In my last article I’ve shown the Ghetorix conversion that pretty much got me to start collecting Circle, but since I have to be a ‘unique snowflake’, I went for the counterintuitive ‘urban theme’. That said Ghetorix has more of a tribal feel to it (due to the extensive use of bone armor and trophies) and the only ‘urban’ element on my model is the base. It will be the same for all my living beasts and the more savage solos/units, since no matter how you look at it, they would never blend in an urban environment and if they are on paved streets, it means they are attacking the city, or at least that is the idea…
However Circle isn’t a uniformed faction and there are more subtle and sneaky followers of the Devourer, that could infiltrate the cities of men to sabotage factories, spread plagues or smuggle military assets in preparation for future attacks and this is where the ‘Urban theme’ can go beyond sculpted bases: the constructs.
It seems perfectly plausible for me that Circle would infiltrate the towns and forts around the Thornwood to set up contingency plans in case it becomes necessary to openly attack these fortified locations. The linchpin of such operation would undoubtedly be having camouflaged Shifting stones within said cities to teleport troops and other constructs behind enemy lines if needed.
Ordinary Shifting stones are basically just very ornate small obelisks with glowing runes. They can look like oriental stone lamps and considering real world history, it seems plausible that in the Iron kingdoms there would be at least a few nobles and merchants that fancy themselves as ‘art collectors’, who would import (both legally and through the black market) such exotic artifacts and show them off in their mansions and gardens.
As usual we first have to prepare a core of plastic to put the green stuff on (not to use so much of the expensive epoxy), which is in this case just a simple square 5mm tall column on a base. For this keep in mind that you will add to this shape roughly 1 mm of modeling putty on each side, so think in advance how wide you want your custom Shifting stone to be and make the plastic core 2 mm thinner to compensate.
Once the core is ready I started by sculpting the floor pattern I am using for the sidewalks on my urban bases (the irregular shaped stone slabs), while leaving a section of the base empty, to later add grass (representing them being at the edge between a park and the street).
The next step is to texturize the column. Start by putting a small drop of super glue on each side of the plastic core and wrap it with a thin strap of fresh green stuff. Then take a thick piece of flat plastic card lubricated with water or oil (so it doesn’t stick to the putty) and flatten all 4 sides to get an evenly spread flat layer on your pillar (keep in mind that when you press on the putty, it will bulge out at the corners of the surface, so you will have to go around pressing all 4 sides and re-flattening the ‘spilling’ on the corners several times before it is all nice and regular). After you manage to get this layer of epoxy flat as you want it, take your metal sculpting tool and press in any ‘man made’ pattern you prefer (I went for a brick pattern with rune stone slab on the front, but you could do round or irregular rocks just as well). After this layer of putty was dry and hard, I glued to its top the plastic core for the next level of the structure:
In general, if you want to make a neat sloped or pyramidal shape with putty, the best way I found is to define its lower and upper edges with a plastic core, add the putty in the gap and just press down on the putty with a flat tool or piece of plastic card, until I touch both edges of the core. In the process any excess epoxy will be squeezed out of the sides, so you just remove said excess and flatten the corners of the putty like we did on the lower column.
Once that element was cured I glued on the plastic core for the ‘head’ of the Shifting stone, following the same sizing pointers as for the lower pillar (make it smaller than the final lamp will be).
First I glued and flattened a thin layer of fresh green stuff, just like we did in the previous steps and then went on to sculpt the depressions in the surface with a Circle/Legion like pattern. The basic idea is to use an assortment of custom cut plastic sculpting tools with differently shaped tips to trace the edges of the depressions, then use a small pointed tool (something like an inkless ball point pen) to press down between these traced lines to deepen the depressions and finally go back with the custom tools to redefine and sharpen the edges. Once this ornate cube was cured I sculpted the pyramid on top and the conversion was done.
Now this top bit was the most challenging part of this sculpt to pull off, but you don’t necessarily need to sculpt the entire Shifting stone yourself. If you like this theme you can just as well cut the top of an actual shifting stones and glue/pin it on top of the pillar we have already made. Instead of making a plastic core, you could use an entire shifting stone and just cover the lower pillar with putty, to sculpt the urban stone/brick texture into it and leave the top as it is.
For those not so keen on sculpting, a couple of weeks back I noticed another conversion article on Oriental shifting stones on Hand cannon online, that uses the lower half of the original model and scratch builds a different stone lantern out of plastic card for the top. I definitely advise to check it out: http://handcannononline.com/blog/2013/05/06/oriental-circle-of-orboros-part-one-building-the-lanterns/
Incidentally if you were to combine that conversion idea and mine you could get 2 different looking units of Shifting stones out of one set of models…
As usual we start with the undercoat pre shading:
After that we can apply fairly thinned out paint and get the base colors on our models. As you can see in the picture, I kept it fairly simple: one coat of Astronomican grey for all the stone, a 50-50 mix of Troll slayer orange and Ratskin flesh for the bricks, a base of Skull white followed by old school Yellow ink for the glowing runes and lamp on top and some Camo green for the surface where I’ll later glue the grass. I went back and corrected any smudges and mistakes and sealed the whole thing with a spray varnish.
At that point I took the oil paints. First I applied to all the grey stone a light wash made with Paynes grey, scrubbed off excess with a Q-tip, similarly washed and scrubbed the bricks with Burnt umber and made a light wash of orange on the glowing parts. I then sealed everything again and finally added another more localized feathering of Lamp black oil paint to deepen the shadows under the lamp and the gradient on the stone floor and the top pyramid. In this last step I used the Q-tip more like a brush and scrubbed off just the top edges of the pyramid to create highlights on the grey stone and sealed the model one last time.
At the end I just glued some static grass on the green patches I left earlier and my first unit of custom Shifting stones was finished:
Anyway, since my camera is a bit too crappy to make a video tutorial about using oil paints, I thought of posting some links to the Youtube videos I learned these techniques from…
First a quick explanation on how to make and clean your own Oil paint washes, by SchnauzerFace:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cP9cT3firLw
Next, here is my first introduction to oil paints, by Mat Hart, of Grumpy Wargamer’s fame (also Boosted damage and Steamforged):
Oil wash on metal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZMzNKo_a44
Oil feathering on cream white: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLFID0cxkE0
To finish off, here is my favorite video by SchnauzerFace (shows off several techniques and tricks that are useful even if you don’t use an airbrush to paint): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HjkO44H-AU
If you like them, check out the other videos on their channels; there are many useful tricks and tips you can easily integrate in your usual painting style. Hope these video tutorials might help you as they helped me improve my painting.
That will be enough for this article. My next one will likely be about more sculpted bases I think; would the readers prefer more Urban floor designs (like Sewer themed hollowed bases, Rooftop bases, Railroad themed bases) or Otherworldly bases (River of souls, Grounds of flesh and eyes, ecc…)? Leave any suggestions in the comments below or visit the Arts of war forum section of MoM. Cheers!