Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Basement booty: Realm of Battle

I'm hoping I'm not alone in having a basement which mostly functions mostly as A Place Where Things Go to Die. During a recent expedition into the depths I discovered an old Realm of Battle tile. I'd been given some time ago and had always intended to paint the thing as a skirmish board. With the unusually fine weather upon us, I rolled up my sleeves, brushed off the spiders (from the board, not me) and got stuck in.

I decided I wanted it to be generic affair which could be put to all sorts of uses and opted for traditional greens. However, I really wanted the exposed rocks to have naturalistic variation of colour. I started by blocking in the colours and working wet-in-wet with the acrylics to achieve the kind of colour transitions I wanted. This was actually really good fun. Because the weather was warm you have to be quick with acrylics as they go tacky in a very short space of time.

Below are some shots when the painting is nearing completion. I worked inks into the recesses in the rocks to add some depth and tone.

Below are shots of the flocking in progress. Top tip: don't flock when it's breezy. It doesn't end well. I was trying to build up a variety of types of grass and so layering the different types of flock onto the landscape.

Below is a shot of the finished tile. The glue is actually drying at this point on some of the grass areas so they appear slightly lighter. I wasn't too pleased with the deep green which forms the bulk of the grass. I feel the colour of the flock is too 'mono'. It'd be cooler if there was more variety there. Ah well, I'll know for next time.

I'd love to take some shots of minis in action on this table, and maybe use it for a bit of photography for painted Oldhammer minis. In the meantime, I need to sweep up a load of escaped flock...

Monday, 17 April 2017

Don't get overly-familiar

The Familiars are some of my favourite miniatures from GW's 2016 Silver Tower boxed set. The high-fantasy world of Age of Sigmar gets even more trippy when Tzeentch, the nefarious Lord of Change gets involved. Magical familiars are not merely cats called Tom, but walking books... with tails.

These miniatures are an homage to some of Citadel's oldest and most beloved scultps from the late 80s, rendered in 21st century style with cutting-edge technology. I was kindly gifted a set and they were tremendous fun to paint. They are also rare examples of modern single-piece plastics, but are no less dynamic for that.

These are some of the last I did in the 'grey' style that I had been experimenting with. While it's been fun I have eventually found the tight palette too restrictive so have moved on to more colourful things. I am very much into miniatures functioning as miniatures. I like mine to be be recognisable and intelligible from a reasonable distance and this style lacks the contrast necessary to do that.

Enjoy! And did it take you as long as it did for me to notice that the walking fish is in the shape of Tzeentch's icon? Genius!

Friday, 14 April 2017

Purple Sex Marine

I painted this Renegade as a gift for a friend. I was pretty pleased how he came out (no pun intended).

He's actually one of the later resin casts and I think came in a pack of four, each being the classic Jes Goodwin model for each of the Chaos powers. I just love this Marine's pose. He is relaxed and haughty, demonstrating the arrogance and posturing of the Slaaneshi cult. Jes is a master of the one-piece sculpt and I just love painting casts like this.

The paint job was really simple. Leadbelcher spray over a black undercoat, then washes of ink on top for most of the plate. Additional details were blocked-in as necessary. I used the technique I'd established on my Harlequins for the pastel-pink whites. Base with a mix of white with a dash of red, wash the recesses with a darker mix, then highlight up to white. The green eyes and very simple green grass base were deliberately chosen to contrast against these warmer details.

The decals are actually from super-old sheets printed in the early 90s. I still have all my old sheets in all their shabby, cut-up glory. I'm pleasantly surprised how well they still work after 25 years.

Secretly I imagine that when he talks, this Marine sounds like Kenneth Williams.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Hang on to your biomass - an Eldar VS Tyranids battle report

Posting has been a bit slow of late due to Life getting in the way. But at least the planet hasn't been consumed by a star-faring race of biomass guzzlers. On that note, I played a game of 40K yesterday against my long-term opponent and his Tyranids.

I brought my Rogue Trader-inspired Eldar to the party. It turned out we had both inadvertently dressed to match our factions. I wore a mustard yellow top, and Mr T had a shirt and jeans that matched Hive Fleet Behemoth. I am going to make sure this is a new rule that goes into the next edition of 40k.

We opted to play along the length of the table and, with a swish of their skirts, my space elves eased their crinoline into various ruins. Space elves in the open don't last long. My Hemlock Wraithfighter was so cunningly camouflaged you could hardly see it against the grass it hovered over.

Mr T's bugs thought they had been invited to a game of British Bull Dog. They lined up appropriately, ready to dash headlong into the fun that is Eldar munitions.

The game started off pretty badly for me. In true British fashion I blamed the dice, declared that I was underpowered and it was totally not fair. As the game wore on I decided to actually read the rules for my units. I discovered they can do all sorts of nasty things. At which point the tide turned and some of the chitinous beasties succumbed. This didn't stop Mr T's Termagants sweeping, Gallimimus-like, around the objective. Damn.

Gradually a combination of firepower and psychics whittled down the Tyranids. We each lost our warlords. Both our armies looked on in horror as their leaders were hacked down, then shrugged, carried on, and wondered why they took orders from those jerks anyway.

My Warlocks eventually got fed up of the Carnifex who kept rolling around like a puppy in your laundry. They whipped out their witchblades and Magic Dave the Warlock took him down. And everyone cheered.

This was the state of play at the end of the game. Mr T claimed the objective (darn!) but there were plenty of space elves left to boo at the Termagants. Props if you can spot the Hemlock. Very few people can.

All told this was a great game and we're both inspired to paint more. I had finished another five Dire Avengers beforehand and will post photos of them soon. I also realised I'd never shot my Warlocks, so I'll take some snaps of them at the same time. I think I might paint another squad of Rogue Trader Harlequins soon as well so they can become a playable force on their own. Looted Imperial Robots anyone?

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Ruiner: You are being played

Ruiner is a forthcoming cyberpunk RPG shooter from Reikon Games. It looks like an awesome mash-up of Akira, Hotline Miami and Daft Punk with a dose of Only God Forgives. Best of all it features some utterly amazing environment artwork on a par Otomo's 1988 anime classic. Some gameplay videos have dropped recently, one of which is below.

I love the bold typography too.

Definitely one to keep an eye on. As the game's strapline declairs, "You are being played."

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Are you American? Then I think you're creepy and kooky.

Lately I've been delving into representations of the gothic in American culture. For us Brits, gothic America is a slightly uncanny place - many of the cultural mainstays are alien and don't resonate in quite the same way. A good example of this is the classic American haunted house - a tall, faded, wooden clapboard structure. We have very few examples of clapboard constructions in the UK so these buildings immediately strike us as 'alien' and 'other'. There is no sense of familiarity about them. Good examples of such houses in pop culture are the Bates house in Psycho, and the Addams Family mansion. It's the latter I want to delve into, particularly because of the franchise's pedigree.

Created by cartoonist Charles Addams in 1938, the fictional family continued to appear in printed cartoons until 1988. They have been the stars of numerous TV shows, cartoons, movies and video games, as well as featuring in other universes like Scooby-Doo. Throughout, their residence has been described as a 'mansion' and its depiction has stayed pretty consistent.

The mansion in a panel by creator Charles Addams 

Another Addams panel, giving a view down from the central tower. This scene with the boiling oil is recreated in the opening of the 1992 movie.

The facade of the mansion from the 60s TV show

The box cover of the 60s plastic model kit by Aurora, later re-issued by Polar Lights

The house in the 1992-3 (I think) cartoon

The set at Toluca Lake for the 1991 and 1993 movie adaptions

The mansion in a SNES video game
(I'm not sure which of the four games this is, all were released by Ocean between 1992 and 1995)

This is an unofficial and speculative plan of the mansion from The site says:
The Addams Family Home Floor Plan was drawn by Mark Bennett.  Mark Bennett has been drawing floor plans of TV homes and offices for years.  The floor plan appeared in the LA Times Magazine on September 10, 1995.
Timber became increasingly uncommon as a construction material in Britain as the centuries passed. We destroyed many of the forests which covered our island. Land was converted to agriculture or the wood used for buildings, industry and the fabrication of ships to fight the French and Spanish. Brick and stone have been common for several hundred years. These materials also have the benefit of being less combustible, as fire was a constant threat in dense, cramped cities like London. America has had no shortage of wood (especially split oak, pine and spruce which are ideal for construction), nor space on which to build and so wood has persisted in vernacular architecture. The clapboard style has come to resonate as historic and is therefore a common signifier of a 'haunted' house. Indeed, the faded grey of the Addams' mansion is a natural consequence of the tannin being washed out of the clapboards as the years pass.

The Addams mansion is in the Empire style - neoclassical inspired by French architecture under Napoleon. This aesthetic was popular in America from about 1810. Charles Addams had probably seen the SK Pierce mansion in Gardner, Massachusetts. This is one of America's most famous 'haunted' houses. Built in about 1880 it later fell into disrepair and was the site of various alleged murders, deaths and suicides.

The SK Pierce Mansion. Its bay windows and central tower make it a likely source for the Addams' residence.

In 2013 Tim Burton was attached to an animated reboot of The Addams Family, but, to date, this hasn't come to fruition. It would be fascinating to see how me might have re imagined the franchise and its mansion, especially given how he overhauled Batman in the 1989 movie. Alas I can't find any concept art for this aborted version.

I'll leave you with this great bit of fan art of the mansion by IrenHorrors:

Monday, 13 February 2017

Land of Hope and Glory? Not in Wisconsin...

Dangerous Minds has just posted an excellent piece on the infamous Black River Falls in Wisconsin. The bleak history of this mining town was profiled in a 1973 book Wisconsin Death Trip and then, later in 1999, an excellent documentary of the same name. Being an avid film buff at university at the time of release, I remember the piece as being quite a landmark. It's shot almost entirely in gorgeous black and white and features a haunting soundtrack.

Someone has uploaded the whole thing to YouTube and I've embedded it below. I'm not sure how long it'll be around so I'd recommend watching it sooner rather than later.