Monday, September 14, 2020

Commission Project: Small Scale Islands



Hello again. After a long hiatus, I've finally been able to settle in and start some hobby work. This year has been filled with two house moves, changing states, a "pandemic", riots, lifestyle changes for my family, and just getting everything squared away with the new house. I will say, given everything that's happened, my family and I are in a good space and I hope yours is too. 


Thankfully, Fightin' Kentuckian was able to rouse me and refocus my skills with a commission, this time for two groups of islands - one representing tropical, and the other temperate (or subarctic) waters - for playing Warlord Games' Cruel Seas and Black Seas. The trick was to represent two very different climates without giving away scale differences between the two sets. For examples, I chose islands and features in the Caribbean and Baltic Seas. The Baltic is characterized by large weathered rocks, rocky "sandbars", and occasionally small clumps of woods where some tough seeds found a foothold. In contrast, the Caribbean is characterized by long low cays, mangroves, and high verdant hilly islands.


I started by cutting the bases using my scrollsaw set to 30 degrees - this bevels the edges toward the top (you just have to remember which side you're cutting!) making it easier to cut the insulation foam. Next, I mounted 1/2" thick foamboard on the cut pieces using Loctite General Purpose Adhesive (this comes in a tube and provides better grip and less warping than Liquid Nails) applied weight and let them cure for a full 48 hours. This helps prevent warping and gaps between the pieces. It's not foolproof, but it helps. Next I cut the terrain with a skinny utility knife, using the beveled edges as a guide. The hardest part was the sandy beaches, since they require a lower slope, that needed sanding with a dremel and more work to get the slope right. 


Once everything was cut, I sanded it down with 150 grit sandpaper and then applied spackling to remove any remaining gaps. After sanding once more, I began painting - the Baltic islands in cool colors (greys, etc.) and the Caribbean islands in warm colors (tans, browns, etc.). A lot of the key to getting terrain looking more "natural" is using a lot of different tones and colors and applying them via blending techniques (stippling, washes, etc.). I could do this with an airbrush, but I think the brush gives me more control and the finally look doesn't appear "airbrushed on" - a hard concept to convey, but you know that "look" when you see it. It also helps to add highlighting as elevation increases or terrain "dries out". You can see this in the Caribbean island sands especially - just like in nature, dry sand appears brighter than wet. 





















Once painting was done, I applied multiple layers of flock, then static grass, then "flowers", then underbrush and sealed everything by spraying with scenery cement. As that dry, I cut the stands of woods. If you would like the technique,  I highly recommend checking out Grand Tactical Battle's scenery page - as I copied it from them. This was then inserted, glued, more underbrush was applied, and then sealed again with scenery cement. 


Since I don't have anything in this scale (especially not anything naval), I borrowed my son's Hot Wheels boat, which is nominally 5-6mm, to give you a better sense of scale.



















That's it for now. What a way to get back into the swing of things. I should have more posts this month, as I have a bunch of half completed projects from last year to finish.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Bandai 1/12 scale K2-S0




Sorry for the delay in updates everyone. If you haven't already heard EoG is moving soon, so that isn't very conducive to keeping my hobby going regularly. This wonderful 1/12 scale K2-S0 droid was the last major project I finished last month and just haven't gotten around to taking some nice glamour shots.

This is my first "large-scale" Japanese figure kit and it was both a pleasant, and frustrating, change of pace from the kind of stuff I normally do. The neck, arm, wrist, hip, and leg joints are all fully poseable; except for the feet, which I glued to the base to keep the figure stable since its quite top-heavy. I assembled this in smaller sub-assemblies at first to make it easier to prime and paint.

The thing I like about Star Wars is the grittiness of it, so I really wanted to make this model look worn without getting too far from the source material. As such, I primed the model in Krylon grey spray primer, hit it with a few coats of hairspray, and then airbrushed a 50/50 mix of Tamiya Black and Sea Blue. Once that dried, I used water to add a chipped paint effect along edges and points of articulation.

I picked out bare metal parts in Vallejo Oily Steel with a light wash of Secret Weapon Soft Body Black. The lighter and darker grey areas are Pewter and Pavement Grey, respectively, with the "warning" areas being Tamiya Lemon Yellow, with a slight coat of hairspray added between each layer to give it a mottled, worn effect. Weathering was done almost entirely with oil washes. To replicate the buildup of dust and dirt in crevices, I added dry pigment to the oil wash. The base itself was from an old Dust model - I ripped out the plastic bottom, glued in a metal washer for weight, primed in Krylon Rust Red, hit it with some hairspray, and then airbrushed it Tamiya Flat Black. I added the caution markings and script decal from an ancient Robotech model (the Star Wars universe has a funky alphabet and that came close enough).










Friday, November 8, 2019

Shinto Temple Complex, Part Deux

Another month, another temple complex commission but this time for Fall-In. To be honest, I can't say there's much different here than the last one I did for Fighting Kentuckian, though there were some changes in color tone. Oddly, I also had issues with my vinyl filler material adhering to the wood - whether that had something to do with my filler or this batch of wood, I have no idea.

The walls this time are a flat off-white finish, while all the red lacquer is built up from multiple layers of Tamiya paints. I started by undercoating all the pieces in Flat Red, then added areas of shadow and highlight by adding in Purple and Orange respectively, and finally applied multiple coats of Red to really bring out a depth of color. Natural wood was done by using long strokes of various shades of tans, browns, and beiges running with the grain. Once given a light, slightly diluted coat of a mid-tone tan, this melds the colors and produces an effect that looks vaguely similar to wood. The pantile roofs were airbrushed with Tamiya Flat Black, then given multiple layers of a 50/50 mix of Tamiya OD Green and Dark Green, and finally highlighted with Olive Green. To give everything a more used look, I added Vallejo European Dirt Wash along the edges of roofs, along walls, and on upper horizontal surfaces.






The "stone" texture is achieved by applying multiple layers of gesso with a stabbing motion of the brush. Unfortunately, the base being MDF means that you have to apply a lot of gesso, but once that's dry it provides a nice rough texture without destroying any texture on the MDF itself. For example, on the gate and bell tower bases, there were lines showing the edges of the stone tiles. As the gesso shrinks, it does fill these lines, but taking a sharp Xacto blade and rescribing them was simple and didn't destroy the gesso either. Once dry, I applied multiple shades of medium through light grey paint, edge highlighting with almost pure white.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Shinto Temple Complex Commission

Recently I was contacted by the "Fightin' Kentuckian" to assemble and paint a small Shinto temple complex from Things From the Basement. He wanted a nice, clean look reminiscent of the product photos on their website and I dove right in with my usual gusto for terrain (several times he actually had to hold me back from going completely overboard adding little details and heavy weathering).

Having never assembled TftB MDF kits, I wasn't sure what to expect but I found them to be pleasant kits to work with. There are a lot of cleverly hidden joins, which meant less filling and sanding than I'm used to with other MDF kits. The "pantile roofs" are provided and cut from half sections of cardboard, sliced on the bias so that they bend to accommodate the curvature of the Asian-style rooflines. I particularly enjoyed making the small stone lanterns - these are kinds of tiny ornamental details I really like seeing in real life and on the tabletop - as they went together easily with a interlocking mortise-and-tenon assembly that required little to no glue.

Once all the sub assemblies were together, I went about painting everything. The walls are a pure satin finish white, while all the red lacquer is built up from multiple layers of Reaper Purple into Vallejo Flat Red. Black lacquer wood was done with a pre black basecoat, then successive highlights of Dark Pavement, then drybrushing (following the "grain" of the wood) with light grey and a little golden brown on the edges. Natural wood is done in a similar fashion but using beige and tan. The pantile roofs were airbrushed with Tamiya Flat Black, then given multiple layers of a 50/50 mix of Tamiya OD Green and Flat Black.

The "stone" texture is achieved by applying multiple layers of gesso with a stabbing motion of the brush. Unfortunately, the base being MDF means that you have to apply a lot of gesso, but once that's dry it provides a nice rough texture without destroying any texture on the MDF itself. For example, on the gate and bell tower bases, there were lines showing the edges of the stone tiles. As the gesso shrinks, it does fill these lines, but taking a sharp Xacto blade and rescribing them was simple and didn't destroy the gesso either. Once dry, I applied multiple shades of medium through light grey paint, edge highlighting with almost pure white. To tone down the transitions and give the stone a "dusty", ultra flat finish, I then washed it with Secret Weapon Concrete wash and applied some Vallejo Dirt wash around the base of each vertical piece.









Thursday, September 12, 2019

Meng World War Toons King Tiger

A quick post for today - this is the completed Meng "World War Toons" King Tiger. I reviewed this tank (along with the Tiger I) back in January. For a kit that cost me less than $15, I'm abundantly pleased with it. For modelers, these are either good AFVs to learn on (for beginners) or a nice change of pace (for veterans). For gamers, unlike the previous Tiger I, this model scales relatively well with 28mm and would make an interesting tank for Weird WW2, Pulp, or Retro Sci-Fi games. With the exception of the tracks being an extremely tight fit, it was quick and fun to build and allowed me to try out some new weathering effects I hadn't done before. 



I primed this with Kylon Red Oxide primer, applied a coat of hairspray for chipping, then airbrushed on Tamiya paints. Since I wanted to try a different tone of Dunkelgelb to reflect some late war paints, I did a 25/75 mix of Tamiya Dark Yellow and Wooden Deck Tan, with soft-edged splotches of Tamiya Red Brown and Tamiya Flat Green with a small amount of Vallejo Model Air Pale Green. After chipping, I painted the gun barrels in Vallejo Dark Grey, as well as any tools/tow cables/tracks, and mufflers. I painted the visors in jeweled effects consisting of blended layers of Vallejo Dark Blue and Light Turquoise, then washed with Secret Weapon Cool Grey. To mimic any metallic tones (such as on the gun barrel and tools), I applied Vallejo Oily Steel with Vallejo Shading Medium added - this tones down the harshness of the metal and blends it into the surrounding paint.

The mufflers were a challenge. I attempted to add varying shades of red, orange, and yellow with a sponge to produce a mottled effect but I didn't like it. So, after applying decals and sealing everything, I started in with successive oil washes of Burnt Umber, Black, and Cool Grey. In the final wash, I added some Vallejo Rust dry pigment (I did this to the spare tracks as well). The oil washes blend in the underlying paint and the pigment gives it an ultra-flat finish, as well as adding texture. I then applied an oil filter over the entire tank and added in some different pin washes.

Being vinyl, the tracks we simply washed with multiple coats of Vallejo European Dirt and Light Rust washes, then drybrushed with Vallejo Oil Steel, then given on final wash. I kept the wheels and tracks off to the end and added some Vallejo Thick Mud and other mud effects but, once the wheels and upper hull were attached, you really can't see it. Oh well. To finish things off, I added some oil and gas spills to the engine deck and applied some gloss over the visors and headlight.