Wednesday, December 17, 2014

They forced my hand...

So I've posted before about my illuminated models. The thing is I've actually had a few models ready (or close to ready) for painting for a good long while, but for various reasons (mainly life and the desire to build up my Khador army) I've neglected them. However, now that PoweredPlay Gaming have successfully launched a Kickstarter for powered bases, the results of all my hard work will soon be somewhat obsolete. This has spurred me to refocus my efforts on finishing my lit models. To be honest, it would be nice to get photos of them out before the "market gets flooded", as it where. Therefore, I will be doing something today that I normally don't do: post pictures of unfinished models. I sincerely hope that these will all be painted soon.

To infinity, and beyond!

I originally planned this guy as a joke, but I got caught up trying to make him as ridiculous as possible and ended up successfully adding LEDs to the base and sword. He was actually the first of my current style of battery holding base. In fact he predated my Cortana - it was the lessons I learned on him that let me successfully fit all the components in her base.
A look at the base. The 50mm PP bases are nice and roomy underneath.

The problem with him is... I don't know how to paint horses. So, since I had finished Cortana - who was more technically impressive and therefore kinda made him obsolete - I put him on hold until I could get some more practice in on painting animals. And then I ended up putting all my time into other models and Warmachine.

The next model that I managed to finish was quite an ordeal. This was my first good 25mm base, and it was not easy to make.
There's a lot more custom work in this guy than you might realise.
And it was all totally worth it!

I cannot tell you how much work this model was or how many times I had to go back and add something I had forgotten or fix something after it broke - I've already written about how his spear broke after he was done, but I didn't mention before how the switch turned out to be broken after I had epoxied it in to the base, and I had to carefully carve it out and replace it (NOT and easy task at all!). Anyway, I finally managed to replace his spear tip. I used a lighter piece of plastic this time, as I found that this way it looks more like the spear itself is glowing rather than being lit from the base. I will probably darken it with glazes after painting though, as right now it looks too light for my tastes when not lit.

I had a lot more trouble than I expected replacing the spear tip.
Having said that, I actually think it looks better when lit now.
A look at the base - the smallest "nice" base I've managed yet.

Even though he was now finished, I still couldn't paint him. Why? Because I didn't have any primer. There is no spray primer around here. I have some GW brush-on primer but it doesn't work very well - I don't know if there's something wrong with it or it's settled out and won't mix back properly or something, but it's basically completely unusable. I ordered some spray primer online around four months ago (perhaps even earlier), but because it has to be sent by surface mail it took forever - I only just received it less than a week ago. In the meantime I worked on some other designs.

One thing I noticed with the base under the unicorn was that attaching LEDs to the bottom of the clear resin just created a spotlight-like effect rather than lighting up the whole thing. So my next move was to try to solve that. My first experiment was to put some distance between the LED and the bottom of the base, and put a little paint on the bottom to help diffuse the light. The resulting base looked better, but still not perfect.
I mounted a larger LED in an enclosure...
... to try to suspend the LED away from the resin base insert.
Better, but still looks like a single spotlight underneath the base.
Strakhov's pose (and status) made him the most suitable model for the base.

After that I hit on the idea of pointing the LED away from the base and reflecting the light upwards by creating a sort of diffusion chamber. While not as bright perhaps, it looks much more like a solid area of the base is glowing. I also discovered that the piece of metal I was using to hold the battery in was too weak, and by switching to a stronger component I had I was able to make the base more reliable, so that solved one of the final big problems I was having. Just wish I'd figured that out a couple of models ago... ah well, hindsight and all that.

The desired part of the base was brushed with PVA before priming.
With the PVA removed the glow comes through nicely.
It may not be obvious in this photo, but the light here is much more diffuse and "glowy".

The problem is that you can't light up the whole base since there isn't enough room underneath, which fortunately is perfect for this swamp base.

You can see the LED pointing sideways in this photo.
Adding a thin sheet of plasticard underneath served to diffuse the light upwards.
You can see here how important it is to precisely plan where the model will be pinned to the base.

I wanted to do the same thing for Alexia, which was a real exercise in compressing the components as far as possible and making efficient use of the space, as well as soldering in tight spaces.

I think I screwed up the LED angle somehow because the front is much brighter.
Careful planning was required to leave as much empty space as possible.
BOOM! Let there be lights!

Which brings us up to the present. Now that my primer is here I can finally start painting these fellows, but I'm just so painfully slow...

Currently I have plans for another way of lighting up the entire base that I think could work; I have a several models that I'd like to do if it works. I'm also halfway through a Space Marine with a light-up hammer that I've been wanting to do for ages, but I've had some problem with that one so he's on hold for the foreseeable future.

The good news (for me) is that PowerdPlay powered bases start at 40mm and up, and add a bit of height to the base. That means my completely-normal-sized 30mm and only-slightly-high 25mm bases are still somewhat unique. I've actually seen several illuminated models on 25mm bases (or smaller; I've seen an entire WFB army that lit up), so not that unique, though I think I add less height to mine than most (in theory I only need to add about 1mm depending on the model, though my only good 25mm base right now has about 2mm extra). I take some pride from that.

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