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This group is all about sharing great pics of beautiful models and other cool hobby stuff.

Why not show of your latest tip, trick or colour scheme and lets all get inspired.

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Nodri’s Ramblings, Tutorials, & Terrain (Pic Heavy) (35 posts)

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  • Avatar Image nodri150p said 10 months ago:

    Some say the world will end in fire,
    Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire…

    -Robert Frost

    Like many hobbyists, I’ve been playing BoW Weekenders in the background for years while I work. I think making art is fun and during the last few months I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the increase in both the amount and quality of hobby & terrain related topics on BoW. In particular, I really like Hobby Night Live both for the content of the show itself and for the way it engages the community. After listening to the first episode, I decided to bite the bullet and get involved. Everything I know about wargaming has come from online tutorials followed by large amounts trial & error. I think it’s only fair to return the favor and share what I’ve learned.

    Back in 2012, I saw previews of a new wargame called Dropzone Commander by Hawk Wargames and was immediately struck by both the Post Human Republic (PHR) and Unified Colonies of Mankind (UCM) factions. For reasons I’ll never understand, the creative voice in my head repeatedly screamed “I have to paint that!” Two mega armies and five years later – I’m still not done. The combination of the 10mm scale with the overall game aesthetic has made it an enormous amount of fun to build and paint and I’m enjoying taking my time.

    During that time I took very good notes and have been posting them over on Hawk’s forum. Because I’m such a slow painter, the overall post count has been very low – but they’re loooooong. Experimentation, at least in my case, does not lend itself well to regular forum posting. It does, however, result in some really fun tutorials. They’re in the process of being updated and I will share them here in the near future. Once everything is current, I’ll continue with new posts about whatever’s on my workbench.

    Early on, my best estimate was that each army would require a year to build, magnetize, and paint. That was about five years ago. To date I’ve prepped, magnetized, and fully painted over 5,000 points of PHR and have
    prepped and magnetized about the same amount of UCM.

    Sometime during the summer of 2016, I found myself done with the PHR and decided to take on a side project before beginning work on the next army. That side project was a custom 4′ x 6′ table that has evolved into a hobby adventure the likes of which I never would’ve imagined early on. Construction finished a few weeks ago and I’ve moved back into my comfort zone of painting. There are two main things that I’ve learned from this project. The first is that I absolutely love scratchbuilding terrain due to the incredible degree of creative freedom. The second is that buying materials in hardware store quantities means that I can build a lot of it. As a result, the table has taken on a life of its own and has morphed into something a bit eccentric. At some point in the future it may even cross the line to downright weird. Time will tell.

    Also on my project list is a Commodore pledge for Dropfleet that sits untouched in its box. I’ll probably get a fleet painted once the table is done. That said, I also need to get some of the newer models painted for the PHR (Thors and a Hera in particular) and a few other odds & ends. Once all of that is out of the way, the UCM will finally see paint.

    That should give you a rough idea of what to expect in this plog. C&C are always welcome and I hope you’ll share any questions or other thoughts that you may have. The more discussion the better. :D

    Here’s some photos of my PHR army. The group image isn’t quite up to date, but photos of additional models follow. After that, you’ll find the first tutorial that details how the army was painted.

    “Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine.”
    -Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Avatar Image nodri150p said 10 months ago:

    There is nothing here that is technically difficult to do. It’s all basic techniques.

    Painting this army was a perfect excuse to practice all of the fundamental hobby skills over and over, utilizing both an airbrush and traditional hairy sticks. I practiced thinning paint, brush control, blending, shading, highlighting, mixing colors, and working with washes & ghost tints. Achieving an understanding of color theory & contrast was also necessary.

    Before we get into the painting, let’s take a moment to discuss the color palette. A quick google search will give you a wealth of online tutorials detailing the finer points of color theory, so I won’t go into it here. What I will discuss is the practical application of color theory with regards to this army’s color scheme.

    The summer that DzC was released was particularly dry and we had some really bad fires up in the canyons. The smell of smoke combined with the wide smooth contours of the PHR inspired me to go with a lava theme. I decided that red would be the shade, orange would be the midtone, and yellow would be the highlight. I then selected an accent color by selecting the midtone’s compliment (blue) to complete the triad.

    Using a triad ensures that the colors will work well together (they’re equally spaced on the color wheel) and also creates the opportunity for more contrast. Due to their tiny size, contrast is particularly important on 10mm models. It can be created in two main ways. The first is by painting bright and dark areas in close proximity to each other. The second by putting warm colors (red/orange/yellow) next to cool colors (green/blue/violet). Considering all of these factors carefully before painting (or not) will have a substantial impact on the final look of the model.

    If you need some additional help with color theory or how it applies to your army, please let me know.

    The lava theme had the convenient benefit of being a pretty forgiving color scheme to paint (meaning errors were relatively easy to correct). For someone who was just learning how to use an airbrush to do something more than priming/base coating/varnishing, this was a huge benefit.

    In the image below, the black arrows indicate the colors that are actually painted on the models. The grey arrows show how those colors relate to each other in a triad. Note that orange & blue are compliments (they are opposite each other on the color wheel).

    How to Paint Blazing Hot PHR

    *Sand, scrape, clean, magnetize and gap-fill the model before beginning.
    *This tutorial utilizes the following shorthand when referring to Vallejo colors:

    VGC = Vallejo Game Color, VMC = Vallejo Model Color, VGA = Vallejo Game Air, VMA = Vallejo Model Air

    Zenithal Highlights with Vallejo Black, Grey, and White Primers (Airbrush)

    1. Base: Vallejo Black Primer

    a. 1st Highlight: Vallejo Grey Primer

    b. 2nd Highlight: Vallejo White Primer

    Yellow Trim (Airbrush)

    1. Base / Edge Highlight: Minitaire 121 Irradiated Yellow

    2. 1st Shade: Minitaire 125 Warning Yellow

    3. 2nd Shade: Minitaire 126 Pumpkin

    4. 3rd Shade: Minitaire 129 Scorching Red

    5. Clean edge with sharp hobby Q-tip dipped in Simple Green and blotted on a towel for sharp edge highlight.
    a. Use regular Q-tip as above for softer blending.

    6. Ghost Tint: Minitaire 170 Yellow over entire surface.

    First Varnish (Airbrush)

    1. 2 Coats Vallejo Gloss Varnish
    a. Do not use Testor’s Gloss Cote because it will become partially (or completely) dissolved by liquid mask and is likely to peel off the model in rubbery sheets.
    b. This is not fun to fix, but possible.
    c. This can also happen to Vallejo Gloss if the first coat of the liquid mask is too thick.

    Apply Liquid Mask

    1. Apply 2-3 coats.
    a. The first coat must be thin in order to reduce the risk of damaging the underlying varnish.
    b. Later coats may be thicker provided the first coat is dry.
    c. Use hobby masking tape to cover areas with lots of detail (vents, guns, etc.).
    d. Makes removing the masks easier.
    e. Get very close to edges on all coats.
    f. After each coat, place the model in front of a fan as soon as possible.
    g. This substantially reduces the risk of the mask eating through the varnish.

    2. Allow to dry overnight in front of a fan.

    3. Masks must be removed within 72 hours or the risk of the underlying paint peeling off increases.
    a. Removal in less than 48 hours is preferred.
    b. Plan ahead. Make sure you can plan the time to paint and remove the masks especially when batch painting.
    c. The masks also get hard over time and are more likely to leave rough edges or peel off the underlying paint.

    Dark Red Body (Airbrush)

    1. Apply 1 coat of Vallejo Black Primer over unmasked areas.

    a. 1st Highlight: Vallejo Grey Primer

    b. 2nd Highlight: Vallejo White Primer

    2. Base: 2 parts Minitaire 132 Innards to 1 part Minitaire 102 Raven Black

    3. 1st Highlight: Minitaire132 Innards

    4. 2nd Highlight: Minitaire 130 Nebula Red

    5. Ghost Tint: Minitaire 173 Magenta over entire surface ( 1 Magenta : 5 H2O)

    6. Remove Masking.
    a. All edges must be scored with a new x-acto blade or paint will peel off.
    b. Remove remaining crumbs of mask with a beading awl, toothpick, or sharp hobby q-tip dipped in simple green.
    c. Brush paint touch-ups where needed.

    7. Airbrush Vallejo Matte Varnish over entire model.

    8. Edge Highlight: VGC Bloody Red.
    a. Wash with Minitaire 179 Fresh Blood (1 Fresh Blood : 4 H2O) over all dark red surfaces.

    Metallic Undercarriage & Pipes

    1. Base: VGC Bright Bronze

    2. Wash: VMC Smoke (1 Airbrush Thinner : 3 H2O : 2 Smoke)

    3. 1st Highlight: VMA Gold

    4. Edge Highlight: VMA Bright Brass

    Blue Lenses

    1. I was dumb and took no photos. Follow this pattern with colors below:

    2. Base: Black
    3. Base: VGC Stormy Blue
    4. 1st Highlight: VGC Magic Blue
    5. 2nd Highlight: VGC Electric Blue
    6. 3rd Highlight (Dots): VGC Dead White
    7. Ghost Tint: Minitaire 180 Plasma Fluid (2 Plasma Fluid : 3 H2O)
    8. Apply 2 coats of Vallejo Gloss Varnish to each lens after the model receives its final coat of varnish.


    1. Base: 2 VGC Chainmail : 1 VGC Black

    2. Wash: 1 Nuln Oil : 2 H2O

    3. Highlight: 1 VMA Silver : 1 Airbrush Thinner)

    Second Varnish (Airbrush) & Trim

    1. 1 Coat Matte Medium (2 Matte Medium : 1 H2O)

    2. 1 Coat Gloss Varnish (Vallejo or Testors)

    3. Trim Lines
    a. Base: VGC Bright Bronze
    b. Wash: VMC Smoke (1 Airbrush Thinner : 1 H2O : 1 Smoke)
    c. Highlights: None (pushes trim into background)

    4. Non-Metallic Vents
    a. Wash grooves with – 2 H2O : 4 [179]Fresh Blood : 1 [178] Oil Discharge

    5. Dots
    a. Base: VMA Bright Brass
    b. Clean area with sharp hobby q-tip dipped in Simple Green and blotted on a towel for clean edges.

    6. Final Coats
    a. Brush coat 2 Matte Medium : 1 H2O over freshly painted areas.
    b. Airbrush 2 Coats Testors Gloss Varnish
    c. Spray 1 Coat Testors Dullcote
    d. Airbrush 2 Coats ModelMaster Semi-Gloss
    e. Brush on Vallejo Gloss Varnish on lenses.

    How to Paint Blue Fire

    It’s immediately obvious that Barros & Caine are not painted to match the rest of the army. This was done for a couple of reasons. First, blue and orange are complimentary colors, so they’ll pop when placed next to each other. Blue also makes sense for special commanders in a fire themed army because blue is the hottest part.

    In addition, I’ve painted excessive amounts of yellow, orange, and red over the last few years and I was in desperate need of a break. It was fun to experiment with a monochromatic color scheme for the first time (there are no colors except blue in shades and tones from black to white).

    So without further ado, let’s get started.

    First, I made a custom flier base and installed magnets in Barros & the Poseidon. Complete details on magnetizing the PHR and making custom bases will be found in a later tutorials.

    The models were then primed with Vallejo Black Surface Primer applied via airbrush.

    I then made a stencil on the Silhouette Portrait out of adhesive frisket film and applied it to the models. The Barros & Poseidon stencils are the same size. The stencils on Caine and Barros’ tail gun are smaller but are also both the same size.

    I used the same stencils for these models that I did for the shields. All were made using the Silhouette Portrait to cut transparency film.

    Next, the flames were mapped and airbrushed on with Minitaire 103 Snow White. This first layer of flames was made by using the airbrush in conjunction with the stencils. There was minimal freehanding with the airbrush. This process was difficult on Barros & the Poseidon due to scale. It was nearly impossible on Caine due to an even smaller scale. For this reason, I balanced the flames with zenithal highlighting (visible across most of Caine, the legs of Barros, and the turbofan housings on the Poseidon, among other locations).

    Minitaire 150 Royal Blood was then applied to the shadows, leaving white showing through the highlights and midtones.

    Minitaire 148 Lagoon Blue was then applied to all remaining white areas.

    Minitaire 174 Ghost Tint Blue was sprayed across the entire model.

    An intercoat (protective layer) of Matte medium was sprayed over the entire model. Dilute the matte medium to the consistency of thinned paint.

    I then reapplied the stencils to the models and sprayed them with Minitaire 103 Snow White to bring back the highlights.

    Next, I applied Minitaire 103 Snow White freehand with the airbrush (for the record, I’m using an Iwata Eclipse HP-CS). This is where things get challenging at such a small scale. The ideal is to reapply highlights while leaving room for the underlying layer to show through. At such a small scale, this is extremely difficult bordering on impossible. I attempted to apply the flames in the same way as had been done in the first step (i.e. with the stencils) but it just didn’t look right. I instead opted to freehand the highlights which resulted in more depth, but also caused the flames to have more of a surreal, plasma-like feel vs. a formal fire look.

    It may be possible to improve on this with practice, but I’m not sure at this stage if I’ve hit the limits of my tools, my skills, or (most likely) both. More practice will be necessary to say for sure.

    Minitaire 180 Ghost Tint Plasma Fluid was airbrushed all over the models.

    A second intercoat of diluted matte medium was applied.

    I then used a regular brush to apply the metallic layers. The base is VMA 71 Arctic Blue; the first highlight is VMA 71 Arctic Blue 1 to 1 with VMA 63 Silver.

    Next, touchups were performed with Minitaire 150 Royal Blood and then all metallic areas were washed in Minitaire 180 Plasma Fluid diluted 1:1 with acrylic airbrush thinner.

    A final highlight of VMA 63 Silver was applied to all metallic areas. The entire model was then given another intercoat of diluted matte medium.

    The matte medium was allowed to cure overnight and VMA 64 Chrome was brushed on to all lenses. Two coats of Testor’s Glosscote were sprayed over the entire model. The Glosscote was allowed to cure overnight.

    Once the gloss varnish cured, I used a beading awl to re-define all of the dots on the models by gently pressing the tip of the awl into each dot. I then painted VMA 63 Silver over all of the dots and wiped off the excess with a cotton bud dipped in tap water. This gives a nice, clean look to the dots without making them too fiddly to paint.

    I then painted diluted matte medium over the dots with a brush to prevent frosting of the varnish.

    Next I sprayed the models with two coats of Testors Dullcote which was allowed to cure overnight. The Dullcote is applied over the Glosscote because both are solvent-based and the Dullcote will dissolve the surface of the Glosscote. When dry, the Dullcote will provide texture that will improve the adhesion of the acrylic varnish.

    The next day, two coats of Testors Acryl 4637 Semigloss Varnish was airbrushed over the models. Done.

    I think that they came out well overall. I’d still like to do some more practice to see if it’s possible to get a better layered effect of the flames at this scale. As I said earlier, it’s possible that I’m pushing the limit of my tools but more practice is never a bad thing.

    The next few tutorials (painting troops/PHR magnets/custom bases) are already in the works and will be posted in the fairly near future.

    Questions and comments are welcome as always. :D

  • Avatar Image rasmus4648p said 10 months ago:

    Striking colours – make me almost regret my own simpler colour scheme

    Official graduate of the Oriskany Operational Warfare Military Gaming Academy
    Warrens personal Viking Henchman
  • Avatar Image theeuropean8p said 10 months ago:

    Incredible work Nodri!
    great painting, thanks for the pics and tutorial!
    Have you used them in battle?

  • Avatar Image seldon91846p said 10 months ago:

    @nodri Beautiful work, your army looks stunning. I wish I could give you more points.

  • Avatar Image mbdeyes150p said 10 months ago:

    Ok… I’ll be stealing some of the techniques for airbrushing and stenciling! thanks for sharing.

  • Avatar Image tchrin336p said 10 months ago:

    Beautiful models, and an excellent step by step guide too. Thank you, unfortunately I can only thumbs up once!

    If possible I would love to see a similar step by step guide to your gorgeous lava bases too please!

    Enthusiastic Amateur Hobbyist
    Slowly (re)learning after a 15 year hiatus from the hobby
  • Avatar Image gorillawithabrush947p said 10 months ago:

    Thank you for taking the time to explain everything so clearly. You rock!

    Interested in following my painting progress? I post WIP pictures after each painting session and am happy to chat about the hobby any time. Facebook: @GorillaPainter; Twitter: @GorillaBrush; Website:; Twitch Streaming:
  • Avatar Image nodri150p said 10 months ago:

    Thanks guys for all the kind words! I’m glad all this work is going to good use.

    @rasmus Never regret a color scheme. Everything is good for practice and anything is better than unpainted. :)

    @theeuropean You’re welcome. Not all of the models have seen table time, but many have. I’m not very good as a gamer, so I won’t say they’ve done especially well…

    @seldon9 What do points do anyway? I’m still new to posting here and haven’t picked up all of this forum’s particular nuances.

    @mbdeyes Feel free and please share. I’d love to see what you create!

    @tchrin There is a full painting tutorial as part of the “Making Custom Bases” tutorial. It’ll be the next one I post (hopefully within a week or so, they do take a bit of effort to put together).

    @gorillawithabrush I’m glad the tutorial format works well for you. If you see room for improvement, let me know.

    Thanks again guys. The whole point of this thread is to give back and you’ve already validated my efforts. Getting active with BoW was clearly the right call. :)

    I will keep the tutorials coming.

  • Avatar Image nodri150p said 10 months ago:

    The next installment is ready!

    Troops & Bases

    Troops – Immortals

    1. Sand & clean troops.

    2. Super glue individually to wooden coffee stirrer.
    a. One model pose per stick (I find it’s faster to paint the same pose over and over.).

    3. Apply zenithal highlight with Vallejo Black, Grey & White Primers.

    4. Follow the “Dark Red Body” steps that were described in the first tutorial (use an airbrush).
    a. Base: 2 parts Minitaire 132 Innards to 1 part Minitaire 102 Raven Black
    b. 1st Highlight: Minitaire 132 Innards
    c. 2nd Highlight: Minitaire 130 Nebula Red
    d. Ghost Tint: Minitaire 173 Magenta over entire surface ( 1 Magenta : 5 H2O)

    5. Brush paint Vallejo White Primer on future yellow & blue areas.

    6. Follow the “Yellow Trim” steps that were described in the first tutorial but use a brush instead.
    a. Base / Edge Highlight: Minitaire 121 Irradiated Yellow
    b. 1st Shade: Minitaire 125 Warning Yellow
    c. 2nd Shade: Minitaire 126 Pumpkin
    d. 3rd Shade: Minitaire 129 Scorching Red
    e. Clean edge with sharp hobby Q-tip dipped in Simple Green and blotted on a towel for sharp edge highlight.
    f. Use regular Q-tip for softer blending.
    g. Ghost Tint: Minitaire 170 Yellow over entire surface.

    7. Follow the “Metallic Undercarriage & Pipes” as described in the first tutorial.
    a. Base: VGC Bright Bronze
    b. Wash: VMC Smoke (1 Airbrush Thinner : 3 H2O : 2 Smoke)
    c. 1st Highlight: VMA Gold
    d. Edge Highlight: VMA Bright Brass

    8. Follow the “Blue Lenses” as described in the first tutorial.
    a. Base: Black
    b. Base: VGC Stormy Blue
    c. 1st Highlight: VGC Magic Blue
    d. 2nd Highlight: VGC Electric Blue
    e. 3rd Highlight (Dots): VGC Dead White
    f. Ghost Tint: Minitaire 180 Plasma Fluid (2 Plasma Fluid : 3 H2O)
    g. Apply 2 coats of Vallejo Gloss Varnish to each lens after the model receives its final coat of varnish.

    9. Brush on gloss varnish over troop chests.
    a. Paint dots with Vallejo Model Air 067 Bright Brass.
    b. Clean area around dots with sharp hobby damp with Simple Green.

    10. Airbrush troops with diluted matte medium.

    11. Varnish with ModelMaster Acryl Semi-Gloss.

    12. Varnish lenses with Vallejo Gloss.

    13. For bases, see Building Custom Troop Bases below.

    Troops – Sirens

    1. Sand & clean troops.

    2. Super glue individually to wooden coffee stirrer.
    a. One model pose per stick.

    3. Zenithally prime troops.

    4. Follow “Dark Red Body” steps described in the first tutorial (use an airbrush).
    a. Base: 2 parts Minitaire 132 Innards to 1 part Minitaire 102 Raven Black
    b. 1st Highlight: Minitaire132 Innards
    c. 2nd Highlight: Minitaire 130 Nebula Red
    d. Ghost Tint: Minitaire 173 Magenta over entire surface ( 1 Magenta : 5 H2O)

    5. Flesh:
    a. Base with Minitaire 139 Rugged Skin
    b. Highlight Minitaire 137 Fairytale Flesh
    c. Shade with Minitaire 167 Ghost Tint Brown (1 Brown : 4 H2O)

    6. Hair:
    a. Base with Minitaire 109 Badger Fur.
    b. Highlight with Minitaire 101 Base Grey
    c. Shade with Minitaire 178 Ghost Tint Oil Discharge (1 Discharge : 6 H2O)
    d. Clean off excess Discharge with sharp hobby q-tip damp with Simple Green.

    7. Follow “Metallic Undercarriage & Pipes” as described in the first tutorial.
    a. Base: VGC Bright Bronze
    b. Wash: VMC Smoke (1 Airbrush Thinner : 3 H2O : 2 Smoke)
    c. 1st Highlight: VMA Gold
    d. Edge Highlight: VMA Bright Brass

    8. Follow “Yellow Trim” steps described in the first tutorial but with a brush.
    a. Apply Vallejo White Primer to future yellow areas.
    b. Base / Edge Highlight: Minitaire 121 Irradiated Yellow
    c. 1st Shade: Minitaire 125 Warning Yellow
    d. 2nd Shade: Minitaire 126 Pumpkin
    e. 3rd Shade: Minitaire 129 Scorching Red
    f. Clean edge with sharp hobby Q-tip dipped in Simple Green and blotted on a towel for sharp edge highlight.
    g. Use regular Q-tip for softer blending.
    h. Ghost Tint: Minitaire 170 Yellow over entire surface.

    9. Airbrush with diluted matte medium.

    10. Varnish with ModelMaster Acryl Semi-Gloss.

    11. Varnish lenses with Vallejo Gloss.

    12. See Building Custom Troop Bases below.

    A note on all custom bases: With the exception of the choice of colors, all of the steps listed below to create custom bases can be very easily modified to fit your army’s theme. If you come up with your own variations, please share them here.

    Building Custom Troop Bases

    1. Sand & clean bases.
    a. Bend flat by soaking in hot tap water if needed.

    2. Fill holes in the base with Vallejo Plastic Putty
    a. This stuff shrinks a lot. Be sure to overfill significantly.

    3. When the putty has dried, trim off the overfill with a hobby knife.

    4. Repeat above is necessary to completely fill holes.

    5. Sand flush with base and wipe off dust with a damp cloth.

    6. Tear cork to shape for lava islands.
    a. Drill holes or carve a groove in the top of the cork for troops.
    b. Test fit troops for placement and depth.

    7. Paint cork with 2 coats of watered down PVA.
    a. This seals the cork and makes painting easier.
    b. Allow to dry fully (overnight at least in front of a fan) between coats.

    8. Superglue cork to base.

    9. Fill in surface of base around cork with undiluted PVA for flowing lava
    a. Apply thick.
    b. May need two coats.
    c. Allow to dry fully between coats in front of a fan.

    10. Prime edges, cork, and underside black.

    11. Prime hot lava areas white.

    12. Continue to Painting Lava Bases below.

    13. After painting but before varnishing, paint the edges of the bases black with a brush.

    Building Custom Magnetic Walker Bases

    1. Note that there is one 1/8” x 1/16” magnet in each foot of each walker (in addition to lots of other magnets, but that’s a later tutorial…).

    2. Buy 3/16” x 1-1/4” fender washers from the hardware store.

    3. Sand the washers with course sandpaper.

    4. Wash the washers with Simple Green in an ultrasonic cleaner (or soak them in Simple Green for a bit).
    a. Dish soap may also work, but I haven’t tried it. The point is to remove any oils from the metal to ensure proper
    adhesion of the glue & primer.

    5. Rinse under hot water.

    6. Let dry.

    7. Put on gloves (important!) before filling hole in center with Squadron White Putty (or any generic modeling putty).
    a. Squeeze tube through center.
    b. Slide washer off end of tube.
    c. Flatten resulting ball of putty with gloved fingers.
    d. Work in to edges of hole.
    e. Let cure overnight on drying rack.

    9. Sand putty flush with surface of washer on both sides.
    a. Wipe off dust with damp cloth.

    10. Apply ½ drop of very thin CA glue to putty on each side of washer. Allow to dry.
    a. Be sure to spread lightly around edges of hole and across all of the dried putty.
    b. This hardens the putty considerably.
    c. It also seals the putty to the washer, making the base far more durable.

    11. Lightly sand if needed.
    a. If sanded, wipe with a damp cloth to remove dust.

    12. Cover one side with undiluted PVA for lava.
    a. Instead of PVA, you can apply 1-2 coats of your texture material of choice.
    b. Test a magnetized model on the base after each coat dries.
    c. If the texture is too thick, the model won’t be able to stick to the base.

    13. Allow to dry.

    14. Apply Vallejo Black Lava for islands.
    a. Test fit walkers on bases to see where lava can be placed.
    b. There must be enough exposed lava for both feet to touch in order for the magnets to work.

    15. Prime PVA white. Overspray is ok on the black lava.

    16. Paint as described in Painting Lava Bases below.

    17. After painting but before varnishing paint the edges black and apply a second layer of Black lava over the first.
    a. This will remove all over spray from priming & painting.
    b. Also thickens the lava islands for better effect.

    18. Continue with varnishing as described in Painting Lava Bases below.

    How To Build Custom Flier/Skimmer Bases

    1. Some of the steps in this section cross the line from modeling into woodworking.
    a. Woodworking tools include a scroll saw (Ryobi 16” 160c – an oldie but a goodie), circular saw, power drill, chalk line, tape measure, and a speed square. They’re used in the creation of the MDF bases.
    b. Instead of MDF, you may use hardboard, 1/8″ plywood, or similar.
    c. Finishing the MDF bases uses tools and materials that are common to hobbyists. In addition, they will vary based upon the army theme.

    2. If you don’t possess or aren’t comfortable with the power tools listed:
    a. Seriously consider buying an alternative or finding someone who’ll cut them for you.
    b. If you’re a masochist and insist on doing it anyway:
    c. The rough cuts can be done with any hand saw.
    d. The ovals can be cut with a coping saw.
    e. Holes can be drilled with a pin vice or Dremel.

    Cutting Out the MDF Bases

    1. Obligatory Norm Abram Safety Quote

    Before we use any power tools, let’s take a moment to talk about shop safety. Be sure to read, understand, and follow all the safety rules that come with your power tools. Knowing how to use your power tools properly will greatly reduce the risk of personal injury. And remember this: there is no more important safety rule than to wear these — safety glasses...and a respirator. Not a dust mask. A respirator. MDF sawdust is really bad for the lungs and you will get covered in it.

    2. Lay out templates in rows and measure length and width of the row.
    a. Remember to make one extra of each size to be used as templates later.

    3. Cut 1/8” MDF strips wide enough for 1” of excess on each side of the oval with circular saw.
    a. Wipe the strips with a barely damp cloth to remove sawdust.

    4. Spray paper patterns with spray adhesive.
    a. This stuff gets everywhere. Do it outside.
    b. Very quick, light spray on paper only.
    c. If the spray adhesive is applied to one surface then the bond is temporary. This is what we want.
    d. If the spray adhesive is applied to both surfaces then the bond is permanent. This is very bad.

    5. Attach patterns to MDF.

    6. Leave gap of ½” between paper pattern edges where MDF is exposed.

    7. Repeat until all patterns are attached.

    8. Lay clear packing tape across the MDF & patterns.
    a. Cover the entire surface to seal the patterns to the MDF.
    b. Heated packing tape adhesive lubricates the scroll saw blade and makes cutting curves much easier.
    c. Old woodworkers’ trick. ;)

    9. With a screw gun, drill a 1/8” hole into the corner of each pattern (through the paper).
    a. Place about ½” away from the oval.
    b. This will allow the scroll saw blade to be threaded through the hole.
    c. Keeping the off-cut in one solid piece reduces pattern vibration & makes following the pattern easier.
    d. When the cut is complete, the blade can be run through the off-cut to free the base.

    10. Attach the blade to the scroll saw.

    11. Properly tension the blade.

    12. Hook up air pump to saw.
    a. If your scroll saw is older or if you want a better flow of air over the blade, use a fish tank air pump hooked up to the air nozzle on the scroll saw. The tubing is a perfect fit.

    13. Put on safety glasses & respirator.

    14. Cut through each gap between the patterns, making the pattern strips of MDF into individual rectangles.
    a. Remember that the blade of a scroll saw is never perpendicular to the edge of the table.
    b. Use this rough cutting step to determine the proper alignment for the stock through the saw.

    15. Repeat this process for each individual pattern:
    a. Remove scroll saw blade & feed through hole in pattern.
    b. Hold the MDF and turn on the saw.
    c. Make a cut perpendicular to the line on the oval.
    d. Make sharp turn with the blade on to the line. Begin turning sharp just before reaching the line.
    e. This is a delicate skill and requires practice.

    f. Follow the pattern keeping the blade on the outside of the line.
    g. Place your pivot finger in the middle of the pattern to hold it down.
    h. Rotate the pattern with your other hand.

    i. When the base is finished, saw through the off-cut to free the pattern.
    j. Turn off the saw.
    k. Remove packing tape & paper from MDF. They will peel off easily.
    l. Sand the base and toss it into the pile.
    m. Due to the small size, I don’t recommend using a handheld pad sander. I used foam sanding pads for a rounder look, but a sanding block or bench sander are other options that would be better for hard edges.

    16. When all bases are cut out, clean the bases with a shop vac.
    a. Also clean tools & work area.
    b. Wipe down all bases with a barely damp cloth to remove remaining saw dust.
    c. Allow to dry while you go take a shower. You will be covered in sawdust at this point.

    17. The extra pattern bases mentioned in step 2 are used for marking the centers of all the bases without having to repeat the math. To find the center of an ellipse:
    a. Draw two arbitrary parallel lines cutting chords across the ellipse (in red).
    b. Bisect the chords and draw a line through the midpoints (blue).
    c. Bisect the resulting line. The bisecting point is the center of the ellipse.

    d. Drill a small hole in center of the template base.

    18. Mark each base with pencil. Then drill holes in each base to fit the peg on the Hawk Widget (or your flight stand of choice for other games).

    19. Paint bases with 2 thin coats of watered down PVA to seal the MDF. If this step is skipped the first few coats of paint will be absorbed unevenly.
    a. Go easy. Too much PVA will warp the MDF.
    b. Dry the bases in front of a fan.

    19. Super glue fender washers (i.e. walker bases) to each base to add weight & stability.
    a. Center the hole in the washer around the hole in the base.
    b. A Hawk Widget is then glued into the hole.

    **Note that the flight peg attaches to the base with a Widget, but to the model with a magnet. This design has two key advantages. First, the Widget allows for a very solid connection between the base and the flight peg. Second, the flight stands are collapsible for transport.**

    20. You can do anything to finish the bases.
    a. The washer can be concealed with filler, Milliput, glue, texture paste, ballast, flock, etc.
    b. From this point on, every project will vary based upon the design of the army or the gaming table.

    For Lava Bases:

    1. Tear cork to fit each base (same as infantry bases). For large pieces, drill a hole in the middle for the Widget.

    2. Paint cork with 2 coats of watered down PVA and let dry overnight in front of a fan.

    3. Superglue the cork to the washer.
    a. The underside of the cork will float above the MDF portion of the base about 1/16”.

    3. Fill the gap under the cork and around the Widget with undiluted PVA.
    a. Allow to dry fully in front of a fan.

    4. Blend any remaining irregularities in the base with Milliput.
    a. This may include gap-filling between MDF & cork.
    b. Is also used to conceal any exposed parts of washer.
    c. Do not be too scientific. Just make non-cork areas look like flowing lava.

    5. Paint all lava areas with undiluted PVA (same as troop & walker bases).
    a. Allow to dry fully.

    6. Prime cork black & lava white with Vallejo acrylic primers.

    7. Paint as described in Painting Lava Bases below.

    8. After painting but before varnishing, paint the edge of the bases in black with a brush.

    9. Varnish as described in Painting Lava Bases below.

    Flight Pegs

    1. Cut 1/8” acrylic rod to 5 15/16” (flier) or 3/8” (skimmer).
    a. Use a hobby saw & miter.

    2. Glue the magnet on to one end.
    a. Make sure the polarity works with magnets in your fliers (more on magnetizing models in a later post).

    3. Test fit the rods & Widgets. Note that Hawk Widgets and clear rods are made with a high degree of precision so that they seat well. 1/8″ rods that you get from a hobby store will have some variance. If the rod is too thick, sand it down lightly; if it’s too small, dip the tip in a little CA glue for added girth (I’m sure there’s a joke in here someplace, but I’m not touching it).

    Painting Lava Bases (Airbrush)

    1. Minitaire 142 Dark Leather around the edges of lava islands.

    2. Deepen shadows around lava islands with Minitaire 143 Blood Stained Mud.
    a. Leave some Dark Leather showing.

    3. Dust the lava area with Minitaire 112 Ancient Bone.
    a. Apply a bit more to lighter areas.

    4. Minitaire 103 Snow White applied to hottest areas of lava.

    5. Minitaire 170 Ghost Tint Yellow undiluted to most of base.
    a. Barely leave some Snow White showing.

    6. Vallejo Game Ink 092 Brown to deepen shadows around lava islands.

    7. Minitaire 172 Ghost Tint Orange. Leave some yellow & white showing.

    8. Minitaire 173 Ghost Tint Magenta where lava meets islands.
    a. Apply in small doses. Can become too much very quickly.

    9. Drybrush Vallejo Game Color 051 Black around all cork edges.
    a. This helps to bring down reds if they got out of control and to define the cork lava rocks against the bright lava.

    10. Paint edge and underside of base black.

    11. Finish top of cool lava areas with Vallejo Black Lava.

    Thanks for reading! C&C always welcome. :)

  • Avatar Image tchrin336p said 10 months ago:

    Another superlative post, thank you very much, I’m looking forward to trying out your lava base technique at the next opportunity I have.

  • Avatar Image richbuilds666p said 10 months ago:

    Inspiring stuff. Looks epic and the accompanying tutorial is flawless too. Props!

    Check out my blog for more scale shenanigans!
  • Avatar Image rasmus4648p said 10 months ago:

    Regretting the colour scheme – best excuse to get a 2nd army ;)

    Got some Infinity and a Resistance army to do first but then it might be time to do a 2nd PHR army ….

    Great guide as well …

    @Brennon you need to see this one

  • Avatar Image nodri150p said 10 months ago:

    @tchrin Feel free to post the results of your experiments here.

    @richbuilds Thank you!

    @rasmus Hadn’t considered it from that angle. Let me know how it goes.

  • Avatar Image nodri150p said 10 months ago:

    And now a fun little side tutorial in honor of tonight’s Hobby Night Live (since I’ll be at work during the show :( ).

    How to Make Custom Energy Shields

    In this tutorial I will show you how I made custom energy shields. This one will be used for the PHR Zeus, but it could be applied to anything with a passive save or something similar. The process is surprisingly easy and cheap, and the effect adds a really unique flair to the model.

    To begin, I cut out 1/8″ MDF bases to a diameter of 2″ on the band saw (a coping saw would also work). I then cut scraps of 28 gauge sheet steel with snips to fit the MDF bases. Any ferrous sheet metal would work and it can be readily found at hardware stores. The steel was given a course sanding, cleaned with Simple Green to remove grease, and then rinsed with tap water and towel dried.

    The steel covers are used because they make the bases compatible with my existing army which already has magnets mounted in the feet of all walkers. It also makes the base modular, easier to transport, and because I enjoy magnetizing things just because I can (this will become evident in upcoming tutorials). In addition, there’s nothing stopping me from using the same base for different energy shield designs and I do intend to do some more experimentation in the future.

    You could skip the steel completely and attach the energy shields directly to the MDF base if that’s your preference. It would work just fine but it wouldn’t be as much fun.

    Here are the raw components. I ended up not using the green clamps because they were nowhere near strong enough for this project. Please ignore them. The astute PHR generals out there will note that the Zeus comes two to a pack and there are three bases. Consider this a teaser…

    Next I attached the sheet steel to the MDF with CA glue (I now prefer Loctite Premium Construction Adhesive for this purpose, but this project was done before I started making terrain so I didn’t know any better. CA glue is plenty strong, but construction adhesive is a lot less money for a lot more glue). Everything was then secured in place with C-clamps, and left them to dry overnight. Be sure to immediately wipe off any glue that drips out the sides or you may glue the bases to the clamps or to your workbench.

    I then dipped some cork fragments into thinned PVA glue (the same as in the basing tutorial above) and placed them on the steel. I didn’t bother to clamp them in place. I did, however, cover the entire surface of the steel with watery PVA to improve adhesion for later layers. I then left the bases to dry overnight.

    My apologies, but I need to pause here for a moment. You will notice several instances during this tutorial where there are pictures missing. This is because these are the first and only energy shields I’ve made. As a result, there was an obvious need for experimentation and those experiments weren’t necessarily documented with the camera. I did, however, take pics at critical intervals and all of the steps can be seen. If you need clarification about a particular step, just let me know.

    Moving on…

    I smoothed the transition between the steel and the MDF by applying a thin bead of Milliput around the edge of the steel (you will be able to see this in later pics). I rolled the Milliput into thin snakes and placed them around the circumference of the steel. I then dipped my finger in water to work it into the edge and to give a finished look.

    This is what I used to make the energy shields. They’re clear craft Christmas ornaments that are available in a variety of sizes from many craft suppliers. They’re also dirt cheap. I picked these up at Michaels during an after-Christmas sale for about 75 cents each. Two energy shields for less than a buck including sales tax? Yes please!

    Here’s another example of having more steps than pics, but the results are clearly visible.

    First, I made a piece of cork to act as a base for the shield. I then placed the unmodified shield on the cork and used a Sharpie to mark the arc. I made sure the mark appeared on both the cork and the shield. When shaping the shield, I did not cut the area that was marked as it would later be used to secure the shield to the cork.

    Then I used a Dremel to cut the shape of the energy shields. I used a #193 5/64″ high speed cutting bit at a fairly low RPM and worked around the shield. You could do the same thing with a rasp as the plastic is soft. It probably would’ve been best to attach the shield to a bench vise and then use two hands on the Dremel (one to drive, one to steady the other hand). As it was, I was lazy and just held the shield with one hand and the Dremel with the other. You can see the chitter marks across the surface that resulted from the lack of control. I will use the vise when I make more. Be sure to keep a vacuum cleaner within arms reach when cutting the shields, as you will get covered in plastic filings.

    Once the rough cut was made, I used a file to get rid of the burrs and then a sanding block to give a final finish to the edges. If you wanted a crystal clear edge, a quick brush with a blowtorch would do the trick instead. I don’t happen to have one, but I’ll probably pick one up before starting the next batch. Fire makes everything better.

    I then cut a groove into the cork along the Sharpie mark so that I could recess the shield into the cork for a stronger bond. Work a little at the time, as the shield is dome-shaped, so the grove will need to be shaped to accommodate it. This sounds harder than it is. Just shave off a little cork, test fit the shield, shave off a little more cork from the direction you want the shield to fit and repeat.

    When the groove is cut and you’re happy with the fit, use a drill bit to rough out the bottom of the cork. This will allow you to recess the magnets. I used three 3/16″ x 1/32″ magnets under each shield to create a solid connection between the cork and the base. Be very careful that you drill out the bottom of the cork only just enough that the magnets sit flush with the bottom. If they are recessed, you will substantially weaken the connection between the cork and the base and your shield may tip over.

    Now that your cork has been shaped to fit, run a thin bead of CA glue (i used Zap-a-Gap) through the groove you cut into the cork. Fit the shield and allow to dry. Once dry, attach the three magnets to the bottom of the cork with CA glue and allow to dry. When all the CA glue has dried, run a bead of undiluted PVA glue along the inside and outside of the shield and around the magnets to reinforce the bond. Finally, wash all of the cork with the same thin PVA wash that was used on the bases. Two or three coats is fine, provided you allow the PVA to fully dry each time. Placing the shields in front of a fan will reduce the waiting time between these steps dramatically.

    You will also need to add two coats of undiluted PVA to the surface of the base to create the lava texture. Allow the first layer to dry completely before applying the second layer. Placing the bases in front of a fan will both speed up the drying process and will cause ripples and textures in the surface of the glue that will make the lava more interesting. You may, of course, texture the base in whatever way is appropriate for your army. Just make sure to apply thin coats of the basing material and to test the magnets on the model and the shield before adding additional layers. After adding the final layer of your surface texture of choice, leave the model to dry completely at least overnight before painting.

    Everything is now ready for paint. If you’re going with the lava theme, paint the base the same way as discussed in my previous basing tutorial We’ll discuss painting the shield in the next step.

    Before I get too far into the painting portion, I need to offer a disclaimer. I took on this project for two reasons. The first will be discussed later. The second was that I wanted learn how to use what was, at the time, my new toy – a Silhouette Portrait. Including the designer edition software (which is mandatory if you want to make your own designs) along with additional tools and materials, they cost a bit under $300.

    The Portrait is essentially a printer that uses a cutting blade instead of ink. You can upload custom images, convert them into vector graphics, and then cut them out. The Portrait will cut materials up to about the thickness of cereal box cardboard. They’re typically utilized for scrapbooking, custom vinyl, and a host of other projects. They’re also pants-wettingly good at making airbrush stencils, which is why I purchased one. My first test was to cut WWII Allied stars in incrementally smaller sizes. The resulting stencil was clear down to about 3mm. This level of accuracy means I can do custom numbers on my upcoming UCM army (and a bunch of other stuff, but I’m not about to derail my own thread more than I already have).

    I list this purchase as a disclaimer because I doubt that many readers will have a Portrait at their disposal and I don’t want anyone to think that it’s necessary. It’s a lot of fun to use, but it’s not at all required. You can perform the same function by tracing a printed image onto frisket or transparency film with a hobby knife. It will just take longer (or maybe not, considering my learning curve on this project). You can also buy ready-made airbrush stencils and a quick google search will give lots of options.

    If my assessment is wrong and there are other Portrait users out there, please let me know and I’ll be happy to discuss it in more detail or to share ideas & techniques. I know it has enormous potential for making custom terrain, but I haven’t gotten that far yet.

    Back on topic.

    I made a stencil of the PHR logo and rotated it 45 degrees purely for aesthetic reasons. The stencil is cut out of adhesive frisket film which can be picked up at HobbyLobby or at any online airbrush supplier. I carefully applied the stencil and added darts (cuts) to allow the stencil to conform to the curved surface of the shield. I then burnished the stencil to remove any air bubbles and to ensure that no paint could bleed underneath.

    I then airbrushed Vallejo White Surface Primer onto the stencil. Using primer ensured that later coats of paint would adhere better to the smooth surface of the ornament. You’ll notice that I did a bit of preshading by making the top of the stencil whiter than the bottom.

    The stencil was then removed immediately so that the primer didn’t peel off. It is necessary to be very careful when handling at this stage. I recommend you wait at least an hour or so before continuing as the primer is very delicate when it first dries. If you want to be very safe, wait overnight.

    These are the stencils that I made for this project. They’re cut out of transparency film.

    My plan was to make flames coming off of the PHR logo. Making flames is an art in itself and I spent the better part of a week practicing before painting these shields. My grasp of the technique is still rudimentary even as I write this tutorial. Therefore, it’s not possible for me to teach the technique. All I can do is recommend that you google & youtube “airbrush flames” and study the information very carefully. The youtube video by Buypainted was particularly helpful, but even that had to be watched dozens of times at .5 & .25 speed before I grasped his methods. The big problem is that everything has to be scaled down considerably for DzC, and nobody is painting flames in scales that small (until now I guess, but I’m still not particularly good at it).

    All I can say is to practice until you’re happy or avoid the problem altogether and do something simpler.

    After mapping, I airbrushed the remaining flames and then dusted the entire surface of the shield with primer. Allow this to cure at least overnight.

    Airbrush Minitaire 150 Royal Blood into the shadows.

    Airbrush Minitaire 148 Lagoon Blue onto the remaining highlights.

    Airbrush Minitaire Ghost Tint 174 Blue across the entire surface.

    Airbrush Minitaire 103 Snow White onto the flames to bring them back to the foreground. Leave some areas in the shadows untouched (this is very difficult at this scale). I started this process by putting the PHR logo stencil back onto the shield to bring out the highlights. The flames were then completed afterwards.

    Airbrush Minitaire Ghost Tint 180 Plasma Fluid over the entire surface.

    Airbrush matte medium as an intercoat over the entire shield. An intercoat is a protective layer which in this case will perform two functions. First, it will prevent the ghost tint from bleeding into the varnish. Second, ghost tints have a bit of a rubbery texture and the matte medium will give a bit of tooth that improves adhesion for the varnish. Allow the matte medium to cure at least overnight before varnishing.

    I then applied many thin coats of Rust-Oleum Specialty Lacquer. Any clear spray varnish will work. I got this at Home Depot and it’s only a few bucks a can. Allow each layer to dry thoroughly before applying the next. While I’m not sure how many coats I applied, but I can say that the process was repeated until the shield looked like a freshly waxed car.

    Once the varnish is dry, apply Vallejo Black Lava (or whatever texture fits your army theme) to the cork. Allow to dry overnight.

    And it’s done! Given the length and wordiness of this tutorial, it looks harder than it its. Painting flames definitely made it more difficult, but it’s something I’ve wanted to learn for awhile and was the primary reason I undertook this project. I think the results were worth the effort. If you’re looking for something easier, a simple hex stencil and a few splashes of color with the airbrush would make the painting portion very quick and easy while still making for an awesome shield.

    That’s three tutorials done. Still lots more ground to cover!