Friday Quick Tip: Your Favorite Tips

It's been a rough week for us here at TPC, Realgenius has been busting his hump getting terrain built and preparing for WAR Games Con the last few weeks, and I've been knee deep in an art history book gleaning what I can about renaissance and baroque art!  This has left little time for us here to get tips together and even work on our projects, which let's face it, have fed our want for sharable tips! 

So I'm giving it over to everyone else.  What's the best tip you've picked up over your painting and modeling career?  I'm thinking full spectrum here, from basic to advanced.  Something that flipped a switch for your painting style, made your modeling skills jump exponentially, or just some knowledge that everyone should know!  Share a link, or just a quick run down!

If you've got ideas for tips you want to see covered on TPC, shoot us an email at ThePaintingCorps@gmail.com! 


Contest: Horus Heresy Giveaway

Floor to Ceiling Books is giving away a full set of the currently released Horus Heresy series.  Head over and check out the contest.  If you haven't gotten into the series yet, this could be your way into the world of 30k.

Got a contest you're running?  A give-away?  Shoot us an email at ThePaintingCorps@gmail.com! 


Open Discussion: Youtube Favorites

Image: jonsson/Flickr.

There has been a growing number of hobby information being presented in Youtube videos.  It feels rather recent for many of us who have been so dug in with typed tutorial/still images for so long, and many times I find myself feeling behind the times in terms of the latest in great video being produced by a growing community.  TPC has even taken it's first tentative steps into the world of hobby videos!  So I'm opening the floor once again this week in light of how successful the last Open Discussion was. 

What's your favorite hobby video?  Is it a painting tutorial?  A battle report?  Maybe it's just showing off some new products?  Got a favorite channel?  Let's hear em!


Random: USNS Comfort

USNS Comfort 24"x18" Acrylic on Canvas

Some might know that I'm currently working towards a degree in the arts, and while I haven't quite worked out just what I'll be specializing in for the degree, I have been enjoying the creative ride so far.  Unfortunately, creative classes were put on hold for the summer, and I found myself struggling for motivation and ideas for a long time.  Luckily, inspiration comes in many forms, and thanks to an Art History course, I've begun to jump back onto the creative bandwagon.  It started with a few sketches during class, then a couple more finished drawings, and as of this weekend a full painting!

Overall it only took a night plus to finish.  It's all very loose and very gestural, which made it a pleasure to paint as you don't get bogged down with making things "perfect", allowing for more freedom to dance around the canvas with the brush as you go.  It's acrylic paint, so I was able to jump from spot to spot in short order with the help of a hair dryer to help speed things up.  

It's not wargaming, but it's painting!  And I thought it would be fun to share something different from the same creative vein.  Anyone else out there have any non-wargaming creations? 


Reinforcements: 22nd Avalon Hussars RCT

I know some of you might be confused, it's understandable really.  It's been a VERY long time since I've worked on anything from one of my favorite games ever, Battletech.  So long in fact I don't believe I've ever posted anything on TPC about it!

For years I've had the idea to get a campaign of Battletech going with friends.  Eventually I started seeing a group of newer gamers at an old shop starting up the game, just as I was moving across the country!  Luckily, I was moving closer to a good friend who is just as enthusiastic about this old game as I was and we quickly hatched the idea of playing out a campaign of some sort.  The result of that idea ended up being the Civil War fighting between Davion and Steiner forces on the planet Talon.  He would take the Davion loyalists and I would go with the Steiner force. 

The 22nd Avalon Hussars were my chosen force and I didn't just want to go back painting grey as I have always done with my Grey Death marines, so I knew I'd have to tackle things a bit differently.

The models are all from the Classic Battletech boxed game.  They're not the sharpest looking models as some of the detail is smudged with other issues like mold injection spots or big mold lines present on most of them.  But when a box comes with 24 plastic models all the rules, maps and other accouterments, it's hard to pass up for $40!  The models won't win any beauty contests, but for tabletop stand ins they are far better than the old school card cut outs!

I decided that I wanted to have the full hex bases for my figures, so after a little chopping and cutting of the modeled base, I attached them to metal hex bases.  The bases are empty so I filled them in using spackle, and once dry I based them using a mix of random sand and gravel similar to this tip

To start the paint, I used Rustoleum Grey Primer as my base color.  Once the spray was dried, I washed them all rather heavily with Devlan Mud.  It took me a few looks to get the wash into all of the crevices and lines of the armor, which ended up bringing the models darker than I had expected.  I sped up the dry time by using a hair dryer from about 12 inches away from the models using a back and forth sweeping motion to keep from heating the models up too much.

The armor plates were then painted in loose fashion with Codex Grey, leaving some of the color underneath still showing on a few of the plates and being sure not to get the paint in the armor creases.

For a highlight I used a very light dusting of Fortress Grey with a very large brush from top down so that the paint hit mostly the upper edges of the armor plates.  Dusting is like drybrushing, but with FAR less paint in the brush!  By using a larger brush I could focus more on the edges instead of worrying about over painting the surfaces of the armor. 

The lenses were painted with Flat Earth, followed by Orange Brown, highlighted Dark Flesh, and given a final dot and line highlight of Beige.  This left the lenses slightly lighter than I wanted so I went back in with Black in the middle sections of the lenses to punch up the contrast.

The insignia was painted freehand using Flat Earth as a base and Dark Flesh painted in leaving an edge of Flat Earth showing around it.  The sword was painted orange brown and the blade was painted in with Skull White.  The banner below it was painted much the same using Flat Earth followed by Beige.

The bases were painted Flat Earth and drybrushed Beige.  I also drybrushed the feet of the 'Mechs with Beige to help tie them to the terrain more.

The models were finished off with a spray of Matt Varnish through the airbrush.  

In the end I really like the dirty slightly browned grey I was able to achieve.  The models are definitely only tabletop standard, but given the quality of the models, and the quantity for that matter, I'll take it!  Simple, effective, and easy to reproduce for the rest of the mechs in my force!

Anyone else out there getting any Battletech games going?  When's the last time you fielded a Lance or Star or mechs?  Oh and to say I'm a excited for Mechwarrior 5 is an understatement...


Open Discussion: Palettes

Today we're going to open the floor, I want to know what everyone out there uses for their palette!  What's your current favorite?  What have you used in the past?  What are you looking to use in the future?  If you've got a question feel free to leave it in the comments as well! 

Think of this as a guided discussion!  If this is a success, I'm hoping to do more in the future!  So let's hear it!  What do you use?


Field Report: Space Wolves

I've never hidden the fact that I love the Space Wolves.  One day I shall embark on creating a force of them for my own and they will be glorious.  Until that day comes though, I will have to live vicariously through the works of others and collect and cultivate ideas from around the web.  I found these fantastic looking Space Wolves on Tower of Heroes.  I absolutely love the subtleties of color variation on the armor plates.  You should definitely check out the other wolves from this batch.  Top notch work.

Am I alone in my longing for a Space Wolves army that's never come to fruition?  I can't be the only one who pines for the pale blue and savagery!  What's your favorite Space Wolves army from around the web? 


Friday Quick Tip: Cheap and Easy Roads

Here's a quick tip for the type of terrain you almost never see: roads.  Although they provide an in-game bonus, I can't think of the last time I saw a table with roads on it.

The tools and materials are simple and cheap.  All you need are a single asphalt shingle, tin snips, card stock, your hobby knife and some spray paint.  Single shingles are usually sold at most home improvement stores to do spot repairs.  The best part is that they only cost about a dollar and each shingle will give you about 6 linear feet of roads.

First cut the three flaps off, at the width of the pre-cut notches.  This yields about three 5"x12" pieces.  Then you can either cut the other side of the shingle to the same width or (especially if you are using several shingles) you can make wider 6" roads.

If you want to make some curves, just leave one of the three notched pieces and cut a curved section.  The easiest way I've found is to freehand cut a curve and then use a section of already cut road to trace the other curve to cut.

Once you've got your roads cut, just cut stripes and numbers out of the card stock and use them as a stencil for some quick spray paint road markings.  Marking the curves is a little trickier.

So there you go: cheap and easy roads.  Just don't tell your favorite local tournament organizer how cheap and easy they are to make or he might ask you to make roads for every table.  Will they all get done before WAR Games Con?  Sign up and come on down to find out!


Texas Painting Masterclass by Mathieu Fontaine

I was lucky enough to have two classes at Adepticon with Mathieu Fontaine and now I'm lucky enough to drag him down to Texas to teach his two day Masterclass.

On The Table: Bjorn the Fell-Handed

Unfortunately GW doesn't have a Bjorn the Fell-Handed model available anymore and since I put the Old Guy in my WAR Games Con list (Reminder: barely more than a week away!) I figure I'd better get him built and painted.


On The Table: Khorne Lord on Juggernaut

This really seems to be the norm for me now.  I take an old model that I haven't found time for and do something with it for a tip, this in turn sparks my interest in the piece again and I continue the work on it soon after the tip goes live!


Reinforcements: AoBR Ork Warboss

It's been a long time since I first started working on my ork warband.  I picked up the Assault on Black Reach boxed set and knew I wanted to do something with them, but I also knew that whatever it was going to end up being would be a long time in the making.  True to form, there are now only 5 finished models at this point in the force!


Ask the Corps: Alpha Legion

Alpha Legion is a bit of a 'cult' favorite for many who play Warhammer 40k or simply like the back story of the game.  They're mysterious and intriguing with a striking color scheme that instantly attracts your eye.  We got this email from a reader before Airbrush week and now we're going through the backlog getting to the submissions! 


War Games Con Terrain

Greetings from the War Games Con Manufactorum!

This year JWolf tasked me with adding a little more terrain to the War Games Con collection.  We'll have more tables going than last year and we also wanted a few larger pieces that would be good for blocking line of sight.  With those goals in mind, I set about creating some flat-topped hills and rock formations.  While these aren't going to be the most decorative and realistic looking pieces, they should look nice and be very playable.  Here are a few tips the next time you're tasked with making a few hundred hills.

I've found a three inch height offers good protection for many models and I also wanted two tiers so I went with 3/4" double stacked foam cut into pieces and then assembled two cut pieces together for the final product.  First, cut the 4'x8' sheet of foam into four 2'x4' sections and glue them together as pairs.  I used a general 3M spray adhesive and put it on light so that I didn't have any issues with it burning the foam.  (I couldn't find the 3M Styrofoam Adhesive locally.)  I wanted to use a thin spray adhesive since I'd be cutting through the foam later-- nothing sucks more than having to run your hot knife through a thick layer of glue.  Spray both sides to be glued from about 12", stick them together and then peel them apart and wait about 15 seconds before sticking them into the final position.  (Also, don't forget to peel the protective clear sheets from the foam.  If you forgot, well, peel off that protective sheet sandwich you just made and try again.)

Once you've got your double stack of 2 by 4 foam, lay out some guide lines.

Shown is my tester piece of terrain.  Place it in the middle of the long edge, give a little room on either side for cutting and place a few marks along the center line.  These marks ended up being about 7" apart.  To give the terrain some variety, mark at the short edge of the board about 5" apart and then connect the dots.  Depending on how you vary your rows, you'll have slices that taper, widest edges about 9" long and narrow edges about 3" long-- this will make sure that you'll have a good variety of sizes and since we're basically cutting out squares of foam, a little variety goes a long way.  It will also make sure you have enough topper pieces to fit your larger bottom pieces.

Then fire up your favorite 130W foam cutting implement and crank it to 11.  Ok, maybe just to 4.  Anything higher than that and this thing was melting a spectacular amount of foam.

Definitely don't try this with one of those battery powered foam cutters; you'll just drive yourself crazy.  I was able to cut up the whole sheet of foam in about 45 minutes and it would have taken at least twice as long with a lower-powered foam cutter.  Once you get your slices cut, you should have something like this:

For this two by four I went with two wedge shaped slices, one narrow slice and one slice of the same width all the way across.  Next step is more cutting: grab each slice and start hacking off chunks.  While relatively square pieces won't be that interesting, they will reduce your amount of waste and keep your costs down.  When you're done, mix and match the chunks until you've got your hills.  I secured my layers with Liquid Nail construction adhesive, using the same stick-unstick-restick technique for the larger foam layers.

I've found a 4'x8' sheet of 3/4" foam will yield 36-40 hills of this type and cover about 10 square feet of table area.  That's almost two tables worth of terrain using the 25% rule, so for those of you at home, a $12 piece of rigid insulation foam from your local big box construction store can fill up your tables nicely.

Not the most exciting terrain, but once it is painted and textured by Darkwynn and his minions this weekend it should get the job done.  Now I've just got to cut up a couple hundred more and I can move on to making some of the more exciting and interesting terrain for the Narrative Track tables.  In fact, here's a little teaser of a piece I'm working on for the Macragge track.

Look for more updates in the coming weeks as the countdown to War Games Con continues.


Friday Quick Tip: Airbrushing Even Base Color Video

The fifth in our continuing series on airbrushing:

How many times have you seen this?  You just got back into your hobby room, you thought you had a nice even coat, but because you couldn't manipulate the model too much you couldn't see all of the underlying spots that didn't catch any of the paint! 

You could just slop the paint into the crevices, but even a watered down coat can give you fits in terms of evenness.  Since getting my airbrush, I have made short work of these spots by using the airbrush to reach deep and kept the base coat nice and even. 

This is how I go about adding an actual base color to my models, not just typical 'primer' colors.  If a model is predominately going to be blue, red, green, what have you, I'll spray the model that color and pick out the rest with a brush.  Or if you want to get crazy, mask things off and spray various colors for a nice smooth coat. 

There are a few small tips within the tip as to typical airbrush use and practices.  Drying areas with just air (dual action users only!), quick bursts, keeping the brush moving, etc.  This is a good way to get used to your airbrush without worrying too much about ruining your model.  I highly suggest this as a good starting point for any new users. 

What other basic airbrush uses are there for new users to test out their new equipment?  Have a good drill or simple but effective method for models that even the newest user could work with?  Let's hear it!


Video: Airbush Mash Up

We don't claim to have all the answers!  As evident with most articles ending with an open question to all the readers of TPC to add their knowledge and expertise in a given area via the comments.  I know my airbrushing techniques will become more and more involved as time wears on, but today I took some time to work out a few videos showing a few small things that might help a few of you along as you get started.

To start out, I made a test video showing assembly of an airbrush.  The video shows me putting together my
Paasche Model VL
and it might not seem like much, but I remember calling LBursley to make sure I didn't screw anything up in disassembling and assembling this thing when I first got it!

Next up in the video shorts series created today was a small video on mixing your acrylics.  In the video I use Windex, I have had no troubles with colors changing on me from the blue tint of the cleaner, and the fast dry time that some bemoan, I actually like.  There are actual airbrush thinners (Liquitex Airbrush Medium) on the market though for those looking to do something more and they likely do work better than a stop gap like Windex!  But for a starter, you'd be hard pressed to get as much thinning medium for as cheap. 

In the final video short, I show my mid-use cleaning method. I spray a few cups worth of Windex through the airbrush until no more pigment is showing in the spray. I find it a good way to clean the brush between colors in a single session of painting, or when I need to take a short break but don't have the time for a full out break down and cleaning.

As I get more comfortable and upgrade my set up for video, I hope to create far more of these video shorts and even full length tutorials in the future. There are just some things that work out better with video.

So, what do you do for thinning your paints for airbrushing? Have a favorite medium you've been using lately? Have any thoughts on ratios/mixes that work best for different things? What about quick cleanings? Let's hear what you have to say about the subjects!


Field Report: Airbrushing Miniatures Links

The third in a continuing series of airbrushing articles:

Today we're sharing a few resources that we ourselves have dug through over the past months.  I'll be sticking to some of the more mini dedicated sites with a few more general info links for good measure.


Airbrush Compressors

The second in a continuing series of airbrushing articles:

Compressors and their accessories are one of the bigger concerns past the airbrush itself that many have when they're considering stepping into the world of airbrushing.  Instead of digging through each and every option and compressor out there I'll just be going over a few of the bigger options you'll want to look for and a few that you might get away without should you be on a limited budget for your set up.


Ask the Corps: Airbrush Types

The first in a series of airbrush articles that will appear throughout the week:

All around the web people in the wargaming community are getting more and more interested in adding an airbrush to their repertoire of tools.  To help aid those still in need of an airbrush decision, we're going to go over some of the options, and then opening the floor to everyone to add in their two cents on each! 


Friday Quick Tip: Glass Bead Rivets

I've never gotten too deep into scratch building or kit bashing in all of my years of wargaming.  But the need has arisen as of late to get serious about both and with that comes new ideas, tips and techniques.  Today I am sharing a method I've known about for some time, but never gave a try, Glass Bead Rivets.


On The Table: Rusting Practice

After reading through a few of the articles over on Scratchmod, I decided to give this one a try to work out a few of the kinks that inevitably come from trying a new method.  I plucked out an old piece from a Sherman I never got around to building and got to it.  All in all, I'm really pleased with the results.  For my next test piece I'm going to get hold of some kosher salt for a much chunkier looking finish. Some rain marks and additional oil weathering will go down on the next piece.


Field Report: Team Tournament Objective Markers

Team Tournaments seem to be popping up all over lately and if you can limit the broken combinations they are a lot of fun.  Big Al over at Hogs of War has come up with some fantastic objective markers for an Eldar and Tyranids team.


Field Report: Hardboard Panel Terrain Basing

Hardboard Panels

This was a handy little nugget I picked up from a friend, BDub, on the Austin community forum. I've always been a proponent of basing terrain pieces on a piece of hard board, in my case I always cut up a big 2'x4' piece of MDF into smaller pieces. With these hardboards, I believe I'll save a lot of time when it comes to city scape basing. That's not to say you're left out if you're not planning a city table, by picking out an appropriately sized piece and then cutting down you'll be saved some time and hassle as well for your organic shapes.


Field Report: Scratchmod

I am always digging for a new resource to soak up information from.  Usually it comes from outside of the wargaming community and I sift through the new ideas and techniques and play with the idea of using them in a future project.  Today's report comes in the way of SUPER weathering and vehicle destruction, Scratchmod shows you just how to go all out with no hesitation.  You could easily make use of these techniques for terrain pieces from old messed up models or find a nice balance between these and others to create a new, realistic, look on say your newest project (stay tuned :p).


Friday Quick Tip: Durable Blastscape

This just in from the Better-Late-Than-Never Department:

If you've seen the GW Blastscape sets in person, you know what a disappointment they are.  These pieces are very thin and can easy be damaged.  Drop a metal model or drive a Land Raider over it and quickly the peaks will be crunched.  But when JWolf of War Games Con (formerly known as BoLSCon) gave me three bags of these sets I knew I couldn't turn them away.