Monday, February 27, 2012

What a piece of junk!

Tonight I step away from the Ramos crew for a moment to show progress on another project. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I threw my hat into the ring for Wyrd Minature's "Iron Painter" online painting competition. I've always admired this event as a spectator, as many of the entries are rather good, so decided that I would capitalize on my new found painting momentum and see how many rounds I can make it through. Because of the huge number of entrants, the first elimination round sees the contestants placed in three-way competitions, rather than just one-on-one, raising the challenge even more.

The theme for this first round is "Start Your Engines." While wanting to net some theme points, yet not wanting to interpret the theme too literally, I opted to put together a vignette with a severely rusted out piece of machinery as the focus. With a pile of old Mongoose Games' M9 Chickenhawk Marauders suits for the now defunct Starship Troopers miniatures game that I picked up for $2 a piece at GenCon a few years ago, I decided that one of these walkers would be the perfect centerpiece. The casts for these models were a bit rough with some awfully shallow detail in places and the weaponry and equipment pieces were rather toy-like. So raiding my bits boxes I managed to find enough "gribblies" to fill the blank spots and holes where I left off pieces of the original kit.

With the decision made to attempt to create a rusted out derelict of a machine, I opted to try out a technique for creating a convincing weathered effect that I'd read a fair bit about on a number of blogs - salt weathering. For those unfamiliar with this technique, it involves putting down a base color that you want to show through (rust in my case), adhering salt crystals to the base coat with either water or hairspray, spraying on the top coat that is to appear weathered, and then brushing off the salt and thereby pulling away the top coat. So, for stage one, I've laid down a solid rust brown coat using a Tamiya spray can.

Wanting to add some variety to the appearance of my rust, as metal never rusts uniformly in reality, I next stippled on a orangey-brown over most of the piece. Ultimately this proved not to be enough of a contrast, instead just blending in with the brown, and it was effectively unnoticeable in the later stages.
Next I gave the piece a healthy dose of hairspray (an unscented, cheap brand) and sprinkled the salt on top of it, before hitting it with a coat of gloss yellow. It is this stage that I'm going to have to experiment with in the future as it's the key to getting the best results for this technique. If your hairspray isn't tacky enough, the salt crystals will just fall off. If the salt crystals are too large, they'll just fall off. However, if the hairspray is applied too heavily, and your salt crystals are too fine, they'll form a nearly impenetrable crust that you can't brush off later without taking the model all the way to the bare plastic.

Finally I take the model under a drizzle of cool water and attack it with a tooth brush, scrubbing hard enough to pull up the stubbornly stuck crystals, yet light enough to hopefully not pull all of the paint off. It's hard to see here, but I did just that in a few places, bringing the model all the way down to it's bare grey plastic.

After doing the above steps on both legs and the hull of the walker, I assembled the pieces, resulting in the product you see at the top of the post as well as below, from another angle.  The next stages will be to pick out some of the lights in a gem effect as well as add some shading to distinguish the panel lines and various gribblies.  To make this model even more of a learning experience, I'll also be trying out weathering powders in various rust, dirt, and iron hues to really take this guy downhill.  Of course I've still got the base and the other figures that will form the vignette to get done, and all by Sunday.  Let's hope I still paint my best when under pressure!

Soulstone Miner

While getting my Iron Painter entry moving along, I also managed to knock out the next member of the Ramos crew for Malifaux. This is the Soulstone Miner, a handy addition to any of those soulstone-hungry Arcanist crews out there.

While a pretty simple sculpt that went together quickly, some slight miscasting left a few of the many rivet holes on the body of the model either partially filled or non-existent. Armed with my trusty pin vice drill, I re-drilled any of the miscast holes, and then used the same bit on all of the rest of the holes to ensure they were of a standard size. Though tedious and probably overly anal-retentive, I like to think it was worth it.

The paint job was pretty quick using most of the same techniques as with the Brass Arachnid - basecoat of Vallejo "Tinny Tin," washes of Devlan Mud and Badab Black, highlights of Vallejo "Brassy Brass" and Reaper "Honed Steel," and a final spot wash with Secret Weapon "Storm Cloud" to add that patina effect. The eventual owner of these figures expressed his satisfaction with the results on the Brass Arachnid, so I felt there was little reason to change up the method here. Plus, I figure that Ramos is far more a function over form kind of guy, so a utilitarian appearance is probably totally appropriate.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Start your (steam) engines!

With only eight days left in the month, it's starting to look like my plan to finish my buddy's entire Ramos force in the month of February might have been a bit ambitious.  While I have three other figures in varying stages of painting at the moment, the Brass Arachnid here is only my first completed figure of the set.

In painting this guy I got to experiment with a number of colors and techniques I've never used before.  First, this is probably the first model on which the metallics used were not only silver or gold.  The brassy color was a neat experiment, the results of which I'm fairly happy with, and I can't say enough nice things about the Vallejo Game Color "Tinny Tin" that was used as a basecoat.

Attempting a verdigris, or patina, effect on the brass, I also for the first time experimented with using a shading color that contrasted with the main color.  Shading, particularly with washes, has always been in an attempt to build a natural darkening to the base tones, but never to create any other type of effect.  This is something that I'm going to have to play with quite a bit more (and fortunately there's enough brassy automatons in this Ramos force to allow for that), but I really like this first attempt.  For those interested, this was accomplished with the rather excellent Secret Weapon Minatures "Storm Cloud" wash.

In other news, and to further complicate my attempt to get Ramos and his machines finished in a timely manner, I've involved myself in the 8th season of the Wyrd Miniatures-hosted "Iron Painter" contest.  Given that I realized I simply couldn't commit to the level of effort necessary to compete in the Lead Painters League right now, the Iron Painter seemed like a reasonable alternative.  First, it's sponsored by a company of which I've become a great fan (though entries are by no means restricted to Wyrd figures).  Second, the contest requires that you have only one entry per round, with each round taking two weeks.  That's far more manageable in my current schedule than the five figures every week for the LPL.  Also, given that there is no attempt made to hide the identities of the entrants, I also won't be foreclosed from posting pictures of my entries here.

While I believe I have an idea for my first round entry, the theme of which is "Start Your Engines," I have a bit more to think on that.  But expect more regarding Iron Painter soon and my next Ramos warband entry, an Electrical Creation, within the next few days.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Super service from Secret Weapon

After seeing a post on Dave Taylor's blog about using a wash from Secret Weapon Miniatures to quickly and simply approximate a bronze patina effect, I and a buddy of mine put in an order for a number of their washes.  I've ordered from Justin before and was pleased with the speed of their service.  This time was no different.

Unfortunately, upon opening the package I found that I had mistakenly been sent a different wash than the Storm Cloud color that prompted the entire order!  I quickly sent out a message to Secret Weapon explaining my problem, and Justin responded within the hour to let me know that the correct wash would be on its way this morning.  That's outstanding service, especially considering how many other small operations in this industry are run like an afterthought.  Keep it up guys!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

March '12 Malifaux Releases

It would seem that I couldn't have picked a better time to start working on my Malifaux figures, as Wyrd has just revealed what will constitute their March releases. Overall, I think this is a solid release without a single stinker in the lot. But in particular, it's these girls (I think that's the correct term for the second pair) that have me the most excited:
I like the look of these alternate Viktorias much more than the original versions that I have, but have yet to assemble, and the Dead Doxies will be a great looking addition to my Seamus crew. Of course, between these new releases and Angelica, released in January, I'll have new releases for my Viktorias, Seamus, and Colette crews, thereby exacerbating my indecision as to which to work on once I finish with Ramos. Hopefully this is about as troubling of a dilemma as I'll ever have to face. :)

Monday, February 06, 2012

February Plans

On the heels of what has been my most productive month of miniatures painting ever, I've opted for an even more ambitious February.  To the right you can see my "Painting Queue,"  which is something that I plan to update at the beginning of each month with my plans.

For February, I intend to quickly knock out the newest member of my Mordheim high elf warband - pictures by tomorrow evening - as well as complete nearly the entirety of my buddy's Ramos crew for Malifaux.  This long suffering friend of mine commissioned me to paint this group of figures nearly two years ago, and they've languished on my painting desk due to my general lack of productivity.  But as his schedule looks to be freeing up on the nights that our regular Malifaux group gets together, it's important that I finally get these completed in order to facilitate his participation.  Provided I accomplish this plan, I'll have only the alternate Ramos and another arachnid swarm to take care of to complete his entire crew - though no doubt there will be an avatar Ramos eventually added.

Unfortunately I've made this job a bit harder for myself, having added the Soulstone Miner and Taelor to the figures he originally gave me in an attempt to make up for my extreme delay.  I've also started working on a custom case for carrying this crew around.  So, lots of work ahead of me, but provided I maintain some steam this should be perfectly doable!