Thursday, January 21, 2021

New year New project

This year, the project is Alaitoc Eldar, aka classic banana heads.

My kid is busy working away at the Vanguard Space Marines that Santa brought for Christmas, and given that we have the 8th edition Index set, and the 9th edition rules, games of 40k are in the offing!  I could finish up some Imperial Guard, or paint a bunch of Tau, or paint old Space Marines, but I thought it would be more fun for us to work on something new together (never mind that I have 1/10th of the free time).  So Eldar. 

I have been collecting these figures with the idea to making an Eldar force for... 15 years?  Probably more. A quick perusal of Index Xenos 1, and a small list is drawn up. 

Eldar starting, metal eldar, Alaitoc

Seen above we have a Dire Avengers squad (10 figures), five Fire Dragons (including an Exarch that I got "new" out of a blister just for this project), a Warlock for a command figure, Guardian heavy weapon (either star cannon or bright lance options), five swooping hawks, and then ten metal guardians to start things off on the right foot. Off camera are five rangers enjoying a bath in simple green, and five metal Wraith guard. 41 figures in all, which is about what I usually paint in a good year...  

metal eldar guardians

I uh... have a lot more.  A LOT more, but this seems like a good place to start, and it is roughly the number of power points that the kid has. 

More to come, as my wife was away for a day and I had time after the kids were abed to assemble the Guardians and the Dire Avengers! 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Ugh, Spam

I was going to have a more substantial post today, but dealing with a ton of new spam comments drained my blogging energy for now.

I, er my kid, did get a fun item in the mail yesterday:

That is the Warhammer 40k 9th edition rulebook from the Indomitus boxed set and the pamphlet of background/units from the box as well. With the second print round of the boxed set, eBay is flooded with these, which makes them actually affordable.  With the index books I got after Christmas, we should be good to go for quick 40k games.  More on that to come. 

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Warhammer 40,000: Indices

 My wife decided that we should buy ourselves something we wanted, but did not get for Christmas (I wonder what prompted that policy...).

I had been looking for the 8th Edition Index Xenos 1, with the idea that I could build up an Eldar army from the various collections of parts, old figures, and whatnot that I have stashed away, and then play games with my kid's Space Marines.  (he routinely now tells me how he is going to beat me using this unit or that unit, so it might be nice if I could actually win a few times too!)  

For those of you not up on 40k rules, when Games Workshop switched from 7th to 8th edition back in 2017, they reset all the codex army books, and released these index books to cover all possible units instead.  Each one covers several armies, and provides a datasheet for each unit/character etc. These were great, but poorly balanced (staff churned all of these out in a short timespan) and almost immediately obsoleted by releasing individual codex army books again... in 9th edition that cycle of codex creep continues.

I looked on ebay, and managed to locate someone selling ALL of the index books as a lot, and further the guy took my (very) low price offer and even better he was local and I did not have to pay shipping... pretty sweet deal, and worth a trip to a random starbucks to pick up. 

All five index books, and then he threw in the Chapter Approved 2019 as well

Quite the haul of obsolete gaming material, and the books are in good shape too.  Now we just need a rulebook newer than the 3rd edition one I got 20+ years ago now...

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Warhammer Underworlds: Beastgrave

 So my wonderful sister often buys hobby items for me for Christmas or my birthday, and I then usually gratefully put the desired item into a box and never get around to painting it.

This year however, my sister gave me something in concert with the kid, which is to say Warhammer Underworlds: Beastgrave (which in our house at least is pronounced "BEASTGRAVE!!!" in a gravely announcer voice).  For the uninitiated, Beastgrave is "season three" of Games Workshop's Warhammer Underworld game, where players build warbands and card decks, and then fight it out on a board for glory points.  6-8 Warbands are released every season, and older cards are eventually cycled out of "standard".  So far so standard.  

However, with Beastgrave being a GW game, it comes with some amazing pushfit miniatures, and shockingly they are not that expensive, with a whole warband and deck of cards coming in about the same as a single plastic character. 

Beastgrave, full of heavyweight cardstock

These are pushfit

Anyway, the kid convinced me that we needed to paint the figures and play a game before he went back to school, and we shockingly managed to make that happen, building, priming, and painting nine figures in less than 10 days! 

I was assigned the beast-men known as Gashrak's Ravangers
Gashrak's Ravangers
Gashrak's Ravangers painted by me (my photography was particularly poor)

Draknar the Gor

Murghoth Half-horn

Koresh "the sneak"

The kid painted the beast-elves. (Skaeth's Wild Hunt)
Skaeth's Wild Hunt (photography even worse, so attempted to correct a bit in Google)

Conveniently, we got the kid a set of Games Workshop paints for Christmas, which meant we had about 1/4 of the required paints to hand.  We cued up the painting videos from Games Workshop, and aside from having to mix 3/4 of the paints or use substitutes, it all went rather smoothly.  Painting following a guide was surprisingly enjoyable, and I have been eyeing a couple of the other warbands in consequence.  If the game is as fun as promised, more warbands may be making their way to our house soon. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Happy Christmas/New Year

So, you may have noticed that 2020 was a wee bit different than previous years, and I for one, am glad to see the back of it.

In any case, I hope you had an enjoyable Holiday season.  I was working for most of it, but I did get the specific holidays off, which this year at least added up to a couple of long weekends. 

I made out pretty well in terms of gifts this year too:

Not pictured are a few more Reaper figures (including the paint your own Krampus kit), and a couple of other things that will get their own posts later.

My oldest got a large box of Space Marines from Santa, so he was pretty excited about that, and got most of them assembled already. 

As for 2021, all signs look as if at least the first half of the year will be the same as 2020, which is to say, no face to face time, busy at work, and very little gaming.  

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Rogue Trader Orks for Orktober

Rogue Trader Orks for Orktober?  Well... sort of.

Apologist at the excellent Death of a Rubricist blog has done some great work converting current model plastic Orks back to the look and feel of the old Kev Adams Orks from the early days of Rogue Trader. 

Inspired, I set to work building and sculpting a couple of orks... and then the project languished for quite some time, with the poor boys waiting on various details to be completed.  The bandy legs really were off putting, and as my kid put it the "flipper hand" that most Orks have to hold boltas with is just really terrible. I managed to get them to the point where I was willing to proceed, and then in a burst of inspiration got them painted and based.  

So in addition to sort of a generic RT Ork looks, these two are rough (very rough!) copies of particular poses from the RT ork range, as can be seen below. 

I would like to make enough of these to muster a little squad, but I am not sure I can manage the energy to make it happen.  We will see. 

Next time, back to 15mm?

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

3d Printed surface tests II

 My results of 3d printer surface testing were a bit disappointing, because the final finish achieved was still rougher than I wanted.  In the comments Heisler suggested that I try fine grit sandpaper and steel wool, so I fired up the printer and produced another sample block.

Since I had five sample positions, I thought that I would have one control, two for black gesso, and two for PVA, so that is what I did. Sanding was done in two steps with sand paper that I had to hand (100 and 220 grit).

1. Bare surface, right out of the printer
2. painted with black gesso and then sanded
3. sanded and then painted with black gesso
4. painted with PVA and then sanded
5. Sanded and then painted with PVA

The whole sample block was then sprayed with off white spray paint, and then given a quick (and sloppy) nuln oil wash. 

Pleasingly, all four of the surfaces are much smoother than my previous attempts, although the hoped for "answer" still eludes me.

Monday, October 5, 2020

3d Printed surface tests

So one of the issues with have a 3d printer is layer lines.  The printer makes models by building layers of plastic, the size of which depends on printer type and printing settings.  For a printer like the Ender 3, layer lines can get under a mm in height, which is small enough that you can not see them from any sort of distance, but you can see them when blown up on the screen, and can feel them a bit with your finger (human fingertips can apparently feel as small as 13nm differences in height). 

So reducing layer lines is something that is worth looking in to a bit, and to that end I produce a small sample, which I treated in various ways to see how it was altered.  I made a test piece with five surfaces, and then sprayed that with a layer of cream spray paint to see how it would look.  I went another step and washed with a coat of Games Workshop's Nuln Oil to see how the finish was for a wash, since I use washes a lot with my figures. 

Initial 3d surface print test with filing and filling
Surfaces are:

1. Raw out of the printer
2. Filed
3. Filed and covered with black gesso
4. Filed and covered with Future
5. Filed and covered with PVA

Sprayed  3d print surface test cream white

Painted with Nuln Oil wash
Honestly, I think the biggest take away is that the surface is easily scratched by filing, and that I need to be more careful there.  This can be seen most clearly on 5, where the filing was very good next to the number, but less good under it.  Number three is similar, but also shows more damage due to scratching since it was harder to reach the middle of the sample.  Since I have two copies of the M5a1 tank, I think I will cover one with gesso, and one with PVA, and then see how the finishes turn out in the end.

 Also evident are the changing conditions locally, since you can see that two of the three pictures are slightly orange from smoky air.  It was actually clean enough to breath for that middle stage!  When of course I was wearing a mask anyway...

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Lighting strike, slow burn

Our benevolent overlord (Amazon) got me to bite on a "Lightning deal" recently on a 3d printer.  As regular readers of this blog will know, I have been designing 3d models for a while, and have even sold some of them through my storefront on Shapeways.  My kid had been bugging us for a long time about getting a 3d printer (not at all helped by me talking them up for years) and he eventually got my wife to agree that it would be a good learning tool.

So I got an Creality Ender 3, and less than a week later it showed up at the house.  I opened it immediately, and after about three hours I had what looked to be a working device.  I think I could put together a second one much more quickly, and trying to add a metal extruder without any instructions took up a lot of that time.

Calibration was sort of a pain, and I am not sure I am 100% satisfied, but I am getting close enough to start printing out usable test items. 
I had more than one copy of this "print"
Since I am working on the American paratroopers at the moment, I naturally thought about printing something for that "army", and after downloading a few suitable files from Thingiverse, I selected a M5A1 light tank as a starting place, and after manipulating it a bit, I printed it out.  This print took around 6.5 hours, although I did not have to be involved, so the time is sort of immaterial.
M5a1 tank printing out in four pieces 
 The tank was printed without a raft, and the front portion had a bit of an adhesion issue, so when I assembled the tank it had a bit of a gap.
Annoying gap from bed adhesion error
This is probably something that I would be able to fix, but it was not very satisfying to see this.

After some fiddling about with slicer settings, I tried again, and this time got a much better result.
Second print, with raft and slower
Result of second print of the M5a1, with some plastic bits and a bit of putty.
The second print was substantially better.  Unfortunately satin black plastic does not photograph well, but it is very smooth and aside from the suspension very well detailed.  (even the .30 caliber machine gun that I replaced with the M2 was very detailed, just not as good as the plastic one I had) This cost me about $0.80 in materials to print by the way, so certainly cost effective against a traditional metal/resin or even plastic miniature!

I am going to run a few surface finish tests before this particular tank gets painted, so more to come on that.

I have some more testing to do, but I think I am in a place where I can produce usable objects now, and anything bigger than say 5mm cubed will come out pretty nicely.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

US Army Color Tests

As a bit of an escape from painting buildings in Normandy, I did some color tests for the US forces.

I was mainly thinking of triads for painting armor after looking at the rather excellent painting guides produced for the new Victrix 12mm tanks (the guides take large scale modeling effects and apply them to the tiny tanks for some exquisite effects).  The guide suggests using the color modulation method, where you create much more extreme contrast by highlighting each segment on its own.  In the guide AK-Ammo brand paints are used, since they are pre-mixed in various shades of OD.

Anyway, since Ammo paints are rather scarce in these parts, I thought I would look at what paints I had on hand, and then mix them with the Olive Drab paint that I have (Vallejo 887 Brown Violet). 

The paint tests above are mixed at roughly 1:1 with the OD paint, and then brushed with a coat or two onto a 3x5 card.   I picked a mix of GW, Reaper, and Vallejo paints to make a shade and highlight of the center row of base OD. Since I am color blind deficient in this range of colors, I sent the picture above to my sister, who as an interior designer has a much better sense of color than I do.  She selected a couple of colors to test further, which I then used on the card below.

Here I spray primed the card before painting it, to get a better representation of the color on the final models, and then mixed various ratios of paint.  The center blob is OD mixed with black, which seemed like the best (and easiest) way to get a darker shade.  Anyway, an interesting little project, which amongst other  things reminded me how hard it is to mix colors!

While I had the paints sorted out, I painted a paratrooper just to see how it would go. 

The last time I painted any paratroopers was in 2014, and I must say that the 15mm figure was much harder!  I did have all my color notes from then, and I think it was helpful, particularly for the specific bits of gear not covered in the Battlefront painting guide.  Now I just need to churn out another 40 of these guys... (and finish off those Germans)