Saturday, July 31, 2010

New Orks, Finished Chaplain, Ultramarines

So I stopped by my FLGS today and picked up a few things: Ork in Mega Armor & Painboy that I ordered came in, and while I was there I picked up the Gretchin w/ Runtherd box. I think I might just use the Gretchin entirely as fluff pieces, and convert them so they're hanging off the back of the vehicles, etc.

Here's my finished Chaplain:(Hooray, I finally broke out my good DSLR to take pics, rather than the lousy seven-year-old point & shoot camera). Some thoughts:

-Highlights: Getting better, still not where I want to be. Part of the problem is that the highlights look good on the model, even up close, but since I tend to shoot my photos so close, it looks like I smeared them on with a cotton swab. I'm going to try a 5x0 brush to see if I can get them neater.

-Painting black: As I said in a previous post, I feel dumb for avoiding this model for so long, since I was anxious about painting black - turns out, it's dead easy on smooth, flat surfaces, such as power armor. (I'm sure black robes are a different story altogether). I used Citadel Adeptus Battlegray for the highlights on this model, but I'd like it a shade lighter - I picked up some Vallejo Game Color Ghost Grey tonight, hopefully that'll fit the bill.

-Painting metals: This was the first model where I based the chest emblem with successive layers of flat colors, then painted the Shining Gold on top, rather than putting the Shining Gold directly on the primer and washing - I think it really helps the tone of the metallics look more natural, but I still had to go back to a wash to get the "depth" I wanted in the cracks.

I wanted the handle of the Crozius Arcanum to have a "mottled" look like it was wrapped in burgundy leather, so I applied an intentionally uneven coat of red ink directly to the white primer, then gave it a coat of Vallejo glaze. I think it came out well.

Here's the paint scheme for the model:

-Basecoated w/ Citadel Chaos Black
-Highlighted w/ Citadel Foundation Series Adeptus Battlegray

Silver Metallics (rivets, pack vents, skull emblems):
-Basecoated w/ Citadel Mithril Silver

Gold Metallics:
-Basecoated w/ Citadel Bestial Brown
-Built up w/ Citadel Scorched Brown
-Layered w/ Citadel Shining Gold
-Washed w/ Citadel Badab Black
-Drybrushed w/ Citadel Mithril Silver

Handle of Staff:
-Basecoated w/ Series P3 Red Ink
-Glazed w/ Vallejo Game Color Gloss Medium

Purity Seal Wax:
-Basecoated w/ Foundation Series Mechrite Red
-Washed w/ Citadel Devlan Mud
-Highlighted w/ Citadel Blood Red

Purity Seal Ribbons/Bandages:
-Basecoated w/ Citadel Bleached Bone
-Washed w/ Citadel Devlan Mud

Skull/Shoulder Pad:
-Basecoated w/ Citadel Scorched Brown
-Built up w/ Citadel Bleached Bone
-Washed w/ Citadel Badab Black
-Highlighted w/ Citadel Skull White

-Basecoated w/ Chaos Black
-Pupils basecoated w/ Citadel Blood Red

-Cover: Basecoated w/ Citadel Snakebite Leather, washed w/ Citadel Devlan Mud
-Chains: Basecoated w/ Citadel Mithril Silver, washed w/ Citadel Badab Black
-Pages: Basecoated w/ Citadel Bleached Bone, washed w. Citadel Devlan Mud
-Corners: Basecoated w/ Citadel Shining Gold, washed w/ Gryphonne Sepia

...and I FINALLY got an evening that was suitable to lay down some matte finish, after almost three weeks of record humidity. A whole lot of Ultramarines are now ready to join their comrades in the foam:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Making Your Own Washes

Washes are an indispensable tool for most painters. While some people claim that washes are a "beginner's crutch", in my opinion washes can often accomplish shading with as good as, or even better results (in some cases), than tediously painting many layers.

Most washes have three basic components in common:

-The wash medium, that makes up the bulk of the wash (usually water);

-the pigment (paint, ink, etc.);

-and a surfactant (something that reduces the surface tension of water). This is what allows the wash to settle down into the crevices of the model, rather than "pooling" on the surface.

For years, painters used a basic wash of water + paint + dish soap. Many still use just that, and it can work well. A few years ago Games Workshop introduced the Citadel Washes, which work brilliantly (but, like all GW products, are a bit expensive). There are also dozens, if not hundreds, of "homebrew" wash formulas all over the wargaming & modeling forums. Here I'm going to talk about some of the more popular homebrew washes, how to make them, and what they can do for you.

"Darklining" Wash

Many painters have a standard "go-to" wash that they treat all their minis with before painting, in order to make the details "pop" a bit, which makes picking them out easier during painting. One that I've tried and had good luck with is from this article by Ron Vutpakdi. To make this wash, you'll need:

-Matte medium;
-Distilled water;
-and your choice of pigment.

A few notes:

-Use distilled water when mixing your washes. You could have all kinds of funky chemicals and/or mineral deposits in your tap water - a gallon of distilled water costs one measly dollar at the grocery store, and will last you forever.

-You want the standard liquid matte medium - not the "gel" version. This should be available at art supply houses or craft stores. I bought mine at Michael's. It's kind of pricey ($20 for a sixteen-ounce bottle), but if you sign up for Michael's email newsletter, they'll email you a 40% off coupon. You can also buy an eight-ounce bottle for half the price, if you're so inclined.

To make this wash, the recipe is:

-1 part paint (I used Citadel Chaos Black);
-3-4 parts matte medium;
-and 3-4 parts water.

I used disposable pipettes with graduated marking on the side to measure the ingredients. (I get mine from eBay). For this recipe, I used an empty 1oz. bottle from Reaper (available on their website - $3 for a three-pack):

To use this wash, just brush it liberally on a white-primed model. Here's a shot of a Space Marine Librarian with only a primer coat:

...and here's the same model after the wash: can see how it makes the details much more apparent, and it also gives you the advantage of "pre-shading" the crevices - this prevents the "dirty" look that can happen if you get too enthusiastic while washing an already-basecoated model.

Be sure to label all your bottles so you know what's in them. I would usually use a labelmaker for this but I ran out of label tape - a Sharpie will do in a pinch.

"Magic" Washes

There are a lot of people who claim to have discovered the perfect "magic wash" - they make it sound like all you have to do is basecoat your model, slop on their "magic wash", and collect your Golden Demon. While they're not that amazing, they do work well, and are especially a good tool for gamers who just want to get their models to tabletop standard as quickly as possible. One thing they all seem to have in common is using acrylic floor wax as an ingredient. This version comes of the recipe from an article on Dr. Faust's Painting Clinic.

To make these washes you'll need:

-Distilled water;
-Future acrylic floor polish;
-and your choice of pigment. (I used Formula P3 & Vallejo Game Color inks).

I would recommend inks over paint for these washes, as they seem to give better results.

The scale modeling community has been singing the praises of Future Floor Polish for years - wargamers seem to love it or hate it. (An employee at one of the larger paint manufacturers told me that the person in charge of formulating their paints absolutely hated it, and their exact quote was "I will not make my paint play nice with your floor wax"). I find that it can be useful, and is worth keeping a bottle around. (The standard "gunk" mixture that I keep on my desk and use to thin all my paints is a 50/50 mix of Future & water).

Future has recently been rebranded as "Pledge with FUTURE Shine Floor Finish" (which led to a rash of panic attacks on the scale modeling forums - don't worry, it's the same stuff as before). It'll be in the supermarket in the same aisle as the cleaning supplies. If I remember correctly, it was six or seven dollars for a bottle, but again, one bottle should be enough to last you for years.

To make these washes, the recipe is:

-1 part Future;
-4 parts water;
-and the desired amount of pigment.

I went ahead and made up several batches of this wash:

Here is the wash after being applied directly to a white-primed model to give you an idea of the effect:

You can see how the wash settles into the crevices, but has little effect on high surfaces. (Don't forget about gravity, either - I should have laid this model down when I washed it, which would have prevented so much of the wash from running down & off the model. Oops.)

Les' Wash Recipe

Les Bursley from Awesome Paint Job is an extremely talented painter who puts out fantastic YouTube videos that share his painting methods. A while ago he decided to share his wash recipe, and answered many questions about it in this thread at DakkaDakka.

Be advised that this wash is a bit of work to make and requires some expensive components, but just about everyone who has tried it has raved about it. (If you look at Les' models, it's awfully hard to argue with the results). And again, the amount of materials you'll be buying are enough to make a ridiculous amount of washes - if cost is a big concern, get a couple of buddies to throw in a few dollars apiece and none of you will have to buy washes for years.

To make these washes, you'll need:

-The matte medium we talked about earlier;
-Distilled water;
-Flow Aid:
-This should also be available where you bought the matte medium. Again, it's kind of pricey ($8 a bottle), but you'll use very little of it at a time.

-Acrylic waterproof drawing ink:

-These are not the inks sold by model paint manufacturers - they are inks specifically for drawing/calligraphy. They'll be in the craft store near the sketchbooks, pens, etc. Les states his preferred brand is Daler Rowney Acrylic Artist's Inks. My local store didn't have those in stock - you may have to order them online if you want that specific brand. Some people seem to feel that using the Daler Rowney inks is essential, others report good results with other brands (see the forum thread for discussion about this). I recommend looking for the key words "artist's ink", "acrylic", and "waterproof" on the bottle - if it has all three of these covered, you're probably good to go. I chose Higgins Black Magic (I actually used to use this in art classes back in my college days) and Speedball Super Pigmented Acrylic calligrapher's ink.

**Warning** This stuff is several orders of magnitude more permanent than anything you've painted with before. If you spill this all over the carpet, or on your favorite shirt, or the cat, IT IS NEVER COMING OUT. You have been warned.

I also bought an assortment of empty plastic bottles & jars for this wash - since it's more of a pain to make, I make up a batch of the "stock" to keep around so I don't have to do it very often.

To make the wash:

-First, make up a 10:1 mix of distilled water & flow aid: To do this, I took a 2-ounce bottle and a ruler and marked off measurements:

I filled the bottle 9/10ths of the way full with distilled water, then added 1/10th flow aid. I did this twice, and poured the mix into a larger 8-ounce bottle I had bought. I then filled the rest of the 8-ounce bottle with matte medium, for a 50/50 ratio of matte medium and water/flow-aid mixture:

...this is your "wash stock".

To make your desired wash, just fill your container with the wash stock and add the ink in the following ratios:

-"Heavy" black wash: 60 drops black ink per ounce of stock
-"Soft" black wash: 20 drops black ink per ounce of stock
-Colors: 40 drops ink per ounce of stock

I currently use more black wash than any other color, so I made a large batch. I added my stock to a 2oz. plastic jar:

...then I added the ink:

(In hindsight, I do not recommend using this type of jar for the washes - when you shake the jar to mix the wash before using, the wash gets into the threads of the jar, then the matte medium dries and gums up the threads. Lesson learned).

For the green, I just used an empty Citadel pot that I had on hand:

Obviously "drops of ink" is not going to be a consistent measurement when you're dealing with different manufacturer's inks, bottle droppers, etc., so you'll want to play around with these to get the color you want. You can also add more matte medium if you want the consistency of the wash to be thicker, or more water if you want it to be thinner.

Speed Test!

So, a big part of the appeal of washes is the ability to bring a model to "tabletop standard" quickly. Using many of the washes listed above, I decided to try a "speed painting" test to see how long it would take me to complete a model, and what the results would be.

I grabbed a spare Ork Boyz model that was sitting on my desk:

...I basecoated it very quickly with paint slopped directly out of the pot, using one of my cheap nylon "junk" brushes that I keep around for mixing paint, drybrushing, etc. First the flesh was brushed with Citadel Gnarloc Green:

Then a coat of Scorched Brown on the clothes, and Chaos Black on the boots & glove:

Boltgun Metal on the gun, sword, helmet & chest plate:

My total time investment at this point is about 5 minutes. Next I applied some washes:

-Green "Magic Wash" on the face, to even out the color:

-Brown "Magic Wash" on the face, arms & bandage:

Les' Heavy Black wash on the face, metal surfaces, & a few spots on the arms:

I also applied some of Les' Heavy Black wash to some spots on the clothes, to pick out some details:

(Whoops, looks like I slopped some brown spots on his arms, and completely missed that there's an another armor plate on his back - well, I was trying to paint it as fast as I could!)

When the washes were dry, I drybrushed the teeth with Bleached Bone and dotted the eyes with Blood Red, and did the top of the base with a quick mix of the Blood Red & Scorched Brown, and the lip of the base in Snakebite Leather:

...and there's the results, with a total of about 10 minutes worth of work. If I had been "assembly line" painting a whole batch of models at once it would have been even faster, since I wouldn't have had to stop and rinse my brush, etc., between colors. You can see how the wash really picks out details like between the fingers/fingernails, shading on the metal surfaces, and seams on the clothing. It's not going to win any contests, but it's quick, easy, and infinitely better than fielding an unpainted army on your next game night.

Make sure to keep a small notebook on your desk to write down your wash recipes & paint mixes:

This makes it much more likely that you're going to be able to replicate that color you mixed a few weeks ago, when you notice a spot you missed on the underside of a model later...

Updates: Scout Squad/Chaplain

So here is the scout squad with the basing completed:

This theme matches the majority of my other Space Marines, and was pretty much selected 'cause it's simple and matches a lot of different terrain choices. The base of each figure is brushed with wood glue, then dipped in Woodland Scenics Medium Ballast. After that's dry, I glue a few neutral-colored pebbles from a big bag of aquarium rocks to the base. After that dries, I put a few spots of PVA on the bases and dip them in Woodland Scenics Static Grass (a blend of several different colors I mixed together in a plastic tub). After everything is dry, I drip some Woodland Scenics Scenic Cement onto the bases to "lock" everything into place. Some notes:

-I always use Woodland Scenics for stuff like static grass, ballast, trees, etc. - it's WAY cheaper than GW stuff, and looks better in my opinion. (Games Workshop charges $8.00 for 15 grams of static grass - that's just over half of an ounce. Woodland Scenics charges $11.00 for a huge 32oz. shaker bottle - so for three dollars more, you get SIXTY-FOUR TIMES the amount of static grass). I bought a few shaker bottles and mix them equally - this should be enough static grass to last me a decade, at least. Although they're primarily focused on model railroading, Woodland Scenics has realized that wargamers have an interest in their product and have been putting in appearances at some of the larger conventions and providing materials for seminars as well.

-For ballast, buy it bigger than you think you'll need to. This is one of those weird optical illusion things - I'm going for a look of coarse gravel, but according to scale each piece of ballast is almost as big as a 28mm model's fist. However, it just doesn't look right if you make it smaller.

...and here's a Chaplain that's in-progress:

So far, I'm pretty pleased with how he's turning out - makes me feel silly for avoiding it so long, because I was afraid of painting an all-black model. He just needs a little more work and some highlights, and he should be done.

Oh, remember how in my last post I was whining about painting eyes? I was determined to figure something out, so I started re-reading every article I could find on the web for painting eyes. I was at Dr. Faust's Painting Clinic and found an interesting quote in this article on brushes:

"Red sables are almost useless for painting fine details like eyes."

Sure enough, I was at the craft supply store the other day picking up some stuff and grabbed a 10/0 nylon brush, and it works like a charm. I'm relieved I finally figured it out, but I must admit my first thought was "UMMM HEY GUYS, SOMEONE COULD HAVE TOLD ME THIS, LIKE, TWO YEARS AGO AND SAVED ME A LOT OF TIME AND FRUSTRATION."

Anyways, I spent the weekend buying supplies & taking photos for a big tutorial article I'm going to post in a day or two, so stay tuned...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Project: Scout Squad

(click to enlarge) here's the Scout Squad, almost finished (still need to finish the basing & seal them). As I mentioned before, these models were forgotten about until I found them, partially finished, in a dark compartment in my modeling toolbox. The primer job was a bit "fuzzy" and the blue had been hastily basecoated with paint straight out of the pot, so they probably weren't the best models to start trying to up my painting game, but it is what it is - it actually worked pretty well, as I hadn't painted anything in months, and wasn't going to be too upset if it didn't go well. Some thoughts/observations about painting these:

-Wet blending: Unfortunately, Space Marines just aren't the best models for working on this technique. I did it a bit with the pants and thought it worked well (hard to pick out in the picture), but the armor, guns, etc. don't lend themselves to that method. I'm planning on picking up some more fantasy-oriented models to work on it.

-Highlights: One problem I've always had with my hard-line highlights is wanting that "'eavy Metal" style highlighting, but being too afraid of high contrast. I went much higher contrast with these models than I usually would, and am happier with it - the gray-on-black contrast looks great, but I think the light blue on the armor could even have gone a bit lighter. I also still struggle a bit with the brush control needed for these highlights, so I mixed a bit extra of my base color and used it to clean up the highlights that got away from me a bit.

-Faces: I tried basing in dark colors and "building up" from there, but it didn't work out as I'd hoped. I think I might just be too attached to washes & drybrushing for faces - the amount of extra work to do it the "proper" way doesn't justify the results, I think.

-Metals: I did, however, build up the metals from a dark, flat color, and thought it worked much better than my usual "slap on Shining Gold, slather on Gryphonne Sepia wash" method. I'll definitely use this on larger areas (chest emblems, etc.) in the future. It's too difficult to bother with on tiny pieces (glove/gun emblems, for example) in my opinion.

-Eyes: Bleeaaargh, they still give me fits. I've tried all the popular painting methods, technical pens, loupe magnifers, and more - they still come out cross-eyed half the time. I just need to keep practicing, I guess. The model on the far left was coming out great using the "base the eye socket in black / paint two white dots on either side of the socket" method, but I managed to screw it up somewhere along the way.

Here's the paint colors for anyone who's interested:

Entire Model:
-Primed w/ Krylon white primer

-Based w/ Formula P3 Hammerfall Khaki
-Built up w/ Citadel Bleached Bone
-Highlighted w/ Citadel Skull White

-Based w/ Citadel Foundation Series Mordian Blue
-Highlighted w/ Rackham Color Wizard Blue

-Based w/ Citadel Snakebite Leather
-Washed w/ Citadel Devlan Mud wash

Silver Metals:
-Based w/ Citadel Scorched Brown
-Built up w/ Citadel Boltgun Metal
-Washed w/ Citadel Badad Black wash
-Drybrushed w/ Citadel Mithril Silver

Gold Metals:
-Based w/ Citadel Scorched Brown
-Built up w/ Citadel Shining Gold
-Washed w/ Citadel Gryphonne Sepia wash
-Drybrushed w/ Citadel Mithril Silver

Shell Casings:
-Based w/ Vallejo Model Color Brass
-Washed w/ Citadel Gryphonne Sepia wash

-Based w/ Citadel Chaos Black
-Highlighted w/ a 50/50 mix of Citadel Foundation Adeptus Battlegray & Skull White

-Based w/ Citadel Scorched Brown
-Built up w/ Citadel Dark Flesh
-Built up w/ Citadel Elf Flesh
-Washed w/ Citadel Baal Red wash
-Drybrushed w/ Citadel Elf Flesh

Based w/ Citadel Chaos Black / drybrushed w/ Citadel Foundation Adeptus Battlegray
Based w/ Citadel Bestial Brown
Based w/ a 50/50 mix of Citadel Bestial Brown & Sunburst Yellow

Eye lens:
-Based w/ Citadel Blood Red

Pistol Scope:
-Based w/ Citadel Scorpion Green
-Hightlight blended w/ 50/50 mix of Citadel Scorpion Green & Skull White
-Flare highlight w/ Citadel Skull white

Entire model will be sealed w/Krylon #1311 Matte Finish.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

So, I Feel Stupid... I mentioned the other day, I got the magnets in the mail that I was waiting for to make all the weapon arms for my Warjacks in Grind interchangeable. I gathered all my tools and sat down to get started. There's only one problem: they're already interchangeable. They use a fairly clever pressure-fit collar so you can pop the arms on and off. It even says on the product page for Grind on the Privateer Press web site (which I looked at several times) that they're interchangeable.


Oh well. I thought about going ahead and magnetizing them anyway, since they require a fair amount of pressure to pop on and off, and it probably won't be real conducive to keeping the paint job in good shape, but I decided against it. Rather, i think I'll use it as an opportunity to test a sealing method I recently heard about - using a high-gloss sealer first for durability, then using a matte sealer to knock down the shine. Many people who paint models that are going to get handled a lot swear by this, and since it's a board game, it's definitely going to get handled more often than pieces I paint for show...

Monday, July 19, 2010

On Deck: Orks

Picked up a few things the other day:

a Trukk & some paints (more greens, mostly). Speaking of green, I guess I'm ready to start my Ork army, 'cause I've got a LOT:

I'm eager to start my Orks - I think it'll be neat to build an army that I already have most of the models in front on me, not one that I bought piece-by-piece as I went. I finally dug out the box of stuff I got from Craigslist last year - the contents:

-8 Stormboyz
-15 Ork Boyz
-5 Nobz
-5 Warbikers
-Deff Dread
-Killa Kan s/ Burna
-4 Ork Boyz w/ 'eavy Weapons

...add that to the stuff from the AoBR box I haven't painted yet:

-5 Nobz
-20 Ork Boyz
-3 Deffkoptas

...and the stuff I ordered when I bought the Trukk:
-Ork in Mega-Armour w/ Kombi Shoota-Rokkit Launcher
-'ard Boyz Armour Pack, I don't know squat about list building - I never play in tournaments, and can count the number of games I've played in the past year on one hand. I'm primarily in it for the painting. But I'm actually really looking forward to playing some games with these models, just because they're so different from what I'm used to.

As far as in-progress stuff, the Scout Squad will hopefully be done tomorrow, I'll have pics when it is. I got the magnets in for Grind, so that needs started too. I've actually got a hug pile of stuff to be sealed & stuff to be primed, but we've been stuck with sticky, nasty weather for a few weeks now, and the forecast looks like this:

Wonderful. I was seriously considering brush-on sealer & primer just so I could finally knock some of these projects into the "finished" category, but I've had inconsistent results with those in the past, so I guess I'll give it 'till the end of the week...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Storm Wardens Charity Drawing Almost Over!

Hey everyone -

Just a heads up, the Storm Wardens Collaborative Army Build & Charity Drawing is almost over! Here's a chance to win a fantastic army, tons of other goodies, and support a good cause while you're at it. I just sent my donation in, go do the same!

The LeadHead at GenCon 2010

Just a little teaser - The LeadHead will be attending GenCon 2010, and I intend to provide lots of coverage! In addition to documenting the painting & terrain-building events I'll be attending, I've been talking with the owner of a new miniatures company that has a lot of really cool looking products, and I hope to be able to provide some "behind the scenes" news & reviews. I'll be working out the details in the coming weeks, but watch this space!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

TheLeadHead Joins FTW

I am proud to announce that The LeadHead has joined the FTW Blogger Group, a network of over six hundred dedicated 40K enthusiasts who cover every aspect of the hobby with their individual blogs. Head over there and check it out.

In other news, progress is coming along on the Scout squad, but it's sloooow. Going from ASAP assembly-line "gaming standard" painting to working with multiple layers, line highlighting & wet-blending is a BIG change. However, so far I'm moderately pleased (if not with the results, at least with the noticeable improvements to my technique) and hope to have some pics and a write-up by early next week.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

On Deck: Grind, Space Hulk

So I had a busy week here, and the next two weeks don't look much better, so not a lot of progress was made. I thought I'd show the next few projects that are going to be occupying my time:

I bought Space Hulk at Origins, all the minis have been assembled and de-flashed, greenstuff work has been started, a bit of sanding and they'll be ready for primer. I'm a little torn about trying new techniques on the Marines - while I definitely want to get away from the basic basecoat/wash/drybrush method, it's the technique I used on my Techmarine (see the "Mini-Friendly Light Box" post below) and it came out great. It would be easily adapted to the Blood Angels from the Space Hulk set. Maybe I'll do the Marines in my traditional method and mix it up for the 'nids - I don't think I care for the standard GW black/purple color scheme that is usually used, so I'll probably change that. I saw a scheme over at Warseer that used Elf Flesh & purple ink that looked fantastic, so I might try to duplicate that.

The copy of Grind was acquired from a buddy of mine who decided to thin out his collection a bit - the minis are assembled, but unpainted. It actually worked out pretty well - I don't play Warmachine, but have been dying to try painting some Warjacks. the last thing I needed was to start playing another game that would require me to buy sourcebooks and build a whole new army, so this is a perfect way to give some Privateer Press models a try. Plus, one of the regulars at my local shop (who also serves as their painting guru) just became a Press Ganger, so I might take the models to one of his seminars to get advice on color schemes, etc. Either way, my friend assembled the models with his personal choice of arms (the game includes 30 different weapon arms) and I want to have options, so I am waiting on some neodymium magnets to arrive in the mail so I can start chopping the models apart and greenstuffing them.

The Ork Nobz are just one box out a full Ork army (1,000 points or so) I bought last year on Craigslist for peanuts, which is all unpainted and mostly still unassembled. It was all thrown in a box and it took me forever to sort it out and bag it up so I knew what went where, but that's finally done, so now I can start assembly. Since the Orks are going to be my "second" army, I plan on having lots of fun with the fluff and trying some ususual stuff with scratch building. I also recently bought a couple of airbrushes & a compressor that I've been getting the hang of, I suspect these will be invaluable for the Ork army in regards to weathering & stenciling.

...on top of all of the above, I have an 18-gallon tote in the closet that's completely full of Armorcast resin terrain I bought at Origins 2009 that I haven't touched yet, and a Zuzzy 4'x6' Terra-Flex terrain mat that has been sitting in my office for months. Oh, and a box of Tau somewhere that I got in a trade...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wet Palette

So, since I'm planning on doing a lot more wet blending & variegated highlighting, I thought it was about time I made a wet palette. I don't know why I haven't got around to it sooner - it only takes a few minutes and about five bucks worth of materials.

What you'll need:

-plastic container/empty blister pack
-parchment paper

I used a GladWare container - I bought a multipack of these a while ago to organize my various modeling bits, and this one was left over:

A lot people use left over blister packs from their models for this - The Warmachine blister packs work well & even include the bit of sponge you'll need as cushioning, but they're kind of small. As long as whatever you use seals up tight, you'll be okay.

Next, some sponges:

It was around two dollars for a two-pack of these at the grocery store.

Finally, some parchment paper:

This will be in the same aisle at the grocery store as the sandwich bags, aluminum foil, etc. It was $3.50 for a 30-foot roll, and you'll only need half of the width, so you'll have sixty feet to work with. You'll only use a six-inch piece at a time, and each piece should last days or weeks, so this one roll should last a looooong time.

Stick your sponges in your container:

I got lucky, and the two sponges were almost the perfect size for this container - if yours don't fit, cut them to size with some sharp scissors so they take up the bottom of the container.

Add water to the sponges so it's fully saturated, but not so much that you have a pool of water in the bottom of the container. Basically you want it to pool up a bit around the tip of your finger when you poke it:

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit on top of the sponge:

That's pretty much it - you mix your paints on the surface of the paper:

You'll get a feel for how wet you need to keep the palette to keep your paints from drying out as you work with it. I will caution you that it doesn't always play well with certain anti-drying agents / extenders - that "puddle" you see on top of the gold paint is basically where the extender that I had pre-mixed in pooled on top of the paint, after I had stirred it in thoroughly. The good news is, you shouldn't need much more than plain water to thin your paints if you're using a wet palette.

If you seal it tightly when you're done painting your paints should stay workable for days, or, if you put it in the fridge, weeks. Occasionally empty it out and run the sponges through the washing machine and let them dry thoroughly to avoid any microbial nasties.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

And Then There Were Seven

So this is all that's left uncompleted out of a couple thousand points' worth of Ultramarines:

(Sorry, crappy cellphone pic)

The Scout squad was completely forgotten, to be honest - I thought I was FINALLY done with everything that came in the last battlebox I bought, and when I was digging through my toolbox for something, I found them stashed in a small compartment. They're probably the last of my minis that are going to receive a relatively "quick 'n dirty" treatment to get them up to tournament standard. They require a bit more attention, however, since they're not wearing the standard power armor - I based the pants & shirt tonight in Formula P3 Hammerfall Khaki and am going to build it up to white highlights, as opposed to my usual "quick" method of basecoat white / Devlan Mud wash / drybrush white. Since none of them are wearing helmets, I also plan to try giving their faces (especially the eyes) a bit more attention than usual, since that's one of my weak areas.

The Chaplain & Librarian are models I always planned to give a bit more attention, mostly because they're gorgeous sculpts - I had my FLGS special order these particular models from GW Direct since I liked them so much. The Librarian has an insane amount of detail that's going to be a real challenge, and the Chaplain's color scheme is almost entirely black & white - the two most difficult colors to paint well, since they don't lend themselves to any of the traditional "shortcut methods" at all.

Minis-Friendly Stairwell

One of the Art College seminars I attended at Origins 2010 was a terrain-building class taught by A. Bleys Ingram. Bleys came up with this cool little project that solves one of the major movement issues with mini-based games - stairs. This project allows you to actually end your movement phase on a staircase, without having to balance, pin, or hold your mini on the steps.

Unfortunately I didn't take pics of the actual building phase, since I had my hands full & it was early on a Thursday morning and I didn't think of it. But, the piece is entirely made of 1" styrofoam, cardstock, and foamcore board. The basic idea is that a 1" column is glued to a cardboard base, and 1" square blocks of styrofoam are used to create a spiral-type staircase around the column. The basic structure shouldn't be too hard to figure out. The important thing here is the construction of the stairs - I'll try to illustrate using my 133t MicroSoft Paint skillz:

(click to enlarge)

Basically, by aligning the top two steps with the top of the cardstock square and the bottom two steps with the bottom, it leaves a perfect-sized gap to insert the base of your minis during a game.

So, the rest of this entry will deal with the painting. Regular spray paint will dissolve Styrofoam, so I gave the entire piece a generous coat of PVA glue and let if dry a couple of days. (You can buy special Styrofoam-friendly spray paint, but it's expensive, and glue is cheap). After it dried, I gave the whole piece a coat of black primer:

I was given a gift of 60 or 70 bottles of craft-store paint that belonged to my late mother-in-law, so I use that to paint my terrain - it's much cheaper than using your hobby paints. I roughed in the staircases with brown and block structure with slate gray:

Next, I gave all of the gray a thick wash of Citadel Badab Black wash:

The steps got a wash of Citadel Devlan Mud wash:

Next, the steps, were drybrushed lightly with a 50/50 mix of the basecoat brown and yellow. This gave a nice "wood grain" effect (hard to see in the pic).

Next, the stone surfaces were heavily drybrushed with a 50/50 mix of the basecoat gray & white:

Next, I made a 50/50 mix off Vallejo Game Color Black Green ink & P3 Yellow ink and added it to Vallejo Glaze medium:

The trick here is that no matter how good you coat your terrain with PVA, there's going to be spots where the spray paint eats into the foam a bit. Instead of trying to repair or hide these spots, I actually use the ink glaze to highlight it, as a "green slime" effect. Now when someone looks at your terrain piece, instead of thinking "Geez, he's so lazy he didn't coat it well enough" it looks like "Whoa, he even sculpted the acid slime effect!" Remember: Work smarter, not harder. ;-)

Here's the final product:

Overall a quick, fun project to make.