Monday, 20 April 2009

Making Crystals

Time for a quick modelling tutorial, which is in fact an adaptation of one of my old tutorials. Using leftovers, some cutting and a striking paintjob one can easily make a whole bunch of stunning crystals that will really make your bases look unique. You could even just use a few attached to a base as an objective marker.

So let's get started, you will need the following materials and tools:
- Some leftover (trapezium-shaped) sprues.
- A sharp modelling knife.
- Brushes and paint.
- Glue.
- And as always some creativity.

If you've been in the hobby game for a while you have undoubtedly seen your fair share of sprues pass by. In fact it is safe to say many of us could fill up an entire room with just the garbage we have left behind. A few years ago I found myself staring at one such pile, and being too lazy to clean my hobby table I started thinking about what I could possibly do with them that did not involve me actually organizing my junk. After breaking a sprue in two it hit me, all this plastic could be used to make some (alien) crystals.

1) The sprue

You'll need one or more leftover sprues, which given the ton of plastic kits these days is something no hobbyist should look far for. Start by cutting of a long piece of spruerod:Make certain you check the back of the sprue as a sprue has quite a few GW logos and copyright marks on it. And we wouldn't want a big GW-symbol to show up on our crystals, now would we!

2) Giving shape to the crystal.

As you have undoubtably noticed by now the sprue is trapezium-shaped.
In order to get a nice crystal shape going, you'll need to start by cutting up corners A and B. Tackle these corners in such a manner that you get a more symmetric shape:
Now you can get started with the rest of the crystal. It's best not to over think things here, being impulsive about the design of the crystals will give you a large variety of different, yet still coherent-looking gems. In addition this also results in all crystals being (slightly) different, just like real-life ones. Don't get too impulsive though, Khorne may love blood but it's best to hold on to your own for as long as you can!
Once you're happy with how the top of the crystal looks you can cut if off the longer sprue piece at your desired length. The fun part about this modelling process is that you can keep coming up with new shapes and even entirely new styles with great ease. And there's just something very satisfying about doing something with the otherwise rather pointless sprue.

3) Painting your crystals.

Start by glueing the crystal to whatever base you had planned, a remember to plan ahead. So if there's any other elaborate modelling to be done on the base, this would be the ideal moment for it! Now pick the colour you'd like to give your crystals, below you'll find several roughly painted examples as well as a diorama with some crystals that truly good some decent attention. So first undercoat the plastic crystal with black or white, depending on your preference or chosen crystal colour. Next add the first coat of the paint of your choice.Once this coat is dry use a lighter colour, or just the basecolour and some white to carefully highlight the edges of the crystals. I find that a 50/50 mix of white and the basecolour works very well for most colours. Once these highlights are dry you can add some extra depth by using inks of watered down, slightly darker paints. The highlighting of the edges in previous step has, as an added bonus, resulted in certain areas of the crystals being boxed off with slightly higher edges due to the extra coat of paint. This makes it easier to us a brush and some ink to add extra depth, while leaving the highlighted edges mostly untouched.
Using the above described method you will be able to mass produce a huge amount of crystals in a very short time. And best of all, with materials you already had. So the budget stays intact, while you add an extra, unique element to the presentation of your army. The possibilities with these small crystals are very diverse. From just adding some to bases, to fully incorporating them on figures. You could use them to simulate an alien environment or to give certain units like extra cool bases that tie in with their background. This is what I did with my Vespids, who's weapons use resonating crystals. So what better way to add some extra flavor than by painting all those crystals in the same way.

I can imagine that Skaven and Mordheim players will also like these little gems, as they are perfect to represent some warpstone. A warpstone token, staff of treasure chest can't go wrong there, in fact on could easily go as far as to make your own Jezzials. If you make the crystals extra small they also make perfect staff headpieces for wizards, sorcerers and healers:Well that's it, my first blogspot tutorial. More will be coming over the course of the next few weeks, though I'd better get back to my Relictors as well. Other things you may see soon include fragments from the IG conversion guide I wrote for the Astro Mag, urban basing and some other old tutorials. About time I started sharing them a large portion of the online community!