Sunday, June 27, 2010

Appleseed Test Fig

I decided that I needed to push forward on this project and decided to paint my prototype instead of using it to make molds. There were a few places that were taking too long and with the new XV-9 being released I am leaning towards using one of those for the base fig.

For the paint job on this project I tried something I haven't used before. Duplicolor has a paint called Metalcast. It is a candy paint that is designed to give an anodized finish. This seemed like the perfect match to the experimental suit from the film. The paint comes in several colors and I am eying the yellow and green colors for my Black Reach marines. This is a fun spray to work with. Candy paints will definitely test your spray technique on larger pieces but for figs in this size it is very easy to control the depth of the color and end result.

I am still working on building the head. I have found a couple of designs that I like so the wait for a head shouldn't be much longer.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Brush Off

What brush to use. You here them painters talk about them all the time but really how much of it applies to the average or beginner painter? Here are my tips for the beginner painter when it comes to choosing your equipment.
Pick a decent brush that fits your budget. There are several different types of brushes in all shapes, sizes and qualities. There is a good brush primer here , that will take you through all different types of brushes in one fell swoop and is worth a read if you are serious. For now I am going to point out the majors. The 3 major shapes I use are the flat, pointed round and the detail or liner brush. The other shapes open up some more options, like angled brushed for getting into tight spaces or large rounds for camo effects but they aren't needed at the start.
Each brush has a specific purpose, so the flat is the best for covering large areas with the minimal number of strokes. This is your primary flat area brush for things like tanks or dreadnaughts. The square edge of the brush makes it easy to see exactly where the paint is going. This is also a great brush for lining hard edges for highlights. If you are doing allot of tanks and don't what to invest in a spray system, hobby sprays or airbrush, get some of the larger ones of these and you are covered.
The pointed round is your workhorse. It has enough bristle to hold allot of paint and still give good coverage. It is the one you are going to use to fill in the spaces that are too small of hard to reach with the flat. This is your troop brush. This is one that I like to have 2 or 3 of for this reason.
Last it the detail/liner brushes and I did mean plural. I recommend getting a long and a short bristled one. The long is your one for drawing lines and shapes. It will have allot more flex and this works great for filling in things like the lines. This is the brush to use on those Hammerhead tank lines. The short one is for fine details like faces, chapter badges and other small details. This brush will hold practically no paint because the bristles are short but it is very pencil like.
 When you are starting out you will have no idea what fits your style so I recommend skipping past the expensive singles and getting a value pack of brushes that covers several different categories. I just picked up a good starter set if 11 brushes for $10 on sale. They were a mix of liners and details in all sizes. I also picked up a full set of 8 flats from 1" wide down to 1/8" for $11. The 1" will be seeing allot of use shortly I am sure.
I know the question is coming so here goes, what about brush hair type. Well starting out it isn't as critical as most would like you to believe. You can go from synthetic to natural. For flats I like synthetic. They hold together a little longer and are cheaper. Also synthetic are a little easier to car for than hair so you may want to keep this in mind if you are on a tight budget.
For those going hair, skip the high end sables unless you can get them cheap. Heresy! No, common sense, your first few brushes are not going to last. You are not going to clean them well enough, dunk them too far in the paint and dry brush with them. All of these will kill a brush. It is like giving a new driver access to a Ferrari. You are just asking for trouble. Instead look for Camel or squirrel hair brushes. The differences are quite small and the price is about a 1/3 of sable.
Next up the extras, all the little bits to make painting easier.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Papercuts - The minor changes to make Tau match their fluff match the tabletop.

Tau needs something to get back into the game. The problem is what do you do without being too unbalanced. So I am not going to go down the rabbit hole of they should all be snipers and battle suits need a 4th hard point etc. No I am going to go for some of the fringe units that could use a little touching up. First up, drones.

  1. Reclassify them as jet pack infantry like battle suits. JSJ is a trademark Tau tactic and it is puzzling that it only exist for battle suits. Drones seem to be a perfect fit for that tactic. They get it when they are teamed with battle suits anyway so why not give it to them outright. It would have no effect on placing them with troops or vehicles thanks to unit cohesion. This simple change makes drone squad somewhat usable.
  2. Give them without number when used in squadrons. This is straight out of "Courage and Honor", hundreds of drones were dropped from the skies to harass the enemy. They are the Tau version of gaunts, small, squishy and really annoying. Sure they wont hold an objective or actually kill anything in close combat, or pin anything, or do anything other that die but that is enough. They need to be that speed bump that matches their shape. Kroot can't be the only one.
  3. Go big or go home. Heavy gun drones are dangerous. Twin linked burst cannons are nothing to sneeze at. Sadly you will never see them on the battle field because they are Forgeworld and totally broken as a heavy choice, so I can get a battle suite style unit that is only good against infantry or a Hammerhead, tough call. Team them with all drones or make them a heavy weapons option for firewarriors. Now you have a unit that can put down enough firepower make marines think twice before charging in, if only for a second.
  4. It is still odd to me that drones are not fearless or even higher leadership or at least have an easy way to boost their leadership besides putting them next to an Ethereal or Shadowsun. They need an boost of some sort, say a +1 for each drone left in the unit. They just shouldn't run from combat as easily as they do.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Primer on Priming

Nothing will start fights among painters like selecting a primer. Everyone has their favorite brand, color or has a horror story from a bad can. So I guess it is my turn to pile on to this topic and add some of my own tips and observations to the mix. So lets dive in an go over what I use.

Primer - I use a few different brands, Krylon, Velspar and Duplicolor. For terrain projects I switch back and forth between Krylon and Velspar. Why two different brands, simple texture. Krylon primer has a little smaller droplet size giving a smooth finish at almost any spray distance. The same cannot be said for the Velspar. I haven't figured out if it is their paint mix or just the way it reacts with the air but it is the easiest to get a sandy/fuzzy texture of any paint I have ever used. This is a good thing when working on terrain like walls where you are going to drybrush a large area. It is consistent enough from can to can that I can control the level of fuzz by changing the distance of the spray. Very nice. The last one I use isn't really a primer but a combo of 2 products, first up is the adhesion promoter and the second is the vinyl dye. These are by Duplicolor and since discovering them I am never going back to regular primer. First off the stuff sticks even to resin and won't chip off. Second it doesn't fill in details even when sprayed on heavily. You don't need to spray it on heavily to get coverage. The dye is heavily pigmented and covers in one spray. It isn't effected by humidity. Finally it reacts fine with plastic glue so you don't have to scrap it off when gluing. Probably the only down side is it a little slicker than regular primer. I have only had issues with this when using an airbrush and GW paint.

Nozzles - Even with the right paint the nozzle used for spraying can really effect your finish. There are 2 major spray patterns you have to deal with, circle and line. Most cheap cans will have a circle shaped spray pattern. This gives a dark ring around the outer edge of the spray. The problem with this is it waste allot of paint and can lead to a rougher finish because the paint at the edges of the spray are heavier and the paint in the middle of the circle can dry in the air before it reaches the mini and then you will have all kinds of problems. The better nozzles are the line style. These spray a very thin oval that eliminates the dead spot in the middle of the round nozzles. The better ones even allow you to adjust the line for horizontal or vertical spraying.

Extras - I don't know how I lived without this one but I can't stand to spray without it. It is a spray can grip. No more sprayed hands or dripping paint of holding the can funny. Just click it on the can and you are ready to go. This alone improved my spray technique more than anything else. Next up is a spray booth. Sounds heavy it really isn't I build mine from and old range hood and some scrap wood. Now I am not going to go into the safety thing about using sealed fans or how to build your own booth, there is enough info on the web already on this topic. Just play it safe and you will be fine. The primary motivators for mine were Midwest weather, always too humid for reliable spraying, and I have an airbrush.

Keep spraying.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


I have been a little busy lately but did manage to get a little painting it. First up are the SMS units I re-purposed form a Gundam kit. I think they turned out great. The are big step up from the bubble ones that are standard. I originally had a targeting array on top and a spacer under them to allow them to sit square on the mounts and not hit the helmet but it just didn't look right. The lower angled mount looks menacing and fits the hunter aspect I was looking for.

I was using this piranha as a test model for the Shas'Vre Valsk ship. I tried falling back to an old technique for filling gaps with ca and baking soda instead of fighting with greenstuff. It turned out pretty well for a 10 minute job. I did have one issue with the build though, the dreaded fuzzy primer. I have a can of Velspar primer that I use for terrain because it fuzzes and give a little bit of texture that is great for adding a little depth to terrain features. Unfortunately I didn't check the can before spraying the model. Luckily I only sprayed the bottom so it didn't worry about stripping it and starting over. The effect also looks good and I may start using it on a few more ships.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Review: Fireborn

The world of Sepulchre IV stands on the brink of destruction. From the stars the Red Rage decends, intent on murder and massacre. Into the fray are thrust the Firedrakes, peerless champions of the Salamanders. Their mission: retrieve the 'holy relic' of Sepulchre and prevent it falling to the enemy. Tsu'gan, latest recruit to the vaunted order, must learn to temper his inner anger if he is to succeed in the First Company.

Facing an indestructible foe, the Firedrakes will be tested as never before. Victory is possible against the Red Rage, but only if Tsu'gan can master his wrath and even then the sacrifice will be great ...

I just finished listening to Fireborn for the 5th time because I am too lazy to change the CD. Fireborn is an offshoot story from the Salamander books by Nick Kyme. This time we are following Tsu'gan as he takes up the mantle of a first company Terminator. The story is your standard fare with gory battles and paper thin characters that you expect. The final ending is more of a diversion and caps the story off but still feels a little stunted. Like the were pushing hard to get the story done before they ran out of audio space.

What makes this a decent buy is the production value, if you are not an audio book person. This is not an audio book it is a 1930's radio drama with all the over the top voices, sound effects and transitions that set the mood and pace of the story. From the footsteps on the cold marble floors of the Sisters bastion to the roaring sounds of battle and the grinding of the tank treads on the Rhinos it is all there and extremely well done. You get a chance to put voices to the words and get a taste of what the Salamanders are hearing over their com channels. This is a great intro for anyone new to the grim dark world of 40k. There were a few times where twist and turns when thrown at you and punctuated with just the right sound or in a couple of places silence to drive the meaning home. The sounds really bring a fairly weak story to life.

The only issue I have with it really is if you are an audio book person skip it. I love audio books and wish the Black Library would team up with Audible so some their stuff could be accessible. So what is the difference between this and most other audio books, the words. Having the sounds and voices is a bit of a crutch and hides allot of the wordplay and detail that their books are known for. Hearing the voices of the troops muffled by scratch voxcasters or echoed from speakers pulls the attention from what they are saying and really makes it secondary. There were several times where it also pulls back the impact of some of the statements and setups because the sounds hide any foreshadowing.

So what does all this leave me with as a rating. I have a split on this one. Looking at it as a radio play I give it a 4+. The story is a little predictable really predictable. The characters have very little depth and the overall outcome is to a little Disney/pop corn movie for my taste with final resolution coming too easily. As an audio book it is easier to rate with a solid 5+. The story is weak and rushed for what feels like no good reason. What makes it worse is I know Kyme is a better writer than this. It just felt like they forced him to write this one. There was nothing here that needed to be set as part of the Salamander books.

Black Library, call the guys at Audible and give use a real audio book. It is not like you don't have an audience for the material. I already own all the books from the Horus Heresy series and would gladly repurchase them as audio books if you offered them.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Design Feature - The Sawfish by Patrick Stannard

While parsing the ATT forum  I came across a design thread by Patrick Stannard, aka LordDirk. This guy has great vision when it comes to Tau designs. He is a professional animator and illustrator and you can see more of his work on his blogs,,, or simply

Here is one if his latest.

Design:  The Sawfish acts as a medium between the Devilfish Troop Carrier and the Piranha support craft. Able to carry six firewarriors, armed with two gun drones, and boasting dual vehicle mounted sheild generators, the Sawfish turns normally static fire warriors into small mobile firing squads. Without the sheild it has medium armor and has one pilot, the firewarriors attach to the sides and are exposed, spare for the massive sheilding. Firewarriors can fire from the sides and count as firing from an open top vehicle.

Experimental note: Additionally, firewarriors dismounted but within 2" of the Sawfish gain the sheilds 4+ invulnerable save.

Inspiration: After viewing a Tau player contest multiple objectives with highly mobile Tau squads of six mounted in Devilfish, I discovered that small squads of pulse rifles can be very nasty if moved around correctly, and that the static element of the squads seemed to be the most detramental aspect of their performance. Devilfish, most notably the warfish, can be costly and large, so I sketched up a design to minimize the size and cost while adding mobility and support to vulnerable firewarrior squads.

Now if GW would produce something like this I would definately buy it. This seems like the perfect vehicle for pathfinder teams. Small, fast and designed with speed and small size in mind. It is a step above the Tetra in size but not as massive as a Devilfish. All it needs is a few rule tweaks to really set it appart.

Great work Patrick!!! I look forward to seeing more of your works.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Book Review: Soul Hunter

'Know this, Blood Angel. Your final mission was a failure. Your brothers are dead. We will wear their armor in battle against your False Emperor. And know this also, champion of the IX Legion. Twice now, the sons of the Night Hunter have seen you slain. Greet the afterlife within the warp knowing you were too weak to triumph over us, even once.'  Talos of the Night Lords

That one statement should give you a good sense of what Soul Hunter is about. This is the story of a legion that dates back 10,000 years to the Horus Heresy. The Night Lords are one of the original groups of space marines. Sadly they have lost their home world and are slowly dieing out because of it. Without a home world they have been forced to scavenge for armor and materials to continue fighting. This harsh existence leads to some interesting questions on the battlefield, do I dispatch him with my bolter or save the ammo for more worthy prey.

The story follows the VII Legion's Apothecary turned profit Talos. He is gifted or cursed with second sight and is never wrong. This puts him at odds with the rest of the legion and makes him a sought after commodity at the same time.

The thing that sets this story apart from other Space Marine books is the way Aaron Dembski-Bowden shows you the lives of his characters. We get to see the slow decent into madness caused by time in the warp. We get to meet the faceless people that live on the ship and get into their heads a little.  This aspect opens up the characters a little more and takes them from being mindless killing machines and allows them to become soldiers in a war doing what they have to do to survive.

The combat side of the book is pretty good though not as fever pitched as some of the other books. The battles are more skirmish level detail with a great Blood Angels/Space Hulk fight to show off a little close combat work. My favorite is the first ship boarding maneuver where the time is the key and you get to see just how depleted their resources really are.

I would definitely put this one on the short list of things to read.


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