Jodrell’s Guide to Perfect Decals

Decals (or transfers, or whatever you want to call them) can, when done properly, bring a lot to a miniature. But for whatever reason, following the instructions that come with them is guaranteed to result in a really crap result that looks awful.

By process of trial and error (mostly error) I have worked out what I think is the best way to add decals to your miniatures. For anyone who’s built a model kit or wargaming miniature and been really pleased with the paint job, only to have it ruined by crappily finished decals, here’s my guide to doing them right, enhanced by my laughably amateurish diagrams.

Read more “Jodrell’s Guide to Perfect Decals”

Citadel Finecast, First Impressions

Imhotek

Here’s the first FineCast miniature that I’ve assembled and painted. I recently took my step-daughter and her friend to one of my local GW stores for one of their “hobby tutorial” sessions (which was actually great fun) and we each bought a miniature to paint after. The kids both got Huron Blackheart and I got this, Imhotek the Stormlord.

Overall, I’m not especially impressed with Finecast: of the three miniatures, mine was the only one that didn’t have major gaps left by bubbles in the mould. Imhotek’s staff was quite badly warped (although that’s easy enough to fix), but the absurd number of injection sprues meant that getting the model off the frame was pretty risky, and I ended up breaking off his thumb, which I promptly lost, and had to replace with a piece of sprue. His foot also broke off and I had to reinforce it by adding some cork pieces to the base (which actually turned out quite well).

I was probably foolish in believing what I’d been told about being able to paint directly onto the resin: when the kids tried this with their miniatures, the paint refused to adhere and I had to give them a quick blast from a spray can to prime them.

Here’s a few more pictures of the finished Overlord. I think I am going to avoid Finecast miniatures whenever possible, and stick to metal miniatures if I can: thankfully a lot of the stuff that’s now Finecast only is still available on eBay.

I’m still pretty impressed by the new Necron stuff. I bought a box of Immortals/Deathmarks and these plastic minis are pretty fantastic.

Quick tip: future-proof your bases

It’s been a while since my last post. After a few weeks of very pleasant weather, which made it possible for me to undercoat and varnish a huge pile of stuff, the Traditional English Summer has put in an appearance and it’s been raining for the last few weekends, so I haven’t had much to show off.

I wanted to share a quick tip which might make your life easier in the future: I have decided to rebase all my 40K scale Necrons, as I wasn’t happy with the appearance of the basing material I was using (a very coarse saw dust). I quickly realised that this would be a particularly tough challenge for my plastic Necron warriors.

I was a scale model maker before I was a war gamer, so for as long as I can remember, I’ve always used polystyrene cement (specifically Revell’s professional liquid poly) for assembling plastic miniatures. As I understand it, a lot of miniature hobbyists use superglue instead, but using polystyrene cement welds the plastic parts together, meaning that you can shave and file the join down until it’s invisible.

So naturally, when assembling my Necron warriors, I used liquid poly to glue them to their base. I’ve now realised that if I’d used superglue instead, it would have made the job of rebasing much easier.

So: always superglue plastic miniatures to their bases, even if their bases are also plastic! Here endeth the lesson.

Taking Better Photos

Until last year I was able to take reasonably good photos of my miniatures because my painting station was right next to a south-facing window, allowing for plenty of natural daylight, which offers the best conditions for taking miniatures with my simple point-and-shoot digital camera.

But last year I moved my painting station into my newly refurbished basement, so now all I had was a 35 watt halogen bulb to take pictures by. Hence the darkness of some of my recent photos.

To rectify this, I spent some money on eBay and Amazon and bought a couple of 100 watt daylight bulbs (for about ¬£3) and a fold-up photo tent (about a tenner). I’m pretty pleased with the results: here are some photos of my infamous warmonger titan. These have come straight off the camera, with no post-processing at all:

Letem Eminus (Ruin From Afar): Warmonger Titan of the Legio Pantera (Black Panthers Legion)
Letem Eminus (Ruin From Afar): Warmonger Titan of the Legio Pantera (Black Panthers Legion)
Letem Eminus (Ruin From Afar): Warmonger Titan of the Legio Pantera (Black Panthers Legion)
Letem Eminus (Ruin From Afar): Warmonger Titan of the Legio Pantera (Black Panthers Legion)
Letem Eminus (Ruin From Afar): Warmonger Titan of the Legio Pantera (Black Panthers Legion)
Letem Eminus (Ruin From Afar): Warmonger Titan of the Legio Pantera (Black Panthers Legion)
Letem Eminus (Ruin From Afar): Warmonger Titan of the Legio Pantera (Black Panthers Legion)
Letem Eminus (Ruin From Afar): Warmonger Titan of the Legio Pantera (Black Panthers Legion)

Here’s the set-up:

My photo tent
My photo tent

Building a Building

I’ve been working on kitbashing some 15mm scale buildings for use with my recently painted Critical Mass Games miniatures. I’m using the excellent Urban Mammoth Platform Builder: it’s so versatile that you can build almost anything you can think of. Here’s my first attempt:
15mm building made from the Urban Mammoth Platform Builder

15mm building made from the Urban Mammoth Platform Builder

15mm building made from the Urban Mammoth Platform Builder

At £12 for 13 sprues (which would be enough to make several buildings like the one above, the Large Platform Builder box is great value. I will definitely be buying more!

Inside a miniatures factory

I guess most hobbyists have a theoretical knowledge of how miniatures are made: someone sculpts a master or “green”, from which a mould is then made, and miniatures are cast from metal, resin or plastic using the mould (sometimes spun in a centrifuge, or pressurised to get rid of bubbles). But until just now I’d never seen what a miniatures production line looks like.

Here are some pictures from Purple Pawn‘s visit to Iron Wind Metals, manufacturers of BattleTech miniatures (among others):

Inside Iron Wind Metals
Inside Iron Wind Metals

More pics here (scroll down to about 1/4 from the top of the page).

Hobbyist fail, Dettol win!

Last year I posted about a test Necron warrior I painted, to see how easily I could make the process a “production line”, to get my planned 40K Necron army painted as quickly as possible. My plan was to use Plasti-cote silver spray, followed by Citadel ink washes (click on the link to see the results).

The experiment was a success (I can get the amount of time required to paint an individual miniature down to about 45 minutes), but also a failure (note the “last year” at the beginning of this post!). However, I have now finished my first squad of Necron warriors, and a Necron Lord:

It’s not all good news, unfortunately. I built three Necron destroyers, but managed to screw up the spray coat of silver: either I didn’t shake the can enough, or the air was too wet, but whatever the reason, the destroyers came up covered in a thick blobby coat of silver, and looked awful.

Necron destroyer
Necron destroyer

So based on recommendations from my friend Mark, I performed an experiment: I gave one of the models a week-long dip in Dettol (a British household detergent):

Dettol bath!
Dettol bath!

After a wash and scrub with an old toothbrush, the final result was an – almost – stripped model:

Stripped destroyer
Stripped destroyer

There is still a silvery coating on top of the bare plastic, but the lumpy crud has gone, and it should be good for another coat, and painting.