Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Adepticon: Visual Research

Today’s post is largely a “visual research” in style and substance. For that reason, there will be relatively little of my prattling, and quite a lot of images from my favorite odds and ends on Saturday –an immense day.

But first I need to apologize profusely to most of the artists that produced these, as there are notably few credits in included here. The focused intensity of the team-tournament, and the manic nature of the competition in general, as well as the limited amount of space/time available meant that I was able to speak with only very, very few of the people whose work I find both so compelling and so incredibly inspiring (if you recognize any of these armies, please let me know and I will most certainly give credit where it is due). I always asked permission, of course, but there simply wasn’t time to write everything down adequately, etc.

Well, here are the visual inspirations that I took from the event:

COLOR: These first examples are of some Orks whose color scheme caught me off guard. I like these fellows primarily because they are unexpected and visually arresting. They also invoke quite a bit of the high-contrast, complementary color theory stuff that makes each individual model really jump.

This team also added an element of playfulness and humor, which I find really quite compelling. It's almost enough to make me want an Ork army...

AIRBRUSHING: This Rhino was part of a HUGE mechanized force all done in nearly identical colors. I’ve discussed the merits of masking fluid elsewhere, but the combination of fluid and airbrush here made me want to drive straight to an arts supply store and start learning. The effects are subtle and smooth and just wonderfully dynamic. Again, the complementing colors make each (gray-blue and orangish rust) look more vibrant. Love it.

DISPLAY BASES: with my excessively strong compulsion towards the narrative of my armies, I am really surprised that I’ve never tried my hand at building a suitable narrative display base for any of my armies. Really. Perhaps it’s because I’ve never played a tournament. I don’t know, but the possibilities here are both endless and endlessly evocative.

In particular, I have to give special kudos to my friend FrozenJoe (ha) who helped create this truly fantastic Ork Derby. My favorite detail must be the Bleachers, which hold all the Boyz who would later pile out of said vehicles. Each quarter of the track held all the units for one player, so that the team could split up easily and re-assemble the track in between games. Fluff and Function. Lovely.

MAGNETIC BASES: It’s just a good idea, particularly with the above in mind. I’ve never tried it, but intend to in the very near future.

OUT THE BOX – SCALE: I’ve never for moment even considered using Epic scale minis in 40K. I will now. These are Bushido Red Panda's Sons of Horus, and in one photo you can just barely see the Horus he commissioned from Dave Taylor (Dave, in my humble opinion, is an absolute legend). Glorious.

OUT THE BOX – GAME SYSTEM: As these photos clearly demonstrate, there’s an entire alternate universe out there, and plastics couldn't possibly make it easier to walk across game systems in order to find a peculiar and/or unique look. These modest selections from WHFB make that point beautifully.

Again, Joe gets special credits for his use of Black Orcs as Nobz. It's both simple and perfect.

These Squats (IG counts as) were another notably interesting idea that got me thinking about…

OUT THE BOX – COUNTS AS: These nifty conversions are meant to be the Squat answer to the Chimera. Clever.

All of this has left me in a state of adrenaline-fueled enthusiasm for future projects of my own. Again, I’d like to thank all of the artists above for their work and for the inspiration they’ve loaned me. I hope to return the favor someday in the reasonably near future.

Tune in Thursday for my final “two cents” on the convention.

(If you haven't yet, be sure to enter Dark Templar's Prize Draw. It's class, and it ends in less than 24 hours).

Monday, March 29, 2010

Adepticon: an Honorable Result

First, I think it both customary and appropriate to offer a hearty “congratulations” to all the winners from this weekend’s Adepticon –I mean this with regard to the wide spectrum of game systems and tournaments and other competitions. It was a great weekend, and the winners should be rightly proud of their accomplishments.

Having said that, I think the real winner here must be our glorious hobby itself, in all of its robust manifestations. Although this was my first Adepticon, I always come off of these kinds of events feeling tremendously energized with all manner of ambitious hobby ideas that I’ve absorbed from so much awesomeness. I mean really, the amount of talent and genius and general skill out there is really quite staggering… and to see it all lamped together into one giant hall. That’s just wonderful. Of course, I’ll never manage half the ideas I have floating around at the moment, but that’s not the point. My little notebook is full of schemes and other delicious morsels for the future. Half will be quite enough.

But first things first. Yesterday, I mentioned my entry into the “Rogue Demon” painting competition. I’m quite proud to report that he earned an “Honorable Mention” in the competition. He is one of just a very few models that I’ve ever painted entirely for competitive purposes and, considering the talent that appeared this weekend, I’m really quite pleased with this result.

I really like this model and, although I rarely, rarely play LoTR these days, I still love the novels and really admire quite a few of the models that have been released for this range. So, I was pleased to find a proper excuse to paint him with the care and attention he deserves. Regular readers will have heard me discuss how important select and deliberate color palates are to my way of thinking, and this guy is certainly no exception to that disposition.

Obviously, he is basically two colors: Orange and Green. That’s it ...but not quite. I’m not sure how well the photos capture this, but almost all of the shading on the orange is actually green and all the shading of the green takes orange as its base. I think this is perhaps most evident in some of the brighter areas, like the skin tones and the very end of the cloth areas.

I had to replace his sword and, in the end, this may have been my greatest weakness. On reflection, there simply isn’t enough contrast in the sword to make it visually interesting, and I got a bit nervous for some reason about my original ideas about limiting the palate. As a result, the sword looks gray when it should participate more directly with the boldness of the rest of the model.

Ah well. Next time.

More on Adepticon itself tomorrow, but in the mean time, please enjoy some of my other favorite models from the competition (note: not all of these were winners, as such, but simply represent a selection of my favorites. Please check out The Painting Corps for the more official outcomes). Cheers.

p.s. and as has almost become customary at this point, I've posted this entry and then thought of one last detail that I'd like to mention. Yesterday Alexander asked about the base. I intend to make something like a tutorial on this topic in the very near future. Sorry, Alex, that this isn't really an answer to your question, but one is coming, I promise.

HAHA. I jest, of course. But seriously, check out these beauties:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

WIP: well... Adepticon Seminars

This is a rather atypical WIP Sunday post in that I’m not really documenting any work at any real stage of progress. As mentioned a few times this week, I spent my entire Saturday at Adepticon (which was exhausting). This was my first time at the convention and, to be candid, I’m still reeling a bit from it all. I’ll be posting more about the experience through the week as I mentally digest the proceedings, but I wanted to pick up the theme of Work in Progress for this Sunday’s post, and talk a very little bit about what I did yesterday, which one might reasonably describe as “make some progress on my ability to work.”

Aside from the various tournaments and demos and gameplay revelry, Adepticon offered a compelling and broad array of seminars, of which I attended merely two (each two hours long). The first seminar was conducted by Rich Nelson on the basics of molding as well as plaster (and to a small extent resin) casting. The second seminar was conducted by Joe Orteza on the merits or Greenstuff (one note: Rich is pictured above. Casting, obviously, happens at a different pace than sculpting, and I don’t have a single photo from this second seminar simply because Joe had us working from the second we sat down until after the official time limit had passed. It was intense… but rewarding).

I gleaned more in the two hours of each seminar than I could have learned in a month of Sundays on my own. As with so many things in this hobby, many of the nuggets of information that I learned were simply a matter of an experienced hobbiest showing (and not simply telling) the rest of us all those mischievous turns of information that are obvious to the experienced and utterly vexing to the novice (what to look for in your plaster/water mixture, why it’s best to add all the plaster and then stir, how to avoid clumps, tricks to minimize bubbles, etc). The Internet, admittedly, takes great strides to close this gap, but a skill is a skill and theory is wondrously different than practice. Quite simply, the exchange of information occurs at a glacial pace here on the internet compared to the rapid and immediate give-and-take of a hands on seminar.

Having said that, I will be doing my utmost to pass along all the information when, and as, I am able on this site. In particular, I will be making a few base molds in the reasonably near future, and will document with all the appropriate care and attention I can manage.

More on all of that, as well as other thoughts and photos and anecdotes and photos, as the week wears onward.

Oh, and one more thing. At the very last moment, I decided to try my hand at the painting competition. Here’s my entry below. We find out today how that all went. Fingers crossed.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hailed vs. Hated: The First and The Fateful

Here they are, my newest and most important squad of Arrugginiti as they approach completion. You will, of course, note that they’ve adopted Blood Angels Red as a sinister taunt toward their loathed enemy. Of course, there’s a story to this. They way we’ve thought this through so far, I’ve imagined this squad (known among rivals as The Fateful) as having become a crucial hinge in the antagonism between Templar’s Blood Angels 5th Company and my nefarious Arrugginiti. In fact, this squad participated in an egregious affront to the 5th company, which has been fundamental to the entire affair.

In short, several squads of 5th company regulars were dispatched to recover a purportedly valuable Relic that they had otherwise thought lost to time and all consideration. The Blood Angels presumed (wrongly) that, having been nearly lost from all knowing, their precious artifact had gone unnoticed by any other party concerned. Its collection, they supposed, would best be accomplished by a small, stealthy detachment that would not broadcast their intentions, or the object's value, too widely. But the universe is grand, and the malice therein unwavering. The few squads dispatched to collect their precious artifact crept unknowingly into a vicious Arrugginiti vice, and were themselves suddenly and almost entirely dispatched.

…almost entirely. The lone survivor told a horrible tale of the brutal efficiency and the vulgar capacity of the previous unknown Arrugginiti, who appeared as if from the ether itself and whose filth and loathing stank like sin, leaving an acidic metal taste in the mouth. Although unfocused and notably distraught, the survivor described two things with certainty: the unfettered malice of a Daemon Prince, as revelrous as he was vulgar, with dreadful hands pawing at the Angels’ Sacred Relic, and a horrific squad of Arrugginiti who stood out from the brief and one-sided turmoil for their eagerness to collect heads.

The Fateful Arrugginiti distinguished themselves, then, in this hasty confrontation as trophy takers. They were as interested in collecting pieces from the embattled Angels were in retrieving their relic. The Fateful took helmets, badges, seals, and most lamentably, the detachment’s sacred banner –which had been brought to honor the re-collection of the Blood Angels’ lost treasure. For these dreadful crimes, The Fateful have been marked for the bitterest revenge.

Knowing that they, themselves, have been identified for the Emperor’s retribution, The Fateful have embraced the role as its own badge of glory and unmitigated honor. They have adorned their armor with the color red to celebrate, and they carry the skulls they took that day (among others they’ve collected since) decrepitly into battle.

For Templar's take on the action click here.

Indeed. Dark Templar’s Red Recipe has been working a treat. As mentioned, my past attempts at red have always turned out either muddy or orange. By comparison, I’m really quite pleased with the way these have turned out. Equally so, I’m pleased with the way the red complements and actually enhances the Rust and Black theme throughout this squad. I was concerned that the color might be too close to the orange-ish palate and that it might tend to dull both as a result. I never should have worried. This red is both sufficiently vibrant and crisp to stand out rather distinctly from the browns and oranges elsewhere on the model. Moreover, I feel that it really adds some menace to these guys, who look entirely more evil than my other squad. Result!!!

I had the opportunity for an extended conversation with Scottish Keith from GW at Games Day last year, and one thing he repeated to me like a mantra was the word “contrast” –working from the darkest shades to the brightest even in really tight areas. At some level, I understood what he was saying, but it was much simpler for me in theory than it has been in practice. Moreover, that’s been particularly challenging for me with a color like red.

Having said that, I feel that the capes here really make a decent representation of that principle in action. I’m really pleased with them, and feel that they look sufficiently evil while also exploring the full possibility of this color red.

I would like to take a moment to re-iterate that these guys look menacing and tough.

I’d hazard that the squad is currently about 75-80% finished, but all the really challenging pieces are left: some work on the eyes, the meltaguns, some small detailing on the boltguns, the stray helmet on the turf, etc. You’ll also notice, for example, that the Aspiring Champion is nowhere to be seen. Ahem. He’s being re-worked in his entirety.

And in particular, I’ve been eyeing that banner with a mix of eager anticipation and modest reservation. There’s a lot to paint, and this time I intend to bring a bit of method to the madness rather than just wing it and hope for the best. Specifically, I would like to attempt a “stenciling” technique that I promise to document as we go forward.

Finally, the Rhino –what’s a squad full of melta if it doesn’t have Rhino to get it up amongst the opposition? I mentioned “winging it” above. That’s what happened here. All in all, I’m pleased, but I’ve been learning slowly, slowly. I am pleased, however, with the interior detailing. Yes. I’m that guy (or at least I’ve become him recently).

And one more photo, if only because he's my personal favorite...

Oh, and one final note: apparently, the Arrugginiti magics have already begun to work their sinister purposes on the Emperor's unfortunates. muah.

Adepticon: Swag Fest

I never managed that second post yesterday, so today’s first post becomes yesterday’s second… etc. Apologies, particularly as that last bit sounds a bit too much like mathematics for my liking, but I think you understand.

Adepticon starts today, and I suspect that at least some of you either will be traveling in for the event or are already in the Chicagoland area. If so, I hope to see you there. I’ll be the bald guy with glasses.

This will be my first Adepticon, and I’m tremendously exited (and a little nervous). I’ll confess that Adepticon only appeared on my radar in the last two years or so; I don’t really know why I’d missed it in years past. Perhaps I’d somehow envisioned it as the convention for more serious gamers, and not the stuff for a more amicable nerd like myself. Certainly, the tournament scene is a particular taste. But perhaps this next point has something to do with it, because I’d also like to confess that I am one of the people that really enjoyed GW’s Games Day (or NerdFest as we know it around here). I know that’s not a particularly popular stance here on the internets but, honestly, I’ve always enjoyed what GW put together and felt that last year was the most fun I’d had at any of the six or seven I’ve attended. More’s the pity that they’ve knocked it on the head for the Chicagoland area.

Part of the fact that I’ve enjoyed myself at Nerdfest has to do with GW, to be sure, but I also have to allow myself some small credit here. Last year was the first time that I really dove fully into the events; the first time I participated in any/all of the weird and wonderful little elements that float around the actual event itself; the first year out of six or seven that I genuinely shed my reservations, my hesitancy, and my paralyzing timidness in order to fully embrace my nerd glory (this blog, by the way, is a clear symptom of that new disposition as well).

Well, I’ve decided that the best way to get to know Adepticon, therefore, is to fully embrace Adepticon in the same capacity. So tomorrow, I’ll be arriving quite early and attending a seminar on Terrain Casting at 10:00. Then I’m going to meet up with Ref Pitmann and we are going to lunch and then peruse the convention in general. At 5:30 I’m attending another seminar on Green Stuff (which I need desperately –I have high hopes fro this one). If the clock permits, I might also attend a seminar Sunday on Airbrushing, but this one is looking rather improbable at the moment. Alas.

I mentioned earlier that you’ll be able to recognize me as the bald guy with glasses. I should have said, as the bald guy with glasses and this t-shirt.

Not bad, eh? If you’d like one of your own, all you need do is approach me at the convention and say hello. It’s that easy sometimes. I have about 10 extras, and I’ll be happy to shed them to whomever so desires. So don’t be shy.

I hope to see you there.

p.s. a question to you vets: is there open gaming at Adepticon? If so, anyone fancy a spin between 12:00-5:30 tomorrow?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Valhallans: Don't Turn Around woh-oh-oh...

This will be the first of two short posts today. First, something cheap and… well… cheerful- the command squad of First Platoon in order to round out this week’s Valhallan theme. A few readers will recognize the core elements here as the basic command unit.

One point of interest that you probably can’t see all to clearly but the Commanding Officer is armed with a hand-flamer (which, I believe, is no longer viable, although I hear is making something of comeback in the new BA codex). While I generally like to wysiwyg as much as possible, the position of said gun made the replacement of it more trouble than I was willing to commit at this point, perhaps sometime in the future, and the gun itself is pretty rare/cool. It seems a shame to waste it.

The squad is kitted out much like the others in First Platoon, but with some nicer details around the cuffs and cleaner, slightly more vibrant whites. Again, this makes the units immediately recognizable when stuck amongst others, but also visually coherent with the rest of the army. The detailing also fits fluff-wise as it seems likely that a reasonably important, senior unit would have nicer amenities. Good news starts at the top, after all, not the bottom.

And then der Kommissar. As I’ve mentioned, I want my Valhallans to have a heavily “campaigned” feel to them, and I suspect that as the units wear down over the seasons, a Commissar or three or four might be a handy way to make sure that everyone was still marching in the same direction. As such, this guy is only the first of several Commissars that will be making an appearance on the table next to my Valhallan regulars. This is a really simple swap conversion. I like the model but knew that a “power klaw” would be rather excessive for my Valhallans. Again, there’s almost certainly a wysiwyg problem here, but I’m not so bothered. Sometimes “cool” must triumph over “practical.”

Full points to anyone that spotted the 80’s reference (which was inspired by WH39.9K’s really generous article from yesterday. Be sure to check out his site in general as it is packed full of fantastic articles not just related to yours truly).

Later today, I’ll be posting a small item about Adepticon. You may have been hearing about a bit this lately and, because it would be rude not to, I’ll be visiting Saturday and briefly on Sunday. So be sure to stop back later for an interesting surprise or two related to Adepticon…

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

All You Need is Love.

I don't usually post on Wednesday, but today has been... well... exceptional.

First, the good people at Bell of Lost Souls ran one of my pics as part of their daily Wargames Gallery. I am incredibly flattered.

Second, Rob over at Warhammer 39.9K wrote a really, really generous article of introduction for his regular New Kids on The Block segment. Again, I'm tremendously flattered, and I've already noted an uptick in visits. It's not every day a man can say that he was favorably compared to Debbie Gibson. HA.

Thanks again for your support. It genuinely means quite a lot to me. Thank you.

p.s. The images are here simply because I didn't want to post without photos, but if you are wondering, they are from my Blood Bowl team: Assistant Coach, Cheerleader, and Apothecary, in that order.
p.p.s. If you are also wondering after reading Rob's post, it's just me. Brian.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Valhallans: First Platoon, Squads 1-2

These are the first two squads of First Platoon in my fledgling Valhallan army. After waiting patiently for some considerable amount of time, two more squads (pictured in the WIP from Sunday) have finally been primed and are coming along nicely in a similar manner to these guys. After introducing the test models from yesterday, I thought today might be a good time to have a look at the actual product that they ultimately inspired.

In the post yesterday, I identified a few “problem areas” that I wanted to be certain that I addressed in an almost entirely metal Valhallan army, and so on:

1. Orthopedics: The models need to be built up slightly so that they don’t appear oddly shorter than any contemporary plastic Cadian or Kasrkin models that are currently being folded into the army. The trick for me was to do with this without making the model look like it was being propped up for that very purpose. Snow is the answer. I’ve tried to use the snow here to elevate the base a bit, and to keep the models from slumping while also invoking an appropriately thematic element to the figure. For the next two squads, I’ve gone heavier with the snow only because I feel that the muddy bits make the snow seem too sporadic. It’s a process, this hobby. No doubt.

2. The Winter Palate: In the models yesterday, you’ll note that I tested two basic color palates, one with greenish armor and one with baby bluish-wintry palate. Each had a basic tan-ish khaki for the fatigues. For the final result, I abandoned the khaki fatigues (oddly the easiest color I’ve ever painted due to the glories of Devlan Mud), and decided to fold both colors together rather than isolate them. Each unit, then, uses one basic color (green or snowy bluish gray) as its base and the other for its accent. By proceeding in this manner, I’ve been able to work on all 20 models at the same time, more or less. It also kept the two units oddly unified despite the fact that they are fundamentally different color palates. In the end, this contrasting approach has been a key part of the next item…

3. Distinguishing one unit from another: As I mentioned yesterday, an older attempt at a Cadian army left me rather vexed because I had painted all 60+ models more or less identically (in a mad assembly line debacle that I will never attempt again), and while lined up on the bookshelf, this looked great. On the tabletop, however, this became an absolute nightmare. So, the alternating colors keep the units distinct with unmistakable ease. It also helps support another thematic element, in that I want my Valhallans to appear weary, worn, and heavily campaigned. As it stands, these units look as if they’ve arrived from disparate, scattered elements of the army and worked into the army in an “ad hoc” fashion. Perfect. As importantly, the fact that each unit has a slightly different variation on the basic theme of colors (hopefully) keeps them coherent as a whole, but also distinct when two squads are placed close together or (heaven forbid) get locked into the same assault.

I should also mention that the visually aggressive (high contrast –stark white / muddy brown) bases carry some of this unifying weight as well.

Finally, the next two squads that I’m painting (as well as the command squad, which we will see later this week) work within the same basic guidelines; however, rather than alternate colors again, I’ve simply tweeked the existing palate so that the command squad, for example, goes significantly lighter with the gray and also has some white elements around the detailing and cuffs (why wouldn’t the command squad have nicer uniforms). Again, this should keep the unit coherent but distinct.

ok. one more final note. These guys were painted hastily even by my sometimes impatient standards. They are tabletop quality, no more, but no less. As with any IG models, I feel that the real effort has to be directed toward command squads, characters, and, of course, tanks.