Sunday 19 May 2013

Acceptable in the '80s: Iron Claw Rock Lobber and Goblins, Skaven, Combat Cards and Warhammer Townscape.

Apps aren't always the easiest way to communicate. I fancied trying out the Blogger app available on the iTunes app network on the wife's iPad. I wrote out a long and detailed post about the releases below. It was erudite, amusing and informative. Sadly, it didn't save as the app is poor at best so you will have to put up with this far inferior re-write I am afraid. 

As you may know, we have been exploring what Citadel put out for Warhammer Third Edition through issues 104, 105 and 106 of White Dwarf. In truth, these three issues are of great importance to fans of the era because they saw the release of two very important supplements, namely Slaves to Darkness and Warhammer Armies. They also contained a wealth of fantasy models, mostly chaos, but there were also a number of ads for further Iron Claw miniatures, sculpted by Bob Olley.

Now we have discussed Olley's work before. Though we neglected to discuss his goblin range, focusing on his Gothic Dwarfs and Undead models of 1987.

His work is best described as the 'Marmite' of miniatures (those of you not an Anglophile or resident here in the UK need to know that Marmite is a vegetable starch product used on bread and toast- its distinctive taste divides opinion, people either love it or hate it, a view not lost of the manufacturers) with collectors and old school gamers either raving madly with frothy lips about his work or casting their eyes away in disgust as soon as one of his strangely fungoid models appears in front of them. Back in the day, I did not like his work at all. But as I have become used to handling more models as I grew older, I learnt to really appreciate his distinctive and original style, especially in today's market of near generic sculpting. 

Olley's goblins are fun and varied. They have the sense of depth and realism that most of his work shares. The models in this selection contain a wide range of suitable weapons, from spears and axes to the iconic ball and chain. The clothes too are suitably goblinoid, and a special mention must got to the wonderful mushroom (or should that be toadstool?) inspired hat! Less sneaky than Kevin Adam's work, these sculpts don't lack charm however. These greenskins seem to have a rather cowardly menace to them (if such an oxymoron is possible) but they rank up nicely alongside their Citadel brethren, indeed they were later incorporated into the line when Iron Claw was dropped. 

Of special note here are the shields. There are some lovely designs here for any old school style painter who wants to begin work of developing a free hand style. Not as complex as the shields of Blanche or Dixon, these examples are no less than effective. 

The stone thrower released as part of the Iron Claw range has been discussed before. Though I doubt many enthusiasts have had the chance to read the fluff that was published for it, nor have a quick gander at the Warhammer Armies rules box so it has been presented for you below. 

However, we haven't talked about the skaven models in the lower part of the colour ad. These expand on the models released in 1985 with some additional models. Now, these are not really War Machines are they? More gun powder and chemical based weapons. All are worth collecting, and in my view, these models remain the best ratmen the Citadel have ever produced. The skaven Jessail is worth a particular mention as these models are quite collectable. 

Before I sign off, I thought I would share with you these two ads. Both are a sign of what is to come on this blog, as both releases are worth posts dedicated to them, namely the Citadel Combat Cards and Warhammer Townscape. 

As always, if you have a memory or an opinion to share about anything discussed today, please do.


Saturday 18 May 2013

Regiments of Renown: Orc Boar Riders

Some time ago ago I published a series of articles that chronicled Citadel's two major releases of Regiments of Renown. The sets available in the earlier and later '80s can be seen here and here. There were several attempts to create additional regiments through White Dwarf, presumably in an attempt to advertise new models or encourage sales. Such an approach clearly did not have the desired impact and the idea was abandoned.

This post presents to you a lovely article depicting a bunch of orc boar riders which contains fluff, a Warhammer Armies rule and banner section as well as a catalogue of miniatures. There really is no need to say anymore. Richard Halliwell's article is very readable and is supported by some excellent illustration by Paul 'no-one drew orcs better than me' Bonner. 

I hope you enjoy it!

Anyone got a painted regiment of these to share? I'd love to include a shot or two on this blog entry.


Blood and Iron: Les Edwards and the Painting of The Lost and the Damned

The whole painting in its finished form. In preparing for this article, I reconsidered the image with fresh eyes and noticed several details that had before been lost on me. The tentacles grasping the warrior's blade being one!

“Nurgle is the Great Lord of Decay. He is also the Lord of All, because all things, no matter how solid and permanent they seem, are liable to physical corruption. Indeed, the very processes of construction and creation foreshadow destruction and decay.”


In the late ‘80s, GW Books (the recently formed subsidory of GW itself) published a range of novels and artbooks. One such publication was Blood and Iron, a celebration of the fantasy and science-fiction art of Les Edwards, an artist who had worked for GW on various projects and had contributed many a painting to grace the cover of White Dwarf. Now I had been aware of the book (and the Blanche and Miller equivalent, Ratspike) since 1989 when it appeared for publication in White Dwarf. Since the enlightenment that followed the discovery of Heroes for Wargames, I have been particularly interested to see what other late ‘80s books I could source for Oldhammer inspiration.

Amazon was a good starting point. When they are not avoiding paying tax, they are offering a great number of second hand books for sale. Blood and Iron was among them. For £3 I was able to get my hands on a near perfect hardback copy and got to spend a wonderful forty minutes or so immersing myself in its content while waiting for an appointment at the doctor’s surgery.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered among the vivid and disturbing artworks, an article written my Edwards’ himself, discussing the artist’s process behind the painting of The Lost and the Damned book cover. I didn’t have to think twice about using the chronicle to put together this post and share with readers not lucky enough to own Les’ book.

I have used italics to help differentiate between my commentary and Edwards’ writings. So in a way, its does look like I have interviewed the great man rather than just quoting from the book, but I am sure that you all will forgive the deceit. So to start then!

So who is Les Edwards then?

Thankfully, for the errant blogger, Les maintains a very impressive website, which is well worth a visit. It contains a detailed overview of his career to date and I have quoted much of his biography here to help orient the reader about his life and work. 

Les Edwards has been a professional illustrator for over thirty- five years. He has worked in many fields and areas but is best known for the huge number of book jackets he has produced in the Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror genres; the latter sometimes being known as his "Red Period".

After studying at the famous, not to say notorious, Hornsey College of Art from 1968 to 1972, where he was firmly advised that he would never be an illustrator, he was recruited by the Young Artists Agency, and has been working as an illustrator ever since. He is now represented by Val Edwards. His work has included major advertising campaigns, movie posters for films including John Carpenter's The Thing and Clive Barker's Nightbreed and he has worked in film production and gaming.

He has illustrated two graphic novels based on stories by Clive Barker; Son of Celluloid, about an ambulatory cancer, and Rawhead Rex, which tells of the adventures of a baby-eating monster and has absolutely no connection to his own views on children. Both books were critically acclaimed. In recent years Les has taken to painting under the pseudonym "Edward Miller" in order to do a different kind of work and use a more romantic style. 

He is a seven time recipient of the British Fantasy Award for Best Artist, has been nominated for a World Fantasy Award five times (his alter-ego Edward Miller won it in 2008), and for a Chesley Award on five occasions as well. He has also been a Guest of Honour at a World Science Fiction Convention. An enthusiastic member of the British Fantasy Society, he may often be found reclining gracefully under a table at one of their many functions.

When he is not chained to his easel, his spare time is taken up with half building plastic model kits and allowing them to gather dust in an appropriately artistic fashion, playing the guitar in a uniquely unmusical manner, and fencing, a sport at which his enthusiasm is surpassed only by his almost supernatural lack of ability.

He produced a great number of 'Golden Age' artworks, most notably the cover painting for Dark Future and, of course, the iconic cover painting from Heroquest and its supplements. 

The Lost and the Damned in Les Edwards' Own Words

“Before the first paint tube is squeezed, the first brush dipped or the first shirt cuff ruined, there is the rough. This is to give the Art Director or client an impression of what the final artwork will look like, and to ensure that the composition meets his requirements. In this case, the Art Director was Uncle John Blanche, who had a pretty clear of what he wanted and where the type would eventually go."

"The first job is to collect as much reference material as possible. Actual photos of Nurgle are not easy to come by so I was supplied with a copy of Tony Ackland's definitive rendering of the Chaos Power. There were also some Citadel Miniatures to hand to give me details of costume and armour, and I had several photos of landscapes, which, although I did not refer to them directly, were there to keep my mind on the right track. After a series of brief and indecipherable thumbnail sketches, I was ready to start the rough proper. I would normally spend some time on drawing the figures before hand, to work out pose, taking photographs if necessary. However, as most of the characters are encased in armour in this picture, I could dispense with this stage, but made sure that I had plenty of photographic references on armour. "

"As a Chaos Power, Nurgle can appear in any form so I thought it a good idea to give him a few more horns. He was to dominate the picture, but be distant at the same time. So I decided he would be sitting on a pile of bodies (but as it will be seen, this idea got rather lost.) Having drawn the rough to the proportions required and allowed space for the type, I then had to await the client's approval and suggestions. These suggestions concerned Nurgle's symbol on the banners, and some changes to the foreground figures to ensure that they fit neatly into the Games Workshop Universe. With these changes in mind, and a photocopy of the rough in view, it was time to start the painting proper."

An early work in progress image of the painting. He the board has been undercoated and the detail sketched and covered in Gesso primer. From Blood and Iron.
"Surrounded by a pile of reference material, sketches and pencil shavings, I now proceeded to draw."

"When the drawing is complete I masked the edges with tape, leaving an area for "bleed" all around. The next stage was to prime the board with two thin coats of acrylic "Gesso" primer, this is rather like white emulsion paint, which brushes out quite thinly. Its purpose is to prevent the oil paint from sinking into the board and leaving the pigment looking dull and flat. It dries quite quickly, and when dry is semi-transparent so that the drawing is still clearly visible."

The underpainting. Light and shade added to the initial stage. From Blood and Iron.
"Using washes of burnt umber acrylic, I painted everything in tones of brown. Although I used burnt umber, any dark or neutral colour will do. The point of this is to firstly see how the painting might work in terms of light and shade, where shadows fall etc. and secondly to give some three-dimensional form to the main items. I don't always include this stage, but with a reasonably complex scene like this it is a help."

"When I had decided that the underpainting was sufficiently complete for my purposes, I painted a thin wash of pale green acrylic over everything to give a kind of unity to the picture. It was at this point that my main problem, which I had suspected beforehand, made itself evident: the figure of Nurgle had to look distant - in order to appear huge - but at the same had to be the main point of interest."

"I used the mass of receding figures at the bottom and left of the painting to suggest a sense of depth from the start, but I was concerned that this effect might be overwhelmed if Nurgle was too detailed. With this in mind I went on to the next step."

The famous painting nearing completion. From Blood and Iron.
"Now came the messy part. I had used acrylics for the underpainting because they are quick drying, and although I know illustrators who swear by acrylics, I prefer oils and use them from this point onwards."

"There is a good deal of Cadmium Green in this painting because I found that other greens were inclined to lose too much intensity when mixed with other colours. I mix the colours in the old-fashioned way, with a palette knife, using a medium called Liquin, which cuts down the drying time of the oils"

"Working fairly quickly, and using as big a brush as practical, I began to "block in" the colours. I would normally start with the sky, which as the largest area would probably do most to give the overall feel of the picture. In this case, however, I had a strong feeling about the colour of the water in the lower part of the painting. I wanted a sickly yellow-green, but because I needed a strong colour in this area, the final result tended to be more yellow than I originally intended. Then with a large, flat brush, I thinly painted the sky. This is where most of the Cadmium Green was used. I extended the the sky colour right across the figure of Nurgle which had the effect of making him recede into the distance. Although I knew he would end up much darker, I felt that I now had a reasonable starting point. Leaving teh foreground figures to last, I treated the whole painting in a similar way, paying little attention to details and dealing only with broad areas of colour."

"The foreground figures were treated a little more carefully, but still in a fairly loose fashion, with the colours, particularly red-browns, chosen partly to help bring the figures forward in the picture. I would normally have to complete at this stage in a day, but naturally the more complex the picture the longer it takes. Overnight the sky dried sufficiently for me to paint Nurgle himself, taking care that the red parts were not too bright."

Just the final detials to add. From Blood and Iron.
"With all the colour blocked in with varying degrees are care, it was time to begin the process of finishing each area. I decided to leave Nurgle until last once again. I made the sky somewhat darker and then began to complete the foreground warriors. I tackled them more or less one at a time, although I would occasionally jump to something else for a change. This is pretty slow work, but there is no way around it. As this stage, I was at pains to refer to my photographs of amour and the miniature figures. I should mention that, in order to make the details easier to see, I had given the models a very thin was of oil paints."

"I was trying to use strong colours, but at the same time to keep a feeling of rot and decay. Much of the rust on the central Chaos Warrior and the armour of the Space Marine is bright orange straight from the tube, applied in patches over the previous coat of reddy-brown. The left hand side of the painting I kept fairly shadowy and vague so that it would not draw the eye away from Nurgle. In repainting the water, I made sure to keep it a strong yellow, as I was beginning to feel that the lower part of the painting was becoming rather grey. There is not a great deal of colour in the figures, but I felt that bright blues or greens would be unsuitable for Nurgle's horde. Apart from a few minor details, I finished the rest of the picture before at last turning to Nurgle himself."

"At this point I was reasonably happy with Nurgle's apparent distance and size. I felt that I would be able to keep these aspects unchanged if I kept his lower half a little vague and misty and put plenty of texture and detail on the top part. My natural urge was to make him very indistinct, but as he was to be the focus of the illustration, this was not appropriate. This half and half approach seemed a reasonable compromise, but it meant, of course, that what was meant to be a pile of bodies at Nurgle's feet, became a vague mass."

"In the end the compromise did not work as well as I had hoped, Nurgle certainly looks huge, but not as vast as I'd imagined. He had to be rendered in sufficient detail to show the extent of his disgustingness, but at the same time this served to diminish the scale. If I were to do the job again I might do this a little differently, which is usually my feeling at the end of a painting: it could have been better. After the addition of a few details, such as some tiny demons and rotting flesh, the completed illustration was sent off to Games Workshop. They asked for some minor alterations, so to highlight the area surrounding Nurgle's head, and the addition of a few more banners. With these changes made and the artwork returned to them, the job was complete."


The cover painting to The Lost of the Damned is one of my favourite pieces of art from the 'Golden Age' (or should we start revering to this period as the 'Age of Ansell'?) though I know for conversations with other enthusiasts that the image still divides opinion. So why do I like it when others consider it to be one of Edwards' weaker works for GW? Well, I suppose it has a lot to do with what it represents rather than the finished art on its own. I was bought Slaves to Darkness for Christmas in 1988. I had to wait until 2011 to finally own the second RoC book. So the painting came to represent the unknown excellence of whatever the book wold contain. Any additional publication that used the image, I would seek to purchase for I assume internal excellence. Such a view, held by me for many, many years (and based on the novel Plague Daemon) was dashed to a thousand pieces when I read The Plague of the Plague Lord which was, to be frank, utter, utter shite.

What are your opinions of Les' painting? Do you love, loath or feel indifferent about it? Have you ever seen the painting displayed or did you once (or, indeed, still) work for GW and can share any further secrets about this famous representation of a Chaos God?



If you are interested in reading more or seeing more of Edwards' art, then this book is a must. 

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Slaves to Darkness 25th Anniversary Launch: Acceptable in the '80s Special

Hello and welcome back to Acceptable in the '80s: my history of all things Third Edition told through its releases, supplements and miniatures. In today's post we will delve into the White Dwarf coverage published at the launch of Slaves to Darkness, some twenty-five years ago. Instead of focusing on a single issue of White Dwarf, this post draws on material published in WD 104, 105 and 106. 

So the year is 1988, and Realm of Chaos has been in development for over 5 years. During this lengthy period, the supplement had gone through many changes and improvements. One thing that had remained pretty consistent during this time was Citadel's approach to the the supporting artwork, much of which had been produced many years previously. With such a talented cohort of artists, it is not surprising that there was a wealth of mind-blasting (and that is what much of it is) art available for inclusion. Some choice selections were used in support of the release of Slaves to Darkness and were used regularly to advertise the book. 

What follows is the entire launch article from WD104. This includes the famous 'Mutating Metal' modelling guide, John Blanche's essay on the Colours of Chaos (very useful if you are painting, or planning on painting, and old school style warband for the summer) as well as plenty of photographs of classic miniatures. This article has been, and remains, one of my major influences in my collecting, painting and gaming goings on here at Realm of Chaos 80s and I am pleased to be able share it with you.

Hopefully, you shall find it just as illuminating and inspiring as I have done. 

Over the next few issues, Citadel published a great number of full colour adverts for the new range of Realm of Chaos miniatures. I present them for us below in a kind of 'retro review' of the Khorne and Slannesh releases from 1988. Overviewing the material, the colour schemes really stand out for me. These days, there is much talk about 'army coherency' (which is ridiculous really, for no army through history has ever been presented in a coherent set of tones like many wargamers seem to think is so necessary) at the painting stage. I am sure you have heard people talk about using Shadow Grey as the basis of their space marine army, or Sunburst Yellow for their Eldar. What has always impressed me about the models painted for this release is that, even though a great number of different colours have been used to paint Khorne and Slannesh models, they look unified but are also distinctly chaotic.

Quite an achievement, and one I hope to emulate with my future Khorne and Slannesh mortal and daemonic armies. 

The first things to discuss on this retro review are the daemons of Khorne, namely the Fleshounds and the Bloodletters. I love these models and in my opinion they have never been bettered in the sense of design. Even the more modern plastic GW kits are obviously heavily influenced by the Perry's original sculpts. The bestial, loping forms of the hounds, complete with skull faces, leathery fans and lion's tails are suitably twisted  as are the Bloodletters, with their long, gangling arms (that suggest peculiar multi-jointed elbows) and dog like legs. They look un-natural and daemonic, something that was obviously lost on whoever sculpted the 4th and 5th edition models - which look like muscular sub par Conans with 'bloody great horns on.' I have loads and loads of these models and they are great fun to paint. If you haven't got a brace or two of these in the leadpile I really do recommend investing in a few. Be careful of the Fleshounds though, they can be a little uncomfortable to handle!!

What can we learn from the '80s paint jobs? The most important thing to point out here is that these demons DO NOT HAVE TO BE PAINTED RED! Black, brown or even brass daemons are possibilities and will slot into even modern fluff. I like the way that the Fleshounds have tones of purple running through them, a colour that suggests to me disemboweled innards and coils of glistening intestines. Very suitable for these beasts. As for the lesser daemons, the final model, almost black, just shows you what you can do with a bloodletter with a little bit of imagination. I don't like the dodgy red ends of the hellblades though. I am a real believer that 'less is more' when it comes to representing blood in miniature and the flat colours do nothing for me. 

Gorgeous. That is the only word that I can think of as I type these words to describe the daemonettes. A varied, alien and strangely exotic collection of dangerous lewds. You can imagine the depravity just by looking at the suggestive clothing and the subtle pincers. Yet, they seem cold. Souless even. Damned as all followers of chaos ultimately are. Like the bloodletters, these models are reflected in the modern plastic GW kit, though the mohicans are (sadly) long gone. Also like the bloodletters, these daemons were replaced by some appallingly cartoony big pincered faux pas that must have sent many veteran chaos players running for the nearest exit. I have many of these models in my collection (the 80s ones!), and will always buy more because I adore them. On to the Fiends then. I have three of these and they are a right bugger to get hold of (or so it seems to me) or, indeed, to put together when you have some. But they are so well conceived that you forgive the fiddly bits. A mix of scorpion, horse and goat with a row of voluptuous breasts? Surely a jaded leadhead's dream?

As for the painted examples, let me return to that word again, gorgeous. The blending and tones on some of these models are incredible, and can only be by the hand of Mike McVey. Incredible skill. And models like this make me glad I choose to work on my Khorne army first, just so that I can be practised enough to have a crack at blending colour to even a fraction of that skill. I also love the model on the top right. Covered in tattoos or body paint, the designs not only contrast wonderfully with the flesh tones but they have an inhuman immediacy that seems to crawl from their very limbs towards your unwitting eye. 

Into the Dark Millenium. I mean, how many times has that been used over the years? Well, here we have the original inhabitants of the Eye of Terror for all to see. These models have grown increasingly popular in recent years and looking at them you can see why. Varied, vibrant and characterful. Though tiny in comparison to modern chaos marines, these models make up for their diminutive size with martial otherworldness that makes them seem far more corrupted and villainous than a space marine with a few spikes on. 

Strangely, quite a few of the Khorne marines presented here are painted green. This again goes to show that when you are painting old school miniatures (or even modern ones) there is no reason not to 'think outside of the fluff' for a moment and try something different. There is clearly a historic example to follow is there not? The pink and green marine with the daemonette face is my favourite here. Once day I will get my hands on that model and I intend to have ago at painting it with the same scheme as the one presented here. My favourite Slanneshi marine ever!

Then we have the heavy weapons marines. I have most of these in my collection and the weapons are fantastic! Quite why they changed the design I do not know. I loved the fact that the chaotic weapons looked so different to those sported by the RT marines. I have also called these paint jobs 'Liquorice Allsort' marines, and I really like them, the pink and black particularly. Below them, we have the Steeds of Slannesh and a couple of renegade riders (remember, this was the time when Chaos Space Marines didn't really exist, they were called renegades) which I am also proud to state that I have in my collection. These look great mounted on the '80s Citadel plastic horses too, and there are far more of them available than were shown here. 

After are detour to the world of Rogue Trader, we return to more familiar models. These are the beastmen and champions that we are quite accustomed to here in the Oldhammer Community. So much so, that they often turn up on this blog and many others. I have painted most of these models and have nearly all of them in my collection. Its worth noting that these are just some of the champions that Jes Goodwin produced for Realm of Chaos and all of them are excellent. In fact, no-one has ever done a better job than he did with these models.


I am still amazed that these are not recast and sold today as they are some of the finest models Citadel have ever produced.

Buy them!

And finally, the Juggernauts of Khorne. I have mixed opinions about these. I am not a fan of their faces as I find them a little too cartoony but they don't half feel nice and solid when you have built one and based it. Heavy and dangerous, just as you would expect. Here we see more of the renegades and champions that we saw earlier. 

Here ends our review. What did you think? What are your thoughts about this range of models. Are you a fan? Or do you loath them for the daemon spawn that they are? As always, please leave your thoughts or opinions below or email me (if you are a lurker) at



Sunday 12 May 2013

On the Tangent of Goblinoids

Chaos fills my painting area. Both literally and metaphorically. You see, I am an untidy artist who leaves paints, brushes, new lead, off cuts, half finished miniatures and more littering my table. My wife contributes further, dumping anything she considers 'not her's' on the heap. Around this chaotic clutter I work.

On chaos models.

Occasionally I paint something different. Like the Tzeentch daemons I painted a few months back or an undead character. Yesterday, I found myself wanting to paint something different alongside the chaos thug unit I am working on. Now I have a varied and copious lead pile.

So what to choose?

Inspired by a thread on the Oldhammer Forum, I choose a simple goblin. It had been awhile since I had painted a greenskin so the prospect was an attractive one. I was also interested in working on painting different shades of brown leather, and Goblinoids are usually bedecked in browns, so I selected a model, cleaned, based and primed it.

But what of the colour scheme? I knew that I wanted to try out some new basing ideas, especially after the fascinating discussion we had a few posts back and that brown would be a key colour of the clothing. How was I going to paint the goblin's skin?

Obviously, I was going to go for colours sympathetic to my Old School approach to painting. So I flicked through a couple of 80s White Dwarfs for inspiration for greens. I soon realised that there were as many interpretations of how to paint a goblin as there are shades of green, though yellow seems to have been a popular choice in the mix back in the day.

I had a look over my previous efforts of greenskin glories and realised that I had used a range of different colour schemes over the years. Here are some of them.

In the end I went for Goblin Green as a base. Over this I washed old Citadel Green Ink from the Expert Paint Set. Once this had dried, I picked out the details of the skin using the base colour once again. Into this base I mixed Sunburst Yellow and a little yellow ink, building up the highlights until I added a little white for the final highlight. This gave the skin a greeny yellow hue which satisfied me. For the eyes I used Blood Red and the lip Liche Purple. Over both I washed diluted Purple Ink to give the face some sinister depth. The eyes were tidied up with Blood Red once more before I painted a dot of orange as a pupil. The lip received a highlight of white and purple... And it was done. All I had to do was paint the clothing and weapon and I was done!

Now, I got a huge amount of inspiration from the bases discussion and hope to start another one about painting orcs and goblins, so I am going to ask you to contribute your recipes for painting green skins below. Additionally, if you are one of those LURKERS who keep themselves to the shadows and you have some nicely painted old school Goblinoids that no-one gets to see then email me at or provide us with a link below.

So then... Orcs and gobbos... how do you paint them?


Friday 10 May 2013

Share the lead: Lurkers, Realm of Chaos 80s needs you!

What a couple of weeks!

I've just started a new job. I am a teacher by profession and have spent many years teaching children aged about ten or eleven. I've made the decision to have a go at teaching much younger pupils and have moved to a new school so that my new class if full of six or seven year olds.

A very different challenge than the older ones. But enjoyable nonetheless. Now the government here in the UK have a bizarre notion that testing children formally at the end of the year is a good idea. So in May, all schools have to organise their children (particularly those in Year 2 and year 6) and force them to complete examinations for the benefit of short term ministers in Whitehall.

Subsequently, it is a very busy time of year. Now over the last few weeks I have been tentatively been stretching out to experiment with the notion of trading miniatures with other collectors. I have a wodge of Royal Mail 'We missed you!' red cards sitting in my kitchen as well as loads of packaged up minis to send out. So a trip to the post office is high on the agenda for tomorrow.

As I have said, I have really enjoyed this process, largely due to the fact you get to interact with new people, often from all over the world. It turns out that the Oldhammer Movement has spread much further than just the UK or the US. And very pleasing it is too!

This got me thinking about all the people I met at Salute last month. Much to the bemusement of Dan, I was stopped by other Oldhammerers and we had a good few chats about Old School goodness. This was wonderful! Though I must admit, all of the people I met were self confessed lurkers. 

So this post is a call to arms for all you old school lurkers! 

You know who you are!

 You read and enjoy the blogs and forum activity but prefer to stand back.

 Well I want to hear from you. What is YOUR story? If you dabble in painting old school Citadel lead but have never posted anything on line now is your chance! 

 Email me at 

Or make the effort to get a Google account and tell us your story below!


Thursday 9 May 2013

Bases: Your Thoughts?

The old addage of miniature painting is: 'concentrate on bases and faces' and you can pull of almost anything. Its certainly something that I thought about over the last 10 years or so of painting, before I saw the light and joined the Oldhammer Community.

I'd spend ages tinkering with the bases of my models. Adding sand, stones, brass details, static grass and more. I was seldom happy with the result. Its a little known fact, I once painted a Sisters of Battle army back in the mid 2000s. There I said it. I still have it (somewhere) buried in the garage. I used chopped up left overs of plastic kits to build up their bases, along with green stuff, bits of wire and God knows what else. At the time I was really pleased with the results, especially when I used drybrushing to weather them up a little. I got them out a few years ago, and despite my heady sense of achievement at the time, they were a disappointment. They were cluttered and fiddly, and in hindsight they took an age to complete. It was this experience that influenced my view to strip down and simplify the bases of my Old School Citadel miniatures, which I started painting in earnest in Summer 2011. I was always inspired by '80s models, and the simplistic approach the Old Masters took. 

Trouble was, I wasn't satisfied with the 'Woodland Green drybrushed with Bilious Green) approach. It just looked too simplistic in comparison with my models. Nor did I want to go for the staple of earlier '80s models, which was the coat the base in PVA and sprinkle over a layer of railway flock - I think, but I am not sure, that static grass was not widely available during the 1980s. Anyone know for sure?

Six plaguebearers, including two painted by Andy Craig in the centre and one unreleased test (front rank, far left), which display the classic Goblin Green and Bilious Green combo. 
Eventually, I developed my own style of Old School base. One thing I wasn't prepared to do was go all Fraser Grey/Kevin Adams and produce detailed green stuffed foliage, but I want to acknowledge the style of a simpler age. In the end I developed a quick method which I feel matches the bases perfectly.

Here it is:
1) Undercoat base in Goblin or Woodland Green.
2) Wash over with slightly watered down yellow ink, in a blobbing fashion to create a sense of natural colour difference in grass.
3)  While the ink is still wet, use a brown ink around the edges of the base, so that the ink runs into the detail created by the sand. I sometimes paint irregular patches at this stage, again to create a natural look. 
4) Once dry, I drybrush over the top with white or bone coloured paint and tidy up the edges in black.

Job done. Simple. Fast. Effective (well I think anyway!)

Examples of my basing technique explained above. Here we see a Champion of Slannesh and a Chaos Sorcerer. 
 How do you view bases?  Something simple or something worthy of more attention? Do you have different views depending on the nature of the model (character/rank and file)? Do you have your own colour mixes or secret tips that you are willing to share with us?

Hoping to hear from you,


Wednesday 8 May 2013

Arcane Armorials: Painting an Oldhammer Banner Part Two

Now the last time we spoke I had left you with a banner with a completed face. This time, I aim to take you through what I did to finish off the banner design. To be honest, it ended up a little trial and error at times, remember this is the first time I have tried something like this, but I am happy with the resilts. Like last post I will take you through a short step by step guide of what I did in the hope that others are inspired enough to have a go, no matter their skill level. 

Step Ten: Wait for your paint and ink to dry thoroughly. Then mix up a batch of your background colour and carefully re-apply to the banner, trying to tidy up the detail around the face design.

Step Eleven: Add white to the background mix, and continue to tidy up the banner, being careful not to obscure the edges of the face or the waggles (or wiggles?) that move away from the invisible centre. Don't worry if you make a few errors, some black ink subtly applied can tidy up any slippages. Continue to add white to the mix until you have the desired colour, mine being an off yellow similar to parchment.  

Step Twelve: Using an off white mix (to create this just add a smidgen of your background base to white) start to weather the edges of the banner. I did this with vertical strokes, inspired by the waft (or is it weft?) found in fabrics and concentrated around the edges. Later, once this had dried, I painted on lines in a horizontal fashion to even out the appearance of the shading. Using the same mix, I painted a lighter outline around the face and the waggles to enhance the central design and add coherency to banner. 

Step Thirteen: I toyed with adding writing (taken from the Dark Tongue section in the Lost and the Damned) but I wasn't satisfied with the finished result. So I painted over my efforts and added some additional waggles (or wiggles?), again edging with of white. I mixed up some pure white, and very finely highlighted the very edges of the banner. And I was done - just the basic painted on the banner pole in the future when I fix this to a miniature. 

And there we have it! The finished banner. What do you, dear followers (and lurkers), think of my efforts? Any comments? Have you had a go at an Oldhammer style banner in the past and can provide a link? I'd love to see, and be inspired by, other slaves to the brush.


Sunday 5 May 2013

Arcane Armorials: Painting a Citadelesque Banner Part One

If you recall my last post, I described to you how I built myself an old school style banner. Well, now its is time to start the process of painting one. Large banners of this type are going to be THE central focus point of your army, so getting the paint job right is very important. The skills employed are very similar to those used on freehand shields, only on a larger scale. Now, shields don't take me long. Maybe 30 minutes not including drying time. This first part of my banner tutorial reflects about two and a half hours work, including drying time. I am still a long way from finishing, but I hope I can show you how I went about painting the central 'Ogre Face' design. 

So here goes... 

Step One: Prepare your painting surface with several thin layers of sprayed on undercoat. I chose white, though any colour will do. You should have your finished result in the back of your mind when you choose your undercoat, I wanted a light, bright banner so went for white. More dreary colour schemes, like those of the skaven or Nurgle worshippers, may require a darker base.

Step Two: Sketch on your design with a soft pencil. You can try out all your ideas doing this and have some idea what the final product is going to look like. My sketch is shown above, and I quickly established that the Khorne symbol and the chaos star would clutter the banner so I painted over them in white. I also toyed with a chequered boarder, but also considered that this would clutter the banner so that went too!

Stage Three: Base colours and inking. Here I used watered down paint to fill in the base colours. A dirty yellow for the backdrop and red for the face. Once this was dry, I used black ink to pick out the deepest details of the design and filled in the edge. I then added the Blanche style 'wiggles' (anyone know what the correct terms for these are?) also using ink. There were a few white patches here and there, but nothing to worry about this stage. 

Stage Four: Here I built up the underlying highlights using increasing amounts of orange and white added to my base colour of red. Use a medium sized brush for this and keep the paint very fluid with plenty of water. You are really looking for the consistency of milk for this. Be very painterly; use dots, dabs and quick brush strokes. Try and work in the ink lining and start to build depth using the base colour. Don't worry if your face looks too pallid at this stage, your final highlights (switch to a smaller brush to do these) should be almost white. 

Stage Five: Next I used a mix of inks to build up the vibrancy of the colour over the top of my initial highlights. On the advice of Andy Craig, I invested in a set of Windor and Newton inks from a craft shop. What a difference these made to the colour tones I was able to achieve and I am looking forward to experimenting further when I get on to my chaos lord! Mixing in some brown ink, I was able to create a sense of mid tone depth around the crevices on the face.

Stage Six: Then it was a case of highlighting once more, adding increasing amounts of yellow (and later white) to the mix and building up the character of the face. Again, I tried to be as painterly as possible, employing quick strokes (you'll need to keep your water very watery to achieve accurate results), squiggles and stippling. Try and focus your highlighting on the areas around the initial black lines and reduce them down further until they are the thinnest of thin lines. Ensure that your eyes, nose and mouth stand out with bright highlighting around them. 

Stage Seven: Add the white to create the eyeball and teeth. Again, keep you paint fluid so that it is easier to work with. Be careful with the teeth. Paint from the outside in, starting with the big teeth and ending in the centre with the smaller ones.

Stage Eight: Return to your black ink, using it straight from bottle, to edge the teeth, deepen the mouth and complete the eyes as I have shown you above. This is detailed work, and it is important not to flood your painting by loading too much ink on to your brush. Test your brush on a scrap piece of paper first to check that the ink is flowing as you want it to. Take your time at this stage, be confident with your brush strokes, as this will reduce wobble and ensure straighter lines. 

Stage Nine: Mix some blue ink. Keep the first batch quite watery and start to apply it around the mouth and eye sockets. You might want to mix in a little red or orange to create a colour harmony. Once the initial ink application is dry, add more blue and focus your attention around the very edge of the mouth to create the impression of lips. Do the same, only more subtly, around the eyes. Repeat this process with the teeth, using brown ink (and a little black) around the base of each tooth. Wait for this ink to dry before re-highlighting over with white paint. Tidy up the edges of the teeth with your black in and, hey presto, you are finished. 

Well, so far so good. The face is finished but there is still much work to be done on the banner. Attention must now shift to the background of the piece and, of course, the wiggly things that strike out like the rays of some evil sun. Next time we talk about banners, we will look at how to create a background colour that doesn't look too flat and will discuss adding what my dad (a railway modeller) would describe as 'super details'. 

Namely writing in the Dark Tongue itself!

In the meantime, I hope you found this tutorial useful. Again, your feedback is very important to me, so if you have something to add, please do!


Arcane Armorials: Constructing an Oldhammer Banner

In issue 102 of White Dwarf there is an excellent article about how to get the best out of painting shields and banners. I am sure that it was highly inspirational in its day, and it remains so today. When I first started out painting shields for my Realm of Chaos campaigns several years ago I knew that freehand shields were going to be essential to the old school look I was going to go for with the paint jobs.

Trouble was, I was utterly useless at painting shields, and had been for twenty years. But with a little determination and a little practice I managed to develop the skill. To be honest, I was surprise quite how quickly I was able to master (if that is the correct word) the technique. One thing that really helped me get to grips with painting horrible little faces was the step by step guide to the classic ogre face by Mr John Blanche himself.  

Have a quick read of the article below to see what I mean.

Blanche and McVey hard at it. The famous stage by stage ogre face. Phil Lewis using cut outs from newspapers to create shields.
The article goes on to showcase some of the varied and exciting shield designs that were knocking around the studio circa 1986, including some seminal work by the 'Greatest', Fraser Grey, not to mention Brian George and others. Even the StD chap with the 'Blut' banner (recently rediscovered by Steve Casey among the collection of the Mighty Avenger himself) makes an early appearance to inform the reader about how the rules of shield design can be applied to a banner.

A selection of shields and other designs by Citadel's Old Masters.
As the article continues, we are presented with quite an informed discussion about the ethos of shield designs during the '80s, including a little comment about where Blanche drew his inspiration for the now famous ogre face design. It highlights the importance to search through historical references to pick out ideas that can be adapted, or even whole-heartedly stolen, from history. Almost as an afterthought, the piece ends with a paragraph about transferring the skills discussed onto large scale banners, and also includes an image on how to go about constructing them. 

It was this little nugget that has left me contemplating how easy, or indeed how hard, putting together a old school style banner would be. I've experimented with a couple of things so far, mostly using plasticard, but found the results less than expected. The banners and their poles were often flimsy and unsubstantial, so it was something that I left unexplored as I got on with other things - namely completing my Third Edition Khorne Army. Now as this project is starting to draw to a close, for a while at least, it needs several character pieces to finished it off. Namely, the mounted chaos lord and his bannerman. 

So a banner, painted in a similar style to the shields, would be required. In this post I hope to explain to you how I set about constructing my banner in the hope that it might inspire other Oldhammerers who haven't made flags before to try something new. Well, this is how I did it.

Materials Required

  • A tin tube of food paste - tomato or garlic puree being the best.
  • Heavy duty scissors
  • Large spoon
  • Flexible florist's or gardener's wire on reel
  • 5mm wire in strands
  • Superglue or epoxy resin glue 
  • White paint/Spray undercoat.
  • Wet sandpaper or needle file

To start I emptied the tin tube of its contents, squeezing it out in the sink and washing away the remains to keep the wife happy, and brought the crushed tube to the table. Using my heavy duty scissors I carefully cut off the the top and the bottom of the tube, before cutting along one side. Unfolding the tube takes a little care, as the edges of the cut tin can be sharp. Once open and reasonably flat, I washed out the remaining puree in soapy water and left the metal to dry for a few minutes. 

Then I used the spoon to smooth out the tin. This took a while and revealed just how important it is to squeeze out the contents of the tube in a systematic way. Use quite a bit of pressure and move the spoon in the same up and down motion until its is a flat as you can possibly make it. Don't worry about the odd wrinkle here and there as this makes little difference when the banner is painted. When the tin is as flat and smooth as you can make it, its time to start cutting the metal once more. 

Even out the shape of the metal with the scissors, a good rectangular shape will be best. I did this by eye, as I am quite practiced at cutting shapes out my hand (years of being a teacher of young children) though you may want to measure this and score the shape on the tin with a soft pencil. Once happy, trim your sheet to the desired shape and add any additional shape that you may require, I chose two flaps at the top to attach to the bannerpole, though you could easily choose any number of these, or include battle damage or more. You could even bend the banner into a shape to suggest wind blowing through the material. It really is up to you and the sky is the limit here. I went for something simple for my first banner, you may well want to do the same. I added a plastic '80s shield for scale purposes so you can see just how big the banner is. 

Your next job is to source your wine. A reel of soft wire (such as that the florist's or garden centre sell) and a slightly more sturdy straight wire. Cut your wire to the appropriate size and put to one side. 

Use the flaps that you cut into the metal to attach the banner as I have shown above. Use this as an opportunity to get the shape of your banner correct and do not think about gluing anything down at this stage. Bend the flaps (you should find this very easy with the tin) over so that it grips the wire quite tightly. You should then be able to slide the wire free and move on to the next stage. 

Get hold of your softer wire and coil it around the two wires that represent the bannerpole. This may be fiddly to start with but you should eventually end up with a nice tight join. Then carefully wind more wire over the top of your knot to create the impression of rope bindings. Snip off any unwanted wire as soon as you are happy with the result. 

Then slide the bannerpole back into the banner itself, using the flaps you constructed early. Stick these down now with super glue or epoxy resin and wait to dry. While the glue is drying, cut a thin strip of tin from your remaining supply and stick this over the top of the pole that runs vertically down the back of the banner. This will create strength and stop your banner flopping around later on when it helps lead your old school Citadel to victory in glorious Third Edition battle.

Once the glue has dried, flip the banner over and clip off the wire that you do not want. I used my heavy duty scissors again to do this, though you could use clippers or a knife if you were that way inclined. You may well want to tidy up any rough or sharp edges at this point (use wet sand paper or a needle file) before washing the banner in warm soapy water and setting it aside to dry. 

Once the banner is dry, its a simple case of undercoating it. I used a spray paint as I found it hard to get the initial layers of paint to adhere satisfactorily. Do a couple of coats, waiting for each one to dry first, before finishing. I noticed that the paint took slightly longer to dry than it would on a metal miniature so be careful not to get any fingerprints in the paint while you are doing this. 

And so ends this little tutorial. If you have followed my instructions you should now be the proud owner of a sturdy banner. The beauty of this method is that it can be applied to any scale and any type of model, so you can easily transfer what you have to your historical or science fiction models. 

Feedback is really important to me when I do a tutorial. Was I clear enough in my instructions? Are the photographs informative enough? Please contact me if you have any suggestions, or indeed, advice in the business of banner building. 

I will be following up this article shortly with a guide to how to paint a design (the ogre face of course!) on to the banner as well as how to add those little extra details. 

Until then, getting snipping.