Sunday, 27 November 2016

Miniature odds and sods

Between slightly larger projects I often dabble with a couple of minis in order to experiment. Sometimes I have an idea for a collection and they're colourway tests, in other cases the subjects are opportunities to try painting techniques. Here are two little guys which volunteered for such a dubious honour.

Before I settled on Stormtonnians as my AoS army, I mooted a dirty Skaven brigade based on the classic Andy Chambers army from the early 90s (you can find out more about this seminal collection here). His collection reeked of mould and the rather dirty infantry were accompanied by some amazing banners. I wanted to ape this combination and endeavoured to use a lot of dry brushing on the guy above. It's really only his hood and his flesh which is layer-highlighted. I also threw on some more modern rust and blood effects. I liked this guy, but felt the colours were a little dull and couldn't really muster the enthusiasm to do a whole army.

Mr Tzaangor here was a spare from the excellent Silver Tower. I've had the feeling for some time that my minis are lacking a bit of vibrancy so he is an experiment to make things a bit brighter. I rather feel there are two extremes when it comes to miniatures painting - those who strive for accurate naturalism and scale effects and those who embrace the fiction of a miniature and paint each element the colour they imagine it to be (and there are, of course, many point along this continuum too). I'm not explaining this eloquently, but hopefully you catch my drift.  There are challenges and pitfalls with both approaches, but I think I'm shifting to the latter camp. Hence the white undercoat here and the super-vibrant base colours. Since this snap was taken I re-undercoated the grey sections black to give more contrast. I have some hopes for him and will post a shot of him when he's finished.

I've also been bulking out my Blood Angels with a Heresy-era combat squad and a terminator Librarian, but more on those soon.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Blood Angels at war

Last week I took my new Blood Angels army out on patrol. There had been some worrying reports of a Xenos incursion into Warhammer World, and the boys in red were on hand to stymie any theft of biomass. To add some complexity the wicked hand of fate determined that there was a relic that the Sons of Sanguinius should save from any invaders. Thus they arrayed themselves in a battle line as their many-limbed enemies scurried into view...

The force deployed for battle. It turns out that putting your combat squad with the heavy weapon behind a massive hill isn't such a great plan.

The enemy, with all their limbs on show. One of the Termagants was named 'Toto'. He took out a Taurox with a Fleshborer in a previous engagement. Smug little git.

The Death Company sweep in the retrieve to catch the pigeon relic. If only there was an option to equip then with jump packs! Oh, wait... Dready Mc Dreadface supplies covering fire but it transpires that a Multi Melta only has a range of 24". Onwards he toddles.

A 'dynamic' shot of the denouement. The Death Company keep shouting "Feel no pain!" like drunks on a stag do and win the day. My Captain, cunningly disguised by his giant, flashing banner, takes out two Tyranid Warriors by punching them with his foam Chainfist. Yay! Take that. And that.

I won the battle, more through luck then anything else. Alas it turned out that the 'relic' was a space hopper covered in KitKat wrappers. The Blood Angels are understandably miffed (and they can't even play with the hopper as bouncing makes them feel queasy). Next time they plan to bring a Librarian so I don't just get mauled in the psychic phase, and maybe later a Predator or Razorback as 'move or fire' does not make for a dynamic game.

For the Emperor!

Saturday, 19 November 2016


Age of Sigmar is what all the cool kids are playing these days and I decided I want to join in. I mooted several factions but was ultimately inspired to do some Stormcast with a twist. You can see the first results below.

I figured that as Sigmar draws his Stormcast from various populations of surviving humans, some may retain a little of their former culture which permeates their Stormhost. Hence we have a Stormhost formed from some rather feudal, gallant, Grail-worshipping survivors from the World That Was. I'm not naming names.

I have been reading a bit about heraldry and have become quite fascinated by the systems and language which has grown up around it. I also love the way that heraldry functions really well on miniatures, serving to inject colour, pattern and individuality into troops. A friend had also introduced me to the work of artist Kekai Kotaki who has done some really dynamic portraits of knights who have stepped out of a bonkers JRPG.

The Stormcast were perfect donors as they have a lot of the movement and refined bulk that so key to these images. Their shields would also provide great surfaces to apply the heraldry. I managed to file them down with varying degrees of success, which is why I chose to add a bit of weathering to disguise any imperfections. The weathering also helps to fool the eye into thinking the overall paint job is rather more detailed than it really is. The armour is just zenith silver spray washed with GW's amazing Gloss Nuln Oil and nothing more. The new sculpted AoS bases look great and are an amazing time-saver. Some awesome hobby friends recommended the colourway. Clearly these chaps are knocking about in the Realm of Fire, and the warm, dark base offsets the cooler, lighter miniature. The lava in the deepest recesses adds a tiny bit of interest.

I can't take too much credit for the conversions, as there are some great examples of Stormcast-Bretonnian (damn - I said the word) hybrids on the interwebs. Suffice it to say I'm stealing from the best and hopefully incrementally improving on the work of others.

I've got a load of ideas in my head for both future units and more background. I'll blog these as they come to fruition. I'm really keen to incorporate ideas that, while this Stormhost might superficially appear chivalric and Gallic, they have a deeper core of weird Cymric mythology. Fisher Princes, Poor Knights, Kelpies, Questing Beasts and Sigmar as the Mab Darogan.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Creative used of Altoids tins

Large objects scare me. I don't know what it is about them, but my mistrust of anything big probably goes a long way to explaining why I love miniatures. Consequently I also adore the many and varied solutions for compactness and Altoids tins spawn.

These diminutive tins are somewhat of a cultural icon, and I am sure we've all used them (or something similar) to store things like hooks, pins and buttons. But there are creative folk out there who are putting them to really interesting uses.

For quite a while I've seen DIY watercolour travel kits made from Altoids tins. Now, with 3D printing becoming more readily available you can order watercolour holders designed to fit inside the tins. This kind of add-on industry is a really interesting direction for 3D prints and I'm sure excited to see how it develops.

While storage is a common use, aids for spiritual life are also possible. Some crafty witches have suggested that you build a travelling alter into your Altoids tin for those wicca emergencies when you're on the go.

On a similar note, if you find the need for contemplation you could always crack open your Zen Altoids tin. It contains a miniature garden which will no doubt be in need of a manicure if it's been bouncing around in your pocket since your last harrying day.

A solution which, refreshingly, makes no attempt to take itself seriously is the Minty Spinner. Again this is a 3D print solution. Reach for this during the coming evenings in the pub with your friends. Genius in a sweet tin.*

There are quite a few tech solutions out there too. Flashlights, amplifiers, speakers etc. have all been fitted into Altoids tins. A quick google will throw up a load. While these are cool, current advances in miniaturisation render them more novel retro items rather than groundbreaking solutions.

*Incidentally, I am pretty sure the spinner on the left points to the word "sing". However, to the native British it may, also, be a four letter word with a less salubrious meaning. Clue: Austen Powers.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Interview with Les Edwards

Richard Mckenna over at We Are the Mutants has just published a great interview with legendary artist Les Edwards.

Like many I encountered his work via his awesome contributions to the Games Workshop canon of classic images. It's a bit disappointing that his body of work for GW doesn't get any airtime in the interview as he created some stunning images for the company and gained a lot of fans as a well-deserved result. I thought I'd put up those images I could find which graced GW products including some White Dwarf covers. If I have missed any out, please shout in the comments.

I am lucky enough to own a copy of his monograph Blood & Iron which I highly recommend if you can find a copy at a reasonable price. In it there is a wonderful stage-by-stage series of photos an a commentary on his cover for Realm of Chaos; The Lost and the Damned (the last image in this post, sadly cropped to show only the book's front cover).

You can see Les' official site here.

Edit #1 - I had forgotten the Heroquest expansion Wizards of Morcar cover, which is by Les:

Edit #2 - this is the Ghoul piece reader The One has kindly pointed out was used by GW - he was on the cover of WD19. Weridly he seems to be flipped in some reproductions but I think this is the 'corrrect' orientation.


Thursday, 3 November 2016

More finished Blood Angels

Below is the second combat squad for my Blood Angles, marking the completion of the Start Collecting! box contents. I was pleased at how the exotic fur turned out - so pleased that I also took a shot from the back to show how they look together.

I really enjoyed painting these guys - partly due to my decision to avoid edge highlighting and concentrate on the details and heraldry. I quite like the guy on the left of the shot who sports a pelt with lots of visible skin on the inside. I tried to get a creased effect seen on leather and I think I succeeded in my aim of livening up what might otherwise have been a slightly dull surface which is rather visible from the front. The banner worked out well too. This follows the scheme detailed in the the 2nd ed. Codex with the red Chapter icon. I actually achieved this by painting the central portion of the banner red, applying a home made decal which was a clear icon on a black field, then neatening up the surrounding black. I'm not sure I'm explaining this well, but bear with me here.

I also took a 'family photo' of the box contents. I should try to do one with the RTB01s and Death Company combat squads too. I'm certainly going to add more to the collection, but I'd like to get a game or two in to see what might be a sensible choice. I have a hunch a Whirlwind or perhaps a Terminator or Scout squad might be useful, but we'll see.