Tuesday, May 23, 2017

ScratchBuild Log Part 4: Painting the 1915 Curiasse "Fortin" Aubriot-Gabet

So on to the actual paint! Started with a quick shot of Stynylrez. This primer by Badger is the best I've ever used, though **SPOILER ALERT** Ammo of Mig's new one shot primer is the same formulation made by Badger for Mig!!! Partnerships are something AMMO has really been developing as of late - Alclad being another example - What a great way to get an amazing products into even more hands!!

Once primed I reached for the AMMO by Mig Jimenez French WW1/2 Camoflage Colours - a great selection of period appropriate colours, but moreso than that a key selection of skewed grey tones - the light french blue was key in this paint job. I also grabbed some VMA German Grey and some Scale Colour Nacar to do some temperature adjusted contrasting zones in the paint job. With this being essentially a monochromatic model it was important to me to use contrasts of temperature and saturation to create interest in the surface of the model. I tried to create exaggerated and interesting areas of light and accentuated form without making it look completely unbelievable. This can be a difficult line to walk in these early stages as the following filters and layers will dramatically adjust these basecoats in a variety of ways. That being said I nailed 90% of my finishes on the first try. Came back the next day and could see what I wanted to change and made it happen. One of the best starts I have ever had on a model! A quick shot of dullcoat sealed this layer in.

After a little test fitting to make sure all was still properly aligned with the base, the front wheel assembly was removed for separate painting and weathering. I started laying rust tones into the rear roller assembly and then began to apply filters and stains using AMMO of Mig Enamels. Any of my readers will know I love these products and that they have dramatically changed the way I work. Another miniature artist making awesome use of AMMO products is James Wappel - if you don't already follow his incredible mini painting exploits you really should!!!!

While the filters and streaks were drying I started on the wheels where I used a combination of actual chipping with AMMO Chipping fluid and  Layers of paints, enamel rust effects washes and pigments.
I also used a graphite pencil and Forgeworld Dark Iron metallic pigment to add exposed metal marks and edges. While those were drying as well I took the Forgeworld Barbed wire and began to add it to the base as well. It really added life and interest just as I had hoped - Really pleased at this point with everything!  

Once all the parts had dried it was time for test fitting on the base again

So with that it was time to add more marks and interest across the surface of the hull. Some painters like to refer to this as more "information". Even if (especially if?) it is subtle it really engages the viewers brain more.   Sometimes it can also forward the story element by relating the piece to its environment. As this is designed to drive through barbed wire I wanted to make sure it has many little scratches across the lower hull in particular. These were painted with care and individually highlighted.

Once I had addressed surface detail and finish it was time for environmental effects - I like to think of my models in layers - Base coat and basic lighting come first. Filters and surface treatments are next. Weather/environmental factors are layered last. So I began by breaking out more of my AMMO of Mig enamels and using them to simulate a first spattering of mud - basically older dryer splashes that would have a matte finish against the slightly satin hull. I loaded up a large brush with the enamel mud and held it near the hull behind the position where the wheel would be. Using the airbrush I shot bursts of air effectively "flicking"  the bristles and giving a natural distribution of spatter across the hull. This was a VERY effective way of simulating the mud and filth that would be spattered by the turning wheels in this wet landscape.

While waiting for this to dry I also attached the extension cord that ran from the back of this wild little electric vehicle back into the friendly trenches (this easily severed and unreliable power source was one of the key reasons cited in abandoning this project after building only the one prototype!).  I also fit and primed the sandbags and supports and began to paint and weather them using a mix of acrylics and enamels. I wanted them to be harmonious with their muddy surroundings to be an accentuating detail rather than a secondary focal point. When finished they help lead the eye into the scene rather than drawing strong attention to themselves. Even the way they are stacked is to emphasize an upward movement pointing towards the tank.

Once the body was dry and the bags were in place I mounted the tank to the base and moved toward final harmonization - making sure it looked as though it was part of the scene and not just placed on top of it. I began by adding the next layers of dimensional mud. Made with pigment, acrylic pigment resin, paint, a little bit of gravel, static grass and some plaster this sticky mess matched the groundwork beautifully. It needed to be applied in stages, however, to build up naturally and to hold the dimension. It was really important to pay attention to the front wheels in this stage and make sure they looked partially sunk/dug in.

As the mixture was built up it was also added to the sandbags and areas of the base with additional roots and plant matter mixed into it - to keep the finish natural and to ensure harmony.

With that it was only a matter of small touch ups and finishes - highlighting the wooden posts, using dark iron pigments and black pigments on the gun barrel and metallic components with Ammo pigment fixer and a few more streaks etc with AMMO rust streaks and track wash. 

Next Week - Finished photos!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

ScratchBuild Log Part 3: Basing for the 1915 Curiasse "Fortin" Aubriot-Gabet

So now that I had the proto-tank built and riveted, it was time to start working on the presentation base. I started by laying out some rough ideas with scrap pieces of balsa foam and once I had a clear idea in my head I started piecing together the pieces I would actually use.

For compositional purposes I wanted to use a raised piece of groundwork that would help draw the sight lines up and that would narrow towards the wide end of the tank and be wider at the narrow back of it. this would give emphasis to the bodywork and form of the vehicle while still giving me some space to add some landscape details and points of interest. It would also give the impression of forward movement.

As a competitive modeler an a judge, I cant emphasize enough how important good composition and interesting presentation are to separate your work from the competition.

Next up I started to carve into the layers of balsa foam. I wanted to add sunken track marks that would help to emphasise the weight of this contraption as well as to reinforce the nature of WW1 Trench warfare. The Fortin was designed to help cross the muddy shell pocked no mans land - pushing its way through barbed wire and shrugging off conventional small arms fire.  To the right here is a photo I took In France of a section of No Mans Land - even now a hundred years later the effects of the shelling and digging upon the landscape are frighteningly impressive.
Therefore I wanted to include:  Mud, Barbed Wire, Shell damage/craters, evidence of destroyed features from before the war, and a trench line. The tracks and pockmarks were easy to dig in to the balsa foam and then I just sealed them with some PVA foam glue. I took some Bass wood and used it to make some wooden posts, debris and the core of a shattered tree trunk. I built out the rest of the tree and its roots using Super Sculpey. Finally I made some Barbed wire support pigtails like the ones I had seen when touring the battlefields of Europe out of wire.

Next I broke out the Celluclay - a strong powdered paper mache that is great for making textures. I applied a coat of it to the balsa foam to give a real churned mud texture. It also let me smooth out the seams between the layers of foam. This also allowed me to build even greater depth into the surface and imbed the tree so that it looked like it had grown out of the landscape instead of being placed on top of it. I sprinkled some additional sand, small gravel, cork debris, static grass and wooden shards and worked them into the celluclay "mud" so that it all looked cohesive and organically occurring.

With the groundwork established it was time to begin building the edge of the trench line. I wanted to include a sandbag edge like the ones seen at Vimy. I have built these before with great success for a couple projects and find that it is important to build the bags one at a time and detail each because you never can be quite sure what will show. So I treated each bag as its own little sculpture - texture, patches, stitching tears and all. Though it takes a while it is quite fun to be honest. I made sure that I kept setting aside my favorite bags from the others to become the most visible ones where possible.
I made some with apoxie sculpt and some with super sculpey.

The next steps were pretty fun. I broke out a variety of earth colored paints and powders and went to work creating as natural a finish as I could. The photos don't pick up the color variations nearly well enough but I was pretty happy with the overall result. I broke out some AMMO of Mig rust finishes (enamels and pigments) and treated the barbed wire posts as well as some Forgeworld Brass etch Barbed wire. Once the tree, all the wood and earth and scrap had been fully painted I mixed up a batch of Envirotek Lite clear resin and using a medicine dosing syringe and an old brush I added wet effects and puddles to the mud and added a little static grass in both clump/growths and sprinkled into the mud and water

Time to let things sit dry and harden. 
Next week working on the paint and weathering for the Proto-tank itself!!