Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Pistol Wraith (take 2)

So this was done a while ago but I forgot to post it. Literally it was just a practice model for SketchStyle that I had sitting around waiting for some reason to paint it. Nothing amazing except that this was roughly 75 minutes of painting max.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Claw

So switching back from SketchStyle to my more traditional painting methods, I used Thorn here as a way to re-examine my normal painting method. More about that in my other musings post. This model was just a nice quick break from paying so close attention to practicing SketchStyle.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sonnia Criid

So this one was significantly different from the rest of the crew box. I used this as an opportunity to practice doing OSL with SketchStyle. It was also the first time I used Stynylrez primer, which I sprayed on using my airbrush obviously so that I could put the lighting exactly where I wanted it. From there things were relatively straight forward, and that initial airbrush process made it easy. Where things didn't go as well as they could was the light from the sword. I ended up with it being too bright on her leg. Also the overhead ambient light is a little too bright as well. However all things considered I learned a lot doing this one and feel even more confident.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Samael Hopkins

This one didn't go so well. The sketch for it looked great, but when I got to the step of painting the flesh, everything went wrong. I tried to mix my own flesh tone and he ended up looking undead and just got muddled up. Lesson learned: Don't try to mix my own flesh tones yet. More practice first.

Honestly part of where I set myself up for failure was I was forcing myself to only use my Golden heavy body acrylics, which I have a much smaller range of colors for. I need to practice using all of my paints with SketchStyle. That's probably the real lesson I should be learning here.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Witchling Stalkers

And here's the Witching Stalkers. These were a delight to paint SketchStyle. They have such perfect poses for it. Just everything about these went well and really helped me feel like I have a good handle on SketchStyle now. More on that in future posts though.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Purifying Flame

This is the first of the models I'm painting for a friend for their first Malifaux crew. I agreed to paint the models if I could use them as SketchStyle practice. This one is particularly odd for SketchStyle since it has lots of glow. Still though, it worked out quite well and was super fast. I think this model took me all of about 75 minutes of painting time, not counting priming.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Style: Musings part 1

This post (and future ones titled like this) may not make a lot of sense to others. I'm trying to work through some painting style stuff. These posts are just me working through my thoughts.

After experimenting with SketchStyle so much recently, I've found myself at a difficult impasse. I need to somehow make the process my own by merging it with my existing personal style. SketchStyle was never the end itself, but rather another tool in the toolbox. My existing techniques carry a certain amount of me in them, and I want to preserve that. So first I'm going back to painting a model my "old" way, and thinking about the process very carefully. Specifically I'm painting The Claw from the Malifaux line. Two reasons there: it has lots of good texture that suits my techniques well, and it was already in my paint queue.

So at the stage of this photo, I'd only done 3 layers of paints. 3 on the skin (a thinned base coat, a wash, and a second wash), and 2 on the armor (2 washes). The washes are a common technique for me, and as I was doing this model, I realized there's two big factors in how I take steps: color selection and contrast creation.

Contrast creation is something I like creating by using washes over white primer. It's something I've done for several years now. Ever since I read a Brushthralls article about painting Bane Thralls using many layered washes. I like this because it creates contrast, particularly by picking up the texture of the model. I also like that it naturally creates some amount of irregularities in the coloration.

The color selection is something I don't really know how to explain properly. I tend to look at the hue when I'm picking a wash and try to answer questions about what effect I'm trying to add in. For example in this model, I used Greatcoat Grey over Gun Corps Brown for the washes on the bark armor in order to create a colder wood effect. This model has a backstory of being an aspect of winter in his Queen's court. The cold look helps reinforce that winter look. From here I'm looking at it and I now want to create even more definition to that armor, but I want to preserve the cold wintery look of it. I'm not entirely sure what I'll pick next, but probably something with a cool brown tone to it.

These things together have created a style that my friend Bryan referred to as a "watercolor style". I start with washes to create overall tone and mood and definition of the model, then go in afterwards and use thicker paint and two brush blending to force more shadows and contrast.

Pictured here is further work I did on this model. It's nearing completion. What I added at this point was 2-brush blending in some Coal Black to create deeper shadows. Coal Black is sort of a favorite color for me, and I like using it instead of straight black to create shadows since I feel like it adds more interesting color dynamics. I also added some glazes of Bloodstone in select places as well. Much of this was done to push a more dynamic contrast. The trick here is that I tend to use that mid-tone to further shift the color, and I use the coal black specifically for shadows. It isn't always coal black of course, but I do 2-brush blend the shadow tone into recesses as a part of my "normal" process. This is something that has suddenly come to mind to me as a key ingredient to my painting style that will need to somehow work with SketchStyle.

I'll probably come up with a test model to experiment with next for merging these styles. This mode was a nice project model for reflecing on my old style since it had limited different surfaces and great texture in those surfaces. This allowed me to stay more focused on how I was painting rather than what I was painting.

More musings later.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Why I'm in Love with SketchStyle

Since starting to paint SketchStyle, I've found it to be fairly straight forward. And really throwing myself into it and aiming for speed and practicing the core technique, I've quickly grown to love it. But why exactly?

Well the answer starts with speed, but it's not the obvious reason. Finishing a model fast is certainly a nice sense of accomplishment in terms of getting things done. Beyond that though is the fact that if I'm turning over models quickly, then I feel like I'm more free to experiment. I'm actually more roadblocked by getting models assembled. This whole thing is quite freeing and makes me want to paint even more.

It's also just expanded my skill set. I'm using paints I never used before (heavy body acrylics) and using the wet palette far more than before. I'm thinking more carefully about light and value. I'm being even more accurate and controlled with my brush. Heck, I'm even forsaking trying to watch Netflix while painting and just putting on my headphones and focusing on my painting to a level I've rarely done before. All of this together is both challenging and empowering.

So where do I go from here? Well my next goal is to figure out how to make the SketchStyle technique more of my own. I have no idea what that's going to look like though, so this should be interesting.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Wicked Dolls

This was my second batch of Puppet models and I have to say I really like the look of the basing, specifically the magical wires. I feel like it's a really evocative element. Anyway, these little guys were fairly quick except for going back and painting the stitching. I could have easily spent way more time on them, but I'm trying to avoid getting bogged down.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Feedback Requested

I'm explicitly reaching out to any remaining readers I have out there. Recently I've been debating whether to keep this blog updated so much. A few months ago I posted about having been maintaining this blog for 10 years. Well now I find myself in a situation where I'm using other means like Twitter and Instagram to share my completed works. Although this blog is somewhat helpful from a "documentation" point of view, I'm starting to debate the value in keeping it. So I'd like to solicit opinions. Maybe I should be using Facebook instead? Maybe there's some magical app or tool that makes it easier to cross-post to multiple things at once? Maybe I shouldn't even bother with some of these? I'm honestly curious to hear other ideas.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Corrupted Hounds

More quickly painted models. These were particularly challenging to get glued to bases since they have such disperse and small feet. Fortunately since they are plastic, they are much easier to get glued securely given their low weight. Hopefully they survive on the tabletop.

Monday, March 13, 2017


These little guys were very little. Under 1" tall. Yet they were still pretty fun to paint. I'll admit that I cut some corners on these (particularly the faces), but given the size I was having enough success with thin washes that I didn't want to risk getting in there with a brush to do too much detail and end up screwing up the whole thing. Even with these I feel like I added a couple things that I'm not sure I should have done (altering the color of the shorts).

Sunday, March 05, 2017

From the Desk: Weekend Roundup #144

Still trying to be completely healthy. So lame.

I had intended to write up more this post, but it's going to devolve into just quick notes. First, and most important, I built this lighting arch for my desk! It was pretty cheap to build all things considered: LED lights and power cord from Amazon, aluminum bar and c-clamps from OSH, all for about $60 total. It provides great light, but it does have a different tint (slight blueish) compared to my normal lamp (slight yellowish). However it's not so much that I'm worried about it.

In addition, I got the Sonnia Criid crew on to bases and most of them primed for Sketch Style. I finished a bunch of stuff this last two weeks that finally got posted too. I'm making a bunch of bases at once. Also got my 4 Corrupted Hounds and 3 Wicked Dolls assembled. Finally, I'm nearly done with my 3 Changelings as well.

Total games played this year: 2

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Spawn Mother

So this project was somewhat inspired by a similar translucent Jacob Lynch model that I had seen where the the painter had left parts of the translucent plastic unpainted to create a really cool effect. The Spawn Mother is not exactly the best option for this, but it's the one I decided to try this out with. I opted to leave the webbing parts of his fins and hands as translucent and then paint over the rest of it. The end result is subtle but I like it. However, let's talk about the challenges of this project...

First, the assembly of this model is annoying. There was a big seam on each side of the back which required some covering back up. For that task I actually painted in layers of matte medium, which worked well but it still took some extra painting work to really hide it to a level that I was willing to live with.
Then the next challenge was that since I wasn't priming it as normal, I had to paint directly onto the plastic and that was a tedious task. Eventually once everything was base coated it got much smoother.
Finally, was the task of sealing it, which was extra necessary due to the lack of primer. However with the goal of having the translucent green plastic still be properly translucent, I couldn't matte coat it. I had done some previous experiments on leftover sprue pieces and found that gloss coating it didn't have a net effect on it, so that's what I did carefully. It left the whole model looking rather wet, which ends up working out. All that complaining aside, this project was a really great learning experience and I'm glad I did it. And now I can play the Amphibious Assault scenario!

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Mysterious Emissary

This project really started out of curiosity. I was trying to figure out how to merge this model's pre-designed base with my own Neverborn basing scheme. The base that it came with was pretty necessary for keeping the overall structure of the model, and although I could have ditched it, I felt it was both easier and more interesting to keep it. From there I needed to find a way to merge it with the obsidian plinth style that I've been doing for all my Neverborn models, which wasn't as hard as I expected. Once I reached that point, it became a matter of just plugging away at the project. Eventually it ended up assembled, then primed, then once I started painting it I really found joy in the project. I started with all the wood tones, working in combinations of colors to make it look obviously wooden but more a living wood than looking like dead dried wood. After that I continued on with the vines and leaves, adding complementary life-giving colors. Then I departed hard left, and did the blossoms and nymphs using my Nephilim skin tons. At first I thought I had made a grave mistake, but in the end I like the results. It creates a more otherworldly and sinister feel to this otherwise wholesome nature look.

Painting this model was a unique challenge due to all the entwining of the vines and limbs and such, but I truly did enjoy it. I'm super excited to get this model on the table eventually.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

From the Desk: Weekend Roundup #143

So done with being sick.

I've been sick for 2 solid weeks now and still coughing. It's really hampering my ability to paint in the evenings when I have to take a bunch of pills. I've been trying to scratch out a little painting here and there but the progress is low. I did wrap up the Gupp Swarms and Mysterious Emissary which was nice. The Spawn Mother (pictured here) is almost done too, but I'm giving it a couple days to mull it over before I call it finished. The Changelings are also in progress now, and man are those small models. Beyond that, not much to report.

I was going to write up a review of the new Vallejo weathering paints but I just don't see that happening. They are pretty sweet, and if you can pick up a couple, I highly recommend trying them out.

Anyway, lots of progress this weekend. Got all 9 Gupps primed, made some progress on the translucent Spawn Mother, and lots of progress on the Mysterious Emissary.

A couple weeks ago we wrapped up week 5 of the Malifaux campaign.

Total games played this year: 2

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Gupp Swarms

Nothing amazing here. These little buggers were a bit of a paint to paint as they were small and didn't have a proper sprue to hold them by. I ended up gluing them to a temporary sprue and then popping them off once they were sealed.

Monday, February 20, 2017

SketchStyle Painting Class With Matt DiPietro

This last weekend I had the privilege of attending a 2 day workshop taught by the very talented Matt DiPietro (of Contrast Miniatures). Matt taught all about his "Sketch Style" painting technique. This was an incredible opportunity and definitely ranks among my favorite painting classes every taken. I haven't included all of the random notes from the class, but I do have this photo dump from the 2 days.

This was Matt's introduction to types of contrast, out of which he emphasized that value is the most important when it comes to SketchStyle.
Matt demonstrates priming for Sketching. He starts with quick bursts, waving the can towards the model in the process to do the diffuse lighting. Then picks an angle for directional lighting and does some more focused bursts to add that lighting. This priming step is pretty important. When doing mine, I was worried that I had put too much white on mine, but in the end I found that it was just right.
Here Matt was talking about Value in color. He started by creating a gradient using P3 Morrow White and P3 Thamar Black. Then he extended that gradient even further using artist-grade Titanium White and at the other end a mix of Thamar Black with Indigo ink. Once he established this gradient, he picked random swatches and showed how each color had a value on that gradient scale. This understanding of Value became a foundational piece of the whole class.
Here Matt is doing his Sketch, which involves enhancing the black and white aspects of the priming step. There's really much more to it than that though. He starts by using black to deepen the shadows and create separation between elements. It's important to note that the Thamar Black paint is darker than black primer, so this step really helps push shadows deeper. Next he goes back and starts raising the brighter parts of the sketch with P3 Morrow White, and then after that uses Titanium White sparingly to push the value even further. Matt commented that it's the Titanium White that really helps make the Sketch more "durable" for when the coloring step starts.
These are photos of the model he was working on. His concept was to create a sense of glow from the tablet she's holding, with an additional directional light from behind her to create a contrasted set of lights. At this point he's only added black shadows; all the white is from the priming step.
This is after he's added white. The effect is very striking.
This was a second Sketch he did after the first one. What was great about this one is he did it at his normal speed. We timed him and it was just about 17 minutes. Watching him work at full speed was very helpful since it gave a real sense of how he works his way around the model and what he does to keep his pace moving. Matt's secret: Pandora Dubstep station.
This was my Sketch. The idea here (thanks to Matt's prompting) was to have the coils of the guns be a light source. He also helped me get a better sense of how to handle the cylinder of the gun canister.
Day 2 began with a LOT of discussion about color. He showed us a bunch of gradients and specifically talked about Saturation. To be honest, although I already knew a fair amount about Saturation and Hue, I found his discussion both very education and somewhat over my head. I know that I'll be mentally unpacking a bunch of what he said over the coming months as I put it into practice.
These are from an exercise he gave us. He handed us each a bunch of swatches of colors and instructed us to put them in Value order. Then he told us to take out our phones and take a black and white photo to check our results. I clearly failed at mine, but loved the exercise.
This is an in-progress pair of pictures of Matt's Sketch example. The photos aren't very good, but it illustrates the point. At this point he's using thin glazes to add color over the sketch. It's important to note that the glazes are purposefully thin and the sketch is supposed to show through obviously. Unlike a wash, he's using even coat glazes and getting an entire surface face (black and white).
This is my finished model. I started with the glow effect of the coils and built that up first. From there I did the red canister which is where I felt like I started to really understand the glazing process better. I actually asked Matt to look at the canister effect just to confirm I hadn't made the glaze too thin or thick and he confirmed it was perfect. From there I moved on to the blue armor, then added the yellow. For the yellow, Matt saw I was going to use an Indian Yellow and suggested I also add a second glaze using his Indian Yellow ink afterwards. This really brought the value of the yellow back up more vividly. After that it was freehand details and touch ups. Total painting time, taking out pauses for questions and other such interruptions was probably 2 hours.
This was a model that Matt did full speed from start (just primed) to finish (all color). It took him about 45 minutes (about 15 for the sketch, and 30 for the color), which I watched completely from start to finish. This process was amazing and the fur in particular was really fascinating to watch. The fur was a slightly different process where he used essentially several glazes as washes and wet blended them as he applied them over the fur areas. Again, seeing him paint at full speed was impressive and helpful.
And this is a group shot of all the project pieces from the class.

I'll try to add more notes at a later point in a follow up post, but for now I wanted to get all the pictures up.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

From the Desk: Weekend Roundup #142

Arise like a phoenix my muse!

So progress was pretty light this week unfortunately due to a massively slammed work schedule. Despite that though I am becoming increasingly motivated to paint. This weekend I picked up a bunch of Golden Acrylic heavy body paints in prep for the class with Matt DiPietro in a couple weeks. I'm really excited to learn how to use them. I've also been making progress on a couple projects and generally cleaned up a bunch of loose ends. This blog is not getting a lot of attention, but obviously that is not my primary concern and it will get the attention as appropriate.

Anyway, lots of progress this weekend. Got all 9 Gupps primed, made some progress on the translucent Spawn Mother, and lots of progress on the Mysterious Emissary.

I played a game this last week! Finally my first game of the year. I've got a lot of catching up to do. We played the first game of week 5 of our Malifaux campaign. Man I love playing Malifaux.

Total games played this year: 1

Sunday, January 29, 2017

From the Desk: Weekend Roundup #141

So much insanity everywhere. My muse is distraught.

This week has not been as productive as I'd like. I unfortunately got food poisoning on Friday and that left me a mess for a couple days. Work has been hectic due to my new larger role. And in general I've found myself just quite busy overall. Still though I did manage to get some stuff done. This weekend was largely about getting things assembled and finished up. The Neraph got done, and I finally got caught up on posting stuff to the blog. I also got these small terrain pieces done which were essentially tests for the new Vallego Weathering paints I picked up. I'll try to post a review of them later once I can write that up. In addition I got a bunch of models assembled and/or primed, including: Mysterious Emissary (primed), 3 Changelings (assembled/primed), The Claw (assembled/primed), The Thorn (assembled/primed), Swamp Mother (assembled), and 3 sets of Gupps (assembled). The Swamp Mother is the translucent version and I have a devious scheme in mind for that. I'll post pictures of that project for sure.

I still haven't gotten any games in yet this year and January is pretty much gone. It's been a real challenge, but schedule-wise and mentally to get myself out for a game once my son is in bed.

Total games played this year: 0

And now some completely frivolous musings that can be freely ignored...
My inner artist/hobbyist needs to just get something off his chest at this point. I'm not inviting a discussion here. I have plenty of those going on within social media and real world already. These thoughts are just my artist-self needing a quiet voice.
The pain and fear I see around me lately has become nearly unbearable. So much division, and so many lines of angry and hate. The artist within me weeps for this. It is precisely the diversity of humanity that makes art such a vital medium of communication, and it is precisely the diversity of humanity that art needs in order to truly fire the soul. Without difference, there is only black.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Neraph (take 2)

The Neraph from the starter box. Nothing amazing here. Who knows when I'll actually field 2 Neraphs, but heck, it's painted.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

50 Articles To Read

In case you missed it, this has a really great list of painting articles from 2016: 50 Articles and Tutorials To 'Do Not Miss' From 2016.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Will O The Wisps

These little pretties were both fun and horrific to work on. Getting them assembled quickly revealed that they would be highly fragile on their bases, so I ended up putting pins in them. Then after I was done with assembly and priming, I discovered that the massive vertical seams hadn't closed all the way. I managed to mostly hide that with some painting tricks though and the end result worked out ok.
When I was painting them I wanted to stick fairly close to the artwork, but I wanted to make them more spooky. I had seen an example posted on one of the Facebook groups where the person had made the faces more stark white, so I shamelessly stole that bit of inspiration. I made their faces skeletal and hollow, but kept the rest of the body with the sort of glowing look and modulated the color towards dark purple at the bottom. The wings are where I went much more different, and I still have mixed feelings there. However I feel like I did a pretty good job of nailing the "spooky" look.

Monday, January 23, 2017


There is simply no good angle to photograph this model from. It's just wild. The original version of this model has a miner with a pistol and lamp who is meant to be casting the shadow that the Bandersnatch is coming out of. I opted to exclude the miner just simply because I felt it drew attention from the Bandersnatch itself. I'm honestly quite glad that I did too. I also tried to work with the original art in terms of the colors for it, which turned out to be an interesting challenge.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

From the Desk: Weekend Roundup #140

Finally getting a desk post in...

I've been slacking pretty bad on the blog here in this new year. I'm finally gaining steam on painting, but it's still feeling like a bit of an uphill struggle. I've got a couple other things done that I just haven't photographed and posted yet. The Neraph here is in progress and would have been my last unpainted Legion model if there wasn't a bit of an accident at my FLGS the other day, where I picked up the Grotesque Assassin and Nyss Warlord. I'm honestly not quite sure why I got them since I'm not planning to play WM/H anytime in the next couple months.

I picked up four Vallejo weathering paints the other day to experiment with. I'll post a couple examples later this week but my first impression is pretty positive.

Total games played this year: 0