Sunday, January 29, 2017

The X-Men's Smurf

After impersonating the Incredible Hulk and destroying my Drakhun, I went ahead and started on my X-men because, well, you can only play videogames for just so long before your guilt forces you to pick up a paintbrush and try to push that rock back up that grey plastic and soft metal mountain (hobbyist know what I'm talking about).

I started with Cyclops because I figured he would be a good model to practice painting gradients on (the way I accidentally stumbled onto with Batman) since, well, I hate him. A lot. So I'm actually kind of conflicted about the fact that I think he came out looking pretty good.

The model was fairly easy to put together; his left arm was a separate piece but I decided not to bother with gap filling, and it looks OK. There was of course some cleaning involved, but I don't remember it being too bad; the model is largely smooth, so it wasn't too hard to clean off mold lines and such like.

Similarly, it was quite easy to paint. The blue was basecoated in GW's Regal Blue, washed with GW's Asurmen Blue, then drybrushed in Regal Blue again to better show the topography. The first highlight was in GW's Enchanted Blue, and the second was in GW's Ice Blue. The highlights were thinned to something like a 2:2:1 mix of Lahmian Medium : Phoenix Acrylic Retard Medium : paint. I was trying to get something very transparent that would flow well. Unfortunately, even with the drying retarder, the consistancy changed as I was working (my wet palette was actually not wet enough I think), which led to some difficulties, but I was mostly able to fix them.

However, my repairs were not perfect because of a strange property of Enchanted Blue. I love the colour of Enchanted Blue, but for some reason when you thin it, it actually changes colour a little, becoming less saturated once dry (this is an actual change that doesn't seem to depend on how many layers you put down: the colour is just different). I've actually given it the saturation back in the past by lightly drybrushing the unthinned paint on top of the painted layer, but in this case I only drybrushed on top of the trouble areas while trying to fix them. As a result, there's a couple of spots on the model which stand out a bit because the colour is different, most noticeably the right thigh and... surrounding areas. It's quite annoying (and, to be honest, embarrassing).

Anyway, once I finished the highlighting I decided that the Ice Blue was too desaturated and it didn't look very good, so I wanted to glaze it with something a little saturated to tie the colours together. I settled on my brand new, unused Badger Miniataire Ghost Tint: Blue, mixed with a lot of Lahmian Medium (perhaps 2:1 medium:paint) because I was afraid it would be too strong straight out of the bottle. The result was a big improvement, helping to unify the layers and smooth the transitions.

The gold was GW Skrag Brown (I think) followed by Scale75 Elven Gold. The arm and leg bands were then washed with GW Orgryn Flesh and edge-highlighted with a mix of Elven Gold and Scale75 Speed Metal. The skin was undercoated in GW Bronzed Flesh, basecoated in P3 Ryn Flesh, then washed with Ogryn Flesh. Ryn Flesh is pretty much the exact same colour as GW Elf Flesh, but I tend to have having trouble getting a smooth surface with Elf Flesh, I was hoping Ryn Flesh would go on a bit smoother. I haven't really tested it enough to say if it does, but it looks good so far.

I decided to switch to a more neutral grey for the base; I used GW Codex Grey (I think, the name has worn off the bottle), lightly drybrushed with VMC White Grey, then washed with GW Badab Black. Speaking of the bases, normally cut the tab off models and pin them to their base, but with the latest batch of Knight Models I had decided to try actually using the models with the slot in the base as intended. This is the first time I noticed something: there's only one cast. All the Knight Models bases are exactly the same. I hadn't realised this before because I had been sculpting over the hole and then orienting the models freely, but now that I was sticking them all down the same way it became dramatically obvious that they are all standing on the exact same patch of dirt.

It's just one more way that Knight Models is getting on my nerves, just one more hassle you have to go through with these figures, one more problem for inexperienced modelers. I have to assume they don't really expect you to actually use the supplied bases or something? Since these are apparently figures for experienced modelers (as evidenced by how big a pain they are to put together sometimes), I guess they just assume you've got your own fancy bases you're planning to use. Either that or they just don't care.

Anyway, I ended up sculpting over a fairly large area of the X-Men's bases to try to hide the similarities. Maybe I'll just give in and stop using the supplied bases, I'll just have to figure out an alternative that fits with the models I've already done.

Just a small note, but this is the first model I varnished with my new spray-on gloss varnish (before using my usual spray-on matt of course). I left the gloss to dry for about a day before applying the matt, then right after applying the matt I somehow managed to knock him against a shelf as I was setting him down to dry. I didn't think I had hit him too hard, yet the paint was damaged (it was a small area, luckily not hard to do a passable repair job afterwards). I'm wondering if the varnish did not turn out as tough as usual? Really hard to say since I've never really done much testing or anything, but I'm planning to try to apply the gloss more generously next time. I might also change my method a bit; right now I leave longer than I probably need between sprays as I believe it helps avoid the Sugar Coated Frosting of Doom, but I wonder if that adversely affects the strength of the varnish coat. I'll try spraying more quickly next time, while still trying to avoid putting so much down that it runs. Well, I'll have to try on a test model first.

Overall I'm very happy with how he came out. I had some trouble with some of the larger, flatter areas, but overall I think it looks good. I'm also happy about how quick he was to assemble (barring the base) and paint. Actual painting took me almost exactly a week from start to finish (and I don't think I painted every day in that time), including varnishing, which is very quick for me. The rest of the team is more complex so I don't expect to get them all done that quickly, but I'm still hopeful that I'll manage to turn them out at a decent pace (by my standards at least), if I can resist the temptation to spend too much time on other projects. And assuming I don't need to go job hunting, which I might soon - although to be honest, I would probably get through them more quickly if I was unemployed... sigh.

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