Saturday, March 22, 2008

Magmatrax Pt. 1 (of 4). By Vince “Boltman” Hudon

When I first envisioned the kind of site I wanted LITW to be, it was designed as a place for not only my work, but also the projects, tips and tutorials of my friends - particularily those who do not have their own site.  As such I have run articles by and about quite the rogues gallery of my peers - Chris Borer, Frosty, Orteza, Dave Pauwels and most recently Dragomir. In the spirit of this sharing communitty of dedicated painters, LITW friend and hero to many Vince "Boltman" Hudon has graciously allowed his amazing tutorials to be hosted here on my site. These articles had at one point been made available on several other websites, but many of these are down or now defunct. So here they are with a new stable and long term home on the net and will remain available in the LITW tutorials section. I hope you Enjoy!
~James K. Craig AKA Tkkultist



As I promised when I started the project, should my Juggernaut project prove successful at the Golden Demons, it would be worth writing a tutorial about it. Little did I know this project would eat over 400 hours over 14 weeks. Most of these hours were spent looking at the model, adjusting the pose, revisiting the color scheme, and learning how to paint each element, taking 2-3 attempts for each new thing. I might not taken many step-by-step pictures on how to paint each element as I walking in the dark myself, trying to nail the effect I wanted. And when I did, it was already painted... Within a year of starting the hobby, I went from "applying paint" to converting and painting a model that would win the 2004 Canadian Slayer Sword. I wasn?t half the painter I am now just before I started this project. It was a very long process, but as Jason Richards himself (an amazing Artist and Gentleman) told me at Toronto Gamesday 2004, once you know how to paint certain things, you just do it, it's much faster. This article is therefore meant to be more of a Walkthrough of my endeavors into making a Golden Demon-class model. It is a long read, but true to my form I wanted it to be thorough.

My wish is that this will serve as a source of inspiration to everyone, to demystify the whole Golden Demon elite painting thing. I am not the long time great artist. I wish to inspire other into believing that with a little bit of talent and a LOT of hard work and dedication, it can be achieved. Just undertake a project that's much higher than your current skill. That's the best way to learn and improve. Frankly, the Juggernaut was way over my skills, had I seen the end result beforehand, I would not have believed I could ever paint that. But with frequent questions asked to the resident painters at and my favorite artists at , I raised my skills, and there is no reason you cannot yourself. Try hard, repaint it as much as you need to get it right, don't just finish your model and hope to improve on the next one. If you really are serious about painting a terrific model, step it up! You won?t learn much by doing your next rank and file trooper which you've already done before. Challenge yourself! I have no background in arts, so if I did it, you certainly can elevate your skills to the next level too. I?m not a big time Golden Demon artist, I'm the underdog who worked really hard. Magmatrax, Champion of Khorne is the result of 25% talent, 75% hard work. Skill, I believe anyone can improve. The online community helped me learn, now I'm returning the favor.

The Concept

I wanted to make a Golden Demon-winning model. How? What to do? So I went online, and since I started the hobby I've been collecting pictures of fantastic miniatures. What made a winning model? Is there a recipe to winning a Golden Demon? Yes and no. Through reading articles by my favorite artists such as Cyril Abati, Victor Hardy and Allan C, chatting with multiple-GD winners like Mark Mosler (Anthraxus) and even the judges at Gamesday, I determined what were vague guidelines I was going to adhere to.

  1. The most valuable thing I discovered is that your entry must be original. Sad to say, your interpretation of a Green Typhus model will have a hard time to score, even if it's magnificently painted, simply because there has been so many submitted already. Don't go for the usual GW color Scheme, and/or convert it to make it a new, never seen model. I wanted my model to stand out, make it something new and different, though clearly identifiable. As Mark Mosler said: "You see Magmatrax and the model punches you right in the face!". You don't need flashiness, but an attention-grabber was what I wanted, I wanted people to remember my piece.

  2. Not all models are created equal. Though it is true a simple model can win the judges over with the purity of its lines, I feel it's a toss-up when it comes to appeal to the judges. A termagaunt for instance, has less potential than a Tyranid Warrior, but not because bigger is better. Because, in my opinion, the warrior has more potential for you to "show off". Of course, you want to make something you like, not what you think the judges will like. However, I'm a fan of the safer tactic, the "in your face big flashy thingy" models that draw attention. This is not to suggest this is the only way, but if your model is impressive and draws attention with the conversion, it's that much less you have to rely on your painting to pull off.

  3. Conversion. Make your model your own, make it unique. It doesn't have to be completely redone like my Juggernaut, but the more different the better.

  4. Freehand. Incorporate some freehand painting, something to show you can paint without lines and borders. This helps making the model your own, and shows you?ve spent effort on it. Magmatrax is not just a Juggernaut, it's the one with the magma scales effect on it's armor. Freehand further personalizes your model.

  5. Make it flawless. I've heard that sometimes models are very close and often given 1st, 2nd or 3rd based on which has the fewest mistakes. This can be a big time sink, but if you can have someone else scrutinize your model for flaws you might have missed, you're that much closer.

  6. Realistic expectations. Ditch that. If you cannot reach higher than you aim, you'd better aim very high. Think of a great idea, then think about how you would redo it if you had already done it once. Think of other good ideas, then pick your favorite. Make sure it?s ambitious. If you don't win, you'll have learned a heck of a lot at least, and end up a much better painter in the end.

  7. A friend to consort with goes a long way. Preferably, one who knows painting miniatures. For painting tips and opinions, and support on those long weeks where I was getting a little discouraged, my gratitude goes to Mark Mosler, Multi-winning Golden Demon winner no less. Watch this guy out, I smell a sword in his future too.

I had wanted to paint a Juggernaut, I thought the model had a lot of potential, though let down by a very static pose, and being a difficult sculpt to modify. I thought the Rider was just boring, and could be spiced up too. I wanted to use certain nice bits I had seen, and I had the vision of Archaon?s chest piece as a rider on a more dynamic Juggernaut, holding a more prowling posture. This was my basic concept. I bought some Blu-tac (the blue gum used to hang poster), browsed for various suitable bitz and ordered them. Since my skills in sculpting were limited, I was going to use bitz as much as I could before having to resort to sculpting my own. I then discovered that Blu-tac was a dream come true to temporary hold pieces while you work on the posture, so I used plenty of it to get the feel of the model, and see how the parts could be matched.

The ConversionThe list of bitz I used:

  • Juggernaut model

  • Archaon?s Torso

  • Grimgor?s left arm (WHFB Orc Warboss)

  • Obliterator legs (the walking version)

  • Berserker Head, shoulderpads

  • Skull Beltbuckle from a regular Chaos marine torso

  • Chaos Champion backpack

  • Ork Choppa arms

  • Marneus Calgar?s right Powerfist

  • 8$ Walmart Jewelery chain

  • Old Guitar Strings from a friend

  • A few Skulls from the Unded sprue

  • Round Toothpicks


Vince's Workspace


Vince's Tools

Juggernaut conversion

I had never seen much work done with Juggernauts in GD competitions, and now I know why. Though I felt the model had a lot of potential, I realized that the sculpt was horrible, with asymmetric parts, and badly sculpted finer features. I spend many hours just filing away excess and sculpting minor add-ons to try and make the model symmetrical. Even so, some things I couldn't pull off, like how the Juggernaut's neck collar has 3 spikes which are not evenly spaced. The collar wasn't actually straight, but that I fixed with GS. The model was not a simple case of cleaning the mold lines, but throughout it all, I still loved the look of the sculpt.


Archaon's chest turned out a perfect fit, the cape having a curve that married itself with the Juggernaut's rear right leg perfectly. The Rider was going to be bigger, but I wanted him to look like is was leaning on the Juggernaut a bit, reeling for the impending jump of the Beast unto it's prey. To accomplish that, the Juggernaut's body had to be much lower than usually mounted on it's legs, to keep the Rider low. The front Left leg would have to be cut and a joint added to fit the prowling pose, and complement the cape flowing on the other side. I decided to have the legs angled in a triangular fashion, wider at the base, to help accentuate the feel of the model being grounded and ready to jump. This also made the juggernaut wider and more imposing. The head had to become horizontal to keep with my concept, and at that point I found 2 horns that were just perfectly curved to make the Juggernaut look meaner.

So piece by piece, I would convert a part and return to the blu-tac master assembly to check for fit. Needless to say I had to rebuild the Blue-tac assembly numerous times as it was sagging with each fit check. I started with the legs, first drilling multiple holes in the legs and body, and inserting half a dozen paper clip rods on each of the shoulder joint. With a gob of Green Stuff, I would stick a completed leg to the body, press to give the right angle, and use lots of Blue-tac to hold the position while the GS cured. The front left leg was sawed above the claw, then each part drilled, a continuous brass rod inserted on each side of the new gap, and glued with epoxy. I could then slightly bend the rod to position the claw, having checked rod length before gluing. Once happy, I made a rubber joint-type connection with GS where there was now a new gap, just like the leg joints on a regular Marine model. The 3 remaining legs would simply need to be positioned with paper clips like I did the first one, each time checking that the Obliterator legs I was going to use would fit well in between. This left me with a big ugly surface between the front legs and a gap at the read of the Jugger, between the legs. The front and rear legs were also farther apart that the original model. I came up with the idea of adding fur to cover these areas, which would also tie in with the pelt on Archaon's body. Thanks to Nexus'  GS Fur Tutorial, and then sculpted fur on the Juggernaut model, and a handy filler which did not need to be a symmetrical feature, easy to cover large areas of sculpting..

The Rider had to be holding onto the Juggernaut, so I glued in each end of a jewelry chain, which each had a bigger link. I then GS'ed a link to the Juggernaut's collar. A strand of the chain would be glued on the fur and the Powerfist would then be glued on top, but the other end was left loose, as I wanted it glued inside the clutched fist, to make it look like the rider was holding the chain.


The head was a lot of work, mainly because the Stock Juggernaut model doesn't have a neck. I cut the neck off, saving the neck collar with 3 spikes to glue back on the body. I then drilled a hole in the body in the middle of the collar, and one at the back of the head underneath the Collar of Khorne on the head. I then used a brass rod (well mine was iron wire) cut to proper size to join head and body. I positioned the head actually lower than the body, to emphasize the prowling pose of the Juggernaut. Again, I would refer to the Blue-tac master assembly time and time again to adjust the position. I epoxy glued the rod in the head, then once dry, made final adjustments and glued the other end of the rod in the body. Next was time to make a neck. Made a few sketches, tried on spare GS, and then put a gob on the neck, working from under the model. I sculpted wires and such, continuing what little was suggested by that very small part of a neck provided with the model. Once dry, I bent Guitar strings to a proper shape, guitar strings being very stiff, I did not have to worry about loosing the shape, and I used GS to attack to the head and the body. I made sure to give the guitar strings a different bend, being more curved on the left side of the Jugger, since that leg was leaning forward, the cables close by were of same length, but restricted in a smaller space. It?s all in the little details. I'll mention it here, but through the painting process when it became time for the eyes I decided the stock model?s were too small. I therefore cut myself a piece of plastic sprue, drilled only 2 mm through an end and beveled the plastic around it, like this picture shows.


The slightly spherical tip of the drill bit would make a perfect rivet-type stamp to make bigger eyes out of GS, which I then stuck over the tiny original juggernaut eyes.

Checking with the Obliterator legs, the original saddle was much too small and deep. I simply filled the original gap with GS, and texture the surface like a leather seat, with a diamond-shaped pattern on the sides. I glued on tiny metallic studs made out of cylindrical pewter flash from another model. I made sure to round the surface with a file before each cut was made in the pewter flash rod, to make a better painting surface later on.


The Base


I wanted the Juggernaut standing atop the battelfield, looking at the puny mortals soon to be crushed. I found a natural rock, which size and shape suited my model well. It had a cleavage cut, too, from which I could exploit the recess underneath to show off my previously acquired glowing lava-effect. I had to pin the juggernaut to the rock somehow though, for solidity. I couldn't drill through the rock, but I figured I could add features with Milliput., a two part putty which is more like clay, whereas GS is more plastic. I added gobs of Milliput on the rock to improve it's features and make it match the Juggernaut's pose better. I needed an outcrop for the front left leg to stand on. I also needed a little extra thickness for some legs to be able to place pins in the base for solidity between model and base. I did so for both right legs, as the rock was thinner on that side. I pinned the Juggernaut paws, and pressed it in the wet Milliput to leave an imprint, but removed the model, which was going to be painted separately. On the extra putty features, I used a broken piece of cork to press on the putty and make texture to work with in the painting stage.

Later, when the Juggernaut was finished and it was time to paint the base, I went back with some putty to exploit a recess in the rock to make a little pool of lava emptying itself a little lower. (back right side). I also added A few skulls to tie in with Khorne and fill an otherwise simple base. The area I had left untouched in the alcove for lava felt like it could be improved. I decided to simulate bubbling, thick lava, and found that the little ball on the back of a SM where you glue on a backpack was just right for the task. I also used a round plastic ball on a leftover sprue for a bigger bubble, and some rigs cut from a smoke launcher nozzle. The smallest burst bubbles were made with a grenade clip, cut in half thickness-wise. Very small, be sure to hold them down when you cut them, or you'll have them bounce out of your sight and loose them.

The Champion


The Champion is where I realized how handy it is to carefully select bitz. I cut off the obliterator legs, and quickly realized that it was a perfect match. On the left side the leg was open outwards, which worked well with my Champion's pose, turned on the left side and holding that Huge axe. The spacing between he obliterator legs was also a very good fit for the Juggernaut width and required no bending. I simply filed off the fleshy bits from the legs, using once again my mighty rotary tool to grind away. I also sculpted treads underneath the boots, in case the GD judges would look.

Now this is where countless checks with blue-tac took place to assert the pose of the champion as each element was gradually glued in. I used the rotary tool to grind away Archaon's shoulder armor, peeping from under the pelt. Starting with the Right shoulder, this was a very long grind and check procedure, until I could fit a complete Berserker shoulderpad. Remember to use a mask, pewter particles are bad for you! I then cut off an Orc arm at the elbow, pinned it in the Torso, and pinned the other end to Marneus' Powerfist, previously drilled between the thumb and fingers to insert the chain form the Juggernaut's neck. I also had to cut off the ammo clip form the bolter that was in the way of my Juggernaut?s right leg. Nothing was glued at this step, just using blue-tac whenever necessary for the parts to hold while I fit them. I went back to the torso and legs, drilling each, and pinning with a piece of rod, cut to length, then glued, and finally bent to appropriate angle. I also drilled a hole in the obliterator legs and glued a paper clip in the saddle. This pin and hole would allow me to pit the champion on the juggernaut at the same place every time I put it on for fit.

Torso and legs now being one, I could glue the right arm on the torso, underneath the shoulderpad with epoxy, and let dry overnight, champion on the juggernaut. Then I worked on sculpting a midsection between torso and legs, and came up with GS trims with studs made in the same fashion as the Juggernaut's eyes, to keep them the exact same size.

The left arm was trickier. I knew it was going to be something the viewer looks at instinctively, so it had to be suitably impressive. I oversized the weapon with an Orc knife as the main blade extension, and reversed part of an Orc axe to complete the other side. Since the plastics were thicker than Grimgor's axe, I used greenstuff to ease the transition. Filing down the plastic knife and axe would have lost the facets of the weapons. I added a toothpick tip on top for good spiky measure, and another knife blade at the bottom of the are handle, to make it a handier weapon for a rider to wield. I finally superglued one end of a cheap jewelry chain on the axe head, wrapped it around and brought it down to the bottom of the pole for looks. Now I had chains and fur on both the rider and mount, which helped emphasize the cohesion of the model.

Next was the left shoulderpad. Since there was going to be too much grinding involved, I tried a new approach: only adding the visible part of the shoulderpad. It proved tricky to match to the fur, and in the end, I only used a little bit of a pad, stuck in there with GS which I sculpted the missing parts to smooth the pad with the fur line. I drilled underneath again for a pin to attach the axe arm with. Once the arm was glued (using epoxy and a profusion of blu-tac to hold in place while it dried) I finished the connection with the body with GS.

The backpack was then stamped on a gob of GS stuck on the back fur, and removed for the GS to dry. A paperclip was used as a pin, but the backpack kept separate for painting.

Finally the head, another focal point. I really liked the Berserker head I used, and didn't feel major conversion was in order. I simply added a few toothpick spikes on the head for a little more cohesion with the Juggernaut?s spikes. I glued the head in a forward position, and then sculpted a collar our of GS with stamped studs, and that was it!

To this point the complete conversion took about 50 hours.


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