Static Grass Applicator - First Steps

So this post will be a little messy because I'm really just fooling around.  Static grass is designed to react to a static field in a similar way to the reaction your hair has when you rub a balloon on it.  I have tried many times to apply grass without a static field and it just looks like matted rubbish, not a nice grassy field.   

You can buy products that do this for you, but as always I want to understand how it works so I am going to try and make my own.

The Apple is a key component! 

The Apple is a key component! 

Here are the parts I have.   

  • Two small steel plates
  • 9 volt battery
  • Bunch or wires and clips
  • Negative ION generator
  • Apple core (every project needs sustenance) 

The only important part here is the negative ION generator.  It basically creates a static field between the generator cable and ground.  Hook up the positive and negative terminals to the battery and clip the generator cable to one steel plate and the ground to the other.  Blue tack your base smothered with PVA glue to the ground plate and lay static grass over the generator plate.  

Turn it all on!  Grass everywhere!  It does work though.   

First attempt side view

First attempt side view

Second attempt top view

Second attempt top view

The grass flies all over the place and some of it sticks to the glue.  My problem with the first attempt is that it seems to go on thin.  It's good, but it could be better. 

Next step is to take away my hands, as they are grounded they mess up the field, and try to use gravity.

Pre-Shading and Leather

I've been looking for a good leather combination for quite a while.  I've tried lots of layering combinations and a few wet blending techniques and I could just never find something that looked realistic.  One thing I find when looking at pictures of leather (google searching leather things is weird) is that leather both holds shadows well (dark darks) and is reflective nearly as much as metal sometimes.

So I thought I'd try a new technique I'd been keen on giving a crack, pre-shading.  The technique is simple, just shade the area black to white using whatever technique you like best (I've used layering).  Then apply layers of very thin glazes over the top to give it colour.

Ignore the dodgy coat, it's a failed test.

So this picture shows the pre-shading step.  I wanted this leather to look a little darker so I've  left the blacks very black and not highlighted to high on the white.   I'm using Vallejo Model Colour black and white colours.  I find they are not grainy and handle the wet palette very well.  Next up is the shade.  Army painter to the rescue.  I generally don't like army painter products.  Their paints have arrived dry, their base coat sprays go on VERY thick and once i nicked a can with a plastic knife and BAM paint everywhere!  But they two excellent products that I've used.  Strong tone and Soft tone.

These are very thin paints with nice smooth pigment that go on as glazes.  When combined with the process above, they produce a leather I'm happy with.  Here is the same bag with just soft tone.  There are about 5 layers, maybe 6, on it, but each layer is really simple, just was it on.

To be honest, I'm not overly happy with my pre-shade or how dark it turned out, but the camera washes out the picture a lot so it makes it look worse than it is, but I am happy with the colouring and highlighting.  Different tones of leather can be achieved with adding inks into your soft or strong tone (not much!).  Also after your first layer, you can achieve greater contrast by avoiding the whitest of areas and focusing the colour on the darker areas.

 

The boots on the captain were done in this fashion, so was the belt.  The boots have a tiny bit of brown ink mixed in and lots of layers of soft tone, the belt has just a couple with no brown.  Different effects (I think) but the same process.  Now my goal is to make it a faster process.

 

The Captain - Non Metallic Metal Adventures

Finally finished the captain.  He didn't take all that long, but I got held up waiting for the right tools to finish his base.  He's a 28mm model from the Heresy miniatures line in white metal.  I normally prefer to paint plastic and resin, but this model is one of my favorites.  He has so much character and so nicely crafted I just couldn't wait to paint him.

The metal is entirely NMM (Non-Metallic Metal).  White to Dark Gray to Black for the metal plates, White to English Uniform to Burnt Umber for gold and White to Dark Sea Blue to Black for the sword.

The base is just cork, green stuff for the cobblestones (I got a green stuff roller from Laser Shark Designs, great web store), static grass (woodland scenics I think).  The lavender is made from bristles of a paint brush (a big one for painting walls) painted green then dipped in sand.  The sand is painted purple and then they are just stuck into the grass tufts.  Really simple.

I had heaps of fun painting this guy and learned a lot about NMM.  Questions, comments and criticisms are always welcome.

Project Complete - Swamp Monsters - Night Stalker Doppelgangers

I wanted to give the impression that my Doppelgangers were gooey swamp monsters oozing out of the slimy swamp that makes up the theme of my army.  To try and achieve this I've used a lot of my old miniatures (including a bunch of Warhammer quest minis).  I painted the eyes the same way as the rest of the army, glowing purple, and embedded them int he resin swamp.  I've used Vallejo water effects to goo them up.

I'm fairly happy with the result, though all the shading and highlighting I did has blended into the glossy effect and the glowing eyes don't have the impact of the other models I've done.  I still feel like they do the job well and I'm happy with the result.  I have two regiments of these guys, this is the first.

Photos have come out a bit dark, I don't think I'll re-do them though.  Perhaps when I do the second unit I'll add some new photos.

Project Complete - Arachnophobia Night Stalker Needle Fangs

The next unit up in the Night Stalker army creation is the Needle Fangs.  I had a vision of this swarm as a plague of void creatures skittering through the deeper and denser parts of the swamp taking on the guise of the greatest insect fears, arachnophobia.

The models are Warhammmer Quest spiders.  I've had them for 20 years and never have they been close to a paint brush until now.  I've followed the same formula as the rest of the army.  I decided in the end not to overcrowd the base as I just didn't think it would have the same effect.

The base follows the same scheme as the rest of the army.  It's a bit deeper in resin swamp water and has no land to represent difficult terrain.  The rocks are real rocks as usual, all painted of course, and the stick is a real stick also sealed and painted.  I really like the reeds so I'll be doing more of them in the future but perhaps the base could have used a little more colour.

I now have a regiment, two troops and a monster.  All the ingredients of a small army.  My next post will have a progress group photo.  The next unit I'm working on is the Doppelgangers, and here's a small spoiler you can expect to see the return of some of the Warhammer Quest miniatures.  What's more scary than old Warhammer Quest miniatures lurching out of the swamp to come and eat your dreams?

Project Complete - Night Stalker Shadow Hulk

The first of my three Shadow Hulks for my night stalkers. This model is almost entirely airbrushed.  Black undercoat first (Vallejo) then a dark gray for a small highlight from above.  Each set of scales was then highlighted with a lighter gray using blue-tack to mask and allow the airbrush to focus on a single scale.

Purple effect was airbrushed into each of the slits and holes to create a minor OSL glow effect.  White was painted into the slits and holes then, very thinned down to get into the cracks.  Thicker white painted over that for coverage.  Purple ink and some minor highlighting where required.

Lots of mat varnish to seal each layer and a final mat varnish to seal the whole model.  I find the airbrush paints rub off easily if you don't varnish.

The base is the same as the rest of my models.  I tried to create a little waterfall and while it didn't work as intended it did make a nice stream effect.  The water surface is broken up with Vallejo water effects.  They're good, but by prepared for them to shrink a lot.

I think it's my best night stalker yet and I'm getting better with the airbrush.  Comments are definitely welcome.

Project Complete - Mortis Engine

This conversion has been sitting in the back of my brain for months and months.  I bought the GW scenery a long time back with the intention of building this conversion and finally I've managed to complete it.

The base is built with plasticard, river sand, tuft grass and milliput.  I'm happy with the base but the OSL is not my best work..  The ethereal tornado is the part from the scenery, crafted into the base and I used an air brush to create the highlights.  It was harder than I thought it would be, but I'm happy with the result.

The platform is the base from the balewind vortex.  The stones are milliput and sand is stuck to them and the edge of the platform to make it appear as if it was plucked from the dirt. 

The necromancer is a wonderful model from hasslefree miniatures.  His cape is airbrushed and his body is completed with layering.  The slaves are zombie bodies and empire militia heads.  Inked and layered I've dirtied them up with black pigment.  The blood is my ink mixture, but the blood in to the pools is envirotex resin with the blood mix.  Vallejo water effects is used to create the ripples in the whirlpool.

I'm very pleased with the result, i hope you like it.

Project Complete - Night Stalker Fiends Regiment

So it's been a while between posts and it's not because I haven't been busy but I've been trying to run two projects at once so neither of them have been completed in a very fast fashion.  The other project is also almost done, but in the mean time here is my second Night Stalker unit, a Regiment of Fiends.

Different from the Shadow Hounds I have used an air brush for most of this unit.  I'm pretty new to air brushing and you can see some of my mistakes but I'm very happy with the end result.

I added a new plant to my basing theme and a tree.  The reeds are from a paint brush (wall painting flat brush) and stuck together at the base with hot glue.  Then under-coated with the air brush, base-coated Vallejo Black Green and then highlighted with Vallejo Air Khaki.  I'm pretty happy with them as they are pretty easy to make and I like the effect they bring to the base.

A little bit less water on the base in this model, which I regret.  Future night stalkers will have much more water as this one just doesn't look swampy enough for my liking.  

For anyone reading this I would love to hear what you think.

Project Complete - Dogs of War - Volands Venators

So this project started out as test to see how quickly I could paint non metallic metal using the loaded brush technique and an opportunity to practice my loaded brush wet blending.  I never really expected to be totally happy with the results due to the speed at which I wanted to paint them.

Credit where credit's due, Painting Buddha is an excellent site where I learned so much about how to paint with this technique and one of the main reasons for giving it a crack.  Please visit their site and check out their videos, or even better donate or join so that they can afford to keep it running.

I'm fairly happy with the results in the end, especially on Voland himself and I've really enjoyed painting these models.  There are actually 7 of them, I've only posted 5 because they photograph better.

New Project: Night Stalkers Fiends Regiment

Time for a new project.  Fiends are a core part of the night stalker MSU army with their great movement and strong combat skills so they're next on my table.  For this unit I'm going back again to the Tyranids and looking to use their Warrior models.

GW Tyranid picture taken from the GW site.

GW Tyranid picture taken from the GW site.

Justification

The warrior models are on hoofed feet and I figured they were appropriate for either Butchers or Fiends.  Butchers are shambling and the warriors just look to fast and agile to suit the shambling rule.  All of my shamblers are going to be on snake tails to make them easily identifiable.  The sprues come with lots of different arms and with some small mods I can setup a savage looking unit with minimal fuss.

Modelling

Obviously the guns have to go.  The sprues I have come with enough options for most of the limbs to be claws, but I'm two short.  I have spare bits I'll use for that or do something interesting with the non-gun arms as they have tentacles coming out of them that fit into the weapons.  I'm also re-positioning the legs as they look too static for a fast moving unit in their default pose.

Continuing my swamp basing scheme will be fun.  This time their going to be splashing and wading int he water a little and that's going to be much tougher in that I'll need to do some greenstuff modelling and then clear resin casting along with other water effects.

These models will be a little brighter than the hounds with some extra effects of light around their heads and hands, but they're still stealthy so expect them to still be quite dark and contrasting against the colourful swamp.  No fillers for these guys, 3 per base as they are supposed to be.

Non Metallic Metal - Practice Practice Practice

 

Non metallic metal, or NMM,  is a daunting endeavor.  Almost every video you see will look painstakingly difficult and time consuming.  The outcome looks fantastic and best of all you don't have to work with metallic paint.  I hate working with metal paints because the clump, they are hard to get even and in bright light they they are so reflective it's hard to see how you are painting.  They also get into your water and infect your other paints of you don't change your water.  

My Dogs of War / Kingdoms of Men / Empire of Sonnishtal are largely heavily armored humans and I want to paint a whole army with NMM, so with that in mind I needed a faster technique.  I stumbled across the loaded brush technique and here I am.  

Completed first attempt  

Completed first attempt  

You can find heaps of detail on how to perform the loaded brush technique of wet blending on Painting Buddha, a wonderful site that you should really support if you find them helpful.  They make amazing videos. 

So the trick with this technique is practice practice practice.  Learning how wet to make the brush, how much highlight to put on the tip depending on the size of the material and how bright you want the highlight and the right thickness of each of the paints.  When you do it right the results are amazing and right now I get it right 1 in 2 or 3 (or 4) attempts. 

image.jpg

So to practice I'm painting a unit of Knights.  The pictures on Here are the WIP, and almost the whole model is done with the loaded brush.  They are far from my best work, but it is quick, maybe half an hour for the metal on each horse, and I'm getting faster.  Please (pretty please?) ignore the shoddy work on the extra bits like gloves and faces, like I said these are practice models for the NMM look and otherwise paited up to "battlefield" quality.

Final horse, obviously not complete but the armour is

Final horse, obviously not complete but the armour is

Nightstalker Shadow Hounds

Now that my swamp base is done I've been working on some shadow hounds to occupy it to define my night stalker army style.  I wanted something dark, nightmarish, black and evil but also a little colour.  Eyes aren't really enough colour for me, but the Tyranid models that GW use have lots of areas that I can set to glow with the inner purple power of these creatures.

 I used loaded brush a lot on these guys to get the blending of light gray to black to give them some depth.  The purple is simply white and then layered up to purple and a drybrush OSL.  I wanted a good effect without spending a month on each unit and I'm happy with the result.

Next step for me is the second unit of these Shadowhounds.  This unit is the lead and the second troop will be behind.  The scenic bases will match and join together with magnets when done to make a regiment.

On another note, I've added a subscribe link to my blog in case you're interested in hearing about what I'm working on.  

Creating a Swamp Basing Scheme for Kings of War

My last post was on the inspiration for the swamp basing scheme for a Kings of War Nightstalker army.  Since then I've completed my first base.  This is for a troop of cavalry and will be used for Shadow Hounds.  Those models aren't painted yet so won't be attached for a little while more, but I'm using Hormagants from the Tyranid range of GW 40K.  Water effects are easy and fun, so here's how to give it a go.

The finished product

The finished product

Step 1 - Cut your base

There are lots of places that will pre-cut you some MDF to the size you want and that's fine.  I have a large sheet of acrylic that I use and I just cut it with a jig saw and sand it down when I'm done.  It works fine and makes a good starting base, plus it's a little cheaper.

Step 2 - Mounds and Lakes

I use Fimo Modelling Clay for this step.  You can use something else if you like, Milliput for example, but just be sure that it's easy to sand once you're done.  I like clay because it's super cheap and you use quite a bit.  Mold it into place on base just as in the picture.  The low parts will fill with water.  If you have a log or a stone, make impressions in the clay before it dries.

Once the clay is all dry, snap it off and glue it down.  If you used Milliput it will bond to the base, but clay won't so use a little super glue will bond it.  Once bonded, mix some white glue with water and paint over it.  This creates a tougher surface and ensures it won't chip later.  Once again if you used Milliput this isn't necessary.

Step 3 - Sand, Rocks and Logs

Glue your rocks and logs down into the previously molded shapes you made in your clay.  I just used superglue for this part, white glue would work too just take longer to dry.

Clay and putty have too smooth a surface to look like mud or sand when painted so you'll need to add some texture.  You can use Modelling Sand (whatever brand you like) but I'm stingy so I just use cheap sand from the hardware store.  I got 10 Kg for about the same price as a small baggy of sand from a craft store.  It's fine, it's clean and it works really well.  If you want it finer (mud looks better with REALLY fine sand) like I did, just crush it in a mortar and pestle first.

Mix your sand with watered down white glue and paint it on over the mounds.  Clump it where you want to make it look wetter, messed up or mossy.

Step 4 - Who wants Moss?

Spread undiluted white glue across any surface you want to be mossy.  Don't add water because you won't get enough depth from your moss.  While the glue is still wet, you have a while white glue dries slow, pour on as much sand as you can or dip your base into the glue.  Press the sand down to spread the glue through the sand and then wait a few minutes.  The glue is pretty tacky when wet so you don't need to leave it to dry, so tap the excess sand off your base.

Stick down some extra skulls or rocks or whatever you like and you're ready to paint once it's dry.  You could add some things like mushrooms now but I find it easier to pick placement a bit later.

Step 5 - Paint.

Pick your colours, undercoat black, paint, ink, drybrush, airbrush, whatever you like.  This isn't a painting tutorial but if you're reading this and you want to know my formula just leave a comment below and I'll post it.

Step 6 - Plants

To make my plants I went to my local hobby store and bought everything that looked leafy that I could use.  I cut the leaves off and arranged them into plants.  To make the ferns I bought a few plastic palm trees from Eckersleys, cut the fronds off and stuck them together with a greenstuff base.  It's easier than you think.

Once you've put them together, undercoat black and paint them.  They're plastic so they are fragile and the paint might crack so cover them in mat varnish of your choice.

Mushrooms are easy.  Get a small peice of wire, put a small ball of greenstuff on the end and wrap it around into the stalk.  Then get a larger ball and just push it onto the end.  They look great and add some real contrast to your base.

Step 7 - Water

This is the hardest step and you can't just paint over it if you stuff it up, so take care and run a few tests first.  I did 4 test runs with different levels of ink and base paint colour to determine the colour scheme I wanted and settled on a fairly transparent green with a hint of brown.  The mix is roughly two table spoons of resin to 5 drops of ink (Vallejo) in a ratio of 4 green (Black Green specifically) to 1 brown ink.

The resin I've been using is Envirotex Lite.  It's readily available and pretty cheap.  Some forums will suggest other options, another is ICE Resin, but I've never tried them.  Envirotex Lite does a good job and is very simple to use.  Use gloves when you use it, not because it's overly harmful to your skin but because the risk of getting some on your fingers and then putting them in your eyes is high if you don't.  There are heaps of tutorials on you tube on how to use Envirotex Lite so I won't go into it here.  Google is your friend.

Once I was happy with the test results I used masking tape to mark around my diorama the height I wanted the resin to go to.  I had previously picked 6mm because masking tape comes in that height from the hobby store but you can pick any height.  

Then it's just a case of pouring your resin in.  Pour it in VERY slowly.  The best way to do this is to drill a small hole in the side of the cup holding your resin and drop it through that in a continuous stream.  It won't push into all the gaps on it's own, I used a toothpick to push it into any gaps that it's viscosity prevented it from going on to.

Step 8 - Cover and Let Cure

Cover it up so dust doesn't get in, trust me you'll regret it if it does or even worse if a bug crawls into it and get's stuck in the resin!  Once done, roughly 24 hours to be sure, pull the tape off and sand the edges flat with the finest sandpaper you can.  Use a gloss varnish to clear up the edge and here's the result.

Thanks for reading, I hope you get something out of this post, please leave a comment below or share this post.

Basing the Night Stalkers

In my previous post I talked about the inspiration behind the Night Stalker army I want to build.  In this post I'm looking into the basing of the army.  The creatures themselves will be mostly black with some OSL, so the bases really need to make the army.  The bases need to create a nice contrast with the evil black creatures stalking through them.  I've decided that I want a deep green swamp basing with plenty of water effects, colourful growth and deep green growth.  Fallen logs and moss will play a big part.

Here's my inspiration research.

Swamp bases work well when there's stark contrast between the elements.  I need to combine this with the stark contrast with the night stalkers treading through them.  I recently picked up a two part water effects resin kit and the next step is to get competent with that.

I've also never created mossy surfaces.  I really like the second picture with the mossy rocks and logs.  I've sourced a few places that sell stumps but I'm planning on using real sticks along with some greenstuff to model the fallen logs.

I'm still looking for a good place to get small plants like ferns and reeds from, but I'll try the color scheme and water effects first and make sure I can do it first.

Night Stalkers - My First KoW Project

Now that I've completed my first Kings of War tournament I've decided that I'm going to blog a little more about getting into the hobby.  My particular inspiration is coming from the new Night Stalker list.

What I love about this list is that there are no models for it.  Not only that but the list doesn't really have a counterpart in any other game.  The team that created it has drawn inspiration from Babylon 5 (one of my favorite TV series ever), the Tyranid army (the only 40K army I ever played) and from the looks of the lists from several classic horror films.

I've done a bit of research to help me find the right inspiration for this army.  Here's a gallery that shows what I'm thinking this army should look like.

Black is a colour that can really blend into the background, so lighting is going to be important.  Basing will also let me have very dark models without making the whole thing feel unpainted.

I'd like to try a few techniques that I haven't worked on before with this army.  The first is going to be for the base, and that's water effects.   This army is going to be based around lush green swampland filled with water, fallen logs, critters, plants and moss.  Probably not a lot of grass, but reeds and weeds a plenty.  A dark and bold green will be the primary colour for the bases and I plan to produce one of these before even assembling a single model for the army.


How to Create a Wet Palette for 8 Bucks

Creating a wet palette is really easy and since putting one together my painting has been so much easier I'm wondering why I didn't do it before.  Why do you want a wet palette? Well firstly it keeps your paint moist for a longer period of time than any other palette so you'll waste less paint.  Secondly it's an easy way to thin your point for wet blending or layering.  If you've got a good air tight lid you can also leave it for quite a while and then return to your paint without it drying out.  So if you want to create one yourself, here's a few simple steps.

1. Take a trip to Daiso

Daiso is a cheap or thrift store that sells household stuff.  I chose them because they were local and they are cheap but any cheap store will do.  Here's what you'll need.

  • 1 Lunch Box, small and flat
  • 1-2 flat kitchen sponges
  • Baking paper (not wax paper, it's not porous enough)

Actually that's it.  Let's get to making.

             Plenty of lunch boxes to choose from at Daiso though you might want something a little less... bear.

             Plenty of lunch boxes to choose from at Daiso though you might want something a little less... bear.

2. Cut your sponges into shape

Trace the shape of your lunch box onto your sponge or sponges and cut them to ft snugly into the box.  Slice off one corner of the sponge so it's easy to check the water level and refill when required.

3. Cut your baking paper into shape

Repeat step 2 with the baking paper.  It  might be a good idea to cut a few of these while you're at it because you'll go through them pretty quick.

4. Stuff It Up

Stuff your sponges into the lunch box and then fill with water so everything is wet to the touch.  The water level should be half way up  or so when you look through the hole you've cut.  Once it's all wet, put your baking paper on top so that the hole in the corner lines up.

5. Paint a Masterpiece

This is the only hard part.  Good luck with your painting.  Here's the finished product.

Creating Motivation

So I figured that it would be a good idea to have my first post in this blog be about how to create motivation in three easy guidelines.  I have been in this hobby for over 20 years in one way or another and during that time I have spent years at a time not picking up a brush or dusting off my models because I had lost motivation.  Right now my motivation is high and here is how I like to keep it that way, so if you're in the same boat or if you're struggling to keep motivated, perhaps this list of my thoughts could help.

1. Create a narrative for your work

Every piece I work on has some kind of narrative that describes the background and history of the model.  Even a piece as simple as a tree should have some kind of thematic story to help inspire me to produce my best work.  My current Warhammer Vampire Counts army has a narrative for each model or unit.  Here's an example for the short narrative for my zombie horde.

Did the blood sacks that made their lives a the base of Blood Peak really deserve anything but death? Their meaningless existence growing brown weeds from the ground to do nothing but extend their short useless lives would serve to end the hunger of the Strigoi. He ate the women, and the children. Oh the children, such delicious young flesh. But the men, with their able bodies, they would serve in death as the Strigoi returned to conquer the empire and make it as it was.
— Leithel on VampireCounts.net

2. Share your work, share it often

Doesn't matter who you share it with, but share it with someone.   There are forums, blogs, Facebook groups and gaming groups everywhere who are always ready to show some appreciation or give you some feedback.  It doesn't matter if you're not good, feedback will help you get better and I find is fantastic motivation to get better.

3. Use the Internet

The internet is chock full of resources that can help you learn how to paint better.  You tube is one of the best resources around with fantastic channels ranging from beginner to expert.  Here are my two favourites but there are heaps more, if you find one that you really like let me know.

This is a fantastic painting training vlog for all ranges of painters from beginners to advanced.  Dr Faust delivers his painting tips very well with some really fun and interesting projects.

I only found this one relatively recently but if you're keen to get into wet blending and want to learn how to use those really expensive brushes well this is a great blog.  I haven't send them any money or joined their online community though, if anyone does I wouldn't mind hearing about it.