Monday, 25 November 2013

Workshop Update

Okay! It is time for some organising I feel, and this gives me the opportunity to show you what I will be working on in the next few weeks exclusively. One of my major problems, that I share with many hobbyists, is that I start more projects than I finish. So here is the plan: to only work on certain things until completion WITHOUT starting anything new OR taking up old projects in the vain attempt to finish them also.

So I will be exclusively working on the following six projects in this order:

1) "Easy Rider" the ork biker

This piece has a deadline: the 7th of December 2013 for GW Bristols' painting competition on the theme "mounted model".
Here is the current state of play:

Still some sculpting work to be done on the handlebars and around his left hand to finish his glove.

A few final touches underneath the arms to create the rugged edges of the torn leather cut, thus hiding the simple GW "glue on sod this" finish.

"Screaming Bell" is an awesome colour in fact! Also you can see the start of the powdered pigment work used to recreate rust and dust effects.

The use of deep blue to shade the Screaming Bell, also you can see the first use of GWs' new technical "Nihilack Oxide". (More on this technical range in an upcoming product review)

Work on the base has finally started also. As usual I use the same shades on the base as on the model.

An overall view showing the extensive pigment work.

And the same from the other side! 
Still quite a bit to be done but I am beginning to see the general finished effect coming into view...

2) Nurgle WFB champion

This is one old abandoned project I am glad I forgot about until now. I will be able to use my increased understanding of contrast to better enhance this guy. 

Here I have already started re-working the contrast on the stell NMM parts.

Another view showing the contrast work. Also I am enjoying playing with enhancing glazes to give a greater richness and depth to the fleshy parts of the sculpt.

3) Nurgle 40K Champion

Possibly the OLDEST project ever in my experience! I originally started this conversion at least eight years ago, and feeling dissatisfied with it left it to one side. I now return to it with a greater knowledge of scultpure and converting as a whole and look forward to revisiting and finishing my vision of this glorious old-school sculpt. I particularly love that power gauntlet. Seriously WHY did they ever change that element of the nurgle style?

I have already removed certain details I had sculpted years ago in preparation for the changes...
Seriously look at the elegant simplicity and aesthetically pleasing form of that gauntlet!!

There was something on his back... My hobby knife expressed my feelings towards the result achieved at the time...

4) Shroom Shaman

You have all grown to know this guy but here he is with his first few coats of paint 

5) finally for fun: the Scottish Goblin

now this is because you always need something stupid and simple to take your mind off the complicated projects! This one will end up with the tartan of my own clan and maybe, if I can be bothered really, a Squeep (which is a mix of a Squig and a sheep)

There we go that is the plan for the next few weeks! Upcoming articles will include:

- a product review of GWs' latest technical paints
- a "how-to-do: goblin skin"
- the finished "Easy-rider" and an article on the use of dry pigments in miniature painting and basing

Hope this program grabs your interest!
Stay tuned and keep on painting happily!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Easy Rider: in the garage...

A sneak preview of the upcoming piece for GW-Bristol's december painting competition!

More on this guy once he's finished, stay tuned folks!!

Monday, 4 November 2013

"A glass of red a day keeps the doctor away"

STOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP! (And yes!: I know that that is not how the saying goes...)
I am in no way advocating alcohol consumption! Although... Anyway it is quite simple: the reason you should add wine to your list of hobby equipment is not for the liquid itself but for the little strip of metallic paper around the neck of the bottle. This is your free supply of "lead paper" (I don't think it's really lead but it behaves in much the same way).

And this is what it looks like once you've collected it off the bottle:

Now I recommend you try to store this stuff as flat as possible because it will take creases VERY easily and you will NEVER get them all out once this has happened.

Right! Now that you have successfully drunk some paper and recuperated the wine - uhm no other way round actually - well what can you do with this stuff?

A few examples then! Quickly here are the tools you will always use when working with this stuff:

1) : paintbrush devoted to your scultping gear ; 2) : toothpicks ; 3) : superglue ; 4) : craft/hobby knife with a new blade

As well as the tools shown above a steel ruler is a useful bonus as can be PVA glue and a pair of scissors.

So what can you do with this "lead paper"?
I will show you how to turn it into:
- parchment strips
- armour plates (mainly useful on vehicles and structures)
- maps, plans or other simple slips of paper
- scrunched up paper

Parchment strips

These are really useful to create purity seals or similar things.
First of all decide what width and length your strip has to be (I can't do that for you I'm afraid). Then using the steel ruler as a guide cut this strip out of you freshly acquired "lead paper" (LP for the rest of the article).

Next glue one end of this strip to whatever you want your strip to be fixed. For this tutorial I simply stuck it to a piece of metal wire. To avoid getting superglue everywhere: pour some super glue onto a disposable plastic surface (like the back of a blister pack) and use a toothpick to apply just a tiny dot of glue.

Now all you need to do is wind it around as many times as you want, bearing in mind that each time it passes acrosse the support element you want to put a spot of superglue down.

You can even give the end of your strip a little twist as if it were wafting in the wind:

And there you have it! Simple right? To perfect this simply camouflage the unsightly origin with a choice piece of putty such as a purity seal or similar.
You should be warned: this is visually a very effective trick BUT for gaming pieces it is not the best choice at all as the elements remain fragile. Keep this for your showcase pieces!

Here's what it looks like on a WIP 

You can see where I have hidden the origin of one of the strips with a purity seal.

Next: Armour plates!

Now these however CAN be used for tabletop miniatures as well as giving an amazingly efficient effect on even the best showcase pieces. It has one great advantage that you will see at the end of this section...

As previously cut out a piece of LP to the size you want for your armour plate:

Next a small homemade tool that will be useful:

This is simply the end of a criterium pencil stuck to a deceased paintbrush handle.
Using this tool create simple circular depressions at chosen points to simulate rivets. The good thing about the tool shown above is that it not only creates the outer depression but preserves the centre, thus giving you the rivet and the outer relief in one simple step:

You could stop here if you want and fix your armour plate to your project.
Here are a few other effects you can add if you want:

By simply cutting into the sheet and bending it you can create torn or sheared metal surfaces.
By placing your armour plate on a piece of foamboard you can punch through it with anything pointy to create penetrating bullet impacts.

When you finally fix it to your project you will discover that because it is a very thin piece you can bend it to shape anything! This is particularly useful to add elements to curved surfaces. To prove my point here is the tutorial piece glued to the curved side of my pencil shrapener:

And here is a finished painted piece on an old project ( the Nurgle Space Marine )

This technique was perfect to add this armour plate to the curved surface of the marines' backback.

Okay! After armour let us look at paper / parchment. 

Very useful for plans, maps etc. on your bases and dioramas.
As in the previous two examples cut a piece of your LP to the size you want for your piece of paper.

Now I find that lightly turning up one or two corners of your piece of LP will give a more papery look:

Once this is done simply glue to your project!
One good thing in using LP for this is that you can have your paper draping over varying levels of surfaces:

Here the LP has been used to make a huge unfolded map laid over several piles of books.
Here you can see how those little upturned edges add to the realism of your piece.

Finally, for fun, Scrunched up rubbish/paper

Now this is so simple I hope you have thought of it by now...
Cut out a piece of LP, the biger the piece: the bigger your scrunched ball will be ( no really??).
Now here is the really complicated bit: scrunch that piece up between your fingers. That was hard right? Well it should look like this:

Now you just superglue these to your project. They actually look very good on post-apocalyptic bases and slum street dioramas!

WIP of a post apocalyptic base. I have started to paint the paper brownish whites.

There we go: I hope this will inspire you to try some of these out!
Happy converting!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Shroom Shaman step-by-step: "the making"

Right! First actual tutorial. How do you tell people how you did something? Let's find out together!

I am going to run you through the steps, materials, tools and techniques that I used to create the little 'Shroom Shaman.

First of all a quick run through of the tools and materials:

1: Milliput (I used both types shown but you could easily just use the Yellow-Grey one) ; 2: Tamiya Putty used for smoothing cerain areas after sculpting ; 3: Acetone used to diluted and wipe the Tamiya Putty (note: Nail varnish remover is NOT strong enough as a replacement) ; 4: paperclips used for metal counter pins ; 5: Kneadatite (GreenStuff)

1: a flat wide brush and a sharp pointed brush (do not use ones you want to paint with ever again) ; 2: cutting and curving pliers ; 3: manual drill ; 4: selection of "clayshaper" brushes ; 5: craft/hobby knives ; 6: a flat spatula and a home made needle tool ; 7: fine grain sanding paper (grain 400 or higher is recommended)

a close -up of the wider flatter brush (A) and the pointed brush (B)

A: bisected point clayshaper ; B: flat clayshaper ; C: rounded point clayshaper ; D: the spatula tool ; E: the home made needle tool

A: PVA glue ; B: fine sand ; C: common dirt
A: GW medium slates ; B: Tube Tool ; C: granules from water filter ; D: GW small slates
 Right! Now that you have seen all the stuff used here's how it went:

1) Preparing the miniature

After having removed the various parts from the sprue and having cleaned up the mould lines I simply removed the upper part of his staff along with the bone he was holding in his left hand as can be seen in the picture below.

2) The mega 'shroom

Next it was time to build the massive mushroom. For this I decided to build a plastic structure that I would then fill in mith milliput. The plastic card structure acted as a template to give the mushroom stalk its shape. I scratched the plastic card using the hobby knife to give the milliput a better hold. I also cut a length of paper clip wire and glued it to the plastic card. This metal wire will later serve to fix the mushroom to the base.

The milliput is added around the plastic card armature
After having applied four milliput sausages to the armature I simply rolled it betwenn my fingers lightly until I felt the plastic card armature, thus maintaining the profile I wanted. I then left the stalk to dry by sticking it into a cork.

Finally I sanded the stalk using the fine grain sanding paper.

The mushroomhead was built in several stages. First I simply rolled out a sheet of milliput yellow-grey out of which I cut a roughly rounded shape. I then placed this disc on a glass slide with a ball of blue tack in the centre to keep the dome shape. The edges were shaped using the first sculpting tools of Man: fingers.

Once this piece was dry I glued it to the stalk (which had in the meantime made it onto the base).

Next I tried a putty I had never heard of: "Fimo-lite". This was a complete waste of time as I had to redo the whole thing in greenstuff afterwards so just imagine this was only done in greenstuff. This elastic type putty is perfect for veiny and rubbery surfaces such as the underside of the mushroom:

After applying a layer of greenstuff I first used the beveled clayshaper to trace out lines radiating from the stalk. Finally using the rounded clayshaper I added random streaks connecting various of the radiating lines between each other.

The top of the mushroomhead was created by first running a milliput sausage around the edge of the head. This was largely to accentuate the curves of the head and to hide the rough edges created by the underside of the mushroon.

The edge of the head before working the top. As you can see this edge is still very rough.
the Milliput sausage 
Finally I added a ball of Milliput at the centre of the head to make it pointier. Then using the metal spatula tool first, followed by the round clayshaper, I smoothed the tip and the edge into the already hard head base. A final smoothing was done using the large flat brush and quantities of phlegm (CAREFUL!: do not lick tools brushes etc used with putties as these are highly toxic! Store phlegm in a convenient little pot on your workstation.)

After the final smoothing.
A final finishing touch was performed by laying on a coat of Tamiya putty diluted with the acetone. Again: be really careful, do not inhale the fumes and work in well ventilated area! Once this final coat dried I sanded the whole head using the fine sand paper. I did the same to the surface of the stalk as there were some micro cracks that I didn't want appearing in the paintwork later.

The finished mushroom.

3) Next comes the Hookah! 

Now this was actually quite simple. The ball at the base of the hookah is simply a ball of Greenstuf rolled into shaped between my fingers and left to dry. Once dried I glued a wooden dolls house banister piece (lurking in my bitz box). While this glue dried I rolled a much smaller ball of Greenstuff and left that to dry. When this second ball was dry I cut it in half and glued one of the halves on top of the wooden piece. I also rolled out two very thin Greenstuff cones and left them to dry. One is for the Hookah, the other is for the staff of the Shaman.

Once the glue had dried I rolled out three more Greenstuff sausages to hide the connecting points between the glued elements. These were put into place using the paintbrushes to lightly push, nudge and press into place. The sausage at the top of the hookah was pressed flat using the flat ended clayshaper and left to dry.

Once the sausages were dry I used the craft knife to cut crisp edges into the uppermost sausage. Using the manual drill I drilled a small hole into the side of the hookah and glued one of the cones into place. I then shortened the cone to the desired length and drilled a small hole into the top of it to counter-pin the tube later on.

Finally I washed the whole piece over with the Tamiya putty as I did on the big mushroom.

However before connecting the tubing I had to finish the work on the Shaman himself so that I would be able to wind the pipes around him without risking needing to touch up the Shaman and battle with these very thin and fragile elements.

4) The Shaman

In the end I did not convert the Shaman nearly as much as I had planned. All I did was turn his staff into a sort of american-indian pipe.

This was done very simply by shortening the staff to the desired length and glueing the second Greenstuff cone I had made previously to the top of said staff.

Simple so far right?

I then rolled out a very thin Greenstuff sausage...

and wrapped it around the pipe end and cone, using the paintbrushes again, as if it were a piece of string.

Nearly done! (in the background you can see I tested the position of the tube)
And as a finishing touch I used the needle tool to refine the "stringiness" of this final detail.

5) Fixing and connecting the Hookah

I built up a resting place for the hookah using a ball of Milliput and one of GWs' medium slates that had a nice flat surface.

Then I simply glued the Hookah onto this flat slate and got out the Tube tool! This thing is brilliant: simply roll out a sausage of Greenstuff to the desired thickness (quite thin in this case) and then let it cure for about half an hour before rolling it between the two plates of the tool and hey presto!: tube!!! Before the putty completely cures use the brushes to give it roughly the curvatures your piece requires. In this piece before the putty cured completely I put it in place, first pressing one end into the hole drilled into the cone on the hookah, then draping the tube as I desired around the base to finally place it alongside the Shamans hand. Once the putty had completely cured I strengthened the connections with a small drop of superglue.

Then to finish up I cut a small piece of the remaining tubing and glued it to the other side of the Shamans' hand to have him actually holding the end of the tube at the same angle as the bone he originally had in this hand.

6) Flocking and even more mushrooms!!!

Okay we are nearly there! Congratulations for those of you who have had the patience to keep on reading until now!
I cut out some of the base with the craft knife to break the regularity of the base. Then I glued a few small slates around the base of the mega mushroom and at the feet of the Shaman. Using diluted PVA glue I glued a first layer of fine sand. Once this had dried I used superglue to fix some common dirt at chosen points.

Then fishing around my box of random stuff I found some little mushrooms I had made with remaining greenstuff ages ago:

I picked a few of them, drilled holes into the base at the chosen places and glued them in place. A second layer of superglued dirt blended their bases into the rest of the base.

And finally...


Because now he is finally ready to be painted and YOU have successfully survived my first attempt at a tutorial! 
Thank you!!

Now for the easy work to start (famous last words...)

Soon (-ish...) I will use this little guy for a few painting tutorials
Stay tuned!