Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Star Trek Heroclix... worth a quick touchup?

Recently I gave another player the advice that a quick wash/shade of the Star Trek heroclix figs improves their look and the level of visible detail and I realized that I had never actually done so with my own Trek clix figs that I picked up last year.  While I had done the same thing with some other clix figs like AVP and Marvel/DC ones, those examples were a few years ago and I figured I should update the blog with an example of the quick and dirty technique on the newer Star Trek figs.   My goal was to show what can be done quickly, easily, and relatively inexpensively by a player without any real experience with painting miniatures.  

I tried to choose a half dozen figs showcasing a variety of factions and colors.  The original prepainted figs are duplicates of the same sculpt/paint job as I didn't think of taking the before pics of the exact same figs; any minor deviations on the base paint scheme (like roving eyebrows on the red shirt!) are just paint errors from the clix factory.  And, yes, the red shirt that I touched up is indeed missing a hand as he came like that from the ebay auction.  I had a second one of the fig so figured it wasn't worth raising a stink with the seller with one defective fig out of 20+ in the lot.  Besides, it's a bit appropriate given he's a red shirt and nurse Chapel is nearby anyways to treat his wound.  :)   Here is the starting "before" pic:

The first step that I did was a quick wash of the main uniform color.  I used a dark flesh wash on the Klingon/Romulan and a light wash on the Andorian.  The Federation figs instead got (from L to R) a red wash, soft flesh, and blue wash on the uniforms.  Skin and hands then got the approrpriate wash as well (blue for the Andorian, soft flesh for the rest).  I didn't wait for the first wash to dry before applying the second as I was purposely trying to show what a quick, relatively no fuss novice technique could do.  About the only care that I took was to avoid excessive pooling in areas like eye sockets and splotches on big flat areas.   No fig got more than 30 seconds each in total of actual painting time/attention with both washes combined.

While I was happy with the added detail in folds of the uniforms as well as on the faces, the above obviously isn't a home run either.  Despite my (admittedly minor) efforts to prevent excessive pooling, there are still areas where the wash dried a bit too prominently for my tastes so I figured I'd try and see what adding a second quick dry brush step could do for the figs.  For this next pic, I basically just dry brushed whatever the closest color I had to the base color (red for red, light blue for blue, brass for brass/copper, etc)  even if it wasn't the exact same tone to pick out the raised areas a bit more.  I wasn't careful regarding how I applied this paint so areas like the starfleet delta uniform details are somewhat obliterated.  If you want to keep those details, I'd say use a traditional careful technique in that one same area instead of drybrushing.

For darker colored figs like the klingons, I don't think the technique has much utility as the only place that I see a difference on him is on the grey uniform top (similarly the helmet/face on the romulan).  I do think though that it does improve the lighter colored figures in the line for minimal effort.  It's obviously *NOT* the same thing as repainting them with care and detail nor is it perfect as some things are lost (uniform badges and the whites of the eyes) but overall I think it is a moderate improvement for minimal effort.  Including the washes drying, the set of figs above was completely done in about an hour (most of that time taken up with waiting for the washes to dry!) with no individual figure taking more than 2-3 minutes total for both steps combined in actual painting effort.

Here is an animated comparison of the three steps in succession on the two figs that I think it had the greatest impact on.  As always, feel free to let me know what you think and whether or not the quick wash and/or dry brush is worth the effort (or if it is even an improvement in the first place!).

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The eyes... the eyes! Aging in the hobby...

After posting my latest Winged Hussar pics online, I got an unprecedented amount of feedback on the model and unfortunately alot of it was negative specifically regarding the eyes.  From replies entirely consisting of the first part of the title of this post to multiple animated gifs of googley eyes and melting faces, the response took me back a bit as I actually made a concerted effort to paint them with this final model.  In the past, I basically just applied a flesh was to the eye sockets and just left it as is.
I did something similar initially with this model but later decided to add in some pupils.  The results were not pretty so I decided that for the first time in over 15 years that I'd try to paint the eyes completely.
It's been a while since I last tried and I had to admit that those intervening decades have taken their toll.  Whereas things like first receding then greying hair and increasing weight with decreasing muscle mass are impossible signs of aging for me to ignore, it hadn't really affected my hobby directly (or at least I hadn't admitted it yet).  Unfortunately, I've noticed that over the past year or two that my vision has been steadily worsening (I don't need glasses just yet but likely will eventually) and I was having trouble making out smaller details on the models.  I'd think that my paint job was good and then cringe at mistakes evident in the mega-zoomed in pics that I'd post here.  Since I was putting in the extra effort, I decided to get myself some granny magnifying reading glasses to better see the details as well as finally improve the lighting in the basement where I typically paint as well as buying the smallest technical pens in both white and black that I could find to help with the painting.  While far from perfect (too much whites and the asymmetric left iris), I was happy with the results at least at arms length.  The general response though was vastly different though.
The above was probalby the best result that I got after repainting the area a half dozen times.  After getting feedback on the above, I've done another couple of attempts to fix it with only slightly better results but I'm worried about obliterating the detail on the face if I try again.  I toyed with the idea of ripping the head off, stripping it, and restarting from scratch but the results really aren't noticeable at arms length (or even 12" away with my granny glasses) and I think I'll just take the advice given on how to improve it and use it on the next model (likely the upcoming Sister of Battle recently previewed by GW).   Regardless, since I was working on it again, I decided to fix the eagle decal that slid up a bit on the shin as well as a few other paint splotches that I missed previously.

For better or worse, that's probably the best that I'll be able to accomplish going forward with the hobby.  Looking at the pic, I swear that the dark recess wash goes all the way around the shoulder pad in person but I'll have to double check (and correct that if need be) when I get home tonight.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Lt. Amulius Completed (Primaris WInged Hussar Conversion)

Well, I've completely finished my first Winged Hussar Primaris marine!  I've been working on various marines over the past year as part of that extended project but I never decided on a basing scheme so they were never technically 100% finished on their naked black bases.  The Lieutenant Amulius model comes with a texted base as part of the model so I couldn't procrastinate my way past this model like I did with the others.

I tried to consciously do a better job with this model as I don't currently have plans to make any further Winged Hussars at the moment since I'm running short of bits as well as sculpts that inspire me (although I reserve the right to add more in the future!).  I was frankly embarrased at some of my efforts in the past year (especially the faces) so I tried to better catch mistakes before it was too late.  I'll expand on that in the next post as I don't want to add a mini rant on aging in the hobby with this post.  With this model, I took close up pictures after my initial painting and first wash steps to improve on tiny spill over painting mistakes.  Just looking at the animated gif above, I missed a few of them (one that I can correct at least on the backpack) but I think the model shows some moderate improvement compared with my previous efforts.  I resized the image above for animation but here are the full static views below.

There are things that looking at the images after the fact could have been improved upon though.  I'm not entirely happy with the Polish eagle decal placement on the leg but it was a last minute and fiddly change as it initially was placed on the knee instead.  Unfortunately due to the curvature, I couldn't get it to sit right even with a strategic cut and some decal softener so had to remove (and ruin) that decal with a second one placed below.  It looks like it rode up a bit (or perhaps I just didn't see the placement correctly with my vision... more on that in my next blog post) higher than I would have liked but whats done is done.  There are a few other paint missteps that are visible zoomed in (one or two of which I can correct but not all) as well.  As always, feel free to comment/criticize below.