Wednesday 29 February 2012

It's Leap Day

Did you know that it takes the earth 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes and 16 seconds to revolve around the sun? Neither did I. But you probably did know that calendar years are measured in 365 days, and thus that each year there is a bit of extra time left over. So every four years we have an extra day to bring everything back in alignment.* It's called a leap day, hence the frog!

According to where you look on the web, the day is a good omen for starting something new. If you leap into something new on this day, it will be successful. With that in mind, I am treating today as the first day of a new push to improve my painting.

Maybe improve is not the word I am looking for. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say I am going to vary my painting. I tend to paint figures only if they add to my armies. This not only restricts my choice of what to paint, but it also ties me to painting to match my existing collection. While I am happy with my army painting, I never really step outside my comfort zone. I am not exactly stuck in a rut, but I do think that trying something new will ultimately improve my technique, or at least expand my skill set.

The biggest problem I have is the vast range of minis out there. Which should I paint now that I no longer have to confine myself to chaos warriors or undead (the two armies I am supposedly working on this year)? It's a conundrum, but I do have a few ideas, which I will be posting about in the next few weeks.

*the smartest among you will have realised that there is a discrepancy in these numbers, since there's a little less than 6 hours per year added, and that eventually those few minutes difference will add up. Which is why there is no leap day in centuries that are not divisible by 400. So don't leave it to 2100 to take up a new challenge!

Sunday 26 February 2012

Monthly Mini Porn Issue 2

Most of the minis for this issue I have found while looking around for alternative Vampire Counts character models. They are not all of the pointy toothed variety, sometimes while looking for a vampire I happen across a completely unrelated figure which catches my eye.

Here's a couple of figures from Reaper, one an obvious vampire contender and another which just struck me as a bit different (and which could theoretically be a vampire I guess).


Here's a pair of wizards by Darksword Miniatures, not really suitable as necromancers but I did think they made a mighty fine pair of wizards, in a classic Gandalf/Saruman style.  


If you are a fan of old school goblins, then this hobbyist site will be of interest. Crooked Claw offers a small number of the little green fellas, ideal for a warband or dungeon clan.

And finally I have spent a good deal of time looking at the Studio McVey site this past few days. There is a reason for this, which will become clearer in the next few weeks, but for now here is a trio of lovely models I would love to paint. 


Friday 10 February 2012

Dark Angels on the way?

I have never really "got" the space marines thing. For the first 10 years of being involved in the hobby, it was purely Warhammer Fantasy Battle for me. The background, the game, the miniatures, it all slotted nicely into the things I was into, like Tolkien, mythology and fantasy art. The pictures in White Dwarf of all the space marines and related stuff, I flicked past. If I'm honest, I found it childish and toy like, which is quite ironic when you consider I was drooling over elves, dragons and skeletons!

In the past decade I have picked up a fair bit of the background on the WH40K universe, mostly through my painting. It helps to know your stuff when you are painting marines, some people can get very uptight if you suggest straying from the prescribed colours. Eventually I started playing the game, though in choosing orks I didn't really stray too far from my fantasy roots. I have looked at the space marines a couple of times, I did think about collecting Space Wolves at one time, but the powder blue or grey armour always deterred me. I think that's been the biggest obstacle all along, the bright primary colours that I associate with Lego blocks. Even with de-saturated and weathered paint jobs, they still look like little red, yellow or blue space robot toys.

However, there's no denying the appeal of the dark gothic imagery of the artwork, which never fails to impress. If I could get the models on the table to look anything like as impressive as the artwork above, then I reckon I would be set to go. I think the colour scheme is appealing because it's true to real life, in that the allies of World War II used green armour extensively. So I can easily get past the "toy" barrier in my mind. The Dark Angels also employ white armour, which again I find appealing because of my interest in WWII armour of the Eastern Front, where winter camouflage resulted in white tanks. There's also a medieval vibe to Dark Angels models, in their use of robes and iconography. It's this marriage of the true to life colours, the gothic imagery and the medieval/fantasy connection that has finally allowed me to "get" space marines.

Recent rumours have pointed to Dark Angels being a part of the starter set for the new version of 40K. If this is true, then I really will be getting space marines later in the year. It's took me nearly 20 years, but I am maybe ready to fight for the Emperor!

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Nice and easy snowy bases

The next model on my painting list is a Chaos lord so I wanted to give him a slightly more elaborate base. Nothing too fancy, he has to fit in with the rest of the army, but I didn't want to leave it to the end, like I do with regiments.

I didn't take step by step photos, but here's a brief description of the process. I took some cork (from wine bottles) and made slices. Three of these were cut to size and glued on to the base at positions where pins would be inserted. The rest of the rocks are pieces of slate from my garden. There is a mix of slate and cork purely because the latter is very easy to drill through to hold the pins.

The earth I make by mixing pva glue and sand together into a paste, a bit more fluid than toothpaste is the best way I can describe it. Smear this on with an old brush. Let the whole thing dry.

The rocks are painted with greys, gradually adding in whites and drybrushing lightly to pick out the textures. Then I dot on some greens and browns, to break up the mass of grey and give a more realistic finish. The earth is painted with a dark brown and lightly dry brushed with a mid brown. Nothing too fancy is required here because most of the earth is covered with snow.

When that's dry it's time to add the white stuff. I have found that adding water effect to snow flock gives a nice icey finish. Again, I mix it up into a paste, then smear it on with an old brush, then sprinkle on some fresh (unmixed) snow flock for a little sparkle.

That's all there is to it. Like I said, nice and easy, the way I like things to be.

Saturday 4 February 2012

Chaos Sorceror

This is the sorceror that will lead the recently painted marauders into battle. It's a Gamesday figure that I managed to pick up on ebay for less than the price of a plastic character. It's intended to be used as a non-aligned sorceror. The pale skin and black armour (hard to see as he has very little armour) blends in with the marauder unit.

In terms of painting technique I spent a bit longer on him than regiment figures. After basecoating I applied a few glazes to the skin, then re-highlighted with the original skin colour. The robes were a little experiment, I shaded and highlighted in the usual way, but then I glazed the bottom half in a reddish-brown colour for a two tone effect.I was just trying to add a little interest to the bottom half of the model.

I decided to paint the eyes as blind, the sorceror uses his magic sight and his third eye to help him around. The facial eyes I should really have painted in a glowing colour, as though they are blazing with magical power. I might come back to that at some stage. The eye in his hand is bleeding, to signify the price he has to pay every time he casts a spell. There is also a little blood and rawness around the extra limbs.

When I have completed the movement tray I will put up a photo of the sorceror and his tribe of marauders. Next in line is another character, a bit bigger and more imposing than this guy.
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