For Halloween this year, I've put together a tutorial about building some graveyard-themed hills and crypts. The scenery also incorporates some of my Skull Forge Scenics walls and tombstones, which add a lot of detail without having to do a lot of extra work.
The last leg of my Dreadfleet project was finishing the auxiliary boats, and I wanted to do something really creative with these. There are only two versions of the standard "cog" markers for the auxiliaries– one for the Grand Alliance fleet and one for the evil Dreadfleet.
All of the fleet ships are so different, each with its own unique design, I felt their auxiliaries should reflect this. It didn't seem right that the Skaven vessel, made from a leviathan fish carcass should have the same auxiliary design as the Tomb King's ship. And how, exactly, would a little wooden sail boat dock with a giant mechanical squid submersible? After rooting through my parts box I was able to put together some satisfying conversions:
This was simple enough. Plastic card for the extra sails, covered with putty to give it the "puff" of a sail catching the wind. A tiny bit from a Black Templar accessory went on top of the mast, and a helmet spike from a Grave Guard forms the prow spire.
The Curse of Zandri
This was the first one I made, and the easiest. I removed the sail but left the oars, and cut a pyramid into the center so it matched its parent ship. The metal bits are from Tomb Kings models– the end of a halberd and the top of Settra's head. (Yeah, that's right. I ruined a classic Settra model for a tiny counter in a game I'll hardly ever play.)
This one was fun to kitbash. I kept the figure on the prow because it looked like a little Skaven dude, and added a triangular icon cut from a Clanrat spear. The top of the tower and the boilers and smokestacks are tiny bits taken here and there from the Boneripper kit (the parts are so small they probably won't be missed). There were also two small rats on the Boneripper sprue that had little wheels for their back legs, and I used those wheels with some thin styrene strips to make the paddle wheel.
One of the extra sails that I cut off the other boats went into the Swordfysh conversion. The main sail needed to be turned so the sails would both be blowing the same direction. The "sword" on the prow was made from a strip of styrene, shaped and pinned in place. Modeling putty was used to extend the bow.
The Bloody Reaver
I tried to match the sail-laden castle aesthetic of the parent ship. The top of the tower is part of a Grave Guard helmet, and the tiny skull comes from a Tomb Kings banner. The stern of the boat was built up with modeling putty, and a few tiny windows were added to the tower.
The Flaming Scimitar
Another Grave Guard helmet was used for the tower, and the hull was shaped with modeling putty. The scimitar on the bow was cut down from a full-sized Tomb Kings chariot scythe. The boat's square sail was turned on its side, trimmed and puttied into a triangle. I used a piece of wire to make the angled mast, matching the style of sail on the larger vessel.
The Black Kracken
This one was the most complex, and probably has the least amount of "original" boat remaining. More Grave Guard helmets for the fins, and a melta-bomb forms the boiler with a small spike for the smokestack. There are parts of old battle wagon spikes on the stern, and a metal light from the Killer Kan accessory sprue to form the bridge windows, which were painted to match the green glow of the Kracken's "eyes." The paddle wheels are made from hole punched styrene card, with a thin strip over the top and details sculpted with putty.
And that's it! My Dreadfleet set is officially done! Both fleets are ready for war. I hope you've enjoyed following along with this project, I sure had fun painting it!
This undead legion will always be my first love. I took an army photo back in 2012 when I first began this blog. The Legion of the Infernal Skull has grown quite a bit since then, so I decided that it was time for a new "family reunion" photo:
460-something models takes an awfully long time to set up.
If you haven't read the original post about my army and the story behind it, I'd highly recommend checking it out. There's a lot of insight into how I began my foray into collecting miniatures and the influences that led to my design choices. (Read that here.) The backstories for my characters and the army itself have also been written about in previous posts. I'm working on another post that will serve as a recounting and updating of where everything stands in my current lore. (Stay tuned.)
The army has grown so much that I've organized it into 3 main aspects, divided along the unit types and color schemes. (Note: This doesn't follow the Age of Sigmar undead sub-factions, following instead my own story themes and aesthetics.)
The martial units are comprised of the more formally regimental army units led by the Blood Dragon vampires Seth and Dimitri von Koss. All of the wight kings, grave guard, black knights, and the Red Guard skeletons fall under this aspect. The black coach and blood knights (once they are added) are also included in this category. Nagash and his morghasts will also be part of my martial aspect.
My upcoming projects for this section are the mounted wight king battle standard bearer and more skeleton archers converted from the classic metal armored skeletons. I recently played a game of Age of Sigmar and tried out the morghasts for the first time. They performed excellently, so they're at the top of my queue. I'd like to get them painted as soon as possible and, frankly, I've dragged them out long enough! Blood knights are also on the to-do list, but I need to pick up a couple more of the zombie dragon vampires to use as the riders and come up with a solution for their horses before I delve into that unit. At the very least, I could build them one at a time and use them individually as mounted vampire heroes.
This section is made up of Marduk the Ghoul King's ever growing retinue of beasts and bats. If it's got fur or wings, it's in here– Dire wolves, all levels of bat, from lowly swarms to Wolkhar the terrorgheist, and the ghouls of course.
The ghouls are the first priority to bulk out this section. I've collected a pile of about 80 metal ghouls to bolster the ranks. I want to come up with a different color scheme from the 25 I already have. They look a little too pink and healthy, so I might go with a greyer, greener flesh tone which will bring them in line with the aesthetic of the rest of the feral models. I plan to convert them with fur pelts, and bits of meat and flensing knives from the Kroot warrior kit. I haven't built a single one of the monstrous infantry crypt horrors or vargheists; I'll add them one of these years. I also have a "stock" varghulf that I plan to eventually convert and repaint to match his big brother.
The necromancers and the wraith Korak the Grim lead this portion of the army and it's made up of all the ethereal units (of which quite a few have been added over the ages), along with the zombies and skeleton units beholden to the different necromancers. The Crimson Reaper skeletons are Korak and Nieman Kimmel's, the skeleton spearmen are led by the necromancer Samus Garz, and Toht Nhemisis is master of all the zombies and corpse carts.
This aspect of the Legion is the most disparate, seemingly made up of the random odds and ends with no real unifying theme other than the ethereal glow. I think I might update these skeletons (and maybe the zombies) to have a blue-green glow in their eyes to match the other ethereal elements. The first thing I need to do is assemble my hexwraiths and repaint the banshees. I also have a few "regular" wraiths to bulk up the units, but there's no rush since I can't field wraith units in Age of Sigmar. I'm holding out hope for a Nighthaunt Battletome that might offer some different unit options for the wraiths. (Maybe a build for the hexwraiths that uses the horse barding, the same way they mixed up the assembly in the crypt horror/ vargheist kit to create crypt flayers and the courtier heroes?) We'll see....
This was easily the most complicated ship to paint in the entire game. The variety of color on the hull, the intricacy of the sail iconography, it all adds up to one long week of painting and patience. I'm super happy with how it turned out, and this was definitely the pinnacle of my Dreadfleet project. I took a few shots of the hull before gluing the sails on since the details are harder to photograph once everything is assembled.
Same for the sails.
Time to take to the high seas!
The Bloody Reaver
Despite the jigsaw puzzle assembly, this one painted up very quickly. The rocks were done with a series of drybrushing and washes. the castle was essentially two-tone, with the lighter stone walls and the magenta tops. There were lots of little anchors and cannon barrels on the rocky surface, with tombs along the sides.
The sails painted up very quickly as well, since they're essentially all bone and ochre for the banners. The text on the banners is mostly obscured once they're on the ship, which is unfortunate. The "Noctilus" sail is almost touching the sail in front of it!
Death patrols the Galleon's Graveyard!
But it's not over yet! I still have all of the little Auxiliary boats to paint before I can finally put this set to bed.