On Modeling: Finding Shapes

Hi, Dave here. I have been getting a bit weird with my conversions lately. And that itself is a result of me growing both in confidence as a modeler, and in familiarity with the parts available.  An as things have gotten weirder, I’ve noticed an uptick in the frequency of a certain kind of comment on IG and Twitter in recent weeks:

“How do you think this stuff up?”

“I would never have though of using <part X> as <shape Y>.”

“Shuriken Cannons for legs?”

That last one’s paraphrasing but it made me consider how I go about choosing the bits I use. Because it’s a very specific kind of question: Why are you using this thing, which has a function in-lore, as this other object which has a whole other set of associations.

“Gun” (the source) becomes “Leg” (the target). This one shoots. That one walks. We have all these words and ideas attached to what is really just a visual label. And I think sometimes having those built-in labels stops us from seeing objects in any other way. Recognizing that, and then putting the labels aside for a while is really how I approach kitbashing and conversion. I keep the target word and lose the source words.

Try and turn everything into purely a shape. Silhouette first, secondary forms next and then texture last. Turn every piece upside down and give it a good long stare. I sketched this out last night:

IMG_9725

My process went something like this

  1. Oh man that blight drone is lovely.
  2. Huh it kinda looks like a back to front Plague drone. Nice one GW [TURNS DRONE BODY AROUND]
  3. What does it look like if we mix the two (Grabs plague drone legs and tacks it all together)
  4. It’s too too similar to the other two designs but there’s something here. I love the bladed plague drone legs they look like they’d be well dangerous OH HANG ON
  5. Flip it upside down again. Yes that looks like a hunch back in armor.
  6. PLAGUE DRONE LEG-ARMS.
  7. Remember when I bought a bunch of Tyranid legs off Ebay? I wonder if any of those will fit.
  8. They do! Quick, tack it all together. Basic blockout done.

And while there are a dozen problems with the model that I’ll need to address (those pipes on top now gravity is upside down for them, the spikes around by where the legs would articulate, etc), it’s solid, has decent gesture and it tells a bit of a story.

Anyway hopefully a few more updates and musings to follow. Hope this was a little useful.

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Dave S, Models, Tutorial

9 Comments

Excellent article about how you go about your conversions. Your ability to look at parts and see their potential as other things is phenomenal, this coupled with your skill with green stuff (and digital sculpting for that matter), makes you one of the best converters/miniature creators I have ever seen. You also do not seem to be held down by preconceived notions of what Warhammer 40k is, allowing you to explore it to your own content. Sorry for the all but fawning praise, but it is not overstated. I cannot wait to see what you create next!

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Oh, and it’s definitely easier operating with a loose sense of what WH40K is; the piece can shift and change as you’re connecting pieces. Working to a brief, trying to hit a design that fulfills a specific requirement of rules and fiction is tough, as I found out working with Mr Pink on his Stealer Cult mech. Fantastic experience nonetheless.

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Yeah, it had to be difficult working within constraints. Mr. Pink showed my brothers and I (Between the Bolter and Me) an early WIP photo of that model and asked if we could guess who was making it. Right away I knew it had to be your work, such was the deft skill that disparate kits were merged to create it. Your style and attention to detail is hard to miss 😀

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Absolutely killer work in all of your stuff. I think what I love about your work is not only do you look at pieces separate from their given context, but your refusal to “settle”. It’s that refusal that makes the best models, you clearly have a given idea you are wanting to explore and refusal to just use the normal parts or just enough to convey what you are wanting to show is what really sells it. The language you are building with admech is a breath of fresh air by itself. Truly cannot wait to see more

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Your creations are always really well thought out and I’d have to agree with Eric you are one of the best converters out there that I’ve seen and it’s very inspiring to read about your approach. Bring on more crazy grimness I say! Love it!

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