Friday, September 25, 2009

Messengers of Death

An assassin might be a poseur who can kill well, but a Messenger of Death truly is a force of nature. Very few people know where they come from, why they do what they do, how they do what they do and where they go to. All that is certain is that a Messenger of Death is extremely effective at killing those they have been told to kill. In fact, they don’t always kill their targets, because the mere promise that a Messenger of Death is on your trail can send some individuals into taking their own lives. Unless that is also caused by a Messenger and made to look like suicide.

Today I'll get all cloak and dagger-y on you guys. These Messengers of Death as they are called in Gierburg, are elite assassins. And more. Those guys are maybe my favourite characters, so I am happy to present them to you today.

Gierburg's Messengers of Death are represented by the Assassins from Freebooter Miniatures.

According to the Gierburg backgroud, Messengers of Death traditionally wear "blood red masks".

A Messenger infiltrates the Burgomeister's Mansion:

I did a subtle "dust" effect on the Messenger of Death's cloak to underline his outdoor activities. I imagine these assassins to be masters of infiltration and escape, darting accross rooftops, climbing walls at unlikely angles, blending into crowds (or shadows) etc... getting through such a hit and run mission is unlikely to leave clothing immaculate.

Also Gierburg has some pretty filthy back-alley (ideal infil/exfil routes) favoured by Messengers of Death for the cover they provide. So again, I felt a slightly dirty cloak would emphasize this. Slightly dirty, because ideally a Messenger of Death should be able to remove his mask and look like an ordinary civilian if needed.

See you next time!
- Tom

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Citizens of Gierburg: Mr. Smith

Hey guys!

Today it's another civilian's turn: Garolph, the Blacksmith from Guild of Harmony. This is simply a magnificent miniature (and I mean the sculpt). It was a real pleasure to paint, as it is incredibly detailed yet logical and well proportioned. So it paints rather easily despite it's richness of detail.

Enough talk, here are the pics.

I wanted to keep the miniature as "brown" as possible to reflect the heavy protective leather clothing that I image a smith would wear. I also could not resist giving the metal rod an incandescant effect (although I have already used this on the torturer), because a smith's miniature just screams for such a detail.

Garolph in front of his workplace, the blacksmith's forge:

As usual, I hope you like it.
Cheers and see you next time,


Monday, September 14, 2009

Warhammer Blacksmith's Forge

My latest building for Gierburg is the Blacksmith's Forge from Forge World. I already posted the Warhammer Well and the Bloomery, and this is the last Forge World piece for now.1

  • Main Building
  • 2 Roof sections
  • Chimney
  • 5 sets of 2 shutters each
  • Set of 2 main doors

First impression
My first impression was that the building was smaller than I expected. It's not that small actually, the windows e.g. have the right height/position for a 28-30mm miniature. However, the door/gate looks rather small with a miniature in front of it.

Still, it is a great piece with astounding detail. I was very impressived with the wood structure, the detailed stones and the additional bits like barrels and wheels. The interior detail with the barrels, furnace and bellows is amazing. Also, there are no air bubbles in the resin. The quality of the piece is absolutely top level. There is nothing broken (as with the Bloomery) and there is very little flesh.

Apart from the disappointing size the only downside is that the base is a bit too big and thick and it requires some filing.

Second impression
I found a thin mold line on the chimney while cleaning the model, but that could be removed very easily. The quality really is great. However, there is one problem with the design: The two roof sections don't fit together so well, leaving a huge gap on the front wall. I tried washing the parts with warm water to bend them better but that didn't help. I was wondering for some time what to do with them until I finally decided to just glue the roof together and live with it.

I didn't glue the chimney on the model as otherwise I would have problems removing the roof. So the chimney is just put in there and can make place when necessary.

I added a sign from Thomarillion to the front above the door. I think it really adds a lot to the overall look.

The Painted Forge
Painting the forge was rather painless and done similarly to the Warhammer Stable. After the Governor's Mansion, which required a lot of additional work, it was refreshing to just paint a building.

1Unfortunately this building is currently out of production and not available in Forge World's online store (March 30th, 2010). Let's hope it returns soon!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Writings on the Wall: Gierburg Posters

Something I have been wanting to do for a long time is add posters to the walls and buildings of Gierburg. What really inspired me and eventually made me do this is Grimm's fantastic Cthulhu board that he made for the 2009 Tactica convention. His photos of the walls with posters are simply amazing. They are so full of character and atmosphere that I had to try this myself.

Luckily the background and fluff for Gierburg is filled with great themes for all sorts of posters so I immediately had a couple of ideas. For the first poster I went with one of my favourite themes: the Jesters. One of the poor fellows would have gone so crazy that he is a danger to the citizens and now the City Guards are looking for him. I wanted to do a somewhat traditional Wild West style 'Wanted' poster with the mugshot of a Jester on it.

I sketched a Jester's head with a pencil then inked it with a black pen. I hadn't done any serious drawing since I left school (so actually I have never done any serious drawing - ever), so I had to experiment a little with the lines. Fortunately I didn't want to achieve anything complicated, and I think the result turned out okay.

Then I scanned the drawing and vectorized the image using inkscape, a free vector graphics editor application. I can highly recommend that software. You can easily vectorize images with a few clicks and this feature alone is worth downloading and installing the programme. Vectorization results in a certain style that is somewhat similar to a filter in photoshop - with the additional benefit of vectors, i.e. the image being scalable.
Knowing that the posters would be pretty small eventually in 30mm scale I went with inkscape because I wanted to save the final image as a PDF so that the quality wouldn't suffer when decreasing the size. An apropriatly high resolution JPEG would have been as good, but if the image is a vector grpahic, then you can more easily experiment with the size.
At first, however, the vectorization mainly helped to improve the quality of the scanned (and slightly blurred) lines:

Left: Scan of original drawing. Right: Vector graphic

The vectorized head was then copied into Photoshop (yes, this way the vector information is lost, but that is not a problem). There I layouted the poster, added a background and text, added "colours" (levels of grey) to the head. The result was this:

The 'Wanted' poster

I then got the idea that it would be cool to have a second poster to sort of add depth to the little story of our crazy Jester. A circus poster announcing the show that stars the Jester who would later be hunted for his mindless crimes. This time the poster had to be more fancy - it was meant to attract the audiance after all - so this one was done in full colour. The photoshop version looked like this:

The 'Showtime' poster

When it came to creating the final posters I opened the images (saved as PNGs) in inkscape and vectorized them. Below you can see the Showtime poster as a vector graphic:

The vectorized poster

This was done with both posters and I actually did three more: "The Masquerade" (a play by the Gierburg Theatre), "Gierburg Needs You" (an "I Want You" derivation asking the reader to join the City Guard), and a rabble-rousing anti-Syr poster, discriminating the poor gypsies. The Syr one was done "quick & dirty" as I just searched the internet for a photo of a goat head. The others were done the same way as the Jester posters: drawing, inking, scanning, vectorizing, adding coloured layers in Photoshop and finally vectorizing the entire poster.

All the vectorized images were saved in one file, exported as a PDF for printing (saving as a PDF preserves the vector information). It is obviously important to print the posters with a good printer. The quality of the one I have at home e.g. was not sufficient. If you don't have access to a proper printer, I suggest looking for a print store or something like that. It is really worth it as in this scale and when printing full colour the difference really shows.

For cutting the posters out I used a cutting knife and a ruler. This works way better than scissors - even for edges this short.

Afraid of ruining my scenery I opted for sticky tape instead of the usual superglue to tag the posters to the walls.

The last step was painting highly watered down greys and browns on the posters to imply some weathering. You have already seen a sneak peek of the posters in Tom's recent post about the Gierburg Jesters:

Here is a close up on the posters:

The loony jester Ferdinand in front of his Wanted posters

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Hokee pokee... The Jesters

As bright a patch of sunlight on the streets of Gierburg as the Jesters are supposed to be, in too many ways they are the obvious symbol for the city – bright and gaudy from a distance, cold, mad, dishevelled stinking bastards up close, with all the humour of a six-week old corpse. Your average citizen shies away from a Jester in alarm or points one out to their children to stay away from.

Jesters have a special role in Gierburg. They are an important part of the background, but also relevant as miniatures in the game. Therefore, Jesters are iconic miniatures of the Gierburg universe and in this post I would like to show two of them.

The first Jester is the Omoklon, Twisted Jester miniature from Guild of Harmony. In Gierburg Cianty will be using him as "Til" to spread terror.

This is actually a superb miniature and I enjoyed painting it a lot. There is not much to say I guess, other than I tried not to make him look like the McDonald's clown, to which I came dangerously close at one point due to the red and yellow colour scheme. But I think I saved the day by introducing a brown leather jacket and the dagger and twisted facial expression also did their part. I am also quite happy with the shadow on his right calf, which turned out rather nicely I think.

The second jester is an old Games Workshop model for Warhammer from the Bretonnian Collector's range.

Now "unfortunately" this guy originally looks pretty jovial. Not exactly spot on for the "scray clown" that he is supposed to represent. So I tried to give him something that would betray (or failing that at least hint at) his twisted nature. So I painted his hobbyhorse as coldly as possible, trying to give it a worn and decaying look. Hence the brittle wood and the verdegris covered copper mane. This thing looks all but a toy... more like something he pulled out of the sewers and developed schizophrenic relationship to.

Also I think the pose comes in quite handy. This guy's next move could very well be to bash somebody's head in with that stick of his. Who knows what's in that bag?

See you next time!
take care,

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