You'll find a little of everything here. Genres covered in this blog include (so far) prehistorics, fantasy, old west, swashbucklers, pulp, Blood Bowl, Ghostbusters, gladiators, nautical, science fiction and samurai in 6mm, 15mm, 28mm, 40mm, 42mm and 54mm sizes. You'll also find terrain, scenery, basing, gaming, modeling, tutorials, repaints, conversions, art and thoughts in general about the hobby.

Monday, September 29, 2014

42mm samurai: Terrain board

Still needs flock and grass and foliage and water in my pond. The handle is hidden under the flat rock hill at lower right.

The strategy

The theme here is supposed to be a Japanese garden, but when it's done, it won't look anywhere close to as prim, balanced and intricate as a true garden. But it will still provide a great arena for playing duels and small skirmishes with my 42mm (Steve Barber Models) samurai.

My original idea was to do a hill in the middle of the board, but that sacrificed a lot of playable space. With the hills pushed to the corners, I have fewer slopes to deal with (though, the larger-scale figures don't tip as easily; it's almost a none issue.) I also like having extra flat space so I can add trees, buildings and other terrain to customize each game.

The basic steps

Foam glued and seams "plugged."
I started with a large drawing board (25x20 inches) I got from Hobby Lobby. I took off a couple paper clamps that were on the board -- this left me with some great small holes to pass cables through so I can hang the board on the wall. The sketch board also has a handle built in, so I can carry the board around easily.

I stacked some blue foam and cut it with my foam cutter, slicing out some gentle gradients. I also used the foam cutter to cut the pond out of the ground board. Everything was glued together. I used paper mache to cover up the seams where the hills met the ground to provide a smoother transition.

The rocks are all real. Primed with black and drybrushed. (With a porous surface, these rocks take primer and paint like a champ.) I used generous amounts of epoxy resin to secure the rocks to the board, especially if I'll be hanging this board on the wall.

Paint applied; the pond really isn't that blue.
After the glue dried, I covered the board with acrylic (craft) paint. I also painted the bottom of my pond. I used a muted dark blue and added black toward the center of the pond to show where it is deeper. I know people say don't use blue, but screw that, it still looks good. (I guess, just don't use any bright blues.)

And what the hell, it's a Japanese garden. It needs Koi. These were surprisingly easy; they were just a few tiny random strokes of white and light grey, followed up with random stipplings of a couple shades of orange. I also have a large stepping stone (large enough to hold one 40mm base) that will go into the pond between the two schools of fish.

Little fishies!
I originally intended to put a nice Japanese bridge over the pond, but that can wait until I find a nice bridge model (that will fit my large samurai) or get around to making my own bridge.
I'll be pouring some two-part epoxy resin into the pond to complete the water effect, but first I need to add grass to the whole board; I plan on putting grass all the way to the waters edge (no rocky/muddy bank this time around.)

For large-scale bushes, I want to pick up some Woodland Scenics foliage "clusters" which are much larger than the usual foliage clumps used on many minis bases. These clusters will be placed among the rocks to create little groups of landscape that will help separate the board into areas, providing hiding places for ninja, and forcing fighters to choose lanes during maneuvering.
My local hobby shop -- the only place I think has the clusters -- isn't open today, otherwise, I think I could finish this board. Oh well, I think it will certainly get done this week. Then the samurai will have a nice place to spill blood.

Edit: Static grass applied

I applied the grass and the epoxy resin to the pond. At this point, I can call this finished, but I'd still like to add large bushes along the rocky areas. I'll be hittin' up the hobby shop soon.

The two figures in the photo are 42mm samurai to show the relative size of the board. It's not a huge board, but it's certainly big enough to accommodate a half dozen figures on each side of a skirmish. (I use THW Red Sands Blue Sky rules which work wonderfully for samurai.)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Orange, Apple and Mouse

I haven't painted any minis in the past week, but I've still been throwing paint. Here's a portrait of Mouse. Technically, Mouse is indeed minis-related: I didn't start drawing and painting him until after I began playing "Mice and Mystics." I haven't played the game in a while, but the inspired art still pervades. I used some of my craft acrylics as well as some of my minis paints for this (on canvas.) The Vallejo paints were nice; they stayed wet for a good time, allowing me to blend colors for longer.

Though, I haven't been been painting any minis, I have been working on making a new terrain board for my samurai. I helped my friend Bryon build his own terrain board and it gave me the itch to make my own. When It's done, I'll do a complete post about it. It'll be sweet. It has a small waterfall.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mercs fan art

Another non-minis piece. I got on board with the Mercs Recon kickstarter, and since I don't have any minis yet, I did a little piece of fan art. This fellow is from the Kemvar faction.

And I have been painting minis finally, just a few random figures -- a little bit of color here, a little bit here. I'll post a small group shot when I get some done.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Art outside of miniatures

My painting table still sits stagnating. Even my sketchbook has sat idle for more than a week. It rarely goes unused for more than a couple days at a time, but it's still nice to have an alternative form of art hobby outside of painting miniatures.

I think it's a good idea to have hobbies, artistic or otherwise, other than painting minis. The imagination needs stimulation when the minis become boring, I hate not having something to do when I don't know what to paint (or when I simply don't feel like painting.)

Here are some things I've done to pass the time (not recently, just in general.) The first is Mr. Monkey Head. I sculpted him out of Sculpey when I first started trying it out. He turned out fantastic. I keep him around to curse my enemies.

He was fun to make, and I got some OK practice painting over large areas. (He's a little larger than a racquetball.)

This is another animal for my totem. I call him Voody Bear. He was actually quite easy to put together.

I started with a regular Teddy bear and painted the brown patches on him. After the paint had dried, I sewed the stitched along the edges of the patches using heavy white thread.

The pins are made from wooden spheres attached to long brass pins. Yes, I sharpened them so I can use them; this isn't a kid's toy ... well, not TOO much of a kid, anyway.

Voody bear sits on the shelf keeping an eye on everything while the master is out. On some days, he's the subject of some of my sketches and paintings, mostly because he's easy to paint.

So, until I get back to the painting table (or the sketchbook, which I'm going to try today,) enjoy Monkey, Voody and this watercolor painting of Voody walking in the rain. Or get off your lazy ass and paint some minis! (I'm speaking to myself mostly :)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Notes on technique for beginners

Newcomer Kristina asked me about my technique, and I figured it was too long for a reply in the comments section, so here's a blog post on the basics of how I paint.

For technique, I use what some people call the "English" system. Made popular by Wargames Foundry (and Kevin Dallimore) and characterized by layering and the use of triad paint palettes.

Example of a triad by Reaper.
One color in a triad system will have a base shade, then middle shade (the color itself), and finally a highlight (yes, three separate paint bottles). First you paint on the base shade. Second comes the middle shade which indicates the general direction of light and begins to delineate general shapes and folds in clothing; make sure to leave the base shade showing where the are shadows on your figure. And finally comes the highlight that finishes shape definitions and indicates where strong light is striking your figure.

This "stacking" of colors is called layering and it is a great method if you want to transition to more advance techniques. You can begin the transition by simply adding more layers (which requires you to mix more shades of color between each value in your triad.) Mixing these extra hues teaches you blending. Blending is similar to layering except instead of waiting for each layer to dry before adding the next, you add the second layer before the first has dried. This gives you a little time to blend where the edges of the two hues meet.

Looks like crap up close but great from afar. This is deliberate; read on!
From layering, you can also easily learn to glaze. Glazing is similar to layering except you apply your colors as several very transparent layers. Building up the color in this way gives you excellent control over the hue value, and gives you a deep, rich color. (Confession: I rarely use this technique, not to say don't try it for yourself.)

Many English system painters still exercise careful brush control, placing strokes exactingly (check out the painting of Steve Dean and Kevin Dallimore.) I prefer an impressionistic approach. A comment on The Miniatures Page called my brush work "heavy handed." I think this is a fair assessment. I layer as explained earlier, but I don't place the paint -- I simply drop the colors close to where the need to be, using rough brush strokes and roughly defined edges. I included a close-up photo of a barbarian to illustrate just how crappy my actual brush work is up close, but how the final result can still turn out nicely.

I paint with rough strokes because I'm painting figures not for display, but for the gaming table. Figures used for gaming will be seen mostly at arm's length; the subtleties of glazing and blending will be lost at a distance. Layering can be purposely used to exaggerate color and features. These exaggerations, at distance, will visually blend together. I prefer my impressionistic approach, honestly and simply, because I can do it much faster than if I used controlled strokes like the aformentioned Steve Dean and Kev Dallimore.

That's the basic of how I approach my painting. There are many other techniques that can be used in conjunction with the English system (dry brushing, washing, dip, overbrushing etc.) but I just wanted to touch on the simple basics of how I paint.


Steve Dean Painting, look through the gallery and you'll see great examples of very-controlled brush and layering work.
Northstar has a free online magazine. Search under latest content to find how-to articles by Kevin Dallimore.
If you don't mind spending a few dollars, I recommend Kevin Dallimore's Foundry painting guide.


Foundry paints are set up in triads, but they are more expensive than most and are not consistent in quality.
Reaper sells its Master Series as triads. Keep in mind, the Master Series uses more flow agent in each bottle. This paint is meant to be used more by those who prefer to blend their paint, but they still work OK with layer painting (this is only from what I have read; I haven't actually tried this range myself).
For layering, you might check out Reaper's Master "HD" line. More opaque, faster-drying colors, but they are not necessarily arranged as triads. Sometimes this range is difficult to find outside of the Reaper site; they're easy to find, but they're usually "out of stock." If you don't mind paying retail price (which isn't that bad, actually,) just purchase them direct from Reaper.
Vallejo paint is also not arranged as triads, but you can still purchase enough bottles/hues to set up your own triads based on your tastes. Vallejo are priced similar to other ranges and are widely available online. You can even find a limited selection at Hobby Lobby.
P3 by Privateer Press is a decent line packaged similar to Foundry (same manufacturer maybe?) but you their price is more in line with other paint ranges (a little over $3 a bottle.) Also not sold as triads.

There are many more paints, these are just the ones (except the Reaper Master Series) that I have actually used.

Even though some ranges aren't advertised as triads, you can still pick and choose colors (even from different ranges) to create your own triads -- My original caucasian flesh recipe used five colors from three different manufacturers.

Mice and Mystics Centipede

Since finishing my 42mm samurai, it's been slow around the painting table. I've finished a few things -- some zombicide, Flash Point firefighters and a hodge podge of Bones figures for Jeff.

That's a 32mm (from feet to eyes) figure
next to Mr. Centipede.
Here is the latest in randomness, a centipede for the board game Mice and Mystics. This is my second copy of this figure, so I might sell this one. I painted him quick, with broad brush strokes, so that the figure will look better at arm's length. But he still looks sufficiently icky up close.

I have a few more Zombicide survivors to paint as well as some more Mice and Mystics figures (some converted rats.) Work life has been busy, so the table won't be very active. At the very least, I want to get around to painting a few figures to test out my Vallejo flesh recipes.

And now I'll leave you with a photo of my samurai gangsters arrayed Yojimbo style -- in a large, cowardly mass. My samurai are still my favorites.