Friday, May 31, 2013

Making a Nurgle Portalglyph

Creating Something That Has No Model 

This is Mike Loniewski again. I hope you had a wonderful holiday! I managed to find a little free time to make up something for a tournament occurring at AFK Games in Lansing this past weekend. I had planned to bring my Death Guard with Nurgle allies force to this friendly event. To me, friendly means, well friendly. And in being friendly, I want to treat my new friends with respect. I feel it is respectful to bring accurately modeled models to the game. I feel it is disrespectful to bring grey unprimed models, three pop cans and call it your drop-pod Space Wolves. I feel it is disrespectful to your opponent that you thought it wasn’t worth your time to accurately represent your models while they did.

“Ah ha! Mike! They don’t make the model I want to use! I’m not like that Space Wolves player! Games Workshop, when attempting to hoard as much cash as possible, forgot to actually make a model for the stuff I want to use! I had no choice but to disrespect my opponents!” you are probably not shouting at the computer screen. Ah ha indeed.

Have you had the pleasure of opening the newer Warp Talons/Raptors kit? It is a DREAM! Albeit you are paying a pretty hefty price for 5 infantry sized models, but those models will look gorgeous. And ho ho ho what’s this? Look at all of these beautiful bits(z) left over! Five extra heads, special weapons, a slew of sweet lightning claws, man, I can’t wait to start using these on other models! This phenomenon occurs elsewhere. Grey Knights are loaded with it. The new GW kits are multi-purpose, and in making them multipurpose, we get great bits left over.

“Who cares for these bits?! WHO CARES FOR THESE BITZ?! I need a box that says ‘Doom of Malantai!’ I need a box that says ‘VOID RAVEN BOMBER!11!!!!!’”

I am an adult. If I want to take a class, there’s not this question looming in the back of my head like “I wonder if I can pass this class?” Of course I am going to pass the damn class, I’m an adult. If there’s a tree in my back yard with a giant dead branch hanging on it, I don’t think “I sure do hope that doesn’t fall and hurt me!” No, instead I go out there and cut the damn limb off (hopefully the tree’s). So in being an adult, when something needs to be done, I do it. For this event, I plan on using a piece of wargear known as the Portalglyph. The Chaos Daemons codex describes it as a portal in which Deamons can be summoned through. The book instructs you to place a small blast template, or something of similar size, down on the table to represent this portal.

Look, GW even gave me an out. They said I could use a blast template.

Well, GW also says I can use up to 3 units of Warp Talons in my army, doesn’t mean I am going to do it.
Time to break out the green stuff!

The original portal I was planning on using was a green blast template primed white, then I scratched off areas to make it look like green glowy energy. It didn’t really come out how I wanted. Old plan: Out the window.

The new plan started off with a question and a rather gross answer. The question: How would Plague Bearers burst into reality? The answer: They would be born out of some orifice. Thoughts raced through my head – What kind of orifice? Would it have teeth? Hair? Would it look like a cat’s ass?!

This line of thinking was bringing me to a dark place. When in doubt, get to work and see where that takes you. This is art, after all.

I rolled out my green stuff and make some pea sized or slightly bigger balls. I flattened them and started pressing them to the surface of the template. From there, I used my dental tools to pull at each of the edges of the shapes, attempting to make the appearance of stretched skin. Then, it was Nurgle time.

Voila. The flesh was complete. I don’t have a lot of experience with green stuff, but I find Nurgle things are rather easy to make work. If something doesn’t work right, it’s just some new disease. I made the pox marks with a paint brush cover (the little plastic tubes you get on the end of your new brushes), some of the smaller popped pox spots with the end of a mechanical pencil and finally some of the small dots with the tip of my dental tool.

Time to get this little sucker painted. I imagine all of that stuff on the template is rotten flesh. In game, the Great Unclean One would say some ancient saying, point to the ground, a wicked glyph in some unknowable language would appear, flesh would start to grow on the ground, then pustules and rot would form, then finally Plague Bearers would start climbing out or be born out of popped pustules. Now that is forging the narrative!

So I’m going to be mostly painting flesh, specifically dead/rotten flesh. To get my look, I prime black then basecoat brown. I lean towards redder-browns if possible. Imagine what your skin color looks like. It turns out your skin is sort of translucent. You can see somewhat the colors underneath it. So starting with a redder-brown basecoat, I feel I capture some of that realism. Next, I hit the whole thing with a bone dry brush.

So now I have the basic shading done, I want it to look diseased. In real life (what’s that?!), sick people can look pale (lack of blood to the skin), they can look blue (lack of oxygen in the blood), they can look ashen and grey (decreased circulation and lack of oxygen), they can look red and flushed (immune response or septic shock) or they can look green (I think I’m going to be sick). The few times I’ve seen people who were green was when they saw something they didn’t like, got “woozy” then promptly fainted. I don’t know why people turn green, but it sure is strange to behold. So green it is.

To get this green effect, I plan on using washes. I love washes. I use some sort of wash in at least one stage of every model I paint. Washes make mediocre painters like me look like semi-good painters like me. I also wanted some variety, so I am aiming for two shades of green, one dark and one bright. I hit various areas with the dark and the remaining areas with the bright. It came out to a nice 50/50 split in the end.

As far as what I consider a wash: I put a few drops of paint in quite a few more drops of water into a shot glass. Voila, a wash.

The result from just the washes is incredible. I am extremely happy with the effect. Washes obviously sink into the low areas but they also shade the areas that are painted. I quickly took my bone white color again and hit the highest areas of the skin to give it even more depth.

Now it is time for some finishing touches. Pimples! ICK!

Using real life experience and really gross pictures like these, I wanted to make the pustules look as real as possible within my realm of skill and time. Notice that the flesh in this picture is, er, Caucasian colored. Nearing the actual pustule, you get a red ring, followed by somewhat abrupt cream/white color of the white blood cell congregation and/or infection goop. To recreate this I hit the center of each pimple with bleached bone, then washed any area of “infection” with a deep red, then re-touched with bone white again on the pustule followed by a pure white highlight. I think the effect came out, well, gross.

I feel the bright white highlight came out a little bright, so I might tone that down later. But as of now, this bad boy is complete. It hit the table in two games over the weekend and proceeded to make zero Plague Bearers in game 1 before it was nuked by a Farsight Bomb and make five in game 2 that tied the game up for me.


  1. Nice! That looks properly disgusting!

    1. Thanks! I thought it looked great on the table top too. I am a big fan of the "extra" stuff on the board being cool looking, not just some sort of token. When I play for objectives, I want them to look like something, not just a quarter or a piece of paper.

  2. Looks... nasty. So, congrats! Good work.

  3. Great effort to make even a small detail of wargear create a cool presence on the tabeltop! Sweet - and it looks wicked (in a Nurgle way)!

    1. Thanks! I had liked the idea since I got ahold of the book and I wanted to make sure I had a wicked looking portal of some sorts. I'm glad its not a random piece of wargear so I can use it every game.