Sunday, May 29, 2011

Abject Failure

I finally decided to try painting one of my Grey Knight models. Not, however, as a Grey Knight. The chaplain took a lot of effort, and I wanted to paint something quick and easy instead of another big project, so I decided to try painting a Ghost Knight. Mordrak and his Ghost Knights are probably my favorite fluff and special rule from the new codex (which, to be honest, is not saying much, but I'll leave that topic for later), so I figured why not start there.

Based on an idea I had for painting Legion of the Damned, I wanted to use glow-in-the-dark paints. I picked these up a while back with the intention of using them on the aforementioned Legion, but never got around to it. So this was an experiment in using those paints, and on achieving an "otherworldly" effect.

The basic idea was instead of the usual method of painted recesses darker and protruding areas lighter to achieve a natural lit effect, to paint recesses in white and higher surfaces darker, to make the model look as if it was lit internally and not reacting to actual lighting. Kind of like the ghosts in Ghost Busters, in a way. I planned to do this by painting a white basecoat of glowing paint then drybrushing it in blue.

The results were terrible. This was partly because of the paint not doing what I expected: it turns out that the paint dries clear, not white. So the metallic primer (I chose metallic with the assumption that it would help reflect the light outwards - that and I don't have any white primer right now) was not actually covered well, and I didn't get the basic colours I wanted. also, the glow effect was very weak and patchy (there are glowing particles in the paint, so a single coat does not give a smooth glowing effect, rather there are spots where it glows). So I had to apply a large number of coats of paint. But I was impatient and the paint took longer than normal model paints to dry, so I applied it too thickly (since it was clear a thin coat was barely visible to the eye so there was a strong temptation to load the brush and place a lot in each stroke, which I succumbed to). And the paint flowed very freely, so it ended up all pooling in recesses. This all made me even less patient and I gave up on having a nice model, so I just threw the paint on to see how thick it needed to be to glow nicely.

The result was that the model lost all detail and still looked metallic, albeit metal covered with something translucent. Then I rushed the drybrush and, because of the complete lack of detail, the drybrush looked terrible and covered too much. So I tried a white "wash"; white paint with a lot of water to fill the recesses (I mixed in some of the glowing paint figuring it couldn't hurt). That just made things worse. The final result? Complete abject failure.

As you can see it looks awful in the light. It doesn't look bad in the dark once it's had a good charge, but it's still not smooth and it takes a LOT of paint to get a reasonably bright glow. Here's a closer look so you can see the spotty glowing effect:

It's possible that those spots are partly due to the watered-down wash I painted over the drybrush, but I don't really think so - every time I checked it it looked spotty. Still, a lot of the problems are down to me not being familiar with the paint and rushing it's application. Actually, it's possible that my choice of model is not suitable either: Grey Knights have a lot of fine detail and different materials, the combination of flowing paper and detailed engraving means it's hard to tell what's happening without the colours. Perhaps a simpler model would be more suitable.

I plan to strip the paint from this model and try again. This time I will mix the glowing paint with white and apply it in very very thin layers, and stop when the white looks good instead of when it glows well. I'm thinking of either painting straight on the model (best done with plastic) as the glowing paint didn't stick to the primer very well. Actually, I suspect this metallic primer might not be very good for painting on as I noticed a little trouble with the Chaplain as well, although the problem seems to be much worse with this glowing paint than with my Citadel paints. Perhaps a wash and/or drybrush applied first might help.

Another thing to try would be to paint the model normally and then paint a few thin layers of glowing paint on top. Thus the model would look normal in the light and glow a little in the dark. Not the quick easy paint job I had in mind, and won't look as good under UV lights, but if I can get a reasonably strong glow it will still be kind of fun.

I also have some glow-in-the-dark clay, the problem is that it needs to be baked hard. I plan to use it for bases and perhaps eyes and blades, other bits of detail etc. However I don't have an oven right now so I can't bake it. I tried mixing it with greenstuff and milliput, but it the mixtures don't harden properly and don't glow brightly, so that's out. When I get an oven I'll come back to it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Chaplain... of DOOM!

This is actually quite a milestone for me: this is the first model I've painted that I actually LIKE. I don't mean the results of my paint job, I mean the base model itself. Sounds stupid huh? The thing is, I like the 40K world and the space marine fluff, but I just don't like the standard space-marine models. They are supposed to be superhuman futuristic knights-templar, but they look like Star-Wars storm troopers with over-sized shoulders and poorly-designed backpacks. I can live with the shoulders (they are over-sized to allow room for painting detailed insignia and the like anyway), and the backpacks and helmets work for me on the heavy weapons crews, but overall the standard marine model doesn't really appeal to me.

So why did I paint so many? Why have I spent so long painting models I don't really like? Well, it seems I'm conservative by nature - I wanted to improve my skills before I painted the models I DO like - the Grey Knights, the Emperor's Champion... the Chaplain in Terminator Armor.

So I finally decided that it was high time to really start. My painting is not where I want it but I think it's adequate and I just don't have the time to invest in getting much better. Most inportantly I can't be bothered to paint any more models that I don't really care about, so from now on I'm going to concentrate on the ones I do. If I screw up, I'll just strip the paint and start again.

So here we are, my Chaplain in Terminator Armor:

He has a combi-melta/stormbolter (the melta barrel is magnetized but it presses too tightly against the barrels, some varnish and paint was scraped off the first time I took it off, so I'm leaving it on for now). The chaplain in terminator armor is the only model who I think justifies a combi-weapon since it only costs 5 points instead of the usual over-priced 15 (yes, you lose out on one bolter shot at 12-24" range - a small price to pay), and also I wanted his gun to look scary. I didn't want to remove the existing one, which has a fantastic ammo belt (and also a regular bolter would have looked tiny in his hands), and I hate the "stick a melta barrel over one of the holes in the storm bolter barrel", which I think is hideous. Instead I added a melta-pack from the space marine devastator kit to the back, replaced the existing barrels with a longer pair to balance the melta barrel length (and also to move them up - the old ones were much lower leaving very little room for the melta barrel). I also had to build up the front with greenstuff, which came out a little messy.

I left out the iron halo and weird thingies he came with, and I also replaced the hideously-unbalanced mace - the only bits of the original model I don't like. I actually wanted the mace used by the inquisitor model in terminator armor (the one with the gun over his shoulder) displayed in the old Deamonhunter's codex, but I have no idea where that is from so I settled for this Chaos Knight one instead.

Also note the right shoulder. Last time I forgot to point out the symbol of my chapter, the Sentinels Eternal, painted in freehand on the Scout's shoulder: an empty hourglass on a shield. OK, it's not obvious that the hourglass is empty, but it's the best I could do. Anyway, this chaplain is the second model to carry the symbol and this time it's not just painted on. I printed out a shield and hourglass, stuck them to a sheet of plasticard, cut them out as best as my clumsy mitts could manage, stuck them together and used them to make a mold. Then I cast a greenstuff shield in the mold and took it out while it was a little soft (luckily I had just got some instant mold, which does not stick to greenstuff so you can get it out while soft without damaging it), and curled it onto the shoulder.

The main body was painted metallic (Army Painter metal primer - I don't have time anymore and why risk losing details with more coats of paint?), then a layer of heavily watered down black with clear washing up liquid was painted over to get a very black metallic look. I wasn't really happy with how this turned out, I think just mixing black and boltgun would work better (in fact that's what I used for cleaning up after I made some mistakes later and it blended in quite well). The brass turned out a little dark but I figured that fit. I deliberately made the parchment very dark to differentiate it from the skull, which I wanted to stand out and be a focal point for the model. To that end I brushed it with plenty of skull white to get a really pale bone, which contrasts well with the black armor. I painted the eyes as black lenses so they would give the impression of an actual hollow skull, rather than the glowing red I believe the model on the GW site uses.

Unfortunately the model itself showed some problems, I suspect the GW mold is old at this point and has lost some detail. I had to do some cleanup work, especially on the left shoulder, including adding a stud (I forget where I read about this, but someone once suggested using the things in water filter cartridges, which worked quite well - there's a range of sizes so you can find one that fits it well with the ones around it) and trying to file some detail back in to the skull and crossbones. Shame, but I don't think it's too noticeable.

I'm happy with the model overall: black armor, white skull helm, big gun and a heavy blunt weapon - not someone you'd want to run in to in an alleyway late at night. The black is less metallic than I had hoped, the mace lacks depth, and the edge highlighting is a little cruder than I would like. On the other hand I'm proud of the gun and the gems look pretty good (might have to give them another layer of 'ardcoat though), the paper doesn't look too bad and the skull really pops out. So yeah, he'll do.

And yes, I know everyone is into Grey Knights right now. No, I don't like their new codex very much, but I still have the old metal models I bought a year and a half ago sitting around, and I still think they look great, so I'll probably be starting on some of them before too long. Might try to finish my scouts or crimson fists first though, we'll see.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Scout model

I haven't written for a long time; I've been too busy and didn't have anything to write about. However, I recently finished a scout sniper; the first model in my own chapter: the Sentinels Eternal. The colour scheme I'm planning is blue and black, with scouts having a darker palette than the normal battle brothers. This scout is a test model but is very close to how the final models will hopefully look.

Crappy photos due to several camera trouble. Nothing special going on here, paint-wise. The metal detail is Tin Bitz drybrushed with Dwarf Bronze, which created a dark copper look that I'm very happy with. The cloak is just a green base with two green sets of spots and another in Bleached Bone, drybrushed with camo green then washed several times with Devlan Mud and Badab Black. I wanted an olive-green color, but the washes overpowered the spots. I'm still looking for a better way to do it that doesn't require layering or blending (I don't have the time or energy). The skin ended up looked too pale due to a bleached bone drybrush, which looks especially bad due to very dark shading (it's actually not as bad as it looks in these photos, which came out too bright - the blue is actually also a lot darker than the photos make it out). I also threw some grass on the base just because the built-in rock under his foot looks silly without it. I may or may not use grass for the final models.