Sunday, December 2, 2012

On the painting table, 12/2/12

The Stormwall is assembled, but I'm procrastinating on painting it.  In the meantime, I started on the pods. I'm going to try some weathering effects on them once the painting is complete.  I'm thinking soot on the vanes and mud on the base.

Storm Pods

Arlan is almost done.  I tried to add some details by painting his gauges with a needle and "danger zone" but I'm not sure if it really adds much to the model.  I still struggle with painting metal, especially on isolated spots.  Larger bits are easier.
Arlan Strangewayes

The Thunderhead has been assembled and primed for months now.  Having just finished pNemo, I'm trying to get some progress made on him.  Recently I started using a Vallejo "extra opaque" brown to undercoat the gold instead of the typical black.  It's worked out really well.  Even when base-coating white, which I normally avoid with metals, the brown is dark and opaque enough to cover fine.

Also in the queue, I'm assembling Boomhowlers and Jonas Murdoch.  They should be a nice complement to a large majority of Cygnar lists.

Monday, November 5, 2012


DC brought his Galleon to Warmachine Weekend and it looked amazing.  I just wanted to throw up a quick picture of it.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Not to forget the Circle

I painted these a couple of months ago, but this is the first time I've had a chance to post pictures.  We've got some new additions including the Bloodtrackers + Nuala and Gallows Grove.  I've yet to put either on the table but hopefully this weekend it will happen.



Gallows Grove

Monday, October 29, 2012

New editions to Cygnar

I finally got around to photographing the recent models I've added to my Cygnar army.  Despite writing a tutorial on photographing minis, I'm certainly no expert.  I'm not super-pleased with how the pics turned out. They're lacking contrast and look flat to me.  Click on the photos to embigginate.

Gun Mages 
Stormblade Gunners

Stormblade Officer Attachment

Stormblade Infantry

Defender - front

Defender - back

Ol' Rowdy - front

Ol' Rowdy

Ol' Rowdy

Hunter - front

Hunter - back
Disclaimer:  The guys below were done quite a while ago.  I look at them and cringe a little inside.  Still, I like to keep them here for the sake of continuity.
Journeyman Warcaster

Journeyman Warcaster - back
Squire, saddle my horse and fill my tankard!
Squire - front

Squire - back

Monday, October 8, 2012

Photographing Minis

I've written a brief tutorial on how I photograph my minis.  It's a simple setup designed to get the best results with the least complexity.  I wrote it assuming little familiarity with photography.  If you're not satisfied with the photos you're taking, have a read and see if anything below strikes a chord.

I've also included some "problem" photos as examples.


The most important part of the setup is not the camera, but the lighting.  There's a limit to what your camera can do and without good lighting, you're fighting an uphill battle.

What's good lighting?  In the context of miniature photography, there are three qualities to light that matter the most - brightness, diffusion, and color.

Ideally, you want to flood a miniature with enough diffuse light that makes for a bright image, but doesn't cast shadows onto the background.  Background shadows are really distracting.

  • Brightness - room lighting is typically not enough.  You'll want to use at least two external lights positioned to the side and front.  [image here]  If the camera has a flash on it, I recommend using it.  The downside of using a bright flash is that it's very direct and usually bright, which will leave shiny spots on the model.  However, if you're supplementing extra lights, it shouldn't fire very brightly.  They're pretty smart that way.  
  • Diffusion - the best case for lighting is when you look at the miniature and you can't tell where the light source is.  Bright, diffuse lights will wash out the background shadows very well.  I made a light box out of a cardboard box and tracing paper.  It does a pretty good job.  
The background shadows are a result of too much direct light, probably from the main camera flash.
  • Color - this one is a bit harder to control.  I look for "daylight" colored lights or "warm" lights.  The color of the light affects what the photo technology refers to as White Balance.  Fortunately, this is one of the easiest things to correct for in photo editing software.

This is an example of poor white balance and too intense directional lighting


The camera is the least important part of the setup.  You can get good results with a craptacular camera (even a camera phone) if you follow some basic guidelines.  Most cameras now allow you to select various shooting modes including "aperture priority."  That's about all you need in a camera.

"Macro mode" is not needed.  In fact, I recommend that you don't use it at all.  More on that below.


Here's how to do it in a few bullet points.

  1. Use a Tripod
  2. Avoid "macro mode"
  3. Set your camera's shooting mode to aperture priority and select an aperture between f/8~11
  4. Move the camera away from the subject and zoom in
  5. Turn on the flash if you have it
  6. Unless you have a remote trigger (if you're not sure, then you don't) use the camera's timer function to snap the picture.  
A tripod is essential.  With the amount of light present in your house, you probably won't be able to photograph at a high aperture using a shutter speed fast enough to eliminate motion blur, especially when zooming in.  As a rule of thumb, if my focal length is 50 mm (which I don't consider wide angle, or zoomed in), I won't go slower than 1/60th of a second on the shutter.  If you double the focal length, increase the shutter speed accordingly.  At 100 mm, I want at least 1/125 sec.  The tripod allows you to use a much slower shutter speed without losing sharpness to motion blur.  So, it's strongly recommended that we use a tripod.  You're not as steady as you might think.  

Avoid "macro mode."  Macro mode lets you get really close to your subject.  In this case, you don't want to be close, you want to be far.  More on that below.

An aperture around f/8~11 will increase your depth of focus, helping to keep the whole miniature sharp.  Moving away and zooming in will flatten the image and make the miniature stand out from the background.  It's a neat effect.  
Notice how the ax is out of focus.  This resulted from using a very low aperture.

The on-camera flash is optional.  If you want more light on the front of the model, or if you don't have enough lights, you can use it.  That's something you'll have to play with.

Finally, and critically important, don't hand-trigger the shot.  Since we're using a small aperture (high number) the camera will likely compensate by using a slow shutter, unless you have a ton of extra light.  In that case, the image will be very sensitive to motion blur.  Meaning, if the camera moves, the image will blur.  It only takes a tiny amount and because we're zooming in, that motion will be exaggerated.

In summary

Use a lot of diffuse light, shoot on aperture priority mode between f/8~11, always use a tripod, and don't trigger by hand.  A light box can be made really cheaply and helps out a great deal.

I'd like to develop this tutorial more, so if you have questions, please don't hesitate to ask them.

So, what does it look like when everything comes together?  

This is one of my favorite shots.  The detail stands out and the light isn't harsh.  The little bit of shine seems purposeful.

Good shooting!

New photo setup

I'm trying out a fancy new photo setup.  The pictures below were taken with a light booth made out of a cardboard box, two external lights, and my iPhone.  Just goes to show you that it doesn't take much to get half-decent photos of your dudes.

Gorman di'Wulfe

There are still some shadows present below, but I think this will be mitigated once I strap the flash onto the SLR.  The iPhone camera is surprisingly good and it does fine in a pinch.
Smaller Gorman

The key is to flood the model(s) with enough diffuse light to eliminate some shadows.  Diffusing the light also makes for fewer shiny highlights.  You can also change the position of your light sources to add depth to the model.

A common mistake people make is using a very low aperture that limits their depth of focus.  If one part of the mini is sharp, but the rest is blurry, that's what's happening.  Best case is to use a tripod and lower the shutter speed.  Also, if you have a zoom, move the camera away from the subject and zoom in.  This can effectively blur out the background while keeping the model sharp.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Centurion Piston Spear Conversion

I don't do much in terms of modifications to models since I'm always short on time in getting them ready for the table.  I made an exception in the case of the Centurion's spear.  I wanted to replace the spear in the metal kit with the one from the plastic warjack kit.  As the pictures will attest, I was largely successful.

Who doesn't want a bigger spear?  The weapon on the metal version of Cygnar's Centurion warjack is ridiculously tiny (seen in the photo below, right side).  It's a toothpick.  The version from the plastic kit - now we're talking.  To quote Crocodile Dundee - "That's not a Piston Spear, THIS is a Piston Spear."

Plastic Vs. Metal

Monday, October 1, 2012

Painting with Stormgunners

I picked up a few things from watching the Jen Haley and Anne Foerster DVD's and tried them out on the Storm Gunners.  Instead of using washes for shading, thinned paint was placed deliberately where the shadows would be.  I've done this before, but watching it done right added to my confidence level.  Also, I  learned to leverage the fact that the amount of paint that is laid down increases from the beginning to the end of the brush stroke (when it's thin enough).  This was especially useful with the highlights as opposed to shadows since it can be difficult to end a brush stroke in the crevice of a model.  

The other thing I did was fully commit to the edge-highlighting.  It's another thing I've played with in the past but only had to guess at how it's done right.  Turns out it's pretty simple.  Remove a lot of paint from the brush - not as much as dry-brushing, but enough that it won't flow off onto the model.  Then, just drag the side of the brush against the edge you want to highlight.  The thinner the line, the more you can increase the highlight level of the color compared to the base coat without it looking weird.

The models in the image are incomplete, but the shading and highlighting on the blue armor is done.

Blue armor is complete with shading and edge hightlighting

Monday, September 24, 2012

Vallejo Paints & Citadel, PP, Reaper equivalents

I really like Vallejo paints.  Everything I've come across is quality.  Their primers are some of the best products on the market.  That said, there are a LOT of colors available and there is some overlap between their paint lines.  Admittedly, I'm a bit of a completest, tending toward OCD.  That means I want all of the colors.  All of them.  To that end, I put together a list of the Vallejo paints along with some of their equivalents.   

I started with this fantastic table that is intended to be a cross-reference for Citadel paints and expanded it to include the three lines of Vallejo paints.  I added the paints along with swatches of their color.  This shows the overlap between the different lines - Game Color, Model Color, and Model Air.  

Model Color includes most of the original 72 Game Color line but does not include the newest 15-20 that have been added.  Relatively, there isn't much overlap between the Model Air line and the other two.  With all that said, here's a link to the spreadsheet.  Since you can't normally sort a Google spreadsheet without having edit capability, I created three tabs, each sorted on a different paint line. 


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Combine Melee/Combined Ranged Attacks - a spreadsheet

Link to the Spreadsheet

When I started playing with units that had the combined melee/combine range attack ability, I was generally confused about how to configure my attacks to be the most effective.  If I want to take down a heavy, should I lump everyone into a single attack?  It turns out, no, not always.  It may even be different if you're benefiting from an extra dice for charging.  If I want to use my Long Gunners to kill as many Iron Fang Pikemen in a turn, how many should I group up?  What about against Fennblades?  Actually, the answer is different for each.

Against a single target, it's a little more straight-forward than against multiple targets.  We're just concerned about piling as much damage into one guy that typically has high armor.

For multiple targets, assuming your goal is take as many targets off of the table as you can, you also have to factor in the target's health.

The spreadsheet allows you to enter stats for the attacker and defender along with the configuration of the CRA/CMA.  I sometimes refer to that as CXA.  The results tell you how much damage to expect against a single target or how many models you're likely to kill in a single activation.  Any number of attackers can be represented, up to 10.  I'll probably need to increase that to allow for some of the unit attachments.  We also don't take into account the slightly better stats of some of the officer attachments.

To use the spreadsheet:

After clicking on the link, select 'File->Make a Copy' to copy the file to your own Google Drive.  Once there, you can make all the changes you like.

Link to the Spreadsheet

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bombshell Bombardier, Druid Gone Wilder - What's in the Box?

I saw someone asking about the contents of the two Gencon 2012 beer models from Privateer Press.  Mine arrived Thursday, and I took some pictures.

The Bombshell has quite a few parts.  Despite that, assembly seems pretty straightforward.
Bombardier Bombshell
 The Wilder just has a couple of pieces to assemble to the main body.
Druid Gone Wilder
These models are fantastic.  I can't wait to get them assembled and painted.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Judicator @ Gencon 2012

Matt DiPietro was painting a Judicator at the Privateer Press booth during Gencon.  In the few photos below Ron Kruzie has taken over the labors.

It's a beautiful model - one of the best looking Colossals.  But to be honest, they all look great.  Make sure you click on the photo and hit zoom.  They're pretty large.

Gencon 2012 - Privateer Press Models

 Just got back from Gencon 2012!  I wanted to make a quick post about some of the new models I saw there.  The photos I've seen to date weren't that great, so I'm posting these from the Privateer Press booth for folks to admire.

Druid Gone Wilder and Bombardier Bombshell are Gencon exclusives.  They were sold out by the time I got to the booth, but they were available in the PP store during the con.  I ended up ordering both.  Gorgeous models.  

Click the images for slightly larger photos.

Druid Gone Wilder

Bombardier Bombshell

Updated!  You can see the contents of the blisters here 

General Ossrum

Ashlynn D'Elyse resculpt
Ashlynn was actually an entry into the painting competition, but I'm afraid I don't know who painted it.  If you happen to know, please leave a note in the comments.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What I've Learned about Painting - Part 2

...continued from Part 1

As I mentioned in the first post, these are based on my own learnings and experience.  The list goes on...

People like bullet points.  Here they are:
  • Matte medium is my friend - Adding matte medium allows you to maintain the same tone, but with increased transparency or less (but still smooth!) coverage.  Water will also make the paints more transparent, but the pigment becomes really splotchy.  I use it for washes to add transparency, but still encourage the paint to settle in the cracks. 
  • Keep a damp brush handy for cleaning up mistakes when they happen.  A little more water in the paint may make the difference between having time to clean up and not.
  • Planning makes a big difference in efficiency.  Figure out ahead of time what's getting dry-brushed and do that first.  Lately I'm putting down the first base coat on the whole model, then doing the areas that need dry-brushing.  
  • Glazing is used when you want to put down a thin layer of paint, but in thinning it, you don't want it running all over the place and settling in the cracks.  Matte Medium can be used to make glazes, but I've also tried Glazing Medium.  I'm too newbish to tell the difference.
  • I'm still trying to speed up my painting so I'm doing a lot of work in batches.  Build some models, prime some models, paint some models.  My speed with the brush isn't getting better, but the overall workflow is. The airbrush helps with that...
  • Airbrushes are sweet!  I'm finding the biggest benefit is speed and consistency.  Currently, I use it mostly for undercoating and base-coating.  You can get much, much better coverage than a spray can of paint while never having to worry about applying too much paint and filling in detail.  The downside is that they require some setup and maintenance time and additional equipment.  I could probably write a whole post about things I learned about air-brushing.
  • I'm still thinning my paints with a 20-1 water-flow enhancer mix.  I think my brushes are beginning to suffer for it.  The paint wicks up into the ferrule much easier when using the flow enhancer and it's getting harder to remove.  Still, I love the flow enhancer, especially when painting details.  I can use a really light touch and don't have to worry about surface tension sucking a glob of paint off of the brush. 

And because everyone likes pictures:
Rupert Carvolo - WIP

April Circle

I'm a bit late putting these up, but April was a slow painting month.  I'm making up for it in May.  I'm steadily painting models for a Baldur theme list.  To date, I only had two Circle casters painted and table-ready - Kaya and Grayle.  This month I added eKaya and Baldur.  I'm getting a lot of practice painting sticks and stones, which are commonly used in Circle to break them bones. 

Otherwise known as  "Kaya the Moonblood" due to her red pants.  Thank my wife for that one.
Kaya, the Moonhunter

I really like painting solos.  Baldur's model is clean and well-defined.  That's something that makes painting easier for me.  I don't enjoy painting models when I can't tell what a thing is.  Is that part of the coat, or is it his undershirt?  Is that surface pants or boot?  I struggle.  Perhaps I should not worry about it and just do what looks sweet.  On second thought, I'm too OCD to go that route.

Baldur, the Stonecleaver

Spoiler:  In May I finish the rest of Baldur's theme force.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Big month of Circle Painting

As mentioned previously, I wanted to field a T4 eKaya list for the March Madness event.  Ultimately, I needed 35 pts painted plus the caster - in one month.  I came close, but ultimately just fell short.  eKaya and Laris didn't get painted in time, so I fell back on a Grayle list that used all but two of the models.  Here's what made it off the table in March.

Shifting Stones

Warpborn Skinwalkers

Pureblood Warpwolf

Gnarlhorn Satyr

Druid Wilder

Druids of Orboros Overseer

Druids of Orboros

Pyre Troll