Sunday, May 31, 2009

The "Secret Project" to Make Something That Will Make One Part of This Hobby Easier...

OK, longest post title ever...but it basically sums up what I've spent a few hours working on lately.

Here's a pic (taken with the camera on my phone, which is "eh" at best for this sort of thing) of the almost-completed light-box I built to make taking close-ups of minis easier.

I was going to go the "cut up a cardbox box to make the frame" route, which certainly works and does what a "light box" or "photo box" is supposed to do...but for some reason, that just didn't seem like sturdy enough (and yes, I know just how crazy that sounds). I figured if I was going to take the time to actually build something like that, I might as well make it so I only have to build it once. I know me, and knowing me, I'm pretty sure if I'd built one out of cardboard I would have damaged/destroyed it before getting more than one or two uses out of it.

I had a couple of ideas floating around in my head for a possible design. I was thinking about making the frame out of PVC tubing, or something similar. Not wanting to re-invent the wheel, I paid a visit to one of my most favorite sites in all the Internet: Instructables. A quick search yielded a potential design using electrical conduit, but that seemed perhaps a bit too involved. However a little more searching and I discovered this design, which utilized expandable window screen units and was "folding" for easy storage/travel and actually looked very professional. We had a winner!

I wasn't able to find "squard" window screens, so I had to modify one of the screens with the trusty Dremel to make it square for the back panel, but other than that I followed the plan from the instructable pretty closely.

I'm very pleased with the results. I picked up a "utility light' (basically a light-bulb socket and an aluminum reflector) and a couple more "Daylight" (6500K...supposedly, anyway) compact flourescent bulbs and I can pretty well flood the interor the light box with bight, diffuse light.

All that remains to be done is adding the "diffusing material" (yep, I used a cheap bed sheet, too) to the back panel (which I'm going to do today) and then do some trial runs. I'll post up some the results of the trial runs either today or tomorrow.

Anyway, that's my latest little tangential project to enhance my hobby experience. What little side projects have you taken on make something that will make some part of the 40K/WFB hobby easier, better, or simply more "professional" looking? Have you ever had an idea for something -- a new tool, some object, or maybe even a new process or way of doing things -- that you think would enhance your hobby in some way? If you have....share it! You never know what kind of inspiration you may get -- or give!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Back for the Attack!'s been a while.

When I last updated, I was talking about getting my motivation back. Well, it's come back with a vengeance! I've been painting or modeling pretty much every night for the last couple of weeks.

What I've been focusing on is "learning to suck less at painting". I've been experimenting with new techniques, new paints, and even -- gasp! -- bought a "real" paintbrush...a Winsor & Newton Series 7 Size 0.

I've learned how to make a wash out of regular ol' paint. I've even learned some very rudimentary glazing methods. The one thing you'll notice in the pic is something "new" I've been working on, and that's highlighting. I'm far from great at it but I'm finally learning how to do it and I'm pleased with my progress so far.

I've spent a LOT of time haunting the Reaper Minis forums, especially the Painting Tips & Advice section. There are TONS of very experienced painters there, and all sorts of tutorials and advice and pretty much everything I've learned over the last few weeks I've gleaned it from there (or followed a link or two from there). If you'd like to learn more about painting, I'd recommend you check it out.

Plus I broke in the wife's new super-sexy Canon SD1100IS camera, and that's why I actually have a picture to show you (along with setting up a little area to actually photograph minis). I have some other things I want to share but I was just trying to get a decent pic out of out it and I think I did all right. Expect more to come in the future now that I have the camera and photo-place more-or-less sorted.

Anyway, about the mini in the picture. He's my new veteran sergeant (well, they're all veterans now, but that's the way I'm used to thinking about them). There's some minor conversion work in there, mainly the arm holding the pistol. I took one of the old "pointing hand" arms from the old Devastator set, whacked off the pointing hand and replaced it with the hand holding the bolt pistol. I had to use some green stuff to smooth out the join to the body, and it's not super-smooth but I'm OK with that, considering it's my first try at something like that. I had the pose in my head as what I really wanted to do and finding that pointy arm was the final piece to the puzzle. I would like to note that while I've heard they actually make one or two models with them, I can't for the life of me find a right-handed power fist! So I went with what I could find and I'm very pleased with the results.

As for paint, I used the Reaper Master Series "Ultramarie Triad" (which contains Ultramarine Shadow, Ultramarine Blue, and Ultramarine Highlight) for the majority of the work, though somewhere in the middle of it I purchased the RMS Blue Liner, and pretty much immediately switched to that for shading/shadows/darklining. The Blue Liner is superb -- dark, smooth, doesn't need much thinning (a trademark of all RMS paints, actually) and it plays very well with pretty much any shade of blue. I also picked up the RMS Clear Blue and did some glazing experiments with it (though not on this mini) and I'm very pleased with it, too.

I still have a couple of touch-ups to do here and there before I'll consider it 100% done, and I'm working on a base that isn't the ol' "rock and flock" (which I've used pretty much exclusively in the past).

I've also completed the terminator I talked about in my last post. I'm pleased with how it turned out, too. I'll get some pics of him up soon. I'm especially happy with his cyclone missile launcher.

On the painting table right now I have one more veteran sergeant and two multi-melta guys. They're very close to done as I worked on them at the same time I was working on this guy. Right now their bodies done, including highlighting, and I'm working on finishing the multi-melta parts and the power fist and bolter arm for the other sergeant and then they'll be ready to go.

When they're done, here's what I'll have left before my current Ultras list is fully painted:

Captain Agemman (A "counts-as" Lysander, so I'm using the Lysander model with some conversions)
8 Thunder Hammer/Storm Shield Terminators
2 Vindicators
1 Razorback
1 Land Raider

The vehicles will actually be pretty easy to do, as I'll fire up the ol' airbrush and knock them out. The TH/SS termis will take a while, but one of the reasons I've taken so long on the 4 guys I have on the table in progress is I've been experimenting and learning with them so doing the termis won't be a matter of conquering a learning curve. I'm not deluding myself, it's going to be a lot of work but I'm actually exciting about doing them now that I feel that my painting had taken a "next step". :)

I've also managed to play at least one game a week (except for last week) since I last updated, and that's gone very well. I've even played against a new guard list and pulled out a win (though admittedly there wasn't much of the "cheaty stuff" in the list, so I don't consider it a "true test"). I'm hoping to play JWolf soonish (note to self: talk to JWolf soon and see about arranging a game with him). I know he'll hand me my ass but it's all about the learning, and I'd like to see just how bad the new Guard is, and I'm pretty sure he'll be happy to show me. Painfully. :)

So, anyway, that's the news. I have quite a few posts planned in my head so stay tuned (or something like that).

How about you guys? What's on your painting table? What have you been pushing yourself to learn lately? What are your hobby plans for the next six months?