Sunday, September 28, 2014

Painting is a Process

So, back a few posts I was bagging (a bit) on Jes Goodwin. The late 80's High Elf cavalry models he sculpted are not my favorite models. I stand by that.

Most of everything else he has done, however, stands like a colossus over the hobby. He and Tom Meier are, to put it simply, the masters of elven models. The same way that Kev Adams infuses orcs and goblins with a sense of chaotic mischief and evil naughtiness, I think Goodwin lends a sense of nobility, regal-ness, and (often times) utter ferocity to the elven armies. Case in point: the Elven Attack Chariot.

Now, I don't know whether Jes had anything to do with the original rules for this behemoth (1500 points in 2nd Edition??!! And look at those abilities the characters have! This thing is like playing the Star Wars miniatures game and someone taking the Death Star!). What I do know is that he (working together with the heavily-sweatered Bob Naismith) somehow created a chariot model that oozes both wildness and grace; crisp, clean lines and whirling, pointy bits. I think it is a masterpiece of the early-to-middle part of his career.

For a while now, if I was to rank the Citadel models at the top of my most-wanted list, the Elven Attack Chariot would come in at number three, behind only Nick Bibby's Great Spined Dragon (someday, my precious) and Jorj, the original champion from the first Bugman's unit (I've written this one off, and just converted my own version). After coming close a couple of times on eBay, I finally managed to land an intact and complete chariot a couple of weeks ago.

After three extended periods in the stripping bath (ancient red oil paint, epoxy cement, and an obscene amount of gap filler you say? Why yes indeed- all three!), I have started on this beast. I don't want to rush it at all, so I plan on working on it between and during other models. There is an astonishing amount of both detail and surface area to get covered with painty bits, so this might be in for a long haul. Here's where she stands right now, with most of the actual chariot done except for final highlighting:
Javelins, check. Quiver of arrows, check. Luscious bear-skin rug, check.
Insert Tab 'A' of winged lightning rod into Hole 'B'

I am having a hard time deciding what to do, if anything, with the white. Over a white undercoat, I painted the whole model with Vallejo Ivory. I like the color here a lot, and I want to preserve the pristine cleanliness of the whole model, but it feels to me that the textured portions at least need some shading added. Looking at the original version, I would guess that Kev Adams painted it (because of the mushrooms of course); whoever it was looks to have painted a very thin white/ivory layer over more of a bone color (look at the wheels, especially). This gives the original, to my eye, more of a birch, wooden feel. I don't know if I like that, or the porcelain feel of my ivory better. I think I will leave it as is for now and see how the addition of the horses and the base changes my mind.

So. . . this goes in here, right?
Finished up the cannon and crew for the dorfies this week as well. The barrel-carrying (keg carrying?) fella is a fantastic crewman, sagging gut and all. For some reason, the sculptor of this set decided that all dwarves that work on cannons need enormous metal rings hanging off of their belts. Good stuff. Everytime I see the guy with the keg, Prince's "Raspberry Beret" starts playing in my head. If only I had the courage to paint it that color. . .

Thanks for reading. Hope all is well in your world, wherever it might be. Take care, brethren.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

No One Wins 'Em All

I think I have mentioned here before that I mark my start into the hobby with the week that the "Dark Millennium" expansion came out for 2nd Edition 40K.
Summer 1994. It was all downhill from here.
I still have a very vivid memory of looking through a friend's White Dwarf and getting completely hooked looking at the pictures of minis (Andy Craig's Harlequins were the first to make an impression, and still remain my favorite 'Eavy Metal minis of all time) and reading a Priestly/Johnson battle report (High Elves/Greenskins). Here was the hobby I had been looking for all my life- a Venn diagram showing the meeting of art (I grew up a military modeler), battle tactics (I have poured over battlefield maps showing troops movements my whole life), and gaming (I think half my time at college was spent playing chess, Risk, and Axis & Allies).

My first minis were the Space Marines that came in the 2nd edition 40K box. I think I established my standard operating procedure by attempting to exactly copy the Blood Angels from the pictures (I am notorious for having issues with coming up with my own color schemes, much preferring the ones that already look good that other people have come up with). Mine were noticeably worse than the ones Mike McVey painted for the trade pics.
These are not my minis.

Shortly after getting the Marines painted up, I sprung for the 4th edition WHFB box as well, thus cementing my early addiction to GW's brand of plasticrack. At the same time, I found my first true love in the hobby when I built the High Elf army from the box.
How many hours did I spend with this? Many, many, many.
I think I have collected, painted, gamed with, and sold off six High Elf armies at this point, which now that I have actually counted them up sounds completely absurd. My current one is, unsurprisingly, the best of the group- Caradryan up there in my banner is from my army. I haven't pictured it much on the blog, because it is mostly newer models that I painted when I delved back into the hobby big time a few years ago now.

I have recently begun adding older elf models that I will be painting in the coming months, once the Barrowmaze and dwarf projects are done. I did want to share today's completion, though, because it ties in with all this reminiscing. See, there was a point after all. . .

The High Elf models back in the day always gave me fits to paint. I can say now with conviction that it was NOT MY FAULT. They are not easy to paint minis. They absolutely do not "paint themselves." They are very, very hard to make look good- hell, even the 'Eavy Metal versions circa 3rd edition are pretty underwhelming, especially when compared to everything else being released at the time.

I remember in the 90's starting a unit of the original Dragon Princes (sculpted by none other than the Elf Master himself, Jes Goodwin) and literally throwing one across the room because it was so impossible to make look nice.

These elves have their details crammed impossibly close together. Their scaling leaves a lot to be desired. They are covered with those damned gems EVERYWHERE. They are quite simply not very good models.

But of course I love them anyway. I am a hopeless devotee to this army.

I have learned, too- always have faith that a bigger unit arranged together will always make the underwhelming individuals look 100% better.

So, what's the most challenging group of minis you have ever painted? I'd love to hear of your triumphant struggles against difficult sculpts in the comments. Have a good one, brethren.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Back in Black. . . err, Bleached Bone

Whew. It's been a while. Three months can really fly by in blogland, eh?

It was quite a summer of discontent for me, hobby-wise at least. I spent nearly all of my free time from June through early September working on these doors and portals for my commission painting client:

This project was enough to break me- I have hung up my mercenary brushes for the time being, as there is simply not enough time anymore in my life to paint for someone else. I have way too many projects of my own that I really want to get through, and having the feeling of commitment to painting someone else's stuff has turned my hobby into another job.

But no more.

In a flurry of excitement after I mailed the doors back to their owner, I dove headlong into my own minis and just put the final touches on the wonderful armored skeletons from (who else?) Otherworld. Sculpted by the one and only Kev Adams, these fellers are insanely characterful, old school, and really fun to paint. My admiration for that company grows with each batch of their minis I finish.
Attack of the stripy shield brigade
I was so sick and tired of painting brown and stone after all those portals that I had to paint these guys in a riot of color, at least for me. Ochre, brick red, Prussian blue, and dark green are my four go-to colors, so that's where these ended up. Again, this was so fun and so reinvigorating to do.

I hope to continue getting through my projects. I used the proceeds from the portal job to buy one long-term dream mini of mine. What is it? Stay tuned!

Happy hunting, brothers in Pb.