Suddenly, Ninjas

datetime August 29, 2016 10:00 PM

Being as super-smart as I am, I have lots of ideas. Too many, in fact. Even eliminating the 30% unworkable, 20% uninteresting, and 20% probably-just-not-worth-it ideas that I have for various modeling projects, I still have to face the fact that my remaining pool of good ideas has to somehow fit into my practical production schedule. At any given time, I usually have at least 3-4 potential terrain projects, 10-15 sculpting projects, and 2-3 new army projects rattling around inside my skull, all of which I’m excited to someday find time to squeeze out into reality. It’s a difficult process to decide which of those projects are going to see fruition, and which will remain only as figments of my imagination for another year.

This is the main reason I say no to almost any project suggested to me by friends and associates. People come to me fairly regularly with suggestions for a conversion they think would look good, or a terrain project that they’d love to see, or a drawing they think would be funny. My answer is usually “no” before I’ve even heard the details, and is definitely “no” if they do manage to get through a full pitch. I say no partly because I just don’t like to set a precedent of being available for commissions, but also simply because I do not need anyone else’s ideas. Lack of ideas is not a problem I have. I do not sit around in a state of unmotivated boredom, wishing someone would inspire me with just the right idea. And I’m not alone in this. If I may quickly make a public service announcement on behalf of your talented betters:

Ideas have no value. Basically no creative person ever wants your ideas. We are very smart and talented (also handsome and charming), and have plenty of our own ideas already, which we think are better than your ideas. If you want your ideas to be executed, go figure out how to do so yourself, because we’re busy with our own stuff.

You can feel free to apply this on any scale you like. “Your artist friend doesn’t want to draw your joke idea”, all the way up to “your idea for a video game isn’t as original or revolutionary as you think it is”. Ideas are cheap, anyone can have one, and yours aren’t special.

One corollary that follows from having too many ideas is that I generally don’t need to steal them from other people; I can easily fill my time with nothing but my own brilliant creations. Despite that, though, outright theft remains tempting at times. I will often see someone else’s fantastic work, and feel inspired to produce something similar. I usually stop myself, of course. Even though this one idea seems like it would be a blast to work on, I will never be able to claim full credit for it, so it generally isn’t worth postponing one of my own original projects just to copy someone else’s brilliance.

However, there are exceptions.

Sometimes someone will casually mention some stray but brilliant thought that they never follow up on. These ideas are fair to YOINK and do something with, as long as proper attribution is given, because fleshing an idea out is still very enjoyable and innovative, and I can thus feel that I added something to the original thought with my massive creative brain. For example, The Avian Destor Thane I sculpted a few years ago and Sexy Sexy Yaum volunteered to paint. A dude named Snapshot Superhero posted a one-sentence random musing on a forum that Retribution cavalry would look good riding chocobos. And you know what? He was right. πŸ™‚

Other times, I feel that I can execute an idea better than its originator. I had seen at least three other sets of Tohaamon painted up before mine, but none that incorporated any real conversion work. Others undeniably had the idea first, but only the Potato could be entrusted to bring out said idea’s true idiotic potential.

Very rarely, though, I must admit that I steal ideas even when there is little to no room for me to give the project my own particular Spudtastic spin. Sometimes an idea is just good, and I can’t think of a way to make it any better, and I want to have my own copy of it anyway. I am usually able to suppress this urge, but sometimes I must concede that even my towering creative intellect cannot surpass that which already exists.

Such is the case today. In fact, today’s project goes one step further, as it takes a great idea and makes it worse. I have actively subtracted creativity from someone else’s concept.

To see what I’m talking about, let’s take a look at the models I painted up today: the Igao. Or as I like to refer to them, the Galaxy’s Worst Ninjas.

When the Igao were first previewed, Tohaa players flipped the hell out over how beautiful their brand-new Space Ninjas looked, and immediately started dreaming up possible ways that the concept might be translated in-game. When the rules were actually revealed, however, they were somewhat less elated. Igao are Camouflaged melee assassins, and Camouflaged melee assassins in Infinity generally follow a fairly standard pattern: they sneak up the board, reveal to kill an unprotected straggler, then duck into safety to quietly await another victim.

The Igao mostly follow that same pattern, but are blessed with an additional rule not possessed by any other stealth assassin: Frenzy. After the Worst Ninja in the Galaxy has successfully sprung upon an unwary back-field medic and reduced it to a loosely-organized stack of limbs, it becomes so blood-crazed that it immediately switches off its Camouflage systems for the rest of the game. Seriously, its stealth rules simply fall off. They can’t even take cover afterward! This is mind-blowing to me. For the remainder of the engagement, the previously-stealthy Igao runs erratically around the center of the enemy’s backfield, naked and screaming, until someone takes note of it and pops a lazy shot between its exposed nipples.

Or so I like to imagine.

This play pattern really amused me, so while the majority of Tohaa players prefer to treat the Igao as merely a pair of beautiful display models, I have incorporated them as a staple of my lists since I picked up the faction. When it came time to paint them, I wanted to try to reflect their strange behaviour on the model somehow. Making them actually naked would have required a lot of sculpting that I didn’t really want to allocate time for, so I tried to come up with some other way to contrast their rather bipolar stealthy/suicidal behaviours.

After some pondering, I decided that the best way to explain the Igao’s complete lack of camouflage would be to paint its uniform stark white from head to toe. Bright white may be an asset in a snowy environment, but it stands out like a light bulb in the green forested terrain that I was using to base my models. And why the hell would they dress like this if it confers such an obvious disadvantage?

Well, I reasoned, that’s obvious– they’re honourable warriors, and dressing all in white is one of their ancient traditions.

In other words, they’re morons! ~_~

I was quite satisfied with my basic rationalization, but as I started planning to paint them, it occurred to me how incredibly boring it would be to actually paint a model plain white all over. I wanted to break the costume up somehow without compromising its suicidal garishness. The solution to that problem occurred to me almost immediately when my brain recalled an image it had seen many years before:

This is a Tau Stealth Suit from 40k, which, like Infinity’s sneaky models, projects holographic camouflage over itself to blend into its environment. This particular one (whose creator I cannot locate– I found the image unattributed on some random Pinterest album) was done with a very simple, yet incredibly badass-looking visual effect: portrayed at the moment it decloaks to attack. Half the model is painted in the identical colours as the basing material, and the other half in the armour’s natural plating colour. And at the border between the two regions, a simple energy effect to hint at what’s going on.

I chose this particular example out of many options because it isn’t even painted all that well (the energy effect is flat blue and flat white, and the “camouflage” is a two-colour drybrush), but the effect is nonetheless flawless– you know exactly what it is when you look at it. It doesn’t NEED any fancy blending or eight stages of highlighting to get its point across– which is good, because I’m kind of terrible at that sort of thing. πŸ˜›

Which is why this next bit is going to be super short: there really isn’t much to show here. This effect is all planning and very little execution.

First off, I painted the models in my army’s normal off-white from head to ankles; I knew their feet would still be cloaked, but hadn’t figured out where the illusion would end for each one.

Next, I applied a solid coat of dark browny-green everywhere I wanted the camouflage to appear. I decided that the more aggressive female model would be almost entirely out of cloak since she was already in the process of swinging her weapon, while the more subdued male model would still be disguised over halfway up, as he was still taking the last few quiet steps toward his target.

Flat browny-green wasn’t going to be a good match for my basing material (Citadel Scorched Grass, if you’re wondering), however, so I used some existing models as a reference to mix up swatches of different paint colours that I could see among the particles of static grass in the mix. Mostly this included various tones of green, but there are also some bright red flecks here and there, so I matched all of it as closely as I could.

Before trying these swatches on my Terrible Ninjas, I grabbed a random test model from my desk and practiced applying short vertical strokes over its armour. This showed me that some of my colours were slightly off and needed slight correction, and also that I needed another highlight layer of straw yellow to match the lightest grass in my mix.

Once I was happy with the paints and the process, I applied the short strokes to my actual models, making sure to keep the grass texture oriented on the absolute vertical instead of letting it follow the angles of the models’ limbs (as normal camo-print cloth would).

Once that was done, I applied a quick energy effect at the transition point. I didn’t get a process shot of this step (you can see it below, though), but overall I have to say that this last part didn’t work particularly well– the Tau model above has dark armour and mid-tone camouflage, so the bright blue and white energy effect stands out perfectly. However, the white armour I had used gobbled up my attempt at a bright energy effect, so you can really only see it when you look closely.

It doesn’t ruin the models, but if you look at them and just see dudes in green pants, I can’t exactly blame you. :/

Also not helping was the texture of the armour; the Tau model I stole from has very flat armour plates, while the Igao are covered in bumpy, spiky bits all over their bodies, making it difficult to clearly convey an electrical effect, and even making it a bit difficult to really make out the grass ticks, as they sort of disappear in the overly-busy texture of the Igao’s outfits.

I do still like the models in the end, but I am not kidding myself into calling them “successful”.

They’re just… fine. They do the job.

*shrug*

And thus do the Fail Ninjas take their place among the very slowly-expanding ranks of Spud’s Extreme Tropical Splash Tohaa:

I’m going to be honest, I expected to be much further along in this army by now. I started painting these models in March, and figured that I could have a 300pt army painted up by the end of the summer. As it turns out, however, I can barely field 2/3 of that amount painted. I could justifiably blame the slow progress on any number of very real setbacks that occurred this year:

  • My local store closed in April, which scattered our Infinity group to the wind. We were leftΒ  scrambling to find a new venue that worked for everyone, which we still haven’t entirely done, and we’ve lost easily 3/4 of our players throughout the process. Not having a steady group to play with, and having to work much harder to get even those remaining scraps to actually show up anywhere to play, has sapped a lot of the enthusiasm I once had to make new models. Model-making has always been about new playable game pieces for me, so a sharp reduction in game time brings with it a corresponding sharp reduction in modeling motivation. πŸ™
  • Some unexpected personnel reductions at work significantly increased my workload, which results in me staying longer hours and coming home rather more tired. 2016 has featured a depressingly large number of days wherein I arrived home with 3-4 potential hours to build and paint, but felt so exhausted that I couldn’t even be bothered to start.
  • Some other bad stuff happened that just generally put a damper on my spirits– my old fat dog died, and there have been some downwardly-turning medical dramas going on within my close family. All in all, I join most of the world in telling 2016 to go eat a bag of dicks. :/

All of the above have made modeling less compelling for me, and I could very easily conclude that my reduced output for the last six months was a result of the emotional toll it all placed on me. And sure, that’s definitely a part of it.

But that isn’t the whole story.

There’s another reason I’ve gotten so little done since March, and if I’m being entirely honest with all three people who read this far down, this other thing is way, WAY more to blame.

Also, way less likely to earn your sympathy.

 

 

 

 

I’ve almost got them all, you guys!

-Spud

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