Friday, 11 October 2019

Mighty Scorpius and Paul Crocketts

Two minis I've painted recently with extra copies. Always a pleasure to paint a model for the first time. UV lime fluo resin used for the first time to, great stuff!

Sunday, 6 October 2019

#18/2019 The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

In this business book, consultant and speaker Patrick Lencioni, puts forward a model that aims to identify 5 key dysfunctions of a team that doesn't perform well (or 5 elements that work well in a good team if you look at it from another perspective.

He brings them up in astory of Kathryn Petersen, newly appointed CEO of fictional company. She is portrayed as a perfect boss who always does the right thing. While it might seem a tad naive, the author smoothly uses this background to put his ideas into tangible context. Situations that Kate faces are not extraordinary, and she is always able to use the right too(s) to solve conflicts and plan ahead. These allow Lenconi to really drive his point and present more argument for using the model he proposes. While this approach might be perceived as 'touchy-feely', I'd say its relative simplicity makes it a tool that is more easily applicable.

The five dysfunctions are:

1. Absence of trust - the fear o being vulnerable in front of the team limits opportunities of building trust.
2. Fear of conflict - maintaining status quo for the sake of artificial harmony can be destructive as it makes productive discussion very challenging.
3. Lack of commitment - if the goals aren't clearly defined and not everyone is able to participate in the process, making decisions becomes too complicated.
4. Avoidance of accountability - if teams are determined to avoid interpersonal discomfort, and fear making one another uncomfortable, small issues fester and become much more problematic with limited chances of fixing them.
5. Inattention to results - focusing on personal goals does not go in line with collective ones and more often than not one will need to shift their priorities to accommodate group goals.

#17/2019 The Institute

I was bitterly disappointed with King's last couple of novels so I approached this one with caution. At first it felt like good old Stephen King but the familiarity I initially found comfort in soon turned into something else. It's hard to put my finger on what that is exactly but as I kept on reading I found myself rediscovering familiar tropes, characters. While it made me feel comfortable as a Constant Reader, it didn't feel refreshing. Over the years and dozens of novels written by King that I've read, I've come to appreciate him for two main skills. Building an atmosphere and using meaningful stories for characters who don't play major role in the story. These small additions were often very memorable. Brother of one of main characters from "The Dark Tower" who replied to all questions by saying: Johnny Cash, people who survived the initial wave of virus in the Stand only to have their lives cut short (the runner, the girl who locked herself up in the icehouse). They really helped with setting the right tone. And these appear here in a way but they don't have that kind of impact...
The story begins in a small town of DuPray. Tim Jamieson, a former cop who was forced to quit his job due to an unfortunate accident, starts working as a night knocker there (a kind of security guy who works at night). After this initial start, the plot shifts to Luke Ellis, a young prodigy who is about to begin a new chapter in his impressive education career. Hi life changes drastically as he is kidnapped and locked in "the Institute", an under the radar place where children who may have telepathic skills are kept. As he tries to survive there, he soon discovers the real reason behind keeping kids with psychic powers there. This leads him to a decision that will affect not only him, but also potentially the entire humankind. 
"The Institute" is a solid page-turner, by far better than couple of King's recent books put together. It lacks elements that a person who's read more than 60 books by King could find surprising and innovative, and it's nowhere near as good as his best books like "Green Mile" or "The Stand", but it is a good read nonetheless.

#16/2019 Homo Deus

A very interesting take on the current state of humanity. The author aims to give a comprehensive answer to questions of our origin. current existence and future of mankind. He combines elements of history, philosophy, biotechnology, as well as other sciences in a seamless way. As a result, 21st century is seen as the age of greatest change in mankind's history. 
Death is one of the main topics he discusses. If people are at some point able to achieve immorality, how would this affect our society and inter-human relations? The conclusions he puts forward are both interesting and slightly troubling.
Can happiness be achieved? If we take a biotechnological point of view, we could talk about flipping the "happiness switch" and the ca[ability of experiencing the joy without having any actual reason for it.
These discussions are contrasted with some surprising statistical data. Nowadays more people die as a result of suicide than as casualties of war. There are more deaths as a result of obesity than starvation. 
Harari's book can lead to some serious reflections on who we are and what's in store for us. Despite the potential of technological achievements, many of these thoughts are worrying.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Fae Killjoy

I painted this model for Wyrd a couple of years ago. New edition and allegiance change meant that I wanted to approach it slightly differently. I used some a bit from GW's skulls set instead of his face. I have also removed the ball from chain and added a fragment to make it look like the hook is dragged behind him. 
Swamp on the base was created mainly with Green Stuff world's UV resin - this is a true game changes, so much easier to use than standard water effects. 
This model was a great opportunity to finally test painting minis with oil paints. I bought a set of Oil Brushers from MiG a while ago. Large surfaces of skin are typically harder to highlights as they need numerous layers of watered down paints for smooth finish. Here I only added 2-3 basic highlights to create some contrast and then worked with dark brown and white oils. I have also applied some glazes with red, green, and purple oil mixes on parts of skin and skull. Overall, I'm very happy with the effect. Oils make highlighting and shading much easier. One thing that may be a bit tricky is applying standard acrylics over them as you need to put varnish first but that's not a biggie. I can't wait to test these on larger models (such as Eurypides and his giants when they are released). 

Monday, 23 September 2019

Malifaux and contrasts

I've finally been able to put contrast paints into more serious use. While working on Vogel + the Beast Within, I followed these steps:
1. Black Basecoat
2. Wraith Bone (so that initial guidance for shades is in place).
3. Applying Contrast paints, 2 layers in shaded areas.
4. Highlights + some additional shades + glazes
5. Finishing touches (more colors (earlobes, teeth, eyes, nails, etc.)
6. Testors Dullcote varnish + bases.

As you can see clearly, Contrast paints by themselves will only take you so far. They let you easily achieve decent table top quality. For some colors they may work extremely well (fur, Gremlin skintone, Dark Templar - my favorite on clothes, really nice effect), while other will require more effort. Overall - really useful tool for speeding tings up and marking initial highlights off of which more volume can be added.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Chimera keyword project continues

Despite apparent hiatus on the blog, I've been painting a little every now and then. Here are some of my latest efforts. I finally got to test GW's contrast paints. Some quick thoughst:
- these are not an end in themselves, rather a tool with some speific use,
- only using contrasts allows you to get a decent result without much effort,
- contrasts have a tendency to pool and require paying a lot of attention when applied,
- 2 -3 layers -> deeper shades.

Here I used them over Wraith Bone basecoat and followed with some highlights/glazes of red and brown to create the effect of irregular, dirty fur.

For Molemen (I don't care too much for these sculpts), I started with a layer of Guilliman Flesh, folowed by two quick highlights and some washes with glazes of brown and purple. In the end I picked out some facial details too.

#15/2019 The Beekeeper of Aleppo

Powerful account of human strength based on collection of individual stories that the author heard from immigrants while working as a volunteer. Quite moving portrayal of fate of a family whose life was shattered by the outbreak of war and the impact of PTSD on all aspects of their existence.

#14/2019 Odds Against Tomorrow

Advertised as "climate thriller", it immediately caught my attention. A major earthquake takes place in Seattle, leaving the city in ruins. Major corporations suffer huge financial loses as they are forced to pay huge compensations since no insurance companies agree to cover natural disasters. The protagonist - Mitchell Zukor, a young and talented analyst is hired by a shady corporation called Future World where he is tasked with calculating risks of disasters and selling his findings to corporations to indemnify them against any future events like the one in Seattle. Mitchell immerses himself fully in the worst case scenario analysis and begins gradually losing grip on reality.

Following his line of thinking as he tries to puzzle out the proportions, probabilities and chances of occurrences of these dramatic events is absolutely thrilling. It's like watching an engine that works at full speed and is at a constant risk of overheating. The author does a great job of framing it all in corporate reality. However, as the novel moves into its second half and focus shifts to outcomes, the book loses a lot of its impact. I felt disconnected from the protagonist and had to fight my way through to the end...

#13/2019 The Fireman

I'm in two minds about "The Fireman". It is a very well written novel with a solid post-apocalyptic background. It is a page turner for sure. However, it feels like the whole thing wouldn't be much good without a plethora of inspirations that the author uses eagerly. "The Stand", "The Lord of the Flies", "Fahrenheit 451", "The Road" are just some off the top of my head. At times it felt like Joe Hill was going a bit too far that way, e.g. Harold - an unlikable character whom we learn about early on, bears a strong resemblance to another Harold from King's "The Stand".
The main protagonist is an almost perfect nurse leaving a good life that quickly falls apart when she becomes infected with a highly contagious disease known as Dragonscale. The infection starts with marks on skin and typically ends in spontaneous self combustion. As she struggles to find her place on earth, we get to follow her efforts

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Professor and his students

And here's the second crew I've painted for Wyrd to be showcased at Gencon 2019. 

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Bad Dreams

It's been silent on the blog but I've been pretty busy with painting new M3E minis for Wyrd to be showcased at Gencon. I couldn't resist and painted a crew for myself too (that's the swampy themed one). Anyway, all pics are here, enjoy! 

Friday, 31 May 2019

Late night WIP

Lots of work on my workspace in recent days. While I'd love to show you what I'm working on now, I will have to wait until these models are formally released by Wyrd. All I can say for now is this: you're in for a treat with M3E plastics. Wyrd has upped their production standard yet again and the new minis are even better than those from M2E.

#12/2019 Factfulness

The book starts with a series of questions about global trends. It's easy yo get them wrong and what Rosling has proven is even more surprising. Apparently, a group of chimpanzees is more likely to get more correct replies than high profile members of elite organizations with worldwide reach. These questions reveal ten factors that impact our perception of the world. It turns out that more often than not, our perception of the world are wrong. This relates, among other issues, to how we see progress (the prevalent view that "things are getting worse"), how we are presented the news (focus on the negative, fear), and how we like to split the world into two (us/them, developed/developing countries). 
Rosling, using fact-based and logical reasoning, proves that our world is in much better shape than we think. Each of the initial questions is dissected and analyzed using different viewpoints and contrasted with diversified data. Seeing the world from the negative perspective, without taking relevant data and different viewpoints into account, causes us to lose focus and perspective. 
Very good read, this one should be an obligatory book on the reading list for high-school/college students as it encourages independent thinking and promotes fact-based approach to discussion.

#11/2019 Leadershift

I've  made a major change in my career quite recently, moving from administrative position in public sector, to begin from scratch in a private sector. I read somewhere a review of this book that stated it offered valuable insights into dynamically changing business reality. I thought it could give me some food for thought that would help me adapt better into new situation, and I was right.
John c. Maxwell goes through 11 changes that he's made to adapt his leadership to meet new circumstances. Among others these include a change from ladder climbing to ladder building - a concept I've adapted for a while using the socio-cultural framework and the concept of scaffolding.
Maxwell begins by making a clear distinction between management and leadership. The former is based on quantifiable, known facts, and is associated with stability. Leadership, on the other hand, means working effectively with many unknown factors. 
The author offers many interesting insights into how the proposed changes could be achieved. He strongly believed that leaders should create other leaders, and as such, they should not only blaze the trail, but also make sure that the path to follow is easily accessible. Being a transformational leader is seen as inspiring people to step out of their comfort zone, identifying what they see as obstacles, and helping them overcome those.
Some of the ideas in Maxwell's book are very innovative and challenge the traditional approach to being a leader. Other go through the fundamentals in a refreshing way. Definitely a good read, not only for leaders but for all interested in how work environment in modern business looks like.

#10/2019 Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation

I've never been a big fan of "positive thinking" as I think just hoping for the best and planning for it doesn't get one too far. Gabriele Oettigen presents vast research background to prove that this can actually be true. Focusing only on positive outcome can drain our energy and cause our performance to be lower. Instead, she proposed mental contrasting. It is a visualization technique that is strongly connected to one's expectation of success - the higher it is, the better the outcome. The technique is not that complex. It starts with thinking about/writing down positive effects of what you want to achieve. Following that, some time should be devoted to focusing on the most beneficial effects of achieving your goal. After that, attention should be paid to the biggest obstacles. And that's the gist of it, visualizing goals and obstacles, and contrasting them. 
Oettigen has also developed a tool that facilitates the whole process. It is called WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan). This is supposed to help redirect thoughts to the process of mental contrasting and make it more effective.
In general, I like these ideas and have subconsciously used these strategies before. What I'd do differently is (for example before attempting a challenging task/having a tough conversation), is that I'd try to imagine more challenges and try to predict my rely to potential problematic scenarios.

#9/2019 The Art of the Deal

I reached for this book as I wanted to read something that actually shows Trump in a positive light. What better way that something that he wrote himself?
I've never thought highly of him as a person/leader but his financial success is undeniable. I thought that "The Art of the Deal" might be a way to redeem, at least slightly, what I've read about him in "Fear, Trump in White House".
This one is basically his diary, an account of his daily work and thoughts on running large business. For the most part, he sticks to some main principles:
- be bold in your decision-making,
- family comes first (his children were just small kids at the time the book was written),
- value relationships with people you've got good history with.
 While I still don't feel much sympathy for the man, I have to admit that some of his characteristics like consistency in planning and acting as well as keeping firmly to your beliefs.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Marcus x3

Marcus the beastmaster. One of the most interesting characters in the world of Malifaux An educated man who combines deep knowledge with profound understanding of wilderness. Here in three versions.

Friday, 26 April 2019

Ulver - Vowels

Loveless vessels

We vow

Solo love

We see

Love solve loss

Else we see

Love sow woe

Selves we woo

We lose

Losses we levee

We owe

We sell

Loose vows

So we love

Less well

So low

So level

Wolves evolve

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Myranda warning

This one was meant to be painted as a Native American. I used Foundry paints for the first time here (Native American Flesh triad) and I really liked it. Good coverage, nice consistency (only a little water needed to make it run smoothly off the brush). I also wanted her clothes to look like some primitive, hand-made garb and followed basic highlights with some very thin brush strokes to imitate material texture.

The miniature is OK but while I like the ultra dynamic pose (fitting her onto those resin hunted tree stumps was a bit tricky), it looks a bit off, especially her right leg seems to be positioned in an unnatural way.
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