Thursday, April 14, 2016

Adepticon 2016! Seminars: Part 1

     As I mentioned in my original Adepticon post, I way over booked myself this year with twelve hobby seminars. It sounded like such a great idea when I signed up for all of them, but really, it wore me out a bit by the end of the day. I'll probably do a max of 3 each day instead of 4 next year.
     One bummer I didn't foresee was that the first class of each day started before the vendor hall opened and the first evening slot (5-7pm) ended after they were closed. That really limited my exploration time. I should have taken that into consideration when I selected my schedule. I purposely skipped all of the 7:30-9:30pm seminars to accommodate the GNT dinners each night. I also skipped the 10pm-12am slot because, from prior experience, I know I'm too tired at that point to pay attention.
     Now to the seminars themselves. Covered below, in order of attendance, are the seminars I took on Thursday and Friday. The second half of the weekend will be covered in a separate post coming soon.

Liber Metallica with Dave Taylor

     Bright and early to kick off the event was my first class, Liber Metallica. The class is about painting true metallic metals, which is something I find a bit hard and boring (which is why I signed up for two different classes on it).
     Dave gave us some very nice step by steps on how to paint all different types of metals. Included with the class was a small bottle of his "secret" metal wash, which he then tells you how to replicate yourself at home.

Wet Blending & Loaded Brush 101 with Aaron Lovejoy
     This is the class I immediately began referring to as the one that changed my life. I learned two-brush blending about two years ago, but had limited success with it. Wet blending is a totally different animal. For me, two-brush blending was like herding sleepy cats (not quite as hard as alert ones, but close) and wet blending was like herding sheep with a pair of trained collies.

      That was my first wet blend. How long do you think that took? Whatever you're thinking, you're probably wrong. It took about 60 seconds. No joke. Could it be more seamless? Sure. But I think it's pretty smooth for a thing I was trying for the very first time. And I easily doubled my skills with half an hour of practice.
     I actually practiced this one all weekend on Guilliman's cloak. I had been saving that piece of him for last, not sure what I really wanted to do with it. But as soon as I saw that wing, I knew. I actually ended up using the same two colors too, since I wanted his cloak to be red and those colors were handy.
     Now that I have this skill in my toolkit, I can't help but look at a mini and think "wow, a really nice wet blend could go there". And then I just do it. The magic part isn't getting it right the first time, but that you can easily let a rough blend dry, and just do another layer on top to help smooth it out. Seriously easy.
     If you're looking to learn how to blend, this is the class I would recommend.

Vallejo Painting Demos with Angel Giraldez

     This year's very special painter guest was Angel Giraldez. And I got to take this class with him, for free! It was a demo class, all you had to do was sign up before it filled up (which was almost instantly). It was a little about airbrushing, a little about the Vallejo paints, and a little bit about asking questions. It was very informal, just watching him go to town. He painted the face and showed us how to use Vallejo's chipping medium on the armor.
     The best take away, perhaps, was watching him clean his airbrush between colors. He did it like this:
      He loosened the needle, submerged it into the water cup up to the color cup, pushed the trigger, and moved the needle back and forth a little to run all the paint out of the brush so he could switch colors. The whole room gasped at such a brilliant but simple way to do it. I haven't personally tried it yet (my airbrush is designed a little differently so it won't be as fast) but it'll be way better than the super messy method I use now.

Painting Hair with Rhonda Bender
     I always seem to paint some dull looking hair. But no more!
     Rhonda taught us blonde hair but gave us a fantastic handout to help us do other natural hair colors, too. Thinking about the way light hits hair and the way that changes as the hair falls is very helpful and interesting when considering where the light is hitting the rest of the model, too. 
     I put it into practice on Guilliman, too, and gave his hair a little touch up. 
     Plus, the mini we got was a really lovely one from Dark Sword Miniatures.

How to Paint Faster and Better with Anthony Wang
     This class was good, even though I forgot to take a photo. Anthony talked a bit about techniques you can use to make army painting a bit quicker, simple techniques that give that 'better than average' look without taking too much time.
     We practiced them on a mini and then basically just asked questions about what we wanted to know how to do. We did some nice cloth and leather techniques. Very hands on with a little demoing to get us started.

Blood, Puss,Guts, and Gore with Michelle Blastenbrei
     Weak stomach? This class is not for you. But if you're a disciple of Khorne or Nurgle, you need to get your butt to one of these classes. The cost of this one was a little higher than the others, but that's due to the supplies you get to keep. You get a pot of Tamya clear red, a tube of Uhu (desperately difficult to get in the States), a bottle of Vallejo wash, some small cups, and mixing sticks. Totally worth it!

      Michelle was fantastic. She's got a great energy and the class was super fun. The handout she made for us was really awesome. Honestly, huge props to all the painters that made us handouts. They are so helpful when you get home and want to try the technique again on your own.
     The basic effect is achieved by mixing a little Tamya clear red in with the Uhu, which is what gives it those stretchy properties. Using other colors, like the green wash, you can get some lovely puss and gut effects. Definitely worth taking.
     I have a Papa Nurgle in the closet who is just calling for me to try these techniques on him.

Lose the Fear: Green Stuff Miniature Modeling & Sculpting with Joe Orteza
     This was the most expensive class I took, at $42, but entirely worth it just for the tools. We got a set of 4 very nice and super useful sculpting tools to take home with us. So don't let the price scare you off from this on, because if you want to start working on sculpting, it's worth it.

     We made a purity seal, a leaf, a feather, a chain, and a rope. I think I did best on the chain, it was hilariously easy and came out looking pretty neat. I did make the original strand a little too small so it was difficult to get the details all in, but I'm incredibly pleased with it.
     Joe did a really nice job with this class. He used a white board to draw each step as we went along, a very easy way for everyone in the class to see exactly what the step was without a dozen people crowding over him to watch him demonstrate it with greenstuff.
     I definitely lost my fear of greenstuff after taking this class. I'm not going to be sculpting entire miniatures any time soon, but I definitely have the confidence (and the tools!) to make some cool conversions going forward. I highly recommend this class as well.

     Stay tuned for the second half of my classes over the next few days!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

paintRack Review

     Over the weekend, I discovered this fantastic app that all mini painters will love. It's called paintRack and it's for tracking your paint collection. I don't know about you, but I have too much paint to keep track of. And it can be a huge pain in the butt to remember what you have or don't when standing in front of the racks at the game store.

     paintRack lets you to scan the barcode on your current collection to add them to the app. I had a big spreadsheet saved to Google Docs for this purpose, but this is much faster, more user-friendly, and includes a better search function. Paint ranges available currently include Citadel, Old Citadel, P3, Reaper, Vallejo, Minitaire, and Warpaints (the Army Builder paints) and others. You can select which ranges to show and which to hide, too, if you don't use all of them.

     They've recently done updates to include some smaller paint ranges, including Scale75, Andrea Color, and Secret Weapon. When adding a P3 paint by barcode, it selected the wrong paint, which I reported through the app. I added the paint manually instead. Within a few minutes I got a response from the developers asking for more info so they could correct the error. I love when companies are quick to jump on these kinds of things.

     What makes this app really awesome, though, are the additional features: the wish list, paint sets, and color tools. The wish list is simple enough, you track paints that you're looking to buy. Very handy when you're going to the game store. However, each color also has a link to Amazon so you can purchase it on the fly if, say, your FLGS is out of a color you need.

     Where it gets great is with the sets and color tools. Sets allows you to save a particular recipe for your miniatures. Very handy for those large army projects and harder to lose than my paint notebook (which I misplace way more often that I'd care to admit). You can name the set say, Grey Hunters, and then create subsets within it for each item on the minis like Armor, Weapons, Faces, Cloaks and save the paints you used for each in their own subset. So you can pull up exactly what paints you used whenever you need it again. Love it.

     My personal favorite, though, would be the color tools. You can select any one of the paints in the collection and it will help you select complementary, analogous, a triad, or matches from the available paint ranges. I have a tough time trying to select other paints sometimes so that's very helpful to me. It's also handy for helping you start working with color theory.

     You can use the app with some limited functionality for free. You can track some of the paint ranges and scan in pots you have already one at a time. But for $2.99 you can unlock all the features, including every paint line and the Rapid Scan, which allows you to very quickly add lots of paints at once. I had only been playing with it for ten minutes before I knew it was totally worth spending three bucks on it.

     It took me about an hour to scan all 350 or so paints I have across the 6-7 ranges I own (I had no idea it was so many). The Rapid Scan worked really well, except for all the paint pots with barcodes that were old and mangled. Even the best barcode scanner can't help you with that. I had about 40 paints with missing or damaged barcodes that I had to enter manually. But even still, it didn't take very long.

     The app has been out a little over a year and my only complaint is that I didn't hear about it sooner. It's currently only available for Android, but I'm not going to cry over that. I've spent plenty of time waiting months or years for iOS stuff to finally come out on Android, so now it's their turn to wait.

     If you have a large collection of paint or frequently find yourself looking for a good way to track your paint schemes, I highly recommend you check out paintRack.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Roboute Guilliman Reveal

     In February, I took a commission to paint the fabulous Forgeworld Roboute Guilliman. It was both a challenge and a delight to paint him. Even though I have several Primarchs in my collection, he was the first I've actually painted.

     At first inspection, the cast seemed all right, but once I actually sat down to work on him, it was not as great as I would have liked. Normally Forgeworld is excellent at replacing models like that but time was a factor (he took longer than usual to arrive in the first place) so I had to do a bit more work on him than I should have.

     This was especially true of the stone pillars. They weren't nearly as flat and squared off as they should have been. I had to do some greenstuff work to even them out a bit but it all worked out in the end. The marble was the hardest part of the whole miniature, hands down. I'd never painted marble before so I did some practice runs before I started on him. That's probably where I spent the most time.

     I "finished" his head and the banners first and set them aside as I worked on others. I actually brought the whole model to Adepticon with me (he made the trip in my carry-on bag because you just know my checked bag would have gotten lost if he'd been in it) to get some tips. I took a class on painting faces and used those techniques and advice to make a few small changes to his face that really made him look much better.

     At Adepticon, I also learned several nice blending techniques that I decided to utilize on his cloak. Wet blending is the technique I used on it, and it's changed my entire outlook on how to blend anything. It makes even basic blending really, really easy. My first few blends weren't very smooth, but with just a little practice they got much better.

     I'm very please with how he turned out, even the marble. I struggled with that part more than anything else. But the best part is knowing that the client was happy. Guilliman was commissioned by a group of people as a gift for their friend. They were kind enough to send me a photo of him when he received the mini and that made my day.

     Now that he's done, I am taking a little time off commissions. Maybe to work on some painting for myself or maybe just to finish up school. I've got 10 weeks left until graduation and I've been burning the candle at both ends since August. So taking commissions off my plate will help a bit with that.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Adepticon 2016!

   Another year, another fantastic Adepticon! Every year this event gets better and better and 2017 is going to have a lot to live up to after this year's event. I went with Geek Nation Tours this year, and it was an absolute blast. I'll be doing a separate review of the tour later in the week.

     This year, I opted to leave my armies at home and do nothing but painting seminars. I signed up for 12 of them. It was way, way too many. They were scheduled in two hour blocks, half an hour apart. So I only have about 30 minutes between classes to run and grab food or sprint to the vendor hall. I did a lot of speed walking through the event. I stopped int a few tournaments, too, but not as many as I had hoped. There's always more to see and do than you can pack into a single weekend.

     Next year (because I dearly hope to return next year) I'll try to limit myself to 9 max. But who knows what awesome artists they might have next year? Could foil my carefully laid plans. I'll be doing a two part post on classes over the next couple days, one on Thursday/Friday classes and the second on Saturday/Sunday classes.

     I got a VIG swag bag (perk of GNT, actually). It was even better than the previous year's, but that's a separate post, too. But I was disappointed to find out that the VIGs did not get early access to the vendor hall again. Last year we got in half an hour early (if I recall correctly) but they decided not to do that this year, for whatever reason. Not a big deal, but I was looking forward to it.

     As last year, they had the fantastic painting area set up near the seminar rooms where you could go and sit for a spell, work on some minis, and chat with the huge variety of talented individuals who came by. I ran into a lot of old friends this year and made some new ones, too. That might be my favorite part of the whole con. I just wish I had left myself a little more free time to spend time there.

     Wyrd made an appearance in the vendor hall which was fantastic. Forgeworld returned again as did many of last year's vendors. Reaper had a big booth, too, as well as their awesome "paint and take" tables over by the Crystal Brush displays. Disappointingly, Scale 75 did not return this year. I had been planning on spending some money at their booth.

     All in all, this year was a great experience. I got some great stuff, hung out with some awesome people, and learned an absolute ton about painting. More than before, I'm feeling inspired by the hobby again.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Adepticon Time, Once Again

     It's almost time for my annual mini vacation to Adepticon! I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to some time off. Audits, exams, papers- I'm just brain-drained. Two days of work left until I am vacation-bound. I already have vacation-itis.

     But, as you can imagine, I'm not going to have much time for R&R. I'm taking twelve hobby seminars so... who needs rest when there are minis to ogle? I'm also going as part of the Geek Nation Tours crowd this year. I am really excited about what they have in store for us. Some of the things on our itinerary are quite tantalizing.

     A few of the classes I'm signed up for include wet blending, Blood, Puss,Guts, and Gore (very excited about this one), and painting hair. I'm going to be extra prepared this year, bringing all the little things I forgot last year (like my good brushes) and a few things I didn't have- like a lamp. I had some down time I wanted to spend painting, but had no good lighting. I bought a portable lamp, so problem solved.

     I'm honestly not sure if I'm more excited about the event or just the time away from work/school. I've been burning the candle at both ends for 8 months now, and it's starting to wear me out. Grad school is far more time consuming than I thought it would be. But, it'll be over 3 short months from now. If I keep telling myself it's short, maybe it'll start to feel true.

     On the plus side, at the conclusion of my graduate program, we're going on a class trip to Ireland for some "global perspective". Whatever, a mostly free trip is a mostly free trip! I'll be in Ireland at the end of June and then I'll be heading over to England in early July. I will absolutely be making a stop at Warhammer World while I am in the neighborhood. Honestly, that's what I'm looking forward to most about the trip. That and an excursion to the Jameson distillery to forget everything I spent the last year learning about accounting.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Old School Swooping Hawks

   I just finished up a bit of a fun commission. I got a handful of half-painted Swooping Hawks and another half dozen unpainted. The client wanted me to match the paint scheme to the partially painted ones and to finish them up.

   It was a bit of a challenge to match the paints. But that made it one of the more interesting projects I've worked on in a while. I spent a fair amount of time mixing and testing and retesting colors until I got pretty close.

   The only bummer about them is how top heavy they are. They did a lot of falling over, so I had a lot of chipped wings to fix.  I sealed them extra well just to be sure they don't do any chipping in the future.

   It doesn't look like it from the cobwebs on the blog, but I have done a ton of painting lately. Lots of posts coming up over the next few weeks.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015 Year in Review

   2015 has come and gone. It was a rollercoaster of a year, that started on a really, really low note but has happily ended on quite a high one. Hobby-wise, I've struggled, but in every other aspect of my life I am so much better than I was a year ago. So all in all, 2015 was pretty legit.

Hopefully you didn't drink as much as Party Troll.
   I really only set one goal for myself for 2015, which was to paint more. I failed on that front pretty hard. To be fair to myself, when I set that goal, I didn't know I was going to be in school for the latter half of the year. I also started a new, more demanding job, so between the two, I haven't had much hobby time.

   But that isn't to say I haven't painted at all. Just not as much as I would like to have painted. I worked my way through several commission projects and had a lot of fun with those (especially the Fire Dragons). I never really went full tilt into commission painting as I had intended, for the same reasons I didn't paint much. But I am hoping to really get that together after school is over (in June).

   I still managed to do 3 events- Adepticon, Historicon, and NOVA Open. I had a ridiculously good time at Adepticon, and I am very much looking forward to attending this year in 2016. I've signed up for 12 hobby seminars which is... ambitious. But I want 2016 to be the year of leveling up my painting skills. I'm definitely on track for that.

   Historicon was enjoyable as always. I made a killing at the Wally's Basement flea market. I bought some assorted miniatures that were just cheap (AoS just came out so Fantasy stuff was at steep discounts) and I picked up a good half of a Tyranid army. I've since collected a whole army and am looking forward to working on them. I'd like them to be my big project of 2016 but I think I'll wait for a new codex first. Shouldn't be too long.

   2015 unexpectedly turned out to be Year of the Board Games for me. I started playing board games in a big way. I received my Blood Rage pledge and my Zombicide Black Plague as well. I can't speak highly enough of Blood Rage, it's possibly my favorite board game now. But I've also gone through several Fantasy Flight titles I'd never tried before, and about another dozen besides that. 2016 will probably be just as big for board games, which I am really looking forward to.

   I did a lot of things for myself this year- started taking better care of myself (especially mentally) and I am in a much better place than I think I've ever been. I'm greatly looking forward to what 2016 has to offer, both personally and professionally.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Hammer in the New Year 2016

   My little baby tournament is now a teenager. After an unfortunate hiatus in 2015 for personal reasons, Hammer in the New Year returns for 2016 better than ever- and under new management! Phil (you can find him over at elphilo) will be running it this year as a 2-day GT. But I couldn't let my baby go on entirely without me, so I will be running the paint judging.

   Phil has been running our local RTTs for some time now, and after I saw the logo he had commissioned for the event, I knew I left it in capable hands.

   The tournament will be on January 23-24, 2016 at Huzzah Hobbies in Ashburn, VA. It is a 5 round event, at 1850 points, and will be ITC format. Entry fee is $40. Pre-registration is preferred, there are only 32 spaces. So please email Phil at elphilo40k (at) gmail dot com for Paypal instructions or you can pay in person at Huzzah Hobbies to secure your space.

   Information on the ITC format is located here, as well as the ITC FAQ.

   The event schedule is as follows:

  • 9:00 am Check-In
  • 10:00 am Round 1 
  • 1:00 pm lunch (and paint judging)
  • 2:00 pm Round 2
  • 5:15 pm Round 3
  • 8:30 am doors open
  • 9:00 am Round 4 
  • 12-1230 pm lunch
  • 12:45 pm Round 5
  •  4:00 pm Award Ceremony
   There will be some awesome prizes (check Phil's blog for updates on what they will be when he releases them). If you have any questions about the event, please contact Phil for the most accurate response.

   We will be releasing the painting rubric very shortly.

   I look forward to seeing some of you there!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Goodbye, Game Parlor

Today, my very first Friendly Local Game Store will close its doors forever. It was announced late last month that the owners will be retiring and "the store with every type of game" will be no more.

I've played these nerdy games a long time, but it wasn't until I moved to Northern Virginia that I found my first true FLGS. I'd been to many in my MtG days but none of them were "my" game store. They were just a place I bought cards and played sometimes.

But Game Parlor was different. It became special to me. It's where I cut my teeth on 40k, and where I met many of the people I now delightfully call friends. I have so many fond memories of this place. I ran my first tournament there. I won my first prize there- smoking boots for last place (which was a new set of dice). I even nearly got snowed in there when I went for a game of 40k on a day it was supposed to flurry but turned into nearly a foot of snow.

On Sunday, the community threw them a farewell potluck. One last hurrah. It was nice to see so many familiar faces there one last time. I couldn't help but get a little choked up when Cindy did, as she gave a small speech thanking us, when really, it should be us thanking her for nearly 25 years of gaming.

Game Parlor will be missed. I wish Rob and Cindy all the best.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Eldar Fire Dragons

   I got a delightful break from bikers to work on a box of Eldar Fire Dragons this week. The client wanted them ASAP, so they went from box to table top in 6 days. Considering my normal speed is kind of slow, I'm pretty proud of that.

   These were a lot of fun to paint. I haven't had much opportunity to work with yellow and orange on this scale before. I pulled out the airbrush for the base yellow and base orange. These are single piece figures (except for the big gun) so I couldn't have just left their heads off and airbrushed them separately. And they're Finecast which meant fixing a bunch of messed up details.

   After a little creative masking, I was able to use the airbrush for both colors without issue. I used one of the new Citadel Air colors for the orange. I had to thin it a bit more than I expected, but it went through the brush well enough. Too bad the paint pot is total rubbish for using it with an airbrush. I have no idea why they would sell airbrush paint in normal pots. Looks like I'm investing in some dropper bottles.

   I'm very pleased with how the orange turned out on them. These dudes are all shredded (criminy, look at those buns!) so it gave me plenty of opportunity to play around with the highlighting on them. I've also exceeded my butt jokes quota for the month.

   When I turned them over to the client, he handed me a pile of Swooping Hawks (with a two week turn around), so you'll be seeing more Eldar again soon. Those will be fun because half are painted but require touch ups and the unpainted half he'd like me to match to the first half. I'll try to take a few more photos of the process with them.
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