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Friday, October 14, 2016

Those Warlike Lads of Russia...

Hello again,
Just a quick one. As I mentioned before I have started playing Sharp Practice 2 for Napoleonic skirmish games. The rules are a lot of fun and that has got me motivated to get back to painting some Napoleonics.
These stoic chaps have been on my painting table for over a year sitting about 80% done. So I put in a couple of days to finally finish them off.

I give you the 1st battalion, New Ingermanland infantry regiment.


All the miniatures are Perry Miniatures plastics. They are lovely figures!

With this finished battalion I now have three complete battalions and a couple of artillery pieces and limbers completed. On the painting table I have another battalion at about 30% complete plus a unit of Russian Dragoons which I'm looking forward to painting.

I am still a long way off getting in a game of Black Powder with these chaps but Sharp Practice will keep me busy until then.

Oh after taking the photos I realized that I had attached the regiment flag upside down Doh!
Anyway I have spare flags so it was easily fixed.

Flags are by GMB designs by the way.


BTW if you're interested in the reasoning behind the title of this blog post check this out:

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Ack! Ack! Ack! ( We come in Peace!)

We it has taken me nearly two years but I have finally got some paint on these Martians.

The Mantic Mars Attacks Martians are really nice miniatures that paint up very nicely however there are a couple of issues with them.

Firstly the Martians are made from a soft plastic type material that is called Restic (resin/plastic?)
This material is a bit of a pain to work with. Firstly when you look at the unpainted figure you may see bent rifles and warped bases which will not straighten no matter how much you try and bend them back. This is actually quite easy to fix.

You get two bowls of water, one holding boiling water and the other ice water. Using some pliers hold the figure in the boiling water for about 30 seconds. Then take it out of the water and using your fingers straighten rifles,bases etc. anything that is warped. The plastic has a memory in it and will easily bend back to the position it was in when originally injection moulded.
Then when satisfied with the final position (don't take too long) dunk the figure in ice water to set the plastic. You can do this several times until you are satisfied that everything is straight and in their original positions.

The next step in preparing the models for painting is removing the flash from the moulding process.
This was when the issues with restic material really stand out. Now generally with white metal figures or hard plastic i.e.. polystyrene, removing flash is a fairly straight forward process. Most of the flash can be removed by scraping the flash with the side of a scalpel blade. Any stubborn flash (particularly on metal) can be removed with a little filling using a small needle file.

Restic flash cannot be easily removed. You cannot scrap the flash off because the material tends to burr and not easily slide off. You also cant file the material as you end up with a rough finish.
The only way to remove the flash is to carefully slice it off with a scalpel blade. You have to be very careful to cut off the flash without cutting away part of the model. The scalpel blade must be really sharp to do this. Needless to say that this process can take a lot of time because the martians actually did have a fair amount of flash on then.

So after I had cursed and complained for an hour or so my miniatures were now straight and flash free and ready for undercoating. There appears to be some residual mould release coating on the miniature that can cause the undercoat not to adhere to the surface so you should clean the miniatures in warm soapy water with a gentle scrub of an old toothbrush.

Once dry I applied the undercoat. For this I used Vallejo undercoat medium applied with a brush.
I applied two coats and ended up with a nice grey base coated miniature. I almost never undercoat my miniatures in black anymore. Black obscures the detail and wrecks light colours. I used to use Black so I could get the black outline effect on my miniatures but I find that is easily achieved with a wash of Games Workshop Agrax Earthshade instead.

Below is the paints I used to paint my Martians. Most are Vallejo (excellent paints) with a couple of GW paints including the most important, the Agrax Earthshade wash which I use in about 99% of my painting these days.

The painting process was fairly straightforward. A nice neat straight paint job. No shading our highlights at all. Give the whole miniature a wash with Agrax Earthshade and when dry go back with the original colour and paint the highlights. Sometime I add just a little white to the base colour to give a final highlight.

Spray the whole figure with matt varnish spray  (I use Testors which is the best IMO) and then when it is dry you can attach the clear helmets. You will need to use PVA glue to attach the helmets. If you use styrene model glue or super glue you will fog up the helmets and ruin the effect.

Its time for you to die puny human!  Ack! Ack! Ack!!!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Ice Ice Baby! (building Frostgrave terrain part two)

Back again! :)

In this post we will continue with our Frostgrave terrain making extravaganza!

Previously we had got to the stage of firing up the hot wire cutter and got stuck into some polystyrene foam to produce our first ruined wall section. We had sculpted in the detail and glued the foam wall to a piece of MDF.

While you were away I got a bit carried away with the wire cutter and this is what I produced...

Virtually all this terrain was built employing the same basic process we covered in part one. However there are a couple more tips you can use to add further complexity to the pieces. 

Some of my pieces have a second floor, or form right angles like the corner of some ruined building. To do this you will need to join pieces of polystyrene foam together. For this I normally use PVA glue or Liquid nails as before, but the most important addition is toothpicks. You take a standard toothpick (the slightly thicker type with a point at each end) and snap it in half. You now push the toothpick pointy end first into the foam to "pin" the two pieces together. I normally use several on each join. Once the toothpick is in the foam, use a tool like the reverse end of a pencil to push the end of the bit of toothpick still sticking out further into the foam to hide it.

Adding the toothpicks adds strength to the join and enables you to continue modelling without having to wait for the glue to dry.

Now we can move onto the next steps: applying texture to the base, painting, and finally applying the snow flock.

MDF is a wonderful material to use in your terrain making projects. Its quite cheap and easy to work with. However it can have some issues that you need to be aware of. The 3mm thick MDF board is very prone to warping when painted. I have had many terrain project ruined by the wood warping after applying PVA glue or paint.

So I have always been on the lookout for a texture medium that could be applied safely to MDF. The answer was... acrylic window caulking. This material is the wargamer's wonderstuff! You can use it for so many things. It is acrylic, so can be painted, or easily mixes with acrylic paints to make different colours. It is flexible (you can make excellent flexible roads with it) and because it's designed for sealing house windows it doesn't shrink. Because it doesn't shrink it won't cause the MDF board to warp.

For my texturing mix I take an old container (old ice cream tubs are good for this) and squeeze out a tube of caulking. I would normally use a brown coloured caulking but you can add acrylic craft paints to the mix to get the desired colour. I add a handful of fine sand and then some larger grit that I bought from a hobby store that sells model Railway terrain. Wooland Scenics is the brand and the product is called railway ballast. I then add a little water to make the mix a little bit more runny and to help with the mixing.  You can now apply this mixture to the base of your ruined wall section completely covering the MDF. You will now need to leave the mix to dry overnight.

A nice detail to add to your pieces is rubble. Earlier we used the left over pieces of foam to make larger pieces of rubble, but to make some general smaller rubble I use some cheap kitty litter. I mix some kitty litter with the texture paste and apply it next to the walls to simulate smaller rubble. This can then be handed painted grey after it's dry.

It's now time to paint our foam ruins. Now for painting all my terrain projects I use cheap acrylic artist paints. Sometimes, if I want to cover a very large area, I will go and get a cheap tin of acrylic paint from the hardware store tinted to the colour I need. To cover these ruins I would use this approach as we have a lot of ruins to paint!

The other option is to use spray paint. Spray painting polystyrene foam is a great way to destroy your foam! The solvents in spray paint will dissolve foam. Remember the acid eating through the floor scene in the film Aliens? That was done with polystyrene foam and acetone!

However I have recently come across a new spray paint that uses alcohol derived from sugarcane as the solvent. This paint does not dissolve the foam. In Australia the brand I found is called "Sugar". Google "Sugar spray paint" and you should find it. Not sure about an overseas supplier but some Google Fu may find a similar product. The colour range is pretty good and luckily they had both a darker and lighter shade of grey for my ruins.

If you are going to spray your foam I would apply the texture mix after spraying the foam otherwise it will also end up grey.

A gave all the foam a solid coating of dark grey and then after this was dry a light dusting with the light grey. If you are painting by hand I would start with a dark grey and then progressively lighten the stone work with dry brushing with lighter grey shades.

You can see the kitty litter rubble in this picture.

So after all this work we will have a series of nicely painted and textured terrain pieces ready for gaming. But wait! This is Frostgrave, and what do we need for Frostgrave? Snow of course!

The snow I use is made by Woodland Scenics and comes in one litre jars. It is not very expensive (it's amazing how much wargame companies charge for a small bit of snow flock!) , maybe $20-25 per jar which is just as well because we will use a lot of it!

The first thing I do when applying the snow is to make the snow drifts. These are the piles of snow that accumulate next to walls,on ledges, and in the corners of ruins. The snow needs to be thicker in these areas so I make up a paste consisting of undiluted PVA glue, white acrylic paint and the snow flock. You can add a little water to aid with the mixing. You want a mix that is the consistency of thick porridge. You can now apply this to the terrain pieces with an icy pole stick and then leave it to dry overnight. It will shrink a little once dry, but you can always add more to get the look you want.

We now reach the final step and this will take the longest time to finish. You need to buy a cheap spray water bottle (Cheap because you are probably going to ruin it when you're finished!) and then make up a dilute PVA/ water mix. It needs to be the consistency of thin milk. Spray your entire terrain piece. Really saturate the base area. Now sprinkle snow flock over the entire piece. Leave it for half an hour and then tap off the excess snow. Collect this snow to reuse. You now need to leave the piece to dry (normally overnight). 

The next day repeat the whole process but this time mainly concentrating on the base area. Keep repeating until you are satisfied with the final look. This may take several days. To finish give the whole piece one final coat of the PVA mix to seal the model.

After you are finished on each day, give your spray bottle a good rinse out with water and spray lots of water through the nozzle otherwise the glue will dry and block the nozzle.

So there you have it! Following this process you will quickly produce a great set of cheap Frostgrave terrain. You could easily use the same technique for Stalingrad ruins for WWII gaming or futuristic gothic terrain for 40K or Warmachine.

One final tip before I go. Woodland Scenics make a product called water effects. It's a thick white paste that you can apply using an old brush and with the brush you can tease out peaks to represent icicles. When dry the water effects dries clear and you have some cool looking icicles.

See you soon for the final chapter!

Bye for now.