This Vampire Counts Zombie was very easy to paint. Broad swathes of solid colors, very little in the way of fiddly bits, and plenty of nooks and crevices in the sculpt to allow for clear and distinct shading. And because it was quite a simple model to paint up, I used it to practice my highlighting to a degree I've yet to attempt. If you look closely, you can see the second - lighter - colors I added to the basecoat of the tunic and the undercoat of the pants. The tunic was painted in Rookwood Red (an Americana craft paint) and the highlight was an Opaque Red from the Delta Ceramcoat line. The pants were the original black primer highlighted with Bridge Grey also from the Ceramcoat line of craft paints. Finally, the hair was also given the highlighting treatment. I basecoated it in Bridge Grey (over the black primer), then highlighted it with white before shading the valleys with the Badab Black Citadel Wash.
Personally, I'm pleased with the progress I made concerning highlighting with this model. Granted, it was a very easy model to experiment with. As I said before, the lack of tiny fiddly bits definitely made the highlighting process less imposing. Also, the many folds and wrinkles in the tunic and the pants were almost like signposts telling me where to apply the highlights. My highlighting usually turns ugly when I'm forced to guess where exactly the light would catch a certain part of the model. I guess that comes from a lack of artistic training in my life - I just don't naturally see shading and lighting. This deficiency in my painting is most glaring when it comes to the near-metallic metal technique. If you look at the pitchfork the zombie is wielding, the highlighting and shading there are non-existant at best and miserable at worst.
A word on the skin color for the zombie - this was fun to do. First, I basecoated with Bridge Grey, then I slowly added very thinned down layers of Light Flesh (from the Folkart line of paints). I was going for a pallid, but not pale look. I wanted some of the Bridge Grey to seep through in order to give the zombie a dessicated appearance. When I was satisfied with the coloring of his skin, I then added some Opaque Red lines (following the contours of his muscles and facial structure) to signify broken and rent skin before finally giving it a wash of Ogryn Flesh. Because the wash darkened the skin too much and gave it a very un-undead like flush, I gave the skin a few light, thinned down coats of Bridge Grey and then Light Flesh before calling it a day.
For more pics, click here.
Next up - I'll probably head back to my Imperial Guard Veterans Squad.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
As promised, here's the second member of one of my planned Blood Ravens tactical squads. Paintjob-wise, he doesn't look all that different from the first Blood Ravens Space Marine I did, but this second one was definitely a lot easier to do. Getting red acrylic paint to cover well is still a pain, but I've learned not to thin it down as much as I would with other paint colors. Based purely on my experience, the colors green (of all hues), white, black, and yellow have a strong opacity that allow me to paint them on over a black undercoat and achieve solid coverage with just a couple of coats while red, grey, and brown seem to take many more coats to achieve the same level of coverage. I've read on many miniature painting sites as well as in some miniature painting books that red is a notoriously difficult color to attain coverage with, so it's really just my luck that I chose the Blood Ravens as my Space Marine chapter of choice. Oh, well, hopefully after my 30th or so Blood Raven, I'll have mastered the art of getting coverage with red paint and can then impart my hard-won wisdom to you!
Again, this Blood Raven comes from the Assault on Black Reach set, so no conversions were done on him. The Black Reach marines are 3 piece snap fits - the body (including legs, torso and head in one piece), the boltgun (with both hands attached), and the powerpack - but the lack of convertability is more than offset by the low price you pay for the almost 50 models (marines plus orks) which come in the set. I do have a Space Marine from the Command Squad set (which allows you to mix and match legs, torsos, heads, arms, etc. to a greater degree) primed and assembled and ready to be painted, so I might experiment with some conversions on that figure. I've also got a fully converted Sternguard Veteran (patched together from Tactical Squad, Combat Squad, and Command Squad sprues) in the works. Either way, my next paintjob will probably also be a Blood Raven. Maybe. Hmm, I just might paint up some of the Warhammer Fantasy figures I've got sitting on my shelf...we'll see.
As usual, click here for more pics. Oh, and I know I still need to put chapter markings, squad markings, etc. on these Blood Ravens. I still haven't decided how I want to do it - transfers or free-hand. I had terrible luck with transfers on my Imperial Guard (which is why they also do not have markings on them) and my free-hand skills do not exist. I'm probably going to give transfers another try though, one of these days...
Sunday, May 24, 2009
I initially planned on having Specialist Condan wield the grenade launcher for my Veterans Squad, but after some deliberation (plus, more importantly, the arrival of some special weapons bits I purchased), I decided to give him a harder hitting weapon - a meltagun. It took a little converting though to put the meltagun in Condan's burly hands. First, I cut the grenade launcher that was originally attached to his right hand. Then I trimmed off the grip of the meltagun and glued the meltagun onto Condan's now weaponless right hand. Finally, I detached the stock of the meltagun in order to make the weapon fit snugly under his right arm. Nothing all that complicated, but it is interesting how this one hobby challenges you simultaneously in so many different ways. Obviously, the primary challenge (for me, at least) is mastering the painting process. However, learning how to convert figures in ever more complex ways is also an integral challenge of this hobby (and one I oftentimes find even more enjoyable than painting). And finally, activities like basing, building dioramas, scratch-building vehicles and buildings, sculpting bits and even whole models with greenstuff/ putty/ epoxy contribute to the depth of this hobby in a whole host of ways. Finally, throw in the wargaming aspect (if you are so inclined to participate in that aspect of the hobby), and you have a truly multifaceted craft to sink your teeth into.
Personally, I think Specialist Condan's paintjob has been the cleanest and smoothest I've produced thus far. My brush control has really improved by leaps and bounds since I first picked up this hobby. To anyone who has just picked up the painting of miniature models, do not be discouraged by your first attempts at the hobby. When I first started painting these models, I literally could not keep my paint from smudging and wandering and dotting everywhere except where I wanted them on the miniature. Brush control is muscle control and the more you paint, the more brush control you will inevitably develop.
So, my Veterans Squad is up to 5. I have 2 Veterans primed and ready to go (1 vox-caster operator and 1 carrying the demolition charge), 2 spots reserved for a Heavy Weapon Team, and a final spot probably going to another Veteran carrying a special weapon (plasma gun or heavy flamer, maybe?). Still, I don't want to burn myself out on Cadian Guardsmen, so I think I'm going to head back to my Blood Ravens Space Marines for a little bit and try to get a few of them painted up next.
Click here for more pics.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
One shot, one kill. Specialist Ruddard reporting for duty, sir! It might seem like I'm churning out these miniatures fast and furiously (what with the ork post going up just yesterday), but in the spirit of full disclosure, the Ork Boy had already been practically completed and sitting on my desk waiting to be touched up and varnished for about a week when I started up on Ruddard. So, I'm still painting about 1-2 miniatures a week. Which probably seems very slow, for sure. Now, this isn't for lack of motivation. In fact, painting during the wee hours of the night, after my wife has gone to bed, is incredibly relaxing to me. I just paint very slowly. And carefully. And I think I almost enjoy assembling and converting models and building bases more than painting, so alot of my hobby time goes into that as well.
Specialist Ruddard, astonishingly enough, was originally intended to be the sergeant of my Veterans Squad. The pic on the right shows what he looked like when I first assembled him. Gone are the pointing right arm, the Catachan head, and the left hand chainsword with sergeant's arm patch. Instead, I replaced his head with a hooded Wood Elf Glade Guard, his right and left arms with standard Cadian lasgun arms from the Shock Troops sprue, and glued a Glade Guard cloak to his back. I also made some conversions to his lasgun - I cut the barrel off an Empire Pistolier's rifle and used it to extend the lasgun's barrel, glued a scope from, I believe, a Space Marine Command sprue, and made a bipod from a Dark Elf Repeater Crossbow. Overall, Specialist Ruddoch has been my most enjoyable and satisfying conversion to date. I think I did a decent job converting a Standard Guardsman into a reasonable facsimile of a Cadian sniper. Click here for more pics.
Also, the paint job represents my ongoing attempt to incorporate highlighting into my painting routine. At the moment, my highlighting skills are tentative and clumsy. I still do not have the brush control to paint thin enough nor straight enough highlighting lines along the upraised edges of things. Also, my blending skills are non-existent. Well, I didn't expect it to be easy.
I'll close this post with a pictorial comparison of my Veterans Squad and my Standard Guardsmen squad. I like how the conversions for my Veterans has allowed them to look every bit the grizzled survivors of hellish dystopian battles while my Standard Guardsmen almost look like children in newly minted uniforms in comparison.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Well, a couple of weeks after painting my first Ultramarine, I present to you my first Warhammer 40k Ork! All in all, he was fairly easy to paint. He would've been even easier had I stuck to the black Clan Goff paint pattern that the Assault on Black Reach painting guide demonstrated, but I'm not too confident in my ability to use black as a primary color. Black as an undercoat is fine, but attempting to bring black to life through highlighting and layering and such still confounds me. I've read on various on-line and print miniature painting guides that black and white are two of the hardest primary colors to work with, and I can believe it. So, I changed the color scheme of my first ork, making him more rugged and outdoorsy rather than Mad Max/ Hell's Angels leathery as the Goff Clan is apparently supposed to be emulating. In hindsight, it looks like I subconsciously painted my ork as a member of the Snakebite Clan.
This ork is also my first attempt at integrating highlighting into my regular painting routine. Not too impressive at all, the highlighting, but it's going to be a slow process. As I mentioned in my previous post, it's taken me almost 6 months to become comfortable with my brush control and my shading (via washes) so I'm not going to rush myself in regards to gaining proficiency over the more advanced techniques up ahead. By the way, he's not quite done. I'll probably add some more bits to his base, then touch up the paint job a bit before matte varnishing him.
Personally, the ork wasn't all that interesting to paint. I dunno. I can't imagine having to paint up the numberless hordes of them necessary to field an army in 40k, but I guess to each his or her own. For all the monotony that the Imperial Guard seems to present, I've had far more fun painting the 7 (and counting) Guardsmen I've assembled than I had painting this one ork. But since the Black Reach starter set comes with, oh, almost 30 ork figures, I better find something to like about them soon.
As usual, click here for more pics.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Welcome to the Imperial Guard, Veteran Sergeant Greyloch! Just finished shading him with Citadel washes (Ogryn Flesh for the skin; Badab Black for the flak armor, metallic parts, the cloak, and the insignia bits; Devlan Mud for the khaki parts of the uniform) and bringing the upraised areas back up to the basecolor. For the eagle-eyed among you, you'll notice that Sergeant Greyloch has changed a bit from the WIP photos I put up in my last post. His base model was originally to be a standard bearer for my Hardened Veteran squad, but it turns out...Hardened Vet squads don't get standard bearers! Only Command Squads do. On top of that, I had armed the standard bearer with a plasma pistol which is a weapon only a Sergeant of a squad can wield. Now, even though I don't plan on playing games of Warhammer 40k in the foreseeable future (and thus aren't barred from breaking the army list rules and rewriting them for my own purposes for fear of having my work wasted when I'm not allowed to field my conversions in a game), I personally find more enjoyment in creatively interpreting the rules as they are written. I guess it's the same reason why I find poetry with definite rules regarding rhyme sequence and metered lines (English sonnets, for instance) more interesting than free verse.
As for the paint job - I think I'm able, at the moment, to consistently put out table-top quality figures. In Greyloch's case, his paint job doesn't seem worse or better than any of the last 2 or 3 Guardsmen I've done (although I did mess up Greyloch's left eye). I believe from this point forward, I'll be focusing on improving and mastering my highlights. It's taken me about 5-6 months to get this far; I'm hoping after a year, I'll be moving on to the more advanced techniques of wet blending, layering, glazing, and, of course, near-metallic metals. I've also decided to hold off on buying proper model paint until the end of the year.
Oh, and I've settled on a nickname for my Hardened Veterans squad! I'm going to call them "The 50/50s" because according to their fatalistic and cynical view of things, life and death are determined purely by the flip of a coin - 50% of the time, the bullet (or something even worse) finds you and tears you to bits, and the other 50% of the time, the bullet whizzes past your ear.
For more pics, click here.
Up next - an Ork Boy from the Assault on Black Reach starter set that I've almost completed.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Here are four WIP (Works in Progress) Hardened Veterans that I'll be getting to soon. The image on the left is the first of the four. Let's call him Specialist Slagan. He's armed with a shotgun converted from a Space Marine Scout sprue. I had to, first, cut the shotgun off the Scout arm at the hand, then cut and file down the left hand which was gripping the shotgun at the barrel. After that, I just glued it onto an Imperial Guard arm from the Shock Troop box set. Turned out pretty well, I think, pretty seamless. The head with gas mask of Specialist Slagan is from a set of Pig Iron Productions bits I purchased on-line. The helmet on the Pig Iron head isn't an exact match for the Cadian pattern helmet, but it's close enough, especially when one takes into account the fluff of the Hardened Vets. In his left hand, I glued a Space Marine meltabomb, I believe it is, and will be counting it as a demolition charge. He is wearing a backpack from the Catachan Heavy Weapons sprue and a dagger from the Vampire Counts Grave Guard sprue.
Next, we have Sergeant Greyloch. At the moment, he has 3 different conversions, but I'll soon be adding a 4th major conversion piece which will fully bring him to life. The 3 visible conversions at the moment are a right arm from the Cadian Heavy Weapons sprue, a ribbon on his right shoulder pad from, if I remember correctly, a Space Marine sprue, and a Catachan head. The 4th conversion (which I've already done a dry test run on to make sure it fits) is a cloak from a High Elf sprue. The cloak will flow dramatically off his collar, giving the illusion of movement and dynamic action, I hope. Aside from cloak, Sergeant Greyloch will be getting a handful of fiddly bits in the form of pouches and most likely a holstered laspistol to round him out.
WIP number 3 is Corporal Ruddard. He's going to be a standard bearer. Due to the nature of how his feet are positioned, I couldn't get him to stand up on his own, so I leaned him up against a book. (It occurred to me later that I could have temporarily stuck him onto a base with some ticky-tack or something, but alas.) Ruddard's right arm wielding a plasma pistol comes from a Space Marine. Although the scale of the arm is slightly off compared to other Cadian arms, it helps that GW's (Games Workshop) models are all slightly exaggerated anyway, so the effect isn't too off-putting, I don't think. His head is a Catachan one, like Sergeant Greyloch's, and so is his canteen and sheathed machete. The feather dangling from the scabbard of his machete comes from a High Elf sprue. Glued to Ruddard's back is a pouch bit from a Warhammer Fantasy Dwarf Miner sprue. As for the standard which is left hand is supposed to be raising, I experimented with a banner and arm from the Dark Elf Warrior sprue, but the arm turned out to be way too puny. It almost looked like a shriveled up twig compared to the rest of Ruddard's body. But, it fit and it was one of the few left arm/ banner bits I had (the others are all right hand/ banner bits). Still, I'm going to keep searching for a more in-scale solution to the left arm/ banner problem, but I am willing to consider experimenting with green stuff on the Dark Elf arm if my search for the right bit comes up short.
The fourth soon to be member of my Hardened Veterans squad is Specialist Condan - the Special Weapon trooper. He's currently armed with a standard Cadian grenade launcher, but if I can get my hands on a Cadian Special Weapons bit, then I'll definitely swap it out for either a plasma gun or a meltagun. Condan's probably the least converted out of these 4 - his head is from a Bretonnian Men-at-Arms sprue, I think, while his backpack and backpouch are from the Dwarf Miner sprue and a Space Marine sprue respectively.
Well, I hope you enjoy a look at some WIP. I think I'll start doing more of these kinds of posts. Part of the pleasure, for me, about this hobby is all of the various ways you can let your imagination run wild when putting these little guys together. Converting is oftentimes even more fun than painting (while cleaning flash and mold lines is the least fun).
Oh, and by the way, the first two Hardened Veterans I posted are called Corporal Marsham (he's the dude with the 5 o'clock shadow) and Specialist Blacker (he's the dude with the claw). As for the squad nickname, I'm still working on it. Strangely enough, it's harder than I thought.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
I think skeleton miniatures were created for the express purpose of stroking egos. Not only was this figure incredibly quick to paint but the results were better than expected. He could use with some more highlights, but that's a skill I'm still attempting to learn and master.
There really was nothing difficult about painting up this skeleton warrior miniature. I used an ivory color to basecoat the bone and then washed it with Devlan Mud. I didn't have a turquoise colored paint in my collection, so I just went true blue for the breastplate, helmet, and shield, and since I abhor true metallics (or at least the cheapy craft paint metallics I own), I opted for a non-metallic antique gold for the studs and embellishments.
I must say, in the photo, the base looks a little strange. Almost like a mound of sawdust or something, but in reality, the base is made from sand, colored pebbles, and bits of dried moss. I'm beginning to think in this case, less might have been more, and I probably added a bit too much to the base.
In closing, I highly recommend painting skeletons for the novice miniature figure painter. They're easy and the results, with just a little bit of brush control and use of washes/ inks for shading, give the illusion of a higher skill level.
Click here for more pics.
Monday, May 4, 2009
No sooner had I put the finishing touches on my Ultramarine did I dump him in the "bath" (i.e., a tupperware container filled with the cleaning fluid Simple Green) and strip him of all of his paint. I always knew I would be bored painting an entire army of Ultramarines, so after doing some research into the various Space Marine chapters, I settled on the Blood Ravens as the chapter I'd paint for 2 main reasons: 1) I haven't used red much in the models I've painted up til now, so I wanted to practice working with red, and 2) due to their inclusion in the Dawn of War RTS games, the Blood Ravens have a good amount of fluff and background information to work with.
The Simple Green bath worked like a charm. It's been my stripping technique of choice since I started this hobby. Simple Green is a non-toxic cleaner, so the dangers from fumes and exposure to skin are minimal. (I still wouldn't drink the stuff or inhale it in a non-ventilated room, though!) For metal models, I've kept them in the bath for 24-36 hours without any damage (aside from some darkening of the resin which can be easily scrubbed off with warm water and a toothbrush). The Ultramarine was my first attempt at stripping a plastic model with Simple Green, and I was a little worried that the cleaning agent would melt it so I only kept it in for about 4-6 hours. Well, I'm happy to report that there were no visible signs of plastic damage and the paint scrubbed off cleanly after such a short immersion.
As for the paintjob on the model itself, I'm pretty happy with it. Again, the neat basecoating, the shading with Citadel washes, the clean lines and sharp features are becoming more and more common place in my miniature figure painting. I'm slowly building enough confidence in my abilities to start experimenting with the more advanced techniques. At this point, I think I'm consistently putting out table-top quality paintjobs, and considering I've only been painting seriously for less than half a year, I think my progress has been acceptable.
One more thing - I'm still debating whether to use a water-slide transfer to apply the chapter symbol onto this Blood Raven's left shoulder pad or to attempt free-handing the symbol.
Click here for more pics.