Undercoating for Beginners

Whilst feverishly undercoating my Deathwatch army the other day two things struck me. The first was I was using a method taught to me by a bloke called Andy when I first began working for Games Workshop back in 2000.

The other was that occurred to me that not everyone necessarily knew how to properly undercoat their models.

As a couple of my friends are relatively new to the hobby and have only just begun painting their armies I thought it a good opportunity to pass on some long earned wisdom.

Whilst, arguably, there’s no right or wrong way to undercoat your models there is definitely prep and ‘best practise’ to help the unwary hobbyists along the way.

This guide is based around undercoating models black but the considerations are broadly the same whatever colour you’re using.

Step 1. Preparation

Be under no illusions, undercoating does not hide all sins. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Mould lines are far more prominent once the model has been undercoated than before so make sure you’ve been thorough when building your toys.

If mould lines don’t bother you chances are they will because they’re also a pain in the arse to paint over as well. Do yourself a favour, invest in some decent files and clean them off. It’s a couple of extra minutes per average size model and it’s well worth it.

Also be sure that any filings or other detritus is removed from the model. This can include dust if your models have been sat out for a while, or basing materials if they’ve been sat in a figure case or cabinet with a completed models.

If you’re spraying models that have been ‘dipped and stripped’ make sure that the stripping agent has been thoroughly washed off and the model is fully dry. Spray paint does not like oil and water. At all.

Step 2. Looking after your Spray

I use Games Workshop’s undercoat but I’ve also used Army Painter and I’ve found this to be true of all spray paint, regardless of colour: store your cans at room temperature.

Storing your spray paint in the garage or the shed will only spell doom and misery because the when the cans get cold the paint and propellant don’t mix properly which causes ‘chalking’ to occur on the models. It’s relatively easy to put right but (a) it’s a waste of paint (b) it’s a waste of time and (c) you’re a twat for doing it in the first place.

Step 3. Where to Spray

Personally, I couldn’t give two shits where you spray as long as you’re not vandalising someone else’s property or gassing yourself.

Spray paint is not good stuff to breathe in so make sure it’s a very well ventilated area.

As I rule I always spray outside, on top of a bin so I’m not having to crouch down. Granted this means that I can be at the mercy of the elements but better that than shaving days off my life by spraying in a poorly ventilated garage.

Step 4. How to Spray

This is where it gets a little subjective but personally I lay the models down and spray them in halves.

Make sure whatever you lay your models on is sturdy, easily movable and untreated. A cardboard mail order box is perfect. A product box lid isn’t ideal because the paint sits on the treated cardboard rather than being absorbed.

This can mean the paint can pool slightly underneath the model making them stick and can cause the box to tear when you lift the models clear. If you only have a box lid to use I recommend giving it a light spray to take the sheen off.

Lay as many models as you can on the box because any paint that isn’t going on a model is paint that’s being wasted. That said, make sure none of the models are touching otherwise the models will stick and you won’t get an even covering.

 

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As you can probably tell, this box is more paint than cardboard.

 

Before you start, shake the can well. Different brands mix at different rates. Army Painter spray has a bonkers amount of pigment in relation to propellant so whilst it doesn’t need as much shaking as GW’s, take the time anyway. The last thing you want is a bad mix.

By using short, controlled bursts in a sweeping action this allows for a smooth and even layer of paint on the model.

Rotate the box (hence using something a little substantial) so you can apply an even coat of paint to the front, top, bottom and sides of the model.

This is where placing your models on something reasonably high, is advantageous because you have more control over where the paint goes.

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When spraying make sure you keep the can a reasonable distance from the model. Most instructions will say eight inches, I’d say eight inches gives better coverage without compromising quality and detail.

Unfortunately, trial and error plays a part when learning to spray. You’ll quickly learn what’s too close and what constitutes a smooth sweeping action and what doesn’t…

4.1 Wobbly Models

The best and worst thing about modern models is they’re all dynamically posed marvels of sculpting genius.

It’s brilliant because the models are awesome, but it can make spraying models a tricky because they don’t have an even purchase when laid down.

Keep any model you think is likely to roll over once you start spraying towards the inside of the box. Give it some extra space so if it does roll over it won’t hit (and stick to) any other models.

Ultimately though, you’re better off positioning the model for stability as whilst you may not get brilliant coverage on the first coat, you will on the reverse side.

4.2 Leaving Your Models to Dry

Whether you’re letting them dry after the first spray or the second, where you leave you’re models is as important as where you choose to spray them.

If you’re spraying on a warm sunny day then leaving them outside is an obvious decision. However, summer days can bring with them dust, pollen and other airborne objects that can stick to the wet paint on your models.

If you do leave them outside to dry, make sure they’re shielded from the elements.

At the other end of the spectrum, leaving your models anywhere that’s cold and damp is likely to cause chalking as if the can was too cold. This again makes sheds and garages a less than ideal place.

A moderately insulated utility room works well and avoids pissing off wives, husbands, parents etc with the smell of the paint.

4.2 Finishing the Job

Once the paint is touch dry, flip the models and repeat the process.

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You won’t need to use as much paint on the reverse of the model so expect it to be finished in short order. Don’t worry about going over the sides of the model again. Providing you stick to short bursts all you’ll do is even up the coat and give you a smooth finish.

Give the models enough time to dry then you’re done.

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To Sand or Not to Sand

I’ve been asked by more than a few hobbyists over the years whether or not they should sand their models before they spray.

Both have their merits.

Spraying a model before sanding helps the glue take better and gives you greater versatility in how you paint it. Un-sprayed (if that’s a thing) sand can be inked/washed/shaded. Sprayed sand can’t.

The big advantage of spraying sand is that it seals it making it way more durable which is no bad thing. Just remember, you’ll have to paint the sand which can affect the finish. So whichever option you choose, stick to it.

 

Concrete City Base Tutorial

So time for another tutorial! I was looking around and saw loads of different base tutorials but I could never find a good fairly simple one for concrete/city bases! So I thought id have a bash myself and these are the results. As with all of my tutorials I will try to keep the materials readily available and make the process fairly easy!

The materials you will need:

1. Oven Bake Clay (I use Super Sculpey Original personally)

2. Sand

3. Your bases

4. 1 Small Plasticard sheet(optional)

5. Black Primer Spray

6. Dark Grey and Light Grey paints

7. Yellow and White Paint(optional)

8. Toothbrush (this is optional but make sure its a spare one!)

9. An Oven

10. A little bit of Flour and a Rolling Pin

11. PVA Glue

12. Scissors

13. Super Glue

A little information on the oven bake clay first. I use Super Sculpey personally and the best way to describe this product if you’ve never heard of it is that its like plasticine in consistency. You can work the clay as much as you like and when you are happy you bake it in the oven to make it go hard.

Getting Started

You need to work the clay in your hands until it comes a little more workable, make sure you’ve got a good palm sized ball, when you’ve worked the clay and its a nice ball you want to take the flour and dust your worktop. When you have dusted the worktop take your rolling-pin and roll out the clay until it’s about 1mm in thickness, the flour is so that when your turn the clay or try to pick it up it wont stick to the side and tear.

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Now when you have done this you want to put it in the oven. The time and temperature you bake the clay at will vary on the brand you use. For Super Sculpey its 130C and 15 minutes for every 6mm so I baked my sheets for 6-7 minutes, while the sheets baked a took the time to make multiple sheets

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The sheets will be hot when they come out of the oven so take great care when handling them, they will also be slightly malleable still as well so I chose to lightly apply a rolling pin again to smooth out any curls.

Next step is to take the sand bases and PVA and stick the sand to the bases do a full coverage on the top of the bases, most of this will be covered later but its best to cover the whole base like so.

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Now you’ll need to wait for these to dry or if you are impatient like me bake the bases on a very very low temperature in the oven, I use the very first heat setting if you do this too high you will melt the bases so be careful!

Hitting the Road

Now when everything is dry and cool you want to take the sheets of hardened clay and break off a base sized piece and use your scissors to trim the piece to size but putting in jagged lines and nipping at the sides to give a broken look. To vary the bases up gently take your scissors and cut the piece in half in an uneven pattern, gently do this and remember where you cut as you’ll want to glue these pieces next to each other in the base like so…

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Now you’ll be able to feel the texture of the clay and you will notice its not entirely smooth which will give us a nice textured finish, when the glue has dried then spray all the bases with your black primer making sure you get a full coverage.

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Its time to start applying paint now so take your darker grey and cover all the edges of the clay including all the sand areas, you can apply this however you want I used an airbrush personally for the short amount of time it takes.

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Next we want to take our lighter grey and apply it to the centre of the clay sections again I did this with an airbrush but you could do the same with a sponge or by drybrushing the colour on, this will give us a two toned look and make the bases start to pop a little and not seem so flat.

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As you can see the bases now look a little more alive and natural if you want you can stop here but lets take things a little further and make them a bit more vibrant so we want to take our small plasticard sheet and cut out some road marking shapes I cut out a long section and some smaller ones to act as road markings as you can see this will make a stencil to apply over our bases with the coloured paint

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Now take the stencil and apply you paint through the stencil gently as if you use too much you will get run offs and smudges on to your bases, once you’ve done this wait for the paint to dry and use the toothbrush to scrub the colours to give the lines a more distressed and worn look

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That’s all there is too it! you can leave the edges of the bases grey to tie in with the top or paint them black for a little more definition, i paint mine as I have all my base edges black, and here is a picture of what they look like with models on.

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I hope you liked the guide and thanks again for reading!

Mark / LemonPainting

 

Flames Tutorial

For my first article as resident painting bloke, I thought it would be best to do a tutorial on how I did the flames on my Imperial Knights! I took these to Throne of Skulls in March and I was lucky enough so be selected as one of the best looking eight armies. Below is the picture of my four knights for the purposes of this tutorial we will focus on the traditional flame colours. This tutorial can be applied to a range of different colours as you can see by the lead green knight.

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Okay so all the pictures below are done with the top plate as this will give us a nice surface to play around with the technique.

The tools you will need for achieving this are:

1. Airbrush and Compressor

2.Black Primer (for the initial basecoat)

3. 1 Plasticard sheet

4. Scissors

5. A dark grey colour, light grey colour, white, red, yellow and finally orange (personally I use a mixture of Vallejo and Minitaire paints).

So the plasticard and the scissors are the first pieces you will need to cut out two templates. One template must be cut into a wave and the other cut into tear drops of different sizes as seen below.

You can buy templates like this online but it’s just as easy to make your own, the plasticard will swell after time but you can just make new ones by doing it this way. I did all four knights with this set and they just about need replacing.

Now we want to start with your dark grey colour and we need to position the template with the rounded section at the very base of the front of the base plate. Set your compressor to around 25 psi as this will give you more control as we need to go around the edge of the template. Keep the template still and carefully go around the edges aim for just inside the template then if you accidentally spray more paint it wont be too bad! Keep moving around the piece until you get an effect such as this.

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While you’ve got this colour in the airbrush go over all the pieces in a similar fashion you want to have this effect on.

Next comes the wave piece we cut out, we want to use this piece to give our original pattern a bit more of a flowing feel so go to the edges and pull the grey back in as we shall see in the next picture.

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Now after we’ve done this we need to go back to our original template and get the lighter grey and we want to edge highlight our original pattern. Now, the key is to try to not to overlap the original darker grey too much. Try and keep this quite fine but don’t worry about doing it absolutely everywhere. You should get a finish similar to this…..

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At this point you might be losing a little bit of faith that we are heading in the right direction but fear not were about to start bringing the panel to life! Granted it doesn’t look much look a flame at the minute so let’s add some red. Personally I use Vallejo Scarlet Red here and you want to put a thin layer over the whole piece. If you put too much of a coat on here you will obscure our hard work so far so remember keep it light and go for multiple coats if you need to.

So lets add that red colour:

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So the first red coat is on and it’s looking a bit more flamey. As we’ve tried using the templates once already so let’s do it again. Add the light grey again using our teardrop template and our wave template. Don’t worry about the positioning just put it wherever you like just like the first layer.

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Don’t worry about covering your hard work so far as we are about to take it to another level! Now it’s time to use our orange colour and again like we did with the red we want to apply a thin coat over the whole piece again.

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Now were getting somewhere! The flames are starting to pop now. Don’t worry about the shine the paint will give the piece as we can add a Matt Varnish here later on to protect our hard work and to dull the shine, personally I use Army Painter Matt Varnish.

For the next step we want to use our white and very carefully add some highlights to our orange section. As you can see on the right hand side I got a bit trigger happy and put far too much white down. We can quickly solve this by just repeating the above steps though. Don’t add too much white as we don’t want too much showing through so a similar amount to what I added in my next photo and you will be fine. Of course all tastes are different so don’t take my guide as gospel experiment your self and see what happens.

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I like to use the wave template at an angle roughly 45 degrees and spray a very fine coat near your highlights at this stage it looks like we’ve ruined it slightly but the steps are really simple so you can just redo them if you don’t like the results.

After the white highlights we need to take our final colour which is yellow and again like the red and orange add a thin layer all over the piece to achieve a finish like this.

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So as we can see I wasn’t happy with the excess white so I re-sprayed it black and started again this only took a few minutes to do another new layer. As the layers are really thin with an airbrush you don’t have to worry about clogging the detail too much.

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Have a play around to get a finish you like, if you think the yellow is too bright then use the light grey again instead of the white as this will give it more of a subtle look.

One last picture is one of the knights in the cabinet on the second day of Throne to give you a complete look at the finished model. When you add all the pieces together you will then get more of a striking model. This technique can be used on all sorts of models.

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I hope you enjoyed my first article and I hope you found this article informative. Don’t be scared to give this a go as you can see each step is quite simple but gives a completely different finish.

Thanks for reading,

– Mark

How to make a Mycetic Spore

Those clever buggers over at Warp Forged Miniatures have done a brilliant tutorial on how to make your own Mycetic Spore, so thought I’d share. And a taster for something awesome that they’re working on in the background. But mum’s the word on that for the time being…

Ichiban Painting – How to Paint a Nebula

Tip top #warmonger and friend of The Shell Case, Hugo of Ichiban Painting, has done a brilliant video on how to recreate the truly awesome nebula style paint scheme he did on the belly of his Eldar fighter.

It requires an airbrush so if, like me, you require adult supervision before being allowed to handle such devices this tutorial may not be for you. Fucking cool though…