Hobby Time – Water Elementals

Its been a while since I blogged rather than just posted some pics so hello again MyWargame, here’s some hobby Neil of Orange style.

I’ve been working on a Kings of War Forces of Nature on and off for a little while now and really enjoyed the challenge of hunting down figures I like and doing something a bit different with the bases.  You can see most of the forces I had previously assembled in this post.  I’ve shown off some of the pictures around the web and other than the occasional question about where the models are from, the main thing I get asked is how I do the bases.  I’m not suggesting they are works of art or hard to do, but people have been interested to know, so I thought I’d share that and my latest unit, Water Elementals.

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So first step is assembling the materials.  I still have a large stash of GW movement trays from various time periods so I am working my way through the supply. You can make your own or find places like warbases.co.uk or battlezone.  I’ve got a variety from both places I’ll try out in future.  Here I’ve stuck two classic green trays together from 4th edition I think (they have an X-files collectable card stuck on the bottom if that helps date it!).  This tray has served me for many years as a unit movement tray for Warhammer, being 100mm x 120mm it was pretty useful for many units.  As it happens its the perfect size for 6 large infantry.

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Next I gathered the miniatures I was planning to use, some card and a handy cutting compass.  The minatures are Reaper Bones water elementals.  I had to wait a year for the kickstarter to deliver, then longer again for someone to actually sell them, but finally here they are!  Despite being nice transparent blue, I am going to paint them.  I had such fun and sense of achievement with the fire elementals I had to try.  I’ve mounted two of them on 60mm round bases.  These are from GW, but any will do.  In Kings of War its the base footprint of the unit that matters, not really the models on it.  There is some guidance around this, but I’m using really quite large elementals here, far larger than say the were wolves from the Undead army, so I like to think I get away with 2, I let my opponents know and generally its not a problem.
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The card I am using is pretty thick, its mounting board.  It takes some cutting, so be patient if you do the same!  Using the cutting compass, I’ve cut two circles large enough for the elemental bases to sit nicely in.

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With the circles removed its time to check the figures fit in – if the circles are too small it becomes a real pain once the models are painted and the base decorated.  My centaurs and wolves are quite tight fits in some cases, so I tend to be a little generous and allow wiggle room now.

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So great, yes they fit.  Now I PVA (White) glued the card to the base.  Leave to dry overnight if you can.  Now most of my not lava bases follow this method (without the snow), but for these guys…

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…now the difficult bit.  My plan for the elementals was to have them moving around in their own swirling pool of water.  This meant sculpting something onto the movement tray and their bases.  I’m not a very well practiced sculptor, but I thought I’d give it a try.  I used B&Q Wood Filler here, I’ve had some success with it to make ponds so I thought why not.

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I was really pleased with the tray effect, really just covering it from end to end with filler (with added water to make it easier to smooth) and then using a basic sculpting tool I made some wiggly lines in what I hoped would be a good pattern for ripples/waves in the water.  What was key here was to cut into the filler at a bit of an angle – consistently in the direction you want to water to be moving in.  The filler takes a little while to set so you get a few goes at it!  Buoyed with success I went on to add texture to the bases of the miniatures as well, trying to blend into both the tray and the models themselves.  The swirl was much more deliberate on these and again I was really pleased with how it looked.

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So pleased but still worried it wasn’t going to work, I undercoated the lot, eager to see how it looked with an even colour.  I was really happy at this point – looks like the texture worked.  I also remembered to fill the gap on the movement tray after undercoating as well.IMG_3656

Moving onto painting can be a bit daunting.  Picking a pallette of colours is never easy for me – the end effect of a good paint job can be ruined by a bad choice of even the last highlight.  With water I was struggling to find a good guide as well, the Fire Elementals were inspired by one I found.  Here then is the colours I decided to use (and this way I can remember myself should I need to repeat this).  What’s not shown above but you’ll see in a few pics below is the really old GW Space Marine Dark Blue I used as an initial base.  Its shiny and very dark indeed – you can probably add a bit of gloss and black to Kantor Blue to achieve the same thing.  You may not want the shiny either – but I think it works on the water by the end.

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Argh!  Blue!  Shiny!  Had I made a mistake?  Only one way to tell.  Press on.  At this point I rushed the movement tray a bit to see if things were working.  I was using a wet brush technique, basically slapping on a lot of paint in one direction, leaving some darker colour in the recesses, but its a much more generous amount of paint than a dry brush leaves.  I was also using a big brush at this point rather than a dry brush.  I worked up through Kantor and Macragge in this way, then switched to drybrushing for Calgar and Fenrisian.  Finally a light drybrush of white was applied to the very top ridges.

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It seemed to be working, so inspired by success I moved to the elementals themselves.  Same colour progression on the creatures, only now I focused the lighter colours more deliberately where I thought should look lighter.

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You can see the colours coming through in these couple of shots.

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At last then, the final pictures of the finished pieces. I’ve taken a few shots in different light as the blues and shine really vary based on where you stand and the nature of the light they are seen in -a bit like real water!

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Hopefully you can see what I’ve managed to achieve here (including a stray dog hair on this one).

IMG_3677…and because I read Ninjabread back in the day, here’s the proof I did the bits you can’t see.

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