This is my first attempt at converting an Imperial Guard model. I decided to try my hand at Colonel "Iron Hand" Straken for my first go around. I even converted his shotgun since that's not a bit you can easily find. Don't worry, the tutorial for the shotgun conversion is further down in the post. The whole project came to me in a roundabout way through a series of emails between a reader and myself about painting and how to improve so that you capture the detail on your models.
One thing led to another and we ended up talking about his Colonel Straken model he had. I offered to repaint it for him to show him some of the techniques I was talking about instead of trying to explain it all in-depth by email. Here's what his model looked like when he sent it to me. He's got a very dark scheme overall and that's why I thought I might be able to share my techniques since they are similar in the end result... very dark.
Looking at his model, there were some things that we covered that would certainly make a difference in his painting overall with making it look more "finished." The first of those has nothing to do with painting the model, but has everything to do with the base. A completed base adds so much more to the model.
Tying in with that is making sure you have a clean model as well. By clean, I mean no stray mold lines, excess glue, sloppy greenstuff work and junk like that all over your model. They add unwanted texture and can make it confusing for viewers to understand what it is that they are looking at.
When it comes to highlighting (especially line highlighting), you don't have to go extreme with your highlights, but you do need to be clean and crisp with your work. Stray marks and inconsistent thickness (in your highlights) detracts from a model. Considering how much time it takes to line highlight anything, you want to make sure you get the best result there.
I rebuilt the model instead of stripping the original
At first the plan was to strip his model and repaint it. We talked about this and the decision was made to rebuild it as close as I could get while adding my own touches to the conversion. It would make it much easier to start with nice, clean surfaces if I used new bits instead of trying to clean up used ones.
I used the same parts for most of my model that were on the original. The shotgun is where I went out on my own. The conversion is not my idea though. I saw it a while ago online and kept the idea in the back of my head if I were ever to do a squad of shotgun toting Space Marine Scouts. I figured it would be absolutely perfect for those guys.
The shotgun conversion step by step
You're going to need two arms to pull this one off. A regular Guard lasgun arm and the flamer arm. I used a third arm later on because I wanted to change how he was holding the gun since he had a power sword in his other hand.
From the flamer, you cut away the muzzle and barrels just in front of the body of the weapon. Cut off the torch on the very front as well. Take this bit, flip it around and glue it onto the front of the lasgun. Try and get a lasgun that does not have the front hand cast into the weapon, it will make it easier in the end as it's one less thing you need to cut away. You'll have to trim away the Imperial winged skull on the side of the lasgun and slowly cut away the front of the weapon so you get a nice match between it and the flipped around flamer bit. The angle can be tricky, but easy enough to do if you take your time.
Here's where I did some additional work since I wanted him holding the shotgun with one hand and not two. I took the laspistol arm and cut away the pistol. From there, I took my shotgun arm and very carefully carved out the stock of the shotgun from the material there. Then I married up the new arm in the position I wanted along with the converted weapon. It took some additional cutting away of plastic along the inside of his arm to get the two bits to come together nicely, but it worked like a charm.
The assembled model
Here's what he looks like prior to any painting. I went in with greenstuff and added a few more elements to the model in order to make him stand out from a regular Cadian Officer. I gave him a sash since I figured I could paint it a contrasting color and I raised his collar to make it look like he was wearing more of a heavy duty coat.
I added a holster to his hip and gave him a few things like grenades and a pouch to help bulk him out a little bit more. I ended up setting him on a Bone Fields base from Secret Weapon minis. It was the perfect fit for the theme my friend already had going on so that was no-brainer for me.
I also opened up his pose a little bit by repositioning his bionic arm. It meant I had to resculpt the shoulder connection and add some flex fitting in there, but I think it helps the pose overall.
Next time we visit this guy, he'll be painted up and I'll show you what I did to give him a dark scheme overall.
Make sure to check out these posts as they might help:
5 things you can do to start your models off right
Repositioning Space Marine arms
Stripping and varnishing models
How to clean mold lines off your models