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