Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Art of Yours Truly

Alright, so, I've been posting concept art, off and on, from--mostly--artists in the Tyranid community. Like I've said before, I love concept art and find it wonderfully inspiring. When I posted up my last ARTicle (see what I did there?), someone commented that, though I post sketches from all these other artists, I never post any of my own.

I tried to explain it away, saying that I wasn't much of an artist when it came to drawing, and that I got my ideas firmed up best in real models.

I later discovered that the Anonymous poster was, in fact, my own brother, which caused me to discount his comment entirely until he explained his reasoning. He said that he'd seen the kinds of random doodles I do to get ideas about how to lay out models/to preserve the images that flash through my brain. While he agreed that they weren't "Art," he thought that there may be people out there who were daunted by the idea of sketching something and who don't dare draw because they feel their drawings are terrible. He's a very different kind of artist than me, and I think that in this difference he has more patience with all kinds of art, while I tend to discount anything I do that isn't perfect.

All philosophical art posturing aside, he told me that I should whip up a post about the random sketches I do to show that cool models can come from random sketches. I think that maybe he's right, and in the vein of the How To Sculpt series, I hope that this post shows people that sometimes just doing something is enough: that you don't have to be amazing to at least be good.

If not, it should at least be good for some LOL'z.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Warning! Incoming Price Hike!

GW's generic announcement of their price hike at the end of May of last year. I had to really dig on their site to find this, and I haven't been able to find a similar one for this year's hike.

This is going to sound like belly-aching, but I just want to make sure that no one gets blind-sided by this. News coming in from independent retailers is that Games Workshop has sent around a message detailing products that are going to have their prices increased in June. The complete list of price increases can be found in the BoLS Lounge.

Price hikes are lame, and I think we can all agree on that. They're lamer still when they come out of nowhere with no warning. So, though the adequate response to a price hike should be a buying freeze, if you need to get some GW product right now, best to buy it soon before it goes up, and best to buy it from an independent retailer who offers a %-off and makes sure less cash flows into the company coffers.

Alright. Flame off. Consider yourselves advised. I promise I'll get back to making fun things now...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Announcements: Winners and Workshops

Howdy Folks,

I've now gotten in touch with both winners of the 10,000 View Giveaway, and they've both come back with their model choices, so I guess I'm good to announce them here.

Krewl Rain from Warpshadow was our first winner, and she has asked me to whip up a Tyranid Prime for her, armed with bonesword, lashwhip, and some other mystery weapon. I feel rather guilty about it, but I haven't, actually, made a Tyranid Prime since the codex came out, despite having all kinds of decent ideas for them. This project will be a good kick in the rump to get those ideas down in a model.

Next up, Natfka, from Faeit 212 won the second prize, and he has requested that I craft him a convincing Asdrubael Vect (can you believe I've been calling him Absurdrael all these years? how fitting is that?) stand-in as the only current Games Workshop model for that powerful character is pewter and wears a funny hat. I've already envisioned the dark lord striding down the deck of his Dias of Destruction with his Scepter of the Dark City held aloft. I'm taking this as an opportunity to experiment with a non-combat pose, and I'm hoping that I can make Vect look at once menacing and regal. I'm excited about making the Scepter, as it should be the focal point of the model, but I'm also keen for the opportunity to really pimp out Vect's ghostplate armour.

I can't wait to start on both models, and I'll surely be posting progress here.

I'd also like to plug a Workshop that Simon Elsen (also known as Terrorfex on Warpshadow or Katan on 5th Dimension) is organizing for September. He's taking a step down the road of the Massive Voodoo kids and is offering his first ever painting workshop. If you're wondering why you should want to join Simon's workshop, you need look no further than the GW What's New blog, which he has been frequenting of late, or his galleries over on 5th Dimension.

The workshop is taking place in Germany, so if that is where you hail from, or if you can get there without too much trouble, check out the details over on 5th Dimension. So far they've only been posted in German, so I hope you're fluent.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

10,000 Views Giveaway Announcement

The results are in, and I'd like to congratulate the two lucky winners of my first-ever Commission Giveaway contest. They were drawn earlier today by a special guest, and you can see the results without further ado in the following video:

If you were lucky enough to be selected, please get in touch with me and let me know what kind of commission you'd like me to make, provided that it falls within the aforementioned guidelines. If you weren't chosen this time, then don't worry as I'm sure I'll be doing another giveaway some time soon.

I can't wait to see what kind of projects the winners come up with...

Friday, May 25, 2012

Coven Raider Update

Here's an update for my Coven Raider project, but it's been so long since I posted it that I figure this may be the first time that some people are seeing the project.

My concept for the Coven Raider was something a little more than the common Raider+Tentacles. Though it was a little more expensive than slapping some tentacles on a Raider, I wanted to have a Raider that was powered by a Talos. My idea was a bit like the Talos would be pulling the Raider, except it would be built into the body.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Olden Demon Entries

Yes, that's right: Olden Demon Entries.

Despite fraternizing with and doing commissions for Golden Demon winning artists, I've never actually scored a demon for myself. Years ago I tried: once with a Red Terror and once with an Old One Eye (somehow that seems fitting). Though I've taken shots of these two models before, while I had my photography set up out to take some other photos, I thought I should try to get some nicer ones of these models as well.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Deepthought: We. Are. The Hobby.

This is a hobby editorial. I went to school to become and try to make my living as a writer. Though I love the hobby, and I'd like nothing better than to sculpt all day, posting amazing things on here for all to ogle, there are times when the urge to write strikes, and I try to use these interludes to delve deeper into important parts of the hobby. I hope you find the following article interesting, and I promise to get back to posting cool models soon!

First off, I'd like to state that this is not going to be one of those articles.

Anyone who knows me from Warpshadow knows that I don't go in for Games Workshop bashing. Though this may start with a bit of negative sentiment, I would ask you to stick with the article and read it through 'til the end as the end, in a way, is the most important part. That being said, it's a biggie, so best to grab a cuppa something to go along with it.

Though I don't go in for Company Bashing, I got very close last May, when it seemed like The Company was doing everything in their power to squeeze more money out of their Hobbyists (heck, at one point I was planning a revolution). On May 18th of last year, at the height of the Internet furor over price hikes, Finecast (and its further price hikes), and the restriction of UK-based, world-wide online retailers, Games Workshop CEO Mark Wells sent out a letter to hobbyists. If you missed it, the full letter can be viewed on Beasts of War.

There are many things I could take issue with in this letter, but the greatest and most glaring of them is the following, taken verbatim from the letter that Mark Wells, CEO of Games Workshop, sent out to a hobbyist:

...the simple fact is that European internet traders will not invest any money in growing the hobby in your country. Their model is to minimise their costs and free-ride on the investment of Games Workshop and local independent shops in creating a customer base.

For all my lack of Games Workshop bashing, that was a statement that rankled me. Though there may well be some free-riding internet retailers, there are also SCADS more internet retailers who support themselves by selling models so that they can spend the rest of their days writing hobby articles or creating cool conversions for other hobbyists to use. Some of these online retailers who invest a goodly portion of their time into growing the hobby online took the statement as what it was: a direct slap in the face, and they posted comments like this one from Matthew over at

The gist of this letter seemed to be the idea that Games Workshop invests more time and money than anyone in growing this hobby, so it makes sense to pay their prices and not to support freeloading online retailers. It got me thinking about just how much time and money all of us in this interconnected, online, miniature community invest into this hobby. I had a revelation about the nature of what our communities had evolved into: I thought that if we could ever herd together the 1,000 cats of our online community and convince them to dream a single dream, we would be the ones at the controls of this hobby community and not The Company. I came to a realization that is the first main thrust of this article. It was a simple statement that belies the foundation-shaking strength of the sentiment behind it:

We. Are. The Hobby.

You, and me; what we do here, and the interactions that hobbyists have on miniature-based blogs and forums all over the net. We are the hobby.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

That's All, Folks!

That's it; that's all. The window of opportunity for the 10,000 view giveaway has now closed. Thanks to all of you who emailed and commented and linked to the blog. I hope everyone managed to get their comments and emails in on time. As I'm about to go away for an extended long weekend, I may not be able to draw the two winners until next week sometime, but we'll see how things shake out. I'm really excited to see who wins and see what kind of diabolical things they come up with for me to make for them.

If you missed this opportunity, I'm pretty sure that I'll be doing another giveaway in the near future based on how much interest there has ben in this one, so keep on pointing people to the blog, and we'll see how long it takes to reach another milestone.

25,000 views? 50,000 views? Who knows?!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How To Sculpt Miniatures 4: What to Buy

This How to Sculpt Miniatures series is my attempt to demystify the idea of sculpting your own miniatures. It seems that more and more people are taking cracks at it these days as the means of production are getting so very cheap and third-party casting companies are growing like mushrooms. Still, no matter how many head-swap bits are retailed, there is going to come a time when you have an awesome idea for a miniature, and there might not be a compatible, ready-made bit. You're going to have to make it yourself, and it is my belief that the only thing standing in your way is a few helpful tips.

Greetings Epoxy Crafters!

I was trying to decide whether to write this article or not to write this article. I figured that if anyone was interested in procuring the tools/materials I highlighted, they would probably just look them up on the Internet, but, in case you're lazy or you're looking for some direction, I'll go over where I found the tools and materials I recommend.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rocketgaunts: Alternate Plastic Gargoyles

REMINDER: If you haven't gotten around to it yet, you've only got until tomorrow at midnight to enter the 10,000 View Commission Giveaway, so be sure to get on it :)

For all my talk of making Tyranids, there have been painfully few of them kicking around this blog for a while now, so here's an attempt to address that discrepancy! Anyone who has been around Warpshadow has, likely, already run across my Rocketgaunt concept, but I thought I'd dig out my rats with wings, dust them off, and take some better photographs of them.

The Rocketgaunt originated back when the idea of plastic gargoyles was just a rumour on the breeze. The only gargoyles available were the annoying, precarious, flying-brick pewter models. I was determined to find a way to build plastic gargoyles out of a pile of Macragge Termagaunts and some other more-or-less unneeded Tyranid bits. I took my inspiration from Tyson Koch, also known as Menelker, and his Rocket Tyrant solution for a flying Hive Tyrant:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Feel More Pain: Wracks' Pain Counters Done

They were pretty far along when last I posted my first update about them, but the Pain Counters for the Wracks squad are now complete. 
I have a good deal of love for the Grotesque squad's pain counters as they were my first and they helped me pioneer the idea of the counter representing one victim becoming more twisted by pain. Still, I think that I'm happier with how these guys came out. They seem a little cleaner (in terms of construction) than the former, while also seeming more messy (in terms of the scenes being depicted).

That being said, for my next set of pain counters, I'm going to go back to the idea of the victim becoming a testament to pain: a kind of twisted sculpture. While working on the coven, I've become obsessed with the whole "external spine" idea, and I think I can get decent milage out of a face-down victim whose spine is turning into a veritable work of art growing out of his back.

Until then, let's take some more looks at these guys. I'm happy these pain counters gave me the chance to get more hemavores out on the field. I think these things are super creepy, but they are in no way present in most of the Coven kits. I look forward to trying to remedy that by sculpting many more of them.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

10,000 View Commission Giveaway

UPDATE: The 10,000 View Giveaway is now closed and I've shut down the comments for this post. Thank you for your entries, and I look forward to the next milestone giveaway I'm able to run.

Folks, it happened sometime Monday night: Modern Synthesist broke 10,000 views. Now, I know there are blogs out there that are viewed a heck of a lot more than that, but it's a momentous sort of a milestone for me now, shortly after this little bloggerino celebrated its first birthday.
There are certain folks I should thank for getting the Modern Synthesist name out there:

Warpshadow - The crazy, tentacle-saluting kids who have been with me since the beginning (nearly 10 years ago, EEK!), commenting on all my Nid projects and helping to make them perfect. If you've been looking for a positive, constructive, talented group of Tyranid players and modelers, you should check out the forums on Warpshadow.

The Dark City - I've lurked around the Dark City for a while, but I only began posting there recently. A more wretched hive of scum and villainy you will never find, so if you're into Dark Eldar, check the forum out. The folks over there have been wonderfully complimentary of my modest progress on my Coven units.

Eye of Error - LuckyNo.5's fantastic conversion blog. If you haven't seen it, you need to check it out. He's got some great Dark Eldar projects, and he's currently working on some Undersea Chaos Marines, with all kinds of sweet diving gear and TENTACLES! Also, he's come up with a clever Grotesques conversion that I love second only to my own (in fact, his may be a bit more elegant than mine).

Faeit 212 - I've been following Natfka's 40K Rumours blog for about a year now, and he always keeps me in the know. I'm pretty sure it was him adding me to his list of blog affiliates that pushed me over the 10,000 mark last night, so I'm glad that we're talking about sharing some of my modeling content on his blog as it's the least I could do to repay him for the favour. What's more, if you've come here from Faeit, this post will be your chance to possibly be rewarded for your hard work!

To say thanks to all you fine folks who roll up here so frequently, as well as to those who have just stumbled across this blog, I thought I should do...something. I wasn't really sure what to do, so I'll jump in with both feet and probably bite off more than I can chew:

Mr_Pink's First Ever Commission Giveaway!

Monday, May 07, 2012

How to Sculpt Miniatures 3: Sculpting Skills

This How to Sculpt Miniatures series is my attempt to demystify the idea of sculpting your own miniatures. It seems that more and more people are taking cracks at it these days as the means of production are getting so very cheap and third-party casting companies are growing like mushrooms. Still, no matter how many head-swap bits are retailed, there is going to come a time when you have an awesome idea for a miniature, and there might not be a compatible, ready-made bit. You're going to have to make it yourself, and it is my belief that the only thing standing in your way is a few helpful tips.

UPDATE: I updated this article on Wednesday May 9 to add in a fourth Caveat. It was the type of thing that seemed obvious, so I left it out, but I have since realized that it is pretty important if you've never sculpted before or are just starting. Be sure to check it out below!

The following is best viewed as a continuation of How to Sculpt Miniatures 2 as I wasn't exactly sure where you break that article. Now that I've gone over the putties I use and have talked a bit about how to get a bit more out of them, I'll be getting into the nitty gritty of how parts 1 (tools) and 2 (putties) come together.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

The Shambling Masses: Wracks. Done.

There wasn't a whole helluvalot changed since my last update on the Wracks, but I am happy to say that they are now DONESKI! I hope that the gentleman who commissioned them will be well pleased with how they turned out. Both they and the Grotesques wound up being far bigger a project than either one of us had expected, but, for me, that is mostly because I wound up putting a lot more work into them than I had expected they'd need.

Fortunately, I'm happy with the finished product, and I will be sad to see them go when it comes time to send them on their way to their new owner.

For now, though, here are some photos of them. I've been working on my model photography as well, and the addition of an external flash has opened up whole new worlds of glorious lighting to me. Though I could have gone in and edited the colours a bit, these turned out pretty well for a straight shot-to-net process.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

How to Sculpt Miniatures 2: How to use Epoxy Putty, Greenstuff, Apoxie Sculpt

This How to Sculpt Miniatures series is my attempt to demystify the idea of sculpting your own miniatures. It seems that more and more people are taking cracks at it these days as the means of production are getting so very cheap and third-party casting companies are growing like mushrooms. Still, no matter how many head-swap bits are retailed, there is going to come a time when you have an awesome idea for a miniature, and there might not be a compatible, ready-made bit. You're going to have to make it yourself, and it is my belief that the only thing standing in your way is a few helpful tips.

Like I mentioned in my previous article on tools: I don't consider myself a trained professional, just an experienced amateur. Thus, I'm going to be talking about the putties I use, but, unfortunately, I won't be able to tell you anything about super sculpey or milliput, procreate or brown stuff. But that's alright because it's my goal to convince you that all you really need for 98% of your sculpting projects are two reasonably cheap, readily available putties. This article will be a general overview with a few tips about how to have more control over your putty, but it got a little long, so I will be saving hands-on techniques for my next installment. Still, I hope you find this one helpful in getting you better acquainted with sculpting mediums.

UPDATE: I've just polished off the video versions of these tutorials, and you'll find the second video, all about putty, below. The video is best consumed as an illustration to this article, so I'd still recommend reviewing both. ENJOY!