Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year from PVP!

Happy New Year!

Mulder seems to have started partying early but from the rest of us here at Chez Pirate Viking Painting we wish you a safe, prosperous and above all else happy 2012. Don't listen to the doom prophets, 2012 isn't the end of the world, it's the end of an AGE of the world. Here's hoping the next one is enlightened and kinda chilled out. See you in the new year folks. Peace, out.


Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Oh the humanity! (FoPVP)

To tide you over 'till the new year I am throwing open the archives of Friends of Pirate Viking Painting. This time we are taking a look at the human residents of the 41st millenium rather than the post-human Astartes.

First for consideration is this Colonel "Iron Hand" Straken, painted by Jen Truby. The red has been well used on this figure, most of the colour scheme is fairly cool and the warm red flows nicely down the figure. The polished metalwork also looks lovely against his aging flesh.

In the same style is this Gunnery Sergeant Harker, also by Jen. I much prefer this scheme to the official studio scheme which is horribly garish.

Fighting for the opposition is this Forgeworld Chaos Renegade Psyker, frankly, he is not having a good day. The subtle urban basing works really well on this figure.

Moving on to Maisey's Imperial Guard, this Lord Commissar is one of those models that is a lot of fun to work with. The clean white works so well against the deep, almost plummy red. The little freehand aquillas lift the cloak to a more sumptous look in keeping with such a high ranking Imperial servant.

Likewise, his Officer of the Fleet spotter reeks of privilage and rank. The deep blue works well with the clean white and I love the shiny glossed boots!

Finally, we take a look at one of my favourite Imperial Guard figures. This commissar, inspiring Maisey's Redshirts Regiment, is a lovely understated job. The military colouring gives it such a different feel to the traditional black and red.

Thats all folks, see you in the new year.


Sunday, 25 December 2011

Cthulhu Investigators: A Christmas Commission

Well, a very happy christmas to you all and a topical post for this boxing day. I was commissioned back in the Autumn to create models to represent a good friend of mine's roleplaying group. The characters they wanted to portray were all from the game Call of Cthulhu and thus needed a 1920's theme to work off.

Finding models turned out to be easier than I had anticipated. There is a fairly large interwar era (pulp) following, mostly from the gangster prohibition era in the states and from the high adventure of Indiana Jones and the like. Most of the figures came from Copplestone Castings with Hasslefree and Black Cat Bases also supplying things. As usual with this sort of commission it is essential to match the model to the client brief as accurately as possible. Also as usual the degree of detail in the descriptions of the client's characters was variable to say the least. Some supplied three sentences, one provided almost a page. For future reference. It is always, always easier to get what is in your head on the miniature if I have it written down! Lets take a closer look at these fine and adventurous fellows starting at the left with Detective Nick Cord:

Nick started life as one of copplestone casting's Hired Hitmen he's the fella in the grey suit in the linked image. The brief was for an American Detective seconded to Britain with a .38 snub nose and a taste for flamboyant suits. The model however has a colt 1911 and a stick of dynamite. This had to change! I took one of the varient hands from the Lucas Morgan figure (see below) which happened to have a small calibre revolver and just performed a fast hand transplant. The dynamite was more problomatic but in a flash of inspiration I realised it could be a flashlight with minimal sculpting. A half hour with some ProCreate (my new favourite sculpting putty, move over green stuff) and the model was ready for painting.

After perusing the web for a fair while looking at many awful suits (slap the term "1920 loud suit" into google and see what I mean) I found this little gem from a screenshot of Boardwalk Empire. Seemed understated enough to work on a miniature whilst being just American enough to work. Painting started with the suit recieving a smooth coat of Necron Abyss, a couple of thin layers of Badab Black shaded the suit and darkened the blue down to the almost black I needed. Thin lines of Vermin Brown created the pattern. Trouble was it was almost invisible and with the waistcoat in the same colours it was too much pattern on the model. Painting the waistcoat solid Vermin Brown solved both problems as it brought out the brown stripe in the suit and toned down the look. Matching the hatband and tie to the coat also helped to create the look of a man with a flash dress sense. Something was missing though, he didn't quite look American enough. Then I remembered the fashion for blue shirts with white cuffs and collars. Painting the shirt body blue just did something quick and indefinable that now screamed "I'm a Yank". By contrast, Lucas Morgan needed to be very British:

Lucas Morgan is a journalist, the somewhat sparse directions ;) gave me a thin faced man in a raincoat with a large satchel for chemistry set. He started out life as a Hasslefree Profesor Beattie. The choice of hands gave one with a wonderful pipe which I just couldn't bear not to use. He looks quite casual in that pose and I figured his Mauser could be secreted in that pocket of his. To avoid the lab coat look I added some buttons from small ball bearings and then used procreate ot build a satchel with plasticard strap and fixing. Now that I look at it there are some things I would have done differently with the strap but he turned out ok.

Painting him was simplicity itself. A tan raincoat with dark grey shoes and a leather satchel. Nothing much to report on that front! You'll notice that I have based all of these fine fellows on Black Cat Bases Victorian Street base inserts on Privateer Press style bases. I love these for display models as they just give that "finished" feel. The bases have all been basecoated in Vallejo Saddle Brown and then individual bricks picked out in darker and lighter shades of the base colours. A light drybrush with Bleached Bone and a  Graveyard Earth wash into the gaps finishes the look of a brick street nicely.

Next on the list was Templeton Jones, an Indiana Jones look-alike with a rucksack and a wand instead of a whip. Jewelled rings are on each hand. Fortunately for me Mr Copplestone came through again with an Indiana Jones look-alike of his very own from the American Adventurers pack. The whip was removed and replaced with a wire pin. putty was added to thicken the wand and ordinary sewing thread wound around the result and secured/sealed with superglue to create a spiraling decoration. The backpack was again plasticard straps (cut to fit under the lapels on the left) with a ProCreate bag. More thread and a tiny ball bearing finished the closure.

For painting, the client had specified earth tones so this with the Indiana Jones imagery made painting a breeze! I'm particularly happy with the leather coat (painted with Vallejo Leather Brown, highlighted and scuffed by adding Bleached Bone and then shaded with Devlan Mud) and the 5 O'Clock shadow created in the same way as the giant from a few weeks ago. Now this seemed like a fair amount of conversion work but this was nothing compared to what came next. Enter Uber Volter:

The client's brief was for a model with the feel of Brendon Fraser in the Mummy films but with a sword cane and a Broom-handled Mauser and another rucksack. Scanning the web again I found the answer once more in Copplestone Castings. The Armed Archaeologists pack had a wonderful Brendon look-alike. Just two problems, no Broom-handled Mauser and an arm in completely the wrong position for a sword cane. I resolved to try my hand at sculpting to fix the second problem and figured it would be no problem to source a Mauser (a hollow laugh)... The sculpting went much, much better than I had ever expected it to giving me an enourmous confidence boost for future projects. I now intend to build up my sculpting to see if I can get to the point where I can do whole models. How cool would that be? The Mauser however was a disaster, there were none to be had on sprues, I couldn't build a convincing one and I had run out the model buying budget to get a model with one on just to acquire the gun. I now have to send massive, massive props and thanks to Mark Copplestone. I contacted him asking him for advice and he promptly found a miscast model with a Mauser, lopped off the gun and sent it to me. This act of generosity has not gone unnoticed Mr. Copplestone and you can expect a LOT more business from me!

With the mauser in place I could now paint the model! Tan colours seemed the order of the day and Vallejo's military range once again did the business in giving me nice believable tones to create a wonderful real-world feel. Seriously folks, while they will never replace Citadel for the bright and strong tones their muted and desaturated lines for the military modelling are amazing. Check them out. I decided to add some manly arm hair to Mr Volter as he had the black hair to carry it off. This was just cross hatching with the black hair tone mixed with Tallarn Flesh. Looks great!

Finally as a present from me to the friend who had commissioned this lot I added a Black Cat Bases Deep One to the mix. A Deep One is a kind of demon from the Cthulhu Mythos universe and I figured it would be useful for a GM! Having it crawling up from the sewers seemed appropriate too! The painting started with a strong basecoat of Hawk Turquoise highlighted with Kommando Khaki and then this colour used on the underbelly and highlighted again. Washes of Blue, Green and Brown created a dappled effect and bright yellow eyes with freaky pupils gave it the otherworldly feel I was after.

Well, I really hope everyone enjoyed their PVP presents. We are still on holiday hiatus (this was written before Christmas see) and will be back and running from January 3rd. Until then, enjoy the festive season and remember to mix some hobby in with the binge eating and dubious Christmas specials.

A Happy and Prosperous New Year to all and all the best for 2012.


Thursday, 22 December 2011

Merry Christmas Everybody

Hurrah for Mulder in antlers and a funny nose!

Happy Halfway-Through-The-Dark folks! Make merry, light lights and bring goodwill to all. Pirate Viking Painting is going into our winter hibernation for a couple of weeks (lots of people say that Jeff has many bear-like qualities so we're going to curl him up in a cave and see what happens). We've got a scheduled update to go up on Boxing Day (that's the day after Christmas for our American readers, refers to the churches opening the Alms boxes and distributing charity) so hopefully that will go up as planned. We're back working full time from January 2nd so a Happy Hogmanay to all as well. Here's to an awesome 2012.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Blood Knights grow...

Time for another Blood Knights update! As I mentioned last time I am painting each Blood Knight individually as they are almost worthy of being character models. Today we add a champion and musician to the unit. A few things to note first of all: One: They don't have shields yet. I am going to do a whole session of shield painting to get a consistant look to them and then add the shields to the models whilst ranked up to ensure that they will not interfere. Secondly, they have very heavily modelled bases. The reason for this is that part of the brief was for rocky ground and a sense of dynamism within the unit. With this in mind I decided to take advantage of the Finecast's light weight and pose them in ways that would have been awfully difficult with metal.

Each has been clipped from their runners and positioned on the base with a bent paperclip attached to a pilot hole drilled into the hoof. The wire allowed me to control the height of the model as well as the position. I added green stuff rocks to cover the wire and then used cork pieces to continue the rocky theme. While positioning the models on their base I created a loose "flying V" formation with the champion at the centre of the classic cavalry charge arrowhead. As you can see from the side view I created a very dynamic look to the unit (so far). Lets get in to the new individual models.

The musician was painted identically to the first lancer so I shan't go over the basics again. The only point of difference is the instrument. Basecoated in Vallejo Brassy Brass and then highlighted twice with first a 1:4 mix of Mithril Silver and Brassy Brass and then a 1:2 mix of Mithril Silver and Brassy Brass. Finally a wash of Devlan Mud shaded the instrument.

The champion was a lot of fun. You can see from the side view how dynamic the model is and how impossible it would have been to achieve in metal! The basics were the same again so lets pick out the interesting details.

My favourite part of this model is the giant bat pelt on the shoulder. Basecoated in Khemri Brown, a couple of washes of Badab Black and then the face was highlighted with Khemri Brown mixed with increasing amounts of Tallarn Flesh and then re-glazed with Badab Black. I think I will go back and pick out the black eyes with gloss varnish though as they have rather vanished into all the shading.

The sword is massive, the hilt is painted in the same way as the musicians horn, the blade is not terribly well cast so I decided to give it a little interes with engraved detail painted in Mithril Silver.

The steed is more mutated than most of the Nightmares. The horns and sharp teeth added to the glowing eyes create a pretty disturbing beasty.

Finally a brand new technique. I wanted a pale inhuman pallor to the vampire flesh so after a little fiddling I came up with the following method: Basecoat with a couple of thin coats of Dheneb Stone to get a smooth basecoat. Shade the flesh with first thinned Leviathan Purple and then very thinned Devlan Mud. Finally rehighlight first with Dheneb Stone and then a couple of thin highlights of Dheneb Stone with increasing amounts of Skull White.

The remaining Knight and Standard Bearer are next, hopefully to be finished before I go on hiatus from Christmas Eve to New Years. The site will still be updated with delicious miniature eye candy as I have the secret Christmas project to showcase but I won't be working until early January. I figure that the Standard Bearer will take a session to paint the model and another to paint the banner. The client wants the Drakenhof Banner:

Image (c) Games Workshop, used for illustrative purposes only
 So I reckon that will take a session in and of itself. Time to break out the sharp pencils and the fine brushes. Always up for a challenge though. Until next time:


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

How to Batch-Paint Night Goblins

Its been a while since I did a full on tutorial so I figured I would turn my latest unit into one. People often comment on the speed of my painting output, whilst it is true that I paint quickly the main reason for this is batch painting techniques and discipline. Now I can't teach the second but I can show my methods for batch painting in the hopes that they help some people! So without further ado, let's learn how to paint this unit:

Obviously, first we clean the mold lines and prime them (black of course). First considerations when batch painting are to avoid any wasted steps. Think through the colour scheme and identify common stages - especially washes. For us, the first step is the robes as they are the largest part of the model.

To give a less unified appearance to the unit I have varied the initial basecoat. Note that I have laid out the unit in rows of the same colour and have seperated the command squad across the different colours to prevent them looking like a uniform. The colours used here are (in no particular order) Charadon Granite; German Grey; Dark Sea Green; German Camouflage Brown; Khemri Brown + Chaos Black; Dark Blue Grey.

While the robes finish drying I paint the other details that will need a black wash. First the leather - using Leather Brown...

Next the metalwork. A 50:50 mix of Tin Bitz and Boltgun Metal highlighted with Boltgun Metal.

Once fully dry, the first liberal wash of Badab Black is applied, this is enough for the other details but the robes needed a little more:

So a second wash of Badab Black is layered over the robes giving them a black tone but with the varied highlight tones.

Next step is to basecoat the skin, using Knarloc Green.

Then layered highlights of a 75:25 mix of Knarloc Green and Rotting Flesh.

And a sharp highlight on the edges and knuckles of the skin in 50:50 Knarloc Green and Rotting Flesh.

A wash of Thraka Green enlivens and shades the skin.

The next wash stage will be a brown so we need to do all of the stages that need a brown base, first the woodwork. A basecoat of Beige Brown is applied to all the wood.

Then all of the ropes and strings are basecoated in Khemri Brown.

Pseudo woodgrain is applied with Deck Tan. The woodgrain is as simple as streaks of the lighter tone. I made an additional effort on the standard pole and the musician's gong stand.

The woodwork and ropes are washed with Devlan Mud. While this is drying we paint some of the detail areas.

The Banner pole is first basecoated in Iyanden Darksun, I left the very edges in the bare metal to be turned into chips later. The next step is to give some shading with Gryphonne Sepia, once dry I then re-highlighted with Iyanden Darksun. Then I used Yellow Ink to glaze the banner to intensify the yellow. Then I used the Iyanden Darksun with a little Deck Tan (or Bleached Bone, Deck Tan was just wet on the pallete) added to edge all of the paintwork to give more of a chipped look. A final glaze of Yellow Ink toned down the highlights and bound the whole thing together. I did the same thing to the cowl of the champion.

The gong was basecoated in a couple of thin layers of Dwarf Bronze, then sequential highlights of first 75:25 Dwarf Bronze and Mithril Silver and then a thinner highlight of 50:50 Dwarf Bronze and Mithril Silver. A wash of Devlan Mud finishes the effect and provides definition.

A wash of Badab Black helped to define the mouths.

The fletchings of the bows were painted in Dheneb Stone (really should have been done before the Devlan Mud wash as they needed the wash to define them, doh! Live and learn).

The teeth are dotted in with Bleached Bone and the eyes with Blood Red.

Glue on the basing sand (I generally use PVA for large units or superglue for single characters)

Wait for the glue to dry, no really, wait and then wash the sand with really watered-down PVA to weld the particles down. If you have trouble with the sand leaving the base during painting try this trick. Dynamite won't shift it after this. [Disclaimer: yeah, dynamite would probably shift it...]

I basecoated the sand with Khemri Brown. Khemri is really my go to colour when basing, it blends with desert as easily as grasslands and doesn't even look too bad on urban terrain.

Pick out the larger stones with Charadon Granite. This really helps to create a believable groundwork.

Drybrush the sand and rocks with Dheneb Stone. This creates a kind of flinty feel on the stones.


While basing the models also base the movement tray in exactly the same way as the miniature bases. You could leave the tray part grey but it looks a bit better in Khemri Brown when the goblins start to die. And they will. They're, y'know, goblins...

Finally I add patches of my grass mix to the bases and the unit is done!

I hope this quick insight into how I paint has illuminated you on the benefits of batch painting. Any questions or comments can be put in the comments section below, cunning huh?