[Archive] On Dark Tides - Cooperative blog for sculpting and casting ships [01-04-2016]


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. :hat off


Looking good! I’ve been looking forwards to seeing what you’ve come up with.

I’ve got a pretty firm idea of two ships I’m certainly going to make, hopefully by end of week.

The hammer ship already described and a mining ship.

The mining ship is based on a gold dredge, though with the addition of a spike on each bucket.

Its basically going to be a ship with a chainsaw out the front!!

My third one will be a regular gunship, multi purpose ship and land targets. A destroyer

The forth one if I get that far would be another gunship, but primarily for land targets and daemonic.

I did have another crazy idea, this time a wide slave ship that would be stacked high with decks of cages (think a container ship) two big boarding ramps on the front and maybe smaller on the sides. Harpoon things as weapons to pull ships in.

Can I check, we are saying around 1- 1.5mm as cd height?


One idea for this - anyone thinking of making matching scenery? Eg docks/piers, seaforts/towers, etc?


@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.


I’m en-route to making some for Man O War, as I was inspired by Admirals “Tale of three ships”.

They won’t be green stuff though. I will see how they go.



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Wow! I wasn`t in this genre until now but the finished demoltion ship looks really fun.


@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.


Hmm, maybe it could be some sort of close assault support platform? It Rams an enemy ship and either it disgorges a boarding party or an allied ship initiates a boarding action while blunderbusses, swivel guns and flame throwers on the top deck provide support/cover fire?


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.


Would it be better to have one set of escorts that are Dwarf ships and a second set that are slave ships? The slave ships being cheap fodder means that really they should outnumber the dwarf ships I think. And I’d say that the slave ship set should have duplicates in it role wise, but with the minis being slightly different visually, eg it’d be a six ship set, three would be the rammer variety and three the boarding variety, but it’d be six distinct sculpts rather than duplicate sculpts.

One idea re: moulds - would it be possible to have a fleet/battlegroup/taskforce/etc mould? I’m thinking something like a mould that’ll produce say one battleship, two cruisers and three escorts as a set. If so maybe that’d be the best to use as the first set cast/sold as it’d give people a good core/starter fleet and the all escort set, all cruiser set, etc come later as expansions.


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.


An initial sketch idea for a battleship type model.  Steam paddlewheel driven, although a steam galley idea would work as well (the top bit o sketch was originally going to be galley style).  The smokestacks would have to either be more upright, or the model would have to be cast from the side.  The side cannon would probably be fewer and larger. Bear in mind this is an initial sketch only.  I’ve started on a top down, but haven’t finished it, but let me know your thoughts.  

Kinda been thinking Monitor and Merrimac (Kansas) style.
Cheers, JR


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. :slight_smile:

Fuggit Khan:

Admiral: great work on the slave galley, the idea of a tall tower deck design sculpted as a looming Chaos dwarf overseer is brilliant. Always good to remind those slaves who they work for, and that their Chaos Dwarf masters are keeping an eye on them.

Jackswift: that is a really nice sketch! I love the forward prow of the ship designed as a Chaos Dwarf face. An awesome idea…and bonus points for the idea of the Monitor and Merrimac (Virginia) :cheers


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. :)

Understood. I usually work with .06 thickness card (1.5 mm) for most builds using thinner stuff or rod only for the detail work. At that thickness the styrene itself is strong enough to drill through without loosing integrity (granted I usually work at a larger 28mm scale as well, so we'll see how well this works, or if I have to move to thinner material). A frame is a good idea either way. I may need to build up my green stuff skills. I have used it with some success in the past, but the stickiness drives me crazy when trying to sculpt. I picked up some pro-create and milliput to play with and may find I like those materials better.

I believe we would still want to create a resin master from the final styrene and green stuff model before preparing the final mold.
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.
Definitely. Sounds like a great idea to me. Frankly, I have no specific preference on side versus top or bottom casting. The latter can be a little simpler to do with good result. If the slant is enough the side details may not be undercut, however there will still be a little undercut with the nose above the ram, and potentially in a few other places which might make side on casting more realistic. My casting/mold making experience is extremely limited, many years in the past, and almost nil with these materials, so I will leave the specifics to those with more knowledge. Tell me the preference and I will design accordingly.


@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. :slight_smile:

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.


...and bonus points for the idea of the Monitor and Merrimac (Virginia)
@Fuggit Khan: Thank you sir... and nice catch.  Frankly, I'm not really sure where "Kansas" came from. :cheers