Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Painting a Guardsman, the Frag_Dad Way - Part II

Welcome back! (I'm hoping at least SOMEONE is reading this...) Today I'll walk you through the steps to finish off the Guardsman we started here. If it's been a while, I'd suggest you go back and read the General Tips I gave in Part I. At the very least, remember to keep thinning your paints!

The following steps should achieve:

We've basically finished the armour, flesh and fatigues, so let's do the final touches to finish our Guardsman! I think these bits are just as important as the rest of the model - no matter how well you've painted his armour, flesh etc., if you've neglected the details it really shows. When I first started painting I'd do most of the model but not be all that happy with it, but once I started finishing off the details it really pulled the paint job together and looked much better! So let's pick up where we left off:

24. We'll start with the chin strap - paint the lower parts it with Bleached Bone. (No picture).

25. Wash this with Devlan Mud.

26. On to the belt accessories. Paint the grenades and canteen with Gnarloc Green.

27. Wash the grenades with Badab Black, and the canteen with a heavy wash of Devlan Mud.

28. Once dry, highlight the raised areas of the grenades with Gnarloc Green, and do a 'rough' highlight of Gnarloc Green around the canteen. I say rough because I don't want it to look to clean and pristine - it gets used a lot!

29. Paint the handle of the knife with Graveyard Earth.

30. Wash the knife handle with with Devlan Mud.

31. Highlight handle with Graveyard Earth.

32. Highlight handle again with Snakebite Leather.

33. To make the leather of the belt accessories look worn, drybrush some Codex Grey over the surfaces which would see a lot of wear-and-tear, such as around the edges, the studs on the pouch and canteen, and the tip of the bayonet holder (is it still called a scabbard if it holds a bayonet?).

34. Going back to the chips on the armour, underline some of the more prominent ones with a thin line of Dheneb Stone. I tried white, but it didn't look quite right.

35. Overline them with a Scorched Brown. This simulates a 3D effect on the chips.

36. Paint the base with Scorched Brown. Make sure this covers the black properly, (especially around the rim) so this may take more than 1 layer.

37. Now we've done most things except for the weathering pigments and metallic colour. We need to do the spray varnish now (otherwise it will kill the metallics) so grab your model and give it a spray. Make sure you wait for it to dry before you continue! It's wise to test the spray first on an unimportant model (or a bit of sprue) to check that you're not going to destroy your hard work!

38. If you want 'wet' looking mud, paint some satin varnish on the base.

39. Now we need to tie the Guardsman into the base. He's trudging through thick mud, and it looks a bit odd without some consequence of that represented on the model. I use Vallejo's Burnt Umber pigment, mixed with brush-on Vallejo Matte Varnish (to get it to stick to the model) and brush that on around the boots. I try not to go too thick, so you can still see the colours underneath showing through, but just do what looks good to you. The matte varnish works very well - once the pigment mixture has dried, even scrubbing at it with a toothbrush won't take it off easily.

40. Drybrush the mud with Calthan Brown and then Graveyard Earth to give some depth and variation.

41. If the areas where the metallics will be painted have stray coloured paint on them, it's a good idea to paint them black now. There's not enough pigment in the metallics to completely cover the area easily, and you may find underlying colours tend to show through.

42. Paint all the metal areas (knife blade, if applicable, aquila, lasgun nozzle, grenade pins etc.) with Gunmetal.

43. Wash these areas with Badab Black.

44. Highlight with Gunmetal.

45. For some select spots, highlight with Chainmail. This is rather bright, however, so don't overdo it. (The Chainmail highlights here are much too stark - I since went back and dulled them down with thin layers of Gunmetal).

46. To protect the metallic paint, it is a good idea to paint some satin varnish on the bits that will get handled lots (such as the bayonet blade) to stop it wearing off.

And we're done! Hopefully you'll have something looking like this:

So in only 46 easy steps, we have our Guardsman! Now I realise that's a lot, but most of these took less than a minute to do. In addition, you can omit some of the layering (such as on the flesh) if you want to cut down on the amount of painting. I think all the work is worth it though, especially when you see a group of them together.

Even if you've only skimmed this guide and haven't painted up a model yourself, I hope you might have picked up an idea or two. In any case, thanks for reading, and happy painting!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Painting a Guardsman, the Frag_Dad Way - Part I

Sorry it's taken so long for this to appear! I've been busy, and got very distracted... What you're reading is a guide to how I paint a basic lasgun-wielding Guardsman for the 77th.

Anyway, for anyone reading, hopefully by the end of this you'll have picked up some new techniques or ideas. I'll take you through every step, from an assembled model to the finished product. Please note that there's a LOT of pictures in this guide, as I've tried to take pictures at most steps, to be as clear as possible.

Before we start, please read the following general tips that you should keep in mind throughout this process:

GENERAL TIP 1: Thin your paints. This is really, really important. Thick, gluggy paint obscures detail on the model and just generally looks terrible. I'd advise you to use a wet palette (conveniently described in a previous post) but at the very least mix some water with your paint on a tile to thin it down.

GENERAL TIP 2: Find some good lighting. Painting in poor lighting conditions is really not a good idea - not because it will 'damage your eyes' or anything like that (it's actually a myth - read here. Never say 40k blogs don't teach you anything useful!) but it makes it really hard to spot parts of the model you've missed. I've been painting several times in poor light, and every time I've had a look at the model afterwards in proper light, I've spotted parts that I've completely missed painting. I use a halogen light, but at the very least, grab a cheap reading lamp.

GENERAL TIP 3: Clear some space. Painting in cramped work area is not much fun. make sure you've got room to spread out all your equipment within easy reach.

GENERAL TIP 4: Don't be afraid to take a break! Some days (particularly those when I've had too much coffee or a beer or two) I'll find that my painting just isn't going as well as I'd like. If that's the case, I'll switch to assembly of models or do something else entirely.

Here's the paints we'll be using for both Parts I and II:

I know it's a lot, so feel free to substitute as appropriate!

Right, now that's out the way, let's get started!

1. Assemble your model, and REMOVE ALL MOULD LINES! I cannot stress that enough - if you're going to spend an hour or more painting your model, the least you can do is take 5 minutes to scrape off the more obvious mould lines. I'm way too anal about it, and spend more like 45 minutes to an hour removing every single bit of mould line, but it's definitely worth it. I can't count the number of times I've seen a fantastic paint job ruined by someone being too lazy to get rid of the giant ridge smack bang in the middle of the model.

2. Prime your model. Since I go for darker, grittier colours on my models, I prime with black. If you're going for brighter colours go for a grey or a white, although I've never had experience with these. Make sure you leave it for a while (at least an hour or so, but have a look at your paint's particular instructions) before you start any further painting.

3. Now we get to the fun bit! I'm going to do something unusual here - I'll paint the armour before anything else. The reason for this is that we sponge on paint chips which can be hard to control on a model as small as a Guardsman, and there's no point painting the skin and fatigues first if you then have to go back and fix up stray paint spots. I start with Necron Abyss. Don't be afraid to be a bit reckless here - any stray paint will be covered up later. Make sure you get good coverage at this step - being a foundation paint, Necron Abyss is quite good at this. If you're using a standard Citadel paint at this step, you may require a few (thin!) coats.

4. Once the armour is all basecoated, I paint a stripe of Adeptus Battlegrey on each shoulderpad. I judge the width of this by eye, as the paint chipping later helps to disguise variations in the width from model to model.

5. I choose to apply decals on the shoulderpads of my troops, so to facilitate this I paint some 'Ard Coat (brush-on gloss varnish) on each shoulderpad to give a smooth surface for the decal to adhere to.

6. Apply the decals as described in this post.

7. Because I'll do battle-damage later, I only do a mild highlight of Regal Blue along the armour ridges. A brighter blue would interfere too much with the chipping effect, and make to model look too busy.

8. To look as though the top layers of paint on the shoulderpads have worn through, sponge some Necron Abyss over each shoulderpad. This should break up the stripes a bit. Go back over with Adeptus Battlegrey and Skull White and clean up a bit if there are too many spots of blue.

9. Now to give the effect of the shoulderpad wearing through to the (now rusted) metal below, sponge some brown over the whole armour. Pay particular attention to corners, edges, and anywhere else that would get a lot of wear and tear. I use Calthan Brown for this, but choose a colour that gives contrast with your base colour. Again, go back over with Necron Abyss and clean up areas if too much chipping has been done.

10. We'll leave the chipping for now, and come back to it later. I do it this way so that if I stuff up (such as a stray paintbrush painting over already-finished areas) I have less layers to repair.

Now you have a choice here: if you want to paint faces using layering, follow steps 11 to 18 here. If, however, you want a quicker method, replace steps 11 to 18 with a simple basecoat and wash as described here.

11. Basecoat the flesh with your chosen colours. Here, I'll use roughly 50:50 Tallarn Flesh/Dark Flesh. This may require a couple of thin coats to get good coverage.

12. Highlight raised areas with Tallarn Flesh.

13. Wash the flesh with Ogryn Flesh.

14. I paint the black part of the eyes now, for the same reason that we've left the paint chipping alone for now - if I make a mistake, I don't have so many repairs to do. He'll look a bit nightmarish, but the next step will fix that!

15. Using a fine-tip paintbrush, pop a small dot of white in each corner of the eyes.

16. Now back to the rest of the flesh - highlight again with Tallarn Flesh.

17. Not highlight with 50:50 Tallarn Flesh/Dheneb Stone. For the hands, I just highlight the ridges of the fingers.

18. Finally, do an extreme edge highlight with Dheneb Stone. That's the flesh all done!

19. Basecoat the fatigues with Codex Grey. Try and get decent coverage, but it doesn't have to be perfect since we'll wash it and paint over most of it in the next step.

20. Wash liberally with Badab Black wash. (Sorry about the photo!)

21. Highlight again with Codex Grey, covering about 75% of the fatigues. Just leave the recesses as they are. (No photo here.)

22. Highlight again with 50:50 Codex Grey and Skull White or Undercoat White. This time, you want to cover about 50% of the fatigues. Again, on the average trooper I leave it at that, as it gives a nice contrast but is relatively quick.

23. Touch up any black areas such as the belt or boots with Chaos Black or Undercoat Black (the latter being preferable due to its better coverage).

We'll leave it here for now! We've basically finished the bulk of the painting, and now we just need to do the details. We'll come back to this on Wednesday, so stay tuned for Part II, in which we will finish off your Guardsman.

Update: Now Part II is up, which can be found here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Decal Softener Title Fight!

In the blue corner, we have the man himself; the ruler of the ring; the bulldog of boxing - Revell Decal Soft. In the red, the lion with the left hook; the crusher of contenders, Mr. Hobby Mr. Mark Softer (and no, that's not a typo).

In painting up my Guardsmen, I've been starting to apply decals. I want to have a squad number and army symbol on the shoulderpads of my troops, and I want some consistency with these. I'm not confident enough with freehand to be able to repeat it 60-odd times, so decals are my best bet.

As I'm sure many of you know, this isn't straightforward when applying decals to irregular surfaces - the decals won't conform to surfaces without some extra effort*. Decal softeners are the go here, which is the focus of this article. Using the softeners, decal application is quick and easy, and produces some great results. I think squad markings really add a lot to a force!

I'd done my research and Micro-sol was a highly-recommended product when using decals. However, it turned out to be hard to track down in my local hobby stores. The place I looked at first stocked Revell Decal Soft, so I thought I'd grab it and give it a go.

The results were less than satisfactory. Although the decals did soften a little, even after multiple applications I never quite got them to sit completely flat. In the end, I decided to go looking for another product. In that hunt, I found this:

I hadn't heard a thing about this product, but it was a fair bit cheaper than the Revell so I grabbed a bottle. As it turns out, it's great! I can notice the decals softening straight away, and they conform very well to the surface. If you follow the usual tips, it will look like your decals are painted on.

So the procedure for my decal application is:

1. Paint the area of application with a gloss varnish. This gives a nice smooth surface for the decal to adhere to.
2. Apply the decal as usual: cut out the decal, float it in some water until the backing paper falls away, then pop the decal on the model using some tweezers. I find it helps to apply some decal softener to the surface first, but this isn't necessary.
3. Brush some decal softener over the decal and position the decal where you want it. This needs to be done quite quickly, as once the plastic of the decal starts to soften it will break apart if you try to move it. I use a cotton-tip to remove the excess fluid and flatten the decal.
4. Wait for the decal to dry. It will start to crinkle up a bit, but don't worry - that's normal. Just leave it to dry out. You might find you need another application of the softener, so do that if necessary. Sometimes this second application is a good time to use a cotton-tip again to flatten out wrinkles if they haven't entirely disappeared.
5. Once the decal has set, coat with another layer of gloss varnish - this will seal it in. If you've done all of this, it should hopefully be indistinguishable from the rest of the model.

If you've looked into decal application at all, you might have heard people talking about decal setters as well. These are designed to make the decal adhere to the surface better, after which the decal softener is applied. I haven't used a decal setter, but in my experience I haven't needed it.

Here's an example of an applied decal using the above method (a couple of crinkles are evident here under the bright light, but they don't show up once the matte varnish is applied):

This gets coated with a matte varnish later, and looks like this (with weathering having been applied):

So with a first-round knockout, the winner is Mr. Hobby Mr. Mark Softer!

* DISCLAIMER: The effort required may vary. I'll point out that I have been using Games Workshop decals. From what I've heard, softening products affect decals differently depending on their thickness and the paper used, so keep that in mind.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fresh Meat For The Grinder!

I finally finished some more Guardsmen! This is the majority of Squad 812, with only their sergeant and heavy weapon to be completed. I might add some snow or grass clumps to add some extra interest to the bases, but for now I'll leave them.

Sorry about the dodgy photoshop job, but I was in a hurry!

Let me know what you think!