Sunday, 20 November 2011

Make your own static grass tufts! A step-by-step tutorial

Now this is something that can potentially cost the manufacturers, and you will probably like it.
Personally, I love tufts. I really do, but I always felt robbed buying them.
That's why I make my own, and this is what they look like

Step 0 - things you need

  1. Static grass applicator - unfortunately it is a must. You can buy one on a riduiculous price from Noch or the wise modeller makes his own. There are plenty of sources on the internet in English, google it. I used a Hungarian description, this one. All the necessary parts cost less than GBP 10 combined and the machine takes about two hours to assemble. 
  2. White glue
  3. A punctured piece of 1 mm plasticard
  4. Static grass - in this case Noch's wildgrass - mittelgrün
  5. A piece of sheet copper, brass, aluminium etc. shaped like on the picture
  6. A piece of plastic foil, sturdier than a plastic bag or foil wrap
  7. I forgot to include a few clips on the picture

Not much, is it?

Step 1 - Fill the cup with static grass

In this case less is never more. You can always recycle the excess.

Step 2 - Prepare the appliance

Stack the plastic foil on top of the copper sheet and then put the punctured piece of plasticard on top. Clip the sheets together. Attach the alligator clip of the static grass applicator to the little ear on the sheet of copper. Turn the applicator on.
A little explanation: in all other static grass tutorials it is said that you should push a needle in and attach the alligator clip to it. Wrong! It is clumsy and not very efficient. I have found that the electrostatic field is much more even, but not less effective this way. The punctured piece of plasticard helps to treat those pieces of grasss that would inevitably lay down otherwise.

Step 3 - Apply white glue

I use it undiluted. I like my tufts a little irregular, but you can make them perfect circles if you like.

Step 4 - Apply grass

Apply it by gently by tapping and shaking the reservoir from a height of around 1-2 centimeters. I held the applicator a bit higher so that I could take the photo.

A bit more is applied...

And it is complete. Turn off the static grass applicator and remove the alligator clip. Carefully turn around the   sheets and with a little tapping remove the excess static grass This is how it looks:

 Let it set a few minutes (but not too long).

Step 5 - Final stages

Carefully remove the clips, and the piece of plasticard. By lifting the plasticard you raise those pieces of grass that may be laying.

Now place the tufts someplace warm to set completely. Then behold your creation:

Looks professional, huh?

Some tips:

  • You can experiment with different lenghts of grass, and different colours. I have very nice tufts made of beige and green leaves
  • Spray or airbrush the tufts with matte varnish. While the tufts are sturdy, varnish makes them hard and quite durable. 
  • Varnished tufts can be drybrushed with Bleached Bone,  Iraqui Sand or any suitable colour to imitate dryness in the leaf ends for even more realism.
  • you can experiment with other types of adhesives

Ask questions, and share your experiences with tufts!

For those of you who are too lazy or motivated, tufts of your choice are available for sale: you get 100 tufts for GBP 5, USD 8 or EUR 6 +PP.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Myth Busted - Citadel colour mixing

For months now colour mixing charts are circulating on the web about a great chunk of the current Citadel range being possible to be replicated by simply mixing Skull White, Chaos Black, Blood Red, Enchanted Blue and Sunburst Yellow in the right proportions.
The story surfaced first at Nesbet Miniatures Blog and months later on the excellent Path of the Outcast Blog that I'm following. After sharing my concerns; Cannonfodder, the blog owner started a poll, asking the public what they think. 54% voted that they didn't try it but they thought it would work.
Actually it doesn't.
When I first read the original post at Nesbet's blog I shared the enthusiasm with all the rest, but after a little while things started to distub me a little.

A little on colours

For three years or so I was an active (and now honorary) member of Europa Barbarorum a project that some of you may know. It is a hardcore total realism mod for Rome (and later Medieval) Total War. Apart from skinning a few dozens of units in the mod, I was making some research into dyes and pigments, and how they work. (It was important to know what colours could be produced in the timeframe, and what was cheap or expensive.)
A colour has three major attributes: hue, saturation and lightness. It is possible to produce any colour by mixing rays of light in different colour, basically any hue can be recreated this way. What works with light doesn't work with pigments though. Pigments are of different opacity and will not produce all the hues you want. Of course I mean the pigments we modellers use; the cyan-magenta-yellow system for offset printing is an entirely different matter, and even there colours are not mixed, only dots (I know it is a bit more complex then this).
The other important thing is saturation. It is the measure how vivid the colour is. Pastel colours have more gray in them so they are of lower saturation.
The third thing to be taken into consideration is that pigments have personality... some hues you just cannot produce by mixing them. The best example is purple. In the antiquity a few grams of purple dye could feed a family for decades. Don't you think it was easier to mix or overdye madder and woad or indigo? It just did not work. Only purple dye did the job.
The charts don't, or very little address these points and this is the reason why they fail miserably.

The proof

No research is complete without experiment though, and it was relative easy - as all my readers know - I keep my citadel paints in dropper bottles. This time apart from cropping I did not use any Photoshop goodies and let the image much bigger then usual.
The results speak for themselves:

As ever, I don't pretend to have a monopoly for the truth, so if you thik that the colours are good enough proxies, or I did something wrong and you had different results, please do not hesitate to comment!
But from my part: Mith Busted.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Dreadnought canopy in 1:16 scale

Hi, this is a project I've been working on for a while now. basically I took an unused dreadnought box and replicated the little guy with all dimensions 3 times as big. I used mostly plasticard and spare pats from my scratchbuild boxes (friends and family are always on the watch for interesting pieces of plastic). No GW parts this time.

The scale is approximately 1:16; if we believe that 40K is roughly 1:48.
Anyway here is a wood elf wardancer for size comparison. Perhaps a marine would serve better, but this was the first mini that came my way.

The kit also contains a few resin parts where I felt that it was needed for uniformity's sake.

I tried to replicate every small detail, even in places not examined very often.

 I'm quite proud of the back part

Right now the project is stopped because I have to finish a few minis for a local mini exchange raffle and my local Golden Gobbo entry.
After these I will continue with the legs.
At this moment I havent decided on the armament or even the chapter the dred belongs. I don't even know what I'll do with it once it is finished... I'm not the type to put things I do on doisplay back home... Many of my friends still consider me a sane person, and I like to preserve this... :-)  I may not even keep it.
Stay tuned!