Saturday, 13 April 2019

Rockgut Troggoth – Part 1

When Games Workshop (GW) released their new plastic Rockgut Troggoths I knew straightaway that I would paint one. For one thing I wanted a painting project to work on while I was engaged in the construction of my Nurgle tank. An even better reason is my forthcoming weekend at Element Games and these models are perfect for a painting workshop. But, in truth, the main reason these models grabbed my attention was that one of them was an old friend!

Believe it or not I’ve a great liking for Trolls and in my early years of painting I built up quite a collection. That reached a climax of sorts in 1987 when I entered my most recent Troll into the Golden Demon and won Gold in the monster category. That particular Troll was poised with a rock over his head ready to hurl it at some poor unfortunate. It’s a model that’s cropped up, in one form or another, a few times over the years and the latest incarnation is included among the new Rockgut Troggoths.

I’m very fond of my old Troll and even though I painted him a long time ago I can remember doing so quite clearly. I think that’s because I began to develop the approach to painting that has, ultimately, led to my current style with this model. This is the first model painted by my adult self and, although I had a long way to go, it has the foundation of what was to come in terms of materials and techniques! As with my Nurgle Tank I thought it would be an interesting, and fun, project to revisit this ‘old friend’ and see what I would do with him in 2019 compared to 1987.

The new model is plastic and compared to the old metal mini that makes a world of difference. Once again GW have knocked it out of the park with the sculpt. Unlike the old mini the new ones are multi-part and require construction. Prep is my least favourite part of the process but it’s crucial because any corners cut during prep will come back to haunt you during painting. The new models have multiple assembly options that can create a surprising range of variants! The down side of this is that the assembly is a little more involved than I like.

The kit had quite a few seams to fill although none were especially difficult. GW had managed to put most of these in the creases and natural seams between the various parts of the model. I decided to use Mr. Disolved Putty to fill the joins and, once sanded, it did the job admirably. A liquid filler can be a bit messier to use than a putty, but it's easier to get it into fine gaps. With all the prep done my Troggoth was ready for some paint, so I had to make some choices about a colour pallete!

Monday, 8 April 2019

Hobby Update ... What Sproket did next.

Not so very long ago I’d resigned myself to a quiet low-key sort of year for my hobby. I’d had to cancel a couple of workshops while my partner Mark was recovering from his illness and it didn’t look very likely that I would be making it to any painting competitions either. I was OK with this; after all you need to get your priorities in order. The unanticipated benefit was that I became totally free to paint for the love of painting again and, as I gradually get back up to speed, I’m finding that extremely rewarding.

But now I suddenly find myself with lots to talk about because over the last few weeks the pace of life has really picked up! I’m planning to revisit some of these topics in more detail in subsequent posts. But for the time being this is a round up of sorts, to get this blog up-to-date, before things move on any further.

Artis Opus Series D

I’ve been associated with Artis Opus for about a year now as one of their ‘signature’ artists. This means that I’m among a group of well-known painters who have been using their brushes and have agreed to lend their names and reputation to promoting them. I do that because I really do use Artis Opus brushes and I think they are excellent.

A few weeks ago Byron from Artis Opus contacted me with a very interesting proposition. He’s been working on a new range of brushes (series D) designed specifically for dry brushing. Byron wondered if I’d be willing to try the brushes out ‘on camera’ as part of the promotion for the new kickstarter campaign. Now I’ve always been a ‘fan’ of dry brushing and feel it’s much maligned in some circles. So I agreed to go up to Stockport for a day of filming.

I had a bit of an ulterior motive, as this would give Mark and myself the opportunity to have a little break. Since Mark left hospital we’ve been restricted in how far we could travel or how long we could stay out. But we felt the time was now right to be a bit more adventurous. If you can really call Stockport adventurous!

The weekend was a great success on all accounts! Mark coped well with the travel and unaccustomed activity and I had a great time painting and filming. Not least because I was filming alongside Bohun an artist I’ve long admired. I’d anticipated a day of dry brushing but what I actually got was the chance to see Bohun’s individual take on the technique and have my mind opened to it’s potential which goes well beyond my own rather pedestrian notions!

I will definitely be posting more about dry brushing and series D in the near future.

You can find the kickstarter here.

Salute 2019

As the trip to Stockport went well we decided we could venture out again and the most obvious thing was a trip to Salute 2019. Unfortunately when the day came I had a bit of a cold and really wasn’t operating at 100% but we’ve done Salute enough times now that it has the ease of familiarity. We both found the day extremely tiring but were glad we went. It was so good to see old friends and acquaintances and in many ways the day felt like a return to ‘business as usual’ after a long interruption.

Of course one of the main reasons for going to Salute was the painting comp. My choice of entries was limited to two. My Isharan Tidecaster and my Sloppity Bilepiper. I was well aware that this might be my only painting comp this year so my choice was an important one. I’m very pleased with both minis but unfortunately they were eligible for the same category so I had to choose.

In the end that was fairly simple as I think the Slopity Bilepiper is the stronger of the two. It’s the model I painted to get back into my hobby and I lavished a lot of time and attention on it. As a result I’d been able to finesse the details to a high standard and it was the mini I was most confident about. This isn’t to say I’m not pleased with the Tidecaster but I think she will benefit from a few tweaks. But that’s for another day and, maybe, another painting comp.

As I said I wasn’t quite feeling 100% and I managed to miss the start of the awards ceremony for the comp. That definitely wasn’t very cool because my Sloppity Bilepiper won Gold in Fantasy Single Figure and I missed the announcement! In spite of that I’m very happy with the result and glad I chose the right mini on the day!

Sproket does Troggoths.

Now it’s time to look ahead and to something I’m eagerly anticipating! On Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd June I will be returning to Element Games to run a painting workshop. I had several ideas for a subject model but the new Rockgut Trogoths from Games workshop are ideal. There will, of course, be the chance to explore the painting of textures and ‘lifelike’ flesh tones but these models also offer the chance to get to grips with painting volumes and forms in a way that many smaller minis don’t. I’ve been busily preparing for the workshop and my own take on a Rockgut Trogoth is coming along rather nicely.

Booking details will be available from Element Games very soon and I’ll publish them as soon as they are confirmed.

Artis Opus - Behind the Brush, with David Soper

Monday, 11 March 2019

Sculpting a head for my Nurgle Demon Engine

As I said in my last post I toyed with the idea of using the heads from the plastic Great Unclean One on my new demon Engine. To be honest this was down to a lack of confidence in my sculpting abilities. A triple headed demon was not without some merit, but it was never going to be the solution for this project. Deep down I always knew I was going to have to sculpt a head if I wanted to stay true to the spirit of the 1990 tank! Trying out three heads also made it very clear to me that the new head needed to be much larger than those from the plastic kit. On my old tank the head was formed from the gun turret and I definitely wanted a new head of similar size and bulk.

I’ve not really sculpted anything since I started painting minis again in 2010. But in the years immediately prior I’d begun to explore sculpting in some depth. In fact it was my venture into sculpting that led me back to mini painting. I got into customizing Dr Who Action Figures and rapidly became dissatisfied with simply chopping and swapping various parts. Over time I developed some limited sculpting skills and familiarized myself with the materials and techniques.

My venture into sculpting enabled me to make my own figures but as I was sculpting ‘action’ figures their poses were very stiff and static. The examples above show how far I had come and in time I might have further developed but one thing led to another and mini painting reclaimed my full attention.

So there I was having decided to resurrect my sculpting skills and feeling more than a little daunted. At that point it struck me that I really had nothing to lose. If it all went wrong I could bin it and start again and in the worst case I could explore the triple headed option. My inhibitions had been born of a fear of failure but I now felt perfectly happy to give it a go!

I now had to decide what I was going to sculpt the head out of. This decision is complicated for me as I’m very allergic to most epoxy putties. My three main options were:

Super Sculpey firm.

I ‘d gravitated towards this polymer clay as the default for my action figure sculpts. It remains workable until baked but, even then, it can be added to and re-baked. In addition, I’m not allergic to polymer clay.


The great advantage of milliput is that once set it can be easily sanded, carved and drilled. It responds very well when mixed with water and can blend seamlessly with other materials. Unfortunately milliput triggers my allergy, and if it touches my bare skin, I will blister in a few hours.


This is very soft and sticky when first mixed and as it sets it becomes firm but flexible. It never becomes totally hard and can be tricky to sand or carve. Greenstuff can also prove difficult to blend into other materials. If I handle greenstuff with due caution I suffer only minimal effects at worse.

I would have liked to use Super Sculpey but because I would be incorporating elements from plastic kits into the head this ceased to be an option. Plastic kits and hot ovens do not mix! Therefore I decided to use Greenstuff to sculpt the head. Greenstuff has the added advantage of being good for creating soft fleshy textures and organic forms.

I’ve found it best to work in stages allowing each stage to firm up before I work on top of it. This prevents the problem of overworking the forms and flattening out the volumes. It also provides a stable surface to work on. There is nothing worse than perfecting one side of something only to find that you have also pushed out and distorted the opposite side!

To begin this process I needed an armature to support my sculpting. In this case the best armature for my head would be more than a little like a skull. This gave me a solid foundation to work on and provided an underlying structure for the muscles and flesh. The face was then built up in several stages incorporating the plastic elements as it developed.

At times I needed to sand the Greenstuff and this can be a problem. As it remains slightly soft and flexible Greenstuff can sometimes go rough, or even tear along its edges, when sanded. I’ve found that wet sanding almost always overcomes these problems. I use a waterproof (silicon carbide) sandpaper and gently work down from P320 to P2000. This also works well for sanding resin and plastic.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Project P30 – Building a ‘better’ tank.

I first posted this project back in December 2017 and said it would be bubbling away in the background. Never was there a truer word as my updated predator has been constantly on my mind even if it wasn’t on my desk! I’ve been considering what kits to use and how to bring them together into one cohesive entity. This has been tricky because, although I had a concept and ‘feel’ for what I wanted to achieve, my ideas were very amorphous.

I needed to start tinkering with actual models in order to get the new tank out of my head and into physical reality. Once I started arranging the elements with adhesive putty, I’d be able to play with different concepts and compositions. The first step was to build the predator tank.

Although I won't be using this tank as I'd first imagined
it will have a place in the project before all is done.
And there the project stalled! Something felt wrong and I couldn’t put my finger on what it was for some time. When I finally realised what wasn’t ‘doing it’ for me it was a bit of a shocker because I didn’t like the tank I was using!

I’d chosen the old style Predator Tank as a direct homage to my 1990 model. That seemed like an obvious choice but it felt unsuitable for what I wanted to achieve this time around. The old tank has a rigid boxy shape and my instincts were to use something more rounded and organic. For a long time I struggled and eventually realised that if I used the old style tank I would be fighting against it throughout the entire project.

I decided to let go of the old and embrace the new. This project was, after all, an updated version of an old concept and not a recreation. It took me a while, and a fair bit of agonizing, to make this choice but once I did it felt right. The new Tank I decided to use was the Death Guard Plagueburst Crawler. To be honest I’m appalled I ever considered anything else. It’s a Nurgle tank with a rounded form and organic details and if it had been around in 1990 I’d have used it then without hesitation. The new tank will take full advantage of the range of kits now available.

So the first big decision for Project P30 is that the new Predator isn’t a Predator after all!

Things then progressed at a slow but steady pace. I put the core of my tank together and then experimented with an assortment of extra kits. Straightaway I could see that the Plagueburst Crawler lent itself to the concept. It’s organic shape worked well in combination with the various ‘body parts’. I was now able to decide upon which exact parts I would be using for the major elements of the build. I’ve decided to use the torso from the plastic Great Unclean One as the basis for the torso of my demon engine. The arms will come, in part from the Chaos Maulerfiend but what about the head?

This has been one of the big questions I’ve had from the start. On the original tank I sculpted a face onto the Predator’s turret creating a head. With the new model I wanted a more fully emerged demon and that called for a distinct head and torso. I played with the head options from the Great Unclean One and considered having three heads. Three is, after all, a very nurglish number. But, although it had some possibilities, I felt it was a timid solution and not a true reimagining of the original.

This mock-up could hardly be rougher
but it's the first step in what feels like the right direction!

I was pussy footing around the idea of sculpting a head from scratch. It’s been a few years since I’ve done any sculpting and the idea was pushing me way out of my comfort zone. There was only one solution I’d have to man up and break out the green stuff!

Monday, 4 February 2019

Sloppity Bilepiper Part 4

Apologies for the lack of regular post on this blog but with all my old routines gone my painting and posting is more than a little erratic. In truth I’ve decided to focus my hobby time on painting with social media and blogging taking a back seat for the time being. This is working out very nicely for me as I’m getting a little more painting time and, most importantly, I’m enjoying myself.

In my last post I had just about finished the Sloppity Bilepiper but I'd yet to paint his base. With the luxury of a little more time I’ve now done that and it feels so good to have completed a project. The process has been fairly intense as there was a lot of going back and forth to tweak some of the details.

As the Bilepipe, his nurgling companion and the base came together many of the tones, hues, textures and finishes were adjusted to balance out the overall composition. It was all a bit fiddly and in some places very subtle but it’s really helped to tie the elements together. It’s been a satisfying experience to finesse a project without any deadline pressure.

The base incorporates my first use of resin water effects for creating the puddle the Bilepiper is stepping in. Admittedly it’s a cautious use of resin but I wanted to start off with something straightforward before getting more adventurous. I can see myself doing more water bases in my future.

I’d initially intended to keep the slime and drips to a minimum but as the project developed I realised this was not the right mini for that approach. He is after all called a SLOPPITY Bilepiper and that suggests more than a little sloppyness. So out came the microbeads, UHU glue and plenty of gloss varnish. My Bilepiper is now appropriately sloppy and is pipes are oozing bile!

In contrast to the slime I wanted to add some rough textures for the mould and corrosion. In the past I would have used my old friend baking powder but I’ve finally found what seems to be a perfect replacement. Chinchilla bathing powder, a mixture of mineral sand and calcium powder, has the right texture and best of all takes and holds colour very well! Fingers crossed it will, unlike baking powder, be stable over the long term.

So there we have it, the finished Sloppity Bilepiper. I started this as a ‘quickie’ after Mark came home from hospital but, as usually happens, the project drew me in and I’ve invested a lot of time into it. But I think it’s been time well spent because I’m very happy with the finished result and painting the Bilepiper has helped me get into the swing of a new painting routine!