Friday Quick Tip: Cork Basing

After realgenius' great Advanced Basing article, I thought it was high time to start delving into different basing mediums myself! So I hit up the shops and found a few things I plan to try out. This time around, we're working with cork!

I've seen cork used many times around the web by a bunch of different people. Most notibly at the front of my mind is Lemmingspawn's lava based Iron Warriors. While Lemmy has taken the medium to a hieght I'm not going to go to here, you have to start somewhere folks!

I went to Hobby Lobby and snagged this little 4 pack of tiles for a modest $4.99. It's a wonderful amount of material for the price and would likely base an entire army with this single pack! There are larger tiles as well if you're really looking to go nuts on your projects.

To start us off you're going to need to open up the pack, get your base ready, and break up some of the cork into a few large and small chunks.

When choosing the chunks you want to use, try and pick out a few that set together well and add good variation. You don't want too much to hang over the edge of the base, but a little bit helps give it more of a scenic feel.

You may have noticed in the last step just how brittle the cork really is. I decided immediately that the base would need a wash of white glue to help keep the base from breaking away as it is handled. You'll need to let this dry completely before you move on with the base, this is where doing the whole army's basing at once helps!

To add a bit more detail, I've gone ahead with some fine sand to add a bit more texture and help ground the base a bit more in 'reality'. Use it sparingly on top of the cork, but try and fill out any areas on the base proper. Once this is dry, get to painting!

I've gone with an arid theme on this one, but you could easily go with a number of different theaters. To get this color I started with Bestial Brown, drybrushed with Snakebite Leather, drybrushed again with Bleached Bone, and final drybrush along edges and sand with 50/50 Bleached Bone/Skull White. You can see I've also added some static grass for effect.

Cork requires a little bit more time and effort, but nets great results. Give it a try and you might find the basing theme for your next project!

If you've used cork or a similar material, we'd love to see/hear about your results!


Why should you weather your tanks?

Because real tanks get dirty!

I know this video has been around for a while now, but I really think those of you out there trying to take your tanks to the next level really need to take a closer look. Watch the video on HD and full screen and you really get a sense of how dirty vehicles can get in just a single outing! Let alone a full campaign!

Different theaters have different effects on tanks and vehicles, and this is just one of a thousand examples out there, so always look for some sort of reference when you move forward with tank weathering! Soldiers are more than happy to take photos and post photos online of their babies in theater. Do a quick search on google and I'm sure you'll find what you're looking for.

We continue to press the weathering agenda through our various articles, and this really drives the point home. Expect more weathering articles and tips in the future, and those of you who have been at it be sure to share your latest endeavors!


Friday Quick Tip: Fixing and Smoothing a Pit

Today's Quick Tip is about fixing little problems on models you've already started painting or already painted. This week I had a small pit appear in the robe of a model I was working on. It must have been a bubble in the primer because it wasn't there when I inspected the metal. As I was laying down a base coat, it just appeared.

Normally if I find a pit before painting I'd break out the green stuff to fill, smooth and sand the pit away. But since I was well into painting this model I needed something less mechanical and less potentially damaging to the paint I already laid down.

After trying to cover it up with successive coats of paint I decided to place a drop of super glue into the pit. It worked like a charm. Before drying I smoothed the glue with my finger so there'd be no excess. Once dried, I smoothed the glue with a pencil eraser. The pencil eraser has just enough roughness to smooth paint without leaving sand marks or taking too much paint off. If you have a lump or mound of super glue, you might need a fine sandpaper to smooth it down.

A normal pencil eraser is also great for smoothing any drips or rough paint spots on your model when breaking out even the finest sand paper would be too rough.

Once everything was smooth and dry put down a quick thin layer of basecoat and that unsightly pit was gone for good.

The pencil eraser is a great tool for paint sanding. What other tools do you use to correct your "oops" moments?


Friday Quick Tip: Advanced Basing, Part I

Today's Quick Tip is about taking your basing to the next level by adding additional texture. While you can certainly buy some resin pre-decorated bases, there's nothing more rewarding than building your own base and having others ask where you bought it.

For me, basing is all about texture and layering and combining different textures to achieve a varied and natural effect. Variety is what makes life spicy (or something like that) and creating a variety of textures means you'll need a variety of materials. Here are a few of the textures from my basing drawer to give you some ideas.

Store bought textures:

Flock/turf: good for a base floor if you aren't using sand and great for adding moss (green flock) or dirt (brown flock) to smaller areas of a base.

Static Grass: everyone's favorite. Combine colors for a more natural appearance.

Chopped walnut shells: you can make these yourself or save time and buy from companies like Gale Force 9. These chopped shells have a great texture and when painted in a grey scheme look just like broken concrete.

Slate: large chunks of slate for boulders and finer chipped slate for rocks. Mixed with sand, the smaller slate adds good variety of texture.

Sand: sure, you can go grab some from the local playground, but you can also buy a big bag at your local Home Depot or Lowe's for less than three bucks. I personally prefer masonry sand because it has a finer texture, but still has some variety in size.

Wire: this is GW's barbed wire, but others make similar products. If you're like me you've got wire hanging around your tool box; if not, open up that electronic whatever next time your old clock radio breaks and scavenge all sorts of interesting bits.

Found textures:

Bark mulch: be picky with mulch and try to find chips like the above. They have a more realistic stone appearance than the shredded mulch I see in a lot of landscapes.

Seeds, seed pods: great natural elements to add as a final touch on most bases. I usually just hit them with a bit of GW wash and small light brown highlights, but different washes and highlights (Baal Red is stunning) will give you different color foliage.

Junk: this is the grab bag of extra bits you find or left over parts from battle damage that would normally end up in the vacuum. Keep a little plastic baggie around to save these scraps since you never know when you'll want to add a lopped off hand, broken bit or scrap of building to a scenic base.

Combining Elements:

Here's my basic basing mixture of masonry sand, small and large ballast (from a railroad shop), and fine slate chips. Applied with a layer of wood or white glue, this basic mix will give you a good varied texture in a short amount of time.

Here I've used the basic mix on a flying base and finished it off with some static grass. This is about as simple as I go on my bases since it doesn't really have a "wow" factor, but provides good results in a short time if you are working on the rank and file troops for an army.

For more advanced basing I usually start with a blob of epoxy putty so help give the base some shape and also adhere some of the larger pieces of slate or bits I've added. Any kind of epoxy putty works well-- use the cheap stuff because you are just using it as an adhesive. Once the putty is down I like to use a bit of slate or bark and press it into the soft putty to give it a layer of texture.

This 40mm base combines large pieces of slate, my basic mix and a few Marine bits. Less is more when it comes to basing. A whole Marine model would crowd the base and draw attention away from the actual model I'm putting on the base. A helmet, a weapon or a piece of a body are all that you need. I always try to put the cut-end of my bits at the edge of the base so that you can imagine the rest of the body is laying out of "view".

Here's a group of objective markers I've created by combining several basing materials. These started with plain sand and I added chopped walnut shells and fine slate to give them a "rubbly" appearance. There were finished off with a few bits from the Citadel basing kit, a few birch seeds as leaves and a little green flock for a color contrast.

The crate objective marker is a scrap of pink foam glued to a 40mm base and then carved to fit the crate and covered with some plain sand. The texture of the foam gives it a nice stone look while the sand on top softens the hard texture. A little gloss medium for mud and light snow was added to match the snow bases of my Black Templars army.

This is another slate base shaped to look like the bases found on some of the newer Eldar Exarchs and HQs. Because this model needed some extra height, I used putty to lift the whole surface up and pressed small slate flake into the putty sides for a rocky appearance. A small bit of a banner was added to the front and a little green static grass on the rear ties it into the rest of the army's bases.

Remember that less is more: you don't want the base to overpower or take attention away from your model. If your base is too bright, a wash of Badab Black or Devlin Mud does a good job of toning things down. Also be sure to not add too much in the way of bits. You don't want your model to look like he's walking through your bits box! Small bases are easily crowded so my rule for bits is one per 25mm base and two per 40mm base.

Remember that you don't need to go out and buy a bunch of basing materials. The content of your bits box, the debris under your modeling table and items you can find around the house and yard can give you impressive results. I hope you've found a few ideas to put into your next basing project.

What interesting found materials have you used on your scenic bases?


Perfecting Primer Follow-up: Using ColorPlace (Walmart) Primer

To test my theory that you can get good results from any primer, I picked up a can of the ColorPlace (Walmart brand) Primer last night. The advantage of this stuff is the fairly universal availability in the US and rock-bottom price. After tax, the 10 oz can cost me $1.12. Make sure you get Primer, not paint. Check the back of the can until you find one with "Primer" on the label since at my store all of the grey paint and primer were mixed together on the shelf.

The label says to spray at 12"-16" away but from my own experience that is just way too far when using short, quick strokes. I sprayed at about 6" on a pretty windy and humid morning and the results were good. ColorPlace primer was not as smooth as some of the more expensive primers, but this was only my first attempt. I am sure better results can be had with some more experimentation and better weather conditions but I am satisfied with the results already. The grey shade is about the same grey as Tamiya Fine Surface primer, which is a lighter grey than GW plastic.

The can also says to spray a second coat within 4 hours, so I'd let is dry at least that long before painting but the models were dry to the touch within 10 minutes.

There was a large selection of spray paint at my local Walmart but they were out of the white ColorPlace primer. I talked breifly to the "paint guy" working the area and he said they now only make grey and white primer; no black. Your mileage may vary at your local Walmart, but I know that a lot of people really won't use anything but black primer.

Here's a quick video of the technique I used.

Got a can of primer you haven't had any luck with? Lemme know and I'll try to find a way to make it work.


Friday Quick Tip: Perfecting Primer

This isn't the first Friday Quick Tip about primer and it probably won't be the last. There's been some discussion on primer in our local community and it inspired me to post a few tips on fixing problems you are having with spray primer.

First, make sure you are starting with a primer, not a spray paint. Paint is not primer and there are some hobby primers out there that are pretty inexpensive. No reason to use the wrong tool for the job.

Once you've got a proper primer, pretty much any spray primer can give you good results as long as you use it properly and in the right conditions. The expensive spray primers are a lot more forgiving than the cheap ones, but if you know how to use the particular brand (or don't mind diagnosing the problem and fixing your technique) then you can get good results with any hobby primer.

Before we start looking at some pictures, let's consider the anatomy of the spray can. The nozzle is connected to a tube that runs down to the bottom of the can. That's where the paint and solvent are located (with a little propellant mixed in) and the rest of the can is taken up by propellant. When you turn the can and spray upside down to clear the nozzle, you're blowing propellant out. A lot of times the propellant is also a solvent, so keep that in mind when working with the can sideways to reach into those tight areas.

When you shake the can you don't need to go nuts, since you're just mixing the solvent and paint that may have separated. If you shake too much you'll agitate more propellant into the solvent/paint mix and you'll get a sputtering nozzle when you spray, which usually means splatter and an uneven coat. I never shake any primer more than ten seconds, even the Armory primer that people tell me really needs to be shaken well. But be sure to shake a little as you go along, especially if you are spraying a large batch of models.

So now you're spraying your models and things are not coming out right. Here are a few common problems and how to fix them.

Oops, you didn't shake the can enough. With some primers this is really hard to do-- the model above was sprayed after not shaking the can at all, but some primers need a little more agitation. If you see shiny streaks on your first few models, but not the rest, then shake the can more. The tell tale signs of extra solvent in the mix are the shiny spots that look like they've been hit by an ink wash. You might also see some bubbling or blistering and an inconsistent coat. The paint and solvent isn't mixed enough and you're not getting a layer of primer that will stick well to the model. This problem often shows up if you are batch priming and have let the spray can sit too long between shaking.

Darn, too far away. Whenever you see this rough coat and feel a flaky, powdery texture you are holding the can too far away from the model. The problem is that different brands of spray paint like different distances. I've found that the Armory spray works best in close, probably 4"-6", and the Citadel spray likes to be a little but further away, maybe 8"-12". If you are seeing this nasty texture but spraying at your normal distance it could be a lack of humidity. If you switch brands of spray also be sure to do a few tests to make sure you are familiar with the ideal spray distance of the new brand. Either way, when you see results like above, move closer.

Ah, the model of the impatient sprayer. Caking and cracking usually mean that you are either too close or moving too slowly. Spray in short puffs, keeping the can moving and remember what they say about several light coats being better. Yeah, they aren't just saying it to take up more of your time. Sometimes you can see cracking or bubbling from over-shaking a can and getting too much propellant mixed into the can. If you suspect over-shaking, just put the can down for at least 5 minutes.

Every primer can give you good results if you take the time to figure it out. Just pick a primer that fits your budget, patience level or one that is available at your local store. You'll probably ruin a few models along the way but remember that priming is like any other painting skill: the more you work at it the better you get. Getting the priming done right will take practice but if you get good results it makes the rest of the painting job that much easier.

And besides, that cracked and detail-obscured Ork will make a great statue once you paint it with a stone effect.

Ok, let's see 'em: hit us with some links or stories of your worst priming disasters!


Alumilite Carver Set

When you're in and out of the local hobby shop, you're bound to find good alternatives for a lot of the hobby stuff you use for good prices. On a stop by the Hobby Lobby the other day, I happened upon just such a product. Everyone has seen the Games Workshop Sculpting tool in your local shop. It's a great starter tool for sure, and if you're hard up to find another place with anything comparable, it's a great piece of kit. But if you're eyes are sharp, and you find this Alumilite Carver Set, you'll be much happier with your purchase!

For around $10 you get 4 tools. A great value considering for $6, you only get one GW tool. They're all of similar style to the Games-Workshop version as well, so if you're already using the GW tool, these would be easy sub ins.

Each tool comes with a spatula/knife end that can be used to shape and cut your medium of choice. All four are different as you can see, so each would have different uses as you move forward through a project.

On the other end is a different assortment of tool ends for even more versatility. As you can see there is a rounded smoothing end just like on the GW tool. The others have more options for carving out and working your medium. The teardrop shaped carver has caught my attention the most out of this set and I find myself trying to come up with a project just so I can make use of it!
The one downfall of the kit is it's packaging. The plastic cover they used couldn't even keep the carvers in the package on the shelf, and once I had them out, I quickly dispatched of it to the trash bin.
For the price, compared to it's Games-Workshop counterpart, this set is really a no brainer.

We would love to hear about great, cheap, alternatives you've found around your hobby shops!