Sunday, 24 March 2019

From JamesM: This is not the end...

Hi folks,

My very own (rather insignificant) end of challenge lineup, with the obvious exception of the full LCT, as I only painted some crew figures for that.

I had set myself the rather moderate target of 750 points for this challenge, which I achieved and no more.

However I was happy enough at the progress made towards my ongoing project, so the challenge time has definitely been productive. Almost everything was 15mm scaled, other than a few 6mm vehicles at the start of the challenge.

The required shot of me at my painting station... complete with grotty painting t-shirt

And a quick shot of the 'also rans' - the stuff I has as in progress when I hit my target and all motivation left me:

Polish Stuarts, 40mm SP Bofors and the last of my Scottish Quads, all still on the paint desk!

Moving forward, I've more D-day themed models to paint this year, including some more DD Shermans and Sherman Crabs. I've bucketloads more stuff to do for Normandy, with purchase of more only just being restricted as this weekend I started the process of buying a house. This may mean 1 to 1 scale painting is in my future, but I'll keep on with the fun stuff until then!

Thanks to everyone else who took part, while I didn't get round to commenting much, the scope of the different projects everyone is doing is always impressive. Thanks especially to Lee for being the Tuesday Minion, and to the guys that joined in on the paint and chats!

From IainW: Post Challenge Wrap Up

Well that went fast! I've really enjoyed the challenge this year,I set out to paint some terrain and some light cavalry units and by the skin of my teeth I just about achieved it! I didn't reach my target this year but I only entered one bonus round and as I concentrated on the Italian wars to the exclusion of all else, that's not in retrospect a big surprise!

So that's all I've painted, plus me and then Toby and me! It's been fun, thank you Curt and well done to everyone involved in what is an impeccably good natured and supportive event, which isn't something universal on the internet let's face it!

All the best Iain

From GregB: Another Wrap-Up

That's a wrap for AHPC IX! A pile of stuff, my Jets jersey and my little buddy Joey - all of the key ingredients needed to keep painting!
Another edition of the Painting Challenge has flown by. As many have observed, the time does pass quickly, and as so many others have experienced, I always thought I would be able to finish many more figures than I managed the same time, I made some great progress in several areas of hobby interest, new and old.  My mountain of unpainted stuff has been chipped away, and the inspiration of others has been an excellent motivator! 

The finished pile...
Anyway, here is the obligatory wrap-up photo - my completed figures, sitting in the kitchen where I do my painting.  You can see all of the key things that support my painting obsession - my lamp, the jersey of my favourite hockey player, (Patrick Laine, #29 for the Winnipeg Jets) and my little buddy Joey (more on him below).  The only thing missing is my amazing and understanding wife Linda, who tolerates me setting up in the kitchen to paint for hours and hours - and who was kind enough to take this photo!

The Turcos are now prepared to defend France...
I think we all wished could have finished more stuff than we managed to - certainly I'm no exception there.  Like many of you, I had to deal with 1-to-1 scale matters in the background, particularly some demanding things with regard to work, and this slowed my painting production in this edition of the Challenge.  But I still managed to hit my target, which is what matters, right? Looking back on my paintbrush wanderings through the AHPC IX, I was very, very happy to get so many bits for my 28mm Franco-Prussian War collection finished - enough to finally host my first game of "Black Powder" using the figures, something that I am quite chuffed about.

10mm FPW in the foreground...after all, when you love a setting, do it in multiple scales!
I was also very happy to add another great big unit of 28mm Austrians to my Napoleonic collection.  Given the theme of this edition of the Challenge, I was very pleased to get it done - and to have been able to spend several hours working on the figures together with Curt while he and Sarah popped into Winnipeg for a visit. It is a fact that units and figures you paint with your friends perform better on the table.  I'm sure of it!

28mm Austrians tucked in front some units from the Iron Hands in GW's 30k setting...I bet they would love to have that dreadnought on hand to handle Napoleon's lackies...
On the sci-fi side of things, it's always fun to add to my collection of 30k bits - in particular, I finished a few of GW's new plastic Titans for the re-booted "Adeptus Titanicus", and now I have two complete maniples of the "god-engines" in my collection, a great basis for games with my friends, and a good basis on which to add more, naturally :)

Joey having a snooze one night while I was painting late in an evening during AHPC IX.
Now, back to the dog in the photo - that's Joey. Since the theme was "Fellowship", I thought it would only be right to include Joey in my wrap-up photo. He is my constant painting companion. When I'm painting at the kitchen table, Joey likes to stay close and keep an eye on things. So we got him a little doggie bed for the corner of the room. He can relax, snooze and ponder dog matters while I paint away into the wee hours of the morning. Painting is always fun, but its even more fun when you have a loyal little companion snoozing away beside you!

A few super heavy tanks for the 30k setting - and some Vostroyans in the background.
In the spirit of those who seem to think we need stats to interfere with painting, I thought I would provide a comprehensive analysis of my painting output in AHPC IX.

Scale breakdown of points total:
28mm: Most of it.
15mm: Some of it.
10mm: A bit of it.
6mm: A little bit.

Period/Setting breakdown of my points total:
Franco-Prussian War: Quite a bit of it.
Napoleonics: A notable amount.
Renaissance/Italian Wars: One figure...not sure what happened there?
Seven Years War: An amount to signify a fixation on Austrian things.
Lord of the Rings: Enough that it could have been more.
30k: A falling contribution indicating loss of focus.
40k: Some amount, pointing to the likelihood of what could have been more.
Arab-Isreali Wars: A token amount signalling a sudden diversion to something else. 

As you can see, careful statistical analysis really consumes a lot of my hobby time!

Thank you to all of the Challengers for your support and inspiration!  Every supportive comment helped keep the brushes moving, and I appreciate very much all who took time to share a thought or an acknowledgement, not always easy as there are so many submissions!

Tamsin, you never fail to support any of us, even as you paint enough to fill a museum, thanks so much for that. Alex, your tremendous output, and clever use of whatever material is on hand to create neat terrain features, is always inspiring.  It was great to see the tremendous efforts of Byron and MikeF, my friends here in Winnipeg.  Nick, your painting skills continue to blow everyone's minds! And a big "thank you" to JaimeM, I can't wait to see that dreadnought arrive here in Canada!

Thanks again to Curt for hosting the madness. It was so nice to see you and Sarah again this winter.  I hope you enjoy your pending trip abroad this spring, and I look forward to seeing you both again soon!

Congratulations and best wishes to all of the Challengers - I hope to be back with you again next winter.


Is it really over? Noel's Wrap-up

I owe Curt and his many minions, and Sarah, too, a bouquet of thanks for allowing me to take part this second time. Thanks, everyone, for all the work you've done for us and the enormous amount of goodwill that this annual exercise brings. I've enjoyed every minute of it.

It's been a wonderful, if somewhat exhausting, three months for me, with lots of benefits. I've made a huge improvement in my collection. I've painted something like 1500 figures in 3 months. I've created armies for Carthage, Rome, the Celts and Napoleonic Austria, and I've progressed twenty existing projects. I've been inspired by the work of many others, and am thinking about even more potential projects as a result (I've found Tamsin's Pulp work and Ken's Italian Wars army particularly stimulating). I've had my creativity tested, in the bonus challenges, and my ego boosted by some of the feedback I've received. I've felt accepted into a community of like-minded, similarly strange, people, most, if not all, of whom I'll probably never meet. I've learned some new techniques and approaches to our hobby, and I've been alerted to resources I wasn't aware of. And, as a person who sometimes finds his mental health perhaps a little fragile, I've found a great deal of pleasure and comfort in these activities.

This post is in two parts. First, a brief summary of what I managed to do. After the pix, there's a longish account of how I went about the Challenge. I wanted to add this because I feel the mechanics of my approach might be a bit different from the way some people go about it. I feel a bit guilty about my success, as a relative newbie, and I also wonder if there are aspects of how I've approached the Challenge which others might want to adopt or adapt for themselves. If none of this interests you, simply skip the last part of this post.

Here's (most) of what I managed to complete:

It was pretty difficult getting a photo of all this. I think there's around 1500 figures here, sitting on the desert boards I made, an area a little under 6' by 4'. There are a few pieces missing. I've storied the piece I was most proud of, my submission for the "Water Bonus theme", somewhere safe, and haven't been able to figure out where. There's a house missing, probably in the same place! And there are sixteen figures now on display in the local wargames shop.

You can't really see very much in this summative picture, and I don't think there's much point in my trying to describe the areas of the picture piece by piece. Here's three slightly more communicative images.

And here's the compulsory headshot:

My wife will tell you that that smirk is a frequent visitor to my face. In this instance, it's because I've just figured out how to set the timer on my camera, dash round the wargames table, and look like I know what I'm doing.

As it seems that some readers like stats, here's a few on my achievement:

How I Approached Challenge IX (this is long and rambling)

In my view, if you want to achieve a target, you need a plan - just as on the battlefield. (Always recognising, of course, that a plan is merely a framework, not a straitjacket). In Challenge VIII, I didn't really know what I'd let myself in for, but I threw myself into it and, in a rather haphazard way, found myself obsessed by this strange, compulsive three months of painting.

I knew it would be the same this year without a plan, so I made one. To start with, I tend to be obsessive about things I love, potentially to the exclusion of everything else. So I tried to ensure that there'd be the minimum number of real distractions for the three months of the Challenge (not entirely possible, of course, with Christmas and so on).

I feel a little guilt when others write of struggling with work and family commitments and so on. I'm very lucky in this respect. I retired a couple of years ago, so most of my time is my own. I've also a wife and family who are wonderfully indulgent to my hobby, and my family is entirely made up of nerds and geeks. This means that if I'm trimming sprues whilst the family is watching TV (they've learned to duck when errant detritus flies across the room), or there are trays of undercoated figures drying off in the kitchen or spread across the garden, they rarely turn a hair.

In my planning I set myself several targets. My declared target of 2500 points was one I felt comfortable with. But my actual target was to exceed the 4880 points I'd managed last year. So, in my head, the target was actually 5000 points. I also wanted to submit to each of the bonus rounds because I'd found they stimulated my imagination unpredictably and made me paint up figures I'd not otherwise have thought about.

I'd four or five key projects I wanted to progress decently, but I also wanted to hit as many different projects as I could. I know that each time I'm able to achieve a small part of some project, that will usually lead to more of the same, so being forced to start is usually an opportunity for rather more. So the Squirrel challenge was exactly what I was looking for.

In order to hit my high target, I approached the task in a pretty structured way, even compiling a spreadsheet (Miles would be pleased!) My initial plan was to start with 150 points, then build up by increasing that target by 40 points a week. Together with the bonus rounds, that would add up to more than 5000. I also know that I'm super-Squirrelish, so the plan had to suit my tendency to start new things before finishing the last one.

I broke down each planned weekly target against the projects I wanted to work on - the plan for the second week, for example, was 80 points of 28mm Romans plus at least 100 points of 15mm Austrian Naps. This hit the numbers, gave me some variety of work and progressed two of my key projects. Each week in the spreadsheet was sketched out like this.

Of course, this all fell apart in practice! In week 4, for example, I found I'd much more spare time than I'd anticipated, and I was excited by some Frostgrave figures, which weren't part of the plan at all. The result was a massive 415 points, rather more than the plan required. But that meant if I was adding 40 points a week, I was supposed to get 455 the following week - which I then failed to do. And, at that point, I realised my incremental plan worked fine on paper, but it was clear that getting anything more than 400 points a week was going to be almost impossible for me. At the same time, having hit 400 already, it was also clear was that if I could continue to manage that number each week, I'd still manage to reach 5000.

So I changed the plan. Instead of the incremental approach I'd begun with, I aimed for the same highish total each week. Hence the continued "paint bombs". I wanted these to be the norm, rather than the exception. To do this, I had to figure out which bits of all my various projects I might actually be motivated by, and which might not be too difficult to achieve. For example, I'd initially thought I'd paint up Sarissa's model of Hougoumont - a really exciting set of 12 models which my wife had kindly built for me (I told you I was lucky!) - but a careful calculation showed me that the amount of work it would take would not yield the points I wanted - essentially it's not cost-effective to paint smallish, complex buildings. The time they take isn't justified for the points they're worth. Whereas the one massive building I did submit was well worth the effort - 60 points for only a few hours work. If you want to generate points from terrain, large blocky terrain is the way to go - scatter terrain, small, complex pieces are unprofitable.

Of course, the Challenge is only partly about points. For me, that's a big thing, but I also wanted to make sure my key projects were also addressed. This meant that sometimes I chose to paint things merely for variety (Squirrel!) or for points, and other times because they were next on the agenda for a given project. The most important thing, though, was to keep motivated, by whatever means.

Then as the end came in sight, I hit 5000 points. And I began to dream. Was 6000 points perhaps possible? I still had a long list of figures and terrain I wanted to work on, more than enough to bring 1000 more points, if I could manage the work.

My 15mm SYW project had been on the agenda from the start, but I'd got bored with painting the 15mm Austrian Napoleonics. Similarly, I'd hoped to create my desert/coastal board from the start, but kept putting it off as it seemed a complicated task. With about ten days to go, I decided that I might be able to deliver 800 points in the remaining time if I could make big inroads into both these, as well as complete some of the many figures I'd begun but not finished. (In fact, when we did reach the end, I still had 5 pieces of terrain and about 50 figures that I'd begun to paint but which I'd had to put aside.)

For that last week, I pretty much did nothing other than work on the Challenge. My terrain boards were submitted about twelve hours before the deadline. In the final analysis, those 260 point weren't needed to hit the 6000 point target, but I couldn't be sure of that. And the final post of 634 points of SYW was sent around 2 o'clock in the morning, my time, I think about four hours before the deadline.

By having such a focus on getting points, I made some choices I might otherwise not have made. For example, I painted many of my Romans with (plausible) white robes rather than red, because I use a base flesh colour for white, and that same colour, washed with a flesh wash can give, well, flesh. This means that, apart from armour, the same base colour could be used for most of the figure. As we know, though, there's generally a trade-off between quality and quantity. A points-based plan nudges you towards accepting lower quality.

I'm fine with that for some figures: mass units of orcs, for example, seem a prime target for Army Painter washes. I'm happy with 15mm figures block painted, but feel 28mm demands rather more. However, I don't feel every colour on a 28mm figure needs the full three colour shading job - some work with only a base plus shade, or base plus highlight. So a big part of my approach was to choose colour schemes that weren't too difficult to apply.

Next time round, (if Curt is happy to include me again) I think I'll behave differently. I'll still want to do well, but I'm going to attend more to quality. I'll probably develop a different approach, perhaps focussing on command groups or vignettes to revel in the beauty of the object rather than the completeness of the spreadsheet.

Last Chance for Duels scores!

Challengers - I'm still missing inputs and updates from some of you.
I'll take them up to the end of Curt's Sunday and then I'm drawing a line under it.

Make sure you get the Glory and glittering prizes you've worked so hard for!

KenR : Challenge XI "The Italian Job"

Another Challenge is over, my third and definitely my most successful in terms of productivity, I aimed for 1750 and ended up with 2796 and another solid top ten finish. I was helped greatly by an injury at work, a proper "Blighty" wound, enough to keep me at home but not enough to stop me painting, result !

I didn't waste that spare time and cracked on with my Italian Wars project. This was always going to be the mainstay of this challenge, I just didn't quite realise how much I would get done. I think the Renaissance Side Duel is safe ­čśü

My personal side goal of 6 Cavalry a week was a real driver and it was great to complete this, ticking over the scoreboard kept me going.

The top picture shows the Army as it stands post challenge (there are 3 Units in there done before the start butI have a game ongoing on the table now so haven't had chance to take another shot). My personal favourite unit is the red and white liveried Papal Pike Block shown above. I have done a full run down of the Army including a video at,

Now you know you have painted too much when you can't get it all in one photo so here are the rest of my Challenge entries (minus some Italian Pre Dreadnoughts) who are now at their new home of my friends house). In fact I had to look back through my posts and had forgotten the Crusades Cavalry had been done in this Challenge.

So thanks very much for another great challenge Curt, I will be donating a few pounds to a local charity German Shepherd Dog Rescue in your honour. They nurse neglected and unwanted GSD back to heath and find them new homes. As a GSD owner all my life I have seen some dogs treated dreadfully especially in the "Security" industry and support the work to give these fantastic working dogs a better life.

Hopefully I will be one of the lucky entrants again next year, pop by Yarkshire Gamer and say hello ! Until next year, all the best. Ken.

From JohnM: AHPC IX Wrap Up

A photograph taken just 2 weeks ago showing a somewhat perplexed me as it is just starting to dawn on me that we had just played the 2 initial scenarios from the CoC Von Luck campaign and had totally screwed them up.
This frequently happens to me, especially when I have been working the night before and have had 4 hours of sleep. I believe I would be better off if I drank!
As requested here is a photo of myself, but unfortunately not posed in front of my collective contribution to the AHPC IX.

I will offer a long and complex explanation on why I have not done what I was supposed to have done (anyone who knows me though will appreciate that I have a long history of not doing what I am supposed to do).

First: I have a very specific post painting figure process. All figures once photographed are immediately covered in gloss polyurethane and left for a couple of months to harden and than have a matt polyurethane applied when it is nice outside.

Second: I can not photograph glossy figures as they look sort of sh___y.

Third: All the terrain and figures once polyurethaned get immediately packed away in specialised drawers and then placed in cabinets but unfortunately I am never really sure where they are as I have a lot of drawers and cabinets. I just can not find them again.

Fourth: I am going away for 3 weeks on Tuesday so my wife says I have to have everything packed away and tidy before we go away. So I am not allowed to retrieve what I have done even if I could find things.

Fifth: I hate photographing miniatures.

Sixth: I think the whole point of Curt's final request for this specific post is a cunning maneuver to reveal what we look like rather than to demonstrate our modelling or painting prowess.

Seventh: One, I suppose, could just conclude I am too lazy to do what is requested of me, but really if this was the case why would I spend so much time constructing such an elaborate series of reasons on why I have not done it...........................

From Barks: AHPC IX, targets down and patch out

Here we see a Barks in his natural habitat.

I had six goals for AHPC IX:

  • 15mm WW1 French
  • Mansions of Madness
  • Imperial Assault
  • Blackstone Fortress
  • 28mm Robin Hood
  • Enter all the bonus rounds

I'm glad to say that I got them all done, except the Robin Hood stuff. BlackPinkstone Fortress in particular took me much longer than expected, but was worth it. I had an unexpected last week reprieve with Red Alert finding its way from China to me before getting to the UK or US, which was a quick paintjob to polevault me beyond my target, yay!
Most, but not all, of my output

This was also my first Challenge as a Minion- there are terrifying things going on behind the scenes which we're not supposed to talk about, but apart from that it was great fun! Nine months to AHPC X!