Tuesday, August 25, 2009

7. Red Alert! He's been painting!

I got two hours of painting in today. That's a pretty good stretch. I finished their beards and got two of the three shades of blue on, plus a tentative test of the backpack kit color. It's going to take multiple coats to cover smoothly. Progress! Yadda yadda, me Emperor Of The Known Universe.

Monday, August 24, 2009

6. A blast from the past

In honor of my kids starting school today, I've uploaded some pictures of a diorama I built from practically before they were born. My son was 6 months old, and my daughter wasn't even a gleam in my beady eyes yet. (Actually, I don't really need a reason to upload pictures, but it seemed like a good excuse at the time.) I proudly present my pièce de résistance: the Bridge of Sorrows from Ral Partha, sculpted by Dennis Beauvais. Sadly Ral Partha is no longer in business and this model is long out of print. It is a truly beautiful sculpt. I finished this in 1998. Please click on the thumbnails for a larger view. I also put this blog link out there for the world to see on Facebook, so I hope to have a lot of new viewers. I thought this might make a good welcome shot for them. Hi, new viewers! Please "follow" me with the link on the left-hand side of the screen. Anybody? Hello? Echo!...echo echo echo.... And yes, I am completely ignoring the Three Rules of Kelly; sad but true, since I am their originator. (Please see post #3 for an explanation.) Here I am posting an eleven-year old miniature, instead of working on my Tirailleurs! Now for some close-ups. Don't forget me on Emperor Of The Known Universe day. I could use a nice greeting card.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

5. The greatest inventions since sliced bread

Two inventions stand out in the history of miniatures painting: acrylic paints and the wet palette. Before acrylics, all you really had were enamels, which stink, and their brush cleaner/thinner stinks too. And they're hazardous substances. I once spilled a jar of brush cleaner; it ran off the table onto my ankle. It burned the lines of my sock into my skin! When I "discovered" acrylics for myself, I've never looked back. That's a topic many others have covered better than I can here. Just remember: water clean up is a good thing. My latest "discovery" is the wet palette. I know I come to this game waaay late. For years I used a plastic bowl. I'd put paint and a little water in it, it would last a short time, then it would dry up. I think I wasted nearly as much paint as I used. Then I switched to a ceramic tile. It made cleanup a little easier. Before, when the paint dried in the plastic bowl, it had to be soaked and scraped out. Not hard, but not easy. With the ceramic tile, I could let the paint dry as much as it ever would, and it would rub off with just a little water and a fingertip. Now, however, I use the wet palette. I don't know why I waited so long. It's the easiest thing in the world, and practically free. Get a plastic tub with an air tight lid. Put a folded paper towel in it, add enough water to soak the towel, then put a single square of kitchen "parchment paper" on top (it's also called baking paper). The water won't soak through the parchment paper, but it will keep the paint you put on top just damp enough to not dry out in the usual three minutes. If you don't finish the paint, just pop the lid on and come back later. I've had paint stay usable for days! Here's my setup with the lid on. Open it up and you can see the paper here. It doesn't look very appetizing, but it works great. Thanks for stuffing those ballot boxes for me for Emperor Of The Known Universe.

Friday, August 21, 2009

4. I'm painting, not philosophizing

Here's the Senegalese Tirailleurs I'm working on. They're from Dixon Miniatures (http://dixonminiatures.co.uk) 28mm from their Dahomey War range. I've already painted up all the French Foreign Legion forces I have, pics to follow soon. I originally bought double packs of their whole set when a web-store was having a clearance sale, that's 114 figures. Over 50% off, hoody-hoo! Anyway, you can see the original unpainted sets at my flickr account: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kelroy/sets/ I have a couple of "stories" told there, that I may try to recreate here on the bloginess of blog-dom. Just a couple of quick shots. I've only painted their skin, using a new triad of colors different from my other black skinned figures. I wasn't happy with my previous color as much, but now I'm not happy that I have eight figures all exactly the same skin color. My usual modus operandus is to paint every other figure the same, so in eight figures I'd have two different skin tones. Sometimes I even do three different skin tones. The funny thing about these miniatures is that they really don't look Senegalese to me. They look European.Still counting on your vote for Emperor Of The Known Universe.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

3. Philosophy today, or How to paint more

This whole blog-thing is new for me.  I confess I'm not used to the idea of putting my thoughts out there for everyone to see.  It takes a mind-set I don't usually subscribe to; it's more than just "be creative," it's also "find something to talk about that's not mundane. I learned a long time ago never to make a promise I couldn't keep.  Therefore, I solemnly swear that I will update this blog sporadically at worst, and irregularly at best. 

A large problem I have always faced is the efficient use of my time.  Either I work too much and don't have enough time to paint, or there are other demands on my time that don't leave me sufficient time to paint.  And yet, at the end of the day I'll say, "What did I do today?" and usually I can't really answer the question!  So I must have had time in there somewhere to paint, if only I had made it available.  And how many blogs have you read where there is a huge gap in time, and the author will post something saying, "Yes, I'm still alive, just been too busy to write.  Real Life keeps intruding." 

Believe it or not, this next bit will tie in to miniature painting. I now have the Three Rules of Kelly.  Through their use, I can be efficient, happy, productive, loved, respected, successful, self-satisfied, etc. They are easy to remember; just three three-word sentences. 

1. Less is more. 
2. Deeds, not words. 
3. Do it now.

That last one should be engraved on my tombstone.  As a reminder.  Just think about them for a minute.  "Less is more" is the key to being happy.  It can also be expressed as "simplify" or "keep it simple."  Complexity is unhappiness.  Deeds always speak louder than words.  Don't be that person who is all talk and no action; the one nobody trusts to get anything done.  Don't be that guy.  Be someone that can be relied on.  Be the go-to guy.  Which ties in to number three.  "Do it now."  Don't wait.  Don't procrastinate.  Don't put it off.  What are you waiting for anyway?   If you really examine it, you'll probably find that you're making excuses for not doing it now

How does this tie in to miniature painting?  Simple.  If you follow my Three Rules, you'll make time/find time to paint.  You'll find that time by getting the stuff done that you're putting off, that takes up so much time later that you can't spend painting.  Admittedly, sometimes events happen that are unavoidable, that seem to conspire against you.  Work around it.  Get back to the painting table as soon as possible.  I've had eight Senegalese Tirailleurs sitting primed, waiting for paint, for five days!  I know there have been legitimate reasons for my not working on them, but they probably only took up two or three days; the remaining time was of my own squandering.  (Part of it was spent on getting a blogging education....)  And even though they are three simple rules, they are not easy.  They're rules of my own devising and I still have to make myself remember them and follow them.  Human nature is a hard habit to break.  Thus ends my lecture for today.  I now return to my Tirailleurs, with pictures soon.   Thanks for reading, and I hope I can count on your vote for Emperor Of The Known Universe.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

2. A good foundation provides the building blocks of success

Welcome, fair traveler! Greetings and Salutations! Pull up a virtual chair and sit a spell. Listen to me wax eloquent on such diverse topics as tables and gaming and why I should be Emperor Of The Known Universe. I'll start this blog with a description of my gaming environment. My game room is not the biggest room in the house (I'll have to wait for the kids to move out first before I can grab the "playroom") but it's certainly bigger than any game room I've ever had before. In point of fact, I've never had a game room before. When we moved into this house in 2006, I knew my dream of my own room had come true, but what good is a game room without a game table to play on? I really didn't want to just stick some folding banquet tables in there, with some plywood on top. And I didn't want a ping-pong table either. I wanted something nice, a really nice piece of furniture that just happened to be a table. And I wanted it to be store-able, able to be folded up and put away or taken with me in a car. So I did a little designing and I had my Dad, who is much more experienced in woodworking, construct a table. The essential design is mine, but the details and the nuts and bolts (as a figure of speech) are his. Hey, I'm an idea man, what can I say? I should add that I did the staining; he did the woodwork construction but I finished it off. My Dad is no "gamer" by any stretch of the imagination. He really could not understand why I wanted it the way I wanted: the height, the legs not coming up to the edges, the purpose.... His idea of gaming is playing cards or doing puzzles. Even now I don't think he really gets it, and if he does then he doesn't approve. Different generation. Now for some pics. I'll put the text above the applicable picture; it's easier to write something and then insert the photo. Click on the picture for a larger image. First up: my game room, in most of its glory. That's my painting table in the far left corner. I have two more bookshelves against the left (hidden) wall, plus a closet filled with unpainted miniatures. Anyway, my table is 4' x 6'. It's divided into 3 top sections, each section being 2' x 4'. The kicker is, the sections are removable. The tops have parallel lips that sit inside the frame on top of the legs. Each lip has two holes per side through which I insert metal pins to secure the table top to the frame. That way you can push down on the edge of the table top and it won't pivot up or flip. It's pretty sturdy, but I haven't tried sitting on it or anything. Certainly it holds up under a 6'2" man (not me) leaning on it reaching over to move his army. It's difficult to see in the pictures above, but the frame is recessed under the edge of the table top by approximately 6", so you won't kick the legs as you move around the table, and you can sit in a chair and the legs are more out of the way than if they were right at the corners of the table. The cool thing is, when you remove the pins, the table top comes loose. Next, you lift each section off and stand them up against the wall out of the way. Having removed the table top, what you have left is the legs and the frame.Now, in order to either store or transport the table, you simply remove the middle extensions. These are attached by... by... well, I don't know exactly what they're called. They're "bracket clasps," for lack of a better description. Here's a picture.After you unlatch the clasps, the middle extensions lift out, thusly:This then allows the legs to fold up almost flat (one folds flatter than the other, gotta be a little careful with that when transporting them). This picture doesn't show the legs fully folded, just a little bit for demonstration purposes!Now I can put it in the trunk of my car (as long as I fold the back seats down) or stand it up in my closet. AND, if I don't want to store it I can still use it in a smaller capacity! Simply attach the two halves of the frame together and you have the basis for a 4' x 4' table.The two halves of the table top that are the outer halves in full mode, now become a nice square table for smaller, perhaps skirmish-level, games. And it takes up much less room.So there you have it, my gaming table. I actually have another 2' x 4' section from the original board, but have not figured out a way to extend the frame without really weakening the structure. One of these days I'll pester my Dad to work it up for me, then I'll be 4' x 8', ready for my kids to move out! Hoody-hoo! The best thing, since the labor was free, is that it only cost me materials. Back in February 2007, it was only $168 plus state sales tax, totalling roughly $180. Not bad for an "heirloom" piece of furniture, as my Dad calls it. Thanks for reading. Please remember me when you go to vote for Emperor Of The Known Universe. And keep checking back; my next subject will be: philosophy! (...and how it relates to painting miniatures....) Oh and pictures of miniatures. Pretty pictures.