Tale of Gamers – Pirate Orks by Arctica

Now don’t you think that Chest of Colors is only a painters community! We game and we love pictures of painted units doing their best on table tops.  Here at our forum we’ve got a special section called Tale of Gamers, and our friend Arctica posted his Pirate Orks there for us all to see.

Tale of Gamers – what is it about?

In this part of forum any member (if brave enough 😉 ) can start his own tale.  Every thread is devoted to one miniature project. There are no deadlines, no gaming system restrictions and everyone sets his own point goal. As an example it can be:

  • 2250 points Ultramarines army for Warhammer 40000
  • 200 points Lost war band for  Hell Dorado
  • 45 points Khador battle group for Warmachine
  • any Malifaux or Freebooter’s Fate skirmish band
  • Space Hulk, Dreadfleet or maybe Super Dungeon Explore… own point goal

And yeah – you can start as many tales as you wish 🙂 The point of a Tale of Gamers is to motivate each other to paint and finish collections of models.

Tale of Gamers

 

To show you an example of such a Tale, let’s take a look at Arctica‘s Pirate orks, and read what he said about this project:

Pirate Orks by Arctica

So I first came up with the idea of ork pirates when my friends started playing Necromunda, they wanted me to get involved and join in. So I looked through the current range of models and actually I was not really a fan of any of the gangs so I decided to make a customized gang.

Since I’ve always liked orks but knew there were too many for me to do a sensible force this seemed a good opportunity and the release of the conversion bits for ork pirate heads seemed liked a good time to try this project.

Tale of Gamers - Pirate Orks by Arctica (2)
Pirate orks assembled

Plans and preparations

I put the models together and primed them and decided to go for a slightly different approach to the models to break up my usual state of painting. So going for a white primer rather than a black one was to challenge myself and see why other painters took this route.

After painting the first miniature I found it super fun and I was really excited to actually move onto the next model. The encouragement of the painting community here on Chest of Colors miniature painting forum and my own eagerness pushed me through the whole gang very very quickly. My original intention was to use the ork gang to break up any monotonous army painting but I quickly found that the orks were much more interesting than anything else and so I focused everything on them.

In many ways I would say that having 1-2 projects on the go is a good thing but I think for those exceptional projects you never need more than that one. And I kept posting my work up and getting group shots of the whole lot being completed one at a time made me really feel good about a project so I kept rolling with all that drive and motivation and pushed the project to completion very rapidly.

I always have plans for many things, but for now I have plenty of Warmachine models I want to finish so that I can compete at tournaments etc. I have another gang idea floating about but I need to work a few things out first.

If you would like to see Arctica’s tale or even comment it, here is the link to it.

Watch the progress

The most interesting part in having a tale is to watch the progress of an growing army. Here is an example how Arctica did it.

Tale of Gamers - Pirate Orks by Arctica (3)

Tale of Gamers - Pirate Orks by Arctica (4)

Tale of Gamers - Pirate Orks by Arctica (5)

Tale of Gamers - Pirate Orks by Arctica (6)

Tale of Gamers - Pirate Orks by Arctica (7)

End of the Tale

Enjoy the photos  of each member of pirate crew.

Tale of Gamers - Pirate Orks by Arctica (8)
Pirate orks warband ready for gaming!

Tale of Gamers - Pirate Orks by Arctica (9)

Tale of Gamers - Pirate Orks by Arctica (10)

Tale of Gamers - Pirate Orks by Arctica (11)

Tale of Gamers - Pirate Orks by Arctica (12)

Tale of Gamers - Pirate Orks by Arctica (13)

Tale of Gamers - Pirate Orks by Arctica (14)

Tale of Gamers - Pirate Orks by Arctica (15)

Tale of Gamers - Pirate Orks by Arctica (16)

Tale of Gamers - Pirate Orks by Arctica (17)

Tale of Gamers - Pirate Orks by Arctica (18)

Join us – start your own tale!

Did you know that painted miniatures do on table top battlefields much better? And for sure they look better on the shelf. 🙂

So are you a gamer? Does the possibility to play with painted miniatures motivates you to paint? Join other painters that try to turn metal piles of lead soldiers into battle ready killing machines. We help, comment and discuss about our armies and the most important we motivate each other.

Remember, there are no rules or strict schedules here. This forum section is always open for anyone who wants to challenge himself with any army/war band/ battle group. It is just simple fun helping to win one big prize – your own fully painted army.

And finally: what do you think about this kind of projects? Are they interesting to you? Are they motivating and encouraging? Why don’t you leave a comment to tell us if you want to read about our other tales and share your other suggestions with us. Thank you!

— sea.man

Unboxing Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster – review

Mike McVey, (well-known game designer and miniatures sculptor (he was hired as a professional miniatures painter for Games Workshop Ltd. in 1987 and then joined Privateer Press in around 1995. He left Privateer Press in 2007 and launched his own company: Studio McVey with his wife), joined by Cool Mini or Not, launched last year a Kickstarter Campaign to produce a brand new board game, Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster, that would use minis sculpted by himself.

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review

The campaign was successfully founded on June 30, 2012 and packages started to be shipped all around the world few times ago.

As you have already guessed I took part to this Kickstarter Campaign and I received my package on Friday and you’ll find my unboxing following.

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster unboxed

Once I open the box, here is how it was packed. Game and accessories were just slipped inside the box and there were a bit of foam around to avoid hit being moved to much inside the box. I must admit that even though nothing was damaged inside the box (my game and the accessories were in perfect shape), the protection was definitely was too little.

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Unboxing Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review

Once I had removed all the items from the box, here is how much foam was inside to protect everything:

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Enough foam to protect everything?

 Once all is set, here is exactly what was in the box: the game, a nice signed litho, the extra map pack and some extra minis.

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Contents of the box

Sedition Wars – game box contents

I’ll start by opening the main game box. I must admit that the quality of the packaging is pretty impressive.

Once the top cover is removed you can have a look at the tiles (tokens is the first one) and then you got access to the minis.

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Game box opened
Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Under the tokens and tiles sheet

Since I wasn’t sure that everything was there, I checked the whole box

As I guessed, nothing was hidden. 🙂

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
No hidden surprises 😉

 Bottom cover gives you details of what’s inside the box.

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Bottom of the game box

 Back to the tiles. They’re just top notch regarding the print. Very detailed, the grid are clearly visible but not overwhelming the details.

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Great printing quality
Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Clearly visible but not overwhelming grid

There are 5 double-sided tiles. The extra pack that was available contains the exact same number of tiles/tokens and they are exactly the same.

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
5 double-sided tiles
Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Reverse sides

Rulebook was slipped in the middle of the tiles. A4 format, full colour, glossy paper. Like the tiles, printing quality is just impressive. Rules are very detailed, with schematics and everything. Paragraphs are not compressed on the pages which doesn’t make the reading impossible.

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Sedition Wars rulebook

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review

Going with the rulebook, come the characters cards. They’re like the rest made in nice quality paper and printing is very good. Format is standard one so they can be protected with usual card sleeves, which will be required as the characters wounds counter are on the cards, so unless you want to mark for life your cards, go for the sleeves. 🙂 Also, cards are double-sided so you might consider getting see-through sleeves 🙂

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Character cards

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster miniatures, bases, tokens

As noticed above, minis were packed in little bags with bases and some more tokens. You’ll find complete “assembly” tutorials on the blog of the game so I won’t talk about that.

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Miniatures, bases, tokens…

Tokens

 Tokens bagged with the minis are tokens for the Strains. Nothing special

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review

Bases

Bases are full plastic, they’re 25mm round with straight edges, though, when you flip those, there are 2 little holes.

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Holes used for attaching markers under bases

Those holes are used to fix markers (shield (blue) and contamination (red)).

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Markers attached

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review

As you can see, you can fix lots of markers under a base. Though, when not a lot are under the base, it will probably be hard to notice them during game play.

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Stacked markers
Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Will they hold?

I was afraid that after a bit of use time, the markers might fall when the minis were lifted, and I didn’t have to wait a lot to prove the theory. I awkwardly dropped the bases after I took the photo and the markers that were fixed under the base spread apart.

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Oops, I dropped it!

It’s not that important as they split as the base fell down (and there were lots of markers under it which might explains why the split as well), but it might happen once the markers will have been used a lot.

As for the bases themselves, they come in two sizes: 25mm and 50mm. Enough are provided to base all the minis.

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Bases

As for the choice, all 50 mm are the same, and the 25 mm comes in 6 different versions.

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
6 designs of 25mm bases

And now, onto the minis. As I already said earlier, I won’t talk nor show about the assembly of those. You’ll find the tutorials on the blog of the game. I’ll just show you what’s inside the box and talk about the quality of those minis.

Miniatures

Minis are scattered in multiple bags, though even if some parts for the Vanguards are placed into the Strains (and vice versa), faction mostly come into separate bags.

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Sedition Wars Vanguards
Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Sedition Wars Strains

As you can see, there are lots of minis for the Strains and less for the Vanguards.

Once I had them separated on the table, I could have a better look at them:

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Better look at the miniatures

Woua! I wasn’t expecting that at all. I had seen greens and previews of the minis, but I couldn’t honestly think that the minis delivered inside the games would be of that impressive quality. They’re made in hard plastic (not cheap one that you usually find in board games that comes with that amount of minis), the details are impressively crisps and there were simply no bubbles or miscasts at all. It’s just breathtaking…

…but, cause of course there is a but, otherwise it wouldn’t be funny, perfect cast comes at a price. All of the minis (even the ones from the lightout campaign) come with insane amount of insanely placed mold lines and flash (sprue residues).

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Mold lines
Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Mold lines and flash
Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Flash
Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
Mold lines and flash

Sadly, the amount of time that’ll be required to prepare all the minis (cleaning, assembling) might result into a motivation killer before game will be properly playable.

Extras

When I took part of the Kickstarter Campaign, I chose to pledge enough to get some more additions to the board game like the terrains, the lightout campaign and some extra crews and armored suits. Right now, only the lightout campaign minis were dispatched, rest of Biohazard pack (what peeps where getting when they were pledging at least 100 US Dollars) and the extras should arrive later during March/April, and I must admit that I’m really impatient about it.

For those who wonder, lightout campaign minis, they do glow in the dark:

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - review
They glow in the dark!

Conclusion

As a conclusion what can I say about this Kickstarter Campaign and about the Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster package? One word: Insane!

The amount of stuff of such an impressive quality inside a box is just insane. Tiles are just superb, minis are well sculpted and details are crisps, rulebook is clear and easy to understand.

Though, I must admit that even though the contents of the package was insane, there are a few things that were missing and that could have been easily fixed:

First of all, the initial package. Protection wasn’t good enough, contents could have been easily damaged. Then, beside a global listing, there were nothing clearly detailing what was inside the additional box. Yes, mails were sent as updates during the Kickstarter Campaign, but not everyone has the possibility to unpack in front of a screen, so a little list wouldn’t have harmed. Then a little numeration of the bags would have been appreciated. Like the listing, they’ve been showed on the blog, but would have been helpful to spread the minis together.

Final warning

And at last, something that might be important.

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster is sold as a board game with lots of minis, which it is, but considering the huge amount of time that is required to assemble the minis, it might be a demotivation thing. For instance, Space Hulk from Games Workshop had a lot of minis too, though, assembly was pretty easy once all minis were separated from the sprues and glues wasn’t necessary while here, not only you’ll need to clean the minis because some part won’t fit with others, but you’ll also need glue to assemble them. So unless you’re a miniature collector that doesn’t mind spending a lot of time preparing minis to play with, then either stay away from the game or go play with someone that already built the minis. 🙂

Dims – Interview with Pascal Rooze

The Masters of Miniatures series is about to return! And instead of yet another interview with a painting celebrity I think it is time to interview some lesser gods, painters like you and I, but with some important achievements under their belt. First up is Pascal Rooze, a painter from the Netherlands and winner of the prestigious Games Workshop Lowlands Painting Competition. Pascal will tell you all about this competition and more about himself in this interview.

Dims - Interview with Pascal Rooze
Pascal Rooze

Gerrie: Hello Pascal! First of all thank you for taking the time for this interview. Can you please introduce yourself a little? 

Pascal: I started this hobby around 20 years ago thanks to a friend of mine, but I was a gamer mostly back then. It was until I came to do an internship with a hobby store, that some people started to recognize some talent and pushed me to improve my game. That was when I took some more interest in the painting hobby. In a short time I read a lot of articles on the net, watched work from others, and dabbled in techniques I was unfamiliar with. I was pretty much teaching myself by example. I entered the occasional local painting competition, but nothing really heavy duty. Around 2010 I really set out to get out of that comfort zone and in 2011 I tried my luck at the Lage Landen Schildercompetitie (Lowlands Painting Competition), and later that year at my first Golden Demon (first Germany, later UK). The successes and failures there have opened not only my eyes, but also doors to keep on improving. I am meeting and befriending painters that inspire me greatly to go beyond the range of Games Workshop, and see all sorts of models, styles, themes, and competitions (like the Scale Model Challenge); I am following master classes (recently did my first with Mathieu Fontaine), and so forth.

Gerrie: For those who don’t know this Lowlands Painting Competition, can you tell us a bit more about this?

Pascal: When the first Lowlands Painting Competition was hosted, Games Workshop in the Netherlands and Belgium wanted to do a high level painting competition without it being a Golden Demon Contest – at least, that is how I perceived it. The formula is as follows: first every participant enters a preliminary round  in one of the GW stores. On that day, each store nominates the three best contestants in each category to go to the finals one week later in Amsterdam. So on a local level a lot of young and upcoming painters have a chance for a bit of fame and encouragement, which is nice. You could compare this round to the finalist cut at a Golden Demon. In the week after that, all nominees are invited to assemble in Amsterdam (GW Store – which can get a bit crowded!) and final top-three’s are being picked in each category. These categories are roughly the  same as in a Golden Demon contest – hey, it’s GW, right?

Dims - Interview with Pascal Rooze
Space Wolf vs Horror

The first year (2011) was an obvious start-up: the level of contest was mainly great table-top qualities (which is not bad in itself though!). I racked up a whooping 7 finalist places there. I guess after this it urged other great painters that did not enter that first time to enter now – and indeed: last year the level of competition was awesome. I was positively blown away, earning ‘only’ a gold and two silver. But I was very happy, because this meant the level of competition would be taken very serious from now on. I will definitely try to enter next year again. Just like I intent to enter the Golden Demon, and the Scale Model Challenge, and …who knows?

Gerrie: With a handful of exceptions, The Netherlands isn’t particularly well known for its miniature painters. Why is that do you think? How big is your national and local community? 

Pascal: First of all, I think it is all a matter of statistics. If you’d take the number of great well known painters in, let’s say, Germany and compare that to the German population, I think the average would be more or less the same as here in the Netherlands, where we have a far lower population! But there could be another aspect to this as well, and that is the lack of support for high level painting skills. Like a well connected community, or serious painting competitions. The  latter is being remedied now somewhat with the Lowlands Painting Competition, and I think that the community will grow from that. Already after the 2012 Lowlands Painting Competition I met some like-minded painters to try to increase that level of commitment, that sense of community, by setting up a focal point for painters to refer to. A form where everyone could and should learn from each other. Well, it’s all quite in start-up mode actually, but the mindset is there.

I hardly ever come into a games store nowadays – I order my  supplies mostly on the net. But the local shop in my city is owned by a good friend, so I visit him now and again. I get to meet the hobbyists there, which is always fun. They often ask me for advice, and I help them mostly by setting their mind to a more self-criticism state, so they can improve on their own level. Nothing is as useless for a beginner to ask a better painter “What do you think of this mini?”. I always answer: “Compared to what? My work? Or the work of a Slayer Sword winner? Then it is crap. But compared to  your own work, did you improve since your last  model?”. Often they realize they asked the wrong question, which should be:”What should be the next thing I should focus on?”. In that way they have a goal to aim for. These guys actually know where to  find information on techniques, or color schemes, or whatever. What they lack is a hand to guide them to  the next step, to demand a higher level than before, to put the dots on the i’s, so to say.

And there’s the sad thing I noticed in the Dutch community: there is a group of well performing painters, that have some sense of secrecy about what they do. They feel they need to protect what they have learned themselves, and not share it with the newbies in fear of copycats. Hell, I think it is an homage to your work if kids want to copy you! Are they afraid they are going to ‘steal’ their ideas, schemes or prizes away from them? Which is stupid. For starters, that kid will probably never pull it off as good as you did. And if he could, he would not be bothered by copying your old work, but would want to make name for himself by creating his own work. We should support the kids, just to have more great painters out there!

Gerrie: You almost exclusively paint GW miniatures, right? Any other brands which find their way to your painting table?

Dims - Interview with Pascal Rooze
Chaos Lord on Juggernaut

Pascal: Actually I am starting to cut myself off of GW models more and more. Obviously, if I want to win a Demon, I need to use those. And I started out as a gamer in the first place, so I still do some army painting. But I am seeing so many gorgeous models from other companies, that my shelves are lining up with models I want to do (but will never come round to probably hahaha). I don’t have a favorite brand. If I like the model, I want it. And sure, one brand has more of those than others. At the moment, I am rather fond of Studio McVey (these models tell great tales), Freebooter (there is something about the aspect ratio’s of their female models), and Kingdom Death (these are awesome and painting female skin is a challenge).

Gerrie: What about wargaming?

Pascal: I started out as a big Warhammer Fantasy player, and later picked up Warhamer 40K as well. But the latter mostly just to have some fun with friends, rather than to be really good at it. When I found that this was actually why I want to play anything at all, I lost a bit of interest in gaming itself, and cared more about fun with friends. So nowadays I play about three games a year, hahaha. Seriously though, I often have painting ideas for whole armies, but I am starting to distance myself from those, as I want to spend more time on single, display quality models. Still, I have two armies I want have finished (Skaven and Necrons). Which is the hard thing: I really need to ‘tone down’ my own level of skill, to do the armies. No one in their right mind would paint armies the way you should paint display models. But I feel that each time I ‘tone down’, I will pay for it in my ‘up-game’. But maybe that’s just bull. Anyway, I tend to interchange my pace of painting to put things in perspective. If I am doing table-top quality for a long time, I really set myself to do one awesome piece. But if I get tired of that, I ‘loosen up’ a bit by getting back to the armies.

Gerrie: You told me the Lizardmen Stegadon which got you gold in the monster category of the 2012 Lowlands Painting Competition took more than 100 hours to complete. How do you keep yourself motivated during such a project?

Dims - Interview with Pascal Rooze
Lizardmen Stegadon

Pascal: I must honestly say that it is not 100 hours of painting. There is a lot work done in preparation and sculpting. But yeah, if the piece is something you really, really like, that makes up for a lot of it. In this case, I had a really cool idea (the transparent portal) that I wanted to see if it worked. I only had to work up past the Stegadon itself, which at first I hated, but later on I started to love because I saw it work. But really, if you are having fun painting it, you hardly notice time passing by. I loved doing the Gold NMM, since I set myself to try to blend those colors better. And if you see it working, that’s a great motivator. But once in a while I find myself lacking the energy, so that’s when I need to step out. I start working on something else. My girlfriend is a great motivator too: she is such a hard but fair critic. She has absolutely no affiliation with the hobby, but she has a great sense for color, composition and quality. And she knows what I am capable of, and expects it to show in the piece. Or even better.

I find inspiration in everything: in paintings, other people’s work, but also in everyday life, in stories I hear or read. I always look for passion in what other people do. Did they create their piece with passion? Even in what people have to tell: do they talk about it with passion? I believe that it shows, and that is what inspires me to show my passion.

Gerrie: What are your favorite online hobby resources?

Pascal: I visit CoolMiniOrNot a lot. Just to look at the pictures. I love to see the creative solutions some have to tell a story. Or to see how colors make the piece work. Or just to be baffled and have a goal to want to work to. But weirdly enough I hardly visit the forum there. I  have never really felt much for participating on forums – I think because there are too many people there who tell you a lot but hardly say anything useful. It sometimes overshadows those people I want or need to hear. So if anything, I mostly am a lurker.

I do have a blog that I infrequently post on, just to show what I am working on. Which is contradictory to the forum-thing, I know. But yeah, I don’t know, it may be a fear-thing or something. Considering online painting communities, I pretty much resemble a hermit with Twitter I guess, hahaha!

Gerrie: How do you see yourself progress as a painter?

Dims - Interview with Pascal Rooze
Emperor’s Wrath

Pascal: I have no illusions that I will be a pro-painter one day – if by ‘pro’ you mean ‘earning my living with it’. I lack the guts to take such a step. So I am content with it being a hobby. But I will always strive to be better with each new piece: try something new, try something challenging, work on something I am afraid of making a mess of, or even do a challenge as a dare. And nowadays I am very interested in following painting master classes that are able to kick up my level a notch (thank you Mathieu Fontaine). I do intent to win a Golden Demon once. That would be awesome. Should be doable, I think. But I know myself: once there, I will set my eyes on the next goal – a Slayer Sword, Gold in the Master categories on the Scale Model Challenge, maybe even Crystal Brush?

But those are goals of winning. Foremost, I want to enjoy. Enjoy the painting itself, the process of learning, enjoy the beauty of a model, enjoy the passion of another painter, and your own. This, I feel, is the most important thing. if you cannot enjoy your own work, you will not give your best, you will not see your own growth and thus you are not improving. Which is okay if you are happy with where you are at. But I am not. I always see, and seek, room for improvement.

Gerrie: Thank you again for this interview!

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds – review

Many of you surely wondered what kind of photographic backdrops we’ve been using recently. Searching the internet might have provided you the answer already, but now we’ve got more than that. This Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review sheds some more light on this subject, so in case you are wondering if these backgrounds would be of any use to you – read on.

Search for the perfect photo backdrop

We’ve been using quite a wide selection of photo backgrounds, ranging from digitally painted grunge through traditional blue-to-white gradients to plain white, black, gray or blue paper. Some of them did their job better, some did worse. But as some of you may know, I took many of the pictures presented in our galleries, and photography is also one of the aspects I enjoy in this hobby. So these experiments were a part of the hobby to me, and I must say I enjoyed them.

Still I was not sure that I got it all right, that we’ve been doing it the right way and not missing something.
The pains or doubts I had usually could be classified as:

  • backgrounds too distracting attention from the models,
  • backgrounds too plain and uninteresting,
  • texture too rough and thus creating “noise” in perception,
  • backgrounds getting damaged and worn too quickly,
  • backgrounds being too glossy or looking too faded,
  • color of the background unsuitable or even clashing with the model,
  • size of backgrounds being insufficient.

Of course, one can always print a new backdrop and not worry too much about damage to a printed sheet of paper. But having a tested and tried backdrop that is durable to at least some reasonable degree is always a nice touch that makes taking photos easier and more comfortable.

Then I was offered a chance to review Hangar 18 Miniatures‘ photo backgrounds. What a treat!

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds

Honestly speaking for a long time I was not aware that Hangar 18 Miniatures existed at all, and later I didn’t realize they made any photo backgrounds. So when I got the chance to test their products it was like waiting to play with a new and unexpected toy.

I had completely no idea about the kind of material they were made of, the quality of printing, texture of the material, durability and such. So when the tube with photo backgrounds arrived, I impatiently unpacked it.

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review

The backgrounds were rolled together and protected with a sheet of paper:

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review

So what was inside?

What I received was a HiDef Background Studio Series – 6 Prints Set. It included six photo backgrounds in A3 size (11″ x 17″). Each of them comes with a different print:

  • Green Gold
  • Soft Lavender
  • Grunge
  • Antique Leather
  • Antique Parchment
  • Midnight

That’s what they look like on the official photos (taken from the Hangar 18 Miniatures website):

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
HiDef Background Studio Series – 6 Prints Set
Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Green Gold
Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Soft Lavender
Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Grunge
Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Antique Leather
Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Antique Parchment
Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Midnight

These backgrounds are printed on flexible fabric, which allows to shape them, easily adjust them to your photo setup, and makes them very resistant to wrinkling. They’re nearly no-glare, so even in direct light conditions they look good on photos.

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
No glare!

This also has another effect though. The texture of the fabric is still visible on macro photos (that photos of miniatures usually are). Some people may like it, yet I would prefer the texture of fabric to be less defined.

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
The material those backgrounds are made of
Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Click on the photo until it zooms to full size to see the texture

Of course with macrophotography you usually get pretty small depth of field, so it’s very easy to get the texture nicely blurred and unnoticeable in the background behind the model, but the part directly around the model’s base will usually be sharp and in focus, so the texture will be very sharp there, too. It will show on the photos later in the review, so read on…

How I used them

There are many ways to use the backgrounds and most photographers will find their own ways to do it, so I will not go into too much detail here. After all the article is not about the way I work but about the backgrounds. One can easily attach them to a vertical surface with some sticky tape, paper clips or – what I usually do – with some blutack/patafix.

Thanks to the matte surface these backgrounds can be easily used in natural daylight and in artificial light coming from lamps. And even if the light is not diffused, there is no glare on the backgrounds. Well done!

Just take a look at these photos to see how we used these backgrounds:

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Wazdakka Gutsmek by Rzymek
Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Ethernia by Ańa
Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Marneus Calgar by JerzyK
Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Librarian by JerzyK
Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Necron Barge photographed for a friend

The size is pretty versatile. It allows to take photos not only of small miniatures but even of large models and whole units of smaller miniatures. Of course the size is not sufficient for whole armies or forces consisting of multiple units, but I read that larger versions of these backdrops were already released (A2 size), so maybe we will be able to take photos of whole forces on these backgrounds soon?

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Whole unit on the background…
Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
.. and yet another unit.
Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
And some Necrons, too!

While the size allows to take photos even of larger subjects, it is still compact enough to fit into many light tents or on photo tables and booths. So if you want a versatile and universal size of a background the regular A3 size may be the way to go anyway.

Durability

Now this was one of the points which are pretty important to me. I don’t want to buy new backgrounds again any day soon, so knowing that my backgrounds will not be scratched, bent or wrinked after a few weeks or months of use may be a tipping point for me. This was always a problem for me with my paper backgrounds, and I had pretty high hopes here.

Let me add that I can give my backgrounds pretty tough time when I get to start a photo session. I take pretty many photos of our miniatures even if only a few of them are published. This often includes some exposure variations, additional takes to be sure that I have everything sharp, plus some additional angles, etc. So when you take like 50-100 photos per photo session, you may expect that your background will be put to a test.

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Rasputina by Ańa
Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Ghazkull Thraka by Benathai
Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Odila by Ańa
Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Genestealer photographed for a friend
Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Miss Ticklenott by Slawol

So how did Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds do in this test? Well, very well and not so well.

There was no wrinkling, no permanent bending. The flexible fabric is really good material for a photo background. But bear in mind that the miniatures will be placed on the surface for most of the time, they will be pushed around, moved, rotated, and so on. So won’t this scratch the surface? Unfortunately it will…

These are photos of my Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds after like two months of use. Some were used more frequently, some not so often, but you can see some wear marks on the surfaces.

I think you can easily recognize the backgrounds that I use most frequently… 😉

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
See the scratches?
Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Some scratches again…
Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
See where I placed my minis?
Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
This one still looks OK

Now these two will be the least frequently used backdrops, so they’re the least scratched ones. But they’re also the lightest-colored of them all, so those scratches wouldn’t be as visible as on darker backgrounds.

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Any scratches here?
Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Looks like brand new!

So what do I think? Well, I won’t pretend they’re completely scratch resistant. They managed to avoid any other kind of damage, except for those scratches. Now let’s make one point clear: these scratches don’t mean the paint rubbed off from the backgrounds! No, they are only the spots where bases of my miniatures rubbed against the fabric and the backgrounds lost some of their dullness and became slightly more shiny.

So what you saw on the photos and what looked as if the color wore off, is only more light reflected from the backgrounds which became a kind of “polished” there. Still I consider it some problem, as I prefer my backgrounds to keep their no-glare finish, but I understand that with my “heavy duty” approach every background will be put to a hard test!

I still haven’t found a way to remove the scratches. I tried rubbing the backgrounds with a damp cloth, washing them, and a few other tricks, but none of them worked. Maybe giving them a spray coat of flat varnish will do the trick? 😉

One miniature, many backgrounds!

Having a choice of these Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds allows me to choose a suitable background for most miniatures quite easily and fast. By taking a look at these photos you can see results of my little experiment: how the same model may look on different backgrounds.

I took photos of most of them with and without a miniature, so you can see what the background looks like when the background is in focus (so you can see the details of texture and print more precisely) and when it is intentionally out of focus (with focus being on the miniature, so the background is slightly blurred in a way that doesn’t distract from the model).

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Grunge

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Midnight

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Green Gold

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Antique Leather

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Soft Lavender

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review

Why there are no photos of the Antique Parchment background here? Wait, and you will see them in a moment…

We’re going to show you another cool thing that can be pulled off with these backgrounds!

The backlighting trick

You might want to create a special focal point to attract attention to your miniature. Now you can do it without any photoshopping, just get yourself a little lamp and put it behind the background.

This is what the background looks like in normal lighting conditions – pretty much evenly lit:

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Backlight off

But when you turn that backlight on, you may create the additional focus!

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Backlight on!

With some adjustments to the position, distance, power and difussion of that backlight, you may achieve excellent results with no additional photo manipulation other than simple cropping!

Of course you may try it with every Hangar 18 Miniatures photo background, but you will notice that with the lightest ones…

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Antique Parchment

… effects are much less spectacular.

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Backlight on?

Nothing should discourage you from experimenting a bit with various lighting setups, including backlights. My suggestion is to diffuse the backlight a bit so the shape of your light (lamp/light bulb) is not so obviously and intrusively visible. If you don’t have a special diffuser, you may use a piece of milky plastic or even tissue.

Verdict?

Would you like to see more examples before the final judgement? Sure, we have quite a few of them. Just take a peek at the galleries of our works. There should be many photos taken with these backgrounds. Check Ana’s, JerzyK’s, Rzymek’s, Slawol’s, Benathai’s and Rentall’s galleries in particular. They should have the most examples of such photos. I told you I wasn’t all that easy on these backgrounds. 😛

Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Typhus by Slawol
Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Nokjagerin by Ańa
Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds review
Librarian by JerzyK

And what do I think?

Well, these are some of the best (if not the best) photo backgrounds I have used so far. There was only one problem for me – these shiny scratches, but as you can see on the photos of miniatures taken with these backgrounds – it’s nothing terrible, but I would still want my perfect product to be free of this problem. Maybe I can find a solution for this issue and in this case I will update the review, but if you know how to deal with it – tell me in the comments, please.

Now that even A2-sized backgrounds are available (no, I didn’t manage to get them yet) these seem to be a good choice for any hobbyist. Even those of us who need to take photographs of warbands or smaller armies will find these backgrounds useful.

And what do you think about these backgrounds? Let us know, please, share your own tips and show us how you use these Hangar 18 Miniatures photo backgrounds for your hobby purposes. 🙂

Miniature of the month: December 2012

Welcome in this very last Miniature of the Month edition in year 2012. Make your choice and choose your favourite miniature posted in December here at Chest of Colors.

Authors say

Now here is what the authors said about their works:

I have finally finished this project. It took me ages but most of the time it was me trying to come up with the substitute of the chain that broke but I got too tired with it and fixed the original.
All in all I am actually quite happy with this mini.
— k_dash

This was one of the first miniatures I’ve painted since starting again. Painted it as a gift for a very close friend who I’ve spent most of my life trying to hit with various forms of medieval weaponry!
— kirisute

Miniatures of the month December

Who can enter the competition

Everyone! Yes, that’s true. Have you ever considered competing and trying your skills with other great painters? This is a great opportunity. 🙂
It’s all very simple – just log into our forum and post pictures of your miniatures. They will automatically take part in next month voting.

Rules and voting

Everybody can vote for 3 miniatures of their choice. There will be one Miniature of the Month (the winner) and up to two honorable mentions. The number of honorable mentions will be reduced if two miniatures tie for the title of the Miniature of the Month, so the maximum number of awarded entries is 3.

OK, so now you should be ready to vote:

POLL CLOSED

The poll is open until the end of January. The results will be posted after the poll is closed and the winner will receive a honorary badge to display in his profile on our miniature painting forum and will take part in voting “Miniature of the Year 2012”. In case of a tie, the badge will be awarded to the winners. Up to two models will also receive honorary mentions.

We encourage you to comment on this month’s entries, explain your votes or even discuss votes of other users – we’ll be happy to read what you have to say. So don’t be shy and share your opinion with us. Thanks a lot!

Results

UPDATE: This time the winner is JerzyK, with a pretty solid win. Honorable mentions go to Arbal and Slawol. Thanks for your interest and congratulations!