Friday, October 25, 2013

Rainbows of spray paint! Where to get your colored spray paint without breaking the bank :)

Today on the WGC Facebook group, the topic of colored spray paints, and if a particular gaming labeled brand, was good/worth the cost came up.

I don't have to hype the colored spray paints.   I have multiple airbrushes and can mix and spray any shade I need for a single mini,  or a whole car.  But sometimes it's just really convenient to grab a can, give it a shake, spray and be done in less that a few minutes.   Spray cans are just another tool that have thier place in our tool box, and like every tool sometimes they're the right hammer for the job ^_^    And even with hammers- not all hammers are created equal!

For those that have read my Primer on Priming article,  you might recall that I'm not a fan of anything in a can that costs more that 5$ unless there is a very very good reason to justify that expense.   In the case of gaming labeled spray paint and primer,  often costing 10-15$,  there is NOTHING to justify that.  Just a label,  the marketing,  and its often 'right there' next to the little dudes you just bought,  so its convenient.  Whats an extra 7-10 bucks for a can of spray to base coat the 500$ of minis you just bought?

Well, for the average gamer that 7-10$ is probably an hour at work right?  And maybe- theres better paint out there for a lower price?  And what if I told you there was even MORE colors?   Not just a bland handful of lame Space Marine Scrotum shades,  and Goblin and Dwarf colors-  but like "Screw Baskin Robbins- we want ALL COLOR FLAVORS!"

Yep,  its true.  It really exists.  Has for years.  And no- its not 'derp buy an airbrush!'

Heres the 'original' Montana Black paint line courtesy of Blickarts: http://www.dickblick.com/products/montana-black-spray-paints/

With that color chart you should be able to match ANY current base coat color from all the major paint ranges, whether its Citadel, P3, Vallejo, whatever.  Remember, a base coat doesnt have to be a perfect match, you're still going to go over it with washes, shading techniques, and highlighting for a complete paint job.  So, if you get something thats a shade off, its not a big deal.  If its too bright you wash it darker,  if its too dark you do a quick highlight up, either with dry brushing, or with a zenital spray of white(or other available brighter shade).

Lots of colors, dense pigments.  Just make sure you shake them more than any other can of spray that you've ever used before.  That extra pigment means extra shaking.  And its worth it.   The stuff is intended for 'street art', meaning grafitti and out door applications.  


One of the nice things about Montana sprays is you can get different spray caps to alter the spray pattern.


Those smaller tips could prevent alot of the common spray paint problems that regular commercial 'one size fits all' nozzles cause in our hobby.   Thats one thing the gaming branded spray paints should be doing already- but that 20 cents a can is obviously too important to thier profit margin.

Still not convinced?  Ok,  this stuff has some other advantages.  Its a pretty durable resin binder, and the solvent carrier dries really fast.  And the other benefit- its winter proof.  Yep- with the the cold months upon us, you can use this stuff year round, and it works fine- its designed to work outside.

The valves on them are really nice, so while the cans are 'high pressure'  as long as you are light on your finger, you have alot of control.

So, while it might seem expenisve at around 8$ a can, its cheaper than the game branded crap,  and its FAR higher quality paint, in a better can can, with a better valve and spray tip.  In short- if you know about this stuff- and still buy a can of game branded spray, you are essentially letting yourself take it in the arse.  Be sure to tell your freinds about your preference for spray paint buggery ;)

Now, Montana also has thier Gold line, which I haven't gotten to use yet.  Its ACRYLIC!  Meaning you can spray it inside without worrying about fumes,  or melting styrofoam terrain pieces,  or several other possible benefits like it being flexible (are you reading this cosplay makers?!?)    Only main difference is the can work on lower pressure,  and theres been complaints of the cans getting plugged up.   Once I get some to try out I'll let you guys know how they work.

Along with Montana,   Theres also http://www.dickblick.com/products/mtn-94-spray-paint/   and http://www.dickblick.com/products/plutonium-spray-paint/

Both are high quality artist grade paint lines, and are priced similarly.  I haven't gotten to use either brand but havent heard anything bad about either of them.

Purchasing

Now for the shopping part!  The links above for Blick Arts give one obvious source.   The other is http://www.jerrysartarama.com/

Both are closely matched price wise, and frequently run discount deals.  Better deals are often available if you join the customer loyalty programs they offer.   

Its worth checking thier local store locator links:http://www.dickblick.com/stores/  and http://www.jerrysartarama.com/Retail-Stores/Store-Index.htm  to see if theres one nearby.  Not only does this let you check out the discount shelfs,  but there is usually an additional charge for shipping on spray cans when you order online since they can't be shipped through the normal methods.   Sometimes this can be worked around with the 'free shipping'  deals, but sometimes they're excluded, so read the fine print.

Sometimes the best option is to get together with your freinds or gaming club,  and order several cans.   Not only does this help spread out the cost of shipping, you at least get a bunch of peoples grey legions base coated!    

When going in together with a gaming club,  do not be tacky and do it in the face of your LGS if they happen to sell the gaming brand paint.   Talk to the shop owner first,  show them the expanded color selection Montana (or the other brands) offer,  and see if they can order the stuff from Montana or Blick as a Vendor so you can buy it right from you LGS.   This is the best case scenario, as it gets you good paint, puts painted armies on the tables of your LGS,  and puts money into their business which helps gamers keep a place to play.



Saturday, September 07, 2013

The Marines have Landed!


The Marines have finally landed! GW's flagship line of miniatures and IP, and unlike previous editions of 40k, they've arrived pretty much in the middle of things rather than the start.

Im not going to get into the value of the fluff and if it makes the book worth the hefty price tag, as thats entirely subjective. Im going to look at the game side of things, crunch the numbers and point out what is likely to be very popular and what isn't.

So- a quick overview in no particular order:
  • Solid, seems well balanced and with thoughtful army design most Chapter Tactics will be able to field competitive armies in most metas.
  • Chapter Tactics are decent-(Except the templars)
  • Key units had prices reduced to reasonable levels- slight increases on other units(hardly noticable though)
  • Flat cost for heavy weapons-Its about damn time!
  • Iron Hand Borg Marines Will be assimilating the tournament scene. Resistance is fewtil.
  • Grav Weapons Are Broken
  • Scouts+Storm Speeders=come back of unloved unit.
  • Centurions-despite a lot of guns and derpy punchy things don't have what it takes.
  • Combat Squad-pretty much every unit has this rule now-only a handful do not. 
Chapter Tactics. Finally, the basic Marine Codex doesnt expect all the Marines to act like the Blue guys- but just with different colored armor and use some different wargear to satisfy fluff. The Chapter Tactics rules are all quite simple, and amusingly enough Ultramarines are the ones with the most complicated.

Ultramarines-
  1. Tactical Doctrine: Reroll 1's in the shooting phase, Tactical marines reroll all misses.
  1. Assault Doctrine: Re-roll their charge range. Bikes and assault squads get Fleet.
  1. Devastator Doctrine: Re-roll To Hit with Snap Shot~ (including Overwatch shots). Also Devastators have the Relentless special rule unless they disembark from a Transport in their Movement phase.
The trick with these is they are ONE shot abilities that only work for a single turn. However if you build an army with them in mind and use them at a crucial time- they can obviously be game changing. If you have doubts you obviously have not played Warmachine and seen what Feats/Mini-feats can do to turn the tide of a game ;) For Ultras Tactical and Devastator Doctrines seem the most brutal- rerolling to hit rolls on 3 or 4 squads of rapid firing tactical marines-especially the plasma guys- seems highly effective, then followed up with Devastator Doctrine if the opponent tries to charge you- getting to re-roll the snap shots is huge as it double the effectiveness of overwatch. Getting the chance to reposition your Devastators and still shoot with relentless is situational- but could still be a game changer. Bear in mind that theres like 10+ years of habit ingrained that Space marines with heavy weapons cannot move and shoot. People will move their units accordingly. Using the Doctrine then having your Devs step around the corner so they have clear line of sight to squishy troops or vehicles that were previously hidden will be a frequent opportunity until people get used to this rule!

White Scars-
  1. Born in the Saddle- Bikes get +1 to jink saves, auto pass dangerous terrain tests, and get +1s to Hammer of wrath. Damn O.o
  2. Fight on the Move- Hit and Run for everyone- except termies and centurions.

Simple. Yet the real effects of all that take some time to process. Commanders/Chapter Masters both allow Bike squads as troops if they are on a bike. So you can really load up and get a lot of unit benefitting from Born in the Saddle. And bikes as is are very effective for their points cost-with all those bonuses AND Hit & Run for no extra cost- they become very solid troop choices. Fast, tough can get out of Assaults if they get tarpitted, turbo boost to grab objectives. For 7 pts over a Standard marine the benefits seem well worth it. For non bike units-I expect some FAQ work on Fight on the move. Otherwise White Scar Hit & Run Ironclads seem like they will be a lot of fun...

Imperial Fists-
  1. Bolter Drill:re-mll rolls of l made with bolt weapons(except hurricane, and special ammo)
  1. Siege Masters: Devastators(including Centurion) get Tank Hunter, this includes adding 1 to the result when rolling for Building Damage.
Honestly-seems like the Fists got a pretty basic deal- no frills, easy to use. Tank hunter on all heavy weapons would have been just a bit better, rather than Devs only- I mean the same dudes are in the tac squads...

Black Templars
  1. Accept Any Challenge, No Matter the Odds: re-roll misses and get Rending during a Challenge(characters only)
  2. Crusaders: Templars get Crusader and Adamantium Will. And access to the Crusader Squad(Neophytes/Initiates blah blah)

I've always thought the Black Templars were stupid. If this is all they get in 6th edition, they just got handed a Turd Sandwich with a side of Feces Pieces from the Papa Nurgle Taco Truck. Seriously, if they dont get a mini dex with something more than this and the couple of special characters, its the lamest Power armor costume in the line up.


Iron Hands- AKA the Pimp slappin Hand of the Emporer
  1. The Flesh is Weak: Feel No Pain (6+) if theres a better FnP available they can use it.
  2. Machine Empathy: Sit down for this one- ALL character AND vehicles have IT WILL NOT DIE! (WHAT THE BATSHIT!?!?) Oh and Techmarine type dudes get a +1 on blessing of the Omnisiah Rolls.

Break out your tanks, Paint it Black, slap the silver high five of the Iron Hands on that shit. You're looking at the new favorite marine chapter of power gamers everywhere. Self repairing tanks? +1 for tech marines to fix them? And the characters get that shit too? Fuck you Necrons, My space marines get back up bitchez!

Resistance is futile. These borg bastards will assimilate your local LGS tournament scene.


Salamanders
  1. Flamecraft: Reroll your flamery burny stuff. Wounds and pen rolls.
  2. Master Artisans: Each character gets a free Master-crafted upgrade(even if its a wargear item)

Not as OMFGWTFBBQ as the Iron Hands, its just BBQ!! They lost the Melta and thunder hammer reroll from last edition, so a lot of peoples will cry. But I believe the gained a reroll on the Flamestorm if they take a Redeemer....

Ravenguard-
  1. Strike from the Shadows:Everyone is a Scout except the bulky dudes.
  2. Winged Deliverance:Jump units can hop in the assault AND movement phases.

Simple- and effective in a lot of missions. The Winged Deliverance is cleverly written also- a lot of the rules for Chapter tactics only apply to assault marines. But this one applies to 'Jump Infantry' so Vanguard, Honor guard and characters with jump packs are included in the fun- which is nice since the new Shrike only joins squads that are Jump infantry!

Thats my quick over view of the Chapter Tactics. Its worth noting that Space Marines can Ally with Space Marines! They just have to have different Tactics for each detachment(and ones detachments tactics will NOT apply to the other obviously).

Wargear and Units:

This is going to be a brief sort of review. I dont want to get too deep into exact points costs and all that as this soon after a codex release it's likely to anger the mighty GW ;)

New stuff:
Centurions. Theyre not OMG awesome. No invulnerable save that I could find for them. So, t5 2w dudes that cost 50% more than a termie. Oh- and no teleporter. So they're on foot. They do come with 2 weapons though, combinations of hurricane bolters, TL flamers. TL HB's, and a variety of upgrades depending on if theyre the Assault or Devastator variety. My opinion- useless without a transport. Unless stuffed in Land Raider they're a fire magnet. They can theoretically come in on a 'raven I believe. But thats a lot of points in one basket(and they're very bulky). But- 4 of them and a dradnaught getting dropped off could make a huge distraction(albeit a pricy one!). They do have a wargear upgrade that allows the Sgt to split fire. Marginally useful. I wont be getting any, these arent nearly as awesome as obliterators or broadsides. The lack of an Inv save is a huge hindrance.

Hunter/Stalker tanks-Huge surprise- they roll in with a low points cost! Just a smidge over a Whirlwind. Im predicting the Stalker will be much me prevalent as it puts out a lot more shots. The Hunter have 12” more range, and AP2 but only ROF1. So, its just not going to see as much table time. Oh, and the derp side- theyre AV12 front and side. Frikkin preds and Vindis- the marines front line tanks still get 11 side armor. These AA tanks get 12? Dumb. The Whirlwind should have just gotten a AA missle option...

Grav weapons. They defy the laws of physics, and ergo, are broken. How Broken you ask? More broken than a Tau XV-8's ankle joints or that little tip on a flying base..... Lets just start with the worst- they're AP2. They don't wound off toughness. The roll to wound is the SAME as the targets armor save. So Terminators get wounded on a 2+, Orks on a 6+, IG on a 5+ etc etc. Hello MC's with armor. Hello Characters that were bad mofos. Your armor is now going to kill you and it doesnt matter how tough you are. The only thing that is going to save you is these things are going to cost 5$ a piece on ebay for the forseeable future.

Oh and the Gravgun and cannon- salvo weapons- so they get multiple shots- and whatever they dont kill is likely to be Concussed as well. I think the only unit that can carry the grav cannon are the Centurion Devs-but they get really pricey. So the Grav gun is likely to start replacing Plasma guns as the workhorse for killing AP2 type targets- since there is NO downside to using it other than its slightly less against vehicles than a plasma gun is.

Oh-no discount for Lightning Claws as a pair. If you want 2 of them, you're paying for each one separately now. (except assault termies which have them as default gear)

For some reason, despite every regular missle launcher now getting access to Flakk- Cyclone and Typhoon launchers do not. Stupid.

Theres some relics- theyre alright- getting into the discussion details on those is just academic right now since their value revolves around army build.

So- on to whats changes with Units!

Special Characters-They'll surely be covered to the point of exhaustion in various forums. And I rarely/never use them. So- I'll skip them for now.

Chapter Master-pretty much the same as before. Orbital Bombardment. The wargear list though, like the other 6th ed codexes is much more open. So it feels like you have more options. Not like the crazy options for some of the Eldar combos- but more than the previous SM cookie cutter commanders. They also get an Honor Guard.

Captains are just Jr Chapter masters without the Bombardment. No Honor guard option, but can get a command squad.

Librarians- No divination- I can hear the wailing and lamentations already. Bio, Pyro, Telekinesis, telepathy. Lvl 1 to start, can upgrade to lvl 2.

Chaplians, Master of the Forge- pretty much stay the same.

Techamarines- no longer have a force org slot- you can take one per HQ choice. And a pack of servitors per Techmarine. Without them taking elite slots they might start popping up in armies again.

Tac marines-biggest change to the basic marines, is that tacticals and Devastators now pay the same price and choose their weapons off the same list!! FINALLY! Changes to the squad cost form last edition- is weapons cost more, but there are no more freebie weapons built into the base cost of the squad.

Scouts. Scouts are still unskilled clowns. Fat guardsmen. WS/BS 3. They did get a 2 pt cut in cost. Sadly they still did not get access to special weapons. Still the old HB/ML options. Wolf scouts got clued in- small portable firepower seems very scout like... But one welcome change is that a Scout Squad can now take a Storm Speeder as a dedicated Transport(its actually the only way to get a Storm I think). So, you can take a 10 man squad. Sniper up 5 of them, Combat squad- put the other 5 on a dedicated storm- and even with a full load of upgrades(cloaks-heavy weapon, etc) you're well under 200 pts for a backfield objective camper- and a fast objective grabber. Thats not bad even considering their lack of skill ;) Its also worth noting that the Storm has the Cerberus Launcher- which is now THE bad mofo of 40k flash bangs. It blinds shit off a large blast template has decent range- and on rare occasion might even kill soft targets. Scouts+storms are looking better and better.

Vanguard- Hell yes. They aren't tarded expensive any more. Likely because GW wants to sell piles of those new sprues... But whatever the reason, this is now the most likely Jump unit you will see on the table. The weapon selection isnt as crazy as is was- no relic blades for the whole unit- but you can still T-hammer them all up and with storm shield if you want a point sink ;)

Sternguard-still a solid choice. Probly still see bunches of them running around with shiny new grav combi weapons. As with Tac and Dev squads their heavy weapons choices are the same cost as everyone elses. But-but!!! They can take heavy flamers. Considering that most Sternguard units are pushed out of a drop pod to use combi weapon evil- heavy flamers could be a wicked addition to that load out. Even against 3+ saves, heavy flamers will tally up the wounds if you're clever with your template placement...

Legion of the Damned- Got cheaper by 5 pts, and their ghostie bullets ignore cover. If you want a wall of invulnerable saves to hide behind, theyre still very solid. Not as overpriced as before...

Fast attack options are all pretty much the same- except they added the Storm Talon- which is still and under gunned over-costed joke.

Devastators-as mentioned in the Tac Squad they now get heavy weapons that cost the same as the other guys. This elevates them from just a pack of dudes with bargain basement missle launchers- to highly effective heavy tactical squads. You're also not limited to having to put weapons of the same role in the squad anymore since you have the option to combat squad. You could stick 2 HB's and 2 Lcs in and separate them to keep their fire effective.

The tanks- other than the new guys the tanks are pretty much the same old clankers with the exception of the new additions.  As mentioned previously we'll see lots of the gun variant to deal with fliers, otherwise I doubt too man people get the new tanks.   If the Iron Hand trend catches like I think- SM tanks will get popular and hard to get ahold of.  Much like Missle Launchers were for 5th edition marines ;)

Keep in mind- this review was formed after a very quick read of the codex.  I didn't get it when it hit the shelf at 5 pm yesterday.  I got mine this morning.   So, this got written pretty much as I went through the book and its possible I misread or missed something.  If you see anything like that let me know, I'd rather have a laugh over it and converse than find some stupid troll post or flame attempt ;)

With the potential combinations of new rules, and unit abilities its still going to take a while for all the potential to trickle down.  But some things are obvious already,  others,  like how useful combat squadding for almost everyone will really be with various missions and with differing Chapters.  But time and battles will sort it all out!



Friday, June 07, 2013

Resurrecting the Craftworld- and my enthusiasm for 40k?

Eldar.  Pointy eared psychic death machines.


  • Clown suits.

  • Pointy helmets.

  • Monomolecular filament spewing projectors.

  • Distortion Cannons that open warp micro warp singularities to implode thier targets.

  • Pinnacle laser technology like Bright lances and Prism cannon.

  • The Falcon Grav tank,  the Vyper, awesome models.



  • Maugan Ra,  Jain Zar, The Eldar Avatar,  Solitaire, Death Jesters, Shadoweer,  Exarchs.



  • I even have a HUGE replica Wytchblade/Wailling Doom (which it is depends on who you ask lol) you can see it in my banner pic above.



Those were the reasons I started collecting Eldar in 1998.  Feels weird to think that its been 15 years now.   But Eldar actually got me into 40k, and back into wargaming.  Previously, I had only played Battletech and was an avid RPG player.   They also got me back into painting miniatures as it came at almost the same time I had to give up shooting at a professional level(it was tearing up my hands/wrists).

It all started innocently enough.  My freind Bill and I were bored on a Saturday night and he asked "Want to try some 40k?  I don't have all my minis here but we can figure something out."   He handed me the 2nd ed Eldar Codex to look at,  and went to grab his miniatures while I started to flip through the book- and learned about the challenges of the dying elite race- and I was like 'Fuck that, I can save these guys!'

That game,  by most current standards would be viewed as absurd.   I call it 'FloorHammer' since we played it on the apartment floor,  the 'terrain' was like a bizzare Alice in Wonderland assortment of coffee cups, small pots, and some VHS tapes for hills.   Yes- VHS tapes,  you younger readers can go look them up on Wikipedia.

And the 'battle' was between some Harelquins and Craftworld eldar-as that was the box of minis he had.   I think I ended up winning,  but the actual victory was how much fun we had. 

After that game Bill was like "So you enjoyed it?  Here, take these."  And he just gave me a batch of Harlequins.   I still have every single one of them.  I think a few trades later I ended up with the craftworld Eldar too,  then he got them back, then I got them again and I think we each have some now.    

For the next  4 or 5 years we played together and painted at least 2 or 3 times a month.  The monthly pre tournament painting frenzy was a common event.

But Im sentimental about my Eldar.   I don't care how bad GW jerks around other codexes.   Sure, I have like a million points of chaos and orks that are fun to convert.  But a bad codex for them is just a money issue.  I an get over having money taken away.   

The Eldar however-  the Eldar are my memories, happy memories of better times.  And the whole reason I got into 40k, and buy extension wargaming and back to miniature painting.

Not long after that- when I was avid about all things Eldar- the mysterious Eldar pirates got thier own army and were released as part of the 3rd Edition Boxed set!  And I of course was an early adopter of all things Dark Eldar.  Im not as nostalgic about them as my old Craftworld stuff- theres no history, but I still like them.

With that in mind,  I will set aside my usual 'GW is a bunch of money grubbing retards, and if you're a GW apologist poke yourself in the eye and hit the back button' "GW is bad mm'kay" and see if I can find some way to make the Eldar Codex work for me.

I've flipped through it, and chatted to a couple people that have it.   Now I want to get some discussion going on my miniatures, and how they can best be used within the new Codex.

One thing I am really, disappointed about is that the shuriken catapult remained 12" for guardians.  Even with the Run gimmick, it just gives them a hyped up pistol.  And thats absurd.  They have no buisness getting within 12" of anyone.  Guardians needed,  18" like Avengers.   Or take a step back in history and let them take lasblasters again.  They really need a stand off option that won't put them in assault range.    

So- to solve this troop issue- Guardians when used will be back field Platform teams.   When I need 'tactical' Troop selections I'll look to Avengers, and in my eyes the superior Dark Eldar Warrior- Battle Brother!

With DE Warriors to add flexibility to what my guardians can't do-the Troops selections should work fine.

This got me to thinking about which HQ to take with an allied detachment?  Theres alot of options, and it starts getting crazy- since theres so many Eldar goodies- you dont want to cut into those.   But theres obvious synergy units,  like Haemonculi adding FnP, you add the defense of Eldar psychic powers on top of that- and you start getting some really good options going.

So,  I haven't got the finer details nailed down- I need the codex for that.  But Im looking at a Farseer, and Guardian squad with platform(multiple if possible) for backfield objectives.  Dire Avengers.   Allied in, at least one squad of DE warriors with a Haemonculi(1-3, will ad more if I take other squads).  The DE  compulsory HQ will be tuned to fit whatever balance the army needs.   

For the rest- probly 700-800 pts  for a 2k list, would be the Fast Attack/Heavy/Elites.   Of which I have the full spread of Aspect warriors, several warwalkers, vypers(15 lol), falcons, serpents, prisms,  DE stuff out the wazoo.

And of course,  the old Harlequins- but I'm pretty sure they'll have the same stat line as the ones in the DE codex.  Which makes them hard to fit in most lists.

So, feedback!!  For those with the Codex, what 'old' Eldar stuff do you think is viable?   I don't really care about a theme,  I jsut want to dust off my old stuff and have fun with it again.   

I want to see the antique War Walkers and Wraithlords I have on their original SQUARE bases lol  and finally have a reason to put them on round ones-  not to mention repaint them and update them to useful weapon loadouts.

And just maybe-  get inspired to convert some 'Seers and do that epic Avatar paint job I've been putting off.

I figure the Eldar are supposed to be an ancient race- using my ancient miniatures (some of which are more than 20 years old!) is appropriate and makes a ready made '30k' Eldar Army lol


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Can you smooth out your painting results with an acrylic additive?

We all use alot of acrylic paints on our miniatures, acrylic paints are easy, they clean up with water, and most of them dont stink(but some do!).   But some recent posts and questions on the http://www.wgconsortium.com/ painting forums made me realize alot of people don't know how to get the most out of thier paints.

Im not talking about getting the last drop out of the bottle,  but rather the best performance.  Making your paint easy to work with-so you can paint faster, and get better results rather than waste time fighting against your paints limitations.

What limiatations? Well, as soon as you open the top or drop it out of the bottle- its starting to dry.   And while a quick drying time is a good point in some aspects- while you're trying to put that paint on the miniature its a nuisance to have it start getting goopy, tacky and even a little chalky.

Theres a few ways we can work around that, the first, and one people are starting to do more often these days is thinning thier paint.  Most paints out of the pot are just too thick.

But, since we're still dealing with the nonsense era where almost everyone was told priming black was the 'right' way to paint,  no one wanted to thin thier paints because 'thinned paint won't provide good coverage over black'.    Thats of course mostly nonsense from a few boneheads that primed black and tried to paint Imperial fist space marines(yellow)  or White Scars,  and then cried about how bad the paints covered.  Dont blame the tools when you use them poorly >.<

However, since we've moved past that-and better techniques have surfaced,  like wet blending, thinning your paints is more common than ever.

But- you can do more than just adding water.  To some of you this is going to sound like its either too good to be true,  or its 'I already knew about that'.

Wargaming painters have a severe tendency to have tunnel vision when it comes to what products they will use.  If its not sold at the game shop many will act like it doesnt exist.  Which, is quite sad since thees an enormous amount of art supply products out there that the gaming paint  lines will never sell-  yet, theyre incredibly useful.

And Acrylic Flow Release is one such product.  I first found this stuff back in 2003.  And at the risk of sounding a bit dramatic,  it was like finding a magic potion to add to my paints.  At that time I had a few old Citadel pop tops I was still using, a whole batch of still new Vallejo model colors I had ordered from Spain in 01(no one was selling them online back then!).  And I think I had 3 GW screw tops that were still sort of working.

Acrylics Flow Release- also called flow aid or flow enhancer,  gets mixed with water, about 10 parts water to one part flow release(and some brands its more/less).  And I just use it in a dropper bottle to mix with my Vallejos when I drop them on the pallette.

And you're wondering what does it do besides make the paint wet?   Well,  acrylics can get a little rough and chalky when theyre going on sometimes.   This stuff- its sort of like adding a lubricant to the paint.  It makes it spread,  or flow,  much smoother.

If you're thinking about trying any advanced highlighting or shading techniques like wet blending,  I'd strongly recommend picking up a bottle of this stuff.  It makes your paint alot easier to work with,  less frustrating and more fun when you dont have to fight against the limits of the medium!

If you're just going for a tabletop level paint job, working off of a drybrushed base and maybe some hard edge highlights & washes- this stuff will still improve your results.  It can smooth out your drybrushing results well enough that with a little practice it can look more like a wet blend than a drybrush because the color is smooth rather than the usual rough chalky paint appearance you most often see with drybrushing.

I prefer the Golden Flow Enhancer,  but the Liquitex I currently have seems to be doing a decent job(but its mostly been used for making washes lol).   The Golden was what I bought in 2003  and was a 4oz bottle I used just for painting,  and it lasted through my comission army painting phase- so its probly thinned enough paint to cover 30 or 40 armies,  and made several batches of thinning solution I gave to freinds when I saw thier rough results!   If you decide to get some of your own you'll find it in your local art supply stores, if you've ever been in there to buy the good stuff like some brush cleaner or a big bottle of matte medium- it will be in the same section!

If any of you guys have used it, or get some and it helps you out, or gives you some problems, drop a comment a below and let us know about your results :)

I imagine some people are wondering why I didn't talk about drying retarder as an additive.  And thats pretty simple- while it does extend drying times- every drying retarder I have used has had a serious detriment to paint performance when you add enough to actually extend the drying time.   It might work great for acrylics being applied on a canvas,  but I've had zero luck with it on miniatures- so I categorize it as a performance reducing additive ;)

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Primer on Priming Part II- Primary Principals to avoid the dreaded "Runs" "Fuzzes" and "Stickies"

In Part I we covered some pointers on what sprays you can use affordably and some simple tricks on how to work around cold and wet weather.

In this addition, (which I will also add to the original article, I jsut added a new blog post to make sure those that wanted the additional info had a better opportunity to see the fresh post )   I'm going to also go over the more general environmental effects of humidity/dry air,  and heat- since summer time should eventually be coming to the northern hemishpere those of us in North America & Europe should shrug off the snow and finally get some sunshine!  And hopefully my winter priming tips will help out the blokes down under!

So,  everyone has heard that high humidity causes untold havoc with spray can primers right?  That it makes it go on clumpy,  or turn 'fuzzy'  or all sorts of stuff.  I cant even really keep track of all the absurd claims Ive read on the forums over the years.

What it comes down to, is pretty simple-  you have to be smarter than the paint.  Almost every single case of bad primer FUBAR is operator error.   Yes, bad batches of paint do happen,  but its pretty rare,  quality control on modern manufactured goods these days is at a reliable standard.   So, with the understanding that the spray primer you are using has been stored properly,  is of relatively recent purchase,  and was shaken thoroughly before use- if theres a problem when it hits the surface- whats the cause?   You!


People like to blame thier tools when something doesnt work out right.  But lets be honest here- how many cans of that paint have you sprayed?   If you were a video game character,  and that can of paint was a consumable item you character gained a skill proficiency in- would you even have a basic skill achievement unlocked?     Spray Can: 20    Maybe?   If you dont use the stuff for DYI purposes or other craft projects maybe not even 20  lol  

Some people might be thinking "How hard can it be?  You jsut shake the can, and spray the stuff by pushing the nozzle!"  And  those steps do seem simple,  I mean, they're actually the instructions printed on the cans label right?

Wait- you guys do read the instructions on the cans right?  And realize that different brands have slightly different instructions?    Like some only need to be shaken for a minute,  some say 3-5 minutes for the first use.   Some say hold 12-16 inches away.....some say let dry 10-15 minutes between coats,   some only 5 minutes...

Whats the point?   Know your material ;)   Since in the first portion of my article I wrote about the Colorplace spray paints,  for the rest of my article I will be writing using those as the 'generic'  basis for spray paints since they're what I use.   (I have used many others, notably Krylons and Rustoleums- so if anyone has questions about a specific type that you already have and need help with,  feel free to drop your questions in the comments below).    In this example pic is a nice smooth 2 quick, but even layers of black over white styrene.   This wasnt the first spray- this was after I had shaken the can-  the first spray was for the Streaks pic below lol.   But This is the 'base' picture you can compare the others too so you can see whats wrong with them-  if you need the comparisons.


So- lets define the Runs,  Fuzzes, Streaks and Stickies for anyone who's not familiar with them yet.   And so I dont scare anyone off- they're not scary forms of intestinal distress that result in Nurglings flying out of anyones ass(or other orifices).



Runs- this is what happens when you spray too much paint too close to the surface- it actually pools up and will run down.   This is hard to do on infantry minis, so we usually only see it on tanks- usually Rhinos and land raiders that 'Little Timmy' got and very enthusiastically tried to paint(ironically its usually full grown adults that dump a whole can onto a single tank...)








Streaks- you lazy bastard.  You didn't shake your paint enough.  Know how I can tell?  Primers arent supposed to be translucent!  That means the pigment didnt get mixed into the thinner,  so the stuff that sprayed out came out streaky.  It also means you got lucky-  the opposite of Streaky- is chunky,  and that usually blocks the pickup tube or nozzle and ruins the can of paint.  Shake that stuff.  Especially if its not the 1$ stuff.





Stickies- So lets say you did shake it just right, and you're laying down good even coats.   Whats this 'Sticky' deal?  Its about you being impatient!  Spray on that layer of paint.  Go eat a sammich.  Go look check out my freinds at the http://www.facebook.com/groups/WGCconsortium/ just do something for 10 minutes while that paint dries.  If you spray another layer of paint,  over a layer of wet paint-  you get the Stickies.   Which is paint that might not ever cure properly.  It might take 8 hours to dry all the way.   It might still be sticky.   If it does dry to the touch,  it might still be soft underneath because the stuff inside cant dry right.    It usually means you have to strip the paint off and start over.   Its closely related to the Runs-  but its a little worse-  because it shoes you have the skill to put the paint on properly- jsut that you werent patient enough and you FAILED!!.    So dont do it.   Theres no picture for this one,  I didnt see the point of piling up paint on something for a demonstration pic....



And now the FUZZES!!!   Sounds almost cute,  like kittehs and teddy bears?   Its not really,  at least not when its something thats going onto your miniatures and makes their once smooth features look like they are afflicted with some sort of gangrenous or rusty skin affliction!

See the fuzzy residue where I rubbed it with my finger? 
You see,  the common myth behind the Fuzzing,  is that its all about evil humidity.  Ive read numerous forum posts on it and its the #1 culprit.  And,  while I do concede that humidity is a factor,  its not the cause of fuzzing.  Sorry humidity conspiracy guys.  I can recreate Fuzzing, at will, in Arizona, with 15% humidity on any given day.   See,  I watch the weather alot due to my migraine being triggered by weather fluctuations.  And it just struck me as odd that humidity would shut down spray painting so completely,  so I researched a few other industries that spray in humid areas- like New Orleans and Seattle-  and no reports of complications.  Which indicated they just used the stuff different because those where the conditions they were used to.   So-  thats the key folks.    Humidity CHANGES.    If you're used to spraying one way- and try to spray that exact same way when the humidity has shot up or down 40%- the results are likely to be considerably different.   Its also worth noting- that somtimes the the fuzzing paint wont even stick to the miniatures- when that happens you know for sure its a case of spraying from too far away!

The Mechanics of Fuzzing:  So what really causes Fuzzing?  Simple, really simple.  Its dried paint!  If you're getting a grainy/gritty finish on your models you are holding your can TOO FAR away from the surface of your minis when spraying them.  By the time the paint gets there some of it has already started to dry,  it mixes with the paint thats still wet, and it clumps up, forming a rough textured paint.  FUZZING!!  

So,  why is it worse when its humid?  I wondered that too.  I even sat down and sprayed paint through the mist from a humidifier to experiment.  And talked to a freind thats a chemist.  My working hypothesis is that with higher humidity levels, the fuzzing is likely more noticeable because the paint particles bond with some water vapor in the air-  this makes the paint 'chunks' of pigment alot larger than the normally are in terms of surface area.  Then the fluffier water-saturated  'Fuzzy' pigment pieces adhere to the miniature just like they normally would.   But the fuzzing is more pronounced-  think of it sort of like breakfast cereal, a normal pigment particle is supposed to be like, a grain of salt- but if it gets fluffed up and instead is like a Rice Crispy because a bunch of them get stuck together- its a little easier to see why the surface of your miniatures get a little rough and lumpy instead of nice and smooth.


So- how do you slay the Fuzzies?  We have the technology....we have the knowledge....we have the 1$ spray paint...(I do anyway lol)     Its how close you hold the spray can.   On humid days you have to adjust, spray closer.  Yes,  think means you have to also spray faster- if you dont you you will get 'Runs' from spraying too close.   But you can spray quick close layers, and let each dry thoroughly.

You need to practice.  Its really that simple.  If you only spray prime something once every few months you just are not proficient with one of the tools you use.   Primer is the paint layer on which you put all your other work- some of us have a hundred of dollars of vallejo, GW, P3 and Reaper paints on our shelves.  We spend hours watching youtube tutorials on how to wet blend, use oil washes,  airbrush,  highlight and a bunch of other techniques-  all of which rely on a layer of primer.  

Practice using some spray cans,  it doesnt have to be on miniatures.  Its actually better to NOT practice on miniatures until you get good at it.  I always tell people to practice on garbage- if you're going to throw it away-  and its a plastic material similar to a space marine tank- spray some primer on it before tossing it out.

What should you do if you already have a batch on miniatures that are BeFuzzled? Well, sadly we have limited options here. If they are dry dusty fuzzies- washes tehm off in hte sink with some good dish soap and a gentle brushing- if you're lucky it all comes off and theres nothing left sticking and you jsut learned you hold your spray at least a foor farther away than it needs to be!    But,  if you have the stuck on clump fuzzies-  hopefully they are metal- if so you can grab a cheap brush and try brushing on some paint thinner or mineral spirits.  Ive been able to break down the fuzzies on some metals like this before, the thinner can dissolve the fuzz into paint- but be careful- after it gets brushed on and soaks in its sticky just like wet spray paint!  Some times the texture smooths out, soetimes it doesnt.  You could try that technique on plastic and resin, but you would have to be very cautious about letting the thinner pool in any crevices.  And it might just be better to strip the miniatures and start over- if you go that route http://mistressofminis.blogspot.com/2012/11/stripping.html will strip of the Colorplace stuff.  And its cheap, also available at walmart- and its not stinky.


Another thing, when you're priming, whether you decide to go with Black/grey/white,  you do not have to completely coat the miniature in a solid layer of primer.   Example- a black primed mini does not have to be pitch/solid black all over.   If theres still bare metal peeking out in the crevices-  thats ok!!   If you try to cover every possible surface with a spray you will cover and obscure some fine details.    The important parts to prime are the raised areas, especially ones where the miniature will be touched/handled sinces thats where the paint is most likely to get worn off-  thats where the primer needs to be to give the paint a foundation to adhere to.  As thats what primers job is-  to give the paint a way to stick to the miniature.  The parts in those recesses-  those areas dont get worn down- so they dont need the primer to hold the paint on them.  If you're worried about the colors not matching- its not a huge issue- most quality paints- even when thinning your paints,  are color fast enough that a layer or two and you wont notice the difference.  And add in a wash to shade the recesses, and you're on your way.


I think this pretty much covers most of the basic 'evils' of Priming.  If theres enough interest I might do an advanced priming article.  Cover 'Zenital'  or two-tone priming for speed painting with washes & glazes,  and priming with non standard colors,  and where to acquire them.  That would mostly be for those in the US,  its hard to source things for the European readers,  especially since shipping prices have gotten so absurd :/










Saturday, May 04, 2013

May the 4th be with you! Star Wars Day Special: The Mystery of Why Storm Troopers Fail.


Long 
Time Ago
In Old Movie Theaters Far Far Away


Welcome to this entirely random episode, about our favorite faceless white & black minions: Imperial Stormtroopers!(you must hum the first few bars of the Imperial March everytime Stormtroopers are mentioned!)  (And Jawas- and everytime jawas are mentioned Utini!)

Que the theme music: http://youtu.be/oEuBP1er0gY

For some of us, like me,  we were first introduced to these armored blaster packing ship storming shock troops when they cut through the door of Princess Leias Corellian Corvette, and though the cloud of smoke blaster bolts start flying and the Rebel dudes with the stupid helmets die like a bunch chumps with airsoft pistols trying to fend off a SEAL team.   Then you see Darth Vader walk in,  and look around like,  'Good job bitches!'  And you think whoa! those dudes must be awesome if they hang around that guy!   No, bear in mind- I was 4.

So,  fast forward though the droids, the escape pod, whiny kid, desert, uncle is a dick, droid runs off,  OMG sand people!!,  weird old dude,  hologram that Luke pervs on like its the first porn he has ever seen,  and then we get to the next key piece of  evidence in my Stormtrooper mystery.

The Jawa Sandcrawler.   Obi Wan claimed "These blast points,  only Imperial storm troopers are so precise.  And these bantha tracks, sand people ride single file to hide thier numbers...."

Now,  we have to scenes,  the storming of the corvette, and the pillage of some Jawas(where these all powerful Storm troopers for some reason tried to do a cover up and blame the sand people?  WTF?)  to validate the Stormtroopers skills and how lethal they're supposed to be.

So,  what happened after the Jawas?  Did the slaughter of the Jawas,  and maybe even Owen and Baru give all the clone storm troopers some sort of empathic PTSD?  They got so rattled that they couldnt fight properly anymore?

Next song: http://youtu.be/q-i3RUR4eTg

Heres my theory.  The Jawas did it!  Everyone thinks theyre just little robed sand rats that scavenge droids and junk.  But what if thats just a cover?   What if the Jawas are actually just peaceful but powerful latent force users?   And when the Storm troopers killed off a whole Sandcrawler community(And why didnt Obi Wan feel THAT disturbance in the Force when it was just a few miles away?)    the Jawa mind Ninjas got angry-  so angry that they decided to put a big time bad juju machine curse on the whole fucking Empire because some D-bag Stormtroopers used them for target practice when they were looking for some droids.


Trash compactor shutting off on the detention level?  Jawas.
The interrogation droid pumping Leia full of happy drugs.  Seriously, she saw her home planet get nuked- never got upset,  and then 'arent you a lil short for a storm trooper?'  They had that bot pump her full of frikkin combat drugs so she could lead Han, Chewie and Luke off he Deathstar!
Blast doors closing in Vaders face after he killed Obi Wan so Luke could escape-Jawas
Tractor beam turning off so the Falcon could escape? Jawas
Death Stars targeting computer taking FOREVER to target Rebel base- Jawas
Turret defenses on Death Star shutting down- Jawas
Deathstar exhaust port- reversing, and sucking in- so even Luke could land some torpedoes in it- Jawas

Empire Strikes Back-as the story moves farther away from Tattooine the influence of the Jawas is not as strong- but it is still present!
Giant awesome walking tanks that are blaster proof-tripped by tiny wires- Jawas
Ion Cannon- DUH  Thats a fucking Jawa gun! They blasted R2D2 with one- somewhere on Hoth theres Eskimo Jawas scrapping Imperial walker parts and laughing about how mugh they charged the Rebels to buld that Ion cannon back in the day. -Jawas
Lil pigfaced dudes on Bespin- Ughnaughts, theyre Jawas Brothers from another mother.  So,  while they not part of the Jawa Mind Ninja allaince-  the Jawas think kindly of them and spared Bespin from outright destruction, but the Jawa anti Imperial machine curse was spread to Bespin via R2D2
Luke falling down the funslide version of the trash chute- and not the one to an incinerator, or one that was just open at the bottom- Jawas

Return of The Jedi-
Looking at the utter ridiculousness of the rescue plan for Han, the only way it worked was with the help of the Jawas.   Think Luke throwing that skull made the gate crash down on the Rancor? -Jawas
Boba Fett- the most badassed character and bounty hunter in the Star Wars Universe- looks like a fucking clown because none of his gear works right?  Jawa machine curse bitches- he's like the grandaddy storm trooper clone so he got EXTRA screwed and dunked like a  mandalOreo( <-- a="" actually="" ad="" amuses="" and="" awa="" been="" bitches.="" broken-="" but="" curse="" died="" have="" he="" i="" in="" it="" just="" made="" may="" me="" nbsp="" over="" p="" pit.="" really="" sarlac="" slowly="" survived...="" that="" the="" thousand="" up="" vengeance="" years="">Speeder bikes- aside from making cool noises- riding one in a forest seems like a death wish.  You'd think with space ship technology they could put even a basic collision avoidance system on a speeder like that.  But then there wouldnt have been a dramatic chase scene...with storm troopers that cant hit anything they shoot at.... -Jawas
On Endor- once again fancy Imperial walkers- tripped with ropes, logs and rocks- this time by spear wielding monkeys- a company of storm troopers again cannot seem to shoot any of them- except by accident.  -Jawas
On the half built Death Star...this time the weak point doesnt have a pesky exhaust port.  Nope.  Just a whole access shaft that a friggin freighter can fly through(Millenium Falcon is a Corellian freighter hull).  The engineers that desinged this were on the schedule to be Force choked- but Vaders schedule got backed up.  So instead it was firing squad.  3 days later the engineers had not yet starved to death, and the Stormtrooper execution detail was out of ammo.  And the tunnel was built.   -Jawas
The Super Stardestroyer- we'll just gloss over the fact 2 fighters makin a single pass destroyed thier forward deflector array(Jawas).  But then they call to intensify forward firepower- Derp- its a STAR DESTROYER its already got intense forward firepower dumbass.  But then he has to say it again.  But thats just to make it MORE dramatic when the SUPER BALLSY A-wing pilot goes all Divine Wind and attacks a Super Star Destroyer head on O.o  Then somehow he just happen to know where the bridge is,  and manages to fly his jacked up A-wing right into it.  Jawa Astromech!
Then- the Super Star Destroyer without a Bridge- is now out of control- because unlike Star Trek ships- giant Star Wars ships- have NO ENGINEERING sections or back up bridges- so when all the Storm Troopers ran to the port side escape pods,  the ship tilted over from the weight, and crashed into the Death Star.  Jawas.
Darth Vaders cybernetics rebooting so he could toss Palpatine down the shaft- Jawas.


Now- the final mind bender.  The Grand Jawa.
I've postulated Jawas are latent Force users.
I will also support this further- becuase all Jedi wear robes right?  Jawas wear robes, ergo- Jawas must be Jedi!
No one knows what Jawas look like under their robes- only that they have glowing eyes and that they are short.

Who else do we know of thats short, wears a robe, uses the Force,  and is of an unknown species?

Yep, for StarWars day- I am stipulating, that Jawas, are young peaceful 'Yodas' that actually won the war for the Rebellion by cursing the Empire.

And if the Jawas handn't kicked Yoda off Tattooine for being a violent little bastard a several thousand years ago, he might have corrupted all of the Jawas into being a warlike race of mean little sun baked Jedi death machines with tiny light sabers!    {{{I had a clever comment here- but theres some sort of editing bot that basically raped it ouut of existance-  so-  no making fun of Mr Abrams and the future potential of my ideas for a Star Wars movie!}}}

(I also think Jawas sneak into peoples houses at night and infect them with Midi-chlorians haahahah)

May the 4th be with you! Always!   

(At least until tomorrow when we get to celebrate the Mexicans defaulting on the money they owed to the French a 151 years ago!)







Friday, May 03, 2013

A Primer, on, priming when the weathers not prime ^_^ And How to avoid the pitfalls of Fuzzing, Running & Stickies!

Since I've posted my priming tricks & tips on several G+ and FB posts over the last several weeks,  and some people seem to be trapped in a winter that will not end :o,  I figured I should just go ahead and do a quick blog post about my priming methods.

First, so I can just link the blog and save myself from retyping it over & over!   And,  also so I could attach some pictures and add in some additional details that sometimes get missed when I post it over & over in different spots.

First I'll start off with what I've used to prime 99% of my miniatures since probly 2001.    I give you the humble can of Walmart Colorplace Flat Spraypaint.  Retail price of roughly 1 dollar.  Sometimes .89 cents(stockup!  lol)  And occasionally Ive seen it as high as a 1.14$.

This is not the stuff you will paint your car, house or boat with.  Its cheap paint, that works fine for scale miniatures, it adheres well to plastic, resin and metal(provided you have prepared them properly by removing any mold release or oily residues!)   and like any good primer they have just enough 'tooth' to give some traction and pull the paint off your brush without making the surface look rough.

Is this stuff 'Better' than the 15$ a can brands from big names we see at the game shops?  In my experience- absolutely!  Heres why:


  1. You're not going to treat the Walmart stuff like liquid gold.  You're free to experiment and practice with it on the side of a soda can to see how its going to perform before you spray it on your miniatures.   The expensive stuff people do not want to 'waste it'  like that,  so they spray it right on to the minis with not testing whatsoever-  and theres quite often poor results.
  2. This is more like a 1-b than a second point.  But its about experimenting with the stuff.   Its not that the other sprays are bad.  The horror stories attributed to many of them are almost always along the lines of "How many cans have you used of that brand?"  'Err, well jsut that one'   Which means they never got to practice with the stuff.  No feeling out process, no debugging/troubleshooting.  Just bitching about bad results.    So its basically almost always operator error- they dont know the product, they bought what was on the shelf because thats what the dude selling them the miniatures told them they were supposed to buy.
  3. Because the game brand primers are 10-15$ a can,  sometimes they have an extremely low turnover rate at some shops.  Ive seen some shops where cans sat on the shelf for years.  Some responsible shop owners will rotate the stock, and get rid of those cans-  but alot wont.  And will sell that old can.  Now, imagine that can which has maybe sat there for- lets say only 5 years without ever being shaken...and you only shake it for a minute before spraying it on some minis-  think its going to get good smooth results?   
Now we compare it to the Walmart stuff, they aim for having stuff sitting on their shelf for what,  less than 30 days at a time for dry goods- so at the worst you can of spray paint might be a few months old.  And you can buy a case of them,  in a few different shades for the same cost so you can prime your whole army, your friends army, and his two friends armies-  and still pick up a decent lunch on the way home with the price difference.

I know someone is going to make some reply about some game brand being magically formulated to be better for miniatures.  And, Im sure it is,  they go out and grind up unicorn horns and fairy wings just so that brand of paint works better for our little plastic elves.   And that other brand over there uses super nanotech binders to make work better for our space dudes to have extra pew pew lasers!  

Basic spray paints are all pretty much the same- and that's what the game brand primers are- flat spray paints.   Krylon and rustoleum have some fancy stuff,  the metallics have some nifty applications(but that's a different article) and theres custom colors from artists lines like Plutonium,  Liquitex, and Montana.  Montana being a curious company since it has a huge color array and catering mostly to the graffiti type crowd.  I haven't picked any of thier stuff up yet,  but I hope to eventually.    Montana and Liquitex also have an acrylic spraycan which I hope to review- since its indoor safe and next winter could help some of you folks up north with some different options!

Another useful option for those of us with airbrushes,  is Vallejo Surface Primer.  I didn't mention this as a main basis of my article,  as airbrushes are still just a fringe tool for most wargamers even though they are alot more common than they used to be(10% of us using them vs the 1% it was several years ago!).   But-  If you are planning on doing a display or competition level piece and you want the highest grade of primer finish possible-  an airbrush layer of Vallejo Surface primer is probably going to be the ticket.  If you dont have an airbrush yourself and want the super smooth prime this stuff can achieve- its liekly someone at your local shop can help you out.  Learn the fine art of bribery,  the cake does not have to be a lie!


And that- brings me to the second portion of my post- the first having gotten alot longer than intended O.o  Stupid paint ranting!!

How do you use the spray paint when its humid or cold outside? Or maybe even raining/snowing a little?

Well, I didnt have the huge snow problem some people did.  But it still rains here in the winter ;)   And like everyone else I like to keep painting.   And even though I'm a nut,  and a I stash a bunch of pre-primed squirrels to paint- wait... nevermind, close enough...

So,  even though I always have primed stuff to paint, I inevitably have a mood swing to paint something else. Something thats obviously totally unprimed(and usually unassembled and needs a bunch of converting too).

What do you do when its like 3 am in the middle of  December and you just have to prime something RIGHT then?  And its raining?

I did some laundry.  Yep.  A big fat load of laundry.   Now before you think- neurotic!- theres a method here!

I could either try to prime my minis and stand out in the freezing cold and dry them with my heat gun-  or- after I put my laundry in the DRIER!!!  I could put a box in front of the vent to make a pocket of warm dry air ^_^

And in that pocket of warm dry air- my genius of winter priming was born.

For the technical side- get a box big enough to catch the out flowing air, and not tip over.    Set it at an angle so you get a little bit of swirling-  but you don't want the vent blowing straight into the box-  if you try that you get like a crazy vortex-  I didn't try spraying paint into that-  but I don't imagine the results would have been pleasant unless you want to paint yourself.   So,  just get some warm air in the box  then spray the minis.  once you get the paint on them-  THEN put them into the full air flow from the vent to dry them.  It doesn't take very long.  One last tip-  when you take your minis outside to do this-  don't spray the primer onto cold metal miniatures.  That will almost always cause the paint to turn gummy and if it does ever dry it will usually take days(and it usually doesn't ever dry right.  If your drier blows lint out the vent(mine doesn't) you might wanna do something about that before putting sticky paint covered minis in front of it.  Otherwise- there shouldn't be anyother complications :D

For me the biggest bonus of this whole method- was I could trick myself into doing some laundry in order to prime like 5 or 10 miniatures.  Otherwise it was often 'Its too cold out- I'll do laundry tomorrow!!"


Here ends part one- I'll edit in dealing with humidity and heat later,  but right now Im too hot and I need some tea.  Was like 95 frikkin degrees today! O.o

Added May 5th, 2013

In Part I we covered some pointers on what sprays you can use affordably and some simple tricks on how to work around cold and wet weather.

In this addition, (which I will also add to the original article, I just added a new blog post to make sure those that wanted the additional info had a better opportunity to see the fresh post )   I'm going to also go over the more general environmental effects of humidity/dry air,  and heat- since summer time should eventually be coming to the northern hemishpere those of us in North America & Europe should shrug off the snow and finally get some sunshine!  And hopefully my winter priming tips will help out the blokes down under!

So,  everyone has heard that high humidity causes untold havoc with spray can primers right?  That it makes it go on clumpy,  or turn 'fuzzy'  or all sorts of stuff.  I cant even really keep track of all the absurd claims Ive read on the forums over the years.

What it comes down to, is pretty simple-  you have to be smarter than the paint.  Almost every single case of bad primer FUBAR is operator error.   Yes, bad batches of paint do happen,  but its pretty rare,  quality control on modern manufactured goods these days is at a reliable standard.   So, with the understanding that the spray primer you are using has been stored properly,  is of relatively recent purchase,  and was shaken thoroughly before use- if theres a problem when it hits the surface- whats the cause?   You!


People like to blame thier tools when something doesnt work out right.  But lets be honest here- how many cans of that paint have you sprayed?   If you were a video game character,  and that can of paint was a consumable item you character gained a skill proficiency in- would you even have a basic skill achievement unlocked?     Spray Can: 20    Maybe?   If you dont use the stuff for DYI purposes or other craft projects maybe not even 20  lol

Some people might be thinking "How hard can it be?  You jsut shake the can, and spray the stuff by pushing the nozzle!"  And  those steps do seem simple,  I mean, they're actually the instructions printed on the cans label right?

Wait- you guys do read the instructions on the cans right?  And realize that different brands have slightly different instructions?    Like some only need to be shaken for a minute,  some say 3-5 minutes for the first use.   Some say hold 12-16 inches away.....some say let dry 10-15 minutes between coats,   some only 5 minutes...

Whats the point?   Know your material ;)   Since in the first portion of my article I wrote about the Colorplace spray paints,  for the rest of my article I will be writing using those as the 'generic'  basis for spray paints since they're what I use.   (I have used many others, notably Krylons and Rustoleums- so if anyone has questions about a specific type that you already have and need help with,  feel free to drop your questions in the comments below).    In this example pic is a nice smooth 2 quick, but even layers of black over white styrene.   This wasnt the first spray- this was after I had shaken the can-  the first spray was for the Streaks pic below lol.   But This is the 'base' picture you can compare the others too so you can see whats wrong with them-  if you need the comparisons.


So- lets define the Runs,  Fuzzes, Streaks and Stickies for anyone who's not familiar with them yet.   And so I dont scare anyone off- they're not scary forms of intestinal distress that result in Nurglings flying out of anyones ass(or other orifices).



Runs- this is what happens when you spray too much paint too close to the surface- it actually pools up and will run down.   This is hard to do on infantry minis, so we usually only see it on tanks- usually Rhinos and land raiders that 'Little Timmy' got and very enthusiastically tried to paint(ironically its usually full grown adults that dump a whole can onto a single tank...)








Streaks- you lazy bastard.  You didn't shake your paint enough.  Know how I can tell?  Primers arent supposed to be translucent!  That means the pigment didnt get mixed into the thinner,  so the stuff that sprayed out came out streaky.  It also means you got lucky-  the opposite of Streaky- is chunky,  and that usually blocks the pickup tube or nozzle and ruins the can of paint.  Shake that stuff.  Especially if its not the 1$ stuff.





Stickies- So lets say you did shake it just right, and you're laying down good even coats.   Whats this 'Sticky' deal?  Its about you being impatient!  Spray on that layer of paint.  Go eat a sammich.  Go look check out my freinds at the http://www.facebook.com/groups/WGCconsortium/ just do something for 10 minutes while that paint dries.  If you spray another layer of paint,  over a layer of wet paint-  you get the Stickies.   Which is paint that might not ever cure properly.  It might take 8 hours to dry all the way.   It might still be sticky.   If it does dry to the touch,  it might still be soft underneath because the stuff inside cant dry right.    It usually means you have to strip the paint off and start over.   Its closely related to the Runs-  but its a little worse-  because it shoes you have the skill to put the paint on properly- jsut that you werent patient enough and you FAILED!!.    So dont do it.   Theres no picture for this one,  I didnt see the point of piling up paint on something for a demonstration pic....



And now the FUZZES!!!   Sounds almost cute,  like kittehs and teddy bears?   Its not really,  at least not when its something thats going onto your miniatures and makes their once smooth features look like they are afflicted with some sort of gangrenous or rusty skin affliction!

See the fuzzy residue where I rubbed it with my finger? 
You see,  the common myth behind the Fuzzing,  is that its all about evil humidity.  Ive read numerous forum posts on it and its the #1 culprit.  And,  while I do concede that humidity is a factor,  its not the cause of fuzzing.  Sorry humidity conspiracy guys.  I can recreate Fuzzing, at will, in Arizona, with 15% humidity on any given day.   See,  I watch the weather alot due to my migraine being triggered by weather fluctuations.  And it just struck me as odd that humidity would shut down spray painting so completely,  so I researched a few other industries that spray in humid areas- like New Orleans and Seattle-  and no reports of complications.  Which indicated they just used the stuff different because those where the conditions they were used to.   So-  thats the key folks.    Humidity CHANGES.    If you're used to spraying one way- and try to spray that exact same way when the humidity has shot up or down 40%- the results are likely to be considerably different.   Its also worth noting- that somtimes the the fuzzing paint wont even stick to the miniatures- when that happens you know for sure its a case of spraying from too far away!

The Mechanics of Fuzzing:  So what really causes Fuzzing?  Simple, really simple.  Its dried paint!  If you're getting a grainy/gritty finish on your models you are holding your can TOO FAR away from the surface of your minis when spraying them.  By the time the paint gets there some of it has already started to dry,  it mixes with the paint thats still wet, and it clumps up, forming a rough textured paint.  FUZZING!!

So,  why is it worse when its humid?  I wondered that too.  I even sat down and sprayed paint through the mist from a humidifier to experiment.  And talked to a freind thats a chemist.  My working hypothesis is that with higher humidity levels, the fuzzing is likely more noticeable because the paint particles bond with some water vapor in the air-  this makes the paint 'chunks' of pigment alot larger than the normally are in terms of surface area.  Then the fluffier water-saturated  'Fuzzy' pigment pieces adhere to the miniature just like they normally would.   But the fuzzing is more pronounced-  think of it sort of like breakfast cereal, a normal pigment particle is supposed to be like, a grain of salt- but if it gets fluffed up and instead is like a Rice Crispy because a bunch of them get stuck together- its a little easier to see why the surface of your miniatures get a little rough and lumpy instead of nice and smooth.


So- how do you slay the Fuzzies?  We have the technology....we have the knowledge....we have the 1$ spray paint...(I do anyway lol)     Its how close you hold the spray can.   On humid days you have to adjust, spray closer.  Yes,  think means you have to also spray faster- if you dont you you will get 'Runs' from spraying too close.   But you can spray quick close layers, and let each dry thoroughly.

You need to practice.  Its really that simple.  If you only spray prime something once every few months you just are not proficient with one of the tools you use.   Primer is the paint layer on which you put all your other work- some of us have a hundred of dollars of vallejo, GW, P3 and Reaper paints on our shelves.  We spend hours watching youtube tutorials on how to wet blend, use oil washes,  airbrush,  highlight and a bunch of other techniques-  all of which rely on a layer of primer.

Practice using some spray cans,  it doesnt have to be on miniatures.  Its actually better to NOT practice on miniatures until you get good at it.  I always tell people to practice on garbage- if you're going to throw it away-  and its a plastic material similar to a space marine tank- spray some primer on it before tossing it out.

What should you do if you already have a batch on miniatures that are BeFuzzled? Well, sadly we have limited options here. If they are dry dusty fuzzies- washes tehm off in hte sink with some good dish soap and a gentle brushing- if you're lucky it all comes off and theres nothing left sticking and you jsut learned you hold your spray at least a foor farther away than it needs to be!    But,  if you have the stuck on clump fuzzies-  hopefully they are metal- if so you can grab a cheap brush and try brushing on some paint thinner or mineral spirits.  Ive been able to break down the fuzzies on some metals like this before, the thinner can dissolve the fuzz into paint- but be careful- after it gets brushed on and soaks in its sticky just like wet spray paint!  Some times the texture smooths out, soetimes it doesnt.  You could try that technique on plastic and resin, but you would have to be very cautious about letting the thinner pool in any crevices.  And it might just be better to strip the miniatures and start over- if you go that route http://mistressofminis.blogspot.com/2012/11/stripping.html will strip of the Colorplace stuff.  And its cheap, also available at walmart- and its not stinky.


Another thing, when you're priming, whether you decide to go with Black/grey/white,  you do not have to completely coat the miniature in a solid layer of primer.   Example- a black primed mini does not have to be pitch/solid black all over.   If theres still bare metal peeking out in the crevices-  thats ok!!   If you try to cover every possible surface with a spray you will cover and obscure some fine details.    The important parts to prime are the raised areas, especially ones where the miniature will be touched/handled sinces thats where the paint is most likely to get worn off-  thats where the primer needs to be to give the paint a foundation to adhere to.  As thats what primers job is-  to give the paint a way to stick to the miniature.  The parts in those recesses-  those areas dont get worn down- so they dont need the primer to hold the paint on them.  If you're worried about the colors not matching- its not a huge issue- most quality paints- even when thinning your paints,  are color fast enough that a layer or two and you wont notice the difference.  And add in a wash to shade the recesses, and you're on your way.


I think this pretty much covers most of the basic 'evils' of Priming.  If theres enough interest I might do an advanced priming article.  Cover 'Zenital'  or two-tone priming for speed painting with washes & glazes,  and priming with non standard colors,  and where to acquire them.  That would mostly be for those in the US,  its hard to source things for the European readers,  especially since shipping prices have gotten so absurd :/