Paintlog: Ill-conceived conversions and fun with photoetch

It’s been about a month or two since my last paintlog, and if I had to give November a theme, it would be conversions and kitbashes. Possibly ill-conceived and overly-ambitious conversions and kitbashing, but conversions and kitbashing nonetheless.

Greylord Outriders

These are models that have been sitting on the shelf of shame for at least two years. I remember when I first got them, I quickly slapped three or so of them together, and did some conversion work on the other two, messing around with green stuff and alternate heads to add to the gender diversity of this unit. I also sculpted some snowball like things coming out of their hands to represent the magic spells that they cast. These were just paper clips with an extended teardrop shape sculpted in green stuff, then textured by dragging a hobby knife along the length of the item. Drill a hole in the hands, pop the paper clip in, and call it a day.

Then, they rested on my shelf for at least two years. When I resolved to clear off my shelf of shame (that is, my shelf where I put all my assembled but unpainted models), these guys were some of the last that I got to, mostly because I don’t really like painting cavalry, and partly because they don’t exactly fit my army tactics-wise.

When it came time to paint them, I decided to start by using the airbrush as much as I could to bang out the bulk of the actual horses, then paint the riders and details such as the saddles, harnesses, and mane with a brush. After applying black primer and a zenithal highlight, I got to work, initially starting with a mixture of a dark brown and Reaper’s Blue Liner, which is essentially a blue-black that seems to have been originally formulated for doing darklining on blue surfaces like the armour of a space marine. Of course, the blue was chosen over black because colour theory.

From there, I worked up to the  highlights, spraying from above and going from brown to a slightly reddish leather colour, and mixing in a touch of P3 Menoth White Highlight (one of my go-to off-whites) into the highest highlight. When I was satisfied with the horses, at least for a tabletop quality miniature that I wanted off my shelf and in my display case with the rest of my army, I moved on to brush painting everything else. Finally, I did bust out the airbrush again to do quick OSL effects on the magic spells and a couple other little things. I may have gone slightly overboard with the blue glow, but they’re spell-slinging cavalry, so who cares?

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Honestly, some of the green stuff work is a little rough and there are a couple places where the paint was a little quick and dirty and my blends weren’t perfect, but it’s good enough for tabletop and it’s got me closer to having a completely empty shelf of shame.

Vlatka Tzepesci, Great Princess of Umbrey

IMG_1085.JPGAnd, speaking of ill-conceived gender-bent cavalry models, I’ve decided to put my own spin on Vladimir Tzepesci, Great Prince of Umbrey (Vlad3) as well, kitbashing his horse and weaponry with Alexia’s body and head to make my own special version. The horse is basically stock, aside from some gap filling here and there.

As these were both metal models, this process involved a lot of filing to make Alexia fit on the horse designed for Vlad, and make sure that Vlad’s cape fits on her. It was a bit of a pain because cutting, filing and pinning metal models gets real obnoxious real fast. I did a little but of sculpting, using various epoxy putties to sculpt some transitions on places like the cape where the two pieces from two models not designed to ever go together met, and sculpted a cloth hanging down on one side of the saddle to cover up some rough areas where she didn’t quite fit that nicely on the horse. I also, of course, had to sculpt on some big shoulder pads because if there is one thing Vlad is notorious for, it’s oversized shoulder pads that put GW’s Space Marines to shame. I did keep it somewhat restrained though for both aesthetics and versimilitude, not that a model of someone riding a horse while simultaneously wielding a spear and a flail makes any sense on any level whatsoever. Finally, the weapons involved a lot of pinning with very tiny pins because they are small metal pieces that will break off if you breath on them the wrong way, and the shaft of the spear was replaced with a brass rod because leaving it in pewter is just asking for trouble.

In the end, between the reposing of the spear and the elevated base I constructed for this model, I think she is taller than a stock colossal. I know this is going to cause headaches if I ever bring her to a tournament, but that’s one thing that I almost never worry about.

Chibi Gundam

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I’ve also started on an SD Gundam, which is basically the Toon Tank of the Gundam universe. I’ve decided that with the deformed, cutesy shape, it would be interesting to contrast that with lots of weathering. I’ve started off with the hairspray technique in two layers. After priming with Synylrez, I started with the metal and rust layer. I sprayed the entire model with Vallejo Metal Color Steel, then sprayed, stippled and dry-brushed some various tones of brown and orange on there. I varnished that, then picked out a colour that roughly resembles the yellow primer you see on planes and other military equipment from the Army Painter rack at my FLGS. After applying the varnish and chipping medium, I chipped away at it, trying to get about half of the primer off. The idea is that when I chip the top coat, some of the chips will show primer, while some of the chips will go all the way to the metal.

I haven’t quite decided what colours I will paint this in yet, though I’m leaning towards a green and khaki scheme. I’d like to really push the weathering; in addition to doing the double layer chipping for the first time and using my usual techniques of sponging and painting on scratches, I was thinking of trying out oils, streaking products, and really play around with dry pigments.

Flag Statue

IMG_1079.JPGI also figured that for Warmachine, I need a third flag model to act as an objective now that three-flag scenarios are a thing again. However, I’ve already exhausted both Khador standard bearers, so it was time to do a conversion. I took a Kossite Woodsman leader, a flag from a Man-O-War, some pins and a brass tube and made myself a third unique flag. I also used the same Reaper base as my last ones, and will end up using the same painting tactic to make it look like an old bronze statue.

Fortunately, I remembered to take the picture halfway through brush priming with Reaper, so you can see the use of brass tube to replace the flagpole. Now that it’s all primed, he shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to paint through heavy use of dry-brushing and Citadel’s Nihilakh Oxide technical paint.

Me-109B

And now for something completely different, with the successful completion of my PZL 23 project, I’ve decided to embark on a more ambitious scale aircraft, AMG’s Me-109B in 1:48 scale. I don’t have a lot of recent experience with model aircraft kits, but this is definitely more complicated than my last work in that medium, as well as the model kits that I would build in my childhood.

This kit includes lots of advanced features in the box such as photo-etch parts, and is of a sufficiently obscure subject that I can’t imagine that very much aftermarket bling would be either necessary or even available for the more discerning modeller.

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Interior, just prior to joining the two halves of the fuselage

And speaking of photo-etch, that stuff can die in a fire. For the uninitiated, photo-etch are very tiny parts, made through the use of a photographic etching process on a thin brass sheet. This allows for smaller and more detailed parts than is possible with either plastic or resin, which can be both a blessing and a curse. Further, it is not uncommon to have to bend parts into the shape required, such as with the map case on the side of the cockpit. It’s not so bad when it’s just gluing a sheet to a flat piece of plastic, but when you start having to bend it and make complex shapes, it gets real obnoxious real fast.

Fortunately, most of the photoetch is cockpit detail, and now that I’ve got the cockpit in place and by some miracle the two halves of the fuselage actually went together fairly nicely. I think the plan is going to be work on filling seams for the time being, as well as getting some of the sub-assemblies together to glue on once that is done. I’m hoping to get it together fairly quickly, as I have a unique colour scheme in mind and I’m getting antsy to start airbrushing.

Secret project

I do have one more project on the go; though I shared some pictures with a few people, I’m keeping it under wraps for the moment until I’m done. Suffice it to say, it is a very expensive and very involved conversion that involves a lot of plasticard and milliput. And a lot of filing and sanding resin, which is always a task that requires care because that’s some stuff you really don’t want in your lungs.

Next Steps

Right now, I’ve eliminated my shelf of shame, however I have a lot of projects on the bench. I’ve been keeping them organized by using halves of boxes as trays, however it would be nice to clear off a couple and bring my WIP queue down to a more manageable level. But, on the other hand, a coworker is interested in a Warmachine demo, so I think I may pivot to that Cygnar battlebox I have kicking around. I know, it’s Cygnar, but someone has to be the bad guys.

 

 

Paintlog: Pink and purple potpourri

So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted some of my painting progress so this may be more of a paintdump than a paintlog. However, I’ve done a lot lately that I figure is worth sharing.

Man-O-War

This past June, Privateer Press released a lot of Khador Man-O-War models, which, as you might have guessed, immediately emptied out my wallet and filled my backlog. I’ve discussed these models previously, as I batch sprayed them with the airbrush then got to work, starting with the tankers and then moving on to the medium-based infantry models.

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Anyways, as mentioned in a previous article, I like to do alternate-gender conversions for some of my Khador models, both to represent the contribution of the daughters of the motherland, increase diversity in my army, and put my own little subversive spin on things. Though, between Sorscha, the MoW Bombardier Officer, and some of the fluff in NQP #05, that may be less of a subversion and more of an accurate description of the Man-O-War corps.

IMG_0727.JPGAs a result, Atanas became Atanasija and Dragos became Dragana. Both were done using bald heads from Statuesque Miniatures. For Atanasija, I kept the hat from Atanas and attached that to the head and in both cases I sculpted the hair on with brown stuff. When it came to Dragana, I did a side-swept undercut, allowing me to add in a couple scars to represent the rough and injury-prone life of a Man-O-War, particularly one as renowned for bashing in the skulls of dirty Cygnaran invaders as her.

Atanasija, Dragana, and the standard bearer were all glorious models: nice and big with plenty of detail and some interesting textures to paint. I would go so far as to say that they have pushed aside the Greylord Forge Seer as the best model in Khador.

IMG_0726.JPGWhen it came to the standard, I knew I wanted to freehand something on there but I wasn’t sure what. After mulling it over for a few days, I eventually found inspiration from a slightly unusual source: the flag of the Republic of Angola. Replacing the machete with a hammer created something that had an air of Khadoriness to it. The Man-O-War Bombardier Officer, as one of the few new releases that isn’t actually a named character, was done up in a pretty standard paint scheme, albeit with the double pink shoulder pad to represent the fact that she is an officer, and some hazard striping on her weapon because believe it or not, when you combine a chainsaw and a grenade launcher, you get something that is actually quite hazardous.

Finally, we get to one of my two favourite characters from the Iron Kingdoms: Kommandant Sorscha Kratikoff. In this case, I chose to stick a little closer to the studio scheme than I usually do as I thought she would look good in white and stand out on the tabletop if I’m playing her with a sea of Man-O-War. Howeer, I did retain the pink and purple from my standard army colours. As I was painting her, however, I noticed something interesting about her pose. If you place her flat on the base as intended, she looks to be in a pretty defensive stance, with her feet planted, her weapons at the ready, and her left leg further back to provide support. However, if you lean her forward a little bit, the pose changes. Suddenly, she looks more dynamic, as though she is rushing forwards. And, given that her signature spell in the game is literally called Wind Rush which allows her to make an extra advance, the decision over whether to go with the studio pose or the leaning forward version was kind of a no-brainer.

So, that’s it for now for the Man-O-War. I also have the chariots, but I’ve got some conversions that straddle the line between stupid and stupid-awesome rolling around in my head, so they will probably be a winter project anyways.

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Butchers

IMG_0888.JPGI’ve never been a big fan of the Butcher; guys who go apeshit and murder their own soldiers aren’t exactly sympathetic characters in my book, and when it comes to his little dispute with Sorscha over who murdered who’s father in cold blood, I have to side with my lady Sorscha on this one. Further, when I got into Warmachine, the competitive scene for Khador started and ended with Butcher3 and something about both his playstyle and the idea that if I wanted to seriously compete I had to play Butcher3 rubbed me the wrong way. So, I can say that none of the Butchers have gotten into my gaming rotation, and that may not be likely to change in the near future.

Regardless, I just have to get them all painted. I’ve showed off Butcher1 before, but my Butcher2 and Butcher3 were both interesting conversions that I did a while ago only to have them sit on my shelf for over a year.

IMG_0891.JPGFirst, Butcher3 was fairly straightforward. I had a bad experience with Nyss Hunters back in Mk.II, so naturally, I decided to incorporate pieces of Nyss and a Retribution wreck marker into the conversion. I decided that the dog on the sandbags would be playing fetch, so I added a bow in one of his mouths and an arm in the other. For the other dog, I used the base that came in the package for Butcher and threw on a sword and a severed head because, again, it’s the Butcher, so I have to crank up the gore. Finally, for the Butcher himself, I noticed that the way his left hand was posed, it would be quite simple to add some sausage links to show him feeding his puppies, which I sculpted out of a paper clip and green stuff.

Butcher2_2Butcher2 was more complex. I figured that it might be time for another one of my gender-bending warcaster conversions, but I quickly ran into a problem. If I wanted her to be tournament-legal, I needed to make her out of at least 50% Privateer Press parts. The problem is that, at least at the time I started sculpting, I couldn’t find any female models in PP’s line that had quite the Butcherly presence that I was looking for. Fortunately, a solution presented itself in a somewhat strange place: the Trollblood warcaster Grissel. I figured if I just filed off any of the lumpy troll skin protrusions and found the right head to swap out, then I’d just have to do a simple weapon swap and do some sculpting here and there to make her look more like a Khador warcaster.

Butcher2_2Initially, I ran into the problem of Grissel being so large compared to the average 30mm model that I couldn’t find a head that didn’t make her look like a pinhead. Eventually, I found something that worked – a 40mm scale head from Hasslefree Miniatures from their Kalee model. This larger scale ended up being close enough to Grissel’s size that it worked.

With the head on the body and the weapon swap working out, the next step was Khadorifying the model a little. For this, I needed to sculpt or scratchbuild a few things to make her look less trollish and more Khador. She needed a few armour plates here and there, such as the shoulder pads and the metal loin cloth thing, to cover up some of the most egregious Trollblood details. and give more of a Khador vibe. I would need to sculpt the cape and make it look like the one seen on Butcher and several other Khador warcasters, with the rectangular plates with three buttons or rivets at the bottom. Finally, I’d need to add one of those special coal-fired warcaster backpacks and some fur around it.

All of this I did with sculpting putties such as brown stuff or milliput and bits of styrene here and there. The only exception was the spikes on the shoulder pads, which were from the PP bits store; I believe they were from the old metal Behemoth model. It was also largely done in layers; a lot of the time when you’re sculpting, it’s much easier to get the basic shape in first, let it dry, then do a second layer to get the details.

After the conversion was done, these models languished on my shelf for a while as I never actually played any of the Butchers, until we started getting close to the end of my campaign to clear off my shelf of shame. There wasn’t too much special about the painting; it was mostly just using the same techniques, styles and colour schemes that have been the mainstay for this army. The one thing I did try was the use of Molotow liquid chrome markers and the ink from them to make the very highest highlight nice and bright. They seem to be useful for true metallic metals, though I’m going to need to play around with them a bit more to see if they are something that I would recommend. Particularly, I want to see how they react to brush painting and blending, and how nicely they play with other acrylic metallics.

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Escher Gang

In the past few months, I’ve been dipping my toe into Games Workshop games in the form of Necromunda, which a few locals have been running. Suffice it to say, it has been an interesting and positive experience branching out, and there are aspects of the game that I find liberating compared to Warmachine, even if there are also some issues that I have with certain mechanics.

The two things that have stopped me from jumping into any of the Games Workshop games before are that I don’t really want to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars into a second full-size army game, and that I haven’t yet found a faction in any GW game that really speaks to me aesthetically. I don’t like space marines, boxy tanks or gross nurgley things, and that wipes out a large portion of their line. I like to paint female models, and so many factions have a “no girls allowed” policy. And generally, if I don’t dislike a faction’s infantry, I despise their vehicles or vice versa. The blimpdwarves are okay, I guess, but apart from that, my impression of their style ranges from “ugh” to “meh.”

And then, they released House Escher for Necromunda, which is basically what happens when you give a roller derby team a bunch of guns. Between the mohawks, piercings, and cybernetic implants, GW basically nailed a lot of my tastes dead on with these models. I was immediately hooked, and picked up a box before I even knew anyone who was playing because I wanted the models so badly.

These were great models, though compared to a lot of other miniatures, they aren’t for the faint of heart. There are a lot of fairly small pieces; even the faces and heads are two different pieces. This allows for a lot of customization as once you get the legs and torso together, you can pretty much do what you want for the arms, face, and kick-ass mohawk. Fortunately, they are made of some nice hard plastic and clean up fairly easily, so you don’t need much more than your container of Tamiya Extra Thin to get to work and customize them to your heart’s content

When it comes to painting models like these — a somewhat rag-tag group operating outside of any formal military or anything like that, you want to give each model a little bit of individuality but also have something that ties them together. This goes double for the Eschers with their over the top punk aesthetic. So, I decided to take some common elements and put them in the same colour — their armour plates, chestpiece, and shiny leather boots. With those all the same, I had at least enough of a unified theme that I could go wild and make every model a different combination of hair, skin tone, and colour/pattern on their loin cloths.

As a result, I didn’t really do much batch painting on these. While I’m sure it would have been more efficient if I had, there was enough diversity from model to model that the benefits would have been minimal. Further, I just didn’t feel like it, preferring to at least get one or two more models fully painted before next week’s game.

One slightly odd thing I did was that I added a lot of brass to their guns; while extensive use of brass on guns isn’t very realistic as brass framed firearms went out of style over a century ago, I like mixing brass and steel on my metal bits and love the look of TMM brass with a nice deep purple shade.

Finally, I made myself a little display for them out of a few bits of the sector mechanicus terrain and some sheet styrene. It’s far from perfect, but it’s a nice little extra thing that allows them to have their own special place in my display cabinet.

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Upcoming projects

At the moment, I’m neck deep in Necromunda terrain, trying to get everything I have accumulated for the campaign nicely painted up. However, as I finish that project, I have a few things in mind to do next. First, of course, there is clearing off my shelf of shame. There are only seven models remaining: a unit of Greylord Outriders, a heavily converted Vlad3, and a customized Ruin that spontaneously disassembled after falling off my desk a few days ago. I also have a couple models that I’m planning on using as pets for Necromunda, as the real models don’t exist yet and even if they did, I’m not sure I want to pay Forge World prices for them.

In the stash, I have an Me-109B fighter kit that I want to do up in Spanish Republican colours, representing the one that they captured during the Spanish Civil War. I’ve been a little afraid of some of the small parts, photo-etch and cockpit details included in the kit, but I can’t keep avoiding it forever, especially not if I want to enter it in a themed contest coming up in February. Also, with the focus as of late being on banging out armies, it’s been a little while since I’ve done a display piece, so I’d like to work on either a small model or a bust once I clear my plate.

Finally, there is always finishing those probably ill-conceived chariot conversions. Or, I could just totally blow my new year’s resolution to manage the number of unpainted miniatures I own and totally splurge on sales from the likes of Reaper or Bad Squiddo, but I would never be so irresponsible, would I?

Oh wait, their miniatures come with free candy. Never mind then.

 

 

Paintlog: Dana Murphy and fun with airbrushing inks

I’ve been falling behind on updating this blog, partly because I have a couple articles half-written that I haven’t had the motivation to actually finish. While those are still on the back burner, I figured it would be a good idea to update some of my readers with information on a recent project I did which involved some interesting techniques to accomplish something that most people consider to be very difficult.

Yes, I’m talking about painting yellow.

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Dana Murphy (72mm), Reaper #01407

Yellow is a colour that a lot of people struggle with, including myself. Until this project, my preferred method for painting yellow was “pick another colour scheme.” This is for a couple reasons; the main one being that yellow tends to be a very transparent colour with weaker pigments. As a result, you don’t get very good coverage, especially if you’ve punished yourself by trying to paint it straight over black primer or some other dark colour. And in trying to get good coverage, it is very easy to end up laying it on too thick and ending up with a patchy, horrible looking mess.

But what if we were to take advantage of that transparency? There is a trick that a lot of miniature painters use called zenithal shading, which is where you prime the mini black, then hit it from above and in the direction of the light source with a rattle can or airbrush to effectively preshade your model by making it lighter where the light is hitting it. Matt DiPietro of Contrast Miniatures has taken this one step further and developed a process he calls “sketch style” where one follows that up with transparent glazes to colour the model, and end up with good results quickly. By taking advantage of the natural transparency of paint, you can use the preshading you did in your initial steps and basically paint by numbers, automatically getting your highlights and shadows depending on whether you’re painting over black, white, or a shade of grey.

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Colours used – I used Reaper paints and FW & Holbien inks, but you could use your brand of choice for most of these. Citadel Casandora Yellow is on the far right.

Of course, shadows aren’t always as simple as adding a bit of black or a bit of white because of colour theory. So, knowing a bit about colour theory and being inspired by a couple things I’ve seen online, I decided that I wanted purple shadows, and the yellow to progress from purple into orange, yellow, and maybe a touch of white in the highest highlight.

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(1) primed mini, (2) first coat of purple

So, with the figure primed in my white primer of choice (I believe I used GW Corax White, with Reaper for touchups) (1), the first step in my journey on painting yellow was to load up my airbrush with a dark purple and began spraying from below (2). At this stage, it was more important to get it everywhere in the shadows than to be clean with it because I was going to cover up most of it anyways with more layers of paint.

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Step (3), front and back.

Following that, I grabbed a lighter colour of purple and went for my second coat. This time, however, I used a zenithal technique, focusing on spraying from above and leaving the dark purple in the deepest shadows (3). I also focused my fire on the front of the model, because when it comes to composition for a single figure, it’s good to have the main light source coming from the front. You can see this in the difference between the front and back. After that, I repeated the process with white, being a little more controlled with my spray and leaving some of both shades of purple present in the shadows but covering up the purple on the upward-facing surfaces, and again, focusing my fire on the front, where most of the light is going to be hitting her (4).

 

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Step (4) – note how the shadows are more readily visible from above

By now you are probably thinking that this article was going to be about painting yellow. Well, no fear, here is where we finally break out the yellow. I’ve got a couple different shades of yellow FW acrylic artist inks, one of which is a very bright lemony yellow, while the other is a little more golden. These inks, as I discussed in a previous article, are basically acrylic paints with a high pigment density and very thin consistency. As a result, they can actually go through an airbrush on a low pressure setting quite nicely; practically drop and shoot with a minimum of clogging.

This is also where the natural transparency of yellows is an advantage. A thin coat of yellow won’t do much to change the colour of those purple shadows, however if we spray it on over white, we’re going to get a nice bright yellow. So, with my shadows established in purple, I wanted to work up to my highlights, so I took my darker yellow and sprayed it over pretty much the entire model, ensuring to at least cover up all the white. After letting that dry, I followed up with some of my brighter yellow from above, and finally, added a bit of white to the bright yellow to get the highest highlight (4).

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After the first attempt at yellow (4)

Here, I ran into a bit of a problem. The highlights and shadows were looking good, but the transitions weren’t that great. Going from purple to yellow is a very stark transition, and I felt it needed something in between. So, I reached for Citadel’s Casandora Yellow shade, which despite its name is actually an orangey wash. After putting a few drops in my airbrush, I fired it into the shadows and all over the mini, getting basically all over and allowing the wash to sink into the shadows and anywhere where I needed either the depth of the wash or  that midtone transition colour (5).

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(5) After the Casandora Yellow, it’s now a bit too orange. Just like a certain world leader…

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No problem, I can just fix it up by re-highlighting the yellow (6)

The Casandora Yellow did a great job of bringing the yellows and purples together, but it unfortunately made the entire model a little more orange than I wanted and kind of killed the highlights wherever it went. Which was no problem — all I had to do was load up some more yellow inks and re-highlight by spraying from above with the airbrush, and then mixing in a little white to the lightest yellow for the highest highlight (6). The end result was a very nice, rich yellow which really sold the illusion of light and shadow at that scale.

From there, the yellows were done and it was time to put away the airbrush and pull out the brushes, because with that done, I was happy to brush paint the rest of the model. Of course, in doing so, I was careful not to get paint on the areas I wanted to keep yellow, as it would be hard to colour match such a complicated base coat. Also, areas such as the cream-coloured bits on her uniform had highlights and shadows blended in to match the lighting and shadows on the yellow — after all, it would look strange to have this perfectly shaded yellow next to a strap or a belt with no shading at all.

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“Once you’re done with the yellow, just pull out a brush and do the rest. No big deal, right?”

Another little detail where I really like how it turned out was the tricorder looking thing on her left thigh. Here, I think the edge highlight on the top corner really helps sell the shape to the viewer, and I had some fun with the colours on the screens. The little heart monitor screen is actually painted on with white and then glazed with green, to give an old-school monochrome CRT monitor vibe, and I like how the contrast between the edge highlight and the transition on the blue square worked out.

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See: Tricorder

Finally, as soon as I attached her to the base I noticed that the composition seemed off. I had glued metal rods into her feet to attach her to a handle while I was painting her, and the last step in theory would have been to clip those rods down to size, drill corresponding holes in the base, add a little super glue and drop her in. But when I drilled the holes, I centered them longitudinally, faining to take into account the fact that she was leaning off to one side. So once I got her in there, the whole piece looked off-balance. And with a contest deadline looming, I really didn’t have the time or the desire to fill those holes, re-prime, re-paint, and try again. So, as a last minute fix, I grabbed a tiny switch from an electronics project, clipped off the legs, and glued it to the base near her left foot. After hitting it with some primer, I quickly painted some blue gunmetal NMM highlights and a big red button, colours which were already used on the figure in small doses, but would stand out enough to balance out the imbalance created by having her leaning to one side. I think it worked, and definitely helped save the model composition-wise.

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My little mistake in positioning her on the base is most apparent at this angle. Without the little button, she’s way too far to one side because I centered her feet without taking into account her pose. Also, see the shadows here.

Conclusion

This was a fun project for a lot of reasons. First, it allowed me the opportunity to play with my brand new Badger Krome, which I picked up in the recent Badger 54th Birthday promotion. Second, I was able to use the airbrush to, in a short time, easily accomplish an effect that would be very difficult trying to do with a brush. Third, it just turned out really well, and I’m very happy with the end result. I feel as though I learned a lot in the process, especially as I’ve been shying away from yellow because I haven’t had much success with it before. Also, I took her to the IPMS Montreal (Réal Côté) show last weekend, where she won first place in the fantasy figures category, so that was a nice result as well. I think it’s always a good sign when one of the pieces you are most proud of is your most recent piece, and I think as I look back on my hobby journey, this will be one that represents a big step forward.

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Also, insert gratuitous T&A here

 

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Nancy Does NMM

As I mentioned in my last post, my Nancy Steelpunch miniature from Scale75 did well at HeritageCon this year, pulling in a silver in the Fantasy Figures category. In addition to being a cool sculpt with the punkish undercut, goggles, and steampunk robotic arms that she is named for, Nancy represents an important milestone on my hobby journey. She was the first model that I had done using a non-metallic metal (NMM) technique, which was on my list of hobby resolutions for this year.

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Nancy

 

What is NMM?

Now, while figure painters may know what I’m talking about, I can already hear the scale modellers who read this blog scratching their head, so let’s take a step back hear and talk about shiny things. Take a look at this picture of a hatchet I found online. When our eyes look at it, without even thinking about it, our brain detects the pattern and registers it as a somewhat shiny steel colour. We instinctively know that the surface of this axe head is a more or less uniform, somewhat reflective grey metal. However, if I open up Microsoft Paint and use the eyedropper tool, we can see that the colours that make up the shininess are a little more complex. If I wanted to draw a picture of this axe head, instead of just taking out a silver crayon and running it over the entire shape, I would have to play a little with shadow and highlight colours to represent how the light hits and reflects off of the wavy surface of the axe. As you can see, particularly in the third and fourth colour I’ve picked out, the actual colours that make up this image are not uniform and run the spectrum from almost white to almost black.

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The strip on the bottom represents the colour of the pixels at the location at the end of the red line

Another thing you can do is simply take a hobby knife, ideally one with a scalpel blade, hold it under your work lamp, and turn it around in your hand while looking carefully at it. Look at what you see, not what you think you see. Your brain will tell you that the blade is a uniform piece of metal. But depending on how the blade catches the light, you might see a particular part of the blade appear as bright white or almost black or any shade in between, depending on if that particular piece of the blade is reflecting the light into your eye or not. If it helps, take a picture with your phone and look at that, looking carefully at the glints of light bouncing off the blade.

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Now, getting back to miniature painting, one of the keys to painting at this scale is that light doesn’t interact with objects quite the same way at these small scales. It’s why so much of miniature painting involves painting in highlights and shadow colours in order to convey how the light would interact with an object at scale. It’s also why just slapping a coat of metallic paints onto the blade of a sword just doesn’t look right.

Non-metallic metal is one way (but not the only way) to address this issue when it comes to models with a lot of metallic pieces. Non-metallic metals allow the painter to take full control of the interaction between light and the object and make it look more appropriate at scale. To do this, instead of relying on shiny paints, you paint the metal piece with flat colours, painting on all the glints and shadows. It’s called non-metallic metal because you are using non-metallic paints to achieve a metal effect, and it is similar to the techniques a 2D artist might use if he were tasked with drawing something shiny.

Sharp Highlights

Just saying “oh yeah, just paint on the glints and reflections” sounds like one of those things that is easier said than done, but if you understand lighting well, you can get a grasp on it. Even moreso than regular miniature painting, non-metallic metals are an exercise in lighting and contrasts. In order to be successful, you need to figure out where you want to place the light and apply some really sharp contrasts. Looking back at our scalpel blade, we can see that it is mostly a fairly dull, dark grey, with some near-white highlights where the light catches it. The green circle represents an area which is reflecting the light towards the viewer, while the red circle represents edges that are just catching a glint of light. By painting on this highlight and these edge highlights, we can convey the reflectiveness of the surface even by using flat paints. Further, the edge highlights also help the viewer pick up on the shape of the blade at a glance, which is good for making details pop.

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See how the circled areas look almost white due to the highlight.

Steel and Brass

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Not mine, just something cool I found CMON

One of the other interesting things about non-metallic metal is that you can easily paint metals in any colour using this technique. If you want to paint up, say, a figure of Iron Man from the Marvel universe, you can just use the various shades of red you have kicking around instead of trying to find red metallic paints.

This is something that is useful in the world of steampunk fantasy. One of the things I really like about Steampunk settings is that there is a lot of brass present on machinery and metal parts. This means that when you are choosing a colour scheme, you can add some contrast to your metallics by “alternating” between silver and brass colours. You can do steel parts with brass trim, brass parts with silver trim, brass rivets on steel plates, and so on. This allows you to really make details pop, and is something that I chose to take advantage of for Nancy’s mechano-fists. The steampunk mechanical arms are a key distinctive element on this model, and they are filled with plenty of little mechanical details that I wanted to be apparent even at a glance.

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Ultra close up of the mechano-fists

The Process

I was a little intimidated when it came to actually doing the NMM, so it was one of the last things that I had done on this model. When it came to choosing colour, as I mentioned above, I knew I wanted to have both brass and steel to pick out the mechanical bits. But for the steel, I decided to go for something with a bit more blue in it than traditional grey metal. This, I felt, would do two things. First, the blue steel would go well with some of the blue in her clothing and the hints of blue in the highlights on the black parts of her clothes. Second, the blue and brass would give me some nice contrast on the fists themselves on a cool/warm dimension.

So, to start off, I laid down some base colours. For the steel, I used a couple coats of Reaper’s Blue Liner, which is a dark blue that is very near black. Reaper’s Liner paints are formulated for blacklining, a technique where you paint thin lines in the cracks on models to separate distinct parts, and tend to have a little more flow to them than regular paints. However, I have found them to be good not only for priming Bones figures, but also as base coats for things that I want to paint near-black. I use their Grey Liner a lot for painting black, for example, as it is close enough to black to read as intended, but not quite black so it allows me to go into the shadows with a darker colour such as pure black.

Anyways, starting with a base coat of that Blue Liner, I next worked up to Gravedigger Denim and Frostbite from P3, two colours which are somewhat desaturated blues, with the denim being a midtone and the frostbite being almost white. I applied the Gravedigger Denim to areas where I wanted it to be lighter, then followed up with some very sharp highlights with the frostbite — mostly just thin lines where the metal is catching a glint of light. Finally, I edge highlighted the figure with frostbite as well, to represent the areas where the light is catching an edge.

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Progress on the mechano-hands

For the brass, I did something similar. I did an initial base coat in brown, but didn’t like that so I went back to the drawing board and mixed some Tanned Leather from Reaper with some grey liner to get a dark, desaturated colour that still has some of the yellow-orange that I want to it. From there, I highlighted up to straight Tanned Leather, then Blond Hair (Reaper), and then a Menoth White Highlight (P3) for the highest highlight. As always, these are just the colours I used; you can use whatever you have on hand and mix on your wet palette (you are using a wet palette, right?) to get a similar effect.

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Colours used — Blue steel on left, Brass on right

Final thoughts

Non-metallic metal can be an intimidating sounding technique. However, once I got down to it, it actually seemed to be a little easier than I thought it would be. The main lessons I took away from it were:

  1. Understand where the light is coming from
  2. Go all the way from very dark to very light
  3. Use sharp highlights to convey glints of light

It’s also easier when you have something to go off of, so taking a close look at miniatures that have been painted with this technique or even just art of the figure that you are trying to paint can help you understand it better before taking the plunge. Even if you don’t plan on using NMM as a common technique in your repertoire, doing a few pieces in NMM can help you understand how light interacts with reflective surfaces like metals, and in turn help you with painting metallics in general.

As for me, I’ve got the Nancy Steelpunch 1/12 scale bust as well, so that’s going to be an interesting project…

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Paintlog: Mary Read

So, this was something that I had been working on for a while and I’ve alluded to in previous posts, but I think it’s time to do a paintlog of my Mary Read bust from Scale75. This was my first bust, and my first crack at something in 1/12 scale, though I did do a Reaper figure in an intermediate scale as practice for levelling up from 30mm to 1/12, and I’d say it turned out pretty good, in spite of me breaking my hand partway through and having to paint one-handed.

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Anyways, just to get it out of the way first, there was a bit of controversy with this kit. This was one of the busts from their Naughty Gears kickstarter campaign, and I got it (among a few others) as part of this campaign. Scale75 had initially shown a very different model in their concept art, however shortly after the campaign closed and they took everyone’s money, they informed backers that the original Mary Read was no longer available due to a copyright issue, and that they were going to be offering a completely different model in her stead. After getting a bit of flak from their backers, Scale75 relented and created a new sculpt of Mary Read, changing her just enough to avoid any sort of copyright issue.

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Original (left) and actual product (right). That hair, yo…

I have to admit, I was initially a little disappointed with the new sculpt when Scale75 first showed the photos of it. The original had some pretty awesome elements that I was looking forward to painting, particularly the hair, which really sold me on upping my pledge level and getting this model. However, the new sculpt had grown on me, particularly once I started getting some flesh tones down, and looking at the finished product, I have to say that it may be a little cheescakey with the amount of exposed skin, but I really like her sculpt. Her expression exudes the right amount of confidence and badassery appropriate for a pirate captain, particularly one who can pull off that corset.

This kit comes in about six or so pieces and is made out of a grey resin. Some of the pieces are small and fragile, such as the two dreadlocks hanging down by her face or, as I was to learn the hard way, the feet of the parrot. This kit includes two options for her right arm; one holding a gun and one holding a piece of fruit. The parrot on the right shoulder is optional, and one could with just a little bit of filling leave off the two deadlocks hanging down next to her face or the gun at her waist if you so desire.

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For someone who is used to assembling mid-quality miniatures from companies like PP, this one went together like a dream. Mold lines ranged from tiny to nonexistent, and there weren’t any alignment issues to speak of. There were some tiny bubbles in the resin, but they were easily covered by even a thin layer of primer. I did a tiny bit of sanding and filling, but the precision of the fit probably means that except for maybe where the arm fits to the body, you could get away with just gluing it together and getting straight on to priming. The model is also fairly well-engineered, in that the seam between the right arm and the body is somewhat concealed by the bandages on her right arm. As someone who doesn’t like assembly and fixing up gaps and seams and just wants to get on with the painting, I was really happy with how nicely she went together.

Once the kit was (mostly) put together, I primed it with the airbrush with white Stynylrez. In case I haven’t mentioned it, Stynylrez is a great primer for plastic and resin miniatures, and since it’s made by Badger of airbrush fame, you can basically just drop in in your airbrush and shoot. Once that had fully cured, I pulled out the airbrush once more to paint the corset. This corset was something that I thought I might have trouble placing the highlights and shadows on, and it was something I didn’t think I got quite right on Yephima, my practice model, so I figured by doing it with the airbrush, I could use the zenithal method of spraying from the angle that the light is coming from and that would be a lot easier than trying to place my highlights manually and blending them in.

So, out came the airbrush, and with a little bit of help from a colour chart and a quick stop at my friendly local game store to get the one colour I was missing, I figured out the exact colours to use. I started with Coal Black as the deepest shadow colour, which is one of the really good colours in P3’s range. It’s a blackish, bluish, greenish colour which works really nicely as a shadow colour either straight or mixed with your base colour. Or just for anything where you don’t want to go to straight black because of colour theory.

Once I laid down the Coal Black into all the shadows, I moved on to Sanguine Base, covering up most of the Coal Black but letting it show through in the deepest recesses. Then onto Sanguine Highlight, and finally mixing in a little Menoth White Highlight, a warm, cream-coloured off-white, to get the highest highlight without making it look too pinkish, as it would have if I went for straight white as my highlight colour to mix in.

P3 paints thin down quite nicely for use in an airbrush, but they do need to be transferred into dropper bottles because their paint pots are quite possibly the worst in the business and dropper bottles are so much more convenient for airbrush work.

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Dear Privateer Press: Forget the game rules, please do a CID on your horrible, horrible paint pots so I don’t have to transfer your paint into dropper bottles. Also, while you’re at it, make my Assault Kommandos great again.

As for the skin tone, my chronic inability to follow a studio scheme is well-documented, so when I saw something in their “Steampunk in Miniature” painting guide about how steampunk models should traditionally have pale skin, I immediately know what to do. In true George Costanza fashion, I chose to do the opposite.

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Initial painting of skin, and my wet palette at work as I mixed the colours to paint her.

This skin tone involved a lot of colours and a lot of wet blending. First, I base coated it with Reaper’s Soft Blue, which I find to be a good base coat for skin because of a bunch of reasons that have to do with colour theory, shadows, and the nature of the translucent sacks of meat that we walk around in every day. Next up was Idrian Flesh from P3, which I love for medium-dark skin tones, and which I applied in a couple coats, covering up almost all of the blue, but letting it show through in the deepest shadows. Also on my palette, I can see some Tanned Skin and Fair Skin from Reaper, as well as Khardic Flesh and Ryn Flesh from P3, all of which went into my highlights in various amounts as I mixed them on a palette and applied them in ever-increasing highlights. This isn’t the end of my painting flesh; I would touch it up in a few areas as the project progressed, as well as applying a glaze of Idrian Flesh and Vallejo Glaze Medium to bring it all together and smooth out my blends.

If you want more information about my process for painting skin, see my presentation to a local IPMS group.

For the lips, I went with a dark makeup of Red Shadow from Reaper, which just a little bit of a sharp highlight on the lower lip to convey volume and reflection. For the eyes, I went in with Walnut Brown from Reaper for the liner and pupil, and Misty Grey with a hint of a flesh tone for the whites. Generally when painting whites (or painting figures in general) you don’t want to go all the way to a straight white. This is because the whites of the eyes aren’t actually white, and if you paint them like that, your figure will look surprised and googly-eyed, and a messed up eyeball is going to be the first thing that a viewer is going to notice. The eyes on this figure are probably a little whiter than would be realistic (I used a very light grey, with just a touch of flesh tone in it) but that is a deliberate choice that I made. With her darker skin, I wanted to put a little extra contrast in the eyes just to make them look a more intense, as well as draw the eye of the viewer upwards away from the chest and balance out some of the light trim on the corset. Whether a competition judge would agree with that decision remains to be seen, but it’s one that I’m happy with.

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Next up was the hair. I base coated it in Walnut Brown from Reaper, which is a very near-black brown. I don’t remember the exact combination of washes and glazes and whatnot that went into it, but one of the keys to painting dark hair is the highlights. Hair is naturally oily, and those oils are reflective, so some very sharp highlights are necessary to convey the shape of the hair and the light reflecting off of it. When it comes to dark hair, I like to use desaturated blues as my highlight colour, in this case going all the way up to P3’s Frostbite, which is a very light, faded blue which is one of my personal go-to colours in P3’s line. I also did some washes and glazes to blend it all together; when it comes to hair, a black wash can help in the shadows, and a nice glaze can help pull all your highlights back together.

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Hair, before and after highlights. Also, see a before and after of the glaze on the stocks of the guns and the leather sash.

Also in the above pictures, you can see some of the work on the corset. While there was some detail sculpted onto the corset of the figure, it was pretty fine and hard to make out, so I ended up more or less freehand painting the patterns on, using the box art as reference. Of course, I also kept with the studio colour scheme for this filigree, as gold and purple go together quite nicely. For work like this, the secret is simple — a good brush with a fine tip and some nice, thin paints which flow smoothly off the brush with the lightest touch. Either a 00 or a 10/0 liner will work for something like this, and if you haven’t built up the brush control necessary to pull this off yet, you will with some practice.

The leather sash was something that I also went back and forth a little on, eventually deciding to go with Reaper’s Oiled Leather as a base colour. I painted on a couple scratches, and then used a couple of dark washes and glazes with a hint of blue in the shadows to give it that worn, beaten look. Finally, I used the technique I wrote about last week for painting woodgrains on the stocks of the pistols; the glossy nature of the Scale75 glazes work perfectly to represent a fine, varnished wooden stock.

After finishing painting the rest of the bits, using my true metallic metal techniques on the metals and plenty of blending and edge highlighting on the rest, it came to time to put the parrot on. And here is where I ran into a bit of a problem. When I started this project, I figured I would paint the parrot and the head separately, otherwise it would be impossible to get in there with the brush. Unfortuantely, here is where a little problem came in. I had fractured my hand falling down some stairs partway through this project, which meant that while I could continue to hold the figure with the cast and paint her with my good hand, painting the parrot and gluing it on was out of the question until the cast came off and I got a bit of dexterity back.

Normally that wouldn’t be too much of a problem, but remember how I said that some of these parts were fragile? Well, at some point while this project was off on the side of my workbench, both the legs had broken off the parrot and disappeared.

So, I had some sculpting to do. After cleaning off the nubs where the legs broke off, I took my pin vise and some brass rod and drilled and pinned the bird to the shoulder, with the brass rod representing where the legs would go. From there, I took some epoxy putty (I believe it was Brown Stuff from Green Stuff World) and sculpted the legs and feet around the brass rod. A bit of primer and some paint, and it was good as new, or at least good enough that most people probably won’t notice.

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There, good as new

From there, it was just a matter of some blacklining in the cracks, a few touch ups here and there, popping her off the pill bottle and onto the display base, and making up a little display sign for her out of a primed piece of a miniature blister pack. After priming and base coating the piece in black with my airbrush, I drew out my design with a pen and paper a few times until I was comfortable with it, and then brought out the brushes and did it for real. A drop of super glue, and Mary Read was complete.

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Conclusion

Busts are fun. Because of the nature of the piece, you get to focus your painting on areas like the head, face, etc., where you have the most interesting parts of the miniature, and not have to worry about painting boring stuff like pants. While busts are traditionally cut off at the arms and purists may decry the choice of including a little more than on a traditional bust, I think Scale75 made the right call in including either one or both arms on these models; just having one arm holding an object like a gun or a blacksmith’s hammer can really add some character to the figure that wouldn’t necessarily be present otherwise.

This was an important milestone on my hobby journey. First, the result is something that I am quite proud of, and I’m looking forward to putting her on the table for some competitions and get some feedback on her. Second, this was my first bust and my first project in this scale, so it was nice to know that I can do something in a scale way bigger than 30mm and work on a project where I have enough surface area to really explore all the highlights, shadows, and freehand details. Finally, I feel that this project represents a true evolution from an army painter who rocks an above-average army while losing at Warmachine to a true display quality painter. She may not be perfect, especially when she is put next to the work of some Crystal Brush winning professional painter, but she represents a huge step on my journey as a painter. And, really, that’s what it’s all about — your personal journey as a hobbyist.

“I painted that one-handed…”

So, as I mentioned in my last post, I recently suffered a fracture to my hand, which knocked me out of gaming and typing for about a month. The only silver lining was that as the pill bottles I use as miniature holders fit in my cast rather nicely, so I could still make some hobby progress. Assembly and major conversions were out of the question, but I was able to put a large dent in my shelf of shame.

Laril Silverhand

IMG_2480.JPGI mentioned in a previous post that I had started on Laril Silverhand (03803) from Reaper. Well, I managed to finish her up. I didn’t quite go for the full-on dark moonlit night as I originally planned, but I do think the OSL on the sword does a good job of conveying the scene and the heat of the sword as it was just pulled out of the furnace. Reaper minis tend to be a touch smaller than what I’m used to from Privateer Press, but not too much; Laril here was perhaps 10% smaller than the equivalent PP mini.

Anyways, for this OSL, what I did was I started by basecoating the sword with Vallejo Metal Color Gunmetal Grey. This is the darkest silver paint I own, and the VMC metals are nice and smooth. For the sword itself, I applied layers of red and bright orange, blending them out so they smoothly transition from bright, hot orange to warm red to cold steel. On top of that, I did a yellow edge highlight along the edges of the blade to convey its shape. For the glow, I started by figuring out where the glow of the sword would hit her apron, anvil, arm, etc. Then, I applied the highlights as glazes, starting with red and working up to brighter oranges and yellows as we get closer to the sword.

Man-O-Wars

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Drakhuns with dismounted versions

With the Khador Man-O-War CID in full swing, I decided it was time to start putting a dent in to the large collection of assembled, primed, airbrushed Man-O-War models that were in my collection. Man-O-Wars are basically elite soldiers from the Khadoran army stuffed into steam-powered armoured suits which make them extremely tough and also occasionally malfunction and scald them to death. I decided to bang out two Drakhuns (cavalry models, mounted on the world’s unluckiest horses) and a Kovnik (officer with a flag).  The Drakhuns are dragoon solos for Warmachine, so each model comes with two versions — one mounted version, and one dismounted version which can continue the fight after being shot off his or her horse. So with two Drakhuns and one Kovnik, that’s five models total.

 

Now, these models are very detailed, including certain –ahem- anatomically correct bits on the horses. So they were a bit of a time consuming project, especially for someone like me whose style often involves a lot of contrast, a lot of picking out details, and a lot of heavy edge highlighting. To distinguish the two Drakhuns on the tabletop, I did a couple things. First, I painted one horse grey and the other brown. Second, I did a head swap for one of them. Instead of the standard helmet, I pinned the head from Alexia, Mistress of the Witchfire on there, which I had acquired from the PP bits store. I chose this head for two reasons. First, she’s got a cool angry expression on her face. Second, the motherland requires both its sons and daughters to carry on the struggle against the forces of Cygnar and Cryx, so I like to represent a bit more gender diversity in my army than is normally in the PP Khador line. With Man-O-War, since they are covered up by such big, bulky armoured suits, a simple head swap is all that is necessary to convert one into a Woman-O-War.

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Man-O-War Kovnik

For the Kovnik, I didn’t want to do a purple flag because it’s my second one and I want to be able to distinguish them on the tabletop. So, I went for pink, but I chose a bit different shade of pink for the cloth flag than I did for the armour, just to convey that they are made of different materials.

 

The other thing with these Man-O-War models is that some of the older sculpts are metal, and the newer ones are plastic. Which normally wouldn’t be a problem, except for the reality of scale creep in PP’s sculpts. The old metal Man-O-War miniatures are just a little smaller than the newer plastic ones, so to make them look a little more consistent on the tabletop, I elevated them slightly, using a layer of cork between the feet and the base. It doesn’t totally fix the scale issue, but it at least makes the models a consistent, uniform height which works out well at a glance.

Sofya Skirova

IMG_2501.JPGKapitan Sofya Skirova is a badass. Let’s just get that out of the way first. As an officer in the Black Dragons, the most elite pikemen in all of Khador, she has to be. On the tabletop, she has a lot of special rules which mean that she just does not die and can tough out a lot of attacks and get back into the fight.

She was one of Privateer Press’ December releases as part of their new plan of giving every faction a little something around Christmas. I’ve been waiting for her to come out ever since they spoiled some of the character art in No Quarter, however I think it may have been a bit of a missed opportunity there; when I first saw her art, I was hoping that she would be either the daughter or the wife of Lord Kozlov, our new battlebox caster, but that’s something that I can just headcanon.

In order to convey this badassery, I decided to do something special for her base. First, it goes without saying that she needs to tower over lesser models on the tabletop, so she needs a little height on the base. This was easily accomplished with a lump of air drying clay, as well as my usual use of acrylic artist medium for texture.

Now, height is good, but to add a little badassery, I decided to turn it up a notch and throw on some debris — a couple shields from her fallen comrades that I had traded for, as well as some Menoth bits including a warjack head that someone threw in with a sale (protip: never say no to free bits). These were, of course, weathered up a bit to indicate the origin of said bits, and really help convey the message that Sofya is one tough cookie.

Iron Fangs

IMG_2491.JPGWhile I’m at it, I also banged out the Iron Fang Pikemen that I had previously assembled. Aside from the hell that is assembling, converting, and magnetizing a whole unit of metal pikemen, I decided to do a little bit of an experiment on these guys. Normally, I wouldn’t use my airbrush for models this small, but I figured that perhaps I could save some time and get good results by airbrushing the purple on, including the shadows and highlights, then going back and brush painting the chainmail with some nice, smooth VMC metals. The other thing I did was use very targeted washes. As I’ve gotten better and better at painting, I’ve been less and less reliant on slathering a mini in Nuln Oil. That is not to say that washes such as Nuln Oil are not useful, but there are a lot of times where you want to be more targeted with them than just an all-over wash. Here, I pretty much just washed the metals and fur and for the rest, just kept the airbrushed or blended highlights au naturel. Overall, this gave good results, and given the amount of time I’ve saved, I am definitely going to be doing a lot more airbrushing on smaller miniatures.

Still on the bench…

IMG_2509.JPGI have a couple projects still on my workbench. First off is Karchev the Terrible, or Special K as I call her. You will note my use of the feminine in this case; a friend had commented on my habit on doing gender-bending conversions in my army and, well, one thing led to another and next thing I knew, I was grabbing a jeweler’s saw and a Statuesque Miniatures head. She’s a woman in a machine, an old warrior kept alive by life support systems, magic, and the giant steam-powered warjack that she was bolted into because reasons. I’ve got all the base coats laid down, and the shading done on the base and legs, so I’m probably pretty close to done, all things considered.

IMG_2506.JPGFinally, my take on Scale75’s 1/12 scale Mary Read bust is almost done, after a little mishap with the parrot that ended up with me needing to break out the sculpting tools. I still need to highlight the metals, do a bit of work on the parrot, and do some miscellaneous touchups, hightlights, and shadows here and there, but she is getting close to done. This was a really fun project, so much that I spent more money than I care to admit on Scale75’s latest kickstarter. I’m hoping to be able to make it out to HeritageCon in Hamilton in a few weeks, and if so, I’m going to definitely enter her into the figures category and see how I do. That is, as long as I can get her done by then.

Conclusion

In spite of my busted up hand, it’s actually been a productive month in terms of my hobby progress, and I’ve happily finished a few things that have been on my shelf of shame for way too long. Something about not being able to go out gaming or do much of anything is one way to ensure you will get a lot of hours at the workbench, though I still wouldn’t recommend breaking your hand as a motivational technique.

What’s on the bench – Feb 2018

So, January was a bit of an odd month for me hobby-wise. On the one hand, I was either out of town or had company over for at least a week. Further, I was hit with some sort of nasty sickness which I would guess had a neutral effect on my hobby productivity – on the one hand, my productivity really decreased due to my illness, but on the other, there were a few days where I had to call in sick to work and was left at home with nothing to do but rest and paint models.

Anyways, I had finished some stuff off that had been on my shelf for a while, and started some new projects. I finished painting my Zerkova2 unit, completing her two bodyguards to fill out the unit. I also buckled down and finished my first pure display project in a while, my “black sheep” model that I had started on last year. In addition, I tried out a new scale with Reaper’s Yephima model, which turned out quite nicely.

Display models

IMG_2397.JPGFirst up, I’ve got Laril Silverhand (03803) from Reaper, an elven blacksmith with an eye patch. This is one of their old metal models, and she comes with a sword, hammer, and an anvil resting upon a log. I really like her sculpt; instead of portraying her as a waifish elf lady, they’ve gone a bit more realistic route and gave her the sort of muscle tone that one might expect from a blacksmith (even an elven one). I’ve got her installed on a base similar to the one I made for my black sheep, only smaller as I’ve used the 25mm plinth instead of the 40mm. In order to practice some different lighting effects that I might want to use for some of my Scale75 Naughty Gears busts, I think I’m going to try to portray her as working late, perhaps on a moonlit night. My plan is to have her mostly painted as though she is in low-light conditions, but with some orange OSL emanating from the sword, emphasizing that she had just pulled it out of the furnace and it is still glowing brightly.

IMG_2392Next is my 1/12 scale Mary Read bust from Scale75. People who pledged to the kickstarter may remember that this was the one that there was some controversy over, and which Scale75 had to resculpt due to a copyright issue. The kit comes in a few pieces, with the gun at her waist, her right arm, the two little dreadlocks hanging down from the front of her face, and a parrot being separate pieces. There are two options for the right arm included in the kit with her holding either a gun or a piece of fruit. The parrot is designed to go on her right shoulder, but one has the option of leaving it off as well. And I’m sure if you don’t mind doing a little bit of sanding and filling, you can easily leave off any of the other little pieces. I decided to go with the gun, and I haven’t decided what to do with the parrot yet. I think she might look a little odd with both a gun at her waist and one in her hand, but two guns is pretty cool.

Anyways, aside from the parrot, I’ve gotten her all assembled and primed, and I managed to get some airbrushing in, despite a minor mishap involving a small part from my airbrush and my bathroom sink. My plan is to bring her to an IPMS build day on the weekend, so I wanted to get all the airbrushing done on her in advance so all I had left to do was brush painting.

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When it came to choosing a colour scheme, I knew I wanted to do the gold filigree on her corset as shown in the studio scheme. I kind of wanted to go with purple, but I didn’t want to just copy the studio scheme, so I settled on a sanguine colour. Using P3 paints, I basecoated the entire corset with Coal Black from the airbrush, which I was going to use as a shadow colour. I then moved on up to Sanguine Base as my main colour, and highlighted with Sanguine Highlight. As a final highlight, I mixed in some Menoth White Highlight as recommended by the P3 colour charts. I’ll be brush painting her flesh tones, but I wanted to get this done with the airbrush to make it easier to place the highlights appropriately on the corset.

Warmachine Stuff

I’ve decided to take a little break from Warmachine for a variety of reasons, some of which have come to a head over the past couple weeks, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t still have some models on the shelf. I’m planning on going to the Southern Ontario Open this year, and aside from taking in as much hobby content as I can, I want to participate in their Champions tournament again. Champions requires a player to choose his or her warcasters/warlocks from the ADR list, so my choices are Sorscha1, Vlad3, Old Witch 2, and Kozlov. Sorscha1 was the first caster that I played regularly and you never forget your first, so she’s in my pairing for sure. Since I don’t have OW2, and I don’t have the models for a Vlad3 list, that leaves Kozlov as the other caster in my pairing. Since I want to do Kozlov in Armored Korps, that means I’ve got some Man-O-Wars to pull off the shelf of shame (where I keep my assembled, unpainted models) and get fully painted.

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Pictured: Shame

IMG_2396.JPGRight now, I have four Man-O-War models on my shelf; two Drakhuns, in both mounted and dismounted form. For these, I airbrushed the pink and purple, and am hand-painting the rest. I still have a lot of shading and highlights to do on both the dismounted ones, and the mounted ones are a little further behind. Also, for one of them, I picked up a couple Alexia2 heads from the Privateer Press bits store to do her unhelmented. It’s a bit of a slog because I’ve done another unit of MoW recently, but it will be nice to get them ready for both the Champions and the new goodies that will no doubt be released after the Armored Korps CID.

I also have a unit of pikemen along with Sofya Skirova started, but after getting them more than half done, I’ve kind of put them aside for now. I suspect it will still be a little while before I want to field a Legion of Steel list, and to be honest, I’ve kind of gotten tired of painting units. I’ll probably return to them after. Also on the back burner is Fenris, who I am doing a conversion on because I really do not like the original sculpt.

Finally, I did pick up some Farrow models, including Helga and some warbeasts for a journeyman league, however given that I’m taking a little break from Warmachine, I don’t see myself prioritizing them over the stuff on my shelf anytime soon.

Future Projects?

I do have a box of the Necromunda House Escher models that are just begging to be assembled and painted. I’m not sure exactly what Necromunda is or how it works, and I’ve never done the GW thing before, but they look pretty badass so that’s a thing. In addition, I’ve got some kickstarter stuff and other orders coming to me that I’m pretty excited about, as well as more Khador than I can shake a stick at to paint. I think I’m pretty set for projects for a while, and February is looking good for some serious hobby progress…

…or was, until I fell down the stairs today and may have injured my hand.

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Paintlog: Jumping Scale

For the past several months, as I’ve been building my painting skills and getting more and more into pure display painting rather than simply painting stuff up for the tabletop, I’ve been thinking of jumping up to a larger scale. Most of the figures I’ve painted in the past have been about 30mm figures for games like Warmachine. It’s not a bad scale per se, but it feels like there are a lot of details that are lost at 30mm, and a lot of shortcuts you can end up taking as a result. For example, it can be prohibitive to do anything other than just a dot to represent the iris and pupil of an eye, whereas in a bigger scale, you can actually represent these different parts of the eye and how the ambient light reflects off the pupil.

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Yephima, next to one of my first miniatures, a 28mm scale wizard in Winnipeg Blue Bombers colours

I’ve had a bunch of the 1/12 scale Naughty Gears busts from Scale75 sitting in my stash, but these are a little expensive for a first stab at a larger scale. Fortunately, I found something in my stash of 28mm scale Reaper Bones which could suffice. Yephima, Female Cloud Giant (#77162) is a 28mm scale miniature, however she represents what looks to be a 20 foot tall giant. So, in a “world’s tallest hobbit” type situation, she actually appears to be a normal sized human in what looks to be perhaps a bit bigger than 75mm scale.

And as a bonus, she’s only about $7 on the Reaper website, so if I screw her up, it’s no big deal.

Anyways, the first thing you need to know about painting Reaper Bones is that they are made up of a weird material. Bones were designed with D&D and other role-playing games in mind, so they were designed with a material that is very durable and low-cost so your DM can afford a whole stash of them and so they don’t get damaged from being handled by clumsy, cheeto-fingered gamers.

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This material has some unique properties. First off, it is rather soft, so when you are cleaning mold lines, you will need a very sharp knife. You also may need to straighten out some bent bits using hot water to make it pliable, then cold water to shock it into shape.

The most important aspect of this material, however, is how it interacts with paint. So long as it is clean (and you should always wash your miniatures with soap and water before painting), Bones material is designed to take acrylic paint straight out of the box. However, the material is also somewhat hydrophobic, which means that water will bead up on the surface. This is a problem because “thin your paints” is one of the first things you learn when painting miniatures. If you try to thin your paints with water, you’re going to have a bad time.

Fortunately, there is a solution. A first coat of undiluted paint will act as a primer and stick to the surface of the miniature, and from there, you can paint over it using paints that are thinned to your heart’s content. This article on the Reaper forums is required reading before jumping into Bones, and will save you a lot of frustration as you start.

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My skin colour palette. One of these colours is not like the other…

So, with a coat of white paint to cover up all the bare material, I dragged her out to the aviation museum to get a start at the local IPMS build day. When I paint skin, I like to start in the shadows and work my way up, so I took out my nice, #2 Raphael 8404 and my wet palette and got to work, basecoating all the skin with Reaper Soft Blue. From there, I worked up into my base flesh tone of P3 Khardic Flesh (93057), and into P3 Ryn Flesh (93059) and Reaper Fair Skin (09047) for the highlights. If you’re painting along at home, you don’t have to use these exact colours, but the principle remains the same. Start with blue, because your deepest shadows and certain areas of the skin are going to have a blue tone to them, then figure out your light source and work your way up through to your highest highlight, using blending and feathering techniques to get smooth transitions, and taking advantage of the slightly translucent nature of hobby acrylic paints as you go. And remember, Airbrush Flow Improver is your friend.

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Upon finishing up the first crack at the flesh and taking a look at her in some more natural light in the museum’s cafeteria, I realized that she was looking way too pale for my tastes. In some areas, her skin looked almost lifeless. Fortunately, I had an idea to fix it. I figured if I whipped up a glaze in a more pinkish skin tone, I could breathe a little life into the skin and also maybe smooth out some of my blends. However, I knew I also wanted to practice some freehand tattoos on her, which meant that perhaps it would be best to wait until the end.

One of the tricks with tattoos is that when they are very fresh, they have a bit of a harsh look to them, however once the skin heals from getting stabbed with a needle thousands and thousands of times, the tattoo fades into the skin a bit. If I were to simply paint the tattoos onto her using pure black, they would end up with that harsh, unhealed look. So, the trick here is to not go for a pure black; try a sort of greyish blue-black instead to avoid going too harsh. Also, by saving the glaze that I was going to do anyways to get the skin tone right until after I painted the tattoos on, that would give it a bit of a skin coloured filter to them and make the tattoos look like she’s had them for a little while.

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Before and after the glaze

Speaking of the tattoos, I ended up wanting a lot of practice a lot of different designs, so she ended up being fairly heavily tattooed. After the glaze, though, I thought she could use a little more something on the legs, so I painted on a fishnet pattern on the right leg, below the little band around her upper leg. For this, I used my secret weapon; a 10/0 liner brush and did a simple criss-cross pattern over her leg.

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Hand-painted fishnets

I also knew that for this project, I wanted to do red hair and green eyes. My goal was for her hair to look vibrant, so I went for a shade of hair that while it may not be realistic, is still appropriate for a fantasy figure, starting with brown, adding a dark wash, and working up to a bright red with a touch of off-white mixed in in places.

From there, it is a lot of my usual techniques to finish off the clothes and the mace such as blending in some highlights and using desaturated blues to highlight the black. Finally, I saved some of the highlights on the metals for the end, knowing that there is no point in working to get the metallics perfect on a display quality model only to ruin them with dullcote. I used my usual TMM brass strategy of working up through various golds to Vallejo Bright Brass at the highest highlight, and went over the silver bits as well.

Oh, and the base? I managed to source that from a little-known hobby company, and it came free with a bottle of orange juice.

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Final thoughts

This model was in the weird place of starting out as just a practice model, but as I painted it, I kind of fell in love with the sculpt and the details, and I began really putting a little more effort into it. As such, there are perhaps a few imperfections from the initial stages when I figured “oh, this is just a practice piece; I don’t care if the mold lines are perfect” which may have showed through until the end. However, I think she turned out pretty well overall. I’m pleased with the skin tone; for a first attempt at this scale, it seems to be pretty solid. The hair could perhaps use some work, as this is the first time I’ve tried to do hair at this scale and also possibly the first time I’ve gone for the fantasy redhead look. However, I’m more or less pleased with the tattoos, and feel that they, and the fishnets, add some nice character to this model.

For any miniature painter who is starting to feel as though things are getting a touch rote, I would strongly recommend picking something up in a different scale and trying it out. Taking on new challenges is one of the enjoyable parts of the hobby, and painting up Yephima here really helped rekindle some of that for me.

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The finished product

Paintlog: Obavnik Kommander Zerkova

Ah, Kommander Aleksandra Zerkova. A master of the dark arts, this blonde bombshell ruthlessly eliminates anyone who gets in her way, and looks good doing it with her tight leather outfits. Known in gamer circles as Zerkova2, the epic version comes with two Reaver Guards to protect her, and goes well on the tabletop with anything that can sling spells.

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Available from Privateer Press and your friendly local game store

I got the idea to paint her a while ago, as a possible counter to the ubiquitous Cryx Ghost Fleet/Dark Host pairing. However, in the process, I kind of fell in love with the model and had a lot of fun painting her up. Though I didn’t get a lot of photos, I felt that she did deserve a paintlog because I tried out some new and interesting stuff on her.

First off, one of the distinctive aspects to Zerkova2 in the studio artwork is the shiny leather. This was something that I haven’t really done yet, so I was excited to try it out.

Black can be a funny colour to paint sometimes, because what our eye reads as black isn’t usually not actually black. While we are taught in science class that black is black because it absorbs instead of reflects light, unless it’s some sort of crazy vantablack or the event horizon of a black hole, that’s not quite true. Black still reflects some light, and our eyes have been trained to read light reflected a certain way as black of varying shapes and textures. Our challenge, then, is understanding how light interacts with a black surface and replicate it at scale.

MatrixTrinity.jpgSo, let’s take a look at something black and shiny, such as Carrie-Anne Moss’ outfit from the Matrix movies. If we take a picture of it and look closely, we can see that the light reflecting off of some areas of her chest and arms is almost white. So, in order to replicate this and get that nice shiny effect, we are going to need to make sure our model has some sharp highlights.

Anyways, we’re probably getting ahead of ourselves here.

One of the first decisions I made on these models was the base. I decided I wanted to give them a little bit of an elevated base to give them a little more presence as I feel character models deserve it. So, I dug into the Reaper Bones collection at a local game store and found #77304, Male Thundernight, a big guy with a hammer standing at the top of a flight of stairs. It was a simple matter of slicing him off and doing a little sculpting on the top to fix up the area of the cut, and then inserting a piece of a paper clip through the plastic base, a layer of cork, the stairs, and into Zerkova’s foot.

For my colour scheme, I knew I had to keep the shiny black leather, and that I also wanted to have some light colours on some of the ending and details, mostly so that the shape of the model and all the fine details pop even from a distance. As such, decided to base coat all the black in Reaper’s Grey Liner, which is a paint that is very close to, but not quite black, and then do most of the details and edging in Amethyst Purple, which is a light purple that I use a lot for highlights on my purple army. And, of course, where you have purple, you have to have to have brass to go with it.

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Note the scar

One of the first things I painted was the face. For this, I used my usual strategy of starting with some very light grey for the eyes, placing the eyeball, and then working out, all the way from blue, to a darker skin tone, to the highest highlight at the tip of the nose. I added a scar on her right cheek from messing around with Orgoth stuff that she probably isn’t supposed to, and painted her tiny bit of hair sticking out from under her hat blonde.

Anyways, now we can return to the shiny leather jacket. As you will remember, I base coated it in Reaper’s Grey Liner. I didn’t use black, because I wanted to leave myself somewhere to go when it comes to shading it — after all, it’s hard to shade something with a darker colour when you’ve already used the darkest colour possible as your base. For my highlight colour, I decided to go with some desaturated blues, just to make the light on the cool side which I felt would go with the model better. I used P3’s Gravedigger Denim and Frostbite, which are two colors that I’ve found to be perfect for this sort of thing, though you can use whatever equivalent brand and colour you have available. The highlights were placed carefully with my brush, in such a manner that they would represent the point at where the light is hitting the jacket and reflecting off, as well as accentuating some of the… ahem… curves of the model.

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Green Orgoth glow is clearly there, but not overpowering

For the metals, I used my usual true metallic metal techniques, which worked out well and which I will write about at some point. The fur was a bit of a challenge; initially I wanted to dry brush it, but I found that there just wasn’t enough texture. So, after hitting it with some of GW’s Drakenhof Nightshate, I decided to work back up and highlight the fur with plenty of tiny grey and white dots in an almost pointillism-like technique, careful to put more white dots in the places where the light is hitting the model.  I added a couple subtle green glow effects on the badge on her chest and on her sword. I didn’t want to overpower the model with the OSL, especially because I was happy with how the face was and because I wanted to keep the focus of the light on the shiny leather, so I tried to keep it subtle, with only a little bit of green on the left side of her face and the fur near the badge.

With all that done, it was just a matter of painting up the base (lots of drybrushing and some dry pigments), sealing it, and showing it off.

Oh, and painting those two other jerks who come with her.

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Painting my Grolar, Part 3

In a previous article, we got our Grolar almost completed, putting down all the paint and getting it ready for the final few steps — weathering, basing, and a coat of varnish to protect it from grubby gamer hands.

Weathering

In general, weathering techniques are a more recent addition to my hobby repertoire.  It was only this year that I really dove into weathering. Initially, I tried to justify not doing it by saying that my warjacks were fresh out of the factory, but once I got into it, I started to really like the results.

For this model, I used four main techniques.

  1. Painted on scratches
  2. Sponge Weathering
  3. Add texture with Typhus Corrosion
  4. Dry pigments

Painted on scratches

Painting on scratches is not very complicated, however it does require a fine brush and some brush control. But before I get into how to paint it, lets imagine a plate of armour that has taken a whack from a sword or a battleaxe or something like that and consider how it will interact with the light.

In my sketch here, we have a green plate of armour with a scratch halfway up and a light source coming from the top left. Due to the geometry of the scratch, the bottom part of the scratch is going to catch the light, while the top part of the scratch is going to be shadowed.

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Left, the plate of armour with the scratch, right, the plate of armour with the top and bottom of the highlight to illustrate.

So, once we understand this, painting a cool looking scratch is going to be fairly simple, as long as you have the brush control and the right brush and paint consistency. Simply paint a dark colour for the body of the scratch, and add a thin highlight on the bottom of the scratch in a lighter version of your base colour.

This technique may not be the most accurate on a micro scale; after all, most armour plates have relatively thin green paint and relatively thick silver metal to them, and these sort of scratches will probably dig deep into the metal, the juxtaposition of the bright highlight and the dark shadow will give your scratch a three dimensional look, which is exactly what we are going for here.

Also, when it comes to scratches, random scratches are nice, but you can get some extra realism by considering what areas are going to take a beating, and in what direction these scratches are likely to form. As one example, I used to work on construction sites, and I remember once staring at the back end of an excavator. The main body of an excavator can swivel 360 degrees on its tracks, and the back end sticks out fairly far to act as a counterweight to the bucket on the front. This particular excavator had a lot of horizontal scratches on the back, which, in context, totally makes sense. As the body of the excavator swivels around on its tracks and the operator is going to be more focused on the bucket than the back end, sooner or later, that back end is going to rub up against something and the body spins around, it’s going to leave horizontal scratches on the back of the excavator.

So in our fantasy world, if you have something like a warjack that is going to do a lot of punching, you can make the weathering look a little more realistic by adding some scratches extending back from the fists in the direction of the punch. This sort of thing can add a little more realism to your scratches, and make it so that your weathering tells a story, or at least more of a story than “here are some scratches and stuff I painted on this model.”

Sponge Weathering

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Sponge weathering is another simple technique, and it uses something that any wargamer has kicking around in droves — soft foam. You can get this in packaging for Privateer Press miniatures, or from pieces that you’ve plucked from those trays for your battlefoam bag. Simply break off a piece of your pluck foam, or cut off a piece of the foam that comes in the PP blister packs, and you’ve got your applicator.

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See the scratches on areas like the shoulder and the fist, as well as the sponge weathering  and Typhus Corrosion all over.

All you have to do with this technique is take the foam, add some paint, remove the excess with a paper towel, similar to what you do when dry-brushing, and start dabbing the model in areas that you want a weathered, chipping effect. This will apply your paint in random, natural patterns that look sort of like the chipping you might expect to see on a military vehicle that has been in service for a while. I like to start with a dark silver colour, such as GW’s Leadbelcher or P3’s Pig Iron, then follow up with a dark brown like P3 Umbral Umber. By doing two colours, not only do I get a bit of a rust effect, with some of the chips looking like they’ve been exposed to the elements longer than others, but it also just adds some visual interest and confusion to trick the eye into making it look a little more real.

Typhus Corrosion

Typhus Corrosion is one of Games Workshop’s technical paints, which is a few paints in their line that have been specially formulated to make some more advanced techniques rather easy. For example, they have Blood for the Blood God, which makes basic blood effects simple, or Nihilakh Oxide which is basically just that greenish patina that you see on old statues put in a tiny bottle.

citadeltechnical.jpgTyphus Corrosion comes in their standard tiny pot, and when you open it, you can see that it is a thin paint, with a consistency somewhat closer to a wash, but with a bunch of crud floating in it. This crud creates a gritty texture when it dries, which helps create some contrast and visual confusion, as well as not doing a terrible job of replicating mud and grime.

Duncan can probably explain this better than I can, but to apply this, you simply put in on the desired area with a beater brush that you don’t really care about. For warjacks, I like to add a lot to the legs and feet, to replicate both the mud that they may have walked through. From there, you can add as much or as little as you want, playing with dabs, stippling, and streaks, to get the desired effect. For warjacks, I think it gives a particularly nice result on the pistons and other machinery that articulates the legs, to replicate buildups of grease and oil and grime. Also, feel free to add some on top of the areas that you had hit with the sponge weathering for a cool effect as well.

Dry pigment

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Some subtle soot on the back of this warjack

We’re just about done here, but there is one more thing to consider. In this steampunk universe, warjacks are fueled by giant coal boilers, which is something that you really shouldn’t think about too hard, given the sheer impracticality of managing the logistics of delivering enough coal to the battlefield to keep even a single warjack going. However, if you’re burning the entire coal production of West Virginia every couple hours, that’s going to generate a lot of soot.

This is where our friend dry pigments come in. These are simply bottles of pigment dust, with no liquid or medium in them. They can be brushed onto the model to create various effects, and I’ve found them to be particularly useful for a few things — adding a bit of colour and visual interest to rocks and brickwork, or in this case, adding soot. They can be applied in a couple of ways, either by simply getting some on your brush and dusting the model with them, or, if you want to get a little more to stick, adding a little bit of water (or saliva) to the model and then brushing them on. Again, this is a product that is very new to me, but I’ve found that brushing the smokestacks, boiler, etc., with some very dark grey or black pigment can really help make it look like it’s coated in a fine layer of soot.

That said, because this is simply dust that you are applying to the model, you will need to fix the pigment somehow to make it stick. Some companies make pigment fixers, but for gaming pieces, I feel like the varnish that I use to protect them on the tabletop (Vallejo Matte Varnish, thinned and shot through an airbrush) is good enough to seal the pigment onto the model.

Anyways, from there, it’s just a matter of adding the glow effect onto the visor, doing some basing, and adding a coat of varnish, and the Grolar is done and ready for the gaming table.

Final thoughts on weathering

Since I’m still building my weathering skills, this is just a tiny sample of some basic weathering techniques. There are many chipping techniques, such as with hairspray or salt, that I’ve yet to try. In addition, you can do a lot with oil paints to create glazes and other visual interest. Oil paints are a completely different beast because they have a lot longer work time than acrylics, which opens up a lot of techniques, however that’s something that I haven’t really gotten into yet because of cleanup and ventilation concerns. Further, there are a wealth of specialized weathering products out there from companies like Vallejo and AK, including a few I just picked up last week (oh, the dangers of having a doctor’s office a couple blocks away from a hobby store…).

One thing I would recommend to all the gamers out there, though, is to check out some of the hobby stores and scale model builder communities if you really want to take your weathering to the next level. Hobby stores tend to have a lot more products for this sort of thing than the six or so GW technical paints that your FLGS might have on its shelf, and the sort of people who spend hours getting their Panzers looking like they’ve been going through Russian mud and snow (and the occasional chunk of shrapnel) have a lot of expertise you can borrow from.