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.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

The Messenger - new and improved miniature carrying case

This review is cat-approved
I got my A-Case almost two years ago. It has served me very well since then. I've worn in rain, snow and heat. I traveled by plane to a tournament abroad, and it perfectly fit both under the passenger seat and in the luggage storage on board. After using other alternatives (foam, plastic containers) I was really happy to make the switch to a metal case and magnetize my minis. What is more, after all this time, the case still looks good as new and there is no wear and tear visible. 

I spend long hours making sure my minis are painted to a high standard and really hate it when there are accidents and the paint chips off or the minis or when they get damaged. Using magnets for keeping minis safely locked in the bag has been a blessing. I've had no problems since I started using it. Yet, every rose has its thorns. 

After a while when my collection started growing exponentially, there wasn't enough space to pack all my minis and I had to decide which ones are going to a tourney and which are staying in the glass cabinet. Malifaux is a skirmish game and requires only several miniatures in a game but you want to make sure you have more options when building competitive lists. Also, while the minis were kept super safe in the bag, after some time the shelves started feeling a little clunky. Not to a degree which would make using the case inconvenient but still, it was a factor and I had to always bear in mind the fact that I need to be extra careful while sliding them in or out. The case also has an external pocket that can fit small bits like tokens or measuring gadgets. Useful but that's never been enough to store all the game aids I wanted to take with me to a tourney. 

Those are not big problems by far. Rather, as mentioned earlier - small thorns on a pretty rose. I realize, these may seem like your typical "first world problems". Still, despite these minor issues I've been very happy with my bag. 

That's why when I learned that the company is launching another Kickstarter with new, improved versions of the bag, I was immediately interested. Thanks to the creator of campaign, Olo, I soon received a parcel with my carrying case. There are three versions available in the campaign (more on that later), and I opted for the middle one - The messenger. 




Size and material 

It's obviously bigger, as you can very well see in the picture above in which my old case easily fits into the Messenger. Its dimensions are: height 31,5cm/12,40in, width 40cm/15,74in, depth 21cm/8,26in. It means it can still be used as carry-on luggage on a plane. But it's not all about the size here. I just love the new material. Instead of plain silver galvanized steel, we get powder-coated steel trays in powder-coated aluminum frame. It has an incredibly luxurious feel to it. It looks very elegant and feels much more solid than the previous version. 

The assembly process has also been simplified. Instead of bending flat aluminum sheets into shape and then putting them together, the set comes with ready elements that just need to be connected. No tools are needed. There is a really neat lock system and the whole process takes no more than five minutes. 
Safe Teddy is a happy Teddy
The trays are not only wider and deeper. Their movement is just flawless. They slide in and out easily without any hitches. It's so satisfying, knowing that your precious minis are easily accessible and you don't need even take into consideration how fast/slow/at what angle you pull on the tray. Just like with the older version, there are metal bolts to keep the trays in place. There is one more thing - rubber attachments that keep them connected to the trays at all times. A clever solution that allows you not to worry about losing them.

one of the new, smart solutions
Inside, there are 7 slots for trays. It means that you can customize the height of each tray. At this point of the KS campaign a third one has been unlocked and that's a perfect number for me as a Malifaux player. However, if you feel you need more options, additional trays can be added to your KS pledge. 

There are two options to carry the Messenger. Either a handle firmly attached to the top, or an adjustable strap with a shoulder pad. Both work very well. 

Messenger has a huge side pocket. It easily fits a thick Ultra Pro-Binder album and there is still plenty of space left for all other gaming essentials you may need. 

A few words should be written about the price-quality ratio. Let's be honest - wargaming is not a cheap hobby. Some people pay as much as $100 or more for just a few, or even for a single miniature (the author of this review is guilty as charged!). What should be stressed is that buying A-Case is a long time investment. My previous case lasted almost 2 years without any problems and I expect to get even more out of my new one. As such, paying $139+shipping for a product that will last for years and will ensure the safety of my miniatures is a reasonable expense. 


My whole Neverborn force easily fits in and there's still plenty of space left


Summary 

The creators have done their homework and managed to turn all problematic points into major strengths. I honestly can't think of any way in which this carrying case could be improved. Maybe adding Bluetooth, WiFi adapter, and remote control? 

It's a wonderfully well designed and polished product. The creators have listened to all the feedback they've gathered over the years and they've been respectful towards their clients. A-Case is not a global company. It's basically just one guy with passion who makes the best out of working with his target group, and I can honestly admit that I feel happy to be part of this community. 

Olo from A-Case says hello. Left to tight: Kane, Messanger, Victory 2.0
P.S. The KS campaign runs until Mon, April 22 2019 4:05 PM CEST. Make sure you check it out as they have two other carrying cases available. Victory 2.0 is an improved version of the small one I used to use. Perfect solution for small skirmish games. The other one is Kane - a true beast designed for those who want to carry really huge armies. 




Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Tyger Tyger, burning bright


Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night; 
What immortal hand or eye, 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry? 


What can be cooler than a three-headed Tiger model? Hard to beat that. I decided to use blue for the most part as I've always struggled with this color on larger surfaces. It was a little easier here as there is some fur texture on the main body to serve as guidance. I started with some general highlights on the body, making sure to leave enough dark blue in the recesses. Following that, I kept adding numerous thin brushstrokes in gradually brighter colors to build up the fur texture. It was a very lengthy and tedious process but it was a good practice for sure. I added some touches of brown/dark red and glazes of light blue and green to keep it more "natural" (as much as this word can be used to talk about blue fur of a three headed Tiger). I also thought that blue would nicely contrast with a predominantly green base.




#8/2019 The President Is Missing

I was immediately intrigued when I saw the cover and who the authors are. A political thriller written by a former PotUS at least holds a promise of accurate representation of how different pieces in the administration work together.
It's a story of a major cyber attack threat against the US. I like the way that the concept of "Internet of things" as a development in technology that can be used to effectively shut down the entire nation. While these aspects are presented in a coherent and well structured way, the language often feels a tad harsh, not well refined. It is really hard to come up with ideas that could be used for showing cyber threats in this modern technology-driven world and I liked the way the characters of Augie and Nina are introduced. Still, for the most part the novel failed to keep me involved and I found myself passively following the plot without being absorbed in it.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Samurai with minigun


Not much more to write other than the title. The minis are quite ridiculous and the kneeling one is really badly scaled. The sculpts are probably a nod to a BS movie called "Sucker Punch" that had some nice visuals to make up for lack of content and terrible acting.
The armor plates were painted using Red Goblin from colorshift range by Greenstuffworld. Easy to apply and they immediately give a nice effect. I applied some black ink in the recesses and lightly worked bright silver onto the edges to add it a bit more definition.


Friday, 29 March 2019

Razorspine Rattlers


These four big snakes were quite a challenge. Mainly as there were dozens of scales that needed slow and careful highlighting. The dark ones are inspired by Australia's Red Bellied snake, one of the most dangerous ones out there.
I've also finally got to paint my old metal version of this miniature. Tough to say which one I like more as the plastic ones look more impressive overall although they don't have so well defined details.
I wanted to keep with the swampy theme so I've applied some pure Vallejo Still water effect an top of final highlights to give the skin a glossy look.
Now, time for the three-headed tiger and Marcus.





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