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Full Version: On Dark Tides - Cooperative blog for sculpting and casting ships [01-04-2016]
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Welcome to our smallscale log for sculpting and casting a range of evil dwarf ships! The aim of us volunteer enthusiasts is to create a fantasy steamship fleet of both escorts, cruisers and capital ships, and maybe even a fabled oceanic ziggurat fortress down the road.

So far we have on board the following members: Admiral (sculpting), Grimstonefire (sculpting), Fuggit Khan (sculpting), Red Skullz (sculpting), and Jackswift (building frameworks).

At present and if everything goes well, we expect to release the range in three waves, with one wave consisting of the smallest escort vessels, and the other waves containing larger ships and submersibles. Each of these three waves will consist of a bundle of several individual ship classes, so collectors wanting squadrons of some type or another will have to purchase several bundles. That will help repay the moulds. Picking just one or two ship classes from a bundle won't be an option given the limited market (which we intend to reach as well as possible with forum advertising and so on).

Demolition Ship

The first finished vessel is this demolition ship, probably the smallest of all boats. Note its lack of anchors. It's equipped only with sturdy fastening rings to be towed along by the fleet en route to battle. Length 2cm:

And a raw WIP picture of the current five escort ships on my workdesk:

Should you have ideas and suggestions or wish to volunteer with your abilities, knowledge or sponsorship, please share your thoughts here!

C&C welcome as ever. Takes Hat off
@Grimstonefire: Thanks! Very good ideas, they're certainly inventive. I hope the triple-catamaran will be in there among them, and a slave container ship is a lovely idea!

Yes, about 1-1.5mm. It's not too strict, but let's all keep the imaginary crew small. Of course, cages can be much higher than that to accomodate large beasts, and quite wide to take hordes of slaves. In the end, what looks good is what works, so sculpt cages and so on in whatever size you like the look of.

Looking forward to see your weekend's work. Wink

@Dînadan: That would be great to have, but ships first. This is a limited venture given the limited market. The costs for ship moulds will have to covered, and then we'll see if we embark on large ziggurats, dockyard terrain or enemy ships such as Orc rafts or Elven dolphin/swan ships, depending on interest from both customers and sculptors.

I've by the way ordered some Uncharted Seas terrain to go with my collection. Recommend everyone wanting terrain to do the same.
@Abecedar: Really looking forward to see how yours turn out!

@Bloodbeard: Thanks!

@tjub: Tackar! Let's see if you'll be hooked.

@TheHoodedMan: Thank you very much! Perhaps these ships of ours could persuade you to try out this genre? The hope is to do just that with many who didn't know they wanted ship miniatures. Wink

Slave Galley

A friend of mine insisted on the nose ram. What do you think about it?

Is the level of detail sufficient? Would you like to see something more on the miniature? Are the tower's crenellations and the ballista's shallow holes castable? The ballista holes can be filled up, and the top of the tower can be cut off to be cast separately in the mould, if need be. My weakness with straight lines, proportions etc. should be evident for the sharp-eyed among you, yet I hope this is not a serious detriment. Might return for a few touch-ups later on. Length 3,4cm:

The ram placement above the waterline is based on early modern galleys. Also, do you wish for the escort bundle to include a second slave galley based on this Assyrian bireme? It would be a double-decker, with lower ram and lines of round shields around the platform. But it would have to fill some weaponry niche, such as sporting a harpoon gun, a catapult or just count as a "cheap" dedicated archery platform. Input wanted.
Perhaps a corvus assault bridge would do the trick? The double-decker boarding galley would be able to reach up to the railings of vastly larger ships by sacrificing agility and sea worthiness. If a bunch of slave warrior scum drown when the clumsy and ungainly galley goes under in a storm, then who cares? Ruleswise it'd probably only sport some puny flaming arrows or harpoon gun for shooting, or not even that.

With a sixth ship in the escort mould, we'd have:

4 evil dwarf steamships (demolition, fire cannon, shackled demon, logistics)
2 slave galleys (ramming & weak ballista, boarding & weak archery).

Do this look sufficient to cover the smallest vessels in the range? Bear in mind that missiles and larger cannons will feature on the big boats.

Note that mere slave ships built on the cheap in shipyards aren't likely to show up among the larger vessels. As such, the escort kit would cover the rickety slave vessels with two different classes of galley, and that'd be it. The slave galleys are only there to provide dispensable numbers, a skirmish screen to soak up enemy fire and disrupt the hostile fleet, and some capability to wage naval war in tight archipelagos.
Maybe, but the slave ships will be limited in classes. As low-priority ragtag reserves, they'd be outnumbered by the mainstay evil dwarf ships, and in any case each galley binds up a lot of slave rowers and all the dwarf ships use slave labour to keep them running, so even with relatively few dedicated slave ships around the whole navy will be crawling with thralls.

We'll have to hear with whichever caster gets the job first, but I suspect that the most sensible way to make this, is by releasing one escort kit (both slave and evil dwarf vessels) and two cruiser/capital ship sets. The market is so limited, that we want to make as few sets/expansions as possible for the fleet to minimize amount of moulds, but we could probably cook up a battlegroup deal where collectors can buy all three bundles together slightly cheaper. Still, having two or three mixed battlegroup moulds (no further expansions, except for possible sea ziggurat in case the moulds well repay themselves) with both escorts, cruisers and a battleship plus submersible could perhaps work. It's clunky with no room for picking favourite classes, but might be better for the investor/s (me, and everyone else who potentially would chip in on production costs and get proportional returns on sales).

We'll have to look into this, discuss and think it over.
Neat! I like it a lot and look forward to top down view. Paddlewheel is better than galley style for a capital ship without a doubt.

Would it be possible to have the top section's smoke stacks and large gun made as one or two separate pieces from the main hull? It could perhaps allow us to make it a multi-part model, with the option of a large cannon or a large rocket included on the sprue.

If it is not to be cast from the side (as the escorts will be), but from the top/bottom, how will the paddlewheels, main gun and side cannons do in the mould with their undercuts? The side cannons should perhaps work well if the hull is as sloping as it looks on the sketch, and the paddlewheels could work if the paddles don't protrude much. It's something we'll have to bear in mind when building and sculpting the vessel.

Wonderful silhouette on the battleship. Keep it up and keep us updated. Wink
Also, Grimstonefire has some words of caution regarding plasticard build-ups of vessels in the other thread. When you're about to build the plastic frames for the vessels, please use a spine of plastic sprue or similar into which one can drill and pin. It'll help greatly when sculpting. Happy
@Fuggit Khan: Thanks! Nothing like having a colossal statue of your boss breathing down your neck. Wink

@Jackswift: Should it vex you, I can always fill in the hollows with grey stuff so long as one can reach them. Good point about the resin master, it will be handier for the caster in several ways. We'll see when we get there to the cruisers and battleships, but first the escorts will get cast as one-piece miniatures and maybe even without resin masters if I can have the caster pull off the mould relatively cheap. That'll serve as some learning experience for the later ships.

Grimstonefire is the one with the most casting experience on our team, and we could possibly ask Bloodbeard and Baggronor about some issues as well. My knowledge and experience is also limited to say the least, but I hope to remedy that with these ships and the dwarf sculpts. Happy

If the ship is to be wide rather than narrow, then the mould's thickness (and mouldmaking cost) will increase. This is true for all the large ships. Casting it standing (top-casting) could alleviate that somewhat, though the face's nose, the high structures on top deck and similar tricky areas might have to become separate pieces. Let's decide on top or side-casting once we've got the top-down sketch to work with.
Tasty! It looks good to me, and the width of the partial top down sketch seems reasonable. It don't need to be much broader to get that dwarf look in my eyes. The ram is it is on the sketch seems just fine. Smoke stacks will be good whether centre mounted or not, but thicker will be for the better without a doubt. And since the smaller ships' smokestacks are centre-mounted, going for 2 a side on the battleship will add to its grandeur.

I see clearer now why you envisioned a top-down casting approach given the upper deck. The placement of the large gun (separate piece from hull) calls for it. This is not a meagre escort, but a big vessel calling for some depth of railings and deck details. I'm all for mounting the gun/rocket battery on a large gear platform. Would it be possible to make the towering rear structure (including smoke stacks) a separate piece in the mould? That'd make the upper deck flatter and possibly slightly more economic to cast top-down. Making part of the face separate to bypass the nose undercut would also help. Everything else should be castable top-down as is on the sketches.

Beard plates will look best in miniature format if sticking out a bit. I think the armour tusks as they are, are more than sufficient. Minor note: I won't be able to do the rivets justice in this small scale, that's why there are no visible rivets on the escorts even though we know their plates logically are swarming with them. Still, there certainly are other details to add to the hull.

I really like your vision for this ship, and I've already got some plans for small extra decorations like small triangular plates, miniscule lightning bolt motifs and so on at strategic places. Those will likely be covered in future sketches drawn before sculpting the ornaments, to get input and, if all is well, thumbs up from you.

Also, make it as long as you think is befitting this metal monstrosity. A length of 7cm isn't too outlandish.
Wow, great indeed! Both sketches and sculpt. Ziggurat bridges are a master stroke. The chainsaw ship is brutal. Two rams on the hammer ship would give the impression of horns or tusks, which wouldn't be out of place. Also, leave a small gap in the railing at the fore for the hammer to come down through when bashing hostile vessels.

How will the ships cast? Would the hammer be a one, two or three-part separate piece, and will the chainsaw be castable as it is? How about the two chimneys at the back, will they be loose in the mould, or do they work even with a gap in between in the centreline? And the railings, are the hull meant to be cast top-down? I'm sure you've got it all figured out and I'm probably underestimating the undercuts resin moulds can take, so I'm mainly asking to learn something new. Also, are the pointed crenellations on the galley tower castable (with the galley cast from the side)? Or does the top need to be removed to be cast standing as a separate piece?

Fantastic ship ideas, Grim and Jackswift. This is turning out better and better. Cheers!
Why not? We're striking out for bizarre and unusual mechanical terrors, and that certainly fills all criteria. Sounds like the contraption of a mad inventor. Nice idea! Would there be a rudder extension backward somewhere? I think that would help bring a look of balance to the paddlewheel roller.

Thanks for clarifying points of casting!
This is getting better and better, gentlemen. Pirate

Great design, not least the hammers/pickaxes! It's more than "just" a medium gunship with that invention. I'm all for it, with or without corvus boarding ramp, and with or without loose turrets.
@Jackswift: It would be great to have 3D-designed and printed vessels without print lines in the range, especially since the geometric shapes of the models would lend themselves to it. I'd really like to see someone savvy in those crafts turn out a ship fit for a mould. Happy

@gIL^: That'd be the dream, wouldn't it? I'd love to, but my own limited skills and the very limited market for such a pricey object makes it unlikely. Maybe way down the road, but even then it wouldn't be much more than a gunboat, and still cost a lot.


A lightly armed and humble tugboat/craneship/cargoship/trawler/supply ship. The work horse of the navy. Any respectable war fleet need a merchant fleet to protect, even if those merchant vessels with few exceptions partake in loading up slaves and loot as part of the empire's insatiable and ruthless hunger for power and wealth. This ship can be used for convoy scenarios as well as for scenarios to salvage wrecks or plunder valuables from the bottom of the sea. It can even be pressed into true military service when desperation calls. The diving bell can easily be cut off by the collector, should he want to get rid of it. Note the truss crane. Armament: Carronade

Fire Cannon Ship

A small escort vessel crammed with machinery and pipes, this little ship spews forth unquenchable flames akin to Greek fire, or even molten metal or liquid rocks. The bane and terror of wooden ships, it's nothing more than a floating flamethrower.

Measurement shot:

As you can see when comparing the craneship and the fire cannon ship to the cheap and expendable slave galley and demolition ship, these two escorts are part of the mainstay of the evil dwarf navy, and decorated accordingly. Furthermore, the lack of a cabin on the top deck hints at the location of the steersman below deck to save space on the minimalistic escort vessels, and keep the helmsman away from sharpshooters up in the crow's nest of other ships. Below deck, lower-ranked sailors equipped with donkey eared binoculars unhatch the triangular lids (the "dags" or arrow head decorations) to observe the surroundings and relay information to the steersman. It's a clunky and convoluted system, just like the evil dwarves themselves are.
Thanks a lot! Good idea, though I lack a hobby file and will first have to consider taking a knife to the chimney tops. Not that good with blades or straight lines, I'm afraid.

Besides, do you happen to know a caster and mouldmaker firm to recommend? I'm considering sending the escorts off to a caster quite soon after they're ready, to get the first mould started early and pave the way for our kits with bigger ships.

Also, please shout if any of you want to make some small escort of your own! If that's the case, then we can wait with the mould for sure. I'm just assuming that everyone's main interest will lie in the big boats. Wink
Nice to hear!

CAD-design of big boat components and 3d-printing could work for distribution of 28mm scale vessels (i.e. someone makes the templates and puts them up online, maybe for free, and people can print out boat parts at home). Making the hull hollow by assembling it like a tank kit would save some materials for the printer. I wish I had the skill with such programs to pull it off, but I struggle with learning even the simpler stuff. Perhaps, gIL^, if you ask Jackswift very kindly or bribe him...? Wink
@Ikkred Pyrhelm: Thanks! Hope you'll like the whole range once finished. Happy

@Grimstonefire: I had loosely planned to contact some British caster, since I'm under the impression there exists a few such firms over in the UK, although I've not yet researched closer. The country of the caster wouldn't matter too much as long as his reputation is sound and services good. I'm currently working with a Czech caster who runs Custom Made Miniatures to produce an animated dwarf statue, which is likely to arrive before Christmas. That caster is very busy and one will have to expect long waiting times. Though it doesn't bother me much that particular statue model is late, I wouldn't contact CMM to do the casting for our ships.

A guy over on Warseer shared his couple of finds after searching for casters:

hagen88 Wrote:
"After some researches I found this company:
They are UK based and they received some good feedbacks for their metal sculpts from Hasslefree miniatures, who regularly employs them to cast their miniatures.
I contacted them, along with another resin cast company:
and ask both of them about their prices and avilability, so now is basically just wait and see what they come up with."

I had thought of asking the above mentioned firms, and ask you and Baggronor for recommendations. And see if we could find any other companies to pick and choose from.

Neat plan for the ships, particularly the catamaran. Looking forward to see it! Perhaps we can recycle some of your left-over ideas in other large ships which others will make?

@Grimstonefire: I'll ask Griffin about resin. Yes, having a few models in excess won't hurt, though I'd dislike to see any of your 3 vessels or Jackswift's two present sketches be rejected from the moulds. Would it be wise to limit ourselves in our planning right away to avoid rejected sculpts as far as possible?

E.g. you'd take on 3 ships, the chainsaw, the hammer and the demonic catamaran. If we want to get out more ship types without throwing in more hulls, making the hammer ship or the catamaran multi-part to include rocket launchers (or something esle) would go a long way toward providing collectors/players with equipment variety. Jackswift has so far come up with a Merrimac-based battleship and Monitor assault cruiser, both of which could be multi-part with optional great rocket for the battleship, and whatever we fancy for the Monitor (rockets, torpedo tubes, slave cages, demonic altar...). That makes 5 large ship hulls in total.

On top of this, Fuggit Khan will contribute with a ship later on, and Red Skullz has signed up to build a multi-part submersible with hull drill and mechanical tentacles as alternatives. 7 in total, with possible space for one more vessel, though it'd preferably be something wacky and out of the ordinary to warrant a place. And as a crown for the range, an oceanic ziggurat could lie ahead in the future. Maybe.

We'll all reach an agreement regarding what we want to see in the fleet, at least for the big ships which are the most important (escorts are but a sideshow). The below list is a preiliminary proposition, please discuss and share your own ideas for the range:

Evil Dwarf Fleet Wrote:
Escorts One mould
Demolition ship
Fire demon ship
Fire cannon ship
Craneship w. carronade
Slave galley w. ballista
Double-decker slave galley with corvus assault bridge?

Ships of the Line Two-three moulds
Chainsaw ship
Hammer ship (optional rockets?)
Demon catamaran w. cannons
Assault ship w. turrets and pickaxes (optional harpoon gun, rocket or torpedo tubes?)
Battleship w. broadside batteries and great cannon (optional great rocket?)
Nautilus Submersible w. mechanical tentacles (optional hull drill?)
Fuggit's surprise
Something utterly bizarre? (Empty slot for something special, preferably w. bizarre steampunk & unholy demonic forces)

What do you all think about it? Note the proposed rocket options. The fleet needs some rocket artillery, though not necessarily on all the above mentioned ships. Note also the proposed options for the assault ship. As a light cruiser, it's versatile and may be equipped with a variety of weapons.

Is something fundamental to the range missing in the above list? We'd positively have to cover the necessary archetypes such as fire, shackled demons/mysticism, steam engines, ostentatious decoration, odd close combat ships, mortar and rocket artillery, slavery and plain craziness.

Though not an aquatic bronze bull with flippers. Tongue

@Jackswift: Thanks! The details are quite simple to make and repeat on a larger scale, which will come in handy for the battleship and assault ship. I'm aiming for side moulds on all the escorts to keep them simple, so the crane won't detach unless hacked off.

Good to hear you've got some idea for a nautilus sub. Ammonites have always been a favourite ancient sea creature of mine, and nautili aren't far off. Red Skullz will sculpt the submersible in due time once he's finished a couple of projects (don't expect anything before Christmas), and I bet he'll willingly work with your concept sketch as a basis, and naturally also a plasticard frame as a basis should you wish to make one for him. I believe any mechanical tentacles would have to be sculpted on bent needles pinned into part of the vessel.

Also, please see the proposed weapon options for the Monitor assault ship in the list above. The boarding hammers are a must, yet we could include optional weaponry for collectors to equip it with.

Really lovely ships that you are all creating

BABIS Wrote:
wow great result!


One of our local players, (Long time gamer and collector) was very impressed with them
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