Saturday, January 14, 2017

Painting Eyes

I've been wanting to make this blog post for a while now.  I had trouble painting eyes for the longest time.  I watch numerous videos, read countless blog tutorials, practiced with other people's way of doing it and it always turned out like crap.  My miniatures would look googly eyed and terrible.  I've heard countless experts say "You don't have to paint eyes, just shade in the area", and every time I would do that it would feel like something was missing on the miniature.  That's because the face, specifically the eyes are a focal point on the model.  You're eyes are attracted to the face naturally, specifically the eyes.  Even animals do this, like when you yell at your cat and it looks at you in the eyes.

I've tried numerous methods of painting eyes over the years and I found a method that works for me and it might work for you.  I am by far no expert, but maybe this little tutorial will help someone.

The trick to this method is using the right equipment and keeping your paint as thin as possible.  If it's too thin, you'll lose control of it will run everywhere while if it's too thick, it won't flow right and clog up your brush.  I'd say a ratio of 3 drops of flow aid to 1 drop of paint depending on the consistency of the base paint your using.  Like I said previously, you want the paint to be as thin as possible.

I'll be using a one of my extra space wolf heads for this example...

I find painting the head separate from the body makes it easier to get into all the nooks and crannies of everything.  I basically just drilled into the bottom and shoved a toothpick with a little super glue on the end of it.

Next, you'll want to base coat the miniature or the head depending on how you're painting the model.

I mainly use reaper colors for most products unless I'm following a specific tutorial in which I'll use GW colors. I used reaper tanned shadow, reaper auburn shadow for the hair, and gw russ grey for the base.

Next, I shade the miniature like so...

I used reikland fleshshade on the face and hair and nuln oil for the base.  I like to put the shades in before I work on the eyes, that way I can see exactly where I need to put them.  Sometimes there's an eye lid, especially on gw models and if you put the eyeball on it, it looks horrible.

Now we're ready to define the area of where to put the eye.

Any black color will work for this.  If you make any mistake during this point (like I did with the left eye, getting some of the black on the lower eyelid) it can be fixed during the layering phase with the skin.  This is why I do the eyes after the washing as most mistakes can easily be corrected.

Next I used a cream color to do the actual eyeball.  It's good to use an off-white color as a straight white doesn't look right.  I used reaper creamy ivory for this.

Basically you want to draw it inside the black, leaving just an outline of black.  Again, you can see I screwed up on the right eye during this as I didn't thin the paint out enough which cause it to clog my brush which resulted in more of the cream color to come out covering the black at the bottom of the eye.  It's an easy fix as well since it happened right where I need to put black again for the iris.

Next, we go back to black (I usually add another drop of thinner at this point because it'll probably be too thick and this is very precise work) and I draw a line going down the center of the white on each eye, then slowly round out the sides in the shape of an iris leaving a little white on each side.

So you might be thinking the eyes are done.  Nope!!  Again, this is why I do the eyes right after the washing phase.  I know I'm going to make mistakes, I always do.  You can see I got black all over the eyelids, and I usually get black in places I don't want to.  It looks good, but it will look better after I layer the skin tone and can fix my mistakes... like so...

I reshaped the lids, kept the shade in the dark recess of the eyes, and added a quick tone all over the face and now we have a pretty decent face.  Sure, another layer of a lighter skin tone would look good, but I think I've made my point.

So, the take away points are as follows....

- Do the eyes after the flesh wash on the face.  Mistakes will be easier to fix and you can easily identify the eyelids and where the paint needs to go

- Any mistakes with the black can be fixed during the flesh layering phase

- Use an off-white color.  Straight white looks bad

- Thin your paints more than usual.  You need absolute control of it when doing this type of work

- Practice, this is not easy to do.  A steady hand is required, I also recommend using a head mounted magnifying glass along with a winsor newton series 7 3/0 brush

Here is a picture of the magnifying glass I use for anyone interested...

You can get these for pretty cheap off of amazon.  I think they're like $10 - $20.

Anyways, this is something different than what I normally post.  Probably not the best tutorial, but I think I get my point across with mistakes and all.  I hope it's been helpful.

Friday, January 6, 2017

An update

Hey guys, I know a huge portion of time has passed since I post anything on this blog and I just wanted to give an update on my personal standing in the miniature painting sphere as a whole.

As you can see, I'm still very much alive and functioning.  I have not quit painting, nor have I gone else where to post any work, nor have I slowed down at all.  I've been painting on a regular basis since my last post in late May.

You might be thinking "Well then how come you haven't posted anything here for over half a year?".  Well, I wasn't happy with how the past few updates pictures came out.  I didn't have the space to set up a light box or do anything photography related.  If I don't like something, I'm not going to do it.  It's as simple as that.  We've since moved into a townhouse where I have the room to set up something, but due to projects needing to be completed by a certain time, I just haven't gotten around to it.  I also recently invested in a kickstarter that will be sending me backdrops in February so I've been in this kind of limbo where I want to post pictures and get this blog back up and running, but I also want to wait until I can take professional grade pictures with a cool backdrop.  So more than likely, I'll start posting again in February when I have a good set up.

In the mean time, note that I haven't forgotten about this blog.  I'm planning on being more active here in 2017 than 2016.  The goal is 100 figures this year.  I also want to do a tutorial in the next week or so involving an aspect of figure painting that many people have problems with.... eyes.  I have my own unique way of doing them that will hopefully give a little insight to folks.  I also have 4 projects upcoming that have a time table, so those will be posted as I complete them.

So, I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and I look forward to a fruitful year in miniature painting.

- Dave

Monday, May 30, 2016

A few wolves

This is going to be a quick one.  A little side project I work on from time to time is a little 40k.  Am I a dedicated child of the emperor and 40k fanatic?  Naaa.... but I'm a fan of the models and it's a good diversion when I'm between projects.  Anyways, here's a few pics.....

I fully admit that I know very little about these dudes or squad formation or anything for that fact.  However, I know Leman Russ was a badass and that out of all the Space Marine chapters, the space wolves look the coolest (IMO).

These were pretty interesting to paint.  Lots of little details and I learned that it's best not to to fully build these dudes before you start painting (ie. don't attach the heads or shoulder pads).  Lots of edge highlighting and the heads have lots of character.  They were a lot of fun to paint and I hope to paint some more.

Next update should be sooner as I'm working on some Frostgrave stuff.  I make no promises to when you'll be able to see it, but it shouldn't be a month and half.  Don't quote me on that though as my professional life is pretty crazy this year.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Adepticon 2016

 ::pause for awkward dramatic silence::

Sorry, I couldn't help myself.  So after my last post, I painted some wild warg riders for my nephew and got incredibly burned out in the process for some reason.  It's probably because the time table pushed me to my limits with having less than 2 weeks to get 12 miniatures done and wanting to experiment with different techniques of blending that did not go over well.  Unusually I'm at my best when I'm pressed for time as it forces me not to dally and stay focused on the task at hand.  Meh... it happens....

So what have I been up to lately?  A lot actually.  I took most of January and February off from painting.  Papa Nurgle decided to pay me a visit during that time and took me out of commission for a long time (3 weeks or something like that.....).  Yup, it sucked.  At the end of February it dawned on me that Adepticon was a month away and I hadn't gotten anything done that I planned for the two tournaments I was scheduled to play in for Bolt Action.  All the miniatures were purchased months earlier and still sitting in the packages they came in.

With a long deep breath, I dug in at the end of February, cleaned off my brushes, lubed up my airbrush, and got to work.  I spent the month of March painting every night, literally every night.  From the time I got home from work to bedtime, activity was happening on my work bench.  Whether 1 hour or 8, shit was getting done.  All the way up to March 31st (the first day of adepticon), and even then I stayed up till 4am wrapping things up and doing finishing touches.  It was rough, but rewarding.  Here are the fruits of my labor....

First up are my Panther's I won at Operation Sting last year...

And now for the Marder's.  Note that I didn't get a chance to paint the crews for them yet.  It's in the backlog for now.  They're glass cannons in the back that rock a huge punch but a glance will pretty much destroy them.

Here is the SdKfz 231 Heavy Armor Car, also known as Dracula's Coach.  Yeah, it early war and wouldn't have been included in a late-war German Grenadier force.  I just thought the model was cool.  It also filled the void I was looking for.... a cheap armored car used for annoying the opposing force.


Note that all the above armor was mostly painted with my Badge Patriot 105 airbrush (just in case anyone was wondering).

Now onto the men on foot.  Up next we have 3 of my special teams.  My medium machine gun, produced by Gorgon Studios, a flamethrower team, and a panzerschreck team.

Finally, we come to where the bulk of my time was spent.... the ground force.  I have 3 German Pioneer's (used as Assault Engineer's) mixed in there.  The flamethrower team and the dude holding the strumpistole.  They can be picked out by the blue pants.

All the above pictures is just what I got painted in March.  As far as the tournament, I used a bunch of guys I painted last year, so this is by no means the entire army I played.  Mainly I was rocking 3 squads of Regular Heer German (7 guys per, 2 Assault Rifles, 1 LMG Team, NCO with Assault Rifle, 2-3 guys with Rifles), 1 squad of Veteran Assault Engineers (1 strumpistole, 1 flame thrower team, 1 NCO with SMG, 2 guys with SMG's, 2 guys with rifles), 1 flamethrower team, 1 panzerschreck team, 1 medium machine gun team, 1 medium mortar team, 1st LT with Assault rifle with 2 guys, a Panther, and my SdKfz armored car.  The total was 1250 points on the nose.

How did I do in the tournament?  Well, my first game I got crushed.  I was taking on the Americans.  My guys couldn't hit the broadside of a barn door, and I couldn't pass any leadership test (even with 1 pin).  So I was rolling low when I needed to roll high, and rolling high when I needed to roll low.  All I could do is laugh at my terrible luck.  I missed getting a minor defeat by 1 point and ended up with a major defeat.  A great way to start a two day tournament.

My next game was another American army.  This was an attacker/defender game with 3 objectives that needed to be controlled.  I played the attacker.  It was a stalemate.  I stacked the right flank and hit a brick wall.  By turn 4, my panther was burning and my left flank was barely holding.  I did some gutsy charges and managed to take 1 objective, contest 1 objective, and couldn't get to the third.  It ended with a draw.  I blame the table partly as it was the desert island one with lots of water and shitty LOS.

My third game saw me taking on the Brits.  My opponent had 15 order dice to my 11, so I was outnumbered.  He had lots of cheap inexperienced units, and teams I've never seen before.  It was a base game where you needed to protect your base while getting guys in your opponents base.  The bases were in the corners of the table.  There was a large building in the middle of the board, and I made the mistake of charging the bulk of my force up the middle behind the building.  I was going to slit my force on turn 2.  My opponent declared he was rocket bombing the center unit and rolled a 6, taking out 2 units and stacking like 4-6 pins on everyone else.  I thought the game was done at that point.  My panzerschreck proved his worth by destroying an armored car carrying a large unit right into my base.  Managed to destroy the car and everyone inside.  My force then shrugged off the bulk of the pins, fought through the barrage of shit thrown at me, and I rammed my panther right into my opponents base on the last turn while holding the line.  It was a major victory for me.  Very fun game that could've gone either way.

My 4th game (Sunday morning) saw me in bed.  I overslept and missed it.  I still feel pretty shitty about it.  It's not like me to sleep in, but getting everything painted on time involved staying up late and took a toll on me and I slept right thru my alarms.  So I took a big fat goose-egg for my 4th game and rightly so.

I managed to crawl out of bed and get down to the hotel for my 5th (and final) game.  This one saw me taking on my painting buddy John's German force over at Plastic Legions.  It was a basic "kill the opposing force" mission, so not much thinking involved.  He won the roll off and deployed his force across his side of the board.  Being sneaky (and very typical of me), I stacked the right flank as we had 12" by 36" square along the right side of the board to deploy as well as the usually 12" on your side.  The first turn I thought I made a huge mistake as he had vets in a choke point in the forest preventing me from picking more optimal targets or even getting thru so I could get to his force.  I figured I'd sit back for a turn or two, put a little pressure on the choke point while getting the bulk of my force into a more optimal position.  He managed to get his guys over to me and it looked like I was going to get over-run when his motorcycles popped out from behind.  He had fanatics, so I didn't want to get into melee with him.  I just kept shifting my army while forcing him to change his tactics all while feeling his army out.  The last 3 turns saw the game shift back and forth a few times, but I think the deciding factor was my mortar getting a direct hit on his fanatics, forcing him to change his priority targets.  I give him credit for the ballsy panzerfaust attack on my panther.  I don't think it would've really changed a whole lot had they hit, but it brought his guys out of the choke point and allowed me to clear them off the table along with the commander.  Then again, it could've swung back to him if he'd taken out the panther as I wouldn't have been able to take out the bikes, which would've wreaked havoc behind my lines.  With it being a nail-bitter, victory being balanced on the edge of a knife, it turned out to be the funniest game of the tournament for me, and I walked away with a major victory in the end.

So I ended up with 2-2-1.  Not bad.  I think the Panther is a fun tank, but I probably should've taken a less point sink tank like a Panzer III or Panzer IV.  I think with a little tweeking here and there, I might have something really good.  I like the Assault Engineer's with the flamethrower, heavy SMG's, and will be using them from now on as my close range veteran unit.  I think 2 flamethrowers are a bit much and I'll probably drop my single unit.  I'll probably upgrade 1 of my Heer units to vets, all with Assault Rifles, and 2-3 regular Heer units.  A Panzerschreck team is now something that I will always have in my army as it saved my ass more times than I can count.  I bought 2 Hanomags at the show along with some bikes and a Kubelwagon, so I might try to fit some of that in the point gaps.

I also played in Bolt Action Tank Wars the first day of Adepticon.  While I won't go crazy into it, it's a fun game.  I ended up going 1-2 for 3 games.  I got annihilated my 3rd game, completely tabled.  Again, the Panther's are fun, but are not worth the point cost and Marder's hit hard but are weak to basically everything shooting at them.

So Adepticon 2016.  Fun as always, but it's lacking the charm from the prior few years I've been going.  It might be that it's getting too big, but it is what it is.  I look forward to Adepticon 2017, and I got my sights on Operation Sting in October.  Time to proof-read this thing and post it.  Hope you guys enjoyed it. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Jumping back into the realms of fantasy

This entry marks my 100th posts thus far.  When I originally started this blog, I didn't think it would've last this long or have this many posts.  I figured I would've gotten bored with it by now, but it seems I'm still trucking along and judging by my numbers, people are still interested in seeing my stuff, which is awesome.  I'm still motivated to do this blog, maybe not as much as first, but I have a vested interest in continuing it.  We'll see where the next 100 posts brings us....

Now that that's out of the way, lets get down to business.  Frostgrave..... at first I didn't pay much attention to it, but after a friend pointed it out to me and expressed interest in playing, it gave me an excuse to jump on the bandwagon and check it out.  Now I haven't played a game yet, but I've been pouring over the rulebook and watching vids on youtube, so I think I have a pretty good grasp on the flow of it.

Starting off, I wanted to get the "official" miniatures, so I ordered a box of soldiers from North Star, put together nice mix of soldiers and started painting.  Here's where I'm at so far....

So I got 5 of them done so far.  One thief, one thug, one arms-man, one archer, and one crossbow-man.  It's pretty rounded for a starting warband and I mainly wanted to get my basic starting troops done.  I have until the beginning of January to get the rest of them painted up, and I'm about 50% completed with the wizard and apprentice.  All in all, they're fun to paint up.  I had to plan my paint schemes a little more than usual just because each miniature has about 3 layers of clothing.  I do like the way they turned out.

And what Frostgrave game is complete with nasty NPC's running around?

Just some quick skeletons to add a bit of chaos into the games.  These particular skeletons are from Wargames Factory and currently unavailable until Warlord Games starts distributing them.  I have a few more I'd like to get painted up before my first game.

Until next time!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

German Grenadiers

As the title above would suggest, I managed to take some pictures of my army I brought to Operation Sting this past weekend.  It's a small force, but with being done in under a month I'd say they look pretty good.  I apologize to any history buffs out there if my colors are off from how they really were.  I was following the box art as best I could.  Anyhew, here's what I managed to splatter paint on.

And now for individual pieces.  Up first is my armor I managed to get done... the Puma and StuH 42.  These two were actually the first time I really got to use my airbrush for the bulk of the work.

Up next is all my grunt infantry men, taken in two sets.  Some of you might have seen these guys in an earlier post, but  think with proper lighting you should be actually able to see the details.

Next is my medium mortar crew and my spotter for them.


My sniper team is up next.

And my Lieutenant and Medic....

And as a special bonus, here is my objective marker that was required for the tournament.  I'm really pleased with the way he turned out.  I thought Warlord's paintjob didn't do the model justice.  He looks so much better in browns than he does in a blue and yellow.

So that's the army.  It's a bit small for 1000 points, but with the time constraints I didn't have a whole lot of options for a whole lot of list building and customization.  I basically whatever I could grab and paint in the army starter kit, plus two metal blister packs.  I also think having a lack of understanding the gaming mechanics when I was building the army limited my selection.  I'll get more into the gaming side of this army in a paragraph or two.

The painting was a lot of fun.  A bit grueling with having to speed up my usual pace and cut corners I wouldn't normally, but I think they turned out as a high table-top quality army which is what I was aiming for.  Again, this was my first time utilizing my Patriot 105 airbrush to do the bulk work of priming and basecoating.  It really made doing large surfaces such as the Puma and StuH a whole lot easier.  Getting the right consistency with your paint seems to be the trick along with learning proper trigger control.  It seems easy when you watch a demo video of professionals using an airbrush on youtube, but when it's in your hand, it's difficult to get the feel for it.  Also, switching between colors and cleaning up is a bit of a chore.  I think if I want to start detailing models with highlights and whatnot, the patriot 105 isn't going to cut it.  Painting camo was also pretty new for me.  After a bit of research mixed with a bit of trial and error, it pretty easy to get an effective result.  All in all I'd say it's a solid looking army.

When it comes to gaming, I came into it thinking my elite infantry would never die, or they'd be able to hold they're ground against multiple units at the same time.  I loaded them up with assault rifles, and could knock off 20 rounds in a single.  What I miscalculated is with Bolt Action you could have the most elite forces on the field, but once they're getting targeted by multiple enemies, they're effectiveness  goes down considerably.  Also, a lucky heavy mortar hit can turn your unit of 10 elites into cannon fodder as simply as if they were cheap inexperienced troops.  This actually happened to me twice in a single game, and it sucked.  With tournament play, you want a more balanced force with lots of order dice.  When you get an objective mission, your small elite forces are utterly useless as it only takes a unit or two to start stacking PIN's on them while your enemy sends one of his bargain bin units to scoop up all the objectives. 

The Puma was either extremely effective, or got targeted and blown up the first or second turn.  Maybe it's because I tried to be overly aggressive with it?  Probably.  I spent most of my games during Operation Sting on defense which allowed my opponents to dictate the flow of the game.  This was mainly due to the low amount of order dice.

The only game I did managed to win was mainly due to table side and terrain.  It was one of those games where you have to defend your base in the corner of your side of the table while blowing up your opponents base by getting an infantry unit in touching range.  My opponent had to slog thru almost a foot and half of rough terrain while I was able to focus a good portion of my force behind cover and in front of the objective and just slow down his advance.  He defended his base with inexperienced troops, machine guns, and other specialty troops designed to set up a shield wall around his base.  Like I said, I managed to put the bulk of my force on defense, and used one of my elite infantry squads to skim over to his side, using the terrain on the way to block most of his shots.  I managed to take minimal damage getting within a striking range, assaulting his weak troops in hand to hand combat which utterly decimated them, followed by consolidating right next to the object.  It was a really fun game.

I think when Adepticon comes around, I'll be adding more bulk riflemen, a flame thrower, and switching my HE up a little to something that's more my suitable to my army.  I really do think quantity over quality would suit my play style.  Maybe something like 11-13 order dice would allow me to have some control over the flow of game.  It's something I'm going to ponder on in the up and coming weeks.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the pictures..