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HOBBY ADVICE

TUTORIAL: PREPARING HOBBY GRAVEL

A hobby gravel – along with sand, gravel is a basing resource that each modeller should be acquainted with. Popular to an extent where some companies tried to brand it. For me, gravel and sand are supplies that I avoid buying in hobby stores. Why spend your money on thingsg that you can acquire yourself, especially when you know what to look for and how to prepare it? I preffer spending my cash on paints and awesome miniatures. Not that I ever went gravel hunting. Just kept in mind that modelling treasures like this might be found unexpectedly and to take advantage of such find if luck favours me…

Backstory:

One of these magic moments happened just few days ago. I was walking my dog, decided to take a new route and visit a small defile left by a construction long time gone. Suddenly I stumbled upon a huge pile of perfect gravel. By ‘perfect’ I mean slim, thin, not too sandy, sturdy pieces. Something ideal for basing. I marked the spot in my memory and got back there, armed with a small container, few hours later. Took ‘the sample’ and upon reaching home, spent few minutes preparing it for later use…

I USED:

  • Thick sieve
  • Rare strainer
  • Few plastic containers

1  First I separated the biggest chunks from the rest of precious gravel. These were a bit sandy so I left them for further cleaning (water and toothbrush will do).

2  I then used a rare strainer to separate medium sized pieces from the smallest ones. Medium sized pieces are perfect for scenic rocks, or more planned surfaces. I like to have these in a separate container, just to pick what I need at a whim.

3  What's left was a pile of small, flat pieces - ideal for standard miniature basing. This is what you usually get, when purchasing a hobby gravel in a store. As you can see, a lot of sand and dirt was filtered alongside gravel. Fortunatelly, nothing that a thick sieve couldn't handle.

Done:

Sounds so simple, that you probably ask yourself why have I done a tutorial out of it? I decided to TUT this to show the extreme level of simplicity required to prepare your own gravel. Sure – there is a catch to it: you gotta find some gravel in the first place – still, unless you live at the North pole – one day you will just bump into it. Old construction sites are a good place to start looking. Good hunting.

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TUTORIAL: PHOTOGRAPHIC SETUP

Taking nice looking pictures of painted miniatures might be a real pain in the ass. In many cases this is a very frustrating and time consuming thing to do. I myself struggle with this part of hobbying. My GALLERY is full of pictures – some of which are good, some of which are bad, but for each picture actually featured, I had to take at least three others, which were trashed afterwards. Last year I had a breakthrough, with a professional camera being replaced by a Samsung Galaxy A5 phone. This switch buffed my photographic results tenfold. Not that my pictures started to look really good – nah, they just stopped looking like utter failure. Am I an authority when it comes to taking pictures? Surely not, but if you like my pictures and struggle with photographing your miniatures – maybe I will be able to help you – just a bit.

So, instead of telling you what to do, I would show you how I do it and what I actually use. I would also give you couple hints of what to avoid, when featuring your miniatures.

I USED:

  • Samsung Galaxy A5
  • Tripod
  • Shadow Tent
  • Grey Background
  • Two strong, white light sources

THE CAMERA:

As mentioned before, I used a professional camera before I switched to Samsung Galaxy A5. My main problem with a pro-camera was a lot of crazy options, which I did not understood very well. The complexity of a real-deal camera was just beyond my grasp. Sure, I lowered ISO and tinkered with other settings but to no avail. All the while pictures I took looked really, reeeally bad, with colours going crazy. Upon obtaining a new phone I took some random pictures and to my surprise found out that they look amazing, when compared to what I used to get before. Phone camera options might be limited, but that does not necessarily mean a bad thing. Phones are designed to be user friendly and idiot-proof. That works for me 😉

The current camera setup I use is:

  • The highest possible resolution (13m pixels, 4:3)
  • Auto settings

As you can see – not much to brag about. The best thing about my beloved Samsung is how people react when I tell them all the pics were taken with a phone – priceless…

TRIPOD:

Sometimes I use a cheap (about 10€) tripod, other times I just stack some boxes on one another and hold the camera still on top of it with a “milliput”. Regardless of which method I choose – everything is about keeping my camera perfectly still, slightly above and centered on the miniatures. This helps me keep my pictures sharp and of the same quality. I preffer to keep the camera about 25-30cm from the miniature – this way I get the best results.

In my opinion there’s no need for a professional tripod – here’s how I do it:

SHADOW TENT:

This one is great for keeping the colours balanced and close to real-deal. Shadow tent is a cheap addition to the ‘allmighty photographer’s studio’. Totally underpriced for what it does. For me it eliminated any need to tinker with the pictures in graphic program. Except for adding my logo and frame off course…

BACKGROUND:

Modellers use a variety of different, interresting backgrounds to take pictures with. In my case grey seems to work best. Blue and white are difficult to take pictures with, sometimes turning colours to a juicy crazyness, or blurring white. Black in the other hand reflects light, unless the picture is made in deep shadow. Ever seen these pictures of miniatures, where base’s rant and deep shadows are swallen by the background? Seeing these I’m pretty sure that the real deal miniature looks totally different. So a piece of grey paper it is for me. Not best, but does it’s job and does not mess with colours too much, which for me is the top priority.

LIGHT SETUP:

Many times I had a great set up with camera being positioned perfectly, a shadow tent and trusted background in place – still everything went wrong due to bad light positioning.This one is not difficult, but have a great impact on the quality of the pictures.

I use two Velleman VTLAMP6, which provide a strong, white light on a vast area. There are no more light sources in the room, with windows being covered. The primary light source is located behind the camera and about 25-30cm above it. It is centered on the miniature so that everything, including recesses is clear to see. The secondary light source is located over the miniature and slightly before it. This way shadows are delicate, colours are kept sharp and natural and the camera isn’t blinded by the secondary light source. Why two light sources instead of just one? Mainly to show as much of the real paint job without areas covered in deep shadow, as possible.

Beware of the shadows! If I wanted to deceive you I would have faked additional highlights on all the areas by using only one light source positioned vertically over the miniature. Cheating with light might bring some great results in the picture, but these will be instantaneously dispelled upon seeing the miniature in real life.

BAD PICTURES:

What is a ‘bad picutre’? I would know – I took thousands of these over the years. White going off the scale. Black being too dark. Colours being juicy to a point of totally unreal. Colours going yellow. Shadows being too deep. Light being bounced off some colours. Colours being blurred. Backround being too dark and messing up the colours. All of these and more. Below are some examples of pictures I took, some of which I was even happy about at the time. Now – just can’t look at this crap, cause none of these shows the actual miniature, that I worked hard to paint.

And here’s the newest one, taken with setup mentioned in this tutorial. Overall this is the closest to the real-deal that I am able to produce. I would say that with my monitor setup this is a 95% match. Quite a difference when compared to the previous pictures isn’t it?

So – now you know all the photographic tricks up in my sleeves. A phone camera, tripod, shadow tent, simple grey background and two strong light sources in a dark room. I really know that feeling when you are proud of a paint job and want to share it, but the pictures look like crap, or totally unreal, or both. If this tutorial helps at least one hobbyist to feel good about his pictures – then it was worth it 🙂

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TUTORIAL: WHEN HANDS SAFETY WENT WRONG

Scarred hand x

“Khorne cares not from whence the blood flows, only that it does…” and in case of our favorite hobby – Let’s just say that it sustains Khorne much more than you can imagine. If you haven’t had any nasty damage done to your hands during hobby labour, than you probably don’t know what true modelling is about! To be short – Yes, a lot of nasty cuts and damage happens to modellers all over the world at daily basis. Most basic are the modelling knife cuts and punctures but believe me – there’s plenty of more serious damage going on all the time. How can we prevent such damage? Well, otherwise than being extra careful – and this not always helps – we can’t. Now you probably wander ‘so what is it that this article is actually about?’ – a fine question, let me answer: This article is all about what happens after you’ve injured your precious hands.

1  BE PREPARED

There’s nothing worse than being caught off guard. Be sure to anticipate an injury at some point and keep some purified water, plasters and a bandage nearby – in case you would need them. Also it is recommended to know where in a hand the most important veins are located. The best way to learn it is to GOOGLE IT. This way, once your hands start bleeding, you will have both confidence and means to deal with an injury the right way…

Scarred hand veins

2  STAY CALM

Nasty hand injuries happen but unless they are located on the inside of your wrist, or you’ve just chopped off a finger – they shouldn’t pose an immediate threat. Sure, they are bloody to a point when you start to wander if death is what’s comming next – but hey – not a chance for that. In worst case scenario a nerve could’ve been damaged, but these tend to regenerate over time. So no matter what – keep calm and reasonable…

Scarred hand calm

3  FIRST AID

Once you’ve located the cut, make sure to clean-up the wound using purified water. (Do not use alcohol!). It is very important, especially due to workbenches being full of dust, sand, pieces of plastic and overall dirt – modelling leftovers. Once the wound is clean, use a piece of bandage or a plaster to cover it (Do not use cotton whool as it will stick to the wound making any later change of dressing difficult).  To help stop the bleeding keep the wounded hand up, pressing the bandaged wound with your free hand…

Scarred hand 1st aid

4  PROFESSIONAL HELP

Most wounds do not require professional assistance. Small cuts are rather easy to deal with, but sometimes – when things went bananas – it’s good to try and seek a Doctors help. Better to have a nasty wound sutured than to parade with a malformed finger to the rest of your days, especially if there’s a chance that hand’s basic functions are endangered (I know the latter from my own experience, as one of my fingers is almost out of the game). Be sure to call/visit a doctor ASAP if any of the below are true:

  • The wound won’t stop bleeding,
  • There is a tension in the wounded finger, you are unable to perform some movements,
  • You are unabple to straighten the finger/s,
  • You feel like some really crazy shit is going on with the wound and it should be cared by a pro,

Scarred hand help

 

MY OWN ADVENTURE:

During my time as a modeller I had my share of some really nasty injuries. The testimony of theese is left over my hands in form of scars. I even had one of my right hand’s knuckles damaged to a point of no turning back to it’s previous function. Still the most bloody of my hand injuries took place in 2011. I remember like if it was yesterday. A sunny day during a weekend with me working on the floor near my old workbench. I was preparing a series of terrain pieces for Warhammer Fantasy Battles ( Yup – there was such a game in the old days 😛 ). I was cutting some styrofoam into basic shape for hills. Done a lot of these and let routine take over. All of a sudden I felt a burning pain in my left thumb.

Scarred hand y

As it happened – I almost completely sliced off the entire top part of my thumb’s knuckle along with a piece of styrodure. At first there was no blood, only pain and a bit of ‘what the hell just happened?’. Moments later blood gushed from the wound. I thought that maybe I’ve injured some vital vein or something – there was a lot of blood, at least much more than ever before. Pressing the injury I’ve checked out google for any information about possibility of veins being in the vicinity of the wound. Fortunatelly for me I cut a knuckle along with it’s neighborhood, instead of slicing through the inner left part of the finger. So I’ve calmed down and cleaned up the wound. First using plain water (not so smart, but I’m hardcore when it comes to injuries – what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger), then preparing a makeshift bandage…

Scarred hand 1(That looks nasty doesn’t it? That’s how a hand injury looks like – don’t let yourself be overwhelmed with panic once you cut yourself this way.)

I took things into my own hands (or rather hand, as the other one was currently out of commission) and prepared a special form of dressing for the injured finger. My reasoning went like this: I didn’t wanted to go to hospital, await for three to five hours to finally be stitched. I also wanted to keep my finger operational in the future (both near and distant). I wasn’t thinking smart, just followed modellers calling on this. I cut two splints out of a coca-cola bottle, desinfected them with alcohol and used a plaster to secure the finger with them. I also bandaged the wound itself and actually taped the entire construction. This dressing was to be switched couple of times a day – leaving more and more of the finger in the open so that the wound could breathe. The key point was for the wound to stay immobile, not to let it open and start bleeding again…

Scarred hand 2

This looks crazy funny when I see it now – but back then I was proud of my creations. Be it by a blessing or merely luck following idiots – it worked. Right now a scar is in the place of former wound, but at least the finger works fine and no nerve has been severed. It is fully operational with all it’s functions being kept.

Scarred hand 3

So – we’ve learned, we’ve laught – don’t do that at home etc. The final advice I can provide you with is once again – keep calm. Sooner or later an injury will happen to you – keep panic at bay and follow with the first aid. If you’ve prepared yourself beforehand – it will go much smoother and the wound would have a bigger chance to heal nicely.

 

Hope this one is helpful.

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TUTORIAL: REMOVING MOLD LINES

I’ve done a lot of scraping lately and at some point (inevitably) asked myself – why won’t I do a Tutorial about it? Many modellers struggle with metal miniatures, and especially their preparation. Some of my friends were even complaining about how thankless the task of scraping mold lines is for them, while in truth I find the process to be both simple and fast. But to be so – one must possess know how first…

I USED:

  • Modelling Knife,
  • Sharp edged File,
  • Round edged File,

Removing Moldlines 1

GRIP:

One of the most important things to remember in handling the Modelling Knife is the GRIP. I use a simple technique of holding the knife in the crook of my fingers while leaving the tumb free. The edge is always kept pointed outward (well, not always as I tend to cut my fingers far to often – but the basic rule holds).

Removing Moldlines grip

ANGLE:

We’ve already estabilished that the cutting edge should be pointed outward, but what angle to use? I found that the angle that works the best for me is something around 45 degree. It provides a smooth movement and is capable of removing thin mold lines. Some modellers like to keep their edge at a 90 degree angle as it tends to remove mold lines faster, but I must warn you that it usually ends up damaging the miniature’s surface. The friction is just too strong.

 

Removing Moldlines 2

Removing Moldlines 3

MOVEMENT:

You have a free thumb – why not use it? I like to to hold the miniature with my left hand, moving it around under the knife. I keep the thumb of my right hand on the miniature, applying preassure and using it as the point to which the knife will be moved. This way I have a perfect control over the speed and the angle of the knife.

Removing Moldlines 4

FILE:

Some modellers like to use files instead ofa  knife. It surely provides a smoother and more elegant surface, but takes much more time to accomplish, what knife does in merely seconds. I still use files in these two cases:

1  UNEVEN SURFACE

I use Sharp edged file each time an uneven surface like hair, refracted clothes, teeth of a chainblade etc. appears. I use long, smooth moves betwen the lines of the slot – usually one such move does the job of removing mold lines just fine.

Removing Moldlines 6

2  SMOOTHING

Once I’m done with the knife and Sharp edged file I use a Round edged file to smooth all the surface. My moves are light and fast, just brushing over the sides of the miniature.

Removing Moldlines 5

Here’s a quick video of how I do it:

And the end result (which you can actually see in much better quality in any of my galleries):

Removing Moldlines end

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TUTORIAL: PREPARING A RESIN MINIATURE FOR UNDERCOAT

A miniature made of resin requires a special kind of treatment before it can undergo the undercoating. Here’s my way of preparing such miniatures:

VIDEO TUTORIAL:

I USED:

  • Toothbrush,
  • Cup,
  • Alcohol,
  • Soap,
  • Strainer,
  • Running water,

Resin 2

PROCEDURE:

1  Dip the miniature in alcohol and brush it gently using a toothbrush,

2  Using soap and toothbrush clean up the miniature,

3  Rinse the miniature under running water,

!  You can use a strainer to protect smaller pieces from falling in to the sink hole,

Check out my youtube channel for more video Tutorials…
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TUTORIAL: SPRAY UNDERCOAT

Every once in awhile I stumble upon a question of how to undercoat miniatures properly. Well – there are many techniques of undercoating miniatures and each individual hobbyist has his own favorite style.  I’ve figured that instead of writing all the know-how again and again – I can prepare a solid Tutorial of what I consider to be my favorite technique and just link it to all the hobbyists in need. Below you will find both a video version and extended picture version of Tutorial: Spray Undercoat – Eight Sides Technique.

TUTORIAL: SPRAY UNDERCOAT - VIDEO VERSION:

TUTORIAL: SPRAY UNDERCOAT - EXTENDED VERSION:

1  I start by preparing a setup for the miniatures. I immobilize the miniatures on a piece of wood using a protective duct tape. I place them so that I have access to the biggest part of their bodies both before and after turning them around.

undercoat 1

2  Now comes the time to shake the spray can a bit. Usually it takes between one to three minutes. I don't believe in all that 'ten minutes shakeup' bulsh... In my entire life I never done this for more than three minutes. So I just shake the can up and down in a quick succession. Once the ball inside it slides smoothly i proceed to the next step.

undercoat 2

!  WARNING - Some sprays are just like girls - usual shaking up and down can turn out to be fatal. For example - Army Painter Primers tend to get sandy and rought after shaking them too much. I always move the can in small circles so that the ball inside is sliding on the bottom.

undercoat 21

3  Time to start spraying! I spray the miniatures from a distance between 20-30cm (that's 8-12 inches), with small controlled bursts at an 45 degree angle. I start with spraying the miniatures from up and down, skipping right and left side for the time being.

!  WHEN I'M DONE I WAIT FOR AROUND TEN MINUTES BEFORE PROCEEDING TO THE NEXT STEP.

undercoat 3

4  I repeat the action but this time I spray both the right and left side of the miniatures. Still I use the same distance of 20-30cm, same angle and small bursts.

!  WHEN I'M DONE I WAIT FOR AROUND TEN MINUTES BEFORE PROCEEDING TO THE NEXT STEP.

undercoat 4

5  I turn around the miniatures so that the unpainted surface is fully accessible.

undercoat 5

6  I repeat step '3' spraying the miniatures from the up and down side, skipping right and left side, following to previous indications (20-30cm, 45 degree, small bursts).

!  WHEN I'M DONE I WAIT FOR AROUND TEN MINUTES BEFORE PROCEEDING TO THE NEXT STEP.

undercoat 6

6  I repeat step '4' spraying the miniatures from the right and left side, following to previous indications (20-30cm, 45 degree, small bursts).

!  WHEN I'M DONE I WAIT FOR AROUND TEN MINUTES FOR THE MINIATURES TO DRY UP.

undercoat 7

That’s all – no magic or special tricks involved – just plain, easy technique. Some may consider eight layers to be too much, but I like to have my miniatures undercoated properly with no ‘shine’ visible and a solid layer of paint. Still if done properly – no detail will be dulled.

I hope you like this Tutorial – if so – please go and spread the word so that no newbe will have any problems with undercoating ever again 🙂

 

This Tutorial is my debut at youtube – you can see my channel here…

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TUTORIAL: 10 TIPS TO KEEP YOUR HOBBY SPACE ORGANIZED

The end times are upon us! Well maybe not upon ‘us’, still we will say ‘good bye’ to year 2015 pretty soon. I’ve figured that this will be the best time to start cleaning the Workbench. Usually I practice  small cleanups between commissions but it’s good to do some grand cleaning once in a while. And when I say ‘grand’ I mean throwing everything to the floor, cleaning it and then puting it back to it’s righteous place. All of that sounds like a real ‘paint in the trass’ but believe me – it is not that big of a deal. To help me out with organizing my working space thus speeding up the process of cleaning I try to go by these ten practical rules:

1) ‘Keep your tools in one place’
I try to keep all of my none-brush tools in one place. A single HobbyZone Modular Brush &Tool Organizer is a wonderful gadget to keep the tools in but before I got one I just used a metal can. I also preffer not to keep the tolls locked in a drawer. It is easier to see the tools all the time and just pick the right one instead of romp in a drawer.

narzędzia
2) ‘Keep the water sheltered’
I used to keep water in two Games Workshop’s water pots but after I spilled it all over the workbench for a thousandth time I went to a local supermarket and spent that 2€ on a bowl with solid cover. It keeps the water clean without the need to change it every couple of hours, stops evaporation and most of all it prevents me of spilling water during cleanups.
I still use GW’s water pots but not within the bounds of their designation.

woda
3) ‘Prioritize your brushes’
Once a hobbyist is strongly into painting the brushes collection expands to an enormous size. The reasons are many. Brushes tend to get damaged, get old and shaggy and some are being repurposed after a period of time. It is good to keep the ‘priority’ brush set as a whole and apart from the rest. For example in a special organizer or a can so that it can be moved to other places without the need to split it. Once a priority set is estabilished you will be able to draw a brush from it without considering if it’s of good condition. (That is if You are keeping the priority brush set updated).

pędzle
4) ‘Segregate your projects…’
I know the looks of a stockpile of miniatures at different stages of paintjob being thrown all over my desk. Utter chaos and lack of organization resulted in some projects being pushed ‘for another time’. Sometimes it took years to finally get to work on a particular project. Nowadays I tend to keep all of my future projects (both commissions and my private collection stuff)  ordered and organized in separate boxes. I keep all of them at sight as it lets me plan a probable execution queue and keeps me motivated 🙂 I recommend to purchase some cheap, clear, plastic kitchen containers. Once again a local supermarket is a good place to look for these. The ones in the picture costed me less than 8€ for a complete set of 25.

Projekty
5) ‘…also segregate your hobby materials’
Kitchen paper, plasticard, small rocks, pieces of cloth, modelling sand, pieces of cork, airbrush cleaners, toothpicks, sealing tape, cardboard, plastic sprues, static grass, etc… all the imaginable sizes and purposes of stuff! All of it should be kept in a rather orderly manner. I recommend some clear containers once more, much bigger this time tho 🙂 Some similar sized boxes are a good idea too, especially if you have a locker to keep them in.

posypkimateriały zapasowe
6) ‘Set a MUST STAY CLEAR zone’
This should be a priority. In my case a ‘must stay clear’ zone is an exact space where I work. That doesn’t mean I keep the spot clear all the time, just clear it up each time I finish working. I use a PlayMat to mark the space and to ease the cleaning process. (All the shavings, little trash, dust, sand grains etc. may be cleared out with a single swipe to a trash can.)

mata
7) ‘Zip your bitz’
If I’d only done this when I used to play Lego blocks. Bitz and miniature parts are not so much different than Lego. They too have a variety of shapes, value, purposes, rarity and belong to certain sets and themes. The best way to keep your bitz in order is to segregate and keep them zipped in clear bags. It also speeds up the process of finding particular pieces on demand. I know – it sounds rather discouraging but once it is properly done it will stay that way for years to come.

bitz worybitz pudło
8) ‘Keep the stock low’
Probably the grievest hobby mistake I ever made was to accumulate an enormous stock of reserve paints. Many times I bought out a bunch of paints to be certain I will have a decade’s stock of it. For example when Games Workshop announced a new colour palette and after that when some of the new colours happened to be useful. Allright – when a paint you tend to use on your huge army runs out of production it is a mighty blow to the guts, still there’s plenty of paint producers in the market. Almost every paint has it’s counterpart from a different producer. Keeping stocks low is worth the risk as once you decide to change your techniques or switch to other paints hugo reserve stock will laught in your face. I know what I’m saying 😉

zapasy
9) ‘Do not afraid to say goodbye’
When you tend to not use a particular thing for a really long time – it probably means that you will do much better without it. Escpecially when it comes to particular paint colours or used up brushes. Think of them as thing that take up space and disorganize your working place.
[WARNING] Do not trash these things tho! There’s probably a nice local hobby store where kids learn of how to paint – your shaggy brush is theirs ‘dream come true undercoater’!

nie wyrzucaj
10) ‘Keep it regular’
Cleaning should be a natural habit. Cleanups are best performed regularly as otherwise you risk growing lazy and overcomed with mess. The more often you do them the less time consuming it will be.

regular

So now go and clean up your workbench! Take a picture of it after you’re done cause next week it might prove helpful – a christmas giveaway in form of a nice and rare miniature will go to one of the hobbyists who’ll happen to shows me their clean and organized hobby workbenches.

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