Thursday, July 22, 2021

The Process Part Eight: Photography

I am not a photography expert at all, but I have come up with a decent process for photographing completed miniatures. I try to get as accurate an image as I can: no tricks, no hiding flaws. I don't want any of my clients to get a nasty surprise when they unpack their figures, and I don't want any blog viewers to have an inaccurate idea of what is possible with 15mm (or smaller!) miniatures.


My photography lighting is the same Ott Light I use for painting. A single sheet of folded printer paper is my only backdrop. I bought a Nikon Coolpix L120 back in 2012. It's simple enough for me to figure out, and it takes excellent photos. I set the white balance manually, and I keep the ISO at 100. This results in very slow shutter speed, so I use the timer feature along with a small tripod to keep the camera steady.







I use a free photo editor, IrfanView, to crop and resize the raw images. I keep a copy of each image on my hard drive, sorted into folders by commission. This, along with my written notes, allows me to match colors if a client wants additions to their forces.





I upload the cropped images into another editor, Picasa 3, for fine tuning. I adjust the fill light, highlights, and shadows until the image matches the colors I see on my desk.


 

Once the photography is complete, I make my blog post and alert my client. Hey John, there are more pictures of your troops!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

The Process Part Seven: Flags and Basing

Once the figures are painted, I affix flags, base, and flock them.

I almost always use GMB Design's flags. The quality is consistently excellent, and Graeme is a pleasure to deal with.


The Tools: clean cutting surface, metal straight edge, sharp hobby knife



GMB has little cutting guides, making precision cutting easy.

These flags have narrow white borders.




I use a little Glue-All to affix the flag to its staff. I let this dry for about five minutes.



Once the glue has become gummy, but has not completely set, I use toothpicks to create ripples in the flag. The first bend is parallel to the flag pole, and each subsequent bend becomes more horizontal.



Sprue cutters clip off any excess pole.



I always paint the edges of the flags so that the white paper does not show. These flags only need a spot of red where the flag meets the pole.



A little bit of gold on the tip, and my painting is done.



I am not sure what type of ink Graeme uses, but it sometimes fogs under a lacquer spray, so I assume it is mineral oil soluble. To keep it from fogging, I brush on this water based varnish.



I go through a lot of bases, so I find that prepping a few hundred at a time is a good idea. I use a scrap piece of lumber, blue painter's tape, and a flat brown enamel spray paint.


The enamel paint adheres well to the base sides, but its most important function is to create an impermeable barrier for the water based glue wash.



I always let the enamel dry outdoors for a few hours. If I move too fast, the bases stay gummy.




Here are 105 bases ready for troops. 




In a commission with many variety of uniform, I will usually label each base by troop type.



I remove all the troops from their painting sticks and sort them by like poses. I find Elmer's Glue-All works very well to secure the figures to their bases. Because it is water soluble, rebasing only requires an overnight soak in a baking pan filled with water.




The Glue-All must set for at least 12 hours. After it is ready, I start the flocking. My dirt is Woodland Scenics Fine Brown Ballast.




The cheaper hobby acrylics contain more binder than pigment, which makes them slow drying. I use a medium sized brush to paint the entire base.



A quick swirl in the ballast is all they really need. I use my finger to wipe off the sides of the base.




Once the dirt is on all the bases, I apply a glue wash to the entire base. It's roughly one part Glue-All to five parts tap water.



This glue wash also needs to dry overnight. It dries hard, and as long as the enamel spray paint covered the entire base, the water will not warp the wood. This dirt will not fall off from casual handling of the figures. You have to put some real effort into taking any off.




I have a variety of turf that I use for different periods, seasons, and scales. The default is Gale Force 9's static grass. It looks great, and it's very easy to work with. I am not sure what they do differently, but the other brands feel coarser to the touch.


I use undiluted Glue-All and apply it in spots. I try to break up the sides of each figure's individual base.



I make a quick swirl in the static grass. Sometimes I will apply a little pressure with my fingertips to tamp the grass onto the base.



Once the figures are done, I let the glue dry for a few hours.




The last step involves sealing the figures. I have used a variety of techniques over the years, but the tried and true method is an application of Testor's Dullcote on a warm day.

 

I will have one more post in this series. Check in tomorrow!

Friday, July 16, 2021

The Process Part Six: Detail Painting and Highlighting

As I wrote in the last post, block painting always seems to take the longest. Highlighting seems to go much more quickly. I don't know if it's completely psychological, but I do know that I enjoy this stage much more. Block painting those 468 figures took nearly two months. Detailing and highlighting these 78 Young Guard Voltiguers took only three days.

I start with Vallejo's "Old Gold" on the chin scales, shako crests, cartridge box crest, sword hilt, sabre-briquet scabbard stop, and jacket buttons.





The single most demanding color is white. I use Delta Ceramcoat's "Oyster White."




The epaulets, sword knots, cuffs, collars, and turnbacks get some bright highlights. The colors are Delta Ceramcoat's "Opaque Yellow" and "Medium Foliage Green" and Vallejo's "Flat Red."




I mix together DecoArt's "Prussian Blue" and "True Blue" for the jacket highlight. Delta Ceramcoat's "Cadet Grey" highlights the greatcoat roll and "Toffee Brown" highlights the bayonet scabbards.




The last highlight is Delta Ceramcoat's "Medium Flesh" on faces and hands. I finish by carefully examining each figure and touching up any over painting. All 78 figures are now ready for basing.


The next post will be about affixing flags and basing the two battalions.
 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Process Part Five: Block Painting

Block painting my basic colors is always the most time consuming part of the process. Everything has to be neat and tidy, so I take my time here and do it right.



Delta Ceramcoat Ginger Spice for faces and ears




DecoArt Prussian Blue for coats



Delta Ceramcoat Antique Gold for Voltiguer collars




Delta Ceramcoat Brown Iron Oxide for scabbards, facings, and turnbacks




DecoArt Lamp Black for sabriques and shakos




Delta Ceramcoat Brown Iron Oxide for shako crest and chin scales




DecoArt Zinc for overcoats




Vallejo Oily Steel for musket bands, locks, and barrels




Delta Ceramcoat Autumn Brown for musket stocks



Delta Ceramcoat Mudstone for straps, lapels, breeches, shako cords



Delta Ceramcoat Ginger Spice for hands



Delta Ceramcoat Dark foliage green for shoulder straps and epaulettes




DecoArt Lamp Black for gaiters and shoes



All 468 figures ready for highlights

 

Tomorrow I will start in on the detail painting and highlights.