Thursday 27 August 2015

Painting realistic fire is hard. Painting magic fire is harder.

Holy Mother of all that is Glossy and Reflective! I think I bit off more than I can chew his time.

I volunteered to paint a mini for Dave (@docbungle)'s #waac Guild Ball charity event supporting Macmillan nurses. I'm occasionally charitable like that. He sent me a little metal chap who is, after a bit of online research, called 'Mercury'.

Part of the Alchemist's Guild, he is depicted in illustrations as a Lederhosen-clad, steampunk master of fireballs.

My instructions from Dave were simple: Paint Scheme is Macmillan Green. Don't do the base.

A bit more online digging gave me some indicators as to the Macmillan colours and style - no more than 2 of the 3 approved greens on a poster. Okay - a mini.

Standard prep - pinning and mould line removal, and mounting on a temporary base to hold while painting. Assembly will wait until the main body is done.

Primer and a tone wash to see what I've missed.

And then the start of the greens. Traditional, but with a twist.

I've decided to go with blue fire. Blue fire is magical, or alchemical. Regular fire isn't exciting enough. Also, the blue will streak nicely, making the greens pop.

Here's the twist on the traditional. These greens will look like Macmillan colours once blended. Also, the face is now more or less done. Trying to figure out the tones in the hair.

Shading is coming along. Steampunk goggles and some light emanating from the fire.

Of course, OSL glows across materials and skin. The blue streak down the shirt is in anticipation of the flame swoosh.

The flasks and phials are different colours. I assume Mercury has more than one fire in his skillset.

Here's the hard bit. Blue fire doesn't usually swoosh. How can I make it feel deep and powerful with a contrasting brightness and sharpness, without it looking like paint?

After several passes, I've settled on this. Not 100% happy with the flame swoosh, but I've run out of time! Very happy with the rest. Dave needs his figure finished, so time for proper photos and then in the post.

Here's the studio montage of snaps and some solos.

Dave is doing the bases for the squad. I'm looking forward to seeing them all together!

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Monday 24 August 2015

Spruecutters Union - Hidden Details

Do you bother with details of you know they're not going to be seen?

That's this month's question, and I think the 'across-the-board', unanimous answer is Nooooooo!

And I think it's mostly true for me, too. When painting miniatures, especially rank and file models for 40k, there are plenty of hidden areas. Sometimes I might paint a detail before I decide on the accessory to attach - for instance, the Space Marine backpacks, which have grilles and other markings in the space between the figure's back and his pack.

Is there any point in painting the detail? Not really- it's a dark, obscured area, but it could be good practice for new techniques, or other markings you would place elsewhere. If no one can see it, it's yours for the taking.

Other times, for instance when I'm building a diorama, and haven't planned it (60% of the time, every time), I'll detail something only to stick foliage around it.

But usually No. Life's too short.

Thursday 6 August 2015

Black Widow build pt1

There's been a lot of rumbling online, since the 2nd Avengers movie was released, that Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, hasn't had the merchandising treatment that her male Avenger friends have had the fortune of enjoying.

Thankfully that wasn't always the case. Moebius Models released a slew of Iron Man 2 models back in 2010-12, one of which was Black Widow.

That's a great photo on the front. Designed to grab your attention, don't you think? I like that it's 'age 15 and up'. It's a simple plastic kit - 11 year olds could glue this together. Painting is another thing, but 15? That's a marketing ploy.

Anyway, check out the rear. Of the box.

Spot the difference? The model in the box is looking forwards, rather than head down, looking up - as a superspy temptress might actually look at you.

Some conversion work to be done, then.

Let's begin.

In the box you get a few flesh-coloured sprues. Everything is more or less halved, and has good locator pins for glueing.

The base is mahoosive, though. Start thinking about scenery now...

The detail is good, and the face looks enough like ScarJo that painting won't turn her into Arnie. One thing I'm not impressed with is that she has two right feet.

No, I didn't fit them the wrong way around - nothing I can do about this, so I won't draw attention to it too much...

Dry fitting the arms and head, I can see what needs to be done to tweak the pose.

The hand doesn't sit close enough to the belt, and then there's the head. Cut the head off at the neck, turn, tilt, fill and sand. Easy, right? At least that'll eliminate the centre-parting in the hair.

Now to start adjusting how the head sits.

But that's for part 2...

Wednesday 5 August 2015

Take a Hobby Sabbatical!

Talk to most scale modellers, and they'll likely confess to being terrified of painting figures. They love building and painting armour, aircraft, and sports cars. Many even love placing them on dioramas. Suggest to then that their scene will have more life with some figures, and you'll probably get some kind of excuse as to why it won't work.

I've always had an arrogance about me - there's no reason I can't achieve something if I really want to. Doesn't matter what it is. If I'm not naturally talented at it, I can work hard and learn it. Plenty of room in that spare 85% of grey storage upstairs after all!

Turns out there are a few things I just can't do. I suck at car maintenance, and am unable to keep a cool head while shopping for clothes.

What I have managed, though - and it was quite by accident - was to learn more than just the basics of miniature painting.

I have a 1:48 Spitfire in my stash. It's part finished, as it was my contribution to an abandoned office model-off (or group build depending on how competitive you are).

Definitely not out of the box, I upgraded bits to resin and PE, and bought a flight crew. And there it stayed. I tried a couple of figures, but they looked like a lot of attempts I've seen from casual figure painters. Truly, truly awful. Block colours, thick, blotchy faces with no features. No hope, then, but to make the excuses. "I don't do figures. I like 'accurizing' vehicles".

What a load of old bollocks.

My kid turned ten. He discovered 40k. I dug out my old miniatures collection, and we set out to revamp, expand, and learn new things. He liked the game, and I like to paint - so I taught him the basics of painting, and he taught me the basics of hitting on 3s. By the time he quit (he had enough of getting stick at school for being a nerd, and also being fed up of his 40k friends' lack of conversational range), my obsession with miniature detail had really grabbed hold.

I'm not naturally talented with a brush - past a certain level. I practice wet blending and NMM, because it's bloody hard! I've learned OSL and diorama composition, new basing techniques and airbrush methods. Lining, edge highlighting and the rest.

I found that I hadn't built a scale model in about 3 years, but in the meantime my skillset had grown considerably.

OSL on a spaceship? Yes please! It saves on wiring potentially unnecessary lights, when the illusion of light works just as well.

Edge highlights on engine parts? Thank you very much! Makes the dark areas really pop.

Hand blending small transitions? Saves getting the airbrush out and starting all over again.

Conversely, scale modellers have a lot to teach warpainters. Ever heard of dot filtering or bare-metal foil? I'm yet to try dot filtering properly as a weathering technique, but oil stains will look great on the Imperial Guard Chimera I have started.

So here's my point - if you're a scale modeller who is scared of figure painting, pick up a pack of imperial guard and a white dwarf mag (both nice and cheap on eBay) and get stuck in. Take a break from your Hurricane or Sherman and practice your skintones - zombies, vampires and dwarves all have different requirements - and they're all transferable skills. Check the forums, and follow YouTube tutorials. Totally worth it. If you can detail 28mm, you're onto a winner when you're back working in 1:6 scale!

If you're a warpainter, take a break from Orks and Orcs and build a clean sports car, a beat-up 1950s jet, or an Elizabethan ship. Pick up FineScale Modeller magazine. You'll find your skills being pushed to new levels. Source new ways to make the model special, and you'll find inspiration to up the quality of your wargaming pieces.

You never know, you may fall in love with new things you can do...