Saturday, 25 February 2012

Frontline Painter: Maagaan Warlock of Baalor WIP 1 (prep work)

  
Maagaan Warlock of Baalor and bane of green stuff!!!

So this is my first painting guide type article since I hurriedly painted my Sorylian Cruiser for the House of Paincakes HoP Idol contest. That guide was actually pretty well received, which surprised me. What people liked about it apparently was how detailed it was. So again with this guide I'm going to put a lot of detail into the guide, and if at points I'm teaching grandma how to suck eggs I apologise. But I guess I personally feel it's more important to be precise about these things rather than skip over details and leave some poor sod clueless and scratching their head.

Picking a Project

Yeah as I may have intimated to you on Thursday this is the 'one-off' project I wanted to attempt to try and kick start my desire to paint again. If the hints weren't strong enough SinSynn made me blow the big surprise by doing comparison shots for him! Why did I choose this particular miniature? Well it's pretty simple really. Although I own a lot of lovely resin sculpts from a number of high quality producers, like Studio McVey, Kingdom Death and of course Banelegions, only a few stood out for various reasons. I also knew that painting anything from the massive backlog of miniatures for the various games I currently play would be a bit of a mental barrier, as it would simply feel like I was starting to paint a faction again. Something of a psychological block that for me at the minute. So I needed a one off display project really, something to get me thinking about painting again. I wanted to do something with a bit of non-metallic-metal, or NMM from here on out, because I want all my Infinity miniatures to use this technique and quite frankly I'm a little bit rusty with it, so I wanted the practice. I was never great at it in the first place either. I also wanted a miniature I could use my Secret Weapon crushed glass snow on, because I've had it for a while now and I really want to use it so I can do a review of the stuff.

So I set about looking for a fully armoured miniature that looked a bit Nordic or at the very least like it was dressed for colder climates. Digging through my boxes (yes I said boxes) of unpainted miniatures I finally came to rest on a few choices actually. There was the Kings Men, Buthcher, Forge Priest and Survivor Male all from Kingdom Death. Meanwhile from Studio McVey I was tempted to start Vitharr Bearclaw, Isabella or The Raven Priest. I quickly ruled out Isabella and The Raven Priest from Studio McVey because of the lack of metal on both miniatures. After looking at the Forge Priest from Kingdom Death I decided he looked more like he belonged in a dusty wasteland, as does the Male Survivor. I also felt the Kings Man looked like he belonged on some pristine marble courtyard somewhere. So this left me deciding between the Buthcher, Vitharr Bearclaw and Maagaan. I started to see Vitharr Bearclaw in some meadow somewhere during spring and I really didn't feel up to painting the Butcher from Kingdom Death, as I felt I wanted to pick my skills up a little bit again before attempting him because he's limited edition. So this left me with Maagaan who I really wasn't too fussed about ruining with my piss poor paint job if I'm honest about it! I mean I can always just buy another one.

Assembly

Exhibit A
If you've read my review of Maagaan you'll know that for a relatively simple piece he was actually cut rather awkwardly in my opinion. There was the possibility for some big gaps where both arms joined the main body and for there to be a gap on the inside of the bear cloak and on the outside amongst the fur too. Before I got that far though I had to start trimming of those rather large vents on the various pieces. I took my exacto bladed craft knife and plonked a very new, very shiny and exceedingly sharp blade into it. I began by trimming the vent off of his swords scabbard first as that was the easiest piece to remove, simply cut along the obvious outline of the piece. Always remember to cut away from yourself safety fans. The thing is this miniature actually has some pretty hefty vents on some very fine pieces and in some very awkward places. The most obvious of one being on the tip of the sword. Seriously take a look at it (Exhibit A)! Whose idea was that? I removed it in stages with a series of very delicate cuts. I guess its not the worst example I've ever seen but it does make keeping the original point and profile of the swords blade difficult. Sadly though such vents are at times unavoidable with resin, so you'll just have to learn to live with them.

Exhibit B
The vent on the end of the sword though isn't half as bad as the one at the end of his wand thingy. If the prosecution could draw your attention towards exhibit B. You can clearly see that the top of this rather fine piece of sculpting is indeed obscured by what can only be fairly described as a hideous blob of a vent. God damn it, it's meant to have a lovely gradual curve at the top of it. That means you have to be exceedingly careful yet again when removing this particular vent so as to not lose the detail. I think I managed it quite well. The final annoying vent was actually on the small fur cloak, right in the bloody join. I mean I understand that the person who cut the moulds certainly had no real alternatives with where these vents were put really, but I'm still going to moan about it. This vent just made what was already going to be an annoying join, just a little bit more annoying. The vent was also right on top of the bloody peg to join the two pieces of the cloak together as well. Typical. In my review I mentioned that the miniature could have been cut better, and had it been I think some of these venting issues could have been avoided too.

You can see the gaps in his fur cloak.
After what seemed like and inordinately long time cleaning the various bits and bobs up I needed to clean the resin surface of any greasy substances that might have been left over from the moulding process. Resin miniatures often have a greasy film on them to aid in their removal from their moulds, often referred to as the 'releasing agent' or 'ejection fluid'. God only knows which term is the correct one, or even if it matters. What does matter though is that the substance can play havoc when undercoating your miniatures. To remove any possible greasy residue I filled a plastic bowl with some lukewarm water and a very small dash of washing up liquid. If you don't have a Luke handy to gauge the waters temperature against I'd suggest dipping your bare elbow into the water to ensure it isn't too warm. Like you would with a babies bath. I simply submerge my miniatures pieces into the water and leave them for a couple of seconds. Then I give them a very quick and delicate scrub with a tooth brush. I then leave the pieces to dry naturally on a piece of kitchen towel.

Those gaps artistically filled in... ahem.
Pieces prepped and fully cleaned I was now ready for full assembly, with super glue and everything! I already new from my test run 'dry' assembly that Maagaan's sword arm and and cape insert were going to leave slight gaps, so I started with this side of the miniature first. Plus as there were more joins on this side it just made sense to start here first and limit the size of those gaps. I glued the right sword arm in place first, while doing this I also held the left wand arm in place to get the positioning of the sword arm as right as a could in relation to the other arm. I left the glue on the right arm to set a little first before carefully gluing the remainder of the cloak in place. As suspected these parts left a fair few gaps, as I discussed in my review. I left this side of the miniature to dry properly before attaching the left arm and then sword scabbard. After the super glue had dried fully (I left it 24 hours to be sure) it was time to go over the miniature once more with the craft knife to make sure that there weren't any errant mould lines or bits of flashing that I'd somehow missed.

Green 'stuffing' the inner cloak was a bit of a pain.
Next up was the green stuff. Now for many people using green stuff fills them with dread, I happen not to be one of those individuals. I actually really like sculpting little bits of details onto my miniatures. I'm not massively good at it, but I do find it a strangely therapeutic experience. My top hints for using green stuff are have a cup of warm water nearby to keep your fingers moist when working the green stuff together and for stopping your finger prints getting into the stuff when you apply it to the miniature. My next bit of advice is to use slightly more yellow in the mix than blue. I just find it's that little bit easier to work on the miniature when there's a higher yellow content and it doesn't seem to 'go off' as quick. Sculpting some fur onto the cloak was pretty easy actually. You simply get a small thin rolled out bead of green stuff that matches the length of the gap you want to fill. First push this into place with your thumb, and then push it further into the fur and the surrounding area with the flat head of a sculpting tool. If it looks like there might be a little bit too much green stuff on the miniature start scrapping some off. Next use a needle nosed sculpting tool to first push a bunched up hole into the green stuff and then flick down in short rough drags to create the desired fur effect. Start at the top and work down, re-work areas until you are happy with the effect. The inside of the cloak was far more problematic. It was pretty tricky working in the tight gap between cloak and body, plus smoothing the green stuff out, given the folds, wasn't easy. But I did finish it and that's all there was to assembling the miniature.

My choice of resin plinth and base.
Choosing a base

This isn't going to be a gaming piece, it's going to be a display piece. Most likely it'll be displayed at the back of a cupboard after I've finished painting it. However, I wanted to actually start out with a decent base, and at least pretend like this was going to be some centrepiece on display at the heart of my mantelpiece. Even if it was likely to end up stored out of sight of prying eyes eventually. Many, many months ago, back while I was employed, I made a very large purchase from Secret Weapon Miniatures. Mainly various desert type bases for my Haqqislam forces in Infinity, but I also added on the aforementioned crushed glass snow, some resin plinths and some other display type resin bases. Mainly the Runic Mountain bases. As Maagaan is a Warlock and as I wanted him to be in a snowy scene, I figured the Runic Mountain bases were probably just about perfect for him. So I set about picking a suitably epic looking one, you can see my choice up above and to the left.

Finally I was able to wedge the blasted thing in place!

Sadly the lazy option, which quite frankly I had taken yet again with the resin plinth and resin base actually provided me with more frigging work than I thought it would. It's never easy is it? This painting little toy soldiers business, not the being lazy bit, I find that pretty easy! The plinth actually had a really pronounced mould line around its outside and a lot of flashing at the base that needed cleaning off. As did the flat sided resin base itself. Joy! Now I'm not sure many of you know this but a lot of resins actually contain some pretty nasty substances, many of them carcinogenic. So you need to take care when cleaning resin up, even if manufacturers tell you their resin is made from tulips and fresh mountain spring water and cast by vestal virgins, it's always worth wearing a dust mask, why? Because the tiny dust particles you kick up when cleaning resin are still going to get on your lungs if you don't, and it's never clever to breath in tiny dust particles as it can irritate and inflame your lungs. As double protection, because I'm a big girls blouse, I also wore some plastic goggles to protect my delicate baby blue eyes. Yeah, OK, I admit it I'm a bit of a wuss when it comes to safety, but again resin dust can really irritate your eyes, and being temporarily blinded can hamper your progress.

A rough ring of green stuff jammed into the gap to hide it.

So I began sanding the mould line off of my plinth and the flashing off of its bottom, as I did with the resin base as well. I used a very fine grain sand paper and constantly kept the base and the plinth moving in my hand to make sure I didn't create any flat spots, by sanding in one place too long. I wanted the plinth and the base to still be circular and not look like a 50p piece! This took an inordinately long period of time. Finally though I'd cleaned all the flashing and mould lines off, and I went to insert the scenic resin base into the sunk disc in the center of the plinth. It didn't sodding fit! Arghhh. At this point I was starting to wander whether or not God was sending me a message, and if he was just what the bloody hell was it. I grabbed myself yet another piece of sand paper and began the long laborious task of sanding the sodding resin base so it fitted into the sunken hole. I kid you not nearly an hour later and it still looked like it was going to be a tight fit. Slightly annoyed and close turning the air blue with profanity, I decided I didn't want the chuffing resin base to come out of the plinth once painted anyway.

In your face resin base and plinth, IN YOUR FACE!!!

So I dabbed a bit of super glue into the sunken hole, placed the plinth on the flat surface of the floor, put the resin base as far into the sunken space as it would fit (which wasn't very bloody far) and carefully trod on the base applying as careful and even pressure as I could until the base was wedged firmly in place. I didn't stamp on it or jump up and down on it once. Honest! Stop looking at me like that, you weren't there, you didn't feel the pain I went through. Any way I left the plinth and base to dry. Although honestly given how tight the fit and seal was the super glue probably wasn't needed. What did get on my nerves just a little bit was the fact that despite requiring my massive bulk to force the resin base into place there remained an annoying little gap between the plinth and base itself. Saints preserve me!!! So out came the green stuff, all this because I was being lazy and using a resin plinth and base. I'm sure there's a well known saying about cheats and prospering, but I can't quite remember it! I used a nice thin bead of green stuff right around the edge of the base, pressing it firmly into place with my thumb first. I then used my sculpting tools to remove any excess green stuff and smooth what remained over as best I could. After the green stuff had dried I got myself some more of that sandpaper and sanded it smooth. Job done! Thank f@$% for that...

Undercoating the miniature

I decided I wanted my Warlock of Baalor to actually be relatively dark looking. I didn't want there to be any of toese really bright primary colours. I did however want the armour he was wearing to look realistic, and part of that conundrum involves how light plays off of it's surface. In steps Zenithal lighting:

Zenithal light: It probably sounds like a really alien word or concept until you break it down. The important part is Zenith, which we all know well as a word. The basic principal is the idea that when there is a light source above something, like the big ball of fire in the sky, then that light will fall naturally on the highest points and raised edges more prominently. Certainly more than it would any covered areas or lower or recessed details, so the light will effect different ares of an object in varying ways. The picture above and to your left is a good example of how light falling differently on the same object changes its colour and appearance.

Zenithal painting: So what the heck is it? Well to put it bluntly its a method of painting that looks to emulate how natural light, or indeed artificial light falls on the miniature from above. This is normally done by starting with a dark or black undercoat and then working up to a brighter colour through various shades of neutral grey. Most people do this with a few airbrush passes from above the miniature, simulating directional light. Leaving a smaller coverage of the lighter tone than the previous layer. They then paint over this base coat with thinned paints and then the coverings they apply look naturally different depending on where they are applied to the miniature. This gives a gradual step change, even though it's the same colour being used. As I said, this technique works best with thinned paints and washes and is pointless with really strong opaque paints. However, not many can explain it better than Thomas David here's a guide over at the old Hell Dorado site. Genius.

Here's an example from Thomas David

There is a cheap way to get a similar effect for lazy people like me that includes using a white undercoat over a black undercoat. It doesn't work all that well in reality, but that's not why I personally did it. I'll mainly be using it as a guide when painting the miniature as to where the light is coming from, and what parts I should treat as highly exposed leading edges. So as a visual guide and reference tool really.

So I took a can of Citadel Chaos black spray paint and... voila!

As that turned out to be such a roaring success I decided I'd do the base next

Then I took a can of Skull white and did this to it...

...now it might not look like it in these pictures, but it actually worked quite well.

Yeah so sure it isn't quite as professional as if I'd painted the gradients on subtly with an airbrush. Actually it's nothing like if I'd subtly painted the gradients on with an airbrush, but I think I may have mentioned once or twice that at times I can be a right lazy beggar! Just to be clear I'm not really the sort of painter who goes around making sure all the miniature is perfectly undercoated by brush painting any nooks and crannies. If missed a big enough spot I'll go back with a spray can, if it's a small gap, I figure if the black or white brush coat will grip, then the base coat will too. Now there's a lazy tip for some of you!

Where next?

Well that should be pretty obvious thankfully, to the painting table of doom to see if I can drag my sorry ass into gear and get painting again. The first thing I'll be painting is undoubtedly Maagaan's face as I always like to paint my miniatures from the 'inside out'. By this I mean I like to paint the deepest parts of the miniature first, this is so I don't have to end up going back past areas on a miniature I've already painted with a loaded brush full of paint. Looking at Maagaan now he's assembled that probably means painting the inside of his cloak as well and then his suit of armour, which thankfully is the majority of the miniature. I'm more than happy with this work program as I'm still unsure as to how dark or light I want to paint the fur pelt, and depending on where I go with his armour I guess I'll need to perhaps temper it with the fur cloak. God only knows how much of the miniature will be painted by next Friday, knowing my recent success with painting, not very much of it. But I will promise to stick with it and try a write the next article up by Friday (2/3/2012). I am concerned though that thus far it's actually tested my patience quite a bit as a project. Crumbs, is my mental block that bad? Peace out!

Subsequent articles

Maagaan WIP 2: Flesh and Inner Cloak

8 comments:

  1. Ah, so this is the secret project? Cool! I hope you'll take that mentak barrier of yours and smash it into tiny pieces. I'm looking forward to this guy getting some colour on his cheeks. :)

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    1. Me too Martin, me too. I've managed to do a bit but I'm not even half way yet. Already other things getting in the way. Excuses maybe? Trying to find other things to do? Who knows. I'm going to sit down tonight though and try to finish another section off if I can.

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  2. If you're doing a painting project blog series would you also be interested in reviewing a new painting product? Check out www.baddadgaming.com and the Double-Ended Paint Brush. I'd be able to provide a couple of samples to you if you're interested.

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    1. Yeah that's cool. I normally use Winsor & Newton series 7. Have done for pretty much 15 years now it must be. I never seem to get on with other brushes so I never really look for them. I'm told all sorts of brushes are good. Perhaps I should try mixing things up a bit. Perhaps it's the brushes causing the mental block... nah... it's 100% me! lol. Email me at TheFrontlineGamerBlog@gmail.com.

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  3. Colour me intrigued with a dash of envy.

    Damn I missed that painting article the first time thanks for highlighting it again. And my good sir you are deplorable for being an excellent writer and painter.

    PS Finally sorted my blog love it if you could have a gander sometime.

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    Replies
    1. Yep sure no problem. I'll plonk it on my Blog roll too if you like. :)

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  4. That would be ace - thanks you're a brick (channelling Enid Blyton)

    ReplyDelete