Monday, July 9, 2012

Airbursh madness

Not really madness, but I finally got a new compressor and apropos of that though I would write a little something about the compressors and airbrushes I use.

Is started out with a suction feed, external mix brush (I'm not sure who by) and a mini compressor when I was fifteen (give or take). With fine, medium and coarse nozzles this a great place to start. These guys are mechanically simple, so easy to clean, and, while a but rough, give good coverage. The coarse end is also good for fuzzy edges on camo.

After a long hiatus I was putting together some tanks and decided it was time to get a bit fancier. I went out and bought an Aztek airbursh and a generic brand 2HP 24L compressor. This guy is big and noisy and puts out 120psi. Great for taking apart motorbikes and inflating tyres, and produces a nice steady stream of air. I added a moisture trap - definitely worth it as the regulator didn't have one.

The big yin

The Aztek was a bit of jump, being an internal mix double action. The Aztek is a very nice airbrush to use. It has an unusual design - the tip comes off as a whole allowing you to quickly change needles for different sized spray. I stumped up for a metal bodied version, though it shares the same of the same internals with its plastic bodied cousins.

Delta (top), Aztek and tip (bottom)

It terms of ease of use, it's not much harder than the external mix, once you get used to having to balance the airpressure and paint feed. The spray patterns are tight and you can buy a wide varient of tips. There is a down side to this though - it's a bugger to keep clean. The two factors that affect this are the single piece tip and the side feed for the paint cup. The single piece tip isn't really designed to be taken apart too much - recommendations are to soak the whole thing in solvent. A few of mine still stick when fully closed. The side feed is great as you can use it a a gravity feed cup, or a suction feed bottle, but is prone to clogging as it's a little convoluted.

More recently I've move and had a child, so the noisy compressor has been banished to the garage. I bought a small 1/6HP Delta compressor with tank. This guy only produces 50-60psi, but since I need 15-25 it's all good. It's under 50dB, compared to up near 90dB for the big yin. It also came with a Delta double action gravity feed brush.

Much quieter

This isn't the greatest airbrush, but did come with small, medium and large tips. It's in the format of a more traditional, through bodied airbrush and doesn't have the air pressure control of the Aztek. This may not be such a bad thing as I'm not a great artist. It's mostly smooth, though needs to be clean to work well. It's not the most precision machined piece - most most cheap airburshes are in the same league. On the up side, it's designed to be pulled apart and cleaned. Given the sticking Aztek tips this makes me a happy boy.

Some extra stuff I have to make things easier:
  • Isoproply alchohol - great for cleaning and flushing
  • Cotton buds - for wiping things down and getting into small places
  • A thimble and toothpick - for mixing very small amounts of paint
  • Syringe and tubes - for sucking up paint, water and alchohol
  • Pie tin - for dumping excess paint and dirty odds and ends
  • Cleaning pot - for spraying through with water and solvent.
  • Latex gloves - one on the left hand so I can hold things without getting finger grease on the model or paint on me
  • Paper - for test spraying

The kit
The first test for getting back into airbrushing was zenithal highlighting on Skullmuncha. I'd tried just using a brush but wasn't happy with my ability to make sense of the shading over such a large area that was also wrinkly! The colour was built up with black/orkhide shade, then orkhide shade/gnarloc green, then gnarloc green and finally two goblin green/bleached bone layers, with more bleached bone in the second. The early layers were with the Aztek, and the top coats with the Delta. He now needs a lot of brush work to get the texture right, but the distance I need to go with it is much less.

Skullmuncha, front and back
Over all I'm happy with how this turned out. I think I'll probably stick with the Delta since I can see that it's clean. I may want something a little better quality down the track, but I think I'll get another through-needle design rather than going back to the Aztek. Though I find it more comfortable (especially the air hose connecting at the back), the difficulty cleaning is a big negative for me. If you're meticulous (and probably more patient) this is an excellent brush. Getting a small compressor with a tank is definitely a win. Much quieter than the big one, and much more stable air than without a tank.

Melspray Equipement have some nice pictures of internal and external mix.
Don's Airbrush Tips  has excellent reviews, techniques and tear-downs.
Les at Awesome Paint Job has a good short airbush care tutorial.

Monday, June 25, 2012

DIY Paint Rack

Between work, moving and a leaking roof I've been decidely unmotivated to paint anything lately. I started to paint Azhag's wyvern Skullmuncha, then realised that he was so nobbly that I really needed my air brush.Which I didn't have. I also need a new air compressor since I had been using a big 120 PSI 2 HP 24L jobbie and with a new small person in the house that level of noise just wouldn't cut it. I've got the airbrush, but I'm still need the compressor. I've also played about with some test colour for some Kasrkin, but my mojo wasn't working.

Not so good for painting
So I decided some quick hobby projects were on order. The first was really simple: the wallpaper in our sunroom/studio is mightly awfull, so I decided it needed covering. Since we're renting it has to be completely removable. Inspired by Asian bamboo scaffolding, I came up with a super cheap screen.

Paper screen, with some new lamps
It's 10 baboo stakes lashed together with florists/gardeners wire and butchers paper of the top. the bamboo means it's super wonky and the paper is only held on with tape, but if it lasts out the year I'll be happy. It also reduces the fear of air bushing in here since I don't really care if it gets painted.

Bamboo latice
That was a quick and dirty job, but the titular paint rack required a bit more work. I first worked up a design in CAD. I needed it to fit GW and Valejo paints, plus MIG powders and an assortment of inks and oils.

6mm MDF, the gentlemans MDF, with initial markings
In the end I did two designs, one with a wide bottom shelf, and a second with a drawer for oil tubes. The design was in 3mm MDF and the aim was to be simple enough to cut with light power saws with simple straight lines (no CNC here!), to be easy to assemble, sturdy and fit on my bookcase. And not be too ugly.

A not so gentlemanly saw, not the best for straight lines
I first chopped out the sides. I used the corners since then the base would be square. The two corners were taped together back-to-back to allow me to mirror the cut-outs. The first cutting was done using cheap borrowed jig saw. I then hit it with a scroll saw to do the detail. Unfortunately the scroll was also cheap and had a 2mm wander in the blade so the lines weren't quite straight. At this point I thought, stuff it, it's not like I'm a carpenter and I can always make more later.

Then I started on the shelves. And broke the scroll saw blade. It was the last one. Given it was late in the day my options were give up for now, or to say stuff it once more and just use the jig saw. I said stuff it. Using all my powers of bodgery I cut out 13 nearly squared shelf pieces.

Completed, rough but sturdy
Fortunately the design was simple enought at after some judicious chopping and a fair shake of jamming things together and bunch of PVA it came together. And everything fit.

Fits MIG powder pots and larger ink pots
And it fit in my bookcase.

Fits nicely in the shelf, with room for another
All in all I'm fairly pleased with how this turned out. Given my lack of practice and lack of tools the shelf sits flat and is stable and feels sturdy. there is, of course, the question as to wether I pony up and buy some decent tools (a band saw would be good :-), or just keep it ghetto. Not sure yet - might see how I feel next weekend.

I've also put the plans I used here under a copy left licence so they are free to use for non commercial use.  Although I didn't use their work, I was inspired by them, so I feel I should give a shout to who sell paint racks. They are much more polished that mine, but won't fit large bottles or jars. Also a shout out to Roman at Massive Voodoo for getting wrong before me and making sure I put a lip on the front of my shelves.

Deconstruction with missing left side - note the back brace
Parts plan with parts counts

Creative Commons LicenceDIY Paint Rack by James Gorman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Monday, June 4, 2012

New desk, new models

So, a little late again. It's remarkable how much time it takes to unpack things. It doesn't help I'm prone to reorganising things. But! I now have somethings like a workspace set up. It's not completely done yet but it's pretty close.

Workspace, getting set up.

Sadly we're renting so the wallpaper stays. I'm thinking to make some cheap screens with bamboo trellis and butchers paper to reduce the amount of green. On a brighter note, where I'm standing taking the photo is five or six metres of north facing window so plently of daylight when it's not winter. It'll be too hot to keep minis in during summer, so there's a big shelf in the next room for finished and WIP things, and piles of room in the garage for boxes and stuff.

There are a few things that need doing - definately need some sort of paint holding setup - I'm thinking to make something that will hold four rows of paints that I can fit in the shelf where paints are currently just jammed in. This should keep them off the desk and hopefully I can maintain some semblence of order. Hopefully.

I also got the Sevrin Loth Forge World kit for my birthday. Not that I really need new minis, but he is nice. I don't play Red Scorpions, so there'll be a bit of conversion work.

Sevrin Loth de Milo
Fortunately most of the kit doesn't come with a lot of chapter markings. It's based on the command squad kit, so will also be good for bits.

The full kit.
There's a decent banner that's not too scorpion-y, so it'll stay.
Company or chapter banner? Not sure yet.

The scorpion heads will need a bit of work, but they are a good set. The scorpion tail will probably become a crest.

Scorpion heads - a bti of work here

The style fits nice with my current force commander (of as yet unknown rank) so they can become his honour guard. Perhaps a chpatermaster since everone else is pretty down to earth.

The force commander is a Masters of the Chapter guy
with a fancy helmet and backpack.

The torsos continue the theme nicely. They are nicely detailed.

The whole kit came out really well (always nice give FW can be hit and miss). Apart from a few bubbles, the only problem was one of the axes needs the blade filling in which will be a whole lot of no fun.

The left axe will need a little filling in on the blade.

Given that's my only complain I reckon I can be pretty happy. It'll be fun putting these guys together. The parts will also be able to be spread nicely around the army, which is a bonus.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Imperial Armour - Model Masterclass Volume Two [Review]

OK, I'm a bit late, but I'm still sorting out out things after moving. I've only just started getting the hobby room together, so I haven't done any modelling or painting, but it was just my birthday and my lovely girlfriend bought me the new IA Model Masterclass.

For those not in the know, Forge World released a book of advanced paiting and modelling techniques back in 2008. The Forge World painting style is quite strongly informed by miltary and historical painting techniques. This is very interesting to me, since in the late 90s I did a fair bit of historicals stuff.

Model Masterclass Volume Two is very much a follow on from Volume One, containing few new techniques but more examples of their use, and some nice twists on techniques. I'll not really look at Volume One here, except as a point of comparison.

These are actually rectangular. I'm just using
a flash since the tripod is packed away.

The Book

The book is printed on the same high quality stock of all Forge World books. At 143 pages it is longer than the first, having about the same mix of long and short articles. The copy editing is generally good, though with a glaring mistakes in page references (page 10 referred to as 67) and some confusing jumps in the picture titling composition (a section talking about weathering tracks and hatches, where the framing gradually shift from the both hatch and track to just the hatch; another talking about washing tracks, with a picture of a washed gun mount hub), and the text reads well. For Forge World (and Games Workshop), the editing is well above par.

The framing on this triptych is odd in that is moves from the hatch
to the track, but the narrative doesn't really follow it.

This is not a track, however much they try
and convince me otherwise.

The picture quality of Volume Two is better than Volume One. In the original there were quite a few shots with white balance and other colour issues, whereas in Volume Two, while there, they are not as critical. While not so important in most books, when you are talking about building up colour with Commando Khaki followed by Skull White, it helps if two near identically painted pieces always appear identical. If not then it is a little confidence shaking - how accurate are the rest of the pictures? At least being close seems like it should be important in a painting book.

From Volume One - the circled parts are the same,
and should be the same colour.

Volume Two also contains the opening tools and paints section from Volume One as an appendix. The picture has been updated with their new work bench, so It's intersting to see how it's changed in four years (the answer is not much - they do have a new air compressor!).

The Models

Like Volume One, the focus is on Imperial Armour (no real surprise here!), but has more non-imperial stuff. There are several short articles on Eldar and Chaos Daemons, and some good long pieces on the Great Brass Scorpion and the Choas Reaver Titan. A good range of subjects are presented,

The terrain and diorama articles are a good mix of display boards and battle boards. They present a good range of scenery, and the last one is an Ork camp, which was very nice to see (and looks painful in its complexity).

By and large, the pictures are well framed so you can really see what's going on.

Wonderful looking and some interesting techniques

The Masterclass

As has already been mentioned, Volume Two is a follow on from Volume One. The lessons are written clearly and concisely and are mostly well illustrated. There are a few instances where the steps taken or tools or paints used become a little unclear, but these a such a small handful and a second reading will remove confusion.

The most detail in either book is in the first sections of Volume One. Volume Two largely continues on from the latter part of Volume One, with less detail and more examples. That isn't to say there aren't a bunch of new techniques. They have assimilated many of the popular techniques of the last few years, and add a few new spins to things like layering (for instance using the less popular Tamiya paints - at least in fantasy modelling circles - for their reds and clears), and new tricks with oils.

It is a masterclass, so it does assume some knowledge and skill in painting. I'd heard this complaint after Volume One came out: "I just doesn't tell me enough." And if you are expecting a from the beginning guide to painting, you still won't get it in Volume Two. As in most fields, this suits those willing to ask questions of themselves and what they want from painting (my other hobby is audio, and I've seen the same problem in masterclasses there - you need to push and ask questions, and have learnt how to learn to really get anything out of it).

Another useful thing it does is reinforce flexibility. The same techniques are used over and over, but but with subtle differences and alternate combinations. Sepia wash, brown ink and gloss varnish can be used to make oil stains. Replace brown with black for dark, greasy stains. Add powders for grease. Just the brown ink and varnish can be spilled oil by adding some water.

My general feeling is that the techniques in Volume Two are slightly more accessible - they rely less on oils and powders (except for basic powder sippling), more on airbrushing and washing. I don't think this is a bad thing as (especially) oils can be quite intimidating.

Another good note is they don't suffer from marketting pressures - while GW products are prefered when offering very simillar things (especially acrylics and weathering powders), they aren't affraid to use other products when needed.

The Breakdown

It might look a bit like I'm picking faults with the book, but I think how much the very few problems stick out is indicative of the quality. Overall, a good read, and well worth it for me. It's especially worthwhile if you prefer gritty style painting. On its own, I'm not sure it would hang together that well unless you are really prepared to go out and make mistakes with new techniques. When taken with Volume One, I think the whole pacakge is greater than the sum of its parts, and that's where the best value lies.

Those who will benefit most are experienced painters who want more, and inexperience painters looking for a style of their own. But if you just like the pictures, this is also a good book with plenty of eye candy. I, for one, am looking forward to trying a few of these techniques.

You can also check out a review by Karitas over at Excommunicate Traitoris here.

Other Books

'Eavy Metal Masterclass

I thought it would be good to drop this one in, since it's a more basic masterclass. It still lacks the very basic stuff from the How to Paint Citadel Miniatures guide (the newest version of which is actually very good!), but has an excellent selection of step by steps. I found this most useful for helping me get back my sense of colour choice.

The 1989 edition.

Citadel Miniature Painting Guide (1989/92)

The first painting guide I ever had. This is still an excellent painting primer. The styles may be a little dated but the presentation is excellent and it has a certain joie de vivre lacking in more recent publications. It also makes you realise that fine model detail isn't always needed to make a great painted mini. Having seen both (and owning the 1992 one), the later (blue) one is slightly better and has good show case of models from the time.

The Model Makers Handbook - Albert Jackson and David Day (1981)

The second modelling book I ever owned. This was my dad's and all sorts of modelling. There are great sections on reposing, battle damage, dioramas, and all sorts of other things. It had some great techniques like using an buff enamal wash to simulate dust and how to scratch build plants.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Warning - Mines

Still unpacking after last weeks move and without computer, so I'm trying an update from my tablet. A little hard to get good photos, but here are some of the mine field I put together a while back. I wanted something multipurpose, and with a bit of whimsy. I though there ought to be a good explanation as to why people are blundering about into minefields, so long grass and a broken sign seemed in order.

These were made first as a single 10"x6", then split. This was to allow it to be used as a single minefield for planet strike (some one correct me if it's some other supplement that used the 10"x6" minefield), or as loose dangerous terrain.

The pieces were cut from MDF. The crater was made from spare milliputt, formed in a simple ring. The mines, skulls, sign and other bits were all glued straight to the MDF. The whole lot was covered with plaster and medium sand to add shape and texture.

The base was painted using watered down poster paints and a touch of detergent to help it flow, which was then drybrushed with bleached bone. The same scheme and weathering as the bombs was used for all the detail.

The whole lot was covered with long grass from Woodland Scenics. This stuck well, except for a small bald patch in the middle of the crater.

All in all, I'm happy with how these turned out. They look better in person, so I'll try and get some better photos when I'm set up for it. The only downside is the grass is quite springy, so there's a risk it would really be dangerous terrain for any top-heavy minis.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


It's going to be a busy few weeks ahead for me. We just signed a lease for a new place. this means much more space, but also means moving. So:

There's more stuff hidden at the back
I've put up some bomb markers (from the 40K resin bomb set) that I painted a couple of years ago. These are quick photos so I haven't worked out the focus on all the shots, but you should get the idea.

These are all painted in acrylic, with oil washes and powders for weathering. I also used latex on the signs for chipping, and oil-powder mix for the rust. Acrylics by GW, oils by Daler Rowney and powders by MIG.

They're sealed in with Humbro Matt Cote from an airbrush to make them table ready. Mid layer varnishing was a mix of GW and Long Life floor polish (the latter through the airbrush).

Basing is GW sand and Scorched Grass. The tall grass is by Noch.

The snow is baking powder, I didn't like (looks great, but is too fragile - would work best, as with the GW, for making slush), covered with Noch Powder for the deep drifts. I've tried GW static snow on some other models (who will no doubt apear soon enough), and I didn't like it - too shiny and you can see the fibres.

Out of time this week, but if anyone want more info, ask away in the comments box.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Azhag with a flag

So, a major milestone reached - I've actually made a second post, and on time. I finished Azhag's flag today, so now only (only!) have Skullmuncha and the base to do.

Azhag's flag, on a pin vice for painting.

I'd originally pinned it through the base of the flag. This was a mistake - the resin will slowly, but inexorably, bend in heat above 25°C. Since this would also happen once the flag was mounted, I decided to pin it in the middle. The pin came out three times during painting since it's a very shallow hole and a very big flag.

It was painted in acrylic (mostly Citadel and some Vallejo). I used the new GW Mephiston Red on the sun face - this is the best red I've used for a deep, rich red. The material of the flag is based around GW Kommando Kahki, but had the texture buit up after the acrylic was done using oils. Raw sienna for the body, burnt sienna for the light shadows and burnt umber for the deep shadows. This added a slightly richer texture than just acrylics. The metals are loosly based on the Massive Voodoo true metalic metals tutorial, but with only a vague light source.  Everything else is pretty standard techniques, with patience making up for skill.

Azhag - front

Azhag - left

Azhag - rear

Azhag - right
In these you can see the bend in flag pole didn't straighten out when mounted. It's not ideal, but It'll have to do. I'm call this 99% done. The only part I'm really not sure about are the claws on the dessicated wyvern wing (the ones up the top). Since they're shaped more like dog or cat claws, I've painted them with the inside liek a dogs claw. They're a little clean, and I may make them more like horns.

The pin stopping the flag from sagging.
The background I used is from Massive Voodoo. Corvus' Miniatures has another good set. Photo's were done with overhead room lighting and a spot from a cheap halogen. No space for a lightbox or more lights yet (apologies for the obvious shadows!), but I'm moving soon so hopefully I can rig on up.

Now on to Skullmuncha!