Sunday, November 30, 2008

Master Gunner Dougal MacNaile

This rounds out my November goal for myself. The Master Gunner himself. Overall I can't say I especially enjoyed this model. It had an awful lot of detail for such a small figure. I don't mind too much detail, but this one was quite busy with details. It made it difficult to do the model justice. Admittedly, I did decide to call it quits fairly early. However, this rounds out my remaining mercs, and he is a badass on the battle field. Not only does this close out my unpainted mercs, but I met my November goal, which feels good. I'm getting quite fond of setting monthly goals as a way to pace myself.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cephalyx Slaver

This model got a bit of an unplanned bump in my painting schedule. I'd been eyeballing it for a while and love the look of it, but and planned to wait until I was ready to do the whole squad of Cephalyx Drudges as well. However, I finally couldn't resist the itch to paint it and got him primed and prepped the other day. Poor Dougal is in progress still while this guy got preferential treatment.
I pretty much followed the painting advice in No Quarter #14 for this one. However there were a few differences. First, I added some shading to the deeper folds using armor wash, and shaded some of the lower sections as well. Second, since the article didn't have any advice on the metals, I decided to start using a basecoat of Pig Iron, then a heavy Metal Wash, then actually paint over the lower portions using Thamar Black in order to make the metal look like very dark iron. Then I picked out highlights using Cold Steel. The hinge points got Blighted Gold and Shining Gold treatments to make them stand out and give the metal arms a little more character.
Due to holiday visitors, I had to tear down my photo setup and reassemble it today. Unfortunately, I seem to have gotten the lighting positioning wrong. So the color balance is a little off, but not terrible. You can see how the right side of all the pictures is a little more yellowing from the tungsten bulbs, but the left side is more balanced (due to sunlight bleed from the window through the curtains). I had the same problem with the Gandalf model I just posted a moment ago. Anyway, it's still not too shabby.


This was a gift project for a friend of mine. She'd asked for Gandalf long ago, and I finally got around to doing it. Yay for early Christmas! Nothing super fancy here, as the model doesn't have a high level of detail. Overall though, the simplicity of the model allowed me to focus on blending and color practice. I did some more of the hue variations on the cloak in order to experiment with giving it more depth. And then of course, with the base, I sorta went to town and put together something much more extravagant than necessary.
Anyway, here he is, in all is LoTR glory... Gandalf the Grey!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Midwinter (take 2)

There's a time for speed painting. There's a time for detailed paint jobs. And then, there's a time for experimentation. This was one of those times. Now as a disclaimer, it's important to note that I never expected this to turn out great. I expected to fail miserably.

The Vision: I'd always been inspired by this paintjob. The OSL work is remarkable, and the limited palette makes for a really compelling piece. For some time now, I've wanted to try my hand at something like this.

The Setup: Again, I knew full well that it would not turn out even remotely close to what EricJ did. He's so far out of my league that there's several leagues between us. But, I firmly believe that the difference between an average painter and a good painter is that the former settles for what he can do, and the latter forces himself to push his limits and learn new things. This was me trying to push my limits and move out of my comfort zone. I've dabbled in OSL before, but this was a gigantic departure from what I'd done before.

The Canvas: I chose Midwinter to use for this experiment. He seemed an obvious choice, and since I'd already done one before, it seemed like a good opportunity to experiment.

The Results: Well, I give myself a B for effort, and a D for execution. I could have easily put more effort into this, but it was uncharted territory. I decided early on that I'd just dive right in and study it after I finished. The reason is that until the whole piece is done, it's hard to really analyze the overall OSL effect.
I used a total of 8 different paints for this model, counting black and white. I used no washes, and no inks.
I'm not too happy with the overall brightness balance. The OSL broke down for me in application when I needed to start thinking about distance and incidence angles and such. Clearly an area where I could use more practice, but it was quite the learning experience.
The lighting on the ground has too sharp of an edge to it also. It could have benefited from a little fuzzing to make it more realistic.
The runes on the back turned out pretty well I think. I opted for smaller runes to include more of them, but the implementation would have been the same if I'd done larger ones.
The center of the model, around the amulet on his chest and such, tended to get a little muddled. This could have been more crisp, but it was a facet of the model that I didn't anticipate when I chose it. The OSL is really hard to handle in those little details.

The Photos: Ok, here I had a huge failure. The photos aren't terrible, but they could obviously be much better. I have no experience photographing dark models like this, and particularly in a situation where it really should have a black background instead of gray. So, I tried a couple different versions for comparison purposes. Both sets are bad, but it'll give you a general idea of how the model looks.

Overall: It was nice to do this as an experiment, and I certainly learned a lot by doing it. I'm glad I didn't dwell on it too much either. It will look strange on the battlefield, but I could care less about that.

To my readers: If there are any of you out there, I'd appreciate feedback on this experiment. Let me know what you notice that doesn't look good and leave a comment. I'm very interested to get others' perspectives.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Company Halt!

Well, the last week was pretty hectic, and now that the weekend rolled around, I ended up doing a ton of painting. I probably used over a gallon of paint in fact. Instead of miniatures though, I was helping my wife paint our stairwell and upstairs hallway. As she put it, "Since you like painting so much, how about you help me paint!", and so I did. Work has been severely kicking my ass and leaving me a vegetable in the evenings, and I was a little burnt out after painting Grim that this was a nice break. Hopefully I can find my muse again tomorrow.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Grim Angus

This model rocks. Plain and simple. I loved painting it. It's a great pose with a good level of detail. Everything was easy to get to on the model as well, which made it pleasant to spend an excessive amount of time on it. In fact, this guy got a much higher level of quality treatment than anything else for the last couple months. It was nice to slow down and spend extra time on this. It was also nice to paint a troll again, given that I hadn't painted one for quite a long time now.
I spent a fair amount of time working the metals on this model, as I've been prone to do lately. I really have found that the extra work really pays off. It gives the metals more "forced" contrast and helps create a better sense of surface. It also helps in the end product after I've sealed it so that the dullcoat effect doesn't flatten the entire thing.
I'm still not feeling very good about my zenithal highlighting skills, but it's coming along. It's just hard to think that way still. The face could have used a bit more work too, as the highlights seem to be much less dramatic than everything else. I won't even comment on the shirt/pants except to say that for some reason the color rubs me the wrong way, but I can't pin down why.
Something I did very different this time, best exampled in this third picture, is use a lot more color hue variation in several areas. The jacket is a good example. I used primarily brown-based colors, but varied between green tones and red tones as I went. I focused more on choosing hues carefully than blending. In the end, the blending turned out to be less important as the variations in hue created a sort of unique blending effect of its own. This was a real branch out for me, and required much more attention to color choice for me. I'm very happy with the result though, and looking forward to experimenting more with this.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

November Happiness

It occurred to me this afternoon while painting that my "challenge" for October was totally blown out of the sky. I had intended to just finish Kraye, the Vassal and the Redeemer. In addition to those 3, I also painted 10 Bane Thralls and Deneghra! Somehow I got my groove back and hadn't noticed. Granted, many of those were "speed painted", but I did get a lot of models painted, and to my own tabletop standards.

So, November brings with it the promise of time to paint (as work will be hopefully calming down soon), and the threat of holiday activities. In light of that, I'm going to set a new challenge for myself. My goal is to paint Grim, Midwinter, Dougal, and one other as yet unspecified model. I'm going to aim for quality over quantity in this batch. Hopefully I'll get more painted than just 4 models, but this is my goal.

On a side note, I did some swapping with Lance to get his Legion box set models along with Thagrosh. I've been fancying some of the Legion models for a while so this felt like a first step towards that doom. Legion will likely end up being similar to Cryx for me in that I'll select models I like and aim for a balance of quality and speed.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

From the Painting Desk: Detail Management

I'm nearing completion on Grim and figured I'd post a picture. The nice thing about doing laundry is there's plenty of excuse to spend the time painting between changing loads. So I've spent the majority of the day painting and made a ton of progress on Grim. After finishing the Vassal, I'm even more in the mood to spend excessive time on a single model working for higher quality. Grim is turning into a great project. Some parts are not so good, but other parts (like the coat) turned out really good I think, although this quick pic from my desk doesn't show it well enough. I used a lot more variation in color tones and achieved an interesting effect.

On a side note, I figured I'd share a tip that I've found handy. When I'm working on a model that has many little details (like Grim), I find that it helps to keep a list of details left to do. Usually I don't start this list until about two thirds of the way toward completion. Often I'll make the list pretty detailed and then scratch them off as I do them. Sometimes as I continue to paint I'll spot other bits that I hadn't written down (hence starting the list at about 2/3 done). Below is an example list for Grim:
  • Goggles Strap
  • Belt Pouch
  • Extra Nets
  • Net Gun
  • Rifle Blade
  • Rifle Scope
  • Rifle Trigger
  • Rifle Runestone
  • Shoe Armor
  • Shoulder Armor
  • Glove Runes
  • Glove Armor
  • Bottle
  • Coat Runestone
  • Backpack Runestone
  • Buckle