Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Poor start

[Slump] Ok, well for all my talk, month 1 has been a disaster. NO miniatures painted. Not one. So I've had to play a Joker. It's genuinely depressing to have to admit defeat like this. Let's see if I can do better over the next week.

Monday, 6 September 2010

The tragedy of a failed painter (TOFP)

Huff...pufff...pant..Ok, stop charging now. It's over.

Well, after my last over-confident post, it's maybe with no surprise that I reveal I didn't manage to complete my 2000pts in time to complete the Tale of Fantasy Painters (TOFP) 2009-10. Not for want of trying, though. I worked long into the wee small hours for weeks, right up to the very last day, but alas, two things stopped my completing on time (apart from the fact that I should never have left myself 700pts to do in one month):

1. Since having a kid, my body clock has changed. I didn't want it to change, or mean it to change, but lo and behold, all those mornings of getting up early to look after baby have transformed me from a night owl (usually going to bed at 4am), to a begrudging morning person (usually falling asleep on the sofa by 10.30pm). A "lie in" used to mean "get up at lunchtime". Now a "lie in" means "get up at 7.30".

This is a disasterous development for my painting ambitions, because 10pm - 4am has traditionally been my time. Not wifey's time; not baby's time; my time. Without my time, when the hell am I ever going to find time to paint?

2. While it's generally a good strategy to paint all your boring rank and file troops at the start and reward yourself with the more spendid pieces at the end (heck, if TOFP is good for nothing else, it makes you slog through those hard-to-complete core troops), it's easy to underestimate just how much time you need to work on the juicy projects.

After months of trying to paint as fast as possible, you're suddenly faced with painting models that people might actually want to look at; that your reputation as a painter might actually rest on. So the thought of rattling through your elite troops and your general just doesn't sit well.

I tried to rush them through and cut corners, but I just couldn't do it. As I worked, new ideas for converted details occured to me and I experimented to see if they were worth pursuing (some were, some weren't). But faced with a 700pts-in-two-weeks deadline, you're not allowed the luxury of experimentation. Convert by all means, but only iof you're very fast, experienced with the old green stuff, and you have a clear idea of what you want the finished thing to look like (I tick the "none of the above" box).

So I failed. My final total was 1305pts and I requested to be moved from the so-called 200pts-in-a-year "men's" league to the paltry-1000pts-in-a-year "boys" league (adding imasculating insult to injury).

But hey, that's 1305pts that I definitely would not have painted if I hadn't joined. And I'm really proud of whatI've done. And it was great being part of the community too.

So what if I failed? I've signed myself up for 2000pts more Dark Elves next year, so I'll just carry the remainder over.

Keep painting!

Monday, 16 August 2010

The tale of fantasy painters 2009-2010

I've been following the Tale of Fantasy Painters (TOFP) on the excellent Warseer forums for a couple of years now with interest. If you haven't seen it, it's a great idea to encourage gamers to get their armies painted: you simply promise to paint 200 points of figures each month and post a picture of what you've done. After a year you've got yourself a 2000pt army. Simple.

There's no prize and nothing to stop you from dropping out, but the positive comments and good wishes you get from the other board members give you the encouragement to complete your army - and that brings it's own reward.

Now, my painting rate has been (and this isn't a joke, I've done the maths) three figures per year. I've found that buying figures is a much easier way of engaging with the hobby than actually painting them. The time has come to stop buying and start painting the little blighters.

So last year I decided to join in. First off: what to choose. I have a huge collection of figures, many still in the plastic wrap, all waiting to be painted. So open to me were: Orcs, Empire, Daemons, Warriors of Chaos, Wood Elves, High Elves, Dark Elves, Ogre Kingdoms and Vampire Counts (yes, I really do own about 2000pts of all of those armies, all still on the sprue. I can hardly believe it myself).

Some of those armies I have pretty ambitious plans for, so they can wait for now. The best candidate was Dark Elves. I'd already glued together a bunch of core troops, I had an idea for a look/theme, and the points cost of the models is quite high, so 200pts per month didn't seem that daunting.

It's now the 12th and final month of the challenge and it's been a crazy ride. It's been such a battle to overcome my innate laziness and skills at procrastination but I've got to say, the little TOFP voice on your shoulder really does work. OK, so I've played six jokers (that's where you don't submit anything that month with the promise of making up the points later), meaning that this month I have to paint a whapping 700pts to reach my 2000pt target, but heck, I actually have 1300pts painted! I've had those models hanging around for about six years, so I'm well and truly chuffed to bits. I'll show you what I've done in a separate post.

There have been some months where I've had to work into the wee small hours to get the things finished. And yes, sometimes you do have to compromise on quality a bit to get the things finished on time. But the amazing sense of satisfaction you get from posting up your 200pts is fantastic. And oh, the shame and disappointment when you have to play a Joker...

If you do manage your 200 point target, then the kind people on the forum post nice comments about your models. And you post nice comments back. It's like a blissful love-in; like a sweaty, communal bath for the exhausted players after a football match, with lots of positive strokes and ego fondling. Mmmm, feel that warm community spirit.

So every day this month I've been modelling and painting like a mad man to complete my 2000pts. Right now I'm feeling the agony of the long-distance runner but the finish line is in sight. And even though my eyes and fingers are bleeding, I've signed myself up for the TOFP 2010-2011 with not one, not two, but THREE armies (er, ok, that might be pushing it).

So all in all, I can heartily recommend signing up for it. And if you do, let me know how you get on.

But enough chatter, I have 700pts to paint in 15 days. Chaarrrge!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The start of something wonderful

Welcome to my Warhammer blog. I bought Warhammer at the turn of the new millennium but have been feeding GW a steady trickle of money for the past 25 years. The games interest me, but the models and scenery interest me more. That said, the sum total of my achievements over that period amount to a few dozen half-painted models and a "games" room (I never get to play any games) chock full of boxes and boxes of GW produce - all bought on impulse and most still in their cellophane wrappers.

I'll admit it, I'm a GW addict. Sure there are other companies out there making better games and better miniatures (cheaper too) but GW is the one that I grew up with and it's the one I can't bring myself to veer away from. Each new release from GW gets my tail wagging and like a tortured puppy still loyal to its abusive owner, I rush out and give them all my money. Over the last ten years you could say that my hobby is no longer playing the games or painting the models - it has become storing: I buy boxes of miniatures and I store them away in cupboards.

At least, that's how it looks to a casual observer. Little do they know that there is a world where all my models have been extensively and imaginatively converted and beautifully painted in subtle and original colour schemes. A world where fully-painted armies stand to attention in delicate glass display cabinets; resin-cast original sculpts improve upon the weakest of GW's designs garnering respect and adulation from fellow hobbyists and GW design studio bosses alike; breath-taking battlefields and terrain portray the breadth and scope of the Warhammer universe in all it's baroque and mysterious glory. And all in a sopisticated, attractive games room with ample storage and room for a spare bed if required.

But where is this world, I hear you ask? It is of course, in my head. My whole life I have been cursed with an imagination that far outstretches my ability; a creative spirit devoid of energy; capability without ambition. So how does this creative spirit manifest itself? Well, usually by me scribbling on bits of paper: to-do lists of what I would do and in what order; doodles of what my models would look like if I converted or sculpted them myself; army lists that would look cool on the battlefield; additional rules and scenarios for games that I would use if ever I got the opportunity.

Well, scribbling little notes and mumbling to yourself about all your grand plans does not a hobby make. It's borderline schizophrenia.

Hence this blog.

Maybe, this is just going to be an electronic version of my little scribblings and to-do lists and nothing more will come of it. But maybe, just maybe, this will spur me on to turn all the cr*p that's inside my frustrated, cluttered, disorganised brain into reality. I can make excuses about not having enough time (actually, I really don't have enough time) but really it all comes down to will power and organisational skills.

So welcome to my blog. I hope I can fill these pages with real life projects, or at least a bunch of cool stuff, that might interest or inspire you.