Saturday, November 7, 2015

Heresy Era Imperial Army - first Geno Five-Two squad built!

Over the last few days the final bits have arrived and I was able to get the first 20-man squad of the Geno Five-Two Dancers Company built. I thought I'd write a bit about my miniature build/posing philosophy, as folks sometimes remark on the natural/dynamic poses I get with the miniatures, and that comes down to a couple key concepts I utilize when putting 'em together.

Starting off, you gotta stick the legs down to the base, no crazy surprise there. After that I'll generally attach the torsos to the models, generally alternating between having them 'straight on' with the hips, canted around to the right about 45 degrees or canted around to the left about 45 degrees. In general real life movement, one's torso doesn't usually twist much farther than this, and when the models are turned much farther than that, the miniature starts to look a bit 'off'. Once the torsos are firmly attached, I'll note the position of the feet, and imagine an angle drawn between the points of the toes (#2 above) as that will act as a bit of a reference guide for the next steps.

On many models carrying a rifle, it's held across the chest in a fairly predictable position, and the torso twist applied in the earlier step will inform where the muzzle of the weapon ends up pointing. Where possible I try to lean towards torso/weapon positions such that the muzzle falls within the angle described by the feet in the previous step (#1 and 2 above), as that approximates a braced firing position. Models whose torso is canted around to the left will naturally have the muzzle of the weapon fall outside the angle of the feet (#3 above), but that's okay as we'll discuss in a moment. In order to get a model to point a rifle held across the chest all the way around to the right, the model's torso would have had to been twisted far beyond the 45 degree mark and would look anatomically inaccurate (so generally I don't ever end up with any built models that would look that way), but there are character models brandishing one-handed weapons that may 'break the rules'. In those cases, I try not to have the weapon pointing at a more than 90 degree angle from the line drawn through the opposing foot (#4), as that would mean the model would essentially be aiming behind it which can look rather awkward.

The last step is the head, positioning of which is very important. The main rule I follow here is that the angle of the feet is more important than the position of the weapon when deciding which way to point the head. Where the muzzle of the weapon weapon lies within the angle of the feet, I tend to have the model's head sighting down the weapon, as that results in a natural-looking firing position (#1 and 2 above). When the muzzle of the weapon points outside the angle of the feet, the head should STILL face somewhere within the angle of the feet (#3 above), as that results in a model that appears to be advancing with his weapon held at the ready prior to assuming a firing stance. The exception applies for characters with one-handed weapons, and in those cases the head may be canted a little further around to sight down the outstretched barrel, but I stick with the 90 degree angle from the opposing foot rule here as well.

Bashaws Lon and Shah here are examples of the one-hander rules. In these cases I dry-fit the arms onto the torsos first before gluing the torsos to the legs, to ensure that the weapons positioning wouldn't violate 'the rules'. Lon's sword and pistol ended up lining up nicely with his feet, and as his sword is the obvious direction of interest, his head was aligned to sight down the blade. Shah on the other hand sights down the barrel of his pistol which is just shy of a 90 degree angle from the torso. Canting the torso around such that the weapon falls within the angle of the advancing feet meant that it would have violated the 45 degree twist rule, so that means instead his head must point outside the angle of the feet in order to align with the pistol, but by keeping it to within the 90 degree angle from his right foot it still looks like a natural pose as no single element of the body is twisted around farther than would be natural.

Not sure if that explanation makes a lot of sense, but happy to answer any questions about the method!


  1. Wow, you do put a lot of thinking in your figure building!
    Actually this system you use is quite interesting and you've explained it quite clearly, I will definitely take notes of it.
    I try to keep positions natural but I don't have a defined system, I usually just dry-fit everything with blu-tac and glue it progressively, checking everything is in place and looks fine (and some parts don't get glued definitely until I've painted the miniature).
    Great post, and the squad looks neat!

  2. They do look good. I've not read 'Legion' but you're piquing my interest.

  3. Looking good, only thing I would disagree with is the head position on 3, while I think it works for advancing figures, static figures do work with the heads facing down the barrels, outside the 90 degree arc, giving the effect of taking aim.

  4. Is the sergeant in the middle a RT-era model? The guardsmen look awesome and very creative.

  5. Nice post showing a well thought out method. Cheers for making it.

    Looking forward to seeing the Dancers come to life as well.

  6. @Elzender: Thanks man! The build process is semi-automatic for me these days, just wanted to jot down the basic through process that I go through. Glad it may be of use!

    @Zzzzzz: It's my second favorite of the Heresy novels. I actually quite recommend checking out the audiobook version, the narrator does a phenomenal job of it!

    @Steven Burden: Oh aye, they're just guidelines that I go with - there's definitely room for 'going outside the norm' depending on how the bits call out to ya...

    @Jakub Furlanetto: Nicely spotted! Aye, that'll end up being the model for Peto Soneka - as the Hetmen are described as not being drawn from the uterine stock of the Five-Two's line troops, the slightly smaller scale of the old RT model I think will work nicely!

    @Col. Ackland: Thanks very much, man!

    @Rory Priest: Cheers man! They've been a blast to work on so far!

    Thanks for the kind words, everyone!

  7. I never even thought o go through posing up my units like this. Makes loads of sense - I think I'll be bookmarking this post for future reference.

  8. Great article Mordian, the explanation on facing and natural body angles made so much sense. I usually just plopped them on there until the 'looked good' but having some science behind it will really help.

    The victorian lamb parts look great!