Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dark Eldar: now how about that…

All this talk of blood got me thinking about an oddly situated handful of models that I painted a few years back, at a time when I was just starting to work out the aforementioned blood recipe. It’s been a while since I had a glance, and I'm pleased to have salvaged them from the warp. But of course, it wasn’t simply the generous servings of viscera that brought them to mind.

Much like your good self, I’ve been absolutely saturated these last several days with news of the looming Dark Eldar release.

I’ll confess; I have mixed feelings. Most of the models are simply incredible: dark, menacing, creepy, evil, fantastic –precisely the qualities that first brought me to these troubled and brooding beauties. How truly horrible they are. I couldn’t resist painting them between other project and, as with the Orks from last week, I used these otherwise miscellaneous models as an excuse to imagine a few new (to me anyway) techniques and/or recipes.

You might note the metal, for example, as something a bit different from what you’ve seen here in the past. This was an attempt at a purplish-bronze that never quite made it to the big leagues. No worries. These models were painted "for the love," and were never intended to see the light of day.

…and then, quite naturally, the blood. That recipe, at least, stuck.

Now as then, however, I’ve not managed to muster quite enough interest in the entire range to succumb to the Dark Eldar vice. The pirate ship has little purchase on my bookshelf. You see, I love what I like (Reavers!), but remain relatively meh about these other critical aspects of the release thus far. The models are brilliant, to be sure - just not all of them for me.

To be candid, I’m relieved. Had the new range of models been too overwhelmingly glorious, I would almost inevitably have forced myself to slap together yet another army with which I’ve really no business meddling. So I’m grateful in a way that I’ll not be building a n entirely new army from scratch just yet (DH cough cough).

Will I be building a Special Operations: Killzone Team or two from these menacing Dark Eldar fiends? Why... yes. Yes, I will. Thank you for asking (Reavers!). Killzone has become the perfect excuse to indulge my compulsions on a scale that remains both manageable and engaging. Thank you, Big Jim. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Recipe: Blood redux

Last week, I posted my blood recipe because I'd had several comments and questions about it in the past. Funnily enough, I seem to have inspired more curiosity and questions than I answered because I've received an entirely new round of email asking for updated photos and a more clear explanation of the actual process as it happens. Funny how that happens. I guess the completed works from last time weren't doing the trick. 

So. Here we are once again. Forgive me if this is old hat.

I still use the last precious drops of the old GW inks for my bloody concoctions: Flesh Wash, Magenta Ink, and Purple Ink (just a little of this last one), which Cassey quite graciously informed me that one can still locate under the Coat D'Arms umbrella. Cheers mate! This is a breath of fresh air, as I've really come to love those old inks, particularly for metallics and for goopy effects like blood.

The Red and Flesh ink are designed to make the blood pigment, but the Purple Ink brings out the deeper, and more gritty, hues of clotting blood. If you let it, Purple will too aggressively dominate you mixture. Perhaps ironically, Purple is not only the most important color, but also the easiest to over-use; I encourage (nay, implore) you to limit it as much as you can.  

Nine times out of ten, this mixture isn't really a mixture. At best, they are improperly blended so that the colors stand individually from one another.  Even when the colors meet on the palette, I try to ensure that they are never fully worked into a smooth new color.

As mentioned last week, I dab a bit of each out with some space between them on my palette so that I can drag them toward a generous base of Gloss Coat (‘Ard Coat, I think they call it) in the middle. The Gloss Coat, if left to its own devises, will keep the individual components of the mixture apart from one another, so I try to stir enough to bring the colors together… but only just.

The application is the real sport to all of this. For this mini, I blotched just a tiny spot of the darker end the mixture here and there, focusing primarily on the recesses. I avoid directly "painting" for the most part, as it will quickly appear that I am doing so, and ruin the random bloody effect to which I'm aspiring. Still, these first couple of blots help set the darker tones in the recesses that the next step might miss.  You can see these here in the deep corners of the neckline and mouth area.

To complete the effect, I dab an old brush until it’s loaded up with my mixture, again being sure not to accidentally stir too much. I’ll take an extra bit of tissue and brace it over any part of the figure that I don’t want spattered, and then blow aggressively against the end of the brush form a short distance.

And there you have it.  again.

Thank you again for the support, and please let me know if this helped clarify what was missing from the previous iteration. Cheers.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

WIP: AdeptiCon Table One

I fear that, by the end of this all, you will feel that you have watched these tables come together in an extended and bizarre time-lapse film. Yes. These opening moments have been painstaking, and what limited hobby time I have these days have been almost exclusively consumed by one aspect of this enormous Killzone project or another. She’s a beast, no doubt. But so incredibly worth it.

The prototype has been challenging… mostly, I think, because neither of us has ever attempted anything quite this ambitious or dramatic. We want it to be strong. Certainly. And Dynamic. Absolutely. Well… it’s a process. We’re just about at the stage where we can start to playtest the table properly and this is where we expect to see where it needs to be refined and/or worked over.

With a mere six months left until AdeptiCon, I’m not exactly panicked, but I strongly believe that one must remain completely on top of a project like this. So… “slowly, but slowly.” We’re getting there.

By the by, look out for some unexpectedly strong forces in KZ; I was afforded the entirely too rare opportunity to play a few games last night. Matt’s Necrons, handed my Arrrugginiti their chaotic hats. Twice. And here I was feeling pretty confident about those guys. Thankfully, my Orks made their maiden appearance on the tabletop and inched a game out against some beautifully painted Space Wolves. More on that when time allows.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Recipe: Yellow

On Sunday I posted a bit about how I’m slightly re-working my Orks to make them much more immediately and dramatically distinct from my other armies. As I never really intended to use them on the tabletop, I’d painted them with what I considered experimental flair at the time, which is precisely the manner in which they came to act as the “rough draft” for other color schemes in my more complete and useable forces –specifically the Arrugginiti (note to self: there’s a kind of evolutionary trail implicit in my painting that might be interesting to iron out for a future post).

As a short cut, I chose the color yellow as the new accent color, which allowed me to repaint only a limited amount on each model (and in the rare instance not at all) in order to accomplish a reasonably grand visual change. Moreover, I’ve never used yellow… ever. So that alone would make them quite pronounced on my bookshelf. To this day, I think these guys might now be the brightest figures I have ever painted, and I like it.

Well, after that post, I received a groundswell of tremendous advice related to the color yellow. Unfortunately, almost all those recommendations directed me away from the GW range and toward paints that I don’t actually own yet (however, I have a giftcard and an eye for some new paints…).

In the mean time, here’s what I’ve been able to make with the modest GW range and those Orks:

As I was covering a Turquoise highlight, and taking BIG Jim’s advice about working up from a neutral color for yellow, I stretched a thin, thin, thin layer of Macharius Solar Orange over the turquoise. This wasn’t meant to cover perfectly, and wasn’t intended to be a base color, so I never worried too much about smoothness and proper coverage, etc. I just wanted the yellow colors to have something neutral on which to sit.

I then tackled the real base color for my yellow –Tausept Ochre. This is a little more brown/tan in hue and I was hoping that, although not an ideal shade, it would quite ably pick up a subsequent brownish orangish wash later in the process.

Next, Iyanden Darksun. Yes. That’s three foundation paints in a row. I’ve grown fond of the range and use it more often that is likely decent or appropriate in polite society. I thought, however, that I might be a bit clever here, as there is a trace amount of Iyanden in the skin highlight of these Orks (skin also accomplished largely with foundations, obviously), and the repetition (I hoped) would keep the colors working together.

I then attacked the yellow coloring more directly with Sunburst Yellow. This paint is hell to work with and exactly the kind of thing that turned me away from yellow in the first place. It’s strange. Full stop. The texture is goopy/snotty, and the hue spreads in a streaky, haphazard manner. It always seems to want to dry chunky, but it’s also lively and vibrant. Thankfully, I only required a relatively small amount to make the highlights leap.

For a (nearly) final highlight, I blended in a bit of Skull White, which actually helped the consistency of the yellow tremendously. It started to behave more like actual paint and less like snot, but then it also lost its original hue. Such is yellow, I suppose.

To help keep this all from becoming too ghastly, a quick wash of Gryphonne Sepia mixed with a devastatingly thinned bit of Macharius Solar Orange again to push the lowlights back down (I adapted this after a recommendation from Munky... thank you kindly). I might also consider a Devlan Mud wash here but, to be candid, I already have enough DMud spread across model after model after model, and I need to find new solutions to my painting problems, if you will. 

I then revisited my Sunburst Yellow and Skull White mixture, but with a bit more white this time,  and re-highlighted a couple spots that had been dulled a bit in the wash process to make sure that they remained suitably vibrant.

And there he is. Brand new.

This Big Boss model, by the way, is without doubt one of my absolute favorites models to paint.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Technique: Grated Bases

...up against it this week, which is at least a reason if not exactly an excuse for the late post today.

So this isn’t a recipe (what scandal), but rather a kind of technique “tutorial,” of sorts, for an idea with which I’ve had some small success in the reasonably recent past.

When called upon to do so, I can drink coffee like it was my job. Honestly. I’m talking Olympic quality effort. With this in mind, my lovely wife purchased a quirky machine that makes espresso and all that good stuff on an “as needed” basis. That’s progress. 

Each individual serving of coffee comes conveniently pre-packaged in one of these adorable little plastic pods. And so, after a rigorous week of work and whatnot (precisely as this one’s been for example), I invariably find several handfulls of these little pods sitting about the place, waiting for something better to do before the caffeine drains back out of those frozen hours.

A pair of clippers. A saw perhaps. I’ve discovered that grinds dry quickly when spilled across the kitchen countertop, and that each pod offers both a classy exterior bottom and an interesting interior top that happen to fit Terminator bases perfectly.

For this example, I scratched the bottom of the pod and the top of the base with very rough sandpaper to help get some friction between the surfaces, and then dabbed a bit of plastic glue to get the two together. Plastic is wonderful.

Although with proper sanding, this step isn’t exactly necessary, for this effort I also decided to rough up some green stuff not only to lock these grates in place permanently, but also to soften the visual transition between base and grate.

An extra detail from the bits box here and/or there, and presto. Here’s one I made earlier.

This Terminator Recclussiarch is currently serving duty amongst Roberto Vo5’s dreaded Deathwing, but he was recently on hand to give my poor Arrugginiti a right and proper kicking. The ingrate (get it? …apologies).

For smaller, standard infantry bases, I’ve also managed a more aggressive cutting-sanding-shaping attempt, but found the effort-to-reward ratio a bit too demanding.

I've always thought about trying to mold these and to make a proper resin set, but that still sounds quite complicated and ambitious to me. For those of you that have some modest experience in casting, does this look like something that could work? I'd love to know. 

See you Friday for my haphazard, and imperfectly realized, Yellow recipe.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Recipe: Blood

I missed my post yesterday on account of life and whatnot. Apologies. So today, we’ll have an otherwise unscheduled post to atone for the hobby-shaped hole on this site.

I’ve had a few questions about this one over the months, so without further ado, my Blood Recipe.

By and large, I still use the last precious drops of the old GW inks for my bloody concoctions: Flesh Wash, Magenta Ink, and Purple Ink (just a little of this last one). Time is limited on this aspect of the recipe, and my supply is dwindling, but not to worry. I’ve experimented modestly with the new washes, and I am reasonably confident that they will work perfectly: Baal Red, Leviathan Purple, and perhaps Gryphonne Sepia.

The first two inks keep the blood effect relatively, well, bloody (I’m not sure how else to say that, really), while the Purple Ink brings out the deeper, and more gritty, hues of clotting blood. The Purple is fundamental, in my opinion. Finally, the Gloss Coat ensures that it all looks properly wet and gory. For me, this is great fun.

Generally speaking, I work through the above either in small layers (as with the chalice and the drops underneath it), or in a splotchy mixture that isn’t properly blended so that the colors stand individually from one another of sorts. 

This last part is tricky and merits a bit more discussion. I dab a bit of each out with some space between them on my palette so that I can drag them toward a generous base of Gloss Coat (‘Ard Coat, I think they call it) in the middle. The Gloss Coat, if left to its own devises, will keep the individual components of the mixture apart from one another, so I try to stir enough to bring the colors together… but only just.

The application is the real sport to all of this. I dab an old brush until it’s loaded up with my mixture, again being sure not to accidentally stir too much. I’ll take an extra bit of tissue and brace it over any part of the figure that I don’t want spattered, and then blow aggressively against the end of the brush form a short distance.

It’s a mess, a bloody mess. Just they way it should be.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

WIP: Random and Bookkeeping

First Bookkeeping: There are exactly three Honorable Contestants from the Competition/Swagfest that might be wondering about said swag, but who remain otherwise too polite to ask. You know who you are. Your goods are in the mail this week. I promise. Thank you for your patience.

Second E-Bay: How I adore ebay. With significantly less time for painting and more time on the computer for mature, professional reasons, I’ve redirected my hobby interests to suit the unfortunate climate in which I find myself. If I can’t come to the hobby, then the hobby will come to me. Actually, I’ve been on a bit of an ebay glut lately. Too much time on the computer, and really during the tedious hours any excuse will do to troll page after page after page of random combinations of search words. It’s amazing what one will find.

These peculiar beauties arrived on my doorstep after an unexpectedly rewarding search of “warhammer, plastic, oop.” It’s that easy sometimes.

Am I correct in thinking that these randoms come from some GW-Mattel experiment of the late 80’s mid 90’s? I’ve never seen them before. Well, there’s some work to do yet, obviously, but all of this will be formed to fit (somewhere, somehow) into the current Killzone landscape.

Speaking of, I mentioned last week that I’ll be reworking my Black Reach Orks into proper Special Operation Groups and whatnot. I posted an experimental list last week, but also mentioned that I needed to rework the color scheme on these guys to distinguish them visually from other armies that I’ve created since.

Bad Moonz Yellow: to be candid, I’ve never loved yellow. The consistency of the paint has always been problematic for me, and I’ve never been able to find a compelling recipe of my own devising. Well, one way or the other, I’m determined to make this work.

My first efforts: There are actually about four layers of color here already, but I’m not yet pleased with the results. Certainly, they stand out distinctly from any other army that I've made... ever, but there's more work to be done before these guys are properly orked up. Once I’ve banged out the appropriate, satisfactory, and suitable details, I’ll post the recipe.

In fact, I declare this week recipe week. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Killzone: Arrugginiti

Because it would be rude not to, I assembled a Special Operations Group for my CSM chapter, the Arrugginiti.

Here were my initial thoughts.

Special Operations Group I: Rustolf’s Ruggine
Terminator: PF
Raptor I, II: Meltagun
Aspiring Champion Raptor: PW Team Leader
Chaos Space Marine I, II, III, IV:

That’s all well and good, but (after Wednesday’s post) I immediately realized that this list doesn’t  take proper advantage of  the full range of wargear and skills that make SO: Killzone such a brilliant game dynamic. My instinct, it seems, was tending to drift toward more standard situations, more bland creations. As a result, I'd assembled reasonably mundane figures on the Team. There was, quite simply, no personality to speak of between all four CSM or the first two Raptors. 

And so I revised.

The second time around, I started to consider the individual nature and personality of each model; moreover, I genuinely felt that each individual had a specific and appropriate roll to play in the way this Team might operate on the table. Herein lies the beauty of KZ.

Special Operations Group II: Senza Speranza
Aspiring Champion Raptor: PW, Master Crafted, Team Leader
Raptor: Pistol CCW, Specialist Assault +1A,
Terminator: PF
Chaos Space Marine I:
Chaos Space Marine II: Meltagun
Havoc: HB, Targeter

Just a few tweaks here and there (master crafted power weapon, assault specialist, and targeter), and the  personality really begins to leap out of this assemblage. Now. On another day, I would have described my enthusiasm for Special Operations: Killzone as somewhere between "strong" and "very strong."

At the risk of superbly overblown hyperbole, I love Killzone. l-o-v-e. love. While these action photos are from a purely hypothetical ambush, in which a bumbling squad of the emperor’s minions were crushed in a lightning strike from Team Senza, I can already sense the manner in which these narratives want to build themselves… pure potential. And it's only going to get better.

Away we go. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Killzone: Onorevoli

Uncharacteristically, I’ve been having some fun crunching numbers for various Special Operations Groups and fancifully dreaming of the day when all this theory becomes carnage and mayhem.

Alas. I’ve been snowed under with responsibilities, and it will likely be another week or more before I actually get to test these glorious Teams on the tabletop. Meanwhile, for the first time in my hobby career, I’ve actually really been enjoying the simple pleasure of sitting in front of a codex and writing out list after hypothetical list. Perhaps those theoryhammer types are on to something...

And so, in lieu of actual painting and other hobby-related activities, I'm here to tell you that it is one of the unwritten treats of Special Operations: Killzone that there is a genuinely limitless opportunity to play around with force organizations in a theoretical manner that doesn’t require too much by way of aggressively complex maths (thankfully, as I am dreadful with maths). but 200 points? pishposh.

Here, for example, is the first quirky Killzone Team that I conjured for my unfortunate Onorevoli:

Special Operations Group I: Team Zeta
Scout Bike: Grenade Launcher, Team Leader

3 Tactical Marines: x2 w/Bolter, 1 Meltagun

Scout Sergeant: PW

6 Scouts: x3 w/sniper rifle, x3 w/ bolter

At the end of the day, this group didn’t feel perfectly aligned with the Onorevoli dynamic and fluff, so I rewrote the list for a more challenging presence on the tabletop, certainly, but also for a more authentic Onorevoli feel.

Special Operations Group II: Team Omicron
Terminator: TH/SS, Team Leader 

Terminator: Autocannon

Scout Sergeant: PW

4 Scouts: x2 w/sniper rifle, x2 w/ bolter

As theory is eventually replaced by experience, I fully intend to develop the personalities of these groups with plausible and generous servings of fluff. This second crowd makes me want to believe… 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Killzone: Orks

If I needed more reasons to be enthusiastic about Special Operations: Killzone (I don’t need any, but if I did), I wouldn’t have to look very far to find them. 

By the way, if you've not checked Killzone out yet, have a glance at the Beta that is currently up and running, running, running; you can find it on Galaxy in Flames and/or the link at the right. 

Several years back, I was given the Assault on Black Reach box set. Tremendous. Since then, I’ve hastily folded most of the Tactical Marines, the Dreadnought, and the Terminators into my Space Marine Chapter, the Onorevoli.

The Orks: well, I was never quite sure what to do with them. I painted quite a few in colors that later became something akin to the template for my Arrugginiti CSM, but I never really had the gumption to finish the Orks as such … so they sat. and sat. and sat.

It’s a tough life, sometimes, being a semi-wanted miniature. But lo! Killzone has given these reprobates a place on my table at long last. Of course, I need to address the color scheme, and have already decided to replace the turquoise with a proper Bad Moonz Yellow for shock if not awe. In the mean time, these guys might actually have a chance of seeing improper action on the tabletop.

Will this be the most ambitiously chosen Special Operations Group? Not a chance. I’m basically dealing with the box set and an odd bit or two that I found laying about the place. Do I mind? Not in the slightest.

I just need to find a way to get that Warboss (a very, very cool model if ever there was one) into the Special Operations Group –not sure how I’m going to wangle that.

The (not sexy but still intriguing) list:

2 Nobz 

2 Deffkoptas

10 Boyz: Big Shoota

1 Big Gunz

We’ll see how this turns out. Who knows, a bit of this and a bit of that and I might soon find myself with yet another fledgling army on the bookshelf.