Monday, April 30, 2018

Gauging Interest: Jupiter Resculpt

The Jupiter

So, I am actually quite a big fan of the Jupiter.  This 'Mech debuted in the original MechWarrior Dark Age set and and was probably one of the best to debut with the game.

Take a look:




Pretty cool design, don't you think? It just oozes BattleTech with lots of big guns and missiles, and just gives off that excellent "Big Lumbering Tank" vibe without many of the strange and gangly aesthetics that plagued many early Dark Age designs (Blackhawk anyone?).

With that, the current Ironwind Metals miniature is a bit lacking.  It was sculpted likely 10-15 years ago and it is just... off.  Take a look:

Cockpit is too small, torso is too wide, the strange sensor dish (admittedly the weakest part of the dark age design) sits way too high and just looks awkward.  The feet are too large while the arms are far too small.  How are you supposed to use those hands with the gun barrels like that?  Quite obviously, the design has flaws compared to the original miniature.  Beyond this, the casting on this miniature has had overall poor luck with thick mold lines.  With that, I have taken it upon myself to do a basic 3D model (undetailed at this point) of the Jupiter to try and make a solid looking model that reflects the original design faithfully at the smaller BattleTech scale.

The Model


Take a look at the model thus far:



Now, I fully realize that this is not a perfectly proportioned rough model, but that is how all of my miniatures start out.  With the help my good friends, especially the very talented artist Justin "IAMCLANWOLF" "LKY13" Nelson I would hope to tune the design to make it perfect. And then, we could get it posted to the Ironwind Metals Fan Financing Initiative.

Justin actually was able to do some rough work on the model to get me started, though I haven't had a chance to implement the suggested changes yet.  This is typical of what I receive from him and it is incredibly helpful.

This is what I sent him:


 And this is what he sends me back in return:




I can obviously see many of his suggested edits will make this thing match the art and previous minis much better.  I may not do everything he has suggested, but it always invokes a lot of thought and solid conversation, so every little bit is helpful.  Some further back and forth is necessary, but it will go a long way to making this a really great design.

Fan Financing with Ironwind Metals

Ironwind Metals is a small company.  Very small.  And let's face it everyone, BattleTech is not the most popular franchise.  I have anecdotally been told that, compared to the 90s, a BattleTech miniature sells about 10x less miniatures that it would have 20 years ago.  Now there are many factors for this that can be discussed ad nauseam for this decline, but the fact remains true: BattleTech doesn't sell all that great.

As such, Ironwind is generous enough to do the Fan Financing initiative.  It's sort of like a miniature kickstarter for miniatures.  Each 'Mech costs approximately $800 to finance, but backers get every dollar they commit back in an Ironwind Metals gift voucher.  This means that you get something for every dollar you commit, and if you were planning on making a purchase with Ironwind, you are literally out nothing.

All fan financing is done through the Ironwind Metals section of the BattleTech official forums.

Backers post in a forum thread when they are interested in backing a design, whatever that may be at any point in time.  From there, a private message is sent to all backers with paypal information.  After payment is received, Ironwind issues a gift voucher for the amount of the pledge.  Then, a few months later, a brand new miniature is released, usually as an Ironwind Online Exclusive.   Not a bad deal.

What I Need From You

I want to gauge interest in the resculpt of the Jupiter.  Would people want this mini resculpted? Would you buy it?

Let me know in the comments below or on my Facebook Page.

If people are interested, I will finish the model 100% and have it miniature ready.  From there, I will submit to Ironwind and see if they accept it as a future fan finance project.  Finally, if it is approved, it will be posted to the above Fan Financing forum, and likely be produced!

So, is a new Jupter worth the time or a waste of time? You decide.

Catapult II Preview

Still recovering from a busy weekend, but in the meantime, enjoy this preview of my latest sculpt, the Catapult II!  I've got quite a bit to say on the development of this one, but that will have to wait until another day.


Sunday, April 22, 2018

My Work with IronWind Metals - The Arctic Wolf II

So the next two miniatures I did for IronWind Metals was the Arctic Wolf II and the Chimera Resculpt.  Both of these miniatures share one thing in common and that is that they both originated in MechWarrior 4.

The first was the Arctic Wolf II, or just the Arctic Wolf in the game.  It is a bit of a wonky mech, but it was actually intended to be.  The official art (seen above) is directly based off of the final 3D model that is shown below.  I believe this is from the Virtual World Entertainment iteration of the design, but it is essentially the hi-res model of the game model:



Also, some images direct from the game.  Sorry for the ultra-low resolution.  



Finally I actually jumped into MechWarrior 4 so I could grab the rear details of the 'Mech, just to make sure the design could be as complete as possible.  So I literally jumped into the game and got all of these images.  I was going to post them in an imgur gallery embedded here on the site, but I can't seem to make the HTML embed work, so a link will have to do: https://imgur.com/a/rTYDRic

Finally, David White posted his original concept art for the design back in 2009, so I had that to reference as well:

Source:https://mecha-zone.deviantart.com

So, now with all of this art, I had a golden opportunity for a great looking sculpt, and I thought it turned out pretty good:

The main issue with this miniatures is not how it looks but rather an unknown hiccup in the process.  Somewhere down the line (and I am 98% sure it wasn't me) but the files all got rendered up an extra 20% larger.  So now the 40 ton mech looks closer to an 80 ton mech in scaling, which was extremely disappointing for me.  Any which way, the mech and 3 variants are available for purchase out on IWM's site!

Coming Next: The Chimera




















Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Fan Design: The MechWarrior 4 Flea

So, as you'll notice is a theme on this blog, I am a huge fan of MechWarrior 4.  When I got vengeance at age 11, I was completely enthralled and I have played each of the three iterations of MW4 at least a dozen times each.  Well, probably played Mercs more than a dozen times and Black Knight less, but close enough!

With that, I have taken a special interest in many of the designs that originated from that game.  I have officially produced through Ironwind Metals the Arctic Wolf II (aka the MW4 Arctic Wolf) and resculpts of both the Chimera and Hellspawn, both designs that originated in MechWarrior 4 Vengeance.  But, before I did most of those, I made a 3D model of the MechWarrior 4 Flea.

Now, the MW4 flea is much, much better looking than the original Flea that was featured in the Wolf's Dragoons sourcebook published back in 1989 (Before I was born!).  What surprises me is that, to this day, the aesthetic of the MechWarrior 4 Mechs have not aged nearly as much as any design that was published in the early days of BattleTech.  The MW4 flea was intended to be the fastest and lightest 'Mech introduced in the Mercenaries expansion, and it is really a slick little design.  Here is the official art:





Credit: Microsoft and https://mecha-zone.deviantart.com/

Not a bad little design!  Trying to stay true mostly to the actual game model, I designed this, which was my low detail model as of September 6th, 2014, making this design one of the oldest in my collection.  I believe only my Vulture III, Thor II, Arion, and Arctic Wolf II models are older than this.


With a few details added (and maybe some coaxing of a few proportions) this is the final model!

Pretty spiffy, eh? Anyways, this model has also been the subject of my attempts to make proper TRO style line art.  After quite a bit of work, and consulting renowned BattleTech artist Justin Nelson, I was able to come up with this:



Now, there is no background or anything, but I am quite proud of the work.  Let me know what you think of it in the comments!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

My Work With Ironwind Metals Pt 1.5

Just a little bit of filler here, but I thought I should include a list of miniatures that I have done for Ironwind Metals, sort of as a preview of what is to come:

  • Thor II - Prime, A, and B Configs
  • Arion Quadvee
  • Arctic Wolf II - Prime, A, B, and C Configs
  • Chimera Resculpt - 1S and 2K Configs
  • Pendragon - 1R and 3R Configs
  • Centurion Resculpt - A, Al, YLW1, and YLW2 Configs
  • Centurion Omnimech - Prime, A, C, and D Configs
  • Roadrunner
  • Gravedigger - 1C and 1D Configs
  • Hound
  • Uraeus
  • Loki Mk II - Prime, A, and B Configs
  • Cougar Resculpt - Prime and B Configs
  • Hellspawn Resculpt
  • Catapult II (Unreleased)
  • Catapult - C2 Config (Original Dark Age Catapult)
  • Ostrogoth and Wusun Microfighters 
Additionally, I have a lot of custom work that I've done that is both original and derivative and I am very much looking forward to sharing it all with you guys!

Rarely Seen Unseen Art



About two years ago I started doing some research on the original Battletech Clan IIC designs.  And I think I discovered some really cool stuff that had never been discussed or seen before, at least not since the 90s and not in the US.

As many of you all know, MechWarrior 1 was released in 1989 for DOS and was not too terribly popular, but it was enough to kick off the franchise.  What is less well known is that Mechwarrior 1 was ported to the Sharp X68000 PC in Japan in 1993.  But, do to the obvious unseen issue, with many of the designs (well, all except the Jenner) being based off of Macross or Dougram designs.

For reference, there were 8 'Mechs in Mechwarrior 1: the Locust, the Jenner, the Phoenix Hawk, the Shadow Hawk, the Rifleman, the Warhammer, the Marauder, and the BattleMaster.

So, what the developers of BattleTech X68000 did is redesign those 8 Mechs, which, as you may notice, lines up with 7 of the 8 original Clan IIC mechs.  The only difference is the Griffin IIC and BattleMaster, but as you will clearly see in the art I am about to show below, the BattleMaster from the game became the Griffin IIC.

So, I was able to start the game and what I was able to find was really, really cool.  I was able to get into the mech purchase screen of the game and I took these 8 screenshots:




They kind of show the interior of each mech and their repair status, just like in MechWarrior 1, but with a little more detail.  Furthermore, if you zoom in on the images, they have an orange outline showing the exterior lines of the 'Mech.  But it's kinda hard to see with the X-Ray like view you have going on here, so I imported the images into GIMP, scaled them up by double, and then traced the orange lines with a black line in a separate layer.  The results are really, really cool:



Voila! Clear front views of each IIC 'Mech, never before seen.  And using these as inspiration, I have some cool 3D models to show off in the future.

Stay tuned for more!

My Work with Ironwind Metals, Pt 1

So, as I mentioned before, I am a regular sculptor at Ironwind Metals and I have over 15 miniatures under my belt with them.  I've had a lot of fun over the years making minis and I want to share some of them with you!

My first ever miniature I designed (that was accepted) was the Thor II.  I actually went above and beyond and provided two alternate configs as well, the A and the B, and some of the other alt configs should be really easy to mod with the other parts between those three configs.  Take a look:


Now you can actually buy these minis out on IWMs website (link, link, and link) or you can choose your favorite 3rd party seller.  I am particularly fond of Ares Miniatures and Games as a seller as they are good for shipping and communication, especially if you are on facebook.

Now, I've gone on to do many, many more minis, so I am just going to over a few more, and then I'll make a future post on some of the other official IWM minis I've done.

The next miniature I worked on was one that took almost the longest to release, and that was the Arion Quadvee.  For those of you unfamiliar, the Quadvee is a bit of a transformer that can switch from a Quad 'Mech to a vehicle and back.  They are heavy and relatively inefficient in terms of the actual game, but man do they have some cool aesthetics.  Take a look at this thing:

Now, despite it's looks, there were several visual paradoxes that I had to clear up when making the mini.  You will notice the longer leg limbs and a different way the feet are positioned in the tank mode.  But take a look!   
Unfortunately, the Ironwind Metals Store doesn't have a picture of it in the quadmech mode.  I'll try and upload something soon.  In the meantime, I do have some 3D renders from my software in their place :)

The last thing you'll notice about this mini is that you can make both configs from a single blister pack.  This necessitated a lot of pieces and if I had to do it again, it would be a much simpler miniature.  Live and learn I guess.  This was my second mini ever, and I've learned a lot in the intervening years.

Thanks for reading! In part two, we'll look at the Arctic Wolf II and the Chimera Resculpt!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Welcome!

Hello one and all!

For those of you randomly filtering through the bowels of the interwebs, my name is Matt Cross, and I commonly go by Stinger (or variations thereof) throughout most of the web.

I am a 3D modeler and artist, and I am creating this blog to document my experiences in the field. 

My primary interest is BattleTech, which I assume is why most of you are here.  I am officially a freelance artist with Catalyst Game Labs, though my work has not been featured outside of some very small contributions thus far.  Additionally, I am one of the half dozen or so Ironwind Metals freelance 3D designers designing miniatures for the BattleTech universe.  I have over 15 official miniatures, not counting at least that many alternate configurations or variants of each one.

I also have a lot of interest in other properties related to gaming, modeling, and 3D design, including Star Wars (both models and X Wing Miniatures), Halo, Crimson Skies, Battlebots, and more.

I'll be using this blog to showcase my work, share my techniques, and discuss a little bit of everything moving forward.  I'd like to welcome you to share in my journey!

Life Gets Busy...

Between the birth of my son and moving into a new house, apparently my blog and page have been quite neglected of late. With that, I promi...