Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Whichever holidays you celebrate this time of year, happy holidays to you and yours. Be well, drive safely, and I hope you get the presents you asked for.

Now on to other things. I recieved a unit of Stormblade Infantry and bought a unit of Arcane Tempest Gun Mages for my Cygnar Warmachine force. Brings me up to a 25pt. battleforce to learn the game with, and leaves me plenty of room to grow into a 50 pt steamroller list. Only downside of getting such an awesome deal on the Stormblades ($17 including shipping O.o) is that they are lightly primed in black... I hate black primer, as I tend to prime in grey as it allows me to do darks and lights without a lot of issues.

I'm working on scratch building razorback turrets as well as getting the sketches for scratch built predator turrets and sponsons. The idea is to give the predators a totally unique look, so it is a semi-secret project, just know that turtles will not be harmed in the creation of these unique turrets.

I've also worked out the next batch of repurposed marines to work on next week, going to get the paint redone on 20 Grey Hunters and 12 Long Fangs. As well as some repaint on my Godhammer-pattern Land Raider. Overall not a huge amount to do in a week, but I will also be working on my warmahordes figs to get them finished.

So with that I say fair thee well until anon!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Star Drakes Drakon Tu'shak

Been a somewhat busy week, though productive, as I've gotten some GS work done on a Rhino... and finished Drakon Tu'shak for my Star Drakes (counts as Space Wolves) Chapter.

The Star Drakes are a hybrid of Nordic and Mezoamerican cultures from their recruiting world on a mixed jungle/badlands deathworld known as Crall VI. A planet which for several millenia was one of a cluster of worlds held in the grip of a massive warp storm, which cut it off from the Imperium since the 34th millenium. The Star Drakes having been cut off during that time as well, within the cluster of several dozen systems, and giving rise to massive deviations in their core doctrines from the Codex Astartes. Though there have been hundreds of warp incursions within the storm wracked area, the Star Drakes have stayed nearly untouched by the effects of chaos... except for the advent of their geneseed deviation which is similar in effect (but not looks) to the Wulfen issue the Space Wolves have with their geneseed.

Tu'shak is a veteran of nearly 600 years of combat within their cluster of warp caged worlds, having risen to the rank of Drakon (Chapter Warchief / Master) nearly 300 years past. He is a follower of the Hasha'tuk Cult within the chapter, which is the follows the tenants of headhunting of enemies. It is just one of three cults within the chapter, each of which gives rise to variations on tactical and strategic doctrines on the battlefield.

The chapter as a whole, as well as many on their recruiting world, revere the Emperor as the greatest man to yet live, but not as a God. The chapter Steel Masters also look upon the dogmatic religion of the Mechanicus with a sense of humor, and when not dealing with them ignore its religious trappings and aim to improve and expand their knowledge without the strictures of the Mechanicus hampering their efforts. This willingness to experiment has led to a number of disasters of one sort or another, but also gave rise to a number of variant vehicles which when the warps storms disipated were found to already be in use by a number of Astartes chapters.

Psykers are relatively common on Crall VI, and nearly every citizen has a latent talent with it, which gives rise to a very large number of psykers within the the Chapter. The Librarium having nearly 10% of the chapter strength, though the chapter is nowhere near the Codex one thousand, having nearly five hundred total. Every Star Drake is trained to use his latent abilities to allow for communications and enhance their senses, while barring their minds to all but the Dragon Readers (Librarians) of the chapter and their closest lodge brothers.

--Drakon Tu'shak--

Time taken to finish: 9 hours (not counting drying times)

Contrast is a bit bleh, so the next pic will be fiddled with to allow for more showing of detail.

Right leg has a sword holding death angel worked into it, while the left has Tu'shak's personal heraldry of a bronze face mask with ruby eyes and blooded headdress.
Headhunter shoulder pauldrons, as well as drake symbols on the Swift Death saurus hide covered Storm Shield.
Thunder Hammer with runic inscriptions and rune stones, as well as trophies hung from the power cabling.
Hopefully I'll have a few more figs/models ready before Christmas to post up about.

Comments and critiques are always welcome! Until later!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tron: Legacy Review

Okay, I admit this has nearly nothing to do with the RPG/Miniature gaming hobby. So what? This has been a movie that has been on the must see list of many for months (if not years). Most gamers have seen and enjoyed the original Tron movie, its a classic after all. And I've been a Tron fan for decades now. So when the opportunity to take my family to see it in Real 3D, it was a given that I'd have to see it.

Now, firstly, I won't complain about the overpricing of theatre tickets and concessions, those are a given anymore and the reason many don't go to a theatre. Nor will I complain about the 'badside' of going to the theatre, chatting people, noisy babies, etc. Since for the first time those things didn't really happen (shock!).

I won't give away anything, as I find it is annoying to have done to me. So I will just cover aspects of the movie as a whole, and give a review based on my overall impression.

The acting was very good, with the choice of actors and actresses being quite good. The anonymous nature of many of the roles filled with colorful looking people helped keep the world of the Grid from looking homogeneous. Bruce Boxletter and Jeff Bridges carried over their roles from the first Tron exceptionally well.

The plotline is easy enough to find on the web, but I will say that it is pretty good, and gives the movie a good energy and fast pace when needed. It is a classic good vs evil plotline, but has a few fun twists and interesting tweaks on the normal g v e type movies. The evolution of the Grid is fun to see as well, with curves becoming a normal thing over pure angles.

The CGI and 3D work were incredible, with effects that quite literally had me going 'Oh Wow!' and 'Damn!' throughout the movie. The evolution of the Grid giving all new looks to the classic ideas, and introducing whole new ideas that take the story to a new level. Surprisingly enough, many of the coming feature trailers had me saying the same things, but that is beside the point.

If I had anything to complain about it would have nothing to do with the film itself, but the theatre having not enough seating further back. Sitting close in on a 3D movie is an eye straining event. 3D technology has definitely grown since the days of the red lense/blue lense glasses, and I'm happy with how it has developed.

I give Tron: Legacy 5 stars. It is action packed, has humorous moments, and gives nods to the classic era of the first movie. All while keeping the audience wondering what is coming next. Well worth seeing in the theatre, and I will definitely be buying a copy when it comes out on Blueray.

Ultramarines movie review

I recently had the chance to see the new Ultramarines movie. And without including spoilers I will be giving my impressions of the movie.

Overall the quality of the 3d animation was excellent, and attention to detail was obvious. Of course I would have prefered they not use the Ultrasmurfs as the main characters, but GW and their 'smurfs are the best' mentality guaranteed that wouldn't happen. The combat scenes were very well done, without looking herky jerky or overly staged.

The plotline was pretty thin, but we are talking about a space marine movie. Marines aren't deep thinkers, they fight, so having a thin plotline isn't such a bad thing. There are places were the dialog seems contrived, and trite, but they don't really detract from the movie overall.

Some of the scenes and plot hooks are a bit overused and typical, but as I've said marines, not deep thinkers, they fight. A few of the 'shock' points in the story aren't really very shocking at all, but again we go with 'marines, etc etc etc.'.

I wouldn't rate this as a 5 star movie, but it is definitely worth a 3 star rating. Worth watching, and I look forward to seeing what else Codex can come up with for further movies.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What comes from a day stuck in the house

Well the weather is pretty crappy here today. Very cold, snowy, and VERY windy. So I didn't get out of the house, but I did get a few figs nearly completed today. Just a few minor touch ups to do and they will be ready.

First up is Colette Du Bois, of the Arcanist faction in the game Malifaux.

The pic doesn't do her face justice, I can't seem to keep from getting really grainy pics lately. But in person the face isn't at all a 'huh, bleh'. The hardest part was blending up from bronzed flesh, which was far too orange for my tastes.

The other one I worked on today was Lelu, of the Neverborn faction in the game Malifaux.

Very simple color scheme, the horns look bad in the pic but are actually very well blended from a bone>white. I really need to get a much better handle on this camera.

Overall not a bad day for painting, even with the kids wanting to be at my elbow allllllll day.

Looking for a WD article.

I missed WD 365 and 366, so I totally missed the spearhead expansion rules. Anyone that has them and would be willing to scan me a copy I'd be ever so greatful. It's annoying that with 3 LGS not a single one has the issue with those rules left... the ones before and after those issues yes, but not the specific issue. Then GW being tools and only putting the formation part on their website... gotta buy the mag for the rule. (grumble).

It's things like this that frustrate the customer base. And it goes hand in hand with GW's greed tactics of the last large number of years.

Oh well, anyone that happens to have the rules please let me know.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Flock, and ways to make it better, part 2

The first post in this series had a serious problem... I forgot example photos. So this post will have example photos and cover some of the shortfalls of single/dual material flocking. The photos from part 1 showed a selection of flocking materials that are typically used in basing miniatures. Each has its good points, but today we talk about the downsides of each example.

First lets talk about 'flocking material', the green powdery type, as well as basic sand.

Here we have an ancient GW Ogre, based with sand and 'flock'.
The above photo shows a truly ancient GW fig, an Empire Ogre, painted roughly 20 years ago. The base is a bit worn, and obviously cracked, but will help to show issues with the use of 'flock' as well as sand.

Firstly we'll notice the odd look of each material. They stand out and looked deliberately set. They have a single color (which can be changed through the use of paint, inks, or different color material). Care was taken to attempt to make this base look less like a flat ground of one type of terrain through use of two materials. Unfortunately we see that they look deliniated and deliberate. The colors having stark borders against each other. The tonal contrast draws more attention to the base than it should have, as it is not the focal point of the miniature. This is a big issue with single type flocking on bases, it can detract from the overall look of the finished miniature.

Use of inks and washes can help alleviate this, but in the end there is only so much you can do to reduce this distraction on a miniature when using single or dual basing materials.

Resin cast base, painted, but still needing some sanding on the edges.
Here we have a resin base. Something I did a couple months ago in a 40mm base, to work with some terminator models. Overall it is a pretty darned good base. But you will note that the 'sand' of the base seems odd. Resin bases (scenics) are very nice, and remove a lot of hassles when dealing with loose flocking materials. They have their place in doing your miniatures. But even the best scenic bases start to look manufactured in large numbers. Painting alleviates some of this, but in the end with limited numbers of looks for the bases, they become repetitious.

Repetition in basing can help tie an army together. But in larger numbers it starts looking drab, and detracts from the overall look of an army. The best scenic resin bases in the world can't stop this from happening by themselves. And when you are fielding 30+ models on 5-6 base looks, it becomes quite obvious, unless you do something to spruce them up. In this case static grasses, snow pastes, and other options help to break up the monotony imposed by limited sculpts.

Sticking with just resin bases is fine, but you have to keep in mind the above issues. Even limited changes in painting palette can help to break up the similarity.

One of my 'Counts As Thunderwolf' models, using my mixed blend of flocking material.
This photo helps show how a mixed blending of flocking materials can break up the monotony. As well as help to make the base look more natural. No one tone or type of material dominates, and the use of static grass helps to break up the base further. The base doesn't draw the eye unnaturally away from the model itself, but does set a feeling of disturbed plains. With the gravel, sand, and flock all working together as a blend that helps gap fill (smaller material filling the gaps from the larger gravel) and covering with little to no show through of the base.

A closer look. Yes it needs a little touch-up, but that is normal when flocking of any type.
Overall, the effect looks nice, with no one tone or material dominating, and nothing looking forces into place. With the smaller materials helping to fill in on the gravel, the gravel no longer looks as if it was tossed down, but more like it has been there for some time. This helps to make the base look more natural, and less deliberately done. Nothing distracts more on a base than having it look like the materials were tossed at the miniatures feet, and not like the miniature came onto the ground naturally.

Comments, suggestions, critiques all welcome!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Flock, and ways to make it better

Everyone has their own take on basing. Some use nothing but resin bases, which they paint, others use sand, etc. etc. etc. Many start with basic 'flocking material', you know the stuff, green, a slight breeze (or a sneeze) and it gets everywhere, and it never matches any gaming surface (except maybe felt cloth). Others get some hobby sand and use it, painting it, or not.

Well I've gone through a number of stages in the 20ish years I've been into painting miniatures. I started with the evil green dust, expanded into sand, worked up to gravel, then on to resin bases. But recently I've decided that no one option is really right. Each has its place, but no one is better than the other. On the other hand each has its drawbacks.

You know the stuff... flocking material, in a basic green. Evil stuff... gets everywhere.
Now, this is where I am now, at the point of finding that mixed flocking materials are much better than any one material. And static grass makes even single material basing look better.

Typical 'gravel' flocking material. Not bad, but lets be honest it looks like big rocks with most 25-28mm figs.
Something you have to keep in mind when using basing materials, thickness of the glue. Thin glue is great for using as a over coating after you dip a base into the materials and let it dry awhile. But if you don't have a glue that is thick enough to start, that initial dipping will have most of your material falling off in patches when you paint of over coat it. I use Elmer's School Glue, but you have to be a bit selective, because they have changed packaging a bit and you may end up with a bottle of their watered down junk glue.

A not too bad mixed sand/gravel flocking material. But even this has issues with the 'mini-boulders'.
I started doing a bit of research on flocking the last few months, and came across the not at all new idea of mixing flocking materials. The theory being that mixing the materials gives a more natural look to the base. With different colors, sizes, and textures blending together to help make a base which looks very pleasing to the eye, without being tied to one type of battlefield.

Overall I think this idea makes up for a number of shortfalls in most single or dual material flocking mixes. So I took my green evil dust, the sand/gravel mix, the gravel mix, some very fine sandbox sand, and a mix of sand/rock/gravel from the edge of a driveway (which oddly enough is a TROVE for basing). Gave it all a thorough shake and mix, and came up with this mix.

Overall this mix blends very nicely, and with static grass patches looks like your typical field in the late spring/early summer. With different mixes you could get any time of the year, or any type of terrain. So don't be shy on mixing those materials together to get a more natural look. It does look good and works much better than just one type of material.

Salamanders 600ish pts finished

I actually finished the paint several days ago, and sometime today will be flocking their bases and hitting them with a final layer of matte sealer. But I felt it would be nice to get a pic with them all in it, then I took a few more, several including projects at various points of completion.

The rhino may seem 'dusty' in the pics, but that has more to do with how I finished the model as well as lighting conditions and my not being a photographer. Overall I feel the project went well, and I'm torn on whether to sell them or keep them... but I do need to make money at this home business, so eBay will be seeing them soon I think. I have come to the conclusion that I need to get a can of the soon to be released Angels Green from The Army Painter. It will speed up the work by huge amounts, as I have been custom mixing the every single layer at this point. Unfortunately GW are bastards and stopped making the one color I need to make this range of greens... Jade Green. So my ever dwindling supply of the old good GW paints are causing me to like Vallejo and P3 paints more and more.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Painting Leather and finished work

Today I want to talk about painting leather. To some this will seem like a basic concept, but to others it may just click that 'oh, yeah' area of the brain and help them with a project.

Painting leather starts with deciding if it will be a polished leather, or a dull more natural or worn leather. Polished leathers tend to be 'shiny' with more obvious highlights than worn/natural leathers. The next step is deciding on the color for the leather. Many choose to go with browns or blacks, but you can actually do any color you wish to fit with your ideas on the work you are doing.

Next you need to decide on how you are going to do the painting. Base>shade>highlight, Shade>mid-tone>highlight, or some other way that works for you. Lately I've been going with shade>mid>highlight, as it allows me to build the highlights more naturally from the shaded darker areas.

Something that should be stressed, thin, your, paints. If you want to blend layers well you need to thin the paints down to the consistency of skim milk, basically water with some pigment coloring it. Dip the brush, brush off excess (leave a wet trail on a napkin/paper towel) then blend towards edges starting in recessed areas. This allows you to build up the color in a more natural and translucent manner. And gives the painted area a much more realistic look.

With polished leathers you may wish to seal up the finished work with a matte sealer, then using a liquid gloss or satin sealer with a brush on the leather areas to bring back the 'shine'. Or you can leave it with a matte sealer (with stark enough highlighting at the extreme edges a matte sealer will not take away from the 'shine').

And as the post title says, some finished work.

I finished up the Trollblood warlocks I was working on and here they are.

Next post will be the finished work on the Salamanders project, and WIP picks of my Death Talon Cavalry!