Sunday, 25 December 2016

Merry Christmas Everyone

source: WolfSkullJack
A very merry Christmas and adjacent holidays to you all. May 2017 treat us all a little kinder.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Frostgrave: Two more for the Frozen City

Hi folks! In a change to our scheduled programming we're taking a seasonal plunge into winter cold and fantastical locations. Yep, we're back in Frostgrave.

This time I'm bringing a knight and an archer to the party. I decided to keep the Dark Age feel going with the knight and realised that a repurposed Rohan captain would pass muster. I always wanted a mix of fantasy races in the warband so another LOTR figure - the dwarf with the deformed eye - joined up as well. Let's start with him.

In addition to a mix of races, I wanted the warband to have a rag-tag feel rather than a complete mercenary company with uniforms. As a result I'm just choosing whatever colours that I think will suit the model. In this case, green would stand out nicely against the more russet knight and the tartan infantryman already. The pale under-tunic is stone grey which I also used to highlight the green. Helps tie the colours together and gives the whole model a consistent tone.

The knight needed a bit of thought. With the horses on the shield, I needed to stay a long way away from the greens of most of Rohan. Decided that reds and russet browns would be my go-to on the knight. Vallejo Hull Red made a really, really nice russet brown for the cloak, shading with carroburg crimson, over-highlighting with a bit of bone and then knocking back to red-brown with a mix of chestnut and red inks. It's not quite as shiny as it seems. Sadly, I've got to wait for better weather to get some dullcote on there. The rest of the model pretty much used all the brown tones I usually have lying around. The end result, a nice, muted knight, not flashy, a "professional".

With those two - fairly quick - paintjobs done, my warband is almost 50% complete. Three out of seven (well, 11 if you include the zombie and three demons I need to paint) is an agreeable bit of progress. More soon! Until then.


Thursday, 15 December 2016

The Future Belongs to the Mad

Hi folks, yes, the Fury Road reference in the title means that it is our fourth and final vehicle in the Post Apocalyptic car commission.

This one, with it's girt hench engine, I decided was the personal transport of some important gang member and thus has nicer paint and less damage than the others. It can outrun anything else on the road so sees less combat... or something.

I'll be honest, I think this one is the weakest construction of the four. I was trying to get a Zinge engine designed to replace ork trucks (approximate scale 1/35) into a 1/43 scale vehicle. It was just farcically vast and simply would not fit in any satisfying way. Eventually I broke out my post apocalyptic scrap mechanic head and figured a cut-and-shut job on the front would "work". I added an extra set of wheels mainly to hide gaps and did some welded on plates to stabilise the build. Unfortunately I just don't have the scratch building chops to do what I could see in my head so this had to do. Some Russian submachine guns in the headlamps and a random bit of stowage helped the overall effect.

The only classic car colour I hadn't really used is that lovely red that you see on Morse's car. Finding that shade can be tricky but thankfully there is a paint that fits the bill and is good for this one job. Vallejo Model Colour "Red". Just "Red". Nothing else. It's a horrible paint that dries very different to the colour in the bottle and is very, very shiny. I've found no other use for it (it came in a multipack)... but for this, it was perfect. So as usual I rusted the hell out of the car, put the red on and was feeling good.

I decided that the business end needed some fancification, plus, the steel plates down the side needed to be linked to the rest of the build. Black flames that lap over the plates seemed to fit the bill. The tarpaulin on the top gave me some pause. Initially, I thought to have one of those cheap blue jobs, but the blue would have looked horrible against the rest of the scheme. So a camo tarp like you see on survivalist webpages worked better.

And here they all are. I've enjoyed this project, been a lot of fun to flex my converting muscles and with Fury Road being one of my favourite films of the last ten years it's inspired me a bit. I'll almost certainly return to a post apocalyptic setting at some point. I think I want a gang of road warriors of my very own some day. But for now, that's that. Final few Shadows of Brimstone models up soon. Until then


Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Shadows of Brimstone: Part Four

Hello there happy people, we're back with another whistle stop tour of progress on the Shadows of Brimstone commission!

It's going to be a bit whistle-stop because these were (with the exception of the scout) some of the, how to put this politely, less exceptional sculpts... So I don't have a huge amount to say. These were all either possessing odd proportions or strange fabric flows, some had anatomy problems, most had disappearing details (belts that start on one side and vanish on the other). There's only so much you can do with that sort of thing, so here we are.

We'll start with the best of the bunch. The scout (who I could not get properly in focus, rackum frackum grr) was the nicer of the four, although even she had a levitating rifle necessitating a rock under it and a face that was way more "standard white girl" than Native American. Using this as another occasion to play with my skin tones palette, I checked some references and set to. Given that "tanned but rosy" would be how I would describe the average tone, Bugman's Glow seemed the ideal starting point. This was shaded down with Reikland Fleshshade and then highlighted with increasing amounts of Cadian Fleshtone with a dash of Kislev Flesh for the final highlights. Then I glazed it back down with a thinned Seraphim Sepia. The buckskin clothing was various sand tones and I finished her off with the details from the picture on the card, warpaint, belt etc.

The gunslinger was another "alright" model, face was a bit weird, eyes almost missing. This one was painted to match the card and as a result doesn't work quite as well as a miniature, because artists can choose how their paintings are lit it doesn't matter if you have dark hair, dark hat, dark jacket. It all just works. With a miniature, you'd normally want to change up the tone a little, have some contrast breaks in the overall effect. She looks fine in person, you can see all the changes in which black I'm using, in photography? Not so much.

The Marshal is pretty much a twin of her sister model from back in part one. Just with physics defying coat added. Seriously sculptors. Look at the hair, look at the coat, look at the hair, answer me what is wrong with that picture... Again, colours from the card but this time a bit more mini-friendly!

This last one, the outlaw, I'm including for a sense of completeness, do not like this one at all, bizarre sculpted coat (although at least hair is normal), eyes in the wrong place on the head (nothing I could do about that). The only one of the whole lot of models I just have to say: Bad about. Considering the amount of complaining I've seen about the models online I'm surprised she's the only one. I will say that the casting is not great on a lot of them - the six that are last all have holes in really critical locations, one on the face and all need sculpting to fix - but people seem to be grumbling about the sculpts when it is the cheap casting that's at fault. Except for the outlaw. She's just bad. End of grumble.

Sorry this one seems grumpy, this batch has been somewhat trying so finding nice things to say can be tough. Promise I'll be cheerier next time! Until then.


Friday, 25 November 2016

Die Historic on the Fury Road!

It's that time again! Spray yourself chrome and jam the pedal to the metal. It's more Mad Max-esque stuff:

This time we're going for something a little bit more ponderous in appearance. The "breacher", as I've been calling it, is built for all terrain grunt rather than top speed. I like the idea of it being a blocking vehicle or slamming through an enemy's fortifications while the turret gunner keeps them pinned down.

As with all the rest, this starts with an elderly 1:43 kit, a Peugeot this time I think, and some Zinge tracks. I made a frame of thick plasticard rods to replace the axles and attach the tracks to. I had to cut away some of the lower parts of the bodywork to allow the tracks to fit in, likewise, the bonnet needed a hole in it to make the engine fit. I chopped out the boot space and replaced it with a big ol' oil drum in order to make it seem like a fuel-hungry engine was involved in hauling the tracks along. A sort of turret-ey thing with a soviet machine gun and a bit of bent armour plating for an improvised dozer blade finished it off.

The Mad Max series of models has all started the same way, solid layer of rust to begin with, then layer on other colour where it needs it. Here, I decided that a bottle green would go well with the overall tone of the vehicle. I threw a few splashes of colour with the red of the fuel drum and the yellow dozer blade but for the most part? Rust. The interiors are all decked out in various shades of interior trim that seem to fit the era of vehicle.

Speaking of the dozer blade, I figured some sort of road sign-age would help the post-apoc looking cause. I believe these are going to be doing multi-duty across a range of culty type options, including in 40k. So I couldn't do - for example - a big ol' motorway signs for Leigh Delamere services or anything. A "Diversion" sign in a fairly straightforward yellow and black felt pretty universal. I scratched the hell out of it with sponge chipping and then drabbed it further with the dust and dirt so the yellow could be strong without dominating. Worked ok I think.

As usual, the weathering for these was layers and layers of Kursk Earth enamel weathering paint stippled and feathered out to make it seem realistically grimy. Of course, the camera lights eat most of the lovely subtle effect (these all look bang tidy in the flesh) but there's enough left to see how filthy the whole thing is.

Just one more of these to go and the quartet is complete. More Shadows of Brimstone next week though. Until then


Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Shadows of Brimstone: Part Three

Somewhat belatedly (I've been ill, some kind of ear/lung-murder-virus thing) we return to the weird world of Brimstone and a pair of likely lads from rather opposing ends of the socio-economic spectrum:

Yep, today it's the turn of the Doctor (for whom I could not find visual reference for love nor money so I just went for it) and the Male Prospector. They kind of represent opposing ends of the sculpting quality in Brimstone, because the prospector - for all that his proportions are a bit weird - is a nice model. He's got lots of nice details and works well. The doctor is... ok. Unfortunately "ok" is the best most of the models come in at. They're mostly single piece and so occasionally suffer as a result of slightly unimaginative posing, or in the case of the doctor, a slightly weird element. In this case, his hair. The detail is also a little soft on that one but otherwise. Not terrible. Lets start with him.

The doctor is the companion piece to the nurse we featured in part one. Quite a few of the Brimstone models have both genders represented, which is nice. For this chap, there wasn't a whole lot to consider, I figured a basically brown tone would work and used a tan yellow waistcoat to both fit with the tone and also contrast the darker brown bits. I'm happier with the battered leather look on the gladstone bag this time. I went for a much lighter brown on the scuffs and it worked nicely. The glasses were a frustration. It's almost impossible to freehand the eyes in there to make them look like actual glasses so you're left with Django style shades. There's a reason not many models have glasses, there a swine to paint to look like plain glass lenses. Otherwise, he's fairly unremarkable.

The prospector was a lot more fun. I realised he's supposed to be wearing a sort of lumberjack shirt waaay too late and painted him with those red/pink longjohns on under his much-patched denim. He's got a ton of little details - the frying pan is really nice - and he looks exactly how you'd expect an itinerant prospector looking for claims in creek beds and the like to look. I think only a gold pan would have improved him but you could successfully claim the frying pan can do double duty. I actually all but finished this guy before I got sick so unfortunately the exact mixes have been forgotten. But he's a nice model!

That's all for today. More shinies soon


Monday, 14 November 2016

Frostgrave: A Tartan Infantryman

Hello one and all and welcome to a significantly chillier corner of PVP towers. Yep, along with some of the Beard Bunker folks I have been tempted into exploring that oh-so-dangerous frozen city. Wrap up warm folks, we're going to Frostgrave...

There's lots of good articles out there about Frostgrave so I won't belabour the explanation, suffice to say, it's a skirmish game on the lines of Mordheim owing a lot to games like Chainmail and D&D for a lot of its mechanics. The emphasis is on the wizard leading the gang and their apprentice; but I wouldn't be me if I didn't get obsessed about the little guys too. To that end, I decided that my first Frostgrave model would be a basic infantryman from my warband:

I'm not massively enamoured of the "official" Frostgrave models (seem competent enough, but a little cartoony for my tastes), but if ever there was a game begging for third party models to represent it's broad, ambiguous "classes" it was this. With that in mind I raided my bits boxes hard and found a bunch of models that would work nicely. Mix of races - there's no distinction made in the rules - and manufacturers, but my first is an old Games Workshop LOTR Clansman of Lamedon model mostly seen in bright blue, white and shiny steel.

didn't notice until way too late that pesky snowflake in his eye socket.

I knew I wanted the armour appearing lighter - the infantrymen are only in leather - so I went for a moulded leather set of armour in a lovely rich brown. This is my new favourite leather mix, Mounfang brown, highlighted with bone, glazes of Agrax Earthshade. Creates a wonderful warm brown which matches a lot of my own leather gear (I'm a LARP-er). On top of that, I definitely wanted that lovely great kilt painted in a realistic traditional tartan. I wouldn't be able to give you a mix guide of any kind as I was mostly fiddling with shades. But the basic way method is to mix half and half of the background colour for the stripes and always mix at least a tiny bit of background colour in for the intersections. Mutes everything and makes for a nice traditional feel. Me likey.

That's it for today. Lots more Frostgrave to come, not least because there's oodles of wandering monsters and NPCs to paint, not to mention my summonable demons... bwuah ha ha haaaaa!


Thursday, 10 November 2016

Ride Eternal, Shiny and Chrome!

Oooorrr, Rusty and Spiked as the case may be...

The minute I knew I was doing a pseudo Mad Max project (I believe these are actually becoming some sort of cultist mobile in 40k) I had to make the hedgehog. I loved that thing and knew I could make a slightly less bonkers version of it.

Starting from a - I think - Citroen of some flavour, I carved away wheel arches (and even whole sections of the front) in order to make the Zinge wheels fit. To the top I added a tank hatch as a fighting platform. Then I started gluing dozens and dozens of plasticard spikes. To make it really like the movie vehicle would have been possible but it would have taken approximately forever and would have made it very delicate as a wargaming model. This is a compromise on the vision.

As with all these vehicles, I started with a solid coat of rust. I already knew that this one would be almost totally lacking in paint so I went a bit further with the rust texturing. More colours of rust for added depth of colour. Then I moved on to the interior. I've left all the body shells unglued initially in order to make it easier to get a rudimentary interior painted. In this case a pale fabric roof and door covering and tan leather seats. I started off getting everything nice and cleanly painted, then dotted spots of darn near every weathering paint I have in order to work some filth in. Once this was done I stippled and streaked with a brush dampened with odourless turps in order to soften the effect and spread the stains in a more naturalistic way.

The hatch, I decided, was scavenged from an armoured vehicle and so added some chipped green paint to the hatch. The end result actually descends into all the rust in a very complimentary way which pleased me no end. Finally I went to town with the dust again. I went a little further than the last one as I pictured this vehicle going off road to overtake and get into position for close assault more often. In my mind's eye there's a lancer standing in that hatch urging his driver closer to a wheel so he can attack.

That's all for today. More Shadows of Brimstone next week before the last two cars get the treatment.


Monday, 7 November 2016

Oh What a Day, What a Lovely Day!

Witness me! We're delving into the somewhat high octane world of Mad Max. If you've no idea what I'm talking about watch this, then get the film*, watch that, then come back. I don't mind. I'll wait...

My client had four venerable Hauler 1:43 car kits and wanted something a bit more grungy... To that end I did some cutting and chopping, fitted various resin wheels and engines and a few more plastic bits lying around to the four vehicles coming up:

Seen here in very much work in progress mode. Final results will vary.
This first one is, I believe, a Citroen Traction Avant of some kidney but do not quote me on that. I am bad at cars. I envisioned it as a recon vehicle of some kind, big ol' searchlight picking out intruders into territory or something. Tanks of something nitro-like plugged in to the engine to get it out of dodge fast.

Painting wise, I knew this one was going to be black. Almost all the cars of this type I've seen are black and I confess, the black plastic of the kit inspired me a bit too. First step was getting a very grey car - yes, I know, it still is grey, but that's grey with dust, not just grey... honest - by using a series of progressively lighter shades with German Grey mixed into the black. Then I used a glaze of black ink mixed with matt varnish and airbrush thinner to knock it back to black. The rest of the metalwork basically went rust coloured.

On top of the general rust and grime there was some battle damage to take care of. Bullet holes were taken care of in my usual way. The crumpled fender was achieved in a similar fashion, heat the plastic with a lighter then mangle it with needle nose pliers. Job done. These got chips, scratches and just bare metal painted on and then rust colours used to weather it down again. Finally, it was time for muck.

I used Ammo's enamel weathering paints for this, they're just the best way to get dust and grime on models. I've not found anything better for the task. It's the way you can muck around with them using odourless turps or white spirit without affecting the acrylic coat beneath. Kursk Earth got liberally splodged on and then feathered out with stipples of odourless turpentine. Jobs a good un.

That's all for today, but obviously there are three more of these Mad Max vehicles to come so watch this space.


*Yes, I know, there are other Mad Max films. But hey, Fury Road is my favourite and doesn't give Mel Gibson more money...

Friday, 4 November 2016

Shadows of Brimstone: Part Two

Continuing our Shadows of Brimstone mini-odyssey, this time with the two "Jargono Natives":

Apparently there is some sort of jungle/swamp thing in the Brimstone setting and these two are residents of it. They're actually some of the nicer cast models in the game that I've painted so far.

The "male native" - if these characters have names, I don't know them - is supposed to be armed with a turtle shell shield along with that alligator shoulder armour and Inca-esque sword. Given that the sculpting on the shield was not a huge amount like a turtle I needed to use some trickery to get the effect. For the outer layer I just painted a suggestion of the ringed look that turtle shells have. (By the way SoB sculptor... that isn't how turtle shell looks... just saying...) For the inner part, it was sculpted perfectly flat so I put a bit of shading on to indicate the internal ridges of the turtle skeleton. The alligator hide is just Caliban Green, over-highlighted with Nugling and then glazed down with Athonian Camoshade which knocks some of the saturation out while still keeping it a nice green.

I've left discussion of the skin till now, introducing "female native", because, well, what else would I talk about? I'm always a little confused when sculptors do the bikini thing on tribal types. A loincloth would have had the same effect and been a little more in character. But hey, aesthetic considerations aside, I knew I wanted these to have that particular skin tone that most Amazonian tribes have, a little redder than, say, Hispanic. Following my usual progression of human skin tones (Burnt Umber through Beige Brown to the GW pinkish skin tones) I figured start at Beige Brown with a tiny dash of Burnt Umber. Warm it up a bit with a wash of Reikland Fleshshade - I'd usually use sepia with this tone - and then start the highlighting: Pure Beige Brown layered on and then further lightened with Kislev Flesh added to the mix. Finally, I glaze the whole thing again with another, slightly thinned, layer of Reikland Fleshshade. I think I got it about right. Some stone daggers and the tiny bits of clothes later and jobs a good un.

Well, that's all for today folks, next week we'll take a bit of a break from Brimstone and have something with a smidge more horsepower. 'Till then...


Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Shadows of Brimstone: Part One

Hi folks, today we're kicking off the first of a new commission, painting minis from the Shadows of Brimstone game. I'm completely unfamiliar with the board game so I'll be focusing on the painting only!

First things first, they didn't photograph too terribly well. But assume that there's some more transitions and subtlety about them and all will be well... The models do have some problems, very, very 2D sculpting, the casting quality is... ok, verging on terrible at times and the material is that irksome restic stuff. However, once you get through all that, the models are quite nice treatments. This US Marshal above in her civil war style uniform and chaps is a good example of the box's miniatures. I was following - ish - the colour schemes on the game cards so it was mostly figuring out the mixes that would give me the desired effect. In this case starting from The Fang (sigh) for the jacket; a mid tone grey for the trousers and Burnt Umber for the chaps. A nice sculpting touch is the trouser cuffs just peeking out from the chaps at the bottom. Well thought through.

The nurse was one that I didn't have a card for so I pulled some Victorian nurse images from the web to get a sense of colours. In this case a petrol blue (Vallejo Field Blue) highlighted with lighter greys. White for the apron of course and dark slightly scuffed leather for the Gladstone bag. Finally, I tried to replicate the difficult-to-capture-in-paint brown/amber glass colour for the jar in her hand. I can't remember the exact colours, but the basis was a vague tan/amber colour highlighted with white and then glazed in first chestnut and then a thin brown ink. Worked out ok I think.

The nun was one of the worse minis so far, harsh sculpting on the face and thick details in places but otherwise ok. Not a lot to say about the painting on this one. There's black, black, black and some details. I have just this second noticed that the lining wash on the cross' necklace got away from me so I'll have to go back in and tidy that up tomorrow. With not a lot of painting to speak of we may as well talk basing here: The "Brimstone" setting is in various landscapes so we went with a parched, rocky soil with struggling clumps of grass. Essentially it's what I did for my Night Goblins (pick out the bigger bits of sand in a rock colour before the final drybrush) just with less grass.

Finally, we have a collection of bandit types. These are just stormtrooper types, there to be gunned down as soon as they appear so didn't warrant huge amounts of time. Instead, I chose to make it an exercise in "how different can I make a mob of totally identical dudes?". By changing up the clothing colours while staying in the classic palette of the "Wild West" I think we wound up with a nice gang of individuals rather than a uniformed squad.

Well, that's just the start on the Shadows of Brimstone. There's another 15-20 characters to go at least before it's all done. So if you like your fantasy Wild West, watch this space.


Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Tutorial: Dealing with tiny feet in basing

So there I was, putting together some minis for a client when I came across a common problem: Tiny, tiny feet on a model that needs to be glued directly to the base. Now, I know how to solve this problem and it's fairly straightforward, hence, a small tutorial. A tutorial-ette if you will.

A join is only as strong as its contact area allows it to be. That's why those slottabases or cast-on discs that most miniatures use are useful. They allow for a small foot while also giving a firm footing. Equally, in plastic it is less of an issue. The welding effect of the polystyrene cement makes for a strong join even with small contact areas. The model above? That is not plastic - nor is it resin for that matter - it's that restic stuff that a few manufacturers use. It can't be glued with polystyrene cement. That leaves only brittle, brittle superglue, and that needs special treatment.

So we've got a cleaned up miniature. You'll want to do some test fitting to see how the model stands best. You don't want to be pinning both feet so look for the one that is the "leading" foot: the one with the most weight on it. That will be the flattest on the floor so the best contact area.

Using a pin vice, aim into the bulk of the leg and drill away. You'll be wanting about a 4-5mm hole, any shallower and it won't resist shearing forces properly and won't work. For some models - especially female ones - this will be tough. I've replaced stiletto heels with a pin before in order to find enough surface area to drill into.

While you've got the pin vice out. Drill a hole into the base where the foot will lie, see? Those test fittings were useful. Shows you where to drill. If you've got a fancy solid cast resin base you can just drill all the way through and insert a wire through it like normal pinning. For the hollow plastic bases, you need another approach. I've tried using modelling putty, filler, all sorts, but the best and fastest way is to bend a length of paperclip wire into an 'L'-shape. Be generous with the length. It's a paperclip, so cheap as to be virtually free. Don't risk the join failing for a few mm of paperclip. Oh, and use bare metal paperclips, not those plastic wrapped ones. The plastic isn't properly adhered to the wire. It'll be like gluing to a painted surface, only as strong as the paint bond to the primer.

Push the wire through the base from underneath, then, using a generous amount of superglue, glue that sucker down. Superglue gap-fills on distances less than a mm or so, thus the generous amount helps to form a firmer bond. Usually this isn't the case, small amounts and very close bonds are how to make superglue be your friend. This is a round wire being glued to a flat sheet of plastic. It needs some extra help.

Now, dry-fit your model onto the wire. The amount sticking out between the foot and the base is the excess you need to cut off. Remove the model from the wire and trim down the wire by the amount sticking out. Once this is done just put superglue on the wire and the feet and stick it down.

And there you go! Like I say, this is straightforward, but I've got the process down to a fine art now and like they say: "It's only simple when you know how". With the increasing popularity of models in things like board games (this chap is from Shadows over Brimstone) but without the design experience that wargames manufacturers have, I foresee more of this kind of thing coming up. Now the knowledge is out in the world. Go forth, and break off your minis no more.


Thursday, 13 October 2016

Supreme Generalissimo Guardsman!

Hi folks, quick one for you today, the conversion from back here has now been finished.

Client asked for blue jacket and red trousers with a gold stripe. The longer this combination went on for, the more it looked to me like the sort of thing dictators in South America (or a Gaddafi/Idi Amin type) would wear. So in my head he became the Supreme Generalissimo for the duration of the painting.

The camera - or more likely, me - struggled to get both the blue and the red saturated at the same time so you'll have to use a little imagination. Getting this scheme to balance was something of a challenge. There's three saturated primary colours here. Mercifully he'd asked for the gold stripe on the trouser leg which helped a lot. Played with a number of options for things like the cuff colours - seriously, nothing else but blue with a thin gold stripe worked there - and the shirt. The shirt was a real problem. Tried white - way too bright and called attention to the wrong part of the model; grey - looked unpainted; and a pastel blue - nope; before realising I was going the wrong way and tried a military khaki. Perfect. It disappears into the busy scheme and reinforces the soldier-inside-the-dandy look that we have going on.

Another thing that I found fun was making his very, very strange haircut work. Largely through making sure that I treated the shorn back of his head in the same way you would stubble. That is: thin washes of a skin-black-brown-grey mix and then rehighlighting with very thin skin tone. Seemed to work nicely. Happy with how he turned out and he's wildly different to his more, shall we say Hugo Boss German looking counterpart. Fun project. More shinies soon.