Monday, 27 August 2012

Tanky Tank Tank Part One

I was discussing with Charlie what my next post should be about and I had expressed a wish to do some sort of step by step helpful instructional type post where I impart knowledge from my brain meats to yours. His response was pretty clear.

"Maisey," he said, "there is only one thing I can imagine you doing."

"Tanks?" I said.

"Tanks," he said.

So, I like tanks. They are fun to build, fun to paint and they make things go BOOM! Which is always satisfying. I have a few tanks. When I say a few I mean lots. Lots like fish in the sea lots.

In my last post I mentioned the urge to do a Chaos/Rebel Guard army. This going to let me have a lot of fun as both armies have the world of opportunity to convert everything, but I'll mostly focus on the tanks. The first tank I'm going to attempt is one from the Guard side of things and is going to be one of my all time favourites: the Demolisher.

So Fresh, So Clean...
So Fresh, So Clean...
Here is it fresh off the production line. You'll notice that it's missing all the armaments. With the current kits you can easily swap the guns around if you're a little careful about it and with the use of some high-tech wizardry (blue-tack) you can have 60 different load-outs available to you (no really, I did the maths) and that's more choice than my simple brain can cope with.

There's Options!
There's Options!
The next step was to have a good old rummage in my bits-box and pull out all the spikey bits and anything else vaguely chaos or useful. I wanted to make this tank a rolling temple of hate, and pointy things always mean hate (just look at those hateful wrought iron park fences).

More hate than a white picket fence...
More hate than a white picket fence...
One thing I did find in my bits box was some Forge World tank commanders. These things are wonderfully sculpted models. The downside is that they are resin and need to be super glued into place. The practical slice of my brain had a reasonable fear of the bond breaking and the model falling into the turret, so I needed to add some bracing underneath to prevent it from dropping in. The most efficient method I found was a spare small square base glued in under him. This also filled in the gap between his legs and the turret.

I'm Problems!
Potential problem...
I'm Solutions!
... and the solution!
Here I have finished sticking pointy bits and skulls and chains onto everything that could conceivably have pointy bits and skulls and chains hanging on it without going too overboard. When adding things like this I always try and remember that this is still a working combat vehicle and the turret and sponsons need to turn and fire. Also engine hatches and crew hatches still need to be accessible. It's all well and good making the tank look like an evil pin cushion of doom but if the adornments would physically stop the turret from turning then it can break immersion. It turns it from being a believable vehicle into something illogical and confusing. I know this is all make believe but making something credible just adds to and strengthens the fantasy. These little details make all the difference when building a tank or any kind of conversion.

A pointy shine to the machine's engine daemon...
Next up was battle damage. This is a fun stage where you can really go to town and make the tank as beaten and battered as you like, but always remember less is more. A few scrapes in the right place looks better than a completely ruined side panel (unless you're a Nurgle cultist, an Ork anything, or building a burnt-out wreck for scenery). I was sure to make the bullet holes look like a trail, as if someone sprayed the side of the tank in one direction as well as mixing up the size of the bullet holes (as the tank gets hit by small arms or a heavy bolter or an autocannon they will leave different sized holes).

As you can see below, I've tried to make each section of damage into a little vignette. Going clockwise from the top left: Attacking infantry have tried to shoot the crew hatch open to lob in a frag grenade. Desperate to slow the tank down troops have tried to focus fire onto the weaker armour around the engine block. The deep gouges along the side of sponson from where the tanks crew tried to force themselves down a narrow alleyway. Some sharpshooter has tried to pick off the tank's commander but only hit the turret.

Now the tank is ready for paint. However, I'll go through the details of painting this bad boy next time.

Until then, take it easy folks.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Now for something completely different – Yaaargh!

Aha! Caught you unawares – these aren’t Orks, tanks, rats or Ork-rat-tank-hybrid-walker-machines! These are in fact a couple of Dreadfleet ships.

 I’ve been dabbling my toes in a bit of commission work for a colleague, and this is what he’ll get for buying me grog.
Here are my thoughts on the models, painting and some other general ramblings that have tangential relevance.
The good
 Looking back on the old Man’O War ships, I have been astounded by how finely sculpted and well detailed these ships are. The Bloody Reaver in particular is a quite astonishing piece of work and it really looks like a floating collection of junk - which is a positive comment from an Ork player.
The Nocturne (I couldn't fit 'Bloody Reaver' onto the gap on the sail).
The Flaming Scimitar was very easy to put together. I’m quite fond of the opulent Djinn Palace look, but less pleased with the blowing wind sculpt coming out of the air spirit’s mouth. The fire Djinn looks ace – the thought of a sixty foot fiery sword crashing down onto an enemy ship’s deck just fills me with joy!  

I’m going to be reluctant to give the ships back as I’m quite happy with the way they look. Doubtless the taste of sweet, sweet grog will help ease the pain. 
The Bad
Maybe it’s just my incompetence but the Bloody Reaver really was the ‘Bloody Will Not Fit Together’. I had to shave off parts of the starboard base to make it even partly fit.
More annoyingly, the main sail sits awkwardly right up against the main castle tower – which looks rubbish from the Starboard side. The highly ornate sail (the one that took ages to paint) is positioned right behind the main sail and is almost entirely hidden. These latter two problems are (I’m pretty sure) not my fault, and a little bit more thought during the design process would have sorted this out. Despite this - I do genuinely like the sculpt.
Look at that beautiful detailing on the third sail.  Oh wait, you can't.
Nor can you see the N in Nocturne cos it's hidden behind the tower.
The Flaming Scimitar went together substantially more easily, the only problem being a mould gap on the smaller of the minarets.
Artistic decisions
I decided to stay relatively close to the Games Workshop colour schemes on the Bloody Reaver. The main exceptions were painting the tops of the towers and other sections as rust. The shapes of the battlements on the castle walls were so reminiscent of the gates of Mordor, I decided to assume that they were made of cast iron that had been exposed to the corrosive sea air and paint them accordingly.
The colours of the sunken ships differ as well. I like to think that the rear ship on the Port side was a Bretonnian galleon.The Red empire frigate to the fore of it has had its brass finery corrode into verdigris. Finally, a ruined piece of boat next to the main ship got painted to look like a North Sea oil rig lifeboat.
 Poor Bretonnians and Empire
And roughnecks.

The flaming scimitar was again painted in a fairly stock manner. I left the sails a little darker than I intended when I realised that I was having huge amounts of trouble painting a decent flat layer of a light colour over them. After a narrow scrape with bleached bone, I left them the ochre colour. It spoils the overall look a little and it’s a shame that I didn’t quite pull it off.



What I’ve learnt

 1. Undercoating with white is brilliant! I undercoated the scimitar with white and the white coat did a large chunk of my highlighting for me! Painting a watered down colour over the white allows the white edges to shine through in a really nice way.

 2. I’m really not good at doing areas of flat, pale colour. Partly this is because I so seldom need to – Orks and Skaven are so filthy and dark that it hasn’t been a problem for me for ages

3. Watering paints down is essential for good painting. I probably already knew this, but having to do loads of flat colour areas and highlighting work like the wave crests really re-enforced this for me.

4. As far as career choices go: I’m not going to be a commission painter. This project has taken me ages and I’m getting a bottle of grog for it. I could not live off this grog for the next three weeks whilst I paint something else. Also, I’ve been getting incredibly frustrated because I haven’t had the time to work on my own rats, Orks, tanks and Ork-rat-tank-hybrid-walker-machines whilst painting the ships.

So adieu, and I’ll post again in a bit when I’ve done something new or thought of a new way to talk about something old.


 I do not hold myself to be any sort of painting role model. My Jedi brush skills are middling at best and constructive criticism is appreciated. Saying “Lolz, dat iz da wurstest paint work I’z eva seen, innit” is not.  

Nevertheless, I thought I’d share the finished product with you (my adoring audience) before the ships sail away to blue pillow cases new.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Bring out yer Bunkers

First up, a mild apology (because I’m only mildly sorry): I’m a bit late with this post. Lately I’ve been aiming for one of us Beard Bunkerettes to get something up every Monday (that way we’ve had the weekend to do hobby stuff, and thus, something to write about the next day). Welp, I’ve been busy finishing the first draft of my novel. Hurrah! ...but this has prevented me doing much in the way of hobby. Boo!

So without further ado, I’m going to take a leaf out of Jervis Johnson’s book. He once wrote a Standard Bearer column in which he advocated the joys of thinking carefully about the layout of the scenery on your table so that it makes narrative sense.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, think back to going into your friendly local gaming store, or gaming club, or wherever. People often game on scenery that’s been randomly but evenly distributed around the board, as if the planet they’re on was created by a god with geographical Tourette’s.

Genuinely, I think people who lay their scenery out like this are robbing themselves of a measure of fun. We invest so much effort into making our models look good, but scenery often plays second fiddle. Now I don’t know about you, but I find a good setting often makes a story come alive, and even someone with well-painted scenery can still trip spectacularly over the last hurdle.

If you’re still not sure what I mean by Geographical Tourette’s, I’m talking about this:

Conversely, if I take exactly the same pieces of scenery and think about how they might relate to each other, I end up with this:

OK, fine, so I added some crates and barrels. The outpost needed to look a little more homey. I’m tho houtheproud.

A less uniform distribution of scenery like this might have an effect on game balance, but personally, I couldn’t care less. It’s so much more evocative that, frankly, whatever. On more than one occasion, my opponent and I have set up the table first and decided on a scenario afterwards.

Whenever laying pieces of scenery out, I always consider their relation to each other. The hazard sign on the moonscape/burned-out Rhino is facing the outpost, warning Imperial soldiers to stay away. The Aquila Lander broke its back on the crest of the hill. The Ork buggy was speeding around the perimeter when it got flung on its side by the defenders’ guns, hence being parallel with the defence line. All the autocannons are facing the same way, as if still facing in the direction of their last target. There are places for sentries at the outpost’s entrance. The cargo is all next to the landing pad for easier loading/unloading. Despite the, er, lack of crane (I always did wonder about the practicality of the Aquila Landing Pad... pff, whatever, it looks cool).

As an aside, Maisey almost gave himself post-traumatic stress disorder after painting the entire landing pad in Jeffrust. Good times.

Anyway, I’m off to paint more Trukks. And maybe some Grey Knights. Ooh, or some Imperial Guard. And some Empire, I haven’t poked them for a while. And... oh, bum grapes.


Monday, 13 August 2012

(Sometimes) I have to concentrate

I've had a massive mid-year attack of the Butterfly Brain (Jeff Explains BBA) and haven't actually managed to finish anything worth sharing with you fine people.

I've been been like the fussy eater at the wedding buffet of hobby. Picking at a few things here and there. The first couple of units of a Dark Angel army. The dusting off and base coating of a squad of my Imperial Guard army. Several aborted attempts at finding Vampire character models I actually like and fit with the back story. A scenery project of the garden of Moor to go with the Vampire Counts. A third Imperial Guard army that never made it past the concept stage after I really couldn't decide on a camo scheme for them.

Then a few weeks ago I added another dollop of potato salad to my already overflowing, yet relatively untouched paper hobby plate. An evil and spiky dollop of potato salad.

Captain Slicey

Yes, that's right, I've been seduced by the Dark Gods' promises of chives and bacon bits (I'll let the buffet metaphor drop in the next paragraph, I promise) and joined the ranks of the ruinous powers.

Well I say that, what actually happened was that Em and I decided that it might be fun if we got each other model that we wanted to see the other paint. I went for Ajrac Rockfist for Em as she has a thing for big, hairy, viking types welding huge hammers and if you ask her nicely she might blog about her experience of painting him (Hint Hint!). Em settled on getting me the plastic Chaos Terminator Lord kit, which has more options than a well-stocked buffet (OK, I lied, but I'm trying to get into mind set of an evil chaos lord).

The kit gives you so many building options and contains a plethora of sharp pointy things to make a wondrously evil looking character. Not being a fan of the wildly over-the-top super-villain school of evil doer I went for an understated yet hulking form of badassery. Plus I love the steam-punk lighting claws and all their exposed working bits.

When it came to the colour scheme I spent ages agonising over how I was going to paint Captain Slicey here (I really need to work on my character naming system). I promised myself I wasn't going to have black chaos marines, I wanted something a little more original. I mean, everyone has bad guys dressed in black. It was tempting to go down the fully ruined path and have him corroded to heck and back again, but I was a little bored of the rusty metal and wanted to save the last reserves of that particular hobby juice for my undead. There was literally hundreds of possible paint schemes running through my brain meats. The solution was to sit back and try and think about what I think a servant of chaos should be. In my mind a Chaos Marine should be a towering, ancient, baroque manifestation of anger, pain, fear and aggression. Then once that was clear in my head, then the bronze and deep red just popped into my head and that was it. The scheme was settled. 

 Now, as anyone who knows me even slightly will be aware, I can get very excited about random things like this and I've already started planning, plotting and possibly even scheming about where to take this next. The first step was a simple one. What does an evil overlord of doom need? Henchmen!

We're henchmen!

So where am I going after I finish his bodyguard? Well, I've been having great joy imagining Captain Slicey and his core of Marine followers at the head of a mass of traitor guard/rebel militia. With the new allies rules this is now a very valid option. Now just need to figure out how ramshackle/fanatical his human followers should be and how many tanks I can legitimately stuff into one list.

In the mean time I will finish another squad of Dark Angels and maybe a Vampire character.


Monday, 6 August 2012

Hi ho, Hi ho, a Slaying we will go...

Greetings fellow beardlings, Jeff here. I am aware that I haven't been around the bunker for a little while but moving house does rather knock the personal hobby on the head! As a result I am delighted to present the first models of my brand spanky new Dwarf army!

Yup, the first models I paint for this army are a special choice, go figure! Truth is I love Slayers, even back when they really, really sucked. They just embody the fatalistic stubborness of the Dwarf character. For those who are not familiar with Dwarven backstory, a Trollslayer is a Dwarf who has suffered some great personal shame or committed some unforgivable crime or breach of protocol. They sing their death song, dye and shave their hair and beards into tallow stiffened crests and walk into the world. To all extents and purposes their life has ended and their kin mourn as such. They now seek out the largest and most potent monsters to face in battle. They do this to find peace in death. No Dwarf would kill himself but equally it would be an almost greater shame to fight to loose. As a result the most - or least, in a way - successful slayers kill their targets and move on to bigger prey. As a result there are ranks of Slayers, Trollslayers, Giantslayers, Dragonslayers and Daemonslayers.

See what I mean? Cool huh? Culturally the Dwarfs operate somewhere between a Japanese shame culture and Russian fatalism with a heavy dose of Saxon/Celtic imagery thrown in. These are also the first models entirely painted with the new paint range so lets check them out.

First impressions of the new paints are really positive, I just love how they make the metallics look. The flesh tone starts at Bugman's Glow - appropriately enough - and really is the first ruddy flesh tone that GW have got right.

The hair is highlighted from Jokaero Orange through the appropriately named Troll Slayer Orange and Fire Dragon Bright up to Kindleflame - the new Dry compounds are very effective. I finally glazed the whole thing with Fuegan Orange. Makes a nice believable dyed orange rather than the radioactive oranges we used to work with!

Barak Varr is the Dwarven sea port and where my army hails from. Thus all of the cloth and gems are going a turquoise-y blue-green to resemble the sea. This chap is clearly a rich and successful Slayer as sheer number of palm sized turquoises seems to suggest! Slayers tend to wear their wealth and have few needs beyond food, weapons and copious quantities of booze.

My slayers are a mix of the modern and the elderly, I have been collecting Dwarfs on an off for twenty-three (Christ) years. As a result I have a fair few Dwarfs knocking about. At a guess, painted and unpainted about ten thousand points. Until recently though I haven't been playing them as my previous 10 year old painted army was no longer of a high enough quality to grace my table. Hence the new army! The army is being made from my favourite Dwarf models from the last 20 years of Citadel sculpting.

Always loved this guy, he's clearly a new slayer, the stubbly regrown beard and short crest, the mournful look in his eyes. He exemplifies the new minted slayer, still smarting from his loss, the more senior ones gain a veneer of cynical fatalism and confidence that gives them a bit more swagger.

All the Slayers - indeed all the dwarfs - are covered in little characterful details that really make this army. Here, the little clay pipe and baccy pouch are an example, plus I can show off what a quick drybrush of Longbeard Grey does for the stubble on his head.

All in all, a promising start for my little Dwarf-y chaps. As has become normal for my army projects I've made a workometer and here is the Dwarf one:

Looks kinda empty of red doesn't it? Should be a nice fast transition though. Until next time folks...