Friday, 25 March 2011

Cygnar Cyclone

This is my first ever Warmachine figure! I'm starting a Cygnar army and thought I would roll the heavy metal off the production lines first:

It's a Cygnar Cyclone heavy warjack, it is in Privateer Press' odd plastic - closer to resin than normal plastic. Assembly is not overly problematic (although the usual superglue annoyances apply) I wound up pinning the arms as I didn't trust the joins too well. Now it is no secret that I am not fond of the style that Privateer use to paint their models. Its kinda nineties GW, lots of overly bright colours and clean armies. To say that this doesn't fit with my style is understating the issue a bit! I resolved to try and paint a recognisably "Cygnar" warjack but in my style.

I wanted a rich blue as a base and so brought up the colour from a basecoat of Regal Blue over Necron Abyss. Highlighting proceeded by gradually adding Enchanted Blue to Regal Blue until the colour was pure Enchanted Blue. Final highlights were added with Enchanted Blue and a spot of Space Wolves Grey. I used probably ten intermediate layers to get a smooth blend. Finally a Asurman Blue glaze bound the layers together and deepened the colour. I added chips and dings to the lower surfaces (that infantry can reach with swords and bayonettes) by first painting the chips in the final blue highlight, then in the centre of the bigger scratches I painted a Scorched Brown and Chaos Black mix. Finally I painted a tiny scratch of Boltgun Metal into the centre of the dark scratch. This gave a nice "deep" look to the scratches and dings. The face mask I wanted to paint as though lit by fires from within. The only way to do this is loads of highlighting up to yellow-white, shading back down to red with glazes and rehighlighting. Its a pain but it is the only way. Looks cool though.

The power plant on the back is one of my favourite parts of the model. I painted the same hot glow in the slits of the furnace door, used verdigrised copper for piping and generally made everything look dirty and sooty. This is a steam powered robot after all! To fit in with that image I checked out lots of steam locamotive reference and mixed a metallic shade to give that heavy worn iron look. It's basically Boltgun Metal and Black, drybrushed very lightly with Boltgun Metal and shaded back down with first Badab Black and then a thin glaze of Devlan Mud. This gives that nice "heavy" feel to the metal that I was after.

A better shot of the piping, copper is one of those colours that is flaming hard to mix. So I cheat and just buy Vallejo's Hammered Copper (essentially it is the old Citadel Beaten Copper). A basecoat of this gets highlighted by the addition of a little Mithril Silver. The verdigris is a new colour to me, Vallejo's Scurf Green. I used to use a mixture of Orkhide Shade and Skull White which sort of matched the old Scaley Green (I don't blame Citadel for canning it, I literally only used it for oxidising copper). The internet informed me that Scurf Green is basically the same thing and so I'm back in the oxidising business! Thin streaks were pulled down from joins and faded first with water and then with a glaze of Hammered Copper to reduce the impact.

Top down shot to show off a few things, first, the Cygnar swan (took me an embarrassingly long time to connect Cygnar and Swan to Cygnid... i.e. swans...) which was freehanded from a pdf sheet of icons that Privateer gave Bell of Lost Souls. Secondly the rust. I wanted some rain run-off rust streaks. Not rusted to hell, just subtly weathered. This was achieved in a similar way to the copper, a mix of Dark Flesh and Vermin Brown (two key constituents of Jeff Rust) was thinned and applied to the lower edges of anywhere I wanted to pull a rust streak, I then pulled thin streaks down from the reservoir of paint and feathered them out with a dampened brush. I finished the weathering with very selective washes of a mix of Bestial Brown and Graveyard Earth to show accumulated muck.

The final thing that the top-down shows nicely is the basing. I wanted to go to town on these. I am unfamiliar with the big rounded lip Privateer bases and felt that they leant themselves to a more "cabinet" than "tabletop" look than my usual style. Hence I resolved to put extra effort into basing the Cygnar army to make each a mini diorama. Deciding to base the army in the Thornwood Forest I figured a woodland theme would suit them nicely. I built up the contours of the base with layers of superglue and sand and painted this in a nice earthy leafmold brown (Bestial basecoat over Calthan, Devlan Mud wash, gentle drybrush of Vomit Brown). I then scoured the back yard for weeds and pulled them up until I had found a nice branch-like root. This got cleaned up, sealed in PVA and applied to the base. I then added the twisting sticks and weeds you can see. Believe it or not, this is actually pencil shavings from an electric sharpener we have. These were pva'd down and all the wood was basecoated Graveyard Earth. Layers of washes followed to define the colours, all the brown and green ones were used. Finally I added spots of PVA and applied two colours of static grass (Scorched Grass and Glade Grass) to add a little more realism. Believe it or not I am not done yet. Anetoceti do a lovely leaf litter flock that I am getting my hot little hands on soon and will be adding that to finish the woodland feel.

One last picture to show off the chipping and scoring around the arms of the warjack (it fights other 'Jacks by punching them after all).

All in all I was thoroughly pleased with my first Warmachine fig. I had been put off in the past by Privateer's painting style which I think does their figures no favours at all. Having finally seen some in the flesh ( at Firestorm Games in Cardiff ) I was impressed enough to give them a go! I don't think Warmachine will ever overtake Warhammer and 40k in my affections but it is nice to have another feel of models to paint and nicer still to be a complete novice at something! That hasn't happened for eighteen years or so. Nice feeling! Anyway, must return to the grindstone. I am churning out the last of the basic Death Korps (determined to have the bulk finished by the start of April so I can enjoy painting the characters and weird bits before the deadline of the end of April). Pics when they are done of course, till then:


Saturday, 19 March 2011

Death Korps Officer and Grenadiers

It is Death Korps time again! To open we have one of my favourite models in the range:

The model is simply stunning, the quality of the sculpting (particularly the coat) is beyond compare. The colour scheme had to fit with the army and yet stand out as special. I remembered seeing photographs of Belgian officers in the Great War with polished brass helmets (I believe the origin of the phrase "brass hats" for senior officers) and thought that it would fit with the arrogant hauteur of the Death Korps officer corps. The remainder of the scheme is identical to the basic troopers (but with more blending). With dark green as the contrast colour for the army Dark Angels Green was used as a spot colour for coat lining and trim.

While this shot was technically to show off the shading on the cloth it is really to show off the amazing sculpting of the greatcoat draped across the officer's shoulders. I'll pause there and allow you all to admire that... so onwards!

I didn't want the epaulettes and braid to be metallic as there was already a lot of brass and bronze on the model and as a result had a go at non-metallic metal. I used the method described in white dwarf for the Sanguinor with a few tweaks suggested by Darran Latham on his blog as, lets face it, he painted the darn thing in the first place! Now I know what I did wrong here, there is too much shade tone and not enough highlight for it to look like shiney gold but handily it does look rather spanky as braid so serendipity strikes again.

A closer look at the details of the model. The brass helmet was painted using many blended layers of metallics starting from vallejo Brassy Brass (well done guys) - the equivilent of the old brazen brass - working up through their Brass paint (yep, that is different) up to Brass with a little Mithril Silver added. Glazes of brown and chestnut ink helped to intensify the colour and define areas of detail. The little medals on his chest were a lovely touch and made him look all the more unlikely as a front line fighter while adding a splash of colour.

Now I mentioned in my last post that it was grenadier week. Well, that turned in to grenadier fortnight with one thing and another but finally, here they are:

A word of advice for anyone building these things. The cables are specific to the gun and arm combination. For the love of your sanity stick these things on as you build them. Attaching them later was the work of many hours and much swearing but they look wonderful for it.

The general scheme for the grenadiers is the same as the basic troopers (hence my camera's usual problems in picking up subtle colours, grrr.) with the adjustments discussed in the heavy stubber post. The obvious changes are the additional green body armour which changes the tone of the colour scheme considerably while keeping them in line with the normal troopers. The face masks have that creepy skull motif picked out in the same mix of catachan green and rotting flesh with skull white to lift the design off the canvas.

The back mounted hellgun power cell is connected by those fiddly power cables, these were painted dark angels green and charadon granite with a wash of badab black to pick them out. The hellguns themselves have nice thermal sleeves strapped around the barrels to prevent the heat of discharge from burning the user. I tried this in green at first but it altered the balance of the colour scheme too much. Way too much green! Khaki worked nicely and also visably tied the sleeves to being fabric.

As usual the armour plates and helmets received dings and chips by first painting them in with a mix of scorched brown and chaos black and then highlighting the inside of the chip (the yolk of a fried egg) with boltgun metal. This is a nice quick way to create weathering and interest within a unit.

Well, thats all folks. More death korps are already on my painting table along with the honour guard of my Blood Angels and my very first ever Warmachine figure (A Cygnar Cyclone Warjack for the curious).


Thursday, 3 March 2011

Legends of the Old West - Lawmen

Yee-haw pardner! We're headin' way out west for this update. Having recently had a surge of keen for all things Old West (A combination of Red Dead Redemption and True Grit no doubt) I dug out the figures that I bought when the craze first hit. Dividing them up I discovered to my delight that I had enough for three complete warbands, a Lawmen gang, a vicious Outlaw band and a gang of Cowboys to cause trouble. Basing them up on pennies (so if you are curious about their actual size, the thing they are standing on is a UK penny) gave a nice weight and after a weekend of fevered painting this is the result:

These fine gentlemen are the Coyote Creek Sheriff's Office and Citizens Vigilence Committee. Otherwise known as the Law in these here parts stranger... Before we take a look at the individuals making up this stalwart body here is the rules-ey bit:

So first on the list, and rightly so, is Sheriff Dayton Goodwin (all the members of my various gangs are named after real lawmen, outlaws or cowboys):

Sheriff Goodwin has to look the part so he dresses smart and severe, from the stripy vest to neat cravat he is every inch the respectable gentleman. The model doesn't come with a badge so I painted one on, adding shadows around the rim to give it a three dimensional feel. Now the Sheriff can't do it alone so I added a pair of deputies. First up is Deputy J.J. Sharp:

Now I am not normally given to criticising miniatures (as I cannot sculpt better myself) but this guy has some serious problems. Firstly, he is HUGE, take a look at the group shot and imagine him standing straight. He is head and shoulders taller than the rest. I took the photo from a flattering angle but the coat is nearly a 1/4" thick in places around his legs and the hands are just... one is skeletal (the one in shot), the other is massive, puffy and posessing a thumb the size of three other fingers combined. Add to that the horrible undercut that joins the gun to the body (a massive plug of metal that cannot easily be removed) and this is not a figure that I could ever recommend. Unfortunately, due to Foundry's policy of only selling in packs you can't avoid him. Ho hum, did the best I could. As it has photographed well here I'll talk a little about the technique for painting the woodwork. I wanted a varnished wood look for these chaps so started from my usual Khemri Brown with Bleached Bone woodgrain. I then glazed the whole thing with Chestnut Ink, this gave a semi-gloss finish as well as enriching the browns to that lovely varnished colour. The added advantage is that you can use streaks of ink to enhance the wood grain.

Providing the other half of Sheriff Goodwin's backup is Deputy Clint Davenport, both of the deputies are painted to have a much more practical look. I imagine the Sheriff remaining in Coyote Creek while his deputies ride into the hills looking for miscreants hiding from the law and chasing off Apache scouts. Both deputies have copper badges rather than the bright silver that the Sheriff sports. I made extensive use of foundation colours in painting all these fellows as the desaturated shades were perfect for my purposes.

The dapper looking chap above is Lyman Wakefield, chairman of the Coyote Creek Citizen's Vigilance Committee. These are a bunch of local business owners who take advantage of their respected status to enforce the bylaws of the town. In other words, interfering busybodies. But handy enough with a gun that when trouble rides in to town the Sheriff has an able posse to ride em out. A handy tip when painting watch chains and the like is to "blob" the paint along the length of the chain as it adds to the texture.

Another member of the Vigilence Committee is Roscoe Rankin, the town's Saloon keeper. I love how the jacket looks hastily buttoned over the usual bright vest of the barkeep and the hat looks dumped on. It's as though he was disturbed from his customers by the arrival of trouble and only had time to grab his shooting iron and throw on some clothes!

This is George Maledon; the town's general store owner. I love this guy, he just looks unflappable, standing aiming his piece with no more emotion than he would show a customer asking for credit. Little touches like a red necktie on a model like this with predominantly brown tones "lift" the scheme and add some interest.

The final member of the vigilance committee is A.J. Caldwell and his trusty rifle 'Betsy-sue'. Note on this figure the various areas of colour stand out well from one another. This is due to a technique called Black-lining. Simply put you run a thin line of black or brown-black into the gap where one colour meets the next, it outlines the regions of colour and gives you a sharper finish. I just use Badab Black.

The last member of the posse is the local Upstanding Citizen, retired Major William "Bucky" O'Neil. Though he is getting on a bit for the day-to-day activities of the vigilance committee, his input is always valued as is his skill with his shotgun. To make the model appear older, in addition to the grey hair, is to add Fortress Grey to the highest highlights of the skin. The last thing to mention is the basing. To match the look of the Arizona desert (where I have based Coyote Creek) I needed to paint the sand a pinkish dust colour. This started from Vermin Brown with increasing amounts of Bleached Bone added with three sequential drybrushes until the mix is almost bone. Finally a little white is added to give that parched look.

So there you have it! The first of my Legends of the Old West gangs. Next post will be more Death Korps as it has been Grenadier Week here at PVP HQ, they are looking spanky and just a few details to finish up. Finally a bit of photoshop silliness for our enjoyment: