#hobbytiptuesday - Windex

Nothing but a simple, straightforward tip here - it's late, I'm tired, and I've not made any entries in a while since I've been working behind-the-scenes on converting a Rhino for my Disciples of the Four army's Chaos Lord and his Berzerker retinue: specifically, a Mk. II Rhino reworked to look like an upgraded Mk. I Rhino with added "bling." (I'm getting near the point where it's publicly presentable, I think, if not completely finished. Watch this space for updates "soonish!")

Today's tip is essentially this: if you use a palette of any sort, whether it be a cheap white ceramic tile or an 8 well "daisy"-style plastic watercolor one, I've found that spraying it down with ol' classic blue Windex and letting it sit for a little while (say, 15 minutes or so) is great for making cleanup a lot quicker and easier. After squirting down the palette with Windex and letting it soak, the paint generally sloughs right off, especially when ran under warm or hot water.

I don't know if it's the ammonia or the fact that Windex is also designed as a surfactant to make cleaning glass (and countertops!) easier, but I find it works great on palettes. On a related note, I find it also works excellently for sloughing dried paint off of the 1mL medication dispensing syringes I use for mixing and dispensing my paints and thinners - I seem to be in the minority, though, when it comes to using syringes or similar tools for precise measurement when I'm painting.

Note: unlike Simple Green, which I would recommend to anyone for stripping paint from white metal or plastic figures and models with a minimum of effort and no damage to the figures at all, I wouldn't say the same about Windex. While the palettes and graduated syringes I use are plastic, they are "industrial" grade plastic and not molded polystyrene like most of my current figures - although I've not tested it for stripping paint, I have the sneaking suspicion that Windex might be a bit harsh on polystyrene, much like Pine Sol.


The Disciples of the Four and The Shriven (It's All Dan Abnett's Fault)

 Here's something a little different that's not specifically about painting and modeling! Although I've taken a few stabs at trying to crank out an army for 40K in the past, most of which are now relegated to work-in-progress status and many of those linked to in the Gallery of my painting website, I haven't really had any fully realized army lists or troop rosters in mind to work towards - more often just vague half-formed plans. With the goal of keeping myself on track (as well as possibly getting feedback on the validity/combat-worthiness of my forces), I've been busy the past few weeks in spare moments trying to narrow down selections for two completely different army lists for forces I'd like to field in the hopefully near future - one is fairly straightforward from the current Games Workshop Chaos Space Marines Codex and the other has been planned out more from a modeling, conversion, and back story standpoint over the past several years and just lately been pigeonholed into one of the army lists from Forge World's three Siege of Vraks Imperial Armour books. The more convoluted army list of the two is now a Nurgle-biased force using the Renegades and Heretics list out of Imperial Armour Vol. VII, and is serving as my starting point for representing a force of The Shriven as taken from Dan Abnett's First and Only novel in the Gaunt's Ghosts series - for anyone who's already read in past entries about my unwholesome fascination with them as described in the book, I apologize in advance.

 Bear in mind that I hardly have any tabletop 40K play experience under my belt as I've consistently been more of a painter and converter than a gamer since getting back into the hobby about 4 years ago, but I'm looking to make a serious attempt at planning, assembling and painting up a few small armies (500 points or so each) with several goals in mind: 1) I'd like to actually play 40K for once with a fully painted and game-legal army of my own, 2) I want to complete a starting force of Chaos Space Marines in a loose, non-Legion-specific Warband of my own design for the sake of getting something playable "soonish" while still allowing for some conversion and variety in painting, and 3) I'd like to finally be able to put a force on the table as allies of my CSM Warband so as to represent remnants of The Shriven from First and Only - an army composed of the former workers, administrators, disciplinarians, and leftover general populace of the Forge World of Fortis Binary who were corrupted by Chaos, went rogue, and overtook the planet itself.

 My first army list has been easier to wrap my head around, as I'm more familiar with the Chaos Space Marine Codex, their troop types, and the overall concept of how the Chaos Marines theoretically handle themselves on the tabletop. This first list represents a smallish beginning force of troops from my self-designed Warband, The Disciples of the Four, that I've been kicking around ideas for in my head ever since Games Workshop released the latest CSM Codex:

Undivided Chaos Lord
- Daemon Weapon
- Combi-melta
140 pts.

5 Khorne Berzerkers (w/ Chaos Lord attached to these guys in game-play)
- Skull Champion
-- Power Fist
Rhino w/ pintle-mount twin bolter
185 pts.

8 Chaos Marines
- Icon of Chaos Glory
- Meltagun
175 pts.

Total: 500 pts.

 In terms of a back story, The Disciples of the Four are an extra-zealous splinter group from the post-Heresy Word Bearers Legion, some time after the Legion's retreat to the Eye of Terror. Essentially, the originators of The Disciples split away from the Word Bearers Legion due to a difference in ideology: they felt their former comrades were somewhat lacking in "enthusiasm" - outside of converting whole populaces to worship of the Chaos Powers, building unholy monuments that stretch up into the stratosphere, and dogmatically enforcing their religious will on the conquered, they felt that the Word Bearers Legion's somewhat "distanced" spiritual approach didn't go nearly far enough. The Disciples of the Four want to demonstrate the might and the glory of the Gods of Chaos to the rest of the galaxy physically as well as from a "spiritual" standpoint. My Warband essentially will be marked with rampant mutation and corruption of the body and soul (from a "sane" 40K perspective) as a sign of their devotion to the Fell Powers, and the higher one progresses in the overall hierarchy within The Disciples, the more marked and favored they will be by the 4 Chaos Gods (read: rife with physical perversion and deviation from the semblance of their former appearance).

 I'm keeping with an Undivided belief approach in the Warband's adoration of the Chaos Powers (ideally for the most variety in painting, conversion and gameplay), and from a "fluff" standpoint, so long as any potential new members or allies likewise show complete devotion to the Ruinous Powers (both spiritual and corporeal), then The Disciples of the Four would be accepting of whoever (or whatever) wishes to join up with them in their efforts. I more or less adopted this "theme" for the sake of not getting stagnant or bored painting-wise, meaning I'll be able to incorporate Games Workshop's canonical Chaos Marine Legions' color schemes and styles of appearance that I've always liked directly into my force as well as (suitably corrupted) Loyalist Marine Chapter paint schemes and insignia; so long as I maintain certain specific elements from figure to figure such as iconography or particular armor panels in set colors, I'm thinking things won't look too motley.

 My second army list is a first stab at getting some models on the tabletop so as to represent a playable force of The Shriven - I have no experience whatsoever playing Imperial Guard or even against IG, so this is more an attempt to combine the ideas I want to get across with something that will hopefully be effective in-game. Compared to my planned Chaos Marine force, I'm expecting more or less every figure of my Shriven army to be converted from original base models/parts in some way - in other words I'm planning to get my Disciples of the Four troops painted up to a reasonable standard using whatever shortcuts and repetitive batch painting I can tolerate, so as to be able to actually play a game with my own figures, while The Shriven troops will be a bit more involved in creation and can be worked on in the background. So far as a back story goes in terms of their alliance with my Warband, they're intended to be leftovers of The Shriven forces in First and Only after the involvement by Gaunt's Ghosts on the Forge World of Fortis Binary. In the book (without ruining a great read) they are allied with the Iron Warriors and have a leaning towards long range bombardment, trench fighting, self-mutilation (former work-related protective gear sewn directly into their flesh, for example) and the use of, um, poisonous chemicals and daemonic rituals. Here's my planned army list for The Shriven as a separate small force to complement my initial Chaos Space Marine troops:

Renegade Company Command Platoon
Company Command Squad (more or less comparable to the Troop Platoon Command Squad from the newest GW Imperial Guard Codex)
1 Champion, 4 Renegades
(Champion has laspistol/CC weapon, 2 have lasguns, 2 have autoguns)
- Vox-caster
- Chaos banner

Mortar Squad (part of Platoon)
3 Heavy Weapons teams
- Lasgun & mortar each team
- Chemical shells (poisoning of bombardment targets on a 2+, and Marine-killing AP)
125 pts.

Apostate Preacher of Nurgle (comparable to the Ministorum Priest from the latest IG Codex)
- Bolt Pistol
- Eviscerator
67 pts.

5 Plague Marines (same as in the GW Chaos Space Marine Codex)
- Plasma Gun
130 pts.

Mutant Rabble (more or less comparable to a squad of IG Conscripts, and will have the Preacher attached in game-play)
20 Mutants
- 2 Flamers
92 pts.

Mutant Rabble
20 Mutants
- Flamer
86 pts.

Total: 500 pts.

 Given the unfolding of the story in First and Only, this force represents The Shriven "in exile" finding a welcome home as allies amongst The Disciples of the Four, as well as a following of mutants and degenerates trailing in their wake as The Shriven recouped their numbers and sought refuge on a number of worlds following an abrupt separation from their previous "protectors." I'm blaming the current lack of tanks and other fun means of mass slaughter on my difficulty in cramming heavy armor and warm bodies into the same 500 point army list, but I could also say that in their departure from Fortis Binary they were forced to leave a majority of their heavy guns behind but still have a leaning towards trench warfare tactics, heavy fire support. and long-range bombardment as learned from their time with the Iron Warriors.

 Feedback on either the army lists or my "fluff" for them would be greatly appreciated, as I'm pretty much a newbie when it comes to army building and actual gaming in 40K - I haven't even played anything in 5th Edition, for example, outside of a single brief run with 500 points' worth of unpainted and borrowed Orks when the Assault on Black Reach set first came out. For anyone interested, I've had a running work-in-progress thread over on the RelicNews Painting & Modeling Forum with both my work on The Shriven and (moreso) the Disciples of the Four for quite a while now. (Barring a few in-progress projects in what free time I have, my planned focus in the near future will ideally be on getting the troops for both these army lists assembled, playable and painted!)

 As an aside, it's nice to see I'm not the only one who has similar opinions about modeling, painting, army building and (eventually) playing using Forge World models and rules as a main focus of an army. Ron over at From the Warp made a post about this regarding his Deathwing Space Marine army: From the Warp: Using Forge World stuff


Hobby Tip - Cyanoacrylate Gluing

 This Hobby Tip entry is specifically regarding cyanoacrylate (or CA) glue, one of the more important tools in assembling figures and vehicles. CA glue is unique in that it requires no heat or pressure to bond - it reacts with moisture in its surroundings in order to polymerize (solidify) and will join together anything it is in contact with as a byproduct of its polymerization process. Cyanoacrylate glue has a number of advantages: it sets itself even in an airless environment, it is able to join together different material types since its setting process is more or less "self-sufficient," and the glue itself creates a reasonably strong bond if spread on properly prepared (slightly roughed-up) join surfaces. As a result of using moisture as the main catalyst in its chemical reaction, cyanoacrylate glue is brittle when fully dried as compared to other glues. Another failing is that due to its brittleness, CA glue bonds themselves can "shatter" much easier compared to those of glues that maintain a certain amount of flexibility, like two-part epoxies.

 I've found through trial and error (generally a lot of error) that it is most often a waste to buy a large size bottle of the stuff. Despite various methods to try and keep the stuff from clogging or generally building up to the point where the bottle becomes useless, it invariably seems to happen. I've tried using wood nails/push pins in the top to seal the bottle (inert metal vs. directly stuck cap), wiping off the bottle and slapping the lid on tight as quick as possible (limiting amount of air), transferring the stuff into a smaller precision-drip bottle (despite a metal drip tube this time, it still clogged and wouldn't clean out despite all kinds of tricks), and even experimenting with all different consistencies of CA glue (super thin vs. medium viscosity vs. gel) to try and find one that would "last" longer - I think you get the idea. My advice would be to buy the smallest bottle you can (generally the cheapest, anyhow) and that way you'll have less go to waste. I no longer buy larger repackaged bottles from hobby stores, or even specialty hobby brands like Zap-A-Gap, since they all come in larger containers and are all essentially the same thing - pure cyanoacrylate glue.

 In terms of usage, the gel variety (Krazy Glue Craft Gel, "Gap Filling Formula" Zap-A-Gap) has a longer set time (30-60 seconds) and is good if you need to position a part before the glue hardens it in place - another fringe benefit for assembling models or figures is that the gel variety also fills minor gaps due to the thicker consistency. Super thin CA glue is great for narrow spaces and has a quick set time (5-10 seconds, usually) - it makes the best use of precision applicators and allows capillary action to "draw" itself into narrow crevices due to the surface tension of the liquid CA glue (in other words, if applied to a narrow crack between two close-fitting held-together parts, it will creep in between the parts and join them in a very short time frame. Medium viscosity CA glue behaves, well, somewhere in the middle.

 A lot of people use CA bond time accelerators or "zip kickers" - now while I've never personally bought them, I've likewise never had reason to. The idea behind a CA accelerator is that it essentially serves as a catalyst for the glue's "chemical reaction" - in other words, it increases the amount of moisture in contact with the glue so that it sets quicker. As I mentioned at the start, the key feature of CA glue is that it responds extremely well to moisture of any kind - unsurprisingly enough, even a drop or two of plain water will cause your CA glue to "kick off" immediately when compared to allowing CA glue to draw moisture from the to-be-glued parts and ambient humidity. Even breathing on setting CA glue has much the same effect (with the down side of potential inhalation of glue fumes), while using a hair dryer on parts glued with CA adds funneled air moisture via the directed blower as well as a quicker evaporation rate. You can likewise add a great number of materials to CA glue besides water that have a high "moisture" content and a fast evaporation rate in order to speed up the glue's chemical reaction: acetone, mineral spirits, rubbing alcohol, Tenax 7-R, thin viscosity plastic (polystyrene) cement, and even Green Stuff (AKA Kneadatite) - you'll find that the CA glue sets up much quicker, almost instantly in some cases. The greater the added moisture coupled with a quicker evaporation, the faster the setting time. (Again, I've never bought a "name brand" CA glue bond time accelerator - but I've used plenty "off-brand" kinds!) A few notes on this subject: a lot of chemicals are almost as toxic on inhalation as the glue fumes itself, so be careful, and using some sort of "zip kicker" versus allowing it to "naturally" set results in a weaker join - a forced reaction means less opportunity to spread or establish stronger polymer bonds.

 One thing about CA glue to always keep in mind, is that even though it make have set visibly and bonded parts together physically it is by no means "dry" (although technically this is true about most substances that start out "wet," like paint or even spray primer.) It continues to give off fumes until completely evaporated and these fumes are lighter than air. If you have CA glue inside a sealed container (like a glued-on enclosed canopy or glue-fastened vehicle cockpit, for example), fumes from the drying CA glue will interact with ambient humidity inside the container and you will end up with a hazy coating everywhere that the fumes have spread - great for "tinted glass" effects, but not so good for a clear plastic window. Like it says on the bottle labels, always use CA glue in an open, well-ventilated space: I'd suggest that when allowing CA-glued parts to dry, you should lay them or prop them up so that the fumes have somewhere to vent away other than inside your model.

 In a roundabout way, this brings me back to the problem of preventing clogged glue bottles. The reason they clog or get their lids glued on solidly is the "reacts with moisture" part - after you put the glue bottle cap on, the glue solidifies as it reacts with ambient moisture drawn into the mouth of the glue bottle as well as any moisture on the outside of the bottle opening or inside the cap itself. You're essentially putting a self-sealing cork on your glue bottle if there's any glue in the opening whatsoever, and it will happily adhere the moisture-laden bottle cap to the moisture-laden bottle mouth if you let it - I speak from experience here.
 Here are several methods to minimize your CA glue bottles "clogging" themselves and becoming unusable as a result:
  • Make sure to wipe any excess glue off the opening of the bottle, in order to minimize the amount of chemical bonding after you put the cap on.
  • Use bottles with a smaller opening, or better yet, smaller bottles outright - the smaller the opening and the smaller the amount of glue left behind to react, the easier it will be to break the seal the next time around.
  • Accept that the glue will eventually seal its bottle shut, buy bottles with long "spouts," and simply snip off the blocked end whenever it happens.
  • Coat the open end of your glue bottle before putting the lid on with something that A) does not carry moisture and B) will help to protect the glue inside from additional moisture - smearing a little bit of petroleum jelly (Vaseline) on the mouth of your glue bottle will keep it usable much longer and help to prevent clogs.
 Good luck, and may your cyanoacrylate glue bottles remain forever unclogged! Comments or other gluing suggestions are very welcome...


* KABOOOM* Forge World Renegade Psyker WIP [Update 11/2/2009]

 I'm turning my attention back to my Forge World Renegade Psyker as an entry in a friendly painting competition over on the RelicNews Painting & Modeling Forum that's going to be starting up on Oct 15th, and essentially my next step now would be getting under way with painting. He's standing on a trimmed-down Secret Weapon Miniatures "Urban Ruins" resin pre-cast mounted atop a Games Workshop slottabase, which is primarily cracked and pitted concrete in appearance but with a little extra surface grit that I added in parts. This particular base seemed a perfect fit to my vision of the figure's overall appearance, since by offsetting the resin pre-cast piece on top of the slottabase and pinning the Psyker to the slightly raised back portion of the resin pre-cast base allowed me to "play up" the fractured concrete at the Psyker's feet. I further converted the overall figure basing to ideally show him in the process of using a "psychic power," as he's thrown back his gas mask and is clutching his head in apparent anguish - kinda hard to tell, though, since the sculpt of the figure is such that his "face" is stripped down to the bare skull with augmetic eyes and a breathing system.

 At face value, it doesn't make any sense to me that a Renegade Psyker would be sent out to fight an Imperial reclamation force as a living weapon but is having a hard time preventing his own head from exploding. It seemed to me that a better visual effect overall would be to give the Psyker an external demonstration of him actively using a "psychic power."

 Since the "Urban Ruins" resin pre-cast was a perfect layout allowing me to have him standing on pitted concrete with increasing damage in an outward direction in front and away from him, I decided to add an effect of what hopefully looks like chunks of shattered concrete exploding outwards in front of him (and a buckled and torn part of a Rhino hatch in the mix, just for fun with color and texture):
Forge World Renegade Psyker WIP #13 Forge World Renegade Psyker WIP #14 Forge World Renegade Psyker WIP #15 Forge World Renegade Psyker WIP #16

 Unfortunately, my client for the Thousand Sons Chaos Lord commission I've been working on in my "spare time" the past few months apparently "disappeared off the face of the Earth" and I've had no luck in attempts to make contact. I'm taking a break in work on that piece - likely to be auctioned off when finished - in order to paint up the Renegade Psyker for the competition at the Painting & Modeling Forum. I put painting the Psyker on hold a while back in order to work on the Thousand Sons Lord commission - the Psyker suffered some slight damage to the previously-finished basing in the down time (probably our cats and getting jostled around since I need to reorganize my painting area) and I just patched him back up today.

 I've no idea how the Psyker will turn out appearance-wise except for a few vague color ideas: ideally I'll be trying an airbrush that I got for my birthday in August (using paint for the first time) at some point with him, even if it's just blocking out areas of plain color; he's theoretically going to be a test of a workable color scheme for a Renegades & Heretics force aligned with multiple Chaos Powers (I had a definite color scheme in mind that I was set to use back in 2007 when I first concocted having a Renegade force under the Lost and the Damned rules, but those were more generic troops than the FW Siege of Vraks army list I'm using now); and lastly, and maybe most importantly - I haven't painted anything at all since December 2008! (It's been quite the year.)

Comments/suggestions appreciated, as always!


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