Monday, April 28, 2014

From the Desk: Weekend Roundup #51

Apparently I haven't done one of these for 7 weeks now. Whoops!

Lots has been happening on my desk. I got a bunch of Shredders, Harriers and Stingers assembled and primed. There are more almost ready, but I haven't counted them as critical for L&L so they got bumped in priority. These ones here are the ones that I got trimmed to the best I could and may turn them into competition level squad stuff with a Beast Mistress. It all depends on how quickly I can get things done. If nothing else, I'm glad to have some more lesser beasts on my desk for painting in between other projects.

Speaking of the Beast Mistress, here's her current state. Lots of work got done. There's still work to do, specifically I need to seal and then highlight the metals. Before I do that though I'm bringing it around in person to my friends and getting feedback. I'll try to post that feedback on Wednesday to share. And of course, anyone can left me their thoughts here as well.

Finally, I distracted myself with painting Maxwell Finn just for kicks. He's probably about 70% done at this point. This is sort of a precursor to a future project but I won't spoil those details here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

RtC: Beast Mistress progress

Just a quick post of where I'm at with the first Beast Mistress. I'm really enjoying this model despite some of the fussy details that need more patience.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

RtC: 7 Weeks till L&L

I'm totally tricking myself here by thinking it's 7 weeks. To be exact, there are 7 weeks until I'll be on the road driving to L&L. In between then and now I have many days that I won't be getting any painting work done. And ideally I'd like to be wrapped up 2 weeks early so I can go to KublaCon.
So here's the progress on the Gnarlhorn. Pretty pathetic really. I just finished the sculpting of the tree trunk and then put some black basecoating for the metallic parts.
The first Beast Mistress on the other hand got far more work done. I spent about 2 hours painting while my compatriots were facing off in battle. I love this sculpt, but having a first one to "practice" on before doing a competition one is definitely going to help immensely. There are some unique aspects to the sculpt that are a bit tricky to deal with paint-wise.
I've been toying a lot more with posting images to this blog directly from my phone in the hopes that while I'm at L&L I can post up a bunch of pictures of the many cool things to be seen.

Well, back to work work, and hopefully more evening progress on both of these projects.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stingers (take 2)

Super quick post of the Stingers I finished the other night. No special comments. Just slowly working my way towards my goal for Lock and Load.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

RtC: Gnarlhorn Basing

So lots of stuff happening on my paint desk, but this is one of the most significant things. I got the rest of the base prepped. More work happened after this picture, but I wanted to share this one since it shows the main Gnarlhorn model actually sitting on it. It took a lot of work to get it where I wanted and such that I could also include the tree behind him. Fortunately the layer of pink insulation foam made the process of positioning the model easier.
I also got a couple Stingers finished, got started on the first Beast Mistress, and a bunch of work in assembling Shredders.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

8 Weeks To Go

With only 8 weeks before Lock&Load, I'm facing down a pretty big painting goal. I've stripped out all of the Malifaux projects in favor of just wrapping up my competition entries and my unpainted Legion backlog. Last night while my friends got a game in (where Skorne crushed Convergence), I spent the time trimming a bunch of parts. This picture shows the fruits of my labor.
As you may or may not be able to make out, this is 2 Beast Mistresses, 2 Stingers, 4 Harriers and 10 Shredders. I've taken the time to separate out the Beast Mistresses very carefully here. Specifically I was looking for which of the pieces between the two were the best castings and easiest to clean up. I really like these models and wanted to use one for a competition entry and this is a convenient way to save myself some time rather than going an extra mile on a casting that needs way more work. Ironically, both of these castings were quite good. It was relatively hard to decide which one is better but I've mixed and matched the best parts to a single model.

In order to keep myself on track, I've updated my "Models on Deck" tracker on the side of this blog to track what I have left to finish before Lock&Load. In 8 weeks it'll probably be a tally board of shame.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Class Review: Scenic Basing with Seth Amsden

This last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a basing workshop given by Seth Amsden. The aim was to impart Seth's techniques and thought process on how he builds scenic bases, particularly plinths, for the projects he works on. My review here won't do justice to the class, so instead I'm going to dump some of the photos from the class and then just dump all of my random notes here for reference. Let me just comment first that Seth was a great teacher and a remarkable artist. He put a strong emphasis on using reference photos, especially taking pictures of the places where he collects basing materials from.

Photo Dump Section!

Example base from Seth. This one was a great example of a classic scenic base.

Another example. This one started as a chunk of wood. And yes, he painted the wood to make it look like wood.

My base after 3 hours of work. Obviously not primed. I was creating a little scene where someone created a small makeshift foxhole. We'll see if I end up using this for a real project or not. It doesn't look like much here for 3 hours of work, but this is actually a huge leap forward from anything I've done before. I tried to incorporate all the elements and techniques that Seth showed us previously to make sure I had absorbed the understanding.

Seth painting his example base. This was a unique sort of experience to watch. He first primed it black, then did a directional white primer coat to set lighting direction. Then to paint it he dunked the whole thing in water and proceeded to put paint straight from the droppers in a bunch of places. Then he used a fairly large brush (probably a 4 or 5) and washed and blended the paint around. The whole thing stayed wet. The philosophy here is that it creates a color harmony over the larger area and the wet on wet allows the primer coat to show through a bit which automagically creates highlights as well. He used blue-greys on the stones and browns on the earth parts. The net result was sort of a classic Mike McVey 2-step process that goes from base coat to magical highlights and shading in a single step. For me this was a massive "Ah ha!" moment though for painting larger bases like this.

Note Dump Section!
So here's a dump of all the notes I scribbled down. If you're curious for more details, just post a comment and I'll explain in more detail.
  • Yellow Milliput is the best to use for basing due to it's "grit" level.
  • Combine yellow Milliput and Green Stuff (60/40 ratio) as a good working putty for basing. Mix each separately then combine and mix. The green stuff gives it more working time, and the Milliput makes it harder. Adding just a touch of water helps in the whole mixing process too.
  • The above mixture is great for making banners too. Roll out a thin sheet of it and press a cotton t-shirt into it slightly to give it some texture.
  • After mixing the Milliput and Green Stuff, mix in some of the long static grass (the 2" length stuff) into the mix. Then tear off chunks and the grass will stick out of the putty like tiny roots. It also creates a nice natural texture to the putty on the torn edge. I can't express how much of a great tip this was. All of the residual grass sticking out of my project plinth was from that method.
  • To create a nice "receptacle" point for the model that will be added, create a little spot of putty and press the model into it.
  • When using grass tufts, use small scissors to trim them to different heights.
  • "O" scale model railroad stuff is the best scale typically.
  • When using oils, do a quick gloss seal first. Seth uses Future Floor Wax (or an equivalent) for this. The wax has a self-leveling agent that fills in the tiny pores creating a smoother surface for the oils to spread over. After finishing with oils, seal with matte sealer before proceeding since they take a long time to dry.
  • Future Floor is also good for washes since the leveling agent will help drive the wash into the recesses. It also dries really fast so it's great for quick sealing passes or washes in that respect.
  • Future is also handy for thinning inks for the above mentioned reasons.
  • "Inks before washes". I didn't get a chance to ask more about this comment.
  • Partway through the workshop, Seth gave everyone (that was relatively new to airbrushing) a ping pong ball. He said the practice exercise is to put it on a stick and try shading it like a sphere. It's apparently harder than it sounds.
  • Mix dry pigments with oils to create textured effects, like moss.
  • When working with oils, use two brushes: the first is to apply points of paint in the various places, the second clean and dry brush is for working the oil around. Oil paints tend to be fairly transparent and will let the lower layers show through better than acrylics.
  • Use mineral spirits to clean brushes after using oils.
  • Seth swears by Andrea paints.
  • Use tree/bush roots to create branches.
  • For the demo base Seth did and then again for mine, the steps went roughly like this: glue down big rocks. Add putty/grass mixture. Add branches/roots. Stuff in slate pieces, medium rocks, etc. Glue in small rocks/sand mixture.
  • Seth sometimes uses a "glue where it falls" approach. So glue down a big piece of something that can be crumbled, then lay down a layer of glue around it, then use pliers to crush it and let the crushed pieces fall into the glue. Simulates gravity and erosion all at once!

Shopping List Section!
This is just a quick shopping list of things I need to get and add to my hobby arsenal:
  • Slate tile from DIY store - Take it into the back yard with a towel and a hammer and smash it to make little slate chips. Seth's example bases both used these.
  • More glue - Especially superglue. I used a ton of it.
  • Pink Insulation Foam - I should have had this long ago, but finally I have a better reason for it.
  • Brass Etched Jungle Leaves - I bought a small pack at the store when I was there, but I see myself using far more of these in the future.
  • Superglue Accelerator - I've never seen a critical need for this, but Seth's process moved fast in assembling a larger base and there's a definite value in that.
  • Disposable Gloves - Mainly for working with Milliput. I've always hated working with Milliput before but Seth's class has turned me around. But using gloves is clearly mandatory.
  • Oil Paints - I'll probably spend more time practicing with the ones I already have, but I can see myself using these more in the future.
  • Andrea paints - I need to just find these and order some. I keep hearing how great they are.

Monday, April 07, 2014

RtC: Priming, And How Less Is More

I've heard repeatedly how it's important to not over prime models, but never stopped to test it out myself. Well going into this next "season" of competition I figured this would be a good time to test out the advice. I grabbed a couple ancient 40k models from my box of test models and tried it out. As you can see from this first photo I just gave them a very quick spray. The left model got the lightest spray treatment and the metal is clearly visible underneath. I also want to note that I didn't wash these models before priming them and didn't take time to do a really careful spray of primer. I did however use the Vallejo Surface Primer for priming. So how did things turn out...

The results are good! As you can see from these two examples, the paint goes on pretty well. I did a single coat of 1:1 thinned paint:water mix. For reference, the green is P3 Cryx Bane Base and the orange is P3 Khador Red Highlight.

Lesson learned: Definitely use thinner primer coats in the future!

Friday, April 04, 2014

RtC: Prep and Assembly

So my current competition level project is a Gnarlhorn Satyr. Why did I choose this model? I've painted one before as a favor to a friend and just really enjoyed it. This is a chance for me to paint one for myself for the display case. Since I'm not painting it to field it in an army, I won't feel the same urge to finish it as I do with most of my projects. I plan on really taking my time with this model to get it just right.

Here's my current progress:

This represents trimming, filing, more trimming and more filing, and more of that stuff until I was satisfied. I didn't go completely overboard on trimming since several of the places were very tedious and risked damaging other parts of the model. In the cases where I didn't go the extra mile it was also because I knew I could hide the problems with painting techniques. After all that trimming I scrubbed all the pieces with warm water and then did the assembly up to this point above. I'm leaving the head separate to start with due to the challenge of reaching parts of the horns and shoulders. I'll assemble it more once those parts are done. I also added a ring of green stuff in the neck area to extend his neck just a touch. This will give me more final posing options. After all this assembly was done I went back and scrubbed him again with warm soapy water to get any last bits of release agent or oils from my skin off of the surfaces. The scrubbing step is something I rarely do normally but for competition pieces I find to be a key step worth my time.

On to Priming!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014


So Tuco here was a pretty straightforward model to paint since he's mostly coat. The real challenge came in the form of picking out the details properly so that they created contrast and interest without standing out too much. I won't belabor this post too much with details but I do want to detail something specific I tried here on the coat. Specifically I brought the color range all the way from a bright orange (P3 Ember Orange) through reddish browns and down into deep greens and blues, specifically ending with a mix of P3 Cryx Bane Base and P3 Coal Black. I wanted to have deep shadows that accentuated his dark side. Everything else color-wise was chosen to create contrast and interest to the rest of the model and also try to tie into the overall Nephilim color scheme.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Lock and Load 2014

And so it begins! I'm officially registered for L&L 2014. My badge purchased, hotel reserved, and events scheduled. So what are my plans?

First, I want to enter the painting competition and do at least as well as last year. To that end I'll be posting here more frequently to keep myself motivated. I'll be doing those posts under the RtC (Road to Competition) tag again.

Next, I want to attend painting classes. I've signed up for 4 different classes that are not replays of last year classes.

Third, I want to play in the Unbound exhibition. Playing Unbound last year was a blast and we got so many nice comments from people that came by. I'd love to participate in this year's planned event if I can.

Finally, I want to play a crapton of games. I'm planning to just hang out in Iron Arena a whole bunch and play whoever is looking for a game. In particular I'd love to hit the scenario tables which I didn't do any of last year.