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Friday, April 29, 2016

WIPs: Necropunk, Mechanical Rider, Flesh Construct

In preparation for the upcoming tournament on Saturday I've been hacking away at getting my new Leve crew fully painted, excluding summons. I've gotten the whole hired crew completely tabletop ready now and wanted to show the progress. Up first is the Necropunk...

So yesterday I had my civic duty called upon to attend Jury Duty. Unfortunately I wasn't selected for the process, but fortunately I got to go home early enough to get this bad boy done in a timely manner. I spent around a total of 4 hours on him, which is speedy compared to usual, and he's not quite done but will suffice for now. You can see I was in such a frenzy that I didn't even let the paint dry fully before snapping a photo! For tomorrow's tournament though he's more than ready, I just need to matte varnish him.

As always I'll detail the colors and process on how he got to this point:

I undercoated black and started on the NMM. I wanted him to look darker than my usual fare, so I left it predominantly black. I airbrushed 50/50 Black/Cold Grey, then Cold Grey, and lastly White using Vallejo for all colors. Later on when I was done spraying everything for the cloak I came back and blacklined it 50/50 VGC Black/Night Blue, edged it with Cold Grey and White, then glazed with VGC Turquoise in some recesses.

I was stumped on what I wanted to paint his cloak. If the metals weren't so dark I'd have really loved a dark grey and black cloak to keep him mysterious, but it would have looked very bland if I did that. Instead I went with a staple color of VMA Russian Green, my go to Olive that's very versatile. Over black I airbrushed VMA Grey highlights on the cloak to help brighten up the green where it's needed, as since it's a dark color over a black undercoat it will be hard to see. Then I sprayed Russian Green while leaving some areas black. I didn't want to simply add white at that point because it starts to look very flat (I did it before with Viktoria of Ashes, while it looks good I wanted to make it more interesting), so I added VMA's equivalent of Sunburst Yellow 2:1 to the green making it a bit warmer, and added a drop of VGA Wolf Grey to lighten it and airbrushed highlights. Lastly I added lots of white to the mix as a final highlight. Later I shaded it with Russian Green, and highlighted using the previous mixes.

The mask was a simple task of GW Mechrite Red/Scarlet Red/Troll Slayer Orange heavily washed with GW Agrax Earthshade. The gloves were done with my previous red leather recipe, but I washed it heavily with GW Nuln Oil as it was too bright for this model and I wanted the brightest color to be his mask.

The flesh was done using the previous recipe I posted for my Flesh Construct, but this time there was no black in the shading as I painted it all on by hand.

Lastly I used Vallejo Red Oxide pigment on various parts of the metals. The pigment fixer leaves a very glossy finish which is why the model seems very glossy, that will go away once I varnish it.

Overall I'm pretty happy with him, I've still got some work to do but he's mostly finished. I've got to paint the intestines coming out of his midsection and he'll pretty much be done.

Last week I did some more work on the Mechanical Rider. I painted the skin fully, but that was a struggle. Due to the position of her body and the chains/horse being in the way I couldn't get a good angle at her stomach. I also struggled with making the blends smooth. I also messed up where her skin and armor meet, as that line of shading near her armpit and boob isn't exactly right. How it looks now is basically where I decided to give up until later for her skin. I don't know if I'm going to try to fix it or start over again.

The other notable addition was in the horse's mane. Before I only had the basecoat down, and it was rather flat. I decided to take my chances with trying to paint fire, which has always given me fits before and it is a very difficult technique to get right. So far I only have painted the basecoat for the flames, simply adding in progressive amounts of white closer to the source of the flame. It looks okay for now, but honestly I'm stumped as to how I'm going to highlight this, as flames follow certain rules for believably realistic effects, including OSL. It's basically inverse from traditional highlighting, but the application of this is much more difficult than in theory. I've put it to the side for now as it successful in tabletop quality reading it as a flame. I've got to paint the chains before I can do any OSL anyway, but it's still becoming my favorite model. 

I've also gotten my Flesh Construct to tabletop standards. I painted the base and basecoated the metal areas. I plan on making these look like copper, which is very difficult to do as I don't know the colors I want to use yet. Essentially though it is done enough for the tournament.

So that's what I've been working on lately. For tonight I'll be attempting to finish up my Metal Gamin, as they will be summoned throughout the game and seemed fairly easy to start on as the majority of their surface is the same metal color. It is going to be rather difficult, however, as instead of easy shapes like flat armor plates they are more of an organic skin, but it looks like it will be an interesting test. I don't see myself getting anything else done in time for the tournament, but really that's just the Abominations that periodically summon from Leveticus. I'll also have some unpainted elements for a list that may or may not be used, depending on my opponents. 

Hopefully I'll be able to snap some photos throughout the day, and I'll report back with the results!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Flesh Construct WIP and Malifaux Demo Game

Hiya Internet!

So here's a WIP I started yesterday, the almighty cheap Flesh Construct for Malifaux! A friend from the Montag's group graciously donated this model to me, as I really didn't want to buy the McMourning crew in order to have the differently-posed Construct. It was already painted, but seeing as how I like to paint my stuff I painted over it. I didn't strip it, as it didn't seem to be thick with paint, and made sure to lightly spray the primer on.

Over a black primer I sprayed Vallejo Air Grey in a zenithal pattern to create highlights quickly and provide a brighter undercoat for the next color. I then lightly sprayed Vallejo Game Color Dead Flesh in the same pattern. I debated if I should have gone with a dark olive for this step and highlight with Dead Flesh, but I wanted to keep it less green looking so I took the risk of skipping that step. To define the shallow details and create a different tint I washed it with GW Devlan Mud. I originally was going to wash it with green as I've done with my old GW Zombies, but upon testing this color it seemed to be too drastic of a change for what I wanted this model to look like - you can sort of see it on the base to the right of his foot. I then took Dead Flesh and glazed on highlights, then added white to it for the final highlights.

So far I'm very happy with how it turned out. Some parts on his shoulders and back are very shallow, so it proved difficult to highlight without making it turn out like obvious brush strokes. I'd say he's mostly done now, I've just got to pick out the metals, paint the braaaaains and base and I'd say he's complete enough to run on the tournament this Saturday.

I also got to run a demo game for Reuben. We played two 35ss games and he brought his beautifully painted Perdita crew. Check out those cacti!

I ran Von Schill, partly because I never get to use him but mostly because it's a good crew to run against a new player since he uses straightforward mechanics. Really though it gave me a good idea on how to use him, as I've only used him once and he got wiped off the table by Wong and his crew, which left me to believe that he will never be used again.

All in all we had a ton of fun, and he got the hang of it really fast. I've demoed this game to three other newbies before and it still proves to be an easy game to teach and understand, it's the strategy itself that proves difficult.

I also made sure to have plenty of terrain. I followed the rule of 1/3, where the terrain I got filled up 1/3 of the board and consisted of 3 parts different types of terrain. When I placed them it seemed really cluttered compared to what people usually place for terrain, but it's perfect for two shooting crews. I figure if he can find good ways to shoot in dense terrain then it only gets easier from there, plus you don't want to give a Perdita player the false security blanket of an empty field.

We used the Strats/Schemes from the rule book and the first pool turned out to be extremely killy. Reckoning, ALitS, Assassinate, Frame for Murder, Make them Suffer and Breakthrough popped up, which is a decent pool to try out his crew with as it doesn't force the interact schemes on him. I forgot the score for this one but he did a pretty good job, I think it was 5-3 in my favor.

The second game was similar in pool, with Reckoning, ALitS, Plant Evidence, Outflank, Assasinate, and Protect Territory came up. We both chose Plant Evidence and Protect Territory revealed. This game Reuben started to get the hang of his crew a bit more, and just piled on the damage from Perdita. He did suffer from Kill Syndrome, and seemed to forget the objectives and went after bodies so his score ran lower than the previous game and ended 5-1.

Overall he really liked the game and is excited to try out 50ss. With what he currently owns he can make some decent lists, but if he gets a purchase or two he can crank out a great list for most schemes. Perdita is just plain nasty on damage.

I also learned a bit more on Von Schill that gave me a bit more perspective on him than I've previously had in my analysis of Outcast Masters. Some observations still rang true, like how he's a toolbox model with dull tools, but some aspects of his character abilities were actually a blast to play.

First off, I accidentally left the Steam Trunk at home so I decided to use the Malifaux Child as his totem. I contemplated not using a totem at all to see how he works on his own, but decided that the option to "Finish the Cur" several times would be interesting. The potential is great and gave several options when faced against a Hard to Kill heavy crew like Perdita's. Coupled with Hannah you can have two extra attacks when needed, but then I realized that you can't use it since it's a (0) action so that went out the window. In the end he was used for healing, but then again you could use the Steam Trunk for that.

Hannah is a natural pairing for him, as she can copy his (0) abilities and gains his pseudo Hard to Kill from him. She can be tanky when needed and has a great melee attack that can stack Paralyze onto a model, with the occasional helpful blast which works against Perdita's high defense.

I also used a Freikorpsmann, Desperate Merc and Trapper but I didn't learn anything new that I hadn't seen before with other crews. I kept the Freikorps too far to benefit from his abilities as they were running schemes.

In regards to the Man himself he seems to have some good traits. I used The Shirt Comes Off and Survivalist on him to keep him around and used him as an attrition piece to get rid of non-masters. It works out fairly well, as his Augmented Jump allowed him to hop around the board pretty quickly and keep enemy models out of LOS. Against Perdita it's negated by her various pushes, but if she's forced to use them that's potentially less options for the opponent who has to react to your movements. I can't remember, but if Relocate is a (0) ability then you're choosing between ignoring cover/armor or using it which can help tremendously.

A nice situation I tried out was saving high cards or the Red Joker in hand for his attacks. If you have a 13 or RJ you can spend a stone for a crow (or a high crow) for your first melee attack to lower their defense permanently. Although not a new or even mind-blowing tactic it's still a good idea to have in your pocket. Against Perdita's DF7 I'd need a RJ to tie in attacks, so by throwing it out there you're almost guaranteed to lower their DF for future attacks. Throw out a 13 and you still have a good shot. When you hit 12s is where it can get iffy, but still worth risking. If their defense is any lower you have a fairly good chance at doing the damage anyway, depending on how you make your opponent spend their cards. He is able to risk going later in the turn if needed, as his armor, 12 wounds, damage prevention, and survivalist can mitigate instant kills. You need to calculate your damage intake well, so that you know you can survive long enough to use his Shirt when needed. Having several stones to prevent damage at 3 or higher helps out, usually he can take 2 or less easily enough depending on how many attacks you see coming his way before he activates. Having a 1" melee range blows though, and his 6 to hit is okay but easily avoided against valuable targets, which is why you need to treat him like Misaki and go after small targets.

When you need to pack on the damage his Critical Strike comes pretty handy. With a high ram and SS you can make what you target die fast enough.

His gun is handy enough, but I think I see his melee attacks as more formidable when you have the option of lowering their DF for the rest of the game. It makes it easier for him to chop them down, and if need be for other members to get their attacks through as well, which is important as his damage track won't be taking down most Henchmen or Masters in one go. Against Francisco he did well enough, but that isn't the norm as most Henchmen level defenses tend to match his melee stat.

While I still don't think he's competitive I now feel like I could field him and have fun, as opposed to Misaki. I'll continue to use him against Reuben to figure him out, but in a tournament I'm still locked into Leveticus who is much more versatile and consistent, with the Viks as a backup in case it looks like their Alpha Strike may come in handy. We'll see how the plan goes on Saturday!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ashes and Dust Complete!

Here's my latest work that I completed last night. The famed Ashes and Dust for Malifaux's Outcasts. I've still yet to complete the Dust Storm and Ashen Core that he summons on death, but they shouldn't be too much of an issue, especially as I airbrushed the Dust Storm while painting the main dude.

He was perplexing for me to plan, as it's an unconventional paint job to imitate a tornado. I also had a tough time with his gauntlets. I thought it would be an easy part as I'm very used to doing armor plates, but I didn't factor in the irregular shape. I also didn't realize that the skulls and his head may get lost in the swirl of similar colors.

I initially planned on doing source lighting coming from within the swirl, but I decided not to take that route as I was happy with its current look.

I need to figure out a way to make the bases look a bit better, as it seems pretty lackluster. It's mostly from me being lazy, as I don't like taking time out to make my bases look elaborate even though I could.

I think next I'll work on my Necropunk, I'm trying to get my current iteration of my Leveticus list fully painted before the tournament at the end of the month.

In the game this guy is a monster. His main draw is as a flexible scheme runner. He gains an additional AP to do what he wants and can use the Scramble upgrade to make him go places fast. He has an ability to push 10" toward a scrap marker, which usually crop up easily enough, as a (0) ability, making him even more mobile. Without any help he can drop two Scheme Markers down a turn. He's super expensive at 13ss, not to mention a 2ss upgrade, but well worth it.

He's no slouch in Melee either with a 7 stat, with a trigger to summon Abominations when lucky. He has a pulse that's ok, but not something you want to rely on. He'll be sticking to the board edges as he has an ability that summons the Ashen Core and Dust Storm when he dies, if they're close to each other they can make another Ashes and Dust. This gives some activation control as well as additional AP for scheme running, but mostly for flexibility as you can always just make the Dust Storm go after some far away models - like ones scoring for Leave Your Mark - or act as a desperate Waif Anchor.

He's really good for a lot of schemes in GG 2016. I've successfully used him for Leave Your Mark and Covert Breakthrough simultaneously in a single game. Routinely placing 2 scheme markers while advancing 6" and daring models to chase him is amazing. He's no slouch in combat so a good portion of the opponent's forces are needed to stifle him. If you save high cards for disengaging or just get rid of the model you're in the clear, as he has a minimum 3 damage anyway. With Leve I'll shoot into combat with no fear, as I'll just choose the trigger that lets him take a Melee attack if I randomize onto Ashes, both attacks from Leve and Ashes feature 7s to hit.

Coupling Ashes and Dust with the cheap Necropunk is an amazing combo. Usually when placed relatively close together the Necropunk gets ignored. If Ashes gets tied up the Necropunk can do his thing, if the Necropunk gets targeted he usually weathers the storm well enough with Hard to Wound and Hard to Kill, as well as a last minute heal if necessary, and Ashes can counter attack. Those two models together make a ton of scheme markers wherever you need them.

Let me know what you think!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Don't Be Fooled...

Hunter and Hunted...

Hello all!

So I've been semi-regularly been featured in a Malifaux Podcast called Flippin' Jokers, featuring a few friends from our area that are really good at the game and are my regular opponents. In one of our last episodes we mentioned wanting to do the Iron Painter competition but not wanting to commit due to flakiness, schedules, new babies, planned crimes, etc. and decided to hold a friendly one among the cast titled The Aluminium Painter. Like the IP we would base our models on themes, basing our paint jobs on these restrictions. A Wyrd Place (I think) had a Google Hangout to decide the theme and came up with "Don't Be Fooled," in honor of the April 1st deadline. The restriction that came up was that the model had to look good and complete from one photographed angle, but from any other angle you can see bare plastic, bad paint, incomplete, etc. as a jab one of the cast members uses about models looking good in the pictures they share but completely different in real life (usually not as impressive in his, and sometimes my, opinion - see previous post regarding photography).

This seemed like a fun challenge at first, and we made the deadline be a month rather than 2 weeks like the Iron Painter. Once I got going on it, though, it seemed a lot tougher than I anticipated and a lot of ideas changed due to making it not as complicated. In other words, my grand ideas ended with me biting off more than I could chew.

Initial build

So being that we had a month to do this I of course procrastinated and didn't really get started until this Monday. We agreed that since we're making these models half painted that we'd use the Through the Breach multi-part kit to prevent making a game piece useless. When I got the kit in I looked at all the pieces for inspiration on what to build and found the kit sort of lacking, especially when used to Games Workshop's awesome modular kits. Not all the pieces can be used with everything. I did find a kick ass shotgun to use, but it would have been a lot of work considering that it's only held in one hand in a static pose with the wrist. I ended up using the only dynamic legs in the kit with an open and pistol hand, along with a cool head with a handlebar mustache.

I also had some plasticard I ordered previously for other projects and decided to give it a go for this. I never worked with Plasticard before, but man it is handy. I can see tons of utility come from this material. 

Initially I planned on making this a door going out to the street, with lamps and puddles and newspapers with skulls and way too many things. I decided to simplify once I started the planning in my head and went with a simple interior. I cut the wall out, then the door out of that. I Then cut some balsa wood strips and little Popsicle sticks for some paneling.

I hit a conundrum for a doorknob. I researched Victorian doors and found they mostly had knobs in the middle for some reason, and decided in order for it to read correctly I'll keep it to the side. I initially thought of using a round bead as the knob but couldn't find one small enough to fit the scale. My wife and I ran through some ideas, as well as some input from my friend Reuben, but then I came to the realization that I could make one from scratch using plasticard.

I took some plastic tube and strips of styrene and made this:

I was pretty darn proud of this little knob...

Man, plasticard is tons of fun. Scratch building is tedious but well worth it in the end.

What it looked like before paint

I ended up adding one more strip on the right panels to even it out and decided it was ready for paint. I knew this would be tons easier if I painted the three separate pieces apart, although I tend to not like assembling models after they're painted for fear of super glue frosting or not seeing the end result the way I anticipated. But there was no way I was going to try to paint a dude in a doorway and a bug on a wall with a door in the way.

Here you can see the first steps I took on the wall. I used some sand and olive colors airbrushed over black with white mixed in to highlight spots, leaving some black in the shadows. I painted the wood with Vallejo Flat Earth as a basecoat.

Here I skipped through a bunch of steps, but I'll try to list them from what I remember. I took some foam similar to blister foam from packaging and ripped off a piece and dabbed some of the base and highlight colors on the wall and door to create some interesting textures. I airbrushed some black on the wall and door, but I'm not to pleased with how it turned out on the wall. I was trying for some directional lighting in a more rounded shape, instead it turned out V shaped and I went too far in. Oh well, it's not terrible, but certainly wasn't what I was hoping for. I painted the door knob using Vallejo Orange Brown as a basecoat, adding white for highlight and black for shading. I can't exactly remember what I did for the wood, but if you like it you can use the recipe in the Vallejo Wood/Leather set they sell, I just followed the instructions for panel 5. It wasn't what I was picturing, but I knew it would be a weak part of the wall as it was actual wood and it doesn't respond well to painting like plastics or metals do.

For Mr. Skito I mostly airbrushed different grays over black undercoat. For the body I used Vallejo Sombre Grey and Wolf Grey, then used those colors for highlighting/shading with touches of black. For the abdomen (thorax? I don't know) I sprayed Vallejo Scarlet Red over the grey to make a vibrant look, and it seems semi-transparent as it blended into the black areas sharply. I blacklined any sharp gaps on the whole model including the tiny recesses in the wings. Then the wings got a white edge highlight. The eyes are Vallejo Foul Green with white and black for highlights/recesses.

I really just wanted to keep him simple as it's just a bug, but mostly I was on a time constraint. Turns out that restraint is what I like most about him and it kept him looking mostly black. I usually fail at keeping a miniature looking dark and black by putting too many grey highlights in, making it look more naturally grey than black.

A cool little angle

Then I got the victim done, and he was a true test of my patience.

When I was priming him I had to mask his back half to keep as much unpainted surface as possible for the challenge, which was a nightmare in itself. Then I had a ton of trouble with the first item I started painting alone, which were the pants. I ended up repainting over it 2 or 3 times before I figured out this look. I also didn't know how I planned on painting the rest. The miniature itself didn't inspire much desire from me, it seems sort of plain and dis-proportioned to me, like he had a tiny head and extremely long arms and torso. But once I got to spraying his shirt I got a happy accident in how the model got highlighted and decided to try a new technique on him.

I actually used a ton more black in this model than I normally do, keeping certain parts where the light wouldn't hit him in complete flat black. Half his face is black, the majority of his arms are black, and I heavily black lined most of the rest. This created a dynamic lighting look and the contrast just makes it pop. I don't know how it would work for tabletop miniatures, as if you look straight on into the black areas it looks flat, but from a one-angle challenge it worked out perfectly.

The leather and NMM colors are from all my previous recipes I've done before. The pants are Sombre Grey/Wolf Grey with black lined in the recesses. The skin was GW Tallarn Flesh, GW Flesh Wash twice, and then add white for highlights. Knowing that I was making the contrasts a lot more exaggerated than I usually do I also used GW Nuln Oil judiciously to create deeper shadows. Having a second layer of Flesh Wash makes a huge difference in contrast, you should try it out next time.

The finished product

Overall I'm pretty happy with it, it turned out a lot better than I expected it to. It's definitely different from what I had initially planned, as that plan involved making him appear as if he was walking through a "Breach" of color. I planned on adding more to this, like dust using pigments and spider webs, but due to my procrastination I didn't have time and didn't want to do it at 3AM when I called it quits last night. As I type I continually doze off due to 3 hours of sleeppppppppppppppppppppppkkkkkkkkkkkk.........

I left as much untouched as possible

Here's a view from the back, where you can see I left the other half without any paint, including the wall piece, which works out fine as you shouldn't be looking at it anyway ha! The wall does a good job in forcing your perspective when you look at it so that you won't see the unpainted parts. 

True to form I left as much unpainted from any other angle, here you can see behind the door, as well as the part of the wing I kind of used as a testing area for how to spray the wings.

Here you can see exactly how much black I left in the face to help describe what I meant about using black to create dynamic work. Also, for some reason, I love the way this wing turned out.

I also left the top of the Skeeter as unpainted as possible, although I found avoiding primer was too difficult due to the rounded shape

So there you have it, round one of the Aluminum Painter. It was a great exercise for me in attempting more dynamic and directional lighting, as well as utilizing plasticard to create a diorama. Let me know what you think, and if you're a member of A Wyrd Place on Facebook you can check out all the entries soon enough and you can also listen to Flippin' Jokers podcast to hear yours truly!