Introduction



Thanks for visiting my page. To help with navigation, here is a list of popular pages all about Marching in Colour

* The History of Marching In Colour - who is the man behind the words and service, how did it all come about

* Commissioning Models for Painting - how the process works, start to finish, and what you can expect

* Gallery of Artists Work - with over 20 years experience, here is a small sample of finished commissions

* Items For Sale or Trade - as well as painting models, I also sell pre-painted models and assorted loose models and scenery. Click the link for the current lists

* Trade in your old models for Painting Credit * click here for details

* To see details of all current commissions booked-in and estimated completion dates - click here

SCENERY and TERRAIN - for pre-made, handcrafted items of scenery and terrain, please click here

For TUTORIALS please follow this link - click here


Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Sneak Peak: Napoleonic French Infantry

Dam Xmas (and dam Star Wars Old Republic MMO) seems like I havent had chance to do anything here on the blog for a while. But I am still painting, and once the festive season is over and things are back to normal will be posting a ton of stuff. For now here are some sneak peak photos of some Naps I am working on. Models are 28mm, unsure of manufacturer.


Monday, 12 December 2011

Painting: 28mm Picts (Gripping Beast)



Ah mid-December, don’t you just love this time of year? Its almost here, its almost the big day! No, I am not talking about Xmas, but Star Wars: The Old Republic! The MMO launches on the 20th (or for those of us who pre-ordered, up to 5 days sooner)!



That being the case I have been working real hard to get these beauties – 28mm Gripping Beast Picts - finished otherwise they would probably be still here, unpainted, in March, the expected date for my first break from Star Wars.




This is my first attempt in a long while at painting Tartan (thanks again to the good folks at TMP for their advice). I found it easier to paint the initial layer and lines, then wash over the top of the dress with a stain, and then pick out the base layer again rather than paint lines on top of lines.




Apologies for this entry being brief but I really must press on, time is short and no manipulation of the force will make my painting any faster!




Coming Soon: Painting a Goblin in 4 simple steps, Creating 'Concrete' effects and Norman Crossbowmen!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

On the Workbench: 28mm Picts (Gripping Beast)

Preview photos of my first attempt in a long while at painting tartan cloth.






I painted the lines onto the basecoat then gave the whole lot a light brown wash before going over the basecoat again. I did it this way to try and blend the lines into the cloth a little and avoid it looking like painted on lines. Model is more of a 'test piece' than a finished wok

Xericor's Tactica: 'Toss out a brick to get a Jade Gem'

Toss out a brick to get a Jade Gem
(or how much would you pay to dictate your enemies actions)

Have you ever been in a conversation where you have said something funny or witty, only for a reply to come that turns your humour on its head and makes you the butt of the joke? Yes, me too. The common phrase is often used 'you walked right into that one'.

But what if we could do something about it, like predicting the future, what if we knew the response, would we still leave ourselves open for the riposte? Probably not. Unless, of course, we had something to gain, or it was part of a cunning plan...

There is a ancient Chinese essay called the 'Thirty-Six Stratagems', similar to the great book of Sun Tzu, that describes a series of strategies to be employed in war, politics, or similar interactions. In this article I will look at one of these stratagems and how we can apply it to our game play.

The stratagem 'Toss out a brick to get a Jade Gem' comes in Chapter 3 of the essay, and is part of the 'Attacking Stratagems'. In its simplest form it means to teach the reader to give up something in order to gain a more valuable asset. Its a kind of sacrifice but with the aim of gaining a more valuable reward. How can we use this in our games? The idea of giving something up, of voluntarily sacrificing our forces is often hard to grasp, nobody likes to lose anything. But consider in a game that uses 'Points Values' for troops. Who wouldn’t sacrifice 100 points of troops to inflict 110 points of damage on the enemy? In a FPS game, where Kill/Death ratio counts for victory, you can die 15 times as long as you kill 16 times.

When we look at it like that, in simple terms, it works very well. In practice however its a completely different matter. Which brings me back round to the 'you walked into that one' conversation at the start. We need to give before we receive, but when we can say in no uncertain terms that the enemy will take us up on the offer, we are already one move ahead of them. We know the outcome, we effectively can see the future. The only questions that remain are how much are we willing to pay for this and how can we maximise on this knowledge.

Play like this, and as long as you don’t give up to much, you will always be dictating the course of play, and you will always be winning. The icing on the cake is knowing that the enemy thinks HE is making the good plays, until, its far to late...

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Painting: 6mm Punic Wars, Carthage Cavalry

Carthage Libyan Cavalry
Models: Baccus 6mm



While I don’t game much these days, and don’t really own that many miniatures, what I do have is a rather large 6mm Roman Army, and a rather large collection of unpainted metal that is their Carthage opponents.

These guys are supposed to be Libyan Cavalry, but I should point out for the purists out there that when I paint 6mm I tend to over exaggerate colours so they stand out more on the battlefield. I also have a tendency to paint my armies with a familiar scheme and to try and keep it throughout the units even if this means sacrificing a little historical accuracy along the way. I suppose its the computer gamer in me, I like to see all my forces my colour!





On that note I should mention the armour (gold) is over exaggerated so as to stand out on the field from other, less armoured units, and the theme of white/red for my Carthage is carried out on the shields, plumes and skirts.



Another note is the skin colour. Probably not the best choice but having dark skin African cavalry units already as part of the army I wanted these guys to be recognisable against them.



When painting 6mm I often find less is more. Use solid dabs of colour and if a detail looks to thin, or hard to paint, leave it. Nobody is going to notice if one belt isn’t painted, or the corner of a shield isn’t perfect. This scale is all about mass effect – what all the models look like together.



Another point to note is shading. Where colours are easy to blend into each other when painting 28mm, this doesn’t work at 6mm level. Try to avoid any shading or highlighting. Instead use the 'blob method' and try to paint a smaller blob on the top of your base colour.



I will do an article on basing these in a future blog, so please check back often.
Thanks
Chris


Game Review: Drakensang Online
Game Type: MMMO, Browser Based
Fees: Free to play with in game premium currency
Status: Open Beta



Drakensang Online – one to watch?

I play a lot of games, and I have given up on playing a lot more. There is always something new coming along, and very few games actually have the staying power needed to compete in such a fickle industry. One of the latest games to attract my attention is Drakensang Online, but is it here to stay or will I be playing something else next week and saying Draken-what?

Overview
Drakensang Online is a typical fantasy game, the hero wields a sword or casts spells and fights all manner of evil looking creatures, both alive and undead. A little research shows that the game is based on a German PC game that received praise and won a few awards. Still, its German, I have never heard of it, so I am guessing it didn’t take off much outside of Germany.



First Impressions
As I said at the start I play a lot of games, and have played a lot of browser based RPG games so I was not really expecting much here. What I got was a huge visual treat. The 3D environments are fantastic and the graphics are outstanding. For a browser based game I think this is on the edge of being one of the best.

Game-play
Here it is a simple case of talk to an NPC, get a quest, jolly off into the countryside, or the cave, or the forest (all visually superb) and generally either kill stuff or search for stuff. The search part is a pleasant addition to the usual 'just kill stuff' in most games. The controls are very easy and consist of clicking the mouse to move and attack, holding it down to continue, and a 'belt' feature for skills and potions which are accessed by pressing a numerical key. One nice touch is the ability to use the 'tab' key to switch quickly between 2 skills set for your right mouse button.



As your character kills monsters and completes quests you get the usual EXP to level up. An increase in level brings with it new skills, or more access to more powerful versions of the skills you already have.



Currently there are only 2 character classes available (but a 3rd coming soon). They are the 'Dragon Knight', a hand-to-hand specialist, armour wearing with either a sword/axe/mace and shield combo else a double handed weapon, and the Spellweaver a typical magic user class who relies on a variety of magic spells.


PvE
The fights against monsters in Drakensang Online are very simple, but the animation, the variety of enemies and the over all graphics make it more entertaining than it normally would be. Make no mistake though the grind is still there. Kill monster, gain exp, hope monster drops useful item, repeat is basically the game. The addition of skills/spells make the combat more tactical than just hit/slice.



A couple of interesting game play points stand out, the first is the way damage is applied. Rather than have a % chance to hit/miss and a damage value, the approach is that hits cause damage, which is then reduced by armour. This makes enemies armed with missile weapons (or range spells) very annoying if you are engaged in hand to hand. Whilst it is possible to simply move to avoid arrows (hmm....) you cant if you are attacking, meaning you are going to take a little damage from range while being unable to respond.

The second novel point lies with the character classes and their skills, especially when you party with other players. The Knights skills only become available when they generate enough 'Rage' points through damaging the enemy, the Spellweavers magic is the opposite. Spellweavers have mana that depletes when they cast a spell. This means that Knights get better as the fight goes on, whilst the Spellweavers need to rest to regain their magic. This makes combat interesting, do you wait for the Mage, or press on while the Knight is stronger?



Party Play
There are many areas in the game that are tough and it is really best to approach them with fellow players. Drakensang handles this in 2 ways. Anybody in the same area can attack the same target, with whoever gets the kill gaining the exp and item drop, or you can officially party up with other players and share the exp and drops. This is a great idea meaning you can play with friends and guilds, or you can give and receive help from any player in the area if you playing alone but get in trouble in a tough fight.

Open Areas v Dungeons
The places between towns and outposts are free roam for any players, and the areas are jointly shared. Given the very nice co-op and co-ordination options available to players, you are often happy to be not fighting alone, especially when rushed by a ton of monsters. The only down side is when you are on specific 'slay x creatures of a certain type' missions and then the presence of other players can become irritating, especially if they are on the same slay mission as yourself. It becomes a game of waiting around for the re-spawn then hoping you get the kill.



Dungeons are a different story. When you access a dungeon, its your own personal dungeon (or your parties). No other players, outside of the party, can interfere with your game. If they enter the dungeon, it spawns a different solo area for them. One nice addition here is the inclusion of 'Special Dungeons' teemed with harder creatures and which yield better rewards in terms of items. These dungeons require special shards to enter, and are mostly recommended for party play.

PvP
Player verses Player fights are available in Drakensang and handled in two ways, both of which work in theory very well, but in practice a little less so.
The first PvP is a kind of free roam, you can set your PvP option to 'open' in any town (safe areas) and your name will turn red instead of white, to show you are up for a fight. From now on whenever you head out of a town you can engage in combat with any other PvP player, anywhere, any time, even in a field of monsters.
This approach works very well, giving the player a choice to pvp or not, but it also makes for a bully environment, high level characters picking on low levels when they turn up, but you can always turn tail and run!

The other approach to PvP is in the Arena. The player can pick to join either a 3v3 Death Match, which takes place in a confined area, with a 7-minute clock counting down. Whichever team has the most kills at the end wins, but all players earn credits (to spend in the special PvP store) so even defeat earns you a little reward. There is also a 5v5 'Capture the Flag' but its a little hard to understand how it works, and from what I have seen and played, it always ends in players running aimlessly around doing nothing. Hopefully this will be patched sometime soon.



While PvP awards credits to use in a special store to purchase new items, the mechanics of this suffer from the best items being way to over priced. Some of the numbers really need reworking, or the rewards per game increased, as for top tier weapons you will be looking at playing PvP non stop for a very very long time...

Worthy of note is that the option to join PvP arena can be selected from anywhere at anytime, and you can continue playing, questing and fighting, while the game searches for balanced opponents. Once a game is found a pop-up window, with a 15 second count down, appears asking if you want to join the game. You can click yes and be teleported straight to the PvP Arena, or decline the invite if you have changed your mind.

Items/Game Economy
Like is the trend these days, free games have 2 different in-game currencies – the standard 'gold' dropped by monsters and a 'premium' currency which is generally purchased with real life money.
It is however worth noting that premium currency is dropped by monsters and the purchase price itself is extremely low (starting at just over £1.00).



Premium currency is also given as quest rewards, which itself is a very nice way to encourage players to stay at the game and play.

There is the usual selection of weapons, armour, shields, rings, amulets etc that are found in most games, with the stats of each raising as the level of the item increases. Each item has 5 levels from Standard through to Legendary. A nice recent addition is the ability to craft better items from items the character finds but doesn’t need. All but standard level items can be improved by combining any 4 items in a special crafting machine. The result of which is a random item (based on the attributes, and type of the original items used) of a higher level. For instance 4 magical items will wield 1 exceptional level item.



While there is a nice selection of items, and a way to improve items, the design is very simple, almost lacking when compared with other games of this kind. The problem is that in most cases only one item exists for the characters level. For instance only 1 axe, or one type of armour, so every time you reach a new level its almost like you must go back to town and get rid of your old axe and get the new one, and what’s more every other player has the same pick. This ends up with every level 20 Knight looking identical because every level 20 uses the same level 20 gear.

There are of course small exceptions to this. Stats on magical items can sometimes negate the need to level your item (enhanced armour on magic boots for example may increase their base armour to higher than the next level items base stats) and there is also the option to level-up your item, useful if you have a nice item with nice stats and the next item isn’t available until you are higher level.

Magic items are also limited in what they can grant the player in terms of bonus. Extra health, armour, damage are the most common, with some items spawning bonus to attack speed or other such. Work here needs to be done. There are no boots that boost speed, or helms that boost LoS in dark areas etc. More imagination is needed to spice up magic items.

What is lacking, greatly, is any kind of player to player trading system. The only options you have with your old gear, no matter how magical or great, is to sell to a vendor for coin. Items degrade over time and need repairing, but this isn’t a problem, more of a hindrance as coin is plentiful and you shouldn’t run short.



Support/Development
At time of writing this the game boasts over 1.8 million registered accounts, how many play is a different question. There are only 5 servers, and while occasional minor lag is experienced during peak hours it is clear that nowhere near these numbers are actually playing. That is not to say the game lacks players, at any given time in any area you can find plenty of players, and finding a party to co-op with is extremely easy.

The game is in Open Beta, and so far has had nice regular updates and tweaks. It feels as though the game is supported at design/management level and that the company are going to stick with it.

The community support however is a different matter. Given the game boasts 1.8million registered accounts, only 1.8 people seem to have found the official Forum. Community involvement here is very small, for whatever reason nobody seems to use the forums much, new topics are rare and questions can go a long time unanswered. Maybe that the game is German may have something to do with this, I don’t speak German but perhaps that’s where all the players hang out, in the German Forums.


In summary -
This game is visually superb, from the back drops to the creatures (little and large!), to the lighting elements (my axe actually reflected in-game moonlight). Combat is easy, the addition of skills and different playing styles of the 2 classes make for some tactical fights, but in the end it is simple hack n slash, over and over, and can get a little boring sometimes.

Party play is good and the reward drop system is a nice change (items drop for all players regardless of who makes the actual kill), finding a party and inviting/joining is also very simple. The game feels as though it encourages party play, whilst also allowing solo play, which is always a good thing.

The downside is that it is lacking in certain areas. PvP Arena balance needs work, as does items and abilities, to try and move away from the feeling that every character of a specific level is almost identical to every other character of that level.

For Open Beta however this game is certainly one to watch, and I recommend anyone with an interest in games like this to try it out for a few hours, you will be impressed with the visuals at the very least.

Will this game last? That’s a tough question.. it is essentially a Diablo clone and with D3 looming on the horizon, with all the support and budget of the giant that is Blizzard, Drakensang needs to pull something magical out of its time in Beta to survive against such tough competition. Until D3 is released though, I will be enjoying Drakensang Online.

For more information and to try the game for free, visit
http://heredur.drakensang-online.com/

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Bloodbowl Orc Referee
Model: Shadowforge



To add a little spice to our Bloodbowl games I ordered a number of Referee models from Shadowforge Miniatures of Australia. Here in the UK its tricky to get Shadowforge models and due to the import, they usually cost a little more than other manufacturers but the models are nice and worth taking a look. Shadowforge only produce female models which makes a novel addition to market.

This model was very easy to paint. The black/white of the ref uniform was halfway complete with the black undercoat, so it was just a case of how to do the Orc skin.

There are several methods to painting Orcs, and each method achieves a different skin tone and look to the model. However you paint the flesh I recommend using 2 colours, one dark and one light and mixing the colours before you start.




Add the dark paint to the left hand side of your mixing area, and the light paint to the right. Mix the two in the middle, then paint your model starting with the darker side first and working along to the light. Having paint mixed like this means its easy to touch up any mistakes or areas that don’t look right without having to try and mix the paint all over again.



The white lines on the shirt were first painted a dark grey. Always try to step your shades, don’t paint white straight onto black as the contrast is often to sharp and the even small mistakes (painting straight lines) look like big mistakes. A wonky white line doesn’t show up so bad if its on a grey background as the colours blend easier.



The model was painted with Vallejo, the black/white/grey colours are pretty obvious, the skin tone was created with 72067 Cayman Green and 72031 Camouflage Green.





As always any comments, suggestions or questions are always appreciated.

Thanks for looking
Chris

GW Space Marine Captain, Dark Angels Chapter

Space Marine Captain
Chapter: Dark Angels
Model: Games Workshop



Like a lot people here in the UK, I started with Dungeons and Dragons and moved into Games Workshop, and while I only played 40k for a brief spell (I was always a WFB person) I have come across and painted a lot of these guys over the years, and in a variety of chapter colours.



I wanted to paint this Captain as a member of the Dark Angels Chapter, which when using Vallejo paints already poses one problem – the Vallejo Dark Green is a horrible colour to work with. Anyone having problems with a colour needs to look at and think of a base colour that would support the difficult colour. Shades and colours act differently when they are on top of a base coat and white/black is not always the best choice.

A flat dark shade of the colour you want is usually the best undercoat, but this often means you are in effect painting the same region twice...



The solution to Vallejo 72028 Dark Green I find is 72064 Yellow Olive, as shown in the photo below.

Once you have the armour down, there isn't much else to do on a model like this. A light dry brush on the metal weapons and a coat of flesh on the face.

It is important to focus a little extra effort on natural focal points on models (the area you tend to see first). On this model the central rosette, especially when painted red, attracts the eye and as a natural feature we tend to look 'upwards' so attention was needed on the crest on the models chest.



This was accomplished with a base coat of 72050 Cold Grey, then the details picked out carefully with a thin brush and 72047 Wolf Grey paint.






Thanks for taking the time to check out my work. Any comments are always appreciated.
Chris

One the Workbench: Lots!

I have plenty of work for the immediate future so I will be bringing plenty of new updates. A sneak preview of what I am working on at the minute -

Space Marine Captain: Going to be from the Dark Angels Chapter, model is GW

While some may argue Blood Bowl lacks rules and is more of a free-for-all-fight with a ball thrown in somewhere, this Orc Ref may disagree.. or maybe she is just there to join in the fight? Model is Shadowforge

Plenty of these guys, 28mm Picts, coming soon. For now I will be concentrating on these Javelin infantry. Models are Gripping Beast

Last but not least (well least in size!) we have a new unit for my own Carthage Army. Models are Baccus 6mm

Friday, 2 December 2011

Gripping Beast Saxons

Models: 28mm Gripping Beast Saxons



These models have been painted for a friend of mine, who I have done work for over the past few years and who probably owns more models painted by me than I do myself!



I like these figures, they look bulky at first and it feels like you get a lot of metal for your money, but they are nice scaled models.




The flash on my camera exaggerates the colours, especially the metal armour which is dry brushed lighter than it looks in the photos. I will try and take some better photos in natural light during the day time.




Still a bit of work needed to patch up the odd spot I missed first time round, but other than that I am happy with the way they look, except maybe the shields could do with a little more work.




Thanks for taking the time to check out my work. Any comments or feedback will be recieved gladly.
Chris

Coming Up: 28mm Picts