Sunday, 11 December 2016

Lootin' Tutorial - Part One

After joining Twitter I began showing some of my Ork builds, from a question or two on there I realised it was a long time since I did my Ork Lootin' articles for Bell of Lost Souls. So I thought I would revisit them and post them up on Recalcitrant Daze...

This three part article will follow my progress as I turn three old Leman Russ tanks into Looted Wagons, covering everything from concept to the finished build. This first part covers the basics and also the benefits of doing a mock up.

1. Materials & Tools.

Our starting point is not with the models but with the materials and tools I use.

The most important material used in converting is sheet styrene, commonly known as plasticard. It is also available in textured sheet, strip, rod, tubes and various other forms. For the majority of any conversion I will use 1mm sheet. Strong, yet easy to work with. 0.5, 0.75 & 0.25mm is generally used for detailing. While sheet can be cut into strips I find having styrene strip on hand very useful as it gives you a material which is accurate and dimensionally consistent. Rods and tubes are pretty self explanatory an can be used for piping, barrels, exhausts, hinges, rivets and a host of other things.

Any offcuts I get are chucked into these trays
- 1mm, 0.5mm, 0.25mm, textured sheet, strip/rod

You should never throw an offcut away. They are perfect for small detail work or for use as internal support pieces – glued behind panels or at joints to give extra strength or used to help line pieces up. You will see a lot of these in the pictures to follow.

Mesh for view ports, stowage baskets and dodgy Orky repairs. Brass rod is great for pinning pieces and is a better option than styrene rod for banner poles, grab handles etc. Neodymium (Rare Earth) magnets are ideal for when you want pieces, such as weapons and krew, to be removable. Pins and scale model chain are for exactly what you think.

The majority of the tools I use are shown below:

A – Steel rulers & engineers squares.
B – Knives with spare blades.
C – Pliers & cutters.
D – Pin vice with drill bits.
E – Wet & Dry sandpaper & needle files.
F – Green Stuff & sculpting tools.
G – Circle cutter.

H - Tweezers
I – Polystyrene cements, superglues & two part epoxy.
J – Hobby G-clamps.
K – Razor saws & cutting blocks.
L –  Scissors
M – Hole punches.
N – Vernier.
O – The Chopper II
P – ‘True Sander’

The most essential items are the knives, steel rulers, engineering squares and the glues. These are probably involved in 90% of the work in any conversion I do. Many of the items are standard modelling gear; while others I won’t use often but can be big time savers. The few items on there you might not have expected to see of may not know of are:

Circle cutter - designed really to cut paper and thin card but it can be used to cut thin styrene and to score a line on thicker sheets.

Hole punches, the smaller two are paper punches while the larger is a leather punch.

Vernier for accurate measurements of models and materials.

Chopper II & ‘True Sander’. Two very handy items. The former allows you to cut accurately and consistently, but on an Ork build I don’t use it that often. The True Sander is very useful for squaring off pieces.

2. A Few Basic Techniques.

I thought it best to show a couple of general techniques which will be used regularly on any Ork build I do including the three Wagons in this tutorial.

Cutting Styrene:

To cut styrene I always use a straight edge to act as a datum from which all other dimensions will be taken. If the piece of styrene has no straight edge you can use the ‘score-and-snap’ technique below to cut a thin piece off the sheet to give a straight edge that you can work from.

Use a steel ruler to measure from the straight edge; I will often butt an engineers square against the edge to ensure the ruler is always measuring from the edge of the material. Make a small dimple in the styrene with a knife tip. Repeat this at least one more time further up the styrene.

Line up a steel ruler by putting the knife tip into each of the dimples in turn and butting the ruler up against the blade. Do not cut through the plastic but instead score the styrene by running the knife firmly but not too hard down the ruler 2-4 times.

The styrene can now be bent and it will naturally hinge along the scored line. If it doesn’t come apart straight away bend the styrene the other way and it will do.

As you can see the styrene is approx 0.5mm oversized – I expect this to be the case. It is better to have the styrene be a fraction over than under as you can gently sand the piece back until you get a perfect fit. With Ork builds it doesn’t particularly matter as anything can be incorporated into the ramshackle nature of Ork engineering.

Along a cut edge you will get a ‘ridge’, this can be cleaned up either with some wet and dry sandpaper or by running a knife blade along it much like a mould line.

Orky Rivets.

Rivets are easy and straight forward though they can be very time consuming. I tend to use 1mm and 1.6mm rod for Ork tanks as I like having a mix, on larger vehicles I will also throw in some 2mm ones. Using these sizes allows the Ork rivets to stand out from their smaller, more rounded Imperial versions. On occasion I will also use 0.88 or 1.2 rod, especially when mixing GW Ork parts on a conversion. I cut each rivet from styrene rod aiming for 0.5mm thickness, but without really worrying much. Any which are too thin or thick are discarded.

Comparing Ork and Imperial rivets.
To add the rivet poly cement is brushed on and the rivets are picked up and gently put in place with the tip of a knife. You can add several before the glue dries up or use the time to move a rivet into position. Once in place I will brush more poly cement over the rivets to firmly set them in place.

If there is a rivet I’m not happy with it gets cut off and replaced.

Glyphs and Dags

Glyphs are very easy to do and are a great way to add some Orky charm to a build. The glyph design is drawn roughly onto a piece of offcut styrene before cutting it out with a knife. The shape is then refined, trimming as required and cleaning up the edges. Once the glyph is distressed it is glued either in position on a vehicle or to a mounting plate which can then be positioned on a vehicle, to finish off rivets are added. Dags are simply triangles of styrene which I often cut from a long offcut as shown. Each triangle is distressed and then glued in place with a rivet.

Handles / Grab Handles

I now prefer to do handles in 1mm brass rod as styrene is too prone to breaking during painting or gaming.

Using long nosed pliers the rod is bent into shape before snipping it free. Using the handle as a guide holes can then be drilled into the model. With superglue on each end pliers are used to carefully push the handle into the holes, it’ll be a tight fit but care needs to be taken not to push the ends in too far.

When deciding on the height (‘h’) it is best to err on the side of caution – if they are longer than needed it can be pushed further into the holes, but too short and you’ll need a new handle. For extra security reinforcement can be added on the inside (such as using Greenstuff, or offcuts).

3. The Lootin’ Begins

As the base models are second hand built tanks the first task I had was stripping back the models to give me a base to build upon. Anything removed go into my bitz boxes; some pieces were destined to be re-used on these vehicles while the rest will go towards future builds.

I generally don’t do mock ups except for commissions or large builds, however for the article I decided to do some as it will hopefully show how they can be beneficial in giving you a guide to work with but you should never take as set in stone, instead let the design and conversion develop naturally as you build. Don't be afraid to change things even if it takes you in a completely different direction. Having them will show how my initial designs progress and develop from the first step to the finished builds.

A mock up can help you refine your ideas without wasting material and time. For example it's better to keep cutting card and taping it together until you settle on a rough size and shape of a turret rather than wasting styrene because you made the first version too tall, then the next one too long etc. As I said above while you want a build to develop organically having a solid starting point will help cut out much of the pontificating and indecision you may experience later when building the tank in styrene.

Mock ups held together with blu-tac and tape

While each Looted Wagon will have an ‘Ard Case and a Boomgun the aim is to have three individualistic looking models.

A – Built up hull with a looted Russ turret.
B – 'Destroyer Tank Hunter' - rebuilt hull incorporating weapons.
C – Plating to the hull, new exhausts & scratch built turret.

One wagon will have a Reinforced Ram while another will have engine detail.

That is the end of Part One. In Part Two I crack on with the first Looted Wagon – The Destroyer Tank Hunter inspired design.


  1. Fantastic! I am always amazed by your looted vehicles, and will be eagerly looking forward to part two!

  2. Excellent article. Glad you are on twitter. Always love your work!

  3. Great start to what will be a fantastic series I am sure. I am always impressed with scratch built models, the ability to share the plastic sheets to do your bidding is awesome.


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