Friday, February 27, 2015

I finally finished one!

It's still all noses to the grindstones here at Dave Taylor Miniatures, with lots of work for March in the queue. I'm quite happy about that : )

I did carve out some time, however, to finish up this guy, who has been sitting on my desk for a few weeks (thanks to a generous James). He's an early cast of the Quaker robot from the Infamy: Welcome to the Big Smoke game. You can check out my other posts about it here.

He's a nifty little, almost-hound-like cleaning robot with a big lightning gun on his back. Very cool. I went for a simple, Tesla-just-finished-building-this-prototype-in-his-workshop look, with dark cast iron, shinier steel, and some solid brass machined parts.

The base is from Secret Weapon Miniatures' Town Square range.

I hope you like it : )

And here's a size comparison with a FW Thallax.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Guest Post - Damon Drescher - Seeking out a Crystal Brush

Next up, filling the void of hobby on my hobby blog, is my friend Damon Drescher. 
Damon lives on the other side of the country, in the fabled sunny and warm land of 
southern California. An artistic director and designer by trade, Damon paints spectacular 
models and absolutely killer freehand work as you can see on the Freeblade Knight 
he has painted up for this year's Crystal Brush awards. Take It away Damon!

Every October or early November for the last few years, I've start working on my Crystal Brush entry for the coming year. I find I have free time over the holidays that lets me really dedicate time to a project.  I had good success with a Contemptor Dreadnought last year in the Sci-fi/Monstrous Creature category. This year I decided to stay in that category with an Imperial Knight as my entry. The Knight project came out of a new event planned for this year's AdeptiCon – Knightfall: The Grand Tournament of Draconis III The event is being developed and hosted by AdeptiCon perennial David Pauwels (who authored the article just before mine). I met David at my first AdeptiCon 5 years ago and I've been lucky to be associated with him and some of the finest guys and gals in the hobby ever since. David brought up the idea of a Knights duel at AdeptiCon where we paint up Knights both loyalist and heretic and have them battle it out mano-y-mano just like knights of old.  I thought this would be a great project and something I could really get into.  Initially I planned it just as a gaming piece, but then as the project progressed it became clear this would be my entry for the Crystal Brush.  My hope is they'll let me check it out of the Crystal Brush display case early on Sunday morning on the last day of the competition so I can put it on the table to play in the duel tournament. If not, I'll bring it next year.

Background Idea

My Knight would need a backstory and something to make him different from all the other duelists. I always come up with a background for my models as I work on them. I started out looking for inspiration through all the GW Knight artwork and just thought the European knightly style wasn’t for me. I looked into the Freeblades for inspiration, but none of them was quite right so I pushed on for a different concept. I recently went on a business trip to Japan and found my inspiration there. I would give my Knight a Japanese feel and background. A Samurai Knight could be fun, but wasn't right either. A Yakuza Knight Freeblade - now that was something I didn't think had been done before. So the idea started to form and solidify. The Knight would be a Freeblade from a planet lost to "Old Night" that had fallen back on the model of the feudal Japanese society. A clan of mercenaries and thieves had been placed in charge of Knights on this world to protect it from all threats. 

Developing the Imagery

I imagined that many of the planet’s gang members decorated themselves with irezumi (traditional Japanese tattoos). I decided that after taking over the planet’s noble houses, the mercenaries took to covering their Knights with artwork inspired by these. Next I decided the Knight's mask needed to be different as well. I contacted Chris Borer (multiple Golden Demon and Crystal Brush winner. Sorry I name drop a lot in this article) to discuss ideas. I even initially approached him to sculpt the mask for me. I sketched up several ideas and shared them with him, but before he could get started on it I chose to give the sculpt a try on my own. I applied grey stuff to the existing Knight mask, using it to give me the basic form.  Soon I had something I thought could be workable. After many chats and discussions with Chris and other sculptors, I found a way to smooth out and finish the mask to my satisfaction. The trick was 600 grit sandpaper super glued to the end of a tooth pick. It allowed me to get into all the tight spots on the mask and smooth out the rough edges. The mask was also based on a traditional Japanese element: the mempo mask. A sashimono (samurai back banner) would add a striking vertical element to it and a place to add a bit more freehand. Everyone made fun of me for adding a banner, as its one of those things that I often like to do on a model to add interest. 

Next the Knight needed a color palette. Wanting a red mempo mask meant that it needed to have a strong contrast to make the mask pop. Green is the strongest contrast to red, but this raised a real concern because red and green are so associated with Christmas (a Knight-Santa wasn’t exactly the look I was going for).  After searching the internet for images, I found a green samurai with a red mask. The greens were all accented with bluish shades - this seemed perfect.  So the project began to take shape and depth in my head and on the work table.

Realizing the Concept

Assembly of the Knight kit was easy enough, lots of cleaning and scraping required as always. The scale of it at first intimidating, but was something I found I really liked after a while. I could get into all the areas of it easily enough. I assembled it without the armor plating and airbrushed a base of metallics on it. I then shaded and toned each separate assembly, paying close attention to each part. I even gave some Mig washes a try and was very happy with the results.

Armor plating was next. Working with Minitaire paints from Badger, I got a green that I immediately really liked. I posed the model over and over till I got an interesting pose figured out. I used Blu-tack to get it just how I wanted, and then glued the joints to fix the positions. The project was making itself easy; it was one of those that just flowed. To make the paint job seem a bit more realistic I used a technique I learned at AdeptiCon a few years ago from Sebastian Archer: staining the model with another color to help blends. In areas where the greens got darker I tinted the area between transitions with a dark brown. The gold metallic trim was done with an airbrush after masking out all the armor plates with liquid mask. I used Vallejo metallics for the most part and really liked the quality of them.  I tinted the golds with greens and purples. I'd not tried that before, but found it to be a huge time saver. I researched a lot of irezumi to find the right inspiration for the armor panels. Funny enough, I didn't really draw out the tattoos. I just made a rough sketch of them on the armor with a pencil and then started painting them. I looked back to reference pics for the right finishes. With the curved plates I sort of had to make changes on the fly to get the panels filled and looking right. Finally, I added lots of nicks and scratches to the armor to add interest. 

After all this I needed a base to put the model on. I settled on keeping with the Japanese flavor and tried to replicate a Shinto grave yard.  Wanting to keep it in the 40k universe I added Mechanicum details, such as mechadindrites and hoses of brass and copper acting like roots coming from a grave marker underneath the Knight. This gives the impression he's protecting this place even as he knocks over one of the stones. I added some red earth pigments to tie in the red of the mask and plenty of greens to unify the overall theme. The model was finished early January. Well, I have a few minor touches I still want to do, but other projects need my attention as well. 


All in, the project was about three solid months of work. I really enjoyed it and I recommend the Imperial Knight kit from GW. I'm planning to get a FW Knight next to add to my collection. I hope you like the results, and see you at AdeptiCon!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Guest Post - Dave Pauwels - The Road to AdeptiCon

I've recently mentioned quite a few times that things are really busy at the moment with 
work and family, so there aren't too many new models of my own to be posting on the blog. Fortunately I have some talented friends who have offered to step in and fill the void. 
First up is my good friend, Dave Pauwels, who has his own infrequently updated blog here. 
I'm looking forward to catching up with Dave next month at AdeptiCon. It should be epic!

When Dave mentioned he might do a short series of guest posts about what people are working on for AdeptiCon 2015, I figured I had to get onboard. It’s my favorite hobby blog. EVER. For the record, I like Tom Schadle’s blog too, but man, you can only take so much Infinity. Anyway, I am very honoured to guest-post. I hope it turns into a John Oliver thing and I get my own HBO miniatures blog.

For the first time, maybe since I’ve been attending AdeptiCon, I am pretty prepared for the convention, at least relatively. I had a bit of a painting hiatus since mid-2014 when we moved to a new house. But the last month or two has seen a flurry of hobby activity. My main preparation has been towards compiling the information for my one class I’m teaching this year, Liber Titanicus: Painting Knights, Titans, and other Lords of War. I’ve woken up my Warhound from her year-long slumber to add some finishing touches. She’ll be accompanied to Schaumburg by a Cerastus Knight Lancer that I’m currently about 23% finished with. These two (cumbersome) models will be center-pieces for my class, but I’m hoping I also get to play with ‘em at some point during the weekend. If anyone has a 30K Apocalypse game that needs a Legio Mortis engine, hit me with a scrap-code PM.

I also finished a small Bolt Action Tank War force. I blame Brad Pitt for this project. I considered playing in the Tank War tournament on Sunday of the convention, but I am not a particularly adept tournament player; anyone who played against my Sisters of Battle in the 2006 40K Team event knows that tournaments are challenging for me. So these are coming with for some friendly games. I just need to learn how to play Bolt Action. I have the order dice, though, so I’m like halfway there I’m guessing.

Finally, I wanted to do a model specifically for the Crystal Brush painting competition. I haven’t done any competition painting for a couple years - back at the Privateer Press GenCon contest - so I feel pretty rusty. Plus, the Crystal Brush is very intimidating. Which is a good thing, I believe. I do occasionally miss the old Rogue Demon days, though. As a Rogue Demon judge, that competition was the highlight of the convention for me. I think, at one point, we had about 400 entries, with a wide range of skill levels represented. It was definitely the “gamer’s” painting event. The Crystal Brush is a very different animal, not better or worse, really, but different. But I digress.

I wanted to do something “small.” Meaning something I could manage in a month or so. But instead of over-thinking what categories might be tougher than others, I went with Chris Borer’s famous advice and I painted something I simply wanted to paint, without worrying about how stiff my competition might be. So, after consulting my daughter, I decided that it was finally time to realize my long-planned Steampunk Necro-Pony. She’s my take on what a Cryx Warcaster would look like, if she were an adorable unicorn!

She’s an Impact Miniatures pony, with some modified GW wings. I had to elongate the legs to give her a little more height and sculpted a new tail and wing harness. The base is one of Jeff Wilhelm’s excellent offerings and the little Chibi skull is the work of the nefarious Chris Borer. I’ve started some base-coats, with the help of a new airbrush. I’d love to have her done by the end of February, so I can focus on my Knight for a few weeks before the big show.

That’s it for me. Just have to keep painting. EVERY. NIGHT. AdeptiCon is always a great time. And, as always, while the gaming and painting competition stuff is fun, seeing people I don’t get to see very often, like Dave T., is what makes it one of my favorite weekends of the year.

Thanks Dave! See you soon at AdeptiCon!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Solar Auxilia - First Leman Russ

As with recent weeks, I've been super busy with work and family, which is always nice. I managed to crank out a few extra hours in the evenings and now have the first of my Leman Russ tanks done for my Solar Auxilia force.

Fairly swiftly done, I need to tighten up some of the shading/highlighting and add a little more iconography (once I decide on what to add), but I think it'll fit nicely with my Dracosans.

And if you haven't been paying attention to the internets this weekend, they exploded with all sorts of wonderful stuff from the Horus Heresy Weekender, held in Nottingham. For the moment, I suggest you head to the Apocalypse 40K blog and check out Loken's coverage : )


Friday, February 6, 2015

Want to try some Digital Sculpting?

Have you ever wondered what it took to do a little bit of Digital Sculpting? Wanted to know what work is involved behind the scenes, sculpting digital miniatures?

Well, my buddy Jake Schneider, is traveling all the way from Australia to attend AdeptiCon 2015. He'll be running two seminars (on Thursday night and Sunday) on how to go about getting into the world of Digital Sculpting. Click HERE and search for Jake to find his classes.

Based on the number of conversations I've had with various miniatures companies over the last few months, Digital Sculpting will continue to be a very desirable field to be in.

If I wasn't teaching classes at the same time, I know I'd be sitting in on Jake's classes.