Friday, December 30, 2011

From the Desk: An alligator, a Sorceress, and a Gun Mage walk into a bar...

... and the bartender says "Hey gator! What's with all the guns!?!"

Ok, sorry, not a great joke. Seriously though, look at this lineup of models I'm working on. I hadn't noticed it until this morning. I heard on Boosted Damage about how there was an increase in bust size for the Legion ladies, but Tarin here really takes the cake. In any case, it's more painting progress.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

From the Desk: Yay for Vacation!

I'm actually painting again, and not just a little. I'm getting a good 2 hours of painting in each day lately. It helps that I'm on vacation. I'm pretty focused on eVayl right now since it's my only unpainted Legion model, but also because it's a really sweet model. So far I'm enjoying painting this model since everything is fairly accessible. There's some awkward places to reach though, like her left cheek and the joins between her cape and back. However so far things are going smoothly. Not picture here is further progress on the Bull Snapper, and I started Tarin last night as well.

I found a little extra motivation recently when I put in my model collection into iBodger and noted what was painted and what wasn't. Even though I update my blog with that information, the iBodger representation gave me a different perspective by showing percentages:
  • Legion - 99.0% painted
  • Protectorate - 98.0% painted
  • Mercenaries - 97.4% painted
  • Cryx - 95.6% painted
  • Cygnar - 87.5% painted
  • Minions - 30.8% painted
It was easy to look at the various factions and see 1 or 2 unpainted models and just skip over them. But these percentages really strike a nerve in my inner completionist. Time to harness that OCD energy!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

From the Desk: Legion Metals

My buddy Lance suggested that I should do a blog post about how I painted the metals on Belphagore, so here it goes. This process is pretty straightforward, but somewhat lengthy. I'm not going to show any in-progress shots obviously since Belphagore is already done. First, let's look at the finished product...

I like to have a good pop to my metals overall, but I'm not a huge fan of non-metallic metals (NMM). So to accomplish a good amount of distinction between metal surfaces, I have to somewhat force and exaggerate the look of the metal plates. My end goal is to have metal that is shaded to represent a normal zenithal highlighting look, but still preserve enough metallic appearance so that it doesn't look overly forced. For this model I also wanted to introduce a little bluish tint to the recesses just to create a little more style. It gives the metal enough variation and interest to the eye.

Ok, so that's the end goal. Now to talk about the process. For the benefit of those who haven't read my older posts about philosophies on metallics, I'm going to go into some detail here on my reasoning. This reasoning has evolved over time and I am sure it will continue to evolve yet further. So here's the process I went through as I remember it for this model:
  1. Basecoat black - I always basecoat my metallic surfaces black first, especially if I primed white. I just find that it helps the metallics to reflect a little better.
  2. Basecoat GW Boltgun Metal - GW makes some of the best metallics out there for my personal style. I start with this darker metallic tone as the basecoat. This is a pretty sketchy basecoat too. A few missed or thin spots helps with the look of the armor I feel.
  3. Wash GW Badab Black - I'm so addicted to this stuff. I use it all the time for metallics. It just helps get those recesses dulled back down and create good separation. This wash doesn't need to be even. It just needs to hit recesses real good. Nothing blows the look of metallics like deep corners that are reflecting light.
  4. Heavy wash GW Asurmen Blue - This is just applied to the recessed sections. This technique works well for Circle armor as well, except using the green wash over bronzes. As I recall, I did at least 2 coats of this wash.
  5. Re-basecoat GW Boltgun Metal - Now I go back and use thinned Boltgun to "re-basecoat" the raised portions of the plates. I use a thinner version of this to keep it from getting too bright. Again, I'm attempting to force some shading here and reinforce the zenithal highlight effect by not lightening up the surfaces that are pointed more downwards.
  6. 2BB VMC Black - Now I do some very deep forced shading by two brush blending in some slightly thinned black into recesses and on lower plates that should be darker.
  7. Highlight GW Boltgun Metal - Now I start working highlights back up. Nothing revolutionary here, just hitting the higher angled plates that would get more light from above.
  8. Highlight GW Mithril Silver - Same as the previous step, just less area being highlighted.
  9. Highlight VMC Metallic Medium - Again, just like previous step. Note that the metallic medium is crazy bright and has no black pigment in it at all. I try to reserve this for specific points.
And there you have it! A mere, uh, 13 steps! Honestly I feel like time invested in metallics, even just 4 steps (basecoat, 1 wash, 1 shade, 1 highlight) really pays off in the long run.

Monday, December 26, 2011

From the Desk: Albino Gators (part 2)

Merry Christmas to me! "Santa" brought me gators just like I suspected. The PP bundle was a pretty sweet gift since the only duplicates to what I already had were the Bull Snapper (for which 2 isn't a problem), and the Totem Hunter (which I may opt to paint a new one of anyway since I screwed up the base on the previous one). In addition to the bundle my buddies Henry and Lance got me the other 2 gator warlocks (Calaban and Maelok) which gives me the full spread. So I've gone from just a few unpainted items to a whole new faction. Yikes! Fortunately the Gators don't amount to a huge model count. A grand total of 15 models at this point.

I still have a number of decisions to make in terms of creating a cohesive looking force, which is my commitment in taking on gators.
First decision: basing. I'm going to do swamp bases, similar to what I did for my Swamp Gobbers. It will require a significant amount more work, but when the model count is so low it's easier to swallow. Plus I have a couple secret weapons to speed up the effort.
Second decision: theme color. I need something extra to tie together the army besides just being albinos in swamps. I like to include a color throughout the army. I'm still not decided on this. The Bull Snapper test somewhat forced me to re-think this color choice, primarily because he doesn't have anything else on him other than skin. I'm still kicking this one around.

One last note, after my previous post, my buddy Mike sent me a link to a BoLS post about speed painting albino gators which I hadn't seen before. It's an interesting read, but honestly I don't see myself using any of his techniques. It did however help me visualize an entire army of these guys, which I'm liking more and more.

Ok, time to get trimming and assembling!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

From the Desk: Albino Gators

Twas the night before Christmas,
and upstairs in my place,
I frantically struggled
to paint line an ace!

The gator was chomping away at my brush,
and I felt like my skills had turned into much.

Ok, sorry, not a very good rhyme. Honestly this whole post is going to be a pretty weak display of talent, so please bear with me. I'm also using this post as a way to track what I did as a part of this project before I lose the piece of paper I scribbled my notes on.

A couple weeks ago my wife asked what I wanted for Christmas and I half jokingly showed her the Privateer Blindwater Congregation Holiday Bundle which had caught my eye. It's not like I was looking to start another faction, but I told her if she thought the models looked cool that she could get that for me. Low and behold, I happened to spot a package arrive from PP a few days later. With the knowledge that I would end up with Gators to paint, I picked up a Bull Snapper as a test model and set about trying something quite different.

I wanted my gators to stand apart from all the other gators out there, so I kicked around a bunch of theme ideas. Fire (already done), lightning (still intriguing, but crazy), stone (boring), pink (pass). In the end, I came up with an idea of an albino. I started scouring the web for pictures of albino alligators and came across this excellent gallery of small albino alligators. Inspiration in hand, I set about forming a plan. The pictures are unfortunately set up to prevent download, so I couldn't import them into Kuler to analyze more closely. Fortunately a fellow painter/player told me about a Firefox plugin called Rainbow that lets you analyze colors right there in the browser. These pictures are the results of my first experiment.

So what did I use for the main skin? Well, here's my rough notes of the process:
  1. Thin P3 Moldy Ochre wash
  2. Thin P3 Midlund Flesh wash
  3. Thin P3 Ordic Olive wash
  4. Medium MWH drybrush over scales
  5. Thin P3 Carnal Pink wash in limited places
  6. Thin P3 Battle Dress Green wash in limited places
  7. Slightly thinned RMS Jade Green stippled in key areas
  8. Thin P3 Thornwood green wash in limited places to shade
  9. Thin P3 CBB+Sanguine Base wash in limited places to shade
  10. Thinned MWH to highlight
I'm still not completely sold on the effect. I think it's going to take a few more tries to really dial it in. But for a first attempt, I'm not terribly disappointed. I definitely have a bunch more work to do on this model though before I'm going to call it done.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Solar System: Neptune

And I'm done! I'll include a photo of the assembled mobile after Christmas when I hang it up. Neptune was frustrating at first to paint, but then I did some crazy stuff. I did a wash of blue on it, which I started to not like while it was still wet, so I dunked it in my rinse water. After adding some whooshing clouds (technical term) it ended up pretty good I think. Not bad for averaging under an hour of painting time per planet.
  • Neptune, like Uranus, has only been visited by one spacecraft: Voyager 2 in 1989.
  • Neptune was discovered in 1846.
  • Even though you couldn't stand on the surface of Neptune (since it's a gas giant), if you could you would experience nearly identical gravity as on Earth.
  • Neptune's planet Triton was probably a captured satellite, inferred by it's retrograde orbit.
  • The winds on Neptune can reach a ridiculous 2,100 km/hr.
The Nine Planets
Universe Today

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Solar System: Uranus

I'm getting close to done, and just in time for Christmas!
  • Uranus wasn't discovered to be a planet until March 13, 1781.
  • Uranus has only been visited by a single spacecraft: Voyager 2 in 1986.
  • Uranus spins on an axis nearly perpendicular with its axis of rotation around the sun. When visited by Voyager 2, its south pole was pointed towards the Sun.
  • There are rings around Uranus, but they, like its axis of rotation, are nearly perpendicular to its orbit around the Sun.
  • Even though it isn't the farthest planet out, it is the coldest planet in our solar system (below -200 C).
The Nine Planets
Universe Today

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Solar System: Saturn

And now the famous Saturn. Interestingly Saturn is similar in composition to Jupiter. If it wasn't for Saturn's famous rings, it would probably be quite forgotten as a result of being so similar to Jupiter. However I found that I enjoyed painting Saturn far more than Jupiter.
  • Saturn was first visited by Pioneer 11 in 1979.
  • Saturn's specific gravity is 0.7, which means it would float in water (assuming you could find a big enough pond to put it in.
  • Despite spanning a diameter of over a quarter million kilometers, the rings of Saturn are less than 1000 meters thick. Those rings are made primarily of water in ice form.
  • Always overshadowed by Jupiter, Saturn has the second most satellites, currently counting at 62.
  • Saturn's day is a mere 10.5 hours, and that rapid spin actually translates to forces that cause the planet to shape into a flattened ball (wider than it is tall).
  • One of Saturn's moons (Enceladus) has ice geysers, which has the implication of potentially being the home of some form of life.
The Nine Planets
Universe Today

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Solar System: Jupiter

Jupiter was not my favorite planet to paint. It's big, and the patterns were really hard to replicate. I also had trouble finding consistent photos. In the end I just decided to paint it interestingly and move on.
  • Jupiter was first visited by Pioneer 10 in 1973.
  • Although the 4 larger moons are fairly well known (Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto), there are at least 59 other smaller moons.
  • Jupiter's Great Red Spot is a swirling storm 26,000 km across. To put that in perspective, that's more than twice the diameter of the Earth.
  • Jupiter is approximately 90% hydrogen and 10% helium.
  • Despite only having "trace" amounts of rock by mass and volume, Jupiter's core is probably rock consisting of 10 to 15 "Earths" worth of mass. Trace apparently means ~2% or less (by mass).
  • Outside of the core is the main bulk of the planet, consisting of (get this) liquid metallic hydrogen.
  • The different bands that surround the surface of Jupiter are clouds. Each band is actually blowing in opposite directions from its adjacent bands.
  • As gas giants go, Jupiter is about as big as it gets. Adding more material wouldn't significantly increase its size due to the gravitational compression.
  • Jupiter has dark rings, a huge magnetic field, emits more energy outward than it receives from the Sun, and generally just has a lot going on.
The Nine Planets

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Solar System: Mars

I'm playing catch up now. I actually did Mars after painting Jupiter, but I am determined to post them in order. For painting Mars I decided to try and simulate the canals that run over the surface, so I used a stippling technique with some slightly thinned paint to create an irregular streaked pattern. It sort of worked. Good enough for galactic work at least.
  • The first spacecraft to visit Mars was Mariner 4 in 1965. Mars has been the destination for many spacecraft and landers for over 45 years now.
  • Despite being half the diameter of Earth, Mars has twice as many moons (Phobos and Deimos) and a volcano (Olympus Mons) which is 4 times has tall as Everest, which also happens to be the largest mountain in the entire solar system.
  • Mars has a very thin atmosphere with about 1% the atmospheric pressure of Earth. It is composed of mostly carbon dioxide.
  • Despite the thin atmosphere, strong winds can cause dust storms that engulf the entire surface of the planet for up to a month at a time.
  • Mars has polar ice caps at both poles, composed of both water and carbon dioxide (dry ice)
The Nine Planets

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Solar System: Earth

Earth was probably the most fun to paint so far. There's tons of reference photos for it. Oh, and in answer to a question that was posted in one of the comments, these planet "models" are not smooth. The "sculpts" have raised sections on them to represent the patterned surfaces of the planets. The intention of the kit is to do a paint-by-numbers type of thing. I of course have abandoned the simple and added more personal fun to the project. The raised sections for Earth come in handy for obvious reasons. Anyway, without further ado, here's some little known facts about our home planet...
  • Due to erosion and tectonic activity, the Earth literally replaces its crust every half billion years, erasing any past geological history such as crater impacts.
  • The Earth's composition (by mass) is approximately 1/3 iron and 1/3 oxygen.
  • Earth is the only planet in the solar system where water can exist in liquid form on the surface.
  • The Moon's gravitation is actually causing the Earth's rotation to slow very gradually (2 milliseconds per century). That means in another 180 million years, we'll get an extra hour in each day for painting and playing!
The Nine Planets

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Solar System: Venus

For all of those on the IABN feed wondering why you're getting these posts: I'm sorry. I'm not sure why these are showing up. It's only supposed to pick up posts from my blog with IABN tags.

Venus! Talk about an unpleasant place to visit. It's probably the most inhospitable planet in our solar system. I actually really enjoyed painting this one. I used a combination of washes and streaking and stippling to create the look of the whirling clouds that cover the entire surface of the planet. Speaking of which, let's take a look at some fun Venus facts...
  • Venus is the brightest object in Earth's sky after the Sun and Moon.
  • The surface of Venus is not visible through the complete cloud cover. These clouds are droplets of sulfuric acid, and they are pushed around constantly by permanent hurricane force winds.
  • Venus' atmosphere is crushing at 90 atmospheres of pressure. That's the equivalent of being half a mile underwater on earth.
  • It takes Venus 243 Earth days for it to complete one of its own days. In addition, it rotates backwards from Earth and has no magnetic field.
  • Venus is a mere 5% smaller than Earth, and has a similar composition as Earth.
  • Venus was first visited in 1962 by the Mariner 2 spacecraft.
The Nine Planets

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Solar System: Mercury

Mercury! The first planet in our solar system. Researching pictures for Mercury had me suspicious for a while since they all appeared to be black and white. Then I discovered that's because it's just a big rock! Let's learn more...
  • Mercury's day lasts for a Mercury year and a half. Alaska's got nothing on these long days.
  • Mercury has no atmosphere because it all got boiled away from being so close to the Sun.
  • One side of Mercury is 430 C, and the other is -180 C. The slow rotation keeps the hot side hot, and the cold side cold. This makes for the most extreme temperature variations of any planet in our solar system.
  • If it wasn't for the gravitational compression that the Earth exerts on itself, Mercury would be the densest planet in our solar system.
  • Mercury was first visited by the Mariner 10 spacecraft in 1974.
The Nine Planets
Universe Today
National Geographic

Solar System: The Sun

Here's the first solar body for the mobile project for my son. I figured for my own education I'd spend a little time learning about each one as I went along, so rather than the normal painting type of post, these will be mini-educational posts! I'm sure most of you have already closed the window now, but for those of you still interested, here are fun facts I learned about the Sun!
  • The sun accounts for 99.8% of the mass in our solar system.
  • It's approximately 4.5 billion years old, which is about middle aged for its expected lifespan.
  • It's composed of about 70% hydrogren, 28% helium, and the rest is assorted metals. If you do the math, there's more than 10 times more metal in the Sun than in the entire rest of our solar system.
  • The Sun's light comes from the fusion reactions taking place, where hydrogen is turned into helium.
  • The Sun's output isn't constant. During a period of time in the 17th century, the Sun was less "active" and it caused a mini ice age on Earth.
The Nine Planets

Sunday, November 27, 2011

From the Desk: Project Solar System

I'm starting a different sort of painting project now. My wife got a solar system kit for my son. He is of course too young to put it together himself, so I've been tasked with assembling and painting it. So rather than taking a quick and dirty approach to it using the very low quality craft paints and terrible brush, I figured I would use it as an opportunity to learn more about the planets and to paint something a little different. I'll be posting progress as I work my way through the planets.

Monday, November 21, 2011

5 Years of Blogging!!!!!

5 years ago on this day I started this blog. My intention was a simple one: to keep myself motivated on my painting. Little did I know how valuable it would be to have this blog. It has served as far more than just motivation, but at its core, it has been incredibly motivational. I've suffered through multiple burnouts, entered multiple painting competitions, and relished many finished projects here. So please indulge me as I step into the WABAC machine and review the journey briefly...

What would a review be without some good old fashioned stats!
Total models painted: 323 (that's almost 1 model per week)
Total posts: 524 (that's about twice a week)
Published comments: 304
Current average hits per day: about 70 (Thank you IABN!)

Painting Skill:
I picked one of the first models I posted and one of the most recent. The difference is pretty striking. I'm honestly quite happy with how my skills have progressed given that this is still just a hobby for me. Painting Alexia way back then was a pretty big challenge. Putting her side-by-side with Rhyas is no contest. My blending is smoother, my metalics are far superior, my brush accuracy is better, and finally I'm sure I spent less time on Rhyas than I did on Alexia.
Basing is also something I go the extra mile on now. It's not enough to just flock and forget now. Even basic troopers get some sort of hand-made decoration to their bases. Overall I feel like I've struck a good balance of improving my quality while still getting models completed. If anything, that's the one thing that hasn't changed. Unless I'm painting for a competition, I like to keep moving on to strike a good balance between quality and completions.

General Blogging:
When I first started, blogging was pretty awkward. And my pictures were terrible to say the least. I'm certainly no master now, but after this many posts I've become much more comfortable with throwing up random posts. I've also learned how to take better pictures, make better use of Blogger, optimize the whole blog entry process to minimize the impact to hobby time, and generally feel competent about sharing my thoughts.

Final Thoughts:
First, I want to actually thank all the folks out there that posted good comments. Second, I can look back on the last 5 years of blogging for this hobby and really appreciate the investment in it. Third and finally, to all the other hobby bloggers out there, keep at it! The inspiration out there is part of what makes this hobby stay fresh for so long. Here's to 5 more years of painting like we have a pair!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bethayne, Voice of Everblight

This wraps up my current unpainted Legion models, and (until eVayl comes out) a complete set of all the warlocks and beasts. The pictures here are a little dull for some reason, despite shooting them multiple times. The metal for her blades is highly washed out. I really need an overhead light.

This model was pretty fast and easy to paint, with the exception that her right hand is covering her chest and made it a little rough to get in there with the brush. However the rest of it went pretty well. I gave her a much darker skin tone that most of the other warlocks, mainly to give a bit more color contrast with the rest of the surfaces. The blue/black leathers and metals needed some contrast so the darker skin tone pushes more into the purple to help achieve that.
Painting both Bethayne and Belphagore at the same time turned out to make things much easier. They had a lot of common surfaces to paint, but each one had more of one type of surface than the other in general. For example, Bethayne's flesh is much more obvious than Belphagore's, whereas Belphagore's armor is clearly more prominent than Bethayne's. So painting process wise it worked out well because I could mix paint and concentrate more on one than the other as I worked each section.

Well, that's it for today. My desk is remarkably barren at this time so I need to get to work assembling something to paint next, provided I don't get distracted further by reading Domination.


This will just be a really quick post since I'm going to post Bethayne right away as well. Technically they aren't really "done" since I haven't sealed them yet. But since they are completed and I'm just waiting for my shipment of sealer come in I figured I'd go ahead and post them. After my recent experience with the Krylon satin sealer, I've decided to go back to my tried and true Testors double coating. Anyway, another post coming right up!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

From the Desk: Paired Painting

Quick desk update here. I'm painting Bethayne and Belphagore together so that they match in color scheme as much as possible. The colors used are identical, but the patterning and shading has some variances in how it was applied. Overall though they are pretty consistent so far.

I'm not entirely sure why these pictures turned out so blue-ish, but it gives a general idea of the progress. I tried to do a little color correction, but honestly I think my background caused most of the problem and it turned the whole "touch-up" exercise into a level of effort far beyond a "from the desk" type of post.

This pair represents the last of my unpainted Legion at this point, although I am anxiously awaiting the release of eVayl at the end of the month. I was hoping to have these done before the end of the week since our Foodmachine tournament is this Saturday, but with the Domination book release today I may not get much painting done for the next couple days.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hex Hunters and Bayal, Hound of Everblight

Hex Hunters finally done! No fancy post today. I'm totally sick with the flu. Perhaps I'll muster enough energy to paint a bit, but not enough to go into normal detail about these guys.
These were actually nice sculpts to paint. I think in hindsight I should have painted Bayal separately and spent a bit more time on him so that he really stood out better.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Rhyas, Sigil of Everblight

Next up in my catch-up postings is Rhyas. She's both ninja and warcaster and all around pretty awesome. I have to say that this model was easy to really pour my time into. Everything was easily accessible for painting, and there's great delineation of the various surfaces which makes the model very readable. When I was painting Rhyas I kept Saeryn on my desk as well so that I could try to get these two to match as much as possible. I have to say I'm quite pleased at how well the pair goes together.

One specific thing that worked really well on this model was the black leather. I feel like the color tone and shading all worked out better than most other Legion models I've done so far. Now admittedly I spent a fair amount of time on it and wouldn't use this same detailed process on a unit, it was still a good step forward for me.

Next up will be the Hex Hunters!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Kallus, Wrath of Everblight

Here's Kallus! This was an intriguing model to paint. On the one hand this is a relatively simple model to paint in that most of the surface is metalics. On the other hand, I wanted to paint Kallus so that he stood out well and the various areas were easily readable by the eye. With so much area being metalics, there's a unique challenge to make the distinct metalic areas pop and stand out from each other, and yet keep all the non-metalic surfaces in balance as well. Thus I tried to get a good balance of contrast and brightness between the metalics and the non-metalics. I also tried to use forced shadows to make the metalic areas readable from each other.

So did I succeed? Well you can be the judge. I feel like I half succeeded. Some portioned worked out well like the skirt and hair. Other surfaces like the hands and hilt didn't work quite so well, but were ok. The face however was really hard to get to and so I don't feel like it worked out nearly as well.
Next up will be Rhyas!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Vladimir, Dark Prince of Umbrey

Attention Komrades! Tonight vee dine on victory! Vee have krushed our enemies! Vee have stolen zier vomen! Vee have pillaged zier fortifikations! Vee... Ahem! Sorry. Got carried away there. Let's try that again...

Good evening and welcome to what I hope will be a much more regular posting schedule for the remainder of this month. I've gotten my life back into a better semblance of being organized and that means I can spend a little more time on my painting hobby (including posting).

Vlad here was actually a (belated) birthday gift for my buddy Henry. I enjoy fueling his Khador obsessions (not just because it gets him away from playing Cryx) and Vlad was the latest way to do that. This sculpt is actually the Hurricane Katrina sculpt from long ago. I've had this model sitting in my box for ages, and finally got around to painting it. I would have finished it a couple weeks ago but I got sidetracked and stalled on basing it, so things got excessively delayed.

Overall it's not a terrible sculpt, but definitely not great from a painting point of view. I don't really fancy the dagger arm being flat against his body, and the face was a real pain to get at for detail work. Overall this isn't close to a best paint job, but some parts worked pretty well. I'm especially happy with how the bronzes turned out overall. I used a lot of tonal variation on them using inks to help make them pop.
The red plating was a bit of a shading challenge for me. Normally I would use a complimentary color to shade with, but for these plates I wanted to try keeping the hue the same to emphasize them being enameled armor plates.
The color scheme was directly taken from Henry's other Khador models, just with darker colors to reflect Vlad's brooding nature.

One annoyance doing this model was the final sealing step. I'd gotten a tip of using Krylon satin sealer instead of the Testors gloss/dull coats. So of course I decided to try it out on this model. Unfortunately I put slightly too thick of a coat on it and it made the model a bit gritty. I've done some further tests and the satin coat seems to work fine, just in a lighter coat than I did with the Testors coats.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Battle Report: Play It Out

As I hoped, painting progress last night was suspended in order to get a game in! 25pts of experimental mayhem always makes for a fun time. I hadn't tried Rhyas yet despite her being painted and ready to go for weeks now.

The Lists (25pts):
Me: Rhyas, Carnivean, Protector, Harrier, Shredder, 10 Legionnaires, 5 Incubi
Lance: Venethrax, Nightmare, 10 Mechanithrals w/ 3 Brute Thralls, 10 Blood Witches w/ Blood Hag, Necrosurgeon, Necrotech, Bloat Thrall

This was my first time fielding Rhyas, so I wasn't really going in with a game plan. I just wanted to put Rapport on the Carnivean and see it go to town. I was also hopeful to leverage her feat to drop the Carnivean on my opponent's caster. When we actually deployed and I saw the sea of infantry and read Venethrax's abilities, I nearly surrendered right out of the gate.

The Throwdown:
I tried to make effective use of the terrain in the middle to mitigate part of the Cryx flood by keeping the rough terrain and building between my forces and the Nightmare and Blood Witches. This really helped me out and let me concentrate on clearing out Mechanithralls. My Legionnaires performed admirably all things considered, but Venethrax's feat is brutal. At some point during the feat round I think there were 15 clouds on the table. That feat was challenging for 2 reasons. First, it brought my troops to a screeching halt pretty quickly. There was some timing I could exploit so that my Legionnaires/Incubi were able to start their activation in key clouds, but it still held them back pretty dramatically. Second, it blocks LOS even for my beasts. If it wasn't for that, I could have probably dropped the Carnivean on Venethrax and killed him. Instead I was forced into an attrition battle. Using my own feat I was able to sneak the Carnivean around and destroy the Nightmare with relative ease thanks to Rapport, but at the cost of Venethrax swooping in and taking out the Carnivean quite easily.

It was at this point that I looked at the battlefield and stated that it looked like it was a foregone conclusion that I was screwed, but let's play it out anyway for kicks. I had Rhyas, the Protector, the Shredder, 2 Legionnaires and 3 Incubi left, whereas Lance had Venethrax, 4 Mechanithralls, 2 Brutes, the Necrosurgeon, full Blood Witches and the Blood hag left. I was outnumbered 2 to 1, but we played it out.

The Endgame:
Somehow I pulled out a victory. After discussing the battle with Lance afterwards, there were a couple key factors that swung the battle back in my favor. First was I had time to reform my forces and make some key strikes to finish off critical targets like the Necrosurgeon. Second, Venethrax switched to using Lamentation instead of Draconic Blessing. This meant Venethrax was walking around with lower arm, but causing problems for Rhyas casting. If Venethrax had just left the bonus armor on and camped focus (putting him at arm 25) which would have been nearly impenetrable for Rhyas and the rest of her forces. Instead I was able to lure him into going for an assassination run but with Rapport it gave me enough transfers to survive. In the end Rhyas had 1 point of damage left when her Shredder took out Venethrax.

Thoughts on Rhyas: Wow 5 fury is hard to work with! Such a small control area. Rhyas is mildly amusing, but not especially flexible from my perspective. She needs to keep her forces pretty tightly together. Still though, it was something new to try and she does provide good support to troops. Between her feat and Dash she gave great support to the Legionnaires.

Also, once again, I have to say that it's always good to play out a game. I've sort of found that my late game is better than my early game. Probably because I go into a game with a "plan" to try to execute and when that play fails I have to start improvising and making more effective use of the forces I have.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

From the Desk: Last In-Progress Update for Hex Hunters

This will be my last update on the Hex Hunters before final pictures of them in a completed state. They are in various states of near completion. Bayal is completely done (as pictured) except for sealer. Most of the others are just down to touch-ups, with about half needing the metal edging/dots painted (which is a really obnoxiously tedious task). These pictures make them look like they need a lot of touch ups, but it isn't really that bad. I really want this project done given that I started on these over a month ago now. I'm hoping to be done by the end of the weekend, but I've got multiple WM/H games lined up, so they may not get done until next week.

Although I generally really like these models, they are tedious. Squads are always rough to do, but highly detailed squads like these make it especially hard. It's one of the big reasons I haven't gotten Knights Exemplar yet. Doing final details on these guys on an individual basis still seems like the best plan.

Next on the desk is Bethayne and Belphagore, but (amazingly) they are still sitting there with just primer and no paint on them. I nearly started them the other night but somehow mustered enough willpower to stay focused on the Hex Hunters. In any case, it will be a refreshing change to start them. In the mean time, assuming all goes well, there should be a whole slew of photos of recent games showing up in the next couple days.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Crushing Theorymachine: Kallus

For the first time in over 3 months, I played a game of Hordes/Warmachine! Talk about a long dry spell. It was great to actually throwdown again and especially to field a bunch of models that I'd painted but never played with. Since I'm going to end up writing this post over the course of the day during breaks at work, it's going to be a hodgepodge of random thoughts. So, let's get started!

The Lists:
Me: Kallus, Nephilim Protector, Nephilim Bolt Thrower, Nephilim Soldier, Shredder, 5 Raptors, Anyssa, Forsaken, Blackfrost Shard, 1 Spell Martyr.
Lance: Jarl Skuld, Mauler, Earthborn, Impaler, Runebearer, Horthol, 3 Longriders, 4 Krielstones.

My list didn't really have a solid plan to it. Kallus, the 3 Nephilim, Spell Martyr and the Blackfrost Shard were all models I'd painted but hadn't played on the table since painting them so I wanted to give them all a try. The Raptors and Anyssa were in there simply because I wanted more practice with them. The rest was just logical additions to round out the list. There was a bit of poor planning in terms of leveraging Kallus' stronger features, but I'll talk more about that later.

The Battlefield:
I'm a huge fan of using the random battlefield generator for making maps so that's what I did. (If only there was an iPhone app for random battlefields!) The end result was a clump of rough terrain, water and walls near the middle, and a big forest on the side. I won the initiative and after careful consideration figured that it would be good to go first and position myself near the forest for cover. This also meant that the Earthborn would have to move away from the juicy terrain near the middle in order to engage me, and I certainly didn't want to meet him near that mess.

The Throwdown:
The battle was unfortuantely a bit one-sided. I made effective use of the forest and worked down the longriders while delaying the heavy beasts. This was pretty key, and eventually Anyssa was in the troll backfield causing some additional chaos. This was hugely useful because she was easily in LOS of the Raptors to grant them the bonus and together they took down the remaining Longriders, Krielstones and the Impaler. The Soldier was highly effective as well, with the combination of flight, eyeless sight, and Kallus' Ignite, it made him a fun cruise missile to launch out of the forest and into the Mauler. Unfortunately he wasn't able to take out the Mauler entirely and got snacked. Next round though, the Forsaken managed to blight bomb the Mauler into extinction (one of the first times I've pulled off this maneuver on a beast actually). At this point the troll force was down to Jarl, the Mauler, and a couple Krielstones, whereas my Legion force was only really down

The Endgame:
Eventually the Earthborn came crashing in on my flank into the Protector but failed to kill him. However despite the Protector, Kallus, a rapid Shredder an Incubi and a bonus 2 dice blight bomb from the Forsaken, the Earthborn still lived! However without reach he was pinned back away from Kallus by the Shredder and Protector and was left with few options. Kallus had 2 fury on him for transfers, had tenacity up and was engaged (putting him at def 15, arm 19) and was undamaged. Jarl tried to scoot around and drop a couple shots on Kallus and then the Earthborn trampled over the Shredder to get to Kallus but in the end it wasn't enough. After that it was just mop-up.

Thoughts on Kallus:
I should first point out that I don't generally read the forums at all. Lance told me that the general consensus about Kallus seems to be somewhat negative which I was surprised to hear. I tend to ignore all that groupthink anyway and find what works for me so this battle was a fun test to see if Kallus was really more of an infantry-oriented warlock like I thought he would be. What did I come away with?

1) First, Kallus is pretty amusing to play since he's so darn tough. Between unyielding and tenacity he gets pretty chunky to deal with. This gave me a lot more confidence to just roll him in. I probably would have been far braver with him in this game except that the darn Earthborn was able to steal the POW of his sword and that made things substantially more dangerous.
2) Having Kallus hanging back to provide specific support and then roll in as a hammer afterwards worked pretty well. There was a natural tendancy to push him right up front, but he and the Soldier have the same damage output. Holding Kallus back to throw Ignite and Massacre on the Soldier made more effective use of the damage output overall.
3) Most of his "key" features didn't come up in this game for a variety of reasons. Dark Guidance really eats a lot of his fury for a turn, and with so much ranged support in the Raptors I just didn't have a need for it. However if things had gotten to melee, having the option of throwing up DG could have made a huge difference.
4) The feat is amusing. It means that clearing charge lanes just gets twice as hard on that round. It's sort of like having a backup tarpit. Certainly though, it's a defensive and/or delaying tool and not a smash-your-face tool and I often have trouble leveraging the more defensive feats. This one in particular I found tricky becauase I was never really sure when to expect that the troll line would crash into mine. Against ranged lists it would be even harder to decide on the timing since there's a danger of just getting plinked to death. This leads me to my final thought...
5) When I first read Kallus I immediately though "Oh awesome! I'll want Swordsmen!" However I don't own Swordsmen so I fielded what I had. In hindsight, I think an all-melee list with Kallus could be a real danger. Unyielding only helps if the target is engaged, and a ranged list could just take an all-melee Kallus list apart. Having some ranged options (or something to tie up ranged attackers) is pretty key.

Overall, I dig Kallus and I'm looking forward to fielding him a bunch more. I'm particularly keen to try out Warmongers with him. However all the theorymachine in the world doesn't amount to anything in comparison to actually playing a game.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

From the Desk: Why am I still awake?

It's nearly midnight, and I have to be awake at 6:30am. What the heck!?! Basically I got distracted with a bunch of tasks. My kitchen remodel is essentially complete now with just a couple minor things left to be resolved tomorrow. It will be nice to have the dining table back for playing Warmachine on again. So I spent a bunch of time moving stuff back into the kitchen. Then I was getting my freshly primed Bethayne and Belphagore onto painting cans and getting bases started for the Hex Hunters. And then I got distracted with updating my iPhone to iOS 5 which is taking far longer than I expected. If I don't watch out, I'll end up getting distracted with something else and staying up past midnight, and seriously, that's on my Murtaugh list! In any case, while I wait for this upgrade to finish, I figured I'd post my latest status. The Hex Hunters are really feeling like the end is in sight. My next step is to do all the spines. At that point I'm going to switch to doing individual models for final touch ups and detailing to get them to a level I'm more happy with. The back armor pieces really need more work, but I'm going to save that for the individual model work. As detailed and long of a project as these guys are, they are actually quite enjoyable to paint.

Friday, October 14, 2011

From the Desk: Not for the squeemish

So my plan to get a little work done on my Hex Hunters every night has fallen through pretty badly. Why? The typical "life is busy" reasons. I had a wisdom tooth pulled (as featured here) this last week. Plus the kitchen remodel in my house has been an ongoing fiasco. Advise to all you would-be home remodelers out there, make sure you have a solid contract with your contractor that has penalties to them if they aren't meeting the schedule. Anyway, that's another story that I won't get into here tonight. Instead I'll get on to the painting progress thus far.

The Hex Hunters are coming along well. At this point the basic work for everything is done except for the black leathers. There will be lots of detail work to do, but that's the next phase of my plan. I really like the process of doing the basecoating and majority of the shading/highlighting of each area (one at a time) before doing final detail work. In this way, I get the majority of the hard work done on the entire unit done at once. Then I move on to doing details on each model individually, which is easier for me to handle rather than trying to do all the details at once. Needless to say though, I still have another solid week of work before I'm done with the painting, and then some additional time for basing work.

And finally my desk update includes Kallus. He's getting a lot more attention than the Hex Hunters for obvious reasons. He's nearly done now except for some serious metal work and then some final contrast adjustments to bring everything together better. I should probably start working on a base as well so that he doesn't sit on my desk waiting for a base for a week. In any case, this is a pretty sweet model overall and I'm looking forward to having him on the table.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

From the Desk: And 3 Days Later...

It's ironic that when I get good motivation to work on a unit of models that life erupts into chaos and kills my painting time. In the last 3 days I just got enough time to do the basecoating of the red sashes. Well, actually I also got started on Kallus, but that's it. And there's more life about to erupt over the weekend, so progress is going far slower than I was hoping for. And now it's late, and I'm sleepy and... uh... ... ZzZZzZZzzzzzz.....

Monday, October 03, 2011

From the Desk: More Progress on Hex Hunters

Quick post, more for my own motivation than for information. I totally failed to get a post up yesterday, but it's just as well. All I did last night was do the basecoating for the green fabrics. Tonight I wrapped up most of that work, at least until the final cleanup work. Next up will be to work on the reds.

I have to admit, having the one model as a prototype with just basecoating done is actually quite helpful for the rest of the unit. It gives me a good reference point to work from. I'll have to consider doing this again next time I paint a unit.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

From the Desk: Staying on Task

One of the great benefits of blogging about painting is the motivation it can provide. Trying to post some progress each day can really keep your feet (or brush) to the fire. In order to get these Hex Hunters done, I'm going to use my blog as motivation. My goal is to post some progress each day, regardless of how small. So for those of you checking in each day, I'm sorry in advance for what will hopefully be many boring posts as I slowly get these guys done. Today I managed to get the skin mostly done on all 11 of them, which is a pretty decent accomplishment all things considered. My next step will probably be to do all of the green cloth since it's pretty isolated. On a different note I need to confess that my painting pace got sidetracked by more than just chaos in my house from a kitchen remodel. I've also been dabbling with app programming for iOS. I'm not really sure what I'm going to try building (map generator perhaps), but it's sort of interesting to play with.