PAX – Inadequate Tools

I was at PAX last weekend, a great spectacle of video, card and board gaming. If you haven’t been, you really should, it’s intense.

One of the many things I did while there was stop in at the Reaper Miniatures Paint’n’Take. They have a box full of Bones minis, you take one, a cup of water, a piece of paper towel and a piece of parchment paper and sit down at a table with inadequate lighting, and a variety of colours and go at it. There are no washes, no glazes, no clean water (after you clean your brush once it’s dirty), your brush doesn’t make a fine point, and if you like your brush you’re potentially kissing every other person at the convention.

I picked a model that looked badass. As I looked it over, I tried to imagine how I would paint it, given the conditions I knew I would face ahead. Enough details that I could make it look good, but not so many as to be intimidating. A small selection of colours, since there is a line-up to paint and you can’t take forever. I choose…


This guy.

Bones is said to not need any primer. They lied. Whenever I tried to put paint on the model, it shrank away and pooled in certain spots. Someone at the table had a paint-on primer, and I was thankful for being given that minor convenience.

After my first layer, I was panicking. (Frequent readers will have heard this before…) It looked like ass. I’d covered all of the model in paint, but since I’m doing a white-primer there were lighter splotchy parts, the coat wasn’t even, some crevasses were white. I was not an Elite Miniatures Painter. Worse, I’d been caught bragging a bit to my painting compatriot earlier in the day about my painting blog – doomed, I was doomed I tell you!


After the first layer. This is particularly bad lighting though – the harsh highlight is because I used my phone’s flash.

“Never give up, never surrender!” — good advice for any project.

I had done the first layer quickly, so that I could get to the real meat of the work. I fashioned myself a black glaze/wash from the black paint and a loooot of water. Because it didn’t have the pooling properties of GW washes, I had to be careful about how I applied it – any pigment that was “hanging around” had to be spread out, or redirected into a crevasse. I alternated between this and a brown wash on most of the model before I felt like I had fixed enough of the original problems.

Then I did similarly with the red that I had originally started with, except that I used less water. I mixed it partially with some yellow, but not so much that it was yellow, just enough that it got a bit brighter. I tried to differentiate the inner clothing from the outer cloak by using only black-based washes on the outside and only brown/yellow-based washes on the inside. This involved a lot of back and forth, since the pigment wouldn’t stay where I wanted it, so I would paint on a brighter colour and then immediately have to darken parts of it, and then have to re-lighten, etc.

The crystal was a yellow, with white liner on the edges. A brief experiment with OSL on the staff top went well.

2 hours later I left feeling pretty happy with my work. And it wasn’t until 3 hours later when I pulled the model out that I realized that the skin was absolutely horrendous. I hate painting human flesh. I’m so bad at it…hence the Lizards and the Orks.

IMAG0461 IMAG0463

I gave him to my girlfriend, because she loooooves red and because we have a tradition of bringing things back for each other when we go away. 🙂

Dark Eldar – Test Model

So, I was at the Throne of Skulls tournament this summer in Las Vegas. Some of you may recall that the Canadian/US dollar was quite favourable at the time for us using CAD. I was weak. I have a rule that I don’t buy models that I’m not immediately going to work on. But…it was such a good deal. >.<

So I have most of a Dark Eldar army sitting in my room. So, so lonely.

This is the first model I’ve painted, trying to find out what I wanted to do for a colour scheme. I’m pretty happy with it! (macro photography, less happy with).

I got the idea for the colour scheme from the book, it’s one of the non-blue, non-purple schemes in there. I know, you have to search to find it.

The red parts are 50/50 Scab Red and Chaos Black, Scab Red (watered), Blood Red (watered) and then Vomit Brown (watered). The non-red black bits are 50/50 Codex Gray and Chaos Black and Codex Gray. The biegey bits are Bleached bone (watered), Devlan Mud (best colour on the planet) then Bleached bone. The base is (really I’m listing these so I can remember for later!) Chainmail then Badab Black, with some gray drybrushed on the rubble nearby.

I know that there’s a hair on his face. I’ve scraped it off since I took the photos…I couldn’t see it at all. One of the challenges of living with two cats. 😛

I think the photos look good, until you open up the larger versions. I feel like the larger versions show imperfection that I can’t do anything about. Maybe I need to get a little further away…oh photography.



Lizardman Temple Guard 4.1

So close…I finished off the scales last night, thanks to a clever colour tip from Patrick that I wouldn’t have thought of. A watery coat of Bleached Bone over the watery Blood Red that was painted only on the edges – it highlights the edges without making them bright like the Blazing Orange that I used on the regular troops.

And then a quick highlight on the various straps.


  1. Hanging dead heads. There are 4 of these that need a different colour.
  2. Eyes. Whoops, forgot the eyes >.<
  3. Some greenery on the bases.
  4. The musicians drum.
  5. …the banner. Which won’t be done this week, I suspect. If you remember, the banner snapped off and I took it as a sign that I should do a cooler banner…well that hasn’t happened.

No photos this time, but next post should be a finale (except the banner…which I’m considering a new project :P)

Lizardmen Temple Guard 4

I went to my dad’s last night to make use of his nicer camera. We played with the settings and lighting a bit, and found some cool things (which are easily found elsewhere on the internet) (which I will be writing about in a later post :P).

But THIS is a Temple Guard update!

Last we spoke, I’d finished the bandages and then put a base coat on everything. I’ve done a lot of work on these guys since then, but there is still more to go. If you remember my last post, you’ll see a lot of that technique here.

  1. Finished the metal parts. I started with Tin Bitz, then mixed that with some Boltgun Metal (which completely overpowered the Tin Bitz…it was not like mixing colours at all). Then did a highlight of just the Boltgun Metal. Lastly I washed all of the metal with Devlan Mud.
  2. The bone is done. Started with Bleached Bone, washed with Devlan Mud (I bought a lot of the mud recently…) and then did a really gentle highlight/feathering with Bleached Bone on the raised surfaces.
  3. Started a very tentative highlight process on the scales. This is Scab Red with a very watery Blood Red gently placed at the tops of the scales.

The scales are scaring me a bit. I have a few ideas of how to do it, but the model as it stands right now is much to bright, even while before I added the Blood Red it was much to dark. So I did a test piece to see if I could think of what I wanted to do. I think I have a plan, but I’m worried that it will look terrible. So I think I’m just going to do it on this one guy to start, and see how it goes.

  1. Scab Red with the Blood Red, as you see below.
  2. Blazing Orange in the tiniest amounts possible, while still looking orangey.
  3. Baal Red wash over the whole thing.

If you head back to my Lava post, you’ll remember that the goal is deep, dark red in the middle, with a glowing brightness at the edges. This is beyond my skill, and the first step in producing something that will look good is to admit that :). The scales are too small, my patience too small, and my eyes prefer bright colours so I tend to over highlight.

The plan I’ve got will let me paint up to a colour that is bright, and then wash down to mute it a bit, while re-darkening the middle of the scales. I choose the Baal Red over more Devlan Mud, because the Mud doesn’t look red enough! The Baal maintains the red tinge I’m looking for.

After that, there are some straps that need a little bit more brown, and a couple heads that need some ugly colours, and then I’ll inspect each model to ensure it doesn’t have any colours over the lines. Lastly I need to paint the blasted drum of the musician >.>.. Annnnnd then I need to start thinking more about the banner that I mentioned I had planned.


Lizardmen Temple Guard 3

Last we spoke I had become determined to finish off the Deth Kopta bottleneck so that I could move onto other projects. I added another few details onto them and then realized that my next tournament is Fantasy and it’s happening in almost exactly a month from now, and that 4 nights of painting (each Thursday night for a month) wasn’t going to cut it.

So I re-arranged my priorities and started focusing entirely on the Temple Guard.

Now, my fear with these guys is that I’ll screw them up and they’ll end up looking horrible. I’ve put a lot of work into puttying them, and a failure at this stage would be disastrous. So hear me when I say good god I hate the photos I’m about to show you.

Part of it is the lighting. Part of it is the half-finished nature of the bone, which is glaring and hideous. But right now, neither of these facts is salving my fears.

Added since last time: Tin Bitz on all metally parts, and bleached bone on all boney parts. The Graveyard Earth of the bandages was highlighted up using Desert Yellow, and then finally with a 3/2 mix of Desert Yellow and Bleached Bone.

Some kid at the store asked “so you’re almost done?” and I looked at the models disparagingly and had to say “No, I have a lot of work still.”


Photography+internet is a little odd to me. I feel like, if I can look at a picture, I should be able to distribute that picture. I mean…I’ve got it already. It’s on my hard drive, being displayed by my monitor. And yet I get the feeling (was unable to confirm) that it’s probably against the rules to take those photos on your computer and to use them directly. (This can be contrasted with movies/games/music, where you have to actively search for them to get them onto your computer, so you can steal them.)

Did you know that “smoldering lava” is the name of a particular card in the Molten Core raid deck from the WoW:TCG? I didn’t, but now I do, since that’s a good portion of what a Google search will bring up.

Annnnyhooo. I decided to link to the source instead. So click this link and lets talk about lava: The link has 6 pages of photos, with 2 photos a page. So I’ll be talking about them like that.

Page number:

  1. This page didn’t inspire me.
  2. The first photo, with volcanic lightning excited me. I want to add volcanic lightning to my models. Seriously. That’s like two of the most badass natural events bound into one tight little package. Volcanic lightning. If you aren’t tittering yet, go look at the photo. But ahhh…I think I’d probably fail >.<. Any ideas on how I could incorporate this?
  3. This page has no pictures of lava on it…which is entirely useless to me.
  4. The first photo has a little bit of what I’m looking for. Notice that it’s a completely dark photo – grey, dark blue, smoke, rock, black. With strong highlights of this eye-piercing orange. Although this isn’t ideal for the Temple Guard, it’s getting close. It’s a little bright still.
  5. Here’s the money shot. First photo, magic-mud lava (I’m sure the scientists have a better name for it :P). Dark, black red in the center, with a slightly brighter dark red on the edges. This is how the TG should be done. Downside: the scales on these guys are tiny, edging will be a pain >.<
  6. Just a mountain here. Lame.

11 photos, 3 ones that have anything to do with my project, 1 that is probably “the one”. Success!

Lizardmen Temple Guard 2

I worked on these guys scales a bit. (I showed up at 6:30 at GW, tables were all full :P)

Scab Red, with a Chaos Black wash on the scales. My other lizards have a vibrant Blood Red/Blazing Orange/Sunburst Yellow scheme on their scales, imitating lava. These guys I hope to have similar fiery colours, but much more muted. Maybe I should look at some pictures of hardened lava to see if it gives any inspiration.

For some reason, whenever I paint Badab Black it ends up shiny. I hate it. My other washes don’t do that. Which is why I’m using watered down Chaos Black as a wash instead.