Friday, December 2, 2016

The Best Villain Name Ever

To lead my generic ninjas into battle, here's Ra's Al Ghul. While the model is nice enough, I didn't really want to spend too much time on him, so he's a bit of a rush job.

I didn't want to just paint him in blacks and greys, so I decided he would be wearing a dark green suit. Well, that was the plan anyway; clearly I should have used a darker highlight colour. Oh well. I settled on purple for the scarf and tie; a royal colour that looks nice with the green. I also give him slightly darker skin than I usually do, to suggest an Arab ancestry to match his name.

I had a bit of trouble when painting him. I tried to use my usual highlight-plus-drybrush technique for the blends, but the green I was using for the highlights doesn't drybrush very well - low opacity I think - so it didn't really work, and I ended up with these really sharp highlights. It doesn't look very good up close, but it's not bad on the table, and the nice colour scheme is quite pleasing to the eye, so overall I'm OK with him.

I think his came out OK considering how fine the detail is on these minis. I used the simplest way I know of painting eyes: white base, black dot, shade with Ogryn Flesh at the same time as shading the face. Even just that was a struggle that had me yelling profanities at the walls, his eyes are so small.

Funnily enough his head is actually a little disproportionately large when compared to some of the other miniatures in the range, but I guess that's fitting for a guy who's first name is "head".

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Captain Deadpool!

This guy was a gift for a friend. I was experimenting with a different light setup for photography, so the photos are perhaps not quite as good as they might have been (if nothing else they are a bit warmer than they should be).

This guy was an opportunity to practice highlighting muscles and that sort of organic shape. I think he came out quite well; the black didn't quite work the way I wanted it to, but it's not bad, and the red is pretty good I reckon. The belt buckle was a bit of a challenge; the results may not look amazing in the photos, but in real life his belt buckle is so tiny that I think most people would agree that what I managed is pretty good.

As is usual for Knight Models' stuff, assembly was a complete pain. Bad mold lines (you can see that I didn't manage to completely get rid of a few), plenty of gap filling required, including merging the model to the base, and of course the swords were so ridiculously flimsy (I practically could not handle the model without bending them) that I simply had to replace them, which was a bit of a job. Of course, me being me, I only pulled the trigger on that after I had already attached the arms and sculpted over the join. Then of course I snapped an arm off while drilling the hole, meaning I had to repeat the sculpting part... sigh.

The sheaths weren't as bad as the swords, but they were still vulnerable to bending. Plus they looked too small to me; I think they were actually narrower than the original blades. So I put together replacements for them as well. Then I lost the replacements and had to assemble another set... sigh. Well, the second set of replacements actually ended up looking a fair bit better than the first, so that's alright I suppose.

Overall I enjoyed painting him (if not assembling him) and I'm happy with how he turned out. I think he was a good learning experience. I'm starting to enjoy painting Knight Models a bit more; while painting my 40K stuff has mostly been about highlighting armour, and painting my PP stuff has mostly been about picking out all the detail that covers every surface, painting these models has been more about highlighting organic shapes, which is something I haven't really done very much of so far.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Everyone Needs A Good Breakfast

So this just happened. And so:

In case it isn't obvious, that's toast sticking out of his vents, a (grossly oversized) butter knife in his hand, a stick of butter on  a plate, and two spare loaves lashed to his pauldron.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Tutorial: Powered Bases And Light-Up Bases

Well, I finally got around to writing up that tutorial I've been promising to all of the two people who were actually interested. So if you'd like to steal my most precious secrets, you can read the whole thing here. Warning: it's very, very long!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Hark, I Hear The Bombards Roar!

Finally. Embarrassingly, this is actually my first Khador model this year. I actually finished assembling him last year, but for some reason I just didn't want to paint him. I think the model is just too crowded; there's too much detail that doesn't need to be there. You don't need to cover every surface with studs PP!

To be fair though I haven't really painted very many "difficult" models this year, not after the first couple of warjacks. It's been a weird year, and I just haven't been motivated to paint anything too difficult; instead I've been experimenting with paint techniques on simpler models that I could finish quickly.

Truth is I did find this guy a complete paint to paint. There's so much crowded detail that I had to keep going back and fixing mistakes. For some reason I couldn't settle on a colour scheme that would give the model a strong focal point; there's just so many different surfaces spread out over the model that all the colours pretty much ended up everywhere. And I just didn't have enough browns to give all the different materials distinct colours (the coat, the leather boots and accessories, the wooden shield handle and gun stock, the sleeping pack, the fur trim, the water bottle, the... map?) - I didn't want to introduce different colours that would stand out too much.

I also made some mistakes, and applied washes after some highlights when I should have done the opposite. As a result some of the highlighting is too subtle. For some stupid reason I decided to matt the whole model with Vallejo brush-on matt varnish rather than my usual matt spray. Not only was the process more tedious, there were also a few bubbles that I failed to get rid of and that left holes in the model (there's a big one just under the right thumb if you look). Plus, for some reason base didn't quite come out right and looks streaky, even after two coats (I just kind of gave up to be honest). I think I'll be sticking with spray varnishes from now on.

Despite my mistakes I think he looks alright overall. I actually think that the beard saves the model by acting as a focal point. Surprisingly the steel details help quite a bit by providing some variety in a few key locations (unlike the brass which is kind of just everywhere).

But the big deal about this guy is that he's my first attempt at a new way of making light-up bases. With Strakhov I found that simply pointing the LED upwards didn't look very good, and while Alexia and Solomon looked much better the technique I used for them was difficult and could not be applied to an entire base-topper, only to one or two parts of one.

Well, I finally hit upon a relatively simple way of lighting up a whole base. This first version isn't perfect (and Harkevich might not be the best model to demonstrate it because his coat covers so much of the base), but it still worked. I'll be writing up a full illustrated tutorial on the exact technique I used soon, but I figured it would be better as a separate post.

You may have noticed that there is a bit of conversion work involved in the model as well. I never liked Hark's hat or the mechano-ham, so I removed them. Ditto for all the stupid spikes everywhere. There was never any question that he would be getting a Deathwing Knight mace, 'cos they look great and justify him having Beat-Back (which he then went and lost... sigh). I decided that a viking helmet would go well with the mace and the mighty beard, so I sculpted one on. I wasn't sure about the wings but I like how they turned out in the end.

The pose on his left fist was OK, but I figured a shield would look better while also being more thematic, so I rotated his arm and added a simple shield I had lying around. It was a bit too plain considering how busy the rest of the model is, so it got a Khador logo sculpted on. He got the Sentinels Eternal logo on the right shoulder because I couldn't think of anything else to replace the stupid spike.

It took a lot of work to carve the rock out from under his foot.
Of course the rock needed to go so he would fit the base.
The Khador logo came out quite well.
A little out of place, but oh well.
The helmet wasn't actually too hard to do.
Adding the wings was actually quite tricky though.
I ended up taking off more fur than needed, but it wasn't too hard to resculpt.
Speaking of which, the model was actually missing some fur to begin with.

Thank God that's done. Hopefully I'll get to see if he's any good on the table in MkIII soon; on paper I'm not convinced. Back in MkII I nicknamed him The Iron Bull - because he gives warjacks wings. And also because he looks more like a bull than a wolf to be honest.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hail To The King, Baby!

So I picked up HassleFree Miniatures' Oakley model ages back. Cos I'm a big fan of... Oakley. As is usual for me he sat there unassembled for a long time, then when he was finally assembled he sat there unprimed for a long time, then when he was finally primed he sat there unpainted for a long time. Hey, I do most things except painting in batches, and I'm a slow painter, so basically everything moves slowly.

Anyway, when the new Oakley vs Evil Dead started airing (coughlastyearcough), I decided it was finally time. Then I realised I wasn't good enough at painting cloth to do him justice because I've mainly just been painting armour all this time. So I put him back on the shelf, half-painted as he was, and started painting some cloth-y models, trying different ways of painting blacks, beiges, and blues. I eventually settled on a painting method I was happy with and some colour schemes that looked about right, and finally pulled him back out and finished the job.

Then I realised that the way I had planned to do the swamp water wouldn't actually work. So back he went while I spent many weeks experimenting with different water products, paints and inks, as well as different ways of combining them.

It turns out that typical water products shrink quite a lot and have a lot of surface tension so they tend to get wicked into crevasses. Not a problem when you're using them to fill a simple, large water feature, but the results were terrible when trying to fill a small, complex space like this guy's base - at least if you were expecting to do it in just one or two passes. Also, paints don't always mix well with water products, and even if they do then they actually seem to exacerbate the shrinking problem.

But yes, finally I figured out how to apply the water (Woodland Scenics Realistic Water) in extremely thin layers, applying heavily thinned-down paint (Woodland Scenics Green Undercoat mixed around 1:2 with Lahmian Medium) on top once each layer had dried (except the last obviously). A very slow process, but eventually it was done, and he was ready to be photographed.

I tried a lot of different methods and combinations!
After the first couple of layers, the colour and depth is starting to build up.
The final result.
I think it looks pretty good overall.
The shirt was just Enchanted Blue highlighted with with Ice Blue using my "highlight plus drybrush" hack. The trousers took some experimentation but ended up being Snakebite Leather highlighted with Bleached Bone and washed with Gryphonne Sepia and Devlan Mud (possibly watered down). I believe the hair was Shadow Grey washed with Badab Black then highlighted with Shadow Grey then a bit of Blue Horror.

The leather was Doombull Brown hightlighted with Skrag Brown. It was probably washed with Devlan Mud, but I'm not sure if that was before or after highlighting. Wood was also Doombull Brown, highlighted with I believe a mix of Doombull Brown and Pallid Wych Flesh. Bones were of course Bleached Bone washed with Gryphonne Sepia. Skin was my usual Elf Flesh washed with Ogryn Flesh; in this case I actually did some spot shading and highlighting with additional coats of those two colours.

The chainsaw body was Blood Red highlighted with Wild Rider Red and washed with Baal Red (not necessarily in that order). Steel was just Boltgun Metal washed with Badab Black and highlighted with Chainmail. Brass was Gehenna's Gold highlighted with Auric Armour Gold. The rusted metal on the base was Blazing Orange drybrushed with Boltgun Metal and highlighted with Chainmail (there may have been washes involved, I don't remember). The submerged sword hilt was Tin Bitz, with Nihilakh Oxide applied for the verdigris then Gehenna's Gold used to highlight.

I actually darkened the entire eye area (I think I used a brown or dark skin colour) before adding the whites and pupils, and it looks much better this way than without that first step. The effect is probably a bit too heavy, but I dont' have good enough brush control to do much better. I might go back and paint some gloss varnish over the eyes, I haven't decided yet.
This might be the best face I've ever painted.
There's actually a bit more conversion work on this guy than you might realise at first. The original model has it's foot on a single skull, but no scenic base or anything to go with it. So I decided to complete the skeleton using GW parts I had lying around. This led to the idea of a swamp full of skeletal bits. I actually deepened the stock PP base so I could get a deeper swamp effect, and cut and filed various bits to match the skull (kinda; GW skeleton bits are slightly larger in scale, but it's not really obvious in situ) and fill the base.
Ah yes, the good old "Black Reach" skull. It seemed appropriate.

Midway through painting I realised there was a small miscast in the face, so I had to carefully try to sculpt over the damage. The result turned out OK, except that I was so focussed on the cheeks that I didn't think to sculpt the corner of his mouth to match the other side. As a result he has a bit of a "Mona Lisa smile".
I didn't realise how bad it was until I started painting the skin.
Fortunately it looked fine once I painted over the greenstuff.

Finally, the gun. The model came carrying what looks like a pump-action shotgun, but in the movies A... Oakley uses a sawn-off double-barrel. I was not OK with this inaccuracy, so I ended up fabricating a shotgun myself. I cut off most of the original and re-sculpted the stock and receiver, mating them with a pair of (slightly oversized) metal tubes. The result is MUCH more authentic.
The original model.
My version.
Sadly I don't have any WIPs; bascially very little of the original remains.
"This is my BOOM STICK!"

Overall this guy took far more time and effort than you might think (or at least than I had been expecting), but honestly I think he looks good. This is probably the happiest I've been with a model in a while, so I guess it was worth it. Now I'm kinda wishing I had a game to play him in. Maybe I'll mock up some homebrew rules for him or something, although to be honest any kind of tabletop gaming is going to get harder for me to do for the foreseeable future, for a number of "real life" reasons that all kind of happened at the same time. Ah well, I'll just have to make do; I sure as hell ain't giving up on the hobby!