Saturday, April 26, 2014

Lead Painters League 8, Round 5

"When You Don't Pay the Foederati..." my Round 5 entry. These 28mm mounted Dark Ages figures are from various sources. I ended up losing this contest by only 16 votes -- 229 vs. 213!
 I had primed these figures up months ago. They are to be used for my Dark Ages skirmish campaign that I intend to run for the guys at the Sunday night gaming group. I'd painted a batch of six mounted 28mm troops earlier, and these were the last of the ones I owned. In addition, they were pretty much the last figs I needed to paint up to be able to start the campaign.

So, when I saw one of the theme rounds for the Lead Painters League was "Ancients," I figured these would be a good fit. They're at the outer edge of the period, as many consider the Dark Ages to be more medieval than Ancient. I felt that would be splitting hairs, and figured I would bill them as mounted Germanic tribesmen used by the Romans as foederati (allies).

One major difference between how I paint up 28mm mounted and 15mm ones is I go for a more realistic look on the horses. In 15's, I had basic colors I painted them -- a couple shades of brown, a gray, black, white, etc. The only real variety was in the white spots I put on their legs or faces. A couple years ago, though, I painted up a large number of mounted Wild West figures as a commission for my friend, Joe. I did a lot of research, and found a page which has more than 70 simple colored drawings of various classes of horses. Since then, I've used that page to paint up my 28m horses, supplementing the small drawings with Google images of that type. I've been really happy with how my dappled grays have come out using real horses as a model. I also liked the way in this batch the chestnut turned out. His subtle coloring and shading makes him (her?) my favorite.

I thought I did a pretty good job on the details for these figs. I even tried to up my game by highlighting the colors on the shields. I learned that technique from Joe of the "An Hour of Wolves and Shattered Shields" website. Of course, he is 10 times better at me than it, but still, any improvement is an improvement. And that being my final goal for participating in the Lead Painters League, I am happy with how these came out. I thought my scene was staged fairly nicely. The title was supposed to be "When You Don't Pay the Foederati" (the guy in charge dropped the "when"). The implication is if you don't give your barbarian allies cash, they're going to take their payment by raiding villages. And that was the scene I depicted.

Prior to that round, I had mentioned to a friend that the previous 4 rounds had all been clear wins or losses. I'd had no close matches. I should have watched out what I wished for! I started out ahead in this matchup with some nicely-painted 28mm gladiators (though I thought mine were nicer...haha!). I was up all sunday in the voting, and by as much as 17 votes. It remained close, though, and was cut to a less than 10 vote lead by Tuesday. Suddenly, on Wednesday, the voting reversed. I was down by less than 10, and finally just under 20. It was a very strange reversal, I thought. Usually, early voting is a great indicator of how a race will go, but this was not the case in this round. When I checked earlier today (the final day of voting), I was down by more than 10 points, which will be a loss. If I somehow squeeze it to within 10 or less, it becomes a draw. No biggie -- just a bit mystifying.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Lead Painters League 8, Round 4: 28mm Conquest Miniatures "Winter" Indians

NOTE: I changed this to my Round 4 entry after photographing it...
My Round 4 entry in the Lead Painters League: Winter Hunt. These 28mm Conquest Miniatures Indians came up short against a well-painted entry 380-128, dropping me to 2-2 in the league.
In honor of the cold and snowy winter we've had this year, I thought I should paint up Conquest Miniatures' pack of 28mm Indians in winter dress. Even though round 2 will be right around April, I wouldn't be surprised if winter has yet to release us from its grasp. I realize now that this probably wasn't the most practical purchase I've ever made. Four of the five Indians I painted up are wearing snow shoes -- which means I'll have to flock them on a snowy type base. That means they won't match the rest of my Indians, and will look quite out of place on an ordinary, non-winter battlefield. Oh well...I bought them because they looked cool. And whether I find many uses for them on the tabletop or not, they will still fulfill that purpose...!

Although the pack contained six miniatures, I am trying to be ultra efficient in this Lead Painters League and paint the minimum five figures per round -- at least when I do 28mm figs. I decided to be even more efficient by painting this batch simultaneously with another set of five Indians. Painting 10 28mm figures at a time is probably about as big as I want to go. It was helpful to have them all at the same stage -- base coating, dry brushing, detailing, and so on.

I started with the flesh, like I usually do on 28mm figures. I paint Indians a base coat of Iron Wind Metals Red Brown, then dry brush Howard Hues Middle Eastern flesh, followed by a highlight of Ceramcoat Flesh. One of the figures is in what appears to be a coat made out of animal (bear?) skins. The other four wear thigh length tunics. As I often do when pondering what colors to paint minis, I examined a good source. In this case, "The Narrative Art of Robert Griffing: Vol. II, The Journey Continues." This large book has dozens of reproductions of the artist's paintings. Pretty much all of them are from the French & Indian War period, or right around that time. I picked out my colors, matched them up with the paints I own, and wrote down the details on the temporary cardboard bases I glue figures onto to handle while painting.

Lately, I've been experimenting with using washes instead of simply dry brushing everything. Two of the figures used this technique, while on the other three I employed the more common base coat and dry brush. Since I would be entering these in the contest, I added quite a bit more beadwork and decorative details on the Indians clothing and equipment. When it came time to add their warpaint, I went back to the Griffing book for more inspiration. Though expensive, the book is an incredible resource as Griffing's work is authoritative and highly regarded.

When it came time to wash the figures, a semi-disaster struck. Since I am getting down towards the end of the bottle of ink wash I'd mixed up, I'd noticed it produced a much darker color than I really wanted. So, thinking to thin it down, I added in some distilled water. For some reason, this caused a dirty fog or sorts to appear in different spots on the figures. After all that time and work on them, it was pretty annoying to have this happen. I'd read online that a shot of clear gloss will often "erase" a fog caused by spray clear coats. So, I decided to try something similar here. I purchased a bottle of Vallejo Clear Gloss arcylic resin paint and brushed it on them. Although it did not fix them completely, it did make the surface look beetter.

I was stumped at first on how to produce a snowy base for the miniatures. Then I remember my old method of using Liquitex modeling paste. It produces a white surface that can be made smooth or rough depending on how much water you add after it is applied. First, I glued some rocks or branches down to be poking up through the snow. Then, I carefully applied it -- constantly having to soak up any that had slopped onto the snowshoes of the figures. Once dry, I applied to watered down washes of the lightest blue I own. Snowfields often have bluish shadows, and I wanted to replicate the effect on the miniatures. And finally, wherever the Liquitex cracked as it dried, I covered this up with white glue and applied a thin patch of Woodland Scenics "Burnt Grass." I was very happy with how the snow bases turned out.

In general, I am still disappointed with what the wash did to the figures. This will probably be the last time I use that ink wash on miniatures. Remember, I did a second batch of Indians simultaneously, so there will be one more entry using it. I plan on trying to add some black paint to the Vallejo Clear Flat paint and see how that works. I will come back and add pictures of the painted Indians after this entry has finished its week-long contest.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Modern Africa Hostage Rescue

My buddy Joel hosted us at his house this past Sunday, and had set up a modern Africa hostage rescue game. He'd found a set of rules off the internet and used the miniatures we had for our own modern Africa games. Why he didn't use the same rules...well, we asked that afterwards...? Here is Joel's entertaining report, along with a couple pictures I took...

20mm modern Africa hostage rescue game hosted by Joel using "Execute" rules
Battle Report: Streets of Raƙumi
Rules:  Execute execute execute!
Mike S, Keith, Allen, Mike D, Tom (each player controlled a fire team of 3)
GM: Joel

Sgt. Daba, situation commander, could not tell how many tribal separatist or hostages were in town.
It was 2000 hours and getting dark, South African advisers thought the terrorists could use the cover of darkness to escape with the hostages. So, Sgt. Daba order the security forces to surround the town and check every building.  The terrorist had exceptional fire control. Luckily, no sniper was set up in town.  As the troops moved through town, reports came in "Building clear, building clear!" Sgt. Daba moved to the local police station, bypassed the security lock, and was attacked by three Sellenduq tribalist with a grenade and holding one hostage.  In the 20-minute gun fight with the well-armed Sellenduqs, Sgt. Daba lost two men before clearing that police station.  (Mike S rescued 1
hostage)

Meanwhile, across town, Yoro -- a town elder -- led two of his sons in the warehouses east of town.  They stumbled across two Abanaban tribalists crouching over an IED. The terrorist fled and so did Yoro and his sons. "BOMB! BOMB! BOMB!" they shouted trying to warn the nearby soldiers. Within seven minutes, the warehouse was destroyed in the explosion.

More action from the game, and a closer look at the ceramic buildings Joel is creating in his art class. The tile street is ceramic, as well.
The South African advisers worked the backside of a street with the local militia.  The militia marked a large building clear, but the South Africans double checked and ran into three hiding Abanaban
terrorists.  The Abanaban threw a pipe bomb that failed to go off, and a 15 minute gun battle inside the large building momentarily stopped the South Africans advance. The South Africans cleared the building and rescued three hostages.  (Mike D rescued the most hostages so "won" the game).



Regular army troops on Sgt. Daba left flank checked and cleared three dwellings as they cautiously approached the fire fight outside the police station.  They stumbled across three terrorists with one
bomb set to go off.  They shot one terrorist, threw a grenade at the other terrorist, rescued one hostage and got away from the building, which then blew up. (Keith rescued 1 hostage).

Tom, Joel and Mike S decompress with a game of Strozzi -- kind of an alternate version of the board game Medici
The game went quickly, so we had time. So, we did a quick board game, Strozzi.   We taught Mike D how to play, he won (so we told him TOO much in my opinion). We also learned that Keith is a slooooow pirate.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Lead Painters League, Round 3: Rogers Rangers

My Round 3 entry: Rogers Rangers. These 28mm Conquest Miniatures scouted out my second victory in the league, 466-18.
 After running my French & Indian War game for 8 players at Advance the Colors 2013, I was overjoyed to see how successful it was and how much the players liked the format. This meant I could plan even larger battles! Note the word "plan," because for that game, I had nearly every miniature I'd painted for that period on the table. Which I naturally interpreted as meaning I needed to buy more figs! I picked up two packs of Conquest Miniatures 28mm Rangers, amongst other things. I sorted through them and snagged the five poses I liked best, and scheduled them to be painted for round 3.

One of the things I like best about participating in the Lead Painters League is that it forces me to improve my skills. For this batch, that meant trying a new washing method to give some depth and shading to their green uniforms. My black washes on green clothes never really seem to come out looking that nice. So, it was time to experiment!

Normally, I start out painting the flesh of a figure first -- you know, the "inside out" method. However, washes can get messy, so I did the Rangers' green jackets first. I took a very pale and sun-bleached green (Ceramcoat Stonewedge Green) as my base coat. Then, came the experimenting. I used Ceramcoat Yew Green for the darker wash color. I put a few drops in the palette and added water. My first consistency was too watered down, and added too little shadows. I added another drop of paint, and it was better. It took a third drop before I was happy with the effect it was giving me.

There are a lot of images online and painting guides to help with Rogers Rangers. They show different varieties. For their Indian-style leggings, I chose to make them leather for better contrast. The really interesting part of the Conquest Miniatures Rogers Rangers is how UN-uniform they are. From what I've read, that rings very true. Many times they personalized their equipment. Their jackets may have been one of the few uniform things about them. These figures hold true to that -- especially when it comes to their headgear.

And finally, these were the first batch of figures that used only the new final black wash method I have started. I am using a mix of Vallejo's Glossy Varnish and Glossy Black. I like how it brings out the shadows better than the previous ink wash I was using.

I will post a picture of them painted once voting on their round is complete.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Lead Painters League 8, Round 2: On the Warpath

"On the Warparth," 28mm Conquest Miniatures Indians -- my entry for Round 2










I have always joked that every Sunday morning, when I wake up and check the matchups in the Lead Painters League, I'm secretly dreading seeing myself matched up against "Frank." Well, it finally happened. Frank is a German painter who participated in my first Lead Painters League (#6), but took last year's #7 off. He is without a doubt one of the most skilled painters on the Lead Adventure Forum. And quite possibly, my favorite painter -- at least alongside "Dr. Matthias." So, when I saw that I was matched up against Frank I knew this round would be a loss.

I was disappointed only in that this entry is my favorite of my first four. But that's the way it goes in the LPL! Your best entry ends up matched up against an elite one, while your lesser submission goes up against a more beatable opponent. My disappointment soon disappeared, though, when I saw the score in the match.  No, I wasn't winning. I was holding down close to 40% of the vote, though. To me, against Frank, that is a victory. It is not just a moral victory, but almost an affirmation that, hey, maybe I'm not such a slouch painter! Frank usually slaps down his opponents in the 90%-10% range. And here I was -- an admittedly middle tier painter at best -- giving him a run for his money.

Honestly, I think it is not only because of the miniatures -- which I *did* put all kinds of details I normally wouldn't onto -- but also the staging. My cliff pieces that I created last summer turned out great, and I've talked about them on this blog more than once. They really set off the photo, and may have swayed a number of votes. Couple that with Frank's submission not being one of his usual, drop-dead, stunners, and I gathered quite a few points in this round. Votes equals points, and I came away from my 303-186 loss with a handful more than I would have expected, going in against my opponent. So, in this case, I came away happy with a loss...!