Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Tutorial: Dealing with tiny feet in basing

So there I was, putting together some minis for a client when I came across a common problem: Tiny, tiny feet on a model that needs to be glued directly to the base. Now, I know how to solve this problem and it's fairly straightforward, hence, a small tutorial. A tutorial-ette if you will.

A join is only as strong as its contact area allows it to be. That's why those slottabases or cast-on discs that most miniatures use are useful. They allow for a small foot while also giving a firm footing. Equally, in plastic it is less of an issue. The welding effect of the polystyrene cement makes for a strong join even with small contact areas. The model above? That is not plastic - nor is it resin for that matter - it's that restic stuff that a few manufacturers use. It can't be glued with polystyrene cement. That leaves only brittle, brittle superglue, and that needs special treatment.

So we've got a cleaned up miniature. You'll want to do some test fitting to see how the model stands best. You don't want to be pinning both feet so look for the one that is the "leading" foot: the one with the most weight on it. That will be the flattest on the floor so the best contact area.

Using a pin vice, aim into the bulk of the leg and drill away. You'll be wanting about a 4-5mm hole, any shallower and it won't resist shearing forces properly and won't work. For some models - especially female ones - this will be tough. I've replaced stiletto heels with a pin before in order to find enough surface area to drill into.

While you've got the pin vice out. Drill a hole into the base where the foot will lie, see? Those test fittings were useful. Shows you where to drill. If you've got a fancy solid cast resin base you can just drill all the way through and insert a wire through it like normal pinning. For the hollow plastic bases, you need another approach. I've tried using modelling putty, filler, all sorts, but the best and fastest way is to bend a length of paperclip wire into an 'L'-shape. Be generous with the length. It's a paperclip, so cheap as to be virtually free. Don't risk the join failing for a few mm of paperclip. Oh, and use bare metal paperclips, not those plastic wrapped ones. The plastic isn't properly adhered to the wire. It'll be like gluing to a painted surface, only as strong as the paint bond to the primer.

Push the wire through the base from underneath, then, using a generous amount of superglue, glue that sucker down. Superglue gap-fills on distances less than a mm or so, thus the generous amount helps to form a firmer bond. Usually this isn't the case, small amounts and very close bonds are how to make superglue be your friend. This is a round wire being glued to a flat sheet of plastic. It needs some extra help.

Now, dry-fit your model onto the wire. The amount sticking out between the foot and the base is the excess you need to cut off. Remove the model from the wire and trim down the wire by the amount sticking out. Once this is done just put superglue on the wire and the feet and stick it down.

And there you go! Like I say, this is straightforward, but I've got the process down to a fine art now and like they say: "It's only simple when you know how". With the increasing popularity of models in things like board games (this chap is from Shadows over Brimstone) but without the design experience that wargames manufacturers have, I foresee more of this kind of thing coming up. Now the knowledge is out in the world. Go forth, and break off your minis no more.


Thursday, 13 October 2016

Supreme Generalissimo Guardsman!

Hi folks, quick one for you today, the conversion from back here has now been finished.

Client asked for blue jacket and red trousers with a gold stripe. The longer this combination went on for, the more it looked to me like the sort of thing dictators in South America (or a Gaddafi/Idi Amin type) would wear. So in my head he became the Supreme Generalissimo for the duration of the painting.

The camera - or more likely, me - struggled to get both the blue and the red saturated at the same time so you'll have to use a little imagination. Getting this scheme to balance was something of a challenge. There's three saturated primary colours here. Mercifully he'd asked for the gold stripe on the trouser leg which helped a lot. Played with a number of options for things like the cuff colours - seriously, nothing else but blue with a thin gold stripe worked there - and the shirt. The shirt was a real problem. Tried white - way too bright and called attention to the wrong part of the model; grey - looked unpainted; and a pastel blue - nope; before realising I was going the wrong way and tried a military khaki. Perfect. It disappears into the busy scheme and reinforces the soldier-inside-the-dandy look that we have going on.

Another thing that I found fun was making his very, very strange haircut work. Largely through making sure that I treated the shorn back of his head in the same way you would stubble. That is: thin washes of a skin-black-brown-grey mix and then rehighlighting with very thin skin tone. Seemed to work nicely. Happy with how he turned out and he's wildly different to his more, shall we say Hugo Boss German looking counterpart. Fun project. More shinies soon.


Saturday, 8 October 2016

Flektarn Assault Unit

Hi folks, bit of a blast from the past today, the very last of the Flecktarn guardsmen for a long term client, and these guys are getting up close and personal.

Unlike most of the other Flecktarn lads (they have a real name but I've forgotten it, plus, I tend to identify by paint job) these chaps are toting shotguns and some additional armour here and there. As they are something of a hodgepodge of different parts it gives them that "veterans who have scavved gear here, there and everywhere" look. Finish it off with a sergeant toting a plasma pistol and chainsword and you've got a squad designed to work almost on top of the enemy.

I've talked about painting the flektarn camo before but it's worth mentioning again how nicely it turns out for a "simple" but laborious scheme. It's just layers of blobs and dots in four different shades given a brown wash for shading. It is true that it represents nine stages to do it, but none of those stages are terribly onerous. It just takes a lot of time.

The olive drab webbing and German grey armour plates/equipment take care of almost all the rest of the models. Any tiny details (the occasional cuff, the sergeant's stripes) got picked out in German fieldgrey to keep the theme rolling. With these, I believe the long running on-and-off project Flektarn is done and done. Been fun in a "just keep swimming" sort of way :)

More shinies soon.


Friday, 30 September 2016

Hail Hydrant!

Greetings one and all, please forgive my absence, it's been one of Those Septembers. The planets aligned and everything in RealWorld(tm) seemed to happen all at once. But I am back now and with a totally-not-a Hugo Weaving to show for it!

As is usual for subtle blacks... the camera hated it but I've done my best in post! This is the painted version of the chap we were converting a little while ago. He's quite clearly supposed to be a pre-Red Skull "Johann Schmidt" of Captain America fame. Hence the:

...in the title. Client wanted him to fit in with some previous Imperial chappies so that's how he got painted. Speaking of which:

He was fairly straightforward to complete. The black is my usual German Grey, highlighted, washed with black and rehighlighted. The leather was Flat Brown mixed with a little black and washed at the same time as the rest of him. Again, go back to the original mix and lighten it for highlights. A couple of dark green accents and a teeny, tiny suggestion of an aquilla in a white disc on the arm and all is good. His face gave me some trouble as the sculptor had gotten a bit excited on the expression and it was anything but nuanced. I had to go back and forth with shades making the flesh feel less "lumpy". But still, he's done! His friend is still on the painting table - and is getting a significantly more Generalissimo vibe - and will be with us soon. Oh, and the long slow assembly/conversion project is still being long and slow. Soon!

All the best folks.


Sunday, 11 September 2016

Alright, but dogs CAN look up!

There I was, looking through some really cases that I hadn't opened in quite some while (you know how it is) and found a model languishing in there that I had all but forgotten about.

Yep, it's Ed! Waaay back in - oh dear god, 2013 - I painted Hasslefree mini's "totally not Shaun of Shaun of the Dead" and I started his "totally not Ed" friend too. Then one thing or another happened and he got put in a case for transport/storage/some reason. The other day I found I found him and discovered that the mighty quantity of work required to finish him was... a spade, a hat and his shoes... WHY DID I NOT JUST FINISH IT AT THE TIME? Sheesh. So I took a half hour and finished him off.

I've finally realised what the pleasure I get at doing these Cathode Ray Conquerer type miniatures is. It's not an expectation of ever really using them, it's a kind of cosplay. I like trying to match the scheme from the movie (which is why the shape of the spade caused me pain ;) ). With Ed, he's mostly the beige T-shirt with "I've Got Wood" on it - expand the image, it's there - and some jean shorts. Quickest way to get sculpted trousers to look like blue jeans not just blue trousers? Add the orange stitching and raised seam. It's barely visible in photos but it gives the correct impression. You'll notice I'm not giving too many colour details on this... it was three years ago, gimme a break...

Details help with this sort of project. This Ed is less a single moment from the film but a bit of a montage of his character, the "bench" cap from the electro sequence (yeah, I tried the 90's Bench logo and then just left a suggestion of red), the mobile phone (added a suggestion of buttons and screen) and the spade. I used weathering pigments damped down with odourless turps to give bulk to the dirt. It's little things like all of that and the tiny red swooshes on his trainers that help finish a miniature cosplay project like this. Lots of fun, and now I have the dynamic duo for both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Cornetto?

So what's the oldest model you haven't finished hanging around? I don't mean abandoned projects, I mean something you actually want finished but for some reason is hanging around unloved. As you might have guessed from this post I am working on a slow assembly/conversion project at the moment (which is so shiny and indeed so chrome) so little breaks to finish old stuff is a nice treat. More shinies soon.


Tuesday, 23 August 2016

For Myrmidia, Averland and the Blazing Suns!

It's been a while since we've seen any of my own work (rather than commissions) so galloping over the hills come my latest addition to my Empire army, the Blazing Sun Knights.

The Blazing Suns are a knightly order of the Empire in the service of Myrmidia, goddess of strategy and war. She's very much a southern Empire/Tilean goddess, in the north much of her role is taken by Ulric. Given that Averland is very much in the south of the Empire, having a contingent of them seemed like a winner. Plus, Charlie also has a unit of Blazing Suns in his army and I wanted the political problem of brother knights on both sides of a civil war!

The models are a bit different to the regular run-of-the-mill Empire knights, they've had the heads replaced with Outrider heads - a significant improvement on the original - and I wanted Tilean-esque shields for another point of visual difference with the usual Empire "heater" shield shape. These were ancient Greek shields nicked off've one of Warlord Games Grecian sprues.

The shields are the most obvious parts of the models so we'll take a look at them first. Grecian shields being big flat areas, they rather cry out for some freehand work on them. The symbol of the Blazing Suns is, well, the blazing sun... but we've also used the Grecian style helm seen on depictions of Myrmidia as a symbol for the order. I mixed the two symbols about evenly through the unit and I think it added a nice touch of variety to the otherwise very uniform unit.

The symbols also repeat on That Banner. Let me say this: This banner can do one. It really can. It's a complete git to paint and I'm glad I've only got the one in the army. I added some of the Empire not-quite-Maltese crosses to the end of the pennant to finish off the design.

Other than the shields, painting wise, these models are fairly straightforward. Brass armour for that Blazing Sun bling, black and brass horse armour to prevent them being one giant gold-ish blob and the usual Averland colours on the cloth to indicate the allegiance of their chapter.

These have been a slow unit to complete, I think I started them about six months ago and every now and again I'd do a few layers and then put them aside again. However, for all the dear-gods-why of some of the freehand pain, I love this unit. They've got a lot of character and whilst clearly still being Empire knights they stand apart from the usual unit look. I like 'em!

More shinies soon,


Monday, 15 August 2016

Totally not an X-man, promise...

Heya folks, we're here again with a quick shiny for you, this time another cracking Hasslefree sculpt:

This one is Jynx, although I quickly began thinking of her as Scarlet Witch and had to work hard not to just go ahead and paint her like that! The concession to my mental picture was the glowing red eyes...

This one is part of the Green and Yellow gang that the Gunslinger and the Special Forces Dude belong to. So she needed a predominant green and black vibe with a touch of yellow thrown in. The yellow was going to be a problem for this model. Anywhere I looked the yellow wasn't going to work. Then I had a moment of inspiration. I could make the leather jacket more of a motorbike jacket and use some of the bright contrast patterning that's popular on bike leathers. This had the effect of making her even more of an X-man but worked nicely for getting that linking spot colour in. By the way, the dress is more intensely green but the camera said "no" to getting both the red and the green balanced and I don't like digitally manipulating just a part of the picture, feels like cheating!

Speaking of red, we need to natter about the face, she was in such an obvious "spellcasting" pose that I wanted something to indicate her power rather than just looking like a natty dancer. Glowing eyes fit the bill nicely. As usual, Object Source Lighting (OSL) is done mostly by building up layers of thin glazes. The trick is mostly where you do not light more than where you do. I talked about the basics of choosing a radius for the illumination etc waaaay back in 2011 (christ, 2011...) with my Blood Angels Librarian. The consideration here was realising where the face would be in "shadow" from the OSL, she reslly did not look right until I'd carefully rehighlighted the bridge of the nose and the brow. The light was spilling out rather than illuminating. I also made sure that the inside of her hair-do caught some light too, radius of illumination y'see?

That's all folks for another post, more shinies soon.