Wargaming Tradecraft: Planning Your Artistic Army (with example: Hordebloods)


Planning Your Artistic Army (with example: Hordebloods)

50pts to anyone who gets the reference
Before you get started, you should have a plan of what you're going to do to make your image come to life. This doesn't have to mean writing down every little thing you want to mod, but it could. Nomatter how detailed you decide to get, you should keep records of some kind so that weeks and months from now you can return to this reference and remember what it is you wanted to do. This is ESPECIALLY true if you start planning things well before you're ready to start your army. There's nothing that sucks worse than having inspiration strike and forgetting it.

Weapons of Choice

Before we get started, you're going to need a few things to organize yourself. Depending on the sort of person you are, these will lean to the digital or analog worlds and probably a mix of both.

If you're old-school, make your notes in a notebook. You can print off any images you'd like to take with you and glue or tape them in the book. Because of the rough nature of the notes you'll be taking, you could even fill this notebook with blank paper instead of lined, allowing you to sketch or doodle your ideas to life. If this isn't your thing, maybe you'd like to at a minimum keep a small notepad and pen with you and beside your bed at all times, just incase you have a sudden light bulb. (A smart-phone will also do nicely for sudden note taking)

Even if you go digital, I still suggest having a notepad handy so that you can take notes for any steps that might be tricky to recreate. (Such as colour guides on how you painted something)

If you're a little more new-school, use a word processor. Whether you choose Microsoft Word or OneNote, or use Oracle OpenOffice, (A free and perfectly viable replacement to Word) going digital has many advantages. One of the biggest is it allows you to work very visually. You can right-click "copy" images and paste them into a doc and have source / inspiration images side by side. While you can't sketch ideas in as easily, the images you do capture will be higher quality and you can still surround them with notes.

via, Casio is my camera of choice
A camera will also be useful. You can use it for more than capturing your progress too - use white-tack and stick models and bits in place to try out poses. Take pictures of these planning steps and look at them later to get an idea of what the finished product could look like. 

Here's a secret about digital cameras: The cheapest camera available today is higher quality than the camera I used when I started my blog and works just fine. A webcam (often built into laptops now) will also do. Camera phones are usually still a little low quality, but if it's all you have, it'll do.

A warning: While step by step documentation is nice, the creative process should be very fluid. That is to say - the more you pause and stop, the less you can really let things come to life. For the reason, I don't capture every step when I'm working on higher quality stuff. WIP shots are enough to demonstrate how your process works.


Now lets look at some of my planning stages.

The first thing I did was create a Word document.

I then browsed to the website from Privateer Press containing a gallery of all their models for my chosen Trollblood faction.

I copied every image and pasted them into this word document
1 per page. (Pressing [SHIFT] + [ENTER] ends the current page and starts a new one)
And labelled each page with the name of the model.

For example:
Madrak Ironhide, World Ender

Then I began hunting. I already had an idea of what I wanted to turn some of my models into because of my history with the Warcraft games, so I didn't need to look for inspiration. Instead, I searched for some good photos of who I was looking for... none other than the Warchief himself.
These photos, I added to my document on Madrak's page and updated the description

Madrak Ironhide, World Ender - Thrall (Warrior)

Now, I didn't make too many notes. I'm a much more visual person, so for me a lot of the creation and thinking will be done as I'm working on the model... the only downside to this is I could find myself missing a supply, and have to pause until I get it. (and move on to another model in the meantime)

I did make some notes though. In this case:
  • Black hair. Long braids.
    • Trolls don't have hair... this brings up other questions of "Will I give hair to all my trolls, or leave them all bald?"
    • Do I green-stuff or use fake hair / brush bristles?
    • If I use some sort of fake hair, will it look awkward and out of place with the rest of the model being sculpted?
    • I've never green-stuffed before... am I up to the challenge?
    • Not a huge issue, and something I could think about and decide later, so I left the note and moved on.
  • Matching armour (paint)
    • You'll notice that Madrak and Thrall actually have some similar looking styles of armour. Looking at Madrak, I can see him receiving the black armour with gold trim, then the blue draping.
  • Axe into mace
    • It's Thralls signature weapon - I'm definitely going to have to do some conversion work there.
And that's it... some pictures, a few notes, and on to the next model. This whole process took a good few days of work. First the tediousness of putting every model available into its own labelled page in a work document, followed by the hunting of pictures to flow with my ideas and jotting down notes as I went.

Details to look for when planning

Just a few examples of things to look for when you're planning:

  • Overall themes
    • Is there something to pull the army together?
    • Not everyone's going to be an Orc, it's the Horde...
    • But these trolls have sashes... which turn nicely into Horde tabbards, keeping the red and black theme going.
  • Little details
    • Tattoos, jewelry armour decals and other forms of "art" located on the models.
  • Meshing abilities
    • Models in your army with powers that are similar to those of a "something" you're figuring out how to represent.
  • Things that will challenge yourself.
    • You're only learning and growing if you have problems to figure out how to defeat. Look at these as fun projects to work around.
  • Recognize your limits and seek alternatives
    • Some mods might be too difficult, perhaps "Good enough" still looks great or you can find another way to do something you're pondering.
  • Leaders should stand out
    • Don't make all your models SUPER modded to the extent that you'll never complete the project or everyone looks crazy maxed out. Consider the split between unit commanders and the rank and file.
    • Make your commander look out there.. they'll stand out from the unit.
    • You can still mod the regular troops.

More examples

I won't go into every single one, because I want to cover them as I work on them, but here's a bunch more:

notice that here I also made some notes on the colours I had in mind for the fire.

A few things here...
Replacing the shield completely with something that I'll have to make from scratch for effect.
Even low-res images have a place, just to show an example of the skull I'll paint on his belly armour.
I'm still torn on whether I make him an Ogre or a Tauren... I've planned for a bunch of Tauren, and not many work as an ogre. While he looks mean like an ogre, there's definitely the hunch of a Tauren... decisions, decisions...

This looks like a lot of fun.
The little guy riding on top will be turned into a fire imp.
The helmet will have to be "ripped" in the middle to make room for his horn
Don't forget smaller details like tattoos, which can add a lot of character.

Tattoos aren't the only small details to capture, though this guy does have them.
This troll has a kilt, bracers, anklets and even on his tusk.. all these things can be added with green stuff and molded / carved.
I might leave the mohawk though... I like it.

Don't forget some of the larger details, like weapons.
While he may be holding a marble pillar, I full intend to replace it with a piece of wood carved like the Tauren has.

This is an example of abilities meshing. The Runeshapers have an AOE knockdown ability... and all Tauren have a "War Stomp" ability that temporarily dazes people.

Find fun things you can change... I don't know wtf that pig is doing there, but TheWife suggested a raptor egg hatching.

This may seem random... but let me explain how Whelps work with Trollbloods...
My big nasty uber troll beasts eat them to heal and resist frenzy. Nuff said?

Don't forget about other races. Even the Orcs in the Horde have diversity in the workplace:

Take a look at my Step by Step page for the entire Hordebloods project.

Here you will find each model broken down into links showing each step:
Concept, Works in Progress, (for both modelling and painting) and Final Shots

1 comment:

  1. Liking where you're going with this. The WoW aesthetic maps onto Hordes quite well - I'm not going as far as you but I admit to nicking my colourschemes for Circle models from the various Druid tiers.


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