Monday, 20 February 2017

Interlude: Roman Centurion

You need to totally change subjects from time to time. Leaving your comfort area is healthy and good in every aspect. That's what I've done this time.
I've been wanting to paint some Roman stuff for ages. I have some 28mm Legionnaires lost in some drawer (in heavy need of love from my part, sigh), but I was looking for something different, kind of a bigger mini for the shelf. Then I found a real beauty from Nocturna Models.

When assembled he will look better
72mm scale, resin. Incredible sculpt, amazing casting. It was exactly what I was looking for. Some days later I came to this:

There were some steps before, forgot to take pics
When in Rome... you know
I'm happy with the results, but extremely unsatisfied with the pics. I tried different techniques for the several textures, and I enjoyed it all pretty much.

It all looks too flat in the pics! :(
The shield took more work than expected
'Romanes eunt domus'?? How do you dare!!
That Superman guy asked for my cloak. Ha, he can hold his breath
What do you mean 'Mordor'? All roads lead to Rome!
As said before, the sculpt is simply amazing. The tiny details, the way they all complement each other... It's absolutely gorgeous. I'm no expert at all, but having been through a few books and references for research, I also happen to find the mini quite historically accurate, which is also certainly something. So esentially 12/10 for Nocturna Models, I have enjoyed enormously going through this mini. A more skilled painter would make wonders out of this one, but for me this is more than enough.

Well, after this unexpected break, I'll be coming back to my regular stuff. Or irregular stuff, I know the difference no more :D

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Ballads of War 1x08

Yet more characters come in! With these we have our field team complete.

If I ever were to rewrite the comic, I'd certainly introduce Vix in a different way. I mean, the moment the reader/spectator meets the girl, you can see there are (serious) issues with the boy. That tension inevitably becomes belligerent sexual tension (which is in fact a thing in scriptwriting) and it all leads to romantic interest. It's all way too a cliché. This really needs a revision.
I never wanted to do a Manic Pixie Dream Girl of her, i.e., an overbursting female whose sole function is serving as a support for the leading male character by bringing energy and adventure but little else. She was in fact envisioned as quite a complicated person with a major role in the plot. I'd change some things about her, for sure, but that only reflects how I've evolved myself about storytelling and characters.

Now, the main issue here... she's a half-Elda! :D You can imagine I got some serious criticism from 40K fans (or at least a sector of them, the ones more attached to then-current fluff). I just sent them to WD #97, specifically to the Ultramarines section in the magazine, and then asked them about that special character called Ilyan Nastase (yup, you know, GW and names... Someone at Nottingham was really a tennis fan back in the day). My point:

Before Tigurius ever existed
No more questions, your Honor. In my universe, the possibility of a half-Elda is real. Not only it's a thing in classic fantasy settings, but it was once officially sanctioned by GW. I was tried to be convinced that this aberration could be sustained no more in 40K, but I insisted (and still insist) in all those things about the galaxy being so large and that anything could happen blah blah.
Anyway, it's not an idle question, the half-Elda thing was meant to be important for my narrative. One day I'll talk about the whole plot...

The other two characters have a supporting role. I was concerned about the fact that I was introducing too many people in just 8 pages, but they were needed for the crew to be... well, a crew, not a couple of badasses. Credibility asked for a whole team, but the reader could be confused by the pouring of names and faces. I decided to attach them to a common theme so I could introduce them at a time and move on the plot. Hence the siblings thing. As I was designing them I begun to think about the minor plots and character building stuff such a relationship could offer, and I was pleased of the perspective. They were worth of further development, though for the moment I needed the story to move forward.

That will be happening in the next page, promise. Don't let the fact of having new characters to be introduced divert from the action that will begin to unfold!

PS: You can read the previous pages HERE.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Descent on a budget. Sir Alric Farrow

A new character for this side project. Sir Alric Farrow is another evil Lieutenant. As seen in the rulebook and official illustration/miniature, he is an ironclad warrior as well as a magic user. Quite a combination. My pal provided me this mini (remember, from the Reaper ranges):

The warrior and his amazing magic sword!
The conversion was simple. Rather minimal in fact. I took the shield apart (and repositioned the wrist), added a Bretonnian head (without the helmet crest, which had to be replaced with some greenstuff) and, facing the impossibility of totally recovering that sword, no matter how much boiling water I used, I eventually replaced it.

Now he reminds me of that 40K Emperor's Champion...

The paintjob couldn't be simpler too. Metals, blue garments and a puny attempt of depicting red energy glowing from the fist.

Looks like he squished strawberry chewing gum though

Given that it's a quick job I'm happy with the result. Those metallics look fun in the pic, but work fine in hand, so no sweat, another character done and I can move onto the next one, hehe.

Oh, and on the World of Twilight stuff. And the comic. And all the other projects...

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Ballads of War 1x07

New page. Time to introduce more characters...

First thing here is that we learn something more about Brent. Looks like he's entangled in something big without having a clue of what it may be, hmmm...

But the important issue here is that we begin to recruit the team :) The character of Arbos Holdstat was something I deemed not only necessary for the development of the story, but appealing in other ways. I mean, a rogue tech-novice, had you ever seen that? :D
I simply envisioned him as a RPG player. Of course keep in mind this was 2005, way before the WH40K RPG games saw the light. I had quite an inspiration coming from the classic Lord of the Rings RPG and of course the Warhammer Fantasy RPG; the careers you could choose for your characters were absolutely delicious, they covered every corner of the fluff. Anything you could imagine was there, no matter how silly or rare. You could shape your character as you really pleased. Wow, that was great. Honestly, I haven't played the later WH40K RPG, so I don't know if that is possible (I hope it is!).

I digress. The point is that I was trying something similar here, so I came with the idea of an initiate in the science/art of 40K tech who had resigned. Maybe he begun to toy with forbidden knowledge (which, let's say it, that's a wide open category in this universe!) Maybe he was set for a lobotomy and scheduled to become a mindless Servitor, so he escaped before the sentence was executed. Then he learned to live on his own in a hostile galaxy. Half adventurer, half religious zealot (given that his religion is, of course, the Machine Cult). Maybe having a loose screw (pun intended). You know, a somehow interesting character with an unorthodox point of view about life.
These were the ideas I had behind him. Unfortunately the series never got as far as I would have liked to properly show his background story. I had a weird plot of him breaking into Necron programming on a Tomb World (you know, when Necrons were quite different from the current fluff). Maybe one day I'll explain all I had in mind, hehe.

But for the moment this is it. You can read the previous pages HERE.

Anyway, if you think this character was crazy... just wait to meet the next one!! :D :D :D

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Back to Descent

Long, long time ago I painted the Descent boardgame for a friend (Here you have the Adventurers, the small creatures and two posts of the big creatures -here and here). One of the major setbacks we found is that there were a number of special characters that didn't have a mini, but just mere card tokens. Unwilling and unable to suffer such an ignominy, as expected of any gentleman, we needed a solution.

Unluckily, the only official minis for this purpose belong to an expansion that covers only certain evil characters, the Lieutenants (so not even all the minis needed, as there are also some good guys involved), and the price for those... well, let's just say that my pal was wisely reluctant to pay what it was asked for the minis.
Instead of that, he got several Reaper minis that more or less fitted in the theme. So I have a new project! They are really unexpensive (I think that the whole cost for all the minis was still under the official pack for only the evil guys) and they are the best material for conversions, hehe. The bendy plastic can be a fuss, of course, but it was little issue to me as I was going to reshape all of them.

First character will be the infamous Splig, the Goblin King. We used this orc:

Sooo, let's turn this into a Goblin
I'm not even trying to mimic the original minis, as it would be pointless. I'll give a reinterpretation based on the texts in the rulebooks and my raw materials. Regarding Splig, we only know that he is a big fat goblin who is torturing prisoners when the Adventurers arrive. A helmet is mentioned, but little else. So I had quite freedom of action.
The main issue here is that the orc looks like a warrior, not as a fat, lousy leader. But if I replaced the arms for some others not so powerful, then I could make him look fat, given that belly. So that was the solution. I used pieces from GW 'The Hobbit' not-goblins (you know, the ones I used as mutants). Specifically both arms and the head. For the helmet I used the chamber pot of the hanging scribe with the spikes from the Golin King crown. Apart from all that, I thought that a coat would reinforce the idea of being a big fish.

So I came to this
Voilà! The paintjob itself has been quite quick, I didn't want to make much more complication out of this model.

Where is my breakfast!? Where is it!?
So it starts! I'll be bringing more characters over here!

Monday, 30 January 2017

Tiny Muppets of Twilight

Some more little critters from the World of Twilight ranges. I love these, I really do. There is something about their very concept that makes me think of... bliss, I don't know. It's difficult to explain. Tiny furry monsters in the best Jim Henson style. So the 'muppet' word on the title is used with true love and respect.

It's pointless to digress more when you can see what I mean by yourselves:

That's it. Groaaaarrrr
Yeah, I got fired from that Labyrinth movie
Well, cousin, I never got a role in that movie in the first place
Added bonus:

Yabba Dabba Doo!
Seriously, these designs are pure genius. What's not to love about them. With these I've finished the little critters batch, now I can move on bigger minis. Still a lot to come!

Friday, 27 January 2017

Ballads of War 1 x 06

A new page, where the purpose of the mission is revealed:

Right, you can see this is just a RPG taken to a comic :P
I think the Rogue Trader atmosphere is embedded in my mind, so a story set in this universe needed a strong adventure-like taste, not a mere pew-pew.
That's why I didn't see an issue in having Eldar and Tau interacting with lowlife humans within my narrative. This was one of the major feedback concerns I got from some people; they simply didn't conceive that members of these three species would even talk to each other without a proper mutual shooting. I tried to argue that the Xenos were on a ship that was taken down and they were trying to get out of the planet using local human outlaws, as that was the only option they faced, being isolated survivors on the surface of an Imperial planet. They were contacting the kind of people who wouldn't care that much who the employer was as long as the pay was good. For me that made sense in my RT way of understanding WH40K, but apparently it wasn't a popular point of view back in the day within the 'orthodoxy'. Well, of course some years later GW came with the allied rules again (kind as they already existed in 2nd Ed, ahem) and then the problem suddenly seemed to fade away for these people. The gurus had spoken.


Let's focus on the page. There is a lot of information here. What could make two Eldar Harlequins and a Tau settle such a strange company? Why were all of them on board of a Tau ship? What's that misterious piece of tech they want to get so bad? Wait... that gold ingot-stuff... has Necron iconography on it? (don't worry, it's unlikely that a common Imperial citizen gets to recognise that)

Hmmm, those are a lot of questions. Maybe (only maybe) you can get some answers in future pages. You will have to keep on reading to discover it...
For now you can read the previous pages HERE.

I'd love to hear your ideas on the 'controversy' and anything else you fancy. Not that we're on time to make them influence future pages, I'm afraid, but all feedback is highly appreciated.

PS: I promise I'll have some minis painted soon! :D

Monday, 23 January 2017

Ballads of War 1x05

I've scanned and prepared a new page:

Now we are getting acquainted with the character and his misterious background, and we are moving onto some even more misterious people wandering through the belly of the underhive. 'At least a Xeno', I hear? What was that on the news about a defeated Tau fleet? Maybe a survivor looking for shelter or for a way of fleeing out? We'll have to wait for the next page to know!

You have the first four pages HERE (but honestly, not that anything had happened yet! We're just getting started!)

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Gaudí and the lizards

Titles for this project are becoming increasingly delirious. But it's all for a reason, believe me.
For this new batch of creatures from the World of Twilight setting I tried something new. Don't ask me why, but a recurring image was coming to mind when fiddling with the minis. If you have ever been in Barcelona you may have visited the Park Güell (don't worry, just pronounce it Park Well, sounds remarkably close enough). Designed by Antoni Gaudí (the modernist architect of those curvy buildings in the postcards), it contains, among others, this salamander:

Colourful lizard. Couldn't take it out of my mind.

The association of ideas was immediate. Of course we all agree that the pattern on the ceramic would be a little too much for these 28mm minis, but hey, inspiration comes frome the less expected sources!
So I tried a blue pattern with some yellow/orange stains, and then something similar but in red for the other guy. Here's the result.

Dammit. That's why Gaudí got his own Wikipedia article and I don't
Anyway, once I got the Gaudí inspiration, I dared to do some more gaudy work (ouch, terrible pun) on more creatures.

Nope, not a traffic light
I also managed to paint these other three, once again leaving my prejudices back, setting my mind (and brush) free until I got some fresh, colourful animals:

With these colours, they must be poisonous as hell
Here you have some overhead shots:

Getting these painted in such vibrant colours is equally refreshing and challenging. One never knows what is going to work until you just go for it and see it in the flesh. For the moment I'm happy with this turn of events. Not that much ago I was painting dirty mutants in the dullest palette posible and now I'm going just the opposite way, to a Hindu Holi festival :D
More World of Twilight to come!

Saturday, 14 January 2017

A WH40K (old) comic. First pages

Hi there! I'm daring to bring chaos and mayhem upon you! Well, maybe not that much, but you may want to roll for sanity after this.
I briefly told you about this some time ago, let me elaborate before I show you anything. Long, long time ago (twelve years now!) I decided to begin a series of comics set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. I had been drawing, doodling and making some standalone amateur comics for a while, and I got the sting of taking it to the level of actually conducting a story told in a mini collection. Narratively that would be a challenge, planning the script for a determined number of pages per volume and a determined number of volumes. You know, art shit. Ahem.

I chose the 40K universe for a number of reasons. First -and more important- because I liked it! Nuff said. Well, some more explanation. I could have done a story of my own, but at that moment I was quite into 40K fluff, and it gave a strong point of start, with a whole universe created, in which I didn't need to take 'general background' decisions, as all the aesthetics and the main design decisions were made for me; that would make it easier, I just had to fit my story into it. It was going to be my first fanfic so, what the hell, let's go.
I wasn't doing it on a strict Rogue Trader basis. By 2005 I don't even think the Oldhammer movement was a thing, or at least I didn't know of it. I was happy to embrace the WH40K fluff as it was then (5th Edition was it?), but of course the imprint of how I conceive this universe was easy to see. Less grimdark (within its parameters) and more RPG/adventure/mixture of stuff. If I had to quote an inspiration, it would absolutely be the early Dan Abnett (not that much the current).

I took a graphic novel approach, kind of European comics take. 8 volumes 64 pages each, with some additional contents in the form of appendixes, with additional info about the whole background. I guess the Alan Moore influence was quite evident, hehe (I mean, when he still was a living genius, before quitting the comic world once and again and again, becoming a Chaos magician and that stuff, you know).

I guess I never hoped to see it finished, being such an ambitious project. In fact I only got to finish the first volume, the second one being left with roughly half of it done. The main reason, of course, was life itself, but it wasn't the only one. In fact I got several kind of harsh reviews from close people who didn't share at all my envisionment of the story. They didn't feel, for example, that xenos could play a role in the story as I was telling it, or that a human would even talk to one. I guess I hadn't noticed, but the then-current fluff had evolved quite a bit since my days, and some decisions that were natural to me in my RT set of mind (border planets without law, fugitives trading xenos tech-stuff, Eldar Craftworlds actually trading with human worlds...) seemed totally alien to people who had approached first to the grimdark nature of 40K in the later days. I believe that was the first time I realised 40K was leading towards a different direction from what I liked.
OK, long story short. When I was in the middle of the second volume, chaos, entropy and mayhem arrived to the story. Matt Ward wrote the Necron bullshit Codex. Then it all changed. The ten years of established background went all through the drain and the Necrons then had a totally different way of being understood; with them a big part of the whole 40K background. Some parts were acceptable, but some others changed the role Necrons and C'Tans were to play in my story in a way really hard to reconcile with the general direction I was heading to. I could save the obstacle, of course, but some time later, Matt Ward wrote that absurd Grey Knights Codex. And no one in GW said a word!!
 So well, I noticed that the whole background I was using for my work was out of my control, and that people like the ones I told earlier (some would call them fanboys, but that won't be me) were actually right, my story was increasingly diverting from the 'approved official background'. It all was highly disencouraging.

For me this was the point I declared myself out of the way GW was managing their own IP. I guess I was already an Oldhammerer then, though I didn't know there was a word for me! :D

OK, I quitted then. Maybe I should have done it all mine in the first place, with my own background and all, but on the whole I don't regret of what I did then. I was learning, and as a learning exercise it was a really good practice. The only thing I regret is not having drawn back again since then.

The fact is that I've decide to scan what I have and post it over here, on an irregular basis. Whenever I have a page scanned and translated (you know, I originally wrote this in my mother tongue) I'll be posting it. I'm posting the first four pages as a starter today. Please excuse the amateur style, the poor quality scan, the obvious binding, my mistakes in English and the looong etc you are about to discover...

What I present here is:
1. Cover.
2. Plain text of the inside cover.
3. Page 1.
4. Double splash, pages 2-3.
5. Page 4.

Issue #1 Cover
 The inside cover had this text:

[...] The events that have eventually given shape to what we currently call the Wars of the Hammer are still a matter of study and analysis. Though it is too early to extract any conclusions yet, the job of a good Historicus is compiling all the objective data available while the sources are still accesible. Everyone agrees to point out that the Wars of the Hammer are one of the most relevant events in the recent history of the Imperium. They were a number of events that, in a relatively short period of time, unraveled in very different places and involved extraordinary stories implicating whole planets, whole systems, whole races.
We could understand that the events that led into the Xenic Alliance are, in their own way, magnificent, exceptional, incredible. Scholars always present them that way. But the truth is that those things we afterwards call the big stories are always a sum of tiny matters that only draw the interest of a few.
Those actual stories are made of people. Specific, individual, real people. Prienne, Bajakian, Lords Calgar and Tu'Shan, General Grom, Eldar Ulthran and Ellinderelion... All of them had a larger or smaller role in the Wars, they got involved in one moment or anoher. Names. A lot of names revolving around one other single name. Beronis. Brenteus Beronis. His story is the story of these events, and without understanding the turmoil of his life, the Wars of the Hammer cannot be understood.
If we were to set a point of start, we could talk about when he was but a simple fugitive...

From 'A Study of the So Called Wars of the Hammer'
Historicus Naevius Maro.
Imperial Library. 982.M41

Well, you can see what I was talking about. For the moment it's just the introduction of the leading character and stablishing a setting. I love the concept of hive cities, it's one of the most distinctive elements of te whole 40K universe, it looked like a proper place where to start.

It's all pencils and acrylics. The double splash (an A3 size) took me about two months of sporadically dotting the tiny lights of the hive with the brush. Dot, dot, dot, dot, period. Unfortunately the dusk effect ruined the whole scene.

I believe I've written enough for a day, hehe. If you reached this point I hope to have caught part of your attention. All the comments (including, of course, harsh criticism) are most welcome :)