Saturday, 18 February 2017

Ironjaws Megaboss part 10

So I’ve got a Megaboss with what amounts to one base stuck onto another and a dirty great gap between them! Obviously I had to fill in the gap with a texture that would blend seamlessly into the existing base work. The problem is that the earth texture was made at the start of the project using garden soil and superglue. This gives an excellent result but there is no way I’d risk it on a painted mini. The fumes given off by superglue can cause white fogging on painted surfaces.

I decided to experiment with Games Workshop’s texture paints and I’m very glad I did! I invested in a few pots and tried out various combinations. In all cases I found that the results were excellent! Each type of paint behaved as promised and the final results were both stable and easy to paint onto. Best of all I could detect no signs of shrinkage, which meant I could use the texture paint to fill the gap.

I decided that Stirland Battlemire was the best option for my Megaboss and, sure enough, the final texture matches the pre-existing texture very well. Like other Games Workshop products, these are not the cheapest option available; but the ease of use and finished quality mean I’ll be making the texture paints a regular part of my basing kit. I’m impressed!

With the gap filled and the base now a seamless whole, I had just a few little touches to attend to. Although the scene calls for a certain amount of blood and gore, I’ve decided to keep it to the minimum. With all the severed heads it would not be inappropriate to produce a version of this model that was literally blood drenched, but that’s not what I want. For one thing, in my mind, the heads were not severed at this spot but brought here from elsewhere and have had most of the blood drained out of them on the battlefield. More importantly, I didn’t want an over-the-top gory feel to this piece as I think that would be distracting from the overall composition.

However, I did decide to add a little more blood hear and there. Not least to the Dracoth’s neck as the cut was just a little too clean.

With the Megaboss now done, except for a plinth, it’s time to put him away in the cabinet for a while. I always like to do this with a newly ‘finished’ mini as I’m far too close to the project to be able to view it objectively at this stage. In truth, I’m sick of the sight of the Megaboss at the moment but that’s a symptom of the ‘fatigue’ I’ve been feeling with this project and a little time away from it will do the world of good. But, I’m very glad I persevered and finished it!

So what is next?

The reveal of the finished Megaboss will have to wait for a while until he is mounted on a plinth. My immediate priority is the upcoming workshop in Copenhagen and I’m preparing a few bits and pieces in readyness for that.

However, my next painting project is also underway. I can guarantee that it is unlike anything I’ve ever painted before!

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Ironjaws Megaboss part 9

It’s been a long time coming but the end of the project is finally in sight!

In order to finish the Megaboss I had to complete his base and that was quite a project in itself. As well as the severed dracoth head there were several skulls attached to the base, but they were not going to be the only such additions. I intended the base to be piled up with severed heads, using a mix of Orruk and human heads, as well as a couple of more skulls. This would give the base a look of a trophy mound with the combination of skulls, and more recently severed heads, telling a story of many victories over a period of time.

Painting the heads went very smoothly, although it was very fiddly work. The desaturated flesh tones I have used on the severed heads helps to convey the impression of death and prevent them from drawing too much focus from the Megaboss. For the same reason, I put a little more work into the dracoth head to darken and desaturate it.

Once the heads were painted, I glued them onto the base using PVA woodworking glue. This is an excellent adhesive for small lightweight parts that do not need to be held in place while the glue dries. It avoids the potential mess of epoxy glue, and the problems of fogging and positioning that can come with superglue. With PVA, parts can be nudged into place and any excess can be cleaned away with a clean damp paintbrush.

Then it was time to add a few sparse grass tufts and, after the addition of a little extra dirt effects, the Megaboss would be finished – or so I thought!

I’d been having those nagging doubts I sometimes get. This time I felt that something wasn’t quite right with the Megaboss but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what the problem was. It might just have been last minute jitters, as the project came together, but the feeling got stronger and stronger.

The answer came from sitting back and taking a good long look at the model. All the details were as good as I could make them but the overall impression lacked impact. Something was off with the positioning and composition of the Megaboss on his base!

He looked very awkward from certain angles and from others seemed to be about to topple backwards, right off the rear of the base. Cue panic, swiftly followed by black despair!

However, all was not lost! I could remember a similar situation with my Dark Eldar diorama. The solution, which came as they often do in the middle of the night, was the same as before. I would have to remodel the base.

This was not something I undertook lightly and it took several hours to psych myself up to it! If I got it wrong I’d be in a much worse position than before.

To begin with I used a pair of clippers to snip away the edges of the plastic base and some of the ‘soil’ from the lower edges. Next I took my Dremmel and sanded away the milliput from under the front edge of the base. This covered the entire model in a heavy layer of milliput dust that had to be meticulously cleaned off. It was, to say the least, a horrible job; but at least I could then move on and start reconstructing the base.

I took a new 60mm plastic base and filled the underside with milliput for weight and stability. Once this hardened I glued the old, trimmed down, base onto it. But I didn’t glue it down flat. Instead I inserted a wedge of cork between the old and new bases at the rear. This had the effect of raising up the back edge of the base and radically altering the relative angles of both the Megaboss and the ground. The gaps were then roughly filled in with green stuff.

The change has made a massive difference to the Megaboss and his base! The positioning and composition now feel right to me. But the biggest change is that the Megaboss now feels ‘alive’! His posture looks balanced and dynamic and this, together with the added height, has given the piece much greater impact.

Now I have to reapply and paint the soil effects but the end really is in sight … honest.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Ironjaws Megaboss part 8

I mentioned earlier on that I was going to add some freehand designs to the Megaboss’s armour. But did I really want to cover up my hard work on the painted textures? I decided to go for it but my plans for the freehands had to change.

I’d originally intended to paint designs inspired by Native American artworks. Once the Megaboss was near completion, I could see this was not going to work. The type of designs I intended to paint would be too lightweight to stand out on the chunky textured armour, as I’ve painted it. Also the Native American designs would not be anything like ‘Orky’ enough for this model. 

The solution was, as is often the case, staring me in the face. I would use the established GW iconography for the Orruks. The jagged lightning/flame designs painted on GW’s Orruks were perfect. These designs are often painted in yellow and black. As I was painting them in a less contrasting bone white on red, I had to make the designs a little bolder. This also helped them to stand out against the textures.

In addition to the jagged designs, I decided to add a skull design to the back of the mini. I felt something bold was needed to break up this large area of red armour. In addition, the colour on the freehands tones in with the large skull and balances out the overall colour palette. 

With the freehands done, it was time to paint the Megaboss’s base, and I was ready for the challenge. I expected it to take quite some time and effort, but I didn’t realise how much! The last couple of weeks have been a hard slog at the painting desk. I’ve had to curb my impatience in wanting to see the job finished as, in order to do it right, I have put the hours in. Added to that I’ve struggled to get the overall colour balance right. I’m suffering from Megaboss fatigue.

I really want to see the end of this project and to move on to something new. But I’m not going to do a rush job just for the sake of finishing it off. I’m very pleased with the work I’ve done on the Megaboss and I’m now going to give him the base he deserves!

Friday, 13 January 2017

Blasts from the Past

I’ve recently completed the seven day art challenge on Facebook. Each day, for seven days, I had to post three pictures of my work. I decided to have a strong focus on some of my older, and more obscure, projects as my recent work has had plenty of coverage.

I’ve been a little cautious about dwelling on the past but that’s not to say I don’t value my mini painting past. I strongly believe that to know where you are going you have to understand where you have come from.

In that spirit, I’ve decided to compile these pictures of my older work and post them here. All of the photographs are taken recently. The miniatures were painted between the early 1980s and the late 1990s. They include the minis I painted before the first Golden Demon painting competitions, my entries to the first four Golden Demons, from 1987 to 1990, and the miniatures I painted in the years after.

I’ve given dates and descriptions for the models that are as accurate as memory allows.

Games Workshop Early 1980s

Games Workshop Early 1980s

Death Giant
Grenadier Early1980s

Troll Champion in Classical Armour
Games Workshop - Golden Demon 1987 entry

Eldar Warrior
Games Workshop - Golden Demon 1988
Gold - Single Miniature

Games Workshop - Golden Demon 1988
Gold - Monster

Space Wolves Rhino
Games Workshop - Golden Demon 1989
Gold - 40k Vehicle

Games Workshop - Golden Demon 1989
Gold - Monster

Champion of Slaanesh vs Bloodletter
Games Workshop - Golden Demon 1989 entry

Nurgle Predator conversion
Games Workshop - Golden Demon 1990
Gold - 40k Vehicle & Slayer Sword

Eldar Death Jester
Games Workshop - Golden Demon 1990 entry

Champion of Nurgle
Games Workshop - 1990

Champion of Tzeentch conversion
Games Workshop - Early 1990s

Eldar Fire Dragon
Games Workshop - Early 1990s

Eldar Gaurdians
Games Workshop - Early 1990s

Games Workshop - Early 1990s

Eldar Warlock
Games Workshop - Early 1990s

Skaven Assasin
Games Workshop - Early 1990s

Silver Helm
Games Workshop - Mid 1990s

Wood Elf Champion
Games Workshop - Mid 1990s

Dragon Prince
Games Workshop - Mid 1990s

Swooping Hawk
Games Workshop - Mid 1990s

Ariel & Wardancers
Games Workshop - Late 1990s

Jain Zar
Games Workshop - Late 1990s

Dark Eldar Incubi
Games Workshop - Late 1990s

Saturday, 7 January 2017

2016 Looking back... and forward.

Some years stand out more in the memory than others and 2016 certainly made an impact! Many sad, disturbing and sometimes terrible things have happened in the world at large and it feels negligent not to acknowledge that. However, this blog is always written from my own personal perspective and for me 2016 brought many things for which I’m very grateful.

I went into 2016 with the intention of making it a ‘big’ year not least because in July I turned 50 and celebrated the tenth anniversary of my civil partnership. Winning another Slayer Sword would be the icing on the cake – or so I thought.

I can now look back on a year where I not only won two Slayer Swords but also, In September, took early retirement from work. Neither of these things seemed even remotely possible this time last year!

I may not have had the most productive year in terms of the number of miniatures I painted, but it’s been a year of achievements nevertheless.

So what does the future hold? In the shorter term I’m focused on April, which is going to be a very busy month. There is my workshop in Copenhagen and the Salute painting competition. Beyond that there is the next classic Golden Demon in May, and I’m planning to do some more workshops this year.

The big adventure for 2017 is exploring what it means for me to be a full time hobbyist. I’ve a growing backlog of unpainted miniatures (who hasn’t in this hobby?) and some exciting painting projects planned.

I now have the opportunity to take my hobby and run with it!