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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

1 comment:

  1. Something I hadn't properly appreciated before was the perfectly placed shields of the Lothern Sea Guard. They really do look like a force to be reckoned with.