Wednesday 2 October 2019

"Build me a board worthy of Mordor"

I've been away from this blog again for a while. Summer at work and rapid fire Pokemon Regionals  in September have basically meant that I've had to choose between blogging and actually getting hobby done. I'm sure you'll forgive me for choosing the latter!

What have I been working on, I hear you ask? Well, considering the fuss I've been making recently about being organised and getting stuff done, you'd think that I'd not be buying anything new for a while.

So did I. Then a deal came along which I couldn't really say no to.

You see, GW released Warcry recently and it looks pretty snazzy:

Don't worry, I haven't gone out and bought yet another game (Well, technically I have, but hear me out...). What I was really interested in from the set was the terrain:

The moment I saw that photo, I thought "that looks like it would make a great Mordor Fortress". I've been playing a LOT of Middle Earth recently, but I don't actually own a whole lot of terrain suitable for playing it on at home, so this seemed like a solid place to start building up my collection.

What really sealed the deal though was the fact that I had two seperate friends who wanted the Warbands but not the rest of the box, making buying the box just for the terrain a very affordable proposition.

So I dived in and got to work. After a few hours of clipping and building, I ended up with this:

Not a bad start I think. The trick was working out how I could make it look good, but also making it easy to play on, especially as LOTR involves a lot of fiddly positioning.

In the end I decided to make several smaller pieces rather than making one or two large buildings, so I have maximum flexibility to change things up between games. This ran into the slight problem of there not being a whole lot of height to them though. I think I can solve this later, when I start adding extra elements beyond Warcry stuff. For now I feel it's a fairly solid core of buildings to work from.

Next came painting. I didn't want to go to nuts with the paint scheme, but I had a pretty clear idea for what I wanted. Most of GW's Middle Earth ruin terrain is painted to look like white stone, obviously going for the look of Osgliliath, or a recently captured settlement. I wanted mine to have been occupied for longer, so I wanted it to look like the filth and darkness of Mordor has really taken hold.

I decided that Cirith Ungol from Return of the King would be my best reference point, as that was built by the men of Gondor, then corrupted by Orcs.

With that in mind I started to experiment with various sprays:

This was done with Chaos Black as a base, a fairly heavy layer of Mechanicum Standard Grey sprayed on the top, followed by a light Corax White, a Nuln Oil Wash, then a light drybrush with Mechancium Grey again.

Not a bad result I reckon and it was pretty quick to do too, only taking about three hours from start to finish, including building the rest of the set at the same time. The only change I made from my first piece to my second was swapping the drybrush colour from Mechicum Standard Grey to Dawnstone:

I think that simple swap just makes the whole thing 'pop' a little more, whilst keeping the dark and dingy feel I was after.

I want to go back later to add some more browns and blacks to the deepest crevasses to get some real filth in there, but I think it looks good enough for now.

The wood was just several layers of Seraphim Sepia over Corax White. It's a ridiculously simple method, even if building up the layers takes a little while. Definitely one I need to remember in future projects.

So that's mostly what I've been working away at. Nothing too massive, but now that things have quietened down elsewhere in my life, it'll hopefully mean that I can find the time to get some projects finished.

I've currently got the next couple of terrain pieces, some Corsairs, plus a few other characters on my painting desk, so I should be able to get those done pretty soon. Hopefully you can expect slightly more regular updates coming up. Hopefully.

Wednesday 7 August 2019

Army in a week and other projects.

I've had a weird and crazy couple of weeks. I've gone from being super productive, to being pretty ill, then came a ridiculous heatwave which meant that I struggled to find the motivation to hobby. Now that's eased off I'm finding that after really having to work hard in order to get back into swing of painting, I'm back in a super productive mood.

The big thing which I've gotten done was painting pretty much the entire Fellowship of the Ring in the space of a week:

My motivation for this was the monthly Middle Earth night at my local gaming shop. Five days before the latest one, I decided that I wanted to field something a bit different to my Rohan and Army of the Dead, so I had a look atwhat I had to hand which I could get done in time. The only member I had painted prior to this was Aragorn (who I want to repaint at some point), but I had the models for all the Fellowship knocking about, so I thought "why not" and went from there.

I surprised myself a little with how well they turned out, considering that they were more or less a speed paint. I obviously want to go back at some point and spruce them up a bit, but on the whole, I'm pretty chuffed with them.

I even managed to get a few pics of the game itself. I got smashed after a few bad tactical decisions, but it was good fun.

The best moment was easily when Merry and Sam managed to drive back the Balrog all by themselves, after reinforcements didn't arrive and the Balrog fluffed his rolls!

"You shall not pass!"

On top of that admitedly decent amount of progress, I also got a couple of Rangers of the North painted up for my Grey Company list:

These are more of a side project than anything. I figure that I already have Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli for my Fellowship and Return of the King forces, so I might as well paint a couple of Rangers so I could field the Grey Company if I wanted to.

These were nothing fancy, just a single night's work plus a few minutes doing their bases, but they've turned out pretty well. I've got another half a dozen or so to finish up, plus Halbarad and a Mounted Aragorn to make my fifth Middle Earth army. That's kind of ridiculous when you consider that I only picked up the game in February!

I've noticed that the nature of LOTR, with various heroes available in multiple army lists, makes it almost far too easy to just stray into another army project without even thinking about it. I'm already thinking that I should pick up some Hobbits, as I've already to a decent amount of heroes who could lead them. This rabbit hole just keeps getting deeper and deeper!

On top of all that, I even made little more progress on my friend's Nurgle stuff:

Not as much as I wanted, but luckily he's not too bothered on how long it takes to get them done. I wanted to have at least the Plaguebearers and Nurglings ready for the game we had a few weeks ago, but real life interfered on that one. I'm going to see if I can finish them in the next couple of weeks though. All I really need to do is pick out some details using 'standard' painting techniques, then finish the bases and I'll have a good chunk of them done. Then I can work on some of his characters, which should be a bit more fun.

I'm loving how the green turned out and it was wonderfully simple to do. It was just two/three layers of Waywatcher Green on a Corax White undercoat, followed by a 2:3 mix of Contrast Medium and Militarum Green. I certainly like the result a lot better than my previous experiments without Medium. There's a good amount of the Waywatcher showing through, really pushing the highlights which Contrast is meant to create anyway.

This is turning into quite a long post, but there is one final thing which I've gotten finished.  If you remember last post, I talked about using Trello to organise my hobby progress. Well it actually paid off:

All that needed doing to my second Sonic Dreadnought was attaching the missile arm, but I've been forgetting all about it for about 18 months now. There's always been something more interesting to distract me, especially as I took a long break from playing 40k last year.

I decided to give it a bit of a spruce up whilst I was there and pick out a few extra highlights and details. Nothing fancy, but just making it 'pop' a bit more. Completing it means I've only got a couple more models to paint and and I'll have 2000 points of painted Emperor's Children ready to go, which is one of my goals for this year. It also proves my new organisational system works, which is rather nice to know.

That's all for now, but you can see I've been pretty busy, despite my motivation taking a nosedive for a while. It was only when I was writing this post that I realised just how much I've managed to bounce back. I didn't realise just how much I'd gotten through until I was writing it all down!

Hopefully this productive streak continues. I've got some something in the works which should occupy me for a little while. I'm pretty excited about it, so that'll probably be going into my next post. Getting back into a hobby groove again has also fired up my enthusiasm for blogging again, so that should be pretty quick in coming.

Until then: happy hobbying!

Wednesday 17 July 2019

Organisation is important

Just a quick one today. I just wanted to share some musings on how I'm planning to try and clear my hobby backlog.

I've decided I need to be more organised in the way in which I hobby. 

Some of you might remember that at the start of the year I pledged to get some fully painted armies finished by the end of 2019. It's a great goal to have and somewhat aided by my resolution to only game with fully painted models. 

The huge problem with that plan is that I'm a a massive hobby butterfly. The name of my blog should have tipped you off to that one. I go to sit down to work on a project and more often than not get distracted by something else which catches my attention. As a result I do a lot of hobby, but not much actually gets finished.

So how do I solve this? Well I listen to a lot of hobby podcasts and one of them came up with an idea which might actually work. Someone on the Independent Characters podcast mentioned using a workflow app to help track their hobby projects, listing all the stuff they have to do and moving them through the columns as they complete them.

I figured it's worth a try so I downloaded Trello onto my phone and made a list of all the hobby projects I've got to do and half finished projects which I know I have laying around:

Yes, there's a lot of them. That's not even half of my backlog!

I broke each project down broadly into building, painting and basing. I broke some of them down even further, depending on what they were. Some of them are silly little things which I never seem to ever get around to doing like 'stick Missile Launcher on my Dreadnought'. Others are as vague as 'paint this squad', but everything's on there. When they're done, I just need to move the task to the 'done' column.

The theory is that as long as I'm working on something on that list when I sit down to do hobby, I'm making progress on clearing my backlog, as well as giving me ome kind of visual reference point on how much progress I'm making beyond the painting points which I already do. It also forces me to think before I get distracted and start on something new.

Once I've ticked off 20-30 of these tasks, I plan treat myself by buying something new. By then I should have made enough positive progress that it'll be a net gain on my painting points.

I think it's a pretty solid idea, although there's really only one way to find out if it'll work.

 What do you reckon? How do you organise your hobby and stay on track with things?

Thursday 4 July 2019

A rambling and non-exhaustive experiment with Contrast

I'm going to be setting some time aside to try and actually get some blogging done. I find running this blog really rewarding to do, but the problem is that it becomes too much of a chore when I start falling behind. In theory if I can catch up on things, it should keep the flow of motivation going. That's the idea anyway.

I've actually been up to a fair amount of hobby recently, but to be honest the main project on my painting table atm isn't even my own models. I managed to bring a friend into 40k in the latter half of last year through the Conquest magazine subscription, but he really doesn't have much time to paint anything due to family commitments. So I offered to step in and get some stuff done for him.

 I will admit to a couple of ulterior motives here. Firstly, it's an excellent excuse to have an experiment with the Contrast paint range. It's also a cheeky way to bump up my painting points!

Regardless of my other reasons though, helping a mate get his army painted was my main reason for doing this. Being able to play with two fully painted armies on our gaming nights is really nice thought. Plus it lets me paint something completely different to what I normally work on. I've been feeling the early signs of burnout on my painting recently, so hopefully a chance of pace and style will help me with that.

Anyway, onto the models.

I started with the basics. Poxwalkers are being used in GW stores to demonstrate the new paint range, so I figured was a solid place to start:

These were already half done before Contrast was even announced, using the traditional 'base, wash, highlight' method. It was such a laborious process though that it was taking forever, even for such a basic paint job. With Contrast, all it took was quick blitz with Militarum Green, Gulliman Flesh and Magos purple and I was able to finish them up in a matter of hours. I followed those with a few quick drybrushes, picked out a few details like the boils and guts, then just added a bit of Blood for the Blood God and I think they look pretty good. They're certainly not going to be winning any painting awards, but they're a decent tabletop standard.

Tbh this kind of thing is what I see as the main use I'll be getting out of the new range. I'll probably end up using them to skip the boring and tedious stages in a paint job, but then going over them and finishing them off with more traditional methods. It'll be used to speed up what I was doing already, instead of replacing it.

Next I decided to see what it could do on Marine armour, so I decided to apply Militarum Green over the Waywatcher Green base colour I'd been building up on one of his Plague Marines:

I think you'll agree that it looks pretty effective! Considering the Waywatcher 'preshade' I'd applied, it wasn't really any quicker than my previous method, but it gets a far more consistent result than I was getting with the Colea Greenshade layer I was going to add next.

Here's the whole squad:

The armour, skin and mutations were all picked out in various contrast paints, whilst the gold was done using more traditional methods. They're obviously still a work in progress, but the ability to add awkward colours easily means that I'm actually feeling motivated to push forward with them, rather than seeing those stages as something to be dreaded.

Next I decided to give it a try over existing washes. This was what I was most excited to attempt, as I do a lot of painting with washes over a simple white base coat, so I was interested to see how I could improve on that method:

The shell on Slimex's snail was just Magos Purple over a couple of layers of Druchii Violet, As you can see it's made a really solid and vibrant result. It seems to have just enhanced the colour rather than overpowering it. I might still go over it with a bit of a drybrush, but I'd be happy just to leave it at that stage tbh. I'm probably going to paint the rest of the model using non-Contrast techniques tbh.

So all in all, I'd say Contrast is definitely a useful tool in my painting kit. I don't think I'd ever paint a model just using Contrast as many people are doing, but it's certainly going to improve what I'm already doing.

One thing I definitely want to try next is using it over metallic basecoats to see how that goes. I've seen a lot of people produce some excellent results doing that, so I've got high hopes. That will have to wait though. I've got way too many projects on the go atm to veer off into that particular rabbit hole right now.

That's all for today. It wasn't the most comprehensive of posts, more just some random musings and experimentation. Hopefully I'll find the time to post again soon. Like I said earlier, I want to try and get a regular posting schedule up and running. Fingers crossed that I succeed!

Tuesday 4 June 2019

A cornicopia of chaos

I've been pretty busy recently, both hobby-wise and in real life, so yet again the blog has fallen a little to the wayside. I'd promise to rectify this in future, but quite frankly we both know it's about 50/50 whether that will actually happen.

So what have I been up to? Well for a start I've been painting some Shadowspear stuff. I actually got the box set on the day of release and painted a lot of it really quickly, I just haven't really had the time to get the stuff posted up on here (more on that later).

 Of course I couldn't resist kitbashing the Master of Possession into something a little more Slaaneshi. I replaced the backpack icon and staff top with some Deamonette bits I had laying around. It's only a few simple changes, but I think it changes the character of him massively, really bringing out the shamanic nature of the model. Thus Ashur Karr, Fleshmaster of the Glorious Host was born.

Of course he then needed some deamonic minions to accompany him:

The Greater Possessed was just painted straight from box, with no modification. Something of a rarity from me. This particular sculpt really is the star of all the new releases in my opinion, up there in quality with the Forge World Gal Vorbak. It's a shame that the other one you get in the box really doesn't reach the same standard, but I suppose I can't have everything. I may try and do something with the alt sculpt to improve it at some point, but I'll have to see.

You'll notice that I painted him in Sons of Horus colours rather than Emperor's Children. That's because I love the idea of the Possessed in my force being prisoners rather than willing hosts. I got the idea from 'Black Legion' by ADB and it really stuck with me. I like to think of him as some hapless XVIth Legion warrior taken by Karr during the Legion Wars and kept as a favoured pet in some twisted form of sentimentality

Finally out of the model from the box which I've finished, we had the Venomcrawler. Again, it's a fantastic model. I want another two of them eventually. I'm really happy with how this one turned out though:

I love the way that the garish pink of the EC's makes the model look even more disturbing than it already was. Plus the look on my opponent's face when I deploy a giant pink and gold deamonic spider is priceless!

As you can see, I've been pretty busy. I did manage to build some Chosen from the Chaos Marines in the set too, but I'm holding off on painting them until the new Contrast paints come out so I can have a bit of an experiment. The Obliterators are remaining unbuilt until they get a points reduction, as I already have three of them and I see no point in blowing 575 points on fielding five of them!

I've also been busy building a Lord of the Rings Rohan force for an event which a friend hosted, but I'll cover that in my next post, along with the event itself. To be honest I've probably got enough stuff to catch up on blogging about and projects in the works to fill a dozen or so posts, it's just a matter of finding the time to write them. I might make catching up on blogging a mini hobby goal for this summer. I certainly find my hobby motivation shoots up when I'm blogging regularly, I just never seem to get around to it.

Anyway that's it for now. Happy Hobbying!

Wednesday 3 April 2019

The way is shut...

I've been a bit quiet on here recently. Not because I've had nothing to show you, but more because I've been too busy to find time to update the blog! The last month has been a bit of a wild ride, trying to stop my painting points getting completely out of control. Not only are the new Chaos releases beautiful and tempting, but I've also picked up an entirely new game:

Yup, I've started Lord of the Rings. Being a massive Tolkien nerd, I've wanted to play it ever since it came out in the early 2000's, but noone in my circle of gaming friends played it, so I've never really had the chance. That changed a few months back when a group at my local gaming shop started a monthly meet up for it. It really didn't take much to suck me in. I had a test game of Rohan vs Uruk Hai and I was hooked. Two days later I went halves on the Pelannor Fields boxed set with someone and started trawling ebay for various metal characters.

Whilst I want Rohan to be my main force, I decided to start simple and paint the Army of the Dead from the starter box. They really didn't take long to get finished. I just did a few green washes, followed by a Hellion Green drybrush. Whilst they won't be winning any painting awards, I think they turned out looking great and it give me a solid 400 points to start playing with.

My next step will be painting the Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas models which I nabbed from Ebay so I can field the Return of the King Legendary Legion and take me to 600 or 700 points. Not bad considering I only started the game at the end of February!

Whilst learning the game, I've been a little surprised at how popular and robust the fan community for it still is. The Middle Earth SBG fanbase have really kept themselves to themselves over the years, especially compared to the 40k and AoS fandom, but it's still a massive community. The level of dedication and hobby love out there for the game really is amazing and that makes me even more excited to finally be able to join in!

On top of all this, I've also been working my way through the Shadowspear box for 40k, but I'll show you that next post. I'm hoping to try to up my frequency of posting too, so that shouldn't be too long in coming.

Wednesday 6 March 2019

Slaaneshi Obliteration

As always seems to be the case, I started working on my own version of a unit, then GW go and reveal a much nicer updated version of it!

That hasn't stopped me from finally getting around to painting my converted Obliterators though

Granted they might need a rebasing when the new kit launches, but other than that, i'm pretty happy with them. I think the garish colours actually make them look pretty disturbing.

I'm not sure what I'll be doing next. I might paint another unit for my EC's or Deamons whilst I wait for Shadowspear to launch, or I might crack on with that other project I've been hinting at for a while.

I'll have to see where the inspiration takes me I think. I've got a few days off work now, so I'm likely to be getting quite a bit done!

Monday 18 February 2019

A plethora of progress

 I've been pretty busy over the last couple of days. I've decided to push on with my quicker method for doing my Deamonettes, mostly because I want a chance of being able to game with my Daemons force at some point in the foreseeable future. I surprised even myself a little with how much I've gotten done though!

That's 30 Deamonettes finished over two night's worth of hobby sessions. Not bad at all and I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out. I'm so happy in fact that I'm actually considering leaving them as they are rather than going back later and improving on them later.

I also got a couple of Heralds finished too. I decided to give these the full treatment on their paint jobs, seeing as they're characters.

These actually came together really quickly, both in one sitting. I think it's down to them being such lovely sculpts. The Enrapturess in particular was a joy to paint, even though she was an absolute arse to put together. Hopefully the mere fact of her existence means that Slaanesh is going to be getting some love soon too.

I also managed to sit down and finally finish up my Eschers:

It was only a few odds and ends that needed doing, but it's still nice to have them done.

The Ultra Violets have had mixed start to the campaign, winning one game easily and losing the other quite heavily. I somewhat underestimated the power of Cawdor and their massed flamers! I managed to crawl away with no lasting injuries though, so that's always a bonus. Next time I'll be facing them on an open field rather than Zone Mortalis though, so hopefully I can get some revenge!

All in all I'd say that I've made a healthy amount of hobby progress in the past few weeks. By my count I've netted 62 points of positive progress, inching my closer to my goal of positive figures. 

Hopefully I can keep this flow of progress going, as I've got my eyes on an upcoming project that's going to knock quite a big chunk out of that. More on that later. For now I want to knock out a few more Slaanesh models before I get too distracted by other things.

Tuesday 12 February 2019

Quantity vs Quality

As I talked about in my New Year post, my goal for this year is to only play games with painted models. That's a great goal to aim for, but it's thrown up an unexpected quandry, which I want to talk about today.

My mantra when painting over the past couple of years has been to 'up my game' wherever I can. I used to be able to churn out entire armies in no time at all, but quite frankly in hindsight, they looked like garbage. I've been making a real effort to change that recently and have been trying to really improve my painting skills.

Without tooting my own horn too much, I think it's been working well for the most part. I'm certainly a lot prouder of what I've produced of late and I've had comments from several people about how much I've improved as well.

The thing is that improving my quality takes more time. Pretty obvious I know, but that's kind of at odds with what I want to achieve this year. To give you an example, my scheme for my Slaanesh Daemons looks like this:

They look great in my opinion and are exactly how I want the entire army to eventually end up looking like. the problem is though, these five models took two or three hours to get to this stage and I need fifty of them just to make my Daemon army playable.

Now compare those previous models to these:

Granted these aren't finished yet, but these took roughly an hour to get to this stage, painting mostly with washe. That's a fraction of the time it took me to do the first five, but they still look pretty decent in my opinion. They still need another layer of wash on their claws, but they're fairly close to being done. They look good as a collective group, but they're nowhere near as high quality. I'd consider them a mid-level tabletop standard.
The question I'm finding myself asking is, do I want to compromise on the overall standard of painting to help clear my backlog quickly and be able to play games with my Daemons, or do I take the time to bring them all up to a higher level?

I'm sure it's a question we've all found ourselves asking ourselves from time to time, hence why I decided to make a post about it, so I can hear other people's thoughts on the matter. 
I'm going to think this over for the next couple for days, but I'm currently leaning towards mass producing them. I can always return later and 'top them up'. Getting a shift on with my rate of finished models seems a really solid idea, especially with new projects on the horizon calling to me already.

What do you think?

Tuesday 22 January 2019

Thing are going to get loud!

After my pretty massive progress post last time, I decided to swap quantity for volume:

It's a terrible pun, but I'm not even sorry!

I picked this guy for my Emperor's Children up just before Christmas. I've tried to include stylisitic elements from the 80's models into my Emperor's Children, so this was the perfect fit.

It's a shame he doesn't come with a unique datasheet, as a model this nice really shouldn't be relegated to being a simple squad leader. As such, he's going to be use in my army as either a Sorceror or Dark Apostle as needed, inspiring the troops with his sick solo skills!

I'm really happy with how he turned out, as I was a little nervous I couldn't do the sculpt justice. Now I just need to settle down and wait for the plastic Noise Marine kit to drop.

Next up I'll be cracking on with the Necromunda stuff which I mentioned last post:

As you can see, there's not really much to do on them. It's mostly just working on their bases, so hopefully they'll be finished up pretty quickly.

With so many projects being finished up atm, I'm really on a hobby roll. Hopefully I can keep this going.

Wednesday 9 January 2019

Happy New Year!

Once again I haven't posted up here for a while. One of my New Year's Resolutions is to get back into the habit of blogging again on a regular basis, so hopefully that'll improve.

My second resolution is to try and clear my hobby backlog and bring my painting points back into positive figures, as it's getting to quite silly levels again. Easier said than done, but there's not much coming out soon that I'm aware of which could derail me too much. It's also mostly giving myself a little push on projects to finish them off, so shouldn't be too hard.

So to kick things off, here's my first completed models of the year:

I'm off to a roaring start, I'd say!

I've been working on my first Maniple for Legio Mortis on and off ever since Titanicus relaunched back in the summer, but my tendency to be a hobby butterfly meant that I kept getting distracted. The Warhounds alone have been staring at me on my hobby desk for the past two months!

In the week or so from since the new year, I've been putting in a little work on them every day and I'm really quite pleased with the results. They're fully done now, save for applying decals, which will be ordered when I get paid.

I'm particularly happy because my third resolution for this year is to only play with fully painted models wherever possible. Not only will that help me clear my backlog like I want to, it should also hopefully help me stay focused.

Next up will be my Necromunda Eschers, ready for a campaign which is starting up at my local gaming shop in the next couple of weeks.