Sunday 27 July 2014

Wrecked Horus Heresy Rhino in Sculpey

With summer well and truly rolling along it's only a matter of months before my local store holds its annual painting competition. You may remember it was this time last year that I started on my Know No Fear diorama, and earlier this year had planned a second Horus Heresy novel cover art diorama based on the Fear to Tread. Much like the book itself, which I have yet to actually finish, the "horrible pink foetus" (as my wife likes to call my work in progress daemon) has yet to move past the sculpey stage and the brass armature on Sanguinius has yet to be covered. Much of this had to do with my excitement in building my Imperial Knight, and I guess the rest can be put down to procrastination, distractions and lots and lots of 7th Ed games. The result? I have reduced the scope of this years entry substantially, and have chosen a different scene, though not from cover art this time.

"The Charosion" are the elite of the Emperor's Children

With excellent opportunity to do some more high contrast painting, relatively easy MkIV armour to scratch build, and a little freehand and object source lighting to tinker with, this artwork jumped out of the pages of the Visions of Heresy at my local Games Workshop. The only problem seemed to be sourcing a MkI Rhino chassis to destroy. Forge World will happily sell you a version of it and eBay seems full of them if you are happy to pay almost as much again for postage and (probably) import duty at the border. But why pay for the whole thing if you're only going to use half? This was my lazy Sunday challenge, and I am quite happy with the results.

I started with my usual Aluminium Foil armature for bulking out the Sculpey cheaply and quickly, which also serves as an opportunity to correct any scale issues without wasting clay and avoids the possibility of large chunks of clay splitting or cracking as they bake. Anything bigger than a 28mm torso should always be supported in some fashion using a non flammable material (plastic is definitely not oven friendly). Not having a model to base it off, I used a variety of sources including my own Rhino model (knowing that earlier versions are much smaller). Scale wasn't such an issue for me as I wasn't going to be gaming with the model.

A new addition to my materials list is "Sculpey Firm" which I have been trying to track down for ages, as it keeps sharper edges and you can spot things like fingerprints before you bake, unlike "Sculpey Original" that has a translucent edge which hides all sorts of imperfections until you start painting. I found this out most annoyingly when I started painting my Blood Angels sculpture earlier in the year.

Where I did use some leftover "Sculpey Original" was on the base, which I knew I was going to be covering in extra details. The artwork itself gives me a little bit of freedom on this regard, and I will have to balance out the number of bodies vs scenery details as the project continues. I also used this split in baked clay surfaces to allow the rhino to be removed from the base for painting and further assembly. It's at this point I was going to leave it and work on the marines, but the different colours of the materials was hiding the full sense of the diorama so I went one step further and decided to undercoat the model using my new airbrush (more on that soon). After a base-coat I took the time to lighten the central focal point of the model, simulating the effect the final paint scheme should have in drawing the viewer's eye and gauging whether the basic scratch build has enough detail to continue with.

Success! With only about half the detail I would have put into a table top scratch built model I have managed to convey a sense of the MkI Rhino details and the damage sustained. The top and sides are lacking in detail but will have models and scenery obscuring the awkwardly sculpted areas. Any further work will be done in green stuff or similar two part resins to prevent melting the plastic areas. With about two hours of work, and ten minutes with the airbrush, I am very happy with the results. You can see the magnetised door and removable chassis in the photo below.

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Photo Post: X-Wing Repaints, or "How I joined the Dark Side"

Greetings, yes I have been off the map a little for various reasons, but over half of my modelling time of late has been spent playing games of 7th edition 40k (which I am absolutely loving, best edition ever), and trying out a few games of Fantasy Flight's X-Wing Spaceship Battle Game.

Star Wars! Lasers in Space! Pew Pew!

I must admit, I am not a Star Wars enthusiast. I didn't know any rebel ships other than X wings or A wings existed, nor did I know the elaborate back story involved in choosing the individual tone of blue-gray for each of the TIE fighters from each specific movie. So throwing all this aside, I set out to repaint all my Imperial models in the one shade! Taking the opportunity to use my new airbrush, i chose a light, high contrast GW grey and set to work. A simple wash and drybrush later and I'm ready for my next game.

Light on the left, dark on the right??

I really love the higher contrast cockpit as compared to the original paint scheme. I also added in a gloss finish to the black, a little bit of blue glow to the engine, and limited the red stripes to the hull rather than the solar paneling (I think that's what it is?). One thing's for sure, painted models roll better, so let's hope re-painted ones perform exceptionally!

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Land Raider WIP 1: Shading with Two Brush Blending and Glazes

This post is a little word heavy, and was initially a step-by-step of painting my Land Raider, but I felt inclined to share with you all some of my newer experiments with glazes, blending, and so on. I am a bit overwhelmed at the moment with so many new models and rules coming out so quickly for the game I love, Warhammer 40,000, that I am finding it hard to stick to one project as I seem to paint quite glacially compared to the release schedule! If you are feeling the same way I encourage you to read MASSIVE VOODOO's excellent article on Motivation.

After the success of turning a very spiky piece of plastic into the Land Raider of my dreams I set about putting brush to model, which is always a slightly daunting task for large tank like this and especially so given I wanted to try some of my  newer techniques and equipment. Adding to my previously expanded glaze collection is now a small set of P3 Paints and much larger Size 2 and 3 brushes, both of which will come in handy when attempting smooth blends on the larger surfaces.

The base-coated Land Raider has been front and centre of most of my 7th Edition games!

For those of you not following along from the beginning of my blogging adventures, I started out like most Games Workshop hobby enthusiasts with a mix of layering, washing, and dry-brushing which I was still using less than two years ago. Following on from the success of James Wappell's Kickstarter (which I did not 'back' but instead followed his blog very closely for many months asking key questions and attempting a few techniques on small areas at a time), I added glazing to my repertoire and added a lot more depth to my last "large" model, a Leman Russ Exterminator. James' explanations and techniques involve starting quite light with your basecoat, adding the highlights and then shading down with glazes, but in reality he does return to highlights and shading further as the painting progresses. You can see my finished attempt at this on my completed Leman Russ. I strayed a little into pigments, but this was also around the time when James was attempting to paint entire models using them (!), but I stuck to the shading and weathering for my part.

Base coat only, using an Army Painter spray can.

Recently I took a class where Meg Maples explained it is easier to shade first and then highlight afterwards, if only for the fact you can re-touch the base coat much easier after shading before moving on to highlights. This is true for her "two brush blending" where you can easily re-touch with a specific colour, but not so once multiple shaded layers have been built up using different glazes and the possibility of fixing areas with a "normal"colour is out of the question. With ease of "touch ups" a must on such a large model as my Land Raider, I have decided to start my model using normal acrylics, and then moved on to glazes afterwards.

Two Brush Blending the shadows using a P3 paint.

Starting with a simple shade of Sanguine Base from the Privateer range, applied using Meg's technique, I was already happy with the results, and only a minor touch up was required here and there. As a rule of thumb I have tried to avoid using pure black for my shading, so the choice of dark red retained the warmth of the base coat while hinting at shaded areas rather than actually creating a shadow. As previously mentioned, Meg also described warm colours as being brought "forward" by the eye, and cooler colours being "recessed", perfect for further shading in the next few steps.

Who can resist a little weathering using the new GW techincal paints?

As a pre-cursor to future glazes I chose to add the darkest of dirt, grit, and paint chips at this stage. Having had great success testing the new GW red glaze on a Rhino and finding it excellent in flattening the colour gradients from both the darkest black chips and lightest orange highlights to a more mid-tone across the whole model, I wanted the darkest damage and dirt to show through the other stages, rather than being painted on last as with previous models.

A more "cool" blue was the main component of the multi-coloured glaze shading at this stage.

I should at this point apologise for the rushed photos, I had planned to do only one side of the tank in all the stages and photograph them in quick succession with a near even natural light source, but the desire to work on the whole tank got the better of me. I will leave the "half painted" tank style to the Eavy Metal team ;)

As you can hopefully see above, after a fair amount of two brush blending, chip painting and dirt applying I felt the need to shade further, this time with three glazes (red, blue, green) mixed together to create a rather blue/gray colour which worked well against the warm red tones already on the model. I used a similar mix when shading my Necrons, though I am itching to try the new two brush blending on them for a smoother highlight. Of note was the addition of the second brush (thanks Meg!) to make the glaze a lot more even, and in only my second attempt at taking a video of myself while painting, I thought this step important enough to share with you all.

As you can see, the main benefit of applying a glaze in this way is to create a smooth shade and transition with minimal time spent blending, and none of the difficulty in non-glaze feathering across a large surface which I have not yet been able to master. On smaller models a slower and more meditated approach certainly helps but with many more touch ups, highlights and red glazes, not to mention weathering and freehand to go on this model, I am not concerned by how precisely I am pushing the paint around. 

A dark brown wash helps pick out the details.

The last step in my initial shading process is the use of a wash to pick out the grooves in the armoured plating. Unlike a glaze which covers as much or little as you apply it to a surface, irrespective of its shape and texture (to a certain degree), a wash is designed to pool in the recesses and is a very easy way of shading. In this case I apply is quite liberally and wipe of the excess across the flat surface, leaving a few streaks behind. You can see a little of this in the photo above, but I will also be using a red paint similar to the base colour to touch up areas before moving on to the highlights.

At this stage I am torn between metallic or non metallic work on the weapons, tracks and so on, however I will probably move on to the highlights and finish the red armour before returning to the other parts of the model. Wish me luck!