August 20, 2013

Masters of the Universe in 28mm - Stratos

After all of the positive feedback around the interwebs I received about my Skeletor and Panthor figures I was eager to continue on with this project. I don't have a ton of figures for mini MotU, but there are enough to allow me some options in my gaming. I just recently finished reworking my season 1 corporation team "The Avion Warrors" for Dreadball, so their coach Stratos seemed the easy choice.

As the second figure from the old Grenadier line I'd be working on, I had a decent idea of what to expect while painting. The sculpting is good but not excellent. The feet are a little bit too small and blend into the base a bit, and the mould lines are a bit of a pain. However, other than the line that runs along the top of his outstretched left arm, they were fairly manageable. He is certainly recognizable as Stratos, and that is the important thing to me.

I had good results priming with gesso on Skeletor so I thought I'd do it again with Stratos. I found that this time it dried a little bit rougher, and now I think I've pretty much hit on a good formula for using it. Adding just a drop or two of water to the gesso smooths it out a lot, so that's the way I'll likely use it from now on. I also really like that I can make my primer any colour I want simply by adding a few drops of paint to it!

Once again the paint work here is extremely simple, but yields effective results. I started with all of the skin and fur, covering with GW Fortress Grey. The exposed skin of his face is GW Tallarn Flesh. All of the blue was done with AP Crystal Blue, the red on his weapon, helmet and feathers is GW Red Gore, and of course the silver is good old GW Boltgun Metal.

With the block painting done I covered the whole figure with a coat of GW Badab Black wash and waited for it to dry. I used the original grey, silver and blue to go back and highlight those areas, but used GW Mephiston Red on the feathers and helmet to make them pop out a little bit more.

Based and done.

Although I'm not as happy with this figure as I was with Skeletor it still turned out nicely. Can't wait to tackle a few more characters to start rounding out the ranks!

August 19, 2013

The Pawns of Dis

Several months ago I finished painting my first figure from the old SuperFigs line, Kriegshunde. I was mostly pleased with how that one turned out, and have several others from the line in my massive pile of unpainted miniatures. I needed some test subjects for priming with acrylic gesso, and these fellows were waiting on my priming board. Since I've already got plenty of cultist figures around, I decided that these would be good candidates and gave it a shot.

A brief aside about acrylic gesso: it works much better than I'd expected. It shrinks a ton while it dries so you can really glop it on. I bought white, and have since done a second test adding matte medium and paint to it to create a coloured brush-on primer. It has a very nice tooth to paint over, although it may be a little rough for some of you, so I do recommend adding in a tiny bit of water to smooth it out. If you are somewhere with weather that makes spray priming outdoors a challenge, give gesso a shot!

A pre-dip shot for posterity

Back to my SuperFigs. One of the nice things about the line is that every model produced also had a SuperSystem profile provided for it online for free. The "Pawns of Dis" are no different. In my miniature collection I currently have two different cults, both intended for Strange Aeons / Kulten: my arcanists (dressed in red and gold), and my serpent worshippers (dressed in yellow and purple). Now black or green would be the obvious choice for another cult, but I didn't want to be obvious...and my recent work on a Skeletor miniature probably swayed me into using blue.

The sculpting of the figures is quite exaggerated; it's decent but certainly not the best quality. In particular the hands and feet for these figures are rather crude, although they're still quite serviceable. I used the same AP Crystal Blue on their robes that I did for Skeletor's skin. Next I added a coat of GW Snakebite Leather to the sash and neck piece (I don't know what it's actually called). A coat of GW Iyanden Yellow on top of the snakebite, plus some GW Elf Flesh for their skin and GW Gorthor Brown on their sandals and I was pretty much finished.

I decided to try out my Minwax Polyshade Walnut (supposedly the equivalent to Army Painter's Strong Tone) to shade the figures. As with all the varnishes, it dries extremely glossy, and to be quite honest looks like utter shit when it dries. After brushing on a coat of AP anti-shine the figures start to look much more presentable, although I certainly wouldn't want to field an army done exclusively with this method (based on my limited experience). I went back over the figures with the original blue and flesh colours to smooth things out and make the shading softer. At this point the shading is softened enough that it looks pretty good.

With that finished and the bases completed, I can call these figures done. Now if only I knew what I am going to use them for...

August 14, 2013

My Life is One Giant To-Do List

Actually, several lists I guess. At least it seems that way, and all of you out there are probably not much different.

Of course there are the required to-do lists like things I have to get finished at work, stuff to do around the house, the list of items for the next trip grocery shopping etc. Beyond that though it seems like there are several other lists that I've always got hovering about. Phone calls I need to make, things I need to do "sometime", and of course all of my hobby lists.

I have a lot of hobbies, so I divide my time up between a lot of projects. That means that everything seems to move along slowly, glacially or not at all. Inspiration, free time and motivation all factor into the equation as well...and as much as I'd like to claim that I'm good at motivating myself, that's only true when the inspiration is at a reasonable level. If I'm not fired up about something in my hobby world, it just isn't going to happen.

Even my little blog is a great big to-do list. I have around 20 articles in draft format, just waiting for models to get finished so that I can take photos of them and finally post them up for all the folks on the interwebs to see.

I should have at least two new things going up before the end of the week. More stuff to cross off of my giant to-do list. What's on yours?

August 07, 2013

2013 Calgary Horror-Con

Last weekend was the third annual Calgary Horror-Con. I'd known about the convention since the beginning, but had been unable to attend during the first two years. I finally made up for that this year.

On Saturday we went down to the Blackfoot Inn shortly after twelve o'clock. This year the convention had added some screening rooms and would be showing some horror films and short films throughout the event. We had gone through all of the trailers and chosen two movies to watch, one on each day.

The Saturday movie we chose was called "Sick: Survive the Night." While not bad, our impressions were basically that the film was slow and almost none of the characters were very likeable. There were a few interesting twists, but still not enough to truly make the movie a worthwhile experience.

I also walked through the two dealer rooms and stopped by to talk with a few folks. Travis Shewchuk (Ravenous FX) had a batch of limited edition Stargate prints available, and we chatted a bit about making props for concert tours. It was pretty interesting and he seemed like pretty good dude.

The other fellow I chatted with briefly was Nat Jones, artist for the zombie comic '68. I picked up the second volume of that book and also his earlier series Frank Frazetta's Death Dealer. It's pretty cool chatting with these folks who are established in the entertainment industry yet live just a few clicks down the highway. I might talk with Travis a bit to get some custom miniature work done for my Stargate project, but of course cost and time will be a factor for sure.

After the regular convention day we went to a special event: a screening of the 1990 version of Night of the Living Dead. After the film there was a panel with director Tom Savini and actors Bill Moseley, Patricia Tallman and Tony Todd. It was really fun, as I'd never seen the movie on the big screen, and the panel was quite entertaining.

On Sunday I went back to the convention alone. I chatted with a few more local creators and got started on rebuilding my Halloween stuff with some prosthetics and blood from Bleeding Arts FX. I sat in on an FX Makeup panel hosted by Ashely from AMFX where the did two quick demos: a bullet through the head, and a nasty burn.

I also picked up a short story anthology from local author J.W. Schnarr called "Torn Realities", which I'm looking forward to reading.

Finally I got a few autographs. Usually I don't like paying for autographs, but this was sort of a special thing for me. Back in university I took a few film classes, one of which was a horror film course. For my term paper I had written a piece comparing the original Night film with the 1990 remake. My professor had really liked it and even suggested that it could be published with a few minor cleanups to it. Being near the end of my post-secondary career and simply wanting to escape I declined, but in retrospect it's a decision I quite regret.

However, that paper was one of my favourites from my time in university and I loved that I took it to the con and doled out my cash to have it signed by Tom, Tony and Patricia.

Each of them was really quite interesting to talk with, and given the nature of the convention layout were very approachable. Little in the way of line-ups and enough time to chat with everyone for a few minutes.

When I asked Tom to sign my paper he immediately expressed interest in reading it! Having only found it in a box late the night before I wasn't able to make copies for anyone to see, but I promised I would do so and send it electronically.

Tony expressed the same interest. Chatting with him was a cool experience. We talked a little about the gala on Friday that I wasn't able to go to, the screening on Saturday night and then ended up talking about magic. Apparently Tony Todd loves magic! We spent a few minutes talking about what my favourite kind of magic was to perform, and about how I absolutely must add going to the Magic Castle in LA an item on my bucket list. I'm pretty sure we could have talked at length, but a line was starting to form up behind me. I am very glad to have decided to go back for autographs.

Lastly I stopped to chat with Patricia and get my final signature. We discussed the level of violence and gore in the 1990 film and how tame it seemed compared to what you see in movies and on today. She happily signed my paper and asked that I send her a link to it so that she could read it as well.

I can't wait to hear what they think of it, even it is over ten years old now!

August 01, 2013

Painting Dreadball - The Avion Warriors

I have finally finished (re)painting my first season 1 team for DreadBall. In the first league I ran this spring, they were called the Avion Yellowhawks and I won the Trilogy Cup with them! *gasp* *shock*


This was going to be my first serious use of Army Painter Quickshade varnish. However, when I tried out my Soft Tone on a few old Horrorclix using the brush-on method the results were pretty good but turned out 'dirtier' looking than I wanted. The second attempt was with the soft tone varnish on my Judge Dredd zombies, which worked very well but wanting a cleaner look for my team I opted not to pursue it on my Yellowhawks.

With winter weather being cold and snowy (did I mention cold?) during mid-December I couldn't spray prime, so I painted a base coat of white directly onto the figures. It took several coats of thinned down P3 Menoth White to get an even shade but it did work. An unfortunate side effect of all those coats of paint was a bit of obscured detail.

Being a sports team I went for some very vibrant colours on top of the white: blue, silver and yellow. I used Formula P3 Cynar Blue Highlight and Cygnus Yellow for the non-metallics. The metallic detailing is a 1:1 mix of GW Mithril Silver and P3 Quicksilver. I found that the P3 metallic just didn't cover very evenly, and the GW stuff is too thick, so I mixed them together. A few additional drops of Vallejo matte medium and a dash of water rounded out the mix and turned into a really smooth metallic that I quite like the feel of. It's still a touch too thick to use straight out of the pot but works nicely from a wet palette, which I generally wouldn't use for metallic paints.

After all of the block colours were applied I put some of the water transfer number decals on their backs. I'm glad I ordered some extra transfer sheets, because I have enough for all 12 teams. They work very well and look great in my opinion. It would be nice tough if you could order sheets of different coloured decals from Mantic, rather than them all being plain white.

I had also painted the team logo insignia on their shoulder free-hand using P3 Coal Black. A few of them turned out very nicely, others not so much.

To finish everything off I tried three different washes. The first was a gray that I mixed myself, and looked passable on the white, but resulted in a washed out look on the other colours. The second wash I tried was some GW Gryphon Sepia, which was too much of a reddish brown. I hurriedly rinsed that figure in the sink to get it off. Finally I tried GW Badab Black wash, which looked good when it was wet...but looked like utter shit after it had dried. It made all my bright colours look dirty and gross.


In retrospect I should have taken a photo before the washes. In fact I wish I had one just so that I could remember how nice they looked before I went and fucked them all up. I tried going back over the yellow on a few figures but it just didn't work (mottled greenish yellow is NOT what I wanted).

So I still need to find a way shading bright colours. Recently I saw some videos about oil and watercolour washes, which might be better suited to shading lighter colours because you can wipe off the extra after it dries. I may try that out some time in the future.

After all that work and the destruction of my beautiful yellow I decided to just ditch the yellow entirely. I went over the yellows with GW Mephiston Red and renamed them the Avion Warriors. I still have to redo all of the shoulder logos, but otherwise they're as finished as they're going to get. The red fits their name and coach better than the yellow, but I still miss the yellow.

I had a ref-bot sitting around on my painting table that also got finished during the red-redo. She looks decent enough although I couldn't get the white smooth enough to look like lacquered armour as I'd planned.

"Ladies and gentlemen! Please welcome the reigning Trilogy Cup champions, the Avion, Warriors!"