Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Dark Angels - WiP - If I never see snot green again.....

No, I've not been working heavily with snot green on my Dark Angels over the past week. Instead my body has been working full time on producing its own snot green analogue in addition to generally making me feel quite miserable. While this has given me a lot of time at home, it hasn't been productive painting time. As a rule, I tend to avoid painting when I'm at risk of sudden convulsive coughing and sneezing, at best it is off putting for painting. At worst......well your paint job might take on rather more abstract qualities.

Back in the saddle now and I'm trying to be disciplined with Tuesday's as my dedicated painty and blogging night. The dedicated part is less about the painty and the more about stopping to actually do the blog update. I suspect I'm not the only blogger out there who keeps painting until they feel they've got something they're happy blogging about, rather than just stopping and going "hey, this is where I am at." I think there is a certain honesty in the latter approach and I'm going to try from now on to stop around 9pmish (just in time for Alice Cooper on Planet Rock) and take photos of whatever stage my model is at, warts and all.

Back to the models.

Starting with the image above, hopefully you can see I've started applying the mid tone red to the Plasma cannon. I've done this for all the weapons and generally the colour is all over except for those areas in shadow, which I've left as the darker red.

I've also started working on the plasma coils and so far all I've done is base with enchanted blue, painted on a mid tone of ice blue, washed with asurmen blue and given it a quick dry brush over with the ice blue. Its a start for the plasma coil, but there is more to do to get the intensity on the coils right.

I've also applied my mid tone to the bone details of the armour, again working to keep the colours consistent with the light and shadows. I've also applied some of my mid red to the company badge on the knee pad, again working towards the light and I've also started building the detail up on the eyes. This picture also shows one of the issues with working from fully assembled models (which is kind of necessary when you're doing zenithal highlighting with an airbrush), is getting to the detail. Some sacrifices need to be made with the detail at this point and certain areas can be left alone.

That said, some of the detail is just plain fiddly to get at and a steady hand is needed, plus patience to deal with mistakes when they happen.

And they will happen.
I think this is a good "warts and all" picture on the melta, as it shows the application of the mid tone red is quite messy really, even though it doesn't seem that way to the nekkid eye. This will get neatened up a bit as I apply the final highlight and a red wash to tie the transitions together. I've also given all the metalwork (that's not gold) a healthy wash of Baddab Black.
The mid tone bone highlight has gone onto the Chapter badge as well. I'm kind of making these up as I go, so I'm still not entirely sure what the finished result will look like. I think the detailing on the lower wing needs tidying up a bit, just so the highlighting makes more sense.

Funnily enough though, the detail on the little symbol hanging from his belt looks better in this photo than it does to the nekkid eye. Funny how these things work.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Dark Angels - Work in Progress

So my Dark Angels devastators are coming along...........................slowly. What the airbrush giveth, the hand painting taketh away. Getting all the details onto eight figures takes time, even just the basic blocking out of colour, before you start shading and highlighting.
Still, as I'd hoped, the figures are starting to come together as the detail goes on and the zenithal highlighting via the airbrush looks less weird now and will look progressively less so as the details are refined.
This blocking out of colour is probably one of my least favourite stages of painting a model, because it is fiddly and time consuming. I try to avoid any mess, to save time cleeaning up later on, which means careful painting inside the lines. I've also got to think about what colours I want, where I want them and how it will all look when I'm done. Plus I miss bits, I forget stuff and then wind up having to repaint areas because I've moved onto another figure at the one time. So not all the base colours are done yet.

Plus doing the freehand to get the Dark Angels chapter symbol on the shoulder pads (as the DA sprue shoulderpads only have a sword) takes a while as well.
Also,last night appeared to be "not good macro photography night" as it was late and I was tired taking the pics so everything is slightly darker than it should be. This some what exacerbates the zenithal highlighting on the figures, where some of the dark looks darker than it should. I find myself worrying unnecessarily when looking at the photos that the macro photography has made it so the shadow is hiding the shadow effect I've tried to achieve, when in fact, it's displaying it more or less properly.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Rant: If You Can't Say Anything Nice.........

....don't say anything at all.

I imagine this is something that all of us have heard from one of our older and wiser relatives at some point in our lives. I see it as one of the great truisms of existence. Sadly nowhere is this saying more widely ignored on the internet but, I suspect none of us our strangers to this or the effect that "anonymity +audience+complete lack of consequence" has on some people. 

I can't get my head round the mentality of why some people feel compelled to post the comments they do. It probably is the most depressing thing about browsing the blog rolls and stumbling across someone's blog, which they've lovingly put together, showcasing their work which they've clearly invested a lot of time and effort in, only to see that some faceless non-entity has posted utterly non-constructive criticism. Criticism that invariably isn't backed up by any link or way of referencing the posters own work. Not that I imagine for a second anyone with an ounce of self worth, self confidence and ability would spend time trashing someone elses work. Regardless of whatever talent any of us might posess, no one wants to look like an ass in the eyes of the rest of the community or senslessly hurt someone's feelings for kicks.

Where am I going with this? 

Oh yes, "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

Basically whenever I look at someone elses blog, that's the first thing that goes through my head. Art is subjective, we all do things differently and I honestly believe that you can learn something from everyone's miniature painting or other artistic endeavours. I've seem mini's that I consider to be poorly painted, from a technical standpoint, but the imagination behind the colour scheme or the conversion or the pose or other aspect of the piece, is something that I can draw inspiration from. Sometimes you can see what was being attempted and perhaps it didn't work, but then you think "would I have the balls to try doing that?"

Now I'm either quietly inspired (more often than not) or I'll post some compliment about whatever inspired me and go on my merry way.

I also think that if you are going to critique someone's work, you need to be clear on what is good about it before you post about what could be improved. And the "language of improvement" is, to my mind, the only valid way to critique, because art is subjective and nothing is ever truly "bad." A paint job might be unaccomplished, it might be untidy, it might be shockingly poorly colour co-ordinated, but they're never "bad." I know people who paint so the figure looks "good at arms length" and they completely achieve that objective. Obviously such paint jobs look a little (sometimes very) rough when subject to macro photography, but that misses the point entirely. Everthing else about the paintjob, the colour scheme, the shading, the light sourcing, etc etc, is all correct. It looks good the way it is supposed to look. It makes as much sense to critique that approach as bad as it does to say "impressionist" art is "not as good" as "photorealism." You might have a personal preference for one over the other, but that's not an objective viewpoint.

There is also a lot of stuff on the blogrolls which is awe inspiring. It is easy to post a compliment but, that shouldn't preclude complimenting with a critical eye. In which case it is what are the things about the paintjob which really stand out to you, where the technique actually has you baffled as to how you'd do it.

I think, and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, that almost everyone out there in blogland is looking for encouragement and support on their painting. It is encouraging to be complimented, it is equally encouraging to have someone say "This is great and have you tried doing such and such a thing?" because that helps us improve.

Maybe there are very rare exceptions to the rule, but for the greater part, I think every miniature paintjob has it good points and its learning points.

Or to put it another way.

Every paint job is a starting point.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Going Green for 2012 - Dark Angels WiP

Over Christmas and New Year I spent some time reflecting on what I was going to paint next and also decided to satisfy my yearning to assemble some miniatures, a process which is fun in its own right. Due to the way things worked out this year, I found myself at home on Christmas Eve happily assembling a sizeable number of Dark Angels veterans including personality figures like Azrael and Ezekiel.

After basecoating the veterans I realised "hey, there is a lot of bone white fabric to paint on these guys!" Closely followed by the thought "I need a break from bone white, I should paint something else." The final thought pulled into station brain shortly afterwards, which was "paint some regular DA you numbskull!" which seemed like a pretty good idea for my brain, especially as I haven't painted a single, honest to goodness, green DA figure since late 2009. Here he is.
I think he was one of the first figures I painted back in 2009 after I got back into minis again after the better part of 2 decades. The figure isn't complete here and I was using a limtied selection of paints, but I was quite pleased with how he turned out.

Anyhow, the other reason for going with non-veteran DA is because I can use my airbrush for the general green colour scheme, something that isn't so practical with the veterans.
The airbrush makes it easy to do a lot of figures quickly (I'm working on 8 atm) and also makes zenithal highlighting a lot easy. They do look a little weird until you the other details done though, as the lack of contrast of other colours does flatten the overall scheme.

The approach is straightforward enough.
1) Undercoat black.
2) Spray miniatures Dark Angels green.
3) Liberally coat the miniatures in a watered down baddab black wash.
4) A more carefully applied spray coat of DA Green to the upper parts of the model.
5) Mix of 50/50 DA Green and Snot Green which is then lightly applied to the upper parts of the model (best to just stand the figures in a line for this and then aim your airbrush as the lightsource and off you go.
6) Line highlight of watered down 50/50 mix of scorpion green and snot green.
7) Thrakka green wash over everything.
8) More black wash into the recesses as needed.
As ever, my macro photography is somewhat shonky but, hopefully you can see on this guy the graduated shading afforded by the airbrush. I'd say getting the right effect, for me, is about 50% judgement and 50% luck. The end result is that the armour is very very dark green out of the light and in it, well, its a slightly less dark green with the odd sharp highlight here and there. I may tinker with the line highlighting as I put more detail in, because in some places it looks fine and in others I think the line needs to diffuse more.
And yes, most of thee guys do have heavy weapons. I like my devastator squads and what I have here are 6 heavy weapons figures. I might make two part of a tactical squad and the others part of a devastator team. I've also assembled a few veterans with heavy weapons as well. If you like something, go wild!
The other two figures are sternguard veterans from the original metal blister pack which I picked up at Gen Con 2009. I may assemble a full blown sternguard squad at some point, using the three I've already painted as the core. The MkVI figures in the set are destined to become Consecrators, indeed one already is if you check the start of this blog.
It really didn't take long to get all 8 figures to this state, maybe a couple of hours work. I'll hopefully get the detail on at the weekend and then we'll see what we shall see.