Sunday, 29 December 2013

Zedcember... Week 4

The Zedcember initiative has provided a great focus to finally complete some miniatures. Seeing the horde begin to take shape certainly makes the end goal seem more real and exciting!!

Using a standardized system of sprays and ink washes not only speeds things up but also keeps the horde visually cohesive. By limiting the colour palette of the clothing to muted tones and painting these in sets of 5 or so there should be a roughly unified rhythm of colour throughout the mob; avoiding the 'harlequin troupe' effect of too many character paint jobs. The final horde should present a convincingly bleak and faceless mass of shambling, grimy, blood soaked horror. Having said that I've not painted any zombie clowns yet so...

Basing this first set of completed miniatures has also really helped bring them to 'life' (?!) and tie them in thematically. For all the Zedcember minis I've used the 'Bricks', 'Modern Cobbles' and 'Slabs' pavement bases sets from Antenocitis Workshop along with a couple by 616 Designs that have the same size paving as 'Modern Cobbles' but with damage to the stonework. These are all simple, well detailed and nicely understated contemporary urban resin bases. I'll be using these as the main basing for the individual miniatures mixed in with other more characterful themed ranges to add some variety. I may decide to weather the bases further down the line as they're looking a little pristine at the moment.

Jaw breaker..
Head: Mantic + green stuff
Neck down: Studio Miniatures

Tongue twister..
Head: Mantic + green stuff
Neck down: Studio Miniatures

Give us a hand..
Head: Games Workshop
Torso & arms: Mantic
Legs: Wargames Factory

Business lunch..
Head: Mantic
Neck down: Wargames Factory

Out for a stroll..
Head: Studio Miniatures
Torso & arms: Studio Miniatures
Legs: Wargames Factory

Could you pass the salt...
Head: MaxMini
Torso: Wargames Factory
Arm: Studio Miniatures
Legs: Games Workshop

I hope you've enjoyed Zedcember as much as I have; a great idea by Blaidd Drwg of the late but legendary 'Quick and the Zed' blog. Now I've got plenty of time to get my act together for Zombtober 2014, though I hope to get a good few more zeds painted by then!!

Once I've recovered from my own NYE zombification I'll take some shots of the mob on the table top so you can see them in their natural setting.

Here's to another year closer to the zombpocalypse!! :)

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Zedcember... Week 3

Finishing a miniature presents some interesting dilemmas.

I held back on painting the eyes, initially due to option paralysis!  While deliberating over pupil or no pupil, colour for iris and whites, maybe luminescent pigments or object source lighting etc I realized (with both reluctance and relief) that the cold empty stares from the growing horde on the painting table already worked quite nicely.

The zenithal highlighting picks out all raised areas including slightly recessed ones like eye balls which pop against the shaded sockets. After the highlighting spray stage comes the Ogryn Flesh wash on the flesh areas. If you don't ink wash the eye at this stage it says lighter than the overall skin tone, it still stands out but doesn't stick out like a bright white painted eye can.

Miniatures with poorly defined or completely recessed eyes work well too with their eyes hidden in darkness.

It also seems fitting that no meaningful eye contact can be made with the horde.
The empty expressionless eye strips the zombie miniature of any residual humanity.

Zedcember has really helped focus on getting a batch finished, now I know what I'm up against with painting the rest!

Bad gas..
Head: Mantic
Torso: Games Workshop
Arms: Studio Miniatures
Legs: Wargames Factory

Messy eater..
Head: Maxmini
Torso: Games Workshop
Arms: Studio Miniatures & Wargames Factory
Legs: Games Workshop

Head: Mantic
Torso: Games Workshop
Arms: Wargames Factory
Legs: Wargames Factory

Shooting hoops..
Head: West Wind
Torso & Arms: Mantic
Legs: Wargames Factory

Foot dragging..
Head: Maxmini
Torso: Games Workshop
Arms: Studio Miniatures
Legs: Wargames Factory

Seasons Greetings to you all!!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Zedcember... Week 2

So the red paint has been flowing freely this week :)

The truly ruthless zombie painting technique presented by RebelWithACoz has made painting up these cadavers a joy. The use of sprays and inks allows you to bring your mob up to a table ready standard in no time at all and any extra colour and detailing is really just a bonus!! The final touch of fresh gore (2 parts Tamiya Clear Red mixed with 1 part GW Druchii Violet (old Leviathan Purple) and 1 part Nuln Oil (old Badab Black) applied to appropriate areas after matt varnishing the mini) really brings the carnage to life!! Genius.

Like a zombie with legs tangled in its own trailing intestines Zedcember stumbles on...

Atkins Diet...
Head: Puppets War
Torso: Wargames Factory
Guts: Games Workshop
Arm: Studio Miniatures
Legs: Studio Miniatures

He's seen you!
Head: Mantic
Torso: Wargames Factory
Arm: Studio Miniatures
Legs: Wargames Factory

Gis a hug..
Head & Torso: Mantic
Legs: Games Workshop

Dry clean only..
Head: West Wind
Torso: Wargames Factory
Arm: Studio Miniatures
Legs & guts: Games Workshop

Head: MaxMini
Torso: Games Workshop
Arms: Studio Minis & Wargames Factory
Legs: Wargames Factory

Tune in next week for more foeted festivity and be sure to check out The Angry Piper too for the next Zedcember un-dead line!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Zedcember! Week 1

 Having totally missed the boat on Zombtober due to precious little virtual downtime (I managed to find out about it in the first week of November duh...) Blaidd Drwg of 'The Quick and the Zed' shambles to the rescue with Zedcember!! Although it looks like TQ&tD is no more :( still Zedcember will stumble on... :)

So the deal is to paint up 1 x zombie or survivor per week for the month. Having left 'The Walking Lead' to rot over the summer due to life impairing work commitments I'm taking this as a call to arms and an impetus to get up to speed with the groaning horde of plastic that's been amassing on the workbench.

I've been tinkering with RebelWithACoz's utterly lethal zombie speed painting technique so armed with this the plan is to get them all into paint and finish off a handful for the festive festering.

This week I've got them all into black primer and GW Doombull Brown base coat and half of these sprayed with Skeleton Bone and ink washed with GW Ogryn Flesh so the initial highlighting and skin tone are complete. All that remains are some coloured washes mixed from Vallejo paints for the clothing and some dry brushing with a grey-white mixed with the Vallejo base colour to pick out the highlights. Some detailing and basic gore completes the paint job. The mini is given a light coat of Testors Dullcoat matt varnish spray and then a touch of gloss blood to add fresh horror to open wounds and biting mouths etc... great fun!!

I'm looking to finish 5 or so each week and bring many more nearer completion. Here are the first few.

Let Zedcember commence!!!

Be sure to check out The Angry Piper for more Zedcember goodness :)

I'm sure there are some others out there too!!

Old Punks never die...
Head: Max Mini zombie
Torso & Arms: Studio Minis zombie
Legs: Wargames Factory zombie

Too much time down the gym.
Head to toe: Wargames Factory Vixen

Head, Torso & Arms: Mantic zombie
Legs: GW zombie

Head: Mantic
Arms: Wargames Factory & Studio Mini zombie
Torso & Legs: Studio Minis Nazi zombie
No brainer..
Head: Puppets War zombie
Neck down: Studio Mini zombie


Friday, 15 November 2013

Base Urges.

This guy's spotted the chopper...
but where is he?
The zombie apocalypse will take place in our urban centres, the city streets will witness the mass transition of humanity into undeath...

With this in mind I've been scouring the growing selection of urban style resin bases on the market.
There's an excellent selection of many common urban paving styles that should work together with a uniform paint job.

I want to achieve a generic modern urban look as the overall base theme with contemporary street furniture; paving, kerbs, grills etc. Add to this a dash of urban disrepair and damage to tie into the post-apocalyptic feel. Humanities initial resistance of tanks and nukes legitimately opens up the world of 'war torn' bases; at least that's my excuse!

I'd also like to achieve a variety of suggested environments from suburbia to the high street, car parks, play grounds, motorways and shopping centres, covering both the freshly abandoned and the utterly decimated.

Looking beyond the urban base there are numerous scrap yard and rubble themed bases that could provide a cool urban waste land counter point to all that regular paving. There are some cool industrial / sci-fi ones out there that could also spice things up. There's always the grave yard option of course, I don't think I'll be able to resist picking up or making a few!!

The themed basing could be used to visually define different groups within the horde, kind of like factions / units with their own specific environments. A minor subtlety but the horde would look pretty cool displayed with the zombies sprawling across a detailed and characterful landscape.

I'm looking for round bases in a good variety of sizes from 25 - 120mm + to have a composite horde of individuals, small groups and seething mobs.

Of the many manufacturers available, the following sites offer products that immediately fit the brief.

Antenocitis Workshop have a great selection including some generic modern paving slab 25mm bases in 3 slab sizes both flat and with assorted kerbs, grills and covers.

616 designs have a small square cobble size paving with damage that complements the smaller size Anenocitis paving .

Micro Arts Studio produce some excellent near future bases with litter and street paraphernalia.

Escenorama have a cool contemporary urban range in 25,40 and 60mm with lots of nice litter and detailing.

Tiny Worlds have an excellent damaged tar mac set in 25, 40 and 60mm.

Dragon Forge have the best selection of larger urban bases, 25, 40, 60, 80 & 120!! Really nice bases with great detail.

Anvil Industries have a City Rubble range in 25, 40 and 60mm.

To add to the theme of urban squalor Black Cat Bases have some street litter, wheelie bins and bin bags and a couple of rats! They also have some nice tools, (axe, hammer, wrenches etc) as props for bases, abandoned in terror or dropped perhaps in a valiant last stand. There are some nice zombie mechanic miniatures out there too and a tool of their trade, discarded at their feet would be a narrative touch. Thinking about it, a work tool could make a decent replacement for the scythes and fantasy weapons on various miniatures that I need to convert.

As an old skool zombie 'purist' I don't want these zombies to retain enough intelligence to use any tool or weapon meaningfully. I'll accept a severed limb (most manufacturers offer one) inadvertently used as a blugeon or an item they used to defend themselves with before turning and still clutch onto in rigor mortis!!

Anyhow the time has come to consider basing some of these rotters up so a point and click shopping trip is on the cards.

Any suggestions or ideas on themes, ranges and manufacturers would be totally appreciated.

Time to hit the streets!!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Fresh Meat... of the taxonomic by-products of the Apocalypse Survivors kit. These are the 'freshly turned', the most recent victims of the epidemic, still gripped by rigour mortis and relatively clean, fresh and intact (except for Bob here who was crying out for a mild evisceration).

The great majority of zombie miniatures are by convention and necessity monstrous, rotted and demonic caricatures. This is after all what we're paying for however the horde would certainly contain a good few who had died from a scratch, heart attack or other invisible cause and turned before they could be eaten.Get Adobe Flash player
 Some of the Apocalypse Survivor 'average Joe' heads are well detailed and quite characterful and fit nicely on the Studio Minis plastic torso, giving you a relatively healthy looking specimen.
A range of sickly pallors should prevent these guys from looking too buff.

The normality of these characters should help to dilute the fantasy aesthetic a little while lending the more 'horrific' sculpts some context and credibility. Also, easy bonus zombies!!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

No Survivors...

As soon as I set eyes on the Wargames Factory kit Apocalypse Survivors: The Men  the blatant potential for contemporary zombie fodder was irresistible.

You get 30 minis per box, 10 per sprue including 8 one part torso/legs, 1 leg with separate torso and a one part juvenile torso/legs (addressing a definite gap in the undead market).

The combined stances of the torsos and legs cover a broad range of dynamics to accommodate the wielding of cricket bats and assault rifles. These same stances out of context provide some fabulous and unique zombie gaits with the simple addition of suitable arms (Studio Miniatures provide an excellent match and fit) and heads (the Mantic ones are pretty much spot on). The Puppets War and MaxMini heads really bring out the zombie potential of this kit; the Rastafarian heads by Basiks also make for pretty menacing undead.
Oddly enough Basiks have zombified versions of these heads but they seem a little 'forced', I'll probably pick some up though.
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There's a good variety of body shapes and the clothing gives a solid cross section of contemporary fashion from professional to sports/casual. The sculpts are fantastic with convincing posing and crisp detail, certainly a quantum leap from their zombies kit. In fact I would say that this kit (in combination with Studio Mini's arms and your zombie heads of choice) arguably produces some of the best modern zombies available on the market!! Oh the irony...

The only issue for me were the arms. They are very smooth skinned and sculpted in specific open handed poses that don't immediately lend  themselves to a convincing zombification. The arms from the Studio Minis zombies are an excellent match however and all my spares got munched by this kit!

These guys were a joy to put together, a minimum of flash, nice big flat joints for gluing / pinning and good big flat feet that will make basing a breeze. Perfect zombie fodder.
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As a bonus the weapons sprue provides an arsenal of modern weaponry that can be left strewn on bases or assembled into abandoned caches. After all, there are no survivors...

Now to pick up some  'Apocalypse Survivors: The Women' to help level out the gender inequality in the horde so far. Hopefully they don't all have the 'just stepped out of the salon' look to them that curses the otherwise excellent Zombie Vixens!! I'm guessing that arms will be a problem here too, maybe the Zombie Vixens will lend a hand...

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Exquisite Corpse

As surely as infection spreads... the horde has grown again, around 90 zeds and rising!

To have so much material to kit bash provides an obscene potential for variety however the different scales and levels of detail naturally present limitations in compatibility.

Each kit has its qualities and flaws but overall their disparate elements compensate for each other when the parts are well mixed. In my humble opinion the inevitable scale and stylistic mis-matches add to the chaotic and disfigured dynamic of the mob.

Here are a few examples of some basic kit combinations.

Click on  an image for a description of the parts used.
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The heads inevitably present the main scale issue, from Games Workshop gigantism to proportionate but comparatively pin headed Studio miniatures. Having said that the GW heads on Studio minis bodies (top right image) have a certain chibi charm to them, their large heads give them a juvenile, almost cute quality! The lower jaws were removed to balance the head:body ratio, they should mix into the horde just fine.

The Mantic heads provide an ideal middle ground scale wise and have excellent detail and character, from proper 'evil dead' demonic nastiness to slack jawed, brain dead idiocy. These were the most versatile size, not too big for the Studio and Wargames Factory torsos and passable on GW.

The addition of the resin and metal heads add bags of character and compensate for the lesser variety of torsos. The Maxmini and Puppets War heads really are spot on, so much character and gribbly detail, I'll gladly swap out anatomical correctness for personality!

Torsos and legs seem generally universal with most kits mashing up comfortably with others. Both Wargames Factory and Studio Minis provide the essential contemporary wardrobe with Mantic and GW bringing the topless rotting flesh. The only issue here is the slightly smaller scale of WF and SM compared with GW and Mantic resulting in a crowd where only the big guys have their tops off, but such is life. GW and Wargames Factory legs provide plenty of trousers in a pleasing variety of zombie locomotion. The fantasy cut of the GW trouserage should blend in with a muted paint job.

The all important arms presented a potential compatibility checkmate in scale, genre and detail with the added complication of an overall lack of basic right arms! The GW arms mostly carry fantasy weapons and are comically disproportionate with hands like foam fan mitts. Mantic torsos have their left arms sculpted on with only 1 spare free handed right arm per sprue of 3 zombies and Wargames Factory torsos also have fixed left arms with rather small and softly detailed right arms. Of course a little conversion can even the odds but with 100+ contemporary zombies to chug there's a limit to how much plastic spear removal / green stuff sleeve tailoring one can tolerate! Thankfully Studio Miniatures provided the solution. The Studio Minis arms come in pairs and are fantastic; incredibly detailed with well defined, proportionate hands, no weapons and a good variety of sleeve length and arm pose. They're great matches for Wargames Factory torsos and a touch small but workable for Mantic and GW. You get 6 pairs per sprue of 4 zombies so you have plenty to graft.
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Inevitably there were parts that didn't fit.

Mantic's legs in fantasy rag / loin cloths didn't really suit the modern horde (although this blogger has a brilliant solution for this) but their suggested agility and speed put me off using too many. Games Workshop's aforementioned arms fill my bits box due to the face hugger hands and the fantasy weaponry, although the arms holding the leg and bone are useful. Some of the GW heads sport odd hair and head wear, fair play it's a fantasy kit, a little cosmetic work could bring them in. Studio Miniature's heads were also problematic, despite some classic and finely detailed zombie faces they have little definition at the sides and are ultimately dwarfed by the other ranges. Wargames Factory's heads were the worst offenders, compared to the really useful and solid all round components in their kit, the heads were the weakest of the lot with soft detail on a small surface. I don't think I've used one.

This wastage shows that there are critical weaknesses in each of the ranges and for different reasons. Mixing the kits allows one to discard inferior or unsuitable parts and replace them with better but also creates compatibility issues in quality and aesthetic. The kits difference in scale presents a new issue of anatomical correctness but ultimately it's fun to flip the bird on scale and build grotesque parodies of the human form.

What to do with the remains? I'm considering some kind of Chapman brothers monstrosity...

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Test Batch

PHASE 1...

So after much sticking fingers together the first batch of zeds are ready for a paint job.

Following RebelWithACoz's masterful tutorial I set about priming the little beggars with GW black primer. This was followed with a liberal application of GW Doombull Brown as a colour base coat and then a light coat of Army Painter Skeleton Bone spray applied from above, a foot or so away to create a light sourced 'highlight'. Due to a mixture of impatience, spraying distance and cold weather there was some speckling from the spray application but these are zombies so a messed up complextion is surely a good thing!!

This was the initial result...

To be honest I'd be pretty happy with this finish alone!! A few washes over the clothing and hair would certainly bring these up to what I'd consider a table top standard, however I continued with the recipe.

The following stage was a wash with GW Ogryn Flesh. This certainly warmed up the flesh tone and blended the base coat and speckled highlight nicely. Although they now looked much healthier I liked the counterpoint of 'living' flesh with obviously 'dead' sculpts. I will be experimenting with very light washes of greens and blues on a few to see just how grimy they can be made to look but for this first batch I thought I'd 'keep it real'.

I was happy with the results of the first set and stopped at this stage, forgoing the final highlight spray of white for the nice dirty skin tone that the recipe had achieved thus far. 
This is the first experimental batch and I'll be messing with 'em as I go. The next batch will be different again, the variety of decay being the essence of the rotting horde.
I slapped on some muted tones of mostly Vallejo blues, greys and browns for their clothing and washed these in GW Delvan Mud to grime them up. So far so good....

I've been getting carried away with the raw joy of this dubious project however normal service will resume shortly ;) I'll be back to supplement this with decent photos a'plenty as this progresses. 

As I'm new to blogging I've managed to delete some content but am striking back with some basic html magick to manage the incoming posts and images.

PLEASE STAND BY... for a bunch of entries on the workshop page as well as a weighty pile of undead lead to document for your viewing pleasure. :)

The Lead Will Walk the Earth...

So here's the first all metal miniature in the horde. 

He's a simple conversion of 'Cult Zombie "Moe" from  Fenris Games
(He seems to have vanished from their website though)! 

Below is the 'Moe' torso with the (rather small) head removed and replaced with (an arguably too large) one from West Wind SotTR. 

I love the Moe torso with its dragging gait and especially for the limb being eaten! The horror of the cannibalistic nature of zombification is rarely explored in miniature so fair play to the sculptor! 

Moe would be great for a 'feeding' diorama with other limb clutchers gathered around a dismembered torso; probably on an 80mm base.

The Dead Rise...

So here are some of the first batch of the hybrid horde.

Each kit has a definite general dynamic feel:

Mantic - fast and reaching
Studio Miniatures - passive and lurching
Wargames Factory - awkward and lumbering
GW - vacant and static

These combine to a set of marvelously rich zombie archetypes that can (in my fevered brain) be loosely condensed into the taxonomic ranks of 'Walkers', 'Grabbers' and 'Shamblers'.

For example;
WALKERS...  (click on images for larger versions + parts breakdown).
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Lots more pictures, and no doubt taxonomies, to come!!