Finally, I'm back with another update Chapter 2: Shining Spears
So, as I mentioned above, the Shining Spears project turned out to be a tough one.
But wait - first, let me start with a note on the colour schemes in 8th edition. This would also be a reply to latest comments by Magenb, Looshkin and Ynnead.
As we all know, background-wise our Aspect warriors are traditionally entitled to their own colour schemes, which can be different from the base colours of their craftworld. However, as you guys rightly mentioned, it is also not unknown for the Aspects to wear the Craftworld's colours. As for me, I was always gravitating towards each Aspect wearing its own colour scheme: for me, the classic colour of each aspect - bone of the Banshee, green of the Scorpion, black of the Reaper - always felt like an essential part of that aspects visual style. Besides, being able to combine different colour schemes within one army provides a much welcome diversity in painting - painting endless bright reds can be tiring!
Also, quite unexpectedly, the 8th edition has brought yet another incentive to keep each aspect to its own colour scheme. Most of the new codices feature many different special rules, stratagems, etc. tied to specific factions or sub-factions. As a result of this, as I mentioned before in other threads, it has become a bit of a tendency lately that TOs of many high-quality events started to treat the faction-related colour schemes as part of WYSIWYG requirements. E.g., if your Space Marines are painted as Black Templars or Salamanders, you'll have to use them as such and would not be allowed to use them as "counts-as Ultramarines". Same with Eldar, an army painted in distinct red and black of Saim-Hann would not be allowed to be used as Alaitoc. Furthermore, even if your force is painted in some non-standard colour scheme of your own design, and per basic rules you can use them with any sub-faction rules, you won't be allowed to have two different detachments following 2 different sub-faction rules, because in order to do that units in those detachments would have to be painted differently.
With this situation in mind, its easy to see that traditional Aspect colour schemes are just the thing that can be used to bypass those restrictions (to an extent). Basically, a unit of Aspect warriors painted in their traditional colours can be used in any Craftworld's detachment without formal violation of WYSIWYG rules. For me, this was the key consideration that settled the matter: my Aspects would be wearing their traditional colours, and my Shining Spears had to be blue.1. Converting
But even before I got to the colour scheme, I ran into the problem of sculpt.
I won't even mention that the failcast had more bubbles in it that normal resin - that's kind of normal, sadly. However, when I was half-way through assembling the riders, I was shocked to realise that the legs of the riders were absolutely out of scale! While the resin Shining Spear torsos and heads are about the right size, legs are so short and thin they look almost child-like compared to legs of any other Eldar model. Perfectionist as I am, I just had to find some way to fix this issue.
I quickly remembered that the legs of my old converted Windriders (I posted the pics of them in my earlier posts in this thread) didn't look that disproportional. When I pulled them out, I realised that the resin shining spear legs are clearly shorter and smaller even than the plastic legs of the old jetbikers. So I decided to replace the resin legs with the plastic ones - thankfully, I still have dozens of them lying around. However, when I took a pair of plastic jetbiker legs and filed off poach and pistol holster, I realised that they look kind of thin and not particularly well-armoured compared to the massive armour plates featured on a shining spear torso. At this point it became clear that in order to make the legs visually match the torsos I'll have to sculpt some extra armour onto them.
Here's a picture that would hopefully illustrate what I'm talking about:
The model on the right is a pair of plastic jetbiker legs with a foot guardian torso attached to them (used it later on as a test model for colours). The model on the left is a resin Shining Spear torso attached to an identical pair of plastic legs but with extra armour sculpted onto them with Milliput.
As you can see, the thicker and bigger armour plates make the legs look better armoured. I also had to bulk out the inner side of the left thigh a bit - after pistol holster and its straps were filed off, they revealed that the "bare" left thigh is visibly thinner than the right one.
You can also just about make out that I added an extra piece of plastic at the waist to make the torso sit higher above the legs, so that the whole figure appears taller. I made those "waist extenders" from the bottom parts of old jetbiker torsos (the ones with Ku Klux Klan-style helmets) - they have buttons and straps in front, which makes them look like a kind of broad belts.
Here's a close-up of the converted Exarch.
The Shining Spears' armour is sculpted in such way that they have their right sides much more heavily armoured than the left sides. This actually looks quite cool, and confers a clear idea that their suits are optimised for the situation when they attack with their lances with their right side facing the enemy. I tried to match the style of leg armour to the original shining spear legs, and made the plates on the right leg heavier and more enclosed to match the torso armour. I'm actually quite happy with the way how curved lower-leg plate on the right leg turned out.
Note that even though knee-pads are grey plastic, they are actually also converted
I cut off the original narrow oval knee-pads and replaced them with bigger and more massive-looking knee-pads from the foot Guardian legs (I do have some spare infantry legs left from those torsos that I used to convert my Windriders). Did I mention that I'm a crazy perfectionist?
I did come up with a cheeky way to reduce the amount of sculpting though: in my squadron of 6 Spears two riders are distinctly female, and those two females I assembled with the original small resin legs. I thought it appropriate for the two girls to have somewhat smaller and more slender stature - and I can't think of a more awesome image than that of a slender Eldar girl tearing right through massive Space Marines and IG battle tanks
Here's a little illustration of my approach to painting in sub-assemblies:
As you can see, I glued torsos and legs together but kept both arms separate - this was essential to provide easy access to every part of a model with an airbrush. Each part was mounted on a separate piece of wine cork. Corks are numbered on the under-side - so that I can keep track of which pair of arms corresponds to which body.
Here's what the final results of assembly and conversion work looked like:
Looking at the two bodies closest to the camera, you can kind of see the difference in size and length between converted legs and the standard resin ones.2. Painting
Next came the stage that is always the hardest for me: designing a colour scheme.
"Standard" GW colour scheme for Spears is mostly white - but white just doesn't work for me as a main colour, so I wanted my Spears to be mostly blue with just a little white. Figuring out colours for a jetbike was actually quite easy - but when I got to riders, I found myself stuck.
I didn't want the armour of the riders to be solid blue - it would've made them look too much like Dire Avengers. The most natural approach seemed to be to paint armour plates and under-suit two different colours. I started with trying white plates on blue under-suit, but it looked wrong. Then I tried blue armour plates on white under-suit - but that looked just horrible, giving an impression of armour plates being grafted straight to a rider's underwear
Blue plates themselves looked good though, so I proceeded trying all thinkable variants on under-suit colour, but nothing seemed right.
It was only thanks to the advice of my lovely wife (being a bit of an artist herself, she's my muse, arts advisor and a critique all in one
) I stumbled upon a quite unconventional solution that actually worked: I painted the rider's under-suit bluish-silver metallic.
It's unusual for the armour of Craftworld Eldar to look metal, but in this case it felt 100% appropriate. The silver worked great with blue, and it also gave the riders the feeling of being massively armoured - which was just the effect I was looking for.
I started with painting the Exarch as a test model. It's a useful trick when painting Aspects: Exarchs can have their armour looking differently from the rest of the squad, so I knew that if I complete him and decide to make some minor changes to the colour scheme, I would be able to leave him as-is and just paint the rest of the squad slightly differently.
Unfortunately, this time I don't have any step-by-step pics, so I'll have to jump straight to the end results. Here's how the Exarch turned out:
The model could benefit from some kind of decoration in the form of runic script on the armour. Alas, I'm not into free-handing, so in the end I just broke up the monotony on some of the big flat blue surfaces with some scratches and slashes, both on the bike and the rider. The only thing that is slightly off about this model is that bright white decorations on the bike's prow tend to distract all the attention from the rider - so I decided that the regular riders would look better with white helmets.
To make long story short, here's what my 'production line' looked like when the work on 5 regular Spears was already nearing completion:
And, finally, this is the complete result.
Casting false modesty aside, I think they look awesome
This project was crazy long. Effectively, I started working on these guys around 20th of December, and finished them just last week, on 20th of February, making it two full months. However, there was a week of New Year holidays when I barely did anything, so the effective timing was about 8 weeks. It took me almost precisely 4 weeks to get from unpacking the first box to the completed Exarch, and then 4 weeks more to paint the remaining 5 regular Spears. I really need to find some way to speed things up...
I already took them to a local 2250 pts tournament this weekend (the one I wrote about in another thread on the Eldar board), where they did just great. Here's one nice shot of them at the peak of action, doing just the thing they're made for:
And also, just for your viewing pleasure, here's a bird's eye view of my whole 2250 force that I used in the tournament.
Please excuse me for so much text and so few pictures.
The post is already too long, so I'll wrap it up with a little sneak-peek of my next project...
And also - if you're interested in any details about the colour scheme, painting process, paints, materials and tools I used, etc. - please, by all means feel free to ask, I'll be happy to respond!
To be continued...