Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Getting Better at the Hobby

Fly Molo back after stirring the pot about cheaters. Time to change gears into something a little more happy-feely-gamey... the hobby! The hobby is, for some, an after thought. For others, its all there is. No matter which camp you're in, you can always get better. We're going to need an montage.

Where are you at in the hobby? Are you stuck between armies... always? Are you looking forward to your next project... always? Are your dudes gray and unbased?
Or have you been using a fully painted army? Do a quick flashback: when did you finish that army? Startling, no?
Or are you somewhere in between (like most of us are)? You have a good start on your army, you're adding new units here and there, there's still some grey models, some primed models and some nearly finished models. You're in work-in-progress mode.
Whether you're the 'nothing done' guy, the 'always complete' guy or the 'somewhere in between' guy, I hope to have something interesting here to read and spur some more progress.

Every time I go to an event or browse a blog, I end up looking for those jaw dropping models. Those models like TJ's Heldrake conversion. Or TJ's Minotaur. Or TJ's Gorilla Prince. Or other models that aren't done by TJ but are still awesome. When I see them I'm all like:

We all have model envy. We love a great model. We are suckers for a good conversion. A great paintjob. We wish WE had that model. And we lament the fact that we don't have them, because of course, we could never do that. Never ever in a million years. *sigh* Obviously, those folks that completed those incredible models are born with God-given talent that can't be achieved by us mere mortals.
And we click to the next post and drink away our sorrows.
We need to change this way of thinking and be the ones with those cool models.
Where are you at now?
Have you tried a simple conversion before? Head swaps, arm swaps, kit-bashing are very basic level conversions that can really break up the same'ol same'ol syndrome that can afflict some armies. I imagine you were pleased with those simple conversions and maybe even have been inspired to try something harder. Like green-stuff.

This Land Raider is my first attempt at using green-stuff for anything besides gap-filling. I found a really good tutorial on a website called the youtube. Have you been on the youtube? Its crazy! The tutorial was specifically about making "Nurgle skin" on larger models. I feel I pulled it off well and was INSPIRED to continue my conversion work. Confidence breeds confidence. The tools needed were minimal and the likelihood of failure was low. The confidence gained was substantial. That's my kind of deal.
In EMS, we have all sorts of skills that we employ in the efforts to provide optimal patient care. We have some skills that we do every day and even if we mess up those skills, the amount of damage we can do is small. An example would be applying supplemental oxygen with a nasal cannula (the little nose prongs attached to a tube). Those are referred to 'high frequency-low risk' skills. Simple conversions and basic greenstuff work falls into that category.
On the other hand, we have "low frequency-high risk" skills, like cricothotomy (cutting a hole through someone's neck and cricoid cartilage, and inserting a breathing tube) or pericardiocentesis (something that I'm not trained to do, but involves putting a needle under the persons breastbone to their heart and drawing fluid from around the heart to treat cardiac tamponade). These skills, without proper training and experience, could result in a fatal complication. The less trained and experience, the more likely you are to have one of these fatal complications.
The good news is that no matter how hard and difficult the conversion attempt you are about to make is, YOU WON'T KILL ANYONE. Whew! The worse thing that can happen is that you ruin a perfectly good model.
So why don't we start simple and build some confidence?  Quickly run and go get a copy of your 40k or Fantasy Rulebook. Put your right hand on it and say "I will go to my local game store this week and buy my first tube of Greenstuff or some other competing brand of two part modeling epoxy." If you already own some, skip that part. "I will create a model from at least 3 different GW kits and if I've never used Greenstuff before, I WILL look at a youtube tutorial and TRY to convert SOMETHING on this awesome new model." This was the video that got me going this way and let me do that simple conversion on the Land Raider.

When you get done with your conversion (hopefully you make a neat Commander, Sarge, Farseer or something), take a picture and send it unpainted our way. Make note of the model parts you used, what you tried to Greenstuff, what you liked, what you didn't and what you had questions about. Our resident awesome converters (TJ and Chris) will help me get you some confidence building feedback to improve your future conversion.
I'll even post some of your cooler ones!
... and I can smell a contest coming in the future... a convert'in contest... with prizes...

In parting, I asked TJ to write me up a single paragraph about converting for the beginner and how he started and some basic advice. Thanks for sharing TJ!
"TJ here to add my two cents on converting. A good conversion, whether it is a weapon swap or an entire model, should look like it was manufactured that way. That means that is should look natural and the awesome model should catch the eye and not the fact that there is something off about it. I think I first started converting like everyone else, with safe choices like head swaps and arm swaps, which is fine and can be very effective if you have chosen bits that compliment the model and the over-all intent. If a swap doesn't or, say you cut a arm off and replaced it, leaving a gap or an obvious cut, then you need to take the steps to make the model look right. Green stuff goes a long way - and no, I'm not talking about Liquid green stuff, I am talking about the two-part epoxy and some tools. If you are nervous about green stuff, just start Googling it. That was how I started. I looked up videos and forum tutorials on working with green stuff (CVinton has a few here) and built my confidence on some minor conversions. Over time, I started making my own Plague Marines, converted a Tower of Skulls, a Vindicator and later produced complex projects like my Minotaur. All of that work was a progression and a result of practice that started with head swaps and some honest evaluation."


  1. I really like this idea. I've done a lot of kit bashing and such, but I've only ever used green stuff for gap filling. I guess I'll have to try some basic sculting on my next model for this post.


    1. Taking the plunge is a scary but totally rewarding process. Can't wait to see some results.

  2. Small areas of sculpting are a great way to make a conversion stand out. Start with Nurgle conversions to get the feel of it and then get more uniform/smooth from there. I really like the work you did on the the LR, Molo!

    1. That's really good advice if you're playing Chaos. I'd suggest trying greenstuff on some custom bases too, good place to start. Thanks for the compliment!