Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Winter Works in Progress

There have been a ton of projects cluttering my table as of late.  Long gone are the days when I would focus all my energies on the completion of a single army (I completed each of my previous armies, first, Iron Warriors, then Night Lords, then Biel-tan Eldar before moving on to the next).  I attribute this to when I got serious about sculpting last summer and scratch built three Dark Eldar grotesques.  The nature of working with Green Stuff modeling putty is that you should let it dry before working on an adjacent piece of the model to avoid ruining detail and leaving prints.  So, after fifteen minutes of sculpting I would have a couple hours to burn before beginning work on the models again.  Presented with this quandry, I stared working on other projects to fill the time, and so ended my career as a one project hobbyist.

Now my table is consistently cluttered with everything from demons to space marines, Eldar to Tau and with projects ranging in diversity from display boards to custom built bases.  It's great to be working on such a wealth of projects because it keeps hobbying fresh, though the danger is that one good idea may get shelved for another.  I tend to appreciate multi-hobbying for its former aspect and the creativity it brings.

With that said, let's take a look at what's currently on my desk.

Having recently completed my first squad of pink horrors for my Tzeentch demons army, I've moved on to flamers.  What really makes these little beasties cool is that their bases are the flooring from the manufactorum building boxed set, and each flamer has a specific place on the display board that I began building in October.

Another project that ties in with the display board is the creation of a large number of green stuff modeled warp bases.  This one here belongs to the demon army's general, Kairos Fateweaver.  Due to the base's 60mm size and the prominence of Kairos' position in the army I went to town lavishing on the details.  There's tentacle aplently, a few eyeballs, and a couple of gaping maws to give the feeling that potential in the warp is coalescing to form something truly nasty.

Here is Kairos himself, newly attached to his custom built base.. he almost looks to be summoning the abomination at his feet into existence.

There are two other notable works in progress cluttering my desk that I wish I could show you, but in the spirit of anonymity, I can't speak about them.  What I can say is that, come late July and if all things go golden, then there will be some added hardware taking up space next to my demon army.

Here's a look at my first commission work, paid for at the price of a free dinner by one of my good buddies who plays Blood Angels.  He said that he wanted a shoulder pad for his Knights of Blood librarian which incorporated a skull with horns and bat wings.

I went to town on Dave's shoulder pad, and in the end, it was quite large.  Though I kept trimming the wings, they still ended up being pretty obtrusive and on this test model, the pad would only fit on a downward directed arm and only if the adjacent vent on the model's backpack was cut off.  I texted him these pics and he said he loved it, so I'm counting that as a first commission job well done.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hobby Showcase: Pink Horrors

First things first, I'd like to announce the final two winners of the Lab's December Fan Appreciation Month:  War Tales and Marshmallow Scallops (aka Stew Reed)!  War Tales runs the blog A Bunch of Tactical Whatevers as is doing a pretty bang up job over there, I highly recommend checking out his site.  Stew is a local hobbyist and has been wargaming for some years now.  He has a sizeable Salamanders marine army and is currently working on a fledgling Tyranids army.  Both War Tales and Stew will be receiving a free Midwest Monster Lab t-shirt for their prize, congratulations to both!

Now, on to the models.  I have been working diligently on an all Tzeentch demons army and am proud to finally post pictures of the first complete models.  You may remember having seen some of these guys make appearances in earlier posts in varying degrees of completion as they've been a featured in terrain building and painting tutorials alike.

The Changeling was a must take for my army, the ability to disrupt enemy shooting aside, his model was simply too cool to pass up.  Though I stayed true to the core aspects of the codex paint scheme, I wanted to utilize a few key aesthetic aspects that would really make him pop.  The fade from bright blue at the top of the model to dark blue at the bottom, makes the dark depths of his cowl a focal point, drawing the eye and making his identity more ominous.  Another touch was the transition flames in his left hands.  I chose to paint the flames moving from a lime green to light blue to show off the Changeling's magical prowess and add an aura of otherworldliness to the model.  The lighting effects emanating from the flames were my first attempt at that technique and was a really fun learning experience.

All the models for my demon army will fit into the display board that I detailed in October and November's posts, and as such, have bases that fit into where they will be placed on the display.  The squad featured in this post all are standing on the trail of warp energy that is flowing from the temporal rift.  I decided that I wanted to make the warp energy really chaotic.  To represent this I green stuffed tentacles, waves, and undulations into each of the bases along with bitz from various chaos kits (chaos spawn, demon prince, and chaos lord kits).  Another feature of the warp energy are screaming souls, shifting color patterns, and swirling eddies.  It's a tall order to represent something as esoteric as warp energy, but a rewarding prospect all the same.

One of the coolest aspects of the army's cohort of pink horrors is that there are horrors at the varying life stages of that demonic species.  A "newborn" pink horror is actually known as a blue horror, and is, well, blue!

As a blue horror matures, it's skin color gradually begins to take on a shade approaching its final hue.  Here a horror is no longer the newborn shade of blue, but transitioning to the rich purple of "childhood."

As a horror reaches adolescence his color begins to more closely resemble a fully matured member of his species.  The skin color of an adolescent is darker than pure pink, more of a magenta.

This horror is getting quite near to full maturity.  As you can see on one side of his body it is still the adolescent magenta, while the other is pink.  If he's lucky he'll grow to look like..

THIS!  Here is a fully matured pink horror who has rightly deserved the name.  A hallmark of his maturity is not only his pale pink skin, but the prominent protrusion of two horns.  This is the epitome of what every horror wants to be, but all good things must come to an end, and the cycle begins again.

For whatever reason:  death, reproduction or otherwise, a pink horror will produce more blue horrors by sloughing off their old skin.  Previous Games Workshop fiction and game play represented the death of one pink horror with the production of two less substantial blue horrors (though those rules have been done away with, the fiction still remains in the Demon's codex and rule book). 

I still have plenty of horrors to paint, along with:  flamers, soul grinders, and even Kairos Fateweaver himself, so stay tuned for more demons!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hobby Spotlight: John Vas' Grey Knights

A couple of days ago, I had the opportunity to sit down with John Vas and take a close look at his Grey Knights.

John is definitely lavishing on the details for his Grey Knights, and  nowhere is his keen eye more apparent than on his Castellan Crowe.

Crowe has a painstakingly embroidered cloak which features a pencil thin border and dagger motif.

It's with Crowe's sword that John really stepped out of the box and pushed himself, here he is to explain how he went about painting it, "the fluff behind Gerran Crowe's sword is that it is demonic and that only he can wield it, so to represent that, I wanted to give it a shimmering effect.  What I did was put down a base of Dheneb Stone, then a layer of Skull White, making sure it was nice and bright.  Next I used the Asurmen Blue wash.  In the sword there's a lot of grooves, rune writing, and I had to go over it three times with the wash, dribbling the wash into the grooves, letting it dry, then doing it again until it was really dark.  After that I went with the Warlock Purple and stippled around the edges of the runes and then further out from that with the Enchanted Blue, doing all of that before taking white again and lightly brushing it on the very inside of each rune's edge to give the sword the feeling of contained power."

With non-metallic metals sweeping the hobby scene, John is sticking with metallic paints, and to great effect. His Inquisitor Coteaz is a prime example off his skill at building depth and highlighting with metallics.

"I start with Calthan Brown, you should always basecoat with a brown for golds, then a layer of Dwarf Bronze.  Next I apply shining gold, which is great because it's pretty translucent and the bronze underneath

Sunday, December 11, 2011

December Winners and a Look at the New Lab T-Shirts!

The first winners for Midwest Monster Lab's Fan Appreciation Month have been randomly selected, and they are... drum roll...

Heavy D6 and Oink! Heavy D6 is a fledgling blogger who has done his own review of the new Necron Codex and Oink is none other than the proprietor of Oink's Overambitious Terrain Project(s). Congratulations to both! More winners will be announced throughout the month, so become a member of the Midwest Monster Lab today for you chance to win!

But what exactly did they win ? Each will be receiving an official Midwest Monster Lab T-shirt!

The Monster Lab shirts just hit the presses, and over the weekend I received into my possession the first of each of the new designs. Let's take a look.

Here, Andrew Brown, a local hobbyist and good friend, is wearing the first design that will be available to the public for sale. The design is a spin off of the I Love New York logo and is already a huge hit with local gamers and hobbyists alike.

I'm showing off a cool contemporary design that places Poly in the lower corner of the shirt with the rest of his silhouette wrapping around the side.

Joe Suber, the owner and proprietor of my local game store 31st Century Games & Hobbies, is proudly sporting the third design, showing Poly exclaim which hobby blog is his favorite (admittedly he is a bit biased).

When the t-shirts go on sale each design will be available in Men's and Women's sizes and colors. Men's shirts will come in white, black, and lime green, and women's will come in white, mint, and pink.

Shirts are not yet available for purchase, but are being given away to members this month for free! Be one of the first to own the Lab's official T-shirt and become a member today! As always, membership is free, simply click the join in the member's box on the right side of this blog.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Introducing Poly and New T-Shirts

As some of you may have noticed, the look of around the site has been altered somewhat lately. What I'm referring to is the appearance of a little green monster. Well, I'm pleased to introduce Mid-West Monster Lab's newest member and mascot Poly!

Besides training for his new job as spokesmonster for the blog, Poly has also been busy lending his services as a model for a new line of Lab t-shirts. The shirts are a fun way to represent not only the Lab, but the hobby as a whole, while in comfort and style. They're sure to be attention grabbers and great conversation pieces. Here's a few teaser shirt concepts below.

All shirts are two color, shirt and silhouette, with shirts available in three colors: lime green, white, and black. The last concept is one of my personal favorites and is a large cropped outline of Poly sitting at the bottom hem of the shirt, the remainder of his body wrapping around to the back.

Shirts are set to go on sale later this month.. so stay tuned!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Monster Lab Fan Appreciation Month!

The Monster Lab has been publishing hobby tips, tutorials and showcases since August and in that short period of time has already enjoyed a great deal of success. To give back to the fans who give us so much, we're dedicating the month of December as Fan Appreciation Month. Throughout the month we'll be selecting winners from those who follow the Lab and sending them an exclusive T-shirt!

If you're currently a follower of Mid-West Monster Lab, just sit back, you're already entered to win! If you're not, become a follower today for your chance at an exclusive T-Shirt!

Throughout the month I will be announcing the lucky winners!

I would also like to take a moment and give a brief thank you to those who have helped to make the Lab a success.

First to the readers, I'd like to send a big thank you to all our readers in United States, who comprises our largest audience!

Another big thanks to the Lab's fast growing fan-base in Russia!

Fur alle fans im Deutschland, danke!

And finally, a very heartfelt thanks goes to our readers in Slovenia, the United Kingdom, France, Ukraine, Sweden, Poland, and Canda! (If I missed your country I apologize, but please know that your support is greatly appreciated)

I'd also like to thank those who run the websites that are part of the hobby community and offer their support to the Lab.

First and foremost I'd like to thank the fine folks at Cool Mini or Not and Dakka Dakka, who offer hobbyists a wonderful place to meet and show off their work. Both sites will always hold a special place in the history of the Lab as that's where I first started discussing my work (under the auspices of "The Blue Scribes")

A huge thanks goes out to all of the great blogs that exchange with the Lab and lend their support. You guys are a constant inspiration with the great work you do!

Stay tuned this month for more articles, and giveaways!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Building a Display Board Part 4: Inset Bases and Finishing Touches

This week sees the conclusion of the tutorial on how to build a display board. Before we proceed let's look back to week two, where we started work on the chaos warp gate. In week two we went over how to start the foundation for the warp gate, now we'll continue where that post left off.

Before we get started we'll need these materials:
7. Dreadnought base sized hole cutting bit
8. Monster base sized hole cutting bit
9. Infantry base size hole cutting bit

From our previous work we have one layer of the warp gate complete, but we want it to have more depth, so we'll proceed by tracing two more complementary layers to attach to the base layer.

For the second layer I focused on building an interior to the gate's energies by cutting tendrils that reach towards the center. This will work to make the piece appear less linear.

The third layer will add dimension to one side of the gate. Don't worry about bridging the left and right sides with an arch, they will be attached independently to the gate on their respective sides.

With all three layers cut out place them and see what layering order looks best to you. This was my original order. I decided that the central layer would contain the gate's sole arch and use the other two layers to add depth to the piece.

To shape the foam, cut off the hard edges with an xacto knife. This will make smoothing the edges and making transitions form layer to layer much easier.

Use a fine grain sandpaper to sand the piece. Folding the paper to differing widths allows you to create broader and sharper grooves. I held the paper loosely and sanded recesses around the "tendrils" to give them prominence. After that, I folded the sandpaper tighter and created sharper detail grooves. This process emulates the undulations you might expect from something that is semi-liquid or energy based.

The initial shaping of the gate's levels shouldn't be 100% complete before assembly. Remove any unwanted hard edges and get the basic flow you would like to achieve first. More shaping for the gate's final appearance will happen after you assemble the layers.

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