Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cheering Up A Friend

Some days are better than others, but then there are days that make the list.  In case you didn't click the previous link, my friend recently had a really really bad day.  My response was to keep up a constant stream of pictures from the latest (and eagerly awaited) commission for him. 

That's the start.  I was told platinum blonde hair, but not too white.  I used a very light grey with some yellow wash, and then started picking out the highlights with the same base color mixed in with a dash of yellow, followed by highlighting up to white and topped with a yellow wash.  BONUS: The eyes came out looking absolutely lovely!

The shirt came out looking great.  The character, named Alta, is an NPC sailor on the ship, "The Virtuous Maiden," in an ongoing fantasy campaign I'm running.  When I asked how her shirt was to be painted I was told, "Blue, like the water."  I broke out a nice turquoise and started with that.  I tried a nice light green wash, but stopped using it pretty quickly when I saw that it wasn't going to really show up in the recesses.  Instead I went with a dark blue wash, and starting with the base color again highlighted up towards a mint white.  I like smoothing things over with a thin wash after I'm done highlighting, and so I used the green wash from earlier and it turned out perfectly.

When originally looking at the mini from the front you can see what might come across as kneepads, but it's actually her knees showing through.  Turns out that the leather guard on front is more a pair of chaps.  There was some deliberation as to whether or not her knee or pants were showing.  Checking out the back of her legs you can see some natural folds that don't look quite like skin, and thus resulted in the above.

Trying to gauge how close to completion a miniature is can be very difficult.  Sometimes it looks like you're nowhere near done only to find out that you just have a few minor details left, and other times it looks like you're 95% done for an additional four hours of work.  Alta ended up being the former.  There was a lot of spots of leather, and normally I like to vary it up a bit and make some of the leather black or a darker shade of brown, but I was requested to keep it as just leather.  I'm glad I did, and I think the worked out very well.  I may have to change how I approach similar materials on miniatures in the future.

So that's the finished miniature right?  Well, not exactly.  She's fully painted yes, but I still wanted to add more to her base. 

Alta's companion has already been painted up previously, and I wanted her basing to match his.  This way they could stand together on the table and be in unison.  My friend was very happy with the final result, and now Alta and Lictalor are together at last.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

All Aboard!

It started out like any other evening.  Work was winding down, and I only had one stop to make on the way home.  The previous day I had received a notice that a package was waiting for me to pick up from the post office.  I hadn't been expecting anything, and my curiosity was piqued.  After I retrieved my parcel from the postal teller I noticed that the sender was simply labeled as, "Chaosium."  Thinking nothing of it I returned home and began to inspect its contents:

What did I find inside?  The beginning:

A treasure trove of lost knowledge and artifacts had been sent to me.  Tickets, passports, postcards, a map, and books started me on a European tour that I would never forget, try as I might:

My hands trembled as I removed the blasphemous knowledge from its sturdy cradle.  I struggled to understand the curvilinear hieroglyphs that seemed foreign yet strangely familiar to me. 

Names, places, danger, and terror beyond comprehension flashed through my mind as my fingers danced across the tomes.  I wanted to turn away, to leave the precipice of discovery at which I stood, yet something sinister kept drawing me in:

I finally reached the last of the box's contents.

In my hands I held diagrams of some profane and alien nature.  What lost and ancient evil threatened to consume me?  Could I survive such a journey, and would I want to?  My eyes looked out the window to the dawning twilight, and in my ears I fancied that I could hear the distant whistle of a train calling out to its passengers.  The Orient Express awaits.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Fun Times at Windy Con

Even though I'm entering into the new weekend I'm finally posting about my experiences at Windy Con from the previous weekend.

Windy Con is a small Sci Fi con held at the Westin in Lombard, which coincidently is the same place I've gone to for Adepticon (though Adepticon is going to be held at a new location this year).  Overall it's a small con, but nice.  While my big attraction to the con was seeing friends up north, I happened upon some really neat costumes.  First up is a member of the 501st on his way to judge a costume contest:

Unfortunately I either didn't get his name, or forgot to write it down, but he had important business to do.  I've been following the 501st on Facebook and admire the group.  They have a very positive message for people who want to costume, and are very anti-bullying among other noble qualities.  Getting to meet one was pretty awesome!

As if meeting one of the 501st wasn't awesome enough, I saw an incredible fallen Chamberlain costume from Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal:

Seeing a costume like this is always a wonderful treat, and there was a lot of hard work and TLC that went into this.  I was so taken aback that I didn't think to get a picture *WITH* the Chamberlain.  I'll not be so surprised next time!

Last but not least is a bit of swag that I came across:

I was surprised to come across these two gems.  I have been hunting for Nyan Nyan and Captain R for a while, but they have been in short supply with no relief in sight.  The dealer's room at Windy was a bit lacking for my tastes since it's more of a sci-fi/local con rather than a gaming con, but coming across those two minis was a pretty nice find!

My painting has been lagging behind a bit, but now that the ZOE-miniatures are done (and on display this weekend!) I'm back to focusing on commissions with a few pieces of my own mixed in for flavor.  Currently up on deck is a Snow Storm model I'm doing for a friend.  The first piece, Snow, is done and below.  You might notice the start of a holiday theme, but it will become more apparent once I've finished Storm:

Now that I'm not traveling as much I hope to get some more painting time in on the weekend.  Once Snow Storm is finished I'll be painting up an NPC referred to as Alta which uses an Elf from Reaper's Warlord line.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Shadow!

So the final piece of the puzzle is now in place.  The heroes have a villain to face off against:

Being as he's called, "The Shadow," I decided to go with a black on black motif.  There are a few ways to approach painting black that I've discussed before.  My preferred method is to lighten up black to a grey, but the alternative way is to use blue.  In this case you can see that I used turquoise.  I am exceedingly pleased with how the final result came out.  I was worried that I'd struggle with getting the right shade of blue, but using a turquoise worked a lot better than if I had used a straight blue.  Now to look at the cloak, starting with the inspiration pic:

The big question I had to ask myself is: What color is his cloak?  When I look at the above pic I keep alternating between grey and a very light/silky beige.  In the end I decided to combine the two and go with a beige base and highlight up to a grey:

The end result is pretty much what I was hoping to get, and I feel that it is a good representation.

If you haven't guessed by now it should be pretty easy to tell that I am a fan of Zombie Orpheus Entertainment.  I've had the pleasure and honor to meet the crew and cast on multiple occaisions at Gen Con, and when I asked if they would like to display them at ZOE-Con I was given a very enthusiastic response.  So stop on by ZOE-Con if you're in the area and check out these lovely pieces in person!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Heroes Gather

If you've read the title then I'm going to assume you're here for the heroes.  Let's start with the finished (and alive) Flynn the Fine:

Out of all the miniatures from the Zombie Orpheus Entertainment group that I've done; this one is the most detailed.  I feel that he turned out very nice, and there are only a couple of differences from the movie costume.  On the right shoulder there is more of a guard rather than a ruffle (like on the left), and there seems to be an extra arm guard on that arm as well for some reason.  The other noticeable difference is that the face is clean shaven.  It's like the sculptor mixed up the two heads for Sir Osric and Flynn.

With the completion of the original party there was only one thing that needed to be done:  A group shot.

Seeing everything come together is one of the most satisfying parts of painting.  Each piece fits in its place, and then the whole group together seems to take on new life.  The only thing that's missing from this picture is a good villain.  Oh wait:

Guess what's up to be painted next?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Unboxing Robotech RPG Tactics

It finally arrived!  My wave 1 Robotech RPG Tactics Kickstarter pledge:

This is by far the largest box I've gotten for a kickstarter, and it's only the first wave.  While it had some space inside, there was still a lot to be found waiting within:

Once I got it all out it took up a pretty big area on my bed:

While I have another wave coming with a bunch of expansion stuff, this is definitely the lion's share.  This was a good buy, to be certain.  In the above pic you can see a couple of prints I got for adding on a Homecoming pledge onto my original Battlecry pledge.  Both pieces of art are ones that I like, and they were printed on semi-glossy paper that has a good feel to it.  They will look great on my geek-wall once I get them framed.  There's also the art print I got from my Battlecry pledge, and it is a great piece as well.  So much art!

Ok, let's take a look at the inside of the box:

That's not a site that I feel comfortable with.  It looks like the sprues were just placed in their haphazardly.  Considering the amount of shifting/turning that can occur during shipping this could become an issue.  That being said, my box arrived shrink-wrapped, and not a single piece was off the sprue, so my concern may be misplaced. 

The books and cards were undamaged, and on the bottom of the box, so they weren't affected by any shifting.  I haven't done a base count yet, but I should.  Normally I'm not as worried about bases as I have a good stock of pre-made bases as well as extras.  The bases for Robotech are different, so I'm going to have to manage what I have.  One problem I did notice was that the bag of RDF dice was open, and the dice had spilled all over the inside of the box.  At first I didn't think anything of it, but after counting I noticed that I was missing two, and one of them had an extra drop of plastic on it that must have been a manufacturing defect:

I've sent off a message to the Robotech Kickstarter as I imagine it's a simple fix.  So there's a lot of stuff in the main box, but I also got some extra stuff.  There was a plethora of additional/redundant models, which means my collection is going to be pretty awesome to start with:


The 76 base box of Robotech retails for about $100 USD, and comes with approx 40 miniatures.  The add-on for the kickstarter adds on another 36 miniatures in wave 1 alone (there's more to come in wave 2!).  One thing that I'd like to take a moment to point out, and congratulate, Ninja Division & Palladium books on is the inclusion of these:

Instructions!  Over the past four or five years miniatures companies have been making the switch to plastic.  Some companies like Reaper have left their plastics fairly simple, but plenty of others have gone more complex.  There's nothing wrong with having a complex assembly, but a lack of instructions can be very frustrating for many hobbyists.  I have seen many complaints on the lack of instructions included not just with kickstarters, but with plastic miniatures in general.  Companies are starting to get the message and rectify things, but I wanted to give a hearty, "Bravo!" to Palladium and Ninja Division for including these from the get go.

You may have noticed a couple additional add-ons on top of the main box.  I got these to either round out my forces (I'm liking the number four in the case of Robotech) or because I wanted to have a different loadout.  One case of this is the Artillery Battlepods:

  I got a group of four with the main box, and I have a feeling I'll try to magnatize the weapons, but I wanted the heavy particle cannon.  Originally it was going to be included as a bonus, so I picked up an extra set of artillery pods, but it turned out that they could fit it on the sprue so now everyone can have the joy of heavy Particle Projection Cannons!

Continuing with my need for groups of four I picked up an additional set of Destroids so I could field up to four Excalibers Tomahawks, and four Raider X's Defenders.  All that is left now is to trade my services for other Robotech miniatures to round out other groups of four as I need at least two more Spartans and two more Gladiators.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Surprise!

So I'm continuing my work on the Zombie Orpheus Entertainment models, and I get an email notification telling me to expect a package from Palladium.  Since I haven't ordered anything from them that means it can only be my Robotech miniatures!  This means I'll be getting my miniatures before my friend, and have an opportunity to get some of them painted up before the commission comes in.  Needless to say I was happily surprised.  I still have a couple of pieces to finish up before then though.  Expect an unboxing video within the next couple of days!

Now on to the completed Sir Osric:

There's a lot I like about how he came out.  The hair came out really good, and I'm starting to experiment more with shading and highlights.  Not sure if you can tell, but I'm making more use of shadows on the face, and have plans to be a bit more ambitious with how apparent it is in the future.  I feel very happy with the shading on Osric's tunic.  The sunburst turned out to be more tricky than I anticipated, and I would have liked my hands/brushes to have cooperated more.  Everything else came together pretty well.  The other points I have already pointed out.  This weekend I hope to finish up Flynn the Fine in his less dead format.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Working in Seclusion

Coming up for a breath of air, and to share the works I've completed.  Work is starting to lighten up a bit and be less tiring with the hire of additional help.  As a result I hope to be able to start posting more frequently in the near future.  I'm making a concentrated effort to paint during my, "downtime," and would like to share the fruits of my labor.  I've been busy focusing on more miniatures from the Hand of Fate kickstarter I mentioned previously, and I have picked up a couple of other pieces to paint while I wait for Robotech stuff, a commission as well as my own pledge,  to come in.

First up is the renowned Brother Silence (who is not an elf!):

After showing this miniature to a few of my friends I have always heard comments relating to his face.  It may be difficult to tell, but (to my eyes at least) the mini was sculpted such that he is performing a martial arts shout.  To a lot of people this looks off, but I happen to like it.  So many miniatures are stuck with their faces frozen in a very limited number of poses/expressions, and coming across a mini that has a very different expression can add a new layer to the piece.  Overall I'm happy with the mini.  I keep trying to work with the orange and yellows that I have, but I need to pick up some new ones as I feel limited whenever I have to paint anything near an orange tone.

Up next is Daphne, and a few issues start to emerge:

Again one of the first things commented on with this miniature is the face.  Poor Daphne looks like she took too many blows to the face, and is sporting a broken nose.  When I was prepping the mini to be primed I was a bit concerned about trying to touch up the nose.  I didn't want to leave it like it was, but I was also worried that trying to fix it would break it off.  I tried to work around it as best I could, and hope that it's just a defect in my piece and not the mold itself.  This is one of the first miniatures in the line that looks different from her movie counterpart.  The miniature actually has bracers on her arms, which the character doesn't wear at all during the movie.  To compensate I painted the sleeves completely black (like the movie), and just left the bindings painted on for artistic effect.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  The rest of the sculpt holds up pretty well, and that was my only real complaint.  The shirt and cape both turned out very well.  I mixed up some Reaper Master Series metallics with some of their normal paint in order to get a bit of shimmer working, and the effect was quite successful.  Painting blue is something I'm still working at getting.  The shading and highlighting is become much more gradual, but it still needs a bit of work to bring out the brighter areas.  That being said I'm still very excited to be getting my blending to work out smoother.

Ok, last one for today is a work in progress of Sir Osric:

There is a lot that I'm liking about my paint job, but a few issues I have with the miniature itself.  The character of Sir Osric the paladin is clean-shaven in the movie, but the miniature itself is sporting a goatee.  My guess is that the sculpter put it on because the person playing the character in the movie also has a goatee.  The character also carries a shield and wears a cape, neither of which this miniature has.  I was tempted to sculpt them myself, but as I haven't seen other miniatures painted up online I've decided to leave it as is for now.  Paint-wise I love how his hair has come out, along with his shirt.  I feel like I've been hitting the highlights and shading pretty well on this one, and it's been a lot of fun to paint.  I still need to hit the boots and shoulder pads with a wash, and then pick out highlights, followed by the gloves, boots, and belt.  After that it's just the base.  Speaking of bases almost all of the miniatures have a really small footprint, and I have plans to mount them on bases to help stabilize them.  Even Brother Silence, who has the biggest footprint out of them all, could stand (pun not intended) to be put on a base.  Sir Osric is the worst, and consistently falls over with the slightest provocation.

I hope to have Sir Osric finished up soon, and then it's on to Flynn The Fine (alive version)!