Iron Painter – Round 1

I signed up for the Wyrd Iron Painter competition. It’s rough – 5 rounds, each round there is a random theme you have to model to. You are randomly matched against another contestant, and you have to beat them in a score out of 20. 5 points for Theme, 5 points for Technical Skill, 10 points for Aesthetic.

Here’s my entry (click to open in bigger view)

rythos42 - Fools Gold


Here is my opponent’s entry. The Theme was Fools Gold.

Each round is 2 weeks, and this round ended April 19th at midnight. It started on April 3rd. I had 1 day before I left (mercifully, my fiance was out wedding dress shopping for half the day…) and a day and a half of sick and jetlag to do this.

I’m pretty damn pleased with myself, given those constraints! I did have a number of potential models out and available, and I lucked into the fact that I was planning to do Willie soon, so I had a decent idea of how I wanted to do his base, and that he worked well with the theme.

The sickness and jetlag has taken all of my ability to remember more than 30 seconds ago, so I’m really having a hard time recalling what colours I used. I know I used Tallarn Sand for the first layer of his skin, to see how it went, but there’s very little actual skin tone remaining.

Things I’m not happy with:

  • Using pure white was a miserable idea. It doesn’t get shaded easily, it just gets dirty looking. So his pants are off-and-on in places.
  • The shirt I was trying to make look like a black checkered mesh over skin, but the skin is dirty and messy as well.


Things I’m pretty damn happy with:

  • The layered base.
  • First use of Army Painter tufts. Super easy, and awesome.
  • The gold. I really wish I could remember if it was Vomit Brown base or Sunburst Yellow base. But it was easy after that – I used Dementor Yellow to make the yellow more yellow, then a very light drybrush of white on the top of it for some shine. Seraphim Sepia is lightly placed into some of the crevasses to separate the dynamite out from each other piece.
  • The blending on the wheelbarrow edges.


It’ll be a miracle if I make it to round 2, but at least I’ll have most of the entire 2 weeks to work on the piece! Results for round 1 are said to be available April 23rd, round 2 starts April 24th.

Wyrd Summer Painting Contest – Photography

Since I have an interest in miniature photography as well, I’ve got one last post here on how it all came together after the painting was done. Here’s two photos for reference.

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Getting this all set up was a bit of an ordeal!

First, I was glad the kitchen table had been cleared – I was playing a 3-player game of Malifaux with some friends that afternoon, so I didn’t have to move our crap from it!

The backdrop I’d previously purchased to take photos of my Daemon army (and, obviously, for future things like this!). When I unraveled it and put it on the table though, it was to far away – I’d previously measured that I wanted my diorama to be about 7 inches from the lens. So I grabbed an end-table, cleared the stuff off of it and rested it on the kitchen table to provide some support for the backdrop. Initially I put two glass cups on top, but after thinking about the consequences of glass falling, should I bump the setup, I found some metal and plastic cups instead to hold it up. (what I’m getting at here, with the end table and cups — you find ways to make it work!).

I had some brown material sitting around for another project, and put that on the bottom to provide “dirt”. The goal was that the backdrop would be sky, and the diorama wouldn’t look out of place on a dirt brown floor.

Then my standard 2-light setup, with my tripod. I had to bring over a third light – my painting light from my desk – because I was getting shadows I didn’t want. Because of the heat we’ve had the shutters closed and I didn’t want to open them, and didn’t have enough ambient light from living room light fixtures to solve the shadow problem.

Then, put the diorama on the backdrop.



Because I had an idea of what settings I wanted to use (in fact, the camera was still on those settings), I knew where to start. I had to remember to set the ISO back down to 200 because I wasn’t taking super grainy test photos anymore.

I took a variety of photos. I adjusted the aperture up and down, and the focus up and down, in order to ensure that I had the photo I wanted. Once I was done taking photos, I didn’t want to have to go back and re-take any, so I wanted to try to get as many as I could. I moved the model around as well, in order to get different angles that didn’t have my living room in the background.



Here’s a picture of the final image again, just to help remind you.


When you take a ton of photos, you then have to go through and delete a ton of photos. I only wanted to submit between 3 and 5, but I’d taken 30. I loaded them all up in Lightroom, and started deleting. Some of them were super easy – focus was all wrong, lighting was all wrong. Some of them were harder – do I have enough photos that have the Gunsmith in focus? This photo is dramatic, but this other photo shows more of the diorama. And similar to making a resume, or a Magic the Gathering deck, anything you put in that isn’t perfect is just making the whole thing worse.

I got it down to 7 good photos and moved on.

Lightroom has a host of great editing features that I use regularly. I adjusted the white balance on every photo – usually I do this physically with a white card and the camera setting, but I had forgotten. >.< I also click “Auto” for the brightness, contrast, whites, blacks, highlights and shadows section. Auto isn’t perfect every time, but it’s a good baseline. I find sometimes it will adjust my photo to an extreme, so I have to pull it back a bit – most often in the Whites or Brightness.

I also use Lightroom to crop. All my photos are taken 4:3, but sometimes a different ratio works better, and sometimes I need to crop to get a better photo. As well, because my lens (grrrr) has a couple spots on it, I need to use the spot remover in places.

You’ll notice there are only 5 photos in the final image, and during this process I realized that two photos were unnecessary – either not good enough, or showing something I’d already shown. Deleted! Do not be afraid to delete! You’re only making your project better.

I saved all of the photos as JPGs…and then moved onto the step I don’t usually do. I opened each photo up in Paint.NET…and smudged the lines on Killjoys side. I don’t feel bad that I did this – it’s all a part of submitting the best photo you can. At the same time, that line bothers me and I wish I could slow down enough to make it go away on future models!

The very last step was to create a brand new image that was 800 pixels wide, and as tall as the combination of all of the images. The contest rules required that photos be no more than 800 wide, but that you could use as much height as you wanted to show additional angles. I copy and pasted each image into this new one, leaving a 2 pixel white separation between each image to help set them apart.

The contest rules also stated that images must be less than 300kb, so when I saved it I set the JPG quality settings such that the final image was 294kb. It’s good that I got rid of those 2 extra photos, otherwise I’d have had to sacrifice more quality! This was something I hadn’t accounted for, so I’m glad it worked out by accident!


And that’s the end! I’m writing this on July 15th – I was told not to publish any photos or articles before the voting was done on July 27th, so I’ve scheduled all of the last posts. As I write, I have no idea what’s going to happen! Excitement!

Wyrd Summer Painting Contest – Final

And finally, here’s the photo spread I submitted to the contest. If you’re a good reader, you’ve already seen it as you went and voted for it a month ago when I asked you to! 😛 By the time you read this, hopefully we’ll all know who the winner was, and have all seen a ton of amazing looking models!



I’ve got one more post in this series – the final photography and image editing.

Wyrd Summer Painting Contest – Actually Painting

I failed badly at taking photos of the painting process…



Because I’m trying to tie together my two Malifaux crews, I painted the gravel like my Arcanist bases, but with more layers. I started with Rhinox Hide all over, and then drybrushed two layers of Rhinox+Scab Red mixtures. I drybrushed the Tallarn Sand in sections, and then mixed the Tallarn and Ushapti Bone together.

I tried to drybrush all in a single direction, and when I got to the more yellow paints, I only did it in sections. This caused the ground to look a little bit like sunlight was filtering in between the trees. Totally unplanned for, but nice to know.

At the end I did a really light drybrush of Liche Purple perpendicular to the main direction. I was trying to re-shade with a common colour.



The  cobblestone was done like my Outcast bases. Straight black, then Codex Grey+Black, then a really light drybrush of Liche Purple. I did a bunch of layers here, with black+more Codex, more Codex, then straight Codex, then Fortress with Codex. Finally, to change up the tone a bit, I used Kantor Blue in places, and Warpstone Green in other places.



I started with Rhinox Hide everywhere on it, to ensure that it wasn’t black inside. Then I mixed SW Amethyst with Rhinox Hide almost everywhere, in particular deep in the cracks – because of that common shade colour I was working towards. Then I drybrushed Mournfang Brown, then MFB+Vomit Brown in many successive layers.


All told, painting this thing was super easy, just a lot of drybrushing and mixing colour in an insane heat that kept trying my paints out!


Some Last Modelling

I didn’t want to write a separate article on it, and I have no photos of it…but after I was done painting I had some more modelling to do. I used GW Dead Grass under the tree and in certain stones. And then SW leaves placed artfully around, as though blowing in the breeze from the forgotten tree.

Lastly, I had an unbiased reviewer provide feedback, and he suggested I model a swirl of leaves coming up from the ground. I did this, but I feel as though I went overboard – I was trying to hide the wire I was using to bring the leaves up, and so ended up with a giant leafy thing in the middle of the board.


Here’s two meager photos of some mid-stages. 🙂

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Wyrd Summer Painting Contest – Building the Base

I took my Dremel once again to the piece of hardboard in my closet. I cut out the basic design with a cutting bit, and then used two different sanding bits to smooth and bevel the edges.

The tree is a fascinating thing. I bought a $5 loop of wire from Michaels and wrapped two pieces together in a “C” bend. Then I wrapped another piece around to make another root, and then another and so on. Then I started cutting smaller pieces and wrapped them around each root and up the tree trunk to try to give the base more size than the top. After a bit, instead of wrapping the wire around semi-randomly, I started wrapping it on a circle around, so that under the top layer there is a tree-like mess, and on top is semi-uniformity.


I went back and put my models on top of the hardboard, and drew on the piece so I knew where they would go. I sketched out where Killjoy’s cobblestone would start and end, and drew circles around each base.


Then…I made cobblestone. I’ve done this before on my Plaguebearer bases, but this was a little different because each piece had to be slightly different shape and size. I pressed the Milliput onto the hardboard, making sure to keep a circle open for Killjoy, and then started carving into it with one my putty tools.


After that dried a bit (it’s very hot in here), I puttied up the back in a smooth layer. This would be built up a bit, so I just wanted something to build on.


I used the Vallejo Oxid paste and painted it all over the hardboard where the Arcanists would stand. In particular, I wanted to get it on and under the tree to make sure that it was a part of the scene. Since it is such a different and other-worldly shape from what you would expect, I had to make sure to bring it back into the scene.


Last, I put another layer of Milliput on top of the back layer and carved a different kind of stone design onto it. It’s not entirely square. >.>


Wyrd Summer Painting Contest – Setting up the photo

All of the models posted recently were painted for a diorama for the Wyrd Summer Painting Contest! Building a diorama is as much about framing and composition as it is about technical painting and modeling skill. In my case, it’s also a little bit about photography!

I wanted to set up a scene such that the 3 models would be in sharp focus, but that the house in the background would be softer. This means adjusting my cameras aperture, as that controls the depth of field. For these test shots, I decided to angle the camera such that it was perpendicular to the line created by the Gunsmith and Killjoy, which put the Fire Gamin a little further towards the camera.

I took a number of different photos, but because these are all test shots I set the ISO to 256,000, which means I can get in focus shots without needing to pull out all of my lights. I moved the aperture setting up and down to see where I got the best results, I tested where to have the camera physically to get the photo I wanted.

The shutter speed isn’t important in either the test photos, or the final shot, because it’s only job is to ensure that I don’t get blurry photos, and that I get the amount of brightness I want out of the final photo. Basically, I adjust the shutter up or down to ensure brightness after I’ve decided on the aperture I want.

You can see one such photo here. At f/2.8, Killjoy is nicely in focus (as he’s the focus target), but the Gamin is blurry!


I swapped out for a bigger piece of hardboard and pulled the models further away from the house so I would have more “focus space” to work with. I set the aperture to f/4 but couldn’t get what I wanted still. Lastly, I set the camera to manual focus and then I finally got the photo I wanted.


I assume that the auto focus was focusing somewhere just behind Killjoy, which put the Gamin to far out of field to be in focus. This photo I manually focused somewhere on between the Gamin and Killjoy, allowing them both to be in focus.

Again, because these are test photos it’s perfectly fine that the gunsmith is to dark, shadows are all over the place and that the image is really grainy. We’re just trying to set up the framing!

Now, it’s important for me to remember that when I’m done I’ll be taking a few different photos from different angles, but I wanted to have one where I had put the work into getting exactly the photo I wanted, before I started building anything!

Outcasts – Killjoy – Final

This is probably the nicest model I’ve ever painted.

Don’t get me wrong, Killjoy is a fugly dude. But something about those rolls upon rolls of skin…the invitation to mottle and bruise him…to go a little overboard with the shadows in places and to paint definition (more rolls…) where none existed. It was brilliant. The base coat didn’t look like much, but it ended wonderfully.

This model is mostly skin, and as such I spent several hours on said skin. I really couldn’t tell you what I did, but in essence it looked like:

  • Kislev Flesh
  • Kislev Flesh mixed with SW Amethyst
  • More of that.
  • Kislev Flesh mixed with Skull White
  • More of that.
  • Go back to the top of the list and move down the list until it looks right.

It’s mesmerizing.

And worse, because I thought it was beautiful, every time I picked it up I found something else that needed fixing for it to be perfect. I need to finish the rest of this entry quickly so I can photograph it and be done with it…

After that, the rest of the model is pretty boring! The fireball was painted the same as the Fire Gamin. I used the Lamentor’s Yellow to do a bit of OSL around his stomach. Bloodletter Wash on his open wounds and around the open areas of his mouth. A simple Mithril Silver plus Badab Black (yes, I still have some!) and Seraphim Sepia on the metal. His wraps were Sepia’d, then highlighted with Fortress Grey (don’t ask why I did this, I had a whim) and then spot painted with Waywatcher Green glaze.

I continued gluing SW leaves to his base, because I really like them. 🙂


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If you’ve read this far down the post, you get a super secret Easter Egg. Before I submitted the final posts for the painting contest, I edited out the very obvious join-lines on this guy. >.> I still fail hard at model assembly, but at least technology can help me out!

(And just so we’re clear – the only photo editing I do on my blog is to remove spots created by the lens, and adjust lighting and colour balance. I’d never lie to you guys! :))

Arcanists – Gunsmith – Final

After the basecoat, I tried something new and mixed the SW Amethyst with the Codex Grey and painted that as a shadow “de-highlight” into the recesses. Worked out really well! Then Amethyst+water directly as a line in the recesses.

While I painted the jumpsuit, I was trying to darken it, but still have that bright orange “pop” from the inspiration image. An important thing here was to paint the straps in a different colour, and have them be a noticeably different colour, but not have them stand-out from the rest. I picked the brown to try to fill this role.

Lastly, since she’s probably been mucking around in that Arcanist base mud for a while, her cloak got muddied up along the edges.

After I’d done all of this, I stupidly went searching for more images of her. Someone had converted her hair to be less terrible looking. I wish I’d had that fore-thought. >.<

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Arcanists – Fire Gamin – Final

This guy was pretty easy after that base coat.

I mixed Sunburst Yellow and Blazing Orange together and all-but drybrushed it over it’s skin. This thing is so covered in flamey crevasses, almost anything I did here was going to hit the surface.

Then mixed in a little bit of Mephiston Red and went over it again. Some Lementors Yellow to try to make sure I kept the bright yellow in the recesses. Then I went to Mephiston and Orange, and then to Mephiston and Rhinox Hide, then to straight Rhinox Hide and then straight Chaos Black. Lastly, some more Lementors, because I think you just can’t have enough of that stuff.

All of these stages were drybrushed, trying to hit less and less of the model each time.

For the fireball, I stopped after the Mephiston+Orange, then did the tip with the Mephiston+Rhinox   Then I painted in watered down Sunburst Yellow into some of the recesses to bring back some of the yellow, as it had been mostly covered by orange at an earlier step.

Badab Black on the cloth, then highlighted with a thin glaze of Ushapti. Ushapti teeth, shadowed with Badab Black. Warpstone Green eyes with Black pupils. Mithril Silver chain links the two scraps of cloth.

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Outcasts – Killjoy – Basecoat

Killjoy is starting off with this thread as his inspiration. That paint job is creepy and terrific, but obviously I want to do my own thing here!

I started just with Kislev Flesh for his skin, and Ushapti Bone for his wrappings. I may change the wrappings colour as I go, in order to create contrast. Mithril Silver for the metal and the fireball in the middle of his chest is Sunburst Yellow to match the Fire Gamin that’s shooting it.

It isn’t done, but he’ll be on my standard Outcast bases when he’s done.