Avatar

December 1st, 2013

I have finished painting my first TAG for the Combined Army – the Avatar. As the biggest and nastiest of the EI Aspects, I followed the same basic color scheme I used for the Charontid – shiny black with blue glowy stuff. Since I was working with such large areas and wanted to be able to get smooth gradients across them, I used the airbrush to paint much of this model. After a few tries, it was pretty easy to get the effects I wanted, and I will definitely be using this tool again on other large figures.

I decided to try another experiment, and the picture I took is an HDR image composited from several shots taken at several different exposure levels. It was a little work to get the tools set up, but it was a decent way to sidestep the usual problems with areas of shadow deep in the recesses of the model. Again, this is something I will probably be using again in the future. That said, this still isn’t a terribly great picture, and I’ll want to get another one with a proper backdrop and less glare.

From Infinity

Orange Crush 2013

December 1st, 2013

Sarah and I participated in Orange Crush this year. It’s an annual charity event in which gamers sign up to paint models from a Warmachine/Hordes army with a theme of the color orange. The armies are then raffled off with all proceeds going to hunger-related charity.

The army this year was the newly released Convergence of Cyriss, which features a lot of clockwork and Art Deco stylings. I painted the Clockwork Angels, and was able to finish them relatively quickly despite getting a late start on the project by using simple and efficient techniques. I’m pretty happy with how they turned out, though, and look forward to seeing the photos of the entire completed armies.

From Cryx

Painting Catch-Up

December 1st, 2013

I painted a couple of other models over the year (sometime in the May to July timeframe, I think) that I never got around to posting about.

First, there’s the Zerat Sniper. The original Zerat Hacker is one of my favorite models in the entire Infinity line. I rather enjoy the Sniper variant as well. I decided to paint this model because I had gotten worn out painting little blue glowy bits on the Ski├ívoro I was working on.

From Infinity
From Infinity

The other model I painted is the Spitfire Rasyat. I never actually finished his base, but the rest of the model is done and sealed. While I usually end up using the Boarding Shotgun version in-game, and have converted a model to have that weapon, I really enjoy the sense of motion that this guy has.

From Infinity
From Infinity

Next post will be another model I started painting over the summer, but didn’t finish until just a few days ago.

Seared Steaks

November 20th, 2013

On a whim, we picked up a couple of small filets at the grocery store, and I pan seared them for us. The last time I tried cooking steak this way, it ended up burned on the outside and raw on the inside, so I looked up a recipe this time. Turns out that my main mistake was that I didn’t fill the pan with a quarter cup of oil. I found a description of how to go about steak searing, and it included a more detailed recipe as well.

The basic method is simple, just heat the oil on high until it starts smoking, then cook the steaks, flipping and basting regularly until they’re about 5 degrees cooler than you want, and then rest them for a few minutes. The recipe also included details like salting the meat beforehand, and adding aromatics and butter to the oil. But really, the copious amounts of hot oil covering all sides of the meat are the important part.

The steak was delicious, and I’ll definitely be using this method again.

Crusty Bread (First Attempt)

November 5th, 2013

Misshapen crusty bread loaves

Misshapen crusty bread loaves

Emboldened by our recent home-cooking successes, I decided to try my hand at baking a yeast bread. Now, I’m a huge fan of down-to-earth old fashioned European crusty bread, so that’s what I set out to find. I ended up choosing this recipe, not really paying attention to how many steps it was and how long the preparation takes. This bread basically needs a day and a half of your time to make.

Pre-Ferment

The pre-ferment went pretty smoothly.

  • 1 lb. bread flour (3 1/2 cups)
  • 9.5 oz. water (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

I had all the ingredients, and this part went smoothly. I substituted active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, but some confusing and inconsistent internet searching eventually convinced me that I would be fine with equal or slightly generous measures. Basically you just combine all the ingredients in a bowl, and then let it sit overnight. I put it in the fridge the following morning, as I wasn’t going to be able to bake until the evening, and that’s what the recipe says to do if you go beyond 16 hours between stages.

Final Dough

This is where things got messy. Here are the ingredients for this part:

  • 10 oz. bread flour (2 1/2 cups)
  • 6 oz. whole wheat or rye flour or a mixture of them (around 1 1/2 cups)
  • 12.5 oz. water (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • all of the pre-ferment

It was after I was already grabbing ingredients and getting ready to go that I noticed that it called for a portion of whole-wheat flour. Lacking that, I just did a whole pounds of bread flour again. You are instructed to mix up all the ingredients except the pre-ferment, which I did. There were no comments about what the mixture was to look like, but I clearly used too much water. I carried on, however, not realizing that I had just made batter instead of dough.

The next step is to chop the pre-ferment into small pieces and use a mixer to knead the two doughs together. This is supposed to be a difficult process, which leaves visible streaks of color where the two doughs don’t combine fully. My over-saturated batter just swallowed the pre-ferment right up. When I was trying to transfer it to a bowl to rise again I was finally forced to concede that my dough was too wet and added more flour until it was more or less handleable.

The dough was then allowed to rise for another few hours, with a punch or two to control the air bubbles. I ended up letting it rise for an hour longer than I was supposed to, and I decided to skip the hour of resting after shaping the (still sticky) dough into loaves. So into the 450 degree oven they went! The recipe suggests that it should take around 30 minutes to bake, but I needed more like an hour before the center was done at 200 degrees.

Sliced crusty bread

Sliced crusty bread

The bread turned out weirdly misshapen and slightly chewy, but it is dense, crusty and delicious. I’ll call this a qualified success, and will probably go with a simpler recipe next time.