Archives

All posts for the month November, 2011

I’ve never been a fan of photoshopping pictures of models, but there is something to be said about ensuring that a picture is true to the subject, and is presented well.  To that effect, I do a bit of editing to the photos I put up here, and today I’ll take you through this quick and painless process.

Here’s a picture of some of the first PP models I ever painted – a unit of Widowmakers. These are from about 4 years ago, as evidenced from the paint job and horrible photography.  However, it’s a good example to work with, so here it is:

Original Photo

It’s dark, the back guys are out of focus, and there’s stuff on the sides that take your attention off the models that the picture is actually trying to show.  Not all that great.

The photo editing software I use is GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program), and it’s open-source and free to download and use.  You can get it here, on the official site: www.gimp.org.  It’s really lightweight, works quickly and it easily has most of the features of Photoshop that you’d pay loads of $$$ for.

Step 1: Start GIMP, Load Image

This part’s pretty obvious.  Once installed, you can right click an image and choose “Open in GIMP”, or just start GIMP and open a file like you do in any other program.

The GUI is fairly simple – three windows appear.  One is your toolbar, it has all the different tools that let you manipulate pictures.  Another has the list of layers, as well as a brush selection pad.  The big one is where the picture loads, and it also has the traditional File-Edit drop-down menus we’re all familiar with.

Once your picture is loaded, you should be looking at something like this:

Step 2: Crop

So, in my example photo, the subject is centered, which is good, but there’s some extra stuff on the sides, and lots of extra room on top.  That extra stuff makes the picture larger than it needs to be, which means the subject isn’t as large as it could be.  Time to crop the good stuff, and drop the bad stuff.

Grab the crop tool, it looks like the hobby knife.  Select the section you want to keep, and you’ll see the excess go dark, like so:

While in this state, you can drag around the borders and corners of that box until you’re happy with how it looks.  GIMP is nice and gives you really big handles you can click on to move the edges around.  When you;re happy, hit enter and poof, all the darkened areas are gone!

Step 3: Color Correction

When a picture is taken, the camera does it’s best to accurately represent what it sees.  But, what it sees may not be an accurate representation of the object.  This could be due to shadows, inadequate lighting, a cheap or bad camera, etc.  This color correction step attempts to reduce that misrepresentation.

So, open the Level Tool:  Colors -> Level…

This tool analyzes the pixel in the photo, and comes up with several tidbits of useful information.

Most of that I don’t care about.  I’m just trying to make the picture look as close to the model sitting on my desk as possible.

So, when the Levels Tool Dialogue pops up, I just hit the Auto-Correct button:

What this does is pretty cool.  It looks through all the pixels and picks out the one closest to pure white, and the one closest to pure black.  It then stretches those pixels until they actually are pure white and pure black.  Then, once it knows how it had to adjust those two pixels, it adjusts all the rest of the pixels in the picture accordingly.

So, if your picture is too dark, it won’t have to adjust the black much, but it will have to lighten the white pixel, so the entire picture gets lightened.  Likewise washed out pictures get more saturation.  If your picture’s too red, it knows that the picture is skewed red, and will reduce the red levels in the entire picture.  It’s awesome.

Click OK, and we’re almost done.

Step 4: Save-As

Always do your best to save the processed picture as a new file.  I don’t do this as often as I should, which is why I had to search so hard to find an unprocessed picture for this tutorial.  Saving as a new file uses space, sure, but it also makes sure you have the original in case you ever need it.

Here’s the original Photo:

Original Photo

And here’s the processed photo:

Final Photo

Now, it’s still not a great photo, but that’s due to how it was taken.  The final photo’s colors are closer to the actual models, and the models are bigger in the photo, despite the fact the photo takes up the same space on the screen.

Overall, the process takes about 30 seconds to a minute per photo, and it’s not a difficult thing to do at all.  I think it makes a world of difference in the quality of pictures, and when you’re trying to show off a model, what’s the point if you can’t actually see it?

I hope you enjoyed the first part of the basing tutorial from Mugu.  Now that he’s got all the bits and parts necessary, let’s see the magic happen!

Welcome back to Part 2 in our basing article!  So have you been out rummaging around in your children’s toy boxes, taking apart those old FM radios in your garage, and permissively looting your friends broken models in their bits boxes?

One thing I didn’t mention in the first article is the big “Why” in doing what I like to do with bases.  Essentially, Privateer Press models aren’t very easy to convert or change, especially the metal ones.  Its not impossible or even very hard, depending on the model, but it take practice and sometimes skill to pull off a good looking conversion.  But almost anyone can make a good looking base and more or less customize it to individual tastes.  You can also use bases to tie and army’s theme together, for example you can make an all mercenary  pirate army that has wooden planks and maybe some other things you’d find on a pier or ship on it or a Cygnar army that has lots of sandbags and maybe some planking as well to show that it has been involved in a lot of trench fighting.

While I do, as I stated earlier, tend to make my bases and then try to figure out how to attach my miniature to it later, I do look at the miniature to try to lessen the chance that I’ll make a base that just won’t work with the miniature at all (which I have done in the past). Most of the bloodgorgers have roughly the same stance, walking forward with one foot in front of the body and the other behind the body, but unfortunately they have a loin cloth/tabard thing which means we really can’t have them stepping over something unless I remove the loincloth or have each foot on a raised rock/step/skull/etc.

My first step will be to fill in the slot with a craft stick very similar to a toothpick.

I don't think I can make a family friendly joke about sticks and slots......

I cut the stick with my heavy snips, turn over the base, insert the cut stick, and fill in the hole with hot glue.  Then I turn over the base and push the stick down a bit before the glue fully hardens as the stick will stick out some due to gap between the base floor and the edge of the base.   The sticks were really cheap, probably about the same price you’d pay for a box of thoothpicks.  But with a discount coupon to your favorite craft store, it can be cheaper.

I usually like to place two to three things on a base depending on the size of the base and the size of the items I’m going to put on the base.

a bit of cobblestone, a gear I broke in half, and a skeleton arm

With Warmachine bases, I like to imagine that the armies are fighting on old battlefields that are littered with debris.  With Hordes bases I don’t usually use gears or bits that look like they might have come out of a machine unless its part of a warjack.  Otherwise I tend to make my bases pretty similar all in all.  I usually do a dry fit arrangement of bits to see what I like the look of and then glue them down.

Here’s the first base that I made.  It has two pieces of cobblestone, a gear that I cut in half with my snips, and a skeleton weapon arm.

I’m not concerned about the hot glue that’s showing under the gear as it will be covered up by ballast and/or static grass later.  You can see that one of the cobblestones goes over the edge of the base without sticking up at an angle.  That’s because I cut out part of the base with a hobby knife.  It looked like this when I was finished cutting it:

a hole in time saves nine....that's not right...

 As you can hopefully tell, there’s a hole where I’ve cut through the lip of the base.  Don’t be afraid to cut through your base or even to cut parts out of them.  But I advise leaving enough base intact to be able to mark your front arc on your models.

This will eliminate any confusion in the future during games as to front arc.  In any case, I hot glued a cobblestone piece right over the hole and the only sign that anything is different is a slight curve in the base lip.

Here’s the second base:

Whoo-hoo, second base!

You can tell that the large gear is at an angle.  When I’m going to cut a section out of the base to place something in it, I first use my hobby knife to trace around it:

You should hopefully be able to see the outline

 And then I use my heavy snips to rough cut the shape.  Sorry, I got ahead of myself and forgot to snap a pic before I moved on.  Then I dry test fit the piece and shave off more of the base with my hobby knife until I get the piece to fit the way I want it to.  Then I usually hot glue it in place like so:

After giving the hot glue a minute to harden enough to handle without the piece falling off, I turn it over and glue the bottom side of the piece to the base.   My thought is that its better to have too much glue than not enough.

all geared up and no where to go

 Here’s the third base:

And who doesn't love third base?

 I didn’t do anything to the base itself, but I like to break weapons or have them sticking out of the ground.

The Fourth Base

 On this base you can see that I didn’t push the stick in the slot down before the hot glue hardened.  The blue gear has a stem that goes down through the base, which you can see below:

 One word of caution – when drilling through something don’t have your hand, fingers, or other body parts on the other side.  I’ve drilled into myself by accident several times and it never gets to be fun at all. 😛

The Fifth Element....er...Fifth Base, I mean

 This base has a spring that is made to look (or will) partially buried.  Again, I got ahead of myself and cut and glued it in place before snapping any pictures.  The hole was made by drilling several holes and then cutting a larger whole with them as a guide with my hobby knife.  After the spring sat the way I wanted it, I hot glued it in place.  As with the other base, I turned it over once the hot glue hardened a bit and used the glue gun to not only add more glue to the bottom to keep the spring in place, but to completely cover the bottom of the spring so that I could paint it and add ballast later so that it would look as though it were partially buried.

The Sith Base...no...wait, sixth...hmmm

Nothing special here other than breaking the twig in the middle slightly so that I could get it to bend.  You can see I didn’t get to the stick in the slot in time on this one either.

I’m not going to go base by base on the next steps as their pretty much all the same for all the bases.  The next step is to add white glue for our ballast.  I use an old paint brush to spread it around.

Its okay if it gets on the other bits as I want ballast to get on them to make it seem as though they’ve been on/in the ground long enough for the dirt to get on them or partially buried as the case may be.

No sniffing allowed

Then I place the base in the bag with the ballast and cover it up, pressing down slightly to get a good amount of ballast on the base.   The bases look like this going into the next step:

As you can see, when I pressed down on the ballast it sometimes went over the edge of the base.  Like I said earlier, that’s okay.   To me it just makes the bases more interesting.  Depending on how much time I have, I usually like to let the ballast set overnight or at least for several hours otherwise the next part will cause the glue to reliquify and just make a big mess.

Next I will basecoat everything on the base, well, usually I will, but as you can see, I just slopped slightly watered down Vallejo Charred Brown over everything but the gear, which was based black:

Ignore the wash in the background.  I used a different wash on each base, but the outcome was the same because of dry brushing in later stages.   Next I usually add a dark brown wash or brown ink over the ballast.

Next comes the dry brushing of the ballast.  I almost always use the same three colors:

And usually in the order shown.  The Charred Brown is just there to show you all the colors, I don’t add it again.  The end result is below:

drybrushing is your friend here

Next I will usually paint the other items on the base.  In this case I painted the skull, gear, and branch.  I generally paint my brass (Vallejo Brassy Brass in this case), then wash it with a homemade brass wash (one drop old GW flesh wash, two drops GW yellow ink, one drop water, and one drop flow aid – I have no idea what I’m going to do when my old GW flesh was runs out as the new one is much lighter) to tone down the brightness.

 

 

 

 

 

Then I use a wash to create verdigris on the brass.  I make mine from Vallejo Jade Green, usually one drop paint to ten drops water, which looks something like this:

 Seeing how often I use it, I like to have a decent amount premade.   I don’t mind buying premade washes as they save me a lot of time, but this was is silly easy to make and no one makes one yet that I know of, though I do have a new wash from Secret Weapon that might work.

Use the verdigris wash sparingly as less is more in my opinion.  I generally place it anywhere water might catch, usually around bolts, in grooves, or on the ground, and in deep recesses, like below:

 

 

 In the pictures above, the wash is still not dry, but you’ll see the finished effect later.

Next I’ll paint everything else on the base and then add glue (I prefer wood glue as it’s thicker) wherever I want static grass to go.

 Then I’ll put the base in the bag that I keep my static grass in and cover it with static grass and press down a bit.  Then I pull it out and gently shake it off.  Even after that the base will look like a fuzzball exploded on it.

 

 

 

Poof!

After letting it sit for about an hour or so I use something like a pen or brush handle to knock off the remainder into the bag and then use a large dry brush to brush any static grass that wouldn’t come off away. In the end I’ll have something like this:

 

 

 

 

Much better

 Then I’ll clean up the edges of the bases with thinned down black paint and I’m done!

Done!

Next I’ll move my (usually) painted miniature to its new base and pin it to the base. Here’s how the bases look with my partially painted bloodgorgers on them. I’ve drilled holes in the bases and have pins in the bloodgorgers, but I won’t permanently attach them until I’ve at least painted the bloodgorgers feet/boots, legs, and tabards/loincloths.

See, don't they look much happier?Okay, maybe when I finish painting them, they'll be happy?

What kind of bits do you use more often than others?

Is there anything else you see a lot of that I missed?

Why do bloodgorgers have loincloths?

Are there any other basing articles that you’d like to see covered? 

Any questions?

Howdy! While I’m off galavanting, I’ve threatened Chris at sporkpoint again, and he’s worked on a doozy of a walkthrough. My bases tend to be under-enthusiastic. They’re there to keep the model propped up, and tie it to the scenery. Chris attacks bases from the other viewpoint – they’re just as much a part of the models as the weapon or cloak, or armor. This is the story about how he goes about making these masterpieces.

Not the flock I was thinking of...

Not the flock I was thinking of...

Hello again Happy Gamers! What? Not happy? You’re tired of your bases being boring green flock? What’s that you said? Yes, you in the corner. You never base!?! Oh…well, let’s see if I can let you guys & gals know what I do and maybe that will help get your miniatures based in something besides dust and superglue. In my last article I wrote about making time to paint your miniatures so that you can get them painted and on the table. For me that goes hand in hand with basing your miniatures. Even though I joked in the above paragraph about basing only in flock,

I think its better to have an all flocked base than nothing at all, it just looks better.    With just a little more effort you can add some ballast.  Ballast is small rocks that range from pebble sized to very fine sand sized.  A note about flock and ballast, one container will last you quite some time.   You can save yourself a bit of money by buying the larger containers that are usually carried at model train shops, though some other hobby or model stores carry the larger containers as well.  But even if you buy one of the smaller (say Games Workshop) brand flock or ballast, it will last you at least a few dozen miniatures worth of material.  Back to ballast, I buy a few different sizes and mix them together in a ziplock bag as shown below.

Mixed ballast

I use regular Elmers brand (white) glue to glue my ballast to the base that I’m working on.   But I’m starting to get a little ahead of myself.  But my point is that for basic basing ballast and flock work just fine and look much better than having nothing on your base at all.

Before I get into the rest of the article I want to say a few things – I almost always paint my miniatures and bases separately and then figure out how to get the miniatures onto the base, this probably goes against what you’ve been told in the past or on other sites and that’s fine, its just the way I prefer to do it.  The other thing is just please be safe with any tools that you use when creating your bases.

The emptyness! Noooooooooo!

For this article I’m going to base my unit of six bloodgorgers (which unfortunately are still not painted) that I started painting during our recently completed slow-grow league (which I’m going to write up in another article to come).  Below are the shamefully empty bases that we’re going to work from.

Thankfully they’re medium sized bases which will give me a decent amount of room to work with.  There are things you can do to give yourself a bit more room, some of which I’ll use in this article.

bits from my large bits box

 

 

As far as things that can be used for basing, the sky and your patience are pretty much the limit.  I’ve been keeping bits for years and so I have an advantage.

A word on what I’ll loosely refer to as “collecting” bits. Obviously leftover parts (otherwise known as bits/bitz) from models from your armies (we all have more than one, right? :P), but ask your friends for leftover bits they might have or even for old models they might want any longer.

Bits from one of my smaller bits boxes that I use most often

As a last resort you can go out and buy model kits (such as plastic skeletons) to save for later use as kits, which is fine if you have the money, but I like to try to make my gaming dollars stretch as far as I can. If you have access to old electrical equipment that you can safely tear apart, that can yield some interesting gears and bits as well.

I recently acquired some gears and springs from an old plastic date stamp that was going to go in the trash at work.  Do you recall I mentioned model train stores earlier, well they (and other model stores ) sometimes have parts from models left over that you can get for free or very cheap and sometimes if they have a bulletin board you can post a sign asking for free/leftover parts.  Drinking straws from juice boxes and the like will net you good sized “pipes” after being washed (always wash used straws).   Toys from yard/garage sales or children’s toys may yield you some gears, interesting parts, and whatnot.  Last but not least, a walk around your yard or neighborhood may yield some small sticks that are sometimes useable.

Light green plastic rod from GW’s Necron range, though you can sometimes find this in long rods at hobby shops, these are just leftover bits.

Speaking of hobby shops (such as Michaels), take a look around them and you can sometimes find hand inexpensive things to use such as these cake decoration things that I use as cattails:

 

I can tell you that I doubt I’ll ever use them all.  An example of how I used them is below:

So, nice to have, easy to use, and they were easy to paint.

 

Plaster cobblestones

These plaster cobblestone bases are nice to have and break easily.  They can also be sanded down with a file to make angled parts as well.  These were made using a mold from www.Hirstarts.com , mold #210.

These are the bits I’m thinking about using.  I may or may not use them all and may add something later.

selected bits

 I’m just going to show you the tools that I normally use and go over them briefly.

oOoOOH, spiffy!

As you can see, nothing special: various hand drills, hobby knife, regular snips, heavy snips, pliers, and small bolt cutters.  Okay, the bolt cutters are a little unusual, but I find them handy for cutting thick or hard metal wire or rod – basically, anything that’s too hard for the heavy snips to cut.

The next tool that I use almost every time I do any basing is the handy dandy hot glue gun.

Yes! Okay, not really.

I use a mini-glue gun as it has a finer tip and just generally takes up less space.  I’m on my third one as they only seem to last me about a year or so before the mechanism that feeds the glue sticks into the glue gun gives out.  Or maybe I should just stop buying them at Michaels?

The real deal – a cheapy from Michaels

And that’s it for this installment – stay tuned to your Plarzoid station for the next exciting installment of Mugu’s Madness!

Yeah, I don't know either...

There’s a little thing the Press Gang does every so often – the old swap and paint!

I was randomly assigned to paint for someone, and they’ve requested a Reeve Hunter!  The major stipulations on paint scheme was that the armor be blue (Exile Blue), and the metallic parts of the armor should be brass / gold.

I gotta say, having the scheme already picked out makes putting paint to model pretty easy.   There’s no second guessing – only painting.

Since I’ve just done some manhunters which were mostly leather and fur linings, the cloak and wolf pelt were done pretty quickly.  I followed the same scheme I used earlier – Rucksack Tan with Gryphonne Sepia.  The other leathery bits got the other leather treatment: Battlefield Brown with Ogryn Flesh.

 

The Grey bits are a nice coat of Foundation Adepticon Grey, washed with watered down Badab Black, drybrushed with the basecoat.

The head is again, a standard formula:  Tallarn Flesh washed with Gryphonne Sepia, highlighted with some Tallarn Flesh.  The scars were done the same way as on Hexeris – just some very carefully placed Red Ink.

 

 

This is one of the few Circle models I’ve ever painted, and I really enjoy it so far.  There’s all sorts of crazy details going on, and I think they look really good in earth tones (for obvious reasons).

I’m pretty sure this is some of the best leather I’ve ever painted.  I hope the recipient likes the model, and I hope it performs well on the tabletop!

Two weeks ago was the last week of our Slow Grow League.  In order to hit the 35pt T4 mark, I had to paint up a pair of Manhunters.  I’m really happy that there are two sculpts – both look fantastic, and have loads of personality.

The manhuntress is spring loaded and ready to go, while the Manhunter is basically mid-stride and about to lop off some heads.

When led by Yuri, they ignore forests completely, as well as any models or obstructions inside a forest.  Rawr!

With those two solos done, the army is done for 35pts.  I’ve submitted it to the Paint it Pink painting competition, and we’ll see how it does!

For now, enjoy the full army shot!

 

Don’t forget to check out Lost Hemisphere‘s Clash of the Titans, Entry #10 to see how the rest of the Titans are doing!