Wednesday, 13 January 2010

No more excuses... further toys

Seems that I am now running out of excuses not to paint.

I've been spending my pennies once more, and invested in a nice daylight desk-clamp light, so my night time painting sessions should be practical once again.

I've also invested in some Windsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky sable brushes. A bit more expensive than the Citadel brushes im used to using, but going from popular opinion, they are quite a bit better and should be worth the additional spent on them. No doubt when I've had a chance to use them a bit I'll write something about them.

Just for the record, I currently use the red handle brushes from a fair few years back, not the more recent blue or black handle citadel brushes which are supposedly at both ends of the useability spectrum. The blue ones were terrible, the black ones are supposed to be great. I may invest in a few of the citadel black handled ones for the lesser detailed works, as rumours are that they are also Kolinsky sable. As they are a few pounds cheaper than the Windsor and Newton or Rosemary and Co. brushes that are hailed as the best out there, I have my doubts as to how valid that claim is... I've never yet known Games Workshop to be reasonably priced compared to specialised suppliers.

Oh and the Realm of Battle board that we ordered for the main gaming table/display in the shop has come in, so I need to invest in a bag of sand from B&Q and get on with painting that up. More to come on that later.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Basecoats and washes done - not happy with the result

Well... the blue and the green have worked well enough, but the red seems terrible. Even with a first stage 2 layer covering of Mechanite Red (the GW/Citadel foundation paint) there was still a fair bit of black showing through. I went ahead to move onto the Vallejo 'Bloody Red' colour to do the main base coat, and still had lots of black show through.

The paint scheme looks fine in my low-light bedroom without the desk lamp shining on the models, but as soon as its daylight/the room is properly lighted the effect looks terrible.

Painting red on black has always been my nemesis, and it seems that it still will be. I was scared of putting on too many coats of foundation red as I was worried I was going to obscure too much detail (even with thinning my paint) as its already building up around the inside of the fingers/edges of the armour and backpacks and things, whilst theres black showing through the raised areas around it.

I'm still wondering if a white or grey (since white gesso seems to cover so badly) will be a better alternative undercoat for the red.

To make matters worse, because the lighting is so bad in here, the cheapo camera I use cant really pick up the model well, so I'll need to wait until I can next get decent quality light to take photos, and unfortunately with going back to work tomorrow after the new years break, I leave when its dark, and return home when its dark, so daylight shots are completely out of the question. Might have to see about what can be done.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Basecoat - and a problem

Firstly, as you may or may not know, the UK goverment has changed the policy on lightbulbs, and now its hard to get standard 100W light bulbs these days, instead you need to get the more environmentally friendly, low energy bulbs, which unfortunately dont give off as much of a good level of light as the old ones.

As I currently dont have a desk light for working from, I thought this would suffice for working under when not doing any fine detail work, but unfortunately its just too dark to really make out much of the miniature. The photo below was taken after a first bash at doing the base coat on the blood angel, crimson fist and dark angels marine. Aside from the obvious red of the blood angel, the other two still seem to be almost black in this light, however as you can see from the flash-enhanced camera shot, the green and blue show up, and show some obvious parts that I've missed.

It seems that in order to work at night, im going to need to invest in some lighting a bit closer to my work area, as my room light is completely unsuitable for the task.

Priming with Gesso

Yesterday, whilst I was recovering from a bout of new years eve revelry, was also the 'get the priming done so you're ready for saturday' day.

I had heard wonders about stuff known as gesso - for any canvas painters out there, that term will not be unknown to you, but for the miniatures painters, before I read it on some forums, I'd never heard of the stuff.

Gesso is a painted on substance that when used with canvases is designed to cover over the tiny bumps and holes in the weave and give a smooth base to work from, whilst providing a keyed surface to get your paints to stick a little better. After a bit of experimentation from those who have painted before me have found is that it also makes an excellent undercoat for miniatures, as long as you get a decent brand (some of it has quite large particles in it, so can give a somewhat bumpy finish - everyone reccomends Liquitex brand, but I couldn't find it anywhere, and im not quite sure its even available in the UK except by mail order/online, so instead I got some Daler-Rowney brand Gesso from my local Hobbycraft store.)

What Gesso does is it forms a 'film' covering the miniature, which dries similar to PVA glue (if youve ever just painted it on a sheet of paper and waited for it to dry - it can easily be peeled off when its dry. Now whilst most people would then be saying that this is exactly what paint does (it leaves a film on top of whatever you've painted) you'll soon see the difference if you paint a layer of paint on a piece of paper and try and peel it off - it cracks, and theres basically no surface cohesion (probably the wrong word, but its brittle and doesnt come off in 1 lump)

What this means is that for the figure painter, as long as you leave it to properly cure (its reccomended to wait for at least 6 hours, preferably 24) it gives a much more durable bascoat which should be a bit more resistant to knocks and scrapes - if you drop your mini, your basecoat wont shatter and loosen the paint.

Of course thats only a minor concern if the models arms and legs have flew off... but nothings perfect.

Anyway... to the practicalities.

I've been told that Gesso can be applied direct from the bottle, theres no need to be particularly clean/tidy with it, as it will shrink to the miniature and not obscure the details. I was a little skeptical of this, so I watered it down slightly in a ratio of about 3:1 (gesso:water) and painted it on.

One such article that I've used can be found on the DakkaDakka forums, and is always a good starting point.

I preferred undercoating in black whenever I was painting on primer (it seemed to always cover better when painting on, the white was always blotchy and needed a second coat - plus it has the added benefit of meaning that you dont need to paint the deep recesses and hard to reach places as these were already the darkest they were going to need to be) and saved priming in white for spraying, but since I had a bottle of each I gave each one a go.

The white was very poor at covering the miniature, and due to the 'film like' finish I dont think I would want to try multiple coats of Gesso just incase it obscured details a bit too much. The black covered like a dream, and shruk-wrapped the miniature perfectly, without any loss of detail. In the future, I may well mix the white and black together to try out a grey colour base for any miniatures that need to have a lighter base coat (yellows etc) to see if that works any better.

The image below was taken about an hour after the Gesso was applied - its still drying out so as you can see it still seems a bit too thick, but when it was fully dry the next day, it was perfectly formed onto the miniature.