Sunday, 23 March 2014

The Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge: March 2014



Its all over for another year - Curt's extravaganza of painting closed in the small hours of Thursday morning. Cue bloggers furiously painting to finish projects off and try to hit their targets. All in all, a bumper challenge in so many ways - output, quality, controversy and banter. With the tallies in, I came a very respectable 28th out of 60 challengers with 755 points, smashing past my 700 target with a micro-'points bomb' on the last day. I'm quite astounded I managed a top half finish given how slowly I paint.

March saw 'the grind' really telling on my output, alongside weekend plans and being busy at work, which sapped my will to apply paint. For some weeks, I could only bring myself to work on the theme round entries. First up was my 'Favourite Character'. 



One of my favourite series of books when growing up was Steven Erikson's 'Malazan Book of the Fallen', an epic fantasy series of increasingly weighty tomes. The first books in the series are quite excellent and I really liked that Erikson ditches many of the fantasy cliches and throws you into a world that feels like it could exist. He skimps on the explanation, so the first book passes in a haze of not quite understanding what is going on. I found that they were best on second reading. Erikson doesn't just write good characters, but cultures and histories. The books span thousands of years, though the 'present' is the age of the Malazan Empire, well packed with heroes and villains.



The books have scores of dramatis personae and I'd have struggled to pick a favourite, let alone one I could have found a suitable mini for. I settled on one of the 'Bridgeburners', a hard-bitten infantry regiment of the Empire, favourites of the old emperor. Members regularly feature in the series and the regiment itself is one of the few 'characters' that features in all of the books. The Bridgeburners are cast aside early in the series and purposefully decimated by a new Empress that is suspicious of their loyalty to the old emperor.

The Bridgeburners are packed with interesting characters: noble and heroic leader Whiskeyjack, brooding assassin Kalam, enigmatic mage Quick Ben or raucous sappers Fiddler and Hedge among others. But the ordinary footslogger is also appealing, so I just painted a nameless, ordinary member of the Bridgeburners, one of hundreds that was buried at the Siege of Pale.

The uniform is conjecture: they are barely described in the books. But I think the mini captures the look of them I have in my head. He correctly carries a stabbing sword, shield and heavy crossbow and wears the sigil of the Bridgeburners on his sleeve: unsurprisingly, a burning bridge.



It is a 'heroic scale' mini from Rackham's Cadwollan range, around 35mm tall. I did some conversion work to make him more like I imagine a Bridgeburner: a new, plain round shield to replace the ornate kite shield, trimming off some detailing on the scabbard and helm and sculpting the sigil on his sleeve. The shield transfer came out quite strangely, so I've since painted over it. I actually had a plain transfer with a very battered design, but messed it up and had to re-do it.

My second entry in March was also a theme round offering, but this time didn't go to plan: I failed to finish my entry. I intended to submit a vignette of chose General Gordon last stand in Khartoum in Jaunary 1885, which felt appropriate to wrap up my challenge. Only Gordon himself was finished.



I tried a new method on the skin, trying the same flesh recipe but highlighting in MartinN's excellent style - it seemed fitting for Gordon's face to be drawn with worry as the siege concludes.



I noticed after submitting that I hadn't painted the button on his jacket which has since been rectified.



The photos were hurriedly done late at night, hence the poor lighting. This is as far as I got on the rest. It is a Perry a miniatures set based on George William Joy's painting. I was adding a walkway and backdrop and wanted to add a casualty on the walkway. One day, I hope I'll get around to finishing it off.



I closed my challenge with a few bits that rolled off my painting table in the last few days. First, a captured Mahdist gun with Egyptian gunners. I actually painted them minis in early January, but hadn't got around to basing them. I based the Beja overseer separately as I though he'd come in useful as a slaver in Pulpy games. Also, at a push I may end up using  this for somewhat bedraggled Egyptian artillery, ignoring the shackles on the gunners and leaving the overseer off. It will suffice, until I inevitably get around to adding the Krupp from the Perry Egyptian range. I am trying to get hold of some perspex basing 'holes' to make my own sabot trays for the Mahdists and also mount the overseer snugly on this base. I'fe left space on the base so when they arrive I'll sort this one out and do a huge batch of sabot trays for the Mahdist hordes.


I dug an extra lamp out for these photos, hence the orange glow on the gun.



The British in the Sudan finally get some cavalry support, the rather dashing 10th Hussars. Not a fancy pelisse in sight by this era, but I still think they look fine in their navy striped trousers and spiked helmets. Deployed from India, they were in khaki. After whistling through the horses for these one Sunday afternoon, they were an absolute slog. This is my first stab at getting the right khaki for the Sudan, based on Vallejo khaki grey, I think it came out well, if slightly too green.







Finally, I had two test 15mm minis to play Chain of Command with. A fairly new scale for me, but they colour scheme is quite basic. I successfully minimised the painting time by spraying them Army Painter leather brown, picking out details and giving them a good wash with strong tone. Leather Brown perhaps isn't quite the right shade for the overcoats, but it made the painting a doddle.




Not the most inspiring paint jobs, but I'm not sure how I might jazz them up more, so am tempted to just knock the rest of the platoon out so I can get some games in at Wyern Wargamers.

In review, I'd say my third Challenge wasn't a classic in terms of my output - lots of what I painted had been seen before over the past year or so. But that aside, I'm pleased that I was much, much more focused, saving my more esoteric offerings for the theme rounds while steadily crunching through the Sudan lead pile. I had hoped to finish off more anbd be ready to game by the end of the challange: two more command stands and a unit of Bengal infantry in particular. But I just couldn't face them.

While I'm delighted with a top half finish and my highest tally, I actually painted less miniatures because half of my points came from the seven bonus rounds. While they were fun, creative and well received by the Challengers, timing the bonus round entries interrupted my flow and probably reduced my output overall. In hindsight, I'd probably have better served focusing on one or two and doing a diorama, rather than small entries to all seven. Still, the whole challenge was a blast and I offer my thanks to the ever-steadfast Curt for organising and running the whole event.

I've taken a few days off painting, giving the much-neglected PS3 some attention and finally applying paint to the kitchen walls to placate my beloved wife. But I'll be back at it soon enough.

22 comments:

  1. Fabulous work, you managed to maintain such great quality in all your entries. I know what you mean about the bonus rounds, the lure of the extra points sometimes distracted me from concentrating on the other units.

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    1. Cheers Michael. Your vignettes were excellent but I'd have loved to have seen more units too

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  2. Good quality and a very solid performance

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  3. The last three month saw some excellent entries from your desk! I feel especially flattered you tried my style for Gordon's face. It turned out great.

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    1. I wasn't bold enough to try your high contrast method but I liked how the effect came out

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  4. Excellent work, really impressive!

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  5. Some great work there. Well done

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    1. Thanks Dave. Very much enthused and inspired by your offerings too.

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  6. It's always great to see what you have painted Phil. It is a shame you didn't manage to complete the Gordon scene.

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  7. Yours have been a fantastic painting work. Wonderful!!!

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    1. Thanks Juan! I'm sorry that you didn't get more minis finished - big fan of your colour palette and style.

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  8. Well done Phil, might be tempted myself next year.
    Cheers
    Stu

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    1. You should Stu - your palettes seem to have been dry recently...

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  9. Those Empire horse still make me go "oooh!" Well done mate.

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  10. Enjoyed your work throughout the challenge. Excellent work!

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  11. Wonderful work Phil. All were great but my favourite is your Bridgeburner, a superb interpretation of the subject and a great miniature. (and I was so very chuffed to find another fan of the the books!)

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    1. Thanks for the kind words Curt. Glad you liked him. Maybe we can convert the rest of the wild bunch one by one!

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