2012 Chicago Games Day and Golden Demon Stuff

  I went to the GW Chicago Games Day this year with some friends and entered 4 figures in the Golden Demon competition. I am happy to say that all four made First Cut and that I won a Silver Demon for my entry in the Lord of the Rings category, a Dead Marsh Spectre!

  I finally got a chance to sit down this morning and take and edit pictures of my entry, and am in the process of taking and editing pictures of my other Golden Demon entries. (I also managed to take a decent number of pics of other entries in the competition, most of which managed to turn out halfway decent - editing those now, as well.) I'm not even going to go into my opinion of the Demon area design this year versus when I last entered stuff back in '07 and '08, other than to say that the figure cases were much improved even if the area itself was horribly laid out for viewing and I think actively contributed to the perpetually long line present all day.

Without further ado, pictures of my Dead Marsh Spectre LotR entry:

  For what it's worth, here's my "new" photo editing process: I took single pictures of the figure from all sides under 3 100-watt Reveal bulbs (a little closer in the front, also doubled image size for all pics), used the automagic Color Balance (didn't bother with cutting back on the red shift a little like I used to do), duplicated the image in 3 layers, adjusted the Histogram settings for the upper two layers (the first with adjusted high and low value range, 1.0 Gamma and -2 Midtone Compression - the second with the same high and low value ranges, 1.2 Gamma and -2 Midtone Compression), middle layer transparency of 70%, upper layer transparency of 60%, merging of all layers, editing Sharpness (Radius 0.6, Strength 100, Clipping 10), and auto image Clarification. Suggestions appreciated from anyone who has more experience with editing or color balancing photos!

  I'll be posting pictures of the rest of my entries as I can, also work-in-progress photos of a commission I'm currently working on for 5 very cool 101 Schwere SS-Panzerabteiling Tiger I tanks from the Flames of War game.


Last WFB Empire Amethyst Wizard WIP

 At this point, I think I can safely say that I've put as much work as I'd like into this Empire Amethyst Wizard without going too over the top, being totally nitpicky and fiddling with things to the point that I've done with previous competition painting figures.

 The base is finished with texture added, now painted, and a "spot color" element to tie the green areas together in a "triad" of sorts so the color looks balanced with the majority purple/violet in the rest of the figure's coloring. With input from Brandt over at Toadkiller Miniatures and my wife, the back of the figure now looks much less bland and "boring" that in previous postings.

 I think the liquid appearance effect I attempted in the flask turned out nicely, and while I'm not completely sold on the glass appearance effect I tried on the upper part of the flask (mostly due to the wonky bottle shape, or at least that's the official reason), I think that turned out reasonably well also.

Here's a pic of the wizard prior to spray sealing (a little fuzzy due to the image being taken on my iPhone):

Feedback, suggestions and comments would all be greatly appreciated. As per my intent with this guy to paint him up specifically for sale (as opposed to "for keeps"), I'll post details of the auction and such when I get that aspect of things together - haven't sold any painted figures of mine online yet (outside of commissions) so I'm looking forward to this!


Nearly-Finished WFB Empire Amethyst Wizard

 Awright - a roundup of changes/additions since the last posting about this guy: I added another slight highlight to a few select skin areas - bridge/tip of nose, knuckles, etc. I added shading to the gold skull at the top of his scythe and used the same sepia/burnt umber wash color to add a little more definition to his skin tones, especially depressions like his mouth, between his fingers, sides of his face, arm areas where they blend back into his sleeves, etc. I used the same dirty/rusty color on the blade and back end of his scythe on both sides, although why it shows up darker on the right side pic versus the left I have no idea. A light drybrushing/wetbrushing of Mithril Silver on the top edges and in striations down the scythe blade.

 I worked up smooth transitional highlights on his outer cloak with a thinned-down 1:1:1 GW Space Wolf Grey/VGC Hexed Lichen/GW Black Ink mixture, and then glazed the whole thing several times once dry with GW Badab Black - it's a nice paint when you balance the figure so it can dry evenly into depressions w/o tide pools. I also added striations on his beard with the original purple/grey highlight color I worked up to on his outer cloak.

 I worked up the wood grain on the wood of his scythe with fine lines of GW Graveyard Earth, 1:2 Graveyard Earth/Bleached Bone, VGC Sepia Ink, and then a slight glaze of thinned down VGC Sepia Ink to tie it all together more.

 As for the bottle, the highlights and interior "glass" color are painted on (minus a little glossiness from my paint thinners) - never tried anything like this before (it's quite a bit different from painting simple gemstones, I tell ya) and I'm really curious what you guys think of the finished bottle. I added more of a color fade from light to dark on the vivid green of the liquid in the bottle, too, as a part of tidying up the darker glass areas. If anyone wants more detail on the painting or colors used, just ask!

 I've got a little something decorative planned for the base so as to balance out the other greens with a "triad" of spot color. Aside from that, I'm thinking just plain muddy dirt appearance and a few patches of burnt-colored static grass. I had been considering some freehand to make it more saleable, but I think I've already put in more time and effort than I'm likely to get back in an auction for him so I don't think I'll do any of that, but I think the base decoration will be pure win... and who knows, I might actually get some decent bids out of it with a long enough auction.

 Would and of you readers familiar with selling figures online recommend a Buy Price or some such on eBay (or are there better mini auction sites, even?) - I still haven't sold any mini-related stuff via that route in all this time, so this guy will likely be my first. I was thinking a minimum price of at least $19.95 US - I don't consider that to be excessive considering he's a high-end tabletop character model, I put a fair amount of time and work into him... and I've no idea what to expect.


WFB Empire Amethyst Wizard

 Lately I've been painting with and helping out Brandt of Toadkiller Miniatures. Looking through my collection of figures I could work on in a similar manner to sell online or locally, it put me in mind of a way-old GW Empire Wizard I basecoated 'round about 2007 along with a way-old plan to work on this guy, sell him, and post the results as I went along. He's painted as a member of the Amethyst College of Magic, according to Warhammer Fantasy background.

Without further ado, here's my current progress:

 I can't really write up what I've done because in the past few days I've had a flurry of activity working on it. I can say that I have tried the recently-released GW color range, and that the roses have benefited from highlights with GW Emperor's Children layer paint and glazes/washes/lining in with GW Druchii Violet shade color in addition to the old GW Baal Red Wash.

 The skin was highlighted up with a mixture of 1:1:1 Reaper MS Bright Skin Highlight/Vallejo Model Color Deck Tan/Vallejo Game Color Skin Wash ink thinned to a 1:4 paint/thinner consistency, and then having a few drops of GW Skull White added and then suitably thinned - I went up a few steps in color on the skin, adding more skull white until I got to the final highlights on tip of nose, knuckles, etc.

 The cloth strips and hood had previously been colored and shaded a dirty cream color, and overall just weren't working in terms of the overall scheme. I went back over them with a mixture of thinned Vallejo GC Hexed Lichen, Hexed Lichen with a few drops of GW Bleached Bone as a next layer, and then with Emperor's Children added to the mix in a separate palette well with additional drops of Bleached Bone. I went back and forth with these three thinned colors for a while until I had gotten shaded areas darker purple, mid-tone areas the second color set, and highlights a combination of the 2nd/3rd color sets with pure Emperor's Children/Bleached Bone as sparse edge highlighting.

 The next biggest change was switching the color of the liquid in the vial from my original purple to an unhealthy green - I actually had the liquid fully painted using similar colors to what I used on the cloth and hood, but all the purple on the figure seemed all too close together and too similar in shade. I decided (well, mostly my wife suggested and I agreed) to go with a poisonous green color for the liquid so as to not have things too monochromatic, as well as balance out the green of the vines on the scythe and a presumed green something-or-other on the base when all's said and done to have a spot color "triad."

 Oh, and since my painting skill has improved over the past while, I'm going to try for a "glass" appearance on the non-liquidy part of the flask. I'd also like to put some minimal freehand work on him somewhere, but am undecided as to exactly where and exactly what - I'm not really as familiar with GW's Warhammer Fantasy game as I am with Warhammer 40K.

Feedback would be greatly appreciated! Moreso, since I'd ideally like to sell/auction this guy off without a specific commission for him, which is something I've not actually done for any of my painted figures yet, surprisingly enough.


Something Wicked This Way Comes

 I've gotten back into painting again after another absence (been working a 60hr up-at-4am-every-morning job since last September, but am now laid off) and am motivated to get some sort of 40K army painted, even if a small one, that I can game with. I came to the realization that out of all the half-finished projects, a Necron force I've had shelved since 2008 was the furthest along and, more importantly, the easiest to really get cracking with in terms of cutting corners and just getting them done! I've not really done "army style" painting before, but with these Warriors I did one step at a time on each figure on the batch of 5 until I got 'em done to move on to the next step.

 This current batch of Warriors have now all been painted over the base color with shading, several layers of highlight, and the glow effects more or less fleshed out. I'm normally better at writing down color recipes so I can go back to things after the fact, but for some reason I never jotted notes on doing the glow color or the greenish physical corrosion on these guys. I've had to reinvent a painting recipe and color progression for both of those, and made a few other tweaks besides since I've picked up new colors - and, um, additional painting skills - since I last set brush to these guys almost 4 years ago. I'm planning a replacement for the one hand of the guy with the spiky growths from his upper left body - I decided I just wasn't happy with the closed fist made from the hand sawn off from a gauss glayer stock - I just need to figger out what would look good in its place, since the other arm is angled out slightly.

 Although painted in advance of the rest of the troops, the Necron Lord pretty much follows the same scheme but has had a bit more conversion. I'm aiming to have the wrappings on his staff and his cloak painted to resemble flayed skin. Oh, and he's also magnetized, so I can swap out the Ressurection Orb in his hand and both ends of his staff in case I want to change his equipment for a 40K game. He has has had some revisions recently, primarily since the magnetized hand holding the Resurrection Orb wouldn't stay pinned/glued on and kept snapping off. I drilled deeper/thinner pin holes, swapped out the metal forearm for a plastic Necron one, and then drilled/pinned the other end with the hand as well. I like the end result, because his arm is now slightly exaggerated in length in addition to having the corrupted claws.

 I did pick up the new GW Necron Codex, but haven't really read through it much or done much research on quality/competitive units with which to game. At this point, I'm just going for the basic Lord w/ Res. Orb, Staff of Light and two(?) squads of Warriors. I'd ideally like to hit 500 points, so I can at least start with small games. I'm also working on accompanying Scarabs, but need 3 more finished bases before I can field those as a valid unit under the newest rules.

 I'd greatly appreciate feedback, in that I'm thinking the (unfinished) Lord looks a little bland - maybe I need to do something more with the claw arm to play it up a bit? The Orb and Staff of Light are going to get a green glowy effect so I'm not so worried about those, but he otherwise just seems kinda "flat" to me and I don't know what to do about it.


Verlinden Carabinier General Bust

I've been working fairly consistently on the Verlinden Carabinier General bust that I posted about in my last wntry. There's actually a number of reasons I haven't yet posted a progress update for a few reasons, and none of them have to do with me not painting - quite the opposite!
  1. Although (near as I can tell) the masking off of the painted areas in preparation for airbrushing went excellently - as in, the Tamiya thin yellow masking tape was neatly applied and any remaining gaps covered over with tiny amounts of UHU Tac - I decided not to airbrush the metallics and just tore all the masking stuff off. The reason being that I figgered any "texture" which accidentally showed up as a result of brush painting the helmet would make any weathering all the more believable/easier.
  2. Getting the colors "right" took a while. I started painting the non-steel-colored areas of the helmet a nice copper color, which sounded good based on a respectable color guide I found online - the problem is that I didn't read the guide quite carefully enough, and his helmet was "supposed" to be a "yellow copper" (i.e., brass?) instead of a thorough red-based copper with verdigris and all. I also had to come up with a copper paint recipe, since I conveniently don't have any copper paint and I was too cheap to go buy some. Turns out I found a great color mixture for copper in combining GW Dwarf Bronze and OOP GW Shining Gold... the upside to all this color tomfoolery is that his breastplate is supposed to be plated in copper as a Carabinier officer, and I figgered out the right color glazes to turn copper into more of a brass/bronze (yellow ink, sepia, GW Swooping Hawk Turquoise, GW Devlan Mud, and a bunch of other stuff I played by ear highlight-wise).
  3. I didn't want to post pictures until both sides were done. After I converted the whole helmet over to a more brassy color, I went and grunged up half of it as a test. It now looks like what I'm told is bronze, but in comparing it to samples online I'd be willing to go out on a limb and say it's rilly rilly rilly dirty brass. Whatever. When I went back to get the right side of his helmet to match the left, I didn't have the color quite right - I think I've fixed that now. Oh, and I wanted to add trompe l'oeil denting and scratch effects to his helmet, which at this scale were a little more involved than what I'm used to in painting 25mm and 28mm figs.
*deep breath*
Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated! The remaining (obvious) metal details of the helmet will be done as steel, but I'm going slowly so as to keep pace with the rest of the MHMC guys. I was about 2-3 months behind, caught up in the space of a week of frantic painting, and now I think I'm slightly ahead. I think I'm done with the face and eyes, though...


Recent Painting Stuff

 Firstly, I'd like to thank Brandt of Toadkiller Miniatures for support and encouragement recently. We met through the Michigan Historical Miniatures Club at Michigan Toy Soldier Co., and while it took me quite a while to catch up to the rest of the Club, spending some time hanging out and painting with Brandt has been very motivational.

 Secondly, I'd like to thank Dave Youngquist of Michigan Toy Soldier Co. He has been unfailingly professional, patient, and knowledgeable in answering my questions, offering critique and suggestions regarding my recent work, and just in general being a helluva painter and overall resource in terms of historical miniatures and display painting - he also organizes the MHMC.

 Third, I'd like to offer up some of my own painting! The figure that the aforementioned Club is painting is a 200mm Verlinden figure - a Napoleonic Carabinier General bust. What's nice is that it's a good mix of materials and detail; a reasonably realistic-looking face, both smooth and decorative metal areas, and several different types of fabrics. I've not worked on anything at this scale before, so my plan is to paint it up as accurately as possible and just have fun with it.

What I've done so far (out of potentially something sorta resembling the "official" paintjob and assembly here):

 It was sort of an off-the-cuff suggestion that I paint him to resemble a "zombie," but that struck my fancy as a great idea, and so that's what I'm going to run with. I don't really want to convert up my first larger-scale bust to a great extent so I'm not planning on doing any major resculpting or anything to make him more "dead"-looking. I'd also like to keep him within the bounds of what an actual French Carabinier of the Napoleonic period would've worn in terms of the color scheme, but I'm going to try and push the paintjob, the overall coloration, and the weathering effects in the direction of an "undead" theme.


Letters From Readers!

  I received emails from two readers recently (I'm pleased people still visit the site, given my lack of time to post anything at all in almost a year - thanks!) - I'm going to address those on the blog as opposed to individual responses back via email, since I think other people might get something out of it, too!

Michel M. writes:
I really like your painting and I was wondering what colours did you use for the night goblin on this page: http://home.wowway.com/~tinweasel/gw_cleaved_gobbo.html
In particular i'm looking for the olive green colour. What brand/colour is it ?

Michel Melis

  Well, as requested, here's a more-or-less accurate summary of the colors and steps I used in painting that Games Workshop Night Goblin's skin tones:
  • Basecoat 1:1 GW Catachan Green / GW Camo Green
  • Layer on 1:3 Catachan Green / Camo Green with mixture at 1:4 paint/thinner consistency
  • Highlight with 1:1 GW Bleached Bone / Camo Green with mixture at 1:4 paint/thinner consistency
  • Upper-facing highlights of 3:1 Bleached Bone / Camo Green with mixture at 1:4 paint/thinner consistency
  • Add minimal spot highlighting of 1:4 Bleached Bone / thinner 
Michael S. writes:
I just thought you should add a note to your rust tutorial stating that the bleach and vinegar solution from your rust tutorial creates chlorine gas, which is dangerous and possibly even deadly if inhaled. I tried your rust tutorial and I hope it works. I've always wanted real rust.

Michael Smith

  I'd say that's definitely worth emphasizing - when I made the rust mixture originally, per my posted tutorial, I let the ingredients sit down in the basement by themselves for several days. There was noticeable bubbling, and I left the cap of the dropper bottle in which I mixed the materials open in order to vent. While I don't think it produces a significant amount of gas - only as a by-product in proportion to the amount of ingredients used in the Rust Mixture recipe - combining any chemicals or household materials should always be approached carefully and with every precaution possible!

  As an aside, though, I've still got that bottle of "Rust" in with the rest of my paints and I use it to add color and texture to items I want to look rusty. The original figure in the tutorial, a Privateer Press Cryx Deathripper, is still holding up fine with no degradation of appearance or other ill effects even after several years at this point. In applying the Rust Mixture to a figure, you likely will still want to add a little bit of highlighting and shading to any painted-on rust patches, otherwise it looks a little bit flat, but I essentially use it much like any of my other paints. (Coincidentally enough, I used the rust mixture on the metallic pieces on the base of the Ork Nob above as part of the weathering process - likewise still holding up after several years!)

EDIT: I've updated the original Rust Mixture tutorial page with a warning as well (and cleaned up the web code a bit, too!)


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