Saturday, 26 October 2013


After a wonderful sunny day spent shuffling my feet through all the colourful leaves of autumn to the model shop, I was rewarded with a couple of quite humbling medals in a local painting competition. Not only did my diorama place first in its own category, it also took the honour of customer favourite (aided by a completely unsolicited visit from my grandmother in law no less). I also placed first in the science fiction large model category with my Leman Russ. Both models faced stiff competition from modellers with greater technical ability, bolder eye catching colour schemes, more intricate detailing and smoother blending, but I feel I acheived consistency across all areas and managed to convey my ideas without spending every waking moment painting. A deadline certainly gets things done!

I was also fortunate enough to touch base with a fellow Vancouver blogger, Kelly of Sable and Spray fame. His highly detailed 2012 diorama entry depicting a Space Marine Terminator being stalked by Genestealer really inspired my to try my hand at weathering, and he had some great tips of his own to share using various brush and spray on sealers to change the way washes and inks flow across models, as well as a few disaster tales involving detergent and foaming paint! Not that any of these problems showed on his eye wateringly beautiful Sisters of Battle models, which took first place in the science fiction squad category. Congratulations!

It's nearly one year since I started this blog, and I can't quite believe how much I've accomplished. A big thank you to Strategies Games & Hobbies for fostering the painting community here in Vancouver, and for hosting many games of 40k which would have no hope of fitting on the dinning room table at home. I am just starting on assembly of my Necrons so as to take a break from painting, and I hope this will be the first army I actually ''finish" using the one paint and basing scheme. Here's to not getting side-tracked!

Friday, 18 October 2013

Know No Fear Diorama (Completed)

"Guilliman pushes Thiel aside and propels himself towards the Word Bearers. His armoured feet bite into the hullskin as he gains traction. He seems vast, like a titan. Not an engine of Mars. A titan of Myth." 

"His head is bare. Impossible. His flesh is bleached with cold. His mouth opens in a silent scream as he smashes into them. ...Guilliman twists and punches his head off. Clean off. Head and helm as one, tumbling away like a ball, trailing beads of blood."

- Know No Fear, Dan Abnett (2012)

This was a really fun project bringing a "zero gravity" concept to life, taken from the cover of Dan Abnett's Know No Fear Horus Heresy novel. The model was a winning entry at Strategies Games Hobbies in Vancouver for their 2013 Painting Competition in the diorama category. It also took home customer favourite model, and was a great confidence booster for many future painting projects. I was experimenting with glazes at the time, and really enjoyed shading with different mixes of primary glazes to darken the model, rather than adding black or grey to existing layered colours.

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

You can see all posts relating to this project by clicking on the "Know No Fear"tag, or on this link.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

The Avenging Son (Know No Fear Diorama #11)

This week I have been diving into Dan Abnett's latest novel (and follow up to Know No FearThe Unremembered Empire, which details Roboute Guilliman's actions in the years after the battle of Calth. In it he is cut off from the Emperor by the warp and seeks to build his own Imperial domain in the eastern fringes. It is fitting then that I can share with you my near finished model of Roboute for my diorama.

(click for a larger picture)

Using the same palette as the injured Ultramarine, I extended the highlighted areas by including more gray and white before glazing back down to the base colour. Continuing through the glazes I added a little red, green and then brown/black washes all the way to black in the shadows. As he will be positioned on the base of the ship's hull I added more reflective highlights than the models floating in space.

The gold was painted entirely with browns and cream colours before being glazed with yellow, then re-highlighted along the edges. I have taken to mixing a lot of differing colours then tinting them with glazes so a list of exact colours used wouldn't be very descriptive. I drew a lot of my inspiration for this style from James Wappel, though I am still very new to glazes.

I am quite happy with how he turned out, though often I was kicking myself for not adding extra detail during the construction phase, leaving large areas which required smooth colour transition. I am on the fence regarding freehand details, and as with the other models I will see how the whole scene looks before adding any small details.

Apologies for the blurry photo! I spent an evening on his face, which ended up having a little bit too much contrast for my liking, but the teeth and eye details were worth the extra time spent cross eyed with my tongue poking out. The hair is actually a noticeably different colour than in the photos. I have left the diorama base to the end and I'm sure I will be seeing everything in gray scale by the time I'm done!

You can see construction of this model here.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Book Review: How to Build Dioramas

After a road trip and hobby-free long weekend spent in Portland, Oregon, I came away with a few new paints and models (zero sales tax!) and a used book or two from a dark corner of the very large Powell's Books. Of particular note was a title by Sheperd Paine titled How to Build Dioramas: Aircraft, Armour, Ship and Figure Models.

With my Know No Fear Diorama in full swing I was keen to learn diorama modelling techniques from the perspective of a military modeller, and a quick flick through revealed many gems, both from a design, preparation and execution perspective. The inner sleeve detailed some of the author's exploits from over 40 years ago, and this edition was reprinted in 2000, but I found over 90% of the subject material was applicable to any diorama whether it be historical, fantasy or science fiction.

Starting with the basics, from setting a "scene that tells a story" to "the skills you'll need", Paine goes to great lengths to ensure you get the best from every scene you create, from positioning of the models, as above, to directing the viewer's eyes by facing the models in the same direction or toward points of interest. There are numerous example dioramas throughout the book, each taken from a historical perspective or reference, through planning, models placement to final painting and finishing touches, providing great re-readability and examples of techniques not necessarily covered in more general chapters.

Given weathering has been a particular interest of mine lately, I found an entire chapter devoted to this topic to be first on my 'must read' list once I arrived home. From washes, dry-brushing, masking and air brush techniques to specific methods for aircraft, tanks and ships, I now have near endless ideas for future projects, for both diorama creation and general modelling. Working primarily with oils, Pain also devotes a few paragraphs to acrylics noting "applying a series of carefully controlled glazes" to be the best method, rather than blending, when shading. Another tie in with some of my recent experiments!

I won't share too much of the book with you, but above you can see another of the author's highlighted points showing a great tip for all painters. You may already be doing this sub-consciously, but it's nice to remember the distance most viewers will be looking at your model (arm's length) and the distance most critics will be looking (up close!). It has been certainly beneficial to take a step back and look at the whole model on my panting desk, rather than fuss over the particular details of a weapon or logo. It goes without saying that there are many more of these great tips in every chapter.

Toward the end of the book there is an interesting chapter on the use of shadow boxes, which force both perspective and light source upon the viewer. Having never contemplated the use of a shadow box myself, I was even more enthralled by the use of mirrors to create a ghostly effect seen above in a Shakespearean diorama. It certainly elevates the diorama from tabletop or display cabinet fancy to a quite presentable art installation hanging on a wall or set into a shelf. Neat stuff.

Overall this is a great addition to my growing library, and a great way to introduce some fresh techniques and perspective to my usually single source reference material. After a refreshing mini break from the hobby, it's back to the 31st Millennium next week for some updates to my Know No Fear Diorama. Thanks for dropping by!