Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The BitzBox Warband

It started as a personal quest in October 2015, to be creative with my BitzBox, whilst ensuring all conversions were clearly steeped in the style of RoC. A year and a half later it is now complete and I'm very happy with how it turned out:

But it doesn't stop here. This warband will be absorbed into my growing Lost and the Damned Nurgle    Army and my love of converting and kitbashing has been re-ignited. It just so happens that I've stumbled upon a new direction; AoS28. A return to the pathetic aesthetic in a grim dark style with a focus on character and conversion - perfect for me. It all takes me back to a 10 year old (and unfinished) project of mine (Rensburg).

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

BitzBox Warband Champion on Palanquin

This BitzBox warband project had been on hold (and forever pushed further down the painting queue) largely due to this fella. It was great fun to kitbash and convert; delving into my box of bits to create a new palanquin and leader, but the thought of painting the bastard was daunting to say the least.

But I've done it and as usual it was never as bad as I had expected or built it up (a bit like public speaking). 

So here he is; Seth Spawnbloat. Level 10 Human. Champion of Nurgle. Infestation of Nurlings. Atrophied Arm, Enormously Fat. Palanquin, Shield, Warhammer

I primed the whole thing black (to make sure it was dark in-between all the nurglings) and then used a zenithal application of white from above. I much prefer using my ink washes/glazes over a white undercoat and then building up the subsequent highlights over the top of that.

With the Nurglings I used a limited palette of just yellow, green and orange inks (some mixed together) to keep all of the nurglings unified in colour. After the various washes were dry I highlighted up, which was a pretty tiresome effort.

The wooden areas were washed and glazed with a variety of greys and pale browns for the baser colour and then highlighted up with pale greys to try and create a weathered and old looking wood effect. A final addition of some subtle green glazes were applied to give a slightly mossy look to the wood. The idea being that a slightly green tinge to the wood would be complemented by the orangy/red rust colour on the metal areas.

The writhing mass of bodies on the throne (which was fun to make) created a few challenges. I wanted to make them look like they were the same colour as the wood, so that they were actually part of the throne, but this time highlighted up with a little Elf Flesh so as to give them a bit of a warmer skin tone.

You may have noticed the tattered awning surrounding the palanquin. This was an addtition that I expected to make as there was a slightly annoying gap between nurglings and palanquin that ruined the illusion of the mass of nurglings lifting the dais. To mask this I added this decoration and deliberately made it look tatty, both by ripping the paper and washing several layers of grungy sepias, browns and greens.

The images on the awning are taken directly from the page borders found in the Lost and the Damned.

Likewise the banner behind the champion. My first idea was to use a crow illustration from the Fighting Fantasy books but it looked a bit lost on amongst so much else. The black lining could not really compete with the busy-ness of the model. So I painted over it with the most iconic Nurgle image possible, Les Edward's original illustration for the Lost and the Damned itself - just on a tiny scale!

It actually wasn't as hard to do as I though it might be. Once I had added some thin layers of background colour, I went about sketching the outline of the GUO onto the background with diluted black and then added the shadows with Rhinox brown, before building up successive highlights with a range of pale greens and yellows. I then re-emphasised the shadows and added some spots of pinky/red for the sores.

The champion himself needed to stand out amongst the colours I'd already used and I'd already decided that I wanted him to look quite pale. I ended up going a bit pinker than expected, only to make him pop from all the other colours. 

Writing this all out does always make me realise just how much internal thinking occurs when painting models, an ongoing internal monologue.

The final element to complete was the shield and again I wanted to create a nice contrast with the warmer colours of the champ, so I hit the demonic shield with the baby-blue treatment and a bit of subtle purple on the tongue and yellow on the horn to mimic the warmth of the flames higher up in the composition.

So has the painted version lived up to my expectations? Those expectations were pretty damn high after being so proud of the actual build of this model and I have to say that I think the paint job does the model justice. I'm certainly happy with all the decisions I made and the composition and balance of the whole piece holds up. I know I'll never be the best painter around, but this is up there with my very best.

Hope you enjoy it too. I'll post up some photos of the finished bitzbox warband later..

Friday, 10 February 2017

A small restoration project - St. George and the Dragon

I originally painted these two when the Green Knight was first released by GW back in the early 90's (I believe). It was a diorama that I had intended to enter for Golden Demon (I never did) which used to have a plinth with a matching base (now lost), to show the story of George and the Dragon. It was largely inspired by Paolo Uccello's and Raphael's "St. George and the Dragon" the former of which resides at the National Gallery, London. I thought the Green Knight was a great Citadel miniature with a dynamic pose, crisp, detailed sculpting and characterful for a human model, I still think this today. 

So I recently found these in a box back at my parents house and they were a bit battered to be honest. Chipped paint everywhere, flaking paint on the dragon's wings (where they had been bent), dust, broken sword and a missing shield to name the worst of the problems.

So I set about restoring them. Now I was so keen to get involved in this process that I forgot to take any pictures of their condition, which I'm very annoyed at myself for, however if you look closely enough at the wings on the dragon you can see the texture of the cracks/flakes still. Obviously I could have stripped the paint and started the process from scratch, but I was keen to keep my original paint job (20-something years old and two of the few models that I still own from my original teenage hobby time), consolidate the issues and make some minor improvements to the original paint work.

After the models had been carefully dusted with a soft make-up brush (the wifes!) the Knight had his sword pinned back into position and then re-painted, originally I had painted it green, I think to keep a link to the Green Knight, but it looked terrible and so instead I plumped for a kind of purple nmm style. A new (Elven?) shield was attached and painted - this is the same shield design that I originally used as I liked the dragon emblem. I have updated the painting of the armour, the original painting was quite poor (I hadn't mastered metals at this time in my development) and very dull black, so I went for a layered gold effect, starting with dark bronze and working through copper and eventually gold highlights. A bit of touching up on the horse flesh and barding was also needed.

The dragon required a bit more work. I had to initially carefully reshape the wings which had been bent, this did result in some more paint flaking away. I stabilised this by using some dilute pva which ran underneath the flakes and when dried consolidated beneath the cracks. A really thin fill of putty was added to the missing areas of paint so that there was not such a large "step" in thickness between paint/primer and bare metal. 

The lance was intentionally broken (the missing section was a part of the base) and the dragon itself needed a lot of touching up. Trying to match the colours was quite simple - I could pretty much identify the colours I'd previously used (for example it was clear that Bestial Brown was the base coat for the fleshy stomach and it had been highlighted/layered with increasing amounts of elf flesh). I still have both these paints and would probably paint it in exactly the same way if I would be starting from scratch! The blood looked quite poor, so I reworked this using some Tamiya Clear red for the glossy areas and some purple/brown/black washes for the more dried looking areas.

And here are the images that I used for my inspiration all those years ago:

Paolo Uccello's St. George and the Dragon. I'd love to add the maiden and a cave to complete the diorama.

Raphael's version. Here you can see why I originally painted the armour black and how I got the idea for the broken lance embedded in the dragon's torso.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

A mutated troll for Frostgrave

This conversion was originally made for a warband rolled up on the Realm of Chaos charts (I think for the old PapaNurgle forum competition). It's a LotR troll with a sculpted Fimir face and sculpted tentacles (using small beads as the suckers). The axe head is from a Shaggoth and I also sculpted the haft and the breastplate (loosely based upon Fimir / Celtic designs). I wish I had a wip photo to show..

So he's been re-purposed to be used as a (chaotic/mutated) troll for my games of Frostgrave and therefore another one ticked off from my bestiary challenge. 

It's quite a good feeling to go through some old, incomplete and unassigned models and find a purpose for them; he feels loved again (and after all that sculpting I couldn't just let him go to waste).

Monday, 6 February 2017

BitzBox Warband Characters

To continue the slow work of finishing my bitzbox warband, I can now introduce the two lesser characters to accompany the previously showcased minions; 

Darn the Veiled (Marauder, Mark of Nurgle, Horns, Heavy Armour and Shield)

Araf (Level 5 Beastman, Mark of Nurgle, Bestial Face (dog) limb loss (leg), Demonic Steed (Skull Face, Horn)

As you can see I've rolled up the Chaos Attributes from the great Lost and the Damned tome and gone about converting them to match the rolls. I've now finally got around to painting them too:

You may recognise a few of the multitude of bitz used here (go on play the game, you know you want to), and you may also identify with where my inspiration came from for Aruf; namely the Groot character below, which I believe was modelled and painted by Mike Mcvey.

His steed is a direct copy of this Tony Ackland illustration from the Chaos Spawn section from the LatD. Originally I was going to sculpt on the scaly skin (I forgot), then I remembered and was going to use crackle medium (I forgot again) so in the end I painted a furry kind of texture to break up the large, flat areas of horse body. I wished I had sculpted the scales on though, it would have looked better and more in keeping with the original illustration.

Darn is a simpler conversion, using a Chaos Warrior body, with a Knight of Nurgle head and some greenstuffing to the new addition of a shield.

And the two of them gallivanting through some quite familiar territory. 

The next and final piece of my Bitzbox Warband is the leader mounted onto a palanquin; I'm slightly daunted by the size and intricacy of it, so it may take some time. I plan to finish a few other quick projects alongside it to break up such a large project.

Monday, 23 January 2017

BitzBox Beastmen

I like my beastmen to be a proper combination of beasts and men, so for this stage of my bitzbox warband challenge, I kitbashed a load of (mostly) plastic and (some) metal parts to create a range of characters that showed a range of hybrids between man and different beasts. I also wanted to have lesser and greater hybrids - the greater hybrids can look far removed from the man and more bestial (but are probably more fun to convert) yet actually I prefer the subtle mutations/changes that you may find on a more human like figure with a few mutations that can almost be hidden. These are mostly greater mutations/hybrids:

So each conversion stuck to the theme of one animal, but with greater or lesser mutations. First up is a more typical beastman - goat head and hoof and an extended belly, but otherwise still retaining much of his soldier background with his uniform and blunderbuss. Not so far down the path to damnation and he can probably function pretty normally:

Here I've again gone for a head swap, adding a fly mutation to an otherwise humanoid body (which is actually a metal savage orc that I found headless in my bitz-box). A heavier mutation - can he speak? Has his brain retained any human elements?

The third beastman is relating to the avian, but with some Nurgleesque gut spillage. A cold-one claw has been added to his feet and I think the head is from a Bretonnian helmet? The arms are from a plaguebearer and have nice talon like fingers to them. I tried to paint the fur of the beastman body to match the feathers on the bird head. I was tempted to give him wings, but realised I needed them for my upcoming harpies. So he's flightless, which must be quite irritating for him:

Next up is my lizardman. Again utilising the head of a cold-one but I tried to position it in a way that made it look dynamic, almost as if he is contorted with pain and rage due to his heavily mutated self. A cold one was again raided for the tail, an old chaos warrior mutated arm was stuck to a plaguebearer body and a metal leg from the Nurgle palanquin champion was added. I think his left arm and axe are orcish. He's more lizard than man now (say this with an Alec Guinness voice):

And finally the cow-centaur. Cow body from the giant sprue, torso from a zombie, head from the chaos warriors mutation sprue, skaven left arm and banner pole and right arm/spear from a goblin. The banner design is straight outta Fighting Fantasy - see the link for the other ones I've completed. Much more heavily mootated than some of the udder beastmen on show here:

And here they all are looking perfectly mutated, chaotic, lost and very damned.

A few more characters need to be painted to complete this warband - I'm determined to stay focused on one project at a time, until it's completion... but I'd really like to kitbash some subtly mutated, robed and diseased flagellants next. They'll have to wait.

Friday, 13 January 2017

An executioner and his prisoner

As I explore a range of different miniature manufacturers, I came across Midlam Miniatures who do several great ranges of quite old school metal models, that are incredibly well sculpted and for very reasonable prices. I was tempted by the slightly scrawny orcs for my Warlock of Firetop Mountain project, but in the end I was seduced by the characterful range of villagers and townsfolk to add to my collection of various npc's. So to accompany my recent scratch-built torturers rack, I got hold of an executioner and his prisoner, as they can also create a new narrative for my games with the kids (and other future games):

I think the executioner has a good side and can be swayed from his grisly task. I wonder whether the adventurers will take that path when they encounter him? I think I need to add a male prisoner too so I'm not relying on the cliched damsel in distress idea; my daughters game with female heroes and they warm to lead female heroines in films (Princess Leia and Rey as two Star Wars examples), so instead they could save the captured (helpless) Duke for example. I'll need to source a new mini for this then...

Posing for the camera in his torture room.

Will he let her go and rebel against his dungeon lord?

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Morcar, Kev Adams and Me

In a bid to tidy up loose ends from 2016, I recently completed this incredibly cool model. The reason it's so great? Well because it combines some amazing aspects of this hobby; a free miniature of Morcar sculpted by Geoff from Oakbound Studios (which I received from BOYL 2016), a Kev Adams custom sculpt of my head (on top of Morcar's) and because I can use it with my kids as we explore Heroquest. But mostly because Kev Adams sculpted my head, and I got to watch a true master at work (and share a beer and chat with him). I was amazed at how he sculpted and used tiny balls of greenstuff to add form and feature to the sculpt and how he managed to produce so many of these personalised portraits over the course of the day (all money raised went to charity) in quite difficult conditions - the temporary flooring moved when people walked past and he was having to listen to all of us enthusiasts ask him a load of questions. Ever the gent he responded with some great stories and details of his experiences and offered my some advice about my own sculpting concerns.

I still can't believe he sculpted teeth on such a small scale.

My painting is below, but this is more about the amazing skills of both Geoff and Kev who combined to make this figure - sirs, I doff my cap and hope one day I can create something even remotely as good as this.

I thought I'd blur out my face deliberately for a blog post that is largely about my face! (it didn't look as bad as a thumbnail..)

As a model he'll be used when I game with my kids - he can represent me as the evil dungeon master or the helpful mage, joining or offering advice to the adventurer party. I therefore deliberately painted him with colours that could represent either alignment and ensured that he received brown eyes and a ginge tinge to the hair (I wish I had this much hair - I think Kev was being kind). 

Here you can see me standing amongst my tomes, skulls and altar, maybe the incantation requires me to rock out. (I had to google that, I'm not sure I've ever done that particular hand pose, I'm not very rocky). 

Rocking in my dungeon, surrounded by all that I need (and love).

And here's the original sculpt[s]:


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

From 2016 into 2017

I much prefer to look forwards than backwards, but sometimes a little bit of reflection upon the last 12 months doesn't go amiss, and can actually help me look forward even further to the coming year, in terms of my hobby output.

Next year I want to complete more of my projects, convert my miniatures a lot more (like I used to - but working with nostalgic models has made me wary of "spoiling" an original and has therefore stunted my creativity with form and originality) and not buy so much stuff on a whim. Here's what I've got lined up to paint over an (undesignated) period of time (at a future date I'll show what's lined up to convert):

Primed and ready to go..

Roughly from left to right; there's my bitzbox warband leader (primed black) and some of his minions that still need painting (damn it's been well over a year); a load of npc's from Otherworld and Black Scorpion, some old Citadel Skaven for my (almost completed Retinue table challenge - the unconverted minotaurs are at the back and the harpies are still in my bitzbox), a free Oldhammer miniature from BOYL, the start of a Bob Olley space gang, a Scibor necromancer, some creatures for my Frostgrave Bestiary, a load of Citadel Orcs for my newest project, a few Chaosy warriors, a Giant worm for my Warlock of Firetop Mountain mission and the rest of my baggage train. Phew. And I'm sure I'll just paint these, no other distractions....

So these lucky models were the chosen few to make it to my pizzabox/spraybooth as:

1. They were all prepared
2. Pretty much relevant to completing some unfinished business from 2016 (and, hmm 2015).
3. The majority of them I'm looking forward to painting.

2016 saw me paint more than I've ever done in a calender year before (even before I blogged and perhaps even more than when I was a young teen - although admittedly those days are not seen with such clarity now). The blog breakdown:

  • 66 blog posts (four more than last year)
  • 87 miniatures (including completing my Nurgle Holy Grail)
  • 41 pieces of scenery (including dungeon tiles, doors, gold/skull piles, walls etc)
  • 5 dioramas (including my son's castle, 40k scenery, fantasy backdrop and Warlock stuff)
  • 1 Vehicle (Mad Max based)
  • 2 pieces of artwork - the banner for this blog and a portrait of my sister's dog for Xmas (undocumented on here).
  • A lot of games with my kids (THE most fun part of all this) and another visit to BOYL

That's a fair few more painted than last year all round, so my pace (or maybe time efficiency) is improved and I've added a few extra tekkers to my painting repertoire too - happy days - all 366 of them. Well in case you missed out, here's the 5 most popular blog posts from last year for you to peruse if you like and therefore adding a few extra hits to them, making them further popular:

I should at this point give a massive shout-out to all my Russian readers who obviously love reading my shit, avidly, daily and in vast numbers: Спасибо за прочтение!

Happy New Year to you all!

Friday, 30 December 2016

Dungeon scenery part 3.

After re-vamping some old heroquest furniture and buying some lovely Grendel Scotia stuff, I decided to make some of my own dungeon scenery. Now this thought happened many months ago and I began experimenting with the possibilities of using some scraps of extruded polystyrene in conjunction with some coffee stirrers for a cheap, scratchbuilt alternative. The gaps in my collection (and what I need for gaming purposes) showed that bookcases and instruments of torture were required! So with these materials and my box of bits I went about making bookcases and a torturers rack.

That was quite a few months ago and the little project stalled at the made stage and other ideas and projects leapfrogged their way to the front of the queue. So, with me recently deciding upon a New Years resolution of "finishing jobs before others are started"  (and this includes DIY and work projects), I decided to start this process at the end of December, so these three pieces were completed last night at the paint station:

The extruded styrofoam was not great to work on such a small scale for the books, greenstuff would have been better, and the poor quality finish wasn't helped by me not properly coating the foam in dilute pva prior to priming; this created a slightly pick-marked surface. The scrolls are just scraps of thick paper rolled up and stiffened in pva. The coffee stirrers are great though and have been added to my scratchbuilding kit. Here's a Wip of the bookcases:

I forgot to do the same for the rack, but it is made from the same materials with the additions of some small plastic shields for the turning device and some plastic bits from my box to decorate. Everything was primed brown and drybrushed, washed and glazed with some greens and yellows to create a wood like affect and then some dry pigment applied to create a dusty appearance on the bookcase. Some Tamiya  clear red was mixed with uhu glue to create some stringy blood on the rack.

Right, now to paint some of my backlog of miniatures that may accompany these pieces and act as ncp's for future games...