Monday, October 6, 2014

HOBBY: Magical Effects - Skullstorm

I have been wanting to make this model for awhile now, pretty much ever since I saw the Balewind Vortex after I started playing Tomb Kings. There is just something about creating a visual element for the action elements of our games, from explosions to spells, that takes them to the next level.

For those who don't play Tomb Kings a Skullstorm is a vortex spell they can be cast that is described as a whirlwind of skulls and sand. Even after the turn it is cast on, it stays in play and moves randomly around the board. It uses the small blast template, and normally you would just leave the template on the table and move it around, but that just seems boring to me. Remembering the Balewind Vortex model for Storm of Magic I was struck with a conversion idea.

After a quick perusal of eBay I found a Vortex for around $13. The first step was to cut off the flat top and glue it together. This leaves a hole in the middle so I can make the center concave.

To make the next step of sculpting easier I filled the interior of the vortex with tin foil. This gives me something to sculpt on top of.

Once that was done I used some MIlliput to sculpt a new top on the Vortex. I wasn't too concerned about the sculpting being top notch since I knew I was going to cover it with sand later. All I did was extend the spirals into spikes and then sculpt a simple spiral in the center.

Since I want to be able to use this in a game of Warhammer I knew I had to make it as large as the small blast template. I simply drew a 3" circle on some thick plastic card and cut it out with a heavy duty hobby knife.

Once I had glued the Vortex to the base I used more Milliput to blend it into the plastic card and create a small spiral. I also took a few skulls and a spare skeleton bit from the Casket of Souls and scattered them around the base.

The last step before painting was to cover it with sand. After I covered the model with PVA glue and sprinkled it with sand I then used another layer of extremely watered down glue to seal in the sand. Now, I tried a few different "sands", trying to save money, and in the end I used my modeling sand. None of the other ones worked out and they all ended up becoming a sludge once mixed with the glue. Moral of the story, don't try and save money on supplies, it'll probably just ruin your models. If you do want to use some cheaper supplies, make sure to test them out on something you don't care about first. There were a few areas that the sand didn't cover effectively. Instead of trying to patch those up with more glue and sand I just used some GW Texture Paint, since I had more control with that. It doesn't matter what color you use since it will all be painted over in the end anyway. I also tried to blend the sand into the skulls a little more with it.

I sprayed my Skullstorm with a Bone color spray paint from Army Painter to save myself some time. The first step after this was to give the whole thing a wash of Tausept Ochre, an older color from GW. The newer equivalent is Balor Brown, but it's not quite the same. It doesn't have the same yellow/orange tint that Tausept Ochre has.

It then got a drybrush of Screaming Skull and further shading with more Tausept Ochre and Agrax Earthshade. The skulls were painted like normal bone, but I made sure to try and blend them into the sand around the edges with Ochre. 

I'm really excited to use this in a game sometime soon. I love making my games as cinematic as possible, and I know seeing this Skullstorm meander around the battlefield, leaving destruction in its wake, while just make it elevate it to the next level. Who would be scared of a simple blast template heading towards their most valuable unit? I think with this Skullstorm, I will be able to strike the fear of Khemri into my opponents a little more effectively.

I might make more of these in the future, such as the Purple Sun spell. It was a lot of fun, very quick and simple, and most importantly, looks great. If anyone has done something similar for their games of Fantasy or 40K, please share the picture in the comments below, I would love to see it.

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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