Wednesday, February 27, 2013

John Blanche's Tzeentchian Madness Continues...

Lets continue with John Blanche's curious Tzeentchian horde...

Tzeentchii beestmanne by John Blanche

"Tzeentchii beestmanne - next of mi warband", John titles his latest creation. "north versus south - friedrich, grunwald, rembrant, altdorfer, durer, as opposed to botticelli, raphael, tintoretto, michelangelo - warm rich earth tones instead of blazing blue skies - i try to recreate the rembrandt cow carcuss in mi miniatures, punks instead of busker, vikings and saxons instead of greeks and romans ....", John throws some light in the philosophy of his style.

Tempered violence, vigorous character and coarsed renaissance play a huge part in John's grotesque tableu vivant. These are strong themes and easily over-played, but John manages to keep the package together, merging great creations with these tools of emotions.
Fierce movement, mordant blade and soggy ground reflecting the blood red sky smother the beastman in violence, like if it had born from the beating act of the elements. Naked, hairy and perspering body bring in a nuance of vulgar revivalism. Skulls tie the creation nicely to the macabre universe, where the brainpannes are always a long lasting natural resource to harvest.

In our email exchange John writes and explains to me that it seems like the Northern European culture is raising its head in the scene, inspiring his miniatures too. Maybe that has something to do with the fresh edge that John's latest creations, along with the amazing Yggdrassilium Pilgrimage scenario, posses...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Champion of Tzeentch by John Blanche

Today I'd like to share couple of wonderful photos from my inbox, sent to me by John Blanche himself. These are actually pretty fresh, taken with an iPad yesterday by John (to be exact) from his most recent miniature, Champion of Tzeentch.

Champion of Tzeentch by John Blanche

Vibrant warm tones, picturesque and easy-going brushwork, limited palette and fierce ambience. These are some of the trademarks John so well executes in his miniatures - and this one is no exception.

Now John is a man who needs very little introduction. The same goes with his unique and bold style of painting miniatures. But I felt that we too rarely get to see or read about the routines John does when he does his art, so I went and asked if he could tell us a little bit more about the process he went throught when painting the Champion.

It was really kind of John to reply my request with couple of lines, explaining some of the magic he did with this miniature.

"6 paints and three inks plus rub and buff gold on the armour edges and an all over shading wash in a muted brown i have mixed miself from devlan mud, nuln oil and gryphon sepia - " John writes. "fairly limited pallette and all shades and colours muted  [ white, black, snakebite leather, orange, silver,  tiny bit of green ] - that is mixed with another colour to take away the vivid artificial feel - " John continues.

Rub and buff is a wax base metallic finish for antiquing, crafts and decorating. You rub the wax onto surface with finger or soft cloth, then gently buff to so that it starts to shine. Very peculiar way to make metallics to your miniatures and it just screams to be tested! But lets get back to John, shall we...

"red ink with black, snakebite leather with white pretty much the main colours - other than the buff theres no gold or red used at all .... " John explains the basics. "2 varnishes - one matt the other surprisingly gloss - one brush a winsor and newton series 7 size 0 but worn a bit - faint white spray undercoat - hot radiator dries fast -  only use daylight ever .... thumbnail and cartridge paper palette - radio 4 and the web as companionship ... " John lists and wraps it with couple of useful tips for bonus.

The miniature is part of a larger group that John is building for a Realms of Chaos anniversary game that will be played somewhere in the near future.


We, the Spiky Boys, have learned a lot about painting and art while we've been studying John's fantastic art. I have even got many great tips from the man himself when I've asked the guidance for certain techniques. Perhaps the most significant tip that John has shared with me is the use of inks, in both traditional 2D art and miniature painting. Maybe it was just a side note in something that John wrote to me about, but when I learned about the W&N inks, my painting has never been the same. Sometimes you just need someone to show you the right path to follow.

Maybe the use of inks and some other techniques is the reason why so many thinks that our stuff has much in common with what John does. This is, of course, both intentional an unintentional; We share some of the same mediums in what we do, even same miniatures and themes. We're adapting some of his techniques to ours to get the similar effects to what we do, trying to get our stuff in line with his, maybe even shaping the same universe.

But what I think makes our work so similar with John's is the enthusiasm towards the hobby and the art around it. We get inspired by the works of other talented people and want to put our own best in the soup, mixing our own visions with theirs and therefor making more or less similarly themed creations. I'm fond to what John does and want to create similar visions, even with the same mediums and techniques to get there. Sometimes the creations are more or less similar to what he does, heck, even I get surprised by the outcome for time to time!

But the main thing for me is this: I feel comfortable of what I'm doing and I'm enjoying it wholeheartedly.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Red Corsair - Ragal Gair, Champion of the Fleet

Ragal Gair, Champion of The Fleet

So there he finally stands, the Red Corsair Ragal Gair, Champion of the Fleet, the harvester of skulls. The hulking armour, seasoned and stained by the time and blood, gleams in deep red. Moist, freshly picked trophy skulls, pierced by the thorns of the shoulder guard, make a macabre altar of victory, drawing fat hungry flies to feast. The grotesquelly shaped power hook, in place of an arm lost long ago in a fierce boarding fight, whispers quiet hissing sounds when it moves in the will of its master...

Ragal Gair's painting process took me almost a week to finish, eating almost all of my freetime. I have to thank my wife for her understanding as all I could think was to finish this up before the end of the week. Sometimes I get pretty deep when I start something...

Ok, some thoughts about the final stages. I decided to change the direction of the head at the last minute. The final posture is now somewhat more alert and a bit more balanced.

Now some of you might notice that the familiar black and red colour scheme of the Red Corsairs is in Gair's case much more dominated by the vivid red. There's still some hints of black here and there, in bolt pistol and in tilting shield to name the few.

My main inspiration for the colour scheme came from this John Blanche's Red Corsair painting...

Red Corsair by venerable John Blanche

I tried to capture the vivid reds of the painting for my Corsair. I primed the whole armour with dark red and brown, adding a layer of red,  highlighting with orange and yellows and finally gaving the whole thing a nice shiny layer of orange ink. I almost ruined the whole process by adding a layer of mat varnish on top of the paintjob, as the varnish ate all the gleam and vibrant shades of the armour that made it so vibrant in the first place. Fortunately, I was able to fix my error by gently repeating the process, excluding the mat varnish, of course ;)

Here's some more angles of the finished Red Corsair...

I decided to keep the backpack as it was, as modificating it afterwards felt quite laborious.

Vivid red was pretty unforgivingly hard to capture in to photos, like many before me have witnessed. That dark backdrop didn't help it a bit. In the end, I was able to adjust my camera to get decent shots that where the colour balance was acceptable for the post-processing.
Finally some close-ups...

So 1/3 finished and two more to go. I've already started planning the next one but it'll take some time before I have anything substantial to show you. Hmm, maybe it is time to get back to Punk Moth project...

- Kari

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Red Corsair - Shaggy Fur Cloak | WIP IV

I managed to finish sculping the fur cloak for the Corsair. It became sophisticatedly massive, just the way I planned it to be...

I decided to leave the bottom of the cloak without fur just to make the thing a little bit less heavy. Thereby I was able to practice sculpting some cloth folding... Not sure if the outcome is natural or not, but guess the result does the trick, don't you think?

Little details like bones and skull hanging from the fur on the back break the dominant fur texture a bit, lighten the mood so to speak. It is always a good idea to add something catchy on the back of your mini, just so that the rear view wouldn't be so, well, dull.

Size comparison - Astartes vs. standard Imperial citizen

I did try to put a fur loin cloth for the Corsair, but I thought it was maybe a little bit too much and decided to let it go at this time. I'll definately consider of using it in my next Corsair project, to tie this mini and that together (furrr!).

Any final hints or tips before heading to priming?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Red Corsair - Studded | WIP III

Phew, just finished with the Corsair's armour trims and studds. I decided to keep the trims very simple and less ornamental - like if I had the skills to make them that ornamental at this point. I'll leave it to the painting state to really bring those flat areas alive. Got to say, gluing those tiny studds (cut off from dish brush hair) wasn't really the best bit of this project...

And here's a close-up from the trophy skulls pierced by the shoulder pads spikes (Sorry Molotov, majority spoke and I decided to keep the skulls). Like JB suggested, I will paint something catchy on the other shoulder's shield to balance the upper body. Also, the massive fur mantle that I've planned to "frame" the Astartes will make the trophy skulls pad look lot smaller.

And finally a peek to behind. This area will probably be mostly covered by a massive fur mantle that'll trail behind the Corsair.

If everything goes well, the Corsair is well on its way to be finished before the end of the month. I was thinking of expanding this project a bit, giving the Renegade Astartes a small companion, a helmet carrier on a seperate base, to make the massive character look even bigger.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Red Corsair - Trophy Skulls | WIP II

Onwards with the Corsair...

The posture is now a bit more vigorous than it was in the blue tac stage. I widened the chest area a bit more from the sides and the back area and added a round of thin piece of plasticard around the Marine's waist to give the upper torso more mass. Little things like grenades and small pockets give an extra effect to make the waist even thicker.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Red Corsair - Get Bulky | WIP I

Here's a small update on my current progress with the Red Corsair project...

After being satisfied by the pose, I started cutting, filing and cleaning up the bits for the conversion stage. I use greenstuff while sculpting because I'm fond to its consistency and rather lazy to try out other materials.

I started working on the legs and chest area, giving them more of that much needed bulkiness. The chest is now a bit bigger than it used to be, but still not enough bulky in my opinion. I'll work on that later. The waist is also way too thin at the moment and needs another round of the greenstuff - or maybe a narrow batten made out of the plasticard.

And here's the power hook in process. I decided to remove part of the plasticard shielding the hook to reveal more of the machinery powering the arm. Two long green strings are small cables still waiting for binding.

I use my thumb nail both as a palette when painting minis and as a base for the modeling putty while sculpting. The nail is always close to what you're working on with and hence very optimal place for these kinds of things.