Friday, November 18, 2016

Haemonculus Venom Coven Conversion (Flesh Friday)

So, in case you're new around these parts, or I haven't talked about it enough, my main goal for my Haemonculus Coven of the Unmarred force is to create a converted, Haemonculus version of every non-haemonculus unit in the Dark Eldar Codex.

A long, long time ago, in a country far, far away, I came up with a concept for a Haemonculus Raider:

It's mostly a Raider with some gribly bits attached, and a Talos as its engine, and I'd played with the idea of having some spidery arms growing out of the middle of it for carrying its passengers. However, it never really worked for me, so I left the spidery arms off.

I've since given more thought to the Haemonculus Raider concept, and the idea of having passengers suspended from it on some kind of meat hooks, and when I make my revised concept for it, it's going to look a lot like this Coven Venom

The idea for the Coven Venom has been kicking around in my head, loosely formed, for about a year. I was messing around with Talos bits and Venom bits, seeing how they could tesselate, and discovered that the Talos body could fit perfectly in the hollow of the passenger deck for the Venom. 

However, it meant that a lot of things needed to be turned around: the wings and the thrusters were flipped, and something needed to be done about the canopy/fuselage. So I got to hacking and repositioning:

Next came some tinfoil filler and Apoxie Sculpt. 

With that filler, I could already see how well the carapace of the Talos bits could line up with the Venom's canopy/fuselage. On the other side, I also cut up the Venom's anti-grav rig and attached a bit of it to the bottom.

For the transport rack on the back, I used the spinal column-looking tail from the Talos kit, and I sculpted in some filler detail under the canopy/carapace using Apoxie Sculpt:

My concept was that, just like the Talos, this Venom would be exposed and fleshy beneath the carapace, and would look like the creature had been grown into the machine. It's similar to what I'd accomplished with my Haemonculus Reavers:

Here's a view of the filled in carapace from the front, where you can see the meticulously-cut-out-and-flipped air intake grills :P

For all my insistence on collecting forces that are mostly close combat based (Tyranids, Genestealer Cult, Dark Eldar), I still have this inexplicable love of shooting. Thus, I decided to model the Venom with two splinter cannons, and I saw no reason of mounting them each in different places. The whole thing still looked a lot like a jet, so I decided to mount them under the wings, like you might expect on a flyer. 

In this shot, you can also see the flipped-around thrusters:
Once I'd roughed out the shape of the carapace with tinfoil filler, covered in a smooth layer of Apoxie Sculpt, I set to work sculpting the carapace armour plates one at a time. If you've read my How To Sculpt Miniatures series of articles, you know that my second caveat is that patience is your friend. That means you need to take your time when working with green stuff of any kind of epoxy clay. Don't try to sculpt three carapace plates at once. Sculpt one. Let it set. Then sculpt the next.

That's exactly what I did here:

That being said, sculpting in-organic armour is HARD since things need to be symmetrical. As I was rushing this model for Armies on Parade, I tended to take the "JOBS A GOOD ONE" approach to the sculpting, not obsessing with having it as perfect as I could. 

Had I not been rushing to a deadline, this would be the point where I went back with files, sandpaper, and a dremel to clean up the lines of the carapace and smooth out imperfections. 

However, as I was rushing to a deadline, I hoped I could hide the roughness of the sculpting with a paint job that made the Venom look a little busted up and well-used. 

Next on the construction end came the transport rack. Like I mentioned, it is mostly a Talos tail, but I wanted to have some pretty twisted meathooks hanging off the back. A force as twisted as the Haemonculi would never let someone just stand comfortably on a transport deck when they could instead hang still-living flesh from organic, bone spur meathooks!
Ever since I came up with the idea of organic meathooks for the Raider concept. I'd been eye-balling the Tyranid Trygon Antennae as decent bits to stand in as weird spidery appendages. All it took was cutting them at the joints, pinning them back together with thin wire, then bending them into the desired shape.
For the actual hooks on the ends of the appendages, I repurposed the bone spurs from the ends of the bony wrack back growths.

And, if I was going to have this gross idea about carrying living troops around like sides of meat, I might as well illustrate it on the model with a passenger still hooked in.

When it came to painting, I had gotten some practice using Humbrol Masking Fluid on my Sector Imperialis bases to make them look rusted at points. Though I'd painted my coven Reavers to be very clean, I'd decided from here on out the Coven's vehicles should look like they'd seem some heavy usage, so I primed the Venom, rusted it up in places, and masked the rust with humbrol. I don't have progress photos of that, but I used the formula that Doctor Fauss suggested in his How To Paint a Talos video (I also use a modified version of his flesh recipe shown there).

Once I'd masked the rust with humbrol, I just airbrushed up the armour colours.
Once again, I wanted this Venom to look a lot dirtier than my reavers, so I used some Secret Weapon Baby Poop wash. I'd tried the green and sepia washes from GW when I was doing my reavers, but neither worked for me on their own. I'd experimented with Baby Poop on my Coven Wyches, and was so happy with the result that I decided to use it on the Venom.
Washing an area as large as this can get tricky, so I tried something new by applying a decent amount of the wash to the surface, then cleaned my brush but left it wet, then used the watery brush to move around the wash, clearing it from raised areas and leaving it pooled in recesses/lower areas.

It worked like a dream.

Then I went on to paint all the other bits and bobs, and finally it was time to remove the masking fluid on the craft and expose the rusted under bits. Like I detail in the tutorial on quick and dirty sector imperialis bases, the best way to remove dried humbrol masking with other dried humbrol masking fluid, like the stuff that's dried on the brush you used to apply it. Otherwise, an eraser also seems to work well...though I had a lot more trouble this time than on the bases, for some reason.

Here's a before and after photo of the top of the Venom:
Those rusty bits were not painted on; they were where I succeeded in removing the masking fluid.

Here's the whole top:
And here's the fully assembled, fully painted venom. It came out exactly as I'd hoped...infact maybe even a little better than I'd hoped! In the end the rough sculpting bits were not that noticeable, and the vehicle made a big splash at Armies on Parade!

And here's the Venom in situ, dropping off its cargo as part of my Armies on Parade board!


  1. Fair do's, that is spectacular (and very creepy). The whole thing works exceptionally well

    1. Thanks Naf! It feels rewarding to finally have the idea out of my head.

  2. This is amazing and pleasantly disturbing... well done!

    1. "Pleasantly Disturbing" is probably the best way to describe the style I aim for with my Haemonculus Coven :D

      I want them to be creepy and twisted, but still adhere to the Dark Eldar aesthetic, without gobs of blood splattered everywhere and random Cronos tentacles tacked on :P

  3. Killer work man! All the muscle work under the hull is very well executed and I am a big fan of what you've done with those Trygon bits. Well done!

    1. Thank you, sir Eli.

      The trygon bits were a stroke of luck, inspired by the fact that they already looked like insect legs. The muscle sculpting is probably not as amazing if you compare it to any real anatomy, but I've generally figured out how to sculpt passable musculature :)

  4. I love to see the converaion grow from pieces of kits to something new. Very nice job.

    1. I'm glad you appreciate the process :)
      It's tough when I mock these things up, without any of the intervening bits or sculpting. So, I feel like I need to call back to the early mock up shots to prove to people that I wasn't crazy.

  5. I'm not only impressed with your incredible conversion and paint job, which by themselves are amazing, but being able to peak into the steps along the way are awesome. Just seeing the steps "oh let me flip this around and create a whole new thing" is awesome to witness.

    1. Thanks Joe!

      The "Let me flip this around" instinct is something I learned from Tom Box/Bocks and Brother Hydra from the Warpshadow tyranid board. Bocks in particular had an uncanny gift for this kind of thing, which you can see on display in his albums here: