Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cork Bases

You may be familiar with this technique already or you may have seen it on other mini's but here is how I go about making cork bases. Cork can give you an interesting base for your mini's to stand on, and save you some of the mess of using sand, rocks and rubble to finish off your mini's. There are a few things to consider before you start making the bases. If your mini's are already glued down to the plastic base that is provided with the mini then obviously you will just build your base detail around the minis feet. I ran into this with a few mini's I bought second hand and were already assembled. No worries though, there are still a lot of things you can do with your bases. If your mini's aren't attached well now is the time to try something different.

The first thing to consider above all is the theme for your army if you have one. Does your army come from the snowy north? Are they desert nomads? Do They live on a hot Mercury type planet, alien hive world, swampy jungle, or subterranean dwelling? Where your army originates in a game world matters if you really want to make your miniatures stand out or fit in with the story lines and histories of the game. I have chosen to to base my Cryx army in a rocky forest to fit in with the story arc between Cryx and Khador, which my buddy is playing. I also chose this because it will match the playing surface of my gaming table.

Which is the next thing you should consider. Where do you play games the most and what does the playing surface look like? If you just play on a bare kitchen table on a regular basis then you can do whatever you like (which you can anyway, who cares right?). You may play at a local club or GW store where there are many different types or landscapes. In this case pick one you like and go with that. If you are primarily into painting miniatures like I am, and only find playing the game a bonus to the hobby of painting, then it is best to just pick a theme for the army you are painting and build bases around that.

Tools you need:

Cork Tiles: I got these from the stationary section at Walmart next to the push pin boards/bulletin board. It came in a 4 pack for $9 dollars. You can get them in different sizes from Michael's but they want $19 dollars for a 4 pack here in Canada which is ridiculous. These are roughly 3mm thick, they are the second smallest size you can get from Michael's, they only had one size at Walmart
Super Glue: Any super glue will work. I like GW Superglue because you get a lot for $10 dollars.
Scenic Cement: You can get this from local hobby shops, and places that sell model trains and railroad accessories and is made by "Woodland Scenics." It is a watered down glue mixture that dries clear and hard. It can be sprayed from a spray bottle or dripped into place with an eyedropper.
White Glue: Any White glue will do.
Eye Dropper: To apply the Scenic Cement.
Flat File: To file flat the bottoms of the feet or area you are going to pin.
Pin Vise: For pinning minis to the base.
Wire Cutters: For Cutting the paper clips and trimming off big areas of the metal tabs attached to the feet of the model.
Modeling Clippers:
Paper Clip: The Pins.
Ballast: Rock texture of different sizes from Woodland Scenics.
Talus: Debris and river rock/ bedrock from Woodland Scenics.
Fine turf: Colored sawdust, great for creating dirt, filling space, moss, base for static grass.

Place the base on the edge of your cork and tear off a piece roughly the size of the base.

Now that you have it broken off you can shape the cork tile to the desired size and shape. Try to leave a little space for static grass, bushes, sand (Ballast), etc.

Figure out how you want the cork to sit on your mini and try to cover the hole that is in slotted bases, like the one shown above. Once you have it in position place superglue on the parts of the cork the will make contact with the base leaving a space where the slot is.

Place the cork in position and push it down so the cork can spread out the glue and stay flat. After a few seconds the glue should hold it in place and you can set it aside to dry.

Do all the bases for a particular unit at the same time to keep the uniform. Once they are all drying we can go ahead and clip off all the tabs from the bottom of the model that would have fit into the slots we have just covered over with cork.

Next you want to carefully cut the tab off the bottom of the feet with wire cutters, making sure not to cut too close to feet or cut off any details on the model.

Make two cuts first first, one under the foot, and another through the middle of the tab. Be careful when cutting through the metal because it will bend the legs a little bit. Once these cuts are made make another vertical cut, the same way you cut the middle, right net to the heel of the foot. This will cause all the little pieces to fall off. Do not pull the metal parts hanging from where you just cut through the metal, this will bend the mini and maybe even snap a leg off.

Now that the metal tab is off, you can clean up the bottoms of the feet with model snips.

File away any lines or uneven sections with a flat file. File until the bottom of the foot is flat. Now very slowly and carefully bend the legs into place and test standing the model on the cork base. keep lightly readjusting the feet until the mini will stand on the cork base by itself. Once you know the model is standing balanced on the base you can pin it if possible before gluing it down to the base, or you can just put a little bit of super glue on the bottoms of the feet and attach it.

Now that the minis are free of their tabs and glued down to the bases it's time to texture around the cork with rocks and debris. The type of look you are going for will determine the materials you use. I am going for a rocky forest theme for my bases. To texture for this effect I use 4 tbs of "Fine Brown Ballast" and 2 tbs of "Medium Brown Ballast." Mix these together in a small shallow container. You could use those little dishes that you put dipping sauce in, applesauce cups or anything else you can find that will fit the circumference of the base and allow you to push the model down into it. Applesauce cups work best due to low cost.

Once the ballast is mixed up I add 2 tbs of "Fine Turf: Earth" and 1 tbs of "Talus: Fine Brown Debris." You can get all of these products from hobby stores and is made by "Woodland Scenics".

When it is all said and done it should look something like this!

Paint white glue onto the base around the cork with an old paintbrush. Go all the way around the cork and fill any holes that may have been made with glue. You don't need to use very much glue, just a small drop on each section that will need glue, and spread it around with the paint brush.

Next, dip the mini into the textured mixture making sure it covers all the areas with glue. Let it sit for a second and then pull it out. Push down on the sand all the way around the base to ensure the rocks are secured in the glue then tip the excess back into the mixture. Give the bottom of the base a few taps to ensure you get it all off and then place it to the side to dry. Continue doing this with all the minis you have based, and let them dry for about an hour.

Once the rock texture has dried it's time to go back over all of the mini's again with "Scenic Cement." Pour a little in the cap of the bottle and use an eyedropper to draw some out. place one drop onto the ballast mixture and watch how the scenic cement fills the cracks between the ballast. Once the water stops spreading place another drop next to it, and with for it to spread, continue all the way around trying not to saturate the rocks too much with the scenic cement. It seems like a process but it literally takes a millisecond for the scenic cement to fill the ballast. You may be asking why I am using two glues to fix the texture to the base. Well the simple answer to this is that I want to ensure the rocks are fixed in as one solid sheet of glue and rock, and it will also stop little pebbles from breaking loose as I apply a diluted paint to it when I get to the painting stage.

I have dropped models before and had the ballast peel off in a small sheet that could be easily re-glued to the surface of the base, rather than have small rocks flake off continuously till the base looks patchy. I highly recommend scenic cement for bases and terrain making. A bottle will go a long way on mini's, two bottles allowed me to secure rocks to a 6'x4' foot table out or a spray bottle so don't be turned away by the $8 dollar price tag.

Once it is all dry you can use what ever colors you had in mind, and use the dry brushing technique to give the rocks some depth and dimension. Use your brightest color only on the edges of the cork to give it a lighting effect and you will be done. Add some sort of static grass or "Underbrush" from woodland scenics for the foliage and you can also line the base of the cork with green or brown"Fine Turf" to create moss or erosion.If you have heads, arms, legs, torsos, hands, etc laying around a bits bow, you could also add these to the base and paint them all gored up. You could even use the sprue you cut your minis off of to make crystals, logs, steel beams, etc. I reuse and recycle anything that i think will look good in a mini.

I was considering a alien hive world theme for Tyranids (before the price raises at GW), and broke open a bunch of old "Britta" filters. The rocks and minerals used in the filtration process are really weird looking and when you let the contents of the filter dry in the sun it creates these little transparent, green/yellow balls about the size of pin head or smaller. You could just apply this in its raw form to give the minis a very unique base without having to do any painting.

Next up: My last step by step tutorial for painting. After this one you should have an idea about how I go about painting mini's and in the future I will just put up pics or works in progress, and discuss anything I did differently from one set of minis to the next.
I have also just received my first painting commission! I will be taking a break from my own army to focus on this commission for the Khador Army. I will be posting regularly with updates on the progress and give a few small tutorials through out the process on painting and shading red hue's on a mini, as well as my thoughts on "P3" paints by Privateer Press!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Finishing Deneghra

Now that we are finished with the deatils on the model, it is time to paint her back piece the same was as we did the armor. You could do any extra parts at the same time as you pain the rest of the model, but I wait till I am about to attach it before I paint it so the paint job doesn't get damaged while it is sitting around or getting moved. In the vents on the back, drop in some "Snot Green" paint and let it dry. Once it dries highlight it with "Scorpion Green." This will give the vents a green glow.

Do the same to the vents on her back.

I also used this effect with "Blazing Orange" and "Golden Yellow" and well as the greens for the details on her waist. Paint the tip of the spear "Shining Gold" and apply a wash of "Devland Mud" after the paint dries. You can then drybrush or highlight the gold back up to it's shine and the model is complete! But not done. Now is also the time to apply any details to the base of the mini. Do all your gluing down of rocks, painting, snow effects, etc before moving onto the next step.

Now that you are finished your paint job it is important to protect your time investment. The worse thing is having paint wear off from touching it while playing the game, chipping during transport or dropping the model. If you used just one color in an area this is alright, you can just repaint the area that chipped again with the same color. But if you are using the steps I have outlined, it will be very difficult to match the shading or colors of an area if it chips in one little spot, not to mention it may not turn out the same as you did it the last time if you were to repaint the whole area that chipped.

It is important to seal up the paint job on a mini with some sort of spray varnish. Just like the primiers I use, only use a varnish that is intended for models. Spray varnishes for canvass that you would find in the art store for sealing paintings, or even the stuff you would find at a harware store in the paint department I'm sure would work, but I fear they could come out too thick and get into the recesses or fill in tiny details on the model. If you have some old broken models, or extra bits lying around you could quickly slap some paint on them and test these sealers out. You may find one that works for you and is cheap.

Sealers from the GW stores in Canada costs $21 dollars. This is obviously a ridiculous price to pay for sealer so don't buy it. $12-$15 dollars a can is unreasonable no matter where you live in the world so do not pay more than 10 dollars per can unless it is huge. Even at the hardware and art store they want $10 dollars or more per can, so just laugh and walk away if you have other options. The most cost effective way I have found to seal my miniatures is with "Testors: Lacquer," "Testors: Dull Coat," "Model Master: Flat" enamel paint sealer (same thing as Dullcoat just one dollar more expensive. If my hobby shop is out of Testors varnish I will get Model Master) and "Ardcoat" gloss varnish you can buy in a paint pot from GW.

Varnishes come in three types to my knowledge. Gloss/Crystal, Satin and Matte/Flat/Dull. Gloss will make your models shine. "Ardcoat" is the equivalent from GW. If you are painting model cars, airplanes, tanks or even aliens, you may like the wet shinny look that a gloss coat will give you. If so that is fine, spray two coats. Satin is a mix between gloss and matte. It won't be as shiny as gloss or as dull as matte. Matte or Flat coats will bring down any shine on a model, so if you are going to use this on a model that has metallic paint on it, it will stop these paints from shining like they did before you sprayed it on. So if you are going to use this then you will need to buy the brush on "Ardcoat" from GW or any other model company that offers it.

I Spray my miniatures with a gloss varnish first. I use the "Testors Lacquer" on my minis because it is designed to coat the model in a very thin, hard shell. This gives model cars or airplanes that waxed, shiny appearance, but works to really protect the paint jobs of miniatures without using very much. It costs $5 dollars a can here and it's a lot smaller than a can from GW, but it goes a long way. You can spray 20-50 minis per can depending on the size of the minis. I then dust the model with a second layer of "Testors Dullcoat"  or "Model Master Flat" spray to bring down the shine of the lacquer. It is also $5 dollars. Like I said, this will bring down the shine of Matellic paints, so once the matte layer of varnish has dried, I use the brush on varnish from GW to go back over all the metal highlight areas I painted on the mini. This will restore their shine back to 75% of it's original shine. Locals can find this stuff at Maritime Hobbies.

If you wanted to go back in and do a quick highlight on any of the areas that were metal before painting on the ardcoat varnish, you can do that. If you just dust the model with the matte varnigh though, you should be able to bring the shine back. Also be careful not to use too much matte varnish because it will dull down paint brightness as well. I painted some goblins who's faces had a bright green highlight, but after applying too much matte varnish, you could barely notice I painted anything but one color on the models skin. So please be careful not to apply too much.

You may have noticed that Deneghra is suddenly standing on a base. Well I'm going to be going over that in the next tutorial, but now that she is painted and sealed it is time to glue her down to a scenic base rather than gluing her directly down to the base provided. For this you will need your wire cutters,  a paperclip and some super glue.

Carefully cut the metal tab off of the bottom of her feet and look for a suitable place to start drilling in on the underside or bottom of the model. Drill in where you can and attach a pin like I showed in the pinning tutorial.

Put some super glue onto the pin and slide it into the material you used on the base. I used cork, so I can easily slide the pin into place but if you are using something harder like real rocks, plasticard, floor tiles, etc,you can can drill into it if possible and slide the pin in or don't pin the model at all and just glue the bottoms of her feet down.

Next up, making cork bases and attaching your models to it.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Painting Deneghra 2

Now that all the parts are base coated and covered with a black wash, its time to move onto base coating all the details. You should let your wash dry for thirty minutes before continuing on with painting. Painting onto a wet wash causes a weird reaction with the paint so it is best to wait till it is completely dry.

We're now going to paint all the metal details that are going to be bronze or gold in a basecoat of "Tin Bitz". This will help give the bronze or gold a rich color and prevent us you from having to paint too many layers. Were also going to paint the back of her legs and the inside of her arms "Scab Red," then cover this in a black wash.

Once that is finished we are going to use "Adeptus Battlegray" foundation to highlight the edges and any areas that light hits when you shine a light directly above the models head, on the black areas of the skirt. We are also going to paint the weapon shaft now as well. Highlight the blue area in the same manner with "Regal Blue." Since we want to keep the model dark and sinister, I chose to highlight with Regal Blue. Since we already put down a black wash, it will come out brighter than the first layer of Regal Blue we put down. While the gray is drying, we can go in and lay down "Dwarf Bronze" on all the area's we painted in Tin Bitz earlier.

Now grab "Shining Gold" and paint the top  half and raised areas of all the parts you painted with Dwarf Bronze. I chose these colors to keep them the model dark and also to add to the steam punk feel of the Warmachine world. By now the gray we painted onto the black skirt should be dry. To avoid seeing any lines where one color stops and another continues (Layering), and to prevent the gray from being too bright on the black, we are going to cover the gray with black wash. I used two layers to bring the brightness of the gray down letting one layer of wash dry before applying another.If you look at the skirt in the picture below you will see that it looks like light shining off of black, rather than a stark contrast on top of a black.

 Techniques Used:

Now is a good time to talk a little bit about technique since we are no longer at the point where straight painting will do anything for you to achieve the look you want to go for once you get to this point. I always use a number of different techniques that compliment each other on each different type of model. Once you use one set of techniques on one model, then it is best to do the same on all models of the same type. What I'm saying essentially is, if you are going to drybrush, layer, highlighting and metallics one of the two boars on an "Orc Chariot," then you should do the same four techniques on the other. This way the unit stays uniform. If you wanted to move onto wet blending, highlighting, Lining In, and non metallic metals on a different chariot or set of "Orc Boar Rider" then that's fine as long as all the boars in that unit are done the same way.

For Those who don't know what I'm talking about here is a run down on all the techniques I use and a few I don't.

Painting: Always use the tip or point of the brush when painting details. Also when painting using any technique only paint in one direction. Painting in one different direction and going back over that spot in the other direction in one brush stroke is counter productive. When you paint in one direction you end up laying the pigment down evenly throughout the whole model.
Drybrushing: Dry brushing is when you use a  flat, stiff bristle brush and dip your brush directly into the pot (Hence "dry," no dilution) covering the tip of the brush. You then take off a majority of the paint on a piece of papertowel, and test on the back of your hand how much paint is coming off the end of the brush. If there is very little paint coming off you can start going over the area of the model to be drybrushed. Use the flat side of the bristles rather than the point and quickly brush stroke in one direction over this spot. This will quickly highlight only the raised areas of the model.  
Layering: Is when you paint an area with the base color, and let it dry. Then paint the next color up in your triad halfway to three quarters of the way up and let this layer dry. Then add the brightest color to the bottom quarter of the area. When you look at the model up close you will see a line dividing the colors, but when you look at the model on the table from playing distance it creates the same effect as wet blending.
Wet Blending: Wet blending is when you take the darkest color in your triad and the brightest color and dilute them the way you normally would, 1:1. Then you put down the darkest color at the bottom of an area half way up. Then start at the top with the brightest color and work your way down letting the paint bleed into the dark color.Once you get the the bottom grab some dark paint and start pulling it back up towards the top, continue moving the pigment back and forth until the two colors blend together, with no lines visible between the colors and a visible mid tone created when blending the two colors back and forth. This is the only time in is okay to paint in one direction and then go back the other. Here is an example of layering and wet blending side by side with the layering technique being used on the figure on the left side and wet blending on the right.

Blending: This is when you use a little drop of paint directly out of the pot and place it at the top of an area where the light shines. Usually you will be using a bright color so try to no overdo it. Once you place the paint in the spot use a second brush to push the paint out in all directions, down towards the bottom of an area till the paint gets real thinand then can't be pushed down any further. This is why you only want to use a small amount of paint. This will create a lighting effect, and seamlessly blend the dark and light colors together. This works well for animal, beasts and vehicles. Or you could wet blend, it will just take you a little longer. The end effect should look roughly the same.
Highlight: This is when you paint a thin line on the edges of the model with the brightest color in you triad to make the model pop. It is also used to refer to painting the bright colors that would be created on a piece of material when it moves in the light.
Glaze: This is when you thin you paints down way more than normal. Some people like mixing their paint 1:2 or 1:4, making each layer very thin causing you to paint 3-10 layers until it is the exact hue you want. This will give the model a very soft appearance, and will allow for some serious contrasts, shades, and shadows. This technique can be applied to the model or just certain parts like ethereal appendages, incorporeal figures and wings.

Now that we have part of the model completely covered, we are going to highlight. The colors you will need for this are shown above. Were going to start with the armor so grab some "Chainmail" and start highlighting all the edges.


Once this is done it is time to fix up the  the lighting effect on the shin pads and for this we are going to use the blending technique. Place a small line of paint under the knee plates, then with a second clean brush slowly start pulling the paint down till it wont go no further. Do this again on the other side and the paint a thin line down the middle of the shin pad half way down the leg. Now take Badab Black wash and place a thin layer at the bottom of the shin pad plates and pull the wash up till it just passes any line the first highlight may have made. If you blended it correctly there shouldn't be the appearance of a line, but put the wash down anyway to ensure it blends the top and bottom seamlessly.

Now grab "Enchanted Blue" and do a highlight on the blue areas of the skirt. Once this dries, go over the whole blue area with "Asuran Blue" wash to bring down the brightness of the enchanted blue and to blend the different blues together. Once this dries, highlight the red areas with "Blood Red" and once this dries, drop into the recessed of the leg guard and wrist guard to ensure there is separation between these red highlights. Be careful not to get wash on the areas you just highlighted.

Next up we'll finish off her back piece and vents. Only a few steps to go!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Painting Deneghra 1

Before I start this tutorial I want to mention a few things. I do not think that I am a great painter. I know for certain that there are people out there who paint minis that make me feel like crawling into the fetal position and crying. In fact, every once and in awhile when I am really proud of something I just finished painting I will throw up a picture  on "Coolminiornot.com". It is a very humbling experience. This doesn't deter me, it gives me the drive to keep getting better. Every mini I paint I try to do better than the last even if it takes me all month. Hopefully all of these great painters do the same for you. However, I find that even though I may be unhappy with the way a mini has turned out people often receive my minis warmly. I rarely feel the same way they do about my minis, but I often feel like I have achieved a standard that is higher than most mini's on the table in my local area. Like anything in life though, no matter how good you think you are, there is always someone out there who is better.

When I first started painting I didn't have a clue what was going on. I would ask friends who were into the hobby, or employees at my local GW store, but even then I was only getting the how to of 3 color basics. Thanks to the internet and Youtube, I was able to get a better understanding of what it takes to make a mini come to life. You can find thousands of resources on the internet now that were not available to hobbyists when I started tabletop. Shit when I first started playing, we were lucky to have dial up!  My goal for this blog from the start, was to compile all of the things I have learned through out my time in the hobby into one place. I am trying to provide a resource that I wish I had when I was starting out, and share all the things I have learned through trial and error so that all hobbyists, regardless of experience, can avoid or try out different things.   

So what makes me or this blog any different than a Youtube channel or any other resource out there? Well, nothing. I'm sure you can find a better explanation, or a video on Youtube somewhere in cyberspace. However, I guarantee you won't find someone who has the same style. The same goes for all of you! We can sit and watch all the Youtube videos or read all the blogs we want, but at the end of the day we will all have a different style and have things to share about what we like, don't like, or discovered while actually painting our own minis. Learning from these resources is great, but you will not be a good painter until you actually paint, and practice everyday. I should also mention that I am using a 5mp camera on a "Samsung Galaxy" smart phone, and apologize for the picture quality. Sometimes the things I am trying to demonstrate don't show up in the pictures like they do in person, but they should give you the idea of what I am talking about.

I used to paint with acrylic on canvass, and quickly learned that painting theory is the only thing that applies to mini painting. It's a whole new world of it's own, and it has required lots of practice before I have gotten my minis to turn out how I like. There is always room for improvement but I try to make them as clean and realistic as possible. Here is the step by step process I go through for every mini I paint and the techniques I use for my particular style. This is my first time painting Warmachine figures, and I must say they are very small, and presented some unique challenges. Not to mention the added stress of putting yourself out there on the internet. The figure you are painting doesn't matter, you can apply all of this to any model in any range. If you are painting huge figures you have to go about things a little differently, but we'll talk about that when I get to painting monstrous creatures.

Painting Deneghra 1:

I always start with a white undercoat. If you have access to light gray primer (Army Painter) and want to save yourself some time, use gray. As discussed earlier, some colors don't cover black undercoat very well so I use white, which will make colors too bright at times and you will have to first paint an area you want to be darker black before you can start painting your dark color. Almost all paint colors will cover gray and maintain the brightness or the deep hues of a particular color. I use white cause it's easy to purchase from GW. 

Before you start any mini you want to really study it, look for the areas you think will give you the most trouble and where your light source is coming from. Imagine you are looking at the mini standing in front of you, and determine where you want the sun to be. Where the light would fall is where you want to paint all the brightest spot. I always imagine the light source is directly above the mini's head. Look at all the different details of a mini, where each part starts and ends, what type of material would be used in real life to make each part, and how am I going to go about mounting the mini, or completing the base.

Once you have done this, you want to start from the inside out, meaning you start with the bottom layer of all the layers of detail. I usually start with the flesh and then paint all the parts in the order you would put the clothes on, if you were dressing the mini like a squire for battle. For the flesh you will need the colors shown above (I also used Devland mud on the face later on but not needed). Don't forget to dilute your paints!

Paint "Tallarn Flesh," on all the skin areas of the model. The foundation paint will give you a good base for the lighter flesh colors.

Go back over all the flesh areas with "Dwarf Flesh" and once this dries gp over all the flesh with "Gryphonne Sepia" or "Devlan Mud" wash. This Layer is to create depth and shadow.

Now go over the skin with "Elf Flesh" leaving the dwarf flesh in the areas where light doesn't reach. This will make it look like light shining on the model. A good way to go about highlighting is to place your mini under a light and just paint the lightest color in your triad on these spots.

Now move onto the clothing. I decided I was going to paint her skirt black and dark blue because this is going to be the main colors for my army. I used the colors above, use any base color from your color triad and start with these, nothing fancy yet. As a side note I want to mention that when diluting metallic paints I use pure "Liquitex Slo-Dri Fluid Retarder". If you mix water into metallic paint it will cause the metal flakes, medium and pigments that make up the paint to separate. Pure fluid retarder will eliminate this because it will hold all of the paint's properties together, and allow you to get a smooth finish when applying it. It says in the bottle to mix 25% medium to the paint. It comes out relatively slow when coming out of an eye dropper or dropper bottle so only add a tiny drop to the paint. If you are going to add a full drop of pure medium to the paint, you will have to mix 4 parts paint to 1 part fluid retarder. 

Paint the bottom of the skirt with "Chaos Black" and the top section with "Moridian Blue" foundation. I am choosing to place a color here to break up the black and to create a visual point of reference. I also want the blue to come out dark so I have painted moridian blue to tone down the white undercoat. I could have done this with black as well but I want the next color I put down to maintain it's hue.

Next paint the blue section of the skirt again with "Regal Blue" and paint all parts of the armor in "Boltgun Metal" and apply a wash off "Badab Black" to all the areas you just painted except for the flesh. This didn't come out as dark as I liked so I did a second coat of wash. Use it liberally and let it fill up the recesses. Hold the mini on it's side when applying the wash  to avoid the wash from running down or off your mini, also try to soak up with your brush any areas that wash has started to pool on the surface. This made the armor look almost black but maintained it's metal appearance and it really toned down the blue, and fit in nicely against the black.

You could just paint the shoes, back of her legs , and weapon right now an call it a day. When they say you only need three colors painted on your minis for tournaments or to play at GW stores they mean just that. Paint the skin, the clothes and the armor three separate colors and you are good to go. Some people might add a little highlighting here and there and stop, and this is perfectly fine. Painted minis are always better than unpainted mini's. But when you get your mini's you have to figure out how you wanna go about painting them. 3 color tabletop quality, or display quality for the tabletop. If You just want table top like I said you can stop here. If you want your minis to look a little more life like, then continue on with me for a little bit longer and stop when you feel you are happy with the mini. If You are wanting to push your mini further then follow me all the way to the end, It's going to be a 6-12 hour journey.

Next up Painting Deneghra 2.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Painting Basics 2

Taking Care of Brushes:

It is best to store your brushes in some sort of protective case and to make sure they are clean before you store them. There are two ways to go about cleaning your brushes. The first, is to run them under cold water (Warm or hot water can melt the glue that holds the bristles in place causing the brush to open up of shed its hairs), gently separating the bristles with your fingers to allow water to access the center of the brush. You can then rub a little dish detergent one the brush and then rinse it off. This should clear out any wet paint. You can then rub the tips of natural hair brushes with a little bit of hand lotion to keep the bristles moist, and uniform. Never store your brushes tip down, and don't leave them sitting in your water pots. This will bend and fray the tips of your brushes and destroy them in very little time.

"Brush Restorer," is a solvent based chemical that also has a hair relaxing agent mixed into it. I use this to clean dried up acrylic paint out of paint brushes, and also allows me to keep the points for much longer durations. It can add months to the lifespan of your brush. Make sure you clean your brush well with soap and water after cleaning it with brush restorer. Any residual chemical can ruin your paint job once you get back to it.

Palettes/Water Pots:

A palette of some sort is important because diluting paint is important. Diluting paint makes it easier for you to control the paint and its thickness on the models surface. Diluting your paint will also eliminate the appearance of brush strokes, and give the model a smooth finish. You should never paint directly out of the paint pot for a number of reasons:

1) Your paint will dry up, and at $5 for 12ml of paint it can get expensive, so don't go wasting it by leaving it exposed to the air while you paint out of the lid. Transfer it to a palette and water it down.

2) The paint will come out too thick and you will make every model and every part of the model look different or unnatural. Not to mention chalky, full of brush strokes, and have an uneven finish.

3) In order to achieve certain techniques such as wet blending, glazing, blending, etc, (Discussed later) you have to dilute your paint. Even if you have used a black primer undercoat you should still dilute your paints. Because watering down paint makes the paint thinner, and requires you to paint 2 layers, you should lay down a basecoat of the color with a watered down layer of foundation paint first to ensure you aren't sitting there all day painting layers of one color.

4) When you dilute paint you can control almost every aspect of the mediums application. When you paint directly out of the pot, you have little to no control over how the paint is going to lay down every time you dip your brush. This will make you pull your hair out, or make you feel like the worst painter in the world. Maybe not though, I'm just speaking from personal experience!

All the best painters, "Golden Demon" winners, and artists who paint the amazing minis we see in the game books, and on www.coolminiornot.com dilute their paints, so if you ever wanted to have your models turn out close to this quality, I suggest you do the same. I'm not suggesting I am anywhere near as good as these painters but diluting paint has really brought my miniatures up to a higher level than when I wasn't doing it. Here is a pic of a Imperial Guard model I painted when I was first starting out, and was painting directly out of the pot onto a black undercoat, compared to a Space Marine I painted with diluted paint on a white undercoat:

You can see how thick, chalky, and brush stroked the first model is, where this is eliminated on the second with the exception of the metallic paint, which I used directly out of the pot. Of course there are certain times when you want to paint directly out of the pot to achieve different techniques like dry brushing, highlighting and dry blending (Discussed later), but for the most part I recommend getting used to diluting paint.

Also when painting it is important to clean off your brush after every couple of times you dip it in paint. This ensures that the brush doesn't get paint dried up in the center, and to stop one color from getting into another as you move from part to part on the model.  Use cold water to ensure you don't damage your brushes, and use two water pots. You want to keep your metallic and regular paint separate. When you clean off your brush with metallic paint on it, you will see that when the paint hits the water a little firework explosion takes place on the surface of the water.

After repeated rinses in the cup, you will see a scrim of metal flakes floating on top of the water. If you are using the same water pot for paint and metallic paint, you will find that when you go to paint an area that isn't metal, these little metal flakes will show up in the paint job. I have had this happen and it is annoying. I also suggest using a brush for paint and a different brush all together for metallic paints. I prefer using synthetic hair brushed for metallic paint because they are easier to clean, and they don't trap the little metal flakes inside the brush as bad as natural hair brushes.

Other tools:

I also use a light with a magnifying glass built into it, and a "Helping Hand" on occasion. The light with the magnifying glass is helpful for blowing up small details on the models so you don't have to strain your eyes for long periods of time. If I find I am getting a headache from staring at a mini for too long, I will use this set up (Picture 1) to give my eyes a break. I will also use the light to determine the light points on a model when starting the highlight phase. Make sure your bulb doesn't get hot and produce a lot of heat. I used a conventional desk lamp with a sunlight bulb inside when I started out but the bulb got so hot it would dry the paint on my brush as I was painting. This is disastrous and wasteful so use a low heat bulb. The helping hand doesn't get used very often, but if there are times I need to free my hands up, I will use it. You don't really need one though unless you are taking pictures or filming while you paint. If you have poor eyesight, arthritis, or other physical disabilities these tools will greatly help you in the  hobby.

Transferring/Diluting Paint:

Transferring paint to a palette is quite easy to do and will save you money on paint in the long run. All you have to do is grab and old paint brush and scoop some paint up with the bristle end or the other end of the brush. DO NOT transfer paint with the bristles of the brush you are painting with! You will ruin the points of your brushes and potentially get different paint colors where you don't want them. Always use an old brush.

Once you have the amount of paint you desire on the end of the brush you can get as much of it off onto the palette as you can, trying to keep it in a centralized place. Once you do this, you can add one drop of distilled water for each glob of paint you put down on the pallet. Try to keep the globs roughly the same when doing multiple globs of paint. This glob also represents "One part paint." so if you ever read "One to One mix" or "2:1," this means 1 glob of paint and 1 drop of water, etc.

You don't want to water the paint down too much because it will run into the recesses of your model or take a lot of layers of paint to cover the area fully. I have heard some people say you want to dilute the paint to the consistency of milk, but that is hard to gauge. I use the paper towel test.

If you paint a line on a piece of paper towel, the paint should slowly ooze onto the towel, and keep a uniform line. This is how you know the paint is diluted correctly, and you can start painting.

Here is a picture of paint that is too diluted next to the original line. If the paint is too watered down it will quickly soak into the towel and create a line that spreads out . If your paint looks like the one trailing off of the brush above, you should add another dab of paint to the batch you already made. If you are using the glazing technique then this is the consistency you want it to be because you will be painting many thin layers.

Making a Wet Palette:

You can use ceramic floor tiles, disposable plastic plates, blister packages from when you buy models, and anything else that is non absorbent as a palette to dilute paint on. However, these will sometimes dry up  quickly depending on the temperature of the room you are in and humidity. So what can you do to avoid this, and give you longer work times with your paint? Maybe even store it overnight for use tomorrow. You can make a "Wet Palette." Before I start, I would like to thank "TheRealMythril" on Youtube for the tutorial.

What You Need:

Tupperware Container: One that seals air tight and locks preferably.
Sponge: Cheap thin sponge. Any sponge that will fit your container will do.
Paper Towel: To wrap the sponge in.
Scissors: To cut the sponge and wax paper.
Wax Paper: This will create the barrier between wet sponge and paint.
Water: To wet the sponge.

Place the sponge into the Tupperware container and trace around the bottom edge of the container. Make sure you do this in a direction away from your body.

Once you have the outline you can cut it out with your scissors and pull off two pieces of paper towel keeping them attached. Place the sponge inside the paper towel and fold it around the shape of your sponge and place it into the Tupperware container.

Pour a little bit of water onto the sponge and let it soak in till the whole sponge is wet. You don't have to over do it, you want the sponge moist not soaking. if water pools in the corner when you turn the container on an angle, you have too much water. Pour it out and you should be good.

Once the sponge is moist , pull off a sheet of wax paper, fold it in half and cut it to the dimensions of the container, cutting it it a way that there are too layers still attached where you folded it. Place the bottom layer of the fold on the sponge pressing down and spreading it out smooth. Once it is laying flat and starting to look a little damp you can do the same with the top layer of wax paper in the same way you did the bottom layer.

Now that both pieces of wax paper feel damp to the touch, you can start transferring paint and diluting it. Once you are finished painting, or if you have to stop mid way for some reason, and just diluted some paint, all you need to do is put the lid on it and lock it tight. The paint inside should last for 12 hours. If you need to store it longer than that you can just put it in the fridge. I mainly use this to stop my paint from drying up too quickly during hot days. When the sponge underneath starts to dry up you can remove the wax paper and add more water till it is damp again. When the wax paper get's too crowded with old paint you can just cut another piece and continue on. You should also make a new one every month or so with new materials to prevent the container from getting moldy.

Next up: Painting Deneghra 1, and a quick discussion on techniques. Happy Painting!