Saturday, September 19, 2015

Sculpting Projects Image Dump - Sculpting Kwiell

Many of you may know of my Ikwen.- the freedom fighting, alien militia designed for scifi assymetric warfare. Well, part of the dream for this project has always been to flesh out the world of the Ikwen beyond their fighting forces. This means terrain and animals.

One way to really make a homeland fight feel real is to have local livestock. Farm animals always seem to get in the line of fire, whether as resource objectives, cannon fodder, or even obstacles for covert operations.


So far I have come up with a pig/sheep/goat analog I call a Silt Pig. For these I am working on a male, female, and litter of young. Because every farm needs a nuissance predator, I also created Kwiell's equivalent of a fox/coyote - the Pig Sucker.



Scenery has been fun. Much of it I have taken from my existing library of sketches or from converted terrain. Using a combination of 100% sculpted and converted seed pods I have developed a host of features from the strange Shelter Tree, covered in fungus and secondary growth. Clusters of strange tube plants and geothermal vents form alien, open air reefs. Even an alien beast skull and insect hive have joined the group.



Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sculpting Without a Net

After finishing my last big push of planned sculpts, I really have been trying to find a way to not do my usual thing which is to pull back from sculpting entirely. I am not sure why, but in the past, finishing a bunch of work has always left me feeling like I needed to step away but this always meant having to get back into the swing of things when I started back up again. This time I decided to fill the time between planned projects with some free form sculpting.

This pretty much came down to fast concept, or sculpting without concepts. Sculpting on a whim is a great way to express your creative drive but it is also an experiment in success and failure. And idea may not pan out or it may prove a bit challenging for my current skill set. Some of these get abandoned, but more often a "waste not want not" principal takes over and they get morphed into something different.

The end result of all of this has been the unexpected addition of several potential product lines for Loud Ninja Games. Things still need to be finished and worked out before they become true products, but the end results of the sculpting is worthy and I plan to explore the options of producing them as product. This should be fun and I feel this method of working, especially for my own label is the way to go.

I have no set universe for my miniatures and even the main scifi ranges are only loosely affiliated in the same universe (this may change). This means that it is currently pretty easy to insert new alien races and factions into my range, allowing free-form sculpting to function as a viable development router and having the added bonus of keeping the creative juices flowing. The biggest problem I can foresee with this method is producing stuff faster than I can release it.

We shall just have to see,


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sometimes Art Just Works

Every so often when I am sculpting, I mix up more putty than I need for what I am working on. Most of the time, I have another sculpt that I can put it to but every so often I am in a place where there is nothing that can be done on any of my existing projects or I do not have them around. Depending on how much putty I have left over I'll usually do little bits and what I call "doodle" sculpts. This time, however, I had a substantial amount of green stuff left. So, I decided to grab a stray wire frame and try my hand at making a truly alien alien.

The initial results were pretty satisfying and what I ended up with is something I like to think of as a land mollusk gone intelligent species. I made it tripodal so as to enforce the alien appearance. I also decided against any obvious limbs and a face, giving it a fourth appendage that is a sort of combination of sensory and feeding apparatus - a "head". The initial sculpt was simple but relatively undefined and the putty didn't go far enough to fill in all the gaps.

I had my start and what was a random push of putty with some leftovers now gave me the foundation to start to work on something fun and new.

Deciding that the shell lacked texture and that the silhouette was a bit soft, I mixed up some procreate and started shaping a couple of striated shells spires ad flared out the bottom edge of the shell. This was textured with some ridging to make it look more like the barnacles I have seen at the beaches. I also added a bit of shell around the neck hole.

Looking over the legs they seemed to need some bulking up and some more texture. So I fleshed them out with some wrinkly tissue, trying to avoid any hardly defined limbs. I was going for a sort of fluid musculature like we see with some invertebrate life.

Again I mixed too much putty and so I shaped it into the first of the two weapon systems (see above).

I started with the basics of some sort of heavy weapon and a missile pod. These were designed with a sort of biotech style. I didn't want to go with the whole weaponized organism style that are popular with many biological weapons, but more the idea that these were still machines but built with biological components. Of course, if they had weapons they now needed a way to weld them in battle.

While a single manipulating limb might allow them to work together to develop technology and of course that technology would lead to other technologies to aid in their existence, battle requires the ability to manipulate a weapon in a useful and effective manner. Enter manipulator harnesses.

These aliens would have developed artificial manipulators to help them with technical and military applications. I constructed the manipulator arm with a ball at the end and all the weapons have a universal cup to mate up with the ball. The base of the arm will also have a ball on it that will fit into a socket in the part of the harness system that will be sculpted on the body. This will allow the finished model to allow some variation in the configuration of the weapon.

I have to admit that this sculpt that started as a whimsical jaunt with some spare putty has captured my imagination and really inspired me to try new things and a complex design. It'll be fun to see where it goes.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Building my New 4 x 4 Gaming Board

I have been in need of a proper 4 x 4 gaming board for some time now. While there is nothing wrong with a roll away mat and my dining room table, I wanted something a bit more durable and larger for use with 15mm scifi games. So, I figured it was high time to make one.

I already had the perfect 4 x 4 plywood off-cut laying around from another project and that would make the perfect start. The rest of the materials were things I had laying around as well from other hobby projects, so not a single new thing was bought for this project.

The first step was to lay on a good coat of Deck Restore. I like the 10X stuff because it tends to stay where I put it and provides a good solid coating which works well for adding to terrain projects. I should also note that Deck Restore does come in colors but I had the clear stuff on hand.
I was rather unceremonious about the application of the Deck Restore and started by pouring out a good amount of the can into the middle of the board. I then spread this around, changing direction a lot so as to minimize patterns in the stuff.

The final step in the application was to come back after about 20 minutes, with the material having set a bit and then distressing it some more for the look I wanted. Don't be too worried about texture after you apply it. Gravity will smooth a lot of those.

After the Deck Restore dries and hardens (24 hrs unless you leave it out in the summer heat), I went over it with a brush of a basic sandy color that I picked up at Home Depot in their paint department. I should note that this wasn't painted on but was still wetter than a dry brush. I more fanned a semi-loaded brush over the surface to catch most of the details.

Just as an aside, I cruise the paint department for mismatched or returned sample jars that they sell off for a pittance. It's easy to build up a collection of handy colors this way.

Once the base color was dry enough, I then went around adding some irregular splotches of other color by spraying on several colors of spray paint. I used tans and even a light olive color. The idea here is to break up the monotony of the tan base.

The final step was to stain the whole thing and bring it all together. I chose a Honey Cherry stain. A small 0.5 liter can was enough for the whole board. Again, not a lot of care was taken in the application here. I poured the entire can into the general area of the middle of the can, making an irregular pool. The only care I took here was to keep the precious color on the board.

After the can was empty, I then took my brush and pushed the stain out for the middle, making sure that ever part of the board got some and that too much wasn't pooling in any one place. This produced a nice irregular orange-ish sand coloration that looks quite nice. 

The end result is a durable and lushly colored earth tone and textured board. While it makes for a desert board easily enough, the color is neutral enough to really work for most ground types. Adding foliage will make it seem less barren and structures added could make it look like lived on ground.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Interesting Thrift Store Finds

A few weeks back I was shopping for a couple of items for the new dog and stumbled across these decorative, "inspirational" bowls. I immediately thought that these shapes were useful. As a gamer, modeler and scratch builder I always like to snag these sorts of things when I find them because they tend to not be there on a return visit. So, I put aside a couple of other, more frequently available hobby supplies and bought these instead.

So, what do I plan to do with them? I am not exactly sure. They would be a bit awkward looking as a boat hull as they are equally rounded at either end. I suppose they could be made into some sort of oddball vessel. Flipped upside down they take on many more possibilities. 

Upside down, i see potential for everything from a VSF landship to the protruding hull of a submarine. This could also make a nice platform to build some MaK/SF3D styled vehicles. The flat bottom becomes a nice mounting point for all manner of doodads. It would be a bit cramped for a deck in 28mm, but 15mm would have some tight space to move and that works as many smaller boats are not all that user friendly.

I have yet to decide on any specific projects for them, but I am always looking for something new and these just seemed like they could be useful.


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Kickstarter Alert - Stars of Empire

This looks interesting. I am not in a position to back the project at this time but it seems worth mention and I thought I would spread the word. 

I must admit that I am intrigued by the concept of "hard scifi Victorian science fiction".

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Clearing the Board

As I get back into the swing of regular sculpting, the first order of business is to clear out stuff that has been languishing unfinished. To this end I have pulled out the trusty white board and listed out the various projects that have commercial viability.

Most of these are for LNG with a few obligations to's SHM range also up there. Some have been in the most early of stages while others, as the numbers will show, have been sitting half completed or more for ages.

Why? Best not to ask.

The good news is that it is working. The gaps on the white board are where projects were once listed, meaning I have managed to clear a few. I will not be adding more projects to the list until these are all finished. This does not mean I am not sculpting on other things, but that I am not adding them to the official queue until I have cleared my desk of lingering projects.

Yay progress!

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