Category: Painting

Quick painting Russians – Contrast highlights and single wash

I’ve been plugging away at my russians making pretty good progression on them. I have a lot of figures to paint however. One of the nation rules for russians is you can get a free inexperienced 12 man rifle squad. That’s in addition to the three other squads I’m painting up. I’ve got a horde of comrades to paint.

Sadly, don’t have the space and set up to use an air compressor. That’s certainly something I want to dabble around with in the future. For now I’m stuck with hand painting everything. So I wanted to see about cutting corners some given I’ve have 50+ infantry to paint up.

Rather than put a lot of time into drybrushing highlights, I ended up using high contrast highlighting. The trick is to pick a lighter hue paint color and just touch on the clothing and parts that would catch most of the light. So you end up painting the folds and not the creases of jackets and tunics, lighten the top shoulders, highlight pant material around bent knees, etc. It will look a little off putting with the stark contrast, but that’s the result you want.
You will end up following the highlight contrast with a wash. This is another trick I used to speed up painting some by sticking with one basic wash for the entire miniature. I use Vallejo paints and inks mostly. So I’ve got a nice selection of shades. However, for my russians I stuck with a single sepia ink wash for the entire figure. It’s a nice general wash that adds some tone to the figure and looks good over everything. More importantly, it helps blend in the high contrast highlights I gave to the miniature.
One important bit is to soak up some of the excess wash that pools on the mini (particularly the feet). I used a paper towel corner that I twisted into a sharp point. Dabbing the end onto areas that have a lot of wash will draw up much of the excess, but leave enough behind to bring out the detail.

Some touch ups on the base, drybrush the boots some with a light grey, and a final sealing with a matte spray. Done. You get a nice effect by mixing the wash over the two colors of the tunic and pants. It’s quick and helps give some texture to figures that have a full uniform of a single color. A great technique if needing to speed paint a bunch of miniatures.RussianFinal

Wargaming supplies in Seoul: Neighbor Hobby

Scouring around for places to pick up paints and supplies I stumbled across likely the new Mecca for hobby supplies for me, Neighbor Hobby. It’s nestled away unassumingly in the lower floor of an office building. But despite it’s location, they have a pretty amazing stock of model kits of all sorts.
There is a great selection of military models. Unfortunately for fans of Bolt Action, they carry only Tamiya 1/48 kits, but they seem to have a full selection from that line. As 1/72 and 1/76 scale kits go though, they have a great choice of tanks, soldiers, and terrain. With buildings I usually use 20 mm, even for 28mm stuff as it keeps a smaller footprint on the table and looks okay. I find true 28mm scale buildings just a little too big and even the smallest 2 story house seems to dwarf the rest of the table terrain. So having a lot of building model kits for sale was a pleasant surprise.
Now for paints, brushes, and other supplies you are set. There is a great selection of paints from Testors, Tamiya, AK Interactive, MIG, as well as my go to for painting, Vallejo. It’s a wonderful amount of choices and stock for both brush and airbrush painters. They also carry a complete selection of Testors and Tamiya sprays. Well worth checking out.
To get there isn’t too difficult. Take subway line 2 to Hongik University and get off exit number 3. You need to cross the street and footpath park and take a side street, then go right. Once you hit a main street go left and it will be in an office building.

Blue pin near the top marks the location.

Blue pin near the top marks the location.


The entrance is actually a bit odd. Going behind the building from the parking lot you enter on the first floor. You will follow a long hall towards the elevator, and can find the shop directly.

However if you enter the front of the building you are actually on the 2nd floor and have to take the lift down to the 1st floor.

All in all Neighbor Hobby is a fantastic place to pick up military models, paints, and modeling supplies. It certainly is one of the top places to get wargaming model supplies in the city. It’s also in the same neighborhood as Rolling Dice so a great stop to get a double scoop of geek supplies while in Seoul.

Armourfast Sherman M4A2 75mm

Anyone that’s been reading my blog for a while will know I am a fan of the 1/72 scale Armourfast kits. These are not high quality models. However for 20mm wargaming they are excellent. Cheap, pretty easy to put together, and they come 2 vehicles per kit. If you are going for building up an armor platoon, they are an especially a good buy.

I finally finished up my 20mm Pacific US Marines and wanted to get a tank for my list. I recognize that Stuarts are likely the most popular choice but I wanted something a bit more fearsome, so I went the M4 route.ShermanA

The Armourfast Sherman kit was a snap to put together. I would say one hiccup was fitting the turret peg into the hull. The turret peg isn’t molded into the turret and instead you’ve got to assemble it. Not an issue, but I found the hull hole where the peg fit into was a bit tight. Filing it down and putting a tad too much pressure meant twisting the turret peg some. I pulled it apart quick enough, straightened everything out, and filed the hole some more for an easier fit. However fair warning and ensure that the peg fits well into the hull before assembling (rookie modeler mistake from me as usual).ShermanB

The details of the tank are okay. The pintle mounted 50 cal fits well. As per other Armourfast kits the inside tread wheels are more to be desired and are empty molded plastic without any details whatsoever. The plus is that you can’t readily notice them unless looking at the tank from a lower angle. Another plus is that as a single model peice it’s easy to assemble the tread wheels to the hull.

There are no stowage options and if wanting to add some personality to the model, you’ll have to go the route of pillaging other model kits for that. There are also no decals for the kit, so that is another thing I’ll have to pilfer from other kits.

The details of the tank hull stand up to painting well enough. Yet I’m a bit miffed with my choice of a wash. My original base coat had a nice dark shade for the tank treads but the difference between the hull became quite muddled after a wash coat. Still it’s a serviceable tank model for tabletop wargaming and good enough for 20 mm Bolt Action.

1/72 Valiant WW2 British infantry

So a long while back I was scrambling to find a PIAT team for my 20mm British platoon. I settled on using some Italeri models which are pretty nice. The unfortunate bit was they were paratroop models. Now Bolt Action is pretty open to mixing and matching troop types. You could hand wave the entire thing and say they’re a few paratroops that folded into a Normandy group the first few days of the invasion. I was perfectly happy with that, but those minis sort of sparked my interest in working up a British paras force.

I went off and got a platoon of Italeri figs and got another British platoon painted and completed. They turned out nice and the box had quite a few different figures, however I still was missing a few weapon teams to round out my force. I started looking over some other minis to get and picked up on one from Valiant Miniatures.

They are pretty nice figures. There is a lot in the box, 4 complete sprues for a total of 68 figures. There is a nice selection of riflemen and figures with Sten guns, as well as PIAT and Vickers MMG troops. A nice bit is that some separate heads wearing berets are also included. While not 100% accurate with the uniform and kits, I was able to swap out some heads and paint them up to supplement my Italeri para troops. I also could now field some 3 and 2 inch mortars too for medium and light mortar teams, respectively.ValiantBritsA

As a bonus, I now had a PIAT team to whip up and throw into my other British infantry platoon painted as a proper army uniform team. I’m also thinking of hacking up one of the Vickers MMG to throw onto a Bren carrier. The downside is I now have a gaggle of odd Brit minis. Maybe I’ll find a use for them or hack up parts for other projects.

The Valiant minis are a stiff plastic which is easy to work with and uses regular plastic cement for assembly and basing. The figures are mostly one piece with a squarish base, so you’ll likely have to put them on bases of your own. They are detailed well enough. Some parts are a little blocky and the figures seem well proportioned even if some of the weapons are a little large. The facial features and hands are a tad cartoon looking, but well enough for 20mm figures.ValiantBritsB

They are somewhat large though compared to other figures, including being a bit over proportioned. I think a few figures don’t stand out too much on the tabletop, but you should be cautioned if trying to mix and match. Below is a comparison with a 20mm Plastic Soldier Co. figure on the left and you can see that the Valiant figure on the right is not only taller but also bulkier.ValiantBritsC

For wargaming they are suitable minis though and a great price with a decent variety in the box. Another nice point is that they are hard plastic which I’ve always found easier to work with in modifying and modeling. Overall if you’re on a budget, they are a good set to pick up for 20mm wargaming.

Paint scheme reference cards

PaintRefAThis week just a small tip for folks delving into miniature painting. If you are like me you might have a lot of different game systems and army projects going (sometimes several simultaneously). Once an army is done, going back to add a few troops or units is always an option. However it can be a tad difficult to remember what paints were used before for that force.

Another issue is that occasionally your miniatures will get some dings and dents. You may find needing to touch up a miniature or two. So trying to think back what paints you originally used for a base coat along with the proper wash might be a problem. It’s compounded if you’ve been painting a slew of other stuff since then too.

To get around this I use note cards. I write down the paints used for base coats, washes, and highlights. Additionally I pair this information up with the appropriate parts of the models. Along with the name of the paint, I also place a small dab of the paint color on the card.

This way I know exactly what colors I used for say, the webbing on my US Marines, along with the colors used for the drybrush highlight too. The color reference is also there in case I have problems tracking down a specific paint. I then have a hue to compare to if seeking a replacement paint from a different manufacturer. Another plus is I can take the card with me into the shop to directly compare.

They are very handy. I’ve got a slew of unfinished 15mm Russians I’ve been sitting on for a couple of years now. At least with the paint reference cards I have some confidence I can revisit them again using the same color scheme as I had done in the past, ensuring that my army will have a uniform look. So consider keeping track of the paints you use on your minis. While I find note cards handy, but even a notebook is helpful. After all you never know when you might have to touch up a couple of minis (or add another squad to your force).

Wargames Factory Saxon Thegns

As I mentioned awhile back I’ve been dragging my feet some painting up my SAGA warbands. I wanted to have some flexibility with my models and opted to pick up a few more sets of figures to build both Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Dane warbands. Further a lot of battle board abilities for Anglo-Saxons revolve around 10 man units. Having a lot of warriors seems the way to go, so I wanted quite a few models to explore these abilities more.

Wargames Factory’s Saxon Thegns come 32 figures per box. There are plenty of head, shield, and weapon options. A few standards and horns are provided. While not specific for SAGA you also get a lot of bows which are great for other game systems (cough…Frostgrave…cough) and if looking to combine this with other plastic unarmored Saxon sets, a good way to have plenty of bows for your levies. There are also hefty 2 handed Dane axes allowing you to deck out some hearthguard if wanted. My one complaint with the weapons would be that the spears look a little anemic.WargamesFactSaxC

My other complaint would be the necks of the models. The manufacturer suggests cutting down the neck some before assembly. This is a bit of a pain and can be difficult to get just right. Fortunately the models are plastic and with the right amount of glue and pressure, you can get them assembled in due order. I would recommend going for a more viscous plastic cement. The figures fit well together, but you might want to fill the gaps in some for the arms.WargamesFactSaxA

The hands are modeled open to allow different arms to be placed in. The thumbs look a bit odd sticking out but once you’ve got weapons set in the hands, they don’t stand out. Overall the models assemble pretty easy aside from the slight hiccup with the heads. The detail on the figures are not bad. Some of the body and arm details are muted, but overall they look good.

You basically have 4 bodies for the set. Yet with the options for heads and arms, along with different angles you can assemble them, the end result is enough different poses to make up for the lack of body types. One more ding to the set is that no bases are provided. So expect to buy some bases along with the box.WargamesFactSaxB

Another manufacturer out there for medieval plastic sets is Gripping Beast. Likely people will want to know how well the 2 figure lines compare. The pic below is from each company for Saxon Thegns. The one on the left is from Wargames Factory and the one on the right is from Gripping Beast. I think they are very comparable for scale and can mix and match them freely. If anything the Gripping Beast figures seem a little more stocky in the arms and shoulders. Yet once painted up and based, they don’t really stand apart from each other.WargamesVsGrippingBeast

There are a lot of positives for the minis in this box. The Wargames Factory kit does have a lot of different weapon and shield options. The head choices aren’t bad (though are a chore some to glue onto the bodies). The price is also reasonable for what you get and I’m glad to have picked them up. However, I’m on the fence about recommending these Thegns. They aren’t bad figures. It’s just that for armored plastic Saxons I think there are better options out there.

Building ruins for Frostgrave

I find Frostgrave fun especially with its low model count and small table space. However as it takes place in a ruined city, you certainly need a lot of terrain pieces. It does demand having a pretty cluttered layout too, so that was something I had to assemble for my games.

Over the years I’ve gotten a little lazy with terrain. I just don’t feel the need to put tons of time into building and painting it. I just need something serviceable and looking decent enough. I’d rather put more time into painting miniatures over building an awesome house. So I was looking for a quick and dirty way to whip up some building ruins.

I settled on hacking apart some old styrofoam I had horded from packaging material. Cut apart into sections and assembled with PVA glue and toothpicks as simple dowels, I got a few sections of walls put together. I also went ahead and got a few flat pieces with some odd chunks added to create some crumbled wall sections which would offer a little cover from ranged shots, yet not impede movement much.FrostgraveRuinsA

I had to try and work on adding some texture to the walls some. I decided I didn’t need to make an intricate pattern, just some large stones etched into the walls. As a super quick way of doing that I figured I’d need some guide lines. Using a small piece of plasticard about the width of the bricks I wanted, I quickly placed tick marks on as layers of bricks.FrostgraveRuinsC

Then I connected everything using a straightedge and a marker to form horizontal lines. One key tip would be to make sure you had all the lines even around the corners. I would then go back and rather unevenly draw in vertical lines to make the brick pattern.FrostgraveRuinsB

FrostgraveRuinsDI needed some way to form some texture in the surface though. I could then go over each line with a knife, but figured that would take a lot of time. Not to mention I might end up gouging out larger chunks of styrofoam if the knife caught up on the material. Instead I used a soldering tool which would melt the styrofoam. Mind you this was tricky as you could easily go too deep into the material. Also, I would do this in an exceedingly well ventilated area (I also had a fan behind me blowing air away from me) as the fumes are pretty toxic. However the end result was pretty nice.FrostgraveRuinsE

All of this worked fine and dandy for low walls but I also wanted to get some elevated pieces together. I had some second level wall corners made that used a chunk of foamcore board as the floor section. This looked okay but I also wanted to give the floor some texture. I ended up cutting out thin sections of cardboard and gluing them in as flagstones. I didn’t need to do the entire surface, just enough to give the appearance of a few stone pieces. With a wash and a bit of drybrushing, they really add some texture to what would look like a flat piece of foam board.RuinsComplete

I’m pretty happy how they turned out. They look decent and are certainly cheap assemble and paint. Lastly, I was able to get a nice amount of terrain to put together for my Frostgrave games. Give it a try if you need a quick and dirty way to make a bunch of ruins. I’m doing a bit of a different setting for my games to match up with using current models, but these would look just fine on a snow battle mat.RuinsFinal

Drones and Probes for Gates of Antares

I haven’t taken the plunge yet for getting an army together for Gates of Antares. Instead I’ve been using a lot of my 15mm sci-fi stuff as proxy forces and have been having quite a bit of fun. Maybe later I’ll consider eventually getting a batrep done. Seems 15mm is a great way to jump into the game if on the fence wanting to give the rules a test drive.

I’m liking the Algoryns and might work on that faction. However Warlord Games is still trying to expand that model range for them. And sadly the choices for that force are only in metal. While I dig the heft of metal figures, the cost compared to plastic kits is pretty hard to swallow. Might have to clear my bench some of stuff to paint before I consider jumping into another range of models.

Nonetheless one thing I’ve been missing with my proxy forces is a way to represent drones and probes. GoA uses gobs of em. I really dig having some small bonus abilities represented by models on the table. However I wanted to actually get a figure down that I could push around over just using tokens or painted bases.

I picked up some cheap plastic beads I felt would fit the bill for using as probe models. The cost for a huge gross is dirt cheap. Just head to a craft store and check out the craft jewelry section. Being about 7-9mm across, they are perfect for drones.ProbeB

I wanted to have them floating about though and was considering using some wire, but then I stumbled on some clear plastic tubing for modelling. The material is acrylic and the stuff I got was in 3mm diameter. Perfect for mounting a floating drone onto a base.ProbeA

The pickle I had however was that the tubing was pretty large so I had to drill and file a larger hole into the plastic bead. Fortunately the beads have a hole already in them (for stringing wire and string through). So I could easily use those as a guide hole when using a larger drill bit. Drilling and filing a portion out of some 20mm slot bases, I was able to use a bit of instant bonding cement to assemble the entire thing.ProbeC

The downside of using beads is that there is a small hole drilled into the top of my probes. So I had to use a bit of green stuff to fill it it. I also used green stuff to fill in the gaps for the slot base.


A bit of paint, drybrush a tad, some flock for the base, and bam…there’s a spotter drone. One thing I like about the model is I can use a variety of colors to indicate different types of drones and probes. The downside is that the beads have a particular pattern on the surface making my painting schemes a limited some. This was a quick prototype and I didn’t quite get the pattern and look to what I’d like, but I can touch it up later.ProbeE

Hope folks find this helpful. It was super easy to do and pretty cheap. Considering you can end up with a lot of spotter drones for your units, along with support choices, I think you’ll end up needing quite a few drones for your typical GoA force. This isn’t a bad way to get a lot of models assembled for your force quickly (and cheaply).

Jungle terrain using plastic plants

I’ve been slowly working on some more Pacific-themed terrain for Bolt Action. One stickler for me was getting some appropriate woods for a table together. I’ve got some decent trees that could work for deciduous forest, but really nothing that would work for jungle terrain.

Cruising through a small pet store I stumbled on some inspiration finding fish breeding bedding for aquariums. This lead me to also hitting up a local arts and crafts store to buy some plastic floral arrangements.

With a craft knife and a hot glue gun, I was able to remove sections of plastic plants and mount them on metal washers. A coat of plastic primer and flat green paint, along with a simple drybrush of a lighter green and I was able to whip up quite a few stands of jungle trees and overgrowth. I cut many sections at varying heights and mixed and matched them to provide a little more realistic look.

They really look pretty well and being on separate bases, I can move them around to accommodate larger teams and vehicles. Next to some 20mm Japanese troops I painted up, they’ve got an appropriate height and occupy a good chunk of area to offer cover. They were also a snap to get together. Certainly one of my more easier terrain projects to complete. Making trees and jungle terrain this way is easy and offer some decent terrain for your Pacific theater games.

Gripping Beast Saxon Thegns

While I enjoy SAGA I need to admit Frostgrave has sort of taken over my painting drive. I assembled my SAGA warbands a long while back but actually giving them a coat of paint has been a chore. I’ve really been dragging my feet on them. Love the game but my spark for painting the figures consistently seems to flare up for only a few days and then die down to a smoldering ember for months.

But I’ve managed to get some troops painted up. One big draw for me getting into SAGA was the relatively low model count and cheap options for figures. I decided to pick up a few sets of Saxon Thegns from different manufacturers as I wanted to build both Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Dane warbands. That way I could switch around some of the hearthguard and warlord models, but keep much of the core force of warrior models the same.

I opted for one box of Gripping Beast Saxon Thegns. They are a nice set of plastic figures for a decent price. You get a whopping 44 minis, including a sprue to make a standard bearer, horn blower, and some details like a cloak to deck out one model making it your warlord. For Anglo Saxons a lot of battle board abilities revolve around 10 man units. I’ve puttered around with a few hearthguard but I’m now leaning towards using more warrior units to take advantage of the 10 man abilities. So having a lot of extra figures is welcome.GrippingSaxonB

The plastic figures are well detailed with some nice armament options. You get 5 bodies per sprue with a few extra to make up the command elements. They assemble well and are pretty easy to glue together. Square bases also come with the set including some larger bases for single ranks. I’m using round bases instead but it’s nice to have some included in the box. I’m no expert but the gear and figures seem historically accurate and it’s nice to see a ton of spears in the set also.

I’m slacking on the historical accuracy some though. To keep things clean with WYSIWYG with the warrior units in SAGA, I’m keeping them in mail armor and dropping the shields. This is passable with the figures I’ve got, but I’ll admit the right arms are sculpted to accommodate shields. I decided to base them without shields, saving those for the hearthguard.GrippingSaxonA

Now another manufacturer floating around with nice medieval plastic sets is Wargames Factory. I imagine a lot of folks would like to know how they stack up and could you mix and match them. The pic below is of two Saxon Thegn figures from each company. The one on the left is from Wargames Factory and the one on the right is from Gripping Beast. I think they are very comparable for scale. The Gripping Beast figures seem a little more stocky in the shoulders and arms, but painted up they don’t really stand apart from each other.WargamesVsGrippingBeast

Overall if I was pressed to stick with one set over another, I’d go with Gripping Beast figures. The minis have a little more detail. There are some nice small bits that stand out (like necklace crucifixes) with the Gripping Beast Saxons. They really are fine minis for a good price and work great for getting up a core force of rank and file figures for your SAGA warband.