Wednesday 2 September 2015

Keeping things tidy

New brush stand!  Woo!

That's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday 1 September 2015

KUM Brushes

I've mentioned before about my fetish for the Cult Pens website.  This time I found they were selling a range of brushes from KUM, a stationery manufacturer I've always liked.  The brushes are claimed to be special because they hold their shape and are able to keep a point even when old, wet and abused.

I bought a size 1, 0 and 00.

The points are nice and sharp.

I've used them a little so far and I'm really impressed. Only a few quid per brush and 3 for 2 on my favourite site helps, of course, but I really like using them.  The other brushes I use are army painter, W&N series 7 (such a god deal - £1, £2 and £3 from the bargain bin at HobbyCraft, still in the plastic tubes and with the tip protectors) and the WAMP brushes from the recent kickstarter, and I have to say these are up there and holding their own so far.

Monday 31 August 2015

3D Printing

As a bit of an experiment, I've printed a piece of terrain I found on thingiverse. It's very Eldar.

I wanted to see how easy it would be to get it looking decent for the tabletop.

Here's the raw finish...

The material is translucent, which makes it harder to judge the quality without feeling it.  The vertical stripes are from the light coming through the material and aren't apparent in the surface texture.  What is affecting the surface is the layering of material, leading to a definite grain.

I've never tried liquid greenstuff, but I imagine it has similar applications to squadron putty, which is what I used.  This stuff is a bit noxious, but I really like working with it.  You can spatula it on thick, shape it, or pour lots of acetone on it and brush it on the model.  Or, as in this case, both. I made a thinish paste of it and brushed it on, then went over with a brush dipped in acetone to smooth it off a little. Here's my little dish of acetone and one of putty.  The acetone in the bottle comes from a larger one. It's actually Poundland nail-polish remover.

And here it is on the piece...

Once dry, I rubbed it all down with emery boards (Poundland again) and in the curves I used a piece of sanding paper wrapped around a paint bottle.

It looks nice and smooth, but I'll prime it soon and see.

Sunday 30 August 2015

My new favourite knife

I've always preferred a metal scalpel blade over the round-handled "x-acto" type. Maybe if I'd ever tried a good round-handled knife it would be different.  I've also never taken to using the knives with snap-off blades for hobbying. Until now.

I'm a big fan of Cult Pens and every so often I pick up a little bundle of pens and pencils.  Usually the ones on offer, or the cheap-but-interesting sort.  It's where my collection of small and disposable fountain pens came from.

Last time I was there, they were having an offer on knives by Olfa.  I bought the sharp-angled snap-off one, thinking it looked sturdy, with a steel body, and would be good for the tougher stuff.

When it came, I was surprised at how slim it was. It feels really well made and has a great mechanism.  The blade is moved by the black tab, as usual for this style, but rather than have a second tab for locking the blade, on this knife it's all within the slider and the blade only moves then you push or pull it due to some clever locking/unlocking mechanism.  You can feel the mechanism work and it gives a sensation of precision and sturdiness when it does.

The pocket clip is neat. I nearly just took it off as something to get in the way, but when I end up grabbing the knife for tasks away from my corner, it's been handy to be able to clip it to my shirt, or something near where I'm working.

It's now my favourite al-round knife. It's wickedly sharp, small enough to fit where I need it and it feels solid and controllable.

Deff Dredd progress

New legs are on!

The supports will be hidden by terrain and grass. I thought it better to keep the stiff wire supports rather than rely on the spindly legs.

I posted a WIP pic somewhere (reddit?) a while ago and someone said it was way too small.  I didn't realise until much later that it might look like a standard Kinder egg toy container. It's an Easter Kinder egg toy container.

Next: more panels, more dakka, fuel barrels, grot servicemen, cupola for a pilot/driver/captain on the top. 

Saturday 29 August 2015

More awesome from Spellcrow

I've seen a few third-party Eldar aegis defence lines, but the new one from Spellcrow is the best I've seen. Rather than energy fields, it's just an ornate wall of wraithbone.

I've ordered a couple of sets (two pieces, as above, in each) to make a reasonable wall. It should look good either as random terrain or as a placed defensive line.

While I was there, I also ordered a couple of their new "space elf" jetbikes.

I have four of the new model Eldar jetbikes, and one of the new warlocks on bike, plus many old jetbikes plus a farseer and two warlock I converted, so I probably won't use them as jetbikes. I intend to use them as hornets, which should be fun. I love flying Eldar.

Can't wait for them to arrive.  Now I have a permanent hobby space I have got a lot more done, so I'm not worried that these will stay untouched for long.

Monday 24 August 2015

Double lamp power!

I've been coveting other people's workspaces lately.  Now I have my own corner set up, I've been trying to optimise it and steal everyone else's good ideas. One thing I've seen more than once is a double-lamp setup in which two angle-poise lamps are used to make a kind of arch over the work area, angled slightly so the light is falling on the front of whatever is held in the sweet spot.

My own lighting was cobbled together from the spare lamps in the garage, but even with a whole array of spots and lamps, there were horrible shadowy patches and while working I was having to move the minis around to see them in better light.

No more! At Ikea on Sunday I picked up two lamps with clamps instead of bases (£8.50 each) and two daylight bulbs (£7 each). There might be better bulbs than the 5000K 600lm Ikea ones, but they work well enough for now and the whole thing cost just £31, which is fantastic.  I'll do some research and may replace them in the future but right now I'm really enjoying the nice bright and even lighting.

The arms are flexible and long enough that I've managed to put them at the extremes of the work surfaces and can still arrange them both to be over the painting area, airbrush booth, or the cutting/gluing table on the right.

Sunday 23 August 2015

The £5 airbrush

My airbrushes are cheap.  They came with the compressor and you can find them on their own for about £5 on e-bay. They clog often and are a bit temperamental, but so much better than having no airbrush at all. I haven't really done any detail work with them because I think it would be quite tricky, but for priming, putting down the main colours and adding zenithal lighting, they work pretty well.

Now I have my modelling corner, I can keep my airbrushes out. Which means I need a holder, since up until now I only had one out at a time and it lived in the cleaning pot holder when not in my hand. With both out and always ready, I could use them more and get more out of them.

I checked Amazon for a multi-airbrush holder and found a cheap one.  It then recommended the cheap range from Iwata, the Neo. "Cheap" here is around £50, which is ten times the value of my current brushes and a bit extravagant for a tool I use to prime and shade.

But I noticed that the page said that the price was for a pack of 10. I assumed it was an error, because you could pick to buy 10, 20 30 and so on, instead of 1, 2, 3...  And this would make them £5 each, which is clearly wrong.  So I did The Right Thing and contacted customer services.  Who, even after me explaining more than once that this must be a mistake, told me I would definitely get 10 airbrushes for just under £50. I just want to be clear on this. I explained very thoroughly.

The rep even said I should get it if it was such a good deal. So I bought it. If I got 10, I'd sell the others cheapish on e-bay and have a few extra models in my queue.  If I got a single one, I'd send it back.

I got one single airbrush in the post the next day.  I contacted Amazon and explained that even after me explaining the issue, they still didn't seem to have understood the problem.  They offered to send me a return slip, but I was a bit annoyed and said so.  Their answer was to honour the price (if not the quantity) that I would have paid for a single airbrush if things had gone as they promised.

And now I have a nice shiny airbrush for £5.  I used it for the first time last night and it was wonderful.  It was easy to clean, didn't get blocked, had a very smooth dual-action trigger that meant I had lots of control.

I just put some solid colour on my jetbikes and riders, did a few broad highlights and called it a night, but I will be trying some more detailed work this evening.

Sunday 16 August 2015

In which the number of excuses becomes smaller...

Progress on anything has been... patchy. Slow.  Intermittent.

I haven't had a work area for a long time. Not since child number 2 claimed the third bedroom. For work, this hasn't been much of a problem. I've switched to using a laptop and trying to be paperless.

But for painting it has been a disaster.  I claimed a small area of the conservatory a long time ago and packed all my stuff into it.  Tightly.  I then unpacked what I needed onto the dining-room table as I wanted to do something.  What this means is I need to have double (at least) motivation to work on something.  Not only do I need to feel awake and in the mood for some painting or modelling, but I also need to feel excited enough about it to unpack it all and put it back again at the end. Not only that, but as time has gone on, it has become harder and harder to find anything under the growing pile and the mounting disorganisation.

So, after spending weeks of my holiday decorating various parts of the house (including some art on the walls, which was fun) I expanded my territory in the conservatory and created a real workspace.  Everything I needed was already somewhere in the house and garage, it just needed putting together.  The desk is the one I finished my undergraduate project and PhD thesis at, the lamps have been in the shed for years, the drawers were taken out of my daughter's room last time I decorated it and put new furniture in for her. And so on.

It's glorious! Now, if I can manage an hour, I can spend that hour just painting. No need to set up the spray booth, untangle the compressor hoses, find my brushes from whichever shoe-box I left them in,

Let's see if this means I have more to write about, too.