Hello hobby fans! It’s time for the second instalment of Heresy Vs Heroes where I pit my skills against one of my favourite hobbyists in a battle of the brushes. Last month saw me take on Garfy from Tale of Painters and it’s fair to say he won the public vote – you can take a look at the final pieces here.
So that brings us to this month where I will be taking on my old friend Bobbie, better known to some as Violet Sun Props on Twitter. Bobbie is a relentless hobbyist with some amazing ideas and a history of creating some fantastic armies that she has used on some occasions to crush my armies (mercilessly I might add). Let’s meet her, but first, here’s a reminder of the rules to Heresy Vs Heroes…
• Both competitors will have one month to paint one mini
• The guest will get to choose whether they want to paint a bad guy (Heresy) or a good guy (Hero)
• I (that is me, John) will paint the opposite (so if they choose “Hero”, I’ll paint a “Heresy”)
• The guest will also decide which game system we’re working with – 40k, AoS, Horus Heresy
• The guest will also, if so desired, be able to add one additional stipulation of their choice, and it can be anything
• Heresy: Any “Chaotic” hero/leader/character
• Hero: For AoS, any GA:Order hero/character. For 40k/HH, any Imperial/Loyalist hero/character
And how will we be determining a winner? Well, at the end of the month, we’ll both post a poll on twitter, and the mini that gets the most votes, is the winner. It’s all for fun and a bit of a challenge. You’ll be able to follow along with the challenge as we’ll both be using the hashtag #HeresyVsHero for WiPs, the Polls and the Results. So without further ado, let’s catch up with Bobbie.
Hi Bobbie! How Are You?
I’m doing well, thank you.
Can you tell Me A bit about your hobby history?
I guess I’d be a second generation wargamer. My Dad built up a decent collection of Airfix tanks and figures in his youth and still had them when I was a youngster. So I really started with those and playing historical wargames in more than one sense. I quickly found my way to Games Workshop stuff around the beginning of 1998 with 40k second edition. I was a devoted collector through 3rd to 5th edition, but took a big break up until the launch of 8th edition, which I think brought a lot of people back into the hobby.
I’ve had a bit of a long term project on the go lately, my 5th edition Warhammer Fantasy Vampire Counts army, which I’ve been doing alongside a few other hobbyists putting together their own retro forces. Between painting many many skeletons I’ve been enjoying putting together some 40k character conversions and even a Titanicus Reaver titan. (John – You can check out Bobbies’s Vampire Counts on Arbitor Ian’s Youtube Channel).
And will you be painting Heresy or Heroes?
Whilst I enjoy both I think this time I’ll be going for “Heroes” or at least something approaching it.
Approaching it, eh? Intriguing. And What Game System Are We Going With?
Let’s see what we can come up with for 40k
Any other stipulations?
As is probably evident from my previous answers, I’ve got a good stock of old figures… so lets go for ‘Oldhammer’ as a stipulation.
Alright! Lots of metal and nostalgia – I like it! Pre-match predictions?
I think the only thing I can predict is that we’ll end up with some lovely painted miniatures.
Ain’t that the truth!
And so there you go. Over the course of the next month, you can follow me at @HeresyHeroes, and you can follow Bobbie at @VioletSunProps on Twitter and see how we get on (and find out what Bobbie has up her sleeve)! I’ve got a really fun mini in mind that I’ve had for a while that I think Bobbie will really like, and I dare say Bobbie has a crazy, terrifying and totally awesome conversion in mind, but I’ll have to wait and see. Whatever happesn, this should be a lot of fun.
Look forward to seeing updates soon from both of us, and we’ll put some polls up at the end of the month on twitter. Until then, may your painting hand be firm and your imagination fruitful. Onwards!
Another miniature rolls of the Heresy & Heroes production line and this one was a real joy. The Skaven Warlock Bombardier (whose name, for some reason, I can never remember) has to be one of the most joyful miniatures to paint, but also build.
A couple of years ago, I had to build 15 of these guys for a project. And I had no instructions to help me, but because this is all logical (just build biggest piece to smallest piece) and because I couldn’t find a single mould line, it was a treasure to put all of those together. And since then, I always wanted to paint one for myself. So I did.
And again, I’m happy to say that it’s one of the best things I’ve painted. It’s really nice and encouraging to feel like that, and even though my photography continues to let me down a little, I wanted to show it off. You can see the vague shape of it!
There are so many favourite bits. The robes are great, the tail is a lot of fun, the glowing eyes, the lightning… honestly, it’s full of all those fantastic details. And the back pack is almost an entire miniature on its own, full of brilliant details. Fun fact with that piece; I painted all the metals of the backpack in silvers and used contrast paints to turn them into grimy iron, brass and copper.
There’s lots of subtle blends and weathering all over the piece. I’m really happy with the greenish smoke too, which I lifted from the Eavy Metal version and in fact, the official scheme is really spot on for this so it was great reference material.
The rocket’s so much fun, and the little rats are a joy… overall, it’s one hell of a single mini to paint and if you put another down in front of me right now, I’d happily paint it all over again. And, the rate I’m going, it would be another success for my painting. So much positivity around here today!
On to the next project then. Not sure what that is yet, but I look forward to finding out. Until then, I hope your brush points always stay sharp, and your paints ever moist. Onwards!
From time to time, the grimdark gets too grim, and too dark for me. Every now and again, the horrors of the 41st Millennium, and even the Mortla Realms, can get too much. As all here know, I am a huge fan of the Warhammer setting, but when I can’t face it, I have a secret remedy – Burrow & Badgers. Perhaps the most delightful miniatures game and series of miniatures ever.
No, there’s no mashed potato involved. I discovered Oathsworn Miniatures from a friend, and it’s magical. Truly magical. There are tinges of Narnia, Redwall and all of those wonderful, anthropomorphised animal comics and cartoons that you might remember from your youth. And while these critters may be at war, it’s not some grim, dark, universal conflict complicated by endless agendas and nightmares – it’s simple battle in skirmish form. And the miniatures are, quite frankly, adorbs.
There’s a Shrew-zerker. A gorram Shrew-zerker! How awesome is that?! But not only that. There’s a Praying Mouse, a Mole Mercenary, a Hedgehog Alchemist, a Frog Fixer, a Rat Buccaneer… it doesn’t end. A fantastic list of beautiful, charming, funny characters, and a fantastic menagerie of marvellous miniatures and delightful animals that are bleeding brilliant. They’re just so full of humour and wonder.
What I love about this is the imagination involved. it stays within the woodland realm, but it’s bursting with charming (there’s that word again), funny, intriguing and enjoyable ideas that just make you smile. How can you not crack a smile at the idea of a ‘Pug Bounty Hunter’? It’s factually impossible to do so. The whimsy is endless, and you’re bound to find plenty of the little darlings that will call to your imagination – there are loads to choose from.
There’s one £20 rulebook (Also available as a cheaper pdf when the book is out of stock) with all the rules you’ll need, and the minis are single piece metal toys that are so amazingly reasonably priced you won’t believe your eyes. Occasionally, I have a slight tipsy splurge on these minis and it never comes out at more that £30. And when my order arrives, it comes in this:
How nice is that?! A handwritten “thank you” on the box, lovingly packed with gorgeous little characters. It’s a fantastic customer experience. And I’ve been working on my first little skirmish force, made up mainly of tiny critters (mice specifically) led by a cat who has them dancing to his tune. I love that you can do that with this game – it’s got such a delightful innocence and joy to it all. There’s a great amount of flexibility and you really get the sense that the imagination is the driver here, which is great.
You’ll have seen the wee critters scattered throughout this post, but I can’t wait to paint more. I’ll always be a devotee of the Warhammer universes, but it’s so wonderful to have a bit of Burrows & Badgers in my hobby too. A soothing woodland yin to Warhammer’s all-out, massive and blood-drenched yang. And when I paint these, I spend more time trying to get the feel of innocence out of them, rather than pushing myself to paint them perfectly. It makes such a pleasant change, and quite the palette cleanser.
I hope you’ll consider supporting Oathsworn Miniatures – they’re a small independent operation that deserve a bit of love and attention from all who love the hobby. You will get nothing but joy from these miniatures. I promise you, it’s a wonderful thing you’re bound to enjoy. Oh, and you can follow Michael who’s responsible for this treasure of a miniatures line on Twitter too – right here. I hope you’ll give it a go – Onwards!
“What land is this?” Barakros watched as the golden colour of his armour drained away to nothingness. Flecks danced in the dull, blood-tinged light, glittering as they spun away from him.
Long shadows fell before him and he looked to see his own kind. Great warriors of Sigmar, strode silently towards him. It was only as they drew closer he saw the rust and grime of their armour. Bare metal, streaked with grease and splashed with now dry blood. Upon their shields, a lone black star.
“Brother? What land is this?” he asked again.
“State your name” the only forthcoming reply.
“Barakros. Liberator of the-“
“Liberator is fine. You are no longer part of any other host. Quickly now, present your shield”
The stranger took from a worn leather pouch at his waste a brush, like one might use for painting decorations upon the walls of a home, and moved it over Barakros’ shield. A sticky black substance traced the black star upon the face of it, and moments later it was applied to the shoulder of his star-forged armour.
“The symbol will protect your armour. It stops it from being lost to the chill winds of Ulgu where you now stand. You are one of us now. We are the unreturned. We are those whose Sigmars voice could not reach, and whose lightning could not summon back to our home. We are the Ashen Stars, and we have use for a warrior like you…”
That’s the idea that started the Ashen Stars. When I first moved up to Nottingham, I received a “Start Collecting!” box of Stormcast Eternals and if I’m honest, I had very little interest in doing much with them. I think they’re a really fun faction, but they never really caught my imagination. That and I’ve never really enjoyed painting gold – just got a bit of a blind spot for it. Of course, gold isn’t a necessity, but I suppose, the way they were presented, I never really found a soft spot for them.
And I didn’t know too much about the lore either – something I would learn more about later. But I did like that they arrived and left the battlefield as bolts of lightning sent from Azyr. So I thought; what if that went wrong? What if, when a host returns, every now and again, a single warrior remained. And the warrior’s armour started to lose its colour until it was bare metal and began to rust. But they’d always find their way to Ulgu, and would be met by others who had encountered the same fate. They would teach the newcomer the sacred symbol that would protect their armour – a five pointed black star, painted using the ash that flows across the realm’s winds.
Why this is happening? Who knows. Maybe Morathi has done something. Maybe Nagash. Maybe there’s a flaw with the process of creating a Stormcast Eternal? Who knows. But over the last couple of years, using a very quick and easy scheme that lends itself to this sort of thing, I’ve built up a small army of the Ashen Stars, and I thought I’d show them off here. So let’s take a little look:
I wanted the army to have three distinct parts. Heavy Support, a strong Core, and some Fast Attack (to borrow from 40k’s terminology).
The Heavy Support so far brings some nasty ranged power, augmented by the Lord Ordinator I painted for the recent Heresy Vs Heroes project I embarked on (more on that soon). And protected by the raven-like Aetherwings who can strike out at anything that gets too close and harass any nearby threats.
I think my favourite unit here are the dudes with big crossbows (name escapes me right now). I like the old fashioned weapons given a high fantasy twist.
There’s not much to the core yet. Some Liberators and Stormsire’s mob. I love the old sword and board combo, and I don’t care if hammers are better – the swords just look cooler. I went for a dull red glow to contrast against the typical bright blue glow that the faction is known for.
The Knight Azyros leads the Fast Attack portion of the army which so far is made up only of Prosecutors (that’s their name right?) and my favourite Gryph-hounds.
The hounds were a lot of fun to paint. I wanted the animals in this army to have a similar affliction to the Stormcast so I studied Albinism and Melanism to get their colours right. A very enjoyable project.
There’s more to do, though when I get the time, who knows. I need to expand that core to make it a playable army, and I want more in that Fast Attack section. I’ve got the minis, but not the time. One day. And until that day comes, I wish you happy and successful painting! Onwards!
So, it has come to this. Video. I recently spruced up my hobby room and I wanted to show it off a little bit because it’s looking hella dope (I don’t think anyone says that anymore, do they?), and you know how I am with photographs. Couldn’t tell my F-point from a hole in the ground, or an aperture from my elbow. So then I had a crazy notion; why not shoot a wobbly, single cut video using my phone and, it turned out quite nicely! And I ended up not showing off the room, but more my miniatures because they are looking, well, in focus!
I’m putting this video up for anyone who would like to see my collection. It’s like 10 minutes long so you certainly don’t have to watch all of it, and it turns out my voice can go a bit higher than I thought it could, but if you want to see all of my favourite minis from the last few years, you can see them all here. I’m also putting it up here because I want a record of it as it is now. Hopefully I’ll shoot another video in a few years and there’ll be more shelves and more minis I’m really proud of too.
Top 7 Observations when I watched this video back after uploading it:
“How and why is your voice going that high?!”
“You have way too many unfinished projects, dude”
“I wonder how much money I’ve spent on mi- lalalalalaicanthearyouiamnothtinkingaboutthatlalala…”
“How have you got a face for radio but a voice for mime artistry?”
“Like, way too many unfinished projects”
“You say ‘errrr’ way too much”
“Why is it flashing! What’s with the weird white flashes!?”
But there you have it! A 10 minute virtual tour of what I joking call the “Heresy & Heroes Studio” (if I can remember the damn name of my blog – good grief) and lots of fun minis to look at at. I even say “Onwards” at the end because that’s something I do.
Anyway, I’m off to go drink too much beer and enjoy my weekend – I hope you have similar or better plans too. Onwards (again)!
Well, every year over the 4 day Easter weekend, I like to take on a project that pushes my hobby chops, and this year was no different. So, I rummaged around in the Titan box, pulled out the head, and spent three days doing this:
Yes, I still own it. No, it’s not much closer to being done, except for this head. It’s taken days and to be honest, I just want to get outside and enjoy some sunshine right now (which is beating down on Nottingham despite the fact it was snowing earlier). But hey, technically, this is the first plate of armour I actually finished on the titan! So we’re still on for that 2024 finish.
The main image is of course still taken from The Triumph of Death by Pieter Bruegel (as are the other images). It features the King being shown his timer ticking down as a skeletal warrior steals his gold. All very apocryphal of course. It took ages and I’m quite happy with it. I don’t think it’s as good as the carapace piece, but it’s fine. Not bad for the effort spent. In terms of effort, after sketching it all out, this is what I got done in 1 hour:
So, yeah. It’s taken a few sessions. You can see above also the rough sketch that I set down on a lightish background with a pencil. And the other two illustrations were done in the same manor. On one side, we see skeletons hunting people near a beach, and on the other, a skeletal drummer drums as another pulls a man down to the pit below:
That’s me all hobbied out for the weekend. I want some beers and some nicotine and then I’m going to chill out and do as little as possible for a few hours. And hey, 2024 is closer than you think. Onwards
Well that was a lot of fun to work on! Adrax Agatone is the latest completed miniature to leave the production line at Chez John and I’m pretty happy about him. He’s not the best thing I’ve done, but I wanted to paint him as clean as possible. There is pretty much no weathering on this miniature and I’ve used the sculpted base that he comes with. All in all, not bad.
The green used in a mix of Moot Green and Caliban Green (50:50). Once a solid layer of that was down, I highlighted with thin glazes of Moot Green, with spot highlights of Moot Green and White Scar (50:50). I also used glazes of Caliban Green, and Caliban Green mixes with Abaddon Black (50:50) to emphasise the shadows. Finally, I applied a thinned glaze of Warp Lightning across all of the green. It was a long process but fun, and I’m really happy with the results.The bronze coloured metallics are a thin glaze of Guilliman Flesh over silvers. It worked ok, but I could have been more aggressive with that.
Oh, and of course the banner. It’s the only conversion, replacing the brazier that I can use for something else. By my standards, I’d probably give it a C+. Not my best work, but it was fun enough to do. The rest of the banner pole is a bit of a fail. My glazes didn’t blend on the shield at the top, the embossed effect on the ‘3’ isn’t great and it turns out the Salamander symbol is a bit of a pain to freehand first time.
I went with blues for the cloak to set it off a little differently. It worked well with the “Black” lava on the base (which is actually greys covered in a glaze of Guilliman Blue). Helped marry the mini to the base, while the green helped it to stand out. Also, as always with these posts, sorry for the photo quality. It’s crisp in places and a bit too dull in others. I’ll never learn at this point!
…not always in focus either. Anyway, what can I say about the miniature? It’s amazing. Seriously a joy to work on. All of the Primaris stuff is such a treat, but this character was just so crisp and lovely. He’s got a powerful stance, the flowing cape, his cool weapons… all great. If you fancy painting a Space Marine character, Adrax Agatone is worth your time. He’s also the first Salamander I’ve ever painted so that’s cool.
Yeah, that hammer is baller. A treat to work on too. And my personal favourite bit of my painting might just be the above shoulder pad. I felt that was the best colour shifting I did both on the greens and the metallics.
And why is he on a plinth? Well, I’m using plinths as a way to up my game – as a psychological trick. If I know I’m painting this to display, it means I need to bring my A game. It’s kind of nice that all of the recent display projects I’ve worked on I can say are the best miniatures I’ve done, and I can feel my painting game getting better, but it’s still daunting that I feel I have still such a way to go to get where I want to go. But hey, practice makes perfect, so in a few years, maybe I’ll be there.
So there you have it. We’re now into the four day weekend, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to get some more hobby done over the coming days. I will of course, keep you informed. Onwards.
A while back, I finished painting up my first ever Grot Tank, and I loved every second of it. One of the most joyous and characterful miniatures I’ve ever had the pleasure of painting. And while I could take you through all the mechanics of painting it (which could be interesting) I thought I’d do something different here. When you work on something this characterful, your brain starts building a story around it, and boy did my imagination run wild with this one.
So, enjoy some new photos of it, and, if you have the time, enjoy this short story of how, in universe, my grot tank came to be. Onwards.
Grobsnacka was dead. The whispers went round the mekshop like squig-mites through a sack of rusty gubbins. Grot after grot would whisper the words to their fellow workers as they moved guns and gears about the place to the instructions of Mek Zagsnapp. At one point, one slightly new and stupid grot whispered the words to Zagsnapp himself.
“Oo?” replied the Mek as he grabbed the grot who told him in one hand before launching him through the wall “Lissen ya runt, I dun’t giv a zog wot grot gon snuffed it. Get back to werk!”
Eventually, the news reached Ratsnot who was in the process of constructing some new and deadlier dakka spewing weapon that Zagsnapp had come up with. Ratsnot was a young grot, with eyes wider than most of his compatriots and a longer nose too. He had a knack at being cunning, but his dreams of worlds beyond his often lead to him daydreaming and this, in turn, often lead to a clout round the head from his boss.
“Grobsnacka snuffed it”
The words fell into his notched and slightly singed ears like clattering mallets. Not Grobsnacka, he thought. It’s impossible. The fiercest, most cunning grot he’d ever met? Dead? As he continued to hammer away his eyes glazed. Grobsnacka was a legend.
“Wot ‘bout da treasure?” he mumbled to the noisy shop around him.
He peered over in the direction of Zagsnapp who was now arguing with a Nob. The giant brute was gesticulating, though somewhat more slowly than he would have liked as the arms of his mega armour had malfunctioned. He’d normally be able to smash the feckless mek through the ceiling but Zagsnapp had been able to dodge several blows already due to the fact that each took at least 45 seconds to come anywhere near him.
Ratsnot tip-toed behind the Mek as he promised a brand new planet killing weapon to the somewhat animated monster in front of him. Ratsnot knew he had to get to Grobsnacka but leaving the shop before the boss said so was an offence punishable by being told to stand next to the malfunctioning (and suspiciously sentient) Shokk Attack Gun that hung on the wall at the back of the shop. The blasted thing had dined on several of his colleagues over the years. But Ratsnot was good at sneaking, and moved almost soundlessly from work bench to work bench, sometimes nonchalantly picking up a hammer and inspecting it thoughtfully. Unfortunately, he put so much into the craft of looking like he was working, he actually started to do some work on several occasions before remembering that he was trying to get to the squig-flap at the back of the shop.
By sheer luck, and after fixing two big shootas and painting a boss pole, he was within striking distance of the exit when a rather large hand grabbed him by the shoulders. The giant figure of Zagsnapp glared down at him, his gnarled face twisting around his cybernetic eyes that glowed a terrifying shade of bruied scarlet.
“An’ wot is uze doin, runt?”
“Errr… fetch gubbinz, boss?” he pointed to the big pile of said gubbinz not too far from him and grinned the grin of innocence that only the guilty can master.
The hand tightened around his shoulders and he was lifted up to eye-level with the monstrous Mek.
“If I wantz uze to get more gubbinz, I’ll tellz uze to get more gubbinz. I fink uze was bein’ a sneaky git. An’ we don’t like sneaky gitz ‘round ‘ere.”
All the gretchin in the workshop had stopped and were looking in terror as Ratsnot squirmed in Zagsnapp’s vice like grip, his eyes wide with panic.
“Err… boss?” he offered meekly
“Behind you, boss”
“You fink I’m fick, runt? I ain’t fallin’ for dat ol’ lugnut.” he snarled, as a thick, foamy spittle dribbled out from between his enormous fangs. “You fink I woz born tomorrow? I fink it’s da shokk attack gun for-“
Zagsnapp was now aware that he was in the very slow moving vice-like grip of the Nob who was still not particularly happy about his glacially moving mega armour. Slow as it was though, the giant claws it was fitted with still seemed to work well enough. The Mek had just enough time to turn and face his unhappy customer before the claws became a vice.
“Ere!” shouted Zagsnapp as he was lifted off his feet “I’ll build ya a big wagon! Or a stompa or summin’!”
“Maybe” offered the enraged (yet now quite entertained) Nob “You wanna fix dis soot, first, yeah”
“Yea! Of corze! Easy! But it’ll take a bit. Lots to do!”
“I dun’t wanna ‘ear ya excuses ya git!”
“Dey’s not excuses! Mega gubbinz is tricky! Like cunnin’ tricky an’ I gotta-“
It was at this point that both the Nob and the Mek turned to face the tiny grot that was still being held up by Zagsnapp. Ratsnot gulped as their menacing gazes bore into him. He had never been so far out of his depth and all three of them knew it. Then the two enormous orks glared at his finger that was pointing at a small red button on the side of the Nob’s neck plate.
What happened next could only have happened in an ork’s mekshop because only in said mekshop could the laws of physics be bent around the greenskins’ latent psychic ability with that much exposed wiring, weaponry and ammunition. It’s almost impossible to describe in full detail without having to lie down and assess one’s understanding of the universe. However there are some highlights that can be easily relayed, such as Ratsnot pushing the button on the Mega Armour. Then there’s the look of sheer panic on the face of the Mek who probably had more of an inkling than most about what was about to happen and why he was in the worst place possible in the history of anything ever. Shortly after this, there was a rush of steam and a very strange whirling crackling noise. Then the mega armoured Nob did a a leaping summersault against his will. The claw also closed before springing open at such a rate that the individual digits shot off the fist and lodged themselves in various things the shouldn’t ever have been ruptured in such a way. One activated the shokk attack gun which swallowed and then ejected two grots, a missile, several cases of ammo and some fuel. Another cliipped the wing of a bomma that hung from the ceiling and was shortly afterwards swinging around like a pendulum, crashing into anything and everything that went bang in the shop. Four squigs exploded. A bucket of highly prized purple paint fell onto three grots who were never seen again. A strange device the orks had nicked from another world opened and loads of little fiery daemons fell out of it before running amok. Half the roof fell in, and small fissure opened up in the floor that swallowed a deff dred.
Crucially though, as all of this mayhem began, Ratsnot was thrown through the wall and out into the street beyond. He picked himself up and watched in awe as the chaos began to ensue and while other orks ran toward the exploding shop, either looking for a fight or something to steal, Ratsnot ran off into the dusk.
Grot-town was a hovel in the least desirable part of the city. Tiny dwellings that were often sat on by orks who had nothing better to do were crumbling and cracked even before the brutes of the clan placed their backsides on them. Trash everywhere, which wasn’t even good enough to be useful or edible flew around on the winds, and smog from the mek shops choked the air. As Ratsnot scampered and scrambled through the quiet gutters, he could still hear the shop behind him exploding and falling over.
Eventually he reached the centre of the collective hovel and found the tiny hut he was looking for. He ran in under the scrap of fabric that served as a door and saw for himself. Laying on an old tire, lay the body of Grobsnacka. It was a shock to the young grot’s system. Gretchin didn’t die of old age. They got squished, eaten, smashed, exploded and dropped from large heights, but they didn’t die old, and by their standards, Grobsnacka was ancient. No-one knew exactly how old, by virtue of the fact that they didn’t really count much or have a way of measuring time, but everyone knew he was proper old.
Stood next to the old tire was Zitslapp, who had been Grobsnacka’s oldest friend (though still greatly his junior). He looked sadly over at Ratsnot who quietly shuffled into the dimly lit room.
“Snuffed it quiet. Never seen dat. Never wanna see dat again. Not rite. Just sorta snuffin’ it quiet an’ wivowt a scrap” offered Zitslapp
Ratsnot’s ears flattened and seldom has a grot ever looked so sad. His friend, and mentor, was indeed gone.
“Poor git” he offered. They both nodded. “Did he eva tell uze ‘bout da tre-“
Zitslapp’s hand covered Ratsnot’s mouth.
“Shut ya gob.” He looked around shiftily before adding “come wiv me”
They both took one last look at the grimly peaceful old grot before stepping out into the darkening streets.
Ten minutes later, after trying to look nonchalant again, they arrived at the back of a different Mek’s workshop. This one was thankfully not in-mid explosion and the sound of industry spilled out into the streets. Zitslapp went up to a piece of corrugated metal and began to undo one of the bolts that held it in place with a tiny, worn spanner. Ratsnot recognised the implement – it had belonged to Grobsnacka and the old ork had once told him that it only opened one sort of bolt in town, and that only one such bolt and spanner combo existed. As security went, this was almost worthy of legend in the ork community.
Eventually the nut fell to the floor and Zitslapp slid the panel aside smoothly, revealing a tiny space to squeeze into. The two grots only just fit themselves through but eventually they were inside the wall. And it was only seconds later they were falling, though not for very long. They landed in a dark basement beneath the shop above where they could hear the hammerings, shoutings and scurryings they were all too familiar with.
“Zog it’s dark.” muttered Ratsnot as he picked himself up off the floor.
“Dere’s a switch on da wall” came the voice of Zitslapp from the gloom. Both gretchin moved around the dark walls a minute or so before Ratsnot’s hand found a switch. He threw it and light burst into the basement. He turned around and when he realised what he was looking at, his fang filled jaw almost hit the floor.
“I fort it… wasn’t it… teef?” splutted the young grot. Zitslapp grinned.
“It was wunce. Den he spent da teef of gubbins and dakka and now…”
“‘As it got a name?”
“Yep. Grob’s Freedum”
The tank was beautiful. A riot in shades of golden yellow, a massive big shoota sticking out of its turret, and actual exhausts coming out of the back. There wasn’t even too much rust on the tracks. Ratsnot had never seen something so beautiful. This, this was freedom. This was respect. Even the Orks would have to stand aside for this thing. Life in the workshops was done, and now, they could finally join Da Waaaggh!
“We made it tugeva,” said Zitslapp, wiping a tear from his beady red eye “doin’ it for all my life pretty much. It woz ‘is idea. But it took so long. Da scrap just wernt dere for ages. Den wen we finished it, he sed ‘e woz too old. Wanted uze ta be part of da croo insted a him.”
“Croo?” said Ratsnot, still in a daze.
“Yep. I do da drivin’, an uze do da dakka and da pointin’. Wot yu finkin’? Up for it?”
Boss Mek Slugsmash was only vaguely aware of the rumble beneath his feet but this was his mekshop and if something was rumbling it was obviously because he’d told the runts to make something rumble, even if he didn’t remember doing so. It was only when the shooting started and all the grots legged it that he became more interested. He stood up upon his creaking bionic legs and stomped towards the noise, picking up his big choppa from a work bench as he went. Then the back wall of his workshop fell over. When the rubble and dust cleared, he looked over and saw, driving away from his shop, a grot tank rumbling away in the distance. He could make out, through the smoking trail it was leaving behind it, a small grot, wearing a hat, waving and pointing at the throng of grots who were cheering them on.
Stupid (yet entirely necessary and sensible) lockdown. There’s a brand new edition of Blood Bowl launched and I haven’t played a single darn game of it. Those nights, sat in Bugmans, enjoying some beers as my orcs were demolished by, well, pretty much everyone, were great fun. We will get there again. But, this break has meant that I’ve got time to work on a brand new team. However (boy, this opening paragraph has a lot of twists!) the team that I wanted to work on has spent a lot of time out of stock. I’m talking about the magnificent little Snotling team, who I think are just great. I know I’m unlikely to win a game with them, but I struggle to win with top tier teams, so I figure if I’m going to lose, I may as well have a lot of fun doing so.
Like I said, the Snotling team have been out of stock for a while, and a little while back, I posted the above on Twitter, mentioning that I would reveal what it as all about. I can tell you now – I’m working on a Chaos Familiars Blood Bowl team. Here’s a few more of them:
Well, I had the minis. Most of them anyway, and it only took three ebay purchases to bring me up to 12 tiny dudes. Why 12? Well, because I’m going to be basing the way these guys play on the Snotling team and trust me, with the amount of dead snots you end up with on these super stunty teams, you’re going to want plenty of subs (especially as you can also swarm the opposing team with them when the ref’s back is turned). Anyway, these are the three retro dudes I picked up:
So, I had the basis of my team, but not all snotlings are created equal. As well as your bottom-of-the-bog standard linemen, there are Fungas Flingas (who essentially throw mushrooms like bombs at the enemy), Stilty Runnas (who have a little more speed due to the fact they’re on stilts) and Fun Hoppas (who, despite sounding like some sort of marital aid, bounce around on Squigs). These are pretty useful to have at your disposal in a team that needs every bit of help it can get, so I wanted to make sure my little weirdos had the same access to these types of players. Obviously though, I couldn’t mount any on squigs, and mushrooms, while kind-of witchy, aren’t really chaosy, so it was time to get the brain bubbling, and crack open the greenstuff.
Fun Hoppas were pretty easy. I wanted to give them wings, but not big wings that implied flight was possible, but more vestigial wings that with some frantic beating, might carry them off the ground for a step or two. I used the wings from the Graveguard banner pole on the tiny skeleton chap, and I used plasticard to fashion some small dragonfly like wings for the daemonette (who I also gave some clothes – because it’s 2021, and far more practical for Blood Bowl besides).
Fungus Flingas throw bombs, so I just went with old-school cartoon-inspired round bombs with fuses. I piled up the round balls on the bases, glued on the fuse holes, and then finally the flimsy little fuses. All made from green stuff, and I’ve given these to the two most wizardy looking guys. It’s important in a game of blood bowl for your opponent (and for you) to easily work out which player on the team does what, and both the wings and bombs should do this pretty well.
The brainwave for the Stilty Runnas though is what I’m most proud of. I thought about making stilts but that just didn’t seem right for familiars. And then it hit me. Tiny Balewind Vortices. It will elevate them (like the stilts) and you could see these little dirt devils zooming around the pitch too. A twist of greenstuff and an eight pointed star from one of the Chaos vehicle kits, and there you go! I’d also suggest running a pin through these – I didn’t and they feel mega flimsy so I’m just waiting for them to topple over.
Here’s a close up of some of my favourite paint jobs. I’ve completed six so far, so we’re half way through the little guys!
The bases are representative of a lava-field – probably one of the few sorts of “fields” that are available to play on in the Chaos Wastes. The cracks represent the lines on the pitch, and the height of them help to make these teeny-weeny familars stand up a little taller (making them easier to see and pick up during the game). And you can learn how to create them in yesterday’s post!
There’s a lot more to come though. Along with the six more familiars, you’ll be aware that Snotling teams also get access to a couple of tamed trolls and, of course, the infamous Snotling Pump Wagon (again, two of them). I’ve got ideas for these but I’ll keep that to myself for just a little while longer – they should be a lot of fun though. But I can show you their manager:
So that’s one of the fun little projects I’ve got on. I’ll keep you posted with any more news. Fingers crossed, by the time we’re allowed to play Blood Bowl in Bugmans again, I’ll have a brand new team to enjoy. Until then, onwards!
I love painting freehand designs on my miniatures and over the years, this has earned me a great many compliments. In fact, between you and me, dear reader, I sometimes repost photos of some of my freehand works to social media just to get the endorphin hit that comes with everyone telling me how wonderful I am. Even my ego needs stroking sometimes.
I often get comments along the lines of “I could never do that!” or “how is that even possible!?” and those too are wonderful stroking hands to my purring ego, but I wanted to write this post because I think anyone can do freehand and I want to help you and everyone else, if I can, to gain the confidence and skills to have a go. You should never feel you can’t do something, but we all need a bit of advice and help, and with that, you can do anything. I promise you, it’s not as tricky as you think it might be. So, as is tradition around these parts, I’ve done a nice list of things to consider and remember should you want to give freehand miniature painting a go yourself. Let’s dive in, starting with a cliche so old, I’m pretty sure it was scrawled under the artwork of mammoths in those caves in France…
Practice makes Perfect
Or at least, practice makes very good, and very good is usually good enough for even the goodest of painters. If you’ve never tried painting freehand on a miniature with acrylic paints before, I’ve got a friendly warning for you; your first attempt is probably going to suck. Mine did. Most people’s first attempts at almost anything in life suck. Sure, there are those freakish naturals (lucky bastards) who can get it right first time but those folk are as rare as a thing that is very rare (like a charismatic Ultramarine). Remember the wisest words Bob Ross ever spoke – “Talent is a pursued interest”.
Take my Mortifactors as an example. I painted 100+ skulls for that army because, much to my shock and dismay, the one thing Games Workshop hasn’t made with a skull on it is a Space Marine shoulder pad (no, Silver Skulls ones don’t count). And the difference between the first skull I painted and the last is huge. But I couldn’t have painted that last one, without painting the first one and then the 99+ that followed. You have to put the time in and practice. Just being able to get the feeling for how the brush moves, how the paint sits and builds, and how to bring what you imagine to life is a huge and vitally important part of this aspect of painting, and for the overwhelming majority of us, we need to put in that time. Rome wasn’t painted in a day. But where to start?
Where To Start
How’s that for foreshadowing? Start with the basics. Yes, you could just paint that chainsword red, but why not try giving it hazard stripes? Sure, that banner pole could just be yellow, but why not do black and white checks? Basic patterns (squares, triangles, lines…) are a great way to learn that brush control, and they can help set miniatures apart. Being able to just paint a straight line with your brush is a serious skill to develop and it’s crucial if you then want to go on to attempt more complex shapes.
Even leopard-print, which has garnered me much praise over the years, is far simpler than you think. In its basic form, it’s three steps: Paint the light brown fur underneath, then paint the little dark brown sort-of-circles, then put a dot of shade inside those circles and you’re done! But practicing techniques like this help you to gain brush control, and to think of your miniature, or a part of your miniature, as a canvas. And once you’ve got the basics down, you can push on from there. No one’s asking you to jump a hurdle from a standing start – that’s what the run up is for.
Also, I bet your bits box is full of shoulder pads, swords, vehicle doors… all of these are great for practice. If you don’t feel you can risk doing it on the miniature you’re working on yet, get something out and just practice on those and get comfortable. My bits box (well, technically, I have four bits boxes, a bits tub and a bits… crate (I may have a problem)) is full of half painted things that were used to test theories.
Remember Your Friends
We all need things that make our lives easier, and there are thankfully a couple of tricks we can perform when freehand painting that give us a cushion, while forgiving us our occasional painting sins. Weathering is a big one. My hazard stripes aren’t always straight, or evenly spaced. My checks aren’t always square. So scuff them up! Get them as good as you can get them and then add scratches and scuffs, patches of mud, blood, verdigris and rust. Especially when you’re learning, you want to be proud of your efforts and when you do this, yourself and others are less likely to notice the little follies and foibles, and you can be happier with the results too. Then one day you’ll get that really satisfying moment when you don’t want to weather any of it because it looks so pretty – that’s a great day. 🙂
When you’re painting more complex pieces, remember the art of washing and glazing. Every time I attempt something big, I will, at some point, make a transition between two shades that is too harsh. I’ll try and blend it out to correct it, but sometimes, especially when you’re working with minute amounts of paint that dry in seconds, this isn’t always possible. Do your best here, but when the job is finished, remember that you can dull the whole piece down to bring it all together and hide some of those transitions by applying a sympathetic glaze over the top of the artwork. A couple of thinned and evenly spread layers of Seraphim Sepia or Skeleton Horde are great for pieces that are meant to look older, but pick the colours that suit you and what you’re working on.
Tips For Complex Pieces
When it gets to the really complex things, I’m not sure there’s a formula that I can give you. You have to put in the work and work out what works best for you, but I can give you a few tips that worked for me. First off, work from dark to light. I often start most of my miniature painting at or around the mid-tone, but for freehand, I start dark and build to the light. This allows me to more easily frame the lighter areas and bring them up in tone – it’s like drawing all the outlines first and then colouring in. It also helps me to understand what things need to be what shade (“so in the [hypothetical] photo, that hat is darker than that coat so I’ll remember that as I’m building the colours”) and work towards what I know are the lightest tones I have.
Start off with those basic shapes you’re familiar with. Don’t try and paint a space marine. Paint the cylinders and rectangles that make him up first, and then, as you add highlights, keep reducing those shapes so that eventually they will start to look like a space marine. And don’t be discouraged when you look at it half way through and think “well this looks crap”. These things often do at that stage – it’s like seeing a half built house and thinking “well it’s not how the finished project was supposed to look”. Of course it doesn’t! Keep going and only judge it later when it’s very nearly done – this will give you the chance to make any fixes you need to make. And when you do judge it, be kind to yourself; we’re all learning this all the time.
Lastly, it’s worth remembering that patience is a virtue. It can take multiple days to get the image right, so don’t expect to do an hours work and then have a masterpiece on your hands. You need to put a shift in. A long shift. But it will be worth it. And honestly, between the peaceful therapeutic hours of painting, and the joyous payoff at the end, it’s just wonderful.
Like I said, I love the compliments I get for my work, but there are a lot of miniature painters who do it a lot lot better than I do. Check out the work by Richard Gray which has been blowing my mind for years. or if you want to see a top miniature painter do some amazing freehand in a video, Sam Lenz has some sweet stuff on his channel. If those guys intimidate you (and they shouldn’t because they’re both lovely, helpful people) maybe take a look at some of the more introductory freehand that Pete The Wargamer puts out into some of his excellent tutorials – Pete is great at giving simple advice that helps so many hobbyists (and, by the way, also a lovely human). There’s so much out there to be inspired by in mini painting, but it’s also worth looking at artists and illustrators that work in 2D as well. Maybe you’ll find the piece you want to recreate on that space marine’s cloak out there!
I hope this has been useful. You’re more than welcome to keep telling me I’m amazing – I won’t hold it against you. But I’m kind of hoping that one day I’ll be looking at your elaborate, perfectly executed freehand and telling you that my mind is blown. Of course if you then want to tell me that this article helped in some small way, leave a comment down below, then we both get an ego massage so that’s great all round. If you choose to take on the freehand challenge, I wish you luck, I hope you enjoy yourself, and I look forward to seeing your wonderful creations soon. Oh, and if you have any questions about the subject, find me on twitter or leave a comment below – I’ll do my best to help you out. Onwards!