Space Marines 3 – Imperial Fists

In the third instalment of my Space Marine painting adventure, I’ve painted an Imperial Fist. Yellow is the colour of the day with this guy, which presented its own set of challenges, some down to the nature of the colour, and some self-inflicted.

I’ve a few initial comments to make on this one. The first thing is that I usually undercoat my models with a black rattle can spray. I think I’m going to pick up a can of mid grey and a can of white, and experiment with these a bit when I’m painting models of a mainly bright colour. I’ve read that once you get to 3-4 coats (which I do anyway), any effect of the undercoat is minimal, but I think I’ll try it anyway to see if it makes life any easier.

The next thing is that I’ve started to use a wet palette, and an acrylic thinner medium instead of plain tap water to thin my paints. The issue I had here was that I didn’t mix the thinner through the yellow well enough, meaning I got the nice saturated sunburst yellow colour in places (see the pauldrons), and a milky, chalky yellow in others (see the gun and leg plates).

Now, on to the photos!

The yellow colour represented less of a challenge with the photography, rather than me doing anything different, and getting things right!

Another painting mistake I made with this one is that after the initial 4 layers of thinned yellow base coat, I washed the entire model in a sepia ink. That’s given the flat panels a bit of a muddy effect in places. In future, I’m going to try and keep this application as precisely to the seams and recesses as I can, which I should have done from the start…

As always, if anyone has any comments, tips, or painting experiences they’d like to share, feel free to drop them in the comments box below. If you want to take a look at my previous efforts, here are the links to Part 1 and Part 2!

Giveaway Time!

Available on Tuesday 10 March!

To celebrate the upcoming release of Servant of the Crown, the final part of the Dragonslayer trilogy which will be out on Tuesday 10 March, I’m running a giveaway over on Goodreads for 5 signed paperback copies of the first book in the trilogy, Dragonslayer.

I’m afraid the giveaway is only open to residents of the US and Canada. Once again, apologies to everyone else for this, but it’s completely beyond my control.

You can enter the giveaway over here: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/303936-dragonslayer

Good luck to everyone who has entered!

Look what arrived in the morning post…

With release day for the final part of the Dragonslayer trilogy now less than a month away, on Tuesday 10 March, the nearness of it all hit me today when these two beauties arrived all the way from Tor in the US.

The covers always look a little different in the flesh than they do on the screen, and the green background is a bit darker than I was expecting, but looks even better than I’d hoped for. I’m really pleased with how the covers have turned out for all three books in the series, and it feels hard to believe that I’m almost at the end of the road with this trilogy. The last couple of years have gone by so quickly!

Space Marines 2 – Blood Angels

The second of my 28mm intergalactic super soldiers is a Blood Angel. The focus here was on getting a nice red that didn’t turn too pink or orange in the highlighting process. As a reminder, I don’t use the official paints for these models, so getting the recipe right is always a bit of trial and error (usually more of the latter!). On to the pictures.

My photography is letting me down again here – I just can’t seem to get enough light, even though I have a small light box with leds, so I need to keep tweaking this setup to get it right. The highlights on the model appear more subtle in the photo than they actually are in real life.

Photography clearly needs improvement, so I might try a grey background with my next batch of photos when I paint some more models. I’m hoping the mid tone background colour will allow me get a better exposure on the model itself.

Once again, some things worked here, and some things didn’t. I’m quite happy with the red paint recipe, but my recess shading is still a bit messy and patchy in places, so I think is the main area that needs work. I stuck with the same non metallic approach on the gun as I did with the previous one (which you can take a look at here), as I quite like the end result.

Overall, there are positives and negatives to take away from this one. The eyes worked really well, but recess shading needs improvement, and highlight placement continues to be an issue!

Once again, if you’ve any comments or tips or personal experiences of painting these guys, I’d love to hear them!

Space Marines 1 – Ultramarine

I had a little painting time over Christmas, so I decided to paint up a box of Space Marines. With so many chapters to choose from, I decided to paint each in a different chapter colour. The idea was that they’d be a good opportunity to practise shading and highlighting different colours! To the photos:

I decided to go with an Ultramarine for my first attempt. I don’t use the official paints, as I already have the full range of Vallejo paints still left from when I used to paint a lot. I’m afraid I didn’t take WIP photos for these, so only have the finished results.

I don’t like metallic metal paints on small fantasy models (I do use them on historicals, though), so this guy gave me the chance to try gold non metallic metal. The NMM steel on the gun ended up looking more like some kind of polymer/resin, but I quite like this look.

I painted each major part separately before assembly, which was a mistake, as the highlights don’t match up. This is most noticeable on the shoulder pads. I still do that a bit now, but pay more attention to this issue.

Overall, I’m happy with how he turned out. The shades and highlights are still a little clunky, but I’ll only improve on that with practice. My brush skills are slowly improving, and I think my colour choices got pretty close to what I was looking for in the end result.

I’m still finding photography to be an issue, and I’m struggling to get a decently exposed image. I’ve boosted the brightness a bit in post-processing to help, but that’s the only alteration I’ve made. Any suggestions on that are more than welcome, as are any on how to improve in the paintwork!

Heroes for hire…

A pal of mine and upcoming Tor debut, Ryan van Loan, is running a giveaway for some signed ARCs of his fantasy novel, The Sin in the Steel. All you need to do to enter is to sign up for his mailing list, which you can do here:

http://www.ryanvanloan.com

The book itself comes out in July. If you’re not lucky enough to get an ARC, you can check it out here:

Here’s a hint of what it’s about:

Buc and Eld are the first private detectives in a world where pirates roam the seas, mages speak to each other across oceans, mechanical devices change the tide of battle, and earthly wealth is concentrated in the hands of a powerful few.

Dragonslayer Christmas Sale!

Dragonslayer

A little news first! Dragonslayer in ebook is on sale for a few days over Christmas, reduced to only $2.99 and the equivalent in other currencies. The sale runs until 29 December. If you haven’t already got one, you can pick up a copy at the following links!

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Snowman

Finally, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, or whatever you do or don’t celebrate! Thank you all for your support and encouragement over the past year – it’s always very much appreciated. I hope you all have a relaxing few days, and the opportunity to spend them with people who matter to you!

Over the holiday, I’m planning to paint my way through a box of space marines I bought a recently, while working my way through the nice bottle of whiskey I’m hoping my brother’s going to give me for Christmas! Hopefully I’ll have some photos to post of my efforts in the New Year!

There’ll also be plenty to look forward to in the New Year on the writing side of things. The final part of the Dragonslayer trilogy – Servant of the Crown – comes out in March, and I have a few new projects on the production line that I’m very excited about, and am looking forward to telling you more about soon!

Duncan

Knight of the Silver Circle – Dragonslayer 2 – Out Now!

Knight of the Silver Circle Cover Image

I’m delighted to announce that Knight of the Silver Circle—Book 2 in the Dragonslayer trilogy—is now available to purchase in paper, ebook, and audiobook. Knight of the Silver Circle continues Gill’s journey now that the Kingdom of Mirabaya has found need of him once more. With dragons and magic, the world around him is changing fast, blurring the lines between allies and enemies. I had a lot of fun writing this book, so I really hope you all enjoy reading it. Thanks for all your support, and for the interest you’ve shown in my books, it means a huge amount to me!

The cover copy:

Dragons have returned after a thousand years, but greater dangers lurk in the shadows… As the lines between enemy and ally blur, Guillot dal Villerauvais is drawn farther into the life and service he had left far behind. Solène attempts to come to terms with the great magical talent she fears is as much a curse as a blessing, while the Prince Bishop’s quest for power twists and turns, and takes on a life of its own. With dragons to slay, and an enemy whose grip on the kingdom grows ever tighter, Gill and his comrades must fight to remain true to themselves, while standing at the precipice of a kingdom in peril.

You can order your copy of Knight of the Silver Circle now at any of the following links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Amazon Australia

(It’s also widely available in bookstores in the US and Canada!)

And last but not least, in audio, once again narrated by the excellent Simon Vance!

Audible

I hope you all enjoy Knight of the Silver Circle. The final book of the trilogy is finished and will be released in March, so keep an eye out for updates on that this coming spring!

First Blade of Ostia Now in Audio!

I’m happy to announce that The First Blade of Ostia is now available in audio. Derek Perkins takes care of the narration, who also did the the Society of the Sword trilogy. If you haven’t read The First Blade, it’s a swashbuckling prequel of sorts to The Tattered Banner. If you’ve ever wondered how Amero became the man he is, this is where you can find out, as it charts his rise to duelling champion and national darling, told from the point of view of his friend, and a man you’ll have encountered as one of the masters at the Academy in The Tattered Banner.

You can grab a copy now over at Audible!

Old hobbies renewed…

I’ve decided to start posting on an old hobby I’ve just revived, and am really enjoying. After discovering Hero Forge and chatting with some pals, I decided to dust off my old paintbrushes and pots and have a try at miniature painting, something I did in my teens, which is quite some time ago now!

I’m happy to take on any and all criticism (hopefully constructive!) as I get back into this hobby. Bear in mind its been a long time, and my hands are a bit shakier than they were back in the day – and I wasn’t all that good even back then!

So, first off, I’ve been working on a mini I designed on Hero Forge. Here are some photos of the work in progress:

The face. Quite happy with this, and it seems my hands haven’t gotten quite as shaky as I feared!
The shield in progress. I’m watching a lot of YouTube videos on technique, and trying new stuff all the time. This was my first attempt at blending with glazes, and I got a chalkier finish than I was hoping for. I think this was from applying the next glaze before the old one had dried properly. Lesson learned for next time!
I tried a true metallic paint for the armour, but for fantasy and sci-fi minis, I tend to prefer non metallic metallic techniques. I washed this with a watered blue glaze a couple of times, but didn’t like the finish, so it’ll be repainted in NMM.
Overpainted the armour in preparation for NMM. Also painted the sword, which is the second part of the mini I’m really happy with. The NMM blade worked out way better than I’d expected, and the hilt looks pretty good too, although needs a little more work.
Painted the boots and fur, and started highlighting the armour in NMM style. Really struggling to work out the approach to highlights, despite all the videos I’ve watched on it, and articles I’ve read! Also playing around with a coloured background for the photos – sheets of plasticard I had lying around. Struggling with my exposure settings here, so sorry for the darker photo, but will continue to experiment. If anyone has any suggestions in this regard, let me know. I’ve a faithful old Canon Eos 400D (Digital Rebel). I know how to use all the settings, just not how to get them to work well for miniature photography!
Shield and floor finished. I think the NMM worked well on the shield corners, but I continue to play around with it on the armour. Photo has better brightness, but I cheated a little by using the exposure adjustment to bump it up 1 f-stop. I’d rather work out how to get it right using shutter speed/aperture while retaining as low an ISO as I can. I’ve also noticed I need a little more depth of field than I’m getting on f5.6, so will try 8 after the next batch of photos, which I’ve already taken!

So, now to the finished effort. I’m happy with some parts, learned quite a bit, and know I still need a lot of work on painting NMM armour. Also need to improve my photos, but I’m playing around with that too, so will hopefully have a better grasp of that soon!

Need to use a smaller aperture for more depth of field to get the whole model in focus…
I need to be a little more careful with model prep. I thought that seam line on the cloak would be hidden by the primer, but it made it more visible! I’ll sand them off next time.

That was a lot of fun, and remarkably relaxing! Next up is to work my way through a box of Space Marines, which I’m using as a project to practice layering and glazing to shade and highlight in different colours the marine chapters offer. Any tips and tricks for both the photography and painting are much appreciated!