Friday, December 18, 2009

Forge World Praetorians

I recently got to work on a few Forge World tank kits for the Praetorians that I've been painting.

That is, in addition to the characters featured on the left.

The bright red coloring is a welcome change for Imperial Guard vehicles, and I was even a little surprised with how well the Valkyrie mini lends itself to freehand.

Anyway, below are featured some Imperial guard vehicles with Forge World pieces attached.

I unfortunately don't have any shots showing off the Vendetta crew, but they were all painted at Display Quality.

The spotter drum was painted up as a jewel effect, so that it looks a little more like there is a camera in there for targetting. Otherwise, these tanks were painted in pretty much the same way as a chimera.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Half and Half Space Marines

I've been commissioned to paint a lot of different Space Marine Chapters. I've never been surprised by that, since everyone knows that Marines are the very popular force.

On the other hand, I have been a little surprised at how often I get commissions to do color schemes in the "half and half" style. Half and Half color schemes are very popular among successor chapters, but not so much among the primary ones.

As I've gone about painting forces and minis in half and half colors, I've found some tricks to get around the pitfalls they could fall into. There are a number of pitfalls for these kind of Space Marines, so it is good to be careful about them.

One of the biggest issues for Half/Half marines is composition. It can be difficult to paint many bright colors onto a Space Marine without him becoming bright and gaudy. For example, the white, red and yellow color scheme of the Storm Lords could easily be overpowering.

The way that I've mitigated this is to make the metals fairly neutral (grey and dark metals were used on these Storm Lords). Also, I made the white into a warm bone-white color (rather than a grey-er white like I used on the Eagle Warrior). This meant that I could use the same shading color for both the white and yellow- allowing the colors to tie together effectively.

This is another thing that you'll want to note is balance in the very non-symmetric color schemes.

This Eagle Warrior's composition was balanced using the red color. It covers his knee on one side, and the opposite side of his helmet, creating a strong red balance across the mini.

Notice that the blue on this mini is a somewhat neutral color (Ultramarines blue is a little gray). This keeps it from overpowering the cold white on the mini, and leaves the red as the brightest color.

Here is another interesting piece that I got to paint. This Sons of Malice Daemon Prince has a strong half and half scheme combined with the melding of flesh and armor inherent in Daemonhood.

Rather than keep the border between the two colors as clean as possible, on this mini I blended the white and black together around the head. That way, both colors could fade into the flesh tones that I used for the face.

The wings were painted using the same black and white as the armor, allowing them to follow suite with the mini and not seem out of place or tacked on.

For vehicles, it is often good to emphasize the metallic features, as metallic colors tend to remain neutral in the color scheme, and help tie the whole mini together. Here are a few examples:

Monday, December 14, 2009

New forum with an interesting goal

Ok, there are gaming forums all over the place. It seems you can't swing a google search without running amok of six or seven of them.

So the opening of the new "...Here Be Dragons" forum wouldn't be a big deal. But they are doing something different with their forum.

Their mission statement looks a little different to me. From their press release:

Following many years of frustration with varying companies making slightly different rules for Tabletop Wargames, we have created the beginnings of a solution, and would like to invite the gaming community to join us.

“…here be dragons” marks the beginnings of a community led project to publish a widely accepted set of miniatures rules, for free, under a Creative Commons non-commercial license. It’s a lofty goal, as we also intend to develop a rich background in which to set the games – so no IP nightmares or corporate licensing need rear it’s head. We begin by looking at skirmish level Fantasy/Steampunk/Medieval genres – which should translate into the SciFi/Modern genre quite well if all goes to plan.

Isn't that interesting? Personally, I'm not sure that the miniatures wargaming market is so full that we need a "One System to Rule them All" approach, but an open intellectual property could be a very good thing for miniatures games.

Now, they mention that this is a lofty goal, and they're right. This is going to take a lot of work to create, and a lot more work to try and help it catch on. But it has potential to be spectacular.

I mean, a number of older games have become largely fan supported. Take a look at some of Games Workshop's specialist line, that has grown into community project to support the systems that the fans love.

If you're interested in contributing to this, head on over to and sign up for their forum.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Personal history and training as a painter

I've been asked to share my personal history and training as a minis painter from time to time, so I've decided to put the story here. It is just a little long for a forum post.

I got into minis 16 or 17 years ago when I was eleven. I actually started out painting Monster in my Pockets, some Space Crusade minis and some old Ral Partha D&D characters.

For many years I was awful. I mean, really bad. Now, as an eleven year old, I was convinced that my stuff rivaled the 'eavy metal studio paint jobs.

The biggest problem I had for many years was trying new techniques. I learned to ink, guide coat and dry brush and for a long time I thought that other techniques were too complex, and that I should try them out "when I get better."

Sometime later- when I was 22, I realized that there was simply no reason I couldn't paint as well as I wanted to. So I tried out a bunch of new techniques, and my painting shot up.

After that, I actively strove to find techniques that intimidated me. I've actually chosen factions to play because I was intimidated by the painting. I often look up tutorials online or in magazines, and I try to take ideas from some of the painters I idolize.

Currently, I am as good as some of the painters I used to idolize, and I'm striving to be as good as the ones I think are awesome now.

So, no formal training at all. I did not major in visual arts in college, or even take many art classes in high school. I just started trying new things, and decided that there was no limit on how good a painter I could be.

So, the great secret is to try out something that you don't think you can do. You will always learn something, even if you don't pull it off the first time. That's how you get to be a better painter.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Full Space Hulk set

I recently finished a project to do the whole box of Space Hulk minis. These guys are the most dynamic terminators and Genestealers to come out of any Games Workshop line, and they're really quite marvelous to paint.

I painted the lightning arcs onto the power sword and thunder hammer by request of my client. I think both of them turned out rather well.

Overall this project matches the studio scheme for Space Hulk a little more closely than the previous set of terminators that I painted.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Table Top Gaming News Reader's Choice Awards

Tabletop Gaming News is once again holding their annual

Yes, so go on over to and have a look at what we have to show from 20009. Go ahead and vote while you're at it.

Some of my highlights for the year have made their list. For example, their best fantasy miniatures contenders include Thagrosh the Messiah from Hordes, the new Skaven Screaming Bell from GW and several entries from Avatars of War- including the Minotaur Lord.

However, the best thing that this list is good for is introducing us to new miniatures that we might not have noticed otherwise. For example, somehow I missed Reaper's new Frost Giant Princess, and a lot of the outstanding contenders from Hell Dorado this year, including Montbard and the impressive Eurynome.

That is a lot to choose from, and that is part of the reason why TGN's awards are consistently of high quality. It does make the voting more difficult.

Of course, I might have to go out and get a lot of these minis too. I mean, just look at them.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Camouflage Petterns

Painting camo patterns is rather interesting. When painting camouflage, there are a lot of concessions to make. If you use too realistic a camo pattern, then the minis will blend into the table and themselves. I mean, camauflage doesn't pop- that's the idea.

Here are a few real camo patterns:

This would be far too busy for the miniature. In the end, we wouldn't be able to see how well the mini was painted. And add to this some highlighting and shading, and you really have a disaster waiting to happen.

On a mini, you have to do some things differently:

Here is a simple Basilisk that I painted a little while ago. Battle damage was completely left off of it (my client's request- I think he wanted to damage it himself).

So I exaggerated the different colored areas a lot for this. As is, I've made sure that there is enough metal on this mini to break up the pattern and make the whole thing more pleasing to the eye.

Another interesting thing to note is how this mini was highlighted up. Since the different colored areas are part of the same surface, it is important to make them look alike enough that we believe they are lit by the same source.

The final highlights for both the tan and green were done using the same color- so that the mini's highlight layer blends together between the two parts. That's really only true of the extreme highlights, but if is significant for the concept on the whole.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

There's a lot going on right now.

Let's start up with some of the really big things going on. The Hordes Mark II field test is going on right now, and will continue until the 24th this month.

The significance of this is that all of us who have already seen and love the Warmachine Mark II rules can now play using the Hordes factions. That's kind of great.

Of course, I think that anyone whose been playing much Hordes should get over to PP's website, sign up and start playing right now. They'll be accepting feedback, and already it is clear that the field test has improved quite a bit of rules wording.

Another bit of news from Privateer Press, they are releasing a new extreme sculpt. This time, it is a little different. Rather than doing one of everything from each faction, Privateer has decided to release a variant on the Extreme Juggernaut with the Extreme Destroyer. From the look of it, most of the parts are the same as the Juggernaut, just with some weapon changes.

I suppose that if they weren't going to release variants on this hull, I would probably have created a few myself. Now, Khadoran players who want to use nothing but massive minis are one step closer to that dream
On the Games Workshop side of things, we are getting some updated Legion of the Damned Space Marine minis. I remember when the old Legion of the Damned minis came out, and I don't think they've been updated since the end of the second edition of Warhammer 40,000.

Of course, anyone could have just painted a bunch of skulls and fire on black space marines, but the new minis look like they might be worth picking up anyway.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Lukas the Trickster

I recently had my first commission for one of the new Space Wolves minis. This time, it was Lukas the Trickster.

I have to say, the Loki in terminator armor was quite a bit of fun to paint. I used many of the same methods in painting the face that I've talked about before- including a hint of five o'clock shadow around his beard.

The wolf pelt was painted using a method I pulled from a very old painting guide from Mike McVey. Essentially, you start out with a mustard type color, highlight up to white and shade part of the pelt with a brown ink.

Overall, I think he turned out quite nicely. I loved the detail on his face, and the expression (most Space Marines are only ever angry or shouting, this one is actually a little gleeful). I look forward to more minis like this coming from GW.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Painting with a limited pallet

I find that most of the time, the thing that separates the great painters from the good ones, and even the poor ones is the continued venture of learning more. It id very easy to get into a rhythm of using the techniques you are already very familiar with.

Using only the techniques you already know will make you a better painter at your level, but it really won't bring you up to the next level. The way you bring your painting up a notch is to find something you don't think you can do, and figure it out.

Well, when a renown painter like Jen Haley wins the P3 Grandmaster painting competition, that's not so much of a surprise. But what I find most interesting is what she said about experimentation in her diorama.

But the blurb she wrote about her diorama was that she was experimenting with a limited pallet. The whole diorama was painted using only five paint pots- there was just a lot of mixing of paints and blending between the colors. The result was a diorama that looked fantastic, where all of the colors were unified in subtle ways.

Unfortunately, Haley's diorama isn't posted on the internet anywhere. You'll have to look in No Quarter 27 to see it. However, she did post her entry that took best in show.

So, I decided to try out painting with a limited pallet on my Calandra Truthsayer. I only used 5 paint pots on this mini, and that includes the base.

The five colors you see here are the only ones that made it onto to the mini. Anything that doesn't look like one of these colors is actually a mix of two or more of them. For example, the grey armor was actually brown and blue mixed together, highlighted with the fleshy pink (a client of mine gave me the idea of highlighting non metallic metals with pink).

The colors are Morrow White, Sanguine Base, Rynn Flesh Bootstrap Leather and Exile Blue. The skin was a mix of Rynn, Bootstrap and Sanguine, to give her a slightly fleshy pink tone. When I wanted to ink the leathers, I created a purple wash out of Exile Blue and Sanguine Base. Like I said before, the greys are created by mixing Bootstrap Leather and Exile Blue- the metals have a little more blue in them, and the browns (like on the base) have a little more brown.

I had a wonderful time with this exercise, and I am definitely going to try it out again. Also, Calandra was a joy to paint, and I am definitely going to be painting her again in the future.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mordheim Cult of the Possessed

One thing that I've always been fond of is Game's Workshop's Specialist/Fanatics line of games- especially the smaller scale games. That is where GW relegated things like Blood Bowl, Necromunda, and Mordheim.

Mordheim is an interesting game because of the way that it incorporates all of the core rules for Warhammer Fantasty Battle, but makes all of the fighting forces into small warbands with fairly poor stats in Fantasy Battle terms.

Anyway, here is a Cult of the Possessed (Chaos) warband that I was recently commissioned to paint for Mordheim. The colors were not entirely my choosing, and the bases were left alone because my client had his own plans for them:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Collaborative World Building for RPGs

A little while ago, a friend of mine decided to start up a Dungeons and Dragons, and I was inclined to play because he is an excellent game master.

We tried something new for this game- the Dawn of Worlds world creation system.

The GM and all players sat down together and created a world. We started with an outline of a map, and from there, created our game world's history through the ages. Each of us took turns sculpting a little landscape and creating different races in a system that worked beautifully. I highly reccomend using this collaborative world builder over a GM made campaign setting if only because the world was instantly three dimentional for all of us players.

I have to say, that collaboration in creating the world made for a spectacular experience. When we started playing, we all felt like we had a detailed and interesting world to play in. It was kind of like starting up a Dragon Lance, L5R or Iron Kingdoms game with a group that knows the history, has read the novels and knows the setting's details.

Now, we did do some strange things with our world. The race of goblins was born when the hobgoblins made treaties with the halflings and eventually interbred with them. The dwarves have built their civilization with the minotaurs and live in peace with one another (and have for so long that all dwarves and minotaurs see one another as brothers).

That is what led me to want to convert and paint up a minotaur fighter featured below. The base mini is an old Games Workshop minotaur, the shield comes from a Reaper ogre, and the rest is all just green stuff.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Privateer Press announces new Warcasters

With Warmachine Mark II on the horizon, Privateer Press has promised that each of the main factions will be receiving one new warcaster and one new warjack, along with a lot of other potential goodies.

We've seen the new Warjacks for Khador, Cygnar, the Protectorate and Cryx. Shortly after that, we got to see the artwork for Mark II stuff (all are prints by Andrea Underzo). In the prints, there was a new guy:

This is Kommander Strakhov. From what I can tell, he is accompanied by assault kommandos, and he might actually be a former assault kommando. But right now, all we know about him for sure is that he looks like this.

Just yesterday, we received another preview of a warcaster. This time, for Cygnar:
Captain Kara Sloan is her name, and again, we know almost nothing for certain. However, I rather think that she is going to do something with the long gunners.

And that makes me wonder about the new Tier system that Warmachine Mark II is using. Honestly, the game looks like it might end up getting rather bloated from all of the available units in each faction, but what Privateer Press seem to be doing about that is making each warcaster lead a specific kind of force (always one that is very fluffy) and give the player bonuses if he is playing it.

It is possible that these new warcasters are here to fill out the different forces. Maybe Cygnar did not have a long gunner warcaster before, and maybe Khador did not have an assault commando warcaster. It would make sense.

But this is all just speculation right now anyway.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Back in Stock

If you didn't get one of these the first time around, you're in luck. Schlock minis are back in stock!

Based on Schlock Mercenary by Howard Tayler, Sculpted by Melissa Mayhew. Schlock Mercenary Copyright Howard Tayler 2000-2009 and used by permission of Howard Tayler.

Well... what do you do with your tenticle pink?

So, I recently finished a commission for some Khadoran Winter Guard all dressed in Pink and White.

This is actually the second commission I've done for this same force, but I unfortunately did not get any pictures of the Iron Fang Pikemen (there used a lovely cupcake design on their banner instead of the Khadoran triangle emblem).

It has become a strangely common practice to paint Warmachine and Hordes minis in Pink. I think this is largely due to Devilsquid's efforts on the Privateer Press Forums to raise breast cancer awareness, and people like Igor K. who revel in the irony.

These are more of the revel in the irony kind of minis. There is just something wonderful about painting minis pink. Something terrific an ironic and everything great.

But there is something distressing about this also. I only have one pot of the much maligned Tenticle Pink left. Of course, this pot has lasted me many years (mostly by being one of the least used colors in my box- I honestly can't blame whoever chose to discontinue it).

I guess that really only means that I'll have to find a different way to pull off those bright pinks. I'm sure it won't be that hard.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Another set of Praetorian Imperial Guardsmen

Here is another set of Classic Praetorian Guardmen- this commission follows several others- you can see those here and here.

Overall, I think these paintjobs are very focused on the faces of the Praetorians. They are rather expressive and characterful minis, and they have such nice style in that Imperial Underdog kind of way. Here is a good shot that shows off the face quite well.

Anyway, this banner bearer comes from a time before banners were part of the sculpts, so it is entirely composed of greenstuff and freehand.

This squad of Praetorians were converted to wear carapace armor- that way they can be used as storm troopers or veterans.

My client is responsible for the conversion on this old school sentinel. Yeah, when this guy was made, the sentinels had assault cannons rather than the mediocre multilazers they now use.

It was a simple case of swapping out the sentinel driver for the upper body of a Praetorian gunner. I think they designed sentinels that way on purpose, because this way every Imperial Guard regiment can have sentinels attachec wthout a lot of work.

And, of course, where would any Imperial Guard regiment be without their tanks?