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Miniature painting Miniatures Painting tools Space Hulk WIP it good

WIP it good: trying out the painting handle

For today’s painting progress I queued up my favorite work/create album (shit, one of my overall all-time favorites), Nicolay’s City Lights Vol. 2: Shibuya, and sat down with a couple of Terminators.

First up was yesterday’s throne boy, as I noticed I’d missed a couple of spots. I touched those up, then grabbed my new Citadel Painting Handle (paid link), dropped in Brother Scipio, and took it for a spin.

Throne boy and Brother Scipio

I also switched from painting over a paper towel to using my Gunpla cutting mat. Getting paint on that won’t cause any issues, and when I’m ready to start nipping my Deadzone minis off their sprues and trimming them down, it’s what I’ll be using anyway.

A decade ago, I used putty to affix a mini to a paint pot, wine cork, or other suitable object as a painting handle. It was fine, but always a bit of a pain — and sometimes they fell off. Metal minis in particular would work themselves loose over time.

One of the coolest things about this handle is that working upside-down is a breeze.

Turn that grim frown of eternal darkness upside-down

I also like that it has two “layers” of base grips built in. I’m using the top layer for Scipio. The bulbous grip shape is also easier on my fingers, which are a decade older too . . .

Like the Citadel water cup (paid link), the handle is one of those things that sounded unnecessary at first but is proving to be quite nifty.

Scipio, nearly fully base-coated

I need to finish up the base edges (and a couple hard-to-reach spots by his feet), and then go buy a pot of “Terminator visor/eye green” and dot those in — but apart from that, he’s fully base coated as well.

Base coat colors, as ever for these guys: P3 Khador Red and Marrow White, GW Leadbelcher, Lothern Blue, and Auric Armor Gold. TDB: green for the eyes.

Observations

Having gotten off the assembly line for two miniatures now, I’m 100% happier with this approach (as I speculated might be the case). Sure, it’s less efficient — but given that these miniatures have been in my possession for 11 years, is efficiency really my top concern? Completion is satisfying; seeing real progress in one painting session is satisfying.

I also found myself solidly in the mindful, relaxed yet focused state I talked a bit about in my post on realizing I secretly enjoyed miniature painting — that state of “washing the dishes to wash the dishes, not to have clean dishes,” of enjoying painting for the joy of painting.

Case in point: Brother Scipio, who never met a craft store he didn’t walk out with another yard of locally sourced vellum and a jar of decorative glass gems, is covered in scrolls and jewels. I discovered I love painting the little teardrop-shaped jewels, and I enjoyed taking a deep breath and trying to capture the “tails” of his decorative chest scroll. That feels damned good.

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Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk WIP it good

WIP it good: finished base coating the throne Termie

After mulling it over I decided to try what I’d been toying with after my first WIP it good post: getting off the assembly line and just base-coating one Terminator to completion.

I figured I’d pick one of the miscellaneous pieces in Space Hulk, the dead Terminator on the throne — who is used in exactly one mission, I believe — rather than a mainline squaddie so that if my experiment in shading went wrong I wouldn’t have destroyed one of the primary models.

There was one small problem . . .

Gehenna’s Gold != whatever gold I used before

I have Gehenna’s Gold on hand, which I think I bought as a replacement for some GW or P3 gold that had dried out — whatever I used on the gold accents on my Genestealers (decking bolts, etc.). But it looked coppery, so I tested it on throne boy and yep, that’s copper.

So I made a quick trip to Mox Boarding House, which has a full selection of Citadel paints, to pick up a replacement. You know where this is going, right?

Three gold options, a gold for drybrushing, and…

I wound up with the gold I figured would be the right one, Auric Armor Gold, but just in case I also picked up Liberator Gold and an Army Painter option, Bright Gold. Plus Golden Griffon for drybrushing . . . and AP Toxic Mist in case whatever I’d used for my Genestealers had dried out, and a painting handle because it looked useful and I wished I’d had one earlier today, and two very fine brushes (something I don’t have in my arsenal).

Then I got properly tucked in and wrapped this guy right up.

My first fully base-coated Terminator!

For Future Martin’s benefit I sat him atop his five base coat colors: P3 Khadar Red, P3 Morrow White, and the GW pots of Auric Armor Gold, Leadbelcher, and Lothern Blue.

I’m pretty sure his wax seals and the gems on the throne aren’t supposed to be blue, but red seemed redundant, yellow seemed too likely to conflict with gold, and I don’t have a light green at the moment. I dig the bright blue.

Next I do some reading up on brush shading, pick a couple washes from my Citadel Shade set, and take throne boy to the next level!

Categories
Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk WIP it good

WIP it good: Terminating the weekend

Sharing work-in-progress (WIP) pics seems good for motivation and sounds fun, so here’s today’s WIP: finishing the Leadbelcher base coat on the last of my Space Hulk Terminators.

I paint batches of minis like this assembly line-style, so 100% of my Termies have been primed (with Armory white spray primer) and base-coated in P3 Khador Red. All of them have metallic weapons and other shiny bits, so I moved on to GW Leadbelcher next.

My final four Terminators about to get their Leadbelcher base coat
Three down!
One to go
Today’s foursome complete, about an hour of painting

I realized I’d forgotten to the little vents in the heels of most of them in Leadbelcher, so I fished out the whole squad to hit them all while I still had the pot open.

All the Termies in Space Hulk 3e

That was when I discovered Mister Hammer, who’s in the foreground in the pic above. He’d been tucked into a corner of the Plano box where I’ve been keeping (cough cough mostly storing) these guys and I hadn’t noticed that he still needed a Leadbelcher base coat. Ah well, my eyes are tired now and I’m ready for a break; he’ll have to wait until later, or another day.

Sidebar

I’m also noticing a downside of batch painting vs. completing one model at a time: There are no bursts of accomplishment along the way, as a figure gets finished; instead, it’s one big Tunguska Event of accomplishment all at the end, when 100% of them get wrapped up more or less at the same time. They also look like crap for longer, since every base coat produces a measure of spillover that I won’t fix until I do one final touch-up pass before shading. It still feels more efficient to batch paint, though, but it’s making me wonder if I shouldn’t try switching gears when I get to my Deadzone squads.

One more unrelated observation: This is my first time using this Citadel water cup (paid link), and it’s great. It has a brush rest, a wide base for stability, little striations on the bottom and sides for agitating paint off your brush, and “brush tip-pointing slots” in one side. I wasn’t sure all those bells and whistles would be an improvement over using the giant movie theater cup I’ve used for years (or just grabbing a random mug, etc.), but I used 100% of them in this session and appreciated them all.

Whipping it

Incidentally I think I’m going to preface all my WIP post titles with “WIP it good,” because 1) fuck yeah Devo! and 2) the lyrics to “Whip It” are actually pretty apropos for miniatures painting:

Now whip it
Into shape
Shape it up
Get straight
Go forward
Move ahead
Try to detect it
It’s not too late
To whip it
Whip it good

Devo, “Whip It!”

And in closing, one more stray thought: Today, while holding minis about six inches from my face, I realized it might be time to invest in a magnifier lamp. Another time!

Categories
Miniature painting Miniatures Painting tools

Laser-cut MDF paint racks from WarpedMindGames

My previous storage solution for miniature paints, brushes, and supplies was a fishing tackle box. It was nice for transporting my stuff to a friend’s place to paint together, but that didn’t last long and my paint collection has since outgrown the box.

It was time for a new solution, so I did some homework and landed on two racks from WarpedMindGames on Etsy. I bought the Imperial Paint Rack Linear and the Imperial Paint Rack Mini, both with holes sized for GW pots since that accounts for 90% of my paints. From price point to design, with the WH40K-esque eagles and staggered paint slots, these looked fantastic to me.

They arrive unassembled and smelling like burnt wood — which makes sense, given that they’re laser-cut MDF. Oddly, they smell like Christmas to me; it’s not at all unpleasant.

WarpedMindGames MDF paint racks, fresh out of the box

The larger one holds 45 GW paint pots (they offer other sizes, too) and has some slots for brush storage. This will juuuust about hold all of my current paints. I think.

The large rack

The mini includes a storage drawer, and I figured I could probably use it as a “local travel” rack — basically to stock it and set it wherever the best light is at the moment, which isn’t always at my office desk. (I know I should have a proper lighting setup — or, fucking A, a light arch — but one step at a time.)

The mini rack

I’m going to air them out a bit before assembly, so I extracted them from their shipping bags (they were quite nicely packed, with bubble wrap and all of the more fragile bits shielded from harm) to improve air circulation. Sometime in the next day or two I’ll get them assembled and see if they work nicely — which I expect they will.

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BattleTech Miniature painting Miniatures

Unearthing my old BattleTech miniatures

What’s in this ancient, dusty Games Workshop thundercase?

Why, it’s full of BattleTech miniatures!

My old miniatures case

(This is a great case, by the way. I have no idea if GW makes this particular model anymore, but it’s bomb-proof and has survived at least five moves across three states over the years.)

How full?

Layer one
Layer two
Layer three

Pretty damned full.

Layer one is the legacy of my college friend — whose name, curse my memory, I cannot recall for the life of me — who was big into combined arms battles. We played with beefed-up vehicle rules, 100-ton tanks, and generally many more vehicles than mechs.

Layer three, apart from the tiny hovercraft in the bottom row, is just overflow stuff.

But layer two is the bread and butter for me (as much as I enjoy the tanks — especially the monsters). I can see a couple of minis in there that I’m actually proud of, as well as some primed mechs just waiting for the touch of the brush after all these years.

How many years? My college BattleTech days (the last time I played the game) are 20 years in my rear view mirror, but I was still painting these when I moved to Utah. I have a vivid memory of working on the big green hundred-tonner in layer two in the house my wife and I rented before we got married, so that dates my last paint job here to around 2007.

I recently bought a lightbox, and these are the oldest painted miniatures I own, so I’m going to get the box set up and share and evaluate some of my work in an upcoming post.

Categories
Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk

Do I secretly enjoy painting miniatures?

According to Betteridge’s law, you already know the answer to that question. But I didn’t really know the answer until I started thinking about it over the past couple of days.

I’ve been saying I loathe painting miniatures for years now, and the evidence supports my position: I’ve owned Space Hulk since 2009 — longer than I’ve been blogging on Yore — and the miniatures are still only about 65% painted.

But there’s some counterevidence, too.

I started painting minis when I was a little kid

I was 10-12 when I painted my first miniature, a terror bear from the original TMNT comic. I had no idea what I was doing, so I globbed on some enamel paint — no primer, of course — and, as I recall, cried when I saw how badly it turned out.

But I also painted model tanks with my dad, and although neither of us were what I’d call good at it we weren’t too shabby, either. We did camo paint jobs, painted the detailed bits pretty well — all told, decent work. And it was fun.

I painted a crapload of mechs in high school and college

I dabbled in painting fantasy minis in grade school, but always got frustrated with the results. But high school brought BattleTech with it, and that was more my speed.

Like the tanks I painted as a wee lad, vehicles — and mechs — seemed easier to me than people. I followed White Dwarf tutorials and learned how to drybrush, which was fully a part of my arsenal by college. College was also when I learned to base my mechs with glue and gravel for a more naturalistic look.

The Dip Method brought me back to minis

The Dip Method is really just ink washing/shading, but there’s a magical insouciance to it, a devil-may-care attitude that got me to believe I could do a not-terrible job on my Space Hulk miniatures. Instead of a “proper” ink wash, you dunk the whole mini in floor varnish and shake most of it off — and it really does work wonders, turning a crappy base coat into a “good enough for tabletop” paint job almost immediately. (You still need to drybrush.)

But, years later, with only my Genestealers fully painted, I stalled out on the marines. For so long that my paints dried out. Twice.

Buuuuut I also didn’t abandon the project entirely. Martin circa age 12, poring over the same issue or two of White Dwarf over and over, dreamed of one day playing his own fully painted Space Hulk game. I didn’t want to disappoint the little fella.

Frosting a few graves

When I got into Frostgrave (which I’ve written about extensively here on Yore) I avoided painting — and miniatures — entirely, opting instead for Pathfinder Pawns and prepainted terrain.

But what hit me just this morning was that 90% of my enjoyment of Frostgrave to date was the process. Picking out terrain, testing my setup, hunting down aquarium decor, selecting the right sets of pawns — that was all fun. I’ve only played the game once (it was a lot of fun, but in hindsight clicked less for me than I wanted it to), but I did a huge amount of work to get my set to the point where I felt like I could do it justice.

That enjoyment of the process for its own sake (even though I didn’t realize it at the time) was key. Because I’ve always heard that that’s the key to miniatures as a hobby: enjoying the process of turning an unassembled, unpainted thing into a cool, vibrant model.

Which, I mean: duh, right? But it never really clicked for me.

Thich Nhat Hanh on mindfulness

In The Miracle of Mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh says:

If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future –and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.

Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness

Painting miniatures = washing the dishes.

I’ve always painted miniatures for the end goal, not for the painting. I painted so I could have painted figures for my games, not for the joy of painting.

A little Deadzone, as a treat

As I committed, again, to painting and playing Space Hulk this year, I decided I needed to will myself into enjoying miniature painting.

I also had a chance visit to a hobby store where I encountered Kill Team and the latest edition of Necromunda. Which made me remember how much I liked Necromunda in college, and how much I regretted not buying the OG core box with its amazing punchboard terrain — and down the rabbit hole I went.

But hours of research later, I concluded that Necromunda’s core set terrain in the current edition looks like a bit of a disappointment; I also had reservations about committing fully to this expensive game line. I wanted a core box, OG Underhive-like terrain that I didn’t need to paint, and a Necromunda-like skirmish game with a short play time and a low model count.

That added up to Deadzone, plus a set of Battle Systems Terrain (full-color punchboard, Underhive-style!), plus a neoprene battle mat. And I found myself excited at the prospect of assembling and painting those minis. I read the Deadzone book and felt the same magical feeling that I felt 30-plus years ago reading White Dwarf as a kid.

And so far, this combination of willpower, new perspective, mindfulness, and the joy of Space Hulk and Deadzone is working.

I’ve base coated a couple more colors on my Terminators (assembly line-style). They’re on my desk, ready for more paint at a moment’s notice. And when I paint, I’m not hating life. I’ve restocked my paints and bought a better water cup. I researched primer and sealer and decided to forego my familiar spray cans for the less temperature- and humidity-sensitive brush-on stuff, which really widens my “painting window.” Ditto shading; I figure if I’m brushing on sealer and primer I might as well learn how to brush on an ink wash, too.

Deadzone awaits, models still on sprues — my reward for finishing my Terminators. But my real reward for painting my Terminators is painting — and possibly the rediscovery of an old hobby, experienced with a new perspective, and its transformation into something that brings me joy instead of frustration.

Hold onto your butts

I joked on Twitter that I was considering turning Yore into a blog for posting pictures of my shitty Space Hulk paint jobs, but I was only half-joking. I do want to start blogging more about miniatures, inspired by the excellence that is Warpstone Pile. Not to the point of pigeonholing myself, perhaps; that’s something I try to avoid doing (and hey, my first Yore post is about my wife and I making a screen-accurate Jawa costume, something I’ve done exactly . . . once).

But: miniatures. Posts about them. I’m feeling it. I have a lightbox; I have Genestealers to share; I’m building a paint rack this weekend. Hopefully you’ll come along for the ride.

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D&D Dice Miniature painting Miniatures Miscellaneous geekery Old school RPG community Story games Tabletop RPGs

A digest of smaller Google+ RPG posts from 2012-2015

With the impending shutdown of Google+ — my primary (and generally only) social network and outlet for gaming chit-chat since 2012 — I’ve been slowly making my way through stuff I posted there which, in hindsight, I should just have posted here on Yore.

Some posts stood alone, and should just have been Yore posts all along. I moved those over on their original publication date or on whatever day I happened to be working on them, whichever made the most sense.

But after doing that I was left with a little collection of posts that I like best in digest format — a sort of snapshot of some of what I cared about, tabletop RPG-wise, over the past seven years. It’s as erratic and unfocused as my overall post history on G+, so it feels pretty apropos.

Here they are in chronological order, lightly edited for clarity and to provide context.

February 7, 2012

High school wasn’t very helpful in figuring out who I wanted to be (better at sorting out who I wasn’t) but it was great for figuring out what kind of gamer I was going to spend the next 10-15 years being.

The past few years have made me reassess all sorts of things about how I game and want to game, but the past week or so — a full-bore nosedive into OSR games, hex crawl design, research, and the minutiae of D&D editions — has been mind-blowing and, I strongly suspect, formative.

I’m really curious to see where this leads.

March 22, 2012

This superb definition of hit points over on THE LAND OF NOD would probably have improved most of my D&D games in the past 20 years.

Hit points don’t represent anything solid or real or concrete in and of themselves. Rather, they are part of a complex calculation that boils down to this: “What are the chances that the next moment of mortal peril you experience will be your last.” That mortal peril might be a sword fight, a poison needle, a trap door … anything that might kill you. Most often, hit points relate to combat.

August 16, 2012

All three Engine Publishing books on Studio 2 Publishing‘s shelves at Gen Con (booth 419). That really never gets old!

January 17, 2013

I would love to replace my amethyst Armory dice set someday. The dice at the bottom are all that remain; the rest were chased under couches by cats and lost at friends’ houses while gaming as a kid.

Above them are the closest I’ve been able to get: an orchid Koplow set. They’re really, really close.

And at the top are my very first gaming dice, the d10 and d20 from Lords of Creation (from the very box they’re sitting on). I inked them with modeling paint and sprayed them with matte sealant, which was a pretty terrible idea.

Feb 13, 2013

I started collecting the FR series in 1990 or 1991; I have a vivid memory of reading FR9: The Bloodstone Lands — still my favorite in the series — in the auditorium as a freshman in high school. The arrival of FR8: Cities of Mystery today, more than 20 years later, completes my set of FR1-FR16.

For my money, this is one of the best series of gaming books ever produced, and these little volumes have been a source of inspiration to me for nearly as long as I’ve been a gamer. It feels funny to have them all.

August 25, 2013

After four years, Engine Publishing has a warehouse!

It’s still the office closet, but instead of working out of stacks of boxes (containing books) and moving huge “cheese wheels” of bubble wrap every time I need to ship a book, I can just do it. I have no idea why I waited this long!

December 15, 2013

I just found this while working on the basement. I think I made these in 2006 or 2007 (certainly no later, as I stopped running TT in 2007).

That’s probably the last time I had a business card, come to think of it. I always get less use out of them than I think I will, as much as I like having them.

January 8, 2014

With a hat tip to Brendan S for the idea, here’s a rough breakdown of my 2013 gaming purchases by the categories that sort of made sense to me as I went through them.

There are probably lots of ways I could have done this better, but hopefully I’ll escape the notice of the RPGSTPD (RPG Stats Tracking Police Department) long enough for you to observe my dorkitude.

March 6, 2014

I grew up shopping at The Compleat Strategist in NYC, first at the one on 57th and then at the one on 33rd. Much of my early formative gaming originated from one of those stores.

My friend Stephan just sent me this picture: Engine Publishing‘s two most recent books, Odyssey and Never Unprepared, on the shelf at the 33rd street Compleat.

That right there is blowing my mind.

March 6, 2014

Space marine terminator: “Brother Leopold, I found a flat spot on my armor!

Brother Leopold: “This space hulk will keep — let’s bedazzle the shit out of that flat spot. For the emperor!

Me: “Fuck you, I’m painting that red.

Five years after buying Space Hulk, I’ve finally started painting my marines. As you may have guessed, miniatures aren’t really my wheelhouse.

March 10, 2014

Lords of Creation (1983, designed by Tom Moldvay) was my introduction to gaming in 1987. I never owned its three modules as a kid, but they were all surprisingly cheap so I closed out the line on eBay/Amazon.

Revel in those covers! They’re totally fucking glorious. Plus, the “-akron” in Omegakron is Akron, Ohio and The Yeti Sanction is (as Brad Murray pointed out) a parody of The Eiger Sanction; this isn’t a game that takes itself too seriously.

April 27, 2014

Behold! For I am all of Spelljammer, and I am totally fucking awesome (and underrated).

I’ve loved Spelljammer since I first picked up the boxed set in 1989 or 1990 and moved my campaign there (as I did every time a new setting came out), and as of this weekend I finally closed out the line.

May 19, 2014

It’s 1989. A pimply-faced, floppy-haired Martin, age 12 or 13, was introduced to D&D a few months ago.

He’s standing in The Compleat Strategist on 57th Street in NYC, picking out dice to go with his AD&D 2e PHB, DMG, MC, and Time of the Dragon.

He picks these.

I knew if I was patient I’d eventually find the exact pack my first dice came in. I still have a few of the actual dice; some were stolen by cats or lost under friends’ couches. It’s like stepping into a time machine!

July 12, 2014

I first heard of Living Steel around the time I started gaming, when I was in my early teens. I picked up the boxed set and hardcover rulebook in college, back in Michigan (mid-1990s), and have been slowly acquiring the other supplements ever since.

Today I closed out the line.

It’s so not my kind of game mechanically, but the hook and the vibe and the guts of it are fabulous. I’d love to play it as written and using a lighter system someday.

July 31, 2014

I stumbled into collecting U.S. editions of Call of Cthulhu back in high school and have been slowly doing so ever since. It’s one of my favorite RPGs, and has been for over 20 years. I also enjoy the irony that until the forthcoming 7th edition its rules have remained basically unchanged for 30 years, making it one of relatively few games where there’s no compelling reason to own multiple editions.

Today I added an edition I thought I’d never see, the 25th anniversary edition (white hardcover), and thought that deserved a quick picture. Right to left, top to bottom: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, UK 3rd (also available here, so I mostly count it); 4th, 5th, 5.1; 5.5, 5.6, 20th anniversary, 6th softcover; 6th hardcover, 25th anniversary, 30th anniversary.

To my knowledge, I’m only missing two editions, and my odds of acquiring them seem poor: the designer’s edition of 2e, of which only 200 copies were made, and the “more limited” 20th anniversary edition (gold Elder Sign on the cover).

September 13, 2014

My desk, where I do Engine Publishing and Gnome Stew work, in the state it’s in about 50% of the time. The other 50% of the time there aren’t any piles on the end.

The piles are books I’m reading, need to shelve, need to review, or otherwise am currently using in some form.

November 17, 2015

From this excellent post about sales stats for RPG retailer BlackDiamondGames.com:

Also, because I know you guys like lists, here are our top 10 titles with the extremely high 17-40 turn rates:


1. D&D Next: Dungeon Master’s Screen
2. D&D Next RPG: Dungeon Masters Guide
3. Pathfinder RPG: Strategy Guide
4. Unframed: The Art of Improvisation for Game Masters

Wait wait wait. What?! One of these things is not like the others.

Closing remarks

On balance, I greatly enjoyed my time on Google+. It had a huge impact on my gaming, from meeting my current Seattle group to learning about all sorts of cool products to making friends to changing my gaming philosophy over time.

But having gone cold turkey a month or so ago, when my gaming group stopped using G+ to schedule our sessions, there’s a flipside: I’ve found that I don’t miss checking G+ nearly as much as I thought I would.

That gnawing feeling of a social network needing to be checked, maintained, curated, and managed, and of needing to deal with the small percentage of assholes I encountered there (who consume an outsized amount of time and energy) — I don’t miss that at all.

Nonetheless, though: On balance, G+ was seven years largely well spent, and I’ll miss the connections and gaming choices it helped me to make. I’m taking a social network break, maybe for good, but I’ll still be posting here and I’m quietly active on RPGnet and RPGGeek.