Infantryman's Uplifting Primer

Still buried in work.  New novella came out, new book is getting written out, meetings about the Amazon project.  Being a writer is nowhere near as fun as Castle makes it look.  Even if my girlfriend is just as sexy as Stana Katic.

While I’m running behind on actual projects, I thought it might be good to go over a couple basics.  A few notes on how I pick the models I want to build and some hints on how I put things together.

I guess the first thing is to be clear what this blog is about.  I admit, I’ve always leaned more to the hobby-fluff side of the game than the crushing-your-enemies-and-hearing-the-lamentations-of-their-women side of it.  I’m also, I can freely admit, on the less-disposable-income side of it.  Games Workshop and Forge World make some absolutely gorgeous models.  I don’t think there’s many folks here who wouldn’t have trouble spending a thousand dollars a year on Warhammer 40,000 products. 

Pictured Here:  Old One Eye
Which is kind of the problem, because it’s hard to deny this game is getting more and more expensive.  While I love playing it, it’s harder and harder to afford it.  And I really didn’t want to be one of those guys showing up with plastic tanks from an army set or dinosaurs for Tyranids or that sort of thing.

Fortunately, my old career in the film industry equipped me with a lot of skills for making things that look good for less money.  Once I became a full time writer, I tried to find even cheaper ways to build vehicles and utilize a lot of the spare bits we’ve all got kicking around.  And then I discovered the joy that is Paperhammer.

Now, I know there are some folks out there doing really amazing things with Paperhammer templates and plasticard, or custom-molding their own pieces from resin.  Those folks are just fantastic.  They can make a Rhino for ten bucks of plastic rather than a thirty dollar kit, or a Warhound for under a hundred bucks.  I am in awe of them and most of the stuff they do.  But that’s not what I’m doing here.

My goal is to do stuff as cheap as possible.  To work on projects anyone can afford.  I think the most expensive vehicle I’ve built to date has been the Plaguereaper, and most of that expense was the green stuff I used for the Pus Cannon.  I also sometimes do scenery pieces or cheap conversions, too.

Pictured Here:  Chaos Warhound Titan
Most of my Paperhammer projects are at least 90% basic cardstock that I harvest from cereal and frozen pizza boxes, held together with white glue you can buy at the supermarket for less than a buck.  That way everything’s very inexpensive.  It’s also very forgiving if you make a mistake.  One gouge can ruin a sheet of plastic.  If I ruin a sheet of cardstock... well, at the worse I’m waiting until Monday night when the lady and I make pizza and watch Alcatraz.  I also don’t feel bad about wasting cardstock if a template forces me to discard almost half the material because of odd shapes or angles.

On which note... I’m a big fan of simpler templates over more complex ones.  There are some people who do amazing templates.  One guy who consistently blows me away is Eli Patoroch, and if you haven’t seen his work, go check it out.  It’s fantastic.

However, I think as templates get more and more complex, they also require greater and greater skill.  I’ve seen some patterns that require over a dozen cuts and scores for a single detail piece.  While I think many of these make for fantastic models, they’re so overly complex they become very daunting for most people.

I also think there are a lot of times we get templates from people who figured out a CAD model and exploded it into a set of diagrams, but never physically built the darn thing.  There’s a wonderful story about how one of Mozart’s first compositions was technically perfect, but completely impossible to perform.  He’d written something that worked on the page, but it was too inhumanly complex for any musician—let alone an entire orchestra being led by a conductor.  I’ve seen that in a few templates.  They work on paper, but it’s clear their creators hadn’t stopped to consider the sheer number of cuts and folds it would require to actually build the models. 

A simpler template is easier to work with and easier to assemble (also easier to correct, which comes up now and then).  Also, as I hope I’ve shown here once or twice, it’s always possible to take a simple template and build something more detailed out of it.  A template that starts complex is what it is, and it’s harder to compensate or make adjustments as you go along.

(On a slight side note, as of late Patoroch’s started including figure flats in his designs as well.  His tanks come with a few Guardsmen, Chaos Renegades, Inquisitors—whatever’s relevant.  True to form, they’re a little more detailed than just straight flats, but in a much more manageable way.  His “flats” are very nice 3D models with four or five layers each. If you use flats, or have been considering it, you really must check his stuff out.)

I’ve also become a bit wary of partial templates.  The ones that always raise a flag are the ones that have things like “Make this shape x 24.”  It makes me wonder if this designer ever actually built their template, because the moment someone starts printing they’d realize how wasteful it is to make two dozen copies to get a piece the size of a matchbook.  And if they haven’t built it... well...  I’ve found the good templates have everything you need on them, even all the multiples.  At the least, they’ll have all the multiples grouped on the same page.

Finally, I like to build stuff for my armies, but I also just like stuff that looks cool.  I don’t know if I’m ever going to use the Hellblade or my Nurgle Defiler, but I sure like the way they came out.

And that’s what I’m all about here.

Two weeks, tops, I’ll be back on my regular schedule and finish up the Silver Towers.