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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

MERCS Miniatures House Member... Almost Complete!

Here's my House Member for FCC House 9 of MERCS Miniatures almost complete! I only have to varnish him and put some flock/grass on the base to finish it off.

I tried a bunch of new techniques on him. First off it's my first model using the NMM color line from Vallejo. In an earlier post I mentioned how my NMM silvers aren't consistent. I believe it's mostly because of my color selection and application. When I purchased the set it came with a step-by-step on how to use it straight from the Infinity Paint Master himself, Angel Giraldez. Now granted, it's a typical step-by-step, in that it skips a lot of important things like the fact that he used an airbrush and how he glosses over washes and glazes, but that's to be expected. This set isn't intended for newbies I believe, and any veteran knows to adapt techniques to fit their tastes. This set didn't disappoint, and that touch of turquoise glaze really adds that pop to the metal. I also utilized the technique for the gun and boots to paint "black" material and it is by far my favorite way to paint black. Although the boots turned out more grey than I'd wanted, it's definitely a step forward. I also used a new skin recipe to experiment with. I wanted to make him look more grounded in realism than my usual cartoon skin. It did the trick but was much more difficult to work with. I intended for him to look less Caucasian to try out different skin tones, but he still looks it. Using the set's guide definitely made me want to pick up Angel's recent book on his techniques. I wish I got it when I saw it for the limited edition model, but the techniques are valuable enough.

Another new thing was marking his arcs, which I've never done before. I never liked the way it makes a miniature look, and I still don't. Yet it's pretty important to have them in this game so I figured to give it a try. A few simple lines/slashes of turquoise to white gave it a glow on the black base, which was an idea I've seen before and planned to use on my Retribution one day. It looks cool enough, but since I was eyeballing it rather than using a tool the arcs are definitely not 100% perfect. I figure it should be doable though.

I also utilized a new basing technique. Instead of PVA glue I used super glue (the runny kind, not the gel which I use for modeling) on the base and dipped it in the sand. This created a unique texture that captures all the itty bitty granules to make a "smooth" floor. Since it also catches the bigger granules you end up with a much more varied texture than PVA usually creates. I also painted it differently than usual. I've always felt my bases lacked variation of color, usually because I painted the whole basecoat one color then drybrushed the entire thing a highlight color. This usually felt flat, even when I added in other textures like bigger rocks and static grass. This time I did the shaded basecoat technique and utilized 3 different washes for variation. It made it more realistic, although it doesn't quite "pop" like other bases. But since it's there to provide contrast to the model it doesn't take your eye away.

I also thought it would be neat to add in terrain elements that would help with a more urban feel. A 30mm base is rather small for creating elaborate bases. One solution most people go with is elevation by making the model much taller than the base, adding cork and sculpey to create elaborate rubble. I think it looks good, although from a gaming standpoint this can create problems. For games that require true LOS the taller model can conflict with rulings, and any overhang can create issues like getting in B2B contact and measuring. For MERCS not only did I want them flat on the base for LOS issues and storage, but some of the models have fiddly little ankles and tiny feet, so pinning is not an option and any attempts to take it off its metal slot will surely result in despair.

Her left foot is the only point of contact. Seriously?!

So keeping them on their metal slot flat to the base seemed like the best option. To add an urban theme I had to think of other ways to invoke that feeling. This is something I've given a lot of thought over since I started playing Infinity. For this model I took a rounded piece of plastic from a sprue and cut it down to size. I painted it to look like a tin can rusting out on the ground. I think it adds a unique feel without overpowering the model. I have other ideas I want to do as well, I just have to make sure I can size them down to fit on the base like I have done here.

I learned some things painting this model. One: I don't believe using an airbrush on him made him look better. Sure, I got some good gradients on the olive. But it wasn't anything I couldn't achieve by brush, and I feel like I lost some opportunities to make it look more dynamic like I did on the armor and pouches. It isn't a smooth model like Malifaux's models, it doesn't have large surface areas like some of the other factions do, and the olive only covered maybe less than half the model's textures. Most of it was taken up with pouches, belts, weapons, etc. So did I save some time? Maybe. Did I add to the miniature using it? I don't feel like I did.

Well the good thing about this faction is that they are a rag tag group, so having everyone look different adds to its character. I already planned on having everyone look different, but olive was going to be their main shared color. Luckily all their models have a bandanna that I can paint red, much like the Resistance from Terminator (which is what drew me to them in the first place). I bought some other things to fit on the base and give that urban feel as well as gathered some ideas from the interwebs and Pinterest.

I'm pretty impressed with the paint job if I say so myself! In one attempt I got a style closer to Angel Giraldez. Although it is a lofty aspiration to get near his level, I'll take lessons from him any day of the week.

In other news I got some awesome cheap terrain from Fat Ogre:

This is from their "Bones" line, which uses PVC for the models keeping it extremely cheap when compared to other models. Granted you lose a certain amount of quality when it compares to plastic and resin, but really it is very doable and extremely helpful in RPGs where you don't necessarily care about the highest quality sculpt for things like NPCs and minions.

This line also creates affordable terrain for both modern and fantasy eras. I felt like I found a gold mine when I saw a crate, a dumpster and a smaller weapons crate for less than $20! The dumpster was $5! You can get plenty of LOS blocking terrain that doesn't take up too much area for games with this. Plus they look great and build together easily. I previously got crates from Alien Wars' line and I thought it was probably the most impractical way to approach the model, and ended up having to add wooden blocks to ensure it stands up while gluing. This is one of those purchases you can add on slowly and have a whole table's worth of scenery in a small amount of time and effort.

I've also gotten yet another game called Golem Arcana. It arrives tomorrow, but uses an extremely cool element of incorporating technology into gameplay and simplifies complex rules to allow easy entry. Let me just say that it looked so awesome that when I showed Kristy the video on how it works her jaw dropped and said that we need to order it right meow!

That's another post for another time... until then, happy gaming!