community I received; while I do good work, I can get... distracted and/or discouraged sometimes, and the good feedback really helps give me a boost and keep me focused on actually finishing things.

This p'log is playing a bit of catch-up with content I've been showing in a few other corners of the internet, so you can expect a modest bombardment of content over the next while. For example...



Ammo Drums, Smoke Launchers, and Search Lights, oh my!

These still have a few more details to be finished (mostly rivets) but they'll be done soon. I'm trying to keep everything modular and magnet ready. Yep, options and flexibility are good.

I've got a few other bits-and-pieces to go along with these, and I'll show them all off more when I can talk in length about my plans for these new kits. I think I might have a building article to add in the mix as well, but that's a for another post.

But before then, I have a large ramble I'd like to do about tools. You see, I have a bit of a... thing for quality tools and useful found items being turned into tools. So, stay tuned, and get ready to do some reading, if you are interested.

If tools, technique, and equipment isn't really your thing, don't worry, I have plans for painting tutorials and showcasing much more of my own army. Much more to come...

"The old galaxy is dying, and the new galaxy struggles to be born; now is the time of monsters."



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post #9 of 302 (permalink) Old 08-16-13, 07:55 PM
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Oh My God.
My first thought when I saw your styrene work was "TEACH ME, MASTER!!!". The paintwork is also above all (and I see we use the same messy technique )
And then I saw you started casting these things. I cannot express how much I adore people like you, who have the skills to turn what their minds create into something physical, and offer it to the world.
I mean it's F'ing better and cheaper than Forge World's kit!
I have two Rhinos in the final stage of assembly, and in a few weeks time they would have been painted, but now I think I'm just gonna order two trim kits from your shop and try to fit them around what little decoration is already on them.

You sir are a master, and I am proud to know that the Chaos Forces feature such talented craftsmen.

Check out my army: Iron Warriors 44th company

Sanity is for the weak
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post #10 of 302 (permalink) Old 08-16-13, 09:27 PM
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Hey Subtle, thanks for jumping over! I'm so happy you did. As I said before; amazing stuff, in particular that smaller stuff, the smoke launcher and ammo drums, the small amount of plasticard stuff I've done has shown me how bloody hard it is to get things like that as clean as you have.

Looking forward to seeing how that Storm Raven works out as well. Quick question. With square magnets, how do you make the holes?
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