Sunday, November 7, 2010

Paint Prep 101: The Veriest Basics

Most of what I'll be covering in this tutorial will be familiar to the majority of visitors, but for the few who find themselves where I did a year ago, with a pile of minis and only the faintest idea where to begin, I'll be covering the steps I take in preparing a figure for painting. We must begin by assuming that the piece has been clipped from the sprue and cleaned of flash. My favorite method of doing this is to use the back of an X-Acto knife, dragging it gently along the mold lines until they're scraped away. Many of my more experienced friends use files, but I'm sort of- faint of seeing, let's call it- and I have a tendency to file away bits of the sculpt while I'm at it. This is one of those situations where finesse trumps enthusiasm. It may be helpful to examine the piece in different light sources to ensure that you've got it cleaned thoroughly. 

Next, I prime the mini with Army Painter primer. This is hands down the easiest working primer I've encountered, and it makes a huge difference. It sprays in an extremely fine mist, dries quickly, and, so long as the directions are followed, almost never runs. It also comes in a wide variety of colors, which saves time in the basecoating. I typically glue the bulk of the piece together beforehand, leaving off the parts which may be difficult to paint around/under later and priming them separately. Then I mount the figure on a cork, using a heated bit of paperclip. OBSERVE:

Step One:
Using a standard cork from a wine bottle (available to teetotalers in the Portland area from SCRAP for the bargain price of 50 cents a double hand full), insert one end of a straightened paperclip deep into the cork and snip, leaving roughly a quarter inch jutting out. Heat the exposed end to red-hot with a lighter, and slide the mini onto it, letting the metal melt into the meaty part of the foot. Make sure you angle up the leg, or you'll have problems... When the metal cools, the plastic will hold tight around it, making a seal that is secure enough to work with, but easily broken when you're ready to mount the figure. This allows you to
approach painting from all angles, without worrying about wearing off or chipping the paint that you've already laid down. A lot of people simply base their figures before painting, but I find it helpful to have something more substantial to hold onto. Also? It let me post pictures. I know how much you people love pictures.

Next, I prepare my wet palette. Unless you're some sort of painting genius (in which case, thanks for reading this, sorry for the redundancy), I cannot overstate the usefulness of a wet palette. Model paints are extremely quick drying, and can be absolute murder to blend without water. A wet palette does most of the work for you, making it easy to get the proper water to pigment ratio without having to resort to the painful method of dipping and testing, dipping and testing. It's also great for mixing custom colors, since you can mix a large batch at once, snap the lid on when you're done for the day, and come back to it later without its having dried out. My wet palette cost less than ten dollars, and paid for itself in sanity.

There are a few tricks to its use, though. A wet palette consists of a shallow plastic tray and lid, a thin sponge, and a sheet of special paper which lays on top. When the paper is boiled for ten minutes or so, it becomes transparent and permeable, allowing water from the sodden sponge below to seep upward at a controlled rate. If the paper bunches or does not properly adhere to the sponge, or if the sponge is too wet, you can easily get conditions too wet or too dry for maximum efficiency. Thus, I like to boil the paper, lay it over the sponge, and apply hot water with a fat paintbrush in long strokes, end to end. This smoothes the paper and provides thorough contact with the sponge. I continue to brush it until the water stops soaking through, at which point I know the sponge is as wet as I'd like it to be. Squirt your paints on top, and get to work!

NEXT: Basecoating by Dummy

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sneak peek of the new Dark Eldar is up on BOLS, and though further examination is called for, I'm droooooooooling over the Incubi. So sleek.... so... pointy....

Tank pics will be forthcoming shortly. I pretty thoroughly mucked up the construction, so it's been a long, slow process of greenstuffing, sanding, and recrimination, but I think I may have finally wrangled it into a fit state for priming. I take from this experience that those with limited motor functions should stick to the superglue and leave the plastic glue to the professionals, the forward thinkers, and the clever of thumb.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Accidental deletion... undone!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Elbow Deep in Tank

I wanted a Vindicator for so long- ohhhhh, how I wanted one- so I was naturally thrilled to get one for my birthday last month. I sat the box on my coffee table and stared at it for hours. It stared back. Eventually, I became intimidated and put it away.

It's just so much larger and more awesome than anything I've painted before. There are so many flat areas. Should it be yellow, too, or red? It will need some sort of Word Bearers identification (you know, that stuff I should have been putting on the shoulder pads of my troops, but haven't because I'm a) lazy and b) well, no, I think "a" sums it up nicely....). I really, really hate the crazy laughing devil's head that's currently in use, and I've endeavored to come up with some sort of modification of the old, pre-Heresy flaming book icon, but it always turns out a bit lackluster.

Well, procrastination, be gone! I'm opening that box and I'm opening it today! Or at the very least, no later than Tuesday!

Monday, May 31, 2010

He's a Magic Man

Added backpack, axe, banner, and collar ('cause pimpin' ain't easy).

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dreams DO Come True

"Together, for-eeeeever, and neeee-ver to part!
Together, for-eeeeeever, we two-oo-ooooooo....."

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Odds and Ends (Sorcerer WIP)

Here we have my first attempt at sculpting with Citadel greenstuff. What joy! What bliss! What a vast and entirely welcome improvement on the garbage I've been using!

This figure is the very early stages of a Word Bearers Chaos Sorcerer, or something like that. I cast skulls to pin the fabric draped across his chest which will, in theory, cover where it meets his shoulders, but once they were dry I decided that they were too big and have thus been sent scurrying back to the bits boxes. I also have a truckload of conversion bits on the way from Horde o'Bits, which should satisfy for once and for always my need for books, banners, and scrolls.

Added a draping piece here:

So far, he consists of a normal CSM breastpiece, filed to eliminate the rivets and piping; a Blood Angels Sanguinary Guard head, filed to remove the halo; and massive quantities of epoxy and KY jelly. I'm sure you'll all be pleased to know that this time, instead of my hair, it ended up in my mouth. I'll be adding a crown of horns to the top of his head and a bunch of other elements as-yet-to-be-determined. He's legit, though-

-I bled for him.

I also spent a tiny part of the day transforming a $4 set of ugly orange dice into my new D&D partners in crime. Gloss black numbers on matte black dice:

I valiantly resisted the urge to spray the sides opposite the high numbers with multiple coats of primer. I hope the universe rewards me with better rolling karma than I've enjoyed to this point.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Spoils of Birthing-Victory!

I have: Codex! And Vindicator! And Sanguinary Guard! And, by extension, NIPPLES!

Does anyone (besides Rabidchild, to whom I have already applied) have a brand of greenstuff that they prefer? I bought two sizable tubes of it from Gale Force Nine, and it's wretched- uncommonly sticky, grainy, and quick-drying. I've tried water and water-based lubricant, and it still sticks to everything. I've oiled it to the point where I can hardly keep hold of it. I've got it in my hair. Help?!?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Greenstuffing for Fun and Profit-- Or Neither

Made my first attempts at greenstuffing the other night. I was trying to sculpt a loincloth of sorts onto one of my unpainted minis, and lemme tell you, friends, it was nowhere near as easy as Sculptor J makes it look. I'd finally gotten it to do what I wanted it to, when I turned it over to work on the back and stuck my big honkin' thumb right squa' in the center of my lovely, painstakingly crafted little ripples. There was cussing.

Luckily, I was able to get a tutorial from said friend-with-talent, and here are the results. I won't even begin to claim that most of this work was mine, but some of it was, and after a few final touches, I'll be posting a bunch more pictures that are entirely my own.

I did this bit on the right entirely on me ownsies! Go, me!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Why, Yes, They ARE Yellow

The Word Bearers intrigued me from my first reading of the Chaos Space Marine Codex. I hail from the Deep South's Bible Belt, and have something of a soft spot for zealotry. In my mind, the Word Bearers are the radical Catholic wing of the CSM, and I envisioned them painted accordingly: bright, clean, vivid yellows; glistening reds; pure, unsullied whites. My Word Bearers follow Chaos because therein lies the path to Enlightenment. Their skulls are not mere trophies, representative of conquest, but symbols of the Truth beneath the flesh.

The following are a couple of test models, partially or mostly finished. I hope to do a good bit of converting on the rest of the squad, adding scrolls, grimoires, banners, and the like. There's too much paint on these gentlemen, but I'm trying to curb my Simple Green addiction (mmm, jagermeister!), and the third step of recovery is learning to live with mistakes.

And finally, with left arm and backpack:

The placement of the arm drives me batty,
as it cuts across his chest and obscures most of the detailing there, but oh well.
( step three, step three, step three....)

Finally, please note that this camera is not mine, and we're not friends yet.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Like a Lemming from the Clifftops...

Welcome to this, my inaugural posting! After months of urging from (a) well-meaning friend(s), I'm finally ready to parade my ignorance of things 40k before the eyes of the World Wide Web. Here, you will not find artfully painted miniatures or skillfully executed conversions, but you may discover ways to have more fun with the hobby, especially if, like me, you're a newcomer in a circle of long-term enthusiasts.

I was originally drawn to the Eldar because- well, I'm a girl. And yes, I'm fully aware that the urge to gravitate towards the sparkly, graceful, and disco-riffic is not a universally feminine trait, but it's my best excuse. I joyfully christened them my "Skittle Squadron" and made plans to adorn all of their bases with crystals and glittery fingernail polish. Several months of despair and three changes of paint schemes later, I began to suspect that they were not, in fact, the army for me.

Which leads us to TIP NUMBER ONE: research your army. Admiring someone else's beautifully painted models is not the same thing as enjoying painting them yourself. Very few of the newbies I know actually stick with their original troop choice. Get your hands on one of the standard troop models, paint it up, and then imagine yourself doing the exact same thing another dozen or so times. Still fun? Not for me, it wasn't. Hence, my brand-spankin' new blog about Word Bearers.....