May 17 2014

How to Photograph Miniatures

Yeah, I know it’s been ages since the last update. Bite me.

Since I last updated, I’ve moved from Germany to Spain and am now in a much smaller apartment with less room for hobby stuff. I do have a painting table set up but I’ve had less motivation to paint without the incentives of plentiful local tournaments and regular games versus friends.

I have some projects in progress however and I’ll post those up as they get done (don’t hold your breath).

Today however I want to talk about photography and how to take better pictures of your miniatures. Most of the photos on this blog (before this post at least) were taken with a relatively low-end point-and-shoot camera, a 6 megapixel Panasonic of approximately 7 years vintage. Hardly a powerhouse of digital photography and yet more than capable of taking decent pictures of little plastic men. This guide should help you whether you are using a DSLR, a compact camera or even a phone. There are basic tips that can improve your photographs irrespective of the gear that you are using.

To start with, let’s look at the three most important things about photography – no matter what the subject is:

  • Lighting
  • Lighting
  • Lighting

Photographs are captured light. The quality of the light coming in to the camera is the single biggest influence on the quality of the final picture. Let’s take a look at how to make the light work for us.

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Apr 12 2012

Grey Knight Dreadnought

I’ve been working on a bunch of different things simultaneously recently which is a terrible way for me to work and practically guarantees that I won’t ever finish anything. This Dreadnought is a thing that I’ve had in various stages of finishedness now for several months and I finally decided to knuckle down and get it done.

So firstly it’s the Forgeworld Grey Knight Dreadnought rather than the vanilla plastic kit from GW. I liked the sculpt better and felt that it fitted the baroque look of the Grey Knights better than the smooth and sleeker Space Marine version. Once it was almost finished I also decided to use it as a testbed for the new range of Citadel paints just to make things more difficult for myself.

I started off by magnetising the pegs that the arms attach to and sinking magnets into the arms themselves. I have a selection of weapon arms but only two are painted so far – a fist and a twin-linked autocannon. I’m resisting the temptation to do what every other GK player does and just stick autocannons on each side as I

think that a close combat weapon is just cooler. Nevertheless, when I finally get around to it (hah!), I have a missile launcher to replace the fist and an assault cannon that can be swapped out for the autocannons. The figure was undercoated white as usual and then I sprayed it Bolt Gun Metal before adding zenithal sprays of Chainmail and Mithril Silver. These didn’t work so well on the larger surfaces of the Dreadnought so I ended up shading it by hand with Charadon Granite. Again, that wasn’t a huge success so the figure sat untouched on the edge of my painting station for a while as I figured out what do do with it. The arm amour was originally red to match the weapon housings of the troopers but, again that didn’t look so good so they got repainted silver.

Eventually I decided to use the figure to test the new Citadel paints and figure out if I could adapt my old techniques to the new paints. The first thing I tried was painting on gradients using the new glazes. I took some Gulliman Blue and painted on a low gradient from the top right of each plate. That worked a whole lot better than I expected so I flattened all the silver on the whole figure and redid everything that way. The engine and leg mechanical parts were done in Charadon Granite to break up the silver of the armour without distracting too much. I added some heraldry on the left shoulder armour and dropped in some details such as targeting lenses, purity seals and so forth. The power claw was also done with the Gulliman Blue. I painted the ‘fingers’ a medium blue and was going to give them the same

high and low-light treatment that I had painted on the Terminator’s power weapons. I decided to use the scheme in the Codex however, repainted them a slightly off white and then painted in ‘freckles’ with Gulliman Blue to give the  impression of coruscating energy. This was again more successful than I had hoped for. Suddenly the figure was done!

Overall I’m impressed with the new paints, I’m testing out different things with them at the moment and I expect that I’ll post an update about them shortly.

You can see more pictures in the Grey Knights Gallery page.

Mar 9 2012

Grey Knight Librarian

Oh my, it’s been a while since I last updated. I’ve actually managed to get a fair bit painted and photographed since my last update so I’ll try and add all that to the blog over the next few weeks.

One of the things that I’ve finished is this Grey Knights Librarian which saw action last weekend at the V-Con 40k tournament. He got shut down by a pair of Space Wolf Rune Priests in my first game, murdered by Chaos Space Marines in my second game when my gamble of teleporting him and the GK Terminators down into the middle of the Chaos lines didn’t pay off and managed to do almost nothing in the last game vs Eldar. Not only did the Runes of Warding make me very cautious about using his powers, his Psychic Hood managed to stop only one out of TWELVE successful Eldar powers during the game.

Despite his less-than-stellar performance at the tournament, he’s generally a very reliable and potent part of my army in friendly games on my table at home and he was a lot of fun to paint as well.











Mine was the first Finecast model I bought and, given the issues that were reported, I was careful to double check it before I took it home. As it happened, the cast was extremely good indeed, some minor mould-lines that cleaned up in no time at all and some bubbles that were so small I didn’t notice them until I was painting the model.

I decided I wanted to try some new techniques on it so I used it as a practice for some earth-sky highlights as well as a way of refining my Grey Knight Metal technique.

To start with then I sprayed it Charadon Granite all over then Chainmail from almost all directions – by keeping the airbrush pointed downwards and by not going completely around the model, I was able to leave some matte shadows. A light zenithal spray of Mithril Silver was the last airbrushed step and it was time to break out the old-fashioned hairy stick.

I glazed the whole model in successive Enchanted Blue, Liche Purple and Dark Angel’s Green glazes and then started to paint in the highlights with Vallejo Ivory. These went not only on the edges and vertices of plates but also across curved surfaces where I figured there would be a strong highlight. This was the ‘sky’ part of the earth-sky highlights. I then went around with thinned down Asurmen Blue to fade down from these to create the earth part. Mostly this worked I think. I didn’t go crazy and limited myself to areas like arms, boots and so forth rather than covering the whole model.












Once that was done, I did the robe from abase of Mordian Blue up to Enchanted Blue and finally Space Wolves Grey before adding in the other detail such as the scroll work, freehand on the books, and so on.


The gold started out as Jade Green and was then painted with a thin coat of Tin Bitz before being highlighted with Vallejo Oro Glorioso.













More pictures of my Grey Knights including some works in progress on this gallery page.

Sep 18 2011

One Knight and a Weekend

I’ve been busy; back in August I was part of Team Wales for the European Team Championships in Montreux. Then there was some work stuff and then I went to the US for a two week holiday. Thus it is that I’ve just got around to reporting on the ETC as well as updating with a new figure that I finished just before heading off on holiday.


The ETC is a hardcore team event where you bring your filthiest list or you go home. I played it back in 2009 with Team Ireland and this year I was invited to play for Team Wales at relatively short notice as they needed to replace a last-minute cancellation.  I thought I was lucky when the Welsh asked me to use a Warriors of Chaos army as it would mean that I could use an army that I already had rather than paint up a new one in a hurry. Unfortunately, the particular niche that my army was intended to fill in the Welsh lineup required a fairly specific build and I ended up having to paint up almost everything I needed anyhow. The only parts of my existing army that I could use were my Sorceror on a Disc, my Chaos Knights, my marauders and my Chosen (which were pulling duty as halberd armed Chaos Warriors in this list). I had to paint up 50 more Marauders, 11 Chaos Warriors with Halberds and a mounted Chaos Lord of Khorne to bring the army up to spec and this was bolstered with a Hellcannon borrowed from one of the other Welsh team members.

Somehow, and with significant assistance from my wife, that lot got painted up in the three weeks or so that I had before the event and I took off to sunny Montreux. That part of Switzerland is a beautiful place and Montreux itself is particularly stunning.  I was staying at a Youth Hostel just down the lake shore from the event hall and my walk to and from the tournament every day was just incredible. The ETC itself is held over two days with three games on each day. Our first game was against the Greek team who were a good tip for the winners’ podium and so we weren’t expecting to take much away from that. Sure enough we got destroyed – my game vs their Dark Elf player ended 16-4 against after a methodical demolition job. The Hellcannon did well to eat a War Hydra in close combat but that was the only real bright spot for me. Next up we played team Norn Iron and I was feeling good about this as every time I’d played them in previous events, I’d won. Sure enough, I blew through their Dwarf player and scored 15 points for the team. Our final opponents for the day were team Netherlands where I got schooled 20-0 by a Vampire Counts player.

After a hard day of wargaming we headed into the town where we quickly realised that Montreux is not for people like us. Unless you are fabulously wealthy your entertainment options are going to be extremely limited. We sat and had horrendously expensive pizza and then sat on the beach drinking spiced rum until the small hours. The whole weekend was blisteringly hot and, as the town is sheltered by the mountains, there is no wind so the air stays warm even at night.

My Chaos Army

The next day we were ready for more punishment and we were drawn against Team Belgium to kick off. I played against a Dwarf army that was practically identical to the one I’d murdered on the previous day except this time everything went wrong for me. Another 20-0 shoeing ensued. After the Belgians we were drawn against Hungary where an Empire army proceeded to pull my army apart and then jump on the bits. Some horrendously bad dice sealed the deal and handed 20 gift-wrapped points to my opponent. I don’t like to blame the dice too much in games because generally losing due to dice means that you are leaning on luck rather than good play to win, however this was about as bad as I’ve ever had and I’m not sure that I could have done things differently. My Sorceror failed 7 leadership tests in a row and fled off the table, 8 out of 10 Chaos Knights failed a strength test and were killed by a Dwellers Below, 34 attacks from halberd-wielding Chaos Warriors of Khorne scored 4 hits and no wounds on the Arch Lector, two hits from a mortar killed an entire unit of Marauders in a single turn. Stuff like that. Finally we were drawn against Team Scotland who ended up beating us narrowly and me handily. By this point there was nothing to play for for either team so we all kicked back and had  a relaxed game. I played another Empire army and, once more found that I had no way to protect myself from his magic and warmachines. Still it was a fun game and we’d hit our team goal of not coming last.

In the end we came 24th out of 28 teams and we were thrilled to win the award for most sporting team. We celebrated with more spiced rum on the beach then I bade farewell to Captain Matt and the rest of the lads and headed back to the hostel. I took a lot of pictures over the weekend; pictures of Montreux can be found here while pictures of armies and miniatures from the ETC itself can be found here.

After my adventure in Switzerland I had a couple of weeks before I was off on a real holiday to the US. In that time I managed to finish painting up an HQ choice for my Grey Knight army. The figure is Castellan Crowe but I will generally be using him as a standard Brotherhood Champion and attaching him to a Razorback squad. Following my experiments with the armour of the Grey Knight Terminators, I decided to try a different tack for Crowe. His armour is heavily shaded and highlighted with Charadon Granite and Vallejo Ivory respectively. Rather than leave the silver areas flat and highlight the edges, I chose to accentuate the curves of the armour plates by painting in the sharp reflections and then contrasting these with deep shadows in a non-metallic metal style – although I was using a metallic colour as a base. This was much more successful than the Terminators were although it was time consuming to achieve. Originally his sword was blue but I painted myself into a corner when I was doing the banner and needed a strong colour that would contrast with the blue field of the banner and so I repainted the sword yellow and repeated this for the chained blade on the banner itself. The runes on the blade were done in blue and a weak object source lighting effect was added by means of a blue glaze. The other detailing was done to match the Terminators except the cloak which was painted a pale yellowish brown to complement the sword and had a triple stripe painted on the hem with some freehand lettering added.

More pictures of Crowe are on the Grey Knights gallery page.

Aug 7 2011

Grey Knights

image021I’ve been pretty busy over the past few months, the game I’m working has passed the feature complete milestone and is about to hit beta so there’s been less time for painting and gaming in general. Despite all that I’ve had a chance to crack on with a few bits and pieces including the start of a new army project. This time I’m doing a 40k army as some of the new guys at work are keen to play with round bases for a change. A string of happy coincidences meant that the discussion about starting 40k happened just before my birthday which fell 2 days after the release of the new Codex: Grey Knights. I’ve never really been a fan of Marines as an army to collect but the new Grey Knights are simply extraordinary. I bought the codex, a bunch of the new kits and then barely had time to paint them, hence it’s taken me until now to get the first elements of the army completed.

The first thing I completed was a squad of Terminators. In previous incarnations of the army, Grey Knight Terminators were the mainstay of the force. This isn’t as true as it once was but Terminators as a troops choice is still an appealing prospect. There are a lot of options in the box and the codex lists a bewildering array of builds for each terminator in a squad. I thought about magnetising them but figured that I was probably going to field them as a mostly vanilla squad so I gave them a mixture of free upgrades and left it at that. The arms were painted separately on some of the figures as the two-handed weapons are held in such a way as to make painting the figure difficult when they are attached.

I wanted to try and experiment with different ways to paint Marines and the method I chose for these wasn’t entirely successful in the end. To start with I airbrushed them all Chainmail, then I sprayed in some Charadon image002Granite/Badab Black into the lowlights. I’m trying to do a similar effect to non-metallic metals but using metallic paint while still keeping the extreme contrasts between highlights and lowlights. Once the lowlights were sprayed into armour joints and the lower facing areas of plate, I started to shade with Mithril Silver and Vallejo Ivory. This part was done with a brush rather than with the airbrush. I hatched Chainmail across the plates to smooth the lowlights a little and then built up the highlights on the upper surfaces before applying a glaze of Enchanted Blue to smooth everything out and to break the harsh silver. Finally I added the extreme highlights in white and ivory.

image025Next up were the Nemesis Force Weapons and I was pretty excited about being able to do these superfast with the airbrush. “Haha!” I thought, “no tedious blending for me!” I masked half of each side of each blade and went to work then repeated the process on the other half. Unfortunately the tape I used lifted the paint off which meant that I had to do so much tidying up with the brush that I ended up practically painting the entire blades by hand anyway. They started off Mordian Blue and then had Ultramarines Blue painted across the flat of the blades before the shimmer patterns were painted in with Ice Blue and Skull White. This is easier than it looks, it’s just time consuming. Very thin paint and very fine strokes in a diagonal hatching pattern are what you need with a few lines outside the main lighting area to provide some relief.

With the blades done it was time to finish off all the detail. The gold was painted with Tausept Ochre before a thin coat of Vallejo’s Oro Glorioso was applied over the top. Then a wash of Brown Ink defined the details before image017the individual letters and other details were then picked out with a Mithril Silver/Oro Glorioso mix. The Stormbolter casings and the pauldron shields were painted with Scab Red and this was highlighted with Tallarn Flesh mixed with a little Blazing Orange. Heraldic patterns were painted on in Skull White and Chaos Black. Someone senior at GW – I seem to remember that it was Alan Merritt but I may be mistaken – once explained to me that red, white and black are ‘good fascist colours which is why they are used so much for the Imperium’. Regardless, they provide a very bold scheme to make detail pop so I reserved their use for heraldry.

The bases are resin Ruins bases from Microart Studios. I bought a bunch of them in all the sizes I’d need for a Space Marines army so I have some at 25mm for power-armoured marines, 40mm for Terminators, 60mm for Dreadnaughts and a couple of 120mm oval bases for a Stormraven and a Dreadknight. As the army has a low model count and every figure is elite, I could justify putting everything on a special base. These were painted Charadon Granite and then drybrushed in Graveyard Earth and Codex Grey.


image006Next up was a Razorback as a way to test vehicle painting with the airbrush. Again, this was sprayed Chainmail and then the Charadon Granite/Badab Black mixture was liberally sprayed into the angles between armour plates. Successive thin coats of Chainmail were then sprayed in blend these lowlights in and I did a few passes with Mithril Silver over the upward facing plates. Then the recesses in the image005tside armour were masked off and Scab Red was sprayed in there as well as on the cowling for the lascannons. The red was highlighted in the same way as for the Terminators’ Stormbolters and then I wen to work with some freehand. I want the Grey Knight vehicles to look baroque and covered in battle-honours so I painted in a chapter symbol on one door along with some gold scrollwork on the red recesses. The gold was shaded by painting thin lines of black and white around it to make it stand out from the red background and I took the oppportunity to abuse my classical education with some cod Latin on the scroll and the side of the lascannon housing (‘Lux ex Umbra’ means Light From the Shadows). One front glacis was painted with heraldry that will eventually match a Strike Squad Justicar  and the other got a numerical designation in accented gold.

image011The lenses  in the cupola were painted in much the same way as for the Nemesis Force Weapons, thin hatching patterns of Ice Blue and Skull White over a Mordian/Ultramarine Blue base.  Some final highlighting on the edges with ivory and the tank was done. I didn’t paint the interior on this one but I may well do for future tanks. I have a half completed Stormraven which has got as far as a detailed interior and a basecoat on the outside so far, any Landraiders will also have detailed interiors for sure.

Overall I’m enjoying painting these more than I expected I would, the figures are gorgeous and by stretching myself with the ‘true-metallic metal’ technique I can learn more about painting through these. I haven’t got the technique down properly yet but I have a few more squads to paint and I’ll keep experimenting with each one.

You can see more photos of the finished Grey Knights as well as some work in progress shots on this gallery page.

Apr 10 2011

Warriors of Chaos Army

image034Today I pretty much finished my Tzeentchian Warriors of Chaos army for Warhammer Fantasy Battles. There are a few things that may get added some time down the road, but there’s nothing that it’s missing. I have two unpainted Spawn along with a handful of Warriors and Knights that are still on their sprues that I could add and at some point I may work on a Warshrine and maybe convert up some Chaos Ogres if I feel the urge but I’m not in any hurry to do so. My next project is beckoning and I want to draw a line under this one so here’s a look at the army I spent most of the last year building up.

Originally this was part of the 8 armies initiative that I was doing along with some friends from work. The idea was that we would all build up WFB armies together and play against each other as well as enter some of the local tournaments as a group. Progress has been spotty for most of the people involved and, while most people have at least a couple of units painted up each, no-one except me actually has a playable army. I’ve ended up with about 3000 points of Chaos Warriors with a strong Tzeentch theme and visual connection so I’m scoring it as a win. Some of the units have been showcased here already – particularly the Chaos Knights and the Army Standard Bearer but most of the army hasn’t been photographed properly until tonight so here is the rest of it as well as some writeups for the more interesting pieces.

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Mar 30 2011

V-Con March 2011

chaos_characters I was at my first WFB tournament for a while last weekend and managed to cover my self in a moderate amount of glory in the process. V-Con is a regular event run by the local games store and comprises Wh40k, WFB and Warmachines/Hordes events along with boardgames, CCGs and a console game room. Turnout is what you’d expect for rural Germany but there are more than enough gamers in the local area to make it worthwhile.

I was competing in the WFB event with my (mostly complete) Warriors of Chaos. Armies are small at 1500 points and the event features some strict composition rules that prohibit most of the nastier elements. No more than two total magic levels are allowed for example along with a blanket ban on named characters and restrictions on flyers and large targets. My army at its core is largely unchanged from previous events. The rundown is as follows:

Sorceror of Tzeentch; Ironcurse Icon, Spell Familiar (General)

Exalted Champion of Tzeentch; Chaos Steed, Blasted Standard (Army Standard Bearer)

5x Knights of Tzeentch; Full command, Banner of Rage

19x Warriors of Tzeentch; Full command, shields, War Banner

10x Chosen of Tzeentch; Full command, halberds, Lichebone Pennant, Favour of the Gods

30x Marauders; Full command, flails

The tactics are fairly straightforwards with this force, the Sorceror goes in the Warriors unit for some protection and to bolster the line with his close ranged magic, any of the infantry units acts as an anvil while the Knights are a hammer.  The Knights are a very strong unit even at higher points values and I expected them to be devastating in a game of this size.

First up was a Dwarf army. Mostly it was based around large combat blocks led by a king borne on a shield and bodyguarded by Hammerers. Two smallish Quarreller units, a couple of bolt-throwers and a Grudge Thrower were his only shooting units. He moved forwards, I moved forwards and managed to avoid his big block of hammerers for long enough to smash through his lines. By the time he’d dwarfsbrought the Dwarf King and his bodyguard around to bear, I’d demolished all of his support and was able to charge him from all sides with everything in my army at once. Not even Stubborn, elite Dwarves led by their king can handle that kind of punishment and the game was a massacre. I’d lost my Battle Standard Bearer to a challenge but my army was otherwise fully intact.

daemonsNext in line was a tide of Chaos Daemons. This featured a horde sized unit of Bloodletters, supported by Flamers, a Herald of Tzeentch on a disc, a single Bloodcrusher and all led by a Daemon Prince. he set up with these last two holding a flank by themselves while the Bloodletters held the centre and everything else skipped forwards to take targets of opportunity. I wasn’t sure how to take the two big guys on, especially after they demolished my Marauder block but then they carried on through into the Chaos Warriors and were summarily dispatched on the first round of combat much to my relief. Meanwhile my Sorceror had almost single handedly destroyed the Flamers with repeated applications of his Flickering Fire of Tzeentch spell and theChaos Knights had charged down the Herald of Tzeentch who’d been caught out in the open. This didn’t go exactly as planned due to my Exalted Champion’s sudden inability to roll dice but after a coupel of rounds the inevitable occurred and the Daemon was sent howling back to the Warp. All this time I had been (pleasantly) surprised by my opponent’s reluctance to commit his Bloodletter block. He’d danced around some difficult terrain in the centre of the board and was perfectly content to let me come to him. On my last turn I’d destroyed everything else in his army and was in position for a combined charge but decided that I’d already won and that charging in would only give him the opportunity to score some late victory points while it would be impossible for me to improve my situation. Thus I ended my turn as soon as it started and took a convincing win.

helvesFinally I played against a very nice High Elf army. The lady who it belonged to ended up taking home the best painted army prize after a judging call between her army and mine. Her force consisted of a noble on a Griffon, a large block of Swordmasters, a block of White lions, two units of archers and a repeater bolt-thrower. I wasn’t really sure how to deal with the Swordmasters and, frustratingly, I hadn’t rolled any useful spells for dealing with them. I love to cast Treason of Tzeentch on great-weapon wielding Elves but I didn’t have anything that was likely to help me in this game. Luckily for me, she hadn’t rolled any good spells for her mage either so things evened out for me. The odds got better when she wiped out her own unit of Swordmasters in a calamitous series of miscasts over three turns. The first one wiped out half the unit and they panicked only to rally right on the table edge, The next turn saw another miscast and the mage took a wound and then finally a third miscast on turn three killed the mage and triggered another panicked flight, this time off the table. Having neutralised her own most dangerous unit for me, she had precious little with which to stand against the heavily armoured horde crashing down upon her and a resounding victory resulted from the mopping up operation.

By the time the victory points for all three games had been tallied I’d managed to pull out a clear lead and won the Best General award which handily will be most of the price of the Codex: Grey Knights that I have on order.

An entirely rewarding day out with good opponents and fun games, see the full gallery of pictures from the event on this page.

Jan 14 2011

Gorkamorka interview

The nice folks at The Unnamed Gorkamorka Site recently pinged me out of the blue to ask some questions about my time working at the GW Studio on Gorkamorka. I was happy to oblige as far as I could given the fifteen years that have passed and my extremely fallible memory.

The game was a lot of fun to work on and answering the questions brought back some great memories. I strongly believe that, while 2nd Ed 40k had a lot of flaws, Gorkamorka was the most fun and the most fluid version of those rules. Also being a skirmish game it avoided many of the systemic pitfalls that caused problems in WH40k. I always felt that 2nd Ed WH40K had too much focus on individual models and that strong characters were the main elements of an army rather than units of guys. In Gorkamorka, the much smaller scale works well with that dynamic.

I’d still like to see a more detailed skirmish system using the later 40k framework though. Maybe I’ll write one myself.

Jan 4 2011

Skaven Doomwheel

p1020193The newly minted Warhammer players who started their first armies in the middle of last year have been regulars at my painting table, drybrushing skeletons, washing Clanrats and agonising over exactly the right shade of turquoise for Dark Elves. Back in November it was Jan-Eric’s birthday and boxes of Skaven were well-represented amongst his haul of presents. I bought him a Doomwheel and also gave him a painting voucher, I offered to paint any one Skaven figure for his army. He didn’t have to think about it for too long before simply handing the Doomwheel back with instructions to do what I could with it. So, this is another centrepiece figure in a long line of things I’ve painted for somebody else.

Firstly I started by figuring out how I was going to tackle it. The Doomwheel is a very complex kit which is practically impossible to paint once assembled. I don’t particularly like painting parts separately though so I p1020079tried to work out what the smallest number of lumps I could make it into was to simplify the painting process. It turned out that this number was twelve. The central frame was the largest piece with the driver installed, and the rest were mostly single components or very small assemblies. Everything was then undercoated white and I got stuck in!

Firstly I painted all the metal parts with Chainmail, all the wood with Scorched Brown and the outside frame was painted Mechrite Red for now. I then painted Dwarf Bronze over some of the parts that I wanted to be bronze or copper. Golds and bronzes don’t cover well so I find that it’s best to paint a basecoat of silver on first then to paint the bronze or gold colour on top of that. I put some base colours onto the driver and the crewman to see what worked and settled on a fairly plain red, grey and green scheme for them both apart from the driver’s leather armour which was painted with Graveyard Earth.

p1020163My view of the Skaven is that they aren’t particularly concerned with keeping their stuff in pristine condition, nor so they worry too much about tetanus so the next step was to dirty up the metal. First I washed it all with Devlan Mud mixed with a little Badab Black to patinate it and give it an overall grimy look before highlighting it up again. Next I applied layered glazes of Snot Green and Gryphonne Sepia to all the bronze  areas, in total I applied four of these glazes alternating between the two colours to get a nice deep colour. Finally I highlighted with a touch of Shining Gold mixed with Chainmail. The silver metal was given a single glaze of Snot Green and then two coats of Ogryn Flesh before being rehighlighted with Chainmail. Finally I attacked it with Blazing Orange to create rust spots. For this step I simply dabbed it on erratically with the point of a brush to create randomly shaped blobs along the centre of the metal areas. This was then shaded where necessary with Devlan Mud painted into corners and crevices. Blazing Orange looks far too bright on the palette but it is pretty much the exact shade that actual rust goes when applied to dark metal.

p1020086Next up I decided to tackle the various bits of Warpstone and for this I figured I’d try my hand at some object source lighting effects. Essentially this is where you paint on the reflected light from a point source to provide the illusion that it is actually emitting light. Firstly I painted the Warpstone chunks themselves, these were straightforward Goblin Green with Sunburst Yellow and Skull White highlights along the vertices. Then I got to work on the reflected light. Shining a coloured light onto something changes the colour of that thing to a combination of the two colours (the colour of the light and the colour of the object that it’s shining upon). This works exactly like mixing paints – which is handy for figure painters! There are curved bars around the four smaller pieces of Warpstone, two onp1020190 the front and one on each side bar. The inside surface of each of these was overbrushed with Goblin Green and then highlighted up to pure Sunburst Yellow. I also used the lighter shades of these highlights to highlight up the inside of the central framework where the big chunk in front of the driver would reflect onto and around the open slats in the boiler thing that the driver is connected to. This makes it look as though there is greenish light seeping from whatever hellish machinery lives inside there. If I’d been clever, I’d have foreseen that I would be doing this and would have extended the effect to the inside surfaces of the wheels as well but I’d already stuck the wheels on by this time and it was too difficult to get a brush in there reliably thanks to all the spikes. Never mind.

The wood was washed with Devlan Mud and Gryphonne Sepia before being drybrushed with Graveyard Earth and Codex Grey. In the photos it comes out a little pinkish but in reality it’s a much darker and grubbier brown. The red metal was also dirtied up with layered glazes and washes before having bits of Chainmail applied to it to represent peeling and chipped paint. I tried to imagine where Skaven crewmen might have worn down the paint and gave those areas an extra highlight of Mithril Silver to represent the shininess of constant use. The rest of the exposed metal was carefully glazed with a Badab Black/Gryphonne Sepia mix.

Finally I assembled the rest of the pieces, painted and flocked the base and presented it to its new owner – who was very pleased with it. I am also happy with the way it turned out although I am kicking myself for not being able to finish the object source lighting properly.  It’s a fine tabletop piece and I’m sure that Jan-Eric will get a lot of use from it.

You can see all of the pictures associated with this project on this gallery page.

Nov 21 2010

V-Con 12

When our merry band of shiny and new wargamers began our new armies, the eventual goal was that we’d each have a force ready to take to the V-Con tournament here in sunny Villingen. As it happened the various members of the group were hit by work deadlines, moving into new apartments, long visits by relatives and other sundry distractions. So, when the tournament rolled around this morning only myself and Mario actually turned up with our armies – and a good portion of Mario’s figures were assembled in some haste over the preceding week. Most of the others don’t yet have a viable list but I have a feeling that this will change soon as they’ve now tasted blood and are keen to dive in.

I took the Chaos Warriors that have been slowly taking shape over the summer and Mario took his new Tomb Kings. Originally the plan was that he’d come over to my place yesterday and we’d have a few tutorial games to get him up to speed with the rules as he’d never played WFB before, what actually happened was that he had to do some work-stuff at very short notice so he sat at my table working on his spreadsheet while we discussed the more theoretical side of the game and I bashed out a few speed painted Chaos Warriors to bring my list up to size. This meant that the games at the tournament today were his first ever. “Don’t be a wuss” I said over his concerns that he might not be ready, “You’ll figure it out, it’s not rocket surgery.”

There was a Warmachines event happening simultaneously with the WFB tournament in the same hall so there were only ten players which is about half as many as usually show up. Mario met his first opponent, a Bretonnian player while I was matched with an Empire opponent. My general was a level 2 sorceror on a disk who didn’t manage to do much of anything during the game due to having only one useful spell (Gateway) which was always shut down by the pile of dispel dice that my opponent was able to muster. As soon as he died I realised I’d bought him a Spell Familiar so he should have had a bit more utility. I also realised about this time that I had paid for a Chaos Spawn but I’d forgotten to pack one in my case so I was down a bunch of points. These things collectively displeased me. Despite my forgetfulness and the loss of my general to a wildly optimistic round of shooting from some Pistoliers I easily won the game mostly thanks to the Chaos Knights and their superhuman ability to kill things. Wandering across to check on Mario, I was heartened to find that he’d won his game too so Team Acony was off to a great start.

Next up for me was a High Elf army and Mario faced off against a Skaven horde. This one started badly for me and went downhill fast. My Chaos Knights smashed into a mid-sized unit of White Lions and got butchered due to some terrible dice rolling for armour saves. Only the army standard bearer survived and I just managed to keep him alive long enough to finish off the last survivor from a unit of Dragon Princes who had previously been on the wrong end of an Infernal Gateway. My hero popped the last Prince then fled and died. Without my Knights, I was very much on the back foot but the Warriors managed to pull things back a little. It wasn’t enough though and the game ended with a convincing Elven victory. Across the hall, Mario had been tabled in short order but had learned from the experience.

For the final game, I drew a Skaven list (a different opponent to the one who’d demolished Mario) and Mario was matched up with a Dwarf army. My game was very back and forth with many points that could have swung a decisive victory for either side. Highlights for me were Gatewaying the Plague Furnace off the table in my first turn and having my Marauder Cavalry survive the battle after actually managing to kill things. Low points were having a Skaven unit break my Marauders and clip the General as they pursued, the next turn the Marauders rallied, the general lost combat but didn’t die and the pursuing rats hit the Marauders again who they broke again and pursued into the general who was already fleeing and thus had to flee again – right off the table. Sigh.

In the end though I’d killed almost everything on the Skaven side and had managed to preserve most of my expensive units (characters aside) so pulled out a win. Mario hadn’t been so fortunate however, he’d found out the hard way that the only army that can beat Skeletons in a long-drawn out meatgrinder are Dwarfs and at the end of his game there were still a large number of stunties standing up while none of the Khemrian forces remained on the table.

Out of the ten players who took part, I came third and Mario placed eighth. Both of us tied for most sporting player and I won the best painted army (by dint of being the only player at the event with a fully painted force no doubt). A good time was had and those of the group who didn’t take part still turned up to watch and cheer Mario and I on so even though they didn’t play, they still got a little stoked for action over the winter.