Thursday, January 31, 2013

Warhammer 101: Painting your army- the basics

Welcome back Warhammer gamers!

In my eternal quest to help new members of our hobby I bring you my next Warhammer 101 article, this one will discuss the first steps of painting your army.

Painting your army is what separates us from animals, yet many gamers stay away from this step.  Painting is important, it's part of the hobby, nothing ruins the immersion of a game like playing against an army of gray plastic and silver pewter.  Painting your miniatures shows that you are committed to your army and the game that you play.

Yes it does take time, but it's not as difficult as you think and painting can be very very rewarding.

I hear you cry, "Crazy Gamer, I'm not artistic and I don't have a lot of time!"

Here are my answers, young student:

1.  You don't have to be an artist or even artistic to paint your army.  I sure as hell am neither.
2.  If you learn evil tips and tricks from criminal masterminds you can paint an army quickly.

Young warrior, take heart, I am one of these evil masterminds! 

A story!

Once, ages ago in an era of dinosaurs and dial up modems, the Crazy Gamer painted a full army in two weeks.  Golden Daemon worthy?  Hardly, but it was quick and effective.  Now I will tell you how. 

First you need to decide a paint scheme.  Games Workshop, for all its flaws, does a good job in their army books and codexes of showing you options for color schemes to paint in.  I recommend that unless it's very very important to choose an established color scheme. 

For example, if you are playing Space Marines choose Ultramarines, Salamanders, Crimson Fists, etc.
Playing Empire, choose Hochland, Middenland, or one of their established provinces. 


Games Workshop already provides the names of what paints you need to use to paint those armies.  This takes some of the guess work out of the experience. 

Some tips:

Dark colors are easier than bright colors.  Yellow and white are both very difficult colors to work with, so Dark Angels and Crimson Fists are easier to paint than Imperial Fists and White Scars.  High Elves are more difficult to paint than Dark Elves. 

All things being equal choose dark colors over bright ones at least for your first paint job.  They take less time to look good and dark colors hide mistakes better.

Avoid yellow unless you really really really want a yellow army (i.e. Imperial Fists, Averland Empire, Biel Tan Eldar).

What paints to use?

This is tricky.  There are a bunch of companies that offer paints.  I recommend Games Workshop paints.  Are they the best?  They are average, but for your first paint job it simplifies the process of figuring out what paint to use. 

What paint brushes should you get?

Here are some types of brushes:

You don't need a lot of these but I recommend a big flat brush and several round brushes. 

Where should you get them?

For your big flat brush I recommend going to a big box art store like Michael's or Hobby Lobby.  They have brush sets for very low prices.  I bought one several years ago at Michael's that contained all the brushes above for $5.99.  They won't be high quality but with your big brush this isn't as important. 

How big should your big flat brush be? 

This may come as a bit of a surprise but a flat brush should be about half an inch in width.  For those of you who aren't big on how big stuff is, your miniatures are 28mm which is approximately one inch so look for one that his about half as big as your miniatures. 

This seems big, but I will be discussing the big brush method of painting and you need a big brush to employ this method (I know, you're shocked). 

As for your round brushes.  You need several, for your primary brush I recommend a 5/1 round brush made from camel hair.  Compared to the flat brush described above this will seem tiny.  These also are very expensive as a single brush of this type is probably $10.00.  There are several cheaper versions made from sable and or various artificial substances.  These will be cheaper but they will not last anywhere near as long as a natural hair brush. 

You will also need at least one fine detail brush,  labeled 10/1 which looks like this:

This is will be used for eyes and the like.  This paint brush will also be very expensive and I also recommend natural hair (camel is the best). 

Once you get all of this we will discuss the first step of the big brush painting method. 

Step one of the Big Brush Painting method.

1.  Choose your dominant color.  The dominant color will be the color that takes up the majority of the model.  Here are some examples:

These orks are predominately green so the dominant color is green.

Blood Angels:

This should be an easy one, the dominant color is red.

Empire State soldiers:

This is a tough one, you could choose either red or silver.

2.  Once you've chosen your dominant color (be aware I used basic color terms above, go to Games Workshop to see what the names of the paints are) get your big flat brush and your pot of paint.  You will also need a paper towel, a water cup (some kind of disposable container), and a paint palette (official ones can be bought at hobby stores.  In a pinch you can use a paper plate).

Also make sure that you cover the area you are going to paint in with newspaper or something to protect whatever surface you will be working on.

Take your dominant color and thin it down.  It is never a good idea to use paint right out of the pot.  Miniatures have a lot of detail and because you are painting miniatures and not bigs these details are very small.  The paint that you are using is acrylic which is just a fancy art word for liquid plastic.  This can cause several problems, thick paint will obscure fine details like noses, eyes, and fingers and the like.  Also, depending on how the paint is stored it can clump up. 

The moral of the story is thin your paint, it's cheap and easy.  Fancy artists will tell you to use an official paint conditioner (if you find it cheap I recommend it as well) but water can be used in a pinch. 

The amount of thinning will depend on the color of the paint.  Yellows and whites need less, black and flesh colors need more.  Try a drop or two of water (or conditioner).  Your paint should be the consistency of skim milk.   The color should still be clear, not watery.  If you thin the paint too much don't worry, you're much better off with really thin paint than paint that is too thick.  You can still use the overly thin paint, you will just have to apply an extra coat or two.

Take your big brush (the one that's about an inch in width) and pour (and thin) the dominant color.  Get your brush full of paint:

Paint the color on all the parts of the model that will be that color.  For example if you are painting Blood Angels, then paint the armor red. 

If you paint somethings that will not be the dominant color by mistake it's okay.  Your goal is to have a bright solid color on the largest surface and to do it quickly.

Your models should look like this:


Make sure that you paint ALL your models who have this dominant color.  Don't just paint one or two models.  Paint them all before going on to the next step.

Coming soon!  The next step.  Picking out details!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Warhammer 101: The armies- Dark Angels

The Dark Angels are back!

This time on Warhammer 101 I will discuss the newest  Warhammer 40,000 codex: Dark Angels

For those not in the know the Dark Angels are a space marine army.  I have already written a Warhammer 101 article on Space Marines, but I thought I'd give an update on this newest of Codexes.

First the Dark Angels have many units in common with regular Space Marines.  If you have any of the following then you can use them in a Dark Angels army:

Space Marine Commander
Command Squad
Tactical Squad
Scout Squad
Drop Pod
Assault Squad
Land Raider (all variants)
Land Speeders (except the Storm variant)

The Dark Angels have two primary differences from the regular Space Marine list.

The Deathwing- Dark Angels have their own Terminator elite troops.  Unlike regular space marines, the Deathwing isn't split up into assault and shooty terminators.  The Deathwing can have all combinations from both the assault and shooty tactical versions (with a few more toys).  It is also worth noting that the Dark Angels don't use power armor veterans (i.e. Sternguard and Vanguard veterans). 

The Ravenwing- This is all the Dark Angel fast stuff.  Land Speeders, bikes, attack bikes, and a few jets.

These all have specialized kits so make sure you get the right ones.

This all begs the question:

"What if I play regular space marines, but I want to use the new shiny codex?"

My answer is use the Dark Angel codex.  It is likely that the next regular Codex Space Marines will be very similar to the Dark Angels.  The Dark Angels Codex is more viable in the current game than the original space marine one.  As long as you don't buy the Ravenwing jets and specialized land speeders everything else will have a place in the next marine codex. 

This then begs the question:

"Can't I just wait?"

Sure, but the Dark Angels are more tactically flexible.  Also you will likely be waiting for a long time.  The next Codex: Space Marines is not currently on any release forecast for this year.  You really don't have anything to lose by using the Dark Angels book.  Only two kits won't be available for the next marine list (Nephilim jet fighter and the  Land Speeder Darkshroud).  Sure you can't use scout bikers or sternguard and vanguard veterans but that's life.  Still recommend the Dark Angel book over the Space Marine book unless you love a special character from the Marine book.

Have fun!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Warhammer 101: The primer on primer

Crazy gamer here with a (hopefully) helpful article on primer.

In the past I've discussed issues such as what different armies bring to the table (hopefully I'll have time to finish those soon), and about the tools you need to clean and assemble your models.  Now I will give a bit of advice about the first step of the painting process.

Everyone should paint their Warhammer armies.  Several noted scientists have discovered that having painted miniatures will make you more successful in life and at least 10 times more attractive to the opposite sex.*

Furthermore 94 of the 100 richest people in the world have at least one painted army.**So it goes without saying that you should paint your models.

Some people get scared of painting, and instead become CCG players (that's collectible card games for those of you who don't speak geek).  This is sad though!  Don't be scared!  You don't have to be Picasso to paint a decent looking army (besides have you seen what that guy painted?  I've seen four year olds paint things that make more sense, but I digress...)

I'm here to help!

The first step to painting is priming.  Priming is an initial layer of  thin matte paint that helps future coats of paint "stick," to your miniature.  This is an essential step but is one that many beginners skip (or are never made aware of) to their detriment. 

Do yourself a favor and prime your models.  If your miniatures could talk they would thank you if you do.

First, pick the type of primer that you want to use:

Spray Primer

Spray primer is the most common type of primer.  It comes in a variety of colors and is made by several different manufactures.  Make sure that the paint can says "primer," because if it doesn't it probably isn't primer.

A few notes:

Spray primer is a tricky beast, even for gaming veterans.  In order to use spray primer you will need a large, ventilated room that is free of anything you don't want primer on.  Spray primer is very very toxic so make sure you have ventilation! 

Next, follow the directions!  Men usually don't like to read directions, but make an exception this time (I won't tell anyone I promise) as this will save you money. 

If you are going to prime, pay attention to the temperature and humidity of where you are at.  If the humidity is more than 50% don't prime!!!!!  You will get a fuzzy texture to your models that is almost impossible to get off and will hurt your final product.  Also, if the temperature is more than 80 degrees and you are priming outside (always a good place because of ventilation) don't prime with black primer in the sun.  The sun will melt your models.  Also, don't prime on a breezy day as you can also get the fuzzy texture described above. 

I'm sure that the paragraph above makes you think that I'm a worry wort (whatever the hell that is) but I can't stress this enough... Plastic models are almost impossible to repair if you prime them incorrectly.  Metal models can be stripped using several substances (interestingly brake fluid is the cheapest and most effective method) but plastic is very difficult to save.  Resin is as difficult as plastic and even more expensive.  The bottom line is: MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING BEFORE YOU START SPRAYING!!!

Helpful tip- if you wear glasses take them off when you prime.  Primer will stick to your lenses.

Because of the inherent difficulty of using spray primer, you may want to consider using hand primer. 

No, I'm not talking about finger painting, this isn't preschool.  You use primer that is in the form of a bottle of paint and apply it with a paint brush.   Do not simply use black or white paint, it should be specifically created as a primer.  Games Workshop makes a decent bottle primer and several other companies do as well. 

Some tips! 

You're not painting during this step.  Use a big brush, the bigger the better. 

With all primer, less is more.  You're much better off applying several thin coats then one thick coat.  Yes it takes more time, but you don't want your miniatures to look like Mr. Potato Head do you? 

Thin the primer down!  It helps avoid applying it too thickly and will help your bottle last longer.  I recommend two parts primer one part water.  What does this mean for you non artists?  Your primer should be the consistency of milk.  It will start off like oil, if you get water you've added too much...well water... I guess this isn't my most poetic blog entry...

At any rate experiment, but know that you won't hurt your miniatures if you get the primer too thin.  Oh!!! but realize the thinner the paint the more it will get all over the place.  Use paper towels and wear clothes that you don't mind getting paint on.


Primer comes in all shades, but for our purposes only two matter: black and white.

Advantages of white primer:  White primer should be used for armies that have a predominately white color scheme. 

I don't recommend white primer unless you plan on painting a White Scars.  White primer is much more difficult to work with than black primer. 

Advantages of black primer:  Black primer has countless advantages, not least of all:

Gives you a natural shade
Makes mistakes less noticeable
Cool colors paint over it well

And more!

Some artists claim that black primer will not allow a painter to get his or her colors as bright as a white primer.  It is true, but unless you aspire to be a Golden Daemon painter painting a select range of armies, it really won't matter for us average souls.

See you later!

*Not even sort of.  Come on, you thought I was telling you the truth?  I've got a bridge I want to sell you
**Please make a check out to me in the amount of one million dollars.  Don't worry, the bank will know that it's a joke, honest. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What the Crazy Gamer is looking forward to in 2013

Hello all, I hope the holidays treated you well!

With the arrival of the new year I thought I'd take a minute and tell you what I'm looking forward to playing in 2013.

1. Ni Nu Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch- PS3

This is a RPG from the famed developer Level-5.  Here are some screens:

As a kid I loved cartoons and Wrath of the White Witch is like playing a cartoon!  If you like RPG's then you owe it to yourself to check this out.

2.  Fire Emblem: Awakenings 3DS

Fire Emblem is Nintendo's brutally difficult turn based strategy franchise.  For years the series offered intense strategic challenge, but was hampered by ugly graphics and features that hadn't been updated for decades.  This spring that is set to change as this is looking to have a graphical overhaul and a bunch of new features.  Comes out in early February.

3.  Castlevania Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate 3DS

This is the 3DS follow up to 2010's Castlevania Lords of Shadow.  Unlike that title, this goes back to the series roots with a modified side scroll style.  I thought Mercury Steam's first foray into Castlevania was brilliant and I think this will be the same.  This is released in early March.

That's it folks!  I've only included games that I know have a solid release date.  As for other games that don't have solid release dates, I look forward to Luigi's Mansion 2 for 3DS but that's about it. 

Until next time folks!