Friday, 18 June 2021

Spring of Scenery 2021 - Part 8: Alien hive spires

I found some nice models on Thingiverse for 3d printing Tyranid scenery which I thought might be useful as mysterious organic alien hive spires for a game.  Out of idle interest I had a look on ebay too and found someone selling prints of those exact models for a fairly good price. A day or two after I looked, the seller contacted me and offered a 5% discount offer so I ended up with 6 x "capillary towers" for £8.99.

They've been produced on an FDM printer which lays down a trail of molten plastic to build up the 3d structure.  As a result, they do have noticeable print lines but I applied a coat of white sandtex masonry paint mixed with filler which helped smooth out the surface without filling in much of the fine detail.  The bases received a coat of texture paint (burnt umber acrylic, PVA, readymix filler & fine sand) and then the whole lot were sprayed with black primer.

Capillary towers with 15mm EVA suits and life-sized toddler fingers for scale.

I asked for colour suggestions on the 15mm Sci Fi Facebook page and the general opinion seemed to be for a bone coloured carapace with a fleshy underside.  I'd originally been toying with the idea of old school Genestealer blue carapace with purple flesh.  While the blue didn't make it, I thought the purple could be worked in on the more squishy bits.

The carapace was painted with Vallejo khaki and the flesh in Vallejo dwarf flesh. A sepia wash was applied over the entire model, then the base colours re-applied as highlights.  Drybrushing doesn't work as well on something like this because it just enhances the 3d print lines, something you actually want to be minimising!  More highlights were carefully painted onto the bone (Vallejo bone with gradually increasing quantities of dead white added) and the flesh (Vallejo Elf flesh with increasing quantities of dead white added). I dug out my 25 year old bottle of GW purple ink from the "Expert paint set", thinned it with some Future floor polish and gave the fleshy bits a good coat, blending in a little extra purple around the edges.  This helped delineate the edge between the carapace and the flesh and the gloss Future gave a shiny finish to contrast with the very matt finish of the bony parts.

The finishing touch was to splash some PVA on the bases, sprinkle on flock and seal with PVA/matt varnish.

"Wow! What are these things?"

"I don't know, but lets go and have a really close look..."

 Now I just need a suitable scenario to use them for a game of Rogue Stars, or maybe to add a third party to an unsuspecting couple of players next time I run a Tomorrow's War game.


  1. Those turned out quite nice. I remember wanting 'capillary' towers a long time ago when I had GW nids myself. I may have to print some for my 15mm stuff...
    Warcolours is a company in...cyprus maybe, that has the old GW paints done in a 'nostalgic' paint line. I may reorder the inks myself as a few of them have gone pretty funky in the 3 decades or so that I've owned them.

    1. I think the Coat d'Arms paints are also the same as the old GW ones (only with more normal names), not sure if their "ink wash" is the same as the old GW inks though. I find Vallejo inks are just as good as my old GW ones.

  2. I've got some similar things myself and was wondering about colours- yours are extremely nice and I may just have to copy them!

    1. Will look forward to seeing the result!