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.