Monday, 29 October 2012

Reaper Bones Purple Worm (Only its not purple)

Continuing my new obsession with Reaper's Bones line I decided to paint one without primer just to see how bad it would be.  Well i'm really pleased to tell you that its not, at all.   Not even a little bit.

Now a lot of people have painted this model and I can completely understand why.  Not only is it a beautifully detailed yet simple model, it lends itself to lots of different colour schemes.  Added to that it only costs £2 ($3) at the Reaper store.  

So as usual I did a bit of inspiration searching on the web and looked at all kinds of natural critters to get an idea of what I wanted to try.  My first thought was to do a translucent white/pink look like a real world intestinal worm but that grossed me out so much i'm not even going to put the picture up here.  I looked at Earthworms, Millipedes, Sandworms from Dune and Final Fantasy, the Sarlacc from Return of the Jedi and caterpillars but in the end I chose to go with the sandy version.

Now my idea was to paint the figure as if it relies on natural camouflage to blend in with just its mouth poking out of the earth and when something comes past....whoosh out it comes and strikes.  One of the things that that forced me to do was use a limited colour palette and for the base to tie in with the model.  I usually go for some contrast between the base and the model to help it 'pop' but in this case that wouldn't work so I went with a very dark red mouth and rather clean and bright teeth.

I also used some natural basing materials to help tie it in using the same colours.  During the summer I picked some wild grasses while on a walk and dried them out on the window sill, they work really well but are fragile so I only tend to use them on display bases.

About halfway through painting this model I realised how well it was going and i'm very happy with the end result.  In fact this model has made me feel like i'm less of an amateur than I thought. 

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Reaper Bones Cave Troll

I'm hoping that I can get across (to anyone who’s interested and maybe looking for some inspiration) how I paint, what techniques and tricks I use and how even an amateur like me can get a good result.

So I dug into the mound of unpainted miniatures that shall henceforth be known as ‘The Leaden Pile of Shame’ and rescued a poor Reaper Bones Troll that’s been languishing in there for some time. I’ve chosen this one as it’s a wonderful sculpt with great detail but isn’t a particularly challenging model to paint due to its limited number of textures. Other than a loincloth it’s generally just skin claws and eyes. 

The ‘Pile of Leaden Shame’ is full of miniatures I’ve bought and prepared ready for painting, the bases have been covered with sand and the model has been assembled (unless the assembly would make painting too difficult) and primed. I prime all my miniatures with standard auto white primer. I’ve tried Games Workshop’s Primer (I found the can I had a bit gritty) and Krylon (expensive but good quality) and now generally use the unbranded primer from Poundland. Yes that’s right, I buy my primer for a £1.00. It’s actually very good quality, gives a really smooth surface without obscuring any detail and gives a solid base to work on.

Those miniatures stay in the pile until I really need them for a game, get inspired to paint one or until I can’t bear the shame caused by their pale accusing faces staring at me from the desk.

So on to how I paint.  I’m going to go for a fairly traditional green skinned Troll and intend to build up the depth of colour with several washes.  For inspiration I’ve been kissing…..looking at Frogs.

So the first step was a watered down base coat of Citadel Goblin Green (Now known as Warboss Green).  At this point I had a nasty surprise.  The paint really didn't want to stick.  This can be caused by a couple of things, the first and most common (i've been told) is an oily coating of mould release agent and the second (and the one I suspect in this case) is a very smooth primer coating mixed with too much water in the wash.  I added a bit more paint and that solved the problem.

Next I added a wash of Citadel Agrax Earthshade which gave a nice definition to the muscles and a brown tint to the skin tone which suited the swampy look I wanted.  Following this I added a wash of Citadel Waargh! Green Ink as I wanted a slight blue tinge in the skin tone.  In hindsight this was a bad move, almost a disaster in fact as it completely overpowered the Goblin green and the Agrax Earthshade leaving me with a really flat green skin.

At this point I considered stripping the paint off and starting again but tried a drybrushed layer of Goblin Green and another wash of the Earthshade which worked out quite nicely.  My next job was to pick out the boils in Citadel Scorpion Green which is a really vibrant electric green, I also used this to drybrush the highlights in.  Final highlights to the boils was given with Sunburst Yellow to make them pop and draw the eye.

Next on the agenda was the details, the teeth and claws got a touch of Citadel Ushabti Bone with washes of Earthshade and Nuln Oil and a final highlight of Ushabti Bone.  When you add a wash, the base colour is darkened so you can use it to highlight and it keeps the same tone and looks natural.  The loincloth got a pale tan base with washes and highlights in a similar fashion. 

I then went to paint the eyes and got another nasty surprise.  You can barely see them let alone paint them.  In the end after several unsuccessful attempts i shadowed the eyes with Nuln Oil and highlighted the cheeks to make the eyes look deeply inset and left it at that.

Its not 100% finished as I want to hit it with some Army Painter Antishine and then gloss varnish the boils, nostrils and lips but I doubt my photos would pick that up so it can wait.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The social acceptability of gaming. Or not.

Live Roleplaying at Dumnonni Chronicles
(Awesome Photo by Roy Smallpage, see more in the video below)

If you are anything like me (and if you are you have my profound sympathy) you probably have several hobbies that you don’t really tell casual acquaintances about.  I’m not talking about dressing in rubber or international jewel thievery but of Roleplaying, Wargaming and Live Roleplaying.

Me masquerading as a normal person
Just to put this into context I’m going to share a bit about myself, please feel free to skip to the next post if you start to yawn.

I’m in my mid forties, happily married with two sons and I have a responsible job managing a company that provides assistance to the elderly and disabled.  I’m reasonably well educated and financially comfortable, I’m a home owner and have no criminal record.  So pretty average in most respects.

My hobbies aren't exactly mainsteam though.  I don't watch football or play gold.  Over the years my obsessions have included painting figures, Roleplaying, Wargaming, Live Roleplaying and playing computer games including a lot of MMOs.   I've pursued some of these hobbies for nearly 30 years and doubt i'll ever give them up. 

Also me, but definately not normal.
I think its odd that I feel quite comfortable telling the people I work with that I went paintballing or played poker at the weekend but avoid telling them that I spent the weekend painting models, or playing D&D or dressed as a Pirate or Celtic Warrior at a Live Action Roleplay event. And if I do tell them I feel as if I need to justify my involvement with the hobby somehow.

Have you ever said something like ‘Oh its much more advanced than the kids version’ or ‘its just an excuse to get together with my friends’ or ‘the quality of the costume is as good as in movies’.  I’ve found myself saying these on many occasions.  As if having a hobby that is a bit different to the accepted view of what a 'sensible grown up' should do with his time is somehow subversive or worse, childish.

I’ll be the first to admit that most of these hobbies are ones I first picked up when I was a teenager, but I don’t really understand why a hobby like Roleplaying is seen as a game for children but poker is not.  Or why it’s perfectly acceptable to talk about Paintballing with work colleagues but we avoid talking about Live Roleplaying from the fear of ridicule.  Maybe its just me.

Initially I thought that the only common thread was that my kind of hobby requires the use of imagination to visualise a Roleplaying setting or to suspend my disbelief that John (who I know is quite an important person at IBM) is actually a blood thirsty Orc raider.

Actually, that doesn’t take as much imagination as you might think!

I think I do know now what the reason is.  The media likes to portray Roleplayers as geeks or nerds, it used to be the same for Comic Book fans (although this is changing in my opinion and it’s considered cooler than it was).  Maybe if more ‘cool’ celebrities like Vin Diesel, Robin Williams and Jack Black admit to enjoying the hobby the media might change it's stereotype of us.

In fact how about this for an idea.  There are loads of TV Poker shows on at the moment and frankly they’re pretty boring.  But how about we get Vin Diesel, Robin Williams, Jack Black and Felicia Day to do a televised D&D game with Joss Whedon as DM!  Its got to be better than watching other people play cards!

Next on Sky Sports.....Late Night pro Celebrity Dungeon Crawl!!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Slipstream Miniatures - Robots!

Its been a little while since I painted anything new, mainly because I have been waiting for some miniatures to arrive from Reaper and also due to having lots of other things demanding my attention.  But the Reaper box arrived this week, with a bill from Customs & Royal Mail for £12.93.  I had £25 to spend from a prize in a Reaper painting competition and added a bit to reach the free international shipping threshold so I was a bit annoyed when the Tax Man added on £4.43 (which I can accept) and Royal Mail added £8.00 handling for the paying the Tax Man on my behalf (which is the bit that was annoying).  Oh well, lesson from the UK stockist for Reaper Miniatures next time.

The box from Reaper contained about half Bones plastic miniatures with the remainder being Chronoscope figures for my GM's Slipstream game.  The first ones to get some paint were the ones that will represent my character.  Thats right, I have multiple figures for my character!

SAM-66 is the Rocket Ship's Chief Engineer and Medical Officer, and to help him with his duties he has three Toolbots.  I wanted something similar to the Drones from Silent Running or the Floating Robots from The Black Hole and these fitted the bill perfectly.  They'll be used to repair the ship and my character if he gets damaged and will add some comic relief too.  

I wanted my character to look futuristic but not pristine so he has a couple of metal panels that he hasn't gotten around to painting yet but is otherwise clean looking.  I took inspiration from real world Robotic Assisted Movement suits (for the disabled) and the Honda Asimo robot.  I like the shiny white look that seems to be prevalent at the moment with a soft blue accent colour.

I hope you like the results, i'm very happy with them myself and I think they came out very well. 

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Savage Worlds Slipstream Miniatures

As promised in the last post here are the photos of a couple of the finished character miniatures for my regular GM's upcoming Slipstream game.

The first is Rob's RAF Pilot.  I suspect that he'll fall into the noble hero mould like Buck Rodgers or Flash Gordon, with the rest of us keeping him out of trouble!

Rob wanted his pilot painted with a blond moustache and in RAF Blue which I tried to accommodate, I find blond hair (especially facial hair) is a very difficult colour to paint.  It either comes out too yellow or too brown but in this case it came out ok.  

Its a fairly simple colour scheme, brown leather (I used GW Bestial Brown) for the flying cap & coat, Alaitoc Blue with a wash of Nuln Oil for the uniform and that's pretty much it.

The Space Chimp came out quite well, i'm happy with it but not with the photos.  I think i'll have to bite the bullet and get a decent camera because the Fujifilm JX530 I've been using just isn't working out very well.  Even using Gimp to fix the white balance isn't doing the figures justice. I think I need to get a proper light box too.

Oh well, i'll put up some more photos when i've finished the next batch.

Weird War II on hold and Pulp Sci-Fi

Hello again, sorry for the long gap between posts but i've been very busy with work and a bit distracted with Guild Wars 2.  Don't worry that distraction didn't last all that long and i'm back to painting.

Due to some scheduling problems with one of the players my Weird War II game is unavoidably delayed.  This is good and bad news as on one hand I have a little more time to get my act together and paint the French Resistance models but on the other I can't share the adventure or the in game photos with you.   Stay tuned, it will be along in the next few weeks.

In the meantime we've been getting ready to play Mubaris' (our regular GM) Savage Worlds Slipstream game.  I didn't intend on buying any figures for this game especially after spending a silly amount on the Reaper Kickstarter but when I saw some of the Pulp Sci Fi models available from Reaper and Hydra Miniatures I couldn't resist.  Actually, my ability to not be able to resist buying miniatures seems to be a recurring theme!

Anyhoo, We have the following characters for our upcoming Flash Gordonesque game:

SAM-66 is my character.  A Mechanical Man from Mechano who is the ships Doctor and Engineer.  He's softly spoken and avoids combat and danger but has quite a hidden past for the other characters to learn about. I chose the Reaper ALF 24 Robot Assistant for this character with a set of Tool Bots to go along with him.  They haven't arrived yet (i'm in the UK and its a long way from Texas!).

Next we have Rob's character. A RAF Pilot from World War II, spun out of control in a storm he awakens in his trusty Spitfire in the thin atmosphere of The Slipstream,  time will tell how he gets out of this new predicament.  Its probably a good bet that a pretty girl will be involved though!  For this one we chose Captain Biggleswade from Artizan Designs (on of my favourite miniature suppliers). 

The next character is for my friend Bob.  He doesn't know that he's going to be playing a Space Chimp yet, we'll have to talk him into it but the figure was just too cool to pass up.  I forgot to take a photo of it unpainted and can't find one online so this one is one from their website. 

My friend Simon will be playing a One Eyed Psiclops and finding a suitable figure is really hard.  I toyed with the idea of getting the Torso Evans Strontium Dog figure from Foundry Miniatures  but it just doesn't fit that well with the pulpy nature of the game in my opinion.  In the end I opted for the Illyrian Ranger miniature from Reaper.

I'll put up some photos of the finished models over the next few days as they arrive.