Friday Quick Tip: Spackle Basing

After aquiring an APE Grunt mini from Iorek over on Dakka, I couldn't wait to get started on it. I have been following Incursion for some time now, and I'm really excited to actually own a piece from such a cool game. Hopefully the first of a full set yet to come! Once I ripped open the package and pulled all of the parts out, I realized that the basing was of the 'fill in' variety, similar to Battletech bases. I had just recently posted my spackle terrain tips and immediately thought to make use of the filler for basing for the first time.

To start me off, I just globbed a good amount of filler onto/into the base. I am never really worried about 'over doing it' at this stage as spackle is pretty simple to clean up! Just get the stuff on the base!

To clean up your mess, just use a finger around the rim of the base. Any spots that might give you issue, just use a wet rag and they'll come right up. It's not a huge issue if it's on the base, as you'll likely paint it over anyways, but too much can leave a gnarly texture with no context!

When the spackle starts to hint that it's drying (in this case the white ring), you can start to shape it with a sculpting tool in the styling of your choice. In my case, I went with a concrete paved base. Since Incursion takes place in an underground bunker at Gibralter, it made sense! The lines and carving should go easy at this point, but make sure not to press too hard in any direction, as it'll push the spackle back into the detailing you just made! Once you've got your rough details on, let it dry completely. Any additional details can be carved out of the spackle (carefully!) once dry. It is slightly brittle though, so a steady hand and pressure will be vital in not ruining what you've already created.

As I said above, this stuff is brittle. It needs some sort of sealer. I decided that PVA Glue would be my best bet, so I took some watered down glue and painted it over the entire base surface. And since I was adding glue, I went ahead and added a bit of fine sand to add a bit more texture. If you've been reading all of my basing articles, you might start to see a bit of a pattern here!

And here we have the finished base, ready for its model. I kept my edges rough on purpose and it gave me a great worn concrete look. But it's up to you, the creator, to make your base in your minds eye a reality.

One consideration you need to take into account when using this method of basing though, is the weight of the model! The APE Grunt is a heavy chunk of metal! And like I said earlier, spackle can be brittle, and I just don't trust it to hold such a big hunk of mini to itself without cracking out, even with the PVA Glue wash. So pinning a heavy metal model to the base is probably a good idea.

How well this would work on a model that doesn't have a recessed base like this is all up to how thick you are willing to go with your base. I personally don't know that I would use it on a flat GW style base. But don't let that stop you.

So there you have it, another basing type to put into your repitoire of basing tricks! Any new ideas for basing out there?


A New Endeavor

I've been knocking the idea of doing a companion site to TPC around for a while now, and I've finally gotten around to setting it up and giving it an official start up. It's not much to look at just yet, but trust me, with as much as I post around the web in the forums, I expect it to quickly fill up with a lot of different projects.

So join me over on the new site Reinforcements, and let's continue the conversation!


Friday Quick Tip: Metal Variation Using Washes

Master Of The Forge, Sons Of Medusa, Space Marines, Techmarine, Warhammer 40,000

Recently I finished painted the above Techmarine for my Sons of Medusa. A fun model with a lot of cool details and some serious opportunities for metallic work. As I went to working on the servo arms, I knew I didn't want them to simply be silver, but a playground of variation through the different components.

In order to add this variety I drew upon a technique I picked up from White Dwarf in a LotR painting article. It was about using washes to create color on top of a metal basecoat, creating a different take on metal surfaces. I used this on my entry for the Dakka Painting Challenge "Old School" for the first time and was very pleased with the results. To see exactly what I'm talking about look at the carapace armor on his torso.

2nd Edition, Commissar, Imperial Guard, Old School, Valhalan, Warhammer 40,000

The idea is to create a thick layer of wash by painting the wash on in multiple coats and using the base metallic to 'scratch' it and create a nice worn look. With the commissar, I used Badab Black painted over a Boltgun Metal base coat. It was then chipped with Boltgun Metal. This was also the first model I learned to change the color of metallics with washes, which lead me to my Gryphonne Sepia Gold/Bronze method I still use extenisively, as shown below.

Chaplain, Space Marines, Ultramarines, Warhammer 40,000

Changing metallic colors using washes gives a lot of control to the painter and really opens up a new variety of shades and tones that give great effects.

Master Of The Forge, Sons Of Medusa, Space Marines, Techmarine, Warhammer 40,000

For my techmarine, I picked out what parts I wanted to add a bit of variety to on the arms and made sure to paint them all in the same manner to add continuity to the model.

I started the arms by painting them 100% in Chainmail. I then used a heavy wash of Badab Black to create shading on the flat metallic. Once dry, I used the Chainmail again to highlight a few higher edges and bolts.

My wash of choice to add variety was Devlin Mud. Your first coat will go on lightly, don't worry, it's doing its job. The GW Washes really work best in layers, where the last layer helps catch the next and create color slowly and deliberately. Let the layers dry completely, or you'll find yourself pulling some spots up which is a pain to fix.

How deep a color you create is entirely up to you. That control is possibly the best part of this technique. When you've got a color you are happy with, use your base color, in this case Chainmail, to chip and scratch the finish where it would look appropriate.

Using washes to change colors and metals is a big part of my painting repitoire these days. A part that I ensure you, if you put the time in to learn, you will thoroughly enjoy.

Have a good tip on the use of washes? We would love to hear them!


Friday Quick Tip: Colored Pencil Hard Lining

Some of you might remember a little tip I did a while ago for pencil weathering. Well soon after, LBursley came out with this little gem, going even further into a painting alternative. It's brilliant if you ask me, and something just about anyone can do! Pencils are much more natural for everyone to use, and take a lot less time from what we see here. Check out the vid:

Now, the question everyone out there is going to ask: "Won't this just rub off when I handle the model?!" Short answer: Yes! Long Answer: No! You need to seal this stuff to the model in some fashion!

I would definitely recommend that you try this technique on a test piece and try various methods of varnishing to keep it all in place. My immediate reaction would be to use a spray varnish of some sort to keep from streaking the pencil lining with a brush. But if you don't like the spray finish, you can always just spray varnish first, and go back with your brush on!

The doors are pretty much wide open for these types of tips. If you've got an off the wall idea, or something you've used that you would like to share, let's hear it!


Friday Quick Tip: Leopard Spots/Scales

Lately I've been going back to my Eldar tanks and adding additional detail. They were originally painted with a straight stripe, but now I'd like to soften the stripes with a more organic look. I've painted one with a vine pattern and wanted to experiment with another technique. Since my army is led by Fuegan, Phoenix Lord of the Fire Dragons, I figured reptilian scales would fit right in with the theme. I call it scales, but it could be described as a leopard spot-type pattern as well. It works great as a camouflage pattern. Here's how I went about creating the scales effect.

This technique really only requires two colors, but we will mix the two colors for an in-between shade. The colors selected in this case are a shade darker and a shade lighter than the base color already on the tank. Orkhide Shade is the darker base color and Goblin Green will be the lighter highlight. If you are starting with a dark base color, like black or dark blue, then you can pick two colors lighter than the base and build the scales up from a dark background instead of putting a dark scale on a lighter background. Select different colors for a dramatic scale effect or more similar colors for a subtle scale pattern.

Throw some Orkhide Shade down on your palette and mix in a generous amount of water. You want the paint runny enough so that you can quickly touch the brush to the model and get a nice, rounded shape. But don't make it so runny that the paint is dripping down the angles surfaces of the tank. Start with 1 water : 2 paint and thin more if needed. The Foundation colors especially might need a little more thinning than the normal Citadel Colour paints.

The key to good scales is patience and getting the right pattern. Your scales should be close together, but not touching and should vary in size and shape. Start by painting two scales next to each other. Not to obtain the best looking pattern add the third scale so that you've made a triangular pattern with the three scales. You want to avoid putting scales in straight lines, so when ever you add another scale make sure it forms a triangle with two existing scales. Another way to think about it is like a brick pattern. Bricks aren't laid in columns, they are laid so that half of the brick overlaps the brick above and below. The base coat "line" that forms between two scales should "point" to the middle of an adjacent scale, not to another gap between scales. Enough words, here's what it looks like:

Now it isn't going to be perfect every time and occasionally you're going to run two scales together or find yourself painting them in a nice row. Don't worry! This technique is something you can do while drinking beer or watching TV; the coolness of it isn't in the small details of each scale but the overall effect that it brings to the tank. After a bit of work, you'll get something like this:

I didn't want to strictly follow the grey line, so I left some space for grey scales merging into the green background and placed some green scales overlapping onto the grey. I think it looks more natural when the scales don't strictly follow any lines, so I have a tendency to wrap them even onto the bottom of the tank.

Now grab an equal portion of the Goblin Green and add it to the Orkhide Shade. You'll probably want to add more water at this point to maintain your consistency. If you are working on a whole tank at a time, I recommend that you take breaks during painting each color to wash out your brush and make sure the paint on your palette stays the same watery consistency. If you notice it starting to thicken up or start to dry up on your brush, take a break and add water to the paint and rinse out your brush. If the mixed color you end up with is similar to the base color you started with before painting scales, then you probably picked a nice coordinating pair of colors.

When painting the intermediate color, make sure that you vary the placement on the existing scale and try to always leave a dark edge showing all the way around the new color. You can put just a dot in smaller scales, fill the middle on some or even just make small curves with the mid-highlight. Varying the shape gives a more varied pattern while highlighting everyone the same can give a regimented, consistent look. Do whatever works for you. This step will go faster than the base scale color, since laying down the base pattern probably takes about half the total time of painting this effect.

Now you need to paint straight Goblin Green as a very small highlight on each scale. Keep the paint watery like before for smooth shapes, but make sure that you don't have too much paint loaded on your brush or it will be difficult to control and make small highlights. This stage goes pretty quickly, as you're just touching a small bit of color to each scale. Try to make small curves instead of dots or straight highlight lines.

This last step is optional, but I like to add a little more highlight to scales that are on prominent ridges or edges of the tank. Mix about 1 Goblin Green: 1 Bleached Bone and a liberal amount of water and then just highlight the scales on edges and ridges. It takes just a small amount of time to do this and really adds a lot of depth in person. I highlighted the scales on the ridge above the engine, a few on the edges of the tank and on the bulging vents.

That's all there is to it. This section of the tank probably took about an hour to do, including arranging photos, but after you get the hang of the scale pattern, it really is pretty mindless work. You can even save your time and putting down the scale pattern over select portions of the tank, instead of covering the whole thing. Sometimes less is more and less is certainly less time spent. Here's another tank I am working on with red scales built up from a dark red-black and green scales with the lighter plus darker technique explained above.

This technique also works on a smaller scale, like on a capes, robes and cloaks. Each step is the same, just with smaller scales and a tinier pattern.

Happy Scaling!

What other organic patterns do you usee in your armies?


New Addition

If you all haven't seen yet, there is a new addition to the team here on TPC, LBursley! His recruitment comes on the heels of some really great articles, tutorials, and tips as well as a really easy to follow blog over on DakkaDakka.com. His dedication to showing and helping people learn what he has has been a great inspiration to a lot of people around the Dakka community, even myself!

One of the biggest things he's bringing to the community is a penchant for using video to help give a better understanding for techniques. With his recent acquisition of some serious HD gear, he's started putting together some of the best looking videos I've seen on the web for modeling. And with that I give you the first, in what promises to be a fantastic line, of his HD modeling and painting videos.

Be sure you watch the video in full screen HD! You won't regret it! Take notice of the brush control and variety of techniques. While none of them are ground breaking or even all that advanced, the use of each is spot on.

So help me in welcoming LBursley to the TPC fold, and let him know what you think of the video!


Friday Quick Tip: Published Resources

Remember all of those White Dwarf Magazines you have purchased over the years? You know, the ones that are packed away in the closet that haven't seen the light of day in countless years! Now what about all of those collectors edition video games you picked up because you just couldn't bring yourself to buy 'just' the normal game. What ever did you do with those art books that came with it? All those old codex books, rule books, source books? Same place as the White Dwarf magazines, aren't they? Now, WHY AREN'T THEY ON YOUR BOOKSHELF?!

As you can see from the small cross section of material in the photo above, I never throw out ANY modeling, wargaming, or painting publication! Why would I keep so much information out and on the shelf instead of packed away? Because they're CHOCK FULL of useful info and inspiration! Not having all of this on hand for quick reference or ease of browsing would be a travesty!

There isn't a project I work on that I don't go back to reference something in this collection if not for direct painting techniques and colors then for the pure inspiration held in the myriad of publications I have accumulated over the many years I've been pouring my money into this wondrous hobby. If you're not going back to those old magazine articles and looking through, you're truly missing out. There is no better way to reconnect with why you got into the hobby than to see the old images that hooked you in the first place!

So find a spot on your bookshelf and put those books where they belong! Don't have a shelf? GO GET ONE! You won't be disappointed once you break that painters block with a short flip through a few books.

My charge to you, the community, is to go back and dig up an old publication and read through it, reminisce and find that one inspiring picture, article, or painting guide that catches your eye and share it here! That's what I'll be doing for the next couple of hours!

Edit: If you happen to have a MUST READ publication that you think everyone should check out, I, for one, would love to hear about it!