Friday, 5 May 2017

CXXVI. Wolf Herdsman and Wolves + Basing Tutorial

I'm planning to DM a mini-campaign later this year set in my Gardens of Hecate world. Titled Monstrous Births, it will consist of three or four linked games, with the player taking control of the Countess and her spirit host. I have the key points planned out. It will take place in the woods, so I'm all set as far as scenery is concerned. But I do need to craft brand new characters/monsters for the Countess to fight. There is one that I won't reveal until the final game is played. The rest will be featured here as I make them. Today I present the first handful of them: 

Wolf herdsmen are hermits who live in the woods. Wolves gather around them and obey them. They can transform themselves and others into wolves using a magic hoop. Many of them were originally monks who secluded themselves in the forest as a part of their penance or in order to meditate, and mysteriously went feral in the process. They shun the company of fellow man.
I tried to give him the same yellow eyes the wolves have, but I fear it's not really visible due to his eyes being very small.
The pack was painted using mostly washes and glazes on top of a white undercoat. I looked at photographs of the real life animals and tried to imitate the colour patterns on their fur. There are only two poses among the six, but I think I managed to avoid the clone look. These minis can double as wolves for Frostgrave, which is great.


The idea for this came once more from folklore. In northern Croatia and neighbouring Slovenia, vučji pastir/volčji pastir is a person who is the master of all wolves in an area. He appears as an old man in rags or in the shape of a wolf. He organises pack gatherings where he assigns each wolf his prey for the upcoming season. Vučji pastir can transform into a wolf by jumping through a hoop or by rolling on the ground. Legends usually speak of poachers or shepherds who eavesdrop on a pack gathering from on top a tree, which ends in them getting spotted and transformed into a wolf for a number of years as punishment. Similar figures exist in folklore of many other European peoples, Slavic and otherwise.
Wolf herdsman artwork by Bulgarian artist (Viktor Paunov).
The wolf herdsman has the body of a Skaven Plague Priest from the Plague Furnace kit, head and wolf tail decoration from a Space Wolf, arms from The Hobbit Goblins, carved head on the tip of his staff is from some dwarf's helmet (originally meant to be a dragon head). The staff's shaft is a length of brass rod. The six wolf miniatures are Young wolves from Ral Partha.

Design choices

At first I meant to dress the character in dirty and torn civilian clothes, but he ended up in a frayed monk's habit when I discovered that Skaven body in my bits box. He needed to have a bushy beard, so I picked this Space Wolf head. It also sports a hairstyle that looks a lot like the tonsure, which is associated with Catholic monks. The props that were a must include on the figure are the staff and the hoop. The staff was meant to be a shepherd's crook, but I went in a different direction after I decided to add a wolf's tail on it to visually tie him in with his wolves better. After that I thought I might as well put a carved wolf head on the top. For the hoop I went with the simplest possible look. 

For variety's sake the pack will in the future be joined by a few more wolves which will be different sculpts.

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Wilderness basing- how I do it

MarK asked me in the comments about my recent basing style and I promised a tutorial. So here it is for all of you.

STEP I: If my composition requires it, I first build up some height with DAS clay. When you do this make sure to put some PVA underneath to help it stick to the base. When it cures it should be durable enough (has always been for me). This can also be done with Milliput if you are afraid DAS is not strong enough.
I sculpted a rock for the wolfherd to stand on. DAS comes in white and terracotta. The colour is irrelevant because it gets painted over anyway.
STEP II: After priming I paint the entire thing dark brown.
STEP III: When the paint is dry I cover everyting that won't be a visible rock in PVA and dip it in Noch flockage.
STEP IV: Next step is making a PVA and water mix and covering the flock with it. The flock will soak it in and when it's dry it will become more durable. While this is still wet I take watered down green paint and wash patches of flock that colour. This adds some variation. Or if you have more than one colour of flock you can just use more than one colour in step III and skip the paint.
STEP V: When step IV is completely dry I take an old brush and stipple the flocked areas with Zandri Dust. These highlights give the base more depth.
STEP VI: The rocks. Dawnstone layered with Celestra Grey.
STEP VII: Black wash and brown wash on the rocks.
STEP VIII: I add highlights here and there with light grey, almost white. And finally paint specks of moss and lichen.
STEP IX: After this I usually finish off with some tufts and leaves. Handled with tweezers and glued with PVA. Just a tip: don't forget that grass tufts can be shaded with washes and highlighted with a brush, too.
There are tons of basing products out there. One can play around and experiment. Not necessarily use all of it on one base - less is more. This is a part of my current basing arsenal:

  1. NOCH static grass. Different lengths and shades. I used this a lot on my Wilderness scenery.
  2. NOCH flock. Versatile stuff. Used in the above tutorial.
  3. Flowers from Kellerkind Miniaturen.
  4. Citadel static grass.
  5. Pablo el Marques static grass. Great thing about this brand, apart from a wide palette of available colours, is that they sell grass in packs as small as two grams. Most convenient.
  6. Mini dry leaves. Come from birch seed pods. Can be bought or collected from nature.
  7. Aetztech etched brass ferns.
  8. Gamer'sGrass tufts. I use them a lot. Variety of colours, tuft sizes and fibre lengths to choose from. There are moss patches and flowers, too.
  9. Ivy and tree leaves from Mini Natur. There is also a pack of their moss tufts in that pile of blisters.
  10. Natural tree roots I harvested myself.
All these things are good for bases as well as scenery and dioramas. And there are still many things I want to try out but haven't got round to purchasing yet. What do you guys use for your bases?

Sunday, 30 April 2017

CXXV. The Codex Gigas Devil

Codex Gigas, popularly known as Devil's Bible, is a medieval manuscript famous for its unusually large dimensions. It contains a collection of texts in Latin, including the entire Bible. This book probably took decades to complete, but according to legend it was written in a single night by a monk who was supernaturally aided in the task by Lucifer himself. In exchange for his soul, of course. This idea must have come from the fact the handwriting is incredibly unified and unchanged throughout the manuscript. The most famous page in the tome is the one containing the Devil's image shown above.
This image is already featured in Iulia's spell tome.

Which brings us to my newest piece: a miniature representation of the Codex Gigas devil. This is another AoS28 commission for Urion, accompanying the snail demon from my previous post.
Translating that book illustration into miniature form required some thought. He needed a more natural and believable body and pose, but still had to be recognisable at first glance. I went for a Kroot body and Ghoul arms. The head is the key to identifying him, so I sculpted it from scratch to resemble the illustration as closely as I could.
The spikes on the back of his head are not suggested in my reference material, but I added them to visually tie this devil in with his two mates - the snail and the barbed Bol.
That face came straight from the uncanny valley. If I encountered this guy somewhere I would wet my pants.
The snail and the devil frolicking in the woods...
Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo before priming. So an after priming one will have to do this time.
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Some material arrived for future projects. Problem is I have way more ideas than I have time.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

CXXIV. Three Books and a Snail

I made an impulse-buy of three lovely books last week, so I thought I might as well make a brief review. Bruegel (2015; text by Rose-Marie and Rainer Hagen), Dürer (2016; text by Norbert Wolf) and Bosch (2016; text by Walter Bosing). Those are artists whose work inspires me a lot. 
The three hardcover books are from Taschen's Basic Art series and measure 21,5 x 26,5 cm. Each has around 100 pages. They are bound well, so I don't think they will fall apart on me. The pages are not too stiff and the books can be made to stay open on their own. The contents are organized the same way throughout the series: 6-9 chapters elaborate on the life, work, historical context and cultural importance of the artist in question, which is followed by a short biography at the end. Sprinkled throughout are numerous captioned illustrations. The texts, which are in English, are informative and comprehensive. The images are printed well, quite clear and most of them not too small. With a number of the bigger paintings we are shown some details enlarged, but I wish they'd done that more. It would have been nice to be able to see works like Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights or Bruegel's The Triumph of Death more up close in these books. 
To conclude, for my needs I think these are well suitable. A valuable addition to my personal library, I think they will be pored over innumerable times in their future life with me.
The three books without their dust jackets.

Life and work summary.

Durer's woodcuts.
There is another one from the Taschen catalogue I must get at some point: Alchemy and Mysticism. Seems it contains sall sorts of esoteric art goodness.

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The second thing I wanted to show off today is my newest demonic commission for Urion - a snail creature. The concept was inspired by Junji Ito's graphic short story Slug Girl. The artist was a fairly recent discovery for me and I became an instant fan. He creates disturbing, outlandish graphic horror stories. Check out his work, you won't be disappointed.
Milliput, green stuff, pins and a butchered Ogre head.
Page from Slug Girl (1997) by Junji Ito.

Monday, 10 April 2017

CXXIII. Cult of Vvolos: An Enemy of the Cult

Janos the Cannibal, a ghoulish knight from a rival undead-ruled kingdom. On orders from his king, he roams the land on a quest to eliminate acolytes of the Daemon Vvolos. The king considers potential spreading of the chaotic cult into his own kingdom a threat. Janos is a ruthless slayer with particular hate for Chaos. He does not need the cultists alive, in fact he makes sure the ones he catches are thoroughly obliterated - by devouring their bodies. He has been questing for years now, and his trophy collection as well as his ever growing girth testify to his skill at his job. Yellow-robed acolytes tell terrifying tales of their brothers being caught and eaten alive by this monstrosity. Janos' Chaos-tainted diet is not without effect on his body, however, as visible from his tumorous sword hand. What if he ultimately ends up turning into what he despises?  
The shield design comes from the same Ian Miller piece as the shield on the skeleton Kettelhelm from earlier.
Janos the Cannibal is my entry for The Eclipse contest over at Ex Profundis. Well, it's more like a community challenge than a competition, really. I'm looking forward to seeing other people's witch hunters.
Janos is based on a Blightking, with a Banshee head and bits from a variety of other kits.

Painting WIP.
Painting WIP.
I'll build a warband around this character eventually. For now I have ideas for his steed (which he's become too corpulent to ride) and a skeletal squire. Maybe even a cart bearing his collection of trophies taken from all the slain cultists...

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Registrations are open for my club's annual summer tournament in July. Like every year, I'll be there since I am attending the Black Queen painting competition and the Malifaux tournament. Here's the official announcement:

Dear friends!

It is time for another (15th annual) Agram Arena Summer Tournament!

We are well in the second decade of organizing Arena events and this year's Agram Arena Summer is going to be held over a record three weekends:

08.07.2017. International Star Wars X-Wing Tournament
15-16.07.2017. International 40K Tournamenty + Hobby and miniature painting competition Black Queen!
22-23.07.2017. International Malifaux Tournament + demo/open gaming (22.7. Infinity & LOTR/Hobbit SBG and 23.7. Flames of War & Warmachine)

Location: MS "Cvjetni trg", Miskecov prolaz 3, Zagreb, Croatia.

Entry: FREE!

Refreshing drinks for all players will be free during the tournaments.

Accommodation for Saturday night is also free for the 1st-time-comers (read more in the rules)! Everyone else can be booked for the price of 13€ for the nights 8/9.7., 15/16.7 and 22/23.7, and 18€ for every other night you might need. The Hostel is in the centre of the city, with parking ensured and only 5 minutes walk from the venue.
Lunch is available at the price of 75 Kn (around 10 Euro) for both days (= 5 Euro/day)!

Check out the tournament rules & other info: ... AS2017.pdf

Official languages of the tournament will be English and Croatian!

Registration starts with the date of this announcement and ends on:
Star Wars X-Wing - 7th of JUNE
40K - 14th of JUNE
Black Queen - 14th of JUNE (not neccessary unless you need accommodation - see the rulespack)
Malifaux - 20th of JUNE
Demo Games / Open Play - 20th of JUNE (not neccessary unless you need accommodation - see the rulespack)
(you can find guidelines on registration in the rules (check out the above link))!

After these dates, players will be still able to register for the event but UMS "Agram" won't be able to make reservations for the accommodation

If you need any other information please contact us at or GSM +385 91 9122048

After the end of the registrations of each respective event (June 7th for X-Wing, June 14th for 40k and BQ and June 20th for Malifaux) it is no longer possible to cancel your accommodation and you will be billed for the accommodation at full price (18€ per night regardless of any discounts you might be elligable for). Also, the room assignements will be done once the registrations are final as we are not a tourist agency.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

CXXII. The Cult of Vvolos: Cultists

A new update on Iulia Docta-Sophosse's warband.

Dacre, Carteret and Maubenc, cultists of Vvolos.
Cultists have the mark of Vvolos branded on the backs of their shaved heads.Whereas higher ranking acolytes wear yellow, ones of lower status dress in dark-coloured robes.

Skaven Plague Monks were my base for these guys. This required removing the traces of Skavenness - head, tail, fur, feet. Same as with my conversion of Skrolk into a necromancer.
The two male heads are from Mantic Ghouls and the female one is from a Daemonette. I used green stuff and Milliput to rebuild the parts damaged during deratization.
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With the cultist trio completed I now have my entire starting warband of 10, ready to set off into the wilderness in search of treasure.
My next step on this project will be an adversary for Iulia's band. There is an AoS28 competition running at the moment, called The Eclipse. The topic is "witch hunter", but taken in a very broad sense. So my plan is to make a questing death knight from a rival necromantic kingdom, whose mission is to find and eradicate followers of the daemon Vvolos. This witch hunter knight will probably get a small retinue of his own eventually.