Silver Towers of Tzeentch, Pt. II

Okay, last week I built the flying island base.  Now for the towers themselves.

Looking at the classic model, there are three main towers—the tallest, most prominent ones—and two shorter ones in the front.  I’m going to stick to this basic design, although I’m going to tweak the style a bit.

Because that central tower is so big, I’m going to put it together a bit differently than I’ve made cylinders in the past. I built it in two halves so I’d be able to make it from my existing cardstock (big cereal boxes).  One piece was 6” x 11” and the other was 7 1/4” x 11” tall.  Then I made a series of scores on each one 1 1/4” apart, parallel to the short side.  This gave me one piece with four sides and one with five.  Each one should also have an extra inch to be the gluing-tab.  I marked the tab with a couple X’s so it’s easy to keep straight.

And, yes, these towers are going to have nine sides each.  It’s important.  Really.

This is Important—Make sure the tab is on the same side for both pieces.  It can be to the right or the left, but they both have to be on the same side or the tower won’t go together correctly.

Now, I drew a line across the card 2 1/2” inches from the top.  Then I went through each section and drew two lines so I had a row of triangles.  On this scale they’re going to need some bite, so I also put a small tab on each one.

Once that was done I scored that original cross-line and all the lines for the long sides. This was also when I trimmed the corners on the tab—it’s going to be an inch shorter so it’s beneath the triangles. Then I connected the two sections.  Because it was so big, I put clothespins on each end and used my fingers to keep it pressed flat in the middle.  The tab itself is pretty wide, so I made sure the inside and outside edges were flat.  Once this was one big piece I could work with it just like any of the others.  Speaking of which...

Helpful Hint – Before cutting out any triangles or assembling the towers, I drew two or three horizontal lines across each card.  Once they’re assembled, this will give me a good level-line to use for fire points, banners, and other details.

The other cylinders I could build in my usual manner.  I made four more, and on each one I varied the height of that cross-line to give me a few different looks for the towers.  I ended up doing three towers with 1” sides.  One was 9” tall with a 2” section for the top.  The next one was 8” tall with a 2” top.  The last one was only 6” tall and had a 1 3/4” top. The final tower had 7/8” sides.  I made it 6” tall with a 1 1/2” top section.  This shouldn’t be much of a spike, but almost flat, kind of like the vats on the Plaguereaper.

I glued each tab so the cylinders were complete.  It’s a little tricky working around the triangles at the top, but not that difficult.  I used a pencil to push on the seam for the smaller towers.  The short ones I could reach a finger in, and the central tower’s large enough to put my whole hand in.  Because they're so large, I triple-checked that everything was lining up right.  On this scale, a crooked line could make a real mess.

Once the cylinders were dry, I started working on the tower-tops.  After building the vats on the Plaguereaper, I’ve found it’s best to join two triangles together, let them dry, then add the third, let it dry, and so on.  Because I’ve got five towers, I can clamp one, move on to the next, and by the time they’re all done I can start moving forward again on the first one.  This also helped to even out the cylinder-tower and make it even all the way around.

Helpful Hint – When you start doing the tower tops, make sure all the corners are sharp and the scores do all the way from edge to edge.  If they don’t, there will be odd gaps and wrinkles where the folds don’t sit right.

I finished up by dropping a bead of glue down into the tip and moving it around with gravity.  This gave me a solid point.  Although I’m debating if these points are tall enough, going off the original model.  I may decide to cap them.

While the towers were drying, I cut a few long strips of cardstock.  I did three at 1 1/2” wide, ten at 1”, and five at 3/4” wide.  I wrapped each of these around a spraypaint can to give them a good curve.  These are going to be detail at the top and bottom of each tower.

But that’s for next time.  Or, to be more exact, next year.


Silver Towers of Tzeentch

Yep.  It’s time to dip back into Chaos and into the Apocalypse-sized side of Warhammer 40,000.

Back when I was finishing up the Baneblade, I was struck with a sudden inspiration.  These cylinders I keep making for weapons and engines and pivots... what else could they be used for?  Was there a way they could be even bigger?  I was making the pivot for the Baneblade’s main turret and it struck me that if I cut the edges of the “flower” on the other side, they would all fold in and make a point.  But what could I do with that?  Large spikes?  Missiles?  Towers?

And then I remembered a datasheet that GW put out a while back...
First, I needed to build the floating “plateau” the towers stand on.  Foamcore’s nice and cheap for this sort of thing.  If you look around, you may even find people throwing out sheets of it.  The stuff I used had been cue cards and signs.  Even if you have to buy it, one three or four dollar pack will give you more than enough.
I measured out a rough square about 10” x 10”.  Then I measured two more shapes at about 10” x 9”, and another one around 9”x9” or so.   Any time I ended up with scrap pieces I’d cut those into squares, too.  Or as close to square as I could get.  This worked down until I had a pretty good sized pile.

Helpful Hint - I did all these by eye, just using the ruler to get quick measurements.  I knew I was going to be cutting and chipping this to make them rough and uneven, so there wasn’t much point in being precise and straight to start with.  It was also a lot faster.

I went over each square and cut down corners and edges.  I glued the 10”x9” shapes on either side of the 10”x10” one and set them under a book to dry.  I wasn’t that concerned about them lining up or being straight.  My only concern was that the smaller ones were within the edges of the larger one..

Once this piece was done I set it down and started using all the other shapes to build up one side.  I ended up rounding them even more and split it into two small towers.  One big one would work, too.  Whatever appeals to your personal “flying island aesthetic” will work.

Helpful Hint - You can mix some cardstock in there, too, if you want.  It would give even more  variety to the layers.  You could also use tissues soaked in white glue to coat everything and make smoother rocks.  I kind of like the layered look, though.  It’s as if some sorcerer ripped the whole complex out of the ground and we’re seeing the strata of stone.

I coated this whole thing with black paint and glue.  The goal is to make sure there’s no exposed styrofoam anywhere.  As the GW scenic guys have pointed out many times, spraypaint and styrofoam do not mix (the aeresol eats away at the foam).  So I took my time, made sure the edges were covered, and let it dry.

Once that was done, I took this piece outside and flipped it over, so it’s resting upside down (on the side the towers will attach to).  Now I hit the whole thing with some textured spray paint.  I happen to have two cans of this stuff left over from a job I did.  It’s a little pricey, so you might not want to buy it just for this.  You can get the same effect by buying a bottle of white glue, painting the underside, and then just dumping some coarse sand on it—it’ll just take a while longer.  You could even leave it as is, basecoat it black, and just drybrush it with a lot of different grays.  The goal is to make it rock-like, so again that’s whatever your personal preference is.

Helpful Hint – You can also use all these steps just to make a nice hill for your game table.  If you decide to, though, I’d measure out the open spaces and make sure you’re leaving areas large enough for two or three models (or one large one).

Okay, next bit’s a little tricky.  I needed to find the balance point of this little flying plateau I’d built.  I flipped the piece over so it was flat-side down and put it on my hands with both fingers out.  The object is to get as much of it on my two fingers as possible.

Then, very slowly, I slid my fingers together.  Through the wonders of science—namely physics—the plateau moves and shifts so my fingers end up at the balance point.  I marked that point and then did this a few more times from different angles.  It’s not going to be exact, but it’ll be pretty close.  Close enough for what I’m doing.

Last but not least... some power tools work.  I used my DeWalt and very carefully put a hole through the center mark of the plateau.  I took my time with this and also used a square to get the hole as close to perpendicular as possible.

This Is Important--   Power tools are no joke, and I’ve seen a lot of people get hurt by them.  Yeah, everyone says that but I mean it.  I have seen lots of gouged thumbs.  On the off chance you’re under twelve and you want to try this—or even if you’re an adult who’s never used power tools before (it’s okay, there are a lot)—ask someone for help.  Dad, Mom, your older brother or sister, a friend, somebody who knows how to use the tools correctly.

At which point I need to stop and go apply my paper skills to wrapping presents.  But I’ve got the week off so expect the next update in a couple days.

Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays to the six or seven of you who read this.  Hope you've got all your shopping done.


Pure Paper

Okay, the Doom Scythe is dead.

I’m shelving it indefinitely.  And when I say “indefinitely,” it’s like when you asked your parents if you could go to Disneyworld and they said “We’ll see.”  Everyone knew what they really meant.

Let’s be honest.  It was moving at a crawl, and with the extra stuff we all have to do around the holidays that meant it was insanely slow.  In another two months the real model will be out and a bunch of very talented engineers will put out spectacular paperhammer models that my scratchbuild won’t come anywhere near.

Plus, to be honest, I didn’t have a lot of enthusiasm for the project.  It was just something I started to capitalize on the current Necron popularity.  And there’s just too many other ideas that I really want to be working on for me to be mustering up fake excitement in the hopes of getting one or two more followers here on my geeky blog.

So next time I’m going big with another Apocalypse-level unit.  Inspiration came to me while building the Baneblade/ Plaguereaper.  More on that later.

For now... a detail tip.

I don’t know why, but purity seals have always sort of embodied Warhammer 40,000 for me.  Maybe it’s the idea of prayers and devotions being bound up as physical things.  Maybe it’s the stark contrast between science and faith.  Or maybe it’s just the fluttery ends.

Regardless, purity seals are a great piece of detail that make any model look better.  Even paperhammer models.  So when it struck me how easy it was to make them... well, I had to share.

I took my 1/16” punch and make a few holes in a piece of card, leaving a bit of space around them.  Then I took the 1/8” punch, lined it up over the 1/16” hole, and punched.  End result—a 1/8” disk with a 1/16” hole in it.  If the hole’s not perfectly centered, don’t worry about it.  As long as it doesn’t look drastically off it’ll be fine.

Helpful Hint- You need to do it in this order.  If you try to punch 1/16” holes in 1/8” disks, you’re just going to end up with disks impaled on the punch.  And you’ll shred them trying to get the off.  Start small and work out, not the other way around.

I made up about half a dozen of those and then made half a dozen straight 1/8” disks.  These got paired up with the “donuts” so I had a disk with a depression in the middle.  If there’s a little extra glue on this, that’s okay.

Next, I got some plain paper.  If you’ve got any scraps of typing paper from templates it’d be great.  If you’ve got something a bit heavier with a bit of  a grain (some junk mail comes on really nice paper), that’d be perfect.  I cut out a thin strip (under 1/8”) about an inch long.  If you want to be clever, you can cut a piece like a tall, thin hourglass, but make sure the narrow bit at the center is under 1/8” wide.

I crumpled the paper and carefully smoothed it back out.  This gives it a little more texture.  Then I folded it in half, but not perfectly.  I want the crease at a bit of an angle so the two “legs” hang a bit apart, like an upside-down V.  I put a very tiny bit of glue inside the crease, too, to keep it folded.

Then I just glued the paper to the flat side of the donut and voila.  Purity seal!

If you want larger seals for dreadnaughts, tanks, or scenery pieces, use the 1/8” punch to make the initial hole and a 1/4” punch to make the donut around it.  You could also make the paper longer (for either size) and try twisting it or putting waves in it.  There’s a good chance such things will show up next year when I try making a few Imperial vehicles again.

If you’ve been playing with the card “flats” that have had a run of popularity lately, this is also a cheap and easy way to bring those 2-D models a little more into the third dimension.  Cover the purity seals printed on them, or add extras.

All for now.  Next time... something big and very classic.  And probably following my usual leanings.


The Doom Scythe 1.1

Hopefully everyone had a nice Thanksgiving weekend.  I’ve got one bit of shameless self-promotion and then we’ll get back to the Scythe.

My publisher’s doing a big sale for the holidays he’s calling Black December.  The ebook versions of ten best sellers and new releases are marked down to a mere $2.99 for the whole month.  That includes my own Ex-Heroes (available over in the right hand column here).  He’s also a couple ebooks for free.  No strings, no tricks, absolutely free.  Books he’s just giving away.  Go check it out. 

Oh, and the ebook version of The Eerie Adventures of the Lycanthrope Robinson Crusoe isn’t part of the sale, but it’s still marked down to half the paperback price.  Just saying...

Now, the Scythe.  Again, I’m not doing templates for this, so I may over-describe some steps a bit to make it easier to follow along.

I had the upper and lower hulls, and I needed to combine them.  The artwork shows a thin, recessed section between them.  I thought about foamcore, but that’s not something people necessarily have on hand and I wanted to keep this cheap and easy.  Then I thought about building an elaborate framework, kind of like the consummate Vs I sometimes recommend, but that seemed like a huge amount of work and not too stable.  What I finally hit on was plain old corrugated cardboard.

I cut up an old box and traced my crescent-hull on one piece.  Then I went over it and drew a second line 1/8” inside that outline.  I made about three or four dozen measurements and marked off the distance, then slowly and carefully connected the dots in a smooth arc.  Going 1/8” in makes up for any “enlargement” you get tracing around the crescents and also shrinks it enough so it will be recessed between the hull sections. 

Helpful Hint – Don’t use scissors when you cut this out.  The lever-action of the scissors will crush the corrugated board at the edges.  It takes a little longer, but just use a sharp hobby blade.  Take your time and plan on two passes—one to cut through each layer.  This gave me a much smoother edge to my shape.

I glued on the crescents one at a time so I could be sure they were positioned right.  It took a fair amount of glue and also a lot of fidgeting.  It took about five minutes to get the crescents-within-crescents lined up to a degree I felt comfortable with.  I used the front prongs as my main guideline, and I didn’t worry as much about the back.

Also, I didn’t use the gigantic books I usually do to hold things flat while they dry.  I didn’t want to crush the corrugated cardboard. 

While that was drying, I went to work on the rib for the hull.  The beveled look is very prominent in the artwork, and I wanted to bet it right.  At the same time, we’re talking about combining angles and curves which could lead to a lot of stress.  Mental stress, not structural stress.

I decided to only put the angled armor on the top of the Scythe, for three reasons.  One, more people will see the top than the bottom.  Two, the tesla destructors are going to draw a lot of the attention on the underside anyway (look at that picture up top).  Three, this is supposed to be fast and cheap.

I cut two strips of regular cardstock (not corrugated) 1” wide and 9” long.  I marked each one at the 2” mark, then drew a line from that point to the corner, giving me a long, thin triangle.  Make the two strips mirror each other when you do this, so the triangles are heading in opposite directions.

Next I used a small 1” x 4” piece to scab the two triangle strips together into a single 1” x 18” strip that tapered down on either side.  Make sure the long edge of this piece is as straight as possible.

I let this dry for a few minutes and cut some scrap into 1/2” strips.  Then I took the long piece and curved it around a soup can.  I want to give it a good bend but not crease it, if possible.  Because of the scab, it’s better to work in from each end.  If the double-thick section int he  middle doesn’t get much of a curve, that’s okay.

On which note I’m going to wrap this up.  I’ve actually got more done, but I’m waiting for stuff to dry before I take photos and the post is already overdue.  So I’m going to toss this up for now and do more—maybe even finish this thing—in a day or two.