Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Orlygg's Hobby Review 2015

With the turning of the year closer than ever, these last few days often become a time of reflection and critique, and having been feeling thoroughly uninspired on the painting front lately, it feels right to start thinking about what I accomplished over the last 12 months. I need a lift in my hobby spirits you see!

A couple of other bloggers have attempted similar things, and indeed, browsing through their body of work from the last twelve months has been highly inspirational and really got me wanting to whack paint on lead again. The dreary winter nights and the lack of decent natural light really put me off my stride, you see. 

Matthew Sullivan ( over on Oldenhamer in Toronto  ) is one such individual, and he has managed to clock up an impressive 161 miniatures in that time. Wow! And if you are not a follower of his blog, I am not talking about 161 basecoat and dip plastic randoms, but an incredible collection of highly quality painted models that stretch from the classic Citadel Gothic Horrors range (of which he painted 18 individual figures) to 73 Star Wars assault miniatures! 

Matthew's Talisman Samurai really made my eyes pop with its gorgeous riot of colours. I am sure that you will agree that he has a beautiful highlighting technique and can produce crisp, sharp colour without any bleaching or fading when lighter paint is added. I am particularly taken with the approach he has used to create that all important depth in his painting and I am guessing he uses a black undercoat and works up the colours. A truly terrific piece and inspiration enough to get me going with something suitably bright and exciting. 

Axoim, of Magpie and Old Lead, also posted a blog about the year in review, only he had been even more prolific that Matthew. with 173 'things' painted, and that includes scenery too! He also fared very well on the gaming front and if you spend any real time on his blog you will quickly see how much effort and time goes into his gaming sessions. And talk about ambitious, he has only gone and created a 'hobby performance' graph to track his development over the last few years. 

Impressive stuff, which helps rekindle the painting flame within old Orlygg, especially with Axoim sharing interesting painted figures like these eldar. 

So what of me, then? How did I fair this year? To be honest, I haven't a clue. But I can flick back through this blog and have a glance over the painted models I produced during the past year and complete a rough tally. I am going to concentrate on painted figures only to start with, so here we go. 

1 Halfling 
2 Night Horrors
4 Clansmen (McDeath)
Banquo (McDeath) 
33 Barbarians
1 Giant
1 Dwarf
5 Orcs
1 Chaos Sorcerer 
Julia McEwman, Dokko and Donald (McDeath)
3 Treemen
1 Skeleton
1 Dwarf
1 Knight of Harkness
1 Undead Cavalry 
1 Chaos Thug
Foundry Snorkling Mini Diorama 
Renata/Renate (Death on the Riek) 
Brooban Keyler (McDeath) 
Chaos Hound (McDeath) 
Lord and Lady McDeath
Turtle Dragon
2 Wizards
1 Chaos Beastman (Commission) 
3 Militia 
Palanquin of Nurgle
8 Sheep
8 Scenic Markers

So about 94 completed painted models. Not too bad, I suppose, but nowhere near the lofty heights of Axiom and Matthew. My out put has been quite varied now I look at it, which doesn't surprise me, as I much prefer to paint different things, over working on units or regiments of many similar models. McDeath makes up a large proportion of the complete models, and I probably have the same number again in storage to work on next year. 

So, as my fellow Oldhammerers have done before me, I need to set myself some targets. I definitely want to be well into the 100s by this time next year, with say a rough target of 120 complete models by the end of 2016. With my single glass cabinet already packed with painted models, I am going to have to invest in another display case if I am going to have space to store all these models too! 

A great job for the wife! 

Ah, Raybees. A model that helped drag me from the doldrums early last year. I was very pleased with the finish on his face, but the glow-in-the-dark green of his tunic is a bit over the top perhaps. I am still very pleased with the blue and white stripes on his trousers - which is something I am keen to work on again in the future. 
I spent some time over the last twelve months working on flesh tones and this Night Horror was an early attempt at improving my painting skill here. 
I was able to further improve on painting flesh with my Clansmen...
And on a far larger scale, this giant. Looking back, I am really pleased with how my technique has improved in this area and I am beginning to experiment a little bit with other tones. 
I have long sought to improve my shield painting skill, something that I was particularly poor at five years ago, and teeny-tiny surfaces like this really push me to my limit (which isn't far!) 
With Thrud, I had the chance to perfect the skin tone I was working on. One of my favourite pieces this year!
Chainmail, and metallics in general, can be a little hit or miss in my work. So one key area I hope to improve in future is the painting of chainmail and platemail. This orc was an early attempt at improving my technique.  He was also my second speed paint of the year. 
Robes and fabric have also been a bit of a bugbear for me. With the skills I developed from painting all those mighty thews in fleshtones, I managed to work sharpen up the look of clothing too. There is still some mileage to go, but I feel like I am making some progress. 
This Night Horror was an attempt to apply the blending I use to create flesh, with a different colour. I am not sure of it worked with red but I am keen to give it another try in future. 
These three warriors showcase my work with metallics. I feel that armour and chainmail painting is much stronger in my work now, though sword blades have regressed somewhat if I am being honest. I think I need to find a very bright silver paint to pick out the edges of the blades. 
Goodness, did I struggle with these treemen but I am really pleased with the end result. I think these are version three. Like Thrud, these models are some of my best work this year. 
I had these models loitering around my paintstation for years and I set myself the task of getting them completed. Again, I had the chance to work on shield designs. 
Brown and black are two colours I need to work on. I am after more rich tones of brown than I currently produce (the highlights look too washed out) and as for my black, they look either too flat or too grey! I was pleased with the result I got here though, even if on other figures the colours are hit or miss. 
I was pleased with the armour on this Knight of Harkness. I used a blue wash to try and make the armour 'shine' a little and create a little tonal difference to the other metal armour I have painted. Probably my best armour paintjob yet.
My first speed paint. I took my just over an hour to paint this whole model - and it shows - but the experience was very beneficial. My painting style became a lot faster as a result. It is an experiment I would recommend to anyone. 
This was another early speed paint. Not one of my best, but perfectly acceptable for rank and file. 
I painted this in a morning and really enjoyed the process. It was also my first piece of painting all in the new Foundry Paints. Oh, and it also won a prize at the Oldhammer Weekend this year. Thanks Chico! 
I was pleased with the colours on Renata. I wanted something bright that would reflect the gypsy inspiration, so used lots of different colours for her clothing. She is also the most expensive miniature I have ever bought - don't tell the wife!
My favourite model this year. A wonderfully characterful sculpt and my best paintjob. I am really pleased with how the colours I chose just 'work' as a coherent whole. 
Spot was a restoration project and if you don't look too closely, I did an okay job. 
Lady McDeath came out better than I had expected - considering I was attempting to recreate her look from the John Blanche artwork. My second favourite piece of the year. 
Creating a sense of depth is important in figure painting, and this one (Fergus McEwman) is one of my very best. I am also very pleased with the skin tones here. 
The Dragon Turtle was a rather fiddly job. With no base to hold onto, I had to be careful not to smudge or damage the painting I had already completed. I am pleased with the shell - and it is always worth having a look at natural history photographs for inspiration if you are attempting a large creature. 
Mergrey Calchoner, a wizard from McDeath, who's colour scheme came directly from the card handouts in the game itself. A lovely combination of colours. 
These were hard work. As I have said, I dislike painting big units of samey models but I am pleased that I managed to get these barbarians finished. I used speed painting throughout. 
Though rather dubiously clothed, these barbarian ladies were also fun to paint. I have another four or five of these models and I hope to add a rank and standard to this unit in future. 
More barbarians from the lengthy painting process for the McDeath rank and file.
Though a Scottish caricature, the clansmen were entertaining to paint up, though I feel that I could easily done better on the tartan. Still, they needed to ready to take to the Oldhammer Weekend so they had to stay as they were. 
My final batch of barbarians, and though these were painted very quickly, it was at this point that my speed painted output started to resemble my usual style. 
McDeath was a challenge. I wanted to use the established artwork as a basis for his colour scheme (as I did with Lady McDeath) and gold is hardly a strength in my work. Still, I think I did an okay job and old McDeath is ready for battle. The model on the left is now part of the Stuart Kletcheff's collection. This beastman is a true one hour speed paint and was a frantic rush. 
Three rather blurry orcs. I tried to change the colour of their skin from my usual recipe. I hope to do some more orcs in this same style soon.
I loved doing these. The Three Murderers for the Glenwoe scenario - oh, and Ratter! 
My Tale of Four Oldhammerers contribution. My only completed model so far. I need to get going with this project once again!
My unreleased Citadel druid that the Grubzup! model won me at BOYL3. Here, I was keen to do something with pure white as it is always a difficult colour to shade. I used blue in the end. 

Like Axiom, I dabbled with a little bit of scenery this year, though it was nothing spectacular. My major project was the creation of a mini-gaming table out of the junk I had lying around the house. I used two old pinboards as bases, and built them up with sheets of foamboard (including old fashioned hills) and I must say, the experience taught be a great deal about creating the 'third army' - a gaming table that looks as good as you painted figures. 

Here you can see the board in action. It is very lightweight and portable (which was exactly what I wanted) and though small in scale, it is just the right size for a large warbands game. In the photograph above you can see Stuart Klatcheff's McEwman force advancing on Drew William's embattled Greevant/McArno alliance while Tony Ackland, the original artist who worked on McDeath, looking on. 

To help bring the board alive a little bit more, I painted up some sheep. Foundry do a lovely little set (complete with shepherd) in metal and I bought a pack during Salute. Small clumps of foliage do the same.

I mentioned earlier that I painted 8 little scenery markers and you can see some of them in this shot. Little tables, chairs, sacks of flour or barrels help break up the space around buildings and made a place look a little more lived in and realistic. They are also useful objective markers. The stone sheep pen was created from some old Brittain's walls I bought at a carboot sale. Based with plasticard and textured with a little sand and static grass, it makes a fine scenery piece.

You can also see most of the four buildings I completed this year (though I have three others than are not yet finished so I will not be including them here), two of which are original Warhammer Townscape cardstock, and two of which were printed out. Can you tell which is which?

I was also able to get more games in than ever before, largely thanks to the wonderful community we have built over the last three years. 

My first game was in May, on the 16th actually, and I travelled up to the Foundry to meet up with Oldhammer colleagues, most notably Stuart Klatcheff, Warlord Paul Mitchell, Steve 'Citadel Collector' Casey and Thantsants for another in our Albion Adventure games. With the election (and referendum) still in people's minds, the game was all about the greasy politics of getting your vote cast.
I was also able to catch this fine shot during our May visit. Oldhammer fans cluster around the Mighty Avenger to gawp at the wonders he brought forth from Stoke Hall. 
Of course, August means Oldhammer like no other month. As has become traditional, many of us gathered at the Wargames Foundry in Nottinghamshire to take part our biggest event yet! I managed to get two very good games of McDeath in during the weekend, though I must confess, I spent most of my time just chatting and enjoying the enthusiasm of others.
Later on that month, I managed to catch up with my old friend Dan, who you may recall from my Realm of Chaos Warseer days. I hadn't seen him for quite some time, so it was great fun to create and play through a scenario with him in the warm sunshine of my gaming conservatory. 
And finally, on Halloween I visited the Wargames Foundry for the THIRD time in 2015 and played out a scenario in the Night of the Living Dead series. 
So, looking back it has been a really exciting and productive year. I think that spending this afternoon going through my 2015 Oldhammer journey was well worth it, as I now feel much more positive about the pile of lead and dusty paints on my desk. But what to paint first? Something different and simple to help get the old muscle memory back on form. 

But what exactly?

Before I pop off to undercoat something interesting I would just like to thank everyone who rolled dice with me this year, especially Warlord Paul, Steve the Citadel Collector and Thantsants. Special mention must be made at this point to Stuart 'My Chauffeur' Klatcheff, who drove me to the Foundry and back more than once this year. 


See you all next year, if not before!



  1. Well, you made my week with that lovely shout-out. Thanks OJ!

    Your analysis of my painting is spot on - good eye. I start off dark and work my way up. Sometimes I worry that my minis look better when photographed than on the table, because I lean toward very fine gradations of colour that don't show up well from a distance. In any case, I very much appreciate the encouragement - especially considering your own fine painting.

    Seriously, you did some fine work in 2015. I was particularly struck by your Dragon Turtle -- he looks great, and you've managed to imbue him with a lot of personality. I also can't believe that you didn't draw attention to your work on Julia McEwman's shield. It's a beauty.

    In general, I'm glad to see the McDeath miniatures getting the deluxe treatment that they deserve. You've really summoned and bound the evil spirit of John Blanche. I find it very intimidating to paint those iconic, rare (and expensive!) miniatures like Mr. and Mrs. McDeath - but you nailed it. Happy New Year! I hope this panoramic review has indeed lifted your spirits...

  2. Some excellent output this year Orlygg. You said your pink-clad chaos thug was a speed paint, but ironically that's the figure that pops out to me. I've always loved the eye-aching colours that chaos can bring.

    I look forward to seeing your 2016 work.

    1. Axiom - you're Eldar are amazing. I love the way you converted that Kinslayer miniature. He's such a great sculpture, it pleasing to see him barge into 40K.

    2. You'll make me blush Matthew!

      I really enjoyed the transition for the figure :)

  3. Always rad visiting and seeing what you're up to, hoping that the paint mojo comes back promptly after completing this journal! Really stoked on all those mcDeath personalities, especially the three murderers - always thought they were just Brettonian peasants!

    1. They are just peasants - no miniatures were every specified for the roles in Glenwoe, but I selected the pieces from Citadel's output around the same time. Luckily, Foundry now do a fair few of the old Militia again with whispers of more to come in the future. As for the mojo, it is well and truly back after checking out all of the other Year in Reviews on the blogosphere - three minis finished already!

  4. Keep up the good work. 94 quality miniatures is quite an achievement! Its all relative. Thanks for the constant source of inspiration and have a great new year.

    1. Thank you Mr Leadhead. 94 models is far more than I ever painted between the years 2004-2011 anyway!! Looking back, I sometimes regret wasting all those years pratting about but you live and learn, don't you. I am also much faster than I was back then when it comes to getting a model completed. Practise does make perfect, or near enough.

  5. Great knock for the year James. You must be extremely pleased with your ever improving skills. I think Lady McD or the Knight of Harkness are my personal faves. Keep it coming during 2016!

    1. I loved painting Lady McDeath. The yellow took ages but looks beautiful now. Her colour scheme is also unique in many ways, so she really stands out on the field. I have been able to use her in a game too, and she looked superb on the table. I really must get back on with my McDeath project soon!

  6. Fantastic in both quality and quantity! It's always a pleasure to see what you've painted next, even if it usually has me scuttling off to eBay and costing me money! All the best for the new year, and I'm looking forward to seeing your output for 2016!

    1. Well, I have three models nearing completion already for 2016, though it might be a while until I am ready to show one of them. Thank you for your kind words.

  7. You sir are too hard on yourself, over 90 figures is still pretty exemplary by today's standards, not so easy when working full time and not a carefree teenager anymore.
    That being said your paintjobs are completed to a high standard which I applaud you for.
    There's always next year and I hope you have a great one!

    1. Yes, always next year. With BOYL4 in August it is always a frantic couple of months as soon as the weather grows warmer. And of course you are correct. We can no longer lavish the hours painting that we might have once. Strangely, my output is far higher now then it was back then!