Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sculpting Spirit Stones

Hey there folks! There's been a few recent inquiries about how to sculpt Spirit Stones. Thing is, there's no "right" way, only whatever works best for you and the current piece. I know three different techniques to get the same effect and I'm sure there's more. (Feel free to share if you have a different method!) Please pardon the photos: I had to use Paint to edit as I recently upgraded to Windows 7 and can't find my Photoshop install disk...

Method 1: "Gem then Casing"
This is a two-step method. To start, you sculpt a protruding ovoid that becomes the gem. Let this dry. Then come back with a rolled out string of putty. Work it around the gem in a "C" shape to create the casing. Clean and smooth as you go until the ends meet. Remove any excess and then go back to clean up and shaping.
I find this method works best when you're sculpting the underlying layer and want to add a gem at the same time. It is mediocre for adding onto an existing layer as there isn't much surface area for the gem to stick to... even sculpting the casing can be enough pressure to break the bond.
Here's a straight shot...and an isometric.

Method 2: "Casing then Gem"
This is also a two-step method. Here you start with a flat circle of putty. Form your casing shape using a rounded tool, such at the top end of a small pin or a circular shaper. Press it into the center of the cicle and then rock the tool up and down to create your dished oval. Clean up as desired and allow this shape to cure. Then roll out a small ball for the gem and squish it in the center. Use a flat buffing tool to smooth the gem into place. If you squish too close to the casing, the blade point can be used to pick that back out.
This method is meant for applying to an existing surface, as it has maximized surface area. It is possible to do at the same time as an underlayer, but can be tricky as you have to press in and can easily mar the whole piece.
The two-step method does mean you have to wait to finish the piece. It is best for when you're creating several stones at the same time.
Here's a straight shot...and an isometric.

Method 3: "All at once!"
This is a single step method. Start with a protruding ovoid slightly larger than you would for Method 1. Then use the tip of a very sharp tool to press in around the edges to create the casing. Start at one side and work in both directions, so that you don't skew the shape when tooling. Once you've shaped the casing, go back to clean and smooth the piece. Be careful during this as it is easy to ruin the piece.
This method is only for applying to an existing surface. You CAN try doing this at the same time as the underlayer, but it will give you headaches.
The main advantage to this method is that it is done in one go. However, it is MUCH more difficult than the other 2 methods. It requires careful tooling and some sculpting experience to pull off.
Here's a straight shot...and an isometric.

Cheers and hope you enjoy!

As a personal note: No, I am not dead. :-p Life has been very busy both normally and at work. My 40k time has been cut drastically and my blogging time even more. I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things, but I expect the rest of the summer will still be slow. I hope to be more prolific after that!

***I'm sure the image is copyright someone, but I'm currently too lazy to hunt the name down... Used without permission, blah, blah, blah...***

Friday, May 14, 2010

W&N Matte Varnish

Greetings! A while back I ran out of my trusty bottle of Dull Cote Lacquer. Needing a replacement, I dropped by several stores to see if I could pick up a new one. Yet while I found the spray can version at a couple places, nobody was carrying the brush-on version.

Why did I care? Because there's certain things you can do with brush application that just don't work with spray. You can hit (or avoid) specific parts, control the thickness of coat, and get a LOT more coverage for your buck. On the downside, it requires a more time to apply and can be fiddly. But I figure that after I've spent *mumble mumble* hours on my average fig, what's an extra 5-10 minutes to hand apply the lacquer?

Eventually my quest washed my up at my local fine art store. Alas, they did not have what I was looking for. However, they did have a 75ml bottle of Winsor & Newton Matte Varnish. At only $5 after my university discount, it wasn't that much more than a spray bottle.

So here's Before:And After:About 5 minutes work and an hour or so of drying. Interestingly, my camera saw a large difference in saturation and muddled some of the colors... especially on the lighter yellow tones.

I've now done several figs with this product and have been very happy. It applies smoothly, tones things done VERY well, dries in a reasonable amount of time and doesn't leave the "grainy" feel that I've seen with sprays. It also thins out quite nicely.

However, do NOT mix it with other varnishes. The glossier a varnish is, the tighter and stronger a coat you get. Thus a gloss is much less likely to chip or flake compared to matte version. I normally do a base seal of gloss and then matte over that to the desired veneer. A couple days ago I started applying a bit of the matte to a fig when I realized I'd forgotten to do the base gloss. So I switched over, not thinking of what might happen... Yeah, it turned milk white. I should have taken a photo as it would have been an excellent example of what not to do.

Other than that, I have been quite happy with this product. I expect you'll see (or not see, as it is clear) this product on my figs for many, many posts to come.

Cheers and see you later!
***I'm sure the starter image is W&N's, but the others are my work...***

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Space Hulk Genestealers

Greetings everyone! After the heavy tactical content of my last post, I decided it was time for some lighter fare. I've been trudging through painting a Space Hulk set and recently finished up the Genestealers.

If you've seen the Broodlord I did, you might know that these guys have a non-standard color scheme. The reason for this? I'm painting them for a friend so that they can also field in his Tyranid army. He loaned me a couple sample figs to compare against. Note that these were NOT painted by Mark or myself. They were done by a friend of his up in Portland. First up was a simple Genestealer:Each major color was a simple basecoat, drybrush or heavy edging, and then maybe a wash. The application was... generous and layering non existant. I knew I could just slap something out at the same level pretty quickly... or I could challenge myself to paint better. I opted for the latter.
I do have to give the guy some credit: the paint job is fine tabletop quality and there are a lot of great conversions conversions and base work, as evidenced by this Warrior:The very first thing I did was nix the big green accent marks and large purple gun. I did keep them as accent tie-ins on eyes and tongues, but desaturated so that they wouldn't mar the overall effect. This brought the main colors back to a split compliment balance of true red, brown-white, and blue. Go read Sandwyrm's excellent series on Color Theory for a more detailed explanation. Then I did the guys a little something like this:There are 22 Genestealers in total. I did a test piece to see if the re-color and concept would work. Then I did the rest in sets of 7.The red is Mechrite Red darkened with Black, midtones of Red Gore, highlights in Red Gore mixed with Bleached Bone, inked in Black and washed with Red. Most of the base=>mid=>high transitions had 2-3 mix steps in between as I was thinning for translucent layering. This was an experiment that more or less worked, but was time consuming.The bone carapace was a base of Khemri Brown, midtone of Graveyard Earth mixed with Bleached Bone, highlights of Bleached Bone and then a couple washes and inks of Sepia and Devlan Mud. When I say "ink", that's usually undiluted ink or wash deliberately placed into recesses. "Wash" was usually a thinner version that was applied to the whole area to blend the color layers and darken the tone.The claws were based Regal Blue, midtone Ultramarine Blue, highlit with Ice Blue and washed with Asurmen Blue. I deliberately used a a non-transitional set of color here to make them look like they were glowing or powered rather than just claw.These guys were all sealed using diluted Future Floor Wax, to give that nice "new floor or wet Genestealer" sheen!

As a break from just painting bugs, I also knocked out two of the objective markers
Ironically, the Genestealers and Screamer-Killer I did ended up being about 1/2 of Mark's army at a recent torunament. Why ironic? Mark won "Best Painted"... and his idea of a complex paintjob is to touch up the drybrushing after dipping the model in wash. Even better is that in all my years of playing, I've never won Best Painted. I've gotten every other top laurel, but it's just never worked out for me to get that one. Heh.

Cheers and see you next time!
*** All images taken by ME! Use them at your peril...***