Tuesday, May 31, 2011

War Hog

Apologies in advance, this post is going to be like 3 posts in 1, and longer than a normal gallery entry. I'll start with the normal gallery entry stuff and then move on to the Road-to-Competition stuff.

So here's my competition War Hog, in all his final glory! I have no idea how many hours I spent on this guy. Overall this model was pretty cool. Organic parts, mechanical parts, and just generally pretty interesting. He was pretty big and complex though, which made painting him pretty challenging. I should note that I didn't seal him since he is unlikely to be used on the table, and also sealing him would have affected the effects on the metals that I spent a lot of time on. So he's likely to just sit on the top shelf of my models cabinet where all the other best stuff sits. Perhaps sad, but honestly I'm not really very interested in playing Farrow at present, and regardless of whether I did play them or not, I had intended to paint this model.

What went well:
* Metals - I seriously feel like the metals worked out really well on this model. I spent a lot of time on them, both in terms of weathering and shading. I'm one of those people that like the look of metallic metal paints rather than NMM.
* Flesh - I spent a lot of time here too. It's not perfect, but I feel like the extra effort really paid off.
* Overall composition - Much of my time near the end was making little tweaks here and there to bring the overall composition together. I gathered a lot of feedback from people/places I trust on this. That leads me to...
* Getting feedback - Definitely very helpful. Not just friends getting in person viewings, but I also posted on the BrushThralls forum for feedback and got some really helpful critique. I'll definitely be doing that again for future competitions.

What could have been better:
* Not getting exhausted - Ugh! By the end, after having been working on it off and on for almost 2 months (just painting), I was ready to be done. I was pretty sick of looking at it in fact. I need a better way to tackle such large projects if I'm going to do them this seriously.
* Pigments - In all fairness, this was the first time I used dry pigments, so I'm still getting the hang of them. They were too thick in some places. I definitely like them though, and I'm looking forward to using them more in the future.
* Some details get lost - The model is huge and complex with a lot of details. I feel like some of the detailing work I did wound up lost in the overall complexity of the model.

Ok, so all that aside, time to talk about the competition itself. This year I entered the "masters" level which is still an "open judging" system, but did not place at all. According to the competition organizer, I was super close to getting a bronze. I was in good company actually, as there were other masters entries that didn't place, much to my surprise actually. There was a 40K Tyrant that was pretty impressive I though, but didn't get anything either. I can honestly say I'm not terribly disappointed. Why? Well...

After the awards ceremony I got a chance to sit down with Derek Schubert and he spent probably 20 minutes giving me an in-depth critique of my model. It was very education, and I am very grateful to him for his time. I've included notes about his feedback below, but before that I'll close with some things that I'm taking away to keep in mind for next year:
* Smaller model - Yeah, this one was too big. It's impressive, but smaller is better for the competition I think.
* Avoid metals - I think my love of metallics and trying to refine that style doesn't mesh well with the judges' perspectives. I'm probably better off avoiding them next year.
* Forced lighting perspective - This is something I'm still not comfortable with, but I think it's something I need to keep in mind.
* Telling a story - The model needs to tell a story much better. Overall composition is one thing, but if the model is able to convey a story then I'll have succeeded much better. It's not enough for the War Hog to be angry. There needs to be more of a sense of what's going on. I think my model selection for last year needs to take that into account.

The blending/shading on the muzzle needed to be tightened up considerably. Totally agree with this. I just sort of lost my steam in this area.
There should be reflections of light on the red of the gauntlet. Totally disagree with this one. I get where Derek's coming from, but this is a style thing that I just don't buy into. Forced light perspectives are a mixed bag. When you force the lighting perspective in a particular way, you must look at that model from that perspective to make sense of it. Just not my style, but it was interesting feedback.
The shading/transition of the hoof didn't work. Totally agree here. I blew this. It probably looks ok in the photo, but honestly the angling on it was wrong.
The plating "bumps" needed stronger contrast to stand out. Yeah, I mostly agree with this. They just didn't work out as good as I wanted. They needed more raise to their surface and just didn't have it to work with.
The blue hose stood out too much, and the busted pipe was somewhat unnecessary. This was something I hadn't even considered. The blue hose definitely stood out too much, and there wasn't any other blue on the model from that angle to balance with it. In comparison, the red hose worked well because there was plenty of red to balance with. The pipe, well, I'm torn on that. I like having it there, but it does make the whole thing a bit more busy. Point taken.
Mohawk needed more shading/highlighting to make it pop. Well, I'm torn on this. To some degree I wish I had done more on this. But on the flipside, I didn't want to be highlighting all the strands and making it look too gaudy. I've seen that too much already, and I got some very good advice from EricJ on the Wyrd forums about hair that I still very much subscribe to. I'll have to mull this over a lot more before I can decide whether I should have taken this advice.
Brighter highlights for the metals. Yeah, I mostly agree here. Overall there were plenty of opportunities to push the metal highlights farther. Derek picked out this section as an example where I could have put highlights on the lower half of the holes to emphasize reflections. Definitely a good point here. Overall there were other comments about metals not being smooth enough, and I sort of get that as well. Still more to learn with metallics.

Ok, I can't really handle posting anything more about this model. I'm done, and well past ready to be done. Time to move on to something faster and crank out some army stuff. I'll start thinking about the next competition in a couple months. In hindsight, I may not have even gotten a bronze, but I definitely feel like I painted like I had a pair!

Monday, May 30, 2011

KublaCon 2011 Summary

So KublaCon has come to a close once again, and as before I had a very good time. What follows is a whole slew of photos and some notes about my experience of the con. Many of these photos are of, shall we say, sub-par quality. Hopefully Santa will bring me a better camera this Christmas.

On Friday evening there was a 15pt WM/H tournament that had a 1 unit and 1 solo max limitation. The Sacramento PG Jimmy ran the event and I had quite a lot of fun, despite getting my butt kicked in 4 out of 5 of the games. However I did receive one of the 2 sportsmanship awards which was a poster of the new Wrath book cover!

Overall, great event. I think there were 24 people there in total, with a great representation of factions. I think I saw everything except Skorne and perhaps Minions.

Next day I dropped in to attend a class by Derek Schubert on sculpting. Although I floated in and out, the class was quite good. I learned a bunch of random little tricks and techniques to assist with the sculpting process. Being a novice in the realm of sculpting, it wasn't hard to learn a lot. Some of the tips were simple things like having a small sponge and water on hand to moisten tools with, putting the mixed green stuff on your off-handed thumb as a temporary working area, and how to create basic frames for sculpting on to.

For those of you unfamiliar with Derek Schubert, he's done freelance sculpting and painting for Reaper for several years. His class was interesting in that not only did he give a lot of helpful tips for basic sculpting, he also talked about materials and the overall casting process along with considerations to keep in mind about that process. Overall, delightful class.
At the same time as the class, there was a 50pt WM/H Steamroller tournament going on. There were 19 or so people for this event, again with most factions represented. Given that I didn't participate in the tournament I can't really comment on the event, but it definitely seemed like a huge battleground.

My day was rounded by participating in one of the speed painting competitions. The rules were pretty straight forward. They provide a brush (terrible synthetic with curved bristles), paints (also pretty terrible craft paints), and a primed model. Everything was the same for each participant. We got 45 minutes to paint as good as possible. Amazingly, having never done something like this before, I got 1st place in this group, which qualified me for the masters speed painting. Here you can see my poor little samurai warrior.
The next day was all classes for me pretty much. First up was another class with Derek where he basically spent about 90 minutes painting a face on a model and sharing a wide variety of pieces of information. I really enjoyed this time because it afforded the opportunity to just ask Derek a lot of questions about his process and techniques. Pictured here are a couple of his models that he passed around for close examination.
During the same time slots as most of these classes I was taking, there was a 35pt tier 2 WM/H tournament going on. Again, not having participated in it, all I can say is that at this point I think the WM/H players were starting to wane in strength as this was the 4th event.
The next two classes were with Justin McCoy of Secret Weapon Miniatures. He was teaching about weathering using a few different techniques. These classes were outstanding. Now to be fair, all of the techniques Justin demonstrated were completely different from anything I do. I'd read bits and pieces about them, but never seen them properly demonstrated. These classes were one of those "Ah ha!" type moments.

Justin demoed the salt and hairspray technique, chipping, using pigments, and oils, all for weathering a vehicle. I also particularly enjoyed that he brought an airbrush and demonstrated using it as a part of the process. He had a number of good tips, and as a result I went out and bought an airbrush starter kit myself. It certainly helped that by his recommendation, I was able to get a basic double action airbrush and compressor for a mere $90. I'm very much looking forward to practicing some of those techniques in the future.

Ok, I'm just throwing this in for commentary. Seriously people! Just because it's a convention and everyone is indulging in a weekend of geekly decadence, but honestly! And take a shower while you're dropping that fistful of cheese balls!!
Before rounding out my day, I was in the masters speed painting competition. Same as before, however we got 2 terrible brushes. My lowly model is here, which came in 4th out of the group of 9. In all fairness, Derek was in the masters here as well. I have to say, it was a very amusing challenge and I'm looking forward to doing it again next year.
What follows are pictures of models submitted to the painting competition. My own entry did not place in the masters, but I'll go over that in more detail in another post tomorrow.

Friday, May 27, 2011

RtC: To The Competition!

Countdown to KublaCon painting competition: 2 days!

Well, today is the opening day of KublaCon, and I'm ready! There were a number of small refinements to the model since my last update over 3 weeks ago. I'll post final pics of this guy later, but here's a quickie one before he heads off to the competition display case.

Overall I'm pretty happy. I'm not really expecting to place well in the masters, but it's a goal I set for myself regardless. I've put a lot of time into this model. I'd conservatively estimate at least 50 hours, and perhaps as many as 75. I'm really ready to be done with him.

One thing to note is that I decided not to seal him like I normally would with other models that I use. I spent an enormous amount of effort on the metallics, and applying a sealing coat could easily throw them off.

While I'm at Kubla I'll be endeavoring to take lots of photos and post them each night, particularly of the Warmachine/Hordes events.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Gun Mages (take 2)

Yikes! To say that I've been in a painting slump would be a gross understatement. I just checked my blog and it's been more than 2 months since I finished a model. So without further ado, here's my second set of Gun Mages, complete with officer.

Ok, so what happened to the SPQR series? Well, a couple things. First is that the posts felt awkward. I do plan to pick up the SPQR posts from time to time, but not quite as the regular installment that I had intended. Instead I'll do them sporadically as tips and techniques come up. Trying to do it with the Gun Mages here felt pretty forced and was holding me back from getting them painted.

Second is that I just needed to get something finished, and these guys were already in progress. I've been working on the War Hog for so long now that I really just wanted to be finishing something. The War Hog is still in progress and will get done this week. However I just needed to feel some sense of accomplishment (however meager) to give me a little juice again.

Anyway, nothing special here. Speed painted and not that great (by my standards), but they are done and just itching to be used in that Ashlynn tier list!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Make Your Opponent's List

Last night I played an amusing game where my opponent (Henry) built a list for me from his model collection, and I built one for him from my collection. We played a 25pt game and (in the spirit of a learning experience) used the following friendly rules:
* Must use every point, included jack/beast points
* Models included must have a legitimate chance of coming into play (no Incubi without any models to pop out of)
* 2 proxies items allowed
* Simple Killbox scenario

My list for Henry: High Reclaimer, Templar, Crusader, Vigilant, Reclaimer, 5 Cinerators, Herne & Jonne - Tons of SPD 4 stuff, hardly any warriors to generate soul tokens, and of course a merc unit that is notoriously random for effectiveness. I was quite pleased with this chunk of lousy.

Henry's list for me: Grissel, Slag Troll, Krielstones (6 + UA), Runebearer, Gudrun, Pendrake, Swamp Gobbers, Bone Grinders (6), Bog Trog Ambushers (10) - Wow! Did the Skornegy here! Lots of awesome spells and features that... only affect Faction models. Hahaha! What a lumb of terrible!

Battle Summary:
The quick synopsis is that I started off by surrounding Henry on all sides, with Gudrun sneaking around behind his forces, the Bog Trogs coming in on a side edge, and the bulk of my force approaching from a third angle to trap him in. The first hit on the High Reclaimer (aka "HR") came in the form of a Rift blast from Grissel against the Crusader which just reached the HR too, scoring 5 points. At that point he backed off from that battle line and towards his Cinerators. The next hit on the HR came from the Bog Trogs. They rushed in from behind and despite the Cinerators' best efforts, a couple Bog Trogs slipped around behind them. I used a lot of careful placement by running them instead of charging to keep the Cinerators relatively pinned in. One lone Bog Trog got a charge against the HR in his back when he had no focus on him and scored a whopping 10 damage! My 3-angle attack was working well, but I was taking heavy casualties in the process, losing all the Bog Trogs, half the Krielstones, and half the Bone Grinders. On the other side of the table, only the Crusader and Herne & Jonne were destroyed. I got lucky on two specific things though: First, the Templar ended up about 1/4" outside of the HR's control area at a critical point, which severely handicapped it's ability to cause damage, and second, the Vigilant didn't end up in B2B with the HR. The last 4 points on the HR came from a lucky second Rift blast damage. The HR had put clouds out to block LOS, but the remaining Gobber stood in the cloud just right. Then Grissel dropped a rift on him. Fortunately for me it scattered onto the HR, and the blast damage did plenty to finish him off.

* Even a marginalized model can create a good combo. Pendrake's bola combined with the Slag Troll pretty much wrecked face on the Crusader. It allowed the Slag to reliably hit and use his focus for boosting damage and taking the extra shot.
* Maneuvering can grant a lot of power. Although the Bog Trogs didn't kill any Cinerators (and in all fairness, I didn't want to be handing out soul tokens), they were able to use their reach as an advantage. By positioning them on opposite sides of a Cinerator at their reach range, the Cinerators had movement problems due to potential free strikes.
* When possible, flanking forces your opponent into tough decisions about how to split their defenses. By coming in from 3 angles, the HR had to use Cinerators on one side, Jacks on the other, and then focus for clouds to keep himself safe. It allowed me to pick which engagements happened and when/where they took place.
* This format is awesome! Totally loved it. I'm looking forward to doing this again. It really forced me to hunt for hidden combos in a ragtag set of models, and that I feel translates well when trying to build a competitive list.

Game 2:
Ok, actually, this was a throwback game of Battletech, and I'm throwing this in just for fun. I hadn't played Battletech for ages and Henry was kind enough to offer a game as a refresher course. The game ended up being pretty short. We spent a turn advancing towards each other and then the first volley was exchanged. Henry shot at me and missed. Then I fired back...
Lance (spectating the game): You should shoot everything and try to take out his head.
Me: I shoot all my guns!
Henry: Ok, let's start with the PPC. Roll to hit.
Me: 7! Does that hit?
Henry: Yes, exactly. Roll location.
Me: 12! What's that hit?
Henry: Uh, the head. Roll to see if you get a critical.
Me: 8!
Henry: Oh dear. That's 1 critical. Roll location.
Me: 3! What's that do?
Henry: That's the cockpit. You just killed my pilot.
Me: Neato!
Lance: That's going to make for great salvage! No damage except for killing the pilot.
So, it was an amusing albeit short refresher of Battletech.

Monday, May 02, 2011

RtC: My Time Management Sucks

Countdown to KublaCon painting competition: 27 days

More pictures than normal for this update of the War Hog! I've made significant progress, despite the fact that I'm doing a terrible job managing my time and staying focused. One of the most important hurdles I overcame this week was to get everything base coated. Well, almost everything. There's one warjack head that isn't completely base coated. However it's 98% base coated at this point, and that's helping my focus an awful lot. Now I can get a better sense of the overall look of the piece. At this point I'm definitely noticing that the head draws the majority of the attention. I'm very curious to get feedback from my readers though about the overall look at this point (including the base).

So what's working well for me so far? Lots!
* Using dry pigments is working out great. I'm still a total amateur with them, but the results are pretty compelling none the less.
* Working a section at a time is very helpful. I'm not completing a section entirely, but I work it to a level of medium satisfaction and then move on to another area for a bit. This is keeping me fresh, but also helping me think about the overall look of the model as I go.
* The new pot of bronze paint I got is really working well. It's actually from the Golden Acrylics line. Golden Acrylics are hit and miss, but when they hit, they sure are good.

My wife was looking at it last night and said "Are you almost done?" I chuckled and said that I was probably about 50% done time-wise, to which she gave me a confused look and wandered off. So what are some of the major things left to do? Here's my list of things that haven't really gotten much work at all: teeth, tongue, eyes, right-hand/axe, rope, right leg, warjack heads, and the boiler. Lots of stuff still needs additional passes to tighten it up, and there's lots of little details (like putting some pink on the flesh where it's stitched together). I'm still debating whether to put a tattoo of some kind on him too. Perhaps something like a serial number or instructions. I'll see where things shake out time wise once I'm closer to done before I start adding more work.

For my painting readers out there, you may want to wander off now because I'm going to insert a gaming rant. I proxy-played a couple of Farrow forces the other night with my gaming buddies who were kind enough to put up with a pile of proxies. I'll skip the normal battle report and jump right to the rant. OH MY GOD DO FARROW SUCK!!! Seriously, I hated playing them. The War Hogs I fielded did almost nothing in both games. Maybe it's just a huge learning curve and they aren't my playing style. I'm willing to chalk it up to that. But here's my gripe: They are SLOW, and they don't have the arm stats to survive the beatings they will receive on the way to the battle. I wanted to like them. I really did. I love the models overall. But it's really hard to get excited to paint something when you realize it isn't fun to play. Ok, rant over. Nevertheless, I'm going to finish this beast for the painting competition and then he can menace my painting shelves.