Monday, 20 June 2011

What a productive day. Ish

I sit here in medicated agony, after a hard day's toil over MDF and foamcore. Seriously who would have thought building 10' of 4" wide river could be so tiring? I spent most of the afternoon in my elderly father's workshop (which to the untrained eye resembles a fairly ramshackle carport put together by Orks.) Resting on a black & decker workmate with no legs, wielding a jigsaw with parts falling out of it ("I'm sure that bit isn't vital") and realising just how bloody unfit I am these days. I'd cut out and sanded all the river pieces I wanted, but gosh darn it had to give up halfway through gluing on polystyrene strips for the banks when I ran out of hot glue gun glue. Had absolutely nothing to do with the invisible Zulu who was constantly plunging his assegai into my lower vertebrae, oh no.

Before that torment, I had a go with one of Dave Graffam's card model buildings. Instead of building it with card, I printed it out onto regular paper which I've then stuck to a foamcore shell of the correct dimensions. The result is a lot more sturdy than regular card models and didn't take that much longer, so that's a win. I've also done the first stage basing of about half of the German troops I have.

My current basing/figure painting workflow for the 28mm VSF.
1) Glue figure to penny. I chose pennies because they're less intrusive than 25mm slottabases, are weighted to help hold figures upright, and are cheaper than any other basing solution around (use a penny, or spend 10p for a similar sized washer... durrrrrr.)
2) Build up around cast figure base with ready mixed household filler. The idea is to try to blend with the cast base to make it look like the figure is standing on a single penny-sized base.
3) Undercoat the figure. In the past I've happily used car primer, or GW skull white, but I've now got two cans of Army Painter white primer which I'm itching to try.
4) Give the figure a flat, basic paint job. Paint the base area brown. Allow to dry before the next step.
5) Apply PVA glue to the base and dip it into a container of basing sand (I still have an old supply from Games Workshop, but I'm off to my local pet shop to see if I can find aquarium sand that's suitable.
6) Apply Army Painter Quickshade to the figure. I know opinion is sharply divided over "dipping" but to be brutally honest, my painting sucks. I don't actually dip, but apply the shade with a brush. I first tried the technique seven years ago, just before I gave up wargaming, using tinted floor sealant from B&Q and sad to say I think they're the best paintjobs I've ever done. I've tried one figure the other day with Quickshade, and I think the results are even better. One added bonus is that where the Quickshade drains onto the basing sand, it turns it a deep earthen brown, which saves painting it.
7) Apply PVA glue to the sandy base again, this time with the option of leaving a couple of patches untouched, then dip into green flock.

And there you have it. If the green flock wears off in use, it'll reveal either the sand or the brown paint, both of which will look fine on the table. And the actual process is lightning quick, not counting the time waiting for various steps to dry. At the moment I'm holding off from a final spray of matt varnish to de-shine the quickshade, because frankly I think I like the shiny "toy soldier" look, especially for the VSF/Victoriana figures.

It does occur to me that with the handycraft side of things kicking into high gear, I really ought to dig out my digital camera and start getting some pictures on this blog.

Finally, big props to Ian Kay at Irregular Miniatures. Now Irregular don't get a lot of props for their 28mm figures. Their tiny scale 2mm and 6mm figures are highly though of, as are their 42mm "Toy Soldiers" and I found their 15mm colonial & 19th century ranges to be absolutely superb. But the 28s are frankly a bit primitive, with none of the crisp detailing and character of your Foundry or West Wind, or most modern manufacturers. But they are functional and workmanlike, painted up they can look pretty good but more importantly, they're relatively inexpensive. A troop of 10 cavalry work out at half the cost of the other manufacturers I looked at. Having spent far more than I should have in the last few weeks, when I decided I absolutely positively had to have a troop of cavalry and a couple of guns for both Brits and Germans, they were my first port of call.

Anyway I sent Ian the order last night for checking before I PayPal'd him the money. First thing this morning... and I mean first thing as in "not had breakfast yet" early, he mailed me to correct my total (I'd overcharged myself) and confirmed the order was otherwise OK. I Paypal'd him the money, and this afternoon received an email from him saying that the order had been posted today.

That's pretty much a same-day turnaround. I am frankly impressed.

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