Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Lasercut MDF buildings and Salute

Earlier this month I took my first trip to Salute, having seen and heard many a great thing about the event in London. I could only visit for the afternoon, so time was short but I managed to see lots of amazing set-ups, boards, games and stalls, even if I did not have time to actually game. 

I have plenty of models to paint, so even though I was very tempted to buy some Mierce monsters or some Hasslefree adventurers or some of the other amazing (and unknown to me) company's models, I decided that I wanted to try out some of the lasercut scenery. I eventually settled upon the below, both at about £15 each from different stands; unfortunately I have forgotten the names of the brands now. Below is a three storied Tudor manor house; each layer comes apart:

As you can see, I have made a few moderations. Even though the kits are wonderful in terms of how easy they are to construct and how good they look as scale buildings, they do understandably, lack any texture. This is most obvious in the roof and and the brickwork. So I reverted to the tried and tested cereal packet cardboard shingles for the roof and decided to carve into the mortar between stones as seen below. This technique did not take as long as expected because the laser cutter had created an outline that had enough depth that meant that I could dig out a layer with my scalpel for the stone work to remain raised.

Below is a watermill model, where I just did not add the watermill to the side. I've made the same moderations as above to improve the texture of the building. I'll probably add some sand/pva for some mossy areas too.

On reflection, these mdf lasercut models are very easy to work with and relatively cheap too. They are certainly quicker to put together than any of the scratchbuilt/foamcard models that I have previously made. I think they will sit well alongside each other and I intend to continue investing time and money into both. Scratchbuilding will lend itself well to some of the more unique ideas for buildings that I have.

I also had time to enter the 'Eavier Metal speed painting competition. We were given a Mantic model, some paint (in bottles and already out on a palette, some brushes, water and 20minutes to paint. It was intense! Being out of my comfort zone (not having my own equipment) an audience (I had one woman leaning over my shoulder as I painted!) and a time limit was sweat inducing and I had to make some very quick decisions about colour schemes based upon the colours that were available. I jumped into the skin tones first, going for multiple washes and tried to paint other areas as they dried. My hand was not as steady as I was used too and I really struggled when it came to doing some quick highlights and details. The time flew by and I just about managed to finish and was lucky enough to be chosen by the judges as a winner for my group! I won a lovely Eavier Metal mug for my efforts!

Salute was great, next time I will make sure I have time to get some games of new games in and maybe meet up with a few people I know.
Painting of the buildings is underway and I will post updates on those next.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Bandai Y-Wing 1:72

I'm having building work done on my house which means that I've had to lose my hobby space. I wasn't in the best run of form anyway, so this has really hampered my productivity. To get out of the dust zone, my kids and I went to my parents for the weekend and as is customary, I had a rummage around my old bedroom in the hope of finding a few nuggets of nostalgia and hopefully old models! Well I found one! A boxed Bandai Y-Wing (1:72) that I received for Christmas a few years ago. Joy. With my parents taking the kids out for the day, I set to work on constructing the tiny, detailed model.

Having worked on some quite difficult Airfix models with my son (small fiddly bits that need lots of gluing and don't fit particularly well) I was amazed that I did not need any glue to make successfully build this and the level of detail and quality was pretty astounding. I would definitely recommend these kits to any serious model-maker.

I wish I had the larger scale version to fit in with my Star Wars Imperial Assault minis, but I can imagine creating a diorama where this hangs in the sky, it's smaller scale lost in the perspective of distance.

Once the kit was built the yellows were painted on (rather than use the rubbish decals) and then the weathering which was done very quickly. Without applying a primer, I washed a dirty brown, very dilute oil paint mixture over the entire model and when dry applied a further range of acrylic washes over this including blacks for the burnt effect near the engines and browns over some of the pipes. A few of the details, including the pilot, droid and lights were then picked out with acrylic paint.

Overall it was a very enjoyable day making and painting this. Back home, I've established a temporary site for my hobby exploits, so (fingers crossed) expect a few more posts in the near future of a variety of different projects.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Part 2. The Story of the Adventures of Roi; a pleasant yet introverted, middle-aged Dwarf who is not intrepid but who has to overcome his fears to begin an unwanted life as an Adventurer.

Part 2. The Story of the Adventures of Roi; a pleasant yet introverted, middle-aged Dwarf who is not intrepid but who has to overcome his fears to begin an unwanted life as an Adventurer.

Having almost turned back, his sudden fearlessness evaporating as he crossed the town's edge bridge, Roi steeled himself once more to go out and adventure. He thought of the death of his family and those faceless green beasts that had murdered them in their sleep. Again, it wasn't a hatred towards them, more of a mild curiosity. Could they be reasoned with? What were their motives? Having thought about the retaliatory raids conducted by the Town Guard, Roi wondered whether there really was much of a difference between his ilk and theirs anyway. It was with these thoughts, absorbing Roi's attentions as he walked past the stone bridge and into the darkening valley, that he was suddenly aware of a high-pitched chittering noise.

At first he dismissed it as some wild animal snuffling around in the bushes, but soon the same sound was in stereo. He paused and felt the weight of his mace in his right hand and brought his shield to bear forward in his left. The chittering escalated to a kind of squealing, not a frightening noise in itself but more so when replicated. It felt like the creatures making the noise were almost building themselves into a frenzy, trying to reach a crescendo. All of a sudden the noise stopped. The silence oppressive. Roi was motionless. Then from amongst the gorse Roi spotted the glinting red eyes, pointy ears of a little greenskinned creature. It emerged, tentatively, with a rusty spear lowered in his direction and started to make some guttural noises interspersed with a weak, hacking cough. Roi turned fractionally towards it and both stood facing each other, now in silence. From his left side he heard twigs cracking and out emerged another one of these goblins, a rusted club held in two hands. Again the pause from the creature, it didn't want to come too close. Roi felt slightly emboldened, not brave, his knees were shaking and he was tempted to start to walk backwards towards the safety of the other side of the bridge. But he was rooted to the spot. Perhaps this was mistaken for steadfast bravery by the little green, pointy eared creatures. Just as Roi was starting to think about approaching the goblin with the club (he was slightly nearer and seemed more timid) the whistling sound of an arrow flew behind him, not particularly close. Keeping an eye on the two goblins already in front of him, Roi slowly turned his head to his right to see another scrawny goblin fiddling with his short bow, reloading again but making a hash of it, all fingers and thumbs. Roi felt a complete abstraction of the scene and was amazed the he had not run, screamed or pissed himself. Yet. The goblin with the spear took two steps towards Roi, who lowered his weapon, as if to invite him on further. He could hear the deep, jagged breaths of the goblin and the slimy mucus travelling up between it's throat and mouth. He was desperate for the goblin to spit it out. His senses seemed alive, he felt alert and for the first time, perhaps ever, Roi smiled a smile that emanated from deep inside his being.

At that very moment, the loudest "bang" Roi had ever heard, broke the tableau and shattered his moment of clarity. A smouldering mess remained from where the spear armed goblin had once stood and Roi was quick to notice that scuttering feet and wailing screams broke from where the two other greenskins had once stood. A familiar, affable chortle sounded from behind him and Roi needed not to turn to face the laugh, knowing full well that his friend Kharmur was there, blunderbuss in his hands. When Roi did turn he watched Kharmur's smile dissipate. Perhaps his friend was expecting a warmer welcome from Roi, or perhaps Kharmur noticed a slight change in Roi's demeanour; he was after all slightly upset that the moment had been taken from him. Roi quickly gathered himself and approached his old friend with an embrace and a thanks, but that moment between them had been real and would not be discussed. They spoke now as normally as they could, Roi thanking his friend and Kharmur murmuring there being no need.

It was again unspoken that Roi now had a companion; he knew that no matter what he said, Kharmur was here for the journey.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Part 1. The Story of the Adventures of Roi; a pleasant yet introverted, middle-aged Dwarf who is not intrepid but who has to overcome his fears to begin an unwanted life as an Adventurer.

Part 1. The Story of the Adventures of Roi; a pleasant yet introverted, middle-aged Dwarf who is not intrepid but who has to overcome his fears to begin an unwanted life as an Adventurer.

As his world crumbled around him, Roi experienced familiar emotions that previously he had only a suppressed acquaintance with; fear, loneliness and impotence.

His family murdered in their sleep by a raiding party of Orcs, Roi survived only because he had been at his local tavern, the Stumbling Inn, having his usual one tankard of ale whilst dinner was being prepared. Sitting there nursing his drink, he had been one of the last to respond to the growing commotion outside, relishing his ale after a familiarly easy day in the gem store he worked at. He became intrigued and looked outside and witnessed an unfamiliar energy and noise outside; from the shouting of multiple voices he could pick out the different tones denoting panic and or indicating orders being given. Amongst this the quick shuffle of feet as the local town guard sauntered down the alley, southbound towards his plot of land. He was torn between finishing the last quarter of his ale in the deserted tavern, or go and investigate. He was normally neither curious or inquisitive, those traits only caused trouble and he would usually let others deal with problems. But the crowd were moving away, southbound and that was where he lived.

His house was aflame and initially he thought that Thelma had had an accident whilst cooking and was wondering whether he should berate her about this, or whether she would need comforting. Confrontation was not a strength of his, so he decided to approach his house, through the crowds and find and comfort his wife and two children, Thogran and Thalgrim, who would undoubtedly be inconsolable and in tears. Emotions he didn't want to deal with. But as he approached and the crowds saw him he was stopped by their faces. Anger and pity were etched in their expressions, why did he suddenly feel guilty? He adjusted his hearing as brethren were addressing him; "I'm so sorry". "Fucking cowardly, shitty greenskins". Alternating tones between pity and anger and it then hit him smack in the stomach; his family were no more, the fire was the remains of his life, taken in his absence.

After weeks of moping (Roi figured he was allowed to be self-indulgent over this) his friends visited him less and less and he was left alone with his thoughts. They were divided between memories of the past and concerns for the future but neither were particularly practical. Apparently the Guard had smashed a few greenskin settlements in the nearby mountains in retaliation and as a warning to not approach again, but there was little else anyone could do for Roi now. He was living in the annex to his burnt out home and some local craftsman had begun making some repairs, initially with enthusiasm and vigour but now with a more detached air and and less dedicated commitment. Time passed slowly. Roi understood why. He felt like he should have some sort of grudge to bear to his family's murderers, but they were just faceless, angry and vicious monsters to him. Certainly that's how he pictured them in his terrifying dreams.

The fear, loneliness and impotence which had always been there in his life, just stifled, were now oppressive, overwhelming feelings; baggage that burdened him with every thought and movement, every plan or desire. He was sitting in a donated chair (how he missed his old one), famished but with no motivation to feed himself from anything in his larder. How did all that food get there? When was the last time he gathered his own food? When did he last show any kind of initiative or intent? Why was he festering here, the town-folk completely accepting of his detachment and malaise? Was this it for him now?

He shot up, put on his leather boots, rummaged for his old leather satchel and filled it with provisions from his larder. He went out to the old barn where an old wooden shield hung on the outside doors and snuck around to Kharmur's neighbouring house. Kharmur was asleep snoring in his rocking chair on the porch, so Roi tiptoed past and into his house. There above his fireplace was the shiny mace that was his pride and joy, from when Kharmur had been captain of the Guard. A brief moment of indecision from Roi, after all it was stealing, but somehow he thought that Kharmur would understand. He lifted the mace off it's fixings and marvelled at it's weight, lighter than expected but satisfyingly heavy. And off Roi walked, past Kharmur, whose eyes were now slightly open and whose mouth was slightly wider with a grin and towards the bridge that marked the edge of the town.

Roi, setting off on his adventure.

Roi, having second thoughts...

After a little chat with himself, he sets off once again, determined to be intrepid.
And some closer-up photos showing Roi posing in the photography studio:

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Layers of character

When I'm sitting at my allocated hobby space, about to start painting an individual character miniature (as opposed to batch painting) I realise that in my head, as I look at the piece of sculpted lead, I contemplate bringing it to life with some sort of colour scheme. I'm sure I'm not alone in having this internal monologue about how I am going to make this mass consumed model, unique and interesting to paint; in other words flesh him or her out by creating a backstory and therefore an individual character. This all happens before and sometimes whilst painting. One of the joys of older Citadel miniatures from the 80s is that they are so very characterful and individual and when I look at the details or the expressions, or clothing or weapons I can easily imagine a backstory to the character and I like to think the original sculptor would have done the same as he was mixing the green-stuff. The dwarf adventurer range is a prime example. These aren't well equipped, beefy mono-pose  soldiers but rather that wonderful pathetic aesthetic from this era; the flawed, ill-equipped, even scared or wary looking models from a bygone era. I challenge you to not find these quirky, bearded stunties interesting and characterful!

So once I've chosen which of these models to buy (I now only buy models that have character and that I want to paint, otherwise it has to be converted) I start the painting process and it hit home as I was about to paint this dwarf adventurer, that I was having an unusually long internal chat with myself (perhaps even with the model) to find out who he is and how that will determine my painting approach. Here he is with some base coats on, the decisions behind each is outlined below:

Now this fella is to be the hero of my tale as I narrate and build a dwarf warband around him. I needed to make decisions about how to paint him and this depended on such questions as to whether, for example, he is  young or old, wealthy or poor. In more depth, his age determines the colour of his beard, his wealth determines the condition of his weapons, armour and attire, his wealth is determined by his success as an adventurer etc, etc.

So I decided he was to be old, poor and not very well equipped (more on the backstory when he's finished). I then gathered a few images to help me paint in these realistically and tried to colour match them with the paints I would use to recreate them:

 Balor brown and Dawnstone

Mournfang brown and baneblade brown (lighter areas with Balor brown or dry pigment)

Doombull brown and black. Scratches with Balor brown.

Baneblade Brown and Dawnstone 

So with the model now nearly finished, the decisions I made in my colour palette and the choices I made in his appearance have helped me make my own unique miniature, especially when I write about his backstory in my next post. I see these two elements of the hobby as intrinsically linked and (in my book) there should be no random approach to painting or collecting miniatures! Choose a characterful model (or convert one) and create your own character out of that characterful model!

Friday, 22 February 2019

Fusion Taxi Services

Gillette's packaging for it's Fusion razor blades is completely over the top. Each razor blade given it's own little plastic compartment trying to tell the consumer that THIS IS A LUXURY ITEM. Well, Gillette, I've trash-bashed your packaging into something a damn site better than for what you intended, a Rogue Trader hover taxi!

This was inspired by the current competition on The Emporium of Rogue Dreams: Old School Gaming Facebook page, where a skiff-bash challenge is underway. I had the competition in mind as I was about to throw away the aforementioned packaging and it struck me just how interesting the shapes actually were; the curved front, the hollowed out areas with slanting backs... what else could come into my mind except a hover car with lots of seats. And what vehicle needs lots of seats? Well a automated taxi service of course!

So from here I scrounged together a few other pieces, the family craft cardboard is a place I rarely venture in (it's a mess of felt, string, glitter glue and felt tips) but I vaguely recalled the interesting shapes of felt tip pen lids in that they may correspond to a kind of propeller shape. In the big box of shit that holds felt tip pens (many dried up without their lids), I scrambled to the bottom of the box to find those missing lids. I found a perfect one (with a kind of interior compartment shape that looked sexy and propeller like) but of course not a second one. So I just pilfered one from a perfectly healthy felt tip pen which is now dried up and useless. I should have used this as an opportunity to clear out the box, but did not want to disrupt my creative energy and stall my momentum. One of the kids can do it and anyway the referee in our house, doesn't know. The felt tip lids were filed flat on one side (deliberately roughly) and then superglued to the side rear of the hover craft.

I then dug out a few miscast sci-fi bits I was gifted at an event, dual exhausts, double lights and single lights and glued these in the appropriate places (after a bit of playing with their positions) on to the front and rear and was then ready to go and paint. Well not quite, to capture the hover aspect of the vehicle I built a hidden stand out of the end of a pen, inserted a rare earth magnet into the top of it and then drilled a corresponding hole to the underside of the hovercraft to accommodate the other magnet. The craft could now be removed from it's base (which helped for painting and can be removed and replaced by another vehicle if I ever get around to making another). Oh and it makes it look like it hovers too.

The painting stage was relatively straightforward. Black primer for the inside, masked this off and white primer on the outside. I added a few blended, vertical dark grey stripes to the seats to give them a textured fabric feel and then dabbed on a variety of rust colours onto the outside. Around these I added a range of silvers to show scratch marks and the revealed metal of the vehicle where the yellow paint and rust had de-laminated. The yellow layers were then blended in, black taxi details applied and finally I went back to the rust areas and textured them with some weathering pigments and then weathered the entire vehicle with some thinned washes.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Continuing the baggage train...

I'm usually pretty good at remembering from which company I bought my miniatures from (I try and buy from a wide range of producers), but on this occasion I cannot remember, so please remind me if you can.

I remember buying this for my baggage train idea; I like the downtrodden, abjectivity of the peasant and the ox and then decided to load up his cart with some bits which I didn't need but which could be handy for a mercenary baggage train. Quivers of arrows, some shields and a cask of ale in this case. I find these type of miniatures with lots of wood and cloth and little dynamism quite difficult to paint, so I'm pleased to get through it.

Like my previous post, I've half and half based it to fit both of my mini worlds.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

The start of a baggage train

3rd Edition Warhammer Armies introduced me to the idea of a baggage train to accompany an army; the riff-raff hanging around for personal gain, the wounded and useless, the non-fighting (and from a gaming perspective - non-playing) characters could add so much flavour and character to an army and spawn a load of ideas about different scenarios. A defensive skirmish to protect the supply line. An ambush of an unsuspecting baggage train, the dawning realisation that a victorious army on the battlefield has been ultimately defeated because it no longer has it's baggage train... and so on.

So a few years ago I got hold of some ex-Citadel, now Foundry mules and quickly painted them up over the weekend.

To allow these models to be used in both city and battlefield environments (and to fit in with the two types of basing I have going on) I decided to go half and half. They can only walk to the right in a Mordheim/Frostgrave/Dungeon setting (cobblestones) and can only walk left on the battlefield.

Or perhaps they are saving wear and tear on their horseshoes by walking on the grass verge next to the road:

It always helps my motivation when painting to think of the miniatures backstory and how they fit into my plans. I currently only have a growing Nurgle army (and I want to do a Carnival/Calvalcade for their baggage - but that's for another day) so I tied these to my Mercenary contingent "The Blotted" and decided to do a little photoshoot where they are being escorted by the mercenary band. Perhaps these mules are carrying the loot and money earnt from another (successful?) venture and the vagabonds are protecting their haul.

Oh and here they are joined by an Otherworld Miniatures mule, in a slightly desolate town (more buildings needed...). The beginnings of a baggage train...?