I think October is going to be, fittingly, the month of the wolf. Up first, the evolution of my dire wolf units, and a quick modeling guide for my Doom Wolves.
The Doom Hounds of Marduk
On the fringes of the Legion of the Infernal Skull's battle line, dire wolves slather and howl as they tear across the battlefield. These feral hounds are the "pets" of one maddened vampire– Marduk "the Wolf" Von Koss. The brutal killer has fought alongside the beasts, charging into the fray on horseback or even on foot with an unnatural, lupine speed.
This unit represents my "classic" dire wolves, with the original Marduk riding alongside. It includes the old metal doom wolf model but, prior to that model's release, the unit leader was represented by the wolf with a bone in its mouth.
Evolution of the Wolf
Dire Wolves were in the first incarnation of the Vampire Counts army book, back in 1999. At the time, there weren't any official dire wolf models, so I made due with the "regular" GW wolves, typically used as goblin wolf rider mounts. People used to ask how they could make dire wolves, and I'd joke, "Just get regular wolves and paint them to look evil."
Eventually, "proper" dire wolf models were released. These used the same plastic wolf body and a metal head with significantly larger teeth. I picked up a few of these to fill out my wolf unit.
As my modeling skill improved, I started adding elements like tombstones and skeletons to the bases. I also realized that I needed to putty the seam along the wolf's neck. This next version is what I thought would be the "final" version of my wolves. I planned to eventually revisit the older models and sculpt fur over their neck seams.
Before getting too far into that project, the new (at that time) Chaos hounds were released. These were some of the nicest "hound" models ever produced, almost custom tailored to be converted into dire wolves! They had exposed skulls and a few even had some ribs poking out. With a little modeling, they became my new Doom Hounds of Marduk.
Backing up a couple years, the dire wolf unit leader (called a doom wolf) underwent a similar evolution. At first, there was no official model, so I represented the doom wolf with a converted "regular" wolf.
Before long, GW produced a metal doom wolf model. It was suitably larger, with exposed bone.
When I settled on the Chaos hound-converted wolves, they went without a doom wolf for almost a decade. The old model just didn't cut it compared to my new conversions. Finally, this year GW released the Thunderwolves and Fenrisian Wolves for 40K. The Fenrisian Wolves are a little small (I'll discuss them in the dire wolf tutorial), but the Thunderwolves are perfect! A little putty to replace the 40K tech bits with undead details, and I've got a doom wolf suitable to lead the Doom Hounds of Marduk into battle!
Converting the Doom Wolf
This conversion uses the "B" Thunderwolf model, but the others work just as well. I began by cleaning the mold lines and super gluing the body, legs and paws together. With my hobby knife (a dremel or clippers would work as well), I cut away all of the techy details, and started adding modeling putty to conceal the seams where the parts join together.
The saddle strap, in particular, needed to be removed and I took this opportunity to gouge a divot in the model's side and sculpt some innards, ribs, and hanging flesh.
Once the inner layer of putty dried, I sculpted the fur around the outside of the wound.
The rest of the seams were concealed with sculpted fur, taking care to match the stylized pattern of fur around the putty work.
For the head, I used Logan Grimnar's wolf skull, and placed it into a cutout on the plastic head. There's also a small tear in the wolf's mouth that I added with my hobby knife.
The fur and torn flesh was sculpted around the eye socket and built up to add more texture to the flat areas.
With the sculpting complete, the wolf was added to its base. Because the wolf is so long, I glued the feet as far back as possible and added some putty to angle the model upward. Now he'll tower over the enemy models in front of him rather than colliding with them.
A little paint, and he's ready to take his place as the alpha of the pack!
Coming up, I'll give a full tutorial on the conversion and painting of the dire wolves themselves, and we'll see that new Marduk model I've been teasing on Facebook and the Carpe Noctum Vampire Counts forum.