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Armorcast's Chaos Totem

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seankreynolds writes:

You might be right! Did you enjoy painting yours?

Very much so! It's one of those pieces where you're finding something new on it every time you turn it around, so it takes a while, but the end result is very visually impressive. :)

Revision Log
10 May 2010page first published

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I've been toying with the idea of starting a Beastmen army, and thought I'd start off with something inspirational to build my army around - a Chaos totem!

Chaos Totem

This particular model was donated by Armorcast. Unfortunately, it's not listed in their current online catalog (or maybe I just didn't see it!), but hopefully it will reappear soon as I found it a fun project.

Chaos Totem size comparison (28mm figure)

The totem stands 155mm tall, and is cast in a cream-colored resin. I noticed no casting imperfections. I did a little file work to minimize the mold seams - you can still see them in spots, but only if you scrutinize the model closely.

My strategy for painting this totem was to prime black, then work my way up from the bottom. That approach is actually what made this project so much fun - since as you progress up the totem, you keep coming upon new textures and new entities to paint.

Giant Skull

The totem begins with the top of a giant skull emerging from the earth. I wish I could tell you that I applied a simple but elegant scheme to painting the skull, but the truth is that I tried a number of approaches, painted over them when they didn't pan out, and kept trying until somehow I got the "right" look. I think I tried painting it up from tones of dark brown to white (fail); I tried washes of black ink (fail - too stark); and just kept trying different washes or highlights.

Giant Skull (back)

Emerging from the broken top of the giant skull is a shaft composed of various sections with the textures of flesh, scales, and something melting. Embedded in the shaft are screaming mouths, bits of skull and bone, eyeballs, and protruding horns. Crawling on top of this are worms and insects.


I make no claim to have achieved artistic perfection, but just had fun painting along as the inspiration took me. With the majority of the colors being red (flesh), off-white (bone) and light brown (horns), I tried to insert brighter colors for some of the bugs and worms to provide variety (and to make them stand out), which is certainly "chaotic" but not necessarily evil or scary...

Top of the Totem

I chose to seal the model with a coat of clear satin finish, which is not my normal technique, but I felt the eyeballs needed some shine - plus I wanted the added protection, as I suspected this model would get more handling than the ordinary model.

Chaos Totem

Someday I might choose to add a scenic base to the totem, but for now I'm happy with it as it is. The weight of the giant skull makes the model surprisingly steady despite its height.

Now, to organize the first unit of my Beastmen!