Sunday, September 14, 2014

Make your Battle Photography in ART

I have been using this free app from Google called Snapseed to edit my game photos and make them more dramatic. The software was originally written by a company call NIK software, and they were the leader in filters in professional photography (my job) until Google bought them. The free app is a simplified version of the original hi end software, but it is amazing nonetheless and FAR outperforms Instagram or other competitors. The nice thing about Snapseed is that you don't need to be online to edit stuff and it doesn't downsize your file.

The filters lend itself really well to battle games photography like 40K and Bolt Action. Below I created some before and afters to get you all excited

It's hard to keep the store stuff out of images when you are playing. Doors, shelves, peoples hands and all that stuff gets in the way of a dramatic image. The image below looked good but I didn't like the die, so I cropped the image. Since the vantage point was a bit high, I imagined a drone or other remote camera taking this shot - i added a bunch of grain and blew out details.

Here's a good example of pesty shelves getting in the way. I darkened the top, which, surprisingly, made it look like the cathedral was on fire...even better!
Another battle scene. Notice my friend Glenn on the left top with his coke. Snapseed cannot remove things, so the coke can stayed in but by darkening and filtering, Glenn pretty much disappeared. I gave this a blueish cast and darkened it a lot. There are so many cool filters in this app, the sky is the limit. 

My buddy Christian needed to be removed and I wanted to give this image a rough, close combat look. Snapseed allows you to add textures, so the image become gritty and powerful and a horizontal crop did the rest.

Here I made the game table into a 40k waste zone with leaking oil pipes and stained surfaces. Snapseed let's you control contrast, shadow detail, color filters and much more.

Here's an image that I ran through the Grunge filter. It adds artifacts (you choose) and made it look brutal. Of course you have to find that fun perspective. In this case I used the perspective of the marine facing a massive chaos hellbrute.

Here's a squad of German soldiers in desert outfits for Bolt Action, SC John painted it up last week. You can see the store in the background. After fixing it the curves of the building almost look like some North African building. Cropping is crucial!

AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER TO DO THIS. You will need to be creative with your angles - all these images were shot on an iphone

Snapseed is available in the Itunes store and in Google Play. Hope this inspires!

SC Mike

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A (re) Start of Santa Cruz Warhammer! We are back!

Santa Cruz Warhammer is back! After a cooling period of a couple of years, SC John and myself are inspired again to share our modeling projects with all of your and inspire each other to keep at it. We have never lost the love for the hobby and we have painted up countless models in the interim, just not really shown them off to the wider world. 
We have revamped the blog layout a bit AND created a NEW LOGO and we have plenty ideas for the foreseeable future, like a 1000 point mirrorlist project for 40K, a recreation of the original 100 space marine chapters, with 100 marines being painted up, loads of terrain and basing tips and tutorials and many many more things.
We also have been lucky to have added two really talented modelers to the group: Pezman and Mike M. Below is a little bio with some work of both of them; really creative minds with loads of skills.

My love affair with toy soldiers began in the eighties when I was still very young.  One of my brothers came back from a sleepover at a friend's house with a box of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons figures from Grenadier. 
  The single mold, broccoli based miniatures immediately captured my imagination as they gave physical form to the heroes and creatures that had only existed as stories before. 

  As the years passed, my love of  toy soldiers wax and waned with the fads of the time. Until, in the very early 90's, a perfect storm of hobby swept me away and set me on a path which would capture my imagination forever.  A friend at school was reading a magazine in our home room class that had pictures of some orks carrying what looked to me some incredibly powerful guns.  Wait, orks with guns!? That was something I'd never seen before. The art and colors were vibrant and when I got a chance to flip through the magazine I was captivated by the incredible figurines I saw painted on those glossy pages.
  Also contained within was an advertisement for a game which blended my love of fantasy figures with my other love, American Football.  The magazine was of course White Dwarf, and the game was Blood Bowl.  I was hooked.  I was even more thrilled to find that this company was British which gave it an air of validity (Tolkien being British too… hey, I was 12), but at the same time disappointed to realize I wouldn't be seeing Blood Bowl in a local store anytime soon.  However, around that same time I was able to get my hands on a copy of Milton Bradley's Hero's Quest, and I feverishly set about learning the rules, myths, and images that surrounded these figures. 
 A year or two later I was able to get a copy of Blood Bowl which included a thin, light blue pamphlet titled "How to Paint Citadel Miniatures" (I still own it).  The instructions in that pamphlet inspired me to grab some of my mother's craft paints to see if I could imitate what I had seen in White Dwarf and the Hero's Quest box. 25 years later, I have multiple armies of painted figures painted for multiple game systems, and still get just as inspired by an amazing miniature sculpture of a hero or villain as I ever have.
  Over the years, I've had the good fortune to be inspired by some amazing hobbyists, and learned a lot of techniques; but at the heart of it I'm still trying to give life to the little toy soldiers which captured my imagination so long ago.

Mike M

My exposure to this hobby started with a copy of rogue trader. At the time my adolescent brain did not have the patience necessary to wade through that mess of a game, but I knew that I had discovered something special.
 After scraping together a collection of miniatures and several failed attempts at painting them, I put it all aside to pursue other (equally-dorky) hobbies; all the while continuing to consume 40k through less obtuse routes, like the novels and video games. 
Years later Al Gore invented the internet, and through exposure to hobby blogs and youtube tutorials I decided to give it another shot. It's been a rewarding hobby so far, though a busy schedule means that I'm able to sneak a few hours of painting in far more often than the time it takes to get actual tabletop games in. 

There you have it! John and I are super stoked to have added to really talented painters to the SCWH mix and all four of us are excited to inspire each other and you readers!

SC Mike

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fully Painted Traitor Guard for sale

I have decided to sell my custom built Traitor Guard (for IG rules) and hopefully find a good home for it. I have never played with them and the journey towards completion was more fun then playing games. Hundreds of hours and a lot of money went into this project and if someone is interested, please give me a respectful offer.

Here are the units:
Commanding officer plus Master of Ordnance (or whatever special guy you want him to be) 


Scratch built Heavy Weapons

As featured on Victoria Miniatures facebook page: captured good guys  made into penal squad with green stuff collars that blank their minds PLUS cool mech dog

Extensively modified Banewolf


Troops, total of 14 models like these, all kitbashed and individual, with two flamers like the one in the image

two sergeants

Custom built Storm Troopers or counts as another squad.

Counts as Vendetta

All the individual models have magnetic stickers to the bases, so they are easily transported.
The army is by no means complete and I always envisioned to be allied with Chaos Marines, of which I have a lot of painted models styled with the same swamp bases. But I haven;'t made up my mind letting go of those. I really want to find a good home for them!
For more on how all the builds went, click on the label Traitor Guard in the label list.

If you are interested, drop me a line my eemail   mike dot tess at charter

SC Mike

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bolt Action players sought!

If you live in the greater Bay Area and you play Bolt Action or would love to try it out, check out our facebook page Bolt Action Bay Area.

I have been playing this game now for about 8 months and I am totally in love with it. It is in a lot of ways similar to warhammer and 40K, but in a lot of ways it's very different. One thing that is eyecatching: it's much less complicated. And that is part of why I like it. My buddies and I can truly enjoy the flow of the game, the models on the table and basically hanging out with eachother, chatting about work, family or whatever without stressing (or arguing) about the rules.

grandpa (on the left)

Part of me starting Bolt Action, was the fact that my wife's grandma was WW2 veteran in the 10th mountain division and received two purple hearts and a bronze star for his service in Northern Italy in 1944-45. It led me to model my first army, the 92nd all black regiment that fought in Northern Italy.

1000 point army, enough for plenty of fun games!

The history behind Bolt Action, WW2, is so vast and there is always something new to learn, often you find that out when you are modeling a specific vehicle or unit. It makes it interesting knowing that all of this is real and not a made up world. It's also enjoyable to model you kits on actual vehicles, like the camo on this crusader,

which matches the real one:

British eighth army Crusader

Maybe it's my middle age man syndrome, but I am kind of totally over Games Workshop. I feel angry about the companies strategies over the last 4 years or so and I am convinced they have destroyed the playfullness and creativity of the game to make as much profit as possible. The pricing of new models is astounding.
Warlord, maker of Bolt Action, is an upstart compared to GW, and they display a more youthful exuberance about their product. The models are not cheap, but much cheaper then GW's models. Also, you don't need as many models in Bolt Action to have a good game.

If you interested in WW2 history and love to model creatively, play some mellow games and believe in the cinematic feel of this game, give it a try. AND if you live in the Bay Area, check out our new Bolt Action Bay Area page. The goal is to promote this game in our neck of the woods, get together and maybe organize a tournament or so.

We also have a blog: Santa Cruz Warhammer Historical, where we mix history with modeling. Become a follower!

SC Mike

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Nesbit Purple Heart Update

The Nesbit Purple Heart made it home to his daughter for Christmas, hit this link for the local news story and video.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

(UPDATED)Help Us Make a Holiday Miracle Come True: we did it!

Update: After only one day I am happy to report that the funds have been raised and this part of the project is complete! 

Thank you everyone!

Many of  the long time readers of this blog will remember our past fund raising projects. We took on some huge projects, with great teams and brought a bunch of great people together from our hobby world to work together and give back as a group. This year I have decided to kick it down a notch. No raffles, no weekly updates from teams of blog hobby superstars. This time I am simply going to ask our readers and friends to help us do something that we feel needs to be done.

This year I am asking for your help to make a holiday miracle happen.

This is Jackie Nesbit, he was a member of the 17th Airborne 466th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, he was killed in combat during Operation Varsity on March 24 1945.

This is a photo of Jackie and his wife Elizabeth Nesbit just before he was deployed to Europe. Jackie and Elizabeth had a daughter Patricia, she was born after Jackie left for the war, they never got to meet each other, she was one month old when he was killed in combat 

 Patricia as a young girl 

 This is Patricia now.

After the war Elizabeth remarried, and the family moved around a bit. Sometime during that period, the Purple Heart Medal that was sent home after Jackie's death was lost.

I came across some messages online in a militairy forum from Patricia's son in law, in which he was searching for the Purple Heart to return to Jackie Nesbit's daughter Patricia. He is ex Army, and so am I, we both understood the importance of returning this medal to his child, so I offered to help him.

The original named medal has been found in a private collection, and the owner has agreed to sell it for the amount he has invested in it.

Unfortunately these things are very collectible and command a high price. If it was 20 bucks I would just buy it and send it off to the family, who wouldn't? That's when I got to thinking, what's a few bucks to do the right thing? I know a bunch of people that would help pitch in a few bucks to make this right. I bet they all know a few friends too. 

This year I am asking all of you to pitch in and help return Jackie Nesbit's Purple Heart to his daughter and her family. 

You aren't going to win anything, I'm not going to grow a mustache, but maybe we can get together and make a holiday miracle happen for a little girl that never met her father and see to it that her family has something to remember him with.  

 Jackie Nesbit's remains were recovered from Holland and buried with honors at Arlington National Cemetery. 

If you would like to help us with this project, please use the button on the top right of this page and hit the drop down menu to select an amount to pitch in. If you want to help spread the word , please link to and share this page.

Thanks, and happy holidays.