Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Unfortunately, I've taken a slight sabbatical from painting this week.  I started gloss coating and matt varnishing my collection this past weekend only to find out exactly how time consuming it is, not to mention how bad of a headache I get after spraying 3 coats of over 25 miniatures in my stairwell with a mask on and the door cracked.  My Gondor army is all good to go, but on the plastic rangers and army of the undead I decided to forgo the gloss and just hit it with a single coat of the matt varnish.  I've never had an issue with paint flaking on my plastic models, so they really don't need the added protection of gloss undercoat.  Plus when it comes to nasty chemicals, I'm not a fan of doing 3 coats with a 15 minute break between coats.  I just takes far too long to get the shine from the gloss off them, so I decided that only metal models will get gloss undercoat.

On to the business at hand.  DRAGON!!!!  I had originally done this model awhile back, and I was quite pleased with my work, especially this being the first multi-part monstrous creature I ever painted.  After having glossed and dulled him, it definitely breathed a bit of life in him and I feel good about showing him off in a showcase.  Anyway, here he is in all his glory......

My fiancee wanted to get in on this one and I caved

 So that's the dragon.  I think he's a fantastic piece in my collection, and I like the fact that he has more shade and tone then the typical dragons you see out there (like on the Games Workshop box cover, which IMO is way too bright).  I would eventually like to get another one just for collection purposes to paint a different color.  Perhaps blue?  Who knows....

Hopefully later this week I'll have something new to show off rather than works I've already done awhile back.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Gloss and Matt Varnishing Miniatures

I have a confession to make.  In the past two years of miniature painting, I have not once sealed any of my miniatures.  I know, I know.... the audacity.  Seriously though, after a few days of research around the interwebz, I've come to the conclusion that they're really isn't a standard method of finishing and sealing.

Now I've used the Army Painter dip method before when I first started out painting trying to save time by having a decent tabletop standard paintjob, but the problem was I wasn't really learning how to paint.  I think the painting in general is the cornerstone of the hobby.  So after I dipped a few miniatures and hit it with the Anti-Shine Matt sealant, I wasn't that happy with the finished product and I ultimately decided the only way I was going to really learn is by actually putting in the time and effort via trial by fire.  Thus two years later, my painting is rather decent and I have a display case filled with various levels of my painting prowess.  With every miniature you paint, you can only get better and I've come to respect that.

Onto the topic at hand.  So I've never once sealed anything I've ever painted.  Playing in last weekends tournament and watching my mini's get thrown this way and that (didn't really notice anything at the time), I packed all my guys up and headed home.  Now I'm not someone who leaves my mini's in the case, as I like to place them back in glass cabinet where I can admire them.  So I'm putting them back in the case, only to notice that on my fresh new Minas Tirith troops, the black paint around my cast bases was flaking off.  Now I wash my bases with soap and water after I cast and then brush prime them with black primer, but this is a problem.

After doing a bit of research, I realized that out of all the tutorials on painting and everything associated with miniatures that I've ever come across, not one tutorial have I ever come across on proper sealing.  Sure, I've heard of different affects you can achieve by gloss varnishing and matt varnishing thru passing, but nothing crazy definitive.

So all over the interwebz, everyone has they're own crazy way of varnishing and sealing.  Some use the cheapo brands from the local DIY hardware stores, others specific model brands, and even others who use 5 different types of glosses and varnishes on from various sources on they're models.  Most swear by they're tryed and true methods while other complain of disasters of the dreaded "misting" effect after using propellant sealant in inadequate conditions.  I took what I had laying around, played with it and took some pictures.

So I decided to go for Games Workshop (old) Gloss Varnish and Army Painter Anti-Shine Dull Matt.  After reading a few places, it seemed the consensus was that a gloss varnish start is the way to go since it has the best protective properties.  After applying it and letting it dry, it gives your miniatures a nice protective coating.  I did a 1:1 ratio of the gloss and water and applied it to a broad cross section of miniatures I own to give this trial a full go.

It's hard to see, but it gives you a really nice hard shell after it dries, but leaves you with a hideous sheen (it is gloss after-all).  After I applied 2-3 coats, I went looking online to find how long I'm supposed to wait for it to fully cure before I hit it with the Matt.  Well, the consensus is still up in the air on that, so I decided to let them sit over night and hit them after work the next day.  And I did just that.... 

I have to say, I really like the flat Matt look on the mini's.  It really gives them that finished/professional look.  Now the down side is it does mute your darker colors depending on how much you apply, but I think that's one of those things you can control with experience.  Here are two examples of the difference between just a paint job and my new method with the gloss and matt side by side.

Same exact mini, one on the left was just painted, one on the right was painted and sealed using gloss/matt
Same scenario as above picture

Take note that each model in the set was painted around the same time as its duplicate using the same techniques on both miniatures, so its not like one is painted better than the other.  When you twirl the mini's on the left side, the parts that aren't supposed to be shiny (like cloth/skin) definitely have a glare on them, while on the right, the only slight glare you get is from the metal parts and even that is extremely limited (which is the effect of what I'm after).  In the first picture you can definitely see it while in the second picture, its more subtle.  You be the judge.

All in all I like this method and I'm planning on incorporating this into my regular painting routine.  The down side is that its time consuming.  Two layers of watered down gloss, a night to cure, then 2-3 sessions of Flat Matt before you can even place static grass or any tufts.  I guess I'm just used to finishing painting, tossing a little glue on the base, sprinkle a little grass here and there and maybe a tuft or two, then tossing it in the case.  Also worth note is the fact that I'd like all my miniatures done this way, which means I have multiple armies to do as well as various touch ups that I always tell myself I'm going to get to someday.  Well, I guess someday is here.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Gondor Pt 8

Sadly, this past weekend wasn't the most productive I've had in awhile.  I played in a small 750 point tournament on saturday that pretty much lasted the entire day.  I think all in all, I did alright.  It was my second time fielding my Gondorian army, and I now see where my strengths and weaknesses are in the army as a while.

I also tried to get two hero units done, only getting them base coated on friday, so they looked pretty bad on the table.  Unfortunately, most of the people playing in the tournament were rocking mostly gray plastic armies which looked terrible, hence the reason no pictures of the event were taken.  Sunday though, I got Cirion and Beregond fully painted.

I tried to follow the paint scheme Games Workshop showed in they're product page.  I think they came out really good.  The Beregond sculpt in-particular was extremely fun to paint, especially the face since it had really defined detail.  Cirion had a "Rocky" look to him, but the blending on the cloak really turned out good.

As a side note, my Winsor & Newton brushes finally came in today.  It's sad that as a 30 year old man, I get excited by new paint brushes, but these are supposed to be the Mercedes of paintbrushes.

Whats even more sad is I took a picture of them..... el oh el

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dwarf Showcase

I've wanted to do something a little different for this post.  I've painted a bunch of models over the past two years and my ikea case is almost full.  A little while ago (like November-ish time-frame) I painted up a few models for my nephew.  Sadly, I didn't take pictures of all 25 models (including Gimli), but I did take a few.

So here's 9 of them.. pretty basic color scheme

These 3 models are still in my case.  Was playing with the color scheme a bit
Just a random pic of them I found in my phone

I think it did a decent table-top standard job on these guys.  I was still trying to get the hang of painting eyes, so they look a bit overly big.  I blame this partially on not using my magnifying headgear which I pretty much can't paint eyes without now.  I thought the blue on the cloth turned out really good.  I'd like to go back with a flesh wash on that scout on the right in the second pic when I get a chance.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Gondor Pt 7

The reaper flow improver got here at the end of last week so I was able to get to work again.  In the meantime, I ended up casting another 50 bases in which I promptly painted along with cleaning the next 35 Minas Tirith guys along with priming and getting them set for pinning.

I accidentally broke 2 of them while pin prepping, so the counts at 33

and I managed to finish up the rest of the Ranger warband, so now we're at an even 12.

The newest additions
and all together with Damrod

and I wasn't sure if I was going to post him since he didn't turn out all that great, but I tried to paint Faramir without any flow improver, and it didn't turn out exactly the way I wanted it, but without further adu, Faramir from the Heroes of the West boxset.

I think for tabletop standard, hes not bad.... but nothing I'm that proud of.
I'd blame it on the sculpt, but it wasn't that bad.  For some reason, I've become dependent of flow improver and I had a rough time with just using water for anything other than base coating.  It's something I'm going to need to work on in the future.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Gondor Pt 6 (and still going strong!)

So I've been at this project for a few weeks now, and I think I've hit a milestone.  Firstly though, I wanted to show off tonight's work.

Not a big feat on its own, but worth noting that I'm averaging a block of 6 a night

Up close to see a few details

And now onto the milestone.......

This brings the count to 47 total (including the 2 captains and the banner)

So yeah, not a huge milestone but my original plan was to get 45-50 of them done before working on another section of the army.  These Men of Minas Tirith will definitely serve as the backbone of the army since its your basic troop type.  I think in the near future I'll be looking into painting more rangers so I have more shooting capabilities.  There is also these guys to get done as well....

I've noticed a gap in my army, and I think having a few named characters should fix that.  I do want to make a mold of Beregond's head so I can mount it on a cavalry unit.  I just ran out of flow improver tonight, so until the package arrives, I might be doing a bit conversion and prepping work.

Friday, March 1, 2013


After my last blog, I was going to immediately return to my Men of Minas Tirith to finished the original 40 some odd guys I had left to paint, but unfortunately that didn't happen.  Instead, after peering into the 3 odd containers filled with simple green, I knew what I had to do.

For those of you who are scratching your heads, I have a confession to make.  I buy tons of miniatures on ebay with an extremely poor paint job for dirt cheap.  I strip them off paint using simple green, then paint them up to the best of my abilities.  Some people will only use this method with pewter/metal.  Unfortunately, I'm extremely cheap and will even do plastic.  Also, being the lazy ass that I am, I usually dump a lot of 50 of them in a batch of simple green and forget about them for months on end.  Anyway, here's the latest.....

Yup, there is about 100 mini's in there, including metal trolls and camels

I think I ended up pulling 50 warriors of rohan from this tub

and here is a few of them cleaned as best as possible

And in one of the cheap lots I bought included a Mumak (giagantic elephant) which I proceded to rip apart and strip.

So I spent about 3 nights stripping paint off and I'm happy to report that I have officially stripped everything that needed to be stripped.  Also on a side note, the King of the Dead finally arrived which I was able to promptly paint in under an hour.

Yay!!!! I don't have to use an unpainted Warrior of the Dead as a proxy anymore