Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas everyone!

Merry Christmas one and all from Pirate Viking Painting! 
We'll be back in the new year, reinvigorated for more little plastic man shenanigans. See you then.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Useful References

Hi folks, I often talk about how useful/important research is to getting the result you want. Well, I've been doing a lot of musing lately about skin painting, I've got Caucasian pretty much down and using Dwartist's excellent mix has led to nice Afro-Caribbean tones (currently secret Inq28 project but I'll share after I inflict them on my players), but there are dozens more and it's often tricky to get a starting point for the midtone. Well, a photographic artist has provided us wargamers with a really interesting resource:

"Humanæ" by Angélica Dass is a work in progress artwork with the midtone colour of each participant (ratio of pink people is a little high at the moment but work in progress) defined by its Pantone colour. Much easier to compare a paint to a swatch than the ever changing shades of skin so I'm hoping it'll be a useful starting point. Thus I figured share it here! [it has a naff interface at the moment, use the tiny red "fore and back" at the bottom to scroll the pages]

Ideally, I'd like to see more companies making - and sculpting - a better range of skin paints and face shapes but until they do, we'll have to keep on finding useful shades in the existing ranges and sharing them. I think I know some of the reasons for the reluctance to move beyond the Caucasian norm in wargaming, race is one of those very, very touchy subjects. Almost better to be thought of as white-centric than to offend by mislabelling people or worse, missing an ethnic group out while featuring others. I'd say, time to grow up wargaming industry, accept the fact that some people will throw toys out of the pram and handle it when they do. Another reason is expense, flesh tones are tricksy, adding dozens more is expensive. But as we're seeing in Humanæ there are probably existing tones in your ranges. Would it be so hard to label them as Burnt Umber / Afro Carribean Skintone? Of heck, just call them the skintones and let us figure out that they can be also used for other things.

Anyway, that's it. Thought I'd share a resource and some thoughts. If you've got a nice solid skin recipe for the hundreds of non-Caucasian skin tones out there then feel free to share it in the comments! If I get enough I'll make a sort of library of them. There's dozens of reference sites for animals (Equusite for horses is one I use a lot), nice to see one for humans.


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

On the Workbench - Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Goblin's Life For Me

Really bad eggs! Hi folks, given that it had been a little while since I posted anything (my creativity has been channelled elsewhere recently) I thought I'd share the some conversion work. In this case, Goblin Pirates!

Now, before I start, I should offer some caveats. This is probably going to be the last you see of these guys for quite some time. I plan my hobby some time in advance and these are for after I do some Empire. I do though get bored so have models available for a bit of converting glee when painting becomes samey. So while I've got a converting article here, don't expect to see them painted for some while. Sorry! On with the show: These fine chaps are the command groups and one of the characters of the last of my Goblin tribes. Joining the Bitter Moon Night Goblins and the Black-Head Forest Goblins will be a tribe of common goblins. Sadly, I don't really get on with the "Genghis" common goblin models. Nothing too wrong with them, just not my cup of tea. Following on with the Hochland Campaign at the Beard Bunker I had the notion of a bunch of goblins living as river pirates on a small flotilla of stolen boats. This festered away until I saw the Black Scorpion Goblin Pirates models. "That was the vibe for me" thought I. Some musing later I also realised that Ogre Kingdoms gnoblar models would work great with a little conversion (mostly weapons) as gobbos. The River Pikey tribe were born! (Pikey is a pejorative term for gypsies where I grew up and goblins really fit the stereotype)

left to right: chariot champ; 3 unit champions; big boss

The thousand points of River Pikeys has three block units in it so needed three command groups. I had a good look through the Black Scorpion models I had available and figured which of the poses would work best for standard bearer and musician conversions. The remainder became unaltered champions. In the photo above, the Nelson looking one on the left is going to be standing in the bow of one of the chariots (boats with wheels added!) as a champion. The captain model on the right is going to be the leader. Still need to find an appropriate shaman but the hunt is on. So with everything divided out I needed to get to work converting.

The three standard bearers were simply made by carving away the weapons they held (and turning the cutlass on the middle one to a more ranking-up-friendly direction) and pinning zombie polearms into place as the standard poles. I added an empire gunpowder scoop to one to indicate that they were just using anything vaguely the right length as a flagpole, thieves see? Not a lot of work really. I still need to resculpt the little finger on the middle model to fit the pole but that'll be a job for the future. With the easy stuff done, time for the musicians.

I wanted a nautical feel to as many of the instruments as I could manage. A bell and a fiddle fit the bill. The last one's pose rather limited my options so while a squeeze-box accordion would have been more appropriate a "liberated" Empire horn was a better fit. Making the bell was just by repositioning a zombie bell to look like a swing mounted ship's bell that he's nicked off with. Likewise, the horn was just giving him a new hand (night goblin) to replace the hand-covering basket hilt cutlass then cutting and gluing the horn. Again, a little green stuff work will be needed to smooth the transitions. Finally, the hard one, the pose of the musket armed goblin left me with only one instrument that would fit. A fiddle (violin) was the only option. This... was a challenge. I wanted to use the model so sucked up the difficulty and plunged on. Carving away the musket left me with the arm positions free of interference. Next, I cut a rectangle of plasticard roughly to size and carved it by eye to be the vague shape of a violin body. All other details will be with painting. The neck was made in three parts, the curly middle bit and the two tuning pegs. These are tiny, I lost three carved pegs before I had them in place. The bow was just a length of paper clip wire, I added a strip of paper thin plasticard to the underneath and a little plasticard shim to shape the end of the bow. I'll do a little more shaping once the superglue is thoroughly cured with a very sharp blade but for now? Job done. I think it turned out ok.

So that's that! The first of the River Pikeys are ready to be painted and set sail. If anyone is curious, the army list for the Pikeys is above, I think it's going to be a fun project. I'll share it as it goes.


Monday, 24 November 2014

Like a Shaman in a Web

For those who have been following my progress on Project Goblin will know I have been building the various elements as separate tribes. So far the Bitter Moon Night Goblins and the Black Head Forest Goblins. The Bitter Moons are the big one, tons and tons of night gobbos with attendant leaders and shamen. Until now, all the Black Heads had was their chief, Arakkit. But not any more baby!

Yes indeed, the Black Heads now have religious guidance and magical boom all of their own (and not having to rely on Shaman Joodee...) in the form of Shaman Skuttlit. Now, those with Orc & Goblin army books and possessing a law abiding spirit will be saying "but Jeff, there's no option for a spider mount for a goblin shaman..." to which I say "bum to that". Seriously, why the hell can shamen ride wolves but not spiders? Heroes can ride spiders. So I ignored the army list, transferred the cost from the hero and went with it. None of my usual opponents would care and frankly, anyone determined to make an issue out of it is unlikely to be a person with whom I would enjoy playing. Anyhow, enough of that. Painting and modelling! The basis of the model was a regular spider with the champion backrest and the awesome goblin shaman. I'm intending to use him again so I needed to make some modifications to prevent them looking like twins. I extended the staff with bits from the arachnarok (the kit that keeps on giving that one) and switched out the bone and skull for dagger. I'll probably remove the topknot when I paint the common goblin contingent.

In order to make him fit on the spider in his vaguely "arachnid surfing" pose I needed to sculpt a new chunk of carapace to smooth out the flat area the goblin normally sits on. Painting the spider was handled in the same way as each and every damn eight legged crawling thing in the army (just 10 to go...). Skuttlit was painted in the usual way for goblin skin, just adding a couple more intermediate steps to the highlights. I chose black for the robes to help him fit in with the Bitter Moons and then got to the fun bit:

Details! The cloak collar is normally painted as fur, but for a "jungley" shaman type I thought tropical bird feathers would add a splash of colour. So I did a bit of research, chose a bird for each layer and went for it. The fetish staff - genius design by the way, wolf, voodoo-ish fetish and moon, feels like one of each type of gobbo to me - was fun to pick out all the little details. The chicken foot especially worked well. Highlighting yellow with bone is the way to get that naturalistic animal yellow.

So a simple conversion and paint job leading to a nice finish, now to wear the shiny model syndrome off with a game or two... and the inevitable head-exploding miscasts of course...


Sunday, 16 November 2014

Tree's Company

Wood yew beleaf it? Ash soon as one scenery article a-pears another follows. Sorry, I'll stop, no more puns, completely stumped... sorry. Yes, today's article is all about trees, and because it was a slow process I've taken step-by-step pics too.

For this round of trees I'm using the old GW "bottle brush" trees, they're the shape of chestnut trees by the way, that have been hanging around about as long as the game board awaiting the appointed hour.

First of all you need to separate the trees from whatever root system your trees come with. If they can't be separated then you'll just have to be careful. These were just wire hot glued in to the roots, so a quick twist did it. Put the bottle brushes to one side and concentrate on the roots. Glue the roots on a base roughly the width of your trees. Handily, the 60mm flat round plastic bases citadel made were perfect. I had a bunch of them so that made it easy. In the absence of those I would recommend one of the companies making mdf bases. Sarissa Precision are a good bet. Texture them as normal and then prime - I'd recommend black.

There are some that would say this is enough trees. There are Forty here. Those people are wrong as we shall see later.

Painting begins in exactly the same way as the table, with the same colours (Calthan Brown and Tausept Ochre from the painting kit, Terminatus Stone to finish) so as to help blend the bases to the existing soil.

The colour of the trees never resolved well on the camera. Trees aren't brown y'see? They're a brownish grey. A good analogue for this is a basecoat of Val German Camo Black-Brown. Drybrushed with a mix of Val GCBB and Baneblade Brown and a final light drybrush of Administratum Grey. In real life they look browney-grey. On camera? They look primed. Grump.

Next we need to get some foliage going. This will blend the edge of the base in to the grass of the table (damn near perfectly if you check the first picture again). Just put a rough ring of neat PVA around the edge of the base and then give it a good, pressed-down coat of the same static grass mix you made the table with. It's worth making a load of the grass mix when you do the table so that you can blend all future scenery projects. This will give you a "Mongol Furry Hat" look which will look a little unnatural at this stage but remember two things. One, we ain't done yet, two, grass doesn't grow too densely under trees that are packed together in a wood. In a park? Sure, a wood, no.

What you do get a whole stack of is leaf-mold. Antenoceti's Workshop's Leaf Litter is a great analogue for this. I believe they're some sort of seed pods but they are so cheap and numerous in the pot (I used less than a third of the pot doing the entire 40 trees) that it's worth buying them. Thinned PVA brushed on lightly and then a layer of leaves sticks a thin coating of them. Sadly, they're not terribly durable this way so we break out the secret weapon. Watered down PVA.

Before we coat the whole thing in watered down PVA I'll share a tip with you. It's terribly easy to glue your carefully modelled bases to the table. To avoid this? Just stick a coin under the base. A 2p piece is perfect. Just enough gap (compare the two bases the arrow is connecting in the picture above) to prevent sticking and very stable.

Hoo boy, this next step takes some time when you are batch painting forty of the damn things. A thinned mix of PVA - about 1 part PVA to 3 parts water - is heavily brushed over the grass, leaves, everything. This will weld all the scatter materials down. At this stage I also glued a few weed tufts to about 10 of the bases just to add some more life.

When it's all dry you get quite a nice convincing leaf litter. You can now glue your trees back into the trunks and admire your handiwork!

See? Forty trees, barely covers 2/3 of a 2'x2' Realm of Battle tile. Sheesh. Clearly need more tree... especially some different species to mix up the appearance a bit. I'm also going to make some bases of undergrowth, ferns, bushes etc. to mix up amongst the trees to improve the woodland look.

Well, having either given you ideas or taught you to suck eggs I shall away to play with my wood... ahem.


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Fields of Glory

This is a short update, but one that I am very, very excited about.

Yeah baby! Mulder house totally has a gaming table! I've got a whacking great 6'x4' slab of MDF and some saw-horses to stand it on for the living room. For photography though, a nice bright October day was better so please ignore all the 1:1 scale foliage in the background (weeds mostly).

As this was the - I'm guessing - 6th or 7th of these I've painted/helped paint (used to work for GW back in the day) I'd had a bit of experience with these. The Realm of Battle is an expensive but awesomely convenient table system. The bag it comes in keeps it tidy and the hill is a lovely design that allows a bunch of configurations. Even matches perfectly with the old 4-part hill - now sadly and bafflingly out of production. From previous ones I'd painted I knew I'd want to erase the skull pits. They look kinda ridiculous (at least add other bones if you want a charnel pit) and take a long time to paint for not a great final effect. We fixed them by using polyfilla smeared in to the pits and then rough sculpted to match the cracked ground their found in. Looks muuuch nicer. On to the painting!

I had the old painting kit that went with the board (yep, it's been hanging around my house a loooong time) so after a quick primer coat, I say quick, a can and a half of primer, I had a big bottle of Calthan Brown to basecoat it with. I can let you in on a trade secret here. Don't prat about with brushes. Get a small paint roller (about 4") and use it to basecoat the whole thing. You'll have it done with no brush streaks in a matter of minutes. Once this has dried - and I really mean dried - you can drybrush on the texture. For me the colours were first, the slightly smaller tub of Tausept Ochre followed by Tausept mixed with a little Val Deck Tan. This gave me the earth tones. It's worth noting that the Realm of Battle boards work great just painted. You don't need the static grass and they look ace as desert boards.

the tufts on the left are much, much lighter in tone than they appear here

Next came rocks. My method started from Skavenblight Dinge, a decent stone colour in these dreary post-Charadon Granite days. A wash of Dinge, Calthan Brown and a bit of black helped bind it to the soil colour. This is important as soil is made of weathered, broken down rock and organic matter. The rocks need to have some of the soil colour in the mix. I drybrushed them up with a couple of increasingly light mixes of Dinge and Deck Tan (hey, notice the same colour used in the soil highlighting and the rock highlighting? Helps too). Finally I used a bunch of different enamel weathering paints (AK Interactive but because reasons I'd recommend Ammo instead as it's the same exact stuff) to put much, green streaks and pale lichen-ey bits all over the rocks. Using odourless turps you can fade out enamels really nicely and creates lovely natural effects.

[EDIT: oh yeah, totally forgot about the grass! Working one tile at a time: decent PVA is spread everywhere I wanted grass, fading out where I wanted the earth showing. Then into a huge tub containing the sack of Scorched Grass from the kit to which I added the smaller bag of Glade Grass and a tub of Antenoceti's Workshop Steppe Grass. This was applied shaken through a sieve which prevents clumps. Once a decent thickness is achieved I pat it down to weld it into the glue. Turn the tile on its end and give it a few good whacks to dislodge the loose grass. Then, when COMPLETELY dry you gently brush watered down PVA (roughly 1:3 dilution) over the grass to make it all but bombproof.]

Finally I added some very short moss tufts to the rocks, some longer grass tufts and a few little bushes with coarse turf and some drifts of leaves with the leaf litter seed pod things from Antenoceti's Workshop. As I've mentioned before a tip with the coarse turf is to "inject" it with a dropper full of watered down PVA. It'll dry firm and resilient.

And that's it! I've got a gaming table! Huzzah! Expect to see more scenery bits on here as I turn it from blasted moorland, first into woodlands and then (hopefully) a rural idyll.


Friday, 31 October 2014

Windmills on my Mind Part 1 - Review and Construction

Today we're looking at something a little different to our normal fare of tiny plastic men. I'm starting to turn my attention to the ground they stand on too. Now, it would be sensible to start with the gaming table, and I am, but something arrived at the weekend that has me waaay to excited to wait.

This post was nearly titled "Round like a Circle in a Spiral" but that was waaaay to oblique.
The something is the excellent Tabletop World windmill and will be the start of a whole wee model model village. Charlie over at the Beard Bunker is already building a nifty town out of their larger dwellings so I'm working on a more rural aesthetic. Fields, farms, a windmill, the whole nine yards. Given that Tabletop World are based in Croatia, their exposure here in Blighty isn't all that great so I thought I'd do this project as a review/build log/tutorial doodad. Starting with review:

Caution, potential hyperbole ahead. I simply cannot praise Tabletop World's output highly enough. Lets go through the reasons why. First, the material: Yes, resin isn't my favourite (I think plastic is the natural material for wargaming) but this resin is superb. It's solid, strong, sturdy, a nice clean cream colour that helps to show off the detail even before you paint it and best of all the total lack of bubbles. They must be pressure casting as the quality is better than anything I've seen. Next; the casting method: I'll straight up admit, I have no idea, none, how on earth they keep their moulds intact. Almost everything they make is full of gorgeous deep undercuts to give that rich detail and cast in as few pieces as possible. Whole buildings are in two and three chunks. It surely has to eat the mould silicone. Finally we come to the real deal. The sculpting. These guys literally build their pieces stone by modelled stone. They don't carve mortar lines in, they build whole houses. Their wood shingles have proper wood-grain and chunks missing. There's even full interior detailing on most of their buildings (not the windmill unfortunately) including neat provisions in sacks and boxes.

Granted, their prices are justifiably a little higher than some similar things out there but the quality is a serious bump. If you see scenery simply as a means of blocking lines of sight then frankly, I'd look at MDF stuff, it's cheaper and it'll do the same job. But. If you are like us (by which I include the Beard Bunker crew) and think that lovingly painted and realistic miniatures deserve a lovingly painted and realistic landscape to fight over then they can't be beaten in my opinion. Good terrain tells stories just as effectively as well posed miniatures. Battlefields can be re-positionable dioramas that really enhance the game. It makes me so sad to see some of the tournament spaces in the world pitting fantastically painted forces over plain green mdf grass and cardboard box houses. I know there's a cost/effect criteria in effect there and the situations aren't comparable but there surely should be a middle ground. Anyway, enough of that. On with some assembly:

There really is only one job to do on this model, reinforcing the joins of the arms of the windmill. Normally when pinning there is the awkward task of lining up the pin holes. On something like this you can automatically line up the holes by simply pushing straight up through the pilot holes you've drilled already. Press the arm into position and then drill up through the holes you've drilled in the shaft and continue up into the arms. Hard to describe, hence, photos. Eventually the various bits will be pinned together with wire but for now I left it in sub-assemblies for ease of painting. I marked which arms match to which sockets as each will be in a slightly different place and you might as well get it right. Now, on to painting:

Having watched Charlie all but weep tears of blood trying to get these to prime properly with spray cans I figured another path needed to be found. See, those lovely deep cuts that make painting a joy make proper priming something of a nightmare. Owning an airbrush already I figured that the vallejo surface primer would be a good choice. I was right. Using the airbrush means that you can change the angles on the hop so you can cover all the cracks evenly. I still had to do two coats, one from above, one from beneath but the whole process took only about 12 minutes or so. Even better, from that 200ml tub of paint I used maybe 8ml of it doing the whole building. I'd have expected to use about a quarter of a can of spray paint. This way can save a bunch of propellant expense. Granted, you need a airbrush first but if you can keep it rolling through an equivalent ten cans of spray you'll pay most of it back. Plus it does other stuff. Probably not enough to recommend owning an airbrush on this alone but another reason I'm happy to have one.

While I had the airbrush out I thought I'd steal a march on the woodwork. A coat of Model Air Camo Black-Brown started the process nicely. When I've figured out what I'm going to use on the stones then I'll do the same. More in part two, where we'll take it from basecoat to finished and if there's time add the weathering, if not, heck, there'll be a part three :)


Friday, 24 October 2014

No Mercy From Old Men

The Dwarfs are a kinda backward looking people. Their glory days were in the past, (although I really, really like the new fluff of the High King looking to reclaim it rather than decline) old techniques can't be replicated and past secrets are lost. The Dwarfs revere their ancestors and respect age above all else. Among humans this can be over conservative and cautious, humans decline in extreme old age. Dwarfs... well, they become hard as coffin nails.

These are the latest addition to the Stormborne host, 30 Longbeards make a real dent in anything they hit (WS5 and S4 rising to 5 on the charge is really no joke) and their mere presence stabilises a battleline. No one wants to look bad in front of the Elders. Readers with long memories will recall that I already have some longbeards. This is true. I did, but then GW brought out some properly lovely new models to represent them. Barely blinked before replacing them. But then I needed to do something with the former models. So hi ho, hi ho, it's off to Karak Timotai we go for a youthening:

Three more members and a greater range of beard colours later and I had a shiny new unit of basic Dwarf warriors. They've become the Wardens of the Outer Halls. The newer warrior box looks a bit more high status than the old ones so these are formal guards rather than a citizen militia. But enough of basic beard stuff, back to longbeards!

Modelling wise there's only one thing to mention about this superb kit. Compare and contrast the champion and the drummer. While building them I mused that there wasn't a whole lot of difference in the appearance of the Ironbreakers and the Longbeards (the kit does both). Given that I wanted Ironbreakers in my army I wanted a clear visual distinction. So I left the shoulder pads off everyone I could. Now it just looks like heavy scale armour rather than the gromril ultra armour that the Ironbreakers wear. Love the champion by the way, always, always like this sort of pose on Dwarfs. The "I've got all day, come get it" attitude. Painting wise, they were fairly straightforward - lots of armour - but my lord are the details fiddly. The shields especially needed about 8 layers of back and forth sharpening of the details. Expect to be working on them for a while if you take them on.

Scarily, I'm one very straightforward (if massive) unit of 50 warriors with great weapons and a few artillery pieces from finishing 5000 points of Stormbornes. I've decided that's where I'm stopping with the clan. The next dwarf project would be an Undgrin Ankhor force full of Irondrakes and Ironbreakers and a pair of flame cannons. But I really, really need to do something else before that. Too. Many. Dwarfs. Empire I think.


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

A Feast for Crows

"We found her there, shaving the hair from her head using blood as a lather. Around her were the wreckage - both material and flesh - of what we presume was her trading caravan. Beyond that were the dozens of Orcs someone had slain. With an axe matching hers. The air was teeming with crows whose feast she had provided. She's never once spoken of the life before the massacre, indeed, only seems alive when howling fury at her foes. Frankly, sir, she scares the hell out of me..."
Stromni Skystride, Chief Ranger of Karak Hoch about Badhbh Crow-Feast.

There's a chance that this model is NSFW, if it is, find a better workplace ;)
Hello folks! Yes, were I Frankestein's Monster someone would be dancing around me hooting "He's.... ALIIIIVE!", sorry for the best part of a month's absence. Largely due to a) looking for work rather than putting paint on little mans, still ongoing, b) being on holiday, c) not realising that three weeks had managed to pass since last update. I have been painting but it is a huge 30 strong unit of Longbeards with lots and lots of fiddly details so is taking a while. As a bit of light relief I thought I'd paint this lovely Hasslefree miniatures trollslayer to add to my army as a Dragonslayer hero. Something to address first. Yep, she is very nekkid from the waist up. So are all the Trollslayers behind their beards:

But I was aware that for a variety of reasons nudity in female models is freighted with rather more "creepiness" than males. Mercifully, not only does Kev sculpt real, actual physiques on his women but there are also a variety of clothes options from this one all the way through to practical adventuring type gear. While some of his poses are a bit fanservice-ey (fair enough), most of them are non-sexualised women at war. Compare and contrast with the Brother Vinni stuff... With all this in mind I knew I wanted to dispel any titillation from the bared boobs and instead give the same impression that a half-naked male barbarian would give. I.E. badass who is so contemptuous of your abilities that he doesn't need armour. Nothing better than blood for that right?

As far as painting goes, most of what is there to talk about is skin. In this case, because Dwarf, she needed to be ruddy and weather-beaten. This, I achieve by shifting my usual skin method down a tone. Start from Bugman's Glow, Wash with Reikland Fleshtone. Then highlight with increasing mixes of Bugman's Glow, Cadian Fleshtone and finally a little Kislev Flesh mixed in for the top highlights. These are gradual transitions. I think I must have used about a dozen thin layers. Essentially each transition is in three stages pure colour; 2:1 mix; 1:1 mix; 1:2 mix; pure next colour.

Once the skin was finished, the hair was painted. Hasslefree's model has lovely sculpted stubble, just drybrush with wanted hair colour. Remember, slayer orange not the natural colour so stubble won't be orange! Trousers, weapon etc got their colours then it was blood and mud o'clock. I used blasts of air from the airbrush over a paint-loaded 3/0 brush to create the spatters. Be very careful and practice first on the palette. You generally don't want the first load you blow off the brush, too heavy. The second time is more subtle so unload the brush before you start. Streaks and rivulets were added with the brush depending from the larger splashes. For the blood, I used my usual mix of 3:1 red to chestnut ink and a splash of Lahmian medium. To this black ink is added in order to create the darker, blood for the bigger/older areas.

You can see the black-er blood on the edge of the axe. The mud was spattered with AK Fresh Mud the same way as the blood. It's subtle - too subtle for my lighting I'm afraid - but can be seen on the left arm in the picture above. This model was a joy to paint - as have been all the #Hasslefree models I've painted. Seriously, if you enjoy painting: check them out. Kev's been on a real roll lately and lots of the more recent figures are becoming must-haves for me. Oh and they totally have a range of squats...

As normal, while painting I was telling the model's story in my head. I pictured her as an unknown revenant of furious revenge. Her past life wiped out by traumatic slaughter and only violent death remaining. Her name - Badhbh (pronounced Bay-v) - is one of the three names of the goddesses that make up the Morrigan, the crow goddess of death in battle and rebirth of ancient celt legend. The "Crow-Feast" surname is a reference to this and also what she provides in any battle she steps into. "But Jeff," you begin, "Don't you already have a character slayer that you waxed rhapsodic about not so long ago?" Well yes, he's been simultaneously promoted to Daemon Slayer in the Stormbornes and also earmarked for a future Karak Kadrin army (I have another 70 slayers lying around... because reasons, I don't have a problem, honest...).

More soon (not least 30 Longbeards) but for now


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

On the Workbench - Bolt Action Weapon Teams

Having got the Bolt Action bug quite hard now, I've started in on the Desert Rats I reviewed way back when. A few people who have seen them commented on the way I do the weapon team bases so I thought I'd share (given that I'd bought a machine gun to back them up).

They don't look like much there I know, the bit people have liked is the split in the base to allow the teams to be removed as individual casualties. It is a simple idea, but one that allows you to have a nicely modelled mini-diorama that suits these teams while still permitting casualties without tiresome tokens littering the table. Like I say, simple idea but I've come up with a fairly foolproof way of doing this though so share I shall.

Having completed all the cleanup and basic assembly I dry fit the models together on the base to get the distribution right. You can't just chop the thing clean down the middle as they won't be pleasingly centred. Once happy, I picked off the loader and used a strip of masking tape (self adhesive straight edge see) to mark where I needed the cut.

There's no reason that you can't break out a nice sharp scalpel and a steel ruler but as I've got one of those brilliant Chopper II contraptions, it seemed rude not to. Handily with the way the chopper works all I had to do was line up the masking tape with the centre-line, chop half way, flip it round and do the other. Perfect cut. 10 Seconds.

Next, take that handy tape, unstick it from the top and use it to join the two halves from underneath. This stops the base from jiffling around while you glue on the figures.

In this case, the easiest way was dry fit everyone back on the base, glue the loader, then the firer (is that a word?). I left the gun unglued for now as it would only get in the way while painting.

And there you have it. Easy but useful. Better aesthetics, cleaner gaming. Win all round as far as I'm concerned. No reason you can't do this with the Imperial Guard (astra whatever) weapons teams too. I'll obviously post pictures once painted. One last tip. Tape the bases back together when you get to texturing, makes sure you don't get a gap in the texture that would show up the cut. Makes it all the more "as if by magic" when you separate them.

More soon!


Saturday, 13 September 2014

T-34-85, Za Rodinu!

Privet Tovarishchi! Our glorious red army has received a powerful new armoured ally to help crush the fascists! Za Rodinu!

Yep, I've been painting more Bolt Action soviet gear, this time the awesome HobbyBoss T-34-85. I was going to write a bit about the T-34 but there is just so much on this legendary armoured vehicle that I'm going to wimp out and just direct you to Wikipedia. Now, a few things before we go on: First, that is a 1:48 scale vehicle, not the 1:56 scale "normally" associated with 28mm gaming. There are some historical gamers out there already burning me in effigy but bear with me. While tanks are actually always a little smaller (and much more cramped) than you imagine, there is a problem with "true" 28mm scale vehicles looking almost comically small alongside 28mm figs. The main reasons for this are: 1) the proportions, 28mm figs tend to be wider ("chunkier") than their height should indicate. 2) the base, even thin ones like Bolt Action use, raise up the infantry models even taller while the tanks lie on the table directly. So in order to make the game "feel right", Maisey (of the Beard Bunker) and I decided to use 1:48 as our preferred vehicle scale. The other advantage is that 1:48's are made for the scale modelling community and thus are incredibly well detailed.

If you've never made any historical figures the vehicles the scale modellers work with are epic in the level of detail they work in. This can mean some painfully fiddly work at times, my fumble fingered efforts with the tracks for example, but mean that all the tiny details are represented. There is even a complete interior, impossible to see unless the hatches are open. I didn't bother with the innards, keeping them for conversions, especially the stunning engine, every bit is modelled. Dozens of parts going to make up a proper, real looking engine. Destined for an Ork I think.

Before I break into the painting proper I should note a modelling consideration. It's easiest to paint these tanks with exposed running gear in sub assemblies. The wheels and sprockets pressed on to the suspension arms and the track run glued together (leave one link unglued to bend open) then disassemble it all for easy painting and (as shown here) weathering behind the road wheels.

Painting wise, Russian armour is one of the least interesting in terms of colour scheme. To paraphrase a Henry Ford quote: "Any colour as long as it's green!". In this case Val Cam Olive Green. Seriously. Almost all of this tank is simply painted in the one colour. I helped the contrasts a little with two drybrushed highlights, both a mix of Val Cam Olive Green and Val Green Grey increasing the amount of Green Grey for the second highlight. Then, seeing a need to further define the shadows, I added some black to the Val Cam Olive Green , thinned it with water and some Lahmian Medium and then ran this into the panel lines, vents, creases and shadows of the tank. The tracks got airbrushed with a Ammo Track Rust (appropriate huh?) and once dry, the contact areas all got a drybrush of AP Gunmetal. Contact areas mean the outer bits of the tracks, where the wheels run on the inside and the guide horns (those sticky-up bits on the inside of the tracks that keep them on the wheels), anywhere the tracks rub against stuff. Then it was slogan time:

my slogans came from propaganda posters found on this site
One of the more "rustic" aspects of Soviet armour in the second world war is that, unlike the fine precision of stencilled markings you see on every other army in the world at the time, they just got the crews to paint on the numbers by hand in their bestest, neatest handwriting. Thus you see a range of positioning, "fonts" and sizes. You also saw a lot of motivational slogans painted on their vehicles. This was common to most armies, you named your tanks. But the Soviets had commissars who were looking for "zeal", so zeal they got. On this tank the slogans read "I vow to destroy the enemy" and "be a hero!" both cribbed from propaganda posters of the time. These were simply hand painted on in Ceramite White as neatly as I could. For once, looking hand done would not be a problem for freehand.

Finally, in order to give the tank that "model not toy" thing and to break up an almost literal sea of green I broke out the weathering. Starting with mud build up on the running gear and tracks I used various mixes of AK Interactive/Mig Ammo enamels. Mostly Earth Effects, Fresh Mud and Dark Mud. These were loaded onto brushes and then blown off in spatters with bursts of air from the airbrush, sometimes I added dry pigments to thicken it up and make the mud more, well, muddy. This achieved I attached the running gear and moved on to putting the layers of dust and grime on the upper surfaces. A mix of AK Kursk Earth and Earth Effects was the right colour for what I had in mind. I sprayed odourless turps over the model to dampen it first then applied the enamel mix to the creases, flat surfaces and anywhere else dust would gather. As I gently dried off the result with the hair dryer I added little streaks and rainmarks with a brush, dragging it through the drying enamel to streak it. Finally I used some Streaking Grime to the upper edges of the turret to make with the muck and allowed a thin mix of the Earth Effects and Kursk Earth to pool in the fenders. Some drybrushed black near the exhausts and the gun barrel and job done.

So, do I like the result? Hell yes. I really loved the research and recreation elements (it's what draws me to historical gaming in the first place), the model is stunningly detailed for what is a (relatively) very cheap kit - I got mine for £18. With Warlord releasing Tank Wars recently as a Bolt Action supplement I foresee rather a lot of treadhead glee in my future. I'll let you know how it fares once I get it on the table.

Until next time folks