This week we are getting back to converting. Between long colossal conversions, an endless back log of unfinished projects and the occasional local commission, I haven’t put up any article in the last 3 weeks, therefore I thought it would be good to tackle a ‘smaller’ conversion project, while I am still working on my other stuff, so here is my ‘Vlad the Dark prince’ conversion from start to finish.
As some of you might have noticed from my Meta crunch articles, I use prime Vlad a lot, but I never liked any of the stock models for him, so locally I have been using his epic model instead ever since Mk 1. As we started going to more foreign events, it was time to get the actual pVlad model and try to make it more appealing, not to proxy it all the time.
So what is it about the classic Vlad sculpt I (and many others) don’t like? For starters the proportions are somewhat off; his feet/shoes are comically long, his legs look a bit short, his waist is way too thin (the biceps of the male Manhunter are bigger) and the armor on the torso looks ‘skin tight’ like a steel corset. The pose over all is a bit too flat and static, the mantle is extremely plain and too thick and the weapons look rather unimpressive (plus the sword had the two halves of the blade mismatched by almost 1 mm)…
As you can see in the concept sketch I decided to swap out the blades on both weapons (to make them more interesting and threatening), alter the pose slightly (to make it less bi-dimensional) and re-sculpt the torso and mantle to look less anorexic.
Right, so how do we translate the ideas from paper to model?
To start we clean up any flash and mold lines, wash any mold release off the model (like with paint it also can prevent glue and modeling putty sticking on), clip off the original blades, feet and saw the model in half across the belly.
Next we cut our own blades out of a 1 mm thick sheet of plastic card with a sharp hobby knife and spend 10 minutes carving and filing to get the edge and shape right. Then we can use a 0.8 mm manual drill to carefully pin our plastic blades to the sword handles.
Before starting sculpting on the model itself I made a ‘snow covered rock’ base like Vlad2’s, using some cork and leftover green stuff, so I had something to pin the model lower amputated ‘stumps’ into. Once that was done I could re-sculpt Vlad’s feet to point in a slightly different direction from the stock pose.
Next I beefed up the models thighs, added a ‘chainmail loincloth’ to cover up the transition between the legs and belly and sculpted some bigger armor plates on his sides, so that they would align properly with the wider waist I was planning for the upper half of the model.
While the upper torso was still detached I sculpted some extra details on my plastic blades, since it was easier to get to them while the legs weren’t in the way. When those were cured I pinned back together the torso to the legs and covered the original armor with a thin layer of green stuff to be an even base to work on. Afterwards I sculpted my actual designs of armor over and around the torso, being careful of not making him ‘too fat/bloated’ in the process.
At this point I had just the mantle to do. Like I showed in previous Sculpting table articles, I used my ‘Green stuff press’ to make a thin sheet of grey stuff that I cut in a rough rectangular shape and glued to the back of the models with gel super glue. While it was still soft I used the butts of my paint brush handles to give it a wavy shape.
When the grey stuff was fully cured and hard I popped on a new layer of green stuff and sculpted in some fur and decorative armor like epic Vlad’s cloak. To finish things up I added a small strip of fur at the edge of the mantle, again copying the epic model, not to leave it empty.
Since this is a smaller conversion and I have been dragging it so long, I decided to even paint this model (usually I jump strait into my next sculpting project). I am a fairly slow painter, but lately I have been using a number of tricks and shortcuts I have picked up from Mat Hart of Steam forged/Boosted damage fame…
First I ‘pre-shade’ my model at the undercoat stage; it is nothing complicated. You start by undercoating your model with a black primer as usual, maybe fill in some spots/cracks the spray missed with a normal brush and black paint. Once that is dry you apply a light coat of grey primer spraying from a 45 degrees angle and finally an even lighter shot of white primer sprayed from directly above the miniature. This will create a natural looking gradient in greyscale on your model and make the surface a bit rougher, which helps thinned out paints to stick better to the model.
In the next step I applied all my base coats very thin (milk consistency) and highlighted each color with one layer (two layers for the red and the gold) of increasingly brighter tone. For example the red base is the old GW Scab red, the mid tone is a 50-50 mix of Scab and Blood reds, while the final highlights are 70% Blood red to 30% Scab red. I should also point out that at this stage I used some Agrax earthshade wash only on the furry bits on the back and on the golds.
After I did all my base colors and highlights in a neatly fashion I sealed the model with some spray mat varnish and applied some oil paint shading to the model. I used some Winston and Newton Lamp black to shade the greens and some Burnt umber to shade the fur on the back and the reds. Oil washes work best on bigger surfaces, but in general the advantage of using oil paints is that you have a much longer time to work on the paint (particularly important for feathering techniques) and if you screw up and shade an area that you wanted to keep bright, you can remove the excess oil paint with a Q-tip moist with white spirit.
I should point out that you need to leave the oil paint so dry for 12-24 hours before continuing, so I generally do them before going to bed and continue painting the next evening. Anyway, when it is dry you can seal the model again with some mat varnish and apply the last few corrections and highlights with acrylic paints as usual.
So here is the finished version of my pVlad’s conversion. I am pretty happy with how the model turned out. What do you think?
Anyway, this will be all for this week. I am currently working on the subject of my next article, so hopefully I should post another Sculpting table article in less than 3 weeks from now. For now lets just say it will cover more basic tricks and patterns that people might find interesting regardless of their faction…