Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Quick thoughts on Contrast paints


As this appears on the blog, I am actually in Spain, more on that another day perhaps.

A few weeks back i had an opportunity to try out the GW Contrast paint set.  Oh the joys of being late to discuss a new trend!


 How did we find them?  Well, some colours were great, whilst others were pretty bad.  To be fair, the range of mid to dark shades, with highly saturated colours, worked best.  I was taken with the greens and browns, and these could easily do the whole paint job for those not looking for a complex project.  The most disappointing in my view were the flesh tones, none of which succeeded alone in making for a convincing colour.  To that end I tried creating a red-flesh blend to get more colour into it, which I think looked better.

A couple of hours playing around
There are no metallics in the range either, and for many that would be an issue.  Overall, I doubt these are the one-stop solution GW suggests, but, I do think they can provide interesting effects; and as part of a fully considered scheme, on the right figures, will be of great use in speeding up a process.  These would glaze well over light base colours for example.

But I don't think they are really for me.

Still, thanks to Gav for giving me a chance to try these for free.


Thursday, October 10, 2019

German reconnaissance and communications


Another set of vehicles for my 'Maximum Effort'  German WW2 Project are completed.  These representing support elements to the 243 Infantry Division, operating on the Contentin Peninsula:

These are by no means the best models of course, being bought many years before this intention came to fruition, but it does show that basic materials can be elevated by a good paint job!

SDKFZ 222 
This and the Kubelwagen below are from the Airfix reconnaissance set, an ancient and basic model; but a charming one too.

To be super critical of myself, I'm not satisfied with the canvas tilt here, it needed slightly more contrast, but it is okay for what it is.

Horsch radio truck 
This is from the Grubby Tanks range, and I have doubts about its accuracy, I think the integral spare wheels have been eliminated for convenience, and the radio rig mainly swapped for a canvas cover
Still, it may be my favourite in the group, as there is so much detail to hang from.  Being a resin model, the glass was solidly moulded in so I had to paint it in, I decided on a dark blue tone lightening up towards the bottom, as I've assumed the glass being transparent, what you actually want is an impression of the interior light not the exterior, the latter would imply you were only seeing reflections off the glass, not through it, and any flat colour would appear wholly false.

All these models feature modulated highlighting, an acrylic pinwash, water and petrol stain effects, weathering powders and so on.  As discussed in this post.

More practice, making for more, well - not perfection yet, but improvements.

One thing these models raised, was a dissatisfaction with the working time of acrylic effects when they were on the models.  And so there was a trip to a local art store for some oil paints and thinners, for some new effects.  More on that when I've had some practice with them, but it is the sort of thing that 1/35th scale modellers are well versed with.

Oh and finally, I was able to pull a photo from another source of the infantry to go with these vehicles; some scout troops and an artillery observer/senior officer:

A right mix of makes...


Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Gods of War-tership Down


Additions to the War Rabbits army.

Al-Araiah and Fitch are gods in physical form to the war rabbits, and their influence is what gives their race it's form, twixt beast and man.  They are as you no doubt can tell, not gaming pieces, rather the one on the left is a resin statuette, and the right is a childrens toy, both were purchases for under £5.
As for the bolt thrower, its a scratch build, from a mixture of coffee stirrers, some small plastic parts and some thread.  I added some spare mini's including some limited conversion of a bow armed rabbit to a crew figure.

On a roll with the scratch building, I fabricated up a version of everyone's favourite siege engine:

No prizes for guessing the inspiration:

It is simply made from scrap; strips of card to emulate planking, over a foamcore frame, with a card roof, covered in in thick paper cut to irregular shapes to represent hides.  The battering ram is a twig with some tinfoil glued to the tip.

I only need to do another 18 or so more models to finish this project, but it may be a while yet, as they've slipped down the schedule somewhat.

I'll try to get to them before the end of the year!


Monday, October 07, 2019

Levelling up - Wet Palette



So the improvement in all things painterly continues.  One thing I'd stuck to for years and years was using a simple plastic tray palette for working with acrylics.  And it simply wasn't going to do anymore.  Wet palettes are something you will soon learn about on painting sites or youtube, but for the uninitiated, it is mixing and keeping your acrylic paints on a permanently moist surface.  This extends working time of paints to as much as a couple of days, if sealed between uses, and certainly several hours where paint is exposed to air.  compare that to a few minutes for a normal blob of paint...

Now, a wet palette is a doddle to make:

My palette in use
To make this one, I picked up a metal hinged pencil box from a craft store; it of course came with a dozen pencils in it, which I added to my traditional arts supplies; you can probably find empty ones in some stores too, but at under a fiver I took the free pencils into the bargain.  Inside it I placed two thin sponge washcloths, the sort made of a dense foam rather than a open sponge, these are dampened down with water, and it is best to keep these topped up but not so wet water sloshes out of them.  Finally you need a barrier layer of paper to hold the paint, and for this cut a section of either tracing paper or baking parchment to fit.  I began with tracing paper, but baking paper/parchment has since proved to be far superior.

Then simply apply paint to that surface, and wonder at how long it lasts, and how easy it is to get all Bob Ross on those shades and go blending crazy.

You'll notice above that I still have the tray palette out.  There are three reasons for this; firstly, it is good to have additional clean water to hand for thinning paints on the palette.  Secondly, metallic paints are not advised to go on a wet palette, as the mica flecks that give the sparkle will pass through the paper and into the foam, from where they will soak back in to other colours thereafter.  Lastly, large mixes of paint, such as undercoats and basing tones will still need a larger space to be mixed, and would flood the palette.

While we are about it, as you may notice, there is a GW paint handle in the image above.  And I have to say, what a great little tool it is.  Sure, bits of dowel, or old paint pots do a similar job, but it is a really nice ergonomic fit, and allows for a really secure hold.  I got one for a treat, and am glad I shoved a rare £6 GW's way.

Anyhow, the first model I painted with the new set up was this Cyclops, I'm really pleased with the ease this came together, and the wet palette allowed for the job to be much quicker too.

This chap got a glaze over a basic dark flesh tone, followed by a reapplication from the palette, and two simple highlights.  All the other details are simple blending and layering.  I think it looks pretty grand, certainly a bit Wargames Standard, but not bad.

If you don't use a Wet Palette, and paint in acrylics, you really should.


Sunday, October 06, 2019

Warbases Pigsty...


Just picked up to tip an order of bases over the free postage level, this Pigsty was a breeze to assemble and paint. 

The simplicity of the design worked with the laser-cut MDF and I felt no urge to make any changes to it.  Along with some other upcoming pieces this expands my medieval/fantasy village.


Friday, September 27, 2019

By Dawn's Misty Light - May 1720...


Ungray Pliskie, until recently farmland long occupied by Clementian citizens, now found itself in the hands of new Gebrovian masters.  Disproportionate responses to minor transgressions in the past year had led to the occupation of some 20 square miles of Clementian territory.

The region of Ungray Pliskie

Of course the very name of the territory itself suggests old affiliations to Gebrovia, and in high offices, the great and the good approved of the occupation in the Gebrovian capital, despite the action officially having no national sanction.  The perceived weakness of the Clementians was seen as making the taking of the rich lands as a fate d'accomplis;  this was not, as it transpired, a shared opinion for the injured party.

Initial dispositions.  The Gebrovians at this time unaware of the threat
Clementia amassed a battalion of men on the highway to Pliskie, arriving in the pre-dawn light in force.  The Gebrovians had similar numbers dispersed around a major crossroads, and billeted for the night with only small piquets deployed for security.

The Clementians brought forth a significant infantry force, steeling throgh the meadows in the dark.

Whilst their foe, maintained a dozy watch.

Suddenly the gloaming erupted into fire and fury, whilst Clementian Jaegers stole through the woodlands south of the crossroads, a Gebrovian camp was alerted to two companies of infantry advancing on its position.  Fire was given by both sides, stuttering with confusion from the guns of Gebrovia; never renowned for their accuracy or fire discipline.

Lt Izgnatia Plostnoy, fresh from his latest visit to a Gebrovian field hospital, and drunk from a night of fine brandy, rallied his horse to face the enemy, and charged into the rising sun.  Proving easy prey for the prepared Clementians and soon limping away from the battlefield with yet another flesh wound.
All seemed confusion in the Gebrovian line, but at this stage salvation arrived in the form of patrols fortuitously arriving behind and to the flanks of the enemy.

A section of the rightly feared Uscary Jaegers appeared on the Clementian flank, and stole upon their quarry.

Meanwhile, the Gebrovian centre formed rank and file and began to hold.

On the other flank, a company of infantry threatened the Clementine rear, forcing two companies to divert from the main attack to protect their artillery.  In a bloody melee the Clementians were thrown back.
But only for so long.  Yet by this stage the attack of the orange clad soldiers had lost its impetus

Everywhere the Gebrovians formed line and gave spirited defence. Whilst the Clementines melted away as the sun rose.
Although some clementine cavalry did seek to raid the Gebrovian camps, it was now little more than harassment.
And it was the Uscary Jaegers who had the final say, driving their hated foes from the woods at threat of bayonet point.
Be off with you!
Despite their unpreparedness, and some notable failings, the grit of Gebrovian infantry proved itself once more.  As accurate as enemy fire may be, the Gebrovians remained more willing to close range and engage the enemy in a bloody tussle for which the latter would seldom commit heart and soul to.

Thus emboldened, Gebrovia felt the divine right was with them, and made formal claim to the lands taken.  It was a small gain overall, scarcely a 10 mile front, but one that would sit as a thorn in the side of Clementia in days to come.

It would also stir national confidence to levels of hubris in Gebrovia; letters of marque being issued for a fleet of privateer vessels to sail under the Gebrovian flag.  Their aim being to raid Clementian commerce, and costal villages.  To sail round the cape would take some time, but the next move had been put in motion.

Being the third engament of our Imagi-Nations campaign, and a third straight victory for Gebrovia.  Thus cementing control of  Ungray Pliskie.  The rules once again were Rebels and Patriots.  As you presumably infer the next battle will be at sea.  This game actually ran several months ago, but I have been really off the boil so far as writing material up.  The next game has already been play though, so hopefully I can get back on top of it...


Monday, August 19, 2019

Painting Survey: results and why your answer is correct.


Lets get into the results then of the question I spammed out a while ago:

So a decent response, statistically viable I think.  Whilst some people quibbled the question, or felt they couldn't classify their personal approach within the range of options, the results are fairly clear.

As wargamers we generally try to paint our models, but the standard aspired to sits somewhat in the upper-middle level. 

Marginally most popular is what I called Army Painter; which could also be termed the Dip Technique back in the day.

Which has the advantage of producing decent results very easily, especially for massed troops, and the disadvantage of looking a little grubby, and being considered cheating by stuck-up snobs.

Next most popular is what I termed three-layer, and could easily be called 'I want my models to look like the ones in Wargames Illustrated'.

Now I personally am not a fan of this look, but when done well it can be properly impressive.  Like I say, this for Historical gamers tends to be the aspirational standard.

Quite a way behind are the extremes of presentation; GW style being a strong third, and within this I include the higher painting quality advocated by many fantasy gaming systems.

Then there were the people honest enough to admit they paint in this realm of 'quality'.

Okay so that one is not, great; admittedly.  But at least it is done.  Better than nothing.

Very few said competition standard, and slightly more don't bother to paint at all.

Here is the thing.  You don't have to paint at all.  It is a choice, but most of us do, and some will not seek opponents who never make an effort to at least try.  But we are always learning and it is better to try than not to bother.  Painting isn't easy, but it is a skill that can be learned.  Great painters are artists, but you do not need an artistic bone in your body to learn the craft of figure painting.

And aesthetically, even a badly painted force, is more of a courtesy to your opponent and looks better on the table than an unpainted force.

And your standard of painting, whatever it is, is fine.  You are good enough, and no one can criticise you for your efforts.  Improve for yourself if you wish to, but don't feel you must.

Even the best are still learning, and we all think its a chore sometimes.

But the results are worth it.


Saturday, August 17, 2019

More Bodurians: Okhrana Grenadery Oborotni


The height of British summer....

Seems like the perfect time to paint some more winter themed models for my Bodurian army.  So here is a new company from an elite regiment; numbers are small, but each 'man' in the rank and file is a gigantic, nine-foot tall werewolf, so it isn't a problem!

Okhrana Grenadery Oborotni 
These are Tehnolog miniatures, from Russia.  54mm scaled werewolf models easily repurposed as gigantic assault troops.  They are accompanied by a couple of command figures to bring them up to a useful 6 figure group, and to provide some theme.

Company priest 
Boduria is a highly religious nation, and so most units contain a priest at a Company level.  This miniature is one of a set of Perry crusader wars monks I bought some years ago, who have popped up in many guises since.  I was quite pleased with the portraiture on the shield, not because it is high quality as such, but more as it captures the look of Russian religious icons well.
Company Ensign
This model being a simple rework of a spare Victrix French figure in a pile of bits.  As before, the flags were designed in MS Paint, and then batch printed.

I think these will run as some form of Elite infantry, or Heavy Offensive infantry in Dragon Rampant.  A fun and simple unit to paint, as the army paint style is simple flat colours and a shaded varnish.  I used real wolves as reference for the Werewolf fur patterns, and did admittedly add a little highlighting to avoid too much flat surface.

A nice little diversion.


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Bunny cavalry and foot troops!


More troops for the Rabbit army of War-tership Down are ready.  This time a unit of mounted troops, and some humble footsoldiers:

I have to say, I absolutely love these mounted models, but the rabbit knight on the snail is possibly one of my favourite paint jobs in years!  I was so pleased with how the snail came out!

The infantry will serve as light troops for Dragon Rampant, whilst the mounted represent a reduced model unit of - probably - light riders.

These are great fun and pretty easy to paint.  Next up for this lot is some artillery, 'leaders' and a war engine.

Stay tuned...


Sunday, August 11, 2019

Improving my painting - Vehicles


Part of my present effort to improve my painting relates to my dissatisfaction with my old standard for vehicles and 'armour'.  Whilst I used to perfectly happy with it, I had long ago gathered (and then left unused) a collection of pigments and glazes for weathering, that at least subconsciously suggested to me I could do better.  I mean I don't think there was anything wrong with my output for a wargames table, but it no longer satisfied me from a modelling standpoint:

I guess this selection of German and Russian equipment (all subsequently sold BTW) bugged me as it looked so flat, and the simple expedient dry-brush dust was so limiting, anything other than summer dust and dirt is hard to do well with it.  Compare to the recent road-war repaints I've done, which experimented with a few more techniques:

Okay, still some way to go, but there is an effort to use chipping, oil streaks, powders and better dry-brushing effects.

Also in the category of largely unused, was a copy of the following:

By model artist (no better term really) Mig Jimenez.  Now the main issue with this for me is it is all hugely airbrush reliant* but there is an awful lot to be learnt about false contrast, shading, and weathering from a book like this.  And of course, there is no end of expertise on the net; with YouTube heaving with excellent painters of all kinds, Plasmo being one of my favourites:

Anyway, all this being said, I've had a pile of German equipment to represent the Cherbourg campaign 1944 lying around for a very long time now, roughly since I sold my last German force on.  And after months of Napoleonic, fantasy Napoleonics, and 18th Century uniforms I was feeling motivated to begin a new project; and upping my game so far as painting seemed like an additional challenge to make the thought of painting my umpteenth WW2 Germans more enticing.

It was time to engage Try-Hard mode.

I would begin with, well, not the best models.  Perhaps a pragmatic choice to warm up on something it would be hard to polish to finely to begin with, and give yourself a bit of latitude.  Plus they rather irked me.
These are from the Britannia Miniatures, Grubby Tanks range.  And Grubby is the word.  Bought some years ago, when I couldn't find the historical model I wanted available affordably (the Sd.Kfz.135 "Marder" I Lorraine is pretty much the Unicorn of German armour in 1/72 scale) these were very much the next best compromise.  But the mould quality was pretty atrocious, I'm not gonna lie.  As you can see I filled a bunch of holes and voids in the very old formulation resin, and there was no end of cleaning up to do to.  Even so I gave up on some details I could probably have fixed easily enough.  Impatience.  I did fit a crew for each gun out of spares lying around and some crew supplied with the models.  On reflection, I should have added these after I'd painted both separately.  Impatience again.

The painting here, is progression from previous efforts, but only by so much, the main difference being in the base coat, having a far inflated level of highlighting.  This is variously referred to as Colour Modulation, False Contrast or Highlighting; but in this case it's still a bit weak.  One thing I do that makes some difference is highlighting the brown and green separately.

A  common GW/Fantasy company approach to vehicles is edge highlighting, but for military modelers such an exaggerated effect has no place!

Once the base coats and tracks were done, I experimented with a panel line wash.  More on this later, when I got it much better, then on to the transfers.  I always keep transfer sets as they always  provide plenty of spares.  But you can buy them online so easily these days.

After this I tried out my Vallejo Weathering products.  Oil stains applied to the transmission and other spots needing some dirt build up.  I then tried the water staining product, but made two clear mistakes with it.  Too thick a brush, and using it as vertical staining rather than horizontal pooling.

Still it's all learning.

Next up some MIG pigments, another set I bought years ago.  My experience to date with these had been opening a couple of the packs, but some tutorials gave me an indication of some uses.  I began by mixing a splotchy paste with some matt varnish to make mud for the tracks and lower hull; then following this up by dusting a lighter shade straight from the pot over most of the model.  This can be fixed afterwards, but a blast of varnish really helps, so long as its dusted on from a good distance.

The final addition at this stage was some light dry-brushing, a glaze on the crew, and some foliage.  Then the basing was done, and these were for all intents finished.

PanzerJager Abteilung 709.

Foam foliage
Whilst I was pleased with these I still felt I could do better.  The highlights needed work, the panel lines were indistinct, partly due to the models themselves, the rain marks were used wrongly....

So I jumped in to some other models I had to hand, and went, well, a bit further.

Panzer Abteilung 203.
 More French tanks in German service around Cherbourg and the Carentan Peninsular.  These featured further, and better attention to the little details.

Char 2bis Flamme 
This represents a German modification of the Char 2bis to a flamethrower tank.  The 75mm was replaced with a flamethrower, and a larger fuel tank was added at the rear of the vehicle.  This was my first conversion (with the explicit intent of representing a real vehicle) in years.

The panel wash is a better formulation here, being 1 part black paint, 1 part glaze, 1 part water, and the tiniest touch of dish soap; which further breaks the surface tension.  It is applied carefully to all the recesses, through which it runs naturally.

The chipping was applied with a shred of sponge, and then some were highlighted in silver.  This is a quick method and added greatly to the overall look.

 The camouflage, is still disappointing to my eye, as it should be more subtly applied.  But that requires a spray gun....  The crewman here is an anciant ESCI tank commander I must've had for near on 40 years!
Somua S35 
This is an old Heller kit, and lacks the quality of the Trumpeter and S&S kits above, but it is still pretty good for its age.

Here the dirt build up with powders, and the staining with oils and watermarks is far better.  The key is for all the techniques to build up to give an overall sense of lived in reality.  It exaggerates real damage and wear, but the result provides the illusion of depth and heft, of a real vehicle.  Compare to my Panzer IV at the top of this now incredibly long post!

These have certainly taken a lot longer than my old standard, but the finished effect is deeply satisfying, and the progression across just two batches of models is really pleasing.  There's lots more to add too.  And as time permits, they and thoughts on other techniques will appear here as well....


*and more on that, another time...