Monday, October 5, 2015

The Hunt for Dread October.

My friend and fellow blogger, Greg Hess at FeedYourNerd, decided to do a little non-competitive "contest" for the month of October. The challenge of 'DreadTober' is to start and finish a dreadnought in one month, something that could either be very reasonable or slightly frantic, depending on your modeling and painting speed. Personally, I'm hoping it proves motivational.

My entry is a Contemptor for my Siege of Terra Iron Warriors army. This guy will be an integral part of my AdeptiCon 2016 Zone Mortalis list.

The first step was scraping (so much scraping) off all the Imperial iconography. I wanted this guy to be a clean slate. The next step was posing. I wanted something dynamic, but not awkward. There can be a fine line between those two. Now I'm going back and adding stuff - more rivets, extra wiring/tubing, etc. I want him to appear battle-worn, with field repairs and modifications. So far, so good.

I'll post regular updates during the month. I'm giving myself one more week to finish the build.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Battle for Arrakeen. Part II.

Martin Baker's 6mm Fremen (or 'Desert Commandos').
Just a quick update on the 50th anniversary DUNE project. The city itself is coming along, I've got about 30 structures finished. But I wanted to post a few WIP shots of some of the commissioned models. So far, I've managed to recruit three very talented sculptors to the cause. Martin Baker, who has sculpted amazing models for Angel Barracks is currently working on the infantry. The list he is currently working off of includes, four different Fremen warriors, including a female. One has a Maula pistol and crysknife, one has a lasgun, and one will have worm hooks.Additionally, the plan is to do three Sardaukar poses, including a Bashar, a Bene Gesserit model, a spice-smuggler with baliset, and a Fremen leader - Muad'dib. As Martin sends more WIP pics, I'll be posting them here.

Also, multi-award-winning painter, Rich Erickson, is currently working on a 6mm sandworm. I'll have more detail on his sculpt later - hopefully I can even get him to write up a little something. We're forced to abstract the worm a little, four feet of resin would be a challenging cast indeed.

Rich's WIP sandworm.
Finally, hobby legend Dave Taylor has agreed to build at least one version of a 6mm ornithopter, another iconic piece of DUNE hardware. I will, likewise, try and get Dave to do a write up once he starts on the project.

I was initially a little hesitant to post this list, I didn't want anyone disappointed if something should fail to actually materialize, but I'm getting more confident that everything is coming together.

I've already had some questions about the availability, commercially, of these commissioned models. Obviously, if I can make them available under more generic names (say, desert commandos from the Sandstorm range), I absolutely will. That's my intention. But it's a pretty niche subject, so if there is real interest, let me know.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Battle for Arrakeen. Part I.

A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct. This every sister of the Bene Gesserit knows. To begin your study of the life of Muad'Dib, then take care that you first place him in his time: born in the 57th year of the Padishah Emperor, Shaddam IV. And take the most special care that you locate Muad'Dib in his place: the planet Arrakis. Do not be deceived by the fact that he was born on Caladan and lived his first fifteen years there. Arrakis, the planet known as Dune, is forever his place.
                                                           -from Manual of Muad'Dib by the Princess Irulan

It is hard to believe that Frank Herbert’s DUNE will be 50 years old this year. No other work of fiction has been so personally influential and to celebrate the anniversary I’ve decided to finally fulfill one of my long-time hobby dreams: to build a scale Arrakeen in my basement and re-fight the “historical” battle between the Emperor’s vaunted Sardaukar and the fanatical forces of Muad’dib. The fact that the 50th anniversary comes at a time when I now actually have a basement is fortuitous.

Concept art from Lynch's film.
So I’m planning on using the blog here to keep track of the project’s progress for anyone interested. Over the course of the next few months, I hope to have the terrain built and painted. I also hope to have updates on what figures and models I’ll be using. On this subject, I can’t really say much yet, except that I’ve enlisted the help of some very talented friends. The illustrious Dave Taylor and talented Rich Erickson have both agreed to help me with a little commission work. They’re tackling two of the most iconic pieces to this puzzle. But, again, more on that over the next few months.

First Arrakeen "test" buildings.
I also have a set of rules I’m working on. Massed combat in DUNE is unique, in a few ways. Close quarters fighting is the decisive factor in the Battle of Arrakeen, but it’s a battle that also sees the use of atomic weapons and giant sandworms. Plus the potential use of Holtzman shields and lasguns. So, obviously, not your straight forward wargame. I’m contemplating incorporating some elements of the beloved DUNE video games (remember the Atreides sonic tank?), but I’m not 100% on that yet.

For now, I’ll start with the basics. The table itself will be comprised of three 2’ x 4’ sections. These are from IKEA, actually. Nice thick composite board. I’ve textured the boards, first, with filler putty to give them some basic shape and contour before the sand goes on. I think this worked out; the sections are basically flat, but have enough texture to give them some realism and scale.

I brushed on the first two coats of paint then airbrushed another 3-4 colors. Arrakeen sits on a massive plain of bedrock. This, and the massive cliffs of the Shieldwall, protect the city from sandworm incursions. To that end, I wanted the terrain to look more “rocky” than “sand duney”, but still “deserty”, if this makes any sense. I’ve finished the first two sections (I need to go back to IKEA for another board and some meatballs) so far.

Another shot of the first structures.
I’ve also started painting the first Arrakeen structures. These beautiful ‘lil 6mm gems come from Brigade Models in the UK. I can’t recommend these enough – the resin is crisp and the sculpts are very clean. I didn’t need to do much to prep these for painting. I’m airbrushing mine. I do them in small groups and I’ve used a few different schemes. I do this so the city doesn’t look TOO uniform. After the airbrushing, I do a few weathering washes on each structure to give them the sand-blasted look of buildings suffering through years of storms.

I added the accents of red in geometric patterns to give the city a little bit of a retro 60’s sci-fi look. I just have to be careful not to overdo this, I think.

The middle board section will be where the main action takes place – the landing field where the Emperor Shaddam IV has constructed his giant plasteel fortress-tent and encamped his legions of Sardaukar. The third section will have the cliffs of the Shieldwall (with a large gap courtesy of Gurney Halleck).

My working plan for boards 1 and 2.
So far, so good. I’m happy to answer any questions or hear any suggestions. I’m going to have to find good 6mm groundcars and ships for the landing fields. So if anyone has used anything they think would work well, please let me know. Anyway, thanks for reading. TSMF.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Metallics Tutorial: Painting the IVth

I’ve had a few requests to detail how I’ve painted my latest project – 30K MKIII Iron Warriors. I figured I’d put together a brief tutorial here, hopefully reviving my hobby blog in the process. I’ve got a few projects that are actually proceeding at reasonable rates, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that I’ll have some fresh material to update at a more frequent pace than “annually”…

First, Forge World has got me back into Warhammer with these models. Forge World and the crew that puts on the 30K events at AdeptiCon. I haven’t had the inclination to do an “army” in some time, but that has definitely changed with the advent of 30K gaming.

I chose Iron Warriors as I’ve always been a fan of siege warfare. I used to spend hours designing fortresses for AD&D back in grade school. In college, our EPIC Space Marine games generally centered around massive sieges. Plus, I enjoy painting metallics, particularly weathered metal, metal well-worn from campaigning in the harshest environs. So, put those two things together and there wasn’t much of a choice for me- it was to be the IVth! I also hate the Imperial Fists.
Airbrushing complete.

I start with three shades of Vallejo airbrush metallics - a base, then two highlights. The last highlight going on at a 45 degree angle, so I'm just hitting the highest surfaces. I'm attaching a pic of what they look like after airbrushing. The trick here is to paint them much brighter (shinier?) than you might think appropriate. This allows you much more leeway in toning down the shine with the next steps. It is much easier to bring down bright metal than it is to go back and brighten it.

About 80% done here.
Then, I do maybe 14-15 very thin washes. I have some special mixes I use, like a blue/grey and a burnt sienna. I typically use some Golden Fluid Acrylics for my initial washes ( They have a sort of interesting opaqueness that, when thinned down, works really well to “flatten” metallic paint. The GW Devlan Mud is also in there, thinned down. I mix in some different colors to get more interesting tones, like greens and purples. Each wash has to dry completely, so it takes a while. The end goal here is to create an almost “metallic non-metallic” look. By that, I mean that the actual metallic paint is so toned down and muted with acrylic washes that it looks very flat.

Another “trick” (and anyone who has taken my metallics class at AdeptiCon knows this) is to add a very small amount of white/PVA glue into the wash mix. This helps hold the wash in the recesses and add to the “flatness” of the finish.

Once that's done, I freehand the chevrons and do the gold/bronze detailing. The gold gets its own set of washes, including some patina/verdigris. I also hit some of the edges of the iron with highlights.

"Finished" model - until I decide to mess with it again.
I’m using the always fantastic Dragon Forge Design ( trench bases. I think the rotten wood and mud makes for a nice counter-point to all the metals on the Legionaries. Plus it sorta seems like siege works – perhaps just outside the False Emperor’s Palace on Terra?

These are “gaming models.” I guess this means that I spent less time on them than I would have if they were going to be “competition models.” But anyone who has ever seen Chris Borer’s or Damon Drescher's “gaming models” knows that time spent is all relative. I’m happy with the way these are coming out in relation to the time, and I’m starting to feel optimistic about finishing a smallish army. I even have a Rhino ready to build. I’ll continue to post about the force all the way up to AdeptiCon 2016. As always, thanks for reading and any comments are welcome.

Edit: I'm posting a few of the screen caps from 'Excalibur' that I used for reference. I've always loved the aesthetic of this film and the "undead" knights scared the shit outta me as a kid. I tried to pay a little homage to the gritty look the plate armour had.