Monday, February 18, 2013

Warlord Games' Tiger gets a paint job

A big thank you to Chris Sutherland for inadvertently prompting me to dig out my Bolt Action stuff again. Here's the result of my weekend's antics...my Tiger 1E finally painted. A good bit of aging and weathering involved with this one. I wanted it to look like its been through it. My bench is strewn with weathering powders....gonna take a while to clean that lot up :P

Unfortunately the pics make it look a bit shiny, which it isn't.









Monday, February 11, 2013

Building the Warhammer Forge Exalted Vermin Lord

So, here goes on a little step by step guide on how I built my new Exalted Vermin Lord from Warhammer Forge. If you're an experienced modeller then you can read this just to see what I've done and how I've used one of my own scenic bases to ground the model in a bit more of a living breathing vignette instead of just using the supplied blank plastic base with some sand glued to it. If you've rarely/never worked with a resin model before this guide goes into a bit more depth to show you some of the things I've learned over the years.

Here is the kit as received from Warhammer Forge: Main body and terrain piece, Doom Glaive, tail, arms, horns, and back spines. It also comes with a 60mm x 100mm base.

 You can see here that I've replaced the supplied base with a Fantascape Wyrdstone Mines Warmachine base. Included in this picture is everything you should need to build this model. You'll notice a few broken pieces of a column from a Gothic Ruins Flyer base and a little pile of plastic rats (spares from clanrat sprues). Tools include a set of clippers, a scalpel, needle files (I mainly use a triangular one, plus a round one and a gently curved one), a sheet of coars-ish sandpaper and a sheet of P600 wet 'n' dry paper (the black one), some green stuff and a pot of liquid green stuff, an old large brush, super glue, Vallejo White Pumice paste and an old spatula style sculpting tool, and a big soft-bristled brush.

 Please excuse my thumb in the frame! At this point I've trimmed all of the pieces of any flash and breather pipes etc. The little tubes/pipes are there to aid the flow of air out of the resin during the casting process. Without them the extremities and undercuts of the model would be filled with air bubbles. Carefully work your way around each piece identifying which bits should and shouldn't be there. Some bits need clippers to remove them, but for others the clippers would be very heavy handed so switch to the scalpel and very carefully trim the pieces away. If you're using a scalpel please remember that it is much sharper than the average craft/hobby knife and is designed specifically to cut through human flesh! Once all of the larger pieces are trimmed away, use the files and P600 paper to get rid of any mould lines. You can also use the scalpel like a scraping tool for this. Notice I've left the back spines on their tab for now so that I don't lose them, and I've also left a tab on the base of the right hand horn so that I know which side of the head each horn is for.

Taking a firm grip of the model near its base and using a circular motion on the rough sand paper, grind down the very base of the model until it is flat. This also makes sure that the surface is roughed up so that it will get a good bond with the resin base when you apply the super glue.


 Now, dry fit the model to the base so that you can see how its going to look. You need to think of the overall composition of the piece and look at how it balances not only physically but visually. I've decided that I don't want the arch parallel with the sides of the base. Placing the arch at a slight angle leads the eye through the piece and lends more movement to the model, also enhancing the impression that this is a snapshot of a much larger scene that continues beyond the confines of the base.



I've chosen to mount the model with the base area of the arch attached to the flagstone area on the base. It would have fit on the other end of the base too but that end is far more interesting to look at. The stone area however, has some broken and raised bits on it so I need to trim and sand those flat to make sure of a good bond when the glue is applied. Just use the clippers to take off the excess raised sections then use the sand paper to flatten the surface as shown in the next pic.





As you can see in these next pictures the Doom Glaive is quite warped. This is not a fault on the model but more a by-products of the casting process and nothing to worry about unduly. Long things pieces like this can very easily break if allowed to fully cure and harden while still in the mould, so as has happened here, its a good idea to de-mould them before they're fully hardened. This allows them to be pulled from the mould while they still have a little softness to them, but it can mean that as they continue to cure  you can get bends and twists. These are easily fixed by immersing them in hot water til they soften again, then straightening them and cooling them down. I'll do this during the next stage, which is to wash all the bits.


Put enough warm water to cover the biggest piece of the model into a sink or bowl and add a little squirt of washing up liquid. Now us a big soft-bristled brush to wash all the resin pieces. The soft bristles will get into all of the nooks and crannies without damaging any of the details. This step is very important as the moulding process sometimes involves a wax based release agent being sprayed into the mould before the resin is poured. This wax then adheres to the surface of the casting and if not washed off can and will prevent any paint (even undercoat) from sticking to the model. Rinse the washed pieces in clean water and allow to dry thoroughly.

Here is the model now super-glued to the base. Its starting to take shape, but before I add anything else (limbs and weapons will get in the way at this stage and will be easy to accidentally break, so its best to leave them off for now) I need to blend the two together. At the moment the model appears to be sitting unrealistically on the base. Using an old spatula sculpting tool I can add some Vallejo white pumice paste around the join, giving the appearance that the arch is sunk into the floor and surrounded by a small pile of dirt. The paste doesn't take long to dry when used in small amounts like this but will take a couple of hours to harden fully.


 The model and base work great together and you could easily leave them like this and still have a great looking model, however, taking a bit of extra time to add some more details will really make a fantastic looking model. First thing to look at is the fact that the Vermin Lord is standing on a ruined and crumbling arch. There really should be some extra bits of rubble lying on the floor below it. Don't go overboard, just a few pieces will be enough to give a good impression of fallen masonry without cluttering the base. This is where I used the sections of broken column from the Gothic Ruins flyer base. I was able to clip off a few bits of sculpted crumbling stonework and scatter them here and there on the base. The bigger pieces have gone under the overhang of the arch, and a couple of smaller pieces are pushed and glued in to  white pumice paste to break up the join between model and base. The next thing to notice about the model is that the archway is swarming with rats. Now it would look a bit odd to have rats on the archway but nowhere else. Using the pile of spare plastic mice I've decided to add rats to the base, with more towards the back and only a few at the front. By doing this it gives the impression that the Vermin Lord is at the vanguard of a gigantic swarming mass of rats, which in the imagined extended scene playing out behind the model.

All of the limbs, weapons, horns etc can now be attached carefully. Bear in mind that resin is porous to a certain degree and so super glue bonds incredibly well with it. This invariably means that you usually only get one chance to glue the pieces together, so be careful and be sure you know exactly how the bits fit together  before continuing.


 Smaller gaps/cracks between pieces can be filled with liquid green stuff, and bigger ones will need a tiny bit of actual green stuff gently smoothed into them. To be honest though the only gaps on this model were around the arms and one of the horns and were very minor.




And so, here is the finished model, undercoated with grey primer which pulls everything together in a uniform colour. Its now ready for painting and I can't wait to get stuck in to it.








Thursday, January 17, 2013

Personal Project: New Dark Angels Army

As a hobbyist I've been immersed in Flames of War for the last 12 months or so, and even the release of the latest edition of 40K didn't seem capable of luring me back to the 41st Millennium. However, with the release, last week, of the latest batch of Dark Angels models, Games Workshop has done just that and I thought I could share my building of a new army with you.

I've been a fan of the Dark Angels ever since 'Codex: Angels of Death' was first published for 40K 2nd Edition. This was back when the Dark Angels were based more on the mythology and imagery of the Native American peoples than the monastic influence which came along several years later (this is why the Ravenwing and Deathwing are festooned with feathers etc by the way). As a biker I've always been particularly drawn towards the Ravenwing (in fact some of you might remember seeing me arriving for work at GW in the early 90s on my Harley, proudly sporting the Ravenwing symbol on the lower left leg of my leathers :P

I recently sold all of my remaining Dark Angels models, including a 1500pt Ravenwing force, to my best mate, so this army will be starting from scratch. The only model I have retained from my original collection is Sammael, Master of the Ravenwing, so I set about painting him last week. He took around seven evenings to complete and I'm rather chuffed with him. I don't get a lot of opportunity to paint my own models so rather than tax my brain too much I thought I'd pretty much just copy the 'Eavy Metal one. Here he is:







As you can see in the pictures I've decided to use my Fanatscape Gothic Ruins bases for this army as they are perfect and fit right in with the monastic imagery of the the Chapter.

So, thats my general sorted. What next? Well, having perused the new Codex I've done a rough 1500 pt list which contains:

Sammael
1 x Ravenwing Command Squad
2 x 5 man Ravenwing Attack Squadrons
1 x 5 man Deathwing Knights Squad
1 x 5 man Deathwing Squad
1 x Dark Talon
1 x Landspeeder Vengeance

So, now I need to start building the rest of the army. The bases are pretty much sorted as I'm mainly using the painted samples. Only 8 bike bases are still needing a paint job.


If you would like to know how to paint these bases like the ones pictured just follow the link to this Painting Guide.

The astute amongst you will notice that there are 12 infantry bases in this picture too. I thought I might as well paint the rest of the models from the Dark Vengeance box while I was at it, and perhaps they can go towards the next 500 points.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment as I get to grips with some Ravenwing bikes.....

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Historical Bases released



Link: New Historical Bases

As promised in my last post, but a little behind schedule, the thin historical bases are now available to purchase from the Fantascape website.

So head on over and have a wee look :D

Monday, September 3, 2012

How to use the new Fantascape recessed historical bases


I'm writing this guide to show how to get the most out of the proposed new thin recessed historical bases, and so I'll start with how to do the basic clean up on a base.

The only thing you need for cleaning up a Fantascape base is some wet n dry sandpaper. Go to any good DIY store (hardware store, for our American cousins ;)) and pick up a pack of P600 paper. While you're there get a pack of course sandpaper too.....you'll need this later.

Lay a whole piece of the P600 down on the table and take you base in your fingertips. If it's difficult to hold onto the base for any reason, take a big lump of blutac and plonk it on the top to give you a decent grip. Sit the base on the paper and give it a few circular swirls. That's all it should need, just to take any excess resin off and give a nice flat edge to the base. All you're looking for is a ring of sanded resin around the edge.

Underside of base before sanding.....

.....and after


Any imperfections on the edges are very easily removed with a little scrap of the same P600 paper. Note, don't do this in the kitchen, or around the kids...and please wear a dust mask as resin dust is not very good for you!

The New Bases

I've designed these bases with historical gaming in mind. For some reason when you mount any historical miniature on something like a standard flat GW style chamfered base they just don't look right (my personal opinion, obviously). When you couple that with the fact that most metal historical figures come with a cast metal base area your finished miniature is standing on a little mound of earth and can tower above any plastic models you have mixed into your army, even if they're mounted on the same style of base. The other problem this can cause is to make 1/56th scale WWII tanks look too small as the troops are too tall.

One thing you can do is sand off the metal precast base so you have just the feet to glue directly to the base, but of course the weight of the metal means you will often have to pin the model to the base.  It can be a lot of work to sand it off as well and it sometimes isn't practical especially if the model has extra details sculpted around the feet.

These new low profile Fantascape bases are my solution to those issues and provide a whole range of basing options for your historical miniatures, especially if you're doing WWII stuff.

The range includes 3 different 24mm round bases. One is blank and as such can be used for any model but is included in the range to allow a uniformity across your army when including plastic models. The other 2 have recesses built into the surface. One is a small oval for standard metal models such as those produced by Warlord Games, the other has a slight elongated recess for those models which have an exaggerated elongated stance. The rest of the range includes 2 bases for prone figures, one short, one long, the longer one being for models like machine gunners, the shorter one for loaders, spotters etc. of course, you may prefer to mount your MG teams, for example, on one base, so the range also includes 3 bigger round bases....40mm, 60mm and 90mm (perfect for bigger anti-tank guns, artlliry etc).

Here's how to prep your metal models for use with the recessed bases:

As mentioned above, most metal 28mm historical miniatures come with a small base area as part of the casting. The miniatures shown here are by Warlord Games and are used only for illustrative purposes.



Most gamers tend to simply glue the model, as is, directly to their chosen base, be it a coin or chamfered plastic base, or whatever they have to hand. This is of course absolutely fine, however there is a growing discussion about the scale of miniatures when stood next to the correctly scaled 1/56th vehicles and tanks. Even if the base used is a coin, with the pre-cast metal base on top of that it can raise the height of the model by a good 2 or 3mm (a substantial amount at that scale) and this causes the eye to see the vehicle its standing next to as rather small in comparison. 

Alot of people choose to use 1/48th scale vehicles to combat this but this creates its own problems in that although it raises the height of the vehicle enough to create an illusion of being more accurately sized, it also increases the width and length of the vehicle and in my personal and humble opinion looks just as wrong.

The most obvious way to combat all of this is to remove the pre-cast metal base from the miniature. This can be quite troublesome though and isn't always possible due to the pose of the model, and in most cases leaves you with a weakened model that will more than likely need to be pinned to its base. This especially the case with models in a running pose where only one foot is in contact with the ground.

The new Fantascape historical base range includes two recessed infantry bases which are designed to be used with your metal miniatures to combat the height problem. There is a third infantry base which has no recess and is intended for use with plastic miniatures which have no pre-cast base so you can mix and match your metals and plastics and maintain a uniformity across the army without the metals towering over the plastics on their own little personal hillocks.

The 3 infantry base designs
You can see from the picture above that the recesses are quite shallow (only about 1mm). There's a reason for that...some miniatures have very shallow pre-cast bases and its much easier to make a thicker base thinner than it is to make a thin one thicker, and of course if I made the recess any deeper then they would become almost uncastable. On the subject of thickness, the new bases are very thin at 2mm.



So, on to how to get the most from these recessed bases. After you've finished the basic clean-up on your model lay a sheet of fairly coarse sandpaper on your desk/tabletop. Much like tidying up the underside of the base as described at the top of this post the idea is to use a circular motion to steadily grind down the pre-cast base on the miniature without removing it completely. You're aiming to reduce the height of the pre-cast part so that it fits snuggly into the recess on the base and the top surface comes level with the flat surface of the base. 

Take the model and get a grip as close to the feet as possible without the possibility of grinding your finger ends off. Its important to get this grip as low down as possible as you can more easily apply some pressure and reduce the natural rocking motion of your hands which can create a curved surface on the underside of the model. Don't rotate your wrist....the circular motion should come from your shoulder and elbow.





Once you're happy with the depth of the pre-cast base, try a dry fit in to the recess on the base. Now that the pre-cast bit is thinner its a very easy job to trim it to fit the recess. Now put a couple of dabs of super glue on the underside of the model and stick it into the recess. Remember superglue sets instantly on resin so be sure you've got it in the right place. 








As you can see the model is now sitting perfectly on the base with the feet at the proper ground level and requires absolutely no pinning as the pre-cast base is still there to add stability.




Now you can decorate the base as you would any other model but without having to build a little hillock to hide the pre-cast part. In the past I've just used sand glued on with a 50/50 mix of PVA and water, but I recently started to use Vallejo's White Pumice Paste....its brilliant stuff and all you need to apply it is a nice flat, thin spatula tool. It can be applied very thinly with a bit of care and patience. 



Once you have it the way you want just use a finger to carefully wipe any excess paste from the edge of the base. 



There you have it. A beautifully and sturdily mounted model that won't look out of place next to your plastics or your vehicles.

Next to a 1/56th scale Sherman M4A3

Next to a Tiger I









The full range of bases will be released later this week on the Fantascape website: