Sunday 25 September 2016

Chaos Space Marines: Death Guard Rhino

Finished up the Death Guard Rhino ahead of schedule.

It's not the greatest, but it has been a very helpful test piece to move me in the right direction for my colour scheme, playing with some weathering techniques and generally establishing how I want to paint my vehicles. It may have some dust applied to the tracks and bottom, but currently there's no basing theme for them - which I plan to work out with the infantry units.

Quick shot of the interior to show off all the panels adding visual interest. Funny how only a little paint on the inside can add that much more to the interior.

This panel is actually designed for the inside of the Rhino, but obviously that's almost impossible to photograph in-situ. I was playing around with trying to get a feeling of the daemon straining. It was initially glued on as a quick placeholder simply to help the two hatch panels stay in position while I fiddled with it during priming, but I liked it so much it stayed there. The face is glossed to give a wet feel.

My kids assessed this paintjob and I received two comments back: eldest said "amazing!", second one said "wow smells like sausages". No. Me neither.

Saturday 17 September 2016

The Art of "It'll Do"

... or How I Stopped Procrastinating And Started Finishing Figures

I'm not a great painter. No false modesty there, it's a fact - and while I strive to improve, currently my painting isn't much above average - or perhaps a decent quality tabletop level. This is fine. Where I have struggled the most is completing projects and moving to the next, and stop to think about how to rework something. But ... what is happening is that my projects are being finished and in reasonable time.

No magic tricks involved, but some simple techniques and a recent change of mindset. So I thought it might be nice to share how this has happened for the benefit of anyone else in the same position.

I'm getting quicker at the bigger tasks

After taking a recent painting course with the excellent Siege Studios (more on that in the future), they kept reminding us that half the battle of painting is the art of repetition. Doing the same task, time and time again, until you're better at it. Simple, right?

So the last week for me has been a focus on painting faces and adding shading and highlighting. As a result, the time it takes me to complete a face has sped up significantly. Okay, it's not amazing (yet!) but the same task is taking a good hour or two less than it did a month ago. Practice and practice again and suddenly there's all this extra time in my evening that wasn't there before.

I accept my projects won't be perfect

This is really hard for me as by and large, in most things I'm a completionist, mildly obsessive about everything being released to the same quality, and projects being at a high level of polish. While laudable as a work trait, it carried through into my hobby and has had a tendency to let me massively procrastinate slow me down significantly and needs to be unlearned for painting.

There's an old software development adage that the first 90% of a job takes 90% of the time, and the last 10% of the job takes 90% of the time. (source) But here's the nice part, and you may already know this ... by stopping at that 90% (okay, sometimes 91%) it means I can move on to the next project in the same year.

Very few painters will ever say "yep, this was perfect - there's nothing I'd change" ... it's a continually evolving and improving process, but when you're picking up the brush ask one question at the start "what's the reason for painting this?".

My latest project, Morticians from Guild Ball, are a good example of this - I want them on the table and being played.

Are they perfect? Not by a long chalk. There's a shonky left eye on Silence, Graves' gloves need another highlight or two, Obulus' straps could get an edge highlight, Silence's robes need more glazing. Could I spend infinite time sitting there trying to get them perfect? Certainly. Would I improve them enough to warrant that extra time spent? Probably not.

But in addition I got to play with new techniques. From the motley crew above, in order, I've played with: painting white shirts, glowing effects, adding blood, texture on robes, leather, stone and wet blending on fabric.

If these were competition pieces, then I would happily agonise over the final important steps to lift them up beyond my normal level, pushing to reach for the elusive next step up. If they were practice pieces designed to improve technique then it needs that extra 10% to boost my skill levels - but in most cases ... they're not! The purpose of these figures, for the most part, is to be used and played with; having them sitting unpainted on a box or unfinished my desk does them no justice at all.

Getting through this mental barrier has easily been the trickiest part of the hobby for me in the last year.

I will be okay with errors

Ideally you should finish a project, examine your handiwork and say "that was good, but next time I'll do this differently". Feel free to make errors - but try and make new and exciting errors each time (source) rather than retreading the same well worn ground every time.

Sure, if you look at my figures up close on the photographs then there are mistakes aplenty. My blending and layering is a slow work in progress, sometimes I miss clearly sculpted details that are evident to everyone but me, occasionally my brush overpaints something it shouldn't.

In short - it'll do. I'm okay with that.

Sunday 11 September 2016

Guild Ball Morticians: Graves

Last one of the regulars is finished, Graves.

Primer nightmare gave me an slightly gritty surface but I ploughed on (to my regret - wish I'd stripped) but at least he's now finished up. Strange model this, I didn't like it at the beginning but he's grown on me while painting it up. Colour scheme is a little duller and perfunctory than the others, he strikes me as a man who doesn't have time for anything that gets in the way of his job - so he gets a single purple feather by way of a highlight.

Two more to go - Bonesaw and Scalpel. A little of my enthusiasm for this project is returning on the basis that the finish line is in sight. Nearly there!

Friday 9 September 2016

Guild Ball Morticians: Obulus

Obulus time! The mighty captain, and a mandatory pick.

This now means I'm able to legally field two fully painted teams - Morticians and Fishermen. Bit of a watershed moment as I've never played any tabletop game with fully painted teams before. So even this small achievement feels pretty pleasing.

Oh and here's a ball ...

Exciting, huh?

Do wish I'd approached the display base the same way and trimmed a little from the bottom of the tombstones and sunk them in the base rather than letting them sit atop. Lesson learned for the future.

Determined to complete the full Morticians rosterbefore moving to the next project, so that leaves me with three more figures to do - Graves, Bonesaw and Scalpel. Hoping to have those finished in the next week or two while my mojo's working.

Wednesday 7 September 2016

Guild Ball Morticians: Silence

We have another member of the team wrapped up - this time it's Silence. I can't recall where I saw the white robes for him, but loved the idea and accordingly nicked it and implemented it badly but there you have it.

He's got a bit of (OTT) OSL and I gloss varnished his little decanter of poison. I love playing this guy, he's seriously versatile, tough as nails and capable of handing out significant amounts of pain.

Made a bit of a schoolboy error with my Morticians. I started painting them as a group and having them on the painting table for this long has dampened my enthusiasm to the point I just want them gone now. Beginning to run out of steam, but Obulus is on the table next so on we go!

Monday 5 September 2016

Guild Ball Morticians: Ghast

Continuing my theme of trying to finish up the work-in-progress figures, here's Ghast for the Morticians.

Tried to make the skintones a little greyer in the dark areas, but not a grand success - but he's finished and it's onto the next.

Thursday 1 September 2016

Guild Ball Morticians: Cosset

Second update in the same week? It's like buses! Well, that's if buses were updates on a blog, instead of large red vehicles capable of carrying dozens of people on a predefined route.

Another member of the Morticians finished up, this time it's Cosset. Yes there's a point missing from her trident. It was sadly lost in the great Curious Child Incident of 2016.

I've tried to introduce a bit of texture to the dress and fabric with striping and, while it's a little heavy-handed in places, I like the result so will try again on another figure at some point with a bit more care. One frustration was painting up the poppet doll on back of her belt, then you apply the swooshy fabric and it's now obscured! Grrr.

It also highlights one minor niggling frustration with the Guild Ball range in general - the two petite ladies I've painted so far (Cosset and Angel) have enormous eyes compared to all the other, larger figures. Still, that's nearly a legal team fully painted and I'm hopeful of wrapping a few more figures in the coming weeks.