Sunday 22 September 2013

Sprue Cutters Union #9 - which paint(s) do you use?

A nice and simple topic, which I'll try and make as complicated as possible.

In the beginning there were enamels. Only enamels. Enamel thinners cleaned the brushes, and sediment built up at the bottom of the thinners bottle. I didn't thin any paints back then, but I did stir them in the tins with a toothpick.

Humbrol tins. Don't spill contents on the carpet.

At the time, I was only building 1:72 military flyers - usually ones I could find at my local news agent's store. I'd buy the paints and brushes there, too. If I was allowed, I'd go to Beatties and get supplies. Shame that they went out of business. Modelzone took over a lot of their stores, but it's not the same.

After trip to the States as a teen, I bought a Testors Harrier model, and some enamels to match. Didn't like them much. Kit was average.

Then acrylics started to appear on the scene. First up were some transparent acrylics from Humbrol that were meant for car lenses and other glass - very useful on my old Enterprise D nacelles and warp dish.

I found a glow-in-the-dark acrylic for windows and a silver-based, electrically-conductive paint for the electronics in that model, too, so I could do without wires along the body. Neither were very successful.

It was at this point that I started priming with spray enamel. I still have a ruined Star Trek Voyager model with an uneven 1/4inch of grey spray on the main saucer. I learned a lot from that. Not least that stripping paint is hard work, if not impossible in most cases.

Then came the GW models. Lead and plastic, primed in the GW blue or black spray acrylics. I also bought a load of the original Citadel-branded Coat D'Arms paints. There were a couple of starter sets that I had - one with a dragon on the cover (but lost in the mists of time).

These were nice to use - I only needed water to clean my brushes! The paints went on straight from the lid - as thinly as I could manage. No useful internet to teach me about wet palettes or milk-consistency paint! There was a feeling at the time, though, that acrylics were the poor-man's option. The pigments weren't as good as enamel - at least that's what I was told by the shop assistants.

Then I took a break from models from a few years, and when I returned to the hobby, things had changed. A lot. Airbrushes were everywhere, wet-blending was an important thing to learn, and the previous 'advanced' technique of drybrushing was a now considered by many aficionados as a beginner's crutch.

My old Citadel starter acrylics had separated, and weren't much cop any more. I considered the Coat D'Arms paints as inappropriate for the vehicles I was painting (but I kept them, just in case) Bring on Vallejo and Tamiya to replace them. Great pigments, and easy to use - the Vallejo range, at least. The Tamiya paints are great, but require their own thinner to use properly, otherwise they gum up on the brush (so don't try spraying them through a boggo airbrush)

Lots of eyedropper pots

Today, I'm still using the Vallejo model colours, but more and more I'm using their Model Air range - even for brush work. I've bought back into the GW range, too, although I don't like spraying with them. The Tamiya acrylics rarely get used, apart from the flat black, which is amazing. I still use the original Coat D'Arms pots where I can - the paints are brilliant, the inks/washes are really strong, and the metallics are good for brush work.

I started painting the GW Mines of Moria box set with the included paints. They're bloody awful - like poster paints, but I set myself the challenge of finishing the Fellowship of the Ring with nothing but those paints. There's no blue. How can I paint the Hobbits without blue?

GW's new paint range is rather annoying, however, but after a year I'm getting used to it - the names have changed, the colours aren't quite the same, and the pots are rubbish - they don't close easily, and are prone to drying out. The paints themselves are useful, though. They even go on "without the need for thinning", as a staff member told me. No thanks, I'll thin as usual.

The pots at the back came with the Mines of Moria boxed set.
Not quality acrylics.

I got bombarded with emails for Lifecolor acrylics, so I tried out the fleshtone set. Not had a good face yet. They have their own thinners, and dry so quickly you can't blend. Might try them with some acrylic medium at some point.

I'm yet to try the Army Painter eyedropper range - but the colour primer sprays are amazing. If the acrylics go on as well, and match for colour, I'm sold.

Alclad II lacquers are my favourite for any spray work. A coat of primer, then a gloss black, and then the metallic lacquer gives gorgeous coverage, and stunning colour. Mix and match different shades across a metallic surface, and you get one of the most realistic finishes on a scale model.

Favourite  spraying fluids

I also have a few of the Tamiya weathering powders, sticks and brushes. These are, admittedly, a hangover from feeling like I had to buy 'the right brand for the right job', but they're actually rather good.

They come with easy-break applicators,
but cheap replacements can be found at your local chemists

So, long story short: I use anything and everything. Don't get me wrong, I'll test first on sprue, on spare resin, and on bits of metal before committing to a proper model. I wouldn't want to screw it all up, now would I?

Other Union posts:

Kermit's Workbench
A Scale CanadianYet Another Plastic
ModellerJay's Scale Model Adventures
The Eternal Wargamer
Migrant's Wanderings
Scale Model Workbench

Sunday 15 September 2013

My World in Scale (#spruecutters 8)

I've been reading a few of the other posts from the Sprue Cutters Union this week, and a few things have rung true:
I'm a hoarder of seemingly random stuff. When my wife and I moved house last year, a lot of polystyrene made its way to the local tip. This would have made a lot of cool scenery. It has since been replaced.
My desk drawer at work is filled - not with pens and tip-ex - but with empty tubs of sherbet DibDab and Wrigley's Extra gum.

And the odd pot of microwaveable noodles/rice. All good for terrain or other scratch building. The sherbet tubes, particularly, make the perfect centre for Tau sensor arrays - all you need is a spare gun drone, and some cotton buds, and you've saved £12 from Forgeworld. Cost of parts: £1.50ish.
Millicano coffee tins make for fantastic towers and Actimel pots can double as brilliant sewage outlets.

I often catch myself staring at textures on buildings, vehicles and even the ground. It's quite something to see the myriad shades and colours that make up even a 'simple' black-topped asphalt road surface. Brick-work and concrete is really something else!
I haven't yet got into the mindset of seeing real-world colours as their Vallejo equivalents, but I do mentally file away ideas for translating real objects into 1/72, 1/35 or 28mm approximations.
Sometimes, and this relates to last week's topic, you have to bite your tongue and not get excited about the utterly mundane. That plastic tray from the festive macaroons isn't going to get made into a coiled vent unit (even if there's some resin waiting to be mixed), so just let it go. It's about finding the healthiest balance.
Here are some of the other posts from union members - totally worth a read.
Scale Model Workbench
Migrant's Wanderings
The Eternal Wargamer
Yet Another Plastic Modeller

Sunday 8 September 2013

#spruecutters: How does your spouse (significant other) view your hobby?

This interesting question was posed this week by the #spruecutters union.

How does your spouse (or significant other) view your hobby?

The answer, for me at least, is as complex as it is short: she tolerates it better right now than in recent months, but not as well as in recent years.

My wife has been encouraging me to paint more over the last couple of weeks - we'd argued a couple of months ago about hobby addiction and one-track-mindedness, and that my hobby stuff was taking over the house. So I stopped painting for a while.

Let me backtrack a few years: I was single, had moved back to my parents' house, had failed to find useful employment, and rediscovered painting and building models, after a 10-year absence, as stress-relieving. Maybe it was a cry for help, a denial of depression - who knows? I wasn't finding inspiration in writing music, and my video freelancing wasn't taking off well. I had a little money to burn, and I found that eBay served up all the Halcyon kits I had wanted when I was a teen. Aliens and Back to the Future boxes piled up in my dad's garage, and so did new paints, tools and even an airbrush and compressor.

When my (then) girlfriend and I eventually moved in with each other, I was still casually gluing and painting - at this point, mostly planes and cars - and we even had a few evenings where she and I and her two kids would paint. Her daughter and I built an airfix spitfire and sprayed it pink, like the PRU planes from WWII. Her son, Mikey (then aged 8), repainted some Star Wars snap kits. They even bought me some GW Lord of the Rings hobbits to paint. Hobby utopia.

We then got married, and moved house. Had a baby or two. Tightened our belts.

One day, in Bluewater shopping centre, my stepson spotted this cool shop with an 8ft robot soldier above the door. He insisted on going in, thinking that Games Workshop sold video games. Instantly hooked at age 10, he pestered us to let him buy some figures to paint. Reluctantly, we said yes. I was more reluctant than my wife, knowing firsthand the pull this hobby can have, but bonding with him over glue could only be a good thing.

I gave Mikey a few of my old unbuilt kits, and finished marines- from my uni days, where I had first succumbed to the lure of lead and plastic. We spent some time looking through old codexes and rules. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out most cost-effective ways to get him the Tau army he wanted.

My wife even warmed to the idea of playing Lord of the Rings - and when it came out, Dreadfleet. We never got around to playing either, even though I bought the boxed games. Time and priorities always got in the way. Babies, work, lack of sleep etc. Back then, though, Mikey and I had a hobby area: somewhere to chill out and paint; somewhere to play the odd game of 40k.

Then we moved again. Downsized.

The hobby room got boxed up. Garage tidying/conversion in our new flat hasn't happened yet, and after 18 months it probably won't. Hobby time now means setting up and packing away, and planning the whole thing, which takes away the spontaneity - Mikey has cooled off even playing 40k at his school club (which he even founded), and hasn't asked to go to Games Day this year. His excitement for the new kits stopped around the time of the 6th edition Tau releases earlier this year.

For me, though, it's still a case of trying to paint when I get a chance. I help out with the stepkids' school projects when my talents allow, although my 'stuff' has been decluttered from the kitchen, where it had invaded, and now moves to and from the garage in a crate, so I can set up quicker. My wife doesn't ask me about what I'm painting, and doesn't really volunteer enthusiasm when I show off a finished project. She's not keen on the idea of me painting to commission, and hates the time it takes to get anything done. She did just ask me if I wanted to paint tonight. I actually don't, but I appreciate the gesture.

I wouldn't say my wife is a Warhammer Widow. She is begrudgingly supportive, and I do love her for it. I would like to find time in our lives for all our hobbies: for lounging around; vegging out in front of the TV; sport, and the rest of it, and maybe when we have our dream jobs, own our home, have slightly less demanding small children (the babies, not the teens), and 36hr days, then maybe, just maybe we'll get back to hobby utopia.

Until then, I will strive to get a 'wow' out of her for one of my paintups.