Tuesday, March 21, 2017

AoS28: Exploring a crystal world


“There is an immense reward to be found in that frozen forest... the gift of immortality a direct consequence of the surrender by each of us of our own physical and temporal identities. However apostate we may be in this world, there perforce we become apostles of the prismatic sun."

The Crystal World (1966), J.G. Ballard


In some forgotten grottos and neglected glades of the Mortal Realms, a singular transformation is coming over all organic matter. Living or dead, all blossoming into vitreous spurs of crystal. An inexhaustible tide, physically and psychologically. White static on periphery of conscious thought, beckoning all to return to face absolution. A new horror to add to the many that plague the Mortal Realms. But perhaps the capacity for it has been present all along, since the World’s molten core was placed within the firmament, some antediluvian certainty finally coalescing into being?


Although covered in armor, there were still exposed places for crystal shards to emerge.

The idea to create a group of poor souls afflicted by a disease of slow crystallization came from reading J.G. Ballard’s novel The Crystal World (1966). The novel follows a medical doctor who ventures to Africa to treat leprosy only to find that the forest is turning into crystal, along with everything in it. The imagery in the novel stayed with me, ideas that I continually come back to, much like the characters in the book who came in contact with the crystal forest and were eventually all compelled to to return to the forest and face oblivion. When Jake of Ex Profundis started the AOS28 movement, it seemed like a good opportunity to transfer some of these ideas into model form.

Dropping his hammer suggests a loss of dexterity, as the Stormcast is overcome with prismatic crystals.

When it came to actually converting models succumbing to crystallization, we knew that special effort would need to be taken to capture the slow, stiff, and jerky motion of a victim being robbed of their mobility. This is often at odds with the dynamic sculpts seen in Age of Sigmar (flowing robes and parchments and bold, powerful stances). The first model we looked into creating was a Stormcast Eternal, such is their prominence in the Age of Sigmar setting. With the model, we wanted to depict the sad and ultimate end for a noble warrior of humanity, trapped in crystal unable to be forged anew. To do this, we positioned his arm to be dropping his hammer, suggesting his loss of fine motor skills. The crystals sprouting from the Stormcast were created from rods of plasticard carefully shaped with an x-acto blade and glued into place. We tried to make it look like the crystallization is covering the Stormcast’s skin and bursting out of the seams of his armor.

The orruk shaman model has an extremely characterful pose, one that we were able to repurpose to simulate the character’s loss of mobility.

One exciting aspect of this crystal contagion is that it can infect all living matter, allowing us free reign in choosing what models to include. For the second, we wanted to create an orruk, and after looking over the new range we found that the new shaman model was an ideal candidate. It is already shambling and disjointed, so the pose did not need to be modified. We opted to remove the model’s billowing cloak, necessitating resculpting the orruk's upper back and head. His staff was modified into a primitive spear and his robes lengthened and tattered. Like the Stormcast, plasticard was used to make the largest of the spreading crystals. Smaller crystals were created by gluing crushed glass to the model’s skin (Secret Weapon Miniatures).

Crushed glass and plasticard were used to create the spreading crystals.

With these first two models build, it seems like we have only scratched the surface of this crystal blight. Thus far, both models have been larger ones, on 40mm bases, but we would also like to create some smaller, weaker characters. What sort of beautiful havoc will the crystallization cause on fragile humans or lithe elves? We would also like to explore the concept of scholars and witch hunters trying to elucidate the origins of the disease and how it might be combated. We would love to hear what you all think, and are open for suggestions on how you might go about painting such models!

- Greg and Adam Wier

25 comments:

  1. These instantly caught my eye when I saw them on Instagram! The orruk especially came out great :)

    What drives them now, a sentient being?

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    1. Thanks for the input, Tommy!

      The present idea is that the afflicted individuals still maintain their own thought processes, but the crystallization influences them. It compels them to return to the crystal forest and bring others with them. Return and face a peaceful oblivion.

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    2. We did not want to define exactly the nature of the disease, allowing everyone to speculate on its origin and how it functions. Perhaps is it purely biological, or maybe warped by the influences of Chaos. Towards this end, we have been considering making some scientists/scholars/witch hunters that are investigating the disease, each with their own thoughts on its nature and what to do about it.

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  2. Beautiful work and the idea behind is amazingly clever. The AOS28 movement is interestingly effervescent, and your project is fitting in it perfectly.

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    1. Thanks! Watching the movement evolve has been extremely rewarding, and it is only in its early stages. I look forward to seeing more people tackle projects that are not touched by the Chaos Gods.

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    2. I got a couple of idea about -not chaos/not human/not "human"- AOS28 warband to realize, I suppose I'll soon join it!

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    3. You really should try you hand at it! The more new ideas, the better! We have seen lots of Nurgle and tree spirits, but not too much else thus far.

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  3. Interesting idea, and the crystals look great. I wonder if you could use a large grain sand sparingly on areas to simulate a smaller crystal formation?

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    1. Thanks for the suggestion. We will see what we can find, and see how it compares to the crushed glass. Making convincing crystal protrusions was a pain.

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  4. I might be misstaken here, but wasn't there a lot of resin crystals looking like these included in one of the Citadel basing kits? Those could be great bits for this project and, I guess, keep you sane😉. Shaping all those individual pieces of plastic rod can't be fun...

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    1. I have not paid too much attention to the basing kits that GW has released, but know that quite a few were made. A Google image search revealed that the Northern Wastes basing set had a bunch of nice looking spurs of ice. A quick look at GW's website makes it look like most of those basing kits are no longer available. :(

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    2. I had a look, and I think it was the Underempire one I remembered, but those crystals are maybe too big? Yeah, too bad they are oop, they were great kits. Still seems like some independent retailers still have kits left though.

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    3. Oh, I did not see the Underempire kit. Looking at it now, the crystals are a little big for the applications we would want them for. All of the basing kits look like they would have worthwhile uses. I will have to see if any of them are still available at nearby shops.

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  5. Oh, and I guess that you can get some nice ideas from the Hordes' Legion of Everblight. This has a lot of potential!

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    1. I am not very familiar with Hordes or any of the factions from the game. What specifically about the Legion of Everblight makes you suggest them? I tried briefly to go to Privateer Press' website to look into them, but the website did not make it easy.

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    2. @Greg I seem to be having some technical difficulties, so maybe this won't be posted as a reply to your comment. Anyway, I was thinking about the Everblight models because the faction consists of elves and ogres infested with what I would call a "dragon virus". Visually, this manifests as bony, crystal-like growths bursting from their skin. I just thought it looked similar to your models, and might give you some modelling ideas

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    3. Thanks for the clarification. I will spend some more time looking and reading about the models! Always looking for inspiration.

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  6. The New overlord models could give you some more sealed armour types to either infect or hunt those afflicted.

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    1. The new Overlord models would be an interesting release to explore. Perhaps there could be a group of them trying to eradicate the crystal menace. Their fully enclosed suits holding the infection back from their own bodies.

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  7. Really enjoy the Orruk addition, he definitely looks like he is loping forward barely able to stand on his own! Keep up the great work guys!

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    1. Thanks Eli! The Orruks are currently some of our favorite Age of Sigmar models, and we have not seen too many featured in AoS28 warbands. So, we had to get an Orruk in our warband. Fortunately, the crystal menace allows us to incorporate models from essentially any race we are interested in! Anyone who wanders too deeply into the crystal forests could be afflicted...

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  8. Interesting.... looking forward to seeing this develop further.

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    1. We are presently thinking about trying to add some smaller models to the group. Perhaps some hunched human characters made from some plastic clanrats. But, only time will tell.

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  9. Beautiful figures guys, can't wait to see a lick of paint on them? :) Any ideas or plans on the paintscheme? I'd say nice, pale figures with iridiscent turquoise and magenta crystals would look suitably outlandish.

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    1. How to convincingly paint crystal will be a challenge. Still not sure how to approach it, and there are so many other projects vying for time.

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