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.