Sunday 31 March 2013

Aloha! from the Pacific Aviation Museum

Aloha from Hawaii,

What better way to spend a long Easter weekend than on a tropical island in the middle of the ocean? In between sipping Mai Tais and catching a wave or two I also had the opportunity to soak up some Military History at the Pacific Aviation Museum.

The museum is spread across two hangars and is tagged on the end of the Ford Island shuttle tour, after the USS Missouri and USS Arizona Memorial exhibits. After a lazy sleep in we missed the early bird bookings and spent most of our time at the Aviation Museum which was particlarly memorable for a modeller as a lot of the planes were not restored, providing great insight into the ageing process of these machines.

The remains of a Japanese aircraft shot down at Pearl Harbour

Having visited a lot of military museums as a child it was great to revisit one as an adult, especially to see one which felt 'lived in' with veterans of the war present to talk with, and planes part way through restoration on display to the public.

Alas I am not much of a historian so I can't share many details of the specific planes, but there was everything from WW2 naval training aircraft all the way to Top Gun supersonic fighters, with a couple of MiGs and helicopters too.

I'll see you all back in the 41st Millenium soon, Malaho for visiting!

Sunday 24 March 2013

Leman Russ Exterminator (Completed)

This Leman Russ started on my hobby desk in pieces and was a great opportunity to try out some new weathering techniques with pigments and glazes on a model that otherwise would have stayed in the bits box or been used as wrecked vehicle marker. After many weeks trial and error with pigments and fixers, it was awarded best Large Model (Sci-Fi) at Vancouver's Strategies Games Hobbies "Immortal Brush" painting competition in 2013. Entered as a random door prize participant I was quite shocked to receive the award alongside my Know No Fear diorama.

You can vote for this model over at Cool Mini or Not.

Behind the scenes: Weathering Pigments and Shading/Highlights

Overall it's about ninety percent of what I had hoped it would turn out like, with the spray coat dulling the pigments a little bit, and the metals not quite how I'd like them to look. The rust streaks and paint chips far exceeded my expectations, and I look forward to trying them again on future models. The decals were mandatory to have this guy finished in a reasonable amount of time, as he was sitting around too long while I debated about freehand designs, locations, striping and so on.

Sunday 17 March 2013

Shiny New Things

Nope, I haven't forgotten you all, just taking a bit longer than I thought on the Leman Russ. Instead of more WIP shots I thought I'd share a few recent additions to my hobby life, most notably an iPad Mini. This has enabled me to access all sorts of digital content (though I'm not yet ready to pay for certain things) and streamline all my blog reading into a very slick App called Flipboard. Here's a screenshot:

I have also purchased a couple of books for inspiration, and to prompt me in the right direction with my colour schemes and methods. I think I have jumped the gun a little and tried out a few fancy concepts without getting the basics down first, and I would like to expand upon the basic colour theory I can only vaguely remember from the 8th grade!

Returning to the iPad (which was acquired using Frequent Flyer Miles, no need to pay full retail for Apple in my opinion) I have also been trying out Paper by 53. This neat little sketching App is very basic, offering no zoom capabilities, layers, or importing of other images, but somehow won my heart over with ease of use (I have tried with my fat fingers and failed miserably, instead opting for a cheap stylus). It will hopefully be useful as a basis for mapping/illustrating future battle reports and general sketching of ideas, but in the mean time I used it to follow the 'Eavy Metal Non-Metallic Metal guide from the back of my new book.

A little rough around the edges, but a good indication of the sketching capabilities. Purists may hate it, but it sure saves having a cupboard full of art supplies! Who knows, I may even try painting this model in the future!

Sunday 10 March 2013

Painting and Weathering with Pigments!

Following on from my first attempt at weathering a tank using glazes and carefully applied highlights, I have recently purchased some Vallejo Pigments to see if I can speed the process up a little, and create more realistic dirt, soot and mud patterns. I have briefly skimmed all sorts of 'how to guides' which are completely contradictory, and instead just tried different mediums and methods of application to see what 'sticks'.

Initial Impressions when mixed with water

As you can see above, when mixed/thinned with just water, thinned paints and glazes tend to create water marks where the colour pools and dries at the edges, while the pigments give a grainy texture if applied to an un-shaded flat colour. It is this 'grainy' property that gives the extra effect we are looking for when using them to simulate mud and soot textures.

Applying Pigment with another 'medium'

But what if we change the medium we are using to apply the pigment? Here I have taken some of the pigment in its powder form and mixed it with a watered down paint, and a painting 'medium' which will suspend the pigment and distribute it more evenly than water alone. It also slows down the drying time, allowing you to push the pigment where you want it, unlike with a wash which dries relatively quickly and cannot be removed easily.

In the above photos I have applied the brown pigment and medium, then added black pain to the mix, thinning slightly with water, then applying highlights after everything dries. As you can see, the 'sediment' quality of the pigment adds a dusty/weathered quality while at the same time giving the depth of shadow that can then be defined with additional highlights. Each of the pigment applications were one coat only, and 'feathered' into their desired location, rather than being built up layer by layer as with a glaze, wash, or through blended layers.

Applying to the whole tank

As this tank came to me in a sorry state I had no problem switching painting styles halfway through if it meant learning a thing or two in the process. To this end I repeated the above process on the whole side:

Heavy dry brush highlight.

Brown pigment, mixed with Matt Medium, applied roughly to recesses then wiped clean.

Black paint and brown pigment, again applied to recesses and shadows and wiped clean.

More depth and contrast added with some black wash and line highlighting.

So the end result is quite 'harsh' compared to my previous attempt using glazes, and allows a lot more of the base colour to show through. This is great for those looking to utilise a camouflage pattern, and is quite forgiving if any mistakes are made as it can be easily tidied up on the fly, rather than having to apply more base colour in a complex pattern. It certainly looks more striking on the tabletop!

Further 'weathering'?

As you may have noticed, I haven't actually used the pigments to 'weather' the tank, I have used them to shade it! The next stage is to apply the rust, mud, soot and grime that these pigments excel at. There's no real thinking outside the box here, just copy what you see in real life. Mud will be splattered on around the tracks, rust streaks down from any exposed or aged metal, and dust settled on top, kicked up from moving parts. I tend to take photos which inspire me and then copy rough patterns. If you are not confident with this then I recommend sealing the model with clear coat so you can easily wipe clean as you go without affecting the previous pigments.

In the above photo I have used the opposite side of the tank, and applied thick/unevenly mixed brown pigment to represent mud, flicking it at the lower track areas from the edge of a piece of cardboard. I also took the redder pigment from the pack I bought and mixed it with some liquid clear coat, giving it an almost transparent look. This was applied to the previously painted scratches, and to some of the duller rivets.

I plan to finish the whole tank to this level before applying the 'dust' as I may decide not to as it could obscure some of the details. In the mean time I have included a couple of 'real world' photos I have snapped which have inspired me to try out weathering. Always keep your eyes peeled for inspiration!

Sunday 3 March 2013

A Lesson (for) Chaos! 6th Edition Chaos Daemons Battle Report

Today marked the last week of gaming in my local store's 'Crusade of Fire' campaign, and with the Chaos Daemons win ratio at 9:1 we were all keen to see the effect the new 6th Edition Chaos Daemon Codex would have on the final few games. Previously our local Daemon player had run the usual 'White Dwarf' rules Special Forces comprising of Flamers, The Masque, three Soul Grinders and Nurgle Daemons of 'Lesser' and 'Greater' variety, all in 1250pts! I was actually tied with him on points and the two teams quite even, due to having held on to most of the Hive Cities for a number of campaign turns as the Imperial Defenders.

This did not end well, and in fairness I should have seen it coming...

Last week he made quite the point of his dominance by using the 'Sewer Rats' Stratagem (see the photo above) combined with an additional Elites slot full of Flamers (due to campaign rules), to remove nearly half my army in his first turn during a 'Cities of Death' match in which he took control of the last Hive City on one of the planets. Definitely not a fun game, as I pretty much unpacked everything, then packed it all back up again with minimal chance for retaliation. Luckily Games Workshop have seen fit to correct some of the glaring unbalanced elements, and have just released a new Chaos Daemons Codex for 6th Edition. I won't bother to repeat or analyse the new rules too much, except to say a lot more finesse required, and a lot more random elements affect the game.

Chaos Daemons 6th Edition Codex Battle Report:

This week we rolled up 'The Scouring', an objective based mission which I have talked about previously, but basically the relative value of objectives is not known until forces are deployed. This turned out to mostly benefit the Daemon player, as the highest value objective ended up in hard cover in his deployment zone, and only one of the small value objectives ended up behind my AEGIS Defence Line.

Soul Grinders/Plaguebearers deploy 1st turn, everything else comes on via Deep Strike

I sighed once more with the loss of my Stormraven Gunship, this time to the new Soul Grinder 'Skyfire' Autocannons, and down went my Death Company with it. Even with the distraction of two Leman Russ Battle Tanks, the target choice was obvious with no other flyers or medium armour to divert his attention. Things were looking like repeating themselves until he made the choice of assaulting with his lesser Deamons of Slaneesh (Daemonettes) and Khorne (Bloodletters). Through Cover. With no Grenades.

First to go were the remaining Daemonettes, with The Masque losing combat and dying due to "Daemonic Instability"

Next was the drawn combat between Platoon Command and the Bloodletters!

Cue the tiny Daemon violins. My Guardsmen made short work of both squads who had to fight at Initiative 1 for the first round of combat. Combined with the firepower of my new Leman Russ Battle Tanks, the rest of the army crumbled and the game ended at turn 6 with only a single Lesser Daemon of Nurgle (Plaguebearer) holding the highest value objective. Having scored First Blood against a Soul Grinder (who had to start on the table, rather than Deep Strike in), and with the Outflanking Penal Troops taking an objective and the 'Linebreaker' Victory Point, I won the game 8-4.

So what were some key points from my first game against the new Codex Chaos Daemons?

  • The "Warp Storm" table can be deadly/chaotic for both sides. I lost hull points and guardsmen, while Skulltaker himself was banished back to the warp on the turn he came in!
  • "Skyfire" on the Soul Grinders levels the playing field a lot, even if they're 'only' S7
  • Daemonic Instability is a real problem for small units which may lose combat
  • Loss of "Eternal Warrior" makes Heralds/The Masque very fragile!
  • Toughness 4 on Plaguebearers is wholly made up for by having "Shrouded" in cover.
  • Larger squad sizes for Daemons is paramount.
  • Flexibility/mobility are the key with Daemons, you can't just drop them in and cross your fingers!
  • The new 'meta' toward large numbers of autocannons/equivalent weapons will hurt the Greater Daemons a lot. Previously it was a larger precentage of 'melta' in fewer numbers with the same chance to hit, now you can use the same weapons for glancing vehicles until 'Wrecked' as for killing Greater Daemons with their mostly reduced armour and invulnerable saves.
  • Knight Commander Pask is deadly against Monstrous Creatures (re-rolls wounds)!
I for one am looking forward to seeing some competitive builds using the new codex, especially given the new deployment options, flexibility in Heralds, Banners and Psychic Powers. Definitely the best "6th Edition Codex" to date. It will be very powerful in the right hands!

Update: You can see the Chaos Daemons smash face in their second outing here.