Monday, April 07, 2014

[UPDATE] Guitar Strings and Reconditioning Paints

Just a quick update on my post about Guitar Strings regarding the safety of how sharp they are.

I've also done a little update to my post on Reconditioning Paints to talk about using thinner instead of water.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Helping Gamers be Better Cheaters

I've been playing more Hordes lately, tournaments too and if there's one thing we all hate, it's losing and having to pack up your army while everyone's congratulating whoever won.

Weep no more! Today I'm going to teach you the tricks that all the best players use to play their way to the top of all the professional tournaments. Many of these tricks will work in any system. Need to cheat at Warmachine and Hordes? No problem. Planning to cheat at Warhammer without buying terrain? I got your back. Want to win at Warhammer 40k without buying Space Marines? Read on!

Gaming Aids

Extend your Tape Measure

 Your tape measure determines all sorts of things - mainly movement and shooting ranges. So, if you can make it longer, you get a huge advantage.

Cut out a strip of paper, the width of your tape measure. Tape it on to the end of the tape. Now, obviously this doesn't look right.

That's because it's missing something.

Take a marker and put a bunch of little ticks on the paper, just like a tape measure would have. It may not look great from close up, buuuut...

From further away you can't even tell the difference!

There! 3" has never seemed so big before!

Now, I know what you're thinking - "What if my tape measure is yellow?" Easy, just use a highlighter on it.

Use Bigger Templates

You're going to be kicking yourself for not thinking of this one. Instead of paying for official templates, just make your own.

No, don't just cut any old circle and think you can trick your opponents. If you want your opponent to believe the lie, copy it from the back page of the book, blow up the image and then cut it out.

Best part is that the book actually gives you permission to do this!

It doesn't say anything about HOW to photocopy the templates.



This is so simple AND it saves you money. In games like Warhammer where certain models can look different, don't bother. Make all your troops look the same. Who's got the rocket launcher? Who cares! Fire it from someone else next turn.

Even better, got a special character you want to protect? Use one of the models he'll be surrounded by to represent him. As long as you "know" who he is, that's all that matters.

Angle Shoulders Backwards

This simply takes advantage of rules in print. Privateer Press states that if bases aren't marked to show facing, draw it along the shoulders. Well, if you want a bigger front face, just angle the shoulders backward.

Best part is, this isn't technically cheating - it's in the rules!

Strategy and Tactics

Pile troops to avoid template attacks

Templates can really be annoying, especially if your army uses large amounts of troops. Well, there is one way around templates... or should I say, there's a way UNDER them.

If you're trying to protect a special character or maybe an objective, you want to group around them / it. Unfortunately, templates are a quick way of dealing with groups of troops.

Templates can only hit what they can see. If you pile your troops in what's commonly referred to as the "Mahjong Formation" then template attacks are forced to remove only the top layer of troops at a time.

Start with a tightly grouped pack of models, then stack another layer on top.
If a template hits them, only the top group of models can be removed. The ones below are safe.

Careful not to get too greedy. If you do, you might end up pulling a "Jenga" and watch all your troops fall into an ugly pile.

Remember - once you've moved a model, you can't move it again! Template attacks will quickly wipe out a pile like this if you're not careful.

Red Ones Go Fasta

It's true. I proved it two years ago to the day. Paint your models RED if you want them to move quicker.

White Out - The Secret Weapon

Did you know that White Out isn't allowed at tournaments? It's true, and this is why.

Change the Numbers on Dice

Y'know how some Football teams always win the coin toss? It's because they use coins with heads or tails on both sides. If it's good enough for professional sports, it's good enough for wargaming! You can use White Out to add more dots to dice.

Just don't get cocky and modify the "6" side as that will be a dead giveaway that you are cheating.

"Update" Model Stats and Rules

In programming, there's a term called "Garbage In - Garbage Out" which basically means you can use anything you want that you put in to the source. (Seriously, there's a Wikipedia article and everything.) So, in the same way, update the stats and rules for some of your models.

Cover the stats you want to change with white out, then once it's dry use a pen to write in whatever stats you want.

Again, don't go overboard. If you try to change things like the picture or the name of the unit, your opponent might start to get suspicious.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Tinting, Layering and Thinning while Painting and Blending

I started painting the rest of my Champions, the core of my army, and as I was taking photos realized this the perfect opportunity to talk about one of the key techniques of how I paint my miniatures.

Basically, I nearly always dilute my paint so that it won't completely cover what's below. Think of it like painting with washes, except the paint is still too thick to be considered a wash.

Because painting with diluted paints is like using a wash, it also means you get the side effect of blending with the colours below.

Worth noting, this doesn't replace other techniques like blending. It's just another technique to add to your arsonal. Mixing paints on a pallette or using fluid-retarders so you can mix on the surface of a mini are still important.

Layering and Tinting Theory

A Light on the Horizon, Dave Garbe
Still don't get it?

Look left - If I just dip my paintbrush in paint, then to a surface, I get a big red dot and nothing underneath is visible.

But, if I thin my paint first, then I'm just adding colour to what's already there. Tinting what's below.

By layering tints, colours get stronger, they shift and so on.

You can layer paint over and over again, use different colours, make things lighter, darker, brighter, etc.

As things are layered with tints, the image below gets a little less clear. Everything starts to blend together AND gets a uniform colour.

Another example, below, shows how tinting can be used on a larger scale.

Lonely Room, Dave Garbe

Thinning Paints

I really need to start making videos, because pictures won't really do... instead I'll try to describe it.

I always dilute my paints as I work, even when I'm painting undercoats and highlights. I do this because paint is often thick and mixing a little thinner in helps it flow. How much thinner I use depends on how strong I want the paint to be. I thin as I paint, rather than just add a bunch of thinner to my paint pots, so that I can vary how dilute paint is as I use it.

  • I keep a small paint cap filled with a thinner next to me as I paint.
    1. Dip the tip of my brush in paint.
    2. Dip the paint on the tip of my brush in thinner.
    3. Wipe the tip of my brush on my pallette to mix the thinner into the paint and get a point on the tip of my brush instead of a blob of paint.
    4. Paint gently.
    5. Repeat.
  • Find your own pattern. Dip the brush in thinner first, use a wet palette, thin your paint pots to a consistent level, etc.
  • There are a bunch of thinners to choose from.
    • I prefer clear Liquitex Slo-Dri but water can work too.
      • Most hobby or art stores like Michaels or Hobby Lobby will carry professional thinners.
    • Unlike real thinners, paint thinned with water will:
      • Lose some of its colour.
      • Quickly turn in to a wash.
      • Not adhere to surfaces as well. (Since it quickly gets wash-like.)
The problems / benefits of washes

If the colours are right, a wash will have the same effect without you having to worry about any thinners. BUT, you are limited by how many colours are(n't) available as washes. Only problem with washes is they're so thin they're only really good for covering large areas or cracks and crevices. You can't really paint with them as you can with thinned paints.

If you're not looking to get all fancy, throw a wash over your mini as a last (or near last) step and see how it looks. Trust me, even just to add some shadow.

Practical Examples - Hordeblood Champions #2 - 4 WIP

In addition to the Champion UA Skaldi and the Champion Hero, I've already completed one of the normal Champions. I've decided to do something I haven't done in a while and paint the rest of the unit together rather than one at a time. (And glad I am, their flesh tones proved a pain to replicate.)

In this first batch of photos, the left ones show the rougher undercoat I like to paint first in order to add a little texture and natural look.
The photos on the right are after ONE (thin) layer of tinting with a bright orange. Notice that all the detail is still visible. Everything looks cleaner. The colours are uniform. Everything quickly pulls together.

In prep for the next set of photos, I've highlighted everything with yellow to brighten up from the orange, visible on the left. I didn't thin the yellow much as I wanted it to stand out.

The photos on the right are also with paint that wasn't thinned much. I decided there was too much brown shadow and used another orange to pull the raised skin into the shadows.

In this batch of photos, I'm just comparing the previous photos to a red wash. As you can see, a wash works just as well, but is pretty indiscriminatory and just covers everything rather than letting you paint.

In the next batch, I've shown the last 4 steps

  • Light highlight after the red wash
    • Cover all the raised areas - knuckles, veins, tops of muscles, etc.
  • Orange, thinned moderately.
    • Pulling away from the strong red and making orange the tone again.
    • Blending the light highlights into orange.
  • Black wash painted only in crevices where I want it darker.
    • Crevices look too brown / red. Need some darkening up.
  • Light highlight, barely thinned. Just to clean up after the black wash.
    • Things like wrinkles in knuckles are hard to shadow without getting any paint on the raised areas. So after the black wash, these tight places need to be highlighted again.
      Yeah, I know I could have painted the black on earlier.. buuut my painting method isn't that fluid.

And for pictures sake, this was pre-painting:

Monday, March 24, 2014

That strange thing, Social Media

Man, social media. Never fails to amaze me. This weekend TheWife and I visited friends and family in support of a buddy of ours who had his final year of art school art opening / birthday.

When we visit, we stay in my parents spare room and I still have some stuff stored there. Decided to go through some of it and either bring home or junk what was there. One of the things I found was an old Go-Bots magazine. (Go-Bots, for the younger crowd, were like the Diet-Transformers.) I quickly flipped through it and found a page where they asked celebrities what they'd do if they had a robot and one of the people they asked was Sean Astin. Since my wife's a big fan, I snapped a pic before tossing the mag in the discard pile. For fun, I tweeted it @SeanAstin from my Twitter account. We met him at a con once, he talked about how he once mentioned he likes gum and now tons of people bring him gum at cons. (We didn't.)

While I didn't hear back from the actor himself, it turns out there are a bunch of people and fan clubs who have lists created just waiting for someone on Twitter to mention him. (k.) So the next thing I know, my tweet is being retweeted and it / the Re-Tweets are being favourited like crazy all day Saturday and into Sunday.

crazy times...

Friday, March 21, 2014

[CHARITY] Headshots from the Heart 2014

It's that time of year again.

For those new to this site, two years ago some friends and I began a charity marathon called Headshots from the Heart. We played Borderlands for 24 hours straight to raise money for Childs Play, a charity that brings joy to the lives of sick children, and streamed the whole thing online. Last year we repeated the event and have raised a total of $7,616. Yeah, that's kind of a big deal.

We're doing it again. Starting at 12:30 pm EST on May 3rd a team of players will marathon for 24 hours taking donations and pledges. You can sponsor the, wait for it, number of headshot / critical kills they make during that period.


Want to help? Here's how:

    • Don't want to worry about all the little details? Just donate your money.
      Money is sent directly to Childs Play
    • Pledge your support. Offer pennies per critical kill and we'll email you when the event is over to let you know what you owe. (You can cap your offer.)
    • Got a website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc? Tell everyone about this event.
    • The event takes place at KwartzLab in Kitchener, Ontario. Come on out during the event and join in the games, LAN and other activities that will be going on.
    • Stay tuned at the Headshots website for details on all the events, costs, etc.
    • Want to volunteer or have another idea on how you can help? Send us an email!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Convincing DeviantArt to Recognize Miniature Artists

This is a topic I want to bring to light because I feel it's important - there are a ton of artists out there who deserve proper recognition. DeviantArt is a great art community, providing support, suggestions, comments and giving artists a place where they can not only share their art but connect with like-minded people. Unfortunately, there's currently no section specifically for miniature artists.

I usually use "Traditional Art - Painting" then choose either the Fantasy or Sci-Fi genres, but that puts my minis next to all sorts of 2D paintings. It just doesn't fit. The "Miniatures" category under "Artisan Crafts" is also a dicey fit because it's focused on stuff you make with your hands like basket weaving, costumes, culinary, glass, jewellery, etc... not painting. Another poor fit. Traditional Art fits, but we need our own section.

Lets face it, our hobby is huge and there are artists all over the world creating beautiful works on what I like to refer to as "3D Canvass". (aka, the sculptures you and I make and/or make.) Having our own category would help experienced and new artists share their work and be browsed by the public. It would also remove miniatures from categories where they don't really fit, cleaning up the experience of other DA users.

DeviantArt has a suggestion forum specifically so the community can offer them advice. Lets give them some.

The suggestion thread is here:

What can you do?

  • Visit the suggestion thread and click "Me too!" to show your support.
  • Leave a comment and tell us why you like it.
  • Spread the word!
    • Tweet this, share it on Facebook, post a link on your own website.
  • Don't have a DA account? Comment here or on my pinned post on Facebook and tell us why you think this is important. I'll link to these posts from the original suggestion.

Lets be heard and show DeviantArt that we're a community worth recognizing.

Thank you everyone,


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