Saturday, June 20, 2009

25 - Tariq, Dune Ranger

Reaper rampage! I realize the From the Warp bloggers group is primarily dedicated to Games Workshop miniatures and wargaming, but you'll have to excuse my forays into other manufacturers' miniature lines. On occasion, painting armies gets tiresome. While I enjoy the characterfulness and fluff of GW's miniatures, the monotony of, for instance, applying Hunter Green, Fawn, Skintone over and over on my Imperial Guard troopers sometimes sinks my desire to sit down and paint. Of course, it's the very characterfulness and fluff of GW's worlds that also consistently pull me back to Warhammer miniatures. Hey, like the commercial once said: "Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't."

This Reaper miniature is called Tariq, Dune Ranger. He's a wonderful sculpt by Julie Guthrie, very detailed and incredibly fun to paint. His outfit is well-designed, tailor-made for ink-washes and strong, contrasting colors. When I first approached the planning stage for painting Tariq, I worried that I'd go overboard with his color scheme and turn the poor guy into a walking rainbow. But the way he's sculpted kind of channels you into making smart color choices. While the model may seem overloaded with little embellishments and layer upon layer of different textures and surfaces, he, in fact, can be broken down to a mere 4 distinct parts - his armor, his undertunic, his billowing cape, and his tassled sash. Thus, rather than be seduced by the many overlapping parts on this model to start applying colors willy-nilly, I settled on 4 primary colors for those 4 distinct parts - Bridge Grey for the armor, Ivory for the undertunic, Green Isle for the cape, and Coastline Blue for the tassled sash. I then used Antique Gold for the fine details.

Tariq's base is constructed from a large piece of torn up cork from a cork board, real sand, and bits of moss purchased at Michael's. The actual base is two pieces of 25mm round wood glued together.

I think Tariq turned out pretty well. I've been browsing through some of the pictures I took of my earliest efforts at painting miniatures, and I'm very happy with how I've progressed. I still remember how disenchanted I felt with my first few miniatures - the messy lines, the clumpy surfaces, the poor color choices.

Well, I promise my next few miniatures will be Games Workshop related. I've finally received my Cadian Heavy Flamer bit in the mail which means I can finish off my Imperial Guard Veterans Squad (minus the Heavy Weapons Team). But maybe not. I honestly don't feel motivated to paint up more Imperial Guard. Maybe I'll try a High Elf or Eldar model.

Click here for more pics of Tariq.

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

24 - Foundry Miniatures Painting and Modeling Guide Review

The internet has definitely made the hobby of painting and modeling miniature figures much less frustrating and more accessible to the beginner. There are innumerable sites available that provide excellent tutorials, tips, and videos on everything from priming to base coating to basing to varnishing, etc. But as a lover of books, nothing beats being able to flip through pages, taking your time studying photographs of well-painted figures, devouring step by step instructions from the comfort of a sofa or your bed or your workstation. And in my opinion, Kevin Dallimore's Foundry Miniatures Painting and Modeling Guide is one of the best how-to paint miniature figure books out there, especially for the beginning hobbyist. Here's my review of the book.

Pros: 176 pages of glossy, high-quality pages filled with Dallimore and other painters' miniatures. Dallimore breaks down the book in a sensible way - from painting miniatures in one color for the beginner (essentially, painting models purely with basecoating, eschewing the more advanced techniques of shading and highlighting) to the more involved two-color and three-color methods (where he explains how to use lighter and darker colors either through ink washes or layering to achieve a greater sense of depth). Dallimore particularly spends a great deal of time on how to paint flesh properly and convincingly. The step-by-step tutorials are invaluable. Unlike other how-to books where the author might show a picture of a primed figure in one photograph and then a fully painted figure in the next photo accompanied by some vague textual descriptions about how this magical process was accomplished, Dallimore walks the reader through every single step in the painting process. Photographs of the work in process figures are shown from multiple perspectives and varying degrees of completion. He also does an excellent job of explaining the more mundane aspects of painting such as the proper way to drag a brush across the surface of a model or how thinned out the paint should be for a particular painting technique. While the great bulk of the book focuses on painting figures, about 30-40 pages are also given over to general tutorials on basing, converting, and building scenery/ dioramas.

Cons: There is a lot of repetition in this book. Dallimore admits this up-front in the first few pages of the guide, but it still doesn't make reading the same exact descriptions of the same exact painting techniques any more enjoyable. While it's understandable that a certain amount of repetition would be required when explaining the painting process in a step-by-step manner, I can't help but feel that much of that repetition is just filler. Also, Dallimore adopts the technique of demonstrating the one-color, two-color, etc. methods on the same figure. Again, while I can see the logic behind structuring a how-to guide in this manner (after all, it allows the reader to see just how different these various techniques are when you see them applied to the same figure), the sheer monotony of seeing the same figure over and over gets a little tiresome. In addition, the guide doesn't really address in any detail the super advanced techniques for painting miniatures, such as Near-Metallic Metals or glazing or wet blending. A four-color method is also mentioned in the introduction, but never really expanded on, or at least I couldn't find anything more advanced beyond the three-color method. There also isn't an index. Granted, the Table of Contents is pretty thorough, but I actually remember one instance when I wanted to find the page where he talks about painting tattoos and had to basically flip through the book page by page in order uncover it. Finally, Dallimore's painting style might not be for everyone. Personally, I find it appealing in a cartoonish/ characterful way, but certainly not at the level of many of the more recent Golden Daemon winning painters, especially from Europe.

In conclusion, I'd highly recommend this guide to all beginning model painters and even intermediate painters. I'm not sure if more advanced/ seasoned painters would get anything out of it because my feeling is that the longer you've been in this hobby, the more you've developed a particular style and technique that works for you. It retails at $39.95 hardcover, but I was able to purchase it off of Amazon for $26.37 (a 34% discount with free shipping). Well worth the price, in my opinion.

Photographs of front cover and interior pages taken from Foundry's webpage advertising the book. The webpage can be found here.

Leia Mais…

Monday, June 15, 2009

23 - Juron, Mystic Knight

Well, I decided to take a break from the Games Workshop models and instead turn my attention to the large batch of Reaper Miniatures I have scattered about my workstation. Reaper Miniatures were, in fact, my introduction into this hobby. It was always the painting/ modeling/ diorama aspect of miniature figures that first caught my attention, and Reaper's line of models immediately appealed to me with their detail, diversity, and, most importantly, affordable price point!

What we have here is Juron, Mystic Knight from Reaper's Dark Heaven Legends line. This is my 4th attempt at painting him. My first 3 attempts were pretty miserable, but that's to be expected considering how new I was to the hobby when I first purchased this figure. I'm mostly satisfied with this most recent paintjob, although my Juron's resemblance to Batman is purely concidental! It was only after I started painting his chest symbol Antique Gold did I stop and mumble to myself, "Blue cloak, grey breastplate, yellow symbol on his chest...holy subconscious - I've turned him into the Caped Crusader!"

Interestingly enough, this Juron paintjob was not only a marked improvement over my earlier efforts, but it also took less time to do. At this point, much of my Beginner to lower Intermediate level painting skills have become muscle memory and instinct, which is a good thing. The fact that one can see gradual improvement over time so long as one continues to practice makes this hobby potentially much less frustrating. Of course, it all depends on what you want out of this hobby. If it's the wargaming aspect that interests you, then speed is probably more important when it comes to painting your figures than anything else. And that's perfectly fine. Being able to consistently achieve table-top quality is a skill in and of itself. If it's the hobbyist aspect that interests you (like it does for me), then the fact that you can chart your progress month by month makes you more likely to press on, anticipating that next milestone achieved on that next model. Now, I'm pretty sure at some point I'm going to hit a plateau with the progress on my painting abilities. Some of the miniatures on sites like Cool Mini or Not, or in the pages of White Dwarf take my breath away with their subtetly of shading, glazing, and attention to detail, and at this point, I can only dream of approaching that level of quality. Well, when I do reach that plateau, I'll just move on to another aspect of the hobby - I'll become more adventurous with my conversions, finally start sculpting with green stuff, dive into the mad and elaborate dioramas I have planned in my head, maybe even start wargaming if I have the time, etc. - before going back to painting. Regardless of where I am in the hobby, in other words, it is a deep enough and complex enough hobby that I believe I will constantly be finding something interesting about it for years to come.

Please click here for more pics.

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

22 - Blood Ravens Scout

This Blood Ravens Space Marine Scout was pieced together from bits I purchased off of eBay. I had originally thought that by buying parts separately, it would be cheaper than buying the full sets (even at discounted prices), so long as I promised myself that I'd only buy the bits if the price was right ($.99 to $1.04). Well, it turns out my theory was right and wrong. It certainly is cheaper (if you have the patience, of course) to scrounge sets together via buying the bits individually. For example, under the most ideal of circumstances (which almost never exists because bits like legs and the heavy bolter usually sell for far more than the $.99 to $1.04 price range I set for myself), I could've pieced together 5 Space Marine Scouts (with accessories and all of the alternate weapons arms) for around $10. The MSRP for a Space Marine Scout kit is $20 while discount on-line stores like Chaos Orc's Superstore sell it at a 25% discount for $15. Not much of a difference, plus a whole lot of headaches to go along with it.

I guess the lesson I learned from this is that bits purchasing should be reserved primarily for conversions. This might seem like an obvious conclusion for the more seasoned hobbyists out there, but for a beginning collector who felt queasy at some of the high prices being charged for these plastic miniatures (coupled with just how addicting collecting these little buggers can be), I was seduced by how cheaply some bits sellers were auctioning their stuff for on-line.

Okay, enough rambling about the high cost of living. Painting-wise, I was fairly pleased with how it turned out on the Scout. My lines are becoming very clean and neat, the surfaces are smooth and the coverage is acceptable, for the most part. Red, as usual, is still difficult to get full coverage with. I tried Delta Ceramcoat's Opaque Red this time, thinking that the "opaque" in its name actually meant something. And it does, to a certain extent. It certainly covers better than the other craft paint reds I've tried, but it still takes many multiple thin layers to achieve proper opacity, especially over a black undercoat. I'm thinking for my future Blood Ravens, I'm going to try the 2 undercoat technique - i.e., prime the parts of the model that won't be painted red in black, and prime the parts that will be painted red in white. It sounds like a mind-numbingly slow process, but I guess I can try it with 1 or 2 of them and see how it goes.

Highlighting-wise, I used Bridge Grey to highlight the wrinkles in the Scout's legs and arms. I was also far more careful with highlighting his face. Overall, I'm pretty satisfied with the parts I highlighted, but, of course, large swathes of the model remain un-highlighted. One day, I will try the layering technique that Simon mentioned in his comment to my Veterans Squad post on my Space Marines' armor.

As for the color scheme for this Blood Raven Scout, I couldn't find any visual references anywhere on the net except for this figure on Cool Mini or Not. It's a really awesome paintjob, in my opinion, so clean and smooth, but the color scheme didn't fit my image of what a Scout from the Blood Ravens Chapter would look like. So, instead I merely shifted the Blood Ravens Space Marine colors around for my Scout - the black trim from the Space Marine shoulder pads became the black of the Scout's pants and sleeves; the off-white of the shoulder pads themselves became the off-white of the wristguards; and, obviously, the red.

Okay, well, this is getting a little long-winded, so click here for more pics.

Leia Mais…

Sunday, June 7, 2009

21 - Imperial Guard Shock Troops - Flamer Trooper

Next up - the flamer trooper for my standard Guardsmen squad. He's missing the decals on his shoulder pads and a varnish, but for all intents and purposes, he's finished. I'm pretty satisfied with his paintjob - nothing special, not too much highlighting (in fact, almost none other than bringing the base color back after shading the model with Citadel Washes). As I've mentioned in my earlier posts, I've continued to use craft paints up to this point - all of my Guardsmen (Veteran and Standard) have been painted using Delta Ceramcoat Hunter Green and Bridge Grey, Americana Fawn, and Folk Art Skin Tone. While the craft paints have been, on the whole, acceptable, their covering properties are definitely a bit on the transparent end (especially after being thinned, which they must be in order to avoid being slathered on too thickly). I've recently been looking into investing in some dedicated miniature model paints - Vallejo, Reaper, or Games Workshop - but the cost of these paints still seems prohibitive to me.

I've tried to paint the Standard Guardsmen (Third Squad/ 1st Platoon) in a cleaner, less grittier style than my Veterans. The reason, obviously, is to imply that the Standard Guardsmen squads are constantly getting influxes of fresh-faced replacements to replenish the heavy casualties that Imperial Guard units are infamous for enduring. Thus, at any given time, Standard Guard squads are full of troopers in newly pressed, crisp uniforms, flak armor that still have that new factory smell, and the deer in the headlights look. This squad has the 265 decal on their left shoulder pads (and the Cadian structure symbol on their right shoulder pad), so I'm working under the assumption that they belong to the 265th Cadian Shock Troops Regiment. A cursory Google search doesn't reveal any canonical references to the 265th Cadian Regiment, so I guess I'll have to sit down and create some fluff for them on my own (Yay!).

So, this flamer trooper makes 5 Standard Guardsmen from Third Squad. 3 more lasgun troopers to go and then a Heavy Weapons Team (either autocannon or heavy bolter) to round them out. At this point, I'll have used 16 of the 20 available models from the Cadian Shock Troops box I purchased five or so months back (before they went OOP). That leaves 4 models left. I've already begun converting those 4 remaining models for my 1st Platoon Command Squad (I've got enough bits collected and set aside for a Junior Officer, a Standard Bearer, a vox-caster operator, and a veteran with a special weapon). After that, I might move on to trying my hand at converting (with green stuff) some Ogryn from an Ogre Kingdoms Leadbelcher set I have. More likely though, I'll head back to my Blood Ravens as I have plans to convert some regular Tactical Space Marines into Sternguard. Unless, of course, I'm able to find some Heavy Weapons Squad boxes cheap on eBay, but ever since the recent release of the 5th Ed. Imperial Guard Codex, it's been impossible to get IG stuff cheaply. Interestingly enough, it's also really hard to get Space Marine Scout boxes cheaply on eBay. Considering everything I've read on the Interwebs about SM Scouts are that they're not all that good, I'm a bit confuzzled as to why people seem to want them so badly.

Again, click here for more pics.

Leia Mais…

Thursday, June 4, 2009

20 - Imperial Guard Veterans Squad "The 50/ 50s" (7 out of 10 Completed)

As a new member of the From the Warp Bloggers Group, I'd like to make my first contribution to the group by adding to the Collaborative Post on the Imperial Guard. This post is more of a summary of all of my past posts on the construction and painting of my Veterans Squad, "The 50/ 50s" (so named because this jaded, cynical group of hardened veterans understand that life and death is merely a 50/ 50 flip of the coin, oftentimes, and skill ain't got nothing to do with it). To the left, you will see the finished 7 members of "The 50/ 50s." In the top row, from left to right, we have: Specialist Samori, the vox-caster operator and newest member of the squad; Sergeant Greyloch; Specialist Ruddard, the sniper; and Specialist Blacker. In the bottom row, from left to right, we have: Specialist Slagan, demolitions expert; Corporal Marsham; and Specialist Condan, meltagun operator. The squad is still missing its heavy flamer operator (next up as soon as I get my heavy flamer bit in the mail) and its Heavy Weapon Team (a lascannon, I think).

Now, I'm not really all that interested in min-maxing this squad. I mostly chose its composition based on what I wanted to paint or how I envisioned it in my mind. While I'm not counting out ever playing a table-top game of Warhammer 40k, at the moment, I really have no time to pursue that.

A close-up of Specialist Samori is to the right. His head comes from a Space Marine Scout, his vox-caster is Catachan, the banner streaming from the antenna of his vox-caster is a Dark Elf Warrior bit, the shotgun has been cut and converted from a Space Marine Scout, and his right arm is from the Command Squad sprue. His paintjob neither improves nor slips from my current level of painting. I did continue my attempts at grasping highlighting by adding some to the banner (to decent effect), but I think proper highlighting is still a few months away.

Some comments on how I put this squad together - Corporal Marsham (bottom row, middle) was the first Veteran I "converted" and painted. As you can see, he's pretty much a standard Guardsman but with a few bits glued on him here and there. Specialist Blacker (top row, far right) was the second, and his conversion was taken one step further than Marsham's - I cut off his left hand and glued on a hook from a Chaos Space Marine Rhino decorative bit. Also, his head comes from a Space Marine Scout. As I became more confident and more engrossed in the conversion aspects of this hobby, each subsequent Veteran underwent more and more elaborate conversions - Specialist Ruddard, the sniper, is wielding a converted sniper rifle; Specialist Condan operates a meltagun from the Space Marine Tactical Squad box and required a lot of cutting and filing in order to make it fit on his model; etc. What I came to realize is that converting models is incredibly good fun! It's heretical to say, but it's even more fun than painting them! I've gotten to the point where every remaining unit in my Imperial Guard list is going to be scrutinized for conversion possibilities. I'll be asking myself: "Hmm, do I really have to buy a Cadian Command Squad box? Or should I see if I can convert one from bits laying around?"

After completing my Veterans Squad, I will be building a diorama for them. I would like to incorporate magnets into the diorama, or at least design it in such a way that the miniatures can be removed from the diorama easily. I've seen tutorial on the web, but many of them seem to require a drill bit of some kind which I do not own (nor plan on getting in the near future). At this point, I think I'm looking at using plasticard or even sculpting putting to create depressions in the diorama to accomodate the base of a miniature.

Well, click here for more pics of my Veterans Squad, and feel free to visit my blog for more in-depth posts on each of the individual members of "The 50/ 50s."

Leia Mais…

Monday, June 1, 2009

19 - Imperial Guard Veterans Squad Demolitions Specialist

As predicted, I couldn't help but resume painting my Imperial Guard Veterans Squad. Converting models is almost as fun as painting them, honestly, and my Veterans Squad has been my most highly customized unit of models to date. To the right, we have Specialist Slagan, the squad's demolitions expert. In his left hand, he is holding a "counts-as" demolition charge (which was originally a meltabomb from a Space Marine Devastator's sprue, I believe). His head, as mentioned in the WIP post, is from Pig Iron Productions. Pig Iron sells them 10 to a pack and they're really great for adding individuality to models. Scale-wise, they're perfect fits for Games Workshop's models, and even though the helmets aren't exact matches for the standard Cadian pattern helmets, they're close enough especially when you paint them the same color. Slagan is also wielding a shotgun appropriated from a Space Marine Scout and on his back, he is humping a backpack from a Catachan Heavy Weapon sprue. Also, if you look carefully, I finally applied decals to my Imperial Guard models. On Slagan's right shoulder pad is a white skull - the symbol I'll be using to identify my Veterans from the more rank-and-file troopers.

I wouldn't consider Slagan's paintjob good or bad. It's a bit messier than the level I've been achieving as of late, but overall, it's of the same quality. The confidence I gained highlighting the Vampire Counts Zombie from the previous post completely disappeared with this model. As I wrote in that post, when I'm forced to pick out highlighting points on my own (rather than simply following the obvious peaks and valleys presented by a model like the Zombie), I often still make poor choices. I do like how Slagan's backpack turned out though. I personally think the worst part of the model has to be the demolition charge. If I had to do it over again, I'd probably re-paint it green, black, and grey with maybe some red thrown in, but the yellow just didn't work at all.

Well, the Veterans Squad is now 6 strong. I have the vox-caster operator (whom I haven't given a name yet) ready to go at my workstation, and then the heavy flamer operator still awaiting my attempt at buying cheaply either a Cadian Command Squad box or a heavy flamer bits off of eBay. I've also been scavenging on eBay for a cheap (and when I say cheap, I'm talking 50% or more off the MSRP before I'll actually buy something) Cadian Heavy Weapons Squad box to round out my Veterans Squad.

Click here for more pics.

Leia Mais…
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