Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Stripping Models the Chaney way...

Over the years, my process for stripping metal and plastic miniatures has gone from being just a process to almost a ritual with several "unbreakable" rules that I abide by. Sure, the solvents I have used over the ages has changed, but always for the better in my quest for 100% paint removal. However, much like perfection, 100% paint removal is more of a direction and less of a destination.

My current process for stripping metal (and metal only) is:
  1. Fill a medium sized jar with Pine Sol (or a generic equivalent). Make sure the mouth and lid of the jar aren't so big you can't get a good grip on it for removing the lid a few days later.
  2. Drop the offending models into the jar and let them sit for 48-72 hours. If the model in question has been sealed in anyway, it may require that you remove and scrub it after 48 hours and then place it back in the jar for additional time.
  3. After 48-72 hours, remove the minis from the jar with a large pair of tweezers or tongs. (You do not really want to be putting your hands into Pine Sol as it will take the top layer of skin off after prolonged exposure. Plus, you will end up smelling like Pine Sol for days.) I use the lid of the jar as a sort of "holding area" for the models I plan to clean that evening.
  4. With a stiff bristle toothbrush (you can use a cheapo one) vigorously scrub the miniature, front to back and top to bottom. Rinse ever so often as the "foam" and removed paint will accumulate. Repeat this process several times, occasionally dipping the toothbrush into the Pine Sol. If you have a model that isn't as clean as you want, drop it back in, wait a few more days and repeat the process.
  5. Thoroughly rinse your models. You do not want ANY Pine Sol residue left on the model. I have gone to the extra step of having a second jar filled with clean water and a drop of dish soap for the "cleaned" models to soak in for an additional 24 hours. When you see the oily film at the top of the water a day later, you will understand why.
  6. Remove the model from the soaking jar and wrap in a clean chamois. DO NOT USE PAPER TOWELS. Lint and small pieces of paper will  catch on the mini details and you will have quite a time getting them all off (and you never do and you'll see them when you primer). The mini should be dry in about 5-6 hours, but inspect the model to see if there is any pockets of water in the details. If you find some, just wrap it back up and wait a little more.
  7. After about 5 days of scrubbing, soaking, and drying. Your miniature should be almost good as new. Take this chance to go back over your models and take care of any flash or mold lines you may have missed the first time (or third of fourth time). You once again, have a blank slate so take advantage of it.
And there you have it. With this process, I have been able to rescue some of the most heinously primered or painted models out there. I have used it to stripped gobbed on GW Smelly Primer off of "classic" Talisman models from the late 80's (I'll be showing the Talisman Rogue soon enough) and the mini looks brand spanking new now.

That is all for tonight. Happy Painting!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Rescued a bunch of old minis from the "Jar of Despair"

It is no secret that many miniature painters have a "jar of shame"....a jar filled with some sort of solvent to remove the paint from various metal minis when they screw up the paint job. I have 6 of these so called jars in my garage in solvents ranging from nail polish remover to Simple Green. Tonight, I opened one of those jars that I've had for about 15 years and was filled with a mixture of nail polish remover and Testor's ELO (Easy Lift Off) Solution. 

Nowadays, I use Pine Sol (or the generic equivalent) as nail polish remover has some seriously nasty fumes, evaporates incredibly fast, and dissolves the stiff bristle toothbrushes I use to clean the crud off the minis.

Anyway, back to the "Jar of Despair"...it was filled with a plethora of surprises and delights that were caked in old paint from where the nail polish remover evaporated and deposited the "remains" back onto the models. With a jar of Pine Sol, a stiff bristle toothbrush, and stainless steel kitchen sink (important) I set to the task of getting the old paint off. I knew going in, none of the models were going to come clean right out of the jar so my main objective was to scrub off the bulk of the built up paint and then put them into the Pine Sol to let the process continue for three days. I managed to find the first 40k mini I ever bought which was an Eldar Harlequin (don't laugh, that was all I could find in Valdosta GA in 1989...I won't even go into how much a pain in the ass it was to get Judge Dredd comics). I also found all of my Chaos Marine Havocs, assorted GWAR minis, a Rat Ogre that I have no idea where it came from, a ton of old Epic models, my first Confrontation purchases, and a boatload of Reaper minis. I managed to save all but about 10 of them...some of the older Partha models had started to dissolve.

Now, I'm going to go wash my hands for an eighth time as they still reek of Pine Sol.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Day Z or finally inspired to work on my zombie miniature game again....

Over the past two weeks or so, I have been playing the Day Z Mod for Arma II and I have to say....HOLY CRAP IT IS AMAZING. If you haven't played yet, let me give you a heads up...this is nothing like a Modern Warfare Zombie mission...nor is it like Left 4 Dead. Actually, it isn't really a game as it is more like a simulator for what it would be like if "shit really went down".This game is almost like if Romero's "Diary of the Dead" banged "The Road" and produced some sort of mutant offspring. 

The zombies themselves are formidable opponents as they are fast and aggressive...and once you pull one of them, you may end up having to put down several of them. I have had many instances of just running my ass off with 14 of them right behind me and all I could do was look for a building with a ladder of some sort so I could get away and log off. Sometimes my strategy works, other times I am beaten down....legs broken, blood gushing from countless wounds, and all I can do is just wait for the inevitable "You're Dead" screen. And while you are beaten senseless and torn limb from limb, all you hear is the shrieks of the zombies and the wind blowing through the bushes.

Making the game an even more depressing experiment in human behavior is the other survivors. If you hate griefers and all around douche bags, avoid this game like the plague. The other survivors are worse than the zombies themselves. There are roving groups of players who do nothing but hunt down other players for their supplies and have even managed to secure helicopters to do so. I was actually on a server where they had two helicopters circling over both Cherno and Elektro. On most games, this would be enough to chase me off but it just adds to the tension in this game. This is why I don't travel in the open and I stick to the treeline like a hobo sticks to the dumpster at Popeye's.

This is what a survival horror game needs to be. Not some sort of interactive movie with a half ass twist ending. I want to feel the same "fuck my life" feeling I got when I saw the ending to Dawn of the Dead...and Day Z delivers it...you just have to ignore the horrible controls and the movement.

Okay, so "where am I going with this"? Long ago, I started working on a miniature rule set for playing out tactical scenarios ala Rainbow Six or Counter Strike. Originally, I was going to do it 54mm with various plastic kits from Dragon, Tamiya, and similar companies. However, I ran into a big problem....no real adversary models not to mention the terrain models would be enormous. So, I've opted to scale things down to 28mm so that I can use the multitude of models produced by Foundry, Reaper, Mantic, etc.

But with the proliferation of non fantasy zombies came another problem. There are now a metric ton of zombie apocalypse games out there. When I started working on my game in 2004, the zombie craze really hadn't kicked in yet...apparently all the kids loved pirates or something else just as stupid. I had actually pitched it to White Wolf back in 2005, but we'd just hit some serious financial hard times and the cost to produce and market a brand new type of product was just too high...even with me putting in all my time after hours for free.

What do I do now? I still want to do a "tactical roleplaying zombie apocalypse game"...although now things are a bit more complicated than they were even a year ago. My skill set lies within the production end of things...painting and photographing the minis, designing and laying out the book, and all the stuff that is done after the writing is done. And while my writing skills aren't total ass (I was an English major at one time), writing "fluff" and writing systems are two entirely different beasts....and the one system I do know well, I can't really use anymore.

So that is where I'm stuck. I can make the most awesome looking zombie game ever but it will read like utter donkey crap and probably play just as bad. 

So...it's been 9 days since I posted last...

Man, I have really got spend less time playing DayZ and more time painting.

This week (or week and a half) I once again have the big Scibor marine on the workbench. I spent the better part of Saturday afternoon repainting the black armor trying to get the highlighting just right. Rather than just half ass it and slap a highlight of Codex Grey on the raised areas, I blended in six layers of color....Ceramcoat Payne's Gray and Cape Cod Blue. The result is a nice subtle highlight that emphasizes the rounded contours of the shoulder armor as well as a nice contrast to the giant areas of black on the flat areass. I've also gone in and prepped the trim for gold by adding a coat of Apple Barrel Black mixed with Ceramcoat Spice Brown...the former for the "roughness" of the finish and the latter for its muted color. This will give the gold metallic a nice background as well as a good surface to adhere to. I'll once again use Apple Barrel Antique Gold as I find most hobby paint golds to be way to yellow or orange. Warhammer 40K is supposed to have giants wearing ancient suits of armor with baroque sculptures worked into it...and a bright warm gold just doesn't say "gothic" or "baroque" to me.
The next additions to the Workbench are a GW Imperial Death Cult Assassin and a Foundry Darkest Africa Explorer. The assassin is part of a commission I've been working on for a long, long time customer and will probably end up getting the "text book" GW color scheme...modified of course. When I think assassin...I first think the word "ass" is in there twice and then I think of other words like "stealthy", "subtle", and "shadow". So, you can be sure there will also be a lot black on this model along with a nice red spot color to break it up a little.
The explorer model will get a more historically accurate paint scheme, probably using some muted greens and tans. I've actually had this model for over 10 years now, and I figured now is the time to paint him and give the other parts of my "Darkest Africa" collection a facelift. It is the line that got me into historical miniature collecting, so it deserves more love than I have given.

I have been promising a painting instructional over the last couple of posts, but I just can't think of what the very first one should be. Should it be one for a specific techinique or for a specific model? As soon as I have that figured out, I think the rest will fall into place pretty neatly.

That's all for tonight. Hopefully, I'll post again before a week and a half slip me by.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Workbench Update

Picked up the paintbrushes for a bit tonight to paint some 28mm models before I jumped back on the big Space Marine looking guy. He's almost done, but I just needed to paint something for me tonight. The fellow to the right is an Devout Dwarf Skeleton for Chronopia. I had painted this model as an example of what I consider my "Army Display Standard" for commission rates. He's still not quite complete as I need to flock his base and slap some Dullcote on him. I am really happy with the weathering on him, especially on his sword...really gets across the "been dead for a while" feel I was going for. I still have the other three guys from his blister pack to paint and then I'll be taking a "glamour shots" type photo of them that will be on the new Paintshop website once it goes live.

In historical news, there is this guy. If I haven't said how much I dislike Wargames Factory's models recently, allow me to remedy that. They are the Old Glory of plastic models. Their only saving grace is their price (which is also Old Glory's saving grace, but that is for another day). This is what I consider my "Gaming Standard" painting level for models....although I'm rethinking the eyes as it kinda just highlights how crummy the sculpt is. If you are wondering, I charge roughly 5 bucks per model to paint to this standard (not including assembly as they have a lot of little fiddly parts). Doesn't sound like much, but I can paint 5 or more of these a day (if not more).

That sums up tonight's Workbench Update. I'm getting ready to work on my first painting instructional in a few years...trying to figure out if I want to cover undead flesh or orc flesh. These will be formatted 11x8.5 so that I can fit it all one one page and so you won't have to scroll down to read it all. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Finished AWI British

All done. That's fourteen 54mm British guys painted to a nice gaming standard. To give you an idea of how big a deal this is, I painted maybe 6-7 minis to completion last year....so I'm two years ahead now. I think I will apply some of the lessons and shortcuts I learned from these models to my 28mm models starting with some West Wind WW2 models. Time to knock out that Fallschirjaeger squad.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Why yes...it has been a week since I posted last...

After a hectic week of freelance graphic art and design, I managed to get some time to paint some little metal men. Tonight's update sees some more work on the AWI British Infantry from All The King's Men miniatures. They are getting very near completion as all that is left is detail work and some touch up. Since my left hand is shaking like a leaf in the wind at the moment, I'm having to stop earlier than I planned tonight. I love the big models, but trying to hold them steady can be a challenge when you are used 28mm models. And trying to due precise black lining when you can't hold the model steady is damn near impossible and creates even more touch up work. These guys should be done by Monday night though....and then I'm back onto 28mm for a while.

To give you a hint of what is up next in my "personal" painting cue, I give you this:

Saturday, May 5, 2012

More painting....

Forgive the lack of painting updates, but I've been up to my ears in commission work and freelance work. So over the last week or so, I've been chipping away at the AWI British commission that I've been working on over the last few months (can't believe its taken me this long).
This photo is a day or two old and I've progressed further along. The photo shows the models after I've finished "blacking out" the details and given them a coat of Apple Barrel Pewter Gray mixed with a little Ceramcoat White. You'll also notice some of the areas where I've gone in with a .005 Micron Pen and black lined the areas where the coat and blouse meet the details. I've also cleaned up some of the red where some of the black paint strayed (I really need to pick up a new brush). Oh, and I've also blacked out the base. Ken at All the King's Men will apply all the basing materials, so blacking it out is sufficient.
This photo shows where I've gone in and painted all the white areas on the straps and cleaned up the white areas on the blouse and pants. I then applied a wash of Pewter Gray to give me a little depth and contrast (it really helps the folds in the fabric stand out). I've also applied the fleshtone basecoat...first an application of Ceramcoat Autumn Brown followed by a thin coat of my own special fleshtone mix (Ceramcoat Medium Flesh, Autumn Brown, Anthracite, & a tiny hint of Kelly Green). I then applied a wash of Ceramcoat Dark Burnt Umber to bring out the details. I've also painted the "secondary strap" with a mixture of Antique Gold and Cape Cod Blue. I've applied this color to the satchel on their backs as well.

In the non-historical side of things, I've made some more progress on the Sci Fi Knight from Scibor Miniatures.
This is his scenic base, which is a miniature unto itself by the way. It was basecoated with Pewter Gray mixed with a little Black. I then drybrushed and stippled lighter tones on until the desired effect was achieved. I then did a few washes of Ceramcoat Burnt Sienna to give it a rusted and weathered look. The broken sculpture was painted more traditionally...a little blending to give it a smooth appearance and then I applied glazes to give the appearance of weathering. The whole idea I kept in mind while painting the base is that it needed to look good, but not stand out so much that it would "compete" with the mini mounted on it.

Speaking of which, here he is. He's getting closer to completion. This photo is actually a little out of date since I've actually painted his right shoulder pad and finished up his tunic. Currently, I'm working on his "boots" and shading the black armor a little more to get more contrast. Next up is his shield and sword. Then I'll be moving onto some "smaller" models :)

That's all for tonight. Hopefully the next post will show the completed AWI British detachment along with the completed Sci Fi Knight.