Monday, June 24, 2013

Fifth Chaos Spawn Completed Saturday!

I got the fifth and final Chaos Spawn for my Death Guard (and Night Lords) Chaos Space Marine army completed this past Saturday!

This guy is a bit special, in that he was hand-sculpted for me by my good friend, Josh Howery.  Spawn come two to a box, and at $41.50 or thereabouts per box, they're pretty expensive for being perceived as being a not-so-great unit.  However, I got my 2 boxes of Spawn at the January Mercenary Market at Empire Games in Mesa, AZ, for a total of $40, so I got 4 of my Spawn at half price.  Those were the guys I showed you in the previous post.  However, my usual CSM army list calls for running 5 Spawn along with my Nurgle Biker Lord (who is armed with The Black Mace and the Burning Brand of Skalathrax). 

(On a tactical note, a whole unit of T6 is pretty hard to bring down, and being beasts and a bike they all move 12" in the movement phase.  Only real problem is that the bike can't "run", so the Spawn are kinda stuck for the the first turn getting as far as they can with just their 12" movement, and hopefully I've deployed well and that gets them into cover.  In the meantime, they make great candidates for "Look Out, Sir!" rolls; as many Spawn as I can keep in base contact with the Biker Lord get to take a Look Out, Sir! from any fire that hits the Lord, and since they're all equally the same distance away from the Lord (that is, in base contact with him), and it's a shooting attack, I can spread the wounds around.  If they're in cover, then they get a cover save, but being T6 and with 3 Wounds apiece, they can usually soak up a lot of firepower on their way to delivering the Lord where I want him to go.  And if I'm lucky, there's something that's within the Burning Brand's Torrent range to lay down some templatey goodness from the Lord in the shooting phase, so that that isn't a total loss, but this isn't the primary goal of Turn 1.  Then, in a subsequent turn, possibly Turn 2, I can choose to shoot the Lord off from the Spawn in the movement phase, and then the Spawn can run if they need to, whilst the Lord turbo-boosts off in the direction he wants to be in.  Many times, however, I'm able to keep what remains of the Spawn with the Lord, as they can be awesome in combat, and can still provide some Look Out, Sir! protection, although on a remove-one-whole-model-at-a-time basis now that they're in close combat.  But, as usual, I digress...)

Point being, I needed a 5th Spawn, and I didn't feel like spending $41.50 + tax to buy 2 when I only needed one.  Enter Josh and his talent working with 3 dimensional media.  Somehow it came about that I supplied a pair of Terminator legs on a round 40mm base, and gave Josh access to two boxes of Chaos Spawn bitz, and gave him carte blanche to come up with whatever he wanted to come up with.  Josh then provided the two-part Apoxy Sculpt and paper clips for the Spawn's body frame, musculature and final details, using nothing but his imagination, sculpting skill and a sculpting tool (and two Saturday's time).

Josh knew that these were going to be Nurgle Spawn, so he made this one particularly Nurgly with lots of distended, intertwined guts falling out, front and back.

But the bit that sealed this 5th Spawn's fate was the Grey Knight Terminator's force sword arm, which I think came out of Josh's bitz box (can't remember, as I have a GK army a lots of GK bitz, but I don't recognize that arm, and the little itch at the back of my brain is trying to tell me that Josh supplied it).

Regardless of where the bit came from, it galvanized this guy's fluff as being a hapless Grey Knight Terminator that ended up on the wrong end of a fight with some of Father Nurgle's denizens, and was subsequently turned into a Nurgle Chaos Spawn to serve at the whim of the Dark Gods.

And now, my merry band of Nurgle Chaos Spawn is complete!

And, as you can see, I'm still having problems with getting decent picture quality and the right degree of sunlight for taking pictures.  To give you an example, here's a picture that I took yesterday just before sunset, hoping to get this post published then, but as you can see, I really didn't have the light I needed to get the point across and provide the same impact as I did with the photos you see above:

Yeah, you can't really tell what he is in the picture above, except that he's probably a Spawn.  Better you should have the shadow of my finger in the picture, like the previous group shot, than the lack of detail from the lack of light in pictures like the one just above.

Here's another group shot, at a slightly different angle and with somewhat less shadow in the picture:

Oh well, please bear with me as I do my best to provide you with some form of photographic record of my Works in Progress (WIP) and completed works as I make my way through my task list for what I still need to get assembled, converted and painted up in time for August Valhalla this year.

I am so glad that I got that last Spawn finished this past Saturday!  Now I can leave for my family vacation on Wednesday, and not be in the middle of some project or other and be thinking about that, wondering if I'll forget a step or an idea that I had while painting the test model.  No, I can just relax and enjoy the time off from work and, actually, the time off from painting and building.  I've been on a dead run since late March, with only a week off from painting here and there where I had to go out of town for work, and this 8 day vacation will give me a chance to relax and recharge my batteries. 

That doesn't mean I won't be posting entries here on this blog, however!  Yes, I will be bringing my laptop with me, as I'm sure there will be moments when I'm waiting for my womenfolk to finish getting ready for the day/night so we can head out/go to sleep, and there's a whole slew of WIP pictures from when I painted the Heldrakes that I want to put up in a Step-By-Step post for how I painted them.  Until then, I hope you enjoy these Spawn as much as I enjoyed building and painting them.

Next up when I return from vacation:  Tackling 12 Night Lord Havocs, the last of my CSM forces that I need to get painted for Valhalla! 

That breaks down into 4 Havocs with somewhat "untraditional" Autocannon, 3 Havocs with the traditional Chaos Havoc Autocannon, 3 Havocs with Missile Launchers, and 2 Havoc Aspiring Champions that all need to be painted.  With these models painted, and a few extras from my supply of previously-painted Night Lords, I'll be able to field three squads of Havocs: two squads with 4 Autocannon each (I already have an Autocannon Havoc painted up), and one squad with any combination of 3 Missile Launchers and/or 3 Lascannon (previously painted as well) that I feel like running.  I'm going to use one of my better Night Lords Aspiring Champions for the 3rd Havoc AC, if necessary, and can fill in the squads to be up to 10 men each with Night Lords with bolt guns, depending on the size and configuration of the games I'll be playing (especially games at 2,000 points and higher).

But for now, enjoy the Nurgly goodness of Spawn #5, and please don't hesitate to leave a comment below!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Four Chaos Spawn Built & Painted in 3 Days!

Well, maybe a little more than three days.  LOL.  You see, I built the bodies with the left and right arms and heads sometime in January or February so that I could try them out in my Chaos Space Marine lists.  I run 5 Spawn with the Mark of Nurgle in a pack with a Nurgle Biker Lord, and this unit shoots out to 1) draw a lot of fire, and 2) try to get stuck in with something that needs to either be taken out, or stop shooting.

Once I finished painting my 2 Heldrakes, the only things left in my CSM army that needed to be painted were (are) my 12 Havocs (7 Autocannon, 3 Missile Launchers and 2 Aspiring Champions), and the 5 Spawn.  The four Spawn you see in the photos in this post came from two box sets.  The fifth Spawn was custom built for me by a friend of mine, Josh Howery, who got his degree in video game design, specializing in 3D modeling; so that fifth Spawn is special, and will get a post of his own once I finish painting him up, which will hopefully be tomorrow.

But back the these four fine fellows.  With just the bodies, legs, main arms and heads, they needed some extra attention in the form of the many and varied wonderful bits that come in the (way too expensive) Chaos Spawn box.  So last Friday I was able to sit down and finish getting these four built (#5 is already complete, just needs to be painted), and got all five of my Spawn primed white; and that's all that I did with the Spawn last Friday, and then didn't get any work done on anything last Saturday, as that we spent the day and evening celebrating my wife's birthday.  So, I started in working on painting these four Spawn this past Tuesday evening, and got them finished, based, varnished and flocked by the end of Wednesday evening.  So, given that it really didn't take much to build the bodies, arms and heads a few months back, I'm calling the whole process "three days" to get these four gribbly guys done.

In fact, the total time spent from final assembly to completely finished was just 11 hours over those three days.  That was much faster than I'd anticipated, but on the other hand, being "just" Spawn, they didn't require the same attention to details that something like a Plague Marine or even a Plagubearer would require.  Once again, washes came to my rescue, as I used very little paint after I primed them white, and relied on the flexibility and awesome way in which certain washes lend themselves to a Nurgly look to crank these guys out fast and (finally) get them checked off my master list.

That's not to say that there isn't some attention to detail, as you'll see on several of these guys, but on the whole, combinations of a few different colors of washes and a little paint to tie some sections together, plus a lot of love given to the various eyes on all of the models, worked out better than I'd expected.  Most of the eyes are Flash Gitz Yellow (several coats) with a Kantor Blue pupil slit, 'Ard Coat varnish after the matte varnishing of the entire model, and then a touch of Casandora Yellow shade (wash).  I used this technique on most of these Spawn, except for "Bug Boy", who got some special treatment.  I did his eyes by mixing two "drops" of the modern equivalent of Mithril Silver (don't recall what it's called off the top of my head) with three "drops" of Kantor Blue, thinned with about four or five "drops" of water, and mixed thoroughly.  I applied several coats of this mixture to Bug Boys bulbous eyes, and used a fair amount of 'Ard Coat gloss varnish over them after I'd matte varnished all of these models.

Getting these guys done this fast is a great thing, actually, because it allowed me to gain a little ground on my schedule, which I promptly lost by having to have one of my rear molars extracted Thursday morning, a process that became too much for my dentist to handle, and so after trotting across the hall to the oral surgeon's office, I was left with a whole lot more hurt in my mouth than I'd expected when I got up Thursday morning.  In fact, it's Friday night now, and I've been pretty much out of commission since I got home from the oral surgeon's office Thursday morning, which means I've lost two evenings that could've been spent finishing up the fifth Spawn and getting started on the Night Lords Havocs. 

Ah, well, hopefully tomorrow will be a better day, and armed with the appropriate legal medications and a kitchen pass from the missus, I should be able to get an early start on Saturday and get Spawn #5 finished and a Havoc test model completed without too much discomfort or difficulty. 

And that's pretty much all I'll be able to accomplish until I get back from vacation on the Fourth of July.  We leave next Wednesday, but I'm not likely to get any hobby work done Monday or Tuesday evenings; Monday is a possibility, but Tuesday is definitely out, as I'll need to pack and get ready for the early Wednesday morning flight.  Then we're gone until we fly home July 3rd.  Fortunately that will be the last big chunk of time taken away from my ability to get any painting done, at least that I know of, and I'm still on track to get everything I want to finished up in time to leave for Valhalla on August 25th.

That's a lot more than I'd originally intended to write on this post; mostly, I just wanted to get some pictures of the Spawn up for you all to look at.  At the suggestion of another friend, I tried using my iPad's camera to take the pictures that you see on this post.  Problem is, while I was trying to time the setting sun so that I would get good natural light without too much glare or shadows, I waited just a little to long for the ibuprofen to kick in, and with it being the first time using the iPad's camera, and being in a bit of a hurry to get front and back pictures of each guy while I still had what I hoped would be sufficient daylight, some of the pictures came out a bit fuzzy.  But, these pics should be good enough to give you an idea of how these guys turned out.  As always, please feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think of these 4 Chaos Spawn!

This guy's "The Lookout".

"Bug Boy"

This picture came out particularly fuzzy; sorry about that.  :-(

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and please do leave a comment.  All feedback is welcome, and whether you like how these guys came out or think they're terrible, I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Top Tip: When Priming Models Black...

Hey, folks.

I wanted to pass along a tip that a friend of mine, Dan Brugman, gave me about priming models black before painting them.  (Dan is currently an art major in college and, I think, an excellent painter.)  His suggestion is that after you have primed the model black, take white primer and from about an arm's length away, lightly "dust" the black primed model with a very small amount of white primer on all sides.  This provides some "depth" that is otherwise lost on the monochromatic black primed model, and can make painting the primed model a bit easier, as some details that might otherwise get lost can now stand out, and the deeper recesses "stand out" as well.

The trick is to give the black primed models a very light dusting of the white primer.  The first picture below was my first attempt, and you can see that I overdid it a bit on a few facings of some of the Havocs (at least I think so).  The second picture was my second attempt, and I was a little further away with the can of white primer, a little lighter on the "trigger" of the primer can, and just tried not to over-do it.  Making a sweeping left-to-right (or vice versa) motion as you're dusting the black primed models with white also helps a great deal.

Here are a couple of pictures of some models that I primed using this technique.  I like the results, and look forward to getting to painting up these Havocs!

Let me know what you think!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Second Heldrake Completed Last Thursday!

I did it!  Fortunately, I was able to get in the hours needed in last Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and I got the second Heldrake's wings completed and assembled onto the body.  Now both Heldrakes are finished, with the notable exception that I need to do some edge highlighting on both of them.  I've decided that that will be a stretch goal, something I do if I finish everything else I want to in order to have 2,000 points of Chaos Space Marines and 2,000 points of Nurgle Daemons ready to take to Valhalla by Saturday, August 24th.  If not, then I will do the edge highlighting after I get back from Valhall -- or, perhaps do it AT Valhalla, as a break between games, eating and hitting the hot tub.  There should be painting space set up like there was during the May Valhalla, and as I'll be driving up there I'll have all my painting supplies with me, so if I can't get the edge highlighting done before Valhalla and the mood strikes me (and I'm not TOO sick of painting from getting ready to go up there) I might sit down and bang it out in a session or two while I'm up there.

By way of a re-cap, it took a total of 57 hours of work spread out over 12 non-consecutive days to get both Heldrakes primed, painted and finished assembly.  I had the bodies and wings assembled before this time frame, so this is just the time it took to paint.

The last batch of pictures that I took of the first Heldrake didn't come out too great on account of the "head lamp" light that I've been using to improve the pictures I'm taking with my iPhone 3GS.  As one commenter on Wargamer AZ noted, "the lighting issue is kicking [my] ass", and he's right.  So this time, for the final set of pictures of the second completed Heldrake, I didn't use the head lamp and just relied on the lighting at Empire Games above a gaming table.  Hopefully these will be a bit more appealing than the pics of the finished first Heldrake.  A friend of mine at Empire, who does professional photography on the side, has volunteered to take a complete set of both of my armies once they're completed using his lights and a light box.  I'm definitely going to take him up on that offer!  I'm going to ask if, for the sake of spreading things out a bit, he'll do the CSM army once it's completed, then do whatever of the Nurgle Daemons I get done before I have to leave for Utah.  Hopefully he'll consent to doing two shorter sessions, one for each army, instead of one longer one with both armies.  I'll ask him next time I see him...

...Which wasn't tonight, as I ran afoul of the missus and ended up not making it in to Empire to continue working on the 5 Chaos Spawn that I finished building and got primed last Friday evening, even though she and the young'un ended up going out to a movie.  She's a bit chuffed at all the time I've been spending at Empire, and there was some friction over the weekend, so I decided to lay low tonight and hope things cool down so I can get there tomorrow (Tuesday) evening and get started painting the Spawn.  Not to be airing dirty laundry, but it's been a calculated risk spending as much time as I have working on my CSMs and Daemons every week, and it came to a head tonight.  Problem is, I'll be leaving for 8 days of vacation next Wednesday, which means I won't be doing any work on my armies next Tuesday as we'll be getting ready and packing for the trip.  So, hopefully she's cooled down a bit and I can get enough time in between now and next Tuesday to get the Spawn finished up, as I really don't want to be in the middle of one project when we leave for the vacation; I'd rather have one project completely finished, and not be thinking about it while I'm trying to enjoy the extended family time.

But, that's all part of managing my time around work, family and the hobby.  My daughter is behind me all the way, so hopefully she'll put in a good word for me with the wife. 

In the meantime, here are the rest of the pictures of the completed second Heldrake.  Unfortunately, the two pics of the rear of this Heldrake are a bit out of focus, but hopefully you'll get the idea.  Please leave a comment and let me know what  you think of this guy!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

First Heldrake Completed! (Almost...)

June 12, 2013

I don't mean to jump the gun, as I've got a whole step-by-step process article planned for this, but I keep running out of time, so I thought I'd pop up this quick post with some pictures of the finished product. 

I was able to get both Heldrake bodies finished in just 8 calendar days (can't recall the number of  hours put into them; I've got that written down in my iPad, will include with the step-by-step post), and in the past 2 days I was able to finish one set of wings, matte varnish and gloss varnish all the sub-assemblies (body, 2 wings), and get the wings glued on, and now I've got one Heldrake completed!

Well, almost...  I still need to do the edge highlighting on him, but that's going to have to be a stretch goal, or wait until I get back from Valhalla.  He's good enough for Valhalla as is, and with tonight and tomorrow night, I should be able to get the 2nd Heldrake completed, as well.

Here are some pictures of the final product.  Enjoy, and let me know what you think!:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Picture Taking Problems Solved (I Hope…)

June 5, 2013

If you’ve been reading the posts in this blog, first of all, thanks very much!  However, you have probably noticed, and recall from what I’ve written, that I’ve been having a bit of a problem providing decent pictures of my works-in-progress and the finished products.  Well, I think I’ve solved that problem. 

I wanted to continue to use my iPhone 3GS’s camera, as it’s far simpler to just plug my iPhone into my laptop to transfer photos, and it’s on my laptop that I do the vast majority of my work.  However, the lighting at my FLGS where I do all of my assembling, converting and painting work doesn’t lend itself to taking great pictures with the iPhone.  I tried an old digital camera that my wife dug out for me, but I’ve found that the pictures tend to be over-exposed from the flash, and there’s the added problem of getting the pictures from the camera’s SD card onto my laptop.  (I know that this can be solved by purchasing a USB multi-card reader, but I was trying to avoid taking that step when I already have a multi-card reader on the desktop upstairs; problem there was, getting the photos from the upstairs desktop to my laptop.)

Then I had an epiphany.  I recalled seeing LED flashlights that one can wear on one’s head, sort of like a “miner’s light”, by way of an elastic strap that goes around your head.  I found a suitable option at my local Home Depot.

I tried it out last night, and I think it’s going to solve this problem for me, for the most part.  It’s not a perfect solution, but for quick-and-dirty picture taking as I’m completing each step in a process, I think it will work out so that I can keep the process moving along and get posts up on this blog as quickly as possible.

To give you an idea of the difference between “before” and “after” getting the head lamp, here’s a picture I took with just the FLGS’s lighting:

And here’s a picture using the head lamp.

There’s a bit of glare on the Heldrake’s head, but otherwise, I think you can see that having the headlamp greatly improves my chances for getting a decent picture of whatever it is I’m currently working on.

I took a bunch of pictures of how I’m painting my second Heldrake so that I record most steps so I can put up a future post that shows the process and results.  Look for that post in a few days; hopefully I’ll be done with the second body before the weekend.

Let me know what you think of the picture using the head lamp!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Painting My Great Unclean One

(Reported June 2, 2013, for work done mid-April, 2013.)

One of the great things I like about Warhammer 40,000 6th Edition is the ability to include allies with a primary detachment of your army.  Now, I know that a lot of people view this as just GW’s way of squeezing more money out of us, as it’s often the case that allied choices can fill “gaps” in our main army’s lists, which sometimes leads to expanding an allied force into a full-fledged army on its own, thus, spending more money on the hobby when we really hadn’t intended to get started on that other, new army in the first place.  To this I say, “So what?”  GW is in business to make money, and I have no problem with that.  I do get annoyed with folks who seem to like to bitch about GW just for the sake of hating them (yet they’re still in the hobby), but what are you gonna do?  I’m all for Free Speech, but I’m also all for capitalism, and that means that a company that’s in business to make money will/should continue to evolve its business practices so that it can continue to grow its revenue stream, and 6th Edition and its subsequent codices have, in my humble opinion, been doing that for Games Workshop.  We’ll see when the annual report comes out.

But, I digress.  The point of this post is to tell you what I did what an important component of my allies to my Death Guard Chaos Space Marines, the HQ of my allied detachment:  A Great Unclean One.

Personally, I don’t like the GW Great Unclean One (GUO) model very much.  I’m also not a big fan of the Forge World GUO model, and at GBP104.00, it’s hefty both in price and actual size, as well. 

However, I did discover an alternative GUO while perusing the Forge World website:  The Greater Daemon of Nurgle.  The blurb on the FW page about this model even states that it’s a great alternative GUO choice, and I really liked the looks of it.  Plus, for GBP44.00 you not only get the Daemon Prince (which I will refer to as “my GUO” from here on out), but you also get a very different and characterful Herald of Nurgle model included in the price.  This model looks a bit like a slug with a hood, and has an augmetic left arm.  I plan on running 4 Heralds of Nurgle in my Daemon armies (yes, my allies grew into their own army, all according to GW’s evil plans!), and with this little fellow – whom I’ve nicknamed “Emo” – I will have four different Heralds to run in each of the four squads of Plaguebearers that will be my troops choices in my Daemons army.

But back to the GUO.  I had made a Forge World order back in late March, which included the Nurgle Daemon Prince (GUO), and received it in less than 2 weeks, which I think is pretty good considering it came all the way from Nottingham to Phoenix.  After getting him washed up (you should always do this with Forge World models, as the release agent inhibits primer or any other paint from sticking to the model), on Saturday, April 6th, I was able to get the GUO assembled and primed, and then over the course of the following Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 11th, 12th and 13th, I got him completely painted and based.

Here are the steps I followed to get him ready for the tabletop:

·         Soaked GUO pieces in warm, soapy (dishwashing soap) water for about 30 minutes, and then set out to dry.
·         Assembled and primed GUO.
-          Top Tip:  If you’re going to build this model, be sure to attach the “pipes” leading from the barrel on his back to his left arm at the same time you glue the left arm into place!
·         Base coated GUO with Bugman's Glow in the open sores, Yellow on the “pustules”, etc., prior to shading (washing) (1 hour).
·         Washed GUO with appropriate washes (4 X 1/2 hours = ~2 hours).
-          Actual Total = Thursday 4.5 hours, Friday = 3 hours.
·         Finished washing GUO with appropriate washes (1 hour on Saturday).
·         Painted GUO's barrel of goo on his back & tubes on left arm to look heavily rusted (about 1.5 hours).
·         Painted & washed goo & Nurglings in GUO's barrel on his back (about 1.5 hours).
·         Finished painting details of GUO (1 hour).
·         Based GUO (2 hours).
·         Matt varnished entire GUO.
·         Gloss varnished certain areas of GUO.
·         Flocked GUO.

I used the same basing technique that I described for the Plaguebearers in an earlier post.

So over the course of three consecutive days and a total of 16.5 hours, I was able to complete my GUO.

Please let me know what you think of him, and leave any comments that you’d like to below.