It's that time of the year where I paint feverishly for the Strategies Games Hobbies "Immortal Brush" painting competition here in Vancouver, having entered complex converted dioramas for the last few years. I usually start most of my preparation at least three months in advance to give me adequate time to convert or scratch-build all or part of the model I will be entering. Two years ago it was a "true scale" version of Roboute Guilliman, and last year a wrecked heresy era Rhino battle tank. With less than six weeks until the (fortunately extended) deadline of mid-November I had nothing started or even planned thanks to a summer of apartment painting and everything hobby related packed away in boxes. In a moment of weakness I pulled a set of Tau Pathfinders off the store shelf and began planning a very rough diorama using my favourite book on the subject as a guide.
Critical to a speedy diorama creation is simplification. The fewer models, the less painting, and reduced number of hours required to paint things "well" for a competition. I learned the hard way with my Know No Fear diorama that full scenery backdrops are tedious to paint, especially with a deadline looming, thus a partially demolished backdrop was chosen. I also figure the smaller the model the quicker it could be painted, and so a scene depicting smaller and less amoured Tau and Gretchin models was born, utilising the varied and characterful grots from the Mek Gunz box set which were still kicking around in my bits box. The last piece of the puzzle was telling a story and keeping it simple for the casual viewer. I initally planned many grots swarming over the wreckage as the focal point, but reduced this number and instead made each one a critical part of the scene.
I hope to convey the scene of a crashed drone discovered by its Pathfinder team while in mid salvage by a small number of grots, but still functioning enough for the weapons system to provide a nasty suprise for the unlucky grot in the foreground. With all models looking at this grot it will hopefully draw the viewer's eye forward, with the bright contrasting colours of the Tau and grots then rewarding a second glance at each of the models in turn. My favourite part is the grot being grabbed from behind as he looks on as his friend falls victim to the very machine he was smugly dis-assembling. A little bit dark, but as my first "original" diorama without reference art I hope it tells a story well rather than a usual mid-battle or parade ground type piece. With less than a month remaining here's hoping the quick paint scheme matches the scope of the diorama!