Last of the ghouls in this batch

This guy is kind of a hard one: started well, but I completely forgot to work with the zenithal and ended up washing and overpainting the models once I had done them with clean, solid colours to darken them down.
I think it’s looking well though.

We got away for the week, very relaxing. Ireland going back into lockdown. Looking forward to starting the new job shortly.

Goya

So having read the Goya, Bruegel and Bosche art books, I feel like I have some more insights on colour and shape. Particularly Goya, who is such a prolific painter and engraver. He experimented constantly until he died and is more than merely his grotesque and intense art. While it’s not very “grimdark”, I was especially struck by this portrait by Goya and his black/grey/terracotta/white transitions. Using this as a reference, I painted what might be one of my best models.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4381/36692514200_1e6c334dd1_b.jpg
A once human winged monster released from his guilt, his capriote of shame now a pterodactyl-like skull. Made some errors in sculpting the hood, wasn’t sure if it was cloth or bone or flesh. So painting it was hard. Decided to wetblend what I had on my palette and then glaze it on. The shadows are more effectively applied here in thinned black paint.
The wings are a thinned magenta over the white of the zenithal spray. This didn’t require a highlight. It looks so alive I think!
His back.
I modelled genitalia and matted asscrack hair on the model, seems to be a thing of mine now. “As above, so below”
As the same time, I was working on this zombie dragon and rider. The dragon was 95% painted with airbrush, tried to get some nice transitions in the wings between the cyan and magenta. The offwhite bone is desaturated enough to not overpower the others in the triadic colour scheme, but I felt the sepia wash was necessary to tie the bone together. I am less pleased with the rider, but I think more metallic colours on him will help some of the focus be drawn to him. I am seeing more and more the benefit of a “sketching” style and more controlled highlights.
From the rear. A gigantic model and going to be a nightmare to store.

We got our garden patio laid with limestone slabs and dry walling, this has expanded the house a good bit and removed the pools of water would hang around in the garden as the drainage is improved. Hoping we can entertain more outdoors, as it appears Ireland is heading into another period of restrictions, especially the capital. I am finished my previous job and have done nothing but read and recover the last week, which has been nice. Slowly adding in some light resistance work and not feeling too much pain. Still fighting fatigue.

Confessions of a Mask

I recently started wearing a sleeping mask at night to cope with the early sunrises. I’m also wearing a mask when I’m at the shops or a crowded place, and then I’m wearing a mask when I’m airbrushing. Getting sick of masks! Healthwise, getting fitter again and able to walk 7KM in consecutive days. Almost 6 months in to when we I think I first got COVID-19. I can do 4 pullups without pain now, and I can tolerate walking up a small hill. Had a return of some heart palpitations and stuff over the weekend which has been coming and going. Under a fair bit of stress as I’m finishing up in my current job, still trying to take it easy as much as possible. Some art books on Bosch, Bruegel and Goya arrived, reading through those and trying to paint more from reference. Also got a small folding lightbox for taking pictures of miniatures.

These are loosely inspired by some of Goya’s black paintings and Bruegel’s demons. Painted mostly with glazes of colour, they took more mental effort than usual to get the light and shadow right. I think they look good. A different style to what I usually paint, more monochrome, something I’d tried to paint last summer. The blacklining in the deeper shadows is what made these have the strong contrast.
Joining them is a hero I converted – he is usually jumping off the back of a zombie dragon which will be below. I think the blood effect and blacklining elevates this guy into something more nightmarish.
Not a hard model to paint, quite striking in person. But hard to focus on with a phone camera.
I really want to use my airbrush more, it’s such a great tool and it breaks me out of my basecoat>shade>highlight mindset and instead gets me thinking about lighting, shadows and blending. These ruins were mostly painted with the airbrush, apart from some brown spattering. It only took me about 2 hours total, including the cleaning of the airbrush!
Last up, I have a zombie dragon who is too big to get a decent photo of. He’s been painted entirely with an airbrush so far, and I am glazing the teal over the magenta and vice versa to darken the colours and create transitions. I’m now picking out some of the bones with off-white and my paintbrush. My references for him a is few Dark Souls enemies, and a collection of bruises.

All in all, I have had a tough few weeks between the pain of recovery and the uncertainty around the rest of my life and career. I am trying to get some counselling for the trauma of being so ill, which I feel will help my physical recovery. It’s going to be months before I can return to vigorous exercise or even some daily tasks like mowing the grass. But there are good signs of improvement: a new job, an easier living situation, works on the house to make it more comfortable and improved fitness. It’s too early to say I’ve turned a corner on COVID-19 and the cardiac complications, but here’s hoping. So mask the fuck up!

Health gainz, painting gainz and job gainz

Some good news in these last 3 weeks per the post title. I’m slowly but surely recovering from pericarditis and COVID-19. I was able to do 2 pullups without much heart pain on the weekend, but 3 pullups definitely gives me pain. I am slowly adding in some bodyweight exercises like box squats, and I can walk on the flat for about 20 minutes without a break, and I can walk about 5KM a day before I need a long rest. Inclines and stairs are still a challenge, but it’s getting easier.

Workwise, I am still working part time, but after passing the CISSP I had a lot of interest from recruiters, and interviewed for a security/infrastructure role. They offered me a role with a 25% pay increase, more holiday and more remote work, and I decided to take it. As much as I enjoyed the physical work in my current job and the free gym, it’s going to be a while before I can rack servers, squat heavy or run cabling solo. So this new job is a good move I hope. Our tenant will also be moving out soon, so we are turning our spare room into a study and home gym. Might be a while before we can source a barbell and power rack, equipment seems very hard to buy. The Falcon has taken the time to get leaner and more jacked, so I think I’m starting to get wifemogged. I think I have avoided real bad atrophy, and my strength still seems to be there if the pullups are to be believed.

Painting has been quite fruitful in the last 2 weeks. I did more study on classical painting techniques to add volume on my miniatures. While technically they are “3D”, the surfaces are so small they don’t always catch shadows. Another miniature painter I follow said the layering techniques are stuck in pre-15th century art, and more modern techniques use blending and oils. So maybe it’s time to push my painting further.

An Inquisitor attached to my Adeptus Mechanicus force. I tried to give a regal, determined look in the pose and painting. The regal purple and gold, along with the strong blues sell her personality. The fade up from the terracotta lower third to the cleaner colours above give her a “above the influence” look.
I blended the robes up to white more on this model than I usually would, tried to add more volume to the folds in the cloak.
Adding a few more details on the side with the tubing and sensors hanging beneath the robe, so the model looked interesting as it moves around the table,
In a similar view, this Archmagos model tries to tell a story of a a man-machine on a long journey for knowledge. His robes and armour are dirty and worn, and he journeys through broken machinery. But his tubes and pipes glow with power, directing the viewer to the face beneath the hood, where a shining eye looks to the horizon, seeking more.
A reverse angle on the miniature. Like the brass here, the robes were a good test for the model above. The small white symbols on the robes also break up the flat surface, and tie into the tiny amount of pale flesh on the model.
A vampire flag bearer, without the flag. Somebody cruel, ancient and steadfast. Mostly a speedpaint on this, but happy with the magenta/teal contrast.
My highlights are still pretty thick and chunky, would like to refine that further.
Undead dwarf with a missing shield (need to get something appropriate).

Hope everyone is all good throughout this.

The long haul, 3D printed pieces and skeletons

My heart is slowly getting better and my energy is improving. I can now play classic Mario games without pain for about 30 minutes. Back to work on half time, but still feel like I can’t go back full time yet. Still pretty tired, cruising on 50% energy and trying not to drop below that. Able to pace myself to get more housework done and take short walks. Seen some friends and could walk around for 10-15 minutes. Also able to do mildly stressful stuff without feeling like I’m getting punched in the chest. That target of 6-12 months recovery time seems more accurate every week. Nevertheless I am trying to keep enjoying my life. While these symptoms have been unpleasant, I have been blessed with wonderful friends and family who have made this much easier.

Satisfied with these, kept the palette quite small, and highlighted up to off white on the skeletons. Used the zenithal technique for the black/white values, and also muddied up the models with earth texture before painting them to give them that freshly risen look.
The banner was converted from a small piece of plastic pipe. These are mostly stock, again muddied up with texture paint, heather roots and copper wire. I decided against adding magenta on these, maybe I should reserve magenta for more elite units. The basing scheme really sells these, with the terracotta providing a strong contrast to the turquoise.
A banner mounted on an old bike spoke. I used this as a test for the colour scheme. I dropped the magenta wash in the recesses, and added more terracotta on the bases when I did the unit. Should clip more spokes off old bikes when I see them, they are great for modelling!
Some 6mm terrain for Epic/Adeptus Titanicus I made out of scraps. Trying to give the feeling of scale my smaller stuff lacks.
Some 3D printed stuff I painted with the airbrush. The plastic layers are about .2mm high and painted easily enough once they were primed. The mask is “solid” with a 20% infill, and has a hole in the back for a nail to hang it on a wall. I primed it grey, then painted the cracks and eyes black. I then airbrushed a warm grey over the mask at the zenith, then drybrushed it with the same warm grey.
Here’s the raw unpainted pieces. The sign took about an hour to make, while the mask took 5 hours.

I have a feeling it’s going to be a tough winter, so trying to get as much sun as I can now. Cases are beginning to pick up in Ireland, and I think it’s starting to rise everywhere else. Stay safe out there, you never know how bad it’s going to be.

120 days – STALKER: Mists of Mosney LARP, back to work

Was doing good up until Sunday, woke up 4/10 pain again with palpitations all day and running on fumes. Obviously had pushed myself in the week before: 30 mins of walking, going for lunch and then seeing my nan was too much.

A friend had a socially distanced birthday where one wise person wore the British S10 NBC respirator and drank through a canteen to avoid catching the germ. Everyone else wore paper masks. Funny enough, everyone there was a player in my STALKER: Mists of Mosney game, so it was like a LARP. Actually not weird at all, nearly preferred it having the masks due to autism and not needing to read faces. Laughed a lot, wasn’t in pain at the time, but it caught up with me Sunday. Spent the day in bed, trying to get my energy back.

Going from like 10% battery to 40~50% battery since then, trying to note what makes it worse (doorbell rings and you have to hustle to answer it, stress, drinking, hard banging, squashing down bins). Also back in work, going be working a half week for the next while. Nice to be back doing something, there’s only so many videogames you can play.

Doing log aggregation training now for Splunk, figure it’s good CPE credits for CISSP and worth knowing for security roles. Have redrafted my CV for security roles, really want to get more remote work to avoid having to re-arrange desks on management whims depending on how dangerous they feel COVID-19 is that week. Once the Splunk training is done, I’ll do a 70 hour Python course via Cisco. A government body is offering it for free at the moment.

The “unthinkable” happened in Irish politics: two arch enemy parties since the Civil War in the 1920s went into power together, something they swore would never happen back in January, which I thought made it a dead cert. I should start betting on these things, I called Brexit and Trump happening. Hard to say what it actually means for the country. Especially as the Greens also went into government.

Personally, I think the Greens will implement a 32 county ecofascist Republic. They will build a bridge to a now independent Scotland and Isle of Man, and call themselves Neo-Dal Riada. Tanistry is resumed. Once the vast mineral wealth beneath Rockall is claimed, the Greens restore the neo-neo-Stuarts to the English throne. England once again becomes Catholic. To spite England, Ireland turns Protestant. The Irish Confederate wars begin again.

The R.E.S.T. method

I have definitely improved over the last week, next to no pain the last few days and I’ve been able to walk around for 15-30 mins at a slow pace without exhausting myself. It’s going to be a while before I’m better, but I need to maintain my fitness over the next while as I recover. It’s time to R.E.S.T. or

  • Resume
  • Extremely
  • Strenuous
  • Training

I figure some weighted pullups will inflame my heart and ribs and adding some running will determine just how far I can push myself before I finally keel over and die. Hearing more stories of people in our extended circle of friends who had 90+ days of symptoms. Fingers crossed the next time I get coronavirus it won’t be as bad.

3D printer is up and running again, making some household stuff with a slightly larger nozzle and increased layer height to see if it’s any faster. Getting back into lockpicking for the feeling of magic again. Have been successfully casting some items in plaster, think I will make moulds of any good 3d prints and cast for mass production:

Hope everyone had a good 4th of July.

Finished pieces

These were a successful experiment in monochrome painting, concentrating on ochre down to black and up to white. I learned a lot about bright/dark values painting these and can’t wait to play with them.

The trees were even simpler, but I worked mostly with glazes and drybrushing here, trying to subtly add greens and reds over the greys and dark ochre.
This set of ruins was first painted yellow, then the gold was done with a brush. I then washed it all in dark ochre, then drybrushed it off white. There’s 1 larger one I am still working on
Blacklining the space between the the stones really added detail here. Happy with the strong contrast of the rust and the greenery. Trying to give a feeling of solidity, sadness and decay.
Blacklining the stones very effective here.
Sample from the other fences. Less going on here, a lot had to be cut and shaved off to make them less “fantasy”, but I’m satisfied by the rust.
An extensive conversion: only the body of the chariot is mostly intact! Maybe the first time I really brought a concept on paper to reality when dealing with models and not just terrain pieces.

All in all, my painting has come on during this Covid-19 period. I think my style is starting to develop, but I’m not sure what my next step is going to be. I’d like to work neater, so I’d like to gain confidence in fine detail work and highlights. I would also love to start sculpting more.

I am still having some pain and discomfort from my heart and I am still off work, likely to be some time before I am back doing anything remotely strenuous. It’s disappointing to turn 30 and not be able to run around at your party and do loads of shite. But that’s how it be.

My CISSP was endorsed, now just waiting for my card and membership details.

How I passed the CISSP

I recently passed the CISSP exam after the requisite 4 years of experience in the IT field. The Certified Information Systems Security Professional is a managerial/technical IT security exam that tests your knowledge on 8 domains like risk management, cryptography, software development and physical security. It’s seen as a very difficult exam with perhaps a 30% pass rate.

My Background

I have 5 years’ experience as a systems administrator. That’s covered everything from network devices, to incident response, to business continuity/disaster recovery planning, to CCTV and biometric security systems. Prior to that I was a hedge fund auditor and a legal editor, so I had experience across all the domains and fields of knowledge necessary. I recently took the AWS Security Specialism, and I certainly think there is overlap between the two exams.

Mentality

I started studying in January. I had planned to take the exam in March until COVID-19 hit and Ireland went into lockdown. I ended up sick for 80+ days with coronavirus and complications, so I restarted my study 14 days before the exam. I was still in a fair bit of pain.
The evening before the exam in June, my doctor told me to go to the Emergency Department to check my heart, where they diagnosed me with pericarditis as a result of coronavirus. I still did the exam next day, where I passed at 100 questions in 90 minutes. This is not a hard exam if you approach it correctly and you keep your nerve. I recommend
a month or two to cover the material more generally, then sprint for 2 weeks before you take the exam. You will never know everything and it’s possible to overstudy and lose your nerve. If I can do it after 80 days of coronavirus symptoms and a night in hospital, you can too!

A lot of people say the CISSP is mile wide, inch deep. I’d say it’s more T-shaped: you must understand risk management and its implications on CIA/DAD triangle in Domain 1

These underpin everything in the exam. It’s the ring of power to bind the others. It’s not an exam you can brute force: there’s a degree of judgement you need to pass. There are questions that test your judgement: you’ll get 4 “correct” answers and be asked what’s best per requirements. The correct frame of mind for that is a risk-adverse advisor who checks with management if it’s OK to proceed. But you still need to know the concepts as they will rephrase anything they can to test your understanding.

CISSP I felt has many “words of art” or specific domain language. Ensure you know the meaning between certify/accredit and due care/due diligence and other similar sets of concepts like the ones for
access control (RBAC, RuBAC etc) You will likely be tested on these.

My strategy for learning material is telling yourself a story. Relate concepts in fiction or your life to the domains and material. I was watching Better Call Saul, noting where Mike (a police officer turned hitman) planned well, analysed risk and advised allies to come out on top against superior foes. For my notes, I gradually boil down my different sources until I have summaries of the material in my own words. I believe that’s essential if you’re to truly apply the material.

I also use spaced repetition on paper flashcards for important concepts (paper drills stuff into my brain better) and test myself on topics I am weak on. This works well for crypto and regulations.

There’s CISSP Discord that’s is very useful too, great way to learn stuff you’d otherwise never know and get perspectives you don’t get in a book: https://discord.gg/ZkvkDwH For the same reason, I recommend learning languages in the pub and not the classroom! 

Be fair to your wife/husband/dog/whatever – they’ll support you throughout and will be willing to talk about the CISSP stuff if you do.

Material Review:

Study smart, not hard. That goes double if you’re married and working full time. Studying follows power laws and the returns on effort you put in diminishes as you forget the material you initially covered. You are only aiming for 700/1000. You cannot know all the material. Doing 10,000 practice questions will not guarantee a pass. It’s better to sprint for the exam in 2 weeks than it is to study for 2 years.

I listened to Kelly Handerhan’s videos on Cybrary. Kelly is easy listening, and she really gets you into the mindset.  If there was something unfamiliar, I’d read along with the slides. This gave me my foundation. I went through her lectures twice, once to get a feel, the next to take notes. Kelly is great at flagging exam worthy material and mindset items. This took me up to end of February. In May, I listened to her MP3s as the videos were now behind a paywall. They are just as good, maybe a little drier. Listening to Kelly settles my nerves – I imagined we’re going for a beer after the exam to keep cool. If you watch one video while preparing for the CISSP, watch this:

I read the Sunflower guide once. It’s good condensed material, but it’s not a primary source.

I half-read Memory Palace, can’t comment on it.

11th Hour Study Guide was pretty good, covers things Kelly doesn’t while still being brief. It’ll get you 75% of the way to passing I think. This was my most used resource. Also pretty cheap.

Boson CISSP questions are a great learning tool, but don’t do the exams more than once, you’ll memorize the answers too easily. I was scoring around 70% when I was learning material. I did one test 10 days out and scored 83%. I felt Boson’s more complex questions were similar to the exam material, and some of their straightforward technical questions with only one right answer were also similar to what was on the exam. I don’t think Boson scores will reflect your CISSP exam, but I would at least be scoring 70% so you can claim your money back guarantee on the Boson exams if you fail.

My notes: 50 A4 pages distilled from Kelly Handerhan’s lectures and the Boson explanations. Some things you know, somethings you don’t. It’s the things you don’t know that will catch you out. I have no notes from domain 4, but extensive notes for domain 8 for example. Making your own notes is the key to passing. Ensure you leave space in the margins to link concepts and “illuminate” your notes with small technical diagrams of key exchanges or fun drawings as you review them. A drawing of your wrist strap from the “Kerberos carnival” will tell you the story of authentication better than bullet points.

These questions were very helpful to understand the method the exam uses to create questions. ISC2 are not looking for rote memorization, but the ability to synthesize from two or more domains when you answer: https://community.isc2.org/t5/Certifications/CISSP-questions/td-p/18626

I also recommend the Plan-Do-Check-Act model as a framework for the BCP and SDLC processes on the exam. It’s better to understand and apply the concepts that underpin the processes rather than memorizing the steps for different models. 

Exam Method:

Mindset, mindset, mindset! Maintain your timing on questions – keep moving, make a call. Be prepared to do 150 questions. If you feel like you’re failing, that’s good. The CAT is throwing hard stuff because you are worthy. Keep going.

Larry’s Spock/Kirk method is very helpful as a means of eliminating incorrect answers:

Spock helps you logically eliminate incorrect answers, and then Kirk can make a judgement call when logic/facts aren’t enough. I recommend extending it by actually writing down the question numbers from 1-150 in the 5 minutes you have to read and sign the NDA and having A B C D in a row. Then you can cross off incorrect answers with Spock and pick what your gut tells you for the remainder:

90 days in: beating COVID-19 and CISSP

Some good news and bad news. Bad news is I still have symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath, and I was sent to hospital to get checked as they suspected I have pericarditis or myocarditis as a consequence of coronavirus. They gave me an xray, bloodtests and ECG, and confirmed it was pericarditis or possibly costrochonditis. I’m taking 3 weeks off work as the pain had been getting worse the last few days after even the mildest exertion like shaking a paint pot. I had to stop playing videogames as it was making me uncomfortable when it got the least bit stressful. Good news is it’s not going to kill me, and they prescribed anti-inflammatories to help my heart. My lungs also seem OK on xray. So it’s not pneumonia.

The other bit of good news is that I passed the CISSP exam! Wasn’t too hard in the end, I have good experience across the physical security, cybersecurity and risk management domains. It requires 5 years of experience and someone else with the CISSP to vouch for me. Here’s hoping I can start moving towards cybersecurity careers now, something I’ve been planning for 5 years. I will post on that later this week.

Have restarted painting recently, but nothing I can really post as finished pieces. So here’s some WIP shots from the last few weeks:

Some statues. Mostly stock, but I added a extra layer of plasticard on the bottom and plaster/sand to make the churned earth on the edge. The smaller stones in the middle are skulls, thought it looked stupid, so I shaved them down and plastered over it.
Some gates for my graveyard. I magnetized the hinges so the gates can be removed/swung open for games. I found adding a black border on the edges of pieces helps define them as “pieces”.
My test cherub from the last post. These are since “done” but I haven’t got any pictures of them. Mostly more weathering and green glazes. These are some of my favourite pieces, the first time I really got from concept in my brain to something really atmospheric. Done cheaply too and recycled corks into the bargain.
Group shot before further detailing and weathering.
Some Games Workshop ruins. The hard plastic stuff is expensive, but it is very robust. I am slowly building up a full table of stuff to play with once lockdown is over.

I am breathing easier this days, so I hope the COVID-19 is easing and I now just have the post-COVID shit to recover from. Stay safe out there. I reckon there will be a second wave, and there will be complications that aren’t just medical ones.