Interview: Admin Tom (Thomas List)
It’s interview time! This week we’ve got probably the most requested interview so far. Thomas List (aka Admin Tom) is the creator of Tom’s Boring Mordheim Blog/Tom’s Boring Mordheim Forum. Obviously, he has been a very important person in the Mordheim community. On top of his incredibly influential forums blog/forums, he is a very talented painter. Lucky for us he decided to share some of his tricks in this interview!
What is your real name?
My real name is Admin Tom. But some people insist on calling me Thomas List for some reason…
Where are you from?
I was born in Vienna, Austria.
What is your occupation?
I am currently finishing my Master’s degree.
How long have you been interested in the tabletop hobby and how did you get into it?
I first came into contact with tabletop through Warhammer minis – like most people I think – at a friend’s house when I was around 13-14. Oddly enough, although he did a great paintjob, I thought very little of the whole thing and dismissed it as children’s toys. Only when another friend showed me he had these little fantasy soldiers too, did it really catch my attention. The idea of having my own little customizable army, being able to actually use it with rules and feeling utterly “in command” (from painting to gameplay) felt more and more like every little boy’s dream. So I went out and bought the WHFB 5th edition Wood Elf army book, a box of 8 plastic archers and a few pots of paint.
I have always been interested mainly in the “artistic” side of the hobby (being a mediocre tactician) and have enjoyed painting figures ever since. I did briefly put all things tabletop aside for a few years, due to work and have had a reawakening experience through Mordheim, which I rediscovered in 2006 and actively played with friends through 2007. That is when I picked up painting again, and have enjoyed doing just that in my spare time ever since.
What games do you play? What armies do you play in those games?
I currently do no gaming at all to be honest. I did have a rather intense Mordheim phase, but for the last years, none of my figurines has seen any in-game action, due to lack of time.
For WHFB, I own roughly 4000pts of Wood Elves, 2000pts Bretonia, 1500pts of Dark Elves and a silly amount of painted Orcs and Goblins, most of which are resting at the bottom of a big cardboard box, waiting to be rediscovered one day.
For WH40K, I own a more or less 2000pts Space Marines and a small Eldar force.
For Mordheim, I have Reiklander, Undead, Skaven, Orcs&Goblins, Witch Hunters and Chaos Dwarf warbands (the latter is for the unofficial Border Town Burning Supplement, entirely sculpted and cast by Dirk from DO Odd Miniatures).
For the Privateer Press game HORDES, I own a Circle Of Orboros army.
In addition I have a small Red Blok force for the Rackham game AT-43.
When and how did Tom’s Boring Mordheim Blog/Forum come about? What made you pick the name?
Tom’s Boring Mordheim Blog (TBMB) was created in 2006. I started it more or less as a joke, and as a way of sharing my latest painting with my friend who was living abroad at that time. I just liked the idea of documenting my progress, and it was good fun. In addition to that, there was very little to no Mordheim-related activity on the web, with virtually all Mordheim portals/sites being dead. So TBMB was also a way of dusting off this excellent game. At that time, I had a rather decent output rate (new posts once a week or so) and so progressively I started getting more and more comments from people who had stumbled upon TBMB and often the “comments” section under each post would start resembling a tiny exchange platform for ideas, inspiration, criticism, kudos etc…
So I decided to take the next logical step and see what would happen if I gave this vocal group of people (myself included) a proper outlet. And so I created Tom’s Boring Mordheim Forum (TBMF) in August 2007 as an experiment. It turned out that despite the online inactivity, the Mordheim community was far from dead, and talented and dedicated people started signing up from all around the world. We are to my knowledge the biggest (and nicest!) online Mordheim-dedicated community on the web, with roughly 700 members (and counting) and a good proportion of those contributing regularly.
About the name: When I first created TBMB, I felt like Mordheim was such a secluded niche, that no-one would ever be interested in my blog. In an act of self-irony, I decided to put blatantly into the title what I thought most people would think. And it made for a rather original title on top of that.
You have created one of the best forums around for Mordheim. When you started the blog/forums, were you expecting the community to turn out so well?
I did not expect that at all (see above). Quite to the contrary in fact! When I created TBMB, I thought no one would read it, save for a few friends and TBMF was an experiment at best. I was/am very happy to see the community is doing so well.
The Golden Tom competition seems to have been a hit in the past. Any plans for more contests like this?
Absolutely! I have been promising a Golden Tom 2009 for a while now. Unfortunately, I have not been able to keep my promise so far (it does take more work than one would think), but I am confident we will be able to have another competition like this in the future. Definitely something I want to do.
I have seen posts for a couple of small gatherings of forum members. Have you considered trying to have a large scale gathering… maybe a Tom’s Boring Mordheim Convention?
Yes. In fact I have had plans (and still harbor the dream) of having a huge (all right: “big”) event with 4+ gaming tables. The event would require a small (voluntary) entry fee, which would then go to some charity organization. I think tabletop gamers show so much enthusiasm and community spirit, that I believe it should be possible to use all this “kinetic energy” to do something we can all be proud of. Quality gaming for charity if you will. But that is something I cannot mount up alone, and so it will remain a dream… for now.
Do you have any rituals while modeling/painting such as listening to specific music?
I love to listen to audio books and diverse lectures/talks while I paint (for those interested I can recommend TED). If I cannot get my hands on any of these, I always listen to music. There is nothing worse than painting in silence.
What are some of your influences or where do you draw your inspiration from? Are there any books, movies, art, or other sources that have had an impact on your work? Whose work has had an impact on you and your projects?
My most powerful tool when looking for inspiration is doing a plain and simple Google Image search. Books, movies and diverse artwork are of course vital sources of inspiration. Which ones depends on the type of project, so I cannot really give an exhaustive list.
Some works that have had an impact on the way I try to make my miniatures look were (in no particular order, and omitting many): Braveheart (Movie), Robin Hood King of Thieves (Movie), John Howe – Myth & Magic (Book), Grzegorz Rosinski – Thorgal Series (Book), Jean-Luc Masbou – De Cape et de Crocs Series (Book), Victoria Lamb (Mini Painter)…
What is your favorite piece that you’ve done or what are you most proud of? What do you like about it?
That is very difficult question since I tend to like my latest piece best. After much internal struggling, I managed to come up with my top 7:
1. This guy is pink (!) and can potentially bludgeon people to death with a giant lolly… what more do you need?
2. This sculpt is just incredibly atmospheric and I love the 16th century look.
3. I converted this assassin for my Dark Elf Army entirely from left over Wood Elf bits. While the paintjob may be underwhelming I am really happy with the pose, and I think the simplistic colour scheme fits the purpose of the silent shadow-hidden killer perfectly. No single photo can capture the actual movement of the miniature, since it looks so different under every angle: that’s what I like about this one.
4. The Trebuchets are scratch built and roughly accurate size-wise. They cost me virtually nothing (save for many hours of work) and just look great in a fully deployed Bretonnian army.
5. Another scratch built miniature. This is a tree man I made from pieces of wood and plenty of putty. I like the dynamic pose and how the tree man seems to protect the vulnerable little elf with his arms and legs. It symbolizes the magic wood and its inhabitants fighting in perfect symbiosis. Poetic isn’t it?
6. I like these two wood elf spell-casters, because I think they are extremely simple yet effective sculpts. When you look at them, you immediately identify them as magical (floating!) and yet they lack all these annoying arcane symbols and skulls. They reflect the coolest form of magic (elemental) at its best. Subtle and devastating.
7. I am not normally a fan of 40K, but you just got to love your Dreads! This guy is the “old skool” metal Dreadnought model from the 1990s. There is just no comparison to the new plastic stuff. This particular model weighs as much as a hand grenade, and just looks bad-ass. In addition, it was painted and weathered in under 1 hour, making it one of the most effective colour schemes I have tried to date (and he fits the rest of my desert marines army).
What is your favorite piece that someone else has done? What do you like about it?
http://www.victorialamb.com/wugs/Joan%20gallery/pages/rsj.htm by Victoria Lamb. The whole scene is the moodiest I have ever seen and just looks like a Rembrandt painting transposed into Mordheim and come to life.
There are also TONS of fantastic pieces in our Gallery section over at TBMF, and picking one over another would just seem unfair. So head over there and have a look for yourself!
What is your favorite part of the hobby? Do you prefer working with terrain or miniatures?
My favourite part is painting. I do enjoy making terrain, but it’s rather messy, so out of comfort I choose miniatures.
What technique has given you the most trouble? Do you have any tips for someone else who might be struggling with it?
Painting black or white cloth is – in my humble opinion – the most difficult exercise for a beginner. Blacks can be solved by using very dark greys/browns and doing very few highlights, followed by a very sharp lighter grey only on the very highest points. Whites, depending on if you want them rather blue-ish or beige-ish are painted starting with either a grey-blue or a brown basecoat. In any case, I think a good trick is to start light and keep the layering “compact”. Meaning that you should only have very subtle shifts in colour as you progress. Here more than anywhere else, highlighting and shading should be used in an alternating manner. Just to clarify what I mean by that: highlighting is the process of applying successively lighter layers on top of each other, and shading is the opposite, i.e. filling recesses with progressively darker shades.
And thin your paints! Straight-from-the-pot almost never works.
Are there any areas that you’d like to improve on?
Many. Sculpting, terrain making and above all painting. You never stop learning.
What projects are you working on currently? What would be your dream project?
I am doing a pretty cool commission painting project at the moment. I also have the plan to finish all my currently unfinished miniatures form my own collection. After that, all I have to do is resist the temptation to increase my collection further… easier said than done 🙂
I do not really have a dream project, since I love every single one I choose to do 🙂 That’s why I pick particular minis up in the first place. Each one of them is like a tiny portal that lets me escape into another world for a few hours.
What tips, tricks, or advice can you share with us? Are there any special brands or materials that you use that other people might not know about?
I use mainly Vallejo acrylic paints. They are cheaper, contain 2ml more and come in handy flasks that never dry out.
Some GW paints are still better, like blood red or metallics, but in general, I can strongly recommend buying Vallejo.
If you do large scale drybrushing, add a drop of Vallejo Glaze medium to your paints. It acts as a retardant and allows you to cover more surface with the same mix.
Get a hobby knife, a hand drill and paper clips. Regular cutters just don’t compare when converting, and you can do almost any type of conversion with these 3 basic (cheap) tools.
I prefer to buy Gale Force Nine hobby glue or regular super glue from your supermarket rather than from GW. It is cheaper and has a better dispensing system.
If you have painted a tricky part (e.g. a face) on a miniature that you do not want to spoil with subsequent brushing or other messy techniques, or if you want to create chipping effects on vehicles, get Revell Color Stop for €3.50. It’s great.
GW Devlan Mud (or Vallejo Sepia Wash) is a great universal wash. It makes painting leathers and faces a lot easier. It may not be used for Golden Demon level painting, but let’s be reasonable for a second…
What other hobbies do you have outside of tabletop gaming?
I enjoy reading, playing music (I am not very good at it though), tennis and dancing.
Anything else about yourself that you care to share?
I wish I wouldn’t require sleep and the day had 72 hours.
Brilliant!!! Thanks for sharing. Very Inspiring.
what wood elf kits where used in the making of the dark elf assassin I would really like to know? thanks