Sunday, July 19, 2015

Priming woes

Now that it's settled and I've decided to avoid washes and inks and just go with the three-color method from here on out, I was eager to prime some more figures and get to it.

I decided to try some brush on primer since spraying can be something of a mess. I had bad luck with the Humbrol #33 enamel paint I used previously: it was so old I couldn't get it to mix. So I decided to try to a flat black enamel paint from the hardware store.

It mixed up easily but stunk to high heaven. I wore a mask and opened the sliding glass door, but I still got tremendous headache that lasted about 24 hours. At first the enamel paint went on too thickly. So I cut it with the Gamsol thinner I had. For some reason the thinned paint dried shiny!

Oh, well. Into the paint stripper. Sadly, my old stripper of choice Dawn Power Dissolver has been discontinued. I ended up buying some industrial strength Simple Green. Soon they are going to know me on a first name basis down at the local hardware store.

After that fail, I decided to go back to spray primer so I bought another can of Duplicolor primer. My first go with it I had difficulty getting it to spray into the harder to reach areas. I had done the obvious thing and placed my figures on a cardboard box outside to spray them. Upon further research I found this interesting video tutorial on priming. So I decided to give it a go - with a mask, unlike that yahoo.

I bought a 36" piece of 5/8" square poplar and cut it into 12" sections. Now I can blue-tac my figures onto the end and spray away at them from almost any odd angle.

I've made one modification since I took these photos. The blue-tac didn't stick so well to the porous, rough-cut wood at the ends of the sticks. So I've nailed on some polycarbonate furniture disks to give the blue-tac something to stick to. Last thing I need is a freshly primed figure taking a dive into the dirt...

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Finally at it again!

Well, it's been a long time.The family moved across country again and I started a new job. With all that going on I've only just now dug my hobby box out of the garage and gotten back to painting my poor neglected band of wee Scotsmen.

One of my motivations was that now that I'm back in Los Angeles, I've found some SAGA gamers much closer to me. The shop is only bout 15 minutes away - as opposed to the 2.5 hour drive I had back in Florida.

So I decided to take another crack at getting my 4 point Scot's warband completed. Since I'm still new to this hobby, I do fancy a bit of an experiment now and again. For my next batch of three figures, I decided to try the painting method described in Saxon Dog's Painting Guide (available as a .pdf if you ask him nicely).

I'll summarize the approach for those not curious enough to request the doc:

  1. Prime with white spray paint
  2. Wash the figure with black wash 
  3. Paint your base color
  4. Apply a highlight
  5. Wash with brown wash
  6. Re-highlight (with the same color as the first highlight)

I guess I'd consider this a Hybrid method. Not as point and shoot as the Army Painter dip method. Not quite as elaborate as the Three Colour method. Somewhere in between.

The idea is that you can get the "black line" look without it being as hard to see the details with a black-primed figure. But I found the black lining to be inconsistent. In some spots it wasn't very dark at all. In some spots the wash dried almost white.

Unlike Saxon Dog who used GW washes, I used the Army Painter inks. Lots of blogs have tested the various washes and inks. Like this one here.

The results:

Yes, I still need to do the bases and the javelins.

What I learned:

I really don't like washes. They always makes things look to dirty or muddy for my taste. I think the washes were helpful on the hair though and might use them again for that.

Keep paint thin (but not too thin). Initially I was too lazy to clean and use my wet palette. I found my paints got goopy on me while I painted (slowly). The wet palette really is your friend.

I really like the da Vinci Restauro 3/0 brush I got. I may have to get more of them.

So, I guess it's back to the Three Colour Method for me. Unless I decide to dabble with VeronaKid’s Shaded Undercoats Tutorial.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

British site is even older than they thought...

It seems they've found the oldest settlement in Britain --- again. At Vespasian's Camp near Amesbury (famous for Stonehenge) scientists have carbon-dated auruch bones back to 8800BC. Follow the link to read the article on

(Courtesy the University of Buckingham)

Dark Age house test wall (part 4)

So last I left you I had primered test wall #2 with cheap black acrylic. It's easy to see below that it's much harder to hide the PVA under the skinnier balsa wood.

The wattle & daub dry-brushed with some greys and a white.

The wood was done with browns mixed down repeatedly with light ivory.

I still need to weather the door pull. Probably just dry-brush with silver.

Here's a comparison between the first and second test walls. It became pretty obvious the foam core has a grain to it. I'm not sure which I prefer looks-wise, but the horizontal seems less resistant to warping.

I'm very happy with the way the second wall came out. Looking forward to moving on to a corner...

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Dark Age house test wall (part 3)

It took a while for my to source some balsa, but I'm liking it better than liberated coffee stirrers for the bracing on the new test wall. It cuts more easily, it takes texture better, and it looks more true to scale. 

I bought 3" x 1/16" x 36" balsa sheets and trimmed them to size. I cut it into more manageable 12" sections as soon as I got it home. I'm a big fan of the Alumicutter ruler, but it's still harder than I thought to keep the cuts straight. Might invest in a stripper if I keep this type of work up.

Went with balsa sheets and cut to size
Basic structure in place
Didn't fancy the last carved foam door, so went with balsa
Didn't want foam showing by the door jam, so cut in some shims
Close up of the knotty door and jam
Jazzy door pull courtesy of the wife's jewelry making supplies
Close-up of the door & pull
After two coats of dilute black craft acrylic

I'm thinking I should use 1/8" balsa (2x thickness) at the corners and door jam. Basically anywhere you can see two sides of the wood. Guess we'll find out when I attach another wall to this puppy!

That's all for now. Looking forward to dry brushing this one up.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dark Age house test wall (part 2)

Had a blast dry brushing the test wall. I think it came out pretty well. Learned a few things too.

Finished Construction

First coat of cheap craft black paint (added a second later)

Wood dry-brushed with cheap craft Burnt Umber 

Wood dry-brushed with cheap craft Spice Brown

Wood dry-brushed with cheap craft Bridgeport Grey

Wattle dry-brushed Charcoal, then Hippo Grey,
then Bridgeport Grey, then Antique White

Key takeaways:
  • Paint the wattle first - I ended up having to touch-up the wood beams quite a bit
  • Scuff up the boards well BEFORE assembly - especially the edges
  • Not happy with the plastic-coated paper business card I used for the door horizontals - it didn't take to texturing very well (or perhaps I forgot to do it!)
  • I need some different sized wood - the coffee stirrers are too thick and a pain to cut down
All in all, pleased as punch with how it turned out though. Good fun!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Dark Age house test wall (part 1)

Made some progress on the test wall this week.

It started off as a sheet of Elmer's foam core board. I peeled the paper off of one side so I could give it some texture. That was rather a pain. Maybe I will try wetting the paper with water (or Windex) next time as others suggest.

Then I used an el cheapo wire brush assortment to give a rough, vaguely swirly texture to the walls in a effort to make it look like wattle and daub. I may even try to carve in some detail of wattle poking through.

Next up was cutting up some coffee stirrers to use as wood beams. I worry these may be a bit to wide to be realistic, but that's why we do things like test walls, right?

The building I'm basing this on doesn't have a door on the end wall, but again, this being a test I might as well test doors too. This one was made by scribing the foam with a mechanical pencil. The horizontal boards on the door are cut from business card.  The door jams are an attempt to cut down the too-wide coffee stirrers. Kind of hard to control how wide they will be when cutting with the grain, but I think that adds to their Dark Age charm.

The whole door was cut out from the wall and then recessed slightly. Probably not necessary with the wood frame but again: test, test, test!