Saturday, January 30, 2010

What a week!

So, after years of suffering from nothing more than the odd "change of season" cold, a viscious stomach virus decided to take a liking to my innards! It ran roughshod over my daughter and her daycare family too (all the kids, all the parents), which means it was a miserable week in more than just our household.

So, very little hobby time as I lay cramped up in bed or doubled over the porcelain throne. I'll try to get some new stuff done this week and up for you to see. I might even get the Hellblade completed (fingers crossed).

Anyway, I'll leave you on a brighter note. A buddy of mine in Massachusetts is starting his very own Indy GT, the Boston Brawl! On May 15-16, in Cambridge, MA (a very nice part of Boston in my opinion) you'll be able to play in an absolutely great event! Alex is one crazy, enthusiastic guy. I remember when I first met him, playing in the 2003 Vancouver GT while he was wearing a tiara and feather boa (apparently he lost a bet the night before), good times, good times.

So head on over to Alex's website, check out the details, and please, forgive his spelling and punctuation ; )

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Five Hundred reached!

Well, it happened a bit quicker than I thought it would, but this humble blog has reached 500 followers! Thank you all for your faith in this blog and your comments about the content. I've had a lot of fun working on everything (modeling, painting, and blogging projects included).

I did say that I'd announce a new competition once the blog did reach 500, so here it is. Some of you might think "He's crazy", but I'm pretty sure I established that fact early on.


Let's start with the carrots first, then get to the details of what you need to do ; )

As previously mentioned, Dan Abnett will be sending a personally autographed copy of Blood Pact directly to the winner (once announced). Pretty darn cool, particularly for those readers who don't get the chance to get to a Games Day.

I will also scratchbuild an AT-70 Reaver (or upgrade it to an AT-83 Brigand should the winner desire) and paint it up in my Blood Pact color scheme.

I am also in discussion with a couple of other sources for prizes. Fingers crossed I can announce something soon.


I currently have two tattoos. The first is a solid black Imperial Eagle on my right shoulder. I got this one to celebrate my first five years with GW. The second is a solid black Double Eagle on my left shoulder, based on the "diving Double Eagle" symbol used in the Dan Abnett novel of the same name. I got this one to celebrate my first TEN years with GW.

Even though I no longer work for GW, I'm still due for some new ink. This time around I'd like to get a Blood Pact symbol (probably on my right upper arm, just below the eagle). The only thing is, of course, the Blood Pact don't have an "official" symbol. They are dedicated to Khorne, so I could just go for that, but that's a bit dull. I'd like to incorporate some kind of "chaosified" Tanith regimental symbol into the Khorne symbol.

Well-rendered standard Khorne symbol (source unknown).

Forgeworld's resin Khorne badge

The Tanith regimental badge.


So, the competition is this. Submit to me (via the email in my profile on the right) your design for a Blood Pact symbol that would work well as a tattoo on my arm. That's right, I'll get inked with the best design I receive!

You have until February 28th (2010) to submit your design. I like solid black designs, but could be convinced to choose a line/color piece should it be good enough.

As this design will be on my arm until I die, I reserve the right to tweak the final chosen design. I also reserve the right to post any of the designs submitted on this blog (with full credit to the designer of course).

So, there you have it. The 500 Ink Design Competition! Have at it. Any questions? Just post them in a comment.


It has been a busy weekend, with family commitments and some time spent at Games & Stuff last might, so not much hobby time. Here, however, is where I'm at with my latest commission piece. Lots of brownstuff used to form the base armor shapes (better for burnishing, filing, carving, and sharp edges), then greenstuff added (better for fine detail and complex shapes).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Rapid Assault Force advances

Late-breaking News!
Like my friend Jeff Hall (of The Adept's Forge), I too will be helping the good folks of Games & Stuff in Glen Burnie, MD, celebrate their 10th Birthday. I should be thee from 7-9pm, hanging out, talking to people about painting and conversions. If you want to ask any questions about my recent stuff, just drop by! Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming...

So, I'm finally getting some paint on the Hellblade! Although this model was incredibly easy to assemble, I think it's going to take a bit longer to paint it up the way I want.

As you can see, I'm going for a bit of a switch-up on my Rapid Assault Force. Instead of the dark red of my Blood Pact tanks, I'm going for an off white scheme. However, I did start things off the same way. A heavy drybrush of Tin Bitz, a lighter drybrush of Boltgun Metal, then thinned washes of Devlan Mud, Thraka Green patches, Leviathan Purple patches, and Badab Black.

Once all those washes were dry I painted Liquid Mask in patches onto the Hellblade, painting more onto the leading edges and strategically placed streaks. This was followed by two thin coats of Dheneb Stone (I'll bust out the spraygun for the Locusts), then a drybrush of a Dheneb Stone/Skull White mix.

Finally I could get to my favorite part. Stripping off the Liquid Mask, exposing the darkened metal underneath. I continued a few more steps, but I'll save those for another post.

The Chaos Locust vector-fighter that Thomas and I are working on continues apace. I decided to build the engine pod, taking some design cues from the Hellblade's engine. Here it is above, and you can see the comparison below.

I'm pretty happy with it. You can do a lot of fun things with some tubing, plasticard, and Dragon Forge power cables.

I hope you enjoy it! More to come soon.

The Mark of the Dark Gods - Bonus Post

I've been chatting with Bigred over at Bell of Lost Souls recently and we talked about doing a few "cross-posts" on the BoLS site. This is the first of those posts, put up on BoLS in December.

As I'm hoping to put together one of these a month, perhaps you kind folks can suggest some topics you'd like to see me cover, just type it into the comments section at the bottom of this post!

I'm working on an update post at the moment, I'll put it up tomorrow night. Until then...enjoy "The Mark of The Dark Gods"!

The Dark Gods are many things, but chief among these things they are the are the very essence of Jealousy and Vanity. They demand that their followers not only worship them with unquestioning loyalty, but that they mark all manner of worldly things with their foul marks of their damning allegiance.

Over the past year I've been dabbling with the once-human forces of Chaos, in the guise of the Blood Pact, the elite soldiery of the Archenemy that plagues the Sabbat Worlds being liberated by the Imperium in Dan Abnett's fantastic series of Gaunt's Ghosts novels. Throughout these novels, Mr. Abnett describes dozens of foul constructs used by the Blood Pact and as I started to bring my vision of the Pact to life (in miniature form), I really became interested in some bold, graphic ways to show how these debased individuals would display their allegiance to the Gods of the Warp. As I painted more and more Chaos Stars on my tanks and trucks, more and more people started asking me how I painted these symbols. What follows is a fairly straightforward tutorial on how I get the look that really pops on my vehicles.

For this tutorial the only things I used were a tank side (painted with Dark Flesh, the base color of my vehicles), a GW Standard Brush, a 25mm round base, a base color (Khemri Brown), and a highlight color (P3 Menoth White Base).

Let's jump straight into it!

I placed the 25mm base on the tank side, where I wanted the star to be. Then I carefully "traced" a circle around it with my base color.

As you can see, the circle is a little patchy and rugged as it goes of the varying textures of the tank side. The next step is to paint in lines for the four main "compass points" of the Chaos Star. I always try to angle it slightly for a less uniform look.

The next step is to paint in the guides for the smaller (or lesser) "compass points". You'll notice that these are shorter and also do not cross the line of the circle (this will be explained in a later stage). Then I started to paint in the barbed arrowheads and curving lines to join the points to the circle. NOTE: I've done a lot of painting and have a steady hand. If you aren't too confident I recommend you try all of this on a sheet of paper first. Practice it several times to build your confidence.

In the next stage I started creating the wild-looking maw in the center of the Chaos Star. Using the guides painted inside the circle I painted small, scalloped edges that were not always consistent. Some of the scallops touch the inside edge of the circle (the reason I didn't continue the lesser guides inside the circle). This was followed by painting the arrowheads on the lesser points around the outside and connecting everything together.

The next stage involved simply "coloring in" the shapes I had created. to this I added a few thin lines between the eight points of the Chaos Star. This little detail was inspired by the etched brass symbols available from Forgeworld. Then it was on to the highlighting. A 50/50 mix of my base and highlight colors was used here, I left the base color showing in all the recesses and shadows.

The final stage was painting a few thin edge highlights with a 20/80 mix of my base color and highlight color. The Chaos Star that has taken 10-15 minutes to paint on the side of your vehicles can display your eternal allegiance. Not bad really.

The Chaos Stars you paint on your vehicles really start to look the part when you start to build up the weathering. The Valdor above is a great example (or the Usurper at the top of the page). There are dozens of ways to weather your tanks, perhaps I'll go into some of those at a later date.

Also, the Chaos Stars can be any size you like, with points of varying length and intricate detail. They don't have to be light-on-dark (like the example) but can be dark-on-light (like the Standard Bearer above). Either way, if you're looking for some "pop" make sure there's a high contrast in the colors. Sometimes the star can also look great in a darker (or lighter) tone of the same color. It's a much more subtle look, but can really add depth to you models.

Have fun demonstrating your allegiance!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Thin Red Line

I mentioned a few posts back that I was also working on some Napoleonic British, I even showed you this picture. But I failed to tell you more.

These guys here are the Coldstream Guards (2nd Regiment of Foot Guards). Out the front are two bases representing a company of the 5/60th Rifles who accompanied the Guards Division at Salamanca. They are the complete contents of a box of British from Perry Miniatures.

Keen eyes might spot that my 36 strong regiment has the flank (Grenadier and Light) companies represented. The two companies on either end of the line have the flank company "wings" on their shoulders. The soldiers in the left company (as you look at it) have the white plume of the Grenadiers, while those on the right have the green plume of the Light Company.

The basing is a bit different, but I think quite reminiscent of the ground of the Spanish plains. The basecoat is Calthan Brown, followed by a drybrush of Iyanden Darksun, followed by a drybrush of Bleached Bone. The bases are edged in Calthan Brown. The rocks are highlighted up through a mix of Bleached Bone and Skull White. The grass tufts are the Silfor Late Summer Buffalo Grass

This next group finished are the 1st Regiment of the King's German Legion (or KGL), Hanoverians in the service of Britain's King George. They were outfitted just like the British regiments, with the odd exception here and there. I used Victrix plastics for this 24 man unit.
I chose the Victrix Ltd. Flank Company box set, so these really look like the Grenadier Company of the 1st KGL regiment, but I'm not really worried about complete historical accuracy (nor are my fellow players).

We're painting these up for a bit of fun, and to play a game at Adepticon this year. On the Saturday evening we'll be pushing a few brigades back and forth while knocking back pints and savoring fine ports. Stop by and say "G'Day!"

For those who are curious, we're going to be using the Lasalle rules by Sam Mustafa. This is a set of rules designed for somewhat competitive play, and "standard" games play out in around 2.5 to 3 hours.

And now onto something completely different. I should have some more photos later this week of my Rapid Assault Force, including the engine for the Locust vector-fighter. Should be good.

Recently I also mentioned a competition for when the number of followers of this blog reached 500. I'll keep a lid on what he competition is, but I have managed to get Dan Abnett to agree to send an autographed copy of Blood Pact to the winner. Just one part of the prize package!

Have fun!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Wolf Time Is Come!

Shortly after the release of the Space Wolves (and the mighty Canis Wolfborn, pictured above), an enthusiastic hobbyist was pointed in my direction by Jeff Wilhelm (the man behind Dragon Forge Designs). This soon-to-be client was looking for five conversions of Canis Wolfborn to create a kick-ass Thunderwolf Cavalry unit.

I took a look at the Canis model, one that certainly fits Jervis' mantra of "bespoke" character models, and was immediately excited about the possibilities (if not the amount of work) for creating some great models. While we'd all obviously love plastic Thunderwolves, there's just no way a Space Wolves army should take to the battlefield without at least one unit of these bad boys. A friend of mine, Brendan Bell, is currently building 20+ of these beasts for his Adepticon Team Tournament army. We sat down a couple of times and talked about various poses, bouncing ideas back and forth. It was during these conversations that I was really able to nail down my vision.

Anyway, enough of the guff. Here's the finished product.

I wanted this pack of Thunderwolves to all work as characterful individuals as well as a coherent group. I like to think I was pretty successful in achieving that aim. Materials used?
5 Canis Wolfborns, 1 box of Space Wolves, plastic rods and strips, greenstuff, brownstuff, paper clips, glue, and five 60mm round bases from Dragon Forge Design's Slate Wasteland range.

This is the first model I completed, a simple conversion straightening out the right foreleg, replacing the tail, and replacing the head and arms. I'm very happy with the strength of the pose and working on this guy first helped me understand the intricacies of the model and its components.

This was the second model started, but fourth finished. The Thunderwolf is in the same pose as Canis' mount, but I replaced both forelegs with bionics and armor plating, and twisted the head to the right. In the process of the twist I effectively "extended" the neck, slimming down the look of the Thunderwolf. I also replaced the tail, rider head and arms.

This is one of my favorites, inspired somewhat by one of the old metal Chaos Warhounds, low to the ground sniffing around for the trail of its prey. Only the right rear leg escaped extensive conversion. I also added a helmet of sorts to the Thunderwolves head, although Brendan calls it a gimp mask. It was Brendan that helped my out by "dremeling" off the helmet that is attached to Canis Wolfborn's left side. A bit of well-smoothed putty and the cloak was back to normal, and the rider could wear a helmet. I couldn't resist adding my favorite, the wolf helm.

This leaping pose was the inspired by one of Brendan's wolves, but I had to take it a bit further with a bionic jaw and left forepaw. You'll have noticed that there are a few patches of putty beneath the feet of the wolves. This was the most straightforward way of ensuring that the flat bottoms of the wolf paws got maximum glue area on the base, particularly important on this model.

The final model of the group (and the pack leader). The client wanted a Frostfang and Storm Shield on this model. As one of his regular opponents plays Orks I thought there was another opportunity to help build that rivalry while creating an integral prop for this pose. Known as "The Howler", this model certainly required a hefty chunk of greenstuff. I think there might be more DT-sculpted fur showing than the original model's fur. I went again with the bionic jaw and a bionic right forepaw, as well as another armored helm for the wolf. The Frostfang is built from two carefully trimmed and sliced Space Wolves chainswords sandwiched between two "slices" of thin plasticard. I wanted it to be a bit reminiscent of Ragnar Blackmane's Frostfang. I hope you like it.

So there you have it. Although many people derided the Canis Wolfborn model when pictures first surfaced, I hope I've helped everyone see that not only is it a cool model, but that it is a cool model that, with a lot of work and greenstuff, can be posed in a variety of very dynamic poses just perfect for the heroic Space Wolves.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The origin of the Rapid Assault Force

Well. It has begun. The first plane for my Rapid Assault force has rolled off the production lines. I bought the Forgeworld Chaos Hellblade Fighter after I returned from the Battlefoam Wild West Shootout Tournament back in October 09 (so long ago).

After an overnight soak in some cleaning liquid and a thorough scrubbing with an old toothbrush (and the tweaking of one of the Hellblade's bent wings), the plane went together incredibly easily! Only 11 parts with no real hassles at all. If only they were all like this. I started wondering how many more I should acquire.

Anyways, after assembling the Hellblade it was time to get started on the Locust vector-fighter. Early last year, Thomas Wynn and I discussed the possibility of converting (somewhat enmasse) the fins from Drop Pods into Chaos fighters, later dubbed "Locusts" by Mr Wynn. We sketched up a few things and the project went on the Back Burner™ for over nine months. Recently I asked Thomas if he still had the sketches. Turns out he'd turned some of the sketches into cut components. He'd worked out everything for the flat plane of the wings, so I now get to work on building up the rest of the beast (engine, weapon mounts, air intakes, running lights etc), then we can go back to the computer-aided drawing board.

Here's a comparison shot. They'll actually be pretty close in overall length, but the Locust might appear a tad bulkier. As you can see I've started building up the detailing, the cockpit...

...the air intake, and underbelly.

And here's a final shot of the work thus far.

Until next time.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year (and Happy Birthday)

So, a new year is upon us and I must say I'm in a much better "place" than I was at this same time last year.

I've got a great job, working on Wargames Illustrated (the world's best wargaming magazine) with the lofty title of U.S. Editor. I get to co-ordinate articles and photos with U.S. contributors, visit wargaming conventions in the role of roving reporter, layout six or so articles each issue, and play an active role in the content planning for future issues. It really helps that I work with some great guys in the U.K. (and around the world).

I have some great friends (that I had at this time last year too). This blog and "social networking" activities have helped me stay in touch with them as well as reconnecting with many more. Huzzah for the internet!

And best of all my family has grown. Emily has been loads of fun! Watching her grow up has been a real treat. Although it has really eaten into my hobby time, I wouldn't have it any other way. Even now she's practicing pulling up on the couch and chewing on the edges : )

And my blog has grown quite rapidly (the Happy Birthday bit was for this blog, one year old today). I must thank you all for your support. It's great to know that folks enjoy the stuff I do. 75 posts in 2009 (just under 1.5 per week) was a pretty good pace, and 437 followers for the year is great too. I have a fun competition planned for when the blog hits 500 followers, so make sure you point it out to your friends ; )

Anyway, on to the toy soldiers! Last year I finished of a couple of commissions, including this trio of Pre-Heresy Emperor's Children Space Marines. A Chapter Standard flanked by Chief Apothecary Fabius Bile on the left and Captain Lucius on the right.

I realized I hadn't posted a close-up pic of the Standard Bearer, so here he is.

And although my original projection of five hobby days over my break has dwindled to around three, I did manage to get my Chaos Hellblade into it's cleansing bath. With only 12 pieces to it, it should be pretty simple to get it assembled, as soon as I straighten out a bend in the right wing.

Something else the keen-eyed among you will notice is that the Locust vector-fighter that Thomas and I are working on is a a bit bigger than the Hellblade. Mmmmm...

More Rapid Assault updates next time.