Monday, 30 December 2013

Corsairs and Scorpion Lords

Ha! I wondered whether I would get these lads finished in 2013, and I did! Just... ;)

Today is the turn of the Guardians to have difficult-to-focus-or-colour-balance photos taken of them! Mostly, they are nigh on identical to the Dire Avengers and the Corsair Guardians. I think they'll all hang together quite nicely on the table. Of greater interest is the grav platform:

I did a tiny bit of head scratching on the grav-platform. I wanted the thing to hang with the army but not just be uniformly grey. After a few minutes it occured to me what I was looking at. A teeny, tiny corsair vehicle. With this notion I treated it exactly the same as all the other Corsair Grav Tanks. Even down to the hex panels. It seemed to work rather nicely.

Our final offering today - indeed for 2013 - is this Chapterhouse Striking Scorpion Phoenix Lord. This is one of the better Chapterhouse models, the pose is nifty. Of course that isn't saying much, not much facial definition, legs different sizes and irregular sculpting (lines are different thicknesses along their length for example). However, enough carping. We replaced the original chapterhouse weapon with the citadel striking scorpion exarch weapon. Much better, check out the original and see what I mean:

Fortunately the citadel one fit fairly well. I needed to resculpt a bicep and fill in a shoulder blade but mostly fine. The pose works very well with the weapon. Looks like she's crouching behind a barricade ready to spring up and decapitate some unsuspecting human. Painting wise, I was left with very few choices to make. The grey armour was taking care of itself. The red hands needed some balancing with the ridges on the shoulders - as the model lacks a helmet and thus lacks a red faceplate. Just like the Prince Yriel model I decided to use the Wraithbone basecoat (Zandri Dust and Skull White mix) for the hair. All in all, straightforward! Although I did need to put some effort into defining the facial features. Would have been a bit flat featured otherwise.

And with that, 2013 is done! I'll be doing a new year post in couple of days but until then, I want to wish all of our readers a happy, enjoyable and safe New Year's Eve. See you in 2014!


Thursday, 19 December 2013

Lord of the Corsairs

Ahoy me hearties! Set sail on the sea of stars and fall upon those worthless humans like the wolves we are, solar sails set and this guys hand on the tiller:

Yep, today's offering is Prince Yriel, recast as a Corsair Autarch complete with nifty wings, all the better to join his men. I've always loved this figure, right from the moment they released him. I worked for GW Oxford at the time and we even chose Iyanden as the store army just to better fit in with him. So the chance to paint one as part of the corsair force was a treat.

The first thing to fathom was which colours were going where. Initially I thought to make him stand out more from the pack and use red on the coat. I was worried that the shades of grey would blend together. Trust me, this didn't work. So instead I launched into plan B. The coat would be a darker shade, the armour plates lighter. The metallic red alternating feathers would provide enough bling for him. For reference, the wings and the main body of the model were painted seperately. It would have been madness to stick them on first. One more note on the coat before we move on. Yriel has lovely brocade-esque detailing around the garment, this created a problem as the dark and brooding thing was working. I didn't want to introduce another colour - the only options from the pallete being turquoise, bone or red - as it would have dramatically changed the tone of the model. Instead, I had a brainwave. I darkened the detailing to black and added a layer of gloss varnish. This created a contrast of texture rather than colour and while it looks ok in photos it is lovely in real life.

Speaking of turquoise, eagle eyed types will notice that the sash around his waist and the band around his arm are also a dark shade of turquoise (Stegadon Scale Green with a Coelia Greenshade wash and some highlighting if curious). This allowed me to subtly break up areas of detail without drawing the eye from the main foci - face, spear, wings, that gurt great gem on his chest. Using a darker shade of an existing colour from the pallete is a neat way of maintaining a colour scheme while minimising areas of detail that you don't want to pop out.

While there isn't a whole lot of painting to talk about on it I just had to post a picture of the spear tip. It's been my favourite part of the model for ages. Of course it's actually a halbard but then most GW spears are anyway ;)

Now, the picture above may look a bit mad but it illustrates something that I talk about from time to time, balancing colours across models. In this case the red and the bone were important. I knew I wanted the wings to alternate red and grey feathers so I needed some red low down on the model to balance that. The lining of the coat, darker, but the same hue took care of that. The outstreatched hand was also balanced by making the ribbons hanging from the weapon red. I thought of turquoise or grey but it needed that balance.

Simarily, the spear is huge and occupies a lot of the model. While I was pondering hair colours it occurred to me that I could balance the spear accross the model by using the tyranid bit on the base and his hair. You wouldn't think to look at it but the hair is the exact same colour as the spear. It has just been treated differently afterwards. In this case a wash of Agrax Earthshade rather than Seraphim Sepia changes it juuust enough. The tyranid bit is different, it's Karak Stone but the colours are close enough to work. This is the sort of process that your brain goes through automatically when you've been painting a while, you instinctively balance things or at least know when something is "wrong". But every now and again - like the hair - you stop for a moment trying to figure out what to do. It is then you shift from instinct to an active process and start mentally drawing triangles all over the place! Most colour decisions on my models are made using a mix of this process and a colour wheel.

Anyway, that's all for today folks, the guardians are nearly finished and will be up on the blog very soon. But for now.


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Hammer of Daemons

While the Grey Knights range - and indeed my army - have been reinforced with power armoured troops, dreadnoughts, huge walking thingies and the like. There has always been just one true pattern of Grey Knight. The Grey Knight Terminator.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that these are my favourite terminators in general circulation (the space hulk ones are my favourites). They're just so well designed, the poses are natural and if you pick the right componants in the right places they're dynamic too. Like the power armoured lads, their details are crisp and nicely cast - the script on the shoulders and knees is excellent - and their weapons look even more badass than the power armoured chaps are! These have actually been hanging around for a while, painted before my wrist started hurting again but lacking a couple of highlights and basing. So I finished them off! Lets take a closer look at some of them.

As with the power armoured ones, the daemonhammer is the only slightly disapointing pose. It always looks a little "weak". I know the huge shoulders cause them posing difficulties but slung over a shoulder or planted on the ground might have looked better. I went for "turned sideways urging the men into battle" as the only viable option. Nice, but not as nice as:

These two are awesome. The two handed grip on the haft coupled with the moving feet makes for a lovely dynamic pose. The one on the left seems to be shifting his weight ready to step forward with his right foot and pivot through it to deliver a savage chop. The one on the right, winding up to strike with the butt-end of the weapon, driving his target back to open room for a chop or stab. It is this sort of thought in sculpting - and careful experiments in dry fitting and part selection - that can make or break a miniature. So many of these models end up looking a little stiff or awkward where a few moments work experimenting with rotating waists and altering head positions can make all the difference. Stand up and get into the pose the model is in. If it is not comfortable or stable then the model will always look awkward. It's why models with poorly sculpted centres of mass look like they are falling over. You know instinctively where a body should be to be stable.

The psycannon was a tiny conversion. I didn't like the passive arm it is designed to go on, I wanted a much more action-packed pose. By trimming some bits to help the fit I was able to get the cannon on to the aiming arm and by putting it on one of the braced pairs of legs I was able to give a nice impression of the Grey Knight lowering his weight, bracing himself and then letting rip with a savage volley of gunfire. Seemed to work!

You'll notice that I talked about posing a lot this time rather than painting. Two reasons why, first, I talked about painting these guys extensively in the power armour article and not a lot has changed since then. Secondly. I really believe that we overlook posing at our peril. Too many of us race through assembly and into painting to get them onto the table. Well, the best painting in the world will not change a bad miniature. You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. When the miniature is a solid, totally sculpted one then you kind of have not a lot of choice. When it is parts that you assemble and pose yourself? You are doing your collection a great disservice not to spend just ten more minutes experimenting and acting the prat standing in poses. Heck, we spend enough money on them. Lets make 'em good. Until next time folks.


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Shoulders of Giants

Hi folks, get the reference? Well, let me help, today is all about the people who guide the fate of the Corsairs, the Farseers:

If we have seen further than others it's cos we stood on the shoulders of giants...
So, unnecessarily niche Newton quotes aside... These pair are a GW farseer (left) and a Chapterhouse farseer on the right. Now, this model seems to no longer be available - probably as a result of the legal wranglings between Chapterhouse and GW. I really, really don't want to reignite the debate here so I'll just say I have no problem with "totally not a one-of-those" style models where a nod and a wink is enough to indicate a homage. Chapterhouse straight up steal. They use the race names and even unit entries. That's just out of order in this humble bloggers opinion. I think GW go too far sometimes where their IP is concerned but I could not blame them for a moment going up against Chapterhouse. Call 'em armoured space elves and provide alternatives. Call 'em Eldar and you've crossed a line from nod-and-wink homage to theft. My twopennethworth. Not that it means a damn thing! Lets talk more edifying things. Painting models!

trying a new on-table lighting set up, pics are a bit stark this time, continue the research Igor!

With these, the challenge was to differentiate the areas of the model without loosing the overall feel of the colour scheme. I knew that I wanted to have predominantly grey robes as I had already started down that road with the warlocks. The trick was adding red contrast while minimising the visual impact of it. The descision eventually boiled down to the inner robes being the best choice. They're mostly covered by the wraithbone runic "circuitry" and stuff like bags and cloths. The robes and the armour, while both starting from the same colour were treated very differently, with the robes being shaded almost to black and the armour recieving nice stark highlights. The effect is a differentiated model while retaining the pallete. The by now familiar wraithbone and turquoises do their work balancing and contrasting the red/grey and leaving a rather attractive finish. Certainly the model that I am happiest so far within the Void Dragon scheme.

So, on to the Chapterhouse farseer. First thing to note is how boring the back view of both of these models are! C'mon, some runic stuff would have killed the designers? Anyway, minor gripe over with. I sharpened the sword as I mentioned in the warlock post (farseers spear too) and set to painting. Turned out to take about half the time of the Citadel one as there really weren't all that many detail areas to worry about. If you were looking for a clean canvass for some freehand work, this would be your man. The vane things on the helmet had a couple of different colours used on them before giving up and going for plain grey. They just are so out of scale with the rest of the model that calling too much attention to them makes them look weird. In situations like that, minimise the impact of the part by using the same colour as the majority of the field and have a nice strong adjecent area of colour to draw the eye away from it. Happily, in this case the face was perfect for it!

There isn't much more to say about these fellas. Guardians and Wasp walkers this week. Pictures, as always, coming soon!