Monday, May 27, 2013

The Dirty Quarter Dozen

I think the first three levy are done! Well, except for the spears and shields. And bases. Well, OK they're not done, but the painting is.

I think I went a bit heavy on the wash. I'll try going lighter with the next bunch. I realized after I'd stained and matte coated them that I forgot to paint the metallic bits on their belts. So I hit them with some AP Plate Mail and then some diluted AP Dark Tone ink.

I told myself I wasn't going to mess with the eyes this time around as it seemed to fiddly for my first attempt. But when I showed them to my wife she said they looked like zombies, so I gave them a prick with a Staedtler pigment liner (0.1mm). They look better, but still a little off. I may try to put some white paint down first next time. Or heck, even leave the eyeballs with just the white primer.

Next stop weapons, shields, and bases. I may prime up the rest of the levy while those experiments go on. I've also got a powerful hankering to mess around with some foam core buildings. Must... Stay... Focused...

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Shading: A Second Go

I decided to brush on the Army Painter Strong Tone Quickshade this time around. I'm much happier with the results. I used the wrong brush but it was still much easier to control than the dip method. Below is a pic of the beloved test levy in each state: color blocked, brush-on shaded, and dullcoted:

Its going to take some trial and error to figure out what's the right amount of stain and where it should be. For example, I've definitely got too much on the legs of these guys. I used another brush to soak up some of the excess stain. I learned you need to check back on the mini after a couple of minutes as the stain tends to move and pool-up over time. You've got to remain vigilant as an area that looked good at first might start looking over-shaded.

I'm still debating high-lighting these guys. Part of me wants to kick them up a notch visually. Part of me wants to not bollocks them up and have to strip them again! I did paint on some highlights on the black haired gent before shading him (as the stain wasn't going to draw out much detail from the black). I also made an attempt to highlight via the method Dr. Phil Hendry suggested on a forum post:
"Once it's dry, everything gets a painted-on coat of Army Painter Strong Tone (sometimes I 'dry-brush' the 'dip' off the highlights on the tunics with a brush dampened with white spirit, just as the 'dip' is going tacky), followed (once that's dry) by a light squirt of Testors' Dull Cote."
I don't think I had much luck though. Perhaps I waited too long to 'damp brush' on the thinner, or perhaps my natural turpenoid isn't as strong as the white spirits he uses. I am going to give it another go though. I like the idea of being able to draw out some highlights easily (as opposed to mixing up lighter versions of the paints).

This was my first time using Testor's Dullcote. I'd heard mixed reviews of the Army Painter matte spray, so I went with what seems to be 'the old standby.'  I was a bit nervous as I am spraying outdoors in Florida, but the temperature and humidity were pretty much spot on (for once!). It took two light coats but the results were outstanding. The finish is very matte. Interestingly the only problem area was where I had used the most turpenoid while attempting to highlight. I'm guessing that area was no longer glossy enough to really take up the matte spray?

All told, I'm very happy with my progress and feel like I'm finally starting to make it out of experimentation phase and into the production phase. Which is good, because I believe my other thirty-four miniatures are starting to get a bit jealous!

Friday, May 24, 2013


This time around, I thought it would be cool to take picks of the minis at each step of the color blocking:

For those keeping count, this was round two of painting these gents. After the first shading dip fail, I stripped and attempted to re-prime them. That didn't go so well (high humidity?) so I tried a different primer (white auto-primer).

I like the look and feel of the auto primer. A couple of caveats though. It seems to be more fragile than the Army Painter primers. That seems counter-intuitive as, at least in theory, it should bond better to the metal since that's what it's made for. Maybe it goes on thinner or I've just been clumsier with the minis this week. Also, I need to be more liberal with the base colors when using the white primer. This time they've got a lot of little white specks peeking through. Hopefully the Quickshade will take care of that. We'll find out soon enough!

As to the painting, I've gone and forth on the wet palette. At first I liked how it kept the paints from glopping up on me during the painting session. But then it felt like I couldn't control how wet the paints were getting. Since I'm only painting these three stupid levy over and over again, I don't feel like I'm getting the benefit of the wet palette - helping you save paint when you paint day-in and day-out. My painting has been sporadic at best. I might try it out again but keep the sponge in the wet palette less water logged.

I had another brush fail. This time it's my own damn fault. All the advice was: buy some nice Kolinsky sable brushes. I am pretty cheap however and I was wooed by these awesome red handles. Talk about getting the cart before the ox! The handles are brilliant. The brushes are crap. They were marginally better than the Army Painter brushes, but still had some crazy wild hairs poking out at random. Painting miniatures well can be taxing on its own. Let alone with itinerant brushes. I finally broke down and bought some real brushes. They made it from England in two days! Have not yet tried them, but I'm optimistic...

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Once more into the Bleach!

Well, my new primer finally arrived. I hate ordering from Amazon on a Friday - it completely negates the benefits of Prime membership. After dutifully checking the hygrometer, I sprayed the three test figures yesterday. It took three light coats to get them covered but I'm really happy with the look and texture of this primer. Here's a peek at the minis:

However, after this coat of primer I found STILL more mold lines. Aaaahhh! So I scraped and buffed them again then threw them back into the degreaser. I'm really bad at getting rid of flash. Sometimes you have to hold the figure at exactly the right angle to see it. The magnifier lamp I bought helps, but for some reason the white primer really made them jump out. I guess that's good?

I jokingly titled one of my previous posts "A Primer Primer." Obviously I'm in no position to be teaching anyone about primer at this point. After the high humidity incident, I went looking for advice and found this much more informative, similarly-titled post: "A Primer on Primer"

I think I might have to switch to a more cost effective degreaser at this rate. I really like the Dawn Power Dissolver. It works pretty quickly and smells darned good, but I can probably get a gallon of some no-name stuff for the same price. Hopefully, all this reverse painting will come to an end soon and price of degreasers will no longer be an issue.

I realize I am perhaps being a bit anal about all this. Maybe some performance anxiety is at play here, but I genuinely want to do a bang-up job with these little men. And I'll not have any mold lines, dammit!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Beer for SAGA?

Haven't made much forward progress with the minis over the past week. Its been raining cats and dogs here in central Florida so I haven't wanted to spray paint or varnish due to the humidity.

I did strip my minis by soaking them in a mild degreaser. It was pretty wild how they shed their skin afterwards under hot, hot running water! I made another pass at primering them with the AP Barbarian Flesh, but I think I must have held the can too far away. The minis were all dusty looking. Almost like they were flocked. Back into the degreaser. At this rate I should buy the stuff by the drum!

I also had issues with the spray nozzle. It sometimes wouldn't spray. It sometimes wouldn't STOP spraying. It sometimes spat out big droplets of paint. I think it must have been the humidity. Even though the rains had stopped it was still about 86 percent. I've broken down and ordered some white auto primer from the Amazon. I haven't given up on the AP primer yet, but I'm close!

While I wait for the auto primer, I'm enjoying a few of these:

"The goddess Sága and the god Odin merrily drink as the cool water flows."