Friday, February 26, 2010

Green and Khaki dwarves

I very recently got do to a commission for a small Warmachine force for the dwarves. I'm always delighted to do some dwarves, as they were my first Warmachine force and they're always rather nice.

The interesting challenge for these was in the color scheme. I did a two main color pallet- but I painted it alternating between the green or khaki being the more prominant of the colors.

Ultimately, the color most used on almost any dwarf 'jack is a metallic, but the colors that draw your eye are different. Here's what I did with the scheme, trying to make both colors stand out nicely without making the 'jacks look patchy.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


There's a certain amount of craziness that you can normally expect in miniatures painting. I mean, I've painted up a gnomish bard to look like Willie Nelson for a Texan player.

However, I don't think I've ever come across a mini that is just so uniquely crazy as Jason Wiebe's Wereshark (produced by Reaper).

The mini itself has wonderful musculature, a good pose and a lot of character. The only thing that throws everyone for a loop is the fact that it is a wereshark- and that alone brings up all kinds of questions.

I mean, first you figure the guy was bitten by a shark and lived. I guess that puts most weresharks into the missing a limb category. On top of that, does he have to run off to the ocean every full moon? And if not, does he ever turn into full shark form?

Most of what Reaper produces in their Dark Heaven lineup are wonderful miniatures to use in fantasy role playing games- especially Dungeons and Dragons. Now, I haven't read every book, but I am completely in the dark about anyone making rules for a wereshark.

If I ever get my meremaid campaign together, the party is totally running into one.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Salamanders Forgefather Vulkan He'Stan

I recently finished a commission for Vulkan He'stan, Forgefather of the Salamanders. I've been rather fond of him altogether- both since he's an excellently detailed and characterful mini (especially as a marine wearing a helmet) and he's exquisitely detailed and ornate as any chapter master ought to be.

Well, a mini like this fits much better on a 40mm base, so I sculpted one for him (from green and gray stuff). Otherwise, I left the mini as is.

One interesting thing I found working with him is that he clearly calls for two sets of object source lighting- one from the flaming iron halo he's got on his back, and another from the flowing lava on his base. Since he'll be matching a whole force of Salamanders, I resisted the urge to make the OSL parts the only things lighting this mini- he is lit as if it were daytime with some accents from the two sources of light.

Overall, I think he went rather well.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Painting Faces 2- how to paint eyes.

A little while ago, I wrote a post about painting male faces, and another about painting female faces. Both posts featured a lot of details on the faces, and they both mentioned something interesting about the way that eyes are done.

I think that makes sense, since I've done eyes a number of different ways, and I don't see anything wrong with painting them in any given way.

But there are advantages and disadvantages to the different methods. With this Reeve of Orboros, I started out by painting the eyes over a black undercoat. I simply added spots of white, painted the pupils in the center, and cleaned up the edges in black again.

This method is very useful for two main reasons. First off, it is very forgiving to paint the eyes directly over the undercoat. If you've got too much paint on your brush, or if it slips, you haven't ruined any painting you've already done on her face.

Secondly- it tends to exaggerate the size of the eyes slightly. This mini's sculpted eyes could probably stand to be painted a little smaller (and her face altogether would look more realistic). However, the size of her eyes allows her eyes to pop at greater distances. She works a little better at tabletop level because her eyes are a little too large.

There's a good step by step post of this method over at Reaper. They have some work in progress photos that should be helpful.

Well, there's nothing wrong with doing things that way, but it certainly isn't the only way that things are done. More recently, I painted up Epic Magnus' face to be more realistic in its detail work.

As you can see, the eyes are very small. Instead of painting them first, I painted them after I had worked quite a bit on the rest of the face. I had a lot of nice shading in the eye sockets, and I simply painted the eyes over the shade layer- first dark brown, then white shape of the eyes, and then black dots for the pupils.

This is trickier to do, and is a far less forgiving process. I had to get out my smallest brush to get the pupils just right. This wasn't very forgiving at all, and any slip from the brush requires a decent amount of clean up work.As you can see, his eyes aren't as large as the Reeve's. It makes him a little more of a "pick up and examine" mini, but the face also looks a little more realistic because of this.

Again, there are advantages to painting this way. I often prefer the realistic look over the exaggerated one, but ultimately, they're both quite legitimate.

These are only two methods for painting eyes. I've seen many different methods, and most of them worked rather well for something. These two are the ones I use most often, though, and I hope I've encouraged some experimentation.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Repainting miniatures

Every miniatures painter knows that there are a number of games that use miniatures that are already painted. Everything from Heroclix to AT-43 has gone in this direction.

Now, AT-43 and Confrontation minis were designed by Rackham, who have strongly advertised that their minis are 100% repaintable. But it is interesting to look at how much other pre-painted miniatures benefit from some love and care.

I have done a number of repaints from several different sources- including Monsterpocalypse and the now completely altered D&D miniatures line.

There are a few things that you will need to do differently as you approach a prepainted miniature.

First of all, the paint that is already on the miniature is pretty much impossible to remove as far as I can tell (if anyone has succeeded in getting paint off of a wizards of the coast mini, let me know).

Usually that means that the details aren't going to be as deep and defined as minis you're used to painting. That makes the most difference on the faces. It is best to approach a pre-paint's face already knowing where all the details are. Paint the eyes as if they were freehand, and add in the highlights to the places you know the highlights need to go (the cheeks, forehead, nose and area below the nose- etc.). The sculpts just aren't detailed enough to guide you through the painting.

The second problem you'll run up against is that most of the sculpts are a little less detailed than the pewter sculpts that you're used to painting. Don't let any of that stop you. There're a lot of great things you can do with pre-painted miniatures. But you have to be a little creative, and be willing to do some free-hand where the details ought to be.

For example, the simplicity of the sculpt usually means that there are broad areas that are ripe to add in some effects. Lighting effects, freehand, blood weathering and starscapes are all fair game.

Here is an example:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Starscape painting

I've had some questions recently about how I paint my starscape effects.

It is actually a fairly simple process, but it depends very much on a good eye for balance and composition.

The first thing to do is get the night sky look right. The effect won't look right if you just paint stars over black, so you have to go in there with some dark blues and violets to try and form dark clouds.

This image shows the blue/black contrast very well. I started out by painting some dark blue over parts of the black orb, and then putting some blue ink over it all before adding any of the stars.

The next big step is to add in the stars. For the most part, you only want some non-uniform tiny white dots across the sky. If you know astronomy well enough, you can throw in some constellations, but to most of us, it will look right so long as the stars don't look too balanced or too much in line.

After that, you will need to pick some things to add centers of interest. The star scape is never enough by itself.

The easiest detail to add is a bright star. Don't worry too much about realism here, what you're going for is the star that they print on Christmas cards.

You might want to consider a few other options. The Woldwyrd above has a comet on it- something very small and simple, but it gives just enough point of interest to make the starscape work.

The opposite way to go is to use the moon. A simple sphere or crescent shape isn't quite all you need. The moon in the sky is not quite all white, so the best way to treat it is to use a little off white bone or even yellow layered underneath to provide texture.

After that you paint some white over portions of the moon, giving it a strong shape.

There are a lot of places that a starscape can work, and plenty of times you won't want to use it. Try it on parts of the mini that are largely blank, and yet need to be centers of interest.

That's all of the basic techniques. From there, try experimenting with different nebulae or effects, and see what you can come up with.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Alternate Studio minis

As part of a fundraiser to help start up Tu Publishing, we painted up and auctioned off a few of our minis painted in very different color schemes.

I'm glad to say the fundraiser was a huge success, thanks to the very many people who donated through Kickstarter for making Tu Publishing a reality.

Anyway, before we shipped them out, we got a few photographs of our minis, and I'm only now getting around to posting them up.

Here they are:

As is often the case, there are some other angles available in the Garden Ninja Gallery.

Based on the Goblin Quest Books by Jim C. Hines. Goblin Quest, Goblin Hero and Goblin War are Copyright © Jim C. Hines 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 and used by permission of Jim C. Hines,

Based on the Mistborn books by Brandon Sanderson. Mistborn, Well of Ascension and Hero of Ages are copyright © Brandon Sanderson 2006, 2007, and 2008 used by permission of Brandon Sanderson,

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.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Painting Hazard Stripes

Somewhere, towards the beginning of Game's Workshop's foray into Warhammer 40,000, or maybe from FASA's first edition of Battletech, there must have been a studio painter who really, really liked hazard stripes. As the hobby advanced, this pioneer's fetish became a standard for all around him, in ways that look rather interesting, but haven't got a whole lot to do with actual hazard safety.

I mean, do we really need to have stripes telling us that chainswords are dangerous? We don't mark out actual chainsaws that way, and for the most part those ones aren't designed with combat in mind.

Anyway, this mainstay of the hobby has endured in some form or another for the past thirty years or so, and is now a sort of 'classic' look that many painters like to employ.

My method for applying hazard stripes is fairly simple. The first thing I usually do is paint the area white.

The most obvious use of the white coat is to help the yellow show up, because no matter what brand of paint you're using, yellows are some of the hardest to get a good coat of paint on the mini with.

The other thing this allows me to do is shade and highlight the whole area with the white. This shading/highlighting helps to make the area pop and not look flat next to the rest of the mini.

I normally add the stripes onto the white before applying the yellow. The real trick to doing the stripes is to not worry too much about getting them straight the first time. Try and make them more or less even, and when you mess up a part, just remember that you can go back to it in a minute and fix it.

I often do some of my highlighting on the black before I apply yellow paint to the mini. Since you already have a good shaded white area to work from, you'll mostly want to try and get the black highlighted areas to match the white highlighted areas.

The yellow is applied with layers of thinned down yellow paint/ink. The thinning helps it keep the shading that you did with the white, even though you often have to do some of the extreme highlights over again afterward.

Almost every hazard stripe that I've painted is also quite dirty, and battle damaged. You can apply battle damage to hazard stripes the same way as anything else (and if you're damaging the mini, you need to use the same methods or it will look wonky).

As for grime, I usually like to throw on a quick glaze-thin coat of brown, gray or rust colored paint. It is best to use colors that you have on your base (so that we know where the mud has come from) and also to match any grime that you've put on the rest of the mini.

The only other thing you'll need to watch for is placement. Hazard stripes tend to be very bright focal points for the eye, so try and keep your mini balanced. I often do stripes on two opposite sides of a mini to balance it out.

Alright, now go have fun with it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Here's something that I hadn't seen before. A new miniature for Smartmax's Mauser Earth line.

His name is Streetbot Willy. He's rather interesting mix of time periods to create a World War I style mech.

For the record, I haven't played the game at all, but this guy has got me interested. At very least, I'll be trying to get a hold of some of their other minis.

Also, check out Smartmax's victorian fantasy line Smog. There are a lot of winners in there.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Extreme Behemoth Conversion

Privateer Press' line of "Extreme Sculpts" has been pretty fantastic to us. The first one, the Dire Troll Mauler was a fantastically iconic mini that just begged to be painted and made into an army's centerpiece.

The addition of the Juggernaut extreme to the line erupted something new. This warjack featured removable everything (even the axe in his hand was a separate piece, as were his fingers). Also, around half of all Khadoran warjacks use the same hull as the Juggernaut, so with just a little conversion work, it was possible to get an extreme Destroyer, Maurader, Decimator, Kodiak and Beast 09.

Of course, if you were to do all of that, your force would dwarf any other warjacks you brought. Sure, that's ok if you're bringing Berzerkers along- they're the lightest Khadoran warjacks after all. But what about the Behemoth? It is meant to dwarf all those around it.

That is one of the reasons that a few people have created the Extreme Behemoth. I made the one featured below for a client. Using the main hull of the extreme Juggernaut, and after that, I threw in a few bits from the Behemoth (the head, arm pistons and guns on his shoulders).

There's some green stuffing I had to do to fill in the gaps, and on the pistons on the arms, there was a little extra cutting to make them fit.

The guns on his shoulders increase his size just enough that he does look right in an all extreme force. Of course, if your army isn't all about the extremes, he's still appropriately sized- just way bigger than anyone else.

Anyway, here he is:

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hordes official temporary rules available

Privateer Press have just released the official rules for Hordes Mark II.

In November and December, Privateer Press hosted a field test for the new version of Hordes. It worked kind of like an open beta test, where they periodically updated with new miniature's rules.

The current version they have up is not the finished product. Rather, it is a "hold you over" product. The rules are tournament legal until the release of Hordes Mark II officially, at which point we can expect a few changes.

So, for everyone who hasn't tried out Hordes before- check it out. The beta rules are all available for free download, and everything is looking pretty good.

For everyone who has been playing Hordes for a while, it is time to go and see what has become of your favorite warlocks. I've noticed some nice new things on Morvahna...

Privateer Press, along with the release of Warmachine MK II, have started releasing re-sculpts of their older warcasters. So far, it looks as though the first four warcasters from each of the original four factions will be getting a resculpt.

It makes sense. A lot of those older warcasters come from a time when Privateer Press hadn't pinned down the scale of the miniatures they were using. A few of those older minis looked very small next to the post scale creep minis they've released more recently.

Well, I recently got my first commission to paint one of these new minis:

I think the Butcher mini was probably the least out of scale of all of those old warcasters. He was a giant of a man, and the original sculpt made him stand out pretty well.

Now, we've got a new version of him that is noticeably larger, and far more dynamically posed. While most of the details on the armor, axe and coat have remained the same, the face stands out as a vast improvement over the original. he is far more expressive than he was.

Overall, I think that these new sculpts are a good enough excuse to release some fine miniatures. I look forward to painting some of the others.