Saturday, 19 January 2019

The Burning of Innsmouth

Wondering why I haven't shown much personal work in the last year? Well, here's the answer:

Yup - that's right. I've been beavering away on a comic book. It's a thriller set in the aftermath of Lovecraft's classic tale The Shadow Over Innsmouth. It tells the story of how the ill-fated coastal town came to be destroyed by the American Government.

Check it out

You can also like the Facebook page and buy buy buy some awesome gear from the new Redbubble store.

 I'll leave you with a choice selection of artwork.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Progress to Mordheim MMXIX

It's been a while since my last post on Mordheim MMXIX. I'll go into why this is in a moment, but the good news is my warband is coming along nicely now. You can see it below in all its (unpainted) glory.

65532_1 tried to relax, as he had been told. Despite his best efforts, he could feel the tension in his neck building. His sixth sense told him that his comrades were equally tense as they stood shoulder to shoulder in the rusty metal box.
"65532_1, please confirm third ear function."
"Viddy horrorshow"
65532_1 heard some kind of a noise over the link, which he took to be a curse. If his face had been visible, one would have noticed a tiny smile emerge on the corner of his lips. He knew full well that 7HEADSFOR7SINS was irritated by the use of argot.
"Aye, brother. Third ear functioning"
There was another noise. Which 65532_1 rightly assumed was another curse.
"Acknowledged", 7HEADSFOR7SINS said, after a moment. "Attainment on three. Two. One."
Years ago when 65532_1 was in the gulag he and his fellow inmates had been cleaning the yard. Old Balazs was sweeping the tracks just outside the freight tunnel. They had all screamed and screamed at the old man, despite knowing he was deaf. Those with their wits about them had waved their arms maniacally. Despite their efforts, they failed to attract his attention. 65532_1 had been looking right at Balazs as the gurney emerged from the tunnel at full speed. He watched as Balazs was instantly transformed into a cloud of red mist and tiny spinning chunks of mince meat.
That was pretty much how he felt for what seemed like an hour. Or maybe a day.
He was unclear how long he had been lying down. In fact, he didn't even remember how he had ended up face down on the earth. He breathed out and tried to focus his vision. Gradually blades of grass came in to view. He watched with dumb curiosity as an insect crawled up the stem of a plant. After a while (he had no idea how long) he managed to roll himself onto his front and, like a toddler, shuffle onto all fours. He lifted his head. His third ear vision seemed to be functioning. He saw a desolate landscape in front of him with mist hanging low over hillocks of broken ground. Smaller mounds were, he correctly surmised, the prone forms of his comrades. Broken walls and the ribs of shattered rooves were perceptible on the horizon.
The Zone. 7HEADSFOR7SINS had done it. They had travelled back to Mordheim.
Now their mission would really begin...

So, what was the hold up? Well, in part a few Real Life things came along to distract me. More importantly, while I still think my general idea was a strong one, there was a problem. Readers will recall that I was mining the oeuvre of Stalker and Roadside Picnic as inspiration. The trouble is that, while the world in these works is well realised, the aesthetic of the stalkers themselves isn't. Subsequent Stalker-related works (like Metro 2033) and the costumes in Gilliam's Twelve Monkeys ultimately just didn't inspire me.

Then I remembered the work of Thomas Dubief:

I really love his medieval-WWI aesthetic, with its hints of early tech, heraldry and dazzle camo all muddied down through what we presume to be months of trench warfare.

Perfect for convicts sent through time with the aid of bizarre tech on a mission into hell they barely comprehend.

So I got to work on some Cawdor gangers. The overly-large goggle-heads were a feature I wanted to ape. I borrowed weirdingsway's trick of combining two Marine shoulder pads to form a half-capsule element. The Ad Mech raygun was a deliberate choice as it has a Mauser feel to it which I really like. The shields were components with the perfect blend of slab-like geometry with a few refined curves. I chose swords which had a very utilitarian feel to them - more like machetes than rapiers. Like they are trench issue kit for Tommys as opposed to elegant blades.

In terms of painting I want to go for something quick which captures Dubief's heraldry and camo. I've got a bit of an aversion to airbrushing at the moment, so I might use Death Guard Green spray as a base and go from there. I'll keep the heraldry simple and will look at Imperial Knights decals as possible sources for iconography.

I'm back off into The Zone now, so I'll see you in a few hours. Or weeks. It's hard to tell...

Friday, 28 December 2018

Festive Beastmen

I was inspired by the recent release of the Beasts of Chaos Battletome and painted up a trio of minis too add to my Krawl project collection. Here they are in all their cloven-hoofed glory:

The chap above needs no introduction as he's a fairly common classic Oldhammer sculpt from the late 80s. Giving him a red face and green fur lends him a slight Masters of the Universe vibe which I love. I painted his shield separately and stippled the red onto it using sponges to give it some interesting texture. The hue of his face actually blends up into his horns, which is a nod to the incredible work of Don Hans whose minis I find a constant source of inspiration.

The next little guy is a diminutive Ungor - these lighter troops are used as skirmishers in Beastmen armies. I love the medieval vibe of the Ungor designs. They look like they have stepped out of a Bruegel painting. I ramped up his daemonic footsoldier vibe by painting his flesh red and I was pretty pleased how it turned out. I sprayed him black then zenith sprayed him white, before spraying him red all over. This helps to make the red a bit brighter and forces the shading a little.

The black/green flesh on this guy was a response to the Ungor above - if the Ungor was red, it seemed appropriate to make their larger cousins darker and more ominous. On this guy I really tried to go for a more zenithial style of highlighting (which I'll talk more about in a future post) and it worked OK. I actually developed my technique after I finished him, but he is an early success I feel. I kept the wood of his shield rather neutral deliberately so as not to detract from the brighter hues elsewhere. The lightest feature is his horns, which helps to draw the viewer's eye up to his head.

One last thing to say is that I'm developing a palette for my Krawl miniatures. I mentioned this a while back, but it's inspired by the Bitmap Brothers video games of old, Cadaver in particular. The green-shaded-grey acts as a 'signature colour' and the other tones are varied but with commonality between them (the reds are broadly the same, for example).

Next up, a Lord of the Rings Ranger!

Monday, 10 December 2018

Naughty Chaos Spawn

I love the Spawn kits with all their wibbly options. I intend to add a trio of these degenerates to my Night Lords army. I got them all to a certain stage of prep, then rushed ahead and completed this guy.

After his black undercoat I hit him with Mephiston Red spray from one side. This did much of the complex blending for me, and I highlighted him up from there. I added a tiny bit of armour plating to each's shoulder. This allowed me to apply the distinctive Night Lords metallic blue which defines the collection. The red Blood For The Blood God really added a bit of 'pop' at the last stage as it vibrates against the blue.

You can take Spawn as part of the Chaos Cultist Necromunda gang (the rules for which were printed in White Dwarf a while back). So he's double the fun (which is totally an expression which needs to be used in conjunction with Spawn).


Thursday, 6 December 2018

Krawl - dungeoncrawling in the Age of Sigmar

Dungeons? In Age of Sigmar? This must be...

I've been really enjoying building up a collection of Citadel fantasy 'randoms' (for want of a better term). Odds and sods from the history of Games Workshop, from classic Oldhammer lead minis to some of the beautiful plastics now available. I just choose what I like. And it turns out what I like are little 'grunts' - just rank and file guys. Few are heroes, most are just characterful fellows representing the archetypes of their race or faction. Some are converted, many are not.

But I wanted a structure to what was clearly becoming serious collection. And I love branding. And the dungeoncrawl genre. And card floorplans. So when you mix it all together you get this:

The thing I like about the dungeoncrawl genre is that it doesn't rely on multiples of miniatures. Finding a grot, a tzaangor and an ogor in a room in a dungeon is just fine, thank you (though goodness knows what they were doing there before you kicked down the door...). Games Workshop has explored the genre a little with their Warhammer Quest series of games and in doing so produced some excellent floorplans. While I own and treasure the Silver Tower set, sadly I don't own the Hammerhal ones. As long-time readers will know, I also have an extensive archive of Oldhammer floorplans dating from the late 80s.

So, AoS_Krawl is about...
  1. Collecting whatever random individual minis you like;
  2. Slapping down some 2D floorplans (be they Oldhammer, modern or homemade), and;
  3. Letting your hero(es) krawl, level up, equip loot... and krawl some more...
How am I going to achieve the last of these aims? Krawl isn't wedded to any particular system. In the same way as its genetic material is a hybrid of old and new, I suspect any rules I employ will be a fusion. Heck, I might even be tempted to dig out my old Combat Cards and work with them (which, incidentally, have been rebooted for 40K). Let me get back to you on this.

Here are some alternate modes to try:
  • Roguelike: While traditional RPG dungeoncrawling was about a party of cooperating holier-than-thau-goodie-two-shoes, there emerged in video games the 'roguelike' where a lone hero would chop his way through a dungeon. Perfect if your single, unhinged Vampire Blood Knight wants to go on a murderhobo killing spree.
  • Splatterpunk: Inspired by 1980s horror genre of the same name, this is all about grotesque, excess gore. In my head this looks like the Splatterhouse video games. Why not create alternate duplicates of tiles swamped in body parts and blood to mark the progress of your 'heroes'? 
  • Ironic Hipster Indie Adventure: WHY DO YOU HAVE TO KEEP KILLING EVERYONE? Stop being a murderfiend and talk to the denizens of your dungeon. To avoid this getting twee, go and play Sword and Sworcery [sic] to see how a good script can turn a simple set of encounters into a beautiful and hilarious fantasy tale. Then kill things.
  • Crawl: No, this is not unimaginatively titled, but the name of a great multiplayer cross-genre video game. From Wikepedia: 
    The main player advances through randomly generated dungeons as a human hero while up to three other spirit players control the dungeon's enemies and traps to kill the main player. The spirit player who kills the human hero swaps roles to become the next main player.

    This game is hilariously fun and frenetic and is begging for a tabletop conversion. I think I've just done it right here. You can have it for free.
  • Nidhogg 2: Based on the game of the same name, with an awesome soundtrack. Kinda hard to explain, but two opponents face off in the centre of a long corridor of rooms and go at one another as they try to reach the opposite end. When one dies, the survivor can pick up the abandoned weapon, but, either way, the victim immediately respawns between their enemy and the end with a shiny new weapon. Rinse and repeat going back and forth until one combatant gets to the opposite end. Cue much gaffawing.
Fancy some music to accompany your delvings? Check out Heimat der Katastrophe, pioneers of 'dungeon-drone'.
Great dungeoncrawl movies to check out are:
Big Trouble in Little China
Indiana Jones
At the Earth's Core
Lord of the Rings (the 1978 version, obviously)

The Mummy (1999)
Trapdoor (the 80s kids claymation series, which is surprisingly good and hilarious to boot)
I was going to recommend 80s classic Knightmare, them I re-watched bits on YouTube and remembered it was bobbins.

Wow. That's a lot. Please have a go at Krawl yourself as a framework to justify collecting and painting all those fantasy randoms you love. Let me know in the comments how you get on.

Friday, 9 November 2018

(More) Chaos Cultists

I finished a trio of Cultists for my Night Lords. These chaps join the quintet I completed a few months back. I'm kinda regretting the blue shaded black. It looks lovely but it's proving quite laborious to roll out over so many minis. Lesson learned about considering workload if I intend to paint a whole army.

I think I have another three to go before I'll call it done. This forthcoming batch include the leader, who I'm rather looking forward to lavishing a bit more attention on.

Of note is the photography. I'm pleased with the result but I need to refine the process a bit as the minis are currently proving quite laborious to clip out. The gloss black bases and gloss surface look really nice and lend even these fairly basic paint jobs a touch of class.


Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Remember these guys? Me neither, apparently.

Turns out I'd criminally forgotten to post my squad of Warlocks. I must have finished them a couple of years ago and they've had a few outings on the tabletop.

I'm quite disappointed by my choice of colours for them. I feel I applied the principle that they sport the colourway of the Craftworld too rigidly (in this case, a very early Rogue Trader-era scheme). This has left them rather dull I feel. When these sculpts first appeared, the Studio Eldar army was a gloriously multi-coloured affair. Not only did each of the Aspects having its own colourway, each individual Warlock sported different livery. This gave them a sense of being special as befits their background. If I do a second unit I'll go down that road I think.

Actually I want to make any future units of Aspect Warriors a bit brighter and more varied. I've gone down the 'grey' route too much for the Dire Avengers I feel, but the Scorpions and Spiders are a bit brighter and that's something I want to pursue.

Craftworld overly-Greyjoy.