For the past few weeks I have been getting back into painting miniatures again after a long hiatus. This past weekend I took Friday off work, since I had an online event to attend in the late afternoon and spent most of the day painting, and again on Saturday and parts of Sunday, around a trip to Gamekastle for materials. It's been a lot of fun to really dive into a painting project again.
The game system that has got me motivated is Studio Tomahawk's Saga game that ties into a line of figures from Gripping Beast. Fortunately for me in getting into Saga, I already had a VERY backburnered Dark Ages collection of figures to draw upon. I have enough finished Vikings done over the past 20 years to do an initial Vikings army for Saga, and a few miscellaneous Celts done. I also have over 200 mostly Old Glory Dark Ages figures, with a smattering of GW, Foundry, Gripping Beast in there, and some Alternative Armies fantasy Celts that will pass, that were in various stages from unpainted to half done, more in the bags than actually with any work on them. Succumbed to buying one wagon, one Gripping Beast warlord figure, and one pack of Gripping Beast Norse Gael dane axe wielding warriors to round out the collection, plus the usual replenishment of some paint, some glue, new pin vise & drill bits, assorted basing foliage, plastic boxes, lots of fender washers for bases, etc. So I'm not doing too bad on the "Get interested again, buy more guys than actually get painted from the backlog" scale.
I started getting the Saga rules after they got some good word of mouth and I saw a bit of it at Pacificon. Played one game with my Vikings at the Endgame demo day for Saga in early February (a ridiculously good dice victory over the Normans in the hands of another Saga newb, the owner of Gamescape North whose name escapes me just now and their website is down with a database error so I can't look it up) and plan to play again there March 10, and the day before at the Saga day at the San Rafael Gamescape North March 9. Hopefully by then I'll have enough Celts done to field as the Welsh list, and will have better berserks done for the Vikings than my current lot.
Armies in Saga are small, 25-73 for a six point game, its a "large skirmish" system. I should be able to field several in variations out of my collection, should I get it all painted.
I have mostly been painting figures that were half finished in the backlog, mixed with a lot of prep work on their bare led brethren, and the start of three more foam core buildings. Eight guys pushed over to the done and awaiting clear coat end of the table yesterday, and a bunch more are getting close, so there is some discernable progress.
My current loosely ordered preparation pattern, with various guys sitting currently in all the different stages:
Unbag and scrape lead - concentration on mold lines, air channel flash, and flattening base bottoms. This has been pretty cursory this time around, as I've been grinding through a lot of guys.
Drill out hands for spear & javelin wielders and Gripping Beast Dane axe wielders. I do this in batches, based on time, patience, and how sore my hand gets. The longest stint had my left hand in a winter glove because holding guys against the drill with enough pressure hurts after awhile and my right thumb with a blister worn in it by the end of the day. Sometimes I glue them to bases first.
Glue down to fender washers with Aleene's Tacky Glue crafters' white glue. Most of the infantry are going on 7/8 inch washers, with a few with smaller bases on 3/4, a few on 1 inch, and some warlords onto 1 1/2 inch. Cavalry are more uniform. They get two 1 inch washers. In the first batch I had some exposed center holes on cavalry with short intrinsic bases, which I covered later, wither with a bit of card or just a lot of glue and texture. In later batches, I saboted strips of cardboard cut from a cereal box between the lead bases and the washers to cover the holes.
Cover exposed washer and part of the figure's own base with more white glue, and dip into a pot of mixed texture. This is an assortment of walnut hull grit intended for mixing into paint to make stairs less slippery, plus some assorted model railroad ballast which is pretty much the same stuff in different size particles that have been colored, some sand, some small rocks from the model railroad section, etc. Shake off the excess, and wipe away any that stuck to glue on the edges or bottom of the washers, as it gets in the way on the bottom, and tends to get abraded, leaving distressing shiny marks, if on the edges. Set aside to dry.
Crumble or scrape away any missed bits on the edges, and then coat the top of the texture with a liberal coat of water-thinned white glue, to help fix the texture in place. The main issue with base textures is losing bits over time, revealing the metal that lies underneath. This helps make it more permanent.
Glue guys onto horses.
Prime with white spray primer.
Make spears & javelins. So far I have clipped and hammered out the tips of a small batch of brass spears, and clipped them down to spear points. In the past I have made some plastic spears from brush bristles, which were easier to flatten by squeezing with flat tip pliers before a quick trim to spear point shape and less dangerous on the tabletop, flexing instead of drawing blood if contacted by errant hands. This time around I'm trying to find a good plastic brush or broom to pillage for bristles but I'm having trouble finding any in the stores that are long and thick and straight enough and not made from that newer plastic that frizzes out at the ends making it better for sweeping but useless for making into spears. Advances in plastic brushmaking seem to have closed off this avenue unless I can find some old style ones. So it may be back to more work with the ballpien hammer on my makeshift anvil. Or the real one if I can figure out where I put it. Wonder if I gave it away to somebody still in the SCA.
Glue the weapons in with epoxy or superglue. Some guys, especially spearmen, I have painted all the way without weapons and only glued the weapons in last, just before painting the weapons themselves. Upside is easier handling and less damage to spears while painting. Downside is the energy hump of chasing down or making spears at the end to go with the painted guys.
Pull out a few of these prepped guys and start painting them. Hopefully after finishing the last batch, but often kind of mixed in to a painting table with ones that are further along when I just can't stand doing more fiddly details and want to do some basic blocking in.
The first step of real painting on most guys I do lately is a wash coat of something dark over the white primer. This can be either a raw umber sort of brown or a Payne's gray if the guy will be mostly cool tones or metals, or a mix in between if I'm bored with both. This gives some natural shading to them, and avoids the white bits in the crevices of a straight white primer job, without the stark shadows and less of the tricky & dulling coverage issues of a straight black primer. One side benefit is that half painted guys in this style are much more presentable on the tabletop than either white or black primed guys at the midway point of painting. Since it is a bulk paint that goes on a lot of guys as an undercoat, it will be one of the big, cheap 2 ounce bottle craft store acrylic brands, most often FolkArt, and not one of the 3/4 oz gamer paint brands.
I'm priming & painting shields separately so far, and gluing on at the end. It's easier to keep organized but harder to paint the bits of the guy behind the shield and backside of the shield if the shield is attached first, which I have sometimes done in the past.
One of the advantages of the fender washer basing is that they are fully magnetic and hold well to magnetic strip tape laid into the bottom of plastic boxes for storage. It's not fully reliable for transport, a good bounce can knock some loose, so consider tissue or paper towel padding, packing peanuts, or saved blister pack sponge pads when driving them long distances or flying, or having a few unused foam compartment boxes for game day transport.
I had a few inch and a half round and similarly long pieces of dowel scavenged from one of my daughter's early craft projects. Glued some magnets onto them and have started using them as painting handles for fender washer based guys. A couple extra magnets I stuck to the metal lids of old paint jars. They are working well enough I may go buy more dowels and magnets and make more of them. It would be one way to force myself to work in smaller batches if everybody on the paint table at the moment has to be on a magnet stick for handling, and mean less messing things up with inappropriate handling.