Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Devlaholics Anonymous

Things I have done with Devlan Mud

Sitting there, looking at a pile of 56 unpainted Skaven slaves; I'm thinking

“I'm going to cherish and value each and every one of you and give you a paintjob fit for a prince of Slaneesh”.

2 rats in, the base coats are going on with a drybrush and I'm thinking

“I want to get shot of you as quickly as possible and you’re going to get a paintjob fit for the dirty, useless, and expendable, 2 point shod that you are.”

The redemption for these very poorly painted models was that they’d get a lovely coating of Citadel Devlan mud wash once the base colours were on and dry.

Devlan Mud was splendid! It hid where I’d gone over the lines, did some shading, added definition to the model and even filled in the crevices - a la the old technique of black lining. It made everything look dirty and shonky and gave the illusion that I was a competent painter. It was my staple diet for rat painting and I thrived upon it.

I'm special too!

Then something happened… Something awful… It became referred to as the Devocalypse - Citadel stopped making Devlan mud.

Initially, it didn’t seem too bad - I had a small stockpile and they said that they’d replaced it with another wash: a material called Agrax Earthshade. It didn’t bother me for a while, and I kept on using my stockpile of Devlan Mud.

I was down to my last two pots of Devy and I thought “I’d better give this ‘Ajax Earthshade’ a go - see what it’s like”.
And I did, and I looked upon what this ‘Ajax Earthspade’ had done. And I was not pleased.

Where Devy had stunk of epic win, ‘Ajax Earspade’ had the sweat smell of rotting fail all over it - it didn’t hide my sloppy brushwork; it wasn't as good at shading; it didn't add decent definition and it didn't fill the crevices. In fact it did the opposite - it acted more like an overall tone to the model.
It had an added disadvantage: my rats were coming out shiny. My rats were becoming like Skaven from the Twilight films - sparkly… Real Skaven don’t twinkle!

Clearly, ‘Amtrak Earspade’ was neither going to cut the mustard, nor sizzle the sausages. I had to find a replacement for this delinquent chemical monstrosity tout bloody suite!

So I tried some replacements and this is what I found (in a handy table).

Devlan Mud
Agrax Earthshade
Umber / Black shade mix
Strong Tone
Who makes it
No-one L
G Dubz
Army Painter
The Good
The original and best. Hides sloppy edges, shades and defines. Good for rusty metal.
Consistent results

You can still buy it?
Provides good shading. Not glossy.
Comes in cool dropper bottles
Nearly as good as Devlan Mud.
Fills in the crevices without blackening the model.
Comes in cool dropper bottles
The Bad
Smells a bit (not really a problem for me).
Allegedly slightly water soluble once dry.
Has a redder tone than Devlan mud, so can’t be used as a direct replacement – which is a bit annoying if you want one half of your army to resemble the other half you painted before the Devocalypse. Not as ‘strong’. Seems to be lacking in ‘suspended solids’.
Very glossy – makes models shiny and plastic looking.
Doesn't seem to fill crevices but does stick to the flat surfaces.
Too high in suspended solids.
Flattens any highlighting and ‘blacks out’ some parts of the model.
Inconsistent results.
Neither colour wash is quite ‘right’ so mixing is necessary.
A bit shiny, but not as bad as Agrax.

The ugly
 You can't buy it any more. 

The only stockist I've found is an Essex company who take 6 weeks to post an order.

So to sum up. None of the replacements are perfect, but the one I've found that works best is Army Painter’s Strong Tone.

I'm in the middle of a rat binge at the moment but I'm gearing up to make more progress on the Blasta Bomma. Watch this space.

No. not this space, that other space.

Comments? Further silly names for Aardvark Enfilade? Criticism about the poor quality of the trial. Criticism about the poor quality of my posts? Comments box below. 

Sunday, 15 June 2014

You're Gonna Land On That?!

Good day fellow hobbyists.

Many moons ago during one of Charlie's scenery parties. Yes, that a party where we all get stuck into building and painting scenery, it's a really great way of getting a lot done in a short time and takes a lot of the tedium out of the process. Anyway, I had the honour(?) of painting a Skyshield landing pad. Whilst its a really good bit of kit, it's rather huge and I decided in my foolish youthfulness to paint the whole thing in the patented Jeff-Rust method (PVP Workbench tutorial: rusting). Well, doing that over the 500 square inches (I counted them!) of the surface it was definitely a labour of love.

Now, Em and I are building our very own urban board and I really wanted to have a Skyshield of my own. They make great objectives and general scenery piece. Since times and paints have changed, here is an updated step by step of getting the same/similar effects in new money.

Mobile users, this is going to be picture heavy.

First thing, Reference materiel. It's always a good idea to find real world examples of what you are aiming for. This is the man-hole cover in our back garden.

Right, primed and ready to rock.

Step One: Doom Bull Brown all over. Doesn't have to be the neatest paint job ever, just avoid huge streaky bits. 

Step Two: Whilst that huge thing is drying off (both sides) Get with the dry brushing of the concrete pillars. They don't have to be concrete, but I like the effect and it breaks up the brown. This is a simple Mechanicus Standard Grey followed by Dawnstone Grey. Then Doom Bull Brown on all the metal bits. 

Step Three: Dry brush everything that is metal with Leadbelcher. Be sure to give some areas a heavier dry brush than over to give the feel of uneven corrosion. Also, give some focus on the parts that will see more use than others. 

Step Four: Half dry brush and half stipple Riza Rust dry brush paint. The dry brush gives a soft variation to the colour and stippling gives a nice fresh rust feel. Going nusts at this stage will give you a really heavy rust. Lighter coverage will look less corroded. Just go with what feels right for you.

 Step Five (Optional): So this is where I started painting some of the surface details that I wanted to blend into the rusted metal. Hazard stripes are always a favourite and give things a lovely industrial feel. I started with a black back ground then roughly sketch the guides for the stripes. Some people fine it easier to mask things off, I dislike myself and decided to freehand the stripes.

Step Six: The wash. You can do this with Nuln Oil but, it's a huge area to cover and you'll get through a pot or so. I find it easier to simply water down Abaddon Black, with a touch of pva glue to hold it together. The heavier you make the wash the dark and dirtier your final finish will be.

Step Seven: Once that wash was dry (it takes a while) I set about doing the surface details that I didn't want covered in filth, so the white of the imperial eagles here. Also to note, I've not gone all the way up to the edges and left it rather rough. This is to give the impression of paint flaking off with wear and tear. 

aaaaaaand we're done! 

So, this was a little less painful than the last one I did and I think it turned out alright. We've still got more scenery to get though but I'll stick more photo's up once the rest have been done and set out on the board, if our dear readers are interested.

till then, take it easy!

Friday, 6 June 2014

A letter from the front

It’s been a long, long time since the last update on our Hochland campaign.

One of the reasons it’s been so long is that so much stuff has happened that it was hard to think of a format in which to deliver said events. Or at least, a format that wasn’t just a series of bullet points slightly drier than an octogenarian’s happy parts.

Finally it came to me: what better way than to write a letter from the perspective of the Empire’s new commander writing his first report back to Tussenhof?

Rikarht von Hess

But first, here’s an update of the campaign map:

I’ll sprinkle a few portraits of the characters mentioned in the letter as a reminder of who’s who.

For the attention of Aldebrand Ludenhof, Elector of Hochland

My lord,

Now I see why you delegated so much responsibility to Von RĂ¼diger. Our armies are engaged on so many fronts that it would be impossible to conduct the business of ruling the province at the same time. Admittedly, Von RĂ¼diger had one advantage over me: I very much doubt that vampires need to sleep. Speaking of which, have you heard anything of him since his disappearance?

Templar Grand Masters:
Sometimes they have dirty secrets

At the least, he has not returned to the chapter house in Bergsburg; the rest of the Inner Circle were kept there under house arrest for the better part of two months, scrutinised by priests of Shallya and Morr. They have now been released; my need of them was greater than my suspicion of them. I’ll explain that momentarily.

Speaking of people I don’t trust, Amelia von Lessing has returned to Hochland. Some of my captains are treating this as excellent news, but I am less than enthralled. Did you know, my lord, that she disappeared from Bergsburg because she was arrested? For arranging the murder of her father? I knew the man: one of Nordland’s finest generals. I don’t know the details of the case, but there can be no excuse for murder. That the judge let her off so lightly seems suspicious as well. I am of the understanding that amethyst wizards project their thoughts into the minds of others, and find it strange that she was not only spared the gallows, but allowed to pay off most of her jail time by selling her family’s estate to Nordland’s coffers. She might have helped us in the past, but I’ll be watching her movements closely all the same.

Amelia von Lessing

I said I’d explain why I needed the Silver Drakes. That need came from a new foe: a dwarf clan. Not the Stormbournes, who remain locked away in their mountain hold ignoring the slaughter around them, but some new clan, dabbling in sorcery and other, darker forces. They sent a great beast of fire and molten metal to break the walls of Fort Schippel. Von Lessing described it as a ‘K’Daai,’ whatever that is. It seemed impervious to conventional attacks, and it was only by the grace of Brother Marten’s blessings and von Lessing’s hexes that we slew the beast, and at great cost.

Seeing their creation banished, the dwarves were dismayed, and withdrew. We were in no condition to give pursuit, so great were our losses. The dwarves made captives of those who fled or fell in battle; what they want with them I do not know. If our other foes relent, we may effect a rescue.

Further east, the beastmen of the Drakwald Forest have grown in numbers, and are now venturing forth from the forest to attack us in the open for the first time in years.

Obviously, this makes further improvements to Fort Schippel critical. On that front I must relay yet more ill news. The brace of cannon you sent up with me – fresh from the new foundry in Tussenhof – were of inferior quality to those pressed in Nuln. I know this because we were ambushed by the Bittermoon goblins whilst transporting them to Schippel. Both barrels ruptured and exploded on their second shots. Humbly, I ask you for replacements of superior craftsmanship.

It is also of note that the goblins were, when we came upon each other, transporting freshly-felled lumber with the aid of a giant. What they are constructing, I am not sure, but with the beastmen and dwarves, we can no longer picket Rhagat’s lair in the Weiss Hills.

Worse, a new tribe of rat-men have been sighted in a number of places, but how they are moving such great distances unseen is a mystery to all. We may seek counsel with the Stormbournes, who seem to know more about these creatures.

The south, as you probably know, is still beset by a number of small Norse tribes, apparently united under the leadership of a man named ‘Volgin’. His finest warriors are protected from our handgunners’ reach by some foul magic, and engaging with them at arm’s reach would cost us too many men. If we are to drive them out, I must devise some new strategy.

In such dire times, one would hope the Elves would continue their efforts, and yet, nothing has been seen of them for several weeks. They seem to have disappeared into the western Drakwald.

But fear not, my lord. I will not falter in my duty. I will listen to my officers, I will safeguard the towns we have left, and I will take the fight to our enemies. We’ll not hide behind these crumbling walls anymore.


General Rikarht von Hess