Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tablescapes Display Board Paint Test and Tutorial

Secret Weapon Miniatures' Tablescapes finally arrived and before batch painting all the display board tiles I thought I would paint a test tile first. Normally most of my terrain painting and weathering is limited to the bases so I wanted to test whether the jump to a 12"x12" format worked well, or if there was a need to do something different to make it tick. I was especially worried about avoiding the monotony of colours and textures. A separate worry was the amount of time I would need to dedicate to each tile, as there are 35 more to paint and I am definetely not the faster of painters.

The tile is from the Forgotten City theme, which essentially are broken tiles and boulders with some soil. I wanted the floor to be grey, the soilto be yellow-ish and link both areas with browns; essentially take advantage of those many cracks to fill them with dirt.

I also added a few flowers and bushes here and there to help break the monotony. Keep in mind this tile is part of  a display board and usually will be covered in miniatures - and perhaps a small terrain element - so there will be a lot less open space than in the pictures.

Fire Dragons about to be in a world o'hurt


Let me preface  by saying that an airbrush and weathering pigments are required to achieve a similar look to the pictures. It's not to say you need those to paint the tiles - in fact you can just use a large brush like in GW's tutorial - but they will make your like easier and make the tiles look better.

With that out of the way, I started priming the tile in grey. The primer color is an important decision as it will have a great influence on the look of the finished tile. In this case grey is the most neutral color, as it is neither too dark or clear, and it is similar to the color most of the tile will be covered with. Once the primer was dry, I airbrused dark grey in the spaces between tales, and also around the outline of the soil parts. The purpose is dual: darken the cracks and spaces that are naturally dark, and also provide some color graduation once the final colors are applied. Indeed, the grey will look clearer in the center of the tiles and darker around the edges where the dark grey is; this is why I deliberately allowed some dark grey outside of the cracks.

Next step is applying the base colors, grey and dust yellow. The important thing to keep in mind is to not spray the color all over the place, but paint each tile individually. By doing this we will achieve a better color graduation in each tile (as you are spraying at center) and also keep the edges more or less dark.

Adding more depth to the tile

For the grey tiles, I painted the edges with a lighter grey. I used an old Citadel large dry brush, which is flat and  about 1.5cm wide. I did not really drybrush anything, just applied gently a bit of paint through the edges. 

For the soil part, I applied some darker brown on the recesses and depressions of the areas; this will help define the volumes as the soil is indeed not sculpted flat, but has some nice variation. 

In the space between tiles and along all the many cracks this tile has, I applied a dark brown wash. Again, this is a gently application of color with a brush directy on the cracks/lines and not covering the tile in it. I used Mig Productions' Dark Wash, which is a very interesting product that behaves differently from Citadel's washes. This particular wash has a very strong capillary motion, meaning if you apply a little bit tin the intersection of 4 tiles (i.e. in the cross in between), the wash will flow its way through the four directions as a result of this motion. The idea is therefore to make small applications in selected areas, then use a fine brush to extend the wash if needed.

One small downside of this type of washes is that they are slow to dry, so take it easy and let it rest :)

Once the wash was completely dry -don't try anything whislt is still wet or it will ruin your work - I painted again the areas in which the wash had overspilled.

Pigments and bushes

Now it's time to dust out your pigments (you got it?) and again make gentle, controlled applications. In this case I applied a brown/red dust color in the cracks and between the tiles, and also in some interesting spots in the soil parts. It is difficult to explain with words but suffice to say there are interesting textures in these tiles where it becomes apparent a pigment might look interesting. Just give it a try and you'll see what I  mean :)

I also added some green pigment around the raised tiles, simulating the effect of water/humidity.

How were the pigments applied? for the most part I used an old brush and picked up very small amounts of pigment every time. The pigment was deposited in a crack or depression, and was extended with the brush or even with the thumb.
Note the subtle grey around the tiles and small color variations in the tiles that break the monotony
Once I was happy with the result I applied a coat of satin varnish. Because most of the pigments were in the cracks that was OK but in other situations you might need to apply a pigment fixer or the spray will take a away the pigments.

Now for the final touch - adding some flowers and bushes. I used Army Painter's Meadow Flowers, which you can see in the picture below. For about 4€ you get this strip with white and yellow flowers. Simply use the tweezers to get a small amount and glue it in place.

I also added a few bushes from Citadel's Mordheim bushes set.

Colors and pigments used

Please just take this as a reference of the colors that I used. You can make your own selection and most probably use whatever you already have.

  • Primer: Vallejo Surface Primer Grey.
  • Tiles: Vallejo Model Air Dark Sea Grey, Medium Grey and Citadel Administratum Grey.
  • Soil: Vallejo Model Air Brown and Burnt Umber.
  • Wash: Mig Productions Dark Wash.
  • Pigments: Secret Weapon Miniatures Terracota Earth, Dark Earth and Sewage Muck.
  • Vallejo Satin Varnish.
  • Citadel Mordheim bushes and Army Painter Meadow Flowers.
  • Plus an undetermined number of Moritz 25cl beers.

Hope you liked the tutorial and feel free to post any questions or comments!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tablescapes Display Board unboxing

The much anticipated Tablescapes kickstarter finally arrived home and boy, the wait was well worth it! I ordered a full set of Urban tiles, with a mix of clean and damaged streets, and a smaller display board with a temple ruins theme. Today I'm going to show the unboxing of the display board.

The concept

The Tablescapes system was funded more than a year and half ago, and it's been fighting his way through a myriad of technical and logistical problems. The idea is to make a modular game system designed around 12"x 12" tiles that can be combined in any way, so you could refresh your gaming table every night if you wanted to. I'm personally considering to assemble them fixed in a board but we'll see. A side product of this project are the display boards, which are essentially 4 12"x 12" tiles plus a frame.


The product comes neatly packaged in a 4C Gift Box with a handle, so not only you can keep it stored there, but you can also take it with you comfortably to the game venue.

The 4 tiles of this board, which can be combined in any position

Inside the box we found 2 bags, one with the tiles and the other with the frame parts. Each tile has been individually sealed within a plastic bag, then put all together inside another plastic bag! While I normally despise excessive packaging, I think this product warrants it as you will want to store the tiles in the plastic bags for transportation.
Frame parts in the left, four gorgeous tiles in the right

Each tile is neatly packaged

The frame has 8 parts, plus the neat detail of  a plaque for the army name.

The assembly is easy, using some compression clips on the edges of the tiles. Once it's assembled, the whole thing is pretty sturdy and can be moved around safely.
Notice the rings at the bottom make the tile very solid

What about the detail?

The level of detail is surprisingly good for a plastic, CAD model. There are different heights, the stones are full of small cracks and there is more than enough variety to make it look interesting. To be clear, it is not comparable to the level of detail you would get from a manually crafted terrain, and for instance Secret Weapon Miniatures' bases are much more detailed. Is this disappointing? I think not; a full table with that level of detail would have been much more costly to produce, and I very much prefer a balanced level of quality and cost. Don't get me wrong: the tiles look great, and will look much better once fully painted and weathered.

Details are clear and convincing

At this point I couldn't help myself to just put an army on top, so I unpacked part of my Ulthwé Eldar army whose bases have a temple theme. I think it looks great!
Looks like they like it there

So what next?

I'll start painting a single tile of this set first to test the colors. An airbrush and weathering powders are absolute must have to paint these. I'm also tempted to add a few details of my own - the ubiquotous skull here and there, a few large boulders, some helmets perhaps. I'll be posting results tuned. Stay tuned and for those still awaiting their tablescape -  don't despair, will get to you soon!

Take care!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Let GW know how you'd like them to change

Mr. Kirby fighting his way through customers (allegorical)
We all fellow gamers have our own opinion on GW and what they should be doing instead, and I think most of us agree to a large extent - not necessarily all of this, but at least the spirit of it. If you do want to let GW know you'd like them to change in this direction, please sign this petition.

Link to change.org petition

In summary these are the 5 points:

  1. Realize gamers do game (huh!) and so keep it in mind when designing rules, etc.
  2. Let FGLS manage more SKUs so we can better support them and have a place to play, interact etc.
  3. Prices.
  4. Remember old times when the GW had lots of content, tactics, articles...

And this is the petition itself:

Refocus your business model on the sale of a game and support of a gaming community vice the pure sale of collectible miniatures. 

As competition from outside organizations grow and GW revenues and profits fall, your company seemingly continues to pursue a business model not in alignment with your customer base's desires and expectations.

Your business model states "We make the best fantasy miniatures in the world and sell  them globally at a profit and we intend to do this forever". Realize that you produce a game, and that the models are playing pieces in that game, not the end product themselves. Without the game, there is no need to purchase Games Workshop models. They are not collectible in the same sense as scale military tanks and aircraft, nor are they as utilitarian as historical wargames miniatures, applicable to multiple game systems and supported by real world events. GW models are only useable in the context of GW games, the primary of these being Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Fantasy Battles. 

I and many others collect your models to play the game. Only a fraction of the community do so purely for the experience of owning, building and painting Citadel miniatures. This is why when armies are timely updated and released, model sales for those armies jump. It is not because of marketing through White Dwarf and Online Stores. It is because people want to play with the newest "Toy". Collectors continue with these factions to keep playing the game, not just own miniatures.

Your fanbase and the dedicated gaming and hobby community ask that you adopt the following policies

1- Support gamers, conventions, and tournaments, primarily through well-developed rules and encouraging competitive play. Despite GW's desire for Warhammer to be a "Beer and Pretzels" game that is simply a reason to buy and collect GW miniatures, gamers want a system that can be used for competitive play as well. Just because this is supported does not mean that fun, narrative driven relaxed play is not possible. Appeal to both sides of the gaming community, not just the one you want to more. You cannot interface directly with the small group playing a campaign in their basement. You can with the 100+ players at a tournament. Doing so will improve your corporate image, impassion your playerbase and ultimately encourage the playing or your game which directly correlates to the sale of your miniatures. This means releasing fairly balanced, well play tested rule sets, and timely FAQs which address the issues players are encountering. The relaxed narrative players will appreciate these clearer and improved rules just as much as the cut-throat tournament gamer. And if you wish to encourage a relaxed form of play alongside this while still reaching out to players, the old global campaigns and campaign supplements can foster this and provide gaming groups with a fun alternative to tournaments and competitions.

2- Reduce the number of "Direct exclusive models" and support the FLGS. Game Stores are where your community exists. It is not in their home, alone, painting. Most of the hobby may occur there, but it with the objective in mind that on the weekend they will travel down to their local friendly game store and set up across the table from someone and play a game. That is why they put all the hours into building and painting their army. Sure it may be fun to build and paint it, but it is a means to an end, not the end itself. Since the objective of collecting is to play a game, game store owners are going to promote games they can sell in their store. If majority of your product is exclusively available from your webstore, game store owners will not push your product as they lose potential sales. Without that push or those sales, their gaming community abandons GW games, and without the game they abandon GW/Citadel models. 

3- Competitively price your products. You have some room to charge a slight premium because of the quality of your miniatures. But since the ultimate objective is to play a game at the end of the week, players are going to financially invest in what they can better afford to accomplish this objective. All wargaming is a luxury market. If a player can get the same amount of game time for less with another game and have just as much, if not more fun, then that is where they will invest their dollars. This is a big factor as to why so much competition now exists whereas very little did before. A potential aide to this point would be to allow sales of bits, aftermarket 3rd party add-ons, and discount online retailers. This all encourages throughput of your products, and for players to gather larger or more forces for their games. Sales for GW have only become worse with the policies that eliminate these possibilities.

4- Change your website to be hobby and gaming driven with a webstore option attached for support. This used to be the way it was. Your website should not just be an online marketplace. Your site should be the one stop shop for painting, tactics, gaming communities, upcoming tournaments, etc. etc. The webstore should then be a feature that a player can access after reading a tactica article or a painting guide. It is in game performance that drive sales of models the most, so discussing the performance and ways to use particularly models in game can only benefit you by swaying consumers to purchase it. Beautiful photos and well painted models help, but a vast majority of your playerbase knows is cannot paint as well as your webstore and White Dwarf images, so they fail to be lured in by that trap.

5- Conduct market research and increase player involvement. With the advent of social media this is easier than ever. Rather than just having youtube videos for new releases, have discussions of in progress design concepts to allow hype to be generated and discussion to occur, then systematically feed this back into your development process. Release trial rules again and gather important commentary from the players to fine tune them. Furthermore understand your consumer base and what they need and want to continue collecting, converting, painting Citadel miniatures and playing GW games rather than just assuming another huge kit or wacky limited edition gaming aide is what they need to be fed. With a generation thriving off constant connectivity and insight into early product development in virtually every market, particularly the growing tech and video games industries which manage to steal potential hobbyists daily, a policy of secrecy and blind assumption only will accomplish an alienation of the consumer.
In short, rededicate your company to supporting the selling of a game. This is your main product. Your models are the key playing pieces of this game, and will make you the most money. Without the game though, they are worth nothing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cheap plastic bases for all

Hi guys, this is quick post to share an interesting kickstarter. Micro Art Studio is a small Polish company that does very nice resin bases, like the ones I use on my Eldar army. They have partnered with CMON (who to be fair don't have a great reputation in Kickstarters) but the deal is, with the current stretch goals, you can get 34 very nice bases for just $22 + postage.

There are 4 themes - Chaos/rocks and fire, Eldar/mystic stuff, Wood and Steampunk/trash. I've been using the regular resin Mystic bases and I have to say I'm delighted with them - see below pictures. With cheap, matching plastic bases I can afford to base even the regular Guardians, and I'll have a few spares for the Wraithguard I have yet to build.

Now these are plastic bases not resin, which I very much prefer as there is no risk when sanding, and if you are adding plastic minis you don't even have to bother pinning them!

These bases are really attachments that fit onto round lip empty bases, so should work in the beveled bases used in 40K. Like this:

Here's a link to the kickstarter:

Until the next time!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Eldar Wraith Guard preview

Here's a little preview of the Wraith Guard and Spiritseer I recently finished. I treated myself to the Eldar Ghost Warriors Box so I still have a lot to finish. The first squad uses D-Scytes, yes the lovely AP2 flamers of doom. I plan on building another squad with Wraithcannons, and the third one probably with axe/shield. 

As for the first squad, it is painted like the rest of my growing Ulthwé Eldar army in black with heavy blue accents. Because the miniatures are all black and bone, the blue accent is what really makes them pop. In my mind, the blue represents glowing energy, a physical representation of their power that can barely be contained in the carcasses that the wraithbone really is, and so I use it in every area that is not a flat piece.

I'm only showing half of the squad because I'm waiting for my FGLS to re-stock on the bases, but I have the 5 WraithGuard fully painted to this standard.

If anything I might add some decals but think they will probably be better without. What do you guys think?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Space Wolf Bust showcase

Today I have a very Wolfy treat! This is not part of the new releases but I'm glad I finished it in time for the Wolfmania. Let me introduce you Thorunn Frozenfang, a magnificient bust by the talented Freeman. This is in my mind what a Space Wolf should look like, and even though the current plastic range is pretty good, it still has some cartoonish edge to it. This bust is a lot more to my liking.

This is my first bust and I think came out decently. It is a different beast to paint the face of a 28mm miniature than this, and thus I dared not go for extrme lights and contrasts, and tried to make him look reallistic. This is why for example there are not strong highlights on the shoulderpads - it is a larger scale that requires less tricks to make it pop. It was nonetheless a very enjoyable experience and a nice complement to my Space Wolves army.

The plan for now is to display him proudly in my desk (perhaps move it next to the TV if my wife is candid enough) and revisit the paintjob in the future if I improve my skills; things like adding more depth to the face or increase the weathering. I mean, the face for example has lots of different layers and glazes, and I added different pigments to the armour but the difference in scale somewhat seems to make this less visible. Anyhow I hope you like it and if you are a Space Wolf fan, might consider as well to treat yourself to a copy of Thorunn. For Russ and the Almighty, greetings and thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Why I didn't purchase Storm Claw

GW's last big seller is probably the Storm Claw box - what's not to love having a huge discount on a several kits plus a soft cover version of the rulebook? Despite how attractive this might sound, and being an avid Space Wolves collector, I finally cancelled the order I had placed in my FGLS. They didn't complain at all by the way because they knew it would be gone very fast.

The problem that I see with Storm Claw is that despite the significant price discount, I'm still a SW player and I don't need the Orks. Even when the hobbyist in me thinks it would have been fun to build the Gretchins and Nobz, it is not what I really want to do.

You see, as many people who have been in this hobby for some years, I went from having little money and a lot of time to have little time and enough money to be able to afford this box without compromising my supper. So if I want to get the Space Wolves kits and that beautiful Krom Dragongaze mini, I need to sell or trade the Orks, because I just don't have enough time to spend on them.

As most 40k guys out there, I have a pretty long list of projects both started and in my wish-list, and I know the Orks would have gone straight to the bottom of the list. First I considered buying this box and actually pre-ordered it with the intent of getting rid of the Orks, but then realized that a) I already have enough GHs and Wolf Guard and b) I don't feel like spending time trying to sell the parts that I don't want.

Think it this way - I'm getting the box for the savings and the special miniature, but in order to get those I have to spend time selling, packing and shipping what I don't need. How much do you value your time? If I need to spend a few hours in taking pictures, selling stuff on Ebay, checking the payment has been received, acquiring the packaging, packing and going to the post, I might as well pay the price difference and save myself all the hassle.

I also don't want to entice GW to keep selling limited editions in this way, because as a customer I feel forced to get stuff I don't want to get in order to get them. If it happens that you want the LE mini and the other kits, then surely it's a great deal, but I suspect this is not the primary intent of this offers. Alas no Krom Dragongaze for me unless a find a good deal in Ebay, which won't probably happen.

What do you think about StormClaw? have you purchased it?

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Storm Fang is here!

Big, ugly and ruthless. Because Fenris likes it this way

The new Space Wolves Flyer - hidden in plain sight?

We have known for some time that designers at GW like to come back to the existing books and material for inspiration when it comes to create new things for a given army. Just browse back your White Dwarf collection and there are plenty of references to previous artworks as inspiration for new projects. Case in point, Space Wolves. Their latest miniature, Krom Dragongaze, is inspired by a 3th Ed artwork. Before him, Arjac is very similar to the drawing in the SW codex, and the Thunderwolves kit allows you to build a very similar one to the illustration depicting its entry in 5th Ed. So now that the rumours on the Storm Fang are solid that are being stated as facts, let's have a look at the SW material and see if there is any hint as to what this Flyer might look like.

Let's remember the description given by Natfka in his blog:

"The Stormfang Gunship has the look of half of a Caestus Assault Ram, and is on the cover of next week's White Dwarf. The previous rumors really list out its abilities well. It comes with a Helfrost Destructor, two twin-linked heavy bolters, two stormstrike missiles and ceramite plating, with power of the machine spirit."

And through BOLS there is a comment from Warseer:
"I should really have said 'love-child of a Caestus Assault Ram and a Stormtalon'. That is a better description of the model's appearance."

Is there anything in the codex that could fit with this description?

This illustration comes I think from the 3rd Ed codex. There are some gunships to the right that look more like Thunderhawks in Star Trek that a Caestus Ram. Moving on.

The below are most certainly Thunderhawks so not our Flyer.

The below doesn't look to be a Thunderhawk, and it is too narrow for a StormRaven or variant.
It is like half a Caestus Ram (check) with small wings on the side (Heavy Bolters supports? check) and some engines towards the end. The cargo area also looks bigger than a Storm Raven (capacity 16? check). Is this the StormFang? we'll have to wait a few more days but I think it likely it looks very similar. What do you think?

Edited: this is how it really looks like!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Space Wolves statlines, rules and points cost from Stormclaw

Folks are starting to receive the StormClaw boxes and so we finally get to know the SW statlines and rules. There's a general points decrease across the board, inline with the previous SM and DA releases, and a very bad change (hint: Grey Hunters). Let's have a look:

From Manuales:

Krom Dragongaze 135p

Power armour, Bolt pistol, Frag and Krak Grenades, Belt of Russ (4++) and his axe Wyrnclaw (master crafted power awxe, +2S FP2). Comes with ATSKNF, Acute Senses, Counter-attack, Furious charge and Stubborn. He's of course an IC.
His Warlord trait makes him declare/accept challenges, with To hit re-rolls.

All of this for 135 points! in the old 5th Ed Codex, it would have been something like Wolf Lord (100 pts), Belt of Russ (25) and Frost Axe (25). This makes 150 points and doesn't account for Stubborn neither the fact that his axe doesn't seem to be unwieldly anymore. Alas Krom cannot take a Thunderwolf nor a bike which is where you usually see Wolf Lords. I might yet paint some Wolf Guard stripes in my Krom and actually get to use the mini.

5x Wolf Guard in TDA 230 p

TDA, 1x hammenator, 1x SB/CF, 1x SB/PF, 1x HF / PF, and the pack leader Beoric with SB and a glaive (+1S FP3).  As usual come with Acute Senses, ATSNF and Couter-attack.

Rules wise they keep the same. Hopefully the new codex will still allow them to be attached to other packs, which was an important difference vs. other Space Marine codexes.

If I'm not mistaken, with the old codex this would have amounted to 245 points so there is a little point decrease here. Still sounds expensive for their load-out (they don't even carry combi bolters!).

5x Grey Hunters 125p

Power armour, bolt pistol, boltgun, krak and frag grenades. They don't seem to keep the CCW, which would mean they lose 1A in CC!
The pack leader (Hengist) has a power axe. Plus 1x GH with plasma pistol and chainsword, 1x with a plasma gun. Rules wise get the standard Acute Senses, ATSNF and Couter-attack.

This configuration would have amounted to 130 points, so looks like Grey Hunters might be getting 1 point discount by losing their CCW. A terrible trade-off if you ask me, GH were so good because they were equally capable shooting or in CC.

5x Blood Claws 110p

Power armour, bolt pistol, CCW, krak and frag grenades. 
The pack leader, Egil Redfist, has a PF. Another Blood Claw replaces his bolt pistol for a plasma pistol. Acute Senses, ATSNF, Couter-attack and Rage, so Blood Claws get a generic rule now.

In the old codex this would have costed 130 points, so that's 20 points less. This doesn't make Blood Claws any better though, they are still overcosted and there is no reason to take them over Grey Hunters... with what we know today.

Aside from the GH losing their CCW there's nothing new here. Some cost decreases to bring them inline with the other codices and that's about it. At this point, even Counter-attack doesn't seem to stay its ground when compared to the other Chapter Tactics. We'll have to wait some more weeks to find out! Until then, thanks for reading!

Monday, July 14, 2014

New Space Wolf Formation: Fierce-eye's Finest

Included in the StormClaw box set there is a Space Wolf formation datasheet. What is exciting is that not only it is a fairly interesting one, but one more hint that the Space Wolves codex is about to drop! Without further ado this is the formation:

From WDW 24:
"Fierce-eye’s Finest hunt as a pack, and once one unit in the formation has shot at or
charged an enemy, successive units in the formation who choose the same target reroll
failed attempts."

From the description, the formation seems to be composed of 5 Wolf Guard in Terminator Armour, 5 Blood Claws and 5 Grey Hunters. In a week we'll know if those units can be expanded, and if it's possible then it's a formation we might actually be seeing on the tables. Grey Hunters are the bread and butter of all Space Wolf armies, and Wolf Guard are easily found, if only for how cool the minis are (side note: hopefully GW will make all those hammers and shields in the kit usable by giving them a decent price). Blood Claws I've never seen on a table, as who would pay a Grey Hunter cost for less stats and wargear? hopefully the new codex will see them drop in price.

I'm looking forward to get the full details on this. Assuming this formation works with more numbers of Grey Hunters and Blood Claws, and if you can still stick a Wolf Guard to them (to tank shots), Drop-podded SW might be a thing! drop T1, shoot the 2 specials per pack / combi-bolters from the Wolf Guard / massed bolter fire with re-rolls to the second and third packs shooting the same unit, T2 charge with re-rolls again.

Are those re-rolls to hit, to wound? Only one more week - can't wait to see!

Friday, June 27, 2014

4 great ways to improve your painting skills

Painting is a key part of our hobby, after all, it is the look of the models and armies what got us here in the first place. It doesn't matter if you are a beginner or have been here for a while, if you like or despise painting, these simple tips will help you get consistently better results.

Where do these come from? well with work, house moving, a pneumonia and a small kid at home, my gaming time suffered a drastic reduction (read: was terminated) and I was limited to painting and collecting. I found this can also be a social activity, with plenty of forums and groups you can share your progress with, and events that can drive your motivation to learn, like painting courses or competitions. This is the summary of the most important things I've learned in the last 6 months and that I feel have really made me progress:

1-Use a wet palette
If there was a secret tool ever to improve painting, that has to be wet palettes. Essentially it keeps your paint humid and makes blending a lot more easier. You can add some paints and mix them as you want - the more mixes, the smoother transitions will be. Even if you don't want to spend too much time in a given miniature, making a small color graduation is going to make that coat or fatigues look so much better. The improvement will be much more noticeable if you are still painting straight from the paint pot, as the wet palette will naturally water down your paints.

The wet palette is going to make the paint last much longer before drying, and by that I mean you can add some colours there and keep using them for some days. As long as there is water below, the paints won't dry.

The other great thing about wet palettes is how simple and cheap they are - all you need is an adequate surface, like an old dish or box cover, a sponge and baking paper. Check an online tutorial, like this one from Massive Voodoo.

2-Get a high quality brush
As most people out there, I've been using Citadel brushes for years and always been happy with them; they aren't that expensive, can last a while and generally get the work done. Nothing wrong with that eh? Well, I recently attended a painting course with master painter Volomir and if there was one thing he stressed all day long, was that it was imperative to use quality brushes! the best out there are the infamous Winsor and Newton series 7. Granted one of those costs like 3 Citadels but they are well worth the price. These brushes are very good at keeping a sharp edge and are extremely helpful for blending colors. I was hesitant at the beginning but after trying them, I know I'm not using anything else.

3-Study some color theory
Color theory is again something that most of us have a sense for but probably have never gotten too much thought about why some colors look good together (turquoise + orange on the example below ) or why that army is so catchy on the eye. At the end of the day, when we are painting miniatures what we are actually doing is trying to make a small scale look like it was much bigger, and because the light and color properties are much different in a 1/1 or 1/50 scales, we do things like edge highlightning or shadows. And the secret to great looking miniatures is creating contrast. Contrast can simply be shadow vs. light. lack and white, but can also be done in subtler ways like using complementary colors (wonder why Orks have red accents?), warm/cool and more. So my advice is read something on the subject and start playing with color combinations based in the theory: for example, use a complementary color for the shadows instead of a black (or even better, mix black with that complementary and a bit of the base color); choose color accents keeping in mind their relation with other colors (see the army above, the blue accent contrasts with the orange weathering), etc.

4-Attend painting competitions and courses
This mini really caught my eye on the Games Day 2012
Painting competitions can be a double edge sword - comparing your stuff to incredible pieces of art produced by professionals who have invested 150 hours in that piece alone can be hard, but also a great motivation. I think having the chance to see all that inspiration more than compensates the possible deception, and can be a powerful motivator in the future. Sure you don't need to paint all that well, all that you need is catch some ideas or concepts and try to apply them on your own. For example, I was blown away by the 'Eavy metal painted Sanguinor I saw on the Games Day 2012 but that is something I will not even attempt at the moment; instead I realized most faces were painted in a different way than the usual White Dwarf tutorial of base flesh color + brown wash, and have been making progress since in replicating those. Now I'm quite happy with the way I paint faces and while they will not win me a prize, I can look at those in my cabinet with some pride. So be prepared to be blown away and be positive - use it as inspiration not to demotivate you!

I was there... the day after this session
As for the courses, having someone show you how blendings and glazes are done will save you countless hours of trying on your own. My own experience was not so much of being a better painter after the course, but of having the tools now to become one. Sure my first attemps at blending like I was taught weren't great but even the first attemps already were better than anything I'd done before. Now I know it's down to me putting enough hours to get there. And let's not forget on the social side of things, it is a great way to get to know other people with similar interests and have a great time painting together. This can help you find a painting group, who said painting was not a social activity?

Hope this was useful, it really reflects my thoughts after doing those points myself, and I think this is the biggest leap I have ever made in painting. Have you had similar experiences or other tips to share?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...