Saturday, 28 January 2017

Gaming Memories - Colonel Eugene Del'Ragio

After a lot of dry painting articles and showcase style stuff, I decided to do something I've wanted to do for a while. I'm starting a new series on the blog today called "Gaming Memories" where I'll be taking memorable characters and events from my gaming history and writing up a little bit about the character and why they mean so much to me.

First up is what may be my favourite mini in my whole collection. I know you're all wondering why looking at this badly painted Cadian Sergeant, but I had some of the best games of my life playing with this guy.

He was originally part of a game co-created with my brother in our teens known by the somewhat obviously film inspired title "Mad Max". It was a post apocalyptic battle game that combined old Warhammer Mechanics with as many classic mental 40k minis as we could muster. Characters gained experience as they battled in what was basically a 10-20 man strong arena of death where ammo was scarce and after a few turns nobody could afford to pay for another bullet (every shot was costed and paid for out of the spoils of every fight) so it normally ended with a few characters locked in combat vying for the grand prize.

After plenty of matches in that style, we introduced new game modes; pitting our characters in teams against various foes with free ammo. Classic scenarios included Zombie Attack (which we played from dawn till dusk on more than one occasion), Vehicle Race, Breakthrough, and VS. Del'Ragio. Del'Ragio as the Colonel and sole commander of a well drilled unit of men known only as Del'Ragio's Desert Dogs; who battled our characters in a bid for supremacy. He even had his own elite Del'Ragian Guard. He almost always lost due mostly to his men's over enthusiastic assault rifle fire (that led to way too many jams) and the fact that our characters by this point had far better stats, weapons and equipment, although he did have numbers on his side.

Over time Del'Ragio built up a persona and character of his own; his trademark massive eyebrows eventually leading to the first name "Eugene" being added in homage to actor Eugene Levy (also known as "Jim's Dad, from American Pie"). He was just about the only one of his men who ever seemed to be able to fight, and was seemingly hard-bitten and hilarious in equal measure.

The game system also leant itself to some very hilarious and inspiring moments as well as epic failures; with mechanics written in for shooting grenades out of the air, defusing dynamite and even flying aeroplanes in the later editions. Del'Ragio did all these things and more as we played the game for several years on-and-off, long after our old Warhammer Fantasy had been relegated to a drawer in the bedroom (or several).

His character grew over the years; becoming ever more daring and outrageous. He led his men from the front into withering shell-fire, hordes of zombies and haywire robots; always stern with his face set in a rigour like constipated grimace. It almost always led to complete annihilation, but his character was set in stone. These days I can only salute him as a symbol of overblown masculinity.

He even inspired my bother some years later to pen a piece of fiction that really captures what he is all about. As it stands, at some point, I'd love to have a go at making and painting a new miniature for him, but it'll have to wait till inspiration hits.

Eugene DelRagio - A Tribute

Eugene DelRagio was a pretty average guy; average height, average weight, average hairstyle and average sexual appetite. But there was one thing that DelRagio wasn’t average at, killing alien butt-holes! In fact some might say that it was his area of expertise.

“Die you alien butt-hole!” yelled DelRagio enthusiastically as he smashed his vibro-machete through the torso of the monstrosity bearing down on him. The creature screamed and twitched spasmodically, flicking its scythe bladed upper limbs towards him. DelRagio’s return stroke severed both limbs to bloody stumps in an instant and the thing fell away, bleeding green gunge into the brown dirt. “That’s what you get!” hollered DelRagio, whirling his vibro-machete and depositing a good measure of the vivid green goop onto the cowering heads of his remaining squad members nearby. Suddenly, a hail of weird alien projectiles smashed in to the debris the squad were using as cover. One of DelRagio’s men was reduced to a chunky red smear in the blink of an eye. The squad returned fire as best they could, blind-firing wildly over their makeshift barricade. Most of the shots went wide or ricocheted from the armoured carapaces of the alien beasts. Eugene DelRagio turned on the spot, unlimbering his weapon. Quickly he struck a pose and loosed a barrage of hyper-velocity rounds from his fully-automatic belt-fed rail-cannon. The insane power of the massive weapon stitched enormous entry wounds across the torsos of the alien warriors; the exit wounds were even more enormous but nobody was in a position to appreciate them.

“Yeah! Taste it!” bellowed DelRagio, pumping his fist heartily as his rail-cannon cycled ready for another salvo. Just as the ridiculously heavy metal blaring from his helmet radio reached an ear shredding crescendo it was interrupted by a message from the squad command net “DelRagio, you’ve gone too far, fall back to position sierra, where we can provide you adequate support!”

“Support this!” DelRagio replied wittily, grasping his crotch and thrusting exuberantly.

“DelRagio, fall back immediately” the radio implored “you’re over-extended!”

“Over-extend this!!” DelRagio shouted, grabbing another handful of man-business and gyrating obscenely. Bored of mocking his commanding officers over the radio, DelRagio manually switched back to the absurd metal track pounding from his favourite playlist.

“Kill ‘em all! Nyyeeaaahhh!!” The singer screamed accompanied by some bizarre shredding from the lead guitar. DelRagio briefly considered this, before deciding that it was a much better plan than the suggestions offered by the command net.

“Right men!” DelRagio shouted as he leapt to stand atop the barricade behind which his three remaining squad members were still cowering. “Let’s go kill some more of these alien dick-wads!” The men looked up at him, gesturing vaguely but incessantly with the vibro-machete in his left hand; their expressions of fear and confusion turning to ones of resigned incredulity. Unfortunately, DelRagio was too busy looking to the West where something had just exploded in a most distracting manner. “With me, charge!!” DelRagio yelled, jumping down from the ruined barricade and setting off toward the source of the explosion at a run “I’ll show you how a real man blows shit up!” Fortunately he was spared the muttered insults of his squad by the drum solo battering his eardrums. The long suffering men of the 183rd Colonial grenadiers watched their commanding officer dwindling into the dust kicked up by the battle. Lethargically they hefted the huge belts of rail-cannon ammunition needed by the gluttonous weapon carried by their commander and followed him at a slow trudge.

Friday, 27 January 2017

How to Paint Non Metallic Metals

As part of my latest project, I've been working on painting Inquisitor Greyfax in Non Metallic Metal Gold. As a relative newcomer to this technique, I thought I'd share the insight I've managed to get so far and a few of the techniques I've been using to pull it together. I had initially planned this to be a fairly succinct article, but it has grown into a bit of a Behemoth as there are so many facets to the technique; so you'd better get your thinking caps on and your specs ready for this one!

Initially, I found one or two tutorials online to get an idea of how the technique is done. These varied greatly in quality, but the one that I found most helpful was: Darren Latham's blog, he doesn't post very often, but it's very interesting, well worth following especially for painters or anyone who is interested in Games Workshop.

It was especially useful, not only as good reference material, but also as he discussed the actual paints and colours used. From the tutorial, it was obvious that the keys were smooth blending (fairly obvious), contrast from dark to light, and adding pure white highlights in relevant places (probably the hardest parts). The whole pattern of shading had to be carefully considered as well if it was to look realistic. I won't bother to go into too much detail (ok some detail is covered later), as these points are discussed ad-nauseum all over the internet and for my part I'd rather talk mechanics, blending, and how I did it!

The other tutorial that I used was from Angel Giraldez's Painting Miniatures from A-Z Part 2. He covers creating a range of Non-Metallic colours using an airbrush and brush style. Unfortunately, you'll have to buy the book if you want to know the ins-and-outs of it as I'm not sharing his copyrighted material. Needless to say that my own method below was inspired by his book and draws on the techniques I built up after reading both volumes and experimenting with his style (which I've since combined into my own style as they were surprisingly compatible; a rare thing for me as I find a lot of painting tutorials clash with my own style and techniques).

I don't have exact paint names for a lot of this, as I did a lot of mixing and improvising as I went, although if you do want to follow a set of specific colours, they're listed on Darren Latham's blog and I was basing my work on his. It's important to note that there is no way to apply this technique "by the numbers" anyway as any application is going to take considerable artistic skill (and I'm still learning too). Even with those restrictions, I'm going to break things down as succinctly as possible and I hope people will find it some help, or at least interesting.



Airbrush Blending

I used an airbrush, but it isn't necessary. If you don't have one, the same colours can still be applied, but you'll have to blend by hand from the start. I've written a section on blending later on, which I hope will be of some help. It'll just take a long time!

  1. I started with a coat of black primer (pretty standard for most models).
  2. I then added another layer of primer. This time with the airbrush using Vallejo Grey Primer. This stuff is almost white and I sprayed downwards and from the directions that light would shine in. This served 2 purposes; first as a pre-shade, but second to help me see the volume of the areas I was working on as well as to demo the lighting effect/highlights that I would later add. It sounds like a superfluous step, but it really did help me process the effect I was trying to create.
  3. After that excitement, I added thin a basecoat to the whole model with the airbrush using a ruddy brown (a mix of red, black and Vallejo Dark Flesh). This would give me a base to work from for the darker tones.
  4. Progressively mixing in lighter colours (Pale flesh) I layered lighter browns with the airbrush. 
  5. This was following in the footsteps of my favourite internet tutorial that said to start with browns and then glaze in the yellow tones. As I worked I added in some more yellow to the mix, but it was still very woody.
  6. I finished the initial blending with some tentative white highlights using the airbrush.
  7. The moment of truth came next as I glazed the model with pure yellow - again using a thin mix and the airbrush at a good distance. This was a nail biting step as if I got the mix too thick it'd obliterate all of that blending.
  8. To finish up the airbrush work, I came back in and did a final spot highlight using pure white to create points of light on the armour.
And with that, my quest came to an end .... or so I'd like to say, but honestly it was just getting started and I switched to the regular paint brush and set to work. To make it look like less work though, I'm going to start numbering again. I bet you feel motivated now...

Paintbrush Time

  1. In order to enhance the contrast, I painted Rhinox Hide round all of the edges of the armour. This gave visual definition between the plates and is a bit of a classic technique from Angel Giraldez's work (always then combined with a sharp highlight). I used a mix of 1/3 Rhinox Hide to 2/3 Lahmian Medium for this as I wanted to keep the paint nice and pliable.
  2. With a series of glazes, I set to work improving the contrast. The airbrush had worked well, but the colour gradient between dark and light wasn't sharp enough yet. I blended with various browns and reds to darken the plates in the appropriate places. The reds also helped to enrich the tone.
  3. I used a thin glaze of yellow over the lighter areas in order to adjust the tone (to make it more yellow and vibrant, rather than brown). This can be as strong, or not as you see fit, depending on the end result you're going for.
  4. After the blending (which I'm still adjusting even now, so I keep going back to this stage really, but in the ideal world...) I added a sharp highlight of pure white to the reflective surfaces to add the "shine". The first layer of white was glazed in with a mix of white and Lahmian Medium, with the second added using pure white to get a stronger tone.
If you're still reading this, then kudos, you might actually have enough attention span to make this work. I know I'm getting tired just talking about it, but the mini isn't done yet and there'll be endless layers of paint till we're done. I'm still adjusting mine as we speak (that makes it sound like I have my hand down my pants... but whatever). It really is all about hitting those highlights and going for contrast though, so keep at it. With that in mind, I think I should add a bit to the end on techniques and stuff.


Everyone paints differently, so I can't hand any technique to you on a platter, but I can give you an idea of how I blend. You may have noticed my fairly heavy airbrush use these days. I use an Infinity CR Plus airbrush with a cheap compressor and Vallejo products (both thinner and cleaner). This allows me to lay down a highlight as fine as about 1mm radius; although control at that level is still a nail biting experience. I know I always advocate it, but if you are serious about airbrushing, Angel Giraldez's Painting Miniatures from A-Z books are a good source of knowledge; although they don't tend to cover too much in the way of mechanics, but mostly just walk you through how he goes about painting various colours as well as stuff for NMM etc. I bought the first book about a year ago, and haven't looked back since (although I had no idea what I was getting myself into at the time).

Anyway, I use the airbrush to lay down a basic blend (this is possible with a brush, but would take a lot longer). After that, I use a series of Glazes to blend the colours together further and to change the tones. A Glaze is a bit like a wash; only thicker. Instead of water I use 2 products, Lahmian Medium and Vallejo Glaze Medium. Interestingly, I've found that these both have very different properties, but both can be exploited depending on the situation. Both are a medium, which essentially means that they're paint with no pigment in it. This might sound like something that would be of no use, as they're completely clear, but they're both incredibly helpful products. Mixing the medium with regular paint lets you create a very thin translucent layer that doesn't run into the gaps like a wash or leave stains where it dries. It will allow you to "tint" the base layer with a colour that applies evenly across the surface. With multiple layers you can build up a completely smooth blend (it just takes a lot of time and patience!).

Lahmian Medium acts very much like GWs other paints; it dries quickly once applied and a thick mix can leave a strong edge. I tend to use it when I'm going for a stronger look, or where I want to be very direct about what I'm doing, but just want to get a smoother result; like when I did the dark edge on those panels, or later the white highlight.

100% Acrylic resin? I have no idea what that means, but rumour has it it'll make you a sexual Tyrannosaurus, just like me...

Vallejo's Glaze Medium is far more interesting. As well as the same thinning effect, it retards the drying time of your paint incredibly. A thin coat will dry in about 2 minutes (compared to a few seconds). I've had paint mixed on my pallet with this stuff that has still been fluid days later (and no I don't ever use a wet pallet, so its just out in the air). The advantage of this is that I can add a layer of paint and while it dries I wash my brush and go in (with a just barely moist brush) and adjust the paint before it dries. This allows me to blend it in so that it leaves no "watermark" where the edge of the paint lies. Essentially it's completely smooth and seamless, but takes a very long time to build up the colour. For the purpose of my mini, this is the technique I used to adjust the blending and contrast after the airbrushing was complete.

The other thing to consider is the direction you're moving your brush in. Paint tends to pool and be the strongest when the brush leaves the model (especially with these thin glazes), so you should be dragging the brush towards the point where you want the colour to be the strongest. It's a bit of an odd one as it seems to be counterintuitive; you'd think that the colour would be strongest where you first made contact as logically you'd think that would be where the most paint was deposited. To make it a bit simpler, if I was shading, I'd start at the middle of the panel and drag down towards the darkest point.


As it is so central to NMM, I thought a quick discussion of light and direction would be appropriate. If you made it through my guide above (or are still even awake by this point), you might remember that layer of grey primer at the beginning, which I used to help me establish this. Anyway, generally you'll be thinking of creating multiple virtual light sources. By that I mean, you don't really have to shine a bunch of lights on the mini, but think of the direction that light would be coming from around it. In some ways I envy 2D painters as they can add light entirely from one direction, whereas working in 3D that'd leave half the mini pure black - not really ideal, but it does demonstrate the idea - that the colours will be stronger where the light hits and darker where it doesn't. While a mini, having a "dark side" isn't exactly ideal, it does give you some idea of how to work the shadows. For mine, the darkest parts would be the inner surfaces of the legs as even with 4 imaginary light sources (roughly evenly spaced around the mini) that area would still be dark. At this point I think I may have actually gone mad with all of this stuff as reading it back I sound like a lunatic, but anyway you'll either get what I'm saying or not. This stuff is hard to explain, but that's basically it. After that it's mostly that the light will hit any ridges, or bits that stick out.

I drew this terrible diagram of where the highlights are on my phone using a work in progress photo:

While I'm showing off, I might as well finish up with some work in progress shots of my other rediculous painting project.

I have a headache now...

Don't forget to leave any questions or comments below - I almost always answer, and I'll throw in my two cents on almost any topic/problem. I'll probably also develop this article in time as I personally gain more experience. I certainly plan to update the pictures at some point once I'm finished working on the miniature in question!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Inquisitor Greyfax - Non Metallic Metals Pt 1

fresh from my painting table, I'm bringing you the first WIP images of Greyfax in gloriously gold NMM (non metallic metal). This is still a fairly new technique to me, but I consulted with the divine angels themselves for a slice of godly wisdom (also known as reading Angel Giraldez's Painting Miniatures from A-Z Masterclass Part 2, and trawling the Internet for inspiration).

I started with a few layers of airbrushed Browns, yellows and finally white, before switching to the ordinary brush and using a series of glazes and highlights to try and push the contrast as much as possible. I'm not finished yet, and I've been using her left leg as a sort of proving ground for the technique, but I thought I'd bring you all the initial results of my hard labour.

Once I've finished the gold to a standard I'm happy with, I'll discuss the technique in more detail. For the minute though I'm just really enjoying building up the effect slowly. I think the telling thing was when someone saw it in progress and said "nice gold" not nice yellow, so I think it's working. I'm still trying to push the contrast further though, and will be darkening the Browns to amplify the effect as I go.

I've also started planning out the other colours with black for the corset type armour (which should make her waist look smaller and therefore extenuate the femininity of the armour) and a dark regal blue for the cloak. I'm still not sure what to so with the inside of the cloak (red maybe?). The smaller pipes/details will be silver, but again it will be NMM, so that'll be another stretch. Well, I guess I can only blame myself.

What you're looking at is probably the fruits of about 4-5 hours work.

Check back later for the next instalment, where I'll hopefully be talking about how to paint NMM gold with a finished example of the technique!

On a side note, am I the only one thinking Gray Fox every time I see Greyfax.

"Only a fool trusts his life to a weapon!"


Monday, 23 January 2017

Inquisitor Greyfax Underway

Ok, so I know I just started working on Celestine, but over the weekend I had a go at putting together a few more models from the same set; namely Inquisitor Greyfax.

Building this model, I was really surprised with how nice she is and the quality of the details. I think I'm probably not alone in saying that she was by far my least favourite character in the Triumvirate of the Imperium set, but looking at her now, I think she was more the victim of a dodgy choice of colours and a rushed paint job (that metal looks like it was blasted on with a dry brush straight over the undercoat or something). Looking at the mini, I really wanted to do her justice. She also gives me an opportunity to dry-run the scheme for Celestine that I was planning as I've never tried to do a Non Metallic Metal armour before.

I had a bit of fun building her base too. I've had a few Alabaster candlestick holders knocking about for a few years. They were originally destined for the dump, but I saved them thinking I'd use them as scenery, but I never did. A quick hack-saw later and a bit of scenic damage and the mini was ready for undercoat.

I've left her in 3 pieces for ease of painting. She has pins in both feet to attach her to the pillar and the piece of wood she's mounted on. I did her head separately to make things easier too.

At the time of writing this, I've actually started painting her. To say that it is going well would be an understatement, so tune in tomorrow and prepare to be dazzled! I'm seriously considering painting her as my Salute entry this year (I know it was going to be Celestine, but I'm a weak fickle man, easily tempted by Greyfax's plasticky charms)

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Saint Celestine Underway

Always on the lookout for nice minis, I couldn't resist picking up the Triumvirate of the Imperium box. It helped that I actually have an army of Sororitas (Sisters of Battle) and that I could split the set with an avid Mechanicus fan, so I got Celesrine (plus guards) and the Inquisitor as a cool new project.

Rather than just another project in a long line of many, I'm planning to paint her up for the upcoming competition at Salute. I have some lofty ideas and we'll see how that works out as we go. For the moment, I've been trying to decide on a build. I'm keeping her in a few bits for ease of painting, but at the moment I'm mostly preoccupied by thinking about what to base her on. Given that it's a competition it should be something nice and impressive ... Hmmm, it's a bit of a conundrum....

Painting wise, I'm thinking non-metallic metal style gold for the armour. I've looked at a few tutorials and taken in a lot of info, so I think it'll be possible. Regardless it'll certainly keep me busy for quite some time! (And with any luck will be suitably impressive if I can pull it off).

Monday, 16 January 2017

30,000 Hits - The Shocking Truth Revealed!

OK, so I've finally got to 30,000 hits. It seems as good a time as any to share a guilty blog secret. I have to wonder if anyone has noticed this rather amusing thing themselves, but as I've never had a comment about it I'm not sure.

The question is - What am I using for a backdrop in my photos?

That strange shape? Is it a bird is it a plane ... some kind of high tech starburst effect??

If you rotated your screen, you'll probably have realised it's part of the DVD box from Game of Thrones.

Shocking?! ... or not?

You decide, until then have a good one. Personally I've been really unwell for about a week; damn this January weather.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Resin Anime Figure - Part VI

Almost there now. I finished and attached the second lance, so it's mostly just finishing off the detailing now and adjusting to taste. On the downside, she barely fits in the light box; having become rather wide!

Not too much to say at this point; if you missed the rest of the project, there are plenty of other posts that take her all the way back to bare resin. I'm still experimenting with improving my photography too, which does seem to be working out so far.

Anyway, enjoy the pictures...

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Resin Anime Figure - Part V, Lance 1

Well, despite several New-Year related setbacks, I've been busy again. 

I've painted up one of her lances to look like a piece of marble. This is just a quick post to show the progress I've made in that regard. I'm also trying out some different photography techniques and set-up, which is coming out rather nicely actually. I still have no idea what to do with lights etc, but generally moving them about and taking a ton of pictures tends to yield a few good shots.

I still need to paint the shaft of the lance and the green stuff on her head where I repaired the hair gap as well as patch up a few bits here and there, but the end is in sight!