Saturday, March 26, 2011

RtC: It Never Fails...

No matter how much time I spend looking for mold lines, I always miss one or two. No exception with the War Hog project. I found a couple places that needed clean up. I knifed/filed them down and then used some of the brush-on primer to clean up the spots. Totally worth the extra mile on this project.

I also discovered a bit of a problem. The right leg (the mechanical one) isn't very strong and started to bend while I was moving him around by the pins sticking out of his feet. Normally I'd paint him completely separate from the base, but I think in this case I'm going to need to get him on the base so that I can better secure him.

Speaking of basing, I've started putting together my idea. I got some great inspiration from David's comment (link) and I'm doing my own adaption of this to match my goal for the War Hog. I'm not going to share too much more yet, but this picture shows my collection of bits I plan to use.

Well, it's late, and I'm still recovering from my work travel this last week so I'm going to cut this post short so that I can get some sleep and get an early start on this basing project tomorrow.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Super quick post. Here's the finished Feralgeist that I painted the other day. Nothing amazing really. I decided to keep it in the pink theme. I sorely debated whether to try and make it lighter in the center and darker near the high points. I sort of wish I had, but it's done now. If I end up painting a second one for whatever reason, I'll do the reverse of this one.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

RtC: Underpainting Trial

If you picked up No Quarter #34 and read Matt DiPietro's article about underpainting, you may have found yourself curious just as I did. Well, I decided to try this technique out. Now I need to at a disclaimer here: This is the very first time I've tried this specific technique, so my execution was less than optimal. In the past I used to prime models black and then drybrush white to get an idea of surfaces. This process was new for me. With that caveat out of the way, let's see my results.

First, I started with my freshly primed Feralgeist. I chose this model due to it being a good candidate for multiple wash layers. I followed the article as closely as made sense. The grey coat covered probably 80% of the surface, and the white coat covered probably 30%. My first note here is that doing light shots of primer like this left some graininess that I'm not used to having when I do solid coats. No matter, it seemed to have little effect on the final product.
First, I did a wash of P3 Carnal Pink, probably about 1:3. It was thick enough to give a strong tint of the pink to the entire surface. At this point I definitely noticed that the underpainted coat has a noticeable effect on the pink wash layer.
Next, a thinner wash of half P3 Carnal Pink and half VMC Pink. This was probably at about 1:4, with a drop of flow aid thrown in for good measure. At this point, the underpainted coat is becoming less obvious.
Now a wash of just VMC Pink, at roughly 1:5 with a couple drops of flow aid in there. Again, even less obvious of the underpainting.
Now a wash of half VMC Pink and half P3 Beaten Purple. About 1:5 with definite flow aid added.
Ok, I have no idea what happened with my camera here. This step was where I went back and re-higlighted some areas with slightly thinned (1:1) P3 Carnal Pink to bring some surface back to a brighter shade.
Next, I did a very controlled wash of P3 Beaten Purple and some VGC Violet ink. This was something like 2 parts paint, 1 part ink, 3 parts water, 2 parts flow aid. By controlled wash I mean that rather than washing the entire surface, I just washed the recessed areas that I wanted to darken.

It is at this point that my step-by-step comes to an end because...
... Where'd the underpainting go? Ok, perhaps my wash technique was not entirely the best option here. The article really only does 1 or 2 washes on top of the underpainting, and they tend to be darker colors. So I'll admit, my test is probably not entirely reflective of the way the technique should be employed. In any case, here are my takeaways:

1) Underpainting via 3 primer coats (and necessary black painting the recesses) takes time.
2) The technique definitely works better with just a couple washes.
3) Taking the time to underpaint definitely gives a much better sense of where to highlight, particularly if you follow the zenithal highlighting methodology.
4) This is not particularly compatible with my own painting style.
5) I'm glad I took the time to try it out, and hey, my Feralgeist went from blister pack to done in 2 days, which is a record for me! (I'll post the final model tomorrow)

So, will I use this for my War Hog? Probably not.
Will I use it for select future projects? Very likely yes.
Do I recommend other people try it out? Absolutely! See if it works for you! Trying out new techniques is what it takes to step up your painting.

Until next time, paint like you have a pair!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spell Martyrs

Adding another 1pt option to my army building is nice. I can't imagine that I'd ever field 3 of these, but in a large game at least I've got the option. On the actual gaming side of things, I've been wanting to round out all my 1pt options for list building, so adding these gets me nearly complete. All that's left is the Feralgeist, which is currently in progress.

All things considered, these were pretty quick to paint. Everything on the model is easily accessible to the brush. I didn't want to spend a ton of time on them, but I could easily see myself getting one more just to do a premium paint job on it just for kicks.

What went well:
* Athanc stone glow - I think this worked out pretty well. I didn't go all-out trying to OSL their chins and such, but it works.
* Overall composition - I tried to keep the rest of the model darker for the most part so that the glow would stand out better, which I feel that I accomplished.
* Black armor plates - I reproduced the same scheme from Anyssa for the black armor and it worked out pretty well. I really should have made notes this time.

What could have been better:
* Metals - The little dots and edges of Legion armor continue to drive me nuts. Those parts could have been cleaner.
* Blending on Skin - There's some splotchy places, particularly with the sanguine wash. I didn't notice it until after I'd already sealed it unfortunately.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

SPQR: Adding That One More Step

Regardless of what your goals are, an essential quality of speed painting is about efficient use of time. I would imagine that most people out there are already working on multiple hobby projects at once. I find generally that gamers tend to have some level of awareness at how to optimize things. However there's some value in exploring the topic in case there are little nuggets of wisdom out there. In terms of efficiency, there are two primary areas that I focus on: workspace and multitasking.

Having a dedicated workspace for hobby projects can make an enormous difference in terms of efficiency. My workspace has evolved over the years that I've been painting. It started as a box of paints and brushes accompanied by whatever mug I grabbed from the shelf. Later it turned into a large portable serving tray. Today I have a dedicate desk, shelf space, paint racks and lamp. There are many articles out there about workspaces, and I've included a couple in the list of references at the end of this article. Focusing specifically on efficiency, it's important to organize your workspace so that the most commonly used items are within arm's reach, and you know exactly where to find them. Having plenty of area also helps so that you aren't shuffling things around frequently to accommodate whatever you shift to work on. The key here is to evaluate your space every so often to ensure you are getting the most of out it.

As a visual aid to my philosophy on multitasking, I've included a photo of my desk. Since I wasn't able to put labels on the items, consider this a bit of a scavenger hunt. I've got a can of primer because I'm waiting for a model I just primed to dry. I'm working on basing the Spell Martyrs. My Gun Mages patiently await their next SPQR step. My War Hog relaxes on the styrofoam where he awaits the next step in his progress. And on my tool rack, a piece of clay experiment is drying (more on that another time). As you can see, I've got 5 different things going on at once. The value in doing this is that while one thing dries or cures, I can be working on another thing. In some cases, I'm waiting for inspiration to strike and having them within visual range helps. This is more ambitious that my typical, but the point still applies. If you're able to keep juggling back and forth between assembly and painting, you'll make good use of time when something needs to sit and dry/cure.

So back to my Gun Mages. As a part of my goal of speed painting in order to get better, I'm taking one more step on the coats. I'm going to two brush blend (2BB) to deepen the shading.

For reference, here's the UA model from the unit as of the end of the previous post.
And here he is after 2BB some P3 Coal Black into the deeper areas. As you can see, this definitely deepens the shading as the recesses have much more coverage at this point. The 2BB technique can yield pretty good results in a short amount of time once you get good at it, but it takes a fair amount of practice. I forced myself to practice it on models that I was speed painting in order to get that practice in. Combining washes and 2BB techniques like this can work well to step a model above just basic tabletop quality.

Total painting time: 30 minutes. This time it literally is 30 minutes to paint this step for all 7 in the unit. Although the 2BB technique is relatively fast for the results, it isn't as fast as wash techniques.

* Matt DiPietro's PP painting desk
* CMON Article about basic tools, including workspace
* YouTube video of Ron Kruzie using the 2BB technique at Gencon (terrible video quality, but you can get the general idea)

Friday, March 11, 2011

RtC: Assembly Finished

Countdown to KublaCon painting competition: 78 days

Assembly is finished for the War Hog! The last of the work was just getting the tusks and right hand attached, and then doing a bunch of gap filling around some of the major joints. The places where his skin is stitched together required some particular attention. Normally I might have just skipped that gap filling and used dark washes to disguise the joins. For competition purposes though, I felt it was really important to fill those gaps properly. It stretched my green stuff skills a bit since those stitch joints were somewhat fiddly to fill in. However, that work is now done, so it's time to move on to priming next.

Speaking of priming, I read the recent NQ article about "underpainting" and it got me thinking as to whether that might be a good technique for this. However, never having used the technique before, I honestly have no idea. I'm planning to do a test model using that technique but I'd love to hear from other folks out there about it. Post your comments!

Ok, and now for something more life-related. Part of my lack of progress on painting the last month was due to this project. My father-in-law and I spent a bunch of time working on my back yard area. The pavers and deck are all new, and it was a ton of work. But the end result has transformed the space into something much more functional and tranquil. Anyway, now that this project is complete, I should be getting more painting progress done.

Now it's time to start working out color schemes for this beastie and get on task.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

SPQR: Speed Painting and Quality Results

Goal #3 for 2011: Do a series of posts on "speed painting".

It's high time I got started on this goal! This is the kick-off post for the SPQR series I'll be doing on an ongoing basis to tackle the large topic of speed painting. My goal is to give a balance between the "philosophy" of speed painting, and concrete examples of speed painting in practice.

The term "speed painting" has a pretty wide spectrum of definition for time, technique and quality. Those definitions vary primarily due to different goals, which each painter needs to define for themselves. Are you looking to get a painted army on the table? Are you looking to improve your brush handling techniques? Is your available painting time limited and you're looking to balance quality and completion? The goal is what will drive what type speed painting you undertake.

In my case, I have 2 goals. The secondary goal is to get stuff painted for playing with. But my primary goal is really to improve my skills. My underlying theory is that I can always buy another copy of a model rather than strip and start over if it isn't perfect. I've been doing this sort of balance between speed and quality for the last couple years and I've seen a noticeable improvement in both brush accuracy and blending quality. One key factor to this improvement is that I always take time after I seal a model to review what I liked and what I didn't like, even if I don't blog about it. Occasionally I will set aside the speed painting mentality and go all-out on a model just to test where my upper limit is, but I can honestly say that taking this specific speed painting philosophy has indeed improved my skills.

Ok, enough of the philosophy, let's start a real example...


For the practice portion of these posts, I'm going to start with this unit of Gun Mages. They've been sitting in my paint queue for quite a while now, and although I don't expect to be playing them in the very near future I do want to get them painted. I should note that this is my second unit of Gun Mages to have painted (the first unit being here), so I've got the upper hand on these so to speak.

Here's my starting point... a white primed model. I'm actually painting the whole unit at once, but I'm only going to show one model for the purposes of demonstrating the progress.

I'm using a "wash over white" technique to help speed up the process of the major areas. The idea is that the washes over white do a lot of the hard work in terms of highlighting and shading. It's certainly not competition quality, but for tabletop standards it gets good results. Note that I'm not going to discuss other primer color options here. This technique is specifically for white primer.
First painting step, base wash with Trollblood Highlight 1:1 (paint:water ratio). You'll notice that the coverage here is pretty good. Some white shows through, but not a whole lot. I'm starting with a more gray base before going to blues just to give it a more military feel.
Step 2, wash with Cygnar Blue Base 1:2:1 (paint:water:matte medium). The coverage here is significantly less, but it does create a translucent glaze over the entire thing.

The reason reason I include matte medium rather than glaze medium is that it 1) helps glaze even the top surfaces, and 2) helps reduce reflectivity in the recesses.
Step 3, wash with VMC Dark Sea Blue 1:3:1 (paint:water:matte medium). Similar goal as the previous step, just darkening things.

Now normally there's a lot of advice about painting the recessed areas first, and moving to the higher areas to avoid making mistakes on completed areas. The reason I'm doing the washes first is simply that washes tend to be messy, especially when working fast. Doing the washes first means I won't slop on other areas later and cause more damage.

And there you go, about 1/3 of the model's entire surface has already been covered using this technique. It's not outstanding, but it gets the job done.

Total painting time: 30 minutes. Ok, let me add a caveat there. I did paint 7 of these guys at the same time ("assembly line" style), but it was about 30 minutes of actual time spent mixing paint and applying it. There was drying time in between, but I'm not going to count that. The reason being that I spent drying time working on other projects at the same time.


If you've made it this far, thanks! I'm planning to keep these relatively short and work my way through my backlog of unpainted models, so expect more in the near future. This being the first post in what I hope will be a continuing series, I'd love to get feedback on what would be useful in future posts.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Anyssa Ryvaal

I feel compelled to point out something amusing about the Anyssa Ryvaal model: She's got a sword on her back. Now normally this wouldn't be so interesting, and when put along with the other Raptor models since they all have swords. However Anyssa's stat card has no melee weapon listed at all. Not even the blades on her bow. She only has the bow on her stat card. Again, not necessarily odd except that the PP conversion rules are pretty clear about having to preserve the weapons of the model per the stat card. Ok, now that I've gotten that out of my system...

It's always a little challenging to get back to painting after an extended break of multiple weeks. This model was definitely no exception. Trying to pick out all the details on a larger complex model was really testing my patience. It didn't help that I ended up taking her to a tournament before she was completely finished and having some paint get rubbed/chipped off. However she's done now, and I'm moving on to some other speed painting projects to have more of a sense of accomplishment.

Friday, March 04, 2011

From the Desk: A Complete Lack of Progress

There are balances in my life. Work vs personal. Family vs hobby. Speed vs quality. Sometimes they swing towards more hobby time and this blog gets a lot of updates. Sometimes they swing the other way. Right now I'm getting very little hobby time. Anyssa is sitting on my desk, waiting to be spray sealed, and I don't have her to show yet. So instead, I have these two pictures.

The last couple days I was on a business trip. I had high hopes of getting some model trimming and assembly work done. However working dinners and wine and 1:00 am emergency calls got in the way of any hobby progress. However the trip was very fruitful. These pictures are from my hotel room. This whole month is pretty busy with business trips. And when I'm not on a trip, I'm going to be finishing the landscaping work in my back yard. So the hobby is taking a bit of a hit right now.

This is usually when I would post some philosophical exposition about the hobby and all this thinking I've been doing, but not today. Instead, just pictures, and a couple updates on projects:

Anyssa is nearly done. I'll have pictures posted of her this weekend.

I've started painting my second unit of Gun Mages. I've got an initial post ready about "Speed Painting with Quality Results" that I'm going to turn into a series. Hopefully I'll be able to start that soon.

Speed painting is about all I'm going to have time for during the month of March, so it's a good time to step back and acknowledge the "reality" of my situation. Ok, that started to get dangerously philosophical. Enjoy the pictures!