All’s Quiet on Level 8Free Mars Necromunda conversion, completed July 2012
Despite being my entry at Games Day Chicago 2012, I don’t consider this project entirely complete. My initial concept was a duel, and a very fine concept it was if I do say so myself. Unfortunately, sculpting a model from scratch does tend to eat into one’s schedule, and I realized fairly early in the process that I simply wouldn’t have time to complete everything I’d hoped to complete before the Games Day deadline. The silver lining of that realization is that I have learned a few lessons from my years of sluggish painting and planned for that possibility (“eventuality” might be a better word). I worked on the project in prioritized stages designed to still give me a viable Games Day entry if (when) I ran out of time. And so, this project became an exercise in revising goals. I still really like the fundamental concept of my diorama, so much so that there’s still a small chance I’ll return to this project and finish the other half, but in the meantime I’ll share this.
The figure in this vignette is a minor conversion of the Free Mars Samantha “Darkness” Jones model I sculpted. Sam (as we call her) is already very similar to the rather punk-rock House Escher models for Games Workshop’s Necromunda game, which made it a fairly simple task to add a few standard Escher accouterments - a shoulder pad, a loincloth, a GW shotgun - and thereby transport my sculpt from Mars to Necromunda. As much as I like the game (it’s one of my all-time favorites), I’m a little surprised it has taken me this long to paint a Necromunda-themed display piece.
It’s no secret that I tend to prefer color harmony over high contrast on my miniatures, so I set out to unify the project with a particular color - in this case, the regrettably out-of-production GW Midnight Blue. I’ve always liked that color; it’s such a rich, dark blue - closer perhaps to indigo. In the past I’ve used it as a base color, so it was a pleasant (and early) revelation just how much I liked using Midnight Blue to tint all the shadows in this piece. It has added some very interesting hues to the GW Dark Flesh of the girders, the P3 Hammerfall Khaki on the skulls, even the tried and true RMS Stone Triad I used for the concrete. Using it as a unifying color has given everything a very satisfying cool-temperature tint. This project wasn’t ever intended to be monochromatic, but after this experience, Midnight Blue will be my first choice for a future monochrome study.
I initially set out to make a simpler base than I usually do - something closer to an empty warehouse than urban demolition - and I utterly failed. My natural inclination to add bits of detritus was simply too strong. However, this turned out to be serendipitous when it came to painting the caution stripes on the floor. If you’ve seen any Necromunda art or graphic design from the rules, you’ve probably noticed the ubiquitous yellow/black caution stripes. Given that theme, I felt obligated to work some in on this project. But the standard caution stripe colors would be glaringly high contrast amid the rest of my subdued project. So I placed the stripes on the floor where they’d be naturally weathered and dirty, painting them in much more muted tones with RMS Stone Grays and yet more Midnight Blue worked into both the yellow and the black. The debris became helpful as I tried to get the stripes to line up across the gap in the floor. Despite having literally decades of painting experience, it proved embarrassingly difficult to get the lines to align with that void in the floor separating them. In retrospect, I could have temporarily filled the cavity with a piece of plasticard or balsa, but I took the easy way out and just piled rubble over any places where the lines seemed too askew. It might be a bit of a cheat, but a ruinous base fits well in my mental picture of the underhive, and as I said: “embarrassingly difficult”.
The original character for this sculpt has quite a bit of ink (you can see what I mean in her gallery), so I didn’t want to go overboard tattooing this conversion. Nevertheless, a little body-art was practically required, especially when I realized my sculpt leant itself to what may well be the first ever Imperial Aquila tramp stamp on a miniature. Other “Easter eggs” include the bottle of Second Best (one of the two drinks mentioned in the Necromunda background), a tiny “12” on her wristwatch for the year, a damaged dataslate from my Artillerist sculpt, and possibly my favorite part - a little pink breast cancer awareness ribbon just below her shoulder pad. I’ve wanted to add that last bit to a miniature for years, and I’m delighted to have found such a convenient subject.
I’m pleased to say this project took silver in the Open category behind friend and fellow painting nutter John Shaffer, whose truly massive ork dreadnought won the Forge World best-of-show award as well as our category. I mention that both to give John a few well-earned kudos and to tell you this anecdote. As I was collecting my entry after the contest and pointing out a few of my favorite little additions to a friend, that friend said, “You know why you came in second, don’t you?” I didn’t. “Because you actually painted a ‘2nd’ on your miniature,” he said, pointing to the bottle of Second Best behind my figure. I’d never thought of that, but I couldn’t really argue. And now I’m assessing the urge to test that particular superstition by painting a 1st or a 3rd on my next project…