Monday, November 25, 2013

From the Desk: Weekend Roundup #41

Again, fast entry from work. Was up late painting and forgot to post.

My Extreme Carnivean is cursed. Pure and simple. It's just cursed. This model hates me. In addition to previous problems with priming and stripping, now it's also been crazy on me. It fell over on my desk and at first I thought it was ok (no paint/primer chipped), but then last night I noticed the one arm was coming off. There's even a pin in there! Fortunately I was able to get it put back together with no noticeable damage but it was still annoying. The model's center of gravity is not as well balanced as I wish it was which is causing some of the problems. That and it's on top of a spray can so when it tipped over it falls quite a bit, and with its enormous weight it can cause a lot of damage. In any case, I got a bit more progress on it this week. I just hope I can finish it before the end of the year.

Next up are the 2 Guild Hounds I started. These guys are sort of obnoxious to paint cause I'm constantly looking at the tiny contact points under the feet and worried about how I'm going to attach them to the base. On the plus side, working on these guys got me oddly inspired to break out the wet palette again while doing their skin. I like the wet palette in general but just don't use it much. However working with my flat plasticard palette so much lately has me wanting to use the wet palette more. I find it funny how these small annoying models were my tipping point to actually come back around to it. I am sorely tempted to get the bigger Masterson's wet palette though just simply because my smaller surface makes it hard to work colors around the palette.

Other things that happened this week:
* Binged on more models at my LGS: More lesser beast blisters, pre-ordered 2 Beast Mistresses, and a set of the original metal Nephilim models to go with my (eventual) Lilith crew for Malifaux.
* Built a new collapsable backstop for when I airbrush.
* Did some research for my first "Practice" project. Post will come this week I hope if I can do the actual painting project.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Review: Vallejo Surface Primer

For the longest time I have been a die hard fan of Duplicolor Sandable Primer. Until today. I got a tip from my friend Bryan about using Vallejo Surface Primer and spraying it on using an airbrush. Now at first I was a bit skeptical, but Bryan is a very reliable source of information and I figured I'd give it a try. A few clicks later and a 200ml bottle of white primer was on its way. It sat on my desk for a few days since I was still focused on finishing up Bishop and needed to decide what to prep. I also spent a little time building a better (and collapsable) backstop for airbrushing in front of. Last night I broke out my low grade airbrush and primed 3 models. So how did it go?

The Good:
This is really amazing. The Vallejo Surface Primer is good to begin with, but using it through the airbrush is almost effortlessly perfect. The primer itself goes on nice and smooth and works well. The biggest problems I've always had with it pooling and not getting proper coverage was due to using a normal brush. But with the airbrush I can easily get a nice thin even coat over the whole model and do it really quickly. I even did a little test painting already on the coat and paint adheres to it really well. Plus the benefit of being able to prime indoors without nasty fumes is just enormous, especially with winter setting in. No more fears of grainy primer coats ruining an otherwise good model!

The Bad:
Honestly the only drawback is the setup time to use the airbrush as opposed to the spray can. It also requires a bit more attention to cleaning than normal due to it being primer. Beyond that small time investment, I'm hard pressed to find another drawback.

The Verdict:
I don't see that I'll be using can primer again unless I'm in a huge rush. The benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. I highly recommend that anyone out there with an airbrush look into doing it this way if you aren't already. Now I just need to order some in black and grey and I'm off to the races.

Friday, November 22, 2013


Finishing Bishop is sort of a special victory for me. I've had a lot of unpainted Malifaux models sitting around for a long time. Probably years. And Bishop is the first of the Outcasts that has actually gotten painted. I kept putting off the Outcasts in favor of "in faction" models until now. Even more importantly though is that I really enjoyed painting him. It's not the best sculpt in the Wyrd line by a long shot, but I like his pose and it was easy to get at all the parts to paint.

One thing I spent serious effort on was his pants. I wanted to make them really look like blue jeans so I spent the time to do multiple layers of color patching and then crosshatching and then glazes to try to create a more textured effect. I feel like the end result worked out pretty well overall and was definitely worth the effort. Painting to simulate textures is something I've been trying to pay closer attention to for the last few months.

What went well:
* Painting texture to simulate denim worked out well for his jeans. Really happy with the effect.
* Sealing with dull coat and then doing final metal highlights really helps to make the metals pop nicely. Definitely worth the extra step.
* Spending more time than normal to really enjoy the model contributed to my overall joy in painting this model.
* Not being afraid to just go crazy, particularly on the brick and his hair really turned into a fun experiment. His hair in particular worked out as a nice "greasy anime green" look.
* Using Secret Weapon Realistic Water for the base. It's the first time I've used it. Need more experience, but I like it for limited pools. Definitely less crazy to work with than Envirotex.

What could have been better:
* Finding ALL of the mold lines. Ugh!
* Darker shadows, particular on the undersides of his arms.
* Better details on his face. I don't have a photo of it, but trust me, his face could have been better.

Before I wrap this post up, here's a shot of my painting diary entry for Bishop's jeans. Normally I do a better job of tracking colors but I sort of went a little sideways during the middle part of painting. I didn't catch myself until it was too late and I scrapped what remaining wet paint I could off my palette in order to record something. If nothing else, it put a smile on my face.

Monday, November 18, 2013

From the Desk: Weekend Roundup #40

Super short, since I'm posting this from work. Totally spaced on doing this last night.

Normally I'd break these out as two separate photos, but this is just hilarious to me. Made progress on the Extreavean for Hordes and started working on Bishop for Malifaux. There's no camera angle trick here. Needless to say, getting paint on the Extrevean is just time consuming. Keeping multiple projects on my desk is pretty much required while working on this giant beast.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Practice: Reflecting on my skills

A few weeks ago, Meg Maples had a post about different painting styles which got me thinking. Then of course with other thoughts about rekindling my joy for painting, it got me really thinking about what I can do to actually advance my skills. Very often I'm busy trying to finish a specific model and don't stop to think about skills. Plus I'm not usually painting models that are great for stepping back and practicing a specific skill since I'm painting for an army. But I still want to practice my skills, so I'm going to start this new series of Practice posts which will come sporadically and contain actual painting practice results.

My first couple posts will be more about reflection and thinking about what it is I need to practice. For this very first post I'm going to use Meg's post as a jumping off point and reflect on my own style first. I've chosen 2 specific models that are personal favorites but that I also have gotten a lot of positive feedback on. Even though I painted them quite a while ago (over 4 years ago) I feel like they are very typical of my style.

Original Raek postOriginal Teraph post

So using these as my reference models, and armed with Meg's list of style aspects, time to take a critical look at my own predilections. Note that I've mixed together elements from both "schools" here for my own reflective purposes.

Clean, clear, bright colors - Yeah, this is pretty true for my style. I tend to use a fairly bright palette overall, even when I don't intend to. On these two models I have started venturing into using more color combinations to create some interest, but I'm still a color theory neophyte.
Dark Lining - This isn't really a practice I have. Some things have dark lining, like around roots of claws or things like that, but I typically avoid the "traditional" dark lining that I hear about in painting classes. I've always found it just a bit too cartoony for my tastes.
Non-Metalic Metals - Oh my God do I hate doing NMM. I've practiced it a bit and it just irritates me. I get the idea, and I respect those that are good at it, but honestly it's a style I just don't like. NMM often requires assuming that not only does lighting comes from a particular place, but the viewer's angle does too, and that just seems counterintuitive to me. Counterpoint to this though is a glaring need to get better with real metallics.
Focus on Faces - I suck at painting faces. Period. I've only had one model that I considered a success at painting a face (McBain).
Buttery smooth blending - My blending isn't the smoothest by a long shot. I do keep practicing, but I tend to put less emphasis on the "perfect blend" and more on using color to create an interesting transition. This is
Generalized Lighting - Yep, very much me. I don't do a good job of creating a sense of where the lighting is coming from. And I'm not just talking about OSL either.
Freehand - Ugh, another fail for me. These two examples have freehand runes on them, but that's about as far as I get at this point. Just very basics for freehand work.
Piece is a part of a larger story - Again, fail. Not much more to say.
Elaborate basing - This is something I'm getting better at but still weak on. For army building it's hard to do elaborate bases on every single model. My personal favorite success on this front was Victor Pendrake where I just went nuts on the base.
Blood, gore, dirt, weather, etc - Again, something I'm doing more of, but no where near where I want to be. This is something I really aspire to do great work on and just need to keep pushing myself to practice more and more.
High contrast - This last one is something I try to stay conscious of but, to be honest with myself, my habits and style get in the way of keeping it at the front of my mind.

So all this "thinking" and "reflecting" is great and all, but it leaves me in desperate need of a practical experiment. To that end, I'm going to do a series of posts where I pick out a particular style or technique that I want to push myself on and do a test model for practice purposes. I've done a little hunting around and found that the Reaper Bones Clay Golem model is a good test subject to use. I've already acquired 5 of them and plan to get more as needed. They are simple in terms of features which makes them good painting study subjects. They don't require priming making them even lower maintenance. They are also dirt cheap so I don't mind buying several as "throw away" test subjects. I'm going to start my first experiment this weekend probably, but won't have a post for a few days I'm sure. For now I'll leave you in suspense of the first experiment's goal. Until then I encourage you all to take a step back and breathe in deeply of the joy of the painting hobby.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Harriers (take 2)

Embarrassingly fast painted Harriers. Nothing special. I cut a lot of corners on these. The sculpts are not really my favorite, mostly due to how the feet/legs are positioned. I do however love keeping lesser warbeasts on my painting desk at all times. It's a nice way to break from whatever main project I'm working on.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


This model went unusually fast. Probably because it's a pure metal base coat. I broke with style from the rest of my Guild models to do this one in TMM instead of NMM (cause I hate painting NMM, but more on that later). This model was a delight to paint and turned into quite an experiment. As you can see from the photos here, I've opted for a different backdrop due to the overall darkness of the model and to try out a backdrop that seems more suited for Malifaux in general. This model was pretty fragile to work with as the joints are very small and it extends out over the 50mm base by a lot. Still though, I feel like I got it safely on there, despite the overhang of 2 feet.

What went well:
* Taking my time! I didn't rush it and again solicited feedback.
* Dullcoating before doing metal highlights worked great. This was a tip I got from Lock&Load last year and decided to put it into practice. Between the last post and this one, the big difference was sealing it (including a final coat of dull coat), and then going back to highlight the metals. It really makes the whole thing pop nicely.
* Using pigments worked great for the weathering. I especially like the Secret Weapon Pigment Fixer for this.
* Blood pools on the ground really helped bring the scene to life for me. I'm getting more and more comfortable with doing this sort of adding to things I've legitimately "finished".
* Extra time in general on the base really helped as well. The model itself isn't particularly interesting, but adding some additional interest to the base helped a lot.

What could have been better:
* Could have been better oriented on the base, or some little platform to support that back foot. It's just a really long model so this was a difficult point.
* Thicker layers of pigments would have added more texture to the weathering. I'm still a complete novice with pigments so I need to get more practice at that.
* Something a bit more on the basing would have helped spice it up as well. Not really sure what. Maybe levels to the wood platform or raise it up, or even just a railing. Not sure there.

And as a point of comparison, I snapped an extra set of photos using my normal backdrop. This one actually was the best of the bunch. This model is pretty dark overall and the bright backdrop really drowns it out, but on this angle you get a bit better view of the one side and especially the blood pools.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

From the Desk: Weekend Roundup #39

Some random updates.

After literally months of not touching the Extrevean I finally picked it back up and continued work on the chitin. I put probably 5 or 6 coats of washes on it (my painting diary knows the details), and it's starting to take shape. Compared to the Miss Terious model I just finished up, this model is ridiculously large to be working with. In working on the chitin I realized that painting the flesh is going to be really challenging since I have to go back and base coat it all in between the chitin bits.

And here's my Hunter for Malifaux. I'd been thinking it was a Peacekeeper, but then I went to look at the pictures online and suddenly realized it was a Hunter. Silly me. In any case, I've been playing around with all kinds of nastying up on the metals on this model and really having fun. This picture is pretty terrible but it serves as a nice teaser. I started a base for it and hopefully I'll have it wrapped up before the end of the week.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Miss Terious

I finally called it quits on Miss Terious. I suppose one of the reasons that I was so unwilling to call it done was due to it being a limited edition sculpt and I would be unlikely to ever get my hands on another one. Or, more likely, that I just didn't feel like it matched up in quality to the other Death Marshals that I'd painted before. In either case, she's done and I'm happy with the work as it stands.

What went well:
* This is one of the better plastic sculpts I've worked with. Not perfect, but still quite good. There were a number of mold lines that I didn't discover until after starting painting, but I was able to disguise them pretty easily.
* Spending extra time, setting it aside, and generally being just a bit more patient really helped this model turn out better.
* Despite the sculpted detail not being as good as for the metal versions, the coffin worked out pretty well. I had to paint in additional wood grain to really make it come alive more, but it was worth the effort.
* Keeping the palette relatively simple, but using deeper variations of color within each surface really helped keep the piece fairly tight from an overall composition point of view.
* Being frustrated, ironically, helped rekindle my joy. As mentioned in another post, I think this model in particular (coupled with the post I read) really got me excited to find my joy and start challenging myself more again.
* Getting feedback from my friends (Mike, Lance and Henry) was really useful in keeping me going. Thanks guys!

What could have been better:
* I hate painting NMM. I honestly could have done way better at it, but just hate painting in that style.
* More time on the leathers and skin would have paid off eventually, but I was just getting stuck. I feel like I got them to an ok point but the skin especially could have used far more work to really make it smooth and realistic.
* Always comparing it to my original Death Marshals kept me constantly "looking in the rearview mirror". I think this psychologically was destructive for me.
* And finally, the scale of this model is noticeably smaller (or perhaps just thinner) than I've been used to working with and it threw me off a bit.

So that about wraps that up. I'm happy to have her done and I'm looking forward to fielding all 4 Death Marshals at once to see how they both perform and look not he battlefield.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Inspiration: Rekindling Joy

My painting time consists primarily of an hour of two, in the evenings, before crashing in bed. And not every evening obviously. As a result I have a strong pragmatic focus on getting models finished for the tabletop. I really do enjoy painting for a number of reasons. It's relaxing. It's cathartic. It engages a completely different part of my brain than my job does. And last but not least, I love the feeling of putting painted models on the table when I play a game. However I routinely get myself in a mindset of how am I going to get my huge mountain of models all painted, especially when I keep buying more. Now, let's set that context aside for a moment...

The other day though I read a really great post on Dims' Galleries. He talks about inspiration from talking with Roman Lappat of Massive Voodoo fame, and how Roman recommended really enjoying his project but not to be too eager to be finished. He gets at a concept of finding joy by challenging oneself in earnest. There's many ways to go about this as well. For example, when it first feels like a project is complete, set it aside for a couple days and then look at it with fresh eyes later. Go over every detail of the model. Put it under a camera and look at blow-up images of it. Turn the model upside down. Put it under bright light or dim light. All kinds of things to do. Whatever the processes taken, the key is an earnest desire to look at one's own work with an eye to make it better and not be satisfied.

This is a concept that I live by in many aspects of my own like: employee, husband, father, gamer. But when it comes to painting, lately I feel like I've fallen into a "I want to get stuff done" trap. After reading the post from Dims' blog, I want to get back in touch with that joy of painting. To that end, I've decided to take some real pragmatic steps on exploring my own painting style, skills, and what I really enjoy the most about painting. There will be more posts on it to come, but here's a quick pic of a side project I plan to not be eager to finish.

This will be the first bust I ever paint. I'm looking forward to it, but trying to encourage my patience to take action. I'm probably going to make some customization before I prime it, but I'm waiting for my inner muse to finish singing inspiration to me.

Monday, November 04, 2013

From the Desk: (Long) Weekend Roundup #38

Bonus vacation day today, so it was an extra long weekend!

First up are these terrain fences I finished building. They are made from metal mesh, matchsticks, poster board and floral wire. Nothing particularly complicated, but they took me several days to finish just because of the many steps required. The fences are roughly 2" tall and I tapered the ends of the bases so that they could be easily positioned together at angles. I also applied some damage to half of them. My favorite is the one where it's been cut at the bottom and peeled up as if someone crawled underneath. Thanks to my wife for that idea.

Next up are these objective markers that I'd previously posted about. Nothing fancy here except that I magnetized them so that I could remove them from their 50mm bases if I need 40mm markers instead. I also used some pigments on these to get a bit more practice with them.

And here's the progress on the Harriers so far. Nothing fancy, so moving along...

And finally Miss Terious. I'm still toying with this model but I think I'm about to call it finished. I'm just struggling and not quite feeling like this is an over-the-top project.

And now for sleep!