Friday, 28 February 2014

Corsair Queen

Hi folks, very quick update to finish off the week. Remember me saying that I had finished all the Corsair infantry? Forgot one!

While I will get to the painting in a minute, first I wanted to talk about the process of deciding on a "look" as it was a meandering one this time. I'm not sure what the original donor model was but it has had a new arm, head and hair added by my client. Now, the body was female, the head, more androgenous and sharper than you would normally sculpt "feminine". Nothing wrong with that but it started me thinking how to paint her so that she wouldn't look "ugly". Then I was looking at the sculpting of the rest of it. Thick cloak, trimmed with fur, an elegant dress/armour, pose quite static... I started to think, an older woman. Then the concept came together, a matriach of the Corsairs. An aging, still potent queen to command them.

Once this had crystallised it informed the rest of the scheme. It helps to get that story sorted so that all the pieces fit. Otherwise, there isn't much to talk about on this one that hasn't been said elsewhere in the corsair posts. I took the armour more coppery this time as she needed to stand out a little. I also used a trick I'd figured out on The Doctor to do the hair. Didn't want her completely grey, just greying. So you paint the base colour on and then "highlight" the streaks with increasingly light shades of grey miced into the base colour. Not great for photography but nice enough in real life!

Anyway, like I say, just a quickee. Enjoy the weekend folks


Thursday, 27 February 2014

Officers and Gentlemen

Hi folks, this is - I think - the penultimate Leviathan project post. This time, there are quite a lot of other people's officers in the post...

You see, aside from the two on the left in the photo above, all the officers in this post come from armies of other bloggers - friends of my client - who are having liason officers represented as part of the command staff. I think this is a cracking idea. Gaming groups are great ways to have cross-pollination of armies. The Beard Bunker has things like zombies in the colour of Charlie's Empire, giants wearing trousers made of each other's banners. All sorts. It creates lovely instant visual stories. But first, lets take a look at the ones that don't "belong" to other people.

The first two had fairly straightforward briefs, one was to be a modern British Guards redcoat and the other was simply black uniform with green accents - he has a painted on armband that is almost invisible in the shots. Both got my usual trick of seperating areas of black by changing the highlight colour (Val German Camo Black-Brown for leather and Val German Grey for cloth), as always, much more apparent in real life than through the lens. With the black uniformed chap I decided that the faux-gold epaulettes that I had been painting for the others wouldn't work. He needed silver. That meant experimenting with not-really-NMM silver. I can't I have it quite there yet, need to prat about a bit more before I am confident giving a method for cloth silver. Essentially it boils down to deep contrasts. I think I could have pulled up the highlights a bit more, especially for photography, but it looked right so I stopped. One of these days I'll have it figured.

The not-really-NMM gold that I am using for the other epaulettes has mutated into a comfortable routine of:

  1. Basecoat XV-88 (stupid bloody name, worse than the fang, it's a tan-ish yellow)
  2. Wash in Seraphim Sepia
  3. Highlight two or three time with increasing amounts of white mised in with the XV-88, at a rough guess I'd say I normally go (XV-88:White), 1:2, 1:1, 2:1
  4. Glaze with Casadora Yellow, using the wash rather than the glaze imparts a warmer tone.
  5. Rehighlight with the top mix of XV-88:White.
It most certainly isn't NMM, that requires huge effort and not a little raw talent. This is a decent analogue for making gold coloured cloth so it doesn't look like you have solid metal shoulder plates. Incidently, I was struck by how nifty the "redcoat guards" scheme looked. Goes to show, when designing colour schemes, look at real world options. Someone out there has gone to huge effort to make it look good already, steal their work!

Speaking of other people's work. These two are the first of the other bloggers army section. They are both from the Palladian Guard belonging to Colonel Scipio (really hoping I've captured the look of all these armies by the way). My client had rounded up the reference material from his mates and got them to give me a nod about what colours they had used. Often, with the change in colour palettes I had to do some colour conversion jiggery pokery but I think they've worked out. In this case the interesting thing for me was the white. Ask any painter, getting black and white to work are real bears of problems. Especially if you want it fast. Well, I might have done it. If you have a bunch of white to paint on a model like this, use the following method: Spray undercoat white; paint with a thinned coat of Celestra Grey (you want it a little thicker than a wash but not much), finish with two thinned higlights of Ceramite White. Thinning the white gives it a translucent quality that allows you to build up intensity without the dreaded chalkiness. Seemed to work. Now working over a white undercoat creates other problems. Basecoats for other colours - especially dark ones - need about three/four layers to be solid. After this experiance I recommend mixing 50:50 basecoat and black for the first basecoat. Cuts the repeats down to two, three at worst.

The next is from the Glorious Mordian 7th. I don't have a blog to link to for this one but I was sent reference material. Worth noting that the black in this one is actually much more blue than the camera detected. I used Kantor Blue to highlight the black and gave the whole thing a Gulliman Blue glaze to really "blue" the black. Of course, the first thing the lighting does is shear through those delicate glazes and goes "Here ya go buddy, black. Enjoy!"

Finally, we have two Cadians. The first is from the Cadian 127th  featuring an almost leather brown uniform (Mournfang brown, shaded with Agrax Earthshade and highlighted with the addition of Skrag Brown to the Mournfang) and a curious green made from Caliban Green highlighted with Loren Forest. I rather like it. Filed for the future. I'm fairly chuffed with how the medals came out on this chap. Might finally have cracked how to make them look like medal ribbons (mostly colour selections and only vertical stripes).

And finally one of Admiral Drax's Cadian 24th. The two greens (Castellan and Caliban) work nicely together and create a decent soldierly look (not that the others weren't). Worth noting is that the Cadian Gate and the numeral were freehanded on both. I figured it would be quicker and easier to do so than applying transfers to curved surfaces, seemed to be right. If people are curious - and are fed up of transfers - here's a slightly "how to suck eggs" guide on getting the Cadian Gate in the right place on the shoulder pad.

Slightly counter intuitively, do not start at the top and work down, just like with lettering where you want to start with the middle letter and work outward so that spacing is correct, for example "CADIA":


Meaning that you know it will fit in the space. In this case it is the circle (I think it represents Cadia itself). Place it where it should go on the pad. Start small and add more paint until it is the right size. Taking back is harder than putting on. Next paint a straight line across the top of the dot, mark a point above the midline of the line you've drawn that is the height you want the triangle. Now, using that as a guide, draw lines from the two ends of that first line to join is up. You always want to pull away from the corners as that is where the sharpest mark will be made with the brush. Do the same at the apex of the triangle to sharpen that. Finally, fill in the white and add the supports for the "roof". You'll find that the proportions are always correct even if the size varies slightly from model to model.

And with that we are done! There's only 3 or 4 of the Leviathan command staff left to go so this project is almost over. Still some eldar tankage to paint but then we'll be moving into the very last PVP commission project. Its a doozy too, a whole pile of individual Inq28 warbands and some vehicles to go with them. Can't think of a better way to finish this little adventure. Until next time folks.


Tuesday, 25 February 2014

My 54mm Inquisitor Collection - All For Sale

**EDIT: Everything here has been sold! That is a new PVP record. Should anything fall through for any reason I'll reopen the sale. Otherwise, enjoy the pretty pictures!**

Hi folks, today I am putting up pictures of what was a big chunk of my gaming life but has since rather withered on the vine. Inquisitor when it came out was a revalation to me and the large scale 54mm miniatures were a lot of fun to paint. Sadly, I think I am done with it. These days I'm more likely to go 28mm scale and adapt the rules. So I am selling everything, priced more than fairly.

You'll notice some of them are a tad battered, some in distinct state of disrepair. There's a story to that. I took them into the Oxford shop one day (where I worked) because we were doing a specialist games weekend and I said I'd show them off. One of the lads, excited, asked if he could pick one up for a closer look. "Sure!" said I. Bless him, when he got it to eye level it slipped and smashed down right into the gang. I don't think anything survived unscathed. I had to go and have a quiet moment to myself as the kid looked so sick with shame and fear that I think he would have committed seppuku with a craft knife if I had handed him one. I had a moment, forgave him and then figured out some new conversions and poses with the most broken figures. Not all are finished. Those are priced accordingly. So, without further ado: How this works. There is a price under every model in the captions. Everything sold as seen. First come (by email time stamp) first served. Note that under the Royal Mail's pricing policy all small parcels cost about the same so there is a flat £3 p&p in the UK no matter how many you buy. Contact me with the "contact us" bar above.

There is also the option to just buy everything. This will be £300 saving £37 on buying individually. I'll adjust those numbers if things sell.

I want 'em gone to good homes folks. Adopt an inquisitor today:

#001 Space Marine - £20

#002 Converted Pilot - £18

#003 Converted Inquisitor - £18

#004 Veteran - £18

#005 Converted Priest - £18

#006 Reposed Redemptionist - £18

#007 Converted Assassin - £18
#008 The Biggie: Converted Chaos Space Marine, lots of work in this - £40

#009 Converted, unpainted Inquisitor - £15

#010 Half Painted Tech-Priest - £15

#011 Converted Sniper, rifle was destroyed in The Incident - £12
#012 Unpainted Archoflagellant - £12

#013 Unpainted Chaos Magus conversion - £15

#014 Reconverted, unpainted Priest - £15
#015 Cyber Mastiff - £8

#016 Archao-flagellant 1 - £12

#017 Archaoflagellent 2 - £12

#018 Witch Hunter Tyrus - £12

#019 Eisenhorn bits - £8

#020 Sister assassins with - for some reason - extra legs - £18

#021 BITZ! - £15

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Mage Hunting Storm Guardians

Hi folks, complex title, no? Well, its a relatively simple story. My corsair client included a box of Privateer Press Mage Hunters along with the Eldar and asked whether I could make them into storm guardians. I did my usual thing of saying "sure!" with the mental caveat of "...but I'm not sure how...", despite this, I was able to produce... this:

If you follow the link above you can see the base models I was working from, I also had the presence of mind to photograph the models in progress (I wanted to get client's OK that I was on the right track) so you can see what alterations were made:

Most of the work was carving away catapults from the hands of the "rifleman" poses. The donor models are from Warmachine and have the usual Privateer sculpting quirks (A rather anime feel to hair and features, odd straps and floating armour plates) but some are actually really nice, the cloak sculpt on the second row down first on the left is lovely. I tend to find this with Privateer Press. Some absolutely lovely sculpting amongst some fairly pedestrian stuff. The tendency to add detail for detail's sake (non-functional straps etc) is irksome but it fits their slightly anime style. Anyway! On to painting!

I was in a quandry about which colours to put where. I needed them to be reminiscent of the other corsair models despite clearly not being such. Initially I was musing on making the cloaks urban camoflauge as they seemed to have a "ranger-ey" feel to them. But this just looked awful. Seriously, just bad. At times like that you swallow the gaff and rethink! I decided that the main body would be the dark grey of the armour plates from other corsairs. The cloaks would need to be grey, but as I've mentioned before you can change the tone of a grey and thus differentiate between discrete areas of a model. In this case it was a shift from the neutral grey tone of Administratum Grey shaded with lots'o'black to Val German Grey. It has a blue-er tone that works nicely. Red accents and piping along with the metal-red-bronze gloves and the weird clips on the hoods provide an analogue to the face masks and gauntlets of the armoured models.

This is the model I'm happiest with in terms of the conversion. It was one of those that once I'd dry fitted some parts just fell together. He's a mage hunter commander and I think the Eldar componants actually work better than the kit parts. He's got a lovely pose and flow. Happy Jeff is happy.

Well, those are the last of the Eldar Infantry, it's vehicles all the way now to project completion. I'll be mixing them among the Imperial commissions I'm working through to spare my wrist too many of those hexes in one go. Until next time folks


Friday, 14 February 2014

Slayers Might Fly

Hi folks, been a bit quiet hasn't it? I've been on a family-visit-o-thon with Mrs PVP for the last week, slightly extended due to seriously atrocious weather (for Britain). As is my wont, I tend to warm up on a personal model after an extended break - its incredible how stiff even a week off can make me feel. Stupid wrist, grump - and what a model I had to work on:

Yep, for anyone who knows me, it is not even a small surprise that I laid my hands on the new Slayer the day he came out. I knew he was waiting for me at the shop when I got back from hols and figured a reletively simple colour scheme like him was the perfect choice to warm up. Before I natter about paint, I really, really need to talk about this model. Caution, probable hyperbole ahead ;)

Firstly, take a look at that sprue. At the cutting. Just drink it in. Seriously, this sort of thing just wasn't possible before CAD/Hybrid sculpting came in. The way the sculptor (I wish they signed these things on the sprues) has divided the parts in order to create undercuts on the finished model is genius. Look at the way the head seperates from the body. Then there is the hair. Oh my god the hair. The hair is an absolute masterstroke. I've never seen crested hair done better. When the inevitable plastic slayers come, if citadel don't do this for the units they have missed a massive trick. Oh, and even with such a simple model there are full instructions with the parts numbered in the order you assemble it. Take note Forgeworld y'slackers. One final note for the rumour mongers and doomsayers out there - people have been talking about cancelled armies for 2014 because of 2013's financials - look at the date. 2012. GW do not work on this years armies this year. This model has been ready for a minimum of 13 months. More like eighteen. Can we all calm down on excusing made up rumours as "GW cancelling things". If things are cancelled then they are not for this year. It's for 2015-16.

So, back to painting! I've talked about the basics of slayer painting (oddly over at the Beard Bunker for once) so I won't worry too much about the essence. I'll talk about what is different. Well, first, I've finally found a reliable black wash. It's Black Ink in Lahmian Medium. That's all. Not as good as Badab Black but as good as we're going to get in this dreary Nuln Oil coloured world. Nuln Oil has it's uses but for pure black: stick to ink. I also warmed the hair with ink having taken it a little too light. A glaze of chestnut ink brought it back nicely. Sadly all the wash and glaze layers while providing a lovely tone and contrast in real life don't pick up the shadows on camera. Sigh. There is a reason for "studio style" after all. I also took the time to paint the shadow of his shaved head on the sides. I followed a modified method from the old white dwarf article "Painting Faces Redux". Pdfs float about out there, I urge you to look it up. Great article. Mix Cadian Fleshtone at a 2:1:1 ratio with Val German Camo Brown-Black and Administratum Grey and then really, really dilute it. Two-three thin glazed layers make a lovely realistic 5 O'clock shadow. Rehighlight with the skin colours and you're there.

I wanted to minimise the stone dragon on the base. I think it pulls attention away from the Slayer in the studio scheme. Instead I thought I'd really go for the ancient forgotten stones of Karak Hoch (my hold in our Beard Bunker campaign). My usual go to of Skavenblight Dinge, Stormvermin Fur and Terminatus Stone made the base colour of the stonework. I then glazed it over with streaks of AK Winter Streaking Grim to get a general dirty green tint (stronger in real life, you can see it on the left better) and applied a few stipples of Tyrant Skull as lichen. Then some undergrowth to further age it. First a few clumps of moss tufts from Antenocetis Workshop. These are like the normal grass tufts but are trimmed to about 1mm. They make cracking moss. Also from Antenoceti, the ivy strands help to make it disappear behind undergrowth. Hopefully this means you see the Slayer first. Then notice an ivy covered lump, then identify the ivy covered lump as a nifty stone dragon. That's the theory anyway.

I can safely say that this is one of my favourite figures, I just love the design, the pose, the cleverness of the cutting and use of the material, the dynamic sense, everything. I almost rushed this one, so excited was I to be painting him. Plus he needed to match my existing Slayers. I strongly expect to paint him again at some point. Maybe as part of a duel, because I think I have finally found an opponant to one of my other favourite plastic models of recent years, this chap...

Image from Games Workshop purely for illustrative purposes.

So yep... that's gonna happen! I've not done a diorama before, could be fun! Anyway, I'm back to work now, finished the Slayer this morning so you can expect more pretty Eldar any day now. Until next time


Thursday, 6 February 2014

Walk Without Rhythm, A Bones Review

Heya folks, in my quest to find ever weirder things to paint and for nifty roleplay scenario options. I found myself on Reaper's website looking at their Bones range. For those unaware of this, Reaper have made a range of ultra low cost plastic model backed by a ridiculously successful Kickstarter. They are mostly casts of existing Reaper models with a few genuinely new sculpts. I picked up a few of the more unique examples to have a go with and thought I'd share my thoughts.

The one that I got painted was the Purple Worm. I figured it would be a nice "natural" hazard, bursting from the ground to nom unsuspecting adventurers. Plus, I have a lingering fondness for Dune so it was a win in both respects. I added some rubble to the base and cleaned the mold lines - more on that below - but otherwise it is exactly how it comes from the blister pack.

I'd seen advice that the Bones models did not need priming. I was... sceptical to say the least but indeed the paint seemed to go on just fine EDIT: Yes... just fine, BUT you can't thin it on that first coat. Got to be neat otherwise what happened to Phil in the comments happens. I went for variations on Castellan Green, using Karak Stone as a highlight and going much further into Karak Stone on the "underbelly" if a cylinder can be said to have an "under" anything. You need to take care to shade the mouth to give a sense of depth (the sculpt is quite shallow to prevent the dreaded undercut) but otherwise, fairly straightforward. The plastic glues with superglue, not as well as resin, not as problematic as metal. Somewhere in between.

I've also got a blister of kobolds to see how the material worked with smaller componants. Now, they're almost impossible to photograph well without painting and they're not done yet so you'll have to take my word on this. The material is strange. Firm, certainly isn't a true "soft plastic". But it is certainly not rigid either, you can bend spears and other thin componants fairly easily. They don't snap but it's a bother to get them exactly back straight as the shape memory is good, but not perfect. Details are cast well enough, a little softer than a comparable hard plastic sculpt would be. But certainly not bad. The real problem is cleaning them. Oh dear gods, removing mold lines from these is horrible. On a par with Mantic and Privateer Press' "Restic" material. The yielding nature of the plastic means that you cannot scrape the lines, nor can you file them as the file chews through the material and will rapidly destroy your model. No, just like Restic you have to slice the mold lines off with a sharp knife. Essentially carefully judging curves and details so you don't cut anything off, take a look at the worms belly, see that flat section in the middle of the underbelly? Trying to remove mold lines.

I think I get why, these models really are not for people who want a competition level of painting. They're for people who want to slap a basecoat on, dip them in AP strong tone and slap them on a table. I'm sure they'll serve very well in that role. For me? Certainly not an everyday option. Big stuff with thick limbs and the like? Sure. Small and fiddly? Not so much. Andy over at Lair of the Breviks has a good review too which you should read in conjunction with mine. I'd be interested in your thoughts and experiances too, Bones, for you? Or not? Until next time folks


Monday, 3 February 2014

War... War Never Changes

Greetings one and all, so there I was, grumbling about how photography hasn't been able to capture my work of late when I had a mini revalation. Instead of grumbling, I could spend a few laborious hours fiddling with settings with a book on photography on one knee and the camera manual on the other. After much trial and error - I still don't fully understand the interactions of the various values - I hit on the combination of aperture priority, the lowest f-stop I can crank it down to and the lowest ISO setting. You need good lighting and a tripod to do that but it really captures colours a whole lot better! The two posts after Sister of Biggles were both done with this setting and the colours are great. Suddenly, I realised: I'd painted a bunch of grungy fallout stuff (waaay back in May 2013) that had utterly failed to photograph satisfactorily! I could share it! So... here it is!

Fallout (3 especially) is one of those computer games that grabbed me from the moment you emerge blinking into the post apocalyptic dawn. At the earliest stages of Fallout 3 you are stumbling around a wilderness, disorientated and with minimal weaponry and then you hear strident martial music playing. It gets louder and then is revealed as belonging to what is essentially the mutant offspring of a boombox and a hoverboard. It's the Eyebot. These models are all the creation of Brother Vinni miniatures who seems to specialise in scantily clad people and well-executed copyright breaches. Seriously, though, his fallout inspired stuff is gorgeous and seems to be evading Bethesda's wrath.

The Eyebot is almost insultingly easy to paint. Steel colour. Wash black. Apply layers of AK Interactive Rust Streaks. Done. It'd make for a brilliant alternative to a servo skull for a less mystically involved Imperial character I reckon. In any Fallout themed game, it's a ball of steel with a boombox and a freakin' laser gun!

Next up are a couple of Brotherhood of Steel types. He's got three varients of which this one with the gattling laser is by far the best. I've loved the BoS power armour for a while. The helmet shape (so much like my beloved terminators) the hanging loops allowing the wearer to have the heavy torso winched off them.

Painting both of them was remarkably similar to the eyebot. I got a decent steel coat by the usual sequential drybrushes of the three AP steel colours. Then I drabbed it down and shaded it with Nuln Oil and once dry attacked it with AK Rust Streaks, Engine Oil and Winter Streaking Grime. The great thing about those enamel weathering paints is that you can faff about with them, adding and removing with turps to your heart's content. The Odorless Turpentine that is used does nothing to acrylic paint. So you can fiddle until done knowing that you aren't going to harm the base colours.

Another style of armour from the game, this Enclave Tesla Armour wound up getting identical treatment, but afterwards I went in and did a bunch of object source lighting around the glowing plasma elements to really bring the gun out. Don't ask me what I used, it was almost a year ago, I'm afraid I've forgotten. But the principles that I talked about in the Librarian (another candidate for new photos to be taken) article hold true. Establish how far you want the light to radiate and keep it consistant. Don't go for too much illumination or it will look like the model is in the dark, then the basing will look weird (it should be greys and blues at night see).

And finally, the faithful Protectron that started it all, I talked about it here. Brother Vinni has just released a decent Mr Gutsy so I might need to get my hands on that on that. Seeing and reshooting these folks again has rather reawakened my interest in Fallout gaming. I can see me fiddling a bit more with it on a very small scale basis. Anyhow, until next time folks.