Wednesday, 29 December 2010

A Christmas Zagstruck

Alternate Title: What I did on my holidays...

For christmas I received from our lovely housemates that terror of the skies: Boss Zagstruck!

I have warned my housemates that this will have earned the ire of all my opponants. Being the sort of big kid who likes to play with all his new toys on Boxing Day I stuck him together straight away and broke out the paints. I decided to use this as an opportunity to paint Ork skin as well as I possibly could, as the face would need to stand out from a very busy model. See what you think:

The method is involved and I wasn't taking notes or anything but here is the rough process. A basecoat of a couple of thin layers of Knarloc Green is washed with a shading wash of 2:1 mix Badab Black and Thraka Green. I then started highlighting, first with pure Knarloc Green and then with increasing amounts of Rotting Flesh added to the mix. Overall I think I went through about six small iterations of increasing rotting flesh until I was at roughly a 3:2 mix of Rotting Flesh and Knarloc Green. I then glazed the skin with Thraka Green and once dry re-highlighted the highest points with the brightest Rotting Flesh/Knarloc Green mix. That's about ten layers to achieve the effect, well worth it I think!

This image showcases both the musculature of the arm and my favourite part of this model, his "sword". Just to start with it is just such a brutal design. Then there is that cute little rocket. Should the Boss feel that he needs to hit that little bit harder he just thumbs that red button and a rocket assisted strike is his! It is just such an Ork design. You can imagine the mek's thought process "So 'e wants ta 'it 'arder... duzzn't want a noo arm... 'e's cuvvered in rokkits... why not add annuvver..." so very charming.

The model really is a monstrous chunk of white metal. That base is 40mm across for those with rulers handy. The enourmous rocket pack on his back created a challenge for colour balance. If I wanted the usual camoflague that I use on the Blood Axes it would stand out too much and draw attention from the more significant parts of the model. Just pure rust didn't look right either, not enough definition. Instead I went to a mix of monotone shades, black for the majority, white teeth on the shark and grey shark face. This gave definition without distracting from the rest of the figure. A few red accents added interest and bound the rocket in with the rest of the model.

His pose is just wonderful, he looks so heavy, actually falling rather than hanging in mid air. Those vicious clawed legs of his I decided to leave rusted but sharpened the claws with tiny streaks of mithril silver to prevent them looking weathered blunt.

The checks on the knee and shoulders were done for largely the same reason as the rocket colour pallete. I needed something to add interest but whose colours would not overpower the skin which was the focus of the model. Checks always look great on Orks anyway.

Finally, his base is a fantastic design, it is hard to see with all the additional groundwork but the large white metal scenic section in the middle balances all that weight above it and provides a huge contact area for the superglue to bind to. The painting of the base was a fun exercise in painting adjacent rust sections. The broken piping is done with "scenic" Jeff-rust, mixing the final Boltgun Metal step with the Macharius Solar Orange to blunt the brightness. A heavy wash of Devlan Mud between the componants finished the delination between claw and pipe that may have been lost had I simply painted the same scheme twice.

So, that is what I did with my holidays! Back to work now, there's more Death Korps a comin' and some Warhammer commissions in the post. Posts up when I have funky images for you all. Have a happy new year one and all.


Saturday, 25 December 2010

Gnome's gone Rogue

Well, I think it is late enough in the day to post this! This was a christmas present commission for a client's wife - representing her D&D gnome rogue. The base model was a Reaper Miniatures "Cassie; Gnome Wizard" as after a long search this was the model closest to her image for the character:

There were going to have to be some significant changes made to the base model to make it appropriate. The staff had to go, a shortsword and crossbow needed to make an appearance but the rest of the model was just great! I figured just pull a spare crossbow from the bits box, repurpose a sword and the job is a good un. Then she arrived. This model is tiny. Not regular tiny either, this is oh-my-gods-that-is-small tiny, just half an inch tall. Go grab a ruler and look at how big half an inch is. Go on, I'll wait... see what I mean? No weapons I owned were ever going to fit this petite little madam. Only one thing for it... scratch build a crossbow:

This is an intermediate stage, there is a lot of carving to go to achieve smoothness. You'll see later on what the finished effect was. The stock and shaft of the crossbow is the wizards staff, carved down and shaped to an appropriate look. The bow was a paperclip wire pin drilled right through the shaft and curved, you can see the end of the wire sticking out so you can get a sense of the scale. Green stuff was then used to bulk out the woodwork and give a suggestion of workings. The string is a single strand of picture hanging wire (very useful, very cheap, easy to work folks) tied and glued, then stretched into the 'v' to give a sense of tension. I though about adding a trigger block to hold the wire back but this would have been about a quarter of a millimeter across and I simply could not manage it!

Meanwhile - while the green stuff cured - I turned my attention to the rest of the model. I fiddled with the pose of the arm, pushing it down to give a more realistic pose for a blade. I had picked up an elven wizard dagger from Let the Dice Decide as this was the smallest, and most elegant, dagger I could remember. I intended to rework the fingers of the original hand but fortunately the two hands were roughly the same size. They are a little overscale (if she were human) but this is the limitation of sculpting in this scale. Anyhow, this gave me a free pass! I amputated the original hand and substituted the dagger in a nice badass low guard.

The small scale of the model meant that I felt that the base needed some presence to stand out amongst other miniatures. Fortunately - living in Wales - slate is everywhere, I grabbed a couple of chunks from the front garden and figured out which worked best for the size of the tag and pose. A blob of green stuff stuck her to her imposing rock and we were starting to get somewhere!

The crossbow, now dry and mostly smooth was fitted, problem two arrived. The only position that the crossbow arm would fit in was down. Both arms down created a very static, quite boring pose. Only one thing for it. Snap off the dagger hand, reposition the arm again (very carefully as the more times you bend metal componants the closer you get to the Uri Geller spoon snapping effect) and re-glue the hand in a more triumphant pose.

I now added some topsoil to the rock. This helps to give a feeling of permenance and size, soil collects on large boulders and over time grass grows. You need to pick your locations carefully - lots of reference material. But a very nice effect can be had fairly easily! A final tidy-up of the crossbow and she was ready for painting!

So there she is! The colour pallete was to fit the character's description, dark purple clothing, pink hair, dark leather. Annoyingly I am going to struggle to give my usual run down of colours as when I am painting a single character I rarely use a pure colour and frequently fiddle around with shades to blend smoothly. Often there will be eight to ten layers of shading and highlighting rather than the usual four or so. There is a reason we charge more for single characters! Instead I shall just wurble - technical term that - on about individual elements that I found interesting or fun.

I got a bit excited by details. Yes she has fingernails. Take another look at that ruler. The half inch was from floor to top of head, I might have run mad for a while. The skin is painted in the usual way (see the Book of Jeff on the right!) but with extra layers of mixed colours in between each stage.

The sword was painted following advice in the White Dwarf on painting elven swords, it gives a nice sense of reflection and the shape of the blade. Just use blended mixtures of metallic colours from Boltgun Metal all the way up to Mithril Silver. Let this be a lesson, there will always be something to learn. There is always a better painter than you and if there isn't then there will be someone who has a new angle that will refresh your style. You never ever stop learning.

A quick shot of her face, I did paint in pale blue irises but the camera kinda washed them out. I played with lipstick colours but they looked wrong against the pink hair. Too much modern on one fantasy figure so she got natural lips (tanned flesh). I can't say for sure what colours are in the hair as I highlighted up and shaded down at least twice over to get the colour I wanted but I was definately using warlock purple, skull white and mixed washes of baal red and leviathan purple. Beyond that I couldn't say!

I was really pleased with how the potion bottle came out. I painted it my usual glass tone of Fenris grey and black and then filled the middle section with orkhide shade highlighted with white. This gave a nice sense of a thick walled flask skull white catchlights along the curves and a hit of gloss varnish finished it off. It's tough to see in the photos but it is one of the things I am happiest with on the model!

I was delighted to discover that one of the little sculpted details on the original wizard were a ring of keys bound into her ponytail! This was a lovely little rogue-like touch and helped to make the transition of wizard to rogue that much more plausible!

Below is an overhead shot showing the groundwork. You can see how the little bit of soil and grass adds so much presence to the rock. Gives it a sense of weight. Were I building it into a larger base I would have added more soil around it to sink it into the ground and add more weight to the stone. A word on painting rocks. I really, really hate how the studio paints rocks. Brown earth with a stark grey rock sticking out of it. Look around your world. Do you ever see this? Ever? The soil is generally a similar - usually darker - shade of the rock. Why? Because the soil is made of the rocks! Weathered and broken down into finer and finer bits. The deeper browns come from organic matter added in. When painting rocks make them a similar colour to your soil. Use the same base shade. Just add a little grey as the highlight tones while keeping the soil in shades of brown. This gives a much more natural effect. Here endeth the rock rant.

Next is a nice close up of the finished crossbow, compare it with the unpainted shots earlier and you can see how much smoothing and carving went on. The paint job is my usual kemri brown highlighted with bone but with a chestnut ink glaze added over the top to give a varnished finish. This is a tip given to me by a fellow painter from Oxford called Charlie Brassley who is ace at detail work like this. Again with the always learning thing!

And that is about it, the final shot in this post is the answer to a question I have been asked many times, mostly by mothers of new painters. "How many paints does it take to paint a model?":

Lots. This was a very simple scheme and I used all these colours. Some I don't even remember using, they were clearly just for mixes to give that exact colour I was after. It is easier to paint well with the right tools and the right tools include paints. It is false economy to skimp on paints. You might not use all the colours often, but you will find yourself thanking your investment when you want that one perfect spot colour on a character model. I have every single paint in the citadel range including a bunch that they don't make anymore. It is still not enough, I am buying new shades from Vallejo to fill in blanks in the range or to provide difficult to mix colours - usually subtle military tones - that citadel don't have. Well, hope you enjoyed that, I have been sitting on these pictures for almost a month! The secret is out now! Louise, I hope you like your rogue, may all her dice roll 20's!


Thursday, 23 December 2010

Merry Christmas to all!

Just wanted to take a few minutes and thank you all for reading the blog and your feedback. Pirate Viking Painting is going from strength to strength and will have tons of new and exciting things for you all after the holiday hiatus. For now:

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Advanced paint chipping

Go to Part 1: Rusting a stompa

Following on from the article on rusting I will be talking about a beatifully effective technique for making a scoured paint effect. Basic technique for chipped paint over a Jeff-rust base is pretty simple, just paint the colour centrally leaving a jagged edge exposing the rust beneath:

Given that the simple technique is never going to make a full how to I decided to dive into one of the coolest weathering techniques out there and have a go at hairspray chipping. First, paint your model in Jeff-rust as shown in the first part of this article. For this tutorial I am using the dozer blade from the Ork Battlewagon. This is the perfect part to use this technique on, it isn't suitable for doing occasional scrapes and dings, the paint really needs to take abuse for this to look right!

Step two is a gloss varnish, happily this brings out the rich layered colours of the Jeff-rust for photography:

Next, once the varnish has COMPLETELY dried give the part a good coat of hairspray. Cheap stuff is ironically better for this as you are really using it as a water soluble fixative.

Once the hairspray has completely dried (give it about a cup of tea and an email check to dry) begin painting your designs on to the part. Notice that the white teeth have been treated as "simple weathering" with chips left and the rest of the part is painted as factory finish. A note on camo patterns. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Let either the studio or the army do the work for you. They have tried thousands of patterns and know what looks good. You don't need to spend six years figuring that out. Good artists borrow, great artists steal. Use slightly thicker paint than normal as you don't want to wash off the hairspray prematurely.

Once this layer has dried start attacking it with a citadel stippling brush - this really is the best tool for the job. It's no bloody use for stippling but for hairspray weathering it can't be beat! Scrape away at the layers of paint following the lines of where the damage will have occurred. Look at photo reference to get this right. Keep the strokes light but use thousands of them. There were a few places where I over enthusiastically scraped an edge right back to the undercoat. Using a light touch will also have benefits as we will see below. Note that the scratched areas will be gloss, this will look weird. Do not worry. We will be dulling this down next.

The finished effect, incredibly realistic even before I have dust washed and dirtied it. Once you have finished scraping and scratching hit the part with a coat of matt varnish. I use Testor's Dullcote as I haven't found a better spray varnish. Make sure you use thin layers in a warm, low humidity environment or you will ruin your paint work.

When I was talking about light strokes earlier you can see how the hazard lines on the side of the blade have worn away the black leaving the yellow beneath.

If you look at the leading two edges you can see that they are more metallic than the rest of the part. This is because I scoured it back down to the basecoat. Happily this was corrected with boltgun metal that just made it look like the rust had been scraped off too! I would heartily recommend a selective drybrushing of metal onto heavily used areas to replicate this effect as it looks great.

Oddly, while most paint effects look worse on camera than in real life this one looks better! You can see how the paint layers have realistically peeled and given a wonderful three dimensional effect.

Well, hope you all found that useful, questions, suggestions and thoughts in the comments box please!


Thursday, 9 December 2010

Still Alive!

I realised today that it has been a fair while since I last posted... anything really! This is because almost every project I have ongoing is in a half way stage and the finished comissions are christmas presents for various client's spouses, friends etc and are therefore deathly secret before christmas!

There should be part two of the rusting and paint chipping article before christmas until then I share with you all the greatest christmas ornament of all time:


How cool is that! My missus has authorised its presence on our tree so one will be winging its way to me shortly.


Sunday, 21 November 2010

On the Workbench: Ork Stompa - Rust Spotlight

Greetings to all and sundry. Well, the weekend is here and therefore my projects are on the workbench. Due to an impending trip to Nottingham to allow my Orks to kick ass and take names (so long as the names are not difficult to spell) on an epic scale; I needed to paint my Stompa. I thought I would take the opportunity to throw a spotlight on the Jeff-Rust technique I have mentioned many times in the past. What better canvas than the mighty Stompa for teaching rust technique on eh?

Dayum! That thing is all manner of huge! The Stompa has been primed (black believe it or not, the glare from the lights knocks it to grey).

The Stompa-Boss Isambork Kongdoom Brawnell; Chief Mek of Waargh Skumrender. Adding a tank commander like this helps to give scale to the model along with an appropriately Blood Axe character. The little DJ Grot is actually a spotter with cool WWII style microphone and headphones. Now for the painting. The first step is a rough basecoat of thinned Dark Flesh. This - as the photo below shows - does not have to be terribly neat. Mostly it is for the recesses and to provide a darker texture to the paint job.

Stage two starts with finding a seriously knackered large drybrush. Load this up with vermin brown, wipe off most of the excess and stipple the surface with vermin brown. This is a practice thing, knowing how much to put on and where is half the battle. Happily you cannot go too wrong with this method and it is really worth trying out.

Once stippled vermin brown you repeat the process with Macharius Solar Orange - see? A use for that paint that isn't slayer hair? - like all foundation paints MS Orange is very desaturated and won't jump out of the layered effect you have going on in the way Blazing Orange (that I used to use before foundation paints came along) does. Once you have stippled this you will have that "20,000 leagues under the sea" rusted to death look:

If you are doing scenery - an abandoned tank etc. - this is where you give it a wash. You want that decrepid look. We, however, want an unmaintained but functional asthetic. So we now add a metallic tone that will give weight to the model. Simply drybrush Boltgun Metal on over the surface of the tank. Make sure to use a very dry brush and work in a circular motion as this will pick up all of the edges and surface texture. This is where you control how rusty the rust will be. A heavy drybrush will make it look simply weathered. A light drybrush - like here - indicates more serious rust problems.

Now, I think we can all agree that the above shot is a tad shiny for Orks. At this point we throw on a wash of Badab Black. Make sure to avoid pooling (check out the lower line of the jaw to the right to see what that does if you don't catch it. Doh. Never mind, I'll fix it in the next part) by redistributing the wash to other regions.

To summerise I present the journey of the chainsaw blade from dark flesh model to rusted hulk:

In part two I will cover painting chipped paintwork and some thoughts on camouflage schemes. Hope this has been useful. If people like this style of post then please comment and it will spur me on to do more.


Go to part 2: Advanced Paint Chipping

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Death Korps first look

Greetings from a very, very soggy Cardiff and the first of what is going to be a quite, quite large project! The Death Korps of Krieg are some of my favourite miniatures so I am really keen with this latest commission, a whole army of them!

The brief was to fit in with an existing army of valhallan chaps. Now the first thing to say is that these have not photographed terribly well, I'm going to have another shot with some tweaked settings and will share results if they improve. It is often a problem of subtle schemes that there isn't a lot of contrast for the camera to catch. Ho hum. Anyway, here's a closer look at the scheme:

The main colour is Khemri Brown, shaded down with a Devlan Mud wash and then highlighted first with another layer of Khemri Brown and then a final edge highlight of Khemri Brown and Bleached Bone mix. This matched the existing Valhallan scheme - a kind of Soviet summer brown. Lots of the valhallans had olive drab greenish blankets and other cloths. To match this I decided to make the lining of the greatcoats and hence the cuffs and collars as well! A couple of thin layers of Catachan Green provided the base coat, this was then shaded down with a 3:1 mix of Thraka Green and Badab Black. Had I just used Thraka Green the effect would have lost its soldierly drab and become more vibrant. Any accents on the models (shoulder flashes on the epaulettes for example) are a much more vibrant Dark Angel Green, this will be much more evident on the officers. The green was then rehighlighted first with Catachan Green and then with a Catachan and Rotting Flesh mixture.

Pouches and webbing were all kept in the same colour as the greatcoat so as not to unbalance the colour scheme by adding too much leather. Speaking of which, the leather is a 2:1 mix of Scorched Brown and Chaos Black highlighted with Scorched Brown. While I had the brown-black mix I added some chips and dings to the armour plates and helmet. These were further chipped with chainmail to make deeper chips.

The gas mask of the model is a very prominant feature and holds the attention in the same way as the face should. In the past I have painted gas masks as modern rubberised versions but these figures have a much more "Great War" asthetic. Some research on the interwebs turned up predominantly canvas gas hoods and while the tan ones would have worked there is a particular greenish-bone colour that looked like it would leap out of the model. The mix is Dheneb Stone and Catachan Green with a mix of devlan mud and thraka green lightly washed over it. Note that this ties in to other posts I have written where I talk about the importance of tying a scheme together by using the same shade or highlight colours across a model. Here, the spot of catachan binds the mask to the lining and creates a more unified look. The lenses were base coated in Fenris Grey, "gemstone shaded" with a little black thrown in the mix and then flooded with badab black. This gives a nice convincing dark lens when gloss varnished.

The miniatures, by the way, are fantastic. The scupting is amazing - check out the hobnails on the chap above! - and the resin casting medium means that very fine details are cast. There are some problems of course. Distortions of the parts is common and can cause quite major issues like the bent lasgun barrels you see in the models above. I have tried using heat to straighten them but with the models already assembled I dare not apply too much heat to the affected part for fear of damaging others. Most of these models came to me assembled with basing material applied. Some are partially painted. This won't be a problem thankfully as the miracle of Fairy Power Spray is mine! This stuff strips paint off metal, plastic and resin without damaging any of them! Just squirt it on, leave it five minutes or so and brush off with a toothbrush. Simplicity itself, handily it also strips burnt on food off pans so fellas, this is a wargaming resource that your wife won't mind you buying as it will make it easier for you to wash up!

Now, as I said at the start, this is the start of quite a big project:

So I won't be posting every unit as I finish them (six identical lasgun posts would get kinda dull) so I will throw up posts on the Death Korps every time I hit something interesting, a new unit, an interesting effect etc. I am looking forward to turning this shot:

Into it's fully painted version! It'll look nine different flavours of awesome. The real candy for me though are the officer corps:

I love DKK officers, especially the commissars and creepy quartermaster so these are going to be an absolute treat. I'll try to get a method of shooting the models that shows up their true colours and subtlety and get them up on the blog soonest!