Archive for April, 2015

400,000 views — and the evolution of a Zombie…

Posted in old stuff, paintjob, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , on April 28, 2015 by krautscientist

400000views
Hey everyone, just a quick post to let you know that Eternal Hunt has actually managed to hit the 400,000 total views mark earlier this week, which I think is pretty cool! So, once again, thanks to all of you who keep reading, following, sharing and commenting! It really means a lot to me!

In order to provide you with something appropriate to the occasion, I burrowed down deep and actually managed to dig out what may be the absolute first model I’ve ever painted. Check it out:

Zombie (1)
A trusty HeroQuest Zombie, as you can see, and I think it’s fair to say that I didn’t really know what I was doing. I distinctly remember wanting to approximate the look of the painted example on the game box, with its dead, blueish skin and faded red jacket. But I went for neon blue and bright red which didn’t help. Plus there’s also the fact that I had very obvious difficulties in the field of brush control, as you can plainly see…

Zombie (2)
I must have realised that even back then, which is probably why the poor blighter never got finished. All of this happened circa 1992, when actually painting the miniatures that came with a boxed game seemed like a strange and novel concept, and my first experiences in this field certainly scared me away for a couple of years.

Until 1994, that is, when I started taking an interest in the painting of miniatures again. And as it happens, I have yet another HeroQuest Zombie to show for it. So here’s exhibit B:

Zombie (3)
Not bad, not bad at all — I certainly had a much better idea of what a tabletop Zombie should look like this time, and I also went the whole hog and actually finished the model. And while the paintjob is hardly brilliant, it also isn’t massively embarrassing, either.

Zombie (4)
My one big mistake, in hindsight, was to use some pretty horrible, glossy enamel paints. But I was definitely getting there (I believe I painted my first model using GW paints pretty soon afterwards — it was the chaos warlock from the HeroQuest box). Oh, and for the record: I still think those faded blood stains on the blade of the cleaver are kind of cool 😉

Which brings us to the present — or to 2014, to be exact: I speedpainted a couple of HeroQuest models last year, as a bit of quick fun, and the Zombie model was one of them. Take a look:

Zombie (5)
Granted, it’s not competition level painting by any stretch of the imagination, but then I hardly spent an hour on the model. And I think it’s a fairly accurate representation of my current painting standard. What’s interesting about the model is that it’s actually really close to the look I had wanted to achieve on that first Zombie: dead, mouldering flesh and faded, threadbare clothes. Anyway, I am pretty happy with this guy.

Zombie (6)
I also think those HeroQuest models have aged teriffically well, in spite of everything — they are single piece and rather limited, but their very distinc silhouettes and general design still manage to hold up. The Zombie, for one, is still one of my favourite tabletop Zombie models!

So there we have it: Twenty plus years of my personal painting career in one comparison picture:

Zombie Evolution (3)
I may not be a brilliant painter, but I still seem to have come a rather long way, after all 😉

So, once again, thanks for reading this blog and providing me with some motivation to produce new conversions and paint a model every now and then. There’ll be a more substantial update – with an actual, finished model – later this week. Scout’s honour!

Until then, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

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Toll the great bell once — a look at the Skitarii release

Posted in 40k, Conversions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2015 by krautscientist

They have finally given us plastic AdMech!

I repeat: THEY HAVE FINALLY GIVEN US PLASTIC ADMECH!

Seriously, though: I am pretty sure it’s no exaggeration to say that, for many hobbyists, the introduction of the Adeptus Mechanicus Skitarii as a separate faction is wish-fulfillment of the first order. There’s just something about the Adeptus Mechanicus that’s so quintessentially grimdark and 40k that it makes the faction almost irresistible to some of us — myself included.

AdMech Skitarii Release (1)
If you grew up with 40k at a certain time and share a certain mindset, then you will have looked forward to any AdMech release just as much as me: I remember coming across illustrations like this John Blanche piece…

AdMech by John Blanche

Illustration by John Blanche

or this equally brilliant piece by Jes Goodwin…

Illustration by Jes Goodwin

Illustration by Jes Goodwin

…and starting to wonder what the deal with those Mechanicus guys was. Those ponderings formed the foundation for an ongoing fascination with the Adeptus Mechanicus, and I think the main reason for this fascination is the fact that, not unlike the Adepta Sororitas, the Adeptus Mechanicus is very much at the heart of what makes 40k such a memorable setting: The eclecticism, rampant anachronisms and grimdark feel of these ancient guardians of knowledge (or should that be ignorance?) are what make them so cool. Their heavily augmented, red-robed forms are as iconic of the darker, more Blanchian side of 40k as the colourful, slightly more modern Space Marines are of mainline 40k.

And to be honest, we never really expected there to be an official plastic AdMech release, did we? I think I speak for all of us AdMech aficionados when I say that we would probably have been happy with a clamshell character or two. And many people were overjoyed at Forgeworld making the Mechanicum a faction in the Horus Heresy setting. But plastic AdMech in 40k proper? Unthinkable!

And yet, here it is! So let us take a look at all the new kits and discuss their high and low points. And it goes without saying that we will also be looking at the possible conversion options. All hail the Machine! 😉

 

Skitarii Rangers/Skitarii Vanguard:

AdMech Skitarii Release (2)Okay, this is our very first AdMech plastic infantry kit, and right out of the gate, we can see that GW means business.
The kit gives us the option to assemble two types of infantry: Skitarii Rangers and Skitarii Vanguard. Let’s start with the Rangers, because these guys are so quintessentially AdMech with their red robes, cowled and masked heads and heavy augmentations: And not only do they closely resemble the picture many hobbyists have had of the Skitarii, but I also think it’s really stunning how closely these models…

AdMech Skitarii Release (5)

..resemble the Skitarii artwork by none other than John Blanche himself. Just check it out:

Skitarius by John Blanche

Skitarius by John Blanche

This is just the first of several instances where the new models tap into the well established look for the faction, but once again, it’s really amazing to finally have the models to fit the artwork!

One thing that stands out about this kit as well as the whole release is the use of anachronism in the design of the models, particularly the weapons. The inclusion of a very WFB Empire-like sniper rifle serves as a sterling example of this:

AdMech Skitarii Release (6)
Now this certainly goes for all of 40k to some degree, but it’s especially obvious with the Skitarii weapons, both due to their design as well as their idiosyncratic nature: On the surface, these are some really elegant weapons, with beautifully decorated grips and delicate, slender designs, lending a strong 19th century feeling to the models. At the same time, there’s a rather chilling contrast between the very classy, elegant design of the weapons and their terrible function: In a world as grimdark as 40k, the Tech Priests of Mars alone are big enough bastards to let their troops use weapons that not only irradiate the surroundings but also the very soldiers wielding them.

In any case, these guys are very close to the well established Skitarii image and provide us with some wonderful plastic renditions of the art we all love so much — very nice!

The other option is to assemble the kit as ten Skitarii Vanguard, with different weapons and heads:

AdMech Skitarii Release (8)

And while the very different look of the Vanguard helmets when compared to the usual, cowled AdMech look did take some getting used to, I find myself growing more and more fond of these guys: There is something very neo-Prussian about them, which adds to the 19th century feeling of the models. And at the same time, there’s also a palpable influence of 50s SciFi evident in the models’ design.

AdMech Skitarii Release (10)

All the parts in the kit are beautifully detailed and present some of GW’s finest work in plastic. The resulting models are wonderfully scaled, slender and detailed, with a brilliant contrast between flowing robes and highly busy technical components. One piece of criticism I have seen leveled at the kit is that the models seem relatively “safe” and “clean”, mostly devoid of the rampant body horror and man/machine fusion we get in some of the more extreme AdMech artwork. But while that may be true, I would argue that it seems sensible to make the main infantry kit for the faction a bit more restrained — there will be ample body horror later, for one, plus it should also be really easy to make these guys as distressed as you want them to be via some kitbashing. But more on that later!

One last thing I love about the kit is how it gives us ten models to play around with — and at a fairly reasonable price, at that. Sure, ten squad members used to be norm rather than the exception, but so many of the more recent kits have used five models as a new standard that it’s really nice to see a bigger squad again!

All in all, this kit is fantastic and feels like an almost compulsory purchase for every 40k aficionado. Excellent job!

 

Sicarian Infiltrators/ Sicarian Ruststalkers

AdMech Skitarii Release (13)
Another multi-kit, so we are certainly getting our money’s worth out of this new plastic crack! Both variants of the kit make for some very unique models, so let’s take a look at both of them in turn:

AdMech Skitarii Release (14)

Let’s start with the Infiltrators: Man, I just love these guys: They look every bit the lithe, deadly assassins they are supposed to be. The grafted-on augmetic stilts do a perfect job of making them taller and giving them a more unique silhouette, and their bionic arms with the transonic blades add to that effect. I also really like the gas-masked heads: These guys just have the “Clockwork Ninja” look down pat:

AdMech Skitarii Release (16)
It also looks like their arm blades can be used to achieve all kinds of bad-ass ninja poses. And I love how they are tall and impressive enough to use Termie bases, yet their slender silhouette still ties them in with the classic AdMech look. It’s also noticeable how the lack of robes actually works in their favour, making them look far more dynamic and deadly — beautiful!

Speaking of robes, there’s also the squad’s Princeps:

AdMech Skitarii Release (15)
And, if anything, he’s even cooler than his charges! Seriously, I love this guy: The cowled, heavily cabled face, the voluminous robes extra set of servo-arms — he’s just everything I would expect of a highly combative member of the AdMech. If I have one gripe with this guy, it’s that he almost looks a tad too far removed from the rest of the squad — more like a proper Tech Priest and less like a mere unit champ. But the model itself is pretty much perfect, which is why I’ll let it slide. One more thing: You’ve got to love that evil looking claw, don’t you think?

Apart from that, my only point of critique about the Infiltrators is that the various doodads dangling down from the models’ backpack seem to work against the models’ otherwise very clean and uncluttered silhouette. I guess how these are supposed to be recurring elements all across the army, but they are slightly surplus to requirements here, if you ask me. But ultimately, that is a very minor problem — I just love these guys, period.

There’s also the option of assembling the models as Sicarian Ruststalkers, a squad of high-tech soldiers jamming transmissions and frying enemy brains with their constant broadcasting of the AdMech version of deadly white noise:

AdMech Skitarii Release (17)
These guys have a very obvious 50s SciFi look going on, and their domed helmets really do a good job of communicating their function. I also like the alternative set of weapons — especially the grimdark uzis 😉 One thing that I really want to point out is how similar these guys are to a 1990s concept for Imperial robots, courtesy of Jes Goodwin. Just see for yourselves:

AdMech Skitarii Release (22)

Imperial Robot by Jes Goodwin
What a wonderful way of giving a shout out to these older, yet still wonderful, concept sketches!

Ultimately, I like these guys slightly less than the Infiltrators, but that may just be me: They are a bit goofier and slightly less sinister and lethal looking. What I really like is how a change of heads and weapons really transforms the models!

One thing, though: Doesn’t it just look like the squad leader has a Santa Claus beard made of cabling:

AdMech Skitarii Release (20)
I just cannot unsee this now, especially with that red cloak… Erm…that is one bad ass looking servo-skull, though, so I think that makes up for the slightly dubious head 😉

It also bears mentioning that these guys are less clean and more sinister than the Vanguard/Rangers, hewing closer to the more demented side of AdMech lore. So if the other footsloggers feel too safe for you, these guys should be right up your alley! There’s also something chilling about their backstory: Skitarii so damaged by their prior years of service that their only use is to be turned into utterly terrifying killing machines.

Ultimately, I love this kit just as much as the Vanguard/Ranger kit: One of the main pitfalls for this army must have been to maintain the balance between having a strong look of visual coherency (these are machine soldiers, after all) while also having the different units look original enough. These models are a great variation of the look introduced by the Vanguard/Ranger kit, and I will certainly pick up a box of these sooner rather than later! Fantastic!

 

Ironstrider Ballistarius/ Sydonian Dragoon

AdMech Skitarii Release (25)Okay, this third kit certainly ups the ante when it comes to grimdark visuals and puts us slap bang in the middle of Blanchian design sensibilities.

The Ironstrider Ballistarius is the AdMech idea of a mobile weapons platform — and didn’t you just expect these guys to have something pretty interesting going for that? The result is a beautifully eclectic, avian walker with some very noticeable design parallels to the Imperial Knight (the armour plates on the legs make this especially obvious), creating a strong and very fitting visual connection between the two subfactions.

Oh, and this has to be one of my favourite heads designed by GW:

AdMech Skitarii Release (27)
By changing around the various rider bitz and main weapon, we actually get a sub-variant of this kit with a sniper focus:

AdMech Skitarii Release (29)You may call me crazy, but (mostly due to the 19th century design of the weapons) I am getting a massive “big game hunter” feeling from this version of the kit, which I think is fantastic!

The real star of the show, however, has to be the Sydonian Dragoon:

AdMech Skitarii Release (23)

In his recent review of the kit, Dave Taylor calls the idea of a retro-futuristic Knight riding a birdlike walker and wielding a massive taser lance a wonderful case of “bringing a knife to a gunfight”, and that is a very apt description. What’s more, in many ways this embodies the very spirit of 40k itself: Fighting the wars of the future with the weapons of the past. All the weapons of the past, to be precise — and at the same time, no less 😉

The Neo-Prussian look is also back in full force here, with the rider actually going to war complete with a trusty Pickelhaube helmet. This leads to a fantastic and ultimately smooth blend of medieval knight, 18th/19th century design sensibilities and all the clockpunk/dieselpunk touches you could ask for in a single model.

The result is a model that is, at the same time, the quintessential retro-fururistic steampunk knight and also basically 40k in a nutshell. A real triumph! And I can easily see this guy making his way into the display cabinets of countless hobbyists, even if they have no intention whatsoever of starting a Skitarii force.

So, is everything perfect about this kit? Well, I do have one small issue, to be honest:

AdMech Skitarii Release (24)

The servitor controlling the machine’s movement just seems a bit too BDSM for my taste. Now don’t get me wrong: It’s a very grimdark element. It’s just that it’s almost too much (and there’s also the fact that, god help me, it really reminds me of a particular invention by South Park’s Mr. Garrison, called the IT bike — google at your own risk, as it’s definitely NSFW. You have been warned!).

But that’s just my personal taste, of course, and what’s more, it’s just one detail. All in all, this kit is nothing short of spectacular! This release really goes from strength to strength!

 

Onager Dunecrawler

AdMech Skitarii Release (30)
And finally, ostrich-like walkers are all well and good, but you certainly cannot have a 40k faction without a beefy tank, can you? 😉 So this is it, the Adeptus Mechanicus’ idea of a tank. And it does have insectile legs, of course — no surprise there.

My first thought when seeing this was actually “Oh look, it’s GW doing a Dust:Tactics tank!” And sure enough, there’s more than a little resemblance between this kit and some of the Dust models. But then, spider legged WWII-esque walkers have certainly been done before, so I guess we can let it slide 😉

Obvious inspirations aside, this was possibly my least favourite part of the release, initially. The juxtaposition of the spindly, elegant legs and the bulky main body just seemed a bit off for my taste.

However, the owner of my FLGS – a huge tank aficionado, both when it comes to historical tanks and crazy, half-organic deathmobiles – pointed out to me that some builds of the model look far better than others. The option with the twin-linked autocannon and rocket launcher above is pretty cool, whereas some of the other setups I have seen look overly busy. In fact, the more I think about it the more obvious it becomes to me that the model looks better with a slightly stripped-down silhouette:

AdMech Skitarii Release (33)
Which it why I would probably leave off those strange manipulators/drills and just use the headlights instead- it seems to me like the less busy builds end up looking far better.

AdMech Skitarii Release (35)So while some of the additional detail, as well as some of the more esoteric weapons, may be beautifully designed, I feel that the model works better with a tidier, more workmanlike look. Interestingly enough, its design makes this tank more futuristic than your regular old IG tank, yet also more retro in a sense, as there is a very palpable WWI /WWII feeling to the whole affair — only with some added spider legs 😉

AdMech Skitarii Release (31)Speaking of which, the spider legs once again form a visual connection with the Imperial Knight kit — and I think the Onager could even be seen as a bit of a missing link between Imperial warmachines and the dreaded Defiler: While the Defiler was designed from the ground up by the Traitor Legions, I like the idea that the Magi of the Dark Mechanicum should have come up with designs not all that different from those of their loyal counterparts 😉

All in all, while the Onager lacks the shock and awe brilliance of the other kits in this release, I have to say that it’s a kit that grows on you over time. And in a game full of boxy, uninspired tanks, something like the Onager is certainly a welcome change of pace!

 

Conversion options:

It shouldn’t surprise you that the first AdMech conversions using the new kits are already cropping up all over the internet — after all, we’ve had to make ends meet for years, with no “official” AdMech plastic parts available. And what a treasure trove of conversion options these new kits provide to the enterprising converter! Let’s take a look:

Vanguard/Rangers:

The INQ28 crowd are already going nuts over this kit, so I think we can look forward to seeing all kinds of Inquisitorial and unsavoury characters seeing the light of day due to this release. I’ve collected a couple of very cool examples for you:

  • Weirdingway is really putting the kit through its paces, creating some wonderful hybrids of Skitarii and other models. His Tech Gang is especially noteworthy, proving that the Skitarii can work wonderfully as Confrontation-style Tech Gangers (seriously, GW, what is it with all the hidden Confrontation conversion bitz lately? Is there some bigger plan at play here?), voidship crews or similar archetypes.
  • EdT, well known for his brilliant warband concepts, is hard at work on another fantastic crew of characters, with some excellent insectile Skitarii on the way that bring the kit more in line with the darker, more inhuman side of the Adeptus Mechanicus.
  • Morbäck of Le blog dé Kouzes has come up with a wonderful way of using Skitarii bitz for converting an excellent Imperial Rogue Trader/Pilot: The way the Vanguard helmets can be made to look like pilot helmets is especially brilliant!
  • And John Blanche himself has been working on some truly excellent and evocative kitbashes using some of the new Skitarii parts — check them out over at the Ammobunker!

All these examples are ample proof that the kit will work great for any kind of AdMech related conversion, even though kitbashing these guys requires a bit of thought, due to the way the body and legs go together. That said, even beyond the Skitarii bodies, the kit also provides some beautiful conversion bitz: Those hooded Ranger heads will make Tech Priest conversion much easier, and the beautiful Vanguard helmets would look great on mechanised IG regiments: Maybe this would be a cool way of giving your Astra Militarum detachment that special AdMech look, supposing you want to use a combination of both factions. Come to think of it, there’s even a noticeable Solar Auxilia resemblance, so these heads may be an interesting way of approximating the Solar Auxilia look without having to purchase the FW models. At the same time, they will also work well for Enforcers or even Arbites for Necromunda or INQ28. It would also be interesting to play up the knightly angle of these guys and go for steampunk cavalry — or whatever else you can think of. And what about combining the Skitarii kit with some Dark Eldar Wrack parts? Wouldn’t that be a perfect start for some really creepy Dark Mechanicum models…? In fact, the whole Dark Mechanicum angle is pretty fascinating, with the Skitarii as a possible jumping-off point for all kinds of demented kitbashes. Even now, I find myself thinking of combining Skitarii with Skaven Stormvermin, Empire Flagellants or what have you. For starters, here are some very cool Dark Mechanicum Skitarii courtesy of InsanePsychopath, who has managed to come up with great models with just a few clever tweaks to the models and their paintjobs

 

Infiltrators/Ruststalkers:

Okay, let’s get the most obvious thing out of the way first: Since these models work so well as lithe, sinister assassin types, they would be great for any Inquisitor’s retinue: It would just take a few tweaks to turn them into Death Cultists with a penchant for body modifications or even a sub-variety of arco-flagellants. They could also be turned into Spyrers with a bit of work, because you can easily see these guys stalking their prey in the underhive, right?

And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg: Consider Drazuul’s “Mecha-Nid”, for instance: Could there be a more chilling example of the (Dark) Mechanicum’s ingenuity than the thought of an enterprising Magos Genetor (or radical Inquisitor) trying to improve upon the biological killing machines constructed by the Hivemind?

In fact, the Infiltrators would also work as basic templates for all kinds of Dark Mechanicum killing machines, such as Bronze Malifects. Likewise, I could easily see those domed helmets from the Sicarian Ruststalkers for all kinds of robot/killdroid/drone conversions! And finally, the unit champ works great as a particularly combative Magos for INQ28, right out of the box.

 

Sydonian Dragoon / Ironstrider Ballistarius:

While it almost seems a bit sacrilegious to use this kit for anything else than its intended use, there are a couple of possible ideas knocking around in the back of my head: My first idea was that this kit would provide a pretty cool base for a – Blood Pact style – stalk tank for Traitor Guard forces. The model’s slightly more organic, creepy vibe when compared with the trusty old Sentinel would certainly make it a viable option for enterprising chaos converters!

Likewise, the legs and main body would probably be great for whenever an even more elaborate, ostentatious walker chassis is needed — for an Ecclesiarchy walker, a walking pulpit or even a kitbashed Penitent Engine.  And the kit provides a great pair of legs for every biomechanic monstrosity you could possibly think of, of course — what about making a Helbrute a bit more impressive by adding those Ironstrider legs, I wonder…?

 

Onager Dunestalker
Once again, the model should make for an excellent basic template when converting traitor (stalk) tanks: At the very least, the spider-legged build provides a visually much more interesting option for chaos players than the same old boxy Imperial tank models. Speaking of which, this kit should also come in handy when planning possible daemon engines. For instance, AMaxmius recently shared idead for a daemon engine with me that I am confident will put these legs to excellent use –check out his first post on the matter here.

Beyond that, suffice it to say that these legs should work wonderfully for your daemon engine needs, if you don’t want to use the Defiler legs, as those haven’t aged all that well by today’s standards…

 

So, when all is said and done, what to make of this release? To be honest, I was blown away by these kits! Just when we thought we’d seen it all, GW gives us the most Blanchian models in over a decade, channeling not only the wealth of AdMech artwork created over the years, but also lots of visual influences, from 50s SciFi to clockpunk, dieselpunk and steampunk. The result is something that seems pretty unique, yet also perfectly at home in the 40k setting. Pieces like the Sydonian Dragoon are just wonderfully evocative, while the Skitarii infantry kits provide us with lots of excellent tech-y conversion fodder. And even the less brilliant parts of the release (yes Onager, I am looking at you) are still fairly strong offerings, if seen on their own.

One thing that is interesting to note is the absence of actual Tech Priests (so far): Does GW intentionally stay out of the actual Cult Mechanicus in order not to step on FW’s toes? Or do the Skitarii serve as a test balloon or a mere prelude, with the Magi of Mars held back for a potential future release? The beauty of it is that it really doesn’t matter that much: Even if we never get a Mechanicus second wave, this release stands on its own as a fantastic design achievement — and it provided converters and kitbashers with all the toys they need for their AdMech needs.

All in all, I will have to call this a stellar release, both for its quality and focus as well as for the very fact that plastic AdMech is really happening at long last! I also have to say that these kits speak to me in a way that the FW Mechanicum designs do not (except for a few noteable exceptions like the Tech Thralls and that one tank looking like an art déco car). So yeah, fantastic work, GW! Respect where respect is due!

 

But what do you think about this release? Are you as happy with the new kits as I am, or do these men of metal leave you completely cold? And would you like to discuss any more conversion ideas? I would be happy to hear from you in the comments section!

As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Tutorial: Grimdark Glamour Shots

Posted in 40k, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , on April 15, 2015 by krautscientist

Today’s post will deal with something slightly different — but don’t fret: We will of course be talking about our favourite hobby, after all. In fact, I have prepared a small tutorial that some of you may find helpful. So what is this about?

When my recent writeup about Lord Captain Lorimar was complete and published, I went back to the photo montage I had made for the model and made a couple of tweaks, resulting in a picture that I like even better than its predecessor:

Master of the Hunt 02
Now when I posted this on my various forum threads, two things happened. One, fellow hobbyist Kythnos asked me for a similar picture for his own Iron Warriors Warsmith and two, several people inquired about my recipe for creating images like this. And I have actually been posting edited images involving my models for quite a while now, although I certainly don’t consider myself an expert when it comes to image editing — in fact, I am still very much finding my feet when it comes to various techniques.

But I did make that photo montage for Kythnos after all. Here’s what it looks like:

Warsmith

And I realised that, while I may not be an expert, I have managed to come up with a relatively reliable recipe for creating this kind of pictures — brilliantly dubbed “glamour shots” by Flint13 in a recent post.

Now I realise that those pictures may be a somewhat divisive feature: When I first posted a couple of them, some of my readers seemed concerned that these would replace “normal” photos of miniatures on this blog. But these pictures aren’t a replacement for good, honest miniature photography, and certainly shouldn’t be treated as such. This is rather about exploring your models (and the characters they represent) from a different angle, about imagining how they would actually look on the battlefields of the 41st millennium. It’s about creating the dramatic, often hilariously overwrought, scenes we all know and love from the background. And, by extension, it can also become an additional way to start thinking about your models as characters rather than mere playing pieces, and I’ve always been a huge advocate of that!

Anyway, to make a long story short, what follows is a small tutorial about creating suitably dramatic and garish “glamour shots” for your models. I’ll give you the short version (for now), although we may actually revisit parts of this in more detail at some point.

Anyway, before we start, a disclaimer of sorts:

  • This doesn’t represent THE foolproof way of creating images like this, but just one way that has worked reasonably well for me. I am 100% sure that there are far more elegant and/or accomplished ways for going about this, and people who are more knowledgeable about Photoshop will probably laugh about my fumbling efforts — fair enough, I say. I am absolutely not claiming to be a professional here, and this is therefore a very “quick and dirty” approach.
  • I am also definitely not the first person to do a tutorial on this, but have rather been very lucky to find some excellent tutorials by other people to get me started: A brief but excellent writeup by Tyler Mengel showed me the ropes, and fellow German hobbyist Talarion introduced my to Pixlr, making my life much easier in the process. So thanks must go to them as well!
  • When it comes to procuring suitable backdrops for your photos, there’s a big temptation to just steal everything you need from the internet — and to be honest, I have occasionally been guilty of the same crime. However, I try to go for pictures that are (or at least that I consider) fair game, i.e. stuff that is freely available and in the public domain. I will occasionally use material from GW or FW themselves, admittedly, but as I have no plan of using any of this commercially, I hope this constitutes fair use (bottom line, please don’t sue me, GW!). But please don’t just go stealing other people’s work left and right, alright?
  • Finally, I will be using Adobe Photoshop for the first part of this tutorial. Similar software is freely available (GIMP would be one example, and there is also the web-based version of Pixlr). Most major functions are fairly similar across various programs, and I am not going into the differences and kinks of the software here. Neither will I be focusing on the details: Using this tutorial will require some (very) basic knowledge of image editing.

With that out of the way, here goes:

 

What you will need:

  • a photo of your model(s) in suitable quality, taken against a neutral background (preferrably white, grey or beige). The photo needs to be sharp, in focus and bright enough. There are some excellent tutorials about how to take good pictures of your models here and here, for starters.
  • some kind of image editing software, i.e. Adobe Photoshop, GIMP or Pixlr or whatever else works for you.
  • I will be using the desktop version of Autodesk’s Pixlr for the second half of this tutorial, in order to add effects and certain colour hues. This isn’t a necessary step, but Pixlr will make things much easier here, especially if you have little knowledge about Photoshop, and the software is free, so I recommend you download it.

And with that, we’re off:

 

First up, I am going to use a picture of Biohazard’s Lord Malek Deimos — both because Biohazard probably won’t mind, and because I like the idea that he’ll end up with a cool picture of his Chaos Lord, because he’s my buddy 😉

So here’s the picture I chose:

model built and painted by Biohazard

model built and painted by Biohazard

 

The picture is a bit more grainy than it should be, but it’ll do. It’s against a white background, which is great, because it will make cutting out the model far easier. If you want, you can play around with brightness, contrast and the levels a bit at this stage, in order to make the photo a bit more crisp and rich in contrast.

The first thing you want to do is to duplicate the layer on which your image is, so that you have the background layer (the original image) and another layer above it (also your original image, but that will change shortly). Select this new layer.

Now Photoshop (or any software functioning roughly like Photoshop) has a selection tool usually called the “magic wand”. What this does is to select a particular colour present in the image — which is why you want the background to be in a neutral colour. So select the magic wand tool and click on a part of the white background. It’ll create a selection. If you press Shift while selecting additional white areas, they will be added to your selection. The selection will be marked by a blinking border:

Deimos_Tutorial02

Don’t forget any white areas! There is also a way of having Photoshop auto-select every bit of white on the canvas, but that would mean all the white that’s part of the actual model as well, and we don’t want that. So make sure to select all the bits of white background, until it looks like the picture above. Then invert your selection (this function can normally has its own tab, or it can be found under “Edit”. Once you have done this, the border will be running around your model rather than around the entire canvas.

[I do realise of course that other kinds of selection tools exist, and if you’re familiar with them — great! However, for the sake of brevity, we’ll be sticking to the magic wand here 😉 ]

If you want the photo montage to look convincing, we’ll have to get rid of the last remnants of white background, reflections etc. So reduce your selection by one or two pixels. If you want to make it look even more believable, you can also add a slightly blurry edge to the selection (so the model won’t look quite as much like a cutout). Once you’re happy, copy the selection and add it into a new layer. At this point, you should have the original image in the background, the layer above (with the original photo’s background, but minus the actual model) and a third layer with the model as a cutout on top. Delete the middle layer, as we won’t be needing it any longer. And you should set the bottom (background) layer to invisible, so the canvas looks like this:

Deimos_Tutorial03
The little checkerboard pattern in the background shows that this area is transparent. To make things easier for you, you can fill the background layer with a solid colour (or create a new layer for that), because it will make the model’s edges easier to see. Like so:

Deimos_Tutorial04

Not bad, eh? But some remnants of the orignal background and some reflections remain. In the above picture, it’s very obvious on the arm holding the sword.

Now if you’re just in for the quick and dirty version, you can simply ignore this, but your model will probably end up looking like it has a halo in the finished picture. So in order to get rid of this, you select the eraser tool and choose a paintbrush with slightly blurry edges…

Deimos_Tutorial05

…then set it to a size you are comfortable with and carefully work away at those edges that look like they are glowing. Be careful not to take away too much and rather work in multiple increments! If you make a mistake, you can always undo your last couple of steps!

In the end, you will have a cleaned up version of your model:

Deimos_Tutorial06

It’s a subtle difference, to be fair, but it’ll be worth it in the end — trust me 😉

Next step: the background. Find a suitable background image you would like to use (I chose a promo image for the Armageddon PC game, showing a hive that seems to have been mashed together using Google Images results for “gothic architecture” 😉 Copy it into your picture so it will end up in a separate layer:

Deimos_Tutorial07
You will probably have to move the model around a bit at this stage, in order to make it fit the background. I also added in an extra step here and blended in some additional ground texture (I used a suitable photo I had taken, copied it into my canvas and just erased all the areas I didn’t need). Here’s the finished composite:

Deimos_Tutorial08

I also cleaned away the parts of the base that didn’t work — especially the black rim.

Okay, time for some colour correction: You can now bring up a menu to control the pictures colour hue and saturation with CTRL-U (for Photoshop at least). Try to make the model’s hue and saturation roughly fit the background (this is especially important if you have a very brightly lit model against a very drab background image):

Deimos_Tutorial09
In this case, I wanted the model to look a bit more desaturated. Just play around with this — if you don’t like the outcome, you can always undo your actions.

The next thing that’s important is to use blur: In the above picture, the hive in the back is very sharp and crisp, while the model seems a bit fuzzy. So we need to blur the background. Select your background layer and select the “Blur” function (under “Filter”, normally). There’s a very handy tool called the “Gaussian Blur” that will let you select how strong you want the blurring to be:

Deimos_Tutorial10

Once you’re happy with the background, give the layer with the model the same treatment — although with much less blur applied. This should only make the entire picture seem a bit more realistic. Make sure not to obscure any important detail on the model during this step!

Once this is done, all that remains is to make some final adjustments to the picture’s contrast and levels:

Deimos_Tutorial11
As an optional step, I wanted Deimos to have a glowing daemonsword in the finished picture. I won’t go into too much detail about the effect for now. Suffice it to say that I basically duplicated the model’s sword, copied it into a new layer and changed the colour. Like this:

Deimos_Tutorial12

And since I wanted the glow to be pretty noticeable, the colour needed to be even louder:

Deimos_Tutorial13
Since the blade existed on its own layer, I could safely play around with it without it affecting the rest of the image. When I was happy with the colour, I once again added the Gaussian Blur effect, and…

Deimos_Tutorial14
It ended up looking pretty cool. Now I duplicated this layer several times, changed the transpareny around and blended the various layers into each other until it looked like this:

Deimos_Tutorial15
Like I said, I might detail those steps further in the future. But since it’s an entirely nonessential step, let’s move on for now: One last adjustment of contrast and levels, and we are basically done with Photoshop. Here’s the end result:

Deimos_Tutorial16

Not bad, not bad at all! We could even call it finished at this point!

In any case, whatever you do, you should definitely save a copy of this picture, once you like the result. And you should always keep a separate copy of this version for future use:

Deimos

Now while it would be possible to do everything else in Photoshop as well, you can make your life a bit easier by switching to Pixlr for the next steps. Pixlr is a bit of a one-trick pony in that it has been designed to add various effects and colour hues to photos — and precious little else. While this would also be possible in Photoshop, Pixlr makes it really easy for you because it does most of the thinking for you.

So let’s open up our picture in Pixlr.

And from here on out, the world’s your oyster, really: You can add any combination of pre-set colour effects. Like this:

Deimos_Tutorial17
As you can see, I’ve gone for a fiery, reddish hue in this case. But most of the colour effects look awesome in their own way, so just play around with them until you’re happy. This is what my picture looked like after this step:

Deimos_Tutorial18
What’s really great, though, is that Pixlr also lets you add some effects, filters and borders. Some of them are downright horrible, some are pretty situational, but some – especially the various grungy borders – will make some of your earlier errors and inaccuracies in the picture disappear:

Deimos_Tutorial19

So layer some of these on top, and your picture will instantly look grittier and more realistic. Of course this is cheating: We are covering up our mistakes here. But as long as it looks cool… 😉

So here’s the finished picture, with one of my favourite borders added to top things off:

Deimos01
What’s really cool is that the picture could have looked completely different with a couple of different effect employed. Here I created a much more somber atmoshphere by using a different colour effect and a rain filter:

Deimos02

It goes without saying that you don’t even have to photoshop in a suitable background in the first place! If you have some 40k/tabletop terrain at home, you can just take photos of your models in front of it and work from there — if anything, this should make your life easier!

By the same token, making a photo montage of a single model against a background is really just the beginning. There’s nothing stopping you from trying something a little more involved, such as, say, making a composite image of your army ravaging a planet:

Here’s a Photoshop composite I made depicting a part of my World Eaters army in action:

we_montage02
Here I duplicated various layers of the image, making the same ten Khorne berzerkers look like an entire army. As you can see, I also added in a Helbrute and my Wargrinder. Oh, and I used the same background images that appear in Tyler Mengel’s post linked above (This picture was simply my attempt at reproducing his recipe for my own models). Even so, the image is hardly convincing, right? Not enough gritty realism and too many gooey areas of sub-par photoshopping…

Well, here’s what the whole picture looked like with a bit of Pixlr magic sprinkled on top:

The Red Tide
Once again, the various filters and effects are doing a great job of camouflaging the many rough spots present in the earlier image. Like I said, it’s cheating — but we can use it in our favour here 😉

On the other hand, you don’t even need to create elaborate montages like that, either: Just use some of your existing photos and go play around with them a bit for starters! Some of my first experiments in this vein can be found here.

Whatever you do, remember that you are not trying to pass of your models as something they are not — you are just exploring another facet of the hobby. So give it your all and don’t forget to have fun along the way!

Thanks to Biohazard for – unwittingly – providing the material for this: Cheers, buddy! 😉 And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

The Master of the Hunt

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2015 by krautscientist

“Your Emperor is no god. He is a lost soul, forever trapped within an oubliette of his own decaying flesh. If there is any justice in this world or the next, he must be howling for release somewhere in there. When one of us comes for his shriveled skull, on that last day, it will be a mercy.”

Lord Captain Lorimar of the World Eaters’ 4th assault company

 

Welcome to this week’s update and to the conclusion of what we may certainly call a long-time project. To make a long story short, today’s post will deal with the finished model for Lord Captain Lorimar, the supreme commander of my World Eaters force, Khorne’s Eternal Hunt. I have literaly spent years on perfecting a model for this character, and I am really happy to finally be able to present the finished piece to you! But all in good order…

I have written – at length – about how hard it was to create a model that was a fitting representation for Lorimar, but in the end, I came up with a suitable conversion. This one:

Lord Captain Lorimar WIP (2)
Lord Captain Lorimar WIP (3)
I am not going to regurgitate the whole story of the model’s inception here (just check out the post linked above to learn the whole story), so suffice it to say that the model was mainly the consequence of three main pieces of inspiration:

image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

This first piece shouldn’t surprise you: After all, the finished model on its base clearly resembles the art. This particular illustration came from Fantasy Flight Games’ Dark Heresy, and pretty much perfectly embodies what a Chaos Lord should look like, if you ask me.

At the same time, I also wanted Lorimar to look somewhat more noble and composed than the guy above. The inspiration for that aspect of his character came from this piece of art:

Chaos_Lord_Terminator_Armour
Still very much a Chaos Lord, but one who is somewhat more regal and brooding, a look I really tried to achieve on my own model as well.

And finally, there was also an inspiration in actual model form: Wade Pryce’s absolutely gorgeous Lord Lucid Furien Kain:

Model built and painted by Wade Pryce

Model built and painted by Wade Pryce

Wade’s World Eaters army may just be the best World Eaters army in existence, and his Chaos Lord is possibly the greatest piece of all — what better role model to emulate, I ask you?

So my own model for Lord Captain Lorimar clearly tried to incorporate elements from all three sources and combine them into something I was tremendously happy with — however, the next complicated part was to actually work up the courage to paint the model!

All in all, it took me no less than three years, and it was a hobby event over at The Bolter and Chainsword that finally provided the incentive I needed: Fellow hobbyist and all around great guy Augustus b’Raass kicked off his very own event – Augustus’ Arena – and my Brother-Slaughterer Biohazard and I took this occasion to challenge each other to finally complete our respective Chaos Lords.

A short while later, Biohazard had already completed his gorgeous model for Lork Malek Deimos, master of the World Eaters’ 18th company:

model built and painted by Biohazard

model built and painted by Biohazard

Brilliant, don’t you think? There’s a reason Biohazard’s army is yet another one of my favourite World Eaters forces, after all (make sure to check out his army at your earliest possible convenience! Seriously!) 😉 But this also meant there was no weaseling out of this challenge: I was bound by honour to finally paint Lorimar, come what may.

So I cleaned the model and prepared it for undercoating — and, as it happens, I also made a fairly substantial last minute change, because I found out that the model looked even more imposing with a different cape: the massive wolf pelt that comes with the Space Wolves Terminators:

Lord Captain Lorimar WIP (4)
Lord Captain Lorimar WIP (5)
Lord Captain Lorimar WIP (6)
I had really only tried the cape for the heck of it, but I really liked the outcome! So I removed the ill-fitting wolf head, made a few small changes to the cape to make sure it fit the model’s body and also found out by sheer coincidence that the whole piece worked much better when turned around by 180 degrees on its base. So here was the finished model, right before undercoating:

Lord Captain Lorimar WIP (11)
Lord Captain Lorimar WIP (10)
Lord Captain Lorimar WIP (12)
Lord Captain Lorimar WIP (13)
Oh, and don’t worry: The original cape will still be used on the eventual, inevitable mounted version of Lorimar — scout’s honour! 😉

By this time, the deadline I had set for myself was already fast approaching, so I broke out the paints and gave it my all. And after a couple of days, the model I hadn’t dared to paint for three years finally stood before me in full colour. So without further ado, I give you Lord Captain Baltus Lorimar, commander of the World Eaters’ 4th assault company and Master of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt:

Lord Captain Lorimar (9)

Lord Captain Lorimar (1)
Lord Captain Lorimar (2)
Lord Captain Lorimar (3)
Lord Captain Lorimar (4)
Lord Captain Lorimar (5)
Lord Captain Lorimar (6)
Lord Captain Lorimar (7)
It feels strange to finally have finished Lorimar: On the one hand, I could probably name a thousand things that I could have done better. But on the other hand, I am extremely happy with the model — and really proud of finally having finished this particular project. I also think that Lorimar is a very worthy commander for Khorne’s Eternal Hunt, and a definite centre piece for my army. He remains intimidating, even when placed into the midst of his personal retinue, Lorimar’s Fist:

Lord Captain Lorimar and retinue (2)

I think I have mentioned before how I wanted each of these models to be unique, and I think I have suceeded with that, wouldn’t you agree?

A very heartfelt thank you to Biohazard, without whom Lorimar would probably have remained unpainted for another couple of years. In fact, seeing how this project has basically been a collaboration between the two of us, I even whipped up a small image to commemorate the occasion:

Brothers02

But wait, there’s more! Because with today’s update, you actually get two models for the price of one, so to speak!

In addition to my 40k version of Lorimar, I have also been sitting on a 30k version of the same character for a good long while: Some of you may remember when I picked up some models from my fellow German hobbyist AgnostosTheos a while ago. The two of us had been engaging in a little project where AT was going to build 30k versions for some of my World Eaters. But then he sold off his army, unfortunately, and left me with no other choice than to pick up some of the pieces. Among those pieces was a converted Terminator model that I thought would be a rather nice fit for a 30k version of Lorimar:

Model built and painted by AgnostosTheos

Model built and painted by AgnostosTheos

As you can see, the model was already basically finished, save for the hands and weapons — so it was really easy to choose fitting weapons to make the character resemble his 40k incarnation. I also built a base for the model (and, again, made it subtly similiar to the 40k version). And here’s the result: Captain Baltus Lorimar circa M32:

Captain Lorimar M32 (2)
Captain Lorimar M32 (1)
Captain Lorimar M32 (7)
Captain Lorimar M32 (5)
Captain Lorimar M32 (4)
Captain Lorimar M32 (3)
Again, just to be perfectly clear: I can merely claim responsibility for the hands, weapons and base. The rest of the model was beautifully painted by AgnostosTheos! Oh, and I did add a chain decal to Lorimar’s right vambrace:

Captain Lorimar M32 (9)
This is a sign of him having won his captaincy in the fighting pits by slaying his commanding officer — a rather important part of his backstory!

I am also rather happy with the arid ground on the model’s base, created by a generous helping of Agrellan Earth:

Captain Lorimar M32 (10)
And here’s a comparison shot with both the Pre- and Post Heresy versions of the character:

Lorimar then and now
I am really happy with those two guys, to be honest 😉

And finally, after having met so many of Lorimar’s subordinates and after having seen the man himself, all that remains is to take a closer look at his personal background:

Master of the Hunt
Lord Captain Baltus Lorimar, commander of the World Eaters’ 4th assault company and Master of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt:

Baltus Lorimar has been the 4th assault company’s commander ever since the days of the Great Crusade. A divisive figure among the officers of his sundered legion due to his actions at the battle of Skalathrax, Lorimar has nevertheless managed to stay in command of one of the biggest World Eaters warbands, and one of the few still managing to maintain some kind of discipline and order.

Born on the blasted plains of Europa in the aftermath of the Unification Wars, Lorimar was indentured into the growing Legiones Astartes as part of the tithe the Terran clans had to pay to the Emperor who had defeated them. He became a legionary of the XII Legion, quickly rising to the position of a line officer during the Great Crusade. When the legion was reunited with its Primarch, Lorimar had been stripped of his command and incarcerated by Valna, Captain of the War Hounds’ 4th assault company, because he had refused an Imperial noble’s order to execute a squad of abhuman auxiliarii after a battle. Once the Primarch came across Lorimar during his inspection of the legion flagship, he freed him and offered him another chance to prove himself. This act made Lorimar fiercely loyal to Angron, and he would continue to follow the Primarch unquestioningly, even as his fellow legionaries grew more and more wary of the Red Angel. Lorimar later won his captaincy in the fighting pits, killing his former captain Valna and taking command of the 4th.

During the latter days of the Great Crusade, the 4th fought in the Eastern Fringe at the side of the Word Bearer’s Piercing Gaze Chapter. Lest the 4th evade the corrupting influence of the ruinous powers, First Chaplain Erebus of the XVIIth tasked the Chaplain of the Piercing Gaze Chapter, Belzas Azalon, with introducing warrior lodges and the covert worship of the Primordial Truth to the 4th assault company. Azalon brought Lorimar into contact with the Cult of Cron, a warrior cult the young captain eagerly adopted in order to provide his company with an identity and a code of martial honour.

Once the 4th was reunited with the rest of the legion, Lorimar was very pleased to see that a similar warrior culture had begun to form all across the legion, with the legionaries accepting their Primarch’s gladiatorial origins and cobbling together a mongrel culture from it.

Captain Lorimar at Istvaan

Captain Lorimar at Istvaan

The Heresy itself went by in a red haze, with Lorimar, like many of his battle brothers, growing more and more into a frenzied madman. He and his company were on their way to madness and damnation until the Skalathrax campaign. During the Long Night of Skalathrax, Lorimar suddenly came to and realised, in a terrible moment of lucidity, that the actions of 8th Captain Khârn were about to shatter the legion and wipe out the company he had sacrificed everything for.

In a move nearly unprecedented for a World Eaters officer, Lorimar and the remains of his company withdrew from Skalathrax before the battle was over. While Lorimar’s actions saved a substantial part of the company and made sure it would continue to function as a fairly coherent fighting force, they also earned him the disdain, if not enmity, of many of his fellow officers, who still refer to him as “Lorimar the Craven”.

Ever since, the 4th has been just as threatened by the corrupting influence of chaos and the madness of the Butcher’s Nails as every other World Eaters warband. To combat the effects of this decline and in order to keep the madness at bay, Lorimar used the ancient warrior codes of his company to formulate an ethos strictly based on honour and martial pride: His company embarked upon an Eternal Hunt, endeavouring to kill the strongest warriors and run down the worthiest prey.

Even though the 4th has remained a fairly large and coherent force, the legionaries always have to fight against the encroaching madness, with infighting and rampant frenzy all too common within the company. So far, Lorimar has managed to quell these uprisings with an iron fist.

When not on the battlefield, the Lord Captain is given to bouts of dark brooding, filled with resentment at the ruination of his legion, with disgust at the depths to which many of his former brothers have sunk, and with burning hatred at Khârn, whom he considers the destroyer of the XII Legion.

 

Let me know what you think! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!