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!


Thursday, 11 November 2010

Emperor's Children the Second

As promised, here are the second - and final - batch of the Emperor's Children commission. I don't mind admitting that I found these hard. They really do not look good until they are finished and it is hard to keep the faith through the batch. But, finished they are and finding things tough is why people pay me money so here they are!

Now, I went through the process for painting these in the previous article, so I shan't belabour the point. Instead I shall talk about the things that are different:

Again I went with different patterns on each to create a chaotic effect but retaining a uniform appearance. The checks above have the unintended effect of showing some details about how I paint them! The harsh light from the camera actually penetrated the corrections! I usually start by painting a grid of black lines to form the squares. The hard part is keeping them regular and curving them over surfaces naturally. Then fill in alternate squares. It is almost impossible to make no mistakes so you then go over any squares that were the wrong size, shape or just untidy and cut in with the original colour. This is a hell of a lot easier if you are using white rather than a five stage pink but ho hum.

This cheery fellow is my favourite of the whole batch. He has replaced great swathes of skull and throat with mechanical apparatus to better sing Slaanesh's praises. This is one of the most disturbing aspects of Chaos for me. That people would willingly subject themselves to this sort of mutilation in praise of their evil deities. Shudder. I decided that a dead, bloodless pallor would be appropriate for the skin as it has been reflected back from the skull and replaced with all kinds of horrible stuff. I imagine a lot of blood vessels went too. The pallor starts from Tallarn Flesh with a Devlan Mud wash. I use Devlan on dead flesh and skins because it lacks that ruddy vitality of Ogryn Flesh. I then built up the highlights with increasing amounts of Fortress Grey added in to the Tallarn Flesh with a final dot of white for the finished highlights.

The runic designs are cribbed from a variety of chaos sources and some occult widgey-whoo (technical term that). It felt right for this guy to have devotional scriptures on him!. Once I had finished him he looked a bit too sterile and servitor-like with the pallor of the skin and the mechanical insertions. It needed a touch of horror to make it chaos-ey. Cue the addition of blood to the gaps and openings. It now appears that using the device splits all of the surgeries and adds agony to the praises to his god. [Ok now Jeff, your brain might be scaring the normal people, wrap it up]

So, another commission down and the fun of a whole commissioned army of Death Korps of Krieg ahead! Hurrah! I will be breaking up the DKK with other commissioned work and my own stuff so I don't go totally crazy but Imperial Guard will be the focus for a while!


Jumping on a Motivation Bandwagon

Hi folks!

An idea that has popped up that I really like is the 8th Edition Challenge:

The premise is that a group of people all pledge to create a new Warhammer army especially designed for the eighth edition. The support of the group keeps people going and provides advice. I had already decided to paint a High Elf army (Island of Blood has inspired me more than a little!). A few people of my acquaintance are having problems with motivation so I thought I would throw open invitations to any and all readers to join me in our 8th Edition Challenge. Essentially I am going to do a monthly update on my High Elf progress (above and beyond any how-to painting articles I might throw in!). I invite anyone who wants to get involved and doesn't necessarily have a blog of their own to post in the comments of these posts to join in!

So without further ado. Here is my plan, start off with a 2000 point army:

And gradually expand to the 3500 point monster you see below (btw: if anyone wants this Excel sheet just drop me an email, it autocalculates percentages):

As you can see, the army is built rather heavily around the Island of Blood figures as I just cannot stand the spearmen. I am sure they have redeeming features but their flaws just leap, screaming into my eyes. Instead I am using the glorious Sea Guard fairly heavily, especially with the inspired descision to release an upgrade sprue. The 3500 point army just includes everything I wanted to paint made into a coherent army. You don't have to do a big army like this. Just commit to doing SOMETHING. Resurrect an old army from the "get around to it" box, paint something you've always wanted to, just go for it. Post your lists in the comments and get painting! I'm going to try for about 20 models a month. Cavalry count for 2 models, characters count as 5, monsters/chariots/warmachines also as 5. (So the lord on griffon counts as 10 models, this is an insight into my pricing policy too folks!) This is a representation of the effort required for each model type.

Later today the Emperor's Children commission that I've been working on will be complete, photographed and blogged so watch this space!


Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Alpha Legion Rhino and so. many. scales...

"Yeah, of course I can paint dragon scales on the back of a rhino" I said. Ho ho ho. A hollow laughing. This turned out to be one of those projects that I am really, really happy with but had me tearing out great clods of hair figuring out. The brief was to paint an Alpha Legion rhino (using the lovely, lovely Forgeworld doors) and to add to the Legion paint scheme by painting scales along the top and down the back door. This sounded fairly straightforward. Turns out it is quite tricky to paint convincing scales, but more of that later. First lets look at the tank as a whole!

Alpha Legion colours are a dark blue and a turquoise-y green. The colours have been muted a little by the photography but you should still be able to see what I am on about. The blue was fairly straightforward, a basecoat of Necron Abyss highlighted with the addition of Enchanted Blue (not my usual blue highlight but I wanted a "warmer" blue than the usual grey-blue) and sequential drybrushing to pick up the edges. Then I shaded the whole tank with what the 1:35 modelling community call a "filter" essentially a wash glazed over the surface to alter the tone of the colour scheme and add shading. In this case I wanted to add a little hint of green to the blue in order to bind the blue and green areas visually. This was achieved with a 2:1 mix of Asurman Blue and Thraka Green washes carefully glazed over the blue avoiding any pooling.

Once this was dry I turned my attention to the green areas. The trick was making a blue-green that wasn't bright turquoise, Orkhide Shade and Hawk Turquoise came to my rescue (roughly a 3:2 mix). This was highlighted with the same shade mixed with a little bleached bone. Finally the area was given a filter of 1:1 mixed Asurman Blue and Thrake Green wash. While this all dried off I painted all the metallic areas in Jeff Rust (see the glossary - The Book of Jeff - for common methods I use). The icons of the Hydra on the doors and glacis plate were also painted with Orkhide shade. Try to do this if you want multiple discrete areas of colour on a model. Use the same base shades and just shade and highlight differently. It will tie the look of the model together and keep it from looking gaudy. The heads were highlighted with Goblin Green and shaded with Thraka Green. The tongues also had a thin glaze of Thraka Green, this prevented them from standing out from the green field too much.

It was now time for markings, the first was placed on the forward left quarter - as it looked a bit plain - and features an alternative Alpha Legion symbol. The Legion use a variety of markings to identify themselves to their various cults and insurgencies in order to obfuscate their presence. The chained 'A' is one such identifier and looks pretty spanky so that livened up the panel! For anyone who struggles with freehand painting and wants to replicate this: start with the cross bar chain, paint a dash followed by an equals sign followed by a dash etc: -=-=- with the dashes in between the equals bars. Then round off the edges of the equals signs. Finally paint a chevron on the top of the chain and extend the lines below. Thicken up the lines and add serifs as they look all kinds of fancy.

Now it got tricky. The main feature the client wanted was those scales. I'm really glad he did as they look ace and forced me to solve a problem I never knew I'd need! Initially I tried painting the scales on individually over the blue. That looked terrible. So I blanked out the area with Orkhide shade (see, that green again) and tried painting tessalated irregular scales (see the cape on Vulkan He'Estan). Turns out that works on a miniature in 3D sculpting but not in painting. So I blanked it out again and started laying out regular patterns of overlapping 'V' shapes. Too regular. It looked like a green tiled floor. Cue some growling and chewing of paintbrushes. Blank out again. This time a less regular pattern. Finally, it was looking right, but each scale looked too flat. I realised that I would have to individually highlight every, single, scale. That actually turned out to be a fairly quick job and I am so glad I did it as it made the paint job. Check out the results on the next two shots:

The colours are Base: Orkhide Shade; Outline: Orkhide and Black; Highlight: Orkhide, Knarloc and Gretchin Greens in a 2:1:1 ratio.

The irregularity is what gives it its natural feel. Precious little organic matter grows in a straight line so neither should this! I firmed up the line of the doors as they connect to prevent the model's details from disappearing under freehand painting. I also blended in the edges of the scales to the blue by stippling Necron Abyss along the edge of the pattern. This prevented the design from looking too "painted on" and sank it into the scheme of the rest of the tank. Finally I painted in all the bone sections and turned my attention to the tank commander:

A few things worth noting. The insides of tanks are generally painted a different colour to the outside. Use a fairly neutral colour and generally pale. This will add a nice touch of contrast to your paint scheme. Also, the cables running from the marine have all been painted differently. There is no real reason for this but it adds another touch of reality ("step 3: Attach green and yellow live cable to socket B..." etc). Finally I got on with some fun weathering - reasonably light, I see the Alpha Legion as professional soldiers who would care for their vehicles - using my usual methods to achieve a nice "in use" look. And there you have it! One finished Alpha Legion transport and my second post in two days. Looks like the mojo is back with a vengeance. Now then, on with those Emperor's Children and then a treat, a whole army of Death Korps of Krieg, I love those guys, glee!


Monday, 1 November 2010

Mojo Returns! Death Company and a Wizard!

Hello all, first, let me thank everyone who sent messages of support to my Grandfather. He really appreciated them. The good news is that he is out of the hospital and doing much better, this plus a weekend of fun and giggles has recovered my hobby mojo considerably. Last night I was able to finish off two "drying time" projects and I am deeply chuffed with how both of them turned out. For those unfamiliar with bulk painting strategies a "drying time" project is something you do during the times when the models you are working on need some time to let washes dry or glue on bases set etc. In order to prevent distraction setting in you work on another model. Keeps the discipline going. So, here are two drying projects: the first of the Death Company and the Island of Blood High Elf Mage.

Kicking off with the Death Company; given how fiddly they are and how few there are in the army I decided to paint them all as individual characters. The models are a hybrid of Sanguinary Guard legs and Death Company torsos. The other legs and torsos are combined to form the honour guard. The painting is reletively simple. The red, gold, bone and gems are all as per previous Blood Angel posts. The black armour is painted using my favoured method of mixing increasing amounts of Fenris Grey into black and then edge highlighting with pure Fenris. I like the blue/grey black highlights for armour, gives a natural progression. I tend to use Khemri Brown for cloth instead. When the highlighting is finished I paint in the metallic colours and then wash the whole thing in Badab Black to tone down the blue.

Unlike the gemstones on the normal Blood Angels (purple in hue) I painted the Death Company's gemstones red to increase the percentage of red on the model. Basecoat the gems in scab red, shade the top corner with a mix of scab red and black; then blend scab red and blood red sequentially across the gem. Highlight the bottom edge with first a blood red/blazing orange mix, then blazing orange and finally dwarf flesh. Yes, really dwarf flesh. Try it sometime. It is the perfect finishing colour for the gems and makes them look slightly different to the vomit brown highlighted red armour.

EDIT: Damnit, I have just noticed that I misspelled Forsaken on the model. Curses. Lesson to be learned there, check the damn spelling, even on simple words. Grrr.

I had an idea that when repainting their armour black that the Death Company rename themselves. Divorcing themselves from their former lives and accepting their doom. The name "forsaken" seemed appropriate, the scrappy style seemed appropriate given the frenzied thrashings of a marine in the grip of the Black Rage. Some servitor trying to hold him still to repaint a name suggested a shakey style!

Secondly we have the next part of Project Island of Blood: The mage. I cannot stress enough how brilliant this model is. I painted it in two parts; leaving the cloak detatched to allow me to get at all the little details. Keeping with the bone and red feel I decided to paint the majority of the model in bone but have the sash and cloak lining in red to make him stand out from the troops around him.

Speaking of the cloak lining, I wanted to paint a subtle design on the red. I was looking for abstract, repeating patterns. Eventually I hit on Japanese art. The High Elves have a slightly Japanese feel to them anyway and so I figured that it would work. Using a plum red would mean that it would only be obvious close-up, from futher away the cloth would just appear red. The design is a repeated cloud pattern comprised of triple arcs overlapping and forming a bank of cloud. If I had kept this going all the way up the cloak it would have been far too busy. So I broke the pattern and painted individual abstract clouds all the way up.

When you have a paint scheme like this, with similar colours in close proximity the areas of detail can blend together and make your painting look messy. To avoid this I used a technique called black lining to divide the seperate areas of detail into discrete colours. This is well illustrated in the photograph below, while the finished product looks crude in this high magnification take a look at the long shot above to see how crisp the effect makes areas of detail. The technique was also used around the face, hair and helmet to give deep shadows.


I was agonising over what colour to paint the ball of energy for some time. It needed to contrast or compliment the paint scheme so far. For a while I contemplated purple, green was a possibility but would have been too remeniscent of Skaven magic. Finally I settled on a light blue which would have the right High Elf feel, contrast the paint scheme and lift the model further from the rank and file soldiers around him. The blue started from a basecoat of Enchanted Blue over a layer of Necron Abyss. I highlighted it with increasing amounts of white until it was almost white, I then washed the area with Asurman Blue and re-highlighted the pale areas. I then washed the areas that I wanted lit by the magical energies with a very, very dilute Enchanted Blue and white mix. The same wash was finally applied to the basing, a highlight of a lighter blue finished off the lighting effects.

With the descision taken to paint the magic blue the colour of the crystal ball was easy. It needed to be blue as well to balance the colour scheme. Basecoated with Necron Abyss the ball was painted in stripes of Enchanted Blue and darker Necron Abyss (mixed with a little black). A couple of lighter highlights of Enchanted and White and a gloss varnish later and the crystal was finished.

Well, both of these models have been a lot of fun and I am really happy with the results. The mojo is back with a vengence and the commission work is back on track. Hope you all like them and as usual any questions or comments are welcome and actively solicited.