Tuesday, September 30, 2014

6MMRPC: Week 4.5 September Roundup - I do negative good work!

I considered calling it shameful September, but honestly I've been pretty diligent about doing painting work, and documenting it. That's a win. My negative good work is the fact that I scored a bunch of free figs. Normally this is a total YAY!, but I think I've netted more unpainted figs than I've painted. Boo!

My friend Ryan is completing a big move, and has been steadily downsizing his (massive) collection. Our gaming group got to cannibalize a box at our last game sessions, so it was a (incredibly) rare event. By the rules I declare this a gift, so doesn't use a joker. But it's a bit of a negative firecracker to end September with.

I'm totally stoked about the city guard, they look like very cool models. The nymph's, well, I thought I should work on my flesh tone painting. These will force that in spades.
Blogger likes this one upside down for some reason

 The mordheim ogre is just cool. The ranger I thought might be a good addition to a project. I may pass the centaur off to a friend with a beastman army, although I have a few painted beastmen that could be used for a mordheim gang.

The diggas would be good to expand my necromunda collection, and will likely paint up super fast.

 The dwarves I wanted to add to a dwarf mordheim gang. The orcs were kinda cool additions to the few green skins I have. And this is how the lead mountain grows kids. A little bit here and there and POOF!
Back to painting.....
I managed to paint up my spiderbots, a cannon and team, get my light box going, and finish some terrain peices.  "Active" in the queue I've got some 15mm grav tanks, and a bunch of 28mm napoleonic infantry. There is also a heap of partially finished projects that will no doubt distract me from time to time. October is ZOMTOBER month, so I'll have to find something apropos to work on as well.

I hope everyone involved in the challenge is finding it helpful and productive. I know, despite this (sorta) failure, I've held back from at least 2 real fig purchases. Considering that would have been a box of 20-40 figs that's a big advance already. Anyone on the sidelines, feel free to come join us, we are a friendly bunch with a (hidden) facebook group, and a blog to track our updates (HERE). Merely asking will get you signed up!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

6MMRPC Week 4: Terrain - Rock spires

A bit of a delay getting out my pictures this week. I had intended on posting my terrain pics Wed, as I had finished off the project already. Full disclosure, these things where mostly done a whole ago and needed the basing complete. I try and hide my work in progress stuff till it's more done, as I think it's more interesting that way. I'm sure I'm going to run out of tricks and have to post half done stuff soon enough.

On to the project! I love my set of battlefield in a box badlands rocks. I used them in my gruntz game recently and they are super cool. Unfortuntely, I don't have enough to get the coverage I want at the density that makes sense. Even more criminal, is that they are now discontinued. Obviously they are popular because you really can't find anyone selling them anymore, unlike a lot of the sets.

Stuart at Dust, Tears & Dice made some cool hills for his starship troopers campaign. His use of moponi wood made a light come on in my head as I had some from my fishtank which, long since decomissioned, I'd gotten rid of lately. Hammer in had I bashed up the big peices into smaller stuff and hot glued it to CD's.

I wanted to try and match the color to the bluffs. I'm fairly new to the airbrush thing, so I think I reversed the order of the paint. I used a red oxide first, which was very red, and then hit it with a brown. Probably it would have worked out better the other way, as the red would pop more than it does (on it's own it was too monochrome and red). A learning experience for sure.

The craft paint ended up a bit dry and flecky as well. Not sure if it was underthinned, or at the wrong pressure or what. I suspect it's just crappy paint though. This is definitely still mysterious.

One of the other snafus is that two spires are quite tall. I really like the look.....but it's too tall for the drawer I keep all the other stuff in. Now I need to ponder another storage option. Oh well.

Kinda crap photos, I need to find a large backdrop I think.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

6MMRPC: Week 3 Russian Licorne 20 lb - finished-ish

It seems like I typically start my napoleonics with painting artillery. I think I do it because it's faster to get a finished result and you get to practice the (new to you) uniforms on fewer guys, so screwups are less demoralizing.

I'm finished (ish), as I still need to flock the base, and I'm missing the correct brown to match the ground. I'll just end up finishing it off when I do a bunch of other bases. Soon I hope. I'm hosting some in laws this week, however, so progress has dropped off considerably.

I'm fairly chuffed with how the pictures are starting to turn out in my light box. It would appear I need a bigger backdrop though....it being tricky not to catch the edge in a shot.

 The pain of high res images is showing all your mistakes. I'm spotting all sorts of stuff I'm less than thrilled with, the biggest being the awful work done on the faces. The guy on the front right looks like he has putty on his face to hide plastic surgery or something. Ugh.

I'm planning on switching to painting the shako cords black first, so that there is more depth of colour on them after painting....these ones look too uniformly red in my view.

I'm also grappling with whether to highlight the jackets. They are meant to be fairly dark green. I did ink them, but it might be worthwhile highlighting a bit as well.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

6MMRPC: Week 3 Russian Perry Napoleonic 20lbs licorne WIP (1)

Besides my technological hobby project this week, I've been putting in some more time on the Russian Naps. I mostly paint 15mm french, but have shifted gear to 28mm Russians. It's a bit strange working on a bigger scale again. I definitely notice my brushwork is better now, but I've also discovered that certain items I can let slide, or that work at 15mm, don't work great on a bigger scale.

One of the things about painting historics (including ww2 stuff) is that you can (and should) look up what the colours are. Then you can give them a passing nod and cough a bit about weather, inconsistent dye jobs, inability to really know a colour from Black and White photos and other great excuses. Dyes from the 1800's (and everything before the modern chemical industry) were neither permanent, or light fast. They washed away and bleached fast, so close is close enough.

Interestingly in (abbreviated) research, it seems like the french and the russians used similar colour for their artillery. I'm probably wrong, but through the magic of crappy dye, I'm right. Amazing.
I tried my airbrush again to lay down a coat of vallejo golden olive. This is not an airbrush formulation, so I thin with windex, apparently I botched something as the colour preferentially settled on the highs instead of the lows. I've found similar effects when I over-dilute ink with water, so I suspect I had too much thinner. Luckily when I hit it with green ink (to see if I could avoid hand painting it again), it ended up looking alright. I haven't bothered highlighting with green, and probably won't.

I hit the iron fittings with black, and the cannon with bronze and then a sepia ink. I intend to highlight both prior to declaring a finish.

I've included the two pictures to illustrate the strangeness of light box photos. The upper shot had the light coming through the tissue paper. I moved the upper light forward, so it was direct on the model. I feel this is much more realistic colour rendering. I think the amount of shadow is an indicator I'm doing something incorrectly though.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

6MMRPC: All hail Zagnut!

Zagnat is pleased
TL;DR: Buy cheap clamp lights for your own light box. 

This week I continued with some work on my light box. I have the box, I need better lights. One of my friends is very much into electronics and computers, and invited me to learn how to solder and make circuits (this came out of asking if a given LED strip was a good deal or not). An order for a bunch of LED bits and some perf board was placed and arrived earlier in the week. After work I headed out and did electronics.

Robert swears there is a patron god of electronic lighting, named Zagnut, that you need to appease.

Appeasement is through strange writings that look suspiciously like what technical folks call 'circuit diagrams' and 'Ohm's Law' (P=IR). The funny thing is that you actually need to do this stuff and figure out how much power (heat) is lost at certain key bits.....or it goes boom. Robert says that Zagnut definitely has some angry fire god in there and this explains the heat, melting, and potentially fire.

After chopping down the perf(orated) board with a hacksaw, you smear some solder/flux material on it, and place your circuit components (the yellow squares are the leds). The silver lines on the perf board represent parallel wires, so you place an led such that it acts as a bridge between the 'wires'. The led's have a *tiny* break on their back, so current is forced through the light inside, rather than just across the back (contacts).

The big magic part (you know, apart from the magic of light creation) is that you hit this with a heat gun, and eventually the solder/flux dries out.....then suddenly turns terminator style liquid metal/bright silver, THEN THE LEDS MOVE TO THEIR CORRECT LOCATION!! It looks pretty magic. Apparently the magic of surface tension with respect to the contacts, breaks, holes in the perf board, etc. But pretty amazing.

Afterward, you do some more calculations to figure out how big a resistor you need to avoid a fire, and then you do the more traditional type of soldering (with a bit hot pen and a coil of wire/flux stuff). Trying to do this with the circuit boards would be almost impossible as you'd fix one side on an angle, and not be able to fix the other side (imagine trying to nail a board to a solid floor from underneath it). Wires are then attached on the far sides of the perf board and light tested (hold breath here).

We decided to attach some crimp plugs to the lights so it's easy to hook them up to the power supply (harvested from an old computer).

Now, a couple of problems overall. It's not super cost efficient. I still have to pay Robert back, but I think it's going to be about 30 bucks. I wanted lights that were closer to daylight temp, which were around 50cent per, vs the 34 cent he uses which are very blue. If Robert didn't have all the hardware, this would be a lot more costly. Not super time efficient (this took most of an evening). It's also ugly with all the wires etc. The cables off the power supply don't give me much flexibility for positioning due to their shortness. The final issue is that these chips get pretty toasty warm, we scanned them with an IR temp sensor and it's around 60C for the small ones, and 85C for the large one (the resistor in particular). I plan on adding some aluminum backing for heat dissipation, but still....

It's fun, and interesting to though. I'm glad I learned/refreshed my knowledge of circuits. After all, this is pretty key infrastructure to our modern life. I'll post up some pics of what I actually got painted in another day or three, once the highlighting is finished.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

6MMRPC week 2: Mustering the troops (Russian Napoleonics)

I was planning on posting later in the week, but some sympathy pains with David's dark ages assembly (spider web of history) made me want to share my own plastic muster.

I recently ordered and received a bunch of Perry miniatures Napoleonic Russians. Doug (Dots of Paint - lots of great eye candy photos here) has been working on a convention ruleset with Seth (no idea if he has a blog) for fast play Napoleonics. I've posted a number of game reports, and it's great fun (and the model count is relatively low). The next big target is Borodino and he's mesmerized a few of us to create a few corp.
Sounds like madness, no?

In this ruleset a division is on a single base. So a corp is only around 4-6 bases, each of which has about 10 figs. My figs to the right are actually an infantry corp (1 jaeger, 1 line, 2 grenadier, 1 artillery), and a cav corp (1 dragoon, 1 cuirassier). The cav units take 3 guys each.

 Cutting and trimming of flash took up the last few days of hobby time. The plastics are mostly 2 part figs (there are a bunch of head options). A great review of the box is here.

The metal figs are very nice. It's always slightly disappointing comparing the rounded details of plastics to metals.

The cannon is a licorne (unicorn) which is a weird Russian howitzer/cannon hybrid. I don't think it was super successful. I was hoping it'd look a bit more distinctive but it should be more obvious at this scale, than the 15mm scale most of my (unpainted) naps figs are at.
 I recently managed to get my airbrush working (which involved putting together an air supply). My friend Ryan swears by airbrush priming now so I thought I'd give it a go.

I usually prime black, and decided to try a grey to see if I end up with brighter models. This grey is lighter than what I expected. I think my eye was tricked by the black label on the bottle bringing the colour down. Now that I look at the bottom of the bottle I guess it's correct.....still, hoping for a bit darker. I may have experiment mixing in some black next time......terrifying stuff to a neophyte. 

Priming by airbrush SEEMS to take much longer. I suppose you end up with more control and it's easier to rehit the spots you miss though. A few of the other advantages are much less stink (A huge perk when you live with a significant other) and you can proceed with painting almost immediately. The paint seems to be dry minutes after hitting the model. There may be some off gassing occuring, so I'd wait a bit longer, but certainly not the hours it takes for regular primer to dry and stop stinking.

Friday, September 5, 2014

6MMRPC - week 1: lightbox & spiderbots

Despite joining up a bit late this week to 'the pledge' I had already managed to get in some productive hours. After a post on dropship horizon about light boxes (and previously on an oldhammer blog) I was interested in improving my photography and went through the (admittedly small) hassle of creating a light box.

A bit of cardboard recycling dumpster diving, and 3 bucks in dollar store purchases and I was done.

Armed with a variety of lamps from around the house, and took some pictures. The blue form was a printout of a background from the interweb. The first few pics didn't use it, but I was having trouble with the pics and wanted to see if it'd help.

My test bed is some GZG spiderbots I had, admittedly, finished a week or more ago. I still intend to paint a symbol on the top, but I'm undecided what to use for a force.

I wasn't super happy with the large shots. It's obvious that I need more light (MORE LIGHT IGOR!!). The speckles are loose flocking material from this weeks work....

What I have done this week is create bases for them. Steel washers, Elmer's walnut coloured wood filler, and some woodland scenic turf blend (lifted from Doug as he uses for his 28mm napoleonics). A bit different from my normal bases, so I'm deciding if I like them or not.

I'd like to figure out some sort of more urban or sci fi corridor base.....but i need to be able to do it on integral bases which most 15mm figs come with. Which likely means a putty or spread, and it won't be conducive to 'stamping' with some of the new fangled terrain stamps/impressions.

 Upon printing out the blue background I tried to take some more photos. I'm using a samsung nexus phone here, so nothing too amazing (besides the amazingness inherent in all smart phones).

It appears that if I tighten up A LOT on the model I can capture enough light for a decent shot. I may need to futz around with photo editing (sigh) in the future, but I'm going to look for some 'light solutions' first.

My last shot here is in my typical photo style. Close to the brightest light in the house, balanced in one hand.

15mm photography is pretty unforgiving and really makes you appreciate more the mad skillz of some of the other folks involved in the 6MMRPC

Thursday, September 4, 2014

6 Month Mountain Reduction & Painting Challenge (6MMRPC): Signing up

I'm a bit late to this (4 days), but it's a great strategy to erode away some of the lead mountain of Chris' Miniature Woes
madness. As lifted from

1. No purchasing of new miniatures, EXCEPT if you use a joker card.  Like in a deck of cards, you get two jokers to use on a figure purchase during the six months of the challenge.  Could be a blister pack, an ebay bundle, or a single figure...you can't splurge. 

2.  Gifts do not count against you. Christmas and or birthdays etc. Also, if you're given gift cards by your hobby illiterate family or friends, you can without penalty use them on anything you want miniatures wise.  I luck out here, as I'll have Christmas and my birthday during this 6 Months.

3.  Paints, terrain (or materials), and other hobby supplies do not apply to the no purchasing rule.

4.  At least one hobby related blog post and/or Instagram update a week.  If you Instagram, be sure to hashtag your pic with #6MMRPC

5.  Zombtober will be part of the 6 month challenge so, Zombie related stuff during October is ENCOURAGED!

One of the things I like best about this isn't you don't have real painting targets, but you MUST document what you've done. Considering my huge painting ADD recently, it's a gamble to paint anything start to finish in a reasonable time frame, but I certainly have been working on lots. 

 I waffled a bit about joining based on the no purchases (except for 2 'jokers'), but the open option on terrain pulled me in. I think I'll aim for Friday updates, as if I'm late I still have 2 days to most (Sept 1, 2014 starting on a monday). Also, presumably more people look at blogs on the weekend. 

It's a bit funny to see people in the comments on Chris' blog adjusting dates slightly to benefit from their birthdays, or squeeze in one more purchase, but fair ball. It's going to be a challenge for sure. I seriously doubt I'll benefit from any gifting, but I do have a huge pile of lead......