Sunday, September 18, 2011

Paint for Tournaments, Part 3: Starting from the Ground Up

[This article is part of the Painting for Tournaments article series.]

I'm back for another quick article on Painting for Tournaments.  I will be creating a table of contents page for this article series as I think it might get to be a bit long.  Watch for that.  That said, let's take a look at what we have gone over so far.

Part 1: How NOT to Paint- This article is about some of the things I have seen as a tournament paint judge that have caused people to not score as many points as possible. Believe it or not, most of these problems are easy to remedy or outright avoid with just a little bit of effort.

Part 2: Basic Basing Principles-  This article talks about how to create a coherent look across your army by creating simple bases that look good and make your models stand out.

Basic Basing Addendum- I wrote this article in response to a reader question about themed bases that have a bit of variation to them.  It was a good question and hopefully I answered it satisfactorily. 

That brings us to my next article, Starting from the Ground Up.  Basically, painting a great looking army starts at the beginning of the assembling/painting process.  I am going to go over two important areas in this article: model prep and priming.  These two steps set the stage for a great looking tournament army. 

First, I will take a look at model prep as this logically comes first in the process. Model prep is an often overlooked part of the army building process and can really hurt a player if their models are closely judged.  There are a few things that need to be taken care of during model prep and though they can sometimes be time consuming, if correctly done, they can really make a model or army look sweet. 

Cleaning models is generally the first step.  With the advent of finecast, this is a very important step.  Resin models generally have mold release agent on them and need to be washed before you try to apply paint.  This insures that the paint will stick to the model.  I haven't ever experienced this kind of issue with plastic or metal models, but many people I know advocate washing off models no matter what medium they come from.  This is done using warm water and a gentle soap.  Be careful with water temp and resin models as I have heard that they can bend and warp even from the heat of water.  Plastic and metal models don't suffer from this though.  After the material is cleaned up, you can assemble the model if it needs it.  I personally only use super glue as it doesn't bond pieces like plastic glue does. This allows me to pull off arms or other things if I make a mistake or need to make last minute changes to models when I change a list up. 

Now, that the models are clean, it is time for the most tedious part of model building, cleaning up mold lines and imperfections.  This is one of those cardinal sins of model construction that I am often guilty of.  That's right.  I don't always get all of the mold lines taken care of.  It can really cost you too.  During this step, either through the use of a hobby knife of file, you want to smooth out and/or cut away mold lines and imperfections.  You also want to fill gaps with greenstuff.  Metal models often suffer from large gaps and many reports have been given on bubbling and such in the new finecast models.  Either way, if it's a gap that wasn't intended to be there, fill it in. 

That sums up what I do for model prep and generally this will get you a model that is ready to enter the painting stage (if some of you hobby gurus want to step in and add additional steps, please feel free) which brings us to the next part, priming.

You will hear tons of personal opinions on priming. Everyone, it seems, does it differently. I am pretty straightforward about priming.  I don't feel you have to spend ages on priming, though you do want to do it right.  Let's talk about the primer itself first.  I basically prime with two different colors depending on a model.  I use a dark grey or black primer on models that contain large quantities of metal or who are supposed to be dark.  For instance, a knight in armor would be primed black or a zombie as I want it to look grim, dark, and forbidding.  The side effect of a dark primer is that it mutes the colors you put on over it.  Of course, you can brighten the colors to some degree by layering paint until you get the brightness you desire, however, as a general rule, dark primer yields muted/dark colors. 

I also use a light grey or white primer.  This color is generally used on models that contain a lot of bright colors.  For instance, as I posted an or two article ago, I just bought a Harlequin Troupe.  If you have ever seen Harlequins you know that they have a lot of really bright, garish colors on them.  They are essentially space clowns with swords and guns.  That said, I would prime them light grey or white to get brighter colors.  Just like using dark primer yields muted colors, light primer yields brighter colors.  Each color will require fewer layers of color to get a true value of the color.

After you have decided which shade to prime your models (you might even do some dark and some light), it is time to get them primed.  Setups vary greatly.  Right now, I have a small pedestal/table that I put a cardboard box on as a backdrop and spray into it.  Either way, the best way to prime is to keep the can 12"-16" away from the model and to use short controlled bursts.  This yields thinner layers of primer that won't cover up fine details.  On top of that, I generally start by spraying down on the model from above at a 45 degree angle for a few passes and then change angle to spray from under the model at a 45 degree angle for a few passes.  ***Do not worry if the model is not totally covered.  This is a new hobbyist mistake.  You don't have to totally cover a model to have it primed well and if you keep trying to get every nook and cranny, you will probably end up putting too much primer on and covering up details.  Be careful with this.***

If you want to prime multiple models at the same time, I recommend lining them up on a tray or piece of cardboard that can easily be turned so that you can prime from multiple angles.  That said, insure that the models are spaced appropriately (about 6" apart) so that primer can get to every angle of the model. 

That's primer 101.  What you should get here is that you need to give thought to how you want your army to look before priming as putting the right shade of primer on can really make your job a lot easier. Once you have the desired shade, make sure that you don't excessively coat your models.  You aren't painting them with primer.  You simply want to give the paint a surface to better adhere to. Thus, you want to make sure the majority of the model is coated, but it doesn't have to be totally covered.  Don't, don't, don't get too close to spray any one area for too long as you will lose detail.  It is a pain to get primer off of plastic and resin models.  You don't want to go there.

In my next article, we are going to start looking at the painting process.  This will involve some simple layering and washing, a bit of light source painting, and using old Henry Ford's invention, the assembly line. 

Other useful articles:
Tutorial: How-to Rock Bases on the Cheap
Taking better pictures with cra...inexpensive equipment
Product Review: Simple Green

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1 comment:

Scrap Square said...

This is a great set of articles man! Very very helpful!!!

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