Sunday, 5 December 2010

Starting a Tyranid army

This little project of mine is to satisfy 2 things - 1 - its an army I want to build up from scratch because for some reason I love close combat themed armies in Warhammer 40k, and 2 - its an entry for a painting competition in WAMP which I have recently become a member of.

There are plenty of photos of progress in my Flickr gallery but for my initial post, I'll write something about the colour scheme I have chosen.

I primarily use Vallejo Game Colour paints, along with citadel washes - I much prefer the dropper bottle arrangement for my paints, which gives me a much easier time to get them out on my work area and then from there I can apply my thinner mixture to the paints. For washes I tend to slap them on quite liberally, so I don't mind dispensing those direct from the pot, which is where the citadel ones come in much better than the dropped bottles.

As far as they key areas of the model, the colours I use are as follows:

White spray where possible, otherwise white brush-on (white primer from Vallejo)

Cold Grey base coat
Badab Black Wash
Overbrush Cold Grey
Drybrush Elf Flesh (lightly over certain areas)
Elf flesh painted on to raised spines

Squid Pink
Baal Red Wash

Black basecoat
Ultramarine blue first drybrush
Eectric blue edging/drybrush

Elfic Flesh
Devlan Mud Wash

Escorpina Green
Thrakka Green Wash

If I refine any of the colours to something a bit different as it develops, I'll post about it, otherwise work in progress shots will be posted a bit later.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

My foray into 54mm goodness

One thing about practice makes perfect... you need to keep on practicing. I've never really looked into anything large scale before (other than vehicles and robots in my 40k armies) so I set aside that issue and went to see about painting up a 54mm miniature, specifically that of the Covenant figure from the Inquisitor series by Games Workshop.

This figure was mainly done to test my abilities in large scale model, but ultimately too for selling for the shop.

In order to be positive first and foremost, what I liked about it:

1) This is the first model that I have put pupils into the eyes, and its all the better for it. I tend to keep my eyes pupil-less in the 28mm stuff, but that can end up making my humanoid figures look like zombies rolling their eyes back into their heads - with things with solid eyes of course thats not really a problem (thinking tryannids or space marines with helmets)

I'm really proud of the pupils, I managed to get them both looking in the same direction, having a cross-eyed inquisitor could be a bit of a problem.

2) The face - having a bit more space to work with, I managed about 3 layers of highlighting on the face. It doesnt show up well in the pictures, but it looks great in person.

Now though for the things im not too happy about:

1) I primed the miniature using Gesso as I had started doing early in the blog. For plastic miniatures, this has been great, but for white metal figures, I'm not sure if I just didnt leave it to dry for long enough or not, but every single time I picked the figure up, I would end up rubbing off some of the paint. I ended up having to varnish the figure after area had been finished to try and give it some sort of protection from handling. That seemed to work, but there were far too many layers of paint on this by the end of it.

2) My freehand skills are non existant, therefore I didn't bother doing anything on the wide open space of the trenchcoat. On the box for the model, it's got a nicely drawn inquisitor symbol on it, but my figure has been left plain. I honestly dont think it detracts too much from the model though.

3) I didnt highlight the coat, only worked down with varying shades of wash to make an appearance of depth. Again, I don't think the model suffered too much for that, but it's one area I'd maybe consider doing something different in the future.

As per usual, my work in progress shots are shown on my photostream:

Finally, a picture of the completed miniature:

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Realm of Battle

I'm one of those guys who back in the day used to have a flat, green cloth battlefield with the occasional rock and model tree to break up the dullness. Having a decent, sculpted battlefield to fight over with hills and hollows built into it seemed like a far off fantasy, as DIY was never one of my strong points, and aside from the occasional bit of cut polystyrene covered in wall filler to make it a bit more durable, my scenery making days were fairly limited to small, portable pieces, and modular terrain was something well beyond my skill levels.

After I spotted the Citadel Realm of Battle I was smitten. I was shocked at the price too, but smitten all the same. Then the store came along, with its trade prices.

I just had to give one a go. It would make a nice centrepiece for the store, so armed with a nice big bag of reptile sand (after a bit of a failure at getting decent sand at B&Q and picking up a bag of wet, builders sand, and realising that it came out in big clumps and not loose) and a massive pot of PVA glue, I set to work on the boards covering them over with the basing mix to give it a nice texture to play on.

I keep on forgetting just how big 6 lots of 2 foot square clumps of hard polystyrene could be. The entire living room floor seemed to be covered with newspaper to try and keep the spillages to a minimum, but after some investing in some 'artists acrylic' (read great big pots for about the same price as I pay for my small miniature painting pots of paint) I set to work with the basecoating and drybrushing, on a set of nice half and inch wide brushes I picked up.

I picked a fairly standard 'green grass with patches of mud showing through to break up the monotony' look just to keep it roughly in line with my green bases since these were all going to generally go together as display pieces in the shop, and I kept my stone colouring the same as the smaller rock assemblies I have done as loose pieces of scenery.

As far as a review of the boards....

I like them. They're sturdy themselves, but of course the miniatures have serious problems sliding down the hills, but that was somewhat stopped by my liberal application of sand to give something that provides a bit more friction.

The obvious thing that pretty much everyone else has commented on are the 'tectonic skulls' - i.e. the fact the entire land seems to have been rested on a sea of skulls, since every single crack in the ground has a few skulls inside them, but its still a nice board even with that glaring issue.

The clips are pretty poor, but as long as you rest the boards on a baseboard of some type, it's got no problem sticking together even after some accidental knocks, and some non accidental 'moving all around the place to get past it' moments.

Theres a few work in progress shots of the board in my flickr account, and for those that don't like clicking links, heres a photo of the finished article - though its only 4 of the 6 boards as the others wouldn't fit where we had them on display.

Finally... a link to the aforementioned Flickr album... enjoy:

Monday, 8 November 2010

A word from our sponsors...

Well not really, since i'm not actually getting sponsored in any way, but on the other hand, since the reason why I got back into the hobby was due to pestering from a friend of mine about how I should help him by painting up some miniatures, I thought I should really give a link for his shop in my blog.

I'm kinda working on a banner to hopefully get some paid advertising up on some well known forums relating to miniature collecting/painting/gaming, but for now, you all out there in blogging land can see the first draft (and my first foray into making an animated GIF... no doubt you can see that I've never done this before today....)

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Cypher - The Fallen Angel

This was my first ever fully painted miniture since I returned to painting in late 2009/early 2010.

Cypher was one of those characters from the Dark Angel codex that I always thought was really great in the fluff' but I'm somewhat certain that there was never a figure in production for him, and my skills with the greenstuff are sorely lacking.

When I returned to the hobby, I found that my friend had a couple of these traded in, so I couldn't resist giving it a go.

Now... a bit of self criticism - I think I didnt quite get the hang of thinning out the paints to the right consistency for doing this - some of the areas seem a bit too thick, especially the skeleton on his chest, theres some areas where the bone colour smothered over the chestnut ink shading completely removing the shadow.

On the positive side, I think the cloak shading was quite good - Shading of the Dark Angel robes was always my failure back in the day (they were just solid colour, no shading/highlighting at all) at least now I managed to pick out some of the highlights. They're a bit blocky for my liking, but considering this was the first full miniature I painted for over 5 years, I was quite happy with it.

For some photos of the miniature, see the link to Flickr below:

Back to it... lots of updates to come

OK, in all honesty, I forgot I was starting this blog. I apologise... I'm a bad man (but in a good way, dont let anyone tell you otherwise)

So far I've done a few little projects that I've not wrote about on here. I'll be documenting those, and also my newest little project as well.

The list of up and coming posts are as follows:

1) I painted up a Cypher figure that I had always wanted to do back in the day
2) Im working on several 'house armies' for the shop - the first of these is a Blood Angel army worth about 1500 points.
3) I worked on a 54mm figure, specifically the Inquisitor Covenant figure
4) My newest project is working on a second house army, of 1500 points of Tyranids.

I've also made a new Flickr account to upload all my work in progress shots, if anyone wants to see some of the images before the write up goes with them, feel free to look.

Friday, 12 February 2010

New Update (at last)

I've been feverously working over the past few weeks to get my skills back on track (and more importantly my speed up) whilst renovating the scenery for the store.

I know I've not documented these mini projects in any great detail (thats still to come) but I've uploaded the photos to my Picassa account for anyone to view if they so desire:

1) Painting up the Realm of Battle boards
2) Painting of small scenery pieces
3) Painting of Cypher the Fallen Angel Character
4) Some miscellanous info on my tools I use and my paint store

Have a look-see, you might find something interesting in there until I get around to posting about it properly. Any questions or queries, please let me know.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

No more excuses... further toys

Seems that I am now running out of excuses not to paint.

I've been spending my pennies once more, and invested in a nice daylight desk-clamp light, so my night time painting sessions should be practical once again.

I've also invested in some Windsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky sable brushes. A bit more expensive than the Citadel brushes im used to using, but going from popular opinion, they are quite a bit better and should be worth the additional spent on them. No doubt when I've had a chance to use them a bit I'll write something about them.

Just for the record, I currently use the red handle brushes from a fair few years back, not the more recent blue or black handle citadel brushes which are supposedly at both ends of the useability spectrum. The blue ones were terrible, the black ones are supposed to be great. I may invest in a few of the citadel black handled ones for the lesser detailed works, as rumours are that they are also Kolinsky sable. As they are a few pounds cheaper than the Windsor and Newton or Rosemary and Co. brushes that are hailed as the best out there, I have my doubts as to how valid that claim is... I've never yet known Games Workshop to be reasonably priced compared to specialised suppliers.

Oh and the Realm of Battle board that we ordered for the main gaming table/display in the shop has come in, so I need to invest in a bag of sand from B&Q and get on with painting that up. More to come on that later.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Basecoats and washes done - not happy with the result

Well... the blue and the green have worked well enough, but the red seems terrible. Even with a first stage 2 layer covering of Mechanite Red (the GW/Citadel foundation paint) there was still a fair bit of black showing through. I went ahead to move onto the Vallejo 'Bloody Red' colour to do the main base coat, and still had lots of black show through.

The paint scheme looks fine in my low-light bedroom without the desk lamp shining on the models, but as soon as its daylight/the room is properly lighted the effect looks terrible.

Painting red on black has always been my nemesis, and it seems that it still will be. I was scared of putting on too many coats of foundation red as I was worried I was going to obscure too much detail (even with thinning my paint) as its already building up around the inside of the fingers/edges of the armour and backpacks and things, whilst theres black showing through the raised areas around it.

I'm still wondering if a white or grey (since white gesso seems to cover so badly) will be a better alternative undercoat for the red.

To make matters worse, because the lighting is so bad in here, the cheapo camera I use cant really pick up the model well, so I'll need to wait until I can next get decent quality light to take photos, and unfortunately with going back to work tomorrow after the new years break, I leave when its dark, and return home when its dark, so daylight shots are completely out of the question. Might have to see about what can be done.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Basecoat - and a problem

Firstly, as you may or may not know, the UK goverment has changed the policy on lightbulbs, and now its hard to get standard 100W light bulbs these days, instead you need to get the more environmentally friendly, low energy bulbs, which unfortunately dont give off as much of a good level of light as the old ones.

As I currently dont have a desk light for working from, I thought this would suffice for working under when not doing any fine detail work, but unfortunately its just too dark to really make out much of the miniature. The photo below was taken after a first bash at doing the base coat on the blood angel, crimson fist and dark angels marine. Aside from the obvious red of the blood angel, the other two still seem to be almost black in this light, however as you can see from the flash-enhanced camera shot, the green and blue show up, and show some obvious parts that I've missed.

It seems that in order to work at night, im going to need to invest in some lighting a bit closer to my work area, as my room light is completely unsuitable for the task.

Priming with Gesso

Yesterday, whilst I was recovering from a bout of new years eve revelry, was also the 'get the priming done so you're ready for saturday' day.

I had heard wonders about stuff known as gesso - for any canvas painters out there, that term will not be unknown to you, but for the miniatures painters, before I read it on some forums, I'd never heard of the stuff.

Gesso is a painted on substance that when used with canvases is designed to cover over the tiny bumps and holes in the weave and give a smooth base to work from, whilst providing a keyed surface to get your paints to stick a little better. After a bit of experimentation from those who have painted before me have found is that it also makes an excellent undercoat for miniatures, as long as you get a decent brand (some of it has quite large particles in it, so can give a somewhat bumpy finish - everyone reccomends Liquitex brand, but I couldn't find it anywhere, and im not quite sure its even available in the UK except by mail order/online, so instead I got some Daler-Rowney brand Gesso from my local Hobbycraft store.)

What Gesso does is it forms a 'film' covering the miniature, which dries similar to PVA glue (if youve ever just painted it on a sheet of paper and waited for it to dry - it can easily be peeled off when its dry. Now whilst most people would then be saying that this is exactly what paint does (it leaves a film on top of whatever you've painted) you'll soon see the difference if you paint a layer of paint on a piece of paper and try and peel it off - it cracks, and theres basically no surface cohesion (probably the wrong word, but its brittle and doesnt come off in 1 lump)

What this means is that for the figure painter, as long as you leave it to properly cure (its reccomended to wait for at least 6 hours, preferably 24) it gives a much more durable bascoat which should be a bit more resistant to knocks and scrapes - if you drop your mini, your basecoat wont shatter and loosen the paint.

Of course thats only a minor concern if the models arms and legs have flew off... but nothings perfect.

Anyway... to the practicalities.

I've been told that Gesso can be applied direct from the bottle, theres no need to be particularly clean/tidy with it, as it will shrink to the miniature and not obscure the details. I was a little skeptical of this, so I watered it down slightly in a ratio of about 3:1 (gesso:water) and painted it on.

One such article that I've used can be found on the DakkaDakka forums, and is always a good starting point.

I preferred undercoating in black whenever I was painting on primer (it seemed to always cover better when painting on, the white was always blotchy and needed a second coat - plus it has the added benefit of meaning that you dont need to paint the deep recesses and hard to reach places as these were already the darkest they were going to need to be) and saved priming in white for spraying, but since I had a bottle of each I gave each one a go.

The white was very poor at covering the miniature, and due to the 'film like' finish I dont think I would want to try multiple coats of Gesso just incase it obscured details a bit too much. The black covered like a dream, and shruk-wrapped the miniature perfectly, without any loss of detail. In the future, I may well mix the white and black together to try out a grey colour base for any miniatures that need to have a lighter base coat (yellows etc) to see if that works any better.

The image below was taken about an hour after the Gesso was applied - its still drying out so as you can see it still seems a bit too thick, but when it was fully dry the next day, it was perfectly formed onto the miniature.