Forge World Renegade Psyker [Update 1/31/2010]

Here's some background fluff I wrote up and thought it would be worth posting here to hopefully get feedback on what people think:
The official regiment for him was the standing Planetary Defense Force of Fortis Binary. His fatigues are leftovers from his old standard-issue PDF gear and his outer jacket is made from a heavy all-weather fabric and worn to help deal with temperature and environmental changes, both naturally-occurring or accidentally self-induced. The rubberized vest underneath his jacket is cut down from a full CBRNe/hazmat protective suit which would have been worn by one of the regular manufactorum workers of Fortis Binary before the planet fell to Chaos, but is worn by this psyker now more as a barrier to any incidental contact with contaminants or biological/mutagenic poisons in the course of combat amongst the factory and munitorium ruins.
Although this Renegade Psyker is intended to be a member of The Shriven, and my background and theme is in part based from Dan Abnett's "First and Only" novel, for everything else I'm more or less making things up as I go along. I'm somewhat in the same boat as Dave Taylor with his Blood Pact army in-progress; only not nearly as talented, artistically inspirational, well-known, or in the market for a new tattoo. Okay, I'm nowhere near in the same boat as Dave Taylor, but I'm basing my force on something Dan Abnett came up with that was inspirational enough to form a tabletop army around, except I'm lacking in the finer precise details like "official insignia," "color scheme," and "general appearance" (see below the "Dave's Got Ink" heading on the above link).

 Oh, and I'm not actually griping about the lack of particulars for The Shriven, really; I guess it's a credit to Mr. Abnett that he's talented enough to get me buying more of his novels as I find them simply based on his authorship, and also keeping a steady flow of cash into Games Workshop's coffers on impulse purchases of tiny plastic and resin miniatures - it's my own damn fault, and I'm enjoying myself!

 As to the Renegade Psyker himself, I was able to get some painting done last night and finally settled on a spot color for this guy, if not the rest of my eventual Shriven force:
 I wouldn't mind hearing people's opinions on the colors thus far - I've still got a decent amount of work to go, but I'm thinking of going with a worn dark brown leather for his belt pouches and boots, and everything else from there ought to just be finishing things up highlight-wise with some added weathering.


Tyranids, Old School Style!

 Frankly, I'm shocked I never got off my butt and wrote up a tutorial for this guy, since I essentially had the makings of one in a forum thread I started for him for a Relicnews Painting & Modeling Forum competition - but here's some stuff on a way, way "old school" Genestealer Patriarch I painted in 2007. After some additional work on him following the Relicnews P&M Forum competition, he was one of the figures I took to my first-ever Golden Demon Competition and he was fairly well received - I ended up getting a lot of nice compliments. I seem to recall being told he was an "Honorable Mention" along with all my other entries, but I'll admit I was a little stunned at the time by news that my Lord of the Rings entry had apparently won Silver - I had just come down to the main hall after attending a very well-presented painting seminar by Jérémie Bonamant-Teboul, and someone else from the West Oaks Hobby Center group I rode with to Chicago came up and told me about my Gandalf LotR entry.

 I was more or less like a deer caught in the headlights from about that point until the bus ride back towards home. My Patriarch did actually make First Cut but never got pictures taken of him by GW staff as far as I know, and likewise never made it onto the US GW website or into the White Dwarf magazine issue later that year. While seeing this guy in print would've been nice, I do realize it's a very old, very ugly figure (which I personally think is part of the charm) and there's also the fact that the Brood Lord had just come out in the Tyranid Codex released that year - they essentially fulfill a similar role in the "fluff," and of course Games Workshop would choose to play up a newly-released figure with new rules as opposed to a pure lead casting out-of-production relic from the late 80's.

Without further ado, here's something like a work-in-progress thread but without all the excess verbiage:

Here's the final version of my Genestealer Patriarch that ended up going to the 2007 Chicago Golden Demon Competition:

And for anyone who's curious, here's most of the color recipes I used in painting him up:

Patriarch Skin:
  • Basecoat 2:1:1 Vallejo Model Color Deck Tan/Games Workshop Skull White/Games Workshop Purple Ink
  • Layer 4:2:1 Deck Tan/Skull White/Purple Ink
  • Layer 2:1 Deck Tan/Skull White +1 drop Purple Ink @ 1:10 ink/thinner consistency
  • Layer 2:2 Deck Tan/Skull White + 1 drop Purple Ink @ 1:10 ink/thinner concentration
  • Wash with 1:1 GW Codex Grey/VMC Russian Uniform @ 1:20 paint/thinner consistency
  • Wash with 1:20 Vallejo Game Color Hexed Lichen @ 1:20 paint/thinner consistency
  • Highlight 2:2 Deck Tan/Skull White + 1 drop Hexed Lichen @ 1:10 paint/thinner consistency
  • Add + 1 drop of VMC White to above mixture and highlight
  • Extreme highlight with 2 drops VMC White + 1 drop Hexed Lichen at 1:10 paint/thinner consistency

  • Basecoat 2:2:1 GW Black/VGC Hexed Lichen/GW Ultramarine Blue
  • Layer 2:1:1 Ultramarine Blue/Black/Hexed Lichen
  • Layer 2:1 Ultramarine Blue/Hexed Lichen
  • Add + 2 drops of Deck Tan to above mixture and highlight carapace edges
  • Highlight edges 1:2 Ultramarine Blue/Deck Tan
  • Add + 2 drops of VMC White to above mixture and extreme highlight carapace edges
  • Line in between carapace patterning with 2:1:1 Chaos Black/Ultramarine Blue/Hexed Lichen at 1:20 paint/thinner consistency
  • Repeat lining-in of extreme shaded areas with above mixture

  • Basecoat with 1:1 GW Red Gore/Chaos Black
  • Paint initial striations with +1 drop of VMC Buff/Russian Uniform @ 1/10 paint//thinner consistency to above mixture
  • Layer additional striated highlights with + 1 drop of Deck Tan to the above mixture

  • Basecoat crystal sides with 1:1 GW Dark Angels Green/thinner
  • Layer side opposite light source with + 6 drops of GW Striking Scorpion Green added to above mixture
  • Add + 1 drop DA Green to above mixture and layer next adjacent crystal face
  • Add + 1 drop of DA Green to above mixture and layer opposite adjacent crystal face
  • Repeat above steps with + 1 drop of DA Green added until all crystal faces are painted
  • Darken interior of crystal faces depending on appearance with glaze of GW Green Ink at 1:20 ink/thinner consistency
  • Extreme highlight crystal edges with 3:1:10 DA Green/Green Ink/thinner

Tyranids, Both Old and New

 Ron from ++From the Warp++ recently asked for people to forward entries related to Tyranids for an upcoming collaborative post from the community (which I'll link to when it happens - he's dependable like that). I realized that I don't really have a lot of older material on my site that I refer to, or have so much as linked to since changing the news item entry format of my painting website from old-fashioned manual HTML editing of every single update to a newer, fancier layout using a Blogger blog as the "centerpiece."

 A short while after I got back into miniature painting again as a hobby, Games Workshop released their Battle for Macragge set, with a force of Space Marines and an opposing force of Tyranids (along with some excellent scenery and introductory rules for playing 4th Edition 40K so straightforward that even I could follow along - it's been a year or two now, but I went back and got everything out and actually played through the first few missions with our then-4-year-old daughter, even). At the time, I was considering the Tyranids as a choice of army to play the game with regularly - in hindsight, it's probably just as well I settled on something else, because if I had stuck with them and continued painting them in the style and color scheme I had chosen, I probably would've given up on army painting in no time flat. As it is, I'm still working on getting 500 points of something finished and playable, but I've done a lot of display-quality painting since that time and still haven't been scared away from the game.

 What I did do, though, was write up a number of tutorials as I worked my way through some of the Battle for Macragge figures. They're still valid and linked to on my Tutorials page, even though I've moved on quite a bit painting-wise since then. I wrote one up for both a Tyranid Infestation Marker and an Exploding Spore Mine, and even went so far as to try out a few (minorly) different color schemes for the exposed fleshy areas:

 I'd actually been thinking about revising my old Tyranid color scheme recently, even before Ron put out a request. After sorting through my bitz collection for the sake of gathering up parts to use for my Chaos Warband, I found that other than the Tyranid pieces that came with the Macragge set, I actually have enough to assemble what appears to be one of the larger Monstrous Creatures (a Warrior, maybe?) and then there's a metal Brood Lord someone gave me! The recent White Dwarf cover was the clincher, though (or should I say "the artwork for the new Tyranid Codex"?) in that it's got everything I had ever originally envisaged for a unique flesh tone-based color scheme but didn't have the experience to paint back in '05. Pallid veiny flesh, mottled carapace in a mixture of bruise-like colors, and one of my favorite contrast colors: glowing, sickly yellow-green; What's not to like?

 I'm going to take a stab at speed painting a "new and improved" 'Nid color scheme for an in-progress painting competition over on the RelicNews Painting & Modeling Forum with an airbrush that's been gathering dust in our basement since my birthday in August. I've never used an airbrush before, but ideally I'll end up with this skin color...
 ...looking something like this skin color by the competition due date:

Here's hoping!


How to Make Your Own Iconography and Put It On... Stuff, part 1.5

 It's been a little while since I've updated my tutorial on making and using custom iconography with different materials (actually, it's rather frightening that six months or so have gone by since I put up the first part here), and in that time I've accomplished several goals: I've been able to get a final finalized version of the iconography I want to use; been able to get my hands on full-size clear background high-quality waterslide decal paper from a RC/hobby store local to my current short-term contract job; and I've been able to print out my new-and-revised decal document accurately on a higher-end laser printer after some tweaking. At this point I can say I'm fairly happy with the output results, which is kind of why I put the tutorial on hold initially - I wanted to have some sort of usable finished version to show as an example, more or less just to make the whole thing have a definite point of reference that might be readily accessible to people reading other than writing things up entirely based on discussed concepts.

 I'll be finishing fleshing out the original post at this point, but here's an image of the current, finalized icon sheet so you can see where I'm headed with this:

 One interesting thing I've found is that a Word doc laid out with the images actually prints up cleaner than an Adobe .PDF of the same file - I'm assuming due to compression.

 As an aside, I've made a number of attempts at carving some sort of duplicable stamp of my insignia in different forms, but the bottom line is that carving details accurately at 6mm square or thereabouts for it to fit properly on CSM shoulder pads is just a little too fiddly for me to get shapes right, even splitting it up into components parts for multiple stamps, using size 1 linoleum cutting blades, or carving things to shape with a #10 blade and a low-temp pyrogravure. (On the other hand, I've refined my plastic carving/shaping skills as a result... muahaha!)

 I'd imagine that sort of thing might be workable in a much larger size or with a very simplistic insignia, but it's much cheaper in time and hassle getting a custom-manufactured stamp or something made from an image if that was the case. The down-side is that the initial source image needs to be at least 300 dots per inch (dpi) and in strict vector graphic form (Adobe .PSD format or something similar) to get a rubber stamper made of non-copyrighted iconography - for me that rules out outlines, multiple colors, or any of the sorts of things I'm trying to accomplish being easily duplicable but I can carry over in non-stamped format. Most of the places/dealers I've contacted locally (and there aren't many) also would make it as a "complete" stamper, including ink reservoir, handle, stamping block, etc. Ideally I'd only want the laser-cut/die-cut rubber stamp itself as I already have the rest at hand, and for a 1/2" by 1/2" custom-manufactured stamper, they cost locally about $15 upwards. Much better and more cost-effective for me to get a suitable black waterslide decal sheet for $4.25 and use my existing template document (now tweaked for Letter-sized paper!) to print 'em en masse.


Relative Killy Virtues of CSM Power "Stuff"

 Apparently by trying to tweak my CSM Codex-standard 500 point army list a bit so far as the retinue of Khorne Berserkers accompanying my Undivided Chaos Lord into battle, I seem to have hit on a very polarizing topic in the community under 5th Edition Warhammer 40K rules: the relative killy virtues of Power Fists vs. Power Weapons.

 The scenario is that my Chaos Lord and a smallish number of Berzerkers (say, 5, one of whom is a Skull Champion) are piled into a Rhino APC to rush across the battlefield, pile out under cover of smoke grenades and supporting firepower and then run at a charge, howling for blood to be spilt and frothing at the mouth with maniacal anticipation.

 All things working out as planned, so the Berzerkers have Furious Charge with a bonus to Init. and Str. and an additional Attack for initiating the assault. The Chaos Lord does his bloodletting, but let's assume that there are more than enough warm bodies with pulses still standing for the Berzerkers to have their fun.

 Now if I'm understanding correctly, if the Skull Champion had a Power Weapon he would get all his attacks at a slightly higher Init. the first Assault turn, get a bonus Attack for the pistol in his off hand, an extra attack for the charge, and any hits would ignore enemy armor saves. A lot of potential hits at better-than-MEQ Initiative, in other words.

If I tooled out the Skull Champion with a Power Fist, however, he would attack with a 10 Str, get an extra attack for the charge, and cause
Instant Death to MEQ's. The down side is that in current 5th Ed. rules he wouldn't get an off-hand weapon attack unless he had another Power Fist, a Lightning Claw, or something similar. Oh, and he'd strike dead last in Initiative order with all his Power Fist attacks - there's not much point in saying he'd use his Bolt Pistol for all his carnage just for
the sake of running with a higher Init. since that kinda defeats the whole point of having him assigned a Power Fist, you can't split Assault attacks between weapons rules-wise, and the Fist is so much more intimidating.

 With only 5 Berzerkers and a worst-case scenario, the unit might all be dead before the Champion is even able to get medieval on the squad's intended victims with his Fist. Myself (being an absolute novice player), I think it would make more sense to have as many attacks at as high an Init. as possible and be able to cut through armor like butter. Judging from what I've read on various 40K-related forums, the majority opinion favors Power Fists versus Power Weapons.

 What do you folks think? I'm wondering what would be better for my small CSM force-in-progress. So far as modelling, I've got either extra-killy Power "stuff" option covered with a planned conversion for my Skull Champion.


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