Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Old Strains: Old One Eye Conversion - Hel

To build up some content on the site, I'm going to be posting a few of my past projects that were kind of like milestones in my development as a sculptor. I'll call them "Old Strains," and you can feel free to check them out if you're curious.

Hel Scale

Way back in the summer of 2004, I made my first true foray into the world of sculpting when I attempted to convert a pewter Old One Eye model into something that looked a little more imposing than the old grinning rhino. The project was meant to be a Golden Demon entry for Games Day Toronto 2004, but, as it was my first time entering a Golden Demon competition, I had very little idea how stiff the competition could be. Thus, though I made it past the first cut, my rough sculpting and only slightly-better-than-table-quality paint job left me beat by other 40K large models that were whole worlds better than mine.

Still, it was a good experience, and I was (and, looking back on it now, am still) very proud of what I'd accomplished with so little former experience with greenstuff/sculpting.

Though the project became a Golden Demon one, the real inspiration to start it came from a concept sketch by Dave Gallagher (I think) in the back of the old GW Inquis Exterminatus sketchbook.

Carnifex Sketch

I've been a big fan of concept sketches ever since watching a friend's older brother create comic-perfect pencil drawings of characters to run in his D&D games. As I've progressed into the world of conversion and sculpting, I've found concept sketches to always be the most inspiring thing for kicking off projects. They are detailed enough to provide you with a good framework for a new model, but the white space in them still yawns wide enough to allow you your own interpretations.

The significance of Gallagher's sketch for me was due to it coming at a time when the new plastic carnifex was still only a wonderful dream being brandied about by Jes Goodwin without any realistic date as to when we'd see it in production. I fanatically hoped that when the new plastic 'fex did arrive, it would be based on this concept sketch. As I was impatient, I elected to take a stab at the concept myself rather than waiting to see if it would be the basis for the plastic carnifex whenever it surfaced.

Unfortunately, I didn't take many photos of the project in progress, and the few that I did take are pretty weedy/small. Here's a photo of the components (don't bother clicking it; it doesn't get any bigger):

Hel Components

That's mostly the pewter Old One Eye model, but the chest/head area has been sculpted over the chest/head of the fantastic 40K pewter daemon prince that served Chaos so well for so many years. I threw in some plastic scything talons for good measure and created my own hooked talons from plasticard. The majority of the model, though, was roughed out in horrid horrid plumbers putty.

The black bits in particular were crafted from this coarse stuff that started off with a consistency like plasticine but would harden to a sandable/fileable solid in something disturbingly close to 20 minutes. And the whole while the stuff was setting up, it would produce a mild exothermic reaction. Living now in the wonderful world of Apoxie Sculpt, I can't believe that I was able to create so much of this model and sculpt basic details into such an unforgiving putty.

Thankfully, I was quick enough to sculpt the really fiddly areas using greenstuff.

Here's how Hel came together (again, don't bother clicking):


And here's how she looked once I'd gotten some paint on her:

Hel Above
Hel Back
Hel Profile
Hel Under

Here's the detail of the custom base my brother sculpted for me:


It wound up being too small of the beast of a 'Fex I tried to position on top of it, but he had done such a nice job that I couldn't not use it. I'd named my Hive Fleet "Fenrir" as I liked the way that Norse mythology and the prophecy about Fenrir and Odin could be applied to a Tyranid Fleet, and I wanted to roll that out by naming different Tyranid Monstrous Creatures after mythological characters like Loki, Jormugandr, etc. As Hel was meant to be half alive and half dead, she seemed like the perfect character to bring to life in as Old One Eye. The imagery on the base attempts to pick up on this Life/Death theme.

Though I can still look back on Hel and smile at the honest job I did, she wasn't perfect, and I often think about going back to that original sketch, this time using a plastic carnifex as the basis, to make the bad-ass-est close combat Monsterfex you ever did see.

Ah well. One day.

(Also, if you want to witness me being a newb, here's the original thread when I posted Hel to Warpshadow)

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