Tuesday, May 25, 2010

BoLS Hobby Challenge Entry - Baal Predator

Last Monday, the 10 finalists for the Battle Forge Games BA Hobby Challenge went up. I made the final cut, so I get to be a contestant. You can see all then entries here - linkage.

Currently, I'm holding a steady third place in the polls but still trailing not one, but two nipple marine entries by a fer piece. However, third place puts me in the running for a moral victory - best in class. So if you love me, red tanks or doing things for people because they asked you to - head on over and cast your vote (for me).

Since the BoLS people had some limitations on the size of the photographs and how many were gonna be posted, I'll just go ahead and post the big versions of all of the photos I took. If you want bigger views, be sure to click on the smaller version.

Pretty proud of how this turned out to be honest. Aside from the color being slightly off in the photographs, I can't complain. Its a pretty solid first attempt for color modulation style.

I can go into some of the details of how I managed to get my Baal so smooth if there's a demand. For now, its just a vanity post before I go on a mini-vacation,

Sunday, May 23, 2010

In The Trenches

Just some quick notes on what's going on at LaubInd HQ: The recent lack of quality posts, contest entries and the future glut of Cool Things.

Its been a busy past couple of weeks for me as far as painting goes. Actually, strike that. Pretend that I went back and made clever use of strike through text.

The last couple of weeks have been back-breakingly busy as far as painting goes.

On the 5th, the BoLS crew announced a hobby challenge that I wanted to enter. I was working on a Baal Predator anyway, so I thought that I would try and get my tank finished up a bit earlier than I had intended. I won't get into the details, but it ended up being a fairly epic tale of obsession, late nights and being chained to my work bench in general.

Thanks Unholy Krondor that my special lady friend is the patient and understanding type. In a round about way, there's thanks to be handed out to one of my cats who chose this time to get chronic hairballs. If it wasn't for the days off I took for Vomit Watch 2010 I'm not quite sure I would have made the deadline. As it is, I had my pics in a scant hour and a half before it was due.

Once BoLS posts the poll for the challenge this week, I'll post some pictures and go into the details of what I'm now going to call Project: Quick Rick.

Here's to hoping I didn't fuck up the submission and that my entry makes it past the editorial cut and into the contest proper.

This whole post is gonna be rambly, so bear with me.

Per request of the triple threat* that is Hoagy, I'm going to be doing some stage by stages of some Hive Guard models so you guys can get an idea of how my Trygon came to be. Particularly the use of my airbrush to get some interesting effects on the skin and speed up what would be an otherwise tedious job of highlighting. It'll be a much needed change from the break neck pace I've been ruining my sleep with. It'll also be something semi new here since I don't tend to do many step-by-steps.

But before alla that, I'm also taking a much needed break from work. Starting Tuesday I'm off for almost a week o take care of some much needed relaxation and vacationing. On the vacation docket are reading my copy of Imperial Armor (armour?) 8 when it arrives, playing the living shit our of Super Mario Galaxy 2... when it arrives, watching some TV and...


Visiting the US Army Ordnance Museum and some restaurants in the Aberdeen area. Pretty excited about this. Can't believe that I didn't have to talk the Special Lady Friend into it either.** So once I get back from this, keep your eyes open for my trip photos. Should be interesting.

-----[Foot Notes]-------------------
*In no particular order, these threats would be: singer, songwriter and laser beam eye haver.
**Compare your lives to mine and then kill yourself.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Helpful Handy Hint #3: Mix Yo Paints

Man, I just looked back through my archives. Apparently I haven't written anything about actual painting/hobbying since my Trygon vanity post back at the beginning of April.

I need to put some kind of hastily created stop-gap into place but quick!

Thank Dog for old standbys.

Standbys: no changing the Y to I and adding ES on this one. ITS CRAZY!

Anyway, the end of the eight month Helpful Handy Hint Hiatus. See how I snuck another H in there? Clever.

Premixing Your Colors to Speed Up Army Painting
The Helpful Handy Hint series is all about those incredibly simple things you can do to help your painting in ways disproportionate to the amount of effort involved (in a good way). In fact, many of them are so simple that you'll face palm once the realization sets in about how stupid it was of you to not be making use of the. Things like painting rigs and hairdryers are perfect examples.

To the old pros and people who already use these kinds of tricks, it may seem incredibly obvious. But that's the benefit of experience. As I've mentioned in the past, most of us hobbyists aren't formally trained artists. Our expertise is often a collection of trial and error, the odd flash of insight and help from random strangers on the internet. It is also, typically, very focused on only a few aspects of art. Its also fairly hard to get started. As such, its really easy for our knowledge and skill base to be a bit patchy and fractured - even for the old pros.

Which brings me to today's Handy Hint. This is definitely one of those things that feels like a "durr". For those of you who hadn't considered doing this or even were aware it was thing, it will be a revelation. So what is this 'it'?

It's the incredibly amazing and not at all hard to master concept that you can save time and increase homogeneity across your army by premixing your custom colors.

For those of us who fiddle around with custom colors that unnecessarily complicate our army schemes, the process of remixing a custom color on demand can be very frustrating. There's the time spent doing mixing as well as the problems of matching colors across the army or even on different areas of one miniature.

Lets break things down a bit:

Time Spent Mixing: If you're using a lot of custom colors then, logically, you are spending a great deal of time mixing said colors. Its hard to keep a mixed color usable for any length of time and in the quantities you'll likely need. Even if you use a wet pallet to avoid the 'paint drying out like its supposed' to problem, you still have the issue of quantity. All of this means that you're in a state of constantly needing more of your secret recipe. This takes time. More than you likely realize.

Paint Dries Out: No surprise here, paint is designed to do this. But what this means for your special color is that its quality tends to decline over time. While sitting on the pallet, paint gets thicker over time as it dries. Which can mean visible brushstrokes and other such artifacting on your surfaces. If it gets too bad, you have to make more. See above.

Color Matching Can Be a Bitch: Over the course of the army, it can be very difficult to ensure that your special color matches itself over several models. As paint tends to darken when it dries, it can be difficult to eyeball an exact match between your fresh mix and an old dry patch. The tendency is for the color to shift. In a worst case scenario, the models done at the beginning of the army are noticeably different than the ones done at the end.

Fortunately for you, there's a solution: the aforementioned premixing of your paints.

Its a decidedly simple to implement solution and will go a long way towards alleviating the above problems. All you need to do is mix up some large batches of the colors you frequently need in some empty pots. Bam! In one fell swoop, you've solved most of your problems. Quantity is barely an issue, mixing is all but eliminated and all your models will be painted with the exact same color.

Here's what you need:

Raw Materials - This means paint. You'll need to have a good quantity of the paints involved in your recipe on hand. Its best to work with fresh pots since they haven't had time to start drying out and thickening up. In a pinch, what you have on hand is good too.

Empty Dropper Bottle(s) - It goes to figure that you'll need something to store your new paint in. Little do most people know that those handy dropper bottles that Reaper and Vallejo paints come in are available without paint in them. I recommend the dropper bottles as they do much better job at keeping the paint from thickening up over time compared to regular old pots and jars. The idea is too keep this new color of yours around as long as possible so you don't have to make more and worry about color matching. I recommend the Reaper empties since they come with a paint agitator.

Pipettes and/or Syringes - Unless you're lucky enough to be using paint that already comes in a dropper bottle, you'll need a way to transfer paint out of the pots into the empty bottle with a modicum of control. Whatever you're comfortable with and can get your hands on. I personally use pipettes, but the more I look into syringes, the more I think that's the way to go.* Though unless you have the mis/fortune of a genuine medical need, you'll have to get these from a medical supply type store.

As I said, mixing the paint is easy. But there are a few things to keep in mind. Once you have a good idea of what you want your color to look like, its time to recreate it on a large scale. Now, I know there are a lot of painters out there who don't get all scientific about their ratios when mixing, but for our purposes its a good idea to be a bit more precise. This serves two purposes. One, it allows you to get a much more homogeneous mix in the bottle (more on this later) and, two, it allows you to recreate the final product more easily if there's a next time.

So, starting small, create a smallish batch of the color your after in the empty bottle while making careful note of the ration you used to achieve your results. Its a good idea to start small - or at least as small as you're comfortable with - so it takes less paint to fix mixing mistakes as they occur. Once you have the ratio settled, WRITE IT DOWN AND PUT IT SOMEWHERE SAFE! It might will come in handy later if you need to make more or someone asks you for a recipe.

Once you have the ratios down, its a simple matter of multiplying your numbers enough times fill the empty bottle. One last word of caution - mix in small stages. Don't just throw the total amount of each color you think you'll need into the pot one at a time. It will take forever to mix properly (which can harm the homogeneity of the color) and can lead to needing to put more paint in the bottle than it can hold to make the rations right. Work with small 'runs' of the total ratio at a time, and then make sure it mixes properly with what was already in the bottle. Make sure you do periodic testing with your samples.

A couple last pieces of advice - its generally a bad idea to add thinner to your bottle of newly mixed paint. In many circumstances, the thinner has a tendency to break down the paint over time and cause the components to separate and settle. Thusly ruining the paint. Unless you have some serious paint thickness problems, play it safe and wait to thin the paint once its out of the bottle and on to your pallet.

Lastly, be prepared to spend some money. You'll need to buy paint, containers and some means of transferring paint. It can add up a bit, but the time and frustration saved over time will be well worth it.

In my own experience, premixing custom colors has been an enormous time saver and a staggering help with the tedium and frustration that can crop up when painting an entire army. I first did this with my Eldar when I noticed how much time I spent mixing a mid-tone between bleached bone and ivory for some highlight. I mixed up a batch of a color I use on almost every model and blew my own mind.

I've also recently purchased the materials to make two separate colors for my nascent Tyranid army. Its going to be great.

------[Foot Notes]---------------------------------------------------
*I'm working on getting some more info on this from Tinweasel as he uses syringes regularly. For paint mixing. As I get more info, I'll pass it along.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Da Lamentation of da Vimmin: Part 2 - Goddamn Percentages

The 8th edition of Warhammer Fantasy is just around the corner. Lots of rumors have been cropping up. Here are a couple of nearly identical lists with a few different takes on the main bullet points:

Collected Rumors on BoLS
Collected Rumors on Plastic Legions

Lots of stuff in there that would work to speed up the game. A bunch of possible changes that would do wonders to fix and simplify some kludgy rules that have been floating around since I first started playing back in 4th/5th edition. If true, many of these rumors will do wonders for Fantasy.

However, if true, one rumor will just be a big ol' shit in my bowl of cereal.

From BoLS:
Army construction is moving back to percentages. This is looking more like 25% max characters, 25% min core, 25% max special and 25% max rare (anonymous source, but trustworthy ) The 25% characters includes mounts. Edit. Just as I thought this part was looking certain, there have been some rumours/ sources saying 25% max characters, 25% min core, 50% max special and 15% max rare. I will edit one out as it become clear.
If this is legitimate, it may be a while before I consider playing Fantasy again. Assuming they're in, either flavor of the percentages tank my proposed Lizardmen army. An army which I own but is as of yet un-assembled and unpainted. Also my dream Wood Elf list gets kicked to the curb a bit as well.

If percentages are real, then its not so much a matter of what army I'll play or what list I want to build, but whether ebay or Bartertown will net me a better selling price on my Stegadons. This isn't a matter of chest thumping or idle threats vs. GW. It's certainly no Modern Warfare 2 boycot either. I'm simply stating that percentages will remove the impetus I have to play Fantasy.

I really like a touch of the absurd with my Fantasy armies. Not too interested in much else beyond crazy tree army or giant lizard horde, to be honest. Even if they do kinda suck now or in 8th. Wonder how the new fear and terror rules are gonna shake out...

Now I'm well aware that we're still firmly in the rumor stage, so I'm still hanging on to hope. Especially once I looked back on some of the Blood Angel's rumors and saw how laughable they were. But there's always the niggling accuracy of the 5th edition 40k rumors...

Frankly, I'm with Dethtron on this one - with all of GW's attention to simplification, why would GW complicate army design with something like percentages? Seriously, the percentage system made army design an absolute pain in the ass. I can remember many hours of fucking around with a calculator when building army lists. These are not enjoyable memories.

It was incredibly irritating to have to have all these running totals for all the different sections of your army. All the cross checking and goofy attention to wargear to ensure that the troops minimum was met. Plus, all the weird -ass unit sizes and configurations because you were trying to stay within limits on all the fun stuff. Blech.

The percentages thing smells a lot like composition scoring - a scent reminiscent of an old sock full of hangover vomit. Or the smell of rotting Ginko seeds in late fall... if you've had the displeasure of being near a female Ginko tree.

I also don't trust the average gamer to do math correctly.

Oh well. In any case, I don't know enough about the new edition than to do more than fearfully whine at the electronic-masses. I guess I'll see soon enough.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Some Overused Pun About Baals: Blood Angels List Testing

Time for a brief interlude of rational discussion and fun before I whine about the possibility of percentages making it back into Warhammer Fantasy.

I think I'll talk about the Blood Angels list I proffered a few days ago. Now that I've successfully gotten the four people's opinion's that I value the most in this regard, it's time to do some reflection and thinking.

First up, I have actually managed to get a vassal game in with the proposed list.* Dethtron was nice enough to write up a battle report of one of the most frustrating games I've ever played.
Despite my craptacular luck, the list was an absolute blast to play with. Even if the list isn't the best thing in the world, there's something to be said for cramming in 8 heavy support choices into one list. That thing would be that its fun.

Now that I've had a chance to step back and analyze the game a bit, some things that Chumby and Kirby (after the fact) said have come into focus. That being that most of my anti-tank rests on the backs of my three regular predators. Going in, I had high hopes for the melta guns on the assault marines and the LRCs to get in and do some of the heavy lifting as well and deal with the stuff the lascannons couldn't get.

This first game was a very important learning experience. The regular Predators we're a big let down until about turn 5 and singleton melta guns, while extremely threatening, are not reliable. Chalk one up for inexperience. But I get a bonus point for learning and another for the process of becoming a better player. A net gain of 1!

As far as the assault phase went, the assault marines were pretty solid against the average puny guardsman... and Devil Dogs, crazily enough. Despite the small size, they were pretty hard to shift out of Dethtron's lines and ended up drawing a ton of firepower. But, there was no saturation with the foot marines and 5 guys, no matter how amazing they may be, will die if enough stuff shoots at them.

Speaking of anti-infantry, the Baals were pretty golden with being able to shoot 10 times each with some high strength weaponry. Plus, they snaked some clutch kill points when they went bananas with rending shots on vehicles. The Crusaders... not so much. Didn't get too much of a chance to shoot the assault cannons. Never shot the hurricane bolters. The meltas didn't do much either. Kind of a let down.

In light of the types of armies I face regularly, I feel like switching to regular Land Raiders with multi-meltas is something to try out. Mostly, I want the extra 4 lascannon shots with the possibility of them being at four different targets if need be (best case scenario, I know). I also feel like this gives my opponents a harder time with threat priority. Plus, the heavy bolters may actually be in range to shoot at well... ANYTHING (making them infinitely more useful than the assault cannons ended up being). All in all, I think the regular Raiders my fit into the rolling gun line strategy I like to rock. Defintely something to play with. Though I have fears that this may shift me too far into anti-tank firepower or simply dilute things to the point of not being good at anything except having high AV.

It goes without saying that I need to do a lot more testing.

I think this list is a good place to start - its fun and it has a ton of models in it that I really like. While it's very likely not super competitive, the 6 Predator base is a solid foundation to work from in the future. So while I may not be decided on the two Land Raiders yet, the other stuff in the list are things I can build while I try and figure out what to do in the long term.

In future games I need to see how this thing handles in objective missions and how it fairs against some other armies. One game does not a trend set.

-----[Foot Notes]--------------------------
* Consequently, all the vassal games I've been playing have been really good for helping me learn the game to a much better point. Definitely feeling more confident these days.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Da Lamentation of da Vimmin: Part 1 - Space Elves

Well, maybe things aren't that dramatic....

I think it's time to take a step back from all the positivity spewing out of my Blood Angels kick and get back to what the internet seems to have been created for - complaining.

Mostly I just want to whine a little about the new Fire Prism that's due out in June and then the 8th Edition Fantasy rumors preceding the July release (in another post).

First up, the Space Elves.

That Damnably Good Looking New Fire Prism Kit

I'm not actually all that whiny and mopey over the existence of the kit, its more the fact that my own sense of aesthetics wont let me consider the idea of not purchasing another 3 Fire Prism kits. The old ones, while solid, just don't hold a candle to the new one.

Oh, and there's the fact that the old metal Fire Prism parts are one of the most poorly conceived and executed kit ideas that GW has ever designed.

GW Designer #1: "look lads, now that we're finally getting around to making the Fire Prism kit, what can we do with the existing Falcon kit to make this is as easy peasy as possible?"

GW Designer #2: "Dunno, gov'nuh.... I'm a bit knackered from all that opium we smoked last night. "

GW Designer #3: "Oi! What about some kind of plastic upgrade spr-"

Opium Induced Hallucination: "Bollocks to that, ya prat! The flying base on that thing is extremely wibbly-wobbly. We should obviously build the heaviest and most ill fitting metal parts we can devise to make the best use of that feature of the Falcon. Plus, blokes love trying to glue metal parts to fragile plastic ones. Further, I never foresee a time when metal will be more expensive than it is now."

GW Designer #1: "Brilliant!"

GW Designer #2: "Indeed! Lets go over to Jervis' house to sniff glue and talk about switching paint manufacturers for no reason!"

GW Designer #3: "Is it okay if I huff spray paint instead? I have a meeting tomorrow about sustainable business practices and glue sniffing makes me all potty."

The Queen of England: "Verily!"

Thankfully, I haven't even assembled the things yet, so at least they wont be wasted as I can assemble them as Falcons. Which brings me to my next grumbling. Come June, I'm going to have an absolute mountain of Eldar to paint. Gah!

Up till now, I had managed to get 6 Wave Serpents and all but 10 of the foot models done. Not too bad - the end was in site. I only had 10 guardians, 3 Vypers and 3 Prisms to go. Not so much anymore. With the new Prism kit and my own list building experiments I can add 3 Falcon/Prisms, ANOTHER Wave Serpent and 10ish assorted foot models to the queue. Blech.

I'm sure a few of you out there know my pain.

I wouldn't be so sensitive to the Eldar Build up if it weren't for the pile of unfinished projects I've already got and the uncertain future of the mound of boxes for the Dino-horde.

So. Much. Plastic.

So, to sum up:

1. I am a whiner
2. The new Fire Prism is a much needed improvement
3. I have a lot of Eldar to paint