Friday, 19 April 2013

GW Nostalgia: Two Excellent "Retro" Blogs

Just a quick post today.  As you may know, I'm a sucker for Games Workshop nostalgia.  Oh, I agree that the stuff coming out of Nottingham nowadays is absolutely stunning, and the studio continues to raise the bar year after year (mostly due to increased quality and design put out by their many competitors).  However, there was just something special about "The good ol' days".  GW just seemed more free spirited back in the '80s, and even a little bit into the '90s.  It was a bit more Brit-Punk than now, and the sculpts and concepts and even the paintjobs really reflected that.

For example, check out some of these pics from the days when we waged wars against the ozone layer with copious amounts of environmentally unsafe hair spray:

This was a Jes Goodwin sculpt of a fairly well known piece of John Blanche artwork.  Sorry, I don't know who the painter was.  Fantastic stuff.  This was a one piece sculpt (something that no other sculptor can match Jes Goodwin at), with a plastic shield attached.  Back then, the shields came in all sorts of weird shapes, had no detail sculpted on (other than the raised rim and rivets), and had a hole in the centre.  Why?  Because the models came sculpted with a flattened nub on the wrists... the shields attached to them like they were pegs.

As for the paintjob: great use of complementary colours.  Gorgeous freehand work on the shield.  Interesting use of turquoise glazed metals on the armour.  Nicely subdued blood splatter effect on the axe.  A work like this really stands the test of time.  Of course, nowadays someone would do this up in hyper-exaggerated NMM, throw it on a detailed base that was taller than the miniature itself, and have translucent blood effects dripping off the axe, but there's something about this style that really appeals to me.  It's almost as if I can sense how much fun the painter had with this particular model.

These days, John Blanche is best known for his very evocative and thematic 2D art.  It dominates almost every GW publication, and his concept sketches get translated into 3D miniatures just about every other day, it seems.  It's gritty, it'd dirty, and it's wonderfully chaotic.  That being said, he's starting to attract attention for his 3D miniature painting again due to his semi-regular "Blanchitsu" articles in White Dwarf magazine.  I say, "again", because he used to publish "Blanchitsu" articles back in the late '80s too, and WD also featured a number of his painted miniatures back then as well.  This is probably one of his greatest works... incredibly inspirational, and it showed just what a deep background in canvas art could do when tranferred to a 32mm scale miniature.  After this miniature, many a painter has tried their hand at freehand painting a version of the Mona Lisa on their models.  In fact, one of my heroes, a Canadian painter named Mark Dance, did a very similar model for his Slayer Sword winning dioramas back in the early '90s.  Fantastic stuff.

For all those readers who are just starting out in miniature painting, and get depressed or discouraged when they compare their paintjobs to what's hot in White Dwarf, the Golden Demons, Crystal Brush, or Coolminiornot, take a look at the above paintjobs, and then take a look at the pics of my early stuff featured in my last blog post.  Now consider that those horribly painted skaven, goblins, and undead were painted YEARS after the above two models were featured in WD magazine, perhaps you can get an understanding that what you're feeling is perfectly understandable, and that it will pass.  Learn all you can about miniature painting, use the best brushes, practice like crazy (and I mean LOTS), experiment on occasion, and get as much feedback as you can from artists that you respect.  It won't be long before your stuff is comparable to any of the models you initially drooled over.

Anyway, if you want to check out more of the above, I would advise that you check out the following two blogs:

Amazing stuff, and very inspired.  It also helps that the writing for the two blogs is actually pretty good.  Each blogger has a firm grasp of what was going on at the time, and communicates the wondrous enthusiasm (and innocence) of the period.  Definately recommended.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Works in Progress and Some Early Paintjobs

Since I haven't posted much in awhile, I thought it was time to post up some quick pics of some models I'm currently working on, and also a special treat: pics of some models I painted as far back as the late '80s and early '90s.

First of all, the WIPs:

I know I've renounced painting for hire some time ago.  However, as I've been pondering the purchase of a new airbrush (the Badger Renegade Krome looks nice) and a few upgrades for my paintball markers (the paintball community adopted the term, "marker" years and years ago as an alternative to calling them, "guns"... I think it sounded a bit too PC back then, but with the current gun debate going on, perhaps it was fortuitous), I decided a small contract for a personal friend of mine wouldn't hurt.  After all, at least it was going to stay in town, so there was a chance I might catch a glimpse of it on a gaming table once in awhile.

Anyway, these are just three of six Privateer Press Warmachine Cygnar Stormblades.  They were made of a resin-like plastic that I've never worked with before... it seems very different than the Forgeworld and Finecast resins, and not quite like the plastics used in GW, Revell, or Tamiya plastic kits.  I can't say that I liked it as much, as there were copious mould lines running through the detailed areas, and the parts didn't come on a sprue... it looked like some monkey tore them from the sprue with their bare fingers.  Come on PP... couldn't you at least supply your packing minions with some flush-cut plastic clippers?  I don't doubt that PP's quality control and mastery of plastics will improve greatly over time, but these were fairly painful to prep and assemble.  Sigh.  At least I didn't have to fill in any bubbles with liquid greenstuff...

These were given a black primer coat, with a light dusting of white primer from above.  This helps highlight and define the details, making it easier to tell what parts are what.  With models that are comparatively "busy" with detail, this helps aid your eye, thus speeding up the painting.  It also helps you make decisions on where to apply highlights and shadows, as the black / white contrasts turn out much like a black and white photograph.

Instead of painting the quilted under armour a yellow colour, like the PP studio paintjob, I went with black.  It would give the bright blues, golds, and metals something to contrast against.  PP Coal Black was the basecoat, followed by PP Armour Ink (essentially black) that was cut with a bit of matt medium.  I find that inks (as opposed to GW's washes) benefit greatly from mixing in a tiny bit of matt medium... it helps it flow into the recesses much better, and leads to fewer tide marks and staining of the base coat.  The newest GW washes seem to already have the medium mixed in, which saves a ton of time.  However, I had a bottle of PP armour ink kicking around, and I believe in using what you've got before buying anything new.

Cygnar blue was used as the basecoat.  I've never used it before, and I was suprised that it turned out to be a shade darker than GW's Ultramarine blue.  It was then given a wash of GW blue wash (previous generation), which helped define the details and shadows even more.  The model on the right was left at that stage.

The left two models have had highlights and some shading added.  GW Ultramarine blue (actually the Vallejo Game Colour copy, which I purchased some time ago to compare against the GW brand... I find it needs more shaking before use because it's more prone to separation, and is much thinner than GW's paint, which means it's fine for layering, glazing, and blending, but stinks for basecoat opacity) was the first highlight, then some PP Frostbite was slowly blended in for various stages of highlights.  For that, I experimented with various mediums to see which one I liked.  As far as blending progressive glazes, I think the PP paints prefer Vallejo Matt Medium, followed by Vallejo Glaze Medium, and lastly Vallejo Slow-Dri (which made the PP paints too gummy in consistency, a trait which they suffer from a little bit to begin with).

The steel areas were the GW Leadbelcher (I think that's what it was called... it was the closest to the old Boltgun Metal that I could find).  This was given a wash of the PP Armour Ink / matt medium mix.  I still need to come back and clean this up with more Leadbelcher, then blended up to silver, possibly Vallejo Metallic Medium for the spot highlights (which is even brighter than GW's Mithril Silver... it has some white tones in it).

I still need to do the golds, which I plan on shading with some nice rich browns, and highlight up to silver to simulate shine.  The electric coils in the weapons will be given a tiny amount of OSL treatment (object source lighting... where it appears that the object is emitting it's own light).  At that stage, I'll see if these models will need some slight weathering... although some chipping and rust may make an already busy looking model look a bit cluttered, perhaps.

Three of five Nurgle Chaos warriors I'm working on.  These were mainly just experiments... they're looking a bit too clean and bright at the moment, but I want to see what I can do to them afterwards to get them looking a bit more weathered and realistic.  All five are at various stages of painting, although the same colours have been applied so far.  At the weathering stage, each will be subjected to different weathering techniques, and I will see which ones I like the best.

I got this Vindicare Assasin in a trade years and years ago.  It was already painted (poorly), but since the paint wasn't too thick, I decided to paint over it, seeing if I could clean this up and make it presentable.  In the end, it'll be tabletop gaming quality standard.  That being said, I've always been a fan of this sculpt.  It's a beautiful example of how nice a single piece model can be.  So far, all I've done is repaint the black skin suit.  Everything else is the previous painter's work.

You've seen this Rhino before.  I've added a few more layers of glazed shadows and highlights, and started on the metal areas.  Layering on progressive glazes, and feather blending each on in to achieve the smoothest possible colour transitions achievable without the use of an airbrush or oil paints is incredibly time consuming work, and frustrating as well.  However, this is a learning process, and something I just needed to do.  So far, estimated completion date for this model is sometime after I've been placed in a seniours care home...

And for the real treat, the following pics are some models I found in a musty box in the back of my parent's garage.  I can't be sure of the exact date of each model... I only have vague recollections of painting them, and what I was doing at the time.  If you think YOUR early stuff looks bad, check these out:

This is a metal Space Marine dreadnought blended with an Epic 40,000 Warlord Titan.  I was going for something a bit taller and more agile looking than the old dread.  This was before the Tau were ever released, and way before the Forgeworld Contemptor dreadnought.  It started off in Imperial Fist colours, and was painted over in grey later (I think I was planning on doing it up as Space Wolf 13th company).  Right now, I'm thinking I'll strip the paint off, and do some more conversions in order to make it fit into my upcoming Spirit Dragons Samurai Space Marine army.  It'll take some work though.

I believe this is a Ral Partha Lizardman from the mid-eighties.  This was probably the first paintjob I was proud of... enamel blue metallic paint, followed by a drybrush of some dark steel.  The skin was done in much the same way, but I think I finished the model off with a wash of black paint thinned with water.  Can't be totally sure... I just remember going back to the game store I bought it at, and showing it off to the staff member at the time.  It didn't get much of a reaction, but that experience served me well when I later became a GW salesperson later.  I could remind myself that I was once an excited 12 year old who barely knew what a paintbrush was.

Oh man... I don't remember much about this model at all, except I used in in many a pen-and-paper role-playing game.  This was when I thought highlights were supposed to be white, shades were done in pure black, and drybrushing was the greatest technique ever applied to a miniature.  Looking back on this model now, I think the most impressive thing about this model was the fact that I actually managed to freehand paint the word "Demon" with a crappy synthetic hair Testors brush.

More of the same.  

Some really early GW models.  Enamel paints, with those really bad synthetic hobby brushes (the ones where the "hairs" look like rejects from a toothbrush factory).  An interesting note about the blood effects... I think I actually used real blood on the skaven sword.  I had accidentally cut my finger while getting some models off the sprue, and decided I shouldn't waste an opportunity like that.  I smeared that bloody finger on the weapons of every model I had within reach.  I don't recommend this technique at all, especially since all the metal models back then were made of lead.  Luckily, I only had plastic models within reach.  Interestingly, the skaven came from one of the very first plastic regiment kits that GW ever produced, back in the 3rd edition of Warhammer Fantasy.

An Inquisitor scale (54mm) that I converted and painted when the game was released.  Not much to say... it was a quickie paintjob, as I was rushing to finish it before a painting deadline.  Freehand was done with a Pigma Micron artist pen.  I think I'll strip this model one day and repaint it... I loved those 54mm models, although they stunk for gaming purposes.

Anyway, that's it for now.  Let me know if there's anything else you guys want to see, or see discussed on this blog.  Comments are always welcome.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

2002 Khador Warcaster and 2012 Christmas Space Marine up on CMoN

Sorry for the lack of updates... I'm currently working on a fairly big post at the moment (check out the thread:, but in the meantime, I've posted up two pics on Coolminiornot... the first pics I've posted there since December 2005.

Back story of this model and it's paintjob on the Coolminiornot page.  Please feel free to check it out and vote and / or comment.

And regular readers of this blog might recognize the following model:

Again, please check out the link, and vote and / or comment.

I'll be posting more pics up on Coolminiornot over time, and posting them here on SableandSpray as well.  First of all, I'll have to figure out how to stack various pics together into one jpg file, just as many other posters have done.  These were simple... they really didn't need multiple views from various angles to show off the model.  However, my dioramas and larger vehicle models will need to be seen from various sides.

As for the ratings... a high rating is nice, but it's not the ultimate goal.  Constructive feedback is the main goal... how to improve my paintjobs, and see what people think of my paintjobs.  You can never take other people's opinions personally... I just try and be objective about it.  Sometimes the feedback is excellent... well thought out and insightful.  Other times, it's barbed and not very constructive.  You just have to figure out which is which, and not get sucked into some sort of flame war, or let it hurt your feelings.  I know I'm not the best painter in the world... what I want to know is HOW I can become the best painter in the world  ;)

Other than websites and forums online, I'd say the best way to get feedback is to show your models in person... competitions are good... painting clinics are better.  Getting a painter you greatly admire to check out your models in person, and offer constructive feedback is the best thing you can do to get better, faster.  A fresh perspective is always welcome.