Friday, 1 January 2016

Deadcember 2015

December 2015 has been a horible month for me and my family. Infact it has been going on longer than that, starting with a trip to hospital for our youngest with what turned out to be a fractured leg, and two weeks in plaster to recover, followed by what seemed like endless bugs and viruses brought back by our plague carrying children from the giant petri dish that is their nursery. We've seen Hand, Foot, and Mouth (and no, that isn't the thing that cows get), tonsillitis (for both my wife and I), ear infections and perforated eardrums, suspected upper respriatory tract infections, tracheaitis (my wife again), and 6 weeks of post viral fatigue for all four of us. The extra workload and chronic lack of sleep have nearly killed me and my wife. We have truly been blessed by papa Nurgle this Christmas.

Appropriately then, one of the many uses I intend for the skeleton warriors (the last 8 to survive from the classic Skeleton Horde box set I was bought in 1991 - I had the Skeleton Army box too, but sadly only one partial skeletal horse remains, destined to be used as basing fodder at some point in the future) I chose to paint up for Oldhammer Deadcember will be as allies for an RoC Nurgle Warband (eventually). 

Here they are in undercoat of black and base coat of Citadel Bestial Brown for the bone. I've seen reasonable results from peopel who have undercoated in Bone colour and shaded and inked down, but I've seen much better results from those who have started dark and worked up, so that was definitley the approach I was going to take.

Eight Oldhammer Skeleton Warriors led by a Skeleton Champion

Primarily though, they are going to be used in my D&D campaign as much as they will in WHFB 4th and 3rd editions, and also now in Frostgrave after I bought myself the rules as a late Christmas present (more on that in a future post). It was with my D&D campaign in mind that I also started painting 3 likely lads from the 1991 Ral Partha AD&D Ravenloft Denizens box set. They are 25mm scale, but I don't mind mixing up the scales in my D&D games, as charater size is much more variable in D&D and different scale minis can actually help establish that, or can help distinguish between subtly different races like humans and half elves for example. Anyway, I have plans for all three of these guys, though not in their original guises as (from the left) Count Strahd Vin Zarovich, Azalin, and Lord Soth (who is typically in a strop and has turned his back on the camera), and was intending to use them as a study in how to paint black in a variety of different ways. This is still a work in progress as I've done very little more than think further about different approaches for the trhee models. I'll provide an update on these at some point.

Strahd, Azalin, and Soth - three worthy entrants for Deadcember if my painting schedule hadn't been so badly sabotaged by the Plague Lord.
As I mentioned, I wanted to start with a dark base, build up the highlight nad then take it right back down again with inks and washes, before coming back up to the final bone colour. After the Bestial Brown I jumped straight to Bleached Bone. I'm sure others more expert than I would have gone for a more gradiated approach, but I was both pressed for time and wanted quite a stark contrast between light and shadow for the next stage.

Two skeletons with base coat and first highlight, waiting for inks. Note the 4th Edition High Elf Silverhelm Knights lurking in the back ground, hoping to be ready in time for the next week night WHFB battle with AVP Shaun.
I used Army Painter inks, or tones as they call them, for the next stage. First a wash of Strong Tone (dark brown) on all exposed bone and recesses, then once that had dried properly I used Green Tone (mid green), focussing on the exposed bone work to give a feeling of verdigris to the bones for that 'just crawled out of the grave' look that is de rigueur for Deadcember. I then dry brushed in bleached bone, and went back with some simple highlights in the same colour. Once the skeletons themselves were largely done I brought the rest of the models up to base colours only - bestial brown for all wood and leather, chainmail for all metal, then washed all of those areas with Dark Tone (watered down black ink). I also gave the bases a thick coat of Citadel Shadow Grey (more on bases below).

Skeleton champion from the iconic Nightmare Legion - a recent acquisiton via a fellow Oldhammerer. Sadly I don't own any of the rest of this Regiment of Renown, they are on my shopping list along with a hundred other things though.
The champion received more attention, as he has far more detail, but the process was exactly the same. I've seen several people use various purples to great effect on their undead recently, but I had a strong idea about the spot colour I wanted to use for these models, and the champion's cape would be the focal point for this. However, the Hawk Turquoise I wanted to use as a base was in one of the mid-late 2000s pots (black hard plastic flip lid, not as bad as the hex screw caps from a few years before, but still rubbish) so the paint had dried up. Luckily I was able to rescue it with some water and a cocktail stick. I think the cold blue green gives a real sense of cold etherealness.
A better view of the cloak and the resurrected Hawk Turquoise spot colour on the Champion.
I brought the colour down with citadel armour wash (the stage shown in the picture above), then added highlights again with the base colour. I thought about going lighter, but decided that would probably not work with the overall dingy look I was going for, so I stopped there.
The unit assembled. Annoyingly, with 9 minis they dont really form up well into a unit at the moment. I'll look to add a standard bearer, musician, and additional warrior to make the unit two ranks of six in time.
A note on bases. This is a lasting area of weakness/laziness in my modelling and for the most part I only ever paint my bases in a base colour to show consistency within a unit or force. I am sadly new to the old adage of 'bases and faces' - previoulsy happy only to achieve a fully covered model. Bases are something I plan to work on in 2016, but for now I've been sticking to painted bases. I have developed a few staples in this regard however, and the grey flag stone is one I find really useful as nearly all of my models have to do at least double duty in Warhammer and Dungeons and Dragons. Now that Frostgrave also has to be considered (especially for undead) it becomes a very utilitarian option, but also one that I won't hesitate to cover over at some point in the future if the notion strikes me. So, over the base coat of Shadow Grey I paint some very shaky lines in a rough flagstone pattern. Each one is done seperately without any attempt for them to line up, that would just be a pain in the arse if you felt they had to be lined up in a particular way. Then comes a generous wash of black ink to blend the two previous elements and give a dirty dungeon floor look. It won't win any prizes, but it serves a multitude of purposes, and helps keep the overall cold look I was hoping for.
A close up of the Champion. Note the amazing attention to detail in the sculpt - the belt buckle not only has a pin, but the belt itself has tiny little holes. Incredible!

Close up of the back of the champion to show detail of the tattered cape, the poor lighting washes out some of the colour though.
  Here you can see the highlights to the Champion's cape, and the detail at the back.

The champion with two undead cronies. The skeletal cat is a newish sculpt from Darksword Miniatures in the states. The little fella on the right is (I have assumed) pre-slotta citadel of some description, has a bit of a LOTR feel to it.
The other two minis in the picture above have been included to show how even the very simple basing can help pull them all together, and to show the difference between the alternative of a lighter base colour and brown ink wash on the skeletal cat (which looks mummified in comparison) and the method used on the skelton warriors. The pre-slotta model on the right shows my first ever attempt at Object Sourced Lighting (OSL) - very basic, and this photo does it no favours, but it is remarkably effective and something I'll be experimenting with further. Both of these little critters have futures in D&D and Frostgrave!

The warriors formed up into ranks.
It was only when I looked at this photo that I realised I'd made a mess of the right eye of the spear wielding skeleton on the far left. Doh! I've also noticed the bone hilt of the Champion's falchion needs a bleached bone highlight, which I'l have to sort out ASAP or I'l forget. I used the spot colour of Hawk Turquoise in the eye socket, followed with a point of Elf Grey (still not wanting to have any bright white on the finsihed model) in the, ahem, centre. I'll be honest and say that I regret this as I prefered how they looked with dark empty sockets before I added this step. However, it does tie them in with the Champion, and on a couple of them it worked out pretty well. The other option would have been to use the spot colour on the rims of the shields, but I felt this wouldn't really work for all there future purposes (altghough would be great for WHFB).

What are you looking at?
While we are talking about shields, one of them is missing his. At least half of these guys had the shields with spiky boss already welded to their arms. I had to scramble a few more together, and before the Nightmare Legion Chapion arrived I was planning to make one of them the unit leader with my last remaining Undead Cavalry shield and a very rough attempt at a freehand lightning strike design. The least said about that the better. I need to reread Orlygg's excellent tutorial another few dozen times. Anyway, once the boss had arrived it made more sense to leave one off and hope a matching shield turns up.

Oldhammer Skeleton Warriors and Champion
This was my first time participating in one of the Oldhammer Community's theme months and I've really enjoyed it. Orctober came a little too early for me, even though I was painting Orcs at the time, I wasn't blogging yet. I've made sure to use the motivation to finish something I'd been thinking about, and will be useful, but would not otherwise get painted. I've already got similar plans for Slannuary!

Mixed undead group shot

Many thanks for visiting. If anyone can help identify the little wraith chap then please leave a comment!

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