Wednesday, December 26, 2007
The great Viking project is complete! I actually finished everything on Sunday night, 12/23. But with all the holiday festivities I haven't had a chance to set up all the units and take the "final picture" until today. This army is ready to hit the table at any time.... painted, magnetized, "movement tray-ed", and flocked.
This army proved to be far more of a challenge than I thought it would be. As I've mentioned before, I've tried to make these Vikings look like a group of individual warriors grouped with various leaders. This is meant the typical assembly line production was not possible. I did come up with a procedure for doing one rank at a time. By the end I was moving quickly through the process. Essentially, I did everyone's flesh and boots together.... these wouldn't be different (or didn't need to be different) from model to model. Then I did one rank at a time, all the pants, then all the undershirts, then all the outer tunics, then vests, then cloaks. After they got dressed, I did hair, details and weapons, and finally metal parts. Throughout, I just used a variety of paints to make everything different.
Well, I think I've fairly well documented the progress in this blog. My biggest surprises of the whole project was how long it took me to get them modeled. Making their spears, drilling out their hands and all that jazz took longer than I thought it would. My biggest lesson was to never publicly announce how long I think it will take to do something. Gee.... I think I planned to have these ready for September.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
So the mighty Viking army is very nearly complete! I've finished painting the two units of 28 Hirdmen. Above is a shot of the Jarl's unit (the king) and a detailed shot of the battle standard bearer (BSB). The king is the guy with the bright red beard and white fur cloak. I thought that would make him stand out. The other Hirdmen unit is behind this one. You can just see the top of the red banner for that unit. I figured by now you realize they all look about the same and I didn't photograph that unit.
For some of the banners, and the BSB in particular, I had to make my own. The Viking command set comes with plenty of musicians but not enough banners. I was dreading doing this, as I'm terrible with conversions. But I had a brainstorm to use the veteran sergeant Space Marine banners from my 40K Ultramarines! They worked perfectly, even if the fit is a little clunky when viewed from the rear. I really didn't want to do paper banners for these, and I hate working with green stuff (mostly because I don't know how to use it, probably).
I think the BSB came out very nicely. I copied the Raven Banner as it was depicted in one of my reference books (one of the Osprey ones -- great series of books). I then copied some rune stone inscriptions to make the borders designs. Viking runes are pretty easy, mostly straight lines, and went on pretty good.
I tried to avoid using pure black in my color schemes. I also avoided pure white. I didn't want anything too intense or pure...since this is an historical army, I wanted it to look more realistic. I think the BSB looks faded and battle worn, and not like it was just purchased at Wal-Mart.
Now all that remains is to paint my 13 Bondi archers and then finish the bases of all the models. When this is done I'll set up the whole army for a group shot and post up the final results. I'm looking forward to completing these guys. Then all I have to do is actually play a game of WAB, which I haven't done since July!
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Here's just a short update to demonstrated that I'm still working on the Vikings. This is the first unit of Hirdmen to be painted. I gave them fancier shield designs to reflect their "professional" soldier status. Otherwise, they're pretty much like all the others. I've got two more units of 28 each to paint and then 13 Bondi archers.
The game lasted over three hours and we had an incredible blast playing it. Here I'll give a few shots of the game and then a little battle report after it.
First, here is the table and the set up. Looks like those Orcs have a massive killing field to cross! Then there's me and Albert admiring the scene before us. After that you have a few shots of the Orc line and then some of the Dwarf castle on the (unpainted) hill. Finally, there's Dad measuring off his first turn one move!
Basically here's how the battle went. The O&G went first and the Wolfriders went up the flank to threaten the organ gun. The rest of the line lurched forward with animosity playing its role in staggering the link. The Giant hid one turn in the forest, afraid of all that shorty shooting stuff.
In short, when the giant came out he caught one cannon ball and two bolt thrower shafts and died. At least he didn't fall on anyone. The 10 Wolfriders evaporated also to the Organ Gun and massed Thunderers on the hill. The rest of the Boyz ambled forward supported by their own Spearchukkas and a Doom Diver. They finally made the Dwarf line and what happened next shocked me.
The Dwarf Thane general engaged my BSB and his block of 25 Orcs and my Big 'Uns and Warboss crashed into the center line and hit the Longbeards. The battle churned like crazy there, and the Big 'Uns broke the Longbeards and crashed into the soft parts of the Dwarf castle. The BSB, despite losing every combat, kept making his roles to stay in combat. He went three rounds until there was nothing left, even making an insane courage roll to stay in the battle.
The Big 'Uns tore up the artillery behind the lines. The Quarrelers were the only defense back there, and 16 of them put up a good fight. My Night Goblin Fanatics were pretty good too. But the Night Goblin units themselves had been devastated by Dwarf artillery and got too far from the Warboss to effectively rally. At the end of the battle, it was essentially a draw. But the Orcs, if they had one more turn, probably would've crushed the Dwarfs.
I had expected to be shot to bits before getting the the Dwarfs. Also, I was surprised at how fast the Dwarf line crumbled. In one turn of combat it was pretty much decided that the Orcs were going to dictate the fight for the rest of the game. I will say, that the Thunders and Cannon crew staying calmly in place and blowing away the Night Goblin units that would've swamped the lines was quite impressive. They really kept their comrades in the fight.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Here is a shot of the two Bondi units. You will notice that I've painted the bases and movement trays different shades of green. I did this because all my Viking model units look about the same. The only way I'll know which model belongs with which unit is to distinguish them somehow. I thought giving every unit a unique shade of green would achieve this. Once I flock the tops of the bases, it should be a more subtle effect.
One of the Bondi units up close. The first row was dipped in varnish. But all the other models were washed with brown ink. I hated the varnish dip effect. The brown ink achieved about the same effect and preserved more of the models' colors.
Look! They're running away! Bondi are only leadership 6 -- so I thought this an appropriate shot. But actually I just wanted to show some of the shields in this picture.
So, just one unit of Bondi archers and three Hirdmen units to go and I'm done. The biggest challenge with these guys has been all the different clothes. They all have to have different tunics, pants, undershirts, hats, hair, shields, and cloaks. These guys were not pro-soldiers with uniforms. They had their gear, most of it handed down or part of some prior battle's spoils. So they had to be painted that way. It looks nice, but is a slow process!
I'm also in love with gray primer. It has added that drab look without deadening colors like black. Also, I can leave areas as primer gray, and it looks pretty natural for this group.
Well, that's all for now..... I've got my first unit of Hirdmen to get working on.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
So there they are! They are all assembled an put on bases (except the archers that you see in the front). As of today, I've even primed a unit and am in the process of painting the first rank. Hot dog! I thought this would never come. I've admittedly been slow at it.... my gaming interest having waned somewhat over the last few months. But I'm back at it now.
I like painting the figures more than modeling them. The biggest hang-up for me was doing all those spears. Long term, it's the right thing to do. The few lead based spears I have are already being bent. But the short term elbow grease to do all those guys just sucked. Well, it's done now.
I've wimped out on the movement trays and ordered some custom made jobs. Why make this harder on myself than it has to be? Hopefully they'll be here soon and I can get these Vikings off my table. I'm eager to get them done. I want to get to a place where I'm painting just for the pleasure of painting figures and not to build an army!
Well, that's all for now. My neck -- which was truly diagnosed as whiplash -- is better. I don't know what I did to hurt it. But I'm recovered for the most part and can spend some hours hunched over figures. I'll post up when I get some painting results to show.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
But more importantly, I've developed some strange neck strain. That's why this I'm calling this update "whiplash." I woke up Thursday morning with the left side of my neck swollen and sore. I figured I had slept on it wrong. But today is Sunday and it feels even worse! In fact, the original area of soreness is gone and a new part of my neck is hurting. I can't do anything without pain, except lie down. But it's especially painful to look down or look up. If I squeeze my shoulder blades together I want to cry. What the hell is this?
I've done nothing that I can think of to injure myself like this. But today, the fourth day like this, I am even worse than before. I have to go lie down about every hour or so to relieve my neck. As lame as it seems, I'm going to have to go see a doctor about this. I haven't felt this bad since I hurt my back last Christmas. But that was due to a reason I could identify. This, as far as I can tell, is a sleep injury!
Well, I put together 8 Viking Bondi last night and then I couldn't take any more. I'll have to wait for this to pass before I can get any more completed. Hopefully, I'll be able to show the completely modeled army very soon. I'm getting pretty close!
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Originally I was very ambitious about getting this army table-ready for September. Well, the month is half way over and I'm only half way done. So, I've had to readjust my expectations. I'll shoot for the end of October to have them ready.
This should still be a challenge to meet, yet something that I can achieve. Recently I haven't had a lot of motivation to get anything done with my miniatures. I just wish I was at a place where I could buy a figure or two and just paint it for pleasure. But I have so much piled up, I can't do it. Fortunately, I'm pretty excited about the historical stuff. So that is keeping me going.
So, the next group to tackle are all my Bondi units. These guys are the farmers who don't do this for a living. So they'll be easier to model in that they don't all have to be uniform with spear and shields -- just enough so that other players realize that the units have spears and shields. I'm thinking that the best way to make these guys stand out from the other, better equipped Hirdmen might be in the way I paint them. They'd probably have pretty drab and faded clothing. The Hirdmen might have better stuff and look a little sharper. Well, I'm getting ahead of myself right now. I've got to get them modeled first!
Monday, September 3, 2007
Seeing how I'm writing (struggling to write, more like it) a novel set in Viking age Norway, a WAB Viking army is just the thing. Unlike other GW games, you don't buy miniatures from them. So, this game is a lot cheaper. I paid out less than half of what it would cost to do a comparable army with GW product. I've bags and bags of lead Viking models, more than I'll need, to build my army. They are all from Old Glory. The figures themselves are not exactly the best I've seen. Many a Viking has only half a face or some other casting problem in the model. But they are pretty good. They're true 25mm; so they're smaller than what I'm accustomed to.
My only complaint is that I had to make spears for my spearmen. I guess this is not all that bad, as lead spears would just bend and snap off anyway. I'd have to replace them with brass rod eventually. But I've got a lot of spearmen, and need to make lots of spears. In the pictures below, you can see piles of "brass toothpicks" that I'm using for spears. I've clipped down rods to size and then used my Dremmel tool to grind out points. The points are freakin' sharp and I've already stuck myself a few times! Damn Vikings! I'm also going to have to convert a few standard bears for this too. I'm not good at conversions. So we'll see how that goes.
I'm excited about this. I've got quite a challenge ahead to get these guys modeled and painted before the next meeting of the WAB group next month. I plan to dip these guys to speed up the painting process. We'll see how that goes. For now, here are pictures of the men in their bags and laid out on my work table. Pretty rag-tag, even for Vikings!
Sunday, August 12, 2007
You know, I didn't have a really clear idea what this blog was for when I started. It seemed like a cool place to put up my art. But Deviant Art (see my links) is a far better place for that. So I started to put up pictures of my miniature figures. But I soon discovered that 1) I take crappy pictures, 2) it's a lot of work to set up figures for photography, and 3) I'm too lazy to actually take the pictures.
So, what is the purpose of this blog? Who is its audience (currently perhaps one or two people on earth.... perhaps a few others from inhabited planets outside our solar system)? I have given some thought to this while standing in line at grocery stores or while pumping gas. I haven't yet come up with a satisfactory answer. I think the content should drive the audience.... but in my case it seems like the audience is driving the content!
I've entitled this post the virtues of being lazy. In fact, I can't really think of any virtues associated with laziness. Guess I just thought it would be a satirical title to this post. At any rate, I'm not really a lazy person. I've got a reputation for being overly ambitious, in fact, when it comes to my interests. Right now, I'm really putting a lot of effort into my Japanese study. Other things (like this blog) have taken a back seat to that interest. So, I guess I'm not being lazy after all. I'm just being selective about what I put my effort into.
I suppose that this blog is really just an online diary. Later, at some time in my future, some co-worker can surreptitiously find out all about me. Then somehow he can take what can be found here and turn it into a nice blackmail scheme. Or maybe my long lost family will discover it, read about me, and decide that I'm best left in the "long lost" category. Who'd want to contact such a dull person anyway?
Well, I'm glad I've had this conversation with myself! I think I'll take another 90 days to think about it and get back with a new mission for my blog. Really, if I'm going to do this, I had better think of a way to get someone to read it. Otherwise, wouldn't it just be more efficient to think this stuff in my head instead?
Sunday, June 3, 2007
I hand painted the banner. In this pic it doesn't look so smooth. But on the table it looks more crisp than this. Dwarf players.... go look up that rune in your army book and tell me what it is.
Here's my lame BSB conversion. It's basically a regular warrior champ with an extra long pole and regular banner. But you get the idea. The banner pole is a brass rod.
There are more dwarfs waiting to be painted. I don't think I took photos of my longbeards. So, I'll do that later. I've got two bolt throwers to go, 7 more Longbeards, 24 more warriors, two more engineers, and 20 Slayers. That ought to keep me busy!
Up first is an Engineer and a Runesmith.
They came out nicely. But I don't think they came out as nicely as this Grudge Thrower crew and Engineer:
Here's my Organ gun and a sample of the crew. I think these guys came out nicely, but just one crewman suffices to demonstrate the look.
This post is getting a little big. So I'll add more pictures to a new one.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
At any rate, I've been busy. You just wouldn't be able to tell that from this blog. I've completed my 1500 pts of Dwarfs for the team tournament that I played in last month. I think they look pretty good. I've got to get around to photographing these and posting them up. It takes a lot of effort (for me anyway) to dig them out, set up the lighting, and get the pictures onto my hard disk. But I'll get to it. I''m aiming to complete the remaining 500 pts of Dwarfs over the next few months -- two bolt throwers, a grudge thrower, 7 more Longbeards, and 24 more warriors. Geez.....
So, my novel outline is done. I left a lengthy post last time about that endeavor. I added in story lines for two other characters to flesh it out and an outline for two others who I may or may not show. The great part of this outlining technique is that you can take things out or add them in without destroying the whole manuscript. Now I'm going to let it sit for a spell and then begin to write it starting on June 1st. That way I'll be able to track how long it takes to actually write it. I'll be shooting for six months -- so maybe the first draft will be my Christmas gift this year.
In other news, I've restarted my learning of Japanese. Not sure if I mentioned it here, but I can speak and read (to a fair degree) Mandarin Chinese. I hesitate to ever say that I actually "speak" the language. But I can carry on a conversation about stuff that interests me, and I can say things like, "Hey, don't point that gun at me," or "please stop punching me," you know, things that you need to survive. Of course, I lived in Taiwan for a while in the early 90s and my wife is Chinese. So I've been able to keep up my learning of the language. Some of those Chinese "historical" dramas for T.V. are actually pretty good. So watching those helps keep me sharp.
But how I've digressed! As I was saying, I am starting my study of Japanese. Years ago, when I was an ambitious young man, I told myself that I would learn both Chinese and Japanese. Then I got married to a Chinese, and the next question I asked myself is "why bother learning Japanese since I can't use it to pick up Japanese girls now that I'm married?" So that ruling logic held for something like 15 years. Then I realized that learning Japanese because I'm interested in their culture is also a noble idea. So I began to study about three years ago. Then work got busy, and excuses flowed like water. And now I'm restarting three years later. Had I kept at it by now I'd be speaking Japanese and understanding important shows like Cowboy Bebop in the original Japanese.
I'm using a combination approach of Pimsleur Japanese, which is a pretty radical way of language learning from my experience. But after just ten lessons I can understand a lot of little things in Japanese already. It took me like 6 months of Chinese study to get to that level. So Pimsleur is cool. I'm also using the sentence memorization method advocated at alljapaneseallthetime.com. (How's that for a crazy url?)
OK, my fingers are tiring. I'll update again later. But just one note for music buffs out there. If you were ever into Black Sabbath -- the original 70s version -- you owe it to yourself to check out these bands that I've so recently discovered: Wolfmother, The Sword, Witchcraft, and Priestbird. These are all new bands recording stuff that will take you back a few years. The funny thing is I don't think any of these kids were in more than diapers in the 70s. So, they've obviously put a new spin on things. Anyway, check them out if you can. They're really good!
Saturday, March 31, 2007
It took me about ten months to get it completed. That includes everything from idea generation, character sketches, background sketches, research, and the actual outline. Doing an outline first is a great idea. When I was a young man, intent on becoming the next JRR Tolkien, I approached novel writing as something done "on a spiritual level." By that I mean just writing whatever came into my head. It was a lazy, sketchy way of doing things. In my adult life, I have realized the power of planning. That's what this outline is.
The outline in fact crosses over into something of a rough draft. I included more than just descriptions of events and actions. I've got lots of dialog, description, key paragraphs, etc, all written out. Of course, the outline cannot be read like a book. It doesn't flow like a story. It's like a road map that I created to help me in writing it. Hopefully, with this level of detail I won't get lost while writing.
My favorite writer, Bernard Cornwell, claims that getting the story right is almost all the work of creating a novel. Once the story is down, he says, then the writing is like falling off a log. Well, I'll see about that. Also, once the story is down then it can take a lot of abuse in terms of changes. For example, when I started this I intended it to be a first person narrative. But about three fourths of the way in I realized that this will not only make the story too short for its genre, but will also deny me chances to increase suspense and to make other characters and situations more believable. So now with the story mapped out scene by scene, I can still go in and add other viewpoint characters. In fact, I intend to add three to four more characters to add depth and layers to the story.
So I guess the outline isn't really done, is it? I guess what I originally set out to do is done. The rest stems from the changes that I've decided to make while writing. But isn't it better to have written 170 pages of outline and decide that it needs to be changed rather than writing 800 pages of novel and realizing it needs to be changed?
By now you may want to know what the story is about. Either that or you stopped reading a while ago. For those who are still reading, this is a historical adventure novel set in the height of the Viking age, the late Ninth Century. It concerns the trials and tribulations of a young Norseman who loses his home and honor to the treachery of his half brother. He becomes an outlaw and travels with a few of his companions all throughout southern Norway and parts of Frankia (modern France). His path crosses with several famous Norsemen, like Harald Fairhair who sought to unite Norway under his rule and Rollo who sacked Paris and eventually founded Normandy. During the course of the novel he will at times be an outlaw, a prisoner, a Viking, and a respected Jarl. Throughout the whole of it, there'll be plenty of hot Viking action as his destiny leads him to hack a path through Paris and back to Norway where vengeance and history awaits him.
Anyway, that's what the outline says. Who know what I might yet change?
Sunday, March 25, 2007
As you can see, I have not based them in anything yet. They don't really have much showing for bases. So I'll probably just do sand and some clump foliage. Of course, my photography stinks. So you can't really see how well they came out. I was particularly proud of the robes for some of these guys. Here's a detail shot of the robes.
Once again Blogger will not let you expand these pictures. This feature is so goofy that I cannot figure it out. But then again, I don't think anyone is actually visiting this site. So I'm essentially talking to myself in cyberspace. I guess I've done weirder things, but this is still pretty weird. At any rate, since I have no visitors I'm not going to struggle with fixing this problem.
Monday, March 19, 2007
I know this is a cliche, but where does the time go? My parents warned me that after having kids life would go by fast. I just had one, and my life has reached warp speed. I think if I had a second child my life would probably be over by now.
Well, this is depressing me. So let's talk about my birthday gifts! Despite being middle aged, I'm still treated like a child on my birthday --- I insist upon it. So, you know that my gift list was filled with Warhammer models. So here's the take. Warhammer fans can be jealous starting right now:
- Ogre Kingdoms battalion box
- One box of Tyranid gaunts (half way to a unit of Hormagaunts!)
- One Tyranid Ravener
This year my son, who is 10, decided that he wanted to buy me gifts with his own money. So he got me:
- One Tyranid Ravener
- One Dwarf Engineer
So I got a good mix of Fantasy and 40K models. Of course, this produces a tremendous backlog of things to do. I've still got all my Dwarfs from my Xmas haul to paint yet. I'm moving at such a painfully slow pace with them. I just finished 11 warriors last night, and it took me a few weeks of painting to do that. Of course, I've been on and off with them during this time. So I've got to get motivated and paint faster. I'll post up a picture or two of these Dwarfs when I have a chance. Right now, I'm going to go get some leftover birthday cake!
Saturday, March 3, 2007
I've decided to show the Dwarfs that I have painted. These all come from the Battle for Skull Pass starter boxed set. I completed these over Christmas vacation last year. I had injured my back and couldn't do much of anything. So I painted all of these models. I have yet to decide how to base them. I've got some ideas for a "sand and scrub" type of thing. But the Dwarfs cover so much of their bases, this might not work.
Thursday, March 1, 2007
I do have several projects in the works. I just completed assembling the contents of a Warhammer Dwarf Battalion box. That's a lot of Dwarfs there. I've never played a game with them. But I like the models and I like the fluff (their back story, for the uninitiated among you). So I'm painting them. Besides, it will be nice to play a game of Warhammer with troops that don't run away at the first sign of trouble, like my Orcs and Goblins can do.
After these Dwarfs I have some Ogre Kingdoms stuff to work on. I've got a box of Ogre bulls and a Butcher to work on. I'll probably throw in some Ironguts and a Tyrant as well to round things out. I'm not sure if I'll play these guys at 2,000 points or not. I was thinking of keeping them to a warband sized force.
On other project fronts, I've got the itch to continue to work in colored pencils. So I'll probably be putting together another girlie painting before long. But I also promised my wife that I'd do a portrait of my son for his 10th birthday. I did one for his 5th, and so it needs to be updated.
Would I shock anyone if I also admitted that I've been drafting out a novel? I've been working on an outline / draft of a novel since last May. It's a historical novel set in the Viking age, and not surprisingly it's about Vikings. I've got to give myself some credit for sticking with it, since I'll be finishing the outline soon. This is not your typical outline format, by the way. It combines a lot of description, some dialog, plot tension, etc. It will probably run about 200 single spaced typed pages when it's finished. I'll have to blog about that project as well. It's probably easier to blog about it rather than actually write it.
So, as you can see from all this, I'm very focused on myself and things I do alone. This also might explain why I'm not very achieving in my day job! I've got too much going on in my fantasy world.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Thursday, February 22, 2007
I also consider this a "breakthrough" mini for me. For one, I used a flashlight to determine where to place highlights and shadows, and it really worked wonders for the model. Also, I experiemented with skin tones to get something more "ethnic" rather than the white boy paintjobs I've been doing up until this time. I felt the model looked South Asian or Southeast Asian, and I wrestled with a skin tone mixture that would finally produce what I wanted. I did a lot of detailing, but sorta lost interest when it came time to paint the metals. So all those wonderful swords just got a few thin coats of metallic paint and I just left it at that.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Here are some samples of my Widowmakers for my Khador army. I really like these models. Privateer Press really turns out some quality stuff. This really inspires me to take more time with the paint job. Also, as a complete unit is only 4 models I don't feel bad about taking more time with them. In fact, I'd feel bad if I didn't take more time with them.
Here's a more close up view of the leader's face. In this shot, for whatever reason, it looks like she has a black eye. It must be a trick of the light, as she does not have a black eye in actuality. I sorta lost interest in highlighting all those ammo packs, though. It's just too much for a model that I plan to actually use in a game.
So, here are some pictures. The lighting makes him look a little more glossy than he really is. In fact, I achieved a nice even flesh coat on this one. Through some accident I splattered his belly with brown ink. It ended up enhancing the look of real flesh, so I left them there.
Here's a close up look at his face. I tried to go for the slobbering look and I think it came across nicely. It just enhances the "mean and stupid" feel.The biggest problem I had with this model is the mold lines. I tried to melt them with plastic glue, but that didn't work. So I put green stuff in the lines, and that just worsened it. So I tried to minimize the lines with the paint job. That worked somewhat, but not all that well. It's too bad, as this guy is a set-piece for my army and will get a lot of attention. Well, at least I tried!
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Here's a detail shot of the IFP leader's face. It looks less smooth in this close up than it does in real life. But maybe that's because the camera is more honest than I am about my paint jobs. At any rate, the dude has a lazy eye, I know. That will happen when you spend as much time with blasting charges as he did.