Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dawn of War II - Looking GOOD

I'm not much for video games and RTS in general, but This little beauty was just released on THQ (saw it through BoLS) and wow, I'm going to have to give it a whirl!!!

watch a larger version here

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Blade Saints Veterans WIP

Over the course of the repainting project of my Blade Saints, I've completed step 3 as described in my last post on my entire army. Before going into the nit-picky process of repriming all my black parts again as described in step 4, I figured I'll leave the standard marines a while and do my veterans before I move on. The beauty of this process is that even at this stage, with the whole army at the same level of completeness it's a very respectable army to put on the table.

My veterans are the Dark Angel robed models, and painting these deviates from the standard process after step 3 so I figured I can take a "break" of sorts from the rank and file and concentrate on 11 models. Here are a few pics of their work in progress, armour done and outside of the robes done.. left to do are the details and the inside of the robes.

Brother Sargeant Timeon and his Devastator Longsword

Brother Sargeant Arbalon and his Tactical Blade combat squad leader

Brother Sargeant Hezekiah and his Tactical Blade combat squad leader and Plasma Gunner

Thanks for stopping by. As always, all comments and feedback welcome.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

FtW How to paint: Black Armour

LONG POST warning, MANY pics:

Continuing in detail from this week's FtW Round Table Discussion, the topic was each blogger's hardest color. I must confess, my submission wasn't so much my hardest color to get (there are too many ;P) as much as the trick I've developed of getting consistent highlighting on my current army's power armour color, black. I hope by posting it here it'll help others tweak it to their own use.

1. Undercoat with black primer
This is the standard step using Chaos Black primer (and therefore no pics for this step). NOTE: always allow full drying time between these steps.

2. Add "Halo of Light" highlight
This is the crux of this process: A basic concept in miniature painting is the "Halo of Light" where an an imaginary light source above the figure is used to determine where light will fall and where shadows will occur and be deepest. A common rule of thumb is to pretend that the 'halo' is located above and to the front-right of the model (when looking at the model). In my method, instead of using guess-work to determine where the highlights and shadows are as you're painting, I use a concrete indicator by using the Skull White primer. The model ends up with white for the highlights in the top-most areas while the black remains in the areas shaded by the model's contours by doing the following:
  • Holding the Skull White primer 8-10cm directly above the mini, apply 3-5 pulses from the spray
  • apply another 2-3 pulses from the top-front-right and lastly
  • another 2-3 pulses from the top-back-right.
These 'pulses' are exactly as short as they sound. You are not moving the spray across the model (as in normal undercoating sprays), you are holding it stationary and 'blipping' the spray. The following pics show the direction of the white spray.

[click all pics for larger versions]

The black that is seen in these pics are not from an overhead light source, but from the black and white paint on the model. I added the top-back-right step since, from experience, I found that without it the back of the models look flatter than the front. Here are a few more examples.

A quick note before we go further: The influence for this step is from Kenaz Raynor and his first model painting video. In it, he showed the use of a top-spray of white over black primer as a guide for later layers of paint. While I also use this method for the non-armour painting (specifically for robes and muscles on Orcs), I developed the use of a heavier layer of white and extended the process.

2b Repaint non-armoured portions of the model with Chaos Black (not shown)
Normally at this point I would go back and re-apply the black paint to the areas of the model that will not be armoured (robes, weapons etc). For the purpose of time to produce this tutorial I didn't do this step with these models. But do as I say, not as I do ;) because I found this is the best time to do this step since any mistakes with repainting the black can be corrected with another blast of the white. If you wait until later in the process and make the same mistake, it won't be as easy to correct.

3. Apply first wash
Once the model is dry, apply the first wash to the armoured areas of the model. As I mentioned in my Blade Saints Color Scheme post, I use a mix of the GW Thraka Green and Leviathan Purple washes. A 3:1 ratio makes a very deep blue-black wash (unintuitive, I know).
This first layer of wash provides the initial color and immediately provides a depth to the highlighted areas. Again, observe the pics and you'll see that the pigment not only applies color to the white areas, but also collects in the appropriate areas to provide a shadow blended into those white areas. Please note that I have used other washes before, but this is a new process for me and so I've only had experience with GW washes. It goes to say that they behave exactly the way I need them to in order for this process to work and I can't vouchsafe for other washes.

I was a little impatient doing this tutorial, so these pics show the wash not quite dry yet (DO as I say.. you know the rest :)

4. Drybrush any still-black armour areas
Some of the armour, specifically those under overhanging portions of the model will still be almost black. If you look at the model at this stage it will be very clear that leaving these areas with that much shadow would look unnatural. In these areas, which I find mainly to be in the back and waist of the model (see the back-left thigh and the grenades on the pictured model), drybrush with Astronomican or Shadow Grey (your taste). Note: Do not let the drybrush areas get lighter than the current shade of the highlighted areas of the armour.

Optional: If you're a fan of the extreme highlight style of miniature painting, apply the highlight to the edges of the top-most areas of the armour. The models in these pics did not have extreme highlights applied but you'll see in the end result that the edges are naturally highlighted due to the behavior of the wash.

UPDATE: 4b. Paint any metallic areas to be washed (not shown)
On review of this article and as I'm now going back and painting my army I realize that I missed a step related to the non-armoured areas: My colour scheme uses metallic on the left shoulder trim, on the chest aquillas, and on the weapons. I basecoat these areas with Boltgun Metal at this stage, and I wash them with the next layer. After the second wash (next step) I re-highlight with Boltgun Metal again and final highlight with Mithril Silver.

5. Second wash
Apply the second wash to deepen the light areas and further blend the drybrush and highlights. After this stage you'll have a fairly dark model with a very blended shade. As before the wash will naturally flow to the lowest portions of the model and provide another layer of blending to the highlights. It also blends the drybrushed areas so as to remove any chalky look, and blend the extreme highlights.

This is the last official step for the armour. It is now a matter of taste and circumstance whether you decide a model needs a third or even fourth wash. In my experience there will be the odd times when the first 2 washes may have been too thin, and I applied a third just to get it consistent with the other models. Again, don't worry about it during the first 2 washes; do not go back and re-apply a wash before the whole model is dry. Leave it to this step for the final adjustment or your models will all be different shades at the end.

Here more pics of the final result:

And that's the process for the armour, go back and paint the rest of the mini in the normal fashion.

These pictures are very consistent with the rest of the mini's I've painted so far. Which is where I felt the strength of this process lies. Each step is fairly easy and quick but, taking account drying time between steps, it doesn't necessarily make for a fast process. And you're still on the hook for the non-armoured areas such as weapons, robes and flesh. That's how I paint my Blade Saints' black armour to a very consistent quality and highlight and a (IMO) pleasing finish.

A last note on how transferable this process is: Based on my results I don't believe that this method is limited to the color I've chosen. I'm very sure that with a bit of experimentation standard colors such as blues, reds and yellows can be done using combinations of the base coat (black or a deep foundation paint on top of the black primer), the halo-effect color (not necessarily skull white especially now with the GW spray gun/airbrush being available), and the well chosen GW wash. I already know it works to build up a deep green simply by substituting straight Thraka Green for the wash, so I'll be carrying this technique over to painting my son's Fallen as well as my next armies!!

I hope this will prove helpful to some. I appreciate you pushing through it, as I know it was a long article. As always, thanks for stopping by and I welcome your comments.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

FtW Round Table - Core Units - Command Squad

Continuing from this week's FtW Round Table Discussion on the one must-have unit that is always included in the army list. Mine is the Blade Saints Chapter's first company(sword) command squad.

The Archons of Battle, the Heavenblade Command Squad: Terminator Scythe Titus

Brother Sergeant Titus w/ Twin Lightning Claws

Brother Apothecary Saul w/ Storm Bolter and Powerfist

Scythe Brother Balan w/ Storm Bolter, Chain Fist and Cyclone Missile Launcher

Scythe Brother Nebiros w/ Twin Lightning Claws

and you've met Scythe Brother Silas, Standard Bearer w/ Twin Lightning Claws

I've just added the Brother Apothecary Saul and he's already made himself felt in the first battle yesterday.

I've mentioned in/on various posts this week, but this squad is hell incarnate in close combat, and still effective in ranged combat.

Attached to Malthius (Belial), Sword Master of the Heavenblade Company, and getting into close combat on the charge this squad does the following carnage:
Malthius will bring 6 attacks on Initiative 6: 4 +1 for the charge, +1 for the standard. The Lightning Claws will bring 15 attacks (5 each) on I4: 3 +1 for the charge, +1 for the standard.

That's 21 attacks all with re-rolls to wound... by this time the opponents are thinned if not wiped out (small Termie squads are toast) and the power/chainfist are cleanup, but add to that the Apothecary ignoring 1 failed save and this squad's got staying power.

Thanks for checkin it out.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Malthius with Lion's Talons

Well, as per usual - along the lines of changing color schemes mid-project - I've decided to make a change to Malthius and give myself the option of twin lightning claws.

After posting to fellow FtW Blogger site's Wither the Deathwing post about the assaulty goodness of the Belial Termi Command Squad, I re-thought and reconsidered (5 attacks + reroll 1 to-hit? or 6 attacks and reroll all to-wounds? hmmm) and decided to go ahead and do the deed. The arms&shoulders on Malthius are already magnetized so I can now switch back and forth, but I had thought that I'd be playing the SBolter/Sword of Silence config for a while.

These pics show the Claws WIP still. I'm working on an outline for a step-by step on painting my power armor so I also used this as an excuse to make the change.

[click the image for larger pics]

Let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Rituals, Deployment, Cheating...

This week’s FtW Blogger Group Round Table was about pre-game rituals. Being newly returned to the hobby and having played less than 12 'real' games I know I don’t have any set rituals yet. Now, I’m treating ‘rituals’ and ‘routines’ as things you do to get you ready for the game or because you think it’ll bring you luck if you do them, or bad luck if you don’t. Based on this explanation I don’t have any but there is something I find myself doing pre-game: I second guess my army config until the very last second.

I’ve gone through the trouble of setting up multiple lists at the standard army sizes. So for 750, 1000, 1500 and even 1750 I have 2 sometimes 3 lists. Now, they aren’t very different from each other but, they are different enough, and I’m inexperienced enough, that I don’t have that seasoned intuition on one list that works at a specific size. For each size I lists to field a full Deathwing army, a Deathwing with Greenwing support, a Mixedwing… at maybe for each ‘flavour’, one or two dreadnaughts? A 5 man devestator squad or a full 10 man unit? I’m here to tell you there is such a things as too much variety!

That said I know that as I gain more game experience I’ll start to get a feel for what force I want to field for what army size. But it’s slow going and there’s one aspect that I know I will continue to have difficulty with because it sits wrongly with me in principle:

Having to decide your force makeup before you know what mission and deployment you’re playing; I’m new, but I haven’t found the actual rule besides being implied when reading the book that you would know your army size and makeup before the rolls are made for mission type and deployment. I know there’s a school of army-building-thought that this is what makes the game fair and challenging: having to create armies to be flexible enough to execute in any mission. This makes complete sense to a point. But come at it from the other side, it just doesn’t sit as practical for me to pretend that I (as a commander) wouldn’t know what my general objectives are (mission), what the terrain is like and my direction of travel and patrol (deployment) before I choose the units to participate in an action. So question; for one game my opponent and I ended up rolling for mission and deployment before we took out our models, so both of us had this information before we setup our armies. Based on the info it informed my decision but I don’t know if my opponent did the same. Did I cheat? Would it be cheating to have the units ready for a range of configuration and make the final decision at deployment? oh, and we played to a decisive 6th turn win for me, and I know that I was more comfortable/in control from the start.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Rationalized Dark Angels FAQ

The Dark Fortress has posted FAQ by way of a contributor to the Bolter and Chainsword forum. This FAQ suggests a sensible rationalization of the DA vs. Space Marine codex discussions.

Here's the link to the summary on Dark Fortress

A cursory review looks pretty fair. I have both codex' and I'll likely continue to play the straight DA codex for some time. Fact is, I've gotten very attached to the army builder app and if it aint available in the program then I don't fancy myself competitive enough to have the motivation to count off point by hand and pen and paper.

At most I'll ask "hey, mind if I count the CML as Heavy2 per C:SM?" after that I'm good. One sticking point though... I am still disappointed though, that Ravenwing bikes can't boost during their scouting move :(