Thursday, 23 March 2017

Ballads of War 1x16 & 1x17

The story keeps on moving. Two quite different pages today.


 Now after the chase we need the dust to settle and... what's that? New characters? A new secondary plot? Oh my! Who... who may that one be? Is he wearing... a power armour? If so, it looks like an old model... Hmmm. He's secretive, he has a deep, powerful voice (that's what the reverse coloured letters try to represent!), wears a daaaark armour... You got a clue of who he may be? ;)
He's currently getting a lot of attention in the new fluff books, but a dozen years ago he was kind of a forgotten character with a lot of potential. I'll talk more about him when we get to spot him again...

About the second page, I felt I had to explain some WH40K concepts to anyone approaching this universe for the first time. As a storyteller using someone else's stuff, I thought I couldn't give for granted that everyone had read 40K stuff before.
I gave this a deep thought. You can firstly assume that people showing interest in this comic have already for sure heard of this universe, and that I could move faster not having to explain certain things.
But on the other hand, I think it's storytelling 101, you have to produce a complete system. Anyone coming to this piece of work for the first time really deserve to understand everything without making them look for external references to get the basic stuff. You can have a look at WH40K novels, rulebooks, codexes or whatever, and you'll get a deep insight of this universe, but I shouldn't force you to do so in order to simply understand what's happening here.

So here's one (another!) of the challenges I wanted to face as a storyteller, to develop a comic that was enjoyable both for the novice and the expert. The newcomer would get a glimpse of WH40K and (if I do it right) understand everything, and the veteran would rejoice in the details and inside references. We'll have plenty of that in the following pages!
Stay tuned!

All the prevoius stuff can be found HERE. ;)

Monday, 20 March 2017


My to do list is simply overwhelming. I hope I'm not alone and this is the story of many of you too. In fact I have come to consider the lead mountain as a must for any self respected geek like us :D
Yeah, I know, I'm still trying to convince myself of that :D

Anyway. Many moons ago, drooling over pics of the Bring Out Your Lead 2016 event I spotted a sweet piece of art. There are many places where to know about BOYL, the Oldhammer Forum being the most obvious one, but I'm giving you this link too as it's where I saw what I am going to talk about right now.

I saw what appeared to be an Ornithopter of unknown origins. What was that, was it scratch, was it manufactured? I wanted one! A few weeks later I happily discovered that mighty Curtis, the mastermind behind Ramshackle Games, was the one to produce it, though at the moment it still was a prototype. Being such a gentleman as he is, Curtis offered me the chance of getting a model, bearing in mind that it still wasn't the definite product and that I may need to do some additional work about the wings. He made it all as easy as anyone could imagine and I finally got a gorgeous Ornithopter. Thank you, Curtis!!
I've recently learnt that the master is from Scalene's talented hands! My bad, I missed that info last summer! Please check his blog!

But you know how things happen. The lead mountain, RealLifetm, lots of stuff to be done... Ahhh, it hasn't been until now that I'm ready to show what I've been able to do with the model!

Time for a pic!
Well, OK, step by step. Assembling the kit was easier than expected (when I first saw all the pieces I gasped in shock!). Pretty intuitive, trust me. I left the wings aside for the moment and, focusing on the hull, I primed it all white and begun to explore this path:

Looks like a weird insectoid space ambulance!
I wanted it to be light coloured, nothing too dark. It deserved to be eye-catching. However, white was... well, too much. After considering creams/greys/beiges, I stuck to the original white idea, but with a heavy weathering work. Making it look gritty and dirty would speak by itself about the Ornithopter's own story. It would give it its own personality and would of course say Rogue Trader like no other colour or effect could achieve.

Now we are talking
I love how it looks. I loved it even in this state, without wings. The lines, the whole concept screams Old School. I think it's pointless to add anything else. You love it or don't.

The wings proved themselves tricky indeed. They need some kind of frame, as the acetate won't stay stiff and the wings would look weirdly sad, falling at both sides :P
All my experiments using wire failed miserably. Either I didn't get the acetate glued properly to the wire or couldn't get any of the structures I built for the wings support their own weight, as the contact surface with the hull itself was way too small. Drilling the resin piece looked dangerous to me, at the risk of totally breaking it.
I then came with an unexpected solution. I had been obsessed with a minimalist approach, using wire so the eye couldn't see any frame at tabletop distance. But for once... more is more! I changed my mind and produced frames made of thin BBQ sticks. Once painted black and glued under the wings, they were hard to see (they are obviously visible, but it's enough at tabletop distance). The frames were solid, no glue issues with the acetate and they were easier to glue to the hull too, using a couple of glueing points for each wing.

A compromise solution between the desirable and my skills
I had to discard any magnet approach for storaging purposes (as I originally had in mind) but in the end I think it all works reasonably enough.

A suitable tiny vessel for the modern gentleman
She can adapt to your needings and carry whatever you have in mind
The most versatile VTOL ship in the market
Go get yours!
No much else I can say. I think it is a beautiful oldschool concept and a more than nice model. It isn't on general release yet, but when it comes available you should keep an eye on this beauty. Our boards need to populate with those dragonfly wings!!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Ballads of War 1x14 & 1x15

You wouldn't believe it, but... yet one more character joins the group!

This is but an action boost leading to the conclusion of the urban plot. So all this until now has served the purpose of introducing the main characters as well as a lot of supporting roles, which will find themselves intertwined in the pages to come.
We have learned that everyone here seems to be quite dangerous and that no one seems to be as plain as suspected at first sight. We have met the core characters (for now) so it is time to slow down a little, let them interact with each other and let the reader get used to them and the story thas is meant to be told here. Some of the supporting characters were not to be fully developed until the second or third volume of the series, but they needed at least to be introduced, so I could come back to them in due time.

Along the years I've sometimes regretted the fact of not having shown more of the hive, more urban stuff and get more 40K-ish in a Necromundan sense of the term. But hey, what's done it's done. The main story was never thought to be told in that way, so the city has served its purpose.

This is it for now. Keep in mind that now the story begins!

You can keep track of the previous pages HERE.

I hope I'm keeping you entertained!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Descent on a budget. Belthir & Sir Palamon

Two merry fellows join us today in our journey into expanding Descent with Reaper minis.

The creature known as Belthir apparently is a hybrid dragon, whatever that is. The obvious mini for that is this Gargoyle:

HeroQuest Gargoyle's cousin
I wasn't able to replicate the Pterodactyl-like jaws we can see in the official illustration, but this cow mouth is even more terrifying!

Look at me! I'm a winged Ninja Turtle!
Sculpting the armour was worse than the the face, but in the end the paintjob helped to cover it all up.

Moo moo
Well, it looks different from the starting point and I think it's a decent mock up for the original mini.

I've managed to get a second one done. Sir Palamon is not one of the evil Lieutenants. On the contrary, he's a special character the adventurers eventually meet in one scenario. The only things we get to know of him from the Quest Book is that he's an aged warrior bearing a sword. This mini suits perfectly what we were needing, as the conversion work would be minimal:

Over the top full armour, a war hammer... Sorry, GW, Reaper invented the Sigmarines before you did
 As said, the conversion was only about the arm and weapon:

I really had a stash of those curvy swords
The armour style was asking for a non-historical like paintjob, but something more in the videogame fashion, so this is what I tried:

The book is for those boring moments between battles
The progress may be slow, but trust me, it's unstoppable! We'll need to revisit Descent as soon as all the minis are finished!

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Ballads of War 1x12 & 1x13

Another couple of pages more, where we see Brent solving their way out...

This gives us a more deep insight of the character, who won't hesitate to ruthlessly kill anyone if he's in danger. It can be somehow shocking to see the 'good guy' in that position, I know. When some debate came last year about a similar event in the Rogue One movie (I bet you know what I mean) I kinda felt vindicated. "Hey, I've been there, I faced that conundrum about my character and took the same solution". Well, it can be legitimately disputed, but I guess it's pointless at this moment.

About the second page... If I ever dare to write/draw a remake of the comic (which is as much tempting as it is overwhelming), I'm sorry... the space blender is so staying! :D
It may not be as classy and iconic as the Millenium Falcon or the Serenity, I give you that, but I guarantee you it's a fine ship :P
But hmmm... there's something going on regarding the Eldar and Vix. Apparently it must wait for another better time, we're still on the run!

I'll be scanning and translating more pages soon. For now, HERE you have the previous ones.
As always, comments and suggestions are welcome (even about spaceship design! :P)

Monday, 6 March 2017

Victorian Gothic (tasteful) Horror

You wouldn't expect me to keep focused, would you? :D

After the events told in the Fury of Dracula game, I got an unexpected call. A friend got the game, but was interested in having the minis replaced by proper metal models, not the plastic ones. He's a real oldscholar, touching plastic models is like caressing snakes to him, he simply can't stand it :D

So he got some 'Empire of the Dead' by West Wind Productions minis and I was happily commissioned to paint them :). He had some pretty clear ideas, so it was really easy to get involved. We went deep into the Coppola's film and got an eye into the movie's props and costumes.

Well, you get the point. It was just a matter of finding suitable minis. We got to this conclusion:

Daring Mina Harker
Arthur Holmwoold, Lord Godalming
Quincey P. Morris to be used instead of Dr. John Seward
And of course the badass version of  Prof. Van Helsing
Hunters assembled
A couple of things need to be clarified. Count Dracula is still pending, we're aiming for the Otherworld vampire; as soon as I get my hands on the mini, he'll make into the lot. On the other hand, you may have noticed the colour on the bases. It has an explanation, my friend is also using the models for the 'A Study in Emerald' game. I haven't tried it, but looks interesting by what I've read. That will require some more minis, but they will come too... ;)
A true diversification in my production! More to come!

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Ballads of War 1x10 & 1x11

I've scanned and translated a couple of pages. Looks like our characters are in a tight spot...

About the first page, the dialogue between the Arbites serves no other purpose tan reenforcing the idea that 'something' is happening around Brent. Well, their whole intervention is oriented to that purpose. It's the most action-wise introduction of a character I could provide, hehe.
About the redesign of the Arbites, apart from the colour issue, you can see I took out the Aquila from the Judge's helmet and left just the laurel wreath.

I simply couldn't draw that
I'm taking some of the 'over the top' elements out of the visual design and bringing a more organic approach, I mean, something an actor could really wear if this was taken to a movie :P. That will have some impact in certain art decisions, of course, but I tried to keep it attached to the general 40K vibe, so these variations will be minimal.

The idea was to show the Adeptus Arbites as merciless iron fist law enforcers, provided that the Imperial law is cruel and merciless as well, careless about excessive use of force. Mantaining law & order is a really hard bussiness in the Imperium. So they are the grimdark version of Judge Dredd. Yup, a darker Dredd, if that is even possible. Any confrontation with the Arbitrators will most surely end quite bad.

Regarding the second page, there's not much to say. The first big panel seemed like a good idea to me, but I'm not satisfied at all with the execution. I wanted to show a general overview of a hive district, with action at different levels, highways intertwining, a hanging monorail... that kind of stuff.
However, it's not as half as chaotic as it should be! Now that I see it in perspective, I think I was betrayed by some kind of Escher-esque set of mind (I love M.C. Escher's work!), but that means things have some visual order, and the composition is way too clean, when in fact it should look gritty, crowded, dirty. The result is that it doesn't show what it was intented to portray, and I think it may become distracting in some way, as it draws your attention out of the storytelling for a while but adds nothing relevant to it. Anyway, I learned something about storytelling and composition, if by the hard way!

We also get to know something more about Vix in the other panels. Now we are sure she's not going to play the damsel in distress role. This is just a hint of what we can expect from her, hehe.

This is it for today, we have our people on the move! As always, you can find the previous pages HERE.

I hope I'm not boring you with my shenanigans, I'd hate to become a narcissist hipster commenting on my own anti-mainstream work!! :P