Wednesday, 26 October 2011

A warning to painters

Hi folks, you may have noticed that it has been a little quiet on the painting front for a few weeks, well this is why:

That thing is a wrist splint containing two aluminium bars designed to immobilise my hand and arm into a straight line. Why the hell am I wearing it? Good question, here's the saga:

About a month or so ago I started noticing stiffness in my wrist, I put this down to the long hours of painting I was doing (eight to ten hours a day some days). Yeah, take note of that, it'll get important later. Chewed down ibuprofen and called it good. Then about a month ago I had an incident where I tried to put weight through it while bent and nearly collapsed from the pain. I figured that I had pulled something - I was at an LRP event after all and minor injuries are par for the course - and once again ignored it and continued doing my days spent either with brush in hand of at a laptop keyboard and awkward trackpad (see where this is going?).

Then a fortnight ago I started noticing painful twinges in the back of my wrist when held in flexion. They weren't too bad but I resolved to keep an eye on it. Well, I didn't have to wait long, last weekend I ran an RPG game for our friends, lots of computer and trackpad use over a 6 hour period. By the end of it I was getting sharp stabs of pain that were not blunted one bit by the anti-inflammatories. Worse, the pain continued after I had stopped. I could move my fingers but if I flexed my wrist it was like getting injections. A sharp stab followed by a spreading burn. I went to the doctor.

So long story short - "too late!" - I have acute RSI tendonitis. It isn't the dread carpel tunnel syndrome (that is the underside of the wrist) but the tendons on the back of my hand and wrist have become damaged by long hours of repeated work. I associated Repetetive Strain Injury so closely with computer work that it never even occured to me that I could do myself in with a paintbrush. There is no treatment except rest for the tendons - hence the brace - and the usual handfuls of ibuprofen. I still have full use of fingers but am having to figure out how to work around the brace, especially when painting. I'm also having to cut my output considerably and work in much shorter bursts with significant breaks in between.

In summary I feel pretty dense. I am a Biomedical scientist by virtue of my degree and have spent two thirds of my life in this hobby. How I could have failed to connect the RSI dots is beyond me. Also, just because my mental stamina allows me to paint for eight straight hours does not mean that my body can even remotely keep up. Please let this be a lesson to everyone reading this. Short bursts, decent breaks, proper computer mice and rests (apparantly the using trackpads only for a year and a half didn't help) and common sense to not discount twinges. They are the bodies way of saying "please stop doing that".

There should be some pretty pictures in a few days as I am working on some personal stuff (to test out techniques with the new bionic wrist before I embark on client models) but until then, please look after yourselves.


Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Exciting news! Our shop opens!

Greetings fellow Pirate Vikings! I have exciting news! Today I launch my new webstore:

At the moment I am selling off second-hand and rare OOP figures to fund some new commercial developments that I will be of course keeping you all appraised of.

That brings me to my next point, I am sending the shop live now but only telling the world tomorrow, you guys are getting first dibs! Go my minions!


Saturday, 15 October 2011

And the Winner is....

100 Followers! The contest is on! And to determine the winner in the geekiest way possible I rolled a d100:

And the winner is follower 67: Ricalope! Please get in touch to discuss which project you would like me to work on!

I'd like to take the opportunity to thank all of you wonderful people for following the blog, you are all people of taste and discretion.


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Jen Truby's 54mm Miniatures (FoPVP)

Last time we had a look at Jen's work it was her Myrmidon Space Marines. Today we have a look at some of her best work, her 54mm Inquisitor miniatures:

Now I don't know much about these figures (hoping to get a few details from her later this week so just feast your eyes on these and enjoy:

I just love the skin tone that she achieved on this figure. Really, really smooth blending.

This figure I know is a conversion of the Barbaretta Inquisitor figure, the scanner in her hand is a 28mm scale space marine auspex and works perfectly at this larger scale.

This is a WIP picture, all that is finished is the head. But what a head! Jen really pulled all the stops out on this one.

The rich purple works so well against the bone and grey.

Never thought that glossy dark red would work! Proved wrong eh?

Now I have regularly told Jen that she is Golden Demon level, she is way to modest to agree. Tell her would you internet?


Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Flames of War Paratroopers

In a new venture for me I present the first models in my Flames of War British WW2 Paratroopers army:

I've been toying with the idea of Flames of War for a while but a recent conversation with an old friend (Gareth, better known as Dice Jesus of the blog It's Game Over Man) galvanised my interest into action. Of all the forces in WW2 it has always been the paratroopers that fascinated me the most so it was pretty much inevitable that a 6th Airborne Division army would be my choice. For those unfamiliar with Flames of War it is a platoon based wargame played with stands of 15mm models. That is roughly half the size of the models I usually paint as the next image will demonstrate:

Thank you Ms. Funnymoney, that'll be all. Obviously models of this size present their own challenges. Not least of which is the fact that the Denison smock they all wear is camouflaged... Checking the painting guide in the Turning Tide reassured me though. The only change I made to the recommended colours was to swop out Green Ochre for Khaki as it seemed to me to be a better match for the pale colour on the smock.

The overall effect is surprisingly effective for such a small scale. I deliberately did not use Battlefront Studio's highlighting style as it was far too stark for my tastes and went instead with Devlan Mud washes to add shading. As you can see I decided to push it and went for as much facial detail as I could on those models that had crisp enough casting to make it worthwhile.

I also made use of the plastic urban rubble bases. These are almost more trouble than they are worth. You have to trim the bases of the figures to fit as they are not the standard size indicated by the holes in the bases. You have to then fill the holes to level them off. Really frustrating. I won't be using them for any future Flames of War armies I do but I am kinda locked in for this army now! The extras are nice (like the wall in this one) but some of the details are really soft and poorly scaled (the umbrella for one is almost the size of a full grown man).

I like the way you can create little vignettes with the bases, the mortar crew taking cover behind a pile of rubble for instance. I didn't paint them in situ as the models would have got in the way of painting some of the details. Instead I superglued them to sticks to paint and then sliced them off when finished. Oh and my wounded left index finger would like to warn you all to use not very much superglue at all as if you glue them on seriously then you can slip and put quite a slash in your fingertip. Anyone would think I was a professional or something...

Well that's all the shots I've got this time, that was just one platoon though so I have got quite a long way to go before I have an army of these airbourne nutters. I've included the army list below to show the journey. I will of course keep you updated! For now though...


Saturday, 8 October 2011

Imperial Guard Vehicles (FoPVP)

Greetings all, I thought we'd delve back into the treasure trove of the Friends of Pirate Viking Painting and check out some of Maisey's (Stephen Dipper - but no-one calls him that) Imperial Guard vehicles, kicking off with his Valkyrie:

I love this model at the best of times but the desert tan colour scheme combined with those little flashes of red really make it pop. Maisey went to great lengths to paint the interior and all of the doors and gunners operate:

A good general tip is on display here, military vehicles are rarely painted the same colour both inside and out, a nice light neutral tone (I will often use Gretchin Green) will give the interior some interest and allow a bright contrast to what can often be quite dowdy Guard vehicles.

The ground-based armour is no less attractive, again, painting the ammo box of the heavy stubber green is appropriate. Take a look at armour deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, the vast majority of the vehicle will be sand coloured but the small add ons - ammo, jerry cans etc - will often be standard green.

This vehicle was an experiment for Maisey in using Forgeworld weathering powders, the rust, soot and dirt were all applied using the ground pigments. Mig and AK47 Interactive also do these powders.

Maisey also has traitor versions of his Guard, this Hellhound allowed him to really go to town on the weathering powders.

The soot around the barrel of the flame cannon is particularly effective. The hastily applied Chaos stars are a nice touch too, they make it seem like the vehicle has recently rebelled and the crew have applied field markings to identify them as servants of the Dark Gods.

I adore the design of the new hellhound, the barrels of fuel look wonderful and the feed pipes are wonderful. Maisey has made good use of the weathering powders to heavily rust the exposed metalwork.

Well, that's all for today folks, see you next time!


Thursday, 6 October 2011

Liquid Green Stuff review

Greetings all, I have a new toy and felt the need to share with you all! Bizarrely Games Workshop seem to have released this with no fanfare whatsoever so here is mine:

Liquid Green Stuff (henceforce known as LGS) is a new non-toxic putty from Citadel designed to fill gaps and holes rather than sculpt with. This fills a hole (badum-tish) that I had previously used Squadron Green putty for. The problem with Squadron Green is that it is loaded with organic solvents that sting the eyes, wobble the brain and carries the kind of warning labels that make you seriously consider walling it off in a bunker. By contrast LGS is odourless and - importantly - water soluble so that you can use the same brushes that you use for your normal rough jobs.

I have two models to test LGS's properties on, a giant who has hairline gaps in his arms and a girt great ugly join at the back of his neck. The other is the Arachnarok spider which has thin gaps runnng through areas with detail.

Yeah, I know, tough to tell from a picture but I was trying to give an impression of the viscosity of the LGS. It is about what you would expect from unthinned paint that had been around for a bit. If you are familiar with Vallejo paints it is roughly the same thickness but a little "stringier" if you get my meaning.

You start out just blobbing the LGS onto the areas you want to fill and then spreading it smooth with a damp brush. I really mean damp, the first attempt I used a wet brush and it quickly formed a wash of LGS.

As you can see from the image above the finish is very, very smooth. While the giant was drying I turned my attention to the Arachnarok:

Firstly a bit of a show off shot, I have magnetised my Arachnarok! This is for two reasons, the first is so that I can use the spider without it's howdah as a summoned beastie or scenario objective (or heck just to make roleplay characters wee themselves). The second is for transport, the thickest foam KR Multicase make is 110mm, the Arachnarok's body alone stands 100mm tall. So the detachable howdah makes transport in a conventional case possible.

Yup, when your spider is bigger than your mug you have problems, this photo illustrates one of the joins that needs filling around the head...

The other is around the abdomen of the spider, both are clearly visible when the spider is finished and as such need filling. Once upon a time we would have had to try to push solid filler into the joins and muck about with it, now, we do this:

With the water soluble properties of the LGS you can slap it on with abandon and then wash it away from the detail like you would with too thick an application of paint. It was while I was thinking of this and waiting for the LGS to dry (it is very fast by the way) that the thought struck me that it might be usable as 3D paint allowing raised markings to be painted on:

Hmmm, sort of, not really. The row of rivits worked better, perhaps applied with a toothpick for consistent size of rivit. Short answer is, not really, let it do what it was designed for.

After the first drying period I was a little dissapointed to see that big 'ol ugly groove still there, the LGS shrinks a little as it dries.

Likewise the arm seams were not yet perfect. Initially I grumbled to myself but then remembered that the whole process for both models had taken about 10 minutes so far. Seriously, I wouldn't have green stuff ready to work in that time.

Simarily the first coat on the Arachnarok hadn't totally filled the lines but I had used a very thin mix to preserve the detail, which, as you can see has worked nicely. I decided to give them both another coat and see what gives.

And WOW did the second coat work, the first one just lays the scaffolding that you build on to get the second coat smooth.

Seriously guys, to get putty this smooth would take me a half hour or so and would waste a bunch of Green Stuff as we always mix too much.

As you can see, the Arachnarok came up nicely as well. It seems that the old maxim of a couple of thin coats works better than one thick one holds true for LGS.

So, to sum up. This stuff is witchcraft, it is awesome. It only does one thing but it does it very, VERY well. Put it this way, I will never again be using a two-part putty to fill gaps, it takes longer, is more difficult to smooth and requires tools. This is ready mixed, quick and needs a brush. You will still need epoxy putties, this will not provide an adhesive bridge between difficult parts, you can't sculpt with it as you can with Squadron Green. Just don't try, for the price of a pot of paint this product will do EXACTLY what it sets out to do. Try it, you will not be dissapointed, best £2.30 you'll spend this year.

TTFN folks and remember, 100 followers equals a prize!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

100 Posts! Warmachine Trenchers

Whoa! All of a sudden there are a century of posts on Pirate Viking Painting, thanks to all of you for sticking with me and I am looking forward to the next hundred. As a linked thing we currently have 90 followers, in honour of our 100th post I am announcing that there will be a prize draw for followers when we hit our 100th follower. So if you haven't already done so follow the blog to be in with a chance of winning. The prize will be a your choice of character model (from your collection I'm afraid, can't afford to buy you a model!) painted for free by me and posted to wherever you are!

So what is the subject of our centenial post? Warmachine Trenchers:

The Trenchers one of two "massed" (as massed as Warmachine gets) infantry units planned for my Cygnar army, the other is Long Gunners. I wanted these guys to fit in with the colour scheme for Captain Caine:

Which I characterise as Steampunk Great War. The colour scheme is based around Vallejo English Uniform, with khaki straps and brown leather. A tip for anyone making these models is that the join between the backpack and body is terrible, a tiny contact area and an ill fitting sculpt. The solution is to use green stuff as a pad to improve the fit. The adhesive properties of the green stuff allow the backpack to stick and the flexible putty forms a perfect join.

As an experiment to celebrate the 100th post I decided to try something new, a step by step animation of how I painted these figures:

Click on the image to load the gif file, it is a fairly large one but give it time, best plan is to right click and "save target as" then open the file. The only view you can't see is the back so I've included a pic of the cool backpack and leather trenchcoat:

Something I am very happy about is the way the bases are looking en masse. Makes the extra work worthwhile, something I would not do to a mass army system but for a skirmish system like Warmachine it is perfect. When the bases are all together they do look just like a forest floor, just how I wanted it.

That's all for today folks, here's to post 101 and the future. Remember, when we hit 100 followers someone will win something cool looking!