Saturday, July 30, 2011

Daves back... now with the awesome power of bleach

Yes.  Bleach.
So my 'real' job is 3d artists, as you may know, and this month has been crazy busy crunch time.  Result- no miniatures stuff, but my bank account is healthier (in theory- freelancers tend to get paid months after work).

Today showed a little chance to get something done, so I decided to tackle the most urgent problems in my collection- bloom.
Bloom begets leadrot which begets, well, lead poisoning and angst as your classic mini crumbles like a Skeksis Emperor sitting on the Something Wicked This Way Comes merry go round.

The solution is alkali.  Lead+ acid = sugar of lead = leadrot.  Alkali neutralises the acid.  Yay Alkali.  Up until now I have been using bicarb, but someone on some forum somewhere suggested bleach.  Turns out, its pretty darn strong alkali, and pretty darn good at cleaning up minis!

Harpic bleach gel.  The result, 24 hours soaking later
A soak overnight in some thinned bleach and the figures turned from ash grey to murky brown.  Wearing gloves, I brushed this with a soft copper brush and it came up dazzling shiney.  Not minted new shiney, but the sort of shiney that gives you confidence that the figure is risk free, and certainly a nice painting surface.  Take a butchers hook at these three...

FS7-1 Naked Girl Bound Hand and Foot, FA11-2 Illusionist
FS22-2 Victim hanging from Gibbet.  Bases detailed in procreate.
They are some of the earliest citadel figures, and as you can see are nice and shiny now, awaiting a tickle from the hairy stick.  I just love how politically incorrect the range was then, from stoned druids though to one legged bondage babes.  Oh and look, not a skull in sight. Though I was too young for miniatures when these originally came out, as I have collected citadel figures I have been drawn more and more to the very beginnings and now find myself with baggies full of spacefarers, fantasy adventure and fiend factory figures.  I think because they where 'anything goes' and the citadel clichés had yet to be established makes these figures stand out from the throng, plus the delight in getting an old, cruddy looking thing and trying to make it stand up to modern standards.

Anyway, bleach gets my tick of approval and joins in ever increasing box of foul smelling bottles in my tool kit.

I am looking forward to some free time soon, I have to finish up a bunch of sculpts and I am back to painting things then blogging them... yay!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Enamels: Seriously oldschool

The moment I opened the bottle of mineral turpentine I was transported back to 1986. My bedroom at the farm where I grew up, with it's seventies carpet and rainbow patterned walls left behind from when my sister owned the room.
That smell was the smell of early miniature painting. Sure, Citadel had released a range of acrylics at that stage, but all the back issues of White Dwarf and Heroes for Wargames all talked about enamels. John Blanche and Aly Morrison both swore by them, though both admitted to using anything that would go on a brush- including nail polish.
Mineral turps. Mmmm.

My resin base project slowed when I found resin leeching through my acrylic paint- turning it to mush. Obviously I needed to let the plastic set longer, but time is precious and I want my bases now! Plus, as I was cash short this week from eBay Kung Fu, buying black resin was off the menu. So how would I get stable, chip resistant paint on my gaming bases?
It hit me like, well, the smell of mineral turps. Enamels are bulletproof.
If you strip minis, you will be familliar with dunked enamel. Kids using newsagent quality brushes as thick as a licorice stick to apply humbrol the thickness of whipped cream to some poor unsuspecting mini. Tough stuff indeed.
Enamel seemed like the solution. So off I popped for a tin of matte black humbrol and a bottle of turps.

The smell of turps reminded me of so much- a metallic blue chaos warrior I painted- a minotaur and.. Fraser Gray. I remembered the reason I got into enamels in the first place. Fraser is, unquestionably, the father of smooth blended clean style mini painting. How did he do it? Enamels, mentioned an article (I think it was in fantasy miniatures). Back then I tried to emulate this using John Blanches instructions but failed to get Frasers amazing results. I wrecked brushes and a couple of chaos hounds. Back then I did not know of Dettol, so paint strippers where the only way to remove paint. It barely worked, so the dogs went into the failed pile.
Fraser Grey Art- enamels never looked so good.

I remembered this in the midst of the fumey daze and decided to try again now my painting skills are a little more mature. Fortunately I had some white and grey lurking in my paint box from art school and by Jove it was still fresh!


I applied a grey base coat to a paranoia troubleshooter, let it dry, then applied a thinned, fresh coat with a fine brush. This time, I know brush flow control, and tapped off the excess paint onto a paper towel. Then, using thinned white and black I worked in some shading, and washed my brush out in turps. Then tapping off the turps, danced the brush over the area to blend in the shading.

Did I say wow? I meant WOW!
I nailed it- A perfect smooth blend ala Fraser Gray. My inner child jumped for joy (though, looking back, it could have been dinner).

I actually enjoyed painting in enamels! That really surprised me.

Going to grab some more colors tomorrow if I can- try getting that brilliant Orc and Chaos Dwarf skin effect he used, and the matte blues and reds I need for the troubleshooter with laser.

Anyone else use enamels here?