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...

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Some terrain oddments


Following a tip from Nords Saga, I picked up a roll of artificial grass from a national budget supermarket know for its' eccentric central aisle of seasonal products, 2m x 1m of essentially a dense green carpet was mine for about £8/$10.

In the raw.
Not wanting to spend quite the same amount of time on it, but wanting something quick and hard wearing, I just hit it with some green aerosol paint.  In fact this is only a 1m x 60cm section, intended for 15mm games of Rebels and Patriots:

Lighten up dude.
I think it came out pretty well, and I shall have to get around to doing the remaining larger section in a similar way.

I also received a delivery from China, that took fully 7 months to arrive.  A batch of 15mm scaled trees:

Add caption
I did these in the same way as my 28mm ready-made trees; dipping the entire model in diluted PVA glue to seal it.  Nice that they finally arrived then.  I can' be surprised though, at £4 from China I'm surprised the packet could afford to get here by any other means than hitchhiking.


Monday, August 05, 2019

On painting Set-ups


So first things first, I have been bingeing on online paint tutorials of late.  This is not because I consider myself a beginner painter.  But I am a learner still, and if you stop learning, you can't improve!  There are always things to pick up; but this is for another subsequent post, this is more about the aspirational luxury of hobby set ups.

Wander around the internet long on the subject of miniature painting, and you'll come across no end of vast arrangements, usually pristinely set up for the painting of apparently one or two models at a time:

Just some typical desks from the interwebs...
Those rare arrangements to pop up in books and magazines are not so different.  There are elements that seem ever present:  permanent work space, no end of handy shelves or tool boxes, bright lighting, and of course, hundreds of paints.

It may in fact seem rather intimidating.  What if your partner doesn't accede to the spare bedroom becoming a subsidiary of the local craft store?  What if you live in a rented chicken coop with barely room to swing a cat?  What if your funds won't stretch to owning the entire range of [insert name here] paints?

I have at various stages in my involvement in the hobby, ticked off all of the above, and still do; the last time I had a hobby desk was 12 years ago, and, well.  It looked like this:

GAAAH! My eyes!!
Oh sure I'd love the space for a set up like the ones in the first picture, that much space and equipment is theoretically great.  But what I'd contend is; you don't need it.  (I'm sure a few of my readers relate more to my old desk up there, than any of the ones' above.)

I am no master painter, hence the still learning consideration.  But I think I can do alright when I pull out the stops, I've painted the odd model I'd say was pretty damn good, and moreover, I've never fielded unpainted troops, as a point of honour if nothing else.

I manage to do so with a palette of about 40 paints - including craft colours - a few inks and underused washes and a range of haphazardly gathered tools.

Imagine your author sat neath the paint tray 
Yes, I'm a sloucher, and that is a major difference if nothing else, I dont really get on with the desk and office chair set up.

All the basics

 The core of my set up lives in one box, and 90% of my painting and modelling can be done from the contents of this drawer.  Sure it is a bit untidy, but it is compact, note the sheer lack of paints.  I blend most everything so I only need a relatively small number of paints.  I am however a brush hoarder, as will become apparent.

The lap tray and palette 
Okay, so this is even more of a compromise, but it has worked well for me over the last five years, with the purple cloth serving to keep me clean, clean brushes and save on paper towels....
The rest of the paint corner

Everything else lives in an IKEA box that was designed to fit inside a Kallax shelf unit.  The paint tray going on the shelf above when out of use.  The middle drawer is spare paints - copies mainly of shades I use a lot, spare brushes I've accumulated, weathering washes and an extra large palette.  The top drawer is full of basing materials and weathering powders.

My painting setup is not ideal, absolutely, but I can make the most of it, and that is the real point.

Part of it is down to style, and not being a martyr to one proscribed way of working.  The reason I can get away with so few paints is that I learnt mixing and blending from the outset, refining simple dry-brushing into more complex styles as I learnt.  But again I diverge, the point being, that if you only know how to paint something by following somebody else's recipe you can end up with a large collection of equipment silo'ed to very niche jobs.  There's an undoubted ease to learning that way, but it can come with a long term penalty of becoming dependent on specifics for process.

Maybe the real point is that a relative beginner should not feel intimidated by the commitment some people put into producing top quality work.  That we all start somewhere.

But anyway, for me space has always been a premium, I don't like to waste it!  But moreover, as one of natures slouchers, and as someone stuck at a desk all day already, I don't respond well to sitting at another desk to paint of an evening again, the sofa offers me a far more conducive spot to curl up and put a couple of hours in.

As to techniques, well the more you learn about, the better for your modelling.  If you are fixed on one system, you'll miss out on the smart approaches of others.  Hence, a lot of painting tutorials, even if I end up thinking "I'll never use that".

But finally I write all this at a point where I really am in the process of changing my set up.  Presently painting more than playing, I have gone into a try-hard mode with my painting, and have begun trying a few new approaches.  More on which in coming weeks.  But none of them are really essential, and getting painted models to the table is simply a case on flat colours as a start, and anything else is a bonus.

But more on that shortly...