The following is a step-by-step guide to convert some of your plastic dwarf warriors into vault warden teams. All you need is super glue, plastic card (sheet styrene) 2mm and 1mm, and greenstuff. The stanrdard hobby tools are also required such as a hobby knife, a file, and some little experience!
Using some cardboard, cut the shape that you want. Take your time and make the cardboard version perfect because you will be using it as a template. Trace the cardboard shape onto some plasticard (sheet styrene). Use the 2mm thick plasticard for this, as it will make up the structure of the shield. Once traced, cut out the shapes with a sharp hobby knife. There are two plastic card shields in the picture because I am making two shields.
Using the template, cut out another shield, this time from 1mm thick plastic card. We will use this one to put the details onto the shield in the next step.
Draw the pattern onto the shield that you will use to bend it appropriately. Clearly I have deviated from the standard GW vault warden shield. Mine is based on an image of a dwarven shield in the The Lord of the Rings: The Art of The Fellowship of the Ring book, which is a great resource for any modeller of Middle-earth. Anyway, the lines I have draw are where I am goign to cut, not all the way through, just enough so that I can bend the shields so that they are slightly angled. If you were making the GW version you would cut two lines near the edges of the shield. My design is a bit more complex.
Time to cut along those lines you just finished drawing. Remember, don't cut all the way through. Once cut, bend the shield into the final position it will be. At this point I put some gap-filling, thick super glue in the cuts. Also, I cut strips off the side of the thin shield shape. These will be used as the metal braces at the side of the shield. I eyeballed the cuts, but feel free to measure and draw lines first.
Glue the thin plastic card pieces to the edges of the main shield piece. Using an already cured roll of greestuff, cut a number of thin disks. These will be the bolts holding the metal braces onto the shield. Glue the disks on with a tiny dab of super glue. Finally, fill the gaps in the shield with greenstuff and smooth it all out.
You are now ready to pick the figures that you want to use for vault wardens. I picked two warriors with shields. All I did was cut off the shield boss so that the vault warden shield would fit onto the hand. Feel free to add more extra bits, such as more chainmail, a grimhelm, or whatever you like!
It is time to paint the vault warden figs you picked. For these converted ones, it is best to paint them before attaching the shields because they are facing forward, unlike the official wardens, who sorta face sideways. Also, take a picture of them now because once the sheilds go on you will never see them again.
Once the dwarves are painted, it is time to paint the shields. Paint the back with a rim of metallics and wood grain in the center. The fronts, paint the rim metallic, and paint the center part with your favourite shield pattern!
Try to keep your shield designs the same for continuity... or not. Whatever works best with your armies. I like the continuity myself, and it gives the impression that this is an army and not just a band of mercenaries. So, at this point you are finished the shield bearers. Now it is time to put together your spear bearers.
Now it's time to make the dwarf pikes. There are two ways to make them: scratch built or carved from the plastic cave troll from the mines of moria set. Here I carved the troll hand off the pike from the mines of moria set, which was pretty straight forward. I also used some plastruct cylinders as the basis for a second, scratch built pike. The first step is to cut it to the right length and then carefully cut five or six sides off of it to make it the correct shape. The cuts won't be perfect, so expect long bouts of sanding.
Using the general shape of the pike as a guide, cut out a pike head from 2mm thick plastic card. Once cut, you will have to file the edges sharp. Don't worry too much about getting the exact correct shape, any details can be added with paint.
Now pick your favourite dwarf from the plastic sprue to carry your pikes. I decided on the two-hand axe over head pose for both figs. It is my least favourite fig, so it will be good to hide it behine those shields. Also, it is the only one that can point the pike forward, which I wanted for my pikes. First step is to cut off the axe. Also, cut out that little piece inbetween the hands.
Drill out the hands with a wide drill, but not as wide as the pikes. After the drilling is done, use your hobby knife to cut away the bits that keep the hand from opening. Once these are cut away, the hands should be able to open, which is exactly what we need to carefully work the pike through. Try to be careful not to break the hands, but if you do, just super glue them back into place. Either way, get the pike perfectly in place and glue them.
Glue the fig down to the base and now you are ready to paint!
Once the painting is done, you're done! Enjoy!