Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Tutorial: Powered Bases And Light-Up Bases

Well, I finally got around to writing up that tutorial I've been promising to all of the two people who were actually interested. So if you'd like to steal my most precious secrets, you can read the whole thing here. Warning: it's very, very long!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Hark, I Hear The Bombards Roar!

Finally. Embarrassingly, this is actually my first Khador model this year. I actually finished assembling him last year, but for some reason I just didn't want to paint him. I think the model is just too crowded; there's too much detail that doesn't need to be there. You don't need to cover every surface with studs PP!

To be fair though I haven't really painted very many "difficult" models this year, not after the first couple of warjacks. It's been a weird year, and I just haven't been motivated to paint anything too difficult; instead I've been experimenting with paint techniques on simpler models that I could finish quickly.

Truth is I did find this guy a complete paint to paint. There's so much crowded detail that I had to keep going back and fixing mistakes. For some reason I couldn't settle on a colour scheme that would give the model a strong focal point; there's just so many different surfaces spread out over the model that all the colours pretty much ended up everywhere. And I just didn't have enough browns to give all the different materials distinct colours (the coat, the leather boots and accessories, the wooden shield handle and gun stock, the sleeping pack, the fur trim, the water bottle, the... map?) - I didn't want to introduce different colours that would stand out too much.

I also made some mistakes, and applied washes after some highlights when I should have done the opposite. As a result some of the highlighting is too subtle. For some stupid reason I decided to matt the whole model with Vallejo brush-on matt varnish rather than my usual matt spray. Not only was the process more tedious, there were also a few bubbles that I failed to get rid of and that left holes in the model (there's a big one just under the right thumb if you look). Plus, for some reason base didn't quite come out right and looks streaky, even after two coats (I just kind of gave up to be honest). I think I'll be sticking with spray varnishes from now on.

Despite my mistakes I think he looks alright overall. I actually think that the beard saves the model by acting as a focal point. Surprisingly the steel details help quite a bit by providing some variety in a few key locations (unlike the brass which is kind of just everywhere).

But the big deal about this guy is that he's my first attempt at a new way of making light-up bases. With Strakhov I found that simply pointing the LED upwards didn't look very good, and while Alexia and Solomon looked much better the technique I used for them was difficult and could not be applied to an entire base-topper, only to one or two parts of one.

Well, I finally hit upon a relatively simple way of lighting up a whole base. This first version isn't perfect (and Harkevich might not be the best model to demonstrate it because his coat covers so much of the base), but it still worked. I'll be writing up a full illustrated tutorial on the exact technique I used soon, but I figured it would be better as a separate post.

You may have noticed that there is a bit of conversion work involved in the model as well. I never liked Hark's hat or the mechano-ham, so I removed them. Ditto for all the stupid spikes everywhere. There was never any question that he would be getting a Deathwing Knight mace, 'cos they look great and justify him having Beat-Back (which he then went and lost... sigh). I decided that a viking helmet would go well with the mace and the mighty beard, so I sculpted one on. I wasn't sure about the wings but I like how they turned out in the end.

The pose on his left fist was OK, but I figured a shield would look better while also being more thematic, so I rotated his arm and added a simple shield I had lying around. It was a bit too plain considering how busy the rest of the model is, so it got a Khador logo sculpted on. He got the Sentinels Eternal logo on the right shoulder because I couldn't think of anything else to replace the stupid spike.

It took a lot of work to carve the rock out from under his foot.
Of course the rock needed to go so he would fit the base.
The Khador logo came out quite well.
A little out of place, but oh well.
The helmet wasn't actually too hard to do.
Adding the wings was actually quite tricky though.
I ended up taking off more fur than needed, but it wasn't too hard to resculpt.
Speaking of which, the model was actually missing some fur to begin with.

Thank God that's done. Hopefully I'll get to see if he's any good on the table in MkIII soon; on paper I'm not convinced. Back in MkII I nicknamed him The Iron Bull - because he gives warjacks wings. And also because he looks more like a bull than a wolf to be honest.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hail To The King, Baby!

So I picked up HassleFree Miniatures' Oakley model ages back. Cos I'm a big fan of... Oakley. As is usual for me he sat there unassembled for a long time, then when he was finally assembled he sat there unprimed for a long time, then when he was finally primed he sat there unpainted for a long time. Hey, I do most things except painting in batches, and I'm a slow painter, so basically everything moves slowly.

Anyway, when the new Oakley vs Evil Dead started airing (coughlastyearcough), I decided it was finally time. Then I realised I wasn't good enough at painting cloth to do him justice because I've mainly just been painting armour all this time. So I put him back on the shelf, half-painted as he was, and started painting some cloth-y models, trying different ways of painting blacks, beiges, and blues. I eventually settled on a painting method I was happy with and some colour schemes that looked about right, and finally pulled him back out and finished the job.

Then I realised that the way I had planned to do the swamp water wouldn't actually work. So back he went while I spent many weeks experimenting with different water products, paints and inks, as well as different ways of combining them.

It turns out that typical water products shrink quite a lot and have a lot of surface tension so they tend to get wicked into crevasses. Not a problem when you're using them to fill a simple, large water feature, but the results were terrible when trying to fill a small, complex space like this guy's base - at least if you were expecting to do it in just one or two passes. Also, paints don't always mix well with water products, and even if they do then they actually seem to exacerbate the shrinking problem.

But yes, finally I figured out how to apply the water (Woodland Scenics Realistic Water) in extremely thin layers, applying heavily thinned-down paint (Woodland Scenics Green Undercoat mixed around 1:2 with Lahmian Medium) on top once each layer had dried (except the last obviously). A very slow process, but eventually it was done, and he was ready to be photographed.

I tried a lot of different methods and combinations!
After the first couple of layers, the colour and depth is starting to build up.
The final result.
I think it looks pretty good overall.
The shirt was just Enchanted Blue highlighted with with Ice Blue using my "highlight plus drybrush" hack. The trousers took some experimentation but ended up being Snakebite Leather highlighted with Bleached Bone and washed with Gryphonne Sepia and Devlan Mud (possibly watered down). I believe the hair was Shadow Grey washed with Badab Black then highlighted with Shadow Grey then a bit of Blue Horror.

The leather was Doombull Brown hightlighted with Skrag Brown. It was probably washed with Devlan Mud, but I'm not sure if that was before or after highlighting. Wood was also Doombull Brown, highlighted with I believe a mix of Doombull Brown and Pallid Wych Flesh. Bones were of course Bleached Bone washed with Gryphonne Sepia. Skin was my usual Elf Flesh washed with Ogryn Flesh; in this case I actually did some spot shading and highlighting with additional coats of those two colours.

The chainsaw body was Blood Red highlighted with Wild Rider Red and washed with Baal Red (not necessarily in that order). Steel was just Boltgun Metal washed with Badab Black and highlighted with Chainmail. Brass was Gehenna's Gold highlighted with Auric Armour Gold. The rusted metal on the base was Blazing Orange drybrushed with Boltgun Metal and highlighted with Chainmail (there may have been washes involved, I don't remember). The submerged sword hilt was Tin Bitz, with Nihilakh Oxide applied for the verdigris then Gehenna's Gold used to highlight.

I actually darkened the entire eye area (I think I used a brown or dark skin colour) before adding the whites and pupils, and it looks much better this way than without that first step. The effect is probably a bit too heavy, but I dont' have good enough brush control to do much better. I might go back and paint some gloss varnish over the eyes, I haven't decided yet.
This might be the best face I've ever painted.
There's actually a bit more conversion work on this guy than you might realise at first. The original model has it's foot on a single skull, but no scenic base or anything to go with it. So I decided to complete the skeleton using GW parts I had lying around. This led to the idea of a swamp full of skeletal bits. I actually deepened the stock PP base so I could get a deeper swamp effect, and cut and filed various bits to match the skull (kinda; GW skeleton bits are slightly larger in scale, but it's not really obvious in situ) and fill the base.
Ah yes, the good old "Black Reach" skull. It seemed appropriate.

Midway through painting I realised there was a small miscast in the face, so I had to carefully try to sculpt over the damage. The result turned out OK, except that I was so focussed on the cheeks that I didn't think to sculpt the corner of his mouth to match the other side. As a result he has a bit of a "Mona Lisa smile".
I didn't realise how bad it was until I started painting the skin.
Fortunately it looked fine once I painted over the greenstuff.

Finally, the gun. The model came carrying what looks like a pump-action shotgun, but in the movies A... Oakley uses a sawn-off double-barrel. I was not OK with this inaccuracy, so I ended up fabricating a shotgun myself. I cut off most of the original and re-sculpted the stock and receiver, mating them with a pair of (slightly oversized) metal tubes. The result is MUCH more authentic.
The original model.
My version.
Sadly I don't have any WIPs; bascially very little of the original remains.
"This is my BOOM STICK!"

Overall this guy took far more time and effort than you might think (or at least than I had been expecting), but honestly I think he looks good. This is probably the happiest I've been with a model in a while, so I guess it was worth it. Now I'm kinda wishing I had a game to play him in. Maybe I'll mock up some homebrew rules for him or something, although to be honest any kind of tabletop gaming is going to get harder for me to do for the foreseeable future, for a number of "real life" reasons that all kind of happened at the same time. Ah well, I'll just have to make do; I sure as hell ain't giving up on the hobby!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Morrow Finally Has A Beatstick

I always wanted to like Gallant, though he never really seemed worth his cost in MkII except with Constance. Still, I picked up the upgrade kit to try to put him together, oh, a very very long time ago.

Then MkIII happened, and two things changed. First, I needed a second Merc jack just to use my warjack points. Second, Gallant got better. Much better. In fact I reckon he's awesome now. So I finally assembled him. This seemed like an appropriate time for MacBain!!!! to make his MkIII debut.
- Gallant
- Mangler
- Sylyss
Nyss Hunters
Croe's Cutthroats
Aiyana & Holt
- Blaster
Kell Bailoch
Lanyssa Ryssyl
Harlan Versh
Rutger Shaw

Not exactly an optimal list. Sadly Gallant now has animosities that prevent me from bringing him with Alexia, but at least this meant I could bring Versh. Thor and Rutger are mainly in there for the points (although boosted shooting and a bit of ARM 18 was not bad to have). Beanpole brought a similar list to last time:
Lord Arbiter Hexeris
- Bronzeback
- Gladiator
- Cannoneer
- Shaman
- Agonizer
- Aptimus Marketh
Beast Handlers
Extoller Soulward

We rolled a mission with two flags and a killbox. I won the roll and chose to go first. Beanpole picked the side that didn't have a giant forest in the middle.

I couldn't deploy my battlegroup as centrally as I might have due to the forest, so they went on my right, behind my flag. Versh and Lanyssa stayed nearby to support my beasts. Nyss were in the center, with the rest a little to the left.

Beanpole put his battlegroup in the center and his Slingers facing my jacks.

The Cutthroats went on my left, where they could contest. Kell stuck with the central forest, where he would get concealment. The Bloodrunners were deployed centrally.

Round 1:
I spread everything out and advanced cautiously. Fortune went on the Cutthroats and Fail Safe on the Mangler (this way I had one high-ARM jack and one high-DEF jack, plus I figured the Mangler would probably go in first).

Beanpole put Banishing Ward on the Bronzeback, meaning I couldn't use Aiyana's Kiss or Lanyssa's Hunter's Mark on it. The Bloodrunners got Cloak of Ash and ran to engage a couple of my models. The Cannoneer moved up and shot at a Cutthroat in the forest, killing him, five Nyss Hunters, and Kell Bailoch. Geez.

Round 2:
I moved up and killed a bunch of his infantry. I think Versh killed three models himself. I tried to spread out more this turn. I spotted an opportunity to kill Marketh before he could start killing my models with Ashes to Ashes, and moved three Nyss Hunters up to take a CRA off Cylena. I needed threes to hit, and this happened:

Oh Cylena. How reliably you disappoint me. Anyway, Rutger ran around to the far left to try to start shooting stuff with his hand cannon next turn. A&H hid behind the forest. MacBain!!!! moved up to base the flag this turn; I wouldn't score, but it would force Beanpole to contest.

Beanpole moved up his beasts cautiously, making sure to stay out of range of my jacks, and cast Ashes to Ashes on a a Cutthroat in the left forest, killing Aiyana and Holt. More spells and shooting took out a lot of the rest of my infantry, including Rutger (who had yet to fire a shot). Hexeris got on his flag to score a point.

Round 3:
I couldn't use Hunters Mark on the Bronzeback, but the Cannoneer was close enough that if I charged him I would be in range of the Bronzeback, and with Purgation average dice would be almost enough to kill it. I figured I could potentially put a bit of damage on it first with Versh and a boosted Take Aim!-ed spray from the bunny, so I went for it.

After landing the Hunter's Mark on the Cannoneer to make sure a single bad roll didn't ruin everything after the plan was already in motion, I started clearing out the intervening models. This meant activating the Cutthroats to get one out of the way. Who I promptly walked into a perfect position for the Bronzeback to counter-charge and move out of Gallant's threat range. Sigh.

So much for that plan. Oh well. The Blaster walked over and shot Marketh and the Cannoneer, killing Marketh but doing nothing to the Titan. It then used the Reposition to nuzzle up to the Bronzeback.

Versh cleared the path, and Gallant charged the gun-slinging elephant. I didn't benefiting from Purgation so I was swinging at P+S 16 due to the Agonizer. This meant I needed to use Jackhammer to finish the job, but luckily I still had just enough focus left afterwards to cast Fail Safe on Gallant. I hoped this would be enough to keep him safe, as I didn't think he could get the Bronzeback around the Blaster and I figured the Gladiator was unlikely to kill a DEF 13 ARM 21 warjack that didn't suffer from crippled systems.

The Cutthroats stood back with the expectation that I would be sending them in one at a time to contest after the Blaster died. I finally scored a point.

The Gladiator walked over the wall and boosted a double-handed throw, chucking Gallant at the Blaster. The Bronzeback then walked around and beat the now knocked-down symbol of Morrowan faith into scrap metal. Luckily poor rolls meant he didn't have the Fury left to attack the Blaster, so at least I was still contesting. Meanwhile the rest of Beanpole's army killed Versh, Lanyssa, Sylyss, and put some damage on MacBain!!!!.

Round 4:
I completely screwed up my plans here. I loaded up the Mangler thinking I might send it at the Gladiator (I could get to him in such a way that a Rush-less Bronzeback would not be able to reach him) or the Shaman. But then realised that if I attacked the Gladiator there would be nothing protecting MacBain!!!! from the Shaman, and if I sent it at the Shaman it would just get killed by Titans. So it basically did nothing and wasted my focus.

The Cutthroats (still under Fortune) and Nyss Hunters just managed to shoot the Agonzier to death, while MacBain!!!! missed two boosted Handcannon shots against a single Slinger, meaning I couldn't clear the flag to score or even re-cast Fail Safe. The Mangler made sure it was out of charging threat ranges, which actually meant it wasn't blocking the Shaman from reaching MacBain!!!!, so basically I did everything wrong for no reason.

The Gladiator frenzied and killed a Paingiver. The Bronzeback did not frenzy and sat there with four Fury. The Paingivers pulled a bunch of it off though, and he killed the Blaster. The Shaman knocked MacBain!!!! down to about six boxes I think. I lost more infantry, leaving me with only Croe. Beanpole moved Hexeris off the flag just to make sure the Mangler couldn't reach him, meaning at least he didn't score.

Round 5:
I figured I would move the Mangler forwards with Energizer, kill the Shaman with Jackhammer, then move to safety. The Mangler missed three out of four Jackhammer attacks. I gave up.

That Bronzeback counter-charge screws up my plans so often you'd think I would learn to remember that he has it eventually, but nope! I probably should have just sent the Mangler in the turn after that (at least after managing to kill the Agonizer) and found some other way to protect MacBain!!!! (maybe just camped Focus and hoped for the best). Alternately I could have recast Fail Safe, gone for the Shaman, relied on the Blaster to block the Bronzeback again, and hoped that the Gladiator couldn't kill an ARM 21 warjack. I guess I was a little tilted at that point because I played quite poorly that turn.

Although I wasn't playing too well anyway. Keeping the Cutthroats and Nyss Hunters back rather than running forwards and jamming him off the flags was not very smart (and more cagey than I've tended to play recently). I basically lost most of my army without doing anything, because everything was too far back to do much work, then it died.

I probably should have commit the Cutthroats to gunning down the Agonizer, even if it cost the whole unit. At the very least having them all around his flag and his Paingivers, rather than hanging out on my side not doing anything at all, would have given him a little trouble.

Beanpole really used Banishing Ward effectively, cutting down my threat range while also denying me my damage buff. Luckily this meant Gallant was still a threat. I wish I could have sent the Mangler at the Cannoneer instead, but once you've allocated focus you're locked in unfortunately (plus I activated the Mangler before the Cutthroats, so I couldn't even just rely on Jackhammer at that point). Perhaps I should consider Ragman instead of A&H, though he would have just been killed by Ashes same as everyone else.

I didn't really bring any spot removal in this list (other than normal unboosted shooting). Obviously I have options, but I'm quite tempted to bring Rocinante for some boosted shooting on a good beatstick. I'm not sure I'd bring him instead of the Mangler (the moment I don't bring that Chain Weapon I'm sure I'll find myself facing Tibbers), so I guess the question is what to swap him for. Well, Rutger obviously, but what else?

I think I'm getting slower at this game. Maybe it's because I'm getting better at seeing threats and options, so it takes me longer to work through them all in my head? I dunno. I should probably started playing with a clock; I don't like the added pressure or the idea of a game suddenly being cut-short, but maybe it would be good for learning?