Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Men In Beige

Hi folks, got a quick one for you today, I'm definitely back to work 'cos I've had DKK on my painting table ;)

These fine looking Men In Beige are part of the ever growing horde of Death Korps of Krieg featured in previous posts. This time they came fixed to nifty Scibor resin bases for added oomph. The DKK from Forgeworld really are a consistently good model range, I've painted a bunch of them and they're now my favourite guard models. Easy to paint with their total lack of skin, atmospheric gas masks and trench-coats and best of all - on the ordinary infantry - weapons that feel a little more in scale than the norm. Great range and always a pleasure to paint.

This fine fellow for example shows just how nicely resin can give us slight undercuts and thin casts on the cloth that is really tough in metal (undercuts chew moulds and thin metal bends and tears) and damn near impossible in plastic without the most careful planning and cutting before moulding (the steel moulds that plastic is made from cannot release undercuts). That coat, in particular is a lovely piece of work. Plus the stance just oozes character despite not being able to see the face.

I've talked quite a bit about painting these guys in this scheme over the years but in the intervening time since I painted the first lot and now the paint range changed... Mercifully the replacements for the colours I was using are close enough that you really can't see too much of a difference, the brown is a little more saturated than the old Khemri Brown and the green a little paler perhaps. But not enough to make a difference, besides compared to space marines where the colour is really in your face and thus makes tiny changes in hue really noticeable, guard uniforms can vary a little without trouble.

So there you go, not a lot of content this time but some pretty pictures. Happy painting folks and


Friday, 23 January 2015

The Emperor's Justice

Ahoy shipmates, me again with the first completed commission model of PVP's second wind! He's pretty too:

Yep, amongst the first batch of figures is the relatively shiny new Imperial Guard (just can't get on with the copyright friendly Adeptus Militarum) Commissar. Like all the new plastics he's a nice clean model, crisp casting, nice details. But something has always been "off" about this one for me, now I've had him in my hands I know what it is. His proportions are crazily off. Let me explain:

If anyone knows the source of this let me know so I can properly accredit.
Humans generally follow a really, really predictable set of proportions, it's why the Vitruvian Man is such an enduring image, it shows us how we are constructed. Our reach is usually roughly equal to our height and most importantly for sculpting, we are about 7 1/2 "heads" tall (the "ideal" is 8, heroic characters like superman often drawn 9 tall). By which I mean the height of our head from top to bottom is roughly 1/7th of our overall height. Babies have much larger heads, frequently being only 2-3 heads tall. People with dwarfism also have a different head ratio. Anyway, don't get distracted, stay on target! When proportions are "off" we notice. We know something is "wrong" but often can't say what. Miniatures often look a little unreal as the demands of casting and painting tend to mean the heads and hands are a little larger than they should be. Sometimes a lot larger (*cough*GaryMorley*cough*)... and it's this that is wrong with our friend the commissar, let me demonstrate next to a better proportioned one:

Estimating the head within the cap, I got the discs and stacked them to get the overall height. The Forgeworld commissar is 6 heads tall. A little off, but just enough to make it look "miniature" not "weird". The plastic commissar? 4 1/2 heads. Seriously, we could get to almost 5 heads if we were being generous. He has a massive head emphasised further by a massive hat. It just throws the proportions of the whole model. His arms and legs look tiny despite being in scale. Now I don't want my grumbling to make it seem like I hate the thing, I don't and really enjoyed painting it. I just thought it was a really clear and useful demonstration of a common proportion flaw. So without further ado... that chain's a bit massive too... WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, painting!

I was serious above, this was a nice model to paint, clean, crisp casting, little spaces to play with some freehand, the works. Quick rundown of the basics. Model was painted using my usual black-on-black method of distinguishing areas of the model by basecoat. In this case German Camo Black-Brown for the coat and German Grey for the uniform and cap. The metalwork got basecoated and then a heavy black wash got all those colours to black-with-a-brown/grey-tint. Highlighting began with the original colours and then Rakarth Flesh was added to the coat highlights (for worn leather) and some Administratum Grey for the cloth. The client's army has used green rather than red for all the spot colours so Caliban Green started that off. All the braid and edging got my pseudo NMM gold - getting better at this, might have to re-do the tutorial. I'm not a big fan of NMM on a whole model, but on things that are "Goldey Looking" not gold it works great. Face and details picked out (weirdly easy to paint the face, odd that...) and some basing and he was all but done.

But the edge of the coat cried out for that little bit extra. I've been a little gunshy about freehand lately. It was the thing that made my tendons hurt the most during the RSI recovery and afterwards my hand was just too stiff to get the loose flowing lines you need for good freehand. But I thought, "what the hell, I can just repaint the green if I need to" and went for it. Val Green Grey picked out the dodgey latin (sorry High Gothic) and then a couple of glazes of Warpstone Glow made it look like brighter versions of the green below. Very happy with the result and indeed the pseudo NMM on those edges. The trick with any freehand like this is don't do it all in one go. Paint the simple lines, go over again to thicken and define them. Fix any wobbly bits with the base colour and then in this case add seriphs to make your lettering look more professional. Done! What's a serif? This:

No, seriously, it's the twiddly bits on fonts like Times New Roman that are missing on Arial and it's ilk. Worth doing when painting as it stops your freehand lettering looking like handwriting as almost no-one seriphs their handwriting. That's all for today folks, more next week :) As always, questions and comments welcome. Happy painting.


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Windmills on my Mind Part 2 - Painting and Glee

Hi folks, remember this: Windmills... Part 1? Don't blame you, it was back in October, granted, the very last day of October but still, that was a long time back. To be honest, it's been a dry spell for hobby for me. It's actually been two full months since a painted model rocked up on this blog. Just one of those things. But now, I have a biggie to start 2015 with:

Bring on Quixote! The windmill is complete. I waxed rhapsodic about this last time so I'll try to keep my hyperbole to a safe minimum but whoa. The quality of the work Tabletop World put into their sculpting just leaps out when you spend hours painting the thing. Best of all, like all the best models, it started to tell me a story through the little details. It's starting to look tatty, the shingles are starting to break (bad when you want nice dry flour). It clearly isn't being well maintained. The story that rolls in my mind is that the miller is currently in military service (there's a war on after all) and his wife and - what the heck, lets add a child - daughter are keeping the mill working in his absence. The ladies are going to have to get brave and fix that roof and sails soon or there won't be much of a mill left.

I tried to take some step by step shots of the stonework as I went but ohdeargod did the camera hate me. It just looked grey in every step. So I'll just talk you through it. Skavenblight Dinge covers the entire thing in a nice stoney basecoat. Technically you could just start highlighting there and then but to make it look better we need to force some tonal variation into the grey. Tonal variation is totally going to be the words of the day for this post, if it was a video I'd keep a little counter on screen with a "ping" every time I said it. So anyway, tonal variation (ping): I got out of my paint boxes every single vaguely grey, beige, grey-brown, greyish green, greyish blue, all of them. Each got mixed with Skavenblight Dinge and then painted over a stone. I'd wager each colour only appears on about a dozen stones on the whole windmill. Tiny variations but enough to give that natural variety. Then a pair of highlights, first with Administratum Grey then Longbeard Grey put a common theme all the way through the stonework while defining the texture. Stonework is fairly easy but time consuming.

Woodwork went a slightly different path. I then sloshed Badab Black over the German Camo Black-Brown basecoat to define the shadows. Three highlights followed, all drybrushed, first German Camo Black-Brown again, then two highlights of German Camo Black-Brown mixed with Administratum Grey (2:1 then 1:2). Old wood isn't very brown, it's more grey-ish. Tonal variation (ping) was added by using thin glazes of other browns to make the planks individual. Into the recesses of the shingles (deliberately left the planks underneath the shingles free of green) I added several layers of green enamel weathering paints in order to make a mossy vibe to the recesses. Unfortunately as they are beautifully translucent the camera ignores them. Grrr. The metalwork is just AP Gunmetal mixed with black, washed black and a thin glaze of Ammo Rust Streaks.

The windows are Val Dark Sea Blue, washed with black and gloss varnished. The window leads are then painted the same dark metal as the roof but without the rust streaks as lead doesn't rust like that. A nice by product of washing the leading was matt areas around the leading looking like muck building up.

Around the base of the tower I needed to get some muck and dirt that the wind, rain, passing cows etc have stained the stonework with. For this, I again turned to enamel weathering paints. Streaking Grime, Winter Streaking Grime and Dark Streaking for Green Vehicles (essentially, muddy brown, muddy green and a stronger slime green) were variously heavily stippled around the base of the tower. Odourless thinner was used to soften the intensity and fade out the colours before a second round of green was applied to the lowest stones. It looks good in the photos but so much better in person. Superb stuff. Technically the colours I was using were AK Interactive bought a while ago, these days I prefer to buy from Ammo of Mig Jimenez because reasons. Now I've rabbited on about these paints a lot over the last few years. They've completely replaced pigments in my work because they don't rub off, can be removed if you make a mistake and do almost everything pigments can do. Heck, if you add some plaster of paris they can do everything pigments can do. Pigments are great for dioramas and display models. They can't be beaten for conveying the physical presence of dust and rust etc. But dioramas are not touched. Wargaming models are, a lot. So for that reason, enamels is now my go-to weathering product. For as long as I've rabbited on about these things I've said "I must get a tutorial or something worked out". Well here it is, sorta:

Left to right: Dots and streaks applied, first "stumping", second "stumping" see below

The sails are another of those jaw-dropping Tabletop World creations, it would have been easier and more cost efficient to produce one sail and cast four for each windmill. Tabletop World instead made each one unique. It really helps the overall look of the mill and I applaud craftsmen taking decisions to make a quality product rather than just to increase the profitability of a product. After doing the woodwork and attendant metal banding (so, so many bands, twitch), it was time to look at the sails. A mixture of Val Stone Grey and Deck Tan makes a lovely canvas tone but isn't terribly good at coverage so three thin basecoats later I had the main colour. Highlighting simply careful drybrushing of a lighter (more Deck Tan) version of the same mix and then pure deck tan focussing on where the gorgeously thin sails tent over the wooden frame. The ropes were picked out in a more yellowish tone (sorry, didn't write down which) and then shaded with enamel Streaking Grime. I used the enamels as I knew what was coming next.

Lining up nigh on all the enamel weathering paints I had (except for rust and slimy green) I started putting dots and streaks along the length of the sail (leftmost picture above). This will look awful but trust the pirate viking. Give it a few minutes or so to dry off a little (enamel paints can take anything up to a day to cure, it's one of many reasons why they're useless for painting the main body of the model) and then we start "stumping". Stumping is when we take a clean brush, damped down with odourless turpentine or the more aggressive white spirit, and smear and fade the marks we made in stage one. Think about the direction the rain and other factors will move the muck in. The result was the middle photo, more subtle, but still a bit too "painted" for my tastes. A second stumping resulted in beautiful, subtle, washed-out, difficult to photograph muck. Brilliant. Mig has a bunch of tutorials on his site that explain it much, much, much better but there you have it!

After fitting the sails (made much, much easier by the prep work done in part one) I couldn't resist throwing a realm of battle tile and some trees down and seeing how it looks. Pretty damn good I think! One day I might make a base for it to give a bit more story (sacks of grain, worn path leading to the door etc) but that does limit where I can place the mill during terrain deployment. We shall see. Tabletop world assure me that they are making more cottagey type buildings to go with the grand urban structures so the village will grow. Speaking of story, in game I was thinking of some rules to reflect the mill's more unique features. Usual rules for occupying buildings but the building gains flammable despite being stone as flour dust? That stuff is explosive:

Doesn't seem like there'd be enough dry dust to take out the building but having flaming weapons deal double wounds... that seems enough. All in all, a really fun project and I can't wait to get my hands on another building so the village can grow. Tabletop World, I applaud you.

Feel free to throw questions and comments at me below, until next time folks.


Friday, 2 January 2015

Happy New Year and... We're Back!

Hi folks, first, from Mulder, Mrs PVP and I a heartfelt happy new year to one and all.

Mulder parties hard
I think, along with a lot of people, 2014 will be a year we want to mostly forget, here's to 2015 being made entirely of win. Oddly, part of that win is the resumption - in a much reduced capacity - of commercial operations here at PVP HQ. When I closed PVP a while ago now it was largely because I couldn't maintain capacity and protect my wrist (RSI) and couldn't see a way to it ever making enough to support me properly. However, after months looking for work in a still very unfriendly economy. With being "unemployed guy" doing me no favours at all and there being no obvious disadvantages to running a business making not a lot at all. I'm thus reopening until I find something more permanent!

I am changing the way I work a little, want to stick to my strengths rather than offering a service that others can do cheaper. My strength has always been crafting exactly what a client wants for character rather than churning out basecoat-drybrush-wash hordes. Have a look at the hire us section for details. I've raised the prices a little - but here's the thing, I still won't even make minimum wage on these prices - but you'll get the care and attention that I lavish on everything. I paint better than I photograph so the results are even better in the flesh. The main reason for the change is to allow me to also have time for the other half of the business that I occasionally post here, bespoke props for LARP.

I don't know how long it'll last, I might suddenly get a full time job offer and need to close down again, but with the rise of part time contracts being the norm I expect to be able to keep it going a while :)

Hobby content will be cranking up again in the next few weeks, got all sorts of projects in the works so painted miniatures all over the shop soon :) Until then, here are two funky sword gifs as a late christmas present.

from the sublime...

...to the ridiculous