Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Nurgle Progress

Eyup all, realised it has been a while since anyone has seen any progress on my Nurgle army for the campaign so here it is!

So far it is mostly metalwork that has been achieved. This is slow for me I know but a combination of RealLifeTM and commission projects (for those that don't know that's how I try to make a living!) have gotten in the way.

The metalwork is just Jeff-Rust (see here for an explanation of method) the cloth and woodwork is going to be treated the same as the sorcerer as will the bone. The rotting heads will be painted as accurately as I can (and I'm a biomedical scientist) so that is plenty of disgusting reference material in my future. Ironic yaaay!

Currently debating with myself (always a curious argument) about the banner, I kinda want it to be drab and raggedey but I don't want the design to vanish into the background. Design-wise I'm thinking the traditional triple fly icon of Nurgle but colours... This could take thought...

Mercifully this rate of progress will not impede me too much as there are precious few units in the army! More next time, 'till then


Sunday, 11 March 2012

Creating an army's backstory

Inspired by Jeff’s spectacular (if somewhat dreamy) backstory for his Nurgle army, this post is going to describe two different methods for generating background for the units in your army.

My suspicion (feel free to correct me by leaving a comment) is that most people just decide on an overall theme for the army, and maybe write up a little background for its commander. For me, I want more than that. If every single one of the units (sometimes even the unit champions) in an army has a little backstory (just a sentence can be enough), I get more excited about painting them.

To elaborate, I’m going to use two examples: the swordsmen from my Hochlanders, and the stormboyz from my Orks. The Hochlanders are a perfect example of how digging through background material can provide inspiration, whereas the orks are a good example of how staring at the actual model and giggling can be just as effective.

First, the Orks. I ended up choosing the following face for the nob:

[image taken from Games Workshop for illustrative purposes]

Look at him. Just look. He’s clearly a mentalist. I thought about giving him a ‘normal’ orky name, like most of my orks (e.g. Grimtoof, Ulgrin, Wazzgrod etc) but this guy was clearly on a mission. I don’t know what that mission is, but he’s on it with a determination usually reserved for superheroes. Thus, Kaptin Rokkitt was born. This set off a chain of thoughts in my head: clearly, the other stormboyz are members of a sort of personality cult; acolytes who are shunned by other orks for their dedication to ‘da misshun,’ as opposed to more orky pursuits like hitting people with sticks and drinking grog. It’s kindof a ‘what if,’ as in, ‘what if someone was as mentally damaged as Ghazgull Thraka but not as popular?’ There’s also the question of just what Kaptin Rokkitt’s mission really is; everyone loves a mystery.

I’m so much more excited about painting my stormboyz now.

On to the swordsmen (whose banner was featured in part one of the freehand tutorial). All I knew about these guys initially was that a) they were from Hochland, and b) they were going to be a kitbash of state troops and greatswords. I therefore needed to find out more about Hochland, and to work out why their clothing was going to exude heightened posh-osity compared to the other troops in the army. My first port of call was Warhammer Armies: The Empire, although this didn’t tell me a huge amount about Hochland or its elector count. I turned to the internet. turned out to be a treasure trove of Empire background material collated from every GW source out there. I found out about both Hochland itself, which I now knew to be a rural province in which the worship of Taal – god of the wilds – was prevalent. Wanting to know more about Taal I headed over to, and discovered that his symbol is a stag skull (hence the banner). I now knew that I wanted to call the regiment the Blades of Taal, but wanted to know where they were from. Wouldn’t it be ideal if there was a detailed map of Hochland showing all the settlements in the province?

Hello, I picked Bergendorf as the Blades’ hometown, imagining them to use it as a base from which to launch patrols into the Drakwald Forest. The only question still remaining was that of their plush clothing.

The answer came in the form of the unit champion. The model I’d converted was over 50% knight components, but I couldn’t see an actual knight leading a unit of state troops. Perhaps his father was a great man, and this guy – still a young noble – has inherited his father’s wargear and is determined to make a name for himself. I think the best way to deliver the resulting story is via the medium of prose...

Josef von Brecken stood in the armoury of the Bergenhof with his arms outstretched. His manservant, Torben, was strapping his breastplate on over his arming jacket.

‘I’m going to lead the men by example,’ Josef announced.

‘Yes, sir,’ Torben said. He didn’t sound convinced.

‘A good leader never asks his men to do anything they wouldn’t be prepared to do themselves, that’s what father always said.’

‘So you’ll be living off their rations and wearing thin, patchy clothing, sir?’

‘What? Are they not properly equipped?’

‘I went to see them yesterday, sir. They’re properly equipped by the standards of Hochland’s finest, sir, that is to say, they have weapons. Some of them even have feathers in their caps. I should warn you, though: several of them couldn’t afford any shoes.’

‘Preposterous! I’m not walking through the Drakwald barefoot,’ Josef said. He considered his options, which were many, given his vast wealth. ‘Double their rations, and get them some decent clothing. I want them looking so dashing that they’ll put the Count’s bodyguard to shame! The Blades of Taal shall be the talk of Hergig!’

‘Shall we be increasing their pay, sir?’

‘Oh, come on, Torben, let’s not get carried away.’

Sunday, 4 March 2012

The relentless march of the undead

Hi Guys, if you'll excuse the horrible pun but I've been bitten by the
Vampire Counts bug. I've been racing through the first 1000pts of the
army at a pretty good speed. At the time of writing there is 900pts or
so fully painted on my desk all done in just a couple of months. Not bad
progress by anyone's standards, especially since I'm putting a fair bit of
effort into the basic guys. However, it felt like time to paint a
character. When I'm painting an army I like reward myself for finishing
a unit or two with a character or a tank or some other singular model. I
find it helps to break up the monotony of painting rank and file. In my
first guard army I got terribly excited and started painting through all
the fun stuff first, a tank, a couple sentinels, the command groups.
Then I looked at the rest of the army and found myself staring at 50
basic troopers left to churn through. A daunting prospect even for the
most varnish-hardened painters. Frankly, doing that many basic models at
once is boring, and this is our hobby, it is meant to be fun and I find
being disciplined and following the Unit then Character method the best
way of keeping it all interesting. Not to mention having a second
project to move to once you get Bone Blindness (I promised myself I
wouldn't forget about my Napoleonic army!).

So please let me introduce Mallick Rosenthal. He has the distinction of
being the only living thing in the army so he got a fair bit of special
treatment. Most of his paint job is my regular standard but I put a lot
more effort than I'm normally known for into the face. As you can see, a
little bit of extra effort into the eyes really turns him into an actual
character with personality.

As for the rest of the army I've managed to put together a workable army
already, even if it's not the most effective fighting force the world
has ever seen it's been able to let me get some time on the table. A few
test games to help me learn the army a bit better and make a few tweeks
to the list, as well as giving me ideas for the future expansion. So
what do I have at the moment, well it would have been remiss of me not
to include a big old unit of zombies in any army. These guys are here
for 2 reasons, firstly, they are a sand trap for units. Most hordes are
there to either hold up a unit or deliver lots of attacks. Zombies are
perfect for the holding up job because they simply don't break, they are
average toughness and you can simply raise more of them as Em will
attest to when I held her Choas Knights up for 4 turns until I was ready
to set my grave guard on them. Their second job is to look big and
scary. Which Em will also attest to :P.

Speaking of which, the Grave Guard, one of my 'hammer' units. What I
mean by hammer is they are on the table to dish out the hurt while the
Zombies are the anvil to hold the target units in place. My Grave Guard
are equipped with great weapons and a respectable stat line makes them a
slow but hard hitter, and of course you can always raise more to replace
the causalities. As with the rest of my army I've added the fleur de Lys
motif to their standard and they are done in the same colours to the
rest of the army. Despite my careful camera angles you might notice that
I've still yet to base the back few ranks. Basing is my hobby Achilles'
heel. I loathe it with a passion and it always feels like a chore to me
and I do tend to put it off until there is a insurmountable pile of it
and then have to force myself to do it in one huge batch normally goaded
on by Charlie's comments of "Wow, the army looks really good. It'll look
even better once it's based". So Uncle Maisey's hobby tip of the day
kids is - 'Always do your basing in small batches as you go before it
becomes a painful chore'

Last but by no means least is the first 2 full units of Skeletons. These
guys are the bulk of my army and a solid lump of hurty for 5 points a
model. The second unit still needs their banner doing, I'm just waiting
for my banner painting Zen place to happen in my head. I have to be in a
certain frame of mind to paint a banner. Also I'm still trying to work
out how to differ this one to its partner's banner. I'm thinking of
including simple geometric designs such as diagonal slashes, chevrons
and crosses to distinguish between the units but I'm open to

So that is where the undead are right this moment. What's next. Well
I've got a couple of characters on the workbench at the moment. One is a
stock model and I'll be posting up some pictures once that is done. The
other is a bit more ambitious and I'll be doing some work in progress
pictures with this one.

Until next time.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Exciting news!

The Beard Bunker has made it's first appearance on the Santa Cruz Warhammer Honour Roll!

SCW is a big blog exchange and their periodic honour rolls are their picks of the best of the output out there.

Charlie's freehand tutorial was what caught their eye so well done to the Brassley!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

RPG Quest

As a bit of a break from my various projects I have been working on some Roleplaying Game character models. This all started when I was asked to paint some models for a Call of Cthulhu group a friend runs in London:

I had a ball making individual characters each with their own colours, look and feel. Gives me the opportunity to play with colour combinations that I don't usually use and to experiment with new techniques without thinking about keeping an army colour scheme consistant. I decided that I wanted to try making a model for each of the classic RPG character classes. As far as for which game to use, there was only one choice:

For those unfamiliar with RPGs let me quickly introduce you. Pathfinder is what D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) always wanted to be. It picked up where the 3rd edition (actually 3.5 but who cares) left off and fixed all of the little things that were wrong. It is, by a long way, the best "High Fantasy" roleplaying game I have ever played - and I've played a few! In an RPG you play a single character rather than an army of them. As a result you can do things that you couldn't do in a wargame or in greater detail. Pathfinder's rules revolve around the concept of DC's (Difficulty Class). The gamemaster (the guy/gal/zombie who plays the rest of the world, tells the story and runs the game) sets a challenge a DC (say 15), the player, in order to achieve the challenge (picking a lock, walking a tightrope, striking an enemy) rolls a 20 sided dice and adds any skills they have to the number. So for example, Jeff the Pirate Viking is trying to craft a makeshift oar from a plank to paddle his longship. The GM sets the DC for this challenge at 18. Jeff sets to work. He has a couple of points worth of craft (woodwork) skill which will add 2 to his roll. He rolls the die and gets a 15. Even with the bonus he has failed. His knife hits a knot and splits the blade of the oar. Cue cursing. I'm going to talk more about RPGs over the coming months (as will others I have no doubt!) but for now, on to the miniatures.

 Pathfinder has expanded considerably on the basic character classes from the original D&D rules, there are enough now that I could make 6 whole adventuring parties out of them and use up some random models in the process! The first group is already done and here it is!

I decided to use the privateer press style lipped bases as they have more of a "display" feel than the normal slottabases. Each party will have a different base style to bind them together. Lets have a look at these four and what they do in the game

Barbarian (Heresy Miniatures Charging Big Boris):

Barbarians are exactly what they sound like. The classic movie image of the Conan-style warrior succeding through raw strength, agility and blind rage. In the game they have the ability to fly into a berserker state making them resistant to pain and stronger but a bit single minded.... Hulk smash!

When you have a model with this much skin on show you have to do something with it. I decided to use it as an opportunity to test out the body hair methods from the excellent article Painting Faces Redux from White Dwarf. You can still get it online from the GW website (I think!) but in essence it is thin washes and streaks of the hair colour that you want to use and then rehighlight with skin colour to make the colour drop into the skin.

Bard (GW Marco Columbo):

Bards are the classic support character, their skills are all based around improving the other members of the team and knowledge of the world. This particular guy I chose to be the singer and chronicler type of bard - some play instruments - as his scrolls and quill indicate writing down songs and music from around the globe. These people used to be the newspapers of their age spreading stories, gossip and legend around the nation.

Painting wise, thi model was a joy. Really nice crisp casting with little details to catch the eye. I am particularly happy with the bottle on his belt. A basecoat of Orkhide Shade is darkened with black and highlighted with white to create the colour of the green glass. The contents were achieved by mixing red with the glass colour and painted on leaving a little of the green around the edge to show the thickness of the vial. The catchlights and a gloss varnish coat really make it.

Cleric (GW Warrior Priest of Ulric):

Clerics are in direct contact with the gods of the Pathfinder universe. They cast divine magics with the blessing of the gods and smite the evil and unjust in righteous combat. They are healers extroadinaire and keep the party alive during combat.

 The model was my first test bed for the "Andy Green" mentioned in my Nurgle Sorcerer post. The red beard was to balance the green. A natural red hair is one of the harder effects to achieve. I always use Vermin Brown as the starting point, highlighted with bleached bone and then glazed with a mix of Devlan Mud and a bit of Baal Red. Makes a nice natural tone for the hair.

Rogue (GW Peregrin Took):

Rogues are the thieves, burglars, murderers and spies of the Pathfinder world. They join adventuring parties to help them get past traps and snares. They hide in the shadows and strike without warning.

To stop the model looking like Pippin - the return, I decided to use a dark moody scheme. Lots of dark tones combined with heavy stubble make for a grimmer, nastier looking halfling.

So with that I reach the end of the first adventuring party. The next one will probably be the Oriental Adventures party. I've got an old Citadel Dwarf Samurai and Ninja. I'm combining this with a couple of GCT Models Bushido miniatures to represent the monk and Shugenga (an oriental wizard). Next time it is back to Nurgle warriors. I've decided to post mostly on Wednesdays from now on to try to get a bit more order into my output! Until then.