Friday, August 31, 2012

So much for equilibrium

With the release of the new 40K boxed set, as well as picking up an extra set of the bikes from a friend, my total number of new miniatures obtained this year has now skyrocketed to a level that painting an equivalent number of figures is all but impossible.

Prior to these purchases, with a pile of 15mm WWII Germans and a dozen Steampunk Arachnids to paint, reaching equilibrium was still an attainable goal.  And though I had been certain of my ability to resist yet another 40K starter set, once I saw how spectacular the models looked my resolve wavered.  When I became nostalgic of my very first 40K army, Dark Angels, and the only 40K army I ever completely painted, Ravenwing, I was completely lost.

Of course I'm still committed to the painting queue listed to the right, so these figures are likely to sit around untouched until after the first of the year.  But nostalgia, limited edition, and a seeming great deal is the perfect recipe for prompting irrational purchases.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

4th Quarter Painting Plans

With GenCon behind me, a boatload of new miniatures in my collection, and a slew of projects about my head, I've decided it's time to sack up for this last quarter (really a quarter plus one month) and try to dramatically raise that painted tally.  While it's exceedingly unlikely that I'll be able to balance out my "purchased" and "painted" totals, I sure as heck intend to get as close as possible.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Finished Misaki from Malifaux

GenCon Loot

A small picture dump from GenCon will follow shortly, but I wanted to first toss up a quick picture of the haul from this year's convention.  Whereas I anticipated this to be a relatively light purchase year, especially given all of the models that Wyrd ultimately wasn't going to have with them, I kept running across items that I had forgotten or didn't know had been released.  As this happened in dribs and drabs throughout my four days there I was somewhat shocked when I pulled it all together upon returning home!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Quick Update

I've been a bit out the loop over the last month due to the arrival of my first bouncing bundle of joy.  While struggling to find time to sleep I was completely unsuccessful in finding time at the painting desk.  She's starting to settle into something that remotely resembles a schedule though, so I hope to pick up the paint brushes again shortly.  It won't be a moment too soon either, as GenCon, and my annual attempt to get something painted for the painting competition, will quickly be upon us.  Given my success in the Wyrd manufacturer competition last year, I feel I'm even more compelled to finish something in time this year, and try to defend my title.

Monday, April 02, 2012

March '12 Review

As I suspected in my last post, my run at this year's Iron Painter competition has come to an end, being defeated by a rather nice entry.  While I tend to mope for a bit after a painting competition loss, I've rebounded pretty quickly and am eager to sit down with the paint brush.  I suppose being somewhat productive has this effect, as instead of my competition figure being the only model I paint in a year (which has often been the case over the last while), I know that I've got another project in the queue to which to turn my attention.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Iron Painter 8 Round 2 Entry

Between a generally hectic few weeks and spending what little time I had to paint on my round 2 entry for Iron Painter, I've had little to show on the blog.  But I at least managed to get my entry done in plenty of time, and present it here.  Looking at my competition it's unlikely I'll be making it to round 3, so my painting schedule should be wide open for a bit.  I'll next be diving back into the Malifaux Ramos crew, with a Steamborg Executioner and the man himself in the queue.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Iron Painter 8 Round 1 Entry

With plenty of time to spare I just uploaded my round 1 entry to they Wyrd Miniatures' Iron Painter 8 competition - repeated here to show what I was up to over the last week or so.  I'm not sure how long judging takes, especially given the large number of people who originally entered, but hopefully I'll be making it on to round two!

Saturday, March 03, 2012

February '12 Review

Pretty much as I suspected, my February painting plans were more than a bit optimistic.  Instead of the one Mordheim figure and thirteen figure Malifaux crew I hoped to complete, I finished only the high elf and two of Ramos' constructs - the Brass Arachnid and the Soulstone Miner.  For March, I've assembled the painting queue to the right, which I hope will be a bit more reasonable.

Monday, February 27, 2012

What a piece of junk!

Tonight I step away from the Ramos crew for a moment to show progress on another project. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I threw my hat into the ring for Wyrd Minature's "Iron Painter" online painting competition. I've always admired this event as a spectator, as many of the entries are rather good, so decided that I would capitalize on my new found painting momentum and see how many rounds I can make it through. Because of the huge number of entrants, the first elimination round sees the contestants placed in three-way competitions, rather than just one-on-one, raising the challenge even more.

The theme for this first round is "Start Your Engines." While wanting to net some theme points, yet not wanting to interpret the theme too literally, I opted to put together a vignette with a severely rusted out piece of machinery as the focus. With a pile of old Mongoose Games' M9 Chickenhawk Marauders suits for the now defunct Starship Troopers miniatures game that I picked up for $2 a piece at GenCon a few years ago, I decided that one of these walkers would be the perfect centerpiece. The casts for these models were a bit rough with some awfully shallow detail in places and the weaponry and equipment pieces were rather toy-like. So raiding my bits boxes I managed to find enough "gribblies" to fill the blank spots and holes where I left off pieces of the original kit.

With the decision made to attempt to create a rusted out derelict of a machine, I opted to try out a technique for creating a convincing weathered effect that I'd read a fair bit about on a number of blogs - salt weathering. For those unfamiliar with this technique, it involves putting down a base color that you want to show through (rust in my case), adhering salt crystals to the base coat with either water or hairspray, spraying on the top coat that is to appear weathered, and then brushing off the salt and thereby pulling away the top coat. So, for stage one, I've laid down a solid rust brown coat using a Tamiya spray can.

Wanting to add some variety to the appearance of my rust, as metal never rusts uniformly in reality, I next stippled on a orangey-brown over most of the piece. Ultimately this proved not to be enough of a contrast, instead just blending in with the brown, and it was effectively unnoticeable in the later stages.
Next I gave the piece a healthy dose of hairspray (an unscented, cheap brand) and sprinkled the salt on top of it, before hitting it with a coat of gloss yellow. It is this stage that I'm going to have to experiment with in the future as it's the key to getting the best results for this technique. If your hairspray isn't tacky enough, the salt crystals will just fall off. If the salt crystals are too large, they'll just fall off. However, if the hairspray is applied too heavily, and your salt crystals are too fine, they'll form a nearly impenetrable crust that you can't brush off later without taking the model all the way to the bare plastic.

Finally I take the model under a drizzle of cool water and attack it with a tooth brush, scrubbing hard enough to pull up the stubbornly stuck crystals, yet light enough to hopefully not pull all of the paint off. It's hard to see here, but I did just that in a few places, bringing the model all the way down to it's bare grey plastic.

After doing the above steps on both legs and the hull of the walker, I assembled the pieces, resulting in the product you see at the top of the post as well as below, from another angle.  The next stages will be to pick out some of the lights in a gem effect as well as add some shading to distinguish the panel lines and various gribblies.  To make this model even more of a learning experience, I'll also be trying out weathering powders in various rust, dirt, and iron hues to really take this guy downhill.  Of course I've still got the base and the other figures that will form the vignette to get done, and all by Sunday.  Let's hope I still paint my best when under pressure!

Soulstone Miner

While getting my Iron Painter entry moving along, I also managed to knock out the next member of the Ramos crew for Malifaux. This is the Soulstone Miner, a handy addition to any of those soulstone-hungry Arcanist crews out there.

While a pretty simple sculpt that went together quickly, some slight miscasting left a few of the many rivet holes on the body of the model either partially filled or non-existent. Armed with my trusty pin vice drill, I re-drilled any of the miscast holes, and then used the same bit on all of the rest of the holes to ensure they were of a standard size. Though tedious and probably overly anal-retentive, I like to think it was worth it.

The paint job was pretty quick using most of the same techniques as with the Brass Arachnid - basecoat of Vallejo "Tinny Tin," washes of Devlan Mud and Badab Black, highlights of Vallejo "Brassy Brass" and Reaper "Honed Steel," and a final spot wash with Secret Weapon "Storm Cloud" to add that patina effect. The eventual owner of these figures expressed his satisfaction with the results on the Brass Arachnid, so I felt there was little reason to change up the method here. Plus, I figure that Ramos is far more a function over form kind of guy, so a utilitarian appearance is probably totally appropriate.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Start your (steam) engines!

With only eight days left in the month, it's starting to look like my plan to finish my buddy's entire Ramos force in the month of February might have been a bit ambitious.  While I have three other figures in varying stages of painting at the moment, the Brass Arachnid here is only my first completed figure of the set.

In painting this guy I got to experiment with a number of colors and techniques I've never used before.  First, this is probably the first model on which the metallics used were not only silver or gold.  The brassy color was a neat experiment, the results of which I'm fairly happy with, and I can't say enough nice things about the Vallejo Game Color "Tinny Tin" that was used as a basecoat.

Attempting a verdigris, or patina, effect on the brass, I also for the first time experimented with using a shading color that contrasted with the main color.  Shading, particularly with washes, has always been in an attempt to build a natural darkening to the base tones, but never to create any other type of effect.  This is something that I'm going to have to play with quite a bit more (and fortunately there's enough brassy automatons in this Ramos force to allow for that), but I really like this first attempt.  For those interested, this was accomplished with the rather excellent Secret Weapon Minatures "Storm Cloud" wash.

In other news, and to further complicate my attempt to get Ramos and his machines finished in a timely manner, I've involved myself in the 8th season of the Wyrd Miniatures-hosted "Iron Painter" contest.  Given that I realized I simply couldn't commit to the level of effort necessary to compete in the Lead Painters League right now, the Iron Painter seemed like a reasonable alternative.  First, it's sponsored by a company of which I've become a great fan (though entries are by no means restricted to Wyrd figures).  Second, the contest requires that you have only one entry per round, with each round taking two weeks.  That's far more manageable in my current schedule than the five figures every week for the LPL.  Also, given that there is no attempt made to hide the identities of the entrants, I also won't be foreclosed from posting pictures of my entries here.

While I believe I have an idea for my first round entry, the theme of which is "Start Your Engines," I have a bit more to think on that.  But expect more regarding Iron Painter soon and my next Ramos warband entry, an Electrical Creation, within the next few days.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Super service from Secret Weapon

After seeing a post on Dave Taylor's blog about using a wash from Secret Weapon Miniatures to quickly and simply approximate a bronze patina effect, I and a buddy of mine put in an order for a number of their washes.  I've ordered from Justin before and was pleased with the speed of their service.  This time was no different.

Unfortunately, upon opening the package I found that I had mistakenly been sent a different wash than the Storm Cloud color that prompted the entire order!  I quickly sent out a message to Secret Weapon explaining my problem, and Justin responded within the hour to let me know that the correct wash would be on its way this morning.  That's outstanding service, especially considering how many other small operations in this industry are run like an afterthought.  Keep it up guys!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

March '12 Malifaux Releases

It would seem that I couldn't have picked a better time to start working on my Malifaux figures, as Wyrd has just revealed what will constitute their March releases. Overall, I think this is a solid release without a single stinker in the lot. But in particular, it's these girls (I think that's the correct term for the second pair) that have me the most excited:
I like the look of these alternate Viktorias much more than the original versions that I have, but have yet to assemble, and the Dead Doxies will be a great looking addition to my Seamus crew. Of course, between these new releases and Angelica, released in January, I'll have new releases for my Viktorias, Seamus, and Colette crews, thereby exacerbating my indecision as to which to work on once I finish with Ramos. Hopefully this is about as troubling of a dilemma as I'll ever have to face. :)

Monday, February 06, 2012

February Plans

On the heels of what has been my most productive month of miniatures painting ever, I've opted for an even more ambitious February.  To the right you can see my "Painting Queue,"  which is something that I plan to update at the beginning of each month with my plans.

For February, I intend to quickly knock out the newest member of my Mordheim high elf warband - pictures by tomorrow evening - as well as complete nearly the entirety of my buddy's Ramos crew for Malifaux.  This long suffering friend of mine commissioned me to paint this group of figures nearly two years ago, and they've languished on my painting desk due to my general lack of productivity.  But as his schedule looks to be freeing up on the nights that our regular Malifaux group gets together, it's important that I finally get these completed in order to facilitate his participation.  Provided I accomplish this plan, I'll have only the alternate Ramos and another arachnid swarm to take care of to complete his entire crew - though no doubt there will be an avatar Ramos eventually added.

Unfortunately I've made this job a bit harder for myself, having added the Soulstone Miner and Taelor to the figures he originally gave me in an attempt to make up for my extreme delay.  I've also started working on a custom case for carrying this crew around.  So, lots of work ahead of me, but provided I maintain some steam this should be perfectly doable!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Infinity AAR

This weekend saw me get a quick game of Infinity in against my regular opponent for that game. In reality, I should probably say that I got a small game in - 250 points - because we're both still developing our incompetence with these rules, so the game was any thing but fast.

To the left you can see our table set-up - plenty of terrain comprised of multi-story buildings giving us both tons of cover as well as all sorts of interesting fire lanes.  It was those firing lanes that ended up quickly turning the battle in my favor, though my opponent made it a much closer margin of victory in a devastating round of shooting.

In the lower picture you can, barely, make out my Djanbazan sniper in all of his unpainted silver glory crouched at the window of the second floor of the building on the left side of the table.  From here he was able to quickly cut down a Ninja after it appeared from TO: Camouflage to fell two Ghulam Infantry, as well as drop a Celestial Guard and an Imperial Agent.  The impact one well-placed model can have on a game, potentially accounting for far more points worth of enemy models than it cost, is still something I'm getting used to, but which I rather like.  Sound tactical decisions are not only rewarded in Infinity, they are absolutely required.

The other thing I learned quickly was that heavy automatic weapons - HMGs, Spitfires, etc. - are absolutely deadly.  That Djanbazan sniper was positively bullet-riddled the turn after these pictures were taken, as a Spitfire-armed Celestial Guard decided he had enough of him.  Even at extreme range at a target in cover, a four shot weapon, with an additional shot from the linked team rules, is eventually going to find its target.

Monday, January 23, 2012

High Elf Speed Painting 2

To follow up on my last post, here is the completed Mordheim Shadow Elf warband as they stood at the start of the campaign.  All were finished with the quick painting method mentioned earlier, of neatly base-coating the figures completely, and then using various GW washes to provide some quick shading.

While I think this method generally worked, I'm not sure how much I like it on very light, or white, colors.  The robes on the archer henchmen, for instance, came out slightly splotchier than I would have liked.  No doubt this is probably more pronounced as they are the figures with the most robe showing, but they required some quick touch-up nonetheless to even get them to the point you see here.

Once the warband is complete - it's already expanded by one member since the start, thus requiring that I paint another archer henchman - I'll likely go back and neaten things up further.  Paint the eyes, push the red up to some higher highlights, pick out a few high points on the various metal areas, etc.

In terms of gaming, the warband has performed barely adequately so far.  Considering their individual high costs, and thus low model count, I've been outnumbered in every game so far, including one against a severely depleted beastman warband.  This has left me not only facing overwhelming odds, but up against several scenarios that immediately handicap an outmanned warband - I'm looking at you "Defend the Claim!"  But when this warband is firing on all cylinders, meaning I'm actually hitting with my firing, they're a beast, having already bottled out one enemy group in only two rounds of shooting.

Next in the painting queue is the newest member of this warband as well as a start on a Ramos warband for Malifaux.

Monday, January 16, 2012

High Elf Speed Painting

Given all of the years I have been painting miniatures, the actual number of finished pieces is surprisingly few.  Though this often stemmed from wavering motivation, I think I can properly attribute much of this to the nature of my painting style.  For the most part I'm a slow, deliberate painter, striving for perfection within my limited skill set.  In terms of quality final pieces, this has served me well - I was quite happy with both of the miniatures that I painted in 2011.

However, when you're looking to game with a painted force, two painted figures a year is simply unacceptable.  So, starting with my Mordheim warband, I've decided to tinker with some quick painting techniques.  While I've made a few false starts at this in the past, those efforts mostly revolved around me trying to apply paint quickly, and as a result, somewhat haphazardly.  The explosion in popularity of the "dip method," whether using wood varnish or the tailored Army Painter product, has given a reliable alternative though.  Enhancing this style of painting are the current Games Workshop washes, which behave very similarly to the various dips, but give you the benefit of a much broader range of colors, thereby preventing your figure from having a single, overall muddy tone.  I've opted for the GW route, and the two figures shown here have been basecoated and await their washes.

The problem I've encountered with this technique - though I suppose the same would be true with any quick painting technique - is that I need to force myself to not abide by my normal, obsessive approach.  Slightly painting out of the lines will be covered up by the washes and a figure that is effectively just basecoated and shaded is fine for a gaming figure - at least that's what I tell myself.  :)

Thursday, January 05, 2012

2012 Plans

Though tardy as usual (at least when it comes to me any my blog), I'd like to engage in the end of the year retrospection and new year resolution-making that all hobby bloggers seem to engage in.

From a hobby perspective, 2011 was a bit of a mixed bag for me. In terms of actual gaming, 2011 was a far more successful year than most in recent memory. Referencing the ever handy BoardGameGeek, I see that I played 51 games this year. That averages to nearly one a week, even if many of those occurred in single sessions in which several games were played. What is particularly interesting is the obvious trend in the nature of my gaming that is revealed in this look back. No doubt influenced by the interests of my wife and family, board games occupy a majority of the list, with 7 Wonders and Settlers of Catan sitting squarely on top. Miniatures games, which have long been my primary interest, account for only 14 games played this year (though hybrids such as Wings of War, Gears of War, Battlelore, Memoir '44, and Battleship Galaxies account for another 9).