Saturday, June 01, 2019

Painting Descent - May

Over on BGG, the Painter Guild runs a monthly "Challenge List". In April, I finally finished up everything that was left from the Labyrinth of Ruin. I didn't want to start another boxed set for my next "project" so I decided to work on a Hero and Monster pack which can be used in any Descent setting. My May goal was a modest goal of the four heroes from the Guardians of Guildhall expansion (I painted a couple of other items, but just the four heroes for my Descent project). I got them all done along with a couple of other random things. Here are my lifetime totals and the figures I finished for the month:
  • 66 monster figures done
  • 26 hero figures done
  • 12 lieutenants done
  • 27 figures done in 2019 through 22 weeks (my yearlong goal is 1/week)
And here they are: Lord Hawthorne, Mordrog, Sahla, Sillouette

There were a couple of interesting things about doing this set of heroes. First, if people are painting these, they aren't putting pictures out on the web. There was next to nothing to look at for inspiration, so I decided to mostly stick towards the reference art. 

Sahla reference art
The Sahla figure was a bit uninteresting - the reference art was cool, but the figure didn't have any kind of magic effect to paint - just a figure hovering above their braided hair. I decided to grab a piece of translucent red off a Reaper Bones figure and modified the figure to be cooler and frankly, to make sense.

The Mordrog figure is pretty cool, but his reference art sucked. It was like the only paint they gave the artist was mud. I went ahead and kept to the darker browns and played a bit with a couple of newer P3 metallic paints (which I really liked) for his armor. So at least the crappy color scheme got me to try something new. When I finally got to his axes, I didn't want to go with metal. I was originally going to lean towards stone, but while looking for anything that would give me a good idea how to get a good stone weapon look, I ran across a quick video explaining how to do ice weapons, so I gave him a couple of those.

Then there was Sillouette. Her face was a mangled mess (just a bad cast). I slapped some green stuff on her face to fix her up, but rather than trying to figure out her face, I just painted her with a scarf/mask. The last hero, Lord Hawthorne, was nothing special, the only oddity was that nothing I did seemed right. Its like every 4-5 figures I paint, one looks/feels like I just started painting. He ended up ok, but frustrated me for no apparent reason.

Not sure what I'm going to work on next month for Descent. I kind of want to do the monsters from this set, but I want to zenethil prime them first and I'm not sure I want to do that yet, so I may snag another 4 pack of heroes to work on. See you next month.

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Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Painting Descent - April

Over on BGG, the Painter Guild runs a monthly "Challenge List". March was mostly taken up with my dragon, so for April, my (Descent) goal was six figures: Carrion Drakes -  a set of three monsters and the remaining hero/lieutenant figures from the Labyrinth of Ruin expansion. I got them all done along with a couple of other random things. Here are my lifetime totals and the figures I finished for the month:
  • 66 monster figures done
  • 22 hero figures done
  • 12 lieutenants done
  • 23 figures done in 2019 through 18 weeks (my yearlong goal is 1/week)
Carrion Drakes
When I was looking for  color ideas for the drakes, I was pretty surprised that I couldn't find anything that was all that close to the reference art, so I decided to just go with that - green bodies, red backs and faces. Rather than the red tinge on the wings for all of them, I just did that only on the master version.

Raythen Hero
I really only used like one brown on Raythen - all the variations are from washes. This guy was waaaaayy more interesting than his lieutenant model.

Serena Hero
This model was pretty simple. The skin came out a bit more pale than I wanted, but I was trying something new (purple base and layered up the pale color).

Serena Lieutenant
This model was horrible. The face had almost ZERO details and it ended up looking like a four year old did it. Such a crap model. Overall, the model quality for this round of stuff from FFG was terrible. I'm glad they are all done now so I can move along to a new set of things. My plan is to jump into a Hero and Monster set instead of a full boxed set.

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Outside My Comfort Zone - Part IV

Previously on Things of No Interest - Part IPart II, and Part III...

And now - the last week of work before the contest at the AZ Game Fair!

Thur. March 21
Right side scales done Scales from the movie Dragonslayer (1981)
Doing the scales on the leg and tail felt like more work than the area from head to hip. I think in the end, my hand started cramping a little. Minus the foot and the claws (everywhere), the right side is more or less complete. I wanted to share the inspiration for the look of the scales - an inspiration from my childhood. In the 1981 movie Dragonslayer, the hero collects the dragon's shed scales to use as a shield. When the old wizard examines them, he notes the age of the dragon and how the scales were worn. The above picture is some of the actual props from the film. You can see (the scales are upside down in the picture) that the end is frayed and worn, which is what I want the scales to look like on this dragon. She's blue, but the grey-blue edges are the frayed edges. I normally dislike getting up close to my models after they've been painted, because I think it looks like crap, but on this model, as you get a little closer, you start to recognize the texture that is there. If you just stand back and look at it, you probably aren't quite getting the full effect.

As I worked on the leg I realized that I hate the feet on this model. They are quite blocky - I assume because the model needs them to be thicker to keep the sucker standing, but they look dumb. I'm starting to think  I might have to go with a snowy base for the dragon to stand on so I can cover the feet a bit. There doesn't seem to be a great way to paint them to look better.

Sun. March 24
Now with base Baby dragon skeleton
Work over the weekend didn't progress as far along as I hoped, though things went decently enough. I picked up a bottle of super glue at the Dollar Store (for a buck) and grabbed some sand from the playground next door and started working on the base for the dragon as I was getting tired of worrying about the model leaning on things and rubbing paint off. I wanted to get the dragon on the base!

I also grabbed a couple different rocks from the yard because the feet aren't even and I wanted one foot up on something. I found the perfect rock and after fiddling around with the glue and sand, finally got everything in place. LESSON LEARNED - wait for the glue to dry fully. I got a bit impatient after gluing everything and was trying to figure out what I should do about the feet, and the dragon decided to move on me. I got everything back in place, but decided I need to just walk away for a bit to let everything dry. 

I also decided I needed something more on the base. At the very least, a skull or a sword. I went to go hunt in my bin of minis and found a baby dragon skeleton that was perfect for this. It only took about 15 min to prime and paint up the skeleton (it actually had a bunch of other parts, but I like that this skeleton isn't complete). It sits perfectly between the bigger rocks and legs. Is the dragon still defending its long dead baby or mad that someone killed a dragon? Regardless, it makes for a good story. The real question is what to do about the feet - I had planned to use some snow effects to cover the feet a bit, but now, I'm not so sure.

Wed. March 27
I played with a couple of different snow effects (spray and brush on) and didn't like any, so decided to forego them. With that decided, I went ahead and finished off the claws everywhere except for one wing. I'm debating whether I like the dark version or whether I want to make them consistent with the other claws on the figure.

I put off that decision and started working on the face. I didn't want a straight blue and I think I ended up with an effect I liked. Just a hint of blue on the tips of the horns and muzzle (maybe a hair more than a hint on the bridge of the nose. The mouth was pretty much just pink, pink and red washes, a little red paint to darken the tongue a bit and then the teeth in an off white. I had been worried about the horns (and face in general) but I think it turned out decently. At any rate, here is the more or less (say 95% done) figure. A couple more touch ups and she'll be ready for submission. I even named her - Nosyla (after my love Alyson).

When I started this, the goal was pretty much to just do something I hadn't done before - put together a model that would be worthy of entry in a competition. Most of the work I do on Descent is tabletop quality. Not necessarily slapped together, but I don't sweat all the tiny details either. This is one of the largest models I've ever done and I spent a lot of time working through details and trying things out off the model to figure out what I wanted (and was capable of doing) on the model. I didn't get anything else painted this month (I primed and base-colored a handful of figures, but really, this took all my time and attention). I won't say I won't try something like this again, but I don't feel like I need to do this all the time.

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Outside My Comfort Zone - Part III

Previously on Things of No Interest - Part I and Part II...
Scales done from head to hip Left side view
Well, as usual, things don't go as planned. My love got a nasty head cold and was laid up for a couple of days and then of course I got it and was out for a couple days and work and stuff... So yesterday I realized that, Holy Crap! I've got like a week to finish this stupid dragon I said I was going to try and enter in the painting competition at the AZ Game Fair. I had barely done anything since the last time - ugh. So last night I set about to try and get caught up a little.

Since last time, I worked on some of the fins on the spine - I wanted to get the area from the head down to at least past the wings so that I wasn't having to try and work around the wings after I attached them. I didn't do the whole shebang since I wasn't quite sure that what I had in mind was going to look the way I wanted it to (and in a lot of cases, I can't quite tell when I'm doing it and things are wet, since I mostly was using washes for this).

Like the wings, I first used Secret Weapon Wash Golden Brown on the fins. This really comes out looking yellowish with flecks of sparkles. Next I used Citadel's Sepia wash, leaving a small area near the top portion of each fin alone. Finally I hit the inside edges with a small amount of Citadel's Agrax Earthshade to darken that area. The result was about what I wanted - still lighter than the wings, but similar in colors. I still need to go back and touch up the blue spines a bit and also finish the fins, but that shouldn't be too bad.

I attached the right wing and then had to spend some time filling in the resulting gap with some green stuff and texturing it and painting it to match the scales on the wing and body. I also "finished" the right wing (meaning I got around to doing the claws on the wing tips). I then varnished the scales and wing on the right side so I wouldn't rub or chip the paint as I was working through the rest of the model.

And then nothing for like a week. Last night, I resumed work on the left wings and took care of the scales, switching back and for the between the wing and the left side of the body as I worked through the layers of blue to get the scale look I've been doing - as noted last time, the scales are a series of layers:
  • Base: Citadel The Fang + Secret Weapon Wash Sapphire
  • Layer one: The Fang (yes, I highlighted with the original base color)
  • Layer two: P3 Gravedigger Denim
  • Layer three: Citadel Thunderhawk Blue
  • Layer four: Citadel Fenrisian Grey
Both wings attached! View from above
The left wing did not have the gap issues the right had, so I haven't applied any green stuff. The wing has a small "line" along where the wing sits against the body, but I can't see where adding green stuff will hide that - the scales just match up funny along that segment. I was expecting that area to need green stuff, so I hadn't done the last row of scales (as seen in the picture). That detail and the claws on the left wings need to be done and then I can call the wings completed.

Next up:
  • Finish the fins and detail the spines
  • Legs and tail
  • Chest
  • Head
  • Basing
Still lots to do and not much time left!

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Outside My Comfort Zone - Part II

The middle of March is nearly here and I've made a little progress (perhaps not as much as I wanted) on my dragon model. After filling in gaps of the parts I glued in last time, I primed the entire model with Army Painter brush on primer. I really like the stuff - it goes on very thinly (and its easy to apply). It dries relatively quickly and paint adheres well and with good color and coverage. It is a bit of a hassle for a model this large, but I normally do small models, so the little extra time that took was no big deal.

Getting startedUnderside of wings started
I've still been trying to figure out the colors I want to use for the wings and the ridgeback. Not having a good idea of what I want to do, I started with P3's Sickly Skin to base them both white. I started painting the spines on the back using Citadel Incubus Darkness, but I didn't like the color - It felt too dark and if I based the dragon with that, it wasn't go to match what I had in my head. I switched to Citadel's The Fang and base painted the body and non-membrane wing parts. The color was much much better.

Washed with SapphireIts always something...
After pouring over a number of pictures of dragons and birds, I finally decided how I wanted to do the underside of the wings. I first washed them with Secret Weapon Wash Golden Brown and used SWW's Sapphire on the body. I prefer Citadel's shade line for washes, but Sapphire is much brighter blue than Citadel's blue shade. Though you can't tell easily from the picture, the Golden Brown wash has small flecks of shiny gold - enough to give what you use it on a little "glitter" but not enough that it makes whatever you cover look metallic. The next step of the wings was to use a combination of washes on the membranes. I used some Agrax Earthshade on the upper edge and a thinned down P3 Bogrin Brown on the lower edge of each section, blending them as best I could. After, I used a mix of Golden Brown and Sepia mixed together to go over the whole area, further blending the colors together. The Bogrin felt like it got a little lost, so after the wings dried, I went back and added a bit more of the thinned Bogrin to bring out a little orange. Unfortunately, I screwed up one section and it was far too dark from the Agrax and I had to start over - I re-painted the base paint and repeated the process on the one area.

Corrected wing + scale detailScale detail in the first section
As the wings dried, I started working on the scale detail. One painting video I watched recently had suggested that painting large figures is easier if you do it in sections rather than trying to do too much at once. I elected to do the scales from the head down to the hip on one side of the body. The scales are a series of layers:
  • Base: Citadel The Fang + Secret Weapon Wash Sapphire
  • Layer one: The Fang (yes, I highlighted with the original base color)
  • Layer two: P3 Gravedigger Denim
  • Layer three: Citadel Thunderhawk Blue
  • Layer four: Citadel Fenrisian Grey
Each layer was done as a series of thinner and thinner brush strokes to enhance the look of each scale and give it a more textured look. The model's scales have a little bit of texture, but I wanted them all to really show it and dry brushing wasn't going to bring that out. I also repeated the scale process for one side of one of the wings (the wing that attaches in the area I just completed). I still need to figure out how I want to do the spines and the top portion of the wings so that I can finish and attach them. And then of course, I'll have to fill and texture the gap and paint everything to match. Still a lot of work to be done and not so much of the month left! I can see a few long nights ahead. 

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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Outside My Comfort Zone

Reaper Bones: Cinder
As we head into March, I started thinking about my painting goal for the next month. The year-long goal is to finish at least one Descent figure a week. Four weeks in March makes the goal fairly simple - three Carrion Drakes (those are the last of the Labyrinth of Ruin figures) and one other figure (probably the Raythen hero to finish that pack).

So why this post and what is outside my comfort zone?

Well, at the end of March is the Arizona Game Fair - a standard gaming convention here in my neck of the woods. As I looked over the activities, I saw that they are having a miniature painting contest. Now normally, I paint to standard below competition level - tabletop. That is to say, I do more than just get some paint on the figures, but I'm not trying to make them all perfect either. It is hard to justify spending hours on a couple of guys that might be on the table (in my eyesight) for a total of five minutes! Of course, some models are fun to try and make look really good, but for the most part I  wouldn't consider putting them up to be judged against other models.

Since there is a month until the game fair, I've decided to step outside my comfort zone and try and put together something for the contest. That's how we grow and get better - stretch and make mistakes and learn.

So I went and dug in my crate of things and found Cinder. A dragon model from a Reaper Bones order that I had never even un-bagged. A dragon. Good room for a little creativity and still a little "safe".

So I started tonight with the assembly. The model comes in multiple parts:
  • Body with one leg
  • the other leg
  • two arms
  • two wings
  • top of the head
  • base
Right off the bat, I'm doing stuff I don't normally do - assemble the model. No big deal, a drop of super glue and parts slide together. A leg, head, and two arms and I have something that almost looks like Godzilla. 

Except that of course the glue-in parts have gaps. gaps that need to be filled in with some liquid greenstuff (which despite the name isn't liquid). Citadel's Liquid Greenstuff is just model putty that is soft enough to spread with a brush. 

So I set about filling in cracks (like drywall spackle). The toughest part is trying to figure out (because once you start spreading it, it can be hard to tell) if I'm filling in the cracks or filling in a bunch of details too. 

I also start noticing a bunch of mold lines. Normally, I'm far too lazy to spend a bunch of time cleaning those off the models. Again, it is one of those things I just don't feel make a big difference in a tabletop model - Descent models have enough other flaws that I rarely notice a little mold line.

Well, this model is supposed to be a competition show piece, so I spend a little time with the file cleaning the stuff I'm seeing. I'm pretty sure that after I start priming this, I'm going to find a bunch more. 

One thing I don't do is glue in the wings. I'm still thinking about how I want this to look and not sure I want to limit my access to spine. I figure it can't hurt to start priming the wings, so while the green stuff is drying, I start priming the wings. I'm using Army Painter brush on primer to give me a nice neutral grey. 

By the way, I was right. As I'm priming the wings, I realize I have some mold lines on the wings to clean up. Sigh. No big deal, I want this to look good and I have a month to work on it. I don't have to get it done all in the first couple of days.

It is all part of the process. Who knows? Maybe I'll start really seeing all the mold lines and feel I should clean them up and all my work will take that next step. That's part of the goal here - not show off my questionable skills as a painter, but total a leap and see how far I have to grow.

So the next step is more primer and more clean up. I'll have to decide on whether to assemble the wings and take care of that now or after I work on the spine. I started looking for pictures of dragons to get some inspirations. About all I'm sure of is that I don't want to do either red or green. There are more than enough of those out there already. I'm thinking dark blue - almost black. Stay tuned!

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Painting Descent - February

Here is my February update for painting - the month isn't over, but I don't anticipate finishing anything over the next two days.

Over on BGG, the Painters Guild runs a monthly "Challenge List". For February, my goal was a modest 7 figures: four Goblin Witchers, two Archyura, and Ariad lieutenant figure. I blew that goal out of the water and also finished: Queen Ariad lieutenant, Raythen Lieutenant, and two heroes - Ulma Grimstone and Logan Lashley. My goal has been to average a figure a week, but I know from experience that a group of small figures will take only a few days, so I felt silly saying all I'd get done  is one group of four Goblin Witchers. As silly as it sounds, I have thus far not quite averaged 2 figures a week, so I have tried to be reasonable about my estimates so I don't get behind.

 Here are my lifetime totals for Descent and the figures I finished for the month:
  • 63 monster figures done
  • 20 hero figures done
  • 11 lieutenants done
  • 17 figures done in 2019 through 9 weeks
Goblin Witchers
Ariad Lieutenant
I wasn't a big fan of any of those models and glad to just have them done. I dislike doing multiples of the same thing anyway, but the goblins were really uninteresting to me. The spider/crabs were also fairly boring (but turned out better than I thought they were going to). I almost never cut the models from the base, but they were so low that I had to in order to paint the bottoms. Ariad was ok until I got to the gold. I hate lining anything with gold paint. No matter how carefully I do it - it always looks gloppy in the end.

I got through my original goal early in the month, so started work on a few "bonus" items.

Queen Ariad Lieutenant
Queen Ariad might be one of the worst large models that FFG has ever done. It is just lazy and lacking details. The reference art is also terrible, so I whipped through this model in no time flat, glad to be done with it.

Ulma GrimstoneLogan Lashley
I finished the heroes I had left to work on from the Labyrinth of Ruin expansion. I wasn't excited about these two models, but they ended up being more interesting than I anticipated. Ulma's reference art looked like she had blown up a potion with her goggles on, so I went with that and made he forehead and chin look darker - that turned out decently (her face and goggles are just about the only interesting feature of this model). Logan has a stupid number of belts and things which meant trying to color them all differently enough to stand out as different features. That being said, a whole bunch of green and browns and belts make for a boring (to paint) mini.

Raythen LieutenantReference art
The Raythen Lieutenant model was also a bit junky. First, the model was crap - lots of mold lines and flash - worse than the normal FFG stuff. The reference art was also really lazy. Black cape and burgundy armor with silver trim. I went ahead and decided to try out two-brush blending on the cape as something new. It is hard to tell from the above picture, so I put another just below that better captures the true colors. The cloak is really a dark green with black radiating out from the head/shoulders. The cloak ended up looking good enough that I didn't really care that the rest of the paint job was fairly generic.

The only other thing of note - I switched from using black gesso to using Army Painter's brush on primer (grey). I've decided to give this a whirl and see how it goes. So far so good, but I can definitely see keeping the black around for some work. I also grabbed a new set of P3 paints and so far they are fabulous on the Army Painter primer. I still like Citadel's paint line for a number of things (metallic and washes and glazes), but I suspect I'm only going to keep colors I can't readily get in P3's line. Logan and Ulma were probably 85% P3 paints - I even printed out a nice paint rack for them:

Bonus, printed with glow-in-the-dark material

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