Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Home Studio Experiments.

At last, I have got round to buying myself a home studio for miniature photography. I bought this funky little kit from Amazon.

I'm really really chuffed with it, it takes seconds to put up, comes with 4 coloured back drops (white, black, blue and red) and best of all it all folds away into its own self contained little bag (formed by the soft box itself). Genius! Only criticisms is that the tripod it comes with is probably a wee bit flimsy if you have a huge heavy DSLR like I do- compact cameras and the budget DSLRs should be OK though, and the lights aren't particularly bright. Bright enough for miniature photography but maybe not for some other uses. A cheap alternative is a pair of halogen builders lamps. I may treat myself to some as a back up.

Anyway here's a couple of test shots with it- these were done with a little bit of added flash. Still without my flashgun (will this saga ever end!) I used the onboard flash but masked it with some tissue paper to soften it- it seems to have worked well.

First up is part of my US army battlegroup for Blitzkrieg Commander - there are still quite a lot to finish basing and varnishing, but seeing as on Sunday I sprained my thumb that may have to wait a couple of days! I reckon the pics have come out well, and I am very pleased with the paint jobs so far.

Next is a few Wild West figures I did for one of our Legends of the Old West game- a great fun system, and some nice characterful Wargames Foundry minis. I painted these at speed as it was looking like for once, everyone in my gaming group was bringing a painted posse to the session. I'm fairly pleased with how these turned out- they don't hold up to close scrutiny but they held their own on the table top.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Painting Frenzy Pt2

The relatives have all gone home, and the wife is in the bath, my son in bed, so time to take some pics of some of the work in progress.

First up the Shermans that i posted pre weathering and decals a few entries back.

The weather was dry and not freezing today so I nipped pout and gave a tentative first coat with Dullcoat to matt the gloss varnish down. I say tentative because in the past I have nightmares with mat varnish and have turned lovely painted 28mm figures into frosty white looking lumps of upset. Anyway, these guys are the first fully painted, weathered, based and varnished vehicles for my BKC US army. Im really pleased with them, especially the weathering and decals (of which you cant really see many due to the positioning of the models- doh!).

Next up is a couple of my recent Minifigs order- a M10 and a couple of jeeps. They are painted, varnished and decal'd but yet to be weathered, based and mat coated. If you can excuse that, you can get a vague idea of what they look like and where they might be heading.

And last but not least- my first company of infantry. These are Pendraken infantry with one or two Minifigs dotted in for variety- they mix fairly well in my opinion.
I initially wasn't happy with how these turned out- I'm used to painting 6mm and 28mm and to suddenly paint at 10/12mm was a wee bit of a shock to the system. What saved these in my eyes was a liberal splashing all over (sounds like Brut) of the new Citadel Washes (Devlan Mud iirc). I reckon it does a great job at this scale. Obviously these are yet to be based etc, but the figures themselves are finished saved for the varnishing.

On the photography front (not sure if anyone is really interested in this bit) I decided to dispense with my nice zooms this time and use my first lens I ever bought. A Canon 50mm 1.8f. Its the cheapest lens in the Canon range and for the money is fantastic. Sure the build quality is piss poor (I broke my first one of these so I guess this isn't really the first lens I ever bought!)having a body made mostly of plastic, but the optics are great and in fact it works really well for taking pics of miniatures. Maybe I don't need to buy that Macro lens after all- more money for miniatures.
Still need a lightbox though- this was a jerry rigged affair again with 2 mismatched light sources. I would also like to bounce a bit of flash around, but seeing as my Sigma flash is still broken and still awaiting a new hot shoe. I think I could be waiting for ever though, as of yet despite emailing Sigma about 10 times I have had no reply. Apparently the part is buyable and costs $15! A replacement flashgun will set me back £200 quid. Not happy at all.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Painting frenzy

Spent the last few days in a bit of a frenzy of activity.

My orders from Pendraken and Minifigs arrived on Monday and I have been a whirl of superglue and paint since then.

The Pendraken stuff arrived very quickly and I must say the quality of the figures far exceeded my expectations. I don't know why but I had been led to believe that they were of significantly inferior quality to Minifigs and far smaller. This doesn't appear to be the case. Side by siding the M3 Scout cars from Minifigs and Pendraken there is a massive difference in quality and detail. They are almost identical in size, and while the Minifig Scout car is crisp, the lack of detail compared to the Pendraken one is very obvious. The Pendraken Scout car is superb, and has masses of detail, right down to fuel cans and baggage hanging from the sides. The other thing to say is that the Minifig models seem a lot more complex in construction- I was left scratching my head at the bits that came with the jeep models, and had no idea where to stick most of the strange bits that came with it. Saying that they do look great! The Minifigs order took twice as long as the Pendraken one to arrive and was incomplete- not enough jeeps and scout cars in the packs. I think when I move onto my German project i am going to stick with Pendraken- they are much cheaper, better customer service and the models are just as nice. I am particularly impressed with the Pendraken infantry- while the Minifigs infantry are probably more realistically proportioned, they lack the animation and character that the Pendraken ones do.

So far the painting tally is 6 Shermans, 3 Stuarts, 2 Jeeps, M3 Scout car, Dodge light truck, 3 57mm guns, 3 stands of infantry and a MG section. Still got quite a bit to go, and have some more bits on order with Minifigs (some Sherman 76s, 105s and M10s). I also need a few more infantry models from Pendraken to get my infantry stands up to 12 and detail my CO/HQ bases. The transfers from Minifigs really set the vehicles off, Im very pleased with them. I will try and post some pics when I have got them based after this weekend (relatives staying this weekend so no painting for me). Only trouble is they are all smothered in gloss varnish at present, and I am really nervous given the weather of Dullcoating them- I have had some disasters in the past with spray matt varnish and damp cold weather!

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Blitzkrieg Commander Demo Game

Today I put on a game of BKC for my gaming group. Strictly speaking this is untrue as due to us awaiting the release of the new edition of BKC, we just used the Cold War Commander rule set instead. It has to be said it worked extremely well, and the 5 of us really enjoyed it.
We used my friends Rapid Fire armies they have been collecting for a few years now, hence why if you look at the pics carefully the bases look a bit weird- we just blue tacked the individual miniatures onto appropriate sized bases
The game was a meeting engagement of Brits Vs Germans in July 1944, fought around a small French town. It was a very close affair with the Germans reaching the town quickly and securing the buildings but finding themselves flanked on their left very quickly but counterflanking on the right. The Brits won by a very narrow margin and everyone went away happy.

I was very happy with the way the board looked- my new roads worked a treat, and Adams other scenery really looked great. Now I cant wait for my Minifig and Pendraken orders to turn up so I can finish off my Americans.

NB- photos were taken with my new phone, a Nokia E71- fantastic smartphone with Blackberry-esque functions. Camera aint up to much though, but thats about the only downside.