The design of this piece was a long time in the making. I wanted to work on some Cryxian scenery so I could feature swampy terrain. Since necrotite mining rigs have been done to death, I decided to create something different: a large boiler-like vessel covered with leaking pipes surrounded by murky pools of the caustic chemicals used to create Bile Thralls. While looking for parts with which to detail the piece, I came across the perfect components for a kind of Bile Thrall refilling station. And so, the Cryxian Bile Reservoir was born.
In this tutorial, I'll show you how to make the Cryxian Bile Reservoir and give you some tips for modeling swampy terrain.
Optional Model Parts:
Modeling the Swampy Base
Check out the Trollkin Waystones hobby blog to see some of the different materials that can be used for basing your terrain. The area around the bile reservoir will have some stagnant pools, and a base will help contain those. Of the listed basing materials, 1/8" hardboard will provide the sturdiest base for building up areas to contain the pools.
Start by cutting out the base and beveling the edge. Use a yogurt container for the bile reservoir. By positioning the reservoir off-center on the base, you can have a larger pool to one side. In lieu of a yogurt container, you could use a plastic bottle or cup to create reservoirs with varied shapes. If you are making multiple pieces, use larger or smaller bases or even a single large base with a few reservoirs mounted on it to add some variety.
Since the plastic yogurt cup has smooth sides, sand the surface with fine grit sandpaper. Sanding gives the plastic a "tooth" that will prevent the primer and paint from flaking off and will make it easier to glue components to it. Sand the yogurt container before attaching it to the base.
Attach the sanded yogurt container to the base with Formula P3 Super Glue. Then, use Aves Apoxie Sculpt® or wood filler putty to build up some areas of the base. Start by rolling thin lengths and lay them on the surface and around the perimeter of the cup. Next, press the putty with your finger to smooth it out.
Vary the shapes and add some raised, lumpy areas to the terrain so it's not merely a ring containing the pools. In this image, the red line shows the contour of the raised area and the green-shaded portions will contain the pools. The modeling putty will take a while to completely cure. While it's curing, you can model the details on the reservoir. The still-soft putty will allow you to press drinking-straw pipes into it. Once dry, the putty will securely hold the pipes in place.
Detailing the Reservoir
The bile reservoir is a containment tank, festooned with all manner of pipes, valves, boilers, smokestacks, and the machinery to fuel Bile Thralls out in the field. I've used a lot of model parts on this (listed as optional materials above). I'm of the opinion that these reservoirs are constructed close to the front lines, rather than manufactured in a factory, so while they would incorporate similar design elements, no two would look exactly the same. You should try to incorporate as much detail as possible, but don't feel obligated to use the same model parts I did.
In addition to the model parts, grab a spare 50mm base for covering the top, bendable drinking straws for pipes, and some styrene strips and card for the riveted panels and trim.
Use a rotary hand sewing punch to press some rivets into a styrene strip. Super glue the strips onto the yogurt cup to create paneling and seams. In lieu of a sewing punch, you can cut rivets from a length of styrene rod and super glue them in place.
Add some rivets around the perimeter of a 50mm base with the sewing punch. (This is a technique I use a lot in my terrain.) If you clip away some of the pegs and the ends of the slot under the base you'll have more room to fit the tool.
Cut a slot out of the edge of the base that's the same size as the furnace on the bottom of the Berserker boiler. Super glue the base atop the yogurt cup and then glue the boiler into the slot.
Cover the outside with pipes made from bendable drinking straws. To attach them, cut a small hole in the side of the cup. I wanted to have pipes attach to the sides of the Centurion boiler, so I attached a putty plug over which the straw will fit (Image 1). Cut a strip of thin card to serve as a support bracket. Bend it around the straw and apply some rivets (Image 2). Super glue the ends of the strip and insert it into a slot cut into the side of the cup (Image 3). In the final image you can see all the attached pipes. The Deathjack Chimney fits into the top of the straw to form a taller chimney. Add some extra stacks and armor plates on the top of the reservoir. The Extreme Destroyer bombard muzzle makes a great drainage spigot.
To add some extra detail and help secure the straws in place, build up an attachment coupling with Formula P3 Modeling Putty. Start with a roll of putty wrapped around the base of the straw (Image 1). Use a sculpting tool to shape the putty and smooth the sides (Image 2). Finish it off by pressing some rivets into it with the tip of a mechanical pencil.
Constructing the Bile Thrall Refilling Station
My favorite part of this is what I refer to as the Bile Thrall refilling station. When detailing the reservoir, leave some room at the front to accommodate the machinery that turns a bloated corpse into an instrument of destruction.
The image shows all of the parts used in the Bile Thrall filling station. Clip away the red portions of one pair of Stalker legs and the base tab from the Bile Thrall. Use a jeweler's saw to cut the hull away from the Leviathan body. Cut the Cephalyx arms at the joint (you will use both halves).
On the two uncut Stalker legs, carefully bend the tips of the legs to form hooks. Bend the Bile Thrall's legs a little so it will look more natural suspended from the machinery. Use the Formula P3 .50mm Pinning Expansion to attach the Cephalyx claws to the pair of cut Stalker legs. Add a pin to each of the Cephalyx syringes as well. The .50mm Pinning Expansion was made especially for pinning fine model parts like this.
So how do all of these parts fit together? Let's start with that boiler at the top of the reservoir. Clip the small flanges off of the sides of a Deathjack carapace and super glue it in place to form a cowl over the filling station. Use modeling putty to extend the pipes on the boiler and secure it to cowl. Add some putty sculpted like hanging tubing under the cowl to further reinforce the join (Image 1).
Use styrene card to build a small platform and attach the hip section of the Leviathan. Pin the part in place for stability and run pins through the attachment points for the legs. The standard .85mm brass rod is fine for these parts (Image 2). Attach the legs but do not glue them yet. The pins should hold them in place as you check the fit of the Bile Thrall. The hooks go under his arms, and the lower claws should be positioned out of the way so the Bile Thrall can be removed for painting. When you are satisfied with the fit, super glue the Stalker arms in place (Images 3 & 4).
Super glue the two Thunderhead tubes to the sides of the Bile Thrall (pin them with .50mm rod). He has a plug on his right side that makes a perfect attachment point. On the left, attach the tube below his waist. Bend the tubes around so they connect to the machinery, but do not glue them. Drill pinholes to mark the attachment points (Image 5).
Keep the Bile Thrall separate for painting. Run a brass rod into his bottom and attach this to a dowel or old brush handle to hold while you paint him. Finally, attach the two Cephalyx syringe arms to the machinery.
The Bile Pool
As the bile reservoir leaks and drips, its noxious chemicals contaminate the swamp and create pools of caustic bile that dissolves flesh on contact. To even approach the machinery is to risk one's feet sinking into the acidic marsh. Boot leather dissolves in seconds, followed by skin, and then the swamp quickly swallows the trespasser.
The Risen models represent hapless victims claimed by the corrosive chemicals. Use clippers to cut away some of their extremities and create flat bottoms on the underside of the figures. Apply a patch of super glue on the base and press the model into it. Sprinkle some fine sand or ballast over the exposed glue. The models should be lying in the pool so that they will be partially exposed once the fluid is added.
Add sand to the rest of the base. Use a hot glue gun to create a small drip of "ooze" coming out of the drainage spigot. Once the hot glue dries, add some super glue to reinforce the bond (hot glue doesn't adhere to metal very well). The assembly is complete, so it's time for painting!
Painting the Terrain
Basecoat the reservoir with Blighted Gold. Use a stippling technique on the large panels to avoid brush strokes. Pick out some areas to base with Pig Iron and then drybrush them with Cold Steel.
Weather the piece with washes. For the gold areas mix up a wash with Coal Black, Gnarls Green, and Iosan Green to create a dark patina. Then mix a wash of Thrall Flesh and Arcane Blue. Apply this lighter patina in streaks around the equipment and some of the rivets.
For the silver areas, mix a rust wash of Brown Ink, Bloodstone, and Khador Red Highlight. Apply some patchy areas of straight Bloodstone or Khador Red Highlight to create spots of orange rust.
For the armor plates on top, basecoat the plate with Cryx Bane Base and highlight up with Cryx Bane Highlight. Use Coal Black to shade the recesses along the edge of the Blighted Gold trim, and then blacken the tops of the smoke stacks.
Drybrush the ground successively with Battlefield Brown, Moldy Ochre, and 'Jack Bone. Paint the Bile Thrall and the Risen. Keep the colors of the Resin muted so they don't overpower the color scheme. Use Necrotite Green and Cygnus Yellow for the bile drip.
Finishing the Toxic Swamp
I love using tall grass and weeds in my swampy terrain. A cheap and easy way to create tall grass is to use a 3" house brush, available at any DIY hardware store. Drybrush Ordic Olive with the brush and allow the paint to dry in the brush. This creates a gradation of green and straw-colored grass, and the dried paint will clump the hairs together, making them easy to handle.
Cut off some tufts of "grass" and use a dab of hot glue to attach them to the base. It's easiest if you put a drop of glue on the base and press the grass into it.
Once you have all the grass tufts in place, use scissors to trim the tops and make them appear more natural. Use tweezers to pluck any stray or crooked hairs, glue strings, and tidy up the base. Apply some water-thinned wood glue and apply flock to the base. Add flock all around the bottoms of the grass tufts to conceal the spots of hot glue.
To create the swampy pools use Envirotex Lite®. It's a two-part epoxy resin that works perfectly for water effects. Be sure to read all of the directions and safety precautions on the packaging and use it in a well-ventilated area. The Envirotex Lite® is clear, but you can tint it with paint. Use a drop of Battledress Green, Nectotite Green, and Cygnus Yellow to create a muddy, greenish hue. Only apply a drop of each, because it will turn the resin opaque very quickly, and a semi-translucent mixture is what we want. Thoroughly mix the Envirotex Lite® in a plastic cup and then add the color to tint it.
Pour the mix into the recessed areas you created in your swampy base. As the Envirotex Lite® cures, it will spread out, so don't pour too much or it may overflow the banks. Under the drainage spigot, dab some straight Necrotite Green with an old paintbrush and swirl it around so it looks like bile leaking into the mud. The Envirotex Lite® needs to be left undisturbed overnight to fully cure.
You can eliminate the bubbles by making a quick pass over the resin with a heat gun, but I chose to leave the bubbles in place to retain the appearance of bubbling corrosive juices. (Unfortunately, most of the bubbles popped on their own as the resin dried overnight.)
Conclusion and Contest
Once the resin pools are dry, superglue the Bile Thrall into the filling station and you're finished. The Cryxian bile reservoir is ready to bring its corrosive contamination to your battlefield!
If you want to apply house rules for the terrain, I would suggest having models that enter the swamp terrain suffer Continuous Effect: Corrosion. Destroying the reservoir could be a scenario objective. Treat the reservoir itself as a structure with damage points, and when it is destroyed all models within 5˝ of the structure suffer a POW 14 blast damage roll and Continuous Effect: Corrosion (similar to a Bloat Thrall exploding).
For the contest, the challenge is to build your own Cryxian constructions or other swamp-themed terrain. I'm thinking bile reservoirs, necrotite mines, and swampy marshes or bogs. Send in pics of your finished creations, and the coolest one will win the original bile reservoir I built for this blog.
Photos of the contest entries are due by the end of the day September 1st. The winner will be announced the week following the entry deadline. Send your photos along with your name and address to: [email protected]
Entries don't have to be exact recreations of the terrain in the blog but should be along the same lines. The idea is to inspire you to make your own terrain that will suit your gaming board aesthetics and faction themes. Readers can enter as part of a group or as individuals. However, there's only one prize, so if a group wins, the terrain prize will be sent to the group to become part of their collection.
Next time, I'll show you how to build some trench emplacements using the spare weapon arms from the plastic heavy warjack kits.
'Til next time!