Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

Well the Sons of Sek got finished right under the wire. The GT was a blast and I'll have full coverage by this weekend. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

TUTORIAL - Chaos Bases

One fateful day, about two years ago, I picked up the recent copy of White Dwarf. In that issue was an article about creating Chaos World tables and terrain. The Tzeentch table used wallpaper to cover the table instead of grass or sand. It looked like a cracked surface with blue warp energy emerging from below. I was sold. Having previously decided to do all four cults (Thousand Sons, World Eaters, Death Guard and Emperor's Children) along with the Black legion, I decided that I would use this wallpaper on all of my Chaos bases.

This has been a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because it keeps me from having to apply sand and static grass to my bases. It also creates a very effective yet easy look, that stands out from a lot of conventional bases.

It's a curse because it provides a weak joint between the model and the bases (the paper just rips sometimes) and because painting in the highlights on the warp energy take longer than merely doing a fast drybrush on a textured base.

But I made the decision, and overall I'm happy with it. I usually get a lot of compliments on the bases, and always seem to shock people when I tell them that it's just wallpaper. As you can see in the above picture, it works for all the different flavors of chaos. I've also used mixed armys (most notable some EC and BL), and there is enough consistency in the style and the rocky surface that the different colors of warp energy don't seem to clash.

The other day someone I met at Hat's Games wanted to do the bases for his Eldar. I had previously shown him some of the other examples on the blog. He came here for a tutorial on how to do it, and low and behold, there was none. Ironically, it was one of the first tutorials I had planned on doing when I first started I just never got around to it (in fact I mentioned wanting to to the tutorial back on April 9, 2008 in the post about my Death Guard).

So here it is... how to do Chaos bases, RFTL style.

I usually start by grabbing a bunch of bases at once. I then rip off a large section of the wallpaper. I'm not concerned about conserving it, because I haven't even come close to making a dent in it after some 300+ bases plus a large display board.

Applying Superglue
Kind of hard to tell from this picture, but you just want a bit of superglue in the center of the base. I tried different methods, most notable where I would even spread a very thin layer of glue over the surface of the base. But now I just put it in the center. It takes a little to figure out the right amount. Not the end of the world if you use to much, but don't let it happen too often.

Gluing the Bases to the Wallpaper
You then place the wallpaper upside down and press the base down firmly. Check to see how much glue seeps out the sides. If there's a lot then you're applying too much (makes it difficult to cut the paper). Ideally you want to see just a little bit of moisture at the edges. If there's not enough then the edges will stick up, which you have to go back and glue later.

Cutting the Bases
After they've had 10-15 minutes to dry I start by cutting them in separate, manageable pieces using a scissor. Next I cut them out, trying to get the edge of the wallpaper as flush to the edge of the base as possible. I used to use an exacto, but have been happier with a pair of sharp scissors with a thin blade.

Once they're done, you just glue the model to the paper and prime it up. For metal models with a slot base you have 2 options:
Option 1: Put the model in the slot before the wallpaper. Then cut a piece of wallpaper so that there is a hole for models feet and a center cut so it comes together like to halves. This is a lot of work.
Option 2: Cut off the slot, and pin the model to the base after the wallpaper has been applied. I think this turns out to be easier, especially if you have a dremel.

Painting the Rocks
Step 1: Over a black base do a heavy drybrush of German Grey (GG is a vallejo paint, I highly reccommend getting it and the other Vallejo colors I reccommend here - alternatively mix 1:1 - Chaos Black:Codex Grey).
Step 2: Drybrush Dark Grey (Codex Grey)
Step 3: Finally do a light drybrush of Neutral Grey (Fortress Grey)

Painting the Warp Energy
Well this is up to you, depending on what effect you want. For the Sons of Sek, they have red bases because the worship Khorne (blood for the blood god, and whatnot).
The contrast between the colors looks better in person than in these pics, but I think you get the idea. So for Khorne bases I do the following:
Step 1: Mechrite Red
Step 2: Highlight of Blood Red
Step 3: Finer Highlight of 1:1 - Blood Red:Blazing Orange
Step 4: For those bases with a larger area of energy I'll do a final thin line of Blazing Orange

Really you could do just about whatever. The guy I mentioned earlier from Hat's Games, want to do them as water. I never thought of that, great idea. I reccommended that after he sealed the model to use gloss varnish on the water channels. Looking forward to seeing them finished. Maybe in the future I'll have to steal the idea from him, that he stole from me, that I stole from White Dwarf (somehow that reminds me of Krusty the Clown).

Well, that's it for now. 21 Sons of Sek to go, plus the display board. I'm trying to take pictures as I go along, but its hard when I'm trying to hurry everything.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Classes Begin - Sons of Sek Are Competing for Attention

School Pressure
School started on Monday, and that has changed everything! There's a saying in law school: First year, they scare you to death; second year, they work you to death; third year, they bore you to death. First year: check. Done and over with. This second year the work comes in the form of the substantial paper, that everyone has to write. For me this substantial paper is part of my membership on the Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law. Being on journal also means that I have regular assignments of editing and copy work. I've already had some assignments due over the summer, this week and next. Don't these people know I have a 40k army to complete.

So needless to say my time has quickly evaporated. I don't have entire days to devote to building and painting, and the GT is quickly approaching. I have 45 models left to build and paint, and I'm feeling the strain. I have class everyday at 8am, and end around 10 or 12. Then I have reading for the next day and Journal work. By the time I get home, and make dinner, I don't really start working on the Sons of Sek until 7pm. I try to work until midnight or 1am. Ultimately I'm not getting much work done.

I figured out last night that it takes between 15-17 hours to finish 10 men (7 hours to build [yes, 7 hours!] and 8-10 hours to paint. That means I need to come up with 60-68 hours to finish the Sons and still try to build and paint a display board. This will be tight.

Today my entire afternoon and evening can be devoted to the Sons, and I'm planning on working hard through the entire three day weekend.

Practice Games
Last weekend, Anthony drove down from Phoenix and we played 6 games of 40k over a day and a half. We took turns playing our armies against Epidimius Cheese, all Nurgle CSM and Nidzilla. What we took away from the games is that 5th edition has definitely toned down drop guard. They're no longer nearly as powerful as they were in 4th. Which is good, they needed the nerf. It will definitely make games more challenging. This nerf comes from a combination of improved cover saves for everybody, ability for opponent to always keep things in reserve, and annhilation missions to name a few. No doubt 5th made some changes that benefited the drop guard, like not being able to consolidate into the enemy, always deep striking, etc.

Display Board
I had originally planned to have an entire week to work on the display board. Now it looks like I will have one day. In the past I have constructed a frame from light lumber and have covered the entire surface with the wallpaper I used on my bases. For issues of time, this won't work.

I think given my time, I'm going to look into building a board into a wooden poster frame. In addition I will not be using much of the wallpaper, since painting the red energy takes quite a bit of time (last GT I had an army of 8th graders paint the energy).

Here's what I'm thinking:

The gray sections will be pieces of foam core raised off the "lava" of the main board. They will be covered in sand painted gray like my bases. They will also have random pieces of the wallpaper mixed in with the sand. This will tie it to my army's bases, while keeping the work time down. Maybe it will give them impression that when the Sons make planetfall, warp energy starts to break through the surface and change the planet. Sure, why not? I also might add some kind of ruined building on the section reserved for the command squad. We'll see, time permitting.

The board will have some depth to it, it will tie into my army, and it will be relatively quick to do. Any ideas for what I should use to form the backing of the poster frame, that will essentially serve as the base for the whole board? Really the only metal in the army is the sentinels, so I think the army is still relatively light despite the fact that it's 169 models.

Transporting the Sons of Sek
I have the boys in a Sabol Army Transport. My plan is to take them with me as a carry-on item on the flight. Anyone had experience getting armies through TSA security? Anything I should be aware of. I've done a good job of protecting them in the army transport, but would really prefer not to check them.

Well, that's it for now. As soon as class is over today, I have about an hour's worth of work left on the last 5 models of 2nd Platoon, and then I will get a jump on 3rd platoon. Crunch time is here.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Sons of Sek - Command Bodyguards & T-Shirt Has Arrived

Here are the extra bodyguard for my 4 command squads. These guys have been done for a while, just haven't put them up yet.

The standard bearers and the officers complete the command squads. I decided that it would make sense to give the bodyguard shields, which has no in-game benefit. But I think it really makes them stick out from the veterans (Part I | Part II), who are also based off the chaos warrior models.

The top squad is given red shields, which matches the red cape worn by the Heroic Senior Officer (Chief Sirdar Seram). The squad also contains a master vox. In order for it to be positioned that way, I had to cut off all of the speakers and aerials, and turn them around. I also added some guitar cabling to make a longer aerial, signifying that it is the "master" vox. The bodyguard are armed with lasguns.

The other squads have black shields which match the capes of the other officers. One of the squads is armed with lasguns (they're designed to be back up leadership support, and also possibly grab an objective in my backfield). The other 2 squads have meltas and plasmas. This was a late change in the list, I decided I wanted some more firepower, and took these extra special weapons at the expense of the Sharpshooters Doctrine on the infantry squads.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sons of Sek - Special Weapons Teams & Final T-Shirt Design

Last night I finished the final 6 body guard for my command squads, which leaves only 80 models of 2nd and 3rd platoon left. Later this week I'll post pics of the body guard.

Here's one of the two special weapons squads:

They're armed with 2x Flamers and 1x Demo charge.

The Demo Charge was made from some pieces from the IG Heavy Weapon sprue (I think they belong to the auto cannon). Each half normally glues on either side of the weapon. I made some key cuts and made them sit flush to each other. I then took an arm that was throwing a grenade. I cut out the grenade and put the handle in.

The rules for the demo charge require you to substitute the model for a normal lasgunner after he throws the demo charge. Not wanting to paint another model, I decided to instead paint an extra arm and magnetize them all:

So far in the 2 games I've played with the demo charges they've missed completely. Oh well.

I also sent away for my T-Shirt for tournament. Thanks all who voted. I actually liked the brown myself, and so did one other person. But the maroon is on the way. Here's a pic of the final design:

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Las Vegas Grand Tournament Musings

Hello all, with the GT quickly approaching, I have some issues I've been mulling over, and could do with some input. I get pretty long-winded at times, so just hang in there with me. Here we go...

Tournament T-Shirt
So I decided I want to do a Sons of Sek T-Shirt for me to wear at the GT. I get all my custom shirts from, and have been pretty satisfied with them in the past. I think I've decided on the general layout. It will have the Sons of Sek 3rd, 1st Company banner (here's the model) on the front and the pic a Son of Sek on the back with the text: "For the magister / His voice drowns out all others."

I still have some final prep to do for the images, but I'm torn between which shirt color to get. Uh-oh, Warhammer fashion emergency! So I have a little poll on the right hand side, tell me which one looks better, the Maroon or the Brown shirt.

Concerns about the Painting Score
So last year at the Vegas GT I got a horrible paint score, truly horrible. I took an all Slaaneshi force that has won multiple best painted's locally. Now I'm well aware that what might win a local competition might not do as well nationally. However, last year there were two painting judges for 40k, one male and one female. Apparently the female judge consistently scored armies lower than the male judge. Now maybe she got all the crappy armies, and the male judge got all the amazing armies, but its also possible that she just scored lower. She judged mine and several other armies of people that I know, whose armies deserved a much higher score.

Part of the problem was the really subjective standards that they had last year, and the fact that they awarded conversions more than painting. With that in mind, I decided to do a highly converted army this year. However, they released their painting guidelines and established what I think is a fairly balanced objective set of criteria that proportionately rewards both painting and modeling.

Here's the point... Even with the more objective criteria I'm worried that my army will get judged by the "one judge" (whoever that may be) who judges harsher than the others. I think that with my display board (assuming I get it done) I should conservatively earn about 35/40 points. Let's be honest, this isn't the best army I've painted, I've had to cut corners left and right. However I pick up a lot of points in conversions. I'm just concerned that a judge might not give me the full points for conversions (being candid here, I really think that this army deserves them).

Okay, really, now here's the point: What if I were to place a binder next two my army. On the front it has a nice spiffy title and pics, and says something to the effect of: look inside to see the building and painting process of the Sons of Sek. Then i would basically have color print outs of all of the RFTL blog entries that deal with the SoS.

If you were a judge, what would you think? Would you think, cool, and probably get a deeper appreciation for all the work that went into this army? Or might you think, what a tool. This guy reeks of desperation? Or something in between?

Holes OR No Holes?
I've started thinking about the display board I'll be taking. Last year I made a really nice display board - it was the kind with the holes cut out for the models, so their base is level with board. That tray is sitting in my garage right now and will probably never get used again, since I will never use that exact army composition again. So how big of a difference do you think it will make if I didn't cut the holes out this time around?

Here's what I think-

  • Much less time to make a board without holes
  • Can be used for different permutations of the army, not just one list
  • May not look as good, subsequently I'll earn fewer points
  • May take longer to set up the army without holes
Anything else, pro or con you can think of? Depending on how my schedule goes, I may be scrambling at the last minute anyways, and probably won't have time for the holes. Any thoughts?

Sons of Sek Progress Tracker

If you haven't noticed, at the bottom of the blog I started posting a visual tracking device to show how much is left of the current project and what I'm currently working on. I'll update it as I go along. Here's where I'm at right now:

And finally... 1st Platoon!!!
I finished first platoon in its entirety earlier. I mentioned before that I wanted to pull them all out together at once as a kind of reward. I'm pretty satisfied with them, and am motivated to keep going. Also either today or tomorrow, I'll post some closer pics of the recently finished platoon command squad bodyguards.

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Current Progress on the Sons of Sek

Current Progress on the Sons of Sek
Sept. 5th, 2008 - They were finished literally at the table before the first round began.