Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Talent Not Required : Accessorizing Part 1

Hi everyone,

Once again I am back with another tutorial on demand.  Before I start I just would like to say a few things.  Everything you will read in this article is knowledge I have skimmed up over the years  from other more talented modellers than myself.  These are modellers who took the time to explain things to me in order to help me make better models.  So I am very happy to pass on the favour.

Secondly, this is not a masterclass tutorial.  It is targeted towards gaming models.  Hence I simply use techniques that give an impression of what I want to achieve rather than exacting detail.  As I have said in other articles all I want is to a achieve a style and look to my army - and this is how I go about it.  Having said that, these techniques are basics and you can always embellish and build upon them.

First off I have prepared a figure to use for this tutorial.  This figure will be one of the specialists of my third Grey Hunter pack.  Both specialists in this pack will have meltas.  Therefore he will need a pistol and at least one close combat weapon.

The important thing to remember when putting stuff around the waist of the model is to fill up the the back area around and under the backpack.  The space here makes the model look too open.  Whether you put something within the space - like a knife or holstered bolter - or cover up the side with a helmet, it has the same overall effect.

Modelling the Large Knife

I use these combat knives a symbol of office for my specialists - that is the plasma, melta and flamethrowers.  They are very simple to put together and make the model stand out.  They are built out of the knives found in the Khorne Berserkers box set, but it might be more convenient to get some from some online bits store than buying a whole box.

The first thing to do is scape off the chaos iconography from the model and trim the scabbard a bit.  I have marked the areas to remove in black.

The best way, in my opinion, to remove this is with a sharp hobby knife - just be careful and take it slowly. After scrapping the iconography away, use files and fine sand paper to touch it up.  The scabbard itself should be trimmed with a sprue cutter.  This will give you a straight sharp cut.

If you are going to fix the knife on, with this facing showing, you only need to clean up a bit more before adding on the straps.  But for the purposes of this tutorial we will be flipping the knife the other way.  The other side of the scabbard needs embellishing on the top and bottom of the scabbard.
Therefore I will go ahead and remove the top lining as well and replace both sides with a thin piece of styrene strip.

Styrene strips are cheap and can be bought from any hobby shop.  I use the 103 strips shown below for your reference.

When gluing strips on always start with one side first, preferably the side.  I rather use a plastic cement rather than a super glue as it gives a stronger bond, even though it might take a bit longer.  But super glue works well too.
When this has set, add more glue to the strip and gently bend it around the scabbard.  Make sure you keep some pressure around the initial bond on the side.

The next step is to trim the lengths of the strips and glue them on one at a time.  Good trimming will allow the strips to meet half way on the remaining side.  Use a bit of epoxy putty like green stuff to fill in the gap if any and while you are at it - reconstruct the tip of the scabbard as well.

Now we have to add the straps to the scabbard to give the impression it is strapped on to the model.  For this I like to use electrical seal tape.  There are many, many different brands and colours - all are fine.
Cut off a piece at the length you need and remove the sticky underside with white spirit and some tissue.  Then with a steel ruler and a sharp hobby knife cut two fine strips around a 1mm in width and glue them to the top part of the scabbard.  The technique is the same as for the styrene strips, but this time you need to use super glue.  Just don't use too much. 

A quick tip here - always attach the strips to the side that will be covered first - that is with the side attached to the model.

When the straps are on, it is now time to add a buckle or the impression of one.  As I said in the beginning, this tutorial is only meant for gaming models and not show case pieces.  You can make the buckles as detailed and complex as you want depending on your approach to your army.  I opt for a quick and simple approach - as I said I am only looking for a style, look and feel.  So before continuing I strongly suggest you take the time to think what you want your army to be!  A decently painted and modeled gaming army that looks good or a showcase painted army that you play with from time to time.

For the buckles I mix a small quantity of Duro (green stuff) and cut up two small balls and placed then on the straps.

Flatten the balls out using a tool with a flat surface and leave them set for five minutes.  With a sharp, damp knife trim them to the appropriate size.  It is as easy as it sounds, just be patient and go slowly. With the flat spatula, shape the forms up until they are rectangular. Below is a pic of the tools used for your reference.

Now set the knife aside to dry properly and come back to it after several hours or preferably the next day.  With the modelling done, the only problem facing you will be where to attach the knife.  Below I have given two of the most common examples.  At the back and side.  Most of my specialists have their knife attached at the back, and the pick below demonstrates the fit.  This allows ample room to attach other stuff on the models like a helmet and a pistol or side arm.

The other natural option would be to fix the knife to the side.  Depending on the type of armour you are using, you might have to file down part of the leg to achieve a better fit.  The pic below will give you a better idea of what I am trying to say.  
This choice does not give you that much space for any other stuff you might want to put on the model and does not solve the problem with all the empty space under the backpack. Having said that, there are other options you can work with which I will explore in the second part of this article.

As for myself, I have not chosen where to attach the the knife just as yet.  You will  just have to wait as I continue this article in two weeks time.  Next week I will post the finished Daedalus Large Flyers.

Well that is all for now,  I hope you have found this interesting and a bit useful.  Either way it was a pleasure and a privilege sharing what I know with you all.

Farewell and good health,



  1. Wow, you've truly gone above and beyond with this one. Thanks so much for posting that - I've been checking your blog every day and am looking forward to part 2! - skel



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