Saturday 28 December 2013

Wastrel #1

I used this one to finally try out my new Andrea Brown set. There are six colors in it; base, three lights and two shadows. The paints have a nice, mat look when applied but mixing them with water can be a bit tricky as they tend to lose their consistency. 
I used dark green for his vest and white with a light wash of brown to keep the color scheme consistent. And I'd known his hair would be red even before I started working on this mini.

The only thing I wasn't really able to get right were his eyes. I tried a few times but for some reason I didn't nail it this time. Maybe it's because his eyes are right below the line of his hat, which makes getting to them with a brush a challenge on its own.
This is the second mini from the Relic Hunters I've painted and I am really impressed with the amount of detail and personality packed into these miniatures. This one looks simply mean and his pose adds to this feel.

The base is a cast from Micro Art Studio. I applied a few layers of green wash to the gutter and added a layer of Vallejo Still water effect after varnishing but unfortunately that's not visible in the pictures.

Thursday 26 December 2013

Sidir Alchibal

I knew I'd be buying this miniature the moment I saw the artwork, regardless of the faction he'd belong to. It turned out he can be used for Guild so I was more than happy to order the Relic Hunter crew. It's been lying at the bottom of my cabinet for a few months but I finally got round to painting them, starting with Sidir.

The first thin you notice when you look at the miniature is that it's much larger than the other ones. He is a monster of a man and is a true giant.
His fluff is interesting, if somehow shadowy. He may have been a prince in the past who was disowned for his crimes. A some point, he run into Lucas McCabe and joined his crew of like-minded characters.

I didn't follow the color scheme from the artwork and chose to paint his sash red instead of blue. I felt that a warmer color would complement the color scheme better. Also, blue would make his skin look pale and I wanted to avoid that as I tried to make his skin look darker.
Painting his robes and turban was a great exercise in using white. I used several layers to make the transitions smooth. I worked with Andrea White Set, which is really great for this color. I also added some dry pigments to the bottom of his robe to make it look as if he had already seen some action. I left the boots unstained on purpose the effect wouldn't show on dark color anyway.
For the base I used Micro Art Studio's cobblestone cast. I got a few for my Relic Hunters and Riflemen.

 photo sidir_01-MOTION_zps0cbadae3.gif

Saturday 21 December 2013

A mad forester

I'd known this would be a hard mini to paint even before I started working on it. I had only the box artwork to follow as a reference for color scheme as there were no good pics of painted minis to be found online. 

Basically, he's a ranger that offers solid help with shooting and has a few traps that cost only a few soulstones. Well. at least that used to be the case with M 1.5 model. To add some twist to the model, Wyrd created this crazy forester dressed up in some rags and wearing a huge bear head trophy as a mask. He offered Guild some much needed shooting from distance and the possibility to ambush your opponent. Another little trick of his was using the cheap clockwork traps and activate them simultaneously to your opponent's models. That way, you could have the upper hand as you'd end up with your important models that haven't been activated yet.

I decided to prepare a tall rock as base for him to go in line with his fluff, I wanted to make him look as if he was scouting the terrain, setting up an ambush. I used bright colors at first and then toned them down with several washes and glazes to get the worn-out, dirty look. I also used dry pigments on the traps to get this rusty look.

I wasn't happy with the fact that all 4 of the traps are identical and decided to make some changes. I cut a little, glued one at a different angle and used some leftovers for Pathfinder's base. Speaking of base, I went for a swampy look. I started by applying a thin layer of Gs. When it dried completely, I continued work with LGS to create some texture. After that, I painted it using a few different shades of green and ended with applying a few layers of Vallejo Still Water. You can see a better pic focusing on the bases below.

Monday 16 December 2013

Old and new - LJ and her crew

The original LJ metal box was one the the main reasons I became interested in Malifaux in the first place. I was blown away when I saw the minis for the first time and the jumping Death Marshal became my favorite instantly. All the miniatures have interesting fluff and are quite unconventional. From a busty sword-wielding blind lady who is called Justice to half-alive, half-dead Death Marshals who use their magically enhanced coffins as weapons. The Judge nicely fit in with his hidden identity theme. Scales of Justice was an addition and unlike the new version, had to be bought separately. Anyway, without further ado, here's my take on the original and the new plastic box.

The new Death Marshals are more dynamic and probably even more over-the-top. While I like the subtle, slightly menacing feel to the old ones, these definitely look good too. The main drawback is the scale issue as the kneeling one is much larger than the other two. That wouldn't be a problem if his gear was the same size but it's bigger too. While the flaming skulls are pretty cool, I really like the grim expressions on the metal DMs.

I wrote more about the new Judge yesterday. It's definitely a different take on this character. He looks more mysterious and the addition of hat is a nice touch. The problem is that his glasses (one of his most characteristic features in the original version) are partly hidden beneath it and can't really be seen unless you hold the miniature upside down. The pose of the plastic version is more dynamic, which is nice. The problem, however, is that it's really hard to glue him to the base as his feet are too wide apart. It can be easily fixed with some basework but if you're not into this aspect of the hobby than it might be a serious issue for you.
I couldn't help but point to my favorite version of this mini - the one from Dead Justice set. While it no longer holds the dead/undead? theme, it nicely shows off the zombie in Judge.

The original LJ miniature is awesome with some fantastic details and a nice pose but she was was too large and towered over the rest of her crew. I would normally use the alternative metal version as it fit with the crew much better. The new version is in a very nice dynamic pose, though her hair has caused some controversy. Personally, I don't mind it. The main problem I see with this version is that her sword is glued only in one place where the blade meets the hilt and that simply isn't going to be enough if you plan to use it for gaming and that's the reason why I reinforced it by gluing the blade to her fringe.

In general I like both the old and new versions very much but Scales of Justice is a big improvement in comparison to the metal model. The plastic version looks much more serious, even though it is a bit of an overkill (cross, nails, fire).

So, which version do you like more?

Sunday 15 December 2013

One more Judge

I've finally finished painting the contents of "The Guild Judgement" box. The Judge was the last one I was left with. Similarly to other minis from this box, I used the classic color scheme. I like working with white on clothes, especially when the sculpt has many folds to play with shadows while highlighting. Also, adding the dirt effects using dry pigments is easier with this color.

To keep with the original color scheme, I also painted his bandanna blue. While it plays with the classic idea, now that I look at it, I think red might work better here. Maybe I'll repaint it one day but I guess I'll leave it this way for now.
Placing him on the base was a bit problematic as it was pretty much impossible to keep both of his feet within the base. I ended up using a resin base that has some broken tombstones. While working on this model, I also painted the puppet version.

 I found painting the hair a challenge as there's not much texture there and I needed several highlights to avoid a flat look there. I really like the plastic puppets. All seem to have their own personality and portray the original character with a pinch of salt.
I'll try to write a more detailed comparison of the old and new LJ crews (with pics) tomorrow so stay tuned.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Dolores Clairbone

I like books that make me think about ideas that I would normally never even consider. In "Dolores Clairbone" the idea is that murder can actually be a good thing (under certain circumstances).
The story is narrated from a first person perspective and it opens with the protagonist's statement. Dolores claims that her confession will be completely true and that whatever she did, she was always thinking about her children first. She is accused of murdering her rich employer, an eccentric lady called Vera Donovan. She looked after her for several years and it seems to have more than a few reasons to kill her. Dolores also states that she did murder her husband but quickly adds that all will be explained in her account of the story.

From there, her tale begins. There are no chapters and the narrative flows smoothly as Dolores tells the story of her life. Dolores is a plain woman so the language is fairly simple but I felt it added depth to the account. Nothing is exaggerated, there are no fancy similes. The story isn't too complicated but it is a good one. As a narrator, Dolores goes into detail when she talks about emotions and these are some of the best elements of her story. Nothing is black or white there, no pure hatred of beautiful love. Shades of grey and pragmatism dominate her account.

The novel offers some interesting insights into family and social relations in the 1950s/60s. The society was patriarchal and the role of man as the main breadwinner was still dominant. As a result, people were willing to turn a blind eye to things like black eye on a woman's face or treated is as a natural consequence of man exercising his rights as the head of the family.
The supernatural element is there but it's not prominent. Actually, it might be one of the few King's novels where there are hardly any supernatural elements to influence the fate of protagonists. The small bits that are there are smoothly interwoven into the narrative and don't influence the plot significantly. It's not a long novel (it is about 300 pages long) but it reads very well. 5-/6

Monday 9 December 2013

Carry your cross

This was the first mini that drew my attention in the new LJ plastic crew. The new totem is a really impressive sculpt with lots of details on it. Actually, I felt that there's even a bit too much of it.

The poor fellow has committed some kind of crime and as a result Lady Justice saw it fit to inflict all kinds of punishment on him. He's carrying a heavy wooden cross, suffers from the oppressive heat of burning embers on metal scales hanging from it, is wounded with large metal nails plunged in several places on his body and last but not least, is forced to wear a metal mask. This definitely sends a strong "don't mess with us" message to Guild's opponents.

As cruel as it is, I find it hard to imagine someone actually being able to withstand such punishment for an extended period of time. The fluff hints that it may actually be a different person in this position each time LJ needs her Totem.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I like the new sculpt. Even though it's slightly over the top with all the painful additions, it still looks much more serious and menacing than the original metal sculpt. I'll definitely have to take a few side by side pictures to compare the original metal version of LJ's crew with the new plastic one. That will have to wait until I've finished painting the Judge, which shouldn't take too long.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Doctor Sleep

I can't believe it's already been more than a month since I read "Doctor Sleep". Time flies by I guess... Commercially, it was bound to be a success as the novel follows the event presented in "The Shining" - a very popular book that became even more famous after Kubrick's excellent screening with a very memorable part played by Jack Nicholson. King's classic tale of the Overlook hotel, a place filled withe evil presence, is a story of a man's gradual descent into insanity. Jack Torrance is an alcoholic prone to fits of anger and his wife and son are pretty much in constant fear of what this mentally unstable man can do.

The main protagonist of "Doctor Sleep" is Danny Torrance, son of Jack. As a child he used to be a quiet, introverted boy. He also had the special "gift", referred to as shining. He tries very hard not to follow in his father's footsteps but he learns that escaping from your past and striving to be someone else that your father ended up being is not that easy. Similarly to Jack, Dan struggles with problems with alcohol and drugs. He is unable to find a place for himself and wanders without purpose. That is the case until he finds a job in a nursing home, where he can finally put his talent into good use helping the elder patients in their final moments. He becomes known as doctor Sleep. Dan's story is interwoven with that of Abra Stone, a girl who grows up discovering and trying to understand her great talent (shining as well but on a much larger scale). The two protagonists establish a telepathic relationship. We soon learn that Abra is in danger of "The True Knot", a group of ancient vampire-like creatures that feed on the shining. In order to consume it, they kidnap, torture and kill children who possess it.

I think that "Doctor Sleep" is the best King's book about dying since "Insomnia". I really liked the way he described the final moments of patients of the nursing home Dan works in. There's depth and some interesting imagery in these descriptions. These descriptions are quite powerful with all the vivid memories that Dan experiences with his patients but sadness is not a dominant feeling there. I also liked the way King shows how difficult it is to avoid your genetic and mental heritage. The antagonists are also presented in an interesting way. They're not just superhuman beings of unlimited power - they have their own problems, both physical and emotional. It makes them a bit more human but at the same time I never felt that what they do can be justified in any way. Also, Dan Torrent is an interesting character as he often acts in a selfish, sometimes even immoral way but it's not that easy to actually judge him, knowing his past and the way his father traumatized his early years. For me, this moral ambiguity was one of the novel's greatest strengths. Overall, it's a very solid read. You don't need to read "The Shining" to enjoy "Doctor Sleep" but it definitely helps. 4+/6

EDIT: I chose this cover as I like the subtlety in it. It also shows the cat that wasn't perhaps significant for the plot but he had an important function as he would always pay a brief visit to those about to pass away in the nursing home. 

Friday 29 November 2013

Lighting things up

I've recently come across a very interesting article on one of my favorite hobby-related blogs, Colored Dust. It it basically a review of a desk working lamp. A very good read and judging from the comments below it, a very good product too. After thinking it over for a while, I decided to order the lamp for my workspace. Below you can see two pictures that compare lighting in my previous setup to one with the VTLAMP6.

That was the previous setup. As you can see, the light is a bit more yellowish (even though special daylight light bulbs were used). It worked pretty well but the main downside for me was that only limited area on the desk was lit well. Moreover, the lamps heated up after a while. Small thing, but it was particularly irritating on hot summer evenings.

As you can see in the pics above (showing the effect of VTLAMP6), the light has more white in it and spreads over a larger surface. It is shed from a higher point so the larger size of lamp doesn't feel overwhelming. And one more thing - it doesn't block the view to the screen of my PC, which means that I don't have to sit directly in front of it now.

I'm quite happy with my purchase right now. I'll have to spend a few longer painting sessions in the new setup to for a final opinion but I think it's definitely an improvement and I can recommend the lamp to all of you night owls.
I left various random things on the desk to show you how different objects and colors look in both versions. I didn't ask the cat to pose for the pics. He just decided he wants to be there. Cats don't ask for permission, they just do what they feel like doing.

One more thing - it's Black Friday in the US, which means that there are many good deals in the hobbyland. Wyrd Games has organized a sale and offered interesting deals. I'm a sucker for limited minis, especially when it comes to the Guild so I picked the Torch and the Blade alond with the pre-order of the Latigo Posse. I've also ordered the new Mini Rulebook, Foil Fate Deck, Governor's proxy (should be more useful in game than Scales of Justice with his healing ability) along with two limited minis - the Carver and War Rooster. I'm also going to get the new alternate Perdita miniature, which is a sweet model. If you're interested - go ahead and check out the deals that are still there.

Sunday 24 November 2013

What's scary?

"We take refuge in make-believe terrors so the real ones don't overwhelm us, freezing us in place an making it impossible for us to function in our day-to-day lives. We go into the darkness of a movie theater hoping to dream badly, because the world of our normal lives looks ever so much better when the bad dream ends..."
Stephen King from the new introduction to "Danse Macabre".

I guess that's a pretty good explanation for why I read his books.

Saturday 23 November 2013

Baba Jaga

Here's my second entry from this year's Rotten Harvest - Baba Jaga. I entered her into the "Witches and Warlocks" category but the competition there was quite strong and in the end she didn't get to top 3. I painted her as a gift for my father's birthday who used to read and make up his own tales to me and my brothers when we were kids. He has a fantastic, deep voice and does a really good job of creating a unique atmosphere while reading/telling tales. Those stories are some of my fondest memories from the childhood.

 Baba Jaga is a mythical creature that is common for Slavic folklore. She is usually presented as an old, disgusting woman who lives deep in the forest. Her only companions are wild animals and other, often supernatural beings. She is almost always accompanied by a black cat, a crow or a snake. There are some tales in which Baba Jaga is kind to honest and brave heroes but mostly she is a malevolent being who enjoys making other people's lives miserable. In some stories she even captures people (mostly children), only to kill and devour them. Despite all her flaws, she is also an ancient creature who is strongly attached to nature and, if pushed, will do everything to protect it. This twisted character can also be seen in modern literature. Rhea of Coos from Stephen King's "Dark Tower" is a good example. Not to mention Zoraida from the Bayou...

I've always enjoyed these folklore tales. Seeing how how various artists portray Baba Jaga has always been fascinating for me. I knew that I would eventually try to paint a miniature that is close to my vision of Baba Jaga. Wyrd's Cauldron Witch fit perfectly. An old woman wearing worn out rags and holding a black cat by its tail. I'd probably like it even more if she was on a broom but a cauldron suits her just as well. After choosing the proper miniature I knew that I would try to emphasize the fact that she is flying. In order to do that, I prepared tall rocks and placed two trees made of wire and plenty of green stuff on top of them. 

Attaching the Autumn foliage took forever as I had to glue every small bit separately. I also painted the base so that it would look like a swamp and finished it off by adding two small tufts of grass and covering it with a few layers of Vallejo still water. I also used a special paint to make the contents of her cauldron glow in the dark. And that's pretty much it, my Baba Jaga is ready to leave her forest. She's most likely up to no good.

Thursday 21 November 2013

Rotten Harvest 2013

Well, the results are in and this time round one of my two entries was voted second in The Trick or the Treat category. I'll write more about the second entry which failed to get to top 3 in a separate entry.

Death Marshals are the models that got me interested in Malifaux in the first place. The original metal miniatures were the first I painted for the game. I loved the new plastic versions the moment I saw the artwork. I think they fit in with the Halloween theme of the Rotten Harvest very well. Half alive, half undead. In the service of "humanity" but using methods in their work that can be described as anything but humane. They are specially trained to help with the Ressurectionist threat but are used freely whenever Guild's business needs to betaken care of.
I used the "classic" color scheme. I like it a lot and I also thought it would nicely contrast with the greenish flames. The flames were finished off with a glow in the dark medium.
While I really like the dynamism of these sculpts, there's one thing that bothers me. The kneeling one is completely out of scale. He's much larger, which could be OK on its own. However, his coffin and Peacebringer are also way too big compared to the other two.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Justified absence?

I guess there's no point starting with the obvious (long time no post, life getting in the way etc.). Let's just say that the last couple of weeks have been as busy as usually. Another thing that slows me down is that I'm working on a few different minis simultaneously.
First of all, I've finally painted the avatar version of Lady Justice. I bought it when... Maelstrom games was still around, so that must have been a longer while ago. For some reason I've been putting working on this one away.
LJ has always been one of my favorite Malifaux characters and the original metal box was the first one I bought for the game. I used the "classic" Justice color scheme and the greenish flame effect to match the rest of the new crew (I was inspired by the original artwork on the Guild's Judgement box). I also painted some OSL around the eyes of the monsters.
I'm really impressed with the design of this model as it's all cast it metal and everything has stayed perfectly intact since gluing the whole thing together. The only potential problem I predict is that if the Ram or Crow is touched and bent even slightly, the paint on LJ's forearms is bound to chip off.

As I was working on the avatar, I also painted the new plastic version of Justice. While I really like the dynamic pose, I'm not entirely sold on the way her hair go up. It might (how would I know, I'm practically bald myself ;) look like that if she's just landed from some considerable height but still it seems a bit odd to me. Her sword is another problematic bit. In the original design it's glued only at the place where the blade meets the hilt so it's bound to break at the first chance. In order to strengthen it, I also glued it to also to her fringe. It partly blocks her face now but that's not a big problem as she's wearing a band anyway.

Enough complaining. Other than those two bits I really like the miniature. She's dynamic, proportions are perfect (more natural compared to the original larger and busty metal version).Wyrd plastics offer a lot of possibilities for practicing highlighting. There are many smooth surfaces (skin, pants, boots) that need several layers of thinned down paint to look right.
I used Cemetery resin bases from Micro Art Studio as I thought they fit the theme of this Anti-Ressurectionist crew very well.

Aaaand, I also painted the puppet version of LJ. I won a sprue of sample plastic puppets in a painting competition a while ago. The one that you can see in the pic above is cast in one piece and the plastic has a very solid feel to it. I really like the sculpt, I think it does a fantastic job of portraying the original character in a tongue-in-cheek manner. The details look nice though once again, the smooth surfaces may be seen as a drawback for some. Personally, I don't mind them. I actually feel that they give me extra opportunities to practice working with thinned down paint and with applying smooth highlights but I can understand that for some it may be a lot of unnecessary hustle.

Last but not least, here's a group photo of all the LJ minis I own. I don't have the original metal puppet but I don't plan to get it as I really like the plastic one.
I currently have several Malifaux projects on my painting station in various stages of progress so if anyone's interested in seeing some more Guild stuff, check back soon.

Sunday 27 October 2013

How my wife saved the day

I've mentioned it earlier - I wasn't a big fan of the latest Wyrd Miss. It seemed to me that they just put her as an extra to make Arcanist players happy. I changed my mind when I finally got the mini, put it together and glued it to a factory-themed base.
I encountered a major problem as I was finishing work on the mini. At some point when I was about to add the final touches, I noticed that she was... missing one hand. It somehow snapped off and got lost. I was looking for it everywhere with my nose to the floor and even looked into the vacuum cleaner. I had no success and gave up, feeling extremely frustrated.

At this point my wife started looking for the missing part. It took her about two minutes and she had it. It was among here jewellery in another room. I have two suspects, both are small and furry but so far they've been keeping silent about the whole incident.

Its limbs are thin and seem fragile at first glance but the miniature stays together solidly. The only problem was that pinning those mechanical legs is pretty much impossible. I ended up drilling small holes in the base and attaching the pointy edges of her legs there.

Since there's so much of metal on this model, I decided to contrast it with pale skin. I also added a bright, vivid base. I made sure that there are at least a few different colors of bricks to add some variety. A few glazes and washes did the trick.

I've also finished some other stuff but won't be publishing pictures of these projects as I will be entering them in the Rotten Harvest painting competition.

Saturday 26 October 2013

United we stand, divided we fall (it's good to be back)

Dear Lord it's been a while since I've been here. I guess trying to make it as a lawyer does that to you :)

I'm pleased to report that (finally) I have some time to make up with brushes and paints and try to paint something again :D

For now I'll leave you with old, but still nice, pics of Ultramarines Terminators Batch, that I've finished about a year ago (has it been so long!?) but didn't have time to post them here. you go I hope you enjoy them.

On that note, I'd like to share some epic music I discovered (pretty late I guess):

Until next post ! (which will happen sooner than next year I hope :) )

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Kindness For Weakness

For some reason this song has been playing at the back of my head for the last few days. I really like the positive energy in it - seems like I need a lot of it now :)

On a hobby side of news - something that I found really interesting. Knight Models, creators of many awesome minis, have published a preview of Rorschach for their upcoming Watchmen range. It's definitely a range I'd be interested in.

Monday 14 October 2013

No Ma'am Malifaux Painting Competition #2 and #3

It's a long story so to cut it short - two of my works were entered into a painting competition and... I ended up with the second and third places. One of the Stitched Together took #2

And the Dreamer ended up taking the third place.

I'm very happy about it as I ended up receiving a sprue with plastic puppets.

Lovely minis, the details look fantastic and they're full of character. Expect to see more on them here soon :)

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