Wargaming Tradecraft: August 2010

Cleaning Your Brushes

Sometimes brushes just get stiff and unwieldy. Other times it's due to dried paint or other things dried in the bristles. Usually this will be stuff missed during cleaning at the base where the bristles attach to the handle, but sometimes because you may have forgotten to clean your brush.

Don't fret, because all is not lost! Take a jaunt down to your local art store and look for some brush cleaner. You might also find it at hobby or surplus stores. I haven't found much difference in brands and there's plenty to choose from - you'll probably be limited to what's available. You could even try dish soaps and plastic friendly model strippers, but it won't work as well as real stuff.

You're also going to need a plastic surface, preferably with a rim. An old paint lid works great.

  • Dip
    1. Dip your bristles into the cleaner, just past the metal, and then remove it.
      Don't dip past the metal - I've found some cleaners will even eat the paint off the handle of your brush, leaving you to get tacky paint all over your hands.
      Always remove the brush after dipping - don't soak it in the cleaner. It might eat right through what holds the bristles in place.
    2. With the brush out of the cleaner, let it sit for a few minutes so that the cleaner on the brush will start it's job.
      As you repeat steps, you'll probably want to let it sit less. A brief soak helps to loosen things at first, but motion will help more to get the last of it out.
  • Step 1 - Swirl
    This loosens up whatever's stuck in the bristles.
    1. Swirl just the tip of the brush on your plastic surface.
    2. As the bristles become more pliable, widen the swirls and apply more pressure so that more of the bristles are bending. Think of it as painting large ovals.
    3. Turn the brush as you do to apply pressure from different angles.
  • Clean
    1. Wipe the brush on a wet paper towel. You'll notice some colour comes off.
      *Don't dip the brush in your normal water pot, to ensure the cleaner doesn't mix in.
  • Dip
  • Step 2 - Brush
    This will work the cleaner deeper into the brush and start applying pressure into where the bristles attach to the handle.
    1. On your plastic surface, wipe the brush back and forth as if your were painting long lines.
    2. As the bristles become more pliable, apply more pressure.
    3. Turn the brush as you do to apply pressure from different angles.
  • Clean and Dip
  • Step 3 - Scrape
    This will clean off the outside stuff that's caked onto the bristles.
    1. Being careful to not abuse the bristles, brush the bristles against the corner of the rim of your plastic surface. Place the top of the bristles where it connects to the handle against the rim and pull the brush along the rim to the tip
      A smooth but rough surface is also good for rubbing along the outside of the brush. Sand paper would be too rough, but some plastic containers have ridges. A textured gel could also create a good surface to rub the brush along.
    2. Repeat, turning the brush to rub each side along the rim.
  • Clean
  • Repeat all the steps above as necessary.
    • If you notice one working better than the others, stick with it a few times. You'll probably find the brush will quickly give off colour, but will take some repetition to get rid of all the stiffness.
  • Thoroughly clean the brush with water and wipe on a paper towel.
    • You don't want to leave anything behind to continue eating away at the brush.

They won't be good as new, but they'll certainly be usable.
This can slowly eat at the glue holding the bristles in - sometimes you can only clean a brush so many times.

Weekly Update

Well, to start off this has been a great week of Games Day goodness and travelling / vacationing. But now I'm back to the grind, having to catch up on things and go about the usual.

You guys and gals almost got a new blog - I do lots of crazy techie stuff between work and play and attempted to rebuild a Dell power adapter. I was going to document it and launch a tech blog with the odd hard / impossible to find tips I develop. Before tinkering with this thing, I tried reproducing the hissing / buzzing noises it was making by wiggling the cords for the adapter... suddenly it created a small fireball, singe-ing my thumb. (Fireball is actually the best way to describe it - because it WAS a fireball) We have two exact same power supplies, both doing the same thing... and now we have a 3rd coming from eBay because I'm not attempting the rebuild the other one after that. (whoever designed these made a mess of the electrical isolation) Soooo, yeah... that's Dell for ya - good thing it didn't happen while sitting on something flammable, or a more delicate part of my body.

Took some R&R after Games Day this weekend and beat Borderlands - woo! Anyways, that inspired this project.

I've also photographed a couple tutorials which will be coming in the next few days as I type them up. Work has also begun on building / photographing a water effects tutorial, so stay tuned!

Also came across this nifty page that contains a colour chart of Games Workshop's Citadel paint names with colours: http://www.phoenixforge.com.au/g/33117/citadel-colour-chart.html

Step by Step - Crimson Lance Space Marine

Well, post Games Day required some R&R and the wife and I beat a great game called Borderlands. This involves kicking the butts of an army of troops called the Crimson Lance.

I decided that in order to get back into the groove of painting, I'd take some Space Marines and paint them up the colours of some of the Crimson Lance from the game.

(Photo, in order from left to right - Crimson Lance Infantry, Engineer, Royal Guard, Defender)

All models started with a black primer base coat.

The below photos appear to have blending and shading not mentioned in the steps. At each step I use the colours listed but mix with water so I'm just lightly layering the paint on. After multiple strokes of each colour it gets stronger and stronger, making it appear to have blended from it's black base coat.

Primary Armour - Fortress Grey
Secondary Armour - Mechrite Red
Boots, Face, Misc Details - Charcoal Grey (non-Citadel, but can be mixed with Fortress Grey and Black)
Gun - Tau Sept Ochre
Secondary Armour - Shadows with Red Gore
Secondary Armour - Highlights with a mix of Red Gore + Elf Flesh
Boots, Face, Misc Details - Mix of Charcoal with Fortress Grey
Everything - Badab Black Wash

I don't normally do a full black wash, usually choosing complimentary colours, but Borderlands Crimson Lancers have a dark look to them.
Primary Armour - Fortress Grey Highlight
Secondary - Mechrite Red Highlight
Tertiary - Charcoal + Fortress Grey Highlight.
Primary Armour - Skull White highlight
Secondary Armour - Mechrite + Elf Flesh highlight
Gun - Bubonic Brown highlight.
Everything - Liquitex Matte Varnish

The base was coated in a mix of white glue and water (above 2 or 3 glue to 1 part water) then dipped in a bag of sand.

Nothing fancy, I know, but an insight into how I blend by always having a wet brush while painting.

Also, the shield worn by the Lance Defender is simply:
- A miniature's paper backing
- A slice with a knife on each side (not through) so it bends
- 3 more strips of the same paper backing.
- Painted.

Golden Demon Retrospective

As I mentioned in my previous post, no, my minis didn't win the Golden Demon, but they did make the first cut, which in itself is exciting!

However, for anyone thinking of entering the contest another year (or any contest for that matter) here are a few things I think make the Golden Demon winners stand out from the rest of us:

Things I did wrong - My wraithlord had some areas that were a little rough due to the crazy posing I did. Also, my style is a little bold, with evident streaking at times. This is more of an art "look" rather than a "real life" look. Golden Demon is more about incredible realistic paint jobs.

Things they did right -

First off, faces. Faces are an opportunity to show off some serious detail and really bring models to life. This goes well beyond letting a wash fill in the lines and highlighting. You need to make the face come alive with clean highlights and shadows done in a tiny area. I can't imagine creating detail that small, but I know I'm going to have to figure it out, since I've got some faces in my Space Hulk set.

Secondly, shading. I'm not sure if these guys washed anything. The shading was an incredible continuous blend from shadow to highlight with no visible steps of colour. We're talking grade A natural paint jobs.

Light sources also looked natural. As if the light on the model / scene was coming from a specific location and all parts of the model were shaded appropriately. This goes beyond just shading and highlighting. This means that if the light source were above the model, all shadows and highlights are where they should be. (Aka, look at anybody in real life and see where shadows belong, instead of just shading cracks and crevices)

What was something the Golden Demon models had in common? Character - they seemed to have a life to them. This usually meant some form of action shot or mid-motion freeze-frame, but sometimes just simply a life of their own. Generally speaking, while you can take any model and paint it, something that'll make it stand out is how alive does the model look?

Take a look here to see what I'm talking about. The first three are the winners of the 40k Single Model. All your questions about what makes a winner will be answered.

Finally, I'm kicking myself for not asking the judges for tips for next year and comments on my figures. (It was a little crazy in there at the end) But I think personally, my Terminator stood out really nicely in the cabinet. I'm not saying I should have won, I just want to point something out to anyone entering this contest:
When I looked into most cabinets, everything was very dark. This is certainly the style of Warhammer and 40k, but when everyone you're competing with paints their models in that dark style, something to make yours stand out from the rest can't hurt.

View all of the 2010 North American Games Day winners and first cuts here:

Games Day 2010 - The Event

This post is a late due to lame hotel internet, but Charm City Baltimore, the City of Charm. If there was one word to describe the people here, it would be "Charming". (except drivers.. wow were they crazy) But seriously, what a day!

There was so much to see, so much to do, everyone was friendly, (GW employees and visitors alike) and the wife (Kith) and I both had a blast! We started the event by dropping off my Golden Demon entries, (see them here) then lining up with everyone else. GW employees were carting around small tables to introduce people to their other systems. When the hordes were finally allowed in, we hit up the store first for some cheap figures and the Games Day mini of the year. A really cool attraction this year was the Carnival of Chaos - chaos themed carnival games.. Ball toss of Khorne, Discs of Tzeentch frisbee toss, etc. Kith won herself a Warhammer trapper keeper in the name of Khorne.

After the store we joined in the group painting project. Basically, every roughly 15 minutes another group of people add a layer of paint to the same pieces of terrain, being told each round what they should be painting that time. Following that, we wandered some and took some photos:

We decided to sit for a while and did the speed demon painting competition (1 hour to paint a hobbit) followed by the conversion contest. (1 hour to create something on a mounstrous creature base using an unlimited amount of chaos marine/fantasy/possessed/spawn sprues that you get to keep) Painting a model in an hour is hard... especially with giant non detail brushes and paint in various forms of disrepair. It was neat painting under pressure though, but I couldn't get in the final highlighting that I needed to do. In the conversion contest, the judges pulled out the runners, but Kith's had to stand still because the glue was still drying... slowly we realized that as they looked at the considerations, they were also craning their necks to look at hers...and what'd'ya know - Kith won the round! I think she had her first truely girly 40k moment and was incredibly surprised!

(Mine are on the left, Kith's on the right)

We breaked for lunch and came back to check the Golden Demon room - see where they were in the judging and check out all the other entries. The entries I was up against were really strong. There's certainly some incredible painters out there - however, both of my models made the first cut! Judging was already over, so I didn't make Gold, Silver or Bronze, but to see my models up there just blew me away!

The afternoon brought some more wandering and we tossed some Discs of Tzeentch

Finally, we ended with terrain Make and Take (woo, free terrain) using GW industrial and cathedral premade sets. I think it has sold me on their official plastic glue. It seems much stronger now than the Testors Brand I've been using, though gets a little irritating to use when it gets low. The other neat thing about their terrain is they handed out plastic card bases - this allowed their terrain to glue right to their base! (They also gave me another piece so I could create a second story, which also glued right on top)

The terrain building ran into the Golden Demon award ceremony but we still made most of it. (Though at the rear of the crowd)

This was also a mini vacation for us, and we stayed until Tuesday. There's plenty to do in Baltimore and we took in the city, Fells Point, EA Poe's grave, National Aquarium, a tiny record store in some guy's back room down an alley way and even took a hop over to the Washington Zoo and drove past Congress, the Washington Monument and the White House.

Games Day 2010 - Prequel

As I've been mentioning and I'm sure many of you are aware, Games Day is this weekend!

My wife and I will be there, wandering and taking all the sights in. This is something I've wanted to do since I was a little kid, and Games Workshop up and cancelled their Canadian Games Day this year... well boo, but we're going to Baltimore! There will be plenty other things for us to do on this mini-vacation, including the National Aquarium, amphibious tours, and maybe snapping a photo outside Charm City Cakes.

I'll be the guy with glasses in a black Pure Pwnage Thirteen Thirty Seven t-shirt looking wide-eyed at all the amazing stuff. We won't be playing because I'm sure there will be plenty of other stuff going on that gaming would just eat up valuable time, but I think we might try our hand at the speed painting and/or modding competitions.

I'll be entering my Harlequin Wraithlord and Space Hulk Terminator. Decided against entering my Chaos base because not only is it large and I don't want to deal with it, but this is more of a miniature competition than a terrain competition, even if there is an "open" category. Do I expect to win? Nope. Did I put a ton of effort (see: hundreds of hours) in anyways? Of course. If I'm going to Games Day, I'm going to enter something and I'm going to make sure it's good enough to enter. BUT number one, we're going for the experience and making a trip out of it while we're there.

The Wraithlord is finished! Finally! And I did some touch ups to the Terminator as well as painting his Space Hulk name on the base. I did actually varnish them to protect the paint even though I'd sworn off Varnish for the number of my models it's ruined - and this stuff looks great. (More on Varnish at a later date)

And here they are:

Eldar Harlequins - The Storytellers

In preparation for my Games Day post that will include a photo of my Harlequin Wraithlord, here's a little about my other Harlequins.

eBay can be a wonderful place, and some time ago I found a whole box of the original Harlequins for dirt cheap. I began by staring at the primed white models trying to decide how to paint them. I'd already done a few in typical Harlequin fashion: bright colours, diamonds, clashing styles, etc. I've seen some people do Batman villains, the Joker being the obvious Troupe Leader. But I wanted something to make them stand out from other styles. While comic heroes look good, they don't exactly mesh within an army... and the typical Harlequin is what everyone else does.

So here is my master plan:

Eldar Harlequins traverse the webways that connect the universe. Hidden paths woven through reality that bridge Eldar craftworlds and planets. They're historians, lore keepers and the storytellers. Harlequins will show up before a battle and use their dances to tell the great stories of the galaxies, before using the same dances on the battlefield to bring a swift and bloody death to their enemies.

My Harlequins are actually going to be these storytellers, and as far as I can tell, nobody else has done it.
I've got a great range of most (if not all) of the old classic Harlies. I've gone through them and sorted who'll get painted like what race. From all the Chaos gods (including Malal) to the imperium of man and the xenos to the Dark Ones and Exodites.

Each figure will have a little of their race or faction painted into them. For example, my Imperial Harlequin has different types of camo on his clothes, is weilding the black red-lined gloves of a commissar and a golden mask for the Emperor himself. The Orc is basically an orc, though he is also wearing the red and yellow of the more famous tribes. Others like the Dark Angels and Ultramarines are representing a specific faction, so the whole model is painted as such. I'll go into more detail on each Harlequin fig in their description as I paint and post them.

The effect on the battlefield will be squads of Harlequins re-enacting famous clashes. A unit could be comprised by a force of the Imperium of Man, another by their Xeno enemies. Alternatively, Chaos Gods could be mixed with Eldar sub races in a single squad.

Another note, as you can't tell from the pics, is how I made the bases:
They're covered in chopped up mirror shards, silver sand and a little fake snow. (The clear stuff, not the white stuff) The effect of all this together is a great display of colour shards, reflected light and mangled visages depending on the angle you're looking at them and where the light in the room is.

Weekly Update

Not much more to say than last week. I've just been pounding away at my Wraithlord for Games Day. Finally at the glue and touch-up stage.

My Dungeoneer tutorial made From The Warp's Tuesday Top 10 (brought to you by Ryan) this past week, and a lot of people checked it out. I hope they can use what they read, though more feedback would let me know what you guys and gals think!

I still have a few tutorials started - lunch breaks make great typing time. Don't worry, once Games Day is over I'm going to actually start taking photos for these and posting them. The big tutorial is all about creating fake water - lots of different ways. There's also going to be a small one on Green Stuff and a Painting tutorial on Blending, both theory and practical.

I've also setup Feedburner on my RSS feed, so you may notice it looks a little different, maybe a little cleaner. It also lets me see how many people are following my blog through the feed. So, to those of you following, thanks!

Anyways, check back soon for a post on my Games Day plans.

Weekly Update

Another week down, another closer to Games Day 2010!

I hate diamonds.

I'm nearing completion of my Harlequin Wraithlord and I've picked out the final colours I needed to figure out. Now, it's just the last slog to get done. Must focus. I'm done with the diamonds though, and I'm pretty sure a count would put them around 100 few millimeter sized hateful squares.

I got out a few tutorials this week, and took a break from concentrating on the Wraithlord to do a Dungeoneer for a Dungeons and Dragons game. I shouldn't have, but I find that when spending so much time on a single model, a distraction model is required from time to time. I do hope to get some responses on my post about what motivated you to choose or change your army.

One thing I found while doing the Dungeoneer tutorial is that I have got to come up with a better method of creating tutorials in Blogger. It's image inserting is fine for a pic here or there, but ugly for lots of pictures, requiring much editing of HTML, rather than using design view. Perhaps I'll have to upload photos to Picasa separately and use Dreamweaver or something to write my posts and copy the HTML over. (Amusing aside - looks like Google Chrome's built in spell checker detects it's own Google Picasa as being spelled wrong)

If you haven't already, please show your support and hit the link on the right to Follow me, not just join my RSS. I'm posting for you guys and gals, and not only would I like to know who's interested in what I'm doing, but I'd love some feedback on what you think and I'll gladly respond to any questions I receive.

Step by Step - Dungeoneer

Below I'll outline the steps I took to create the newest member of my Dungeons and Dragons character family. This is actually a model of a Cygnar Trencher Master Gunner from Privateer Press' War Machine series, with some slight modifications - goes to show even sci-fi models work in fantasy.


Here he is, right out of the package. The first thing we need to do is a little modification.
  • It's difficult to take a picture of this, so I didn't, but you must inspect the model for mold lines. Usually they'll be up his sides. Don't forget between his legs too. Scrape all these lines off with a knife. Some people suggest a file, but I find that leaves things rougher.
  • The character is intended for a fantasy setting, so the gun has to go. In this case, the gun was barely touching his thigh, so a removal is possible. Using fine wire cutters, remove the gun from his hand and thigh.
  • The arm attaches with a keyhole shape. Cut the square part off, leaving a circle, which allows you to attach the arm in any direction.
  • Using an old Skaven shield I had in my bitz box, I make the planks more defined by cutting away from the circle it used to be in. I actually use a dentist pick to easily scrape these sections away.
  • Swords always seem to come with blunt blades. First, I scrape both sides of the business end to sharpen it, then cut scratches in it to add some wear..
  • His right shoulder pad had a crest on it, which I didn't want, so I cut, then scraped it off. (Careful of fingers here)
  • As a final touch, I cut scrapes and scratches into his armour and coat in various places to add wear and weathering.
  • Glue the model to the base.
  • Use some white stick-tack to position the parts how you want them to see if you have any other modding to do. (Blue tack is oily and leaves residue on your model, creating a poor painting base)

  • Fill his base with a self-cracking putty from a hobby store. (Michaels)
  • Wait for it to dry, notice how it crackles.
  • The putty didn't stick to the base, so I placed some drops of super glue around the base, then added a few drops of water. You can't mix them manually too much, so try to spread the super glue quickly with a toothpick. (Water and super glue mixes funny... almost like cotton candy)

  • Prime the model. In this case, I chose black.

Leather and Cloth

  • Coat
            • Two layers of Calthan Brown thinned almost to a wash
  • Cloth
            • Dheneb Stone
  • Pouches
            • Tallarn Flesh thinned slightly with water
  • Straps
            • Dark Flesh
  • Bedroll
            • Two layers of Catachan Green thinned almost to a wash
  • Drape
            •  Fenris Grey

  •  Coat
          • Snakebite Leather thinned slightly with water, streaked on.
  • Cloth
          • Badab Black wash
  • Pouches
          • Gryphonne Sepia wash
  • Straps
          • Tanned Flesh painted on raised areas and edges to highlight.
  • Bedroll
          • Thraka Green wash
  • Drape
          • Asurmen Blue wash

  •  Coat
          • Vomit Brown thinned with water some to highlight the raised areas.
          • Iyanden Darksun to highlight the very tops and some edges.
          • Notice that I don't highlight much of the coat between his legs as it's in shadow.
  • Cloth
          • Fortress Grey to highlight the raised areas.
  • Pouches
          • Elf Flesh painted on edges to highlight. (you could dry-brush this)
  • Straps
          • Devlan Mud wash
  • Bedroll
          • Knarloc Green thinned slightly and painted on to highlight edging.
  • Drape
          • Shadow Grey to highlight edging and raised areas.

  • Coat
          •  Ogryn Flesh wash
  • Cloth
          • White to highlight the very tops and edges
  • Straps
          • Elf Flesh to highlight ridges.
  • Bedroll
          • Rotting Flesh to highlight edges and raised areas.
  • Drape
          • Space Wolves Grey as a final highlight.

  • Coat
          • Golden Yellow to bring back some of the strongest highlights after the wash.

Skin and Face
First I start with a Tanned Flesh highlight of the black basecoat, leaving the darkest recesses black. The paint is thinned some.
 Next I use 1 part Tanned Flesh mixed with 1 part Elf Flesh to highlight most of the raised areas.
 I throw on a layer of Ogryn Flesh wash to blend the first two layers.
 Then give a final highlight of bleached bone.
To finish his face, I paint the raised areas for his eyes white, and dab on some black pupils. I also wash a Red Gore into the scar on the left side of his face.

First, repaint any areas you have to Black if your previous steps got any colour on the armour, then continue.

  • Armour
            • Boltgun Metal to highlight most of the areas, excluding the recesses.
  • Decoration
            • Tin Bitz, still avoiding the recesses.
  • Clasps
            • Shining Gold to highlight the black.

  • Armour
            • Chainmail highlights or dry brushes in some areas.
  • Decoration
            • Dwarf Bronze highlights / dry brushing
  • Clasps
            • Burnished Gold highlights

  • Armour
            • Badab Black 2 : Asurmen Blue 1 wash
  • Decoration
            • Badab Black 2 : Baal Red 1 wash

  • Armour
                  • Final highlight of Mithril
  • Decoration
                  • Final highlight of Beaten Copper
(These could be done as dry brushes)

  • Paint them black again if need be.
  • Step 2
    • Frame
      • Red Gore base
    • Glass
      • Use Regal Blue, but first dip your brush in water, then place a drop of the heavily coloured water into each lens.
  • Step 3
    • Frame
      • P3 Khador Red - I use this because it covers dark colours better than Citadel paint.
    • Glass
      • Same technique as above, using Ice Blue.
  • Step 4
    • Frame
      • Highlight with Blood Red since P3's colours aren't as intense as Citadel paint.
    • Glass
      • Same technique as above, using White, though use a little more water.

Blade Edge
  • Edge and Back
    • Hormagaunt Purple highlight to cover all but the small holes
  • Step 2
    • Edge
      • Hormagaunt Purple 1 : Liche Purple 1
    • Back
      • Hormagaunt Purple 1 : White 1
  • Step 3
    • Edge
      • Liche Purple washed slightly in streaks
    • Back
      • White washed slightly in streaks, following contours of the blade.

  • Starting with a black base
  • Wood
    • A thick wash with Scorched Brown
    • Dry brush Dark Flesh on
    • Dry brush Desert Yellow on, heavier at the top and bottom.
    • Devlan Mud wash
    • Kommando Khaki as a final light highlight.
  • Metal
    • Same steps as Armour above. (Boltgun, Black + Blue wash, Mithril highlight)
  • Strap
    • Same steps as Pouches above. (Tallarn Flesh, Gryphonne Sepia wash, Elf Flesh highlight)
  • Pendant
    • Same steps as Armour Decoration above. (Tin Bitz, Dwarf Bronze, Black + Red wash, Beaten Copper highlight)
  • Tooth
    • Slapped on a little thinned down Dheneb Stone.

Prod at the base some with a toothpick to see if any of the pieces detach.
  • Stone
    • Use a thick wash of Chaos Black to fill in cracks and deepen things.
    • Give a highlight of Shadow Grey
    • Then a highlight of Space Wolf Grey with a dry brush.
    • A Badab Black wash will blend the dry brush in.
    • Finally highlight the tips and edges that aren't beneath him with a Fortress Grey dry brush.
  • Water
    • Take some Testors Plastic Glue and use a toothpick to mix in some Asurmen Blue
    • Use an old brush to spread it where you want the water.
    • Repeat this using Thraka Green while the Blue layer is still wet.

Glue (other than white or carpenters glue) and water don't get along. Notice the oily look you get when mixing the two:

Glue on the Shield and Arm
Once all the painting is done, you can glue on the parts that need to be attached.
Scrape the paint off of the parts that will be glued. On the arm, this also means inside the hole. For the shield, scrape the knuckles as well as the shield.