Hobby resolutions for 2019

The other day, I did a review of how I did on my hobby resolutions last year. I got around 50%, however considering that most people fail all their resolutions by February, I think that’s not all bad. In spite of the fact that setting new year’s resolutions are basically setting yourself up to fail, I’m desperate for content and everyone else is doing it, so I figured here is a good start.

Finish my Khador army

I made some good progress this year, bashing out the backlog of assembled but unpainted models. However, I want to bring it home this year and actually finish my army. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean going ham and getting full field allowance of everything fully painted. However, I would like to get all the warcasters finished, as well as finishing everything in my backlog, and just staying on top of any Khador releases in the new year. Also, finish some of the mercenaries in my collection which I bought with the intent of using them in a Khador army.

Manage my backlog

Last year, I made the resolution to end the year with fewer unpainted miniatures than I started the year with. Of course, that didn’t quite happen, though I don’t think I did too badly on it. This year, I would like to renew that resolution — don’t buy more stuff than I can actually build and paint. I suspect it will be a lot easier this year, as I haven’t seen any previews of must-have releases from Privateer Press, like the big Man-O-War release last year for my army. I think by just not getting too distracted by new shinies, I can keep things under control.

Build more terrain

I like terrain, however a lot of the time, it’s hard to get around to doing it. It feels like there is always another miniature which takes higher priority. I built a fair bit of the GW Sector Mechanicus stuff this year and found it to be rather enjoyable. I do have a lot of stuff in the stash for trees and other natural features that I have yet to get around to, as well as a giant resin inn to paint. I want to actually bash some of that out in the near future, just so I’m no longer at the mercy of store terrain when I go to play.

I also feel like there is a lot of debate in the Warmachine/Hordes community about 2D vs 3D terrain. I feel like well-designed 3D terrain can be the best of both worlds — it is playable, but also looks good to passers-by. Things like flat-topped hills, buildings and walls that you can’t end your movement on anyways, etc. So, I would like to get some of that made up as I start doing more demos and the like in the new year.

Experiment with oil paints

bobross.jpg

I managed to pick up a bunch of old tubes of artist oil points for rather cheap a few months ago. I tried them out on my SD Gundam, however I barely scratched the surface with what they can do and haven’t really unlocked their potential yet. I think more experimentation can yield better results because there are techniques out there that just don’t work with acrylics. And, worst case scenario, I can just get a big canvas and do a Bob Ross painting.

Keep things in perspective

When it comes to wargaming, this past year has been interesting to say the least. I fractured my hand in the spring, which put me out of commission for gaming for a few weeks. I had a lot of fun at the SOO, playing against a lot of really nice opponents and hanging out in the hobby room. But, on the other hand, there was also a lot of negative feedback to a couple of my articles, as well as some local drama, and between all that, I ended up getting burned out on Warmachine and especially tournament play for a while.

One of the things I’ve learned from all that is that it can be difficult to keep things in perspective. It’s very easy to dwell on the negative, especially in a community like the Warmachine community which is all too often overflowing with salt. Doubly so when you already have your own hang-ups and anxieties to deal with.

As a result, I think keeping things in perspective is important on two fronts. First is just staying in the right state of mind when you’re playing, focusing on having fun above all else and not worrying too much about tournament standings, who your next opponent will be, and building the perfect list that can deal with all the boogeymen in the meta. Second is not dwelling on negative reactions and letting those get you down. Yeah, there may be a couple of jerks who don’t like me, but that shouldn’t stop me from playing the game or producing content that I think is good. Especially when I get feedback that is mostly positive and it’s just that 10% that I’m allowing to ruin my day.

Conclusion

Most of these resolutions tend to be more about self-improvement rather than any external benchmark. I think this is important because that means they are all completely within my control. I could say, for example, that I want to win a painting competition, but then if Kirill Kanaev shows up, that resolution is now pointless and I’m screwed. Or something could come up and I won’t be able to even compete. However, I think these resolutions are all practical and achievable, and will help me both grow as a painter and feel more comfortable with this hobby.

Last year’s resolutions…

Well, it’s the end of the year, so that means it’s time to take stock of my resolutions from last year and see how I did. Last time, I split this into two sections: hobby and gaming resolutions.

Gaming Resolutions

The amount of Warmachine I have been playing really dropped off at some point this year. I was playing weekly and going to tournaments at least monthly, but then I broke my hand back in spring, which put me out of commission for a couple months. The SOO was the biggest event I went to, but following that, the amount of time I actually got pushing my wardollies around shrunk and shrunk for a variety of reasons. As a result, my resolutions this year are a little hit and miss.

One of them was be a better opponent and learn not to get frustrated and keep having fun even when I’m losing. I think I’ve gotten better on that front. While I’m not perfect, there were a couple tournaments where I was able to recognize myself slipping and get myself back into the right headspace to give my opponent a fun game and enjoy myself a bit more. This year’s SOO, for example, I had a rough first game drawing Cryx in the first round and started getting frustrated, but turned it around quickly, and then had a blast the rest of the day, which culminated in one of the best games I’ve ever had.

As for getting better at moving my models, playing a perfectly “clean” game, and being able to make measurements to a gnat’s pube’s precision… I’m out of practice, so I’ve probably gotten worse on that front.

IMG_1138.JPG

My most recent game… Sorscha3 vs. Madrak2. So many medium bases…

One of my other resolutions was to lower my salt intake, which I think did help keep. I unsubscribed from the Muse On Minis podcast network a while ago, and that actually increased my quality of life because I was no longer worried about Gaspy3 or Anamag or the next boogeyman list. Further, I wasn’t absorbing the negativity from things like Dominate For Two’s Khador episode, which was basically two hours about how I should get rid of my models and start over with a different faction.

 

Finally, I made a resolution to branch out and try more casters and factions. Well, I still only play Khador and Strakhov1 is still my homeboy on the rare occasion I get a game in, though I did get a Sorscha3 game in recently. I also did branch out in an unexpected way. I’ve picked up Necromunda, which really scratches my itch for a second game in a way that Guild Ball and Company of Iron didn’t.

Hobby Resolutions

Well, let’s take a look here. My first resolution was to do a diorama. And I completely failed at that. However, I did have an idea for what I would do if I were to do a diorama, so that counts, right? No? Okay, put one in the fail column.

IMG_2661Next was NMM, or non-metallic metal. I acutally did a couple pieces in NMM this year, though TMM is still my favourite technique and the one I am most comfortable with. Nancy Steelpunch was my first serious attempt at NMM, and I did some more advanced work on Maximus as part of a class I took this fall. So, that one is a success.

As for glazes and sketch style, while I have added glazes to my repertoire, as shown in my Amy Johnson and other pieces, I haven’t been all in on sketch style. To be honest, part of me feels like it was a bit of a fad that was so 2017. But the main reason why I haven’t been all gung-ho about it is that, I feel like most of the time, I don’t want to go from black to white on my shadows. Take green, for example. I generally want to go from blue in the shadows to yellow in the highlights instead of just adding black or white to shadow or highlight. But, sketch style doesn’t really allow me to do that unless I used coloured shadows and highlights for preshading… in which case, why bother with the sketch style at all?

IMG_0301While I have been doing something similar in my use of a purple to white transition as an undercoat for acrylic artist inks when painting yellow, and I still do zenithal prime, I just don’t see myself incorporating sketch style as a core technique.

As for ending the year with fewer unpainted miniatures than I started with… I think I was doing really well. I did go all in on the new Man-O-War releases from Privateer Press, but got most of them painted up. Same with my Necromunda gang. However, the wheels started to come off in October. Reaper had their Halloween promotions, Bad Squiddo did a clearance sale, and all my progress was wiped out. However, I did pretty much clear out all of the assembled but unpainted models in my collection for the Khador army. So, that’s good.

Finally, when it comes to posting an average of once per week, according to the statistics on this blog, this is the 48th article this year. So, I ended up a little shy of my goal, but didn’t do too badly. That said, I would like to get my content to be a little more regular — perhaps actually once a week instead of three weeks of nothing then three articles one after the other.

Conclusions

So, I managed to achieve about half my hobby and gaming resolutions this year. Which, in the grand scheme of things, probably isn’t bad. Some of these ended up more abandoned than failed, as I went in a different direction on my hobby journey. However, regardless of resolutions, I feel like this was a great year for me. I really advanced my skills in a lot of ways. I pushed into a larger scale, doing two busts and two 75mm-ish scale figures. I took up gunpla and had some fun with that, as well as some military scale modelling. I explored a lot of new weathering techniques. I managed to win some awards at competitions, and come away from Sword and Brush with two silvers and a bronze. It was an amazing year of growth, and I can’t wait to see what I manage to accomplish next year…

IMG_0815

00 Gundam Part 3: Final Details

In my last two articles, I painted and weathered the bulk of my SD gundam using the hairspray technique, oil streaks, and some other effects. That took care of about 90& of the model, but there were a few details that had yet to be done, namely the eyes, the gun, and the sword. These details I saved for the end for a couple reasons. First, I wanted to do a different finish on these, so I didn’t want the varnish that I would apply to the bulk of the model to ruin it. Second, I wasn’t planning on using the same weathering techniques on the glass and shiny metal surfaces as I wanted to do on the painted surfaces, so I didn’t need to do it up front to keep consistent weathering across the model.

The Eyes Have It

For the eyes, I wanted to achieve a reflective glass look. So to start, I basecoated with Reaper blue liner. I knew to create the illusion of reflection, I would need to keep most of it dark, but then sharply transition from near-black to near-white.

IMG_1091.JPG

Hello!

Of course, I had to decide where to put the highlight. If you will remember from last time, I chose to put the primary light source in the right front quadrant, coming from above. The shape of the eyes was a key factor. If you were to look at them by themselves, you would see that they have a convex shape in the horizontal plane, but are straight up and down in the vertical plane. Basically, they could have been cut out from a vertical cylinder.

Fortunately, when it comes to reflections off a cylinder, we have an easy source of reference material. If you stare long enough at the handle of a hobby knife or the body of your airbrush, you will see that light reflecting off a cylinder tends to form lines of light and dark parallel to the cylinder axis.

What this means for this model is that the eyes are basically cut from a vertical cylinder, so the highlights would be most accurately represented by mostly-vertical lines. I did take a little bit of artistic license and angled the line slightly, to both represent the fact that the light is coming from above rather than from directly from eye level, and to add a little visual interest.

Anyways, now that we know where to place the highlight, it’s time to lay it down. So, I worked up from that base coat Blue Liner through some bright, midtone blues, into sky blue, and finally white, making sure to do a steep a transition as possible while still keeping it smooth. The key to getting a reflection that really pops is for the majority of the reflective surface to be dark, and then for it to quickly transition into the highest hightlight.

With the main highlight done on the right eye, I added a second and third highlight to the left eye, with the third highlight being much less intense than the first. Finally, I added a few highlights here and there around the edges of the eye to represent glints of light on the edges.

With that all done, I glazed over it with Badger Miniataire Ghost Tint Plasma Fluid, a blue glaze which viewers of Vince Venturella’s youtube channel will no doubt be familiar with. In addition to adding a little blue tone to it, this glaze helps smooth out the transitions a little. Finally, I finished it off with some gloss varnish just to give it a nice, shiny finish.

True Metallic Metal

For the gunmetal parts on the sword and the gun, I decided to do a true metallic metal technique. True metallic metal, or TMM, is more than just painting the entire thing in a shiny silver. In fact, it is closer to non-metallic metal, where you use flat paints to paint in reflections and glints, only you’re using metallic paints so you can take advantage of both the painted in highlights and the natural shininess of metallic paints.

As with non-metallic metal, there are some rules as to how you need to place the highlights and shadows. while they aren’t hard and fast and they are open to some artistic interpretation, understanding the source of the light and the shape of the model, and breaking it down into simple, familiar shapes (flat panels, spheres, cylinders and cones) is how you know where to place the highlights. In a way, light on a reflective surface tends to “move” and “collect” in certain places, depending on the shape.

So, similar to the eyes, I wanted to start with a dark colour. In this case, I basecoated all these areas by brush-painting on some Vallejo Metal Color Gunmetal Grey. While this is an airbrush paint, it brush paints quite nicely, flowing smoothly off the brush and delivering a smooth coat.

Next, I went into the highlights, using Vallejo Metal Color Silver to paint in the highlights on the edges and in places where the light would collect. Fortunately, the VMC Silver is a smooth enough paint that it is possible to blend it out and feather the edges into the underlying gunmetal grey.

With the highlights laid in, it was time to reinforce the shadows, and here is where the artist acrylic inks come in handy. I added some black into the deepest shadow, and worked into Payne’s Grey and Indigo, the latter two colours having a bluish tone which would add a subtle blue to the midtones.

IMG_1100.JPG

Back view. Note the metallic highlights on the edges of the blades on the shoulder pads.

Finally, it’s time to break out the secret weapon I’ve been playing with lately. Molotow Liquid Chrome is a pump-action paint pen filled with an alcohol-based acrylic paint that is brighter and shinier than any traditional water based acrylic I’ve come across yet. Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of the marker itself, so I usually pump some out into a well palette and paint it on with a brush, using 99% isopropyl alcohol as a thinner and to clean my brush. With this super-bright chrome, I can really make the highest highlights pop.

Unfortunately, the one issue with this is that any varnish that I’ve used, even a gloss varnish, will kill the brightness of the chrome. Which is why this was done last – I didn’t want the varnish on the rest of the model to get onto the metallics and kill the shine.

Glowing Sword

Finally, we get to the sword. I wanted to do a glowing sword with a fire glow, as that would contrast both the base green and the blue of the eyes. Thinking about how the glow might work if these fighting robits were real, I figured that the heat source would be the metal thing running up the center of the blade. As such, the area closest to the center would be hottest, and it would cool off as we get out towards the edge of the blade. So, this means that it needs to be brightest right up against the center part and fade out as it gets closer to the edges.

As such, the plan is to base coat the sword in yellow and fade out through orange into red when we get closer to the edge. Unfortunately, yellow is a notoriously difficult colour to paint; yellow pigment is generally weak so getting good coverage is difficult. As such, in order to get a vibrant, bright yellow, you want to undercoat with white so you’re not trying to cover up any dark colours.

Unfortunately, painting white straight over dark colours isn’t that easy either. So, in order to paint the white that I needed to lay down so I could paint the yellow, I started with a medium-light grey. With the grey having more powerful pigments than white, it would cover the underlying colour and give a smooth undercoat that I could build my white on top of — which itself is an undercoat for the yellow. I also thinned my yellow with acrylic artist inks and a touch of flow improver, as these inks are so thin and so pigment-intense that you can use them as a thinning medium and still maintain the pigment density of the paint as you thin it down to the desired consistency.

IMG_1103.JPG

So, after laying down some grey, then white, then yellow, I took my detail airbrush, loaded it with orange, and worked from the outside of the blade in, creating a smooth transition between the orange and the yellow in the center of the blade. Then, I followed up with some red, again, starting from the edge and using the airbrush to get a smooth transition into the orange, leaving myself with a smooth gradient from yellow to red as we move towards the edge.

Finally, an edge highlight applied with the brush running along the edges of the blade reinforces the shape of the blade and makes it not look like an orange blob from a distance.

With the blade done,it was time to add some glow to really sell the effect of a glowing blade, so I masked off the blade and sprayed some orange in the areas where the glow from the blade would hit the surrounding parts, similar to my green glow on Ruin. While this did kill the underlying metallics, I was able to mostly save the finish with some gloss varnish overtop of the places where the flat orange knocked the shine off the metallics.

Conclusion

This concludes this build. It was a fun little project for a number of reasons. First, it wasn’t that complex of a model, so there weren’t too many frustrations on the assembly. However, in terms of the number of techniques on this thing, I went all out, experimenting with multiple techniques and trying out new products. The simple model was a great testbed for some fun paint techniques, and is a great example of the freedom that is inherent to the hobby of gunpla.

IMG_1098.JPG

More fun weathering the 00 Gundam SD

Last time, we had finished chipping this gundam, which gave me an interesting base coat. However, I still wanted to kick the weathering up yet another notch and try out some new techniques.

Panel lining and edge highlighting

If you’re going to be doing panel lining and edge highlighting with a brush, paint consistency is key. You want the paint to be fairly thin so it will flow smoothly off your brush. If you have to apply any pressure at all, that’s where your line starts to gets either wiggly or you start getting inconsistent line width.

You will obviously need to do some experimentation to see exactly how much and with what you should thin your paints. However, this is a case where a wet palette is really important, just so however much that is, you can maintain the paint consistency for more than the few minutes it takes for acrylic paints to start drying. I’ve found that a touch of airbrush flow improver helps when thinning for this purpose, and if you want to maintain the pigment density, using an ink instead of water as a thinning medium can allow you to get a paint down to a really thin consistency but keep the colours intense.

Some people avoid thinning their paints because they are afraid that too much paint will come off their brush, causing a big pool the second they touch the model. However, there is a simple solution to that – simply remove the excess with either your palette or a paper towel and you’re ready to roll.

Also, I shouldn’t have to say this, but consider busting out either a natural hair liner brush or one of your fancy Kolinsky sables for this. This is detail work and needs a good brush.

So, with my 10/0 natural hair liner brush, I dropped some very thin black paint into the panel lines. From there, I moved onto edge highlights, using a Raphael 8404 size 1 and my highest highlight colour. Where the corner was sharp enough to allow me to use the side of the brush rather than the tip, I did that. Also, on the edge highlights, I skipped over areas that were chipped away for obvious reasons.

More weathering

With the panel lines and edge highlighting in, it was time for some more weathering. With my 10/0 liner, I painted on some scratches and chips, painting a dark line over a light line to make a pseudo-3D scratch with paint. With a few additional chips and scratches painted in, it was time to hit it with one last coat of varnish, if only to protect that second layer of chipping medium from moisture.

IMG_1090.JPG

Additional weathering with acrylics

After the varnish dried, I did a little sponge chipping with a metallic silver colour. While I had initially started with Vallejo Metal Color Steel, I felt that somewhere between all the layers of rust, paint, chipping medium, and varnish, any metallic effect had long since been obliterated. So, a little sponge chipping here and there, focusing on raised corners, helped bring that back.

Finally, it was time to try something new. I had picked up a bunch of random old tubes of artist oil paints from a fellow IPMS member a few months ago, and thought it was time to try using oils for weathering.

These artist oil paints have some properties that are very different from the acrylics I am used to, which can make them very useful for certain techniques. The main difference is the dry time; oil paints can stay wet for hours, if not days, while acrylics only give you a limited window with which to work. That’s why you sometimes get coffee staining with acrylic washes – if it’s not laid down perfectly consistently, it can pool and dry funnily. While with oil paints, you have more time to play with it once it’s on the model and get it exactly how you want it before it dries.

Since this is my first time using oil paints, I decided to just dip my toe in. I put a few browns and blacks and ochres and whatnot onto some paper towel and let the paper towel soak up some of the linseed oil for a couple hours (which I’m told is important if you ever want the paint on the model to dry) and then went to work. To do my streaking, I would use a technique that is actually pretty similar to Privateer Press’ two brush blending. With one brush, I would put a little dot of oil paint at the origin of my streak. Then, with a second brush loaded with a little bit of paint thinner (odorless, of course, in true Bob Ross style), I’d drag that dot down, pulling the paint and thinner mixture downwards like a streak of rust or an oil leak.

I was actually quite happy with the effect. While oil paints are a little more involved than acrylics – they can’t be thinned with water, they take a long time to dry, and if you want to get the linseed oil out you need to plan your painting a couple hours in advance – once you get brush to model, they are actually fairly easy to use for this application. While I will be going deeper into the world of oils, that may be more for display models as Agrax Earthshade and Typhus Corrosion is probably good enough if I’m trying to bang out a tabletop quality model in advance of the next tournament (who am I kidding, I haven’t been to a tournament in months).

Conclusion

This model is all about experimentation with something new. I was initially skeptical about them as it seemed like it would be more difficult than the acrylic paints I’m used to. While there was a little more setup and cleanup to do, and I did have to put the model on the shelf overnight to let the paints dry, I am definitely going to do more experimentation with this medium.

Tune in next time while I discuss how I did the eyes, the glowing sword, and the gun.

Want some chips with that Gundam?

This past year, despite knowing absolutely nothing about Japanese cartoons, I’ve been trying out Gunpla, or Gundam Plastic Modelling, and have found it to be quite enjoyable. Gundam models are kind of unique in the sheer creativity that one can apply to them. There are many different ways to approach a Gundam project, from a cartoonish style to an automotive candy coat to a hyper-realistic weathered model, and all are equally valid.

So, after doing two high grades — a Zaku and a Gundam — I decided to mix things up and bang out the 00 Gundam SD model that had made it into my stash courtesy of a coworker who was into the franchise but evidently less into the modelling aspect.

The SD series, or Super Deformed, are basically the egg planes or toon tanks of the Gundam universe. With big heads and short stubby limbs, they look like cute chibi versions of regular Gundams. The kits are even more simple than the High Grades, with fewer parts and fewer points of articulation. For example, the arms on this kit are just a couple pieces and the elbows don’t articulate. This doesn’t really bother me because I tend to want to get the assembly over and done with so I can start painting, and I don’t really care all that much about articulation.

IMG_1098.JPG

The kit

Because it’s Bandai, assembly was fairly simple and straightforward. There were a few seam lines to fix up and one or two areas which were hollow on the kit and needed a bit of filling, but it was all relatively painless. The kit does come with multiple configurations for weapons loadout; I ended up settling on a pistol and a sword, and I did fill in a couple sockets on the skirts for holding weapons because I didn’t like the look.

In this case, I knew I wanted to paint it just because I’m all about the paint. I figured that it would be fun to really go overboard on the weathering, because it would be a fun juxtaposition between the cute, chibi model and a finish that is ridiculously over the top on the grittiness and battle damage.

As usual, I started with a zenithal prime with black and white Stynylrez. With these Gundam kits, I find it’s easier to pop the arms, legs and head off, prime them black, then put them back together in your intended pose before hitting it with the white. I chose a pose with the head turned to the left, looking in the same direction as the barrel of the gun. The primary light source was placed coming from the upper front right quadrant; this generates a little more interest as one half of the face would be in light and the other half would be shadowed. I’m not sure the zenithal prime was completely necessary as I’ve probably wiped out any preshading effects with my multi-layer chipping, but I’ve found it to be a good initial step regardless as doing a zenithal and taking a few photos can really help my understanding of how light and shadow interact with the model.

Of hairspray and chips

Having tried out the hairspray chipping method earlier this year on some terrain, I decided to kick it up a notch. For those who don’t know, the idea behind the hairspray chipping method is that you paint the model with the colour you intend for the chips to be, varnish it, apply a chipping medium (either specific hobby products or hairspray) and paint your main paint colour overtop all of that. Once that second coat of paint is dried, you can spray some water onto it. That water will soak through the acrylic paint in the second layer and into the chipping medium, where it will reactivate it. With that underlying area reactivated, you can chip away chunks of the top layer of paint with a stiff brush and expose the underlying paint colour.

chipping.png

Cross section of a model with hairspray chipping.

The advantages to this technique should be obvious. You’re basically chipping away paint on the model, similar to how paint on the real thing would actually chip and flake off as it gets beat up. You can get a very interesting look, different from either sponge weathering or painting on your chips. And, while it does take a little extra time with the multiple layers (though if you know how to use your airbrush, it’s not that bad), once you pull out your toothbrush and go at it, you can chip away large surfaces in no time flat.

So, for the first layer, I took the thing apart again and sprayed it with Vallejo Metal Color steel, VMC being the only metallic paint that goes through my airbrush. Next, I followed up by spraying a few random browns and oranges here and there in a random pattern, just so there would be some variation in the rust colour on different areas of the model.

IMG_1076.JPG

Rusty Gundam

Finally, I took a big, stiff brush and some Citadel Ryza Rust and just dabbed, stippled, and dry-brushed this all over. Ryza Rust is a bright orange and is one of Citadel’s dry paints, which are very thick, goopy paints designed for dry brushing. While they are often maligned — after all, it’s not that hard to dry brush with regular paints — it is pretty good for this sort of application where you just want random rust patterns. That said, I suspect that artist heavy body acrylics would be pretty similar and much more economical than the Citadel dry paints, and don’t come in one of the worst paint posts known to man, so I’ll probably head to the art store rather than the FLGS next time I need more.

 

With the first layer done, I varnished it with some Reaper brush on sealer through the airbrush, then sprayed some Vallejo Chipping Medium over the whole thing. However, instead of going straight to my top colour, I had an idea. Like in our models, real-life vehicles are primed before they are painted. I figured that it would add another layer of interest if I had some of the chipping go down to the primer, while other chips would go all the way down to the metal.

IMG_1078.JPG

Zinc Chromate primer (Army Painter Sulfide Ochre) chipped away

As such, I picked up some Sulfide Ochre from Army Painter, which resembled the yellow-green zinc chromate primer that was commonly used on a lot of military vehicles, at least until they found out how carcinogenic it was. I sprayed the whole model with it, needing at least two thin coats to get good coverage, then randomly chipped away about half of it.

 

After another coat of varnish to protect my work and then another layer of chipping medium, it was time to hit it with the actual base colour. I knew the weapons and fists would stay in a gunmetal colour, and there were details such as the eyes that I would have to do with the brush, so I didn’t worry about painting or chipping those, but I figured I would do a two-tone scheme for the rest of the model.

Paint time

Being elbow deep in brightly coloured fantasy models, I hadn’t done many “realistic” colours in a while. So, I decided to go with a green and khaki scheme, partly because I had some Reaper MSP triads in my stash for both an army green and a khaki colour. Reaper tends to group their paints into “triads” where you can get a shadow, base, and highlight colour, which is really useful for beginners. In this case, I had the Terran Khaki (Terran Khaki, Khaki Shadow, and Khaki Highlight) and Olive Green (Olive Green, Muddy Olive, and Pale Olive) triads.

That said, I wasn’t completely enthused with the triads for these colours. When I paint greens, I like to have a cool to warm transition from the shadows to the highlights, and these colours didn’t seem to have much of that. The green in particular didn’t seem to have much change in hue; instead it looked like they just added white to the base colour to create the highlight. So, when I was spraying, I added a drop of their Blue Liner, a dark blue-black, to the two shadow colours just to deepen the shadows a little. Further, for the greens, instead of using the supplied highlight colour, I added yellow to the base colour to make a warmer highlight.

IMG_1110.JPG

Paints used

I sprayed the Khaki first, again, using a similar procedure as I did for the zenithal prime. I would disassemble the gundam, spray the entire thing in the shadow colour, making sure I get good coverage, then reassemble it and start working up. This allows me to both make sure I don’t miss a spot, but also with it reassembled and in its intended pose, it’s much easier to figure out exactly where to place shadows and highlights. I took it apart again, did a little masking, and repeated the process for the green.

IMG_1111.JPG

Finally, there were a few areas that I wanted black. They weren’t particularly large, so I brush painted them on, using my usual cool black highlight colours. Generally, when I’m painting black, I have a little formula that starts with a pure black, and gets highlighted up to Reaper’s Blue Liner, P3 Gravedigger Denim, and P3 Frostbite. Using a combination of blending and glazes, I made a fairly smooth transition with the brush that didn’t involve a lot of masking and an airbrush. I felt that while I wanted them to be nice, the transitions didn’t have to be perfect because even if my blend wasn’t completely smooth, the weathering and chipping would either cover it up or draw attention away from it.

Now, with my beautiful paint job all done and the right highlights and shadows, I sprayed all the pieces with water and chipped it once more, revealing both the zinc chromate primer and the rusted metal underneath.

Next Steps

While the model was starting to come together at this point, there was still a lot to be done. Panel lines and edge highlights, as well as some additional post-chipping weathering. Finally, there are a few details that need to be done — the eyes, the sword, and the gun — which are to be done with completely different techniques than the rest of the model. As this is starting to run long, I’ll try to address those in a follow up article.

IMG_1090.JPG

The model, after chipping and some additional weathering steps

 

 

Privateer Press – Sneak Peek at 2019

So, shortly after I wrote my article on what I would like to see in 2019 from Privateer Press, they responded. Well, actually, I don’t think they read my article, but I like to think of myself of having some influence over the mothership, even though we all know that that is completely unrealistic. Anyways, taking a break from the doom and gloom that has infested the Warmachine internet over the past several days, I figured I would take a look at what they have to offer.

Stormbreak

Stormbreak is a series of narrative events for Warmachine which will encompass Winter Rampage, a spring narrative league, and culminate in a final event at Lock and Load 2019. This is something that we’ve seen before with their Crossroads of Courage league and the Battle of Boarsgate in 2017. However, the stakes are much higher; instead of simply deciding the fate of one character in the Iron Kingdoms, we’re influencing the fate of multiple key characters as well as the liberated province of East Khador (or “Llael” as some filthy southerners call it).

This sounds cool. While I’m not crazy about the possibility of Khador losing its newly liberated territory, I think it will be interesting to see how the story moves forwards. Ever since the launch of Mark III, it feels like we’ve been building up to something big between the rise of the Grymkin and the Crucible Guard. This could be it; an epic cataclysm that really pushes the story forward.

Art Book

art book.pngThey’ve also announced a kickstarter for an art book containing the best art from 20 years of Privateer Press, not to mention a cool looking Riot Quest model to go along with it. This is going to be interesting. I’m a sucker for PP’s aesthetic, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to go all in on this. Of course, being a kickstarter, there’s a lot that can go either really right or really wrong between stretch goals, shipping, fulfillment, etc., but I think PP is a big enough and reputable enough company that they aren’t going to Ninja Division this thing.

Infernals

Infernals are the newest faction to be teased for Warmachine, with a release date scheduled for Lock and Load 2019. These shadowy figures are known for offering backhanded deals, and have come to collect their due on a thousand year old debt that humanity owes.

image006.png

To be honest, I’m a little apprehensive about Infernals for two reasons, one fluff-based and one gameplay based. First, from what little I know of the fluff, the Infernals are shadowy sorts working in the background. I suspect that this is the sort of thing that might be great fodder for an RPG, but in a miniatures wargame, it may be difficult to go from shadowy, powerful forces working in the background and translate that to an army engaged in pitched battle.

The second has to do with all the unique mechanics being promised. Quite frankly, we’ve seen this before and I don’t enjoy playing against Grymkin. Not only is their arcana system very different, but it can also be very punishing for the opponent who has to play around it to a much larger extent than against other factions for fear of activating their trap card. More often than against every other faction, I feel like with Grymkin, I need to work around these arcana for several turns, with the hope that by turn four or five, I have enough of my army left that we can sit down and actually have a game of Warmachine. Not to mention how annoying those Gremlin Swarms are.

My concern is that with Infernals, they may end up going a similar route with lots of special rules that really warp the game or force hard gear checks like with those damn Gremlin Swarms or heavy recursion lists like pre-nerf Ghost Fleet that demand Remove From Play effects (among other things) to even have a game. Already they’ve alluded to them being very different from anything we’ve seen before, and as someone who likes Warmachine as it is, I’m not sure that’s necessarily a good thing.

Warmachine: Oblivion

Following the release of the Infernals, PP plans to take us into the heart of the Infernal apolcalypse with Oblivion, a brand new campaign book.

This is something that I’m really looking forward to. First, a campaign book for Warmachine packed full of interesting narrative scenarios would just be straight-up cool. Second, it’s been a while since we’ve had something like this where we have a big release that has something for everyone in it, with Privateer Press instead preferring to bundle their releases according to faction. So, for example, one faction may get all their releases in one month, then the next will get their turn. While this may be a more manageable release schedule from a playtesting perspective, what it means is that at any one time, only a relatively small portion of players are getting goodies for their faction that they can be excited about. Oblivion, however, promises something for everyone, which we haven’t really had in a while.

And, perhaps with some focus on Morrowans, maybe Connie B might get some love?

MonPoc and L5R Mini-crates

I’ll be honest, this looks cool but it’s not my jam, so I don’t have a lot of excitement for it. But… it’s good for those who are into it, I guess.

Riot Quest!

We got some more information about Riot Quest! It’s going to be set in an alternate future in the Iron Kingdoms, where players assemble crews and duke it out on a hex map, each gang trying to “Wreck Face and Get Paid” in the chaos of the brawl.\

riot quest.pngSo far, I like most of the models that have been shown. Mixing classic Iron Kingdoms steampunk elements with some futuristic tech makes for some interesting models. My hope is that they are resin/metal and not some cheap board game plastic.

I actually think the use of a hex map is interesting. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and talking to some people lately, and to be honest, I don’t think miniature games with freeform measuring are that great to be played competitively. Trying to get measurements down to the levels of precision necessary for competitive play results in not just the obnoxiousness of having to bust out lasers and custom laser-cut widgets, but also compromises on things like terrain. Not to mention how easy it is to bump a model and permanently screw up the game state. With a hex map, on the other hand, it’s pretty easy to tell if someone is four or five hexes away.

Now, from what we’ve seen so far, it looks like Riot Quest isn’t intended to be a competitive game. However, the hex maps can also help take some of the pressure off for casual play, as we don’t need to stress ourselves out over precision measurements and the like.

The one thing that they didn’t really mention, that I hope plays a big role, is terrain. If the hex map is just a plain board, that’s going to get a little dull. But if we have Necromunda style scaffolding and industrial terrain, based around hexes to both look more futuristic and match the hex map… now we’re talking.

Conclusion

Despite on the doom and gloom on the internet lately over some staff turnover at PP headquarters, it looks like they have big plans for 2019. This is very reassuring, and I think 2019 is going to be a great year for fans of PP.

Also: Riot. Quest.

Paintlog: Ill-conceived conversions and fun with photoetch

It’s been about a month or two since my last paintlog, and if I had to give November a theme, it would be conversions and kitbashes. Possibly ill-conceived and overly-ambitious conversions and kitbashing, but conversions and kitbashing nonetheless.

Greylord Outriders

These are models that have been sitting on the shelf of shame for at least two years. I remember when I first got them, I quickly slapped three or so of them together, and did some conversion work on the other two, messing around with green stuff and alternate heads to add to the gender diversity of this unit. I also sculpted some snowball like things coming out of their hands to represent the magic spells that they cast. These were just paper clips with an extended teardrop shape sculpted in green stuff, then textured by dragging a hobby knife along the length of the item. Drill a hole in the hands, pop the paper clip in, and call it a day.

Then, they rested on my shelf for at least two years. When I resolved to clear off my shelf of shame (that is, my shelf where I put all my assembled but unpainted models), these guys were some of the last that I got to, mostly because I don’t really like painting cavalry, and partly because they don’t exactly fit my army tactics-wise.

When it came time to paint them, I decided to start by using the airbrush as much as I could to bang out the bulk of the actual horses, then paint the riders and details such as the saddles, harnesses, and mane with a brush. After applying black primer and a zenithal highlight, I got to work, initially starting with a mixture of a dark brown and Reaper’s Blue Liner, which is essentially a blue-black that seems to have been originally formulated for doing darklining on blue surfaces like the armour of a space marine. Of course, the blue was chosen over black because colour theory.

From there, I worked up to the  highlights, spraying from above and going from brown to a slightly reddish leather colour, and mixing in a touch of P3 Menoth White Highlight (one of my go-to off-whites) into the highest highlight. When I was satisfied with the horses, at least for a tabletop quality miniature that I wanted off my shelf and in my display case with the rest of my army, I moved on to brush painting everything else. Finally, I did bust out the airbrush again to do quick OSL effects on the magic spells and a couple other little things. I may have gone slightly overboard with the blue glow, but they’re spell-slinging cavalry, so who cares?

IMG_1049.JPG

Honestly, some of the green stuff work is a little rough and there are a couple places where the paint was a little quick and dirty and my blends weren’t perfect, but it’s good enough for tabletop and it’s got me closer to having a completely empty shelf of shame.

Vlatka Tzepesci, Great Princess of Umbrey

IMG_1085.JPGAnd, speaking of ill-conceived gender-bent cavalry models, I’ve decided to put my own spin on Vladimir Tzepesci, Great Prince of Umbrey (Vlad3) as well, kitbashing his horse and weaponry with Alexia’s body and head to make my own special version. The horse is basically stock, aside from some gap filling here and there.

As these were both metal models, this process involved a lot of filing to make Alexia fit on the horse designed for Vlad, and make sure that Vlad’s cape fits on her. It was a bit of a pain because cutting, filing and pinning metal models gets real obnoxious real fast. I did a little but of sculpting, using various epoxy putties to sculpt some transitions on places like the cape where the two pieces from two models not designed to ever go together met, and sculpted a cloth hanging down on one side of the saddle to cover up some rough areas where she didn’t quite fit that nicely on the horse. I also, of course, had to sculpt on some big shoulder pads because if there is one thing Vlad is notorious for, it’s oversized shoulder pads that put GW’s Space Marines to shame. I did keep it somewhat restrained though for both aesthetics and versimilitude, not that a model of someone riding a horse while simultaneously wielding a spear and a flail makes any sense on any level whatsoever. Finally, the weapons involved a lot of pinning with very tiny pins because they are small metal pieces that will break off if you breath on them the wrong way, and the shaft of the spear was replaced with a brass rod because leaving it in pewter is just asking for trouble.

In the end, between the reposing of the spear and the elevated base I constructed for this model, I think she is taller than a stock colossal. I know this is going to cause headaches if I ever bring her to a tournament, but that’s one thing that I almost never worry about.

Chibi Gundam

IMG_1078.JPG

I’ve also started on an SD Gundam, which is basically the Toon Tank of the Gundam universe. I’ve decided that with the deformed, cutesy shape, it would be interesting to contrast that with lots of weathering. I’ve started off with the hairspray technique in two layers. After priming with Synylrez, I started with the metal and rust layer. I sprayed the entire model with Vallejo Metal Color Steel, then sprayed, stippled and dry-brushed some various tones of brown and orange on there. I varnished that, then picked out a colour that roughly resembles the yellow primer you see on planes and other military equipment from the Army Painter rack at my FLGS. After applying the varnish and chipping medium, I chipped away at it, trying to get about half of the primer off. The idea is that when I chip the top coat, some of the chips will show primer, while some of the chips will go all the way to the metal.

I haven’t quite decided what colours I will paint this in yet, though I’m leaning towards a green and khaki scheme. I’d like to really push the weathering; in addition to doing the double layer chipping for the first time and using my usual techniques of sponging and painting on scratches, I was thinking of trying out oils, streaking products, and really play around with dry pigments.

Flag Statue

IMG_1079.JPGI also figured that for Warmachine, I need a third flag model to act as an objective now that three-flag scenarios are a thing again. However, I’ve already exhausted both Khador standard bearers, so it was time to do a conversion. I took a Kossite Woodsman leader, a flag from a Man-O-War, some pins and a brass tube and made myself a third unique flag. I also used the same Reaper base as my last ones, and will end up using the same painting tactic to make it look like an old bronze statue.

Fortunately, I remembered to take the picture halfway through brush priming with Reaper, so you can see the use of brass tube to replace the flagpole. Now that it’s all primed, he shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to paint through heavy use of dry-brushing and Citadel’s Nihilakh Oxide technical paint.

Me-109B

And now for something completely different, with the successful completion of my PZL 23 project, I’ve decided to embark on a more ambitious scale aircraft, AMG’s Me-109B in 1:48 scale. I don’t have a lot of recent experience with model aircraft kits, but this is definitely more complicated than my last work in that medium, as well as the model kits that I would build in my childhood.

This kit includes lots of advanced features in the box such as photo-etch parts, and is of a sufficiently obscure subject that I can’t imagine that very much aftermarket bling would be either necessary or even available for the more discerning modeller.

IMG_1073.JPG

Interior, just prior to joining the two halves of the fuselage

And speaking of photo-etch, that stuff can die in a fire. For the uninitiated, photo-etch are very tiny parts, made through the use of a photographic etching process on a thin brass sheet. This allows for smaller and more detailed parts than is possible with either plastic or resin, which can be both a blessing and a curse. Further, it is not uncommon to have to bend parts into the shape required, such as with the map case on the side of the cockpit. It’s not so bad when it’s just gluing a sheet to a flat piece of plastic, but when you start having to bend it and make complex shapes, it gets real obnoxious real fast.

Fortunately, most of the photoetch is cockpit detail, and now that I’ve got the cockpit in place and by some miracle the two halves of the fuselage actually went together fairly nicely. I think the plan is going to be work on filling seams for the time being, as well as getting some of the sub-assemblies together to glue on once that is done. I’m hoping to get it together fairly quickly, as I have a unique colour scheme in mind and I’m getting antsy to start airbrushing.

Secret project

I do have one more project on the go; though I shared some pictures with a few people, I’m keeping it under wraps for the moment until I’m done. Suffice it to say, it is a very expensive and very involved conversion that involves a lot of plasticard and milliput. And a lot of filing and sanding resin, which is always a task that requires care because that’s some stuff you really don’t want in your lungs.

Next Steps

Right now, I’ve eliminated my shelf of shame, however I have a lot of projects on the bench. I’ve been keeping them organized by using halves of boxes as trays, however it would be nice to clear off a couple and bring my WIP queue down to a more manageable level. But, on the other hand, a coworker is interested in a Warmachine demo, so I think I may pivot to that Cygnar battlebox I have kicking around. I know, it’s Cygnar, but someone has to be the bad guys.

 

 

Privateer Press steals my idea!

Dear readers, I would like to alert you to the biggest travesty of Privateer Press’ CID program since the release of the Siege Animantarax. Clearly dissatisfied with their ability to come up with ideas on their own, the creative team at Privateer Press has decided to engage in bald-faced copying of my work. The pictures speak for themselves; on the left, you can see my Bombshell Battle Mechanik Officer, an original creation of mine kitbashed out of three or four different Privateer Press models and on the right, you can see some concept art for one of their models currently being tested in the Steelhead CID. As you can see, the resemblance is uncanny.

copying.jpg

The legal department of Ice Axe Miniatures has been notified, and they will be working around the clock to prepare a blistering response.

Okay, but seriously…

I’m having some fun here with the uncanny resemblance between my model and the Ironhead (Steelhead Ironhead?) concept art, so I figured this might be a good time to revisit an older model.

This model is a conversion I did at least two years ago, using the Bombardier Bombshell as a base and arms from the Battle Mechanik Officer, as well as a few bits and bobs here and there. I fashioned a blowtorch out of parts from an Assault Kommando flamethrower and replaced the beer in her hand with a scratchbuilt wrench. Nothing too complicated, but it was an early entry into the kitbashing aspect of this hobby for me.

When it came to painting, she was my first attempt at something that might be close to display quality before I got into serious display painting. While she is on a gaming base, I remember when I painted her that my goal was to really push my abilities and do a good job. I remember the challenges of painting the skin tone and the tattoos on such a small model (with a 40mm base, the actual woman inside the armour was smaller than usual for a Warmachine miniature), and I made sure to incorporate highlights (even if they may not be the brightest highlights) and shadows on plenty of surfaces. I believe the base coat was laid down with my first airbrush, a single-action Badger 350 that a coworker who had long since given up the scale armour hobby had handed down to me.

Now, I think I’ve come a long way since then. A couple of the conversion parts were a little rough and the metallics are nowhere near my current skill level with true metallic metal. This was also long before I started really experimenting with weathering techniques, so aside from the spot of grease on her cheek, the model is a lot less dirty and dinged up than my more recent work. It’s interesting looking back on this model, one representing the pinnacle of my abilities at the time, and seeing how far I’ve come.

Backstory

volkov.pngI did end up playing this character in a campaign where one of the perks was that we could build our own warcasters using IKRPG rules. Because Kommander Harkevich is my favourite character from the Warmachine universe, I envisioned her as Harkevich’s apprentice, Alexandra Volkov, a mechanic whose warcaster powers were discovered while she was doing repairs on Black Ivan. Like the Iron Wolf, she was assigned to Llael to defend the territorial integrity of East Khador from Cygnaran invaders. She ended up getting a lot of jack support spells, and feat that allowed her to swap upkeep spells around for free, allowing for more focus allocation on one key turn. While she performed admirably during the league, I couldn’t tell at the end of the day whether she was unplayable trash or OP bullshit, which are the only two things a model in Warmachine can be.

Conclusion

While this older miniature may not be quite up to my present standards, it does represent a certain progression on my hobby journey, and it’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination. As proof, I would point to the saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so clearly someone at Privateer Press is a big fan of my work.

PS: If Matt Wilson is reading this, I would consider settling any legal proceedings in exchange for a nice big royalty cheque or a free Khador colossal…