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Saturday 7 January 2012

Fantasy Army Design Themes & Bases

Golden Daemon Winner photos

For maximum impact hits (before you even charge !) try choosing an army theme, a consistent colour, painting and basing style and you'll cause 2d6 wounds with no saves of any kind on your opponents pride before the battle begins :) 

It's been a long time since I updated this blog - errr... sorry about that (my Battlefield 2 rank has shot up though and I've almost finished Oblivion, albeit, about six years later than everyone else!)

Anyway I'm back, I think I prefer it here to be honest*

* Quick side note; while computer gaming can be very gratifying at the time (I think I even get an adrenaline rush sometimes), it really does suck if you're after a sense of fulfillment and achievement. Although, I might have a different opinion if I was back at School and was known to have the best kill/death ratio in the playground. That's why I' plan to be spending more time with Warhammer.

Anyway, I have a long list of Fantasy blogging targets for this site because I have been squirreling away all the links to great sites and articles that I stumble across.

First up is a post about Army themes and in particular unit bases*. A new Facebook Friend Axia-Fish Painting Studio got me thinking about this after seeing his excellent High Elf army painted for commission (ask him if you're interested in getting him to paint yours).

* I actually have a "bit of a thing" for unit bases. When I used to do a lot more modelling and painting than I do now days, basing was my favourite part. Bases are quick (the sort I created!), totally under your control (within the size of the base) and the finishing touch that completes a model ready for battle (or the shelf; before ice cream tub storage takes over).

Coincidentally, Axia's Bretonnians featured in a recent Games Workshop blog article (3rd Jan 2012), Axia also won a Bronze Golden Demon in Italy 2011 (for his Eowyn diorama at the top of this post). So you are in no doubt as to how good Axia's painting skills really are, check this out...

Griffon Miniature Competition Winner

Axia's superb High Elf army really caught my attention because it's based on a coastal defence force and so some units have sea lapping at their feet while others are clearly positioned further back on the beach. From Axia's description below it looks like he had a very clear mental image of what he wanted to achieve and his execution is an inspiration (which is the whole point of posting it here).

In Axia's words...

"...about the army they are the 'Defender of the Gate' the army stationed at the Griffon Gate in Ulthuan and as you can see they are waiting the enemies on the beach, ready to fight them. The archers and the eagles like the heroes are waiting in the back of the army as the bases shows and they are all done in NMM [Sigmar: non-metallic metal] and cartoon style. The griffon took Best of Standard prize at Monte San Savino this year (one of the major painting contest of Italy) with other GW models."

Masterclass Warhammer painting photo

I really like the cartoon-style of fantasy miniatures, I used to prefer the more drab, gritty looking style of miniatures when I first started Warhammer but now WFB has become more fantastical it seems appropriate.

Here are some more not-to-be-missed (!!!) expertly painted High Elf cartoon-style minis from Alexi_Z

So, back to bases and the Swordmasters and White Lions occupying and defending the beach head.

Expert Warhammer Fantasy painting

Warhammer painting expert miniatures

Warhammer painting master pictures

Now, scroll up and scroll down a few times while looking at the unit bases. Do you feel it ?  The beach defenders theme ? I do, I feel it a lot, they also seem more dynamic that your usual units with green grass bases. I get the feel of the sea lapping at their feet and, my over active imagination (which is great when it comes to certain things !) is wondering what might be making landfall; a hideous Dark Elf Corsair slave ship, Human Pirates, or maybe something more sinister from "The Deep !"

Anyway, you get the picture, think about your army before galloping off in the wrong direction and changing course later. Have a clear vision of what you would like your army to look like, give it a back story, some history and an objective, throw in some colourful characters and plan it out accordingly from the start.

Thanks again to Axia_Fish, his excellent approach is an example to us all.

Here are some of Axia's Bretonnians (as featured in the GW blog and used here with Axia's permission). Once again, check out the bases (you can find all of these and more in Axia's personal Facebook Album and in the slideshow at the foot of this blog).

Collage of Bretonnia Army model photos

I asked Axia a few questions that I thought people reading this blog might be interested to know, here are his responses (thanks again to Axia for his time and friendliness) :-

1) How did you achieve that water effect ? Particularly the lapping / splashing waves at the feet of the Swordmaster to the far left of the unit.

They are done with greenstuff painted with white. The water effect is regal blue plus hawk torquise with a final wash of gloss varnish.

2) Can you describe the inspiration behind the miniatures, I know they were painted as a commission but did you decide the theme ? If not, then how was it described to you ? 

They were inspired by a previous unit that my client had from 2 years ago so I continued with the NMM style. The water was present on this unit but I developed the entire story around the army that I wrote in previous email. Also the position of the waves is done in a manner that all the units near will form a unic water front and if they are placed on the battlefield in a front with more than 5 models the waves will not remain cutted.

3) What would you say was the most challenging and difficult unit to paint and why ?

The most difficult unit was the sea guard. A lot of details and decorations, a long work to do in NMM style. However I've done a single dragon prince and it was far more difficult.

4) What made you choose the colours you did ?

I based the colour scheme on the first unit that my client have had, with some improvements like the bleached bone robes that contrast with the water and the metal.

5) If you could paint any Games Workshop miniatures on commission, which ones would it be ?

Eehehhe, I love most part of the Games Workshop minis but if I must choose for now I think I will be glad to paint a dwarf 4-5th edition army or a nurgle warriors army for fantasy and death korps of krieg for the 40k.

6) What's the most satisfying miniature/diorama you have ever painted ? (I'll need a photo)

The most satisfyng Games Workshop miniature that I have painted is a Chaos daemonette of the 6th edition that won with the display the Best of Standard at Monte San Savino this year. For two reasons: I like the model and I've tried a different painting style on it especially for the female flesh.

7) How did you get into painting miniatures ?

In the first years of my miniatures life I never painted well a model since I don't like to paint. After when I've received the first commissions I've started to improve myself reading and exercicing myself painting miniatures on commission

8) Who do you admire most as a miniature painter ?

Ehhh difficult question. I admire more than one painter, Automaton for the metallics, Raffaele Picca for the monsters that create, Iguazzu for the tones and my italian friends like Fish and Ammon Chakai for the mad ideas that they have.

9) What would be your advice for anyone else who would like to paint for commission ?

Exercise exercise exercise, focus on what you can do better and go ahead.

Now, back to bases....

I know I featured a couple of the below mini photos in one of my first ever posts so please forgive me for the repetition but they're worth seeing twice.

These are all from the Warhammer Battle Reporters forum and Facebook members (I'm the forum and facebook group admin and they've given me permission to show you their minis, please join us BTW !) These are just to give you some base making inspiration and to show you the sort of options there are and how they really can change not only the look but the whole fee of an army.

Photos of Warhammer bases and trays

A slideshow of all the miniature photos above (drag your mouse left and right over it to accelerate)

To varying degrees, a unit's base (and indeed it's movement tray) can show:-
  1. where they're fighting and their surroundings (eg. underground, in a town, on a hill side, near water, in the snow, in woods, in the desert etc.)
  2. what they're doing, have been doing or are about to do (eg. trapped in mud, emerging from the ground, surrounded by dead bodies, or just shivering and freezing their tootsies off on the ice),
  3. their level of organisation and cohesion (obstacles in the way, eg. tombstones),
  4. their preparedness & aggressiveness (sitting back in the base slot or leaning forward) and of course
  5. the amount of envy the enemy will be feeling about not basing their miniatures like yours !
Ok, I'm probably going a bit over-the-top, all you need to do is to think how much bases can add to your army and then make the bases and movement trays fit in with your army design - you know it makes sense ;-)

That's it folks, thanks for letting me share my thoughts with you, I hope it wasn't too painful ! :)


And finally... here's Eowyn again. You can tell just by looking at the base alone that this is not a Warhammer Fantasy miniature and that it belongs to the Lord of the Rings game - Q.E.D.

LOTR Golden Demon Winner

All images used with the permission of the respective owners.

One last miniature, courtesy of Axia who has just seen my post and would like to share another one of his recent award winners with you. This Daemonette actually beat his Griffon above and several other high quality entries to win Best of Standard at Monte San Savino 2011. Congrats to Axia.

click to greatly enlarge photos
Award winning Warhammer miniature photos
Warhammer miniature award winners
WFB award winning models

Wednesday 1 June 2011

Golden Demon Award Winners Website

Games Workshop's official Golden Demon competition has been running since 1987 (in the UK) and you can see all of the winning miniatures from all countries (!) for all categories (!!) in one place.

GW Golden Demon
If you haven't seen this Golden Demon website before then you are in for quite a treat. It features nearly all of the past winners (plus 2nd and 3rd places) from the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, France, Australia, Germany, Spain, Italy and Poland. Which is well over 1,000 of the best miniatures you will ever see in one place and tens of thousands of hours worth of expert painting for you to take inspiration from !

The site is arranged by country and then by date within which you can browse the individual categories which (currently) are :-

  • Warhammer 40k Single Miniature
  • Warhammer 40k Squad
  • Warhammer 40k Vehicle
  • Warhammer 40k Monster
  • Warhammer Fantasy Single Miniature
  • Warhammer Fantasy Regiment
  • Warhammer Fantasy Monster
  • Duel
  • Diorama
  • Large Scale Model
  • Lord of the Rings Single Miniature
  • Young Bloods
  • Open and finally
  • Best of Show (Forgeworld) and greatest of all...
  • the SLayer Sword winner !

I have visited this site many times and was after some more pics of Matt Parkes amazing Empire Giant attack diorama which won him the UK Slayer Sword in 2010. Then I realize, that people who aren't already aware of this website might actually appreciate it if I told them about it's existence because, strangely, I don't think it's that widely publicized !

Anyway, below is a small sample of what the site has to offer (and why I like these particular miniatures / dioramas). It's quite an awe inspiring site to visit really and is a great place to get some modeling and painting ideas. (pic above is GD Aus 2008 Large Model 2nd place - Sebastian Archer's Squig Hopper)

GW Golden Demon

click to great enlarge any of the images, they're all worth a closer look !

Italy 2009 Warhammer Monster 1st place - Matteo De Franceschi

GW Golden Demon

I love this Ogre Mercenary / Adventurer. The miniature itself is 100% fantasy and reminds me of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying games I used to enjoy - when I had unmarried friends with no kids and lots of free time !

The backdrop really makes this miniature. What an unusual setting, where is he ? how did he get in there ? who's he with and who's he fighting ?

The setting has so much humour in it too. I mean who the heck paints a portrait of a dead or more likely undead Estalian (?) noble on the wall - a grieving Vampire wife maybe ? Check out his Bretonnian coat of arms / patchwork quilt-like knee patch - lol :) who sowed that on for him ? His mum :) ?

The other thing I really like about this model is that it would look great in a display case under the lights. There are lots of vibrant colours and they work well together. Sure it's a really fun fantasy miniature diorama but it's not silly over-the-top fantasy - if you know what I mean ?!

Anyway, moving on...

BTW, I'm not listing these miniatures in any particular order, they're just some of the ones that caught my eye.

Next up - slightly disturbing Chaos weirdness... the Slaanesh Siren Song

Germany 2010 Warhammer Single Miniature 1st place - Georg Damm

This miniature really stood out for me because of the subtle use of colours and the truly exceptional application of them. On top of that you have a remarkably inventive and imaginative miniature conversion playing a deadly looking "violin" while gliding across the undead who almost look like they are arising especially for the music. Yuck ! horrible chaos stuff - but an amazing miniature and deserving winner of a 1st place.

GW Golden Demon

GW Golden Demon

GW Golden Demon

Below you'll find a similar model but a completely and utterly different painting style and colouring...

Italy 2010 Warhammer Single Miniature 1st place - Angelo di Chello

GW Golden Demon

Next up we're off to Spain to see a couple of incredible miniatures that put the Fantasy into Warhammer Fantasy Battle ! I'm pleased I wasn't on the panel having to decide which of these was going to get 1st place.

The below 2 entries are really what it's all about for me; pure full-on fantasy wrapped up in a single no nonsense model. The miniatures are brilliant in themselves but when mounted on simple but effective bases like these and painted like they are they turn into mini works of art. I'd place the Vampire in my top 10 of best miniatures ever - but then I have been known to answer to the name Count Sigmar.

BTW, I like the fact that the artists have really used completely different styles when painting these models. It just goes to show that there's no "one size fits all" approach that you have to adopt. Just choose the painting methods to achieve the final look and feel that you want to.

Spain 2010 Warhammer Single Miniature 1st place - Albert Moretó Font

GW Golden Demon

Spain 2010 Warhammer Single Miniature 2nd place - Juan Carlos Ávila Ribadas

GW Golden Demon

And now for something completely different which surprisingly didn't win 1st place ?!

France 2005 Warhammer Diorama 2nd place - Matt Cexwish

Personally, I love the creativity behind this. A Steam Tank under going repairs - a brilliant idea and very well presented. There are a load more close up pics of the intricacies of this Steam Tank diorama here.

It's great to see so many entrants injecting a bit of humour into their offerings. BTW, this entry was named "Leonardo DiMiragliano´s Heritage!"

GW Golden Demon

Back to Italy again...

Italy 2010 Warhammer Battle Scene 2nd place - Davide Rapazzini and Carmine Giuliano

I'm not sure what's going on here, the goblin looks none too happy and the squigs even less so !  There could be trouble ahead....check out the saddle on the floor - someone's not happy !

Awesome diorama and great to see even more humour and this time a bit of mystery too. Also, this is the first time I've seen a collaborative entry by more than one modeler / painter.

GW Golden Demon

The above one didn't won because the below one did - as you can see, the standard in these competitions is rather high ! It's a zombie outbreak in an Empire town - they're even crawling up from the sewers.

Italy 2010 Warhammer Battle Scene 1st place - Raffaele Du Marteau

GW Golden Demon

Australia 2007 Warhammer Regiment 2nd place - Jamie Downward

I really like this unit because it's simple, brilliantly painted and expertly based and they look like the sort of unit I would actually like to show off on the battlefield rather than in a display cabinet. I have to say though, I'd be keeping them out of harms way so I didn't have to take them off the table too soon !

GW Golden Demon

Bright and beautiful and back into the more cartoony side of fantasy battle - a very "tooled-up" Troll with his snotling mate - with a nasty attitude (I think it's a snotty, although it could be a gobbo).

I prefer the bright and bizarre models because I feel they stand out more on the battlefield. "Realistic" models look great on close inspection but I equate that kind of painting more with LoTR and sometimes it's better to be bold when it comes to painting regiment minis for use in battles.

USA Atlanta 2007 Slayer Sword ! - Todd Swanson

GW Golden Demon

Anyway folks, I think that's about it from me for now. I could go on forever but hopefully this give you a taster of what tat site has to offer. As always, let me know your thoughts...

Oh go on then, one last picture because I've featured so many "baddies" above, let's go for a noble decent fella :) ...

Australia 2008 Warhammer Large Model - Mark Carlisle

GW Golden Demon

Damn it ! Some gobbos sneaked in at the end before I pressed "post"... sorry about that.

GW Golden Demon

The Goblin Diorama won the Italy 2008 Warhammer Regiment category - Fabrizio Russo

Images are © Games Workshop. All rights reserved. Used without permission.

Strewth, I almost forgot. Below is the Slayer Sword winner that I was looking to share with you all along ! Doh...

It's a bit late now so I might have to come back with my commmentary another time, for now just enjoy the pics. Don't forget to click for a much larger close up.

United Kingdom 2010 Slayer Sword ! - Matt Parkes

GW Golden Demon

GW Golden Demon

GW Golden Demon

GW Golden Demon

And finally, one last diorama that I just can't leave out...

I thought this one would have been unbeatable but it actually got 2nd place ?!

Italy 2010 Warhammer "Open" category 2nd place - Massimiliano Richiero

Gold Demon Giant Diorama photo

Images are © Games Workshop. All rights reserved. Used without permission.