Well, I'm going to make this the last post in my Blood Ravens Sternguard tutorial for a couple of reasons: 1) I'm personally getting bored with the model! 2) I intended to do a tutorial on free-handing the Blood Ravens insignia onto the banner, but realized that I really, really stink at free-handing! So I quickly wiped the offending blotch off the banner and decided to keep quietly working on my free-hand on unfortunate pieces of plasticard rather than ruin perfectly good models. 3) A 6 part tutorial on a single model seems like more than enough. Too much perhaps.
So, what I have here (pictured on the upper left) is my Blood Ravens Sternguard, 95% complete. After basecoating the fiddly bits with 3-4 thin layers, I applied controlled washes over the whole model - Devlan Mud was used on the Old Parchment (except for the shoulder pads - I wanted to keep them pristine) and Antique Gold parts; Badab Black on the Bridge Gray and White; and Baal Red was applied liberally over Opaque Red of the power armour and the banner. When I apply washes, I try to maintain as much control over the flow of the ink as much as possible. I'll load up the tip of a 0 or 00 brush with some of the wash, then carefully let it run along the recesses and cracks of the area I plan on shading. I just find a more controlled wash helps you cut some time off the next step when you bring the basecoat colors back up plus it also avoids the dreaded dried pooling effect that sloppy application of washes can sometimes produce. (I've read that adding a small drop of dishwashing detergent to the wash can help avoid the pooling effect, but I've only tried it once or twice. I don't know - I'm sure it works, but the result was so marginal for me that I just stopped doing it, mostly out of forgetfulness. Usually, unless something is so amazingly effective and obvious, I won't try to integrate it into my everyday practice.)
Overall, I was happy with how the Citadel Washes worked, as I have been since buying them 4 months ago. Games Workshop may rightfully get slammed for a lot of things, but they done good with their Washes, in my opinion. The only thing I wasn't happy with regarding this model was the liberal Baal Red wash I applied on the power armour. The result was splotchy, darkened areas all over the armor as opposed to just in the recesses. My thought process was that since the basecoat was a bit flat and the coverage of the Opaque Red wasn't 100% perfect, the Baal Red wash would fill in the coverage for the Opaque Red while at the same time adding some shine and depth to the armor. Well, it did add shine, but it didn't add uniform coverage, that's for sure. I had to go over the wash with more Opaque Red basecoat to minimize some of the splotchiness, but as you can see, I wasn't completely successful. I think I've learned a valuable lesson for any future Blood Ravens I'll be painting up: do not use a liberal application of the Baal Red wash on the power armor; instead, apply a controlled wash of Badab Black to the recessed, then use paint layering (from dark to light) to give the illusion of depth.
The base was basically decorative sand glued on with white glue, then painted over with a basecoat of Brown Velvet followed by a drybrush of Desert Sand and light wash of Devlan Mud. The thorny bush looking thing was decorative moss purchased at Michael's glued down with superglue, and the small brown rock bit was a piece of cork also held down with superglue.
Looking back, I'm not completely satisfied with either the model or the tutorial. I tried to make the tutorial as comprehensive as possible, and I think that was partially why it might not have been effective as it could be. It seemed too sprawling, included too much repetition and the laying out of too obvious steps. As I said in my last post, I think in the future, my tutorials will focus more on highlighting interesting things I might have picked up in regards to the various aspects of the hobby rather than on the more mundane things. Tutorials focused on clever conversions seem to be very popular with readers, so I might focus on that. As for the model itself - well, my interest in it waxed and waned as this process trudged along. This is the longest I've ever spent on a model. The first tutorial was posted on July 24, and it's taken 6 days to reach the end. I'm usually able to paint up a model in 2 or 3 days. By the Part VI, I did not want to even look at the miniature let alone paint it.
Okay, so as for what's up next on the blog? I have no idea! I have the Skaven Plague Monk and the Kroot Auxiliary still left over from the also-rans of the poll, but I also have an Imperial Guard Platoon Commander beckoning to me from my workshelf. We'll see...
Click here for more pics on the Sternguard WIP.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The picture on the left shows the Blood Ravens Sternguard with his right arm wielding his pimped out bolter and backpack attached, and primed with Black (brushed on). It's slowly coming together. I then proceeded to paint the backpack and arm Opaque Red, his shoulder pad Old Parchment, and his bolter Bridge Grey. I also finally decided to just paint over his knee pads Opaque Red because I desperately want to avoid making him overly colorful. He's a hardened space marine, for goodness sakes! I keep returning, for reference, to the image of GW's Sternguard as well as the two Tactical Blood Ravens I've already painted up in order to get an idea as to whether or not I'm on the right track. Primarily, I want this Sternguard to stand out from the Tacticals while simultaneously not going overboard with the bits and bobs. In other words, I want him to look like a well-decorated veteran of the Blood Ravens various campaigns against heretics and xenos scum but not so much so that he becomes a walking display board for The Bitz Barn.
3 thin basecoats later on the arm, bolter, and backpack, and we get the result show on the right. You'll notice that I've added a handful of embellishments (with 2 thin basecoats) to the model - a banner pole, a tabard over his right shoulder pad, a crux terminatus on his backpack, and a belt decoration from a Terminator sprue to his right shin guard (which was an attempt at copying the effect on the GW mail order only Space Marine Sergeant seen here - note the Imperial Aquila on his left shin guard). If I were more confident with my greenstuffing, I would have integrated the belt decoration more seamlessly into the leg of my Sternguard, but I'm not. Regardless, I'm pretty satisfied with the effect, and I can always come back at a later date and try the green stuff when I feel I'm ready for it. At this point, he's practically done. I'll very likely add 1 or 2 more layers of basecoats to the embellishments, then make an attempt at free-handing the Blood Ravens Chapter Marking on to the banner as well as some free-hand work on the shoulder pad tabard. After that, I'll move on to the wash stage, the bringing the basecoat back up and highlighting stage, and finally end with painting and sprucing up the base a bit.
By the way, check out Thomas Schadle's rendition of the Blood Ravens. His painting ability almost makes me want to throw my own Ravens into a tupperware container filled with Simple Green and start over. Ah, but then I notice he's done very well in the Golden Daemon competitions (even winning the L.A. Slayer Sword back in 2005 for his Blood Ravens Librarian) and realize how silly it is to compare myself to him. He's painting at a major league level, while I'm very obviously toiling away in Tee Ball at the moment. My wife remembers when I first started this hobby, I would constantly bemoan my lack of ability especially after browsing through the awesome paintjobs on CoolMiniorNot. Viewing the finished products of such accomplished painters almost made me want to quit until 2 things happened: 1) I noticed that so long as I kept practicing my painting, I actually got better (fancy that!); and 2) I finally came to the very sane understanding that a handful of months invested into anything is not enough time to become very, very good at it. (Unless we're talking about falling down. Maybe a couple of weeks would be enough to get very good at falling down, but you know, not even. Just ask circus clowns and stunt men/ women how hard it is to fall down convincingly without cracking your own head open. But I digress...)
My apologies for this tutorial going on so long. In the future, I'll cut out some of the more mundane aspects of putting these miniatures together and jump straight to the painting technique. I still need to refine my tutorial presentations to give you all a better look into how I paint, but I always knew that designing tutorials would be difficult. Hopefully, I've learned something from this first initial go of it.
For more pics of this work in progress, click here.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Here's a brief intermission from the Blood Ravens Sternguard tutorials by continuing with my unofficial series of painting also-ran models from the first poll I set up way back in post 31 - I present to you a Chaos Marauder!
I worked on this figure in between putting together the tutorial on the Blood Ravens Sternguard. The motivation level to paint is still high. I still get a kick out of seeing the figure come together from dull gray plastic to something colorful and characterful and three dimensional. Again, I really have no plans on putting together a Warriors of Chaos army, but the very act of painting a varied amount of models keeps the hobby fresh for me. Of course, it's quite a hit to my wallet, but leisure is costly in our world, I guess.
I think I'm starting to develop a personal style, which is great. In my brief journey through this hobby, I've seen many beautifully painted models, all with their own personality and technique. For instance, the European style and its emphasis on subtle blending, non-metallic metals, and realism looks drastically different from the more "traditional" Games Workshop style of exaggerated highlights and cartoonish super-heroism. Both are excellent examples of how to paint models, neither better than the other. I guess at the moment, I'm more working in the traditional style than the more modern European (Spanish and French, in particular) methods. It seems like the Europeans include a greater degree of advanced techniques into their miniatures. Of course, it also seems like the European style is more geared towards display models (what with their emphasis on elaborate and completely non-pragmatic decorative bases) rather than table-top ready models. Hmm, you know you're dealing with an art form when an individual trained as an English Literature academic is able to talk mumbo-jumbo and mentally masturbate over it!
The next post will resume with your regularly scheduled tutorial on the Blood Ravens Sternguard. I believe there will be 2 more installments in that tutorial before I put it to bed.
For more pics, click here.
Monday, July 27, 2009
After laying down the Opaque Red basecoat, I proceeded with painting in the details and fiddly bits. The picture on the left shows what the model looks like after one thin layer of Delta Ceramcoat Old Parchment on the helmet, the shoulder pad, and the purity seals; Americana Antique Gold on the chest design, the belt skull, and the purity seal medallions; Delta Ceramcoat Bridge Gray on the belt, the joint connection bits, and the pneumatic chords on the power fist; and Delta Ceramcoat's Christmas Green on the tiny electrical wires scattered throughout the power armor and eye lenses of the helmet. As usual, all of the paints were thinned with Flow Aid until the consistency of skim milk. This first layer of detail work took about 10 minutes, after which I placed the model aside for about 5-10 minutes in order for the paint to dry.
The detail work is actually my favorite part of painting models. Oftentimes, the basecoat is already prescribed for you - an Ultramarine will have a blue basecoat, a Blood Raven a red basecoat, a Cadian Guardsman a green and khaki basecoat, etc. It's the fiddly bits, however, where one's creativity is challenged. You get to decide, for instance, what color you want to make the wires or the purity seals or the lasgun casing or whatever. Now, you can't just willy-nilly apply a rainbow's worth of colors to the details because that'll just result in a cluttered, motley appearance to the model (which doesn't usually work unless you're painting up Eldar Harlequins, I guess). Rather, your color scheme has to not only reflect your own personal creativity, but also honor reality to a reasonable extent.
The picture on the right is of the model after 3 layers of thinned paint on the detail bits. Practically done - total painting time about 1 hour if you count the intervals waiting for the paint to dry. The basecoating of the detail bits usually takes less coats and time because of how little surface space is involved. You want to be sure, though, that your paint is thinned down even more when you basecoat because of how easy it is for the paint to creep into the really fine detailed and textured areas and clog up the works, leaving you with a shapeless mess.
As an aside - I use a Size 1 Round paint brush for both the basecoating of the large areas of the model and the detailed areas. The only times I switch to a larger or smaller brush are if I'm priming (whereby I will use a Size 4 Flat brush) or if I'm painting tiny, tiny areas like eyes and jewelry (whereby I'll use a Size 00 Round). I've yet to invest in a truly great brush (like a Kolinsky Sable) because a) I just don't think my skills are at that level yet (which is also why I'm still working with craft paints) and b) I'm terrible when it comes to keeping my brushes clean. I mean, I'll swirl my brush in the water glass after every 2 or 3 dips of the brush head into paint, but after I'm done for the night, I very rarely thoroughly clean my brushes. So until I become more conscientious about that, it's $4.99 cheap brushes for me.
At this point, the model is practically ready for shading via Citadel washes. I still have a couple of decisions to make though. For instance, what color do I want the knee pads to be? (I'm leaning towards just painting them Opaque Red, but a part of me wants to do them in Old Parchment like the helmet and shoulder pads.) Also, the Antique Gold studs on the Heresy-Era shoulder pad seem to blend too much into the Old Parchment - I think I'll actually paint the studs Black. Finally, what else do I want to add to this figure? I've got 2 tabard pieces ready to be primed and glued on, the right arm with the Sternguard bolter, the backpack, a banner possibly, and maybe the Dark Angels helmet wings. I'll leave those decisions for Part V.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Rather than devote an entire post to basing (especially since at this point, all I've done is apply some watered down glue to the base and dip the model into decorative sand), I will move on to the actual painting of the model.
The photo on the left is of the model primed in Black. You'll notice that I've gone ahead and attached the power fist and the Heresy Era studded shoulder pad. I've left the left arm, the Sternguard bolter, and the backpack off (as well as any fiddly bits I might decide to add later) because I felt they'd get in the way of the painting. For this model, I brushed on the primer. My preference is always to brush on primer rather than use the spray can because I feel it gives me more control over where the primer goes. Now, if I have 4 or 5 or 6 or more assembled models that need to get primed, then I'll use the spray can on them, but mostly out of laziness. Overall, I'm just not a big fan of spray on primer or varnish. I've had too many bad experiences with them even in the short 7 months I've been at this hobby.
The Black primer I used was thinned down using one drop of Liquitex Matte Medium. The reason for using matte medium is twofold: 1) never apply acrylic paint directly onto your models because the paint will go on too thickly and blot out the subtle textures/ details; and 2) I've had no luck thinning paint down with water - the paint just loses its consistency and adhesion too much for my taste when I use water.
After priming the model and waiting for the paint to dry, I went to work on the basecoat. The paints I used, unfortunately, are craft paints of the Folk Art, Americana, Delta Ceramcoat variety, so I'm not going to be able to give you a "counts-as" comparison to any of the specialty model paints like GW, Reaper, or Vallejo. I'll use the exact names of the craft paints though just in case. Also, I afix the model's base to the top of a Delta Ceramcoat 2 ounce acrylic paint squeeze bottle with some Elmer's poster tack in order to avoid touching the freshly painted model with my fingers as I spin and rotate it whichever way during painting.
The first basecoat I applied was Delta Ceramcoat's Opaque Red on the power armor portions of the model. I thinned the acrylic paint down with one drop of Liquitex Flow Aid, so that the consistency of the paint (and I'm sure you've all heard this before) was like skim milk. Again, I prefer Flow Aid over water because of two reasons: 1) it reduces the surface tension of the paint and thus gives me more control over where it goes (watered down paint has a tendency of running itself all over the model); and 2) it reduces, to an extraordinary degree, brush marks on the model. The image on the right shows what the model looked like after 1 coat of thinned down Opaque Red.
One of the most important virtues I've learned since picking up this hobby 7 months ago is patience. In the beginning, I'd try to get the basecoat on as quickly as possible. As a result, I'd do myself more harm by not only painting wet paint on top of wet paint (which is akin to trying to dig a hole in soft sand), but I'd also glop on too much paint because I was so eager to get opacity on the basecoat. These days, I take my time. This first basecoat was done in 15 minutes, but I don't apply another coat until the first one is fully dried. Usually, it just takes a 5-10 minute wait for the paint to dry, so in the meantime, I'll work on anther model or read or watch TV or surf the net or something.
The picture on the left shows the model after 2 more layers of Opaque Red (for a total of 3 layers). Not quite done yet, but almost there. Red is a notoriously difficult color to achieve opacity, so it doesn't come as surprise to me that it might take 4 or 5 thin layers to get the proper coverage for the basecoat. With another color - say Blue (if I were doing an Ultramarine) - I'm pretty certain I'd be done with the basecoating at this point. But since I chose the Blood Ravens...
You'll notice that I've kept the non-basecoated parts of the model fairly neat and clean. What I'll do after, say, basecoating the legs is immediately go back over the knee pads or the belt or the purity seals with a damp brush and take off the inadvertent paint smudges. I find that this serves two purposes for me: 1) it trains my brush strokes to be as neat as possible; and 2) it introduces me to the very helpful skill of "erasing" paint with a damp brush. This second reason has really served me well as I've progressed in this hobby. Before, when I tried to get rid of stray paint, I'd end up destroying whole swathes of nicely painted surfaces. Now, I'm much more surgical with this ability.
The picture on the right shows the model after 4 1/2 layers of basecoated Opaque Red. The power armor's pretty much done at this point. Overall time: about 1 1/2 hours (15 minutes per layer plus roughly 5-10 minutes wait in between layers for the paint to dry). I'll start the detail bits next, which I'll save for Part IV.
Click here for more pics of the model in progress.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
I am now going to turn to the conversion of the standard Tactical Marine bolter into the Sternguard bolter. Let me first direct you, though, to WeeMen's post on converting the Sternguard bolter here, as it was a big reason why I even thought this particular conversion was possible.
The picture on the left shows, from left to right, a Rhino storm bolter, a scope from a Tactical Marines sprue, and a standard Marine bolter. The plan is to remove the box magazine from the storm bolter and graft it onto the standard Marine bolter in such a way as to mimic the appearance of the bolters on GW's Sternguard metal models. Now, this should be a very simple conversion - 2 small bits removed, one bit tossed away, and the second bit glued onto the Tactical bolter. The only tricky part is how small these bits are. One bad, hasty cut with the hobby knife, and some piece of important gray plastic is going to get ruined.
So, first, I go to work on the storm bolter. I suggest you place the storm bolter flat on a cutting surface and cut down with your hobby knife initially where the box magazine meets the barrel. Cut all the way through with slow, steady cuts. Very likely, all you will need are 2 or 3 of these cuts with pressure downward being applied with each cut. Then work on the side of the box magazine touching the rear of the storm bolter. When both side cuts are all the way through to the other side, you can then cut horizontally, along the top of the box magazine. This cut should also be done slow and steady and is, in fact, the most difficult one to execute because of the awkward angle. However, this cut doesn't need to be done all the way through because a half-way cut on both sides of the storm bolter (i.e., as if you were scoring foamboard) should be deep enough where you can then pry the box magazine loose with a plier or just with some elbow grease. The finished result should look like the image to the right.
Now, before doing any clean-up on the detached box magazine, you should proceed to converting the Tactical bolter. This is because you don't want to file down the box magazine too much until you can gauge what sort of fit is going to be required when you graft it onto the Tactical bolter.
For the Tactical bolter, you're basically going to do the same thing - i.e., remove the magazine so that all that is left is the bolter. You can also remove the pistol grip because when you glue the converted bolter onto the Space Marine right arm, you're going to have to remove the grip anyway. The cutting you will do on the Tactical bolter is going to have to be even more careful and measured than the storm bolter operation. This is because we didn't really care how badly we damaged the storm bolter while we do care if the Tactical bolter gets marked up, for obvious reasons. After cutting the magazine from the Tactical bolter, you can now go ahead and file down the gap in the bolter so that it creates a smooth, even space for the box magazine to slide into. See the picture on the left. (Note: even though the pistol grip is present in the picture, I removed it shortly after taking the picture because it was already hanging on by a, er, thread of soft, gray plastic, or something.)
Okay, and now for the final step (a two-parter) - we must glue the box magazine removed from the storm bolter onto the space left on the Tactical bolter from its removed magazine. First, dry fit the box magazine to see how much you need to file on both the box magazine and the Tactical bolter in order to get a even, flush fit. You want to line up the box magazine so that it sticks out the right side of the bolter. So, in other words, line up the bolter along the left hand side of the box magazine. Once you've smoothed out any rough, uneven edges, apply a little bit of glue on the Tactical bolter and then press the box magazine down into the gap. Hold the box magazine in place while slowly, carefully sliding it into place so that it is straight and not on a tilt. When you are satisfied with the placement of the box magazine, hold it the glue sets a bit, then lay it aside to dry. After the glue has dried, you'll want to finally attach the scope to the top of the bolter. If you look closely at the bolter, you'll notice an upraised piece near the rear. This is where you want to glue the scope. Now, make sure you file the scope down so that it fits smoothly along this small, upraised piece, then glue down and hold. After a minute or so, you should have the finished product pictured on the right.
Part III of the tutorial will be a short one involving basing and priming the model. And then with Part IV, we'll jump right into the painting!
Friday, July 24, 2009
Welcome to the first of hopefully many tutorials on my blog! By popular vote (big thanks to everyone who voted!), the first set of tutorials will detail how I approach - from conception to assembly to painting to basing - a Blood Ravens Sternguard Veteran. Now, seeing as this is my first attempt at putting together a tutorial, please feel free to include suggestions in the comments. My goal in doing tutorials is to help people in some aspect of the hobby in the same way I was helped by tutorials when I first started out. So, if my tutorials are hard to understand, lacking in detail, just plain unhelpful, tell me so and, with your suggestions, I'll try to make them better in the future.
Quick note: because I won't be using green stuff (I think) in this Blood Ravens Sternguard conversion, I'm left with merely trying to piece together a model from the existing bits I own. I hope the conversion will still turn out fairly characterful and different from the standard Marine. Maybe in the future, when I'm more confident with my greenstuffing abilities, I'll attempt a more radical conversion of a model using green stuff.
Before I ever put paint brush to miniature, I always invest a little bit of time into researching the look, feel, and fluff behind the model. The time spent researching obviously varies depending on whether or not I've painted a particular type of mini before, whether the mini is of an elite/ special type as compared to a rank and file type, and whether I plan on converting the figure very much beyond its original form.
The image on the upper left - courtesy of Games Workshop - is of their Sternguard Veteran Squad set. Pretty cool looking bunch, and I'll be using them extensively as source material for this tutorial on how to conceive, assemble, paint, and base a converted Blood Ravens Sternguard Veteran. I've also found a few other images of converted Sternguard scattered around the web which I've found pretty inspiring (here, here, and here). The first link to Weemen has been particularly helpful, especially his tutorial on how to convert standard pattern Space Marine bolters into specialized Sternguard bolters. The Sternguard conversions for the second link begin after the Honour Guard conversions, and I must admit, those Sternguard WIPs are absolutely stunning and pretty much blow anything I will show in this tutorial out of the water. Check them out; they're awesome.
Gathering the Bits Together
After doing the research, I began sorting through my bits boxes and relevant kits to find the parts to make the Blood Ravens Sternguard. Based off of the images I linked to above, I knew that my two biggest challenges in regards to this conversion would be: a) making the miniature grand and eminent enough compared to the standard Tactical Space Marine without making it look like an overburdened Christmas Tree, and b) converting its Sternguard bolter.
With those two thoughts in the back of my head, this is what I ended up with, parts-wise (see image on the right). The torso, leg, and shoulder pads bits come from the Command Squad sprue; the backpack, bolter, scope, and right arm come from a standard Tactical Squad sprue; the power fist and tabards come from a Sergeant upgrade sprue; the helmet wings and Mk. 6 beakie helmet from a Dark Angels sprue (I will file off the dagger design on the beakie helmet as best I can in order to better fit this model into the Blood Ravens image, but I'll keep the wings which radiate out from the dagger and along the sides of the helmet because the Blood Ravens do incorporate wing icons/ symbols into their chapter design); the small shield on the bottom right comes from a Terminator sprue; and the storm bolter comes from a Rhino kit.
My plan is to convert the standard pattern bolter into a Sternguard bolter by combining it with the storm bolter from the Rhino and the scope from the Tactical Squad sprue. I'm still undecided whether or not to use the helmet wings - seeing as he's a Blood Ravens Veteran, I think the wings will fit, fluff-wise. We'll see.
You'll also notice that the gathered pieces still need a lot of cleaning up of the mold lines and excessive flash. I won't bore you with the details of that step of the tutorial - suffice it to say, it's my least favorite part of this whole endeavor, as I've probably written about already. I do have one small bit of insight regarding the use of the file in cleaning up models: I've noticed on many YouTube tutorial videos that people tend to scrape their file across the mold lines in a saw-like, back and forth motion. In my experience, moving the file in one consistent direction (say forwards only) tends to result in more consistent and cleaner mold removal. I think this is because files are designed with the rough edges only going in one direction, but I could be wrong. I personally think the longer one is involved in this hobby, the more quirky beliefs one develops - even if those quirky beliefs have no basis in fact. Which is perfectly fine, of course. I'm firmly in the camp that believes this hobby of ours is a legitimate artform, and as in every artform, eccentric and personalized methods oftentimes work just as well as the "standard" methods, if only because they allow the creator to work within a comfort zone.
Assembling the Model
After cleaning as much of the mold lines and flash as I could possibly bear, I began assembling the model. I always assemble my models in the same order - 1) put the torso bits together, 2) glue torso to legs, 3) glue head to torso, 4) glue model to base. I put off gluing the arms (for the most part) and backpack to the model because I don't want them getting in the way when I'm painting the chestplate or the back of the model. In order to figure out for sure whether a particular piece of the model will obstruct painting, I'll use putty to dry-fit the extremities of the model together (see left). Well, looks like the bolter arm will for sure get in the way, so I'll leave it off until after I've painted most of the model. I might glue the power fist on because it looks like it's in the clear though. Also, eeew, looks like I missed cleaning up some of the mold lines on the arms and the helmet. Argh, back to the salt mines then with my tools of ignorance - the ever reliable hobby knife and file.
As this post is already getting a bit long, I will save the conversion of the humble Tactical bolter into a Sternguard bolter for part II.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
The Eldar Guardian gave it the ol' college try during the Tutorial Poll, but came up 6 votes short of the Blood Ravens Sternguard. Still, since by the 2nd or 3rd day of the poll, the end result was pretty much a given, I thought I'd pass the time waiting for the poll to close by trying my hand at the Eldar.
PUN ALERT! PUN ALERT! I call this piece, "How to Get A-head in Warhammer 40k." Silence. Crickets. Taps microphone. Hello? Is this thing on?
Who said Eldar are just the interstellar versions of the pansy elves from fantasy? As you can see from this particular Eldar model, I made a teeny-tiny conversion in the form of a shriveled human head being clutched in his right hand. The head quite likely comes from one of my Imperial Guardsmen. (In actuality, I think it comes from a Vampire Counts Zombie Regiment sprue.)
I'm pretty happy with the paintjob on this model. I picked the Iyanden Craftworld for the color scheme because I hadn't yet worked with a bright color like yellow. The yellow I used was Cadmium Yellow for the basecoat coupled with a Gryphonnia Sepia wash and then Lemon Yellow for highlights. The blue was True Blue and a very light, sparsely applied Asurmen Blue wash. I chose green as the color for the various decorative gems and bits scattered throughout his armor; since yellow and blue mixed together form green, I felt it made sense, color theory-wise. I also highlighted much more thoroughly with this model, and the results are about average, in my opinion. Still a bit harsh, but I'm just getting used to the interplay of shadow and light at this stage in my highlighting training. I think to fully master the art of highlights, I'm going to have to dive into the various layering/ blending techniques at some point in the far, far future. Right now, I'm just happy my brush control is at the point where I'm able to apply small highlight dabs and jots here and there without totally ruining the underlaying paintjob.
Overall, a very enjoyable model to paint due to its balanced combination of clearly defined sharp edges and soft curves. While I don't plan on collecting an Eldar army, I do have 2 Eldar Guardian Squads (which is where this miniature came from) complete with Heavy Support Weapons in my collection. I'll very likely go back to them every once in awhile when I need a break from my main armies.
BTW, Part I of the Blood Ravens Sternguard tutorial is practically complete. I'm just dotting the i's and crossing the t's. I should be able to post it sometime before or during the weekend.
Again, click here for more pics.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
What motivates me to paint miniatures? Well, I think at this point - only 7 months into the hobby - motivation hasn't been a major issue. I'm still in the honeymoon period, I guess, because I try to get a little bit of painting and modeling in every night. In fact, I find it very therapeutic at the end of the day. Painting miniatures is almost like my version of zen meditation - I get totally wrapped up in the tiny details of a model, the careful brush strokes, the layering of paint, etc. Get some good grooves going in the background (currently on my playlist: Orgone, the Black Keys, and the Postal Service), and everything else just fades away into the background.
But I also have a track record of getting really involved in something (be it a television show, a band, a video game, etc.) for about a month, totally devouring every scrap of information about it, dedicating hours of every day to thinking about it, and then...poof...30 days later, I abandon it and move on to my next obsession. Now, if this ever happens with me and miniatures...well, then, that's almost $800 worth of models collected over 7 months down the drain. Not cool. So, while I may still be enthusiastic about the hobby right now, there's no time like the present to start planning for burn-out. Here's my top 5 tips for getting motivated and re-energized about the hobby:
1) Paint a variety of models. Don't just stick to one army or one genre or one game system or one company. If all you're doing is painting Imperial Guardsmen day after day, and all that's awaiting you on your painting table are more Guardsmen, then it's not hard to see why you'd be burned out after a couple of squads. Instead, spice things up by painting a High Elf hero character or even some Reaper or War Machine or Hasslefree miniatures every once in awhile.
2) Start a blog. This isn't because I'm an attention-whore. In actuality, I started this blog purely to chart my own progress in the hobby. Having people come and visit every once in awhile is just a bonus (and a great one, at that!). For me, at least, blogging is a big motivation to paint because I'm just naturally drawn to filling up a blank screen (or a blank piece of paper) with my thoughts. And since my blog is about miniatures, the best way to have anything to talk about is to actually paint up a model. I guess it's the English Lit. major in me.
3) Don't beat yourself up for putting a half-painted model down and picking up a new one. I'm that way with a lot of things - my apartment is filled with half-read books piled on the coffee table, on book shelves (naturally), on end tables, nightstands, etc. Every once in awhile, I'll pick one of them up and breeze through it in a day or two because my mood at the time was just in tune with the book's subject matter. It's the same with half-painted minis. I won't force myself to slog through a mini I'm rapidly losing enthusiasm for because that's the best way to turn this hobby into a job, in my opinion.
4) If you're not in the mood to paint, then assemble. If you're not in the mood to assemble, then convert, etc. etc. This hobby is multi-faceted enough to cater to a host of different interests and moods.
5) Read blogs or watch YouTube videos about the hobby. Sometimes all it takes to re-ignite that interest in the hobby is to read and watch someone else's enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is contagious, after all.
Monday, July 20, 2009
At the moment, the Blood Ravens Sternguard conversion is leading the Eldar Guardian by 4 votes, 9 to 5. So if there are any Eldar Guardian fans lurking in the wings, now is your chance to come in and pull off an upset!
Thanks to everyone for voting. I'm pretty excited about starting this series of tutorials. Hopefully, I'll be able to produce something useful. Stay tuned!
EDIT: Whoops! It looks like yesterday wasn't the last day! Today is the last day until the poll closes. 17 hours to go...
EDIT 2: The polls have closed and a World in Miniature News is ready to call the race for - the Blood Ravens Sternguard with 12 votes! Coming in a distant second was the Eldar Guardian, but don't worry Guardian boosters because while I was waiting for the poll to officially end, I went ahead and painted up the Guardian anyway. I should be posting the results of that paintjob within the next fews days. All that's left on him are the wash and the highlights. Again, thanks to everyone who voted!
Sunday, July 19, 2009
It's become very obvious to me, seven months in to this hobby, that is has the potential to be very costly. Now, all hobbies are obviously luxury pursuits - we do them because we enjoy them not because we need to do them to survive. As a result, hobbies, by their very nature, will require disposable funds. The problem, as I see it now, is that certain aspects of a hobby can become compulsive, almost like an addiction. When it comes to this hobby of miniature figures, the compulsion for me is the collecting. It doesn't matter that at this point it would take me two or more years to get through every unassembled figure I own, or that the great majority of these figures are part of armies I have no intention of collecting, or that there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason behind my pattern of collecting (other than, "Oh, those guys look cool - must have!"), I still find myself buying kits on a weekly basis. Now, I've managed to off-set this compulsion somewhat by only buying at rock-bottom prices off of eBay, but the volume of my weekly purchases is threatening to overcome even that minor advantage.
So, I've decided that I have to do something to reign in this burgeoning addiction. The plan I will adopt is very similar to the one lone pilgrim has popularized on his blog - the Points for Painting formula. However, since I've already gotten such a head-start in my collecting of figures, I'll be adding a slight modification to his formula.
First, I'm going to start myself 25 points in the hole. Thus, according to lone pilgrim's formula, I'll need to paint up 25 infantry models or a dozen cavalry/ bike (and I'm going to add Independent/ Special Characters into this category) models or 2-3 vehicles before I'll allow myself to buy any more model kits.
Second, after digging myself out of that 25 point hole, I'm going to adopt a 1:1 ratio for determining what I'm able to buy next. In other words, painting up 10 infantry models will allow me to buy a 10 figure infantry kit, a 5 figure cavalry kit, or a vehicle kit, etc. Hopefully, this will force me to not only slow down on my compulsion to collect, but also re-connect the collecting part of this hobby (which has grown all out of proportion in terms of its importance) with the assembling/ painting/ basing/ diorama/ gaming parts of the hobby.
The bottom line is that I really need to get ahold of this strange need to buy every single model kit I can lay my hands on. If any of you have any other suggestions or if you too suffer from this particular compulsion, please feel free to post your suggestions or stories in the comments section.
Oh, and by the way, the poll is still active, so keep voting if you'd like.
Friday, July 17, 2009
"The 50s/ 50s" are finally at full strength! My Veteran Squad now consists of: Veteran Sergeant Greyloch, plasma pistol and a chainsword; Corporal Marsham, lasgun; Specialist Samori, vox-caster and shotgun; Specialist Condan, meltagun; Specialist Chule, heavy flamer; Specialist Ruddard, sniper rifle; Specialist Slagan, shotgun and demolition charge; Specialist Blacker, lasgun; and Specialists Kajall (spotter) and Glutter (lascannon operator). Since their capabilities seem to be more geared towards anti-armor, I'll be mounting them in a Chimera to give them added mobility. I realize they're not optimized to the fullest (Ruddard, the sniper, for instance, doesn't really add much to the anti-tank specialization of this squad, Sergeant Greyloch probably should be wielding a power weapon instead of his chainsword, and Chule very likely would be more effective armed with another meltagun rather than his heavy flamer), but their composition was selected based less on min-maxing and more on 2 criteria: 1) what would be fun to model and paint, and 2) what bits I had available laying around.
The Lascannon Team took much longer than I expected. Overall, it took me about 3 days of painting at about 3 hours a day (so a total of 9 hours). It's not perfect, not by a longshot, but I'm fairly satisfied with it. I like how the skin turned out on the two troopers. I basically painted a skintone over a black undercoat, then drenched it with an Ogryn Flesh wash. I finished up by bringing the skintone back up with a layer or two while being careful not to paint over the wash darkened recesses. Specialist Kajall (the spotter) endured a painting mishap when a blob of red paint dropped onto his face. After much vile cursing and exasperated sighs, I managed to salvage his mug by removing as much of the wet paint as I could with a moist brush and then applying very thin layers of skintone to cover the red while trying very hard not to a) thicken the paint on his face too much (especially since the painting surfaces on the faces of these miniatures are at such a premium) or b) marr the 1st layer of skintone basecoat I had already painted on.
You'll notice that these two "Cadian" troopers have been put together using a lot of Catachan bits. Well this is primarily because the Catachan Heavy Weapon Squad kit was the only one I was able to buy off of eBay at a reasonable price. So what I did was improvise/ convert a little bit - I partnered a Cadian Shock Trooper torso with a Catachan Heavy Weapon legs for Kajall, and for Glutter, I attempted to give the appearance of a Cadian trooper by using the Cadian head on a Catachan torso and legs. Finally, I painted them in Cadian colors to further add to the illusion. Also since this team is part of a Veteran Squad, a fair amount of irregularity in uniform and equipment can be expected and tolerated.
Not much highlighting was done (again) on this team (aside from the standard bringing the base colors up after shading them with washes), although I did make an amateur's attempt at painting Kajall's big muthafrakkin' machete in the non-metallic metal technique.
Okay, well thanks for voting in the poll, all! There are still 4 days left, so please keep voting (over at Post 31) if you'd like. Between now and the end of the poll, I might paint up another miniature. Or I might just start getting everything ready for my first attempt at putting together a tutorial.
Click here for more pics.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I found this video while searching YouTube for tutorials on putting together Rhinos, Vindicators, and Land Raiders (oh, my!). In a nutshell, the guy (who goes by the handle AwesomePaintjob) in the video suggests using colored pencils for hard lining the edges of vehicles as an alternative to using paint brushes. The result seems pretty good and as the guy says in the video (paraphrasing): "While some of us may be unused to doing detail work with a paint brush, we've all used pencils before."
Remember, the poll from Post 31 is still active, so please vote if you haven't already. Thanks!
Monday, July 13, 2009
When I started this blog, it was primarily to keep myself motivated in terms of assembling, converting, painting, basing my large collection of back-logged models. I wanted it to serve almost as a journal for my hobby, helping me keep track of the various techniques I tried, how successful those techniques were, and, most importantly, providing me with a visual representation of my growing finished collection.
Now, at this point in the blog's life, I'd like to start contributing to the tutorial aspect of this on-line community. For me, that's one of the best parts of this hobby. About 7 months ago, when I really began this hobby in earnest, I would've ended up with destroyed models, horribly disfigured fingers, glued skin, and miniatures with paint caked on 3" thick had it not been for the ready availability of some incredible on-line tutorials (both blogs* and videos**) to guide me through the rough early patches. So, I'd like to add to the collective wisdom by adding some hopefully useful and informative tutorials to this particular blog as well.
Which brings me to the point of this post - I'd like to open up a poll to the handful of people who stop by occasionally to my humble corner of the hobby. This poll will list 5 miniatures, and the miniature which receives the most votes after, say, a week will be the miniature I devote a series of tutorials to from assembly to maybe some minor conversions to painting to basing to photographing.
Which Miniature Should I Do A Series of Tutorials On?
Thanks in advance for voting!
Edit: Oh, I totally forgot to conclude this post by explaining what those astericks (* and **) referred to in my initial post. I wanted to name-check and give shout-outs to a few blogs and YouTube videos that I found very inspiring and informative as a beginning hobbyist over 7 months ago, so here goes:
* Blogs: From the Warp, 42nd Cadian, Santa Cruz Warhammer, Necrotales, the Painting Corps, Jakob Rune Nielsen, Dr. Faust's Painting Clinic, and Jenova Project (among others, obviously)
** YouTubers: Shiznaft1, Redxgamer, Jawaballs, AGProductions, and Way of Saim-Hann (a.k.a. Fritz40k)
Okay, thanks for voting, everyone. Please feel free (for those of you who haven't voted yet) to keep voting until next Tuesday.
As promised, here's my first Chaos Space Marine, painted in the colors of the Black Legion. Is it just me or do Chaos Space Marines seem much larger and more imposing than your standard Loyalist Marine? Standing this guy up next to my two Blood Ravens makes the latter two look like red Stay-Puff Marshmellow Men.
So, for this fellow, I used true metallic paints. I've avoided using true metallic paints for the most part because I didn't really like the way they looked way back when I first started painting miniatures. In hindsight, my displeasure with true metallic paints probably had more to do with my lack of painting ability in the beginning and less to do with the quality or theory behind true metallics. Personally, I like how this Chaos Space Marine turned out using true metallics. My earlier efforts with metallic paints oftentimes produced a muddy, messy and caked-on appearance, but this most recent attempt turned out pretty clean. Eventually, I'd like to incorporate the non-metallic metals technique into my repertoire and use that consistently for the metallic surfaces of my miniatures, but that's still a long ways off.
I think I've settled on the 4 Warhammer 40k armies I'm going to collect up to 2,000 - 2,500 points each: the Imperial Guard, the Blood Ravens Space Marines, the Orks, and Chaos Space Marines. Nothing too out of the ordinary - I'm certain these 4 probably represent the top 4 selling armies for Games Workshop. I initially wanted to collect a Witch Hunters army, but the metal figures are way too expensive to purchase even at a 20%-30% discount, and eBay doesn't ever seem to have them up for auctions. Still, I might collect an HQ, a few Troops, and a Seraphim Squad or two just to ally in with my Guard and Blood Ravens armies on occasion, if only because the Sisters of Battle miniatures look like great fun to paint.
Okay, so the madcap painting pace continues - I'm knee deep in painting up my first Imperial Guard Heavy Weapons Team: the lascannon team for my Veteran Squad, "The 50-50s." By the way, I've intended to put together some tutorials for a while now (beacuse it really can't be all that interesting just reading blog posts on finished products), but I'm still trying to figure out the best way to do them. Once I start painting, I kind of lose all track of time and space, and before I know it, the basecoat is on and I'm starting in on the detail work. Maybe for my next model (after this heavy weapons team), I'll specifically incorporate a step by step tutorial from assembly to painting to basing. Something like that might slow me down too and prevent the dreaded painting burn-out that I'm afraid is right around the corner. I might actually put up a little poll listing the miniatures that you would like most to see a tutorial for. I've got a lot of random kits laying around so the options are pretty diverse actually.
For more pics of the Chaos Space Marine, click here.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
The frantic painting continues! Painting skeletons is almost like doing warm-ups before entering the big game. They're easy to do yet have enough textures and conversion possibilities to keep them interesting. What we have here are 2 more Tomb Kings skeleton warriors to join the spear-wielding skeleton warrior I painted earlier. These two are carrying hand weapons and shields. The one on the right (with the ram's head) actually has the legs of a Vampire Counts skeleton. While the fit wasn't perfect at first, with a little trimming, the two skeleton bits from the different kits came together seamlessly, I think.
And what of the Chaos Space Marine I mentioned in my post just before this one? He's practically done. I just need to snap some pictures and maybe throw on some more highlights before posting him.
At some point, I'm going to crash and burn from painting miniatures at such a rapid pace. But considering how much of a back-log I have, I guess it's a risk worth taking. What's next (other than the Chaos Space Marine)? Who knows? I've got some Blood Ravens stuck to my painting dowels with poster tack. Maybe they're next?
For more pics, click here.
Friday, July 10, 2009
The painting's coming fast and furious! I guess that's what happens when a) you're a teacher who's work schedule lightens up dramatically during the summer months, and b) you're in the process of quitting smoking (day 6 of going cold turkey is in the books!) and need something to keep your mind from giving in to the hourly cravings.
When I attempted my first ork miniature, I didn't find it at all interesting to paint. The palette seemed very limited (green everywhere and dark, earthy tones). The fact that the ork miniature I painted was from the Black Reach set, and thus was very limited in its customization possibilities, might have also made it harder for me to become invested in the model. I seem to have more fun painting a miniature when I feel I've been able to inject some individual personality into it - the less customizable a model, the less interested I am with it.
Well, my second attempt at a Black Reach ork was a totally different experience. I had a lot of fun painting this beastly fellow. I wanted to maintain the Snakebite Clan theme I began with the first ork, but after studying the unpainted miniature for a little bit, I realized I could add a bit more color to it without totally turning it into something jarring and clownish. To keep the paint schemes coherent between the two orks, I selected a few colors that overlapped between them - for example, both models have Fawn colored pants and Brown Velvet leather straps; their sluggas are also painted in the exact same color schemes. Where I added more distinguishing and vibrant colors were in this model's topknot (Opaque Red) and his armor plates (Antique Gold with a Gryphonnia Sepia wash). I also went to town highlighting his skin - an initial layer of Green Isle then a careful highlighting with a 0 sized detail brush using Apple Green and finishing it off with a heavy wash of Thrakka Green. Overall, I'm very happy with the highlighting on the ork's skin. As I mentioned in my earlier posts, these next few months will be my highlighting months. Hopefully, by the end of the summer, highlighting (very likely through the layering of gradually lighter colors up from the base color) will be a natural part of my painting process.
Alright, my next miniature will most definitely be a Chaos Space Marine done up in Black Legion colors. It seems like 95% of my predictions of what I'm going to paint next turn up wrong (to paraphrase a famous military aphorism - "No painting plan survives contact with my capricious moods." But since I've already begun painting said Chaos Space Marine, I'm pretty sure this particular prediction will come to pass.
For more pics of the ork, click here.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Well, except for the Heavy Weapons Team (very likely either a mortar or a heavy bolter) that will be attached to them. These final 3 grunts are all armed with the humble lasgun. The trooper in the middle is in the process of hurling a fragmentation grenade at some mutant monstrosity bearing down on his squad's position. The man on the right is pointing at said mutant monstrosity and urging his fellow troopers to pour on the lasgun fire. All in all, I give these 3 and their fellow squadmates about 15 seconds before they're all ripped into bloody gribbly bits and consumed. Which is par for the course for the Imperial Guard. I think their junior officers, upon graduating from War College, get a field manual entitled, "They Can't Kill Us All, Can They?!?"
I thoroughly enjoyed painting all of these Guardsmen. They make an excellent canvas for practicing basic painting techniques, and due to their uniformity, you can very clearly mark your progress from one trooper to the next. It's quite a good thing I liked painting them so much (and the fluff which accompanies them) because according to my army list, I think I have 30-40 more of these Guardsmen to paint up (and that's not even counting the 2 Command Squads).
Up next - I might just jump right in an finish off the Imperial Guard assets I have left (that would be around 6 Heavy Weapons Teams and 3 members of a Platoon Command Squad), or I might shift gears and work on some random miniature I have laying around. I really should resume painting my Blood Ravens as that army is practically complete (I'm mostly missing vehicles which I've yet to find at the appropriate rock bottom price on eBay). We'll see...
Click here for more pics.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Well, it's been almost 2 weeks since my last post. Sorry for that, but recently my wife and I went on a "Lost" marathon, watching 4 seasons in about 10 days. Pretty crazy, but kind of worth it, I guess. Seasons 2 and 3 were fantastic, but the show started to slip a bit in season 4, and season 5 was just very disappointing. Hopefully the 6th and final season will wrap things up satisfactorily (unlike BSG's last season - yeesh, what a travesty considering how great the overall series was).
Okay, so what I've got here is the 8th member of my Veterans Squad - Specialist Chule, heavy flamer operator. I had a lot of trouble with his figure. First, the arms that came with the heavy flamer didn't fit properly on a standard Cadian shock trooper torso. I'm guessing it must be designed specifically for a Command sprue torso. So, I had to substitute a left arm from the shock trooper sprue (the one with the hand holding the handle for the flamer), cut off the hand, and then use putty epoxy to fill gaps in the left shoulder and the left wrist. Then, I discovered that the fuel tube was not long enough to connect to the fuel tank. In order to remedy this problem, first I tried to use more putty epoxy, but the angle was so awkward and the putty so difficult to work with that I gave up. For a couple of days, I figured I'd just leave the gap and not worry to much about it, but the perfectionist in me could not abide the flaw. Thus, I improvised and glued a bit (the coiled rope thingie painted Antique Gold) from somewhere (I can't remember right now) to cover up the gap in the tube. As for the rest of the miniature - it has a Pig Iron Productions gas-mask head, a skull on a chain bit from a Flagellant sprue, and a purity seal from some Space Marine sprue. Very minor conversions compared to what I've done on my other vets, but I'm just glad they're almost done.
Paintjob wise, Specialist Chule ain't all that great. There's some very noticeable sloppy painting here and there, but overall, he's acceptable, I think. My plan is to finish up 3 more Standard Guardsmen for my Third Infantry Squad, and then move on to painting the Heavy Weapons Teams for both the vet and the infantry squads. To the right is the partially assembled Lascannon Team for my vet squad. My infantry squad will be joined by a Heavy Bolter Team. I'm very pleased with the heavy weapons kit - it's almost like a mini-diorama! Hopefully, this change of pace will rekindle my interest in completing some more of my Imperial Guard army.
As usual, click here for more pics.