Wiffles From the Warp

Last month, Ron over at From the Warp, came up with a brilliant idea on how to make a Dark Eldar webway portal.  Wow, was that really a month ago?  Anyway, I believe he was inspired by Mr. Esty over at Enter the Nurgling.  (On another side note, I’m certain that his name is supposed to be some sort of pun, but I can’t for the life of me figure out just what it means).

Back to the wiffle ball.

So, Ron comes up with this fantabulous idea as to how to make a suitable Dark Eldar webway portal.  Now, I’ve toyed with the idea of using my Eldar Exodites as both normal Eldar and Dark Eldar stand-ins, so a webway portal isn’t completely out of the question, but truth be told, I don’t expect them to be taking the field any time soon.  What I really was interested in was using this as a makeshift vortex grenade template.

For those that don’t recall, back when Apocalypse was released, GW manufactured something called a vortex grenade.  If you’re wondering what it looked like, picture the new webway portal, but give it a blue tint.

So, with that in mind, I went shopping in the sports aisle of the local K-Mart… on a mission. (Ok, that’s a lie, we don’t have a local K-Mart here anymore.  Truth be told, I was on vacation, and hit the store in Kahului).  Anywho, I found a three-pack there for $5.  I’m sure I could’ve found them cheaper at a discount store, but I figure I could shell out a few bucks for a template or two (especially considering the ebay mark-up on these things is going for $30-40 easy.  Hell, here’s one that went for $51!!

So I started following Ron’s tutorial, and figured I’d put my own spin on things.  Surely there must’ve been something I could improve upon on his process, right?


Well, suffice it to say, his process worked perfectly.  I originally thought that sand-paper to remove the writing on the ball would be better, but that left the surface covered in scratches–which I had to buff out using a dremel.  So, I tried his suggestion of removing the words with a sharp X-Acto knife and it worked like a charm.

Then, I contemplated using a handsaw to cut the ball in half, but after the fiasco with the sand-paper, I stuck with the knife (which, again, worked swimmingly).  My only suggestion here is to cut a shallow guide the first time around, and then use that to cut the rest of the way through.

My newly purchased sand-paper did come in handy though, for cleaning the edges of the ball after it had be cut in half.  I just placed the rough side down and scrubbed in a circular pattern until it was smooth.  I guess there is a little something I can add to his tutorial after all!


When it came to painting, again, Ron’s steps were spot on.  I followed his directions for the most part, and then deviated slightly on each template.

Attempt #1: The Night Sky

The first template started off per the original article. I basecoated it black, and then added light coats of increasing lighter shades of blue (truth be told, the paint came out so thin, that a single shade of blue probably would’ve been just as subtle).  Once I was happy, I went back and sprayed around the base black (per Ron’s suggestion).  To top it off, I held the can high of white spray-paint above three feet above the globe, parallel to the floor.  Doing so, clogged up the nozzle a bit, and made the paint come out in spurts, thereby achieving the speckled effect.

I was pleased with the result, and figured it looked like the night sky.  From here, I didn’t really want to muck it up too much, but I did opt to put a shooting star on it.  In hindsight, I need to work on my free-hand a bit.  Though I’m happy with the trail, the head of the star certainly leaves room for improvement.

Attempt #2: Stippling

The second ball I went a completely different route.  First of all, when I chose my spray colors, I went with black and green.  The problem I had here was that I only own one shade of green spray paint, which is roughly equivalent to Dark Angels Green.  I tried dusting the top with white primer, and hoped that the difference in the undercoat would be sufficient enough to vary the colors on the grenade, but it was no use.  So, what I opted to do was to repaint the top white, and then duplicate the speckling effect, very heavily this time, with the dark green paint.  The result was that I had a green globe with significant patches of white on it.

I then took Jade Green paint and stippled it across the white parts.  Stippling is the art of applying paint by pressing small dots onto the target.  I achieved this by using a dry brush and instead of painting it on, I dabbed the end of the brush (as if stabbing it with a fork).  After applying it in various patches, I went back with water and blended them together a bit.

Not completely happy with the end result, I applied some watered down washes of Green Ink to the whole piece, and was immediately pleased with the effect.  To finish it up, I flecked some watered-down Skull White onto the globe with a toothbrush.

I finished the effect by applying some watered down Chaos Black around the edge of the base to give it that stark contrast.  In hindsight, this was a mistake.  I should’ve gone back down to the garage and hit the edges again with black spray-paint for a nice subtle fade.  Oh well, win some, lose some.

Attempt #2: Lightning

The third attempt was a mock-up of Ron’s.  Again, I basecoated it black, and added varying shades of blue, with white speckles (per the first globe).

This time, when it came to painting it by hand, I went with the same lightning effect in the original article–the only thing I changed was the colors: creating the original bolts in Ice Blue, then shading parts of each bolt with a blue ink mixture, and highlighting each with Skull White.  After that was completed, I went back with the stippling technique used in attempt #2 above to create clouds (this time in Ice Blue).  I wasn’t happy with the result though, so I placed some heavy washes of Blue Ink over the top, which forced those clouds into the background.  It’s kind of funny that the little failure in the middle of the project turned into what I’d consider a great success in the end.  In my opinion, the subtle splotchy pattern in the background really adds to the effect.

So there, you have it.  To coat them, I used three coats of a Satin spray finish from Walmart that I had lying around.  Though I almost always use a Matt finish on my models, I wanted something that would be a little more glossy for these guys, to give them depth and catch your eye.  You’ll note that each picture of the globes includes two blinding white dots.  This is the result of having two light-sources when taking a picture of their shiny exterior.

Size Comparison to Small Blast Template

The only other concern I had when painting these up was their size.  Since I’ve never seen an official vortex grenade template (or a webway portal, for that matter–at least in real life), I don’t know how big they should be.  I’d assume though, that they should be based upon the small blast template.  I was wondering if a wiffle ball would be big enough.  Well, if you’re wondering the same thing, rest assured it’s just about perfect.  The picture at the right shows one of them on top of the official small blast template (note the green “base”).  I don’t think there could’ve been a better choice.

So, how much did I save?  Well, it was $5 for the package of wiffle balls and $1.79 for the sandpaper (the paints and hobby knife, I owned already).  We’ll round the grand total up to $7 even.

  • My cost for three vortex grenade templates: $2.33 each.
  • Estimated Ebay charge per vortex grenade: $35 each
  • Estimated savings over three balls: $98

Almost $100 in savings for really about an hour of work (though I did manage to stretch it into an entire evening while watching a football game).  What a tremendous amount of savings.  I highly encourage anyone else that’s considering this to take a leap… you’ll be pleased with the results.

Thanks Ron!


7 comments on “Wiffles From the Warp

  1. Wow. They look amazing, far more than just fit for purpose. They really bring the 40K context to the table. And not only spectacular end results, but a write-up that adds to the work of the others.

      • I made something similar. Check out a craft store. THey have clear plastic balls that come in two halves. All you have to do is aint the inside in reverse. Paint all you lightnign bolts and then some splotches of other color then coat teh entire inside with a layer of black. Its almost too easy. I think the balls are less then $3 too.

      • Well, I’m pretty well squared away, as I doubt I’ll ever need more
        than three vortex grenades, but I’m sure other people will appreciate
        the help. I’d like to see your finished product though–any chance
        you have pics posted on your blog?

  2. That lightning one looks incredible… Makes me want to convert one for a ‘counts-as’ Mycetic Spore, saying fluff-wise that the Hive fleet is warping stuff in, and the 6″ range shooting weapon/melee attacks are just lightning firing out from it to anything that ventures too close. Incredibly professional finish.

    • That’s a fantastically clever idea. I’d never considered something like
      that–it works perfectly on so many levels: especially why the “lightning”
      attacks are non-discriminate, hitting anything that’s close.

      It would be spectacular if you somehow incorporated that into a greater
      theme for your army, as well. I’m not exactly sure how, but perhaps if you
      modeled your Tervigons to be rift-masters or something. That could explain
      how they “spawn” so many termagants…

  3. Pingback: BatRep (Planet Strike): Word Bearers vs. Ultramarines 2000pts | Warhammer 39,9999

Have something to add?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.