Wednesday, 11 July 2012

All fantasy should have a solid base in reality

I think I've mentioned it to anyone that ever brings the topic up that I've never based my figures. I used to settle for either painting the top of the metal stand to match the plastic base or to just paint it all grey. I always thought flock and sand looked terrible so I never used them and static grass was hard to come by back in the old days. 

Now that I'm trying to finish off my Imperial Guard army once and for all I thought I'd better start learning how. I've done a few urban bases for my infantry but they were nothing more than cutting a few lines into the base and painting them as slabs. The heavy weapons models are another challenge all together though.

I wanted to have them on the larger bases but for ease of wound recording I also wanted the 'loader' removable. Now I didn't have enough green stuff or milliput lying around so I thought I'd give the things lying around my house a try first. The worst that could happen is that I ruined a replaceable base  so it was worth a shot. I thought clay would be a bit too heavy and with it shrinking and needing fired I thought it best to go with the huge bag of plaster I had for repairing our walls.

Using a butter knife i layered on enough to bring the 'road' to the same height as the small base the loader was going to be on. I then cut a piece of sprue to length, cut out a drain, and placed it on the base before adding another layer of plaster to be the pavement. I then placed the small base and dug out the unneeded plaster underneath it. After the plaster started to dry I shaped the pavement using my GW modelling tool so that it looked like paving slabs.

I graveled it up leaving a space beside the kerb because, well because that's how the roads are round my way.

It was primed with Eshin Grey

I gave it another coat of Eshin Grey and then gave it a thinned down wash of GW black ink wixed with a little Agrax Earthshade.

I then drybrushed the base with Eshin Grey again, Codex Grey and Fortress Grey. I gave the paving stones and kerb a bit more paint than the road and gave it a final light brush of Skull White.

With my army just about matching this base colour I needed something to brighten it up a little. Some road markings might work so I threw some yellow paint in a line.

It doesn't look like much but not only am I hugely impressed with how it came out it looks great once you get the figures on it. Please ignore the mould lines on the Heavy Bolter though... I could have sworn I fixed that before it was painted!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Bringing In A New Generation

When I first met my step-son he was four years old. Within a week of meeting him i had left my bags and boxes containing my Dark Angels at his house overnight and from that point onwards he has been constantly nagging me to let him play a game. 

The setup
He's eleven years old now and his six year old younger brother wanted in on the game as well so I figured why not let them get a go. Their mum was out at a wedding this evening so we got their sisters into bed early and brought a table through to the living room and we got everything set up.

Aside from a post-it note river, road and bridge all the scenery we had consisted of boxes and small plaster barrels that I made into makeshift cover years ago. In fact almost every scenery item I owned was binned five years ago when I moved house. My gaming board and anything that wouldn't fit into a sweet tin was left behind as we had no room in the new house for it. 
Can you tell he loved it?
Tonights game was to give them a taste. It was going to be a three turn game with the boys sharing 42 Space Marines and two Predators whilst I had 40 Imperial Guard and a Leman Russ. The idea being they had to take the bridge by turn three and points were given for models removed and for holding the bridge.

I started off wasting the marines with my lasguns which really didn't seem right so I started fluffing the dice rolls at that point and missing out a few rules in order to speed the game up. By turn three I was holding the bridge despite an deluge of bolter fire and with the last shot of the game they killed my last remaining storm trooper which was on the bridge robbing me of my ten points for completing the objective. I then found out I lost 20-11. That last shot literally won the game for the boys!

The end game
I actually thought they seemed a little bored by it all but afterwards the eldest kept saying how he loved it and made me sign his daily journal entry to prove that he beat me. The youngest says it was the best game of his life and wants a rerun tomorrow afternoon. I guess I'll be playing a lot more games now they're interested!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Painting White - The Trials and Tribulations

This blog isn't about showing off. It's about recording what I do, how I do it and how i can improve as well as everything else. With that in mind I thought I'd share my troubles with painting white armour.

Failed bone white 2nd from the left
With having started a Dark Angels army long before they decided to start changing the colours on me I was sort of pushed into painting part of my army white. Eventually I got fed up trying to paint bone white and decided that if I could get to keep some of my troops black then my first company troops would be WHITE white rather than a colour that no one seemed to be able to replicate at the time. I still never managed to get it to a standard that I was happy painting my army to however.

Over the years I've tried everything from painting it white with a wash of chestnut ink, painting it white with a wash of black ink, painting it black and then painting the white over it and finally painting it white and washing the recesses with a dark wash and then repainting it white from there. So far the later one is winning.

Left : First ever attempt at white armour  Right : Latest attempt at white armour
The latest attempts have came about because I found a handy walk-through on From the Warp for painting White Scars armour. Unfortunately I don't have any of the Secret Weapon paints and washes so I had to improvise. I managed to get a little matt medium from the art shop next to our old shop and mixed up a wash that wasn't black but seemed to replicate the colour from the tutorial. It wasn't the same exactly but it was something to work with.

By this point I'd ran out of mk7 marines to test it on and the old mk6 models just don't have the detail to make it work properly I don't think so I moved over to Tau at this point. The detail is slightly finer but the theory should be the same. I tried it with the home made wash and it just didn't look right. I was either accidentally painting over the recesses and struggling to 'repair' them or it just wasn't dark enough to make it look like shading. A lot of that has to do with the Tau armour shape though I think.

I eventually managed to paint the one above but for that it was primed with white and them a couple more layers of thin skull white on the armour and abbadon black on the undersuit. The recesses where then washed with a thinned down black ink and the white built back up. The black was give a quick highlight with grey and washed again in watered down black ink to blend it a little. I was forever fixing recesses that had been painted white though. I was very tempted just to get a technical pen out and line it once I was finished to fix the mistakes but as it turns out the pens I have are too thick for the detail on this model.

With a calm, neat hand and lots of patience I can see this working for Tau but I think on Space Marines the white paint is just going to end up looking thick and lumpy due to the size of the model. I don't want to even start thinking how many layers of paint there are on there! I should also say that this way isn't even shading. It's effectively just lining the joints which isn't really the effect I'm going for.

I think what i need to do is source some Secret Weapon washes and give that a try.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Paint Stripping with Dettol

Through out the years I've tried many ways to strip the paint from figures and I always end up going back to Dettol. I've yet to see it damage plastic figures and the metal ones come out all shiny.

If you want to know more about what it actually does then head over to the 40k forums and read this thread. Basically the para-chloro-meta-xylenol, pine oil and soap work together and after a few hours of soaking it's ready to be cleaned off.

For this latest round of stripping I'd decided to get some terminators, marines and an eldar cleaned up to give me something else other than the ork to break the monotony of the IG painting.

Both the Terminator Captain and the Ultramarine Captain pretending to be a Dark Angel were never finished so barely have more than a couple of layers of paint on them. The marine at the back not only had the current layer of paint but he also had a layer of matt varnish and the original black Dark Angels paint under it. The Dark Reaper in the middle just had the normal paint layers with a thin layer of matt varnish. The mystery though was with the Grey Knight terminator. I was given it many years ago by a friend and despite there being only a couple of thin layers of paint he reckons he went a little over board with the varnish.

Using an old cleaned out sauce jar I poured enough Dettol in to just cover the models. If your careful and use a coffee filter to get rid of paint flecks you can usually reuse the Dettol a few times so don't worry if you think you are using too much. Using neat Dettol can be a little dodgy so use rubber gloves and some form of eye protection. Far better to be safe than sorry.

After four hours I lifted the models out to give them an initial scrub with an old toothbrush to get the largest bits of paint off. Usually when you do things like this your told to wash them in hot soapy water but as Dettol is a detergent you can just use that instead! 

Before Scrubbing

After Scrubbing
Use the toothbrush and give it a good scrub. In most cases you'll get almost all the paint off and any wee bits left can be taken off using a cocktail stick. I used a pin as all the figures I stripped were metal and I wouldn't scratch them and also because I was completely out of cocktail sticks. If your lucky then you'll have managed to get all the paint off and all you have to do is rinse them off and leave them out to dry. Those with varnish on them though had to go back in for a few more hours. It actually took eight hours to get the Grey Knight stripped!

With all the scrubbing going on the arms and backpacks fell off but it wasn't the Dettol that caused it. In fact I'm surprised the glue had kept them on this long as it was at least 15 years since they were last glued together!

Now all I need to do is reassemble them and get them primed ready for painting. I think I'll try something a little different from Dark Angels this time though. I also need to work out how to stop my hands from smelling of pine resin...

Saturday, 2 June 2012

A Change Of Pace

For the last ten years my entire painting schedule revolved around Imperial Guard and Dark Angels. It was the same thing over and over again as I tried to get my rank and file troops painted. I didn't even stray from those just to break the monotony. It was hell. In fact it was that bad that it was one of the reasons I put down my paintbrush six years ago and didn't pick it back up until very recently. I swore it would be different this time though.

After painting the start of my latest Imperial Guard army I started to get jaded around about the 14th or 15th model so I started looking for something different to paint. As I've lost a lot of my figures during house moves I could actually only find one non-IG/SM figure. I'd completely forgotten about the Tau and kroot I've got sitting waiting to be painted but I'd found an unpainted Space Ork that actually had arms. I'd found a few old armless madboyz but I don't have any spare ork arms anywhere.

It's been about twenty years since I last painted ork skin so please bare with me on this one. Primed with Chaos Black and then the skin was base coated with Dark Angel Green. It was then highlighted with Snot Green and Goblin Green. It was then given a good wash of Agrax Earthshade. I went back over the highlights with Snot Green and Goblin Green to lighten it back up before giving it another wash of Agrax Earthshade but this time 50/50 between shade and water.

The trousers were based with Eshin Grey and highlighted with Codex Grey and Fortress Grey before a 50/50 wash of Agrax Earthshade. Further highlights of Codex and Fortress Grey were added. Eyes and nails were picked out with Blood Red and again washed with Agrax with another 'highlight' of Blood Red afterwards. The oil rag was treated the same but a little Sunburst Yellow was added to the red for a final highlight. Oil splodges were added with black ink. The leather and fur were painted with Snakebite Leather and highlighted with Desert Yellow with a wash of Agrax.

I've never been able to get metal just right so I basically threw some paint on to see how it looked. It was either based with Boltgun Metal, washed with black ink and the drybrushed with Boltgun Metal or the same was done using Tin Bitz with a light highlight of Shining gold after the drybrushing. That will need redone. At least on the backpack metals. I'd like to get some tattoos or woad on there and can't think where to put the clan symbols without running the risk of ruining the model.

I'll revisit this once I've worked out the finishing touches.

Games Workshop Goes Digital

Coming from an RPG background I've seen people scream for a product like this for years. In all honesty I'm surprised it's taken Games Workshop this long to publish like this.

copyright Games Workshop

As of yesterday you are able to download electronic copies of several books. The only problem being that you have to have an iPad with the iBooks app. That rules me out then. The June releases so far will include.

- Codex: Space Marines. Expanded, fully interactive and now totalling a staggering 324 pages. Comes with searchable glossaries, 360ยบ miniatures galleries, and fully up-to-date rules including all the Space Marine weapons and wargear, such as the new Stormtalon Gunship.

- How to Paint Citadel Miniatures - Ultramarines. An in-depth painting guide from the Design Studio's professional army painters.

- Battlefield Challenge - Deathknell Watch. An exciting Warhammer scenario based around the eldritch Deathknell Watch tower. Accompanied by a comprehensive painting guide by the Design Studio's professional painters.

- Scrolls of Binding. Full rules for use in your Warhammer Storm of Magic battles. This month we present them for the Jabberslythe, Thundertusk, Stonehorn and Mournfang packs, as well as exclusive Scrolls of Binding for Terradons and the Great Cave Squig.

I can see the appeal. I honestly can. You go from carrying several tons of books around to games with you to only having your iPad. I just can't get over it being more than a novelty though. I've tried playing games using pdf's before and you just can't keep up with people with hardcopies. You can't access bookmarks or flick back and forth between sections of the book with a tablet as quickly as you could with the real thing in your hands. Besides until the 6th edition rules come out for the iPad I don't think many people are going to understand that drawback...

The New 40K Flyers

Everybody is buying them!

Copyright Games Workshop
The Orc Bomber, the Space Marine Storm Talon and the Necron Doom Scythe are all released today.

Copyright Games Workshop
I'm not sure about the Storm Talon. Game-wise I'm led to believe you don't get that much bang for your buck and design-wise I've never been happy with the Space Marine flyers and skimmers ever since they redesigned the Land Speeder the first time around. In fact I'd go as far as to say I really don't like the design of any of the flyers. Everything is too squished and chunky.

I am loving the new Ork flyers though.
Copyright Games Workshop
The fact they look like proper planes has me wanting to buy them just to build and paint them. They have everything they could possibly have that shouts 'Ork!' without kitting them out with huge pointy toothed lower jaws or adding powerfists to the wingtips.

The simplicity of the Doom Scythe really appeals to me as a painter. It also terrifies my as a painter but thats another issue completely. As with a lot of things 40k it's really easy to see where their influences came from with this one. It would be hard not to notice the resemblance to a Cylon Raider from the reboot of Battlestar Galactica.

Copyright Games Workshop

From The Warp has a great post about painting and assembling the new flyers so head over there and check it out if you already have one of the new flyers.