Thursday, June 30, 2011

Charity Auction: Homes for Wounded Soldiers

Well folks, no matter what you say about 40K Radio, or Battle Foam, and believe me a lot of people say a lot of negative things about them, it's hard to deny that their heart is in the right place. After all, when they sponsor charity auctions, and do other charitable work, they really are putting their hearts out there for those in need.

Personally, I'm a fan of both, and after my trip to the UK and having met and hung out with Romeo (owner of Battlefoam and 40K Radio) and the Freebootaz who also attended the trip for nearly 10 days, know that he's a great guy when it comes down to supporting the hobby community, and the global community.

Their latest effort to spread hope and help to the community comes with this new charity auction!

Proceeds will go towards quarterback hunting, mullet loving, NFL pro, Jared Allen's charity, Homes for Wounded Warriors.

So please, if this is something that has a place in your heart, or you just want to help give hope to the families of soldiers wounded while fighting for their country and their families, please check out the auction and bid. And if you don't win the bid, or it's out of your economic ability to bid, but still would like to contribute, go directly to Jared Allen's website and contribute there.

Thanks and kudos! to Romeo, 40K Radio, Freeboota Darksheer, and all the multitude of service men and women from around the world who helped put this together! This is something special, and I hope it does very well.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Artisan Painter Series: Part 1 - Anatomy of the Brush


Welcome to the first in my series on becoming a better painter. In this series I will talk about the tools of the trade, preparing your subject, basic, intermediate, advanced and master level techniques. I will also discuss basic colour theory, composition, layout, execution and presentation, including photographing your finished projects, and post image processing.

For now though, let's look at the tools of the craft!

Anatomy of the Brush

The first step to becoming a better painter is to know your tools. The painter's primary tool is the paint brush. These come in a vast assortment of shapes and sizes, but in the end, they are all constructed primarily the same way.

The main construction of a brush consists of a handle. Attached to the handle is a Bristle Head. This is attached by a metal Ferrule, which is typically crimped to the handle.

Pictured here is an example brush. This particular brush is round, with long bristles and a fat belly.

The handle of a good brush is usually made from wood. The handle is often turned in a tapered long shape, designed to be comfortable for the hand. But, with the increase in suppliers making fine quality paint brushes, new handle shapes are appearing that are supposedly designed to increase comfort, improve grip, and overall brush control. The style of handle you select should be based on what you find is comfortable, but be warned, not all handle shapes are available from all manufacturers. For this, you'll have to go into a store and try gripping several brushes. Imagine yourself painting with them, holding them in your normal comfortable grip, and trace the shapes and outlines of the back of your other hand with the bristles. It will quickly become apparent if the brush is suitable for your grip.

Though there are some brushes available that have handles made from moulded plastic, these generally are lower cost brushes, meant for adhesives, or generally mixing messy materials. I do not recommend them for painting as they are usually of cheap quality. These are the likes of brushes available in water colour paint sets for children, or model builder kits. If you have brushes like that, they make excellent stir sticks and mixing brushes. But that's all I'd recommend them for.

The ferrule is typically made from stainless steel, or some other corrosion resistant nickel or tin plated material, sometimes brass or aluminum. The ferrule is often a tapered cylinder. It is designed to hold the bristle head at the narrow end, and fit onto the handle at the wider end. Some manufacturers only glue the ferrule to the handle. Unfortunately, that compromises the quality and lifespan of the brush, so you want to look for a brush that has a good crimp. Otherwise you may experience a brush head that falls off the handle in mid stroke, spoiling your piece.

Bristle Head:
The bristle head is the business end of your paint brush. It is typically made from a bunch of hand selected fibers, often a form of animal hair, but is also avaialable in synthetic fibers. Typically, the bundle is shaped, and tied together, to form the general shape of the brush. Longer hairs or fibers will result in longer bristle heads, and shorter fibers, shorter bristle heads. The selection of fibers can also influence the overall breadth of the brush, making them fat, or skinny. They can also influence the shape of the brush, weather it is round, flat, tapered, fanned, etc.

After the fibers are tied together, they are inserted into the ferrule. The handle is then inserted into the ferrule, and pressed in so that the brush head is tight. The point where the brush head contacts the handle is the Heel. This is pressed together snuggly to avoid the bristle head coming loose, and is often lightly crimped, especially on flat brushes.

Finally, the ferrule is Crimped to the handle to ensure a solid contact. Different manufacturers may crimp more than once, to distribute the forces and ensure a longer lasting brush.

When selecting brushes, the Bristle Head is the aspect of the brush which you will pay most attention to, and will vary depending on your painting task. The key to this is to determine the appropriate size of brush, and to understand how you will be using the brush for varying techniques. The factors you will look for are overall length and thickness. The longer the bristle, generally, the more paint you can load onto the brush, but the more difficult it becomes to control. The shorter the brush, the less paint you can load, but the easier it become to control. However, if you get too short, then the diameter of the brush may be larger than the length, and your brush no longer can be pointed. Ideally, you want a brush with a length not much more than 4 times longer than its diameter. This will give you decent control, and paint volume.

The aspects you normally will be looking at here are the Tip and the Belly.

Often called a Tip, Point, or Toe, (depending on the shape of the bristle head) this is generally the very end of the bristles. This can be used for creating fine point detail, stippled effects, sharp lines, etc. When selecting a brush, you should ensure the tip is well shaped. There should be no splayed or damaged bristles, or you will never be able to get a good result no matter how good your brush control. When selecting your brush, hold it as normal, and gently bend the bristles, as if you are doing a paint stroke. When the pressure is released, the bristles should bounce back, and the tip should return to normal, and not remain splayed.

Sometimes also called the Edge, the Belly of the brush is what holds the majority of the paint. A nice full and thick belly will allow you to hold more paint and water, and reduce the amount of times you need to load the brush. It will also be able to keep the paint on the brush wet longer, as you can hold more water or thinner. This portion of the brush can also be used for broad brush strokes, especially when base coating models or painting wide expanses, like on banners. A finer brush with a finer belly can also be used for making nice long flat strokes, and for hardline edge work, by running the belly sideways along the surface. So when choosing a brush, it's wise to have detail brushes with thinner bellies than if you are selecting large base coating brushes, but not too thin as to avoid the paint drying out too quickly.


This concludes the Anatomy of a Brush.

In future articles, I will refer to this terminology when describing techniques, so familiarize yourself with the terminology described above, and get comfortable with holding and manipulating a clean and dry brush.

Artisan Painter Series: Index

Monday, June 27, 2011

Vindicare Part 3 - For the Gold...

Recently, things have been very busy, so I have not made any updates. I won't bore you with the details, except to say that one of the things that had me so busy was the Astronomi-Con Toronto tournament on June 11-12. Now that that is said and done, and I've had a chance to rest and visit with friends from out of town, and deal with day to day life, I have decided to do an update.

This update comes at the request of a friend of mine, who was also at the Astronomi-Con Toronto. When we were talking about hobby stuff he mentioned that I never did finish the Vindicare Assassin that I was working on, and he would really like to see the finished model.

Well, George, this one is for you!

Here you can see I blended all the grey highlights down to the black for a deeper tone. This also added more weight and volume to the model. This was done with wet blending and a Badab Black Wash to equalize the tone.

I've also painted up the leather belts and pouches, blending from a Scorched Brown to a lighter Vallejo Game Colour Brown Leather colour. The face mask started with GW Graveyard Earth and blended up with Bleached Bone.

The brass shells were painted with Vallejo Game Colour Tinny Tin, Brassy Brass, then Shining Gold. The metal was painted with VGC Gun Metal, then Silver. Both were given a Devlan Mud wash, followed by a Badab Black wash. The gun metal was then given an Asurman Blue wash, and then final highlights on all the metal were with VGC Silver.

To add some contrast to the model, I gave the guns a deep black coat of paint with very subtle highlights in a Vallejo Game Colour Caymen Green. I then blended up from Vallejo Game Colour Black and Caymen Green to Vallejo Game Colour Yellow Olive, washed with Badab Black wash, and then a final highlight of pure Yellow Olive.

The scope was painted with a standard red gem effect, going from VGC Black through GW Blood Red, Blazing Orange and Sunburst Yellow. To tie it together this was glazed with the old GW Purple Ink. And a single VGC White reflection spot was added. The eye lens was painted similarly, except only going to red. A purple glaze was then used to colour shift the red to make it deeper and more menacing.

The rocky base was painted very simply. First it was given an overbrush of Vallejo Game Colour Stonewall Grey, then given several thin washes of GW Devlan Mud, very thin Thraka Green, followed by several thin washes of GW Badab Black.

This completes the Vindicare Assassin model, though I may come back to add some yellow static grass to the base to hint at some dried weeds.

Related Article:
Vindicare Part 1 - Strike a Pose
Vindicare Part 2 - Back in Black
Vindicare Part 3 - For the Gold

Games Workshop

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Hobby: Kicking it up a Notch

Hobby: Kicking it up a Notch

Many of you who read this blog are very familiar with Games Workshops games, and the tournament scene that surrounds them. Many tournaments are exercises in best general, and can be very cut throat, and over the top competitive -- especially when there are prizes for performance involved which tends to bring out more Win At All Costs attitudes. Others are more casual affairs, leaning towards campaign style play. Still others promote teamwork as doubles tournaments or team tournaments where you and a pal, or a team of pals build themed allied armies to play against other teams, and your final standing is determined by combined performance, painting, and other scores. Finally, there are the hobby tournaments. These are geared not at just playing and winning, but showing off your hobby mojo - bringing the whole package to the fore, and doing a collective geek out. Whatever your cup of tea, there is probably a tournament, or organised play event for you.

My prefrence is the Hobby Tournament. I often recall a descriptive term used for such a tournament by Games Workshop back in the early halcion days of the Grand Tournaments of the 90s, and Jervis Johnson referred to this great vision as a grand pageant. And that strikes me as somethign aptly descriptive of these tournaments, especially when you consider such things as painting scores, appearance and presentation, where army after beautiful army is put on display for all to see. It can often be like a beauty pageant, where people vie for top honours in not just wins vs losses, but in painting skills with awards for best painted armies and single figures, and for congeniality, in Best Sportsmanship, to name but a few of the common types of awards. It's a lot like one of those custom car shows where everybody parks their cool custom in a big supermarket parking lot and wanders around checking out all the other cool toys.

Ultimately, it's a geek fest. And they are, in my opinion, the best of the types of tournaments one can attend. One such tournament is the Astronomi-Con series. This tournament, spawned in 2000, is now in it's 11th year of operation, and spans North America with annual events in Winnipeg (the home town of the organizers), Toronto, Vancouver, and Texas. The format is a 6 game tournament, which includes composition scoring for first game seeding, sportsmanship scoring, painting scoring, generalship scoring, along with presentation scoring for display boards as well as army list hand ins. Each table is uniquely configured with custom terrain, and a unique scenario invented by the touranment organizers to suit that specific table.

One of my favourite aspects of the Astro (as it is called by alum) tournaments, are the unique custom scenarios. Each has different modes of deployment, including various deployment zones, orders of deployment, and special escalation rules for early reserves arrival, to name but a few. The scenarios are all objective based, with primary objectives for each player to achive. They also have secondary objectives, and the "Price of Failure" which reward or penalize you based on how well you accomplish those objectives.

This model was, in fact, the basis for the current style of mission we see today, where most missions are objective based, and the tournament organizers were actually given thanks in the Games Workshop Warhammer 40,000 Special Missions book for inspiring that book, and contributing to the creation of that book. In essence, this tournament is held in very high regard, not just by the average 40K player, but by many members, past and present, of the studio staff - many of whom have participated themselves in the event at various times.

Well, this weekend (June 11-12, 2011) Astro is back in Toronto, and I'll be participating. As I said, it's one of my favourite events. This one is, I believe, Toronto's 8th Astro, and promises to be a great one. It will be held at the Toronto Police Association Banquet Hall and, at the time of this writing, there are still space left for any last minute sign ups.

Anyway, for this tournament, I will be bringing my own personalized Space Marines chapter. It's one most alumni will be familiar with, as I have brought it for the last several years, adding to and changing it a little every year. This year, I have settled on a mix fast and hard hitting, but fragile, with a converted Pedro Kantor as the central character. Needless to say, I have spent a lot of time with this army and, being my own chapter, I have a very strong attachment to it - so every time it's been smashed to splinters by careless security officers or other random stupidity it truly hit home, but that's another story.

As I mentioned earlier, presentation is a component of the scoring for Astronomi-Con, including paint scoring, display tray, army list, etc. Well, though it's not a big component, and I have always done fairly well in presentation, including my army list, I wanted to do something special. This is, after all, my army and I want to showcase it as best as I can, because I want others to enjoy looking at it as much as I enjoyed building and painting and creating it.

So...this year I kicked it up a notch. While previous versions of my army list got more fanciful, with full colour illustrations, and lengthy stories, they were always just staple or spiral bound and I always wanted to do something more professional. So I did.

No. This is not a new codex army book from Games Workshop that got snuck through the radar. This is my own tournament army list for submission. But, as you can see, this isn't your every day army list submission! I made this book from scratch. I developed most of the art work, wrote the stories, took photos, did the layout, printed, and "perfect" bound the book by hand to replicate the look and feel of an official Games Workshop codex. It was quite an enjoyable, if laborious, process and was well worth the effort in my mind. I'm hoping this will knock the socks off everybody who sees it this weekend at Astronomi-Con.

Well, I'm off to go play.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Digital 40K: And Now For Something Fun

Remember in the late 80s early 90s when game consoles were 8 and 16 bit machines, the advent of the game Contra, and just how fun a scrolling shooter could be with some upbeat digital music with a fast tempo that kept your eyes and fingers twitching at dizzying and ever increasing speeds? Well, it looks like the guys at THQ took inspiration from games like that and have come out with KILL TEAM!

KILL TEAM looks like it's designed for several systems and should be available in July on the XBox 360 Arcade for about 800 Xbox Live points.

Check out the trailer for some reminiscing with a 40K flavour, and for those of you young'uns who have idea what Contra was, imagine this frantic pace, but on a flat 2d scroller.

Watch to the end if you have any interest in the new "Space Marine" game from THQ as purchase of this game will score you an extra for the Space Marines game.