Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Workspace: Setting up your painting area

Miniature painting, wargaming, roleplaying
We all work in different ways, and often not in the way we would prefer.  Personally i'd like a much bigger desk and i'd like to be able to leave it all set up all the time.

But that's just not going to happen. When you share your painting space with a wife, a couple of kids and a really inappropriately curious cat that's not always possible.  I thought it would be interesting to show how I use the space I have and some of the tools and tricks that make it work for me.

First is my computer. I find its such a huge benefit when painting to be able to see how someone else approached a paint job, to watch a quick video guide on blending or basing techniques or to have reference photos like Lizards when your painting dragons.  One tip though is not to make a habit of putting any paints or liquids on your computer desk if you can avoid it.   

Miniature painting, wargaming, roleplayingNext I have my painting table, the observant amongst you may have noticed its on wheels.  That's so when the In-Laws come round I can wheel it out of the way and act like a grown up.  It also means I can paint in the living room while the Mrs watches TV without making it look like a students bedsit 24/7.

On my painting desk I have the usual collection of figures that are finished, about to be started or are currently being worked on.  I find I work better if I concentrate on 3-4 miniatures at a time, it saves having to wait ages for each stage to dry and with the deadlines i'm setting myself for completion it means I can be pretty productive.

I try and keep my painting area very tidy, horrible disasters with spilt acrylic have taught me that a tidy desk is a safety feature I can't do without.  I've got a collection of swiss files (very small), craft knives and probably too many brushes.  I like to use a size 0 or size 1 for base coats and large areas, a size 00 for most things and a size 000 for really close detail work.  You can get smaller but my eyesight isn't good enough anymore to make it worthwhile.

Now there is something missing on my table which would really help me and my terrible eyesight.  I'm waiting for a new angle poise magnifying lamp as I stupidly broke mine recently.  I can't stress highly enough how useful these are to the aging painter!

I'll talk about paint and brushes next time. 

New Commandos painted, Inspiration and taking Tabletop to the next level

Weird War II, Miniature painting, wargaming, roleplaying
Artizan S.A.S (Europe)
Well the first four Commandos are done.  I'll need at least two more for the group though as i'll have six players for the game.  

With fantasy figures the colour choices are always down to your imagination and choice, but with a semi historic game it's always best to find some guidance online.  

For these figures I used a photo of some SAS Re-enactors.  The advantage is that re-enactors are pretty strict about getting things right and the photo is in colour (not easy to find real colour  photos of WW2 SAS uniforms you see!)

Some very well turned out Re-enactors
We're also going to break our usual routine and instead of our usual 7pm - 10pm playing slot we're going to go for a longer afternoon into evening session.

The main reason for this is that one of our friends, Roy, will be travelling an hour to get to us (thats dedication!) and it makes sense to make the session longer so his trip isn't wasted.

Roy's approach to DMing has influenced mine greatly.  He puts a lot of effort and planning into his preperation which I didn't used to do but now can't imagine doing it any other way.  The difference between a standard adventure and one with background music, special sound effects, miniatures and props is really significant and its really not hard to achieve.

Imagine these two examples:

1. Six players are sat around the table in a brightly lit room. Some are eating snacks and there's a conversation going on between two of the players about something unconnected with the game. 

2. Six players are sat around the table lit only by flickering candlelight.  Sinister sounding music plays in the background just loud enough to be heard and the sounds of wind blowing through trees can be heard. 

For my Weird War II game i'm working on the figures but i've also prepared the sound track i'll be using, some WWII style playing cards (Savage Worlds uses them to determine initiative) and some spent brass bullet cartridges to use as Bennies.  Theres still more to do, i'd really like to print out ID cards for each player and period character photos for each player and I need to think about what background ambient noises would add to the atmosphere.

I'll update with more of my evil plans soon.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures

Dungeons & Dragons, D&D, Wargaming, Roleplaying, miniatures
Dungeons & Dragons, D&D, Wargaming, Roleplaying, miniatures
Games Workshop Griffin Rider

I've been concentrating on preparing figures for my next game, a Weird War II adventure using ther Savage Worlds system.  But i've painted quite a few figures for our Dungeons & Dragons games.  Using figures just makes life so much easier for everyone and helps to focus our imagination.

Dungeons & Dragons, D&D, Wargaming, Roleplaying, miniatures
Games Workshop Griffin Rider
The first figure i'm going to share is my Paladin mounted on his trusty Griffin. I was particularly pleased with how well this came out.  I'm not the best painter in the world by a very wide margin, but I enjoy it and like what I produce.  I won't win any competitions but the standard I can manage is perfectly fine for a table top game between friends.
Dungeons & Dragons, D&D, Wargaming, Roleplaying, miniatures
For main player characters and big nasty Non Player Characters (especially recurring Nemesis types) I generally prefer good quality figures from Reaper Miniatures or Hasslefree.

However, there a huge number of good miniature makers out there and i'd encourage you to try some of the smaller companies like Crooked Dice Games Studios and anything at all from Foundry Miniatures Fantasy ranges which includes everything from Elves, Knights, Orcs, 2000AD characters and the excellent Street Violence range.

As is usual when preparing figures for a tabletop game, your probably going to spend a lot more time on the player characters than on the poor unfortunate grunts they're going to be beating up.  Which is a good thing because you'll probably need a lot of grunts.  I've painted loads of Orcs, Dwarves, Humans and Dark Elves for our games and I feel its important that they look good without taking so much time that they're not ready when you need them.

Dungeons & Dragons, D&D, Wargaming, Roleplaying, miniatures
I really like Mantic for the rank & file NPCs, you just get so much for your money.  For £20 you can often get up to 30 figures and the quality is very good.  Admittedly the range of poses is limited but its never bothered us in our games so far.
Dungeons & Dragons, D&D, Wargaming, Roleplaying, miniatures
Another good place to get large numbers of figures is of course Ebay.  I picked up a job lot of Lord of the Rings Orcs and Rohirrim which i've painted in a more Dungeons and Dragons style.  Cheap well sculpted figures that fill up your GM's dungeon nicely but don't break the bank.

I suspect this blog is read by me and me alone, but it serves its purpose to remind me of my progress and achievements.  If anyone else stumbles over it and gets some enjoyment or inspiration then that's a bonus!

Brains....Brains....:Nazi Zombies on the Rampage

Dungeons & Dragons, D&D, Wargaming, Roleplaying, miniatures

Ok so i've decided on which Zombies to use.  I've got some Mantic Ghouls I painted for our D&D adventures which will work really well as French villager zombies and i've ordered some additional Zombie Nazi's from West Wind.

I'm looking forward to painting those as they look really detailed and Zombies are always fun to paint.

 I also have 3 Mantic Zombies given to me for free by the owner of Krackers (the same game shop where it all started nearly 3 decades ago!).

Once they're all painted i'll have a horde of over 30 of the things to chase the players around with.  Add these to the dozen German soldiers and i've got plenty of opposition to throw at them.

Heroclix Hulk

I've also picked out this Heroclix Hulk I repainted as an Ogre for the same D&D game.

It'll work really well (in fact much better) as the transformed Dr Klomp. 

I've nearly finished the SAS (European) figures that will represent the players, then I need to paint the Resistance.  By the time i'm done with those the West Wind Zombies should have arrived.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Weird War II

Weird War, Wargaming, Roleplaying, miniatures
Artizan German Infantry
I finished the German troops the other night, they came out quite nicely although I have to admit my current style of washing rather than blending or layering isn't working out that well.  Its much faster than blending or layering but just isn't really giving me the finish on organics that I want.  Its great for a gritty, dirty, war torn suit of armour but just doesn't do faces justice.

Artizan S.A.S. (Europe)
I got started on with the British SAS team that will be used to represent the players, this photo is with the base coats applied and an initial wash on the uniforms.  Highlighting, faces and bases still to do.  The faces on these Artizan sculpts are really nice with lots of character, especially the two on the right.  I'll have to experiment with how to paint the glasses though as I don't think i've done clear ones before and i'm not entirely sure how to go about it.

Weird War, Wargaming, Roleplaying, miniatures
Artizan Dr. Klomp
Finally, I also finished the evil scientist I needed.  The finish on the figures is a bit grainy which I suspect is due to elderly Games Workshop primer but he came out really nicely.  I kept the face quite pale and the colours very muted so the violent green of the syringe would dominate.

Its really hot here at the moment so the paint is drying a bit quickly, waiting till the evening to paint solves tht problem but then the light isn't so good.  I'm waiting for a magnifying lamp to arrive (which i've wanted for  awhile) which will also help with my less than perfect eyesight 8)

Friday, 20 July 2012

Work in Progress

I started on the first 12 Germans for my Weird War 2 game last night and got along pretty well.  Most of the basics are done with faces & bases still to do.  I want to do some retouching on the uniforms too but we'll see how much time I have.  Still lots more figures to paint if i'm going to run this game!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Hmm I love the smell of Primer in the mornings..smells like victory!

So finally my miniatures arrived from Artizan and Ebay.  No complaints though as they let me know there would be a delay.

First observations are that the detail is really good but the flash is pretty heavy too.  Hopefully if the weather is ok tomorrow i'll prime them after work.  I use white primer, not the choice most painters use but I just find the colours come out better and i'm used to it I suppose.

Here are a few pictures with some cheap vehicles I bought as set dressing for the adventure.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Weird War II Project

I've decided that I want to write and run a Weird War II game.  I'm about half way through writing it so kind of know what miniatures i'll need.  I'll put up pics when they arrive from Artizan.

The Heroes
Our RP group hasn't really touched WW2, we've done a lot of mainstream games, but i'd like to try something a bit more unusual and couldn't really decide between a Captain Scarlet/Spectrum game, a Pulp inspired Call of Cthulhu game or WW2 with a supernatural twist. 

Some of the German Soldiers i've ordered
The Spectrum idea is cool but the figures are quite limited in their poses so I don't think they'll be as fun to paint as they look.  I do want to do the Cthulhu game but our current game is pretty similar so its WW2 afterall!

While I wait for the Artizan figures to arrive I need to find some Nazi Zombies.  I really like the look used in Dead Snow and at the moment West Wind look like the right models.

Here we go!

I've been an amateur painter of figures since I caught the bug at my local Games Shop when I was 15.  I was drawn in by stink bombs, fake poo and video games (back when Space Invaders was new) and bought a figure to try painting.  I was hooked and played Games Workshops Warhammer games and painted quite a lot of figures.

27 years later and after numerous breaks i've got back into painting but for a different purpose.  Our long running sunday night roleplaying group has started using miniatures and its a real improvement for us.  Being able to visualise the same scenes as the GM is really usefull and helps us to enjoy the action more.

So why this Blog?  I wanted somewhere to record my progress on each painting project I start.  I also wanted to share my tabletop miniature's experiences with others as I found it quite hard to find any similar sites.

So if I get one reader other than myself i'll be happy.

A conversion I made a long long time ago!