Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tau Fire Warriors - Bork'an Sept

So to kick off the new segment of Tutorial Reviews, I picked the Tau Firewarrior step-by-step from All Things 40k. As was the intent behind the review concept, I followed the tutorial to the letter, and then rated it off of three different categories; Artistry, Clarity, and Teachability. These three categories then get broken down into an overall mark out of 5. So let's get started; here's what the Firewarriors should look like (painted by the author):

Let's get started, shall we?

Artistry: - 8/10

This is a great looking bunch of models, and the photos are very well done. I never had a problem with clarity of the actual photos (All of which were nicely in focus) and the idea of adding the paint pot to the picture was a good one. When all is said and done, these Firewarriors really pop, with a cool, crisp finish that you don't see often with lighter coloured armies.

In terms of technique, I really can't fault much; these are very good minis, with a stellar paintjob. My only incongruity (In my experience with the tutorial) is that for the tutorial writer to get Space Wolf's Grey to cover in one coat, he must have laid it on really thick. I naturally thin down my paints, and as such they needed a second coat.

In addition, the writer does a stellar job on creating lenses for the Pulse Rifles and backpacks, but didn't put eyes on the Shas'ui... lets see the whites... er, oranges of those eyes! Other than those few nitpicky issues, however, an entire army done up in this colour scheme would look AMAZING on the tabletop, and would turn some heads.

Clarity: - 8/10

The writer is no slouch to creating tutorials (As showcased by the 15 or so he's written to date), but this one isn't always the most clear. It's a very simple and straightforward job he's done, easy to follow most of the time, with only a few hiccups along the way; some steps go into that detail, but others (Such as working on the Shas'ui's topknot), are merely a picture with some dialog. For intermediate painters, this shouldn't be a problem at all!

Sometimes though, there are times when you're left wondering what the intent of the step was, or whether or not you've completed it fully. For advanced painters (and intermediate ones), this isn't really a problem, as we're fairly certain of how he went about getting each effect (Washes, etc). A novice, brand new to the hobby, might have difficulties if they've never used this sort of thing before. This isn't for lack of trying on the writer's part, or elitism, but merely an oversight.

Teachability: - 7/10

This tutorial flip-flops back and forth between being better suited for an intermediate painter and an expert, as it doesn't try much to teach a new painter how to achieve the effects pictured in the tutorial. While this may give newcomers pause when attempting thier Bork'an Firewarriors, it is hardly an issue to higher level painters due to the simplicity of the paint scheme. (And the well documented photo log).

Where the writer really gains points is at the end, when he goes into teaching mode for the snow effects, going step by step and out of his way to get a good effect for the finished project. I for one found it very helpful, as my snow flock would have looked sludge-like and poor had I not followed his advice.

Given that this Tutorial pioneered new ground, however, and was innovative given its lack of prior source materials... since GW seems to think we all want orange Tau, I feel that it did an excellent job preparing me (An intermediate painter) for the task ahead.


I believe that this Tutorial is a very good one, and is far better than the Games Workshop Tutorial, which only gives users a picture of the Bork'an to go from. I feel it is best suited to Intermediate, or Advanced painters, given the less structured form of it, but the paint scheme is simple enough that new painters should be able to follow it without too much trouble.


Last Thoughts:

My experience with this tutorial was a largely positive one, and I will be continuing to follow the basics of it while working on my Tau. Needless to say, I will have to adapt it a bit for the purposes of Crisis Suits, Devilfish, and all other forms of units in the army. In addition to the tip about the Space Wolf Grey I mentioned earlier, I also suggest taking some undiluted Brown Ink and adding it to the Shining Gold part of the Pulse Rifle (Which I too have no idea what it is!). This adds some definition to it and adds to the high contrast look of the model.

My Result!

And now that you've read my thoughts on the matter, what about yours? Have you used this tutorial? Found ones like it, that are better/worse? Got results of your own to show off?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tutorial Reviews: Overview

Hello again!

So to kick off one of my semi-regular posts that'll be coming up, I'm writing this overview. My plan is to take tutorials that I find on the net and use them to paint certain models (Either where I haven't decided on a colour scheme yet, or where I just want to give it a shot), and review them based off thier usefulness and ability to output great looking models (As well as entertainment value as well!)

I'll be rating each tutorial out of 5. Three factors will go into making up that 5 points:

Artistry: Namely how good the models will look when all is said and done, and how good the quality of the pictures are that the tutorial writer is putting up. They're rated on a scale of 10, where...

  • 1-3 means the models will look subpar at best (3 colour minimum, or poor painting skill), and/or the pictures are terrible (blurry, off centered, etc...)
  • 4-6 means the finished product will be tabletop standard, looking good in a massed force from three to six feet away; Pictures are decent, but not incredible.
  • 7-9 means the finished product will draw attention from gamers that you face, where they will want to get down to table level, or ask to pick it up for a better look; these are what I'd consider models that would stand a good chance of getting you best painted, or possibly winning a painting contest. Picture Quality is good overall, no blurryness and well focussed.
  • A perfect 10 means the photos are run through photoshop, and this model could compete in a Golden Demon, if not win it! This is what I expect from people who've been in the hobby for years on end.

Clarity: Specifically how clear the instructions are, and the detail that the person goes into describing what all you need to do to paint the model(s).

  • 1-3 is earned because there are little to no instructions at all: Either no pictures accompanying the instructions, or just a picture with the name of the paint to apply next. These instructions are very vague and require you to fill in the blanks for much of the model.
  • 4-6 means the instructions are simple, and straight forward. Pictures are included, and the process is divided into steps that may contain multiple colours of paint being applied all at once. The instructions, while fairly clear, still leave holes and miss portions of the model.
  • 7-9 is received because the instructions are clear and detailed, showing you step-by-step in photos how the look was achieved for the model. If anything is missed it's one or two small details, like a button on a panel. For each step you only apply one colour of paint, with an accompanying photo.
  • A perfect 10 comes because there is no possibility for error. The tutorial designates what paint we're using, why, and on what portions of the model. Multiple pictures may be taken for this step, and they each have indicators of where the paint is going. The instructions are step-by-step, with nothing missed.

Teachability: This indicates how helpful the tutorial is in teaching new skills or pointing out trouble spots in the process of the tutorial, possibly by providing links to other sources on how to perform techniques, or noting different ways of acheiving certain effects.

  • 1-3 is a tutorial that doesn't attempt to help readers achieve its affects, using terminology and techniques that a brand new painter wouldn't even have heard of yet, let alone hope to accomplish. An example of this would be a tutorial that uses Non Metallic Metals to achieve a gold look, and for the step involving it says: "Use NMM shading to highlight the gold on the armor. When you're done, move on to step two."
  • 4-6 describes a tutorial that gives basic hints on how to achieve techniques stated, but doesn't go into much detail. It assumes you're at least an intermediate level painter, with a solid understanding of techniques involved, and are willing to try for more complicated ones. Example: "Use Non Metallic Metal shading on the Gold Armor. You're going to want to do some blended highlights, with the lightest colours on the bottom edges of the armor to achieve this. Once the armor is done..."
  • 7-9 is a tutorial that goes into great detail, step by step with techniques and actively tries to teach the new painter to paint to a higher level than what they've done before. It provides examples and photo advice of how to achieve particular effects, and points out trouble spots involved with what you're trying to achieve. An Example, using the Non Metallic Metals above, would be one that starts like so: "Non Metallic Metals are a great way to get a metallic sheen on your model, without actually using metallic paints. This is a multiple step process, however, and you need to pick your colours carefully. To do the gold armor...." And proceeds to split the gold armor up into several steps.
  • A perfect 10 provides multiple resources on how to achieve different techniques, and teaches as though the painter was just picking up a brush for the first time, giving them practice ideas, or alternatives to more difficult ideas. In Example, using the NMM techniques above, the tutorial writer would also add something like this: "Now, if you're not ready to try Non Metallics, this is how we achieve the look of gold with the metallic paints..."

These three categories will be what I use to generate my mark out of 5 for the Tutorial in general, and then there will be a blurb underneath about the level of difficulty that I ascribed this one (Beginner, Intermediate, Expert).

After that, I'll move onto my own experience following the tutorial, anything that I choose to alter from it, and my finished efforts that I came up with, followed by a comparison between the tutorial outcome, and my own. Finally, if I feel that certain areas weren't covered well enough, I'll post up resources on techniques that will help.

That being said, I'm off! I'll be posting my first review soon, on a Tau Firewarrior tutorial for the Bork'an sept. Until then, feel free to comment on the idea, if you have ideas, and sign up as a follower!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Spikey Bits Giveaway... Bloodcrushers!

The Spikey Bits Blog is having a monthly giveaway of one of the new Bloodcrusher sets! That's an awesome thing to receive!

Head on over to thier blog and sign up as a follower; that's all you need to do to get in on thier monthly giveaways, and judging from some past winners, they got great 40k sets such as the new Death Company!

The original post is here: Spikey Bits Contest

While you're at it, too, suggest MY blog to your friends as well; I'll be posting up notices of contests and giveaways that catch my eye from now on.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Step-By-Step: How to Paint Dragon Knight Assault Terminators

As anyone who's part of the Freebootaz Forum Motivational Challenge knows, I've been pounding away for the past 4 days on a unit of 5 Assault Terminators for a tournament on Saturday. As they're some of the most vividly striking models out there, I decided it'd be fun to do a 'step-by-step how to' on how to paint them up. This will help a) anyone that absolutely loves my DIY colour scheme to reproduce DragonKnights of your own, and b) help you take bits and pieces from the experience to help recreate parts of my paintjob that you like. There are a few things, such as faces, lenses, and the weaponry's energy effects that I won't be going into in the greatest of detail, mainly because I intend to do a tutorial on how to do those specifically in future.

So, without further ado, grab your brushes and paints, and let's go! Also, if you don't have a particular colour that I use, don't worry about it; I use exclusively Games Workshop paints, and they aren't that hard to mix to a different colour. Also, you'll note that the primered photos show a slight blue tinge to some of these guys. I had a bit of a disaster with the Army Painter blue spray in which almost all the detail was lost on the models. After a dunk in the bacta tank of Simple Green at home, however, we're right back on track!

Step 1: So to start off, we've got our primary basecoat. I mix roughly a 2:1 mix of regal blue to Midnight Blue. An acceptable substitute for Midnight (Since GW doesn't make it anymore!) is Necron Abyss. We just want to darken the Regal Blue a little to generate an undercoat; overload with Midnight blue or Necron Abyss, and it gives the armor a weird sheen.

Step 2: Next is a light coat of straight Regal Blue. You want to avoid getting it in all the cracks and crevices; this step is closer to a drybrush than actual painting. All you want to do is bring the prominent armor locations up to Regal Blue, leaving the darker colours underneath. If we were working with a lighter blue, I'd suggest an Asurmen Blue wash, but it doesn't show up very well here. Also, now is a good time to apply a coat of straight Regal Blue to the head of the Thunder Hammer.

Step 3: Mechrite Red now goes on the shoulder pads, shield, and the handle of the Thunder Hammer. This is our basecoat for those vibrant reds in a few more steps. I suggest leaving the purity seals and lenses alone for now, as we can use a better base than Mechrite.

Step 4: Astronomicon Grey is now used for the basecoat for everything we want a vibrant white (Helmet, Wings, Skulls on the shields), and the Crux Terminatus on the shoulder. Normally I base with Deneb Stone, and this is a perfectly acceptable alternative, but I find that the Grey allows for a far more striking contrast later. You do whatever you're more comfortable with!

Step 5: Boltgun Metal. This is my least favourite part, but it has to be done! The joints of the legs and arms, the vents on the back of the armor, the shaft of the hammer and the vents on the helmet need to be done. In addition, as each Terminator is unique on some level, there will be sensors and parts of the shield (In this case the dagger tied to the front) that you will want Boltgunned.

Step 6: The Shining Gold shoulder pad trim that distinguishes Dragon Knights from Crimson Fists, plus the kneepads as well, are absent for the most part here. Some of the Terminators will have kneecaps that need a coat straight onto the model (Which may be slightly poor to cover, so you may need two coats), and each Storm Shield has a Templar's style cross engraved on the front that can use a coat of it. Honour badges and the rings marking the edges of the hammer's grip also need a splash of paint.

Step 7: It's a bit dark to tell (And a poor model choice), but here's where the Deneb Stone comes in. This is the main colour for the purity seals attached to your Terminators (sometimes there can be 2-3 of them!). I also used it on the laurel on this Terminator's chest for a change, but some people will even colour them green. Don't feel my way is the only way!

Step 8: n the absence of Brazen Brass (Another dead colour from GW's past), I'm using Dwarf Bronze on the cables to the Thunder Hammer and the round joints on the Terminator armor. In addition, the two prongs on the end of the helmet look great done up this way, as we'll make them look dark copper by the time we're done.

Step 9: Now for a final touch, apply some Scab Red to the wax on the purity seals. This marks the end of the 'basecoating' stage; while there are a couple '1 shot' items of paint now, the bases are done now. If want, skip ahead to the Mithril Silver section, and you can put these on the table and count them as fully painted in 10 steps! However, if you want to go further,keep going with the next step. Washes!

Step 10: Now we get to a slightly less time consuming portion of the tutorial; if you work quickly, you can get 3-4 washes on a single model, and then let it sit for 15 minutes until it's all dry, rather than applying a wash, waiting for it to dry, applying another wash, etc. So to start off, apply a Badab Black wash to all the points of the model you painted Boltgun Metal, AND Astronomicon Grey. The Grey will look incredibly dark, but never fear, it'll come out looking crisp and bright when we're done! I've had it told to me before, and I agree: the new washes are skill in a bottle! Apply a few of these and your mini will look 100% more finished than it did before!

Step 11: If you have Brown Ink, you're golden, otherwise you might want to try Devlan Mud, though the Mud generally doesn't work quite as well since it has a dull sheen. You want to apply the Brown Ink CAREFULLY to the interior edges of the cross on the shield, to darken the red in there and give the gold a stronger contrast. Then you want to apply the ink in a 2:1 Water to ink wash to the gold on the model, being careful not to let the shiny ink slop. Also, you want to put a 1:1 mix of the ink and water on all the dwarf bronze areas (Cables and joints). Lastly, use the 2:1 mix (Sparingly, let a paper towel absorb some of it first), to outline the Crux Terminatus that you washed black, on the red, to draw a dark circle around it.

Step 12: Apply a Griphonne Sepia wash to all Deneb Stone (Which should be, for the most part, just the purity seals. I also applied it to the greenstuff tabard of my Sarge.)

Step 13: Apply Asurmen Blue to the red grip of the Thunder Hammer. This is going for a red leather look; if you want to experiment, try a Leviathan Purple or Thraka Green wash for nice results! One note of caution though; Baal Red doesn't wash well with Mechrite AT ALL, mainly because the Baal Red wash has a lighter pigment.

Step 14: Working with white has always bothered me; it usually used to come out looking very blotchy and you can see the undercoat beneath the white. However I tested this method on the Terminators, and it turned out nicely! Mix your Skull White 2:1 Paint:Water, and then highlight the helmet as though it was a face, letting the grey underneath show through. I'll be posting a more in depth Tutorial on Faces and Helmets later, but for now, highlight the bridge of the 'nose', the edges of the 'cheeks', and the top of the helmet with the 3 bumps, allowing the Grey to show through in the cracks like I've done here. It'll probably take two coats of white mixed 2:1, but once done you'll have a striking helmet! Also use this on anything else you painted Astronomicon Grey, AND the outer edges of the purity seals.

Step 15: Now apply a nice, even coat of Blood Red to the Shoulder Pads, Shield, and raised edges of the wax for the purity seals, letting the scab red show in the center of the wax. Leave the eyes for now; we'll get to them in a bit. Also, you can basecoat your gemstones if you're going to make them red in the long run.

Step 16: Now apply Mithril Silver to the honour badges on the Terminator armor, and highlight the metal that you washed black with it as well, hitting the upper edges of anything that has sharp corners. Don't over-do it though; you just want a hint of light glinting off the venerated metal.

Step 17: This step will take a while, and may have you frustrated by the time you're done! Take Enchanted Blue, straight out of the bottle, and apply it carefully with your fine detail brush to EVERY hard edge on the suit of Terminator Armor that was painted Regal Blue. Right now we're just picking out the edges, so don't worry about directional highlighting just yet, and don't worry too much if you slop onto the rest of the armor; as long as it doesn't mar something on a red or white section, you should be fine. We can clean up any little mistakes later with some more Regal Blue. Also, now is a great time to drybrush Enchanted Blue onto the hammer head, letting the back edge of it stay Regal Blue

Step 18: Enter the Sarge! This next step (after you've been cursing all the blue highlighting), is relatively simple and short; take some Fortress Grey and apply it to the Crux Terminatus, allowing the darker gray in the crevices to show through, instead of filling them.

Step 19: Back to all this highlighting nonsense, this step shouldn't take as long as the enchanted blue did. Apply Blazing Orange to ALL the edges of the shoulder pads, and the shield, interior edges included. Also, any gems that you based blood red can get a highlight of orange now too.

Step 20: Now you want to go back over the areas you just did, and pick out the upper edges and corners of the red areas and cover over them with a thin coat of Fiery Orange. This shouldn't take too long, just a steady hand.

Step 21: With the Chaos Black, we're just going to pick out a couple details. For the purity seals, water down the black to a 2:1 paint/water mix, and hold the brush a little farther back than you normally would. This'll make your hand shake a bit, but it's worth it, as your slightly squiggling brush will now create 'script' on those purity seals that's convincing. In addition, fearless painters may want to write names on engraved parchment like on the Sarge's chest and the shield of one of the Terminators.

Step 22: This step will consume a bit of paint, mainly because Mithril Silver and Shining Gold both dry very quickly, and they look terrible watered down. Anyhow, you want a 1:1 mix of the two paints, and you want to pick out the upper edges of all the gold on the model, wherever light would strike. This is an excellent opportunity to also clean up any small spills you had with the brown ink! Don't highlight the dwarf bronze though; we're done fooling with it.

Step 23: With a fine detail brush, you want to base the eye lenses in Scab Red. I'm going to do the next few steps all at once, since I'm going to do a lense tutorial in the future. If you're not fond of doing them though, Scab Red is a perfectly legitimate colour to leave them. If you want a good tutorial on how to do them though, Look inside "How to Paint Space Marines" for the guide I use.

Steps 24-26: Here we have the finished lenses; after applying the Scab Red, cover half the lense with Blood Red, with the lighter red facing towards the front of the helmet. Next cut that red area in half with Blazing Orange, and finish with a dot of skull white at the apex of the lense, near the back. You know you've found the right spot if it's the point where the lense bumps out the most, and then suddenly retracts into the helmet. This might be easiest if you have a raggedy old fine detail brush down to its last few bristles. Now's also a great time, since you have the white, to clean up any mistakes you made with the red that went out onto the helmet.

Step 27: This is another finicky bit, but not as tricky as the gold. We've got the same idea; Mix a 1:1 mix of Enchanted Blue and Ice Blue, and apply it to only the upper edges of the armor. They don't dry quite as quickly, and you should be able to keep them fairly thin with the occasional drop of water. The tricky bit though, is knowing when to stop; generally I use the rule that if you cut the length of an edge into thirds, this highlight should only take up 1/3rd of the edge. On a square piece of armor, therefore, with two edges pointing skyward, you would have 1/3rd of the mixed highlight, 1/3rd in the center pure enchanted blue, and the remaining 1/3rd the mixed highlight. Play around with it, find what you're comfortable with, and don't forget to drybrush this colour onto the hammer head!

Step 28: What, another blue highlight? I'm going mad! This time apply thinned down ice blue to the upper corners of everything, just like you did with the Fiery Orange. You should only be covering about half of each of those mixed highlights you just did, to give a nice crisp transition. Lastly, that hammer head is really starting to look frosty towards the front... give it another drybrush!

Step 29: Since we've been working at it all the way through this tutorial, we might as well finish the Thunder Hammer, though I'll be re-posting the way I do them at a later date. Now mix a 2:1 Skull White/Ice Blue mix, and drybrush this onto the STRIKING POINT on the hammer... repeat, only where he's going to be hitting people. Now clean off your brush even further, and carefully drybrush back along the edges of the hammer to the back of it; if you worked up the colours in stages, it'll look like this blue force is working its way to the head of the hammer to erupt on contact!

Step 30: This step is up to you whether you do it or not; I like to apply 'Ardcoat to the leather part of the hammer haft, and all the gems on the terminator to give them a bit more sparkle and make the leather look shiny. If you use a spray on Matte Varnish (I recommend Army Painter for this!), you'll want to wait until afterwards to put this on, or else your shine will disappear!

Step 31: Last, but not least, the finishing touch to the model is the Chapter Symbol on the right arm. I'll be doing a tutorial on freehand (once I'm better at it!), but for now the paint scheme is Deneb Stone for the base of the wings, followed by skull white for the striations on the wings. Chaos Black on the Dragon's Head, followed by Codex Grey for the sword blade. Go over the black slightly with Blood Red for the hilt of the sword, and then outline it in black. Finish up with blazing orange for the glowing nostrils.

Step 32: No picture for this step, mainly because I'll be doing a basing article later as well; however, for my bases I start with Scorched Brown, Drybrush heavily on Bestial Brown, Moderately Snakebite Leather, and then increasingly lighter Drybrushes of Snakebite:Skull White mix, until it reaches the colour of bleached bone. The base I then ring with Black, and stick Games Workshop Static "Glade" Grass to it sporadically.

And now you're done!

I hope everyone found this helpful, and enjoyed the read. I'll be posting a tutorial on how to do SM Helmets and bare Faces in the future, as well as basing techniques and how-to paint Powered Weapons. If there's anything here anyone would like a tutorial for in particular (Like an in-depth look at the white, or hard edging), feel free to let me know and I'll put it into the pipeline.

Comments are welcome, and encouraged!! For now, this is DragonKnight, signing off!