Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Repainting a Funko Pop Primaris Intercessor Space Marine: Part 2 Prime and Basecoat

Or: Why You Don't Need to Buy the Unpainted Version

With the Funko Pop Space Marine cleaned, based, and prepped for painting, it was time to proceed to priming.

Now, because Games Workshop has released an unpainted and pre-primed version of the Funko Pop Marine a few months after this line of painted marines were released, there have been a lot of people assuming that the painted versions will be problematic or unsuitable for painting.  Well, the only way to dispel any such assumptions is to actually go ahead and try it out for myself.

First of all, the actual paint on the Funko Pop models is extremely thin.  As you can see from this pic of when I was filing down the mould lines, it's akin to one or two passes from an airbrush:

Because the layer of paint was so thin, it would not need to be stripped off first.  Painting over it would not result in any loss of detail (the size of scale being what it was, and this being a toy and not a finely sculpted art piece, it wasn't like that was much of a concern anyway).  If it had been painted with a thick coat of hand-brushed house paint in a third-world indentured labour camp, then perhaps I'd be trying to figure out a way to strip it with solvents first, but not in this case.

The head was one thing, as it was made of some form of uncoloured resin, and then painted.  Everything apart from the head was made of a coloured rubbery plastic.  Other than some details like the bolter and anything else that wasn't blue, it wasn't even covered in paint.  Even those areas that were (like the bolter and the shoulder pad trim), the paint was just as thin as what was on the head.

The chapter and unit markings on the shoulders appear to be very thin decals... so thin that I could not really discern any lip or raised surface to them.  Because of that, it's also a possibility that they are not really decals, but perhaps sprayed on using some sort of stencil.  In either case, I was positive that once primered, there would be a perfectly smooth surface for me to paint my own details over top.

Well, it was time to get my trusty can of GW black spray primer out, and see if it would stick to the Funko Pop figure.

Well, it went on like a champ.

As you can see, the mould line removal went fairly well.  If you really look closely, there is a hint of levelling where the flat file didn't follow the curvature of the helmet perfectly, but it's so faint that I suspect it'll be indiscernible once the paintjob is finished.

Even on the rubbery vinyl areas, the filing went relatively smoothly.  Yes, vinyl is not ideal for models, as you can tell upon really close inspection that filing tends to tear the skin of vinyl in a pretty rough manner.  That's why resin, metal, and modelling plastic are still better materials for fine figures, as the consistency of the material is the same all the way through.  Not so much for vinyl, as it tends to form a thick skin, with a softer inside (much like crust on bread... the "dough" may start off as the same consistency at the beginning, but once you put it in the oven, a tougher crust / skin forms on the outside).  Using very fine grit sandpaper after the file helps a little bit, but it's still not perfect.

Again, I wasn't too concerned.  This wasn't going to be a painting competition entry, subject to a judge's close scrutiny.  It was just going to be a fun little project, an opportunity to practice various painting techniques, and a nice display piece.  In any case, some shading, highlighting, and weathering was going to camouflage any roughness in the materials.

Even the removal of the injection mould points went well, although I strongly recommend you break out a fresh new exacto blade for this job.  A dull knife or file would likely leave this area looking very messy.  I started off using a dull blade, but I found it had a lot of drag as I used it to slice, which meant the skin grabbed at it and wanted to tear instead.  Anyone who has tested a knife's edge against a piece of paper will know what I mean... a razor sharp blade will slice smoothly like it's sliding along rails, leaving a clean cut.  A dulled edge will snag, grab and tear instead.

After aggressively rubbing the figure with my hand like Aladdin rubbing a lamp, I could tell that the primer was holding on fantastically well.  It had bonded to the vinyl and painted areas alike, and could take a fair bit of handling.  There was no need to muck about with paint / glue / dish soap mixtures like I did for this past project:

Still, even for the sake of handling during the painting process, I was glad that I had gone through the extra effort of attaching the marine to a base.

Next, it was time to give this marine a zenithal priming highlight.  This is a step where you take a lighter coloured primer, and hit it from above.  This gives the impression of a light source, such as the sun.  Even with a basecoat over top of that, the underlying gradients of primer would affect the tones of paint.

The zenithal priming was another good reason to forgo the unpainted version of the marine, as I had planned to prime with both black and white in the first place.  With a grey marine, I would still have needed to do all the same prep work with mould line and injection point removal, and prime over top of the median grey primer with black and white.  In essence, buying the unpainted / grey primered marine would have saved me zero work (and wouldn't have saved me any money either, from what I've seen of the comparative prices).

I decided that I wanted my light to come from above, and slightly to the right.  A few really quick, really light passes from a can of GW white spray primer did the trick.

This meant that the model would be bathed in light from a certain angle.

And cloaked in shadow from the opposing angle.

The back would be similarly affected, although I intended to do a bit of light highlighting in the brush painting stage later, to simulate a small bit of light reflecting back up from the ground.

To give the whole thing a bit more contrast and definition (always a good thing when trying to make a tiny model somewhat resemble true to scale with a 8 foot tall armoured badass), I went in with a traditional brush and added some more white to the areas that needed more highlighting, and a bit more black to the areas that needed deeper and more pronounced shadows.

No need to take too much time at this stage.  My marine was not going to end up with white armour, so this wasn't going to be the final product.  I probably could have gone with rougher highlights and shading, as the subsequent stages of painting were going to smooth things out anyway.  This stage is often part of what is commonly called, "sketch-style", where you speed paint in rough colours and tones.  This is an early stage of painting, where you experiment with placement of light and colours, and can readily change direction if needed.  It helps to see how things WILL go, and get a sense of the final product, without having to make changes at the very end.

Speaking of colour, I hadn't yet decided on what Chapter of Space Marine this little guy was going to be.

I thought about doing him up as an Ultramarine, as blue is a very easy colour to work with.  It's one of the simplest colours to shade and highlight, and it has fantastic properties on the wet palette (smooth, and predictable, with great opacity, while still being easy to thin down to glaze consistency).  However, as he started off as an Ultramarine, I didn't want people assuming that I just added shades and highlights and weathering to the Funko Pop figure right out of the box.  That seemed like a waste, considering the amount of work I put in just to get to this stage.  And I wanted him to "Pop!" (pardon the pun) while he was on display.

Blood Angels or Blood Ravens were also briefly considered, as I have a lot of experience painting red (my main Warhammer 40K army is a Sisters of Battle one, of the Bloody Rose order).  The problem with red is that it's difficult to highlight well... mix too much white, and it comes out looking pink.  Mix too much yellow, and it comes out looking orange.  You can use flesh or bone instead, which works better, but it's still de-saturated in tone if used too liberally.  The fix if you overhighlight is to knock it back with a few layers of red glaze... which works really well, but adds extra time to the project.

I've also been toying with the idea of doing up my own chapter in a Jade Green colour scheme.  Eons ago, I entered a White Dwarf "Design Your Own Space Marine Chapter" competition that was hosted by the North American branch of that magazine.  My samurai themed "Spirit Dragons" chapter ended up placing 2nd, just after another samurai themed entry.  It wasn't the paintjob that did it for me so much, as the extensive background I wrote for them (originally descended from a small contingent of pre-Heresy World Eaters that was originally thought to be lost in the Warp, only to be discovered on a remote system far removed from the Imperium.  Their descendants had overcome the rage of their forebears, and somehow survived and evolved thanks to the planet's population of Dark Age era pioneers).

In fact, you can see a painted test model in the above pics, next to the Funko Pop figure.

Jade Green was also something of a theme for me as a miniature painter, as I tried using it as a signature colour back when I was working at GW.  At the time, I had noticed that Jade Green was one of the paints in the range at the time that probably sold the least.  I made it my mission to incorporate Jade Green into every paintjob I did at the time, and my friends came to recognise my work by looking for that colour.

That being said, this was going to be a standalone display model, not something to incorporate into a future playable army.  That meant that I was free to pick and choose any colour and chapter that I wanted.  And one existing chapter that I had a real soft spot for was the Imperial Fists.

The first Warhammer 40,000 novel I ever read was, "Space Marine" by Ian Watson (published in 1993).  It had a huge impact on me, and firmly cemented my love of the 40K universe.  After that, I scoured every GW publication for every tiny shred of background on this chapter and its primarch, Rogal Dorn.  All I could fine at the time was a blurb in the original Adepticus Titanicus rulebook mentioning that they took part in the siege of Terra, and a quote by Rogal Dorn:

"Camouflage is the colour of cowardice."

Fitting, considering that his Space Marine legion wore bright hazard yellow armour, don't ya think?

Yellow would make my Funko Pop figure really stand out, and it would bring back warm, fuzzy feelings of nostalgia of the days of playing 40k with my original Space Marine army back in 2nd edition, while listening to Nirvana, Garbage, and the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack.

The only issue is that yellow is also a tricky colour to paint.  Most hobby-grade yellows have very low pigment strength, which often means using many, many layers to get a good depth to it (it was once explained to me that yellow is one of the more expensive pigments for companies to use, so they use less of it in cheaper paint ranges).  However, using an airbrush to lay down the basecoats would help alleviate this issue somewhat, as that tool is very efficient in laying down even layers easily and efficiently when compared to a bristle-brush.

As you can see, the yellow went over top of the zenithal priming well, and it was still easy to discern the shades and highlights.  The unfortunate thing about using yellow was that it doesn't go over black that well, and in some of these photographs (under certain cool lighting), it comes off with a tiny hint of green in the shadows for some reason.

For this reason, I went back in with a bit of brown glaze in the airbrush, and warmed things up a bit in certain areas.

I found this to be a bit more eye-pleasing.  While traditionally yellow is considered a "warm" colour, and green a "cold" one, I found that the thin layer of airbrushed yellow over white came out very cold in tone.  Cold-on-cold wasn't what I was going for... it's often better to ramp up contrast by using the natural tendencies of warm and cold to offset each other on the same figure, thus highlighting the properties of each.  Going back in with browns to warm up the shadows gave me the contrasts I was looking for, and I planned on exaggerating the effects with more brown in the later brush stages.

The other thing was that all this airbrushing and spray painting gave the model a very granulated and speckled effect.  This was from how the paint atomized in mid air, settling on the model as a fine layer of dots.  This is one of the drawbacks of air painting... too much uniformity and even-ness makes it look artificial and not "organic" like hand-brush painting.  I wanted to give it more life, and planned on addressing this with the trusty sable brush in the next few stages.

Speaking of which, stay tuned for part III, where I get really artsy with a brush!

Friday, 14 June 2019

Repainting a Funko Pop Primaris Intercessor Space Marine : Part 1, Unboxing and Prepping the Figure

Funko Pop, makers of those iconic pop culture vinyl figures, just recently released a number of licensed models of Space Marines.  The minute I saw the pictures in the press release, I started thinking... what could this look like with a repaint?

Well, there was only one way to find out.

There are four options, an Ultramarine, Blood Angel, Dark Angel, and a Space Wolf.  After a quick look at Pinterest, I saw a few examples of repainted Pop figures.  Most of the faces looked a bit off to me, so I decided against the Dark Angel and Space Wolf (at least, until a later date).  That narrowed the choice to the Blood Angel Assault Marine, and the Ultramarine Intercessor Primaris Marine.

I decided on the Primaris Marine.  It had a nice agressive look to it, and something about it really invited some special attention.

Well, having never owned a Funko Pop figure before (I always joked that they had the proportions of a fetus), I was curious to see what an unboxing looked like.

It's an attractive package, with a great cutaway so that you can see what the actual figure looks like.  And it was nice to see the familiar Warhammer 40,000 logo at the top.

Pics of all four 40K options on the back.  Looking at the pic of the Dark Angel in particular, I'm glad I didn't pick that one... I can't see how I'd repaint that without making it look like someone put a Dark Angels Halloween costume on a baby.  It would be a fine display figure on its own, especially to existing Funko Pop fans, but it's not my first choice for a repaint.

Inside the box, a vacuum-formed piece of clear plastic suspended it in place, and protected it from shipping damage.

Freed from the packaging, I was surprised at how top-heavy the figure was.  The body feels hollow, while the head does not.  That being said, the model was not tippy at all.  The weight was very well centered, and it stands very steadily on its tiny feet.

While it was a relatively clean cast, you could definitely notice the mold lines and injection points when viewed from the sides and underneath.  Funko did an excellent job of situating them so that you couldn't really tell from viewed face-on though.

Standing next to a newer Chaos Space Marine, and an older era Loyalist Marine, you can really get a sense of the size of this figure.  No one is going to be using Funko Pop figures as proxy gaming miniatures any time soon.

Close up, the mold line is obvious from the side and top.  Let's hope the vinyl material is nice and easy to file smooth...

There's another mold line along the side of the hip armour plates.  In addition to that, there's a nasty mold injection point under the forearm, which looks like the piece was torn from a sprue instead of cleanly cut.  But kudos to Funko, as both these points are carefully placed out of sight of any viewer who is looking at the front of the model.

The feet are recessed to some degree.  Perhaps it's to accommodate the raised lettering?

Again, there are some injection points and mold lines, which are only visible when viewed from unusual angles.

The bottom of the head is a separate flat piece, and the join has some burrs that need cleaning.  Perhaps the head was not solid after all?

I finally got to work filing the figure, starting with that mold line on the top and side of the head.  To my immense relief, the material seemed to file fairly well.  I've had issues trying to file Reaper Bones figures, and some of the plastic Warmachine figs as well.  The problem with those models was that the plastic was more of a toy rubber, with a distinct skin that was a completely different consistency than the rest of the mini.  The result was that it tended to tear when I tried to file away mold lines, rather than abrade away predictably like GW or model kit plastic.

The body seemed to be made of a slightly softer vinyl than the head, which meant that the filing wasn't going too smoothly.  After using a needle file to get the rough work done, I went back in with a fine grit sandpaper (the sanding sticks used for fingernails seemed to work, and were available for cheap at the local dollar store).

I know... it seemed a bit much, considering that these lines and points were located in areas that would not be visible from most angles.  However, I couldn't help it.  I would know they were there, even if other people might not.  And considering the amount of time I would be putting into painting this project, it would really bother me in the end if I could turn the figure and see big imperfections sticking out from underneath the paint.  However, despite all my best efforts, I knew ultimately I was going to miss a few spots, especially given how unfamiliar I was with this model, and how it was put together (that's one advantage of a traditional model kit you build from a sprue... you know where all the mold and injection points are).

There was a faint mold line at the lower corner of this shoulder plate, as well as one along the accordion fold inside the elbow.  Filing the body sections reveals that, while the head is made of a light grey resin with paint overtop, the body parts are actually made from blue injection molded rubbery plastic.

The fingers need a bit of tidying up, and there's a large injection point along the bottom of the bolter magazine.

The bolter itself has a faint mold line running along the top and sides.

The arms have mold lines, which are visible when viewed from below.

And the backpack has a mold line running all around it as well.

Well, it's now time to consider basing.  Not only will this elevate the figure in the display case, but it will give me something to hold on to while painting it.  Bases also minimize the chances that someone will handle the model itself when the pick it up, which could damage the paintjob through wear and tear.  Lastly, if you think of a painted model in the same terms as a painting, a nice base acts like the frame... it sets everything off nicely, and just makes the whole thing a little bit classier.

I grabbed a nearby paint can lid, checked the sizing against the Funko Pop figure, and decided it would suffice.  Not the fanciest podium in the world, but it was free, and I like recycling things into modelling supplies whenever I can.

With how heavy the Funko Pop figure is, and considering how flexy the spray cap was, I knew superglue was not going to cut it in terms of securing the model to the base.  I grabbed some tools and household screws, and figured that would work best.

I wanted to make some pilot holes where the screws would go.  This would minimize the chances of damaging or warping the model and base as the screws went in.  In order to determine what size drill bit would work best, I lined up a few against the screws I intended on using, and found one that was approximately the same diameter as the body of the screw, not including the threads.  This would allow the screw to go in easily, but still allow for the threads to bite down and grip.

Figuring out where to place the holes was going to be a challenge.  You could try and simply eyeball the placement, but I decided to play it safe and try using paint to line up the holes.  When mating two parts up to each other for pinning parts, you dab a bit of paint on one end, then press it against the other part while the paint is still wet.  That leaves a residue on both ends, and lets you know where to put the holes.

In this case, the recessed flat areas of the feet would not allow for that.  I would have to create some sort of bridge.  I made two tiny balls of bluetac, and painted those.  That seemed to do the trick.

With all the holes lined up, it was quick and easy to screw the model to the drop of the cap.  Just as predicted, it turned out VERY secure.  During the process of drilling the pilot holes into the feet, I noticed that the legs were indeed hollow.  Despite that, there seemed to be just enough material there for the screws to do their job.

Well, the Funko Pop Primaris Intercessor Space Marine was now prepped and ready for paint.  It was time to see how well a coat of primer would stick to it, and what challenges lay ahead of me during the painting process.

To be continued in part 2, priming and painting!

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Repurposing Wet Palette Papers into a Work of Art

Came across these pics on the Eavier Metal Facebook page, and I gotta say I love this idea!

"Darren Vancouver" framed a number of his wet palette papers, and I think he turned them from something we normally toss into the garbage into something that looks great on the wall of a home.

The thing is, I wonder if any non-painters would understand what this was.  Regardless, considering that most homes nowadays are done up in a basic builders shade of grey or beige, this work of art is a welcome hit of colour against all that neutral.

He referred to this as his "Brettonian Army in Abstract".  I think that's a pretty good title.  It would be interesting to see what the same idea would look like, if it was for a Chaos Nurgle army, or 40K Dark Angels army... likely VERY different!

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Warhammer World : My Pilgrimage to Nottingham and GW HQ part 3

Welcome back to my 3rd and last part of my trip to Nottingham and GW HQ, circa 2017.

Upon leaving the huge "Battle for Angelus Prime" mega-diorama room, I returned to the Warhammer 40k hall to look at more regular sized large dioramas (which is to say, they would have been massive in any other context than Warhammer World).

And also the plethora of display cases of showcase paintjobs.

The above Eldar flyer has a special place in my heart.  When I first saw this paintjob featured in a Forgeworld catalogue, I knew I had to replicate it one day.  I got my chance soon afterwards, when a client had commissioned me to paint up the same model, and I decided to do an "homage" (ie blatant rip off, with just a few extra details so you could tell them apart).

Eldar super heavy flyer, by Kelly Kim (see the extra flames on the wingtips?)
It's not a particularly difficult paintjob to do, but it is incredibly time consuming.  I recommend brewing up a good size pot of tea beforehand, setting up a few hours worth of tunes, and try to zen out while freehand painting and individually highlighting all those scales.

I followed it up immediately afterwards with a much smaller Eldar grav tank in the same scheme, which I took across the border to Conflict Seattle ("Conflict" was a mini-Games Day that GW put together in various cities across Canada and the US for a time).  It managed to win the Best of Show award, the Conflict equivalent of the Slayer Sword.

Anyway, enough of my lousy paintjobs... back to Warhammer World 2017:

At the time, I believe GW was just about to release a mess of new plastic Genestealer Cult models, and I was thrilled to see them in person.  Just about anyone who was familiar with the ancient lead Genestealer Cultist models of the 90s was probably feeling the same.

All the subtle chipping and heat scorching really gives this model a real lived-in feel

Check out the really nice dust effects on the terrain!

Now, have a close look at how the flesh was done on the above hybrid.  Pretty simple shading / blacklining in the recesses, with a hint of highlighting elsewhere.  For marketing purposes, this does the trick... miniature gaming companies are often more concerned with showcasing the sculpted details... no more, no less.  However, it's often more popular among Continental European taught painters to emphasize each lump of muscle in the same way as a sphere... graduated highlighting to the top of the muscle, and graduated shading towards the bottom of the muscle:

Lozza the Protector, by Jay Martin

Conan, by Sergio Calvo Rubio

With this approach, there is much more volume and 3 dimensionality imparted to the muscle, and you are not as reliant on the ambient lighting to do the job for you.  Have a close look at the ab muscles in particular in the pic of Sergio Calvo's Conan above, compare it to the muscles of the Genestealer Hybrid in the pic before, and you'll see what I mean.

Both are excellent, of course, but the Euro approach is a bit more "painterly", and definitely more time consuming to do.  Neither is "wrong". As always, choose what works for you (but why not try both if you are daring enough?).

Simple, clean, gorgeous.

All this acrylic glass kind of reminds me of a giant fish tank

Looks like a power generator, transplanted from the Rebel base on Hoth

The final set of doors meant we were departing the Warhammer World exhibit halls.  Not that it meant that the model goodness was at an end, as we then went into the giant gaming hall.

Battles were in full swing, and it looked like people were having a really great time.

With tables and terrain this gorgeous, no one here was about to sully them by playing with unpainted armies.  See my previous rant about bare metal / plastic armies here:

After admiring so many gorgeous gaming tables (and getting plenty of inspiration for the games room at home), it was time to head to Bugman's Bar and get some lunch and a pint of beer!

Now, one thing I really loved about going to pubs in the UK was how old they were.  Pubs in Canada are considered "old" if they have been around since the '80s.  Many of the pubs I visited in the UK were older than the nation I was born in, and have an incredibly substantial feel to them.  Bugman's bar unfortunately was far newer, and lacked the ancient feel of a true English pub, but it made up for it in interesting decor.

I have that exact same Imperial Knight print hanging in my man-cave.  These were available for purchase at the shop there.

That was all the pics that I managed to take with my puny little point and shoot camera.  My wife, who is the better photographer of the two of us, took the following pics with her DSLR.  Not being a gamer, or a miniature painter, her perspective and approach was a bit different than mine.

Finally, it was time to sit back, relax, and enjoy a pint of Bugman's XXXXX.  The food was fine, the chairs were comfy, and the decor was definitely to my liking.  While I was only able to spend a single day at Warhammer World, I am definitely hoping it won't be my last.  I can't wait until my next pilgrimage to these hallowed halls!