Sunday, August 30, 2009

How To: Obsidian Rune Bases

Recently a created a new basing theme for my Neverborn Malifaux models and figured I'd write up a tutorial for it. As is often my strategy, I like to have a basing scheme where the base is relatively efficient to produce multiples of, echos the right ambiance for the group of models, and creates a unique style for the models. My goal here was to create something that evoked an ancient and magical feel. After kicking around a number of ideas, I arrived at the concept of rune-carved short obsidian pillars.

What I used:
* Super Sculpy - Available at craft stores. It's a bakeable clay that I find is durable and yet can be carved.
* Hose Clamps - Various sizes that match your bases.
* Parchment Paper - Standard baking paper.
* Gloss Coat - I used Testors spray on gloss coat.
* Craft Knives - Duh... when do you not need these?
* Hobby Cutters - The standard kind that they sell for miniature modeling.
* Paints - I used the following P3 paints: Morrow White, Cygnus Yellow, Necrotite Green, Iosan Green, Gnarls Green, Coal Black, Underbelly Blue, Thamar Black, Armor Wash

The Process:
Before I start the process, I want to quickly note about hose clamps. If you've never seen these before, they are automotive hose clamps, available at any automotive parts store. To "operate" them you use a screwdriver to tighten and loosen them. When you turn the screw it increases/decreases the circumference of the clamp. These aren't perfect circles but close enough for my purposes and the advantage of the hose clamp is that it can be loosed to release the formed putty without any sort of pressing.
The first step is to create the pillar shapes. To do this I first measure the base so that I know how big I need to create it. In this case (and for the rest of this tutorial) I'll be using a small 30mm base. The same process applies to any other size base.
Then I adjust the hose clamp until it matches the size measured. It's important to leave just a little bit of wiggle room if the base has a lip to it (as these 30mm bases have).
Next I cut out a strip of parchment paper in order to line the inside of the clamp, and 2 more to put on top and bottom. Then I fill in the clamp with Super Sculpy and press in the clay and make sure it's flattened flush to the edges of clamp.
Then loosen the clamp to let the molded piece slip out, put it on a piece of parchment paper, and pop it in the toaster oven for baking (following the Super Sculpy instructions). When you finish, you'll have disks like this...
Next I carved runes into the side of the base. A note on "runes": For all of the runes I did on these, I tended to use mostly straight lines and dots for two reasons. First I like it stylistically. Second is that on smaller Super Sculpy surfaces it is easier to do straight lines rather than curves. Curves tend to cause the material to carve chucks out and it requires a bit more care. However, any shape is possible with enough patience.
Next I painted in the runes with white (just to make them easier to see for the next step). Then I added some roughing to the edges and surfaces to make it look like aged and weathered rock. To do this I mostly use the Craft Cutter and just make small choppings into the edges randomly. I've found this makes a nice random effect to the Super Sculpy to simulate rock.
At this point I begin painting in the runes. First I fill in the runes with Cygnus Yellow, and then the surrounding surface with Gnarls Green. The end goal is to create just a slight green glow effect on the surface surrounding the carved rune, but not too much.
At this point I go ahead and paint the surfaces with Coal Black, mostly because I find that painting the rune against such a light background makes it more difficult to get the right level of contrast. I also hit the bulk of that Coal Black surface with slightly thinned Armor Wash.
Next I painted the runes. My technique here is to add to the rune, near the edges, build around the core yellow. I start by shading in some Necrotite Green and then Iosan Green. Then I go back and add some white spots at key points in the runes (usually where two lines intersect). Finally I re-add some yellow as necessary to clean things up and then use some Gnarls Green to tighten up the edges of the runes to the surfaces.
At this point it's just surface finishing. I do a little 2BB work with Coal Black to smooth the transitions between the Gnarls Green and the very black portions from the Armor Wash. Then I use Underbelly Blue to highlight the edges. Then one last step of using Morrow White to create some point highlights on the edges on top of the Underbelly Blue.
Finally, gloss coat it fairly heavily. Obsidian is essentially glass so it needs to look slightly transparent near the surface to create a somewhat shiny effect. I did two coats of Testors Gloss on these. When I did the initial one for Baby Kade I used Testors High Gloss, which has the distinct disadvantage of always feeling a bit sticky when touched but has the advantage of being shiny after a single coat.
Finally, just stick it to a base using a little green stuff and glue and you're all done. Here is the completed one I did during the course of this tutorial along with a second one done as 2 tiers. For the second one, I used the same process but created a smaller step that I attached with green stuff before starting to carve and paint. Hopefully you've found this useful.


Shelexie said...

This is fantastic! Thank you for the beautiful write up and the great looking bases. You really knocked this one out of the park!

Tri3 said...

Fantastic work.

Sofie Vandersmissen said...

I love these bases! Great job!

Greetings, Sofie