Friday, 26 June 2015

Operation Thunderbolt - Build Log Part Six

Oh bring me bombs, lots of bombs from the starry skies above, doooon't blow me up...

I spent the end of yesterday and a bit of today cleaning and magnetising all of the ordnance for the Thunderbolts. This is pretty much the contents of the Academy 1:48 US WWII Armament set with a bunch of Imperial Guard hunter-killer and Manticore missiles thrown in for good measure. 38 Teeny magnets allow them to stick to the "invisible" layer of flex steel under the paintwork on the fuselage.

The small missile racks were intended to look like the racks on a Hawker Typhoon, I think I'm sort of there with them. The Thunderbolt wings are angled downward about 2/3 of the way along so there is a limited amount of room to mount wide racks. They look fine though and once they've got a coat of the light blue-grey will look like part of the fuselage.

Alternatively, both aircraft can be equipped with four small munitions for the stuka-like ground-pounding.

If heavy air-to-mud missile action is required, both aircraft can hang four big ol' manticore missiles on their wings. The mounts angle outwards too so look quite nifty.

In addition to the smaller wing mounts, really big bombs can be mounted on the dorsal mount.

Or a slightly smaller, fatter big bomb...

Or a slightly longer, thinner big bomb... (spot the guy who doesn't know jack about bombs)

But then, the really cool thing. The freakin' torpedo! It clamps to the yellow nose but magnetically attaches to that same dorsal mount. The mounting brackets for this will be yellow rather than the light blue. How cool is that? A torpedo!

A final tip for the day, if you've got a stack of small magnetic thingies to prime, wrap a nice big steel ruler in cling film; magnetise your stuff to it; go nuts with the spray can. When you unwrap the ruler later it will be unsullied by overspray. Perfick. Painted bombs and weathered planes to go folks! Getting close!


Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Operation Thunderbolt - Build Log Part Five

Eyup all, another quick update in the ongoing Thunderbolt build log: I've not been able to do any step-by-step pics this time as it was reaaaally slowing me down.

As you can see, the metal and other details has been painted. No weathering yet as the decals needed to go on first. These are mostly the Graf & Grislawski JG52 decals and some Forgeworld Aquillas.

These have been set and flattened with Micro Set and Micro Sol and a coat of matt varnish to kill the carrier film shine. When there are a lot of decals to do it takes a while, take my advice and break it up into hour or so chunks as you will make mistakes around hour three or four. Decals are the easiest way to get crisp detail in painting. Not the quickest.

The client had had the nifty idea of magnetising the canopies in order to allow the cockpit detailing to be seen. This was an easy matter of another strip of flexi-steel on the back of the cockpit and a thin magnet glued inside the canopy. Works like a charm. This pilot's dedication to a beau back home (another one of the JG52 decals) can be seen on the canopy.

That's about it for today, weathering and bombs to go and the job is done.

EDIT: I noticed as I was writing this that the varnish had caught the light in an odd way in the photos. So went back to check it out. The bloody thing had clouded. I don't know if it was humidity or some MicroSol left even after an hour of drying but clouded it has. I'll have to fix it. Hopefully the old dodge of a layer of gloss varnish and then matting it down again will work. Fingers crossed. :(


Friday, 12 June 2015

With Horse and Gun we gallop!

Hi folks, as I've been doing the sort of work on the Thunderbolts that takes all week and looks like nothing at all have changed in the photos, I thought I'd take a couple of hours and finish a project that has been languishing allllmost finished for a while:

Yep, it's been a while (remember this guy?) but the Averlander army is now officially begun! Being Averlanders - famous for horses, think a renaissance German Lincolnshire - I figured an early emphasis on cavalry would be a win to give them their "feel". So I started with these Pistoliers, the Averland Firstborn, first-born sons of noble families risking their massive wealth in dashing combat. Thrill seeking rich kids in other words. For those unfamiliar with the Empire army, these chaps are fast, manoeuvrable cavalry armed with braces of pistols to harry the enemy.

As I have quite literally codified the way I paint the Averlanders, it is going to be largely the case with this army that I talk predominantly about what is different about them or things that I've spotted and liked. I love these models, in fact I've decided that they are going to be the focus of the roleplay elements of the army (like the Dwarf Improbable Mission Force) and will eventually be making dismounted versions of them so that they can approach a target, dismount and creep forward on foot before letting go with a hail of gunfire.

The horses are obviously a major focus of these figures, like a lot of painters I like cavalry and even like painting them but dear god do they take a very, very long time. It's all the tack, I think at least, and for timing I'd give cavalry the sort of time you would give three equivalent infantry models. Despite all that I love painting animals and had fun with the horses. I decided that they would be riding their personal steeds and thus have a variety of breeds in the mix. More "professional" units - like the knightly orders - will have a single breed, most regimental cavalry units over the years have preferred one breed either for performance or a uniformity of appearance. The Royal Scots Greys were even named for their steeds colour. To get the markings and mixtures of patterning of the horses correct - you've seen thousands of horses in your life, even if you don't know it, and will spot if it is "wrong" - research is required. For horses, there is a brilliant site called Equusite that has lots of useful articles and a solid article, the linked one, on the common breeds and their markings. Sadly I painted these a while back and can't remember the mixes. I'll pay more attention next time. Promise.

Something I've found very challenging, read "irritating" was getting the colours of the slashed sleeves nicely painted in. I tried painting the lower colour first but it's a pain getting the upper colour neatly in place without messing up the lower. In the end I realised that the only way to paint the slashes is to paint, shade and highlight the upper colours. Only then do you bother with the slashes. Mix your paint roughly halfway between your normal consistency and a wash and then with a nice thin brush run the paint into the slashes. It'll quite nicely and neatly fill the slashes and prevent frustration.

So there we go, the first stage of the first thousand points. More to come, much, much more, it's an army that I've been meaning to do and picking up here and there for years... until about 5000 points is ready to be painted... Yeah... better get on that then.

In the meantime, more Thunderbolt soon.


Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Operation Thunderbolt - Build Log Part Four

Hiiiiiighway through the DANGER-ZONE....

Yep, today it's the turn of the bold pilots to get coloured in. These two are currently called - in my head - by their high gothic callsigns of Mavericus and Anser. These seemed like a nice self contained episode of the build log so a post it is.

With cockpits and the like start from the bottom and work up. In this case, the light grey interior was first, then the seats, finally the pilots uniforms, their faces and then helmets. This way you are always layering the next section over a potentially messy previous one. There's not much to say about the cockpits. I did a suggestion of instrumentation - as frankly there won't be a lot seen - and decided on a light grey interior to help people see the interior details existence through the canopy.

I figured that they needed brown uniforms in order to stand out from the predominantly grey airframe. Note that the outside of the cockpit hasn't been highlighted. That'll come with the rest of the fuselage. The jumpsuits are Val US Field Drab; the straps are Val German Camo Beige; the leather Val Leather Brown. These have been given a wash of Agrax Earthshade and then highlighted first with the original colour and then with a little Deck Tan added.

This shot is very work in progress but I knew that the gloss varnish on the helmet glass would erase the work I'd done making the patterns and colours of the helmets show through the tinted glass effect. Stoopid cameras. You can see it in the flesh but the camera picks up too much of the reflected light. This was achieved by a first applying a basecoat of Val Dark Sea Blue, washed with black. This gives that armoured tinted glass feel. Then to show the colour beneath you thin the paint down and apply glazes of colour to the glass. This allows the helmet colour beneath to "show through" the tint. Worked quite nicely.

Couldn't resist dropping Mavericus into the plane - still a lot more work needed obviously - just to see what he looked like. Badass is my verdict. Then got curious, what would he look like with canopy in place?

Ah, damn near invisible. Never mind, I know it looks cool in there. Now all you do too. :)

That's it for another day.


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Operation Thunderbolt - Build Log Part Three

Hi folks, after the giddy diversion of turning five and four hundred posts it is back to the business at hand. Namely, the Thunderbolts, when last we left them I had got the yellow on (finally) and the first greys. Now we're ready to start the real fun:

Following the guide that came with the transfers (you can just see it to the left) I laid out the pattern for the hard edged "top-down" camo. The masking tape is the Tamiya stuff and is awesome. Very low tack and fairly conformable, note I've added the canopy so as to have a consistent pattern, it comes off again to reinsert the cockpit later.

I found the Basalt Grey to be far, far too close to the Dark Bluegrey in order to work. I added a fair whack of German Grey to the paint and used that instead. Either the RLM colours are different to the Vallejo or the colours used in reproduced pictures are very different. Either way, the new colour works nicely and after all, these are Imperial Navy, not Luftwaffe.

When you remove the tape you are left with gorgeous clean, straight lines to the camo. There really is not any better way to get this sharp effect.Next I needed to get the underside camo sorted. For this I masked around the edge of each of the wings and on any other area that met the underside:

With this done, I sprayed the Pale Grey-blue onto the underside and left it to dry. Again, I think this colour is a little lighter than I was expecting but it seems to work. The idea was to prevent the plane being spotted from below by blending it with the clouds and bright sky above. This done, I stripped off almost all the masking tape.

you can see a tiny patch on the right there where the masking failed but for the most part, perfect.

Nice clean yellow nose emerges, the top-side camo is safe while the blue-white base is neat and tidy. Lovely. Now to move on to the complex lateral camouflage.

The representation of this camo varies, smaller depictions generally just use fuzzy blobs but the actual camo is a series of elegant, almost flame-like patterns blending the pale lower hull and the dark two-tone upper hull. The first stage (2) is to add the Pale Grey-Blue on to the tail and sides. Next (3) is to cut back in with the Dark Bluegrey in order to neaten the pale colours. Finally (4) the German Grey (ish) darker tones are added to finish the disruptive effect. Tricky, but nifty.

At last we can remove the masking tape covering the recognition flash on the fuselage. Unfortunately, all the various layers of paint and the fact that these were the first bits of tape applied meant that there was some bleed-under:

The reason for this was the deep panel lines (far, far deeper than an equivalent 1:48 kit would be) and other areas where the tape couldn't quite mash down. I was initially irritated as it was an evident failure, but it's growing on me, could be re-worked as weathering. Hastily applied recognition flash with cheap paint flaking off.

And there we are. Quite a jump in progress there from last time. Next will either be the cockpits or the metalwork and other details. I'll keep you informed.