Sunday, 27 July 2014

Wrecked Horus Heresy Rhino in Sculpey

With summer well and truly rolling along it's only a matter of months before my local store holds its annual painting competition. You may remember it was this time last year that I started on my Know No Fear diorama, and earlier this year had planned a second Horus Heresy novel cover art diorama based on the Fear to Tread. Much like the book itself, which I have yet to actually finish, the "horrible pink foetus" (as my wife likes to call my work in progress daemon) has yet to move past the sculpey stage and the brass armature on Sanguinius has yet to be covered. Much of this had to do with my excitement in building my Imperial Knight, and I guess the rest can be put down to procrastination, distractions and lots and lots of 7th Ed games. The result? I have reduced the scope of this years entry substantially, and have chosen a different scene, though not from cover art this time.

"The Charosion" are the elite of the Emperor's Children

With excellent opportunity to do some more high contrast painting, relatively easy MkIV armour to scratch build, and a little freehand and object source lighting to tinker with, this artwork jumped out of the pages of the Visions of Heresy at my local Games Workshop. The only problem seemed to be sourcing a MkI Rhino chassis to destroy. Forge World will happily sell you a version of it and eBay seems full of them if you are happy to pay almost as much again for postage and (probably) import duty at the border. But why pay for the whole thing if you're only going to use half? This was my lazy Sunday challenge, and I am quite happy with the results.

I started with my usual Aluminium Foil armature for bulking out the Sculpey cheaply and quickly, which also serves as an opportunity to correct any scale issues without wasting clay and avoids the possibility of large chunks of clay splitting or cracking as they bake. Anything bigger than a 28mm torso should always be supported in some fashion using a non flammable material (plastic is definitely not oven friendly). Not having a model to base it off, I used a variety of sources including my own Rhino model (knowing that earlier versions are much smaller). Scale wasn't such an issue for me as I wasn't going to be gaming with the model.

A new addition to my materials list is "Sculpey Firm" which I have been trying to track down for ages, as it keeps sharper edges and you can spot things like fingerprints before you bake, unlike "Sculpey Original" that has a translucent edge which hides all sorts of imperfections until you start painting. I found this out most annoyingly when I started painting my Blood Angels sculpture earlier in the year.

Where I did use some leftover "Sculpey Original" was on the base, which I knew I was going to be covering in extra details. The artwork itself gives me a little bit of freedom on this regard, and I will have to balance out the number of bodies vs scenery details as the project continues. I also used this split in baked clay surfaces to allow the rhino to be removed from the base for painting and further assembly. It's at this point I was going to leave it and work on the marines, but the different colours of the materials was hiding the full sense of the diorama so I went one step further and decided to undercoat the model using my new airbrush (more on that soon). After a base-coat I took the time to lighten the central focal point of the model, simulating the effect the final paint scheme should have in drawing the viewer's eye and gauging whether the basic scratch build has enough detail to continue with.

Success! With only about half the detail I would have put into a table top scratch built model I have managed to convey a sense of the MkI Rhino details and the damage sustained. The top and sides are lacking in detail but will have models and scenery obscuring the awkwardly sculpted areas. Any further work will be done in green stuff or similar two part resins to prevent melting the plastic areas. With about two hours of work, and ten minutes with the airbrush, I am very happy with the results. You can see the magnetised door and removable chassis in the photo below.


  1. Once again, very cool! I love the idea of the tin foil. I also love the Knight Titan you did, I didn’t comment on it, cause I'm lazy ;) Keep it up!!!

    1. Great to hear, Bill! I have also picked up some tips from your blog as well, thanks!

  2. This is shaping up to be a great piece of work. Did you use plasticard tubes for the exhaust ports?

    1. Thanks TMIAH, all the white sections are plasticard from GaleForce9, I believe. I used a pilot hole and widened it with a scalpel, quick and easy, though I would probably be more careful with placement were I to try the same effect on a model.