Sunday, 29 March 2020

Death in the Drakwald - Landschaft mit Seele

Now I'm safely out of the gravitational pull of the Bucephalus space hulk, my attention is turning once again to my 10mm Warhammer project - Death in the Drakwald.

The Drakwald itself is a vast, ancient forest running from the edge of the Wasteland to the far end of Hochland. While Mankind has made settlements there, some deep within it, the forest holds many secrets, and it does not give them up graciously. Dragons terrorised the ancient tribes and early Empire from there, until an Emperor killed the last of their kind. Still, foolhardy treasure hunters brave the depths of the Drakwald to seek the riches of a lost dragon’s lair, or perhaps their eggs, which are said to remain fertile forever and only need great heat to hatch. Deep under the forest eaves also lurk Beastmen, descendants of raiders from long ago, who breed and wait, occasionally attacking the lone farm or small group of travellers, until the time comes for Chaos to claim the north. The nobles and burghers of the province occasionally mount expeditions to root them out, but survivors always flee deeper into the forests, to wait again and regrow their numbers.
Sigmar's Heirs, 2005
I've been thinking about more terrain. Probably thinking a bit too much, if I'm honest.

While the little cottage I painted some time ago is cute, it is a bit 'generic fantasy'. And, frankly, a setting as amazing as Warhammer deserves something better.

Previously I've touched on the psychology of early twentieth century Germany and how it led to the romantic construction of the forest volk. This prompted me to read more about the art form of the period - German Expressionism - and in particular the critical work of Lotte Eisner. While the Expressionists' attention was often on cities (most notably in Metropolis) the forest appears too in works like Die Nibelungen. There are even wonky medieval buildings in the Jewish ghetto of Prague in Der Golem. This got me thinking along the track of Expressionism as a style for my terrain.

It's tempting to think of Expressionism as the caricature that it had become by the late 20th century - twisting chequered floors, janky corridors and crooked skylines all of which were endlessly cutesey-fied by Tim Burton imitators. I was pretty inspired when I discovered the intent behind the movement, which can be summed up by the term coined by Kurtz and Kalbus; landschaft mit Seele - 'landscape with soul'. The Expressionists argued that verisimilitude of the real world was simply imitation that lacked spirit. More powerful was a design which evoked the feelings of a place with shapes which had more emotional resonance.

It was this that spoke to me the most.

I've seen quite a few hobby projects which go the the n-th degree to create the miniature world in extreme detail, replete with a million kinds of flock. I must confess these can sometimes (but not always) leave me a bit tired. Something more stylised can have a much greater effect on me. Expressionist film, theatre and art wasn't all in oddly angled corridors. Der Golem and Die Nibelungen have huge exterior sets which wonderfully textured and leaning stucco buildings. It was these that inspired me to sketch out some options.

I've started sculpting my first couple of buildings. They're not quite at a stage yet where I can show them but rest assured they will get their own post soon.

Stay safe everyone!

Friday, 28 February 2020

All aboard the Space Hulk - bon voyage!

I realised I hadn't posted photos of the finished Space Hulk terrain set. Sorry about that! Here are all the pieces in their final painted glory.

I'm taking a little break from hobby for a few weeks to travel and whatnot, but have plans for some crazy conversions and more scenery as we roll into spring.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

All aboard the Space Hulk - battle report

Last weekend the boarding torpedoes ruptured the ancient, scarred hull of the Bucephalus and delivered a dozen excited gamers deep into the bowels of the space hulk. Each commanded either 'scratch' squads of beautifully painted Terminators, or waves of gnarly genestealers. While the miniatures were stunning, they weren't, of course, the stars of the show. That accolade went to the hulk itself.

cpt.normandy admiring the swathes of miniatures

Each participant used the latest GW kits to make 3D versions of hulk corridors or rooms. It was a riot of twisted creativity. Offerings ranged from Quatermass-like alien abominations to gloriously polychromatic industrial sections. My own meagre offering of the medical bay was put to good use and the tiny hospital beds got used here, there and everywhere. And caused much amusement.

Rules masters in the form of the brothers Hartman initiated proceeding. While we had originally intended to play three games as either Marines or Xenos, then swap sides and re-play, the tides of the warp dictated this wasn't to be. We played three games and each kept to being humans or genestealers. I was a genestealer. My extra arms and purple skin were probably the thing that influenced that decision.

Now that's not something you see every day...

Progress was neck-and-neck at first. Marine losses were (satisfyingly) heavy at the start. And the broodmind was pleased. However, on the second game it was apparent that learning was occurring among the puny, fleshy invaders. They fared much better. A cunning use of Command Points allowed one plucky Custodes to claim the objective in this second game. I didn't know someone in Terminator armour could run that fast. Things were very even in the final game right up until the last few turns. Some sneaky (although admittedly beautifully painted) Black Templars managed to almost claim one objective. But the weakling was snipped in two by a regular 'Stealer. A Custodes did manage to find his way to the other objective. But two were needed and so it was a technical Genestealer win. Hurrah!

For me events like this are never really about the games themselves. It's the shared experience among friends I value. This is especially so when folk travel great distances to contribute to the gatherings. And that's the great thing about this hobby - it brings people (and Genestealer Hybrids) together for a shared passion. And no one minds that your skin is a bit purple and you really don't want them to meet your parents.

If you enjoyed my journey then do check out the work of all the brave hulk-skulkers:
secrets of the void

Friday, 7 February 2020

New comic short released

I've completed a comic short which is now available to download for free (or 'pay what you want') here on DriveThruComics.

Get on over there and snag your copy!

It's been a great exercise for me to try a different illustration style. Afficionados will spot lots of Mobius and M├ętal Hurlant influences in the line work and colouring. Less obvious is the impact of Giannis Milonogiannis' stunning work on the Prophet comics, which I can highly recommend.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

All aboard the Space Hulk - Part 5

I'm coming to the end of the painting phase of my Space Hulk project. I intend to do some studio shots of elements before I glue them all together. Here's a little update on what's been going on in each of the four rooms...

The Morgue

I've gone for a slightly cooler palette here which you can see on the door below. This means any brown or red rust elements really pop. The bottom photo here is where elements are most finished. You can see how the green floor means the pale walls stand out.



This is the door from the Gallery to the Ward. Once you get your chipping sponges and paints all set up it's really easy to knock these out. I didn't want to spend too much time on them, so the only sections where I bothered to add colour over the spray basecoat were the actual doors themselves. The darker grey one is Mechanicus Grey, while the paler one is, if I remember correctly, a mix of the Contrast paints (Apothecary White and Aethermatic Blue thinned with the Medium).

The Gallery

I finally got around to finishing my custom decals and applying them. As mentioned, it's JC Leyendecker art I've abused in Photoshop. I really need to explain more about this. But I kind of feel it deserves its own post.

Below is the floor of the Gallery (the chequered 'L' shape) and the remainder of the Ward. The Ward therefore spans two tiles. The block above will be glued onto the white area.

The Surgery

This was the room I finished first I think. The cool grey top pieces really pop against the red and creme of the walls. As you can see from the final shot, it's suitably terrifying when lit properly! Admittedly the Night Lord murder-hobo-ing around doesn't help...

The Ward

Below is a shot with everything set up. I need to add blood splats to all the pieces, but it's otherwise done. To the rear of this photo you can see the split in the tiles, and you can just make out the pile of skulls and candles which are shown on the plan photo of the Gallery tile, above.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

All aboard the Space Hulk - Part 4

Quick early morning post to show the paint updates...

The Gallery

Pretty much done here. The floor's down and the walls are up. I just need to add decals to the niches on both sides of the wall section then weather the floor a bit.

The Surgery

This came out better than I expected. Turns out wrapping walls in nylon makes them REALLY hard to paint so lesson learned there. The thing that adds interest to this rather mono paint scheme is the matte/gloss combo which is really easy to do with things like Citadel Blood for the Blood God paint. It took me about 20mins to make the little collection of candles and skulls in 3D and then I printed off three of them on my new Anycubic Photon printer. Mind = BLOWN.

The Ward

Again this is almost done. The floor was dead simple but has worked well. Some of my 3D prints for the Art Deco wall sections were soft due to me not cleaning the prints properly. Ah well. Actually with paint they don't look too bad so I'm happy. People seem to love the little beds too.

The Morgue

This is the least finished room but it's now all base coated. I managed to bang the parts around a bit and the coffer door snapped off and the lamp buckled. Such is life. I want it to be cooler in colour tone as all the other rooms are rather warm. You can also see print errors on the radiator in the foreground. But dumping a load of rust paints over this should disguise it sufficiently.

So, that's about it for the last week's worth of hobby. Oh, except that I finally got round to airbrushing the basecoat onto my Night Lords who will inhabit the hulk. More on those when I get all the scenery finished.