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    Default A Beginner's Guide: Scratchbuilding a Heavy Bolter with Plasticard

    Introduction: So why am I doing this?

    Edit: On the BoLS Facebook page (a public forum) someone commented that I shouldn't post screengrabs of people who have posted perfectly relevant comment under their own names in a public forum on another public forum because it felt wrong or something. I don't get why quoting someone who said something on public record is bad, especially when it's a good question, but I don't want to come off like someone who puts people online like some kind of monster, so the names of these people have now been changed to hide the identities they weren't trying to hide in the first place. Anyway, just to be clear: the Facebook commentators below aren't really the girls from Friendship is Magic, so don't get too excited about thinking I actually know them or anything. I don't. Sorry.

    Maybe one day.

    Maybe one day...

    Recently, you may have noticed that I uploaded a piece about how I converted Taurox treads into Rapier gun carriages. (Itís here if youíre interested:

    Also, a few months back, I posted my guide to how I scratchbuilt a Spartan Assault Tank (which is here:!)

    Now, I hadnít realised until recently that these had been posted to BoLS Facebook page, where they had received some very flattering comments. However, a few people had posted some misconceptions.

    As you can see here, Donatello says you need to find templates on the net.

    Thatís a load of bollocks. I have never used a template IN MY LIFE. The reason for that is twofold. Firstly, who has the patience to slog through the internet, visiting malware infested sites to search for someoneís half-assed suggestions? Secondly, Iím an Assamite, not a Tremere. (Well, technically Iím a Giovanni, hence my name, by thatís by-the-by). That means I donít like to follow the recipe. Iíd rather have something that looks similar to the original, but not the same, because I like everything I have to be obviously converted rather than bought.

    The thing is, a lot of people have argued on the Spartan thread above that scratchbuilding with plasticard is wasted time. And if all you want to do is game, you know what? Theyíre right. Scratchbuilding takes a long, long time. That Spartan was roughly a two week project. Those Rapiers took four days. Itís difficult, fiddly, demanding work.

    It is also the most fun the hobby has to offer.

    In much the same way as the world-class chef enjoys herself combining unrelated ingredients to create something entirely new, something she can call her own, so the scratchbuilder gets to watch as a flat sheet of white plastic gradually transforms into a usable 40K model. Itís like LEGO from when you were a kidÖ only you make the pieces yourself.

    If you donít understand the appeal of that, you genuinely have my sympathy.

    There were some other interesting comments on the Taurox post:

    I want to clear up some of those misconceptions.

    Firstly, Twilight Sparkle seems to think that plasticard requires talent Ė that what I have done is something remarkable. Itís not: anyone can work with plasticard. It is an incredibly simple medium. Below here is a tutorial for beginners that will hopefully allow you to scratchbuild yourself a very basic Heavy Bolter, in many ways the simplest of all Imperial heavy weapons, but one that just looks great.

    However, Rarity raises an interesting point: why didnít I build the sides?

    Well, because the Taurox tracks have those lovely gothic greebles on them, the ones that are so very 1st edition 40K, and I know my limitations. Iím not good at curves and swirls, because Iím not a professional, merely a dedicated amateur. Those track units look great Ė why not use them?

    Careful choice of bits is hugely important, and those track units will give my army a unified look, which I think is very important. As an aside, Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash raise an interesting question: what did I do with the spare bits? Surely I was being wasteful?

    Well, firstly, I didnít buy any Taurox. I went through bits sites and just bought the tracks. Because no-one seems to want them, theyíre selling dirt cheap at the moment and I took advantage. Secondly, thereís no such thing as waste to the dedicated modeller. Everything can be reused. If I had bought some Taurox, I would just buy a set of wheel and convert up my Taurox to have wheels. Stop thinking ďwasteĒ and think ďnew possibilitiesĒ.

    Or donít. Iíll happily buy your bits off you cheap on eBay and make them into something wonderful.

    Anyway, letís get to the actually interesting bit: the tutorial.

    The Tools You Will Need:

    These are the only tools I use. The craft knife is the one you will use most of. The long ruler is for cutting strips of plasticard off the main sheet Ė I never use the whole sheet at once, because itís just too big!

    The other workhorses are the mini ruler and the set square. They HAVE to be metal. If you use plastic, youíll just cut into your tools and ruin them. Likewise, they have to be small, because most of the stuff youíre making is going to be tiny. Unless youíre building Titans, in which case fair enough, but just know: Epic was better at Titans than 40K will ever be.

    Itís also worth getting yourself a little selection of styrene types. Train shops sell thin strips, rods, hex rods, and all sorts. I keep mine in this rotating desk tidy for ease of access.

    Here are some examples. Thin styrene rod is useful for rivets (as you will see later) as well as cabling. Thicker rod can form gun barrels, sound suppressors, pistons and bionics. Thin strips of plasticard are essental for greebling ( Thick square rods are useful for supporting structures, frames, and the internals of robots or heavy walkers (Iíve got a build-a-robot tutorial planned later where hopefully Iíll be able to demonstrate what I mean).

    This is called Ďtreadplate plasticardí. Itís regular plasticard, only with detailing. Itís less generally useful, but if you look at my Rapiers, youíll see how good it can look when effectively deployed.

    Hereís the two thicknesses of plasticard I generally work in. Mostly, I build using the thickest card, and use the thin stuff for greebling. I have some super-thin card too (itís about the thickness of paper) and I use that for greebling, much like the styrene strips above.

    So, thatís the sort of thing you need to scratchbuild generally.
    Last edited by YorkNecromancer; 05-15-2014 at 12:25 PM.



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