Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Other Side of the House – Initial thoughts/Forays

A comment from a while ago that got me thinking (The bolding is my emphasis):

Josiah said...
Your entire paint discussion has been a great read. Growing up around a military aircraft modeler, I had very little experience with acrylic paints. High level model builders use thinner based enamel paints almost exclusively.

I think that many Wargame modellers could learn much from "the other side of the house." The techniques used by aircraft modelers, especially the bare-metal finishes that can be achieved with aluminum sheet applications or powder coats, is amazing.

I whole heartedly agree. Though, I’d also like to add that the military model crown could learn a few things from the high-level wargame painters as well.

There are a ton of techniques, tricks, materials, etc. that can really be of benefit to a more serious wargame modeler. Specifically as they apply to the various warmachines, tanks and aircraft that populate the games. I find that there are a lot of people who know how to paint their individual soldiers pretty damn well, but appear to have no clue as to what to do with their tanks. The reverse is true for the military crowd though – while I was bopping around doing some research, I found a ton of dioramas with really great vehicles, but full of, what I consider to be, god-awful figures.

Some of my Thoughts at This Juncture
Due to an upcoming project (and the above comment), I’ve been doing a lot more research into the tricks and tools that the military modeler crows uses. I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on the individual soldiers, but some of my tank painting experiences in the past have left me feeling a little like a noob. I want to advance.

Its worth mentioning that while the skill sets associated with the wargamers and military modelers are large, the successful application of these skills is entirely dependant on the results you are trying to achieve. Just because you can make realistic dirt or are an expert at two-brush blending, doesn’t mean its right for the project.

Now, the first thing that really strikes me at this early phase of my research, is the interesting differences between how the two sides of the house pursue the same goal - to create a great looking model. The military modelers seem to have an almost religious dedication to historical accuracy. You see a ton of extremely detailed kits with many, many aftermarket options as well, color schemes entirely focused on faithful recreating the original and a careful attention to what things look like at different scales.

Despite this, at the core of it, military modeling is simply a different style of painting.

Some Stuff I’ve been reading
Military modeling books are extremely easy to get a hold of and there are a ton of them. Many can be had quite cheaply. It’s actually quite easy to pick up one of these books and get started with some of the techniques. Much more accessible than the ‘high art’ approach you often see with the wargaming crowd.

Last Christmas, I got the Imperial Armor Masterclass book - a really great read full of super useful ideas. I grabbed a number of ideas and, I feel, successfully applied them to my first Iron Warriors rhino. But don’t let the book fool you, the author may be painting 40k models, but there are display pieces.

I also picked up two other books more recently:

Airbrushing and Finishing Scale Models (from Osprey, I believe) and Modelling the Messerschmitt Bf109B/C/D/E as they were both relevant to my new project (that I am being mysterious about for no reason).

I’ve learned a lot from all three of them. I’ve gotten a ton of weathering effects for both tanks and aircraft that I would have never known about or even considered as well as a wealth of plain old ideas.

Final Thoughts
My advice to you would be that if you want to take your vehicles in a new direction or just got some advice, taking a look at what military modelers are doing is extremely useful.

My other piece of advice (more of a heads up) is that if you want to make use of most of these techniques, you’ll need an airbrush. Again, the right tool for the job is always important.

If you have an airbrush, putting a base coat on a tank takes almost no time. Totally worth the cost. Especially if you play mechanized anything in 40k.

As I dig deeper into the seedy underground of military modeling, I’ll report on what I’m learning. Expect to see “The Other Side of the House” as a semi-regular feature.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Editing Notice - On Paint: Part 4

I picked up some modeling books for an upcoming project and heard nothing but good things about Gunze Sangyo's Mr. Hobby line. I went to track down some colors that match some Luftwaffe RLM colors and found that I could only reliably get the lacquer based paints.

Apparently the new parent company perpetrated some shenanigans on the water based line. They either discontinued the water based line or stopped exporting to the US. In any case, I had a hell of a time finding the colors I wanted and ended up using a different brand.

I've updated Part 4 to reflect that new info.

I also learned that not all acrylic paints are water based - just most of them. It turns out the Mr. Color line is technically acrylic, but not water soluble. Acrylic actually refers to the formulation of the pigment rather than the overall paint.

Warmachine MKII - Comment Response

Stelek Posted:

FYI a couple years ago I did a simple test of an all-infantry list, back when everyone was (A) still playing, and (B) running Warjack heavy armies.

In one day, I think I killed the entire game system for every person at my local shop.

Warjacks need to be focus free and rebalanced so infantry fear them (aka like Dreads in 40K).

None of this ten men taking out the walking tank bullshit.

Too bad really. The warjack models are really something else, much better than GW's boxes on stilts. Doubt PP will fix them correctly, and as I already have a better sci-fi game (with walkers AND vehicles) in 40k I won't be going back to Infantry Wars anytime soon.

Thanks for the comment. You make a ton of good points.

I can't say that I figured out that warjacks suck all on my own, but after reading post after post on the PP boards and then comparing it to my own experience with the Khador 'jacks, it was really clear. Jacks suck. Fucking zealots with POW 12 grenades should not be wrecking a fucking Destroyer in one turn. I switched to cryx for the fun infantry models and the arcnodes.

Now it looks like PP is lowering the power levels of everything (except jacks) in an effort to make jacks better. What they should be doing is fixing the problem, not trying to hide it.

I can't say specifically what they should do, but the MKII rules ain't it.

All you hordes players are gonna get fucked when Hordes MKII shows up soon after. And guess what, unless the totally screw over beasts, they'll still be better than warjacks.

On to this - a common piece of PP dogma that sticks in my molar like a raspberry seed: PP is better on every level than GW.


PP is no different than GW
Its true. I know the PP staff and the fans boys (oh god, the fan boys) have spent a lot of time and effort dragging GW through the mud (hint: they don't need help), but PP is no pretty much the same thing.

First off:

PP is a company with a business model - they make a fun game, but they have a bottom line. So does GW. Selling books and models gets them there.

Metal miniatures are expensive to make and expensive to buy. Sorry. When the price of tin goes through the roof so does the cost of the miniature. You can bitch and moan about "those greedy bastards" to your heart's content. Just be aware that if prices weren't raised, you'd have a dead game. Fun fact - PP and GW raised their prices at around the same time last year due to tin increases. PP got almost no flak, while GW was practically tarred and feathered. Please, be fair.

Moving on the "PP does no wrong" bull shit:

Privateer Press is starting to make plastic miniatures. It turns out that only making 10 man units that cost $85, 5 man cavalry unit that costs $100 and $30 robots is fucking crazy. Hmm, sound like some other company we know?

Warmachine costs less to play than warhammer 40k. Wrong. If you cut the right corners you can get a 200 point army for $400-$500. You pay through the nose for metal and plastic is cheap. Guess who has more metal.

The Warmachine rules are better. They're more complicated and lend them selves better to awesome combos. Ture. But it turns out that that sucks after a while. Rules bloat is a bitch. The system is getting a huge revamp due to the retarded amount of complications that found their way in and the fact that the signature unit is a dog turd. A game that is basically unplayable by newbies is a dead game.

PP and the fan boys spent the lat 7ish years telling everyone that they were gonna do things diffrently than GW. They weren't gonna fuck up. Plastic miniatures are for twats the said. 3rd edtion ruined 40k they said.

PP is following a nearly identical path that GW is. It turns out that if you have 25 years of experience in game making, you actually learn some things. GW went plastic because it sells more models and cuts costs. GW simplified thir game because it makes writing new rules easier and makes the game more accesable. PP is just now coming to terms with all the same problems that GW faced.

Privateer Press - welcome to reality.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Warmachine MkII is Bullshit - my second impressions

So, I went back and re-read (i also sunk a lot of time into looking at the stat cards as well) the Warmachine MkII rules to make sure I had given things a fair treatment. Most of the negative things I said, still stand, but I'd like to talk about some of the things I that I think were done right and how they affect the things that are still crap.

First the good:
Since warjacks have higher MAT, trample is much better.

Warjacks need to have every damage box checked off before they are disabled. It means they stick around and annoy people for much longer.

Timing is much better explained. there's even an appendix on it. Most of the byzantine nature of figuring out the timing of abilities and effects has actually gone away. I think there's still some clarification to be made, but the whole issue is largely solved.

Overall, the rules are much better written and all the important (but subtle) differences between model states are now explained and better keyworded. So instead of being expected to infer things from the FAQ and main rules, they come right out and tell you the difference between a model being placed and a model moving.

Model fixes
Skarre - the skarre bomb has gotten a much needed nerf. It now only takes into account he base ARM of the sacrifice and requires LOS.

Vilmon - is now correctly worded for the first time and my finally be working as intended. His abilites have also been changed to better reflect his point cost.

Monolith bearer + zealots - Oh sweet Jesus have these guys been nerfed. They're still crazy good, but man, they just aren't as terrifying as the used to be. First, they can always be targeted by ranged fire now. Second, the monolith bearer no longer gives them the run and shoot bullshit when he dies. Greater destiny is still a pain, but the unit isn't fucking broken as hell any more.

Harbinger - no longer has any of that LD test to shoot at her.

Old Witch - field of talons can no longer be centered on the Scrapjack and no longer hurts people involuntarily moving through it (no more Gorten combo). This one bums me out, but she was way too powerful in tournaments even without the limited utility of the Gorten cheap trick.

Necrosurgeon -can now actually make use of it's abilities. It used to be that if she moved, she couldn;t do anything. Kinda dumb to not move a melee unit. Now, its a thing of the past.

centurion - the magno-shield no-charge bullshit is now a special action. Thank god.

These are just the major good things that I noticed based on my familiarity with the faction. I fought the protectorate a lot and I played Crxy and Khador.

The still bad
Warjacks are still shitty. More on this below.

The Points system is still a bit infuriating as well. Actually, check that, the point system is still bullshit. Warjacks are still compulsory now and the new warcaster point system adds a pretty big potential for game inbalnce. Plus, Khador still doesn't have a warjack that they can afford while only spending the bonus points - the berzerker is close, but really sucks at DEF 9.

Remember the fixes to timing and all the model nerfs? Well, it makes things a little too vanilla and often times very boring. A lot of the models lost their flavor and, more importantly, the things that made them fun to play with.

After some careful though, I would need to play a few games to get a real feel for the 'new' game. There may be infuriating bullshit or gem that I missed. In any case, things aren't as bleak as the first seemed.

[Note from the future:] Actually doing some more research and perusing the cryx cards (rather than skimming them) has revealed to me how hard the nerf bat hit the cryx casters. Some of them are just unusable. There are a lot changes on almost every cryx unit and while I'm not too pumped about a lot of them, most are good for the game. But I do have to agree with a guy who was pissed-off mostly because so many of the units were now boring when there weird abilities got taken away. Looks like I have to completely re-learn my faction.

On the positive side: PP has a year to tweek things.. Until then - I'm not spending dime one on any warmachine miniatures.

Appendix 1: Why warjacks suck
beyond the bonus of increased MAT & RAT and the increased difficulty of killing them, jacks are still crappy - or at most, situationally good.

Even with increased stats, hitting a trooper (the real threat to a warjack) is still less than a sure thing. In a regular combat scenario, you may kill a few Iron Fang Pikemen, but the rest of them will STILL fuck you a new asshole. Any unit with weapon master makes this worse. If your warjack gets charged, kiss its ass goodbye. And guess what, it takes a lot less effort to get some fast moving infantry into a charge position than it does a warjack.

Don't be fooled by the false promises of trample. You miss one guy, and then he gets a boosted damage role. It WILL happen. MAT 6 just wont hit reliably enough.

The one thing warjacks DO have going for them is the fact that they can survive fire, corrosion, Krueger's chain lighting and various other nasty spells. But, they are otherwise too easy to disable and who the fuck uses anti-troop spells on warjacks?

The other thing they have going for them is being good at taking out other warjacks. Which is great until the other guy doesn't take any.

However, all this stuff isn't the real reason warjacks suck. The main reason here is the focus mechanic. It's great for some stuff, but it just does not interact well enough with warjacks.

A game of warmachine is a game of resource management for your warcaster. They have a set amount of focus each turn to use in one of four areas: defense (inc, spells), offense (inc. spells) and warjacks. You can't do all 3 of them and get good results, so you have to be a little thoughtful and careful. The realization that many of the smarter players came to is this: warjacks aren't good enough (not very effective and too easy to kill for VPs) to warrant sacrificing effectiveness in defense and offense.

So warjacks started disappearing. Players either took fewer of them or none at all*. The jacks that were being taken were extremely good - i.e. the broken ones. This solved a bunch of problems: it freed up more focus for useful stuff and thwarted any opponents who brought 'jacks (being that they were only really good for anti-jack duty).

Now, this first started coming into being right around the time that Hordes was released. I feel like the good players had been moving toward fewer 'jacks all along, but Hordes really put the problems with the focus mechanic into stark relief.

In warmachine, warjacks were a drain on focus. In Hordes, your warbeasts ('jack equivalent) generated fury (focus equivalent). You HAD to have beasts to use magic. Plus, the beasts were pretty good AND gave you more spells. I wont go into the details too much, but my point is pretty clear. Beasts were integral to the magic users ability to use magic and provided clear benefits. In warmachine, the equivalent unit was often a drain and never required. So why use a crappy unit if it doesn't do much for you?

Things are a little better in the MkII rules, but warjacks still don't interact enough with the focus mechanic. Free warjack points and better stats are one thing, but the incentive still isn't there to take many warjacks.

*I would also like to point out the army lists from the nationals last year - in the final battle, there were exactly two warjacks on the board. One was the scrapjack - the only warjack that comes for free with a warcaster and the other one was the most broken jack in the game. I know some of this is due to tournament format, but seriously, if 'jacks are so good then why aren't even the cryx players taking them in the important games?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

On Paint: Part 4 – The Other Stuff

Now we’re on to all that ‘other’ paint that’s out there. This last part of the On Paint series is a kind of dumping ground for all the other stuff that’s out there but I haven’t really used or, in some case, even heard about until I did some research. This may seem like a cop-out, but keep in mind that I’ve only just scratched the surface.

But First…

Tamiya Paints
Ah, the last paint line I have any experience with. Tamiya makes a number of different types of paint, so for clarity’s sake: I am only going to address the acrylic line. They seem mostly aimed at the military modeler crowed and as such; most of the colors are direct matches for WWII camouflage colors. I haven’t really dipped too heavily into Tamiya’s offerings, but I have noticed a few important things from what I have used.

1) The paints have great consistency but poor coverage. I’ve never even seen the colors separate in the pot even after long periods of non-use. BUT, Tamiya is really thin and you will need multiple, multiple coats for good coverage if you’re using a brush (more on this later). Even with black paint.

2) Tamiya paints taste funny. Yet are less filling and non-toxic. They also smell much more strongly than most acrylic paint.

Personal Anecdote: I often put brushes in my mouth for various reasons. I.e.: to shape points, for two brush blending, just because, etc. As a weird side effect, I know what most paint tastes like. Tamiya has the weirdest flavor. The old GW inks have the worst.

3) If I recall, Tamiya paints take a while to dry. Kind of a pain if speed is a factor or you have to do multiple coats.

4) Tamiya paints are almost as ubiquitous as GW paints. I’ve yet to see a hobby shop that doesn’t have them.

Not too much setting these paints apart from any others for regular ol’ bristle brush uses. They seem like pretty good quality paints, just almost totally unsuited to my uses thus far.

If I was gonna guess (hint: I am), I’d say there meant for airbrush purposes. The consistency and coverage qualities of the paint combined with the fact that Tamiya makes a really good thinner for airbrushing ( which I use) leads me to believe this. Also supporting my vague notion is the fact that airbrushes are much more common with serious military modelers.

I’d also like to give a quick heads up on the one thing that is extremely neat from this line – the various ‘clear’ colors that Tamiya makes. They are essentially washes with a twist. The twist being that they are quite thick and sticky. I haven’t found anything like them anywhere else. The ‘smoke’ color is very often used as a quick shortcut for shading metal. Despite my previous praise, it’s largely fallen out of my use. Though your preferences will vary.

Other Stuff
Well, I’ve covered everything I have intimate knowledge about pretty well, so I’d like to mention some of the other stuff (all acrylic) I know is out there (but know next to nothing about):

Humbrol Acrylic – another line aimed at military modelers. Based in England

Andrea Color – same as above, minus the England part (maybe). Comes in a dropper bottle

Gunze Sangyo – Pretty comparable to Tamiya, but better by most accounts. They make two kinds of acrylic paint - one water based (Mr. Hobby) and one lacquer based (Mr. Color). The water based paints are next to impossible to find in the states. Gunze was recently bought by a new company. I've heard that they've stopped exporting anything to the US and/or they discontinued the water based line. The lacquer based can still be found, but I had to seach long and hard to find ANY water based stuff.

Lifecolor – apparently, an Italian clone of Tamiya. I’ve read that they are virtually identical in quality.

Pretty thin there, I know. But I list them as points of interest in case any enterprising people go out and get some are already have some and want to tell me about them.

Regular Ol’ Paint
These aren’t lines of paint but, rather, types of paint. I’ll mention them because thy also have their uses. Not generally formulated for gaming, they tend to be a bit more fragile for handling than most of the stuff I’ve mentioned so far.

Craft Paint – commonly available, and crappy. Its cheap for a reason, people. Do not use on you models unless you really just don’t care. However, they are super great for painting terrain due to the cheapness. I've also seen people use them when dipping their miniatures, but this isn't really my style.

Artist’s colors – these are the things that you see when you go to an art supply store. They usually come in tubes and are displayed near a dizzying array of other things with funny names like gesso, gel medium and masking fluid.

Artists colors are the kinds of acrylic paint that the artists who paint on canvas typically use. A such, they have a large number of differences from model paint that you must be aware of if you want to use them.

1) They are much thicker. If you’re going to use them (and many people do), you will have to thin them. There’s no sneaking by it like with every other paint.

2) They are a little bit more fragile for handling. Many model paints are formulated with handling in mind. Sealing your models becomes a really important issue.

3) Usually, a much smaller variety of colors. In the art world, the colors of paint are actually pretty standardized. If you need colors, the idea is that you will mix them. The various manufacturers compete on paint quality & consistency and supplemental items (various mediums, for example) almost exclusively. Burnt Umber will be pretty much the same shade across all of the brands.

I covered a lot of stuff, but this list was by no means exhaustive. There’s even more out there you can use. Various drawing inks, airbrush paints and even other acrylic paints. Hell, even local things that aren’t very well know outside of their home country are out there and waiting. I didn’t even mention the enamels that are pretty common with military modelers and you can even use artists’ oil paints as well.

Final Thoughts
A man wiser than I said:

So to sum up don't be afraid to mix and match from different paint lines. If you find something you like, go with it. Being a slave to one brand is just silly. The cool thing about painting is there are soooo many ways to approach it and get similar results, as well as just by adding a minor tweak you can produce far different results (whether intentional or not.) Experiment and innovate.


I have to agree with him. There’s just too much good stuff out there to ignore it all for one mediocre brand of paint.

Appendix 1: Links
One final thing, I’d like to include a link to the thread that started this deeper research.

Discussion Of Paint Lines/companies – on the Brush thralls forum

Most of my ideas came from here, but it was just a little to vague for my liking. So I went out and did some research. In some cases I bought some paint to experiment with.

Color Match 1.0

This thing is a fantastic color matching and comparison tool. Extremely helpful for finding color equivalencies and shopping for a new shade. I've been using it heavily ever since I found it and has been very reliable.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Warmachine MKII is bullshit - My first impressions

A while ago I semi-ranted about the Warmachine rules. This was shortly after I saw the Warmachine MkII announcement. Now, the beta rules are out for people to get their hands on.

I was excited. Now I am not.


Warjacks are still shit despite a few buffs and the rules still represent a taxing level of minutia. In fact, there's some new stuff that makes the game even MORE detail oriented. The need for the FAQ/errata will be gone once the new rules go live, but I wouldn't count on it staying gone forever.

The good news is that the rulebook has been rewritten in much the same way MTG 6th edition was - things have been keyworded, the rules language has been standardized and more rules interactions have been covered. The writers also claim that most of the ability timing issues have dissapeared. The individual models have been altered in much the same way. Much more standardization across the board - both core rules and model rules. They've also gone out of their way to re-cost units more appropriately as well as fix useless models (cough, Necrosurgeon, cough - if I'm reading things right).

But, most of MY specific problems with the game haven't been addressed. The game is still unnecessarily complicated and rules heavy and the signature unit is still, by and large, a polished turd.

Here are my specific gripes despite the above good news:

1) Warjacks are still shitty. Despite all of them getting hefty stat line bonuses - specifically RAT and MAT, they're still focus hogs. Still gotta spend a focus to run and charge. Plus, jacks still have the same DEF stat. For most of them, it makes them easier to hit than the broadside of a barn. Essentially, the new buffs give jacks the ability to be able to hit models besides other warjacks. Guess what? Even if your warjack can reliable kill two Bane Knights, the other 8 are gonna fuck you a new asshole.

2) Compulsory units. Part two of the solution to warjacks disappearing from people's army lists is to give each warcaster a subset of army points that can only be spent on warjacks. No matter what smoke people may blow up your ass, these are compulsory units. Real great way to sidestep the issue of jacks being shit. Sure, lets make people take easy victory points. GW tried this years ago with troops. They're just now gaining ground with the idea.

To those of you who bitch and moan that no one is forcing you to spend the extra points on a jack: hurry up and graduate from kindergarten. If my opponent has access to the really useful warjacks - say, ones with arcnodes that also happen to be cheap (CRYX!!!!!!!), they basically get a free 'jack for every warcaster. If I play as any other faction, I have to take another jack just so I'm not at a 5 point disadvantage. If I want a good/useful one, I have to start dipping into my regular points.

Special bonus: If you play Khador then, apparently, fuck you. Because most non-epic warcasters give you 5 extra points. Even the shittiest Khador turd doesn't cost less than 6. Oops.

3) The new point system is eroding one of the key areas of fairness in a wargame - equal force size. Now, warcasters don't cost any points themselves. You just pick one. Guess what. The harbinger now costs exactly as much as the High Reclaimer (nothing). Plus, different warcasters give you different extra points - Epic Butcher (sp) gets 7, Mortenabra (sp) gets 4. Lame all around.

4) the New point system is kinda lazy. I like the effort to better balance the points systems - especially in light of things like bane knights being much better and slightly cheaper than bane thralls (and other such silliness), but dividing every point value by 10 and then rounding or raising as needed hasn't solved any problems inherent in the system. Its only solved the problems the system had created so far. Things are still going to be overcosted, its just less noticeable.

The simplification of the new point system intrigues me. However, free warcasters and compulsory crappy units thoroughly fuck this up.

5) The effective height and volume of a model are now important game concepts. Now matter how big the model, anything on a specific sized base has a specific height and width that count for line of sight. Smaller models now take up additional theoretical space and the biggest models are now functionally smaller. To an extent I get it - there's no need to penalize people who want to arty stuff that happens to make a model huge nor is theere a need to reward cheaters and their WAAC poses. But come the fuck on. There has to be something between true LOS and this.

There was already enough measuring and minutia in the game without having to measure the goddamn miniatures themselves to check LOS. Why the fuck do we now have to move into the realm of pretending that models are a specific size? The rules lawyers are going to have a field day as they bend this one to get whatever tiny advantage they need.

"you can't see my bile thrall, its behind a wall"
"Well, actually I can, because the wall is only 1.5 inches tall and the bile thrall counts as 1.75."
"But it's completely hidden behind the wall."
"sorry, empty space now counts as part of the miniature"


Despite what the writers say about fairness, it will not seem like it to casual players. Its also yet another fun way to break up the flow of the game.

So, there you have it. The game is still too complicated for a self reported "fast paced" game and is incrasingly geared toward the ass-hole tournament troll and his WAAC atttude rather than the regular gamers - tourny goers, casuals or otherwise. I played with rulesets like this when I played in M:TG events. Guess what, it blows.

Dunno know about you guys, but I've got better things to do

Friday, April 10, 2009

Vanity Post #1

I got off my ass and took some pictures. I used the tutorial I posted a bit ago on macro photography. It totally works, dudes. Great results with almost no real work. I also took Picasa out for a whirl. Also totally awesome. Much easier than fiddling around with photoshop.

Color Tests for some Daemons
A few days ago I posed some ideas I had for a Chaos Space Marine Army I was interested in. I specifically mentioned a painting technique using washes over white primer.

Here are my color tests on some old beastmen (click on the image for the full version):

Pretty neat, huh? You start with the lightest color first and then use a bunch of shading washes to create shape and shadow and let the white primer peeking through the washes act as highlights. It doesn't take much time to do either. The problem is, that I couldn't get a red to do what I wanted. the guy on the left is close, but just a little too pink still. I also did some tests on an old warjack, but it wasn't worth posting.

So, at least for the Khorne Daemons I abandoned the idea. I couldn't easily get a red I liked with the method I was experimenting with.

It also turns out the plans for NMM is a wash (a pun - HA!) as well. I only really know how to make a few quick versions of copper/bronze/brass with verdigris. All of which look weird with red. Any other style is just too time intensive. If nothing else, this is a good example of how a project evolves over time. No plan surviving contact witht the enemy and alla that.

I may revisit this once I get to painting some nurgle stuff.

Anywho, here's my initial bloodletter:

A little bit of a departure from my normal stuff as I don't usually work with red and I didn;t spend much time at all blending my various layers. Just a practice run at a faster painting technique for a more 'chunky' style of extreme highlighting. Some of the sheen will go away once I seal the mini.

Iron Warriors
And here we are, pcitures of my iron warriors. I'm pretty pleased with these guys.
As always, click on the pictures to get the full version.

And a Rhino to drive them around in (two shots):

Slightly different colors in the two pictures as well as some washing out on the banner. It's highlighted and shaded, I swear! I have a pretty good handle on photographing guys but still need some practice on larger pieces.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

On Paint: Part 3 – Liquid Pigment

These next 4 paint lines are grouped together by their common elements – they all use what is known as liquid pigment and they can be pretty hard to find in a local store.

I’m going to be honest here: I don’t know exactly what ‘liquid pigment’ means in a technical sense. I believe this means that the pigment used in the paint is in and of itself a liquid as opposed to a fine grain powder of some sort. What this means in a practical sense is that paints utilizing liquid pigment can be turned into washes more readily as the actual color remains in suspension much better. The paints don’t hardly separate at all so you can often times use nothing but water to make a wash. Don’t worry about the formulation of the paints; the liquid pigment does not cause any issues when mixing with fine grain pigment paints.

As to being hard to find, 2 of them are imports and the other two are from games companies that just don’t have the market share of GW. The standard problems of knowing exactly what color you’re buying is very present if you aren't lucky enough to see them in a local store.

There are 4 lines that I know of the liquid pigment type - Formula P3, Wargames Foundry, Reaper Master Series and Coat d’Arms. I have to apologize before hand as some of this section will be based on very little personal experience as I’ve only recently come into contact with 2 of these lines and never seen one of them at all.

Formula P3 (Privateer Press)
I’ll star with what I know best – the Warmachine/Hordes in-house brand. P3 is a lot different from what most of you are used to. In addition to the liquid pigment, P3 paints are formulated in such a way that they take longer to dry and are a bit thicker than many other paints. This helps create an interesting set of advantages and disadvantages.

1) The slower drying time (nothing major just a few seconds, really) means that you can make use of blending techniques more easily. The paint stays wetter longer thus making it very possible (maybe even easy?) to do some blending without having to thin the paints.

2) The paint is a bit thicker in consistency. Overall, the paint is ‘tougher’ and can withstand a lot more wear and tear. When wet, P3 paints take additives and thinning much better. When dry, they’re a little more resistant to the kind of wear that a table top model gets. Happily, this does not mean the paint is super detail hiding – it can be, but so can any paint.

3) I’d also like to mention the general awesomeness of the coverage and opacity of the paint. In short – these things are great with P3. You still run into slight problems with standard trouble areas like red, white and yellow, but compared to many other lines, head and shoulders above ‘em.

1) There is a learning curve. These paints behave very differently from most other paints. When I first started using them, for example, I ran into all kinds of troubles with the paint flowing into areas I didn’t want it to be. Just be prepared to practice with the P3 line to get the hand of it.

2) The paints taking a little longer to dry is a bit of a double edged sword. If speed painting is your thing, longer dry times will slow you down.

3) The metallics are absolute shite. Poor coverage, gloppy consistency, crappy color suspension - the works. I see praise for Pig Iron and Brass Balls a lot (two of my own favorites), but even those are kinda lame outside of their value strictly as a color.

Just to get this is the open: I love the SHIT out of the P3 line. If the metallics were better and the range itself bigger, I'd drift away from other lines.

Author’s Note: Everything from here on out will be a little sparse. I haven’t used the following lines much (or even at all). I mention them because they’re out there.

Foundry Paint System
Sold, appropriately enough, by Wargames Foundry. The Foundry Paint System is an import from England. Interestingly enough, they company that actually makes the paint also makes P3 and Coat d/Arms. The even used to make the GW stuff. Neat.

I only just picked some of these up (actually, for this series of articles). They behave much like the P3 paints (as one would expect). I plan to get more of these as they have a ton of very unique colors and I like the way the behave,

Other interesting tidbits:
1) The paints are only sold in triads of base, shade and highlight.
2) The paints come in 20 ml pots (GW is 12 ml)

However, as imports only sold in trios, they tend to be pretty pricey ($14+) and are hard to get (I’ve only seen them in a handful of online shops). I’ve also heard reports that the opacity can be spotty depending on the color you are using.

Reaper Master Series.
This is one of two in-house lines from Reaper Miniatures. Now that I've gained some useful experience with the line, I can share some thoughts (added: 9-20-09).

Before I get into the pros and cons, I'm going to mention some general paint quality stuff and things that aren't clearly a pro or con (in my mind).

1) The paint dries to a very flat/matte finish. This was a bit disconcerting for me. It's not just a smidgen, or even a little bit flat. Its super flat. This can make blending a bit of a pain in the ass since the Reaper paints are often no where near the same finish as most of the other paint brands.

2) The paint is extremely thin. Great for all kinds of things - layering, blending, etc. Thinning your paint is a good idea anyway to avoid visible brush strokes. However, this quality is terrible for base coats. Generally I prefer having the option of thinning, rather than being forced to.

3) Reaper paints dry quickly. Pretty similar to the GW paints in this regard. Great for speed painting, bad for long term work - be sure to add a drying retarder for any kind of mixing. This isn't a con as the paints come in dropper bottles, so Reaper has side stepped the problem if dead pots.

4) The dropper bottles also come with an agitator already in the bottle. This is a pretty cool feature and goes a long way to make shaking easier and helping with consistency of color. I wish the other dropper bottle companies would add this feature to their paint as well.

1) Fewer modification options. As situational good as some of their qualities can be, Reaper paints are locked in to being thinner and flatter than other paints.

1) They are made/distributed by a domestic (US, anyways) company and are fairly easy to find. They're also a bit cheaper than other paints.

2) They come in dropper bottles. This is good for all the same reasons that have been mentioned elsewhere.

3) Good response to being thinned for washes and the like. The paint holds the pigment well and the fact that the paint is already a bit thin, really helps.

4) Really large range. Not as big as Vallejo, but big none the less. Many of the paints are formulated in Triads like the Foundry stuff. Many unique colors as well.

5) Encourages thin, even coats. Though the thinness can be irritating for base coats, it does put one in the habit of doing multiple thin coats, which is best practice anyway.

Coat d’Arms.
I’m just going to mention this one as I have absolutely no experience with them. They are also made by the same people as Foundry and P3. Other than that, I know nothing and probably never will as I haven’t seen them for sale online in anything but pounds sterling. Plus I’ve heard complaints about color consistency from pot to pot of the same color. Not particularly good for an army.

As I get more info on Reaper and Foundry, I may re-visit them. Until then, just be aware that they exist.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

On Paint: Part 2 - the Dropper Bottle

Now that I’m done bashing GW a bit, its time to move on to what many consider to be good paint. Toady I’m going to talk about a few of the various lines of Vallejo paints – the next commonly available brand out there (despite being made in Spain). Specifically, I’m going to be talking about the Model Color and Game Color lines. Often times you’ll see the abbreviations VMC or VGC used when talking about colors for either of these lines.

First up, the pros:
I’m just going to get this out of the way: Vallejo is really good. I fully endorse Vallejo’s paint lines and if you decide to use the Vallejo lines, they’ll do you well.

1) Vallejo stuff is fairly easy to get a hold off. The model color lines are aimed at military modelers so they appear pretty frequently in better hobby shops. On top of that, Vallejo’s general esteem in the hobby world means that they can show up in games stores too.

2) Vallejo has a ridiculously huge range. Like retardedly huge – 220 alone in the model color range and another 80+ in the game color range. There’s duplication and all, but shit, 300 colors? GW has 73. Yikes. Plus, I’m only referencing the ranges I use. Vallejo has a ton more. You WILL find a color you like.

3) Great quality. Overall, Vallejo paint has good coverage, good consistency and good drying times (not too fast, not too slow). They paints behave predictably as well due to the overall quality and constancy of the lines.

4) They come in dropper bottles. If you’re not used to it, they can be a little weird and you’ll definitely need some sort of pallet. HOWEVER: the paints store for extremely long times due to a lack of contact with air and mixing is often times much easier as you have much more precise control over the amount of paint you use.

The cons:
As great as Vallejo is, there are a couple of downsides.

1) The way the paint is made leads to some issues of settling in the bottle. Often times the pigment and the medium will separate. You have to make extra sure the paints are mixed. At one point I was considering an automatic paint shaker. Not too much of a hurdle to jump, but something to keep in mind.

2) In my opinion, the metallics are ass. Just too damn thick for my tastes and as metallic paint needs special considerations for thinning, they just don’t work for me. I also don’t much care for the size of the metallic flakes they use. This is the one case where the GW paint is better.

Game Color
One of the cool things about Vallejo is the ease of finding color matches to the GW paints. That’s what the game color range is for. Its nothing but color matches to GW stuff. Now, not every color is a perfect match, but most of them are pretty damn close.* Plus, Vallejo has matches for colors that GW no longer makes. So if you need a pot of the old Leprous brown, Vallejo has you covered.

Mixing Mediums
Probably my favorite part of the Vallejo ranges is the inclusion of mixing mediums that come in the same dropper bottle. These are pretty much the same things you can get at an actual art supply store, but without having to buy a gigantic tub of the stuff. I use the glaze medium on a daily basis and always have an extra bottle on hand. As an added bonus, the mediums work for almost all other acrylic paints.

A note on Availability
I’ve mentioned availability as a positive attribute of both the Citadel and Vallejo lines. Maybe it’s not clear why that’s important? Here are two reasons:

1) You don’t have to wait for shipping. You go into the store, and boom, you’ve got a pot of paint. If you need more or a different color, you just go back.

2) Its so much easier to judge color values in person. This is especially true for a range or color you’ve never seen before. Most places supply a color chart online, but they’re just not good at giving you an accurate representation of a color.

It’s a real bummer to order what appears to be a delightful dark red only to find that you waited for 5 days for something considerably more pink than you would like.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE NOTE: Foundry’s Madder Red set is decidedly on the pinkish side of red. Though this may be due to a mislabel.

* I ran into a strange situation with the difference between VGC Charred Brown and GW Scorched Brown. Scorched Brown has a distinct red tint to it. Charred Brown… does not. Its more of a muddy brown. They dry to about the same color, but they will mix very, very differently with other colors due to their own particular balance.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Quick Notes to Myself: Resin Casting and Chaos Stuff

This post is mostly for me, but I'll write it out in case my thought process piques anyone's interest:

To be honest, I've been getting bored with my Iron Warriors a bit. So I've started looking around for some other projects to intetrsperse in my Iron Warriors. It'll break up the tedium of painting a million silver marines and give me a chance to play with some techniques I've had my eye on.

First up: the lists I'm interested in.

Haven't decided which one to start first - they'll both cost about the same taking overlap into account (3 Rhinos).

Not looking to go too crazy with conversions - just the big stuff. I'm trying to keep the cost down.

I already own most of the daemons I need.

Now, to the ideas I wanted to try out:

1.) Found a neat painting technique in No Quarter No. 18. Essentially, you paint with a series of washes over white primer. Tested it out a bit, produces interesting effects and moves pretty quickly. Also may give me an excuse to use my new hairdryer.

2.) Speaking of speed - I want to try my hand at getting an army to the table pretty quickly. After years of being painstaking, I think it's time to try something new - leave my comfort zone and all.

3.) Forgeworld is the bane of my existance. the Chaos Dreadnoughts they make are amazing and I've had my eye on the deathguard kit for a while as well.

4.) I've also had ideas for a nurgle defiler filed away for about 6 months now. I'd like to bust those out as well.

5.) As far as a paint scheme, this will give me a chance to fuck around with a lot of different ones. I'm not going to be too concerned with a unified color scheme.

6.) As an added challenge - I wont be using any metallic paint. Could be crazy.

Other Stuff:
These are tidbits of info and reseach that I've done so far while I think about getting either of these lists started.

1.) No idea how I want to base these armies - something cheap (so no ready made resin bases) and fairly simple (so no eleaborate milliput slate bases with water). Been thinking about lava bases. Found this tutorial on 'em.

Fun Fact: this guys thread about his own iron warriors on dakka got me started on my own guys. Pretty neat stuff.

2.) Looking at the mech list as well as the sternpod list for my Iron warriors, it's painfully obvious that I need a ton of combi-meltas, chaos meltas and chaos flamers. Not all that easy ot financially feasable to get that many of any of them. I've even looked into altenatives, and there's nothing I like too much.

This brings me to thinking about resin casting. I figure if I need 24 metlas, 12 flamers and 16 combi-meltas, then maybe the money would be better spent on just making them myself. It would also be a neat techique to add to my repertoire. Based on what I've seen on the Smooth-on site, I wont be needing any vacuum equipment.

Links (for me):
The Chaos Lists;

Lava Bases:

The iron warriors army that inspired me way back when:

Resin casting of parts:

The kit I want:

Smooth-cast homepage:

I'm looking to continue my "On Paint" series soon. Just wanted to throw this up for the time being.

Hmm, I should probably get off my ass and post some pics of recent work as well.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

On Paint – Part 1: the GW standard

The actual paint you use can be as important as what you do with it and how you use it. I see way too many people who appear to think that the Games Workshop paints are the only thing out there or won’t even consider other paints because it’s a hassle of some kind. There are just too many pictures of people’s workspaces with nothing but Citadel paints lined up in the background. I also see a ton of interested parties on forums asking about GW alternatives.

I got news for you – there’s a ton of stuff out there that is way, way better than the GW ‘standard’.

Disclaimer: Everyone has their own preferences for the paint they use. I’m pretty sure some of my own biases will become apparent over the course of this series. In any case, use the paint that works for you. I’m simply trying to educate.

The GW Standard and Why It's Bullshit
So, why do I call the Citadel paints a ‘standard’? Well, it’s because they are so ubiquitous – NOT because they are so good. Odds are if a place sells Warhammer stuff, then it sells the GW paints. These paints are what most people start with due to the nature of the cross-marketing that GW does. If someone pushes around little sci-fi army men, they’ve come into contact with the line.

Now, here’s my rub with GW paints: they are largely crap.

1) They dry too fast. This means they have very short working times. This makes it hard to do any kind of blending or custom color mixing on a regular pallet without adding some kind of drying retarder. Getting a smooth coat is also hard as brush strokes and excess paint tend to dry out very quickly leaving all kinds of ‘artifacts’ and other strange bumps on the surface. The composition and drying properties of the paint also means that the paints dry out in the pots even when you’re not using them. So the paints thicken over time and there’s the added bonus of no long term storage.

2) Consistency between colors is very spotty. Some of the colors have really good coverage (like Scorched Brown). Others are shit (Kommando Khaki). There’s way too much variation in the line and as you have to keep painting on multiple coats, you have more chance to run into all the problems from point 1.

3) The containers suck. Normally I like flip tops. However, the GW pots pose a number of problems. First, they accelerate the paint drying out and. Second, the flip top 'mechanism' is poorly designed. I keep running into problems with paint dripping of the little cap scoop and then collecting around the wide rim. This interferes with the function of the lid and often causes paint to leak everywhere. At least they aren’t using the screw caps anymore.

4) They keep changing the line. GW likes to play with the colors they produce. This means that there are a ton of discontinued colors. Like the old inks that were pretty much the best ever and are now gone... forever. I’ve been in a few situations where my favorite old GW color is long gone and almost irreplaceable.

5) GW also has the newer foundation line of super high pigmented paints that dry even faster than the regular ones. This has the fringe benefit of putting your brushes at risk as paint can dry on the bristles very easily if you aren’t careful. I’ve also heard reports that they don’t thin well (though in my experience they can). They are also extremely goopy.

It's Not All Bad
Now, while GW paints are kinda lame, they do have a few bright spots. Due to the formulation of the paint, Boltgun Metal, Chainmail, Mithril Silver and Tin Bitz are awesome. They have great coverage with none of that obvious metal flake shit due to GW’s use of fine grain pigments. They still dry fast, but the colors alone are worth it. I also dig their new washes. I’d still rather have the old inks back (sigh) but judged on their own merits, the new washes are pretty great. While no means a replacement or alternative to inks they still have their uses, many of which are very cool. Another rather interesting advantage of the GW paints is availability. It’s really hard to be in a spot where you can’t get them.

I’ve been tearing apart the GW paints for a reason: I think it is extremely important to be aware of the limitations of any supply or tool that you use. While my personal choice is to avoid GW paint unless it’s silver, an ink or a wash, they can still be useful and it’s very possible to get great results with them. Just be prepared to spend a lot more time fiddling around with the paint to get them to behave properly.

Stay tuned for some discussion of other brands as well as some relevant information from across the internet.

[edited on april 3, 2009 to fix some language and typos]