Monday, July 30, 2007

Notes from Jeremie Bonamant Teboul Seminar

Getting the chance to listen to Jeremie talk for 2+ hours about his amazing painting was a privilege, and was the highlight of Games Day for me (yes, even above getting honorable mention. Did I mention I got honorable mention? I'm pretty sure I did.) What follows are the notes I took during the seminar. Some of it is well known technique, but when he mentioned it I decided to write it down for re-emphasis. During the seminar, Jeremie repeatedly stressed that his methods were not "universal truths" for painting, but were only his personal techniques.
  • After white primer coat, apply 4-5 base coats for color consistency. Paint should be about 6-7:1 diluted.
  • Applying paint to change color of the paint underneath is a glaze; to change lighting is a wash.
  • Alternate brush stroke direction between coats to minimize brush marks.
  • Paint transitions in color by applying less pressure with the brush during the stroke. (Practice for consistency)
  • The same brush can be used for the entire model, with different pressure used to create different line thicknesses. He typically uses a 1 or 0 brush, Rafael or W&N Series 7.
  • Paint can be pushed as well as pulled; use decreasing pressure as you move away from the paint source.
  • Remember: complex processes can always be broken down in to a series of small, simple processes. Don't be intimidated.
  • When sculpting, use aluminum foil as filler over your armature. It's cheaper than putty.
  • For a sculpting tool, use a "color shaper" (basically a brush with a rubber tip.)
  • Take a picture of a live model in the same pose you want to sculpt, for reference and correct anatomy.
  • woods chips, cut and connected with milliput, make great basing.
  • for dirt on basing, create a layer of milliput, then press a textured object into the milliput and let harden. (alternative to flocking.)
  • For moss, glue the protective foam from blister packs to model, then rip away. A small amount of foam will remain stuck to the glue.
  • For water effects, use a 2-part epoxy. The label of the product will have instructions on how to color.
  • For glossy objects, mix gloss varnish right into the paint. It adds depth and volume.
  • Owl pellets are a good source for small bones for basing (yuck!?!?!!?!?)
  • Style item: repeat color between the base and the model, for overall theming.
  • For title plaques, print a negative on transparency and then paint the backside with gold paint.
  • Do not just highlight edges. For true zenithal lighting, always highlight surfaces perpendicular to the light source. Surfaces parallel to the light source should receive no blending at all.
  • Zenithal lighting splits planes of light and shadow.
  • Focus more highlighting on the parts of the model that you are attempting to accentuate.
  • For edge lining, highlighting a portion of the edge more than the rest works more dramatically.
  • since metallics reflect things around them, highlights should appear all around them.
  • effective metal can be produced with simply "boltgun" and selectively applied black washes
  • Do not use metallics in shadowed areas. The metal flakes will reflect light and ruin the shadow effect.
  • For scratches, prime white, dab with masking fluid, spray white again, wash brown, then remove masking fluid with cloth. (I think I left out a step in my notes... maybe putting the scratch color on before the masking fluid?)
  • For dust, dab model with foam from blister pack (just a tiny amount of paint, like dry brushing)
  • On gems, do not make a strong line on the bottom of the gem. Small effects help, like tiny white specks on the top.
  • Contrast warm to cold - put some yellow in the highlights and blue/purple in the shadows
And then some things I didn't write down at the time, but can remember.\
  • To "box in" water effects, use masking tape. Once the water effect (epoxy) has cured, the masking tape pulls away easily.
  • Freehand work is seldom precise enough to start. Draw the initial lines, then edge them with background color to make them thin and sharp.
  • Seed pods from tree (silver birch?) make great basing leaves.
I was talking to Marc at the GW store about all this, and mentioned how inspired I was. He said, "Yeah, I was too the first time." Apparently his inability to apply techniques he had witnessed from better painters was frustrating for him. I will not be discouraged!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Honorable Mention!

I didn't just make first cut, but honorable mention! A friend witnessed the judging, and reported that both the winner of the bronze and my model were on the "winners" shelf turned backwards for some time before mine was placed back on the "first cut" shelf, so I'm assuming that means I was even considered for the bronze! I stood back and watched the GW staff photograph my giant along with the winners, which presumably mean that he may be shown on the website, or even in White Dwarf! I will dutifully report here (and presumably brag on the CMON and UE forums.)

Man, I have got to photograph this thing....

The best part, besides seeing all the amazing painted models, was Jeremie Bonamant
's amazing painting seminar. I am inspired.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Well, I'm Off

Next stop: Chicago

The giant is complete... I'm hoping I can resist fiddling with him for the next couple hours. He turned out good, but once assembled and based the overall visual impact wasn't greater than the sum of the parts. I was a little disappointed by that.

Well, I've said it from day 1: may goal is to make first cut!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

What a Difference Three Days Makes

72 little hours. No, I won't sing (although it is a great song.)

On my doctors "advice" I have discontinued the use of Sudafed / sinus pills (either phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine), have reduced my caffeine intake and have tried to limit use of my Albuterol inhaler. The result? My heart rate is down from 100+ to slightly fewer than 80 beats per minute in only the three days since the physical.

EDIT: I take that back. After eating lunch (a Wendy's large chili, about 12 oz.) my heart rate went back up to slightly less than 100. Two hours later it's at about 90. I'm going to have to take more data points.

EDIT 2: Now four hours later, it's down to about 80 again.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Economical and Convenient

The trip to Games Day (Rosemont, IL) is 265 miles one way.
530 round trip / 20 mpg = 26.5 gallons of gas
26.5 gallons of gas * $2.85/gal = about $75
If I drove, I would probably have needed to spend the night.

I paid $32 for the round trip bus ticket.

The bus leaves from the GW store about 5 minutes from my house. One of the employees has decided to leave the store open from 8pm when they would normally close until 3am when the bus is scheduled to arrive, so I may actually get in a Nemesis Crown game before the campaign ends.

Last night I finished the "boss rat" completely. That leaves only the engineer to paint (he's basecoated), a mold line to remove/repaint on the giant, and basing work. This is rapidly coming together!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Home Stretch

Tonight I will accomplish the majority of the remaining work on the giant, leaving me two night for touch up and error correction. I've been telling people that I've been working on him for six weeks, which turns out to be untrue. I purchased the giant on 6/30, the same Saturday the family and I saw Ratatouille. That means that from initial purchase until entry into competition at Games Day will be exactly four weeks. Last time I purchased a mini for competition I had four days to work and I won my category. Here's hoping I have some numerology thing going on! Okay, I like to aim big but I know my actual chances are about nil. The goal has always been to make first cut, and I will dutifully report here whether I made first cut when I get home from the event. The chance to actually see some world class minis and the chance to learn from Jeremie Bonamant Teboul are what I am most gaining from this.

Alright then. Off to paint!

Starving and Terrified

With only four nights of potential work left on the Golden Demon entry, I am making the transition from merely nervous to downright terrified. I got a good portion of the "boss" rat done last night, and did some basecoating on the engineer, so at least they're started. The only remaining painting on the giant are another wash on some of the mechanical components, some touch ups on the club/ax and the glosscoating of some parts, like the brain and the tongue.

I had a physical yesterday, and I need to lose 20 lbs. To start. I plan on exercising pure willpower to start a very low calorie, low portion, low enjoyment diet. That way I can plunge down to my target weight, then rocket back up to my current weight using the power of Dairy Queen and Checkers. I've tried to do things like limit portion size in the past, and the results have been fairly unimpressive, but I gotta tell ya... something about having your doctor telling you to lose 20 lbs. is a lot more compelling than just wanting to do it for arbitrary health reasons, to me anyway. Maybe I just trust authority figures. Oh, it turns out that I also have to cut down on caffeine. Limit caffeinne?!? I need that to remain conscious! I also need to have another echocardiogram stress test to see if my borderline left ventricular hypertrophy isn't borderline anymore. Hooray for medicine!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

If You're Gonna Be An Idiot.... might as well be one for a stupid reason.

I'm sure by now you've read about the couple who neglected their two children because they were so obsessed with playing online video games. When I first read the AP story, which indicated that the couple was mainly playing a "Dungeons and Dragons" game, I thought surely they must mean World of Warcraft. Sure there's "Dungeons and Dragons Online" (DDO) but who could neglect their children over DDO?!? A couple of us at work tried out DDO, and just couldn't muster much interest in it after a couple days, despite the fact that it was created by Turbine Games (the same company that made Asheron's Call, which consumed years of our gaming lives.) Neglecting your kids over DDO would be like starving to death because you can't tear yourself away from C-SPAN. Eventually I found this story that confirms that it was in fact DDO that the couple were playing. Yikes.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Bigger They Are....

EMU's President was fired yesterday, presumably over the Laura Dickinson murder. The Detroit Free Press has the story. Was it a cover up or just gross mishandling? I don't really know, but the buck has to stop somewhere.

In better news, the giant got a great deal of work over the weekend. The fleshtone is coming along nicely, and the face is starting to come together. There is a wrap of scaly skin on his right forearm that people typically paint green. I chose to paint it red to represent the skin of a defeated Carnosaur, a dinosaur looking thing from the traditional Skaven enemy, the Lizardmen. With only twelve potential days to go, I'm getting more and more worried that I will be able to finish him in time. I still have the two Skaven that sit on his back to paint!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

GD Entry WIP 2

Conversion work is almost done. I ended up making a little crow's nest of balsa for the old warlock engineer, and have finished all the machinery on the back. The only think left now are the shields that go on the left forearm and the chains and hooks that connect all the machinery to the giant. I have the first hook assembled (jewelry chain and thin brass rod) and will be attaching it hopefully today. I don't know if I'm going to bother with hooks and chains on the lower part... it's busy enough down there already. I also repositioned the giant on the base (with Mark's advice) so that he's in mid-stride. It levels out the platforms that the Skaven ride on and makes the piece more dynamic overall.

I seriously need to take some photos, and it's almost time to start painting. Including today, I have 17 days to complete this fellow. Time is short.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Girlfriend and Girlfriend

A tale of two ... um... songs. One has anime and the other has the F-bomb.

My girls like the Avril Lavigne song "Girlfriend." They heard it on the pop station Stef and the kids listen to in the car sometimes, and even if Stef tunes away when it comes on they are already aware of it and get all excited when a promo for it comes on or the DJ says it's coming up. Ordinarily, I think it's great when my kids hear a song they like (Sarah has become attached to the song "New York City" by "They Might Be Giants" lately) but I'm none too pleased about "Girlfriend," since the song drops the F-bomb about a third of the way through. I don't know doodely-squat about Ms. Lavigne except that she appears to have been 16 for about the past ten years, and drops the F-bomb in a song my 8- and 6-year old like. Yay.

Link: ... T-53 seconds to cussin'.

When Lily first told me that she likes the song I told her that I liked it too, because I thought she meant the song from Guitar Hero 2. One of my favorite tracks is "Girlfriend, as made famous by Matthew Sweet" ("as made famous by" is their code for "it's not really him") and the girls have seen me play it, and have played it themselves. After watching the above-linked Avril Lavigne video, I decided to search for the Matthew Sweet version.

And here it is: ... go watch. I'll wait here.
EDIT: this one works ...

Not only did I find it, but I quickly realized that I had heard of this video before. Back in 1991, when Matthew Sweet's version was released, anime was fairly rare in the U.S. The fact that a great deal of the video was footage from the anime file Space Adventure Cobra was a real oddity at the time. Pretty much everyone who saw the video told me about it, but I never once got to see it. Until now. And I didn't miss much, did I? First off, how uncomfortable do you have to look before the director of your music video just says, "You know what? Let's just use the animated parts and leave you out, okay?" It's not like these were the early days of music video or something... "Nevermind" came out that same year.... they should have known better.

Anyway, what's the point? I don't know. It's just a contrast for me to point out.

GD Entry WIP 1

I've heard people on forums advise against talking too much about one's Golden Demon work in progress to avoid having anyone steal your idea. It seems kinda paranoid to me. Maybe if I make the finalists this year I'll think about being super secret next year.

I bought the model on July 1, one of the new giants that I'm converting for the Skaven. I'm pretty much done with basic assembly and gap filling. I've created some little balsa scaffolding for the engineer to perch upon as he peers around the giant's left shoulder. I still need to come up with a convincing way to connect all the Skaven mechanisms to the giant's back. The current favored idea is a couple of vertical posts attached to the giant's skin with metal brackets, then having everything else hanging from those main posts.

In addition to the engineer, I'm trying to find a place to put an engineer hero on the model. He's pretty cool, holding a warplock pistol in one hand and pointing with the other. He's an old model, too, which appeals to me for some reason on the new giant. I'm debating whether to put him on the giant somewhere, perhaps on the right hand side slightly higher than the other engineer, or on the base slightly behind the giant, as if he pointed and the giant went. I'm leaning toward the latter.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Two people now have told me that the Transformers movie is great. I'm still unconvinced... I mean come on, it's Transformers. Robots that turn into cars and airplanes and tape decks and handguns and what-not. Maybe there's an implicit buy-in for people who loved them as children. I missed the Transformers age by a couple years so they hold no appeal for me. As a long-time anime fan I even have some affection for robots that turn into other things, although that typically means something useful (even if dubiously so) in anime. I just have no interest in the Transformers brand, its intellectual property, and so I have been unable to muster interest in the film. Now, make an Aura Battler Dunbine movie, and I'll be trying to convince the Transformers crowd that it has potential. Okay, maybe not.

I've been preparing my model for the Chicago Golden Demon painting competition. Creating a Demon entry is sort of like buying a lottery ticket for me... I know I don't have a great chance of winning, but I just can't resist fantasizing about that lifting that sword. I've set my goal this year to make first cut in the judging, but deep down there's that little spark of hope. At the very least, I'll get to see the winners, something I have been looking forward to greatly. If I were going to a European Games Day I'm sure the anticipation would be a bit different. Their competition models are unbelievable, so I'd have zero hope of winning and be all giddy about seeing the entrants.

Monday, July 02, 2007

That's It.... I'm Old

I just went out on my front lawn to yell at some kids across the street who were breaking up my elderly neighbors' decorative white rocks. The kids were throwing the rocks at the street to shatter them, spraying rock chips all over the place.

I yelled at some kids. Next stop: riding my Rascal(tm) out there to yell at some kids.

The Sweet Spot

Stef and I took the kids to see Ratatouille this weekend. Now before I talk about the movie I have a confession to make. I'm a Brad Bird fanboy. His first movie, The Iron Giant, was wonderful, but after it had a less than stellar box office performance I suspected his career in animation was over. I was thrilled when Pixar put him in charge of The Incredibles, which seemed to pay off since the film was commercially successful. I was again thrilled to see that Brad Bird was writing and directing Ratatouille. Sure, I would have wanted to see it irregardless, as I have loved every Pixar movie I've seen (disclaimer: I haven't seen Cars yet), but the fact that they brought Brad Bird back made me actually excited to see it. Okay, enough fanboy action.

The movie itself is great. It has wonderfully exaggerated character design, great voice acting, a compelling plot and a lovely ending. Where it really shines though is in the portrayal of mental state, from the initial visualizations of flavor, to the state of being lost in doing what you love, to being taken back to your childhood by a particular experience. It is also very funny; I found myself laughing out loud far more often than I do in a typical movie.

Side note: I react more to movies and TV since having kids than I ever did before. When I watch things with them I want to share the experience of finding something funny or tragic. I want them to share how they are feeling too, and I don't think sitting stone-faced through a movie really encourages that. I want them to see that I enjoy things and that it's okay for them to enjoy things too. Don't look for too much meaning there.

Okay, back to Ratatouille. Another of it's strong points was the physical comedy. We are accustomed to seeing animated characters in unlikely physical situations and not thinking a thing of it, so I was very impressed at how the physical comedy seemed a little crazy yet still realistic. A good example is Linguini (human main character) wrestling his bicycle in through the front door of his apartment. He has a terrible time of it, but it seems plausible. It could have been done all wrong, like the typical "fighting with the chaise lounge" scene so common in cartoons. Instead, it is beautifully animated with just the right balance of realism to invoke my own memories of wrestling bikes through unlikely places, making the scene all the funnier.

I was somewhat sad when I learned that Disney's last 2D animated film would be "Home on the Range." Not that Home on the Range was bad, but I like 2D animation, and felt that something would be lost in 3D. Pixar has always managed to capture the character of 2D animation, and Ratatouille (or Rapatooey or Rapatooney as my kids would call it) has really shown Pixar as the successor to the animation crown, if I'm not being too pretentious. Pixar movies aren't great for their technical accomplishment; they are just plain great, and Ratatouille demonstrates just how great they can be.

EDIT: Oh, yeah... the title. Something about this film just hit the sweet spot with me, but I can't really say why. I can identify so many things that I liked about it, yet I am unable to identify what makes it great.... more than just the sum of a number of enjoyable elements. I'll suppose I'll have to be content with calling it great with no plausible rationale.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Grade School Humor

The Chinese take-out place around the corner from me has a dish called "Pu Pu Platter" shown on the light-up color picture menu above the cash register.