Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday Miniatures - Umber Hulk

I've been painting quite a bit over the last couple weeks. I still haven't finished the Dark Emissary, but I have painted quite a few other models.

I finished all the remaining bits - some highlights on the armor and decals - on a couple dozen Black Templars space marines. I also painted twenty-three Necromunda gangers and gave them a coat of Army Painter Quick Shade. Once that dries and I have knocked down a bit of the gloss on them with some matt spray, I'll post some pics.

In all, I've finished about sixty models in the past month or so, just by going through my cases, grabbing whatever model comes up next and getting to work.

The model I finished off this morning was a simple one - a Dungeons and Dragons Chainmail Umber Hulk. I picked this up when I was running my 3E Shackled City game, so it's been sitting around for close to a decade. That's a little annoying to think, since it only took an hour or so paint it.

Chainmail Umber Hulk

The model is basically one color, the umber in its name. I started with a black undercoat and drybrushed the whole model with Americana Raw Umber craft paint. Then I mixed the Raw Umber with some Folk Art Teddy Bear Tan and drybrushed it again. Finally, I picked out the edges if the plates with thinned Teddy Bear Tan.

The base was inked with Games Workshop Brown Ink while the glue was still wet on the sand and then drybrushed with Ceramcoat Quaker Grey once the ink was dry.

And here is a shot of all the models waiting to be sealed. Once the weather cooperates on a day off, I'll get these all sealed and back in their cases.

Waiting for sealer

Friday, December 28, 2012


I've been reading through some of my old boxes wargames on my breaks at work. Earlier I found this in one of them:

"Should you have any difficulty interpreting the rules, please write to XXXX, phrasing your questions so that they can be answered by a single word or sentence. You must enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope."

How's that for a reminder that a game was produced before the widespread use of the Internet? And this is one of the newer games on my shelf!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Mordheim warband

Here's a pic I took with my phone of the completed Mordheim warband. Like I mentioned in my last post, I started painting these years ago and set them aside. When I picked them back up, all of the blue on their clothing was done, but not much else. One had been painted through to give me a sample to work from, and a couple others had some base coats on the brown areas.

The blue (if I remember correctly) was painted with a base of Citadel Ultramarines Blue, a wash of Citadel Blue Wash, and a highlight with Citadel Enchanted Blue. To finish the white areas, I base coated them with Ceramcoat Quaker Grey and highlighted them with white. The leather bits were base coated with Games Workshop Bestial Brown and highlighted with Citadel Bubonic Brown. The metal was all base coated black and finished with Citadel Chainmail and Citadel Mithril Silver. The horn was painted with Bestial Brown and Citadel Burnished Gold, highlighted with Citadel Mithril Silver. The bases were painted Bestial Brown, washed with Games Workshop Devlan Mud wash, and drybrushed with Games Workshop Bleached Bone.

Happy Christmas

This was my first Christmas in California, and I spent the day just hanging around the house. I chatted a bit with some friends and family online, called some other friends and family, and otherwise enjoyed a quiet holiday. I got an extra day off on Monday, so I've had four days off in a row. Tomorrow is probably going to be hard going getting back into work mode.

Since the move, things have slacked off quite a bit on the gaming front. Last weekend I created a character for a 2E AD&D game. I rolled high enough stats, so I put together a paladin. I was hoping to play him in a game on Saturday, but I got pulled away by some family stuff. Hopefully I'll get him into action after the turn of the year.

Aside from that, I dove into a few different gaming projects over the weekend to get things started again.

I played a couple games of Blood & Steel. Overall, I like the mechanics and the game. There are a few things there that took me a minute to figure out, because they are different than what I am used to in most other wargames. Once I got them down, though, I was able to play through the game very quickly. Altogether I was able to play through the main scenario in a little over an hour. The game has some replayability, and I am going to give it a few more plays soon.

I am still painting away on the Dark Emissary, but I hit a bit of a crossroads with the figure. I'm trying to work out the best way to paint the cloak and haven't decided on a color scheme yet. Once I do, I'll get working on him again. Until then, though, he's just sitting on my painting table waiting.

I did manage to put the finishing touches to my old Mordheim warband. The group is mostly swordsmen with a handful of crossbowmen thrown in for support. I started painting them several years ago, anticipating playing a quick campaign with some friends in Chicago. The campaign never happened, and they got shoved into a case and never finished. I pulled them out and started working on them a little before work every day. That gave me about twenty to thirty minutes a day on them for a week or so. Altogether, I spent probably three or four hours to finish them off. I'll get some pics posted as soon as I get them sealed and can get some good pictures of them.

After the Mordheim figs, I wanted to work on some figures that I can use as a test for the Army Painter Quick Shade. The next unfinished models out of the cases, though, were my old Black Templars space marines. I started painting them for a mini tournament at the Games Workshop store in Gurnee, Illinois back in 2000. I got them all finished except for the final highlights on their armor and some chapter symbol decals on the shoulder pads. Obviously, they're not good models for the Quick Shade, so I set them up on the painting table as one project to work on and dug into the next case.

The next case turned out to have my old Necromunda Cawdor figures. These have been painted and stripped a couple times, and I really want to give them a simple paint job and leave them alone. I've got twenty-three of these models, including two of each kind of heavy, a healthy mix of gangers, and a handful of juves. I decided to go with light khaki for the leggings, dark red for the tabards and cloaks, and basic browns for the pouches, boots, belts, and masks. These guys will be a perfect test for the Quick Shade.

Over the weekend, I managed to base coat and highlight all of the red, the pants, and the flesh on all of the models and started in on the basecoat for the brown. For each color, I paint a base color and then do simple, high-contrast highlighting. I'm going back to some techniques I used to use when I was taking tips from some of the historical painters back in the day. This is basically the same technique I used to use when I was using oil washes and ink glazes for quick shading. I'm hoping it works as well with the Quick Shade.

In between painting lots of models, I've also been reading quite a bit and trying to figure out how to make time to run another game. It looks like my old Borderlands game hasn't survived the move, so I have been trying to start something new. A couple of my players asked me to start a 1E AD&D game, so I am looking through the Players Handbook and Dungeon Masters Guide and digging through all of the adventures I have on hand to see what I can do. I'm hoping to work something out to get running in the beginning of the year.

Getting back to work has meant a lot of changes for me lately, and I haven't been posting as often as I would like. As I get more into a routine, I'll try to keep things up a bit better and get more things posted here. I plan to keep trying to paint a little every morning before work, and I have been taking gaming books to work to read at lunch.

In the meantime, though, I hope everyone had a happy Christmas (or whatever holiday or non-holiday you're celebrating this time of year). I got a few presents for myself in the mail during the last week or so and ordered a couple others, and I'll show them off in a post soon.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sale ending soon

I got a message from Lembit at L2 following last night's post. He reminded me that the warehouse consolidation sale is only happening through December 24th. If you want a great deal on some war games, check it out before it's too late!

Thanks to a lot of time waiting for HR this morning, I've had time to read through all if the rules for all three Blood & Steel games. The rules are very simple and straightforward. Tonight I'll be starting a round with the original game when I get home.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Some new toys

I have been slowly getting things unpacked and organized in the new place. Unfortunately, that has left me with little to no time for painting or gaming. I have started chatting with a few people about playing in a 2E game online, and I may be getting a 1E game going after the beginning of the year. In the meantime, though, I'm settling in for the holidays and trying to get used to the new place and schedule.

I did order a few things to try to speed things along when I get some more time with the paint brushes. Based on the review of the Army Painter Quickshade on Doctor Faust's Painting Clinic on YouTube, I decided to pick up a can and see how it works. I should get it sometime late in the week, so I'll hopefully be able to give it a try next weekend. Once I do, I'll let you know how it works.

I also picked up a couple of new hex-and-counter wargames from L2 Design Group. They're having a sale to clear out some stock as they consolidate their warehouses. I picked up all three titles in the Blood & Steel series. Yesterday I punched and sorted all the counters, clipped the corners, and started reading through the rules. I'm hoping to play through them solo on nights when I'm too tired to paint. I'll let you know how they play.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Miniatures - Games Workshop Fen Beast

This model was in the first case that I opened looking for unpainted models to work on, so it was the first on the table. The Fen Beast from Games Workshop was released as a limited edition model to coincide with the Dark Shadows Warhammer campaign in 2004. It was a monster that could be summoned by a Truthsayer or a Dark Emissary, special spellcasters that were also released specifically for this campaign. I've had the model assembled, primed, and washed for quite a while.

It was primed white and washed with dark brown ink when I pulled it from the case. Being away from it for years, I drybrushed the whole model with Ceramcoat Quaker Grey to pick out the details. If you haven't looked at a model in a long time, it's helpful to do something like this so you can see what you're working with and make some decisions about how to paint it. I decided I wanted the bulk of the model to be brown, with some greenish undertones. The rocks and bones will add some bright spots on the model, and I'll pick out the vines in a bright green.

I base coated the branches, vines, and bones with Games Workshop Scorched Brown. I am trying to use the last of my Scorched Brown on one-off models since I can't buy more. If you know you can't get anymore of a particular color and you want your models to be consistent, plan ahead as much as possible so you're not stuck repainting several squads in a larger army. At this point, I have enough left in the pot for one or two more models and then I'll move to a similar color from another manufacturer. I base coated all of the muck areas on the model with Citadel Dark Angels Green. I wasn't too worried about being clean with the base coating, because any places I make mistakes will easily be covered later.

Next I drybrushed the whole model with Games Workshop Bestial Brown. This brightened the brown a bit and muted the green. As the final prep stage, I washed the whole model with Games Workshop Devlan Mud wash. This brought everything together, picked out and shaded the details, and gave me good lining in the deeper recesses on the model.

I should note that I really don't like how Games Workshop has decided to reformulate their paint line. I recognize that a lot of people just want to paint quickly and get to playing, but having the different formulations for different stages really did a disservice to people learning to paint. One of the most useful things to learn as a beginning painter is how to thin and blend your paint for different effects. Thinning a paint for drybrushing is very different than creating a consistent wash. Games Workshop has really moved completely into being a different company, separate from other hobby companies by reducing their range to premixed stages. Instead of developing good hobby skills that transfer well to other ranges in their customers, they are making them dependent on only using Games Workshop products. I think this hurts those hobbyists in the end, because they will approach all other paints expecting to have their work done for them and not realizing that these other ranges offer much broader possibilities for modeling and painting.

That said, I do really like the Games Workshop washes. They give good consistent coverage and have excellent color. Washes are one of the more difficult things to mix yourself and get consistent coverage. Games Workshop did an excellent job at formulating a range of washes that is easy to use and works well. I just wish they hadn't gutted the rest of their range to do it.

With all of the base coloring done, I started picking out the details on the Fen Beast. I used Ceramcoat Cape Cod Blue and Quaker Grey to highlight the stones. I highlighted the wood bits with Games Workshop Kommando Khaki. I highlighted the bones with Games Workshop Bleached Bone and my white craft paint. The spearpoint and armor on the skeleton were painted with Citadel Tin Bitz and highlighted with Citadel Chainmail. I painted the vines and roots with Citadel Dark Angels Green and highlighted them with Games Workshop Camo Green. Finally, I made a thinner mix of Games Workshop Desert Yellow and built up the highlights on the face.

Fen Beast front

Fen Beast back

I realized after I got the model to this point that I still need to get to a store to pick up some PVA glue. Once I do, I will add some texturing to the base and finish the model.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Finally painting again

This week was my first week at the new job. Between that and getting most everything unpacked and arranged at the new place, I'm starting to settle in a bit. California still isn't home yet, but it's getting there. In the process of getting all the last details sorted, I've been giving a lot of thought to gaming, painting miniatures, and blogging.

Needless to say, getting back to work full time is taking a big toll on the free time I have available. So far this week, I've spent all of my free time before today getting things arranged, taking care of errands, and working and commuting. I have had a little time to read before bed, but not enough concentration or energy to really read or follow any new gaming material. Eventually, I'll be able to hire people to take care of some of the routine stuff like housekeeping and shopping, but it's not happening right now.

I also realized that I moved a few time zones west, which means that all of the regular games I've been playing in and running online would start at 4 or 5 pm instead of 7 or 8. Since I get off work at 4 and don't get home until after 5, that means I need to either find some new games or give up on most of my gaming schedule.

As far as miniatures, I haven't had much time or energy to paint this week. Today I decided to get something out of the cases and paint a bit. The first case I opened had a handful of old unpainted Games Workshop models, so I grabbed one and started painting. After a couple hours, I needed a break.

I've been reading and trying to catch up on all of the blogs on my blogroll, but I'm still several hundred posts behind. After reading a hundred or so posts, everything started running together, so I decided to take a break from reading and write this and let you all know what is happening.

Obviously, I have a lot of demands on me that I didn't have a few weeks ago. Just as obviously, though, I am extremely happy and excited to be back at work and gainfully employed for a change. I know that eventually things there and at home will settle down, and I will have more time for gaming. Right now isn't that time, though.

For the moment, I'm still excited about playing games, painting miniatures, and keeping up the blog. If I can find a bi-weekly game that fits the rest of my schedule, I'll start playing again. I'm definitely going to send a message to the players in the games I run and see if I can get something going with them soon. If there's a choice between playing and running a game, though, I'm always going to prefer running one.

For painting, I'm hoping to do a little painting in the morning before work during the week and at least a little one day of every weekend. I'm still trying to hold to my rule of not buying any more models until the ones I have are painted and either being used for gaming or sold. That means I'll definitely be putting some models out for sale to clear space if it doesn't look like I'll be painting them soon. Otherwise, I'll be painting some for play and some for sale.

I'm not really focusing on one particular project, though. Instead I'm going to simply open the next case or box in line and paint whatever is on top. That means that some of the more recent projects may not get finished for a while, but it also means I can focus a bit on getting models done. Eventually, I'll get to where I am only buying as I paint, and my projects and writing about them will be a bit more focused.

I'm still planning to play my favorite minis games as much as possible. That means more Fanticide, along with a few other games, if I can find more people in the area that play. Unfortunately, I haven't found a store that is easy for me to get to, so it may be a little difficult to find people. I'm still hopeful, though. If nothing else, I can always paint the figures to use at conventions or when I travel to Chicago or Indy.

As far as blogging goes, I'm going to do my best to keep writing as I get the time and energy. I'll keep posting pics of minis as I paint them. I also plan to keep posting modeling and painting tips as I use them. I have a ton of models to get finished, and I'm sure I'll get to everything that people have asked me to talk about in the process. I also plan to finish some of the games, scenarios, and other projects that I have hinted at over the past couple years. I definitely am not running out of ideas, but I need to pace myself and do things as I can without interfering with the day job.

So that's where I'm at right now. Getting into the new place and the new job is great. I'm still looking forward to keeping up as much here as possible, but it may take me some time to get everything to work together. In the meantime, I hope you'll bear with me a bit.

Expect to see some miniatures stuff coming on Monday.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Getting back to it

It looks like most of the problems with AT&T are resolved, and I finally have phone reception and Internet service at home. Unpacking is also proceeding well.

I got my hobby stuff sorted and somewhat set up, including my much smaller painting table. I had to leave the plexiglas-covered door behind in Indy, so I'm having to decide how best to rearrange and organize my painting area. I got some shelves to use to sort and organize my supplies, but I didn't get enough to hold everything. That means a lot of things are still in boxes stacked next to the table.

I did pull out some figures and paints to work on over the holiday tomorrow, though. Hopefully actually getting some paint on the palette and wielding some brushes for a bit will help me get back in the swing of things.

Monday, November 12, 2012

AT&T is driving me crazy

I'm mostly moved. Waiting to have the storage pod delivered on Thursday. If all goes well, I'll have Internet service on Thursday, as well. AT&T doesn't know because they can't check the line until they turn the service on.

I'm also living in the middle of a zone without cell service. Basically, there is no available service within five blocks of my apartment. To do this post, I had to go to the McDonalds down the street.

If things work out and I get connected on Thursday night, I'll try to resume regular posts then. Otherwise, AT&T and I will have to go a few more rounds.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Moving forward

Yesterday I packed everything I have to ship to California, arranged the shipping, and started getting things lined up with the movers on the other end. I was a little surprised to see that almost everything I own will fit in a 300 cubic foot space with some room to spare. Apparently, I'm doing incredibly well at trimming down on the things that I keep. I plan to trim even more on the other end, so I may have some cool gaming stuff for sale soon. If I trim the game collection, I'll be sure to give the readers here first shot at the stuff before it goes to eBay.

I'll still need to get new furniture when I get to California, since I only packed a few shelves and an antique table I inherited from my great-grandfather through my grandmother. Two of the things I'm leaving behind in Indy are my big painting table and my folding game board. I'm planning to replace them with a couple of 2' x 4' tables that I can push together and cover with a battlemat for games. That way I don't have to store a separate game board and I force myself to keep the painting table clean and organized.

This week I'm cleaning the old apartment in Indy and tying up all the last loose ends for the move. I decided to ship my painting supplies early so I don't have to wait for them on the other end. I'll be using this week to catch up on some other projects instead of working on models. Hopefully I can get a few posts up about other things besides painting. The minis posts will resume once I get set up out west.

If anybody knows of a good battlemat that is like the old Chessex mats, let me know. I want something that is durable and has a similar green color. I prefer flocked mats, but I'll look at an unflocked one with the right recommendation.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Packing and priming

I've been pretty quiet for the last several days because I have been sorting and packing all of my things for the move. Because I don't drive, I am basically going to have to put everything into storage for two weeks in a container that will then arrive at my new (still to be found) apartment in California. That means I'll have a couple weeks of living out of a suitcase.

I've had to put my games on hold during the move, and I will most likely have to juggle the schedule a bit when we resume. With me moving to the West Coast and most of my players in the Midwest or on the East Coast, it's going to be tricky trying to schedule anything during the week. On the plus side, though, I may be able to play some games with a few of my friends out west that haven't been able to work into the old schedule.

Fortunately, my paint won't be going into the shipping container. I'll have to ship it separately by UPS. That means that I am sorting through my projects and trying to figure out how much I can get done in the time between loading the container and flying to California. A few of the projects that are on the short list are things for people here in Indianapolis, so I'll be able to save myself some room in the container and get some projects off the table as well. Otherwise, I'm trying to keep the projects to what will fit in a single minis case to avoid having to ship too much.

Once I make the final decisions and start slinging some paint, I'll try to catch up with some posts here. At the very least, I'll take plenty of pictures and post about it once I land on the other end.

One thing I'm definitely not shipping is my primer and other sprays. I've exhausted most of the cans I had, and the rest will get used this week or handed off to friends before I move. Today I burned through an entire can of black primer, some white primer, and some of the brown spray priming a ton of 10mm World War I British, some Reaper familiars, and a few other spare figures I had in the priming box. Tomorrow I plan to burn through as much of a can of gray primer as I can on some Imperial Guard Catachans.

Now it's time to throw some more paint on the Liberi centaurs and try to knock them out before they get shipped.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Belated Monday Miniatures - Blasts from the Past

I missed posting yesterday because I was busy getting things done to make the move to California. Fortunately, it looks like things are moving along well, and I should be there sometime next month. In the meantime, I'm having to curb a bit of my gaming and focus on other things. I'm still painting and working on things for my Labyrinth Lord and B/X games, just not nearly as much as before.

On the painting front, I've been working on the Liberi centaurs for Fanticide and finishing the last bits of terrain. As always, I'll post some work in progress and finished pics when I can. I also got a chance to play another game of Fanticide on Sunday, and I'll have a battle report of that posted soon as well.

During the game, I was talking with Nick about a lot of the hobby stuff I've done in the last few decades. One of the things that came up is my former love for all things Imperial for Warhammer 40K. I used to play a lot of 40K, and I always played Imperial armies. I collected space marines at first, starting with the old RTB01 beakies, and later moved on to Imperial Guard.

Over time, I painted quite a few armies. For space marines, I painted a Dark Angels army, two Blood Angels armies, a pair of Ultramarines armies, a Black Templars force, some White Scars, and a few non-codex chapters. I also painted tons of individual character pieces for all of those chapters plus the Crimson Fists, Imperial Fists, and more. As I got better at painting, I got to where I could turn out a decent squad of space marines in almost no time.

Even though they are some of the most common minis for the game, they can be a lot more difficult to paint than other armies, because you really need to keep your painting smooth to make them look good. It took me years of painting before I really developed the skill I needed to make these models look good.

Imperial Guard, on the other hand, were a lot more forgiving initially. Once I learned to paint flesh and cloth decently, I could paint most of the IG models produced in the 90s pretty well. I started painting the guard with a Catachan army and some Mordians for the owners of a local game shop in the early 90s. I also painted a lot of the plastic Catachans when I worked at Games Workshop.

Later I collected a lot of guard figures of my own. Over time, I collected and painted a Praetorian army, a Valhallan army, a gigantic Steel Legion army, a couple of Catachan armies, and a couple of Cadian armies. I've since sold all of these except the Catachans. I still have some ideas of painting and detailing them, but that's pretty far down my list of projects.

Unfortunately, I sold most of the models I painted and never got pictures of them. I did get a few pictures of some of my favorites, though.


I started collecting the Praetorians at a minis swap meet. I was able to put together just enough models to make a command section, a couple of infantry platoons, a squad of veterans, and a pair of sentinels. That gave me just enough to field them as a complete army in most standard scenarios under the 3rd edition rules. I painted them in fairly standard colors - red coats, black pants with a red stripe, gold braid, and the pith helmet.

Looking at the paint jobs now, I stayed pretty naturalistic on them. Now I use a lot more highlighting and blending. I'm still pretty happy with the job I did on these, though. I sold these guys on eBay sometime around 2000 or 2001.

Command squads - officers not pictured

Veteran squad

Steel Legion

Armageddon Steel Legion

These guys were my playing army for years. I fielded them as straight Imperial Guard, Mechanized Guard, and as Armoured Company. This army was the first where I really got the idea that it's better to paint imperfect models and get them on the table than worry about trying to make every model perfect.

I painted them in a dark field gray scheme. I started with black primer, followed by a light spray from the top with some gray spray paint. That gave me the base coloring for everything. After that, I did some simple highlights to the uniforms with a lighter gray. All of the gloves, boots, gas masks, pouches, and cases were painted dark brown to look like leather. Overall, I kept things simple and knocked them out as fast as possible.

My Commander and his command squad

Heavy weapon teams
Ratling snipers
For the tanks, I started with the same black primer and gray spray combination. Then I gave them a light drybrush with the medium gray. All of the tanks had stowage and other details to make them look like field tanks. I painted the camouflage netting dark brown and drybrushed it with an olive brown. The packs and rolls were painted dark brown like the leather on the troops. I drybrushed the tracks with metal separately and then glued them on the model.

I weathered all the vehicles by painting on corrosion. For that, I painted spots black, followed by a dark metal color. Then I washed the areas with a but of ink. The other weathering was all done with different colors of pastel chalk. I ground the chalk using a bit of sandpaper and then blew it into place on the models.

Leman Russ tanks

The Steel Legion went out as part of my great purge in 2010. I auctioned them on eBay and shipped them to their new home in France.



I collected the Valhallans in dribs and drabs over about ten years. I'd see a blister or two of them for sale somewhere and pick them up. Eventually, I had enough models to put together a decent force of infantry. I painted them using the same base as the Steel Legion - black primer followed by a gray spray. For the Valhallans, though, I highlighted all their coats to a soft green. I also added a bit of mud and dirt to the bottoms of their coats. You'll notice that I used the same commissar model as the commander for these guys as I did for my Steel Legion. For some reason, every time I ordered a commissar from Games Workshop, I'd end up with this guy. I think he makes a great officer.

Commander and his command squad

This army was a fun one to paint, because I tried a couple of new things with it.

First, I got a few different colors of Tamiya acrylic paints to try. This was the first time I used them, and I found them a joy to work with. The alcohol base of them took a bit of getting used to, but they painted wonderfully.

Second, this was one of the first times I used this paint wash technique to do mud on clothing. I mixed a thin paint wash with some medium brown craft paint and did a few layers of washing on the bottoms of their coats. I'd go through and paint the wash on an entire squad. Then I would brush the wash off toward the hem of the coat, leaving smears of mud on them. Simple and effective.

Just like the others, I auctioned these on eBay a couple years ago.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Starting to paint the Fanticide Liberi

I finally got a chance to start painting the centaurs for my Liberi warband for Fanticide. Obviously making terrain, the job offer, paperwork, and searching for an apartment slowed me down a bit, but I was also trying to figure out the best way to approach these models. The rule book describes them as having as having a variety of colors, and most of the pictures show them with mixed colors like a painted or two-color pony. I want to have a variety of colors, but I don't want to take too long to paint them.

Horses come in quite a variety of colors and patterns, and I found a lot of good reference material to use for them. All of my old horse photos went missing on my hard drive, so I downloaded a bunch of new ones and made a new reference picture to use for horses.

After looking through the range of colors, I decided to stick with the colors that are mostly brown. I base coated these models with the black primer and brown spray that I used with the Fae. That base coat would add a lot of steps if I decided to paint some of these models white or gray. I also don't want to paint too many of these with spotted or painted coats. I know the book describes them as mostly spotted, but I want to get these done and on the table. I can always add other colors and patterns later.

That means that I will be painting my figures using mostly these colors.

My main colors for the Liberi

The first color is a dark brown. This is actually darker than the base color, so I will need to wash the model with a darker color and build up with some Americana Raw Umber and Games Workshop Scorched Brown.

The second color is going to be the predominant color in the warband. It's closest to the base color. I'll build the color for this one up with Games Workshop Dark Flesh and Citadel Vermin Fur.

The third color is fairly light, so it will make a nice contrast with the others. For that color, I'll build up from Citadel Snakebite Leather to Games Workshop Desert Yellow.

Finally, the fourth color is similar to the second, but a little lighter. I'll build that color predominantly with Games Workshop Bestial Brown and Bestial Brown mixed with a bit of Dwarf Flesh or Bleached Bone.

Since the torso follows the color of the horse part of the centaur, I'll build up the highlights on the torso the same as the rest of the body, but bring them up a few more stages. That will also make the torsos stand out a bit and draw the eye.

Before I started painting, I separated the models in the warband into groups by the color I will use on each. Group 1 is composed of the Chieftain, one of the Shootists, and a Cheveyo. Group 2 has the Shaman, a Cheveyo, two Stickers, and four Shootists. Group 3 has a Shootist, a Cheveyo, and two Stickers. Group 4 has all the rest - a Cheveyo, a Shootist, and three Stickers.

I started painting with Group 2, since it has the most figures. I highlighted all of the flesh on the figure with a thinned layer of Games Workshop Dark Flesh. Then I added a second highlight using thinned Citadel Vermin Fur. The Vermin Fur went on a little thin and left a lot of streaks, so I went back over and did a second coat with the Vermin Fur. You can see the difference in the following pictures.

After first highlight coat

After second highlight coat

I also used the Vermin Fur and drybrushed the hair and tails of these models. Next I added some Citadel Dwarf Flesh to the Vermin Fur and did a highlight on the torsos, arms and faces of the models. Finally, I washed the hair and fur with Games Workshop Devlan Mud wash.

Although I won't get to painting them for a while, I also washed the bodies and hair on the models in Group 1 with the Devlan Mud. This will give the wash plenty of time to dry so I can see if it will darken them enough to give some shading to the Raw Umber. If not, I'll add some other washes to them until I get the shading I need.

The first stages of painting on Group 2

When you're painting a group of models a lot of different colors, there's a risk that you will make them too individual and the units will lack coherency. I'm avoiding that problem by limiting myself to only a few variations in the main colors. Also, by painting these variations as groups, I can keep the warband consistent within each group. I'll reinforce the consistency later by painting the equipment, weaponry, and decorations using the same colors throughout the whole warband. I'll also reinforce it by basing everything the same.

Next up, I'll highlight the flesh on the other groups and do some more work on the terrain.

Skeleton hand trees for Fanticide

Skeletal hand trees

In my last post I laid out how I was building forest bases with removable trees. In the midst of that, I also put together some special bits to add to the forest bases and use as hostile terrain for Fanticide.

A couple weeks ago, I picked up some small plastic skeletal hands from the craft store. They had them in the clearance section with all the Halloween stuff. In scale with a 25mm figure, these things would be about 10-15 feet tall. I decided they would make some really creepy special terrain and grabbed them.

The plan was to trim the base of each hand, mount it on a 40mm base and use it with the forest stands I'm making. Looking at the hands, though, I realized pretty quickly that they would not stand well without some kind of support.

I decided to use a heavy-duty staple pushed through from the underside of the base to support them and hold them on the base. To start, I grabbed a line of staples out of my toolbox and pulled a bunch off the line. Then I used a staple to mark the places to drill on the underside of the base.

Marking the base with a staple

I used my pin vice to drill out the holes. The bit I used made holes that were really tight on the staple. That way the tension between the base and the staple will help hold everything together, rather than just relying on glue.

Holes drilled

Next I put a drop of super glue between the holes and pressed the staple into place.

A drop of glue to hold the staple

I did this for all of the bases I needed and set them aside to dry while I worked on the hands.

The base ready for the hand

The hands all had a rounded base, so I used a razor saw, a razor knife, and a pair of wire cutters to trim them flat. To make sure the hand would fit on the ends of the staple, I laid it on a base and marked where the tines were with a marker. Then I used my Dremel tool to drill out the pilot holes for the pins.

I used the Dremel because the plastic the hands are made from is very dense and it was really difficult to use the pin vice. If you are using a rotary tool to do something like this, use a vice to hold the piece you're drilling. It's too easy to slip and drill into your hand otherwise.

Marking the base of the hand

Once the drilling was done, I tested the hand with the base. To secure the hand in place, I added a drop of glue between the pins and pushed the hand into place. I made sure that the staples didn't pull off the bottom of the bases by pressing a pair of plyers against the edge of the staple on the underside while pushing the hand into place on the top.

A hand glued in place on its base

Finally, I textured the bases with some gravel and sand and set them aside to dry.

I plan to use these in games of Fanticide to occasionally make forests a little dangerous. When I use them, I'll use the following rules.

Whenever a model ends its move on a forest base, it has a chance to wake the giants in the earth. Roll a die. On a 1 or 2, the model is attacked by a giant. Replace the nearest tree stand with a giant's hand. The giant hands have a Give of 6. The hand remains in play and will thereafter attack any model that moves within 3" of it.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Another batch of terrain

In my last post, I showed you the bases I had sanded for the next batch of terrain. Over the past couple days I've been working on that batch - a few more hedges, some more rock piles, a few rock spires, some forest bases, and trees.

I put together the hedges and rock piles just like the other that I did in the last batch. The rock spires were constructed of pieces of pine bark glued together in layers. These were a little different than the rock piles, as I intend these to be glued vertically to their bases so they look like large slabs of stone that are standing on end out of the ground. Once all of these pieces were constructed, I set them aside to dry overnight.

Hedges, rock piles, and rock spires drying

To mount the rock spires to their bases, they need to be cut. Otherwise, I'd have to spend a lot of time building up around them to hold them in place. To cut them, I grabbed my hobby vice and mounted it on the end of a counter. I picked this up years ago from American Science & Surplus for cheap, and it's been a great investment. These guys have all kinds of surplus equipment and weird stuff, so they're a great resource for hobby supplies. Aside from the vice, I have purchased hobby knives, rotary tool bits, plastic containers, sculpting tools, and a lot of other things from them. Most of their things are knock-offs and off-brand merchandise, but it's all generally pretty good and the prices are right.

Hobby vice

Before I cut the spires, I made sure they were glued together securely. I also took a look at them to decide on the angle I wanted for each piece. If you cut these correctly, you can use both ends of the piece and end up with two pieces of terrain from each one. I decided to cut the smaller piece almost straight across and the larger piece at a slight angle.

Spire pieces ready to cut

I mounted each piece in the vice and cut them with a hacksaw. I always use a fine hacksaw blade when cutting pieces like this. The fine teeth of a hacksaw cut the bark quickly and cleanly where a coarser saw would just shred the bark.

Rock spire pieces cut

With the pieces cut, I stand them on end to make sure they stand well. I trimmed a few bits that made the pieces wobble a bit. I just used a hobby knife and shaved them off.

Testing the spires upright
I glued the spires to their bases. After a little testing, I decided to combine a couple of the pieces onto one base, so I ended up with three pieces rather than four. I also used a few smaller pieces of bark to represent fallen slabs of stone on the bases.

Spires glued to their bases

With the spires done, I added rocks and sand to the bases of the spires, hedges, and rock piles and set them aside to dry.

The second batch textured

The next stage in the terrain project was forest bases. I decided to create textured bases with removable trees on stands rather than having the trees attached permanently. That allows me to move the trees around to make room for models as they move through the woods and otherwise to have full bases of trees on the board.

I picked up a pile of trees from the local dollar store. They had these available as decorations for a Christmas village set. If you look at the discount stores and craft stores this time of year, you are likely to find all kinds of miniature trees for fairly cheap. I spent about $10 US and bought a big selection of different trees.

Lots of trees

All of the trees I got were shaped like conifers. There are six that are flocked lightly with a dark green flock that I plan to keep as evergreens. I'll need to add some flock to them to fill them out, but otherwise they're fine.

Some of the trees had a sticky, globby kind of flock on them to simulate ice in their branches. I decided to use these as the basis for my deciduous trees, since I need to reflock them anyway. These trees are constructed of either sisal or plastic wire inside a twist of metal wire. I used my wire cutters to cut off the tips of the trees and then crimped the two pieces of wire in the tree together to keep the rest of the tree from unraveling. Then I used some shears to shape them so they look a little rounder.

My reshaped trees

The remainder of the trees are small sisal trees that have been dyed green and then sprayed with a tiny bit of white flock. These are great for making smaller tree stands with a few trees together. I also like these when I'm using smaller-scale figures. If you use the larger trees with 6mm, 10mm, or 15mm figures, the trees look way out of scale. Having these on hand will allow me to put out some trees when I get my 10mm World War I figs on the table.

I got a couple of different packages of these - one with some larger trees and another with about a dozen of the smallest trees. All of these were mounted on scraps of wood. I twisted the bases off, making sure not to crush the fibers of the trees.

Lots of sisal trees without bases

Next I trimmed some of the trees to give them some variety. If you're careful when you trim the tops, you could use the tops as smaller conifers. I'm not too worried about having enough trees, so I just tossed the scraps.

A sisal tree clipped in half

Once the trees were all shaped, I arranged them on 40mm Games Workshop bases. To get the trees in place, I drilled a hole for each tree using my pin vice.

Testing the arrangement of the trees on the bases

Next I mixed a ball of green stuff. I use green stuff to hold the trees in place because it allows you to work with the positioning of all of the trees on the base and holds them more securely than just using super glue. I pull off a tiny ball of green stuff for each tree and push the stem of the tree into it. Then I push the stem into the hole in the base. Finally, I shape the green stuff using a sculpting tool.

Green stuff holding the trees in place

The sisal trees mounted on their bases

While I waited for the green stuff to dry, I worked on the forest bases. I laid out some extra 40mm bases to test how I wanted the trees to be arranged.

Testing the arrangement of the trees

When I was happy with the arrangement, I used a marker to trace the location of the tree bases.

A forest base with the spaces for the tree bases marked

 The next morning I used some bark chips and sand to texture the forest bases, making sure to leave the spots marked for the trees smooth. When I put the tree bases in place, they will fill in the blank spots and blend with the texturing on the rest of the bases.

Forest bases textured

I'm starting to get caught up on posts! Next up some more special terrain and painting.

Catching Up on the Terrain

Things have been incredibly hectic this week. I've been spending a lot of time completing paperwork, doing training, and getting ready for the move. Obviously until I get moved and get settled into the new job, things will probably be a little out of sorts. That said, I have gotten a lot of work done this week on the terrain, so it's time to catch up and post about it!

In my last terrain post I talked about getting the crystal pieces masked and ready for priming. To prime the terrain, I used some Design Master Colortool Black spray. I also base coated them with Colortool October Brown spray. These are craft spray paints that I got at Michaels, and they are pretty much my standard for priming and base coating terrain. They are not too expensive and give a great color to use as a basis for almost everything I build. This is the same color combination that I used to base coat my Fanticide models as well.

A lot of people just starting in the hobby think that you need to use a paint that is specifically labeled as a primer to prime your models. Most primers are formulated to adhere better to particular materials, but any good spray paint that will adhere to the material you're painting will work as a primer. As long as your model is prepared to take the paint, it will be fine. In the case of terrain where you are using a lot of natural materials, almost any spray paint will adhere well and give you a good seal and base for the rest of your painting.

My favorite sprays for terrain

To prime the terrain, I sprayed them from the top and then worked my way around the pieces, spraying slightly upward from the sides. I don't ever worry about turning the pieces over and priming from the bottom. Even with the overhanging pieces on the rock piles and the rocky hill, the natural color of the bark blends in well with the final painting.

Lots of terrain primed and drying

For the crystal pieces, I made sure to spray them more from the top as I was doing the sides to prevent too much spray from leaking under the edges of the tape. With an irregular surface, it's difficult to get the masking perfect, so being careful to spray across the edges of the tape should make for less cleanup later. I still avoided spraying over the top of the tape, though. Since it will come off as soon as I am done spraying the pieces, there's no reason to waste paint on the tape.

The large crystal piece primed

Once I sprayed on the black, I set the pieces aside to dry while I worked on sanding some bases. I have plans to make several more rock piles, more hedges, and some forest bases. I also want to make some larger hills that can go on the edges and corners of the board. I knew that the other pieces would need time to dry between priming and base coating, so I brought out some more bases and my Dremel tool to sand the edges.

I make my bases from MDF - medium-density fiberboard. I mark out the bases with a marker and cut them from the board using a table saw for the large cuts and a band saw for the shaping cuts. When I don't have access to the larger saws, I use a saw attachment on my Dremel or a hacksaw. Then I use a sanding bit and the Dremel to round off the tops of the edges and shape them a bit. I sanded the edges on quite a few bases while I was waiting for the primer to dry and put them in the bottom of the box I used to carry the terrain outside.

More bases ready to go

I also rounded the edges on a couple bases for some large edge hills. On these pieces, I just rounded the edges that will be away from the edges of the board. The backing edges I kept square. I am going to square the backs of the hills, so there's no reason to round those edges.

Some base for corner hills

Detail of a rounded edge and the square backing edge

If you are doing a lot of hobby work, it helps to have different projects going at different stages. That way you can work on one if another is stalled while you wait for glue or paint to dry, putty is setting, etc. With this batch of bases sanded, I have three batches of terrain in progress as well as numerous miniatures to work on.

I set the large bases aside and sprayed the other pieces with the brown spray. Again, I worked to try to keep any seepage on the crystal pieces to a minimum. Otherwise, I sprayed them with the brown the same way that I did with the black paint. I made sure that all of the pieces were covered with the paint but tried to avoid spraying too much. I want them to have consistent color, but I don't want the paint to pool or run. With these craft sprays, you need to be careful of that, because the paint is fairly thick. After everything was sprayed, I gave them a few minutes to dry a bit and then took them inside.

Hills, crystals, and rock piles sprayed brown

The first task once I had them inside and the brown paint was dry was to check for any damage. Often a bit of sand, plaster, or whatever will flake off or chip in the travel between where I prime outside and where I paint inside. In this case, I had a couple of chips on the hills. I covered the chips with a bit of white glue and set them aside to dry. I'll paint over the glue with some dark brown paint when it comes time to paint them.

Chips happen

Next I removed the masking from the crystals. The tape peeled off fairly easily, although I needed to use a dental pick to pull out a few scraps that were stuck in some of the deeper cracks.

Crystal pieces primed and unmasked

Despite the care I took to mask and spray them in such a way as to prevent leakage, I still ended up with a bit of paint on the crystals themselves.

Some paint where the masking didn't quite cover the crystal

I grabbed some cotton swabs, an old paintbrush, and some rubbing alcohol and scrubbed off the paint that leaked onto the crystals. Then I buffed the crystals with a cotton ball to remove any dulling from the alcohol.

One of the crystals cleaned and ready to paint
I painted the ground of all the pieces in the batch the same. I started with a drybrush of Americana craft paint  Yellow Ochre. Then I did a second drybrush with Americana Bleached Sand. These paints are a little brighter than the Games Workshop Desert Yellow and Bleached Bone that I used on the bases of my Fanticide figures, but they're close enough to not be particularly noticeable when side-by-side with the figures. I generally use craft paint as much as I can on terrain, because the model paints are much more expensive.

I generally don't spend a lot of time when I am drybrushing the ground on terrain pieces. I try to make them look good, but I'm not worried about perfection. Any mistakes I make with the drybrushing can always be covered with flock and scatter later.

I do like to work in layers, though. The more colors you use on a particular element, the more depth you generally achieve on that piece. Doing the two stages of drybrushing gives some variety to the surfaces on these pieces so they pop a bit more on the table.

The first layer of drybrushing picks out the texture. For example, on the rock piles, the yellow ochre picks out the texture of the bark rocks and gives it a little depth against the brown of the base coat.

Rock piles after the first drybrush

The second drybrush gives them more depth and lightens the color. In the case of the rock piles, the bleached sand gives a sharp contrast with the brown of the base coat and a mild contrast with the yellow ochre.

Rock piles after the second drybrush

I drybrushed all the rock piles, hills, and crystal pieces using a 1/2" round natural bristle brush for the first drybrush and a 1/2" flat natural bristle brush for the second drybrush. I prefer stiff, natural bristle brushes for drybrushing terrain because they hold the right amount of paint and are generally sturdy enough to hold up to a decent amount of use. Synthetic brushes and softer natural brushes like sable brushes get destroyed almost immediately if you use them to drybrush terrain pieces because of the abrasion from the sand and other materials.

When I was drybrushing the hills, I concentrated mostly on the rocks and any parts of the pieces that would be exposed after the flocking. For the small hill, that meant the rocks and the little bit of scree on the edge of the hill. For the long hill with the scree slope on the end, I concentrated on the edges of the base and the scree slope.

Scree slope drybrushed

For the rocky hill, I did a very heavy drybrush on the rocks, just like I did on the rock piles. Trying to maintain consistency in technique between pieces like this can make your board look a lot more natural when you lay out your terrain.

Rocky hill drybrushed

Finally, I drybrushed the crystal pieces just like the others. When they were finished, I went back over them with some rubbing alcohol and cleaned up any stray paint that got on the crystals themselves.

Crystal pieces cleaned and drybrushed

With the drybrushing done, it was time to turn to flocking. I plan to use all of these pieces on my board with the battle mat, so I picked a flock mix that matches that board. I decided to do a fairly heavy covering on all the bases and the hills and some scattered flock on the rocks and rock piles.

I mixed some white glue with water and a little Future floor wax. I mix my glue in an old paint cap, which is ideal for mixing a larger batch like you need for a batch of terrain. I painted the glue on with a fairly large brush. When you do this, you want to work in small areas so the glue doesn't dry before you put the flock on the model.

A rock pile with the glue painted on it

I use a mix of different colors of flock that I keep in a large zip top bag. I sprinkle it on the model with an old laundry detergent cap. When I am working with flock, I use the same box that I used to catch the sand when I was building the models. I sprinkle the flock on very heavily and let it sit for a few seconds so the glue soaks into the flock. Flocking is normally ground up porous foam or sawdust, so it adheres better if you give it a second to actually soak up a bit of the glue.

A lot of flock on a rock pile

Then I tip the excess flock into the catch box. I try to tap the bottom of the terrain piece to knock off any other loose flock. Then I continue gluing and flocking until I have covered all the parts of the model I want to with the flocking.

A rock pile with the excess flock knocked off

I let all the pieces dry overnight and then sealed them with spray sealer. For my terrain, I normally give them alternating coats of spray sealer and Future floor wax. The combination gives them a hard coating that protects them from abuse when they're on the table. These pieces will all get a couple coats of each, but the Future will have to wait until I get the rest of the terrain done and get my airbrush set up.

In the meantime, here are the pieces that are finished so far. The color is a little off in these pictures. I'll get some better pictures of everything when I get all the terrain finished.

First, the rock piles. These have a good amount of flock scattered here and there to give them a mossy look and help them blend with the board a bit.

Rock piles

The small hill is just a flocked mound except for the little bit of scree and stones on one edge.

Small hill

The medium-sized hill has a couple steps and the scree slope on the tall end.

Hill with scree slope

The larger hill has a slope on one side and a rocky face on the rest.

Slope side of the rocky hill

Rocky side of the hill

The crystal pieces are going to be used as Shrieker Crystals in my Fanticide games. The largest crystal sticks out from the side of an irregular mound.

Large Shrieker Crystal

The medium-sized crystal juts from a smaller mound and has a lot of boulders near it.

Medium Shrieker Crystal

The smallest crystals jut from the plain. A couple have some small chips of rock near their bases. The other is a mass of smaller crystals bunched together.

Small Shrieker Crystals

Coming up I'll have the next batch of terrain and some painting on the Liberi.