Friday, May 3, 2013

Painting and Dust News

What I did this afternoon.
Since 40k has been my most played game for the past month or so I figured it'd be a good idea to slap some paint on my budding Dark Angels army.  My plan was modest: dark green on the regular marines, blue on the Librarian.  Nothing excessive, not even (much) concern with leaving the black primer exposed in the crevices, just a quick base coat so I could prime the other squads and still be able to tell them apart at a glance. 

Of course things soon spun out of control, but we'll get to the soon enough.

The base coat.
The real impetus behind today's session was the Librarian, who has been the runaway all-star of my Dark Angels thus far.  Since it's just the one model I thought I'd take a stab at getting it done as a reward for all those re-rolls.  I also thought I'd try a different approach, one that I've often contemplated and maybe even tried out a couple times before, namely starting with the "middle" color and then shading/highlighting it instead of starting with the shade and then working up.  This approach has been a bit of a Northwest Passage for me in that I'm fairly sure it's possible but have wrecked many a ship (paint job) searching for the way through.  Since it meshed with my base coat only idea for the day I jumped straight in.  I also decided to take pictures at every step, though I only planned for one shading pass and one highlighting pass.  My only goal was to do the blue, though I did lay down some green since I had it on my palette for the others.

Shading and highlighting.
Shading was my first stop and it went well at first.  I took some thinner-than-usual dark blue and painted it into the cracks and crevices.  This went down quick and smooth, but I hit a problem before I finished: what to do for the non-crack shading. (As an in the moment aside, I've just figured out what I'll do for this: use the blue I just mentioned for the shading I'm about to discuss, then go back with black for the C&C [cracks and crevices].  Back to the post.)  While the shading looked fine, it didn't go far enough.  The cracks were good, but all the undersides and generally obscured sections of blue needed to be darker as well.  This presented a problem.  I'm trying to stay away from mixing paints for shades and highlights, though on characters I'm not as concerned since I don't need to replicate steps over many models and have them all look consistent.  My stock of blue paint consists of this: real bright (Electric Blue), middle (Ultra Marine Blue), dark (Imperial Blue and Heavy Blue, which are the same color).  Since I'd used the middle as my base and the dark for the cracks, I had no color to go to for middle shading, so I had to go with the mix.  This brought out a recurring theme for me: too much subtlety.  You could see that there was a difference of color, but you had to really look for it.  While this is (presumably) great for a high end display piece, it just doesn't work for the tabletop plus standard I was shooting for.  Without much to do about it I pushed on to highlighting in the hopes that they would pull the whole thing together.

When I put my brush down.
Of course that didn't work out so well either.  The bright blue I have is far too bright to serve as anything other than a sharp edge highlight.  Figuring I was missing a step I checked the numbers and found that I had two sequential paints (022 and 023), so I wasn't missing anything.  (Having looked up those numbers just now I see that I'm both right and wrong here.  Electric Blue[023] is the brightest VGC blue, but Ultra Marine Blue[022] is not the middle.  Thus Ultra Marine Blue should be the "area highlight" I'm looking for which lets Electric Blue do its thing as an edge highlight.  Looks like someone will be hitting Victory Comics on the way back from hockey tomorrow.)  I dipped into the vile pool of paint mixing again with results that were just as disappointing as my attempts as shading, though for the opposite reason.  What came out of this process were highlights that were too sharp and too sporadic.  The Electric Blue would have looked fine as a final highlight if it was supported by a step between it and the Ultra Marine Blue.  I considered giving the whole thing a blue wash to see if it would help, but in the end I just moved on to doing the green on the back of the Librarian's cloak.  Now that I've had all these flashes of painting inspiration I'm kicking myself for having done so much (namely the tabard) past the blue.  I'd like to go back and give it another go, which I may do anyway, but I'll be worried about mucking up the tabard that came out just fine.  However it turns out at least I'll have a reasonably painted Librarian to field, and with some luck I'll even finish it off soon.

Cloak shot.
Switching gears, big Dust news hit the internets yesterday.  Fantasy Flight won't be distributing Dust anymore.  Battlefront will be taking up those duties, which is cause for hope and concern.  BF definitely knows mini games as they not only do Flames of War but also own Gale Force 9.  FFG is a gaming behemoth, but composed mostly of board and card games.  I've often wondered, occasionally in this space, who is responsible for the issues I have with Dust (mostly packaging and availability of particular models).  Now I'll get to find out.  My hope is that having a legitimate miniatures company distributing and (potentially) working on the game will iron out some of the more obvious issues.  BF has a reputation for high prices though, which could spell disaster for a game where low prices are a primary draw for me.  My stance so far is cautious optimism.  That said I'm pondering a big push to finish off my Axis army.  Currently this clocks in at around $140 to have doubles of just about everything, but I can easily drop that down to around $100 if I pass on the transport and a second Kommandotrupp.  I'd like to get in before prices go up (which looks like a sure thing since the guy behind Dust has already said this is going to happen), but considering my previous musings on the possible waning interest in Dust I might be doubling down on a losing bet.

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