Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 End Of Year Report

Wow, that year flew past. I can't say that I got very much done. I blame my recent addictions to Overwatch and Manga.

Old Resolutions
Sadly I have more excuses than successes this year.

1. Sleep early
It took a while, but for the last couple of months I've been in bed at a decent time just about every night. I still need to be strict with myself or I'll start to slip, but overall I think I can give myself this one.

2. Waste less time in the morning
I'm... getting better at moving quickly in the morning if I'm motivated, but I'm finding it really hard to get motivated. So no.

3. Use time more efficiently

4. Excercise
I was actually starting to do better, but then I injured my knee and couldn't really do anything for a while.

5. Follow single projects through to the end
Ugh, I actually found this to be really de-motivating. At least when it comes to hobbies, I seem to work better jumping back and forth between projects. Which is probably less efficient, plus it's kind of annoying to think about how long individual projects have been "in the works" without being completed, but somehow I just seem to be able to devote more time to stuff overall if I'm not trying too hard on just one thing.

6. Give more time to important projects even if they are difficult
See 5. Well... I guess I finished Nemo, that's something.

New Resolutions
Well, new-ish.

1. Develop a good routine
I'm kinda lumping together sleeping early, waking up early etc. here for simplicity.

2. Keep my cool
I've always had a bit of a temper, and lately I've been losing it more often (again, blame Overwatch... and other things...). So this year I want to work on staying calm in the face of adversity/stupidity.

3. Read more useful stuff
I've been reading a lot this year, but it was pretty much all forums and manga. I need to start reading useful books and articles.

I was thinking about adding a resolution about being more responsible with money (don't ask me how many pens I bought this year...), but I decided against it because spending a bit of money now and again on stuff I enjoy can help keep me happy and motivated, so for now I'll not stress myself too much about this. To be honest, I've got plenty of other stuff to get stressed about.

I might sound a bit negative right now, but that's partly just the end-of-year blues (that I think I'm starting to get every year). It's true that I didn't get too much done this year, but overall I feel like I'm in a slightly better place than I was this time last year, so it's not really all that bad. Anyway, I'm going to work to make 2018 a better year. I read a great quote by Martin Luthor King Jr. recently, which I think is a good note to end on:

"If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward."

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Missing Piece: Saving Custom Cards!

I just randomly realized today how to finally solve the biggest issue my Card Creator has had since day one: saving the created cards! Turns out it was actually pretty easy. So now the Warmachine (v2) and Batman card creators have new "open in new page" buttons under the card (and in the Warmachine card creator's menu). Clicking on this will open the final card in a new page.

Since this page was created with the final HTML code, it can be saved using the browser's save function. In theory at least; in practice it depends on the browser itself. I have been able to save cards this way using Firefox. Chrome however does not allow me to save the page. Safari does not work with my card creator at all.

I'm very happy about this because saving cards was a tremendous hassle before; being able to save the cards (in a form that can be edited easily later) is a huge improvement that finally brings the cards creators into what I believe is a usable state!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

A New Helicopter Landing Pad

I just finished milling a new spoilboard for my CNC mill. This one has some extra features:
The central cutouts allow me to easily attach my 4th axis in proper alignment.

The slots allow me to clamp down smaller pieces of material without removing the board.
It's just simple piece of wood, but it still took a bit of effort measuring, planning, and scripting, since it needed to be very precise.

The next thing I want to work on is attaching an air jet (or whatever you call it). So far my every attempt to cut plastics (which I need for a number of projects) has ended up with a glob of plastic melted and bonded to the bit before I could get very far, even when I use single-flute bits. I'm hoping that having a jet of air blowing onto the bit will help disperse chips and keep the bit cool, allowing me to work with plastics.

The thing is, I might need to build myself a new controller box first, just to house all the components (things are a bit of a mess right now). I've been putting it off for a while, partly because I wanted to build a Beaglebone Black into the box but I couldn't get the BBBlack working properly. Seriously, if there's a trick to getting support with that thing, I don't know what it is. Every tutorial I tried to follow failed, and no-one answered me on the official forums.

Anyway, I've decided to put the BBBlack on hold, and build a controller box in such a way that I can run it directly off my laptop for now, but that I will be able to install another controller (like a Beaglebone or Raspberry Pi or whatever) later. It's a bit fiddly, but I think it should be doable.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Good Place To Start A New Set

I painted this guy up real quick; I really just wanted to test the base to see if I liked it enough to use it for the entire range. What I realised as I was finishing him was that the Mousers are actually some of the Turtles' first enemies (after the Foot anyway), appearing in the second issue of the original comic series as part of the story line where the Turtles meet April for the first time.

OK, sure, by that logic it would have been more appropriate to paint up a Foot ninja first, but this looked easier. Look, you try coming up with interesting titles and introductions for every model you paint OK?

Anyway, the base was made using grey ProCreate and GreenStuffWorld's textured rolling pins. The bricks have a very layered texture which I assume is a result of CNC milling the pins. I thought the texture was excessive so I sanded most of it off the base, but there's enough left at the edges of the bricks to make them interesting.

The model is just Leadbelcher, washed with Nuln Oil, drybrushed with Leadbelcher, then edge-highlighted with Chainmail. He looks a little too rough; I'm thinking I should have used a more targeted wash rather than slathering undiluted Nuln Oil all over the model. The eye is Iyandan Darksun, with Sunburst Yellow on the dot (and blended towards the dot), then a spot of pure Skull White, followed by a Sunburst Yellow drybrush.

The base was painted Skrag Brown, drybrushed Blazing Orange, then washed with undiluted Devlan Mud (again, I might have applied it too heavily). I tried to use a bit of Ogryn Flesh to pick out individual bricks for variety, but it didn't make any difference. I applied a bit of heavily watered Camo Green between some of the bricks, then darkened it a bit with some Antonian Camoshade; the idea was to make it look more like a sewer and less like a sidewalk.

I named this model Bitey, after a pet cat. His full name was Bitey Whitey, because of his pure white fur and because he loved to bite and scratch me for fun.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

20,000 years later

Well, OK, more like two years, but still: I let this guy sit unpainted for FAR too long after finishing his assembly. I think he was actually pretty much done in early 2016. Unfortunately for him Harkevich had precedence (both for being a Khador model and for having the more interested lighting system that I was eager to finish and show off). After that I wasn't getting any games in anymore so my old plan of putting together a small Cygnar force no longer seemed to matter very much.

He wasn't too bad to paint: not too many different surfaces, and not too much extraneous detail. I initially painted the cloth in a neutral grey, but it looked terrible so I repainted it in warmer shades. It's amazing how much difference that made, but it looks much better now. The shading on the cloth was somewhat experimental, but I think it came out quite well overall (though the midtones might not be quite dark enough compared to the highlights).

I pretty much just used my standard colour palette for everything. The coils (which were made from acrylic rod that I had filed and sanded into shape) were simply glazed with undiluted Badger Minitaire Ghost Tints: Plasma Fluid. I took a shortcut with the armour and simply painted it Enchanted Blue then applied Asurmen Blue wash directly into the crevasses. I did drybrush a bit of Enchanted Blue over some of the shaded areas to soften the transitions before highlighting with Ice Blue.

The coils aren't as bright in real life as they look in the photos; I don't know why but that always seems to happen. This really dark photo is actually a bit closer to how they look in normal room lighting:

I made a mistake when gluing the rear coil in place; I don't think I positioned it properly (it was supposed to be glued directly onto the LED for maximum light transmission), which I think is why it's so much darker despite having a larger, brighter LED. I couldn't fix it by that point without ripping the whole model apart.

I've already posted about how I assembled the base in my tutorial on powered and light-up bases, but here's a bunch of WIP photos of the assembly of the body:
I cut and drilled the old staff out of the hand.
I didn't like the cables so I carved them off and sculpted back the detail as best I could.
I didn't really have a line to drill straight up the leg into the body, so I drilled two holes instead.
A large hole for the large coil.
A second hole to help me position the wires and LED.
The head of the staff, with a hole for the shaft.
I drilled out all the original holes in the "shielding".
The topmost part of the staff... drilling out such tiny pieces isn't easy.
After my first attempt failed I had to order another off the PP bits store and try again.
The large(ish) LED for the main coil.
Even my smallest LEDs weren't small enough to fit the staff properly.
So I filed the corners off a small LED to help it fit.
Soldering these tiny LEDs is really hard, several did not survive.
Ultimately I had to twist together and glue some wire BEFORE soldering to the LED.
Once soldered I threaded the wire through the copper tube that would serve as the shaft.
Superglue and primer was used as extra insulation, to be on the safe side.
Similarly the holes in the body were insulated as best I could with primer.
The wires were passed up the body, glued into the leg, then sculpted over.
The large LED in it's final position.
You can see the two pairs of wires passing through the base.
The twisted wire of course goes directly into the staff.
Soldered up and magnets glued in place (for transport). After this it was filled with milliput.
You can see here how I ended up cutting the body in half and repositioning it.
This was partly to help with the wiring and partly to fix the "pointing while doing the limbo" pose.
The left arm was reposed slightly and the gap sculpted over as best I could.
It wouldn't have made sense to add the smaller coils since they couldn't be made to glow.
You can see the LED in place here.
The final test fit before priming.

The head worked out quite well; I was never a fan of the original "steampunk Einstein" look, and since this is Nemo's first incarnation I decided it was appropriate to make him looker younger than usual. The head was donated from my second Croe model, who received his own conversion. It's surprisingly "craggy", so he still looks a bit aged. I wasn't a big fan of the expression, but a sculpted goatee helped cover that up.

While the rear coil not lighting up properly is a shame, overall I think the model looks good (and as usual I'm just glad he's finally done). The coils actually look pretty good even when not lit up, and I think the paint scheme is visually pleasing (even if it's quite uninspired, being pure vanilla Cygnar). Plus I think my repose looks a bit better than the original.

I named him Joules Verne, which I happen to think is a hilarious name that is highly appropriate for him.