Thursday, 2 February 2017

X-Wing Storage and a Raider

With the recent creation of my 3D asteroids for Star Wars X-Wing I knew I needed some sane way to store and transport them. Since they already had metal stands (for weight) I did a quick test on a fridge magnet to see if I could use that to hold them upright in a box. While the pull on them wasnt really what I hoped it seemed to be sufficient to keep them up and apart as long as I took care of the box - this would be part of my model collection so care would always be taken.

So I glued a big fridge magnet (a real-estate calendar from last year actually) to the bottom of a plastic box and hey presto asteroid storage:


While we are here, these photos show the storage boxes I am using to store all the rest of the bits and pieces. They have little compartments that are well sized for individual little ships and configurable for larger things too. These all pack very neatly into a shopping carry bag too.



On a related note, look at the marvel that came today! Yes the huge Imperial Raider set which not only comes with the closest thing to a Star Destroyer for the game but also a Tie Advanced, a suite of cards (including Palpatine and Tarkin) and a campaign of special missions as well. I mention it here specifically as my storage solutions will need to evolve to cater for this spectacular addition...



Apart from the addition of a few more ships when I find them on special, the next project I think will be the creation of a little space station that can hover over the tabletop. This will give the forces something to fight over and it can be an objective in itself with shields and hull plus a little turret. I have been sketching ideas that draw upon various geometries found throughout Star Wars (esp droids).

Oh and a good reference for painting and modelling posts for the game is on the FFG Forum

Monday, 30 January 2017

X-Wing Playmats and Asteroids

Star Wars X-Wing is one of the prettiest games you can have grace your tabletop. On the weekend I picked up one of the FFG playmats (the one featuring the 2nd Death Star). It looks just gorgeous with a nice level of detail and layout of Endor and the space station. At one point I wasnt sure if I wanted this or just the generic star field, but decided I could make a circular flat moon that can cover up the death star to make the mat into a more generic location. That is a little project to come later, for now check out how pretty it looks:

New playmat closeup (expensive but gorgeous)

With this uplift in visual quality I decided that Sunday would be Asteroid-day. The game comes with flat carboard markers asteroids but creating actual 3D ones to float above the battlefield the same way the ships do has been on my todo list for a while.

There are a few options for doing this, mostly involve using foam of some sort, painting then mounting them. I did consider modelling and 3Dprinting some but that would be a longer process.

So armed with some packing foam I started testing. First if I could model up some roid looking shapes and then how painting might work. You can see here that the modelling was fine, but my paint test using enamel showed that the meltyness of the paint was just too much. Yes, you get a nice effect as it eats into the foam, but my foam must have been too light as it ate into it toooo much (or maybe if I was super patient and used lots of really fine coats).

roughing up an asteroid - knife was used, but fingers did most of the work

modelled a suite of roids from the foam trying to get some interesting shapes

asteroid field on stalks ready for some spray paint

So I popped out and grabbed some black spray paint that works on plastic, which did eat into it a tiny bit adding more randomness to the shapes - made for a good basecoat of black. The paint was just black rust-guard for metal which also bonds to plastic that I got from the hardware shop. I used Games Workshop modelling paint to touch up the bits that needed it which actually takes a while with this many asteroids on the go.

spray painting, this shot is after the black with a dusting of modelling white on top

painting in the orange using nice watery paint so it gets into the nooks and cranies

Then I tried a few colours before settling on adding orange. I made this pretty watered down and only in certain parts of each asteroid. Kind of makes it look like rust and just makes them less monochrome. Lastly drybrushing some white over each asteroid brings out their complexity, detail and shape. Lastly I added a little more white to ridges and particularly prominent bits of each.

The bases I wanted to be simple black stands which could just be placed on top of the 'official' asteroid markers. This means they could just be picket up whenever they got in the way and the game rules could play out using the carboard.

stand testing using bolts, washers and such

They needed to be heavy enough to stay upright with a big foam asteroid on top which is more about dealing with any breeze wafting over the board. I got some bolts and washers which I superglued onto a thin piece of card and to each other. I sprayed them with the same black and they were ready to go.

assembled, glued and spraypainted weighty stands for the asteroids

Assembly was just about sliding the larger asteroids onto a stand and then making holes for skewers to attach some of the smaller ones to them. I superglued them in place after they were all setup and hey-presto a whole suite of asteroids.

I am not sure how durable they will be with transporting etc, but they look super on day 1. Maybe they look a bit 'deadly' compared to how other people may want them to look - I think it may make us players think twice about getting too close.

Completed asteroids lined up on the new playmat

new asteroids sitting nicely on top of the cardboard playing pieces

closeup showing the rusty feel with the drybrushing over the top

Scary looking asteroids - all pilots beware

So it took me a full day to make these, basically season one of Star Wars Rebels which I had on during construction.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Game design and Star Wars

While I may have dropped the ball on updating this poor blog over the last little bit there has still been lots going on.



Let's start with the release of Rogue One, one superb little film that scratches the Star Wars itch with great enthusiasm. I watched it again yesterday and revelled in the starwarsiness of it all. I had just been getting back into the Fantasy Flight X-Wing game and seeing all those space battles unfold on the big screen reinforced how great that game is at bringing that same feeling to the tabletop.

The most fun games of X-Wing so far for me have all involved multiple players in some form of teams. The game is just super fun as it evokes the star wars dogfight feel, the different ships, special characters and the whim of the Force and its effect on the dice. Even with my smallish collection there is lots of variety to behold - yet the lure to purchase more is so so strong.



One of the reasons I wanted to mention all of this is something we have been talking about amongst our gaming groups - designing games to make losing fun, as fun as possible. What logic you can bring to the design of a game that can make losing really enjoyable. In a competitive game (where there is conflict between players) it can end up being not so fun for the losing player/s depending on the game. X-Wing is (I think) a fun game win or lose (the wonderful Shut Up and Sit Down review makes a similar point).



What makes it so fun to lose, I think there are a few factors. First the game is often well balanced, meaning it can come down to a roll or two that decides the fate of your pilots - but that is far from enough. The Narrative that grows out of the play is engaging win or lose - this type of storytelling has more in common with sport where it is emergent from the play. In this case it can manifest with the abilities of Chewbacca, R2-D2 or Darth Vader which informs the narrative even more. Other things that can make losing fun include time - the game is relatively quick to play with a chance you can make a comeback with a lucky roll always there. The 'way' you lose sits very well with the strong theme and it just looks so good on the table that there is a certain amount of joy in just watching. I will give this some more thought and post pack when I have more to offer...

This pic shows my Y-Wings under-performing the other day but looking super-great while doing so. "Gold squadron starting their attack run!"


Now I just need to organise some more gametime...

Monday, 31 October 2016

Delta Green Sums

Started another tabletop RPG game last week where we are playing Delta Green. Here is a little pic of Summer (Sums) who loves her little daughter but still heads out on these dangerous missions. She is a fun computer geek with a very disturbing cult incident in her past. She has a nice manner developing where she has nicknames for everyone/everything. Anyhow, here is a little pic using a more painterly style done in SketchbookPro on the Surface Book.


Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Character Design Challenge and Baldi

One of the aspects of drawing that I love is creating or designing a character and bringing it to life on the 'page'. I wanted to call attention to the Character Design Challenge which draws a huge array of artists to try their hand at the chosen concept each month. If you check out the previous winners there is so much inspiration to draw on, either in the concepts themselves or the detailed realisation of the drawing. Plus if you follow your nose to all the inspiration, anatomy references and guides on their pinterest pages you wont regret it.


The current challenge theme (well just finished actually) is all about the Centaur which has clearly got lots of people's creative juices flowing as they say. Centaurs are a tricky one as that brings forth not only human anatomy but the tricks of horse anatomy as well. Check out the slew of entries there and get ready for the next theme coming mighty soon.

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I was going to post a suite of cool entries here to inspire you to go check them out, but I really only need to post one. Here is Baldi Konijn's entry which is just all class, love the style, the execution and the details.


Since we are here, how about we let a few more of Baldi's pieces grace the page, I will have to try and practice more, to be able to draw like this would be wonderful!





Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Orianna Ult Pencils

I wanted to try my hand at another piece of League of Legends art, after a little pondering, I decided that Orianna would make for an interesting subject, with her ballet grace and her devastating ultimate making for a nice starting point.

I wont be able to finish the inking pass, colouring and finishing before my flight - so I thought a post showing 10 steps of the pencilling might be interesting. Note that when I say pencils, everything is done in SketchBookPro on my SurfaceBook - so a virtual pencil I guess you would say. There may have been a few more layout scribbles before the first sketch as I played with the ballet form and getting Orianna to be the main focus while also building in lots of detail for the other 5 champs in the background. Many cool LOL images have other champions in them and it works really well.

Anyhow, stay tuned for the completed piece...










Sunday, 4 September 2016

RPG Character art

One of the fun things for me with the tabletop RPG hobby is drawing characters, scenes, NPCs, maps and such from our games. Since every one of these is unique to each game, there is something fun about fleshing them out visually.

There are plenty of examples of my stuff all over this blog, so I thought I would highlight a few pieces from talented artists out there.

This post was actually inspired by this piece by Shalizeh for Critical Role showing Percy and Vex. The characters are full of real life and the lighting is just superb.


Diving into DeviantArt and looking for 'Duneons and Dragons Characters' characters reveals a plethora of talented people who have put their time into their characters or commissions for other people. Plus all the streamed tabletop RPGs have illustrations of their characters available which is awesome.

So the risk of this post being just an enormous gallery is too high, thus how about I just show off the work of only a few.

First one more from Shalizeh of some younger Critical Role characters:



Now a couple of character commissions MeoMai:



Now a couple of D&D character commissions by dinmoney:



Let's finish with some incredible pieces by noiprox, how amazing must it be to play these characters with a portrait like this for yourself and everyone else to see!





Congrats to the artists showcased here, hopefully more work and fame comes your way!

Snake Eyes Archer

Inspired by the recent Magical Land of Yeld kickstarter and the lovely art created for it by Jake Richmond - I draw up this character concept in a similar style. The Snake Eyes Archer could just be an NPC if it didnt fit any of the character classes. Note that I havent read much of the Yeld lore at all, so I am just winging it...


Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Bat Jaw Inflator

I sat down to do a drawing without any goal in mind and a batman started to materialise, with a mighty impressive jaw which then evolved into this little cartoon. Enjoy...


Monday, 29 August 2016

Deviant Art Profile

I realised that I have been a member of deviantart.com for aaaages yet I hadnt ever loaded any of my images into my profile - so I have just added a bunch of images in there and it least now looks like I do things. Since it is perhaps the premiere artist community on the web it makes sense for me to be a part of it - I am at least trying to do fun creative things and am happy to share.

So check out my profile gallery as it actually makes for a nice way to view the variety of things I have done over recent times and I will slowly add more bits in there as I go...



Tahm Kench Pool Party Concept

I had a desire to draw up a skin concept for League of Legends today. Not having any particular place to start I thought about the skin sets and decided on something for the Pool Party suite - esp as it is insanely hot here at the moment. Next step was to pick a champion and since Tahm Kench is one of my favourites I jotted down a few ideas for him. Relatively quickly the idea of him having ice creams and licking them with his huge tongue felt good, then I had the idea of him being sunburnt a real 'lobster' and that felt like a nice theme that matched him pretty well. Getting sunburnt and licking ice cream should fit many people's memories of being at the pool (or beach) and I liked how this phase of design thinking had gone, just had to realise it in an image.

So into SketchBookPro I went on my SurfaceBook with the idea that this first drawing should just be a concept image, one that conveyed the idea instantly but it needn't be a fully realised skin or anything just yet. I spent a bit of time on rough pencils trying to get the overall shape feeling Kenchy and the pieces in place like the ice cream cones as well as a place in the silhouette for his signature tongue. Then came some quick inks, which I always seem to have to tidy up, so it takes me much longer than it really should. Lastly all the colour, trying to keep it very bright and summerish - esp for his sunburnt lobster skin. Oh and a quick design for his acquired taste in-game icon too...

(I did have to go back and fix up his hands after I had accidentally given him one too many fingers on each hand - oops)

The next level of design would probably incorporate a few more elements in the details, perhaps a ring on his tentacle moustache and a pattern on his board-shorts. Anyhow I am happy with this version anyhow, so here he is...

Pool Party Tahm Kench Skin Concept for League of Legends
"Lobster sunburn, ice cream and not a care in the world"


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EDIT
slightly updated image with a few additions like nicer shorts and the ring