Gargant Interruptus

A quick apology for missing the past two weeks.  Real life intrudes at the most inopportune times.  I had some rewrites that had to get my attention, and Marcus and I decided it'd be best to push the gargant's big day back to Fourth of July.  We want it to look fantastic, after all.  In an Orky way.

In the meantime, if you'll forgive me, I was going to do a quick bit of shameless self-promotion.  My first hardcover comes out on Tuesday, so I need to flog it for a couple of minutes. It's called The Fold, and it's sort of a sci-fi/mystery/thriller with a strong horror element.  More or less.

It's got a ton of praise from people like Bram Stoker Award winners Joe McKinney (Dead City) and John Dixon (Phoenix Island), Chuck Wendig (Blackbirds), Mira Grant (Feed and Parasite), Wesley Chu (Lives of Tao), DJ Molles (the Remaining series), and Andy Weir who wrote a book called The Martian.  Heck, Kirkus Review liked it and I'm told they're really picky when it comes to giving good reviews.

If you happen to live in California, I'm doing a bunch of signings next week (which is why I won't be here building gargant weapons).  I’ll be at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego on Tuesday, June 2nd (release party!); Borderlands Books in San Francisco on Thursday, June 4th; and then at Dark Delicacies in Burbank on Saturday, June 6th.

And then, back here to resume gargant duties.  It's going to look fantastic.

Thanks for your patience


Gargant, Pt Two

Okay, the main sections of the hull done, and it matches up well with some of the ideas Marcus had about basic gargant size and structure.  I decided to start layering on some details. 

The first thing was extra foam plates on the sides, front, and back.  They’re just big pieces of foamcore that overlap seams to make joins more solid.  They also add a bit of bulk in key places and (in the back) help smooth transitions between the abdomen and thorax.  I toyed with the idea of adding one to the top of the head, but I’m going to hold off for a little bit.  It’ll be an easy thing to add after the fact.

Once those plates were dry,  I added some runners along most of the corners.  They’re just 1 1/2” strips of cardstock that I scored and wrapped around the edges.  They reinforce the whole structure and also help hide any messy foamcore bits.

Helpful Hint—Always over-fold any of these pieces that go around corners.  Fold them almost in half and let the corner itself hold the piece open.

Also, it’s probably worth mentioning that I haven’t glued any of these big components together yet.  A big reason is just storage—I don’t have a place prepped for it yet, so it’s more convenient to squirrel away when I can break it down into its core parts.  It also makes it a bit easier to put on some of these detail pieces when I'm only dealing with smaller components.

Next, I decided to add some pauldrons.  I didn’t have arms or shoudlers yet, but I knew where they were going to go and figured it’d be better to get them in place now rather than waiting to build weapons. Each one was a 5 1/2” x 4” rectangle of foamcore held up by right triangles that were more-or-less 4” on their sides.  The sizes are a bit random because I just happened to have some scraps that broke down this way. Thankfully, Ork construction techniques are very forgiving.

I flipped the thorax upside down and built the pauldrons to it so they’d be flat and level with the top (this whole area will probably end up with some shoulder-mounted rokkits or something).  I built the triangles underneath the rectangles so they’d be supporting that weight, not just the glue.  I also tilted them out a bit to leave room for “movement.”  Once they were dry I flipped it right-side-up again and added some more strips and squares of cardstock inside and outside the “shoulder pad” to help support it and hide some of the rougher foam edges.

Helpful Hint—I tried to bend the corners down on all of these cardstock panels before I glued them in place.  The glue’s going to make them curl up away from the foamcore, so if they’re bent down to start with it just makes things easier.

Then I cut up a bunch of squares and rectangles.  There were a lot of different sizes, but I tried to keep them all about 3” square or smaller.  I ended up with about a dozen of them.  This is going to be a first layer of Orky “armor plating,” and also help cover up some more of the bare foamcore edges and joins.  They can be a bit messy and crooked—this is Ork workmanship, after all.  It is, as I mentioned before, very forgiving.

The next wave of “plates” got rivets before I glued them on.  Lots and lots of rivets, made from the 1/16” hole punch.  I decided to put them on first because, with the somewhat haphazard style of Ork construction, it’d be easy to miss them later

I layered these on top of  the earlier plates.  I didn’t want to cover every inch of the gargant with these—I could and it’d look cool, but it came down to a time issue.  I could spend the better part of a week doing nothing but plates and rivets.  I’d rather just give the sense of it being completely built of scrap.

I also let a couple pieces hang down around the bottom of the abdomen to create the “skirt” effect that we see on the Stompa.  It also helps sell the idea that the entire hull is just random plates rather than a solid block.

Helpful Hint—Might sound obvious, but once the skirt goes on, the abdomen has to be up on the feet.  It won’t be able to sit flat anymore.  I don’t need to glue the feet on yet, but it’ll need to at least balance on them.

You’ll notice I’ve left the front of the abdomen kind of bare.  This is because I know the gargant’s getting some kind of belly cannon, but Marcus and I haven’t quite decided what kind yet.  I’m also toying with the idea of a big skull icon that will wrap around said cannon.

More on that in a few days over at Atomic Warlords, along with some other ideas for dakka-fying the gargant.


Gargant, Pt. 1

So, over on our sister(brother? sibling?) blog, AtomicWarlords, Marcus has been talking about the history of Ork gargants.  In the game.  In the fluff.  In the studio design notes.

And with our annual Memorial Day game coming up, it got me thinking.  Plus there’s all this recent talk about new Knights and Warlord Titans.  Matt has a Warlord.  Said Warlord, Big Blue, has caused us all much grief on the battlefield.

So, with all that in mind... let’s talk about gargants.  

And before we go too far, let me point out that a lot of this is going to be fast and simple.  One of the great things about modeling Ork vehicles is that they’re crude and lack symmetry.  It makes quick-and-dirty scratchbuilding like this very easy.  So there isn’t going to be a real template, just a lot of estimates

Plus, the models are very forgiving when it comes to hiding flaws (as I’m sure we’ll see next week).

Based off some of the ideas Marcus and I bounced around, I worked out a few ideas for what a gargant should look like.  A good height.  A basic hull structure. I decided to go with the later-era, squared-off model rather than the earlier, rounder one.  Also, from a construction point of view, the blocky shape and angles would be a lot easier to work with while I was putting it together.

My final design gave me three sections.  For future reference, I’m calling them the head, thorax, and abdomen—that’s top to bottom.  There’s feet, too, but I’ll deal with them separately.  My whole design stood at 27” tall... just a little bit taller than Big Blue, if memory serves.  The base was a 14” square.  It was big and bulky and (from an orky point of view) absolutely beautiful.  Lots of space for icons, plating, and other details.

I decided to build the core hull structure out of foamcore.  It would cost a little more than my usual projects, but those wide expanses would be much more solid.  Then I could decorate/ detail it with cardstock, plus build weapons and arms out of cardstock so they’d be lighter.  On this scale, lighter was going to be better.

Speaking of which...

Now, this model’s going to be very big, and it’s going to weight a decent amount.  So I don’t want anything to be depending on glue alone. I want to make sure these are all load-bearing joins.  The foamcore should be taking the weight, not the glue.

That being said, I need to remember that that foamcore’s thicker than cardstock.  The overlaps and joins will actually add up to something now (unlike with cardstock where we’re talking about maybe 1/64” if it’s the heavy stuff).  So when I start taking measurements and marking things off for cuts, I need to remember some construction basics...

Helpful Hint—Most sheets of foamcore are about 1/4” thick (check yours to be sure).  Which means if the top and bottom overlap the sides, I should be subtracting 1/2” total from each vertical measurement.  For example, the sides, front, and back of the feet are only going to be 1 1/2” tall (even though they’re marked as 2” on the blueprints). The extra half inch gets made up for by the top and bottom panels of the foot.

I took my time laying this out.  Since I actually have to pay for foamcore (about $17 for all I needed), I didn’t want to waste any.  So each piece was measured carefully so I used as much as possible with as little as possible left over.  It meant flipping and reversing some pieces to make them fit, but in the end I got all of this out of just four sheets of foamcore.  And I already had plans for some of the leftover pieces...

Helpful Hint—Foamcore is always two cuts, at least.  Always.  When you try to go through foamcore in one cut, that’s when you get all those beads and tears and rough edges.  Use a fresh blade in your hobby knife, do one light pass, then one final pass. I usually do a third pass just to make sure I’ve cut through the bottom side of the foamcore.

Also, be aware this will dull your blade to the level of a butter knife.  Seriously.  It will take at least two blades to cut all this foamcore, and even then there’s going to be some ragged edges.

The feet are just simple boxes.  I set down the bottoms and built the front, back, and sides to them.  Then I used consummate V’s in the feet.  This is a simple technique I’ve used in the past.  It helps fill up the empty space and gives things a bit more load-bearing ability.  Once those were all set, the tops were glued into place.  I put a twelve-pound dumbbell on each foot to make sure it dried flat, and it held the weight with no problem.  So if they can hold twenty-four pounds, I’m pretty sure then can deal with the weight of the gargant.

The abdomen is essentially a big box with a sloped front.  Easy to assemble.  But since it’s the base of the whole gargant I wanted to make sure it was very solid.  Also, I wanted to make sure it had a bit of mass to it.  It’d be very easy for this model to become very top-heavy.  I played around with a few ideas in my head, and what I came up with was a phone book.  Not a huge one, but one of the thinner local ones that weighed about two pounds.  Free and plentiful.  I built a frame to hold it and glued it in place.  Then I added a few more right triangles around the inside to brace the walls (and the frame).  When I was done, the abdomen was rock solid.

The thorax needed a bit more work.  I knew I wanted to make the arms removable for easy transport and possible swap-outs.  But I needed any sort of socket to be low enough for me to add details and also some sort of “pauldron” over the gargant’s shoulder.

After a bit of wrangling, I decided on 2” square sockets, a little more towards the back than centered.  Then I flipped the half-assembled thorax over and added two little “benches” to the top, just inside the sockets.  When I slide in an arm post, the weight of the arm itself is going to make it want to tilt up (levering on the socket hole), so—in theory—these will keep the arm from tilting.  Make sense? 

I also added some more triangle braces while the benches were drying.

Now, on my diagrams the head’s a basic cube, 6” in every direction.  As I worked on this, I came to realize that was a hair too tall.  I wanted something more squat (no, not that kind of squat).  So I knocked the head down to 4” tall, which actually meant I cut the pieces at 3 1/2” to make up for tops and bottoms.  And this shaved 2” off the height of the whole gargant.

I also decided I wanted the head to stand out a little more, and look a bit closer to the Stompa design.  So I decided to go with a hexagonal head.  After running a few numbers in my head, I decided to go with 3 1/2” sides.  So I needed six panels that were 3 1/2” square.  A hexagon with these sides fits exactly in a 7” diameter circle (high school geometry wins—again), so I used my compass to draw said circle. I also drew another, slightly larger circle around that and cut the whole thing out.  This is going to be the head’s base on top of the thorax, and also where I’ll be mounting the “jaw” later.

Once that was all done, I assembled the head-panels inside of the 7” circle.  I cut another 7” circle, then trimmed it to fit the hexagon, and that was my roof.  I set a book on top of it and let the whole thing dry.

And that was my rough hull. It’s big and impressive and extremely white at this point,  but I’m hoping to fix some of that next time.  Here’s my lovely lady’s Freebooter Warboss –Bah Bossa—to give you an idea of scale (he’s the one from the Black Reach set).

Next time, some details.


More Knight Variants

So how many viable Knight versions are there now, counting Forgeworld?  Six?  Seven?

There are a lot of things you can do with Knights these days.  And a lot of them can be done pretty easily with Paperhammer.  Rather than focus on the individual variants like the Warden or Gallant, though, I thought I could take a  few minutes and just go over the new weapons that come with them.  I mean, the basic body, head, and legs are the same for all of these models.  The weapons are the main difference, so let’s add a few more to the basic battle cannon/ reaper chainsword that come with the fantastic classic Knight Paladin template the Newobmij made.

The thunderstrike gauntlet is essentially a big power fist.  I talked about how to build an arm last time with the Knight Lancer.  However, while it’s much simpler, I don’t think the box-fist I explained then would work here.  It won’t have the Ion Shield to shift focus. In fact, now the fist is the focus of attention.

Print out an extra knee-cylinder.  It’s on page five and six of the template (one for each leg).  Build it, but don’t add on the extra rivets or 1/8” discs for detail.  All we need is the cylinder.
Defiler claw to show fingers

Now print out some of the claw-fingers from the Defiler model template.  This will need three fingers and a thumb.  Yes, the GW model has four fingers, but we’re a bit limited for space.  I’m sure a clever person out there can figure out how to do four without making it look too awkward.  Glue three of the fingers along the cylinder, perhaps “fanning” them out a bit.  Then attach the thumb so it lines up with the “pointer finger.”

Helpful Hint-- Whatever way you end up posing the fingers, consider having the thumb make contact with at least one of them and gluing it there.  It’s a small, subtle thing, but it will make this whole assembly much stronger to have multiple connections.  And you want it to be solid because you’re going to smack it against a Wraithlord or some Tyranid Warriors at least once a month if you’ve got a good gaming group.

Another Helpful Hint—It’d be possible to do some really nice detail on these with 1/4” and 1/8” in discs from a hole punch.  They could be mechanical joints on the sides of the fingers or “knuckles” on the tops.  I’d probably only do one or the other, though.

As a last touch, consider using a spare knee or ankle armor piece to form a vambrace over the back of the fist.  Or maybe cut something a little more custom.  Either way, add on some rivets and purity seals and it’d be a solid-looking power fist.

For the carapace-mounted rocket/missile pod, you could just build a variation of the whirlwind launcher I made way, way back at the start of all this.  A box 1” tall, 2” wide, and 1 1/2” deep is a good base to start from.  A thin 1/8” by 1” strip of cardstock forms a divider down the front center.  Then I can do a nice alternating layout of 1/8” discs and 1/8” spaces which should give me nine “missiles” on each side.  Yes, that’s slightly less than the GW model, but if the people you’re playing with are complaining about that...

If I was feeling exceptionally clever, I’d also build a double-wide version of the armored hood from the battle cannon to put on the missile pod.  It’s good detail and a nice tie-in, design-wise.  Alternately, a 1/4” strip wrapped around the front and back edge would look very nice.  Again, add rivets and some purity seals to finish off details.

The avenger gatling cannon is going to be a lot simpler than it looks.  All you need to do is print out seven copies of the heavy stubber—the one that goes with the battle cannon.  It’s on page eight of the template.  Okay, technically you need eight of them so one can go on the left shoulder.  But for the gatling cannon, you need seven.

Build six of the heavy stubbers just like I did for the Knight Paladin.  On the seventh, we want to cut off the majority of the barrel and just leave the thicker part at the base.  We’re going to call this the core, for reasons which will soon be apparent.

Important Note—Mark the now-missing edge before cutting off the rest of the barrel to make sure the core ends up the same size as all the other bases.

Once all seven elements are dry and solid, take one stubber barrel and the core.  Glue them together so the base of the barrel is flush against the core.  Keep their individual seams as close to each other as possible, and make sure the two pieces are parallel.  If they’re not parallel, this isn’t going to work.

Once the two pieces are joined, take a second barrel and glue it so it’s touching both the core and the first barrel (and its seam is close to the core).  Viewed end on, they should form a triangle.  Once the glue had dried, add a third barrel so it’s touching the second and the core . Now it should form a diamond.  Let it dry and keep adding, making sure each one touches the last barrel added and the core.  If everything is parallel and the same size, it should look like this from the front (with the core in blue).
Wait for this whole assembly to dry and then attach it to the cannon body.  It should fit perfectly with the existing armored hood, although it would also be easy to add a more rounded one that ran along the overall curve of the gatling assembly.  And that would be a little closer to the existing GW model as well.

And there it is.  You can spend five or six hundred dollars building an army of Imperial Knights... or you could spend five or six weekends and have them for maybe five or six dollars, total (not counting all the cereal and frozen pizza to get cardstock).  If you started right now, it wouldn’t be hard to have five different Knights done by mid-June, Fourth of July weekend at the latest.

Next up... I’ve been working on something big.  A crossover project with my friend Marcus who runs the Atomic Warlords page.  Let’s just say there’ve been a few too many Knights, and not enough for the xenos among us.