Wednesday, 10 August 2016

A tale of 18 paints


Well, it has been a while hasn't it? That is not to say that I haven't been busy painting; in December 2014 I went back home to the UK and, when packing to return to Japan, I put eleven Lord of the Rings models within my suitcase. With my Warmaster Ancient Japanese project closed (due to having no momentum to actually finish the army), I have found myself painting these eleven Lord of the Rings models and, actually, I have quite enjoyed it.

The models in question have been the Fellowship (bar Legolas and Gandalf as I had already finished these two models when I was back in the UK .... bases now need redoing to match the ones I have painted here in Japan), Bilbo, Gollum and two Nazgul. All of these models are, basically, individual characters and therefore have had to be painted up as such. This led to a problem as here, in Japan, I only have eighteen different paints...

What I thought would be an absolute nightmare turned out to be a lot of fun. Given the choice, I would still prefer to have hundreds of different coloured paints however, having such a limited choice gave me the opportunity to play around with what paints to use as possible highlights. Usually, I just mix a bit of white with the original colour and hey-presto, a highlight colour. Now, in order to achieve as many different shades of the same colour as possible, I have highlighted with Bleached Bone and even Elf Flesh; which has given some really interesting results though, don't take my word for it ... please see below:

'So what is next?' I hear you say. Well GW does have stores in Japan and so I can place an order online (as my closest store is 500km away). I might order another seven Nazgul to finish them off however, they won't take long to paint (it is just black). After that ... I actually have no idea.

Toodle Pip!

Monday, 14 September 2015

Having a 'gaming reason' to paint holds more weight than cultural references

Yesterday, I managed to finish the final 'rear rank' Yashigaru model for my 15mm historical Samurai army.

June 2013 ... June 2013 was when I started to paint these models and now, twenty-seven months later, I find that only seventy-seven models have been completed. 

I could make all sorts of excuses:

- I was busy. 
- I only plan on living in Japan for a couple of years therefore, I've made the most of my time 'experiencing' this wonderful country. 

Sadly, there is only one real reason. When I embarked on this project, I'd hoped that living in the same country as where the army is from, might entice me to paint the army at a decent speed. You will notice that my Yashigaru's armour is blue; the colour of the 'Date warlord' who's capital was based within the prefecture I live in. In truth no amount of films, books and sightseeing trips to old Japanese castles kept me motivated enough to paint seventy-seven models a year, let alone my initial target of seventy-seven models a month! I have come to the conclusion that, for me, there really is no replacement for an arranged game - or a tournament - to keep me motivated.

That is not to say that I haven't enjoyed my time painting these models. Due to the fact that I've only painted these models when I've actually wanted to paint them, has meant that I have really enjoyed it. What I haven't enjoyed is watching my painting pile decrease at a pitifully slow rate.

Due to not having any games lined up, these aren't the only models that I have been painting. In December 2014, I went home to the UK. Once at home, I rummaged around and found some old Lord of the Rings models which I decided to take back to Japan with me. 'Maybe it's the scale which is the problem' I thought to myself however, even these 25mm models have taken me a long time to finish.

These Nazgul required very little effort. Black, followed by a thick black wash pretty much finished them.

In real life, my Gollum model does look better than this photo indicates. Again it wasn't a hard model to paint and yet, it took me a while.

Just a quick note; Boromir isn't finished. 

Another problem I've encountered is that, my 'local hobby store' is over two hundred miles south. This has meant that I am restricted to the paints which I bought for my Yashigaru. Not wanting all members of the Fellowship to have brown clothing, I am currently in the process of highlighting Boromir's clothes all the way to a cream colour. It has actually been quite fun trying to get the maximum amount of colours from such a small collection of paints.

Well that's it for this update; a pitiful amount considering the length of time since my last. I need to go out and buy some super glue (the pot I bought twenty-seven months ago has dried up) so that I can stick the rear Yashigaru to their proper bases (five to a base). I can then undercoat the 'front line Yashigaru' models and get them ready for painting.

See you in December 2017! 

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Games Workshop's Fine Cast range

I know that I'm 'a bit late to the party', in regards to investing in Games Workshop's Fine Cast range of models however, I've got quite a few good reasons for this. I'm trying to keep this post on topic so, I'll be brief and say that the cost of the models, initial problems with casting and the fact that, out of the last five years I've only been living in the UK for one of them, has meant that only now, 1st February 2014 (I know this blog was uploaded in August however, the model is a present for someone and I didn't want them to see it before their birthday), have I actually had the experience of purchasing, assembling and painting a Fine Cast model. So what did I think...


A rather short segment however, a pretty important one for most people. A couple of things have put me off investing in any Games Workshop model for a while know. I still believe that their range of models are the best however, there have been a few things the company has done which has annoyed me. First of all, it would appear that army and rulebooks are being designed by accountants more than games designers; I haven't played a game of Warhammer (be that fantasy or 40k) for ages however, from what I've seen the model count on the board keeps getting higher whereas the quality of the rules keeps getting worse. The last time I watched a game of fantasy it looked as though the 'model count' was on a parr with my Warmaster army. If I wanted to play with huge armies, then I'll play either EPIC or Warmaster; the reason why I liked 40k and Fantasy is that it filled that gap between a skirmish game and a 6mm 'army fest' perfectly. It felt as though you were bringing an army to the table however, each model counted. As I continue to try and improve my painting, I found myself unable to paint an army (which worked with the new rules) in less than six months which, kind of put me off before even starting.

Secondly, a long time ago the company put up the prices of all their stuff significantly stating that metal (at the time they used something called 'white metal') was increasing in price and so, their product had to go up in price too. This was fine … until they moved away from metal and created their whole range in resin (which costs nothing) and still the prices are climbing. Whereas before I could get a unit of models for £15.00, I am now struggling to purchase two models for that price. Games Workshop said that the price now reflected their products superb quality; which brings me onto point three.

When the range first came out, there were quite a few complains over the quality (due to a lot of miscasts). Along with the price tag this did put me off some what however, in December 2014 I found myself looking through the racks of Fine Cast models within my local Games Workshop store, trying to find a good – put not too expensive – model to test and give away as a present. I purchased the below Eldar Farceer … which cost £12!


Once out of the plastic packaging (which took some time and some choice words I can tell you) I looked at the sprue crying at just how little I got for my pound. On further inspection the quality of the cast was excellent. Once more, the model fit together superbly and was quite easy to assemble. I was still annoyed that, for £12, there were still some mould lines however, it didn't take long to get rid of them. I also noticed that quite a lot of thought had gone into the model itself; in previous days additional detail meant 'hard to reach' areas with the brush however, with this model, there was a lot of detail and all of it was accessible … even the ruined stone base the model stood on. Even with all of this accessibility, the model was still correct proportionally and still looked as though it could 'kick ass'.


Though I do use a few paints from other companies, most of my paints are from Games Workshop because, I believe, that they are the best. Recently, a lot of work has gone into their paint range and the result is quite incredible. Not only does Games Workshop's paint system of 'base', 'layer', 'ink' etc work excellently but it actually makes painting a very beautiful model rather easy. So too does the Fine Cast model itself with it's beautiful sooth surfaces; it's as if the paint glides on and, as I said above, thought has gone into the model in regards to painting it, making it easier still.

Overall Verdict

On the whole these models are excellent. I truly believe that they are the best in the world and, if you love painting, then you will enjoy painting these. They seem to make for great little projects and possible 'works of art' for your study or house.

If you are looking at playing Warhammer Fantasy or 40k, at 1,000 points or below, then both on your time and budget constraints these models will allow you to field a truly impressive force however; most people like to play Warhammer Fantasy or 40k at much higher point levels and, if you are like me, you know that you cannot give the time these models deserve. If this is the case – and you are playing with your mates – then I would recommend purchasing cheaper models from other companies (and there are some truly brilliant models out there) and maybe getting your heroes from Games Workshop. I do truly believe that if you don't have the time to do these models justice, then the ridiculously high price is just not worth it.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

How to paint 10mm Yashigaru

Okay; so I've finished another two Yashigaru (getting through them). With their completion I decided, before I go any further, to write down how I'm going to paint this historic samurai army. To start with, below is a list of items you will need if you decide to copy my design:


1x very thin brush
1x slightly thicker brush
1/2x files
1x pair of clippers
50x small bases (I got mine from here)
A lot x blue, or white tac

Paints - (all paints are from Games Workshop)

1x Nuln Oil*
1x kantor blue
1x Steel Legion drab
1x Eshin grey
1x Ratskin flesh
1x Abaddon black*
1x Agrax earthshade*
1x Aldorf guard blue
1x White scar*
1x Balor brown
1x The fang
1x Kislev flesh
1x Leadbelcher
1x Ironbreaker
1x Rungfang steel

*If you have a lot of samurai to paint I recommend getting two pots of these colours.

Stage 1

Objective: The objective of this stage is to give the model an undercoat.

Stage 1.1 - Cover the entire model in Nuln oil. I use a 'shade' as it covers well enough and, because the paint is so thin, there is no threat of loss to the detail of the model.

Stage 2

Objective: The objective here is to cover the entire model in it's 'base' colours leaving no 'raw metal' showing. Throughout this process I'm was always 'touching up' base colours I've already painted, with the end result of having the entire model covered in a 'coloured paint'.

Stage 2.1 / 2.2 / 2.3 - I always start with the largest colour, on the model, and finish with the smallest. For the Yashigaru, blue is most prominent colour and so I applied a slightly watered down layer of Kantor blue making sure that all of the models armor - plus banner - was fully covered with no metal showing. Next I moved onto the wood, using a slightly watered down layer of Steel legion drab as the base colour before painting the models few areas of cloth with a slightly watered down layer of Eshin grey.

Stage 2.4 - Next up was the skin. When viewing, most people are drawn to the face, of any model, and so making sure a models flesh is well paint is of the up-most importance. I applied a slightly watered down layer of Ratskin flesh making sure that it covered all of the skin areas (don't forget the hands!).

Stage 2.5 - Finally paint all of the models metal with Abaddon black. Do not water this down as it has to be very strong.

Stage 3

Objective: To add 'depth' to the model it's important to add a shade or two. This will darken the shadows and highlight the raised areas with very little work for you. On models 25mm and upwards you will probably use a whole array of 'shades'; one probably for every colour. On a model of this size that isn't needed and a 'shade' that complements all colours should be chosen.

Stage 3.1 - Using the larger of my two brushes I applied a generous layer of Agrax Earthshade. I love this shade; it gives your models a very realistic 'dirty look' and I use it on almost everything. TOP TIP: If you find the shade gathering in a certain area wash, and dry, your brush and apply it to that area; the dry brush will soak up any excess paint and leave your model with just enough 'shade' to do the job without loosing detail.

Stage 4

Objective: This is the final stage of painting these models and this stage is all about adding 'highlights' to raised areas. For cloth and armor (i.e. bits of the model which are uneven) this stage is easy as a quick 'drybrush' will do the job (with 25mm models you have to be a bit more careful but with 10mm, it's not a problem). For plate armor and staffs (i.e. bits of the model which are flat and smooth) a lighter version of the base colour should do the trick.

Stage 4.1 - Highlight the blue armor and flag - using the drybrush method for the armor, and painting the flag with light coats of blue paint - with Kantor blue. Then highlight again with Aldorf guard blue and finally add a third highlight by mixing (50/50) Aldorf guard blue with White scar.

Stage 4.2 - Highlight the wood - by painting the wood with light coats of brown paint - with Steel legion drab. Then highlight it (50/50) Steel legion drab with Balor brown.

Stage 4.3 - Highlight the grey cloth - by painting the cloth with light coats of grey paint - with Eshin grey. Then highlight again with The fang before finally adding a third highlight by mixing (50/50) The fang with White scar.

Stage 4.4 - Highlight the skin - by painting the skin with light coats of skin coloured paint - with Ratskin flesh. Then highlight again with a mix (50/50) of Ratskin flesh and Kislev flesh before finally adding a light drybrush of Kislev flesh.

Stage 4.5 - Paint the black with Leadbelcher sliver before giving it a coat of Nuln oil.

Stage 4.6 - Once dry repaint the area with Leadbelcher, before painting the area with Ironbreaker. Finally add a light drybrush of Runfang steel.

And there you go! Two Yashigaru ready for the battlefield!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

2 Yashigaru done .... 3,682 to go!

Considering that these are the first two models I've painted in over a year, I think they have come out rather well.

They didn't take to long either; to get the two from a black undercoat to this stage took about two hours. I really like the blue armour. It may not be 'historically correct', but it's the colour of my Samurai army in 'Total War: Shogun 2' and so I'm sticking to it.

I would be more 'overjoyed' at completing my first two models but, looking at the pile of unpainted led to my right, the celebrations are on hold until at least a few more are finished.

I hope to put up a painting guide in the 'not too distant future' but until then...


Sunday, 26 May 2013

You may not see many changes; but work has been completed

Slightly over a month from my previous post and my Samurai army now looks like this:

Now; to the 'untrained eye' this photo looks remarkably similar to the last one. To the 'newbie' out there, it looks as though I've been slacking ...

... but I haven't (well, not as much as you think). Even though all the models are back in their plastic bags, they have all had the 'flash' removed from them; either by pincer or by file (not sure which one sounds worse). I have to say that the new Games Workshop 'emery board' things are rubbish. Difficult to hold, they felt as though they were loosing their ability to 'file' after about ten models. Unfortunately in Japan, model supplies are difficult to come by and so I might be purchasing them again; but I will be wishing for my old files (which I bought from GW years ago and are still fine and are easier to hold) when I do.

Within those bags are over three hundred 10mm models and it has taken all of my patience to sit, and file, them one-by-one. I had to remind myself - on many occasions - just how important this phase is. I know all to well that, if the 'cleaning up' phase is rushed, it will have a horrible unchangeable effect on the final piece. I therefore stuck to it and finally finished cleaning the last Samurai this afternoon.

Now; when I ordered this army I ordered bases as well. When the bases arrived they were way to small (not sure who's fault it was; mine or the company. It didn't matter; the bases weren't expensive and so I placed an order for the right size the day I discovered my error) but, as it happens, they have come in rather useful. 

Once finished, the 10mm infantry will stand ten to a 40mm x 20mm base (in two lines of five). Normally I would glue the models on their bases before painting them however, if I did that, it would be very difficult to paint them (each model would be too close to the other). Therefore, I have used these smaller bases and 'blue-taced' 75 Ashigaru '2 to a base':

This should give me ample room to paint each model before transferring them to their final resting place.

Finally, after 14 months a paint brush will soon be in my hands.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

It's been a while...

Well, where has the last year gone?

Actually I can answer the above question. In March 2012 I moved to Japan to teach English; and I am still here. Yes indeedy with arriving in a new country, setting up my apartment, traveling around Japan and ... err ... oh yes, working, I've had little time to pursue this hobby of mine. 

Until now.

I finished my first year at school last month and with the ability of recycling my lesson plans from last year, to this year (plus completing setting up my apartment), I now not only find myself with time to starting painting a new army, but in fact I need to start the hobby again so that I don't spend all of my free time watching films and eating chocolate. Therefore, on a Saturday afternoon in mid-February, I preempted this 'new year lack of activities' when I emailed my parents (who, by the way, came over to see me last month) with a list of items I wanted from the UK. Within that list was an 1,000pt army ...

... but a 1,000pts of what?

Firstly, GW models were out as they are extremely expensive; secondly, I wanted to do something in connection to where I am currently located. It therefore didn't take me long to realise that a samurai army was for me. The scale was an easy choice too; 10mm models from magister militumn are the perfect size for Warmaster ancients. Warmaster ancients; I've had the rulebook on my shelf for quite a while. I've read countless excellent reviews about the game and so, I thought, it was time to delve into it. 

£75.00 was all it was to get over 300x 10mm samurai models and so, after sending that email, on that February afternoon, I waited eagerly for a reply.

Time has passed and three weeks ago I met my parents at Narita airport (Tokyo). Of course I said hello first, but then I quickly asked if they had brought 'the army' with them. A positive look, mixed with a 'is that all you care about' look was slapped across their faces but, two days before, I had been to GW Tokyo to buy paints, brushes and other 'bits n bobs' (GW is expensive in the UK; but with import tax I almost abandoned the whole idea it was so ridiculous) and so it was nice to know that I actually had something to paint.

Three weeks have passed and my parents have now gone home. Below is what they sent me which, if I'm honest, doesn't look a lot from the photo:

Today I spent two hours cleaning up 160 Ashigaru and realised two things. Firstly I remembered how much I hate cleaning figures and secondly, this may take a while so don't expect too many 'progress' updates.