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Legion Rising - Projects from The Dark Works

77279 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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Thanks, as always, for the the kind words and positive feedback. It's the reception as a whole that I've been getting from the community that has really fueled me to try to push my work to the next level and see if a studio can actually become real. I've found such an enjoyment out of it all that I really want to make this a livelihood; my choice to start studying for a bachelors degree in Industrial Design is in no small part due to my obsession with creating and building for this hobby.

~ 2-Part Mould Making ~ Part 2

After 7+ hours of curing under 50+PSI of pressure the rubber as close to perfect as you can get.

Now that the RTV rubber is solid and locked in place it's as easy as flipping the Mould Box and peeling the Plasticine away. Sometimes the pressure has a way of forcing rubber under the piece in a few places, but that can be cleaned up; I'll show some of that next...

After removing the Plasticine it's time for some cleanup.

It's not uncommon for the odd seam to leak a little. The rubber gets thick enough to stop flowing in the first hour or so in the Pressure Chamber, so it's not enough to be a problem but it needs to be cleaned up at this point. Note: If you are not careful handling your mould boxes you can break the seal it has with the Plasticine. This can cause a large enough leak that will let much more of the rubber ooze out before curing.

Also, a few spots usually get a bit of rubber forced under by the pressure. It's usually a thin film that can be easily trimmed away. A fresh #11 scalpel blade is my go to favorite for this job, but it's my favorite blade for almost everything. Carefully cut along the edge of the object and use a set of tweezers to pick and peel away the unwanted rubber.

After cleanup it's a simple matter of building up the Lego to create a box for the second half of the mould.

With the walls built up there are two final steps before pouring the second half of the mould. First, input/output gates need to be attached to the sprew. These will pass right through the second half of the mould that is about to be poured. Once they're glued in place the entire cavity is sprayed liberally with some Mould Release. Be sure to spray the rubber areas well; note enough Mould Release will make the two halves of the mould stick together, and very hard to split apart.

Just like the first half of the mould, an even smooth pour starting in one corner is all that's needed.

Just like before, once I have the moulds poured I stack them up before returning them to the Pressure Chamber for the second high pressure curing.

Now it’s time to dismantle the Lego Mould Box and reveal the newly completed mould.

As Lego blocks are pulled away each of the seams will leave thin flash. It likes to stick to the Lego, but it peels away very easily; it’s just a bit fiddly and annoying, really. Once all of the Lego is gone it’s simple to pick this flash away by hand.

Now the Prototype needs to be freed from the new 2-Part Mould.

The Mould Release spray used earlier will help the two parts split apart. The Pins can be a bit stubborn at this point, as they each pop free for the first time. Working slowly around the part you can open the entire seam. From there just peel the mould open.

A press on the Inlet/Outlet Gates should push the Prototype away from the mould.

Slip the Prototype free and the mould is ready to use. With the pressure during curing, the RTV rubber has been formed flawlessly. Even the shine left from the glue I used during the build can be seen in the mould surface - amazing.

Now, since I created this article I’ve done many more moulds (most successful, several others… not so much
) And I figured it would be a good spot to show how this method can be taken to do larger and more complex objects. Plasticine is an excellent base and temporary filler and it can be used suspend complex objects.

It’s all in the layering; build a base slab, and place your prototypes on shelves made from plasticine.

It takes some practice, and a willingness to cut certain slabs several times until the correct shape is achieved; but fitting the object like this will let you completely control where the mould split will be. In this case I get it along the outside edge where it will be very easy to clean. Any major overhangs that could grab at the second half of the mould are filled with plasticine, and will be removed and cleaned in the next step. Getting the seal of the component to the plasticine is the trickiest part at this point. A little Mould Release brushed on along the seam can help. Getting it as clean as possible will make for clean mould lines that are easier to remove from the final resin casts.

After pouring and curing the first half, just like the simpler flat-back mould, remove the plasticine and clean things up.

Building the plasticine up is more complex in this case, but taking it out is the same principle. Getting the ‘stump’ of plasticine out can be a bit of a pin, but once it starts it usually rolls out as pictured. Traces of plasticine in nooks-and-crannies can be cleaned out with rubbing alcohol and/or Mould Release. As before, some rubber will get forced under the parts in a few places, they will need to be cleaned up. Beyond that, the Mould Box is built up again, injection vents are added, everything is sprayed with Mould Release, and the parts are ready for the pouring of the second half of this mould.

De-moulding parts from moulds like this becomes more difficult; shapes like these like to bent and warp as you try to free it from the mould. So just how complex they can get is somewhat limited, but they can easily be large enough for most war-gaming model needs.

So, that's it for now. Any questions, comments, ideas, or other general musings are always welcome.

Up next... I have no idea... But I'm sure I'll come up with a little something.

Thanks for reading.
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Merciful mother of God this is beautiful.
Thanks for putting up something like this (as a cheeky side note would you consider putting it in the tutorials section). As I've said before it's something that's not commonly shown on forums such as ours due to fear of GW legal. One question with the lego mould box, would it possibly be worth having some pre built and glued lego mould boxes sitting there ready to go? Would that speed the process up or do you need the lego blocks to be able to be individually removed?

Also is there any hard and fast rule you use for judging how big the vents need to be?
The flexibility afforded by using the Lego loose is just too useful. The parts I make can range in size and dimension, so I would have a hard time choosing 'standard' sections. For the extra few minutes it takes to remove the blocks one time, I'll take the added flexibility.

Vents change in size based on what they'll be doing. Smaller vents will just let a bit of air escape/through and won't really be for moving resin to fill a void. Medium vents are large enough to take fast flowing resin and usually connect larger objects; these are what feed most objects to fill them. Larger vents are either for a large syringe used to inject resin into the mould, or as a large gate to let venting gas escape during vacuum casting.

The two biggest problems I run into are vents/gates that are a bit too small to take the force of the injection (resulting in bad flash). Vents at least as large as the syringe opening are the best solution, and/or slowing down the injection speed.

Second is having vents that are too small during vacuum de-gassing. If they are too small the surface tension of the bubbles locks them in the vent and stops other bubbles from escaping. Larger vents are the key; I've found ~2mmx2mm vents work very well.

As with many things, there is potential for doing the right and wrong thing. Nothing I've shown is really much more than distilling the information that I've gotten from a few sources online (Some notes on Resin Casting and SmoothOn were two key sites) and combining it with my own real-world experiences. Really, Some notes on Resin Casting is the inspiration for my entire process, but I've adapted it to better suit my studio.

As a designer who is trying to make an income with my work I have a real respect for Intellectual Property. I take great care to create everything I make to respect GWs IP; I conceive and fabricate everything that I cast in resin. Nothing is made from an outside source of any kind, as it should be. I'll hope that others have the same scruples and use these amazing materials and useful processes to make all manner of wonderful war-gaming goodness.
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To get away from casting and moulds for a moment, I figured it might be interesting to show a bit of what keeps me away from my studio during the Fall and Winter months. In this case, it fits right in with miniatures and gaming, so it seemed a good subject for a small distraction post.

I've mentioned on occasion that I have recently returned to school to study for a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design; and by ‘study’, I mean draw and build, draw and build, draw and build some more… then start again. My choice in field of study is in no small part due to the war-gaming hobby and everything that comes with collecting, building, and painting. The response to my work from the community in general told me I needed to take myself seriously, and go for it. If I can do this in my basement, what could I do in a larger industry setting?

My direct goal isn’t to become a miniature designer necessarily, but I have several more years of school to figure out where I fit and what I want to do. That said, I’ll be bring all of the skills, equipment, and process that I can into my modest studio and the kits I’ll produce over the coming weeks, months, years. Huh… that’s almost a paradox. Oh well, such things happen when you’re fueled by the Warp.

So, while many of the projects I have done (and will do) have limitations on what I can choose to create, sometimes we get freedom to make larger choices in form and function. I was flipping through some older photos and a project from last year came up; we were tasked with making a Carryall for a modest selection of items important to a task. My brain immediately set on a case for miniature painting supplies…

The construction had to be made mostly of paper; almost everything is built from Posterboard, Cardboard, and Mayfair paper.

The hinges, swing arms, drawer slide, and magnetized latch are the only parts made from plastic, so that those parts would be strong enough.

I had the option of building to a smaller scale, so I could have made the build easier; but if I was going to make this, I wanted to be able to use it in the end.

The paper plastic combination in the construction makes the build a bit fragile, but it still functions well to keep all of the most needed painting supplies in one place. I can close it all up and tuck it way if I need the desk space, or if I want to move my painting location temporarily. Maybe someday I’ll improve the design (it really deserves a good handle of some sort) and try my hand at making it from plastic and metal.
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That's made just out paper and plastic? Bloody hell! Have you thought about maybe 3d printing it or something?
No rest for the weary, no sleep for the wicked. Been juggling quite a bit the last while and sadly the studio time has had to suffer for it. That said, I've finally got the last bits done for the first Accessories Kit, so here's a quick update...

A few extra details and some rivets finish up the linked-Bolter Ammo Drums.

I wanted to keep this more simple and neutral; it's easy to clutter something so small. I'm happy with the straight forward look it has, and there's nothing stopping me from revisiting this bit and making variations.

After a few failed attempts, the last bit in the selection finally took form, the Dirge Caster.

As I built these parts I kept thinking I'd do something more elaborate, but as the layers came together the clean vox-grill look with a single high frequency satellite speaker didn't seem to need more, in my humble opinion. By using the same curved base part that I used in the Searchlight, the parts share a nice cohesive form with the rest of the kit.

Moulds are curing as I write this, and the first casts of these final bits should be done in the next few days. If all goes as planned I'll sit down this weekend and update The Dark Works; everything shown the last while should be available next week.

I've got a few more ideas and projects bouncing around inside my head, but that's another story for another day. Must... not... write... wall... of... text.
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A Late Night Update...

All work and no play makes Subtle go something something...

All work and no play makes Subtle go something something...

All work and no play makes Subtle go something something...

All work and no play makes Subtle go..

... go crazy?

Don't mind if I do! *Blragh gigergle splat bletch*

Errr... Studies have kept me quite busy but I finally found time to get all of the background work done, so just a quick late night post to celebrate The Dark Works waking from its slumber...

Something old, something new; pictures of the older kits mixed with the new Vehicle Accessories and Tracks.

The new kits are finally in proper production, and looking really good, if I do say so myself. With these smaller kits I can now offer a better selection of bundles along with single kits. I might simplify the selection in the future, but for now I think choice is good.

More coming soon (I hope) but for now, sleep ways is right ways. Thanks as always for past and future support of my work, and the modest studio that is gowning from it.
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My upcoming projects came up in another corner of the web, and I figured it was worth sharing. In the short term an obvious idea bubbled back up in my brain last week...

'Chaos Strong-Point'? Yes, I think that has potential; perhaps with a 'Twin-Linked Reaper Auto-Cannon' upgrade in the future.

These are really early sketches based on GWs kit to get the idea down on paper. I want to do more then just add Trim, I will be changing the form/shape to make it more unique along with other cosmetic changes. But naturally, it will retain the exact same footprint of a GW Defense Line. This project is of a much more realistic scope for the time being, so it should start taking form soon-ish.

I also recently got my hands on a new set of tools for the studio...

Greenstuff Industries ~ Tentacle Maker Tools are a welcome addition to my selection of building paraphernalia; I can't wait to start using them.

With these handy dandy little plates I'll be able to start adding all manner of tentacles, hoses, and pipes to future projects. I'll be sure to do an article-or-two about using them, once I get around to a build that can benefit from them.
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I have been meaning to get hold of that tentacle maker for pipes so will be interested to see your thoughts on it.
Chaos defence line is a good idea, are you on about making it from scratch or as a conversion set for current line?
First impressions of the Tentacle Makers from GSI are that they work exactly as advertised and produce excellent tubes and tenticles of any diameter; my only complaint is that there needs to be more variety! Three plates just isn't enough variety. I consider several other patterns, if it were my product.

The 'Defense Point' will be a complete build, since it's a straight forward shape. With a Quad-gun it will be hard to do it at GW's price point, but I'll see what I can come up with. It will be heavy on resin for a simple kit, but at least resin is a reasonable material.

All praise be to the winter break! With the Industrial Design program I am enrolled in, the curriculum does not really suit a 'reading week' mid-term. In return we get a longer holiday break. Finally, some wide open studio time! But, before any new build projects for the studio, I'll definitely be spending some time at the painting bench...

With lots of painting projects to choose from, there's no problem filling up the painting bench with plenty of models.

Since I do have a little time to paint, and maybe chip away at an actually finishing an army that can see a table or two , I've gone back to my army list, again. Another shuffle; not the first, won't be the last. When the new Chaos Codex was released I got several of the new kits, which promptly started their wait in the long list of projects to complete. Since I had the model it seemed silly to ignore adding a 'Drake to the new list. It's not really the kind of flyer I'd prefer to add to my list, but you have to work with what you're given.

Most of the model is held together with thread the poster-tack, so at this point the pose is only 80% where it should be. Given how complex and overlapping many of the parts are, I'll be painting many parts before assembly to save my sanity some. Just too many nook-and-crannies to deal with otherwise.

Naturally, I couldn't leave the Heldrake kit stock, it needed some personalization.

Originally I wanted to do a major conversion and scratch build, to create a Heldrake that was closer to a fighter jet with a cockpit and strait lines. I still like the idea, but after dabbling with the kit the idea seemed possible, but very elaborate and involved. Later, I'll consider elaborate and involved (and maybe make a cast-able kit out of the effort), but right now I wanted to make something a little less ambitious. Adding a Magma Cutter nozzle to the mouth (Autocannon removed) for a bit of variety was a start, and Lasher Tendrils added some interest to the tail.

Taking inspiration from a Heldrake conversion by Rumplemaster Miniatures I wanted to give the model a more vertical pose and bring the head forward and down.

In the Rumplemaster conversion they chose to take a more... direct... route to cutting down the chest plate of the Drake and bringing the head forward. I chose to more carefully carve out the center armour plate with a Razor Saw, lower it, and reintegrate it as seamlessly as I could manage. This gave me room to lower the neck, and combined with a small change to the armour plate under the chin I was able to lower the head pose to add to the effect. A little brownstuff and some sanding filled in the old stand hole; I'm planning on adding a rod out of the rear foot as a stand post. I think the final pose will need to wait on the base; maybe I can get something tall enough for the foot to grip for support.

So after I take a little diversion on a few personal projects I'll be turning my gaze back on some studio builds. I want to try to keep painting no matter what, but I still have some build ideas clawing at the back of my brain that want to become real. I can't ignore the whispers from the warp, they keep calling me back to the Storm Eagle. But that, so they say, is another story for another day.
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The Heldrake returns, and other musings.

"Klaatu... verata... n... Necktie. Nectar. Nickel. Noodle. … … It’s definitely an ‘N’ word! … Klaatu… verata… N-*Cough*! … … Ok then. *Takes the book* ... Wait a minute! Everything's cool! … No really, I said the words. I did!"

*A huge portal opens and sucks Subtle out from under his rock, flinging him across several realities*

Thanks zxyogi, I do what comes naturally. Trust me, it's a blessing and a curse. Take for example this poor thread, I need to feed it some ration of content to remind it that better times are coming. Naturally, I’ve been very busy, but there are all sorts of things brewing in the background, I can assure you. It may get quiet, but the Basement Troll is always up to something. When we were last visited by our intrepid adventurer, a Heldrake was taking form…

The composition of the model with the base will make it a bit taller than the standard flying stand provided, but not enough to have me worried. It will loom over the army nicely once finished.

I’ve always been a fan of real stone for basing. It’s true that you can get some amazing results from a number of other products and/or techniques, but for me when I want a rock, I use a real rock. In this case, it meant I needed a very large and unique rock, and I’m enough of a collector to have a modest selection. I keep my eye open all the time for unique stones, rocks, and other potential basing materials. Even in a built up city you can find all sorts of interesting textures and objects in your environment; just one small scoop of some crushed gravel from a construction site or playground can provide ‘basing stone’ for years.

One key to working with stone is getting high speed rotary bits that can handle drilling hard rock. Dental drill bits are perfect, but there are many other bits that can handle the job. It’s not always necessary to pin a miniature down but if the only contact point/s with the base are on the stone you’re using, it really is better to drill a hole and pin the model down to the stone for added strength. In the case of the Heldrake, it needed a larger/deeper-than-average post hole for the foot to attach to the base. An extra win-win about using this much real stone on the base it that it is very bottom heavy and stable; there is little chance this model will get knocked over.

Changing the pose exposed too much of the ball-joint that is used to connect the parts; a simple cover up was in order.

It was a simple task to use some half round styrene rod and some of my ever-growing supply of pipes and hoses (Thanks to my GSI Tenticle Makers. Note: v2 coming soon) and give the offending spots a bit of a cover-up. I did file down the top of the sphere a bit before starting, just to lower the layer of pipes and hoses a bit.

The changes in this kit alter the pose and feel of the model dramatically, but they weren’t all that in depth compared to some of my projects; it came together surprisingly quickly.

A tip for filling in large holes and gaps like the original flying stand hole in the chest of the Heldrake; work in 2-3 layers. Fill the offending hole about 90% of the way with your preferred epoxy putty, and once that's cured go in with a thinner layer to finish the job. Then file, sand, and smooth the location to blend it away seamlessly.

The ‘Drake even got a good part of its paint job started before my workload forced me to put it aside. It, along with the entire army that will bask in the grim shadow it casts, are all poised to get actually finished come spring time. A few new paints and some Liquid Gold are on order to replace some ancient pots, and they should be just the incentive to get the brush going again.

Now, that’s not to say I don’t have more than a few building plans for The Dark Works. As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to do a counts-as Aegis Defense Line, and it has seen some good progress…

After several iterations, this broad pattern was the final build that really worked well. To take the idea of defensive out of it, I plan to call it a Siege Line.

Obviously, there is still a lot of detailing that needs to be done. Once the main trim and rivets are done I’m going to add some cabling and some kind of Vox grill or screen. I’m still working it out and might do some sketches that I’ll show later. My drawing skills are improving dramatically with the projects I’m doing in college, so it’s only a matter of time before it migrates to my p’logs.

By popular demand, I will be starting work on a complimenting line of Loyalist vehicle kits; this Land Raider pattern is almost ready to start building once the studio wakes from its hibernation.

With this new Land Raider armour pattern I wanted to address one shortcoming of the original Chaos kit; the Sponson on the original kit is ‘locked’ in the front position by the detailing of the pattern. Now, this is my preference, but I can understand only too well that others might want it switched. So, after a bit of tweaking and adjustment, I was able to design a plate that can be swapped to switch the orientation of the Sponson. The layers of styrene that make up the side wall will need to be ever-so-slightly thicker than the current kit, but it won’t have a noticeable impact.

As always, this is only the tip of the iceberg; the voices from the warp are always chattering in my head, giving me ideas and inspiration. There are many other projects under consideration, and with my newly improving drawing skills I hope to be showing all sorts of concept sketches when I return to my studio work with more time.
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When I start yet another CSM project, your kits will be on ALL my vehicles. Stunning, just stunning!
Well then, if that isn't a vote of confidence, I'm not sure what is. Thanks! I've got no plans on going anywhere, and I've got lots more planned for future kits, so please take your time. I'm sure I'll have some great things to choose from in production whenever you're ready to build.
Damn you GW! These new Imperial Knights just scream 'Mars Pattern'. Now they've got me wanting one of these models so I can make a 'Lucius Pattern' conversion kit. Like I didn't have enough to deal with, they go and do this to me. Too... many... ideas... not... enough... time!
1st of the 9th Progress

++++++++++Scanning …
++++++++++Scanning …
++++++++++Interference Level Shift: 1.13 – 0.98 – 0.925
++++++++++Signal Detect…
++++++++++Signal Lock…
++++++++++Processing: Decrypt…
++++++++++Opening Image Files…

++++++++++Displaying: Legion Formation Progress – 1st of the 9th Heavy Armour Cavalry

++++++++++ Interference Level Shift: 0.925 – 0.90 – 0.875
++++++++++Communications Protocol Request.
++++++++++Re-establishing Connection...
++++++++++Stand By…
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Counts-as Chaos Aegis Defense Line and Quad Gun

++++++++++Processing: Request…
++++++++++Interference Level Shift: 0.875 – 0.783 – 0.635
++++++++++Communications Protocol Validate.
++++++++++Signal Lock…
++++++++++Connection Established…
++++++++++Processing: Decrypt…
++++++++++Opening Image Files…
++++++++++Opening Transcribe Files…

Praise to you Lord Warmaster. Blessings to the Dark Gods that they have finally seen fit to calm the warp storms and permit us to once again support your efforts. Our Mechanicus have been busy with rites of maintenance and repair in preparation; production has been improved and plans are in place for further expansions and upgrades once the necessary equipment, materials, and labour can be obtained. Your plans shall not go astray.

During our time spent severed by the flares, efforts in exploration of the local system have discovered something unexpected. On the 7th and 9th planets in standard orbit, pieces of ancient structures, shrines, or monoliths were uncovered. Given our proximity to warp space, it is impossible to determine the true age of the artifacts and it is currently unclear who the original creators were. Though reduced to mere fragments of their original form, the shards that remain still emanate energies locked within the material. Our Sorcerers feel there could be much to gain if more shards can be recovered; securing any other fragments or associated artifacts found during your campaign should be a priority.

Objective Markers, made from soapstone originals cast in translucent resin and combined with a flickering LED 'tea light'; a step-by-step article of how these were made, coming soon.

Our Mechanicus are pleased to report that the Tutamen Pattern Siege Shields are complete and ready for manufacture; with the return of large scale material imports, assembly lines are being equipped and will soon be ready for proper production. The design template for a front-line close support anti-air platform is also nearing completion...

Almost ready for production from The Dark Works; Tutamen Pattern Mk.I Siege Wall sections and Morsus Pattern Mk.I Anti-Air Cannon platform.

Started several months ago, the final details and cleanup are done and the Siege Wall prototypes are ready for mould making.

The final build and testing of the Morsus Pattern Cannon will be done soon. The armoured main chassis provides added protection to the control, targeting, and weapon systems. Currently it can mount a single Las'Cannon or twin rotary Auto-Cannons.

This kit started with a straight forward idea that turned into something a little more elaborate. One more layer of detail and clean up (mostly on the weapons) and this kit will be ready for moulds.

With renewed material supply shipments, construction of current production templates is resuming. Some time will be required to build significant stockpiles ready for transport. Production of new templates will start once assembly lines are online.

An oversight request will follow in a future communication. The Mechanicus have several promising constructs that they wish to develop. They will request your input on their research in an effort to work on projects that will meet with your approval. Details will be provided.

+++++++++Message End…
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++++++++++Stand By…

P.S. My sincere apologies to anyone who may have sent me a message recently and not received a reply. I've been somewhat anti-social recently as I worked on sorting several things out. I will be sitting down to send out many direct messages to inquiring parties over the coming days. Thanks, as always, for your interest and support. More to come.
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Objective Markers & Void Shield Generator

Forever lured to distraction by the voices from the Warp, I picked up several LED votive/tea candle lights a while back. The original simple plan was to create Wrecked Vehicle markers by adding blackened Poly-Fil or fake snow fibers to emulate smoke. I've seen it done several times and it's a great way to mark burning wrecks. Naturally, there's nothing stopping me from doing those in the future, but I thought there might be other uses for these cheap little lights.

With my starting army getting ever closer to actually being ready (someday), there is one thing I wish I could have dabbled with before I started painting; in hindsight I wish I had taken the time to use LEDs to light my Rhinos, Predators, and anywhere else I could manage. I'm an all-or-nothing kind of personality (who'd guess that?) and I'd want them in all of the vehicles so I'm no going to start now. As a consolation, I've come to the conclusion that, within reason, I can add lighting to everything else. Where I can, I'll add lighting effects to scenery, markers, and counters.

I read once, and I can't even remember where, about someone who went all out and lit a Cites of Death table, and that planted the seed in my mind. I've always wanted to do a city fight table, so it seems a perfect opportunity to give it a try. I'm hoping to even add strategically placed smoke generators that can be triggered to add to the lighting effects. The plan even has a practical angle; it will all make a great backdrop to photograph studio kits in an appropriate setting. But, that's all a story for another day. For now, I started a little more modest...

Soapstone is great for easy shaping and carving, but it's also very fragile; but that's not a problem for this purpose.

Naturally, you don't need to used soapstone, but I had some so it proved perfect for the job. Note the amount of dust that's created cutting up the soapstone; it's fine and light, so take care not to make more mess then needed. After sanding some of the sides smooth, I formed the pieces by chipping and cracking them into shape. It was easy to sketch out some simple patterns on the new surfaces and carve into the stone with my sculpting tools. I made sure to carve the lines nice and deep so they would catch the light well. For future attempts I'll try to take more care and make more intricate carvings.

Time to make quick-and-simple moulds of the original stones so they can be cast in plastic; enter the Instant Mold (IM).

I haven't had need to make press moulds the last while, so this IM has sat idle for quite some time. It's tricky to do 2-sided moulds like the ones I've done, but I wanted both sides of the stone. It took a few tries, but the results were good enough for my needs. I used the small blue pieces (chunks if a cut up pen) to create the pour gate and they were good-to-go. I didn't have enough IM to comfortably make all three, so the last one had to wait.

Time to make some translucent copies with the moulds that can catch the light; next up, Easy Cast and a few simple tools.

Unlike the casting resin I've been using, that cures in 15-45 minutes, Clear Cast takes 24 hours to cure enough to de-mould, and 48+ hours to cure to full hardness. Fine for a few one-off casts, but far too slow if you wanted to make several of something. It is also very sensitive to how it's mixed; if you're just a little off of 50/50 the final object will never harden.

While you want a clear plastic to let the light pass through, if it's too clear the light will pass completely through and the object won't glow as well. To fix this it's a simple matter of making the plastic slightly translucent. Adding a very tiny amount of White acrylic paint to the mix is all that it takes; you don't want too much (not even a full drop, just a dab) or it will start to mute the light. You can also change the colour of paint if you want to alter the colour of the light. Add dab of blue paint in the resin with a yellow light and it will glow green, for example. A green LED would be better, but it will work in pinch.

One translucent copy. Now it just needs some minor modification.

Making the pour gate for the mould the right size lets it fit right over the LED and catch as much light as possible. When hollowing out the center it's best to start with a smaller drill bit and work up to get the hole clean and accurate.

Now to turn it from a chunk of plastic into a shard of some ancient artifact.

It glows well enough without paint, but a layer of white primer will trap and reflect the light within the object. Even if the item is going to be dark like these arcane stones, it's good to start with white to make the glow as bright as you can. It will take many layers to completely block out the light from bleeding through thin spots in the paint. Consider this for the object you might want to create, fine details will be lost by all the layers of paint that will be needed. Slabs of stone with symbols carved in it makes a good choice; the rough stone looks fine with many coats of paint.

Base it up to match your army and it will come down to the final detail layers. I wish they could be a little bit shorter, but with how the internal parts are made in these tea lights, there's no easy way to make it shorter without rebuilding it from scratch. With a battery compartment, a wire, and a tiny switch, it wouldn't be hard to make something closer to a 40mm base it height, but for now the provided form will do fine. In the end it's an Objective Marker, so if it stands a little higher on the table it's not the worst thing. And they are almost 40mm diameter so they're at least a cohesive size.

They glow brightly enough to be very visible in a well lit environment and the flicker adds just a bit of animation to the effect; reminding you to pay attention to them on the table.

After painting the surfaces a strong Black that didn't leak any light, I added bit of Satin Varnish on the exposed clear plastic. This was to ensure there was a surface for the next wash layers to bond better with. To keep things simple I kept the flat surfaces pure Black and painted any exposed rough stone with Fortress Grey. I gave the Grey a wash with Agrax Earthshade, and then set to work with Nuln Oil. I used the Nuln along all of the edges of the Black to mottle and blend the transition between the Grey and the Black, and long all of the glowing edges. By carefully layering up the Nuln Oil along the edges of the Black that met with the glowing lines, the transparent nature of the Nuln Oil wash helps soften the edge so the glow is more intense in the center and fades towards the outside. repeat the process until you have the desired depth.

These little markers turned out really well considering how quickly they came together. They would be interesting to see with a bit more time taken to carve more elaborate symbols, but there's nothing wrong with a simple start. I want to try other ideas, and colours, in the future. Now, speaking of more elaborate, I've had an idea for a lit scenery piece for quite some time; it brings together the ideas of something built for a city fight table, some cool lighting for effect, and a structure that GW recently added to the game - the Void Shield Generator.

Emphasized in college, I did several iterations until I found a form that worked. The 3-sided concept couldn't open, the first 4-sided concept was too large, but the last was perfect.

I hope the fact that it's still just made of cardboard illustrates that this is still just an early scratch build, but really happy with the direction. I've been looking for a reason to put a 3" plasma globe into a piece of scenery for a while now. At first I figured it would be a Chaos portal or shrine (and that idea still has legs, but it will be an 8" globe when I get to it) but the Shield Generator seems like the perfect opportunity. I tried to make a structure that makes sense; a building you can enter at the base and climb an internal ladder to a hatch or door that opens to the battlements. The energy field that is being generated to create the Void Shield is created in the base to be contained and focused by the pillars that will be detailed out to look the part.

It should be simple enough to devise a magnetic clasp that will let the model open for access to the globe for battery swaps.

I managed to find a battery powered globe that's inexpensive ($11 CAD before shipping) that runs on 4 AAAs, but can still plug in when possible. My testing with four 700mAh rechargeable AAA batteries gets about 3 hours 15 minutes of non-stop run time, and the light effect stays strong to the end before turning off all at once. Higher mAh batteries should get more runtime, but I'm not sure just how much. The final build is a little shorter than a GW Bastion, it's footprint is about the same as a Vengeance Weapon Battery, and there's enough room on the battlements for three 40mm bases. Obliterator perch anyone?

Like a few of my ideas right now, they are getting larger and more ambitious and require more consideration. I really like this idea for a kit, but it's size makes it daunting. Like the Stormeagle concepts, the image in my mind is just too good to let go of, so I've been figuring out how the heck I will proceed with these larger ideas. I need to make these things real, if only to shut up the voices from the Warp that coax me on to build and create. Have faith Loyalists, things are in The Works.

I've already created a large enough wall-o'-text-&-photos for today, so I'll save my other ramblings for another time. As always, more to come and comments, questions, critiques, and general banter is always welcome. Thanks for the kind words, encouragement, and feedback.
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