Thursday, 15 August 2013

Lost my mojo!

As the title says, I've been feeling a little deflated when it comes to painting this week. True, there's a load going on in other parts of my life that are demanding and attracting my attention, but my last painting experience on the weekend had me hit a bit of a wall.

I will push through it, but it has meant I skipped my normal Wed night painting session - just didn't feel up to it.

I made a tiny bit of progress over the weekend on my tanks, and about the millionth coat on my Ecanus robes.

Let's start with the highlight - the tanks.

First of all, I messed around with black oil paint, heavily thinned with Mineral Turpentine (White Spirits) to tone the dark green on one of the tanks right down to a very dark green. The intention was to highlight back up to the original dark green and then further up the scale to a bright warm green.

I'm not sure if it was a lack of coats on the original green, or a flawed idea, but it just didn't look right in the end.

Here's some pics:

As you can see, it's practically black! When I started highlighting it was pretty clear it was way too dark; so much so I was too embarrassed to take pictures!

Unperturbed, I continued with my tests on the other tank. First of all, I cut a random shape out of masking tape (a star and a random square thingy), masked the back of the tank and sprayed first green, then white. I didn't take any pics of the final picture, but it did come out perfectly. This means I've proven the method to be effective; so long as I spray the original colour first I prevent any bleed from the new colour through the mask. I did somehow, mysteriously, magically end up with overspray on the other side of the tank! I have absolutely no idea how white paint managed to pass over the top and land on the front of the tank, but I shall mask more carefully moving forward.


Next I experimented with Medium Green highlights. Mixing it 1:1 with thinner, I carefully built up highlights on the edges and top of the tank. I've got to say, the colour and tone was exactly what I was hoping for! I actually expected to need a third colour but have decided against it.

As you can see, I might have gone a little overboard and will try backing off the scale of the transition in future. You can also see where my hand-held mask I used to spray straight line transitions didn't quite work - will need to watch that a lot more carefully in the future.

Overall, though, I'm very happy with the result. It's now ready for edge highlighting in Pale Green, varnish, oil wash and weathering!

On to the lowlight - robes.

I've watched the BuyPainted videos a hundred times, I seriously can't see how the heck he airbrushes the cracks between the folds robes without also covering the highlight area with dark paint. Seriously, it's less than 1mm between cracks! I've literally resprayed test robes over 10 times and I'm giving up at this point.

From now on, I will be spraying a base coat and maybe shadows, but everything else will be highlighted with a brush - the point of the airbrush was to save time, but this has had the opposite effect; it has wasted my time and sucked my motivation down with it.

The only saving grace is I've found a colour pallete I like much better than the previous one; much warmer browns and a more natural transition to the bone\sand primary colour. Unfortunately I don't have the paint names on me, so will have to update it later.

Anyways, will probably paint next week now, will have another update then. Until then, have fun painting, and avoid breathing aeresolised turps!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Project Regalia: A Colour Scheme Blueprint Part 4

Only a minor update as drying time is holding me up a fair bit (as is splitting focus with Command Squad Ecanus).

I am changing my plans as I'm just not happy with how things are looking - both for bone-coloured cloaks and for the tanks so far. To that end, my plans are now as follows:

Bone-Coloured Cloaks:
As I reported in my most recent blog post, I don't feel there's enough warmth in the cloaks' colour scheme at present. BuyPainted used two methods, one started with Med. Camo Brown and worked up through Khaki and Light Browns ending with Sand (Ivory); the other started with a Sand coat, then simply sprayed Sandy Brown into the recesses. I'm thinking that now my airbrushing skills have (vastly) improved, I may try the second method again on a test miniature - watch this space for updates.

Dark Green Tanks:
The reality is the current progress would deliver perfectly acceptable tank colour schemes. I'm just not happy with "acceptable", and would prefer to push myself a bit further. There's a guy called Nuclearsaur (sp?) on the interwebs with some simply stunning DA vehicle work I'd really like to attempt to emulate.

So, from here on in my two test tanks will diverge in terms of plan, as follows:

Tank 1 (Rhino):
- sprayed symbol by way of masking and airbrushing
- varnish coat
- oil-wash
- varnish coat
- weathering (via sponging a dark colour, and highlighting underneath)
- weathering powders
- pigment fixer
- varnish coat

Tank 2 (Predator):
- heavy wash in black oil paint to bring the current green tone right down to a dark green
- airbrush back up through Olive Green to a warm yellowy green
- varnish coat
- oil-wash
- varnish coat
- weathering (via sponging a dark colour, and highlighting underneath)
- weathering powders
- pigment fixer
- varnish coat

Experiment C: Dark Green Tanks
Day 2:
With the above plan in mind, and being scared to oil wash over wet paint, all I did with Tank 2 is put on a second dust coat of Olive Green to even it out a bit.

For Tank 1, I sprayed a second Olive Green coat, and then masked off and sprayed a white Dark Angels logo. Now, for the record, I picked the easiest Dark Angels logo I could find, not one I'd actually ever use (I hate the Dark Angle promo logo, but its easy as hell to mark and cut).

I cut the mask in masking tape (standard hardware store 24 hour painters tape), threw it on the Rhino and sprayed white.

Unfortunately I made two critical mistakes:
1) The tape quality is crap, so the edges bled. I've read that this can be prevented by buying better quality tape or spraying the original colour (green in my case) around the edges before spraying white. Apparently the latter technique means that if there's going to be any colour bleed, it'll be the original colour and won't be visible.
2) I put down the mask, then put more masking tape around it as a border, but still somehow managed to get overspray on some parts of the tank. I say somehow because I literally don't see how white speckles could end up on the front of the tank given the way I laid out the tape. Nevertheless it did, and I will ensure I mask better in the future.

Here's some pics:

Next Steps:
For "Tank 1" (I need better names!) I'll try fixing the white bleed with more green, but I'm not confident it'll be effective. Nor do I really care, that's why I'm using a test tank :) What I will do, however, is find another (smaller) logo and another place to spray it and perform the exercise again, using what I learnt, to ensure I have a known good method of achieving the technique. Then I'll go back to my plan stated above.

For "Tank 2", the next time I sit down I'll be tinting that puppy with oil - I'm excited to get into the new plan!

Closing Thoughts:
I enjoyed myself! I learnt some things, and while I was disappointing by the bleed and lack of progress, this is the whole point of Project Regalia, so I remain optimistic and enthused. More updates due this Thursday.

Until then, happy painting! :)

Squad Ecanus Minor Updates

Got a few hours in yesterday, but not much progress to report - even using an airbrush, painting cloaks is a time consuming process.

Anyway, Squad Ecanus got another dust coat of Olive Green on the armour, and I finished the bone cloaks off too. I did deviate slightly from my blueprint in the hope of achieving additional contrast between colours, though I'm not convinced I was successful. Will find out when it comes to washing I suppose. I suspect I'll end up changing the process significantly, I'm just not digging the raw colours I'm using (even were the contrast between highs and lows greater) - they aren't "warm" enough for my liking.

A few pics are attached below; my VMA colours were:
- Med. Camo Brown
- Khaki Brown
- Light Brown
- Sand (Ivory)
- White

I also didn't like how grainy the white was, will have to watch that moving forward (might need some thinner and lighter coats).

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Project Regalia: A Colour Scheme Blueprint Part 3

Experiment C: Dark Green Tanks
Day 1:

I have to admit, I had a ball painting last night! This is a combined update as I had completed a couple of steps last week. My two test subjects are an old Rhino I hastily put together a couple of years ago to test a horrible batch of VGC Dark Green, and a Predator chassis I broke the sponsons off and couldn't be bothered repairing.

1) Undercoat in Vallejo Black Primer (Iwata 0.35mm) @ 20 psi

2) VMA German Grey @ 20 psi, no thinner. I applied this coat all over both tanks, leaving the bottoms pure black (though there was a little more overspray than I would have liked).

Now I got to this point, I wasn't sure if I should skip straight to edge pre-highlighting, or paint another transition coat first. Looking at my range of VMA greys (pretty much the whole range offered), I painted some test patches - I was looking for a grey that was close to the Polyurethane Grey Primer used for top-down highlights in BuyPainted's videos, since the actual primer is way too grainy to use. Here's a pic of the test patches:

As you can see, even VMA Light Grey is a fair bit darker. Oh well, I figured since I have two tanks, I'll try both methods. 

2A) VMA Medium Sea Grey @ 20psi, no thinner. This was painted at the top of the sides and top panels as the final transition coat, but only on one of two tanks. Sorry about the slightly blurry pic.

3) Edge-highlighting: VMA Light Grey @ 20psi, no thinner. I used a piece of art paper as a hand-held mask and sprayed the edges of all panels on both tanks. Again, sorry about the blurry pic, though you can actually see the difference in transition coats better in this pic than the last.

4) VMA Black @ 15psi, no thinner. This pass, I carefully sprayed the panel lines and dark edges. A bit messy, but that's ok as the colour coat and wash will tone the variations down later anyway.

4) VMA Olive Green @ 20psi, no thinner. The colour coat.
Side shots:
Three-quarter shots:

Next Steps:
Ok, next up I need to decide if I'm spraying a 2nd coat of green (I think I will), then varnish, wash, highlight (if needed), varnish, weather, varnish. 

Closing Thoughts:
First off, I have to admit that the dramatic reveal at the end when you spray colour over a greyscale tank is thoroughly enjoyable! I was very happy with how much I've improved by airbrush control, and after a couple of minor stuff ups where I was way too close to the model, I found I could accurately paint a black dot over a rivet from six inches away with almost perfect accuracy.

Secondly, I can't see much difference at all in the tone between the tank with 3 transition layers vs. the tank with 2; perhaps you can? I'll probably skip this step just for the sake of time saving moving forward.

Finally, I think I sprayed too thick - as you can see, the edges of the tanks ended up quite a white-green. Whilst this doesn't look terrible (a LOT of painters edge highlight), I just don't much like the tron look that so many vehicles end up with. The question really is; if I spray a second coat, will it diminish the pre-shading to a point where it's invisible? If I don't, will the washing and weathering process tone it down sufficiently to tie it all back together?

I'll have to sleep on it :) Overall, though, I felt the experiment has been hugely successful so far. Just for shits and giggles, I'm also planning on painting a Dark Angels logo on the top of the Rhino. It's been done to death, and I'm not convinced I'd use that particular logo for my real army, but it'll give me an opportunity to practice complex masking. I might even try the hair-spray + sea-salt technique on that or another white logo as well.

Until next time, happy hobbying :)

Brief Ecanus Update

This will be a double update as I want to keep my experimentation separate from my actual painting progress.

Last night I threw a coat of VMA Light Grey onto all of the armour pieces from a vertical angle.

And then moved on to VMA Olive Green. 

All paint was airbrushed neat (I.e. no thinner), with grey @15psi and green @20psi. 

I'm pretty happy with the progress, they are looking ok and the blend from dark to light green is actually pretty good. I think I did spray a little thick, which resulted in the paint running away from edges and leaving me with some light-green edging, but I haven't yet decided if I'm going to bother with a second coat or just move on as I'm going to have to edge highlight anyway and this might save me a step. Not sure yet.

Next up is to finish the cloaks and start with the details on the armour pieces.