GW2: A Boy and His Golem

aboyandhisgolem

<3 <3 <3

When you’re located on the opposite side of the world from where these dang codes are being given out, you pretty much give up the thought of ever owning one of these beauties.

A big, big thank you goes to Gazimoff, who generously thought of sharing the codes he picked up via an online competition, and also to the folks at ArenaNet who generously gave him a bunch more codes to give away.

(Not to mention, the good souls working ArenaNet Support who swiftly responded within a day – during the weekend – and managed to fix the issue of code and account region not matching by manually applying said code to my account.)

Some really ingenious golem designs were submitted: among the winners was a Trahearne golem and Skritt golem very worth checking out, and all the other contenders whom you can see in the comments here were making me lose hope that my humble, amateur effort would make it. :)

Which, by the way, was the semi-secret work-in-progress project alluded to previously.

I’d only been procrastinating on painting miniatures for merely ten years now, so of course step one to getting back into the habit – decide to model and paint up a golem for the competition with a two week deadline… for fun!

Some GW2 wiki research on golems produced a very nice concept art of a giant golem.

I doubted I had enough “green stuff” Kneadatite epoxy putty left in the house (the usual substance of choice for miniature sculptors of the Games Workshop/Reaper Mini backgrounds), nor its workability after a decade, so of course it became a big craft experiment into the world of air-dry modelling clay, which was way more easily available at a neighborhood book/stationery store.

Except they didn’t have any white color in stock either, so I had to settle for peach.

omg-wip-finalsculpt

Fortunately, asura aesthetics tend toward the geometric, which make things a lot more achievable for an amateur just enjoying the feeling of getting hands all gunked up with clay and shaping stuff.

Make a rectangular cube here, a ball there, a triangle or a pyramid elsewhere… Let it dry a bit. Then try to stick them together.

Curse and swear when things don’t.

Cudgel brain for solutions and resort to grabbing some wire to thread the shapes through and pin one to the other.

In retrospect, I’d make a more proper armature next time.

But for what was essentially a prototype of a prototype, just an idea simmering around in my head, the discovery process was pretty fun.

(I did have to resort to the ol’ rock trick to stabilize one super-heavy arm though.)

Several days of shaping and drying later, it was time to work out the painting kinks with a much larger surface area to practice on than a normal mini.

Step 1: Priming

omg-wip-blackprime

The really amazing thing is that both my black and white paint-on gesso primer and my Vallejo paints were doing just fine after so long a time of being ignored. (Go go air tight containers! Betcha your spray primers and cruddy Games Workshop paint pots can’t match that.)

Black and white priming is a variant technique that I experimented with and found I liked (thus avoiding the holy war of solely black primer vs white primer.)

Priming black gets black into all the deepest shadows, and with my particular brand of gesso, goes on more smoothly than white.

The problem is that subsequently painting colors on top of such a black coat takes forever, especially if you use thin coats of paint or your paint tends to translucency. Colors tend to be more dulled and less bright than applied on top of white primer.

Enter the drybrushed white primer on top of the black primed layer.

omg-wip-whiteprime

I was a little rough with the drybrushing on this big model, as most of the surface was meant to simulate stone anyway.

(So rough the right arm fell off. Cue hasty ball of clay propping up the re-attached and heavily superglued limb into position.)

The idea of drybrushing white primer is to lift out all the surface detail (which would be there on a less amateurishly sculpted model) while leaving black in the crevices, giving some instant contrast.

Step 2: Basecoat

omg-wip-basecoat

In this case, I did end up obliterating most of the primer contrast when I added the grey basecoat since it was more of a slapdash preliminary test of contrast.

You may notice I smear a lot of paint on the supporting paper.

After learning one too many times the hard way why one should not apply an unknown glop of paint directly onto a model, it’s just a habit I developed to test how much paint is loaded onto my brush.

(I find tissue too absorbent for this, and while testing it out on one’s nail or thumb does work, it nets you a lot of strange looks later when your thumbnail is streaked with multicolor acrylics and is a bitch to scrape off, even with soap and water and plenty of scrubbing.)

Step 3: Wash (Shading / Color tinting)

omg-wip-dirtwash

It was a little too grey, so instead of simply washing with a darker grey to add shadows, I opted for a thinned down layer of brown and let it pool in the recesses to simulate more of a dirt / granite look.

Step 4: More Painting Steps Combined into One

omg-wip-drybrushafterwash

The lighting is a bit bright in this shot, but lighter greys were subsequently drybrushed in layers to create a more ‘rough stone’ textured look.

The brown wash got added to the untouched black-and-white primed rock and turned it fairly interesting and differently rock-like right off the bat.

A blue basecoat was applied to the cubes that were going to be ‘power crystals.’

While I was now more or less satisfied with the ‘stone-ness’ of the main body parts, it was becoming obvious that the model was too big and low detail for a simple wash and drybrushing to provide sufficient contrast.

Step 5: Layering – Shading to Highlighting

omg-wip-shading

Enter a slightly clumsy recollection of a more advanced painting technique.

Layering involves thin layers of paint, applied more carefully than washing all over the model with a thin layer of paint or drybrushing across the entire model.

Shade is applied in areas which are likely to be in shadow. In this case, a thin layer of black paint was used – note the translucency. The basecoat color (and my painstaking stone texture) is meant to still show up under it.

omg-wip-reapplybase

Then from black, we go back up to the basecoat grey, a thin layer again, to blend with the shadows and smooth out any clumsy brushstrokes of black that may have gone in places not meant to be black.

omg-wip-firsthighlight

A little white is mixed with the basecoat grey to get a lighter grey color as the first highlight.

This is where the magic starts to happen after all the previous patient steps. The highlight is applied on all the raised areas where one would expect light to hit.

And you can start to see the forms take on a more defined look with contrast that wasn’t there before.

omg-wip-highlights

We push the contrast even further with one more layer of highlight, grey mixed with even more white, and add it to the very tips and edges.

Really dedicated painters do even more layers for the smoothest blends. I could have done more smoothing of the black and grey parts, for example, but I was already getting too excited and eager to finish.

Power crystals were highlighted up in the same manner and I was happy to call it done. For now.

omg-oblique-small

The photos were duly submitted along with the design idea, a siege golem specialized for that last bastion of WvW – fortified walls.

Trebs take forever. I overheard a guy wanting a siege tower to roll right up to the walls and unload the zerg off. Well, who needs those when this beaut could stomp right up and tear that frickin’ wall down?

It needed a name just like the Omega Golem so that “OMG OMG OMG” would be a great abbreviation for when folks see a bunch of either golem trundle up to their keep.

Thus, the Omicron Golem was born.

omg-front

And I had just the right Asuran designer for it too.

Greetings and salutations!

Fortified walls in the Mist War get you down? I bring to you the next evolution of siege golem, just as game-changing as the Omega Golem from an Alpha.

The Omicron Golem is designed to tackle what the Alphas and Omegas cannot, the solid stone and metal structures of a keep left too long in enemy hands. Why endure primitive bookah technology like catapults and trebuchets pounding away for eons when you can roll up in air-conditioned comfort and direct the Omicron to deconstruct fortifications just as rapidly as Omegas on gates?

Inspired by a historical image discovered in an old abandoned asuran lab, and re-utilizing salvaged Inquest technology for better purposes, this new design marries the latest in eco-friendly thaumafusion power crystals with the robustness and longevity of a proven golem construction material: granite.

It is eventually biodegradeable, but will last you centuries! (See footnote 1 in small print.)

Its four-legged chassis is able to navigate rough terrain where wheels or bipedal models may operate at severely reduced efficiencies. Its three-digit hands are numerically efficient, with each digit able to rotate independently and form a claw or hook as required for grasping material or a shovel for earth-moving. Its camera and vision functions are programmed for wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum from infrared to x-rays to best determine optimal areas of weaknesses to attack a fortification.

An add-on purchase can be made for lens crystals and arcane mirrors that generate a defensive laser beam from its eye. Other optional add-ons include cushioned seats for asura and bookah sizes, an audio-generator that automatically provides music for optimum relaxed alertness or aggression as the situation dictates, and an excellent espresso machine.

No sentient creatures were harmed in the making of this golem.

Yours truly,
Shudd
Genius Inventor, Pact Commander, and the distinctly better half of
Shudd & Shodd’s Agency for World Domination

1: Claim does not apply in eventualities such as hostile acts of the enemy, civil commotion, sabotage, or other unforeseen acts of gods. Fire, flood and earthquakes may increase wear-and-tear and induce diminished operating lifespan.

I’m really glad Gazimoff liked it, because now I have a virtual mini to go with the RL one too.

Mr Sparkles is absolutely awesome.

And this guy fits in the palm of my hand pretty snugly.

A little blurry

A little blurry, alas, but the only pic I have that shows off the crab look.

P.S. World domination plans are coming along nicely, says Shudd.

Reaper Bones II Kickstarter Returns!

Shameless advertisement warning!

For the few of my readers who may actually be interested in my mania for collecting figurines that may eventually, someday, be painted… you may like to know that Reaper Miniatures has launched their second Bones Kickstarter.

As usual, these are plastic resin minis, going for some mindblowing prices.

I can attest to the detail being not terrible (based on the first Kickstarter received) but have not yet gotten around to applying paint on any of them yet.

Some reports say that Vallejo paints cannot be directly applied to them, whereas Reaper Master Series Paints work perfectly fine.

I’d love to verify this, but have been facing the equivalent of clearing out a storage basement’s worth of stuff to get to my Vallejo paints (which could very well be dried out by now, but who knows, maybe living in a humid climate may have some side benefits) and massively procrastinating as a result.

At any rate, my old habit was to use paint-on gesso primer for my minis, which are mostly display-only, so I’m not really worried about that.

Unfortunately, this time around, Reaper has learned that international shipping rates are exorbitant and cutthroat and that they cannot afford to absorb the cost for everyone.

So yeah, if you’re living outside the good ol’ US of A, you may have to factor that into your decision.

Speaking for myself, I may end up using a local mail forwarding service that offers a US address (taking advantage of the free US shipping) and cheaper shipping rates back to the little red dot.

We’ll see just how much USPS wants to charge when their pledge manager comes up. *twitch*

Be aware, this is a Kickstarter, so it -is- a down payment for a fairly far future.

I would also factor in another half a year to the stated delivery date, just to be a little cynically realistic about unforeseen delays and just how many packages can be properly packed and labeled and sent out in a day.

I frankly doubt that I’ll be able to paint up even a quarter of my current collection by that time, so I’m really not worried about how long they take to get to me, as long as they arrive eventually.

But but but… dragons. So many cool plastic dragons!

They must be mine!

‘Nuff said.

Reaper Bones Kickstarter: They’re Here!

Shameless advertisement warning!

Almost one year later to the date, these beauties are finally home in my grubby greasy hands.

That makes my Kickstarter record 2 for 2. Defence Grid delivered on their expansion, and so did Reaper.

loot

I got the email a week ago saying Reaper’d finally shipped out my package.

As I was one of those international nutcases who got nearly one of everything extra, I was fully expecting the late ship date. I much rather they pack my stuff well and not miss out a thing, rather than face a longer process of back-and-forth emailing and shipping to get replacements.

USPS performed admirably and got the box here in one piece in a rather timely fashion.

(I’ve had the odd Amazon shipment go awry and take a month or two to arrive. Credit to them, they do send replacements quickly and generally, 95% of the shipments make it in 7-10 days or less. A wandering package gone walkabout is rare.)

My first priority was to take inventory.

This was a little tricky as I’d bought a LOT of dragons. I couldn’t remember offhand which one was Red Dragon versus There Be Dragons, fer instance.

It ended up a rather high-tech low-tech crossover with iPad in one hand as picture reference and receipt in the other, sorting one pile of white from another.

The first thing I was rather taken aback by was the heft. For plastic minis, they have a very nice solid feel to them. (Note, these are the larger “extras” minis I was sorting, so I presume there was quite a lot of resin/plastic that went into making them.)

I couldn’t resist cracking some bags open and test fitting parts. Again, to my surprise, about two thirds of the parts fit together very well and even stayed in place without any kind of adhesive whatsoever. The rest (like some heads) were a little light to lock in place securely, so I used some Blu-Tac as temporary sticky putty for the test fit.

I don’t really forsee a problem supergluing them in place later, but there’s always “green stuff” epoxy putty if it doesn’t work. Most of the joins fit together decently well, though if you’re picky, some puttying to smooth things over would be necessary. I was only not too pleased with one sculpt, which I will describe later.

The detail level was also very satisfactory for me, factoring in the material they are made out of. Fine lines like that on the dragon wing membranes have actually been picked up. Examining an elf showed that even the eyeball sockets were there. The caveat is that the details do seem a bit shallower than that on metal minis, so I suspect thin layers of paint will be in order here to not accidentally remove that detail.

For the following photos, please bear in mind that I just grabbed a camera in my excitement and mostly snapped on automatic before I ran out of charge. I couldn’t for the life of me remember how to get a proper macro mode going, so stuff will be blurry and lack detail. I’ll work it out later when I get to painting.

hydra

The Hydra, Frost Wyrm and Forces of Nature sculpts were very good. Everything fit together with barely any need to resort to Blu-Tac (except the earth elemental’s head.) Everything stands upright, they have a good heft to them, and one probably won’t even need to base these guys unless one wants to.

heretherebedragons

There Be Dragons are also a nice pair of “small” dragons (compared to all the other big stuff, that is) that fit together well for the most part. You might be able to make out a bit of the black Blu-Tac (only color I had to hand) peeking out of one wing seam, but that’s about it.

demon

I simply had to assemble this one half of the Demon pair. This guy’s wing span is incredible, dwarfing even some of the dragon’s. All the parts fit together smoothly as silk. Wings, tail, sword arms, only the head needed some Tac help staying in place.

undeadgiant

The undead giant was impressive as all get out. I could have sworn those thin arms would not have stuck on to the sockets, but they slid in and did. And the entire torso sits snugly on a waist joint. The only thing is the hammer is a little wobbly, since the arm is quite thin.

deathsleet

These two, Deathsleet and Red Dragon, are slight problem children. Don’t get me wrong, the sculpts are beautiful, the wings fit (with the help of a little temporary Tac) but they have a slight balance problem. Deathsleet tends to lean over sideways and threatens to fall over. Red Dragon leans backward and the front of the base lifts off the surface.

I suspect this is the materials change causing a change in the center of gravity as compared to one made out of metal. Red Dragon could probably still be used as is (but look unsightly, I was tempted to glue a washer or two to the front underside of its base) but Deathsleet will fall over with a faint breeze. These two would definitely benefit from a nice hefty solid base.

ebonwraith

Of this lot, the only one I struggled with and thus was not immediately thrilled by was Ebonwraith. He looks cool, no doubt about it. His wings have a fitting problem.

They also look rather identical, so I was sitting there for a while trying out both wings on each socket in different configurations, squinting at the socket joins to see which fit the best. No smooth fit like the rest of the minis had spoiled me with.

It’s not extreme, in the sense that you won’t be cutting anything in order to fit them, but it is major enough that you’ll be filling the gaps with quite a bit of putty.

wingsocket

On the bright side, I suppose this allows you to adjust the wings at different angles according to your preference this way.

All in all, am happy to report that everything was as it should be and none of the extras were missing. As for the Vampire box stock-take though:

vampireminis

Yeah, that’s going to have to wait for another night.