Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Going on Hiatus

Due to RL medical issues I am forced to go on an indefinite hiatus. I hope to be back to modeling, gaming, and blogging very soon.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pot vs Palette

I have had a post about paints rattling around in my head for the last few weeks, but Ron over at From the Warp beat me to it when he recently posted on the subject - The paints I use everyday. This has inspired me to finally get my thoughts down.




I originally exclusively bought Ral Partha / Poly S Paints. I am pretty certain these were the same product, but there was a branding and/or packaging change at some point. I still have a few of these bottles around. The primary reason I switched from Poly S to GW was I had about a 2 year hiatus from the hobby, and when I picked it up again, all my paints had dried up. I needed to replace an entire set of paints!! At the time, I had a 25% discount at a comic/game shop, and that store only carried GW paints (vs the hobby store that carried a variety of brands, but with no discount). So I chose the less expensive rout, although I did buy a few key Poly S colors that the GW range didn't cover.

Even though I "converted" to GW paints, I haven’t been exclusive to a particular brand since my original set of paints - I have picked up various colors from different brands mainly to complete tri-color groupings that the GW range does not cover. That said, my set of paints is still about 80-90% GW.

I like the Reaper Pro Paints and Privateer P3 Paints, and will continue to buy colors from those lines. The Vallejo Paint's dropper top is a big turn off for me, but the paint performs well. There are still a few colors that I have been unable to find, so I have custom mixed "large" quantities (enough to fill an empty paint pot) for repeated use.


I used to brush white primmer on all my miniatures. At the time I was living with my parents and painting in my bedroom, so it was the most practical option. Later, when I started using spray primer, I used grey (and I have no recollection why). I'm not sure if that's what was available, or it I deliberately chose grey over black or white primer.

For the longest time now, I have been using black primer. I find black is more "forgiving" when painting fully assembled figures - all those little places you can’t see or reach with a brush are left in dark shadow. If you have a really opaque base color to start with, I find it unnecessary to layer white under lighter colors.

I just recently started priming with colored spray primer. So far I like the results, but it looks like it is not an all-purpose solution.




I prefer to paint straight out of the pot - Its how I started and its what I’ve always done. As such, I prefer the lids that screw off, rather than flip up. However, I'll admit that this “habit” slowly dries out the paint, and I occasionally have to "revitalize" a color by thinning it back out with a little water. It is also important to occasionally clean out the lid if you are a "pot painter". If you don't, the dried paint flakes off and pollutes the bottle with small dried paint chunks.

I have some of the newer (and really old) bottle styles that have an "eye-dropper" top. I do not like this style of bottle at all. Not only because of my preference to paint directly from the pot (or lid), but because I am terrible at guessing how much paint I need - I always squirt too much out and waste paint!

Sometimes, because of a particular need, I can't simply paint out of the bottle (ie custom color, wet blending, etc.). In these cases I turn to my table surface before I grab a palette... for me its all about what is the quickest way to get the job done. Heck, I have even used my finger as a mini palette!


Some colors (especially my latest purchases of GW paints) are way too thin for my taste. To correct this, I let them sit out for a bit with the lid off to help the paint "cure". My original Poly S paints never had this problem, and were my overall favorite paints for opacity and thickness. However, they were also the worst for longevity - sometimes the caps would rust or the paint would completely dry up.

The new GW Foundation paints are very similar to those Poly S paints in both thickness and opacity and I'm glad I picked a set up.





Before GW released their first foray into inks (aka washes), I used airbrush inks. I scored 4 8-color sets at 75% off from an art store that was going out of business. I really liked these, and had a lot of success with them. However, there was one draw back... they were still soluble after drying. They had to be applied as the last step before varnishing, or else you faced a big mess trying to paint over it.

I really liked the 1st generation GW inks (even *with* a dropper tip). They were a perfect combination of brightness and translucence. The 2nd generation inks were not as good - they more easily dried with "water spots". The 3rd & 4th generation inks/washes were more opaque than the previous predecessor, and when thinned with water they tended to spot.

About a year ago I picked up a set of Wonder Washes. I liked them, and tended to use them over GW inks of similar colors. After reading so many blogs and forum posts about the latest 5th generation inks/washes, and how great Badab Black was, I picked up a bottle. I liked it so much I ran out and bought a complete set. So far the colors that I tried work great.


The only additive that I have extensively used is a retarder. For wet blending, this is hands down better than simply adding water. The retarder does not change the viscosity of the paint (allowing for potential spotting) and it effects the opaqueness of the color much less. Most importantly, paint with retarder takes much longer to dry than paint diluted with water - making of the wet blending easier!!

Other additives that I have picked up, but not really put to the test is pearl, metallic, and crackle mediums. These have limited use, but I will give them a go sometime.


Recently, powders have become very popular. But they aren't new. In the mid 80's Ral Partha released a 6-color set of Dragonscale Metallic Powder. These came in a 6-piece stackable compact, and have a consistency of eye shadow. (They also came individually packaged with a dragon miniature). These were a fun product and worked perfectly for armor and... dragon scale!!

I have not yet tried the rust and weathering powders out there.



I use a 50/50 mixture of black craft paint and Elmer's glue for gluing sand to my bases and terrain. I do this for 3 reasons. First, adding paint thins out the glue a little bit, making it easier to brush on, but doesn't dilute its adhesive quality. Secondly, it becomes a sort of undercoat making subsequent layers of paint easier to apply.

For terrain, I only use craft paint. This is not an economic descision (although craft paints do cost a fraction of hobby paints). Craft Paints are more durable, and have a laytex consistancy when dried. This creates a much more durable surface.



I prefer a matte look to my figures, so I use a spray matte varnish to finish off my models. No particular brand or type - I use what is inexpensive or easy to acquire. The most common matte varnish I have used is a companion that came with spray stone texture.

I have had an issue with GW matte varnish fogging (and heard tales of the same). This typically occurs when trying to put down too thick a layer in one pass. The clear cote's that come packaged with the spray textures have given me the best results in look and durability.

After a model has been spray varnished, I go back and brush on gloss varnish to all the metal and shiny bitz. I use this technique mostly on fantasy model's armor and weapons, but I have used it on some of my sci-fi range as well.


BB, 4mm BEAD, 8mm BEAD

I add an agitator to every bottle of paint. Back in the day, before I new better (and because they were "on hand") I used BBs. Over time the BBs corroded, discolored the paint, and caused particulates to form.

I now use 4mm Non Magnetic Hematite Round Beads in my hobby-grade paints. These are larger and a little heavier than BBs (I use 1-2 8mm beads in the larger bottles of craft-grade paint). The inability to add an agitator is another reason why I dislike the dropper tips.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

TOEMP CHALLENGE #6 - Playing Catch Up

I joined the TOEMP group late, so I missed out on the first 6 challenges. So, I would like to go back and complete these missed projects. The first "Catch Up" project will be challenge 6. This was a tough challenge - lots of options and bonuses:

  • Option 1: Units of Troops and/or Elites/Special in any combination (135 pts) - Req: Use a new technique from the Easy Section of Individual Challenges
  • Option 2: Unit of Heavy Support/Special (Any pts) - Req: Use a new technique from the Moderate Section of Individual Challenges
  • Option 3: An HQ/Lord (Any pts) - Req: Use a new technique from the Hard Section of Individual Challenges
  • Bonus Challenge: Complete either a unit of Troops (50 pts), the largest model you own (Any pts), or a unit of Fast Attack/Special (Any pts)
  • A Full On Conversion.
  • Every Painting Technique You Know.

I am choosing Option 3 - A Commander Shas'o/el with 2 drones plus 2 bodyguards. The commander is going to be a full on conversion using pieces from a yet-to-be-chosen mange robot model. I have a small collection of said models and a few still in the box.

I also plan to do something I have never done before - paint the models before they are fully-assembled!! Specifically, I will assemble everything except for the arms.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Drone Project

I came across these 2 figures in my bitz box a little while ago. They are from a boxed set of robots from Grenadier circa mid 80's. These 2 were painted up in my Aquamarines (my brand of variant Ultramarines) colors and used as Imperial Robots in a few 1st edition 40k Games.

As I am preparing to build a new Tau commander, I thought these might make some interesting drones to go along with him (a shield and marker drone).

Monday, November 9, 2009

TOEMP Challenge #7 - Complete

Finally they are finished!! This is my second unit of crisis suits, and Ive actually been using the team leader from the first squad as my army commander... so I guess that means painting up a proper commander is now in order.

[edit] Forgot to mention that I didnt like the look of the blue tipped Plasma cannon, and went with a black tip on all three.

Here's the points breakdown for this challenge:

Bikes/Cavalry, Large (40/50mm bases): 2 painting points each

Icons/Symbols/Marks: +1 painting point per model
Eyes/Lenses/View Finders: +1 painting point per model

Missing Deadline: -3 painting points

TOTAL = 9 pts, 2 tallies

Not sure if I can claim freehand on this unit or not... The squad markings are hand painted, but Im already getting 3 points for them as symbols/marks, and I don't think they are that complex to be worth 15 points... I'll have to wait and see what the TOEMP gang says!

Other Posts related to this article:

Static Grass

I tried to use static grass years ago, using a bottle of Woodland Scenics' Wild Honey Static Grass Flock. I didn't like the results at all and shelved the material and idea for years. What I later figured out was I should have mixed different colors together to create a blend. About 2 years ago, I picked up some of Games Workshop's Glade Grass Static Grass. I tried it and didn't like that result either - the color was way to bright for my taste. Then I decided to try to mix my own blend.

The Glade Grass, is not just a mix of greens - there is also rust, orange, and tan among others. Since it was already a rich blend of colors, I started with Glade Grass as my base, and added Woodland Scenics' Burnt Grass and Wild Honey.

I ended up with a muted palette, but it still had depth. The ratio is approximately 50% Wild Honey, 25% Burnt Grass, and 25% Glade Grass. The result is what I now use on my Tau bases.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

TOEMP Challenge #7 - Update 2

Well, I didn't quite finish the unit... but was very close. Here is the status as of midnight Friday. Some edge highlighting, the lenses, drybrush the boulders, and static grass and I can call this done. This may be technically "done" as far as the challenge is concerned, but they aren't done in my eyes, so I'll take the -3pts for missing the deadline.

I tried something new on this project, and I'm not sure I like it... the blue tip on the plasma cannon. I'll either paint the other 2 to match, or "undo" the experiment.

Overall I'm pleased with the turnout, and how quickly I got done what I did. Not the best quality nor at record breaking speed... but "good" quality none the less! Ill have these done by Sunday, and will look forward to Challenge #8. In the mean time, I will probably look to tackle the past challenges!

Other Posts related to this article:

Friday, November 6, 2009

TOEMP Challenge #7 - Update

Well, I made a MAJOR gaff yesterday!! I glued all the magnets in the wrong way!!! I cant believe it!! A stupid mistake and it set me back quite a bit to fix it.

After resolving that issue, I primed and basecoated the unit. For the first time, I used Krylon® Fusion for Plastics® Satin Boot Brown as the primer, which is nearly identical to GW's Calthan Brown Foundation Paint (the color I happen use as base for may Tau).

Ill try to finish these tomorrow with the midtone and highlight... and hopefully the bases.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ion Cannon Mod

Here is a simple conversion I did to a Tau Ion Cannon. I never liked the "stubby" look of the out of the box version so here is my attempt at fixing it.

First I took a 1/4" tube and a 1/4" I-Beam from my bitz box and cut them to the desired length of the extension. Then I trimmed off 2 of the "legs" of the I-Beam, turning it into a channel, or U-Beam. Even though there was an additional step, I chose an I-Beam over a U-Beam because the I-Beam "legs" are tapered and fit flush with the tube when placed.

I then glued the tube into the channel, sanded the seam flush, and added little bit of putty. I flush mounted the extension to both the base and end of the barrel. I decided pinning was not necessary if I used CA+ thick gel glue.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

TOEMP Challenge #7 - First Look

  • Option 1: Unit of Fast Attack/Special (60 pts)
  • Option 2: An HQ/Lord (60 pts)
  • Option 3: Unit of Elites/Special (55 pts)
  • Bonus Challenge 1: Objective markers
  • Bonus Challenge 2: Command Vehicle
  • Bonus Challenge 3: Special Character w/ optional custom spec/datasheet
  • Bonus Challenge 4: Scenery
I chose Challenge Option 3 - A unit of Elites. At this stage of the competition, with only 2 days left, the only Bonus Challenge I would even consider is a small piece of scenery.

Today, I got the unit for my first TOEMP Challenge cleaned, assembled and magnetized. I will primer these before I crash, so they will be ready to base coat and highlight tomorrow. Then I will add details and finish the base the day after that.

The wargear and weapons make this is a 196 point unit... It will be a fireknife unit (missle pods, plasma rifles, and multi trackers) with a shas'vre team leader.

I've gone pretty gung-ho on my Tau with magnetizing all the battlesuits and tanks. Each Crisis battlesuit get 4x 1/8" dia. x 1/16" thick, Grade N42, Nickel Plated magnets, and all wargear and weapons get the same. But if they are too small, I use a 1/16" dia. x 1/32" thick, Grade N50, Nickel Plated magnet instead.

My Son's Second Army pt 3

Just a quick update... I finished up the 2 test models I posted about here.

I simply added a highlight to all the non-metalic colors and finished the base with a mixed sand.

Back to Bases pt 4

This is truly a first for me. I have dabbled with green stuff before with minor conversions, filling in gaps, or completing a simple existing element on a figure, but I have never "sculpted" anything from scratch.

Last week, Laertes and I were talking about what base style to use for his tyranid army. I suggested a kind of Gigeresque bio-alien ground covering, and was inspired to mock-up an example.

This was surprisingly relatively quick and easy to sculpt. I am very pleased with how it turned out.

I started with a small ball of green stuff and flattened it into a rough shape that I liked. Then I pushed in the pod holes. Once I was satisfied with the those, I added small grooves on the interior of the holes, and stippled a light texture to the exterior. Finally, I added a few beads (pods) in some of the pod holes.

There is one pointer I can offer. In the past I have used water to keep my tools from sticking to the green stuff. The problem is water only works once or twice, and then it is necessary to dip your tool in the water again. A while back I came across this tip on the web (I apologize to the original poster for not remembering who)... but KY Jelly is more viscous and lasts much longer, to allow you to freely keep sculpting.

I painted the exterior with Scaly Green, then a mix or Scaly Green and Bleached Bone, and finally blending to pure Beached Bone. The interior is painted with Macharite Red, then a mix of Macharite Red and Bleached bone, and then blended to Bleached Bone.

This is the 4th style of detailed bases I have recently worked on - I'll call it Alien Ground. I don't think they will see use in Laertes' army. But even if that's the case, I think my modest pile of genestealers will eventually be running across this ground!

Previous Posts in this series: Back to Bases Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Back to Bases Showcase: Deck Plating & Sandstone Tiles

I completed a minimum squad's worth of bases for 2 of my custom base themes - Deck Plating and Sandstone Tiles. I tend to do very well with assembly line painting, and actually prefer working on at least 2 similar models at the same time. That coupled with usually not remembering how I accomplished something a few weeks down the road, mass-producing these bases has not been a huge challenge.

For my Necromunda Goliaths, I will need a total of 21x 25mm and 2x 40mm bases for the gang, another 3x 25mm bases for Hired Guns, plus a few extras for future additions.

I plan to keep most of the bases very similar to the 6 above, but the 40mm and about 4x 25mm bases will be "exotic" with more detail or a "special scene".

I am still not sure where I will use these bases, but will probably do at least 4 more regardless of where I end up using them.

Previous Posts in this series: Back to Bases Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Tale of Even More Painters

On Monday I joined the Tale of Even More Painters blogger group. Over the last few months, I had seen various posts here and there about these "TOEMP" modeling challenges, with this acronym that in my head sounds like temporary toe (not sure if I can satisfactorily explain that so I will leave it alone).

This group sets a painting/modeling challenge about twice a month for either a WHFB or WH40K project. Each challenge is different and is broad enough in scope to apeal to each contributor. I look forward to taking on these challenges and getting to know this great group of hobbyists!!

I will be starting off with Challenge #7 already in progress, but haven't chosen my submission yet. As there is only a few days left in this challenge, I will probably grab something already in progress.

Units in Crisis

Ron over at From the Warp asked some of us Bloggers to talk about our "Must Have Unit". I am currently playing Tau, so will answer the question from that perspective.

I have always been first and foremost a Space Marine player, all the way back to 1st edition. However, about 3 years ago, when Laertes and I started talking about playing 40k again, I decided I wanted to try something new - the Tau caught my eye. I really liked the anime style to this army, but what really got me hooked was the battle suits. At the time, I didn't know anything about the Tau. It had been years since I played 40k, and I had never seen a 3rd edition Tau Codex. But I could tell from the images I saw on the web that these battle suits were a very versatile weapons platform!

Once I picked up the 4th edition codex, and started reading the army list, I was excited to field as many battle suits as I could! Unfortunately, after having 5 games under my belt with Tau (between 4th and 5th edition), I still have not successfully utilized them. My beloved suits have been the first to fall in every game!

The problem is, I apparently don't know how to use these guys on the battlefield... I think it is because of how I categorize the units in my head. In Space Marine terms, they look like a dreadnought and are fielded like terminators - but they are a far cry from either! I also suspect that the versatility of their loadout is making it difficult for me to focus on what their role should be in a particular battle.

So, maybe I should try to conquer my failing by fielding an all-suit force. Laertes and I are planning on one more 750 point battle before we up the points limit of our games. Here is a first try at a 1000 point battle suit themed force.

HQ (104 pts)
1 Commander Shas'el; Fusion Blaster; Missile Pod; Plasma Rifle; Hard-wired Multi-tracker; Hard-wired Target Lock)

Troops (140 pts)
6 Fire Warrior; Pulse Rifle
1 Devilfish; Burst Cannon; 2 Gun Drones

Troops (140 pts)
6 Fire Warrior; Pulse Rifle
1 Devilfish; Burst Cannon; 2 Gun Drones

Elite (150 pts)
3 Crisis Battlesuit; Burst Cannon; Missile Pod; Multi-Tracker

Elite (162 pts)
3 Crisis Battlesuit; Fusion Blaster; Missile Pod; Multi-Tracker

Heavy Support (300 pts)
3 Broadside Battlesuit; Twin linked Railgun; Smart Missile System; Drone Controller; Shield Drone x2

The list that I have fielded in my last to games is posted in their respective battle reports <here> and <here>.

My initial thoughts for this new list are that there wont be enough targets for the opposition, and the suits are still gonna fall fast.