Monday, January 31, 2011

Weekly Update



It occurs to me I forgot to plug Loquacious' birthday contest, so head on over there: http://aychplace.blogspot.com/2011/01/birthday-announcing-contest.html
(How many birthdays have you been to where the guests get presents?)

There's a non-GW, non-Codex Pictures affiliated survey being done on what you thought of Ultramarines / why you're not seeing it: https://cms2.unige.ch/outils/limesurvey190/index.php?sid=39764&newtest=Y&lang=en

I was introduced to a blog with some great art and modding. Tentakel Games.. they've introduced me to a few ideas I may cover in the future, but for now, take a look at a nice Warboss and Marines from the site's main author David.. and from a new author, Jonathan, this Ork Warboss conversion.

Porky has a lot of discussion going on at the moment, so I'll send you over to his redirection post and let you figure out what you want to join in on: http://theporkster.blogspot.com/2011/01/talk-tuesday.html

Loquacious also has some thoughts going on: http://aychplace.blogspot.com/2011/01/rpg-development.html

Ron shifts gears and shows some low level detail on painting fur: http://fromthewarp.blogspot.com/2010/01/how-to-paint-fur-hard-way.html
and faces: http://fromthewarp.blogspot.com/2011/01/painting-dark-eldar-skin-tones.html
and icons: http://fromthewarp.blogspot.com/2011/01/raven-guard-icon-freehand.html

Psychosis has some good info on paint brushes: http://psychosispc-themadhouseworkshop.blogspot.com/2011/01/tips-on-brushes-for-army-painters.html

Excellent Tutorial on building a power plant: http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&u=http://warhammermaniaco.blogspot.com/2011/01/tutorial-planta-de-energia.html

Incredible Green Stuffing from Lamenter: http://masteroftheforge.com/2011/01/24/finished-word-bearer-in-mk2-armour-artscale/

Some nice Space Wolves from Grey Death and tips on how they were painted: http://thepaintingcorps.blogspot.com/2011/01/reinforcements-space-wolves.html

Yo Joe! http://stratfordgamingunion.blogspot.com/2011/01/korean-konnection-3.html

Friday, January 28, 2011

Finding Cheap Army Containers

I wrote this as part of Dethtron's Gaming on a Budget series over at House of Paincakes and didn't want to leave all y'all out.



Lets face it, wargaming is an expensive hobby. Anyone who tells you otherwise is not your friend - they just want you to play so there's someone they can beat or so they won't be the n00b at the local store anymore. To offset just how expensive this hobby is, there are corners you can cut - and I don't mean "cut" as in, did you know brake lines make good scale metal tubing? That would be highly inappropriate... cheap terrain is going to be another article.

If you're looking for a way to carry your models around that won't scratch them up, there's plenty of options besides dropping a ton of money on professional carrying cases. Most of this stuff you can get from around the house and often for free.


source: Bolters and Balsa
Egg Cartons give you about the right sizing for 6-12-18 models (depending on the size of your carton) because eggs are about the size of our minis. Monstrous Creatures can sometimes lay sideways and still fit.

Shoe boxes will fit Monstrous Creatures, vehicles or a bunch of loose models. You could make dividers for these out of cereal box cardboard though, so things don't rattle around - something that will chip paint and break glued joints. I wonder if shoe stores end up with empty boxes from people who want to wear their new shoes home?

These can all end up stacking on each other for storage or transport.

source: inetGiant
You can also buy plastic containers from hobby stores like Michaels or Hobby Lobby. This starts getting less economical at $10-20 a container, but you might be able to buy them on sale and over a long period as your army grows. These have the advantage of being sturdier and can often be found with plastic dividers.


source: world of green
You'll want a larger box to put smaller containers into, making it easier to transport armies. Cardboard boxes come in all sorts of shapes and if you go into big box stores like Walmart, Staples, Future Shop, Best Buy, Target, etc, you might be able to ask for some for free. However, while moving, I've recently discovered a lot of these places have newer policies against giving away boxes - this could be store/regional policy, but I've instead had great luck getting boxes from smaller independently owned stores instead. (computer / electronic shops)

Boxes that are great for this are those big sturdy boxes that reams of paper are sold in. (Reams are those packs of 500 pages most people buy) Stores that sell the 500 packs individually have them shipped in the same large boxes they also sell, throwing out the empty boxes. Your parents work may also have extra boxes. Sometimes these will have holes on the sides as handles too.

source: Staples
Office supply stores also carry small storage bins for letter or legal sized paper filing. These might run you $10-20 or so, but they tend to go on sale often. Another benefit here is that they'll be much more rugged than a cardboard box and might have handles.


source
source
The Cadillac of low-end is probably the tackle (fishing) box. Yes, good quality ones go for $40-60, but there are always cheap ones around. Check garage sales, Kijiji, Craigs List, the local paper and other used sources and you can probably find a good deal. "Just an old tackle box" tends to get sold off cheap. If there's lures included, you can either keep them as bits, or haggle with the seller to exclude them and lower the price. Not as much room for vehicles and monstrous creatures, but usually some. If you can't find one used, this is the sort of thing that goes on sale quite often, especially on holidays like Fathers Day. Find a good deal on a tackle box, and it will be the last army case you ever need.

  • Fun fact, some tackle boxes can be fit into those long bag-like suitcases.
  • Fun fact #2, long bag-like suitcase handles are sometimes spaced so that you can put your arms through them and carry it on your back.
  • Fun fact #3, I have intimate memories from my childhood of bicycling 30 minutes in the blistering sun with a tackle box digging into my spine while it bounces around, scratching the minis within... ah the things we do to game.



The expensive option
source: Bell of Lost Souls
Next up, to protect your minis, you either want to line their containers with something or wrap them up. (Though wrapping and unwrapping an army takes a lot of extra time, and it means you can't see who's who)

Foam is usually best for this - However, for those of you not aware, foam is porous gold. It's great to line your containers with to protect your minis, but it can bankrupt you unless you have a mysterious source of cheap foam. (Which some people gain access to in weird and wonderful ways from time to time) For particularly important minis, you can use foam saved from blister packs.

Rather then dumping your savings into foam, line your containers with cheap options such as paper towel, Kleenex, toilet paper, etc. (Maybe your parents won't notice if you slowly build your collection over a week or so)



Here are some further tips from the community on cheap army containers:

  • Cheap Army Transport Trays from Menelker @ Dark Future Games
  • Cheap, Quality Army Case Video! from Old School @ Dark Future Games
  • From the comments at House of Paincakes
    • Dethtron suggests $10-20 pistol cases
    • Loquacious suggests duct tape + cardboard, video/camera bags, craft bags and reminds us Michaels and Hobby Lobby always have 40% or so coupons floating around.
  • A few people suggest KR Multicase, however this company just seems like any other case seller.
    • Their cheapest model is a $40 cardboard box with a handle - for the same price, you can get a hard plastic tacklebox brand new that'll actually protect your minis.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Indexing Your Blog

If there's one thing that 99% of the blogs I see are missing, it's some method for people visiting their site to find information. If you're reading this and have a blog, there's a good chance I'm talking about you. Blogs have evolved beyond websites for people to create journals of their lives or complain about stuff. Blogs are now places full of all sorts of useful information, but for some reason, nobody tries to make that information easily available.

I look at indexes in three different ways - there are indexes to display short term (or recent) information and those to display older (or archived) information. Both of these indexes are used to create another style I call "The Hook" - or the way that you want to display to NEW readers what's going on at your site. (Because existing readers are already familiar with what you've talked about recently) In the age of information overload, you want to make it easier for people who come across your site to decide if they want to follow you. Archived information is all that stuff that you've ever talked about - painting tips from five years ago are still relevant today, don't let them disappear into obscurity.

Thor, over at Creative Twilight also has a similar topic this week as he talks about Improving Your Homepage.

Recent Information

These are usually the only methods I see people using to organize their blogs. All the effort you go to to write detailed posts full of useful information - you don't want that to go to waste, do you? Sure, people currently subscribing to your blog will see everything you talk about, but wouldn't you want someone new to your site to find it later on, or have a way that current readers can come back to older data?

As I'm interested in hobby articles instead of tactics and lists, I can usually flip through a bunch of old post titles and labels and get an idea what a blog is about.

Chronological Index (bad, by itself)

All blogs seem to have the timeline widget, displaying posts organized by year-month-day. This is a chronological index. An index organized by time is a terrible way to organize information. Picture it this way: You walk into a library and instead of entering the "Non-Fiction" section, you have to go to the year the book was written and sort through every other book written at the same time. "But what if you don't know when it was written or even what book you want?" - Exactly.

It's still not a bad idea to have an archive like this as it's a quick way to see what's been going on recently or at a certain time, but more needs to be done so your readers can find your old posts.

Labels (not a bad method, but something more is suggested)

Many blogs usually have a label section. Whenever you submit an entry on your blog, you have the ability to add labels to your posts. These should be a word or two that become categories for all your entries. Don't get carried away creating categories - keep them simple, short and don't just go creating tons of labels for every one of your posts.

If the topic section is too large, they all blend together and become overwhelming. This should be a quick way for someone to see what your blog is about and choose a category to read that grabs their attention.

Recent Articles (not bad)

This is as easy as putting in an RSS widget to subscribe to your own feed, displaying the last five posts or so.

Since it only shows recent articles, it doesn't make for a good index, however, like the two methods above they're good hooks to get new readers interested in your site by showing them what you're about quickly.




Hooks

While information on recent posts show new readers what you've been up to lately, there's other information you might want to display that has no value at all to long term storage, but is still a great way to show new readers what's interesting at your site.

Popular Posts (not bad)

While it doesn't display short term information, I list it here because it's still a "Hook". When trying to get new people to follow your site, what better a way than to show them what posts really stood out to others as well?

This is a "Popular Posts" widget from Blogger, though other platforms may have their own plugins - or, you can create your own HTML list of links to what you feel are your best articles.





Recent Comments (not bad, depending on the social nature of your site)

via Creative Twilight
via 3++ Is the New Black
If you have a very active blog with lots of discussion going on, then showing that you've got a strong community is a great way to get new people interested in your site.

New readers who see bits of conversations currently going on about your posts may want to jump right in and start sharing their thoughts as well.


Archives

Every site needs these options, and most sites haven't added them. These are the reasons to keep people coming back to your page, to ensure things you write aren't forgotten or lost and the most helpful to new and old readers alike.

Self Made Topical Index (really good)

The best way to archive you old posts is to create your own index(es). This is a two part process - first you need a page(s) to create your index on, then you need links somewhere to these pages.

Google Blogger gives you access to 10 pages for your own use and a "Pages" widget lets you create a nice bar of links, like my "Recent, Step by Step, Techniques, etc".

Other sites might allow more pages and you can always use a blog post as a page. (Just create a dummy post and go back and edit it whenever you want to do an update - clicking the title of a post will take you directly to it so you can get it's web address.)

Rather than using the "Pages" widget, or if you're linking to additional pages or dummy posts, you can create your own HTML links somewhere. (such as the bar at the side of your site.) For example, on my site, I added a "gallery" image to my sidebar that links to my DeviantArt account

Once you have these pages created, fill them with useful information that links to old posts. It's really easy if you update your indexes every time you post something. You can see my "Techniques" tab in the image, showing how I've organized my older posts by category. Because of my indexing system, someone can come to my blog, click on Step by Step, Techniques, Supplies, Musings, Resources, whatever information they're after or interested in, and quickly find what they're looking for.

This is something that really begins to make your blog stand out as more than just a place to talk about stuff that a week from now, nobody will remember. Now you're adding features of websites to ensure your information is always relevant.

Search Box (helps)

A search box is another quick way for someone to find data on your website and has the benefit of allowing people to create their own search terms, rather than read categories and other links of what you assume they might be after.

Reference Old Posts and Link (very useful)

Reference old posts whenever you have the chance. If you're talking about how awesome your new light is for your work area, throw in a "...and it makes photographing my miniatures a lot better too!" (obviously with a link) People are reading your blog because they're interested - if you have articles that go hand in hand with what you're talking about, send people there. This also keeps people at your site longer, and gets them more interested in who you are and what you have to say.

Additionally, link to other people's works. More perspectives are a good thing, even if they do it different than you - everyone learns and works differently, so don't discount the opinions of others and keep in mind that some people need visuals (lots of pictures) while others learn better from detailed notes. (which is why a mix of both is good) Either way, it shows you're part of the community and aware of what's going on - people will recognize what you're doing and probably start linking to your stuff as well.

Underline Links (very helpful)

To make all your references stand out better, make sure your links are underlined. For the longest time I didn't, and adding underlining to links really does make them stand out. If you're on Blogger, click "Design" then "Edit HTML" and search for the following:

a:link {
  text-decoration:underline;
  color: $(link.color);
}

Just find "a:link", "a:visited" and "a:hover" then modify the section "text-decoration:" to look like it does above. (Leave the "color:" line alone, even if it is spelled wrong)


Monday, January 24, 2011

Weekly Update

As a kick off before my hiatus, I've filled this week full of goodies. Don't worry, once I get settled in to the new place, I'm shifting gears away from all the musing I've been doing lately and getting back into the tutorials and information that brought you all here in the first place.

I had some insight into why I thought Ultramarines was a poor showing for Games Workshop, and lets call this the last bit of negativity you'll see around here for hopefully quite some time.

Ron and I wrapped up our Back to Basics series with Skin and Hair, and I tell ya it's been a good run! Thanks all. Forge World released their new line of hawt Eldar units. Blog-Fu continues with Scheduling Blog Posts as requested. I've tweaked my blog a little as I test the waters of social media - don't miss the Facebook Page.

And finally, a contest! Win the table-top quality miniatures I painted over the last couple months. In addition to that, you get to contribute to the next section of Back to Basics by sending in photos of your oldest and newest minis with a little talk about your hobby experience and a plug for your site/blog/gallery.



Link via diceRolla, but Deepstrike Radio is fund-raising for flood relief. You can end up with an army and a pro-painted leader.

Link via Massive Voodoo, the 2011 Newbold Challenge begins, raising money for Children with Leukemia. (a charity in the UK started by Diana of Wales) Purchase items from their store, sponsor them or enter their artistic challenge.
Massive Voodoo also shows off creating some jungle ambiance: http://massivevoodoo.blogspot.com/2011/01/tutorial-how-to-create-jungle-ambience.html

While cleaning out my digital office, I found a mis-filed link to one of the blogs that inspired me to launch Wargaming Tradecraft: http://gardenninjastudios.blogspot.com/

Have you ever wondered what kind of effort goes into a Golden Demon entry? Volomir shows off his Last Stand of the Crimson Fists. (which got a silver) As a treat, he kept a journal during the project. It's a staggering amount of work, but he breaks everything into smaller manageable stages.

This is from another new blog this week that focus' on terrain with excellent tutorials: http://warhammermaniaco.blogspot.com/ (english)

A good carapace tutorial: http://paintingmunkystyle.blogspot.com/2011/01/tutorial-tyranid-carapace.html

Lantz looks at What holds you back and What keeps you going when hobbying.

Dethtron continues to rock on with the Dark Angels this week: http://bloodofkittens.com/blog/2011/01/19/music-to-game-by-dark-angels/

Ron shows how to paint a glowing power fist: http://fromthewarp.blogspot.com/2011/01/painting-glowing-powerfist.html

And a step by step of a Terminator vs Gretchin: http://fischers-design-shop.blogspot.com/2011/01/suicide-bomber.html

A few tips from Dante's Inferno: http://cmdante.blogspot.com/2011/01/painting-tips-collection-i.html

Old School has a nice Chaos drop pod conversion, and I like how he's rusted it: http://darkfuturegaming.blogspot.com/2011/01/painted-dreadclaw-drop-pod-conversion.html

Dusty thinks out of the box with a dollar store catapult: http://wpggamegeeks.blogspot.com/2011/01/dollar-store-mordor-catapult.html

Gimnir shows off some great style: http://gimnir.blogspot.com/2011/01/profundizando-en-la-cenitalidad.html

wow: http://40khobbyblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/fw-tyrant-of-badab-and-astral-claws.html

A chaplain with black highlights that are well done: http://warpaintguy.blogspot.com/2011/01/space-marine-chaplain.html

This is a nice little article on tactics: http://bloodofkittens.com/blog/2011/01/17/ork-defense-force-learning-from-outside-the-40k-verse/

Some nice "junky" ork bases: http://warpaintguy.blogspot.com/2011/01/trashy-ork-bases.html

A good lookin Nurgle army: http://wpggamegeeks.blogspot.com/2011/01/nurgle-tune-up.html

Friday, January 21, 2011

Announcement: Contest!


Well, the Back to Basics series has come to a close and it's been a good run. I enjoyed seeing Ron's method of how he approached things (see Ron's series here) and I hope we managed to help out a lot of newer artists. Now, I want to give something back to you, my readers. If you haven't been following long, or are new, take a look at the below links for tutorials and tips intended to help new artists learn how to paint table-top quality miniatures, gain basic techniques and start to grow as an artist.
I'm going to have a drawing mid-February once TheWife and I get settled into our new place, and six lucky people will be the proud owners of a table-top quality miniature signed by yours-truly. I'll also varnish them to help protect from scratching.

How to Enter
  • First, show some support and do one or both of the following. (Doing both gets you two entries)
    • Visit the Wargaming Tradecraft blog, scroll down and "Follow" me in Google Friend Connect.
      • This is free if you're not already a member, and allows you to comment on most of the blogs out there if they only allow registered users to comment.
    • Visit the Wargaming Tradecraft Facebook page, and "Like" it.
      • This has the added affect of seeing blog updates in Facebook.
  • Send me an email.
    • Visit the Wargaming Tradecraft blog, and click the "e-Mail" link in the top right.
      or, put together: npluspluswargaming [at] gmail [dot] com
    • Use the subject: [B2B Contest]
    • In the email, tell me your Follow and/or Facebook name.
Drawing
  • You'll have until the end of Friday, February 11th 2011 to get your submissions in. (That gives 3 weeks)
  • I'll assign numbers in the order the emails arrive, two numbers if you both Followed and Liked.
  • I'll randomly pick 6 numbers - first number picked will win the light primer model, next the dark primer, and so on in the order the B2B articles were released.
  • I'll verify the names picked have actually Followed / Liked Wargaming Tradecraft, otherwise I'll choose another number.
  • Winners will be announced at the beginning of the following week.
  • Then I'll email you back for shipping information within a day or two of the announcement. (Check those spam filters!)
    • If you don't get back to me in a reasonable amount of time, I'll pick another number.
I'll stick to displaying first names only, unless you tell me a specific name you'd like to have displayed. I won't post your email and certainly won't post your address.

Restrictions
  • If there's issues shipping to you, such as the post office not allowing me to send to your country, or for some strange reason the cost would be ridiculous, I'll draw again. Sorry, but I'll try my best.
  • I'm just paying for shipping and not any extra fees such as if customs decides to tax or tariff these for some reason.

BONUS!
YOU provide the next Back to Basics content!

In my Introduction to the Back to Basics series I bared all, showing you a progression of miniatures I painted when I first began this hobby. The next step I'd like to take in Back to Basics is to showcase YOUR progression as an inspirational message to newer artists that one day, with practice, things will get better.

It won't get you any more votes in the above contest, but it will get you publicity for your blog / website / gallery and a chance to share your painting experience. Even if you don't have a spot on Internet, I'd still like to hear from you and will still give you the opportunity to share some thoughts.
  • At a minimum:
    • I'm looking for a "then and now" photo showing one of the minis you first painted when your skill was obviously lacking, and a mini to demonstrate where you currently are.
      • You agree to let me resize/crop/fiddle with the image to format it for the site, but obviously I claim no ownership of the image or contents.
      • If you send the pics as two separate photos, I'll probably mash them together like in the example below.
    • I'll stick to displaying first names only, unless you tell me a specific name you'd like to have displayed. I won't post your email.
  • Bonus
    • If you include a brief blurb about your journey of painting, I'll publish it with your image.
      • I'll edit out bad language, what I feel are advertisements, or if your definition of "brief" is over-sized.
    • If you include a link to your website, blog, gallery, etc, I'll link to it with your image.
      • Excluding any sites that may contain questionable content, spam, etc.
If you don't have photos but still want to say a few things on how you've grown as an artist, send them along, and maybe I'll mix these insights in as well.

If you're an artist starting out, show us a couple minis that demonstrate some growth (maybe a second model where you did something that made you really proud) or just a single mini if you're really new - then tell us what you think of the hobby (preferably painting/modding related) as you begin your journey.

I haven't decided on the exact formatting, but I'm picturing posts with nothing but words of wisdom from you guys and nothing from me... maybe I'll interject comments here and there, but I want to stay really hands off on this and showcase YOUR work.

I'm picturing something like an unknown number of posts full of the following:

Nplusplus from http://nplusplus.blogspot.com says:

I've been painting since I was in my early teens. It all began with a fateful trip to Toronto, wandering into Games Workshop and being introduced to the hobby with my first box of "Space Marine". (the Epic scale game, not the army)

These days I don't get to play as often as I'd like, but the hobby itself holds my interest as a great way to unwind and relax. I don't have any schooling in art, but after roughly 15 years of off and on hobbying, I've taught myself a lot. With Internet now, it makes sharing and learning a lot easier and has been an excellent opportunity to flourish.

[Update: Feel free to send this stuff in separate from you Contest entry]

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Announcement: Sharing and Facebook

New Sharing Options

A friend of mine has been researching (see: tracking) social media use by friends and fellow students and had some good things to say recently in support of embracing this new age of social media.

At the bottom of every post on my site and through RSS, you can now spread the love to your friends via eMail, Blogger, Twitter, Facebook and Digg. (configurable through Blogger and Feedburner)

I've also added larger Tweet and Facebook Like links to the bottom of my posts. You can add these plugins to your blog as well - For Twitter and for Facebook. Just modify the settings some, then follow the instructions on where to copy the code.

(However, while Tweeting works, the counter doesn't seem to be.. maybe it takes a little while)

Wargaming Tradecraft on Facebook

I've created a Wargaming Tradecraft Facebook Page and added a jump right below the Google Friend Connect section on the right side of my blog.

I'll start linking to all of my articles from here, giving you one more way to follow the site if you're not one for RSS. (Just as soon as Facebook stops treating this blog as spam)

Now you can also show your support for Wargaming Tradecraft by "Liking" it in Facebook and sharing it's content with your friends and family.

Scheduling Blog Posts

In the early days of your blog, you'll probably just be posting every now and then. I suggest a minimum of once a week, so that you keep readers interested and don't fade off into Internet. As you begin posting more frequently, there's a few things you're going to need to consider.


I'm sure Wordpress has their own method, but in Blogger if you click "Post Options" you'll see a "Post date and time" section. This will allow you to schedule posts for the future. What I'm going to look at here is what time of day you should post, day of the week, and splitting up your posts.


You've got readers from around the world

You're going to end up with readers from all over. Personally, I follow a number of blogs that Google Reader translates for me. (Is it perfect? No, but it's pretty close.) Additionally, I do all my browsing in Google Chrome, which translates pages for me. Google Translate lets you type in text or a website for instant babbling. My blog even includes a Google Translate Blog Widget in the top right so anyone can translate it themselves. (Am I a Google whore or what? Well, show me someone doing it better than them)

What time should you post?

Taking this into account, what time should you post your articles? I like to post my articles so they'll be waiting for my readers in the morning. Call it old fashioned, but breakfast and/or coffee and a newspaper used to be a national staple of our society, right? I also like to start my posts off in the morning so that any discussion on them can occur back and forth throughout the day, involving my whole readership.

Revolver Maps lets you customize a widget to keep track of your world wide readers. This gave me an idea of where my readers are, and I was able to compare that to a map with the timezones overlayed.

Looking at where my readers are coming from, I decided that 2am EST would be when I post my articles, and here's why:
2 am EST is in the middle of the night, or at least late at 11 pm for those on the west coast in PST. Hopping across the ocean puts my blog posts hitting at 10am on the far side of Europe. While 10am isn't exactly breakfast time, I've found looking at my hourly stats that midnight to 2 am EST is generally dead, so 2am it is.

You can see in the photo to the left of Blogger's hourly stats. Between 2am and 3am EST is when Europe is waking up, then it dips as we cross the ocean. (My crustacean readership may be affected by the copious amount of crab I devoured while in Baltimore for Games Day 2010) Around 7am and 8am EST is when the east coast in the Americas wakes up, surging at 9am and then just up from there as people check their blogroll during their lunches, dinner time and before bed.

What day of the week should you post on?

Honestly, I've found that when I pull up monthly stats traffic is pretty consistent no matter which day of the week it is. Yes, weekends tend to be down slightly, but not by a lot. Increases can usually be explained by days of the month that you submit new articles while spikes are usually caused by posts that get linked from outside sources. (Other blogs, forums, people sending them to friends, etc) Dips are generally caused by holidays - which is important to recognize.
This past month is a good example because there's two holidays - Christmas and New Years. As you can see, readership doesn't go away completely, but there's a noticeable dip.

In the blogosphere, I like to treat Monday as the start of the week. Saturday and Sunday are usually full of whatever your weekend plans are, so Monday just seems like the logical break.

To summarize: any day that's not a holiday is a good day to post.

How should you spread posts out?

As you begin writing more often, you're going to want to split your posts up across multiple days of the week. Use that scheduling feature - don't write five articles on the weekend and post them all at once, instead spread them out across the week. If you're going to have a heavy post week, maybe some of them can be pushed back a week or so to even things out. There are a few benefits to this.

People usually have other things going on in their lives and aren't staring at their RSS Reader (how-to) waiting for them to update. They're mostly checking their blogs every now and then. When a single blog has a whole bunch of posts, there's more chance that people will scroll faster to finish them all, not paying the attention your posts deserve.

Information overload also exists. Too many posts at once is overwhelming, so if you want readers to learn from you, spread out the information you're throwing at them.

By spreading posts across multiple days, you create pacing. Consistent pacing becomes important, so delaying posts from a heavy week can supplement an upcoming week you know is going to be light. This pacing keeps people coming back because they know there's a good chance there will be something to read waiting for them every couple days or so.

Should you commit to a regular posting schedule?

This is the act of committing to your readers that on X day of the week, you will always post an article on Y. (ideally, also at the same time) This gets a little tricky because it really depends on how much time you can commit to your blog. If you can commit the time and effort, there's a huge benefit to scheduling your posts - your blog becomes more recognizable because people get used to and anticipate a regular schedule. (ever stop watching a TV show because it had it's time/day moved around?) Keep in mind that while people understand that "it" happens and sometimes you can't keep to a schedule, don't commit if you're going to end up disappointing readers and apologizing for more missed posts than written ones.

Ron's and my Back to Basics series is an example of a scheduled post (every other Wednesday) as is my Weekly UpdateFrom the Warp has it's Tuesday Top Ten, Rogue Trader Friday and Sunday Warp Report, while House of Paincakes has it's New Member Mondays, Weekly Top X, Where in the World is Lantz and User Content Friday - these sites have it easier though since multiple people contribute to them. Some indie bloggers do have their own series though, such as Dethtron's Friday Night Internet Fight, Loquacious' Weekly Whimsy and Santa Cruz' Barter Bucket.

If you are going to write a series on anything, scheduled or not, always give that series it's own label that people can read through your posts with. You don't want to go to all that effort and have the articles disappear into obscurity. (More on indexing your posts later)

Personally, I can't commit the time to create a schedule and promise that every week I'll have an article to post on that day about a certain topic. For this reason, I'm sticking with pacing alone and trying to spread articles out so you'll always have something to read and my sanity will remain in check by my blog not taking over my life.

One way to post to a schedule, ensure you'll always have content and have the bonus of your articles being organized, in order, concise and well written is to write an entire series ahead of time and just save them all as drafts until you're ready to release them to the masses. Once you look at everything you've written, you can decide what order to post them in. Even giving yourself a few weeks head start on a series can help a great deal to giving you a buffer to ensure you don't miss anything. I wrote roughly 8 posts and scheduled them weekly before releasing this series to ensure I wouldn't miss anything - and to be honest, if I posted them all at once, who would want / have the time to read THAT MUCH information at the same time?

Another method of being consistent in your blog's posting and having a lot of content to keep bringing readers back is to create a network of multiple authors or invite guest writers. By spreading the work out, nobody gets overloaded, you'll have content all throughout the week and if you know you're going to miss a post then maybe one of the other authors can pick up the slack. Lots of constant content will have a large positive impact on your blog and it's readership. Just be sure to be clear about who everyone is so that one person doesn't get all the credit.

Both writing ahead and getting other writers also allows you to disappear from Internet for a while without affecting your blog's footprint. Whether you need a break, work or school increases, family commitments, emergencies - you can step away without your blog becoming completely quiet.

How does scheduling posts improve your writing?

By allowing posts to sit for a few days before they post, it gives you the chance to reread them a few times and improve on anything you'd like to change. Sometimes this will be something as simple as spelling or grammar, but can include changing, adding or removing content, softening language or tone and any other edit you think will help the article. I find that two reads over a couple days, is a good edit amount, but feel free to reread yourself numerous times before posting - you'll probably find it improves your writing.

When you write anything in passion, though usually if you're angry about something, it's always a good idea to sit on the article for a few days. Maybe you'll want to ease off the language or strength, maybe you'll want to remove the article completely. While in person we don't have a filter and can't take the things we say back, Internet gives us that ability.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Forge World Eldar Units Released

via Dark Future Games

Forge World has officially launched their new Eldar units. Rules are still experimental until they officially release them in an upcoming Imperial Armour. Until them, they can be ordered. I gotta get me some Spectres.

 The Eldar Hornet is basically a heavier version of the Vyper and is also Fast Attack.

They come in units of 1-3 and packs two weapons (From Shuriken Catapult to Pulse Laser) that can both be fired rather than be twin-linked.

view Experimental Rules
Eldar also got a new aspect warrior called the Eldar Shadow Spectre and can be taken in units of 3-5 as a Heavy Support option.

These guys take the cake, but are expensive. Jetpacks (move-shoot-move) and Prism rifles. These rifles are killer at short range, but as a prism weapon, the unit can combine it's shots into a single Str. 10 AP2 60" uber-shot. (with an Exarch power to reroll if you miss) As a little icing, the Exarch can also buy a Haywire Missile Launcher.

view Experimental Rules

The Eldar Warp Hunter looks a lot like the Epic scale Prism Cannon. It's also Heavy Support.

Instead, this baby rocks a massive D-Cannon and has the stat-line of any other Eldar vehicle. The cannon can also be shot using the flamer template at point blank range.

view Experimental Rules

Back to Basics - Skin and Hair

Ron of From the Warp
And now we come to the completion of Ron's and My series on Back to Basics. It's been a good run, there's been some excellent feedback, and you can bet that I won't forget the newer artists out there and will return to looks at ways to help you out.

This week we look at skin and hair, so naturally I have chosen a dwarven trollslayer. Head on over to From the Warp and take a look at Ron's mini for this week. He doesn't have a lot of skin, but he's done an incredible job of showing more cloth and leather painting using a simple pattern of layering washes to really bring out the detail.


As I'll be working with light and bright colours, I base the dwarf white. There's still a bunch of metallic places, which means I'll have to paint them black first when I get around to them.

Another reason not to base with black is that skin tones should be more blended rather than stark contrasts. Letting a wash flow around all the skin areas, muscles, crevices, etc will create a range of shades.
I'm going to be looking at his skin/face and hair first.

I use a darker Kommando Khaki for his skin and Blazing Orange for his hair.

Things to note is to not lay the flesh colour down too thick, because with all the open area, it'll streak. Painting his hair is like painting chain mail - there's a lot of cracks and crevices, making it easy to end up with the paint making bubbles, leaving white areas beneath - Thin the paint down with some water so it flows better and paint in the same direction his hair flows.
Both his skin and hair get a liberal helping of Ogryn Flesh. If it's not dark enough for your liking, give it a couple layers. Just avoid pools of wash, because it will dry thick.
Now it's the dry-brush stage, using the same colours we based with. This won't be the last step for skin, which benefits from another layer or so to look more natural.

For the hair, focus on areas that wouldn't be in shadow, adding more layers for the places most in the open.

For his skin, dry-brush everything but the recesses. This will give a good overall tone and blend into the wash's darker areas.


Use a smaller bad brush to dry-brush, one where the bristles haven't separated completely. This will give you more control over where your paint goes - Then you won't have to do touch-ups.
Finally, I use a combination of line and area highlighting to add Bleached Bone to the dwarf's skin. Instead of applying it to edges, however, I focus on raised and prominent areas. I'm talking knuckles, elbows, lips, foreheads, etc.


So, I always take two pictures of each step, and it would seem both were blurry of the first step here. His eyes and teeth are first painted with P3 White and tongue with Warlock Purple.

I then use Necron Abyss as pupils and a mix of Warlock Purple and White to highlight his tongue. I finish by spreading some Ogryn Flesh wash around his eyes and teeth to soften the strong white.

Watch when you paint his pupils that they're both pointing in the same direction.
Next we move on to the leathers, cloths and wood. His pants are Vomit Brown, the axe handle is Dark Flesh, and everything else is Snakebite Leather.

If you're worried about getting paint on his hands while painting the axe handle, paint it first.
Because of how dark the Dark Flesh axe handle is, a wash won't do much. Instead I mix some with White and throw in some highlights.

The rest of the leather and cloth is covered in Devlan Mud.

Then I decide to have some fun - to make his hair pop, I add contrast by throwing Devlan Mud into the shadows of his hair.
Again a simple highlight by lining and edging with the same colours as I based with.
The metallic areas need to be based, so they all get the Chaos Black treatment.

His axe's dragon emblem is washed with Badab Black to make it lighter and stand out.
Next is a quick dry-brushing stage.

Boltgun Metal on the axe, Mithril Silver on the dragon and bracelets, Shining Gold on his jewelry.
I'm making blue the accent colour, so I wash the dragon with Asurmen Blue, then his earrings and rings are painted metallic blue.
To add a special touch, I've gelled some of the areas on him. I haven't used Gold Mica before, and it ended up looking nice. Lava gel has a glossy black flecked look.


I use a dentist pick to carefully place gold flecks on all the raised areas of his jewelry and silver bands. His base then gets indiscriminately covered in lava.


The gold flecks dried looking really nice - very gold "treasure" like. Lava gel, layered thick, ends up looking sludgy and similar to tar.


And that brings Back to Basics to a close, with an angry axe swinging dwarf. Just look at the insane look on his face! Nothing really new introduced here:

  • Add an extra layer of colour to make flesh look more natural.
  • Use line/edge and area highlights to paint muscles, just concentrate on raised areas instead.
  • Paint hair along the grain and thin the paint to make it flow better.
  • Highlight hair with a dry-brush and wash to add optional contrast.
  • Wash your skin-tone around the eyes and teeth so whites don't stand out so strong.

Don't forget to come back on Friday for a special announcement!

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