Siege Studios Essentials Masterclass

Last weekend I had the privilege of attending the Essentials Masterclass run by Siege Studios at Wayland Games in Hockley, Essex.

I'd always wanted to attend a painting workshop like this to meet with like-minded people and learn how to push my painting to the next level.

The course took place at the impressive Wayland Games centre, a large warehouse filled with gaming tables (and a very well stocked shop, which is either a good or bad thing depending on your budget!). We were sat upstairs in a large studio space which provided a good base of operations.

Over the course of the weekend we were introduced to a variety of techniques that I would agree are essential for producing great looking miniatures. We started off with the basics, creating a simple zenithal highlight using an airbrush, which even though it took all of 2 minutes, produced a really impressive effect.

Next we moved on to wet blending on a Space Marine shoulder pad, I found this quite difficult initially as it was something I'd never really attempted before to this level, but the instruction of James, Rich and Ben really helped, they walked around the room advising on next steps and giving advice wherever required, but ultimately letting us settle into our own methods. I was pretty happy with the results overall, and it's something I'll be practicing much more in the coming months.

Other topics we covered included weathering, decal application, the use of a wet palette (I'm a convert for sure, revolutionary!), faces, gems and my favourite, power swords!

The power sword section was probably my favourite section, and was taught in a very clear way, it's something I've always wanted to try myself but didn't really know how to begin, using the techniques we were taught, I was able to produce a result I was very happy with, it's another technique that will only improve the more I practice it, so I'll definitely be working it into my weekly technique learning slot of my hobby time (an excellent idea suggested by the guys too).

There was also plenty of time during the course for free painting, an excellent time to add some of the new techniques learned to your own models, or ask the advice of the instructors on any other projects you were working on, nothing was off limits.
The finished set of all my practice pieces from the weekend

A detailed view of the hairspray technique weathering lesson, tough to get the hang of initially but I was happy with how it turned out, potential for some amazing results with this as well in the future!

Probably the piece I'm most proud of, my weathered back panel from a Rhino, I will be applying these weathering techniques on all my future tanks as I really love the look!

The instructors James, Rich and Ben were all really great guys, more than happy to help and go over anything we didn't pick up the first time around, they're all very keen painters and their enthusiasm is infectious. It was great chatting about painting and the hobby in between the taught segments of the course, although my my list of paints to buy has grown considerably from these chats!

Overall the weekend was a fantastic experience, the chance to work with such excellent teachers was worth the price alone, and I came away with my head completely full of new ideas and techniques, it really invigorated me to push my painting further and have a go at entering competitions in the near future. I'd highly recommend attending one of their courses if you can, definitely worth a trip!


Forgeworld Weathering Powders - First attempt

I finally managed to complete my Kastelans that have been sat on my painting table for the past 6+ months this week. Better late than never right.

This was my first attempt at quite a few techniques. The initial base colours were put down using my airbrush, I'm very keen to learn some new techniques for this during the course of this year so figured this was a good start. I laid down the base colours of Mephiston Red up to Wild Rider Red in a zenithal fashion, spraying the very final highlights sparingly from above.

This resulted in a very clean looking model, something a 10000 year old battle robot certainly would not be. I applied quite a bit of sponge-chipping with Abaddon Black, followed by Leadbelcher. This at least broke up the surface a little, and added some much-needed battle damage.

Now it was on to the weathering powders from Forgeworld. I purchased these at the last open day in Nottingham, and haven't dared use them until now. For the robots I used the Rust colour.

I used an old brush to sprinkle some clumps of powder in some areas that I thought would accumulate rust the most. I then touched a brush loaded with white spirit onto the surfaces that had powder on them. The white spirit flooded over the powder quite quickly, you shouldn't manipulate the powders at this stage.

Once the white spirit had dried, the powders were partially set in place, I then used an old scruffy brush to smudge the clumps that had formed and work the powder properly into the recesses of the model. I then sealed the whole thing by airbrushing Vallejo Matte Varnish.

The results are below, what do you think? I think I perhaps went a little overboard on the rust, but as this was my first attempt I'm pretty happy with the results! On my next project I'll try some of the different powders I picked up, the ones for simulating mud and dust look particularly fun.

Until next time


2016 Resolutions: Diet? Sobriety? Nah, let's paint more!

It seems most of my friends are either deciding to diet, or not drink alcohol at all (or as much) for their 2016 New Year resolutions. I'm adopting a less extreme approach and trying to just scale back my vices instead of cutting out all joy and then failing miserably as early as February then hating myself.

My real resolutions include other ways to improve my life that I wish I had done more of in 2015. I want to travel more, find a new more fulfilling career, read more fiction for pleasure, and of course paint more models!

I have a large backlog (don't we all) of miniatures in various states of completion, my first task this year will be to finish all the half-started projects I have lying around my craft-cave, off the top of my head these include:

  • FW Horus
  • FW Dread Maw
  • 10 Dark Angels Tactical Marines
  • Dark Angels Razorback
  • Dark Angels Predator
  • 2 Mechanicum Kastelan Robots
  • Betrayal at Calth - Big one this, still being built so maybe I can leave it until later in the year)
My aim is to finish these half-jobs and get them in the cabinet before starting anything else, and there is no shortage of things to start either.

I'd also love to be able to enter a Golden Demon competition this year, depending on what format GW decides to run them in. We'll see!

What hobby resolutions have you guys got for this year, and how do you plan on sticking with them?



The return of Specialist Games!

I'm sure by now people have seen the massive announcement from GW this week about the return of the Specialist Games studio, bringing back old favourites such as BFG, Blood Bowl, and Necromunda!

Basically they have formed a new expanded portion of the studio to incorporate the specialist games, LotR/Hobbit and Forge World. Betrayal at Calth is the first example of the sort of individual boxed games they are set to produce, as well as re-releasing and revisiting older classic IPs mentioned above.

To me this feels like a return to the "Golden Age" of GW, it seems as if they're finally listening to consumers and making some positive changes to the way they run their business, which can only be a good thing in my opinion. Now just bring White Dwarf back to the quality it was during the late 90's/early 00's and everyone will be happy!

Let me know what you think. Personally, I haven't felt this positive about GW in a long time.


Horus Heresy Boxed Game - Internet Meltdown

So unless you live under a rock, or have been away from the hobby for a while, you'll have noticed that GW are very soon going to release their long anticipated plastic entry into the Horus Heresy series, "Betrayal at Calth", which has been exclusively FW based up until now. The internet is currently collectively shitting itself over images and rumors of contents.

Some pics have now leaked and they look pretty sweet to me.
All credit to millests.blogspot.fr for the leaks

Current rumors suggest the set will be a standalone "game" containing what seems to be one complete army. How this is supposed to be split between two players to play the game remains to be seen.

The images also suggest potentially a similar game to the Execution Force standalone released earlier in the year, lots of cardboard pieces and even more rumors of hex-based movement.

This is clearly a product that people care about a lot. There will be people who are overwhelmed with joy at the box, hopefully saving themselves some cash on buying FW-only pieces. Others will hate everything it represents and will likely be the more vocal side, if past releases have taught us anything.. *cough* Age of Sigmar.

Time will tell, pre-orders up on the 7th November.


Transferring Citadel paint into dropper bottles

Here's a project that has taken me weeks longer than I'd have ever thought (or hoped).

Having recently taken the plunge and buying an airbrush setup (Iwata Revolution for those wondering) and having it change my life (no hyperbole, well maybe a little), I decided to take on the grand task of transferring all my Citadel paint (200+ pots) into a more convenient dropper bottle format much like the beloved Vallejo. The idea being that once I run out of a GW colour I will replace it with the Vallejo equivalent.

My initial eBay searches found me buying 100 cheap plastic dropper bottles much like Vallejo ones but a little smaller from a Chinese retailer for about £11.

They arrived after a few weeks and I began the project in earnest. The main problems, and there were many, went as follows:

  • The openings on the bottles were tiny, pouring paint into them directly from a Citadel pot proved too much of a challenge, I must have wasted more paint doing this than I've ever put on models in my life.
  • Some of the bottles were not perfect, and had tiny holes in them around joints and seals, something I didn't realise until later, obviously drying out some of my paint.
  • Tiny metal funnels (eBay again, think they're designed for transferring perfume into other bottles) make the job easier, but you really need to thin the Citadel paint down dramatically and then there's the hassle of rinsing out the funnels every time you use them etc.
Overall I considered the project a partial success. After weeks I had moved most of my paint over to these little dropper bottles and was reasonably happy with the results.

The problems became evident when it was finally time to use the paints, I realised that hardly any of the bottles had a good seal on them, and most had dried paint in the dropper part, blocking up the hole. Not ideal.

I eventually found a different retailer on eBay (The Plastic Bottle Company) and ordered a few of their High Density 18ml bottles to test. They were much better quality with a firm finish and a secure lid. The 2nd stage paint transfer project began.

The process:

  • Here's how the bottle come, in 3 parts. You simply push the dropper top into the bottle and screw the lid on once it's full of paint, easy.

  • First things first with the citadel bottles is to remove the label and transfer it onto the new bottle, pretty simple with a nice sharp scalpel, you can then add some water to thin the paint to aid in the pouring stage which comes next. How much water you add depends on how thick the paint already is, I generally pretty much topped up the pot with water in most cases, and gave it a good shake.

  • Once the paint is at a reasonable consistency and is nicely mixed, it should be ok to free-pour into the new pot, this could take a few attempts to get right, but by the time I was finished doing all 200+ of my own, I could pretty much do it blindfolded if needed. You never know. A good tip is to snip the little hinges on the back of the citadel pot to completely remove the lid, you don't want it flapping shut mid-pour or anything.
  • Finally simply assemble the new pot and sling the other one in the bin.
  • Bask in the glory of your new super efficient easy to use dropper bottle GW paint. Mmmm. Now just try not to go mad repeating this X times for your whole paint collection. We all go a little mad sometimes.
Hope you enjoyed! Please feel free to comment below and share away.


Forgeworld's Emperor's Children Painting Scheme

So one of my many, many ongoing projects is starting a 30k Emperor's Children force. I really like the tone of the FW official paint scheme in recent publications, a nice rich pinky-purple. Having recently bought some of their new airbrush paints and not being able to work out a good recipe to recreate the colour, I decided to email them on the off-chance that they would tell me how they do it before the new Horus Heresy painting guide is released next year.
To my pleasant surprise they replied within the hour:

  • Base: Phoenician Purple
  • Highlight: Kakophoni Purple
  • Edge Highlight: 50/50 Typhon Ash/Kakophoni Purple
  • Metal: Iron Hands Steel
  • Gold: Thallax Gold
Seems pretty simple to me, but I was quite surprised it didn't include more of the other purples in the range, such as the extreme highlight one (the name escapes me) and the Chemos Purple darker colour. There is also a clear purple (Eidolon?) that I was expecting to be used.

As far as the scheme goes, in my head this sounds pretty sweet, I may add a wash of GW Druchii Violet or similar into the recesses for depth, and I probably will just use GW metallic paints too for the metal and gold.

I'm going to give it a shot using my airbrush later tonight on a test marine and we'll see what the results bring! Watch this space.


A new start (again)

Time to start this whole thing again!

I've kept the posts from the (ancient) past, and will be planning on doing regular updates on various projects I have going on at the minute.

Fingers crossed I keep up with it this time, third time lucky!

A little about me (updated):

I have been involved in this grand old time-absorbing money-dissolving hobby for around 15 years now. It all started way back in 2000/2001 when I purchased a 3rd Ed. 40K starter set with my friend, I took Space Marines, naturally, and he kept the Dark Eldar portion. We kept up with it for a while but gradually he drifted away from the hobby and I stuck with it.

I continued for a few years until I went off to uni and decided in my infinite wisdom I would probably never hobby again, I sold all my collection on eBay to provide some beer tokens, in hindsight an enormous mistake.

After uni and during my masters course in 2009 I decided I needed a hobby to have some time off thesis writing, and wandered into my local GW to see what was going on. It didn't take long for them to suck me straight back in after our initial "you haven't played since 3rd Edition?? Sit down..." discussion.

Since then it's been full on hobby love, I eventually replaced my entire old collection (paying a lot more now as a lot of what I had is now pretty collectible) during a long and protracted eBay purchasing campaign.

My main focus is painting, as ever, and as such I'm currently scaling down my large collection to leave me with the pieces I actually want to paint and display.

My current projects include (but are not limited to, of course); Tyranids, Ad Mech, Dark Angels, 30K Emperor's Children, Horus Heresy characters, Bolt Action German Army, Fine Molds Millenium Falcon and a host of other individual models I've promised myself I will get to one day. One day...

Magnetising a Tyranid Hive Tyrant

I've been attempting to magnetise the plastic hive tyrant kit in order to switch it out between the Swarmlord and a normal hive tyrant on foot. Here's where I've got so far.
  • pin vice
  • 1mm, 2mm and 3mm drill bits
  • 2mm and 3mm rare earth magnets
  • paper clip/brass rod (1mm)
  • wire clippers
  • super glue
  • patience
I started by drilling a 2mm guide hole (not too deep so you don't penetrate the body cavity) into one of the arm sockets on the torso. This hole was widened out with the 3mm drill, and a 3mm magnet glued into place (ensure you get your polarities right so the arms will stick and not repel!).
In order to line up the arms I put a blob of white paint in the centre of the magnet in the torso and placed the arm in the socket at the angle required, this put a mark on the arm joint to tell me where to drill the next hole. After drilling another 3mm hole into the arm joint another 3mm magnet was glued into place, again checking polarities.
I came across a problem at this point, the weight of a scything talon arm caused it to droop down when the miniature was moved around. This could be due to the strength of the magnets, I had no idea when buying them that you can get different strengths (the N value) so perhaps in future I will try to buy stronger ones. I got around the problem (after almost giving up) by using pins to hold the joint in place.
I drilled a 1mm hole above the magnet in the torso and carefully lined up a corresponding hole in the arm above the magnet again. I then cut a short length of paper clip (approx. 3mm) and glued it into place in the hole in the arm. This enables the magnet to hold the arm in place, and the pin stops any unnecessary rotation of the limb.
On the weapon arms where the left arm connects to the weapon I will be using a 2mm magnet to secure it into place, pics to follow.
Hopefully all that makes sense, and you can see my progress in the gallery below. Just the rest of the arms to go now... that's a lot of weapon options.


KR Backpacks!


Just ordered myself a KR backpack and foam for my new Dark Elves! If you order in July you get an additional KR card case and foam for FREE. As a fan of a good bargain I thought I should point this out. I'll review the product when it arrives next week. Click the link above to check out the deal yourselves.