Friday, April 30, 2021

Hobby Basics: Light Box

One of my purchases in 2021 so far is a small, foldable "light box." After my struggles photographing the Goreblights, I ordered this, figured this would help my photography for the blog. You can DIY one for cheap, but having virtually none of the materials on hand (no extra lights or lamps, no neat paper..), and no great space to setup/store a large light box permanently I opted for the easy way out and just bought one ready-made. 

For those that don't know... the light box can be a great photography tool, emulating the effects of a large set or photo shoot on a small scale. The box has a smooth backdrop for simple backgrounds, and enough lights to both illuminate the object and mitigate shadows from the shot. My photos for the blog here have been less than professional, and have been atop bookcases and countertops and illuminated by lamps. Generally, you'd get what I was going for, but they don't look all that impressive.

With no real hope of any in-person stuff the last year-plus, it's been hard to find any motivation to hobby, and the content here has stalled out, as you will have noticed. But I'm now on the list for a vaccine shot in the coming weeks, and friends are starting to look to the summer for games and potential get-togethers. That generally positive mental shift, plus some recent good weather got me to dig this light box out and do some hobbying for the first time in a loooong time in an attempt to try it out properly. Cuz retaking a picture of already completed hobby items is for chumps I guess.

Not what you were expecting, though, eh?

Over the pandemic, I got reacquainted with Ebay. I had used it as a kid to get some sweet sweet Magic The Gathering cards (ooo, Urza's Saga, how broken you were...), but I think that was the last I used the platform, prior to the pandemic. I mean, I browsed back in my WHFB days, knowing that "ebay armies" was a thing, but never found anything worth pouncing on. Anywho, I took to Ebay, and found some new Necrons. 

I used Necron conversions as Warforged for a lengthy D&D campaign set in Eberron. They were going to be the big bads of the overall campaign, and after setting the hooks literally years prior, the party had just started to uncover the sinister plans of the Perpetual Legion, and their insidious ties to many of the previous adventures. Flying in their battered airship over an inhospitable wasteland, the last session we ran saw the party discover a hidden city for the Legion, which stood up on the legs of hundreds of industrial automaton platforms as the party's airship approached... aaand then the campaign then ran into irreconcilable scheduling differences. 

Scheduling likely won't be any better for that campaign yet (pesky children), but the talk of potential post-lockdown fun got me wondering what kit-bashes I might be able to throw at these players in due time, and wondering what the Necron range might have added since circa 2015-2018.

They are really making you work for an kind of unique looking army... the head pieces in particular are insane to me... so much over-engineering at work here. All the bits had odd-shaped nubs too, making it very hard to mix-and-match. Great for mono-pose (no mistakes), bad for unique hobbying. 

Unfortunately, the kit-bashing was not meant to be! The Destroyers are designed as mono-pose, and ridiculously so! Heads connected to collarbones connected to arms. And the torsos had a nub sliding through everything in order to connect it to/through the leg/spine bits... I'm not even sure if you could even swap the legs between models (that is, assembled trio with a different assembled trio; individual leg swaps should be out since the mini utilizes the hex nubs to get into the base). Basically a year away from any serious hobbying... conversions on this scale was more work than I wanted to engage in. The models are impressive, but are kinda too cute by half? The same poses could have easily been achieved with more of a "classic" design (eg here are the arms, separate from the heads, and torsos, also by themselves). The pelvis had pistons with nubs supposed to fit into the other leg part... but the piston made it hard to push-fit the legs together without busting the piston. Neat poses, but over-complicated design than I am not a fan of.

In the end though, I decided to double down, buying up some kind of Lord model and another trio of slashy Destroyers. I needed a limited project, and despite the flaws, these had caught my attention. 

So, I took a day, and set about hobbying, with the intent to start slow and reinforce some good layering and thinning habits (multiple layers for the metal to get good coverage; sliding scale to white for the face plates; just ... playing around with the blades)... The minis were a nice way to spend a day. They could still use some work (highlights to the metal, washes in spots, that kind of thing), but I'll wrap those details up in the coming days. 

I don't know when they will ever see a gaming table. Perhaps one or two may indeed threaten an adventuring party at some point (hmm... mental note to work up stats for some warforged driders), but the whole crew is likely overkill. I am entirely uninterested in playing 40k, though Grimdark Future from OnePageRules is still something I would be keen on trying out at some point, and these guys could be a heckuva cool unit to field.. We'll see. Even if they are not used for gaming, they did exactly what I needed them to, and were a nice, limited unit to hobby up.

...And because I am a bit of a chump, I decided to dig out my Goreblights from storage for a quick photoshoot do-over. Can't have a post with just weird-lookin robots, right?

Ta-da! First try. No longer blurry.

Will need to play around more with positioning of the minis relative to the light, but yeah, pretty good! You even get to see some of the nice glisten effect going on. Wet undead are gross!

Overall, the light box is neat! It folds up for easier storage, and is secured by buttons when assembled. It comes with a few different fabric colors for the curved backdrop. My only concern real concern is the light apparatus... which is a naked strip with a usb port to power it. I envision that getting dusty or something eventually, but we'll see how I do there! The other concern may be the size of the box... fitting in hordes may be difficult. They'll definitely fit, but it might not be the best shots. Ideally, you would not see the sides of the box, like you do in all these pictures!

Also at play is a new phone camera! My previous phone belly-flopped onto the hard kitchen floor, over the winter, obliterating the screen. The new-to-me phone is still a few iterations behind the times, but should be a step up or two in camera quality. I'll need to play around more for sure with the new phone and light box, but the first shots here seem like improvements to me!

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