Monday, June 29, 2009

Thagrosh, the Prophet

Not a lot to say today. Work is trying to hijack my free time, but I was determined to get this posted. This is a pretty cool model, but I should point out a couple things before my normal commentary. First, this was the last of the second hand Legion models I got. When I was stripping him I carelessly didn't keep track of all his spines and horns. As a result I lost most of them. I ended up resculpting most of them which could have gone better. Also, I continued to experiment with color and shading here and as a result some parts of this model got much less attention than they deserved.

What went well:
* Skirt-thingy - The shading was an experiment for the green sections. I actually used magenta to shade the recesses.
* Glowing weapon - Loved this! It was a pain to pull off, but I think the end result turned out pretty decent. I'm thinking of hitting it with some glosscoat now that it's sealed just to give it some extra glow.
* Overall color composition - I'm rather happy about the overall color hue and value on this model. It's not perfect by any stretch, but I feel like it came together better than average for my skill level.
* Base - It's hard to see from the pictures, but I create a stone with a rune inscribed and made it broken in half. I like the feel of this base for him. Borders on epic!

What could have been better:
* Face - It just tortured me the whole time. Plus I needed to clean it better before priming I think. Too many stripping shortcuts.
* Metals - Some of it was ok, like the weapon, but the armor bits were less than spectacular. Especially the detail work on the outside of the big glove.
* Uneven foot - It's hard to see from the picture, but the foot is actually sculpted with a groove so that it fits into a normal medium base. I didn't notice this until I was actually pinning him to the base and by then it was too late. Doh!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fried Brain Cells

Today the weather is terrible. It's hot and humid, and that means no priming or sealing. Thagrosh is done except for sealing, so he'll have to wait until late tonight. Everything else is in pieces, so I'm going to catch up on assembling some things. As a result, today's post is more a random set of thoughts coming from my painting desk today.
Yesterday I was planning on going to the 500pt SR4 Warmachine/Hordes tournament at my LGS, but during a plasma donation in the morning I nearly fainted. It's the first time I've ever had that problem (and I'm somewhere around 50 donations now) so I figured I'd better take the nice nurse's advice and relax for the rest of the day. So instead of the tournament, I got some good work done on Thagrosh. All things considered it was a bummer to miss the tournament, but trying to stand for 7 hours after doing a blood donation would have been a bad plan.
I'm trying to figure out a good way to convert the Forsaken. The model isn't completely horrible, but to me it looks like some sort of mutant butler or something. It's just not a very interesting pose. I'm probably going to do some conversion work (more than I usually do), but figured I'd review the tournament legal conversion rules:
Privateer Press encourages players to have a fully painted force on the table. Games with fully painted armies are more interesting to watch and generally enhance the play experience for all. Although not required, players should take this chance to show off all aspects of the hobby.

Proxies (substitute models) are not allowed under any circumstances, nor can a player enter a tournament with a model that has not been released to the general public.

All models must be WARMACHINE or HORDES models appropriate to the tournament venue. Conversions (modifications to Privateer Press models) are acceptable as long as they are clearly based on WARMACHINE or HORDES models. Conversions must represent the model from which they are most obviously drawn. For example, a heavily converted Haley model is not a substitute for Sorscha.

Weapon changes are acceptable provided they represent the same type of weapon replaced. For example, trading a sword for a sword is legal. However, mixing and matching warjack weapons is not allowed.

A TO may make exceptions and approve any reasonable conversion. To avoid confusion and conflict, players must have an unaltered version of the model available in case a TO asks to remove a questionable model from play. The TO makes the final call on any particular model.
So here's my initial plan after talking with Jeff at my LGS:
* Use a Nyss Swordsman body
* Use the Forsaken's head, legs, tail, and separate arm
* Find a suitable wing substitute from some random model
I was fooling around more with Kuler the other day and created a swatch of my Legion color scheme. This free resource continues to entertain and inspire me. You can see it here.
Last but not least, I've been trying to find a new way to store my paints. I built a prototype of a paint rack that stores the paints horizontally in sort of a stack. I've been using it for about a week now and so far I'm pretty happy. I'll probably try to upgrade it to something I can mount on the wall, but for now it's a good test of the idea. As you can see from the picture, I also picked up one of the Tool Racks from Miniature Scenery. They just happened to have some at my LGS and I must say the tool rack is very nice. It took me about and hour or so to assemble it and it holds pretty much everything I need to have handy on my desk.
Well, that's enough rambling for today. I'll hopefully be posting pics of Thagrosh tomorrow sometime. Until then may your weather be cooperative and your brush be true, and paint like you have a pair!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Warmonger War Chief

This rounds out my first 500 points of Legion! This stout bad ass is the Warmonger War Chief solo. He likes raging across the battlefield, consuming hacked off limbs, and the occasional decapitation and ensuing fountain of blood. His turn offs include hesitant commanders, slow walks anywhere, and anything cooked.

This model was a must-add to my collection. He was equally as fun to paint as the Ogrun Bokurs were for similar reasons. My only minor complaint is that there was not a whole lot of skin surface available. I really wanted to put a glowing rune on him, but I just couldn't find a location that I liked. I thought about putting it on his exposed chest, but that would have reduced the skin even more, and I wanted to preserve a decent level of skin exposure to keep him tied in with the rest of the army.

What went well:
* The armor went fairly well. I'm not completely happy with it in all locations (chainmail especially), but the contrast between raised and recessed portions of the armor plates worked out nicely. I used a bit of the juicing method to get the armor shading the way I wanted it.
* Fur is something I hate doing, but this time it worked out ok. Usually I get bad results from trying to use washes on fur, but for some reason my order of techniques worked it out better than my usual. Wish I could remember what I did!

What could have been better:
* Smoother painting. For some reason I didn't get nice smooth coats. I'm sure it's because I need to thin my paints more, but I'm just not quite there with that thinning estimation yet.
* Misc details could have used a bit more attention. I'll admit, sticking to my speed painting mantra for Legion is getting somewhat annoying. I wanted to get this guy done for the tournament this weekend, and that meant taking a couple shortcuts on details and not rounding out the shading as much as I should have.

In any case, I'm happy with the result. I'll post a picture of the 500 point force soonish. Probably after the tournament on Saturday.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Legion Victories!

Last night I played 2 games using my Legion force and won both games! I've been in a scramble to get my 500pts painted for the tournament this weekend, but also I want to bring something at least mildly competitive. To that end I've been playing more than usual. It's unfortunately rather late (due to work and a run to the LGS) so this will be a brief battle report.

My force: Thagrosh, Carnivean, 4 Shredders, Striders with UA, Deathstalker, Incubi.

Game 1: Witch Coven, 4 Deathrippers, Tartarus, 10 Bane Knights, 10 Bile Thralls, Skarlock, Gorman. Miraculously I pulled this out. Some key things that went well were the Incubi opportunistically tying up arcnodes, the Striders getting lots of shots on biles and taking out Tartarus early on, and the Carnivean pulling off an assault spray on the witches.

Game 2: Madrak, Impaler, Mauler, Champs, Hero, Krielstones (5), Gobbers, Fell Caller. This game was a huge punch-face fest. In the end, Madrak just missed a run on Thagrosh, leaving him with 1 health left. At that point Thagrosh gutted the troll and claimed victory. I should note there was some terrible dice rolling on the part of the Champs when trying to take out the Carnivean.

Overall I'm feeling better about my Legion force. I think Thagrosh will be more my style, but I'm not sure I'll have him ready for the tournament this weekend. Maybe I'll get extra motivated though.

On the weekend I also played a battle box game of Legion vs Trolls, but my Legion force took a severe beating and in the end the Axer took Lylyth out handily. This was a fun game though as I was teaching a buddy of mine how Hordes plays. It was also amusing to me to realize that I have 2 battle boxes fully painted for Hordes.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


There's a point at which I look at a model and say to myself, "Well, I'm not completely happy, but I'd have to do a pile more work to be happy, so forget it." This model was especially that case. Overall I'm ok with it, but there were a number of things that I struggled with. The model itself had a couple challenges. This was a second-hand model that I had to strip, mostly disassemble, and then reconstruct and smooth out. Unfortunately the previous assembly job used a putty that I couldn't entirely clear and added some textural challenges. Mostly I overcame that stuff though, and other than the join around the tail and one back leg, everything worked out pretty well.

What went well:
* Chiton - I can't express how well that went. I sort of struggled at first, but in the end it really came together when I did some shading using a dark green color and 2BB'd it into the recesses. I chose the dark green because it was an adjacent color to the orange/brown on the color wheel, so rather than just adding black, I added something else. As a result, the shading is quite striking and interesting.
* Teeth and Gums - These worked out well, despite the smallish detail.
* Details - The spots, the rune, and the back ridges are not exceptionally well painted, but they add character to the model that I think really breaks it out from just a sleek monster.

What could have been better:
* Skin - This just stayed frustrating. In the end I added some "stretch marks" and flesh striations to the skin to give it more character. One thing that definitely helped was using dark magenta and 2BB to create the shading of the skin. This was one of those "use a complementary color to shade" things that I've been trying to practice and it worked out quite well I thought.
* Time - I ended up spending a lot of time on this model that I didn't plan on. It really had little to do with the size and more to do with me just obsessing over details and trying to correct my displeasure with various parts and various points in painting it.

In closing, I have to give credit to a couple friends for some good solid feedback on the paint job when I was nearly finished. They confirmed that the skin needed some additional work (at which point I added striations and spots), but that everything else was solid. Jeff especially gave me some really excellent constructive criticism. He has an uncanny ability to leverage his role-player's brain when assessing a model's look and paint job and create a story for the look of the model. It's definitely a skill I want to start practicing.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Legion Crushed and More Photo Improvements

Played a game using my Legion models for the first time this evening. It went poorly battle wise, but I had a great time. My opponent was playing a pretty optimized Cryx list with Coven, 4 arc nodes, Bane Knights, Tartarus, and Bile Thralls. I got completely smoted. Still though, it was entertaining and I learned what all my models could do.

On the photo front I was directed to another good article about miniature photography and it included a link for a gradient image to use as a backdrop. So I downloaded it and printed out a copy to use. This was a quick test of that gradient as a backdrop using the Carvivean I'm working on. I'm seriously liking the gradient backdrop. There's definitely some additional tweaking needed, but this gets me ever further along on my photo quality.

Last item before I pass out from exhaustion, I found this excellent resource for doing color selection. It's a free tool from Adobe and is quite useful. One particular reason I want to use it is to identify the variety of colors in various natural pictures to get a better sense of what colors actually occur. I'm still hunting for a color theory in the class and looking for books on the subject, but for now this is going to be super useful I suspect.

Monday, June 08, 2009

New Lights

This last weekend I took the opportunity to get some new lights for my photo setup. Before I had a ragtag set of 3 different lamps. The bulbs were all different hues and intensities. It created some hue variation in my photos that I couldn't correct for in Picasa which was really annoying. I have replaced those 3 lamps with 2 uniform shop-style clip on lamps with a pair of 60W full spectrum compact fluorescent bulbs. This gives a light spectrum pretty close to my painting desk lamp. I built a small wooden mount for the two lamps to hold them evenly on either side of the lightbox. I snapped a fresh picture of Grim to example the difference in quality.
It may not seem obvious at first glance, but if you look at the old picture closely, you'll see a hue shift on the left side towards the blueish spectrum and more yellow on the right. The new lights have a nice even daylight spectrum. This also eliminates the overhead lamp as well, and without a loss of proper lighting either. Overall, totally worth the $25 spent. Now I just need one of those fancy white-to-blue backdrops that everyone uses!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


This rounds out my initial 350 points of Legion. These Incubi were pretty interesting to paint. I opted to go for sort of a Hellraiser style skinless look for the Incubi under the Nyss skin. Admittedly coming fresh off of KublaCon I ended up spending a lot of time obsessing over small details rather than getting these wrapped up quickly. They aren't really amazing despite the obsessing, but I'm pretty happy with them overall. I've decided that in order to satiate my desire for obsessing over little details I'm going to pick up some models from other lines and always have one on my desk to work on occasionally.

What went well:
* The skinned portions worked out ok, given that I'd never done anything like that before.
* Spines and claws worked out pretty good. I've got a pretty solid formula, but the contrast they provide on these models was a nice visual effect.
* Carapace bits turned out better than I was expecting.

What could have been better:
* Nyss flesh could have been better. It looks a bit flat.
* Transitions between Nyss flesh and Incubi flesh could have been handled better. There are a couple places where I felt like it doesn't have enough definition or contrast.
* Black armor/cloth could have had better highlighting. I sort of took a lazy approach to it.

Anyway, here's a group shot of the Incubi together...

And here's a shot of all 350pts of Legion so far.