Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Painting Log - Obavnik Kommander Zerkova and Reaver Guard

The nicest part about having a small number of new releases in a cycle is that it is often very easy to stay caught up with everything. I recently finished Ruin <link>, and thanks to a friend picking me up Zerkova2 at Lock & Load, I've also managed to get her painted up (before her release date even). So now I'm caught up on Khador releases though...at least October, it looks like.

Join me after the break for pictures of how the models turned out, my thoughts on this wicked trio of models, and what's next for me on the painting table.

Zerkova & Reaver Guard
Zerkova & Skullface Guard
Zerkova & Hornface Guard
Zerkova & Reaver Guard Rear View

First off: Zerkova and her Reaver Guard look just as good in person as they do in pictures. Possibly better, at least in the case of the Reaver Guard; I wasn't very impressed with them in the official studio pictures, but they look very nice in person.

The thing about the Reaver Guards that makes them a little unimpressive is that they look like gussied up Doom Reavers with a different paint scheme and weapons. But of course that is the point of the models: they are gussied up Doom Reavers with a different paint scheme and weapons. 

The differences that set the Reaver Guard apart from their line bretheren are very well executed - the armor plates are well definied and surprisingly easy to paint (small armor plates with edges like this can be a pain in the ass), the standout elements of the models (the masks, the hair, the shoulder plates) add a lot of character to essentially two faceless mooks, and there is the fact that, at least for me, Doom Reavers in general look pretty cool.

The standout model of the unit is Zerkova (as it should be). The design of Zerkova's model in this set is absolutely fantastic. If you look across the whole line of Warmachine models (not just Khador), you start to see a lot of reused design concepts - poses, model details, accessory use, etc - which can detract from the overall impact of a character model (they stand out a lot less when there are three or four other dudes on the table that are standing just like they are).

Zerkova's model design this time around isn't the most remarkable - walking forward, woo hoo! - but the key is the details. Many small things combine to make Zerkova's model very remarkable and impressive: the position of her legs, the use of the coat, the angle of her face, the positioning of her exposed arm. Taken as a whole, Zerkova's model conveys a lot of character and action, without having to resort to a stock "shorthand pose" (i.e. standing upright and pointing to show authority/disdain/priviledge) with a lot of fancy baubles to offset the bland pose (happens a lot in the Warmachine/Hordes line of models when you start noticing it). 

That is not to say that Zerkova's new model lacks detail - far from it - but the details are much more reserved and make plenty of sense in context (as comared to a model like Harkevich, which is a mess of pouches and rivets just to fill space). 

Point of fact, that lack of extraneous detail made Zerkova a bit intimidating to paint. While models that are covered in gobs of fancy bits are time consuming to paint, there is also a certain comfort in having all the "hard" parts laid out for you. If you paint all those details to the best of your ability, the model will probably turn out alright.

A model like Zerkova2's on the other hand leaves a lot up to the skill of the painter. There isn't a lot going on with Zerkova2's armor; if you want it to look good, you better be ready to blend in some nice highlights, pick out the edges carefully, etc, etc. It ends up being far more time consuming and difficult than just painting a bunch of rivets, even if something like that (painting rivets as an example) feels much more tedious. 

So, while the paint scheme for Zerkova2 and her unit could not be any easier - black and red on the armor (with red being the accent color, thanks to everything good in the world), some leather, some skin, some metal, some glowy bits, whammo, done - it ended up taking me longer than it probably should have because I stalled out for awhile on the black armor. 

I've done highlighting on black armor before, but most of the time I've been very cut-and-dry with it (harsh grey highlights) and I wanted to try to be a bit softer with it this time around. At the same time, I also didn't want to be doing in-depth lightlighting for every one of those damn armor plates and the majority of Zerkova's outfit. I settled on doing one highlight and tried to make it softer on the edges. I don't think its an award winning job, but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

Other than that, this unit was pretty standard stuff (as alluded to earlier) so once I managed to get over my hesitations with the black armor highlights, the rest of the models painted up fairly quickly and easily.

It is also at this point that I would like to restate to all sculptors, artists, model designers, and anyone who can help with this cause: stop putting grisly totems on models. It sure looks awesome when you're 13, but painting extra severed heads and skulls on models is a pain in the ass, in addition to being a pretty lowball way to convey that a model is a badass/crazy/evil. 40K and the former Warhammer Fantasy have given us all the skulls and severed heads we will need to paint. The rest of the miniature gaming world can totally take a break.

Now that they're all painting up, I'm looking forward to getting Zerkova2, Hack, and Slash on the tabletop sometime soon. It may be a little tricky, as my likely opponents will be either Protectorate, Circle, or Trollbloods. And I want to play Zerkova2 into exactly zero of those factions. But I'll probably throw her onto the table regardless; at best things will work out better than anticipated, and at worst I'll at least get a preliminary feel for how she plays.

As for what is next, I find myself at a bit of a crossroads. I have Convergence sitting there, just begging to be painted (Syntherion's list has been fully primed since I put it together). I also have a couple of Malifaux crews on deck for painting, and those are always a fairly quick, easy, fun painting project.

And then there is the prospect of more mercenary painting (that is, painting in exchange for money or goods, not painting Mercenaries). My list of models that I'd like to own is much, much larger than my allotable income (especially as of late) and it'd be nice to get some of the models I've been looking forward to owning. And with tertiary games like Infinity, it is actually becoming my preferred way to fill out my collection of those kinds of models. If left to my own devices, I'd never, ever find the money to buy them; other models, video games, and probably half a dozen other things would always take precedence.

So, even with Convergence and possible Malifaux on deck, I think I may devote my painting time to mercenary rewards for a bit. The trick is going to be to parcel the work units so that I never have so much in the queue at any one time that I start to get frustrated or discouraged; the last batch of models was maybe a bit too much to take on at once, though it worked out well in the end.

Next time, look forward to either painted robots, painting whatthehellisthats, or painted future warriors. I don't even know myself what it'll be! 

Please enjoy the intervening anticipation and excitement that I know you'll be feeling, and as always, thanks very much for reading!


  1. I'll likely call my reaver guards "Skully" and "Horny". ;)

    1. I like it. :-)

      One of my favorite things about the Reaver Guard is how much personality they have even though they're just mooks. I picture a revolving door of guys taking over those roles, but always ending up with the same nicknames, and thus do those personas live on forever.

      The Reaver Guards the Dread Pirate Roberts of warcaster unit models.