This week we continue the mustering of my Red army of Doom, by conscripting the Great Bears of Gallowswood; since they are the embodiment of Khadoran combat prowess and I tend to use them in any Butcher list I make, it seemed fitting for them to get the full ‘Doom treatment’ next. That said, they are pretty ‘beefy’ models (one solid chunk of white metal, if we discount the arms), so you can’t really change that much on them, but that never stopped me before…
The first step in my ‘Orgoth conversion recipe’ was to sculpt some custom ax heads with the usual ‘soul storm pattern’. Initially I was planning to give them weapons shaped like Zerkova2’s Reaver escorts, but upon further consideration I decided that design did not fit well the curved staff of the Bears’ axes, so I settled on a more traditional ax silhouette with a long ‘beard’:First I cut the outline of my weapon out of 0.5 mm thick plasticard, sculpted the screaming souls on the flat sides of the ax, let that dry, then added the edge and borders of the blade and finally sculpted the ‘eye’ of the ax and made a silicone mold of it to cast a few copies in resin (I might use it on my Doom-themed Iron fang Kovnik and Yuri in future conversions).In the picture above you can see the original axes compared to my custom ones for scale comparison (I always found the stock weapons looked rather small for such mighty heroes, so I obviously had to make them bigger and more threatening…).
Yarovich and Kolsk:
As mentioned earlier, there aren’t many things you can add to the Great bears without overburdening them with extra details or outright re-sculpting them from scratch, so I kept things simple:Baldy’s head here was a perfect ‘blank slate’ to sculpt the traditional Doom reaver mask onto; no need to cut/saw/file stuff away. The main challenge with these masks was getting my sculpting tools in between the ‘encasing’ shoulder pads and the head, to shape the green stuff neatly, but with enough patience anything can be done (admittedly, if you have the tools to neatly cut off the original heads, then sculpt or buy new ones separately and glue them in, would be the easiest route). First I made the front plate with the typical grid of holes, let that cure entirely, later used a hobby scalpel to trim the edges of the mask (to make them sharper and straighter) and finally sculpted some leather bands to fasten the mask to the head.Same idea as before, but here I first had to carefully cut/file off the bits of the original helmet that protruded, to gain a workable surface in the shape of a head. Like before I sculpted the face plate and later added a leather strap and hair to the back of the head (partly to cover some of the rough patches left by my hacking and partly because I wanted them to stay somewhat uniform).I should point out that I prepared the bases for the models at the very start of my work. By that I mean I chopped up some cork and glued it to the bases to form rocky outcropping I would later cover with snow (the simple basing theme of my Khador models). Usually I end each of my sculpting sessions with some leftover putty, so I always keep some unfinished bases close at hand, so that I can swiftly plop down the unused green stuff on the cork to represent mounds of snow, rather than throwing the putty away. In the picture you can see how the bases looked toward the end of my sculpting project that week.Here you can see how Yarrovich and Kolsk look fully assembled with axes in hand and on their elevated scenic bases in my usual zenith gray-scale undercoat style; simple but effective, I think:)
You might be wondering why I left the unit leader for last, separate from his murdering buddies; well he is where I spent the most time to fully convert, since I can be obnoxiously nit-picky and there are a few details on this model that annoyed me…So my first issue with the original model is the bear pelt on his right shoulder. I don’t have a problem with the idea itself, but to me it looked rather impractical to have a fluffy pelt (including the skull) hanging off you main arm in the way it is portrayed (and I don’t like it from a figurative composition stand point)… So I got my hobby metal saw and removed it entirely, which inevitably took with it 40% of the shoulder pad. I started by making a ‘core’ of roughly the right dimensions, left it to harden completely, used a hobby knife to cut off excess and thin it down in places and then used some more green stuff to cover it all and re-shape an unblemished shoulder pad (using a medium-firmness-silicone clay shaper to smooth it all out.Next I focused on the head sunken down between the armor pads, covering it with putty and sculpting the mask pattern in front, while on the back I rounded out the shape of the skull with a ‘flat top’, so that the head appeared to be slightly higher than the original. On the top I glued a piece of 1 mm thick plasticard, I cut out in the shape of a blade (similar to the Iron fang Kovnik and MoW Drakhun’s helmets) and finished sculpting the top of the model’s crown, so that the green stuff would firmly grip the ‘steel Mohawk’ from the sides (so that it won’t snap off as soon as someone touches it). After that bit dried out, I finished the back of the head with some more leather straps and slightly longer hair than the other two members of the unit.Another problem with the original model for me is the pose of the arms: the ‘overhead vertical strike’ tends to hide the model’s head (it is kind of pointless to convert details that will be hidden by other parts of the assembled model) and it would also bump awkwardly into the new bladed helmet. With that in mind I decided to change the pose into a ‘horizontal swipe’ instead, but that brought with it a number of small corrections that had to be made… For starters, back when I removed the stock bear pelt from the right arm, some of the scale armor sleeve on the right got damaged, so I used a thin layer of putty to re-sculpt that side. Next came the left sleeve; in the original position, the left arm is angled further up than the right, while in my horizontal strike pose it should be lower (just gluing the arms bent isn’t enough, it would still irk me), so I slowly and carefully filed off most of the left armored sleeve, used some green stuff to form the core of the new left arm, let it cure and then sculpted the same scale armor pattern on it that I used on the right sleeve. Anyway, with all the hacking and sawing I ended up squashing the spike on the left shoulder pad, so I just chopped it off and went on to sculpt my own substitute spikes myself (so that they would be consistent with each other).The last ‘detail’ I had to sort out was the bear pelt; these guys are called the Great bears, so it would be strange for their leader to be the only one without a grizzly trophy of his own. Originally I considered putting the bear head on top of his head (like a roman centurion or Yuri the Axe), but I soon realized it would make his head look too big and comical, so I ended up copying the ‘pelt on the back’ from Yarovich. First I shaped the ‘skull’ of the bear, to make a solid core onto which to apply later layers of putty to sculpt the actual bear head. Next I sculpted the hide of the beast, trying to mimic the styling of the fur pattern from the other two great bear models (it is noticeably different from my personal style of sculpted fur). After that layer of putty cured completely I applied one more layer of green stuff over the skull and slowly shaped it into a stylized bear head (I generally use cartoon/comic book images of animals as reference, when I am trying to sculpt them myself, since these exaggerated caricature-like features help make the intended animal more recognizable, in spite of most ‘proportion mistakes’ I might make along the way).And here is my re-posed ‘Doom Volkov’ with axe in hand on his scenic base, undercoated and ready for actual painting…
Time to put some red paint on my latest addition to the Red army of Doom; as an example of the painting steps I think Yarovich works best so:As usual I first applied my base colors on the entire model, correcting any smudges/over-spills at this stage, then added one or two layers of highlights to the red, green and gold, before coating it all with a spray ‘satin varnish’, to protect the acrylic paint from the solvent I would use for my oil paint washes in the next step. I then applied a Burnt umber (brawn) oil paint wash to all the warm tones, let the spirits evaporate for 10-15 minutes and then scrubbed off the excess from raised areas with Q-tips moist with thinner and finalized the shades by feathering the transitions between darker ‘oiled’ areas and brighter ‘scrubbed’ areas (to soften the transition). I left the models to dry overnight and in the morning I sealed them again with another coat of mat spray varnish and added a few final highlights and accents to the red of the armor, the browns of the pelts, the arcane glow of the screaming souls, retouched the metals to bring back their shine (metal colors usually get dulled by the 2 layers of varnish and the oil paint wash) and ultimately picked out all the rivets and bolts with silver to make them pop more.Here are close-ups of the other 2 members of the character unit fully painted…
That will be all for this article, but as always, if you have any comments, questions or suggestions check out this article series’ thread on the Muse on Minis forums ( -Linky- ). Cheers!!!