Reflections on 2017

I’m somewhat late on this one as I’ve been laid low with a rather unpleasant flu-like lurgy.
A quick catch-up on a couple of pieces from my last post.
barbarian
Here is the Barbarian from the OS Miniatures Company. This was a challenge that I undertook to have him painted before Christmas. Nobody else took up the challenge which was a pity.
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This was from Warmonger Miniatures, again painted up for Christmas.
There is one more figure which was supposed to be my last figure of 2017, but the lurgy stopped that. I’ll post when it is finished.
Old age seems to have telescoped the year. Blink and I’ll miss it.
The first three months were taken up with making the Rogue Stars display board. April/May I did some landscaping in the garden converting a be-shrubbed steep slope into a flat grassy terrace.
June/July/August were at Electric Love. I had a great time and it gave me enough money to buy my own small laser cutter.
The rest of the year seemed to evaporate, lttle jobs around the house and making bits with my loot from the summer.
2017
Here is a group shot of what I finished painting. There is a lot more half finished and the 2018 goal is to finish all the half started jobs from the past few years, the Heresy Dragon being the main target, get all that out of the way so I have a clean slate. Then one project at a time, start it and finish it.
Yeah right!
Product of the Year 2017
On reflection it has to be the laser cutter. It’s small and slow but it has enabled me to prototype ideas and to make stuff on the fly. Christmas cards, party invites, party bag goodies, cake icing molds and gift tags just to name a few bits and bobs.
Heroes and Zeroes
Firstly the Heroes.
At the top of the list are the Facebook friends; EvH, DW, SR, ME and CF. They have been a constant source (sauce?) of inspiration, advice and encouragement. I might actually meet some of them in RL oneday.
Then comes the figure manufacturers who have gifted me with lovely toys this last year.
Ramshackle Games
http://shop.ramshacklegames.co.uk/index.php
The OS Miniatures Company
https://www.facebook.com/OldSchoolMinis1985/
Avatars of War
http://www.avatars-of-war.com/eng/web/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=59&Itemid=51
Warmonger Miniatures
https://www.warmongerminiatures.com/
Finally Revolution Events
https://www.revolutionevent.com/
For fun, education and loot.
Now to the Zeroes
Wayland Games for lengthy delays, poor communication and their unwillingness (or inability) to combine orders.
TNT for their lack of customer service and making life just that little bit harder.
Games Workshop for tantalising me with the new rules for 40K, promises of fewer books and then conveniently forgetting about all that.
The new plastics are beautiful though.

2016 Been there, done it

This was started on New Year’s Day and then it got put down and buried under stuff.

I am sat here feeling slightly obfuscated, mostly due to schnapps, brandy and presecco seeing out the old year.
2016 was a year that a lot of interesting and clever people shuffled of this mortal coil. The way East/West politics are moving 2017 could be the year that everyone dies.
I didn’t paint much, far less than I wanted to. The Dragon was prevaricated on. It seemed that every time I picked it up I was asked for help with something else so there was no “Zone” achieved.
But there shouldn’t be too much beating myself up. My workshop is set up and I can airbrush to my hearts content. One project for this year is to make a spray booth with PC cooling fans (from the recycling center) to extract spray. The hobby room is done, bar one small speaker shelf. So I have my space for painting and gaming. And I have been working on the garden making a path and building a wall. This involves going to the farm with a wheelbarrow and taking a rock and wheeling it back, so quite time consuming.

Financially the laser cutting has not been a success this year. Etsy resulted in zero sales. Handing out my business card at Salute resulted in a huge spike in blog views the following day, but zero sales.
What I find frustrating in my target audience is that they will happily fork out thirty or forty quid for one figure they owned as a teenager but will balk at paying twenty for scenery to grace their collection. There was a thread I was following where collectors were boasting about the prices they had paid for a metal Thunderhawk Gunship. It was jaw dropping.

I am going to continue with making laser cut scenery, if only for myself. But getting some money for it would be nice. The last year has seen a readjustment in family finances. I have gone from having a huge disposable income a couple of years ago to having none. My Wife stopped working at the beginning of last year and despite having no income we’ve lived comfortably. Having no rent or mortgage helps tremendously and visiting fleamarkets for clothes and entertainment makes what we do have go along way.
I have backed a few Kickstarters this year, not as many as I would have liked. Ten Minute Heist and Dwarves in Trouble are two board games that look like fun to play with the Boys. Then came the addiction, miniatures. Space Raiders, scifi orcs sculpted by Kevin Adams. Greenskin Wars, goblins sculpted by Kevin Adams. Goblins and Sea Demons, sea goblins sculpted by Kevin Adams. Return to Colony 87, scifi civilians. Kev White does Matt Dixon, female fantasy miniatures. And finally Ramshackle Games’s Jetbikes.

The product of the year for me has been Foundrys Sable Mix General Detail Brush. I was going to replace it at the beginning of the year but it kept on going for “one more paint job”. In fact it is still going strong, so I might not replace it just yet.

Although I’m not very good with my predictions I’m going to say that 2017 will be the year of NMMs. Non Metallic Metallics, where you paint something to look shiny and metallic without using any metallic paint. For those of you who don’t quite get what I’m on about, think about a photograph of a shiny teapot. You don’t have metallic inks when you print a photograph. What you see are whites, greys and whatever background colours are being reflected. So the object is to try and replicate this without metallic paint. G’Dub is already putting painting guides out with this technique with some of their new products.

Talking about G’Dub, I have liked watching their Warhammer TV on Youtube. It has been very instructive and has kept my Boys entertained. Just remember kids, always thin your paints.

Something I got as a Christmas present was a copy of Osprey’s Rogue Stars ruleset. It is a bit dry, mostly tables of equipment, physical traits and very little fluff. From reading of reviews apparently one gets the hang of it very easily. The advantage, as I see it, of having very little fluff is that you can create your own universe in the flavour you want. Magrathea anyone?
I’d like to make a go of this and try and run a demo game at the Austrian Salute this year.
The game is figure light, four to six figures a side and the playspace is three foot by three foot.
So I have approximately ten weeks to learn the rules. I’ve taken the step of joining the Austrian gaming forum, diefestung, to find opponents. Then painting the figures and making a terrain board which will showcase my laser cut work.
Oh, and make sure I have enough stock to sell.
Speaking of stock I must really extract my digit and design more big objects. The ideal solution would be one big thing a month.

This year I must be more focused on my painting. First jobs are to finish off any jobs that haven’t been completed. Then I need to decide which army to concentrate on and finish it. A prime candidate would be my Roman army, just a fortified camp and two commanders.

Getting the picture

This is a topic I’ve been having some problems with. Now things are starting to settle down a little with the house I thought it was time to get a little consistency with my model pictures.
There are a couple of blogs that I occasionally look at where their models are photographed with a scenic base and background and I quite liked it.
So here is my take on it.
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The base was a square of polystyrene with some blue foam details. This was then coated in PVA glue and coarse sand added for texture. This was painted with some dark brown household emulsion paint.
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Then it was drybrushed with two more colours of emulsion.
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Then flocked.
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I went a little low-tech with the sky backdrop. I used a diffuser tube, a kind of crude airbrush, figuring that the coarse splatter wouldn’t be seen.
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On the reverse side of the sky backdrop I made a chaotic mix of colours. My main problem was that the card was not dimensionally stable and warped like mad. So I had to dry it like this.
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Here is my set up. My camera is a Pentax istD. I went down the Pentax route as I have a large number of Pentax lenses from my time as a photographer in the Eighties. The soft-box and lights are from an eBenk WSB-342 studio kit that I bought for this purpose. The one thing I have done is to change the bulbs to LEDs as they don’t run as hot and don’t use as much electricity.
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Here is the first attempt. The lights give a yellow cast, I haven’t as yet managed to source daylight bulbs, the white balance in camera is set to “Tungsten” and but a bit of tinkering in Photoshop (minimal, one slide of the colour balance) solves this.
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Some trees in the background.
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Now the chaotic sky.
So far the problem with this is the depth of field. There is far too much of it.
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So I dropped the aperture right down and this is the result. There are some very minor adjustments to be made, but I think I’m pretty close.
Now to write down what I have done so I can continue to be consistent.
The model used for photography is from Ramshackle Games.
http://shop.ramshacklegames.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=20&products_id=255

August progress

Here are some work in progress shots of my command vehicle used in my Not DKK Army. Vehicle by Ramshackle Games from the recent Kickstarter.

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Undercoat and the start of weathering

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Weathering finished and dozer blade.

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Rubbing away the white paint. I used the Hairspray Technique for this. It is a bit disheartening to spend hours painting on weathering for it all to be painted over.

Masking for the blue paint

Masking for the blue paint

Blue paint applied

Blue paint applied

Cutting the masking for the black stripes. This camouflage scheme was inspired by the film, "Inception".

Cutting the masking for the black stripes. This camouflage scheme was inspired by the film, “Inception”.


The original design

The original design


Black stripes. I wasn't as successful as I had hoped with the masking and had to do a fair amount of retouching.

Black stripes. I wasn’t as successful as I had hoped with the masking and had to do a fair amount of retouching.


Start of muddying up the dozer blade. I used weathering products from AK Interactive.

Start of muddying up the dozer blade. I used weathering products from AK Interactive.


And the finished result

And the finished result

August progress

This month is not going to plan and this month’s work is going to probably be finished in September.
Why?
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Days out at Wallersee, our local lake.
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Mountain walks with Number One Son
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And wanting to try out some weathering effects on the Command Vehicle from Ramshackle Games.
Here it is with the chipping waiting for a coat of hairspray.
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Then sprayed white then distressed with warm water and a cotton bud. It is slightly depressing to see the hours worth of painting disappearing under a coat of paint only to reveal a small part.
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Next I get to try out some AK Interactive weathering products on the plough. So far my impression that it isn’t that amazing. It’s basically an expensive jar of Humbrol paint. This may change with more use. Next to the plough you can see that I have been making a start on the Celts. It has been a bit of a slog, clipping, cleaning mold lines, basing and then painting the flesh.
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This is the unit with the flesh starting to take form. I’m using Foundry paints for this. Standing on a pot is the unit champian.

July’s workbench

This last month saw me more involved with the Boys so there was less time devoted to painting.
I managed to finish two squads of Ramshackle Games “Iron Brotherhood” troops from the Kickstarter campaign, but I didn’t manage the command vehicle.
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These will complement my Anvil Industries “Tox Troopers” and the Raging Heroes “Toughest Girls of the Galaxy”, another Kickstarter I backed.
imageAs you can see, a far amount of work to go before I even start on the camoflage.

 

July’s Workbench

julyThis month I will mostly be painting two squads of Iron Brotherhood troops. I got these from the Ramshackle Games Kickstarter last year. I will be using them as zombie troops in my Not DKK Army alongside the miniatures from Anvil Industries (already painted) and the Iron Empire troops from the Raging Heroes Kickstarter. I plan to add some real DKK and the Leviathan from Dreamforge Games.

If there is time I will also paint the APC from Ramshackle.