Monday, 23 January 2012

The "Big Divide" nearly swallowed me up !

     I popped in to my local Games Workshop yesterday to pick up a pot of paint.  Now I normally use Vallejo paints but I do quite like the Citadel Foundation range and the inks are good too. I'm no stranger to this store as I have been visiting for the last 18 years but I realised I haven't been in quite a while. I love Sci FI gaming and painting but my interest in Warhammer 40K has waned quite a bit, I have come to the conclusion that 5th Edition is overly simplistic and is more of a dice rolling exercise then anything - but I will save that epiphany for another day. 
     I chose my paint waited at the counter and was greeted by the staffer "Hey haven't seen you in ages, you OK ? What you working on ?". Well - I'm working on several different Infinity armies but not wanting to upset him too much in his own store I said "oh a few bits", straight back at me "like what ?". Now I know this is programmed into the staff to try and drive sales, but it does wear a bit thin every single visit so I said "Infinity". Without even a pause he replied "Oh that's crap, the rules are really awful - the worst I've seen". Now Infinity has a steep learning curve and isn't easily broken down into steps where you role a handful of D6 whilst your opponent stands around waiting to remove all his models and repeat the process back to you . I love the Infinity rules, I want to be able to Air-drop on to a roof, throw smoke grenades charge through the smoke and hack into the net to disable something big. I love being able to have Thermal Optic camo, Mimetism and multi ammo sniper rifles ! Infinity for me perfectly replicates Special Forces Sci FI action with a cinematic feel to it and actively involves both sides at the same time - none of that waiting around nonsense ! I couldn't help feel that his response, although heartfelt wasn't at all genuine, wasn't based around his own experience but more around company indoctrination. "I'm also painting up a Malifaux crew" I threw at him, "Nah don't like the look of it - the figures aren't very good" was his response. He had clearly lost all interest in continuing the conversation but as he started to walk away I called out "I've nearly finished my Hordes Orboros army and I can't decide to get Firestorm Armada or Dystopian Wars next !" He just kept walking as if I was lost to him. 
     I don't really have a problem with Games Workshop, they sell their products, they're happy. I can understand them not allowing other companies products in their stores - they are there to sell Games Workshop stuff after all.  What does concern me is this denial of a larger world out there, it's got to be Games Workshop paint, with Games Workshop brushes on Games Workshop figures, played on a Games Workshop table whilst listening to a Games Workshop Audio Book. Have you noticed that they refer to it as the Games Workshop hobby ? I thought it was wargaming and I thought we were all wargamers together ? Denying the bigger picture is disingenuous and does nobody any favours in the long run.Go along to an independent Wargame show and look at the trade stands, the demo games and the variety of people happily rubbing shoulders. I will take the time to look at demo games of eras and rules that I have no interest in whatsoever, but you can see the work that has gone into it, the passion behind it and although I like rules A and they like rules B you can still have an interesting, adult conversation coming from a similar, common background.
     When grown men auto reply "That's crap" without thought, it can only be divisive and damaging to the future health of our small community.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Salt Mask Weathering Tutorial

Hi. Martin over at Fire Broadside kindly commented on the Sarissa building post. He quite rightly pointed out that some variance in colours would help break up the uniformity of the panels and this is already something I have planned for then next building. This first building was a quick test of how well the material would stand up to painting etc. Martin also asked about the salt mask weathering method I had used. Luckily I had taken some work in progress pictures of the process so here is a quick tutorial. I can't take any credit for anythign in here as this method has been used for years by military modellers and railway modellers and more recently by firms like Forgeworld and Mig to get realistic weathering effects easily.

1. Undercoat your model making sure you get a good smooth finish

2. Paint in areas of brown and rust colours like Vallejo Hull Red and Games Workshop Vermin Brown, you are aiming for a patchy variation in colouring everywhere that you want to be weathered. Think carefully before you do this about where and why some areas would be worn and others not, to get the most realistic effect. Alternatively for a chipped effect you could paint this colour as a different older paint coat that has been painted over and now is chipped and revealed. Unfortunately this picture didn't come out well so I will insert a new one in here when I do the next building.

3. Wait until thoroughly dry. Then apply a coat of normal aerosol hairspray over the areas you have just painted. Whilst this is wet (it doesn't stay wet long so do all your prep first) sprinkle normal table salt over these areas. This coating of salt is what will be removed later so ensure you have the right coverage for the effect you are going for - are you trying for minor paint chipping or large areas of weathered surface ?

4. When this has dried properly, spray your top coat colour of paint, ensure you get a good even coverage and do not soak the areas that have been salt masked. I find it best to aim for one even coat rather then several thin coats and definitely not one heavy thick coat ! In the pictures below you can clearly see all the rough textured areas where the salt is.

5. Finally wait for the paint to completely dry. If you do this stage too soon you risk washing all your new paint off. When dry wet a large, soft brush and rub away gently at all the raised areas of salt. As the water penetrates it will dissolve the hairspray and the salt will come away revealing the paint colour below with a random edge and give the effect of paint being chipped and weathered. Make sure you get all the salt off as otherwise you end up with a strange rough texture to the surface that ruins the effect.

To finish the whole process you can add streaks of inks and weathering powders and a slight highlight to the bottom edge of every chip (very time consuming) but well worth the effort. This final stage gives the chips a 3D effect and makes them really pop out.

Hope this helps and as always if you have any questions or comments please reply !

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Sarissa Precision System Infinity Terrain

     The Frontline Gamer recently revealed to the world over Christmas the new scenery from Sarissa Precision. This is HDF laser cut Sci Fi terrain suitable for just about any system -  but especially Infinity. The modularity of  the System stuff really appealed and so did the look of it, I'm not really sure it will fit with the Infinity board I am  creating from scratch out of Foamed PVC but at the very worse I will have two different boards to game on ! As soon as it was released I put in an order for some trial pieces and some of their Western themed buildings for a Malifaux table as well (more about that another day). Delivery was quick and I was really impressed with the level of detail laser etched in to every piece. They went together so easily they almost built themselves. There had been some discussion on the Infinity forum about HDF / MDF soaking up paint. I wasn't convinced so as a test I took the smallest building, I assembled it, undercoated it once with my standard grey Halfords spray primer, waited till it was dry, added some weathering details, hairspray and salt masked, airbrushed with Vallejo Air grey and then finally scrubbed in water. I have added a few highlight chips in places. The entire work was done in the space of a day with lots of spare time in-between. I think I could easily have finished a table full of buildings to this standard in the course of a single day (that would be an interesting trial to carry out Steve if you are reading this !).
     I can say this did not soak up any of the undercoat, it dried to a perfect smooth finish, none of the detail is obscured and it hasn't degraded in any way at all from the washing and salting treatment it got. I've decided to add some pictures - including some extreme close ups for people to see the effects themselves. Please excuse any mistakes you find, it isn't yet finished and was a trial piece.
     The only issue I have is the laser etching is so very fine - but deep, it was very difficult for me to black line details like the doors, ideally I would them to pop out more and not look as 2D from distance. I am still working on some ideas so may come back to this later.

Front view showing detachable ladder

Side view - at the bottom you can see the struts they sit on - these fit into holes on the roofs of larger buildings allowing you to stack any way you want. What a good idea !

Back view - the front's and backs are identical -allowing me to slip out the back when the enemy comes knocking at the front.

Here you can see where the detail around the door and panel lines doesn't pop out enough from a distance. It is there as the close ups will show but is fine detailing.

Close up of the ladder - these are modular detachable and cool !

Front detail of the door area, the surface of the HDF took weathering powders, inks, hairspray and salt really well and I think looks realistically weathered enough for wargaming terrain.

     Hope this helps anyone thinking of buying the System Terrain, Sarissa Precision seem very easy to deal with and nice people and have a number of new pieces on the way. Any questions just ask !

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

3 . . 2 . .1 . . Go !

Well following the inspiration set recently by the Frontline Gamer (check his excellent blog out) I have decided to have a go myself. Hopefully this page is up and running to the outside world  and not just visible to me ! I have nothing to say of any importance to anyone, just my own ramblings and a strange desire to air them. A comedian the other day said when he realised what an arse he was, it was so empowering, as he no longer had any reason to listen to himself. When a stranger argued with him about something he simply pointed out that he doesn't care what he himself thinks - so what hope does a complete stranger have ?