Friday, June 30, 2006

Black and Bleach

I'm starting to realize how difficult painting a black mini is. Not only that, but I've chosen a white tabard, the single hardest color for me to paint. The results of tonight's painting session were less than stellar, as you can see.

I scrubbed the basement utility sink out tonight with bleach, only to burn the (expletive) out of my lungs. Note to self: dilute bleach first. So stupid.

Time to sleep.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Is it my birthday?

YCUA, the Ypsilanti Community Utility Authority, has a habit of sending me a sewer backup on either my birthday or Christmas. Today I got my belated birthday present from them. Hooray.

The problem with cleaning up all the sewer gunk (and the lengthy "breathing it in" session) is that I never feel quite right later in the evening. Right now, I feel downright ill. I'm hoping it's psychosomatic. The first time it happened I was puking half the night.

No painting tonight. Tomorrow is warbands, so probably no painting tomorrow either.

No bids yet on the Ultramarine sergeant. Wonderful.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

BabyFirst TV is ... uh... what was I saying?

We just discovered that we get BabyFirst TV, the pure hypnotism channel for kids. If you've even seen those "Baby Einstein" or "Baby Mozart" things, then you know what I'm talking about. Now imagine an entire channel of little montages like that, interspersed with little cartoons and songs. The girls were over at Bob & Cherie's yesterday, so they haven't seen it yet, but Jay was mesmerized. I can see the danger of leaving this channel on for very long. Stef observed that the girls will probably like it too, since they enjoy the occasional foray into things for which Jay is a more appropriate age, especially when he's watching too.

I took another night off from painting. Tonight I begin again, in earnest. My goal for Mondey is to have the rest of Bill's warriors done, except heads, the Black Templar sergeant done, and the rough painting on Bill's Thane done or mostly done. It's a lot of work, but I don't have a lot of time. Family camp is mid-late August and July is nearly upon us.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Night Off

I got my tackle box and the Black Templar out at about 10:00 pm last night... and I just couldn't bring myself to start painting. I've been getting very little sleep lately, for one reason or another, and I just couldn't paint last night. I'd like to say I decided not to paint, but it was more incapable than anything. I went to bed.

No bids yet. I posted the CMON pic in the "discuss submissions" thread, and response has been fairly positive. Those that responded seem to think it deserves higher than it's current 6.9. That's gratifiying, from that crowd.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Auction #3 vs. Pre-paid Commission

Match of the evening! With auction #2 freshly on the block, I immediately dove into the work for auction #3. At the same time I also spent a little time on the Dwarf Thane that Bill already paid for. /guilty

Right away I can see that painting and photographing Mr. Black Templar will be ... umm... challenging? Impossible? I may end up looking for a CMON article, or at least some advice. Lingering problem: the model has some mold lines that I didn't notice before tonight.

The Thane was inked blue tonight, since his armor is going to be blue tinted Gromril, like the Iron Breakers. Chronic problem: the model has some mold lines that I didn't notice before tonight. Argh.

It's the Fourth of July +/- three weeks, which means the exceedingly loud and illegal fireworks shows begin nightly in Ypsilanti as soon as the sun sets. They don't call it Ypsitucky for nothing. I guess I should be happy they're not firing guns in the air in celebration of (arbitrary celebration criterion.)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Starting bid... $85 ?!??!

Yeah, I wish. The "featured auction" system on CMON is not working 100%. Instead of picking up my real minimum bid of $20, which is a reasonable minimum, it is picking out the "Buy it Now" price I set. That means that anyone seeing the featured auction will think that I set the minimum bid at $85, and implies that I have an awfully high opinion of my mini. Granted, I do have a fairly high opinion of it (it is the best work I've done so far, after all) but lots of minis better than mine finish in the mid-$50's. Starting at $85 would be eBay hubris.

Sarah, Lily and I painted again today. We went to Riders and bought a Reaper fig for Lily (Tristan Loremistress) and a Lord of the Rings blister for Sarah which had Frodo, Sam and Gollum. Pics later, if I get the photography stuff set up again.

Auction #2 scheduled

I've set the Ultramarine Sergeant to go at about 12:30 PM tomorrow. >Auction Link<. On Bill's advice, I have added a "Buy it Now" price. "Painted minis are not a 'shop around' purchase," he said. "They are impulse buys."

Here's hoping.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Photo Reality

My coworker Brian convinced me to adjust the image a little, and the result is at left. I have to remember that mere reality pales before my monitor at home. At work, all the pics looked like they had a brown film over them. Brian found some pics of similar color schemes on CMON and convinced me to color adjust for better clarity, and to add the backdrop. That's funny.... at 3:30AM the pics seem to look fine. Didn't I write about this earlier?

The CMON entry hadn't been moderated for viewing yet, so I was able to delete the old one before anyone saw it and post this new one. I altered the link in the last post to point to the new picture.

In World Cup news, Thirdworldistan is playing the Democratic Republic of Whocaresia today. I can't wait.

So tired, but so worth it.

Yeah, this is clearly the best thing I've painted. I am so excited to put this one on the auction block. I posted it on CMON, just to see what initial reaction will be.

Here's the link:

I really tried to make the banner look old and faded, which involved painting the symbol, then painting a weathering effect over it. The seals on the banner were left as bright as I could get them for contrast.... new wax on old paper.

I'll post again when the auction starts.


When I got home today, Stef and Sheena were watching "Fantastic 4". I'm guessing the comic was better. The movie was.... less than fantastic. And not to bring this old joke up, but whoever cast Jessica Alba as the invisible woman (girl?) is clearly confused about something. Joke aside, the scenes of her staggering around because using her fantastic power has left her drained were about high school drama quality. Or maybe church skit.

Hey, did I mention how much I like my painted space marine? I did? Oh.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

First Book Syndrome

I watched "Memoirs of a Geisha" last night with Stef. I'm guessing the book was better. More on the movie after a tangent.

I really like Amy Tan. I first read an excerpt of her writing in a college Lit class, and sought out a novel. I read "The Kitchen God's Wife" first, and enjyoed it greatly. I went on to read "The Hundred Secret Senses," "The Bonsetter's Daughter," and at some point in there "The Joy Luck Club." At the beginning of every new author's first book, they should be presented with two choices, and forced to check one. Only one.

O I had an idea for a story.
O I have some things I want to get off my chest.

The Joy Luck Club falls squarely into the second of those. Yes, it's fiction, but it carries so much baggage that it's almost an "I have to get this out of the way" book. The other three novels of hers I have read (and I see that she has two more! Where have I been from 2003-2005?) were so much more entertaining, simply becuase the scope was defined and adhered to. I haven't seen the movie of The Joy Luck Club, but I hear it's a quintessential (etymology, please?) chick flick. That alone has kept me from recommending Amy Tan to many friends, especially those with a counter-culture bend. "Isn't she the Joy Luck something lady?" Yes. Yes, she is.

Okay, so something about MoaG struck me as oddly familiar, and I couldn't put my finger on it. Duh. Michelle Yeoh and Ziyi Zhang. That's it, I'm going to drop $10 on a copy of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I'll bet Spielberg tried to get Chow Yun Fat for the part that Ken Watanabe played too. But, about the movie.... it wasn't really bad, and it was well acted, but it just failed to evoke any emotion from me. And I am not a difficult person in whom to evoke emotion.

For sitting through the entire rant, here is your >reward<.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sooooo close.

I am really excited about how this is turning out. The red tabard works so much better than the white one, and the damaged spots look better after judicious application of a little black ink.

I keep looking at the picture and smiling. All I need to do is some detail work, the basing (keeping that simple) and the back banner, and he'll be done. After this fellow, I need to complete the current order of dwarfs, then an Usagi Yojimbo mini for a friend at work, then comes the Black Templar sergeant. Then the Rune Priest. Then the Terminator Chaplain.

Somewhere in the middle I'll probably start my Mini Exchange mini. I don't think I can ignore them that long... they are just too cool. I should post a pic. (sigh... and excuse to use the light tent!)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Oh, yes. Much better.

This fellow is shaping up about as well as I could expect. It is very encouraging that each thing I've painted lately has seemed like the best thing I've painted so far. The chest scroll is such a marked improvement over last night's train wreck. Please enjoy my flounderings.

Mark was over tonight assembling his Mercenary Warmachine group. Those are nice models, with a very different flair than the other armies. I'm still a sucker for my Menoth. We took pics of his Dark Eldar Wych for CMON. Link is >here<. I'm still amazed at the quality of the pics in that light tent. Best. Purchase. Ever.

I'm feeling a little bit of painting guilt.... I need to finish Bill's Dwarfs (especially the ones he has already paid me for) and I really want to get started on the great minis that Naukhel sent me for Mini Exchange 8. Speaking of which, blackfly has not yet responded to my PM's about whether or not he got what I sent. I don't know if he's ignoring me (maybe he didn't like them) or maybe he just hasn't had time to get on and respond. Either way it leaves me uncertain.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

How not to freehand "ULTRA"

I've decided to post a number of WIP pics for this fellow. The highlights on the blue are working out alright. (Are they? Any CMON'ers who wander in here, can you even see them?) I have no excuses for the poor execution of the word "ULTRA" across the front of the mini. While inscribing "ULTRA" across ones chest may seen odd (read: stupid) it is a fairly common sight with this chapter, and since I plan on selling this one I might as well stick to canon. Rest assured, the little banner was back to being solid color by the time I put the paints away. I'll try again with the micron pens tomorrow.

I think of Ultramarines as the more "in the trenches" basic soldier than some of the other chapters, so this fellow is getting battle damage. The scratch marks above the eyes worked out well, if I do say so myself. I am resolved to merely simulate damage with paint, but have been told by a couple people to just gouge up the mini and paint the gouges. I just can't bring myself to do that, so all depth in the gouges is purely illusion.

I found out today that my younger brother carves things from wood. I would love to try and paint something he carved, but the amount of work that goes into the carving makes the painting high pressure.

Side note... this brother, John, had gastric bypass surgery 18 months ago or so. I almost didn't recognize him today at my parents' house. I don't see him that much, since he lives in the Soo, but the change is remarkable. I am apparently now the fat one in the family.

Two things...okay, maybe three.

The auction of the chaplain didn't go as high as I would have liked, but I really can't complain. People only pay for what they can see, and the pics weren't top notch. Granted, the painting wasn't top notch either, but enough people at work told me that the photos don't do the mini justice that I've taken steps to improve the photography.

Behold, at upper left, a picture of my work in progress (WIP) Ultramarine sergeant. It was photographed in my new light tent, a 12" cubic enclosure that distributes light wonderfully inside. As you can see, it can facilitate a very distinct photo of a very small item. One main challenge now is to learn to use the Ott light properly. The reds in the front part of the eye lens looked might lighter under the Ott light, so I must remember to look at the mini under different lighting conditions to ensure that I don't spend an hour blending reds on eye lenses (cough*tonight*cough) only to find that the blending is invisible without the tiny simulated sun of the Ott light.

Just for a moment, I would like to blather on about "employee contribution" to health care. One of my relations was going on about how unrealistic it is in today's world for teachers in some-district-or-other to not have to pay for at least part of their own health insurance, that to have their employer pay for all of it was some sort of anachronism that shows a disconnect from reality.

I don't subscribe to his point of view.

You cost your employer x dollars. That's how you are seen in the whole accounting scheme: a cost of x dollars, representing your total compensation. Whether 90% of x is paid to you in cash and 10% of x is paid to a health care provider on your behalf or 100% of x is paid directly to you does not change the value of x. My employer does not require me to write checks to Blue Cross for my health insurance. If tomorrow they told me that I would be responsible for $100 a month of my health care costs, the term for that is pay cut. A decrease in total compensation. X has changed at that point. If health care costs increase, that is the equivalent of a pay increase. Again, x has changed. Why is total compensation so hard to grasp?

One more thing... I've heard people claim that because some people don't see the actual costs of their health care, they are more likely to go to the doctor frivolously, wasting the health provider's money. Again, not a position I support. As an analogy, are you more likely to eat the sandwich that someone brings to your house and puts in your fridge or the sandwich that you bought at the store? I would assert that the money paid for the second sandwich leads to a desire to get one's money's worth out of it, whereas the seemingly free sandwich may be taken for granted. I take some of my health care benefits for granted. That is truth. If I had chosen my own health care policy and had written a check for each and every benefit I would be darn sure that I was getting my money's worth out of that policy. There is a layer of abstraction between me and the cost of the benefits since everyone in our local receives (and pays) the same. Perhaps what the above claimants actually want to see is a higher deductible for services, just to add a little pain to the process. Or maybe they just don't like things that seem free, but really aren't. I suppose there are people who get upset that pro wrestling is scripted too.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Far from worthwhile

The auction is up to $5.50, just slightly over half the retail price of the unpainted mini. I suppose I should gratified that my paintjob has robbed the mini of less than half of its value.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Purchases, purchases

As I said before, Warmachine has been the recent addition to the gaming with the work crew. Brian and Jamie came over Friday night, and Brian and I played a great game of his Khador vs. my Menoth. I'm guessing he had fun too, because Saturday he went to Riders and bought the Cygnar starter box, the Hordes rulebook and a Skorne starter box for Hordes. Hordes is the sister game of Warmachine, and the rules are almost identical. You can actually fight a Hordes army against a Warmachine army with no special rule translation. We are clearly a bunch of Privateer Press fans now.

Am I a victim of eBay hubris? My Space Marine Chaplain (no picture this time... sorry!) is only going for $3.26 currently. I really thought this would be a seller, given the model and the chapter it represents. As things sit, I have actually lowered the value of the mini by $6.74 by painting it.

I have wanted a light tent for a while, and I realized that I had $30 in my PayPal account, refunded by the place where we were going to have Lily and Jay's party. In a fit of poor judgement, I purchased one on eBay. Now I have a 12" cube light tent on the way to use in mini photography, which hopefully will improve the next four auctions.

Friday, June 09, 2006

How to Ruin Primer

Remember when I mentioned the super glue accelerant last night? Well, being the intelligent guy I am I thought, "I should rinse these off before priming them, since I don't know what effect the accelerant will have on the primer." So, I ran them under the faucet for a few seconds, being careful not to get the basing wet (since they are based mostly in cork, and I was afraid something would happen to the cork if it got wet.)

Okay, for the record, priming wet minis is a bad idea. It's not that they were dripping wet, just a drop or two in some areas. Each drop formed a little wall that paint sits on, trapping the water and preventing the mini from being properly primed in that spot. There are also a couple rough spots that may have been tiny droplets that I couldn't see. I think I can recover from this be hitting those areas with brush-on primer, so it's not a disaster.

Glitter Carnage, et al.

Stef has a migraine this morning, so I'm home while she has an Imitrex moment. Sarah suddenly decided that she needs to make Lily a birthday card (since Lily was five on Sunday I can certainly understand the pressing need. Lily marks 10% off your grade for each day late, I hear.) To make said card, she absolutely needed glitter. I think with Stef down this was her golden moment. She knew exactly where the glitter was, and she has a semi-plausible reason to use it. All that was left is to spring the plan on Dad.

Once Lily saw Sarah using glitter, she had to use it too. In a perfect world for girls ages five to seven, I believe they would choose to eat glitter, sleep in glitter, and construct families from glitter. And flowers. Flowers made from glitter.

Here's the mistake part: I left them unattended for a few minutes. The scene of carnage when I returned was epic. They had somehow used about five cubic inches of glitter both on their little "projects" and in just haphazard piles on the table. Think about it. It's just a guess, but a realistic one. Five cubic inches. I believe I read somewhere that if you were to stack the glitter particles end to end, that would be enough glitter to stretch from Green Bay to St. Louis.

Oh, and Jay is two years old today. We're not making a big deal out of it since his party is tomorrow. No need to confuse the little guy.

Warmachine Takes Root

Bill, Brian and I went to Rider's Hobby yesterday to buy Bill a "Butcher" for his ogre army. The official Games Workshop butcher was... get this.... $35 for a single metal model. It may be big (by mini standards... 3" tall maybe) but $35?!??! He couldn't bring himself to buy it. He did, however, bring himself to buy the Warmachine "Cryx" starter box for the same price. Brian, never one to pass up doing what everyone else is doing, picked up the Khador box. We figured we could eventually strong-arm Paul into Cygnar at some point, but no hurry there. Paul bought in when we started playing warhammer, and he just never quite took to painting. I think of all his minis, two horses have painted saddles. Everything else is either plain metal or primed white.

Anyway, back to Warmachine. The $35 box is enough to actually play the game. This is a far cry from warhammer, where a $35 box will get you most of a unit, four or five of which can be arranged into a small game. Warmachine is smaller in scale, so a box of four, large metal models is enough to start playing. I'm sure we'll expand if the initial experiences are good. So then I found myself compelled to assemble my Menoth starter force tonight, just in case we can play tomorrow. My fingers still have that horrid smell from the super glue accelerant on them.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Not the Best of Mornings

Here's one I didn't expect: I crave the approval of people I have never met. It's true. Of 51 people who decided to indicate what they thought of this mini, the majority said "meh... 6." When it was at 6.8 I was quite pleased, but 6.1 is downright depressing. And now that it has 51 votes, it won't show up in the randomization. 6.1 is its new home.

In addition to that, the ebay price remains $1.00. There's a lot of time left in the auction, so I'm not too freaked out about that yet. See you in 8 days about that one.

Let us, for just a moment, do a comparison. Both of these are mine. By now, I'm sure you are sick and tired of seeing the chaplain. Trust me... this is the last time.

Who would rate the top mini higher than the bottom?!?

Okay, time to stop whining. I have four more minis that I am commited to painting for ebay. Maybe I'll just skip posting them on CMON until after the ebay sale. I'm starting to get on my own nerves with all the whining.

In other news, I dragged myself in to work in the nick of time for a meeting, only to have nonbody else show up. Nice job, coworkers. This place can be such a joke.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

...and the auction begins.

Project: Send the Howell's to Family Camp is underway. I posted the Chaplain on ebay tonight, and got a starting bid within the first half-hour. Granted, the starting bid was only $1, but it's a start. Now, if I can get it to go up by $1 per hour for ten days, everything will be set for camp.

I really like the way the gem on his chest turned out. The light sourcing on the eyes is effective, too. I was afraid it would be either invisible or way too bright.

Also on the plus side, I found out how to set my camera for bulb-condition white balance. I'm getting better at the photo game, but there's still an indistinct quality to my pics that I can't explain. When Mark brings over his mother's new camera I'll be able to find out if it's just my camera, which is 5 years old now.

So go bid on ebay auction 8824046297 !! Now! (I know this blog is read by hundred of 40k players. I just know it.)

...and just so that nobody forgets, these things are really small.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

3:00 AM is not "brain time"

I finished the Chaplain last night after getting a few tips on CMON. I think the final product looks good... better than anything I've painted so far, I'd say. The problem is, yet again, the photograph. I think I proved yesterday that I can take a decent picture with the lighting I have now (two clip lights with daylight incandescent bulbs and my Ott light) but what I took last night is rubbish. Of course at 3:00 AM when you're trying to post something on eBay, these sorts of things escape your attention. What looks so poor today looked pretty good then. No, I was not drunk.

Thankfully my fatigue riddled mind made the auction delayed (I didn't want it to end in the middle of the night) so I was able to get in this morning and set it back another day. I had also posted the mini on CMON last night, and that entry got deleted this morning. I will go home, reshoot the photos, and repost.

My dad used to say, "Nothing good happens after midnight." I don't really believe that's the case, but I will agree that things don't get any smarter after midnight.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Happy 5th Lily!

Yesterday was my daughter Lillian's 5th birthday! After church, Stef's mom came over and took Lily out to lunch, then we painted some plaster sculptures, went to small group, and came home. I let the girls sleep on the couch last night (always a big hit) while they watched "Howl's Moving Castle." About 20 minutes into the movie, Lily looked up and asked, "Daddy, do you think I should wear a birthday crown today?" She was disappointed when I told her that there was only a couple hours of "today" left, and that we would get her a crown for her birthday party next week. She seemed mollified.

I've been staying up way too late painting again. Along with the endless slog of dwarfs, I've chosen five minis to paint for immediate eBay sale. The first WIP is a Space Marine Blood Angels Chaplain with jump pack. It's a mouthful, but it's a fairly popular version of a Space Marine army, and I hope the character looks good enough that someone will want it.

I made the skull-helmet black, which is atypical, with some object source lighting on the green eyes. I'm still not sure what to do with the arm holding the gun. It's just sort of... lost down there, especially with the red panel I gave the gun. The base turned out kind of cool, but it balances the figure a little to one side, so I added a washer under the base to keep it from tipping over.