Thursday, October 29, 2009

Improve Your Painting for $2

This may seem amazingly obvious, but as a beginning painter I didn't quite grasp it.

You can't paint what you can't see.

To paint with precision, you must be able to see what you are painting and be able to see your brushwork in enough detail to be able to figure out what you want to do and then do it.  I used overhead incandescent lighting for my first seventy five models or so (go Skaven!) but was never able to get them above basic tabletop quality.  "Good from afar, but far from good."

So how does $2 help?  You go to the dollar store and buy yourself a compact fluorescent bulb and a pair of +3.5 reading glasses.  A CF bulb in a goose neck lamp (or ever better, two CF bulbs in two goose neck lamps!) will  give enough light close to the mini to actually see the thing, and CF bulbs have a much better lighting spectrum then incandescent bulbs without getting nearly as hot.  Trying to use incandescent "daylight" bulbs in close quarters can get to be uncomfortably warm.  Use of specialized lights like an Ott light give good results, but the advent of the CF bulb has put them in the "diminishing returns for the price" category.  When painting small details or freehand try the +3.5 reading glasses.  You'll have to experiment with how far to hold the mini from your face, but the amount of magnification this provides is quite adequate for detail work.  Also, the fact that you are looking through two lenses maintain binocular vision, something that has prevented me from effectively using single magnifying glasses in the past.  I just couldn't judge where the brush was in relation to the mini.  All I was getting were up-close-and-personal mistakes!

I've been using bright lights for a while, and only recently got the reading glasses (which I wear right over my regular glasses when painting.)  I did some touch ups on Vayl's body armor using the glasses, and was surprised of the detail I had missed previously.  Not only was I able to see what I had missed along with the less than tidy areas, but I was able to see areas where the color consistency were sorely lacking.  Now I should probably go over all that fiddly armor and highlight the wolf grey with skull white.  That should improve the pop quite a bit.

So try it!  It's only $2 ya cheapskate!

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Productive Night

Jimmy came over last night for our weekly hobby session, and for some reason we were both quite productive.  I mostly finished Vayl, painted that little Cryx cutie in the middle from primer and put the starting basecoats on a mini that I'm painting for Monster Zero of the UnderEmpire.  One of the things I did with Vayl was paint up her little orb-weapon thingy in shades of blue to white, then put a few thin coats of Vallejo Model Color Metal Medium over it.  VMCMM is basically just metal flakes and acrylic medium, so it addes a pearlescent shimmer to things.  I last used it on the Howling Banshees power sword from the diorama I did for competition last year (and my first 8 on coolmini or not!)  also put a little on her headpiece, since I'm not even really sure what it's supposed to be, so why not be shiny too!  My digital camera also appears to have had a conniption over the colors in this picture, since it decided that everything should be a little more blue.

The photo above reminded me of mentioning the table refinishing too.  The pic below is from a couple years ago, and you can see the darker finish of the table.  For some reason the finish was getting more and more sensitive to temperature and moisture, leaving rings when anything came in contact with it that was hot, cold or wet.  Any papers left on the table with the slightest bit of moisture would stick to the point of needing to be peeled off and scraped.  Stef decided enough was enough so she dragged the table out onto the deck and started sanding the finish off, which basically carmelized the varnigh onto the sandpaper.  In the end it took a great deal of turpentine, but we stripped off the gummy old finish and put a few coats of clear, semi-gloss polyurethane.  The results were pleasing.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Vayl, WIP 2

She's gotten more color, and it's a fairly limited palette.  The only paints I used tonight were Wolf Grey and Night Blue (both Vallejo Game Colors.)  There are so many fiddly armor bits on the front that what started out as a careful detailing looked like a drybrush by the time I was done.  I'll have a lot of clean up work to do there.  The feathers got a base of Wolf Grey, then a wash of Asurman Blue, then a drybrush of Wolf Grey again.  I'll probably do a selective drybrush highlight with 50/50 skull white/wolf grey later.

Overall, an interesting model.  I'm not sure I'm doing it justice.  It still feels experimental at this point.

On a home note, my eldest daughter climbed into bed with me and Stef sometime in the night.  As I went to wake her up for school, she stretched luxuriously and knocked a glass of water I had next to the bed right down into my shoes.  Great.  I poured the shoes out and left them by the furnace duct to hopefully dry.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Radio Quote of the Day

From the Michigan Radio pledge drive this morning...
"Most of our funding comes from viewers like you.... 40%!"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

eBay, We Need To Talk

...and you may want to sit down.

I'm really sick of eBay.  I'm sick of them charging me >10% of item price in fees.  I'm tired of them raising prices and then telling me that it's a fee decrease (what is commonly referred to as eBay Math) and I am tired of their heavy handed way of dealing with any issue I have as a seller.  I'm done with eBay.  Period.  I know others are too.

As a result, I have a pressing question for the wargaming community...

Do you look anywhere other than eBay for auctions?

I can search and find various other auction sites with various levels of wargaming product, but I really want to know where you folks actually shop.  I should mention that what I've been selling on eBay are minis painted to high quality, but I'm interested in any info you can provide whether is pertains to that or not.

Let me know.  Thanks!
...and, um, eBay?  Your stuff is out on the curb.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Vayl ... why blue skin again?

I started working on Hordes Warlock "Vayl, Disciple of Everblight" recently.  For no reason I can fathom I just started painting her skin blue.  I put a little work in on face and torso, but the hands are still atrocious.

I dunno.... does the blue work?  Will she look redonkulous next to a Carnivean?

Also, I have the framework done for a plain, blue box, and the aspect ratios look correct.  Maybe getting ready to paint a box blue carried over into other minis.

Friday, October 16, 2009

You Had Me At "Kill-Kill"

Oh, my wonderful rats.  Skaven is the first army I picked when I started this whole crazy thing back in aught-four.  And now (sniff) I can't say I've ever been happier.  Goodbye clanrats that look like monkeys.  Goodbye struggling to rank up models with huge tails.  Hello to a plastic Screaming Bell with a Rat Ogre ringer

What I really want to know is will there be a spearhead?  Other armies have gotten one lately, and I'd love to get all these new models (and the book) in one big box.  Even without a spearhead we really need a new battalion box, since the old one has the old clanrats in it. 

Games Workshop has been right on target lately.  Between the Space Wolves (which even I, an admitted Space Wolf scoffer, think are cool) to those amazing Space Hulk models, to a host of ForgeWorld type models done in plastic, it just seems that everything they are doing is not just good but, in the vernacular, real good

Five Days with Evony

So the five days of Evony have concluded for this week's Friday Challenge. All in all the game is somewhat fun, but those ads. Sheesh.  And in case you aren't familiar with the game, you get 7 days of protection from attack.  The alliances that declare war on you can't touch you until your eigth day.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Play Now, My Lord!

I know... I can't believe it either.  I'm playing Evony.  A bunch of my coworkers started playing it, and I'm in too now.  It's a "fire and forget" strategy game where things happen whether you are online to micromanage or not.  That makes a little tweaking every few hours enough to play.

You have probably seen the ads for Evony, with this example being the most tame of them.  I loved what Popcap did on this parody ad for Plants vs. Zombies (which is the best game I've played this year, easily.)

So here's the deal: come play Evony with us.  Join up on server 87, teleport to "Bohemia" (you'll start with a city teleporter) and join the alliance "UDIE".  It's fun and a bit addictive.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Mystery No Longer!

Thanks to IbnIblis for identifying the mystery elf as Ral Partha mini "Elf Blade Maiden Mistress."

And now, I shall paint her!

Biscuity Endeavors

I have been on a quest to make decent biscuits for a while now. Not perfect ones, just decent ones. Until this weekend the best I could do was sort of Bisquicky dry lumpy things. I tried drop biscuits, rolled biscuits, multiple thin layers (hey it works for paint) and nothing ever came out the way I had envisioned.

Then along came Alton Brown.

On Thursday his show "Good Eats" was all about biscuits. By Saturday morning I was making biscuits that were decent. By Sunday night they were exactly what I had envisioned. The secret is all in the wheat. I kid you not.  If you don't have time to watch the video of the entire biscuit episode from the link above, just do this:
  • 2 C winter wheat flour (or 1.5 C all purpose and .5 C cake flour)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 C shortening
  • 1 C buttermilk
Mix dry ingredients.  Cut in shortening until about pea sized lumps remain.  Mix in buttermilk until you have a sticky dough ball.  Dump ball onto floured surface and press out with hands until it's about an inch thick.  Cut 2" biscuits and bake in a 475-500 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Ultimate Showdown

Tonight's concerts in Southeast Michigan:

Jonathan Coulton in Ann Arbor
They Might Be Giants in Detroit

What's a nerd to do?

Oh, and I may have just found my favorite tshirt ever.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Don't Even Ask

Because, seriously, what more could possibly be said?

Friday, October 02, 2009

Nurgle Monstrosity - Completed!

Last night Jimmy came over and retrieved his completed Nurgle Dreadnought. The thing is almost as big as a Land Raider. I gave it a decent paint job, but as I was doing it just as a favor I didn't put more than about 20 hours into it. And there is a lot of model there to paint. Since this is a gaming piece there's plenty of gloss varnish on the sticky bits. I don't like the way gloss varnish photographs but I do like the look of it on the table.

For complete pictures, check out my project blog: The Nurgle Monstrosity

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Space Hulk meets Nurgle

Okay, not exactly. We've been sick at my house, first my wife and then me. The kids seem unscathed so far, but the taint of Papa Nurgle has definitely been upon us. I don't know if it was H1N1 or not, but we had all the symptoms and were both down hard for days.

At the point where I was finally able to stay up past the kids' bedtime, my wife and I played our first game of Space Hulk. Despite my previous rage against limited edition games, I broke down and bought one rather than risk never being able to get one except at greatly inflated eBay cost. If GW releases this game in an unlimited edition format you can bet that they will never be able to pull the "limited edition" stunt again. That trick works exactly once.

Neither Stef nor I had ever played SH before, but the rules were fairly straightforward. We played mission 1, and Stef's genestealers uttlerly destroyed my marines. In retrospect I should have been more aggressive about moving toward the objective. I was playing a very defensive game based mainly on my experience with the Space Hulk computer game. Overwatch is essential to the computer version since everything is moving so fast. With the new command points system and only five marines to worry about I could have played the entire game without overwatch and done better. Most overwatch action points were wasted. I also need to remember how well the heavy flamer template blocks movement for future games. All in all the entire game took about 45 minutes, including a number of rule lookups. The next run should be quicker, and hopefully the larger missions won't require a lot of reference.

And in case you've been living under a rock, the minis for this game are chicken fried awesome.