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)