Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Trenloe Complete

Finally complete! It's been several weeks since my last update, but I haven't stopped painting in that time - unfortunately the advice I've read is to leave oil-based washes for 24-48 hours to dry before either re-washing or varnishing and moving on to the next stage. Because I've been super-busy with work, I usually only get time to paint on weekends, so that's meant I only get to paint one wash layer before packing up for the weekend. Very frustrating slowness, but the results are more than worth it.

So, from where we were at the last update, I washed the silver armour with Windsor & Newton black oil paint (heavily thinned with odorless methylated spirits), and the gold with Burnt Umber. This provided a fantastic effect on the brown but I struggled quite a lot with the black - the goal of using oil-based washes is it provided a much lower surface tension compared to water-based acrylics, so it flows much better over the miniature and tends not to leave tide-lines.

The problem is that is has a much lower surface tension and flows much better over the miniature, so I ended up getting it literally everywhere!  Luckily, removing oil-based wash from a miniature once dry is as simple as wetting a clean brush with thinner and carefully brushing over areas you want to remove - it comes right off without leaving any staining at all on the layer beneath. This is why it's taken so long for me to finalise the miniature - I washed, touched up, washed, and re-touched up. So that's 4 x 48hours...

Anyway, once that was finished I edge-highlighted the silver and gold with the original Liquid Gold colours, and I spent a fair bit of time glazing the face as I really wasn't happy with how it was looking. To be honest, I'm still not happy with how it turned out, and it's likely the last time I'll be using the Vallejo Game Air range for flesh-tones again - Bronze Flesh is way too yellow and very difficult to bring warmth back to the overall tone. Probably just my lack of skill, but I think I'll stick to Vallejo Game Colour moving forward as they have a much nicer general Fleshtone colour to use as a base tone.

In the background, I've also spent some time mixing up my own acrylic washes. I frequently have issues using Vallejo's Game Colour Washes (I find them way too thick, and difficult to thin properly), and to be honest I really, really miss the old hex-pot based Citadel washes. Anyway, I've followed advice from Lester Bursley Miniatures and mixed Water (10 parts water : 1 part Liquitex Flow-Aid) and Matte Medium - 50:50, and then added various Daler Rowney acrylic-based inks to create a range of colours. My early tests with the final product are pretty promising but more on that as time progresses.

Here's my final pictures - still a bit messy, but very much keen to move on! Next up will be a bit of deviation from my normal Descent miniature painting, more on that in my next post. Until then, happy hobbying!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Trenloe the...shiny?

I'll get the hobbying in just a mo, but I wanted to take a second on something else first, so please bear with me...

The reason I had some hobby time tonight is because my wife went out with her sister. They don't go out much together outside of pretty regular coffee catch ups, so that's pretty rare itself, but tonight they had the special honour of being asked to attend the opening night of My Fair Lady at the Opera House in Sydney. They were invited because their mother, Paddy Roberts, was a dancer in the original Australian production of My Fair Lady back in the 60's and toured the world with the show. Pretty amazing stuff. Unfortunately Paddy passed away a few years back after a pretty inspiring battle with cancer, but the revival production company (directed by none other than Julie Andrews herself) weren't aware so they sent Paddy tickets for herself + 1 in respect for her original performance, and then allowed my wife and her sister to attend on her behalf. My wife's on her way home so I'm sure she's full of stories and a blend of emotions, but just wanted to share this story with whoevers reading this as its a pretty amazing story; to us anyway. 

So, as they say, on with the show! Back to Trenloe and my Frankensteinian experiments :)

Tonight I started by masking off the miniature so I could safely airbrush the shield. Now, I would advise way more patience than I displayed (I reckon I was lucky nothing went horribly wrong), but in short succession the shield received an airbrushing of Satin Varnish, then Chipping Medium, then Scarlett Red. After each coat I'd simply use the airbrush to spray pure air on the model for 10 minutes until it was dry to the touch. Like I said, I'm surprised I got away with it. 

Here's the shield masked off and ready for chipping:

I then used a damp brush (a standard Kolinsky, which is surprising given I'd read I should use a stiff brush) to wet sections of the shield and slowly brush away the Scarlett paint, revealing the woodgrain underneath. I worked slowly and cautiously until I realised how hard it was to judge whether I'd removed enough red with all the masking, so I set to removing both the tape and the masking fluid. This brings me to the only minor issue I experienced all night - the masking fluid was an absolute fucking nightmare to remove! Now, granted I used a bottle that has been sitting on a shelf for a little over a year, so maybe it was way thicker than it should have been. I also wasn't masking a nice flat surface, it was detailed and curvey and quite complex. But I easily sat there with my toothpick and at a few stages a scalpel too, pulling away what had both the consistency and visual appeal of dirty snot! Sorry for the visual, but it's a direct correlation to my experience with this stuff. Painful. Slow. It probably took me longer than the 3 airbrush coats and chipping...oh well, lesson learned. 

In the end I decided to leave the chipping where it was - it looks great and did exactly what I'd hoped, it really does look like the front of his shield was originally painted red, but years of battle has worn away the paint until only a hint remains on an otherwise bare wooden shield. I'm very pleased, and impressed with Vallejo's chipping medium (the newer, smaller bottle. No idea if it's the same as the old rebadged AK formula Vallejo still sell in the larger bottle). I'll go back in and hit the larger areas of Scarlett with a highlight in Blood Red, but other than that, the jobs' a goodun. 

To finish off the night, I painted the shield and shoulder pad detail and his belt buckle in Vallejo's amazing Liquid Gold, this time in Old Gold. I also touched up some red overspray with Silver while I was at it. I really can't speak too highly of this paint - beyond feeling a little high from the fumes, it really does give an authentic "metal" look that I've never seen in a miniature-targeted paint. I had also planned to create some small highlights in Liquid Gold's "gold" colour, but alas I've been sent a bad bottle and it had coagulated in the bottom of the pot. I ran it in my Paint Shaker (brilliant little machine, that) for a full 10 minutes, and while I've found 30 seconds to be sufficient to properly mix a bottle of acrylic paint no matter how badly separated, this stuff was just way past saving. Oh well, I don't think it'll matter in the long run.

So, next up I'll seal the whole miniature in Satin Varnish, then I get to play with oil washes for the first time :) I've got to say, while I think I did a horrible job on his face, this miniature really does feel like it's coming together nicely - the colours all work well together and it certainly provides a strong contrast to Shiver who I painted before him. The experiments are also teaching me a great deal about new techniques too, so that's invaluable. 

Anyway, I'll leave you with a couple of pictures of where he's at for now. Hopefully I can get back to him this weekend because the oil washes really will make a huge difference in terms of detailing. Until then, Happy Hobbying!


Sunday, 4 September 2016

Descent: I'm back baby!!! (again)

Wow, just over a year has passed since my last blogpost, and it feels horrible!

I've always been a sporadic painter, I'll hit it hard for 5 or 6 weeks and then can't seem to find the time. It's frustrating because it's absolutely the worst way to learn a skill - every time I take a break I come back rusty and have to relearn everything again. It's actually why I started this blog - it at least lets me document things like colour schemes and techniques I've tried and their success or failure. Unfortunately, I also live in a house where the study I paint in is closer to the sun than Mercury during summer, so I actually only have about 12 weeks of painting time left before it's not going to be possible due to the heat. 

Anyway, enough waffle. Trenloe...I started him alongside Shiver and then shelved him to focus on more necromantic pursuits. So, time to get back to the shiny knight (and boy is he shiny!)

1) I started with the skirt:
     a) 2 DY : 2 BB : 3T to shade and tone down the yellow tones 
     b) 2 DY : 2 ES : 1T for a first highlight
     c) 2 DY : 6 ES : 2T for the final highlight
     d) I edged the skirt with some thinned down VGC Brown Ink

2) The face was a bit of a nightmare. I'm still not all that pleased with it, but after two repaints I'm worried I'll start getting chalky build-up. Here's what I ended up with:
     a) Pure ES base
     b) Custom purple wash (see below) to shade
     c) Re-base coat in pure ES
     d) Highlight in 1:1 ES and PF
     e) For the stubble, I used the ES/PF mix and added just a touch of CG. I thinned this heavily and slowly built up the hairline. I didn't think it was dark enough but I was scared if I went any darker it'd be way too dark so I've left it. 

3) Belt, bags, red sash on skirt, weapon - all the little bits that needed to be done were pretty basic. BB on the bags and belt, CB on the weapon haft, SR on the skirt hem, and BW with a wash of VGC Brown Ink. 

4) Silver, silver, everywhere! So, this was one of the two experiments I wanted to run on Trenloe - Vallejo's Liquid Gold paint range. This paint really is something else, and went way beyond my expectations - as you can see from the pics it's basically chrome in a can! The only downside to this amazing stuff is that it's thinned in alcohol instead of water, so I grabbed some 100% isopropyl alcohol from the local HW store and set to work. It has amazing coverage, it's easy to work with, and the results were fantastic. The only thing left to do on the armour is to wash it with black/brown, but that's for the next update. 

5) The shield...so I wanted to do something a little different for Trenloe's shield. In the box art it looks like he has a wooden shield either covered in blood smears or red paint that has flaked off in battle. I've assumed the latter because a blood soaked shield just didn't make sense to me for this model. To that end I've decided to try using Vallejo's Chipping Medium to recreate the effect. This medium is supposed to be airbrushed onto a sealed colour coat, after which you paint on a different colour and then use a damp brush to "activate" the medium and remove sections of the second colour, exposing the original underneath. My idea is to paint a wooden shield, then airbrush it Scarlett and use the medium to remove most of the Scarlett coat in as natural a worn and chipped look as I can. 

I've started with the wood (on both faces of the shield). I wanted something akin to ash wood, so I used a mix of 2 CG : 6 LB : 1T, and then carefully painted hair-thin squiggly lines in VGC Brown Ink to represent wood grain.

Not knowing if airbrushing the Chipping Medium onto the decorations on the shield would layer cause me issues with Liquid Gold (isopropyl is a pretty strong solvent after all), I thought it would be wise to also paint on some Vallejo masking fluid. Big mistake! This shit is horrible! It's very likely it's because I've had it sitting on the shelf for over a year but it was like adding a cup of water to playdough and trying to brush it onto the model! No idea if it will protect the model, or even come off later when I want it to, but there's not much I can do about it now /shrug

That's it for now. Here's some pics of where I've left it:

From here the plan is to finish the shield (varnish, Chipping Medium, Scarlett, then weather it back to the wood grain), remove the masking fluid on the shield and paint his belt buckle, shoulder pad, shield decoration and the two circles on his breastplate in Vallejo Liquid Gold, varnish the model and finally wash with oil-based washes. 

Hopefully I'll get all that done without another 14 month break! Anyway, until them, Happy Hobbying!