The Art of War: Cha-cha-changes!

Hey there and welcome to this week's installment of The Art of War! This week we'll be touching on something a bit more esoteric: the dos and don'ts of conversions. At some point, we've all had an idea that we want to express in model form for our various armies. Whether it be changing the pose or weapon loadout of a model, we've all done something to our armies that make them "ours" and give that feeling of customization and a personal touch. It's entirely up to you what you decide to do with your army, but there are really some "dos" and "don'ts" of conversions that you should keep in mind when making that next masterpiece.

Rule # 1: Don't bite off more than you can chew. One would think this is common sense for most of us, and it really is, but sometimes we get a little carried away and the kid in us takes over. The first thing you should think to yourself when starting a conversion is "is this realistically within my skill to accomplish?" It's at this point you should take a step back and really reflect on what you feel you can do as a hobbyist and are you willing to put in the work required to make it look good?

More often than not, a lot of conversions fail in the initial concept stages where you're dreaming up what you want to do. Sometimes people go for it and, unfortunately, it just doesn't turn out quite right. I've had that happen my fair share of times, especially if it's the first time trying out a technique. That leads us to our second rule,

Rule #2: Sometimes, less is more. Think back to all of the amazing armies you've seen at the tournaments you've gone to and the White Dwarves you've read that are just full of conversions. How many of them are really over the top? Not a lot. The first few that come to mind are the beautiful Godzilla-themed Ork army I see every time I go up to Sacramento to play 40k with the crew up there. Tons of conversions everywhere, but nothing too crazy.

Then there's the Monty Python and The Holy Grail-themed army from waaaaay back in the day. Again, tons of little conversions here and there, but it was mostly the paint jobs that sold it. Lastly, there's the cybernetic Tyranids I saw when I went to Austin last year. Lots of conversions everywhere, but everything still felt "Tyranid-y" (yes, I made that word up and yes, it works).

This just goes back to one of the principle elements of design: KISS or Keep It Simple, Stupid. Think about some of the worst conversions you've seen: Weapons glued onto arms and shoulders with no mountings or any real cohesive idea going into the model, random bits and skulls that were supposed to make it look "cool" but instead make it look trashy. This brings me to rule numero tres;

Rule #3: Find a concept and stick with it. If you're going to convert up some Berzerkers to look more savage and feral, what would you do? Maybe grab some bits from the WFB Chaos line and incorporate those into your 'zerkers? When you convert something, you should keep in mind how it ties to the rest of your army. Will it stand out as something that just doesn't belong or does it make sense in the theme you're going with?

If your concept is making an "air cavalry" Catachan army, what should you look at for inspiration? What should your theme be? You like your Stallone wannabes and maybe wanna put them in attack choppers because you also love Apocalypse Now? Think about your concept like that before you do it and make sure it makes sense across your army, not just the one unit.

When it comes down to it, this is a very opinionated topic. Some people feel that the Dreadnought with the dragon bits glued all over it looks cool with their Salamanders army, and that's fine by them. Unfortunately, to a lot of us, that looks tacky and over-done. Don't put dragon wings on your Chaplain when a simple Corsair cloak would do to tie him in with your army.

In the immortal words of Dennis Miller: Of course that's my opinion. I could be wrong.

Anyways, until next week, keep those brushes clean!


PS: For some inspiration (and "un"-inspiration), feel free to check out these pics below (courtesy of the Eternity of War forums):