Friday, February 22, 2013

Tiger Eye Journal & Cedar Cove Big Cat Sanctuary

Hi guys, I'm coming to you this week from Snow City, USA (aka Kansas) where we got about a foot of snow in 24 hours.  For everyone in the north that's probably no big deal, but down here we haven't had snowfall like that in years!  It is perfect hobby weather (granted you haven't lost power from down lines) and I'd like to show off another journal painting project I've been working on.

Like the journal I painted for my girlfriend's little sister in January, this is another book handcrafted by Jessie Alexander at Sweet Olive Books.  The journals are of exceptional quality and incredibly elegant, the perfect canvas to a bit of free hand painting!

My girlfriend, Harley, volunteers out at the Cedar Cove Big Cat Sanctuary in Louisburg, KS and has the opportunity to get up close to some truly beautiful animals.  One of her favorites is the tiger Mohan.  Since each tiger has unique facial markings she asked me to paint his on her journal.

It's a very different experience painting onto a flat surface instead of a model, but I like it!  To take the design a step further, I'd like add white tones and more shading.  The idea of its markings in isolation is a cool one, but I think it could use a little more context.

This was a fun experiment and Harley loves her painted journal.  I'm looking forward to doing more!


Here's the real Mohan at home in his enclosure at Cedar Cove.

Cedar Cove is located in Louisburg, Kansas, south of Kansas City on Highway 68 and is a great destination for an afternoon with the family, kids, or anyone else who loves giant meat eating carnivores.


There's more than Siberian Tigers out at the park, the lions Tonka (pictured above and below) and Shanta call the shelter home too.  Unlike most zoos where the animals are kept behind bullet proof glass, Cedar Cove lets you get a closer look at the lions, at times only a few feet away behind chain-link and hotwire.

(L to R) Shanta &Tonka


Kimar is one of the park's three white Bengals and the biggest tiger on the premises.  He loves practicing his hunting skills and will stalk you if you turn your back to him.  Thank goodness for iron bars and steel fencing.

(L to R) Mohan & Rajah

Here's Mohan (left) and his brother Rajah (right) who share a similar facial marking, note the slight differences.  These two have been together since birth and are the only two tigers in the park that enjoy the company of another big cat.  Unlike any of the other tigers, they're the only two who have access to each other's enclosure.  (Their mom doesn't like that they're still nearby and roars at them from time to time to get out of the "house" and leave)


The cats get special treats on holidays like Halloween and Easter, usually taking the form of pumpkins or other large gourds.  Filled with meat and slathered with juices, the cats roll their treats around and have a blast trying to get at the delicious filling (kind of like Zelda and a peanut butter filled Kong toy).

(L to R) Kiowa & Lakota

There are two non-feline residents at the sanctuary (not counting the two diurnal coatis they have as well) the brother-sister duo Lakota and Kiowa.  Interestingly enough, much like Shanta and Tonka the female and male lions, Kiowa is dominant over her brother Lakota.  Kiowa (grey) is seen here with Lakota (white).


The wolves are Harley's absolute favorites at the park, partly because she can go into their enclosure without fear of being eaten, and because they're sweet canines.  Much like a dog the wolves will roll over so you can scratch their bellies.  However, the wolves will challenge your dominance, and when that happens you have to assert your authority or things can get ugly.

Harley & Lakota

Obviously Harley has bonded well with the wolves!

For more pictures of the animals check out Cedar Cove's facebook page and be sure to pay them a visit if you're in town!

Thanks for stopping in this week, come back next week to see what I'm working on at the Monster Lab!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Showcase: Driago and Grey Knight Terminators

The Grey Knights are unleashed!  This was a commission done at the level 2 (showcase) quality level of painting.  Of the three levels I offer, level 1 = table top quality and level 3 = competition quality, this one gives the customer the best bang for their buck.  Each Grey Knight terminator got a custom urban rubble base that was made from the cities of death boxed set and their armor/weapons were painted with the highest attention to detail.

Let's take a look at the finished product!

Each falchion was painted with an edge glow on its blade and a runner of electricity on each side.  A light glow effect was also painted on the sword quillions to further the look that the blade is glowing.  Since one of this termi's falchions is so close to his helmet a light glow effect was painted there as well.

The main color palette was blue/silver armor, burnished copper and gold accents, and burgundy red contrasting points.

In true Grey Knight fashion, each termi was given a name and had it on their right shoulder pad.  Though it is partially covered by the purity seals, this guy's name is Leonatus.

Lord Driago is a badass, as is evident from the fiction he was given in Codex Grey Knights (how couldn't he be when he can stomp around the immaterium setting afire Nurgle's garden, shattering the impossible city, and slaying demons like he was taking his tea?).  Still, I wanted him to gel with the aesthetics of the squad by keeping the same color palette, but still wanted him to differentiate on the table top.  I mentioned last week that I'd do this by giving him a different colored blade.  It's a simple thing, but I think it works, and since it is a long sword and not a falchion it makes sense it would be a different color.

Driago's tiled base really stands out here, where you can get a good look at the alternating red and black check pattern.

I wanted to use a wide variety of urban themed rubble pieces across the squad.  Driago's base was definitely the "pipe" base as it has five different pipes peeking out around the side.

Like the falchions, Driago's force sword has an energy current running up the blade.

Basing with an urban theme gave me an opportunity to try different techniques I don't use often when painting my own Eldar and demons, specifically rust effects.  I made a simple rust pattern by stippling on Mournfang Brown (it already has a red tint) and a lighter stipple of Khorne Red.  I lightly hit the edges around the rust with Administratum Grey to give a slight impression that the rust had eating into the metal and wasn't simply sitting on top.

For more on weathering, I'd highly recommend checking out Cameron's blog Rust and the City, he does fantastic work there and has many great tutorials.  His blog is definitely one I enjoy going back to and checking in on each week.

Besides cities of death pieces, the basing is made from a mishmash of odds and ends I pulled out of my basing box.  In this pic we can see a plaster cast arch and a plastic bit off of the Imperial Guard chimera sprue.  Medium and small Woodlands Scenic ballast finished off the base.

Of course the squad's justicar received the coolest of the accessory bitz from the termi sprue, included are his sword and book banner and extra optics helmet.  I think the helmet I used for this model was meant for a member of the squad who would carry a heavy weapon, but it works just as well to denote the veteran status of the justicar and the probably eye/head injury he suffered in his long years of service.

I wanted each base to look realistic in little ways and one of those efforts was to pin brass pinning rods in as "rebar."  Often, exposed rebar has pieces of concrete and stone still attached to it, so I was sure to glue a few bits of rock and ballast to the exposed portions on this base.

That same idea used on the justicar's base was taken to the next level with the standard bearer, where the rebar is still struggling to hold the fractured pieces of his base together.  Each of the three tiled sections are pinned into the main vent section by a brass rod.

The banner was done in the same silvers, golds, and brass tones I used for the armor in order to save time, but I think they ended up looking great anyway.  The grey knight on the banner was washed in blue to mirror their armor whereas the ribbon above him was washed in black to be a more neutral silver.  Agrax Earthshade washed all the brass and gold portions.  You might have noticed that the GK is slaying a golden demon, a little tongue-in-cheek from the artist.

This is by far my favorite of the Grey Knight terminators, I absolutely love his pose, it's incredibly light for an eight-foot-tall super human in tactical dreadnought armor!  I had a lot of fun with his basing as well, adding rust to the I-beam he's perched on and modeling the splintered remnants of a collapsed building around him. His basing is the best of the group in my opinion and really captures the jagged nature of a building's collapse.

All the writing done on banners and purity seals was done with a 2:1 mix of Abbadon Black and Khorne Red.  The slight hint on red for the lettering gives it an appropriate color variation for small text that has aged a bit on antiqued parchment.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my work, come back next time to see what else I'm working on here at the Monster Lab!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What's on My Desk: Grey Knight Terminator WIP

I have a quick update for this week's What's on My Desk showing the progress made on a Grey Knight commission.  This commission has been on my desk for some time, and I'm delighted to have made some significant progress on it this week.  It's due Saturday, so after this post, it's back to work!

Until then, let's take a look at what I've been working on so far.

January was a busy month that saw me working feverishly to finish an original model sculpt for KantCon 2013.  Unfortunately, a casualty of that time crunch was the non-metallic metal paint scheme I wanted to do on this commission.  I'm using GW's brass and silver paints, which still look fantastic, so I'm still really pumped about the paint on these termis.

Driago and five Grey Knight terminators are the models receiving paint, and because there's a lot of similarity between armor colors and motifs, I knew I needed something that would separate Driago from the fold.  To do this, Driago's power sword is being painted in orange/yellow hues, as compared to the squad's blue toned falchions.  It's a small thing, but between that and his banner, he should be instantly recognizable on the table top.  I'm especially excited to finish the swords, when they're all complete each will have a layered glow and energy field effect rendered on the blades.

After I adjusted my paint scheme to include metallics, I decided to go with a codex approved blue wash over the silver plates.  The blue hue does a surprisingly good job of heightening the "silveriness" of the plate.  Dark rich reds (mix of Khorne Red and Abbadon Black) add a great contrasting color to the terminators, while GW's Hashut Copper and Vallejo's Old Gold are excellent for all the ornate details on the armor. 

The base for the armor is a 1:1 mix of GW's Leadbelcher and Runefang Steel washed in Asurmen Blue (now Guilliman Blue).

Check back next week for the final picks!

If you haven't gone over and checked out the KantCon 2013 kickstarter, don't wait!  They're already half-way to their $6,000 goal, but they can still use your help.  Like most great kickstarters KantCon is offering a number of perks for each level of donation, so your altruism won't go unrewarded.  Support local hobby and a great cause, donate today!

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