Sunday, December 28, 2014

Alexia Ciannor

This month's Colore ton Monde just had to be something from the Painting class that I finished off. To that end, I was the closest to finishing off Alexia Ciannor This is the sculpt of her released for use in the Iron Kingdoms RPG, not the one that is sold in the boxed set, which I have always found to be out of scale with the rest of the game.

I love this mini and sculpt. I have had her for a very long time, but had held off on painting her till my skills could give the sculpt the justice I felt it deserved, so there was really no better place to start her off than at the Painting Masterclass. Coincidentally, that's exactly what Meg Maples said about the other miniature I took to the class, the Elven King.

As I previously mentioned, after the class on how to paint eyes in seven easy steps, I tried to paint her eyes three times before giving up. The class was only 2 days long after all. I may go back and try again, but I doubt it, as there's far to much other lead for me to get through.

I may be unhappy with the eyes, but I am more at ease with the metallics on this mini. The two brush blending on the coat at the back isn't so bad either. I may be starting to get the hang of this painting thing. Faces aside.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Dystopian Legions: Black Wolf Raiding Party

This evening saw the completion of the Black Wolf Raiding Party for Dystopian Legions.

The Black Wolf Raiding party, is a section of mercenaries, that so far, any player can take as an addition to their regular forces. In the old rules, there was a max of 6 men per section. In V2.0, they can be taken in a section of up to 10. This can include one officer, and two specialists. This means, that under the new rules, I can play double the number of guys, but that means I have to buy another box, and I won't be able to use the officer figure that comes with it.

As to the minis themselves. I was very impressed with the minis at first, they are both finely made, and yet sturdy. They are, like all Spartan minis, 32mm, but a little more true-scale than some, which means, that even at 32mm, there is not much detail on the faces. They have little pits for eyes, and that leaves most of the definition up to the painters brush. They also have stripes sculpted into their shirts. I tried two or three various ways to make use of this sculpting, but the details are just not well enough defined for my hand, so I had to freehand on the stripes. They work at a distance, but look crude close up. I am happy with the blending on the tops of their hats though.


  Group Shots

I had taken these minis along to the masterclass to give a coat there, but the details and scale of them let them less than perfect for the skills I was trying to develop at the class, however, I am happy that they are finished, and I'm sure they'll see use on the table soon, either in my forces, or bulking up an opponents forces to help play a larger points game.

Friday, December 19, 2014

I am Part Timelord!

I always knew this to be kinda true, you know, despite the evidence to the contrary, lack of time-machine, only one heart, that kind of thing, but I read it in Doctor Who Magazine Issue 480, whilst waiting for the train this morning, I am related to the latest incarnation of the Rani (by blood, if a little diluted, she's my Mum's cousin).

I met with her at a recent family gathering, where she mentioned recording with Big Finish Audio, but I didn't really think about it, and didn't ask for more info, and then the conversation moved on, but after having seen her face in the mag, I wish I had pushed for more info, although reading about it, that may have been for a previous production she did with them. Also, this was announced back in June of this year, so I am ever so slightly behind the times. Still, I'll go and buy these episodes now for sure.

So, it seems that Timelords have a large amount of Scottish blood in them (3 Doctors, 1 Master and 1 Rani), maybe that's why they make such good explorers and travel so well, after all, if Scots are known for one thing, it's leaving Scotland!

Ok, so this is not exactly wargame related, but I geeked out a little when I read the headline, and had to post it on the internet somewhere, as that is what one does these days, no?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Geeks of the North Talk to Meg Maples

I've mentioned these two things before, the Geeks of the North podcast, and the Meg Maples Montreal Masterclass, well, now these two things come together. After the class, the Geeks got together with Meg and had a chat, the results of which can be heard here. Go check it out.

Want to go further down the rabbit hole? well, this blog post is mentioned on the podcast. So this is a post where I talk about a podcast that talks about a post on my blog. Talk about meta!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Colore ton Monde: Decembre

There has been an unintentional delay at my end this month in my posting for Colore ton Monde, What can I say, I was distraced by the Montreal Masterclass, and all that came with that.

November's pics can be found here, and my entry in more detail here. So, without further ado, lets get on with December's challenge.

This month's theme is as follows:

* Joyeuse Fêtes *
L'horaire des Fêtes est souvent compliqué, avec les party de bureau et de famille, le voyagement et tout le tralala. Question d'alléger votre fardeau, le défi Colore... ton Monde vous fait un cadeau: le thème est ouvert. Peignez ce que vous voulez, aussi gros ou petit que vous le souhaitez. Joyeux Noël !

* Happy Holidays *
Timing during the holiday season is often complicated, with the office parties and family commitments, travel and all the tralala. Question d'alléger votre fardeau, le défi Colore... ton Monde vous fait un cadeau: le thème est ouvert. Paint what you want, as big or as small as you wish. Merry Christmas!

Easy enough, as there are two minis from the Masterclass that I can finish off. More likely to be Alexia, as she's nearly done, with just the hair and some belts to finish off.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tutorial: Painting Eyes

This is a write-up of the 7 stage method for painting eyes that Meg Maples taught at her Masterclass in Montreal. I have seen this technique explained in images before, but I cannot find the original post I read, so I decided to make my own images, as much for my own memory aid as it is a way for others to learn. Indeed, reading the tutorial I previously found was not enough for me to be able to replicate it, I needed to see it in the flesh to be able to do it myself.

Something to bear in mind is that not all minis need their eyes painted fully, especially not the rank an file. I once read in a historical minis magazine that if you were to see a human at a distance where they were 28-32mm high, there is no way you would be able to make out more than a darker slit where the eyes are, which is important to bear in mind when you're filling up units of grunts, however, for the leaders, and display models, the eyes make all the difference, it's where our eyes are first drawn to on the mini. That's just basic human psychology/biology, we look at faces and eyes first. So lets take the time to get them right when we can.

One important thing that must be stated, the better quality your brush, the easier it will be to follow these steps. I know for many of you this is a no brainer, but I cracked out the sables for this, and boy did I notice the difference!

When taking up a new model, paint the eyes first. That way you can take your time and get it right before going over the rest of the face, and you won't have to redo the face, as you might if you do the eyes last.

Base coat the skin tone on the face, then go on with the following 7 steps.

Stage 1. 
Paint the shape of the eye black. If you go too far with the black, you can redo the flesh base colour to tidy it up now.
Stage 2. 
Paint a second oval inside the eye in off-white (e.g. Menoth White Highlight). Do not try to do brushstrokes. Jab/spot the paint in.
Stage 3. 
Do a black spot for the pupil. This is where I used to stop, if even I got this far, before I tried this technique, and to be fair, on most minis, especially rank and file, it's enough. The placement of this dot determines the way the mini is looking, so take care to make sure she is looking where you want her to, and most importantly, that both eyes are looking in the same direction. If not, go back to stage 2 and redo.
Stage 4. 
Put a circle of colour inside the black circle. The brighter the colour the better, as dark shades will not be seen after the next step.
Stage 5.
Put a second black spot on top of the spot of colour. Do not centre the spot, but put it at the top of the colour circle, and leave a crescent of colour showing through.
Stage 6.
Put a small white spot on the last black circle. This time use pure white, not off-white. On a larger eye, like a bust, more than one spot of reflection may be required.
Stage 7 (optional).
Gloss coat the eye. This does two things. It protects the eye from paint somewhat when painting the rest of the face, and secondly, it gives the eye a wet look.

Not all minis will have eyes big enough to do all steps. In fact, I myself usually stopped at stage 3 before I tried this (and had the proper brushes), but if you do have space for all 7 it can really make a huge difference to the mini. It gives them a window to their soul!

So there you go, eyes painted à la Maples. What could be simpler?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Meg Maples Montreal Masterclass, Day 2

Day two of the Montreal Masterclass was yesterday, and I'll both done in, and wanting more. I'm super motivated to keep on going with the techniques I learned there, and to finish the models I started.
Another full day of learning, concentrating and soaking in all I can about painting techniques wiped me out, but there was so much information passed on by the wonderful Meg Maples that I'm still mentally digesting it this evening.

Using the same two brush blending, with a bit of glazing added in, we looked at skin tones hair and fur (with a side serving of feathers, but that tutorial can be found here) and OSL (Object source lighting), which, with the two brush blending and the right choice of paint, was made to look extremely easy. the other thing we worked on were eyes. The bane of my painting life these last 20 years or more, finally I have a technique that works, and works very well. I must admit I had seen tutorials for this way of doing eyes before, but it makes a huge difference to see it being done on front of you. She also spoke of doing freehand and water effects using UHU glue. Like I said, there was a lot of information to take in!

Here is the final condition of the minis I did some painting on over the weekend. As you can see, none are actually finished.

Now for some better pictures of the work I did over the weekend.

Elf King

This is a Reaper mini that I picked up for a WFB Wood Elf army. He had a little bit of everything we were practising at the weekend, so he has had a fair bit of work done on him. I'm not so happy with the metallics, but I do like his cloak. His hair was not painted by me, but by Meg, as an example of what to do (the hair on all the minis she brought was already done), so I can claim no credit for that. It was not painted to completion by her, she would continue it if it were her mini, but I didn't have the mojo to finish it. I did get into the right way of doing hair on the pink hair of the KoS below. I will be using his hawk to try painting feathers soon.



I'm very happy with the metallics on Alexia's sword. The deepest shade on there is coal Black with Umbral Umber, which looks almost black in the recesses. I have yet to have a go at using glazes on metals as was also suggested in the class.

Her eyes were a different matter. I restarted them 3 times. In the end I gave up (for now?) and painted her eyes in an inverse of the taught technique. Giving her a somewhat soulless look, which is fitting for her, if not exactly of Masterclass level.

VASA Knight(s) of the void.

I had two of these exceptional miniatures on the go at the weekend. This one I managed to do the eye and the hair to my satisfaction. I started on the body, but that may have to wait. I will be using her to do OSL on the cybernetic eye as well. Meg used the second of these minis to show how to do the OSL (she was running out of minis to show things on by the end of the session, so borrowed ours), and that is shown below.

As a shout out to those who I spoke to at the event that have a blog,  may I point you towards The Amazing Captain Spud, (his words, not mine) and to Yaum la Machine. Both great guys and exceptional painters whom I learned from too (as well as the many others I spoke to who either have no blog, or I am unaware of their blogs)

I had a great time over the weekend, and I learned a lot! I also broke out the sable brushes on the second day (for the eyes) and oh my, how they make a difference.  I'm a little bit in love with these little darlings now!

Finally: note to self, buy more Sanguine Base and Coal Black. They work on everything!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Meg Maples Montreal Masterclass, Day 1

This weekend in Montreal saw the last Masterclass to be held by Meg Maples in North America before she moves over to Australia. As a Christmas gift to me from my family, I went along. This was my first painting class of any kind, and I didn't know what to expect in terms of how many minis I would need, how many minis I would get through.

We were given a list of things we would need to bring, and a list of techniques we would try to get through. The first day started off with two brush blending. Before the class, I was aware of the existence of this technique, but that was about all. After a day of doing pretty much nothing bu that (the techniques was explained first for the very good reason that it was the basis of the other parts of the class) I think I'm staring to get the hang of it.

The minis I put on the table at the start of the day. There was no way I would get through that many, but it was good to have a selection to work from.

Cloak on a Reaper Wood Elf King, my first attempt at two brush blending.

Black Wolf Raiding Party Leader, an attempt at the same technique on smaller areas.

Alexia. I love this mini, and I have had her for years, but have not had the courage to paint her, as I didn't have the skill to do so to the level I though she required. No time like the present!

This mini was one where I was using the two brush blending technique to work on the metalllics. Hence all the work on the sword. I am happy with the way it turned out,  but the pictures do not do it justice, I promise better pictures after the second par of the course tomorrow.

So, I am back home with sore shoulders from hunching over under my lamp all day, and a sore head from concentrating so hard. I have never spent such a long time in one sitting painting before, and it was hard work, but the time flew past very quickly indeed. I have learned a lot, including that I need to learn more about colour theory. In addition to the technique of two brush blending, which I will not go into here, as that's what youtube is for, I learned that to get proper shading, you need to go darker than you think. For example, with the elf king's cloak in the first image, I initially went with a darker green, as per normal colour triads, but it just didn't show up at all. I soon plumped for Coal Black (P3), a dark purple/green black, which turned out to be perfect. I used this as a means of darkening pretty much all the shadows from then on. Mixing the Coal Black with an Umbral Umber (P3) gave the darkest shading on the metals too, looking like a proper black at the deepest parts of the shadows, whilst still maintaining an natural looks. I think I'll be using much more of this colour.

I'm really looking forward to tomorrow, as there is a whole lot more to learn, and I'm really excited to get these minis finished.