Monday 30 December 2019

#26/2019 Bestiariusz SÅ‚owianski

A complex and thorough walkthrough of Slavic ghosts, mythical creatures and all the faerie beings you can think of. Definitely a must for all fantasy fans interested in Slavic legends.
I got this “Slavic beastiary” a couple of years ago but somehow never got round to reading it. And it was a mistake. Reading it now as I’m spending short holidays with my family at the cottage house in the middle of nowhere adds to the charm. It’s also beautifully illustrated and the descriptions of mythical creatures are short and filled with folklore. A lot of it goes back to the times when simple people tried to justify what they didn’t understand with concepts that were somehow tangible, and it is surprising that some of those beliefs are still prevalent. Also, it goes without saying that a lot of these tales were major source of inspiration for the author of Witcher.

Sunday 29 December 2019

#25/2019 Fever Dream

Heavily oniric story that interweaves points of view in the narrative and mixes elements of nightmare with reality. All of that with deeply psychological insights and complex discussion of the nature of death.

#24/2019 Gwendy's Magic Feather


The Button Box #2 follows the story of Gwendy who is now a successful politician. yet her past comes to haunt... and help her. Short novel with slowly building pace and final mystery solved a bit too quickly to be treated seriously...

Saturday 28 December 2019

#23/2019 Heart-Shaped Box

Judas Coyne, legendary rock-start,has a peculiar hobby of collecting morbid memorabilia. When he is contacted about an opportunity to purchase... a ghost, he can't pass. Soon afterwards strange events begin to unfold that cause him to rethink his life and the circumstances that led to the unfortunate purchase.
As naive as this sounds, the story is actually quite coherent and well structures. What I liked the most wast he ambiguity as none of the characters in the novel can actually be called good.

Monday 23 December 2019

More Malifaux crews

Two more crews to add to 2019 painting pool. I've been neglecting my blog for a good while now. Too easy to just add pics to Instagram, will need to rethink whether it still makes sense to keep the blog running.

#22/2019 The Self-Driven Child

Not much to write here as it's a book full of practical advice on how to build confidence and help a child become more independent. As a father of two girls, I am definitely going to read more like his one in the future t make sure i support my kids and help them grow without being too imposing...

#21/2019 The Almost Nearly Perfect People

I work with Nordic people on daily basis so this books was an obvious choice. The author uses an outsider's perspective and goes through all the nations, confronting myths, stereotypes, and hard truths about the Nordics.

#20/2019 Someone We Know

Basically it's a "who slept with who" story that has several twists in it but nothing overly complex :)

#19/2019 An Unwanted Guest

A pretty mountain lodge that is cut off from civilization by a blizzard. People begin dying, one murder follows another, no clear motivations - all these sound like familiar tropes and don't really offer anything new to the genre...

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! 

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