At Long Last!

The painting of my Hive Tyrant is complete! Well, except for his base, that is.

Here are some assembled shots under terrible light:

Overall, I think he looks nice. He's not as stunning as I wanted him to be, as I skimped on reposing, resculpting, and conversion. As others have said, I should have started small with troops bugs instead of a showcase model. That would have allowed me to get my paint schemes down before applying them to a centerpiece model. I'd wanted to hack apart his limbs and repose them into a more fluid and dynamic pose, but was simply too logjammed to do so. It was a "if you don't start now, you'll never start at all" situation.

Despite that disappointment, I'm pretty impressed with what I've done, as he's my first fully painted non-Marine model since 2007. I had this crazy idea to start a WHFB Orc and Goblin army a few years ago, and finished the skin tones on ONE Orc before abandoning the idea, hence the "fully painted" qualifier.

The only obstacle left for this guy is a base. Last night I mixed together equal parts craft paint and Liquitex Resin Sand medium and slathered it on a spare 25mm base to see what it would do. This morning, it was dry but very glossy. I didn't get a chance for a picture, but it basically looks like shiny mud. I'm sure Dullcote would bring the shine down, but I'm not sure the effect would carry to a 60mm base, or even a 40mm base. Originally, I'd wanted a loamy, fertile earth base with tufts of grass (easily done with static grass) and some random stumps and plants. I don't want to use resin bases because I don't want to sink the money into them for a Nid force that may end up containing a lot of small models. Plus, I've not found anything so far that I felt really hit the nail on the head for a convincing jungle earth look.

Some Google searching shows some poorly done jungle bases where gamers have simply glued tufts of tall grass, aquarium plants, and vines all over the base with the model planted squarely in the middle. I'm thinking that less is far more in this situation. I'm not sure I can get plants and grass to look right on these muddy bases, but will have to give it a try. If that fails, I will probably have to go back to the basic sand bases I use for my Marines, but with a different color and more liberal use of rocks, grass, and plants.

I put half a second coat on my Sternguard Marine last night as well. The rumors regarding bikes as troops in the new Marine codex are contradictory. Some say you only get one unit, some say you get as many as you like. I'll wait the two weeks to see, and then decide how to proceed. Regardless, I'd like to finish this 5-man Sternguard squad as soon as I can.
The rumors are that Kor'sarro Khan and the White Scars chapter tactics will be spectacular for running a Marine Bike force. On one hand, I'm thrilled that Marine bikers will be getting a small shot in the arm, but I'm also dismayed that it's a chapter tactic. When I first saw the chapter tactic rumors, I swore I'd only every use the Ultramarines tactic while fielding my Ultras, regardless of build. The idea that I can run better bikes by simply selecting a different tactic makes that vow very hard to stick to. I've railed against people cherry-picking chapter tactics in the past, though my beef is/was more with Blood Angel and Space Wolf armies being run under the new Marine book rules. But, the opposite happened when those two books were released (Marines run as BA/SW), so I guess it wouldn't be totally hypocritical of me to use the White Scars tactics when wearing blue paint.
It's a decision I'll make in a couple weeks.


Review: 40K BRB for Kindle

I bought myself a Kindle Fire HD a couple weeks ago. I'd gotten one for my wife for Mother's Day this year, and liked the look of it. I mostly got mine for Netflix and web surfing, as I have a ton of paperbacks to read before I could even begin to think about buying eBooks.

However, I wanted to check out the 40K BRB for Kindle, and had just made a tidy profit selling some Battlefleet Gothic Tyranid Cruisers. So, I loosened the purse strings and splurged on the eBook. It was actually cheaper than trying to buy the Dark Vengeance mini rulebook from a bit seller!
Here's a quick, fast, and dirty review of the product.

The navigation is pretty simple. Flick through the pages. You can tap and hold to view the book toolbar. The toolbar allows you to quickly navigate to certain sections of the book. I didn't try to match the sections up to the hardcover, but they seem to be pretty intuitive and help navigation by putting you as close as can be to what you need.

The bookmark feature is great. I've added a bookmark on the Psychic Powers page and the Game Summary page so far. I'll also put one at the beginning of the Universal Special Rules page. From the toolbar, you can quickly hop to a bookmarked section. Great for games where you need to look up the wording of a specific rule or power.

You can also zoom in to the example diagrams and photos in the eBook, though I found that there's not much point in doing so, as they don't tend to get all that much bigger. You cannot zoom in to the data tables, though. For example, the summary tables in the back that outline movement speeds and effects of difficult terrain on units can't be zoomed in, but the to-hit chart can. This is because the to-hit chart is an image, not a table. It's not a big deal, as everything is readable on the Kindle screen.
One thing that took some adjustment was the inability to pinch to zoom in and out. On web pages, you can pinch the screen to zoom on a particular area. The eBook format doesn't allow that. If you need bigger text, you have to change the font size.

You can change the background of the book from black on white to black on sepia or white on black. The sepia background helps tables and example text stand out, as those remain highlighted in white.
There's also a highlighter function, where you can drag over passages and assign a highlight color to them. Those are marked in your Bookmarks list for quick navigation.

It's important to note that the eBook is the rules only. No fluff or painting sections. There are also no interactive popouts or glossary features like the iBook version for iPad. It's a straightforward text conversion only with a few helpful features for marking passages and pages. If you already have the mini rulebook and don't mind carrying that around, I'd skip the Kindle version unless you're also downloading and keeping codexes and supplements with you. If you don't have the mini rulebook, hate lugging the full rulebook, and already have or wanted a Kindle, the eBook BRB is worth the $30+ price. You won't find the mini rulebook online for cheaper than that after shipping, at least not reliably.


So Close!

I have been silent on the blog for these last several days because I was away on vacation. I did find time in the first couple days of my vacation to get some painting done, and again in the last couple nights. I am pleased to say that the Hive Tyrant is nearing completion!

The carapace is complete, as are the talons and hooves. As of this writing, I'm in the second stage of painting the purple ribbed flesh (the Leviathan Purple wash part), though the pictures below were taken before that.

Here is what the Tyrant looked like as of abut 8pm last night:

The first shot is of his thigh plating. The spikes on the plates of current Nid models add a ton to the model's overall look, but are sometimes challenging to properly blend into the surrounding plate. Because of the size of this model, I found I was constantly rubbing the paint off of the tips of the spikes when I was handling it. Thankfully, it never wore past the primer coat, or I'd have had an odd flat ring around each spike tip.
The second is his back armor. The streaking is a little more stark than it was on his talons, but I think it works. I'm really interested to see how the streaking and blending I did reacts to Dullcote. A spray of Dullcote tends to flatten down all of the layers on my marines, and I lose a bit of the transition
from one color to another. My fear is that the Dullcote will wipe out some of the more subtle layers.

The final shot is his hoof and toe talons. I like the brighter ivory colors for talons when lined up against the green and brown of his flesh and armor. I also wanted to show off the deep rings I apply using a Gryphonne Sepia wash in order to create that line between claw and flesh.

I want to get some more work in on the purple tonight, but I have about six pounds of beans to process through the canner tonight. Seriously, I'm drowning in dragon tongue beans from my garden! Hopefully, I can get some coats in while the canner is heating up.

I also sat down last night and gave the model a very thorough looking-over for errors and mistakes, and I wrote each thing down on a slip of paper. That way I don't think I'm all done, seal the model, only to realize I'd left a dot of brown on the green or forgotten to clean up a transition line.

No movement on the Marine front. I'm still staring at the same base coated Sternguard model. I do need to ramp up my Marine work soon, as the new book is due out. You can read all the rumors and confirmations over on other blogs. I'm excited about the new book. It sounds like a lot of fun, but one big hit I'll take personally is that I can no longer run an all-bike force. While that sucks from a modeling and painting perspective, it's not all bad. I may try to move some of my collection of bikes and switch over to a drop pod force. I have a diverse enough collection that a wholesale change like this is easy enough for me to pull off, but I really feel for those poor White Scars players who either have to change play styles, or sit and wait for a codex supplement to play their army.


Picture Friday: I'm a Zebra?

I sat down last evening, determined to make visible progress on the Hive Tyrant. In the last couple weeks, I was content to slap a single coat of thinned paint on the carapace per night and call it good. Not so last evening. I wanted visible results!

So, i plonked down and spent an hour and a half putting two coats of a 2:1 mix of Faded Khaki and Stained Ivory as my first "streak layer." I have to interject here and say "thank goodness I blogged this process before," because I'd forgotten at what point I'd started streak colors on the claws! I was able to go back in blog posts and find where I'd talked about it. I keep a paint recipe book, but I'd forgotten to annotate where I switched from full carapace work to streaking.

Here's the results:
One of the things I struggled with was how much of each plate to apply streaking to. GW does only a little on the very edges. I've seen others who streak the whole thing. I decided to go for about a 70% coverage, working downward. The plates on his talons are actually a little higher percentage, but I felt less might be better on these large plates in order to still allow you to see the base color.

I think it's a good start, though there are some too-thick strokes in certain spots. Thankfully, the technique is forgiving in the early stages. Those overlarge strokes will be broken up by the next layers of color, which get progressively thinner and shorter.

I'm hoping to have plenty of time at night for the next three days to keep pushing forward on this guy. I think once I get past the carapace, things will absolutely fly by, as all I'll have left are the claws/hooves, purple flesh, and then cleanup. I have some spots of brown on the green I need to fix. Then comes basing, which I'm dreading. I know what I want it to look like, but can't see in my mind how I'm going to pull it off.

I think I spotted a cork bottle of wine in the grocery bag yesterday, so hopefully my fifth Genestealer will have something to stand on soon. I can't decide how to paint them, though. There are two main schools of Genestealer painting, it seems. One paints the core of the body in the army's carapace armor color, and the other paints it int he flesh color, with almost no armor plating color at all. You either end up with a monochrome Genestealer like GW's current website examples, or two-tone Genestealers like GW uses for the Space Hulk painted examples or the third edition box.

I like the two-tone look because it's more interesting from a visual standpoint. But, I dislike it for two reasons: it lacks continuity with the rest of the army and it takes longer to paint.

Every other Nid model in the range has clear delineations between flesh and chitin. Genestealers do not. The only plating on them is on some of the heads. To me, painting non-plated parts of a Genestealer the same color as the plated parts of other models is a little jarring.

Of course, the monochrome version is a little boring, as they all just blend into one mass. It is MUCH quicker and simpler to paint, though. In the end, I think it's all about what you can pull of with either technique. My leaning is towards monochrome, as there's no armor on them (because the scuttle around in crawlspaces and air ducts), and I think I might be able to make them pop with the small spots of purple and ivory on flesh and talons.

On the Marine front, still no painting progress. That poor Sternguard trooper is just sitting and waiting. I will have to finish him and his last compatriot before I move on to anything else. This new book might push me toward drop pods, instead of bikes, but we'll see.


Thank the Emperor!

I haven't heard better news in a while:

No super walker for Marines. HUZZAH! I hated the idea from the beginning, and I am so very happy it was proven wrong.

Of course, we're also now seeing talk of a new Marine armor type, the Centurion. Basically, it's a Marine in power armor with a gun harness. I'm not sure how I feel about that. The sketches seen on some of the rumor sites are rough, and they have guns on the harness right next to the Marine's head. It reminds me a lot of Battle Beasts, which were one of my FAVORITE toys when I was a kid. (Trivia point: I sold all my Battle Beasts on eBay in 2007 for a couple hundred bucks that went to rent and some used 40K models).
These Centurions are supposed to be Heavy Support, which makes them almost direct competition for Devastators. That makes me sad, as I have a soft spot for the classic Battle Company formation (Tacs, Assault, Devs). 
There's also talk of a old-yet-new anti-air tank, the Hunter. It's an old Epic tank that's never seen 40K scale rules, as far as I know. It sounds interesting, being a Predator-level vehicle with Whirlwind style guns. I'm sure it'll have Skyfire, but will it have Interceptor?
The thing I'm most excited about are the new kits. There's word of new boxes for Vanguard, Sternguard, and Tactical Marines. All of them are supposed to have more ornate armor with studded sections, seals, parchments, etc. I'm hoping for some "advancing" poses for Tactical Marines. Maybe some non-screaming helmetless heads for HQs. There's also supposed to be plastic clam packs for Chaplains and Librarians. I'm less excited about these, as the plastic clam pack models are great, but tend to be mono-pose models with little customizability. We'll see!
In painting news, I worked more on my Hive Tyrant last night. I'd gotten his carapace all the way up to Faded Khaki, but when I compared it to the talons I've already finished, it didn't match! I realized that I'd gone overboard with the light color, and forgotten to leave some dark areas at the top of each plate. I had to go back in with shade colors and flow improver and darken the top of each plate. I'm realizing how detrimental it is to paint separate pieces of a model months and months apart.
No new Marine progress, unfortunately. I've still got that Sternguard model hanging out on the desk waiting for his midtone coat.
I'm also waiting for the wife to buy another bottle of wine that has a cork and not a screw top. I have four Genestealers mounted to corks, and I need that fifth cork! She keeps buying screw-top wine without any consideration to my hobby needs, lol!