Base Stamps

I’ve thought a lot about basing. Themed bases look great but when a theme clashes, either with an opposing army or with the terrain, the effect is somewhat spoiled. The classic flock or more contemporary classic rubble bases are fine, if a little uninspiring.

For a while I thought about clear plastic bases and even bought some. But, over time, I expect they’ll get dirty or scratched and the effect will be lost. Also, they would be difficult to attach models too without the glue being obvious. Models that are modeled standing on themed elements (looking at you every HQ choice) have the original problem of clashing with their surroundings.

Also, there is the issue of magnets. Many people use magnetized trays as storage for their miniatures. In a previous post I mentioned using Tupperware to store miniatures. Eventually, when the bases are done, I’d like to add steel washers to the bottom of each base. I could then line the inside of the Tupperware lid with magnetic tape.

So, why not choose a theme and make my own? There are some great tutorials out there and products like textured plasticard give some excellent results. I’ve thought a lot about it and I’ve decided to go with Green Stuff and base stamps.

basius

Wargamesbakery has a range of products they call Basius. Essentially it’s a terrain stamp cast negatively. You press Green Stuff onto a base, wait an hour, then press the slightly cured Green Stuff into the stamp. This gives you the ability to create as many sculpted bases as you want. With a largeish stamp you’ll also have plenty of variety.

sanctuary

For my Sauroters I’ve chosen the Sanctuary base stamp. I am imagining it as a kind of Fortress Monastery theme. I’ll paint the stone in a weathered grey. I am planning to create all the bases at the same time in order to get a consistent look. A nice feature of this stamp is the stairs. This will allow me to mount the miniatures with their feet up on something more securely and still keep to my theme.

For the Genestealer Cult I am thinking of going with an underhive theme. The patriarch comes on a pretty elaborate pipe element. I’d like to do a bunch of weathering on it and then carry that theme through the rest of the bases. I think a monastery theme would compliment that pretty well.

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Paints

Vallejo Metal Color.jpg
Image from Amazon.com

One of the more important and expensive choices for the hobbyist is what kind of paints to buy. Back in the day I had some GW paints. I disliked the white rubber tops. I found that the hinge tended to break and the lids became encrusted with dried paint. When I got back into the hobby I discovered that they weren’t the only game in town.

The majority of my paints come from the Vallejo range. I really like the dropper bottles. Not only do they contain more paint than the GW pots, there is less wastage. I can control how much paint I put on my palette easily. For the same reason it’s easier to mix paints too. Also, the dropper design exposes less of the paint to the air, keeping the bottles cleaner and the paint viscous.

Initially I bought a small number of paints. I wanted to be able to paint a full range of colors but not have to buy too much up front. I started with some vauge notion of being able to mix colors from the primaries and did some research. The best guide I found was on theback40k. That site recommended the following as a good (GW) starter set:

  • Blood Red
  • Blazing Orange
  • Sunburst Yellow
  • Snot Green
  • Ice Blue (a light cyan)
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Liche Purple
  • Warlock Purple

Also black and white. I simply used a conversion chart and bought the Vallejo equivalents. I can honestly say that this was a great starter set. But what to add next? Here is what I suggest:

  • Metallics
  • Browns
  • Greys

I quickly added some metallics to my collection, although for smaller scales like 15mm, I’ve read that non-metallic metallics are better. Using grey for steel and yellow for gold etc. I bought the Vallejo Model Air set. It contains:

  • Silver
  • Steel
  • Gold
  • Bright Brass
  • Copper
  • Blue Metal
  • Gun Metal
  • Black Metal

The quality is great although I do recommend using medium rather than water if you want to dilute them. Although, they are very thin paints so you shouldn’t need to thin them much. I really like the Bright Brass and Black Metal colors. I have used them extensively on the Sauroters project.

As for browns and greys, they are just really useful. Especially browns. Used as undercoats they give a lot of variety to the same colors. The greys help you to desaturate colors. This can be aceived with black and white but having greys make consistent mixing easier.

Washes are great too. I’ve heard them described as liquid talent. They certainly help a lot. Black and brown are all you need to start with. You can use other products like oil paint or woodstain to wash miniatures but if you are a beginner I’d recommend acrylic washes.

I also like glazes. They stay on top of a surface, contrary to washes which seep into the recesses. Glazes help blend colors together giving a smoother overall blend. They are not essential but are very useful. It’s worth getting say a green glaze, if you are painting a lot of highlights on a smooth surface, say power armour. Not worth getting if you are a complete beginner. Stick with the washes.

I have tried some of the GW Technical paints. Specifically the Martian earth paint and Lhamian Medium. They are a lot of fun but I don’t have much use for them at present. I may get some if I have a particular project I want then for in the future. Again, probably not worth it for the beginner.

All in all, for the beginner I’d recommend the 10 paint starter set above with a black wash, a brown wash and a steel, bronze and gold metallic. That should cost about 50 Euro in total. Not cheap by any means but about as reasonable as it’s going to get. You should be able to paint just about anything with it.

When I was researching about paints I spent a lot of time thinking about agitators (e.g. the little steel ball in rattle cans). Eventually I settled on glass beads. Once you start using up the paint they become very effective. The sound is also oddly satisfying.

Daiso

daiso

Daiso is a chain store in Japan. One of the various 100¥ shops that are ubiquitous here. While you certainly get what you pay for, the quality is decent enough and they have everything under one roof. When I got back into the hobby I was able to get everything I needed quickly and cheaply. Perfect for someone who doesn’t want to spend a lot, or not sure if they want to yet.

So, what exactly did I get? Well, all the basics:

  • Paintbrushes
  • Glass jars
  • Hobby knife
  • Hobby pliers
  • Hobby files
  • Cutting mat
  • Hand drills
  • Super glue
  • Rattle cans of paint for priming
  • Rattle cans of varnish
  • Plastic baggies
  • Ziploc bags
  • Storage boxes

This meant that the only specialist items I needed were plastic cement and paint. As I learned a little more about painting and modelling I was able to pick up a few more useful items from the same shop:

  • Sanding sticks
  • Makeup sponges
  • Tweezers
  • Masking tape
  • Sheets of cork (for basing)
  • Sandpaper (for urban bases)

A year in I would still buy any of those things, bar a couple, again. I think it’s worth paying for a quality varnish spray, I use Tamiya. I also use Tamiya’s grey primer. It’s better quality than a general purpose rattle can, but the ordinary stuff is perfectly acceptable. The drills were fine but investing in a good quality hobby drill like the GW drill, or an electric drill is a good idea. You also need a good quality hobby knife, I use OLFA brand knives. Other than that, why pay more?

So what’s next? Well, I would like to get a razor saw and mitre box. I would like to build some terrain at some point and I am sure they would come in handy. I’d also like a razor saw for converting. At the moment I use a hobby knife and I just can’t get good straight cuts with it.

Motivation

mr-motivator
A missing Primarch?

How do you stay motivated? Personally a combination of progress and results seems to do the trick for me. Recently I had a real dip in motivation. To the extent that I considered giving up on the whole Sauroters project. I’m not sure why really and it seemed to come out of the blue. That got me thinking.

I tend to do batch painting. I find it quite satisfying as well as a more efficient use of time. I have noticed however, that there is a definite limit to how big batches can be. I have tried painting 10 man squads in batches. I find it takes most of a day to finish. Towards the end it starts to feel like a bit of a chore, rather than a hobby and I tend to make decisions or mistakes that end up reducing my satisfaction with the result.

I also find painting large areas of flat colour very tedious. Consequently, I tend to rush and apply the paint to thickly. Again, this effects the end result. A good example was the Proteus Pattern II missile launchers. They have a deceptively large surface area and I found painting five took a lot longer than I expected. I was really trying to just finish the last couple, add a wash and call it a day. When I came back the next day, to do the highlights, I found the finish was patchy and I had missed some spots altogether.

Although, to date I have completed over thirty Space Marines, only 10 of them are Sauroters. Plus, I am not intending to include that squad in my Demi Company, mainly because they are not quite up to the standard that I want. This means that I haven’t made much progress towards my goal. I think this was responsible for the dip in my motivation.

My current feeling is that the painting I have done up to now was really just learning how to model, paint, convert etc. I am now ready to complete the project to a standard I am happy with. So, I’m feeling motivated again. I think in my personal case there seems to be a sudden hump to get over in any of the projects I do. Once I push through it I’m fine again.

Due to the sudden fall of Sterling I have been able to order most of what I need in one go. From various ebay sellers I have ordered 2 Betrayal at Calth sprues, 1 Burning of Prospero Sprue and one box of five Assault Marines. That gives me enough models to create 1 10 man Devastator Squad, three Tactical Squads and one Assault Squad. I also have a Librarian, a Tech Marine and an Apothecary. I want to replace my Chaplain and add a Captain.

The plan is to clip everything of the sprues and clean them up. Then assemble everything into sub assemblies and prime them all together. Then I’ll batch paint everything in groups of five until they’re all done. Rather than batch paint models I’ll batch  paint elements. I’ll do all the backpacks, then helmets, then weapons etc. That way I should be able to get a really consistent look and stay motivated. Personally doing a bunch of backpacks isn’t boring as long as I’m making progress and the finish is good. I’m really looking forward to it.

Scatter Terrain

scatter-terrain

This is some scatter terrain I made for the Frost & Fists  Terrain on the Cheap Challenge*. The challenge was to build a piece of terrain for less than a dollar. From watching a lot of MiniWarGaming.com battle reports, scatter terrain seems to be a really important part of their set ups. It’s also a bit less time consuming. I intend to do some large terrain pieces but after the Sauroters project is completed.

*Update I came in second place which is great. You can see the entries here.*

The original idea came from a video by Ichiban Painting. You can see it here. The challenge seemed to be a really good opportunity to try the hairspray chipping technique. The terrain is made from the gates you get on your Forgeworld models. The ‘rebar’ is made from paperclips. The signs are made from plasticard with rivets made by applying superglue with a cocktail stick. The decals came from the Ultramarines transfer sheet.

The hairpspray method works surprisingly well. I’d like to try it again, maybe with multiple layers. It is also much, much easier applying decals to a flat surface. The ‘rivets’ built up with superglue worked Ok. Next time I’ll build up a few layers. It might be a good option for vehicle rivets, although I have seen a couple of alternatives that look likely.

Hobby Drills

I really enjoy the modelling part of the hobby. Almost as much as painting. Converting models also helps me to achieve the WYSIWYG theme that I find really satisfying. It can be as simple as drilling out barrels. As involved as magnetizing multiple weapon options or as practical as magnetizing parts for easy storage. A good drill makes all the difference.

The first (set) of drills I bought was from a shop that sells all kinds of cheap household goods. They were Ok for the price. Especially as I didn’t want to invest a lot of money in a hobby up front. I found them a little difficult to use and I subsequently ruined a lot of bolter barrels. So many in fact I actually had to purchase loose bolters from an ebay seller to complete my first Tactical Squad box set. They tended to bend when used and were not sharp enough to really bite into the material.

DRILL
Image from: Games Workshop

I then upgraded to a Games Workshop Hobby Drill. The quality was much higher and I was able to get better results. I really like the finish on this tool too. The only problem was that it took a relatively long time to drill, especially if I was constantly changing the drill bits.

I decided to get an electric drill. After a bit of research I learned that bigger is not necessarily better (ahem). If the drill has high torque (spins fast) this can melt plastic. Also, there are a bewildering variety of drills available. Dremels seemed especially popular. I found their website pretty unhelpful though. It seemed a little limited and it was difficult to compare models.

One day, I was killing time in a shop called Tokyu Hands. Each store is a little different. The Shinjuku store has a lot of good hobby stuff. They happened to have several hobby drills. I chose one with variable speed and I also picked up a set of hobby drill bits. It included sanding disks, cutting disks etc. It was very cheap at under 3000¥ all in.

[photo]

The drill is actually more of a kind of hand router intended for light engraving. Glass and such. It’s powerful enough for plastic and resin without being overpowered. It’s not particularly robust but won’t be seeing any hard use. It has a couple of nice features like a dial for speed giving a lot of fine control. It has a decent sized cable with a plug and socket in the middle that should come apart if I snag the wire on something. The drill bits are easy to change too, although it took me far longer than it should have to work out how (thank you to the wife for that one).

It came in a soft case which, while certainly utilitarian, was not particularly well fitting or elegant. So I store it in Tuppaware. It probably shouldn’t give me so much pleasure but having it neatly stored in a plastic box that matches my other plastic boxes does. That probably means I am some kind of serial killer.

The drill has allowed me to attempt more elaborate conversions. The most useful drill bit so far has been the flat bottom drill bit. Because the bottom of the hole is flat and not rounded, magnets sit a lot better in the hole and you don’t need to drill as deep. This is particularly useful when magnetizing arms to hollow bodies.

I have learned a few things:

  • Start my making a small guide hole with something sharp
  • Start smaller than you want and work up
  • Use a low rpm and work up if needed
  • Ball ended bits are the best for removing a lot of material
  • Drill bits can jump around a bit initially if you futz, so be bold
  • Resin kicks up a lot of dust, so wear a mask
  • I wear glasses, but if I didn’t, I would definately wear safety glasses

Getting Organized

One of the problems with a hobby is preventing it from taking over everything. I prefer things to be put away when not in use, which can be a challenge when you are working on a project. I also like to paint sub-assemblies, so a model will be in pieces until it’s finished. I have a few ways of keeping everything clean, organized and out of sight.

Books, clothes, gadgets, all of these things tend to accumulate. I find the best way to deal with clutter is to set a limit and be ruthless about throwing things away. In general I don’t own a lot of stuff. I use a kind of modular plastic box system for storage, like this:

STORAGE
The only thing I’d save from a fire.

My hobby stuff including paints, glues, rattle cans, tools etc. are all kept in one of these cubes. I also try to keep these boxes no more than 60% full; otherwise it becomes difficult to find things and the boxes are too heavy to move easily. When I am finished painting or modelling for the day everything is put away. I find a lack of clutter really helps to reduce general stress.

I really think this is a key point. There is an aphorism: relaxing isn’t doing nothing. It’s doing something you enjoy. I enjoy the hobby because it’s a relaxing way to be creative and I take satisfaction in seeing my skills improve. For me, if my hobby stuff wasn’t organized, it would just become a source of irritation and the enjoyment would be lost.

Due to my limited space I haven’t been buying things like the Betrayal at Calth Boxset. Although I will probably buy 30 marines, I simply don’t want the Terminators, characters or Dreadnaught. I suppose I could sell them but I’d still have to store them in the meantime and I’d almost certainly be shipping overseas as I live in Asia. So, I tend to buy from ebay.

Buying sprues tends to leave you with a lot of extra parts. They tend to come in handy so I don’t want to throw them away. They are small parts so storage isn’t a problem. However, it can be difficult to find things over even keep track of what you have. I tend to group things by type and store them in ‘baggies’. They come in a variety of sizes, are cheap and can be labeled easily. Everything then goes into a bag like this:

ZIPLOC
My bits box.

I find these bags also good for storing assembly instructions and decals. I live in a humid climate so keeping moisture out of the decal sheets is important. These are useful for storage in general. When I travel I put my clothes etc. into ziploc bags. It makes packing and unpacking much easier and also speeds up bag checking at customs. I also don’t have to worry about anything getting wet or dirty during transit.

Although I’ve said I put everything away, I’m going to contradict myself. When I’m batch painting, everything gets put away at the end of a session. But, when I’m working on a single miniature I’ll generally keep it out. When I’m painting I tend to mount my miniatures on a used deodorant stick with poster tack:

GATSBY
The only intersection of hobby and personal hygiene.

One of several YouTube Channels I like is IDICBeer. His videos are often shot on his work area. He covers projects he’s working on with an empty ice cream box to keep off the dust and prevent accidents. I like the idea and ice cream, but I don’t have a dedicated work area. So I usually just cover the mounted miniature with a baggie. I often have sub assembles glued to wooden skewers, stuck into a small block of polystyrene. The benefit of that is that you can seal the bags around the sticks and put them away without worrying about chipping, braking or losing anything.

As my collection of finished miniatures grows, I have a bit of a conundrum. How to store them? I want to be able to take them in and out easily, but also protect them from damage. I may also want to transport them to games in the future. This is what I’ve come up with:

TUPPAWARE
Battlefoam for sandwiches

The idea is to use them upside down. I won’t be pinning my miniatures to their bases, so I’ll glue a washer to the underside of each base and put some magnet tape inside the lid of the box. Tuppaware comes in a variety of sizes so I’ll be able to find one to fit any kind of squad. They are also stackable, which will make storage really easy.