Monday, December 21, 2015

The end of the year blog post!

Warning, this post will not contain much in the way of hobby content. It's a reflection of what has been.

First I want to thank you for continuing to read my blog. I get a thrill out of logging onto my computer in the morning and seeing the number jump up on how many views I've had the day before. The blog has had an incredible year, I hit 10,800 views over the last 12 months. That is an amazing number in my book! So thank you from the bottom of my heart. It encouraging to see that people actually read what I type and look at my models. It drives me to do and be better each time.

Looking back over the models I've completed this year it's funny to think that I started in January working on my 9 year old son's Protectorate of Menoth models and finished with a display piece from Khador. It was a long and strange year but fulfilling.

What's next?

In the next year I plan to expand on the blog. I am going to reach out and work on different types of miniatures from different game companies. You will see more GW stuff, Some Infinity models. I am really itching to get a hold of a few Knight Models (the batman stuff) and hopefully some Super Dungeon Explorer.

I will also start doing more product reviews as things come in (but that's a surprise for later).

I am also spinning up an honest to goodness YouTube channel. I am going to focus on beginners. There are so many painters on YouTube and they are fantastic but so few of them actually teach the basics. I expect that to start around February, as it takes time to create, edit and upload.

And finally I ask for your feedback. Please leave comments, let me know what you like and what you don't. Tell me what you want to see in the future. This blog belongs to you, so please let me know how you want me to make it better.

I'd like to give a few shout outs as well.

To Secret Weapons Miniatures, Thank you for the fantastic products you produce. Your weathering powders and Crushed Glass really make the miniature stand out!

To Badger Airbrush Company - I use your Patriot 105 and Renegade Khrome religiously. They are both excellent and continue to impress.

To Vallejo - Your paints rock, and your airbrush thinner is top notch!

To Privateer Press - I love your models they are inspiring to paint (even when I curse the crazy details sometimes). Also the more I use the P3 paint line the more I love it.

To Hanger 18 Miniatures - Thank you again for providing backgrounds for photography. The quality and look are just fantastic.

To Painting with Menoth John - Keep putting out your show. There are many a night (or day) that I have you on in the background while painting. Ya'll are inspiring, in your own sick and twisted (in a good) way.

And last but not least to my Wife and Kids, who put up with the long hours of painting,

So here is to what was an amazing 2015, and to an even better 2016!

And again I thank you, I couldn't do it without you!

See ya next year folks.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

At long last the Bombardier Bombshell is finished!

After the oil washes were I applied I went back over the model and highlighted the gold and silvers. Then it was onto finishing the base. I used Army Painter bushes things for the fauna to break up the space, and I used Secret Weapons Miniatures - Crushed Glass for the snow. It's pretty easy to do, just use some clear resin as glue (aka Realistic Water) then sprinkle the glass over it, drop a bit more resin on top... and you have snow. Now a much needed word of caution with this stuff. It's crushed glass, you do not want to breath this into your lungs, like not even a little bit. Use a mask, at least an N-95 if not a respirator, and gloves. Pour over a box or something that can catch it all. Seriously it's dangerous stuff if you don't take precautions.

Then it was time to assemble the model and get her on the base.

So here she is. I purposefully shot these photo's with no extra lighting on the light box to show the painted highlights without having the light wash them out.

Once the resin drys fully on the glass, I'll do pro pictures with her on a real background with real lighting.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Bombardier Bombshell 4.0

Well work continues on this intriguing model. I was able to get all the base coats on. The metallics are set and the oil washes have been applied.

The model is really coming together. I have maybe about 4 or 5 more hours to go and she will be finished and in the books.

I used a black oil wash on the suit and a burnt umber on the the girl.

Now to let it all dry and start on the rest of the highlights.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Bombardier Bombshell 3.0

And the work continues on this model. I know it's not as fast as others I have worked on. I am taking my time and doing this one the best I can, as it's going to be my entry into the next painting competition I can get to.

I have been working on the girl's torso over the last week. I started the skin by using a base coat of VMC - Russian Green, then did a light wash in Old GW - Witch Purple. I basically made a glaze out of the paint by going with about a 15:1 ratio of water to paint. Once the wash dried, I did the same with VMC - Base Flesh at 10:1 and slowly built up the color. I really like the green, purple under the base flesh as it gives it some much needed depth.

One the base flesh tone was were I wanted it. I started to blend it with a highlight of VMC - Bright flesh. I think it looks pretty good so far.

Then I worked on the tank top, I used the P3 - Gnarls Green, then created the highlight color by adding Old GW - Bleached Bone.

After that It was time to work on the hair a bit. I started with P3 - Blood Tracker Brown and used a highlight of VGC - Beasty Brown.

Here is the results so far. Next up is to finish the torso then start finishing up the MOW suite and work on the base.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Bombardier Bombshell 2.0

I let the primer cure overnight and it was time to get some paint on the model.

I started with VMC - Black/Grey to set the base color as dark as I am comfortable (see previous rants about using strait black).  Then moved on to the under highlights with VGC - Stone Grey.

As you can see I went really heavy on the highlights. I want the red to really pop on this one so the brighter I go now, the more Cherry Red it will be when complete. 

I did a quick rinse of the airbrush while the paint dried and then it was time for the first red ink to go on. 

Once that was in place, The second highlight of VMC - Flat Flesh Tone was applied to give the highlights a warmer feeling. 

And onto to the second coat of red ink. 

After the ink dried (and that's critical) I gave the whole thing a heafty dose of Testor's Gloss Varnish.

And now we wait for the gloss to dry and cure. Next up will be the browns and base colors for all the fiddly bits and details.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A new competition project. 1.0

At Warmachine Weekend I was given quite a bit of great feedback and some great advice on my painting. With all of that fresh on my mind it's time to start on a new project.

I wanted to find a model that was both fun and challenging. I spent a about a week looking around the web trying to find something that would inspire me and challenge me, and then I remembered I had a Privateer Press Bombardier Bombshell still sitting in the blister.

For those who don't know what I am talking about, the Bombshell is a convention special model, It's big, fun and has a beer in her hand! Well here look.

Now I knew what to do, it was time to build. I started by spending about 2 hours removing mold lines and filing the pieces down to fit. 

I wanted to do a display base for her as there is so much to this model I don't feel like a 40mm round base can do it justice. 

As to the painting part it's a bit bigger and more fiddly than normal so I had to figure out a way to hold it while painting. I took 4 corks and taped the snot out of them for a good hold and the right size. 

Everything that could be painted together was pinned and assembled and then it was time to prime. 

So here we are, me waiting for the primer to cure and dreaming about getting some nice cherry red and chrome onto her. I'm thinking the model is going to be an homage to the 50s. 

Stay tuned, this one might turn out epic. (or go down in flames, either way it should be interesting). 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Plea for Help.

Some of you may know Ashton Holbrook. He is the man behind Red Model Painting. His Twitch Stream is all about teaching, as is his YouTube page.

Ashton is an amazing man, he has been an inspiration to me, a sometimes mentor and an all around great guy. Ashton is always quick to answer a tough painting question and offer words of encouragement to any who ask.

Ashton is going through the most horrible experience of his life. His wife and children were in a car accident and today he had to say a final good by to his daughter. As a father myself I can't even imagine the hell he is going through.

So please if you can, if it's at all possible. I beg you to donate to his family. We as painters and miniature game lovers are a caring community and I believe we take care of our own. So please go to the donation page and help Ashton and his family if you can.

Thank you from my heart,


Sunday, November 22, 2015

The long awaited, and frankly quite long Photography post.

As some of may know, I taught the miniature photography class at Warmachine Weekend. I also shot and edited the pictures of all the entries for the painting competition, which can be viewed here Warmachine Weekend Painting Comp Entries.

Since the pictures have been posted I have received quite a few inquiries about how I was able to produce the results I did.

There are a few basics that must be understood for taking decent (to great) pictures of miniatures.

1. Equipment matters. A good DSLR will always take better pictures compared to a phone or regular digital camera. I shoot with a Cannon T2i and 300mm lens.

2. Lighting, lighting, lighting. It's crucial to taking good pictures. I use at a minimum 3 lights around my light box, and sometimes a 4th in the front if a model has too much overhang, leaving too many shadows. I personally use daylight bulbs in my set up but even good desktop lamps with LED bulbs will work just fine. If you find that you have too much glare on your models, a good cheap trick is to take a bit of parchment paper and LOOSELY wrap the head of the lamp, it will act to diffuse the light.

 2.B. Light should never be focused directly at the miniature. My setup has one light on each side and one light over head. I aim the lights behind and at a down angle causing the light to bounce off the walls before hitting the miniature. This has given me a way to remove shadows with out washing out the miniature.

3. Background. Ideally you want a darker, contrasting background. (you would not want to shoot a blue model against a blue background....) Choose something that is on the darker side that really brings out the colors of miniatures.

 3.B. I was generously given backgrounds made by Hangar 18 Miniatures for the photography class and for the WMW shoot. They are the best I have come across for miniatures as of yet. The colors they use are subtle enough to not take away from the miniatures but contrasting enough to make your mini's stand out. They are longer than a standard piece of paper and bend well without creases so that you can have them as the floor and background of the model. A few words of caution when using these backgrounds. The images are a bit fragile, so gentle handling of the miniatures when moving them around on it is required. Also I would recommend adding a strip of  Velcro to the back so that it will hang in your light box. Most light boxes I have played with have a strip for Velcro on the back wall. All in all the Hanger 18 stuff is great and I would recommend picking a few up if your going to take pictures for CMON or other websites, competitions etc.

4. A light box. This is something that you do not absolutely need. People achieve amazing results without them. I find it easier and more convenient to have one. They range from $30 to several hundred dollars. A good $50 light box will fit all your needs and can be found on amazon, eBay etc.

5. A tripod and remote. As you will read about later in the post, having a completely still camera is one of the keys to taking a great picture. You will need a steady tripod for this. Now your tripod does not have to be a $150+ studio quality job. I have a $25 tripod that meets all the criteria and is fantastic. Things you want to look for are, rubber feat. A good wide stance, lot's of levels and easy head adjustment. As for the remote. Just go get one, They run $5 on amazon for just about any camera.

OK so we now have our shiny camera, that is sitting on our new and awesome tripod. We have our light box set up with the lights shining down upon it. Why are we still getting poor to mediocre pictures?  Settings, the answer is settings. So your shiny camera has an auto setting that you are probably aware of. What we need is manual mode. We want to be able to control the white balance, shutter speed and ISO. We also want to control the F-stop (aperture) but that's gonna be on the lens.

Let's take an aside and talk about the things we can control. Our ultimate goal is getting a proper exposure.

 Here is a brief summary of the notes I give out when doing a photography class.
Proper exposure - Too bright or too dark washes out information (pixals).

The three things that effect proper exposure.
1. F- Stop aka Aperture.
2. Shutter Speed
3. ISO (light sensitivity)

Aperture – Controlled by the lens. Basically the hole the light comes though. This allows you to control how much light comes in. (can help stop whiting out your pictures). Larger the opening the smaller the number (think gauges). (DSLR cameras move f-stop at 1/3 stops). I shoot at between 16 and 22 depending on light.

Shutter Speed – How long the sensor is exposed to the light. Measured in percentages of a second.
Longer exposure times gives more data to the image.  For miniatures we generally want a longer shutter speed.  (Again on a DLSR they move by 1/3rd) and why we want to be on a tripod with a remote to keep the camera still while the sensor is exposed. 

With longer shutter speeds we want a smaller aperture.
ISO – Light Sensitivity, higher the number the brighter the image. Need to be careful, the brighter the image the grainier it becomes. Lower numbers will be a bit darker but will give you better raw data. (Very important in low light situations) For a light box with lights. 200 – 400 are going to be your sweet spot.

Picture formats.
8mb medium
16mb large

RAW. RAW is what you want to shoot it. This gives you the true data so that editing is “easy”. 

Another thing we want to look at is our White Balance. White Balance is basically a setting on your camera that gives the little brain inside of it a way to gauge how much light is there for it to use. We want to create a customer White Balance when we are setting up our shoot. It will vary with natural light if your in a room with windows (even with a light box) ect. It's very easy to do and I'll let you look how in your manual or on the YouTube. 

Everything above is are the basics of getting great pictures out of your camera. But there is more to the story. We need to look at editing. There are things that we will have to do on the computer. It's time to color edit to bring out what you want to see. We might want to lower our exposure levels, decrease the white, raise shadows etc. I recommend Adobe Lightbox. For what we do Photo Shop just ins't needed. Light Box can do all the editing without creating layers and I feel like its a more user friends program. 

So there you have it. Let me know if this helps or you have any questions and I'll try to answer them. 

Also if you would like to book a shoot for your models send me a line and we can work something out!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Warmachine Weekend Wrap Up. (this is gonna be long, but I have a lot of pictures for you at the end).

Wow, what an insane 4 days. I can honestly say I have never had more fun playing war games and meeting people.

Let's start at the start I guess. After an eight hour drive down to St Louise on Thursday, I met up with my best friend that I had not seen in 4 years. We got everything settled in to our rooms and went forth to meet people and get a few games in before the convention started. In the first hour I got to meet people I have "known" online for years. People were just as friendly and awesome in person. I was pulled into card games, and the famous game of Werewolf that I had heard of and wanted to play for years.

Friday morning was the Last Chance Qualifier. For those of you who don't know what that is. It's an insane tournament that had about 200 players all trying to win the one spot left open in Invitational, which is the biggest event in Warmachine gaming. Obviously I had no shot at winning but it was an amazing experience to be among that many people. To their credit everyone I played was friendly and a great sport. In my mind this is what gaming should be!

After I left the Invitational it was time for what I thought would be a quick nap. Unfortunately I slept for about 4 hours.....

Then it was time for more war gaming, meeting up with friends in the hobby room and generally having a great time.

I want to speak about the hobby room for a bit. Andy Welton from Crippled System fame volunteered to spend his convention running an outstanding side event filled with classes on painting, airbrushing, pinning models and just about everything else related to the hobby side of gaming. I was fortunate enough to even teach a class on photographing miniatures. Dallas Kemp from the Privateer Press painting studio was even on had teaching painting and judging the Painting Competition. Just speaking with Dallas and showing him my models was worth the trip. So thank you Dallas for all the great feed back and tips!

Also a huge shout out to for providing some fantastic photo backgrounds for taking pictures of miniatures.

On Saturday I took a step back and played in the Young Blood events. These are there for newer (read not great as well) players that want to get tournament experience without having to swim with the sharks. I gotta say that it was by far the most fun in gaming that I have had. The folks running the event were superb and extremely patient. The games were fun and enjoyed for the crazy off the wall things that happened and winning or losing we all had a blast. I also need to thank Brad Hartbauer for taking the time while waiting to play in the Invitational to play a game with me (while waiting for my next opponent).  His tips and explanations really helped me understand what I was doing wrong and helped me tighten up what I was doing correctly. So Brad, thank you so much for spending the time helping a player noob!

Sunday was a bitter sweet day. It was time to pack up and leave and still be exited to go home to my wonderful wife and children. But before I left I had the honor of doing the photography for all the entries into the painting competition. I was humbled that Andy trusted me enough to not only handle what people spent hundreds of hours working on, but to also capture them on "film" and show how amazing some painters really are. The pictures will be posted to the warmachine weekend website soon!

So yea if you have any inkling of going to a con, I would highly recommend getting into WMW. The hotel was amazing, the prices were reasonable and the whole trip including gas, hotel, tickets, and food were under $400!

OK you read a wall of text (or you were smart and just scrolled down). Here are your pictures.

Here is the main hall Thursday night before the convention started. There were something like 200 tables ready to go!

Here is a picture of my first game against Circle during the LCQ


Here I am all bald and teaching people how to make their models look as good (or bad) on screen as in real life. 

The Young Bloods room!

My buddy Kevin waiting for people to play. 

The great folks running the Young Bloods Tournament (Kyle on the left and Dave in the blue shirt)

Folks waiting on the next round pairing talking about games and stuff. 

There was a demo area for a new game called Guild Ball. Think BloodBowl but with good rules and really nice minis!

Of course I drive 400 miles to play my friend in a random paring tournament......

And my game with Brad, Thanks again man!