Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Rumblings of War - Dissent

Hey guys, I'm writing the fiction behind the game Battle for Sularia, and I'm thrilled about the world we're building. So far we've seen through the eyes of the cyborg Novum Spero as he struggles with his newfound sentience and  his place in Jotune society and we've descended into the seedy underbelly of Sularia's outland ruins with Solomon Fayde, a wanderer who is searching for a purpose greater than survival.

If you're looking for a sci-fi read in a post-apocalyptic world of robots vs. machines, check out this week's post!


Monday, November 30, 2015

Cyber Monday Special!

Only one thing can make an epic sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, dystopian, robots vs genetically modified super soldiers game better.

Lazer beams?

That's a given.

Stunning visuals?


Free stuff??

You got it.

Don't miss your opportunity to pick up the breakout game of 2016 and get an exclusive alternate art promo card today when you order at sularia.com! The battle begins 2016, get ready!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Introducing Rumblings of War

It has been centuries since the cataclysm of the Fracture ravaged Sularia, and now the self-proclaimed Lords of the world, the Jotune, and the rising machine empire known as the Synthien, are locked in an epic struggle to determine the fate of a waning world. They aren't alone either. Mercenary companies play opportunistic middle-men in the conflict, bartering blood for coin, weapons, or worse... and there are others lurking on the periphery, ready, waiting for their moment to strike.
Dive headfirst into the sci-fi fiction adventure with the first installment of Rumblings of War, a semi-weekly novelette that brings this heroic cast of characters to light and sees who will rise triumphant in the only conflict that matters - the battle for survival.
Check out the articles homepage http://www.sularia.com/blog-landing-page/ and get the latest from the post-apocalyptic world teetering on the edge of total annihilation!

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Sneak Peek at Battle For Sularia

A brand new strategy card game landed on the Monster Lab desk, and we're psyched to debut it! Launching January 22, 2016, the game is available for pre-order. Check out the world of Sularia, the game, and their card image gallery, where epic heroes are depicted by some of the best established and up-and-coming artists! Dive right into the post-apocalyptic sci-fi dystopian world and check out the daily articles section!

More to come soon! Heed the call and join the battle today!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

DLBlog 6: Tara Finished & Build Binge

Hello again! This week I've got another completed crew to show, Tara's Herald of Obliteration crew. As mentioned last week, this is the special edition transparent 'smoke' plastic set that Wyrd first sold at GenCon a few years back (one which I didn't attend) and some holiday specials since. As this was my first time working with this type of material I did research and testing on my own on how to best approach it. Plastic cement unfortunately doesn't work. Superglue does, but it fogs the clear plastic. The best adhesive was said to be clear canopy glue mainly used for windows on scale model planes and cars. I picked up a bottle to test out, but the instructions said to tape the pieces in place and then wait 3 hours... I'm not that patient and that had me questioning the durability of the bond for gaming pieces. So I just used superglue to stick everything together. It did indeed fog around the application area, but since I planned on green-stuffing and painting over the seams anyway, it was acceptable for my purposes.

I wanted to leave large portions of the Nothing Beast and Void Wretches transparent to reflect their otherworldliness. I started with a thin layer of rattle can matte varnish over the bare plastic. This would act as a sort of primer for the areas I wanted to paint traditionally as nothing was going to stick to the bare super slick surface. It also gives a neat frosted effect. Most of the models have hollow cavities inside which aren't attractive to look at and there were surface scratches from scraping off the mold lines (which are really hard to find on clear plastic, by the way). The matte coat conveniently hides all of these imperfections and gives more depth to the surface.

The Void Wretches were done up in much the same way as the Beast. I had seen others use a wash on clear plastic for depth so I tried that on the middle Wretch's legs. But the combination of matte coat and wash all but eliminated the transparent look. I did try a wash on the bare plastic before the varnish as well, but nothing stuck and I just ended up with nasty looking pools in the recesses. They must have used a much clearer varnish to give the wash some tooth to grab on to.

Tara and Karina had much less surface area I wanted to leave unpainted and thus mask off with tape. Tara's monster arm and sword were good candidates but I wanted to fully paint Karina. I went through a couple of basing options for these two. I started out with Micro Art Studio 'Chaos' bases for the whole crew, but wasn't happy with how they painted up. My initial plan was to have an OSL effect coming from between the cracks in the rocks, but the glow on the models would have covered up the transparency. I stuck with the chaos bases for the Wretches, but for the humanoids I switched over to custom bases of floating stone inspired by other's work posted in Wyrd's forums.

The rocks are just small pieces of cork board superglued together with chunks of the edges torn off with pliers to blend the horizontal slabs of cork together.

After painting up the minis I gave them each a light airbrush of green from below as a quick glow effect, leaving masking on the pieces I wanted to stay clear, as I imagine ethereal bits wouldn't reflect light all that well.

Beyond completing Tara's crew. I've been on an assembly binge. I put together and based my remaining Outcast minis and also decided on basing for my already assembled Yan Lo crew. Outcasts got a simple rocks+sand scheme (with some post-painting bushes/grass to follow), whereas Yan Lo got fancier treatment with Micro Art Studio 'Ancient' bases.

All were then zenithal primed: black primer all over with a top-down spray of white, out to about 45 degrees.

Batch 1: assorted Outcast mercs. 3 Desperate Mercenaries (1 metal, 2 plastic), 3 Convict Gunslingers (1 metal, 2 plastic), and a Malifaux Child (metal).

Batch 2: plastic Friekorps models. Librarian, Trapper, Specialist, and 2 Freikorpsmann.

Batch 3: Yan Lo and a Lone Swordsman. I had already assembled Yan Lo's crew box (with superglue rather than plastic cement unfortunately, so I had to green stuff some seams), but hadn't yet based or primed them.

Finished up with assembly of Jack Daw's crew and a pair of Hanged who got my remaining 'Ancient' bases, but have not yet been primed.

That's all for this update. Just want to wrap up by saying how awesome plastic cement is! Back when I started hobbying all I used as superglue. After dealing with the fragility and messiness (always had scales of glue to pick off of my fingertips) I finally switched over to the good stuff. Aside from the rock-solid bond between the parts, it nearly eliminates the need for any green stuffing to hide joints, something I loath doing. Simply squish the melted plastic into the crevice and scrape any excess of with a knife after it dries for a perfect, clean seam.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

DLBlog 5: Blood and Rust

Hello again! It's been a very productive couple of weeks of painting. With a total of 16 models I can now call complete and a good amount of work done on a handful more there's a lot of pics below

First up is a group shot of the newly painted Malifaux Outcasts. Most are thematically from Leveticus' crew: Rusty Alyce, 2x Desolation Engines, 3x Hollow Waif, and 8x Abominations. Also, returning from the last post is Vanessa. And finally there's the mercenary grenade-launching robot Lazarus.

Lots of the same techniques were used on most of the models: gratuitous amounts of blood splatter and rusty steel. My blood splatter formula is Tamiya Clear Red mixed with a bit of Agrax Earthshade to darken and thicken it up. Suck up a bit in the end of a plastic pipette, squeeze it a few times to blow out the big chunks, and then spray the remaining little drops onto a model. For the rusty metal I start with a base coat of dark red-brown, heavy drybrush a dark steel metallic, dab on Citadel dry rust paint in random crevices, wash with Agrax Earthshade and then a light drybrush of a bright steel paint. Both are nice quick techniques that give a great result for the time investment.

First up are the master/henchwoman pair Leveticus and Rusty Alyce. Leveticus was previously painted as part of the diorama that was mentioned a few posts back so he simply got a gameplay-legal base. He's just pinned to this new base so he can live on the diorama while on display but be shifted to the 30mm base when he's ready to mix it up. I do need to do a bit more detail work on the gaming base, as Leveticus has some green underglow that makes sense on the diorama, but needs some light source on the small base. Luckily he's standing above a grate so glow can easily be added there.

Rusty Alyce is a straightforward paint job with brighter colored coat and a rusty mechanical arm made for clocking chumps in the face. Her eye looks huge from this low angle, whereas it looks more normal from a typical gaming angle. I have been running into this problem lately and think I'm getting too much white paint on the underside of the eye socket which is only visible when seen from below.

Next are the Hollow Waifs; Leveticus' totems. Fluff wise these girls are soulless shells which, if Leveticus is killed which happens quite often, he can burst out of one of these 'horcruxes' to be reborn. Not quite sure how that works in practice, but whatever. To reflect their soulless nature I left the skin in white tones. I cheated pretty hard on the skin tone as it is simply the original black/white zenithal priming with a few highlights, but it gives much smoother transitions than I have the patience to paint! The dress colors were done to match their box artwork. My favorite Waif is the lady in red; the mini's pose, face, and subtle dress highlights turned out the best IMO.

Here are the two different sculpts for the massive Desolation Engines. On the left is the new plastic version; old metal version on the right. Although I think these minis should have been scaled a good bit larger to reflect their high in-game cost and abilities, I really like how they turned out. The plastic sculpt has quite of bit of seams that needed to be green stuffed and the head didn't fit onto the body very well, but I got everything smoothed out in the end. Metal sculpt is like two pieces, so no issues there.

These are the Abominations. First set of four are older metal sculpts, rest are the new plastic minis. I really like the aesthetic of the models and how different each of them are. The same steps were followed for painting these in assembly line fashion. Airbrush dark then light skin tones all over, followed by some brush highlights and red and purple shades for the shadows and to pick out the scars. After painting the rusty metal as described above, that's the majority of the surface area of these models: skin and metal. Then details were picked out with one or two highlights for each: bone, clothing, gore, and tubes.

 That wraps up the rusty, bloody mess that is Leveticus's crew. The next two are models that were ongoing works in progress. Vanessa, as seen last week as an unfinished member of the Viktoria's crew, is now finished this week. I really like how the strong glow effect turned out, it really brings life to the otherwise generic brown-trenchcoated woman. The glow effect was a simple airbrush spray of blue from below after the model was painted normally, and I then finished painting the magic cloud itself.

Finally there is Lazarus. He's a model who's been based for a long time and I've tried several color schemes on him, none of which I was happy with. And being a pretty goofy looking model to begin with (Wyrd's only posable mini, albeit not posable enough to get it out of a Baymax pose) I just wanted to wrap it up. Lore-wise he's powered by the trapped soul of a Guild Guardsman who was murdered during a science experiment, and sensibly now hates the Guild. So I gave him a heavily weather red paint scheme. The scratches in the armor don't have enough contrast for my liking, so I may go back and line the edges of the gouges to give it more depth.

And that's about it! Now I've moved onto working on the Herald of Obliteration special transparent box set. I plan on painting the top surfaces and leaving the lower portion transparent with a light wash to better define the surfaces.

The 'scrap' bases used above and the 'chaos' bases below that I'll be using for the new crew are from Micro Arts Studio. This is the first time I've used them and they're very nice and easy to use. Since I paint the lips of my bases to match the mini's faction it's super easy to paint them separately and them glue the insert in at the end. However, they are difficult to magnetize. With the normal slotted bases and even resin bases (drill a well in the solid bottom) I could insert a magnet for use with my metal transportation box. There's no recess in the bottoms of these bases and not much meat to drill into. Thankfully, since I've shifted my hobby more away from actually gaming and more toward painting that's not a big deal for just placing them in the display case.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Charity Paint: "Adventure Ho!"

Word's gotten around the office that I have a creative side (I admit I don't go to great lengths to hide it) and when the recent GivingSOLO charity auction came up, a coworker asked if I would like to contribute a work of art.  With 24 hours to complete my piece I knew exactly what I wanted to make!

It's been awhile since I did purely illustrative piece, but I found myself struck by a bolt of creative inspiration, and without hesitation I raced to my nearest Hobby Lobby to purchase a new set of brushes, a couple of canvases (only $5.50 for two!) and acrylic paints.

Being under a strict deadline, I opted for a quick, but effective sky/sea blocking, not stressing over even paint distribution to the canvas's edge, but keeping with a messy look that would help further the whimsical image of a child's daydream.

Since this is a charity that benefits sick children and childhood cancer, I wanted to create a piece that showed off the wonder and innocence of being a kid, and how even in the most difficult of circumstances those qualities don't diminish one bit.  In fact, they probably grow!  

I imagine this to be the spitting image of a child's idle thoughts when they're stuck inside looking out on the adventure waiting just outside on a summer day.

I was pretty happy with it, but something was missing...

How about daydreams for the daydream!  A simple silver marker treatment added nine ephemeral illusions to the piece, which include: a rocket launch, dragon (never forget the dragon!), faerie, tiger, spelunker, slalom skier, treasure chest, north wind, and Loch Ness Monster!

My piece was sold at auction during the first GivingSOLO exhibition and I'm truly grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute.  If you're in the KC, MO area on Friday October 2nd at 5-9pm, the second installment of the art exhibit will be hosted at 19 Below, so stop by, pick up some fun local art, and have a great time for a wonderful cause!

Altruism aside, I want to switch gears to a subject that is so pitilessly unphilathropic, that it would make Donald Trump blush.  I'm talking about the conflict that brews on a seemingly peaceful hexagonal paradise, where resources are plentiful, and on a good day you can hear the echoing cries of, "I've got wood for sheep!"  Yes, I'm talking about Catan.

This was one of those hilarious game night moments with your friends when the cosmic-forces-that-be decide they're going to have a little bit of fun...

It all started when Donny and his girlfriend came over to play a few games with me and mine on one of our regular Friday nights.

After I won an exciting round of Boss Monster through a masterful display of dominant dungeon building and shrewd skill. Donovan decided he had to take a shot at the champ and casually suggested we play a game, one that he had undoubtedly studied as extensively as a doctoral student;,employing the help of: tutorials, youtube videos, and shadow playing for what could only be 50+ hours.

"Why don't we play Catan?"  He asked, feigning nonchalance.  

I wasn't buying any of it, so I flashed him a thin smile that didn't quite reach my eyes, though I opened the Settlers box with matched forced disinterest.

"Sure. Why not?"  I said.  And that was my fatal error.

All began well as we built our first settlements and collected resources on the peaceful island nation.  Though I suspected something was amiss, I admit I was taken unawares by the jackal lurking in our midst...

That's the brigand himself, with the self-contented Cheshire grin of a man who has rolled ten 7's.  Ten!!  Ten I say!

And played four knights (the fifth is still turned over in front of him waiting to spring its trap).  

For all of you not versed in the game play of Catan, when you roll a seven or play a knight card you get to move the grey thief pawn onto a hex and steal a random resource from a player who borders that tile.  Needless to say, Donovan aimed each and every looting at me, plundering my hand and using the ill-gotten gains to trounce us all handily.


So there you have it.  No good deed goes unpunished, and when you play Donovan in Catan and he breaks out his "special dice," you best beware!

See you next time for more tales of gaming and hobby goodness!  Have a great week!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

DLBlog 4: Swordswoman Doppelgangers

Continuing from last week where I was in the process of staining the wood pieces of this display case, here's the finished result. Looks a lot better than the light, unstained color of the thing when I bought it. However, the wood was in pretty rough shape, so I may replace it in the future.

And here it is all filled up with minis. It just barely holds all of my painted Malifaux stuff.  With only about 1/3 of my horde painted, I'm going to need a few more of these if I plan on storing them all the same way. Thankfully, the display case looks like it was homemade to begin with; just acrylic and wood. Should be simple to replicate and even customize a bit to better contain minis.

Here is my finished batch of miniatures for my Viktoria crew. From left to right: Student of Conflict, Viktoria of Blood, Viktoria of Ashes, and Hans (proxy from Warmachine). I initially planned on spending a good amount of time detailing the metal pieces, but ended up with fairly simple paint jobs as during the process I started to lose interest and wanted to just get them finished up.

Nothing particularly interesting to say about the painting process. For the skin tones I'm sticking with the midtone base coat, highlight up then shade down that I first used last week. It's given me good results so far and is much quicker than starting with a shadow base color and needing lots of highlight layers.

The skirt of the Student of Conflict was a very quick paint. These model were zenithal primed, with a black base primer and white preshading from above. Just a thin coat of purple and thin highlight and that's all that needed to be done with very good results for the time invested. I'm going to try and use this technique much more in the future on those model that I don't to the base coat with the airbrush, as you can't have any stray color on the painting surface.

Vik of Blood was my favorite model to paint, as I love any model that I get to splatter blood all over. I use a mix of Tamiya Clear Red acrylic paint mixed with a bit of Agrax Earthshade to darken and thicken it up a tad. I either flick the mixture off the bristles of a stiff brush for a fine spray or splatter larger drops out of a pipette. The paint mix thickens up quickly and you can brush on the gummy leftovers for chunky bits of gore.

This Warmachine Kara Sloan mini is my proxy for the Malifaux's Hans. It was chosen to stick with the 'sister' theme of the Viks. The sniper rifle position was modified from being held straight up the the air to being held at the ready in both hands. Not sure that the pink hair jives with the rest of her paint job, but it definitely stands out and goes with the purple hair of the Viks.

I haven't finished up Vanessa yet, as I'm not sure of the color scheme and how much OSL I want to do with the magic staff. I'm leaning more toward a very strong light source where most of the front of her will be lit blue, but I want to do some testing first (and paint something other than brown/black clothes...).

Inspired by the blood, I've prepped and started painting my Leveticus crew. With plenty rusty, bloody models such as the Abominations and Desolation Engines I'll get to flick red paint to my heart's content once these are painted up.

Monday, September 14, 2015

A GenCon Tale Part 5: Return of the Geeks

For those of you who have been traveling along with us on our journey to GenCon 2015 over the past month a half, it's finally time to pack up the paints, put away the cards, and load up all the minis and loot spirited away through the press of bodies in the vendor hall.  There were late nights of gaming, brews enjoyed at local pubs, and much slinging of spells; but now, sadly, it's time to return to the mundane world of nine to five employment, taxes, and an ultimate death of old age.

But not yet!  There's still one more day to enjoy the con (and the ripe old age of 120 is many many years away), so let's take one final look at all the awesome you can possibly pack into five days, one convention center, and a bunch of downtown bars.

Before we get started, I want to acknowledge the fun I've been having with the names of each of the five parts of the GenCon post (There and Back Again - A GenCon Tale, Wrath of the Con, The Convention Strikes Back, A Game of Tones, and The Return of the Geeks). 

For added awesomeness, guess the name of the book/movie/etc. that inspired the name of each post, and look for the answers where they will be posted at the bottom of the page! (a special prize awaits)

As for convention pic farewell tour, let's pick back up with those that were only just good enough for the b-side of the greatest hits record, and we'll start with one of the first sights that greeted Donovan and I upon reaching the convention hall...

which would be the plight of bronze life-sized statues everywhere, and by which I mean a gaggle of drunk, middling aged men who have a penchant for molesting these vulnerable works of art.  This statue in the adjoining courtyard was no exception, simply minding its own business, the siren song of its captive nature and lack of foreseeable repercussions, led to its imagined crotch being massaged in a very unbrotherly like manner.  Bravo gentlemen, you just joined an elite club of scholarly intellectuals who pride themselves on their unique brand of insightful humor that inspires as much as it impresses.  *Cue slow clap*

Miscellaneous shot of vendor hall booth area (it is, in fact, the Plaid Hat booth, but yeah).  Bonus points if you can find and name the celebrity in the background!

GenCon is epitomized by waiting in line.  I am 99.99% more willing to wait in line for something as awesome as a game demo/purchase or a chance at miniature painting glory.  Donny, I believe, feels the same..

I competed in three Magic tournaments throughout the weekend.  This one lasted until well after 2am, where I placed third.  Legacy reanimator for life!!  If you're going to play powerful spells they might as well be roided out demons, massive angelic protectors, and minions whose affections are disproportionately two-sided.

Losing to Omni-tell... #thesaltisreal

Bee Coffee Roasters across Capitol Street from the Convention Center stayed open 24 hours to ensnare the business of gamers ending their late nights of dungeon crawling.  Beware the turkey wraps that have dissolved in their own juices and gone the way of homogeneous goo, and plastic forks that WILL attempt to slay you.

Wandering back to our car we came upon this sign.  "They sells beans, home office furniture, and sugar?"  I asked incredulously.  Of course they do, Matt, nothing quite goes with a comfy chair like copious amounts of carbohydrates and delicious simple sugars.

Wizards of the Coast is putting out a pre-painted strategy board game!  Woo-hoo!

Cell-shaded Borderlands cosplay.  Both subtle and impressive.

Delicious Korean tacos!  The BBQ steak was delicious and the spicy mayo was further enhanced by lots of Siracha sauce!

Another delicious meal at Far Out Freds, featuring fried risoto balls and and open faced "Human Torch" sandwich which included a delicious beef patty cooked medium-well, gooey mozzarella cheese, and yet even more Siracha mayo!  Siracha ftw.

Ahhh.. convention booty.  I purchased a ton of art prints, fun fantasy jewelry for the lady friend, limited edition Boss Monster (which includes promo foils!), original art Jason Engle Magic tokens, and some nice Games and Gears Ichiban Pro paint brushes.

When I started this tale I knew I wanted to finish with the image of a polite young lad who kindly ferried our MHE entries from the display case to the check-out table.  It was the end of our Indy odyssey and a fitting end to the blog series as well. 

I will admit that I couldn't help imagining him dressed like this the entire time he stood at attention...

Jolly good!

And as for the answers to the challenges posed above, they are:

+1 point - Part 1: There and Back Again - A GenCon Tale (There and Back Again a Hobbit's Tale) 
+1 point - Part 2: Wrath of the Con (Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan)
+1 point - Part 3: The Convention Strikes Back (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back)
+1 point - Part 4: A Game of Tones (A Game of Thrones, i.e. a Song of Fire and Ice for all the super fans out there)
+1 point - Part 5: Return of the Geeks (The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King)

+1 point - The celebrity in the background of the Plaid Hat Booth - Wil Wheaton!

If you guessed all five names correct, nice job!  Here's your prize!  If you got the bonus question correct, here's your very special prize!

See you next time!
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