Monday, November 8, 2010

From my head, to the gaming table: A Copycat's Struggle.

With a product line as vast as Games Workshop's, it is easy to find inspiration.  But then how do we move forward when our inspirations lie elsewhere?  A few words on the unforeseen pitfalls of "borrowed" iconography to follow...

Honestly, the Games Workshop line of models, including Forge World, are pretty nice.  Sure, arguments can be made about the price of a few ounces of plastic, but I firmly believe that the craftsmanship and finished product are well worth the price of admission.  The artistry presented is varied and imaginative, and it really isn't too hard to find an inspirational model in their catalogs, just aching to be painted.  That said, there are times when a certain archetypal itch comes over me, and I am forced to re-assess my options.

When I started working on my Daemon army, I had a very clear aesthetic in mind.  After watching the video games and film version of Silent Hill, I was inspired by the vision presented.  Flayed muscle, barbed wire, rust and chain-link fence, had been united in a way that I had not seen before.  Certain images were obviously rooted in the film Hellraiser, but the specific palate came from the Silent Hill series.  The color scheme was the easy part, and I will go over my "skinned flesh" recipe in the near future.  I certainly enjoyed painting Nurgle models in a color other than green!  But as for the form of the models... how could I represent such specific ideas with GW products?

First of all, I experimented with a variety of barbed wire bases.  I have used both the GW spiral "razor-wire", as well as the Forge World brass barbed wire.  Both products were interesting, and worked well for different purposes.  You can see a close-up of the "crown of thorns" style blindfold I made for my Epidemius model above.  What is worth noting, is that the model itself is from the Inquisitor range, and is therefore significantly larger than your standard GW heroic 28mm:
I tried to use both wires to achieve the effect I wanted, but no matter how I applied the wire, the scale just didn't work for me.  The thickness of both the GW razorwire and the Forge World etched brass barbed wire, was almost the width of a zombie model's wrist.  The illusion was broken.  This meant that my visions of wire-bound and twisted zombie plaguebearers, would not work.

Looking back, I wish I had tried using black thread.  While the thread would not accept paint or really have the same profile as barbed wire, the ultra-thin appearance would have been perfect for the scale.  And who knows; maybe tying a tiny scrap of thread every half inch would have given the appearance of barbs.  Sure, I was happy with my Soul Grinders, Daemon Princes and Beasts of Nurgle, but the Plaguebearers, the most numerous models in this collection, were far from satisfactory.  My vision was incomplete.

This story does not have a happy ending.  I simply wanted to write a bit about the struggle of having a vision BEFORE the work begins.  I guess what I am trying to say, is that while dreaming is a helpful activity, those images and ideas are going to have to be somewhat malleable if your finished product is going to remain satisfying.  Or maybe I am just too lazy to go back and do the models correctly.



  1. Spiderwire Fishing Line. Accepts paint, super durable, ties well with some help (pliers) and is the right scale.

    But I totally understand. I have a million ideas that I'm not talented enough to accomplish, so most of my stuff has the ILLUSION of what I want.

  2. This hits me right on the head. Right when I start a project I see the Army as having such promise, to models exactly where I want them to be in my head. Then I start work and realize that I cant make them work out as well as I wanted.

    I started my latest World Eater army by resigning to making the models look nice and then pray that they come out well in the painting process.

    So far that has worked out.

    I think we all get disappointing projects every now and then, the best course of action is sometimes to just except it and move on.

  3. Hit up a hobby store like Michaels and they have wire mesh you could cut and very thin wire you can twist. (higher the "gauge", thinner the wire) Could cut up lots of little sections of the wire and glue it as barbs. They also carry chains for necklaces and wristbands that are 40k scale.

    Pipe cleaners also work as barbed wire, just burn off all the glitter. (though they're usually still kinda thick)

    Honestly, I like the barded wire you have around his face. Considering what beasties lie in the 40k universe, barbed wire is going to be thicker.

  4. Consider using what is called magnet or bell wire. It is flexible enameled copper wire offered in a variety of gauges up to about the thickness of a 28mm scale strand of hair. Since it already has an enamel on it, it should handle paint well.

    Another thing to keep in mind is how to twist your wire. you can make a great braided wire effect by taking your wire and folding it in half. slide the loop over something to hold it (a screwdriver in a vise works well for this) and grasp the loose ends in a power drill. Give it a couple spurts and you have nice even twists.