Sunday, 26 June 2016

Blending

Introduction

I don't often do "how to" articles; the Internet is awash with those already and there doesn't seem much need to add to the number.  However, just occasionally I come across something where I've used a simple technique and haven't seen anything describing it anywhere else.

This was the case for my recent post on painting horses for wargames, where nobody else appeared to have published a straightforward, step-by-step guide.  Mind you, I'm probably mistaken here: there are almost certainly such articles around - but I've not seen them.

With that in mind, here's my version of blending...

Colouration for Kodama Mooks

To illustrate this technique, I'm going to use a model from the Super Dungeon Explore range.  This is a Mook, from the plant-man Kodama warband that ships with The Forgotten King (SDE version 2 started set).  Here's a part-painted mook from my assembly line:

Mook with khaki base coat

Now, the colour on this model is definitely a bit on the bland side.  This plant-man warrior has been base-coated in khaki, but there is very little detail beyond that.

I want my mooks to look a little bit like a fancy cabbage, with some vivid colour in the leaves (especially towards the tips):

Fancy kale (image not my own)

Right, now that I've decided what I want, let's apply some colour to the tips of the leaves:

Mook with dark pink tips to the leaves

This doesn't look good, I think.  The colour transition from the dark pink to the dull green is too abrupt and unnatural - not that aggressive plant-men are necessarily "natural", but I think you know what I mean!

Blending

So, here's what I'll do: I'll create bands of colour between the pink and the khaki with different proportions of the 2 base colours:


4 zones in total should do.  At each end the colour will be 100% of one colour or the other.  The 2 "inner" zones will be mixes with different proportions of pink and khaki, so that we transition more gradually from one of the "primary" colours to the other.

Obviously you can have as many or as few transition shades as you desire.  The more you have, the more work you'll need to put into the model, but the colour shading will be finer...


First transition applied (2:1 pink/khaki)
Second transition applied (1:2 pink/khaki)

These models are still not completed (there's painting to add on the shield, eyes & base.  Additionally, I might give the entire miniature a thin, black was).  But does the leaf look better now?

Here is a group shot showing the full effect of the transition colours:

Stages of painting, from 100% khaki to 4-tone blending.

Conclusion

There's nothing particularly difficult or revolutionary in what I'm doing here.  For the record, this is technically "dry blending": I'm applying each colour separately and waiting for it to dry, rather than mixing the wet colours on the model.  However, even if it is simple to do, I think the result is a vast improvement over the original single or two-tone colour schemes.

These mooks won't win prizes at any modelling competition, I think.  But they'll do just fine as game pieces!


Sunday, 19 June 2016

A wet Father's Day game

Introduction

It has been a very rainy Sunday today.  Originally we had thought that we might visit the local Pipe Band event, but the weather put us off (oddly, this competition seems to be jinxed.  Every year it rains heavily on the day it is held, even if it was sunny the day before and will be bright again the day after).

So, my wife and daughter were off at the associated Highland Dance competition (more medals for my girl), my older son is away dog-sitting; that left just myself and my younger son in the house.  What could we find to do on a wet Father's Day afternoon?  Why, play Super Dungeon Explore, of course!

Lootimeter Mode

We decided to try the "Lootimeter" fan-based variant of the SDE rules; this version promised a quicker, more exciting (and more even) game.  I'm not totally convinced by "quicker" (it probably is, but we're too inexperienced to tell), but it was certainly exciting and very close!

Note that I wasn't going to write up this game at all; I wouldn't normally report on board or card games.  However, halfway through the session my son commented that the game looked much better with painted models (previously we had played 2 or 3 games "out of the box", with bare plastic figures).  At that point, I decided to take a few photos so that others could judge for themselves.  After all, SDE is a miniatures game, of sorts.

In recognition of dads and children everywhere, here are a few vignettes from the second half of our Father's Day, wet Sunday game:

The Questing Knight and the Royal Warden take down a band of Rocktops (turtles).  All that is left of these creatures are some empty shells.  At this point, my 3rd hero (the Thundervale Huntress) was galloping off to destroy the turtles other spawn point, thus preventing them from coming back...

The turtles may be gone (mostly), but there is a new enemy on the next tile!

Turtle casualties so far.
 
The Warden ducks and weaves through fire& brimstone to tackle the next spawn point - but a bunch of rabid squirrels are spawned as he enters the new tile.

Hah, what do you know?  The squirrels are friendly and will assist the heroes instead of the Dark Consul (i.e. the monsters)!

The Thundervale Huntress returns from her successful side mission, but she has been badly injured.  Shortly after this, she was killed by Bashful Boris, the mini-boss.  Boris was then slain in turn by the remaining 2 heroes.

The Forgotten King (big boss) arrives, but the Questing Knight piles into him and reduces him quickly to half his starting health.  This triggers a Boss Timeout, wherein the King summons more turtle helpers.
 
The wounded King flees, leaving his followers to finish off the injured Knight.  He is pursued by a vengeful Royal Warden, who is in turn chased by the nearest Fireflow Denizens.  The tooled-up Warden reduces the Forgotten King to a single health point, but is taken down to one point himself.  The game will go to the first player to fail an armour roll; it's the Warden who falls!  The evil Dark Consul wins, but only just (I'll get you next time, see if I don't!)

Conclusion

You'll note that not all of the models in this game are painted.  I'm working on that, though given the number of miniatures that I need to complete, it might take a while.  There's no doubt in my mind that painted figures look better, though the evidence of the last duel suggests that unpainted ones fight just as well!


Monday, 13 June 2016

The Workbench: June 2016

Introduction

I'm still finding it difficult to make progress on most of my ever-growing range of projects.  Partly this is because I've been playing a bit of Race for the Galaxy with my sons (which is an excellent card game; I recommend it highly).  Of course, the fact that I've just whipped them in 2 successive games is a bonus; such victories are anything but certain now that the boys are growing up a bit!

Anyway, the main reason/excuse for not doing much model-making is the increasingly-cluttered workbench (yet again!):



The Overloaded Workbench

OK, so once again I have boxes and trays balanced on each other, 2 or 3 layers deep.  For the record, I really hate that, yet it just keeps happening.  I can't figure it out...

Focussing in on the central portion only, here are some of the works in progress:



Super Dungeon Explore


I haven't made much progress on my Kodama warband (intelligent plants).  In part this is because I'm not happy with the paint I've applied to the (blue/green) Wisps so far and that dissatisfaction has halted further work until I decide what to do about it.

On the other hand, Mr. Bitey (the zombie rabbit pet with the rotten carrot strapped to his back!) is coming along nicely.


Kroot


These aren't my models, but rather are the work of my younger son.  They're still cluttering up my workbench, though!  As well as taking space, he also uses my bench for some of the time that I would otherwise spend painting my own models.  Still, I regard any interest from my children as something to be nurtured, not discouraged.


The Cameraman


I bought this fellow from Crooked Dice at the Carronade show this year.  As you can see, I've needed to add a bit of filler to the top of the camera; there was a bad hollow in the casting.  Most surprising, given this company's otherwise excellent record.

The cameraman is now just about ready to be undercoated.  I'm hoping that Crooked Dice will follow up with other members of the production crew: a sound-boom operator and makeup artist would be excellent.  Perhaps also a scriptwriter rushing forwards with a last-minute rewrite of the current scene!  I can hope...


Frostgrave


My blue Frostgrave squad are still languishing at the back of the bench.  I really should just get on and finish them; there can't be much left to do on them now!  That would be quite a weight off my mind as these guys have been quite a millstone around my neck.  Hmm, perhaps I'll get a cup of tea first and think about it some more...

Monday, 6 June 2016

Showcase: Gargoyles

Introduction

This won't be a long posting.  I was due to write an article yesterday, but it has been too hot to do much.  For about 2 weeks (from memory), we've had bright, sunny weather, culminating today in a temperature of 31 degrees in the office all afternoon and 32 degrees in the car on the way home.  I'm exhausted and limp.

Now I know that some of my readers might not think that such temperatures are anything particularly unusual, but remember that I live in Scotland.  We're just not prepared for such heat, either mentally or physically (and I'm referring as much to our buildings, cars and so on as much as I am to my physique).  20-25 degrees is OK, but today went somewhat beyond that and has drained me.  No new painting or anything much else in the evenings...

Right, here are some models that I prepared earlier.  Several years ago, that is.

Flying Bugs


I don't normally buy Games Workshop models (not new, at any rate.  I have collected quite a few cheap pieces over the years from eBay and the like).  In this case, I made an exception.

I remember spending quite a while looking for second-hand GW Tyranid gargoyles to go with the rest of my bugs before I came to the conclusion that only the simple "troop" types were at all common on second-hand sites.  Additionally, I wanted to arm these with spare claws from another kit rather than with the "bio guns" which are supplied, therefore I really didn't want models that had already been glued together.  So, it had to be a from-new kit.

Note that I am not planning to use these in any GW games, so the "non-standard" weapons doesn't matter.  To me, these are just dumb animals rather than biotech-wielding, space-faring aliens.  Perhaps the hive has bred the flying critters as specialist scouts or long-range scavengers, as opposed to the larger numbers of walking/scuttling, earth-bound bugs.



I've altered the bases a bit, mostly to angle the "flying posts".  If built out-of-the-box then these gargoyles would be very much rearing up, but I wanted my bugs to be flying forwards.  I think it saves them from looking as if they're about to stall, though I do recognise that such aerodynamic niceties wouldn't matter to many gamers!

The colour used is the usual two-tone black and tan scheme that I apply to all my Tyranid models.  I decided very early on that if I was going to paint large numbers of bugs then complex camouflage or display markings were out!



Finally, I gave some thought to the storage of these models.  It's often hard to find adequate ways to protect models with many bits that stick out.  Flying models such as these are especially bad in that respect; they have wings, tails, basing posts and claws protruding all over the place!

Being plastic, my completed gargoyles are very light models.  I attached a disk of magnetic sheet to the underside of each base and searched for an old biscuit tin (cookie tin, if you're in the USA) in which to house them.  This has worked extremely well; my bugs won't even come off if I turn the tin upside down and shake it, yet they're not stuck on so firmly as to make it impossible to remove them by hand.  It wouldn't do for heavier, metal models, but this is just fine for these tyranids.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

SDE: Heroes and Pets

Introduction

Here are some more chibi miniatures that I have painted recently for Super Dungeon Explore.  I know that such figures don't appeal to everyone, but this will probably be the last such post for at least a while; my painting speed has slowed right down.  Partly this is due to the unseasonably hot weather we've had for the last week or so; I really don't feel like spending much of my free time in a small, stuffy work room!

So, on with the show...

Heroes


To start with, the Thundervale Huntress is a very large model for a hero.  She's a centaur, but has horns as well as a horse's body.  A bit strange, but then there's nothing particularly normal about anything in SDE, so it'll pass.

The game art had the huntress with blank (glowing?) eyes, but I decided that I didn't like that too much.  Instead, I just went for a regular human eye.



Next, we have the Fae Alchemist, an elf who specialises in maniacal chemistry.  She (yes, once again it is a "she") is laden down with various flasks and bottles.  In the game, her various potions range from the slightly experimental to the highly dangerous!  A bit of a loose cannon, if you ask me.

I'm not at all happy with the way that I've painted all of the flasks on this model.  Apart from that, I think that she's my favourite of the heroes presented here.



Finally, Princess Emerald is a steampunk-styled big game hunter.  She's an excellent ranged support character with some abilities that can cripple an opponent, but she won't do so well in melee.

This model is unusual in that she only has one foot touching the base.  I had wondered whether that might prove to be a weak point, but so far there is no sign of drooping or breakage.

I've just noticed that I've got a bit of frosting on the base; the paint must have been ever so slightly damp when I varnished the model.  That's probably because I've been experimenting with acrylic flow medium for my washes; it takes a long time to dry properly.  Bother; I'll need to fix this model up!


Pets

Super Dungeon Explore v2 has rules for pets.  Basically, these are creatures that you can rescue; they will then assist your party, though their powers are limited.

Pet cards can be shuffled into the treasure deck; should the party draw one then the pet is theirs!  However, treasure cards are already rare and there are many other items in the deck, so it seems to me that pets won't be found very often, if ever.  Pity...

Anyway, here are the 6 pets that come with the Forgotten King v2 starter set.  I've got a 7th one (the undead rabbit from the Stilt Town Zombies expansion) on the painting table at the moment, but he won't be finished for at least 2 or 3 days:

The Colonel
Admiral Fuzzybottom
Mr. Chompers
Lord Gruff
Miss G. Snorts
Madam Hilde
Well, they were fun to paint, even if I suspect that they'll see little game time.


Conclusion

Next time, something completely different!  I don't know what yet, so if you have any suggestions then I'm listening...

Sunday, 29 May 2016

SDE: Fireflow Denizens

Introduction

In my last post, I suggested that I might show some more Super Dungeon Explore figures.  Since that suggestion wasn't met with howls of protest, here we are.  This post describes the Fireflow Denizens, a band of assorted creatures that live in or near the lava rivers of the caverns of Roxor and don't welcome visitors.

The Spawning Point


As with all SDE warbands, the Fireflow Denizens have a spawning point for use during the game.  In this case, it's a mysterious crystal, wreathed in flames.  Dark magic indeed...

Can I say at this point how much I dislike painting crystals?  There are tutorials on the web for doing this (though they seem mostly aimed at computer art rather than 3-D miniatures), but I've found them over-complex and long-winded.  This is my version of a crystal, distilled from such online advice, and it caused me a lot of frustration whilst it was being painted.  Even now I'm not totally convinced that it looks right...

Blaze Beetle


One of the largest critters in this warband is the Blaze Beetle.  Apparently, these creatures tunnel through the hot rocks and occasionally break through into the caverns.  Yes, they can shoot flames from unlikely locations!

I've broken my own rule about copying the publisher's artwork when I painted this beastie.  The animal itself appeared to be made from flame in the game's reference card, but I'd had enough of painting flames by that point.  Instead, I went for a metallic blue body, though it hasn't come out quite as iridescent as I would have liked.

Ember Hounds


The Ember Hounds are described as "concealed by a cloud of ash", yet the sculpts and the artist's rendering clearly depit them as creatures of pure flame.  I've followed this pattern with my own painting.

It's fairly obvious even from just looking at them that these models are unbalanced; they're very front-heavy.  I had to add weights into the bases before they would stand at all reliably.  Even then, it doesn't take much to topple them over.

Burning Gels


The last of the flame creatures in the set of Fireflow Denizens are the Burning Gels.  These are large, evil, (un)living fire monsters.  They were something of a challenge to paint, mainly because the models are mostly large, featureless expanses!  Additionally, it was significantly difficult to reach into the extremities of the mouths with a paintbrush.

Fire Gels


So, what happens when you kill/destroy a Burning Gel?  Well, it turns into 2 Fire Gels!  All the heroes can do is break up the creatures into ever smaller bits and then stamp them out too.

All Together


To allow the sizes of the various models to be compared, here is a picture of the entire warband.  I think they're my favourite group so far, at least from the SDE monsters that I have painted.  Mind you, just wait until I have finished my Kodama (plant warriors); they might just become my new favourites once they are done!

I note that several of these sculpts have been reissued as part of the V.2 Mistmourn Coast warband, where they play the part of fog/mist monsters.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Tintin and the Zorgls

Introduction

Time for a quick, mid-week post.  Here are some models that I've completed recently...

Tintin & Snowy

I've mounted Tintin on an Escenorama urban base and sculpted a simple, matching base for snowy.

This pair should need no introduction; there are few pulp heroes more famous than Tintin and his faithful & highly intelligent companion, Snowy.  I've even heard that Indiana Jones took at least some inspiration from the many adventures of this young Belgian journalist.

Mind you, Tintin's history is somewhat tainted by a few of the early books in particular, which were deemed racist and ignorant even at the time of writing.  Information on this is readily available for those who care to research it, but I wouldn't bother if I were you.  Just stick with the middle and later works and enjoy the story...


Both of the miniatures here are from Copplestone Castings' "GN9 - Sleuths" pack, which also includes a very nice Humphrey Bogart lookalike and a couple of other investigators that I don't recognise.  This set of 5 models can be had from North Star Miniatures for £8.50 .

Now if I'm going to create a Pulp band with Tintin as leader, then I'll need to find some other figures as well!
  • Captain Haddock is essential; I've got my eye on "Fisherman with pipe and gun" from Black Cat Bases (though I'd swap the gun for a bottle, of course).
  • Thomson and Thompson are also a must.  I'm not sure where I can get suitable figures for them, though.
  • Professor Calculus would round out the group nicely, adding some real smarts to counter the dim-wittedness of the other sidekicks and followers.  Again, I'm still hunting for a model which can represent him.

Zorgls


Time from some hairy monsters, I think!  These are Zorgls, from the somewhat patchy, but always inventive, Golgo Island range.  They aren't the most detailed figures I've ever had and the separate arms were a real pain to glue (& needed quite a bit of filling as well).  Those are the bad points.

In their favour, though, are 2 very important things:

  1. They're really easy to paint: base coat, drybrush and some detailing on the face and claws.  I did these when I wasn't feeling very enthusiastic about model-making, but the sense of achievement at completing them so easily brought back some of the joy...
  2. I can think of quite a lot of pulp genres which can make use of the "men-in-a-rubber-suit" style of monster: Doctor Who, Star Trek, Scooby Doo, to name just a few.  These will fill that role very nicely!



The Zorgls come in a pack of 4 from East Riding Miniatures and cost just £5.  There is an "Alpha Zorgl" available as well, though he doesn't quite fit in with my plans for these creatures.  The Alpha Zorgl has a deep sea diving helmet on top of his gorilla costume and is clearly modelled on "Ro-Man" from one of the worst sci-fi films of all time: 1953's "Robot Monster".  A nod to such an awful B-movie is very much in line with the bizarre world of Golgo Island, I think (and don't get me started on the giant zombie hamster!)


Next time: probably more Super Dungeon Explore, though I haven't really decided yet.  Wait and see...