Friday, 29 August 2014

Monks of Low River

I painted up these three as part of my TT project. These guys are really well cast with some nice details on their armor and weapons. I'm not completely sold on their cloaks though, they look a tad unnatural to me. 
I used Zen base inserts for them. I like the fact that they turn out so bright. That helps liven up the whole piece a little. I typically paint using darker, toned down colors so doing the bases with brighter colors is what I might just try long term as it nicely sets the whole miniature. 
I played a little with brown glazes and silver highlights on their armors and I'm quite happy with the result. I used gold on their staffs on purpose. While I realize that it's a relatively soft metal and no one would use it as a weapon (especially a blunt one), these gyus are not really fighters. Read on to learn why.

The Monks of Low River are some of the cheapest models available for Ten Thunders. At 4 SS they bring in some mobility, debuffing, pretty solid resistance (they're immune to Poison, Burning and Slow) to damage and... no damage output. I can see them as debuffers and minions used to lock other, more powerful ones in melee. With their nice defensive tricks they could be used to tie dangerous opponents and buy time for the rest of the crew. Tricky models to use to say the least.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

The Alloy of Law

The novel is set three hundred years after events presented in the Mistborn trilogy. The world has moved on and technology has kicked in. But magic is still there, and it has also evolved. New type of humans with magical skills are introduced here - the Twinborn. These people can combine some skills of Allomancer with those of Ferruchemist. I thought it was an interesting twist as it wasn't too much off the beaten track and the implications of a combination like that should be familiar enough to anyone who has read the Mistborn books. Also, combining magic that relies on manipulating metals with a world going through technological revolution is a nice choice. Firearms and trains fit well into the world of Allomancers and Ferruchemists. 

The plot doesn't strike as original and interesting at first. The protagonist, Waxillium "Wax" Ladrian, travels from the Roughs (a Frontier-like setting) to the capital city (Elendel - rings a bell, doesn't it?) after learning about his uncle's death. He assumes the duties of head of the house and gets involved in running business as well as finding his place among the city's nobles. Wax soon learns that life in this new place can be as dangerous and wild as in the Roughs and that he cannot really put his work as a lawman completely behind him. He is accompanied by Wayne, a young bandit-turned-lawman, who is also a twinborn with a very peculiar set of skills. I thought that Wayne was a bit too goofy and laid back to be treated seriously and I actually wished Sanderson had toned this character down a little.

"The Alloy of Law" offers some interesting insights into how progress affected the medieval-live setting of world presented in the Mistborn series. It's well structured and coherent with decently developed characters. I suppose anyone familiar with Sanderson's previous work will enjoy reading this one as well. Once again, he shows that he excels at leading the reader on, only to throw enough twists in the plot in the end to make them see everything in entirely new light. By forcing a new perspective on events that happen in the novel he also set things up for what might be a very intriguing continuation of the story.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Yellow Thunder #2

 Here's the second part of my ongoing TT project. The challenge that these minis pose on the assembly stage is legendary so I won't go into details about that part. Let's just say that the number of parts these models are made of is surprisingly large number of small parts. The good thing is that they fit together nicely.
TT archers are a very interesting option to support crews lacking shooting, such as Misaki's. Giving the opponent a Slow condition can be devastating with Ototo around (especially since these guys can fire into engaged models without the need to randomize the target). Hail of Hachinosu, their 2AP action, is another one where they can really cause some trouble. At Rg 12 they can inflict up to 4 damage (and that with 2 blasts!).

Two of these have very dynamic posed so I wanted to make them stand out even more. I used two pillars (resin casts I found in my bits box) for extra elevation. I like to do that, especially with miniatures that have a very static pose. I just think it adds a little bit of dynamism to them. At least that was my thinking while preparing the one on the left. The middle one is crouching so it made sense to put him on something that would give him a better vantage point. I had some problems with the right one. I knew I had to glue him in at least two places. I pinned him left foot but there was no way he was going stay put. That's why I used a 30 mm pewter base insert and glued his robe to it. I wasn't very happy with the result but at least the link should be stronger.

The color scheme is the same I've used on the Torakage. Painting them went a bit faster as I'd already had some experience of working with yellow. The Low River monks are up next. I plan to use the artwork color scheme which means returning to my comfort zone - working with darker. muted colors.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


This series was recommended to me by a friend of mine who is an avid fantasy reader. I do enjoy reading books from this genre and it seemed like summer holidays were a good time to pick a series to read. I did enjoy following Vin's story and immersing myself in the world of the Final Empire.

The story focuses on Kelsier - a thief and an allomancer (I'll get to that in a second) who is attempting to cause the downfall of an empire that has existed for centuries. In order to achieve that he has to organize the needed military force from people who seem to be deprived of all their will to fight after ages of enslavement. He also needs to meddle with the complex political system. And last but not least, he must challenge the Lord Ruler who appears to be is a godlike being or immense power. Kelsier forms an elite thieving crew and begins his work.

The characters presented by Sanderson fall into certain types; an astute politician, a reckless and charismatic leader, strong and charismatic general, shy girl who hasn't yet discovered the depths of her powers, loyal servant. At first it seemed shallow and too standardized. However, the author manages to make them interesting and their interactions add an extra layer of complexity to them.
It took me a while to get used to how magic functions in the world created by Sanderson. It's not a force of nature or manifestation of faith. Here it's connected with... metals. There are two basic types of "magicians" here. An allomancer has the power to "burn" certain types of metals and take advantage of the effects they have on strength, stamina, sight. They can also manipulate the environment as long as there are metal elements around. In total there are 16 types of metals and each has different effects on the allomancer that uses them. And then there are the rare Mistborn - those who can use all types. Feruchemy is the second type of magic. A feruchemist can store certain powers in metals and use them when they're needed. Such a person can choose to stay ill for a prolonged period of time in order to store enough power to be able to heal instantly and cure even a deadly wound when needed. And there is also a third type of magic but I don't won't to spoil the fun of discovering it to those who haven't read through the first two books yet.
I also liked the description of Iron Inquisitors - some really mean dudes who have iron spikes hammered through their eye sockets. They are the ultimate law force and mst loyal servants of Lord Ruler. Their powers seem unlimited too... There are also the Kandra and the Koloss, other intriguing creatures inhabiting the world of Final Empire. But I won't go into details as to who they are and what they do as it would spoil the fun of discovering it on one's own.

Sanderson's writing is very dynamic and the books are written in a way that makes putting them down hard. I often caught myself going for "just another chapter" and reading three or four more. There are often various perspectives from which the plot is narrated and each brings something else to the whole. The cast of distinctly different protagonists also helps with immersing the reader in the story. I particularly enjoyed reading fragments that presented Sazed as his wisdom, vision of the world and sense of purpose was something that set him apart from other characters. The only thing that I thought was not explored that well by Sanderson were the male-female relationships. I don't expect interactions that are physical and perverse to the point of pathology, such as some that were shown in the "Game of Thrones" but it seemed to me that there was lack of strong emotions here.

If I was to describe Mistborn in two words, I'd say "clever fantasy". Everything is well organised here. The world, various castes and the way magic works. And the plot - even events that are seemingly unsurprising and should have an obvious outcome can add a new surprising twist to the story. The first tome ended with what appeared to be a hard-fought victory but there was one line said by the antagonist that made me think whether the protagonists have actually done a good thing. The consequences of their actions resonate heavily throughout book 2 and 3 and just when you begin to understand them, there's another twists that puts everything in new context. There seems to be a certain pattern to these books. Each one has a cliffhanger that is resolved by desperate actions of protagonists. Yet each time Sanderson manages to surprise the readers by creating circumstances in which these actions can be seen in a different light.

And just one more thing - from now on I'm going to refer to models cast in metal as made of pewter (not just metal). Anyone who's read at least one novel from this series will understand why ;)

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Yellow Thunder #1

I haven't really had many opportunities to use yellow color while painting miniatures. I think my gritty style doesn't really go well with it. That's why painting the Torakage proved a challenge.
I wanted to stay close to the original artwork and its vivid yellow but at the same time I felt I won't be able to completely forget about my painting style. 
Putting them together was fast and easy as all the individual bits fit nicely together. Not much GS was needed. I has a slight problem with the largest one as he barely fits a 30mm base to pinning him to it wasn't easy. I also decided to glue the smallest one in two places as she simply wouldn't last glued just by one small foot. 

The main challenge was that yellow has very weak pigment. At least the paints I used do (Army Painter, Reaper). GW's base yellow paints (I still have half a pot of Tausept Ochre and Iyanden Darksun) helped but they were still way too dark.
It took numerous layers to build the shade you can see in the picture. At the same time, I didn't want the black parts to be too dark and placed a few highlights there too.

In the end they turned out OK I guess, The yellow is rich and saturated but not too vivid and doesn't stand in too much contrast to black. Bright colors on bases also helped with maintaining this balance.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Burnt Offerings 2014

Well, better luck next time I guess. Neither of my entries in the 2014 Wyrd online painting competition was successful. I think that the winning entries were the most eye-catching, either the most colorful or using a background that really drew attention. I'm not saying that with disrespect as all the winners prepared really stunning pieces. It just seems to me that in an online competition you need to prepare something that will be immediately striking and easily memorable to the viewer. In traditional competitions the judges have more time to look at the entries in detail and appreciate all the small nuances. In online contest first impression is essential. I'll have to keep that in mind for next online painting competitions...
Now that the results are officially known I can at least share the pictures here. I'll start with the entry that took the most time to prepare.

Nicodem and his crew - the Open Graves

Nicodem and his undead minions was a natural choice for me in the crew category. I thought that these would benefit most from my gritty style and use of dark colors. I also like painting undead skin and have achieved some skill in getting it to look properly undead. However, I didn't expect to have so much work putting them together. The Punk Zombies minis are so flimsy! They're very thin, especially their limbs. Pinning them to the bases (metal base inserts) wasn't easy.

Mortimer was a fun piece to work with. He is an undertaker, so naturally his clothes are very dark. I had to use various shades of dark brown and carefully work my way up with highlights on black. His backpack with various unhealthy contents proved a much needed element of contrast and I could throw in a touch of lighter shades there.
I used Ghost Town base inserts throughout the whole crew. I think Nicodem is one of the epitomes of Malifaux. A true combination of various, often extremely different elements. There's a necromancer, some steampunk elements, zombies that sport mohawks and Katanas. It only seemed right to add a wild west theme to that mix.

Killjoy is a true beast. In game you don't ever want to face him. He easily unleashes powerful attacks, heals himself and what's more, he can even begin the game buried, popping up in the most inconvenient place for the opponent. He spends most of the time in Malifaux sewers (hence the base with slime coming from the gutter and on his feet).

The miniature reflects much of it and goes well with his fluff. He's quite disgusting, the flabby stomach with intestines protruding from the middle is certainly a nasty sight. His ugly, inhuman face doesn't help either. Working on large skin areas wasn't easy as it required numerous layers of thinned down paint to get the highlights right. I also added some gore effects to the front of the model, focusing on the wounded stomach and weapons. Once again, I used Blood for the Blood God with some addition of Brown and Red P3 inks to keep the color richer and more saturated.

And last but not least - a Ten Thunders Warlord. I had originally intended to enter him in the competition in the diorama category (the piece needed to have at least two models) but the admins suggested moving it to single category. And since Killjoy had already been there, this one has to stay put.
Fuhatsu used to be a respected warrior before he had an accident. As a result, he must be at all times followed by his loyal servants whose job is to make sure he is properly armed for battle. And properly dressed for battle, which is not always a success.
With armor +2 and a powerful minigun that can hand out damage in blasts he can be a game changer.

The model is... well, it's way over the top to say it's not ridiculous. But it makes him even better. A mad giant with an enormous weapon pushed into battle by two scrawny peons. I used a Zen-themed base insert with stairs as I thought it would add even more dynamism to the miniature. Also, the red added a bit more warmth as the servants' clothes are painted using colder shades.
I'm going to paint a few more minis from Ten Thunders. I am currently enjoying plenty of free time so some updates on my current TT project should appear here later this week.

And one more thing - new issue of Wyrd Chronicles was released yesterday. As always, lots of cool stuff inside. New Fate Deck (in light and dark versions), a battle report, some stories, painting article and Gencon previews. I think I will be getting Dreamer and Lucious. And maybe a few more things is more stuff is released.

Update: 2014 Miss miniature has been revealed, it's a Teddy called Miss Ery

Friday, 1 August 2014

It's this time of year again...

...and Wyrd is beginning to show more artworks of their new releases. So far this one has been my favorite :

I think I'll be getting rid of the old metal version of Pale Rider. It's OK but I've never been a big fan of that version. The new one is going to be much better for sure.
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