Friday, 10 March 2017

How I did it: Khorne Khorgorath

-You're gonna need a bigger boat. -

The Khorgorath is a strange model.
It has some of the most intriguing bits I've ever seen for a "starting kit" and, at the same time, some of the silliest.

Darkness bigger cousin

Take a look at the right hand, for instance.
It's a fierce-looking skull maw with pretty detailed fangs and even some sorte of lamprey mouth on the "palm"; even the transition between the bone part and the fleshy arm, near the armor, is more than simply decent.
Awesome, isn't it?
Ok, now take a look at the general proportions of the head. Big fangs, gigantic horns and... a little tiny skull...with plumerd earrings...

Khorgorath, the early days

Not exactly something resembling a walking horror, constantly gorging on the skulls and bones of those unlucky enough to cross its path.
Another thing that puzzled me, was the overall lack of the skin texture. Except a couple of bits, everything is smooth like some sort of deformed body builder.
I'm still a novice about the AoS lore, but in my opinion a Khorne abomination should be clearly something driven by rage, pain and anger, but at the same time almost impervious to most attacks, like a roaring tank made of flesh.
That being said, since I greatly enjoyed my first ride with the Green Stuff , I decided to try something a bit more complex but with the safety net of the subject: there are no errors while sculpting Chaos, just further features.

One of the basic rules of good character/creature design is "make it functional". If the khorgorath is a described as a hulking beast with a solid skull diet, then you need:
The shoulders of our fellow are quite broad, and the plastic is thick enough to be drilled more or less at the base of the trapezium, offering two perfect anchor point for the wire armor.
The third hole will be just a bit over the Khorne mark on the chest. This way, we can use the rest of the former head structure as a base for our second mouth.

GS remains flexible after curing, so you can still make minor adjustments
Fix the wires with just with enough GS to make it solid, but still movable, and let it cure totally. The mouth will be the most prominent feature and the jaws position can move the International Badass Scale from Rob Bottin Nightmare to Power Rangers' Villain. Just be sure to remain on the right side.
Remember that the armor will be crucial for the "lips" shape, while the head structure can be adjusted lately.
Once satisfied take your time and encase the wire in GS, without changing the shape of the armor.
Again this is a pretty crucial step, let the putty cure completely before proceeding.
Now it's time to build up the structure.

It's my first time with "organic" sculpting of this size, so I don't know if there's a better way to do it, but, as for mechanical one, working for in layers and with a solid reference (a.k.a. google images) under your eyes is a pretty solid strategy.
I worked "inside-out", basing the sculpt through what I imagined being the muscle/tissues sequence of the creature. So, starting from the inner maw shape, the roof of the mouth, the gums and so on.

Yeah, I know... the silly teeth..

As you probably know I'm slow as a crippled slothbear, and GS is awfully sticky right after preparation and tend to become unsculptable after a couple of hours, so to avoid wasting money and time, I started splitting the putty in small balls, and putting them in the freezer.
Kneadatite (the "technical" name of GS) cures by endothermic reaction, so as it speeds up when heated, it slows down when refrigerated.
In this way you can take all the time you need and get the material "half cured" just when you need it, avoiding the any waste and the initial stickiness.
The teeth were a bit complex at the beginning. I tried carving them directly on the gums, then sculpting and sticking them while still soft but the results were, as you can see from the last photo, well.... quephtionable.

Like thiph...

So, I decides to turn one of those GS balls in a ludicrous amount of teeth, letting them cure by themselves before starting playing the orthodontist.
Again, this worked for me, but probably it's not the quickest way to do it.

These were shaped simply by twirling small GS bits between thumb and index

Since the retractable claw on the right shoulder was a bit distracting, I decided to change it, adding a further mouth. This was also pretty useful to test the various teeth-tactics (Ah-ah-ah.... sorry).

Some decent implantology

The inner mouth was surprisingly easy to shape and it's based on something apparently diametrically opposed to our friendly aberration: the lower lip and the stigmatic surface of an orchid.

Ok, the orchids normally have no teeth...

I've simply put a long "petal" of GS at the base of the former neck, folded it on itself and then modelled the throat with a conic shaper.
Literally easier to do, than to explain.
While still soft, I stuck some pre-cured teeth around the "flower".
The lower jaws were crafted like the upper one, using the spare material to add structure here and there between the cureing sessions.

The idea for the "hook" on the nose was taken from the alligator turtle

With the head and mouth problem almost solved, it was time to address the skin matter. Again, being a total novice on organic sculpting, it was just a matter of choosing the correct reference.
I don't know if you've ever been at a zoo, but nothing screams "bulletproof animal" like the rhinoceros. The folds on the articulations and the net of wrinkles, together with the greyish colour, make the creature looks like it's made of breathing concrete.
The folds were the easy part. All I had to do was just adding thin layers of partially cured GS on the model and push the material where I needed, adding the extra skin on the bulging muscles and the articulations, but how about the texture?Luckily, some time ago I came across an amazing tutorial about maquette sculpting by Peter Konig (a.k.a. Smellybug).
So, after some tests on plastiline, I ended up crafting the two unexpensive tools needed for my idea.

The one on the right was the conic shaper used for the inner mouth

What you see in the photo are a couple of dead ball-pen encasings, broken guitar strings and some milliput.
I don't know the chord notes, but they are 0.2/0.4 mm thick for the "rake" and 0.8/1.0 mm for the other one. Why guitar strings? Well, they are made of steel and even if that thin, they still have enough rigidity to slightly engrave the GS. Moreover, the thicker one has the tiypical round wire wrapped in a tight spiral, really good for some extra texturing.
Anyway, on such a tiny scale, we have a problem. On one hand we need to overcome the elasticity of the GS, and on the other we need to avoid the "slice & dice" effect; after all we want texture, not some sort of emo-monster.
Again, the internet provides lots of tricks, like using a piece of plastic over the working area to avoid the direct contact of the tool. This will distribute the weight of the tool, avoiding clear cuts.

Take extra-care while working on wide areas. Once cured, fingerprints are quite hard to remove

Clearly no tutorial can replace the direct experience and, as you can see, I lost lots of details from the initial sculpt. Depending on the time and temperature, GS gets less collaborative, stretching back while curing, and on a such a tiny scale you have to remember that even a couple of thin layers of primer can fill the smallest wrinkles.
Anyhow the final result was more than I expected.

Since I had some spare material, I added the little membranes between the tentacles

The priming phase was quite straightforward, just a black and white spray to have an idea on lights and shadows.

As you can see from the blots, the white spray can was at the end...

Given the size I was able to get back to my beloved airbrush and shade the various areas with dark flesh tones and a mixture of red and violet for the mouth/spines. Here's the sequence:
  1. Vallejo 72.744
  2. Vallejo 72.771
  3. Vallejo 72.772
  4. Vallejo 72.203
  5. Vallejo 72.772 + Vallejo 72,715

Using thin layers, the overall shadows will still be visible

After that, being still a novice on smooth gradients, I decided to take my time to proper learn some glazing.
Actually I didn't note the various colours, I simply started putting greys and blues on the palette, working my way toward what I suppose should be some decent rhino/elephant skin.

Not exactly what I had in mind, but still good enough

The mouth was based on Jonathan drakes, but pushing the tones more toward red and pale orange.
I also took some time to add subtle glazings around the "lips" and some pale pink scratches around the "nose" and on the head, similar to those you can see around sharks' mouths.
This, along with other warmer tones on spines and skills, will break the monochromatic schemae.

Some pink/purple glaze was also added around skulls and spines

Given the scale, I switched to oils (dark brown and dark german grey) for the shading.
Metal and leather were made almost exactly like the other Bloodbound, except for an extra final shade with oils too (dark grey and green grey).
Some Uhu glue and a toothpick provided the last spark of life for the monstrous mouth, together with a sublte tiny bit of blood red (Tamiya X-27 Clear Red).

The base was made exactly like those of the other Bloodbound guys

If you take a look, you'll notice a couple of fingerprints that I totally missed

I will call him "Nibbler"

Hopefully In a couple of weeks I will be able to get rid of the last two heroes of this AoS batch and then, I'll finally be back on something more mechanic...