Thursday, September 29, 2011

Plastic to Player's Choice: 11 Week Wood Elves - To Convert or not to Convert

This next segment will take a look at my approach to conversions with this army.

If you look closely, you'll realize there aren't that many! So it's true that you don't have to be a master modeler to end up with a great army. A solid paint scheme and complementary choice of figs can take you a long way.

If you are going for pure speed, you might think that skipping conversions altogether would be the best approach. As we will see, this is not always the case. But if you want to hit the the table quickly, you need to find the right balance between conversions and stock models. You want to get the most bang for your buck, so to speak.

Keep It Simple
The best conversions often don't require much more than swapping in a model or bit from a different range. I borrowed mostly from the Beastman and Dark Elf ranges to help give these guys a darker feel than your typical wood elf fare. Some ranges, such as Chaos, Demons or Beastmen, have components you can tap into to accentuate your army. Don't care for Marauder Horsemen? Sub in some cool looking Centigors!

So in the Player's Choice list, we have:
A Dark Elf Sorceress subbing for a Spellweaver
A Morathi on Pegasus w/ a wood elf Glade Guard heading subbing for an eagle riding Noble
Beastman banners subbing for Glade Guard and BSB banners
A corpse cart body subbing for a Wild Rider banner

These are simple, but effective choices that help tie the army together. Besides whole models, heads or banners, you could swap shields, weapons, steeds, or any number of things really.

You'll notice that all these are focal points as well. People are naturally drawn to character and command models. Focus your effort on these models for the most effective results. Avoid whole unit conversions if you can. If you must convert a a whole unit, limit it to one or two units in the army. To do otherwise ends only in madness...

Avoid Conversions for the Sake of Conversions
So once you get the hang of it, converting can be pretty fun. Much more satisfying, actually, than painting, most would say. So much so, that much of your hobby sessions can consist of nothing but conversions. To a point, this is fine. But at some point, this is just procrastination.

Every conversion is putting you deeper in the hole. So a model might take two hours to complete normally. If you spend an extra two hours converting the fecker, then it takes you four hours to polish that sucker off. Also, it might actually take two and a half or three hours to paint now, since about 98% of conversions invariably increase the complexity of the paint job.

So when you convert, ask yourself:
Is this really contributing to your theme or are you just converting for the hell of it?

If you're green stuffing bags and satchels on your models or are combing through your bitz box just looking for something random to glue to your model, you might be spending quite a bit of time for no gain. You can be sure no one is going to look at your figs and say to you "Damn, those are some fine looking leather bags on those Greatswords!"

So try your best to control those impulses and move the army forward.

With the Player's Choice list, the only other conversions besides the aformentioned swaps, were the Wild Rider unicorn horns. Adding the horns allowed me to get some blood on to the horses and really helped tie them to the riders. Plus, the idea of unicorn riders seemed in line with the woodies.

Covert Converting
There is actually a second type of conversion to keep in mind, those 2% of conversions which actually decrease the complexity of the paint jobs and speed things up. This really extends to plain old assembly as well. GW kits often come loaded with extra bags and bitz. Resist the temptation to glue these to your models. You're just going to have to spend time painting them later and nobody really gives a crap how many Gnoblars are sprouting from your Ogres (unless your theme is Gnoblar infested Ogres - got it?).

So with the Player's Choice list, I made sure not to use the Glade Guard cloak covered in leaves and gemstones. With the Dryads, I avoided most of the branches with leaves and spites. Both of these add a lot of fiddly paint work without adding much to the model in my opinion. Some examples of simplifying conversion would be the wristbands on Clompers the Giant (the leather greaves were a little more in theme as well) and removal of the base on the Goblin Hewer (more stable as well now).

Here is an extreme example below. I dremeled off the plethora of Lambdas on these WarGods of Olympus Spartan Peltasts for my speed painted Spartans (since I thought it odd the rank and file Spartans were completely unadorned in Lambdas but the peon peltasts were covered in 'em). I also clipped off the extra javelins they were carrying. An extra hour of quick conversion work to save four or five down the road is well worth it when the overall look is the same or superior.

Hopefully, you've got an idea or two for your next batch 'o rank 'n file. You can see I'm not a total laze-bag and generally have a certain look or a secondary motive in mind besides just speeding along the panting.

Don't worry, in the next segment, we finally get to painting!

Previous segments:
Part 3 - Back to Bases
Part 2 - An 'Ass' of 'Me'... and 'Bly'
Part 1 - Pro Choice


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