Thursday, September 30, 2010

Project: Imperial Fists, Time vs. Result

After looking at my test paint squad for a couple of weeks, I came to the conclusion I wasn't happy with the fast paint job. The level of detail I had put into them was poor. While painting round 2 I have brought the level of painting up a bit and fix some of the things that annoyed me looking at the test paint squad. The results is I am happy with the 5 new marines I just finished and the project as a whole has slowed down.

So after spending more time cleaning mold lines, painting lenses, cleaning over paint and a whole new method of bases, here is the result:

I am happier with the result, but it will take more like 3-4 hours + drying time per-marine instead of 1-2. For example, the base now requires 3 drying cycles instead of one and they wash is now painted on to where I want it instead of all over, all of this takes time. With painting time being precious as a working Dad, it is going to take a while before I am on to my next project. However, I am much more proud of my army... lesson learned.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On the Bench

I am in full assembly line mode with Imperial Fist Space Marines. The blog is way behind due to getting focused on painting. There are a large number of Space Marines that are in process. I have complete 15 marines that are table ready and 17 that are still on the sprue waiting on me to decided what they will become.

On the Workbench:

20 Space Marines w/ Bolters
7 Space Marines w/ Heavy Weapons
  • 2 Heavy Bolters
  • 2 Lascannons
  • 2 Plasma Cannons
  • 1 Missile Launcher
1 Space Marines w/ swappable magnetized Special weapons
  • 4 meltaguns
  • 4 Flamer
  • 3 Plasmaguns
  • 3 Bolters
2 Sergeant w/ Plasma Pistol and Close Combat Weapon
2 Sergeant w/ Bolt Pistol and Power Fist

Tanks are moving along as well with 1 Rhino done, 2 Rhinos and 2 Vindicators waiting on weathering and painting of additional details. There is also an 8-man assault squad, a chaplain in Terminator armor and a chaplain in power armor that is being converted have a swappable jump-pack. So the workbench is full.

  1. Write Magnetizing Special Weapons Tutorial
  2. Write Using Wreathing Powders on Space Marines Tutorial
  3. The 'Wow, I suck' Battle Report

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Airbrush: Care and feeding

Here is what I know about using an Airbrush for in 40k modeling. This post is mostly about how to avoid destroying your airbrush, long enough to get good at using it.

What I have...

I have the Central Pneumatic Harbor Freight Compressor and Airbrush Kit.

Harbor Freight Central Pneumatic Compressor and Airbrush Kit

For the money it really is a good deal. The one issue I have come up with is you need to replace the color cup (that thing you mix paint into). The intake tub on the color cup is designed poorly and will cause you to waist paint. You can buy a replacement at Hobby Town or any other place that carries airbrush stuff. It will cost you less than $10. Other than that I really happy with it.

What I know about Airbrushes for 40K...

Single vs. Dual action, the answer is Dual action. Really it is. It is like seeing in color. You can paint without it, but it so many things are easier when don't have too. Making on the fly adjustments in the amount of paint will keep you from making mistakes and allow you to paint more naturally. plus you won't have to retrain yourself how to use an airbrush when you get a better one.

Airbrushing is a skill just like using any other tool. There is a learning curve and using the tool more gets you over it. You will have to not only learn to paint with an airbrush, but also how to clean it. Cleaning is as important with an airbrush as with normal brushes. If you brushes are all trashed after a week of use, stay away for airbrushes. Without cleaning the airbrush will be useless very quickly.

Cleaning is a skill. To start Windex is your friend. If you are going to spray acrylics (Vallejo Game Color, Reaper, GW) you can use Windex to not only clean your brush but thin paint as well. There are two types of cleaning.

One is the quick cleaning you do between colors or if you just used the airbrush for quick color. In these cases, I remove the color cup and clean it in the sink with water. Next I clean the area the color cup attaches to the air brush with a paper towel. Then I spray 2 color cup worth of Windex through the airbrush working the action as much as I can. I spray the Windex into a 1 liter coke bottle to keep the Windex fumes down. Last remove the nettle (carefully, it is sharp and fragile) and run a paper towel with Windex over it. Be careful when doing this or it will become a full disassemble.

The other type of clean is the full disassemble and soak. Anytime you run into a problem start here. I also do this cleaning after using the airbrush for an extended time or with a some anything that is tough to spray through the airbrush, like primer. Start by removing the airbrush from the air line. Every airbrush disassembles in different ways, but one thing is true. You should be able to get to every area that comes in contact with paint. You may need some pipe cleaners with Windex to get the whole track clean. Don't use anything metal or that will scratch the inside to clean your airbrush. I don't care if it is made too, just don't. One thing that can be helpful is an ultrasonic cleaner, they can be found cheap and will save you some time. Just dump all the parts in and leave them over night.

I know that is a lot on cleaning, but really it is that important.

Thinning paint is more of an art than science for me right now. You can use Vallejo Game Color and Reaper paints thinned 2:1 (2 parts paint to 1 part Windex). I have not tried any GW paints. Vallejo make Air paints that don't need to be thinned however they are hard to find and don't come in GW equivalents. Liquitex makes an Airbrush Medium for thinning paints. I have used it and I can't say it works any better than Windex. Raito seem more important. If you are going to spay cheaper paint (craft paint), I suggest thinning more like 1:1. You may end up needing to do a full disassemble and soak more often.

Using the airbrush to prime or varnish is simple. To prime I use Reaper Brush-on Primer thinned 1:1 Liquitex Airbrush Medium (1 part Reaper Brush-on Primer to 1 part Liquitex Airbrush Medium). The reason I use airbrush medium verses Windex is that it mixes better. Primer is heavier and settles so by the end of the color cup what I have is more Windex than primer. Varnish just as easy. I use Liquitex Satin Varnish water up to 4:1 (4 parts Liquitex Satin Varnish to 1 part distilled water).

Stuff you may need once you own one...

Windex ($5-6)

Pipe cleaners($6-8)

Ultrasonic cleaner ($20-60)

Liquitex Airbrush Medium ($6-8)

Liquitex Satin Varnish ($6-8)

Distilled water (less than $1)

Monday, September 13, 2010

State of the legion

Well the great tank project is done. So here is the current state of my Steal Legion. Not all the tanks as you can see are weathered or details out, but not a bad looking on the table none the less.

The army is around 3,500 points. Originally there was 109 infantry models. I have been slowly adding more and there is still stuff on my project table. The troops are all metal with 4 base colors and a wash (no dipping for me). I estimate somewhere around 400 man-hours on line troops. Working full time that is about 3-4 months of no TV and no commitments other than work. So I am very proud of them.

Resent additions include finishing up Yarrick and work on the standard. With the Imperial Fist project, I have to keep telling myself not to buy more IG stuff. There is lots of cool new tanks, winged things and stuff. At one point I actually bought plastic Cadians, yes I am addicted to IG.

The Army has won local tournaments, scored respectably at a grand tournaments (16th in painting) and always been fun to play with friends. It is safe to say they are not going anywhere.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tactics: Imperial Fists - Vindicator Charge

Spent sometime working on space marine tactics yesterday. Since I am a fluff bunny my Imperial Fists list includes Vindicator siege tanks.

The Imperial Fists
2 Vindicators w/ siege blades
2 10-man Tactical squads in Rhinos

The Imperial Guard
1 Leman Russ w/LC and HB spons
1 Command Squad
1 Inf Platoon w/command squad w/ flamers in Chimera and 2 squads w/ ML
1 Vet squad w/ plasma guns

We set up with the IG in cover 24" away from the Imperial Fists. The IG would shoot first and we would play 3 to 4 turns or until one side had and an advantage. The IG player was trying to working on how to minimize the danger of assault.

After a couple of games two things became clear. One was that Vindicators are tough and the other is that the key is to keep the troops moving. The real danger to the IG in cover is assault from the marines. Learning this the IG player focused on the Rhinos. So overall the tactics works. Especially if the player focuses on the Vindicator's.

Vindicator Lessons learned
  1. Bring more than one
  2. Make them targets
  3. Keep moving them
  4. Tank Shock
Bring more than one: Vindicators are inexpensive and their value multiplies. One is ok, two is good and three is great. One is good, with one Vindicator you can deny ground if it is in cover but will die under concentrated fire. Two is good, with two the enemy will have to focus on one and the other can move and shoot (more panic). Three is great, with three they become the whole focus of the game (lots of panic).

Make them targets: With more than one keep them in the same area of the broad as things you don't want to get shot at. Running them with Rhinos is great.

Keep them moving: Keep them moving. I am talking about both the Vindicator and the troops. If a Rhino is immobilized, get the troops out and run them. Use the Vindicator as cover.

Tank Shock: A lucky tank shock with your assault troops close can be a quick win. Tank shock happens in the move phase and if they break you can assault many troops and wipe them out.

After playing around with it I am very happy with Vindicators. My 1,000 pts list will have 2 of them and Rhinos and my 2,000 pts list will have 3. :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Project: Imperial Fists, Space Marine Quick Zenithal Highlighting

My goal with the Imperial Fists is a table quality army without putting in a great deal of time. The idea is to have a good looking army and still be able to finish a squad in 6-8 man-hours. I want my marines to look as if they have come out of battle, grimy worn used troops and tanks. Imperial Fists are siege fighters and siege fighting is a dirty business. In phase one I'll talk about how to get quick zenithal highlighting and base coat using the airbrush.

Quick Zenithal Highlights using an Airbrush

I got the idea from this great article from Philippe Villé written in back in September 2008 adn from Les at Basically just use the airbrush as the light source.

Step 1: Prime

Prime the model white. I use the airbrush to prime my minis . It give me more control and better results. I have a paint are set up on my workbench so I can prime right there. Here is the mix I use.

  • 1 part: Reaper Brush-on Primer
  • 1 part: Liquitex Airbrush Medium
  • Clean up with Windex

One note is that this mix is very thin. When airbrushing it on it is very important to work slow and do not let it collect. Let the primer dry for 24 hours (8 would work, but 24 is better).

Step 2: Base Coat

I base coat the whole mini Plague Brown (GW equivalent Bubonic Brown) which is the color of yellow shadow, I know it is brown, but there you go. What I am doing is painting the shadow first. Cover the whole model. You can let the base color dry or paint the highlight right away, it doesn't seem to matter.

  • 2 parts Vallejo Game Color Plague Brown (GW equivalent Bubonic Brown)
  • 1 part Windex

I have found that Vallejo Game Colors airbrush nicely with a minimum amount of thinning. To clean up I clean the color cup in water and run two color cups of Windex through the brush. You will still need to do a full disassemble and clean once in a while, but that works between colors.

Step 3: Highlights

Here is the magic. Hold the mini so that the top is facing the airbrush. Now just paint the highlight color, in this case Vallejo Game Color Sun Blast Yellow (GW equivalent Sunburst Yellow), from the top of the model. You will notice that the calves of the space marine don't get hit with the highlight color. Angle the model just enough to so that the highlight color hit the part of the calf. This is how I judge angle while painting.

  • 2 Part Vallejo Game Color Sun Blast Yellow (GW equivalent Sunburst Yellow)
  • 1 Windex

As you can see below the shadow should be 100% Plague Brown and the highlight should be 100% Bald Moon Yellow. In between is a gradient between the two, the same way blending would create.

From straight on the model doesn't seem dramatically highlighted. However when you look at them on the table it makes a big difference.

Any area of the model that are not lit from above will remain Plague Brown and very edges can now be highlighted further with bleach bone.

From this step the next will be adding detail color, basing and weathering. I'll cover those in the next post. Happy Painting!