Friday, February 26, 2010

IG: ... You're Welcome.

...a terrible "Tanks" joke. I know. I know. The temptation was simply too strong.

Apart from some photos of Valhallan Tanks, today’s post ponders the merits and uses of Winsor&Newton’s Art Masking Fluid , or the functional equivalent. I found this particular brand when it was on sale at my local Blicks ages ago, and I quietly set it aside for use when the opportunity presented itself.

As with the Sentinels from yesterday, these three Leman Russ Battle Tanks were originally conceived for another IG army, one which started strong but never really sustained my interest largely because I hadn’t ever genuinely conceived or articulated my ideas for the force. As such, it was entirely too easy to set the project aside when the energy levels inevitably started to lag.

Then came my Valhallans. I’ve wanted my Valhallan force to have a ravaged, an exhausted, and an otherwise well-seasoned theme throughout the army –something to match the bleak winter weather and the lengthy, rigorous campaigns of the IG. Masking Fluid makes that happen. Opportunity presented. With these tanks, I really felt that I had nothing to lose. They were either going to be shelved, sold, or replaced when the newer box came out, so this was an ideal time to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty. If the new technique failed, I would end in the same place that I’d started -with three models that were either going shelved, sold, or replaced. Just as well.

I began with the original models painted in the generic, unappealing brown that you still see quite a bit through the subsequent layers, and used a large kitchen sponge to blot the Masking Fluid across edges and several of the more open areas on the tank.

Three notes on this stage:
1. While it is very important to consider what parts of the model would suffer from extended use (and to blot those areas appropriately), I was sure to work without too much thought in order to keep the result genuinely random. In my limited experience, too much contrivance shows rather quickly and makes the model look too obviously artificial.

2. The Fluid itself demands a pretty quick treatment because once it starts to dry it gets tacky, and continued blotting will actually start to lift what you’ve already placed on the model. In other words, the product forced me to resist the urge to overwork it.

3. I held back a little bit, but not quite enough (more on this in a moment), to be sure that there was room for both subsequent layers of color. I didn’t want too much of the original color to show through for fear that it would compete too messily with the next layers.

I then applied a thinned layer of the first light gray color across large parts of the model. Once this had dried, I blotted just a little bit more past the original edges of Masking Fluid (you can see them quite plainly if you look closely) to lock that color in to several spaces, and then applied a thin layer of the darker gray color over the entire the tank.

To be candid, there was little rhyme or reason behind the sequence of colors apart from the fact that they were bluish and gray –matching the aesthetic of the army. I was just experimenting (see: “nothing to lose” above) and intuitively let the choices make themselves.

For the final step, I removed all of the Masking Fluid with a basic pencil eraser (or “rubber” for the Brits). I had some difficulty lifting the Fluid out of corners and particularly through some of the edges in the detailing. I’ve since read (forget where, apologies) that Blue Tack works better at lifting the dried fluid, and anticipate that I’ll use some for the next effort.

And yes, there will be next efforts –at least three that come to mind as I type.

Finally, I thinned a wash of Devlan Mud and slathered it around a bit in order to pull the shading across the different hues, and to help pull the colors together generally. Restraint is important here as the new Washes tend to look a bit streaky on large surfaces, and I certainly didn’t want to hide all the work I’d just done.

With regard to item 3 above, I feel that failed in this step and, as a result, these models are a visually cluttered. I had a bit too much fun with the new technique and applied it a too generously throughout. Elsewhere, I’ve seen advocates repeat the mantra “less is more” with these kinds of techniques and I fear that this effort may have been a bit heavy-handed on my part. Still, I like the results enough to keep the models active in my army, but the process was certainly a solid lesson in restraint.

Once I’ve sorted iconography for my army, I intend to go back and apply images, number, etc. –chipped, of course, but tastefully so- and I hope this will help bring back some visual coherence to these models. Here’s to hoping.

See you Sunday for a WIP update on the DPs.


Max said...

That looksreally good! And thanks for the heads up on the technique- it sounds really useful.

Anonymous said...

Love the tanks. Really look like they've been in a long hard campaign.

Mr.Esty said...

Fantastic job, sir!

Col. Corbane said...

Excellent post mate, I need to get me some of this masking fluid, the results are excellent.

Brian said...

Thanks fellas. The masking fluid is really fantastic -particularly considering its rather generous effort-to-result ratio. I'd like to be able to recommend one brand over another, but I've only ever experienced the one mentioned above, which has worked as well as I could have hoped.

Cheers again.