Thursday, 17 August 2017

Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

So… I’m back.

"Its been a while. What the hell’s going on? We thought you'd died in a freak cheese grater accident?"

Well. I’ve had a couple of things eating into my hobby time of late.

I’ve been busy with this:
Project House: A hole in the air into which you pour effort and money.
And he hasn't helped much:

Also, I’ve been helping to make this:

And this:

Whilst trying to keep the workforce from getting the weird and horrific sort of industrial diseases that you've only read about in a Victorian medical almanac. 

" So, on the hobby front… What have you been doing for the last two years?"

Well, not much. I've been at an almost terminally low hobby ebb.

Until very recently, 40K was still suffering under a bloated, moronic rule-set and GW merrily derped the well-developed and compelling Warhammer universe out of existence and replaced it with ‘Adventures in magic land for 4 year olds'. See Here for details.

It didn’t help that until recently, most of my hobby stuff was packed up and in storage whilst our hovel house was being ripped apart and rebuilt.

I did manage to make this though:
Squeak, Squeak, Zzap Splat.
And this:
Er, it's a shed. Captions fail me.
During this time, and having very little interest in GW, I started reading about historical scale modelling. In fairness, my interest in this started about a decade ago when Imperial Armour Model Masterclass Vol. 1 came out, which was the first time I’d ever read about how to achieve realistic armour, damage and weathering effects on models and seen just how ‘true to life’ scale models could be made to look.
Available from all good Forgeworlds.
IAMMV1(as no-one calls it) was a real inspiration to me and based on that book I did my best to incorporate weathering and armour effects into my vehicle (Ork) painting with mixed results. See Here for mixed results.

I was always a bit hampered in these efforts by my lack of an airbrush – a tool vital for carrying out many of the techniques in the book. Fortunately, I now have one.

Whilst cyber stalking researching Phil Stutcinskas’ historical armour work on line, I came across another modeler referencing his work. This guy was Mike Rinaldi and is the author of the frankly excellent ‘Tank Art’ Series of books. I think these books are excellent for a couple of reasons: Firstly, they set out painting, damage and weathering techniques in a logical order and they explain why techniques work as well as how to do them. Finally, he is a phenomenally talented painter and his models look magnificent.

Mike Rinaldi's books are available Here. They can be tricky to track down if they're out of print.

And it might have ended there if I hadn't been scouting for stuff in a local Hobbycraft, when this caught my eye:
Schneller Pussycat, Töten! Töten!
I chose a Panther because
- It was there
- There's something about German WW2 tanks that just looks so... BrÜtal.

Fifteen pounds lighter and I walked away with a 1:35 Panther tank, to which I added a metal turned barrel, Friul model tracks and drive wheels and brass etch engine port covers. (I also bought some side skirts, but these turned out to be incompatible with the Tamiya Panther A kit – Always check before you buy kiddies.)

As usual, I haven’t taken enough step by step photos for this to be in any way ‘tutorial-esque’. But in a vague order this is what I did:

I Built It!

I built the thing (including the tracks*) with some glue. Whilst doing this, I used plastic glue to soften the plastic and a dental tool to better define the flame cut edges of slabs at armour joints.

I also thought that too much track makes for a dull tank, so I scratch built a little rack for transporting water on the side of the hull because of a dodgy radiator and a drinking problem**.

I sprayed colours at it!

I then sprayed the entire tank a red brown. This is to represent the factory applied primer (red lead***) that will poke through where the paint work is damaged. Over this, I applied a hair spray layer, a layer of base yellow another hair spray layer and the green camouflage pattern over the top. The reason for the hairspray is that it allows you to realistically chip the paint off the tank, making it look like wear and tear and battle damage. For more information about what and why the hairspray technique is, there is a tutorial Hea-Yaaaar!

With the picture below, I've tried to show the effect, and where green has been removed to show yellow and yellow removed to display the underlying red lead primer.

Chipping close up - a lesser known part of the Cotswolds. 

Once I’d finished chipping, I gave the whole thing a gloss spray coat with Vallejo gloss varnish. This helps to prevent any further (unwanted) chipping from occurring and gives a much better surface for both pin washes and oil paint rendering.

I Oil Paint Rendered it!

"You did what to it?"

Oil paint rendering is a process invented (or at least described) by Mike Rinaldi of blending oil paint over acrylic layers in order to modulate the look of the underlying colour.

This can portray faded paint, staining, dust, water run-off and the effects of heat. Most importantly, oil paint rendering adds definition to what might otherwise be flat, featureless areas of the model.

It’s something I’d been itching to try for a while as it can look amazing and can give real weight to a model. So I did

Whilst my results weren’t entirely what I’d hoped for – partly because some of the oil colours I picked weren’t quite right - I do think it helps to give the tank’s paint an exposed and faded look.

As an example, the image below shows the front deck plate (and glacis and side plates) that has been oil paint rendered against the engine deck plate that hasn’t.

The colours on the engine plate appear deeper and more vibrant, whereas the colours everywhere else appear faded, washed out and dustier – which is what the intention was.

The problem of showing subtle effects with shonky photography.
Further detail on oil paint rendering, written by someone far better at it than I am, can be found here: Oil Paint Rendering Explanation

I Made it Look Muddy!

I wanted to give the tank a proper ‘been churning through Kursk mud’ look, and that was going to involve a lot of weathering powder.

The muddiest areas of the tank would be the wheels and the hull sides, which would get caked in mud if carrying out much off road driving.

Boss, I done got the war tractur stuck. (Courtesy of Youtube) 

To achieve a spattered mud effect on the side suspension plates I brush applied a mixture of weathering powders of varying colours on the side and then fixed them in place with a mixture of AK pigment fixer and white spirit.

Caution. Pigment fixer is really persistent and sticky**** - don’t spill it.

Caution: sticky.
When using weathering powder, I think its important to use different shades so that you get a variation of tone: too much of one colour can make heavy mud effects look strangely monotone – like the tank’s been driving round a cement factory.

If you want mud... You got it. 

I wanted to emulate mud splash on the side plates in proximity to the tracks, and for this I mixed weathering powder with white spirit and pigment fixer to make a sticky goo, which I then loaded onto a brush and flicked onto certain parts of the rear of the tank.

Another caution, this is really, really not good at all for your brushes, so don’t do this with brand new W&N 7s.

Not a happy brush.
I’ll leave this here for now as this has already been a long and arduous post.

I’ll show the completed tank and talk about the project as a whole next week. but I'll leave this here as a sneak peak:

Until next time, auf wiedershen.

*If you can find a hobby related activity more tedious than cleaning up and assembling Friulmodel track links (192 of them), congratulations, you must be having an awful lack of fun.

*(* I made this bit up. I've no idea how realistic this scenario may have been, but I just wanted to stick water cans on the side instead of more spare track.

*** Still does, only now they use a non lead based paint called red oxide.

**** I live with a 2 year old - I am a connoisseur of sticky.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Deathwatch mission: the Fall of Kursanov Prime

Charlie: This is the final post about the Deathwatch scenario I GMd recently. This time I’m going over the scenario concept itself, accompanied with in-fiction snippets and photos from the day. The concept is simple enough that you could probably adapt it for a themed 40k skirmish; we were playing it as an RPG using our in-house ruleset.

The first thing the players got was the briefing. This came weeks before the mission itself, so they had time to choose their marine’s gear (and make a model if necessary; Andy rather wisely magnetised his marine’s arms so that he could swap out the weapons in future scenarios).

This is going to be a hefty post with a fair few photos and fat chunks of screed, so if you're down for that, hit the jump.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Three week genestealer cult part 4: the results

Stealers up inside yerrrr, findin an entrance where they can.

Charlie: Now that the dust from Saturday's game has settled, I can reveal whether or not I did indeed succeed at batch painting a genestealer cult in three weeks, particularly since the models are no longer swathed in a blanket of secrecy. The answer...?

Hell yeah.

Now I should couch this triumphal tone in reminding y'all that I had help. Andy joined me for a ten-hour painting binge in the run-up to Saturday's game, and on the Friday night Jeff spent a few quality hours on the magus so that I could scamper upstairs and spew out stat lines (we're using the RPG engine we developed, which of course means rules for 40k characters only exist if we write them!).

After all these posts, I'd be remiss if I didn't provide a photo of everything that got painted over the last three weeks, so here it is:

Much as I can't claim any of these are masterpieces, I am satisfied that they look solid on the tabletop, and this has been the most concentrated dose of painting I've had for years. Possibly since I was working in the FLGS, which was... yeesh, about six years ago. Hobby whiplash much?

Since I posted about it in a previous episode, the goliath has gained some crew.

Inevitably there were some flies in the ointment, among which were the fact that following the exact same sequence of paints on both the goliath and the cultist's armour resulted in different shades of yellow - largely because of the black grime wash the models got, and a difference in primer colours - almost all the models were sprayed with Mournfang Brown, whereas the truck was sprayed with Averland Sunset.

This seems like as good a time as any to sing the praises of Mournfang Brown spray. It's not advertised as a primer spray, but as a basecoating spray. I confess I sprayed it directly onto the plastic without a primer, and it worked ok, but produced a slightly chalky texture that probably wouldn't have happened if the models had also been primed. This generally wasn't a problem, although the magus was the most pronounced victim. Basically, don't cut corners with your character models. Or at all, if you have more pride than me.

Jeff painted this! Well, Andy and I did the basecoats,
but basically, Jeff painted this. Notice the bobbly
texture on the staff from my primer sins.

Technical whoopsies notwithstanding, the advantage of a brown basecoat is that the transparency of most paints is mitigated by having a midtone beneath them, and if you miss a few bits, it just makes the cloth look dirty and the metal look rusty. Ideal for batches of grungy troops.

Basecoats were slapped over the brown undercoat, starting with the messiest (the metal drybrush) and finishing with the tidiest (the yellow). The cultists don't have a uniform, so a variety of colours were used. Once fabric, metal and rubber areas were all basecoated, the whole model got a wash made of thinned black paint, which provides more low-lighting and a more matte effect than GW's nuln oil. I used Army Painter's black paint, since it tolerates being thinned out quite well.

Once the wash has dried, the metal areas were given a light silver overbrush to give contrast, the fabric was highlighted by using the same colours used for the basecoats, and the flesh was painted.

Skin tones
I wanted the cult to have a variety of skin tones present, but I also didn't have time for infinite variety so I stuck to three different tones. All three tones follow the same method: basecoat, wash, highlight with basecoat colour. Here's what the three skin tones look like:

So the sequences go thusly:
  • Pale skin: basecoat cadian fleshtone, wash reikland fleshshade, highlight cadian fleshtone
  • Brown skin: basecoat gorthor brown, wash agrax earthshade, highlight gorthor brown
  • Dark skin: basecoat rhinox hide, wash black, highlight rhinox hide
With the skin painted, any models with long hybrid tongues got Blood for the Blood God on them. Everyone then got a thin dark blue wash about the eye sockets and bugman's glow on their lower lips, plus bone for the teeth and white/black for the eyes.With darker skin tones I find eyes and lips to be completely un-skippable, even though I was going for speed. The second generation hybrids also got a thin wash of red gore around the back of their craniums to give an added hint of alien weirdness, although it's hard to tell from my sub-standard photography.

PDF reinforcements
One of the secrets to keep was the presence of some military cultists. I painted some neophyte guardsmen up in the same colours as my platoon of mechanised infantry, then sprinkled them among squads of guardsmen to temporarily convert my whole guard army into a big, tank-filled problem for the kill team.

The acolytes were painted to have the same insectoid brown-black carapace as the genestealers. This is an extremely simple method that's hard to photograph, but basically, bone is drybrushed over the brown basecoat, then the whole area gets a wash of undiluted black ink (specifically ink, normal washes don't have the coverage for this). Tongues and sinew are spared the ink, instead painted with blood for the blood god.

Purestrain genestealers
Finally, we come to the stealers. My hope was to hint at the xenomorph from the Alien franchise, hence the slightly brown-black coloration. They were given the same treatment as the acolytes above, so were extremely quick to paint, and rather satisfying. They also scared the the everloving quiffle out of the players, except Maisey, whose Dark Angel was a member of the Deathwing and took such problems in his stride. That said, he looked about as unhappy as everyone else when the Patriarch showed up.

As with any light sources on a model, the lamp on the patriarch's base was painted white then got a thinned-down layer of the old Red Gore so that it was brighter than everything around it. The surrounding area, including bits of the patriarch, were drybrushed with Red Gore for a quick half-arsed OSL effort.

In case you're wondering, I also sculpted some alien goo onto the patriarch's base to help blend it into the Sector Mechanicum base I'd plonked him on. Said goo was then painted gloss black because grimdark and... shiny.

I also have to give a fan-squee shout out to the sculptor of the patriarch. None of the players had seen that model in the flesh when it was put down on the table, and they all came close to peeing themselves. It is one of the most imposing minis I've seen for a while, and a large part of that is its menacing pose. Well played Mr Sculptor, well played.

That's it for the three week cult! Hopefully it's been at least somewhat amusing. If there's some element of the painting you have questions about, such as "why would any sane man paint all those cultists in one giant batch?" or "why aren't the genestealers blue and purple you heretic?" then ask away in the comments.

I'll be back soon with photos Jon (and others) took of the day itself, with all the scenery and marines and the Storm Eagle thwooshing overhead.