Saturday 21 May 2016

Golden Demon 2016

I started basing my Plaguebearer unit with two weeks to go before The Golden Demons. ‘Plenty of time’ you might think and you’d be right. Except I managed to make a thorough mess of things during the first week! Put simply, I made my usual mistake of starting an overly complicated basing scheme. I began working on a scenic base for the unit, but at least I had the sense to abandon it while there was still time to do the job properly. 

I’d been advised by my friend Lee (10 ball on cool mini) to base the minis up individually. Presenting them thus on a simple black plinth would allow the minis to shine out. He was dead right and I’m very glad I finally took his advice. 

I’d decided early on that I would feature some sort of barren desert terrain on my bases rather than an overtly Nurgle themed scheme. I wanted the bases to contrast and compliement the minis. I already had lots of Nurgleish details on the minis and repeating this on the bases would diminish the impact. I used the colour orange to create a visual link between the minis and the bases and to tie them together. I also used orange on the plinth’s label for the same reason. 

With a new plan of action in place things went far more smoothly during the second week; and I finished the unit on the Friday before Warhammer Fest! 

This is the second time that Warhammer Fest and the Golden Demons have been held at the Ricoh Arena and it has reinforced my view that the move to this venue was a good one! The Golden Demons were held on the top of three floors in a large and well-lit space. This was just as well because the crowds around the cabinet seemed to be more dense this year. As always a little patience pays off when viewing the miniatures. I prefer to make repeated visits to the cabinets and to take it all in a bit at a time. 

My overall impression was that the standard of the minis on display was very high, probably the best out of the three recent ‘classic’ Demons I’ve attended. By the early afternoon I was not feeling very confident about my chances! 

Mercifully there were plenty of distractions from the agony of awaiting the results. My personal favourites centred around the new Warhammer Quest Silver Tower miniatures. In addition to viewing the minis I attended one of the info pods by Max Faleij on ‘The colours of Tzeentch’. He explained how the studio painters had approached painting the Silver Tower miniatures and the reasoning behind their colour choices. Earlier I’d made up my mind to paint some of these minis myself and, as I’ve never painted any Tzeentch minis myself, Max’s talk has given me some great ideas on how to go about it. 

Eventually the waiting was over and the Gold, Silver and Bronze winning miniatures for each category were placed on the top shelves of their respective cabinets. At this stage there was no indication of which mini had won which trophy. Much speculation followed! 

I had high hopes for Gutrot, I think he is my best piece to date; but it’s very unwise to make any assumptions about competition results before they are announced! The Plaguebearer Unit was in unknown territory as the category was entirely new to me! 

Then the time came for the winning painters to gather in the winner’s enclosure. At previous Golden Demons the winners were queued up in a Bronze, Silver, Gold order ready to go on stage and collect their trophies. This meant you could work out what you’d won just prior to it being announced. This year we were just gathered together to await the announcements. This brought an added level of anticipation to the experience! 

Single Warhammer miniature was the first of my categories to come up and to my, obvious, delight Gutrot took the Gold. Then Warhammer Units followed and my Plaguebearers also took Gold. That’s something I’d never considered as a possibility when I started these minis as demonstration pieces for my Weekend Workshop in Cardiff last October! 

Winning two Golds meant I was in the running for the Slayer Sword so the anticipation wasn’t over. And then, finally, Alan Merrett announced Gutrot as the winner of the 2016 Slayer Sword! 

It’s an achievement that I feel very proud of and I had some personal reasons for wanting to win the sword this year. 2016 is a big year for me as it will see my 50th birthday and the tenth anniversary of my civil partnership. Winning the Slayer Sword makes it even more special! 

So what next? It’s straight back to the painting desk with an Orruk Mega Boss who’s been awaiting my attention. After that I want to go up in scale and paint more busts and there are those Silver Tower minis I so liked – I already have a few ideas for them.

Sunday 15 May 2016

The Finished Plaguebearers and Golden Demon 2016

I had hoped to manage a quick pre-Golden Demon post to show the basing for my Plaguebearers. But the work didn’t go very smoothly and the week prior to the competition was just a little intense.

I’ll put together a proper write-up on how I finished off the Plaguebearers and my experience at Golden Demon 2016 later this week.

In the meantime, here is a belated reveal of the finished unit which I’m very proud to say took Gold in it’s category. I’m even more proud to say that Gutrot Spume also took Gold and then went on to win the 2016 Slayer Sword!

Tuesday 3 May 2016

Making Waves - Creating splash, wave and water effects for miniatures.

This tutorial was originally posted on the Legion of the cow website but as that site is no longer currently active I'm re-posting it here.

Before you start it is well worth searching the web for reference photos showing waves and splashes. I don’t recommend that you try and create a 100% perfect copy of any particular photo but good reference is invaluable in creating a realistic effect. 

  • Greenstuff (epoxy putty) 
  • Paints 
  • Clear plastic – e.g. blister pack plastic
    Games Workshop Water Effects (fluid) 
  • Vallejo water effects (gel) 
  • Crushed glass - a specialist basing material commonly used to create snow effects 
  • Micro balloons – a lightweight plastic powder used to bulk out resin
    Invisible thread – a clear plastic thread used for clothing repairs
    Clear glass microbeads - for nail art and craft projects 

Step 1 
I began by sculpting my wave shapes with green stuff. I found that a ball ended sculpting tool gave me the best results. 

Step 2 
Next you need to paint the waves. Think carefully about what sort of finished colour you want for your water. The colour of water can vary infinitely so pick something that will work with the overall colour palette you are using. Before you finalise your colour choice, it is worthwhile to test out how your colours look under a couple of layers of the water effects. The gloss finish will alter the final appearance of your colour. 

For my waves I started off with a desaturated grey/blue tone and worked up to a brighter saturated blue/green. I then lightly dry brushed the tips of the waves with ivory. You could also use white for this but the ivory gave a pleasing greenish quality over the blue. If the dry brushing starts to build up a grainy texture that’s all for the better as this will add to the foam effect. You can glaze a little deep blue/green into the recesses to enrich the colour if you feel it is needed. 

Step 3 
Next it’s time to create the splash elements. I used melted clear plastic for this. This process is very random, so it’s a good idea to make lots and then pick the most suitable pieces. 

I cut several long thin strips of the clear plastic and then held each one over a tea light until the plastic began to soften and melt. I gently pulled the plastic until it came apart. The softened/melted edges often form into interesting shapes that make great splash elements. 

You will need to experiment with this technique as different plastics will react with varying results. Work in a well ventilated area and proceed with extreme caution! The combination of plastic and a naked flame is hazardous and all necessary safety precautions should be taken to avoid injury/accident. 

Pick the splash elements you wish to use and trim them to size so they will fit. I used a blob of the Vallejo water effects gel to attach the splash elements to the base and then let everything dry thoroughly over night. 

Step 4 
The next step is to cover the entire surface of the water with the fluid water effects. The final result will be better if you build up several layers rather than one thick one. I found that four layers seemed about right for the look I wanted.

Water effects will shrink as it dries, so it’s important to allow each coat to dry before you apply the next. If you build up too thick a layer the shrinkage may cause some distortion to the splash and droplet elements. 

Step 5 
The base layer for the water is now done so its time to enhance the effect with some foam and droplets. 

The foam is made from a mixture of crushed glass, micro balloons and fluid water effects. You can vary the proportions of the mix to create slightly different effects. Once again I would recommend a little experimentation to see what works for you. 

As an alternative you could use baking soda to replace the crushed glass and/or micro balloons but you will need to be aware that baking soda can yellow over time and this would spoil the desired effect. 

I applied the prepared mixture in places where the water would produce a foam and left it to dry. It’s wise to proceed cautiously and add a little at a time with a dabbing motion. You can also add a few clear glass microbeads to the foam mix in places where larger bubbles might form. The microbeads can also be applied randomly on the water. 

Step 6 
If you study freeze-frame photos of splashing water you will notice that many blobs and droplets are formed. First mix a few of the microbeads into a drop of the fluid water effects. Then put a small amount of the water effects onto the mini where you want to fix the microbeads. This will make it easier to push the microbeads around to get them into position. Pick the microbeads off your palette with a clean paintbrush and position then on the mini. Do this one at a time for more control. 

To create the illusion of independent droplets of water breaking free of the splash you will need to use the invisible thread. Attach a short piece of the invisible thread to the splash with a dot of the water effects and allow it to dry in place. Now gradually build up a small blob of water effects on the end of the thread. This is a fiddly and time-consuming job but well worth the effort as it greatly enhances the splash effect. 

Step 7 
Once all the foam and splash effects are dried give them a couple of coats of water effects to tie everything together. At this stage you can build-up a few specific splashes and droplets with extra layers of water effects if you feel it’s needed.