Saturday, 29 December 2012

Behold! The steam-powered budgie!

There is a weird piece of music playing in my head, it's Ride of the Valkyries playing on a piano accordian. Why? Because of this:

This is a mental contraption, a Dwarf Gyrocopter. It is essentially a wooden and canvas helicopter powered by a steam engine? Physics? Go hide in the corner and cry, for once I don't care. It's cool. These things are used by the Dwarfs for carrying messages between the holds and for recconnaissance. Its such a perfect choice for this army (essentially crusading across the Empire) so it had to be done. Plus they're evil in this version of the rules.

The majority of the painting techniques used have been mentioned before so just a quick run down. All of the woodwork is my Steel Legion Drab with Rakarth Flesh highlights and Agrax Earthshade wash. I decided to keep the canvas sections very simple. Mostly the Stormbourne blue I've used before with just a few bone white sections. The studio one, by contast, is just awful. Its rare for me to criticise another painter's work but seriously, it's just messy. It just not the best advert for the model and the photography makes it worse. Check it out and see if you agree.

The engine sections are covered in my usual oil mixture (brown ink and gloss varnish or water effects) to make them look, well, mechanical. I think keeping it simple allows the quality of the sculpt to come through and speak for itself.

Keeping the machines flying and shooting is this chap. Hwell the Guns; Master Engineer. Not much to say about this model as he's fairly simple. Ridiculous huge hammer (silence physics, gyrocopter has already kicked you to the corner) and chainmail. Now there are lots of engineers in a Dwarf army and the master engineer brings a few extra benefits to the army, one of which is:

Entrenchment! You can hide one of your war machines behind a defended obstacle. This is a set of gabion emplacements made by Anarchy Models. I was trying to figure out how to make these and then spotted these for just a few quid. Why spend hours making them when something this good looking has been sculpted already? They're perfectly scaled for Dwarfs too, see?

A gabion is such a cunning idea. They're just baskets that you tote into place and then fill them with rocks and earth. They are medieval sandbags essentially. I'm moving on to the rangers next, but am definately starting to feel Dwarf fatigue. The last thousand points I think will take as long as the first two thousand. That having been said, I had just six painted slayers and a shield fence as of November. It's not quite January and I've got 2000 points plus done. Gotta love elite armies. I imagine I will be able to get the last thousand done but that will be my lot for Dwarfs, maybe for another ten years...


Thursday, 27 December 2012

Memory Lane

I always assumed I’d lost the first model I ever painted, but two days ago, whilst clearing out some junk in my parents’ house, I chanced upon an old, battered GW box. What should I find inside? The best goram paint job you’ve ever seen, that’s what. Feast your eyes on this beauty:


In my thirteen-year-old mind, that was a badass colour scheme. Nothing says ‘dangerous’ or ‘the 90s’ like a bright red boltgun. And caked-on paint. And a Goblin Green base. And... whatever that stuff is on said base.

Why do I bring this up? Well, other than pure comedy value, because a lot of hobbyists come to the conclusion that they’re rubbish at painting, and will never get any better. This post, therefore, is here to reassure you that even reasonably competent painters like me were once utterly crap. Come with me now, on a journey through time and space, to the world of my teenage failures...

Thursday, 20 December 2012

2000 Points O'Dwarfs Done!

Hurrah, huzzah, jump up and down, bang trumpets and blow drums, or whatever. I have completed the first 2000 points of my Dwarfs. The units that finished this first stage of the marathon were a stone thrower (just cannot bring myself to call it a grudge thrower, that's one step away from a Mystery Men weapon) and a mob of Dwarf Warriors. Lets start with the war engine, everyone likes war engines:

But wait! I hear you cry, that's no ordinary Dwarf stone thrower! And indeed it isn't, this is a converted (mildly) Bretonnian Trebuchet - or Tree bucket if your french pronounciation isn't up to the job. Why am I using a Bretonnian Trebuchet as a Dwarf Stone Thrower, I hear you ask? Because this is the current GW one:

image copyright Games Workshop. used for illustrative purposes only.

Lets leave aside for a moment the idiocy of a battlefield - i.e. portable - war engine made of solid steel. Actually, lets not. Steel has a density of about 7.8g/cm3 whereas Oak has a density of 0.6-0.9g/cm3. That means that one of those support struts on the GW grudge thrower - which looks to be about a meter and a half long by maybe 20cm across and 10cm thich - would be 200,000cm3 which in wood would (heh heh) weigh a not unimpressive 150kg. Heavy. But in steel? It would weigh 1560kg, almost 2 tons!! Ten times the weight! No wheels, no pivots, these three are the strongest Dwarfs in the Old World. This would be fine for a wall mounted piece, but battlefield? Ridiculous. That's before we look at the mechanical problems. See, stone throwers work be releasing the ammunition at the peak of the arc of fire so that they fly the furthest possible distance:

forgive the sketches, easier than CGI!

There are two basic options, mangonel style designs which whip the throwing arm up and into a cross bar (like the old Dwarf stone thrower, which was beautiful) or the trebuchet approach which uses a counterweight and has a sling release the rock. Then there is the Dwarf idea which is a neat way of distributing rocks from the back of the stone thrower to the earth in front of it.

Essentially, what I am saying - or, well, ranting - is that this is an example of designers forgetting everything they know about the realities of combat and just going for whatever they fancy becuase "It's Fantasy". Well whoop-dy-doo. I like my fantasy with a healthy dose of reality underpinning it. It helps the "a wizard did it" pill go down if the physics surrounding it are grounded in some form of reality! [Breathe Jeff, breathe into the bag...]

So. The trebuchet:

This on the other hand is a gorgeous, lovely piece of kit. It would work if you didn't have to glue it together. I turned all the shields into ancestor heads (dead easy to do) and scraped off the Fleur de Lys before painting. I wanted to keep it very simple, natural wooden colours, canvas, rope and stone. I wanted the sculpting to speak for itself, not get drowned out in complex paintwork.

The crew - like everything else in this Dwarf army - were cribbed from my favourite stone thrower crew models. Working a trebuchet is hard and these three (with their engineer pointing and yelling) get that point across nicely. I was going to use the ancient Dwarf sitting on netted goblin (y'know, for if the ammo gets low or they're bored) for one of them but that model has rather dated now. The final unit of the 2k list was the warriors:

Now sadly, these are the only models in the army that I am not as fond of but there weren't many options. They were made at the post-dawn twilight of plastics and suffer from problems that have now been eradicated. Square hands, elongated thumbs and flat hair to name just three. The command models are even worse so I used the old Skull Pass Dwarfs for them. However I wanted a unit that would look very different to the Longbeards and indeed younger than the Longbeards. So here they are! If a suitable unit ever appears I'll replace them, but for now they look ok under a decent coat of paint and will serve in a stalwart fashion.

So, wow, 2k down, time for a 3k workometer then!

Essentially it boils down to two more block units, two more war engines and a couple of characters! I think I can get them done by late January when the campaign week of unnamed but deep awesomeness begins. Until next time folks.


Sunday, 9 December 2012

Grimnir Hates Us All

Hello happy bunker dwellers! First of all, bonus points if you identified the oblique title reference, it is the subject of todays post*.

Yes the Slayers are finished! Hurrah! I really think painting them in lumps has been the best policy for this little lot for a number of reasons. First, it has meant that I've been able to lavish the care they deserved on them. Second, serendipitously (totally a word) I have used a slightly different mix/method for the hair in each case meaning that while there is the appropriate sea of orange there are enough differences in tone to make it feel a touch more natural.

These are the motly crew that finished the unit. As a result of my cherry picking my favourite Dwarfs it means that the unit contains a special character and a hero choice masquerading as normal slayers:

Yup, that's a Dragon Slayer on the left and the nakedest Dwarf in Christendom - Garagrim Ironfist - on the right. Oh, and I'm not kidding about Garagrim, he is stark naked. I haven't taken a picture because, well, modesty forbids, but the sculptor has added tiny Dwarven balls under the beard. You can see them from the back. Oh and why is he leaping off of blue tinted chaos armour? No reason... (*cough*Emma'sChaosWarriors*cough*). Actually this is something I do quite often, I'll use elements of my opponants armies in trophies or in one memorable case, my Giant's trousers.

The banner was the subject of some musing for me as I kinda despise the normal slayer banner tops. Naw, despise is too strong a word, they just suck. Instead, I replaced the normal metal banner with one of the plastic icons from the newer dwarf plastics. I think it works. I deliberately kept it quite muted. The focus should be that sea of orange not a fancy flag. The horn blower to his right is charming model, I love the idea of Dwarfs marching to battle to the sounds of the tuba. I gave his face a few thin glazes of Casadora Crimson to make it look like he is puffing and blowing. I'm also extremely chuffed with the turquoises, I think I might have figured out this gemstone painting lark:

The trick seems to be not to change base colour. Just use black and white to alter the base shade and then finish off with a little white catchlight and a gloss varnish. I feel a Pirate Viking Painting tutorial coming on...

And there you have it, eighteen angry dudes. I've called them the Unforgiven Dead and they have a particular part in the story of the Stormbornes. But that'll have to wait for another day. I'll finish with the 2k workometer and it is looking very cheerful indeed.

I think when I get that big (ha ha, "big", I've got 50-strong units in my Night Goblins, Maisey's zombies alone outnumber my entire army) block of warriors out of the way I shall be moving on to the 3k workometer. Ooooh, shiny! Until then,


*The reference in the title was to "God hates us all" the album from... you guessed it, thrash metal icons Slayer.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Short, Grim and Deadly

 Greetings to one and all. Last time on the ever growing saga of Dwarfkind that comprise my posts I showed off the Hammerers. Today, it is the turn of their Lord and Master, the tragic figure of Lord Hafnir Stormborne.

This figure is a sort of "cut-and-shut" between two Dwarf lords, the shieldbearers of the King Alrik model and the taciturn fellow you see standing up there now. I love this Dwarf lord. Just standing there, surly, patient, waiting for a target to present itself rather than racing into battle like a manling. I used a few tricks with him to make him appear older and more tired than the other greybeards in the army. Hafnir is the head of a disgraced household and the reponsibilities and obligations that brings tear at him (I'll do a full backstory post soon, finally found a "voice" to tell it in). The tricks are fairly easy, a thin purple wash into the eyesockets robbing him of sleep and adding pale grey to the final skin highlights rather than bone. It washes out the vitality and makes the skin look older.

In comparison to the other troops in the army I went for heavy, dark gold for Hafnir's armour. I figured that the Stormborne armour and his wargear were the last treasures left to his household and he would rather loose his life than the last of his horde. Just like with the hammerers there isn't a whole lot of room for army colours on this chap so I went with the painted helmets on the bearers again.

I wanted another stand out feature on this model - he's got to rise above the host after all - and decided that his runic axe would glow. This worked splendidly with the light being cast across the shield and glove of the left bearer. The easiest way to do this is to just thin - really thin - some appropriately coloured paint and then use it to tint the colours beneath. Then add some white and highlight the tinted area.

And here he is, raised above the host and being carried into battle amid his most faithful retainers. I really am tempted with this unit to say "rules be damned" and deploy him in the centre of the unit. I think it'll look better.

As if that wasn't enough some bonus boom enters stage left:

Five barrels worth of boom in fact. This contraption is an organ gun, one of the older models as the new one is just.... stupid. In fact, rant time, the new idea that Dwarfs avoid wood in favour of metal is one of the more moronic design decisions of recent years. Think about it. A war machine made of solid steel moved by hand. Not light dry seasoned wood. No, solid steel. In fact, go deeper, do Dwarfs use metal for pit props? Digging out iron ore to smelt into pit props to dig out more ore... Go figure. I'll pause the design rant here with an intention to restart it when we start talking Grudge Throwers, stand warned...

So with that the 2k Dwarf workometer is looking veeery healthy. The big job is getting that block of warriors out of the way. Then it's on to 3k ready for January!

And that is all for today. I'll work up a post with the background of the Stormborne's tragic origins and the reason why they are even now marching on the heart of the Empire.

Until then,


Monday, 3 December 2012

Stop...! Hammer time

Yeah, I know, the title was inevitable. It mugged my forebrain, took control of my typing fingers and forced me to do it's bidding. Why was the title inevitable? Because the Hammerer's are finished!

These are some of the hardest troops in the Dwarf army. At WS 5 and with a base strength of 4, rising to 6 with the great weapons they tear through most things that the Warhammer world has to offer. Their heavy armoured, toughness 4 torsos can certainly soak the damage too and with the shields I bought them they have a 50:50 chance of ignoring most missile fire on the way in. Add a lord and these chaps also become stubborn. Dayum. The downside is that they are not cheap. 277 Points for the unit you see above. You have to win combats on wounds caused as you aren't ever going to be outnumbering the foe - unless they're Ogres, or Chaos I guess.

I've kept the shields fairly plain and utilitarian, much like the thunderers' shield fence. Most of the Hammerers are metal and leather with only the sleeves giving colour. I continued to use painted helmets to add a little more army colour and the large shields help to bind them to the army.

Along those lines, the banner is the most visible source of the army colouring. I wanted to keep the nautical theme going and so hunted around on the intertubes until I found a nice celtic anchor design. Add to that the Stormborne name and the household guards banner of the former shipping magnates is complete. Now sharp eyed readers will have spotted a gaping hole in the front rank. That is for their boss, and he is the subject of my next post...

Until then:


Sunday, 18 November 2012

Geek Week Episode Three

Well folks, that is it, the Geek Week is over and time to inspect the spoils of the final days, first, I'll take a squint at my Dwarfs:

As mentioned last time, I was rewarding myself with a Bolt Thrower. I'm really chuffed with figuring out a new wood method: Steel Legion Drab with Rakarth Flesh woodgrain all bound together with Agrax Earthshade wash. I don't hold with this new idea of Dwarfs only using metal. Kinda daft.

Also in the vein of rewarding myself for a week of solid painting I thought I would add another rank of Slayers to the unit. These five are the pirate slayers to give them their nautical feel. Long Drong the pirate slayer captain will be the Giant Slayer of the unit and deserves a slightly closer look.

Gotta love that Macaw on the shoulder, all the colours just balance the beard so, so nicely. Check real world references when painting animals as you will always, always forget important details.

And finally, the first hero for the Dwarfs! Runesmith Dwalin Gravenrune is finished. He was surprisingly swift to complete being mostly made of shiny metals. I went with adding plenty of gold to him rather than the brass that the more common Dwarfs are festooned with. This was for two reasons; the Runesmith is supposed to be rich and more importantly he is stuck in the Longbeards. A long bearded, armoured, grey haired bloke among 20-odd other long bearded, armoured, grey haired blokes needs something to help him stand out.

So what has Geek Week done for me? Well, the Dwarfs are looking a hell of a lot of more like an army than it did at the start. Everything in that picture above was bare metal at the start of this thing. It has taught me that a week of solid, focussed painting with a bunch of mates around to keep you motivated and entertained can achieve some quite astonishing results. Speaking of astonishing results...

Buttons. BUTTONS! You knows it.

Charlie: OK, so I only have eleven finished state troops to my name, but I'm really happy to have finished sculpting Amelia. The results make me reasonably happy, even if there are scrappy patches and imperfect surfaces. Whilst I have a lot left to learn about sculpting, there are a few useful bits of advice I'll share in a later post that'll show the step-by-step process of the sculpt. Now I just have to decide how to paint her...

Jeff: Now unfortunately poor old Emma has had to work this week but because the camera was here we decided to do a Previously on Geek Week for her too. Take it away, Emma.

Charlie: the keen-eyed among you will note that Jeff likes these
knights so much that he's piratically branded them as the product
of PVP.

Emma: CHARGE! Thanks to the wonderful Jeff I now have some close ups of my Chaos Warriors so far! Unfortunately, high quality photography serves to highlight the flaws in my painting (as opposed to the other guys where it reveals lots of insanely minute clever details) but meh, I'm still pretty happy with this first stab at an army.

Charlie: said branding is kind of the Photoshop equivalent of
a dog weeing on a particularly fetching lamp post, n'est pas?

I had lots of fun painting the grumpy expressions on the bareheaded warriors.

Charlie: or just evidence of about two and a half years of
Photoshoppy autopilot.

So now they are alllll finished. Just about. *hides the handful of unbased warriors in the middle of the unit* Thanks be to Maisey and Charlie for your tips and painting advisory service :)

Speaking of Maisey... Maisey: I've got nuffink mate. Xbox ate me. Maisey has been bashing away at a few things but has churned most of his progress early on.

Jeff: And this is what a table looks like after a week of insane painting. I've actually tidied up (bottom right) so it was even more extreme before this shot was taken. Lunacy. Anyway, we are all returning to our real lives now - ironically for me that means more painting - so normal service will be resumed!


Friday, 16 November 2012

Geek Week Episode Two

Shirley: Flatulence; moderate, gusting good.

Jeff: Well, the festival of sweat-shop style painting, dubious humour and ill-advised dietary intake that we know as Geek Week continues. Maisey and I are still churning out models at our usual rate, and Charlie is doing something complicated with green stuff and optimism that he assures us will yield awesomeness any time now.

So, on with the show; my Dwarfs have had a major boost to their numbers as the Ancient Mariners - Longbeard Warriors - are finished:

I'm using the newer plastics as the Longbeards because, well, they've got longer beards. The older models look younger (go figure) so they will be the warriors. Sharp-eyed readers may well be wondering, "why the hell there is a kraken on the banner?" Well, the army is from Barak Varr - the Dwarf seaport - and the family in question are former shipping magnates. Thus I am using plenty of nautical imagery along with the sea green and foam white colour scheme to help get that point across. After two block units I am rewarding myself with a war machine next. Well, I say block units... combined, they don't rival Maisey's next offering.

Maisey: So, as Jeff has mentioned above, I've been fairly productive in the last few days (well that's almost a lie, I spent most of today slaving away over a hot xbox) below is the second of the three zombie hordes. The third one is on it's way, just another 30 Zombies to go before I can live the tri-horde Zombie roadblock of doom dream.

As a distraction from the massive ranks of rotting flesh and other nasty bits and bobs, I've painted this chap:

I was never planning on a Cairn Wraith in the army, but the model is far too tasty to ignore. I've avoided adding any colours that might tie it to the rest of the standard army; I've done the same thing with the Zombies, Ghouls and Varghulf, simply because these all feel like feral and wild creatures drawn to dark power rather than things that were deliberately raised by the vampires for their own devious means.

The Battle-Standard Bearer below was mostly complete before Geek Week began, I just had to finish the banner and base it.

And then just to ensure that we all have some content today, the green stuff jockey Charlie will now present a "Previously on Geek Week":

Charlie: Having a competent photographer in the house means that we can now give you a decent photograph of the Blades of Taal, and their banner (what done featured in the freehand painting tutorial). There are still ten more to buy, but for now, feast thine eyes upon the upper-class majesty of the unit champion, Josef von Brecken. And a flag.

I swear it's been a productive week for me, it really has. How do I know? Because the still-mysterious Amelia von Lessing now has buttons. BUTTONS.

Jeff: And that is all, folks. More Geek Week later on, but for now we return to brush-blistered fingers, stooped backs and squinting eyes. Remarkably, we're having a good time.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Geek Week Episode One

Junk food! Filthy humour! Headache-inducing bouts of laughter! Geek Week is here, and we've got the pretty pictures to prove it. As I type this, the Beard Bunker's painting table looks like a cross between a sweatshop and the zombie apocalypse. I'll let Maisey explain why later on.

The experience is as enjoyable and as humiliating as I expected it to be. So far, Maisey's painted 25 skeletons, based 20 zombies, and painted another thirty. Jeff's produced a unit of sixteen deeply charming Thunderers. And what have I got to show for myself? A finished volley gun that was already half-done when the week started.

So. Frakking. Slow.

In my (limp) defence, I've also mostly painted five handgunners and done some sculpting on Amelia (more on that project later in the week), but for now, here's a picture of the army's Helblaster:

As with much of my stuff, I've tried to model the crew in such a way that you get a sense of their character. The chief gunner (the chap with the telescope) is an academic from Nuln more than a soldier of Hochland, and generally stands about fussing over ballistics equations rather than just eyeballing the target with an expert eye and kicking the boom lever. To his left is a simpleton crewman who hasn't worked out that it isn't worth covering your ears until the one competent member of the gun's crew has finished loading the damn thing.

"I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with M."
"Misfire, sir?"
"Shut it, you."

As with most of my kustom artillery bases, they're made with a movement tray filled up with bases of varying sizes gap-filled with Polyfilla. The engineer's table was a fairly comedy conversion; I took one of the books-strapped-to-planks from the Flagellants kit and used a razor saw to slice the book right down to its cover, creating a piece of paper on some planks. Add some legs, you've got a table. The addition of an open book from the Battle Wizards box completed the thing, after which some time was spent gawping at Da Vinci's notebook for freehanding inspiration.

And now, here are Jeff's Thunderers, standing behind the shield fence he modelled a while ago. Take the mic, Mr Jeff!

Jeff: Greetings Beardlings, my lord, it has been some while since I posted anything on the Bunker! Thankfully, the Geek Week is upon us and the intention is to break the back of the army in one glorious week of painting glee masquerading as a holiday. Given that I would like to get some games in with these short bearded blokes at the end of the week I split the monster 3k list into a more manageable 1000 point chunk to prioritise. The Thunderers - Dafnir's Deadeyes - are the first fruits of that labour. 

This little chap is one of my favourite Dwarfs ever, he is just wonderful, oozes character and so I'll use him to talk about the painting. The overall scheme for the army is a green-blue-grey and white that - hopefully -brings the sea to mind, these chaps coming from the great Dwarven sea port of Barak Varr after all. The blue-green-grey is Incubi Darkness highlighted with the addition of Russ Grey. Originally I had a dark storm-cloud grey as the alternate colour but decided that this was far to similar in tone to the primary. Instead I went insane and decided on White. Yep, I voluntarily chose one of the hardest colours to paint! It did also create a wonderful conversation between Charlie and I where I asked "should it be a greyer white or a boner white?" There was a long beat before Charlie asked whether "boner" was really the word I wanted... In the end a Bonier white was the consensus. This is achieved by a clean coat of Ceramite White with a thin skim of Seraphim Sepia and a re-highlight with the white. I'll talk about other aspects of painting Dwarfs later in the week as otherwise all of my posts will be the same: "so yup. Painted more Dwarfs..." and with that I shall hand off to Maisey:

Maisey: BRRAAAAAAIIINNNSSS... Well, not brains actually but BOOOONNNNEESS (Clackity Clack Clack). The Bonier chaps below are the third unit of skeleton warriors out of four that will form the backboner [really Maisey, really? -Charlie] of the army. They have been split into two units of spears and two of hand weapons and shields, hopefully creating holding units so my killy units can get into the side of things and make a wonderful mess of things. In smaller games, the skeletons can do this on their own, using the HW&S guys to hold at the front (with their parry saves to keep a few more of them from being re-deaded) while the spears get into the side with the higher number of attacks to do the damage. 

As with all of my skeleton-based units they have the fleur de lys as their banner icon but with a slight variance in the design.

Right this moment I'm waiting for the wash to dry on the current batch of 30 zombies. The aim for the next couple of days to expand the zombies from a respectable horde of fifty into, what we agree is the correct number of zombies, which is to say, three hordes of 50. I'm rather close. Just a bit more basing and the second horde is complete, while the third horde is 2/5ths of the way done. In order to break up the George A Romero filmset that my corner of the table has become I'm going to chunk through the fourth and final unit of skeletons. I might treat myself to a character to reward myself later. 

Right, back to the brains... BRAAAAIIIINNNNSSSS.

Charlie: Yeah, um, thanks Maisey. Next on BBC2, here's Shirley with the weather.