Off the Top of my Head: Painting a Mars Attacks Martian

 

Off The Top of My HeadWorking on Citadel miniatures is generally a pleasure.  I’ve always loved model kits.  Like Hans Gruber from Die Hard I appreciate their attention to minute detail in small scale.  That being said the tiny size of some Warhammer models is slightly limiting.  You can’t paint extreme detail, well I’ll rephrase, I can’t paint extreme detail, as well as I’d like.

Needless to say the chance to assemble and paint a larger-scale model has been attractive.  No I can’t play a fun war game with them, but the hobbyist in me can appreciate it.

So when I found this great Mars Attacks Martian trooper model at a local store I grabbed it quickly.

He’s far larger than Warhammer models but I still used all those Citadel painting tricks I learned, base coat, wash/shade, layer, drybrush, effects method.

He was plain white plastic, with an aluminum lamppost. I primed him white before applying the base coat.  I had to rubberband his face to keep it together.  He looks like a Hellraiser Cenobyte…

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I left his nifty space suit un-shaded.  It looks bright and cartoony that way.

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I loved his victim and it gave me a chance to use lots of effects paints in gruesome detail.

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His face and head were a bit hit-or-miss.  I thought I’d ruined it.  I actually used very watered down Emperor’s Children followed by watered down Fenrisian Grey.  Then I dry brushed Fulgrim Pink, Dechala Lilac, and Baharroth Blue in various layers to get the face correct.

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This guy was a lot of fun and gave me a good feel for what painting larger models will be like, especially since big centerpiece models seem to be the wave of the future in 40k!

Next back to my Sector Imperialis, and an even bigger painting piece!

Realm of Battle Sector Imperialis Work In Progress

Off The Top of My Head

Realm of Battle Sector Imperialis Work In Progress

This year I got myself the coolest birthday present I’ve ever gotten myself.

The day I moved in to my new place I decided to spring for the new Stormclaw Warhammer 40k set. I found a trusted seller on eBay was selling it as a rate and ordered it from them. The week it came out I received a message saying they didn’t get as much stock as expected and wouldn’t be able to send it.   I could get a refund or use that money to buy something else. While cruising their page I found they were selling the new city scape, Sector Imperialis, at a reduced rate as well. So I applied my Stormclaw money to it and got a 330 table top scenery set for $158 dollars. It was great.

It has been a nice project and one I’ve been looking forward to. A large-scale painting project that can be easily customized and personalized.

I wasn’t quite sure where to start so I watched these videos and soldiered on:

I followed most of these recommendations the letter. I changed the ground color to Mournfang Brown and ran out of Skavenblight Dinge (go for four pots, I have used three there’s enough in the bottom of them for touchups and nothing else) so I used Stormvermin Fur around the Aquila sections.

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Straight road sections. Clearly needs touch ups, but for 3-4 hours work it’s going faster than expected.

 

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The T Sections.

 

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This metal section has been touched up a bit. Still need to go back over the Skavenblight, but it’s going quickly. A thin card will work well to keep the right colors where they’re supposed to be.
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Running out of Skavenblight made me use Stormvermin around these sections. It’ll mix it up nicely I think and will blend well.

I’m going to mix Nuln Oil and Drakenhof Nightshade instead of Athonian Camoshade to give it a dirty blue color instead of earthy green.

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My painting rig. A big piece of cardboard would work as a pallet but since I’m painting all six sections at once I’m standing up most of the time. The traditional version comes in handy and is only $5. The brushes were $1 each and my water container once contained lunch meat!

I’ve still got the bronze colors and touch ups to do on the basing of this painting but believe it or not this much work only took about 4 hours. It goes fast. I’m looking forward to finishing basing and I’m very eager to start detailing and working on the colors to see what happens. I’m going to take Duncan’s recommendation and try Nurgle’s Rot some of the sewers, and maybe some water effect in some of the other sewers.

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This project, at 6 feet buy 4 feet, eats up paint. These are the pots I’ve used thus far…

I’ll post more of them as I go. It’ll start to match my NEW Imperial Guard army, which I’m starting in the next week!

In other news…check out the site in the next few weeks as there will be some new merchandise (Finally) I’ll post once the designs are done!

 

The Chosen of Khorne: Creating the Blood God’s Best

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Chosen of Khorne: Illustration Process

Though I consider myself an illustrator, I haven’t done a large, finished piece (foreground, mid-ground, background) in years…maybe a decade or more.    So it was interesting to capture the process on digital camera, which I don’t think existed in a decent consumer form the last time I did one!

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This is the earliest design; I sketched it on a piece of printer paper while waiting for something at work to finish.  The design is very rudimentary.  The dais looks more “chair” like, and the axe is on the wrong side (I picture Malvin entering left and seeing Kharn on the right for some reason) so Gorechild should be left rather than right in the frame as he sees the weapon before he sees The Betrayer.  I was also drawing from memory and messed up Kharn’s helmet design.

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The original pencils just for putting in placement.  His helmet in the story is said to be in the sand at his feet, so the one thing I consciously altered from the terrific narrative description was to put it on a level of the stone dais, purely for composition purposes.

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I stood on the shoulders of Black Library giants to design Kharn’s armor and wargear for this piece.  It was fun to put my own touches, like the way the skulls are attached to his armor backpack.

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I added some extra battle damage to Kharn’s helmet, just because it was interesting to draw.

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The skulls appear as mentioned in the drama: two on the left, four on the right; one with shrapnel in the cheek, one with chain weapon damage on the forehead.

I added the manacles described in the story as being large enough to restrain a large beast or being of great strength.  I put in dark tunnels behind Kharn based on the dungeons beneath the Flavian Amphitheater.

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Before I started shading I thought it would be easy, just walls and stones.  But then I decided to shade every stone essentially individually and it took much longer than I intended…

20140209_155303For so many reasons I’m lucky to have Raven.  One of the lesser reasons is she inks for me in our comics!  I had to darken the graphite before shading (I drew in 4H).  I hate this process because it’s essentially drawing the same image TWICE but worth it to get the desired result.

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I accidentally over-shaded the left tunnel and made it seem too short.  It took some correcting to get it closer to right.  I added the close foreground of silhouetted scattered remains based on the description in the drama. I left it vague but clear enough to be picked out if closely analyzed.

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It’s actually at this phase I start to get excited about a composition.  The background is essentially one, which means I can start the character!

See the Original Kharn Post Here Featuring the Finished Piece!

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As a bonus: I’m also working on a version of the Fleshtearer as described in the story.  It may be a single character piece, but here’s the face design I’ve been toying with.

Chosen of Khorne: The Arrogant Warrior King Upon His Throne

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My Original Illustration inspired by a scene from Chosen of Khorne.

Kharn from Chosen of Khorne
Click for a detailed view!

I have to admit that Games Workshop, though they get a lot of stick from forums, has made a great game and created a terrific universe with some wonderful characters.  When I first got into the Warhammer world I purchased a lot of used books, old codexes, whatever I could get my hands on to learn more about it and immerse myself completely in the grim darkness of the far future.

During my hunts for anything narrative 40k I could find I came across Gav Thorpe’s Raven’s Flight and regular readers of RevPub might guess why I decided to get that one!  That one audio drama, read wonderfully by Toby Longworth, got me hooked on the Black Library audio drama/audio novel series.  I’ve got almost all the ones I could find and have a few favorites.  Raven’s Flight remains on my top list because of its terrific narrative and the rousing action sequence when Corax charges the Iron Warriors.  The Garro series is also a superlative series and Mission Purge was a nice surprise and a great Deathwatch story.  Recently there have been some terrific Horus Heresy dramas (Censure is excellent, as was the short Warmaster) as well as some good additions to the Space Marine Battles series (Veil of Darkness’ first person narration is wonderful).

My favorite and the one I’ve listened to the most, however, is Anthony Reynolds’ Chosen of Khorne. In the 40k universe I am a staunch, staunch loyalist (For the Emperor!), which is why it speaks volumes to both the writing and performance this drama, one that is centered wholly on traitor Chaos Space Marine characters, that this one is my favorite.  Of all the dramas I’ve heard I don’t think I’ve heard any of them with as vivid imagery and as clear a narrative as this Chosen of Khorne.  Not only is the story very tightly written and the settings so clear, but the action set-pieces wonderfully well-described and easy to picture.  Not only that but the story arc of the narrative’s star, Kharn the Betrayer, is remarkably well done and, despite my pro-imperium stance I found myself cheering for him as the story went on.

The hands-down star of Chosen of Khorne, after the writing, is Chris Fairbanks as Kharn the Betrayer.  Fairbanks’ performance is ferocious and subtle.  His Kharn isn’t a wild, bloody brute but a smoldering killer slowly building to a burning crescendo.  I first heard Fairbanks’ Kharn in The Butcher’s Nails before I knew anything about the character, but Chosen of Khorne had me running to the game store to pick up a Kharn model that day.  Fairbanks’ performance is so good I was even cheering for him over my own chapter master, Azrael, in The Trials of Azrael.

One image in this audio drama has always stood out for me, so much so that, despite years of not drawing large, finished pieces I had to get the image of it down in graphite.

When Malvin Bitterspear first enters Kharn’s lair beneath the arena the setting is described as a gladiatorial dungeon.  Kharn is said to be “slouched on the dais like an arrogant warrior king upon his throne” with Gorechild nearby and his collection of skulls laid out before him.  I couldn’t get the image out of my head, and so interpreted it as best as I could.

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My Kharn differs from the official Games Workshop/Forge World Kharn in that I gave him hair.  I’m actually a little tired of bald Space Marines and Fairbanks’ accent for Kharn reminds me of a more-intense, brutal Bela Lugosi so I gave him a bit of a 1930s Dracula-style cut.  Not only that but it went well with the description in the drama as his face being long and noble.

I relied heavily on the Warlords of the Dark Millennium to do Kharn’s wargear, taking my favorite aspects from previous interpretations and including them in the design.

One of the most fascinating parts of Reynold’s writing of Chosen of Khorne was Kharn’s outward demeanor compared to the raging inferno within.  He gives the character amazing depth and provides clear motivation for his actions, something very few narratives do well.  Because of his description and his actions, I tried to give Kharn a look of impassive malevolence, outwardly calm but promising rage.

Anthony Reynolds’ story mixed with the magnificent performance by Chris Fairbank really provided me with great inspiration.  This illustration was amazing to work on, and I hope it lives up to what the writer and performer had in mind when they made Chosen of Khorne!

Here’s where you can buy Anthony Reynolds’ Chosen of Khorne.

And Reynolds’ Kharn short The Eightfold Path which is another very personal look at the scion of the Blood God.

Where to get yourself a Kharn model.  Some say it’s a little out of date, I think it is terrifically expressive.

And Reynolds’ WordPress site!

How to be a Good Fan: Don’t be the Comic Book Guy

Off the Edge

This is kind of a case study of the quintessential “bad fan.”  Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons as a character pre-dates the spread of internet criticism, but it seems every forum, website that allows commentary, or YouTube video is packed with almost nothing but Comic Book Guys (hereafter referred to as “CBGs”).

What makes the CBG type such a bad fan?  He’s the one who loves something so much he ends up obsessing about it without end; then his love (as love of anything can do) turns to passive-aggressive hatred.  He can’t wait to take something he loves, and tell the world why it’s not good, not what it used to be, or somehow a “betrayal” of his obsessed loyalties.  He knows everything about it.  He’s the kind of “fan” who takes the time to learn all things about something (including it seems watching entire films in slo-o-o-o mo-o-o-o-tion) just so he can point out its flaws.

The most famous and now apparently meme-worthy quote ever uttered by CBG was from the “Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show” episode of The Simpsons.  After Poochie’s “hilariously unfunny debut” CBG commented that it was the “Worst. Episode. Ever.” And later went on to state that “As a loyal fan I feel they owe me.”  To which Bart responds, “What could they owe you? They’ve given you thousands of hours of entertainment for free!  If anything, YOU owe THEM!”  CBG’s retort, “Worst. Episode. Ever.”  This exchange pretty much sums up what bad fans like CBG are all about.  There’s a bit of narcissism to them — they feel that entertainment is all about what should entertain them personally, and they are somehow owed this for their patronage.  I can see CBG on every 4Chan, Bell of Lost Souls, YouTube, and TV show webpage I’ve ever been to.  Even sometimes quoting CBG proudly, “Worst. ::WHATEVER::. Ever.”

This guy is one bad fan…

In my Warhammer experience I see it a lot. Games Workshop comes out with new models.  Annoying posters all say, then build on each other’s comments like, “Wow that’s ugly I won’t get one.”  “Why are they so expensive!!!  I’m quitting.”   “They ruined xxx by changing the rule to do xxx.”  Yet…they still sell the miniatures, special editions of books, and these people are coming to the site day after day…just to say how much they hate everything?  One post I saw kind of summed these posts up, “Will you all quit complaining?  You’re going to end up buying them…”  I bet that person was right.

Another point is, like CBG did to Poochie (who was designed to be awful), focusing on something bad and channeling all fan hatred on it.  Nothing shows this better than Jar-Jar Binks.  People were severely disappointed with Phantom Menace.  It was kind of a slow, mediocre movie, but it had its fun parts.  I liked Darth Maul.  But for some reason what everyone heaped their rage on was Jar-Jar Binks.  He was almost a scapegoat.  Fans didn’t like the movie like they thought they would, so it became Jar-Jar’s fault.  I don’t find him any more annoying that C3P0 or the Ewoks honestly…But all the fury was directed right at him.  I thought Anakin’s “chosen one” story was far more tired than the comic relief character.

I won’t say CBG doesn’t have a point; any kind of entertainment eventually suffers from its age.  Again from that episode of The Simpsons, Lisa points out that over the years the innovation and characters can’t maintain the same impact they once had.  To try to make the show, comic book, music, whatever fresh creators try all kinds of things.  They add new characters, kill someone off (often only to bring them back…somehow), or totally change their style (say going from hard rock to techno or rap).  Some fans actually love these changes.  Some don’t.  But I actually feel it’s more impactful to simply change one’s own behavior than complain without end about the new status of whatever you’re obsessing about.

Going back to The Simpsons, for its first 9 seasons it was close to my favorite show ever.  After season 9 it seemed to get a bit “stupider” in its jokes and, to me, became more about watching Homer scream and guest stars.  Now that was to ME.  My response was to try it for a bit.  Watch the odd one here and there…and then give it up.  I haven’t watched a full episode since season 11.  I didn’t continue to watch it just so I could go to the forums later and complain about how it was the Worst. Episode. Ever.

One of my favorites, that I came to very late, is Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I love that Joss Whedon style of humor+drama+weird.  But even it made the classic changes.  It went for “introduce new character” (only kinda made sense, even in fantasy world), then “kill character” as options for extending its life.  It was still great, but not as good.  Same goes for Eureka.  TERRIFIC sci-fi show. Then they went back in time, changed the reality, and kind of rebooted the show.  Still great, but I personally preferred the original set up.

The same goes for The Walking Dead.  Great show.  Great story, fresh characters, interesting take on the zombie apocalypse.  Halfway through last season I kind of lost interest.  The show wasn’t any different really, but I just stopped watching unless I wanted to catch up later.

I’m not saying voicing your opinion isn’t positive.  But it should be constructive and not just bitching for bitching’s sake.  Constructive complaints are what happened with Futurama.  The show was cancelled.  The fanbase came together and made its support so publicly known that they eventually released new episodes on DVD and then returned to TV (sadly ending this year…).  THAT is how fans should work.  The constructive way to voice your beliefs about something you’re a fan of is to do so positively, seeking to change what’s wrong, not just repeating what you don’t like in snarky and anonymous form in the internet.  The positive way I expressed my dislike for the newer Simpsons was to stop watching.  I didn’t like it, but people do, so why should I spend my time complaining a.) The show is bad now, b.) These new stupid fans are the reason it’s bad c.) They should just go back to “the way it was.”  Who am I to say what other people should like?  New fans like the new version, they shouldn’t make a show just for me…and maybe, just maybe, I’m the one who changed.  Maybe the things I once obsessed about don’t, as Lisa said, have the same impact.

So many of us fans still watch shows they no longer love just to make bad jokes (usually just quotes from something else, or different versions of memes that have been around since 2006) on forums and sites later.  THAT’S being a bad fan I think.  If the toys you once loved aren’t fun anymore…stop playing with them, and maybe, pick up something new.  It’s the only way to grow.  Staying with the same-old-same-old that you now hate is to decay.  Again, it only breeds hostility and negativity.  Why do that to yourself, or worse, inflict your negativity on others?

The Simpsons gave us many perfect caricatures of nerd fans.  I remember one who asked, “In episode 2F09, when Itchy plays Scratchy’s skeleton like a xylophone, he strikes that same rib twice in succession, yet he produces two clearly different tones. I mean, what are we to believe that this is some sort of a…a magic xylophone or something? Boy, I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder.”  Homer’s response, “I’ll field this one. Let me ask you a question. Why would a man whose shirt says “Genius at Work” spend all of his time watching a children’s cartoon show?”  Yep.  That about sums it up.

For the sake of all fans, please don’t be the Comic Book Guy…

The next post ties into this one, Don’t Build Them Up Just to Tear Them Down.

How to be a Good Fan: You Like this, I Like That…Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off…

Off the Edge

In my “Just War” philosophy course in grad school, we learned that during any kind of conflict there comes a time where combatants start to see the situation as “us” versus “them.”  Viewing an opponent this way essentially dehumanizes them and makes it easier for people to do horrible things to each other they wouldn’t do in any other circumstances.

While that might seem like a strange opener for a series about fandom, the same holds true for disagreeing fans.  We all fall victim to it, but recently I’ve started to catch myself doing it and tried to curtail it when I feel it creeping in.

I remember during what James Rolfe calls “The Bit Wars” between Sega and Nintendo; I was in the Sega camp.  But I don’t remember hating Super Nintendo.  I just never played it and vehemently disagreed with comments disparaging Sega’s games or systems.  I still do.  I had loads of fun on Sega CD and 32X!

It’s gotten much worse with Xbox and Playstation fans.  I’ve had both systems from previous and current generations.  I prefer Playstation simply because I’ve found it to be more reliable, more a fit for my gaming needs, and more consumer-friendly.  I admit I have sunk down to the “us versus them” mentality, especially when the now recanted Xbox One specs were announced.  But the truth is both are good systems for their fan bases, both have a good line up of games, and we NEED both to keep competition healthy.  Monopoly is always bad for the consumer.

Here are some thoughts on one opinion versus another opinion and ways that have helped me avoid “Us Versus Them” situations:

Realizing Nothing is Perfect:  I love my PS3.  I had a launch system that lasted 5-6 years in the same time my bro-in law had 3-4 Xboxes that red-ringed.  That being said, I know lots of people apparently had disc read problems with launch PS3s.  Even when mine died, it did so while a disc was in, and I had to take the #*%^@#$%@&$ apart to get the disc out.  PS3 isn’t perfect, just a better fit for me.  Because Xbox is a better fit for you doesn’t make you wrong, just different from me.  Everything has issues and we enjoy them in spite of them.

Even the chaos god of perfection isn’t perfect…poor, poor chaos god…

Understanding That a Difference of Opinion is OK:  It’s good to truly enjoy something.  If you immerse yourself entirely into the world of whatever your love may be (Star Trek or Star Wars, Final Fantasy, Mario, Legend of Zelda, X-Men etc…) it’s good for you.  Any kind of learning exercises the mind.  I even think it’s ok to drive your friends crazy with your enthusiasm.  You’ve learned ALL this stuff; you want to share it.  Your friends always have the right to say, “You know I’m a little tired of hearing about Spiderman…,” and if they do, that should be respected.  Going a step further, it’s even ok for them to say, “You know I really don’t like Spiderman…”  If they do, even though it may seem incomprehensible to your obsessed brain, it is OK too.  It doesn’t matter what it is, how popular, how important it is to your day, if someone else isn’t interested or doesn’t like it…they don’t like it and they aren’t crazy for having that opinion.  Recently I’ve seen TONS of this.  I was shown three episodes of Game of Thrones.  It was like a high-production value, fantasy realm soap opera to me.  I didn’t care for it.  I’ve had family and friends get me to watch some of Dr. Who.  It was mediocre sci-fi TV to me; I just couldn’t get into it.  I like Joss Whedon, but I don’t feel like trying Firefly right now.  I’m not WRONG for these beliefs.  Certainly not just because someone else thinks these are the greatest things ever.  If you absolutely despise Warhammer, or history, or boxing, or Lovecraft it doesn’t make you wrong just because I love them.  Again, what fits for you, isn’t necessarily what fits for me.  And judging each other because we don’t share obsessions doesn’t help anyone.

The Running Man audience. Definitely the worst kind of obsessed, bad fans!

Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off:  Debating is good.  If you want to explain to me WHY Christopher Nolan’s Batman films weren’t a pretentious drag that essentially told the same story three times (someone tries to make fear take over Gotham, so the city destroys itself…) feel free.  I will explain why I feel how I feel.  We can show counterpoints, logic, and conclusions — we can attempt to persuade through example.  It can be fun.  It can be enlightening.  It’s almost always mentally stimulating.  It’s a debate, and it’s good.  Arguing is bad.  Arguing is what occurs when respect and logic abandon a discussion in favor of bias and hostility.  If we’ve both made our points, repeating them or insisting, “You just don’t get it,” “You need to see it from the beginning,” or “I’m not surprised you don’t like it, you’re into stupid stuff like XXXX” doesn’t add to the discussion.  Once points are made and opinions finalized, if neither side budges, in the terminology of the Napoleonic Wars, we should both be allowed to “leave the field with our weapons and colors.”  It’s a sign of respect of each other and our opposing opinions and an acknowledgement that we’re agreeing to disagree.

Methinks any kind of debating with this guy…likely won’t be fair…

With all there is out there to become a fan of, no one can ever be a fan of everything, and even amongst the closest of relationships there are bound to be differences, sometimes VAST differences, of opinion.  If we all agreed on everything, imagine how dull life would be.  But it’s important, no matter how much you love something, how much you devote your life to it, and how much you know about it to respect the opinions of others who may be neutrally disinterested or actively opposed to it — even if they insist on sinking to the negative level — take the high road…people who take the low road probably do so often, and it won’t be in anyone’s best interest to pursue them into the depths.

And finally, maybe most importantly, share the things you are a fan of with those you care about as long as they are receptive, but not if they suggest they are not.  Our interests are a big part of showing who we are.  But people don’t necessarily need or want converting.  Respect that and respect them for their opinions, even if they directly oppose yours.  You’ve said poe-tay-toe, they’ve said poe-tah-toe…so yeah…

And just for fun…Christopher Walken’s sings!