Tuesday 30 September 2014

Photo Post: My Painting Calendar

I'm not sure if anyone else has tried this, but I was inspired by a post by Roman Lappat of Massive Voodoo fame where he describes making a "progress bar" (or running sheet) for individual sections of a larger project to keep motivation going when you feel like you are not making much of a dent despite many many hours prepping and painting a model. Last year I tried a very basic schedule of "one model per week with x number of weeks remaining" to get my Know No Fear diorama built quickly to match my painting speed at the time.

This year I felt I was running out of time until I sat down and made a sheet of all my available painting days (My weekends are Monday/Tuesday this month), split the project into workable sections, and mapped the two across a single sheet of paper. With two "catch up" days and modest goals of base-coating only during the first few days I am already ahead and inspired to continue working on the project rather than dreading the amount of painting still to be done. Who wouldn't love to schedule in a whole day for some freehand? I encourage you all to try this on your next project! Many thanks to Massive Voodoo!

Saturday 27 September 2014

Green Stuff Detailing (Horus Heresy Rhino Diorama #3)

The two-fingered hand from the bits box didn't look quite right.

With less than a month to go for the competition deadline for this diorama I am starting to worry about leaving enough time for painting! I have been doing my best to speed things along by using a lot of "Instant Mold" to re-create the smaller details by taking elements of other models and incorporating them into the bits box parts I am using for most of the model. You may recall I made the Rhino with Sculpey, and so far I have not purchased any specific models for this diorama. I did make one purchase this week, a fairly overpriced Master of the Marches so I could use the hands for my weaponless Marines (which you can see above).

Because Instant Mold is so easy to re-use I simply make many molds until I find one that works, Here you can see the extra pressure required to create the fine details of the hand. I carefully split the mold down the middle before pushing small amounts of Green Stuff to the area of the fingers. You can stretch the copied part easily if you don't let it dry overnight so patience is the key with this sort of work! I then hunted around for something to copy for the vents on the side of the Rhino, as a trip to the hardware store yielded no appropriately sized mesh. With the addition of the rivets it's really starting to look like a proper model!

Last on my "I have no idea how I am going to make this" list was the banner held by two of the Emperors Children on top of the Rhino. No banners from other models were in the right 'pose' and I had gotten as far as making a wire frame to illustrate rough location for framing the scene and the rest of the models. It was actually at this point that I paused working on the diorama out of fright, having bitten off more than my modelling skills could chew. In a fit of "gotta get this done" I grabbed some left over Green Stuff, rolled it flat and applied some lubricant so I could easily slide it off again if it looked terrible. After only a few minutes I could already see I had a winner on my hands, and on I went with a few other details while the banner dried overnight.

With a majority of the detailing done, I have undercoated the base and am on my last weekend of modelling before painting begins. I am thankful I didn't try sculpting any hands or even a complete model as I had planned earlier in the year, though with less than a month of painting (I usually estimate one week for each figure plus another week for the base) I am running out of time! I hope your painting projects are going well, and I encourage you all to try entering a competition as you do learn new skills and try new things that army length painting projects don't always allow. Below you can see the unpainted and nearly completed diorama, with only some fiddly detailing remaining on the Emperor's Children Space Marines. Let's do this!

Monday 22 September 2014

Photo Post: I Hate Bugs! (Blood Angels vs Tyranids)

I recently had the opportunity to play a game of 40k on Games Workshop's new Sector Imperialis gaming table at our local GW and snapped a few pics as the action unfolded between two work-in-progress armies myself and a friend are painting up at the moment. We were on a mission to "out collect" each other and have finally stopped at around 1750pts to let the painting catch up! My jump infantry Blood Angels have finally caught up to the 2009 tank craze, and my opponent has been madly painting up bugs large and small for his new-to-7th-Edition army. Fast tanks and fast bugs always make for a fun game, and this was no exception. As always you can click on the picture for a larger version.

The Tyranids started the game holding three objectives in the Tactical Escalation mission we were playing.

The light vehicle hunting Tyrannofex (far left) was a new addition to the Tyranids.

Playing the length of the table limited the opportunity to use scout moves with the Baal Predators.

The Attack Bike (mid right) is my latest painting project, and also helps to quickly score Objectives.

Tyranids surge forward on their Turn 1.

A wall of flame from the triple template Furioso Dreadnought engulfs the smaller bugs.

Turn 2 sees the arrival of the flying Hive Tyrant and burrowing Mawloc.

Although the Dreadnought survived Hammer of Wrath hits, it was no match for two Carnifexes!

The combination of the Rechlusiarch, Radiation Grenades, and Furious Charge was too much for the Mawloc.

The "Dominate" Psychic Power from the Furioso Librarian kept the Carnifexes stuck in the middle of the board.

The Baal made a quick dash to the centre of the board but failed to remove the last wound from the Carnifex

Meanwhile the combined firepower of over half the Blood Angels downed the Hive Tyrant on the Objective.

The poorly positioned scouts (no Objective!) failed miserably to wound anything all game.

At the end of Turn 5 the Tyranids were up by over 6 Victory Points and the game was called.

All of the Blood Angels mobility was destroyed or on the wrong side of the board for Objectives.

Overall a great game, and excellent use of 7th Edition Tactical Objectives and Psychic Powers really kept the game in the balance right until the end. Hats of to the bugs for distracting the Blood Angels long enough to grab all the Objectives right from under their noses! Most telling was the use of the new Tyrannofex's Strength 10 gun causing Instant Death to the newly painted Attack Bike, preventing it seizing a critical Objective. It's always fun when the model you've just painted plays a critical role in the game!

On a final note, the new gaming surface looks amazing but is terrible to roll on with next to no flat surfaces, so I would definitely get the "normal" board for my own gaming needs, if not make my own for less coin but a lot more mess...

Saturday 20 September 2014

"Sands through the Hourglass" (Horus Heresy Rhino Diorama #2)

Well after a few weeks off it's time to get a wriggle on with my new diorama based on an art piece from the Visions of Heresy book, which I wrote about in my first post in July. Despite many evenings spent tweaking the models to go on top of the Rhino battle tank I was not quite happy with the layout of the diorama itself and felt it needed more space with which to tell the story. The addition of a beveled edge wooden bock from the craft store re-kindled my enthusiasm for the base and the project in general.

With a little cork providing added height I was able to position the various elements of the diorama before gluing, and tried to imagine how it would look with a few rocks and slabs of concrete added. The artwork for this diorama provides very little information on the lower half of the Rhino, but this gave me the opportunity to tell a tale of the current and previous battles over this ground. I pictured the "defenders" having just piled out of their wrecked vehicle only to suffer the humiliation of having their banner raised above the vehicle while they are powerless to stop them. If only they could reach their weapons! The older corpse on the lower left will be painted quite weathered to show the multitude of battles previously fought here, and adds an extra point of interest without upsetting the relative height and balance of the other models.

Another small addition to the "realism" was the use of green stuff to make the rocks look part of the diorama, rather than sitting on top of the cork, a small tip I found while flicking through a favourite book of mine. Normally I would just glue multiple layers of smaller rocks around the larger ones, but the mess created with one base would be nothing compared to trying this on an entire diorama.

So from this point I would be able to apply only one layer of grit around the rocks, saving both time, glue and sand. Superglue works very well here as you can easily control the application using a bottle with a spout, and I mixed up special concoction for this diorama which I may use on other models. The darker rocks are from the new Imperialis Basing Kit, while the two round containers are Galeforce9 products. The yoghurt container has used walnut shell pieces from an intake valve cleaning service I performed on a car two years ago. We normally go through around 50kg a month of this stuff at my work, so contact me if you are looking to cover a whole table in sand...

After letting the glue dry overnight I took an old toothbrush and vigorously scrubbed the whole model to remove any loose sand which might come away during painting. I will no doubt be dry-brushing the base and having sections falling off during painting is very frustrating! This week I will be putting the finishing touches to the models, attempting to create a banner out of green stuff, and hopefully starting on the painting!

Friday 12 September 2014

Out of the Loop

It's strange how much our hobby can take over your life. Three years ago I moved countries without a single model or any hobby paraphernalia, and now I find our small apartment covered in miniatures, paint pots littering every surface and cupboards bursting at the seams. In my enthusiasm to embrace new models and rules I have started three armies, brought a fourth back with me from a trip home, and subscribed to every news feed and blog I could find for scraps of information on when my beloved Blood Angels would be getting their update. So where has this led me? To a place I was previously at over ten years ago when I then left the hobby, though this time I don't have the excuse of studying as an reason to jump ship.

The last time I finished painting a full army was 2009...

So after a few weeks away from reading any blogs, visiting any news websites and generally not lifting a finger on any of my projects, I have been able to re-assess my priorities and analyse my lack of enthusiasm. Was it the glorious long summer evenings distracting me? A change of shift at work reducing my hobby hours? A couple of games of X-Wing filling my gaming needs? No, the cause of my wanderings has been the exponential growth of the product catalog at Games Workshop. No longer is it the case of buying a rulebook, an army book and a box of troops every month or so until you have an army, we now have an overwhelming amount of products released on a weekly basis, all of which need yet another set of hard cover and digital only additions to be "complete". Two months ago I bought the new Ork codex, but half of the information and interesting details are only available in the "supplement" which is the same price again. I left the blogosphere around the time Grey Knights "lite" was released, and have returned to find the "limited" Space Hulk box set has made a comeback. I personally know two folks who bought extra copies in 2009 and left them in the shrink wrap for future profit...

...which was the same year this originally was released.

So where are we headed? I personally won't be buying any more Necrons to add to my now dust-gathering "good deal at the time" Megaforce. I have let the Astra Militarium release pass me by, and was mildly enthused by Space Wolves, but by the time I had gotten around to visiting the store something else was the new "hotness" so I ashamedly fed my spending habit with a couple of paints and some green stuff instead. I have de-bookmarked many news sites, un-'liked' all of my commercial facebook pages, and spent a bit of time playing online games as well as reading a few Horus Heresy novels. The Outcast Dead is now my favourite novel by Graham McNeill, with his depictions of "Unity" era Space Marines bringing me back to when I first discover the Warhammer 40,000 universe twenty years ago. Which is where this slab of introspective text began.

You can almost see the cobwebs...

So what haven't I removed? Blog subscriptions. There are so many amazing projects going on outside of anything to do with Games Workshop that it amazes me how much I was wrapped up in their product cycle. They make amazing models for sure, and have always billed themselves as a miniatures company first and foremost, so I am a little ashamed of how much their rules dictated which models I would buy and how I would paint them. I would sit for days painting models to game with simply because they were cheaper in points or had a certain special rule, rather than actually wanting to paint them. No wonder I was losing interest! As one of the veteran staff members at our local GW said, paint the models you want to paint as you'll still feel good bringing them out of their case in years to come long after they've been passed over by newer rulebooks and competitive players alike. So with a big thank you to Mr McNeill for his novel, and to all who have made it this far down the page, it's back to the 31st millenium for a frantic game of catch up with my diorama in time for a mid-October deadline!