Friday, 29 March 2013

Kick the Tyres and Light the Fires - Forgeworld Pilot

Greetings one and all! Well, after finishing the titans on Wednesday and spending yesterday up to my armpits in attic-sorting-out detritus with Mrs PVP I thought I deserved a treat. What could be a better treat for a painting addict than a model painted for the sake of it. In this case a Forgeworld event only pilot model:

This chap is being added to the retinue of my Inquisitor, more on that later. First, let me say that I love this figure. If you are ever at an event that Forgeworld frequent then pick one of these up, you won't regret it! The level of detail is exquisite, you can see exactly how every piece of his kit operates and fits together. Sadly it does have Forgeworld's almost trademark too sharp folds in cloth. Makes all their drapery look like fine silk rather than heavy cloth. The rest of the sculpting is excellent, a clear purpose to everything he is carrying and stylistically he is somewhere between a WWII aviator and a Soviet cosmonaut. It was the first design motief that informed the paint colours. I found a picture of a Battle of Britain RAF pilot and vaguely copied the colour scheme.

The flight suit is basecoated in The Fang - oh gods, I've never written that one down before. Who calls a paint "The Fang", even adding grey to the end would help. No, sound the tangent klaxon, getting off topic. So after basecoating in... The Fang (sigh), I highlighted by adding increasing amounts of Russ Grey. The end result is a nice RAF blue. The life preserver got basecoated in Vallejo Khaki, shaded down with thinned Agrax Earthshade and highlighted with Khaki and then again with a bit of bone added.

I grew up in the eighties so Top Gun was a major influence. That meant that the helmet just had to have a paint job. Now, at first glance it might seem that all the Legio Astorum painting lately has imprinted me with the Blue/Yellow scheme but there is a deeper reason for it. The yellow relates to the khaki nicely and the blue feels like the flight suit. Essentially they're both more saturated versions of the principle colours on the model.

While we are talking about that sort of thing, it is worth mentioning colour balancing. There are three spot colours on this figure. A spot colour is a small patch of - usually - strong colour to improve the visual interest of the figure. All three are repeated on the figure. The yellow checks on the helmet match to the scarf, the blue of the helmet is mirrored by the piping around the padded edges and the military green of the life support pack is mirrored by the mask around his neck. Doing this helps to make a spot colour balance across the model rather than looking orphaned in one area. The scheme looks subdued despite there being six seperate shades on the model.

The life support pack is another feature I'm impressed by. I took my cues for painting it from a mix of cosmonaut carbon dioxide scrubbers and Battlestar Galactica style life support equipment. There's even a tiny series of lights to the left of the big gauge ranging from green to red. I figured carbon dioxide concentration or something.

And finally his face. This fella bears more than a passing resemblance to Arnold Schwarzenegger - might have to reflect that in his name later. I actually added the stubble to slightly kill off the similarity as Arnie is clean shaven in every movie I can think of.

So earlier I mentioned adding him to my Inquisitor's retinue. Surely, though, he would be useless as part of the Grey Knights army right? That is because this project has mutated a little. See, I love the game Inquisitor. It expands on the 40k universe and allows you to explore the world beyond the battlefields. Trouble is, it was always designed for 54mm scale models. I love 'em, great painting projects and so on. However... it is scenery that is the serious problem. You have to build a whole range of scenery from scratch as finding commercial terrain in this scale is almost impossible or very expensive to acquire. For a while the Beard Bunker lads and I had been talking about doing Inquisitor in 28mm scale instead. Then, I found that this is a whole thing on the Internet already: Inq28.

This blog is kinda the jumping off point for a whole online community featuring some awesome conversion work that is being a major source of inspiration. Head over and check it out. With that, we are done for the day and the week. Back to work Monday and painting a whole pile of purple vehicles! The twiddly bits are going to be a whole lot easier now that I don't have to reconstitute the Dry Lucius Lilac. I've got an edge paint for it instead! Until next time folks.


Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Brother Titans

I am more than a little excited to post this picture as it represents the end of nearly 2 months work:

Hooray! They are all kinds of done! With a bit of light weathering (the client didn't want them all war torn so just mucky from a fairly recent deployment) my work on the Legio Astorum comes to a close. That makes 2 knights (chas and dave apparantly) and a pair of warhound titans. Lets check out some pretty pictures:

Pyladii Alpha is armed with a titan killing turbo laser and one whacking great flamethrower. I posed it to be aiming its engine-slaughtering gun at roughly where the midsection of one of the larger titans that these lads hunt would be situated. The midsection is where the reactor is housed in the fluff y'see.

The titans are actually a little muckier than they look. The subtle dust weathering was rather cut through by the lights.

I wanted to talk for a moment to praise whoever designed this model for the feet. They are brilliant. Lots of fiddling to get them right but it means you can pose the feet however you want. I recommend building supporting the "sole" section of the foot at the angle you want it at before attaching the toes. In this case a roll of masking tape gave be the required height. I wanted to show Alpha placing its left foot down and is about to transfer its weight flattening the foot and taking the next stride. Beta is more extreme as we will see later.

You can just see the cabling attached to the turbo laser. These gave me one hell of a hassle this time around. All of the supplied cabling snapped while I tried to bend it. In the end I scavenged bin ends of the previous titan's cabling and managed to use those. Christ alone knows what was wrong with these ones. Maybe it was too blummin' cold in the workshop. Who knows?

While it is tough to see the dust weathering on the legs came out really, really nicely. I'm using a new - for me - system of enamel weathering paints from AK Interactive. I misted them on in layers with the airbrush until the dust had built up. A mix of Dust Effects and Kursk Earth (which as a 2000AD fan I kept reading as Cursed Earth) made a nice concrete dust effect to match the urban basing that I have done for all of this client's other models.

More AK effects give us the nice streaking grime under the brass edging. I'll do a tutorial on how this stuff works soon as I am pretty much competant now.

And finally, more AK stuff in the form of rust streaks run around the dome rivets and then 'stumped' with white spirits. Again, I'll talk more of these soon.

Beta is a bit more mucky, with more weathering powders used on the carapace. I've already shown lots of piccies of Beta before so I shall let this image of it's weathered state do it!

Finally, I played around with some photoshop trickery to accomodate another client request. For his titans to be actually stalking around some ruins:

I've done three, the other two are below. I'm not sure which I like best! What do you folks think?

So that is it, titans done! Next is finishing off the Purple Marines project in the form of six yes, you heard me, six predators and a few land speeders! Apparantly won't be the only titan commission though as there is another chap intrigued by the thought of a PVP titan of his very own. Until next time folks


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

And then there were two!

Hi folks, just a quickee (and overexposed) picture to celebrate something:

The second titan is finished! I just need to do the weathering now. Should be all done and dusted (badum-tish) by Friday when I'll take some serious photos of the pair of brother titans in the hench light tent. Very exciting!

Edit: I've been playing with photoshop and created... this:

I think some fun photoplasty is in their future when they're all finished off.


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Tutorial - Brush Cleaning and Maintenance

Greetings one and all. Today was one of my maintenance days; somewhere along the line I realised that what I ought to do was take some pictures. Thus allowing me to share my tips for protecting one of the most expensive consumables we use. Brushes.

Same brush, top and bottom, one of my old ratty ones to show just how effective it is.

So in true infomercial style: do your brushes look like this? Good paint brushes are savagely expensive, each of my lovely, lovely Raphael brushes costs a minimum of £5. If you abuse them you'll buy them again, and again, and again. Care for them a bit and they'll last you a fair while. No brush lasts forever, most of us downgrade from 'A'-grade to 'B' when they lose the fine point. B-graders are for base coating and rough work. Once even these die I wind up using them for glue or sacrificing them for improvised tool holders. Until then though they get the following treatment.

About once a fortnight I give my 'A'-brushes a quick clean in brush soap. Truthfully, any old soap will do but the stuff in the picture above is actually designed for brushes and won't leave them smelling funny or loaded with moisturiser or what the hell ever else they put in hand soap. Treat them rough at this point, really work the soap up into the bristles near the ferrule (the metal bit). Rinse in clean water and wipe on kitchen paper trying to spread the bristles as you go to loosen any dried paint at the heart of the brush. Good brushes form a large reserviour and it is hidden in the middle. Dry paint hides there too.

Those are nice large lumps of old paint coming out of what looks like a clean brush. It's worth doing this folks. Finally, repoint the wet brush into a nice perfect brush shape and leave to dry naturally. It'll be like you bought them new. I go another step roughly every quarter or so but I do paint a ridiculous amount (eight hours daily, five days weekly at least).

The Heath-Robinson contraption in the picture above is holding my bristles submerged in the Turpinoid brush cleaner and restorer you see next to it. There are tons of different brands for this and it works kind of like conditioner. Brushes are made of hair and need to be softened and smoothed once in a while just like your hair. The Turpinoid does this. I usually leave them soaking for an hour or so and then comb the bristles:

Just run the Turpinoid laden brush through the bristles of a toothbrush, a nail brush or something similar. It combs off any lingering paint that might be clinging to the bristles. Once you have cleaned it in the restorer you need to wash it with the soap like usual to finish off.

And there it is. A slightly over exposed photo of four perfectly clean brushes. The 0-size brush (second from bottom) is nearing the end of its life - the point is rounding off. They are however perfectly clean! These are about a year old now, meaning about two thousand hours of painting time and they look clean as when I bought them. Do this process and you'll have more money for buying models. Why? Because you won't be buying paint brushes all the damn time! Hope this helps someone, there are other methods out there. This is kind of the amalgamated PVP method cribbed from the bits of best practice I've found out there.

If your paint is caked onto miniatures then you need a different process. Try this. Until next time Ladles and Jellyspoons.


Friday, 22 March 2013

Painting the Inquisition

Greetings one and all! Remember this fellow? Well, last night he finally got a coat of paint:

Its a funny old profession painting, to relax after a day of Titan painting I settled down to... paint a model. Anyway, this is the Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor Bastian Vandamar. He's named for an old roleplay character who in turn was named for one half of the brilliant Croup & Vandemar, the murderous duo from Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere (coincidently the subject of a nifty Radio 4 adaptation).

I wanted to paint him as an understated but authoritarian figure. A black leather duster with deep red lining seemed to fit the bill. Getting black leather right is sometimes tricky but the essence is just to use a very deep brown rather than a pure black that will look more like PVC. There is also a trick where you put wear on the edges but more of that later.

Behold, the stern countenance of Inquisitor Vandemar. I decided to make him a reletively young man so I kept the tones warm and the hair strongly coloured. The crude bionic eye replacing the patch on the right eye of the Witch Hunter model was a tiny bit off centre. Rather than having to carve up a damn near finished model I decided that the eye was able to rotate in the socket Mad Eye Moody-like.

The null rod he has over his shoulder I was especially pleased with. The mixture of metal colours (Vallejo Liquid Metal Copper; Runelord Brass and silver rivets) creates a pleasing visual interest. The jade skull in the centre is just Stegadon Scale Green highlighted by the addition of white and then washed in Coelia Greenshade. Why jade? Because in oriental mythology jade is anathaema to spirits and demons and thus felt absolutely right as an inquisitor's weapon. Equally as the skull is double sided (faces on both planes) it just wouldn't work in bone.

It is tough to see in these pictures but the overall black tone is broken up into the brownish black of the coat, the greyish black of the hat and trousers and the dark brown of the leatherwork. The dark jade/turquoise spot colours (bionic eye, feather, skull and the slashes in the trousers) was mainly chosen to balance the red and orange of the lining and copper/brass bits. Once again it's one of those split complimentary jobs:

I think it is fair to say that this is my most commonly used colour wheel trick. It creates nice contrasts while allowing you to use more than one dominant colour.

In this last photo you can see the worn leather edging and the script on the nifty purity seal. The weathering on the leather is just drybrushing with Karak Stone. The script is - as normal - painted in a dark brown rather than pure black. Makes it look like aged pen ink rather than printing. There's actually a tutorial I'd forgotten about half way down this post that talks about how I paint the writing itself. Anyway, that is all for today. Mrs PVP is in work this weekend so I'll be cracking on with the titan through the weekend. Until then.


Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Head-ing on with painting

Greetings folks, I'm back from a fairly long weekend with the Missus. But back I am and am finally making some serious HEADway with the warhound. Sorry, I'll stop that.

I finally figured out what the problem was with painting the second warhound. For some reason - I suspect temporary insanity - I forgot to stop batch painting the entire titan in one go after the steel and blue stage. I was trying to do the edging and details that way and seriously, that is a sure path to soul destroying drudgery! I decided to finish off Pyladii Alpha's head off and then I would have a sense of progress and accomplishment! A more important tip than I might have realised with large multi-element projects.

This warhound we're modelling buttoned up to preserve the internal componants for future Adeptus Mechanicus projects. As a result I needed to paint the eye windows. During this I was hit by the realisation that THIS would have made a far, far better example for the feathering YouTube tutorial than the lens I used! Doh! I guess I was avoiding using client models for tutorials (this makes no sense either as the axe for the rusting tutorial was a client model). Temporary insanity again, guess I needed that long weekend!

In order to let P. Alpha look a little different to its brother titan, I added the Adeptus Mechanicus cog & skull icon to the forehead. Just place it over the existing decoration, outline the edge with a pencil and then pare away the resin with a nice sharp blade. The icon then blends a little better with the current brass edging. Oh, and the skull was also a nice example for feathering. Darn it!

Anyway, with that I am back on track with Alpha, nifty torso section to follow shortly!


Thursday, 14 March 2013

Blood for the blood god

Hi folks, I don't do this often but today I'm going to use my pulpit here to talk about something important for a change!

I just came from donating one of the three pints of blood I can give each year and got chatting with one of the staff. Out of curiosity I asked what proportion of the population give blood these days. Go on, play along, take a guess. I was mentally prepared for a fifth to a third of the population, somewhere in that region. Her answer literally floored me...


No joke, only between 4-6% of adults in this country give blood. I could not believe it. Just to give you the scale of the issue, the Welsh Blood Service needs 400+ donations per day just to keep things ticking over. Blood stocks do not last and during certain times (winter, sports events etc) they plummet. There is clearly a massive problem with recruitment of donors. All I can do is my tiny part. I therefore beg you all. Whatever country you are in. Give blood. Go to the National Blood Service (or welsh/scottish) and register. If you stub your toe today you will experiance ten times more pain than you will ever experiance at a donation. You can only donate 3-4 times a year. At roughly an hour for donation that is just 0.0003% of your entire year. You CAN be bothered with that. Drop the excuses, shelve the fears and donate. Please, for me.

Now, Mrs PVP has an unexpected long weekend from work and I have decided to join her in joyous relaxation (well, sorting the house really) so regular updates will be back next week. Have a pleasant weekend and 


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

PVP YouTube II: The Revenge...

Greetings shipmates, today I'm presenting the second of PVP's YouTube tutorials:

Complete with snacky opening titles courtesy of one Dave Bridger, thanks fella! The subject today is feathering and its role in blending. This is something I have mentioned many times but have never been able to explain to my satisfaction in text. This film explains it and shows an example of its use.

Something I wanted to ask you all, is there an appetite for more basic tutorial videos? I see people selling the damn things in DVD form these days and was wondering if people wanted some free ones? Given that you can get this level of tutorial for free in any GW of your choice it irks me a little that people are charging for this. Granted, there are Golden Demon painters out there making movies explaining their techniques. They could be worth the money, I wouldn't know!

Remembering the days when teaching painting used to be part of my job the basic topics (all about ten minutes or so) that immediately spring to mind are:

Brush selection; care & cleaning
Elementary shading and highlighting
Handling miniature skin
Effective drybrushing
Blending and feathering (done!)

If people want videos on this stuff then go ahead and ask. In fact, if there is anything you are curious about with the stuff that I do then ask away. If I can see a way to make it into a sub-fifteen minute tutorial (I will not allow YouTube to make money from me with poorly targeted invasive advertising) then I will make it! 

Those who follow my progress on either facebook, twitter or the tumblr feed that generates the other two will know that progress on the titan is rocking along. More updates in the near future, until then


Friday, 8 March 2013

Turbo Lasers and Colour Theory in action

Hello to one and all. Just a quickee today showcasing the turbo-laser destructor of Pyladii Alpha and along the way, showing that colour theory is more important than you think!

That's a turbo laser! And what a stupid name that is by the way. Turbo-laser destructor. It almost beats bloodstrike missile. Almost. I mean what does it mean? That the laser is turbo charged? That the laser is faster... than the speed... of... light... no, that can't be it. So is it firing faster? Is that the turbo? But turbo is all about forcing gas into a smaller space to get more power. And what about the third element? Destructor? Sounds like it is destroying the turbo-laser. Enough. The name is stupid but it has hung around since Adeptus Titanicus so I think I can forgive it. Now, "why does this demonstrate colour theory Jeff?" I hear you ask, well, at the moment it doesn't. Consider, however the following picture.

Now compare the weapon on the left with the one on the right. On the left it looks like a toy, the colours look awkward somehow. Why? Because if I had left it there I had broken colour theory. Lets go to the wheel:

The picture on the left uses adjacent colours on the wheel. There is no contrast, and precious little complement. The addition of the brass/bronze gives the opposing colour creating a split complimentary scheme. More on this here. Essentially the message to take home is to think through the scheme before you start as you can run into problems later. In this case I had instinctually known that green would work in the scheme (I've been doing this a while) but by the time I got to the picture on the left I was starting to worry that I had made a mistake. It just didn't work. A quick glance up at the colour wheel on my wall keeping the overall plan in mind reassured me. Once the orange/brown metallic shade was in place the blue and green would be complimented. If I didn't have this knowledge and the tool of the colour wheel then I might have changed course mid way through wasting time and possibly having a worse finish at the end. Lesson learned.

While we are talking about this I should mention the green! While musing on the colour scheme for this weapon I had done my usual internet meanderings and had found this on Spikey Bits. I liked the idea of not having just plain steel tubes running through the middle but thought that the linked example was a little too cartoony for me and didn't serve to explain how the weapon worked. It was just lightning for lightning's sake. For Pyladii Alpha I figured that making the tubes look like they contained some sort of highly charged plasma cloud, I picture it flashing into light when the weapon fires. Yeah, I know the physics doesn't exactly stack up but there you go! To achieve this I first airbrushed a series of different diffuse clouds in white over the black undercoat to achieve a greyscale cloudy effect. Then I painted white lighting on it fading out at either end to indicate that it was simply passing out of sight rather than petering out. Then I airbrushed green ink over the result and left it to dry. Inks are perfectly translucent and thus simply tint the greyscale below and are therefore perfect for this role. I repainted the brightest areas of the lightning in white and resprayed with green ink. A thin coat of water effects finished the deal. More titan stuff after the weekend folks!


Thursday, 7 March 2013

Tutorial: Heat discoloured metal

Greetings shipmates, today we have a quick tutorial about getting that multi-coloured discolouration you often see on motorcyle exhausts. The reason this came up was this beasty:

That is the inch and a half wide business end of a warhound titan Inferno Cannon. This thing is capable of incinerating dozens of the enemy with every burst so it had to look serious! The picture above is the final effect incorporating soot, oil and other muck. The first step was getting the metal to look regularly heated.

 When you look at the spectrum of colours on heat discoloured metal it is emphatically not the normal EM spectrum rainbow beloved of children's paintings. Instead, the colour rolls from brownish yellow, through purple-ish red and into blue. To create this effect I used an array of washes, starting with a very thin glaze of Seraphim Sepia. I used the trusty hairdryer to cook each layer in order to speed up the process. A second feathered glaze of Sepia firmed up the colour. Each layer from here on in covers less and less area. Fuegan Orange was feathered on next followed by Carroburg Crimson and Druchii Violet. Finally I used Gulliman Blue glaze to really blue the metal closest to the projectors.

Adding oil and soot was simple, a 3:1 mix of brown and black ink built up in layers creates the thick oily colour you are after. The more layers you put on the less like a stain it looks and the more like a leak. Still need to touch up some of the tank banding in this picture but otherwise its done! The soot was Forgeworld Soot Black weathering pigments flicked on to some odourless thinner (essentially posh white spirits) and then spread out with a dry brush once the thinner had dried out.

While we're talking white spirit lets have a look at the picture above. This is a very simple technique to create a rusty surface rather than the rusted surface that JeffRust creates. I painted AK Interactive's Rust Streaks liberally all over a Leadbelcher basecoat. This is an enamel paint designed to allow various weathering effects over an acrylic basecoat. Once the Rust Streaks was painted on I used a brush soaked in odourless thinner to thin the paint in situ and drive it into the recesses. It is this post-painting manipulation that enamels are good for. They are useless for normal painting. Put it this way, I did this at about 10 this morning. It is now 3.30 and it is still not dry. Use enamels with caution! Anyway, I'll leave you with a view of the rear end of the Inferno Cannon and return to the titan painting!


Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Big Guns Never Tire

Though my guards may sleep and ships may rest at anchor, 
our foes know full well that big guns never tire
 Warhammer 40,000 2nd Edition

Yeah, I know, it's a 40k quote for a Flames of War post but I've always loved it. Plus, todays post is about some really, really big guns...

These are British 17 pdr anti-tank guns. The 17 pdr was one of the best guns of the war and was fitted to some of the Sherman tanks used by the Brits to create the excellent Firefly variant. The most remarkable thing - for me at any rate - was that these monsters and the 15 cwt trucks that towed them and hauled the ammo were... airlanded. Yep, these monsterous machines were loaded into the massive Horsa gliders and dropped right into enemy held territory. These and the 6 pdr guns were an essential tool in preventing the panzer divisions from just rolling over the otherwise light paratroopers. Oh, and the difference between a 17 pdr and a 6 pdr? Check the next picture:

Same scale! Anyway, enough history, on with the painting. I've said quite a bit about painting the Flames of War lads in previous posts (just click on the Flames of War tag at the bottom of the post) so I won't go on about it in great depth. Instead I'll pick out the interesting bits from this one! The first, obvious, thing to note are the bushes at the front of the bases. These are almost insultingly easy to achieve. Just get a pinch of something called clump foliage and PVA it down to the groundwork. Then, to make it a bit more game-proof soak it in watered down PVA and leave it to dry. I use a dropper and sort of "inject" the bushes with the PVA. Really soaks it through.

One hazard of painting FoW stuff realistically is that they can sort of disapear into the groundwork in photos! You can avoid this by doing the very harsh Battlefront studios style highlighting but I don't like that. Note the red and white pole on the inside of the left trail. This is a ranging pole and was used to pre-spot artillery targets. They would be hidden from view of approaching troops but the gunners knew that once they reached the marker then the already dialled in elevation would hit the target perfectly. 

For the HQ I used some of the bits that came in the Paratrooper upgrade pack to give them a more measured look than the heroic advancing look of some of the others. While I was glueing the table down I thought how nice some tactical maps would look on it and had the foresight to take photos as I went. Thus I present the PVP guide to painting tiny wee maps!

First, cut a few tiny rectangles of just normal white paper. Just a few millimeters across. Using watered down PVA soak the maps and shape them to the table, try having one overlapping the edge of the table as it looks more plausible somehow! I then used Seraphim Sepia to put some initial shadowing along the overlapped edges. When you zoom in remember just how small these are! I then started adding some water features using Drakenhof Nightshade. I'll be using shading washes for all of these stages as the translucent quality makes it look like printed paper rather than painted paper.

Next come the woodlands marked out in Athonian Camoshade. Look at real world maps so as not to use too much or too little on your maps! Built up areas are marked in yellow so Casadora Yellow. Use straight lines here as the built up areas aren't natural features and will look better with a straight line or two. Roads are then added in red - Carroburg Crimson.

I used Agrax Earthshade to firm up the shadowing around the map edges and then used Nuln Oil to paint tiny thin lines of longitude and latitude to give it that "map" look. Do not use too many here, 4 or 5 are more than enough. And there you go! A bunch of guys standing around a map! Might have to add an enamel tea mug at some point...

So with that I am getting surprisingly close to finishing my first Flames of War army! I've got plans to expand this one with the transport jeeps and trucks, some hurricane typhoons and a small Commando contingent to represent the Royal Marines coming up from the beaches. It'll be groovy. For those expecting Titan updates today, it's now been washed of all its mold release agent and dried over the day. Tomorrow I'll be priming it and starting the painting process all over again!