One of my favorite parts of KublaCon is the painting area set up just outside the dealers room on the edge of the foyer. I really like the location. Something about being tucked under the stairs adds to the industrious feeling, the Paint and Take tables being almost always full certainly doesn’t hurt either. Will really have to get photos of some of the hard working apprentice painters next year. It is inspiring to see so many people of all ages tucking in and trying their hands at minis painting as well as artists sharing their skills.
Friday found me entering the first of the Speed Painting contests as I was there and I like to maximize my opportunities to get into the final round. Always a fun way to spend time with creative people as we all have the same figure, the same paints, and the same lousy brushes. Other than the final round one never knows what figure will be handed out. If one places first, second, or third in any early contests then they can sign up for the Masters Round held Sunday night.
My first piece was a Rivet Wars figure I had never seen before. I don’t play the game but am vaguely aware of the visuals. Since the figure came with a stat card showing this color scheme I decided it was easier to match what I saw rather than create something from scratch. Fortunately I had just enough time to add the tartan to the kilt and crowns to the ammo belt. I think those were some of the details that took it over the top, placing first in the round. That meant I was eligible for the final one Sunday night. Now, there is no rule saying one can’t enter multiple times but once I’ve earned a spot in the final contest I’m done entering qualifying rounds. I’ve got games to play and friends to catch up with after all.
So this year’s mascot is a Dwarf Cleric version of Kubla and as has become tradition, the final round’s figure is that year’s Kubla mini. While I love dwarfs he is a VERY small figure whose finest detail is difficult for me to discern with my fifty year old eyes and the brushes we have aren’t very good. Since one isn’t allowed to use an Opti-visor in the Speed Painting competition it is obviously becoming a young person’s game. I will keep doing my best to represent the oldsters in the painting community but only time will tell how much longer I will last. While I was able to do some nice, basic color blending as well as pick out some fine detail there was a gem on his forehead I couldn’t even see and I was disappointed in my handling of the mace head. It is supposed to be a ten sided die but I just went with a straight (boring) metalic scheme. My hard work and patience did pay off as I won the Silver Medal in the final round for the second year running. The winner did a great job on his figure, painting the tiny jewel on his helmet and making the weapon look like the head was made out of a sapphire. I felt fortunate to be right behind him in second place as the rest of the field were quite good. That’s what happens when twelve winners sit down together I guess.
Next was the actual KublaCon Painting Competition 2015. I find the name to be a little misleading as it is really more of a miniatures painting Exhibition. Each entry is judged on it’s own merit, whether it meets certain criteria and awarded a medal if it reaches them. If five painters enter pieces that earn enough points to qualify as Silver then all five painters win Silver Awards or badges in the case of the Draconic Awards. This year saw KublaCon’s volunteers teaming up with the Draconic Awards adding yet more national cred to our little local convention. We are already a qualifier for the Crystal Brush competition so this seems a logical next step. Before I go any further I’d like to take a moment to thank the previously mentioned volunteers. The Painting area is hugely successful every year due in no small part to the excellent people who give their time and talents over the weekend. A huge Shout Out and hearty thanks to Wayne, Meredith, and all their volunteers for running a wonderful part of KublaCon.
I have mentioned the Beholder miniature from Reaper Bones in an earlier post. I love the sculpt and despite having no real use for him in any games I currently play, he was the first one out of the rewards I painted. His face is just so expressive and the details fun to paint that I wanted to show him off. I also think he came out quite well for squishy plastic. Turns out I was right and he earned a Silver. Maybe it was his hypnogaze.
Maelee, by Bombshell Babes is another figure with an expressive face who was fun to paint. Honestly, I find the majority of them to be entertaining and well sculpted. I coupled her with a Malifaux base because her massive wrench needed some massive pipes. I was delighted, upon entering her, to discover that there is a limited edition, alternative sculpt of Maelee battling robots. The three winners of the Final Speed Painting Round each won a limited edition figure from various manufacturer and first place was the alternate Maelee. As luck would have it he really preferred the resin vampire thing I had and we happily swapped. Thanks, Jordan! Back to this Maelee and my luck held out landing her a Silver despite her refusal to wash up before the competition.
My fondness for dwarfs is no surprise to any who know me and when they are mounted and highly mobile it’s just bonus. I showed pictures of my Berserker Lord on Brock in an earlier post but I enjoyed painting both him and the base so much I wanted to show him at KublaCon. I think it was the old school mushrooms I made out of milliput and toothpicks that tipped him to Draconian Gold.
Since I’ve just had a ball assembling and painting unit bases for Mantic’s Kings Of War I wanted to show off a couple of them. Besides being my current favorite, the Hasslefree Bulwarkers unit are an attractive grouping, carefully painted, and all those hand drilled spearheads and dwarf hands deserved to be in a display case at least once. The decorative Scibor bits really add a sense of narrative as well. So pleased when they won a gold as after the first two silvers I was worried nothing else placed because I’ve been a solid bronze and silver winner for years. Well I needn’t have worried.
Just like the Bulwarkers, the second edition Bugman’s Rangers are some of my favorite minis, ever. It was my college room mate’s paint job, with a tiny stein on each shield, on this unit that caught my imagination and made me not only want to play Warhammer but collect my own dwarfs. The Oldhammer, chunky stunties of the eighties are so different from Kev White’s anatomically logical work that I wanted to show something from both examples. I was floored when they also won Gold.
Okay, Slayer Girl, as I’ve come to think of this female slayer by Hasslefree is a wonderful sculpt that (I even have the scifi version of) has been off and on the painting table for over a year. As soon as I’d decide on one part of her I’d run into the massive force that is my own indecision on the next part. Once a section was done something would happen and she would get chipped or spilled on so I kept starting and stopping her. When everything was fixed I couldn’t decide on the tattoos. Finally, right before the con and after a base swap I felt she was finished. I have struggled with flesh tones and worked to get hers right. The miniature really inspired me to keep coming back to make things better, to push my comfort zone and work on new techniques, not accept “good enough” like she were a bulk trooper. It is also helpful to have Necron99 pointing out the obvious when I’m too close to see it (the previously mentioned base swap for example). Truthfully, I was really hoping she would place and felt she was my best chance for maybe a gold this year. Turned out she was one of four golds but she came in third in the Journeyman Class. Which is truly humbling because there were amazing pieces this year done by talented painters that I was just proud to be showing with so to place at all was more than I had even considered. To top it off, I won a full set of twenty-four Militiare transparent paints. Talk about exceeding any and all expectations.
So, I always said if was able to win another gold, especially in Single Miniature, I would move up to Masters Class the next year. When one enters six pieces, wins two silver and four gold then it is time to run with the big dogs or as Necron99 puts it,”enter the wasteland of no trophies”. Honestly, I’m so stunned by this year’s amazing results I’m sure the buzz will carry me through a few years of hoping for Bronze in future. Until then I have skills to sharpen, pigments to master, bases to create, and an airbrush to dig out of my garage because I know as long as I keep trying to learn, to improve, I will keep loving this art form. Hope to see you all at the KublaCon painting cases next year.
So I had my zombie fighting Scooby Gang, found a suitable Mystery Machine upgrade, and I had some maskless ghosts and zombies. Time for a base. I did some sketches, moved the figures around a piece of paper before finally heading down to the local craftstore, reasoning it would be easier to plan out if I knew what I was going to build on. Tom (http://www.skullncrown.com/store/) always says to buy the storage box before building the terrain so you know where it needs to all fit into. Words I have repeatedly found the wisdom in the older I become. So with that in mind I found a wooden plaque template that was big enough to hold all my parts and I liked the varied edge. I had played with a number of ideas, the runner-up being the parking lot of the ruined malt shop but in the end I decided on a simple crossroads because I wanted to make the wooden sign as much as any symbolism. At this point I drew the overall shape onto a piece of foam core as well as circles where the bases would be inset, cut everything out (careful right angles for the circles tapered outer edge), and glued it down to the board with some Elmers White Glue.
I built up the area around the road with lightweight spackling and painted the road with Golden Course Textured Medium mixed with deep brown acrylic paint as a base color figuring I might as well save a step. I ran an old flat brush, frequently moistened in water, along the road to simulate ruts and old tire tracks. Once I liked the look, I pressed the tracks of the Mystery Machine against a wet sponge repeatedly between pressing them against the still moist roadway, up to the point I wanted the vehicle to be parked.
I painted the finished roadway with a watered down gloss medium to make it look wet and flocked the rest of the areas with Woodland Scenics materials, finishing them off with some tufts of grass to break up the solid horizontal planes a little. I built the sign post out of bits and pieces laying around my table.
The resin kit I picked out (GZG41 Snow Cat at http://www.daemonscape.com/contents/en-uk/d5_01.html) has some nice detail, is a clean cast, and has wonderful flat panels to paint that 70’s detail onto. I do recommend washing resin kits with a little dish soap, rinsing very well before drying them with paper towels. Otherwise I find my hard work comes pealing off the mini AFTER I’ve completely finished and usually right before I want to show it off. The only issue I had was with the turret as it didn’t have more than a slightly raised cylinder to show where to place it and then the gun hit the vehicle’s ventilator/snorkel (yes, they might have to cross flooded out roadways on their way to “Old Man Brown’s Farm” looking for the zombie of Don Knots) and my gang would need clear arcs of fire. All I needed to do was build a short base to raise the height of the barrel a bit and I found that the trigger block from a can of Montana Gold spray paint was perfect. The hole in the trigger block was almost exactly the same size as the placement cylinder and even tapered into the middle so I didn’t have to sand it off the original. What I did have to do was build up the bottom of the turret and add a plug so it could rotate. I used two part epoxy, or greenstuff, to roughly shape the bottom before pressing it into place, the surface of which was liberally covered in water to prevent sticking when I then removed it. This provided a nice, custom fit plug. After it dried I test fit and sanded it to get a smooth, tight connection and it was time to paint.
Other than the Cosmonaut Horrorclix figure where I wanted to keep his transparency, I primed everything white. Still not made the jump to airbrush I do everything by brush, including my vehicles.
I try to keep my base coats clean as it makes everything else so much easier and is worth the effort once I start putting down washes and stains.
After the base coats the figures receive said stain and washes. While I will coat every bit of a 10mm Warmaster figure (strip of figures?) a solid wash of brown (Agrax Earthshade in Games Workshop colors) for these I prefer to mix it up and tailor the colors more. Secret Weapon Miniatures (http://www.secretweaponminiatures.com/) not only make my favorite washes (huge range of colors made out of high quality materials), my favorite bases (nothing less for Hasslefree Miniatures) but also an incredible line of dry pigments I swear by for weathering. The tutorials on the website are wonderful.
The gang were simple enough as reference materials are everywhere online. I did find a great “print and fold” your own Mystery Machine on Deviantart.com that showed the details on EVERY side of the vehicle. That was wonderfully helpful. It was really a straight forward job of base coats, washes, blend, and highlight on the figures. I was working off of cartoon characters here after all. I mounted all of the Scooby Gang figures on Secret Weapon Corpse Fields Beveled bases with the original plan of adding some water effects afterward. The “Rombies” were all based on simple round bases I didn’t do more than add some texture to. Heroes should stand apart on multiple levels after all. I still haven’t added the water effects because I’m not really sure they need it. Might be a bit of overkill but with zombies that might not be a bad choice.
Such a fun project and I’m rather proud of myself for getting results so close to my original vision. That happens so rarely in any creative endeavor it’s worth savoring. All that’s left now is to figure out a game to use them in.
I have been in love with Hasslefree Miniatures’ (http://www.hfminis.co.uk/) Scooby Doo Gang as Zombie Fighters figures since the first time I saw them. I knew if I ordered them I would find a reason to use them eventually but it wasn’t until KublaCon 2012 when I acquired a HorrorClix Undead Cosmonaut that I knew I had to make a diorama. Okay, a little clarification on my use of “acquired”. Necron99 actually picked it up as part of his Friday night flea market haul. Immediately upon seeing it, I grabbed it and said he was needed to face my Scooby Gang. Being a man who appreciates aesthetics as much as he does classic cartoons he graciously agreed to let me have the radiated figure. Then it was a a simple matter of ordering a Zombie Dog Walker and Deep Sea Diver (would need some conversion) from Reaper Miniatures and my cast was complete.
Now, if they were going to be fighting zombies, real zombies as opposed to guys in rubber masks, then their Mystery Machine would really need an upgrade. I have found that Daemonscape (http://www.daemonscape.com/index.html) is a good place to start for science fiction vehicles and after some looking around settled on the armed and armored, four track Snow Cat.
Now that I had the pieces assembled it was time to plan out the display board and start painting but that can wait for another post.