Sunday, 6 May 2012

Freehand painting tips (part 2 of 2)

In part one of this post, on the 26th of February, I wrote, "I'm going to go step-by-step through a work-in-progress, the second half of which I'll do in a fortnight's time."

In my defence... um... you can’t rush... genius?

Moving on... Hochlanders love the Imperial Cross, apparently, so I decided on that as the design for the flipside of the flag. Here we have the same drill as before: dots to map out the basic shape, then sketching the basic shape (using a layer paint rather than foundation paint – it’s just smoother and easier to sketch with). After that, flesh out the design and get the shape you want, like so:

Once I was happy with the proportions, I then went over the design with a foundation paint, and then went over it again with a layer paint, for a stronger colour:

How did I get such a sharp shape on the ends of the cross? By using Chaos Black as an eraser.

Now, at this point, it became clear that a plain ol’ cross wasn’t going to cut it, given how much effort I’d put into the other side. After some discussion with Maisey, I decided on a laurel wreath (thanks babe).

So, with the cross basically done, the now-familiar process started again. Dots, sketch, firm up.

It should be noted that circular shapes can be a cast-iron muthahubbard to get right. If you need a decent circle, it’s often easier to draw an eight-pointed asterisk first (basically two crosses) and check that all the lines are the same length. After that, you just have to join up the dots, and then go back over it to paint it more like a curve than a series of straight lines. In this case, I was happy with just the four points, and drew it by doing four ninety-degree curves.

Unfortunately, I then realised I’d made the lines far too thick, and so got my Chaos Black eraser of love out again. I didn’t use any foundation paints for this one – with such a small surface area, I didn’t need it, and stuck to Catachan Green.  Witness, thinner lines:

I now needed to sketch the leaves. To be honest, there’s no cunning trick here, but leaves are actually quite an easy shape to draw. Just look up some reference of laurel leaves (or iconographic versions of them in Uniforms & Heraldry of the Empire) and get involved.

To keep things stylistically consistent with the deer skull, I went for a more natural-looking wreath rather than a stylised one. To suggest some volume to the leaves, I painted the leaves by making two lines, leaving a slight gap between them to let the black show through. Obviously, that was never going to work on the leaves on top of the red bits, but whatever. Nothing can be perfect, lest it offend Allah’s sensibilities.*

At this point, having basecoated all the shapes, I layered up the black of the flag with Graveyard Earth and Bleached Bone, gave the ribbons a quick highlight, and mixed some Bleached Bone into the Catachan Green for a highlight on the wreath.

As I had some black highlight mix going, I also took the opportunity to tidy up the deer skull:

Feeling the wreath needed a little more colour, I glazed it with Thraka Green, applying more to the leaves than the stems (as per the reference photos I’d seen).

With the design finished, I gave the entire model (not to mention nine other state troops) my patented Filth Wash (it’s just Graveyard Earth and Scorched Brown watered down, but it makes things more dusty than a proper wash, which has a little varnish in it).

And there you have it. At long last, the Blades of Taal can be fielded in a game! That said, there’s only twenty of ’em. That won’t get me far in a fight against Emma’s Warriors of Angry. I reckon another ten. And a detachment might be necessary. I’ll totally have them done in a fortnight... I’m dependable like that.


* I'm told many Muslim carpet weavers make one deliberate mistake when they make a rug, because to make something perfect is to claim you’re on a par with God, which is - apparently - fairly presumptuous.

Friday, 4 May 2012

General Geekery - An introduction to LARPing

Greetings all, sorry for neglecting the blog of late but that pesky RealLife (TM) has gotten firmly in the way. I am moving to a new lair in the next two weeks so sadly a brief communications blackout is pretty much inevitable. For today though (motivated by the fact that I am leaving for an event in about nine hours) I wanted to talk about one of my other hobbies. LARPing.

Now a fair few of you will be going "huh?". It's ok, I forgive you, this is a niche hobby within a niche hobby so frankly it is to be expected that precious few people have the faintest clue what it is. Hence this explanation in this den of geekery and esoteric pursuits! LARP stands for Live Action RolePlay (sometimes shortened to LRP but we like the "A" in there, who doesn't like action?) and is essentially an evolution of the tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons. Whereas tabletop games (which I love playing by the way) use dice and paper to create the game, LARP actually puts you in the game.

You dress as your character, speak as your character and fight as your character. Fight? Oh yeah, combat in LARP (at least my sort, there are others I'll do some more parts in the future) is "full-contact" using safe weapons. These are foam weapon replicas with a cabon fibre core for rigidity amd a painted latex skin for appearance and protection of the core. When used with a pulled blow they hurt way less than paintballing but a bit more than a pillow fight. Our system uses assigned hit points, if you get hit in a body part then you loose a hit point from it. Once you loose all the hit points then that part is crippled and can't be used. If the body is crippled then you go down!

Believe it or not this is latex, no really!
At its core, LARPing is improvisational acting, we all did it as children when we played "pretend". It was once described to me as Free-form, Cross-country Pantomime. You interect with the other characters and the denizens and enemies of the campaign world in person as though you truly were the character. Our system has the characters come together to achieve some quest, the story is designed and driven by the Ref team (I'm one of them in our system). The Ref's manage the rules of the game and play the Non-player characters and evil types. We're aided in this by the crew, these are another group of people who choose to play the enemies in the world and help to tell the story.

I'll go through more details in future parts to create a beginners guide to an entertaining and engaging hobby. People tend to have a bit of a down on LARPing as when it is good it is very very good but when it is bad it's embarressing. A lot of the bad stereotypes come from American LARPing by the way, the important thing is that you get out of LARPing what you put into it. The more effort you put into costume and performance, the more you buy into it, the better it is.

Anyway, I'll do more parts to this guide in the future but for now I have to go pack to spend a long weekend in the forest whacking people with rubber swords. Hurrah!