Skull Bus

Amongst all the ideas I had in mind for this year's Spanish Golden Demon I chose this one, since it allowed me to unite in one single project all the activities I like in the hobby and I don't usually do. Often times (too often) we just settle with painting minis and that's all. Those activities are planning and developing a scene with many figures, including both modeling and painting.

The first thing I did was cutting the base to the desired size. I didn't want a very big diorama and also there were the restrictions on sizes imposed by GW. So taking into account the scale of the figures and elements I wanted to place on the scene, I started with the most important element: the bus. As it is inspired by a real-life bus I used the Internet for research, I downloaded and printed reference images of school buses.. I chose a school bus since they are a very recurrent element in cinema and literature of post-apocalyptic future. There's always one somewhere in the scene! It is also perfect to create erosion effects.
The whole bus is built with balsa wood from different thickness. I didn't make any draft so the scale and size of the bus are done rule of thumb. I started with the wheels, which I stuck together with a steel wire, in order to make them resistant and be able to lay the weight of the bus on them. The wheels are from the GW Ork Battle Wagen, an endless sourceof pieces for this kind of projects. All the wood was covered with a acetate, to make the wood finish disappear and be able to paint the figure better. I completed the group with plastic molding of different shapes and thickness like the ones used for the architecture models. With those it is quite easy to build handrails, small pillars, and other features.
If you take a closer look, the only part of the bus that was done from scratch is curved. To do it, I used 1 mm balsa wood. With that thickness the wood is completely malleable and very useful for this purpose. I made a frame and stuck it there. Over the wood I glued the acetate covering. Some pieces come from other kits, other models or even toys I found in a hardware store.
Then I decided to prime the bus to see the whole structure better. It has a much more professional look after a coat of paint. The rest of elements in the diorama such as the gas pump, the roof structure and the sign are all built following the same premises and using the same materials.
When everything was ready I started the painting process. I wanted to make the erosion effects the main feature of the scene, so the painting was going to be very repetitive, but for the figure. With such a big diorama it was impossible to think about a general environment, mostly because of the lack of time, so I just painted each element as fast as I could. I started with the base, with the striking sign on it. I downloaded and printed a drive-in sign, which I liked not only for the design but also for the typography. I cut a brass sheet in a shape just like the design, primed it and then I traced the shapes and writing. Once the main elements were painted I started the erosion process and ended up airbrushing in all kinds of brown tones, which served me both to shadow and to simulate the effects of time and weather and integrate painted elements such as the arrow and writing.
The road is made from the same set of materials, just with a different set of colors. This just requires patience to make the worn out effect. This time I had to cover a larger area, I used an old brush with a more open bristle and I stippled the surface, turning the brush position to avoid making a regular pattern. For the terrain I used different tone pigments and some dry grass. The bus follows the same process, base layers and then highlights in saturated yellow to keep the bright color when we airbrush. In my opinion, it is better to have more saturation of color than not. We move then to weathering the area, do it how you are most comfortable,, by hand, with maskol, with lacquer salt system or whatever you prefer. Then we add shadow, in this case first with an orangey-brown -Bestial Brown, for example-, then with red brown -such as Scorched Brown- and last we add a tip of black. To make the composition a bit more complex we could use a turquoise tone to simulate rust in some joints.
Gretchin and Ork miniatures, as they come from plastic multicomponent kits, are great for being converted. They were perfect for this project, as I didn't have to turn to putty anything. Regarding the painting, I achieved quite good results in no time, so I was pretty happy. You need to take into account that in a diorama with 10 figures you cannot get into details as much as you would like to. One of the basic tips for finishing a project within its deadline is to have a good control of the time.
Making a planning and keeping it is a good resource to meet your deadlines and goals.
And all because Gretchins also need to go to school...

P.S. I have to note that for Games Workshop's commercial decisions, the jury decided it should not even pass the first cut, where you choose the five finalists that will compete for Demons. The explanation given is that in the Warhammer 40000 universe there are no school buses...