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Legion Rising - Projects from The Dark Works

77224 Views 341 Replies 50 Participants Last post by  Subtle Discord

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.

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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Subtle stumbles out of a small unexpected warp phenomenon with a bewildered expression on his face which he quickly shakes off, regaining some semblance of focus

Replies, news, and ongoing updates coming very soon... and this time I mean it! But first, quiz time!

∙ One of these components is created with a $4,000 3D printer and one is created with a $300 3D printer; which one is which?

I may have made it a bit too easy because I went out of my way to zoom in very tight and hit these with really strong light at very low angles to get the minor, almost invisible, surface variations to actually show on camera. Otherwise, without magnification, it becomes all-but-impossible to tell the difference when holding them in hand. The newer resin 3D printers that have started to arrive in the last few years are starting to reach a price-to-performance ratio that’s almost hard to believe. But, more on that in the near future.

I promise to be following up very soon. My brain is as cluttered as my desk right now (It seems I prescribe to the, disordered desk = active creative mind, concept) but I’m going to lose my mind if I don’t get out of this Covid induced rut. Big things are coming into focus, figuratively and literally, very soon.

Subtle ties a rope around his waist and tentatively steps back into the warp phenomenon
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So I have a Word document file that I use to write out and prepare posts, especially if they’re long, which is rather common. I’ve been looking through it as I write this and noticing all of the unfinished compositions that got lost in the fog that has been the last 18+ months and there’s trains of thought I want to salvage and other stuff that’s out-of-date and not worth mentioning anymore. This is to say, some posts may seem a bit disjointed as I mash a few things together while catching up.

I’ve been trying to find time and focus to get some paint on the models I recently primed. On a related side note, I wanted to bring up a product that I’ve been trying to find for several years. After purchasing several different ‘acrylic mediums’ and never finding the right blend of consistency and transparency, I finally found this stuff.

∙ It’s all about finding a product that has ingredients that don’t create too much translucency and has the correct viscosity.

I’ve never used GW’s Lahmian Medium but I suspect this is very close if it’s not identical. Almost transparent and about as thick as a medium-light syrup this stuff has become my new go-to thinner when I want to keep the paint’s consistency while thinning out the pigment. The bottle warns of weakening the paint film strength if you use too much but I haven’t had issues when I’ve used it to create quick glazes/washes of unique colours and with the all-but mandatory coat of varnish that table ready miniatures receive it shouldn’t be an issue. At about $5-6 CAD for a 118 ml (4 oz.) bottle, it’s about 25% the price of GW’s product for what I suspect is the same results and 118ml should last for years for a typical painter.

∙ Do these augmentations and cybernetic replacements make my butt look fat? As requested several months ago, an image of the Servitors from the back.

As I mentioned earlier, the large packs are mostly leftover bits from the Kataphron kit chopped up with a bit of styrene and a few gubbins from other leftover AdMech bits to complete them. Nothing too elaborate but I think they are a good quick solution and they have the kind of bulk that helps sell the hunched pose of the Servitors I attached them to, as intended.

∙ I haven’t had a chance to take any other pictures of this group but here’s the earlier photo without altered lighting mucking up the colour.

I focused on the kit-bash Daedalosus, Servitors, and the crew of the Artillery Truck to get the smaller stuff out of the way. At some point, I’ll take some pictures of the Servitors alone with less dramatic lighting so I can show them from the front and back in full colour. I need to get around to taking some good photos the two Dominus Tech Priests too, now that they’re painted, but I’m kinda’ waiting for them to be varnished for the nice unifying effect it has on the paint and decals; they’re still a bit too shiny in places to photograph well.

∙ Every once-and-awhile it feels like the four heads of the servitors have been tasked with overseeing the painting progress.

The artillery trucks are more complex and more interesting so I chose to get started on them first. Most of the shading is done and once the primary weathering is applied it’s just down to the highlighting and fiddley details, followed by the obligatory dirtying up finish them off.

∙ I’m always nervous about overdoing the chipping effect when I apply it. A vehicle needs some wear-and-tear but I don’t want it to seem heavy-handed or too uniform and predictable.

In my mind as I’m applying it I’m constantly thinking about how the paint damage might happen; this is a spot where ground stones would have been kicked up while driving, these are the openings where crew enter/exit and their gear knocks up the edges, winch loops need some scuffs and scratches around them so they look used, etc., etc., etc. On a certain level, it’s silently giving the model a bit of a backstory in my mind while I work and it helps give me some direction instead of just randomly applying it and hoping for the best.

∙ To anyone who guessed or is curious, the 3D printed components on the left were from the lower-cost 3D printer.

I recently added an Elegoo Mars 2 Pro resin printer to the equipment in my little maufactorium. While my Solus printer achieves amazing results it has a painfully small build area compared to the average sizes of the newest crop of 3D printers that have been arriving in the last 2 years or so. A respectable build size combined with enough resolution and I think the pictures show that the technology is getting very impressive results at a reasonable price point. It still comes with many other considerations (space, noise, smell, chemical storage and handling, learning curve) that keep it a long way from mass-market penetration but for a market demographic that partakes in a hobby that has a significant ‘some assembly required’ element, I suspect there’s a higher percentage of gaming hobbyists who might rather invest in a setup like this so they can create custom bits and models for their existing armies rather than invest in a new army.

∙ Not bad for a quick test print to try out the printer and a first try to check the tolerances of the components I created.

These are the lower resolution 50µm layer height and while there are a few stubborn spots it’s easy to see the results are more than passable. In many cases, the layering in stubborn spots can easily be dealt with using a bit of 400-600 grit sandpaper and it really is only an issue in select locations that are usually predictable. If there’s too much detail it can be impossible to remove but if it’s a large flat area it’s very easy to sand away. Naturally, dropping to a 20-30µm layer height makes the issue even less of a problem; in all but the most stubborn spots, the layers are so small that primer and paint fill them in the majority of the time.

But, before I get too far off into the weeds on that subject before I’ve got it sorted, I’ll leave it here so I can do some direct replies and keep juggling the other stuff in the studio that I’ll be talking about in the near future.
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+++ Comm-Link ∙ Active +++ Data Exchange ∙ Halt! +++ Priority Encryption Key ∙ Verified +++ Key Designation ∙ Centurio Ordinatus +++ Data Exchange ∙ Compiling... +++

In a Bugs Bunny voice
“Just look at that Domnius, it doesn’t become you at all! Here, let me fix it up. What a shame, such an iiiinteresting army too. My stars, if an iiiinteresting army can’t have an iiiinteresting commander, then I don’t know what things are coming to.”

A gift from Santa that’s been sitting on a shelf several months awaiting its turn, after a bit of careful rebranding, meet the new Archmagos Artisan [Name to be Determined] that will be directing the archaeological expeditions of the 3rd Artisan Legion 1st War Cohort. I’ll be using them as a counts-as Cawl if I ever have the desire to use Mars rules. Otherwise, it makes an excellent centerpiece for the infantry of the army. In turn, it seems the latest expedition has resulted in success…

+++ Image Capture ∙ Displaying +++ Template Construct Preview ∙ Displaying +++ Priority Exchange! ∙ Construct Requirements +++ Adjust Parameters ∙ Ongoing… +++

Printed at full scale on an 8.5”x11” sheet of paper, ok, I’m starting to think I was a bit ambitious when I chose to create ‘something big’ to test the new capabilities of the studio. However, this completely improvised (in the spirit of all Ordinatus constructs) passion project has reached this point, so it’s too late to stop now. In an effort to avoid wasting materials I’ve still got some testing and some learning curve to climb before I start 3D printing the parts for this Minoris Macro Engine but expect to see it translate from digital template to a real construct in the near future.
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Ok, so the Ordinatus had to be placed in stasis for a while so I could focus on something for the studio before I put too many hours towards a personal project. It will return. But, I also came to the conclusion that work completing the project in this post would give me the experience I need to get the best possible results when I start trying to print the more complex forms of the Ordinatus chassis. I’ve almost got the cannon itself complete (and I’ll show that in the near future when it’s done but it still needs the focusing array – just wait, I’m quite pleased!) but just getting that much done informed me that I needed to turn my attention to some studio projects first.

Many moons ago I was asked if I would consider doing complete vehicle models. I answered that I was eager to get to that level someday but at the time the effort required to finish a complete model like that with every detail created to my hobby-OCD standards seemed daunting and/or simply out of reach; but then I got good at 3D modeling. Fast-forward a bit, and despite getting my hands on a very good DLP 3D printer that opened the door to a new world of design and manufacturing, size limitations restricted how far (read: how large) I could take my ambitions; but then there was (finally!) a significant price-to-performance jump in 3D printing technology. So today I’m pleased to say that, yes, I think I’ll be making good on my talk many months ago that I need to start doing larger projects as a better foundation for the studio to build on.

I’ve also been asked on several occasions if I would consider distributing my designs as STL files for people to 3D print themselves. Beyond the honest hesitancy, I had to let my designs go off into the digital wild of the internet, I was genuinely skeptical of just how many people had access to high-resolution 3D printers that would make the market really worthwhile. Well, despite the effect of the warp storms that have distorted so much over the last few years it seems that 3D printing was at a tipping point that even current disruptions in day-to-day life could not stop. In the last few years in particular the previously mentioned significant price-to-performance jump in resin 3D printing tech that made my own ambitions larger, has also made it much more attractive and attainable to many more enthusiast-level hobbyists who are picking up a 3D printer. So yes, given recent developments I think STL files will be on the menu soon. Note, this will not be replacing plans to get the casting studio up and running at a proper sustained ongoing capacity but this will help that part of the studio get going.

∙ Lost in the Nurgle-induced warp storms that consumed our planet in 2020, the delay may have actually been a good thing.

∙ Now, not just 3D modeled as a demonstration, but updated and carefully redesigned for resin 3D printing and proper assembly.

∙ And this time, I’m quite serious… Now entering real-space, [+++ Pattern Designation To Be Determined +++] Medium APC.

This has been printed with an Elegoo Mars 2 Pro with a 20-micron layer height and believe it or not, it’s still only a proof-of-concept prototype that still needs some final adjustments to the design to improve the visual quality and fit during assembly. Once those adjustments are complete and the components are properly set up for printing, if I can do it, then anyone with a similar setup can do the same. Because this hobby has a major ‘some assembly required’ component it will attract a larger than average percentage of the community who is willing to add the extra steps required to have the creative control that a good 3D printer can provide. That said, people who are predicting that 3D printing is going to turn tabletop gaming completely upside-down and blindside GW in some dramatic way don’t know very much about injection mould mass production, economies of scale, and the seductive lure of convenience. Regardless of how deep the 3D market will penetrate the hobby the vast majority of consumers will always prefer to simply open a box/bag and remove the desired product. The idea of adding even a fraction of the added time and effort of 3D printing, regardless of payoff, is simply a non-starter. So, it seems simple to see that the studio needs to use the digital assets to create STL files for the 3D printing market and then direct the returns generated towards turning the designs into cast resin kits for everyone who just wants to build the damn things, not give 3D printed birth to them.

Interested in what you see? Intrigued by what you’ve read? Want to help the studio out in this endeavour? Stay tuned. Further updates and information coming soon.
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∙ Oh yeah, in case anyone is wondering, yes, this vehicle will absolutely have a selection of weapon systems.

I didn't want anyone to think this was all just about the vehicle chassis that's been seen before. Naturally, anything that dressed up and ready for a night on the town needs some accessories. However, I'm holding off printing prototypes until I've worked the kinks out of the tank and that should help me avoid issues with the weapons. In theory...
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-Subtle emits a gleeful binaric screeching so harsh it makes your teeth itch-

∙ I’m sorry daddy had to force you into tracks that are a bit too small, my darling.

∙ But look at how nicely they suit you.

∙ I can hardly believe how you’ve grown from an inspiration in my mind into something actually real.

-Subtle glances up with a questioning expression-

What? Yes, I sometimes talk to my models in an endearing fashion. And when they look this good they’re deserving of some flattering words. -Subtle glances over- Aren’t you, darling?

However, despite how good the APC looks this is still just a proof-of-concept prototype used to test all sorts of things and work out any kinks in this design and hopefully future designs. It broke about eight times when I was assembling it (you might notice a crack here or there) and there are various minor fit issues primarily because the tolerances are too tight in a few key places and there is some minor warping. While the lower cost resin printers available today are absolutely amazing there’s still a certain amount of minor distortion that creeps up in places due to the lower cost printing resin and the pull/tension/suction forces that happen during the process. The accuracy is still very good (I think the images attest to that) but now I’ve discovered that some parts need a tiny bit more space to accommodate the assembly of the model without a lot of sanding beyond what’s normally required to clean up due to the printing process.

I want to reprint the hatches to improve them (and not break them this time) but beyond that, this is a very successful first step. Several bottles of printing resin are on order and the next round of prints should make sure I’ve got a lock on designing this scale of model for the printers on the market today. It’s still more effort and cost than a kit out of a box but that’s the expense of creating something more exclusive and unique like this. Stay tuned for the next round of test prints that I’m confident will work out the majority of the issues I ran into while building this and when it’s ready to release into the wild I’ll also explain further what’s going to be happening with the studio over the coming weeks, months, and years.
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