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: