Thursday, 23 March 2017

The Fight'n Four

Sorry, no metal puns today. On the upside though there should also be a minimum of violent furious ranting about the Donald Trump of tabletop wargaming that is modern GW's latest misdeeds (and trust me, I could write a LOT of ranting about them. But too much horror and rage is bad for my health, so I'm trying to limit it to just the occasional topical swipe. Any hardline conservatives out there are just going to have to put up with the occasional bit of snowflaking unless they want more thousand-word rants).

What there is, however, are pretty pictures of the last two of my Firewarrior guinea-pigs test models.

There weren't that many wild experiments this time, as I've pretty much nailed down the paint scheme I want. The main one this time was on the bases, marking my first ever use of a new basing element - tufts. Much like everything else about this project, I spent a long time beforehand thinking about what I wanted to do with the bases. The bulk of it was easy to work out - like the classic T'au desert camouflage scheme used in the 'Evy Metal studio army, I also wanted to emulate the desert/badlands basing theme that was used in it. This was pretty straightforward, as I conveniently already had everything I needed for it, but I decided that I also wanted something more for my army bases, some kind of little extra embellishment or doodad to really spice them up a notch, and decided that some grassy tufts would be just the thing (I thought my model bases needed tuft-ening up). This then resulted in a decision to use two kinds of tufts - one that was a very strong green to contrast with the more barren base colours and make the whole thing really pop, and one that was a more subdued sandy colour to enhance the overall theme of the bases and go more with the colour scheme on the models. Putting all this together would ideally result in a kind of Savannah wastelands look - something similar to the Badlands map theme from Starcraft is essentially what I'm trying to aim for here.

The third test model isn't anything special painting wise. The main innovations with her were in the assembly stage, where I manage to refine my greenstuff skills to an acceptable level. I'm using only the older kits for the Firewarriors in my army, for several reasons of varying importance, which came with rather infamous mold defects on the leg armour. The obvious solution would be to reconstruct the deformed sections with greenstuff, which seemed simple enough on paper (the leg armour being comprised entirely of simple shapes and lines), but proved somewhat infuriatingly troublesome in practice. My original plan - to take an ordinary staple and bend it into the right shape to use as a press for the panel lines - fell through when I was unable to get it into the right size and shape (the shape wasn't too hard, but getting it into the right size was another matter entirely). So instead I tried scoring into the greenstuff with a needle, which had always worked before when I needed lines in greenstuff, but this ran into the problem of getting sharp corners - they would inevitably either come out curved (which didn't look right) or deform into one straight line. I tried making greenstuff molds from incact leg armour pieces, but they couldn't quite get the right pattern on.

The breakthrough finally came when, as I was going to bed after another fruitless night, my thoughts turned to the recent Disney film Moana. I thought about a brief shot in that where a character is getting tattooed and suddenly had a Eureka moment - I could simply tattoo the details on with a needle! I conducted a quick experiment the next day and the concept worked like a charm, although it was still imperfect and the sculpted leg armour came out rather wonky. But it was progress, and I quickly came to the conclusion that the problem had been too much greenstuff on the section, which was causing the detail to cave in and 'lip' when I pressed in too deeply with the needle. I tried again with another set of legs using a much thinner layer of greenstuff and the results were much better, though there was still some deforming towards one end (the moral of that story is never work with greenstuff in less than ample light conditions). But I considered it good enough to start painting with, and indeed it's far less noticeable now.

The other important breakthrough was learning to work with the leg armour sections, only using greenstuff on the middle area where the panel lines are supposed to drop down. Any missing panel lines on the sides of the armour were simply carved into the plastic using - very, VERY carefully - a razor saw.

The tuft I tried out on her base is the current planned sandy-coloured tuft, a GW Mordheim Turf tuft. I doesn't look quite right to me, but I suspect that may be because it was squashed by the fingers of god as it was being peeled off the sheet and glued down. Further study may be required.

The final model is where things start to get more interesting, as she is a testbed for a number of tricks, mostly for the Shas'Uis that are planned. On the building side of things I tested out a new conversion. I want to give all the markerlight equipped infantry models in the army data-cables running from their helmet aerials in the same manner as the original 3rd edition Pathfinder (and Stealthsuit Shas'vre) models, because it just looks aggressively awesome. Much like the component repairs above, this seemed simple enough in theory, as all I'd really need is two pieces of wire cut to the right length, bent to the right shape stuck together, with a little bit of strategically placed greenstuff to cover where they met the gun and aerial. Closer inspection of the 3rd edition Pathfinder models that I own revealed that there's also a small circular... thing... part-way down the cables at about chest height, but that seemed easy enough to replicate with greenstuff too. The trouble came in finding the right wire. I initially planned to use regular old 1mm wire, which is the standard wire I've used in every other hobby project so far and something I am now swimming in after buying a ton of it in preparation for this one. The 1mm wire however proved to be much too thick for the infantry models, effectively making it look like the Firewarrior helmet had tusks and blowing the greenstuff details all out of proportion. I desperately hunted around in local shops for something suitably thinner, before finally finding the answer in very thin Florists' Wire from the local flower store. It was available for a very reasonable price, and proved to be the perfect size for the infantry when I tested it at home.

Painting wise the model represents my first real attempt at the bane of any painter's existence - painting white. The only real experience I've had so far with white has been my Tau fleet, which just used very heavy drybrushes of Skull White (and later White Scar). This worked fine for Battlefleet Gothic models, but I had the feeling it wouldn't quite cut it for 28mm heroic scale models. I searched long and hard for an answer to how to layer white properly, but could find very little online. Eventually I talked with a painting goddess I encountered at the local GW store and she confirmed what I had already begun to suspect from squinting at examples of white 'Evy Metal painting (start with a grey and work up), and then pointed me in the direction of which colour I should use as a base. Conveniently, it was one I already had from painting the ATT orbital. Thus began the basis of my attempt at painting bright white on the scanner. starting with Fenrisian Grey (forever Space Wolves Grey to me) as a base and then layering it with a mixture of White Scar with a little bit of Fenrisian Grey, then highlighted with White Scar. It seemed to work out well enough for small details like the scanner, which is all I really need it for at this stage.

The bone white on the helmet and shoulder guard were an attempt to recreate the bone white panels in the old studio example Tau army. I initially tried following the driections for painting white helmets in the Crisis Suit painting guide on page 40 of Codex: Tau, but quickly ran into a problem with the main colour. The guide specifies that this should be a Skull White-Vomit Brown mixture, with a ratio very heavily Skull White's way, but my experiment quickly proved that all such a mixture would produce is a very light sand ochre (this might seem to you to be simple common sense, but I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt at the time under the reasoning that the old 'Evy Metal painters might know something I didn't). Thus I defaulted to an old method of painting bone white that I used in a couple of places on my hobby minions, starting with Ushabti Bone (which I actually had to physically stop myself from typing as Bleached Bone) and then highlighting with Screaming Skull and White Scar. It seemed to work out good enough, but I can't help but think I could get it closer to the studio examples by using a mixture of Ushabti Bone and White Scar as the main colour instead (of course, that would then raise the question of how to highlight it...). It also represents my first real attempt at painting Tau markings at 28mm scale. They turned out reasonably well, I suppose, but I can't stop thinking that they're slightly crooked.

The tuft used on this model is an Army Painter Woodland Tuft, which I discovered in a local hobby store and plan to use for the rich green tufts. The actual production infantry models are going to have the smaller size Woodland Tufts on them, but the sheet came with more medium tufts so I decided to use one of those for the test case.

And finally here's the whole group together. All in all I'd say these tests have proven successful. This paint scheme is now approved. Full scale production: AUTHORISED.

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