I painted a Megalith, let me show you it
I haven't posted too much tabletop-minis-game-related stuff on this site up until now, but hey! I'm getting real close to painting completion on my Circle Orboros army (for the game Warmachine/Hordes) and I wanted to show off some of my work. WARNING turn back now if you don't want to read extreme levels of miniature painting geekery.
This is Megalith. I just finished painting it few days ago. I tried out several new paint techniques that I haven't used before, and I'm quite happy with how it came out.
The story is that he's a construct of wood and stone, magically brought to life by the druid Baldur The Stonecleaver. The vines and branches that make up his body are still alive, so he regenerates damage, he can put down roots into the soil to avoid being knocked down, and he can create an area effect of undergrowth that tangles up enemies. He also channels his controller's magic, and crushes things with his Rune Fists.
In short, he's totally awesome in-game, the linchpin of many tactics, and he deserves a cool model to match. The default Megalith model is OK, but he's got his arms up in a pose like he's doing the YMCA dance. I decided to make some modifications.
So step 1 was to repose his arms, which was not easy, because he's made of metal, and only designed to go together one way. But a lot of hacking with a tiny saw and drilling with a Dremel tool let me get his arms down. It left a lot of gaps that had to be filled with greenstuff (epoxy putty). I tried to sculpt texture into the greenstuff to match what was already there; luckily, wood grain/vines/rope are among the easier textures to sculpt with a pointy stick.
I also sculpted greenstuff roots to extend out of his feet and spread across the base, representing the idea that he's sinking roots into the ground. The "rocks" on the base are just pieces of bark I picked up from the backyard.
The kit came with an awkward twig piece which is supposed to stick out of his back, but it looked wrong. Too abbreviated. So I extended it with some branch pieces I clipped off a Woodland Scenics brand tree armature (made for model train layouts) to make my Megalith into a proper tree-monster. Took some more pieces of the tree armature and had them growing out of the roots on the base, like new plant life is bursting up out of the ground wherever he walks.
Of course if I glued all that on permanently, he would be too tall to fit in the foam bag I use to transport my minis to games. So I made the tree assembly removable, with a pin that plugs into a socket on his back. Disguised the join as best I could.
I use a desert color scheme on my Circle Orboros; forest-themed druids have been done to death, and besides, every ecosystem probably has its own druids looking after it. Druids know that the desert isn't just a barren wasteland but a fragile and intricate ecosystem that needs their protection.
I basecoated him using a Tamiya "light sand" color spraypaint that I got from a Gundam model shop in Seattle. I love this color; it's the perfect desert-tan color that I've been trying to achieve. My only regret is now I want to touch up the tans on the rest of my army to match it better.
After the basecoat, I used an old toothbrush dipped in wet paint to splatter a fine mist of brown, black, and white dots randomly over the model. They don't show up individually but the idea was just to give the stone surfaces the illusion of a rough, stony texture. It's a subtle effect but I'm quite happy with it.
Next I mixed up a shade color to wash into the recesses to give the model more definition. Usually I would just use a darker version of the base color, but I decided to add some hue contrast as well, so I mixed green and orange to make an ugly greenish-brown. I really like the warm/cold contrast it adds and the hint that moss has been growing in Megalith's recesses while he was standing around.
I drybrushed GW Bleached Bone, always stroking down from the top, to apply a subtle highlight to the sun-facing raised edges.
The runes and crystals are all done with GW Hawk Turquoise, a color I use throughout the army; I chose it to complement the desert yellows and reddish-browns while serving as the "sky" of an earth-and-sky theme. For the runes, and the eyes, I just mixed the turquoise with a lot of white, watered it down, and let it flow into the crevices. For the crystals on his fists I tried a bit of an optical-illusion effect: i.e. that's not a reflection, it's just various shades of turquoise paint with a dot of white paint at the top.
I used mostly inks and drybrushing for the wooden parts. If I do any more work on this model, I would want to add a little more contrast to the wooden parts, maybe make the vines stand out more from their background.
After all the paint was dry, I ripped up some clumps of Woodland Scenics synthetic foliage and glued them onto the branches. I drybrushed the clumps with GW Camo Green to give them a bit of color variation.
The last new technique I tried out on this model was painting a freehand vine pattern along the front edge of the base. (To avoid any ambiguity about which way your models are facing in a game of Warmchine/Hordes, you're supposed to mark the base to indicate the 180 degrees of the model's "front arc".) Usually I just do two lines on the edges of the front arc, but I wanted to try something a little fancier. Not sure if I'm going to keep doing it; I like how it looks up close, but from a distance it just turns into a blur.