Monday, April 16, 2012

On Leather Wings

The poll appears to be going along smoothly (although there are still a lot of you left to vote). Looks like Terrain, Skaven, and Malifaux are in the lead, with More Vampire counts catching up quickly, and absolutely no love for the Necrons. (Even LOTR got a vote and I forgot to include them on the list!) I'm hoping to use this as a gauge to see where the readers' interests lie, so please vote even if it appears that your choice may already out of the running.

Bat Swarms

The swarms are finished. After looking at some images of bats, I went with a darker wing color. Many bats have an almost black, leathery wing with sharp contrast to their lighter (sometimes pink) arms and fingers. Once painted, the bats pinned into the tombstones rather cleanly, and only required minor touch up to the attachment points once the glue was dry.

Fell Bats

These Fall Bat conversions are a few years old, made back in my days at GW. They use the Vampire Bat bodies and heads from the classic range and wyvern wings from the Warmaster range.

Varghulf Conversion

To mount the Varghulf atop the grave marker in a leaping attack pose, I repositioned his legs. Each section of the leg is cut and rejoined with a single rod running through the length of the leg. The pads between each talon were clipped away, and the talons given a slight curl. The gaps and joins were repaired and resculpted with epoxy modeling putty.

As I worked on the Balrog wings, I discovered that the plastic is actually rather thick (almost 1/8"). In order to punch through to create the holes, I needed to dremmel the surface of the membrane to create depressions where the holes would be. This worked to create a stretched and tattered wing. Each surface needed to be scraped smooth to remove the dremmel marks. To do this in the concave areas I used the rounded tip of a palette knife and used a technique similar to scraping mold lines.

One of my pet peeves about fantasy bats is that the wings are rarely correct. The skin of a bat's wing connects from the wing tip, all the way to its tail. When stretched out, it forms a single membrane spanning the entire wingspan. Bats don't have a separate "tail" the way birds do. (A lesson I learned after finishing my fell bats, unfortunately.)

I took this into consideration when working on the Varghulf. The Balrog wings already had some wing structure extending back toward the tail. I removed the ribbing and added styrene card spacers to fill in the gaps. Even though it doesn't connect to the legs like it should, it's close enough to satisfy my obsessive mentality.

The sculpting was done in two layers. First was a "musculature" layer to fill in the gaps and block out the back and shoulder muscles. I also modeled the skin over the wing extensions. Once this was cured, the fur was sculpted on the arms, back, and sides. I also added some exposed muscle on the shoulders.

As of writing this, the Varghulf is primed and ready to paint. I can't wait to get this beast finished and on the tabletop!

'Til next time!


  1. Frighteningly good! I hadn't really noticed that about bats before, but now that you mention it... I suppose a little character examination would be due for any good modelling project. Thanks for the tips!

  2. Glorious. The bat swarms look fantastic, the contact points aren't immediately obvious in the flurry of bats. The vargulf looks majestic, looking forward to seeing the finished article!

  3. The bat swarms turned out great! Really dynamic. Also did an excellent job with the vargulf. Thank you for the detailed explanation and accompanying pictures; very helpful. Oddly enough, your procedure for pinning the vargulf's leg into its base helped me solve a dilemma I'd been having with a stone troll conversion for blood bowl. Thanks!

  4. Thanks guys! Glad I was able to be helpful, Gary. The finished Varghulf will be going up any day now.


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