A more beautiful Beast

Editor’s note: It’s been a while since I’ve written an article here, I know. It’s been a rough time for all of us, and I’ve been having some difficulty adjusting to everything. I’m doing fine, all things considered. When this all started, I thought it would be nice to spend some time indoors and focus on personal projects for a few weeks, and then things would get back to normal.

Yeah, about that. It’s been four months, and things aren’t looking like they are going to get back to normal any time soon. The pandemic has us all stressed out and even those of us who have a lot of time on our hands are finding it hard to concentrate on anything. While my mental health has probably suffered a little, I’m still lucky in a lot of ways in that I have a stable job that I can do from home, and I haven’t had any close friends or family come down with COVID-19. A lot of people are struggling hard right now, between a global pandemic and all the racism and political issues we are dealing with — issues that have always been there, but have been boiling over these past couple of months. It’s a stressful time for all of us, but it’s also a time when it is important try to be good to each other. Be nice, okay?

Except to fascists, they suck.

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Ah, scale creep. It’s a common thing in the world of miniature gaming – a company will start out by making their figures in a certain scale, but eventually the temptation to start models that are a little bigger and have a bit more presence on the table will kick in. It’s not necessarily bad – bigger, cooler, better-looking models are objectively a good thing – but for people with large collections, seeing the old next to the new can make the old models look bad.

Warmachine is no stranger to this issue. When they first launched the game, it was all metal models because plastic is for people who don’t have testicles or something. At least, that’s what it said on Page 5. These metal models may have been fine for the time, but next to newer plastic and resin releases, they look tiny and kind of… pathetic.

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Wow. This aged terribly, and given that 2003 wasn’t that long ago, it probably sucked when it was new as well.

Unfortunately, not every model in their catalogue has been updated. In some cases, the community adapted. Guides existed online for enterprising Khador players to make a better-looking Behemoth out of various parts from the Privateer Press bits store, though PP did eventually come up with a resculpt. However, there remains one warjack in the Khador stable that desperately needs a resculpt – that is Beast 09, Sorscha’s character warjack.

Beauty and the Beast

Beast 09 is supposed to be a badass. An aggressive, ruthless, killing machine that strikes fear into the hearts of anyone in its path. With a giant axe, it cuts swaths through flesh and metal enemies alike, wrecking anyone and anything that gets in its way. Unfortunately, these qualities do not carry through into the model when you place it on the tabletop.

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See how badass he looks in the official art?

There are two issues here, namely that the sculpt that had some problems back in the day, and it did not age well in the twelve or so years since it was released. Like many of the old metal warjacks, as soon as the first plastic warjacks came out, they immediately looked tiny, obsolete, and not very intimidating on the tabletop. These issues are compounded by the fact that the pose is very squat and not very dynamic, with the knees bent, making it look even shorter than it actually is. And… is it just me or is it weird that the axe has an icicle hanging off of it? You would think the icicle would immediately break off as soon as you swing it, especially that swing connects with a Cygnaran warjack.

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This sculpt isn’t horrible on its own, aside from the dumpy pose, but next to any other warjack, Beast-09 looks more like Beast-0.9

Like with the old Extremoth, the answer to this issue is a conversion. Sure, you can probably do a conversion using a regular Juggernaut kit, but this is Beast 09 we are talking about here – as a character warjack, it should have more table presence than your regular, non-character warjacks. Using an Extreme Juggernaut as a base, you can make something that, in the absence of a huge-based model, can be a centerpiece of your army.

What you will need

For this project, you will need a few things. Since Beast 09 is basically an upgraded Juggernaut, the Extreme Juggernaut (PIP 33115) is a natural starting point. In addition, you will need a few bits from your collection or the PP bits store. These include:

Black Ivan upgrade kit (PIP 33087) – you will need two spiked shoulder pieces as well as two of the claw bodies. Each kit comes with two of the shoulder pieces and one of the claw bodies, so you might be better off just buying two of these these kits and throw the leftover parts in your stash of bits.

Torch upgrade kit (PIP 33082) – the medal on Torch’s chest makes a good stand-in for Beast’s decorations; this is something you can probably get from the bits store though, unless you need the other parts for another project.

Spikes – when you are trying to make a warjack look badass, festooning it with spikes is a good idea. I used ones from my stash, but I think they were a couple Berserker spikes from the old metal sculpt and a sprue of metal Drago spikes. They’re just good to have around in your bits box, and adding a few bucks worth of spikes to your PP orders once the bits store reopens is a good way to source them.

In addition to your usual tools for working with metal warjacks, like a pin vise, drill bits, and glue, you will also need some basic sculpting and scratchbuilding supplies. These include:

Some brass rods and tubes

Plasticard/sheet styrene of various thicknesses

Meng rivet setthese are good for adding or replacing rivets, and are useful in a lot of conversions like this. Simply shave off the rivet from the plastic sheet with a knife and glue it onto the model.

Putty – I recommend Apoxie Sculpt as it is more easily workable than Milliput, but files and sands a lot better than green stuff or brown stuff

Tools – files, sanding sticks, and a saw.

Don’t Skip Leg Day

It’s natural to want to start with the legs, and one of the first things you will notice when you do so is that Beast 09 has some additional details on the legs not present on the juggernaut. Fortunately, you can add most of this detail with sheet styrene. Simply take some thin pieces, cut them roughly to shape, and glue them to the plate. Then, using a knife and some files, remove the excess overhang over the edges of the armour plate. Finally, add some rivets.

The tow rings can be added by taking a piece of plastic tube, cutting a small piece off the end, and sanding down the edges so it resmebles more a donut than a section of pipe. Glue that on, then simply sculpt a little ring to hold it on.

On the center plate, start by filing it flat. Some small bits of styrene tube can be used for the edges, and you can cut the runes on the plaque out of sheet styrene. The same process as we used on the thigh pieces can be used for the row of armour plate on the bottom, and more rivets can be added.

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On the back, you will also notice that in place of the butt-flap armour plate, Beast 09 has some square chunky parts. I built these up with thick pieces of plasticard, then filed and sanded it into shape. After attaching it to the body with super glue, I filled in the gap with Apoxie Sculpt and smoothed it out. This may not be necessary because it’s hardly noticeable, but I think it’s a nice touch.

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Warjack butts. L-R: Studio Juggernaut, Studio Beast 09, and my conversion. Sorry, I forgot to get a pre-primer shot.

Also, I did some work to change the pose of mine in order to make it more dynamic, balancing the entire model on the ball of one foot as though it was charging forwards. You don’t have to do this, but if you do, make sure it is securely pinned not only to the base, but that the foot is securely pinned to the leg.

Torso Time

The torso on Beast 09 has a few distinctive elements that we want to add. Most distinctive are the additional spikes in the shoulder area. The shoulder spikes from Black Ivan make a good substitute, though there are a few things you need to do to get them to fit nicely. Since the Black Ivan spikes are located using the rivets that are molded into the body, I find the best way to line them up is to use one of the rivets to locate them and file the rest off as they won’t line up with Black Ivan’s. The curve doesn’t quite match, so there will be some filing and putty work to blend these spikes into the rest of the body. Finally, the armour plate that these spikes are attached to on Black Ivan has rounded edges, while Beast is much more square. To address this, you can build up the corners with Apoxie Sculpt, filling out the rounded edges, then file them back down so they are square as opposed to rounded.

While you have the Apoxie Sculpt out, it’s also a good time to deal with the plaque around the neck that has the symbols on it. Simply use your putty build up the collar area, then once it dries and you have it sanded smooth, you can use small plasticard rods to make the edges. Then, carve some runes into the plaque using your scribing tool of choice. For the medal, I simply used Torch’s medal and made a couple ribbons out of plasticard, then pinned it in place on what would be the chest area.

Finally, Beast 09 has the Khador symbol on that top piece of armour plate. I didn’t want to try sculpting it, so instead I threw on some of Drago’s spikes so I would at least have something cool there and it wouldn’t be blank, and I think it definitely looks more intimidating than the original. I also didn’t bother with the additional detail on the smoke stacks, as I didn’t have a particularly good way to make six identical curved pipes for the exhaust tips and thought it looked good enough without them.

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To Arms!

If you want, you can probably get away with simply using the arms that came in the Extreme Juggernaut kit, but I didn’t think they looked quite right. The Extreme Juggernaut has some very rounded elements to the armour plate on its arms, while Beast is a little more square and boxy looking. We can address this be replacing the hand parts from the Extreme Juggernaut with the claw body of Black Ivan.

First, you will need to remove a section of Black Ivan’s claws, using a saw and a file to get rid of it. Then, pin the claws of Black Ivan to the forearms of the Juggernaut. This will look a little weird as the forearms are rounded but the claws or square, but you can fix that with putty – on the armour plate on the Juggy next to where it meets up with the claws, build up the rounded areas where the corners should be, then file and sand it back down in a more square shape. Add some rivets and maybe a spike, and you’re in business.

Finally, pin the fingers of the Juggy in place onto the claw body of Black Ivan. These fit decently as they are about the same size as Black Ivan’s claw fingers, however it will need a little bit of putty to make them mate up properly.

Axe to face!

Since I wasn’t a fan of the icicles on the original Beast 09 sculpt, all I had to do with the axe was extend the shaft a little to represent the 2” reach on Beast as opposed to the 1” reach of the Juggernaut. Remove the existing shaft, and replace with brass tube – it’s a pretty simple conversion, and it will give you the added benefit of a straighter, stiffer axe shaft that is less likely to get bent or broken. In addition to using a second tube to incorporate a bit of detail, I made sure to drill all the way through the axe head and allow the shaft to poke through the top of the axe a little, just to make it look a little more interesting.

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Final steps

That’s it for the conversion process; the rest is just assembly. Since the shoulders, elbows and waist are ball-jointed, you do have some flexibility in the pose. I find that, like with many warjacks, it’s a little easier do a sub-assembly, with a pin in the waist, so you can paint the legs separately. From there, it’s just a matter of priming, painting and basing, which I did using my usual techniques plus some playing around with oil paints.

Conclusion

Without a doubt, Beast 09 is the Khador model that is the most badly needs a resculpt. I was hoping we might get one when they released Sorscha3 and the new Man-O-War models, but sadly, it was not to be. Fortunately, it’s something you can do on your own with an Extreme Juggernaut, some spare parts, and some basic scratchbuilding skills.

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One of these things is more extreme than the other…

 

Bonus Content: Léa

Lately, I’ve been playing around with doing figures in unusual light settings, such as at night with some sort of OSL as the main light source. This is my first try at doing it on a large-scale model such as a bust.

The model itself is from Ouroborous Miniatures Exquis kickstarter. Exquis was a series of busts of normal, modern-day women, which I went in on for Léa and Yon. The subjects were interesting and unique, the sculpts were good, and the casting was the quality I expect for a resin display model — some small mold lines to clean up, but overall pretty good. I was most impressed with the turnaround time on the kickstarter. If I remember correctly, I got my product only a couple months after the kickstarter closed, which is a pretty impressive turnaround time. I’d have no qualms about recommending Ouroborous Miniatures kickstarters in the future, as you’re not going to end up waiting for a while unlike certain failed kickstarter projects.

Anyways, this sculpt spoke to me the story of a lost girl or a runaway, so I decided to paint her as though she is lit by a streetlight at night. To set the scene, I built a backdrop, painted it black, and stippled on some a little bit of light everywhere but directly behind her, which would be in her shadow.

I think it turned out fairly well — it’s probably not perfect, but it’s also the first time I’ve done something like this. I’ll definitely be playing with this sort of thing some more, though in the meantime I have some other challenging projects on the go so I probably won’t return to it for a little while.

Ruin: The Overspray is the OSL

When I first started miniature painting, there were two techniques that seemed like elite level god tier things that are the difference between someone who is okay at miniature painting and a true master. One is non-metallic metal, and the other is Object Source Lighting, or OSL. I think it is telling that both of these are about doing tricky things with light, but I digress.

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Ruin, from Warmachine

OSL in particular sounds a over the top. Basically, it is painting the miniature such that if you have a glowing part of the model like a lightstaber or a glowing sword, you paint the glow of the light onto other areas of the model. For example, if you’re painting Darth Vader, in order to sell the glow of the lightsaber, you may want to place some red glow onto his cape where the light from the lightsaber is hitting and reflecting off his black cape.

 

Now, before we get too deep into it, let’s discuss some of the theory behind this to avoid some common mistakes. First, and let us just get out of the way first, this is the sort of technique where realism takes a back seat to artistic license. For something to really light up a model in the way we commonly do with OSL and bathe it in coloured light, it needs to be almost unrealistically bright. Which, I suppose isn’t a big deal when we’re talking about glowing swords and lightsabers, but it is something to keep in mind. We’re trying to sell an effect, not necessarily be super realistic here.

Secondly, we need to think about the ambient lighting as well. In bright sunlight, any light emanating from a glowing thing is going to be overwhelmed by the ambient light of the sun. However, if we’re on a moonless night, then the object in question is going to be the only source of light and we’re going to have strong OSL. Consider, for example, the below pictures of Aayla Secura and Darth Vader. Aayla is outside in daylight, so there is little to no OSL, while Darth Vader is in the dark and we can see the glow on his cape and hand.

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We also need to think of the relative strength of the source of the light, the glow, and the rest of the model. When you’re doing OSL, the brightest spot should always be the source of the light. For coloured light, this could almost go to white. Next should be the glow, then finally, the rest of the model not basked in the glow of your glowing object. This means that you need to make sure you have somewhere to go in your colour scheme. OSL works really well on dark colour schemes like Darth Vader; for white models like Retribution warjacks, it can be tricky to get the glow brighter than the rest of the model because you’re trying to make something that is brighter than white. Which is hard.

Finally, light tends to emit from objects in a straight line. It can diffuse a little around corners, but when you’re placing your glow effect, you need to be careful that the places that are shadowed from the light emanating from your glowing object are in shadow.

Now, if only we had some sort of device that can shoot paint out from a point and in a straight line…

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Oh. Right.

Ruin and Airbrush OSL

Getting back to this model for a little bit, Ruin is the product of a bunch of Khador experimentation with ancient Orgoth relics, so it is a warjack powered by a mixture of coal and the souls of the dead. While the default sculpt is pretty cool, I decided I wanted to kick mine up a notch by adding a glowing patch of swirling souls to the right shoulder, as well as a some poor Cygnar long gunner on the base and a wisp representing his soul being sucked out of his body and into the shield.

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Pictured: dead swan

With the model painted and weathered in largely the same scheme as my Grolar and the rest of my army, and after dropping it off my desk and having to pin it back together, it was time to hit it with the OSL. As this is a robit chock-full of evil magic, I wanted to put in a lot of glow effects. The sculpt had a number of runes carved into it, which I wanted to make glowing, as well as the shield, soul, shoulder, and visor.

IMG_0968For the soul and the shoulder, I did paint them beforehand, trying out GW’s new ghost technical paint, the Hexwraith Flame, over a near-white base. It kind of worked, though you do need to highlight this to get the proper effect, either with layering or dry brushing. However, for the runes, all I did was drop some white paint into the rune as an undercoat.

From there, we’re going to mix up a glaze in our glow colour and drop it into an airbrush, thinning it enough to increase the transparency. The only challenge here is trigger control; you may want to practice on something else first, but you want to be able to pull back just enough to barely tint the target. Once you start seeing the colour starting to change, you can simply stay on target until it you get the effect you want. Finally, it is worth experimenting with both inks and paints until you get the colour and consistency that works for you.

IMG_0969For things like the runes and the visor, simply point and shoot. The paint hitting the . Since we’ve undercoated the source of the light with white, we will naturally get the effect we want — brightest at the source of the light, and duller in the areas of the glow.

When it comes to larger objects like the wisp of souls, what we can do is use the fact that an airbrush shoots paint in a straight line emanating from a point to our advantage. Simply fire at such an angle as though the paint is coming out roughly from the light source and hitting the model. This will lay the glow in where it would naturally fall.

And that’s about it. You may need to go back and reinforce some of the light sources with a little white, or play around with some washes overtop, but a few simple airbrush tricks can get you a passable OSL in no time at all that makes you look to the untrained eye like an elite god-tier painter.

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Grolar Epilogue: Progress and Dojo

In a few of my most recent articles, I talked about how I painted up the Kodiak/Grolar multikit that I won in the Iron Arena at the Capital City Bloodbath this year. This is actually my second Grolar, and if you put them side by side, I think you can get a clear picture of my progression as a painter over the past year and a half or so. I think the newer model showcases a few key aspects where my skill has increased.

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New Grolar (left) and old Grolar (right)

The most obvious difference here is the weathering. The first model was painted long before I started looking into weathering techniques, so when you look at them side by side, you can see that the newer one has a lot more character to it thanks to all the dirt and rust and battle damage. It took me a long time to really get into weathering (outside of character warjacks), but I think the results really do speak for themselves. Weathering adds character and can help your model really tell a story.

The second big difference, I think, is the whites. In the older model, I was probably still just painting the white in a straight white. Whereas in the newer model, I had actually highlighted the whites, starting with a mix of grey and a touch of P3 Frostbite to push the white into a slightly cooler area of the spectrum, and only going up to straight white on the edges and in the highest highlights. I feel that just looking at these two models side by side, this makes a huge difference, especially on the white piece around the neck area.

But the biggest difference of all has to be the metals. In the old one, I was probably just painting them with a silver or brass colour, washing it with nuln oil or some other black wash, and maybe drybrushing it a bit before calling it a day. It looks okay for a gaming piece, but to really take it to the next level, as on the second one, I had to learn to highlight metals. I would start with a darker silver or brass colour, then after applying a wash, I’d work my way up to either a bright silver or a bright brass. Simply look at the curved pieces on the hammer and the guns to see the difference; the newer model looks a lot more three dimensional, and the brass really “pops” in a way that the older model doesn’t.

In addition, the later model has more brass to it. This has been a theme with a lot of the models in this colour scheme. My early models were mostly purple, white and silver, but as I played with colours a little more, I found that the more brass I put on them, the better they looked. This was before I had an understanding of colour theory, of course, so when I first learned about the colour wheel and how to get good contrast, it totally made sense. Gold is directly across the colour wheel from purple, so of course, mixing purple and a warm gold on a model is going to give you both the complementary colours contrast, as well as some cool/warm contrast, and it’s going to look a lot more balanced and pleasing to the eye than a model that is all purple, white, and a cool silver.

Further, adding more gold can help show more details. For the pipes on top of the original model, I did them all in silver, while on the newer one, I did the pipes in silver but the elbow joints in brass. In addition to adding some visual interest and breaking up the big giant silver piece, it also makes it so that the detail is more easily apparent to the viewer at a distance or at a quick glance.

Overall, I would say that these two models represent progress on my hobby journey. The older once is not perfect, and by my new standards, it’s probably not even that great. However, I’m not ashamed of it or anything like that, because it represents how far I’ve come. That’s the thing with any hobby – no model is perfect, and you get better and better with every piece. It’s a journey, not a destination.

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With apologies to Cyanide and Happiness

Bonus! Grolar Dojo!

As an aside, I took the Grolar variant to a tournament a couple weeks ago, and he did very well. He personally killed two warlocks, which helped me clinch third place after a total brainfart in the second-last round cost me a game I had pretty much won (“I’m going to table my opponent except for his caster, get ahead on scenario, then walk into Butcher3’s threat range!”). Since it was a two-list event, I had a Vlad1 Rockets list in my bag, but didn’t bring it out because I forgot my tournament tray and didn’t really want to unpack 50 models every round. So, I just played the following list all four games:

Theme: Jaws of the Wolf

Strakhov1
– Behemoth
– Torch
– Grolar
– Juggernaut
– Marauder

Greylord Forge Seer x2 (free)
Eilish Garrity
Yuri the Axe (free)
Kayazy Eliminators x2
Battle Mechaniks (max)

This list has been something that I have been tweaking for a while, and I straight-up love it. Though it may take a while to learn all his tricks, Strakhov1 has quickly become my favourite caster, and I would argue that with all his movement shenanigans, he is one of the best jack-support casters in Khador right now (perhaps even better than Harkevich and Special K) because of his sheer ability to put warjacks where they need to be, and threaten to assassinate a caster from downtown. Like Sorscha1, even holding onto the feat in the back pocket can help you control the game by simply threatening to kill the enemy caster if he gets too close, with “too close” being defined as “anywhere within 20 inches of any of these warjacks.”

If we go back to the old page 5, and take away some of the puerile and unnecessarily-gendered language, we can see that Warmachine is a game of aggression. You have a better chance of securing victory by taking control of the game and going on the offensive than by sitting around and waiting for your opponent to come to you. With very mobile, deep-striking heavy warjacks that have the base stats to do a lot of damage when they get there, Strakhov can effectively take control of the game and send powerful pieces deep into the enemy’s line in a way that someone like Harkevich really can’t. Harkevich excels at a fair fight, but that’s something your opponent doesn’t always give you. Strakhov, with all his movement shenanigans, can do some interesting hit and run tactics, and he always has an assassination run in his back pocket.

In short, nothing in Warmachine kills things quite like a Khador jack once it gets there. And with the ability to take a model with a SPD of 4 inches and send it 19 inches up the table in non-linear fashion, no one gets a warjack there quite like Strakhov.

Painting my Grolar, Part 3

In a previous article, we got our Grolar almost completed, putting down all the paint and getting it ready for the final few steps — weathering, basing, and a coat of varnish to protect it from grubby gamer hands.

Weathering

In general, weathering techniques are a more recent addition to my hobby repertoire.  It was only this year that I really dove into weathering. Initially, I tried to justify not doing it by saying that my warjacks were fresh out of the factory, but once I got into it, I started to really like the results.

For this model, I used four main techniques.

  1. Painted on scratches
  2. Sponge Weathering
  3. Add texture with Typhus Corrosion
  4. Dry pigments

Painted on scratches

Painting on scratches is not very complicated, however it does require a fine brush and some brush control. But before I get into how to paint it, lets imagine a plate of armour that has taken a whack from a sword or a battleaxe or something like that and consider how it will interact with the light.

In my sketch here, we have a green plate of armour with a scratch halfway up and a light source coming from the top left. Due to the geometry of the scratch, the bottom part of the scratch is going to catch the light, while the top part of the scratch is going to be shadowed.

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Left, the plate of armour with the scratch, right, the plate of armour with the top and bottom of the highlight to illustrate.

So, once we understand this, painting a cool looking scratch is going to be fairly simple, as long as you have the brush control and the right brush and paint consistency. Simply paint a dark colour for the body of the scratch, and add a thin highlight on the bottom of the scratch in a lighter version of your base colour.

This technique may not be the most accurate on a micro scale; after all, most armour plates have relatively thin green paint and relatively thick silver metal to them, and these sort of scratches will probably dig deep into the metal, the juxtaposition of the bright highlight and the dark shadow will give your scratch a three dimensional look, which is exactly what we are going for here.

Also, when it comes to scratches, random scratches are nice, but you can get some extra realism by considering what areas are going to take a beating, and in what direction these scratches are likely to form. As one example, I used to work on construction sites, and I remember once staring at the back end of an excavator. The main body of an excavator can swivel 360 degrees on its tracks, and the back end sticks out fairly far to act as a counterweight to the bucket on the front. This particular excavator had a lot of horizontal scratches on the back, which, in context, totally makes sense. As the body of the excavator swivels around on its tracks and the operator is going to be more focused on the bucket than the back end, sooner or later, that back end is going to rub up against something and the body spins around, it’s going to leave horizontal scratches on the back of the excavator.

So in our fantasy world, if you have something like a warjack that is going to do a lot of punching, you can make the weathering look a little more realistic by adding some scratches extending back from the fists in the direction of the punch. This sort of thing can add a little more realism to your scratches, and make it so that your weathering tells a story, or at least more of a story than “here are some scratches and stuff I painted on this model.”

Sponge Weathering

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Sponge weathering is another simple technique, and it uses something that any wargamer has kicking around in droves — soft foam. You can get this in packaging for Privateer Press miniatures, or from pieces that you’ve plucked from those trays for your battlefoam bag. Simply break off a piece of your pluck foam, or cut off a piece of the foam that comes in the PP blister packs, and you’ve got your applicator.

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See the scratches on areas like the shoulder and the fist, as well as the sponge weathering  and Typhus Corrosion all over.

All you have to do with this technique is take the foam, add some paint, remove the excess with a paper towel, similar to what you do when dry-brushing, and start dabbing the model in areas that you want a weathered, chipping effect. This will apply your paint in random, natural patterns that look sort of like the chipping you might expect to see on a military vehicle that has been in service for a while. I like to start with a dark silver colour, such as GW’s Leadbelcher or P3’s Pig Iron, then follow up with a dark brown like P3 Umbral Umber. By doing two colours, not only do I get a bit of a rust effect, with some of the chips looking like they’ve been exposed to the elements longer than others, but it also just adds some visual interest and confusion to trick the eye into making it look a little more real.

Typhus Corrosion

Typhus Corrosion is one of Games Workshop’s technical paints, which is a few paints in their line that have been specially formulated to make some more advanced techniques rather easy. For example, they have Blood for the Blood God, which makes basic blood effects simple, or Nihilakh Oxide which is basically just that greenish patina that you see on old statues put in a tiny bottle.

citadeltechnical.jpgTyphus Corrosion comes in their standard tiny pot, and when you open it, you can see that it is a thin paint, with a consistency somewhat closer to a wash, but with a bunch of crud floating in it. This crud creates a gritty texture when it dries, which helps create some contrast and visual confusion, as well as not doing a terrible job of replicating mud and grime.

Duncan can probably explain this better than I can, but to apply this, you simply put in on the desired area with a beater brush that you don’t really care about. For warjacks, I like to add a lot to the legs and feet, to replicate both the mud that they may have walked through. From there, you can add as much or as little as you want, playing with dabs, stippling, and streaks, to get the desired effect. For warjacks, I think it gives a particularly nice result on the pistons and other machinery that articulates the legs, to replicate buildups of grease and oil and grime. Also, feel free to add some on top of the areas that you had hit with the sponge weathering for a cool effect as well.

Dry pigment

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Some subtle soot on the back of this warjack

We’re just about done here, but there is one more thing to consider. In this steampunk universe, warjacks are fueled by giant coal boilers, which is something that you really shouldn’t think about too hard, given the sheer impracticality of managing the logistics of delivering enough coal to the battlefield to keep even a single warjack going. However, if you’re burning the entire coal production of West Virginia every couple hours, that’s going to generate a lot of soot.

This is where our friend dry pigments come in. These are simply bottles of pigment dust, with no liquid or medium in them. They can be brushed onto the model to create various effects, and I’ve found them to be particularly useful for a few things — adding a bit of colour and visual interest to rocks and brickwork, or in this case, adding soot. They can be applied in a couple of ways, either by simply getting some on your brush and dusting the model with them, or, if you want to get a little more to stick, adding a little bit of water (or saliva) to the model and then brushing them on. Again, this is a product that is very new to me, but I’ve found that brushing the smokestacks, boiler, etc., with some very dark grey or black pigment can really help make it look like it’s coated in a fine layer of soot.

That said, because this is simply dust that you are applying to the model, you will need to fix the pigment somehow to make it stick. Some companies make pigment fixers, but for gaming pieces, I feel like the varnish that I use to protect them on the tabletop (Vallejo Matte Varnish, thinned and shot through an airbrush) is good enough to seal the pigment onto the model.

Anyways, from there, it’s just a matter of adding the glow effect onto the visor, doing some basing, and adding a coat of varnish, and the Grolar is done and ready for the gaming table.

Final thoughts on weathering

Since I’m still building my weathering skills, this is just a tiny sample of some basic weathering techniques. There are many chipping techniques, such as with hairspray or salt, that I’ve yet to try. In addition, you can do a lot with oil paints to create glazes and other visual interest. Oil paints are a completely different beast because they have a lot longer work time than acrylics, which opens up a lot of techniques, however that’s something that I haven’t really gotten into yet because of cleanup and ventilation concerns. Further, there are a wealth of specialized weathering products out there from companies like Vallejo and AK, including a few I just picked up last week (oh, the dangers of having a doctor’s office a couple blocks away from a hobby store…).

One thing I would recommend to all the gamers out there, though, is to check out some of the hobby stores and scale model builder communities if you really want to take your weathering to the next level. Hobby stores tend to have a lot more products for this sort of thing than the six or so GW technical paints that your FLGS might have on its shelf, and the sort of people who spend hours getting their Panzers looking like they’ve been going through Russian mud and snow (and the occasional chunk of shrapnel) have a lot of expertise you can borrow from.

Painting my Grolar, Part 2

With the easy part done, it was time to get started on the fun part — getting out the brushes and putting paint on the model.  In part one of this series, I had laid down the base colour scheme in purple and pink, using the airbrush to get some shadows and highlights on the various armour panels that make up this warjack. From there, the next step is to touch up a couple areas that I airbrushed and didn’t get quite right on the stripes, and then picking out the various other colours on the model.

White Trim

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Note the gradient on the shoulders and collar, from a cool grey to white.

Of course, with me, it’s never as simple as a paint by numbers. I had spent a fair bit of time with the airbrush trying to get the right shadows and highlights on the model, so if I had simply painted all these trim pieces in a flat, uniform white, it would look out of place next to the gradient of dark to light purple/pink on the main body. Another issue was that trying to paint white straight over purple with acrylic paints can be a little difficult, due to the purple underneath showing through.

Fortunately, both these issues can be solved the same way. To start painting my white, I undercoated with a grey, which due to having a bit better coverage, blocked out the underlying purple much better than had I tried to simply paint white over purple. Next, instead of painting the whole thing white, I built up the colour, using wet blending techniques to go from my grey up to white where the light is directly hitting it. I also added just a touch of P3’s Frostbite to my whites and greys, which is a very light, desaturated blue, just to make the white a little on the cool side because of colour theory.

Freehand

I also wanted to practice my freehand skills with this model, so I decided to try to paint a bear paw logo on the top of this warjack.

For a lot of people, this sort freehand can be a very intimidating technique. Especially when we are starting out, most of our hobbying consists of painting inside the lines — paint this panel red, that panel brass, that hose grey, etc., so it can be a big jump from simply following the detail on the model to creating your own detail.

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If you don’t have a wet palette, make one. Now.

However, simple shapes like this aren’t too hard once you’ve developed some brush control. I’ve found there to be three tricks to freehand: a reference image to look at while you work, the right brush, and the right consistency of paint. I could go on and on about brushes and paint consistency, but that could be a whole article in itself.  Suffice it to say you want a good brush, not too big and not too small, with a decent sized body and a nice tip. And for paint, you need it thin enough that it flows nicely off the brush and onto the model. And for the love of Bob Ross, our almighty god of painting, use a wet palette.

One little secret I will let you in on, however, is the use of acrylic inks to thin your paint as opposed to water. There are certain colours, such as white and yellow, which don’t have very good coverage over a dark basecoat, and thinning them down to the proper consistency reduced the coverage even further. You can counter this by using something like Holbien or FW artist ink as a thinning medium; these inks have a very thin consistency but a very high pigment density, so by mixing them with acrylic paints, you’re getting the consistency you want without sacrificing pigment density and coverage like you would be doing if you thinned with water.

Silver & Gold

Next up was metallics. As this is a cool steampunk robot, I have plenty of iron and brass to paint.  Vallejo’s Metal Colour Gunmetal Grey makes for a great base colour, covering like a dream, however as an airbrush paint, it can be a touch thin for brush painting, so I like to use P3’s silvers for some of the details where the VMC is just too thin to effectively pick out the details, like on the rivets.  For brass, again, I went to the P3 line and used Molten Bronze as my basecoat.

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Not cheating. Just make sure you know the difference between Nuln Oil and Nuln Oil Gloss when you’re shopping.

With the base coat on the whites and metallics all blocked in, it came time for a wash to add some definition. Which means it’s time to bust out our old friend, Nuln Oil. Now, Nuln Oil and some other GW washes (they call them shades) are, sometimes unfairly, referred to as “talent in a bottle.” I can see where they are coming from; a lot of the time, simply slathering a warrior model in Nuln Oil makes the paint job instantly adds the depth to a model that makes it get to the “hey, this isn’t bad” stage. And they are one of the few products that I will dip into GW’s range to pick up, because I don’t know exactly what it is, whether it is consistency, surface tension, or pigment density, but GW’s washes just work.

However, we don’t want to simply apply it using the “slather the entire model with a big brush” method. This is for a couple reasons. First, I spend a lot of time airbrushing this model, and I liked the vibrant highlights. I didn’t want to dull them down with a layer of Nuln Oil all over. Second, there are a lot of large, smooth surfaces on this model, and slathering them with an acrylic wash will undoubtedly create some unsightly “coffee stain” type marks, especially on the whites that I had worked on blending and would end up having to repaint if they got too much wash on them.

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After the wash, but before re-highlighting the metals.  Note that the washes had done the shadows, but ended up making the metallics a little too dark and dull.  Also check out the freehand bear paw logo.

So, I chose to be a little more targeted with my wash, applying the Nuln Oil to all the metallic parts, as well as into some of the recesses and around things like rivets and spikes, in order to get that shade without ruining the big flat areas of my model. Once that dried, I pulled out GW’s Druchii Violet, the purple version of Nuln Oil, and applied that to all the brass bits. This seems a little odd, but consider the colour wheel. Purple is directly across from gold on the colour wheel, so making those shadows on the brass have a purple tint does a few cool things, increasing your contrast and making the eventual highlights pop more.

The washes take care of the shadows, but with them done, we have to highlight the metals back up.  I used P3’s Pig Iron, Cold Steel, and Quick Silver on the metals, progressively highlighting up using layering, blending (as best as I could), and a bit of careful dry-brushing on areas like the punchy fists.  For the brass, I did something similar, highlighting up through Molten Bronze, Rhulic Gold, Solid gold, and a touch of something like silver or Vallejo’s Bright Brass as the very highest highlight. With these multiple layers of highlights, you can get a real nice true metallic metal (TMM) effect that is pleasing to the eye.

Final Highlights & Touchups

With the metals highlighted back up and the freehand done, we’ve only got a couple steps left. First, I took some very thin black paint and slipped it into some of the vents and perforations on the models, and places such as the top of the smokestacks; basically anywhere there was something that was supposed to be a slit or a whole on the model.

Finally, it was time for an edge highlight.  This is little trick to give the model volume and make it easier for the eye to recognize the shape.  It’s simply a very thin highlight, brighter than the surrounding area, along the upper edges of the model, which is the final step in really making this model pop at a distance of more than a foot or two away.

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Look at how much brighter the brass bits are with the highlights, and note the edge highlights all over.

Now we have a beautiful looking Grolar, that has only one problem — it’s too beautiful. This Grolar has seen some action in the trenches of Llael; it shouldn’t look like it’s fresh out of the factory and perfectly clean.  So stay tuned next time for some weathering and finishing touches!

Painting my Grolar, Part 1

November has been a busy hobby month for me.  I started off the month with a lot of stuff on my hobby table, and have been trying to finish it off and give myself a bit of breathing room on my desk for me to scatter dozens upon dozens of little bottles of acrylic paint.

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The studio scheme.  Note: I don’t believe in studio schemes.

One of the things I’ve managed to finish was the Grolar/Kodiak multikit from Privateer Press, which I decided to magnetize to make it possible to use it as both variants in my games (even though the Grolar just looks way cooler).

As shown in the previous article, I managed to get him assembled, magnetized, and the gaps filled around the beginning of the month.  While the position of the legs was pretty much set, and without major conversions it would be difficult to do a repose, the given position is at least a dynamic one, with one foot in front of the other, unlike a number of PP’s older warjack kits.  The arms, on the other hand, had ball joints at both the shoulders and elbows, so there was some room for posability there, though one had to be careful with the Grolar that the back of the hammer wasn’t whacking himself in the shoulder.  I decided to pose him such that the left arm was slightly back and the right arm slightly forward, as though he were striding across the battlefield, and I did have to make the point of contact for the Grolar’s hammer slightly off-center to give it some clearance between the back of the hammer and the front of his shoulder.

Airbrush time!

Anyways, with the model all assembled, it was airbrush time!  Lately I’ve been experimenting with airbrush priming to good results.  I like to use an old single-action airbrush to prime, using the same logic for the airbrush that I use for my regular brushes — don’t use a nice brush for anything that isn’t paint, such as primer, varnish, etc. So I put together my airbrush setup, loaded my Badger 350 with white Stynylrez primer, and got to work.  At this point, the model was still in multiple sub-assemblies to make painting easier. I had pulled off all the magnetized bits, and I hadn’t glued the hips to the torso assembly yet.

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As an aside, Stynylrez has been my favourite primer lately.  At $10 for a 60 mL (2 oz) bottle, the price is right (compared to $4-5 for a 1/2 oz bottle of something like Vallejo or Reaper), and it’s thin enough out of the bottle to just drop in the airbrush and shoot with no thinners necessary.  It seems to stick well to all materials, and I have yet to have any problems with it not sticking to and chipping easily from metal figures like I have had with Vallejo’s primer. And, I’m lucky enough to have a hobby shop that carries it nearby.

Anyways, once I had a bunch of white primed doodads that vaguely resembled robot parts, it was time to start putting colour on the model.  I knew I wanted to do a pink striped pattern, partly because I thought it would look cool and partly because this is my second one of these and I wanted to be able to easily distinguish the two on the gaming table. So, I pulled out my good, dual-action airbrush and got to work. With a bit of thinning and the right additives (Vallejo Airbrush Thinner and Airbrush Flow Improver), Reaper MSP paints can be easily shot through an airbrush to good effect.

Anyways, I started with the pink, simply because pink is one of those colours like yellow which is far easier to lay over white than over a dark colour, and by doing the pink first, it would reduce the amount of masking I would have to do and worrying about overspray. I started out with 09268 Punk Rock Pink as a base coat on the areas that I wanted to do the stripes on, then worked up into 09262 Blush Pink and finally 09281 Brains Pink for the highest highlights.

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The moment of truth

After waiting for the pink to dry, I used Tamiya masking tape, which is available in a variety of widths from about 2mm upwards, and is perfect for doing things like hazard stripes at this scale.  After masking off the stripes, it was time to pull out the airbrush again and break out the purple.  I used my usual purple recipe, Reaper’s triad of Nightshade (9022), Imperial (9023) and Amethyst (9024) purple and got to work.  First, I loaded the brush with Nightshade Purple, the darkest shade, and covered the entire model, making sure not to miss any spots.

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With the Nightshade Purple laid down, I assembled the hip joint and stuck the model to the base. By having it more or less fully assembled, I could more easily see which angle the light source was coming from on pieces such as the arms and place my highlights appropriately. I then moved onto Imperial Purple, getting probably most of the upper surfaces, and then going to Amethyst Purple for the highest highlights.  In the picture, you can see that the highlights were placed with consideration of both what areas of the model will be hit by the sun, and also how to create some contrast between light and dark on the sharp edges on the torso.

The moment of truth came when I pulled up the tape.  There was a little bit of bleeding and whatnot (which was probably mostly my fault), particularly on the left shoulder where there were a lot of rivets interfering with getting the tape down nicely, but nothing I couldn’t touch up with a brush.

So, with that done, it was time to put away the airbrush and bust out my brushes and wet palette, because I still had a lot of traditional painting to do…

 

Black Dragon Spriggan Paintlog

So, in my efforts to bash out the backlog on my shelf of shame, I managed to finish off my Spriggan that had been sitting there since, well, since Spriggans were considered to be one of Khador’s best warjacks.

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For me, this model was a study in freehand and weathering.  I stuck to my usual purple and pink colour scheme with the autumnal colours in the basing.  To be honest, when I started, I didn’t think it would end up looking this good.

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I bought this model used, and had to strip some paint off, and of course, broke the spindly little arms off in the process and had to reconstruct them.  Then I primed it white and hit it with the purple base coat using an old Badger single-action airbrush.  My purple recipe is simply the Reaper Royal Purples triad of Nightshade (9022), Imperial (9023) and Amethyst (9014) purple, which with the right mixture of Vallejo airbrush thinner and flow improver, shoots through the brush pretty well.  Start with the darkest colour and work your way up, occasionally using a business card or a bit of silly putty for masking and to prevent overspray, and you’re in business.

Then it sat on the shelf for a year.

Of course, when I picked it back up, I noticed that there were a lot of issues with the model, as I had gotten a little better at painting in the meantime.  I had missed a lot of mold lines the first time around, and my first attempt at recreating the arms was not great.  There was some cleanup involved, but I didn’t want to have to respray the model, so I kept my cleaning to places where I was going to paint over anyways, or where I could easily conceal my scratching at it.

I also ripped off the arms to make it easier to paint and to redo the arms.  With a couple plasticard tubes, I managed to create a couple piston-looking things that could go over the brass rod underneath and which were a little beefier looking than the original arms that come in the box.

And then it was on to base coating.  I used mostly P3 and Vallejo Model Colour metallics to do the metal bits, and for the whites, I worked my up, with an undercoat of a medium gray, to Reaper’s Misty Grey (9090), which I find to be one of the most useful colours in my repertoire.  The pink on the lance and shield is also from Reaper; I used their HD Rosy Pink (29853) as an undercoat, Punk Rock Pink (09286) as a base, and Blush Pink (09262) for the highlight.  These are some very vibrant pinks, and have a home in many models in my army.

And then we have the freehand.img_1903.jpg

This is, in my opinion, the most impressive part of this model.  It catches the eye and, along with the weathering, is one component which goes beyond “here’s a model I painted” and really tells a story.  I’m not sure what to say about it; just having nice brushes, the right consistency of paint, and some reference material close by (in this case, a picture of the Black Dragons logo), and a single-colour freehand like this turns out to be less difficult than it looks.  I also freehanded the spiral on the lance, which wasn’t too hard, again, with the right brushes, right consistency, and a steady hand.

Washes add some depth to the model; I used Nuln Oil from GW for most of the wash, and added a little Druchii Violet for the brass bits.  It sounds funny, but I’ve found that a purple shade works really well on brass and gold because colour theory.  Being across the colour wheel from gold, purple shadows make the golden highlights really pop, or something like that.  I don’t know, I’ve never been to art school.  Highlight the metals back up, do a bit of edge highlighting, and we’re ready for weathering!

There were a few techniques I used for this weathering.  For the scratches, what I did was a line of dark colour in the scratch, with a line of highlight below, kind of like this Duncan video.  I also used the sponge technique, applying some dark silver like GW Leadbelcher or P3 Pig Iron using a leftover bit of some pluck foam.  Then I followed up with some P3 Umbral Umber overtop using the same technique.  Both GW’s Typhus Corrosion and Agrax Earthshade can create rust streaks, and Typhus Corrosion is also good for adding dirt and mud effects around the feet and legs of the jack and bottom of the shield, as well as sooty crud on the smokestacks.

When it comes to weathering, placement is key.  Remember how I mentioned earlier that last year’s me kind of slacked off on the mold lines?  Well, here is a nice way to cover that up without worrying about exactly matching the colour at that point on the smooth blend.  That scratch is supposed to be there; it’s weathering…

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Also, weathering tells a story.  I put a lot of weathering on the shield, for example, because it’s a shield.  Blocking blows is what it does, so it’s going to get beaten up.  Also, the lance is going to get scratched up as it penetrates the armour of a Cygnaran warjack, destroying its boiler and wrecking it.  A jack with a punchy fist is going to have scratches on the fist and on the forearm from punching.  Ideally, Khador jacks will have more damage on the front as they face down their foes rather than running away like cowards.  And so on.  I took a while to get into weathering because I like a “clean” look, but even a few scratches can really help the model go tell a story.

I have to admit though, it took a lot of courage to take this freehand that I spent a couple hours working on and which looks great and start randomly stippling crap on.  But in this case, once I got over the fear that I would ruin my wonderful freehand, I came up with something that is so much better and more visually interesting than it was before.  So, my one piece of advice would be to not fear the weathering.  Doing it well can really take things to the next level, and the worst that can happen is you end up repainting something, which in the grand scheme of things is no big deal.

And so, we get the final product.  It turned out a lot better than I anticipated when I started, and while there are some imperfections here and there, I’m very happy with it.  Now, to figure out who to take it with on the table.  Hmmmmmmm, perhaps Vlad1 for the anti-stealth in a rocket list, or maybe Kozlov once the Man-O-War theme comes out?