Friday, 14 July 2017

Miniature Showcase: Bishmeister, The Moonclan

So today is an epic Miniature Showcase, I am joined by Christian, otherwise known in the community as Bishmeister! I was lucky enough last year to meet Bish and talk about his amazing Moonclan army he had bought along. The army is only half of it though. It is the display they are featured on that really pulls in you, your imagination runs wild and you are left in awe of the most amazing hobby ever. So buckle in and enjoy the ride as Christian shows us just what Hobbying is and how it should be done.

Sean - Hi Bish, how are you? I have wanted to feature the moonclan for a while and now we have Squigs winning Heat 3, its probably the perfect time! I know this project have been a labour of love for you for some time but just how long does a project like this take?

Bish - Hi Sean, Thank you for showing an interest in my Moonclan Grot army and for inviting me on your blog to discuss this project in detail.
From start to finish this project almost took exactly two years, this for me, is fairly quick. Although don’t be fooled to think that this army is finished, this is just a battalion of the army that I have planned. This of course is a much longer term project that I will dip into now and again when I feel the need to get some Grots in my life. I have a truck load more squigs to paint, I will be adding a Troll battalion and a spider battalion and in the same theme of the Moonclan Grots. 
This is sitting on my painting table at the moment.

Sean - Do you have some background the army at all, a story as to why they are forest dwelling moonclan or was it just an idea made manifest?

The background for this army is covered extensively on the TGA community blog post listed at the end of this article. However my goal with the army was to make use of the countless Grot models I had, create a Moonclan Grot army that stood out from the rest and to try and take army painting to a new level on the tournament scene. I’ll discuss these three points in more detail in turn.
I’ve been collecting goblin models since the 80’s, I have hundreds and metals and plastics. I love all the old classic ‘humorous’ goblin sculpts but I’m particularly fond of the ‘Battle of Skull Pass’ goblins so decided to use mostly these in the army.
I carried out a lot of research prior to starting the army because I wanted an army like no other Moonclan Grots, the classic red squig army from a cave environment. Having searched the internet I found there were no blue squig armies, so that is what I went for. I also wanted something different for their environment from caves so I thought that deep fantasy forests would be just as dark and damp as caves and a perfect environment for Moonclan Grots, Squigs and giant fungus. So I went for a forest theme which directly contrasted with the cave aesthetic.
To take this army to what I believed to be a contender to best army at a tournament I also carried out a lot of research. I used the internet and listened to podcasts talking about army painting at events. So I compiled the essential criteria for an award winning army and set about making sure that I ticked all these boxes at the maximum level.
The bad dice, Heelanhammer and The Black Sun podcasts were very helpful for this, particularly Mark Wildman who would discuss this subject at great length. So it seemed that the essential criteria for an award winning army were (in no particular order):
Consistency: All models painted to the same high standard, blending and freehand essential.
Theme/Narrative: A clearly identifiable theme running through the army, conversions and kitbashes preferred.
Basing: all bases carry a consistent theme throughout the army that enhances but not distracts from the model.
Display board: sets the scene and enhances the theme.
So my plan to achieve this was to paint the Grots as normal Moonclan, black cloaks, but to make sure that I highlighted using blending and made sure that each Grot had some freehand painted on in the form of a toadstool pattern on the hem of the hood. I also spent a lot of time making sure the skin tone popped through the use of blending up to a fairly light green. After painting a test model I wrote down the recipe and made sure every model from Grot to Warboss was painted to the same level. This was helped by making up pots of my own highlight colours premixed with Lhamian medium.
After kit-bashing the models I pinned them to a cork carousel so they could be sprayed with a base coat of dark grey.

After being base coated I put them on individual corks to help handling whilst painting.

Some of the finished Grot models.

Sean - On the squids themselves, what is your painting technique for achieving the awesome blue?

The squig models were painted with a zenithal effect using an airbrush (I use the cheapest one on the market) for the base coat, going from very light blue on top to a dark blue underneath. I didn’t really think a freehand pattern was appropriate for squigs so I spent extra time on the blending to help them pop. Again I premixed four pots of different shades of blue for the highlighting. I tried a test model with spots but it didn’t look so good so I scrapped that idea.Squig Hopper unit

Most of the Grot models, (probably 90%) have been kit-bashed using different weapons from other races, this also ties into the background and theme for the army being scavengers. The regular cave squigs have had no kit-bashing or converting because I thought that it wouldn’t enhance the models from the original sculpt. I did spent a lot of time converting the Squig hoppers and larger squigs and making them more dynamic again adding to the theme of the army.
The Colossal Cave Squig with added fanatics, balls and chains.

The Squig Manglers

The Squig Gobber

Warboss on Cave Squig

I also had some Trolls in the army.

With the basing I wanted a forest theme so I set about making my own forest resin bases. My opinion on bases is that they are like onions, it’s all about the layers. So I made resin bases containing tree stumps, large leaves, skulls and toadstools. These also added height to the diminutive Grots which helped them stand out literally. Having painted up my resin base I then added homemade leaf litter, toadstools and shop bought flock, tufts and aquarium foliage. I made sure that every base had a few of these elements. 
I had originally made these as square bases as this was still before the advent of AOS, it didn't take too much effort to convert these to rounds.

Sean - What flock and leave debris do you use for the floor covering?

Making the leaf litter, collect leaves from garden, dry in oven.

Scrunch up and sieve to make consistent size.

The finished leaf litter.

Making toadstools - paperclip with greenstuff cone. painted in batches on corks.

I also made regiment bases in the same theme as the model bases. These served a couple of purposes, they made it easier to remove the models from the display board, they helped with moving the army around the battlefield and they helped to create a ‘scene’ for each unit.

Sean - From what I saw at #RAW16, its a 2x2 display board right? What material did you use as the base material, i.e. the material used to build up the cave walls etc and How do you begin a project like this, is it all from concept drawings or do you go by trial and error?
The display board was a colossal undertaking that involved a huge amount of planning. Again I research the internet and had a look at what other people had done. Ricky Fischer’s display board was a great inspiration, as was his army, for what can be achieved. So I knew I wanted a forest theme and I knew the army that I wanted it to display.
First issue was that there were way too many models to fit into a 2’x2’ display board which meant that it needed to be multi level. I set about by drawing two 2’x2’ squares on flipchart paper and placing my army in situ. I then had to combine this with the forest theme so I went to the internet again and found some great pics of forest caves.

After positioning the army and working out how the army would be viewed on the different levels I drew lots of sketches and made a full size mock up in cardboard. This was an essential stage in working out the finer details of height clearance and making the two levels interact with each other so it looked natural. I also wanted to make sure that there was enough space to allow light into the cave and for the models to be visible.
An endless supply of tea is essential for any hobby project.

After the card mock up I set about making the base structure from MDF and 5mm expanded PVC. I used 5mm ePVC as it is very strong and as I intended to sink the models bases into the board I needed something with a good depth. 5mm ePVC is not easy to cut with a scalpel but I needed it to be precise, cutting the circles for all the bases to a long time and resulted in my fingertip being numb for a month.
The first step was to add in the ribs to create the different levels.

Sean - How did you carve out the cave on the board and how did you think about the light coming in and how it would effect it?

The base was constructed to be viewed as a diamond rather than a square. This was necessary to create the scene required but also had the added bonus of standing out as this is not the norm. The base was made in two parts to allow access the cave underneath. I cut holes on either side to allow light in and to facilitate a different view point for the spectator.
The rocks were made from tree bark and car body filler and the cave interior was sculpted using polystyrene, the cheap stuff. I used this for the cave as I had to keep the weight down and it would be under much less scrutiny being mostly covered.

The rocks and the leaf litter areas were painted with a spray gun attached to a compressor. This allowed me to mix up a large quantity of my own colours using car paints. This is also great for covering large areas and creating a natural looking speckled effect. 

The sides were to resemble a dark foreboding forest which was difficult to achieve. I set about using an airbrush to create layers of tree trunks, I wanted these to appear almost ethereal.

After the painting was complete I set about adding the foliage. Again this is all about the layers. I added; leaf litter, tufts, clump foliage, flock, aquarium plants and toadstools. For the smaller trees I used model trees and made some palms from pine twigs with aquarium foliage.

Sean - Where do all the trees and bushes on the display board come from or are they scratch built?

Next came the issue of how I was to achieve the tree canopy which gave the impression of a dense forest but allowed the spectator to view all the models. I had the idea of the tree branches coming in from the sides of the display board using twigs with dried Hydranga flower heads to create the structure of the canopy. These were then covered with the stuffing from an old cushion, sprayed green and then small woodland scenic’s foliage poured onto the wet paint.
Canopy production in full swing at the hobby desk.

The display board also incorporates some removable terrain pieces, lots of large blue toadstools, a toadstool cops and a toadstool Realm Gate that further enhance the theme and add narrative to my games in the form of objective markers. These were specifically added to meet the requirements of the Realms At War event in 2016.

I thoroughly enjoyed working on this project and have been lucky enough to win some trophies with it at events and have met some really fantastic people who really appreciate my work.

The Squig Triumvirate leading the maniacal charge.

Sean - Do you have more planned for the army, going into forest spider riders would be my own selfish dream for you to do, would love to see what you do with them!
This project means more to me than anything I have worked on in the past. Three quarters of the way through this project I was diagnosed with bowel cancer and thought that the army would never be finished.
 Having a life event of this nature helps to redefine what is really important to you. There was one thing I wanted, which was to complete this army for the RAW2016 narrative event which would be my first ever Warhammer event. I’ve spent 30 years in the Warhammer hobby and never finished painting an army to be used for gaming.
Ironically having cancer turned out to be a bit of a silver lining as it meant that I was off work for 5 months recovering and the only thing I was fit to do was painting models. I would’ve never finished the army in time without this time off and knowing I had a deadline kept me motivated and focused during a particularly difficult time in my life. Painting models gave me purpose and the positive feedback I was receiving through Twitter followers helped to keep my spirits up. It’s just over a year and three operations since my diagnosis and I’m almost back to ‘normal’ and healthy with the addition of a few scars.
Sean - I can remember initially hearing on The Black Sun about the illness and thought to myself just how much of an inspiration that is to not only our Hobby but life. I am so glad to hear your almost back from it dude. You have booked up to come along to the Rise of Empires Map Campaign Event next Feb too. Do you have something planned for this or will we see the Moonclan descend upon the city? 

I intend to carry on using the Grot army at future events as think it still has a lot of life in it yet. I don’t attend many events as I am mostly a painter rather than a gamer but I very much enjoyed the RAW and Coalescence narratives events and will be attending RAW again this year and your event, Rise of Empires, which I’m very much looking forward to. I don’t game in between events as I spend my time painting and model making which is why I barely know the rules for my army.
I will be entering this army into the Armies on Parade, hopefully at Warhammer World. It will be getting a bit of an update with the addition of glowing blue crystals in the cave and a leviathan for the very front of the model. The canopy is looking a bit worse for wear so I will be revisiting this also at some point.
Sean - What are you currently working on?

Since completing the army I set to work on the extension to my Darklands table for the Mierce stand at Salute 2016. This was completed on time and I very much enjoyed working on this and look forward to extending it further for next year’s Salute.

I am currently painting some Darklands models, some Welsh boys for Mierce then I intend to paint a few Jutes, these are their undead army which are such beautiful models. I am also building a Skaven Blood Bowl pitch based on a sewer theme.
Sean - Is there anything else you would like to add or promote?
If people are interested to know and see more about this project you listen to The Black Sun Podcast episode xxx where I discuss this project and some of the materials used with Chris Tomlin and you can visit my blog posts the TGA community where I look at things in a little more detail.
Thanks for this opportunity to share my thoughts behind my hobby.

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