Wednesday, April 30, 2014

This Isn't Even My Final Form!!!

Finally photographed, continuing from the last post, here's my finished version of Viktorias, Avatars of Slaughter!

Their faces are manic, which I attempted to accentuate as much as possible, and their skin has been made red-tinged. Otherwise the clothing colours were entirely picked to be identical with their non-avatar forms, which I painted alongside.

You can also see the final touches on the lantern: Cracked glass and a few shards on the ground itself.

The barrel, after all its washes and drybrushes ended up looking wonderfully weathered, and once the stones had a final black-line wash in the gaps, they felt right as well. You can see the blade is also done with a more red-gold than I would typically use, simulating the sword's desire to suck up blood. Otherwise, the models have little to no blood displayed, which I'm debating whether or not to change. On the one hand, adding it to the ground makes sense, because slaughter. On the other, I kind of like the way it looks right now and don't want to mess with it!

From the other side; the Viktorias blades have been painted using a NMM-style, but with metallic paints, which I prefer because you still get the light-glint, and have enforced the classy NMM look. I may yet have to touch up a few things, I suspect, as is always the case when someone starts looking at photographs of their models.

You can see the one thing I had to convert for these models; Viktoria of Blood's arms did not have the armour that her non-epic version has! It's so clear these models were made to imitate the former, and the detail level on the forearms is thin enough I suspect it was supposed to be there, and was just forgotten. I can't imagine she takes the time to remove armour while going all Avatar...

And for those who are curious, here's a focused shot on the giant sword. You can see how the light picks up the shine, and the gold's ruddier look. To get that, I first paint the gold parts silver, then wash over it with my gold paint thickly. Next it's a wash of red (currently I'm using GW's red wash) and then Agrax Earthshade (dark sepia brown, also GW) before re-touching with gold and silver to bring out the highlights again. For consistency, all the gold on these two was done that way.

And that's the Avatar! Soon I shall have the rest of the crew up as well, and comparison shots of avatar/non-avatar Viktorias. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Crafting A Base Worthy of Avatars

I knew I wanted to do something special when it came to the base for Viktorias, Avatar of Slaughter. It's a 50mm base, and they're not exactly very large, so there's lots of space to fill. I intentionally kept the bases of the Viktorias crew very straightforward and mundane, because they're meant to be a bit the dregs of the Malifaux world. Cobblestones, dirt, basic pavement, docksides, all preferred for those whose jobs are not taking them into the fancier halls and districts.

That said, these are avatars! So what I figured I'd do is combine the mundane roadside with something that would distinctly reference their character. Something appropriate to both. After debating it for a good long while, I had the idea of again using a lantern, but this time depicting it sliced in half, broken to the ground, and a keg split likewise. Both would be victims of the wild sword cuts these two women engage in during their avatar unleash.

First up, the road itself, and lamp post. It's the pike shaft whose hand decorates my metal Taelor model, topped with plasticard to form the core of the lantern. I knew I wanted to do clear plexi, since the lamp's been shattered. The road itself was kept as mundane looking as possible, since I still did want people's eye drawn to the model itself, not what they're standing on.

Next, as with all good rivet-counter-y projects, Math! Plasticard and pencil make a great erasable pair, and you don't have to go searching again for the scrap of paper you wrote it all down on. I, being a genius, accidentally figured out the area of my keg diameter, rather than the circumference, so I cut off twice as much plasticard as needed. (I'll find a use for the other barrel's worth of plasticard on some other model, to be sure.)

Next came careful scoring, the plugs for either end, and a length of plastic rod to act as a spacer in the middle. Eventually, knowing this keg would be sliced in half, it would need to be gone, but while I was gluing the curved pieces in, it was absolutely necessary.

Next, after cutting out each piece, they were filed so they tapered towards the ends. I was okay with them not meeting entirely flush - after all, this is going to be for a wrecked barrel anyway - but I did want them to line up somewhat properly. Here my awesome ruler holds them for the camera, and also to keep the drying pieces from accidentally adhering to my cutting surface. Each piece was pre-curved, dry fitted, sanded, and glued in.

Once I got near the halfway point, I carefully used a craft knife to extract the central peg, leaving the barrel empty looking but in one piece. I glued the rest of the slats in, and then scored the beams lengthwise to look like wood.

After that (and unphotographed) was taking a jeweler's saw and cutting at an acute angle across the barrel. I wanted it to look very anime: A slice so keen and swift the barrel was entirely bisected before it had the chance to move or react. (Before cartoonishly gushing forth 'blood' in the form of water, just like a samurai manga!)

Here's the barrel and lamp in place: The barrel was given some liquid greenstuff on the cap to texture like wood, and help adhere the planks. After this I wrapped a thin band of tinfoil around to simulate the metal bands that hold a keg together for real. Next it's painting time!

First, the stones get a drybrush of grey, followed by a drybrush of pale sand. The barrel too at that point got a heavy drybrush of pale sand to make it look like old dead wood. A mild brown wash and some more sand drybrush and it looked appropriately like a nice weathered old keg that would be left out on the street.

For the cobblestones, I mixed up a very thin wash of each of the following colours, and selectively picked out stones in: Leather brown, scab red, a pale green, violet, and darker grey. This helps break up the overall drab of the stone, and done subtly enough, imitates the natural colour variance of cobblestones without seeming too brilliant.

Here's a larger shot of the final stone effects and the keg in weathered form. Note the bands have yet to be painted in a darkened metal colour, nor the lamp post cleaned up to shiny black paint with chips taken off.

The final step is adding self-leveling gloss gel to the bucket (in thin coats) and road itself to simulate the water draining out of the barrel and into the drain. Before painting the ground water, I washed the area it would go with gloss black, to make the stone look wet.

And that's the base! As soon as I can photograph and edit the pictures, I'll have my finished Viktorias crew up and online, with the finished Avatars and their base!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Malifaux Deck Update

At long last I have managed to play a round or two of Malifaux! Believe it or not before this I had just read the rules and been painting figures. My fiancee and I sat down and did some very basic "learn the mechanics" skirmishes, and I was immediately struck by how important the "weak/moderate/severe" indicators on the deck can be! Rather than flipping in or trying to memorize, just having a little pip right there to show is fantastic. (She was using the snazzy rustic fate deck, while I was playing with my silver cards.)

I also decided on a back-of-card design, which I've done a quick mock up of as well. While the ripple pattern halftone was an interesting start, I wanted to go a different direction with it. What I've attempted should look clearer and creepier the further away you get, but I'll have to make sure it's just the right amount of distinct and subtle, probably with a few test prints.

Enough talk, here's the cards!

Weak damage, as exemplified by this ace card, will have but a single subtle slash in the top-right corner. I've also compiled the look of the ace of spades, and added a test-sample version of the parchment feel I will be using for the cards eventually. Sure by this time they were capable of crafting pure white paper, but where's the fun in that?

Moderate damage, here modelled by this fabulous eight of masks, is denoted by two pips. I was tempted to go fancier, like the arabesques, but I realized I'd rather keep them easily distinguishable, and not at all something that could be confused for the rest of the design. Originally, I was going to feature a look like this as Weak, with two lines denoting a kind of box, but I realized as soon as I put in the Moderate damage (with three lines) that it just ended up looking more confusing.

Last, as an utterly shocking change in design, the king here models severe damage. Three pips! What a departure from the previous two! I've debated back and forth modifying the default look of the face cards. On the one hand, the more unique they are the better, but on the other, I want them to look like 'normal' cards, and too much modification means I have to play a very tough game of design. I may in the future (if this does well) make a special edition with fancier suits, but that'll be far, far off if it does happen! (Also, ignore the inner gray box: those are the template lines from the card company.)

Finally, the back of the cards. Doing it in sepia like this has made me realize I will have to strengthen the lines on the N and S skulls, as well as the wing details and width of some other details across the board.

On to the important bit though! Rather than the ripple pattern of the last iteration, here I've used one of the free vector skulls already on the pattern to make a subtle skull in the midst of an otherwise relatively plain field. I may have to tone back the skull still further to make it more subtle; what I want is the pattern to be more apparent the further away you are. Up really close, an interference dot pattern. Further away, a very creepy skull gradually resolves. This way anyone walking past the table, or seeing the deck from a distance will be suitably creeped out by the sight of it.

Thoughts on this are especially welcome. I'm not entirely settled yet on some of these designs, so input is welcome always. Enjoy!

Also, I think I have, through editing, ended up with a deck that has no copywright-related images, objects, etc. in it, so I may even be able to print these for others! I was careful to only take vectors from free offer sites, and everything else is original work. I'll try to find a way to make these available once I get the first run done.

I am also hoping to do a unique card case for them. The website sends them out in plastic cases, but we all know they should be in paper sleeves. Once I work out a nice simple design for those, I'll post them as well.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Hired Swords Bases

As I work at finishing up the painting for my old-version Viktoria crew, I figured I'd show some progress I've been up to in regards to the new "Hired Swords" box. So far I've been assembling, basing, and debating converting.

I don't think I'll end up using the new crew as a Viktoria crew specifically, unless I need to travel with my force, because I don't especially like the new pair as Viktorias. They're not twin enough!

 In the meantime, here's the rest. Taelor is on a fairly standard paving stone looking base, but with a couple nice pavement cracks right where her hammer has come down. I like the look of the new Taelor much better. The pose is interesting, and the hairpiece as far as I am concerned needs to be inverted, but otherwise, her outfit makes more sense, the hammer looks more archaic rune-axe, and the mechanical arm looks more mechanical, and less like she just forgot to put on the rest of a suit of mail.

The Student of Conflict is incredibly similar to the previous version. I've modeled her on standard paving stones; I figure the Viktoria crew is mostly fighting around and in the cities and alleyways, and have tried to reflect this on their bases. I know some folks were having problem with the ponytails breaking, and I likewise had an issue, but nowhere near like the issue I had with Vik of Blood's arms...

The three Ronin likewise reflect the road-feel of the crew: One straddling a gutter of some kind, the other two on relatively standard stone bases. I know some folks have had issues with the look of the new ones, but I have a theory to explain it I'll go into when I get them all painted up.  The centre Ronin's base was the most complex of these to do. After putting down the putty flat, I used a length of plastic cylinder to press into the center, giving both the ditch, and a surrounding bump that helped define it. After that it was a simple matter of using a tool to etch lines, and I've just done basic stippling on the bottom. When they're painted I'll add some self-leveling gloss gel to make it look like a puddle.

Finally the Viktorias themselves. Viktoria of Ashes will have a lamp stand, and I will be hopefully doing a source-light paint scheme for her, and probably for Viktoria of Blood as well. Since I already have a playable pair of Viktorias, I'll go to town making these two look all diorama-cool. With that in mind I made the paving stones line up properly, and that's fairly close to final arrangement, again if I do a full diorama setup.

Viktoria of Ashes is even standing beside the curb with a drain! The light post has since been detailed more and actually looks like a Victorian style (Viktorian?) lamp post. It should be fun to paint them, but they're benched behind a few other things, so it'll take me a bit to get them done.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Ten Thunders, One Leader

I knew I had to do something special with Misaki. She has sat on my desk longer than any other model in the faction, just because I wanted to make sure she felt right. I'm still not certain I nailed it, but I reached a point where I wouldn't be improving if I put on more paint. With that in mind I finished off the final details I could see and set her aside. I may yet add some grass tufts or bushes to her base, but otherwise she's done!

Her pose is a very dynamic one, and I decided to play to the arrogance in her fluff by having her acrobatic maneuver take place so she's still delicately balanced on the stone in the zen garden. To reflect her impulsive nature, despite the delicacy, it's ruined by her other leg high-kicking lightning everywhere.

I would have removed the lightning, in all honesty, if it weren't that it would leave her utterly without an independent stabilization point, and part of her toe is part of the lightning piece!

As for the painting: I knew she had to be almost entirely red, and a bright bold red at that. She's not shy or subtle, and a big bold red would reflect that. It also helps that red is an important colour in both Chinese and Japanese culture. Yellow is likewise important, being either royal or noble colours in each. This helped make a good secondary point and completed the colour wheel when the blue was added in. It's a bit of an obvious primary, but again, she's not subtle!

Her blade was done in what's becoming my favourite way to paint metal: NMM with metallic paints. In this case, I worked in a few blue-green glazes to give the blade an unusual sheen, and also to reinforce the blue-green of her headpiece and leg armour. The main plates of her gear is bronze, to match the yellow a bit closer.

I of course had to go crazy on kimono details. This time it's lots of flowers (cherry blossoms primarily), with ferns, a nice little pond, etc. I wanted her outfit to look incredibly expensive, and not at all combat-based, as a method of displaying contempt to her opponents and a desire to primarily be the centre of attention. I tried to make the lightning arc as detailed as possible, but it's a bit of a tough one to really nail down...

In this pic you can also see the zen garden itself. Easiest way to make that is smear some greenstuff over the base as flat as you can manage, moisten your thumb, and press it in firmly and evenly. You'll get a good set of grooves, and all you then need to do is drop on some bits of larger sand, work grooves around said stones, and presto: Zen garden!

More details, closer-up this time. Her facial covering has more blossoms, the back has a coiled dragon, and on her leg you can see those details.

With that, my Ten Thunders crew is done! Now I work at finishing up hired swords, paint some Pandora folks, and convince the fiancee to field one of the forces! If she gives me permission, I'll show how she's figuring out making a LCB all Cthuloid.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Ototo, alongside Shang

As part two of my Ten Thunders Leaders, I've got pics of Ototo! Misaki's brother is a beast. Sure he's all hunched up, but if you measure out his height if he were standing, he's a good head and shoulders over the next tallest Malifaux model it looks like.

I love the idea of this model, but I have to say the pose is a bit strange. I converted him to be more over his own base, but the default has him pretty well not at all actually situated on his base. Also, I can not say this enough: If you want to do a good job painting him, leave him at least partly disassembled. I should have left his helmet off entirely, and perhaps even left his arms disconnected from his torso! I kind of did what I could for his front, but it is nowhere near the level of detail I could achieve if I wasn't having to bend space-time just to get to his mask!

I did a simple pattern on his clothes, in a rich blue meant to contrast the armour, and to look like traditional robes of a warrior. His hair is a simple grey, as is most of the ground. I did little jags of lightning, because of course, and like Yamaziko, he's got lots of red on him.

His helm is painted in a way I'm trying to perfect, which is a NMM style (non-metallic metals) but with metallic paints. This way you still get the significant shine in person, but have controlled to make the 'colour' really rich and deep.

Also, according to Google Translate and a few other sites I used to verify, the symbol on his helmet means "Thunder" (or "Lightning") in Japanese, because again, Ten Thunders...

Originally I was going to make his club solid metal, but I changed it at the last minute to be wood. I have to say, the club lacks a lot of detail, so be very careful when spraying it or trying to paint it.

If I ended up with another Ototo, I would go whole hog on making him standing. This pose doesn't seem to fit his persona fluff-wise. Other than that, neat model.

Because that was just one set of photos, I shall also include Shang, Misaki's sidekick/familiar:

I know I'm not the only one to say this, but there is absolutely no reason for him to be on a small base. If they're concerned about corpse tokens (which I don't think he drops) they could give him the "willowy" rule they gave Yamaziko.

So, on to talking about how to paint fire. There's two ways with models. The first is to paint the darker reds towards the base/core of the flame, highlighting to white as you move towards the tips of the fire. Problematically, that isn't how fire works in the real world. The other option is to imitate real fire: White at the hottest/brightest, moving through yellow to orange. I've tried that on this guy, base-coating him in white, and then highlighting him up through the yellow and orange stage. The last orange step was so necessary, because before that he looked like a popcorn demon, not a fire demon.

And just for fun, another over-lit image showing how he would appear as fire:

Shang and Ototo are certainly the weaker two models in the Ten Thunders box, I think. Misaki's nice and dramatic, the Torakage are so distinctive and evocative, but these two have enough flaws that I wish I could edit...

Next time, Misaki herself! Then I have to get back to painting a bunch for my next run of stuff.