Sunday, February 28, 2010

WIP: Daemon Prince / Minotaur Conversion no.1

This Daemon Prince was inspired by the simple awesomeness of the new plastic Minotaurs, and by my desire to put those Minotaurs to work in 40K. He is still very much a work in progress –I estimate that he is currently about 75-80% completed, but far enough along that you will get the idea.

The winged Daemon Prince picture here was originally the focus of all my attention, and primary impetus for two DP conversions; however, he was rather brazenly usurped by his land-locked cousin on account of the more compelling narrative elements of that model (the WIP of which was the substance of last Sunday's post). So it goes.

And so, this monster has become something like the “experimental” model of the pair –the one on which I test out color schemes (in this case: skin, hair, wings, armor) and other sundry techniques.

More importantly, this is my first go at the lava that I’ve come to appreciate on any number of bases that I’ve been spotting on the internets, and in particular the bases in this tutorial by Tagsta. I don’t actually follow that blog (forum?), but I found this tutorial simply by googling “lava bases tutorial,” and it appeared on the top of the list. It’s that easy sometimes. Anyway, I borrow from it heavily. Cheers.

One step beyond: I have added a final layer Gloss Coat to the lava (‘ard Coat, actually, but I prefer to call it Gloss), and in that final layer I’ve also mixed in just a tiny drop of Red Wash and Sepia Wash into the Gloss in order to blend the layers and keep the tone vibrant red rather than orange. I’m not too sure about the exact effect, and I have to admit that I found the solution rather difficult to control, but the Gloss Coat alone seemed to make only a modest contribution, so I wanted to spice it up a bit. The jury is still out on this one.

Nearly the entire palate of this model revolves around Dark Flesh and Tausept Ochre. The skin, for example, has been worked up from Dark Flesh to Camo Green, and then highlighted by adding small amounts of Tausept and Bleached Bone to the mixture. This was then shaded again with a wash of Dark Flesh and then Sepia. The fleshy parts of the wings were done with Dark Flesh and Tausept with generous washes of very thin Dark Flesh and Scorched Brown. The hair, by comparison, is Tausept worked up toward Iyanden. The skulls are the same but will have additional highlights of Bleached Bone and some small touches of Skull White for sharp contrast. These will also get a thin wash of Sepia. The cloth on his weapon is Tausept and will be shaded back with Scorched Brown. Even the metal areas take Dark Flesh as their base color.

As you can see from these simplified descriptions, the same colors have been used throughout to amplify or complement one another. Although there are different hues and shades brought in to create solid variation, the basic elements are consistent and quite limited throughout the model. I don’t always work this way, but in this case I feel quite strongly that the limited palate makes for a necessarily coherent model. Moreover, this coherency helps keep him grounded against the very, very bright (potentially distracting) hues in the lava. Obviously, I didn’t want the model either to compete with its own base or seem too confused with a wildly varied palate.

So far. So good.

For those keeping score at home, there’s a clue or two about tomorrow’s post in a few of these photos. See you then.

Friday, February 26, 2010

IG: ... You're Welcome.

...a terrible "Tanks" joke. I know. I know. The temptation was simply too strong.

Apart from some photos of Valhallan Tanks, today’s post ponders the merits and uses of Winsor&Newton’s Art Masking Fluid , or the functional equivalent. I found this particular brand when it was on sale at my local Blicks ages ago, and I quietly set it aside for use when the opportunity presented itself.

As with the Sentinels from yesterday, these three Leman Russ Battle Tanks were originally conceived for another IG army, one which started strong but never really sustained my interest largely because I hadn’t ever genuinely conceived or articulated my ideas for the force. As such, it was entirely too easy to set the project aside when the energy levels inevitably started to lag.

Then came my Valhallans. I’ve wanted my Valhallan force to have a ravaged, an exhausted, and an otherwise well-seasoned theme throughout the army –something to match the bleak winter weather and the lengthy, rigorous campaigns of the IG. Masking Fluid makes that happen. Opportunity presented. With these tanks, I really felt that I had nothing to lose. They were either going to be shelved, sold, or replaced when the newer box came out, so this was an ideal time to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty. If the new technique failed, I would end in the same place that I’d started -with three models that were either going shelved, sold, or replaced. Just as well.

I began with the original models painted in the generic, unappealing brown that you still see quite a bit through the subsequent layers, and used a large kitchen sponge to blot the Masking Fluid across edges and several of the more open areas on the tank.

Three notes on this stage:
1. While it is very important to consider what parts of the model would suffer from extended use (and to blot those areas appropriately), I was sure to work without too much thought in order to keep the result genuinely random. In my limited experience, too much contrivance shows rather quickly and makes the model look too obviously artificial.

2. The Fluid itself demands a pretty quick treatment because once it starts to dry it gets tacky, and continued blotting will actually start to lift what you’ve already placed on the model. In other words, the product forced me to resist the urge to overwork it.

3. I held back a little bit, but not quite enough (more on this in a moment), to be sure that there was room for both subsequent layers of color. I didn’t want too much of the original color to show through for fear that it would compete too messily with the next layers.

I then applied a thinned layer of the first light gray color across large parts of the model. Once this had dried, I blotted just a little bit more past the original edges of Masking Fluid (you can see them quite plainly if you look closely) to lock that color in to several spaces, and then applied a thin layer of the darker gray color over the entire the tank.

To be candid, there was little rhyme or reason behind the sequence of colors apart from the fact that they were bluish and gray –matching the aesthetic of the army. I was just experimenting (see: “nothing to lose” above) and intuitively let the choices make themselves.

For the final step, I removed all of the Masking Fluid with a basic pencil eraser (or “rubber” for the Brits). I had some difficulty lifting the Fluid out of corners and particularly through some of the edges in the detailing. I’ve since read (forget where, apologies) that Blue Tack works better at lifting the dried fluid, and anticipate that I’ll use some for the next effort.

And yes, there will be next efforts –at least three that come to mind as I type.

Finally, I thinned a wash of Devlan Mud and slathered it around a bit in order to pull the shading across the different hues, and to help pull the colors together generally. Restraint is important here as the new Washes tend to look a bit streaky on large surfaces, and I certainly didn’t want to hide all the work I’d just done.

With regard to item 3 above, I feel that failed in this step and, as a result, these models are a visually cluttered. I had a bit too much fun with the new technique and applied it a too generously throughout. Elsewhere, I’ve seen advocates repeat the mantra “less is more” with these kinds of techniques and I fear that this effort may have been a bit heavy-handed on my part. Still, I like the results enough to keep the models active in my army, but the process was certainly a solid lesson in restraint.

Once I’ve sorted iconography for my army, I intend to go back and apply images, number, etc. –chipped, of course, but tastefully so- and I hope this will help bring back some visual coherence to these models. Here’s to hoping.

See you Sunday for a WIP update on the DPs.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

IG: Sentinels and Snow Recipe

I purchased these Sentinels because I liked the models and, while I still find them both dynamic and compelling, I would keenly like to get my mitts on a few of the new (closed top) variety currently on the shelves. I intend to find an excuse to do exactly that.

Here goes: I would like to take another stab at modeling some new Sentinels because I assembled these three before I had the slightest notion of what can be accomplished with rare earth magnets. And so, these guys are stuck with the armament I so eagerly glued to their side about eight years ago –perhaps that’s a thin rationalization to justify buying more, but it’s a start.

In the mean time, these seasoned three have been repainted to fit my Valhallans after an initial start in another army entirely. The snow on their bases, in fact, covers the static grass that was more appropriate for their original deployment. My current snow recipe, which is still very much a recipe in progress, grew entirely from the need to cover that static grass both thoroughly and completely. Generally, I’d say it does the trick as well as one could hope.

Snow Recipe: equal portions of PVA glue and Gloss Coat followed with a few small dabs of watered down Skull White. Once this has been thoroughly stirred, I fold in any basic snow flock (they’re much a muchness as far as I’m concerned, and I’ve heard that even baking soda works a treat) until the mixture thickens to the consistency of oatmeal or porridge. I like it to be a bit fluffy, like snow (?), and it’s important to remember that the mixture reduces as it dries. If the mixture gets too thick, it will become clumpy and unmanageable –too thin, and it runs all over the show (you may have noticed an example or two from yesterday in which the snow runs off the base. I can’t promise you that this was intentional. Still, in moderation, I feel the effect works). The glue covers and holds the snow, while the Gloss Coat lends the whole mess the luminous and shiny quality of real snow. The Skull White keeps the snow vibrant and clean. A final word on the process: even if I were to do my snow recipe differently, I expect that I would still go back and layer the final snow product with Gloss Coat to be sure. For me, this is the single most important ingredient.

Fittingly, I’ve mashed up the color schemes a bit to make it appear that they’ve had a few layers of paint come and go over the years (I should note that none of the colors pictured are from the original paint scheme). This was an experiment in masking fluid… but we'll hear more on that tomorrow.

additional note: Ron at FTW has posted a great article on basing this morning. In it, there is a link to an older post of his on techniques for snow. I highly recommend both articles for some further ideas about snow and/or basing in general.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

IG: Storm Troopers

Here are the first five in a Storm Trooper squad of ten: and there’s also a lesson here in finishing what one starts. The remaining five are painted through to the gray of the armor, but that’s all. That's reasonably far along. All I need to do is a few shades lighter on the uniform and the the detailing, but I put them aside for another project a while back and they’ve remained in their lonely corner of the bookshelf since. So close, yet so far away. I’m sure that I’m not the first person in the hobby to have fallen into this common conundrum, and I’m also sure that I won’t be the last. Perhaps as this winter drags on I’ll find the inspiration. Nevertheless, I’m reasonably pleased with how this lot have turned out.

The real challenge with these Storm Troopers resides entirely within the palate. They’re cold weather fighters and I’ve limited the scope of their colors to various shades of gray and blue. Even their goggles and the power cords on their guns are restricted to these two basic tones. As such, the models appear quite, well, soft but steady in real life. The only real accent colors are the very small bits of red on their electronics, the edges of brass on the guns, and (most importantly) the flesh tones on their hands.

For me, these skin tones really accentuate the humanity of the figures –remind us that they are still just the fragile but relatively potent exemplars of the Imperial Guard: no more, no less.

Otherwise, I’ve painted these models rather cleanly. They are designed to be Elites, and therefore the most orderly, efficient members of my Valhallans, who are otherwise barely keeping it together at the seams. More on my version of the basic Imperial Trooper in coming weeks, but keep an eye out later this week for a few flaking machines from the Motor Pool.

By the way, am I correct for thinking that these models are now defunct? And that GW has abandoned them for the older iteration they replaced? If so, that’s a shame. I think these models are absolutely brilliant.

p.s. just found an excellent mathammer article on the subject of Storm Troopers from Menzies Tank at 512th Cadian.

Monday, February 22, 2010

IG: Valhallan HQ

It’s been a cold, windswept winter here in Chicago (with several more inches of snow on the way today), which makes for an ideal opportunity to introduce my third army of interest, the Valhallans –so here's a rather a quick glimpse at some of my HQ elements.

The Imperial Guard has always been the most compelling part of the 40K universe for me. My very first army was a grand batch of blue Cadian’s that later became attached to an Inquisitor, and that was later boxed and then shelved for the foreseeable future. Having said that, just typing the sentence above has given me the impulse to trundle down to the basement, un-box them, convert, update, and bring them out again in a third manifestation as an auxiliary to these Valhallans... hmmm. We shall see.

As you will see in coming posts, the Valhallans make a pretty significant departure from my comfort zone with regard to color and tone of the models. No rust, or orange, or turquoise, or stripes, or any of the usual. Just grays, and muddy greens, and chipped paint galore, and the occasional bit of blue… and ice… and snow. It’s a refreshing break; I have to confess.

Continuing from the Super Heavy in yesterday’s post, allow me to introduce my current ranking Officer (although I’m not yet sure what rank that is exactly –just that he’s on top of the food chain as it currently stands). As I mentioned, I don’t like to neglect extra bits and, despite the fact that the SuperHeavy has succumbed to the lure of Chaos, this stoic, dangerous looking Officer is still true to the cause.

With regard to rank and the administrative food chain, I would like to note that my favorite detail here is the vulture. “A vulture? With Valhallans? In winter?” You might say. Well, certainly. Why not.

I talked a bit about the “personality” of important models yesterday, and I think this is a fine example of what I mean. The vulture is clearly looking the same direction as the officer and you can almost hear him thinking, “come on then, lads. pip pip” (that’s the vulture -and perhaps the Officer too, as his sword directs a cohort of lowly proles toward what we can imagine will be a calamitous end). I’m not sure if he’s a vulture of opportunity, a mascot, or if this particular officer has a truly insidious selection of pets, and/or a sinister sense of humor. Regardless, the vulture does not bode well for the average Imperial Trooper in his command. I love it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

WIP: Daemon Prince x 2, part 2

The two Minotaur-to-Daemon conversions are coming along nicely, as are their bases.

Initially, the DP with wings was the real focus of this project and where I directed my entire first burst of energy. And certainly, he is coming along reasonably well, although I think the axe has to be altered to help make him a little less obviously a Minotaur with wings.

As is the way with these things, the second DP, which I started only as a bit of a lark, has since come to dominate my attention.

This guy has a number of subtle but worthwhile conversions and details: I switched the banner pole from a left hand to his right (this was actually a total pain); I added the tail from left-over and chopped up mix of Tyranid bits; the banner with skulls is from an old Chaos Marauders WHFB box; while the tip of the (admittedly odd) weapon comes from the LOTR plastic Troll. Because I imagine that this guy is the type to keep trophies from his various... accomplishments, I also added both a pouch of bones and whatnot from the Ogre plastics and a skull on a chain to his belt. I don't remember where this last piece comes from but feel that it helps fill out his personality. Oh, at the last minute I also added a battle-damaged SM helmet to the turf (which will be painted in BA colors, naturally).

And as you can tell, I never, ever throw anything away. Never. Ever.

For the final bit of conversion, I opened the pose of his left arm and set it out away from his body, which required that I sculpt a new shoulder, but which also makes room for…

…the most menacing trophy of all –indeed, this character’s entire reason for being. You will no doubt recognize the centerpiece as the Blood Angels Chalice from the new Space Hulk game. I’ve stated this once before when talking about my Red Corsair Havocs and their stolen Templars’ banner, but I really enjoy intertwining the narratives of the 40K universe. With the looming release of a new Blood Angels Codex, this project was the ideal opportunity to throw down the metaphorical gauntlet toward all the BA personalities out there on the interwebs and beyond.

Note: I sincerely believe that these kinds of “persona” details and gestures are tremendously important with conversions of significant characters. They create the narrative that gives the figure a kind of intelligible personality, history, and character. As such, I strongly feel that these kinds of details are fundamentally relevant, and precisely the kind of gesture that sparks my interest in any figure (not simply my own).

The Chalice was reasonably difficult to set securely into his left hand. What’s more, I decided early on that I wanted to invoke the primary BA emblem by having a drop coming out of the chalice as it was tipped over (at that point I was thinking either into his gulping maw or into the dirt. Obviously, I chose dirt for pragmatic reasons). “The Drop,” for me, is the most important narrative and visual element of this model and I can say that it was a distinct challenge.

What you see pictured here is my third or fourth attempt. My initial efforts to make the drop both small and subtle failed because the connection was too weak and brittle. Instead, I was forced to place a small link of brass pin in the bottom of the chalice –which presented a whole new problem because the brass pin had to fit in perfect alignment with the pull of gravity. Sounds simple. Isn’t. Also, the pin makes the drop more meaty and thick –too thick to my liking. Sure, it’s sturdy enough now, but I’m hoping that the painting on this one will help make its bulk seem less clumsy and more in line with what I’d imagined, which was a subtle invocation of BA heraldry. Here’s to hoping.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The State of the Blog Address...

... down the barrels of a rusting SuperHeavy. Say no more.

This post is really meant to be a bit of a road map. I’m two weeks into the blog, and I feel that I’m really starting to find my feet. Yesterday, for example, I figured out how to include a link in the text of an article. That may seem like small potatoes to some of you, but it was a minor miracle for me. And, like most things that I’ve learned with this blog so far, to the uninitiated, these tasks seem wondrously complicated. To those that know, they’re quite painless, really.

Well, this seems like an ideal time to outline where exactly I see all of this headed so that those who have been checking in, and so that those who will be dropping by in the future, have a sense of when, where, why I’ll be posting.

The Plan:
-I will be posting roughly five times each week (no less, but possibly a bit more once in a while)
-The schedule will be as follows: New Posts on Mon, Tues, Thurs, and Fri, with a WIP shot or two up each Sunday.
-To the extent that I am able, each week will have a distinct “theme.” This past week, for example, the theme revolved around my CSM army, the Arrugginiti. Next week… well, wait and see.

There’s quite a lot on the bookshelves that we’ve not seen yet here on A Gentleman’s Ones. Moreover, I’ve been taking photos like a man possessed (the quality of which has been improving, but there’s still plenty of room to grow). Based solely on the schedule above, I currently have nearly two months (7 or 8 weeks) worth of photos waiting in the margins, and that’s if I set my camera down today and don’t touch it again.

All this means that A Gentleman’s Ones has a decent future. I’ve been enjoying this tremendously, and hope that you have been as well. As ever, comments and other feedback will be most appreciated.

Finally, I would like to extend a grand and particular “thank you” to Ron over at From The Warp for his fundamental, generous, and tremendously practical help in getting this thing running. Thank you, Ron.

Friday, February 19, 2010

CSM: Troops and more

Initially, I visualized my CSM army, the Arrugginiti, as Iron Warriors gone a bit rusty -as a breakaway faction that had cast its lot in with one specific manifestation of the ruinous powers. Certainly, the rust theme still dominates the army, but I’m no longer thinking of the force as an exclusive by-product of my friendly rivalry with Ref Pitmann’s Iron Warriors.

... and I must also confess that this change in thinking is, in large part, because I started developing my SM army, the Onorevoli, at roughly the same time as my CSM, and I’ve accidentally created a visual overlap that I’d never intended. The Onorevoli, it seems, have inadvertently stepped on Arrugginit toes here -which I'm sure will make for a brand new and confusing rivalry of its own.

For example, as you will see pictured here, the Onorevoli are also largely orangish-brown in color, and also borrow the yellow-striped emblem from IW heraldry (for photos of Onorevoli v. Iron Warriors, see: Battle Report I below). What’s also becoming a bit problematic is the turquoise accent color, which I’d initially developed exclusively for things like power weapons and plasma etc, but which has become the main accent color throughout the force. (Onorevoli Srgt. pictured right).

I have, therefore, decided to change direction slightly by developing an iconography of the Arrugginiti’s own, which I should have sorted in the coming weeks, and which I then intend to go back and paint into the blank/black right shoulder of the entire force and on the vehicles. Right now, I’m torn between two designs:

Because the two new Daemon Princes are really Minotaurs in disguise, I’ve been looking at the Beastmen of Chaos iconography and considering an adaptation of the bestial skulls theme on several of the banners pictured in the current WD.

I’m also really taken with the semi-circular chaos emblem, as exemplified by Black Matt and Dave Taylor (two absolute legends).

The trick is that the iconography, and as importantly the color, must a) depart from the turquoise accent color used elsewhere, and b) visually work not only with the rusted marines, but also with the squad of Plaguemarines that are not exactly “rusted” as such.

I’ve included a photo of the Aspiring Champion for the Plaguemarines, who is the only model I’ve completed in that unit so far. As you can see, he’s green, rather than rusted, but the green has been shaded with Dark Flesh. The result looks nice, in my opinion, but also keeps the color scheme visually coherent with the rest of the force.

Thoughts? Suggestions? I’m at a bit of a crossroads with these guys, so any and all input will be greatly appreciated.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bloodletters of ...

I mentioned in a post from last week the two squads of Bloodletters that I currently have as options for my CSM army, the second of which I finished only last weekend.

The first squad was done in the traditional Khornate manner: Red. I mentioned that this choice works well, visually speaking, when I also have the Corsair Havocs on the table from yesterday’s post, but otherwise doesn’t really jell with the tone of the army. Perhaps needlessly, this makes me less likely to use them if-and-when able. I don’t hold myself too strictly to this rule, but I spend a fair bit of time mulling over simple aesthetic matters and it seems that visual concerns tend to influence my gaming more than is likely good for me.

I try not to spend too much time painting these (or any) bloodletters. At the end of the day, they are filler, and so I paint them to look good enough from a distance. Also, they tend to get shelved pretty quickly once on the table, so it seems rather unnecessary to dote too much attention on them.

For the Red coloring, I work the up from Liche Purple up through the GW Reds range, but stop before getting too bright. The Purple keeps the mix sufficiently rich and, more importantly, dark. Despite this, I still come back in with a thin mixed wash of Purple and Red at the end to blend and shade the model a little further. I've found that shading red can tend to make the model look either pink (for shame) or orange. As such, it is absolutely essential to come back and layer the model with either a red wash or red ink to keep the hue where it's meant to be.

My second squad (the recipe for which I detailed in my “Bloodletters of Nurgle” post below) is more directly connected to the Nurgle-esque aesthetic of the Arrugginiti (ie: my CSM army). In fact, these Bloodletters of Nurgle almost exactly match the method I’ve painted my Plaguebearers, which helps keep the whole theme of the army unified. As it turns out, I actually prefer this darkened and grayed look to the traditional Khorne coloring because, to me anyway, they simply feel more malevolent and dangerous.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

CSM: cry "Havoc" and let slip the dogs of war...

First things first: you may note that this particular squad is a dramatic mis-match when considering the visual theme that I’ve cultivated for the rest of my CSM army. It’s tragic, admittedly. But to put it plainly, I am so tremendously enamored with these Red Corsairs that I couldn’t possibly have left them on the shelf just because they’ve been painted in colors other than rust.

At the end of the day, the Corsairs work reasonably well on the table (again, visually speaking) if I also field my Bloodletters of Khorne (I mentioned them last week, and we’ll hear more from them tomorrow), because both squads bring that shocking, bold red into the mix. Anyway, it’s Chaos, and I’ve thematically justified the choice by imagining that they are a squad of mercenaries or somesuch. I just have to remind myself: Chaos.

Before I go any further, I must issue one very important DISCLAIMER: I did not convert these figures. I only painted them. I bought them almost two years ago modeled and primed from a really nice fellow named Tim B., who I believe lives in Australia. He’s an absolute legend. The thoroughness, detail, and imagination that is evident in the way he modeled these Red Corsairs is simply stunning.

Thank you, Tim. If you see this, I sincerely hope that my work here has adequately complemented your own.

The painting was rather straight forward, as the script for Corsairs is pretty well established. There are, however, two matters of interest here from the painting point of view.

First, this was my first time painting those clean-lined highlights on black, and the technique is deceptively challenging. My highlights kept drifting a bit and consistently looked a bit thick –not at all that clean, sharp look we see so often in White Dwarf. I found that I had to spend quite a lot of time going back with the original black, and with the first shade, in order to clean up after myself and to keep the highlights from “graying out” the blackness of the armor. This was time consuming for a relatively subtle effect.

Second, the banner bearer. I love this model. I really tried to push my abilities with the free-hand work on the banner. The skull imagery nicely complements the skulls on the top of the banner, in his hand, and on his knee and belt.

As important as the aesthetics, I really enjoy the narrative component that the banner introduces: I imagine that it was pried out of the cold, dead hands of an unfortunate Black Templar after a particularly grueling struggle, and now these Corsairs gloat with the looted Templar Banner as a means of taunting the Emperor’s deluded minions. I’m not sure this has any effect during actual game play, but I’d like to think it resonates psychologically somehow.

One of the simple pleasures I take in this hobby is the way in which the narratives have so much depth and complexity. I try to engage that dimension of the whole hobby as much as possible by having many of my figures reference other parts of the 40K universe apart from their own humble corner. More on this idea in future posts.

p.s. Thanks again, Tim.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

CSM: HQ -Typhus and Sorcerer

When completed, the Daemon princes-in-progress from yesterday’s post will be joining a homemade Typhus and a very old… well, I don’t know what he was meant to be exactly, but I use him as a Sorcerer. If anyone reading has a clue about what this figure was originally, I’d love to know.

Right now, these are my only two HQ choices for my Nurgle themed CSM army, which I have decided to name the Arrugginiti (which means something like, “rusted ones”).

The Sorcerer is a pretty peculiar old model that I found in the attic years ago, then set aside, then started, then ignored, and then finally finished last summer when the Arrugginiti started to take shape. I’m not really sure about this figure, but his gas mask and flintlock gun in particular are the kind of random, odd details that suggest to me a strong Blanchitsu influence –but that is really little more than speculation on my part. The picture doesn’t show it too well, but he has also been shod in cloven hooves, which strikes me as a really weird and wonderful detail.

For this figure, I wanted to work up a strong contrast between the different metals and find a color that would offer a vivid contrast to the cloak. I used heavy washes of the old brown ink to give it that murky, soiled look, but kept the gun quite clean by contrast –although less so with the knife as it is more likely to get, um, dirty. His cloak was one of my first experiments with using Dark Flesh as a shading color for greens. In all, I quite like the effect. (again, I’d love any information on where this figure comes from or what he was meant to be originally).

Typhus still needs a bit of work, but I am otherwise pleased with the the direction he is headed. His scythe was one of my first simple experiments with plastic-card (the one pictured here is actually my third attempt). I also added a bit of putty around the pole in order to give it a knotted, organic, and wooden feel. It’s a subtle and potentially unnecessary gesture, but one that I feel pays off tremendously for the tone of the figure. I also added the hourglass to help suggest the “Grim Reaper” personality of this model.

His uncovered right arm was another test in the combination of two unrelated plastics (ogre and zombie). The hand, again, was designed to suggest the Grim Reaper. But I felt that an entire skeletal frame would have been too frail, too meager for such of powerful figure. Instead, I wanted him to seem both robust and rotten while reaching into the warp for some dark, necrotic purpose –as if the magic itself was withering his hand. On that note, I must confess that the flesh tone doesn’t work here, not only because it’s too bold a departure from the palate in the rest of the figure, but also because it looks too healthy. I’m not sure how else to put it. When I go back to touch up the face, the base, and some other details, I’m hoping to have a flash of inspiration on how I might rot the arm a bit.

The armor was painted using the rust formula that I detailed in the “Bloodletters of Nurgle” post below. I have used this simple, fast recipe throughout the army as a kind of unifying color –as I have with the accented “blue” color you can see in the eye on his knee and shoulder. The fur on the back of the cloak and the base (as with nearly all the bases in this army) were painted from Charadon Granite through to Knarloc and then Gretchin Green, with very small highlights of Tausept and Iyanden. If necessary, I then give these a quick was with either Sepia or Devlan depending on how much shade needs to be brought back into the folds. The cloak was done with Tausept, with shades of Scorched Brown and highlights working toward a very thinned mix of Tausept, Iyanden, and Bleached Bone.

As you can tell, I've really been enjoying GW's Foundation range for the better part of a year now.

Monday, February 15, 2010

WIP: Daemon Prince x 2

Here are a few shots of my newest project. These two monsters are going to be Daemon Prince One and Daemon Prince Two in the CSM army that I've been assembling for years now... slowly but slowly. This is indicative of the somewhat impulsive, spontaneous (one might say, haphazard) nature of the way I work.

To be candid, I've been a bit relieved of late because GW has finally put some models into the sales rotation that I'm not absolutely drooling over. Skaven are cool and all, but not really my cup of tea. Same for Beastmen. I've painted a few Tyranids from years gone by, and have a few more from the Space Hulk release, but I just don't feel the rest of it yet. As I said, it's a welcome reprieve, and a fine opportunity to address some of those other neglected projects that I've got sitting under the desk.

ahem. yes. well. Having said that, I must confess that I've been utterly blown away by the new plastic minotaurs. I picked some up last weekend and have been working out how to fold them into my CSM Nurgle army ever since. At first I thought maybe some kind of Terminator conversion, or perhaps Obliterators, but in the end I decided to bash them up a little bit and make two (maybe even three) new HQ choices with both a varied and a unique feel for each individual monster. I don't expect to ever have them on the table at the same time but, instead, select the one that I feel is appropriate for any given assignment.

The first effort involves the plastic wings from a Balrog that I purchased years ago but immediately abandoned with hardly a second glance. The wings, at least, now have a happy home... so it goes.

I tried to magnetize these in order to make the model more versatile and easier to transport. That experiment went horribly wrong, and so the wings you see are actually about 3/4 of an inch shorter than they were originally made. I'm not too fussed about the failure. It happens. One to grow on, and all that.

Instead, I've taken the opportunity to use a different kind of putty for the first time. Pictured here is "ProCreate Professional Putty" (clever boys). For my first swing, I'm not too disappointed but it does have a much, much different feel than the usual Green Stuff that I've grown accustomed to over these past few years.

I cut about an equal portion of both the white and the brown components, which may have been the source of my problems. Next time, I will likely use a much smaller ratio of the brown (hardening) component, as I found the putty started to harden and become difficult much sooner than I'd hoped. I had a rather difficult time smoothing it all out, and finding more organic shapes at various points. I'm sure some practice will help, and there's only one way to get that.

Still, all in all I'm pleased -and particularly so with the strength and solidity of the material once it dries. I just need to find a way to delay that a bit. The product is sound, I will simply have learn how to manipulate it better.

The second fellow is something I'm working up for fun, really. With the all the excitement brewing over the new Blood Angels Codex, I wanted to let my bad guys thumb their noses a bit at the sons of sanguinus, or whatever he's called. As you can see, this guy has wrestled a BA Chalice from some unfortunate's hands. I plan on having him either gulp the contents, or pour them into the dirt -not sure yet (see: haphazard above).

Finally, I'm preparing two bases that are going to have the "lava-thing" underneath. This is another first for me, so I'll be posting more on that learning curve as well.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Battle Report I, part three.

Some final ruminations on yesterday’s battle.

The Questionable Assault: so we accidentally screwed up the assault after deep strike rule when his Daemon Prince arrived in the top of turn four. That’s no big shake really. Certainly, it was an accident (caused by a brief break in the action) and neither of us caught it until later in the evening. To be candid I don’t think this matters in the slightest. If we had noticed it, the DP would simply have eaten his way down from the top of the food chain, rather than the bottom up. Which is to say, he would have spent the turn aligning himself to join the Terminator melee that had my Librarian stuck in it and then worked through the Scouts in later turns. He had “wings,” so he would easily have been mobile enough to get where he needed in what was otherwise a very crowded little corner of the table.

The Real Mistake: The above observation merely highlights the fact that my Librarian shouldn’t have been in that particular combat from the outset. Perhaps he was drunk with the thought of his own power (it’s called Hubris –overweening pride). In two consecutive turns his squad had eliminated an already mauled squad of Bikers, and then decimated another squad of Terminators. I had no reason to believe that the outcome would be any different for the next assault on a nearly identical unit of Terminators. Instead, he got himself stuck in round after round of meaningless combat.

But hindsight is 20/20, and I can say from a safe distance that he should have excused himself from the squad before the assault so that he was free to tidy up the loose ends that were still floating about the board.

Consider: at the bottom of turn four, I had something like 4 kill points to his 0. There was an opportunity to secure at least one more if someone (cough cough) were on hand to capably deal with the Berzerkers trundling through the trees. Instead, the good Referee collected something like 6 or 7 kill points in those final turns. Ouch. That stings.

I must remember to keep my Librarian playing toward his strengths. And with this setup in particular, I must keep those soft, small units of scouts away from trouble late in kill point games. It was entirely too easy for the honorable Referee to string up three easy kill points on soft targets.

(and by the way, if anyone is reading this, I'm curious what recommendations you might make about psychic powers for your Librarian. I had "avenger" and some other useless nonsense that I never used. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.)

The Schoolboy Error: Which leads me to my final point about that Librarian… I’d spent a considerable amount of time assembling, converting, painting, and generally doting on him –only to forget the 3+ invulnerable save that comes with the storm shield that I’d oh so carefully pinned to his left arm. That’s just a dreadful, dreadful error. Inexcusable really.

Next time.

In the mean time, I’ve nearly finished another Librarian conversion for the Onorevoli (the fluff I’m considering has them Librarian heavy). Let’s see what characteristic I can woefully overlook on this guy for the rematch, eh.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Battle Report I, part two.

Turn One: The Ref won the roll and elected to go first. His list is fast, fast, fast, and hits as hard as a class action to the knees. So, he did what comes naturally and moved forward at full speed with his Bikers in front and Berzerker-filled Rhinos close behind.

The Landing Platform in the center of the board presented him with an interesting problem. He could split his force, or remain coherent and flood either side. His Bikers clearly liked the open path toward my LR Crusader, and his Rhinos appeared to favor that side but remained uncommitted due to the Bikers’ ample lead.

On my half of the turn, the Dread dropped down between his Rhinos and his LR. Choices. Choices. I opted to melta one of the Rhinos with dramatic effect. The Devestators clipped and immobilized the other Rhino, and I was feeling pretty good about myself. His Bikers were hung out in the breeze and his two hardest CC units were stuck on the starting line.

Turn Two: His Obliterators arrived but scattered tremendously into my Whirlwind. The mishap roll let me place them anywhere and so, instead, they landed behind his LR on the other side of the board completely.

I was smiling at this point. In my early gambit, I had hoped to delay his rush, and so far it seemed that I’d not only stalled it, but also stopped it dead in its tracks. The Obliterators were basically out of the game… or so I thought.

The Bikers took the bait, continued heedless of the comrades they’d left behind, and brought down a few of Telion’s scouts in the building above them. Pitmann’s LR decimated the Venerable Dread, twice, and I could only take consolation that the ensuing explosion clipped one of his hapless Berzerkers.

My Terminators arrived and hugged the corner of the Landing Platform. The Librarian and his entourage (who look like Space Wolves but aren’t) jumped out of the LR Crusader and, all together, the crowd pummeled the Bikers for their trouble. A short assault from the Lib and co. was necessary to clean up the stragglers, but all in all it was a one-sided effort.

Smiling turned to smug. His force was arriving piece-meal and I was seemingly able to weigh in with all of my hardest units directly on each threat as it appeared. The plan was working…

Turn Three: Both of his Terminator squads arrived with an uncannily precise deployment behind my lines. A well-placed melta shot immobilized my LR Crusader –and that pretty much ended its participation for the day.

Oh, except for those lonely, misplaced Obliterators, who refused to be discouraged by their unfortunate arrival, staggered through some rubble, and slung off a las shot to make the Crusader’s day go from “stagnant,” to “over.” They took a few more shots in the next turns to finish the work, but it was an entirely academic matter at that point.

The Berzerkers saw what was waiting for them on the North side of the Platform and decided to head in the opposite direction through the trees toward some Scouts and Whirlwind.

Back to the Terminators: the second squad took its shots on my opposing (orange/brown-colored in the photos) Terminators, killed two, and broke them. I’m not entirely sure how that happened really. Smugness. Gone.

My Librarian and non-SW Terminators swung round, shot, then assaulted the squad that had just routed his orange comrades. In an aggressive bid to rescue this turn from the gutter, they performed nobly and decimated their opponents. Smugness salvaged?

As it turns out, no. I made a crucial error this turn. I used my Devestators to try and soften the unit in front of my Librarian. They didn’t. They should have stayed focused on the more urgent threat that was directly in front of them and closing fast. Sure, it doesn’t seem very sporting to shoot Berzerkers with Lascannons, but three or four less madmen in the next assault phase would be, well, three or four less drooling madmen the next assault phase. It’s a game of inches sometimes.

Turn Four: The Daemon Prince finally arrived on the far side of my disintegrating Crusader and set himself up to make trouble for the two Scout units nearest him. At this point, we may have accidentally misplayed something. I suspect that the Daemon Prince charged one of those Scout units that turn, which I don’t think he could do in retrospect. Hmmm. I’ll have to consult the Ref about this and have the game declared a posthumous draw.

His Terminators shot and assaulted my Librarian and un-Wolves. The combat was inconclusive and remained that way until the very last half of the very last turn of the game. Funny how that happens sometimes. Two hard units. Nothing happens. They just danced around each other for four assault phases. This was terrible news for me, but great new for the Referee Pitmann, who needed that time to bring the rest of his weight to the fight.

And so he did. His Berzerkers finally chased down my five Scouts that were standing between them and my Devestators and/or Whirlwind. The assault went badly for the good guys. In his consolidation, the Ref made sure to block my still-fleeing Terminators and ensure that they would have trouble next turn.

I don’t remember what the Devestators and Whirlwind did that turn, but I think it’s fair to say “not much.”

Turn Five: You may have noticed that Telion hasn’t been mentioned yet in this report. That is because he didn’t do a single thing worth mentioning the entire game… except look stoic while the Daemon Prince pasted him. That was decent of him.

The DP consolidated to make sure he’d join the Terminator dance next turn.

The Berzerkers caught and killed my Terminators that were fleeing. They then consolidated to ensure that my Devs were next.

Those Devestators found their target priority again, and admirably trimmed the number of salivating madmen at their doorstep, but it was too little too late.

My plan was all but unraveled.

Turn Six: In an appropriate but misguided act of heroism, the Librarian squared off with the Daemon Prince and was sent to the bookshelf for his effort. The Berzerkers sent their third unit of the day to join him.

And so ended the Onorevoli’s first day out, with only a Whirlwind left on the table. Huzzah?

The Referee is a great opponent, and it was an absolute blast to get a game in again after all this time. What’s more, this was a day of peaks and valleys. I’ve got a lot to mull over before our next encounter, and plenty more to paint.

I hope you enjoyed my first battle report and look forward to any/all feedback.