Tuesday, October 31, 2006

RETIRED: Project Planning - the Laubersheimer Industries Way (Stage 2)

Originally published on Oct 31, 2009

Continuing with the description of my wacky project planning process...

Stage 2: Some Planets Align

Things started out with some passive brainstorming - a bunch of ideas exist and they're all under consideration. Stage 1 is pretty passive and nebulous. Not too much conscious/directed thought being put into a single specific project at this point.

Stage 2 is where a a particular idea starts to become better defined. Importantly, nothing concrete has been laid down yet! I'm still basically free-wheeling at this point.

Usually, an idea starts to take form around a particular gaming or artistic need (technically a desire, since it isn't food, water, shelter and clothing). This is can be a need for an army to play whatever game I happen to be into at the moment. A project can also form around purely artistic goals as well. Most times, the project starts forming around both of those things. Though a gaming need is usually the senior partner.

At this point there is a casual thought running through my head: "Hey, I need an army for Warhammer Fantasy!" or "Man, painting Forgeworld models seems fun!"

Once that happens, all of those random ideas I mentioned in stage 1 start attaching themselves to the need. Army lists start being paid more attention too and I a few painting ideas start taking root. This is really the main bullet point of stage 2.

There's one other factor that can also play a role in this stage - a financial windfall. Gaming and painting aren't cheap hobbies. Often times a some money left over from your tax return or a gift giving holiday of some sort can also get me thinking about a new project.

Its much easier to get the ball rolling when Uncle Sam hands you a couple hundred bux or when you're brother in Missouri gives you a Stegadon for Christmas.

Next up the project details start getting defined.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Retired: Project Planning - the Laubersheimer Industries Way (Stage 1)

Originally published: Oct 29, 2009

Project Future Boys is still bangin' along nicely. I feel like end of December to end of January is a safe date range to predict for completion. Not too far past my super optimistic first thoughts and still turbo speed compared to any thing else I've worked on in a long while.

I swear I'll take pictures at some point and share my progress. Really. Scout's honor.

But the nub of my gist isn't lame excuses.

The Eldar will actually be completed in the foreseeable future and X-mas approaches- which means my mind is wandering over new projects more than usual.

Today I want to share my thoughts (or start doing so) on how I go about picking and planning a new project. Everyone has there own way of doing things and I think a peek into someone else's thoughts is always a little fun for me. Since a new project idea has firmly taken root in my brain, I can write about what's going through my head as it happens.

As you can probably guess from the title, this will be a multi-part series.

Stage 1: Passive Brainstorming

At this point in what can be loosely defined as a process, I'm not consciously looking for a project. Most of the projects I actually start, spend some amount of time in jumbled in a cloud of thoughts about stuff I'd like to do. And let me tell you, there's a lot of stuff in that cloud.

At any given time, I have a number of nascent and aged ideas running around my head all vying for attention.

[Stream of conscious moment]: Fuck you, above sentence! That is just the worst thing I've written in a long while. I can just imagine my readers imagining me writing that sentence with a snifter of brandy in one hand and a thesaurus in the other while lounging in my library surrounded by large oaken furniture and an old globe. When did I get to be such a pretentious fuck?

OK... I'm primarily an information reader. Its one of the reasons I have so many rulebooks for so many games on my shelves... in my library... on large shelves... I also tend to spend a lot of time on the internet devouring the knowledge of others - gaming related or not. I like to check facts, re-read stuff and so on as part of that. Ever paused an episode of MST3K to look up an obscure reference to an author and end up searching a library catalog for some books only to find that you've wasted 45 minutes between point A and B reading literary criticism and wikipedia pages? I have. That's just a taste of the ridiculous amounts of reading I do and the strange information needs my brain creates.

As I spend a ton of time thinking about painting and gaming, I also do a lot of reading on the subjects. Hand in hand with this is a general habit of trawling the internet for inspiration. I look for new tutorials, pictures of other people's work, beefy army lists, tactics discussions and so on. Due to these compulsions, I've always got a ton of ideas floating around in my head - many of them only feasible once I've won the lottery.

[Note to self]: you have to actually buy lotto tickets to win the lottery.

So, I've got all these ideas stored up. Some are almost fully formed projects. Others are just one-off ideas for a single model. All that's needed is some kind of alignment of the planets to get one of those ideas out of my head and into production (and develop it further if need be).

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

[Retired] Back to Basics - The Stuff Beginners Need to Know (Pt1)

I've had an idea kicking around in my head a while... A while ago, I decided to aim my blog in a slightly different direction. My writing has mostly attempted to meet those goals. But maybe something is missing?

A few days ago I picked up the AT-43 initiation set to see what a pre-painted game is all about. Besides it being pretty fun so far, one other thing struck me. The quality of the pre-paints is better than what most gamers bring to the table if they even bother to paint at all. This got me thinking. How useful is my blog as an information source if I only write for the advanced painters?

I spend a lot of my time writing about fancy tools, weird techniques and so forth. My articles on paint types and bad taste are a step in the right direction for many people because they address fundamental concerns of painting. My articles on buying and using an airbrush... less so.

I am by no means going to stop with the advanced stuff, but I think this is a good time to stop and help out the beginners. So, realizing that painting can be hard, frustrating and discouraging, here is some advice for the beginners:

How To improve Your Painting: for the Beginners
Chances are you've picked up a brush and applied color to something at some point in your life. Even if all you've ever done is paint a wall or or fiddled around with washable paints in kindergarten you've got the basic concept down: using a brush to apply paint to a surface. Not that hard. What is hard (and often intimidating) is doing all that 'fancy stuff' to really make you're miniatures look great.

But you don't need all that fancy stuff to get a good miniature. Lets go back to the AT-43 pre-painted miniatures and do some analysis. Here's an example: Link.

The AT-43 paint jobs are pretty simple, pretty basic and pretty good. At least good enough that the majority of AT-43 players seem to have little interest in re-painting them (though this could be a function of the mindset the game attracts). Could they be better? Yes. But they do two things: they convey the sense that the model is a stand in for a real-life thing and they aren't embarrassing.

All you need to recreate this on your 40k models is a few basic concepts and techniques. Hell, you might even end up with something BETTER than the AT-3 models. If you're a super beginner, this article will answer some questions about paint selection, priming and a few other prep areas.

1) Keep your lines clean. This is probably the hardest thing on this list because it requires a steady hand and at least some practice Try and keep the borders between painted areas of the models neat and straight. Basically, don't color outside the lines. Importantly, I'm not talking about black-lining either.

2) Keep your coats of paint smooth. This might be the most important thing on the list. One of the many, many reasons I have so little regard for the BoLS hobby content is the fact that all of their actual tutorials make it look like the miniatures are made out of oatmeal. This is potentially because of flaws in the surface of the model, but definitely a function of overly thick layers of paint.

Thin your damn paints! Thick coats of paint glommed onto the miniature look like shit. It may take a bit longer to do a few thin coats, but it really adds to the visual appeal of the model if the paint layers are nice and smooth. I recommed glaze medium if you're a bit daring but regular ol' water works too.

Lastly, be sure to smooth out brushstrokes.

3) Simple Shading. For the purposes of this article (quick and easy), shading is more usefel than highlighting as it is also useful for creating definition between areas on the model and requires significantly less work. Perfectly good results can be had with the GW washes and/or the P3 washes/inks. The key things to remember here are:

- only apply shading to the spots that need it. DO NOT wash over the entire color area, just the natural shadow areas. Ex.: shade the folds on the models clothing - not the entire pair of pants or the entire jacket.
- If you use inks, you may need to thin them a bit. they can be quite color intensive and quickly take over.
- Black can shade everything but probably shouldn't. Try to do a little color matching with your shadow colors if possible. Though Black is always a decent fallback.

*For you adventurous souls, you may want to mix up your own shadow colors.

4) Pay attention to the face. Its widely considered one of the most important parts of the miniature. Its worth a little effort. A dab or line of black in the mouth is always a good start. So is darkening the eyes. You don't have to go crazy with painting in pupils or anything, just give the face a bit more love.

5) Be careful with drybrushing. It's messy, imprecise, leaves bumps on the surface and usually looks like shit. Unless you're painting fur, hair, chain mail or a few weathering techniques, try and stay away from it. Even then, try to do the drybrushing first, before you paint the other areas. You don't want to have to go back and repaint a ton of mistakes.

6) Do something to your metals. Metallic paint looks kinda crappy without some form of shading or weathering done to it. At the very least, do some shading (black for silver, browns for gold). You may want to even consider some easy weathering effects.

And there you go. Nothing to fancy going on, just good, reliable basics. That's all you really need to get a good looking miniature.

Probably get them painted a lot sooner too...

Hopefully, I can provide some picture examples of what I'm talking about in the near future.

Part II will cover the basics of finishing your model - clear coat, basing and the like.