I have had a long and lasting love affair with The Dark Tower series; it is one of the novel series that has resonated with me, and still does so. When I first read it about ten years ago, I was captivated by the characters and world setting, and that hasn’t changed. Periodically, I have gone back and read the first three and a half books, but usually stopped part way through the fourth. Now that I listen to audio books while painting, I found the perfect opportunity to listen to the whole tale again.
Let’s get a picture of The Gunslinger in here, for it is his story after all:
Good points of the story the second time around include how amazingly well written the characters are. From the smallest role to the largest, all the characters have a surprisingly well developed sense of purpose and self. I remember taking nearly three books to decide whether I liked Roland and that when I did, it was a whirlwind. The same applies on the second reading, though perhaps not as intensely. The pace of the first four books is intense and keeps you reading, or listening, even when you know what is going to happen.
What surprised me too is the amount of phrases I use in day to day language that come from this series. Language I had forgotten the source of, phrases like ‘never in life’ and ‘say true?’ just became part of my language. It has a poetic ring to it certainly, and the different accents and nuances contained within the Dark Tower are wide and varied. The world setting is dense, detailed and wide, it is a real treat to read about and journey through. Nothing in this story is coincidence. Everything happens for a reason and the smallest detail in book one unfolds into a big part of the later story. The forward thinking of the author is incredible.
I’m still not sold on Stephen King writing himself into the story.
Everything else about the tale is great, I laughed, I cried and was taken along an emotional journey with the characters; still caught up in their lives despite knowing what happened. If you only ever read one (set of) books again, make it The Dark Tower!
A long time ago, I was once told that what makes a miniature look great is ‘bases and faces’. I always remembered this, maybe because it rhymes, so I have set aside some time to really think about how I am going to improve creating bases. For basic miniatures, I am happy to stick to using texture paints, however I want to stretch myself and try new things as well.
I have recently started collecting Ioneth Deepkin – so new that I have only assembled twelve of the miniatures, and have been thinking about a theme for them. I love water effects but wanted to look at something a bit different than just have them as a generic sea based force. I thought about different biomes within the water and settled upon a swamp theme. I shall be using greens and browns for the force themselves but more of that when I get to them.
I began by using water effects paint and seeing what it looked like over sand:
I also used plastic from the blister packs to try and create waves and splashes. They look ok, not great, and not very swampy. Alright for a first play around though.
I then thought about what a swamp looks like, and used Pinterest to do some research. I discovered that swamps have a lot of reeds and plants in them and have a green and brown look to the water as well. So I painted some bases, put different materials on for land. This is how they turned out:
I think the little plants and the reeds look good. I also really like the sand and the dark brown mud texture paint. I think the green on the bottm of the base it too green though. To me, it looks more like slime than the sludge at the bottom of a swamp. I want to try this again with a browner paint. I also want to try and see if I can add swamp weed into the water. This will take more than one layer of the texture paint however and might be reserved for the character bases.
It is a good start however, and I have a lot of ways forward to explore.
I finally finished this guy! What a fun miniature he was to work on as well. He fell into my basket at Element Games and I couldn’t be bothered to put him back on the shelf. I thought he looked pretty cool, though I had no idea who he was at the time. I wanted to try creating a lava effect on his wings and so tried a technique out that I wasn’t sure whether it would work or not:
I am not convinced this is the best I could do, but I think it looks alright for a first try. I got the idea from one of the Mephiston short stories – he creates lava wings to go fight a daemon or something like that – and want to recreate that scene in a diorama (more on that later). I did try and make some lava drops out of UHU Glue but they looked terrible so I didn’t bother with them.
For now though, I am pleased with this guy and learned a great deal while painting him too!
When I was a teacher, we used to assess our own skills using a system of rating yourself out of 10 against several key areas. It helped with self reflection and was a valuable tool when it came to setting yourself targets. I thought I would do something similar with my hobby skills and then set about improving them as the year goes on. I made a list of skills – as many as I could think of, and rated myself out of 10 for each of them:
As you can see, I have been thought through this a fair bit and rated myself as I see fit.
Areas I want to improve, or need to work on the most would be Object Source Lighting, Skin Tones and Battle Damage. I am not terrible at them, but I want to get better. These are the key weak points in my skills.
As for Non-Metallic Metals, I want to learn how to do brighter gold shades and improve my silver before branching out and attempting others, such as copper.
Freehand is perhaps my strongest skill, though I know I am not perfect at that – is anyone ever perfect at a skill? It doesn’t mean I don’t want to continue to work on it though. I am far from complaicent with it and know I can do a lot more and a lot better as well.
I have the whole year ahead to improve my painting skills and techniques and to try different things as well. I shall revisit this list in a few months time and see what I have done to improve those areas I am not so sure about.
I finished the Lord of Change today and I am glad I did so. I am glad to get the miniature off the table and into the cabinet so I no longer have to look at it. Not because the miniature is terrible, I just lost enthusiasm for it and wanted it done.
I started off using the airbrush to base coat it and try the blending on the wings. I have tried to use a mainly blue/green/yellow colour palette for the miniature, and I think this worked out well. I am especially pleased with the colour over the silver – watered down contrast paint – on the wings and the head of the staff:
I am not too thrilled with how the gold has turned out, but don’t think it looks awful. I’m glad to call the project done, and all in all, it’s not too bad. I did learn from it and that is the important part!
I love painting Space Marines, so it always pleases me to be able to do so. I have some intercessors and seeing how the others sold really well, and I had some left over bits, I decided to make another squad of Iron Hands. I’m really pleased with how they have turned out, and I think I am getting rather decent at painting black armour as well. I like how the spots of highlight have worked this time as well.
The face also looks good in my eyes; faces are something I want to continue to develop this year and this is a good start.
If you are interested in purchasing these minatures, they are available in the store: http://www.blackhandmarines.com/store