Wargaming Tradecraft: Coping with Disasters


Coping with Disasters

Sometimes, things happen... out of your control... within your control... either way, they're terrible... I'm not talking about that "1" that shows up at the roll of the dice that determines the outcome of a game. I'm talking about things like... oh I don't know... dropping one of your miniatures on the floor and watching it explode.

Not a huge deal if you're just rushing through painting an army, but more serious if it's something you've been putting a lot of time and effort in to. How do I cope? How do you cope? Let's take a look...

I'd spent 10's of hours working on this model... the seam where I'd glued the stone together was flawlessly invisible and painted... with air brushing and other blending methods... then I dropped it...

First, I pushed my chair back, and stared down at the model. Almost disbelieving, the silvery pewter innards stared back at me.

I knew it was bad... I also knew there was a layer of gel drying on him that was about to get all kinds of messed up.

Step 1 - Prevent long-term damage

You're upset, angry, frustrated and / or a mushroom-cloud-laying... well you get the point. If you still have the mind for it however, you need to deal with any issues that could cause real damage to your mini.

In my case, I knew the gel had to be even and if I allowed dirt to dry in the gel, the model would be ruined. I had to clean out the dirt and wiped off gel / even it out. Other examples might be:
  • Slipping when gluing something
    • To fix the joint,
      • Pull the item off so it doesn't glue in the wrong place.
      • Let the glue dry.
      • Once it's dried, scrape the glue off the join and start over.
        (Putting glue over old glue makes a weak seal.)
    • If glue gets on the paint, you're also best to let it dry.
      • If you try to wipe off super glue, anything to use to wipe will stick and cover your paint.
      • If you try to wipe off plastic glue, the chemicals will eat and rub off paint.
      • You might get away with matte varnishing over the glue once it's dry and everything looking ok, overwise you'll have to repaint.
  • Paint exploding from a dropped / slipped paint brush or tipped paint pot.
    • Use a damp cloth or sponge to blotch and clean paint off the affected surface. DON'T spread it - BLOTCH (lots of patting) to soak the paint up.
    • Water MIGHT work... but water + paint also = wash, and might discolour more of your model. You'd have to use A LOT of water and a little friction. (rub with fingers or something rubber, like a tooth picker) Too much rubbing could scratch the paint.
  • Chipped or cut off a piece of detail.
    • Gather the pieces up somewhere you won't lose them.

Don't worry about doing the repairs right now, you're probably not in the best frame of mind, so put your tools down. Adrenaline is a natural reaction to disasters, and we react differently. Anger or panic can set in and any work you do right now could easily spiral into failure after failure and make the whole situation worse.

How many of you have felt like you were in this situation?

or else this will happen... the beginning, or jump to 2:50 for the impatient...

Step 2 - Relax

The Road Warrior
Right now, the best thing for you to do is just walk away...

You're done hobbying for now. Shush - you're done. Stop. No, really, you're done. No hobby for you. Just walk away.

We each relax in different ways, so you need to do some sort of activity that will help distract you from whatever catastrophe is waiting for your return.

This really is more of a personal thing, and it might take the advice of a loved one to help. Go for a walk or a drive, listen to some music, play a video game that doesn't require a lot of concentration, (Deathmatch is good, to get the twitch-gaming reflexes going) watch a movie or switch off your brain with some reality TV.

DON'T do something destructive. Drinking and drugs are just going to increase the nose-dive you're in.

Step 3 - Get back at it

Within a reasonable amount of time, you need to sit back down at your hobby desk and tackle the disaster. Not just start a new project - you need to face your problem. If you don't, or if you wait more than a couple days, it's going to be looming over you, which will make getting back at it even harder.

  • First, assess the situation.
    • In most cases, it should be salvageable.
    • Look for any damaged or destroyed paint, see what bits might have broken off, etc.
  • Second, determine what needs to be done to repair.
    • Can the damage be cleaned?
      • A Q-tip and some rubbing alcohol could remove spilled paint... but it could also remove paint from your model and make the situation worse... BE CAREFUL.
    • Balance this with the amount of time and effort you're putting in to the model.
      • If you spilled glue on the model, but it's only going to be tabletop quality anyway, then maybe cover the glossy glued areas with matte varnish and call it fixed.
      • If the model is intended to be high-quality, then maybe you need to scrape a section of paint off, use some gesso to reprime just that area, and re-paint it.
    • Are there shortcuts available?  Can you make the damage appear to be part of the model?
      • Can you add a wound to the model and cover the damage with fake blood?
      • Could a piece of chipped off detail just be battle damage?
      • I painted more green magical energy shooting from the now uneven joint on my Voidwalker's Krielstone.

Step 3.666 - Start Over

There shouldn't be many cases where a model is totally ruined, but I can think of a couple. In these unfortunate instances, I would still google and see if you can find a wild theory to try... (like repairing a dead hard drive by sticking it in the freezer, crazy) ... it's not like you can make it worse right?

Why might you have to start over:
from DakkaDakka
  • Bad Varnishing
    • Probably the #1 way I see models ruined. This is caused by either low-quality varnish or using too much, but a final protective layer over the model can utterly destroy a model. (I use professional paint-on varnish, usually through my airbrush)
    • You can try a Q-tip and alcohol, but if it removes the varnish, it might also remove the paint.
  • Advanced techniques
    • When painting with airbrushing, blending, shading and highlighting it becomes very difficult to make repairs look like part of the original model.
    • Object Source Lighting can ruin a paint job as you highlight with a completely different colour. 
  • Save Time
    • If http://www.wargamingtradecraft.com/2013/07/object-source-lighting.htmlthere's so much damage that starting over would be faster than fixing all the little details, maybe you should. (Unless there's a particularly fantastic detail you don't want to lose, but you could always mask it.)
Ultimately, you may find that you have to strip the model and start over. This _always_ sucks, but you might not have a much of a choice. Follow these directions if you're unsure of how to strip models.

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