Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Showcase: Post Apocalyptic Mystery Gang

I was thinking of putting together a scenario of Scooby-Doo gang vs zombies.

So, I broke out the set of Hasslefree minis I had of the Post-Apoc Gang, and got to work.

I also has a spare Rhino around and threw that in.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Killjoys in 28mm - Step 4: Face the Facts

I hate painting faces.

I especially hate painting eyes.

I'm also not very good at it. I usually have to go back again and again and again to get things right. It's frustrating.

So frustrating that I can't even tell you how I do it.

I will point out a place that has some very good advice; advice that I try to follow.

These guys know what they are doing.  You should just read all of the posts on Reaper's website. Each time I read one, I become a slightly better painter.

Anyway, the Killjoys are coming along, finally. With faced done, I can now start on the
easy part - the rest of the miniature.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Interregnum: Blast from the Past

While cleaning up and reorganizing my workspace, I came across something that I hadn't thought about in a long time - three of the first minis I ever painted.

Then and now
I was twelve. They are from a TSR D&D boxed set, and I painted them with Testors enamel paints. They've been rattling around in the bottom of one of my mini cases for a long time.

It shows me that enamels are pretty tough.

They're the three on the left. The two on the right I painted up last year.

I think there might have been a modicum of improvement, but I'm not yet at the level I want to be.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Killjoys in 28mm - Step 3: In Our Prime

Here are the three minis right out of the padded envelope. Hasslefree does a good job packing their minis to avoid damage during shipment.

After taking them out of their baggies, they are inspected for any damage or miscasting. I look for places where the metal didn't fill the mold as well as flash. These three are very well done, but have the normal amount of flash and mold lines,
Using a sharp blade and some needle files, the flash and mold lines are removed from the minis. After that, the minis are washed in warm water with hand soap, then allowed to dry. This step removes the mold release agents, which can prevent primer from adhering to the metal.

John needs a holster for his handgun. I start by adding a thigh belt using a photo-etched webbing set. This is wrapped around his thigh and super-glued into place. Another piece of webbing is cut and glued from the thigh belt to his shirt, giving the appearance that this is connected to his belt. After drying, a holster from a set of plastic mini accessories it glued to the webbing.

As I'm going to use custom bases for these minis, the slotta-base tabs need to be cut away. Using my red-handled snippers, I carefully cut the tabs from their feet and then file their soles flat.

Using a small bit, holes are drilled through their soles and up their legs. Small pieces of metal paper clips are cut and super-glued into these holes. These pins will allow the minis to be held while painting, and then used to mount them on their custom bases.

The minis are then mounted to the holders that I use while painting. These are made from 1 inch wooden blocks with a half a wine cork glued to them. A small drop of glue is put on each cork and the mini's pins are pushed through the glue into the cork. They aren't pushed flush to the cork to allow room to paint the soles of their shoes.

These miniature holders also have a 1/4 in diameter rare earth magnet countersunk and super-glued into their bottom. This allows me to hang the mini on it's side or even upside-down if need be to allow washes to sink into crevices and folds accurately.

Before priming, I wrap the holders in blue painter's tape to protect the corks from being saturated by the primer spray.

The minis are primed with a spray primer using three light coats. After each spraying, I let them dry for about 15 minutes and check them. If there are any areas that still show bare metal, another light coat is sprayed on. Priming with multiple light coats works better than one heavy coat, and it avoids any chance of the primer running or covering up the detail of the mini.
Once primed, I let them dry for several hours.
Each mini then gets a light primer wash. The bright white primer can make it difficult to see the details of the mini, so a wash is applied lightly with a brush, taking care not to create bubbles. The minis are held upside down so the wash will settle into the bottoms of the folds. Checking them every couple of minutes, the excess is wicked off with a dry brush. After about 10 minutes, they are turned right-side up and allowed to dry for at least an hour.

The three minis are now ready to begin painting. You can see how the wash helps highlight the details of the mini as well as provide some pre-shading.

Monday, March 28, 2016


More information on the techniques, items, tools, and mixes that I use. This page will be an ever changing one, adding additional information as I paint more miniatures.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Interregnum: Stain Painting a Squad on the Double

Not all minis need to be painted to a high detail, especially when you have a squad or two of troops and the game is the next day. Not every paint job needs to take a long time, nor be a masterpiece.

No one wants to field a unit of figures that are wearing bare metal of plastic. As everyone knows, painted minis fight better than unpainted ones, so any paint is better than none. A fast, simple paint job like this stain painting technique will allow you to quickly field a force, yet leave the possibility of further detail later.

These 28mm Ar-Men from Black Hat Miniatures (used as Vargr in my Traveller games) needed a quick painting, and they were done in just six steps.

Vargr pirate crew, ready to plunder!
1. Cleaned the miniature. They were washed in mild soap and water to remove any mold release, then checked for flash and mold lines. Quick work with an x-acto knife took care of that.

2. Primed the minis. I used a white primer and then let them dry for about an hour.

3. Stained the fur.  I used a mixture of 1 part Future Wash, 1 part brown ink, and 2 parts brown paint and just slopped it on the mini's fur with a large brush. I didn't need to be neat at all, I just wanted to cover the primer. This stain coat is like a heavy wash. It will slide off the raised areas of the fur and gather in the recessed folds and cracks giving some basic shading and highlighting. Any that got on the non-fur areas was covered over in the next step. Yeah, it's not as good as a proper job, but it's good in a pinch or if you have a dozen minis to paint. This stain coat was allowed to dry for about an hour.

4. Painted equipment flat black. I then went over each of the figures and painted anything that was not fur with flat black. Guns, belts, armor, helmets. straps, and collars all got a simple, quick coat. I did take a moment to pick out some details on the leader. I quickly painted the collar and belt decoration of the leader in red so I can easily identify him on the tabletop. I didn't take much particular care doing this, just made sure the paint didn't stray. I let them all dry for another hour.

6. Drybrushed with light grey. I grabbed and old, worn out brush and used it to drybrush all over the figures. Fur and equipment got the drybrushing, although I did try to go lightly on the fur and more heavily on the equipment, but it doesn't really matter. This highlighted details as well as gave more definition to the minis overall. You can see details on the guns and equipment as well as the multi-hued fur.

And that's it. Total time, about 6 hours. For most of that time, the minis were merely sitting and drying. Actual painting time was probably 10 minutes per mini. I could use these things on the tabletop and not feel too bad about them at all. From arms length, they look quite acceptable.Yet, if I get the urge, I can return to them and use what I did as a good starting point and give them even more detail.

It's easy to be intimidated when you have a dozen (much less even more) minis to paint before you play a game, but this quick stain painting technique can get you up and fighting in very little time.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Killjoys in 28mm - Step 2: All Your Bases Are Painted By Us

As the actual minis will take a while to arrive from the UK, I decided to go ahead and start on the bases.

But first, a quick diversion regarding quality of painting.

I usually set myself three levels of painting quality: Trooper, Leader, and Showpiece. Trooper-quality is for the masses of minis that I use in wargames. For these, a good base coat with simple highlighting will give the mini a decent look, and allow painting of multiple figures at one. If they look good at arms length, I'm happy.

Leader-quality painting is for more special or unique minis. These are better painted, with more detail, and more careful shading. Most RPG character minis get this level of painting. They look good on the table, and the players are happy with them.

Showpiece-quality painting involves upping everything I do at the Leader level and adds more. I usually customize the mini, modify details, and paint as much detail as I can. I also usually paint a unique and detailed base for the figure.

This is the level I'll be painting the Killjoys at.

There are a number of tools and supplies that any mini painter uses, and like most, I have my favorites. It can be assumed that this is what I generally use. If I use different, I will note when I do.
Pledge Washes
Pledge was called Future
when I made these labels

Primers: Army Painter Undercoat
Paints: Vallejo Paints (my preferred paints)
Inks: Multiple brands, but all water or acrylic based.
Washes: Pledge Floor Care

Yes, floor polish. Why? Pledge (which used to be called Future) is pure, liquid acrylic. Acrylic is what my Vallejo paints are made of. Pledge mixes well and dries to a nice, glossy finish. That six dollar bottle has lasted me for years.

I use two mixtures of Pledge: a pure mixture as it comes out of the bottle (the bottle labeled 'Future'), and a mix of a 1 part Pledge to 1 part distilled water (called Future Wash from here on). All of my washes use these as bases, with inks or paint added as needed.

With supplies gathered and stocks made, it's time to pick the bases.

Usually, I do the traditional mount-the-mini-on-the-base-and-prime (and we'll cover that in a later project), but for the Killjoys, custom bases are a must.

Bases - raw and primed
I decided to go with bases that looked high-tech but without too much clutter. I got these with a copy of Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster. Its a mediocre game with disappointing minis, but the bases were nice and clean and very high-tech looking. I wanted to make them look like they had glowing stripes, fitting the sometimes dark-and-glowing motif of Killjoys.

I picked four of them, cleaned them up (washing off release mode, filing off flash) and primed them black. I let this dry for about an hour.

White, then green wash
I then washed the bases with a mixture of 1 part Gloss White paint, and 2 parts Future Wash. I let it flow into the recessed areas, and carefully, using a dry brush, sopped it up off the raised parts. Then, it dried for about an hour.

The white wash is done first to provide a nice base for the glowing green color. It easily highlights the texture and details of the base and will allow the green glow to show up against the black of the base. I mixed a wash of 1 part green ink, 1 part glow-in-the-dark acrylic paint, and 4 parts of Future Wash. This was slopped onto over the bases, making sure it covered all the white from the previous step. With a dry brush, excess green wash was soaked off the raised areas. The bases were allowed to dry for another hour.

At this point, the bases are looking good, but a bit dull. Some of the ink had dried on the raised parts, and looked like an dull, oily patina. Most of this was removed with a soft cloth damp with pure Pledge. Wiping the bases gently with the cloth dissolved the patina and cleaned it off the base.
Gloss black around the edges, and
moist-brushed on raised areas

Once dried, I painted the rim with gloss black, and did a moist dry-brush over the raised areas. A moist dry-brush is like a dry-brush, but with a bit more paint on it. It deepened the black of the base and increased contrast between the glowing lines and the floor plate details.

After letting this dry for another hour, I painted a coat of pure Pledge on the base. This provides a glossy surface and a protective layer over the glow of the base.

With Pledge wash to seal in glowing
goodness. Officer Testcase seems to approve
Why did I paint four bases instead of three? One base was a test piece. I would do each step on it first to see if the technique would make the bases look they way I wanted. It also gave me a backup if I mess up one of the other bases. If I don't use it, I'll put it away and use it for another miniature later.

After that, the only thing left to do is wait for the minis to come in.