A Malifaux "Stitched Together" Proxy

 This was indeed originally a dried tea bag, to be used as a proxy figure for Wyrd Games' Malifaux 32mm tabletop skirmish game.

  Stitched Together are essentially sewn-together figures of leather/burlap filled with the bloody, rotting contents of their victims. There is a no-longer-manufactured line of white metal figures for these and plastic ones in development, but in the meantime I was racking my brain to try and figure out something to use/make as a stand-in proxy - I settled on one of my wife's tea bags that she was kind enough to "donate" to the cause.

  The exterior once dried was thoroughly sealed with slightly watered-down PVA glue to firm it up a bit and ideally prevent spoilage. I applied several thinned coats of paint in blood-esque colors to stain the lower portions and added shading a definition to things like the string and folds of the bag. I went back using Ben Komets' "loaded brush" technique to highlight and blend the upper portions so it would look less "fresh" and more weathered.

  Finally, I repainted almost the entire tag - the time frame from the Malifaux game is the early 20th Century, circa 1906 as of the most recent published materials - instead of "300 years of excellence" we now have "200 years" and thorough weathering after color matching and repainting was done.

 After it was all sealed with 2 layers of UV-resistant gloss and a coat of matte sealant, I went and used my go-to color for glossy fresh blood on the lower portion, for added nastiness.

Comments and feedback appreciated!


More Rasputina Work-In-Progress

 I managed to get a fair bit of work done on Rasputina yesterday and took pictures to see if anything looked out of place. I've given up on the face, it is what it is (one of my recent setbacks was painting her face and feeling like I'd ruined it) - gotten it to where it's "acceptable" to me and that'll do.

 I think the back of her coat - around the belt, small of her back, etc. - needs a bit more shading (I'm going to add in purple in deeper shadows across the figure to tie her in with the rest of the crew) but otherwise I'm fairly happy with how things have turned out so far.

 I'm still trying to come to grips with using a wet palette while also trying to play up her "cannibal" aspect with staining down her front (fur trim, front of coat, patches on the knees) without being over the top. I think the blending's turned out well with her skirt, coat, and pants (painted with a wet palette), while everything else was painted in my previous style.

Feedback would be appreciated!


A Wild Update Appears!

 My first attempt at painting since getting my cast off my wrist. I was trying to tidy up what I think was a horribly-painted face from a few months ago (prompting me to surrender), and I think it's not so bad now. I also added some stains and highlights to the fur trim. Going to get the rest of Rasputina done next.

 I'm aiming for a Russian Uniform green coat that will be shaded to blue, blood-stained fur trim/clothes, and a halfway-decent pale skin tone.

 I'm essentially trying to get an end result similar to Rasputina from the Wyrd Children of December box art, plus blood stains.

Feedback appreciated!


Follow Up...

 Well, my last post was somewhat of a gripe over a busy schedule and lack of painting time. Since then, I was working on an entry for the Rainbow Brush painting competition organized by Marike Reimer - I didn't mention it or post pictures because it was a competition entry. ("I'm working on a figure but I can't show anybody pictures of it" seemed kinda a non-starter so far as painting blog material goes.)

 Well, the bad news is that I was in a car accident in the middle of July and broke 2 bones in the wrist of my painting/primary hand - nobody else injured, but the car's still under repair. The other bad news is that I've not been able to paint since.

GenCon was a good time, it was nice catching up with a lot of people I've only chatted with on Facebook. I took some pictures, bought some games, saw a lot of cool painted figures. I also want to give a big "thank you"to Marike, who when I told her about my accident and my half-finished entry, she gave me one of the custom "Rainbow Brush" dice that all the other entrants received - I'm glad the competition went well, there were a lot of entries, and a lot of money was raised for a good cause.

 The good news is that I'm out of my cast/splint/bandage (it took a while and a lot of wrapping changes before they realized I had broken bones) and have been working on prepping some stuff in the background here. I plan on getting back to work painting now that I can use my hand easily again!


An Unexpected Speed Bump

 So for the past little while there, I'd like to think I had been trucking along pretty good. I'd been posting works-in-progress, managed to post a few articles that have literally been years in the making, and generally been feeling good and mentally motivated about models and painting in general.

 And then at the end of last month, just after the holiday weekend, I started a new job where I've been working the past few years. Technically a "promotion," everything went fine for the first week or so - until we had one full-time staff member resign and the lead social worker go out on medical in the space of a few weeks. For the past two weeks and change, I've been asked to "cover" for missing staff. If this had meant simply "helping out," that would be one thing - instead, I'm essentially trying to juggle filling in for two different full time staff as well as trying to do the new position I had actually accepted.

 I'm not going to gripe too much, because it is what it is, but the bottom line is that by the time I get home from work I have only about 4 hours of family (not so much "free") time to take care of things at home before I have to go to bed and repeat playing catch-up the next day again. I'm so mentally exhausted by the time I get home most days that even if I had the time, energy, or motivation to do anything hobby-wise, I'm forced to pack it in and go to bed early just to try and stay afloat the next day.

 While I have/had plans for several models for Gen Con coming up, or even just finishing one of my two Malifaux crews on the workbench, it's all indefinitely delayed, I think. *sigh*


Better Check Your Glue!

 So I ran into some trouble last night trying to assemble a resin model with CA (cyanoacrylate AKA 'Super') glue. I use a number of different glues, this one happens to be CA glue from the (Privateer Press) P3 range, and I've had the bottle for well over a year now (maybe even several?). I haven't had any problems with it so far, really, but it's a reasonably large bottle and I don't use it all that often.

 I did, however, run into a problem last night: I was trying to prep a resin figure as one of my entries for Gen Con coming up at the end of July and noticed the figure's ankle had broken while still attached by sprues. Oh well - just get some CA glue, dab it on, and done! Yeah, not so much... While I've used the glue a bunch of times for small odds and ends-type stuff, I've not used it for gluing anything intensive in at least half a year. I forgot there's a shelf life for glue!

 While it's worked fine for smaller stuff - porous clay cat litter glued to bases as rocks, or pinned plastic figures sunk into bases by a good 1/8" and not inclined to move anyway - something requiring solid and quick bonding needs glue that is relatively fresh. The same glue I've used for at least a year to reasonably good effect on small stuff not only wouldn't firm up quickly on this resin figure, it also wouldn't bond at all!

 Long story short: unless you use it often or in large amounts, there really is no reason to buy an over-large bottle of CA glue because it does lose effectiveness over time, especially if the bottle no longer seals completely airtight due to buildup on the spout. CA glue works by absorbing moisture to complete its chemical bond.

 Before doing any time-intensive project where you absolutely need your materials to be at the top of your game, make sure you're using fresh glue, if nothing else!


How to Make Your Own Iconography and Put It On... Stuff, Pt. 2

 Here's Part Two of my "How to Make Your Own Iconography and Put It On... Stuff" tutorial series and you can refer to Part One here. Ideally at this point, you've got iconography that you can use on something and are able to get it into a printable sheet format - the question is what to do now.

 Fortunately, there's a number of answers. With printed or copied graphics, you can transfer them onto a great number of mediums. For this particular section, however, I'm going to focus on the more frequently used output - water slide decals. Essentially, anything that you can make into a printable format you can theoretically make into a water slide decal - with some limitations, primarily being size.

 As of my last attempt at creating decals, I've found four different types of water slide decal paper available and in a variety of sizes ranging from quarter sheet all the way up to full letter-size paper sheets. I went physically to places like hobby stores, craft/scrapbooking stores, and RC/scale modeling shops because I wanted to set eyes on the decal paper firsthand - but out of all the different sizes I found, I eventually settled on A5 size (5"x8") which I tried first and then Letter (8 1/2"x11") when I decided I wanted more decals with a different appearance. I'd imagine even more custom decal paper sizes might be available online, but I stuck with these two straightforward sizes of water slide transfer paper from both Testor's and Micro-Mark as they were pre-existing paper size settings in Word document and Adobe PDF format for creating sheets and I thought therefore would be easiest for printing at home or at a copy shop.

 The different types of water slide decal paper are all essentially the same in form and function - a face-up sheet (possibly with an underlying layer of adhesive) over a layer of dextrose allowing for both adhesion and release from a colored backing sheet. For fine scale models/miniatures I'd recommend against using paper with the additional layer of adhesive as it makes for thicker decals and really isn't necessary if you use additional products like Micro-Mark's MicroSet and MicroSol (to be discussed later). The differences are simple - recommended printer type and sheet color. There are different papers for both inkjet or laser printers as well as clear decal sheets and white colored decal sheets. The A5 paper I tried first was clear and meant for inkjet printers - this was my first run with strictly black decals and a potentially maddening time cutting out all the little spikes from my original iconography design. I used Letter sized paper for laser printer (or copier!) in white for my second attempt with a filled-in design and this was much easier. The bottom line is that if you just want black lettering or something non-fancy, clear paper will show up just fine. If you want iconography or decals in any sort of color, I'd recommend using white decal paper to print to as the end result will show up much brighter over anything you apply a decal onto, regardless of how dark the surface is, even if that means you need to trim your decals more closely to avoid any white showing around the edges. Now there are very rare printers that print in white ink and cost thousands of dollars (ALPS printers) - barring those, the best you can do to get the color "white" in a decal is to use white decal paper and trim back to the edge of your design.

 I'll admit - I personally didn't notice a significant difference in the output quality between the sheets I printed using my home inkjet printer onto inkjet water slide decal paper versus my second attempt with a different design printed out on a laser copy shop machine onto laser-variety water slide paper. Hypothetically, though, I'd have to imagine that the laser-variety output is a little more precise as there is no spreading of wet ink and the design is heat-bonded to the paper as a part of the printing process, but then the inkjet paper itself is designed to accomodate wet inkjet color and a slower drying time. The one thing I did notice, at least to start, was smearing - handling an inkjet decal sheet before it is fully dry is very messy, and I'd highly recommend only handling printed sheets by the edges whenever possible.

 As near as I can tell, the sole difference between professionally-printed or store-bought water slide decals and those homemade is a permanent sealing layer over the top of the decal to prevent the design from dissolving or smearing during the application process. No problem!

From here on out, I'll be using the following picture to refer to in the way of tools to use:

 After printing out your graphics onto a water slide decal sheet, it is simply a matter of sealing it once it has dried. I've seen reference to people using strong hold hairspray, but personally I've found a thorough spraying of gloss sealant (I used Krylon UV-Resistant Clear Gloss to prevent yellowing) to do the job of sealing the decal sheet excellent to prevent the printed graphics (both inkjet- and laser-printer-based) from smearing. In the case of my last set of printed decals, I used a second light coat of Krylon Matte Finish spray to tone down the glossiness. Once cut out from the decal sheet and applied to the model, I feel the matte surface helped the decal to blend in with the background a little better.

 In researching water slide decals and how to apply them, it seems there are a lot of approaches. I'm going to describe mine - primarily to save other people reading the time and effort of looking elsewhere, but secondarily... because it works! To start with, I'd recommend trimming as close to the design on your intended decal as possible - this is especially necessary if you've printed on a white decal sheet as any white visible around the edges of your design will look awkward or possibly need to be painted over.

Recommended materials:
  • A shallow dish or saucer with room-temperature distilled water
  • A pair of tweezers and/or sharp hobby knife
  • Brush-on gloss acrylic/Future Floor Finish/etc.
  • MicroSet and MicroSol
 I recommend distilled or filtered water so as to avoid impurities which can cause your decals to settle unevenly or with bubbles underneath. The brush-on gloss is to smooth out the surface where you plan on applying your decal so as to make for a nice, even finish - in the materials picture, my "Wash" mixture for thinning has acrylic medium mixed with water in it and does the job nicely. The MicroSet and MicroSol are optional, but work excellently and make the job of applying decals infinitely easier than water alone.

 So to apply homemade decals, what I do is the following:
  1. Brush on gloss acrylic medium/Future Floor Finish/something similar in the area where you want to apply your decal. This will smooth out the surface, allowing for easy transfer and minimizing the likelihood of bubbles beneath your decal. Allow to dry.
  2. Neatly cut out your decal - as mentioned before, when printing on white water slide decal paper you want to cut as close to your design as possible to avoid stray white space around the edges. For clear paper the less overhang you've got, the less chance for bubbles or wrinkles forming at the edges and the better your decal will conform to curved or uneven shapes.
  3. Allow the cut-out decal to soak in a very shallow saucer (even a small plate will do - the shallowed the water, the easier to wrangle wayward decals) for about 10 seconds or until it starts to slide easily on the backing material - take care not to let the decal slip off the backing material entirely!
  4. Brush on a quick coating of MicroSet in the area you want the decal to sit on your figure or model - this prepares the area and allows for better decal adherence.
  5. Pick up the backing material with decal on it (tweezers make this infinitely easier) and align an edge of the decal and the backing with where you want the final location to be.
  6. Gently and carefully slide the decal off the edge of the backing on your model, holding the edge where you want the decal to sit with the point of a hobby knife or toothpick while carefully sliding the backing out from underneath - one needs to be very careful at this stage, because any quick motions can cause the decal to tear or move out of alignment.
  7. Before all the water dries or is absorbed by the decal, quickly (but carefully) slide your decal to its final placement location.
  8. Apply a thin brush-on coat of MicroSol over your decal - this aids with adherence because it softens the decal somewhat. Perfect if you're trying to get it to conform to panel lines, curved shapes, rivets beneath and the like.
  9. If there are any small air bubbles trapped beneath your decal, you can use the point of a hobby knife or scalpel to piece the decal and release the trapped air - just be careful not to cut or move your decal, otherwise it may tear.
  10. Once fully dry, you may want to brush a little more gloss acrylic medium/Future Floor Finish/something similar around the edge of the decal and the surface its adhered on, depending on the thickness of your water slide decal - if you need to blend the edges into the background surface a little more smoothly.
 Once your decal is applied, you can use the same techniques on it as you would over a regular painted surface - washes, highlights, and even weathering powders. Here's examples of some decals I put on a Flames of War Tiger I tank several years ago (given washes, minor highlights, tidied up with paint to match over the battle-damaged area, sealed, and with added weathering powders - all over uneven surfaces):


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