Showing posts with label How-To Article. Show all posts
Showing posts with label How-To Article. Show all posts

01 February 2020

How-to : Removing paint from plastic figures

Removing paint from plastic figures

Ive used this technique with old models and figures, even those that have been covered in two or three coats of thick enamel paint. It works equally as well with hard and soft plastic plus its a technique that's not just limited to smallscale modelling.

You'll need the following items :

Household oven cleaner
Plastic gloves
Plastic bag
Plastic bucket
Toothbrush
Detergent (washing-up liquid)




Household oven cleaner in a spray-can form is cheap and readily available in practically any supermarket. Its used to dissolve thick carbon and burned fat deposits from off the inside ovens and off frying pans. Luckily for us modellers it also dissolves enamel paints without affecting plastic.

In this example well use a couple of old soft-plastic polythene figures. They're all in good condition, but have been painted with thick blobs of enamel paint.



A word of warning oven cleaner is caustic and may cause burns to the skin or eyes or respiratory problems if not used correctly. I would stress that it be used with caution. Minors should never use these products themselves,they should ask a responsible adult to do it for them.

Start by laying out the plastic bag on a flat surface and place the model or figures onto the bag.

Put on your gloves. Make sure you use plastic gloves to protect your hands as oven cleaner can burn the skin. Don't use latex gloves as the oven cleaner may dissolve the latex.

Hold the oven cleaner spray in one hand, and spray the model liberally. With the other hand you can turn over the model while holding it over the plastic bag so as to get into every nook and cranny.



Close the plastic bag with the model inside and tie a knot, place into the plastic bucket and leave overnight. The plastic bucket is so that if any oven cleaner leaks out it will not stain the floor.

Rinse any over cleaner off your gloves and put them away and leave over cleaner to work overnight.

24hrs later, get out your plastic gloves again and take the bucket to somewhere you have access to a cold water tap and a sink.

Put on your gloves, take the model out the plastic bag you'll find a huge gooey mess. Throw the plastic bag away and put the model into the sink.



Turn on the cold water and you'll find the paint will fall off as you rinse it. Now with the toothbrush and with a little detergent you can remove any stubborn remnants of paint stuck in little nooks and crannies.





Give them a final rinse and leave to dry. Rise your gloves and don't forget to clean out the bucket or container.



Once dry that's it, finished. Shiny new figures, ready for painting.

27 February 2019

Youtube video : Winter wargames sand table using salt as snow


Decorating a new sand table for wargaming using fine-grain salt to simulate snow.

This was for a 1/72 scale wargame but the technique can be used for games in any scale.



After uploading the video I realised that the sound is very muffled, but the images speak for themselves.

There are subtitles on the video, to see them you'll need to open the video in Youtube itself and on the bottom bar, look for the “Closed Captioning” icon “CC” and click on it.

More videos are planned for youtube so if you want to subsribe to get updates, just click on the subscribe button below



Hope you enjoy it.

We baptised the table on Saturday with an Ardennes game, photos and game report to follow soon.

28 June 2017

8th Army Uniform - 1/72 Scale Painting Guide


There was a time when I thought my Airfix sand-coloured plastic figures really looked the business with the exposed parts of the skin painted with good old Humbrol Matt Flesh - and of course to a 10 year-old kid they did.


And that kid still lives in my head, and even though various decades have passed since then, and even if I spend maybe a little more time painting my figures nowadays, I do still try and keep things as simple as possible,



Drybrush & Wash Technique

The figures below were all painted using a simple technique that brings out the detail well and allows you to finish off a large number of figures in a relatively short time.




I'll cover the preparation, basing and undercoating in a separate post in more detail, but the painting technique itself is straightforward and simple as follows.

  • Paint a large batch of figures in the base uniform colour. 
  • Once dry, give them a very heavy drybrush of a much lighter colour to highlight the raised uniform areas, straps, buckles, rucksacks, etc. 
  • Block paint flesh areas and weapons.
  • Finally finish off the whole batch with a wash to bring out the details. 


Acrylic Paints / Colours / Wash

Acrylic paints are the best for this job and I generally use colours from the Vallejo range.

For the 8th Army figures I've used the following.
  • Vallejo Khaki - base uniform colour
  • Vallejo Iraqui Sand - heavy drybrush.

There are various products on the market sold exclusively as "washes" or "dips", but I've found that - at least for me - the best option is to use a good quality artists' acrylic Raw Umber diluted with water to a consistency of milk. In this example I've used the following
  • Van Gogh Acrylic Raw Umber

You just need to squeeze out a half-thumbnail sized blob into a bottle top or similar recipient, mix in water to get the right consistency, and paint a generous dose onto each figure.

The wash will settle into the folds and crevices of the figures and once it has dried you'll see a very pleasing and subtle highlight and shadow effect.


Further Detailing



The 8th army uniform can range from sun-bleached sandy white to the darker hues of khaki brown and even green. This all depends on the issue of uniform, the amount of time exposed to the sun and elements, etc., so you might want your figures to have more variation.

You can use the same technique but paint in more detail before the final wash, and play around with variations on the straps, pouches, rucksacks, helmets, etc., using lighter browns, sand, other shades of khaki, greys, and so on.

Another option is to also try with different washes using deeper shades and / or consistencies of artists' acrylics.

If you want to certain figures to stand out, such as as officers or special units, or even whole squads, once the wash has dried you can further detail the figures by touching up certain areas, dark-line, highlight, etc., etc





Colour Guide

The illustration below is a guide based on Vallejo colours for painting 20mm British & Commonwealth WW2 8th Army figures.


One final note : Boots

The British wore black boots but if you've ever walked around, even for a very short time, in dry dusty terrain you'll already know that whatever colour your boots might have originally been, they will soon become the exact same colour of that same terrain,

For this reason I prefer to leave the boots in a dusty shade to try and match the flocked base.


There are plenty of options for painting the 8th Army and many of us have various preferences for colours and techniques so please feel free to add any comments.

09 October 2016

Speedpainting Esci Zulus - some progress on the horde of figures

This is definitely a quantity over quality job, and speed is of the essence, so I'm hoping to finish them all off and be ready for basing sometime at the end of the week.

I'll also give a runthrough here on the technique I'm using to speedpaint the figures. It works (well, at least for me) on painting very dark / black skin tones.

First step is to give a heavy basecoat of tough black-gloss enamel paint.



This is followed by a very heavy drybrush to bring out detail and highlight the raised surfaces.



I then prepare a wash using water based artists acrylics. The acrylics will bring out the shadows and highlights on the black skins.



I use Van Gogh which are excellent consistent quality and work really well. I used a mixture of Raw Umber and Burnt Sienna.



Mix the two until you get a thick but creamy consistency ... and yes, it does look like something disgusting that the the dog just dropped.



Finally add a little black to dip into for some slight shading when you paint the wash onto the figures, and the next day when they are dry you should have figures that look something like this.



You can then just paint up the details.



So I'm now about halfway there, most of the figures in progress are in the picture below.



Once I've got them based I'll add a final update on the Zulus and in the near future some pictures of them in action in the upcoming game.

03 October 2016

Zulus, thousands of 'em - New Spears and Shields

Not thousands, but well over a hundred and fifty of 'em.

Old Esci Zulus, from four separate sets that are at least 15 years old, maybe even older.

They were all given to me many years ago by my mate Carlos, and they've been lounging in different boxes full of mixed figures since then

Well with a game coming up organised by Carlos, I remembered I had these Zulus he gave me and promised to paint them up. When I dug them out of their box I aslo discovered that the majorty of the shields and spears have nearly all been lost over the years - victims of multiple transfers to and from different boxes, maybe lost in the bottom of another box, or perhaps even a landfil somewhere, victims of a past clearout of trash.

So with 150+ Zulus and only 20 odd shields and spears, what do you do when you've promised to have them ready for the game ? No choice but to improvise and make your own.



The shields were made from rugged card that were cut into oblong shapes. I made a shield shape similar in size to the original shield printed multiple copies onto the back of the rugged card.

A broom with some nice thick stiff plastic bristles was the spear donor.



Some flat-nosed pliers were used to squash the end of the plastic and a sharp knife to make the spear point.

And I'm quite pleased with the way the spears turned out.



So the next step, paint them all up.
Come back soon, more pics to follow.

13 June 2015

How-to : Rivers, Ponds and Marshes using X-rays

mprovised Rivers, Ponds and Marshes using X-rays

Some time ago a friend from our wargame group, Juan Reyes (Brazo de Nelson Wargamers Club) had a brilliant idea of using cut-outs from old X-rays that he painted over with gloss paint to use as wargame scenery to make marshes.



In a recent game scenario we needed a wide river section to cross the entire table, and so inspired by Juans marshes, we cut-up some old x-rays with scissors to make improvised river sections.



These are not painted, just the bare X-rays but they actually work very well.





The game was one of a series of scenarios weve gamed from an Arnhem campaign. The bridge spanning the river is an Airfix Pontoon Bridge, mounted on supports made from Lego and painted concrete grey.

27 September 2012

Smallscale (1/72, 1/76, 20mm) Polythene figure conversions

Smallscale (1/72, 1/76, 20mm) Polythene figure conversions

Polythene figure conversions ; simple replacements of helmets, heads, limbs, torsos & other body parts



There's a huge selection of small-scale plastic figure sets of all types on the market with wide and varied poses but in spite of that the need for some additional pose will always arise, and besides, we are modellers and can’t live without making some kind of modification to everything we lay our hands on.

Well need the following items :
Superglue
Dressmakers pins
Straight edged craft knife
Pin Drill
Strong Cutters / Pliers
Mouse pad (or some other similar cushioned base)
A handkerchief or similar


Before we embark on full-scale amputation, study the figures a little first to see where the cut can be made and how you might be able best join up with the new torso.

The beauty of using plastic figures is that if you make a mistake, they are cheap enough to replace.

Once youve decided where youll need to make the cuts, place the figure onto a cushioned surface which will absorb the cut of the knife and stop the figure from slipping I use the cushioned reverse side of an old mouse pad or thick cloth.

A very sharp flat blade hobby knife or scalpel is needed to make a clean cut in the plastic and I usually use the thin disposable types with little sections that can be broken off at intervals.



It’s handy to have a little dish or saucer around to put the heads, helmets, arms, etc., into so that they don’t end up on the floor as Ive spent a good deal of time crawling around looking for bits that have dropped and have disappeared forever.

Once you have the heads, helmets, limbs, etc., you will need to insert strengthening pins into them which serve as pegs to hold the these pieces onto the new body.

First start by sticking the pointed end of the pin into the head / helmet / limb, where it will be attached to the new body (taking care not to stick the pin into your finger)

Once this is done, take some strong pliers and cut the pin so as to leave a “peg” of about 2-3mm sticking out.

While you have the pliers gripping the pin, before you cut, put a handkerchief over the part of the pin that will be cut off and so youll catch the piece youve cut and it wont go whizzing over to the other side of the room.

This way youll avoid finding the other half of the pin it hard way later when you might suddenly find it stuck in your foot or somewhere worse.




We need to make a hole in the torso where it will be receiving the new body part. Do this with a pin drill, and make a generously sized hole so as to give us some room to play around with when we attach the new piece.

Now try the fit to see how it looks and make adjustments to the hole if necessary.



When you’re satisfied apply some superglue liberally to both surfaces. If you made a hole with quite a lot of room and the peg is able to move around a lot, that’s not really too much of a problem because the glue will seep into the extra space and give a firm hold.

If there happens to be a gaping space at the join, fill it with white glue on a small paintbrush, and keep adding more white glue if necessary until the join line is no longer visible.

Figures modified in this way can safely be used for wargaming as the joint is quite robust and under normal handling conditions they will be perfectly fine and the parts shouldnt separate.









26 May 2005

Copper Wire Armature Trees

Copper Wire Armature Trees



The technique of using twisted copper wire to make tree armatures is quite well known to railway enthusiasts, diorama builders and wargamers.



The twisted copper wire armatures have been covered with various layers of white glue and black paint and the foliage has been made from steel wool (like Brillo but without the soap) covered by dried herbs and scatter material.



You can also use lichen, as can be seen on one of the trees in the photographs.



25 April 2003

Wargames for Dummies (or Dummies for Wargames)

Depending on the rules you use, in miniature wargames you might sometimes need to use dummy figures.



Brightly coloured chips are fine, even dog-eared bits of cardboard could do, but for those more aesthetically minded this will not do at all.

Hidden figures or squads can be represented by numbered counters, so if we simply take this idea a  step further, why not stick a figure onto the counter ?  Number the "dummy" and then you can record it on a piece of paper.

The figures used are 1:72 and 1:76 scale Germans from various sets, all based on 2 and 5 (euro) cent coins, painted a neutral green and heavily drybrushed with sand to bring out the details.  It gives them a "ghostly" washed-out effect without spoiling the table.

You can use the figures you most like, or dislike, from sets of cheap plastic soldiers. If you find a set of figures has a disproportionate number of figures in a certain pose, use those figures.



In this colour they blend in well with the surroundings and are fine for the European theatre. You can use a similar procedure for desert and jungle warfare, just varying the base colour of the figures accordingly.

The numbers were printed out on a colour laser printer and stuck onto the base at the time of flocking.