Friday Quick Tip: Snow Basing

In keeping with the season, I thought it only proper to have a winter inspired tip this week. So we're going with a quick and dirty method for snow basing! A lot of folks avoid this as they really don't understand how simple it can really be. So I'll break it down to the basics!

What you'll need:

You can substitute with a myriad of things here and there. You don't NEED a GW sculpting tool for example, I just happen to find it to be the best tool I have on hand for this particular job! You will however NEED PVA glue, some sort of snow medium, and something to mix and place all that snow! And of course the miniature is a given...

The first thing you'll want to do is squeeze out an appropriate amount of glue onto your paper towel. Then shake out about the same amount of snow medium right next to it. A little more or a little less snow isn't going to hurt your end results, so just get it roughly equal.

Once you've figured out how much you'll need, it's time to mix it up. Continue to mix the snow into the glue until you start getting little clumps.

Applying the mixture to your bases is rather straight forward. Take up some of the mixture and press it down onto the base with your sculpting tool. You can add as much or as little as you want, it's your base afterall!

Below is the finished application. Be sure you clean up the rim of the base with a finger and wipe away any overhanging excess snow. Though really that's just personal preference!

I normally use snow as an accent to the basing, not completely covering it, so additional drybrushing and some static grass would have gone down before this to get the effects I've achieved with my Skaven in the begining of the post.

It's a very very simple thing to use, and it just takes a few tries to get familiar with. This method is MUCH faster than gluing successive layers of the stuff until it really looks like snow. Trust me, I've done it!

What do other folks use for snow basing?


Root Trees

This weekend I was at my local shop and while talking terrain with the owner, he was showing me some things online he was considering doing/getting for the store terrain. One of the pieces that really struck me was an ash waste tree. What made the tree unique was that it was made using the root of a plant! I thought it was absolutely genius and decided I had to give it a try.

Later that night I went out into my backyard with a flashlight and found a suitable sized root that happened to be from a weed. I couldn't help but be amazed at my luck as my backyard as well as the front is covered in these weeds! I cut the root from the plant and got to work!

For the base of the template I used a piece of MDF shaped with a Rasp and an electric hand sander to smooth it all out. The rocks are just that, properly shaped and sized rocks glued into place. The root was placed in the midst of the rocks and some sand was added to help add some additional detailing.

I used White Glue to secure everything, but I believe for the next one I'll end up using some hot glue to get everything in place and hide that with some white glue and sand. White glue just took far too long to secure everything and wasn't very good about me working it at all while things were still drying. I'd highly suggest the hot glue gun for the big pieces.

The sand was given an additional wash of 50/50 water/white glue to help secure everything further, and save my brushes later on when I went to paint it all!

For paint, I primed it all black, and gave it a simple drybrush of a dark grey color. I used some random house paint I had on hand but you could easily use Codex Grey. After this was a lighter drybrush of a light grey. Again, this was some random house paint I had, Fortress Grey would be a good choice of color.

All in all it was an extremely fast project, with the longest part of it all waiting for the white glue to dry completely! For something that normally is a nuscience in my lawn to become something useful like this is a real treat. Now, to make about 5 more of these bad boys!


Friday Quick Tip: Metallics and Color Basing

Heya folks, that time again! This week I thought it would be a good time to bring another little tidbit I've picked up from none other than GentleBen of BoLS fame. And it has to do with a fundamental change in how you go about your metallics.

The idea here is to paint a Base Color of some sort before applying your metallic paints. This seems like such a simple and easy thing that anyone in their right mind would think to do, but honestly, I would have almost never thought to try this had I not been 'enlightened' a week ago!

The practice of this is simple:

When you're painting silver, base coat the area in a grey color, such as Codex Grey or Fortress Grey.

When you're painting a gold, try a Light Brown like Snakebite Leather.

Looking for a rusted feel? Paint Bestial Brown under your silvers.

Drybrushing seems to be the method of choice for this technique, but I can easily see it working in thin application of watered down metallics where the base coat will show through. And of course using a wash of some sort, be it inks, washes, or a custom mixture, will help bring it all to life.

I've done a little bit of work with this idea recently with my Chaos Knights, doing a full drybrush of Codex Grey over all areas that were getting a Chainmail drybrush, and I have to say, I believe I'll be using this one from now on.

Those of you out there looking for a quick and easy method to bring your metals to the next level, give this idea a try and see what sort of results you have from it.

And those of you looking for some additional reading this weekend, be sure to check out GentleBen's Painting Academy posts over on BoLS:

What the Hell is Paint?

Matte Medium Tutorial

From these you will definitely get a better understanding of the theory behind using this technique, as well as some insight to other great ideas.

What little tips do you have for painting metals?


Friday Quick Tip: Setting your white balance

I've got a "photo Friday" tip for you this week to help your pictures come out true to the original: set your white balance.

Setting the white balance is just a tool for getting your pictures to look like you want them to look. There really is no right or wrong, except for what looks good to you. Almost all digital cameras have some setting for white balance and in most cases the "auto" (AWB) mode will do a decent job.

But when you take a picture under less than ideal lighting conditions, the color usually will not be true to life with AWB.

Here's a demonstration that shows how the white balance setting changes the color of a picture.

This picture was taken with 5500K fluorescent lights and a light tan fabric background. The modes in the first column: AWB, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten. The second column modes: Fluorescent, Flash, Custom, Kelvin.

The AWB mode does a decent job, but the most faithful reproduction of color is the Kelvin mode, since I have it set to match the 5500K output of my lights. If you can control the light, setting your camera to the light color will usually give you the best results.

But often you aren't controlling the light. For example, if you are taking a picture of a model outside in the shade, you might find that your model looks too "blue". In this case you can use the key above to pick one of the mode "yellow" modes: Shade, Flash, Cloudy.

If you are inside taking a picture of a model on your desk with only a single lamp, your model may look too "yellow". In this case try Tungsten or Fluorescent modes.

If you want to get advanced, you can use the Custom mode on your camera. For the image above I set the Custom white balance based on the tan fabric with no model. As you can see the tan hue of the fabric was removed (turned almost grey) and the model is given a darker almost bluish cast. By setting the custom WB to an image with a strong color, you can get some interesting effects in your photos; like "fake night" explained in this white balance article. You can find some good tips on setting and trouble-shooting your white balance in this article.

What photography tips do you have for getting great photos of your models?


Friday Quick Tip: Sponge Painting Battle Damage

I recently stumbled across the idea of using a piece of foam/spongy material to add random patterned battle damage/wear and tear to my models. As soon as I read about it I just HAD to give it a try on a model. The first model I used it on was my test piece for my recently decided upon Sons of Medusa, which you can see at the bottom of this post for a full example of how this technique looks.

Step One is to paint your model up to normal standard with your base colors, I have used Space Wolves colors here since I've got a bunch of the Wolves laying about not doing anything!

Step Two starts by finding an appropriate spongy material. For this tutorial I used a small chunk of blister pack foam:Once you've located an appropriate material, rip off a ragged piece like I have above and dip an end into a darker colored paint. For this tutorial I mixed 50/50 Shadow Grey/Chaos Black. Apply the color to the model where damage would normally take place. Don't worry about being too liberal, you can always clean it all back up with the base color to get just the right amount of damage.

Step Three is as simple as highlighting the bottom edges of the damaged areas to add a slight bit of depth to the 2D surface. Here I've used Space Wolves Grey.

You can really go nuts with this technique in both color variation as well as amount of damage you apply. The randomness of the ragged sponge pieces help add realism compared to hand painting it on. I plan on using this on many many more projects in the future. It's just to simple!

What have you used to get realistic battle damage on projects? Feel free to share your ideas and experiences!

Take care of your brushes

To paraphrase the old commercial, "take care of the things that take care of you," and taking care of your brushes is what any good painter should do.

Nothing is worse than an expensive sable brush that has lost its point and is clogged up to the ferrule with dried paint. Here's a few tips to keep that from happening to you:

The Don'ts:
  • Don't let paint dry on the brush
  • Don't load paint up to the ferrule (metal part)
  • Don't use a good brush to mix paint or add water to paint
  • Don't store your brushes point down
The Dos:
  • Do use a large container for rinsing-- a Mason jar works great
  • Do rinse and clean your brushes after each use
  • Do rinse the brush "mid-flight" when painting large batches
  • Do keep your brushes dry when not in use, and not being conditioned

If you've never used Pink Soap then you need to go out to your local arts and crafts store and buy some now. Your brushes will get a whole new lease on life. Even if you've got an "old crusty", giving it a good pink soap wash and then letting it condition with a little pink soap can really bring it back to life. If you have a brush, then you need to have brush soap!

A word on brush selection: while you will get great results with expensive brushes, you can get very good results with much cheaper brushes that you take care of. I look for the cheapest red sable (lower quality sable) brushes that come to a good point. These usually cost much less than the Winsor and Newtons and perform almost as well. When well cared for these cheaper brushes will provide a long service life. And frankly my painting skills just don't require such fine brushes.

If you are using any type of speed-painting techniques and not doing a lot of detail, definitely don't spend your money on the big-bucks brushes.

For more reading, check out these brush selection and cleaning links.

What do you do to take care of the brushes that take care of you?


Friday Quick Tip: Speed painting for large units.

Hi, Thomas aka Goatboy here to help out those people that have a ton of units lying there unpainted and find the task of finishing off their army daunting. My methods for painting have helped me finish most armies within 3 to 4 weeks to a good table standard. Today I will just be talking about how to start the process and plan it out. So let's get started.

1. Plan out your color scheme with a test model. I normally like to take just one basic model and bust out with a color scheme on it. I write out each color I use and any changes I might do with it in my little paint journal/random notebook I get from work. I like to do this so I won't forget the methods I used when trying to finish off squads.

2. Once I complete a test model and find a scheme I like, I go about setting up blocks of units to paint. Most of the time, 10 man units work out pretty well, and once you get the hang of that you can move onto larger blocks of models (like orks who are normally in blocks of 30 or 15, depending on the unit).

3. I have the amount of plastics dudes set aside, I go and grab all the colors I used and set them up into rows based on what they are used for. I separate my skin tones, my armor tones, etc out into their beginning to end color phase. I also do this with my washes, to ensure that every model has the same look as I move through the unit.

4. From there ,I start the unit with putting down base colors first and then moving on from there. I slowly go through each level of color for the section I am painting. You can normally paint one layer and go all the way to the end with the same color and have the first one be dry by the time you get done. From there you can move onto the next layer and go from there. Washes, take a bit longer to dry, and that is why I normally leave the washes towards the end since a lot of the time I use the same one to unify the entire piece in a shade of color.

5. I move through each color set until the model is done. This is a way you can finish large batches of models in a small amount of time. Usually after a model of two you can start to move faster as you know how to lay the paint down since you are doing it over and over again.

Next time I will go through the use of washes and how you can use one color to help create a unifying shade throughout the model. It adds a nice bit of depth to the model and is really a quick way to get a finished piece for your army.

If you have any questions about the list or want to know more, shoot me an email. And again, the link below takes you to my art and miniature commission site.


Friday Quick Tip: Simple, Dirty Free Handing

So today's quick tip is about free handing. Most inexperienced painters are intimidated by the prospect of drawing outside the lines and making their model truly unique. But it is really easy. First I'll go over the basic steps, and then show some examples of really simple free hands.

1. Concept. You want to have a pretty good idea of what you want the subject to look like when completed. If this is your first time then start simple.

2. Pencil it out. This step is really the most important and the least often thought of. You'll need a sharp pencil (preferably a mechanical pencil with .5 mm lead). Again, make sure to start with something simple, just straight lines, like some checkers. Don't press too hard or your pencil will tear through the paint instead of marking on top of it.

3. Paint consistency. This is very important, the paint should really be about the consistency of melted butter (sorry, couldn't think of a better comparison). If it is too thin then you'll have no control and you'll end up with a mess. Too thick and it won't flow the way you need it to. Below you can see a free handed icon that was done with slightly too thick paint. You can see how it's a little chunky in places.

4. Build on your success. Once you've done a few simple things to build your confidence, try something a bit more complicated. Look through Codex's and Army Books, there are tons of little images scattered throughout. Just like anything else, practice makes perfect.


Friday Quick Tip: Portable Paint Set

Ever since I started working for the Fire Department, I've really been in need of a nice compact, durable and versatile way to get my projects to work and back in one piece. From that necessity came my current portable paint set up.

Much of what I have been using has been from things I found around my house and at work. The base of which is a flip top flat box from GW's shipping department. I have used this box as a mixing palette for my terrain projects, a priming surface for just about every model I paint, and as a container to keep some of my most needed paints on hand and organized.

As you can see, I pack the box to it's limit. I routinely pack around 29 GW paints and 6 Vallejo model color paints in this one. I also carry my brushes and pencils in the box as well, if you still have the little plastic covers, they'll stay in great shape so long as you don't have them pressed up against anything. The larger box you get, the more paints you can lug around, but I've found this one to be perfectly sized for my needs.

Another major addition to my paint set that I've recently stumbled across is a document protector that I found around work when I forgot to bring a palette with me. It ended up being the perfect companion piece to an already nicely compact set up. With this you can also fold it over on itself and with a little bit of water around the paint, it will seal off the paint and keep it from drying out should you need to step away for a moment. I just fold this up and throw it in with the paints and close up the box.

The last piece of the puzzle is a durable plastic cup. The cup isn't just for your water when painting either. Should your project be small enough, you can wrap it up in the paper towel and stuff it all into the cup for a bit of protection and a much easier transport! This might not work for army projects, but it gets the trick done for one off models!

And there you have it! A nice compact, durable, and portable paint set that costs next to nothing (past the paints that is!).

How do you get around with painting projects?


Tank Weathering Resources

I've been doing a lot of reading as of late into model tank weathering. My search has led me to many different methods and takes on the subject and I've landed squarely in the land of military modeling, where many wargamers fear to tread.

Over the years, I've done my share of weathering experimentation and even created my own tutorial for a very simplistic approach to the subject that many wargamers out there could emulate with what they already have available to them. But my increasing interest in the subject had me really searching for more effective ways to weather tanks and vehicles to the next level.

Today, I happened upon Exponent Wargaming, where I found a few really great links to some really great sites. Some I'd already seen before, others completely new. And it made me realize that the biggest problem people have figuring out this whole weathering thing, is finding a lot of information in one place. So I decided to put together a small cross section of the best, most informative step by step tutorials I could find.

FichtenFoo's T-74 Painting and Weathering
- A great all around from the start of the painting process to the finished weathering and a lot of things in between.

IPMSStockholm's AFV Weathering - An easy to follow step by step on Filters, Scratches, Paint Chipping, and Dusting.

Ultrawerke Painting And Weathering - A 4 part series of posts, quite possible the most in depth step by step on the subject I've seen out there.

I know I'll be pouring over all of these amazing resources for weeks and months to come. For those of you who might have some more links to some other sites, feel free to leave them in the comments section! I'm always down for more reading!

I hope more wargamers out there like myself will feel inspired to take their craft to the next level and really push the boundaries wargaming realism.


Friday Quick Tip: Rust in Two Colors

I recently started working on some Orks after acquiring the Assault on Black Reach boxed set. It took me a bunch of months but I finally finished cleaning them all off and eventually finished a model for my test scheme. One of the things that really seemed to catch peoples eye was the simple yet effective rust effect I came up with for my metals.

To start off with you of course need to get a base coat started. This could be whatever color really, here I've gone with a Brown Violet from Vallejo. The second step is to take a very beat up old brush and apply splotches of Vermin Brown by stippling the old brush in a random pattern. You can apply as little or as much of this as you want, it's all about the final effect you're going for! The third and final step (at least for today), is to stipple Fiery Orange over the Vermin Brown layer. I used a standard brush for the final step and made it broken and random. For an idea of where you can take this here's my finished Ork test model:

As you can see, I have done some additional weathering and metal work around and on top of this effect to make it more subtle and feel more realistic.

A quick side note: Apparently GW isn't selling Fiery Orange anymore, but you could easily use Blazing Orange instead for this technique. For those of you with Fiery Orange still, disregard!

There are many different rust painting techniques out there, and you should definitely do some research as to just what style of rust you are going for on a particular piece. The more you know about the different approaches, the more variation and realism you can apply to your own take on rust.

So lets here em, how do you paint your rusty bits?


Dakka Painting Challenge - Bump in the Night

Well the deadline has passed! The entries are in and now it's up to everyone out there to vote on their favorite! So head on over to the voting thread and let your voice be heard!

I'd like to thank everyone for participating and for their support over this past year! It's been great to watch this evolve into the competition it is today!


Friday Quick Tip: Painting White on a Black Undercoat

Many people struggle when painting white. A lot of beginners start out trying to paint white directly onto the black undercoat they've primed their model with. Unfortunately, this usually ends up with an uneven coat of paint with a splotchy appearance that really makes the overall quality of your mini suffer.

A simple fix to this age old problem is to do it in steps! Here I've gone with a grey base color to build upon, in this case Codex Grey. For the second step I've used Fortress Grey to help lighten the area even more. For the final build up, I use Skull White. Skull White is a fickle color and even with this build up, usually needs two slightly watered down coats to cover completely.

GDL Tactical Marine

There are tons of different directions that get you to much the same place. It's all about the hue of white you want. So get out there, experiment with it, and learn a method that you like! Or just swipe this method and have at it!

So, how do you get your whites so white?


Friday Hobby Quick-Tip: Master Your Lines

After a few years of modeling, everyone learns a few hobby tips that make life easier. Each Friday I'm going share a little bit of wisdom I've come across.

Today's tip: Master your Lines.

If you don't have the patience or skill to brush on fine lines in the recesses of armor on your infantry, get yourself a Pigma Micron pen. These pens are available in many colors and a few sizes (although you'll probably want the smallest: 005 = 0.2mm) and you can find them at most chain hobby and craft stores.

If you are lining a tank and are having trouble getting nice clean lines between the armor plates, try using gouache. Also readily available at most craft and art stores, gouache is just pigment suspended in water. So if you go outside the lines, you can easily fix it with a wet Q-tip. Seal the gouache with an oil-based clear coat and it should last forever.

Get out there and master your lines, soldier!

Besides rock-steady hands, what tips do you have for creating fine, straight lines on tanks and infantry?


Masta Blasta WIP: Playing with Ork skin

In preparation for the Macharian Crusade I've done up a Big Mek as Masta Blasta, an Ork known for cramming Bomb Squigs into his Shokk Attack Gun.

The main things I focused on were matching the face of the Mek to the one in the campaign book, and adding a large bulge to the Shokk Attack Gun feed tube to represent a Bomb Squig. The head was easy: green stuff goggles and a light bulb. For the tube bulge, I cut out a round of plasticard to represent an Ork tank bomb and squished it into a blob of Milliput vaguely shaped like a squig (a large bump for the body and two legs). Once that was applied, I used some green stuff to restore the patch-work texture to match the rest of the tube.

For the paint work, I got my inspiration from this technique from Da Waaagh. Instead of doing the green+green+green base/highlight/wash I normally do, I wanted to paint the base coat of very light and bleached out colors and then use the new washes and my old inks to tint and shade the skin, clothing and gun until I was happy with the depth.

Here are the work in progress shots:

As you can see the base coat is really white and not very orky at all. But have faith-- washes to the rescue! Also, the model is not assembled in the above pictures, so things are a little skewed.

Here is after the first run of washes and you can see that the color is starting to come out. Two coats of wash were used on the skin and pants. The color is still a little faded for my taste, but you can see some of the nice red-orange-yellow on the pants and brown undertones in the skin.

Overall I really like the difference in skin and style that it will bring. I will probably use this for some of my other HQs and special characters, although I might try to stay closer to the technique posted on Da Waaagh for the next model since I still have a lot of shading to go with Masta Blasta here.


Dakka Painting Challenge - Bump in the Night

It's that time again! I know it's a bit sooner than usual, but we moved it up to coincide with the Halloween season! Be sure to check out all of the details and get in on the fun!


Ork Nob Tutorial, the deuce

Like most things painting related, Thomas beat me to the punch on his Ork Nob Tutorial. He has a great style, and he's ridiculously fast at painting up armies, that it is no wonder he finished his Nob before me. (I think this year I've painted three or four squads, while he probably finished three or armies in the same time.)

My style is a little more traditional and I usually don't do anything innovative. All my skills come from copying others' techniques. Sometimes things turn out same-old, same-old but sometimes I take little techniques from here and there and come up with something pretty cool looking. (I'm just as surprised as anyone when this happens.)

Before I started painting I took a good look at the Nob model. While the level of detail is good, and a huge improvement over the old Macragge push together models, there are a few differences between this Nob and the others in my collection.

First is a metal Nob (left) from the Nob Box set. There is a lot more fine detail on this model than two plastic Nobs, but the size and proportions are very similar to the White Dwarf Nob (middle). The Nob on the right is from the Ork Boyz Box set and suffers from universal Boyz legs. Since his legs come on the accessory sprue, these are the same legs for normal Ork Boyz, and look a little "weedy" in comparison. Otherwise, the detail is good, but is a little angular compared to the metal Nob. (I think the angularity is the result of the plastic or CAD design process, and not part of the style. While the stiches on the metal Nob have an irregular, organic look, the plastic Nob holes look exactly the same.)

The only complaint I have about the White Dwarf Nob is that some of the detail disappears when you rotation the model from front to back. For example, the WD Nob has a stikkbomb clipped to his belt with a round link. But when you turn the model to the side you can see it looks like a cylinder (instead of a round donut shape that a ring should be). From the front it looks great, but as you spin the model it almost looks like something that was made in 2D and converted into 3D. The handle of the stikkbomb has some "webbing" connecting it to the back of the Nob. Look at it from the side, and it looks normal, but turn it around to the back and it just doesn't look as expected. No doubt these artifacts are part of the model making process that makes these guys so cheap to produce. In the end, it really is nit picking, and from a few feet away you'd be hard pressed to notice the difference between the three different Nobz.

All differences aside, I wanted this Nob to match with my current Ork army. Using the same techniques as my Ork horde meant black primer, blank base and lots of dark metal that would match with my Goffs.

First come the base coats in this order: Orkhide Shade, Adeptus Battlegrey, Calthan Brown, Boltgun Metal, Chaos Black and Tin Bitz. After touching up errors, here's what you get:

My Boyz all have black pants and shirts (although I have a few Lootas with brown pants). For the Nob I wanted to try grey pants, to give him a little more detail over the normal troops. It will also help contrast against the black-metal chest and shoulder plates. I used the Chaos Black not just to touch up, but to paint over all of the black primer on areas that I wanted to remain black. I've found the Chaos Black has a little sheen to it, compared to a flat black primer, and this sheen makes for more convincing black metal. You could just use some gloss medium, but since I needed to touch up anyway, it wasn't that much more difficult to repaint all the black.

This step alone took about an hour and 15 minutes, but this is where most of the work is done. Plus at this stage you are painted to a 3-color standard, and sometimes when I am rushing to build a new unit or squad for a tournament, I'll just get to three colors and be good to go.

Next comes the first highlight layer: Knarloc Green, Astronomican Grey, Tausept Ochre and Mirthril Silver.

And now time for the wash: Thraka Green on the skin and Delvin Mud on everything else.

And after that, some final highlights and details to bring it together. Basing is just some Gale Force 9 earth and light brown static grass, to match the rest of my army.

This is the model I submitted to the Waaagh/Bolter and Chainsword painting contest. Zero votes, and rightfully so, there's nothing particularly special about it. Especially compared to the winning entry (although I could have done without the blue stripped pants on that one).

No conversions were allowed in the contest and I wanted to add a power klaw to my Nob, so I did some more work on it. I built the power klaw by scratch from plasticard and tube. I also touched up the metal armor plates, since they didn't turn out black enough for my taste. I also noticed his skin was a little lighter/highlighted compared to the rest of my boys, so I toned it down with another wash of Thraka Green to give it a deep, green glow. With the bosspole, now he's good enough to lead my Boyz into battle.

Total time was about 3 or 3.5 hours, including the PK (which is pretty easy to make), but I did notice I forgot to finish the skull on the bosspole!