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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Starting out. part IV

And we are back. The snow has melted. Its raining again. And we are having a normal Pacific North West winter. If you think that 30-39 days of continuous precipitation is normal. For my sanity's sake as well as timely updates. I hope that we get some breaks in the weather. Fun fact: the area where I live was once a part of the largest temperate rain forest in the world..
But you are more interested in this installment of the blog. So here we go.

Previously on 'A brush, a paint and a mini': I typed about not being able to give you a proper update with good pictures. Before that i covered the assembly and posing of what I assume is your very own Juggernaut miniature. And after a long wait here is a nice update with pictures to boot.

And now for the post.
Special thanks to Cat , for agreeing to help with the pictures for the blog. That and all of the questions, the answers to which become the content of this blog. Remember, I am trying to make things easy for the beginners to enjoy the hobby as well as share my experience and tips that I have picked up through out the years. Some of it is useful to even the grizzled and haggard veterans of the table top miniatures hobby. Everyone likes to have a well painted army. Or at least one that looks good.
Here is Cat:
Cat and Denegra,
 She looks a bit different since her encounter with Denni. I can't quite figure out why though.
So then we move on to the meat and tubers portion of the post. And as per the precedent set in blogs past, a brief intro to the tools used along with what are hopefully witty warnings.
As there will be a brief recap on cleaning we will be needing the help of our trusty and dangerous friend the hobby knife:
Did my previous warnings about this tool sink in yet? I am serious, even a dull blade can cause deep cuts. You should always use a sharp blade. This is because an individual is always more careful around sharp pieces of metal and sharp blades cut easily through the material you are working with.
Next we have our trusty Clippers.
Warning!: These are a pinch hazard. That and anything you clip off with them may fly in a random direction at a surprisingly high velocity. Use caution and preferably eye protection. Your eyes will thank you.
Then there are the files. These are, like a hobby knife, the mainstay of a hobby work area's organization chart. very useful for smoothing out mold lines and feeds as well as removing unwanted details. And as I will cover in future posts, shaving/ filing a part down for a better fit.
They may not look like much, but files will save you hours and blades. If Steel cut files aren't doing the job for ya, consider getting some diamond tipped/coated files. They have a coarser cut, but are better at removing a lot of material. If you need a finer cut/ polish, may I suggest a fine grit sand paper in the 200+ range.  There are no known warnings for these tools.... yet.
I call it blu-tack. Its a non-permanent adhesive putty. .

 And we have another familiar, though not as celebrated friend. The sticky tack. This really is the unsung hero of our hobby. Honest. I have yet to hear any songs about it. Or even read the lyrics of songs, and i have been around people who will sing about anything.

Wow its almost 6am.
And its time to see some new tools. Yay? Today is the first time that I will type about using the Pin Vice. I bet you were wondering when this was going to come up. The Pin Vice is the equivalent to a rock star in the hobby world. A good Pin Vice, it is claimed by some, can make the difference between a good conversion and a bad assembly. I personally find it very useful for some very mundane tasks. And today I will cover one of them.

Now that the Pin vice has been mentioned. I will Bring up the Primer. Probably what you have been waiting for. Primer is important since it adheres to metal and plastic (well good primer does), and it provides a base with the surface area for paint to stick to. The type of primer that I chose is a formula for automotive use. I will explain later. There is much to cover.
Ah almost forgot. Warning!!!: Primer contains some very toxic solvents. Use in a well ventilated area. Preferably outdoors. Spray away from yourself and take breaks between sprays. I suggest wearing a respirator if you can get one. The solvents, and possibly propellant, may cause damage to the following systems: Brain, heart, liver, lungs, kidneys. Do not inhale for the fun of it. Do not eat!
Moving on.

Since we already assembled the Juggernaut I will give you a brief recap using the Destroyer. If you purchased a different starter box. No worries, we have you covered as most of what applies here applies to the other boxes.
In the picture above you can see the red arrows pointing to where the feeds where attached to the parts. removing this leftover material is best done with our trusty Hobby knife. So long as you take care to keep it from removing bits off of you.
Illustrating my point about bloodthirsty knives.
Here the red arrows are kind enough to point to the mold lines and associated flash. Flash is extra material left over from the casting process. This is because, in this case, the plastic is liquid that is either injected into a mold or poured in to a centrifugal mold and sun at a high rpm. either process leads to some of the liquid to leak between the parts of the mold before hardening. The best way to remove it, is by carefully cutting it off with your sharp knife.
After all of that cutting some parts may need a little bit of extra polish. that is where the files come in. just don't press too hard on them. Now you are probably wondering which file is best for the job. To answer that i will have to call your attention to the shapes of the files themselves. Files with broad flat surfaces are best used for flat or convex surfaces. The more rounded files fit better into the convex areas. The thin squarish and round needle files are best for some of the tighter areas where a wider file may not fit. Its a judgment call really. If you need to clean them, just press them into a kneaded chunk of sticky tack.
And Just as we did with the Juggernaut its time to do a bit of posing. This step isn't necessary, but its fun to play around with the poses.
That said, in this post I will be covering the two different methods of priming models. I have used both methodologies and will cover both. First lets chat about them. One method of prepping a model is to clean off all of the flash, scrape off any material that the knife missed with a file. Pose the model and then glue it together. As I may have mentioned before, this is helpful as when you are painting the model you will have a better idea where the shadows and highlights go. The downside is that, where the shadows go its hard for you to reach with a brush (though not impossible) and the same applies for primer. This translates into extra effort on your part.
And since our Juggernaut/ unspecified Warjack of your choice is assembled and ready. Lets prep it for primer. This is a simple process. Well I think it is. First you will need to have either some brass rod or paperclips handy. Then, you will need to take one and push it into a block of sticky tack. This is for safety as I have had way too many things fly around my work area.
Pressing a paper clip into the blu-tack.

Next is time for the clippers. Holding onto the "loose" end of what in my case is a paperclip. I gently squeeze the handles of the clippers until the blades cuts through the metal. the same applies if you are using brass rod. I can't tell you how many times I have seen a length of brass rod shoot across the room barely missing people. Invariably the question arises. How long should the pin be? Well for our purposes about an inch should do. For those of us who grew up on metric: 2.5cm
its always important to get a grip on both sides of the brass rod/paper clip as you are about to cut it
This leaves you with a piece of paper clip/ brass rod in your hand and another sticking out of your sticky tack.

Ok, so in the picture above I have two. We need to get a better picture of the cutting process. So what next? And how does the pin vice fit into this? I am glad that you asked, because its time to get your pin vice. Did you get it? Good. Don't worry this post will be still here if you need to run to your local hobby store to buy one or wait for it to be delivered after ordering it online.
Do you have it now? Good. Next we have to drill a hole in to the foot of the Juggernaut so as to glue the pin to it. We will need to make sure that there is a snug fit and so we have to match the drill bit, yes its a drill bit, to the pin's width like so:

The drill bit should be only slightly wider than the pin you will be using. from a distance they will appear to be the same width/ diameter. Once you have found the right bit for the job secure it in the pin vice and you are ready to drill a hole.
I prefer to drill into the part of the foot that has the most material. Usually this can lead you to drill deep into the leg on some models. It was not the case here, but that's ok as Plastic models are lighter and don't need as much structural support. We need the pin so that we can attach the model to something that will act like a handle during both the application of primer and paint. afterward you can remove the pin. Or use it to attach your model to a custom base. I will cover custom bases in a later tutorial.

Once the hole has been drilled. It is time to insert the pin. Simply take your pin, test fit into the hole and see how far it goes. Once you get a sense of that, take your bottle of super glue and apply a little bit to the part of the pin that will go into the hole. A little bit of super glue goes a long way. A lot, sticks your fingers to the model and possibly the table.

It wasn't that hard, was it? Now that you have the pin glued to the foot, it's time to find a suitable object to act as a handle. Most pro painters advise the use of wine corks. This is mostly as a matter of convenience. Most of them are old enough to buy wine, or beverages that are distributed in glass bottles topped with a cork. The material is soft and spongy, so it is easy to push a pin into it. And yet it can support the weight of even a metal version of our Juggernaut. I should know I have tried it.
Not all of us have bottle corks on hand at all times, however. As one does not tend to keep them for long. no worries. You just need something suitably similar. In my case I used what was once a test mold that I had made out of RTV silicone. You may want to use an eraser that you have no particular use for. Or the core tube from a roll of toilet paper. Please do not throw away good toilet paper to get the core.

This is Sorcha. She is the warcaster that came with the starter box. As her sculpt is fairly straight forward I decided to assemble her before priming. with smaller models it sometimes makes sense to assemble and attach to the base before priming. For her handle I decided to use the cap form an old glue bottle that i had lying around. but first I need some putty to make her stick...
And the sticky tack comes to the rescue. And after a minute of kneading. I push the tack on to the cap.

Now I take Sorcha and press her base onto the cap with the sticky tack sandwiched between them.

Well that seemed easy. And now we prime. Of course you should probably wash your models with hot soapy water and leave them to dry. Drying time takes about 24hrs just to be on the safe side. It may take longer depending on the ambient temperature and humidity. 50-60F should do nicely. So then we can prime? Yes. but first a little prep. I recommend finding a nice and well ventilated place to do this step. Primer fumes are not good for you, and they are a flammable. So you should be away from any open flames or sources of sparks. You will also want to be outside, as this stuff smell s bad and will make you feel ill if you spray it indoors. In other words: Don't inhale the vapors/ fumes. Found a place? Good. Miniatures dry? Excellent.

Made you look. Muahahaha

What's the glove for? I put on a pair of cheap rubber gloves so that i don't have to wash primer from my hands. You don't have to, but after you spend an hour trying to wash primer off of your hands you will see the wisdom of wearing gloves.
Do not try this at home. We used Photoshop.

<==== The WRONG way to use your primer.

That's right. Spray the miniatures.

The Right way to use primer! =======>

So now that you have attached your miniature to something that you can hold, you are ready to spray some primer. A note of warning. Aerosol or spray primer contains some toxic solvents and you would do well to limit your exposure to them. for this reason I apply primer in short bursts. That also serve to give me greater control over how much primer gets applied to a given area of the model.

This is after one or two short sprays of primer. Spraying primer in short burst or sprays will give you more control over how much primer goes on which parts of the model. Doing this will slowly reveal the areas where the spray has a hart time getting to and allows you to adapt accordingly.
The red arrows point to the trouble spots or recesses where the primer spray has yet to get to. Don't worry, and take your time. At this stage, you only need to spray little by little to cover as much of the model as possible.

Here is Sorcha and the Juggernaut. They aren't ready yet, as I will need to give them one more coat just to make sure that hey are fully primed. After that it will take about three days for the primer to cure. longer if it the winter temperatures remain below 40F.
A quick note on the primer that I use. First it is an automotive primer. The brand is Duplicolor by Krylon. this is a US brand and as such I am only aware of where to look for it in the US. I f you want to save yourself some time but are willing to pay a little extra go buy the P3 primer. I can't tell you what the actual formula is or who makes it, but I have been informed by some very reliable sources that it works just as well. I trust my source enough to say that. I will however try a can to see how it compares.
So now lets check on the other method for priming models. The un-assembled way. This is a fairly straight forward method. You clean your pieces just like the juggernaut . Except that instead of assembling it you just cover the contact areas with tape. The contact areas are the parts of the model that will be glued together. Its where you will be applying glue.
TIP!: I once made the mistake of priming plastic models with out covering the contact areas. This resulted in me having to spend hours scraping primer and gummed plastic cement off of those areas so that the new layer of plastic cement could activate and bond the pieces together.
 The above picture illustrates what I mean. Sure you can scrape off the primer with a knife later, but for a little bit of tape now. You can save yourself quite a lot of grief later. Its much easier to peel off tape than to scrape primer.
One major advantage to this method is that you can eliminate most of the primer shadows. Or areas where primer is blocked from reaching, say the torso by the arm. And if you put the parts in a decent sized box you can actually cause the spray to circulate inside reaching areas that you couldn't spray directly. Also its nice to be able to set it all down and spray.
This is what it looks like after a few short sprays. I will have to flip them so that I can get the other side. Aside from having to flip the pieces. The major drawback to this method is that you will have to glue assemble the model after you prime it and you will be tempted to base coat it before assembly. Not a bad idea, but i will cover that painting later.
All in all which method you choose is up to you. for the most part you are only limited by the mood that suits you at the time. Some models may necessitate to them fully assembled. And a few will be best primed in pieces. but that is up to you.

 Tune in next time for the base coat. When I will be discussing basic color choices, the color scheme I chose, indispensable paints, brushes and what matte medium is.

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