The inundated painter

Too many miniatures, and nowhere near enough spare time in which to paint them! Here I shall record the results of my efforts to bring my embarassingly large assortment of unpainted miniatures up to presentation quality.

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Step aside, Claudio...

Andrew Bird
Australia
Victoria
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Yay, an update! Sadly, I'm running out of "gee, how long since the last post?" jokes, so let's get straight to business, shall we?

Space Hulk (again)

Introducing, Brother Unguibus II, or Guibus for short (that's all I could fit on his chest scroll, alas).
Board Game: Space Hulk (Third Edition)


Standing in for Brother Claudio, Unguibus II is curently taking a sabbatical from the Imperial Fists, and helping out the Blood Angels in their Hulk-scouring duties. Yeah, I know that Space Marines don't generally mix chapters, particularly on Space Hulk missions, but hey, it's my game, I wanted to experiment with different colours, and I'll paint whatever I damn well please.


In case you're wondering: yes, there was a preceding Unguibus the first. I had him all assembled and ready to prime...
From gallery of birdman37

... but he didn't survive the priming process. I was trying out a new primer: Daemonic Yellow spray primer from Army Painter. Now, I've got a number of these "pre-coloured" primers from Army Painter, and up until recently I would have been content to sing their praises from the highest rooftop. Priming a figure in the main colour that you're planning to use saves you (well, me at least) a good 1 - 2 hours, as it bypasses the need for a base coat on a lot of the model. Their red primer is fantastic, and I have four nicely painted Blood Angels to show for it. However, this yellow primer, for whatever reason, was just not going on particularly well. Very faint coverage, lots of missed areas, and I'm afraid I got a little too impatient with it all. I leaned right in, to give the trouble spots a quick blast from close range, and...

SPLAT!

Big thick globs of yellow goo covering over all of the detail. Poor dude resembled a snowman more than a Space Marine. I then panicked, and plopped him into a jar of turps to try and strip it off (it was an enamel paint after all), but guess what? Turps and plastic - not a good combo. He literally melted in front of me, his once proud claws wilting like ten day old celery stalks. And that was it, he was an irrecoverable mess.

So yeah, a harsh lesson was learned that day: always, always keep a 10-15cm minimum distance between the spray nozzle and the mini.

After an obligatory period of mourning (being the precise amount of time it takes to assemble a new Terminator model from scratch, interspersed with a bit of grizzling), I was ready to give Unguibus II a try.
From gallery of birdman37


Despite being burned the first time, I elected to give the Yellow Primer another shot. This time around, I forced myself not to care too much if some areas weren't getting as evenly covered as others, as long as the model had at least some primer on all areas, I'd be happy enough with that, and make up the difference with brush-on paint. This approach served me well, and Unguibus II survived the priming process with his details intact.

Of course, what I hadn't factored in was that I didn't have a yellow brush-on paint that matched the exact colour of the primer, so in the end I gave it up as a bad joke, and just brushed on a layer of Iyanden Darksun. The primer did its job - the paint stuck very well to it, but I'd gone way past the point of saving time by using a coloured primer. Ah well, you win some, you lose some.

To keep at least some consistency with my existing Blood Angels, I decided to follow the exact same colours for his Crux Terminatus (left shoulder pad and right knee). Other than that, yellow all the way, with red trimmings, blue gems/lenses and a bit of metal for the cables and gubbins. And just to mix things up a bit, I reversed the yellow/red scheme on the power claw forearms.

So, in excruciating detail, the stages were:

Stage 1
Yellow - Basecoat of Iyanden Darksun then washed with Gryphonne Sepia
Red - Mechrite Red, then a wash of Baal Red
Metal - Boltgun Metal
Parchment - Khemri Brown
Crux - Codex Grey and Scorched Brown mix (2:1)
Lenses/Gems - Necron Abyss
Claws - Necron Abyss / Boltgun Metal mix (3:1)
Fist Guards - Undercoat Black

Stage 2
Yellow - Iyanden Darksun over the majority of the areas again, leaving only the deeper recesses still in shadow
Red - ditto with Mechrite Red
Metal - Badab Black wash
Parchment - Devlan Mud washed into the recesses
Crux - Scorched Brown and Chaos Black mix (2:1) wash
Lenses/Gems - Regal blue, covering only the bottom half
Claws - heavy drybrush of Necron Abyss / Boltgun Metal mix (2:1)

FYI, at this point, he pretty much looked like this:
From gallery of birdman37


Stage 3
Yellow - Sunburst yellow over roughly 70% of the raised areas, with a combination of wet-blending and drybrushing to get it to blend into the darker shade (with varying degrees of success).
Red - ditto with Blood Red
Metal - Chainmail highlights
Parchment - Bleached Bone
Crux - layer of Codex Grey then Fortress Grey line highlight
Lenses/Gems - Ultramarines blue, covering only the bottom quarter
Claws - lighter drybrush of Necron Abyss / Boltgun Metal mix (1:1)

Stage 4
Yellow - Flash Gitz Yellow line highlight
Red - Blazing Orange line highlight
Metal - Mithril Silver line highlight
Parchment - Skull White then add text in Scorched Brown
Crux - line highlight of Space Wolves Grey
Lenses/Gems - Thin line of Ice Blue on the very bottom, and a dot of Skull White up top.
Claws - very light drybrush of Mithril Silver at the very tips.
Fist Guards - line highlight of Codex Grey / Undercoat Black (1:2)

And there you have it. An Imperial Fist slide-on decal for the right shoulder pad, and Bob's your uncle. If I'm not terribly proud of my speed, I'm at least pretty chuffed with the end result once I do manage to finish something.

Thanks for reading, and hopefully it (really, truly) won't be too long until I update again with my first wave of finished Genestealers. Unguibus II was essentialy a bit of a "variety" break to keep me sane from all the repetition of painting a horde of the exact same miniatures the exact same colours. Anyway, back I go, nose to the grindstone...
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Fri Aug 9, 2013 2:17 pm
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Another year, another pile of unpainted miniatures...

Andrew Bird
Australia
Victoria
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Hi all,

I'm back again, once more after quite a long hiatus. As you might suspect, due to that inconvenient thing known as Real Life, I've had to put my painting hobby on the back-burner for a while. And trouble is (with me at least), once my mobile painting workbench is all packed away in the shed, it becomes harder and harder with each passing day to get it back out again. And so, here we are, with just over six months having passed since my last blog post!

So what has rekindled my interest, you might ask? A nice big box arriving on my doorstep, of course: the first wave of my Dreadball Kickstarter rewards! On time and everything. Say what you like about Kickstarter, but in this particular case, Mantic Games have so far done an excellent job of keeping to their promised delivery schedule. (At least, for me. I've heard on the forums of a few people getting theirs late or being missed completely, but I'll hope on their behalf that it all gets sorted shortly.) My only regret about this whole thing is that in retrospect, I realised that I'd spent a rather shocking amount of money getting quite a few unnecessary extras, when I probably could (and should) have got by with just the basic "Striker" pledge level. Or, you know, just waited for it to appear in stores, and get it at a discount...

Ah well, the evolving state of games marketing is what it is, and my poor impulse control is certainly neither Kickstarter nor Mantic's fault. In any case, I have every confidence that the remainder of my ordered goodies will arrive in due course. And having played a couple of "test" games with LEGO proxies, I can at least confirm that the game is a lot of fun!
From gallery of birdman37


OK, that's enough introspection, this is a painting blog! Now, truth to tell, I was on the verge of canning this blog in favour of just getting on with the damn painting. It's not like my extremely sporadic insights will be sorely missed, and an evening spent ranting on the keyboard is one less evening spent getting on with the job at hand. But, as chance would have it, after posting my image of the completed Ref-bot, I was inundated with requests* asking me how I did it. And so, to guard against having to repeat myself on the off-chance that I get inundated with further requests, I'll post my methods here for all and sundry to review or ignore at their leisure.

First off, the bases. I was a little bit disappointed with the hex bases that came with the game, as they were just a little bit too clunky for my tastes. So, being the idiot that I am, I decided to create yet more work for myself, and whipped up some custom bases for the figures.
From gallery of birdman37


I super-glued some little metal discs to the figures. You can get them from any Australian bank, and they'll give you 20 of them for a dollar - bargain! The coins being slightly wider that the existing bases, I then padded out the gap with a doughnut of green stuff. I sculpted it to be flush with the top of the base, and then once hardened, I trimmed the resultant bulge over the side to be flush with the rounded edge of the coin.

After that, it was priming with Citadel Chaos Black spray. As you might suspect from the above picture, I did the Orx team, the Ref and Number 88 all in one go. I then proceeded with the Ref, mainly as a means of procrastinating while I agonised over what colour scheme to paint the Orx.

I decided to follow the colour scheme done by Golem Painting Studio, which meant white body plates over a metallic skeleton. The skeleton and wheels I base-coated with Boltgun Metal**, followed with a Badab Black wash, and a final highlight of Chainmail on the raised bits.

After that came the body plates, which I base-coated with a very light grey (Fortress Grey, to be precise). For the wash, I was a little bit hesitant at first. Badab Black would be too strong, and all my other pre-made "lighter" washes were of a brown-y nature, which was not what I wanted. In the end, I dug out an old pot of Tamiya Smoke from the shed, and this diluted with a bit of Lahmian Medium (1:1 mix) did the trick!

With the wash dried, I then re-applied the Fortress Grey over the majority of the raised areas of the body plates, leaving only the deeper crevices showing the darker wash. I then mixed 1:1 Fortress Grey with Skull White, and carefully layered/blended it over roughly 60-80% of the total area. Wet palettes are your friend in this respect - aside from keeping the paint from drying, they also tend to thin the paint with a bit of water as well, which is just what you need when blending/layering. The final layer was full, unmixed Skull White, blended in to around 30-40% of the total area, and well as a teeny bit of edge highlighting around the more prominent edges. All in all, it was quite a lot of effort to achieve something that looks basically white, but I guess the key is in the word "basically". I'm by no means an expert painter, but I've seen enough to know that sometimes, subtle shades are what you're after, as opposed to extreme and obvious shading/highlighting. Particularly with white.

The front eyes I did with green, and the back eyes were done in red. I tried as hard as I could to achieve the "gem" affect (darker shade up top, blended to a lighter shade on bottom, and a dot of light up top to set it off), but bugger me, those eyes are freakin' tiny! I had better luck with this technique on some Space Marine Terminators, but their eyes were just that much bigger, and not to mention a bit better defined (GW's hard plastic vs Mantic's restic, meh). Still, I at least got the white dot in, so it looks OK. At that point, I was happy enough, so I slapped some paint on the base that I thought matched the game board, including the world's crudest and most gaudy edge highlight, and called it a day.
Board Game: DreadBall: The Futuristic Sports Game


The next day, I decided that all that white, while nice and subtle, was just a little too boring. Looking back to the reference pic from Golem Studios, I noticed that they incorporated some checkered stripes along a couple of edges. I didn't copy the exact pattern, as it would most likely have driven me insane. I swear, Golem Studios must employ pixies in order to achieve the level of detail that they do! So instead I went for some checkered stripes in slightly easier-to-get-at areas (and much larger squares). I pencilled in the squares first with a .3mm pencil, then got out my smallest brush and painstakingly coloured them all in with good ol' Undercoat Black!

At this point, I looked at the base again, and winced at the colour choices. I got out the game board, put the mini on it, and winced even more. I then scoured my paint collection, and discovered that I had no paint that even closely resembled the blue-green colour of the board. So, board in hand, off I went to my local Games Workshop distributor, and came back with some paints from the new range: Incubi Darkness and Sotek Green. Incubi Darkness was a perfect match for the darker hexes of the board, so I used that for the edge of the base. Sotek Green went on top, and while a little bit light, it didn't look too bad.
From gallery of birdman37


Of course, having got this far, I couldn't resist one final tweak, and decided to try again with the top of the base, mixing 1:1 Incubi Darkness and Sotek Green. And voila, the perfect colour match!
From gallery of birdman37


And there you have it: the inarguable star of the show (she features in every game, don't you know) done and dusted. Next up, I'm most likely going to tackle the Humans, as I've decided on a colour scheme for them, while I'm still completely undecided what colour scheme to paint the Greenskins with! In any case, many thanks for reading, and here's hoping that it's not another six months until the next update, hey?

* Oh, all right: request, singular.
** Be aware, most of these colours are all now-obsolete Games Workshop colours.
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Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:52 am
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Space Hulk test models (a.k.a. Doom procrastination)

Andrew Bird
Australia
Victoria
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Howdy all,

DooM

Well, I have not been completely idle these past weeks, and have indeed made progress on the DooM mancubus figures that I promised to finish in the previous post:

From gallery of birdman37


I've done my best to produce a "rusty" effect on their rocket launchers, and although it certainly could be better, I'm pretty happy with it for a first attempt. So as of now, the fleshy bits* have been washed with GW Devlan Mud (my supply of which, alas, is rapidly diminishing, with no easy means of replacement - curse you GW!), with a further wash of Baal Red where the flesh joins the machinery, to produce a red/sore/bloody effect for the joins. I imagine that Hell's team of cybernetic surgeons are not renowned for their subtlety, after all!

What remains is to build up lighter and lighter highlights for the flesh areas from the washes, dot the eyes, and I'll be done. However, I've stalled a bit on this task, partly because I'm a little daunted. My shading/highlighting method is pretty crude when you look at it closely, because it's mainly just distinct blocks of flat colour, made progressively smaller as I go from dark to light, culminating in the final "edge" highlight. But because the models themselves are quite darn small, it looks just fine.

These guys, however, are my first "big-atures", and to make things worse, rather than being ripped with intricate musculature like the demons (i.e. lots of interesting little bumps that can be picked out), they're big fat flabby lumps, which means lots of large, featureless, smooth areas. Flat blocks of shading on these guys will stick out like a sore thumb just because the areas are so darn large, so I need to come up with a suitable means of dealing with this. Maybe dry-brushing? Maybe wet-blending with heavily watered-down paint? Something, anyway. So, I've sort of stalled at this point, until I can think of a way forward.

* Which on these guys is pretty much the whole damn body

Space Hulk

In the meantime, I've gone and pleasantly distracted myself with a different game, one of the many on my to-do list: Space Hulk! Presenting, Sergeant Percival and Brother Zachariah. Say hi, boys!

Board Game: Space Hulk (Third Edition)


You won't see these guys anywhere on the box. They're way too boring, after all. Look at them, facing forward, guns pointing in the same direction they are looking, and even a square base to remove the last possible vestige of doubt about which way they're facing on the board. Boo-ring! They make a complete mockery of the half-page in the rulebook that is dedicated to telling you how to determine which direction their "kung-fu-fighting" battle brothers are actually facing.

So why bother with such paltry, uninteresting miniatures at all? Because, while my DooM mancubii may have me a little bit daunted at the moment, when I cracked open Space Hulk, those minis had me downright terrified! The level of detail on those dudes is utterly insane. So much so, that I went out and splurged on a box of vanilla WH40K terminators, to use as practice models before even clipping the "proper" Space Hulk marines from the sprue.

Of course, I realise now that I was over-reacting, (and truthfully, probably just looking for an excuse to buy more cool-looking toy soldiers). Nonetheless, the fact remains that I have a surplus of Space Marine Terminators hanging around the house, so I decided to make the best of a silly situation, and actually practice on them.

I mostly followed the official GW painting guide, which I printed out from their website. Alas, the online version has long since disappeared, so I'll reproduce the text here for anyone who's interested. (This is mainly for my own reference, so feel free to skip over if reading about different types of obsolete paint isn't really your idea of a fun time.)

Stage 1
Red - Basecoat of Blood Red then washed with Baal Red
Gold - Shining Gold with watered-down Scorched Brown washed into the recesses
Silver - Boltgun Metal
Parchment - Khemri Brown
Crux - Codex Grey and Scorched Brown mix (2:1)
Green Lenses - Knarloc Green
Blue Lenses - Ultramarines Blue
Purity seal - Liche Purple
Gems (of which these two guys have none) - Chaos Black

Stage 2
Red - Wash Dark Flesh and Chaos Black mix (2:1) into the recesses
Gold - Shining Gold
Silver - Badab Black wash
Parchment - Devlan Mud washed into the recesses
Crux - Scorched Brown and Chaos Black mix (2:1) wash
Green Lenses - Thakra Green wash
Blue Lenses - Asurmen Blue wash
Purity seal - Leviathan Purple wash
Gems Warlock Purple and Chaos Black mix (3:1)

Stage 3
Red - Blazing Orange line highlight
Gold - Burnished Gold
Silver - Chainmail
Parchment - Bleached Bone
Crux - layer of Codex Grey then Fortress Grey line highlight
Green Lenses - Knarloc Green and Bleached Bone mix (1:2)
Blue Lenses - Layer of Ultramarine Blue and Ice Blue mix (1:1) then an Ice Blue highlight
Purity seal - Liche Purple and Fortress Grey mix (1:1)
Gems Warlock Purple

Stage 4
Red - Vomit Brown line highlight
Gold - Mithril Silver
Silver - Mithril Silver
Parchment - Skull White then add text in Scorched Brown
Crux - line highlight of Space Wolves Grey
Green Lenses - Bleached Bone
Blue Lenses - Skull White
Purity seal - Fortress Grey
Gems Warlock Purple and skull white mix (1:1) then a dot of Skull White

Quite the who's who of paint in that list (or more accurately, "who used to be who"), hey? I wonder if Games Workshop doesn't have some sort of ulterior motive for producing painting guides with such a massive range of recommended colours... whistle Ah well, at least now I hardly ever need to go out and buy a new pot of paint.

As mentioned, I mostly followed the guide to the letter, with a couple of major differences. The main one was that Sergeant Percy was primed with Skull White spray, and then painted with the base of Blood Red as per the guide. Whereas Brother Zach was primed with a non-GW spray (heresy!): Pure Red from Army Painter. If you look carefully in the photo, you can see that Percy's armour is just that little bit more brighter than Zach's, but the difference is not dramatic, and spraying with a Red primer saves me a good hour or so of painting, so yay.

There was one other rather significant (and almost heart-stopping) deviation from the official guide. Stage 2 Red said "Wash [really dark paint mixture] into the recesses". Well, said paints weren't actually washes per se, so I assumed that I was supposed to thin them down a bit with water. In actual fact, I used a great new paint product (I did say I "hardly ever" bought new paints, right?): Lahmian Medium, which is essentially a clear pot of paint with no pigment added. Fantastic for producing your own washes. Sadly, I had absolutely no idea what ratio of paint:medium to use, so I mixed it by eye, thought it looked "good enough", and splashed it onto my lovely red armour.

Yeah. So, tip for the wise: when in doubt while mixing your own washes, use more medium rather than less. My Blood Angels were now Mud Angels.
cry

So, I was forced to add a step 2.5:
Red - Generous layering of Blood Red to re-establish the original freakin' colour.

But in the end, they turned out all right, and I learned a valuable lesson. I'm particularly chuffed with the writing on the parchment, done in freehand I'll have you know! I did, however, cheat a little with the numerals on their kneepads, the skull on Brother Zach's power fist, and the blood drop on his solar plexus mini-shield. But hey, the Terminator box came with a sheet of slide-on decals, it would have been more of a sin not to use them, I reckon.

My main criticisms would be that I was a little heavy handed with the final line highlight on the armour, and I should have taken the time to cut the excess clear edge off of the decals, but other than that, I'm really quite pleased with how these guys turned out.

And you know what? The funny thing is, I think I'd almost prefer to play the game with these guys, with their plain, simple, no-nonsense stances, rather than their over-rated, jewelry-encrusted, strike-a-pose brothers. After all, I still have a few more "practice" models hanging around, no sense in wasting them...

Heh. Call me foolish if you like, but hey:
1) I'm a grown man who spends his spare time painting little toy soldiers. That's hardly news to me.
2) You're the one reading about it. So who's the more foolish?



Thanks for reading,
Andrew.
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Mon Jul 16, 2012 2:53 pm
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