The Parent Players Paintalong! #ParentHobbyShowcase

Its been a difficult year for everyone, but its been a particularly difficult year for parents.  For those becoming parents, hospital access has been a major concern, while for those with children at school or in childcare, looking after, educating and entertaining them has been …. challenging.

One fantastic escape for the #ParentPlayers group has been our meet-ups a few times a year to play mostly GW tabletop war-games, chat with others in the same situation, and get a little us time for people used to just being Mum or Dad.  Of course, this year, those gatherings haven’t happened either, and are looking pretty unlikely to come together properly until next year at this point.

To keep us in touch, give us something to focus on and work towards, we started looking at doing a paint along – the #ParentPainters tag has been fantastic pulling us forward in doing an AoS army, and we can keep using that to show off WIP and models as we paint together.

However, lots of us are busier than ever, and hobby seems a remote dream, so we don’t want to exclude lots of the group!  So we’re looking at doing a mix of paint along and showcase.  In the last week of each month, we’ll do a showcase of a unit for armies we plan to play going forward, whether thats at the next meet-up, through the new edition of 40K, a new army being painted along on the #ParentPainters tag, or just an old army we want to show off.  Tweet pics of a unit with the hashtag “#ParentHobbyShowcase” in the last week of the month, and we’ll all get to see what we’re working on, what we’re painting or what we’ve done.

I’m really excited for it!  I’m getting carried away looking at doing background and naming troops and getting right into building a fantastic army for 9th edition, ready to be upgraded and evolve through the campaign narrative systems.  And I get to paint along, and show off models old and new.  If I can’t paint for a couple of weeks, I can still pull out a unit and join in the showcase.

I’m really excited to see everyones minis online if we can’t meet up and see them in person yet!

If you have any questions, give @evilkipper a shout on twitter!

#ParentPlayers – Resources for UK Wargamers with Primary School Kids at Home!

General Resources

TTS

TTS have fantastic downloadable activity packs available for kids in a range of ages.  Its well worth a look, and covers a wide range of activities.  Different packs for KS1, KS2 and Foundation.

TTS

Twinkl

Twinkl are offering a free months access to all the resources on their sites for parents, if you sign up at the link below with the code

UKTWINKLHELPS

Twinkl

Orchard Toys

Orchard Toys have a fantastic range of activity sheets, particularly for younger kids.  Its a fantastic resource for printing off things to do at a moments notice.

Activity Sheets

TV

Lets start by saying I don’t think any of us simply want to dump the kids in front of the TV.  However, if you are working from home and need to make a call or do some urgent work, it’s likely to happen from time to time.  Lets make sure that if it does, we still help the kids learn.

iPlayer

The BBC has really stepped up with a massive range of educational shows for kids during the crisis.  iPlayer has a children’s user now, which gives you quick easy access, and there are various sections allowing you to access various educational resources.  Maddie’s Do You Know?, Alphablocks and Numberblocks are particularly good. 

Documentaries

All of the major streaming shows do tend to offer a range of cracking documentaries, like the Blue Planet, and various nature and space themed educational pieces.  Well worth chucking on to distract and entertain.  Can’t go wrong with a spot of Attenborough!

Physical Education

The Body Coach

The body coach is doing a free live PE session every school day at 9.  Doing structured exercise at home is really important, so this is brilliant for them to kick off each day.

Body coach

Super Movers

Supermovers is a fantastic range of short bursts of physical activity that also teach other concepts, from maths to punctuation.  Its a great way of burning off energy and reinforcing some key concepts.

Super Movers

Cosmic Yoga

Cosmic Yoga is a line of yoga YouTube videos aimed at kids.  I know they’ve sometimes used it in school, and it helps keep the kids moving without getting wound up.  Its also good for relaxation if the virus is stressing them out.

Cosmic Yoga

The iMovement

This is an absolutely brilliant resource with different daily options for exercises.  You can access resources at the link below, or sign up for a daily email with todays suggested activities at join.theimovement.com

iMovement

DISNEY TEN MINUTE SHAKEUPS

Kids love disney, and this range of themed activities can be fantastic to keep them active through the day.

NHS Disney

Just Dance

Some fantastic dance routine to get the kids up and active for a while

Just Dance

Maths

https://whiterosemaths.com/homelearning/

https://nrich.maths.org/covid19

Reading and Stories

Oxford Owl

Oxford Owl (who do the Biff, Chip and Kipper books) have a fantastic range of relevant phonics ebooks available in a whole range of years free to read through their website.  You do have to register, but it works really well, and it very useful to keep kids reading the same sort of books they are used to at school.

Owl Ebook Library

National Literacy Family Zone

This offers a cracking range of free reading and writing activities, including all sorts of challenges and competitions.

National Literacy Family Zone

Audible

Audible have a brilliant range of free stories available for kids while schools are closed, with loads of classic myths and legends.  Its definitely well worth a look, gets kids excited for story time even if you have to work.

Stories

Computer Programming

Scratch

There’s a fantastic online resource provided by MIT to allow kids access to a load of facility to learn the core concepts of computing in a very fun way.  You do need to set up a login, but it is free.

Scratch Lab

Gaming!

Lets not forget keeping the kids entertained, and what better way of doing that than introducing them to our fantastic hobby!

Warhammer Alliance

Games Workshop support Scouts and School clubs with a range of free resources, which can be found here.  Colouring activities, mini games, and more – its a cracking way of helping keep the kids engaged.

Warhammer Alliance

Power Outage

Power Outage is a fantastic RPG for kids to play as super heroes.  Its amazing fun, and in this difficult time the creator has made it available free to help keep kids entertained.  Its on pay what you want, so though you can grab it for free, if you can afford to throw some funds their way, it’d help repay them for a very generous gesture.

Power Outage

#ParentPlayers – the 8th Meet-up, first in 2020!

What is Parent Players?

Parent Players is a semi-regular meet-up with a group of wargamers who all have children and don’t often get to game. We plan the events months in advance so we can arrange childcare and make sure it’s in family diaries, and hope no emergencies, illness or accidents intervene!

As we’re all parents, we all are in the same boat, and it’s nice to play some really relaxed games and have a few beers with people who enjoy your hobby, understand the pressures you’re under, and are pretty relaxed about the fact you haven’t played a game in months and keep remembering the rules from 2 editions ago.

Most of the focus is on GW games, predominantly 40K for this one.  We meet up in Warhammer World in Nottingham on a Friday, play big games all day, retire to a nearby hotel (the Holiday Inn Nottingham Marina) where we get a few more beers in and play games like Fluxx, Coup, or Munchkin in the bar. The Saturday tends to be smaller games in Bugmans as it can be hard to get tables if an event is on, and some of us may be a little worse for wear…. (Just to be clear, beers are optional and several of the regulars are teetotal. Playing silly games is the important bit!)

Tables are harder to arrange since the events team stopped taking general bookings, so it’s particularly hard to guarantee availability on the Saturday.  Several of us live close enough to be able to pretty much guarantee a decent spread of tables on the Friday at opening time.   It looks like there’s a Lord of the Rings event on the Saturday. We’ve requested some reserved tables given the distance some of s are travelling, but waiting to hear back.

When is the next Parent Players?

The Eighth Parent Players is on Friday6th and Saturday 7th March  2020

What do you need?

Well, to play, you’ll need the latest rules and a force for the game. We’re definitely expecting Warhammer 40K, Bloodbowl and Shadespire to be on the agenda – if you don’t have a force for any game you’d like to play, it’s not too hard to arrange to borrow one from one of the other people attending, but you need to arrange it in advance to ensure it’s there on the day. For 40K, we tend to play fairly fluffy 1750pts lists (but bring along 1000pts and 2000pts variants for some multiplayer shenanigans ).  If you can’t field a 40k army but want to try, a lot of us have been in the hobby for some time and can probably bring a spare if you let us know in advance… though it isn’t necessarily going to full of the latest models. Bloodbowl tends to be standard starter teams of 1,000,000 crowns, and Shadespire is generally standard gang starter decks.

You’ll also need transport to Warhammer World, and somewhere to stay. We generally stay in the Holiday Inn near Warhammer World and several people have already booked rooms. Its certainly not compulsory to stay in the hotel if you want to arrange somewhere else, but we do have some cracking games.

It’s a pretty laid back event – some of us make up our own t-shirts to match our armies with our names and twitter handles, but again, that’s really not necessary.

How do I stay in touch?

We all can be found on twitter. I’m evilkipper and seem to be co-ordinating it at the moment, but the whole thing was the devious concept of thefirstautarch. Other regular attendees include oneoflots, avarrisxbox, grimdarkness40, bigbadbirch and alphadevilinak as well as horde of possible attendees who haven’t been able to escape the kids!

Say hi to any of us, and we’ll keep you in the loop on twitter with all the updates.

My Thoughts On Playing 8th Edition Warhammer 40k

When the 8th edition launched, there was a lot of focus on the simpler rules, and the indexes put everyone on a level playing field.  Since then, however, the game has become much more complex, with the special rules introduced with new rules found in codexes, FAQs, Chapter Approved, and White Dwarf.  The various additional bonuses, psychic powers, army faction bonuses and stratagems all stack across different units, and it can be very difficult to actually work out what you actually need to do when playing a game.

I’m not a competitive player at all, but I do like to feel I’m at least playing the game right, so I wanted to put a sort of general crib sheet together so I cover the basics properly.  This certainly won’t work for everyone, and is aimed at friendly games, not tournament play.

Building a List

Pick the units you like, point them up, get onto the battlefield!  Huzzah!

That’s actually the core of how I put a list together, to be fair.  Sadly, though, you do need to think ahead a bit more on how the troops will work together on the battlefield, especially in the modern game.  A good example was the time I fielded my Imperial Guard army without a single officer to issue commands – and probably halved the effectiveness of the force at a stroke.  If you can’t issue orders to troops, Guard armies don’t work very well!

Every army (and faction within it), tends to have certain rules, bonuses and stratagems that augment certain troop types.  Picking an army without at least partially syncing up those augmentations seems to be punished brutally in the modern game – its no longer a slight edge, but the basis of standard lists, even for friendly games.

Have a think about what stratagems you actually remember to use.  If you are terrible at remembering to spend command points, look at ways of spending them pregame as part of your list – getting extra relics out onto characters, making units veterans, or merging units depending on your army.  That way you get the value of the command points without forgetting what you can do.  If there are stratagems that seem fun, pick units that work with it.  Build detachments partially on the units you like and how you want to play, but also to take command point generation more or less in mind.  Sometimes taking the same forces in a different formal detachment makes a big difference to the numbers of CP you get.

It basically boils down to one of the areas I’m weakest at – know the rules for your army as well as you can.

For me, I don’t like to carried away working how to exploit the rules to be filthy.  Working out ways of putting abilities and stratagems to pull something off that feels like its straight from a novel though?  Awesome.

Once you have a list put together, do you best to make sure the list is clear, accessible and easy to work with during the game.  A quick note of page numbers for more complex stuff can be invaluable, both for reference, and also to help make sure you have all the books you actually need.

Pregame

My cardinal rule here is just remember you are both here to have fun, and you’ll enjoy the game more if your opponent is having a cracking time too.  Don’t try to hide “gotcha” moments – run through your list with your opponent, explain any use of command points in building the list, and say how many you’ll be starting the game with.

Explain anything with optional rules – things like your faction special rules (like Guard Regiment bonuses, or Marine Chapter rules), agree whether to choose psychic powers or both pull them randomly.  Really make sure that anything not clearly WYSIWYG is explained to your opponent.

It leads to a much more enjoyable game for everyone than suddenly finding out that you aren’t fighting Ultramarine successors but Imperial Fists who are getting a completely different set of bonuses, or that a big beastie actually has a load of ranged weapons that aren’t on the model as you pour out of cover out of charge range.

Unless its a very regular opponent, I think a quick conversation about the style of game helps.  Are you being kind and allowing take backs or use of stratagems a little out of turn if they were forgotten?  Or are you sticking rigorously to the order of play?  Generally people are easy with either option, but its incredibly frustrating to allow your opponent to redo something, only to be told you can’t do the same.  It tends to come up more in multiplayer games – making sure everyone is on the same page really helps.

Setup and Turn 0

Its very easy to forget that your army isn’t just a generic force, but one that has specific requirements.  A small elite force generally wants to set up very differently to a big guard regiment.  Think through the games you’ve done well at, and think about the deployment options if you dice up for missions.  If I have a guard regiment fighting knights, I want to engage them at range.  Picking deployments that box in the hordes of troops, don’t leave me space to manoeuvre the tanks and block avenues of fire is going to cripple me – which is exactly what the knight general will do to you if he wins the deployment rolls.  If you haven’t even though about this and pick standard options, you can really hurt your own chances.  Make sure you have an idea for how you want to use reserves, and what you want to deploy, as that’ll affect these options too.

Turn 0, I hear you ask?  Well, there are increasing numbers of stratagems and special rules that happen after setup, but before turn 1 begins.  Have a crib sheet reminding you to use any of those special stratagems, as you won’t get a second chance!  And if you miss them and start the game frustrated?  You’ll enjoy it less and already be on the back foot.

Let the Games Begin

We’re now into the games proper!  There are several things I thoroughly recommend.

Make sure you have clear and obvious ways of tracking things like command points.  Dice or a tracking dial that you and your opponent can see helps.  Same for wound markers on minis – it really helps everyone keep track of the game.

Try to have a crib sheet of stratagems and powers, so you don’t forget what you could be doing each turn.  It also helps to note down ways of stacking them and ways not to use them.  If you have a captain letting you reroll 1s to hit, and a lieutenant giving you rerolls of 1 to wound, using a psychic power on the same unit to help them hit is probably redundant.  Break the notes down to when you can use each ability during a turn – don’t miss out on healing with your apothecary because you forget to use it at the end of the movement phase.

Most of all, you want to have fun.  Don’t try to “gotcha” the opponent with a surprise ability or an arsey interpretation of the rules as written.  Beat them with tactics, placement, planning your shooting and close combat, sure.  Pulling a “lol – I can actually setup here as its 9″ away straight up” just irritates.

If the game is a one sided slaughter, do you play to the end?  Well, there’s always a chance to turn it around, and if you can do so with grace, I highly recommend it.  If it just feels miserable, though, offer to call it.  If you aren’t enjoying the game at all, dragging it out can be awkward for everyone.   If you aren’t enjoying it, why play?  I quite enjoy the heroic last stand, myself, and if I’ve simply been outplayed or made mistakes I’ll regroup and fight to the end.  That’s not for everyone, and if you’re feeling you’re being beaten by rules rather than the player, it can feel terrible.

Also, take photos and post them up for people like me on twitter to see for vicarious gaming fun 😉

Finishing the Game

I love having a quick chat at the end of the game, make sure my opponent had fun too, and finding out what they liked, what they didn’t like, and so on.  If the game has swung into a thrashing, a quick chat at the end can help establish why, and perk up everyones mood.  Talk about the models that did well – I find allocating an MVP award to the best model or unit on both sides is interesting, as your perception and your opponents can differ radically.  It gives some real insight and really helps people improve their games.

Summary

If you’ve taken anything away from this, I hope its that we should be working out how to play a good fun game, not how to hammer your opponent by abusing the rules.  Knowing the rules, or having reminders, so you aren’t holding the game up and frustrating yourself helps the game flow better and be a more enjoyable experience.  Try to make sure you both have a fun game, and try to identify which bits were the most fun and what wasn’t as enjoyable for both of you.  Done right, every game of 40k against a regular opponent should be more and more entertaining for everyone.

Contrast Paints – Maximised!

Well, after a few months of using contrast paints, I think its worth taking a look at what really works for me with contrast paints, and what I’ve learned through experimentations and from others.  

Let me qualify all of this, though, by saying that painting is a very personal hobby.  While I’ve found this tremendously useful, your mileage may vary.  I’m not going to jump in with tips and tricks, though – I’m going to go systematically through contrast paints, as I’ve found understanding them in some detail has made working with them much more productive.  We’re going to begin with looking at the paints themselves, look at how important the underlying primer or base paint is, then thoughts on methods of applying them, and finally some thoughts on how to work with other techniques rather than just pure contrast to kick things up another notch.

Understanding the Paints

It sounds silly.  Its paint.  You put it on a brush and slap it on a model.  Whats to understand?  Well, if you understand how contrast paints work on the model, how they inter-relate with other paints, washes and shades, and how they are designed to be used, you instantly get two benefits – you know how to get the very best out of them,  and also avoid frustration when a paint doesn’t work for you because you are trying to use it in a way it really isn’t designed for.  This isn’t an in depth technical guide to how the paints work – its a practical hands on look.

Contrast paints use a range of different pigments in a different medium that are designed to separate out, with the darker pigment being drawn into the slower drying recesses as the liquid contracts.  It is designed to separate on the model.  This leads us instantly to the first practical consequence – contrast paints need bloody extensive shaking to fully mix the pigment to get the proper effect on the model.  If you don’t, you’ll get odd tones and often insufficient main colours or contrasting dark colour in the recesses.  You need to shake them much more thoroughly than normal paints.

Another consequence of the nature of the paint is that the paint is designed to separate as the contrast medium dries.  The key to that sentence is the contrast medium.  If you add water, you change the nature of the medium.  It doesn’t separate as much, and starts acting as a wash or glaze.  That’s fine, people say, I don’t need to thin it, so water isn’t going to be a factor.  But how are you cleaning your brush?  Not drying your brush a little after washing it is one of the main reasons I see streaky effects with contrast paints.  A tiny amount of water doesn’t make much difference, but if you have a habit of using a fairly wet brush, it really can damage the contrast effect.

Finally, contrast paints are designed to be applied straight from the pot.  This is one of the factors of the paints that far too few painters step back and think about.  This paint is designed to be used for a specific effect straight from the pot.  It isn’t designed for a particular shade of colour so much as its designed as three shades of colour to achieve a specific goal – a highlight (close to the primer colour), a layer, and  a recess (and the colour visible in the pot tends to be the latter).

If I pick up a pot of Magos Purple, it looks really washed out as a purple.  There’s a reason for that.  This is, I firmly believe, a paint designed to be applied from the pot as a gene stealer hybrid flesh tone.  The colours are spot one for such an result, and the clue is in the name.  This is true of a lot of the range.  You aren’t applying a colour, but an effect designed to work straight from the pot, and if you use a colour designed to be light flesh tones, it needs to be light.  You sometimes need to try the paints out – Shyish Purple is the strong purple for general coverage.  Aethermatic blue can leave you with quite a washed out blue – its really more to add a mysterious blue glow effect over part of the model and designed to pick up the recesses, I think.  Think effects with contrast paints, rather than colours, and you’ll lose that frustration.  And many of the paints are gloriously vibrant – the reds, shish purple, volupus pink.  These are just so much fun to get on a model.  One useful tip – if the colour mentions a space marine chapter, its for space marine armour, and will have excellent vibrant coverage.

You can always wait and add additional layers of the milder contrast paints to get a stronger effect, or thin the stronger ones down with contrast medium (volupus pink mixed 50/50 with contrast medium is an absolutely note perfect colour for Witch Elf Hair, for example), but understanding the reason for the effect in the first place makes things a lot less frustrating.

Putting paint on the model first

Its very easy to jump into contrast paints and not think enough about what goes on underneath the contrast, but the choice of primer determines the entire underlying tone of the finished piece, and is absolutely vital to the end result.  People look at pics of contrast paint over the various primers, choose a primer, based on that, and away they go.  And … well … that’s just not enough to get the absolute best out of contrast.

The reason why primer is so important when working with contrast is basically that contrast paint is thin and translucent, drying more opaque in the recesses and almost transparent on the edges as the medium contracts.  That means two things – the colour show through, which is what changes the tone, but also that the paint has to contract over the primer.  A lot of people don’t pay enough attention to the latter.  You need a smooth primer, and its one of the main reasons to use wraith bone or grey seer as off whites – straight white paint tends to dry grainy.  Almost every single picture I’ve seen on twitter where people have slapped contrast on a mini and said its rubbish has had an obviously grainy primer on first.  Effectively, the paint recedes around the grains rather that the detail on the model.  It breaks the effect.

You also don’t have to stop with a single colour primer.  People tend to spray wraithbone or corax white, maybe add some metallics, and stop.  But you can do just so much more here.  Paint sections grey for dark tones.  Paint flesh in wraith bone for warmth even if the armour looks better with a general grey seer primer.  Drybrush a lighter tone over the primer to get exaggerated highlights.  There’s so much you can do quickly before applying contrast, and it all improves the effect if you understand what you want to achieve, rather than just thinking about getting contrast on quickly.  

A real highlight with contrast paint is zenithal priming, though I think its something a lot of people get wrong.  Contrast needs a tone to show through on the highlights, so doing a traditional black to white gradient ends up with black highlights in places!  It works far more effectively to go mid grey (administratum or halfords), go up to grey seer, go up to wraith bone, then go up to white (corax or halfords), making sure the coats are all smooth.  This looks fantastic, and gives a tremendous lighting effect while contrast takes care of the recess shading.  You can double down with an airbrush by doing multiple light source effects this way in very little time.

Finally, one of the most difficult things with contrast is, frankly, applying contrast paint quickly and effectively.  You usually have an all white or all cream model to start with, and while its easier to see the outlines than with black primer, it is so easy to miss details.  Particularly for larger, more complex models, add a light wash of agrax or nuln oil first.  It makes a massive difference to what you can see on the model, and lets you paint in the sections much more effectively, minimising any time on clean up.

Applying Contrast Paint

We’re now ready to slap some paint on the primed models!  Huzzah!

Let me first address one of the most unfortunate marketing slogans  – “One Thick Coat”.  Its a clever parody of the two thin coats motif used over and over for how to use standard acrylic paints, and with contrast (assuming you have the right paint for the effect), you do indeed just apply one coat from the pot that you haven’t thinned down.

It has led to more contrast screwups I’ve seen on social media than bad priming.  The idea isn’t to apply a thick coat.  The idea is to apply one coat from the pot.  Slapping on contrast is like slapping on a agrax wash – you want enough coverage to apply an overall tone, and to highlight the recesses, but not so much you get the paint pooling all over the model.  A smooth even application is the goal, and the contrast medium will take care of the rest.  Don’t try to apply a thick coat – just one coat from the pot.

Applying contrast itself is an usual art, and quite personal, so please bear that in mind for this next section.

Ideally, you want a brush that holds a reasonable amount of contrast paint in the belly.  When you apply the brush, it feels like you are putting on normal paint, not a wash (despite the fact it looks like a wash).  if you run the brush over raised areas, like you do with a wash, you’ll leave chunks of model unpainted.  You need to approach it like your normal base coat.

The one technique you need to take from applying washes is reducing pooling by sucking up any over application of contrast onto the brush.  If you don’t do this, the application will look patchy and terrible.  

Contrast is hard on brushes.  Because of the way it separates, you will need to stop and clean your brush frequently – and as already mentioned, you’ll want to make sure the bristles are reasonably dry after you clean them.  It doesn’t have to be 100% dry, but any droplets of water that run down the handle will destroy the medium effect.

One of the very interesting things with contrast paint is that darker contrast paints cover lighter ones amazingly well.   Even when people notice this, they often don’t think through the logical consequences.

We’ve been trained for years to paint models from the inner recesses to the outer trim.  It makes sense – if we get paint on the outer bits reaching while reaching the brush through, it doesn’t matter.  Normal paint will just go over all that.  That doesn’t work for contrast though.  Blood Angels Red can’t cover black templar at all, effectively.

Instead, if we plan our approach by colour, painting the lightest colours first, and painting increasingly carefully as we apply darker and darker colours, we can effectively go over the lighter colours leaving almost no trace of the lighter one, without needing to repaint the primer colour to clear it up.  Its tremendously quick compared to re-edging every colour.  In addition, if you have applied a light wash over the primer, picking out areas as you paint is much easier, leading to much fewer mistakes (and also hiding any little gaps between the colours from speed painting).  Its so much more efficient!

Because darker colours overpower weaker contrast colours so much, mixing colours isn’t very effective.  It adds a slight hint of the lighter colour to the darker colour.  Where that is very useful is just adding a tone – a hint of navy to black with leviadon blue mixed with black templar for a judge dredd style dark shiny leather, or wildwood brown with black templar for a warm black leather look.  It still looks black, but the note of colour brings out a difference so you can use the same colour on a model for different areas.

If you want to get more of a mix on lighter colours, i find adding 50% of the main colour, 25% contrast medium and 25% of the tone works well – blood angels red with some shysish purple gives a lovely deep red tone (though Fleshbearers is already brilliant neat!  One area where people complain about contrast is the washed out look for some of the paints – these are fantastic mixed with other paints to add depth to the recesses while not affecting the layer and edge areas of the model.  Look for ways to make the paints work rather than complaining about the deliberate effect.

Using Other Techniques

One of the oddest things I’ve come across with contrast paints is the way so many people seem to see it as all or nothing.  I just use contrast as a tool in the arsenal, though it is the primary tool when speed painting.

However, adding other techniques to the mix really brings up the overall quality, and doesn’t have to add much time.  Have some magic runes?  I have a Morathi with blue runes in the midst of scaly black.  I blobbed aethermatic blue over the runes, painted the bulk of the scales black, then dry brushed over the runes with abaddon black.  It gave crisp, clear, vibrant runes in a tiny amount of time while letting me use Black Templar to paint a massive amount of the model.

Want to improve the depth of colour?  Use contrast over an area, dry brush it white or off white, then put another coat of contrast on.

Want to really make edges pop?  Then do some classic edge highlight key areas that stand out to the eye after getting a quick coat of contrast on the model.  You can highlight after contrast – you don’t just have to use that paint.

Want an edge highlight look in a different colour for a tron effect? Paint the area with black templar or basilicanum grey, dry brush with white, the use a layer of vivid contrast over the top.

My favourite effect at the moment is to use the lighter contrasts over metals (like magos purple over gold – glorious!), then use gloss medium or a gloss wash over that to bring up the shine.  Gorgeous, genuine metallic look with ease.  Aethermatic looks great over bronze!

That’s just a few quick ideas right away, but you get the idea.  Mixing traditional techniques selectively with contrast to add improvement for minimal effort?  Total winner.  They are really a whole new style of painting, so keep trying things out, and focus on what you find works for you …. not that you think Magos Purple looks washed out.

Updated Tale of #ParentPainters

Well, #ParentPainters is looking like a terrific success, with lots of people taking part, and we felt it was time to provide some updated details!

#ParentPainters started as a monthly paint along for the ParentPlayers, a group of parents who meet up for infrequent (3 times a year) sessions at Warhammer World, gaming with fellow parents who understand the pressures of being a parent, what its like gaming with little sleep or remembering what edition it is, and generally getting away for a bit!  A lot of us all wanted to try AoS, so we decided to try to paint a unit a month, with the idea of meeting up for some fantastic Age of Sigmar gaming next July.

Its really taken off on twitter, though, and lots of people who aren’t parents wanted to join in!  That’s absolutely fine!  The more the merrier!  Its more an inducement to get some painting done – even painting along equivalent 40k or boardgame minis is cool!

We currently have the following schedule (which we are going to extend shortly to allow Xmas pressie planning!)  Not all armies have units that necessarily meet the theme (or you might not have models available), in which case you have a “paint what you like month” – we’re generally suggesting minis from non-battleline units that month.

  • November – Initial Character Model
  • December – a Battleline unit … with a festive note of red somewhere on the model or base!
  • January – a Behemoth unit
  • February – a cavalry unit, or some faction scenery.
  • March – a Battleline unit

If you want to find out how a unit fits into your chosen faction, the faction battletome can help, or you can look at GW’s online “Warscroll” builder, which makes it nice and easy to plan an army or just see what models fall into which categories

Please remember this is fun – there’s no obligation to paint fully maxed out units if you can only fit in a few minis.  Enjoy yourself, and use it as a motivation to keep painting.

At the moment, the current participants are:

@Xacheriel with Ogors

@EvilKipper with the fell Daughters of Khaine

@AlphaDevilinak with stinky Nurgle Daemons

@TheFirstAutarch with brilliant classic elves!

@GhostWalker0299  with a lovely classic undead take on Ossiarch Bonereapers

@PaintingPauper with fantastic Night Haunts

@DaveBass2 with amazing Vampires.  And loads of em, too!

@GamesMistress21 with some intriguing Gloomspite Gits

@DarrenBogus with just fantastic undead, leaning a little Night Haunts with his initial Banshee

@Hobbitarn with another take on Ossiarch Bonereapers, going much more vibrant and unearthly.

@BigBadBirch with Slaves to Darkness, kicking off with a fantastic DarkOath Chieftain.

@sixeleven with an amazing Gloomspite Gitz champion so far

@JB_Paints with a superb Stormcast start, kicking off with an amazing Stormcast Lord Arcanum on a ferocious Dracoline.

@Drakes_Guardian looking at Slaves to Darkness

@Little_Misters is kicking off with a Seraphon army.  Lizards for the Win!

@SteamTrainTime is looking at a steampunk style Cities of Sigmar ensemble

@AvarrisXbox is also looking Bonereapers!  Lovely models that seem to be popular right now!

The current plan is to start with a fun character model in November (I’m looking at painting either Morathi!), and do a unit of Battleline in December, with more units to be added to the timeline going forward.  You could use the Path to Glory rules to help you pick, and there’s no pressure to have fully maxed out units – paint to your speed.

Let us know if you’d like to join in!  Just use the hashtag and paint away!

Tale of #ParentPainters!

As you probably know by now, a group of parents all meet up in Warhammer World a few times a year for some laid back gaming at #ParentPlayers.  We’re due for the 7th Parent Players meet up on the 1st/2nd November 2019.

Although we’ve generally focussed on Warhammer 40K, we’re all intrigued by Age of Sigmar, and going to be starting new armies in November, for a monthly paint-along using the tag #ParentPainters on twitter to show our work in progress and our finished models along the way.

The plan is to do one unit a month with a monthly theme (such as Character, Battleline and so on), until we have full armies, that we’ll all bring to an AoS themed #ParentPlayers event in the summer of 2020.  There’s no obligation to attend the event – you can join in from anywhere around the world and just have fun painting along with a new army!  As we’re parents, the odds are real life won’t let us all attend anyway, but hopefully we can get one unit a month done.

The event is being primarily organised by @Xacheriel over on twitter.   At the moment, we have involvement from:

@TheFirstAutarch – painting a Sylvaneth/Kurnothi/Wanderers force.

@evilkipper – painting Daughters of Khaine

@Xacheriel – painting Flesheater Courts or Ogors

@AvarrisXbox – painting Idoneth Deepkin

@sixeleven – painting Gloomspite Gitz

The current plan is to start with a fun character model in November (I’m looking at painting either Morathi or Gotrek!), and do a unit of Battleline in December, with more units to be added to the timeline going forward.  You could use the Path to Glory rules to help you pick, and there’s no pressure to have fully maxed out units – paint to your speed.

Let us know if you’d like to join in!  Just use the hashtag and paint away!

A Quick Guide to Miniature Painting Terminology

This guide attempts to define a lot of the words you’ll hear from seasoned painters when describing how to paint your model using acrylic paints.  Rather than being ordered A-Z, it’s grouped by the rough stage through the process, so you’ll find terms that are often used together grouped together.  The phrases are generally applicable, but generally refer more closely to GW terminology as the market leaders in miniatures.


Priming


Priming a model, or Undercoating, is applying a type of paint called Primer that goes on the model first, and is designed to grip to the surface, providing a base for the other paints to stick to.  It’s particularly important when painting metal models, as acrylic paint can chip off metal models easily if they are used heavily as game pieces.  The colour of this undercoat has quite an impact on colours painted over the top – black primer will tend to make the model feel subdued and realistic, while white primer will pop and be vibrant.  Grey colour starts with a neutral palette.  Some techniques will require specific undercoats to work – Citadel Contrast paints, for example, require a very light primer, normally a off white cream called Wraith-bone.  Some coloured primers will also effectively work as one of the main colours on the miniature, saving you a lot of time.

Primers can be applied by brush, airbrush, or by aerosol cans.  The latter requires a certain amount of caution – a small number of materials on the market can react badly to spray primers.  Reaper Bones in particular shouldn’t be primed by spray aerosols as a rule of thumb.


Zenithal Priming


Zenithal priming is an interesting concept.  Essentially, we aren’t going to cover the model with a single colour undercoat.  Instead we prime the whole model in a darker colour, and then pick a direction.  We then spray increasing lighter colours from that directly, moving in smaller arcs to cover less of the model each time, so the effects is to have gradation of colour from light to dark for the painting to go over, creating subtle shadows. 

Because this gives a gradation of colour from dark to light underlying the other paints, this can sometimes be referred to a zenithal highlighting.


Tabletop quality or Battle ready


Not every miniature is going to be a golden demon award winner, and if you want to field entire armies for games, you simply won’t have time!  There’s nothing wrong with painting to a decent basic standard that looks great at the average 3ft distance when playing games.

There’s no exact definition of what constitutes tabletop standard.  Perfectionists might call a beautiful layered and highlighted model table top, because they haven’t added a few last touches.  Tournament players sometimes use the minimum tournament standard as the definition of tabletop, which is a 3 colour minimum for tournament standard, but most people accept that normal tabletop standard involves basecoating the various parts of the models cleanly, together with at least one technique to add depth or highlight to those colours.  It might be a wash, or a drybrush, or the initial base coat may already include that depth with contrast paints, but some technique to accentuate the details.


Display Quality, Competition Quality or Parade Ready


Like tabletop standard, there isn’t really an exact definition of this.  Essentially, it involves painting the miniature to the best of your ability, aiming to produce a model that could enter a competition like Golden Demon, or be displayed on a display shelf.

Generally you’ll use multiple techniques to add not just highlights and shadows, but also simulate textures and lighting directions, and all the smaller details will need to be added.  For tabletop quality models designed to be viewed from a distance, painting eyes really isn’t essential.  For a display piece?  You’ll need to master all those additional detail techniques.

Parade Ready can be  a little lower than full competition quality – it essentially takes all the processes through 2 or three more layers or finer highlights to achieve a much better finish, but it may still fall short of a full Display Quality piece, and be closer to what some people call “High tabletop”


Basecoating


Basecoating is the process of putting an initial set of the main colours onto the model.  If you’ve sprayed the whole model in a coloured primer, like blue, all the blue parts may already be done!

There are some subtleties to base coating a model.  If you intend to “layer” your colours up, your first base coat will be much darker than the final colour.  If you intend to “wash” or “dip” your model at the end of the process, then your base coat will need to be lighter than the final colours.

If following a painting guide, the base coat will be the first colour in the process on each of the areas.


“Two Thin Coats”


This is a phrase often used in painting circles, and refers to the fact that it is much better to be patient, and build up multiple thin coats of paint to get a solid coat of colour than to apply thick paint that will dry unevenly, show brushstrokes, and flow unevenly off the brush, leading to mistakes.  Don’t take the name too literally – you aren’t aiming to apply two thin coats in reality.  You want to apply enough thin coats of paint to achieve a consistent colour, letting the paint fully dry between each coat.  Paint should be thinned to around the consistency of semi-skimmed milk.  With dark colours like black or brown, two thin coats will probably work perfectly.  If you try to apply a yellow over a black undercoat, you’ll probably need more!


“One Thick Coat”


Games Workshop have recently released a range of paints called Citadel Contrast.  These paints are designed to be applied straight from the pot, but actually dry as a very thin layer, effectively going on a translucent coat that recedes from the edges, giving the effect of a “base coat”, a light “drybrush” and a “wash”.  One thick coat just means you apply it carefully from the pot rather than thinning it down like traditional paints, and the way the paint  works means you only normally need to put a single coat on.  Do not deliberately try to put a “thick” coat on by slapping loads on.  That isn’t the intention of the phrase at all, and caused more than a few people to discount a wonderfully effective technique.


Wash


A wash is heavily diluted paint or ink applied over an area of a model – in some cases, a wash may even be applied all over a model to give a consistent tone and simple shading all over.  While it’s often used for large areas,  it can be applied much more carefully for specific effects like on hair.

  • Pin Wash – a pin wash involves applying a small amount of wash around tiny targeted areas of a model, like around rivets or bolts on a metal panel.  Its a technique most often used when painting vehicles as washes don’t work as well used over big flat panels.

Drybrush


Drybrushing is a technique where you apply some paint to a brush, then take most of the paint back off again with paper towel or something similar!  Now, when you drag the bristles gently over the model, only a little paint catches on the tops and ridges of the models, applying a quick and easy highlight.

Drybrushing used to be a more prevalent technique, but it is deprecated in the current very clean look popularised by Games Workshop’s display team, the ‘Eavy Metal painters.  Their own terminology guide relegates dry brushing to use on bases or terrain only.

Many experienced painters love drybrushing for organic materials.  The slightly random way the paint adheres to the raised surfaces gives a very natural look, and on surfaces like rock, bark, fur and hair, it can give better results than manual highlights for all but the very top painters. 

  • Over-brushing is an interesting variation on drybrushing, where you take off less paint from the brush, leading to the paint effectively covering the model except in the recesses.  I’ve also seen this referred to as slop-brushing.  Its a quick but effective technique for layering, especially when combined with a lighter drybrush afterwards.

Layering


Layering is the process of adding multiple layers of paint to an area of a miniature to achieve a gradation of colour – from light to dark, dark to light, or even across a spectrum in odd circumstances.  For a simple effect on a red cloak, you might start with a dark reddy brown, then paint a layer of mixed brown and red slightly higher on the folds, then paint a layer of of red higher again.  Advanced painters might put on many more layers of slightly different colours between the top and bottom of the range.  The more layers, the smoother the colour transition appears.

Layering is often combined with Blending to smooth the transitions between the different layers even more, or with a Glaze over the top to smooth the transitions out by filtering it through another thin level of paint.

In general, most painters will start with simply basecoat, wash and highlight or drybrush techniques, and gradually increase the complexity of their starting colour with additional layering over time.


Blending


Blending is the process of mixing two different colours together in a transition on the model.  Some people see layering as a form of blending, and use the terms interchangeably.  There are various techniques for blending colours effectively, including:

  • Wet blending – essentially, you paint some of one colour on, and before its dry, paint some of a second colour on, and mix the still wet paints together to blend together on the model itself.  It sounds simple, but can be very difficult to pull off!  
  • Feathering – feathering is a technique of using the brush in a gentle zig zag pattern, like tickling with a feather, to thin out a little paint over another to achieve a transition.  Because of the gentle erratic effect, it breaks up the sharp line between colours for a much smoother 
  • Two Brush Blending – Here you use one brush with paint, and one brush with water to thin out the edges – you’d often use feathering with the second wet brush to achieve the blend.
  • Double Loading –  load your brush with the lighter of the two colours, get the paint off the tip, then carefully load the tip with the darker colour.  Now, if you sweep the brush sideways, the colours will blend with the pressure of the stroke as they leave the brush. This is fast, but can be a little rough, and often softened with a glaze afterwards.

Highlight


A highlight is a lighter shade of paint painted over the normal colour that will stand out.  Sometimes layering can be described as highlighting, but in modern miniature painting highlights generally refer to sharper changes in colour than gentle layering.  It is normally intended to simulate the effect of light on the surface, but can be an artistic decision to draw attention to a particular part of the model.  There are many different type of highlight in miniature painting.  4 specific type of common highlights used right at the edges of panels by the ‘Eavy Metal team are:

  • Chunky Highlight – This is about 1.5 times bigger than your final highlight, and only slightly lighter than the main colour of the panel, building a transition.
  • Edge Highlight – This builds on the chunky highlight, and starts building the contrast.  For simple use of the edge highlighting technique, this may be the only highlight applied.
  • Final Highlight – This is the brightest highlight, defining the shape of the panel. It should be reserved for the most prominent edges, and help illustrate light falling on the model.
  • Spot Highlight – This is the last highlight, applied only at the very corners to initiate light catching on the hard surface.  On hard surfaces, this is generally very bright, often white.  Soft surfaces may miss this step, or use a softer colour contrast than hard surfaces.

Stippling


Stippling is an interesting technique, using a stiff bristled brush or a dedicated circular stippling brush.  Essentially, you make sure the paint is loaded evenly, and then, instead of painting with brush strokes, you dab straight down onto the surface, using the pressure to govern the amount of transfer straight under the brush.  This is a fantastic technique for breaking up edges of overlapping colours when blending,  applying spots of colour for animals, or over a surface to apply texture to cloth.


Shade


A shade is used to define the form of a model, defining recesses.  2 types of shade as used by the ‘Eavy Metal team are:

  • Soft Shade – A soft shade is used to define softer shadows than the tighter recesses that we need to deep shade.  Applying gentle shadows to the folds of  a cloak with very dilute shade paints is a great example of a soft shade.  In many ways, soft shading can be a form of layering building darker colours down into gentle folds.  It can also be used to add contrast to normal layering – a soft shade with a hint of red on a green cloak in the recesses can be very effective if you study the colour theory.
  • Deep Shade – A deep shade (or recess shade) is only applied in the very deepest recesses of the model, like shading the fine panel lines on armour.  A useful tip is that diluted normal paint will give better control than using normal shade paints designed to be applied as washes.

Glaze


A glaze is quite difficult to define.  Essentially, it’s a thin coat of a colour applied to gently tint the model.  Unlike a wash, we aren’t intending for paint to settle more in recesses and define shadows – we want to tint the area of the model evenly.  There’s no hard and fast rule as to how thin the paint should be, as that will depend on how well the starting paint covers.  Dark colours will need to be thinned significantly more than lighter ones for the same translucent effect on the whole.

Applying a glaze over gently layered colours will unify the tone and improve the colour transitions.  Glazes can also be used to make colours seem richer and more vibrant while preserving the subtle colour differences from layering or highlighting underneath the translucent glaze.


 NMM – Non Metallic Metals


Non Metallic Metals are a fantastic concept.  If you read a comic book, or study a lot of art, actual reflective metals weren’t available.  Using the reflections to simulate the colours we see on a gold, running from brown, though yellow, to pure white glints, we can paint the illusion of metal reflecting light from a particular angle.  It’s a very advanced technique, as to do it well you have to really understand light sources and how it reflects from metal surfaces.  Many people frown on the technique for tabletop minatures, partly as it is very time consuming, but also because NMM involves assuming the location of imaginary light sources.  Multiple models reflecting apparently different light sources because of their position in the game can look wrong to the eye, though they look fantastic posed together as a display unit.


TMM – True Metallic Metals


TMM or True Metallic Metals is synthesis of using NMM techniques to simulate metal from dark to light, with actual metallic paints!  Instead of painting silver straight on and then applying a wash, you’d paint dark metals to the very lightest metals as if you were simulating metal with non-metallic paints – maybe a very dark metal in the shadows, through gun metal and up to silver on the edges catching light from an imaginary light source, and maybe some brilliant white glints to simulate the normal reflections.  It can be tremendously effective, but requires all the expertise of NMM painting and understanding of light, combined with working with metallic paints, which don’t always flow as nicely as many acrylics.  But when done successfully the metals truly pop amazingly for display pieces.


OSL – Object Source Lighting


Object Source Lighting is a tricky concept to implement successfully.  Essentially you need to paint light sources on a model, like headlights on a tank or a candle next to a miniatures leg – but you don’t just paint the source, but paint nearby surfaces to take into account the brighter or coloured light.  A glowing blue sphere in a wizards hand might tint nearby surfaces blue as well, for example.  This might be achieved by glazing surfaces to tint them, or can be achieved in a very quick and effective way with an airbrush – spraying the light source with an airbrush gives a hit of colour in the centre fading out as it gets further away, and works perfectly for this effect.

#ParentPlayers 7

What is Parent Players?

Parent Players is a semi-regular meet-up with a group of wargamers who all have children and don’t often get to game. We plan the events months in advance so we can arrange childcare and make sure it’s in family diaries, and hope no emergencies, illness or accidents intervene!

As we’re all parents, we all are in the same boat, and it’s nice to play some really relaxed games and have a few beers with people who enjoy your hobby, understand the pressures you’re under, and are pretty relaxed about the fact you haven’t played a game in months and keep remembering the rules from 2 editions ago.

Most of the focus is on GW games, predominantly 40K. We meet up in Warhammer World in Nottingham on a Friday, play big games all day, retire to a nearby hotel where we get a few more beers in and play games like Fluxx, Coup, or Munchkin in the bar. The Saturday tends to be smaller games in Bugmans as it can be hard to get tables if an event is on, and some of us may be a little worse for wear…. (Just to be clear, beers are optional and several of the regulars are teetotal. Playing silly games is the important bit!)

Tables are harder to arrange since the events team stopped taking bookings, so it’s particularly hard to guarantee availability on the Saturday.  Several of us live close enough to be able to pretty much guarantee a decent spread of tables on the Friday at opening time.   It looks like there’s a Blood Bowl event on the Saturday. We’ve got the Fall of Imperius Terra (better know as the Warlord table) on the Friday, and Spyral Prime – a 6×8 monster city fight.  Of course, on the Friday grabbing extra tables tends to be pretty straightforward.  We also have J’Mgan Bridge – the largest table they have – for a big game on the Saturday, and I suspect a fair chunk of fun games will be happening in Bugmans too!

When is the next Parent Players?

The sixth parent players is still to happen on the 6/7th September, but the Seventh Parent Players is on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd November 2019

What do you need?

Well, to play, you’ll need the latest rules and a force for the game. We’re definitely expecting Warhammer 40K, Blackstone Fortress (with TheFirstAutarch’s gorgeous set) Bloodbowl and Shadespire to be on the agenda – if you don’t have a force for any game you’d like to play, it’s not too hard to arrange to borrow one from one of the other people attending, but you need to arrange it in advance to ensure it’s there on the day. For 40K, we tend to play fairly fluffy 1750pts lists (but bring along 1000pts and 2000pts variants for some multiplayer shenanigans ).  If you can’t field a 40k army but want to try, a lot of us have been in the hobby for some time and can probably bring a spare … though it isn’t necessarily going to full of the latest models. Bloodbowl tends to be standard starter teams of 1,000,000 crowns, and Shadespire is generally standard gang starter decks.

You’ll also need transport to Warhammer World, and somewhere to stay. We generally stay in the Holiday Inn near Warhammer World and several people have already booked rooms. Its certainly not compulsory to stay in the hotel if you want to arrange somewhere else, but we do have some cracking games.

It’s a pretty laid back event – some of us make up our own t-shirts to match our armies with our names and twitter handles, but again, that’s really not necessary.

How do I stay in touch?

We all can be found on twitter. I’m evilkipper and seem to be co-ordinating it at the moment, but the whole thing was the devious concept of thefirstautarch. Other regular attendees include oneoflots, avarrisxbox, grimdarkness40, bigbadbirch and alphadevilinak as well as horde of possible attendees who haven’t been able to escape the kids!

Say hi to any of us, and we’ll keep you in the loop on twitter with all the updates.

Basing your minis

Grantosaur over on Twitter asked a really interesting question about upping his basing game, and I found it a really difficult question to answer!  Why?  Because as a hobby we’ve moved to tutorials on doing specific effects like ice or lava, and don’t really talk about the basics of basing any more.

I thought it might be worth taking a look through my own ideas about basing in a bit more detail, and see if that helps at all!   This next discussion assumes we’re starting with blank bases, not custom bases with lots of detail already!

For me, basing seems to involve several distinct stages:

  1. I tend to add any bigger chunks of terrain designed to elevate the models.  
  2. I add texture.
  3. I add any additional detail pieces.  
  4. Next comes painting.
  5. Finally we add any final effects

Elevating the model


I have to admit, I fairly often skip this stage entirely, myself.   For heroes and leaders, it can look very effective to raise up a model.  It can also be useful for older models which are smaller than current equivalents to be raised up and get a bit more presence.

Obviously, this stage can get as complex as you like.  You might use a big chunk of a broken vehicle, build a plasticard set of stairs, or use any of hundreds of big bits of resin or plastic terrain.  

The two classic options that are easily accessible tend to be cork boards, broken and built up as rocks, and bits of slate.  If you are building several layers, especially if you have a heavier metal model going on top, I thoroughly recommend pinning cork into place!  Slate bases look really effective too, and can add a nice heft to the base of minis that can otherwise tend to tip.  Both can be picked up cheaply – cork coasters or tiles from hobby stores are cheap, and often also available in bigger options for army basing at DIY stores.  Slate can often be found really cheaply in DIY stores in the garden section as opposed to small expensive packs from hobby stores.

A good video guide for cork bases can be found here

A good video guide to slate bases can be found here


Adding Texture


As we enter the second stage, I think its important to mention that you shouldn’t be too rigid on the order you do things here.  You might want to paint some pieces that will be obscured later in the process right away, or you might want to skip step one entirely for rank and file troops!  That’s all absolutely fine.  

Adding texture is a really important step, though.  Unless you have a completely styled resin base, you’ll also certainly want to ensure that the ground feels like a real surface of some kind.  There are a myriad of ways to achieve this, and I don’t think any one way is better than another.  The important thing is to be consistent through a particular force.

One of the simplest  and classic ways to add texture is to add sand to the base,  using PVA glue to fix it into place.  You can mix up the texture by having a range of sizes of sand and tiny stones, and it’s very accessible.  Cheap sand from a  DIY store is easy to find.  I started basing models this way back in Rogue Trader.  You can then paint it to match the environment with a base colour, drybrush and wash, and it can be quite convincing earth or desert with ease.

Many of the GW texture paints mimic this effect with granules inside a paint, like Stirling Battlemire.  Its a fantastic time saver, though comparatively more expensive.  It looks genuinely good for churned earth.

Other texture paints go for another effect to simulate cracked, dry earth, using a technique often called crackle.  Essentially the thick paint contracts as it dries, exposing the layer underneath.  It looks fantastic for dry cracked earth, and for red martian ground you’d have to go a long way to beat the Martian Ironcrust look. To get the best effect, you need to remember to paint the base first, though, as it’ll be revealed through the cracks, or repaint the whole thing afterwards!  There are many hobby suppliers of crackle medium allowing you to mix up this effect with your own choice of colours to get an effect just as you like it, but it often doesn’t work very well or gives too fine an effect.  It can be worth paying more for a pretty guaranteed success with the GW technicals.

Another good way of adding bigger, more complex textures like cobblestones or roads is to use green stuff and sculpt the texture onto the base.  If, like me, you lack all sculpting skills, you can cheat with a press mould or rolling pin!  Greenstuffworld has loads of options to roll onto green stuff that you can then pop onto a base for a perfect texture.  Fantastic and cheap alternative to resin bases for a whole army, and lets you use different parts of the mold for variations over the different bases.   

Of course, you can combine these – have a sculpted paving stone surrounded by earth made from sand and PVA!  The combinations are endless, but your aren’t generally aiming for a masterwork here – the important thing is just adding that texture to make the base feel genuine.


Adding Details


Now, it’s a fine line when it comes to adding extra details to the base.  Too busy, and the base will draw attention away from the model.  Too sparse, and it can end up looking like you haven’t paid any attention to it.  Often a model will already come with some detail under a foot already, so you may not want to worry about it.

However, adding a skull onto the ground, a lost weapon, a piece of a rivals iconography, it can add just another little note of excellence.  One thing I loved on the dreadnought bases, for example, was the shell cases that looks like the default assault cannon had been firing and firing.  Nothing huge, nothing to take attention away from the main model, but a lovely little detail to sell the whole narrative of the piece.

Skulls are a fantastic default option, work for both fantasy and sci-fi, and are everywhere.  The 40k hero bases come with loads of them.  The 40k basing kit comes with loads of them.  Every pack of marines or guard tends to have spare helmets, serving much the same purpose.  An easy touch that makes the base just feel a little bit special and unique.

My rough guide tends to be add one detail piece onto a base up to 32mm.  Add 2 for 40mm bases, and add an extra piece for heroes (remembering to count any details underfoot on the model in there).  Of course, that’s just a loose guide.  Feel free not to follow it.  Honestly, for rank and file troops like Imperial Guard?  I might not add any.  But the occasional detail here and there does make a difference.


Painting


So now we have a base, maybe with some rocks made of cork or slate to give some height, with texture on the base designed to give a particular effect, whether that’s cracked ice, church tiles or churned earth.  We’ve got a few little details, like maybe a skull or a dropped gun, or a dribbly candle.

Now we need to pull it all together and paint it.  If you are doing this separately to your model, remember to take your models colours into account.  You want the base to generally harmonise with the colours on the models and be a little muted.  Too sharp a contrast can draw the focus onto the base and off the model, and generally that’s the last thing you want, outside of a dedicated diorama.


Final Effects


When you finish painting, the base still won’t look quite done, generally.  You’ll want to add a final effect like grass or snow, or maybe some UV resin for a water effect if the bases are set in a swamp.  A simple, easy way of getting great results is gluing the prepared tufts you can buy from a range of different vendors like GW and Army Painter onto the base.

Static grass or flock can look quite good and be quite quick.  Apply glue, cover the base, shake off the excess.  To get the most out of static grass, though, you do really need to run it though a static generator to get the blades pointing up rather than being glued any which way.  Its much much more effective, and you can pick static grass applicators up from Amazon. Its also bloody easy to give yourself a shock!

Another extra point beyond straight grass tufts is to apply the similar tufts with flowers.  Applied sparingly through a force, they give another source of detail and colour without being overwhelming.

Snow effects can look absolutely amazing if applied right, and UV resins for water effects can be absolutely spectacular.  That’s not always a good thing – remember, the base should be designed as the foil to the main miniature – not the star.  In addition, applying them over a full army can be very time consuming and involved – it can be worth saving them for specific models or heroes to help mark them out.


Varnish?


I like to apply a spray varnish at this point, to help lock the base in place and keep it safe when you glue the main model onto it!  That’s not for everyone, and if you’ve used shiny effects on the base, you’ll need to regloss the dull matt varnish effect.


Final Notes


It really helps to have a solid theme in mind while basing.  It doesn’t need to be exact, but if you set out to have all your Sisters of Battle look like they are within a Convent, then you can tie it all together.  Greenstuffworld temple tiles give texture to the base, you could use cork tiles to make steps that you cover with the greenstuff for the heroes, add dribbly candles for details, and paint in drab rock colours with the occasional gold inlay detail.    There’s loads of room to work with individual models, but you’ll tie your entire force together.

I often simply go with just matching my Realm of Battle board.  Churned earth, static grass, skull details, it all goes perfectly with the board I tend to play on, and makes it consistent between armies for keeping the theme between allied imperial forces.

The theme doesn’t really matter so much as the consistency, and that it should add a little interest without detracting from the models.  But over an entire army, those bases are determining a lot of the overall look!  Its worth spending the time to do them right.